Handling Rejection with Grace: Jobs, Relationships, and Life

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Hello, World.

It seems only fitting the banner image for this post is a street in New York, a city that can eat people up and spit them out. New York City isn’t for the weak, but it is somewhere many people go with a dream that may or may not come to fruition. At the end of the day, some people will inevitably fail while pursuing the dream they so desperately want. Inevitably, we all fail in some aspect of our lives. We won’t just fail once, either. We will fail multiple times in different aspects of lives. However, how one handles that failure says a lot about their character. On the same vein, some failure results from rejection. The rejection that rears its ugly head at the worst, most earth-shattering times is the most damaging, but rejection in any form, even the insignificant, can impact us.

When we want to succeed so badly it hurts, someone telling us, “no, now is not your time,” stings a bit extra. It’s like getting lemon juice in a papercut. So, how do we handle rejection with grace while also subtly saying, “that won’t deter me, but nice try!” to our nay-sayers? Well, I think the biggest thing we can do is not let people in our heads. Don’t let someone’s comments or “not good enough,” insinuations get to you. You can take constructive feedback, but if the comment is just flat out hurtful and beyond the nature of constructive, it’s perfectly fine to disregard. I was scrolling through Twitter the other morning, as so many law students who aren’t ready to face mergers and acquisitions reading do, and I noticed a thread from the author of The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney that immediately caught my attention and made my thumb lift from the lit-up screen. Her tweet said this:

“When I heard When I heard an agent say a ‘middle-aged woman in a writing class’ was not a client he wanted & I thought I’LL SHOW YOU #misfitsmanifesto”

When I read this, I wondered what had spurred it. There wasn’t anything in particular that preceded this in her feed that indicated it was a response to something. However, following this tweet, there was another:

“So don’t listen to dummies and don’t be discouraged. Just make your manuscript the best you can.”

I liked the sentiment of the tweets because the author is encouraging people to ignore those that say such rude, condescending things, and keep pushing forward. The agent who said this was rejecting D’Aprix Sweeney as an author, belittling her work in the process, but D’Aprix Sweeney, rather than curling up and crying, said, “hm. let me prove you wrong.” She may not have said it to the agent’s face, but she took action to become a successful author whose novel is the topic of book clubs and Goodreads threads around the world. This is, of course, just one example of someone handling rejection well. However, handling rejection isn’t easy…handling it well is even harder.

Rejection is just part of life, unfortunately. Whether we’re working hard in law school to get that big firm job, or on every dating app in search of something, or trying to maintain friendships we can feel are failing, we set ourselves up for someone to tell us “now is not your time,” over and over. However, success is kind of like lightning in a bottle. You’re not always sure what’s going to happen, how you’re going to get X, but once you hit it just right, it’s pure magic. So, we have to put ourselves on the rejection chopping block time and time again to see if this time we’ll hit it just right and find success. Handling rejection with grace isn’t some equation or perfect step-by-step process. If anything, handling rejection with grace is saying, “thank you for your time,” walking away and trying again tomorrow. While someone can say no to you, they can’t rob you of your gumption. So for every “no” uttered, remember you only need one yes to get somewhere.

I grew up in an environment where I was told, “the worst they can say is no,” every time I was hesitant to do something – talk to a romantic interest, apply for a leadership position, go after a job, apply to law schools I knew may not take me, etc. It created a less scary aura around everything I wanted to do – if they said no, bummer but I could move on. If they said yes, well, I got what I wanted! Being fearless but realistic is important in handling rejection. We cannot be so scared of rejection that the fear alone is the biggest roadblock in our lives. We have to keep going, putting ourselves out there, and remember that we will get what we want if we work toward it strategically. If you can’t get X immediately (I know, hard to believe in the instant-gratification world we live in), maybe try getting to X the long way around, by starting with Y, moving to Z, and attacking X tangentially.

I’m not going to tell you rejection gets easier or that you become immune. Rejection is discouraging as hell and by the fifth or so “thanks, but no thanks,” you can feel your ego bruising. However, if we stop putting our name out there and let the few rejections push us so far down they become the end game, we’re letting ourselves down.  So, how do we handle rejection with grace? We say, “I understand,” take the night to drink a glass of wine [or a scotch, neat], take a bubble bath, listen to some James Arthur before getting up in the morning, putting on our big-girl pants and showing the world it cannot shake us.

Truly,
Callie leigh

 

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Why You NEED to Watch The Handmaid’s Tale If You Haven’t Already

Hello, World.

In high school, I had to do a project called an “extended reading.” They were sort of the worst things ever, but alas, I was in AP English and they were required. Extended readings were used to make sure we knew a broad range of literature that we could write about/needed to know about for the AP exam come April. So, each student in my class would choose a book to read and then give a spoiler-ridden presentation on to the class. The presentation was supposed to offer an in-depth summary of the work, themes, motifs, character biographies, etc. Basically, people should felt that they actually read the book by the end of your presentation. I hated public speaking in high school, so I got hives everytime I stood at the front of the room to give my presentation. So, what does this trip down memory lane have to do with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale? Well, my senior year of high school, my AP English teacher recommended I read it and present it to my class.

So, I read the novel. It was one of the first books, besides maybe To Kill A Mockingbird, that I read for class that I loved. Honestly, I loved the way it was written, I found the storyline fascinating, and I just could not put the novel down. I built a reading schedule, but quickly surpassed all of my goals and finished the novel in a matter of days. When Hulu decided to come out with a TV version of the book, I was hesitant. I was scared it wouldn’t live up to my impression of the book and would fail to capture the essence of the Atwood’s words.
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In September, I finally sat down to watch the show. I was hesitant but had been told several times it was amazing. The show also won a ton of Emmys, so I decided maybe it was worth watching. I sat down in bed to watch one episode and was hooked. I ended up watching three in a row. I finished the show within a week but re-watched portions a second time, just as I had re-read portions of the book years before. The show tweaked some aspects of the book, but I felt most tweaks were appropriate and didn’t detract from the overarching message and themes of the book.

Elisabeth Moss did an incredible, incredible job playing Offred/June. Honestly, I think she brought emotion and rawness to the character that was even better than the book. Due to the clinical nature of the world created by Atwood, sometimes emotions didn’t come through as well in written form, but the acting of the Hulu cast was powerful. The subtle emotions, the complete outbursts, the debilitating fear an uneasiness…the cast portrayed that well. I heard someone complain the acting was too mechanical. Ironically, it’s supposed to be mechanical. It’s supposed to feel cold and detached while highlighting small moments of hope and integrity and resistance.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the build-up to how Gilead formed. I think when I read the book, as a somewhat naive seventeen-year-old girl, I thought, “Oh this could never happen.” Today, I’m not so sure. Quiet movements led by enraged, blame-focused groups seem real. The stripping of women’s rights doesn’t seem far off as we, women, have yet to receive all the rights we should. I think watching people walk through the beginning of Gilead thinking, “oh, it’s fine. They’ll never get their way,” and then watching those same people struggle with the fallout, the rights-stripping, and the dehumanizing behavior of Gilead leadership is uncomfortable in the best way. At the end of the day, “that would never happen,” is the wrong mentality to have when you think someone problematic is gaining traction. “That would never happen” is essentially a call for the unimaginable, the seemingly impossible to make itself realized. I think if the TV Handmaid’s Tale gives us anything its the message that passivity is detrimental. We shouldn’t need our world to become Gilead to push change or resistance to problematic movements and ideologies.

Offred is strong as hell and though she’s inherently feminine –  seeing as her driving force is getting her daughter back, which is maternal – she pushes boundaries, she questions her Commander, she pushes back in the slightest ways that seem insignificant at the moment, but provide hope to those of us clinging to the edge of the book or sitting tense on our couches watching Elisabeth Moss say, “is this bullshit life enough for you?” Because it’s not enough for her. Though Offred is in the worst situation, she convinces herself that Gilead is temporary… that the wrongs of the leadership will be corrected, overthrown, people will gain their rights back. However, this is important insofar as it reminds us that all of this was absent when Gilead leadership bulldozed the country into submission.

I don’t want to spoil the show, as I think it’s a must-see, but I will say there were moments that made my stomach turn. There were moments when I wanted to scream at characters (specifically Serena Joy, who helped create the society that then stripped her dignity and belittled her intellect). I think shows like this, however, are uncommon, and I think the writing is just as powerful as Atwood’s novel is. So, if you haven’t watched The Handmaid’s Tale… I encourage you to do so!

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stop Apologizing: Curbing the Need to Apologize

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Hello, World.

I had a professor once who would say, “no need to apologize,” to me all the time because I would say “sorry,” too much. I didn’t even say it because I did something wrong or I was sorry, I would just say it…like a reflex. I think part of this comes from the fact that to apologize is polite and when you bump into someone or do something to make a person uncomfortable you apologize. But then, there is definitely a line we cross where we go from polite to simply apologizing too much. When apologizing becomes a reflex, each apology loses its weight. Now, for the purposes of avoiding criticism for telling people not to apologize, I would like to put a general disclaimer on this post that you should apologize when one is warranted. If you hurt someone, do something wrong, seriously mess up, an apology should occur. However, I think because some people feel like we’re supposed to apologize, or we apologize out of habit, true apologies are ruined. It’s like ‘boy who cried wolf,’ but we’re crying remorse when we actually feel nothing.

Anyway, due to societal norms, women, especially, often feel we should apologize for being who we are. We feel like we should apologize for coming on too strong or questioning someone else. We should apologize when we like something that is deemed “uncool” by the powers that be. We should apologize for saying, “I don’t like that current trend,” or “I think that’s wrong.” We lead with “sorry, but…” because the thought of offending someone is too much to bear. However, when sorry is used with the same frequency as “hi,” the ‘sorrys’ become less and less meaningful. R.M. Drake once said, “maybe one day we’ll finally learn to love ourselves and stop apologizing for the things that make us who we are.” I think sometimes “sorry” becomes a filler. We bump into someone in the coffee shop, we say “sorry” instead of “oh, excuse me.” It’s not necessarily our fault we bumped into someone, but here we are apologizing as if we were at fault. I’ve had someone hit me in the face accidentally, and I said, “Oh, sorry…” as if apologizing for being hit in the face. Talk about ridiculous.

With so many pressures that our society breeds, it’s only natural that we feel the need to apologize for our actions that others deem wrong. Maybe our actions are wrong, and in those moments we should be held accountable and apologize. However, there are too many times to count when we feel pressure to apologize, even when we’re not. Even now, with Harvey Weinstein’s career blowing up because brave women are shining a light on his abhorrent behavior, apologies seem insincere. We have Weinstein saying he’s “sick” and will “be better” one day. I’m not contesting that he’s sick, but I am contesting that he’s sorry because of the trauma and pain he’s caused to women. I feel he’s sorry because his career, marriage, etc. are dying a little more each day. If women hadn’t spoken out, his disgusting behavior likely would have continued because he wouldn’t feel the pressure to apologize. He should apologize, but he should mean the apology. On the same vein, Ben Affleck received a ton of flack for, finally, speaking out against Weinstein when Affleck himself had sexually assaulted celebrities and has yet to speak against his brother, who multiple women have claimed sexually harassed and assaulted them. The frequency with which we see pressured apologies makes us feel like “sorry” is the answer. If we say, “sorry,” and move on, all is right in the world. This is likely because it’s worked for many public figures who, after an apology, fade from the headlines and move on with their lives as quickly as the story broke.

I understand that apologizing for sexual assault and apologizing for bumping into someone at a coffee shop are not on equal footing, but I do think a quick, yet thought-out (mostly toward personal branding) apology from powerful individuals who are facing really big issues gives us a green light to be even more careless with our apologies in everyday life. We apologize with such frequency that we don’t realize, often, what we’re even apologizing for in the first place. When someone said, “that was rude,” and we respond, “sorry,” then move on it doesn’t solve anything. I think we should stop apologizing in some instances because the situation (a) doesn’t warrant an apology and (b) if we’re apologizing just to go through the motions of doing so, we shouldn’t apologize until we can mean it. If we can never mean it, maybe an apology shouldn’t come. In the case of Weinstein and Affleck, an apology is most certainly warranted, but not until both men understand what they’ve done, understand the pain they’ve caused, and are apologizing not because they feel they should, but because they are actually sorry for the pained they’ve caused.

In our everyday lives, we shouldn’t be apologizing for the things that make us…us. We shouldn’t apologize for liking a certain band or wearing a certain outfit or being a certain way. If we find ourselves apologizing all the time, perhaps we haven’t found our niche. I find myself constantly apologizing for being so sarcastic because some people think poking fun at myself and others is “rude”. However, I’ve also learned that I surround myself with people who appreciate sarcasm or are also sarcasm. I don’t need to apologize to those people because they understand this quirk that is part of my personality. If I joke with someone and they are offended, I do apologize because I didn’t mean anything malicious or mean-spirited by my joke. But I also make a mental note that the person and I may not be the best of friends. 82f5dedf4a0734148ba1b3075bed4474.jpg

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What’re your views on apologizing?

Truly,
Callie leigh

My Favorite Fall Candles

Hello, World!

My favorite part of fall is finding the best candles. There are so many great scents that sometimes it’s hard to choose! I usually go into Bath & Body Works because they always have great deals on candles, and year after year I find a few scents I love. Last year I got salted caramel, which was to die for, and caramel woods, which was smoky, but caramel-y and sweet.

This year, Bath & Body Works had all their candles marked down from $24.00 to $12.50, then a few weeks later they had a deal where you bought one and got one free, which was great. My favorite scents this fall are…

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Bourbon Maple is delicious. I like candles that you smell and immediately think, “yes, that’s the smell of x season.” This candle is woodsy, warm, and sweet all at the same time! I prefer deeper, woodsy scents, so I was happy to find this one. 367A8131-601A-466B-92BC-E44DC92332B1.jpg

To be honest, Leaves is my absolute favorite. It’s the candle I get every year because, to me, it perfectly captures the smell of fall. I usually burn Leaves until winter, then I switch to ‘Tis the Season, which is more apple and Christmas scented. unnamed.jpg

This is a subtle candle but smells amazing. I think anything with ‘donut’ in the title would have to be subtle because it could become overpowering quickly! Excuse my chipped nails… law school doesn’t leave much time for primping.

What are your favorite fall scents?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to: Making the End of the Year a New Adventure

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Hello, World.

I saw a few tweets recently that said something to the effect of, “90 days left in 2017, make them count.” This made me think about how my favorite time of the year is also the end of the year. I live for October, November, and December. As soon as the leaves change, the air gets chillier, and I need a jacket to go outside, I immediately get giddy. Still, everyone always acts like the only time you can have a new beginning is in January, when the magic of the holiday season is supposed to wear off and we’re supposed to go back to reality. I’m all for new year’s goals or resolutions, but I think we can work to be better throughout the year.

So, I wanted to share my thoughts on making the end of the year count! Although many people are very busy with school, life, and holiday obligations, we should make time for new things and new traditions. I think Serena van der Woodsen once said, “traditions aren’t traditions if they’re new,” and while I agree with the statement on face value alone, I do believe we can and should start new traditions. So, rather than simply go through the motions of the holiday season and the end of the year, one way to turn the end into a beginning is by actively pursuing new traditions and memories.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is go apple picking – it looks so fun and seems like the essence of fall. My roommate and I are hoping to go in a few weekends! So, while I could easily not go apple picking and instead spend those hours working on law school-related obligations, I’m choosing to take a few hours to make memories and enjoy the season! The end of the year always goes so quickly – it makes the first few months of the year feel like they took forever. So, it’s important to slow down, enjoy the moments, and make sure you’re making the most of the time.

One of the tweets I saw recently said, “90 days left of 2017. Make the most of it!” So, if there are resolutions you didn’t complete or you wanted to do things this year you didn’t do, don’t wait and just add them to next year’s goals list. You still have time to make a change. Whether it was giving your two weeks notice, applying for the job you’ve always wanted, going to a movie alone, overcoming your fear of rejection and applying to the reach school, ditching graduate school plans, or taking the plunge and applying Oxford, etc. There are many things that we tell ourselves we will do come January 1, but by December 31 we somehow say, “Oh, didn’t happen this year. I’ll just have that goal roll over to next year…” until suddenly its ten years later and we’re wondering why we didn’t do it sooner because it’s too late now. So, do what you’ve always wanted to do! Do not let the “end of the year” be an ending. Rather, use the time that is left in 2017 to accomplish your goals, try something new, or continue traditions but make them better.

How do you make the most of the final months of the year?

Truly,

Callie leigh

Read this when… Someone Massively Disappoints You

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Hello, World.

A few weeks back, I published a post called, “read this when you feel like quitting.” I like the concept of “read this when…” articles, so I thought I might make a series out of them and offer my advice on pivotal moments that happen that lead to a need for encouragement. Hopefully, I can be that encouragement for you when the things that I write about happen (when you feel like quitting or when someone disappoints you).

If you read my article on dating, you know I have “unrealistic expectations” about relationships. When I was younger, and well into adulthood, people have also told me I set too high of a bar for friends and other people in my life. I’m impossible to please. I, personally, don’t think this is true, but do we ever think negative things about ourselves are true? Regardless, I do expect a certain amount of respect, understanding, compassion, and authenticity from the people in my life. If someone misses the point and allows me to second guess their intentions, their character, or their investment in our relationship, I will cut them off. Cold turkey.

This might seem harsh, and it probably is, but as I’ve gotten older, I do not stand for being made to feel silly, unimportant, or betrayed. I don’t really throw the “bully” word around with much frequency, but I didn’t have an easy childhood when it came to friends. I was consistently friends with people who made me unsure of where I stood. Would I walk into class and have my best friend smile or glare at me? Then there was the time in middle school that I got to school and no one would talk to me and no one would tell me why they weren’t talking to me. It was like the scene in Gossip Girl when Serena is trying to talk to Nate after Blair finds out about Serena and Nate’s hookup, and Nate literally refuses to acknowledge Serena. He just won’t speak or look at her. I’ve been there and it’s the worst feeling in the world. I later found out that some girl was annoyed at my friendship with her friend, so lied and told her that I had said a bunch of stuff I had never said. Classy, right?

Then came high school and friends weren’t much better there. I had a few people who I really liked, but some hurt me and I continued to be wary of trusting friends too much. Then came college and holy shit. I had female friends that were badasses who I trusted wholeheartedly and who were so positive. They also communicated with me when we did have disagreements or something happened that hurt one of us. It wasn’t me guessing what I did. Instead, my trusty friends said simply and calmly, “hey, you did a thing, it hurt me, and I want to talk about it.” So we talked about it. We apologized when we knew we should, talked about misunderstandings when they were the cause of the argument, and validated each other’s feelings. It was crazy.  I mean, who knew female friendships where you built each other up and respected each other existed? Before college, I didn’t know they did. I don’t want to glorify my college friends, but most people pale in comparison to them if I’m transparent. But what I want to talk about today is the moments when you get that call or text or cold shoulder that you don’t understand and how to handle it.

We don’t intentionally hurt people (unless you’re a psycho, in which case you have bigger problems). However, sometimes we just do. We just hurt people because of a miscommunication, misunderstanding, etc. When we’ve hurt someone, we have to be accountable for that. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, it’s a matter of recognizing you hurt someone and apologizing and trying to understand their point of view. The absolute worst thing you can do when someone expresses that you hurt them is getting defensive and saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurt.” That’s essentially the most mansplaining way of apologizing. So, what happens on the flip side? When we haven’t hurt or disappointed them but they hurt or disappointed us?

Well, let me begin that conversation by offering a little anecdote. When I was an RA, my team and I had a strategy for dealing with residents who broke the rules. Rather than say, “I’m so mad at you! How could you?!” or get really heated, we said calmly, “I’m just disappointed.” There is something in the word disappointment that hits people in the gut. Well, it hits them in the gut if they respect you enough that they don’t want to disappoint you. So, when residents acted out, we pulled that ever-present parent card of “you disappointed me.” That line elicited far more actual apologies than anger, annoyance, etc. The residents who didn’t apologize didn’t really like me, so I wasn’t surprised when they didn’t apologize or express upset at disappointing me.

In friendships, we hurt people. Friendships with no disagreement are like relationships where the couple never argues. It seems fake and unrealistic (see? I don’t think perfection is indicative of strong friendships or relationships!). When you’re friends with someone, especially for a long time, you’re probably going to have issues at some point. There are certain areas that lead to conflict in friendships: religious differences, political differences, moral differences, personality differences, the girl code, etc. I remember when Landon on Southern Charm said there was no girl code, and I disliked her even more than I already did. No wonder she doesn’t have many female friends, right? She doesn’t believe in having respect for other women’s relationships and lives. All of the differences can be mitigated. Your friend is very religious and you aren’t? Well, if religion isn’t discussed 24-7 it probably won’t be an issue, especially if you have mutual respect for each other’s beliefs. However, there are some things you just can’t come back from and that is when that gut-wrenching, head spinning feeling of disappointment washes over you.

I’ve woken up feeling hungover on more than one occasion, and not because I drank too much, but because someone I considered a friend massively disappointed me. It’s a terrible feeling, but you know what’s worse? When you bring that disappointment and hurt to their attention and they explain your feelings away. Like I said earlier, conflict in friendships should never be about who is right or who is wrong. It should be about understanding why and how the person is hurting, apologizing for causing that, and acknowledging that regardless of intention, the hurt happened. Apologizing to a friend isn’t about going through the motions. If the words, “I apologized, what more do you want?” leave your friend’s mouth when you’re hurting, take a good, long look at them, appreciate the good moments, and then walk away because they were never really your friend. Your feelings are not an inconvenience and even if they believe that your hurt is irrational, they should care enough to make it right, genuinely and fully. The ‘friend’ doesn’t get to decide whether or not she hurt you, all that she gets to decide is how to make it right and if she fails, she fails. A good friend will listen and apologize when you’re hurt. She doesn’t get the right to say what is and isn’t hurtful to a person. When a friend wrongs you, s/he loses the right to tell you s/he didn’t wrong you.

The feeling of disappointment that comes after an argument with a friend is hard to recover from and feels a bit like you’re just floating, weightless and unsure, trying to find a firm footing, but realizing the rug’s been pulled from beneath you. Trying to recover is difficult. My advice when someone massively disappoints you? Allow them a chance to explain. If they are receptive to your hurt, attempt to understand, and genuinely say you are important to them and that they will make it right, give them another chance but be cautious. If, however, they explain away your feelings, tell you or imply you’re irrational, or insist hurt is a matter of right and wrong, you have the answer you needed and that answer is that your life will be better, healthier, and more positive without their influence. Again, it can be a very difficult battle to fight the urge to let someone like that back in because you — at one point — thought they were important. I’m here to tell you, they are not. In ten years, you’ll be happy you let them go now. This is an active step, which helps you lead a more active life.

How did you deal with a friend disappointing you?

For more on toxic friends, see here.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Living an Active Life: How to Avoid Passivity

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Hello, World.

Do you ever feel as if you’re watching your life go by and you don’t have control of over it anymore? It’s funny how frequently I hear people say, “How is it almost October already?” “Where did the summer go?” etc. I mean, I’ve gone as far as to think, “Where did college go?” I just don’t understand where the time went. I’m only twenty-three, but sometimes it feels as if my life is just going by as I focus on getting the next thing. However, I think we are all worried that we’re going to be so focused on the next thing that we forget to enjoy the moment right now. I was also watching a movie or TV show (I can’t remember) where one of the characters said something to the effect of, “stop acting like this is all happening to you. Stop acting like you haven’t played a role.”

However, I think sometimes we do let things just happen. We don’t really take an active role in our lives and suddenly we’re living a passive existence where things are happening and we’re just taking them as they come without really thinking much further. It’s hard to know when we allow passivity to consume us. Sometimes we blame it on other things: “I can’t deal with that right now, so I just won’t.” “I’m focusing on my career so I don’t have time to deal with that.” “I cannot possibly date because I haven’t had good luck recently and I don’t want to get hurt again.” “I won’t be friends with someone who makes me feel bad.” We have justifications regarding why we aren’t taking active steps in some aspect of our lives.

However, Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries, who wasn’t my favorite character, but had some great dialogue, once said, “Don’t take risks. Stick with the status quo. No drama; now is just not the time. But my reasons aren’t reasons, they’re excuses.” This statement was said when she told Stefan, her almost-boyfriend at the time, what she would write in her diary about them. While it probably seems super dramatic out of context, Elena’s words have depth. Life is so much easier when we don’t take risks or when we play by the rules and take the safe, knowable route. However, I doubt wildly successful people, those so-called “household names” became such by playing the safe game. They undoubtedly took risks and defied the status quo. While none of us want drama in our lives, sometimes facing things that we’re unhappy with will lead to a better life. It’s important to stand up for yourself, to take active steps toward finding out who you should trust and who shouldn’t. We all want to live our best lives and that’s difficult to do when we refuse to take chances, put ourselves out there, and accept that disappointment is inevitable. If we live life with the purpose of never being disappointed we will make regret inevitable. When we’re ninety, looking back on our lives, we will most likely think, “I wonder if I had done x, y would have happened.”

People tell us we shouldn’t have regrets. People also tell us that everything happens for a reason. How do we reconcile things that happen when we do regret something? People say, “Oh, everything happens for a reason, even if you can’t see the reason right now.” Honestly, I’m someone who thinks this way and I never thought it had a negative side until recently. Until recently, I thought “karma will get that person,” or “my time isn’t now, so I’ll wait for my turn.” But then, while walking down the street one afternoon, “Home” by Chelsea Lankes blasting through my earbuds, I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks. Literally, I stopped walking, looked around, and thought, “hmmm. That’s new.” My thought was this: we regret the things we had complete control over and chose passivity or inaction instead.

There have been many times in my life when I did everything possible to make something happen and the thing didn’t work out (relationship, friendship, job application, academic application, etc.). When I fail initially, but then something does work out its much easier to say everything happens for a reason, and move on because something better came along eventually. However, when I knew I could make something happen, but allowed fear or anxiety control my actions, and rather than make it happen, I just… froze, watched the situation play out as if it was someone else’s life, moved on and didn’t give it much thought until I had a pit in my stomach that felt a lot like regret. It’s hard to be active in all aspects of our lives. It’s hard to make ourselves vulnerable, give someone else a little power over any aspect of our life, or put yourself out into the world and give it the power to crush you. Most people don’t want to relinquish control, but sometimes we have to if we want to expand, grow, change, and adapt. So, how do we overcome passivity?

Well, revising your life to be more active is similar to revising a paper to get rid of passive voice. You have to be strategic, you have to look for the problem, you have to address the problem when you see it, and you have to have confidence that the change is a correction. So, when you like someone, let them know. When you want the job, do everything in your power to get it. When you want to go to Harvard, work your ass off. When you want to move to that city, visit, make connections and do the thing. If what you want doesn’t pan out after all the work, maybe it wasn’t meant to be. However, if you put in the work, and it works out, you won’t regret it. Even if you discover later that what you wanted isn’t what you needed, you can make a change. Going after something with your whole heart won’t lock you in forever, but it will surely prevent those moments when we’re ninety, writing in our diaries about how sad we are we didn’t call that guy (Hello, “the one who got away”), or we didn’t go after the promotion in year two instead of year ten, or we didn’t live in New York for a few years, or we waited until it was too late to cut a toxic friend from our lives. Disappointment is evitable, but don’t allow your fear of disappointment dictate your life… it will only create inevitable regret.

How do you cultivate a more active life?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Working with People Different Than You: Co-Workers who you don’t like, have a different leadership style than, or make you uncomfortable

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Hello, World.

There’s a good chance that all of us have worked with people we didn’t necessarily consider “our people.” Sometimes you work for certain organizations or hold a job with people that you wouldn’t be around normally, but because of the circumstances, you are working closely with frequently. Working with someone who you don’t get along with can be difficult. Sometimes it’s not even that you don’t get along, but you just have different leadership styles, and that alone makes working with that person harder. However, situations where you are working with someone different from you or who you don’t like working with (note: the two are different, so you need to decide which is the problem, i.e. leadership style or personality). Today I want to share some methods of turning an unhappy working relationship into a healthy one. Truth be told, the people we work with are the people we see most often, so we should do everything in our power to make those relationships as strong and healthy as possible.

First, be kind. I know, I know. This seems obvious. You’re probably rolling your eyes thinking, “well, duh. Don’t you have useful advice?” However, I think an unhappy working situation can really wear a person down, and it becomes less and less easy to be kind and positive to co-workers. Your internal unhappiness starts to be projected outward. Even if you believe you’re handling the situation well, people are more intuitive than we think and they likely know, or at least feel, your discomfort or annoyance with the situation.

Second, do not discuss your disgruntled situation with other co-workers. I will admit, I made this mistake in college. I was really unhappy in a working relationship and at first, I kept all my emotions about the situation bottled up, then I started making comments to my other co-workers about how I was feeling. I told one co-worker just how unhappy I was (I was thinking of quitting or not returning the following year). While people listened, I know I was putting them in an uncomfortable position: they worked with both of us and some were friends with both of us. I’m not perfect and this mistake was one of my biggest in my first college job. Since then I’ve made a habit of never venting about work to anyone I work with because while venting is sometimes, and often inevitably, needed, try to keep the line between personal and work very visible.

Third, ask the person if there is anything you can do to better the relationship. While you may feel that the other person is entirely at fault, that may not be true. When we’re uncomfortable, we sometimes make other uncomfortable. Some people are oblivious. If they aren’t unaware we’re feeling a disconnect, they may just carry on, full force ahead, and never stop to think about whether we’re actually working well together. So, slowing the pace and asking if there’s anything we can do to better communication, openness, etc. may make them reflect on the relationship and go from there. Sometimes they will say “nope, we’re great together!” This is the nightmare answer. However, you can adjust the question. Say, “I noticed you seem to prefer email communication. Would you mind setting aside ten minutes each week to meet in person?” If the problem is blocked communication, having a weekly meeting will force in-person communication, which will allow the comfort level between you two to increase and allow for more honest communication down the line.

Fourth, figure out what the problem is and address it head-on. When I had my college job in which I was working with someone who I didn’t work well with, I couldn’t pinpoint the exact issue. I knew how I felt generally and I knew how I felt in specific situations, but overall I couldn’t figure out why we worked so poorly together. We had been friends for two years before working together and suddenly I felt like I was working with a stranger. Looking back, I think some of the dynamics of our friendship and things that annoyed me when we were friends were amplified when we worked together. I hate being put down or treated like I’m less intelligent than someone (though I do recognize when someone is smarter than me). The person I worked with made me feel like way regularly. I also felt like I was co-parenting. People would ask me something, I’d give my answer based on what my co-worker agreed upon and then they’d respond, “but *** told me (insert something completely different than we discussed).” Or, sometimes when I’d be handling a situation, she’d appear in the hallway, and just watch. It felt like Big Brother was watching and made me feel like I wasn’t strong enough to handle the situation. Let’s just say, different leadership styles, being made to feel inadequate or lesser, and lack of communication was at the root of this failed partnership. While it’s hard to pinpoint, finding the specific reason(s) for your feeling of discomfort in your working relationship is key to improving the situation.

How have you dealt with working in uncomfortable, less than ideal working relationships?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Dating as a Girlboss: Thoughts on Ambitious Goals, Guys and Making It Work

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Hello, World.

Today I come to you with a topic that’s far more personal than my recent posts. Today, I want to discuss modern dating; specifically, if you’re career driven, have many goals for yourself, and are hesitant to settle down until you achieve your goals. For the purposes of full disclosure, I am by no means an expert on dating. In fact, I’m probably quite the opposite. However, lately, relationships have come up in conversations with friends more and more. I joked recently with one of my friends that I left for the summer with mostly single friends and returned to find a good portion of my friends dating someone or at least having a hand in the dating game.

During a night of drinking with my roommates a few weeks ago, we swapped war stories about relationships we’ve had in the past. As I sat there, the sweet scent of a Mike’s Harder wafting up my nostrils, listening to my friends lament the failed attempts of relationships past, I couldn’t help but think that I’ve never been really really burned. I mean, I’ve had failed relationships and once they ended I thought, “That wasn’t the healthiest, but overall I learned a lot.” Additionally, I’m a firm believer that most of the time, there isn’t one completely innocent party. A relationship is a two-way street, and often both parties act in a way that contributes to the relationship’s demise. In all honesty, looking back on the relationships I consider significant, I don’t think the guys I was with are bad people, not then and not now. But I look at where we are now, individually, and laugh. We couldn’t be more different. The guys I dated went their own way, and I went mine, and we ended up in very different places. There’s a reason we separated and it was for the best.

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However, it’s funny how different dating is as you age. In high school, dating was fairly easy. You went to the movies, you hung out by firepits in backyards, you argued about whether you were going to hang out or not based on if he could borrow the family car. In college it was different, but still pretty easy. You studied together, went on dates in your college town, attended parties together and argued about whether you were going to go to that party with his friends or go to that event with yours. I’m not trying to simplify dating, sometimes it is heavy and sometimes it has intense, serious consequences. However, in the grand scheme of things, dating in high school and college seems easier because it’s easy to meet people, it’s easy to see them, and you’re both operating in similar spheres of life. However, dating post-college isn’t as easy. My friends are all on dating apps and recommended I sign up. So I did. I scrolled through a few profiles and didn’t find anything promising, so said maybe that wasn’t the best approach. My friends often tell me my standards are too high. Maybe they are, but I also haven’t met anyone I wanted to lower my standards for, so I remain steadfast in my pursuit of the “unrealistic.”

In addition to relationships entering conversation more frequently with my friends, some of my favorite bloggers have also been contributing to the dialogue. Katy Bellotte, the Youtube persona and author of TheKatyProject.com, has constant negativity clogging her comment sections with readers ridiculing her videos and blog posts for focusing primarily on relationships. This obviously raises the question: why do people react so viscerally to a college-aged woman (who has her own business) discussing relationships, f*ckboys and casual sex? Some women comment with “I like you, but all you talk about is relationships. It’s annoying. You don’t need a man!” But here’s the thing: she doesn’t need a man, but maybe she wants one. Maybe she doesn’t even want a man in the sense of an ever elusive creature who she can chase through various frat houses, she just wants a relationship, someone she can feel something for who isn’t going to text her “Send nudes” at 3 am or “you up?” at midnight. People expect someone like Katy, who is a business owner, driven, dedicated, and absolutely killing it, to stand firm and say, “I don’t need a man.” They expect her to have walls on all four sides of her being that refuse to let anyone in because she’s a strong independent woman. However, I think vulnerability is important. Vulnerability is what allows us to learn. If you can only be either a strong independent woman or a senseless romantic that’s extremely limiting. Why can’t women who are strong and independent want relationships?

The Bold Type, the new Freeform show, is a current obsession of mine and it’s mainly because the show portrays driven, successful women grappling with friendship, their careers, and relationships. Relationships and the ability to feel strongly for another person is what makes us human. Sure, we fear that stomach-dropping, ears ringing feeling that comes with a read, but unanswered text, or when he’s over an hour late and doesn’t call, or when you find out through the grapevine he’s implied you’re desperate. Dating is scary but I do think that sometimes we–‘we’ being successful and driven women–use our status as a blockade against feelings. If we’re too busy building our empires, we can’t possibly get hurt. There’s only so many read receipt rejections, minutes over- thinking responses, and disappointed evenings women can endure before they feel like sitting on their couch with a bottle of wine and chocolate, pathetically watching romantic comedies and thinking the following

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I mean, dating is hard enough and then you factor in all the conventions of modern dating and it’s basically a no go. By modern dating conventions I mean the whole “don’t catch feels,” “don’t seem too eager,” “make him jealous,” “you have to be casual” stuff. There’s this expectation that we cannot feel anything and if we do feel something then it’s our own damn fault when it goes wrong because we weren’t supposed to feel anything to begin with. To be frank, this idea of dating makes it pretty easy to feel nothing. Few people have the conviction to say how they’re feeling and pursue what they want openly. Why is it bad to admit you care for someone and then pursue them? To be fair, some of us have that “he said you’re trying too hard and he’s not interested,” playing on repeat in our head as background music in the movie of our lives where he asks for our number, ask us if we’re going to make a move, then has the audacity to call you desperate, thinking you’d never find out. Hello – high school isn’t dead (news travels faster than if I live tweeted the whole thing).

Returning to my “too high of standards” for a moment, I think the funny thing is that my standards aren’t actually that high. Is it really asking too much to want someone who is witty and understands that I’m not being snobby, I’m just really sarcastic? Is it too much to want someone who will return texts or calls without it being weird? Who won’t gawk at the phone, exasperated I’m showing my hand if I call them simply because I want to? I don’t think it is. As a general aside, when my last serious relationship ended, someone close to me said I was one bad relationship from seriously screwing up my life. They were joking, but there was some truth in this.  Perhaps because when I’m in, I’m all in or because if I dedicate myself to something, I will sometimes try to work it out for much longer than I should. Regardless, the comment stung. Since then, I’ve refused to let anyone derail my plans. I’ve refused to settle and I’ve refused to pursue someone unless I really felt something (I know, feeling something is breaking the rules… But I don’t always like playing by the rules, so…)

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Some people want a Nicholas Sparks movie to play out in real time. Some people are being “realistic” for accepting modern dating as it is, building their fortress and refusing to “catch feels.” Some people think dating should have an aspect of *gasp* mutual respect. All of us think we have the dating game somewhat figured out, and if we don’t we come up with coping mechanisms… either refusing to acknowledge feelings or recusing ourselves for a few rounds (aka months/years) of the dating game. I joke pretty regularly that I have horrible timing. I tend to catch people on the cusp of a major life change. My first serious boyfriend and I broke up because he was going through a personal change that affected all the relationships in his life and our relationship was part of the collateral damage. My second serious boyfriend figured some things out and acted upon certain discoveries, which terminated our relationship unexpectedly and quickly. Then, the next person to come along entered my life before I was about to move across the country and few people desire a long distance relationship, especially in new relationships. However, I do feel like the expression “you’ll meet the person when you stop trying” is becoming a cliche for a reason. We don’t have to actively look for someone to date. In fact, I don’t think we want or need to engage in such a pursuit. However, regardless of the path you choose when it comes to dating, remember it’s okay to have standards, it’s okay to stick by those standards and it’s certainly okay to feel. How are we supposed to have lasting, healthy relationships if their beginnings are built on games played through emotional fortresses?

This post is getting long and so I think I will conclude with this: find someone who makes you laugh, who the conversation is easy with, who challenges you, who supports you, and who won’t waste your time, forcing you to wonder where you stand. Find someone who makes it clear that you’re important and that you matter.

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What are your experiences with dating post-grad or while in school?

Truly,

Callie leigh

Becoming Your Best Self: Thoughts on Improving Ourselves

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Hello, World.

Most of us are striving to become the best versions of ourselves, and that’s really what life is about, isn’t it? Getting to a point where you can stand up and say, “I’m living my life how I want to live it and I like the person I am.” There are moments throughout our lives where we reflect on where we’re going, what we’re doing, who we’re surrounding ourselves with, and I think those moments prove pivotal. Reflection is what allows us to determine if we are doing what we want or if we’re hanging out with people who bring love and positivity into our lives or simply drama and negativity.  Today I want to share my thoughts on how we become our best selves.

I believe that becoming your best self is fluid and doesn’t really have a clear end point. It’s not mathematical. You can’t say, “at 25 or 31 or 45 I will be my best self if I add love subtract toxic friendship and multiply by career success.” Rather, it’s a fluid process that never truly ends. We can always be better and we can always grow more. While it’s not clearly mathematical when you will be your best self, I do think having more of one thing and less of another will enhance your life, making you happier and a better you. I am happier when I’m active. I like having people in my life who support me and who don’t bring unnecessary drama to the table. I think most people would agree such factors make them happier. However, happiness is just one aspect of being your best self. While happiness is crucial, I also argue that unhappiness also makes us better. When we experience negative things, it exposes us to situations that can make us stronger, more empathetic and more self-aware.

Some of the biggest learning experiences in my life did not come from moments of pure joy, they came from moments of heartache. Learning how you react to certain situations, how you handle stress, how you handle discomfort is a major step in learning who you are and whether that is who you want to be. I think in order to become your best self you have to take risks; you have to be willing to be let down or disappointed. In moments of frustration or moments of feeling defeated, we are able to begin again. We can reevaluate, understand any shortcomings, and bounce back stronger than ever. Or, we can simply crumble. I reiterate this theme a lot in my posts, but it’s because I feel it’s an important one: It’s not whether we fail, it’s how we respond to the failures.

I think a crucial part of being your best self is surrounding yourself with good people who make you better. I was recently out with friends and this rumor that circulated the law school during the first few weeks of the semester came up in conversation. I asked about its validity and the guy I asked essentially called me out. His face and demeanor said something like, “really? Are you serious or is this a joke? How immature are we?” I immediately froze, in part because I was caught off guard, and in part because I appreciated the moment. It’d been far too long since someone called people on gossip and talking about people. We’re all in law school, shouldn’t our conversations be a little more…elevated? Or at least not so immature in nature? In that moment I was thankful that someone reminded me that indulging in gossip isn’t worth our time and isn’t actually the norm in some circles. What. A. Breath. Of. Fresh. Air. So, my point in relaying this story is to say that who we surround ourselves with can greatly impact who we are. Did I spend my undergraduate days asking about rumors floating around regarding people I didn’t even know? No. So, becoming our best selves also requires us to be around people who make us better, and who encourage us to refrain from negative interactions (like spreading, even if inadvertently, rumors we hear).

When we know there is something we’re unhappy with or want to change, we should change it. We need to take active steps in making a change and moving toward becoming better. So, while it’s not mathematical per se, our best selves exist somewhere where we have better people in our lives, where we feel happy, and where we make an active change to the aspects of our lives that we feel are inhibiting our personal growth.

How do you work towards becoming a better person?

Truly,

Callie leigh