Fake it Until You Make it

Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance. However, the thing about confidence is that you don’t have to be the smartest, prettiest, strongest, or most experienced person to have that feeling. In fact, you could be filled with complete bullshit, but as long as you seem sure about your bullshit? Then you’re confident.

Although the shy and introverted definitely make a huge impact on the world, the confident and the extroverted, are the ones we hear about. The dynamic CEO’s, the articulate politicians, or even that asshat at work who everyone listens to because he talks the loudest. Even though confidence is mostly excellent bullshit skills, the great thing is that those skills can be learned.

The best way to pick up a little confidence super-fast? Force it. Throw yourself into an uncomfortable situation so that you HAVE to be decisive and confident to figure it out, or perish.

The best personal example I can give is when I travel alone. First off, when I travel alone, even to the supermarket, if anything goes wrong, I’m the one that has to stand up for myself to figure it out. If my card doesn’t work at the store, I figure out how to pay. If the taxi driver wants to argue over the fare, I’ve got to argue back. If the airline messes up my booking, I have to make sure I get what I paid for.

Secondly, when I travel alone, I am completely responsible for all the social interaction I have. When I traveled alone for weeks at a time, I had to make a commitment to myself to talk to people. It was HARD. I am naturally not the most social and I definitely have a tough time making friends with absolute strangers.

The beginning of the trip went something like this: The first day I spent entirely alone. I had a good time but by the end, I had no idea how I would make it seven weeks completely solitary. The second day, I got up early and began exploring. I went to the first attraction on my list and saw a group speaking English. I actually tried to stay in their vicinity (i.e. stalked them) as I worked up the courage to say something, but I never did. I moved on to the next attraction and saw another group. I was alone and didn’t know what to say so I literally asked them for directions. I was literally so nervous my voice cracked (real smooth, I know). Thankfully, they invited me to explore with them (maybe they took pity on me), but either way, I ended up having a great time meeting new people and spending the whole day with them. After that, I realized the worst thing that could happen is that I didn’t get along with the people I talk to and had to find new ones.

Every city I went, it got easier and easier to talk to people and make friends. But see what I mean? If I hadn’t gone alone, and forced myself to either talk to people or be miserable, I might have never developed that skill. Even now, whenever it is still difficult for me, I can just think back to that instance and draw confidence from it.

Pushing yourself doesn’t have to be done through something as drastic as traveling alone though, it can be done through far more mild instances. Force yourself to make eye contact with your teachers so you get called on and have to answer more frequently. Go to a store you normally wouldn’t go into and ask the sales people lots of questions.

The most important tip I have for developing confidence? Do things ALONE as much as possible. Although our friends can hype us up and support us, we can also use them as a crutch. If you travel with a friend, you don’t have to meet anyone new. If you go to a new store with a friend, you don’t have to talk to the salesperson. It will be so much easier to talk yourself out of being uncomfortable when you’ve got a friend right there to use as a scapegoat.

Additionally, and maybe this is just me, when I try new things with friends, I am far more self-conscious. Even if it’s a trusted family member or best friend, I always feel a weird pressure to do this new thing (whatever it might be) the ‘right’ way. This is hard to explain but what I’m trying to say is, it feels far less embarrassing for me to look like a fool in front of people I don’t know. As soon as I bring a friend into the picture I become so much more careful and aware of looking ridiculous and therefore push myself less.

At the end of the day, confidence won’t just appear one day. It is cultivated over time. Developing confidence is a constant effort to keep pushing yourself to resolve situations that make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s gonna suck, and sometimes you’ll get embarrassed, but each time, you’ll feel stronger and more confident in yourself. You will find out what really is the ‘worst that can happen’ and once you deal with it, you’ll forget why you were ever scared in the first place.

 

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Candid Photos by: Clara Yu

 

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Am I a REAL Adult?

I’ve been a legal adult for almost five years now, but I’ve only really felt like an adult for about two years. I define an adult as someone who can truly take care of themselves, and own the responsibility for themselves and their actions. It can be pretty hard to make the transition because it feels like one day you don’t have a job and your parents handle all the important stuff, and the next day you’re dealing with four different insurance companies, your rent, the dentist, and your retirement plans (yay).

My friend Rachal writes a great blog (link here!), that details more of the trials and tribulations of being an adult, but today all I want to cover are the less glamorous aspects of adulting and where to start on handling them.

  1. Getting a job. I’ve written a whole post on getting jobs here, but basically being financially stable is going to be the crux of your adult life for a while. Having some sort of steady income to work with will be the first step in striking out on your own. Money can’t buy happiness but it CAN make you feel secure when moving away from your parent’s jurisdiction.
  2. Shelter. Assuming you don’t want to live under your parent’s roof anymore, the second step is, of course, finding someplace of your own. Most young adults I know opt for some sort of apartment or shared living situation. There can be a lot of things to consider here. First is rent, then you might have to get renter’s insurance. Then there are also all your utilities which may or may not be included (think water, gas, electric, sewage & trash bills), and your internet bill because of course none of us operate without wifi anymore. Luckily, if you choose apartment living, the apartment recommends companies for all of these, and if you opt for shared living, you have someone to help you research!
  3. The insurances. Hopefully, your job offers you some sort of health insurance package (see if it includes dental, vision, and mental), otherwise, you can probably stay on your parent’s plan until you’re 26 so don’t worry too much about that now. On the other hand, if you’ve got a car, you’ve got a car insurance payment. One trick you could use, is to buy your car under your parent’s name and pay your portion of the insurance to keep costs low. But if you’re on your own, just know that your premium will be a lot higher.
  4. The little things. All those little things your parents do that you take for granted? Yeah, now you’re responsible for those. You’re the one that is gonna buy your groceries, cook your food, clean your place, book your travel, schedule doctor’s appointments, take your car for oil changes, and stay on hold with the internet people when they are clearly overcharging you. I don’t know about you guys, but most of those I took completely for granted before moving out and becoming financially independent, but hey, if you’ve got these down, then you are in PRIME adulting condition.
  5. Retirement. I know, I know, you just started, how can you possibly think about retiring? Well, you MUST. I don’t want to preach at you but if you start saving now, even as little as 1% of your income, you will be much better off in the long run. And while you’re at it, make sure you get a Roth IRA plan. I prefer this one to other 401k plans because you will be taxed on the income you allocate to it today, which means when you withdraw it for retirement, you won’t be taxed on it! Pay now, relax later. That’s the idea.
  6. Emergencies. Unfortunately, the saying is true, shit does happen. And it WILL happen to you. When you are on your own, you will have to handle it. Someone will rear end you, or you will break your arm, or your debit card will get stolen, or an airline will lose all your luggage, or you’ll get stuck in a storm. Something terrible and unplanned will happen and it is important that you learn how to manage a crisis. Obviously, there are different ways to approach each one of the situations I described but the best advice I can offer is to KEEP CALM. This one is SO tough for me too, but crying, yelling, or freaking out in any way, will not help you. Breathe and promise yourself you can vent later, but now you gotta get it together (ProTip: always make sure you have a file containing your passwords for your important accounts, and identity information. Just create one, keep it someplace easily accessible, and you’ll thank me later)

Even though I just talked about all the things that kind of suck about being an adult, I do want to mention that being an adult is WAY better than being a kid. There were obviously some perks to the whole ignorance is bliss thing, but something I’ve learned since moving out and being financially independent is the sense of accomplishment I get from completing the mundane tasks I described above and from being completely responsible for myself…despite all the stress and hard work it takes. Maybe someday this feeling will go away because I’ll be too used to it, but for now, being an adult is actually pretty freaking great.

 

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Photography by the inimitable Clara Yu

 

Get Your Own Clique

Did you know that laziness is contagious? What about success? Of course these are not actual biological diseases but sometimes, they spread like they are.

Think about your friends for a moment. How would you describe them? I would describe mine as ambitious, effective, generous, and open-minded. That might sound boring to you, but it is completely by design. I’ve surrounded myself with people who are similarly minded to me and who also possess characteristics I aspire to.

However, sometimes people surround themselves with friends and acquaintances that hold them back. Behaviors are contagious. If all your friends stay out late every night, how long do you think it will be until you start staying out? If all your friends hate on your ideas for self-improvement, you might not stick with it… And so on and so forth.

This is something important to note about ‘successful’ people. They surround themselves with people who are experiencing or actually striving for similar success. Whether you define success as having a family, a happy relationship, or a billion-dollar company, their friends possess similar mindsets and they actually feed off of each other’s energy and improve in their respective goals.

This isn’t to say that all of your friends must be exactly like you, nor that you should carefully select them based on how successful they might make you. What you MIGHT want to consider, however, is being truer to yourself.

How will this help, you might ask? When you are honest with yourself and what you want, and consistently act in a way that is aligned with your goals, you will automatically attract similar people. For example, I have a really good friend from my freshman year of college. We got along pretty well from the start but where we really got close was at the gym. We both loved working out and put a priority on being fit and that provided the platform to solidify our friendship.

In a similar vein, I LOVE TV and movies, and I will talk about them with anyone who will listen. Lo and behold, I told an acquaintance about the show ‘Suits’ and when we watched the first few seasons together, we became best friends!

The point is, it can be silly or small, but don’t be afraid to own up to all aspects of your personality. Because once you realize and pursue your interests and goals, other people will recognize bits of their own aspirations in you and you will start to draw people that have similar mindsets. And the best part? No one is exactly the same! So even though you will attract people with familiar goals, they will be just different enough to make the friendship interesting.

 

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I love you guys, don’t hate me for using this heinous picture 🙂

 

 

I’m Homesick Already

My name is Melina, last week I moved to Calgary Canada, and I’m HOMESICK.

This probably doesn’t sound that surprising, but I’m honestly quite taken aback that this feeling came over me so quickly. I had been here for exactly two days and then we went grocery shopping at this huge grocery store, and let me tell you, it’s been a long time since I felt that helpless. I didn’t know where anything was, half the brands and food items I was used to weren’t there, or I couldn’t find them and I just felt this unbearable longing for the overpriced Ralph’s in downtown LA.

The next day, I tried to buy a few items on Amazon and boy was I in for a treat. You know how great Amazon is in the states? You can find anything and everything for crazy prices and it all arrives in two days? Yeah, not the same deal in Canada. The selection is almost comically inferior and the prices are hit or miss. And that two-day shipping deal? Almost nonexistent even with prime. So after realizing Amazon couldn’t help me at all in this country, I basically had a breakdown and laid on the floor for about an hour with glassy eyes halfway between crying and not.

I know Amazon and the grocery store sound pretty freaking trivial, but these are key components in setting up a new life and I’ve never had to set up shop before in a location that was almost familiar but just different enough to be completely unsettling. When I lived in China, I was already mentally prepared to not have any of the things I was used to. Canada, however, seems so close to the U.S. on the surface that it was easy to trick myself into thinking it would be nearly the same bar a few ‘sorry’s’ and ‘eh’s’.

Additionally, for the first time in my life, I find myself in a new place with no one around me going through the same thing. I know it hasn’t even been a week so I can’t expect to have already made friends or connections and I know this will eventually be spectacular for my personal growth, but right now, it just sucks. I feel out of place and out of step since there’s no one I can really turn to right now about this feeling.

I know these feelings will subside, and the longer I stay, the more familiar I will get with my surroundings and the more people I will meet. However, I wanted to get this off my chest because even though moving can be really exciting and fun, and starting in a new place can be like having a great blank slate to play with, that same blank slate can also be fucking terrifying. Writing this out was the perfect way to remind myself that it WILL be ok, and that for now, it is ok for me to cry or watch TV alone on weekends, or whatever.

If you would like me to continue chronicling my general feelings and activities about moving to a new country and starting over, please let me know, I’m sure I will have TONS to vent about in the coming months.

 

 

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Photography by the illustrious Clara Yu

 

Not So Lazy Sundays

Lazy Sundays. When did they become lazy? Why do we use Sundays as days to sleep for way too long and accomplish absolutely nothing besides dreading Monday? I used to treat Sundays like this. They were finally my day to myself where I could “relax.” But inevitably, I would feel groggy and lethargic spending my days barely moving in front of the TV.

In college was when I really started making Sundays a ‘productive’ relaxation day. This didn’t mean that I worked, or studied, or necessarily accomplished anything in the traditional sense, but it did mean I actively took care of myself and my hobbies. My favorite thing to do as a freshman? I walked to the beach and just spent hours out there by myself reading and swimming. Totally refreshing. So if you’re one of those people who’s Sundays always end up ruined by your own insistence on ‘doing nothing’, here’s a couple ideas to help your Sunday get off on the right foot.

  1. Get up before 9am. Notice how I said GET UP. Not just wake up. Because we all know that right after waking up we can literally spend hours on our phones doing fuckall. 9am is a great parameter to set for myself because it still allows me some freedom in sleeping in if I want, but I also know that if I stay in bed past nine I will already start to feel like I’ve wasted the day.
  2. MOVE. Sunday is my rest day, however, I do need to get my blood pumping at least a little bit so I will either go for a walk to pick up a coffee, or I will do a quick 10-15 minute stretch just so my body doesn’t feel groggy.
  3. Make yourself a proper breakfast. I’m pretty good about this on normal days, but I know a lot of people aren’t. A lot of people skip the first meal of the day by virtue of sleeping too long. On Sunday’s, treat yourself. I will either make a full omelet with fruit and toast, or I will make chocolate chip pancakes! Either way, making a more elaborate breakfast already makes me feel accomplished.
  4. Dedicate some time to your hobbies. Sunday can be a day to spend time working on your passion projects or things that make you happy. I typically do most of my blogging on Sundays and a ton of reading (currently reading Titan by Ron Chernow). I also use this day to spend a little time on self-improvement. I will dedicate a little time to practice my languages, as well as research personal finance which has become increasingly interesting to me. The best thing is that I can spend as little or as much time on each activity or hobby as I want!
  5. Friend time! I know we typically go out on Friday and Saturday nights, but Sunday brunch didn’t become a thing for no reason. Sunday can be the perfect day to do something relaxing with friends. Go for coffee, go shopping, or duh, go for brunch! I typically reserve my most low-key activities for Sunday since I do want to rest up for the week but it can still be a great day to spend the day out and about with some great company.
  6. Make a Plan. This one goes along with all of the above but is important that you set some goals for yourself even on Sundays. Even if those goals are only going to yoga and going to brunch. By making a plan you are mentally committing yourself to those activities. By no means should your Sunday goals be as ambitious or numerous as your weekday goals, but if you set some, you will find yourself feeling way more relaxed and accomplished.

I know a lot of this sounds like overzealous wellness practicing, but using your weekends productively is one of the most important things I’ve learned over the years. While time to veg out is great, for the most part, you should be taking part in things that actively make you feel accomplished or happy on weekends. They don’t have to be big or time-consuming, but those small changes can do wonders for your state of mind throughout the week.

4 Fitness Myths to QUIT Believing

It seems like despite the U.S.’s rising obesity rates our obsession with fitness and health has never been stronger. Never have there been more goods and services on the market promising to make you stronger, faster, healthier, or more beautiful. It seems like every time I turn around there is a new ‘health’ food being included in everything from salads to ice cream, or there is a new exercise class that promises celebrity athlete level abs in just ONE CLASS (for the low price of way too much money plus tax).

Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of health, nutrition, and fitness, and I do recognize that most of these trendy products and classes are just harmless trends with great marketing. However, there are some products and ideologies that keep permeating the fitness industry and are actually making it harder for people to get to the fitness level they want, or they are just downright damaging and dangerous to the body. The items below are myths that seem to stick to the industry no matter how many people debunk them, but dammit if I’m not going to at least tell my friends and family what they should be wary of.

  1. Right off the bat, my least favorite myth is that weight lifting makes you bulky. This one hits home for me as a woman because so many of my girlfriends have been terrified of lifting heavy weights or doing anything besides cardio because they didn’t want to become too buff. I want to point something out about this myth that should be obvious. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder? Do you have any idea how many hours and how much work you have to put into lifting to even get close to being described as bulky? The answer is A TON! And I promise you that you would definitely know if you were putting in that kind of work. We’re talking multiple hours at the gym every day, lifting HEAVY weight, and a strict diet to get those muscles to grow. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who will read this are definitely not putting in that kind of work, I know I’m not.
  2. In the same vein, another fitness myth that persists is that cardio is the only way you can lose weight. I’ve had a lot of friends only do cardio in the gym and tell me it’s because they want to lose their fat before they start building muscle. While cardio is an effective way to burn calories, I wouldn’t say that only doing cardio is the most effective. Many people don’t know that the more muscle you have on your body, the more energy you burn even while at rest, even while SLEEPING! Doing a combination of cardio, and other types of exercise can make your weight loss journey faster and more efficient than just running endless miles on a treadmill.
  3. Alright, let’s get to a flat out ridiculous trend that has gained traction in the past couple years: Detoxes. A whole slew of ‘detoxing’ juices, teas, and supplements promise to decrease the nasty things in your body, decrease bloating, and increase your energy. ALL, I repeat, ALL of these products are a load of crap. Your body already does an amazing job of detoxifying itself. Ever heard of your liver? Your kidneys? Those are your detoxifying instruments. Your body is already working to clarify your body as you read this, and I promise you an overpriced juice cleanse will only make you hungry and cranky. Furthermore, some of these products are downright dangerous. The detoxifying teas you see all over Instagram are nothing more than glorified laxatives. Most of them are not necessarily even FDA approved and can seriously damage your intestines and stool if you’re not careful.
  4. Ok last one, and this one is more cautionary. Scientific studies about health and fitness products appear all the time. You know the ones: “Studies show that one cup of coffee a day can increase weight loss!”. I’m not saying ALL these studies are complete BS, I just want to note that MANY are. First off, we have the problem of fake news so it might literally be completely made up. Secondly, many scientific studies are sponsored by companies and are therefore swayed to a certain result (like if Starbucks sponsored the coffee study. SURPRISE SURPRISE, coffee is good for you, buy more coffee, give your money to Starbucks, who cares about your health). And lastly, even if these studies are real, and not swayed by capitalism, many haven’t been replicated, and many haven’t even used sample sizes that are big enough or control groups. Scientists need to get published and flashy experiment results are great marketing. Quite a lot of problems with these ‘studies’, huh? I don’t want to make it sound like ALL research is bullshit, just make sure you do a bit of your own before believing someone else’s.

The world of fitness, nutrition, and wellness is flush with information and it can be easy to get caught in these niche tips and tricks that promise great results. When looking for advice, ask yourself if you find yourself being sold something as you’re reading/watching/listening? If a product is being pushed, chances are you need to dig in more before committing. And just for the record, the only method I know of that GUARANTEES results is hard work in he gym, and keeping your diet on track. Pure and simple.

Silence is Not Golden

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that racist tensions in the U.S. have yet again come to a head, this time in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I’m not going to go into the whole story of what happened in Virginia, you can read about that event here. Instead, I want to talk about how that event, and events like it, is perpetuating a state of intolerance in the U.S., and what can possibly be done to combat those feelings.

Anyone that knows me already knows that I sway towards the liberal side of politics, ESPECIALLY when it comes to social justice issues. However, I don’t have to tell anyone that the events that occurred in Virginia were awful, but what I do feel the need to say is: what did you expect?

SO many people think racism is dead in America. They think there are no more marginalized groups, they honestly believe that discrimination and prejudice are ideals of the past. And then events like Charlottesville pop up, and people are SHOCKED that something like this could occur in their country, and you know what? THOSE are the people I’m most appalled at. Unlike those people, I knew that racism wasn’t dead, I knew that there were alt-right extremists out there congregating and planning because I paid attention.

While I absolutely condemn white-supremacy and anybody who decides it is their right to decide that certain lives are worth more than others, I also want to take this moment to call out those Americans who have committed a different kind of act worthy of condemnation: Willful Ignorance.

Too many Americans have decided that these issues don’t concern them, too many Americans have decided not to educate themselves on current events, and WAY too many Americans base their viewpoints on perception and false rhetoric rather than facts and information.

Racism in America is an issue in which it is not acceptable to not take a side anymore. You can’t just say ‘Oh I never gave it much thought’ because events like Charlottesville are plastered EVERYWHERE. You don’t get to pretend hatred and intolerance don’t occur in your very own backyard, and you certainly don’t get to pretend that you’re not a part of the larger issue. In case you were wondering what this kind of pretending looks like, take a look at how our woefully incompetent, PR disaster of a president responded, here.

Not all issues have the ability to feed on indifference, but unfortunately, this one does. Because as a white person, if you stay silent on these issues and think to yourself ‘Well this doesn’t affect me’, even if you’re not a white supremacist, you are helping their agenda. Because by staying silent, you are no longer standing up for what is right and what is just, and what America is SUPPOSED to stand for. You either believe every person has the same rights as every other person, or you don’t. There really isn’t an in-between section on this one.

All I would like to ask each and every American to do is simple: educate yourself. And educate yourself on both sides of the argument. Don’t get all your information from one source, and don’t believe authority figures just because of their position. Check your work, check my work, check the media’s work. Ignorance is how we got in this mess of a presidency in the first place, don’t let it become part of the fabric of our society. Don’t let extremist rhetoric, and outlandish opinion pieces dictate our views. Do the research and make up your own mind, it’s not that hard.

“You are NOT entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your INFORMED opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” — Harlan Ellison

Shoutout to my sister for the title of this post. To watch her video on the same topic, click here!

TREAT YO SELF

You wanna know something Americans are terrible at? Politics. BOOM. Just kidding, I don’t have the energy to tackle THAT argument right now. But in all seriousness, Americans are terrible at self-care. Our way of life here in the states is completely inhibitive of active self-care, especially compared to many countries in the likes of Europe and Asia.

Why should you care about this, you ask? Well, I’d retort, don’t you care about YOURSELF? A typical working American’s week looks something like this: Work Monday through Friday, ideally from 9-5 but we all know those hours are creeping upwards with many people starting work as early as 7 and not finishing until past 6 pm. Then go home, take care of kids, or eat dinner, and watch TV. Then when the weekend rolls around, it is some variation of a Netflix binge fest, drinking and partying, or shuttling your kids to their activities. In short, the average American is not taking care of themselves at all. You might argue that watching TV at the end of a day counts as self-care, but while I binge TV with the best of them, vegging out in front of a screen is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about proactively partaking in things that improve your quality of life.

The factors of self-care I’m going to list below will sound like common sense to most people but how many of us are actually taking the time to do them? The fact that I know most of you are going to roll your eyes makes me believe that these aren’t new or original ideas, but that know-it-all attitude isn’t translating into DOING it all and people aren’t even doing the bare minimum to take care of themselves.

1.) GET MOVING. Like always, exercise makes a huge difference. But this time, I’m not even talking about lifting weights, intervals, or running. The healthiest countries in the world do not usually have a strong fitness culture, but they DO have a strong walking culture. People will always walk when they can and are generally active in their daily lives, and as we all know, movement is good for your heart, your brain, AND your body. Americans, unfortunately, are extremely sedentary so even short walking or dance breaks can make a huge difference.

2.) EAT A GODDAMN VEGETABLE. Now I KNOW people are rolling their eyes at this one because I sound like everyone’s mother. Remember what I said above: we are talking the bare minimum here. But not only am I encouraging people to add some leafy greens here and there, it is also important to make sure you’re eating well, and regularly. Don’t skip breakfast, don’t work through lunch, and definitely don’t binge because you skipped a meal. Eating regularly and including as many food groups as you can, will help regulate your metabolism and keep your energy levels up!

3.) GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP. This is the sin that most Americans fall prey to whether you’re a middle schooler or nearing retirement. We are not getting enough sleep. While the amount of sleep you need varies based on your age and other factors, seven to nine hours tends to be the recommended amount. But what’s more, is that people don’t keep regular sleep schedules. We wake up for work at a regular hour but then sleep as much as we want on the weekend which totally messes up our body’s routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same hour can do wonders for your energy, your mental clarity, and even your skin.

4.) TAKE A VACATION. A real vacation. If you’re working, or even going to school, chances are you have some kind of vacation time or arrangement. Especially for my working folks out there, TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL. Too many Americans just don’t take advantage of time off, whether it is a weekend or a full on two-week trip abroad, most of us never disconnect. We are always keeping an eye on our email and that can really take its toll. We are one of the countries with the longest work days and the least vacation days, so when you do have the opportunity to unplug, DO IT, or eventually all that work will just burn you out.

5.) RELATIONSHIPS. Nowadays we have all sorts of relationships right at our finger tips, we go to parties, work events, and social commitments all the time. However, something that can get lost in the shuffle is working on a couple quality friendships. Ideally, these friends can be found close by so you guys can go to coffee or hang out, but if they are long distance that is fine too. Relationships need love and they ultimately feed your soul. Everybody always claims to wish for more time to spend with family and friends, but somehow it ends up low on the priority list from day to day. But if you carve out a little bit of time to catch up with friends at least once a week, it can be truly calming and rejuvenating.

And that’s it! Five simple things. FIVE. We all know that these are things that we should be doing, but somehow it is just so easy to get caught up in the lifestyle of work and commitments, and when we do have some time to ourselves it is perfectly understandable that we would just want to sit around and sleep or do nothing. But carving out a little bit of extra time and effort for your own personal wellness can do WONDERS for your overall attitude and peace of mind. All those little pockets of time focused on self-care can really add up and ultimately, if you take care of yourself, everything you touch will also be much better for it.

 

 

Read it and Weep

What was the last book you read? Did you choose to read said book by choice? Or was it for something else like school or work?

When my sister and I learned to read, we didn’t just read them, we DEVOURED THEM. I remember most of our Christmas gifts would be books and by the time Christmas break was over, we would have finished a good chunk (if not all) of the books we had just received. We would read everything! We read novels, fantasy, science fiction, history, historical fiction, and nonfiction.

My sister and I are, unfortunately, increasingly rare specimens of people. In an age where consuming information at hyper-fast speeds is becoming more and more important, many people claim they don’t have the time or the attention span to sit down and read an entire book. We favor online articles and social media to consume information, and to be honest, real life has gotten so ridiculous (American politics anyone?) that it may feel like you’re viewing fiction every time you check the news.

But I still think reading full on books and immersing yourself in a story is important. The majority of books I read are nonfiction or science fiction/fantasy. And I think there is a huge benefit to reading a wide range of books for personal growth and development (and to be one of those pretentious show offs at parties). Below, I’ve outlined how I divide the books in my library and why reading books from each of these categories has more benefits than you might think.

Nonfiction books have obvious benefits. They usually fall into two categories: self-help or history/biography. There is much to be gained by reading these types of books. You can learn techniques to directly help your wellness, success, or productivity. Or, by reading history and biography books you can learn about events and people that have shaped the world into what it looks like today and can increase your understanding and perspective on your environment. I know people think these can be boring or cheesy, or like reading a dry, boring history textbook, but some of these are dynamically written and just as gripping as that tabloid article on that celeb that did that thing (you know the one). My personal favorites in this category:

  1. Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi)
  2. How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big (Scott Adams)
  3. Blink (Malcolm Gladwell — actually everything by him is great)
  4. GirlBoss (Sophia Amoruso)
  5. Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow)
  6. The Four Hour Workweek (Tim Ferris)

The next category is novels. I define novels as fictional stories that have realistic characters and settings. This category of book is important because it increases your thinking and perception about your world. Even though the stories told in this category are fiction, the struggles of the characters are usually very real and tackle topics that relate heavily with most people. This category of book resonates with me because it helps with my empathy and understanding of people. Going on a journey through a character’s life helps you see things through their eyes, and even though they are made up, that skill can transfer to your own, very real, life. My personal favorites in this category:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
  2. Fates and Furies ( Lauren Groff)
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ( Stieg Larsson)
  4. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini – this guy is a powerful writer ok?)
  5. The Butterfly Garden (Dot Hutchinson)
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
  7. Rich People Problems (Kevin Kwan, a guilty pleasure but a fun read nontheless)

The last important category in my repertoire is fantasy/fiction/sci-fi etc. I define this category as stories about things that are completely made up. The setting, circumstances, characters, and story are all completely fictional. These differ from novels because the setting is not real. This is my favorite genre because reading these books is kind of like watching a film for me. They tell these fantastical tales that my own brain can’t imagine and immerse me in a world that doesn’t exist to tell a story that ends up being highly relatable. These books are also my favorite because not only are they the most entertaining for me, I feel like they combine the best of the first two categories into one. Their characters are still intensely relatable which adds the empathy element found in novel studies, and they also encourage outside of the box thinking. In order to truly enjoy a fictional world, you have to understand the fictional rules and workings of that world and that thinking forces you to expand your mind and think about your own world more creatively. My favorites (I have so many here so I’ll only list a few):

  1. The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling, this is a classic)
  2. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  3. Enchanted (Orson Scott Card, honestly I’ve read all his books)
  4. Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin, another expected one, but the books are honestly amazing)
  5. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
  6. Queen of the Tearling (Erika Johansen)
  7. The Selection (Kiera Cass)
  8. The Veldt (Ray Bradbury, this is a short story, but I love it)

I have been a reader all my life. I LOVE books, I’m such a nerd for all kinds of reading so I might be a bit biased, but being a strong reader definitely carries over into other elements of your life. Many people don’t want to spend the time reading or they claim school ruined reading for them, but reading should never be a chore and there are MILLIONS of books out there so there is something for everyone. Reading novels and books not only offers the benefits I described above, but it also drastically improves your thinking, writing, and vocabulary skills. I know I sound preachy, but there is literally NO downside to reading more books. Comment if you can think of one and we can have a lively discussion on the topic!

 

 

Bare Necessities

I’ve lived a pretty typical middle-class young adult life. I graduated high school, went to college, and now I have a job and am contributing (?) to society. However, because I went to a university across the country, studied abroad on the other side of the world, and now live completely on my own, I’ve realized that there are a few skills that I learned along the way that everyone should really know by the time they reach my age.

And obviously, as a plucky 22-year-old, I have TONS of wisdom to offer, and everything I say should be taken completely seriously. SO, with THAT said, the list below encompasses things you should’ve been figuring out how to do before you could even drink in this god-forsaken country.

  1. Cooking: I don’t care if it’s pasta, steak, or the meanest grilled cheese ever, you should know how to make yourself a quality hot meal. Extra credit: You can make more than one, and have a few go-to dishes for yourself and when you’re trying to impress! Look at you, you overachiever you.
  2. Skincare: Once again, this doesn’t have to be fancy, but so help me, if you’re not moisturizing your face and body then you are just asking for flaky lizard skin, not to mention, PREMATURE AGING (it’s ok to start screaming, I know it’s terrifying).
  3. Haircare: Get a hair cut regularly. Just DO it. You know it’s the right thing to do, and your hair feels so much better afterward. Also, don’t forget to shampoo AND condition.
  4. Shop for Underwear: You’re not a kid anymore and isn’t it just embarrassing to have your mom do this? You should know by now which kinds you like and what brands to invest in. People with boobs: if you so choose to wear bras, get fitted by an expert, it helps.
  5. Favorite Books: I know reading books for school sucks, but reading is good for you. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. You should explore some genres and find a few books that blow your mind, the kind you’d recommend to others. A couple of mine: Ender’s Game, Perfume, and Never Eat Alone.
  6. Know how to change a tire: I actually fail on this account, but I know it is something I should learn. You never know when you’ll be in a tight spot with no cell service so your parents can talk you through it.
  7. Set a Schedule: I know this is EXTRA boring (unless you’re a planning fanatic like me) and I know you can set whatever hours you want since you’re an adult, but all that extra freedom is precisely why you need to learn to set your own schedule so you don’t turn into an ambitionless lump that has to peel themselves off their couch every Monday.
  8. Fitness: You knew this was coming didn’t you? I don’t care whether you walk, swim, yoga, or whatever. But pick something, and do it regularly.
  9. Traveling: Traveling alone can be stressful, you should know how to navigate airports, baggage issues, and how to get around in new places without your phone. Traveling is an unparalleled learning experience, and remember what I said earlier about knowledge and power? Yeah, exactly.
  10. Cleaning: Chances are, you have your own space by now, whether it’s a dorm room or an apartment. Being a slob is just unacceptable. Learn to pick up after yourself and how to clean different surfaces properly. There is no excuse for this. Don’t be nasty. Extra Credit: Doing your laundry without shrinking or ruining anything.

And there you have it, in my obviously learned opinion, these are the top ten things you should have figured out by the time you are a budding adult…there is literally no good way to classify this period of our lives is there? Young adult? Young person? Millenial? Comment the best way to classify those in their late teens/extremely early twenties because I have no good ideas for this…

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PC: the AMAZING Clara Yu