Life

Money Versus Happiness

When we’re younger, we are always told we can be whatever we want to be. You usually don’t hear young boys and girls list jobs like accountant, secretary, plumber, or retail manager. (I’m not knocking those jobs but they just aren’t as exciting as ballerina, superhero, or movie star.)

When you’re younger, you don’t envision yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Even as old as college, this usually isn’t what we envision for ourselves.

We imagine that we’re going to have exciting jobs. Our passions will turn into careers. And these careers will provide us with enough money to travel, buy a home, and eat out to dinner whenever we want.

Somewhere along the way, usually when we spend months after graduation sending out our resume to every business within 100 miles of us, we realize that our passion does not always lead to money. We’re not all going to make it as YouTube stars reviewing cookies for a living. (I’m not hip to the latest YouTubers so I’m not sure if this is actually a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised.)

While the 9-5 jobs aren’t glamorous, they have their benefits. They provide a steady paycheck and health benefits. If you’re lucky, you may even land a job that will automatically set you up with a 401K or some other retirement fund.

I spent one long weekend in the summer going on 5 interviews in New Hampshire and Vermont. I was desperate to leave my current position. I spend at least an hour in traffic each way. I like less than half the people I work with. And I am not a huge fan of the patrons who frequent my library. There are a few nice ones but most are rude.

I wanted to get out of my current job and get out of New York City.

I had a goal in mind. I wanted to be the director of a small branch somewhere up in the mountains. I’d live in a small town where everyone knew each other and I could spend my weekends hiking and going to the local farm. Basically, I wanted the complete opposite of New York. I wasn’t happy where I was so I was determined to make a change.

I started applying for jobs in New England and soon began getting call backs. I was lucky enough to squeeze several interviews in a short span of time.

My last interview of a very long weekend was at this little branch in the middle of nowhere in Vermont. It was for a library director position and if hired, I’d be the only full-time employee. The rest of the library consisted of part-timers and volunteers.

When I was in library school, this library was where I imagined working. It was a small town. (I’m talking population of less than 5,000.) I would be the sole person in charge of this little library that needed a lot of help. The Trustees were working on a plan to expand the library and bring it to the 21st century. The library needed a lot of help. The bathroom was in the basement and the only way to get there was down very steep steps. No elevator. And there was no access to the building except for several steps leading to the front entrance. No ramp.

There were a whole slew of people in the town who couldn’t use the library simply because they had no way of entering. I instantly fell in love with the little town and the adorable old ladies who interviewed me. I was ready to take on the task of rebuilding this library.

So I was elated when they called me the day after the interview to offer me the job. Here was my chance to fulfill all my librarian goals. This  was what I went to school for.

Then I was given the full offer and my heart dropped.

You can imagine a library that cannot even afford a ramp does not have much of a budget. I knew that the salary wasn’t going to be great, I just wasn’t expecting it to be so bad.

They offered me $30,000/year with no health benefits and 5 sick days to kick in once I was working for a year. I knew it wasn’t them being cheap. They were offering me everything they possibly could, but sadly, it wasn’t enough.

I knew I would have been happy there. I definitely would have enjoyed that job a lot more than the library I work for now. And I would have loved working in rural Vermont much more than Brooklyn.

But in this case, I had to choose money over happiness. Sure the cost of housing is cheaper in Vermont than Brooklyn but not much else would be less. I’d still have to eat every day and pay my student loans every month. And now I’d have to add an additional bill of health insurance since the job didn’t cover it.

I had to reluctantly turn down the offer. I still haven’t given up hope that I’ll find my dream little library. I’m just hoping to find one that’s slightly better funded.

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Maybe We’re Not Meant to Feel Settled

Depending on how you look at it, the word settled can either be a good thing or a bad thing. When it comes to relationships, hearing the word “settling” is never a good thing. You don’t want to be with someone who you’re just settling for. And even worse, you don’t want someone to just be settling for you in a relationship.

On the other side of the word settled, it evokes a sense of contentment. The official definition of settle is to “adopt a more steady or secure style of life, especially in a permanent job and home.”

While I wouldn’t say that I’m completely settled in life, I’m as close as I’ve ever been. Especially when it comes to my career. On paper, I make a decent living. (Although I question that after paying rent, car insurance, and student loans every month!) I am in the job I went to school for and have moved up quickly in my company.

I also have great friends, a loving family, an awesome bf, and a place of my own. Compared to my life even two years ago, I would consider myself settled. Or moving towards settled.  Hopefully, with a few more years in my company, I could save enough to buy my own property.

But just when all these things started falling into place is when I started to get the itch to move. I have wanted to move out of New York for a long time. It was going to happen after High School. Then it was going to happen after college. Then it was going to happen when I kept moving from one dead-end job to the next. Then it was going to happen after I graduated from grad school.

It was always going to happen until it wasn’t.

The last move didn’t happen because I was offered the exact job I wanted the day after my last class at grad school. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So once again, I put my dreams of moving out of NYC on the backburner.

And I’d probably let those dreams die out completely if it wasn’t for the overwhelming feeling of restlessness I’ve been experiencing. I don’t want to be settled. And I realized that I don’t want to ever feel settled.

There is so much in life to learn and explore that we should never feel truly settled. There’s always something new to experience.

The experiences will just be different for each person. Not everyone will feel the urge to pick up and move across the country. Maybe it’s always finding something new to talk about with your significant other. Maybe it’s mastering a new skill. Maybe it’s giving up YA books and making a goal to read more non-fiction.

No matter how big or small, don’t ever settle in life. There’s always something new to learn and fall in love with.

It’s Okay to Not Feel Okay

The past few weeks I have been in a bit of a funk. I haven’t spoken to too many people about it because I really don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling. There isn’t a specific event or occurrence that I can attribute to my depressed state.  I am not sure why I’ve been feeling the way that I have. I have just been feeling down.

When I get into a funk that has no real explanation, it always makes me feel worse. I have a roof over my head. I am relatively healthy. I don’t go to bed hungry. I have a job I enjoy. There is no real reason to feel the way that I do.

The lack of reasoning results in feelings of guilt. So on top of feeling down, I also feel incredibly guilty. Clearly I am overreacting and being ungrateful. I’ll often invalidate my own feelings. Instead of accepting the things I’m feeling, I fight them. This action has a tendency to simply make me feel worse.

There’s a major flaw in this way of thinking: All feelings are valid. And sometimes feeling shitty is just a part of being alive. In fact, I may question your humanness if you are ALWAYS happy. There is no way that is healthy.

So I’ve been feeling a little down. It could be the long winter. It could be my upcoming birthday which always fills me with doom and existential thoughts. It could be a chemical imbalance. Or, and the likely culprit, it could just be life.

Sometimes life is really awesome and sometimes it’s really shitty. It is okay for your mind to react accordingly. If you ran a mile or worked a 13 hour shift, no one would fault you for being exhausted. The same thing applies to your mind. Life can become exhausting and overwhelming. Allow your mind to take a break without feeling guilty.

If you find yourself going through a funk, don’t fight it. Recognize all the things in your life to be grateful for. Don’t brush them off. However, don’t use them as an excuse to invalidate your feelings. Healthy people can get depressed. People with a roof over their head and a job can feel anxious.

Remember: All feelings are real, even the crappy ones.

My Obligatory Election Post

I wasn’t going to post this. I think by now we’ve all had enough election talk for at least the next 20 years. But before we find out who the new president is, there are a few things I need to say. (And what better platform than my blog? No one can stop me here or tell me to shut up.)

This has been the longest election ever and it’s FINALLY over. But not really.

Both candidates running for president are incredibly flawed. There’s no right choice here. I’m not going to spend this time talking up one candidate over the other. By this point, you’ve either already cast your vote or know who will be getting it.

My biggest issue with this entire election has been the division it’s caused. On one side, you’re an uneducated, ignorant racist. On the other side, you’re stupid and lazy.

A while back I made a post where I called all the people on my FB newsfeed posting about politics stupid and annoying. A family member called me out and said he took offense to being called stupid. He had a point. There was a hidden message there that anyone whose political views did not align with mine, is stupid and annoying. Shitty mentality to have.

Within the last month or so, the same family member has posted numerous memes about Democrats being stupid and unemployed, and suggesting that men voting for Hillary aren’t “real men.” Again, a shitty mentality to have.

It becomes a problem when we decide to group people into categories. Conservative or Liberal. Democrat or Republican. That’s not how the world works. That’s not how people work.

People. Human beings. Throughout this entire election, we’ve forgotten that “redneck Trump supporters,” “idiotic millenials,” “illegal aliens,” etc. are all human beings.

I’m about to get real hippie on you guys but hear me out. No matter who wins the election tonight, (or tomorrow morning depending when this thing is finally all said and done) we all need to live together in one country. We could have the greatest president these next four years (spoiler alert: we’re not going to have the greatest president) but none of it will matter if we’re so divided.

We need to learn to listen to one another better. We need to recognize that every single person has their own ideas and thoughts. There isn’t a perfect Conservative/Republican mold or Liberal/Democratic mold.

I know people who are conservative. I know people who are liberal. I know people who are Republican. I know people who are Democrat. I am friends with all of these people because these labels don’t define them. They are just a sliver of what makes them them.

So how about starting tomorrow we all start being a little kinder to one another. We all start listening to one another and trying to see the other side of an issue.

But as for tonight, you all have my permission to down a bottle of wine and fall asleep in a puddle of your own tears! God Bless!

Let’s Talk About Political Correctness

Political Correctness (PC) has been quite the buzzword this past year in the U.S. We’ve become too PC. We are sensitive babies. PC culture is ruining the country.

Considering that my views on social issues lean towards the left, this may come as a shock to you, but I partially agree with the critiques regarding this country and political correctness. I do think that we have become a little too sensitive at times. There is some Internet outrage every hour. And this outrage is usually directed towards something so insignificant.

I think a common misconception with PC culture is that it’s just the people on the left crying foul. Sorry but the overreacting plagues the entire country and all its inhabitants. (Finally something we are all on the same page with: being sensitive babies!)

The design of a Starbucks cup. A football player kneeling. The phrase “Happy Holidays.” In a time when our country is facing some really big issues, these are some of the things that people tend to cry out about.

So yes, in general, our country has become too sensitive. It shouldn’t matter whether a mall decides to put up a Christmas tree or not. A comedian shouldn’t be required to go on an apology tour because they made an off-color joke.

If when you refer to PC culture getting out of control, you’re referring to Apple replacing the gun emoji with a water gun, then I agree with you. I’m a girl who doesn’t think rape jokes should be banned. Do I think they’re funny? No. I also don’t find Aids jokes funny. What do I do if someone makes a joke about one of those subjects? Not laugh. I don’t research the person’s job so I can have them fired.

But let’s talk about what many people mean when they talk about PC culture, particurlay the walking Cheeto in the above gif.

Being tolerant of ALL religions and  nationalities is not ruining this country. Allowing two consenting adults to marry the person they love is not ruining this country. Letting people explore their sexual orientation and gender because it literally doesn’t affect you in any way is not ruining the country.

Don’t cry and hide behind “political correctness” when you’re really just angry that PC Culture doesn’t allow you to be racist, homophobic, or sexist.

It’s the Little Things in Life

Last year, 2015, was one of the most difficult and stressful years of my life.

I had to move in with my dad and share a room with my younger sister. I was working a part-time job that required about 3 hours of travel a day to get to and from. This job barely paid me enough to afford the dollar menu at McDonald’s. And I was also finishing up grad school which included writing a 60-page thesis.

It was really hard for me to focus on anything other than the bad times. I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I felt like I was unhappy and stressed out all the time. If someone had asked me about some of the good times from 2015, it would be really hard for me to think of a single instance.

But there were good times. There were a lot of good times.

New Year’s Day of 2015, the first day of my incredibly shitty year, my sisters and I created a happiness jar. We decorated a mason jar. The mason jar would hold all my happiest memories for the year. Any moment or event of 2015 that made us exceptionally happy would be written about on a piece of paper and then placed in the jar. The idea was to read all the happy memories on New Year’s Day of 2016 to remind ourselves of all the good times throughout the year.

Before opening that jar on January 1st, 2016, if anyone had asked me how my 2015 was, I would have responded quickly with, “It was really stressful and not so great.”

However, all those memories I placed in my happiness jar throughout the year told a different story. They didn’t focus on the late nights spent writing papers or the depressed early mornings spent riding on a train to a job that paid next to nothing.

The jar was a nice reminder that 2015 wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. I had a lot of great moments in 2015. From my trip to California to random lunches with my sister to celebrating my nephew’s birthday, numerous things brought me incredible joy during the year. I was so busy between jobs and schoolwork that I didn’t have time to think about all the little moments that made life great.

And that’s how life always is. It’s the big moments, whether good or bad, that get all the credit. Getting married, births, deaths, graduations, lay offs, new jobs, etc. These BIG moments are the ones that get all the focus.

However, it’s all the little moments in between that make the big moments so significant.

People often describe their wedding day as one of the greatest days of their lives. And while that might be true, there were so many wonderful random days or moments that let up to that one big day. The first date. First kiss. First time you realized you were in love. The day he came over with soup and your favorite movie cause you were sick.

All those little moments that you don’t give much thought to are what really make life worthwhile. The moments that are easily forgotten when life becomes too busy (AKA when life is life).

When the majority of life is spent waking up, getting ready for work, going to work, coming home, and then getting ready to do it all over again the next day, it’s only natural that the big moments are the ones that stand out. The nights you spent staying up much later than you should have with your favorite people can easily be forgotten. But those moments are the real ones to cherish.

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner (Don’t make a face. It’s already the end of September. 2017 is going to be here before we know it), I challenge you to start your own happiness jar. Or shoebox. Or kitchen drawer. Wherever you want to store those memories. Just do it!

It’ll be a nice reminder of the moments that truly matter. And also remind you that life is a lot more amazing than we give it credit.

Rejection Doesn’t Mean You Failed

Some of you may feel as though the title of this page is incorrect. How could rejection not equate to failure? Well, not to be rude but some of you people are completely wrong.

Rejection does not mean that you failed. Rejection means that you tried. Rejection means that you took a chance. Rejection means that you stepped out of your comfort zone. Rejection means that you went for something that you wanted. Even if you didn’t get it, the rejection doesn’t negate all the risks you took going for it.

Failure is never taking a chance. Failure is living a life of comfort because you’re afraid of trying anything new. Failure is never allowing yourself to love for fear that you may get your heartbroken. Failure is thinking of everything that could go wrong when an opportunity presents itself so you talk yourself out of it.

But most importantly, failure is allowing rejection to cause you to never take another chance again. To stop it from pursuing your goals and what you really want in life. That’s what real failure looks like.

Rejection and failure are what make life worth living. If you go through life never facing rejection and failure then you probably don’t live life to the fullest. Life is all about making the most of it. Taking chances. Living on the edge. Avoiding all that life has to offer because you want the comfortable route or don’t want to fail is no way to live.

Some of the most successful people in the world have faced rejection. Kerry Washington, Emmy-nominated actress of Scandal, was fired from two previous pilots before things clicked. Oprah Winfrey, yes THAT Oprah Winfrey, was fired from her first TV Job as an anchor. Walt Disney himself was fired from a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Stephen King’s classic Carrie was rejected by 30 different publishers causing him to almost throw in the towel.

Rejection is a part of life. The thing that turns rejection into failure is how you react to it. Here are a few quotes that remind us all that rejection could potentially be the best thing to ever happen to us.

  1. “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward….You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney
  2. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
  3. “Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” – Gena Showalter
  4. “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres
  5. “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” – Chris Bradford
  6. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
  7. “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
  8. “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
  9. “I think you have to try and fail, because failure gets you closer to what you’re good at.” – Louis C.K.
  10. “I don’t understand a way to work other than bold-facedly running towards failure.” – Cate Blanchett

I wrote this post with a special person in mind. A person who took a huge chance and while it didn’t work out needs to be reminded that great things are sill to come!