• #30before30

    #30before30: thoughts on relationships, flying solo, and everything in between

    #30before30: thoughts on relationships
    (photo by Laura Ockel via Unsplash)

    Since it’s Valentines Day, I thought it was a good time to turn the #30before30 lens on relationships. Flying solo, committed long-term, or somewhere in between: all three stages are tricky.

    I never planned out a fantasy wedding. I’ve always said I’m quite happy going it alone. Yet there’s an incurable romantic in me, and I’ve managed to navigate more than one long-term relationship. Along the way, my understanding of how to successfully survive at every stage from uncoupled to committed has changed.

    Part of this is simple experience—you learn from trial and error what really works. Part of it is simple maturity—I’ve changed drastically over the past decade from a hot-headed kid to a more thoughtful woman (or at least I’d like to think so!). I feel like the past ten years have given me enough material to write volumes about relationships, but for the sake of keeping it to one post, here are some brief thoughts I’d love to share with my younger self…

    …on singledom

    This feels like a curse to many, but it’s not until you’re coupled that you’ll understand what a gift it is to fly solo! This is your chance to explore, test, and develop who you are. No one can tell you that Fruit Loops aren’t an acceptable dinner. There’s no one else to consider when making vacation plans. The level of freedom is something you’ll probably never again experience in adult life. I wish I had cherished it more.

    Singledom is also a time to improve yourself. We all make lists of the qualities we want in a partner, but what about the qualities we possess? Is the person you are now an equal to your ideal mate? If not, adjust for desired results. Practice being more patient, showing kindness, and communicating better. Learn to compromise, to forgive, and to apologize (had I worked on these sooner, it would have saved me endless unnecessary arguments). Like attracts like, so be the kind of person you hope to attract.

    …on new relationships

    I was a pushover when I was younger. This led to lots of situations where I bent because it was easier than saying a relationship was at a breaking point. It’s true that relationships are about compromise, but it’s also true that you need to know what your boundaries are and stick to them. Things that seem small early on will create issues down the road, so don’t ignore them because you’re in the hazy “lovey dovey” stage.

    Also: don’t cut out the rest of your life just because you’ve fallen in love and think it’s the Best Thing Ever. I’ve done it over and over and have never not regretted it. Don’t neglect friends, your career, etc. just because you’ve got butterflies.

    …on “what are we?”

    Not sure if you’re long-term material? Better off strangers? FWB? Hint: there isn’t a right answer, because everyone on God’s green earth will give an opinion, but none of them actually have to live in your relationship. So decide what you want, and if you can agree, then it’ll probably work itself out organically. If you have two different visions of where your relationship is headed, it’s time to hit the road. Thinking you’ll be the human version of a magic bullet that changes a person when no one else could is a recipe for disappointment.

    …0n long-term relationships

    They’re the best and the worst. The best, because the comfort of having “your” person in your corner is a magic balm on the days when the world just really sucks. And the worst, because it is really freaking hard to commit to someone for the long-haul. You’re there on each other’s worst days, when life is shitty, when you don’t agree, when you’re bored.

    I don’t think you should make any major moves to settle down with someone until you’ve gotten several years under your belt, because by that point the newness has worn off and you’ve had a chance to see each other through less-than-ideal circumstances. You’ll know if they’re really ride-or-die material.

    …on long-distance relationships

    They suck! Really badly! For starters, you both have to have an equal level of neediness (enough that you’re eager to jump through the required hoops to see each other, but not so much that you get insecure and jealous). You have to put in matching levels of effort (and it will take massive effort to spend enough quality time together), You both have to trust each other and you both have to be loyal at a distance. All that said, if you can make it work across miles, it bodes well for tackling other challenges down the road.

    …on life after love

    It happens. You’re permitted to be sad. You’re not permitted to do anything permanently stupid because you’re temporarily sad. Because yes, it is temporary, and yes, you will move on, even if you hurt for a while.

    So there you go. I’m hardly an expert, this is just what I would tell my twenty-year-old self to make her relationships a bit easier! (Although, I suppose I wouldn’t have the smarts I do now without all those bumps in the road, so…)

    What do you wish you could tell your younger self about relationships?

  • #30before30,  lifestyle

    #30before30: cultivate female friendships

    #30before30: cultivating female friendships
    (photo by Simon Maage via Unsplash)

    Since I fell a little behind in January, I’m doing a double #30before30 post today to catch up! February 13th is unofficially “Galentine’s Day” and tomorrow is V-Day, the holiday everyone loves to hate. I thought this was a great week to talk about a couple of #30before30 topics that I think every twenty-something woman has struggled with at some point: friendships and romantic relationships.

    First, since in honor of Galentine’s, let’s talk BFFs. I feel like keeping up friendships as an adult is kind of hard, compared to when you’re a kid.

  • #30before30,  career

    #30before30: be bold enough to find a new job

    #30before30: be bold enough to find a new job

    I just had my year-end review at my job, and it’s had me thinking a lot about what a wild ride my work life has been over the past couple of years. I left a job I’d had for years for a new role in the same company; gave it six months; absolutely hated it; stepped down to a different role; then three weeks later quit altogether for a new company!

    I went from a role, schedule and company I’d known for nearly a decade, to a completely new schedule, doing a new type of work, at a new company. To say it was a major change is an understatement!

    It sounds like I made some fast moves there, but I really didn’t. I had applied for several jobs in February and March 2018. I just didn’t actually get to put in my notice until nearly mid-April. I’d actually been job-hunting off and on for years. I was fed up with lots of things about the culture at my job and didn’t feel I was being paid enough, but I stayed on, year after year.

    Why? Basically, change terrified me. There was a constant list of what ifs that ran through my head: what if I dislike the work? What if the schedule sucks? What if my boss is a jerk? And before all that, there’s the most frightening of prospects, the dreaded job interview.

    They say you can’t make a move until the discomfort of sticking with something outweighs the discomfort of the change, and that was so true for me. I was unhappy at my job for years before I left. Now I wish I’d made the switch sooner! If I could tell my younger self something about switching jobs, I would say that it doesn’t have to be scary, as long as you follow these tips.

    Brush up on your resume and communication skills.

    There are so many resources online (just browse Pinterest) to help you format your resume and polish your e-mail skills. There’s just no excuse for sending a poorly worded resume or not replying professionally to an email from a potential employer.

    I initially struggled to craft my resume because it was largely taken up by a single employer; I had one other part-time seasonal job to list, and two from high school that were no longer in business. But I highlighted the different positions I’d held with that main employer, and put a positive emphasis on how I’d worked my way up over the years in the company.

    I also highlighted the work skills that I knew would translate best to the types of jobs I was applying for, since I didn’t have previous experience in those specific fields. Prior to my current job I had never worked in the financial industry, but I did bring with me a decade of strong customer service experience and communication skills. I also highlighted the importance of daily compliance checks in my old role as a supervisor, since obviously the ability to follow practices to the letter is important if you’re going to work in banking!

    Observe good interview etiquette.

    The old saying “dress for the job you want” exists for a reason; it shows you’re taking the interview seriously. If everyone at the job dresses uber-fashionably, or wears jeans and boots, let that be your guide; otherwise, when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with slacks, a blazer, and ballerina pumps. Don’t wear strong perfume (in case your interviewer has allergies), cover tattoos as much as possible, and wear comfy shoes in case you have an impromptu tour of the job site!

    It goes without saying, but: be on time for the interview, silence your cell phone, don’t chew gum, don’t swear…but I don’t have to tell you all that, right? Riiiiiiiight?

    As for communicating with your potential employers, be courteous. Their time is valuable, so answer phone calls and emails promptly. Post-interview, it’s great to send a follow-up email or note to thank them for their time.

    Practice your interview questions.

    These are tough for one of two different reasons: either it’s a bland question and you’re struggling to come up with a colorful example, or it’s a question that makes you squirm. I can’t over-recommend searching “tough interview questions” on Pinterest for some ideas about the off-the-wall questions you might encounter.

    A few pointers I want to throw out here. First, employers sometimes ask you for examples of situations you encountered in a previous job, but you may not have any. If so, it’s fine to admit that you don’t have a work-related example, but you do have one from a school or volunteer experience.

    Second, if you’re asked to describe something you struggled with in your last job, be honest, but reinforce that it was a learning experience and you gained ____ in the process. Grace and positivity are key.

    Third, prep a few questions of your own. You’ll probably be asked if you have any questions about the position and/or the company. This is a great time to ask things like “What growth opportunities will I have in this job?” or “How would you describe the culture at this job?” It shows that you’re interested in sticking around for the long-term.

    Do you have any tips for switching to a new job? What’s the toughest interview question you’ve ever been asked (and how did you respond)? What wild job-related stories do you have to share?

    (image by RawPixel via Unsplash)

  • #30before30

    #30before30: research your fertility (whether you want a family or just furbabies)

    I’ve been pretty AWOL from the blog lately…I’ve had some personal stuff going on, and if you follow me on Instagram then you’ll know that I lost one of my kitties rather suddenly this week. I’ll be posting more about that later, but in the meantime, I wanted to get my weekly #30before30 post up, since I’ve been struggling with the series all month. (Indeed, with most of the January posts I’d intended to publish!)

    I really wasn’t sure how to title this week’s post. It’s a subject that I think all women find touchy, no matter their age or their personal choice. I’m talking about the delicate choice of whether or not to have kids; if so, when and how; and the myriad other decisions that come with it.

  • #30before30,  lifestyle,  money

    #30before30: get smart about money

    #30before30: get smart about money

    Moola, dough, dinero, mammon—whatever you call it, money is a hot topic. Getting my sh*t together financially is definitely at the top of my list of “adulting” things that I wish I’d put more energy into in my twenties!

    Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t do terrible, but there are a lot of thing I only learned later on that would have been much easier if I had known/practiced them earlier! Some of these things only came up for me once I decided I wanted to buy a house in 2017, and trust me, sitting in a realtor’s office looking at paperwork for your dream home is not the place to first realize you need cash assets and a good credit score to make it all come together.

    In no particular order, here are ten tips to help you get smart about money.