It’s Friday!

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I thought that this week I would finally actually have the energy to write a full Friday blog post.

But then I got sick with some sinus infection something or another and decided to give myself another Thursday night off to better prepare myself for some good posts next week. Hope you all have a great weekend!

It’s Friday!

Long Distance Relationship Tips: The End

653. That’s the number of days until May 14, 2017. Not only is that Sunday my birthday, but it’s the day after John has a college diploma in his hand (a week after I have one in mine) and we will officially no longer be a long distance couple.

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It hasn’t always been that clear cut. I go to a school where getting your undergraduate degree is expected to take five years due to time taken off to work for entire semesters at a time. For a while, I thought I wanted to go into teaching and getting my license would push me back to a December 2017 graduation. Hypothetically I could also graduate at the end of this year if I didn’t want to work anymore and was interested in graduating straight political science, but I don’t need to shorten my stay by too, too much.

There was a period of time during which I pondered the idea that after graduation John and I might spend some time in different cities. I thought the Silicon Valley might call to him and I would end up wherever I got a job and then eventually we would figure out a way to end up in the same city so we could get on with our lives. Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve learned that’s not really how long distance relationships work.

I’ve read about a lot of long distance relationships online, and while every couple is different, their stories all end the same way. Basically, if you’re in it for the long haul, you need to figure out how to be together at some point. We’re fortunate that we have such a natural point at which to make that happen. (I think. Ha!) I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t even have a desire to so intricately plan my future that I know what city we’ll be in or what company I’ll work for, but part of loving John is trusting that both of us would do whatever it takes to be together at that point.

I know every couple does things differently, but I think that for us having an end in sight provides comfort if nothing else. I’m interested to hear the perspectives of other people in long distance relationships, so chime in if you’re so inclined! (P.S. That picture up there is from the day John and I became long distance. Our smiles didn’t stay that way for long.) Until next time!

Long Distance Relationship Tips: The End

Treat Yo Self!

I’ve been sitting at home for the past two days feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing. Actually, I finished the stale jar of Nutella in our pantry. That counts as something.

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Anyway, I can’t function without some structure in my life. Some appointments or somethin’. As much as I hate being stressed and overwhelmed, I think I would choose a little too much structured activity over a little too little structured activity any day.

I think that figuring out how intrinsic motivation works is an important part of college. Even when I am not able to garner motivation from structure, I should have a method of getting myself up and doing things so I feel better at the end of the day. I’ve been starting my days with hour long runs, but then I hit a wall after I shower and nothing seems appealing enough to work on for the rest of the day.

And by that, I mean that tomorrow after my run, I’m going to do some laundry and figure out what to do with the boxes in my room and clean out our fridge/freezer/pantry AND THEN I AM GOING TO BUY MYSELF A FRAPPUCCINO OR SOMETHING EQUALLY INDULGENT. Yeah, you got it. Food is the key to intrinsic motivation, I’m pretty sure. Also running watches, workout clothes, pretty dresses, and nail polish. Extrinsic motivation becomes intrinsic motivation when you’re doing it for yourself.

Treat yo self, people! Do whatever it takes to get up and get moving.

Treat Yo Self!

Perks of Dating a Nerd

Have you ever used Reddit before? I remember a few summers ago when I was at a camp, I decided to myself that one of the boys in my group was cool solely because he was wearing a Reddit shirt. I think I thought this meant he was hip in my kind of way, but I don’t actually remember where I first heard about the site. Basically Reddit is a giant online forum with “subreddit” pages about almost any topic you could imagine.

The first time I visited the site, long before John and I were dating, I was turned off. The user interface is intuitive to computer people, I think, but to the layperson it’s just a poorly designed site that’s difficult to navigate. I went back to Facebook stalking immediately. Flash forward three plus years to John sending me links to this funny thing and that funny thing he found on Reddit and I decided to give it another try.

Let’s get this straight: John and I use Reddit for very different purposes. John has an account with a feed that updates regularly and mostly includes computer science jokes and cute cat videos  (from what I gather), but I use Reddit when I want to quickly learn about a topic. For example, I’m working on training for a half marathon in January and I checked out /r/running and found insanely useful information, starter guides, and answers to questions I had with just a few clicks and searches. Check out the right side bar and you can usually find a wiki on the given topic.

That website is way cooler and more useful than it looks. I know you don’t trust me right now, but this is exactly like the first time I walked over to MIT and saw a hot guy running around campus with his shirt off. (Okay not exactly like that time.) Expect the unexpected. Try somethin’ new!

Disclaimer- :/ re: my title. Nerd is a little bit mean. Sorry, John, if you’re reading this. You are a hip nerd. I like your haircut and your glasses. I was going to say CS major but I was avoiding using lingo.

Perks of Dating a Nerd

Roommate Agreement + Printable

Happy Monday! Today I’m sharing the first of a series of college/ResLife related posts. While many of the resources in this series will cater to either college freshmen or Resident Assistants (RAs), I think a lot of tidbits can be useful for almost anyone in college or even beyond.

Today’s post is on roommate agreements. I know many schools actually require students to fill out roommate agreement contracts, and since my school doesn’t I will be providing my residents with a psuedo-contract to fill out if they would like to. This list is adapted from personal experience and from several lists I found online. It may not work for everyone or every situation, but hopefully it can give you at least an idea of where to start from.

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Download as a PDF: Two L Allison’s Roommate Guidelines Worksheet

If I’m being 100% honest, I’ve never actually used a roommate agreement myself or even thoroughly discussed the details of how we should cohabitate, but I’ve regretted not doing so every semester. The beginning of the year with a roommate is always a little bit awkward and usually conflicts don’t even arise until several weeks into the semester or even second semester which makes this a difficult topic to approach. I’m hoping to eliminate the awkwardness of these conversations by rewarding my residents for participating and so that no one is alone in approaching the topic. I think everyone has a conflict with their roommate of some sort at some point in the year and establishing guidelines from the get go can mitigate things early on.

While the details of using your roommate’s property and sleep hours are really important, my favorite part of this agreement is the last section regarding conflict resolution. It’s difficult to understand how others are used to communicating re: conflict, and I am hoping this section will help mesh communication styles early on.

Let me know if you think I should add anything for my residents! I would love to hear if anyone has ever used a roommate agreement before and if you feel like it was beneficial at all. Until next time!

Roommate Agreement + Printable

Blog Lovin’

Reading blogs has become my favorite internet past time since last fall. I have always loved reading about other people’s lives and didn’t really understand that the blogging community existed prior to that time. I feel lame sharing a list of blogs on here that are big name blogs rather than trendy up-and-comers, but I’m just beginning to delve into finding other WordPress blogs that speak to me, so this is my honest-to-goodness daily repertoire.

Thought my title was just clever? This website has been the source for quite a few great blog finds.
Thought my title was just clever? This website has been the source for quite a few great blog finds.

love taza // A friend showed me this blog almost a year ago now, and I think I’ve read most every post from the archives and continue to read daily. This blog is actually what got me interested in reading blogs, which eventually led me to think of starting my own as a way to document my life. I thought loving Taza (aka Naomi) and her adorable family would mean that I would fall in love with every Mormon family blog I’ve found, it hasn’t proven to be true at all. While I love a lot of Mormon family Instagram accounts, this is the only mama blog I continue to read on a daily basis. I think it’s the colorful photos, adorable children, and the fact that I cannot convince myself that these people are anything but incredibly kind.

A Cup of Jo // This is probably my favorite blog ever. I could spend days just clicking through and reading old posts. It’s intelligently written, insightful, and I appreciate that Jo and her team make posts that are somewhat journalistic in nature, such as her “Motherhood around the World” features. This is a must read.

The College Prepster // In trying to find popular blogs for people my age, I came across this gem. At first glance, I was annoyed by Lilly Pulitzer loving Carly, but when I started reading I found a million posts that were super relatable. Her advice on organization, found throughout her blog and especially in the archives from when she was in college, are very useful.

Peanut Butter Fingers // I came across this blog around the same time as I started reading Love Taza and I eventually realized healthy living blogs are probably not for me. It’s cool that they post really frequently, but I don’t really care to hear mundane details of most people’s lives. However, I randomly checked the blog again in February or so and found out Julie was pregnant and started reading again.

Olive + Tate // This lady is awesome. She tells it like it is more than any other blog I’ve found. I have no idea how I came across this one, and while I don’t relate to her completely, I enjoy every post I read.

Oops. I probably seem like a freak reading a bunch of blogs by 30-something mothers. I swear I’m normal. Mostly.

Until next time!

Blog Lovin’

Un-Dorm Your Dorm

Most college kids break out of a dorm room by junior year, but my position as an RA has brought me back to a freshman dorm for year three. I was in an on campus apartment last year and (obviously) a freshman dorm in a different building my first year, so I’ve had a bunch of different experiences, and I’m starting to find trends in what I love to do with my dorm rooms.

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This was originally going to be a “5 tips for dorm decorating” post or something similar, but in my mind it has quickly transformed into…a plea. That sounds too harsh. Maybe a word of wisdom?

Anyway, you know how Target comes out with their ~awesome~ college section every year? And how you can be tempted to buy literally every item for your dorm room from there because they carry Twin XL and because everything coordinates? I would recommend thinking twice because it turns out when you get to college five other people on your floor will inevitably have the same comforter as you do. It’s not that Target dorm decor is a bad thing. There’s just so much more out there to choose from.

Try Ikea or World Market for bedding, a comforter, or a throw. Buy some potted plants or grab a vase from home for fresh cut flowers to brighten your room. Remind yourself of home by bringing old linens your parents have hung onto for absolutely no reason. Stay away from Pinterest boards on dorm decor and veer toward generic bedroom decor. While you can’t change your paint or furniture, you can change about everything else and the inspiration is much more mature.

I don’t mean for this post to sound judgmental and bossy because really if you would like a Target comforter, go for it. But think outside the box. You’re going to be spending a ridiculous amount of time inside these walls for the next nine months. Make it you, don’t make it Target. (I love you, Target, don’t take this all the wrong way!)

In the next few weeks, I’ll share my ~ultimate~ college packing guide that I used to shop my first year. Until next time!

Un-Dorm Your Dorm

Burnout

burn·out ˈbərnˌout/ physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

I think most of us have been there. You know, that realization in the middle of the night that you absolutely can not go on any further. Even though you haven’t memorized all 300 vocabulary words, it’s definitely time to turn the lights out and go to bed because not only can you not cram any more information in your head, but you also feel like you literally cannot push through any longer without having some sort of mental/emotional breakdown. And that the feeling won’t go away after you take this exam tomorrow because it’s become a part of your life.

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I’m a little afraid for a lot of college students. That a lot of us experience burnout too frequently and that some of us experience burnout so drastic that we literally cannot continue. Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great to constantly push yourself further to be all that you can be, but when it becomes exhausting to a point of misery, I don’t think it’s okay anymore.

Every summer of college so far, I’ve been thrown a million opportunities. Study abroad! Paid research! Live for free on campus as a Resident Assistant! Do an internship to build your resume! I filled myself up with these opportunities last summer. Partially because I felt like going home would be miserable, but also because I felt like I needed to do so in order to keep up with everyone else. I went for nearly two full years with virtually no extended break and it seemed great at the start, but I quickly learned that I was living an unsustainable lifestyle. (Note: I know there are no breaks in the real world. But in the real world people aren’t expected to juggle all of their extracurriculars, the pressure of success, and a full time job, especially not when they’re 20 years old. The ones who do all of that experience burnout, too.)

As a result, six or seven months ago I made the decision to leave the second half of my summer untouched. To make sure I was doing nothing except relaxing. This time, it meant going home to be with my family, going on vacation with them to Florida, and going to Austin for a week to visit John. I’m almost halfway through my self-mandated break, and I think it was one of the best decisions of my life so far.

It’s not sustainable to have every single break (summer and winter) shortened by a week or three because of RA training. It’s not sustainable to work a full-time job, complete 50 hours of community service, fully participate in extracurricular activities, and be a functioning resource to my residents all at once. I needed some time off.

It wasn’t easy, though. I was still thrown all of the same opportunities as last summer and I almost took some of them. There’s still a little part of me that feels like I might be behind when I go back to school because I didn’t fill up my time. Or, more likely, that I will be judged by my peers or mentors for “wasting” some of that precious time relaxing.

A bigger part of me knows that I should start encouraging others to take the same kind of breaks. Do a semester in DC or abroad to take some time off of extracurricular activities. Limit your “other stuff” load during the semester that you’re working a full-time job. Clear your plate off and get some peace of mind. Prioritize reading books over attending meetings or socializing with friends over adding an internship.

This may seem impossible for some. Many engineering or health field programs are basically year-round. My RA friends who are pharmacy majors get basically no break because they are required to take classes in a sequence and classes are only offered once a year, plus they have to be back at school weeks earlier than their peers because of RA training. Giving yourself a break doesn’t look the same for everyone, but I think it can be done.

We, college students, need to prioritize taking breaks. To make this a less intensely competitive place where we stop enjoying ourselves because we’re trying to keep up with each other and impress professors. We need to tell everyone no. We can’t take any more on our plate. But mostly, I think we need to tell ourselves and our internal desire to achieve not to put anything more on our plate.

Burnout

Beach Reads

I used to be an avid reader. “Used to” as in I was an avid reader through grade school, and virtually stopped reading for pleasure when high school started. Sure, I’ll go through spurts when I make time to read and fall back in love, but these are short lived. Life feels too busy and I’m too much of an extrovert to spend my time doing introverted things. However, I’ve found that the week my family spends at the beach (almost) every year is a way to get hours of uninterrupted reading under my belt to make up for lost time.

 

Beach Reads

 

I tried to pick a mix of books to read this week. The bottom row of books above was chosen based on my historical beach reads rule of “pick the most feminine book cover,” which usually means the lightest, easiest, and most romantic reads on the shelf. (The feminist in me just cringed.) In all this time I’ve almost run out of Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin books that I haven’t read, so the fact that I managed to find two more is impressive. The selection for light reads on the shelves at Half Price is slimming. Perhaps I should find a new vacation genre.

I’m a bit prouder of the top three. The House at the End of Hope Street was chosen by my mom on our trip to Half Price Books for my light reads. It looks more enriching than my other choices, and I have some pressure to read it quickly because I think she wants it next. I’ve been partway through Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects for ages now. I spent about a month reading regularly back in February and March when I was taking the train to and from work, had just seen Gone Girl, and was hooked on Gillian. I read Gone Girl and Dark Places first and while Sharp Objects hasn’t hooked me as much as the others did, it’s still an enticing read. Finally, top middle: I’ve been meaning to read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for ages now. Like before the movie came out…which apparently was in 2011. As I said, I’m behind on my reading.

Now, you’re probably thinking: six books in one week seems a tad ambitious. Just remember I started one book long before the trip and the light reads basically count as half books. With hours on hours spent reading this vacation, I have confidence in myself that I can get it done!

What are some books I should add to my lengthening reading list for next time I rekindle my passion or for next time I hit the beach?

Beach Reads