Life in General

25 at 25: My Birthday Bucket List

10642782_10154513491505627_1672977676_oIt’s hard for me to believe this, but tomorrow is my 25th birthday! :) The last year, with all of its ups and downs, truly flew by, and it’s so weird for me to say that I’ve been around for a quarter of a century. I still think of myself as a college student, half worried that I have an exam that I forgot about — not as a professional who has been in her career for two and a half years. Where does the time go?

In order to get a little more excited about my birthday this year, I decided to put together a bucket list of things I hope to do while I’m 25! I am looking forward to trying some new things and visiting new places in the next year, and can’t wait to share my adventures with readers. :)

I plan to blog about some of these experiences as they take place, but I will also be tracking them on the 25 at 25 page on my blog. Here are the things I hope to accomplish at 25!

  1. Leave the state of Florida for a vacation.
  2. Go to the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford.
  3. See a local performing arts show.
  4. Visit my sister in her new apartment once she leaves for graduate school.
  5. Go to the planetarium.
  6. Pursue public speaking opportunities.
  7. Roam around Leu Gardens in Orlando.
  8. Take a wine and painting class.
  9. Spend the day in St. Augustine.
  10. Visit the Morikami Museum.
  11. Go on a behind-the-scenes tour of Magic Kingdom.
  12. Apply to MBA school.
  13. Start a small side business for career coaching and resume writing.
  14. Ride the swan boats at Lake Eola.
  15. Take a Spanish class.
  16. Tour the Lakeridge Winery in Clermont and attend a wine tasting.
  17. Go berry picking.
  18. Attend a class at the East End Market.
  19. Try a meal from a food truck.
  20. Host a murder mystery party.
  21. Embark on another round of Whole30.
  22. Drive out to New Smyrna Beach.
  23. Watch a mob movie.
  24. Eat a macaron for the first time.
  25. Treat myself to a spa day.

What’s on your bucket list for the next year? Share your goals in the comments section below!

The Problem with “Body Positivity” in Today’s Culture

d16388d8a9f6aee3e184b4ebe926e62cIn an age when anything on social media can and will go viral, celebrities and non-celebrities alike are turning to the Internet to share their messages of body positivity and acceptance. With all of the cyber-bullying out there, it’s great to see people using this platform for something good! However, the messages we see online (and in our media) about beauty and body image can be a little conflicting and sometimes more exclusionary than we think.

2015 has been a big year for the the makeup-free selfie craze — and truth be told, I’m not a fan. Let me clarify: I believe we should all have the right to take as many selfies as we want, with or without makeup (until, of course, our friends stop following us on social media for our liberal use of the hashtag #SelfieQueen… sorry, guys!). :) Additionally, we all have the right to choose whether or not to wear makeup when we are in class, out for dinner, or even at the gym. However, we should do it because we feel like it… not because we are trying to make a particular statement about our media’s standards on beauty.

A big reason why I don’t buy into the makeup-free selfie craze is because it can be just as superficial as anything else, and a lot of the time, our online reactions to a celebrity’s photo are very different from our in-person reactions to a makeup-free friend or coworker. When Tyra Banks recently posted a photo of herself without makeup, people applauded her for showing the world her “real” self and demonstrating true body positivity. Meanwhile, when I forget to put on eyeliner, people tell me I look exhausted. :(

b65f127c604ae9d71f6c6c03f5747923e09b934e84aa9625869487b28a215167Makeup or no makeup, the amount of cosmetics you invest in does not determine how real you are or what your value to society truly is. As women, we are often told to wear makeup, but not too much, and don’t let the guys know you’re wearing it! We should go for that natural look that 9 out of 10 men surveyed by Cosmo claim to like, and forgo the red lipstick even if we personally prefer it. Wearing “too much” makeup (as determined by your audience) means you’re only focused on the surface level and you aren’t true to yourself. It probably also means that you have little to no self esteem and that you are too worried about societal beauty standards. And God forbid you wear any makeup when you work out!

It is important to defend a woman’s decision not to wear makeup, and to instead value her for the light she brings into the world. However, it is just as important to defend a woman’s right to wear makeup, get her hair done or have cosmetic surgery without immediately dismissing her as superficial and sad. As women, we can make body positive statements by standing up for one another, treating each other with kindness, and  recognizing that our value is not determined by our looks.

Wear makeup because you want to wear makeup. Skip the makeup if it’s not your thing. Realize that everyone’s preferences on what is aesthetically pleasing can differ dramatically, so don’t hold others to your own.

The Weekend Five: Travel Essentials for the New Year

Friday-Friendly-Funny-Dave-Blazek-Friendly-Planet-Travel-Airline-Seat2015 is here, which means it’s time to dust off those New Years Resolution travel goals and make our vacation dreams a reality! I was especially spoiled to take two trips out of the country during my junior year of college, visiting both the Middle East and Europe (see my posts on London, Paris and Rome!), but my love for travel has taken a backseat since I graduated from college almost two years ago. This year, I hope to go on a few more adventures to reawaken my wanderlust and explore something new!

As part of RelayRides‘ travel essentials campaign, I’ll be sharing five must-haves for your next trip. Keep these on your list as you plan out your own 2015 adventures, and keep RelayRides in mind for future airport car rentals, which you can access at airports all over the country! :)

The Weekend Five: Travel Essentials

camera_funny_never1. Camera.
I’ll never forget the joy I felt as a child when my parents bought me disposable cameras before we went on vacation. In fact, on one trip, I went through three disposable cameras throughout the course of a week, snapping photos all over New York City. Bringing your camera is an important (if not slightly obvious) way to capture each moment of your trip. Whenever I go on vacation, I always bring an extra memory card in case I get a little photo-crazy. Make sure you bring something you don’t mind carrying around!


2. Lip balm and moisturizers.
Chances are, if you’re traveling anywhere that has even a slightly different climate from where you live, the new environment will have an impact on your skin. If you’re flying to your destination, your lips are sure to chap on the airplane, so make sure you pack your favorite lip balm (guys included) and a moisturizer for your face. After spending 10 days in the desert and then flying home, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked in the mirror in the airport bathroom. I will never again travel without sufficient moisturizer and a consistent regimen!


travel essentials for the new year3. Itinerary.
I am a firm believer in the value of a good itinerary. Planning what you want to see and do ahead of your trip is essential for making the most out of your vacation! Allow room for spontaneity – you never know what you’ll stumble into along the way! – but have a basic schedule for where you want to go and what you want to see.


4. Chargers.
Make sure you pack chargers for all devices that you plan to use on your trip. If your camera dies on Day 2 out of 5, you don’t want those photos to be your last! A phone charger is also important, especially if you’re traveling within the country and will be using your phone to regularly communicate. Pro tip: To avoid leaving your charger at the hotel, leave a note for yourself to remember your charger, and keep that note by the door. My dad, a pilot, taught me that before my first overnight trip without my family, and I will never forget it!


travel must haves5. Journal.
On my past few trips, I decided to bring a journal for a few reasons. One: it allowed me to create a chronological list of the attractions I’d photographed throughout the trip (so I wouldn’t forget what they were a few days later when I returned home). Two: it was a great way for me to record my personal observations and experiences throughout the trip, in a way that was private but still meaningful. I kept my journals from my most recent trips to Israel and Europe, and two years later, I still enjoy reading them on occasion and remembering some of the nuances of the trips.


What are your travel essentials? Share your must-haves in the comments section below!

How To Overcome Your Fears in One Simple Step

lion-cub-singita-castletonA few weeks ago, I was asked to speak on a career-related panel in front of 300 students. The invitation was incredibly exciting, and I was honored to share my story with others who would benefit from my experience. A few years ago, however, this type of speaking engagement would have completely terrified me.

As a high schooler, I was so afraid of public speaking that I used to shake before presenting in my English class. I was an All-American cheerleader and loved talking to people one-on-one, but whenever I had to give a presentation in class, my heart raced and my teeth chattered. When I first enrolled in college, the fear had subsided somewhat, but I still found myself mumbling “I’m sorry” in the middle of speech flubs.

However, over the years, I have learned how to manage this fear. During my senior year of college, I taught conference workshops on blogging and social media, and a few lunchtime seminars focused on resume writing and interview skills. Most recently, I spoke on the aforementioned panel regarding the importance of communication skills in the workforce. I may still not be the perfect speaker — I am guilty of a few ums here and there! — and I may still get butterflies in my stomach before I present, but I overcome my fear through action.

In other words, we can overcome our fears by doing the thing we are afraid of. I’m not suggesting you do something completely reckless and life-threatening (I am afraid of the bear that I saw near my neighborhood last month, and I am not going to approach him with food to try and get over that fear), but I do believe that the best way to move past our fears and insecurities is to face them head on and take action.

Public speaking still makes me nervous, but I overcome those nerves by saying “yes” to those public speaking engagements and using them as opportunities for growth. Most, if not all, members of the audience are not there to criticize or condemn what I am saying. They are there to learn. Therefore, I recognize that by speaking to that audience, even if I stumble over a word, I am providing helpful advice and information. I have value.

As my friend Max likes to say, do one thing every day that scares you. By doing this, you are quieting those voices of inadequacy and lessening your fear every time. You are saying yes to opportunities and learning from them. You are growing. You are allowing yourself to be more of the person that you want to be.

Want to overcome your fears? Give yourself a chance to face them.

OMG, You’re Jewish? Well-Meaning But Common Reactions

celebrating-jewish-new-year-rosh-hashanah-ecard-someecardsI usually like to avoid discussing religion on this blog, because I think the topic is completely irrelevant to my usual content. Readers come here for college tips and ridiculous lists, not for a play-by-play of my thoughts on life, death and the possibility of a higher power.

However, today I’d like to share (from a relatively secular perspective) some of the reactions I get and misconceptions I hear when I tell people that I am Jewish. Some of these have made me laugh over the years, but I thought it would be fun to share these with my Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike! For the non-Jewish readers, I hope this gives you a little insight into what your Jewish friends are thinking when they hear certain questions and comments. For my Jewish readers, I’d love to hear your own experiences in the comments section below! :)

OMG, You’re Jewish? Well-Meaning But Common Responses

  • But you don’t look Jewish!
    Oh, so I don’t look like the very small representation of the Jewish population that you’ve seen on TV? Most of the time, when people say this, they are referring to very specific features that have been exemplified through years of offensive caricatures. Not all Jews look alike – just Google Jewish celebrities for some examples! I have Jewish friends of many nationalities and backgrounds – friends who are black, South American, Central American, European and Middle-Eastern – and (surprise, surprise!) they don’t look alike.
  • You LOOK Jewish!
    See above. To this day, I’m still not sure if I look Jewish or not, and I don’t really care!
  • Do you know Danny Goldstein? He’s Jewish, too!
    Seriously? The fact that I’m Jewish doesn’t mean that I know every other Jewish person out there! There might not be many of us, but we don’t all know each other. It’s crazy you would even… Oh wait, Danny Goldstein? We went to Hebrew School together…
  • But how can you NOT celebrate Christmas?
    Contrary to popular belief, Christmas is not the only holiday that brings family and friends together in merriment. In fact, we have eight nights of Hanukkah! Interestingly enough, many Jews live full and happy lives without ever once celebrating Christmas. (Luckily for me, I get to celebrate both – so I have twice the fun!)
  • Are you related to Moses?
    Why yes, Moses is my grandfather. (I think this question stems more from my admittedly awesome last name than anything else, but I digress. Growing up, a lot of my non-Jewish friends were convinced that Moses was the focal point of Judaism and that we worshipped him in the same way that Christians worship Jesus.)
  • I find so many good bargains. I’d make such a good Jew!
    No, you’re just financially savvy. If Judaism taught us extreme-couponing and how to pinch every penny, then I wouldn’t constantly overspend at the grocery store. (As a side note, my non-Jewish boyfriend is way better at finding freebies and discounts than I am.)

Other Stray Comments

  • We do not all sound like Woody Allen. Yes, he is funny and his movies are charming, but the whole “neurotic Jew” stereotype definitely seems to stem from him and his characters.
  • People can be Jewish and German. I’ve seen friends act shocked to meet someone of Jewish and German descent, but it does happen, just as there are Ethiopian Jews and Brazilian Jews and Jews from practically every other country in the world.
  • One time, I said “Oy Vey!” and a friend responded, “Wow! I had no idea you could speak French!”
  • We really do have some of the best food. If you haven’t had kugel yet, you really need to get on that.

Friends, what are some of the well-meaning but silly reactions or comments you’ve received over the years?

Things Girls Like

caa8957a12a25135_2894847831_1aa08871c7_b.preview_tallToday is my 24th birthday! I have had a feeling for a while that 24 is going to be a good year, filled with unexpected opportunities and accomplishments. Over the last few days, I have been celebrating with my family and friends (and my boyfriend, whose birthday is also today), and am so excited to ring in a brand new year. Because my birthday has been filled with the things I like — chocolate cake balls, yoga, useful gifts, free burgers, fantasy football and, of course, my loved ones — I thought it was only fitting to share this slightly more general list of things that many girls like. If you’re shopping for a 20-something girl this season or simply trying to understand one, please enjoy this comprehensive (and probably sexist) list.

Things Girls Like

  • Farmers markets. We probably don’t need all the produce we just bought, but we feel a little more environmentally aware when we buy local. We also enjoy the experience of posting pictures of ourselves at the farmers market on Facebook, even if we didn’t end up buying anything at all.
  • Brunch. Brunch is a fun activity to participate in, especially after the farmers market. However, it generally doesn’t count as a true Brunch unless you order a mimosa or, at the very least, an orange juice. (A chronic water-drinker, I tend to fail at Brunch.)
  • Mason jars. A few months ago, the Mason jar became the Regina George of Kitchenware. Girls enjoy crafting with Mason jars, drinking out of Mason jars, even layering their salads in Mason jars. Want to make your friend a delicious cookie with a twist? Throw flour, baking soda, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and butter in a Mason jar. It won’t taste very good, but she will adore it so much that she’ll post it on Instagram with the hashtag #blessed.
  • Starbucks drinks that “feel like Fall.” Girls from Florida and other states that don’t experience real seasons are especially guilty of this. When the pumpkin spice lattes are back in stores, we know that it’s almost time for “sweater weather,” and we can finally break out those cute-but-hardly-functional infinity scarves.
  • Taking pictures with flowers. Flowers make our lives infinitely prettier, so if we photograph ourselves holding flowers or sitting in a garden full of flowers, we are guaranteed at least 50 percent more likes on social media.
  • All things DIY. Especially when those DIY projects involve Mason jars.
  • Expressing their emotions with emojis. Why use words when we can use silly iPhone faces to show our true feelings?
  • Lighting candles. Vanilla and lavender are sooooo relaxing.
  • Statement necklaces. What better to accessorize with, my dear?
  • Vision boards. They’re like a real-life version of Pinterest! Use your vision board to plan a wedding, shed excess weight or plot out revenge on all of your ex-boyfriends.

Share your own favorites in the comments section below. You know you want to!

The Weekend Five: Tips for Road Trip Etiquette

five rules for road trip etiquetteWe are in the thick of summer, which is the best time of the year for a road trip! I’ve personally never taken a long trip in the car (I prefer flying!), but over the years I have taken several mini-road trips out to other parts of the state, and I’ve definitely picked up my share of advice and pet peeves in that time. As you gear up for your own road trips this summer, keep these five rules in mind. (Want to share? Tweet this!)

The Weekend Five: Tips for Road Trip Etiquette

1. The driver controls the music.
If you’re not the one driving, don’t touch the radio unless the driver says so. Driving can be as stressful as it is costly, so the driver should play the music or radio shows that put him or her most at ease. Of course, if you’re the driver, you should also be polite and open to suggestions from your passengers (it’s not nice to blast Megadeth when your friends are trying to avoid hearing loss, for example), but as a passenger, it’s not nice to turn off the driver’s song just because you dislike Nickelback or whatever.


2. Keep your feet off the dashboard.
There is nothing that I hate more than when passengers want to treat my car like their dirty apartments. (Okay, that’s a little dramatic – I also hate bigots, Internet trolls and cockroaches.) You don’t live in my car, so keep your feet off the dashboard and sit up straight.


five rules of road trips3. No backseat driving allowed!
This has always been another huge pet peeve of mine! As a passenger, you should speak up if you believe you’re in serious danger or if you see something that the driver can’t, but avoid criticizing minor aspects of the driver’s technique: a slightly crooked parking job, a turn signal that started a little too soon or a little too late, the driver’s speed being slightly faster or slower than you would drive. Again, unless it is something that could put the passengers in danger or get the driver in trouble, there is no need to comment on minor mistakes – chances are, they are one-time mistakes that the driver has already caught, and you would be making them too if you were the driver that day. Backseat driving can also put the driver on edge and make him or her very uncomfortable, which doesn’t always make for safe driving.


4. Show your appreciation to the driver.
On a long drive, it is only fair that the passengers contribute something for the driver, whether that includes gas money or lunch. Long drives cost a lot of money (and energy), and your driver deserves contributions that make the trip easier.


5. Don’t eat in the car without the driver/car owner’s permission.
Some car owners are cool with passengers eating whatever they want in the car, but others are not so lax. Find out what your friend will allow early on (Food? Drinks?) and if he or she does allow food in the car, try to only bring food that won’t make a huge mess or have a strong smell. An easy road trip food I like to bring is a bag of grapes – they don’t make crumbs and they won’t make your fingers sticky, either. I love hard boiled eggs, but I don’t bring them in friends’ cars because the smell can bother people. Be respectful of your driver!


Other tips: Don’t douse yourself in perfume or cologne if you’re going to be in close proximity to people for a long period of time. (Conversely, make sure you’re clean and wearing deodorant if you’re going to be in close proximity to people for a long period of time!) Offer to help the driver navigate if he or she is lost. If you do bring clean snacks, share with the other passengers!

What are some of your tips for road trip etiquette?

Dinner Table Etiquette: How to Talk to Someone With Dietary Restrictions

480845_601090163258974_1110035571_nFor the past few months, I have experimented with an elimination diet. Alternating between the strict Whole 30 program and a more relaxed, mostly clean eating lifestyle, I have learned a lot about myself and my reactions to certain foods. (As an added bonus, I experienced weight loss, increased energy levels, improved mood and the best skin of my life!)

During that time, I have discovered that no two people are exactly alike when it comes to what works best for them and what kind of diet/routine they can most realistically stick with. However, the more ingrained I become in my healthy new lifestyle, the more I have been met with skepticism and some very strange faux-concern, and the more that I have learned just how judgmental our society is regarding food and dietary restrictions.

I suppose I had witnessed some of this before, but never firsthand. When a vegetarian or vegan discusses his or her choice to stop eating meat or animal byproducts, naysayers are always quick to say, “That isn’t healthy at all! What about all those nutrients you are missing out on?” (The best part is when someone says this while eating something undeniably processed or bad for you, like a bag of Cheetos.) When someone mentions a gluten intolerance, we dismiss what might be a very real sensitivity for them as simply a fad diet. If a person’s choice in cuisine is different from our own, we lunge at the opportunity to correct him or her, regardless of how informed we really are.

Cartoon_--_crouton_makes_saladBack in February, I embarked on my first Whole 30. For the next 30 days, I eliminated gluten, added sugars, legumes, dairy and various processed foods. Since then, I have completed my second Whole 30 and am currently on Day 3 of my third. When I am not on the program, I occasionally add in some of the above foods in moderation, but find I have less of a craving for them and now am aware of which ones have had negative effects on me. While several people were skeptical (“What can you eat during this program?!?!?”) and it has certainly been a challenge (I love me some simple carbs), the program was actually quite similar to what my doctor had been suggesting to me for years.

And yet, we are quick to dismiss someone’s dietary restrictions or lifestyle because it doesn’t fit into our own nutritional ideals. Why? To me, the only other people whose opinions matter on this subject are my doctors and, to an extent, my parents. Aside from a few basic standards – fruits and vegetables are healthier than Dorito’s, for example – there are many points in nutrition and weight loss where people (especially non-professionals) are going to disagree. “Is paleo the way to go, or should I go on Weight Watchers?” “Should I weigh myself every day, or throw out my scale?” “Are grains really the enemy?” The trouble is, we each have different bodies, minds and relationships with food. Therefore, can we really all fit into one box? Should we?

2161-300x300When you meet someone whose dietary preferences or restrictions aren’t the same as yours, listen and be respectful. (Tweet this!) Ask questions if you wish to learn more, but don’t try to pressure another person into something just because you think it is the right way. (Of course, if a friend or family member is consuming dangerously too few calories or exhibiting signs of an eating disorder, you may want to step in. Again, be kind and check your judgment at the door – food and body image are very difficult and emotional issues for many people.)

I truly believe the Whole 30 has changed my life for the better, and will happily talk to friends who are curious about the program or about the less restrictive changes I’ve made. However, I don’t believe in pushing my views on somebody else. I know several vegans/vegetarians, people who keep Kosher, people who avoid gluten, people who count calories, people who want to lose weight and people who want to gain weight, and I believe that different bodies and minds will benefit from different routines. Aside from a few basic principles, there really is no one size fits all, so let’s not offer unsolicited advice that may not work as well for someone else as it does for us.

In short, be kind and don’t dismiss others. Isn’t that how we should be living our lives anyway? :-)

The Post-Grad 15: What I’ve Learned Since My College Graduation

Me as a college graduate!

Me as a college graduate!

When I was a freshman in college, I launched The Freshman 15 series on my blog. Every month, I provided a list of 15 tips for college students geared toward a particular theme, such as getting involved on campus, navigating college relationships and overcoming homesickness. That first April in 2010, the series kicked off with a list of 15 lessons I had learned that year in college, and this quickly became a tradition – every April brought with it a list of what I had learned outside of the classroom that year (see Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4).

Although these posts were some of my blog’s most popular, The Freshman 15 series fell to the wayside about a year ago. However, this month, I am excited to announce that The Freshman 15 is officially back and (hopefully) better than ever!

As many of my readers may know, I graduated from college back in May 2013, so this month’s article comes with a twist – a list of 15 lessons I learned in the year since I graduated college! The past year was particularly eye-opening for me, as I moved to a new apartment, began working full-time and experienced other substantial changes in my life. In that time, I faced plenty of ups and downs, and am excited to share what I discovered in the process!

The Post-Grad 15: What I’ve Learned Since My College Graduation

 1. You can get through the seemingly impossible, but you have to take the first step. (Tweet this!)
In my first year out of school, I overcame a few challenges in my life that I thought would be impossible, simply by moving forward. Instead of sitting around, waiting for things to get better, I took action and made my life better. This year was proof that “Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” I achieved positive results in my life by doing things I’d never done before, and learned that our biggest opportunities for growth often come from the challenges we didn’t think we could face.

2. Don’t put glass bottles on the top shelf, especially above a carpeted surface…
… And if you do, make sure you have plenty of carpet cleaner on hand! I learned this lesson the hard way when I knocked a bottle of Kahlua off a shelf and had to make a late-night trip to the store for cleanup. Several rounds of vacuuming later, my apartment was as good as new, but my leg and foot were a different story! (The worst part is that neither my roommate nor I drink Kahlua or had any use for it on our shelf!)

01595c42c30d4e84d087359d60e68d083. Tragedy does not care about timing.
I have written about this before, but I cannot stress this lesson enough. Only a month after graduation, I experienced two profound yet completely different losses within four days of each other. At the time, I was in new-hire training at work, and in the middle of packing up for my upcoming move across town. Dealing with two negative situations at the same time was difficult and often felt unfair, but I quickly learned that – cliché as it is – life isn’t always fair. At the end of the day, you still have to find healthy ways to cope and still function as a human being. Life will continue to happen around you, whether or not you pick up the pieces, and the world will spin madly on.

4. You can find alliances in unexpected places.
Accept them. You will need them, as you adjust to The Real World, and from time to time, they will need you. Be the type of friend you would want to have, and open your eyes to the wonderful people out there who want to be yours.

5. Get a roommate.
You will save money this way, and you will be a lot less lonely!

I am fortunate to have this trail right outside of my neighborhood!

I am fortunate to have this trail right outside of my neighborhood!

6. Breathe in the fresh air.
I mean this literally. Make it a priority to go outside. Several months ago, my boyfriend and I discovered a nature trail near my apartment, and since then, I have enjoyed countless walks down that trail when I need to get away. (Recently, my roommate and I even encountered a bunny out there!) Find a peaceful place where you can go when the weather is nice and you need that change in scenery.

7. There will still be days that suck.
You know the ones I’m talking about… the long, cold, rainy ones when all you want to do is go home and sleep, but then you find yourself pulled into one fiasco after another, and when you finally think it’s all over, you drop your keys in the dark. Those days still exist, even now that you’re supposed to be a well-adjusted, sophisticated adult, and you will never escape them completely. But then there are the good days that make all the struggles and minor crises that much easier to take, because they remind us of the success we’re working toward.

8. You are never too old for a Disney movie night.
Sometimes it’s important to stop taking ourselves so seriously and to enjoy the simple things that remind us of our childhood. Whenever I’m sick, I curl up in bed and watch Beauty and the Beast, partly because Belle is my all-time favorite princess and partly because the film takes me back to a simpler time in my life. Find those comforts and take advantage of them when needed. (This same rule can be applied to the Spice Girls movie, which my roommate and I may or may not have watched at home a few months ago…)

9. Clothes make the man (or woman).
To be taken seriously in the workforce, you have to invest in a few key pieces. Make sure you have a nice suit and can put together a clean and polished outfit for an interview or for work. Some items can be found on sale or for much cheaper, but you will need to invest in quality clothes. (These are great graduation gifts to ask for!)

121212someecards110. Learn about finances before you graduate.
Know how to write a check, balance your checkbook and create a budget. You can find plenty of templates online to get started, but you will need to find ways to stay organized so that you can avoid paying late or spending more than your paycheck allows. Learn about how to build your credit score and develop positive habits now, so that your borrowing history doesn’t keep you from reaching your dreams later in life.

11. It is much more difficult to take time off to go see family.
Because of this, you have to value that time now more than ever. Don’t let those visits get lost amidst piles of work and obligations. Appreciate the family you have and make the time for them when you are able to do so.

12. When looking at jobs, think big picture.
Salary is important, but what about the job’s benefits? What about the company culture? Will you be happy there? I was lucky to accept a job where many employees have stayed on for years, one where I could see myself long-term, but some people will go against their gut and take the first job offer they can get their hands on. Keep an open mind, but don’t settle if the job isn’t for you.

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

13. Develop a sense of community, wherever you end up.
Find free events in your area, cheap museums to visit, local parks and other attractions that contribute to your community’s identity. This helps you to take pride in where you live, especially when you are in a new place, and in my case, it helps me feel less homesick! These types of events can also help you to save money while still having fun with friends.

14. Life doesn’t fit into a neatly shaped box.
Sometimes, things don’t go as you plan, no matter how hard you try. There may be times when your life feels less like a glamorous Audrey Hepburn movie and more like an extremely depressing episode of Girls. It’s okay to veer off path once in a while, so long as you develop that support system that can steer you back on course.

15. Be thankful for the good times.
I cannot stress this enough. While you experience highs and lows after graduation, you will want to remember the highs and never take them for granted. As one project I’m working on this year, I keep a jar of all the great things that have happened in 2014. Every time I experience something positive that I want to remember, I write it down on a small slip of paper and stick it in the jar. At the end of the year, I look forward to pouring everything out and reliving some of those happy memories. After all, amidst the lows, the year has also brought with it some pretty spectacular highs. :)


Readers: Are you a college graduate who would like to share a lesson you’ve learned since graduation? Email me at for details on how you can contribute to an upcoming article on So It Must Be True!

Unfinished: The Tricky Thing About Closure

Lifetime_How-I-Met-Your-Mother_6_Unfinished_79899_LF_2013_HD_768x432-16x9“You need demarcation.”
“Demarcation?” I asked.
“It means a clear separation between two things,” he told me. “A solid end before a clean beginning. No murky borders. Clarity.”
Sarah Dessen, The Moon and More


As I was binge-watching old episodes of How I Met Your Mother, I came across an episode in season six that struck a chord with me. In the episode Unfinished, Robin has recently broken up with Don, a boyfriend who had left for a job in Chicago just as things were getting serious. Robin experiences both anger and remorse as she deals with one of the most difficult break-ups of her life, concerned that she will never have closure, and that she and Don “will always be a loose end.”

closurelaw-smIt is a problem that so many of us face in our lives, whether we are going through a break-up or experiencing another monumental change. Within the realm of relationships, it is difficult to find closure if one or both parties aren’t ready to let go, and as much as we hate to admit it, we often aren’t ready. Lines of communication are kept open, words are minced to soften the blow and suddenly we find ourselves wondering where we would be if X, Y and Z had never happened. Things end in a way we don’t expect and don’t like, and the closure we yearn for is suddenly out of reach.

I remember at the end of my junior year of high school, I finished my cheerleading season with injuries and a few sub-par performances that my sophomore-self wouldn’t have been proud of. Because of my senior year schedule and my new position as a yearbook editor, I knew that cheerleading in my senior year was out of the question, but it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that my season hadn’t ended the way I wanted it. I was devastated, and considered forcing practices and games into my schedule so that I could end my cheerleading career on a brighter note, if only to gain the closure I so desperately needed.

delete-buttonOf course, I realized that would have been a mistake, and while I initially mourned the uniform and pom poms (bear with me, I was a teenager!), I eventually moved on. I had a successful year as a yearbook editor, and not re-joining the team gave me more time to write freelance articles locally. As an adult, I have never regretted the decision I was convinced I would regret at age seventeen.

In my college years and early twenties, I have been in situations that initially lacked closure as well – a break-up I wasn’t ready for, a perfect first date that never led to a second, jobs I applied to that never called back. I have craved closure and sometimes I have even gotten that closure thrown back at me in the worst possible way. However, I have also met new people along the way and even ended up at my dream job.

7fd7600e150ac1bce69b852d20676a53Throughout Unfinished, Robin struggles to erase Don’s phone number from her memory (and from her cell phone), but by the end of the episode, she forgets it. And just as Robin forgets Don’s number, you too will forget your ex’s nuances (or the job you didn’t get, or the sport you quit, etc.) in certain ways because your brain will be focused on something else: a hobby, perhaps, or someone new. Breaking up with closure can be a tricky thing, but it passes with time as you change your circumstances and create your own closure.

“And the heart,” says Judith Ortiz Cofer in her poem To a Daughter I Cannot Console, “like a well-constructed little boat, will resume its course toward hope.”