Wednesday, October 5, 2016

3 Lessons at 30

Today I turn 30.

Me turning 21
I have anticipated today for years. Each birthday the past ten years, I have thought to myself, “I still have __ years in my 20s”. With each friend’s 30th birthday celebration I have thought, “Still __ months until I celebrate mine.”

Today is a milestone that I wasn’t ever sure how to feel about. Being the youngest of most of my friends, I watched them all turn 30 and recognized how youthful they still are. My perspective of what it means to be a 30-year-old has shifted dramatically since my early 20s. What used to seem old and out-of-touch to me now seems young and vibrant. My friend told me a couple days ago, “Your 30s are just like your 20s, but you’re smarter and have more money.” Both of those things are true so far, and I’m happy for it.
Me turning 24, Cam discovering bundt cakes.

At the same time, a subtle wave of grief hit me last night in the final hours of my 20s as I reflected on how fast 30 years of my life has gone by. If my next 30 years go by as quick as the first, I will need to slow down to truly experience what makes life good. I have countless trips, robust experiences, happy memories and milestones under my belt, but I can’t help to feel that life is painfully short.

I know the following decades will each bring their own wisdom, but here are the three most important lessons I learned in my 20s.

Health is so much more than just physical fitness
If you had asked me in my early-20s to describe what it means to be healthy, I would have answered with a dress size. While physical fitness is still very important to me, it used to be my sole indicator of health. It didn’t matter to me what I was putting into my body, how I felt physically and emotionally, or if there was balance in my life, as long as I was getting 4-5 workouts in a week and stayed the same size.

The past ten years have seen a trend (or hopefully a permanent way of thinking) regarding eating non-processed foods. Most nutritionists and dietitians have debunked the effectiveness of “dieting” and emphasized eating a reasonable amount of real, fresh food. It wasn’t until my metabolism began slowing down in my late-20s that I became mindful of my eating habits and noticed how much better I not only look, but feel, when I eat well and the right amount.

Wrecking my car on my 26th
I did not understand the importance of my emotional health until I began yoga teacher training at 25. My past had been plagued with insecurity, low self-esteem, and a tendency to attack people when my fight or flight response was triggered. One of the best pieces of advice I got in yoga teacher training is that you control your own happiness. Life inevitably brings hardship and bad days. It’s unreasonable to think that you will succeed at everything, that people will always treat you the way you want to be treated, or that you will feel secure in every aspect of your life. It is very reasonable, however, to take control of how you react to these situations. We can’t control what life brings. We can control how we react to it. We can also learn to love ourselves unconditionally, because if we don’t love and respect ourselves, how can we possibly project it on others?

Finally, I’ve learned that health is also about finding a balance in your life. Balance between work and play, family and friends, eating well and treating yourself. I will never reap the rewards of working hard at my job if I do not set aside time to enjoy my life, my loved ones, and obviously, my income. Besides fitting into my favorite skinny jeans, this is what it means for me to be “healthy” these days.

Your true friends will reveal themselves over time
Me turning 27
This one has been a tough one. It has always been important for me to have friends and to treat them well. Those close to me will describe me as a fiercely loyal friend. Inevitably and understandably, friends come and go. Friends who you bonded with and shared significant moments of your life with find new interests, develop values different from yours, and make new friends. Some friends physically move away. This happens to all of us, and isn’t something to be hurt over. Similarly, we shouldn’t feel guilty when we make new friends and bond with them “better” than our old ones.

However, time and physical distance spent apart are also excellent opportunities to gauge the depth of a friendship. A true friend isn’t one who is always available to meet you for a drink, or that you spend the most time with. A true friend isn’t the person you’re seen most with in pictures on social media, or that is willing to travel long distances to make it to a celebration. A true friend is the person who hurts when you hurt and who rejoices when you rejoice, whether physically or in spirit. A true friend is the person who understands who you are and what is important to you, and shows you that you are important to them. A true friend doesn’t necessarily change with you, but remembers why you were friends at one point in life, and seamlessly connects where you left off. These friends should not be taken for granted.
Turning 28 at ACL

On the contrary, the past decade has revealed that many people I considered good friends were merely there for convenience. I have painfully learned that when a friend sends a message, I should listen. I anticipate that the following decades will bring both strong new friendships to be cherished, as well as the disappointment of learning that a friendship may not have been as strong as it seemed.

We’re all on different paths to happiness, and no path is better than another
This is something I really struggled with in my early-20s, and is what Chick Lit authors write bestselling novels about. While I had much in common with my friends at the stage in life we met in, ultimately many of us took separate forks in the road as we discovered what was truly important to us. As I approached my mid-20s, I witnessed others around me making life decisions that were right for them, but terrified me at that point in life. Witnessing friends get married, have children, move to the suburbs, etc. perplexed me, and honestly alienated me from a few at the time. As much as I hate to admit, I was extremely judgmental towards people who chose to do things that I wasn’t on board with at the time. I imposed my own values system on them: “Why would you want to rush into that? You’re still young!”

What I’ve learned the past few years is that everyone’s definition of happiness is different and involves decisions that are irrelevant to where I’m at in my life. I learned to support people and wish the best for them, regardless of how their path may differ from mine. Perhaps they weren’t “rushing” into anything, but rather intentionally and purposefully doing what made them happy. No path is right or wrong, or better or worse; our paths to happiness are simply different. (By the way, this also applies to those who have told me and Cam “it’s time” to have babies.) ;)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Well I guess this is growing up.

Throughout my childhood, I always regarded “adulthood” as a sort of a fabled event that would never really happen to me- at least for a really long time. I was a child – a teenager – a college kid – a young adult, but NEVER an adult. It has recently occurred to me that perhaps I was a little na├»ve. Adulthood is real, and it’s happening now. Here’s how I can tell.

  1. Few things make me more excited than getting a full eight hours of sleep
  2. I can’t remember the last time I was at a bar during last call
  3. Carrying a balance on my credit card is unthinkable
  4. “Going out” has evolved from meaning a long night out at multiple bars, to dinner at a restaurant followed by having a drink at A bar (if I'm feeling crazy)
  5. I didn't wear a slutty Halloween costume this year. Or last year. Or…you get the point
  6. I floss every night
  7. Cheap wine? I'll pass.
  8. Being cautious not to overdraft my checking account seems laughable (this was a daily concern for me not many years ago)
  9. You’ll never see a photo like this of me on Facebook again:

Or like this:

Or like this:

  1. Drinking before noon? That’s unacceptable!
  2. I canceled my tanning membership three years ago
  3. I took my navel ring out six years ago
  4. Easy Mac no longer seems like a perfectly suitable weeknight dinner
  5. No scenario exists where I’d be desperate enough to drink a Natural Light
  6. I have a wedding/shower/Bachelorette party every other weekend through 2014
  7.  An 8 year old with an iPhone? I was 16 when I got a cell phone! Kids these days…
  8. The parties I plan these days say "cocktails" and "hors d'oeuvres" on the invitation
  9. My days of eating fast food cheeseburgers and fries daily while still fitting into a Size 4 are long gone
  10. I change my linens every two weeks
  11.  “I don’t know, I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll stay in tonight.”
  12. I have living plants in my apartment. I water them.
  13. It is now against my better judgment to wear a shirt bragging about the size of my writing utensil to Six Flags Over Texas:

Well I guess this is growing up.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rant Less - My Rant About Rants

Rants. Seen one lately? If you’re like most of us, you did moments ago when someone posted a passive-aggressive tweet about their job – or half an hour ago when your best friend went off on her wireless provider on Facebook – or yesterday when an unsatisfied customer wrote a reputation-damaging Yelp review about a restaurant you almost went to. I myself have dedicated two entire blog posts to things that irritate me in life.

I feel that we as a culture spend too much time complaining about the unpleasant things in life and not enough time appreciating the pleasant ones. Can things really be that bad? Chances are the great things in life outnumber the not-so-great ones.

Let’s be real. Who besides you cares that you’re working late (except maybe your boyfriend who now has to find alternate dinner plans), or that the restaurant you just ate at has no changing station for your six-month-old (… nobody cares about that.) Instead, perhaps we should spend more time acknowledging the things in life that we really appreciate. Here are some for me:
  • My grandfather’s vision of a good life for his children and future grandchildren has been actualized since he came to the United States in 1965. (RIP Dziadziu)
  • Aside from damage from a wisdom tooth extraction gone wrong last year, my body is healthy, strong and capable of mobility.
  • It’s 77 degrees and sunny in Dallas, and thanks to Daylight Savings Time and my reasonable work schedule, I’ll get to catch the last couple of hours of daylight today on Katy Trail.
  • Almost eight years after graduating high school, I still keep in touch with my childhood and high school friends on a regular basis. We are taking a BYOB painting lesson together in Dallas this Friday.

When evaluating the big picture, rants seem so silly. Yes, Jenny, the Stone Age-like speed of your wireless Internet and the incessant barking of your neighbor’s Pomeranian might prompt you to throw objects at times, but a) At least you can afford your own place, and b) Nobody cares. (Talking in third person can also help put things in perspective.)

My new challenge will be to rant less and appreciate more. After I post this rant, of course.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Say NO to Paper

I have an aversion to paper filing systems.

That’s the nicest way I can put it. Truly, I loathe paper files, and when coworkers offer me stacks of paper files claiming I might find them “useful”, they might as well slap me in the face and tell me I am less-than-average-looking. It hurts.

Paper files are not and never will be useful, especially with today’s predominantly paperless culture. I try to keep my cubicle as free of paper as possible, with minor exceptions such as marketing materials and original contracts/sensitive documents. Paper clutters office space. It is not environmentally friendly. It is archaic.

Why some people chose to keep paper copies of everything baffles me. Printed copies of e-mails, meeting agendas without notes written on them, pages printed off companies’ websites- all documents that can either be located on your hard-drive or found on the Internet. As our culture moves further and further away from paper and embraces digital technology, why do we continue to hoard useless paper in our offices?

A coworker recently awarded me the opportunity to sort through a previous employee’s paper files leftover in his desk and check if I could find anything useful to me. The process took two hours, and I found absolutely nothing worthy of storing in my desk. This was my coworker’s way of politely telling me, “Here, get this sh*t out of my way and find someplace else to put it.”

Oh, certainly! I’ll put it exactly where it belongs- in the recycling bin.

Could this be a Generation Y attitude? Is anybody else with me?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ching chong, Alexandra Wallace, you did digital wrong.

Many of you are probably familiar with the recent controversy regarding former UCLA junior Alexandra Wallace, who posted a racist video on YouTube about Asians at UCLA. Shortly after Wallace posted the video, it went viral and elicited a violent reaction from UCLA's student body- particularly the Asian population, which encompasses 37% of the school's undergraduate population.

Wallace resigned from UCLA days later after being bombarded with harassment and even death threats from peers. Here are a few of my favorite video responses that streamed in after the video was posted:

"I'd like to get something off my chest, rather than in my chest..."

This guy actually attempts to respond to her argument rather than merely mocking her:

And finally, my personal favorite... rather than responding with more hatred, this guy countered her argument with a hilarious parody:

Last night in my digital textuality class, we reviewed these videos at length and discussed how the change from analog to digital allowed for something like this to happen. Some of the explanations are obvious- with digital file sharing, Wallace was able to distribute her video exponentially, when before she would have had to manually reproduce each video and send it to 1,000,000 + recipients to elicit the same kind of response. The speed and uncontrollable nature of dissemination are also a result of digital file sharing.

I personally believe the most significant implication resulting from digital file sharing is that the consequences were most likely unintended. Let's face it, Wallace is no rocket scientist. In fact, watching her rant makes you question the admission standards at UCLA. It is likely that she was not cognizant of the viral nature of YouTube videos, and did not anticipate her video would be picked up by more people than she personally shared it with. Digital file sharing causes you to lose control of how you share your content, and puts it completely in the hands of the online community. Unfortunately for Wallace, once she uploaded her rant to YouTube, she no longer really had any ownership of it. Bet she wishes she could take that one back...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A little lesson in Facebook etiquette

I love Facebook. For the past six years, I’ve eagerly logged onto Facebook every morning and updated myself on all of my friends’ new photos, amusing status updates, and witty correspondences with each other. I think Facebook is great… when it’s used appropriately.

Lately my enthusiasm for my favorite social networking site has dwindled. I am often annoyed, frustrated, and sometimes outright saddened by the way some of my Facebook friends are using the platform. To some, the concepts of excessiveness and censorship do not seem to exist. A handful of horrendous posts have thus inspired me to blog about tips on Facebook etiquette.

You might be thinking, “Well who the heck are you, some kind of Facebook expert?” Why yes, in fact, I sort of am. Not only am I working on a Master’s in Emerging Media and Communication (aka Master’s in Facebook), I also maintain my company’s Facebook for a living.

Expert credentials aside, I now present to you these tips on how to use Facebook appropriately and how not to make people like me sad as we scroll through our Newsfeeds.

Tip #1 – Do not abuse the status update

Your college football team is playing its biggest rival and you engage in playful banter. You have a difference of opinion about who deserved to win on a nationally televised show. You just signed up for a cool event happening in your neighborhood. You’re a really clever person and anything you say somehow turns out to be funny.

These are all examples of status-worthy updates.

There are other things about you that your Facebook friends just don’t need to know. While you may find a recap of your day’s mundane activities interesting, others do not. A status update is not necessary each time you leave your house or open your refrigerator. Everyone showers, works out, and looks forward to the weekend. Status updates are reserved for comments that are funny, thoughtful, informative, or at a minimum, interesting. In addition, we do not need to know about how much you love spending time with your boo or how you have the BeSt FrIeNdS iN tHe WoRlD! Please, spare us.

Tip #2 - Get a room

I seem to be greatly outnumbered in my belief that your significant other has no place in your profile picture. This I can l learn to live with. I think we can all agree, however, that your significant other’s tongue deeply nestled in your throat….has no place in your profile picture.

You’ve found the love of your life and you’re elated. That’s great, really. It’s human nature to love and want to be loved. I’m not so sure that Facebook is the right platform on which to express your adoration for each other, however. There are certain aspects of a relationship that should be kept private- or at least offline. Sure, young love is adorable, but when your Facebook Newsfeed turns into a conglomeration of borderline pornography and “No, I love you MORE!” battles, it makes you a little uncomfortable. These are the types of things that should be shared in your personal lives and not posted all over a social networking site. I find it troublesome when one’s identity becomes inseparable from their significant other’s on Facebook. It’s YOUR profile after all- not you and your significant other’s.

Tip #3 – Vulgarity and hatefulness are big no-nos

This issue is one that I find paramount, and is also the reason I was inspired to write this blog post. Recently, I was exposed to a post that was so obnoxious and profane, it made me feel sick to my stomach. I am a proponent of free speech, and I think that Facebook is a great platform to express opinions and engage in discourse (although I’d argue that twitter is the more appropriate platform). When you use hateful, profane language about someone or someone’s political party/team/school/etc… however, you are crossing the line.

I find these posts not only to be hurtful and disturbing, but distasteful in general. It’s one thing to talk trash and playfully banter about a rival team, but when you go so far as to say malicious things to get a rise out of someone, it’s tacky and it shows weakness. I think this is amplified when you say obnoxious, derogatory things about a team and its fans based in your hometown.

Not only is typing in all caps offensive, it makes people question your highest completed level of education. I used to type in all caps, too. I was 9, and I had not yet discovered the magical button on my keyboard known as “Shift”.

One exclamation point implies the same as five exclamation points. Are you sure you even need an exclamation point? An exclamation point is not the "every-day" way and should be reserved for holidays, dinner parties and special occasions- just like you would use a formal dining room (thank you, Jennuh Reeves, for the illustrative metaphor). So please, think twice before you attack us all with your caps and excessive punctuation.