The 4 Life Lessons Of Seasonal Positions

Re-framing Your Thinking


“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.


We Are All Warriors. Every Day.

Culture & Society

I was racking my brains for what to write for today. I wanted to write this glowing post to honor World Suicide Prevention Day.

And then I realized something.

The reason why I couldn’t write that glowing post wasn’t because I had writer’s block. It was because I felt like everything I had to say on the subject had already been said.

I am not at that point in my recovery where I can believe that no one else can play my part. I’m at that place where I’m struggling to find the balance with living life and relying on my story as fuel. I went from not sharing my story at all to sharing it very publicly. And now I’m trying to find that middle ground.  Recovery is a daily process. It’s battle we fight every day. Everyone goes through pain. Pain and disability do not make us special. We are ALL warriors.





The 3 Most Important Things You Can Learn From Trying To Live A Remarkable Life In A Conventional World

Re-framing Your Thinking



Who was your favorite Disney character growing up?   Yes, I know I’ve asked this question before; I know I’ve said I wanted to be Ariel. But Beauty and the Beast always had a special place in my heart.   Yes, part of it was because I wanted to live in that giant library in Prince Charming’s castle (because let’s be honest, what bookworm doesn’t?)   But it was also because I found myself relating to Belle, even when I was 5. I knew there was something more for me out there. I knew there was “something more than this provincial life.” Enter 2013, where I finally found a conference called the World Domination Summit that attempts to answer the question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”   A conference that answers this question? In my favorite city in the United States? Yes, please! I went. And it was magical. So naturally, I had to go again.


And boy was it a roller coaster ride. Last year’s conference taught me a ridiculous amount. This year was no exception.


Expectations Usually Make Things Worse  


I admit it: I had impossibly high expectations going into this event. And then the structure changed. Not drastically, but enough to throw me. I kept comparing things from this year to last year. And although I loved the quiet time the big breaks allowed us (and the opportunity to go around my old stomping grounds), I wasn’t able to stay present, and enjoy the ride in some instances.   You would think that after my trip to Australia in 2012, I would have learned to expect the unexpected, but I guess the universe decided I needed another lesson.   So thank you, universe.    


People Want To See You Succeed  


I had always been afraid to say what I wanted. You could chalk it up to growing up in a bilingual house. In Japan, it’s not considered polite to be direct. There’s a lot of beating around the bush. And despite the fact that I don’t live in a place where there are bullet trains and cherry blossoms every March, I absorbed some very collectivist values.

On one level, I was not afraid to tell my friends what I wanted.

My friends know that I want to:

a)    Work and live in London as a content creator.

b)   Travel internationally and live abroad (in cities like Portland, Melbourne, London and Tokyo and other international locations) inspiring kids to believe that they can overcome any sort of obstacles they face, especially in the realm of mental health

c)    Use writing and media for good to help erase the stigma surrounding mental illness and build kids’ self-esteem.

d)   Be paid to do all this.

It’s one thing to tell your close friends about your dreams when they know that you’ve been traveling since before you knew what a passport was. But to tell every person that you met when they asked “So what do you do?” was a little different, even if you believe that everyone around you was just a friend you hadn’t met yet. I was floundering in my head for a good answer.   So rather than just going with the title that I gave myself on my business card, I told people what I wanted to do: I wanted to be paid to use writing and other creative mediums to inspire kids and help erase the stigma around learning differences and mental health all over the world.   That’s a lot more interesting and inspiring than just telling people what you do, don’t you think?

In the words of Elise Blaha Cripe (and I am fully aware that I may be paraphrasing): If you make a bold statement (like the one I just made above), it’s on someone else’s radar.   And if it’s on someone else’s radar, chances are that when they come across something that could potentially help make that dream a reality, they’ll pass the information on to you.   But you have to say your dreams aloud for that to happen.   And if you wait until you knew what you were doing, you would never do anything.

Because according to Amy Poehler, great people do things before they are ready.

At the very end of the conference, Chris pulled several people up on stage and gave them some incredible resources to make their dreams come true. He gave one attendee who wanted to write a book in 6 years the opportunity to meet with his literary agent; he gave one attendee 12 cameras for his non-profit. After hugs from the 6 attendees on stage, he closed with the following line (again, pardon the paraphrasing):   “We can’t make everyone’s dreams come true; but we have the responsibility to help each other get a little closer to the life we deserve.”  

I wholeheartedly agree.


Things Are Never The Same The Second Time Around  


They could be better.   Or they could be worse.   Chris Guillebeau and the rest of the team behind the World Domination Summit made some changes this year; for me, some of them stuck, some didn’t. But as Jadah Sellner would say, not all the pieces of spaghetti you will throw at the wall will stick.   The magic was just different in comparison to what I had experienced last year when I was grabbing at everything like a kid in a candy store with no expectations. Change is inevitable when you’re trying to improve. Sometimes those changes make lasting improvements; sometimes those changes make you backtrack. Some people will love the changes that you don’t really resonate with.   You just have to be insanely curious and find what sticks, and what doesn’t.   And if that means admitting that something isn’t working, that’s perfectly fine.   But taking imperfect action is better than doing nothing. You learn something new every time. Jadah Sellner summed this up perfectly in her speech when she said, “Letting go is hard. But holding on is like falling back on jet skis and being dragged around the lake.”  

I’d rather let go than be dragged around a lake, wouldn’t you?


These lessons weren’t the only thing I took away from the conference: I can now add World Record Breaker to my list of awesome, since I was one of the 808 people who baked themselves in the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square in the process of breaking a world record.   I was lucky enough to find my tribe in a city that I love, and an equally supportive group of friends to keep the spirit alive, even a few thousand miles away from the Pacific Northwest. For the past two years, I’ve had amazing people come into my life from all over the world. You may not have found your people, but they are out there. Keep looking, and you’ll eventually find them.   It’s worth the wait, I promise you.

What have YOU learned from hanging out with your tribe?

How To Turn the “No” in Your Head into a “Yes” and Get What You Want

Re-framing Your Thinking


(Image Credit: Pinterest)

What would you do if you could get out of the grind of your 9 to 5?

Don’t say you haven’t thought about it. I know you have.

Travel to Dubai? Work with animals in a shelter? Or would you write a film script that could make you the next Akira Kurosawa?

So how do you get from organizing the folding room at Macy’s (or any job for that matter) to landing a seat on the first flight to Dubai next summer?

You shift your perspective.

Wait what?

Yes, you read that right. It’s easier said than done. But it makes your life so much better. Screw the fact that the Huffington Post article that said you may have to wait potentially forever to be satisfied with your career. Screw the fact that nearly half of us graduates from 4-year colleges are in jobs that don’t require 4-year degree.

You CAN have that dream job. You CAN get that plane ticket. You CAN get that Olympic medal. You can have your dreams. Prove all the naysayers wrong by following these steps.


1.    Focus on Your End Goal


You’ve run a marathon right? What happens in the middle of it?

Your legs are burning; your breathing’s labored. Ducking under the barrier would be easy. Focusing on one step at a time may work for some, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

Keeping your eye on the finish line works too.

The same goes for jobs.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t like about what you’re doing, try to find things about the job you do like. Focus on what you’ll gain.

Athletes don’t get to the Olympics by closing their eyes and snapping their fingers. Yes, visualization is powerful, but it can only do so much. It takes practice. It takes sweat. It takes getting to practice every stinking day even if you want to curl up with your cat.

Will your choice get you to where you want to be even if it sounds like the LAST thing you’d want to be doing right now?

I recently accepted an internship as a content creator for a technology company. Pretty far off from my dream of working as in an international company based in London that inspires youth to overcome the challenges they’ve faced.

I didn’t like technology. I didn’t see how this could help me get there. The passion disappeared from my writing. It wasn’t until my boss recently called me out, and sat me down for a good chat (and by good chat I mean brutally honest discussion) that I woke up and smelled the espresso.

Focusing on what you’ll gain gives you motivation. It gives you a reason beyond having to pay the bills to get up in the morning when your alarm goes off.


2.    Take Time For Yourself


What do you think would have happened if you hadn’t gotten a lunch break during your first shift at your first part-time job? (Besides the store getting in trouble for breaking the law.)

What if you had been told to work all day every day like your life depended on it?

Yeah, I think I would pass out too.

This IS such a thing as working too hard.

It’s great to have goals, but balancing it out with different activities and your personal time is important. Having time for yourself gives you a chance to recharge. It allows your creativity to come forward. That creativity can help you produce your best work.

It’s not a crime to take time for yourself.


3.    Communicate


No, not spill-your-guts kind of communicate. The asking-questions when-you’re-confused kind of communicate. There is a time and place for that kind of communication and honesty, but it’s not always appropriate (especially when we’re talking careers).

Would you rather make sure you’re doing the right thing or make an assumption and have to spend extra time cleaning up your mess?

Yeah, I thought so.

Communication also helps people around you understand where you are in your head and how to help you. And we could always use an extra helping hand every now and again.


4.    Change The Voices In Your Head


Yes, I just stole that line from P!nk’s song.

Yes, it’s easier said than done. It takes time. I’m still working on mine.

But the things you focus on become more prominent in your life. Focus on the positive, and happy things will sneak into your life, probably when you’re not paying attention.

Who doesn’t like happy surprises?

Focus on the negative and the energy will draw unhappy things into your life.

At the risk of sounding very cheesy, I’m going to steal a quote from Peter Pan.

“Think happy thoughts.”

Yes, even when it seems like everything is just WRONG.


5.    Know That This is Not Permanent


Stand up. Back away from your computer screen. Or put your phone down, whichever device you’re using.

Okay, you can come back now.

Could you move?

Whether you did or didn’t is a completely different story. I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. I can’t reach through the screen to make sure you did since I’d be breaking the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The point is that no one FORCED you to stand up or drop your phone. You’re not permanently stuck in the chair you’re sitting in (or the job you have, the house you live in or the life you live). Nothing is permanent unless you make the choice to make it permanent.


 6.    Embrace Criticism


Criticism is like a mosquito bite.

It can bother us if we let it. Or we can put repellant on when we need to.

Criticism allows us to grow. It allows us to improve ourselves. It’s also a sign that the people giving you the criticism believe in your potential.

It feels good to have other people believe in you doesn’t it?

They want you to be better; they know you can be better.

Yes, sometimes it’s hard to hear the criticism because it feels like you’re being attacked, especially when you put a lot of time and energy into something. But I personally would rather swallow a bitter pill and come back a better version of myself than constantly be told how wonderful I am and never improve.

I’m not trying to tell you that you HAVE to embrace criticism. I’m not trying to pose a loaded question. You can choose what information to absorb. You can also choose what sort of information you want to forget. But shifting your perspective and embracing criticism go hand in hand from my experience.


7. Appreciate It (Whatever Your “It” May Be)


Find a painting. Get closer to it.


No, closer.

All you see are little swatches and splats of color right?

Now back away so you can see the whole thing.

Looks a lot better now huh?

Perspective is something that comes with time and distance.

I didn’t want to go to Australia to study abroad two years ago. I wanted to go to London. I did everything right, but I didn’t get in.

Australia turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

Not because I got to hold a koala.

Not because I got to see a play in the Sydney Opera House

Not because I got to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef

Because the experience showed me how much more I had to grow.

Because I started to get comfortable with pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted”


Armed with that experience you can do bigger and better things. You were meant to do more. Every experience you have is a stepping-stone, preparing you for the next one.  And you might get something better out of the detour.

I didn’t get to go to London this time, but that just means that when I do get to go there (and stay there for the long term) it’ll be that much sweeter.

What other tools do you use to shift your perspective?