My Attempt at Adulting Post-Grad

So it’s been 4 months since I’ve graduated college. I feel like less of an adult than I was then. Or at least less of a struggling adult since I was constantly working my ass off with very little sleep but had the security of relying on dangerously high student loans that I am now faced with paying off. I did not have to worry about qualifying for an apartment or being able to pay rent on time. Having to earn your own bread does something to a person.

It’s not that I was a lazy kid before. I used to kill myself working two jobs, going to school full time, doing intense research, studying, going to the gym, and trying to get into graduate school. My days started at 5:30am, and sometimes I didn’t get home from work until 1 am. I burnt myself out. I had no balance in my life, and I always whined about it, which surely annoyed my friends whom I rarely saw. But I was “successful,” even though I never felt that I was, and I never felt smart. I was a Classics major who graduated in 3.5 years with a 3.93 overall GPA, 4.0 major GPA, and 4 honor societies. I studied at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, and I was accepted into the American Academy for Classical Studies in Athens which was a program normally for graduate students and professors. Everything was set. I was going to graduate early, apply to PhD programs, and ship myself somewhere across the country to spend the rest of my 20s studying and continuing to kill myself over what I apparently “loved.”

But during the summer before my final semester, I choked. I was sitting in a cafe trying to come up with a research topic for one of my two senior seminars for that upcoming semester. All of a sudden I started crying in the middle of the cafe. That happens a lot by the way. I’m a crier. No shame (okay yes shame, and I am terrified of it). I thought I sucked at research, and I was tired of driving myself crazy over something I wasn’t even sure if I loved. I still don’t know exactly why or how I ended up on the path to becoming a Classics Professor. It just kind of felt like it was calling me. But I have some deep insecurity issues I need to fix before I can handle 6-8 years of a PhD program which I don’t think that I’m good enough to deserve or be in.

So then I decided to become a Professional Ballroom and Latin Dance instructor instead… I know. From Classical Studies to Ballroom dance is quite a big leap. But dancing has been a passion of mine since I was little. I wanted to be a dance instructor when I was in high school. But then I quit. Went to college. Became involved in the Ballroom dance club at my university, saying I’d never become super committed to dance again. Then started taking private lesson. Then competing. And now I am a Ballroom instructor instead of a grad student. So that’s how that happened.

I received a lot of concerns and condescension from people after that decision. And nobody believes that this is my full time job now, or they think I am just doing this for a year and then going to graduate school. Who knows. Maybe one day I will end up back in school. But if you had to tell me in a year I’d be back in that torturous hell hole, I might be tempted to jab a pen in my eye. I always pretended to be this super ambitious person, and now people think I am crazy for taking the “easy way out” or going for a less ambitious job. I laugh at people who think my job is easy. But they can think and say what they want. I am happier now than I was 4 months ago, and all I care about now is working on my clientele, becoming a better instructor and dancer, finding a place to live and being able to support myself, and also learning how to have a social life and enjoy being 22. And if you think those aren’t noble goals then fuck you. I don’t know where I am going to be in 5 to 10 years. A year ago I could tell you that, but now I know deciding or predicting where your life will end up in 5 to 10 years is bullshit. Things change so much in a year, hell even in a day, so why the fuck are you trying to predict 10 years from now? I am focusing on being better and happier now. Because I’ve whined about being miserable most of my life. So I am changing what I am not happy with and trying to make a better life for myself.

That, my friends, is fucking adulting.

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5 Ways to Rebuild Yourself After Getting Knocked Down

Life can be a bitch sometimes. We cannot control everything that goes on around us or what life throws at us. All we can control is how we react and respond to life.

I just got my heart broken, which can be a devastating feeling, not only because it is a loss but it can destroy our self esteem, self-love, hope and trust. It can make us miss someone but also make us feel worthless. You might seem fine when you’re around friends but as soon as you get in your car or are alone for an extended period of time you get drowned in your thoughts. All the things that remind you of him. All the things you still wanted to do with him. All the memories with him. All the reasons why no one will ever be like him. And if you’re like me you start to self criticize yourself. All the reasons you were not good enough. Or maybe I will never find someone to love.

I will say now that I am 22 and have some life experience, I am handling this heart break a little bit better. I’ve always been a very negative, self-critical person. But this is the year I’ve decided to actively try to change the things I don’t like in my life rather than cry about them. Although, let’s be real… it’s going to take time to heal before I stop crying on my morning commute. But that’s just the process of healing that must take time.

But it doesn’t have to be a heart break. It can be any loss, any pain, any of life’s curve balls. There are things we can do to stay positive and try to most efficiently move on from the situation in the healthiest way (i.e. this does not include drinking excessive amounts of that bedside bottle of Evan Williams… put it down… it’ll be alright.)

Here are some of the ways I try to stay strong:

  1. Keep yourself busy. Don’t lock yourself in your room with your thoughts. Also you cannot hide away from the rest of life. You still have to adult and go to work and get your laundry done and go grocery shopping and eat. Doing all these little tasks will also make you feel like you have your life together when it feels like it’s falling apart. Knowing you can still take care of yourself when you’re feeling weak can make you feel a bit empowered and stronger.
  2. Find a new/old hobby. You might have some more time in your schedule if you just broke up with someone. Fill that time with things that you love. I have not picked up my DSLR in years, and I just moved to a gorgeous city. So I’ll probably go exploring in the city with my camera. Maybe meet some cool new people. Or pick up something new. It will keep your mind busy while also making you happy with something that you have passion. Bake some cupcakes. Go on meetup.com and find something you like to do. Go out dancing! Find or rekindles passions!
  3. Fill your space with positive and loving people. Spend more times with your friends and family. Reach out to people. Don’t be afraid to even say, “hey, I am going through some stuff, and it would really help to go out and have fun with some friends.” Laugh. Enjoy life. Remind yourself of all the wonderful people in the world who do care about you. Yes there are people who care about you!
  4. Do a random act of kindness. Putting a smile on someone else’s face will inevitably put a smile on your face. It’s inevitable. Smiles are contagious. It sometimes can be hard to positive when you’re feeling down. Especially at work. But if you walk into work and give a compliment to one of your colleagues it will immediately brighten up the room, and you will have created a positive environment for you to be in. Rather than walking into a office full of grumpy people when it’s Monday morning.
  5. Be ambitious. Be driven. Have goals. Go make those dreams a reality. Be a beast. Go for that new job or promotion. Make a list of things you want to achieve. For me, after getting heart broken, it actually motivated me work harder towards getting certified as an instructor. Certifying out of my bronze dance syllabus in all 12 American dances is a daunting task. I’ve decided to go for the whole thing at once rather than split it up. My goal is by the end of 2017. But by giving myself this new goal, this new career ambition, it has given me more purpose to my work, and something to make me feel good about myself. Knowing that I am still growing as a person and actively trying to become a better instructor. Like graduating from college (which I’m walking this Saturday by the way!), it will give you a sense of meaning and accomplishment that will make you proud and confident in yourself without depending on another to give you happiness. It will make you feel strong and independent and confident. So go out there and reach those goals. Don’t sit around just letting life pass you by.

It is going to take time to heal from whatever it is you’re going through. But if you’d like to heal a bit faster, make the process a little bit easier, and come out a new and improved version of yourself, then try to follow these things. And just remember: it’ll all be alright.

10 Ways to crawl out from under that rock you’ve been living under for 22 years and make new friends…

I’ve always complained about my social life and not having enough friends. I guess I’ve always had friends, but I was never the person who got invited to things a lot. I was very reserved, kept to myself, studied a lot on Saturday evenings. In high school, I had a couple friends who would get me invited to things or force me to go out. Bless them for that. But I was very needy and attached to those friends. I get disappointed easily when a friend flakes on me, even though I understand.

Yet despite not going out and having fun often, I’ve always kept myself busy. In high school I woke up at 4am everyday. Breakfast, homework, and studying until it was time to leave for school at 7:30. Got back from school around 4pm (I went to school in the city, so had a bit of a commute). Then showered, got dressed for dance. Got home from dance around 9:30pm. Then immediately bedtime. (If you’re wondering when I ate dinner, I usually didn’t. Again, not the most healthy lifestyle.)

In college, same thing. I worked and took overloaded credits almost every semester. My last semester I had 2 senior seminars (which entailed large research papers, one of which was 35 pages not including bibliography and notes), 2 jobs, and still found time to workout 5-6 days a week. Yet I never went out on Saturday nights.

December of 2016 I graduated college. For the first time since I was 5 I was no longer in school. Even during the summers I studied, read Latin and Greek, and prepped for the upcoming semester. Now I am working a full-time job, but I don’t have homework and I’m off most weekends and mornings. So what to do with all this free time?

Well I’m 22, living in Richmond, and I have barely been to any of the amazing bars/clubs in this amazing city. I went to the Tobacco Company Club for the first time on my 22nd birthday this year because a friend took me there. That was my first club experience. In my defense, I haven’t been legally able to drink for that long, but you would think in my first year of being legal I’d at least go to one club. (I did however take full advantage of going to the ABC store whenever I could.)

But even more than going to bars, I feel like I am in an awkward position in my life where I moved back to a city where all my old friends no longer live, and it feels brand new to me. So how exactly does a young 20-something make friends in a new city. And mind you, I don’t go to a school anymore, and I am the only employee of the small company I work for which is in a different city.

Well, this is my game plan for starting a new chapter in my life. One where I don’t make the excuse “I’m an introvert,” or “I have too much work/research/studying to do.”

  1. Move out of my parents house and into the city. Not to say you have to live in a city to make friends, but there are a lot more people and things to do. You definitely need to move out of your parents house and begin the adventure of adulting. Also it’s nice to have your own place to call home and be able to have people over to entertain. At least I never would want to bring people over to my parents house to hang out. Also if you want to have a sex life, then that’s just weird. Also, guys, this is my new apartment!!! :O
  2. Stop making excuses for why you don’t have many friends. Literally write  a list of all the things about yourself you think are cool and realize that people would be lucky to have you as a friend. If you’re worrying about why people don’t like you then that will show, and it will push people away. Confidence is the most attractive characteristic one can have. I have been in many situations where my social anxiety kicked in and I shut down and no one talked to me. Why? Because I shut down. I know it’s hard. For someone who has anxiety, it’s hard. But give yourself a pep talk, let go, and have fun!
  3. Go to the gym. Or do something active. It’s a great place to meet people. I usually go to the gym and get into my own zone, so I don’t socialize that much. But I did make friends with a trainer who is still one of my best friends today. You can also join fitness communities/clubs/classes. But I can’t stand to work out in a group, because I like doing my own thing and being a beast in my own zone, but I will admit it’s a great way to meet new people. Gym selfie from this morning: (love lululemon pants)IMG_1876
  4. Go out dancing. Salsa dancing or club dancing. As a woman it can feel scary doing these things on your own. I personally have always felt comfortable and confident going out salsa dancing on my own. It’s a different kind of community, not a bunch of drunk people trying to get laid. Although there are probably still plenty of people there trying to get some. But the scene tends to be less drunker since a lot of people there are just looking to dance, have one or two drinks, and have a good time. You can use meetup.com to find some cool places to dance in your community. You can also go to a dance studio. Many of them have social dance parties where beginners are welcome, and there is a group class and then a couple hours of open dancing. My studio does ours on Friday nights and it’s 3 hours long and $10/person, but it can vary depending on where you live.
  5. Go to a coffee shop. This is probably the number one place anyone can go by themselves and not feel weird for going by themselves. Bring a book or a newspaper. Pop a squat. And don’t be afraid to start up a conversation with someone new or even the barista! Try going to a cool local joint rather than a starbucks.
  6. Go to a bar. Just don’t get shitfaced drunk. I like to drink beer rather than whiskey if I go out on my own, because less alcohol, more volume, and also it’s nice being known as the chick who can appreciate good beer. Although sometimes I will get a glass of Basil Hayden’s or Woodford neat if I am feeling it that night. Gotta love the beer and whiskey chicks. This can be a little daunting because it’s not really normal to bring a book to a bar. Don’t be on your phone the entire time. Try striking up a conversation with the bartender first, and then introduce yourself to someone at the bar. It’s only weird if you make it weird. If you are confident in what you are doing then people will be blown away by that strong confident person who doesn’t care about going to a bar alone. It’s been a long week. You deserve it. Treat yourself.
  7. Hit up old friends.  Don’t feel weird. The worst they can say is no.
  8. Online. Bumble has a BFF option, and I know it sounds weird but some of my current guy friends are guys I met on dating sites. Be cautious. But good can come out of these devilish online dating apps.
  9. Go out and explore your city. Take up an old hobby, like photography. Walk around your city and randomly meet people. Compliment someone on their hair. One day I was walking down the street and was having a shitty day, and this girl yelled “I love your hair” from across the street. Made my day.
  10. Go to events/festivals/concerts/meetups. Google, my friend. Google shit to do in your area, and go do them. Go to a food or drink festival. Use meetup.com to find things that interest you and then meet people there who are also interested in those things.

Just put yourself out there, because if you don’t then you will never meet anyone and will continue to complain and whine about your life. I’m done complaining. Time to start doing. Nobody is going to magically invite you everywhere and create a social life for you. You have to work on your social life and your relationships with other people. Just like in a romantic relationship. YOU HAVE TO PUT IN WORK. So get to it.

New Exciting Life Milestones: Trying on My First Custom Latin Dress and Packing for my First Apartment

So, as a professional Ballroom and Latin Dance Instructor, I must look the part. Now dance dresses can cost an arm and a leg. Doré dresses cost around $5,000. I paid more for this custom dress than I did for my first car. Granted: I bought my car for dirt cheap on craigslist, but I love her, and I wouldn’t have any other car.

Oh, quick digression. If you haven’t met my baby before. This is my 2001 Pontiac Grand Am. She’s my first car, and I love her and hope to keep her for a very long time. We’ve been through a lot together. She also has a subwoofer for awesome bass jams for my commute.

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And yes, the ikea bed is still in my car…

But back to the dress. People always ask me why ballroom dresses are so damn expensive. Well… let me tell you. Because they have to have thousands of stones which have to be individually hand glued. It is also custom designed to your taste and body. After 2 months of back and forth and changing the design several times, here is the final product:

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Royal blue, two piece design, with royal blue stones and a drape. I love the longer skirt for Latin with the high slit. Typically rhythm/Latin dresses are shorter, but I love this look and still gives me full mobility. It was not what I expected or originally wanted, but I love it nonetheless. I cannot wait to actually be able to wear this dress. Maybe one day I’ll be competing professionally in it. Maybe. Hopefully. Maybe. Need to focus on becoming a better instructor first before I even think about competing professionally. Also have a lot of growth to do. So that is definitely not something I will be rushing into.

Other exciting milestone in my life: I move into my first apartment tomorrow! Riverfront. Hardwood floors. Spacious living room and bedroom. Riverfront. Tiny kitchen but I’ll survive because it’s riverfront.

I spent all of Easter Sunday locked in my room packing up my life and sorting things that need to be donated. I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years, and it feels so refreshing to get rid of some of it. There’s something freeing about cleaning out your life and getting rid of the unnecessary. It clears the mind and also satisfies my OCD-neat freak ass. I cannot wait to move into a completely new clean space with just the things that I love and need. Yet I still have a lot of stuff:

Now it’s the night before, and everything is packed, triple taped, and ready to go. I have an amazing friend who is helping me in the morning. I’m going to buy us panera bagels and coffee in the morning.

Guys, this is my last night in my parents house. I cannot wait to have a place to call my home. It’s been a long journey, and I still cannot believe tomorrow is the day. I was unhappy at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017. Someone inspired me to take control of what I don’t like in my life and change it. So I made it happen. And that makes me so extremely happy to know that I took control of my life and created happiness for myself. It was an extremely frustrating process, as are most processes in life, but I am so extremely happy with the outcome. Tomorrow is a new chapter in my life.

…Unfortunately that chapter also includes paying bills, but at least I will have the self fulfillment of adulting.

Ikea Haul! Or an adventure in trying to fit a Queen bed into a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am.

Pro tip. If you intend to buy a bed at ikea (which is an hour and a half away from my house), and many of your friends have offered their truck and manpower, take advantage of it. But I being stubborn and an independent woman stupidly went to ikea with my roommate (separate cars luckily), and forgot that I drive a tiny sedan with a tiny trunk. Oh and there’s also a subwoofer that takes up a good quarter of the trunk. But we made it work.

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We accidentally unhooked the subwoofer, which means I had to drive home with bass-less jams. Sad day.

But this is what my new bed will look like once it’s all put together:

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But the bedding will look like:

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We also bought a new coffee table, a wooden mail thingie for the wall, and we scored a $150 17-piece knife set for only $80. In addition we scored a bunch of little things on sale like glassware, wine glasses, flatware, all on sale. Still need to buy a couch and an area rug.

Still need to figure out something to go on the wall above my bed since I am not getting a headboard. I might do a collage of my favorite photos and then put lights around it. Or maybe I’ll buy a picture or a tapestry. If you have any (cheap) ideas for filling a space above a bed, comment below.

It’s two days later, and the bed is still in my car, because no one at home will help me take it out. It might just stay in there until next Friday…

This is the canvas I am making to go above the mini bar. It’s metallic silver paint lettering and it will have a black background:

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But anyways. After all that rambling. Here is an apartment list I have made if anyone else is moving into their first apartment.

Kitchen:

  • Pots and pans set
  • Flatware
  • Dinnerware
  • Glassware
  • Cooking utensils
  • Food scale
  • Silverware holder
  • Fruit and veggie basket
  • Baking dishes (Cookie sheets, cupcake pans, cake pans, etc.)
  • Canisters for flour, sugar, etc.
  • Knife set
  • Tupperware
  • Coffee stuff (french press, espresso moka pot, tea kettle)
  • Toaster
  • Waffle maker
  • Mixer
  • Instant pot/crock pot
  • Mixing bowls
  • Dish drying rack
  • Dish towels
  • Cutting board
  • Colander

Living Room/Dining Room (we just have one open large space)

  • Futon/couch
  • Coffee table
  • Area rug
  • Side tables
  • Mini bar
  • Bookshelves
  • Games
  • Throw pillows
  • Curtains
  • Wall mail holder
  • Orb chair
  • Throw blankets
  • Wall decor
  • Dining table and chairs

Bedroom:

  • Bed
  • Mattress
  • Sheets
  • Bedding set
  • Floor mirror
  • Dresser
  • Night stand/side table
  • Decorative lights
  • Floor lamp
  • Wall decor (Have some things, might buy something new after I move in)

Bathroom

  • Shower curtain, liner, rings
  • Extra storage shelves
  • Towels
  • Bathmat
  • Toilet seat cover
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Soap dispenser
  • Plunger and toilet bowl cleaner

Misc

  • Trashcans
  • Broom
  • No vacuum needed because all hardwood! My mom is giving us a hardwood floor cleaner
  • Cleaning supplies
  • We will probably think of 5 billion more things once we move in.

I got my first apartment!!!

I feel like such an adult. This is scary but so exciting. All hardwood floors. Spacious floorplan. Riverfront. Close to the city center, but far enough to still get some peace and quiet and nature.

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View of the train and downtown

I can’t wait to have friends and family over. To cook homemade pasta. And make cocktails for with my bookshelf-makeshift-mini bar. I cannot wait to come home from a stressful day at work to a nice peaceful home that feels like my own. It won’t feel like I am living in someone else’s space.

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I have a few weeks before we move in, but I cannot wait to go shopping this weekend with my roommate for a new couch, a new bed, kitchen stuff, decor, etc. We are going to fill this gorgeous space and make it our home.

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The kitchen is small, but we will make it work. Love the cabinets!

This all feels unreal. I’ve been spending the last month hopeless struggling to find a roommate and place to live. Disappointment after disappointment. I thought it’d never happen or I’d have to settle for renting a room in someone’s random ass apartment. But no. I persevered. I found an amazing roommate, and we found the perfect apartment.

I have a full time job that I love. A car that I love and runs well. And now I have my very first apartment. Finally feels like I am getting this adulting thing.

Apartment Hunting in a (sort of) New City

I. hate. apartment. hunting.

Okay I do love it. And this is a very exciting moment in my life. Also terrifying. My favorite childhood memory is now not paying bills. But it is also a great feeling to be able to support yourself.

So I graduated in December. My plans for post grad changed probably 14ish times. I originally was supposed to be moving to the city where I work, but then decided to move back in with my parents in Richmond, VA, although they live out in the county, not Richmond city. I’ve always wanted to move to the city, but my parents hate cities. I’ve always wanted to live in the city. I went to high school in Richmond city for four years, and I also lived in downtown Rome for a semester.  I love living in a city and being able to walk places. I commute every day, so I’d really appreciate the chance to get some fresh air and walk to a coffee shop on Sunday mornings. I love RVA, and I want to stay here. There is also some part of me that thinks if I live in the city my social life would be better. I understand improving my social life requires work on my part, but I feel like it would be easier to meet more people my age if I lived in the city near VCU rather than living in the suburbs, where there is no one my age and also nothing to do other than go to the mall…

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North Bank Trail view of Downtown Richmond

So I made my decision. I could no longer take living in my parents house. I said I’d come home from 6 months to a year to save up money… I made it three months…

I would love to live at home and save up even more money, but at the same time I am not happy living at my parents house. I am trying to do this thing where I stop complaining about my life and actively am trying to make changes. So I think I would be happier in a place I could call my own home. A nice quiet, clean space that feels like mine, where I can invite friends over for dinner and drinks. I don’t want to sublet a room out of someone else’s apartment, because then it will feel like I am living in someone else’s space. It may sound like I am being picky or high maintenance, but this is what I want, and I am going to make it happen. And I am so close to that.

My next task was trying to find a roommate. I’ve spent the last month searching online (I know, stranger danger, but sometimes you have to do it when you live in a city where you no longer know people). I met a really cool girl who wants the same things as me, and I think we would be good roommates. But we are now learning that it’s impossible to have everything you want in an apartment unless you are working with unlimited funds, which as early 20-somethings, we obviously aren’t.

So we’ve seen a couple of apartments throughout the city. In all the popular places that we really want to live, obviously the rent is too damn high because everyone wants to live there. So we have to make compromises. We found two that are on the opposite side of the river, but still close to the city center. Bigger square footage and a smaller price tag. We saw one on Monday but it smelled heinously! I’m sorry I cannot live somewhere where I cannot breath.

We are going to see one more today. It’s in a nice neighborhood. Close to the river. Spacious hardwood floors. In our price range. No special amenities, but I don’t need a pool. It’s in a perfect location for both of our commutes. I just really hope there is not something horrible about it that when we walk in we are both like “HAEEELLLLLLL NO!” But the unit we want is available now. So if we like it, WE ARE APPLYING TODAY!

Hopefully. Because I am exhausted from the last month roommate/apartment hunting. I am so ready to move. I’ve already started packing.

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