The 4 Life Lessons Of Seasonal Positions

Re-framing Your Thinking

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“You ought to be thrilled that you got a job in the mail room. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.”

                                                                                                                                                                              -Randy Pausch

Even if it’s just sorting mail or folding clothes at your local J-Crew, the littlest things can teach you the biggest things.

As the year winds down, It has been crickets around here. A major part of the reason is because balancing my part-time job as a seasonal retail associate along with my personal life and this blog has been a challenge. But this job has been an invaluable learning experience, even after just a few weeks. And that experience alone has made me realize the truth in Randy Pausch’s book when he said the following:

“No job is beneath you.”

Not that I didn’t believe him when I read that particular clause, but I have always found first-hand experience to be the best teacher. And while I don’t see myself working in retail forever, that’s not to say that there isn’t anything valuable to be learned from the experience.

Feeling Bad About Your Mistakes (And Apologizing Repeatedly) Doesn’t Help Others

 

This might be a “no, duh” sort of thing for some of us, but for me, it’s something that I’ve really had to learn.

Growing up going back and forth to Tokyo, I was surrounded by people who constantly apologized for everything, whether it was making a mistake while conducting a transaction with a customer in a bank or accidentally bumping into someone at the train station as they rushed to get to where they needed to be.

This is not to say that you should not apologize for your mistakes, but your energy would be better spent learning what you did wrong, how to correct it, and putting effort toward avoiding that mistake in the future.

Feeling bad about something that’s already happened doesn’t allow you to go back in time and change the circumstances or the mistake itself. Taking the experience and applying it so that you can avoid mistakes in the future shows people that you are flexible, and that you pay attention to detail. And you’ll save your employer and co-workers plenty of headaches.

Sometimes You Just Have to Say No (Or Ask People To Wait)

 

I once read a quote somewhere that said, “A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.”

I was raised to be a people pleaser. I learned to fear authority figures, especially those who raised their voices at me. I thought that the easiest way to be of service to people was to never say no when they asked me for things, especially when you’re providing a service or product to a customer. I did things not because I genuinely wanted to, but because I wanted to avoid getting into trouble. And because I wanted to please people so badly, they were able to manipulate me and push me around.

Looking back on my life, this pattern has been prevalent. I am the kind of person who wants to jump into something the minute you ask for it. But I realize that by continuing that pattern, I’m not setting boundaries for myself. Not only that, but I’m not providing good customer service to others.

Asking people to wait is never a bad thing. Sometimes you need to do it. Yes, providing prompt (and quality) customer service is important. But sometimes you need to ask people to wait. You’ll be able to answer questions for thoroughly and avoid feeling like a dog being pulled on a leash.

When you feel like a dog being pulled on a leash, you can’t do your job very well. And when you can’t do your job very well…we all know how that goes. You were hired for a reason. And as an employee, you are expected to do the job (no matter how menial the task is) to the best of your ability, and to the company’s standards.

And if that means asking customers to wait instead of answering their questions while you’re assisting someone else, than so be it.

Some People Will Be Rude, No Matter What You Do (But The Things They Say Have Nothing To Do With You)

 

I’ve said it before, but some people could just be straight up rude. No matter how courteous you are, it doesn’t mean that that courtesy will be reciprocated. And yes, for a sensitive person (like yours truly), it can take a while to shake off.

You have no control over how others treat you. What you do have control over is your reaction. So the next time someone snaps at you, swallow that snippy retort. Yes, easier said than done, coming from a self-proclaimed no-filter kind of girl. But there is a big difference. You are not with your BFFs having a girls night; you are in a professional working environment. And there are rules of etiquette that need to be followed.

Take Your Time

In today’s day and age when we get irritated if the Internet loads in 5 minutes instead of 5 seconds, we’ve become used to multitasking, trying to do everything at once.

But here’s the thing: rushing allows you to make mistakes. And mistakes often create more work for those around you. Taking your time allows you to ensure that you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability. And when you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability, customers can see that.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wait for something of quality rather than have someone rush through something and have a not-so-stellar final product.

Randy Pausch may never have gotten to play in the NFL, but football taught him valuable life lessons; you may not earn a Grammy or an Olympic medal, but that doesn’t mean that your experience (whether it be a seasonal job, internship, or quest to earn an Academy Award) counts for nothing. There are lessons to be learned wherever you are in life; you just have to be open to them.

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Currently I’m Loving ( Vol. 9)

Currently I'm Loving

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Yes, that is a bear on a cookie. Cute, no?

Writing has always been my source of therapy, and according to this piece, writing is good for you. There’s always been something liberating about it. A blank page doesn’t judge you. And that’s the best feeling in the world.

I studied the evolution of pop music as a communications major in college. It’s always interesting to see social sciences studies, particularly those involving music. One of my final projects was to do a short paper on the evolution of pop music from the 60s to present day. This article only confirms my hypothesis, although it’s not a difficult conclusion to draw.

I am currently searching for a job, like so many recent college grads. This article has some great tips for getting experience when you have none.

 

As much as I am looking forward to seeing Horns, this little gem made my week.

 

What have you been loving this week? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Halloween!

How To Prevent Your Self-Esteem From Taking You On A Roller Coaster

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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(Originally posted on Hello Perfect)

With all the Insta-pics, tweets, and Facebook status updates, we look like we’ve got everything together. But sometimes, despite all appearances, the reality is far from put together.

In a recent article, author Sarah Varney shared the story of Carlos, a formerly overweight man, to illustrate the idea that despite the fact that someone looks healthy on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t battle past demons.

You can lose the weight. You can put on makeup. You can get surgery. But sometimes the external changes aren’t enough. Sure, having a great body is good for your self-esteem, but if you base your self-esteem solely on the media’s standards of beauty…well, you’ve seen what happens to girls who do that.

If you base your self-esteem on external factors, you’ll find your self-esteem speeding up and down faster than Roadrunner chasing Coyote. The key is to build your self-esteem from the inside out. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time building a solid foundation instead of chasing after my self-esteem like a beginner runner trying to run a 5k.

Cut Out Media

 

Yes, you did just read that. Yes, I know Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model are as addicting as Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream. But if you cut media out of your life (notice that I didn’t limit it to stuff you see on screens?), you get a chance to focus on yourself rather than trying to reach what is most likely an unattainable “norm.”

If that sounds impossible, start small. Cut out one reality show one week. Throw away those old issues of Vogue that are gathering dust on your desk. Watch one episode of Game of Thrones instead of holding a marathon and chowing on popcorn in the process. Media can be fun, but too much of it can be so damaging to your self-esteem.

Talk To Someone

 

            Yes, this goes against my entire do-not-rely-on-external-factors argument, but hold on for a second and hear me out. We are humans, not robots. We can’t do everything ourselves. We run out of steam so fast that it’s not even funny. That’s where talking to someone can help.

Now, when I say someone, I don’t mean anyone. I mean someone you trust. Someone doesn’t need to bring you down to make herself feel better. You might not be a chatterbox, but here’s the thing. The longer you keep your lips zipped, the bigger your problems get. Talking to someone can give you some perspective. You might realize that the thing you’re obsessing over, which seems like the worst thing on the planet a few hours ago, is actually the most insignificant detail in the world.

You don’t need to disclose your entire life story. Just tell someone that you’re having issues, and you need a pick-me-up. Sometimes all you need is a little pick-me-up (that is not in the form of tiramisu) to make you feel better and boost your self-esteem.

 

Focus On What You Do Well

 

I’m not going to pull a Louise Hay and go all self-help book on you, but sometimes we actually do need to focus on what you do well. Do you cook a mean spaghetti with meatballs? Take note of that. Are you the resident Miss Organization that everyone turns to because they know that you won’t lose anything you give them for safekeeping? Write that down. Positivity attracts positivity. Focusing on what you have and what you do well instead of what you don’t have brings more positive things into your life.

And who doesn’t want that? The best part about that is the fact that you can pull out your Things I Do Well list and look at it (if lists are your thing). You can keep adding to it. When you actually take a step back and look at it, I have a feeling that you’ll discover that you’re actually pretty darn talented.

Give Yourself Time To Let Steam Off

 

            If you’re feeling overwhelmed with things, excuse yourself. No, I can’t give you a machine where you can press the pause button on life, but you can voluntarily remove yourself from situations that aggravate you. The more you suppress your emotions, the more the steam builds. And the more you suppress your emotions, the more your self-esteem will suffer.

Let off steam in the best way for you. Write in a journal if that’s your thing. Go run a couple miles in the park if that’s your thing. Do whatever it is you need to do to let off steam. The worst thing you can do when you’re trying to boost your self-esteem is to ignore your emotions. You’ll just feel worse about yourself if you do. No one wants that, right?

How To Glow With Good Self-Esteem

Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

 

howtoglowwithgoodselfesteem(Originally published on Hello Perfect)

I was the girl in school who was picked last for any game involving a ball. While I was never yelled at for not getting an A on my report card, my family expected excellence. They often recounted their own childhoods, what they were doing when they were my age.

 

Those stories only served to make me feel like I was an ant being ground to a pulp under the heel of their favorite pairs of shoes.

 

I used that feeling of inadequacy to push me. I kept telling myself to look at people around me, to try to better them. In a structured, academic environment, it served me well.

 

Without the structure, I flailed. I had to build my self-esteem in a way that didn’t rely so much on external factors.

 

Intimidating?

 

Yes.

 

Impossible?

 

No.

 

How did I do it?

 

Cut Out Friends Who No Longer Serve You

 

We’ve all had that one friend who likes to make themselves feel better by bringing us down.

 

During my sophomore year in college, a friend from my hometown and I decided to be roommates. One we started living together, I quickly discovered that her sarcastic sense of humor that I had once loved was borderline cruel.

 

I started avoiding her while I was on campus and at home, even when she dropped the classic, “We should hang out,” because I knew that she made me feel inferior when I had no reason to feel that way.

 

I’m not saying that you need to have friends who tell you that you’re the cat’s meow every day; it’s good to have friends who challenge you. Sure, you might love that person’s sense of humor or the discussions that keep you engaged, but if you leave a get-together feeling crappy, they’re not worth keeping in your life.

 

Block that individual on all social media accounts. Erase their number. Sit down and talk to them if you can and make it clear that you don’t want to be friends with them anymore. You don’t have to go into the specifics about why if you don’t want to.

 

You’ll find that ridding yourself of toxic relationships makes you feel so much better about yourself.

 

Wear Clothes That Make You Feel Good

 

If you’re comfortable and confident in your clothes, people will sense that. They will be attracted to that easy confidence. But more than that, you will start to feel comfortable with YOURSELF, which goes a long when you’re developing self-esteem.

 

So if you absolutely KNOW that wearing a dress to a big event will make you want to vomit, even if you’re feeling pressured to wear one, don’t. Find something that flatters you and that you feel comfortable in.

 

If you spend an entire event worrying about how uncomfortable a garment makes you feel, you won’t be able to live in the present and enjoy the moment – and learning how to enjoy the moment goes a long way in helping to build your self-esteem.   

 

Create Your Own Standards

 

I’ve found that building your self-esteem can often mean refraining from subscribing to the standards of others. Such standards are often unrealistic.

 

In order to deal with my depression and keep it at bay, I exercise for an hour a day a few times a week. A good day for me is where my symptoms are controlled, when I’m not triggered by anything around me.

 

Sure, to some people, that might not be their definition of wellness. Some people go lift weights for an hour, go to a Pilates class, and finish with a run on a treadmill.

 

I may not work out to that extreme, but I can go to bed knowing that I’ve accomplished something, and that feeling goes a long way in helping me to build my self-esteem. Knowing that I’ve done the best I can for myself, without worrying about what other people expect, makes me feel pretty invincible.      

 

Do Things That Make You Feel Powerful

 

Doing things that make you feel powerful goes a long way in building your self-esteem. You stretch yourself. You do things you never thought you could do. That feeling that you get as you relish in an accomplishment? Hold on to it.

 

A few years ago, I traveled to Japan with a parent for a family event. My family wanted me to say a few words at the gathering. I was petrified, but I calmed down once I was assured that my speech didn’t need to be 15 minutes long.

 

The day of the event, I woke up a ball of nerves and with a stomach ache. I tripped and tottered my way through the crowded Tokyo streets to the restaurant, where more than 30 immediate family members greeted me.

 

Each one of them sitting at the giant table proceeded to give a “short” speech. As I listened to them, I could feel my face start to whiten. These speeches were not 2 minutes long.

 

They were 15 minutes long.

 

How was I supposed to give such a long speech in my second language with a stomach ache?

 

I started debating the option of delivering the speech in English. I knew I could do that for 15 minutes. Most of the people at the table spoke some English. They would be able to understand most of it. After all, it was the thought that counted, right?

 

All these thoughts went out the window after I registered the loud whispers being exchanged among my family.

 

“Is she going to do her speech in English?”

 

“Her Japanese wasn’t that good the last time she was here.”

 

When it was my turn, I delivered my speech entirely in Japanese.

 

Was I nervous?

 

Yes.

 

Did people laugh at me when I fumbled over my words?

 

Yes.

 

But the expression on my family’s faces as I put them in their place was worth the fumbling and the excruciating stomach pain. More importantly, I felt powerful. I had done something that I didn’t think I could do.

 

I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I now believed that I could do things that I didn’t think were possible.

 

You don’t have to make a 15-minute speech in a foreign language to feel powerful. You just need to push your boundaries, prove to yourself that you can do things you didn’t think you could. Building your self-esteem starts with small victories. Count them. Write them down.  As you grow and evolve, things around you will change. But those feelings of power and self-confidence will stay with you even after the things around you disappear.

 

How have YOU built up your self-esteem over the years?

How To Help Your Loved Ones Deal With Mental Illness

Culture & Society

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Last week, I publicly thanked my friends for saving my life. Messages poured in from friends and fellow bloggers. While I loved seeing the response the post generated, the most interesting comment I got was a question from a friend. She wrote the following:

 

“What did (or didn’t) your friends say that made a difference to you when you felt that way? What advice can you give us for how to respond, or just be, with friends who are in a similar way?”

 

Depression can be a tricky subject. Not everyone wears their emotions on their sleeve, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

 

helpinghand

 

Let Them Know That You’re There For Them

 

If you’re concerned about someone, or if you just want to say a quick hi, contact them. Text them. Call them. Sometimes a simple “Hi, how are you?” will be enough to save someone’s life.

You could say that it’s petty to care about little things like a text, but for some of us, the little things matter. They are proof that people care.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held off on reaching out for help because I was afraid of judgment. I was afraid that my girlfriends wouldn’t be able to handle what I had to say.

A month ago, I got very close to hurting myself. I told a girlfriend about it the next day and broke down in her car. She made it clear that she was willing to listen to me, and she asked me to contact her if I ever felt that bad again.

 

There are no adequate words to describe how grateful I felt.

 

If a friend is suffering from depression, make it clear that you’re willing to listen. It means the world to those of us who are in a bad place to know that we have someone who’s willing to listen to us, someone who thinks that we’re worth something.

 

Just Listen

 

If you’re anything like me, sometimes it can be difficult to restrain yourself and refrain from interjecting an opinion into someone’s conversation. But there is a time and a place for everything. And when someone’s in the middle of pouring out his or her heart…well…you know where I’m going with this.

Sometimes we don’t want to hear other people’s opinions; we just want someone to lend an ear.

 

Do NOT (under ANY Circumstances) say, “Just get over it.”

 

I hate the word “just” in any sentence, but I particularly hate it when the next three words are “get over it.” Depression (or any mental illness is not something that you can “just get over.” It is a daily battle.

I can’t speak for everyone, but whenever I have heard those 4 words, it’s only made me feel more isolated. And it’s precisely because people have felt isolated, like no one cared that they’ve turned to suicide.

 

Just don’t say it. Please. There are better ways to respond.

 

Not Everyone Responds The Same Way

 

One of the best things to keep in mind is that people will respond to your advice in different ways. Tailor your advice depending on your friend’s history and personality.

 

The best way I can explain this is to use me as an example. My friends know that I have had an unimpressive track record with my attempts at therapy. They tend to offer me practical advice, like writing in a journal, or listening to music, things they know I will actually do instead of saying, “You should go into therapy.”

 

Some people respond well to things like, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “ The best is yet to come,” but I don’t. If you can’t tell, platitudes take the number 1 spot on my 10 Things I Hate The Most list (along with olives).

 

We’ve all heard about the power of words. When you have a loved one dealing with depression or any other mental illness, they become even more important. What you say can have a lasting effect on someone. I don’t care if the thing that bothers you was said a day ago or a decade ago.

 

We all respond to love, though. Just show us that we’re loved in the best way you know how.

 

What’s the most helpful thing someone has said to YOU when you hit rock bottom?

 Image Credit

The 5 Best Things You Need To Know After College

Culture & Society, Re-framing Your Thinking

 

WhatIWishIHadKnown

Hey you 2014 college grads,

 

You did it!

 

No more all-nighters, nail-biting finals, no more books…OK, I’ll lay off the Alice Cooper.

 

When I was 8, I thought that by the time I graduated college, I would have everything figured out.

That I would win the Olympic gold medal in figure skating.

That I would go off and travel through Europe for a year.

I didn’t have any plan beyond that. I thought I would have figured it out a little more by that time. I mean, that’s 14 years to figure out what you want to do right? More than a decade should be plenty of time.

 

Well the 8-year-old me was very wrong (and I mean that in the nicest possible way).

 

I did not win Olympic gold and go on tour with Stars on Ice.

 

I did not backpack through Europe once I left college.

 

But I HAVE learned a lot since walking through my beautiful campus for the last time; I’m putting this out there because all of this is stuff I wish I would have heard before I threw my cap into the air like this:

 

graduation-caps-250x250(Image Credit: Google Images)

 

 

 

  1. You Don’t Have To Take Every Opportunity That Comes Your Way

 

Right after I left college, many of my friends went abroad again to teach English.

Amongst the many shouts of “You should go!” I decided to walk away from it and look for other opportunities.

I could almost hear people wondering why I walked away from something that seemed tailor made for me. I spoke Japanese. I was a Communications major. I liked to travel. It seemed like a “No duh,” sort of move.

 

I gave up other opportunities because I realized that I was less excited for the opportunities themselves than for the perks attached to them.

 

Do I regret some of the choices I made?

 

Yes.

 

But I can’t change the past. So why stay stuck?

 

 

  1. Taking Time To Decompress Is Okay (So Long As You Don’t Turn Into A Couch Potato)

 

Let’s get real here:

 

When you get down from post-graduation euphoria, you’ll probably be greeted by the question, “So what’s next?”

 

Over.

 

And over.

 

And over again.

 

But come on. You just graduated.

 

Sure it was fun. But it was also really, really hard.

 

There are things you’re going to miss; there are things you aren’t going to miss as much.

 

You’ve earned a little break. Take a minute to digest what you just did, celebrate your accomplishment.

 

College is not a breeze (or at least, it wasn’t for me).

 

That diploma represents every all-nighter, exam, essay, and project you ever completed. Top that off with every friend, every experience you had.

 

Not so light now, huh?

 

It’s okay for you to take some time to recover. It’s going to feel strange. But the uncertainty can be really exciting, too.

 

Because now YOU can take advantage of the other amazing opportunities around you.

 

So go seize yours.

 

 

  1. Rejection Isn’t A Reflection Of You

 

So let’s face it. Unless you’re really proactive and got a job right out of school, you’re going to be applying to hundreds of jobs.

 

You’re going to spend hours tweaking your resume and personal statements making them just right.

 

And you’re going to be told no.

 

 

And there will be a point where you’ll probably run out of steam.

 

Because looking for a job is a full-time job in itself.

 

After a while, I was starting to wonder if I had a neon sign over my head that said, “Do not hire me.”

 

It was hard not to take those rejections personally. After all, I had spent a lot of time on my application materials.

But it wasn’t until I heard Jia Jiang speak at a conference in Portland that I changed my thinking. Or at least shifted it.

 

He said:

 

“Rejection is nothing more than someone’s opinion and preference. It says as much about the person who gives the rejection as the people who receive it.”

 

I’d say that’s worth remembering as you’re staring wide-eyed at a pile of applications that puts your thesis textbooks to shame, wouldn’t you?

 

Every step you make in your career is a stepping stone, preparing you for bigger and better things.

 

 

  1. (Fill-in-The-Blank) Is The Thief of Joy

 

 

Say it with me now:

 

Comparison.

 

After I graduated, I took a temporary break from social media because it was giving me a lot of fodder for comparisons.

 

My friends were going abroad and getting jobs. And here I was trying to work through personal issues going from one failed treatment to the next. I was comparing myself to them, beating myself up in my head saying, “I should have a job by now.” I should this, I should that. It was relentless.

 

Temporarily disconnecting myself from social media took away that ammunition, and it was blissful.

I still take breaks from my personal Facebook page every now and again when I feel myself getting overwhelmed. It helps me focus on the outside world and it stops comparisons in my head, at least temporarily.

 

It can be tempting to beat yourself up because you see a friend getting a job faster than you, or doing things you want to be doing.

 

The best advice I can give is to set goals for yourself. Work a little each day toward your goal of finding a job. You won’t get one instantly, but it’s a lot more satisfying to know that you’re putting the work in.

 

 

  1. It’s OK Not to Know

 

Yes, ladies and gents, it’s okay to say “I don’t know yet.”

 

You are not your parents. You think differently; you do things differently. You don’t have to do everything their way to make them happy.

 

Parents (especially Asians) have trouble digesting this fact. Sure, they want the best for you. But sometimes their definition of “best” differs from yours.

 

Sure they’re doing their best, but sometimes it’s not enough. You’re growing up; there will be a day where you will have to do everything for yourself.

 

Some would say not knowing what to do is scary. Others would say that that’s where the fun is.

 

You don’t have to know where life will take you because it sometimes throws you loopholes. You will take detours.

 

Experiment. Put yourself out there to find out what really lights a fire under your butt.

 

Scary?

 

Absolutely.

 

Worth it?

 

You get to decide.

 

College grads, sound off in the comments below and let me know what you wish you had known when you walked off that stage?