In Praise of My Favorite

I have always thought that I don’t get stressed out easily, but really it’s just that I don’t stress out about the same things my friends stress about.  Throughout my high school and college years, my friends have been worried about grades and relationships, primarily.  While I did yearn for a boyfriend in high school, I never worried about grades.  I worked hard, but I didn’t stress out about an 88.9 versus a 90.  I always did my best, and then took what grade was assigned.  Grades don’t bother me — I know I can pass classes, and when I’m truly invested in a project I take a lot of pride in my work.

So while a lot of my friends are panicking about final exams and presentations, I’m coasting right through that.  What I’ve been panicking about recently is my job and living situation.

I’ve always been one to plan for the future.  I have a good idea of what I’d like to do.  But if you’ve been reading this blog awhile, you know that I have had a lot of trouble job hunting.  I have realized that part of my problem is that the jobs I’m applying to are ones that want to hire immediately, and until this Saturday (!!!), I’m still in school.  I’m not physically in the city I’m moving to, so it’s difficult for me to schedule interviews, and I’ve lost a few opportunities that way.  This is so frustrating when I’m trying to be proactive.

An added stressor is that my fiancé and I are trying to find a place to live.  He has a job set up, but we are having to apply for apartments using only his expected income, which obviously limits us to a tighter budget than it would if I had a job already also.  We’re to the point where we need to find one, and fast, and while we have viewing appointments set up for this week, it’s just stressful not knowing.

All this stress has gotten to me these past couple weeks.  I haven’t really been myself, because I’m so frustrated with my job search.  I know I will be able to find something eventually, but at the moment I feel like I am the one holding us back.  And then there is the fact that my parents still aren’t thrilled with the idea of us moving together.  It’s just a lot to handle, and I haven’t handled it very well.

My fiancé obviously notices this.  And I always, always forget what an incredible support he is to me.  When I get stressed or frustrated, I tend to distance myself, because even now I dislike feeling dependent, especially financially.  I like to be a self-sufficient person, and when my lack of a job is the thing hurting our apartment search, it’s mildly devastating.  But I need to remember that he and I are a team.

Whenever he notices that I’m not myself, he goes out of his way to help me out.  He’s kind and patient with me, and doesn’t let me keep my problems to myself.  He asks me what’s wrong until I admit the real problem.  And then he listens to me, and he understands.  And then he reassures me that yes, this sucks, but we’re going to make it.  This is life, and sometimes it’s frustrating, but I don’t have to deal with it alone.  And then he just acts like a goofball until I end up laughing.

I can’t explain enough how good this is for me.  I can be a negative person, and I also tend to give up when I get overwhelmed.  He reminds me of the good things that are happening in my life, and reminds me to take things one step at a time.  These past few weeks since we got engaged have been stressful and intense, but that is no better reminder that it’s for this and a million other reasons that I’m so, so excited to marry him.

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Goal Update: April 2017

We’re halfway through April, so I’m technically late for a goal update! I have only 2 weeks left of college (!), and I remember that during my last goal update I unofficially culled some goals, so this will likely be a bit shorter than normal. 

Life Goals

  1. Be intentional about communication, especially with roommates. Well, I am glad I made this goal, because otherwise I may not have said anything to my roommate when I came home one night to see her boyfriend, who I’ve never met, drunk and standing in doorway of my apartment in only his boxers. To say that was an uncomfortable, infuriating situation is a huge understatement. But because I did have this goal, and because my boyfriend, who was with me when I happened upon that lovely scene, was also very angry, I quelled my hatred of confrontation and talked to her the next day. And because she is a nice person, she apologized, and has talked to her boyfriend. And we are both moving out in three weeks, so hopefully it won’t happen again.
  2. Get physically stronger, or failing that, just don’t be a couch potato. This was one of the goals I almost threw out the window, but modified instead. However, since getting a new phone, I discovered a fabulous yoga app. I expect to have more specific goals to use it when I start my new round of goals after graduation! I may even give the app its own review post, because I am loving it. 
  3. Read more non-white authors. I’m honestly not even actively trying to find these anymore, since I already had several great ones on my TBR in March. But great-sounding books keep appearing in my path, and they keep being by non-white authors. I’m not complaining. Check out my TBR.
  4. Food: Cook, and stick to $15/month on coffee. Cooking is now an opportunistic thing. But I have stuck to my coffee budget, even though I’m already at my limit for April due to a $6 boutique coffee shop honey lavender latte. No regrets. 

    Education/Career Goals

    1. COB Ambassadors: all goals on this have been killed. RIP. 
    2. Apply to 5ish jobs a month. Yep, still doing this. Doesn’t seem like it’s paying off, though. It’s starting to stress me out. 

    That’s it for the goals. Here’s to the home stretch to graduation. 

    How to Survive an Interview (or Audition)

    I’ve worked random part-time jobs since I was about 16.  While not every singe job I’ve had required an interview, and while a lot of those interviews were more formalities, I’ve been through a few.  In high school, I also did a lot of flute auditions, which kind of count as a musical interview — the judges are assessing your skills and qualifications, just like they do in interviews, and the nervousness beforehand feels about the same.  So although I’m not an expert, here are some of the things I do to 1) survive and 2) do my best in interviews.

    1. Tips from my flute teacher: eat well beforehand.  This sounds like the opposite of what you’d want to do — nervousness makes some people nauseous, so why would we want to eat?  For auditions, my teacher told me that eating tricks your brain into thinking it’s not in “danger.”  If your stomach is full, your brain says, you must be in a non-threatening environment, because no living thing eats when they are in danger.  Choosing what you eat helps, too — turkey and bananas both have tryptophan, which just makes us fall asleep after Thanksgiving, but calms our bodies down before auditions and interviews.
    2. penguin
      If you visualize, you can avoid this

      Visualize yourself in the interview or audition.  This does work a bit better for auditions, because you usually know what you’ll be expected to play, but it can be modified for interviews as well.  Before auditions, when I was practicing, my flute teacher told me to close my eyes and imagine myself walking into the audition room.  I would visualize how I was going to stand, how much I would breathe, and then would imagine playing each and every scale.  Don’t just think about the audition, she said, imagine every single finger position and every movement that your body will be making.  It’s a way of being in the environment without actually being there, and it helps to alleviate fear of the unknown.  For interviews, you can imagine yourself going in and saying hi, and then sitting down and taking a deep breath before you answer a question.  You can imagine how you will explain your skills and experience, and then imagine giving a strong handshake before walking out.  It feels a little weird at first, but it really has helped me in the past.  If you’ve done something before, it’s not as scary, so this is a good way to practice for an interview or audition.

    3. Be prepared.  When I apply for a job, I try to always looks around the company’s website a bit to get a feel for the company, products, and culture.  If I get an interview request, I go back to the job listing and match responsibilities and skills to relevant experience on my resume.  I try to come up with specific anecdotes to illustrate those skills.  Then I go back to the company’s website for two reasons: 1) to re-familiarize myself with the company and the department I am interviewing for (if possible), and 2) to learn more about the company so I can come up with intelligent questions to ask during the interview.
    4. flawsAnswer questions genuinely and honestly.  We all know that when asked about our weaknesses, we’re supposed to say that we are perfectionists and pay too much attention to detail.  But unless that truly is your weakness, I think it’s cliche.  Interviewers would rather hear about the real you, so be honest.  When I’m asked that question, I typically answer that I avoid tasks I know I’m not good at.  I’ve noticed that about myself and jobs.  However, I do mention that since I know that about myself, I try to be intentional about learning and practicing in weak areas, and knowing when to ask for help.  Knowing your weaknesses and having a plan to correct them should impress employers.  And while some people have told me that it’s better to have a “strong” weakness — ie, one that can be spun into a strength — when I’ve gone that route, I’ve ended up sounding fake.  So for me, being honest is better, and if that is the thing that loses me a job, so be it.
    5. Waiter-pun
      A great interview — but did he get the job??

      Don’t get too excited after a good interview (but don’t beat yourself up, either).  Not to sound pessimistic, but I learned this from experience.  Back in the fall, I had an interview for a manager trainee position.  I went to the interview, and felt it went really well.  I had specific examples to back up my skills and qualifications, the interviewer was friendly, and the job sounded great.  I even had more than one intelligent questions to ask about the job.  I was sure I’d get chosen for the second interview, so I told a bunch of people about it and got really excited.  And guess what?  I didn’t get the second interview.  It was quite disappointing.  I don’t know why I didn’t pass that stage — it could’ve been that there were other, much more qualified candidates, or it could’ve been that my interview didn’t go as well as I thought.  Either way, I chose (for once!) to look on the bright side — doing that interview was excellent practice, and I learned a lot from it.  So while I didn’t get the job, it was definitely still worth the time.

    6. Know that you’re not going to nail every interview.  You’re just not.  Sometimes, you’re off your game, sometimes the interviewer is in a bad mood, and sometimes you’re just not a good fit for the job.  It’s okay.  Interviews are a part of life, and you’re not going to “win” all of them.
    7. Finally, no matter how the interview went, you should celebrate that it’s over.  Interviews and auditions are stressful.  If it went great, that’s awesome!  Congratulate yourself with an ice cream cone or something.  If it went terrible, that sucks, and a wine and movie night is definitely warranted.  Even if you don’t get the job, you got through the interview (or audition), and that in itself is something worth celebrating.

     

    The Hunt

    Ah, the job search.  How I adore the hunt, sniffing out the trail of “Hiring” signs and applications.  How I love the interviews — that slick feeling on the palms of my hands as I smile and try to answer coherently.  How I relish being turned down so I can search some more!

    Right.  I’ve been looking for a summer job for a few weeks, and dude, it is hard.  I apply and get rejected, apply and get rejected, and the list keeps getting longer.  I am not an assertive person.  I am not a people person.  I hate going into stores and asking if they are hiring.  I put it off as long as possible.  But it’s inevitable.  At this moment, I am dreading growing up, because that means REALLY searching hard.  If I have this much trouble just finding a summer job, what am I going to do after college?

    I actually got my first job last summer.  There is a frozen yogurt parlor close to my house, and I thought it might be a fun place to work.  I got an application, filled it out, and walked in one day.  The manager was there, and she looked over the application, asked me a couple of questions, and then handed me a W2 and a t-shirt.

    I was elated.  How easy was that?  I started training the next week and worked there till school began.  I believed — and still do — that God had given me that job.

    However, I almost wish it had not been that easy.  I’ve had to realize that I was an exception last summer, and that to get a job I have to work a lot harder.  And it’s difficult.  When I’m nervous, I procrastinate.  Then my parents get on my back about it and that makes me even less inclined to do what I have to.

    I’m thankful for my parents, and I know they’re trying to help.  But all the “pep talks” in the world are not going to make me grow up any faster, and I wish they would realize that I need to make my own mistakes.  I need to make up my own mind.  But I also know that this is my life, and I need to be satisfied with my own motives.  Just because my parents tell me to do something doesn’t mean that’s the reason I do it.

    This probably sounds like a rant, and I guess it is.  I just want someone to know that I am doing what I need to do.  And I am still trusting God.

    Now I’m off to call about a job.