becoming yourself is really hard

A year ago, I graduated college, and I moved to a completely different city.  In a completely different state.  Where I knew no one.

And, Boston is a magical place filled with opportunity, all four seasons, some of the most picturesque apple orchards you can find.  I mean, there’s even a place here called Wonderland.

But, there’s something different about moving to somewhere permanently… something that I didn’t feel when I interned in Texas or Seattle.

It took a while to sink in, that this wasn’t a temporary thing.  I’m not going back to Penn State after 8 weeks to start my new classes and continue on for my degree.  I didn’t feel the “what clubs am I going to get into this semester” or “do I want to TA” or “what’s my target internship for next summer” in August.  For the first six months, I felt like I was just kind of floating–in a cycle of trying to do my best at work, making friends, getting into grad school, and recovering from all of those things on the weekends.  There was no apparent end in sight–no end of the semester, no spring break, no internship start date, nothing to look forward to.

Perhaps other people were, but I don’t think I was prepared for what ending being a full time student meant.  When I was in school, the prize at the end was financial stability and a career you enjoy, which was really alluring.  And, once I reached the finish line, I felt like I didn’t know what my purpose was anymore.  It’s like, as a kid, your life was school.  And, once you don’t go anymore, it feels like a piece of your identity is lost.

I’d describe myself as almost nomadic to a fault–I love to explore and move to different places.  I take so much pride in saying that I’ve lived all over the country, even if it was only for a few months at a time.  And so, I think that suppressing those things that I really enjoy, moving around and school, made 2019 especially challenging.

I don’t know if other people feel this way.  But, if you do, I want to provide you with some advice if you feel like you’re floating, too.

1. Establish new goals

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m super goal-oriented.  Once I accomplished the goal I’d been dreaming about for the past 4 years–graduating college–I didn’t really have anymore goals lined up.  Brainstorming new things to accomplish gave me a lot of comfort, because it made me realize that I could dream as big as I want to, and I have a whole new era of years to conquer with the best resources I’ve had to date.

2. Find something, anything, that’s familiar

Honestly, this is probably a big part in why I went back to school.  I really missed feeling like a was working towards a concrete, personal milestone–a degree (and aside from that, cell biology is soooooo cool!).  I think this is important to incorporate into your life, whether it’s going to Chik-fil-a, because you always went there in between class, or joining a local soccer team, because you were athletic when you were growing up.  When I pursued something familiar, I felt a little less lost–college was something I’d done before, I liked how completing classes made me feel, and I knew what my outcome would be.

3. Acknowledge that this is a big step, and don’t make yourself feel like you’re childish for being scared

You’re not a baby for being apprehensive about this new stage in your life–you’re being a human, and that’s called cortisol.  Give yourself a break, and for as long as you need to, celebrate everything you’re doing right–paying your bills on time, getting a semi-regulated laundry schedule, making sure there’s at least something in your fridge you can eat.  You don’t wake up and have everything figured out–it’s these little things that pile up into a mountain that you cover in a blanket labeled “I have my life together.”  That’s what I think, anyways.

4. Start a new hobby to root yourself to this moment in time

This is a more recent production, but it’s been really helpful in seeing steps of life in a new manner.  Starting a new hobby to celebrate your current situation could help you, because it establishes a positive connotation in your mind about right now.  Say I move away from Boston in 5 years–I can look back and think, “oh yeah!! That’s when I first started investing” or “ahhh, Boston, where I started learning how to grill shrimp in such a way that they don’t taste like rubbery dog toys” (still working on the whole shrimp thing, in case you were wondering).  Essentially, you’re making positive memories with your situation, so if you keep on investing or cooking shrimp for the rest of your life, you develop fond memories of your old stomping grounds.

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, but this was on my mind, and I hoped it’d be helpful to someone.

Take care,

Calla

6 life lessons I learned from my toughest semester ever

Wow.  It’s been a while.  3 months and 12 days!  103 days!  I could go on with the conversions, but my point is that there hasn’t been a post on here in too long.

The gap in semi-interesting thoughts spawns from a semester that was perhaps the most difficult I’ve ever taken at Penn State.  Classes gave me trouble that I didn’t expect, and there were plenty of sleepless nights and less-than-wonderful days.  I hate taking breaks from blogging, because it’s one of my favorite things; alas, the things you do for an undergrad degree.

However, I learned so much from the past 15 weeks that I thought I could combine some of it into a post to celebrate the return of your favorite (and perhaps only) fake blonde, sunflower-loving, engineer/blogger girl.  So, here it goes: 6 life lessons I learned from my toughest semester ever.

1. You don’t have time for toxic friendships: I’ve talked before about how to spot and handle a toxic friendship, but this advice gives more perspective on that post.  When you have limited extra time to give to people, you want to give as much as possible to those who make you feel good about yourself.  And of course this isn’t to say that just because you don’t talk to all the good people in your life all the time that you’re subconsciously saying they aren’t worth your time.  This point focuses more on giving people who don’t add to your life less attention.  Especially when you’re stressed, you need really good people to fall back on and tell you things are ok.  That’s what’ll get you through.

2.  Rejection is inevitable, but it feels amplified when you’re stressed: When you’re working so hard for something and it doesn’t end up working out like you wanted, it’s easy to become more discouraged.  It can make you feel like you’re ill-equipped to handle what’s being thrown at you.  When you’re stressed, your judgement is clouded and you aren’t thinking like normal.  Moderate rejections and closed doors feel like crises, and it’s hard to shake off.  But, the key to getting through this is using perspective.  Look at your track record–you’ve prevailed over rejection before, and all that one closed door means is that you’re meant for a better opportunity.

3.  Sleep, meals and exercise should be scheduled like a class: You’re not a robot.  You have basic needs that help you function at your best.  It can be easy to cut out one of these components, because you might not see immediate consequences like you might if you miss an assignment or don’t study for an exam.  Consequences in your health take longer to appear than two class periods.  This is something I struggled with, because sleep and exercise are usually the first to go when I have too much work.  But, good health is what’s going to take you beyond those assignments, and poor health has lasting effects.  But, penciling in a bed time or a 30 minute exercise session and sticking to it could fix this–it’s something I’ll try (and probably write a post on) next semester. 🙂

4. Showing you’re a leader isn’t “how many leadership roles can you take on”:  Instead, it’s “how well can you do in the ones you take on.”  This goes back to the value of your time; you could spend your time being mediocre at a bunch of things, or you could be really impactful in fewer things.  This concept isn’t revolutionary–I’ve seen it be used everywhere, but it’s really relevant here, especially when you’re managing an operation.  It’s different from a class, because if you take on too much during a semester, you’ll just get lower grades (read: yourself).  But, in a leadership role, if you don’t have enough time to dedicate, you risk affecting an entire operation (read: other people).

5. If possible, don’t make major life decisions when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation: This ties into our talk about rejection with clouded judgement.  Try to wait until things have died down until you make a life-altering choice.  This way, you’re making sure that your stressors aren’t influencing your decision, because in many cases, the decision’s consequences last longer than the effects of the stressors.

6. Try your best: You might not ace every class.  You might not get an amazing performance review every time.  You might not get the internship you’ve been wanting forever.  But, you’re trying, and that’s where you should be proud of yourself. Sometimes, we set our expectations for ourselves higher than we can actually achieve. Even if you don’t reach your perfect-world goals, you’re still achieving so much.  When you try to improve yourself, whether it’s with school or exercise or anything else, you’ll create a better version of yourself than you had yesterday.

Sincerely,

Calla

6 life lessons I learned from living in Seattle for a summer

I spent the summer living in Seattle, so you don’t have to.

Just kidding, I loved it!  Seattle is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited.  The local culture is so vibrant, and there’s an mist of nonchalance that covers the air when the fog burns up.  Seattle is a city that its residents are proud to represent, and this gave me the perfect environment to do a little soul-searching and self improvement.  I’ve never spent a summer focusing solely on personal growth and where I want to go life-wise, and at the risk of sounding too much like a blurb off Instagram, taking three months to learn more about myself and what I really want has been enlightening.

Now that I’ve sprinkled this post with so much mozzarella, let’s get onto the point of your visit here: 6 life lessons from living in Seattle.

1. You can be easygoing and ambitious at the same time:  Simply put, you don’t have to constantly feel like you’re about to have a coronary from anxiety to have goals.  I think it’s a common thing to associate Type A personalities with high ambition, but wanting success isn’t necessarily a trait specific to a personality type.  It’s okay to roll with it; you’ll still get things done! 🙂 Seattle is possibly the most collectively relaxed city I’ve ever visited–much different from the east coast in a sense that that insatiable need to get onto the next task is diminished.  It’s taught me that you don’t always have to be on the go to want to achieve.  Which leads me into my next point…

2. Not everything needs to get done right now:  Not everything on the bucket list has to be done by tomorrow or this weekend.  Take your time, and take breaks when you need it.  It can be daunting to look at all the things you want to accomplish and become intimidated.  For a while, I often felt like I was going to be constantly racing against the clock to get all of my school completed, and it was frustrating.  Once you reframe your mindset to realize how much time a year or five actually is, you realize that you’re doing just fine, and your pace is probably perfect for you.

3. Everyone can use another friend:  I’ve made so many wonderful friends this summer, and I’m so grateful for them.  I used to be one to keep my friend circle pretty small, but learning to branch out has taught me how much you can gain from new friendships.  Genuinely connecting with people can be unusual, so it’s amazing when you find people who you feel like you can be yourself around and enjoy your company.  This isn’t to say that you’re required to become best friends with everyone you meet, because that obviously isn’t realistic.  But, you can never meet too many good people.  Knowing someone cares about your wellbeing is a warm feeling, and you never know how much a friendship means to someone who feels they don’t have enough support or really needs it at the moment.

4. It’s easier to be outgoing when you’re confident:  This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned this summer.  I’ve always been pretty quiet, but I’ve slowly begun to grow out of my shyness.  Developing self confidence is something that’s helped me in talking to people–but that sounds intuitive, doesn’t it?  When you feel comfortable with yourself to the degree that you’re not afraid of people’s reactions, you’re more likely to approach them as the truest and calmest version of yourself, because you know you’ll be okay if they don’t like what you’re saying.

5. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like you: You’re not everyone’s type, and sometimes your experiences are so different that you can’t relate to each other.  It’s nobody’s fault–it’s just the circumstances that make you guys incompatible.  It doesn’t mean you both aren’t amazing people.  You won’t have a connection with everyone that you meet, and that’s ok; it’s what makes those friendships more special.

6. Trust your intuition:  If something feels right, then go with it.  If it doesn’t, don’t.  Your instincts are biologically engrained into you to keep you safe from dangerous situations. If you feel like something is wrong, then it probably is, and you shouldn’t ignore your feelings, even if you risk coming off as impolite.

Sincerely,

Calla

Hello to you

Hi, my name is Calla.  This is my blog.

I’m not quite sure what I want to do with this entity yet, if I’m being completely honest. I’m uncertain of how often I’ll post, what I’ll say, and if it’ll be of any interest to anyone besides myself.  I’ve wanted to renew this hobby for a little while now, and I figured that a frosty, 28 degree day in April would nurture creativity, for some reason.

It feels familiar to blog– like you’re speaking with a friend you haven’t talked to in a few years, but you’re able to pick up right where you left off (I’ll try to limit the clichés in further thoughts, I guarantee it).

We’ll see where this goes, but I figured it be severely appropriate to state my intentions behind and for this blog, no matter how vague or uncertain.

Sincerely,

Calla