Kids: A Psa

No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, we’re planning to have kids, but when that happens is not your concern.

As Jake and I close in on our first marriage anniversary, it has not escaped my notice that one question seems to permeate so many of my discussions lately: “when are you guys having kids?” While most people are genuinely just trying to make conversation or mean the question to tease, I’m becoming more and more annoyed by it. I expect this question from my parents, in-laws, and grandparents, but if that’s not you, I honestly don’t want to hear it.

Yes, Jake and I would love to have kids. But our timing and intentions are not really anyone’s business but our own. We have ideas and plans for how we would like to spend our limited time together before parenthood and we’d like to accomplish as much on our list as possible.

We know our plans and lives are not our own and if God chooses to bless us with a baby earlier than expected, we’ll welcome him or her with open, loving arms. But we’d also like to enjoy our time together before that happens.

So please, before you ask a friend/coworker/sibling/couple/stranger when they’re planning to have kids, remember that it’s not really your business. If and when they choose to produce offspring, they’ll let you know. Until then, pray that their marriage will be strengthened in this time without children and kindly keep your mouth shut.

How to Adult: Looking Like an Adult (Even When You Don’t Feel Like One)

Most days, I feel like a hot mess trying to adult. But that doesn’t mean I have to look like one…

How to Adult: Looking Like an Adult (Even When You Don't Feel Like One)Most of my life I’ve looked older than my age. This was cool in high school when everyone wants to look older but is considerably less cool now. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been carded getting drinks and most of the high school girls I hang out with at church are confused about my age because I don’t act a whole lot like the married adult I am sometimes.

I used to think that changing the way I dress would help me to look and feel my own age and it did, just not in the ways I wanted it to. In college, I took my new found freedom of dress (before college I wore uniforms every day for school) and wore all the things I wished I could have worn in high school. While this did make me look more my age, I also found that I wasn’t taken seriously as much as I would have liked.

The way we present ourselves sends a message to the world about who we are and what we want. I’m not saying it’s time to go out and replace everything in your closet with a power suit (although if that’s what you want to do, more power to you…get it? power…ba dum tssss). But I think cleaning up our look with very little effort can go a long way. Even when we don’t feel like adults who know what we’re talking about, we can still command respect with amazingly small changes to our appearance. Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • Wear clothes that FIT. This is a tough one for me since my weight has been fluctuating a lot in the last year or so. I realize that weight presents a challenge to this goal but I promise, wearing the right sizes makes such a huge impact because clothing that is too small or too large tends to look childish. Pick your clothes not by the size number (because we all know those are bogus and there is no standard) but by how they fit your body. This goes for jeans, too. If you find jeans that you love but are a few inches too long, it’s well worth the extra few bucks to get them hemmed to the proper length.

 

  • Clean your glasses. I’ve worn glasses for the last 20 years of my life so I rarely notice when they’re smudgy and need a cleaning just because I’m so used to it. What I don’t typically think about is that even though I can see through smudges perfectly fine, other people can’t. Keep your glasses clean so that people can easily make eye contact with you without thinking about how nasty your life must be if your glasses are that gross.

 

  • Keep your shoes clean, too. This is another one that’s hard for me because I kind of love my nasty, beat-up Converse. But they don’t look great. We don’t think about it often, but shoes probably take the greatest wear and tear out of all the items we wear regularly. Learn the proper way to take care of your shoes and you’ll look a lot more like you know things about life than like a grungy, angst-filled teenager (even if that teenager is your spirit animal).

 

  • Speaking of wear and tear, retire items of clothing that have seen better days. Or at least don’t wear them in public. Items with pilling, fraying, holes, and tears are no good in your efforts to trick the world into believing your adulthood. Even if they’re some of your favorite pieces, it’s time to let go and find new pieces that you’ll love just as much.

 

  • Roll your sleeves better. I know personally when I roll my sleeves, it’s usually because I’m hot and bothered about something (or because I live in Texas and it’s just always hot). But there are ways of rolling shirt sleeves that don’t make you look like the hot mess you may feel like when you go to roll ‘em up. It’s all about giving off a clean exterior, people!

 

  • Take off your old makeup. Yeah, I know, you got in late last night and went straight to bed and your makeup this morning actually doesn’t look half bad. Wrong. Your skin does not appreciate when you go to bed without washing your face and overtime it will show. So, not only does day two makeup not usually look super professional, it will incur the wrath of your skin. Keep makeup remover wipes by your bed if that helps and learn about why your face does not appreciate going to bed dirty.

 

  • Keep hair ties away from your wrist. Oof, this one is hard! I’m so guilty of constantly keeping a black hair tie on my right wrist, I had a tan line there this summer. I’ve heard it’s not awesome-looking to permanently wear hair ties like bracelets but I’m so accustomed to it, I don’t think to look anywhere BUT my wrist these days. However, hair ties have recently been linked to health issues like infections and issues with blood circulation. While you probably have no reason to worry, remember to keep your hair ties clean, wash your hands regularly, and try your best to decrease the amount of time that hair ties stay around your wrist. Also, stretch out new hair ties before keeping them on your wrist so that blood flow is never cut off.

 

  • Ladies, put your bra straps away. I have always felt like this particular strategy for looking more respectable was a no-brainer but recently, it’s kind of come back in style to expose parts of your bra, particularly if it’s pretty and lacy. Keeping your undergarments under your clothes as they were designed to be looks more like you’re asking to be taken seriously than the alternative. And for that matter, wearing bras that fit well can change your look dramatically, not to mention raise your confidence level. So let your pretty bras be a confidence-boosting secret rather than showing them off to the world and notice the difference in how people react.

 

  • Do away with chipping nail polish. Clean nails go a long way in presenting yourself well. Chipped nail polish gives off a young, immature vibe so either take the time to keep your nail polish looking salon fresh or make sure to remove it when it starts looking less than. Next time you go in for that handshake with clean nails you can feel a lot more like the adult you are rather than the kid you feel like.

How we present ourselves says a lot more about who we want to be than we realize most days. You don’t have to completely change your personal style to be taken seriously, though. These small little changes can go so far in showing the world who we are and what we want. What do you think? Have you tried any of these on your own? What was the response you noticed? I’d love to hear your stories about this!

When Shelves Ruin the Day

When shelves strike…

When Shelves Ruin the DayJake and I have been married for almost a year now and most days we shake our heads and wonder why people kept (and continue to keep) telling us that marriage is hard. Almost the second we got engaged that was the warning friends and family would leave us with, which, when you think about it, is pretty depressing.

I appreciate the warnings and I fully believe that marriage will only get harder with kids and life changes and all sorts of things we’ve yet to encounter but, for the moment at least, life has been good…except when we hang shelves in our condo.

We’ve done a lot of small, DIY home improvement projects to our tiny little home in the year that we’ve had it and every single one of them has turned out perfectly. Except, recently we bought some shelves to hang over the bed.

Because our bedroom is so small and our bed so large, the most functional place to put the bed is in the corner, and Jake has been sleeping against the wall with no bedside table since he moved in after our wedding in January. And because he codes late into the night, he had no safe place to leave his laptop when he eventually wanted to sleep. So for months, I was sleeping next to a man who unconsciously tries to claim the whole bed for himself…and his laptop.

Fed up, we went to Target to invest in some shelving to resolve the situation. Now, in my brain, we’re not only getting shelves that Jake can safely store his laptop on at night, but that I can display photos and store some of the books that have been piling up on my side of the bed. We could center these shelves above the bed and have both a beautiful and efficient storage solution.

Now, Target is great but they don’t typically sell just one long shelf to center above the bed. But they do have very nice shorter shelves that are the perfect finish to match the rest of our bedroom set. So, in my brain, I’m thinking we get one shorter and one longer and center them above the bed. The shorter shelf can hold my books and the longer one can be Jake’s bedside shelf for his computer and whatever else he needs to store.

My sweet, loving, kind husband, however, had a very different idea to put up the shelves in an L shape in the corner over his side of the bed. Much to my dismay, he proceeded to hang the shelves as he saw in his brain without really talking through my idea first. This put me in a bad mood most of the day which obviously put him in a bad mood, too, and ruined what could have been a lovely day.

Marriage isn’t hard until it is. Until you realize that you’re this person who has their own brain living with another person who has an entirely different brain and the two brains don’t have some kind of Google technology telling them everything that’s happening with the other one. (That would be cool, though. Get on that, Google.)

I know marriage will get harder than putting up shelves because so much of life is harder than putting up shelves. But I also know that God used that experience to teach Jake and I about expectations, communication, and not being selfish and expecting to get our way.
So maybe marriage is harder than I think it is because the little things like putting up shelves are shaping our character, making us more like Christ in small doses, rather than sanctifying us in one fail swoop. Hard or easy, baby steps or one big leap, I’m grateful to be married to Jake.

Just got to remember that we’re not Chip and Joanna Gaines.

How to Adult: Interviewing as an Introverted Millennial

Interviewing as an introvert is definitely socially draining. Here’s how I battle social awkwardness and put my best foot forward.

Adobe Spark (4)Interviewing as an introvert feels like an uphill battle, amiright? It seems like companies really like the gregarious, outgoing person and tend to overlook the less assuming personalities. And interviewing as a millennial can be just as difficult in a world full of baby-boomers who may or may not carry negative sentiments toward our generation. So how does one combat such obstacles in a socially diverse but equally awkward world? I’ve got some ideas…

All the Yes: 

1) Sleep your head off. Being rested before an interview is a great idea for anyone but especially for introverts. You know the social awkwardness and pressure that’s about to ensue so go ahead and take care of your body. Fall asleep to calming music or a good book to make sure your brain turns off and let sweet, energizing unconsciousness sweep over you.

2) Caffeine: friend or foe? I’m strongly affected by caffeine so timing when I drink my blessed Dr. Pepper is a huge thing on interview day. I know that my blood pressure and pulse will rise automatically from nerves before an interview and I also know I’ll have to pee if I finish a whole can. Being mindful of when I drink my caffeine is a must before I step into that boardroom or office. 

3) Play up your age – Millennial style. On a planet ruled by baby-boomers, millennials sometimes get a bad rap for our commitment phobia and free spirits. But here’s the thing: millennials will soon take over so we might as well humbly play up the strengths of our generation while we can. Characteristics like great multitasking, fast learning, being technologically savvy, and generally more open-minded make us great additions to the work force. 

4) Own your place on the social spectrum. Play up your strengths as an introvert. What are those you might ask? Oh, well, I’m glad you brought it up. Introverts tend to be direct in conversation, work exceptionally well behind the scenes, are great in one-on-one interactions and make the best listeners, all qualities that employers need in their mix. Don’t be intimated by Gregarious Jerry over there. You’re needed equally, if not more.

5) Prepare, prepare, prepare. This is a big one for anyone interviewing but especially for introverts who need to feel socially comfortable to let their awesomeness truly shine. Research the person(s) you’ll be meeting with ahead of time and get to know their online selves before meeting them in person. Learn as much as you can about the company and where they stand in it so that you’ve got a sense of knowing them before you actually know them, you know? It’ll make a huge difference in being relaxed and approachable when the time comes!

6) Tell your story. Interviews are all about getting to know each other, right? They’re a little like dating in that each party wants to hear the other’s story to know if they can move forward together. So think of your interview like telling your own professional story. Keep conversation decently casual and just speak about the professional journey that brought you to that moment, sitting in that swivel chair, in that boardroom or office. Just don’t forget to listen to their story, too! 

And Some No’s: 

1) Don’t try to be something you’re not. No one likes a faker and if you’re not real in your interview, you could end up in a job you hate, one that degrades you or completely socially drains you. Be confident in who God made you to be. Own your age. Own your introversion.

2) Don’t downplay your awesomeness. Introverts have a strong aversion to the spotlight so they tend to avoid the radar when people want to sing their praises. My challenge to you is this: own the spotlightBe proud of the things you have accomplished and then turn the spotlight on the company and explain how you can produce the same kinds of awesomeness in this position. 

What do you think? What kinds of things do you battle when you interview? How do you fight them?

How My Communication Degree Sets Me Apart

They told me having a liberal arts degree would make finding a job hard. I disagree. Here’s a few reasons how my Comm degree helps me stand out!

Adobe Spark (1)Whenever people hear that I work in Quality Assurance, they usually assume that I studied English in college. That’s a pretty fair assumption, I would say, but not accurate in the least. I majored in Communication Studies and while that’s by no means an English degree, I learned some incredibly important things that will help me no matter where I go professionally. Here are four reasons I believe my Communication degree sets me apart from other liberal arts degrees:

  1. Big Picture v. Smaller Details. As a Comm major, I was trained exceptionally well that the structure and flow of my writing was just as important as my content and the grammar that made it readable. This allowed me to better develop the ability to keep the thesis or focus of the writing in mind while also making sure my t’s were crossed and i’s dotted. This skill is particularly important for in QA where details are imperative but keeping an eye on a project’s bigger picture is just as important.
  2. Effective Communication. A Communications degree is essentially a degree in how people send and receive messages. It’s all about effective ways to say what you want to say in a way that is easily understood. A lot of that involves understanding the implications of words and their nuances within the context of the writing. This is sort of the messier version of keeping the big picture in mind where so much of how I communicate with other teams is through email and chatting.
  3. Persuasion and Marketing. Where would a Communication major be without a proper understanding of rhetoric? Rhetoric, or the art of persuasive speaking or writing, was a huge focus in my program, something I am incredibly grateful for. Knowing how to write persuasively is a skill that carries over into SO MANY areas of life, blogging included! Though it may not always be something directly related to the work in QA, it is an incredibly useful tool for anyone going into the professional world.
  4. Cultural Context. My education has taught me how to make effective arguments, but it’s also taught me that what I have to say is only part of a much larger cultural conversation. Understanding that what I do makes a cultural impact, even if it’s as small as suggesting that a sentence needs a comma, goes a long way in helping me keep my perspective that my work matters in the grand scheme of things.

That’s all I have for now. What do you think? Are you using your degree in a different professional field? Any fellow Comm Studies nerds out there?