Work Struggles…and then I got really into Mad Men.

Every job has it’s ups and downs. You have to do things you don’t want to do and do them with a smile on your face. That’s just how it goes. As my father said on the phone last night, “That’s why they call it work and not fun. You don’t go to fun every day. You go to work.”

I’ve experienced a number of frustrations at every job I’ve ever held – from infuriating children who find no greater joy in life than disrupting my class, to coworkers spreading rumors behind my back, to management practically ignoring me — the list goes on. And that’s just through college and grad school.

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The actual working world has presented some even more daunting hurdles, though these days it seems like the internal struggles are holding me back more so than the external ones.

If I were to honestly answer the question, “what’s my greatest weakness?”, I’d say that I am constantly second guessing myself. I’m terrified of being wrong. I’m terrified that I’ll say something in a meeting that is stupid or flat out incorrect. I’m afraid to put my opinion out there because I’m convinced the expertise and opinions of others carry more weight than my own.

And frankly, my weakness is holding me back. Instead of putting myself out there, trying new things and being assertive, I’m hanging back in the shadows, quiet and a little bit useless. I’m not learning the things I need to learn or bringing to the table everything I can.

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I know I’m not alone in this. People want to blame it on my generation, but I think it’s just a part of starting out in the workforce. We want to learn so bad, but also to be told exactly what to do just like we were in school, given specific tasks to complete and then receive praise….just like in college. But the reality is, that’s not the way the world works.

It took me far too long to realize that those who are truly rewarded for their efforts are the ones that are proactive in their work, not only completing their daily tasks but also bringing new ideas to the table. The most successful ones are those who let people know about the things they’ve accomplished and the work they’ve done, and aren’t afraid to speak up about the work they could be doing.

The successful aren’t afraid to be wrong, or rather, if they are, they speak up anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? You get corrected? What’s the big deal? Once you’re corrected, you learn and you know better for next time. You grow. You improve.

That’s the kind of employee I want to be.

Sure, there are other roadblocks. It will never be the perfect situation. There will always be a boss that doesn’t respect you and causes you stress everywhere you turn. And there will always be a communication disconnect between upper management and the underlings. And there will never, ever be enough money to really make it feel worthwhile.

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Maybe one job won’t the end-all-be-all, but it’s still a great place to learn to be the best employee possible. To really pour yourself into your work and make something great out of a tough situation. To let go of the fear of being wrong (or at least be courageous enough to do your best in spite of that fear.)

I’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men recently and it always makes me so motivated to go to work the next day. I see how the women take control of their situation. I see how the men bring new ideas to the table. I see how success is a non-stop pursuit.

Sure, they are all super messed up people, but they have tasted success and I want a taste of it too.

Also, Drinking.

Seriously, they do a lot of drinking on that show…which, so far, I can definitely say is the one aspect of the Man Men work ethic that I totally have down.

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Let’s Chat

What do you think makes a good employee?

How do you deal with work stress?

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Friends, New & Old!

The city has offered me an awesome opportunity to meet some new people, but also to reconnect with those that I haven’t seen since college. With all my friends having these big, important jobs and living such crazy exciting lives, it’s just hard to catch up. But lucky me, DC is a mecca of events that bring my friends to me!

Like my awesome buddy Kaylee, an amazing literary agent, who was recently in town for a writer’s conference in Bethesda. I still can’t believe that this is the first time I’ve seen her since college. That’s TWO YEARS! And yet, it felt like not a day had passed. We went to Kramers for book shopping and dessert, and checked out a few places in Chinatown. We had a blast!

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This girl is awesome. Have you written a book? You should probably submit it to her. And don’t forget to follow her on twitter!

And I’ve made some new friends, too. Obviously, I have two kick-ass roommates now, and along with them is this awesome little dude named Indiana Jones.

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This cat is pretty much the exact opposite of The Professor — he is straight up aggressive about his love! But look at that little face! All that love! How can I say no?

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What else have I been up to? Well, just a few improv puppet shows as part of the F.I.S.T. improv tournament where I met this awesome guy named Remmy.

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In addition to the beautiful buildings and amazing green spaces, the incredible access to fun events has to be the greatest thing about living in a city. Seriously, where else will a March Madness style of improv be only a short walk away?

So I’m putting it out there — old friends and new — come find me! Let’s hang out! DC is a happening place and I know you miss me ;)

Let’s Chat

What are some DC events and activities I shouldn’t miss out on?

Have you seen the Cherry Blossoms yet?!

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Exploring the City – a picture run

I’m slowly but surely getting to know the city. And everyone I’ve talked to says the best way to learn your away around is to just get lost. The more you see, the more you recognize, the better you learn how to get around and where you are. And really, with GPS these days, how lost are we ever?

So I went on a run to just get lost and explore. It wasn’t about pace, it was about the sights and just going wherever my heart desired. I ended up running four miles in about 45 minutes, but in my defense, I did a lot of stopping to take pictures and had to backtrack a few times. And man are there a lot of stop lights!

DC is an amazing place to get lost in…especially if you get lost on embassy row!

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Let’s Chat

What is your favorite area in DC?

If you could visit any country, where would you go?

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A weekend bike trip, in pictures.

A few weeks ago, the weather was amazing. So obviously this meant renting a bike and trekking around town with friends! Below is a photo dump from the day. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The White House! Believe it or not, this was the first time I’ve seen it from this side! So crazy.

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Washington monument sans scaffolding!

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Jefferson Memorial from across the tidal basin.

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The Washington Monument from the other side of the tidal basin.

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The Jefferson Memorial!

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Gotta love pillars. Gorgeous.

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Then we biked out to Gravelly Point, a park where you can sit and watch the plans take off and land at the Ronald Reagan airport. Definitely a great place to lay back on a blanket and relax…and just watch the sky.

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Then we continued on the bike path toward Old Town Alexandria. It reminded me a bunch of Downtown Annapolis. It’s nice to know a great place like this is just a metro/bike ride away!

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Let’s Chat

Where are your favorite places to visit on the weekends?

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Things that have changed; things that have not.

When I was thinking about moving out to Colorado, my parents were supportive but hesitant. My mom kept reminding me that how I was feeling–lost, afraid, without direction–wouldn’t just disappear with a change of scenery. I wouldn’t magically be happy because I moved across the country looking for something new.

And she was right.

I’ve already noticed a number of things about myself that have changed as a result of moving back out on my own.

I take better care of myself and my surroundings. I am more apt to say yes to activities offered to me. I am generally happier because I feel more in control of my own life now than I have in months.

But some things haven’t changed. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life or my career. I’m still struggling to budget my time in a productive way. I honestly still feel very, very lost when it comes to my future, here or anywhere.

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A little part of me wanted to believe that with the shorter commute and change of surroundings, things would just fall into place. It’s silly, I know, but I really hoped it would all happen for me just like that.

(This is where you remind me that I’ve only been in my new apartment ~3 weeks, and it snowed the other day so it’s barely even spring yet!  What’s my rush?!)

At least now, in a way, my feelings seem more appropriate. I don’t just feel like a failure for living with my parents. I feel like a true 20-something trying to figure out where to go next. I’m grateful for all the help I had getting to this point, and now it’s still up to me to figure the rest out.

I have to keep reminding myself that it has only been a few weeks and figuring out the rest of my life won’t happen overnight. I can’t fall into the trap of only looking forward and never glancing back to remind myself how far I’ve actually come. And most of all, I can’t compare myself to other people — especially those who have 5+ years of life experience on me. Of course I’m not there yet. But maybe in 5-10 years, I will be. And there is nothing wrong with that.

 

Let’s Chat

Any tips for a kid just trying to grow up?

When did you finally feel like you had a direction?

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Changing the way I shop for food

First, a quick HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my awesome roommate, Heather! :D

Now then, I’ve been in the city for just over two weeks now and it has already been an adjustment. There is something very unique about the “city lifestyle” that has thus far been a bit challenging to grasp, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Grocery shopping, for example.

When I lived in Columbus, I still had my car so the way I went to the grocery store or made a quick run to Target was exactly the way it had always done it. Buy what I want and toss it in the back seat. But now, without a car, I’m limited to what I can carry. And with the DC tax on plastic bags (which I fully support), to avoid any extra charges, everything I carry has to fit in my backpack and two linen bags.

Now, I’m a strong girl, but those one-trip-wonders carrying every bag from the car to the house can only work in small bursts. I have to be a lot pickier about what I buy, judging by how heavy it is and how long it will last, because I’ve got a half-mile walk home and not a ton of storage space. Gone are the days of buying in bulk!

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Now it’s all about meal planning and weekly shopping trips.

Initially, this was a difficult adjustment. I’m used to two shopping trips a month, buying enough to last me two weeks at a time, plus stocking up when some of my staples are on sale. Not so much anymore.

My shopping lists are to refill the pantry staples I’ve run out of and to get any additional things I’ll need for the meals I’ve planned for the upcoming week–meals I plan around the things that are on sale that week in the grocery ad!

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So now I’m not only shopping on a tighter budget, but I’m making more trips and basing my purchases on what’s on sale. This means fresher food, more variety, and less waste! Definitely a shopping lifestyle I can get behind. But it does take a lot more planning.

Here’s a few tips for getting the most out of your city shopping trip:

1. Plan ahead. Research what’s on sale and build your meals around that, then build your list around your planned meals for the week. Write everything out and stick to your list!

2. No, seriously. Stick to your list. Once you get to the grocery store, everything looks yummy and fancy and exciting. But a few impulse purchases won’t just break your budget, but could also make your trip home a little more of a struggle.

3.  You can carry more than you think. I actually under-shopped on my first trip. I definitely could have carried more in my backpack and in my bags than I thought. But be careful not to overdo it. After this discovery, I probably over-shopped on my next trip and my back is still a little sore. It’s going to be all about finding that comfortable medium.

But when it’s all said and done, shopping is just something you have to do and you’ll always find a way to make it work.

I, for one, have greatly missed buying and cooking my own food. It’s my favorite way to come home from work and wind down. Listen to some music, chop some onions, boil some water for pasta, enjoy a glass of wine….makes for the perfect quiet evening at home :)

Check out my very first home cooked meal in my brand new apartment!

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Let’s Chat

How often do you grocery shop?

What kind of planning goes into your shopping trips?

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First Run in the City

One of the first things I noticed upon moving to DC was how active the residents are. On the first nice day I was here (after a SUPER rainy move-in weekend), everyone was out running. Seriously, everyone was out and about, getting their sweat on. I guess it comes as no surprise that DC usually hovers near the top of lists ranking the healthiest cities in the country (Forbes & Travel). I think I’m in love.

As you know, I went to the spectacular Miami University of Ohio which has an enormous alumni base in the Washington DC area. So with the second largest alumni group right after Chicago, there are quite a lot of alumni events, including a monthly run on the mall.

So clearly, this was the first event I attended as well as my very first run in the city.

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It was a small group, only about six of us total. But the weather was beautiful and everyone was able to pair off with someone who kept a steady, comfortable pace.

I have to say, running is one of the best ways to see the city. You can still pay attention to where you are going, but without earphones in and your eyes open, you can really take it all in. We did a short 3-mile loop around the Washington monument and Lincoln memorial, and then back toward the Capitol.

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Seriously, how cool is it to say that? Every now and then, I just get really fluttery about the fact that I live and work in the nation’s capital. There is something inherently awesome about that fact. I feel very grateful and proud to have such an opportunity.

After the run, we all met up at the local bar of a post-run carb load (aka beer!) It was a great experience and I totally look forward to heading out again next month.

And not to mention, the many more runs I’ll take on my own. It’s time to get out and explore the city!

Let’s Chat

Where is your favorite place to run?

Street, track or trail?

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Did you miss me?

Hello friends :) Did you miss me?

Don’t worry, I’m really back.

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After a month-long break, I’m feeling refreshed and eager to get back to blogging. It’s not easy–working, blogging, and having a social life–so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It can take a lot of out of you, but it can also be extremely rewarding. There is a sense of community and a connection to people you may not talk to every day, yet still feel close with knowing they are reading about your life. And I was really missing that.

Plus, getting so many messages and comments asking when I’m coming back was extremely flattering. Oh, you guyyysss.

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And the gorgeous weather definitely helped. I can’t wait to tell you about my very first run in the city!

And biking to Old Town!
And exploring the Rock Creek Trail!
And adventuring to wineries in Virginia!
And my amazing new 25-minute commute to work!

So basically, expect tons of fun updates from me in the next few weeks. Not only do I have a lot to catch you up on, but I know there is even more on the horizon.

As I learn the city and discover new things, life is only going to get better. And I’m gonna tell you aaaalllll about it ;)

Side note,  I’m really into John Legend’s “All of Me” right now. Seriously, how great is this song?

And this cover of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” by Aloe Blacc is INCREDIBLE.

Enjoy!

Let’s Chat

What songs are you absolutely in love with right now?

Tell me what you’ve been up to while I was away!

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Another Hiatus

This is probably coming later than it should since I’ve basically been on an intermittent hiatus for the past couple of weeks, but I thought it would be important to put a few things out there before disappearing completely for a bit:

1. I will be back! I just have a lot going on right now (lots of big life changes) and I want to focus on them first and then hopefully tell you all about them later. So don’t worry, I’m coming back, but not until I feel like I can come back strong.

2. I’m totally fine. There is nothing life-threatening that I’m trying to hide from anyone. I just have a lot going on and not a lot of time to take care of everything on my plate.

3. I’ll still be active on twitter. Because I’m 25, human, and have a smartphone. Follow me!

So until I see you again, which will probably be soon since I really love blogging and I don’t think I’ll be able to keep myself away for long.

Recently, in pictures.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in terms of weather. We’ve had spring-like weekends followed by intense snow days. But hopefully we’re in the home stretch before some consistently warmer weather, especially since today is the official first day of Spring! I’m not saying bring on the sweltering summers just yet, but how about a few more days when I can run in short sleeves and shorts?

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I’ve been lazy after work, but I still try to get out for at least one run on the weekends. Hopefully I’ll experience a motivation revival when I get into the city.

3.21 miles, 27:51 min, 8:39/mi

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Sometimes my parents like to send me reminders from my cat, as if I wasn’t already going to miss him like crazy when I move into my new apartment… I wish I could bring him! But then he would miss out on all the fun squirrels and birds!

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For the Professor, this right here is better than TV. He just sits at the door and watches them. If you’re wondering why they all gather on our deck, it’s because we spread peanuts and birdseed for them. And yes, they do all have names.

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We finally got around to celebrating the February/March birthday at the office, but it happened to fall on 3/14, better known as Pi Day. So since my birthday was being celebrated, I humbly requested that instead of cake, we have birthday pie! I mean, it’s only logical. (Apple and chocolate – YUM!)

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And what would an update be without a few shots of my morning coffee? And in my fancy new mug!

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Know what’s even better than morning office coffee? Morning coffee in the park! Still a little chilly, but worth seeing the sunshine.

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Okay, so many not that much is going on. But I’ve got moving on the mind! I need to figure out how and when I’m going to move my stuff, and what color I’m going to paint my room. I’m tempted to just pack up some clothes and take an air mattress with me so I can get in there ASAP. I can’t wait to be all moved in! Pictures to come. Pinterest is about to be my new best decorating friend.

Let’s Chat

What have you been up to lately?

What’s your perfect morning coffee spot?

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