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Hi again

So, um, I didn’t mean to take a month-long hiatus. (My overachieving self actually feels very guilty about letting that happen.) But life has really knocked my legs out from under me lately. My job has been grueling and chaotic, time for rest has been limited, and preserving that has further limited time for other things I enjoy. Last week I intended to write a post and then got horribly sick instead. (Apparently after too long of pushing my body beyond reasonable levels it revolts.)

I don’t have a grand lesson out of all of this. I’m still just trying to make it through to tomorrow, and then the next day. I’m trying to take care of my body the way it takes care of me. I’m trying not to measure my worth by how much I achieve or whether it’s A+ work. I’m trying to be honest without drowning in negativity. I’m trying to notice my fears and worries, and to hold them with an open hand. I’m trying to find peace in whatever brief moments I can.

It’s important to me that this blog not just die out because I got busy (I’m always busy). But it’s also important for me that there be some flexibility and room to take breaks as needed. So posts might continue to be a bit inconsistent, and that’s okay. I’m still grateful for all of you that read them, and love being able to write them.

I would also love to hear any topics that y’all would like to hear more about — on my own, especially when tired/busy, I tend to run repetitive. Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting.

(Photo is a free stock photo because I’m not getting up quite early enough for these views anymore.)

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This week is my birthday, so per tradition I have made an annual playlist.

Same rules as always: these are the songs that have meant the most to me over the last year, one song for every year I’ve been around, in listening order and not order of significance. The link to the playlist on Spotify is below if you feel like giving it a listen.

This year had a ton of really high highs and really low lows, so I built the playlist to reflect that journey to some extent. It’s become increasingly important to me to be honest about when life is difficult and painful, but also to hold fast to hope in whatever form I can find it.

  1. Dreamer – Sea In The Sky
  2. Almost (Sweet Music) – Hozier
  3. Vagabonds – Grizfolk
  4. Heavy – Birdtalker
  5. Star Maps – Aly & AJ
  6. No Plan [Explicit] – Hozier
  7. Preach – John Legend
  8. Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves
  9. lovely (with Khalid) – Billie Eilish, Khalid
  10. Call Off Your Ghost – Dessa
  11. Welcome to the Family [Explicit] – Watsky
  12. Human Touch – Armors
  13. I Melt With You – Sugarcult
  14. Polarize – Twenty One Pilots
  15. I Need You – Relient K
  16. </c0de> – Motionless In White
  17. Those Nights – Skillet
  18. World Away – Tonight Alive
  19. Anchor – Skillet
  20. You’ll Be In My Heart – Phil Collins
  21. I Will Spend My Whole Life Loving You – Kina Grannis
  22. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
  23. Chin Up – Copeland
  24. One More Light – Linkin Park

I hope you enjoy this playlist. What songs have you had on repeat lately? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting.

 

P.S. Honorable mention to “Land Of The Free” by The Killers. I’ve listened to it a lot this year, but there were a couple of other songs included that caught the same feeling this song gives me and were more personally representative, though I think this song really encapsulates a lot of what our country and world are like right now.

(Photo is a free stock photo, because I’ve been really enjoying purple lately and finding some peace in small moments outdoors.)

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The unicorn skill

Work has been absolutely grueling recently. A short staff and big upcoming deadlines have meant that I’ve been getting into the office at 6 a.m., working weekends, and falling asleep on the couch right after dinner. That has also been the primary reason that blog posts haven’t been regular (sorry!).

Because my job has been a trial by fire, I’ve also had a crash course in imposter syndrome and a chance to hone my skill of being able to quickly make up for resources I don’t have.

Enter the unicorn skill. I now act as the team lead for a small number of colleagues, and am part of the interview process to fill more positions. If there is one thing that I dearly want to improve myself and see fellow emerging adults improve at, it is the ability to figure sh*t out.

I have long since given up counting how many problems or questions I face per day that I don’t know the answer to. Sometimes it’s helping a coworker with a task, sometimes it’s diving into an assignment with minimal training, sometimes it’s digging up resources on topics that aren’t clear.

The trick is that there is no way to ever completely master this skill, but it is crucial to succeeding both in many professional roles and when figuring out this whole adulting thing.

Know what you don’t know. There is no such thing as being overprepared; however, you will much more often find yourself accidentally underprepared. If that underpreparedness is your fault, figure out how to fix it for next time, but sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid it. If you can identify the key elements of the problem that you don’t know/have, then you’ll know exactly what to look for.

Own what you do know. What do you already know about the topic or task? Is it similar to something you’ve encountered before? Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to experience. For example, I just wrapped up a project at work updating a big product catalog. It wasn’t something I had done before in this capacity, but having spent most of high school and college doing yearbook and then student journalism, I knew the bones of the process were the same. I knew how to work backwards from a deadline, brushed off some InDesign skills, and made it happen. Anything you’ve done in the past that you think could help probably will.

Dig first, and dig well. Google is your friend, as are any other resources at your disposal. When I’m asked a question I don’t have the answer for at work, I go digging — through our files and management systems, through emails, through our website, and then through some thoughtful keyword Google searches. Often, I find the answer within a few minutes. Even if I don’t, I usually get more information or a clearer picture of what’s missing.

I cannot tell you how many times someone has messaged me a question, and then figured it out on their own before I’m able to respond a couple minutes later (of course, I’ve done the same too many times). The moral: don’t. Learn how to use what’s at your disposal to help you when the answer isn’t obvious.

On the other hand, know when it’s time to ask for help. There comes a time when you’re wasting your time by continuing to search alone if someone else could either 1) provide the answer, or 2) assist you in the search. Once you’ve done the legwork to make asking for help as useful and easy as possible for the person you’re asking, being able to ask is important. It’s not an admission of failure or incompetence to ask someone with more expertise or resources for support.

We’re all in the same boat. Figuring things out on the fly is a skill that I think we all need, and which most of us are forced to develop at some point. Remember that it’s always someone’s first rodeo, and it’s likely that anyone you’re working with also wants a good outcome from the task. Imposter syndrome has a habit of making you feel like you’re the only one who is underprepared, and everyone else has it all figured out, when that is a bold-faced lie. None of the rest of us know what we’re doing either — we’re just working on knowing a little more some of the time.

What’s your favorite tool when you feel underprepared? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting.

(Photo is a free stock photo because I’m busy, y’all.)

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So you made a mistake

My apologies, I honestly totally spaced on last week’s blog post until Friday, at which point I was well into spending time with family and settling into some delightful time off. Spending time with friends and family (including a lot of driving across Northern California) was actually why I forgot. And though I feel bad about the gap, it created a perfect opportunity for today’s topic: dealing with mistakes.

Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those days.* Of course we all hope that they’re few and far between, and relatively minor when we do happen — and that probably goes double if you’re as much of a perfectionist as I am.

But mistakes in some form are inevitable. The question then becomes how to deal with a mistake when we make one.

Unfortunately, I (and I imagine all of us) are all too familiar with people who don’t exhibit the best patterns of admitting and responding to their own mistakes. Ideally this is something we’d all learn well in much younger years, but is crucial that we prioritize as emerging adults before we become more set in our ways.

Even if not always easy, the steps are pretty simple:

Acknowledge that it was a mistake, in whatever capacity necessary. The exact form this takes will vary depending on the nature and magnitude of the mistake, but it just comes down to admitting you made a mistake, plain and simple.

Pro tip: It can be helpful to explain why or how the mistake happened, but spending time justifying it isn’t going to win points or help you out in the future. Being defensive is natural and understandable, but rarely productive (something I remind myself of frequently). For example, a coworker asked if I’d intended to do something for a document we were jointly working on, and when I went back and looked it was a total mistake on my part. I mentioned that I hadn’t been paying close enough attention and thought the element in question was part of something else, and thanked her for pointing it out. No big.

Apologize. Usually a general apology with acknowledgment of the mistake is adequate, but mistakes that really harmed a particular person or group might warrant an apology directly to that party.

Reminder that it’s not the end of the world. Probably. But seriously, if it’s not a mistake that did or could bring serious physical or lasting emotional harm to someone**, don’t spend copious amounts of time beating yourself up over it. Make amends, move on.

Don’t stop there. Okay, you made a mistake. Probably not the end of the world (see above), but it is important to articulate what you’re going to do to either fix the mistake if it is indeed fixable, or to ensure that it doesn’t happen moving forward. This might mean saying that to other parties affected by the mistake or simply to yourself, ideally paired with actionable steps to safeguard future efforts.

Be humble, and then give yourself a little grace. A mistake is often a setback, and can be an indicator that priorities or methods need to be adjusted. Let any mistakes you make offer you a lesson, but then allow yourself enough room to grow beyond both the mistake and the limited scope of the lesson it taught you.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

 

* If you got that reference, thank you and I’m only a tiny bit sorry.

** If whatever mistake you make did or could cause that kind of harm, of course do whatever you can to remedy the mistake, but then it’s likely a good idea to find a mental health professional who can help you process through that.

(Photo is a free stock photo, please pardon the loose connection as this is a rather difficult concept to visualize in a non-cheesy way.)

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The timeline is relative

Based on our current understandings of the universe and physics, time is relative. It does not pass exactly the same at different elevations, speeds, or levels of gravity. And that’s super cool if you’re a physicist. For the rest of us, it can seem like that has little impact on our everyday lives (fun fact: it’s actually a necessary element in GPS satellite calculations, but you get my point).

However, colloquial relativity is all around us. Kids grow and learn at different rates after all. Still, up until we graduate high school a lot of big steps tend to happen to us at about the same time as our peers: moving up grades, learning to drive, and so on.

Recently I was chatting with a friend about how we try so hard to remind ourselves that everyone does — and should — do things at their own pace.

Because after high school, all the structured timelines kind of go out the window. Some people don’t go to college, some people take longer for a bachelor’s, some people do graduate degrees. Some people climb the ladder quickly and some spend more time bouncing between jobs or careers. Some people settle into long-term relationships quickly, and every relationship moves at its own speed. Some people have kids, and those who do might have them soon or wait until they’re well-established adults.

There might be a timeline that’s best for you or for someone else, but there’s no guarantee that those will align. Nor is there any need for them to.

It’s easy to feel like you’re behind or you’re missing out if it seems like peers (or just people you see on social media) are doing all the things you haven’t done yet. But chances are you’ve reached milestones they haven’t yet. There’s no one right path, and there’s no rulebook. And as much as that can feel really intimidating when we’re new to the whole grown-up thing and would just like a little guidance, I’m coming to realize that it’s one of the most freeing things about being an adult.

So here’s to us, living life and learning, each in our own time.

Chime in below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

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It only takes a word

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how soft skills, especially in terms of communication, are underappreciated and under-emphasized by so many people. Of course, this is coming from someone who majored in communication, but I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed from folks in fields from business to STEM.

Some people espouse that to get ahead — particularly in one’s career — you can’t be kind or agreeable, or at least not too agreeable. And of course there is an element of balance; if you only ever say positive things, it will be hard to make your own ideas known and to point out risks or issues in the ideas of others.

Especially when I’m busy, my default is to be fairly stressed and fairly serious. I’ve had to learn how to make time to build good professional relationships, even if it means a task takes a little longer. But on the flipside, it’s also hugely important to me that everyone be as content with a given situation as possible and that I take regularly opportunities to boost morale. Often that means bringing in treats for coworkers or saying “thank you” more times than perhaps necessary. And these are great, but they’re also a little shallow.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some absolutely phenomenal bosses and mentors as I’ve gained work experience. I’ve also had the chance to be a boss or mentor to other folks, and to experiment with what comprises a successful leadership style.

Some of the elements are fairly standard: clear training and instruction, open communication channels, well-rounded feedback that includes praise for elements done well and actionable critiques on ways to improve.

The biggest thing that I’ve learned from my mentors, though, is how incredibly important it is to empower those who are learning from you — whether the setting be professional, familial, or otherwise. While “empower” has become a bit of a buzzword and lost some of the meaning it ought to possess, it captures exactly how we should be made to feel by those we’re learning from (and how we should be making those we’re teaching feel).

As an example, a brief anecdote: Yesterday was not a great day for me. I’m behind on a lot of at-home tasks (*ahem* cleaning) and my at work my number of tasks and the stakes are increasing. It was just one of those days I felt ill-equipped for all I was facing. During the course of separate conversations, both my boss and a former boss/mentor offered unsolicited, generous compliments on my competency and the impact of my work. They both absolutely made my day.

The comments meant so much because both of them conveyed that they actually believed in me. Which, for starters, is something we could all stand to hear a little more often. But it also made me want to prove them right, instead of trying to prove negative thoughts or voices wrong.

I’ve long held to the belief that small kindnesses can have radical impacts in people’s lives. For emerging adults in particular, it’s crucial that we not only embrace that idea in our personal lives, but also our professional ones. As we do so, we can foster and eventually create environments that encourage people’s growth through support or cooperation rather than relying on competition.

In the future, I’ll be looking for and taking more opportunities in which I can offer a word or gesture to help other folks feel as valued and full of potential as comments like the ones yesterday made me feel. I just hope we all do.

As always, comments, questions, and miscellaneous input welcome below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

 

P.S. I know it’s yet another sunset ocean pic, but this place was home for a long time and not only taught me a lot of what I covered in this post, but could use any extra love available as the community continues to heal from tragedy.

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Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Hey, ya’ll! This week’s post is from my best friend and blogger-on-hiatus, Megan. You may remember her from our collaboration post  a while back. She’s tackling the topic of emergency preparedness, given the recent wildfires and power outages in California lately, the latter of which we’ve both been affected by. Hope you all enjoy!

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As a millennial, my definition of natural disaster was characterized by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was a defining moment in my childhood, much like 9/11. Looking back, it never occurred to my 10-year-old self that I would grow up and have to prepare for anything like Katrina, especially as a California resident. I am very fortunate enough to have grown up in an area where the threat of natural disasters had never seemed so extreme. While we have always had earthquakes and fires, they occurred few and far between during my childhood. However, as the years have gone by, the effects of climate change have not only accelerated the frequency and intensity of fires in California, but brought on several other natural disasters not only nationally, but abroad.

Just off of the top of my head, I can recall hurricanes Lane in Hawaii (2018), Harvey in Texas (2017), and Maria in Puerto Rico (2017), dangerously cold blizzard conditions on the East Coast & in the Midwest (2018), and countless devastating fires in my very home state including the Camp fire in Paradise (2018) and Woolsey in Malibu (2018) — all within the past 2 years alone. Most recently, the Tick fire in Santa Clarita and the Kincade fire in Sonoma have been brought on by extreme dry and windy conditions that — combined with at-risk power grid infrastructure — have prompted PG&E to cut power to millions of customers, including myself.

Now, I don’t mean to get all doomsday-ey, and I know emergency preparedness isn’t the most glamourous topic, but at the rate that things are progressing, it sure as hell is relevant. And if I’ve learned anything from Gen Z, it’s all about being relevant. Jokes aside, I am a camping aficionado, possess basic safety skills, and have learned a thing or two from experiencing my fourth forced power outage — all of which is to say that while I’m not claiming to be an expert, I am slightly qualified to speak on this topic. I’ve also linked plenty of credible resources. That being said, here are my five main thoughts I’d like to share about preparing and dealing with an emergency:

1.   Do your research

  • Depending on where you live, “disaster” comes in its own unique flavor. Know what to expect and when to expect it, given your own location. For me, I know that my greatest threat is wildfire and wildfire season is at its peak from September to October. If you need some guidance, ready.gov is a comprehensive resource with guides broken down by type of event and is a great place to start.
  • Stay in the loop by signing up for alerts relevant to you. You can also follow respective social media accounts, but they may not always be up to date. Here are a few resources:

California / fire alert systems

Other alert systems

2.  Make a plan

  • If the emergency you’re preparing for may involve an evacuation, be sure to sit down with all the members of your household and get on the same page of where to meet (designate either another family member’s house or a community crisis center), how to get there, and what to bring. The unfortunate nature of emergencies is that they are unpredictable and may not leave much time to gather your belongings or may interfere with communication, so it is best to have a plan beforehand. Depending on circumstances, you may not need a “go bag” lying around, but if you are at risk of being in an evacuation zone, keep an eye on your alerts and start preparing as soon as possible. Also, keep in mind that if evacuation orders are given, traffic may start to pile up, so the sooner you can evacuate, the better. If you need help creating your plan, use the ready.gov planning page as a resource.
  • In an emergency, it’s easy for things to get overlooked, so be sure to take stock of any special circumstances that may cause snafus down the line and make a plan for those as well. Don’t forget about your pets and animals, any special medication that may need to be refrigerated, medical devices, features about your property, etc. For me personally, I know that my water system runs on an electric pump and during power outages I do not have access to running water. Luckily, since the outages are controlled, I’ve been able to prepare beforehand and not only ensure that I have water to drink, but also water for hygiene and cleaning.
  • Designate your emergency contacts and alert them that they hold that role. Be sure to share that information with all relevant people.

3.  Be prepared

  • Build an emergency kit! Start with the basics, then add specific items for your particular emergency over time or as needed. You probably have many of these item lying around, but it is best to round them all up so that you do not have to scramble to find them. Time is valuable during an emergency.

Emergency kit essentials

  • 1 week’s worth food supply (and the tools to prepare it!)
  • 1 gallon of water per person per day for up to 3 days (up to 3 gallons if you lack running water for cooking and hygiene)
  • Flashlights / battery-powered lanterns / candles
  • Extra batteries
  • Lighter / matches
  • First aid kit & basic meds
  • Scissors / knife / multi-tool
  • Cash
  • Mobile phone charging bank & cord
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (preferably able to receive NOAA broadcasts)
  • See the official FEMA checklist
  • See the Build a Kit page on ready.gov

Other emergency preparedness items

  • Backup generator & fuel — for most circumstances, but especially frequent power outages. (Trust me, with all the PG&E stuff, these have been a hot commodity lately.)
  • Ice & ice chests — in case you cannot run or afford a generator to power your refrigerator during a power outage, use these to save your food and/or medication.
  • Temperature-control items such as sleeping bags, blankets, heat sources, or battery-powered fans — for any circumstance, including power outages.
  • N95 respirator masks — for areas prone to wildfires.
  • Be sure to adapt these items to what’s most relevant for your type of emergency

Don’t forget!

(These items are commonly forgotten during an evacuation or relocation to a sheltered space. Keep these in mind when building your kit.)

  • Prescription medication (including for pets!)
  • Backup glasses / contacts & solution
  • Menstrual products
  • Infant formula & bottles
  • Diapers & wipes
  • Pet food
  • Disposable dishes & cutlery

 

  • Not only do you need to build a kit, but you also need to keep it accessible. It doesn’t do any good if it can’t be found or used by everyone so keep in mind those in your household who may have accessible devices such as wheelchairs or the height limitations of older children. Remember that you may not always be there or able to access your kit yourself.
  • Replenish your kit as needed, and be sure to make sure to replace any expired items (including bottled water) when necessary. Also be sure to test batteries and make sure that they work.
  • Set up protection measures as needed. This may include assessing your property and ensuring it can be a safe shelter. For fires, this means keeping a 100-foot radius clear from your home of brush and flammable debris. For flooding, it means being able to safely access high ground. For earthquakes, it means securing large furniture so it does not fall. For tornadoes, it means having a basement or shelter. Know what your needs are, and prepare your property accordingly. Protection also includes storing important documents and irreplaceable family memorabilia in a fireproof safe and/or digitally archiving them somewhere that isn’t subject to natural disaster (such as a backup hard drive in a safe and in the cloud). And as a final measure of protection, be sure that you are properly insured.

4.  Take a moment for yourself

  • In an emergency, it’s easy to get swept up in the adrenaline. Make sure to keep a calm, level head during the emergency — and once it’s safe to do so, take a moment to decompress. Not only do you need to ration your energy in an emergency, but it’s also necessary to show yourself some love and compassion by filling up your cup so that you might give to others. You know, the whole “put your oxygen mask on first” thing.
  • When disaster strikes, it is not always easy to be positive, but giving a moment of gratitude really helps to put things into perspective.

5.  Pay it forward

There isn’t much you can do to prevent a natural disaster from coming; however, it is crucial that we acknowledge their more persistent presence due to climate change. We can make a difference by not only donating to organizations that provide relief in the aftermath of such tragedies, but also to those who do work in order to combat one of the sources of increased disasters. Here is a list of charities you may consider donating to below:

Disaster relief charities

Climate activism charities

Closing remarks

So with all of that said, the three main takeaways are:

  1. There is always more to know. While this is quite a lengthy post, it still does not cover the breadth and complexity of emergency preparedness. If you are interested in knowing more, please use the following resources:
  1. Better to prepare now, rather than later.
  2. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and our planet, not just others.

Thanks to my best friend for allowing me the opportunity to get back into blogging. If you’d like to keep up with my own exploits, and hear more rants about PG&E, find me here:

Blog: thechroniclesofmegan.com

IG: @chroniclesofmegan

Twitter: @meganchronicles

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As always, thanks for reading and good luck adulting! Stay safe out there, and let’s do what we can to help others do the same. Comments always welcome below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. See you next week!

P.S. Happy Halloween! Due to the whole just had a wedding/honeymoon and then got our power shut off thing, I’m recycling last year’s costume. Enjoy the holiday!

(Photo is a free stock photo because this sums it up better than I thought a single image could.)