Why “busy bragging” shouldn’t be a thing

Picture by The Typical Female Magazine
Picture by The Typical Female Magazine

“Slammed,” “buried,” “swamped,” and “overloaded.” No, I’m not describing a snowstorm hitting an Alaskan town. These are just a few synonyms for “busy” I’ve heard over the past semester as people swap scheduling woes. But these exchanges are far from just sharing a passing complaint. Now, running on four hours of sleep (if I’m lucky) and having a planner so decked out with appointments it’s barely legible, is a point of pride.

These “who’s busier?” throw downs aren’t a conversation. It’s an opportunity to one-up your fellow student, friend, or co-worker by showing them your time is more important, wanted, and needed. But the humble-brag you’re about to share on how you’re managing not just a plate-full of assignments and activities, but a freaking six course meal? Take a moment and sit at the table to reevaluate what you’re trying to accomplish.

The simple fact is everyone is busy. Maybe their manner of busy-ness differs from yours, but it is no less important. As a society, let’s stop the notion a schedule mimicking that of a campaigning presidential candidate equals success.

“To assume that being ‘busy’ (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is cool, or brag-worthy, or tweetable, is ridiculous. By lobbing these brags, endlessly puffing our shoulders about how ‘up to my neck’ we are, we’re missing out on important connections with family and friends, as well as personal time.

In addition to having entire conversations about how busy we are, we fail to share feelings with friends and family, ask about important matters, and realize that the ‘busy’ is something that can be put on hold for a little while.”

-Meredith Fineman, “Please stop complaining about how busy your are” Harvard Business Review

With Americans rating their work more highly than their personal health, it’s not surprising to hear the World Health Organization has found America to be the most anxious nation, with nearly one third of Americans suffering from anxiety in their lifetimes. It only adds a new level of competition when we are all trying to win the gold medal for “Busy Bee.”

Let’s change the name of the game. Instead of working hard, let’s work smart.

Constrain time spent on, well, time wasters (I’m looking at you Facebook and Twitter). Cut unnecessary meetings or projects. If you realize you’re just in the chess club for a vanity boost, check mate and bust out. Acknowledge attempting to “out-misery” someone isn’t a healthy use of time or energy.

Perhaps instead of  “buried,” “swamped,” and “overloaded,” your planner will begin to feel “productive,” “dynamic,” and “engaged.”

My morning routine: How I get up before 5 a.m.

Photo by Benjamin Combs
Photo by Benjamin Combs

Let me tell you folks, I love to watch a good sunrise. Why? Because that means I got to sleep in. Four days a week at 5:30 a.m., I’m trekking across campus with nary but a street lamp to guide me. Though this paints a rather dark picture (literally), after about three months of waking up before the sun, I would say I’ve perfected a painless morning routine.

10:15 p.m. – The night before is actually when a large amount of my morning is planned. At this point, I’m trying to wind down a bit before hitting the hay and do so by choosing my outfit for the next morning and packing my school bag. By organizing ahead of the morning rush, I avoid any mass confusion and save time.

A major point for me at this time is choosing my clothes for the next day. Hazy and sleepy-eyed, I wouldn’t trust myself to put together a trendy combo in the early a.m. This year I’m making the conscious effort to dress semi-professional during the weekdays. Look sharp, be sharp. So, prior planning prevent poor performance (thank you high school guidance counselor for that nugget of wisdom).

10:45 p.m. – Hopefully I’m in bed. Because my head is hitting the pillow around the same time some of my roommates are hitting the books, I wear a sleep mask to block out any extra light. After a final just-in-case-you-never-know check of my alarm, I’m on the expressway to dreamland.

4:45 a.m. – The ungodly hour is upon me. The alarm is ringing. My roommate has recently taken to the odd habit of jumping out bed, thinking it’s her alarm that is sounding off. No, no, dear. Go back and enjoy your two and a half more hours of rest (you lucky son of gun).

5 a.m. – After brushing my teeth and checking my phone (Facebook, Twitter for any news updates overnight), I hit the shower. My current favorite face cleanser is by First Aid Beauty as it doesn’t dry out my skin and the soft lather is welcoming in the morning. I follow up with my Boots Extracts Brazilian Nut Body Wash and if it’s a hair washing day, Herbal Essence Hello Hydration shampoo and conditioner.

5:15 a.m. – Out of the shower. Time to get dressed, put in contacts, moisturize (Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer), conceal (you don’t get up early without bags underneath your eyes, so I use Maybelline’s Fit Me concealer in the shade Fair), powder (obsessed with NYX’s Matte, Not Flat powder foundation). Throwing on some strawberry Chapstick, I’m feeling more like a real person. The final touch is approximately three spritz of Daisy perfume by Marc Jacobs.

5:35 a.m. – Made it to the TV studio. Unlock doors and begin making coffee (AKA LIFE).

7 a.m. – If the show is coming together well, I’ll take a few minutes to refill my coffee and eat a breakfast bar. If not, I’ll try to grab a yogurt parfait after the show around 9 a.m.

8:30 a.m. – Show time! The seconds before we countdown to live is my favorite part of the morning. Everything we’ve practiced and put together prior to this is all happening now. If you’d like to see what I’m talking about, check out our show’s Facebook page, Cedar Valley Today or follow us on Twitter, @cvtoday.

8:45 a.m. – Show is over! The team gathers for a break down of highs and lows and then I boot up the computer to send out story assignments for today’s crew.

At times, the morning can seem rushed, unforgiving and dark. But through organization, coffee and good attitudes, I’ve learned mornings are full of potential for those who wake up for it.

With age, comes wisdom: 22 things I’ve learned

Photo by Ian Schneider
It is what it is. It was what it was. Photo by Ian Schneider

While it’s absolutely true that birthdays only come once a year (shockingly just like Christmas and every other day of the year), the days and lessons learned in between continue to tick upwards.

And so, in the spirit of my 22nd birthday, I have prepared 22 bits and bobs I have learned over the 8,030 days I have inhabited the Earth with all of you. Strap in people because it’s about to get real.

  1. Birthdays should be celebrated! But every other day should be too.

A small bit of gratitude for something each day goes a long way. Recognizing this has literally been the accumulation of 22 years of living and I probably had a better grasp on it when I was three than I do now.

2. If you have five minutes, call your mom, dad, grandparent, dog.

Not all at the same time, of course. If you love someone, include them in the breaks and spaces of your time.

3. The person with the longest arms should always be taking the selfie.

So simple, and yet…

4. Know that a text is for quick communication, a phone call is for a conversation.

Let’s save our generation from a wave of early onset carpal tunnel syndrome.

5. Just in case, get a passport.

Even without any stamps in it, having one allows for the possibility.

6. Know how to make good coffee.

Everyone knows someone that needs coffee (note: it’s not “likes.” It’s “needs.”) Life is too short for bad coffee.

7. Be the person who has a Band-Aid, Tylenol, gum, and bobby pins with them at all times.

But don’t hand out hair-ties. You’ll grow bitter after you’ve given all yours away.

8. Everything in moderation. 

Life is a balance, in every aspect. Laughing often and crying too keeps you level.

9. Make sure your alarm clock is set to A.M. not P.M.

If you take one thing away from this list, this is the one! Life-saving move, right here!

10. Carry your computer charging cord with you at all times.

11. Same with headphones.

12. Ditto for cell phone cord. 

Basically, don’t be that person who can’t do anything because they let their computer/phone die.

14. Know that sometimes when your mom asks, “Is that what you’re wearing?”, she’s probably in the right. 

It’s hard to admit, but 80 percent of time it’s true.

15. When your mom says to wear a coat, boots, mittens, etc., she’s probably correct.

Mom > Weather Man

16. You don’t have to contour your face.

Make-up guru Bobbie Brown told The New York Post, ““As a beauty expert, I believe in individual beauty, and it’s just not my aesthetic. We don’t need to be contouring like the Kardashians.” Also, you can more effectively use your time.

17. If you think something is worth doing, recognize it’s worth doing well.

If you’re going to put in the effort to doing something, make the end product something you can be proud of. This motto helped me evaluate my priorities with the quality of work I was turning out.

18. Dress for the position above you.

Person: “Why are you dressed up today?” Me: “Because there isn’t a reason not to.” Dress sharp, feel sharp, perform sharp.

19. If it’s green, it’s probably good for you.

This applies to nature, food, and sometimes, money.

20. When others are talking, try not to interrupt.

It says you think what you’re saying is more important than anything anyone else has to say. That’s gross.

21. Always know the names of the president and vice-president, state governor, and names of your significant’s other family members.

Knowing your way around current events and issues looks #flawless at any age. The Skimm can help with that. Sadly, there is no Skimm Guide to your S.O.’s redwood of a family tree.

22. Lastly, be prepared to learn more every year.

This list will probably be entirely new next year and with additional advice. And that’s how it should be.

And so, dear reader, what have you learned with time and age? Leave your advice in the comments below.

Throwing Shade is Only Cool if You’re a Tree

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We’ve heard it, seen it, tweeted it, posted it, and pinned it. From celebrities casting “shade” like Redwoods in the forest to little backhanded remarks in our Facebook feed, it’s becoming cool not to be nice.

Throwing shade: “To talk trash about a friend or acquaintance, to publicly denounce or disrespect. When throwing shade it’s immediately obvious to on-lookers that the thrower, and not the throwee, is the bitchy, uncool one”

Thank you, Urban Dictionary, for perfectly describing this gross social phenomenon.

There is a celebrated history of shading (can I make it a verb like that?). From the conniving and beautiful Mean Girl Regina George and company (whose funny insults can now assault you from T-shirts), celebrities galore, and the cast of Real Housewives of Wherever, giving sass is almost an Olympic sport.

Let’s clear this up right now. Throwing shade? It only seems cool on TV. In true reality (meaning the life the rest of us live without walk-in closets the size of a kitchen), no one wants to hang with the girl or guy who only rags on people and then attempts to disguise their critique under the umbrella of, “Oh, I wasn’t talking about you.”

I get it though. There is that undeniable rush (a high Walter White had nothing to do with) that comes with a well-timed zinger and dramatic side-eye.

“Conventional theories of moral behavior and decision-making assume that unethical behavior triggers negative emotions,” Psychology Today wrote in “Warning: Being Bad Can Feel Good.”

“These theories help support the idea that we are internally motivated to do the right thing, because it makes us feel bad not to.”

Nice theory, but nope. A study by researchers Nicole Ruedy, Francesca Gino, Celia Moore, and Maurice Schweitzer, at the University of Washington, the London Business School, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania found that during their study, The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior, people who cheated on a test didn’t feel a rush of guilt overtake them, but rather a positive emotional boost. This boost was dubbed a “cheaters high.”

The researchers further said “once people have this experience, it may be difficult to resist future unethical behavior, especially when someone can derive both material and psychological rewards’ from the behavior.”

And that’s why it can feel good to be bad. But are the “material and psychological rewards” worth the brief rush and the cheap laughs? Let’s vote no. Let’s support and promote each other without belittling.

And if you’re still really into throwing shade? Help save the Redwood trees. I hear they need it.

Loners Unite (separately, please)

Alone with yourself doesn't equal #ForeverAlone.
Alone with yourself doesn’t equal #ForeverAlone.

Friday night in summer. I can hear the cars buzzing, kids laughing, radios blaring “Bad Blood” and where am I?

Snuggled up on my couch reading or watching some YouTube vlogs, completely and utterly by myself. Am I sad about this current state? Against society’s social stigmas, I am completely in favor of this self imposed isolation. Being alone does not mean I am lonely.

And that’s what unnerves people the most. Author Sara Maitland puts it quite well in her book, “How to Be Alone.”

“…being alone can be beneficial and it is certainly not detrimental to well-being, provided the individuals have freely chosen it. A good deal of the ‘scientific evidence’ for the danger [of solitude] to physical and mental health comes from studies of people in solitary confinement.”

For the social butterflies of the world, I sometimes wonder if all those activities, brunches, running clubs are really things they are truly interested in or go just to not be alone. Can people really be themselves only when surrounded by other people?

That is a slightly concerning proposition. It opens up the kind of questions that would normally come up in a office with a leather chair, large tomes of Freud, and a lady with a salt and pepper hairdo with an impressive doctorate from Stanford. “If you can’t be alone with your own thoughts, what about yourself bothers you so?” and “Am I not complete without someone else?” Forgive me, Jerry Maguire, but please hit the self-actualization pause button before we go an further, eh?

Simply being able to be alone is a kind of time and space gift. Dear twenty-somethings, please get to know yourselves without the bars, brunches, and outings. Your life does not have to be like Monica and Chandlers’ apartment, filled with “Friends” all the time (completely unrealistic, simply in that fact). Give it time and your life will fill itself so full, “alone time” will sound like the next new Disney fairy tale.

And my dear Millennials, let us banish the super stigmatization of loners, shall we? As Maitland writes, “Fear muddles things up; it is difficult to think clearly when you are scared. When we are frightened we tend to project this onto other people, often as anger: anyone who seems different starts to feel threatening…At the moment a very popular media-inspired terror is the threat of the ‘loner.'”

Let’s make the new form of acceptable solitude be the kind that doesn’t have to be a solo adventure (really the most dangerous type of isolation). I will write my thanks to you all when I have a quiet Friday night by myself.



Mentors offer Millennials advice beyond their years

As young Millennials encounter older generations in the workplace, relationships can be built between employees that benefit both sides through a process called mentoring. A mentor is a fellow employee at the company or one who also works in the same field. They can be someone a Millennial can discuss workplace issues or concerns as well as simple everyday questions.

Baby Boomer Sara Jansen said she thinks mentors aren’t just a passing fad.

“I see mentors being very important in the next few years as different generations are coming into the workforce. I think a mentor would be an asset with the younger generation helping them learn how to handle office situations, how to handle office meetings and how to deal with interoffice situations,” Jansen said.

Jansen said mentors had never been offered at any of her jobs, though it would have been helpful.

 “I have never had a mentor at any of my jobs.  At [my current job], I had about three weeks training from the lady who I was replacing,” Jansen said. “I think a mentor would be very useful, especially in companies that are large, have many corporate offices throughout the country and internationally. When you deal with several different cultures you run into many different ways of thinking and views on how companies will handle situations.”

 Mentorship – It takes two

According to an article by Levo League, an online community of professional women who share the advice and tools required to achieve career goals, “mentorship is ultimately about collaboration, sharing ideas, asking for feedback and not being afraid to ask for help or advice.”

 Young Millennial and Wartburg College student Angela Zook served as a mentor during her high school years and believes the relationship created between a mentor and a mentee is incredibly valuable.

 “Both people involved in mentoring are positively affected. The mentee has someone he or she can go to for questions about anything and has a role model,” Zook said. “The mentor gains leadership skills in helping give life lessons to someone.”

As a student, Zook said her current mentors are mostly faculty at her college, but looks forward to finding new mentors outside of college.

“I think mentors are important in all aspects of life, especially in the workplace when you first start out a job. You need advice, the best way to carry out a task and even life lessons,” Zook said.

Beneficial to all

Before asking someone to become your mentor, Management Mentors suggests sitting down with the mentor prospect and really getting to know them. Later, send a formal email asking them to consider the possibility of mentorship.

 Jansen said though the workplace is full of different generations, mentorship does not just benefit younger employees.

“Generations think differently now and have different opinions on how business works,” Jansen said. “They could both help each other bridge that generation gap by working together more.”

Believe in the power of hustle

After wrapping up the first week of my summer internship, I came across an old essay I had written for class. I’ve decided to publish it, hoping that Gary Vaynerchuk’s completely realistic check-in can give us all the shift kick in the pants we sometimes need. Please check out the above video before reading my essay.

Legacy is greater than currency 

Content is king. From my first day at Wartburg College this concept was burned into my mind as I began to build my portfolio for a future career in journalism. But in this ever changing world of various legacy and new media platforms, what does it even mean to be a journalist? Gary Vaynerchuk hit the nail on the head when he said everyone is consuming content everywhere and on different platforms. I predict that within five years, our concepts of legacy media will be entirely different. The people that control the newspapers, television, and radio will no longer be in control. The world that previously tuned into the 5 p.m. newscast every evening is now so busy either hustling or watching reruns of “Lost,” that they don’t have time for it.

Pledge allegiance to the struggle

So, where does that leave me? My original high school plan (graduate, work at a television station or newspaper as a producer or editor) doesn’t seem to fit into this new realm of media. Does the traditional newscast or newspaper bring value to future generations’ lives? When I asked myself this question, I believe that it’s a solid no.

My generation and those behind me are not going to continue with the traditional news/media format because “that’s how it has been done.” The term “has been” means washed up, tired and no longer functioning. Recognizing this, I see a niche market like Vaynerchuk discussed.

People want and need their news repackaged into short, quick segments, accessible on social media whenever they please. You can already see this idea strongly taking shape on Facebook with the ABC World News Tonight with David Muir’s Facecast and their new content geared specifically towards Xbox users on Xboxes.

I am also a huge fan of a theSkimm, the daily email newsletter that gives you everything you need to start your day and be in-the-know without having to scour CNN or a newspaper for the headlines. As theSkimm states, “they do the reading for you – across subject lines and party lines – and break it down with fresh editorial content in a witty and understandable way.” When their company mission is “We are changing the way you consume news,” I feel like we are on the same page.

Anticipating what’s next

Forward thinkers as seen above are groups I want to be part of. I want to help create the push towards quality storytelling available across numerous platforms… where the audience already is ready and waiting to consume content. Vaynerchuk discussed how changes in media consumption are a huge factor that people have not totally wrapped their heads around and he is correct.

Branching out to try new things is necessary to remain relevant. Changing the platform does not mean you have to sacrifice quality content. Content remains king. When I am long passed, I hope that future generations of journalists remember this mantra, but I want to help make the news world, in whatever form I leave it, a sector that is more flexible and adaptable than it currently is.

Hustle is the most important word

How can I start now? I need to pay my dues. Before I start telling the news industry that it has to change, I need to better understand it. I need to wade into its muddy depths and fish out what works from what doesn’t and build from there, whilst staying connected to organizations like theSkimm (I’m currently a Skimm’bassador) to see how they evolve over time. And work. Learn from those ahead of me and improve on what they already know. Make changes and then make changes to the changes.

This past year, I have been listening to quite a bit of the female rapper Iggy Azalea, in particular her single “Work.” On some level, I believe Iggy Azalea and Vaynerchuk would be great business partners because they understand the concepts of passion and hustle. As Iggy raps, “You can hate it or love, the hustle and the struggle is the only thing I’m trusting.”

Every opportunity to create and learn is an opportunity to put myself in a position to succeed. I have to trust in the power of hustling know that only I am responsible for me and my happiness. If I can remain as passionate as I am currently about the future of journalism, the world is at my feet.