Coming to Terms with Your Career

I have written about career before, sharing advice for job hunting and running a side hustle. I’ve also written about strategies for resilience– how to just suck it up and deal, whether you like it or not.

I have followed my own advice, especially applying strategies for resilience and enduring the good and the bad. Here’s what I need to do now: I need to appreciate my career for what it is.

The thing that really makes this difficult work bearable is the knowledge that a) this is temporary, and b) I am learning. Those are the pieces that made other challenges so invigorating! I have been reading the narratives of bloggers from before they got big, and how they got where they are. Both Leandra Medine and Joanna Goddard, basically blog goddesses, pay tribute to what they considered a ‘paying of the dues’… really,  just putting in the time and gaining personal experience. What is motivating about their testimony on gaining experience is that this experience didn’t go on a resume and earn them a promotion… this experience lent itself to each woman becoming a self-made entrepreneur.

But then again, everyone’s job, no matter what it is, is hard. Goddard said as much when we talk about the public perception of her work. Everyone’s life is messy and complicated. Whether we live our lives out for public consumption or not, don’t most of us put on a brave face? “All those Pinterest quotes are so damaging,” she says, listing off clichés like, “Love what you do and it will never feel like work,” or, “You should want to do your job whether they paid your or not.”

“It’s called work; that’s why they pay you for it. It’s not always fun. If your goal is to be eternally giddy about your dream job, I’m afraid you’ll never find it.” That doesn’t mean she isn’t thankful for all that Cup of Jo has brought her, but there is a difference between gratitude and happiness. Gratitude carries us through rough patches, anxiety-ridden days and full-out downhill slides.
Quote from Man Repeller interview with Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo.

Beyond just sucking it up and getting through, something bigger has to happen. I know that to reach the next level of my career, and to be best prepared to switch careers in the future, I need to commit. I’m not very good at doing that! I don’t want to commit because this is so hard and so emotionally trying. I’m afraid. I’m tempted to leave all the time. But if I commit, and deeply invest my time and energy, I will be better at it and better for it. The community that I serve will be better served. I may see growth, but if I don’t I’ll also have one hell of an experience to put on my resume.

Strategies to Invest and Commit in Your Career

  1. Step up and be more active.
    Take on a new role and more responsibility in your work place. The more involved you are, the more skills and connections you gain and the easier the job itself becomes. Sometimes this means volunteering for a job that no one else wants to do, or putting in an extra couple of hours each week.
  2. Seek out professional development
    Maintain a growth mindset and seek out the resources to make you better at what you do. Bonus: these opportunities may give you a much needed break, which will ease the burnout. By taking the time to learn and grow in your field, and stepping away from the workplace for a few days to evaluate your own performance, you will return to your workplace with fresh eyes and new ideas.
  3. Try new things
    This is the easiest way to get out of a rut with anything in life. Do something different! Approach your day differently, adjust your schedule, apply new skills within your work. If you can totally switch something within your job, try it! Maybe move from the desk to the field or vice versa, or changing your focus from one specialization to another.
  4. Explore what will make you long term happy
    When you are off work, try a hobby or new career trajectory that you enjoy- something that brings you lasting joy and peace. Pursue your curiosity in other things! It may be an investment in your future career. You may surprise yourself: as we develop our personal interests and break out of our comfort zone (read: pattern of tv and pizza), often other things (like work) and positively impacted.
  5. Invest in the present while planning the future
    Be really awesome at your current job, and promote your success. This positive attention puts you in a position to continue moving forward. You’ll need those wins whether you are trying to grow in your current career or look for other work.
  6. Be a resource
    After a few years in one job, you are able to be a mentor for new professionals. Apply your expertise and feel purposeful in your work by making yourself or you work available as a resource to your peers. This could be done by circulating a resource you developed within your network or online, even selling materials or starting a website. This will deepen your personal practice as you shift your thinking to “What have I learned and how can I teach it?”
  7. Create opportunity
    Are you bored? Annoyed with the lack of community at work? Change things! Step up, because if you want something to happen differently, it takes an initiator. The break room is sad and uncomfortable so everyone eats alone at their desk? Volunteer to decorate it and start a committee to host fun events with the staff! Basically, see a need, fill a need. You will be happier to be there and will be recognized as a valuable self-starter.
  8. Make new friends and keep the old
    Seek and build a community for yourself. Reach out and start new things with coworkers. Does it feel impossible to spend anytime with coworkers? The internet makes it so easy to search for friends! There are book clubs on Meetup, and women’s events on Eventbrite. Ladies Get Paid is a cool resource to find other career-minded women in your area. I also highly recommend taking crazy classes all the time, like rock climbing, scuba, ceramics, woodworking, dance, improv, etc. You will meet the coolest people, and feel deeply connected.
  9. Reach out
    I always forget that other people have/are suffered/suffering through this and forge a path through it. By reaching out to people who have been there, done that, and finding a mentor or comrade in the field, you are reminded that you are not alone, and may find a greater sense of purpose and interest.
  10. Make it worth your while
    Spend your money on what you really want. What brings you peace and joy and happiness? What makes your daily life easier? Don’t waste your HARD EARNED MONEY on stuff that doesn’t serve you. I am trying to buy experiences over stuff, and stuff that has a specific need. Also, if you what you really want is a different career or a long retirement, then save that money. Make yourself a fuck off fund or carefully pad your retirement account and then leave when you’re ready.

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Link Pack: Bread, Books, and Badass Bitches

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Have you every made Friendship Bread? In line with my goal to spend less and make more, I would like to try and spread the love with fresh baked bread.

 

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The #MeToo movement has changed the conversation about women in the workplace. A word from the creator of the hashtag movement here, how to speak up at work here, and honestly, do you have a Fuck off Fund? Because you should.

 

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I look forward to NPR’s book list every year! Here is the best of 2017, and here is a sneak peak of the great books to come in 2018.

Resting Bitch Face is a Defense Mechanism

I was just talking with my sister on the phone, and we were comparing times we were scared shitless while traveling and escaped it. You know, the kind of scary thing you didn’t tell your family about at the time it happened, because they would be really worried about you? We discussed how men literally do not ever have these concerns. Most men never walk down the street with a constant inner monologue of “Will I be assaulted today? Is that old man going to tell me to smile more?” We had an epiphany: Resting Bitch Face is a Self-Defense Mechanism.

And we’ve both used it as one! My sister and I each had multiples accounts of times that a mad straight face and deaf ear might have saved our lives. I checked your previous content, and their are references of RBF sprinkled throughout many conversations about feminism and the general life of being a woman, but this perspective is unique. Of course there are opportunities to link related MR content Do You Have a Resting Bitch Face? and Feminism and RBF, but this perspective is not “what do you do about RBF” or “RBF is an issue with the way men perceive women” but about the fact that sometimes, when you are on the subway alone, you put on your biggest, baddest bitch face because you don’t want to talk, and you don’t want to hear it. Sometimes that angry frown while to stare blankly in the distance is the only way to get a little fucking security and peace and quiet while going about your day to day life. Bitch face is the ultimate Man Repeller.

Four Things

 

What are your weekend plans? My parents are visiting, so I get to play tourist and show them the sites around the city. I am excited for deep dish and many museums. I am equally excited that I have the day off of work. Wishing you an equally restful weekend! Here are four fun things to check out while you’re chillin’.

Loving the art project From Scraps, creating special things our of the discards.

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Extraordinary Routines is a cool page where you can glean wisdom from successful and relatable ordinary people. Tina Roth for example, the founder of Tattly and Swiss-Miss and way more, shares details about maintaining a sense of family for her kids even as a divorced family. I have known families who have these happy-endings divorces, where both sides can comfortably celebrate birthdays and holidays and make co-decisions about their kids life. It was very neat to read her perspective!

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I am equal parts obsessed with and terrified by Michelle Griffiths Instagram. She doesn’t just slackline… she does yoga on the slackline. In insane places like the canyons of Moab!!! I can’t stop looking. She leads workshops, if you’re into that sort of thing. But HOW does she set up the rig???

Have you ever been rock climbing? I have been going on the regular and when my friend posted this on my timeline she summed it up with “This is how I feel sometimes.” No worries, Sara, after watching these I can say with absolute confidence that we are images of grace on that wall.

On Female Friendship

Image from Glossier

When I was in high school, I boasted about the fact that I had no girlfriends.

It was trés cool to roll with the boys. And that’s what I did! Forever the friend, I drove my buddies in my mom’s minivan to heavy metal concerts and we pulled off the most ridiculous stunts at band practice. Sometimes we would break into an abandoned “haunted” house just to have the shit scared out of us and other times we would watch bad movies and recreate the gross signature meal. I’m looking at you, Troll 2 Nilbog Pie. I have grown distant from these friends, but I love and miss those guys, and they shaped who I am today.

I remember the first time I made a real, reliable girlfriend. The kind that you click with instantly and remember forever. I was away, traveling, and when I met these girls from bigger and faster cities, for the first time I felt like I was listened to completely, and more than that: I felt heard.

I was not the butt of the jokes with this crew, and intelligence and argumentativeness were validating qualities. They were funny and danced with ease and comfort. They felt like all of the good parts of femininity that I had been stuffing away so that I felt cool and accepted with the boys.

Flash forward:

In college, I was back to my old ways of worrying about whether or not I was accepted as one of the guys. When I wasn’t concerned about my friendships with some, I was pursuing romantic interest with others. I keep in touch with a number of them, but the people that I will always love are the women that spent time with. What I miss most are late night debates about the politics of colonial America (?) or playing tunes on the porch a lazy Sunday morning with all the girls. I will never forget the minutes that felt like hours during which we considered all of our pizza options and everyone’s personal tastes before inevitably settling on Hawaiian. I not one single women entered my life as a friend and abandoned me as a friend. Every female friendship I have made in the last 5 years has lasted and developed and has been deeply meaningful.

I am so excited that now, in my formative years of adulthood, I am learning how to seek out these independent women to have in my life as supporters and friends. I made my first new friend in my new city 6 months after moving! I realize now that you can’t meet new people when you sit on your couch and watch Netflix. By learning how to rock climb, I have made one new friend, who shared her friends with me (even bringing me to a B.Y.O.F. party… Bring Your Own Friend!). I have recently joined a group of women training to be better and stronger climbers, I am amazed at the ease of new friends who want to put themselves out of their comfort zone and learn something new. When my friend joined a rowing course, she noted how few men were on the beginner team, and said “of course it’s all women signing up and trying new things!” Of course there are adventurous men signing up and trying new things, but one of the amazing qualities about women who seek personal independence is that they aren’t afraid of something new and different.

This new group of women I have been climbing with is already very special to me because we can all share a sense of camaraderie formed from being awkward and uncomfortable together, laughing at these struggles, and drawing power from them.

So here is to long and lasting friendships with great women.

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Image from Glossier

7 Things

We’ve rounded up 7 great links from the week.

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This smoothie has two secret ingredients. I’m going to tell you those secrets: pear, and… salt? Trust me. I made it, true to the recipe minus the vanilla, with every intention of modifying the recipe after I had tasted it. NOPE! I am hooked. Eating it every day and staying full for 3+ hours even after a long workout. I ended up subbing the almond butter (mine was rancid) with almond flour, and it is delicious and still adds protein.

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10 Ways to Get Ahead and Get the Job

The reactions to our Professionals series has been incredible! I have been taking long, hard looks at my own career trajectory and am glad to share my lessons learned with all of you. Since this was posted, I’ve learned one more “last resort” method of following up: send the business a giant, hand-labeled manilla envelope with a copy of your resumé, cover letter, and sample work inside.

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24 Women on How Life Changes with Age

I am not sad to lose my youth. Every year brings me more experience and wisdom. I am genuinely excited to get old (except when my younger sister calls me old). The reflections of these women, from their twenties to their seventies, are thoughtful and resounding.

“Conveniently for me, the older I get, the less I care about the age of my friends. I have come to realize that the connections humans make are truly timeless. Growing up, I was nervous of older or more sophisticated women. Then, as I became a mom, I was nervous of the moms who seemed to be old pros at this gig and had no time for a newbie. Not sure if time has softened or hardened me (you pick), but lately, I simply don’t care! I am so happy making my own decisions. This confidence has brought me MANY new amazing friends. I used to feel that I was ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ for that group… but really, if I can party like I am 30, and reflect like I am 60? I think I’m on the right track.”

-Susan, age 41

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Eclipse Experiences in 5 Regions

Did you see the eclipse? Here are photos and stories from 5 friends who experienced the eclipse in ranges from 85% to totality.

 

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NYX Total Control Foundation

As the weather gets dryer, do you find your skin following suit? I was having trouble finding a tinted moisturizer that wasn’t a goopy BB, CC, or DD (what??) cream that clogged my skin. I just tried this thin foundation that comes in a dropper bottle and mixed it with my lotion for the perfect blend of moisture and color. The thing that most impressed me was how long it lasted. I wore this all day, and even though it was mixed with a heavy lotion, the coverage didn’t budge. 2_00bd1b58-5f7e-4e1b-a3bc-f01c2471b634.jpg
In Chorus by Justina Blakeney

I love this musical image of bowed heads and peeking eyes. It seems to show unity and independence happening in unison within a group of unique and diverse women.

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Ten Best Album Covers of Summer 2017

Our roundup of the 10 best album covers of the year so far. I guarantee that with this group of artists, some you’ll know and some you won’t. Each album has a link to a track for a first listen.

 

 

Armed to Exercise

I hate that this is a conversation that has to be had, but women: How do you defend yourselves? A few of my close friends, strong friends who exercise and have taken self-defense and martial arts courses, have shared their personal self-defense tools and tactics with me, and I thought that it was worth passing along. I would also like to hear what makes you feel safe and comfortable, for examples, do you feel safer with a gun around, or less safe? Would you actually be comfortable using a pocket knife as a weapon? I have carried mace in the past, but doubt that I ever would have had it accessible enough to use it in an emergency. That is the magic of these tools.

This kitty keychain can be bought at Walmart, and is simple to use. Running at night? Walking home from the train alone? You already have your keys in your hand, now loop your fingers through the eyes of this cat to strengthen and sharpen your punch.

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Another friend swears by this simple tactical pen shaped  device, which you hold tight in your hand. The metal inside your fist strengthens your punch, but the tip can be used to jab or *gulp* stab the aggressor. She made the point that, while we can’t imagine ourselves gouging out a persons eye, that if that adrenaline kicks in and we are in a life-threatening situation, it is nice to know that you have the option? 31CO6IfmrwL._SL250_.jpg

This seems totally crazy reading these words about getting captured or having to stab someone… but every woman has felt uneasy walking home alone, and knows that queasy feeling, a sense that you might not be safe. These small tools are enough to bring confidence that if needed, you can get away and seek security and safety.

The only way that any of these devices work is if you have them in your hand at the moment you need them. The same goes for pepper spray. So be sure that if you rely on any of these, you keep them on your keys or just in your hand whenever you may possibly need to use them.

 

Related: Beginner to Badass

Unrelated:  How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sex Ed: Questions from Teens, Misunderstandings from Adults

I grew up in Indiana. At public school, sex ed consisted of one week of “STD’s will kill you so just say no.” The health teachers treated sex like drugs, and taught that abstinence was the only safe choice.

Fast-forward some years, and now I am a teacher on the south side of Chicago. Recently, a whole bunch of teachers who are not licensed health educators decided to do some legwork to give our kids access to information vital for them to lead healthy lives. I would like to say that for kids who are already getting involved in physical relationships, we were FLOORED by the questions they had for us. There were some (basic, seemingly obvious) things that they really didn’t know. Even crazier? This week long health course was implemented school-wide, and some adults stepped forward and confessed that they really didn’t understand one part of the reproductive system until that lesson, or came to us asking if we could clarify something about their own reproductive health.

Weird! Crazy! But not altogether surprising, given the lack of resources and education regarding a topic that is so often taboo.

I tried to give my group of girls a perspective of personal sexual health that was women-friendly, empowering, and centered around choice, consent, hygiene, and understanding. I also wanted them to leave with tangible knowledge and with access to resources. They may not need to know where to find protection now, but but when they do they will know where to go.

Answering some of their questions was complicated, because I wanted to be clear that every person is unique and I never wanted to make these girls feel like they were wrong. Body hair is a personal choice- but their are pros and cons to having it or not. Sex may be hetero, homo, all of the above, or not at all, and that’s all okay! If someone is hurting you because it brings them pleasure, you do not and should not be in pain to please them. Above all else, you are in control of your body.

Some of the winning questions divided into relevant categories:

Man periods
Do men have periods? No. (They do have hormonal cycles, though.)
Why not? They don’t have the necessary organs.
Can men have babies? No, they do not have the necessary organs.
Can men take birth control? Yes, but they are weak.

Girl periods
Does it hurt?
Bleeding doesn’t hurt, but other physical pain may occur.
Can you get pregnant on your period? Yes.
How do you put in a tampon? Like this.
Will a tampon take your virginity. No. Explains the hymen is a thin piece of tissue, and how it may break prematurely due to active lifestyle, attempt to define virginity as a man-made concept in place to restrict women or shame them for their lifestyle… lost many students during this feminist impartment.
Do I have to use a tampon? No, there are also panty liners, maxi pads, and menstrual cups!
What is a period, anyway? That’s complicated.

Let’s talk about sex
What is sex?
 Sex is intercourse between a man and a woman. Sex is also sharing physical pleasure with a partner. Sex is a biological drive to reproduce. In the 21st century, sex does not need to end in reproduction. 
Does it hurt? It can, but it shouldn’t. Every body is different, and when it is time you need to figure out what works for you.
What is masturbation? See, “figure out what works for you.” A healthy understanding of what brings an individual pleasure is vital for a partnership where each person experiences pleasure.
Should I use two condoms? Never!
Where do I learn about/get birth control? Research and cross-compare every method imaginable at Bedsider. Learn more, and find safe, legal, and discreet access to what you need at Planned Parenthood.

Boob stuff
Why do my boobs hurt? You’re growing! Puberty’s a bitch.
Is it normal to have hair on your nipples? Yup! (But it’s not, not normal if you don’t.)
Should I shave pubic hair? That is your choice! Same goes for armpits and legs. For some women, removing hair helps maintain personal hygiene. For others, hair serves as a defense against lint and other outside contaminants.
How do I wash my vagina? Think outside, not inside. Wash around the outside of the vulva with gentle soap and hands. Do not put soap or wash cloth inside the vagina, it is a self-cleaning mechanism. 
How many holes does a girl have? If you watched that Orange is the New Black Episode, you should know the answer by now. Thanks Sophia! If not, take this quiz, and keep count! (We had our students label diagrams of internal and external male and female anatomy, so that we were able to use clear language and differentiate between parts of the body throughout these conversations.)

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3 Things

 

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Photo by Entre Prises

Now that it is warm outside, I can’t wait to try out the Maggie Daley Climbing Wall in downtown Chicago! Now that I am a badass climber, I am psyched to spend my summer on the wall, and in the open air. I imagine people peeking out the windows of their apartment and seeing me at their level!

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Sometimes I feel like all of the food posts I write are about cake or salad. This represents the greater dichotomy between my health and my happiness, perhaps. I’ve learned that when it comes to the mint-chocolate combination, people love it or hate it. If you love it… how amazing does this look!

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I really, really wanted to attend Camp Man Repeller, and I was prepared to pay for the camp events and stay, but I could’t afford a plane ticket and since Chicago is still in school, I couldn’t drive to New York! I didn’t have enough personal days, and my car can’t really handle it. Next year. Next year. Anyway, it looks like their first year of Camp MR was a mad success. Check it out!

 

 

Force of Nature

REI has launched this great “Force of Nature” campaign, and as a company they have taken specific action to increase equality in experience and opportunity for women to be active outdoors. A direct quote about the quality of women’s gear: “We don’t just “shrink and pink” our clothing.” One of the important elements of this company policy is that they will have as many options for women as they do men- be it unisex options, or gear designed for women’s bodies, women will have the same variety and quality available to them as do men.

These things may seem small, but having access to resources is a major step towards equality in any context, and it is a move I stand behind. I feel a little better about all the money I spent at REI for my recent trip knowing that they are promoting equality outdoors. Read more about their “Force of Nature” project here.