Featured

Not another notification

Sometimes social media is way too much. Let me preface this with the fact that I am (hopefully obviously) in no way against social media outright. I think it’s useful, I appreciate the benefits, and overall for me the pros outweigh the cons. But some days, the cons loom really, really large.

As emerging adults — and specifically Millennials/Gen Z — we’re young enough to be native to the latest technology, and old enough to be responsible for the ways we engage with them and allow them to affect us. That’s no small ask.

If I’m being completely honest, there are few things that get under my skin more than older generations bagging on younger generations for being plugged in to technology. I’m on my phone a lot. But most of the time I’m using it to stay in touch with people whom I otherwise wouldn’t be able to, whether it’s messaging a friend about a joke I heard or Facetiming my family across the country. Following that, I’m likely using it as a tool; my navigation, calculator, news, to-do list, and more are all contained in that one handy device. And sometimes, it’s pure entertainment. I’m looking at cute animal videos or playing the one game I have and am completely okay with that.

Of course, there are times to put the phone, or other tech, away. It’s never cool to be disruptive or impolite at a show or event. When you’re having more than the most casual of conversations with someone, they deserve your attention. Sometimes it’s just time to go to bed or go outside or read a book. But I want to be clear that the issues arise in when and how technology like phones and social media get used, not the fact that it’s used at all.

Including the ones for this blog, I consistently use six social media accounts on four platforms. I have limits set for all of them to keep any from becoming too much of a rabbit hole — or at least, from letting myself go too far down it. Some of them have time limits or a number of posts I’m allowed to scroll through before moving on, some of them I try to check a limited number of times per day. A couple of them are more of a self-contained “honor system” where I’m honest with myself about when it’s no longer serving a good purpose and I put it away.

But sometimes those don’t work. This morning I opened up my phone and within a few minutes just felt inundated and bogged down by the quantity and content of posts and ads and opinions and so on. I’m pretty introverted, and sometimes forget that even social media takes energy and a mental/emotional toll to engage with. When it starts to feel overwhelming like that, I walk away. Usually I’ll stay off of certain platforms for a while or set stricter limits on the time I do spend. There are no set rules to it, just an acknowledgment and response to knowing that the dopamine we get from scrolling isn’t worth the rest of what it’s costing me right now.

The lesson here is simple, but not always easy. It’s entirely up to us to know when it’s worthwhile to engage with such complicated beasts as social media. To know when it’s too much, when it benefits us or helps build relationships, when more important things are in front of us, and when we could just use a break.

It’s something most of us are still working on, and will hopefully strike a better balance of as time goes on. What are your favorite tips for not letting social media become overwhelming? Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up! Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!

P.S. If you’re looking for a song in this vein, I highly recommend “Look On Up” by Relient K.

(Photo is a free stock photo again because of the whole camera phone conundrum.)

Something like love

Today was going to be a recipe for y’all, but honestly I wasn’t pleased with how it turned out and I won’t put up a recipe I don’t stand behind. Which forces me to face the calendar. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I only have two modes: all-out (for friends and family) and forget this (for forced romance). I have friends who are single, dating, engaged, and married — and sometimes having peers at significantly different life stages than you can feel odd or even make you question how you’re doing.

Therein lies the great challenge of emerging adulthood. There is no longer an instruction manual, there is no longer one standard path (or at least a standard timeline), and it leaves a lot of us feeling confused or stuck in-between. The good news is no matter where each of us is at, there’s a lot of love to go around.

So today we’re doing something different. No romance, no expectations of flowers and chocolate, no candy hearts that no one wants to eat anyway. Instead, I took some time to list out all the people and things that remind me of love.

  • Family – Some family we choose and some family we don’t, but these people are the ones who taught me more than any what love looks like
  • Friends – My best friends know they’re in the family category, but whenever I’m with good friends it reminds me just how much love people have in their hearts
  • Faith – When everything else is cracked or crumbling, there’s a hope and love that rest here, and it’s what I always return to
  • The ocean, the stars, and the forest – These three pieces of nature are my touchstones and my constants when the world feels too harsh or too cold, and in each of them there’s a peace I haven’t found anywhere else
  • Food – Y’all think I’m kidding. Nope. Food (in reasonable levels of indulgence) reminds me of all the love and care people are willing to put into things, and the simplicity in familiar things
  • Music, books, and other stories – All of these remind me in different ways that none of us are alone
  • Animals – Dogs, (friendly) cats, and pretty much any other little creature that makes our collective hearts melt — because some things remain joyful no matter what

So if today isn’t your favorite day — or even if it is — take a little time to think about the things that make you feel loved. If there are particular people (or pets!) on that list, go ahead and let them know. How do you remind people you love them? Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up! As always, thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

P.S. If you need a song for the day, I highly recommend “Candy Hearts” by Relient K

(Photo credit goes to my second mom, for always sending pictures when I wish I could be there.)

22

Yesterday was my birthday, and reflecting on the past year still makes my head spin a bit, so today I’m going to keep it simple. There are few things in my life which have remained as steady and constant as the influence of music. Though the music changes over the years, the way it guides me through difficult times and bolsters me through joyous ones never changes. So today my post is just a playlist of the songs that have meant the most to me over the last year. They’re in listening order, not order of significance, and I’ve included a link to the playlist on Spotify if you feel like giving it a listen!

  1. Empty Apartment (acoustic) – Yellowcard
  2. Bloodstream – Stateless
  3. John Rawls, Jr. – JJ Wong
  4. Can You Feel My Heart – Bring Me the Horizon
  5. Whispers in the Dark – Skillet
  6. Lips of an Angel – Hinder
  7. New Romantics – Taylor Swift
  8. Colors (stripped) – Halsey
  9. Creep – Radiohead
  10. Empty House – Relient K
  11. Car Radio – Twenty One Pilots
  12. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Hillsong United
  13. Don’t Blink – Relient K
  14. Wait For It – Hamilton Soundtrack (Original Broadway Cast)
  15. Letters to God, Part II – Angels & Airwaves
  16. Twenty-Somethings – Judah & the Lion
  17. The Shadow Proves the Sunshine – Switchfoot
  18. The Messenger – Linkin Park
  19. Castle – Halsey
  20. Africa – Toto
  21. American Oxygen – Rihanna
  22. Be Still – The Fray

What songs have you had on repeat lately? I’m always looking for new music, so let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up! Thanks for reading, and happy listening!

More than useless

I was going to put up a cool post on travel today (don’t worry, it’s coming later), but honestly I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Why? Because I’ve felt like a genuinely crappy adult this week.

Monday morning I found a spider in my sock and, being really afraid of spiders, totally freaked. A rock hit my windshield on the way back from work and cracked it, so that had to get replaced. I was looking through job openings and found an entry level position that I would be a pretty good fit for — except they want a minimum 10 years experience. A friend invited me to her wedding and I don’t know if I’ll be able to go. And frankly, getting out of bed has been difficult.

My life isn’t that bad. It isn’t even bad. I have no need to substantially fear for my safety or basic needs, I have a job and people who care about me. Of course there are silver linings. But that doesn’t make the clouds suddenly not grey.

I really, really wish I had a good response to this. In 5 days or 5 months or 5 years I might. But right now I just know that tomorrow is worth it, and that (as much as saying it makes me uncomfortable) I’m worth it. For the record, so are you.

When you feel overwhelmed or like you keep screwing up, or just completely and thoroughly meh, here is my list of things that help:

  • Drink water
  • Have a snack
  • Journal/pray
  • Take a shower
  • Write my way out
  • Tactile hobbies (coloring, cleaning, crocheting, etc.)
  • Tell someone I feel down — this gets it out of my head and out where I can understand it better
  • Go outside (walking is especially helpful)
  • Read a familiar book
  • Listen to music (I have playlists for this, but I highly recommend “More Than Useless” by Relient K)
  • Ask someone to sit close or for a hug
  • Watch a small bit of TV
  • Cook or bake something

Sometimes being an adult — or even being a human — sucks. If you’re stuck in a slump, try making your own list and using it to help make crappy days better. If it’s more than a slump and you’ve been feeling not yourself for several weeks or longer, consider talking to a mental health professional. A very significant thank you to my dear friend Kami for the list this is based on, and for reminding me to adjust it to what works best for me.

What have you found most helpful in getting through difficult stretches? Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up. Thanks for reading, and remember that you’re probably better at this whole adulting thing than you feel.

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.