The Career Girl’s Survival Guide

This week, I hit the six month mark at my new job. Which also happens to be my first career job. Which also happens to be the first time I have ever worked an 8 to 5 schedule for longer than a summer break.

These past six months have been a whirlwind, and I’m astonished at how quickly they flew by. It seems like just yesterday I was preparing to take the big plunge. The week leading up to my start date was filled with excitement and I was absolutely, completely, terrified.

Then after what seemed like forever, it was upon me: the beginning of this new and very important chapter in my story. The mornings were rough. Really rough. The days were long. The adjustment from running around a restaurant six days a week to sitting in front of a computer all day was by no means painless. I was hurled out of my comfort zone and into the new world of office life.

I struggled. I work among some brilliant minds with intimidating business sense and creative vision. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know if I fit in. And, I cried. A lot. Mostly at home or on the train ride to home, but a few times I hid in the bathroom at work. Not my proudest moments, but they were authentic and necessary. I had no idea what I was doing and I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get it.

But, slowly, I started to. I became more comfortable. The days got a little easier as I settled into my role, and I started to become more sure of myself. Around month three, waking up in the morning became just a little less miserable- I’m still not a morning person, and I don’t think I ever will be. Around month four I felt less like a baby giraffe walking for the first time and more like a duck swimming above water. By month five I felt I was finally starting to show my worth.

Now here we are, six months down and an unknown path before me. The only thing I know for sure is that whatever I’m doing, and however I’m feeling, it’s exactly where I am supposed to be. Here is a list of six essentials that have kept me afloat during the process of settling in and finding my place. I hope that in some way they can help you as much as they have helped me. Enjoy!

1. Coffee. Self explanatory and so so necessary. I’m partial to vanilla lattes, but any form of caffeine makes me a nicer person in the mornings.

2. The Word Yes. Say yes. Don’t complain. You’re not too busy, you’re not too inexperienced, and you’re not too anything except willing and able. No task is too big or too small for you when you are just starting out, or even when you have years of experience. Repeat after me: Yes, I am happy to help with that. Yes, I would love to learn more. Yes, yes, yes. 

3. A Motivational Mug. Since you must have a mug at your desk to hold all the caffeine that keeps you going, you might as well make it motivational- reminding you to Get. Shit. Done.

4. A Confidant. When things get rough and you need advice, or you just want to tell someone you love about your day, you need a confidant. This is a source of solid advice- someone who you trust, admire, and who you can bring anything to. I am one lucky girl because I have a whole team of confidants, a veritable posse. And you know who the champion of the the team is? My mother. You are probably familiar with that saying that it takes a village to raise a child…well it has taken a posse to help me persevere. Go team, go.

5. Appropriate Work Attire. When I first got hired, I had grandiose dreams of wearing pencil skirts and kitten heels every day. Reality check: everyone at my office wears jeans (mostly), including the CEO, and company-wide the dress attire is always casual. And who am I kidding? I hate heels! Currently, my favorite go-to is a pair of Banana Republic black ankle pants, a flowy, feminine blouse and cute flats. No skirts, no heels, no fuss.  Sleep is more important than looking all done up anyway.

6. Something to Aspire To. Every  successful career girl has to have goals, both long and short term. I read recently that finding a mentor can be incredibly beneficial to your professional development, and I agree wholeheartedly. #GIRLBOSS, Daring Greatly, You are a Badass, and Lean In are wonderful books that have given me lots of motivation and insight. Read them and be awesome too.

Work hard. Find your path. And dream big, ladies. 🙂

xoxo

Sarah

*Top photo via Etsy. You can purchase the mug here

Since When

Since when did asking for help become a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity to develop a relationship? Since when did asking a question come to represent a lack of knowledge, rather than seizing an opportunity to foster better communication? Since when did reaching out become something you stop and question, rather than embracing the opportunity to learn something new and see another’s perspective?

Everyone has shortcomings. No-one knows everything. Yet, somehow, we are living in a world where we’re embarrassed when we do not have the answers. We are afraid we will look stupid for asking certain questions. We fear we will be judged for lacking the knowledge. We know we will be questioned for not being one hundred percent sure of the answer.

This sounds backwards right? No-one has all the answers and nobody is perfect- not me, not Obama, not even Oprah. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. The problem is that we don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to appear weak or unprepared. I think the biggest mistake we are making in always worrying about messing up, or trying to go it alone, is that we are not letting ourselves be vulnerable. We try to be the problem-solvers, the fixers, and the I-can-do-it-on-my-own-ers, which creates distance from everyone we come into contact with throughout the day.

This past weekend, I did some damage at Home Goods. This is the part where I must confess that I prefer to outsource certain projects. Like hanging things. So, I asked my neighbor to come over and help me. Could I have done everything on my own? Sure. I know how to operate a drill and a hammer (I am woman, hear me roar!). Easily and in under two hours? Heck no. Instead, I chose to ask for a favor and doing so does not make me weak or dependent. In reaching out and asking for help I was inviting friendship in. I was embracing the opportunity to let someone in to my life rather than declaring that I can do everything alone.

Back in April, I wrote about my struggle with vulnerability. The Vulnerability Project was a declaration of my insecurities, my fears, and my desire to change. I made a promise that I would make a wholehearted effort to open myself up to new experiences and to engage fully in life, come hell or high water. I made a promise to dare greatly.

That is since when I started trying to assume less and to listen more. That is since when I started asking for help rather than sitting alone in my struggles. That is since when I started letting people see the softer sides of me, the pieces that are nowhere near polished or perfect but are completely authentic. Engaging in vulnerability is challenging.- asking questions, initiating conversation and getting outside of what is comfortable. Sometimes I seem less knowledgeable that I am. Sometimes people think I am weak. Sometimes people hurt me. What then? Then I feel the feelings, all of them, and that is the gift that I receive. Each experience teaches me a little bit more about myself and I get a little bit better at being vulnerable. And that, my friends, is progress.

How are you at reaching out, letting others in, and being vulnerable?

xoxo

Sarah     

ps. Check out my beautiful new pallet art, a custom piece that was designed just for me and is now hanging proudly in the entrance to my bedroom. My dear friend Nick is the artist, and if you love it he is more than happy to create something special just for you :). He accepts orders via email at ncarlsongolf@yahoo.com.

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*Top photo via Pinterest

The Big Plunge

It really is astounding how quickly the universe will work to make something happen once you decide you want it badly enough.  

After weeks of interviewing, sleepless nights, hoping, wishing, and praying- everything changed. I have accepted a position in the field I am passionate about, actually using my degree, working for a company I am already so in love with I could pinch myself. Had you told me five years ago that I would be tickled pink at being presented with health coverage, paid vacation time, and a 401K incentive- I would have told you that you were absolutely nuts. But now here I am, twenty six and couldn’t possibly be happier that I no longer have to fly under the radar without health insurance. Oh how times change!

I’m sure that not everyone is as easily thrilled as me. I’ll take my wins where I can get them. One piece of advice that I was given awhile back and try to follow religiously: always be in a state of gratitude. The universe is far more likely to help you accomplish the goals you set if you are constantly giving thanks.

Despite my attitude of gratitude, I have to admit that I never thought it would take me this long to get started. I never thought I would have to fail so many times, in so many different ways. I never knew I could fail so many times; then get right up, brush myself off and try again. Oftentimes, over the past few years, it has felt as though I have had two hands tied behind my back while the world pummels my front. Trust the process, I told myself. What is meant to be will happen. 

And it did. 

In an instant my world was turned on its axis. Gone will be my schedule of days free and working evenings with a twenty-something hour work week; replaced with rising early to work a full and productive eight hour day. Something I have never, NEVER, done. My whole adult life I have been working in restaurants, or in school AND working at a restaurant, or (for a brief stint) working in a medical office AND a restaurant. Until the new job offer came in, and faced with having to let go of my old way of life, I hadn’t even realized a certain truth that resonated within me.

The truth is…I love my restaurant job. I know that serving food to hungry people isn’t brain surgery, and sometimes us servers joke that we could train a monkey to do our job, but really it’s a tad bit ridiculous how much money people throw at me for the joke amount of hours I work. And the best part? It’s fun. I’m not kidding, like really really fun. I work with an absolutely amazing group of people. My coworkers are some of the kindest, most supportive, most dedicated individuals I have ever been blessed to meet. It is literally impossible to walk into that place at the beginning of the shift and not have a roaring good time while I am there. Those beautiful people, my coworkers, are constantly cheering one another on, making the work hours go by quickly and turning any crummy mood around. We are each others’ cheerleaders, lending a hand or an ear whenever it is called for. And also when it isn’t. My mangers are just as awesome. When I think of my place of work, that huge feeling of gratitude takes over. I am just so blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know all of these amazing people, to work side-by-side with them, and feel so lucky to call them my friends.

When I think about the change that is about to happen this coming Monday, fear threatens to take over. After a moment, I allow the fighter within to speak up loudly, telling my inner self that living in fear is for the weak.  Doubt is for those with no faith in their future or confidence in their journey. I will never gain anything if I allow myself to shrivel up into a fear-based ball. I believe in myself, in my story, and in my potential. I don’t have any time to waste on on being fearful, I have wasted enough already by not pursuing my dreams. I take comfort in the belief, and faith, that there is a plan set for me. I just don’t get to know what it is.

So here I am, about to take the biggest plunge in my career as a twenty-something woman trying to figure it all out. Maybe it will be perfect, maybe I’ll hate every minute. But my gut tells me that everything is going to work out just as it should and that I am in for one beautiful ride.

xoxo

Sarah