The Best Lesson I’m Learning in 2015

There are few lessons in the life that I think I will constantly and consistently need to work on as hard as the one I am writing about today. However, there are also few lessons that need learning in this world that are so delicate and yet so vital to our social sanity. That lesson, my dear friends, is not to care.

The art of not caring is a fine line between (and do pardon my french) giving no fucks and fucking up. You see, on the one hand, if you make yourself care about everything, you will be in an endless circle of trying to please others–a task that is not only harmful to your self esteem (as you are not perfect, and others will point this out to you), but also hurts your productivity (because if you’re constantly working towards trying to make people like you, when will you ever have time to work on the things you want to do?). However, if you don’t let yourself care about anything, how can you ever expect to garner any success in anything you do? If you don’t put effort, thought and care into your actions and creations, you’ll never reach your potential, and you certainly won’t make friends.

So how do you navigate the fine line between caring too much and not caring enough? Well I can’t claim to have a fail-proof way of going about this, as I’ve already said, I’m still working on this myself, but I’m going to steal this one piece of valuable advice from my roommate, who I can safely say is much wiser than I: “You are the only person who has any control over your feelings. You can choose to be bothered by something or someone, or you can choose not to give them control over how you feel.”

In other words, you decide whether or not something or someone makes  you feel a certain way.

Now, I get that this is a difficult concept to accept, because we aren’t raised in a society who views emotions this way. We’ve been taught to think of emotions in the same way that we think about reflexes or getting sick: they just come up upon us without any reason or notice or control of our own. This is part of the reason why we have such a victimizing stance in rape culture: we allow or assume men (and women!) can’t control their sexual urges or feelings. But if you have any ounce of logical reasoning, you can easily realize that this isn’t the case at all.

Emotions are a matter of the mind.* They are a normal function of our everyday lives, and we can decide what and when we feel what we feel. This is anger management 101 (okay, it might actually be anger management 394, I don’t know I’ve never taken anger management).

So here’s the really amazing part of this revelation: YOU CONTROL YOUR HAPPINESS. This means that you’re happiness is not reliant upon the things that happen in your life, or your job, or even the people you find yourself surrounded by. You don’t have to feel sad, or sorry, or mad, or jealous of anyone, EVER, just because they want you to feel that way. You are in charge of your feelings and your happiness. Don’t make yourself bend over backwards simply for someone’s emotional approval.

And that’s it. That’s all I have to say on this subject. I will add that I wish I had known this while I was still managing a kitchen during my junior and senior years of college. It would have been so helpful to recognize that, even though I knew I couldn’t make everyone happy all the time, that I also didn’t need everyone’s happiness in order to feel happy myself. This might sound harsh, but there are just some people in this world who are going to decide that they don’t like you, or that will want to feed off of your misery, and it’s just not worth the effort.

So go forth and be happy my loves.

-tlc

*DISCLAIMER: If you suffer from a mental illness, controlling your emotions may not simply be a “matter of the mind”. If you’re finding it difficult to control your emotions, if you find you often ask yourself why you did or said or thought certain things, it may be time to ask for help. And there is no shame in that. A quarter of the population struggles with mental health issues (including myself!) and it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. If you aren’t sure who to ask, talk to your doctor or someone close to you that you trust and let them know how you are feeling.

Why I’m Grateful To Be A TwentySomething

I talk in this blog a lot about the trials and lessons of being a twentysomething. It is, after all, that uncharted, turbulent time when technically everyone calls you an adult, but you still feel like you’re growing up. That means there are a lot of nights of anxiety, and a lot of decisions that feel like the equivalent to jumping off a cliff, or holding your breath far beyond when your vision starts to blur.

Or at least, I have these moments.

But it’s not always like that, and in the midst of everything, I am so grateful I have this time in my life to just sort of stumble around blindly.

Why? Well, frankly, I look at the people in their 30’s and 40’s around me and see two groups: those who have their lives “together” and those who are either starting over, or still figuring out what they want. Both are okay, but neither is where I want to be right now. Of course some day, like many–if not most–other people I know, I want to be in that first group of people, where “together” means a happy combination of career and family. And, of course, I know that if I’m in that second group, that’s fine, too, because “together” doesn’t always have to mean career and family. But once you have those two things, there isn’t a whole lot of room to be selfish or focus on yourself. You have kids and a spouse to think about, bills and responsibilities, people who are depending on you to be a stable, reliable resource. Which means putting off things like chores, or taking time off from work to focus your energy on a side project isn’t really a possibility for most people at that stage in life. So if you ever feel down about not knowing the love of your life, not working your dream job, and not living in a mansion somewhere near a beach, just remember that your low-profile and freedom now gives you the opportunity to do these things:

1) Travel on a whim, for long periods of time, to random places “just because.”

Sure you’re poor and paying the rent is your biggest concern right now, but think about it this way: You don’t have that many possessions. You’re bank account already practically qualifies you for welfare, what’s there to lose if you move your stuff back into your parent’s basement for a few months, save up a couple thousand, and hike across Europe? You have no one waiting for you back home, and given your salary if you even had a full time job, it probably wasn’t something you’d like to stick with long term, anyways. If you’re ready for a change and want to spend some time discovering more about yourself while you meet awesome people and learn more about the world, traveling in your twenties is the perfect time to do it. You’ll never get a chance like this again.

2) Be a student.

Okay, so now that I’ve been out of college for a little over a year, I don’t recommend going to grad school without giving yourself at least a year in between. Obviously, I can’ t speak for the experience of those who do go straight to grad school, and granted, it was definitely something I deeply considered my senior year of college, but I’ve learned so much being in the real world this last year that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I had stayed in the nice warm shelter of school. One of the things I’ve learned is that for the line of work I’m trying to do, having a master’s degree in Creative Writing–or really, any kind of degree in any subject–isn’t going to really give me a leg up. It’s just going to put me in more debt, and delay my entering the real world by a year or two.

Still, getting my masters in Creative Writing is a dream in the back of my mind, if for no other reason than giving me an excuse to spend a year or two living in some cool new place, focusing entirely on building up my arsenal of original work. And, working at a University is my fall back dream career, so there’s that, too. And no matter when you do grad school, if you do grad school, it’s definitely easier to get through when you don’t have a family to support. I would also assume that it’s an easier feat when the knowledge you picked up in your undergraduate classes is fresher in your mind.

3) Try out different “fun” jobs.

There is no better time or excuse for jumping from job to job than when you are first starting out in the world and trying to figure out what you enjoy and where you would like to fit into the bigger picture of society. I did this with internships, by working in marketing, publishing, and film development, discovering that while all three were exciting in their own right, none were exactly right or exciting for me. Still, there are a variety of dreamy odd-jobs on my list that I would only be unashamed to try because I have zero responsibilities beyond paying my bills right now. These include the following:

-Working as a Disney Princess at Disneyland.

-Working as a park attendant of some sort in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios LA when it opens next Spring.

-Working as a Studio page and/or tour guide at any of the film studios around LA.

-Working as an extra for films and tv shows.

-Working as a house sitter/dog sitter for wealthy clients.

-Working as a personal assistant to a celebrity.

-Working for Buzzfeed.

-Working as a travel guide and/or a travel agent.

-Using an etsy shop and being an Uber driver as my primary source of income.

etc, etc.

4) Spending irresponsible amounts of money on take out, exploring new restaurants and bars, and being a semi-permanent ‘tourist’.

Granted, this might be a little more feasible for someone living in LA than in Kansas, where everything is a chain restaurant and being a ‘tourist’ consists of spending the day at the Renaissance Fair, eating giant Turkey legs, but still. Being in your twenties is the best time to find what will become “the best place to eat brunch,” “the best movie theater deal in town,” “the diviest bar, ever,” “the greatest hangover cure,” among you and your friends, because once you start working longer hours, have a spouse and/or kids to come home too, and a mortgage bill to pay, putting off chores or responsibilities no longer makes you “fun,” it just makes you immature. So do it now while you’re not tied down.

5) Consume all there is to know about whatever interests you.

This doesn’t mean you have to have your nose in a textbook. If you’re really interested in script writing, maybe this means regularly binging on Netflix (at least, that’s the excuse I use!). But it could also mean taking a day to learn new techniques on sewing, knitting, hunting, gardening, photography, whatever! Now is the time to learn and develop a hobby, because when you start involving one, two, three or more people in your life (aka have a family) you’ll find that any free time you have will be spent doing laundry and watching Sesame Street. This, at least, is what I’ve gathered from observing my siblings.

I could probably go on and on about things to do, and things to be grateful you can do while you’re in your twenties, but this post is already long enough. And if it isn’t obvious, this is a start to another thing you should incorporate into your life–no matter what age you are: Be a little more positive. When I start to feel down about where I am in life, I just think about all of these experiences that I’m able to have and then I act on them, because there is no better time than now. Take charge of your life, and enjoy being a twentysomething.

-tlc

 

Five Great Finds That Make Me Really Happy

I was going to spend my evening writing a post explaining my opinions on a political issue that makes me very angry, but I decided instead to spend the evening having some fun by pooling together a few of the things that make me happy and help me get through my day. Because clearly, the constant turmoil of our political situation keeps me in a pretty angry state most of the time…and sometimes it makes me hangry. Oh, and don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll charm the pants off you with my political rant in a later post.

But for now, here are five things that make me happy:

  1. The artist Pogo. He makes songs out of autotuned clips from your favorite movies. It’s amazing, and they’re great songs to write to. I’m listening to him right now. In fact, they’re great songs for every occasion: House party, chill get together, running, shopping, driving, breaking out of prison…you know, all those necessary music-accompanying tasks.
  2. The website Padmapper. They’re tagline is “Making apartment hunting suck less.” And they really do. They really do. On padmapper, you’re able to search apartments in the city/location of your choice according to whatever criteria you have: # of bedrooms, bathrooms, price range, etc. The site pulls together listings from a number of other housing sites, including craigslists, rent.com, and (if you live in LA, Westside Rentals).
  3. The photo editor Pixlr. I have photoshop and sometimes I still choose to use this free online photo editor instead. For a non-techy like me, it’s a user-friendly web application that allows you to edit photos in three different applications: A full editor (similar to photoshop, but on a smaller scale), a moderate editor with pre-set filters (think a cross between photoshop and instagram), and a filter editor (similar to instagram).
  4. F.lux is an app that adjusts the color of your computer and/or phone/tablet screen to act more like natural sunlight, so that if–like me–you are up late browsing the interwebs, your brain doesn’t get confused and think it’s still daylight out. That way, it’s easier to fall asleep and stuff. Just read about it.
  5. Tea Tree Oil: I have pretty oily skin, but I’m also really self conscious not only about the chemicals I’m putting on my skin, but also about the cost of said chemicals (gotta stay practical here). So, about two years ago, I decided that using bar soap instead of a bottled gel would not only be more natural (if I went with one that had natural ingredients) it would also be cheaper. And then I found tea tree oil, and my life was made. Tea tree oil (and black charcoal as well) are great skin cleansers, and a bar of soap lasts me three times as long as a bottle of shower gel, and is way cheaper than a facial cleanser. Yay for poor people solutions!

And that’s it. Nothing else in the world makes me happy. JK, a lot of things make me happy but this is a short list to remind myself that there are many, many positive things in this world. I hope you’ve discovered something you think is awesome from this list, too, but if you haven’t, I hope you at least take away the idea to start making your own list. It’s good to have a list of positives to refer to when you’re down. I know it helps remind me that there are still things to appreciate about this life, and technology, and people.

Enjoy!

-tlc

On Missing Home

When your family makes up about 90% of your best friends, it’s hard to move away from them. Even now, eight months later, it’s still hard not to have the option of seeing my family regularly. The only time I am ever envious of my friends who don’t have close relationships with their parents and siblings is when I’m feeling homesick–so, about once a month.

Missing home can make for a confusing time emotionally. Consider this: while I love the wide-open spaces and quiet calm of the prairie, and the sweet peace that comes from the small, mannerly Kansas population, I hate everything about the way the Kansas government is being run right now, and I hate the often overly-conservative, small-minded opinions that the majority of the voter population holds. While I would love more than anything to be able to plan a day trip home on the occasional weekend to see my parents, or to be a short car ride away from babysitting my nephew, my work life and social life would be stunted. Sure, I could find a copywriting job somewhere. I could find a copywriting job anywhere, truthfully. But would it be driving me towards a fulfilling career in an industry that interests me? No. Would I be making new friends and growing my social circles? Probably not. Kansas City isn’t a very sociable city for singles and people who don’t already have friends and relatives living there. Why? Because you have to drive so far to get anywhere, so you only go out in groups.

I’ve thought a lot about my choice to move to a new, big city where I don’t know anyone, and the truth of the matter comes down to this: there is only one question you ever need to ask yourself; “Am I happy?”

This is so simple, and yet I think you will find–as I do–that it is the hardest question you will ever have to answer in your life. Am I happy? Well, about what? Your life? Your relationships? Your career?

So here is what’s at the heart of the matter when it comes to me missing home: I’m not sure how to answer this question. Am I happy? Well sure, somedays I’m really happy, and I love LA, and it’s exciting, and I’m excited, and there’s so much to explore, and life is good and life is beautiful. Am I happy? Well I’m not exactly where I want to be in life yet, and I don’t have a place I can call my own yet, and I have to live on a pretty tight budget which makes it feel  like I’m always working or number crunching, and my family lives pretty far away in a different time zone and my work commitments mean I don’t have a lot of options for visiting them or them visiting me, but am I happy? I guess in a sense I’m mildly comatose.

I love Amy Poehler’s comparison of a career to a bad boyfriend. It’s so true; my career is never going to make me happy; it’s never going to completely satisfy me. I’m always going to feel like I’m somewhat running in place, reaching for the next thing and never getting there. But do I feel accomplished? Oh heck yes. Am I proud of where I’ve gotten so far? Beyond belief. I’m working on a freaking studio lot as a Writer’s PA. When I think about where I am in terms of what I’ve dreamed my whole life, I am immensely proud to say that so far, when I’ve set my mind to do something, I’ve accomplished it.

But in the end, what my eight months in LA has shown me so far is that family and your relationships will always be more important than any job, no matter what. In the end, it’s made me realize that if it’s the difference between getting to see and spend time with the people I love, and having a lucrative career in television, my family is more important. Right now I feel as though I am straddling somewhere between these two things–family and career, and I’m not sure which life is going to pull me towards more. But I do know that if it takes me away from my family too much, and prevents me from building new relationships with more people, than it’s not worth it. You should never pick your career over your family. I think my greatest personal challenge right now is finding the balance between the two, hence the homesickness.

-tlc

Flowers are Always Good

Thank God for great friends, right?

Boy, I tell you what, this last week has been full of ups and downs. Well, in particular, one reassuring up, and one very, very low down.  Reflecting, I suppose I’ve learned something about myself in all of this. But maybe I should back up a bit first and explain…before I explain.

The week started out pretty well. I was very optimistic–I made my first-ever CV, made the trek to the Career Center and got it looked over (she thought it looked great, I might add), and went to the University Career Fair, where I talked to some programs that I’m actually very interested in, and got an interview for a program I hadn’t even intended on applying for (strange how those things work out).

That wasn’t even the high of my week, though: the day before, I had been offered both a student library job/internship (I’ve been trying to snag a job at KU libraries for the last three years, but scheduling has just never worked out before now) for the rest of the semester, and a summer job as a Teaching Assistant for Duke TIP.

Still, all of this was sort of arbitrary–secondary, perhaps–to the real plan. My coworker and I had our hearts and our heads set: we were going to work for Disney. She had worked as part of the Disney College Program before, and I had been dreaming about it since before I was even in college–in fact, I think the first time I ever looked the Disney College Program up, I was a junior in high school.

So, I was going to apply, and she was going to re-apply. And we were going to work at Walt Disney World, or Walt Disneyland, or Walt Disney World and Walt Disneyland, and for the next six months, we were going to be golden. Then, using my awesome experience working in one of the Disney parks, I was going to apply for writing internships in television and development, and of course employers were going to love me–I’m fun, I’m responsible, and I have a lot of good work experience. This was the plan. This was going to happen. It felt right. It was right.

Until I didn’t move through to the next phase of the interview process.

Yep, that’s right, revel in the irony, everyone: Tasha, the woman who has loved Disney since she was old enough to watch movies; the woman who is so obsessed with Disney fairy tales that she wrote her senior thesis on them, did not make it through the interview process for the Disney College Program. Maybe it was one too many “neutrals” on the survey I had to fill out; maybe it was because, instead of a positive person (which, in comparison with my coworker, I am no where near positive, but in terms of the rest of the world, I’m a pretty positive person) I consider myself more of a realist, because to me, being a realist is still positive, just not delusional. (…Not that positive people are delusional…) But now I’m starting to sound more like a bitter, negative, whiny person.

My point is this: I hit a bottom this week. One of dreams that I’ve had for a very, very long time is no longer possible.  And, while right now it still stings, that’s okay. I’m okay. It’s not like I haven’t been thrown curve-balls in my life before. In fact, most of my life (in my own opinion) has been nothing but curve balls. Disappointments and rejections that have forced me to take ninety-degree turns and barrel on through a new path. And that’s only what this is. A ninety-degree turn. And so now, I’ll just have to barrel that path in a new direction, and hopefully shoot for a similar–or better–landing place.

And really, taking ninety-degree turns is actually good for me, because I tend to make long, intricate plans for my life and what happens in it, and these moments are eye-opening reminders that I shouldn’t shut the rest of the world and its countless opportunities out. So, while Disney lost a seriously good potential employee this week, some other opportunity I haven’t considered yet is going to gain a seriously great candidate. And I’m going to sound cocky, because it’s true. I work hard.

And that brings me to what I learned about myself from all of this: I realized, amid my sobbing, disappointed phone call to my mother, and my rather mopey Monday, that somewhere along my life, I seem to have gotten my priorities mixed up.  I am in a relationship with my work and career goals. I care more about working towards success, than I do about making and growing relationships with other people along the way. And this is wrong. Because success IS the people and relationships you have while making your way, and your living, in this world.

Thank God I have friends like my coworker, who sent me flowers (because flowers really do make everything better), and spent a very long time occupied by my emotional embraces, who–despite my relationship with my work (which is a horrible boyfriend, by the way; he never remembers my birthday)–has somehow become one of my dearest friends. And it is friendships like hers, and friendships like my roommates, and friendships and love like my mother’s that has reminded me that it really is the relationships that matter. What’s it worth to conquer the world without someone to share it with?

So, my fellow almost-graduates, my only advice to you this week is this: make the absolute best friends you can, and keep them, because they won’t judge you when you’re working in a coffee shop to pay the rent, and they will always buy you flowers when you are very, very sad.

Here’s to hoping next Monday is a little happier.

Yours truly,

tlc