Through the teenage years, and even into our early twenties, being without your “squad” is scary. I mean, think about it, we don’t do anything without a side chick or within the safety net of a social circle. From trips to American Eagle, to going to watch our local Junior B hockey team, we are surrounded with fellow hair straightener and Palm Bay enthusiasts throughout the teens. And we love it this way. This carries on through University, while the things that enthuse us may switch to curling wands and sangria, the notion of comfort in a pack still reigns strong. Then, in the blink of an eye, the blessed thing we call undergrad ends and our friends no longer live within a three block radius. The opportunity no longer presents itself to see each other day after day, hour after hour, in a seemingly effortless, natural symbiotic coexistence.
Suddenly mid-twenties hit and bam! Everybody is in different cities. Everybody is at a different stage of their lives (hello to friends who are travelling the world, hello to friends who are married, hello to friends with babies). Everybody has moved on.
Outside of the security that is ensured highschool attendance or exorbitant university tuition, making friends is really tough. Meeting people, sure that’s easy. Smile at the girl who lays her mat beside yours at yoga, chat up the chick who does your waxing, put yourself out there and join a book club you saw advertised at the library. But chances are, these won’t be lasting friendships as everybody is busy and will flake on those loose plans you made over wine and charcuterie (Anneke, that’s for you).
I’m in my second year of a Masters degree in the same college-town where I did my undergrad. The problem is that going to the bar 4 nights a week is no longer appealing and as a result of the previously described migration pattern of my friends, my social circle has diminished greatly. To be frank, I find myself alone more than I’d ever thought possible. I find myself realizing that I took my friends and family for granted when I was in their midst 24/7/365. As I type this, I’m sitting at my favourite restaurant, accompanied by no one but my pint of cider. I’m that girl. “And will anyone be joining you tonight?” says the server, removing the place mat and cutlery from the other side of the table. It feels like I’m in a sit-com or a rom-com and I’ve been stood up on a date! The kicker: it’s not the first time I’ve done this this week, and it’s only Wednesday. While I’ve always been one to adventure out to see a movie on my own, or hit up the mall solo on a Sunday, this whole eating alone thing is uncharted waters. What I’ve learned is that it’s only as awkward as you make it and if you act comfortable and confident, you begin to feel that way.
But this post is not about being okay with being alone, that will come at a later date so stay tuned! Rather, it’s about friendships in a whirlwind life of constant transition. About holding onto the good ones, recognizing when one is slipping away, and being okay with growing apart from someone with whom you had something real. Safe to say if you’re reading this, and if you’re a human being, you can identify with the three possibilities I just listed. None of us are immune to it!
As a gal who has had a fair share of hard times in the friends department (I’m clearly the common denominator), I have spent a lot of time thinking about these things. I blame myself for seeing good in uninspiring people, I blame myself for letting issues of friendship insecurities resurface from elementary school bullies, I blame myself for getting too invested, I blame myself for straight up being a shitty pal. But I’ve finally come to peace with faith in the idea that growing apart from people is nothing to be ashamed of and doesn’t need to leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth at the thought of their name or the sight of pictures on your phone.
See, our generation wasn’t raised by Frozen… ‘Let It Go’ isn’t as ingrained in us. We get mad at ourselves when we let friendships slip away, we blame ourselves when it feels like we’re fresh outta pals, we feel inadequate when we see Facebook or Instagram photos of swarms of friends out doing fun things, we uproot a false understanding of our flaws when we feel left out or lonely. Fact of the matter is that friendships in a whirlwind time period are hard. We’re all busy, short on time, short of funds, hormonally and emotionally drained from school/job searching/keeping up with the Kardashians. And how hard it is only magnifies when we’re growing as individuals and often times headed in different directions! While social media is amazing for keeping in touch it also boasts a false sense of foreverness in the connections we make. Talk to your grandparents about childhood friends and I can bet they have at least one with whom they are left with just happy memories and a faded class picture. Our lives change, we move on, we lose commonalities, and that is okay. I am a firm believer in people coming into your life for a reason and sometimes that’s a chapter in your book, sometimes that’s a page, and sometimes, a rare few, will make return appearances and end up in the acknowledgments section. Our 20s, perhaps more than any other decade, are a time when things move so quickly and remain so unsettled that this constant shift happens at a rate that is sometimes emotionally tolling to keep up with.
All that to say you're not alone if you find the 20s to be lonely. With any luck it has pushed you to explore other aspects of your life. For example, I've spent the bulk of this school year catching up with family friends and openly admitting that the majority of my friends are currently below the age of 8 or over the age of 40. And I'm loving it!
Worth noting: the interweb is realizing that we need some help not just with shopping and dating and transportation but now, yes, even friends. Come back next week for an overview of the ways we’ve found helpful in all of our loneliness, plus some intriguing new approaches, for finding gal pals in new cities or even just new circumstances!
With the end of March in sight, spring and summer are right around the corner. AKA we’re almost three months into our New Year’s resolutions! I thought it would be a fitting time to share some of my best tips to stay motivated to be active. Although I am by no means a certified or qualified fitness professional, I am someone who genuinely enjoys working out and staying fit. While it’s top of my list of priorities, I totally get how tough it can be to muster up the motivation to squeeze it into a day’s routine.
Unfortunately, as busy 20-somethings, exercise is often the first thing that gets cut out of a jam-packed schedule. It’s understandable, we have so much else on the go that letting go of the gym membership we signed up for in January seems like the logical thing to do. However, I’m a firm believer, backed by a pile of research, that fitting in exercise (even just a quick 30 minute walk or run) can help you re-focus and leave you feeling refreshed. Today I’m sharing my best tips and the things that I do regularly to ensure my workouts stay on track. Because after all, a healthy body = a healthy mind. How can we expect to perform our best at school and/or work if health isn’t a top priority?
Have a goal- One of the easiest ways to keep fitness at the top of your to-do list and to more importantly make sure it gets crossed off of that list is to have a purpose to exercise in the first place. As an avid runner, I like to sign up for races of different lengths. Knowing I have a race coming up ensures that I’ll squeeze in my runs, even on busy days, and it also motivates me to take my training to the next level. The feeling after you complete a race is all you need to sign up for that next one. No worries if you’re not a runner! There are tons of fun run/walks to sign up for where you won’t even feel as though you’re working out. Signing up for a 5km Colour Run this summer may be the exact boost you need to stay motivated and just enough of a challenge to improve your fitness.
Make it fun- It’s simple. If you don’t enjoy something, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to make a habit of doing it. This holds true for exercise, which is why it’s important to find a workout routine that you truly enjoy. Of course there are still the old favourites- yoga, swimming, biking, etc.. but today there are so many fun fitness classes out there to try. From Surfset, a class completed on a machine that looks like a real surfboard, to Barre fitness, where a ballet barre is used to help balance during pilates and yoga poses, to my favourite spin classes, I truly believe there is something for everyone. A lot of studios and gyms will offer free trial classes so I highly recommend speaking to someone or perusing the internet to see what they can offer you. This way you’ll be able to give the classes a try to see if you like them before committing to anything. And if you don’t like a class, don’t get discouraged! Try another and keep trying until you find your niche.
Find a Workout Buddy- Arranging to meet someone at the gym after work is probably one of the best ways to make sure you actually get there. Knowing that someone is waiting for you will definitely make you less likely to skip out and head home early. It’s a simple, yet effective, way to hold yourself accountable. And even better, you’ll be able to push each other to work that little bit harder. Added bonus: it can double as catchup time with a friend or be followed up with social smoothie or tea time.
Plan it- Whether you use your smartphone or a planner, treat your workout like an appointment or an important meeting and schedule it into your day. I keep a separate monthly calendar where I plan out my workouts for the week (scroll to the bottom to download and print our template!) and then I also schedule my exercise into my iCalendar to make sure it has its own timeslot in my day. If you’re working out in the morning, lay out your gear the night before so everything is ready to go. If you’re planning to hit the gym after work, bring your clothes and runners with you. Trust me, if you head home to change, you’ll end up finding 1000 other things to do and all of a sudden, without even realizing, it will be time to get ready for bed and another busy day.
Stay positive- Remember that you’re doing this for you. Celebrate small milestones in a healthy way to help you remember how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. A milestone can be anything from completing all of your scheduled workouts for a month to being able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. My favourite way to celebrate is to treat myself to some new workout apparel- it’s a win-win! I’m always extra motivated to workout when I have a new Lululemon tank top to wear! Look good, feel good, right!? But most importantly, stay positive. If you have a rough week and don’t make it to the gym, it’s ok! It happens to the best of us. Don’t throw in the towel, just work towards being better next week and the following weeks. It’s important that we make the effort in our 20s to establish routines that incorporate exercise into our busy lives because physical activity is a lifelong commitment and a lifetime of health is well worth the effort.
Job hunting is a full-time job. I’ve been dreaming about getting my start in the ‘real world’ for as long as I can remember. I know I know, don’t rush through your life, my grandma says. But I can’t help it. In my heart, in my soul, I’ve been an 80 year old lady for all of my 23 years. I’ve done my time in part-time retail and now I want to find my (hopefully very lucrative) purpose.
My job hunt efforts go a little something like this: pulling up LinkedIn, MunicipalWorld.com, or any other posting site and grasping at straws by applying to anything and everything relevant to what I’ve done professionally and academically thus far. I then open the ‘Resumes’ folder on my computer, my resume and cover letter templates, and grab a piece of paper. I write down the keywords from the job posting/description and then ensure that they are laced throughout my skills and experiences. Any resume workshop would tell you to do exactly this (and trust me, the keener in me has been to my fair share).
Truth is, I don’t have a clear vision for exactly what it is I want to do. I thought I did but a couple awesome summer jobs really shifted my perspective. All I want right now is something to be excited about, something to inspire me. I want to work with people from whom I can learn. I want to gain infinite wisdom every single day. It’s easy to get down on yourself as you submit resume after resume, then followup via phone call only to be told you “should probably move on” (true story). Or pour your heart and soul into an application to be told “you’re a little overqualified for the position..” (another true story). It’s beyond frustrating. One of the best/worst questions to be asked in a phone prescreen or in an interview is my “expectation of renumeration”. Basically, how much money do I hope to make. The real answer? How much are you offering ‘cause I could probably be happy with a couple mill. Yet this is frowned upon and you’re left to carefully dance around a number that is within reach yet not so low that you come across as without ambition. And whether or not you’re a match for the position if you screw this number up it could very well be game over.
It’s really tough to find that balance between eager and annoying. It’s tough to standout in a roboticized world where computer codes transform your resume into a percentage of relevance. Rejection in the job market feels worse than rejection in the dating world. Atleast in dating you’re more often than not given an acknowledgment (let’s be real, we’ve all had those imaginary boyfriends who don’t even know we exist - I digress). It’s tough to connect when employers use outsourced Human Resources departments. As I take my trip on the job hunt journey, I am realizing more and more than the recruitment processes many companies and institutions use is to their disadvantage. They diminish their “people potential” in not truly connecting with keen and passionate job seekers. They lose out on those of us who are keen to be passionate about exactly what it is they are hiring for.
To date I have applied for 28 real-world jobs, 25 of which I’d be perfectly suited for. I say that as humbly as I can. The job descriptions/titles nearly mirror jobs I’ve done in the past or skills I’ve mastered. Yet, it is common knowledge that I will never hear from these positions. It’s just a part of the process. My jobs folder keeps getting thicker and thicker with notes and descriptions of jobs I will likely never think about again. Top that off with the fact that every job you find requires 5 to 7 to 10 years of experience in the field. How we are supposed to gain experience is beyond me. It’s so easy to get bitter and upset and decide that running away to join the circus (or at the very least to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in South East Asia) is your fate. As 20-somethings, some of us want nothing more than to run away and travel the world. Some of us want to jump into the working world and make some money and get our lives off the ground. We all have different reasons for having different aspirations and that’s totally okay. It’s truly about finding what fits with our goals: personal, financial, professional. For me, it’s the latter… I’ve got my floaties on and I’m ready to belly flop into the pool that is the working world. Picture a hot summer day and a sunscreened-ginger who just can’t wait to jump in the water. I’m that eager!
All that being said, as much as employers are shopping for the right employee, we can’t forget that as young employees we are shopping for the perfect fit in terms of employment too. Our generation has begun a revolution of demanding more from our employers in terms of health and wellness and balance and for that, despite widespread fear over economic downturn, I truly believe this is an exciting time to be entering the workforce. Our generation has also fuelled a shift in that we have infinite tools at our disposal to create our own jobs, be our own bosses, and open our own sources of revenue.
Right now I type this having no idea what will come about and what kind of work I’ll be doing in a couple months time. I can only hope that my highly touted education, my extensive work experience, and my passion to contribute will shine through to someone. Anyone. Hellllooooo---oooo--ooooo, anyone out there? Will I be working in Hospital Administration or for a Municipality or doing marketing and communications for a private company? Will the call come through to be the next Carrie Bradshaw? Who knows. But I refuse to get down on myself, or down on the process. I am a very lucky girl to have parents who support me through everything. I also have the pleasure of working with some wonderful mentors and, as a result, I promise to guide a young person someday as they have done for me. Because understanding the science of “how to get a job”, “how to write a resume/cover letter”, “how to answer that question in an interview”, “how to get the job” is a full-time job in and of itself. Crappy thing is, until you've mastered the art, the pay is entirely intrinsic reward. And maybe an insightful blog post.
Teal is honoured to finally feature one of her Plattsburgh State Women's Hockey teammates as a guest writer on bronze & gold. Jenny is not just a great athlete but you'll soon learn from her post that she is a true inspiration in going after what you want and making things happen. Jenny is an amazing family girl, a beach lover, and overall someone who I'm always proud to call my friend.
When Teal approached me about being a guest speaker on this blog I was honestly very surprised. As an avid reader of all the interesting and juicy stories, I didn’t see what I could possibly contribute, so I figured I would stick to the vibe from the other writers. As they have talked about exploring and finding yourself in your 20s, I figured I would talk about how I have followed my passion to where I am today.
Ever since I was a little girl I just knew I wanted to help others and I think a lot of that is from being the youngest child and only girl in a family of four rowdy hockey players. I was constantly picked on, tattled on, punched on, and many other awful things older brothers do out of love to their perfect sisters. But from that I learned that I never wanted people to be picked on or not involved because they were different. From never letting a teddy bear sleep on the ground at night to asking the shy girl to play at recess I was passionate about spreading the love. So when my teachers would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would emphatically say that, “I want to help things.” And at the time those “things” were animals, so I explored my first passion, working in a vet clinic in hopes of one day becoming a Veterinarian. I worked there for about 2 years cleaning kennels, bathing dogs and cats (still have scars), and any other odds and ends that needed to be done. When it was obvious to the head veterinarian that I wanted to pursue vet medicine as a potential career, he thought it was best that I started getting into surgery to “get used to it.” Well, I’ll save you the details, but the surgery went wonderfully, I however passed out as soon as the first incision was made. Turns out I LOVE animals, but I would never be able to cut them open on a daily basis. Needless to say I was devastated and thought I was having a midlife crisis at 17 because I didn’t know what I was going to be when I grow up anymore. And then my boss had this crazy idea that while I may make a lousy vet, I would be able to use my passion for science in the drug and compounding area at the clinic.
And so began my love (literally) of drugs. I was absolutely fascinated at the positive impact that they could have on animals that I was completely hooked. I had no knowledge of the “real world” at 17 so the thought of a pharmacy was so foreign to me. I continued to work at the vet clinic until I left for college. It was in my undergrad experience that I spoke with a professor about what I was passionate about and she introduced the thought of becoming a pharmacist. This conversation will be one I remember forever. She opened my mind into the retail side of pharmacy where I began working for Walgreens and again was hooked and found yet another side of drugs that I was passionate about. I absolutely loved seeing people come in for a medication and coming back saying how much it helped them or how much better they were feeling. It was the greatest high I had ever felt (disclaimer: I do not do drugs) I knew at this point that this was going to be the career path for me. I would be able to help the people who needed it most in a way that I never really had thought possible.
Now fast forward to graduate school and I am in my first year of pharmacy school where I am learning everything you could possibly want to know about those medications you take everyday and I absolutely LOVE it. Don’t get me wrong, the schedule is ridiculous and I think I’ve called my mom crying more this year than I have in my whole life combined, but every time I get to use what I have learned to help someone at the pharmacy I STILL get that same high. When I hear from my friends who are already working full time jobs and getting engaged, I sometimes feel like I am a bit behind the 8 ball on their 10 year plan, but then I realize, my passion is only mine. While spending 4 more years studying compounding techniques and drug formulations might seem like the worst thing to do, I just remember that someday, this will help me take better care of someone’s mother, family or child.
I, in no way, intended for this to be an autobiography, so let me get to the point of what I’m trying to say. I’m 24 years old, have gobs of student debt, currently procrastinating studying for a midterm, but I am so excited to be working towards something I am COMPLETELY passionate about. So don’t settle for a job/relationship/hobby because it’s convenient, find something you love and follow it, because you truly never know where it will lead you. Your 20s (and maybe some of your 30s) are about YOU. Get the degree you want, get the promotion you deserve, get that dress you probably shouldn’t buy, just do something for YOU. If I would have listened to every person who told me that I couldn’t do something, I would never be anywhere close to where I am now…so stop trying to be like everyone else and do what everyone else is doing, take your 20s to do YOU. There is literally NO harm in trying at least once. So be fearless in your drive to find something that you are passionate about, because I promise once you find it, you will stop at nothing to get it.
I've been living and working as an Au Pair (live-in Nanny) in Melbourne for almost 2 months now and after spending the past couple months looking after three busy kids (ages 8, 5, and 3), there are a few simple, yet important, things that I've been reminded of and that I think can be applied to us whether we're 3 years old or 23 years old.
1. Sleep is essential.
An emotional day for the kids is inevitable after a late night or two and I feel like this can only be expected in our 20s as well. For me personally, the only time that I will get sick is when I'm lacking on sleep and it's amazing what a good night sleep can do for me when I'm feeling run down and overwhelmed. In our busy lives, getting our 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night can seem impossible, yet for the sake of our overall health, both body and mind, it is something that should definitely be a priority to keep us in top form both mentally and physically.
2. A hug can make everything better.
Whether you fell off your scooter or you can't find your teddy, a quick hug is always a good fix. The same can be said for when we get older. Although, our problems may seem bigger, never underestimate the power of a hug from a friend or a loved one during a stressful time. That being said, if you know someone who's going through a tough time, a quick hug may be exactly what they need- don't be afraid to reach out.
3. Get involved and be active.
I've said this time and time again but being involved and trying new things are so important. The kids are always beyond happy and so proud of themselves after their basketball games, acrobatics lessons, and ballet classes. I know that this source of happiness can be translated to us in our 20s and trying a new sport or class may be the best way to not only bring out the kid in all of us but to also help us keep a healthy work-life balance!
Lots of love,
An old adage to overcome stage fright is to picture the audience in their underwear. It’s meant to put the performer at ease, no doubt, in giving them a giggle and making them feel less vulnerable. Well… needless to say, this week a dramatic role reversal occurred. Somehow I was the one in my underwear, ON the stage, in front of hundreds of glaring eyes. The thrill!
Last year my housemate was on the executive team for the Vogue Charity Fashion Show here at Queen’s. This is an amazing group that brings together a variety of talents in order to raise money for a different local Kingston charity each year. Full disclosure: I auditioned in first year to be a model, and was promptly turned down. In typical Mad fashion, I think I was ahead of myself in dreaming of my life as the next Coco Rocha before the audition even went down. Nonetheless, from that point forward I had given up on being a part of this creative endeavour and felt I didn’t have what it took. Afterall, my modelling career curtailed in the 2nd Grade when my weekly lessons at Angie’s Models made me do a practice video interview and I froze (ask Slate about the video footage we have of this moment). I didn’t play the piano (or any instrument) because my stubborn ass wouldn’t go to lessons when Mama tried to convince me. Singing started and stopped with my role as orphan Annie in the town’s production. In all, I barely had an artsy bone in my body because I was basically a childhood quitter.
My Vogue hopes were crushed until last year, when my housemate Kath brought me along to most of the group’s social events. As a second year Masters student with most of my friends having flown the coop, I applied in hopes of meeting new friends, filling my time, feeling creatively inspired and giving back to something that mattered. I was hired as Co-Head of Clothing for the 2015-2016 Executive team.
And then came the opportunity I had envisioned back in first year when I strutted my stuff at the audition… open call for anyone on Cast & Crew to join the Lingerie scene. As the Head of Clothing, most of my role was behind the scenes. But walking in my underwear to a sultry tune across a brightly lit stage in front of an audience of a couple hundred? There was nothing behind-the-scenes about that. My enthusiasm was immediately pronounced. All about those once-in-a-lifetime experiences… all about embarrassing myself for a good story to tell. Bam, I was a shoe in!
We had rehearsal every Monday night from the Fall onwards. Rehearsal was fully clothed with the expectation that we practice walking in our heels. In the weeks leading up to the show, we took it to the next level. The first time we dropped trou was nerve wracking to say the least. First tops off, then bottoms. There was nothing normal about walking around a drafty old Queen’s rehearsal space in underwear and high heels. But it took all of 20 seconds for us all to look around the room, see beauty in the variety of body types, and realize we were all in this together. I think I can speak for everyone in saying that we left feeling empowered every single time!
Kare was immediately stoked when I told her I was taking part. When we found an outfit at Victoria she was quick to remember an outfit she received as a bridal shower gift and never wore (I trusted her word and didn’t pry further…). Genuine vintage Vie en Rose, baby pink lace, complete with a silk robe! I couldn’t have lucked out any more. It was exactly what I would have bought except we saved a whopping chunk of cash and I got to proudly rock my hot mom’s outfit. Paired with a bang pair of pink bedazzled strappy pumps and I was beyond excited!
It was now show week: since it was too late to execute my plan to get really muscular, I worked with what I had. I googled “food’s that prevent bloating”, went to the grocery store to stock up, and gained an ENTIRELY new appreciation for a life I could never commit to diet-wise. The second before stepping onto the dark stage was the most frightened I’ve been in awhile. What if I wiped out, what if I had a wardrobe malfunction, what if what if what if. I mean, I just wanted to look like Gigi Hadid or Gisele Bundchen - a flawless angel. Why hadn’t my wings sprouted yet? Where was all the sparkle!? As soon as I strutted my way to the front of the stage and stared into the audience, there I was. A Victoria’s Secret angel for a minute and a half. The feeling was everything we’d practiced for and more! Who cares if I had a bagel that day and it was making me bloat, who cares if everybody else in the scene had just returned from Punta Cana and made my skin tone look even more ghostly than it usually is? Insecurities were out the window and I didn’t even have to picture the audience in their underwear. There they were, staring up at me in mine.