Being Present

 

Credit: Pinterest

Last week I came across the above quote and it really spoke to me. Being physically present and being mentally present have two completely different definitions. Lately I have been feeling the absence of deep, meaningful conversations in my life and I yearn for that void to be filled.

I cannot remember the last time a phone wasn’t pulled out at some point during a conversation. When hanging out with a group of friends all it takes is one person to pick up their phone and everyone feels obligated to check theirs too. We have grown accustomed to the presence of technology and it is getting harder and harder to be fully present in day to day life. The truth about technology is saddening because no one my age knows how to entertain themselves without a screen. Someone whip out Yahtzee or Pictionary, PLEASE.

It may seem ridiculous to live without technology but pulling back from constant screen use is a great way to slow down your brain. Lock your phone and instead pass some time by reading, journaling or drawing…unleash the creativity! Once enough time is focused in a more constructive place than the depths of someone’s Instagram page a feeling of relaxation arises. There will always be time to be engrossed in social media but I hope more than anything that young people can learn to stay present in the more simple joys of life.

When having a conversation, I try to remind myself to continuously look someone in the eye and ask questions about what they are saying. That is the best way to show your true interest in another person. It is just too easy to get lost behind a screen when the world is going by around us. We walk around engrossed in the latest Tasty video or Snapchat story, completely oblivious to the beauty passing by with every step.

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It may seem impossible to go a full day without your phone but the experience will allow you to see the world a little differently. You don’t need that perfectly staged Snapchat video or Instagram story to show that you are having fun with your friends. There is definitely pressure in our world today about posting constantly to ensure that your followers know you are maintaining an interesting life. Your friends that you are hanging out with already know how much fun you are. Pictures and videos are great, but soaking in the memories with your eyes and ears is more organic and fulfilling.

It is always great to snap some pics of a new place or some cool food, but save the editing and posting until after in order to enjoy the rest of the day. People always seemed surprised when I say I left my phone at home for the day or night; it’s like a security blanket that is thought to be a necessity when I can function just as well without it.

Right now you are looking at a screen, as are billions of people around the world. Try taking a breather from all the screens and pay attention to the beautiful details all around you because the world is a lot more interesting than the Instagram popular page.

I snapped this pic before embarking on a beautiful walk down the beach a few weeks ago. Left my phone in the car (:

 

Navigating Professional Dress

I spent 3 weeks in professional clothing.

via Tumblr

3 sad, long weeks without leggings, sweatshirts, t-shirts, sneakers, moccasins – basically all of my most loved pieces in my wardrobe.

And the reason why I spent 3 weeks in professional clothing was primarily due to the fact that I was pledging Emerson College’s only local, professional sorority, Kappa Gamma Chi! Now that those 3 weeks are over and I crossed into Kappa, I learned a lot about professionalism and what it means to dress professionally; especially figuring out how to balance professionalism with comfort.

For the most part, I had two constant questions running through my mind when I was pledging: Is professional dress limited to a select handful of clothing options? Are we all going to be stuck wearing dress pants, blouses, and heels for the rest of our lives?

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Eating & Crying My Way through Midterms

CREDIT: tumblr user remindmewhatiusedtolike
CREDIT: tumblr user remindmewhatiusedtolike

Midterms are here.

And at this moment in time, I am surprised to say that I do not feel extremely stressed out. Since my exams and projects are spread out through this month, I am anticipating my transformation into the peak definition of a hot mess by the time midterms are done and as finals loom in the distance. I suppose that is why I want more than ever to hide in my basement forty-five minutes away from campus and stay there until all of my academic responsibilities fly away. With this in mind, it is important to figure out the ways we can all destress and to have snippets of quality time where we are able to seek comfort and positivity. And for me, I am definitely one of those people who benefit from eating good food and crying.

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Get Out the Vote at Emerson

On Tuesday, November 8th, millions of Americans will cast their votes in the presidential election. But, you might be shocked by how many college students find themselves confused and lost once election season finally rolls around. For many students, their first experience voting will be via an absentee ballot, and yet obtaining that ballot may not seem like a simple task. Students may find themselves wondering: when is the absentee ballot application deadline? And, why do we even need to apply for an absentee ballot? Or, for college kids even further behind, they may be left wondering how to register in the first place.

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Back to Campus: Quelling College-Related Anxiety

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Last August, I was terrified to start college.

On another hand, I was also excited to get to campus. Soon, I’d be taking classes in the areas of study that most interested me. My roommates and I had already become well-acquainted through the power of Facebook, which ensured I would not be entering my college years alone.

Still, I had lived in the same comfortable, yet boring, town for the majority of my life. Though my most valuable friendships were not made until high school, I had gone to class alongside the same students for years. My school wouldn’t be too far from home but I recognized that college would still bring tremendous change to my life. And, unfortunately, change can be scary.

Continue reading “Back to Campus: Quelling College-Related Anxiety”

How to Read More Books This Summer

Throughout childhood and into my teens I always had a book on hand—they were my greatest pleasure, and most of my all-nighters in high school were the fault of compelling novels rather than term papers. Then I came to college and something shifted. Thrown into a new environment and adjusting to so many new lifestyle changes, recreational reading fell a long way down on my list of priorities. If I read at all, they were textbook chapters and assigned books for my classes. Unread novels began to pile up on my bookshelf. Instead of cracking open one of the books I’d brought from home, I spent my evenings binge-watching Netflix or cracking jokes in the common room. Even after I’d adjusted to the rhythm of college life, my lack of reading had become a habit of its own and the number of books I read annually took a noticeable dive.

Some people are fine with this kind of reading volume. Maybe you get your stories from movies or television without any internal compunctions. This is a totally valid way to feel about books. Stories and creative stimulus are not confined to literature. Drama, film, performance art, etc.—all mediums of storytelling are fulfilling in their own way. But if, like me, unread books lurk at the back of your mind, if you feel guilty every time you walk out of a bookstore, if you grow increasingly frustrated every time you look at your bookshelf, or feel you are losing a valuable part of your identity, read on to discover how you can reclaim a love of books this summer.

SET ASIDE TIME TO READ

If you want reading to be part of your life, you need to make time for it. When people say “I don’t have enough time to read”, they are not approaching the problem correctly. They’re probably thinking about the cumulative amount of time it might take to finish a book, to flop down on a couch for a few hours with a new read and finish it in one sitting. Nobody has that kind of time anymore—the trick is to teach yourself to read in small bites. Maybe you don’t have a couple of hours to spare, but what about half an hour? Read on your lunch break or for 30 minutes at night in bed before you go to sleep. As an added benefit, reading a physical book instead of looking at the blue light from a computer or mobile device before bed may help you sleep more soundly!

READ OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

If you really can’t carve out any time at home for reading, let those spare minutes find you instead, and be prepared for them. Books, after all, are a uniquely portable magic. Waiting rooms, checkout lines, airport terminals—all were made for reading. Carry a book with you wherever you go. And don’t count out time while you’re driving! Audiobooks are growing in popularity, and thanks to services like Audible and iBooks they are more accessible than ever. By being flexible with when and how you read, books have more opportunities to capture your interest and integrate themselves into your daily routine.

READ INDULGENTLY, NOT RESPONSIBLY

Read books that you want to read. This sounds like a no-brainer, but for me it was a lesson that bore repeating. While I was in my book rut I was trying to read books like Paradise Lost or the collected letters of Robert Penn Warren. They were long, academic books that I felt I ought to read, that I wanted to have read, but when it came down to it I was not particularly interested in actually reading.

Recreational reading should not feel like work. If you’re struggling to finish a book, or find it all too easy to forget about it for days at a time, set it aside and find something new. There are too many books in the world to waste time on a boring one. Read what you like, whether it’s graphic novels or YA series or romances or science fiction, and don’t let yourself settle for anything that doesn’t excite you.

Instagram Worthy Summer Adventures

Summer is almost halfway through and thus you may be thinking “what have I even done so far?” Between working or summer classes, it is easy to feel as if you are not making the most of  your “summer fun.” This is especially the case when social media tends to make your friends’ lives seem so exciting. If you feel as if you are wasting away your chance at some summer adventures, here are some ideas to help you make the best of your summer.

Day Trips

Juggling a summer job or internship while trying to still have a social life is not an easy task. One of the best ways to make the most of your limited time of is by going on day trips. Anything less than a two hour drive is a good option. Public transportation is also a great option. Going somewhere you’ve never been before even if it’s not a major tourist spot can still make you feel like you’re doing something. It’s always fun to explore a new town or city, try new restaurants, and experience the culture. You never know what you may discover.

Even if you’ve been somewhere before, there is almost always something new to do or see. You never know what you may discover.  You can always try searching Pinterest or even googling for ideas. Viewing your area from the eyes of someone else can remind you of places you’ve always wanted to go or never even knew existed.

Explore the Arts

Most cities, towns or neighboring areas have some sort of local arts scene. Don’t be afraid to check out a local gallery, nearby concert or theater production. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of the artists or bands. In fact, that’s probably better as it will make the experience more of an adventure. Opening yourself up to new art is always a valuable experience. Local arts scenes also tend to be close knit, so it’s likely you’ll learn about other events while you are there.

Also consider checking out some local museums. Most museums are free or low cost and many even offer student discounts. Museums are a great way to learn something new and get inspired. Even your local town history museum is worth checking out. Typically, the people who work in museums are genuinely interested in starting conversations and sharing their knowledge, so be sure to ask questions and gain as much as possible from the experience.

Explore the Outdoors

Camping is a great way to travel on a budget. Most areas have nearby state parks with tent sites or low cost campgrounds. There is so much to see outdoors, and there are so many adventures to be had. Depending on where you live, there are likely different kinds of hiking trails to explore. If you’re a beginner start out with easy trails and see how you like it. There are also so many other options for exploring nature. Everything from riding your bike to spending a day at the beach can be a great summer adventure. If you don’t have a full day to spend outside, consider going on a picnic. Simply getting out in the fresh air can remind you of the joy of summer.

Record these adventures in photos and journals. You can post about it on social media if you wish, but don’t feel obligated to blog every minute. Remember, this adventure is something for you, not something to use just to show off. Make memories that are powerful and fulfilling without worrying about what your Instagram caption will be.

Make the Most of Your Mondays

Garfield famously hates Mondays. If you go to the clothing section of almost any store you’re bound to find shirts that boast how much they hate Mondays. The Cure permanently dubbed Mondays as blue in “Friday I’m in Love.” No matter where you look at it, the world seems to collectively hate Mondays.

I’m no fan of Mondays either. I’m no stranger to being up late on a Sunday night and groaning because I realize what day it is tomorrow. But lately I’ve started to realize that adamantly hating one day of the week might not be the best attitude to have.

Mondays are often considered the beginning of the week because that’s when the work week starts. Monday is a chance for a fresh start and if you have a bad attitude about it, it might affect how your week goes.

I’m starting to think that changing my attitude about Mondays might go a long way:

Schedule Something to Look Forward To

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During this past school year, I always looked forward to Mondays because I had a club meeting at night that I enjoyed attending. If you schedule an activity that you know you’re going to look forward to on a Monday, it might make getting through that Monday grind a little easier. Make plans to hang out with friends on Monday nights or get coffee with someone if your schedules are too busy hang out. Mondays definitely may not have the most freedom as Fridays, but they don’t have to be miserable.

Start at a Reasonable Time

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If you’re in college and you’re able to make your own schedule, consider what time you’re starting on Mondays. You may not want to schedule that 8am class because it’s often hard to get up early especially at the beginning of the week. But it also may not be good to not schedule classes until 4pm. If you don’t have classes until the afternoon, you might not have any motivation to get up until the late afternoon and then your week is off to a sluggish start. Mondays are all about balance and knowing your schedule is key to getting a Monday attitude.

Take it as an Opportunity

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We all know Mondays stink, but if you try to have a better attitude about Mondays, it may help your whole week go more smoothly. Don’t treat it as a hurdle you have to get over just to get closer to Friday, but rather as an opportunity to get things done for the week. If Monday is one of your more productive days of the week, it leaves less for you to do later in the week when you start to anticipate the weekend. I often find it easier to tackle large projects like papers and presentations on Sundays and Mondays rather than on Thursdays and Fridays when the upcoming weekend has taken all my motivation away.

No matter what you do to try to make your Mondays more manageable, just realize that Monday is the start of the week. So if you try to make the most of your Mondays, hopefully the rest of the week will be just as successful.

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Images: Giphy (3), Jim Davis (1)

Decision Making: Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Form

To some people, I may seem decisive. To others, they’ve probably never seen me set down a firm decision. Always yielding to the people around me, whether it be the cuisine for a dinner out with friends or a subject matter I didn’t know much about or have experience with. I wasn’t born decisive. And quite frankly, I don’t think anyone was. Either way, I’ve learned some things through the many decisions I have and have not made.

First off, not every right decision will lead to happiness. At least, not immediately. That must be accepted first and foremost. If you think the right answer and happiness are synonymous, you might have been making the wrong decision all along. Take breakups for example, I doubt they’re easy for either partner, but the decision was made probably for the better. Your heart will catch up to your decision, just not instantaneously.

Something else I’ve learned is that information will always be the North Star in the decision making process. Even if it’s an emotional decision, it’s grounding to have some sort of fact to connect your brain to whatever is going on in your heart. The hormonal and the logical will balance out when the right decision is made.

I want to clarify that being indecisive does not mean not having a backbone, and vice versa. But it also can be said, that you can have or be without both. This one, I do not have personal experience with. However, I have watched other’s struggle with indecisiveness and kindness to the point of fault.

Surviving in this world is simple: food, water, air, and sleep. Thriving in this world and being happy requires more. You can’t yield to everyone or everything. Being nice does not mean falling for what others say. Being nice does not mean someone’s problems are worse. Being nice does not mean letting yourself be unhappy because someone else needs you more. Being nice means treating people with respect; the same respect you want to be treated with. Being nice is taking an interest and asking the questions you want to be asked. Being nice is standing by a friend; a friend who is just as nice to you.

Just as there are people who are nice to a fault, there are people who are opportunistic to a fault. Or in a less euphemistic way, bratty personalities; spoiled characters that require the attention. These are the people who lead decisions and take advantage of those without the spine. And these you should be wary of.

If you’re saying or thinking false justification lines like “It’s only for right now, it will pass,” until it happens again or “they just don’t fully understand,” although you’ve explained it time and time again in various different forms and volumes. Then you’re in denial and you know you’re in denial. Imagine this article as your best friend slapping you awake. These lines are tiresome and old and it’s time to change your game.

If you’re in an intimate relationship with this person, please make decisions about what you want. Make the decision for you, not for anyone else. The decision for you is what leads to happiness. If you’re in a platonic relationship with this person, remember that any person can be kept at any length and you hold the key to the power of you. Listen to your heart, listen to your brain, and find the right decision for you, then happiness will follow.

I don’t think I can say the following statement enough, but being nice or indecisive or both does not lower your IQ. Even if you’ve never studied any subject in your life, you are an expert in yourself. Don’t let someone take advantage of you, whether it be what to eat for dinner or whether to stay in the relationship.

Beating the Rainy-Day Blues

Waking up to the serene pitter-patter of rainfall on the window, or the somehow even more calming deep rumbles of a powerful storm can make it difficult to get up for the day ahead. So we stay in bed for 5 more minutes, checking Instagram or Facebook, until it turns into a whole day of movies and snacking (which isn’t always a bad thing.) For some, the rain might be what gets you going, but if not – when there are errands, and emails, and the to-do list is beginning to run into your line of vision, there needs to be a way to dump the rainy-day blues.

Listen to Music

One of the most motivating factors I’ve found to help in any situation is music. Music is a versatile force, and there’s a track for any feeling, mood, purpose or function. It’s easy to be tempted to let Bon Iver’s peaceful sound set the mood for the day. What a day like this needs is a completely energy-packed playlist. A playlist that’ll make you want to get up and dance, or sing your heart out is what’ll get the day moving, even if you do have to cool it down later in order to focus.

Get Motivated

A lot of the challenge is getting yourself into the mental state of working. In order to be productive it’s important to truly want the outcome that each task is working towards. Give yourself a reason to get up and be productive, instead of playing candy crush for three hours. Think about the brownie points you’ll score with your boss if you get that bit of extra work done. Envision yourself in a Nike commercial, running, lifting, and doing your best work. Feel yourself getting smarter before you even start studying for that big test. Anytime you feel as if you could stay for just a few more minutes in your comfy bed, think about how pleasant it will be when you’re creating your best self.

Remain Healthy

Of course a lot of the struggle is being physically prepared for the day as well. If you haven’t gotten yourself a good night’s sleep, and a belly full of nutrients, then it’ll be a little harder to pull the covers off. So always make sure that you’re taking care of your body above all else! You need it healthy to be successful, and nothing should come before that.

Be Physically Engaged

Physical engagement at the beginning of the day can also help to get your brain in focus! That doesn’t mean you have to drag yourself to the gym and run a 5k before you start your day. Simple getting up and stretching out, maybe doing a bit of yoga, or some quick push ups could be wildly beneficial to your physical and mental well-being. You’ll not only feel energized, but proud of yourself for actually going through with it. If you do decide to go a little harder and work up a sweat, a shower will also help you get mentally prepared for the day ahead!

So throw on pump-up tunes, do some jumping jacks, and envision the outcome! If all else fails, our good ol’ friend coffee will be there to pick you right up.