on: life and death

As a kid, I didn’t really get death. I mean, I knew it eventually would happen to everybody but I didn’t really have any deaths close to me for a long time. One grandfather passed away long before I was born and the other when I was too young to understand. As I’ve gotten older it’s become more and more of a relate-able issue for me, and that kind of makes me really miss being a kid.

Every year, I feel like I have more dates to reflect back on another life lost and it’s not getting any easier to deal with. Yesterday I got a phone call that I didn’t expect and these past twenty-four hours have been kind of rough. One of my best friend’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over a year ago. She beat the cancer but after having to have several surgeries while her body was weakened caused other complications. After some ups and downs, things started to look increasingly more promising until yesterday. Things suddenly took a terrible turn and it became a matter of just trying to keep her comfortable.

I was incredibly upset, but it really hit me the hardest when my friend said through her tears “she was supposed to be there to see me audition for Cirque, to go to my wedding and to see my kids-her grandkids…” Being at the place that I am in my life where I’m discussing my future plans and I’ve become very aware of my parents age, it can be a little scary to think about the things that can happen. I know that I can’t control some things, but I do know that it really makes me appreciate all the time that I have already have and know that I will have with my parents.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

kari
We have all seen the lists of things that people wish they would have told themselves when they were 18 or even in college. But I haven’t seen, not saying there isn’t, a list of things to expect when you hit your 20s and become a big kid. So, I’ll give you mine. Also, please add. The more we can prepare others not to make our mistakes, the better.
20 Things I Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda Done Differently:

  1. Credit cards are the devil. Save yourself the heartache, high interest rates, and lord knows what else comes with it. No, you don’t need that shirt from Forever 21 that bad.
  2. Only spend half of your paychecks and put half in savings (if you are able). You’re close to 30 year old self will thank you. Houses are more expensive than what they charge in Monopoly.
  3. Don’t throw anything away. Be smart. Take your clothes to a Plato’s Closet (they pay you for your old stuff) and if they won’t take it, donate. There is someone in the world that would love to wear that Abercrombie hoodie.
  4. Don’t buy new. Part of making your home your own is putting your trademark style on it. Upcycle and refurbish older items like dresser, tables and chairs. Buying new furniture can add up pretty quickly (i.e.: credit cards).
  5. If you do need to splurge make sure it’s for the right things. You do not need ANOTHER pair of Ugg boots but spending money on newer, reliable automobile is worth it.
  6. Make the effort to stay in touch with friends. It doesn’t kill you to text, tweet, or FB them. Let’s be serious, you are probably farming right now.
  7. Read. Whether it’s a newspaper or HP, you will thank yourself later. You can also join a book club. Go ahead, get your nerd on.
  8. Make time for you. (i.e.: reading) It’s important you for and the others around you. Consider it your good deed for the week if you must.
  9. Be healthy. This does not being a size 0 or 27 or whatever you may think healthy is. Make time to exercise. No gym membership? I am sure there is a street that you can walk up, down and around. Here are a few great suggestions to do on your own. No membership required.
  10. Family. Love or hate them, they’re yours. Be honest with them about you are feeling and what you want for yourself. They can either get on the train or get the heck outta the way.
  11. Try something new. Sunday Brunch. Cooking class. Dance lessons. Take a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, whoever and just go. You will thank yourself later. If you look idiots, take pictures. You’re welcome.
  12. Spend the extra money on healthy foods vs going out to eat. Poptarts and Lean Cuisines are good in a pinch but you shouldn’t need a microwave for the majority of your meals.
  13. Cut back on the boxed hair dye. Trust me.
  14. See your doctors (dentist, ob/gyn, PCP, etc…) on a regular basis. Your health is what’s going to take you to your “real life 80something”.
  15. Sunscreen. SPF 30 or more.
  16. Buy your tan if you need to. Spray tans aren’t a thing of the past, just don’t wear white to leave your appointment.
  17. Be professional on your professional social networking sites. Duck faces ARE a thing of the past. Leave them there or on your personal social networks. Quack.
  18. Be involved with work projects. No, you may not be getting paid extra to be on another team but you are bulking your resume for free. Win-win.
  19. Make the effort to look nice. No this doesn’t mean you need to paint your face but red lipstick. Yes.
  20. Smile. It’s the first thing someone notices about you. Plus, it makes you happy.

I’m so tired

Dan B.

“I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink. I’m so tired, my mind is on the blink,” sings John Lennon in the timeless Beatles song “I’m So Tired”. I’m sure many of us have experienced the same thing for one reason or another.

Even as I sit here and write this, I find myself looking forward to my next slumber. When I worked upwards of 65-70 hours a week, people would constantly ask me when I had time to sleep. “I can sleep when I’m dead,” I would jokingly admit. What I didn’t realize is that without the right amount of sleep, that would happen sooner rather than later.

As time passes by, the desire to stay up late every night is slowly dwindling. I’d much rather know that I’m well rested and can enjoy my entire day, than stay up until 2am playing video games. This also makes sure that I’m as productive as possible every day, which is becoming more important.

Different studies have suggested that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night to fully capitalize on a sleep cycle. The studies also say that ultimately you know your own body, and should make your own decisions. If you’re anything like me, I know I am not exactly a bundle of sunshine when I get less sleep than that.

Besides feeling rejuvenated, there are a few other negative effects of depriving yourself of sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to cases of obesity, because your body will have an increased appetite from not getting its necessary rest. In conjunction with that, sleep deprivation has been linked to cases of diabetes and certain heart problems, as well as psychiatric conditions like depression. Motor skills could decline, and if you find yourself behind the wheel of a car you could actually be more dangerous than a drunk driver.

As a twentysomething you are at a pivotal part of your life. By becoming more rested, you then have the energy to achieve more in every aspect of life. You’ll feel yourself becoming less of a Debbie Downer and more of a person people want to be around. The air will smell crisper, the day will seem warmer, and your mind will be fresh to tackle everything you need to do. Make a positive impression on those around you both at home and work, and the possibilities will soon become endless.

Introducing Michael L.!

I’d like to welcome our first ever reader turned writer!  Michael L is joining our team to share his story.  Make sure you check out his personal blog as well!

  1. Name: Michael L.
  2. City/State: San Diego, California
  3. Age: 23
  4. College Attended/Degree: Princeton University, BA in Economics
  5. Life Career Goal: To work for a professional sports team or to work for my alma mater
  6. What you thought 20’s would be like in high school: I was thinking mostly about my upcoming 4 years in college and what that experience was going to be like. I didn’t think much about what my 20s would be like after college, but I would say that my expectations were high.
  7. What you thought 25+ would be like in college: I envisioned that I would be settled into all aspects of life by the time 25 came around. Perhaps I would be in a different city, working for a larger company (maybe making my way up in the sports industry?), living in my own place, and being the proud owner of a puppy. I still think that vision is attainable by that time, but I certainly realize that anything can happen!
  8. What are some issues you’re running into right now being in your 20’s: I am not someone who in ANY way, shape, or form expects to “have it all” or even come close to that, but with me, it’s always a struggle between one aspect of my life being GREAT and everything else being completely miserable. For the most part, my career has been the best thing going for me, while my personal life, particularly relationships, have struggled. I need to figure out this whole “work-life balance” thing, before I completely turn into Liz Lemon.
  9. How do you feel about being your age? I feel like 23 is one of the more exciting ages of your twenties; only 1 year out of college and only 1 year into the real world. Plenty of good college memories linger in the back of your head but there’s still so much to learn and experience. As for me, I’m just enjoying every moment of 2014 and am excited for what life throws at me next!
  10. Are you happy with your progress in life? Yes, without a doubt! I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot, and I’m proud of that, but more importantly I’ve seen some cool places and made the greatest of friends. Of course, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but everything that’s happened in my 23 years thus far, good and bad, has made me a better person. No regrets!
  11. What are you planning to do to change your situation? I wouldn’t say I’m trying to change my situation. But, there is always something you can improve, so I’m just making sure that I stay patient, disciplined, and open to new possibilities and opportunities.

Stay tuned for Michael’s story!

on: the never ending job hunt

In just a few days, I will have lived in my new apartment, in my new town in my not-exactly-new state and I still don’t have a job. I’ve been able to do a little bit of freelance work and I’ve helped J with a few things at work, but nothing steady. I’m sure anyone can imagine how frustrating this is for me.

After J got the job offer and we decided we were moving, he thought that logically this town would be better than some of the other small towns in the area as far as businesses and proximity to his work go. I do like it here, it’s nice and it’s pretty quiet but the businesses aren’t exactly hiring a lot. There are a lot of small mom and pop type of places that only have a few employees and you would only know if they were hiring if they had a sign in the window.

When I initially started to look for jobs, I saw a few cashier jobs here and there and I thought about applying just to have something…however, I do have a degree and other experience and I had hope that I could find something that was a bit higher paying or more suitable for me than that. Before moving, I emailed several places that had to do with the arts but no one was hiring or had any foreseeable openings in the future. I did apply to a few small store, diners, cafes and a bar (working at a bar was going to be my safety job until I found out that this college town only has one bar and is apparently very selective about hiring) with no luck. I’m pretty sure the lady at one diner thought I was crazy when I handed her my resume.

My latest step has been applying to cashier and pharmacy jobs at the two drug stores in the area. I’m continuing to try to do what I can here and there to make money (landscape sketches, logo designs and helping J with large vinyl applications) and keep my fingers crossed that something will come my way-at this point I would just like to pay my bills.

Job hunting has always been frustrating but I think that this is the most frustrated I’ve ever been and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been in a situation like this.

Oh, that’s when I was supposed to care?

kari

We all come to the point in our lives when we feel like every summer is balled up into weddings and showers and a few good holidays. But, I guess we’re at “that age” where everyone is getting married (guilty) and having babies (not guilty).

However, there are few things to keep in mind while attending a wedding AND when you are planning them (from the invited perspective). I was fortunate enough to plan my wedding on a budget. Fortunate you may ask? Yes. I was able to plan a country-club type wedding, open bar and honeymoon for around $10k. Yes, you can breathe. Through this process and being invited to some other weddings, I have started to pick up on a few things here and there.

If you are invited to a wedding, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t you DARE even contemplate wearing white. This should clearly require no explanation. However, some people are a little dense. White is CLEARLY reserved for the bride and/or groom. This is their day, not yours. Remember that.
  2. Keeping that in mind, don’t dress like you are going to a friggin night club. The feel and design of the invitation (unless otherwise stated) should be able to let you know what is APPROPRIATE, yes APPROPRIATE to wear. You have to keep in mind where the ceremony will be held. If you are attending a religious ceremony, please keep in mind that you are there as a guest of the bride/groom. Honor that. Like I said, you are going to some dark corner of a club to get felt up.
  3. Dress comfortably. Typically churches/reception halls/banquet halls and the like are going to be on the colder side. They plan for a larger amount of people. This includes body heat and the nervousness of those getting married. Be smart, bring a sweater.
  4. Do not look like a clown. C’mon ladies we all know the Make-Up 101. Easy on the lids, neutral on the lips. Unless this is a themed or explicitly stated, don’t walk in looking like you just made out with Ronald McDonald.

These are not intended to single the ladies out. Guys, this goes for you too! Take these and remember them. Remind your +1′s if you have them for these things. They are a reflection of you.

Now, everyone’s wedding is going to be different. There are different family traditions, religious customs, different ceremonies and honestly the list can go on and on and on and on and on an…well you get the idea. So, I won’t be getting toospecific with my suggestions. These are more like FYI’s to remember.

  1. Adhere to your RSVP. Do not reach out to anyone prior. It’s not very respectful and come across kinda tacky. No one wants that stigma to begin with this. Keep this in mind for bridal shower (if you are having one and involved) and for your wedding invites. There could numerous things that could be holding someone up. They could be securing travel plans, babysitters, etc. Remember that they are trying to make this work for you.
  2. After the RSVP date, you can start to bother UNLESS it’s a Sunday when you don’t get the mail. We all know how reliable and wonderful the USPS is.
  3. Make sure you arm your invited guests with enough information. You will thank yourself later for this. Make sure to include directions, accommodation cards and your RSVP card with a stamped return envelope (I did post cards but they already had stamps on them!). Directions-self explanatory and these are life savers for out of town guests. Accommodation cards are the same thing. This makes it a little easier (and sometimes cheaper!) for guests to have a place to stay the night of your wedding. Also, some hotels will have a shuttle service for anyone that needs a ride back from the reception venue and/or the airport. This may be an additional charge but no one is drinking and driving or spending money for a cab/rental car. RSVP cards should include a space for a yes/no attendance, the number of guests per that invite and dinner choices. If you are having a buffet style dinner, it’s nice to just let the guests know so they can prepare (some might have food allergies, diet restrictions, etc).
  4. NEVER and I mean NEVER include your registry card in your invites. It makes it seem that you are desperate for gifts. If you you want to slide some information in, you can just include your website. So many wedding websites are totally free, promise. Most people will be offended and then end up giving you a not so nice gift, if anything at all.
  5. Make sure to send thank you cards. No one expects you to send them the day after your wedding so you get at least a week off. Most people think that you will on your honeymoon so you won’t have to worry about. But, don’t wait three months to send them out. It’s rude and greedy. Just send thank you cards.

These are just some general tid-bits and nothing uber specific. These are aren’t etiquette rules. These are just more of general, decency guidelines.

You’re just like your mother.

Jessica M

It’s an insult so often uttered on TV in movies that I spent a good deal of my childhood growing up dreading the idea of possibly turning into my mother (the constant reoccurring nagging wife character that is ever present on television and in movies). In no way, shape, or form would I EVER let that happen. She’s a crazy old bird that has no idea what it’s like to be me!!!  Sound familiar?

My mom was a blonde, so I dyed my hair black.  She played softball, I played soccer.  She didn’t think I needed a cellphone in high school, so I got a job and got one on my own.  She wanted me to pursue a degree in math or science, I took a liberal arts track.  She started her family at 22, I swore off kids for as long as possible.  On and on, I did every thing I could to distance myself from her.

But why?

At 27, I see more of my mother in me than I ever thought I would and as it turns out, she’s a pretty rad lady.  She’s funny, she’s fit, and she’s so smart.  We like the same movies, the same books, the same food (total sugar addicts).  She’s been there to listen to me mope around about boys from the ages of 13-25, and I now see myself doing the same thing with my student workers.  She took a week off of work and bought the box set of Roots on DVD to stay home and watch with me while I recovered from a breast reduction surgery (which she then also had a few years later).  When I was a kid I remember her leaving every Tuesday night to get together with “the girls,” a ritual she still keeps up to this day (and something I desperately wish I could arrange with my girlfriends, maybe if we’re ever back in the same area code again).  Shortly after I moved home after college I was watching TV with my dad waiting for my mom to get home from work when the phone rings – she just hit the jackpot on slot machines in the local casino and wanted us to ride up and celebrate with her (and was actually out of work over an hour ago ha). She rides on the back of my dad’s motorcycle (Sturgis bike week is to them what music festivals are to me) and was fully supportive when I made the insane, impulsive, and ridiculous decision to get a motorcycle of my own.  Between the two of us, we could easily set a world record for clumsiness, there is no step too small to trip over and no glass too sturdy to break (my last apartment had paint stains on the door frame from when she kicked a paint can over by mistake 20 years ago).  She goes to so many events downtown, I actually find myself jealous of her social life sometimes.  A twentysomething, jealous of her mother’s social life!  She and my dad have been role models for a healthy relationship (high school sweethearts happily married for 28 – or so – years), not many people can say that.

Most importantly, through thick and thin, no matter how defiant I became, my mother always been the most supportive person in my life (even when I took that liberal arts track, and registered as a *gasp* democrat).  When I turned 25, I had a party in my/her back yard (hot dogs, a keg, music, friends) that she and dad came to (I mean, it was in their backyard).  My mom was cracking jokes (her most quoted line of the night, “it’s not my  kind of party if you have to wear shoes!) and the girls loved her.  The next day, and for a while afterwards, I was bombarded with people telling me how cool my mom was and how similar the two of us are (my dad is pretty cool too, he cruises around town on a Harley for crying out loud – but this isn’t a post about dads).  Just a week ago I told a coworker that I am in need my mother’s daughter, if he met my parents it would be clear that I am their daughter..  It turns out being just like my mother, isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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Class of 2014 – lend me your ears

Jessica M

In honor of all the recent grads (I have college students in mind, but high school students could probably benefit from some wisdom as well), I have compiled a list of quick advice – things to keep in mind when adulthood is no longer on the horizon but in fact, right in your face.

- Do not give up.

- Put yourself first, but find time to help others.  Balance is key.

- Money isn’t everything.  Sure it can make life easier at times, and sure you can buy nice things with it (to whoever said money doesn’t buy happiness – have you ever ridden a jet ski in the Bahamas?).  But things are just things, they won’t last forever.

- Do not eat big meals before interviews/meetings/seminars etc.

- You WILL find the right partner.  It might take a long ass time, but he/she is out there.

- Do not settle.

- Okay, maybe settle with your first job out of college, but do not give up (see above).  I spent a year of steadily applying at jobs in my field (library science) before I even had my first interview.  Meanwhile, I worked in a grocery store.  Guess what?  I landed that interview because of my grocery store experience.

- Do not avoid chances for skinny dipping, dancing like a maniac, going on dates, singing

photo via NBC / mitchellkristen.tumblr.com

photo via NBC / mitchellkristen.tumblr.com

karaoke loud and off key, any chance to show off – because of the way you look.  When you’re old and reflecting back on your life, you don’t want to regret missing out on fun memories because you were too self conscious.  Just have fun!  No one minds!

- Set goals, and do what you want to do.  Do you long to have a busy and fulfilling career?  Go for it.  Take those promotions, they’re waiting for you.  Do you aspire to be a mother?  Just because it’s unpaid doesn’t make this just as fulfilling of a career.  There is no standard for a fulfilling life – but you’ve only got one, do what makes you happy.

- The universe is confusing, but things do (weirdly) work out.

Hopefully at least one thing on this list resonates with you.  And while I’m at it, let’s add another one:

- Forget what I said about adulthood being in your face, we are the generation of adulthood beginning at 30

RL20S is Turning One Year Old!!!

ashley

July marks the one year anniversary for RealLifeTwentySomething. One year ago I watched my younger sister graduate highschool. I left so disappointed in the future generation that I knew I had to say something.

There are over 100 people who have loved what our writers have had to say that they’ve signed up to follow us. It really makes me proud to see so many people relate to what this blog is about. I thank you for such great support and following each of our writer’s journeys. I truly hope that each post touches someone somewhere out there and helps them deal with their own age related struggles. We all are going through some tough stuff but we’re strong and we’re here to talk about it.

If you’ve been following us for some time or just found us today, you’re more than welcome to become a part of the team. We’re always looking for more writers to share their individual story. Email us at reallifetwentysomething@gmail.com, we’d love to hear all about your life.

Youth – no longer for me.

Jessica M

We hear people all the time talking about their lost youth, how to look and feel younger, and what they wouldn’t give to be young again.  I have to admit, I’ve had some of those same thoughts (I found my first gray hair in my bangs recently).  Youth is wasted on the youth, right?  But if you ever take a moment to reflect on what being a teenager is like now, I think you’ll be surprised – and take a new appreciation for your age.  Here are a few reasons why being young today really isn’t all that desirable.

Social networking.  Puberty was hard enough as it was, but going through puberty on the internet seem unimaginable.  It’s commonplace now for teens to share their every thought and where they’ve been and what they’re doing and pictures of how they look constantly.  Then they’re open to critiques and comments from all over the place (in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, cyber-bulling is a HUGE problem with teens, anonymity bring out  .  They’re all doing it, it’s normal.  I had a hard enough time confiding my thoughts with my closest friends.  And there were a lot of days when I had a hard time even leaving my room.  I am so thankful that social networking was just starting out as I was leaving high school, I can’t imagine the kind of trouble I’d get myself in.  Also, I’m SO glad that my Facebook pictures only go back to the beginning of college.  Facebook info stays on the internet forever, and I don’t want any picture of 9th grade me, a face full of acne and a mouth full of braces floating around anywhere out of my control.

Smartphones.   Read above except include an option for nude selfies.  Again, I was a very trusting person as a teen(until I learned better).  Again, I can’t imagine the kind of trouble I could have gotten myself into.  Sure camera phones were around, but nothing like today.

Prom proposals. Or maybe it’s promposals.  Either way, teenagers are starting to make an extravagant event out of asking each other to prom.  When I was in high school, there were always rumors or dreamy fantasies about leaving school for the day and seeing my dream boat waiting outside with a fancy car and big bouquet of flowers ready to ask me to prom or getting a pizza delivered that had a nice message on it.  But I never actually knew of anything like this really happening.  Now a day, it’s expected of teens to pull out all the stops and make asking their date to the prom an event in its own.  No more awkward phone calls or meeting in the hallway when you’re both nervous and stumbling over your words.  Now, teens are planning elaborate (and sometimes expensive) events and surprises to ask his or her date to the prom.  Talk about pressure, I can’t even get my boyfriend to surprise me with pizza toppings (but I guess being in charge all the time has it’s benefits).

I’ll keep my gray hairs, slowing metabolism, and stiff back.  You youngsters can have all that hassle, good luck and god speed ;)