Recipes: Roasted tomatoes

Welcome to the first in a series of genuinely simple recipes I’ll be posting to help move a little closer to the balance of eating good food that isn’t complicated and also won’t break the bank. The recipes will also be catalogued on my Resources page.

This is one of my favorite things to cook and eat because it feels special, while still being practical and versatile.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart grape tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves (4 if they’re small), mostly peeled
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to tase
  • fresh rosemary & oregano to taste (Italian seasoning also works well in a pinch)

(Note: Normally I make double this because we serve it at barbecues and get-togethers with friends, but if you’re just trying it out or prefer smaller servings, this is great.)

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Pour tomatoes into glass baking dish so that they are roughly one even layer (one or two on top is no big deal, but not many should be stacked)
  3. Add olive oil, enough so that tomatoes are about half-covered
  4. Use a garlic press to crush cloves into mixture (if you don’t have a garlic press, you can crush them on a cutting board and then mince it)
  5. Mix well
  6. Bake for 20ish minutes — my oven runs hot so they only needed 20, but a slower oven or a larger batch may need more time
  7. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes
  8. Add rosemary and oregano, stir, and allow to finish cooling
  9. Enjoy over pasta or served on baguette slices with cheese (creamy gouda is best)

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Cost about $6, makes about 4 servings

Shoutout to my boyfriend for introducing me to this recipe and being better at making it than I am. What are some of your go-to recipes? Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up. Happy eating!

Comparison is a losing game

One of the most distinctly negative personal realizations I’ve come to in the last year or so has been that I am far more capable of and prone to jealousy than I thought. I’ve never really been that type of person, and prided myself on that.

Until. Until living circumstances shifted and I found myself feeling like a little kid after their parents bring home the new baby. Until friends had full-time jobs right out of school and my plan still, well, didn’t feel like much of a plan. Until friends were moving forward in their personal lives and there wasn’t anything I could do about mine.

As much as I really am happy for all the people in these examples, I was surprised at how bitterly I wished I was in the same position. All the negativity I was feeling wasn’t directed at the people around me; rather, it’s a discontentment with my own circumstances because I got way too caught up in comparing my life to theirs. I don’t want to beat a dead horse on the whole “comparing yourself to others isn’t good for anyone” message, but there is truth to it. You’re you. They’re them. You will have different issues and different successes. Over time, comparison will hurt your self-happiness and can make it more difficult to connect with and care unselfishly about those people.

The decade after graduating high school is no longer just one fork in the road we’ve all been on up to now. Now the paths forks, twists, and turns, moving us at different paces and in different directions. It can feel strange, but it’s how we grow.

Of course, knowing that isn’t enough to stop bad thought patterns in their tracks. Maybe if I had done X, Y, and/or Z differently I’d be happier with my situation. While there are definitely things I could have done better, most of them were thankfully very minor. What helps the most is knowing I wouldn’t change the major life decisions I’ve made, which means for the most part I chose where I am now, and that I’m more or less where I’m meant to be.

Each of our paths is different, and they will continue to diverge and converge. Hopefully that means we run into some great friends along the way, and that friends whose paths differ from us will be able to teach us more than we would have known on our own.

What challenges and happy moments have you found on your path? Feel free to let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up. As always, thanks for reading, and I hope each step feels a little more like the right path.

Qualifications: Over, under, and out of left field

I’m going to be very blunt about this: Job searching sucks. Cat’s out of the bag, in case everyone didn’t already know anyway. Maybe there aren’t very many positions open in the field you’re looking for, or maybe not in your area. Maybe you’re willing to move but can’t do so until you, you know, get the job. Or maybe you found the right position opening and the location is manageable, but the list of qualifications they’re looking for sounds something like this:

  • 5-8+ years experience (we know the position is entry-level, but we want to see that you’ve been committed to this career since before you were allowed to vote)
  • Skills A through Z (bonus points for inventing new letters!)
  • College degree in the field
  • Ability to work well under deadline pressure and adapt to needs of position (aka learn quickly or drown)
  • Cutting-edge knowledge of emerging news and trends in the field (be so cool you make us feel outdated but not insecure)
  • Oh, and of course, proficiency in Microsoft Office

Obviously that was a very sarcastic rendition, but that can be what it feels like. One friend I know — who also has a stellar blog of her own that you should check out — commented that she applied to nearly 100 jobs, finally resulting in exactly 3 offers. Three. I have another friend who applied to 23, and got 1 offer. Another friend went through seven rounds of interviewing before being offered his current job.

This kind of stuff makes hearing things like, “Oh, don’t worry about it! I’m sure you’ll get it!” and “You know, the job market’s actually improving” feel pretty empty. Because instead of feeling like there are other fish in the sea, you are just one fish and it seems like all the other fish have more experience than you.

I say all of this knowing that I have more than four years of experience in my ideal job, having applied to 32 jobs (for a variety of positions), and actively working on 5 other applications. It’s daunting. But eventually hard work pays off.

If you’re feeling like you don’t even know what type of job you want, research. If the job you want doesn’t seem to be hiring, find people to call or talk to in person — it garners a much better response rate. If you keep on applying and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, switch up your search, or figure out what else you can do to show that you’re an impressive candidate.

Of course, all of those things are much easier said than done, which is why I’m adding a few more links to the Resources page and will try to grow it as much as possible. Check those out, or see if so-and-so’s dad knows somebody, or set a goal for how many applications you want to send in per week.

If you have any questions, or want to vent about the job hunt, feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @ohgrowup and Instagram @oh.grow.up. It’s a big endeavor, but with enough time and commitment, we’ll prove that we’ve got this.

Honesty and terror are roommates

At least in my head. Honesty and communication are two of the most important values/skills to me, and when it matters most there is a 99.97% chance I will suck at them. And that realization in itself feels awful — especially considering I have a degree in the latter. (It only adds irony to remember that I graduated at the top of my major.) Most of it boils down to bad past experiences and moderate anxiety.

I don’t say all of this for sympathy or a pity party, because honestly I hate admitting it. I’m saying this so that hopefully it helps someone else.

Anxiety, or feeling like you’re doing terribly at the things you’re supposed to be good at, is really intimidating. And it’s a thing that in reality most people deal with, but often we try to compensate for it and almost never talk to other people about it. I really want to change that; it would be naïve to think it’s easy, but I have to believe it’s worth it.

So here’s the honest truth:

I feel incredibly insecure when thinking about/talking about/encroaching upon the subject of job searching. I get nervous and clammy and defensive and I usually avoid all of that by talking about it as infrequently as possible. I often feel like I’m poor at articulating myself in a normal conversation, and think most clearly when writing, which makes phone calls and important conversations more difficult than it feels like they should be.

So when it comes to having conversations about this in-between phase so many of us are at in life, particularly with people who aren’t in that phase, it can be difficult to feel like the conversation is worth the anxiety and potential misunderstandings. I’m not the expert, but I also have to remember that other people don’t always know where I’m at and talking about it is the only way to shrink that gap.

I don’t know what things make you feel anxious or intimidated, but I do know that talking about it with someone who cares about you can help a lot, and that fears start to get smaller when you face them. What fears do you feel like you’re starting to conquer? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup or Instagram @oh.grow.up. Thanks for reading, and I hope the week feels like a mountain you’re capable of climbing.

Do dumb stuff

You read that right. To clarify, I am not suggesting doing anything that would endanger the wellbeing of yourself or others, physically or psychologically. Don’t be mean and don’t get anybody hurt. But I am saying that sometimes it is better for us, as weird and complex human beings, to make the dumb choice in order to save ourselves a little sanity.

I don’t know about you, but the last month or so hasn’t been the easiest stretch I’ve gone through. Hasn’t been the hardest, either. But I stay up late a lot of nights because I don’t like to go to bed feeling, well, unhappy.

I was having a particularly rough day a couple of weeks ago and talking to a good friend about it, which was starting to help. But then said friend decided to show up at my door at 11:30 at night, and told me to come outside. I grabbed my house key and a pair of shoes and hopped in the car, and we got junk food I hadn’t eaten in years and hung out at a favorite spot just to talk until I was feeling better.

Now mind you, I had not one, but two job interviews the next morning. I had to be up early. I had chores to do, and no guarantee of much rest time the following day. By a lot of accounts, choosing to go on that late-night adventure was dumb. But it was also exactly what I needed.

Emerging adulthood is a strange time of life because a lot of us feel in-between everything and as if we don’t quite belong anywhere. And that can suck. Maybe all your friends are far away or your living situation isn’t what you had hoped. Maybe jobs aren’t working out or you’re mired in schoolwork. Maybe personal stuff is just off and you feel like too many things are going wrong, like you can’t catch a break. Make one instead.

Free time can be difficult to find, and I don’t want to trivialize what some people have on their plates. But when I’m considering making a decision that feels a little risky, I usually go back to one question: Years down the road, what story do I want to be telling my grandkids? Do I want to tell them I took the risk and found adventure, that I took my time and made a difference for someone? Or do I want to tell them I played it safe and didn’t laugh as much as I should have, that I didn’t make the sorts of memories I wanted?

I don’t know what you’re going through, but I do know that Slurpees taste better after midnight, adventures are best when they feel straight out of ’80s movies, and a day trip to a place called unusual can be just what you needed. The things that are weighing on you will still be there, but it’s okay to sometimes give yourself the grace to step away from them and do something dumb, just for a little while.

What dumb stuff makes you feel a little better about life? Feel free to let me know in a comment below, or reach out on Twitter @ohgrowup and Instagram @oh.grow.up. Thanks for reading, and good luck growing up.

Every morning is square one

This conversation really happened yesterday:

12-year-old: What did you study in college?

Me: I majored in Communication.

12-year-old: For babysitting?

Okay, ouch. But admittedly that’s how it feels sometimes. I’ve been applying for full-time jobs, but in the meantime I’ve got a steady part-time job and I do a lot of babysitting and housesitting. For the record, this was not the purpose of my degree. And I hate that. Especially given how hard-won my college experience felt, it can feel super anticlimactic to just be doing odd jobs.

To be fair, I have a plan and am doing all of this right now to save up so that when I land that full-time job in my field (notice: didn’t say dream job) then I can actually afford to, you know, pay rent.

When everyone’s paths are diverging and moving at such different paces, this setup can feel a lot like I busted my butt for years only to be launched back to square one. I imagine anyone reading this can probably think of a time they felt similarly. Here’s the thing: We all go through it. It may look different for some than others, but the fact is we all feel like forward motion is easier said than done.

The thing that has probably helped me most — besides a good laugh, which is the best short-term solution to any problem ever — is to remember that every morning is square one. Today I have the chance to start over and make the day better than the one before it. It’s not a do-over, but it is a new page. And maybe in enough time, the residue from all the days I’ve spent will add up to enough that instead of starting at square one every morning, I’ll be starting at square three. The catch is then that will feel like square one.

See, progress is a perspective game. You can go further than you ever imagined, but it takes a lot of awareness and effort to both be proud of how far you’ve come and motivated by how far you still have to go. I’m looking forward to working on that, even if some days I have to start my progress all over.

As usual, if you want a heads up on new posts, follow on WordPress, Twitter @ohgrowup, and Instagram @oh.grow.up. Either way, take a deep breath, throw some tunes on, and good luck growing up.

P.S. If you want a song for this kind of a mood, I highly recommend “Forward Motion” by Relient K.

Intro: I am not the expert, and I’m betting neither are you

Hey. My name is Rachal, and I’m a Millennial fresh out of college and trying to tread water as a “real adult.” If any of the phrases in that last sentence made you roll your eyes, you’re probably in the right place. Disclaimer: Everything I said is true. But that doesn’t mean terms like “Millennial,” “fresh out of college,” and “real adult” shouldn’t bother you. They bother the heck out of me.

“Millennial” can be used to describe the generation born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s or even 2000. So at its broadest, a Millennial could be born anytime between 1980 and 2000, which would make the group members range from 17 to 38. Even setting aside what a massive age range that is, the time between ages 17 and 38 holds an insane number of major life changes for most people living in the U.S.* A 17-year-old might be finishing up high school, while many people in their late 30s are married with kids and a mortgage. But very few people talk about Millennials that way. Most often, we are talked about (including sometimes by ourselves) as young adults in college and/or starting out in the workforce otherwise trying our hand at adulting. The fancy academic term for this phase of life is “emerging adulthood.” Though not a perfect term, it’s more specific than Millennial and will still apply to this interesting life phase even after Millennials become retirees. For those reasons, I’ll use the term emerging adults rather than Millennials unless I really do mean the generation — it provides some distance from harmful stereotypes anyways.

“Fresh out of college” tends to feel like the “WTF?” stage of life for a lot of emerging adults. For those that attend college, just after is often the first time all of one’s peers are reaching major milestones at wildly different paces. So-and-so just got married. So-and-so scored a high-paying job in their field. Oh yeah, and I live with my parents and can’t even get hired at the local grocery store. Every path presents its own challenges advantages, but nearly all of them come with thoughts and feelings along the lines of “Welp, this is actually happening.”

“Real adult” implies that any years spent from 18 to now (or before then for some folks’ circumstances) are invalid. And that sucks. If you are 17 and living independently, 21 and in college, or 24 and working part-time, you are every bit the adult that the married person with 3 kids, a 90k salary, and a mortgage is. You’re just newer at it. That does mean those of us who are still trying to level up have a fair amount to learn, but we’re still players in the same game. Wherever you’re at is valid — even though there’s progress to be made, even when you don’t feel like a grownup or a “real adult.” (Confession: Most days I don’t. Which is reason number one why I started this blog.)

So let’s rewrite that earlier sentence. My name is Rachal, and I’m an emerging adult who recently finished college and is learning to navigate this phase of adult life. Bulky, but a much kinder and more accurate representation of where I’m at, and where a lot of people are at or near.

If you’re feeling half as lost as I am, or are just really bored, read on. I’ll be adding new content all the time, including:

  • lessons I’ve learned so you don’t have to do it the hard way
  • accumulated tips and tricks for adulting
  • recipes and other practical resources
  • pep talks
  • (useful) observations about emerging adulthood
  • and more?

For a heads up on new content, follow on WordPress, Twitter @ohgrowup, and Instagram @oh.grow.up. Thanks for scrolling this far, and good luck growing up.

*I by no means want to overlook those who don’t live in the U.S., but that is the limit of my long-term experience, and overgeneralizing would be even worse.