DIY or Don’t: a Lesson on Overcommitting yourself

Hey 20 Somethings! As I’ve written about before, we have come to see that our twenties are not what we expected it to be, but this is a time for us to learn and grow. We may fail or we may succeed. We may make mistakes and we may learn.

Today, I am talking about quitting. Were you ever told that quitting is not an option when you were growing up? Were you told that you are not a quitter? I’m sure a lot of us have to agree that we have heard this from our parents or caregivers at one point or another, in varying degrees. Granted I have always been an overachiever, but at one point in High School, I even remember having to justify to my mom why I wanted to quit swim team, an activity I had felt forced to participate in for at least ten years.

As an overachiever, I naturally try to do too much at once. I pour my heart and soul into everything I do, and let me also point out that I am very stubborn with whatever I put my mind to. I don’t take quitting lightly, and I usually face an internal struggle any time I have to make a huge change in my course of action. During college, it was a struggle to admit to myself that Chemical Engineering just wasn’t going to be my major. After college, it was a struggle to admit to myself that a career in banking just wasn’t for me.

Today, I have to admit defeat on a DIY project that I just could not seem to complete (and yes, I did just put in that much background detail for a DIY fail because this blog is all about the journey). I wanted to repaint an old table and two stools to save some cash. Sounds easy enough right? Living in New York, I only had a limited amount of time to really make this project happen. I planned to use my roommate’s empty room (after she moved out), which meant that I had to work indoors.

In examining the table, it seemed to have thick layers of paint as it looked intentionally distressed. I borrowed my Dad’s power sander and researched how to use one, but through my searching, I also got the idea to use paint stripper to get a more even surface. It’s so easy! It’s comes right off! Not. If you have never worked with paint stripper, let me just tell you it is an incredibly harsh chemical to work with. You need to use gloves, wear a mask, and be prepared for some serious clean-up, which I definitely underestimated. Moreover, you really need to understand the surface you are working with. I thought this table was wood, but it actually turned out to be particle board…not legitimate wood.

Paint stripper on particleboard…not right.

As I began to realize this was no longer a simple DIY, I got even more frustrated with myself. I did not want to quit. I was so excited to use my thrifty, creative skills and bask in the pride of mastering something I have never done before. Once I realized the table was too massive to salvage, I decided to at least try to work with the stools, but I was running out of time.

I wanted this DIY project to be about persevering, not admitting defeat. Finally, I made the conscious decision to cut myself some slack. This wasn’t going to be my success story. I was too busy, too limited, yet I was trying to do too much. Nothing bad would come of me quitting this project; my pride would survive.

We must allow ourselves to give in at times. As I said before, our twenties is not a time to have it all figured out. This is a time to figure ourselves out and appreciate ourselves for who we are. Why kill ourselves to overcommit ourselves? This is a time to enjoy life and enjoy the journey in front of us.

Maybe I would be saying something else if that table was sitting in my kitchen with a fresh color of paint, but it’s not worth wondering what if.

How to move within one week

Woof! September has been a crazy month, and it isn’t even over yet. My boyfriend and I have been looking for the perfect apartment to start our journey towards cohabitation for the past two months. While we were fortunate enough to know a broker, it still was not that easy. It took a lot of time to search online and see a potential apartment in person, only to find out that someone may have gotten their application in before us.

When we lost our number one pick (twice), my broker recommended that we apply to our back up building as those units started getting more views. We submitted the application to find out that we had a few more hurdles to pass based on our credit report (that’s another story I will go through on this blog), which thankfully we were able to succeed. Exactly one week from submitting our application, we signed our lease set to start just five days later! Who knew so much could change in just 2 short weeks?

While I still had my current apartment for another two weeks, we really didn’t want to waste any time settling into the new pad we picked out to share. My boyfriend was living out of a suitcase, and we had no personal space as we were confined to just my bedroom. Since we decided just to go for it, that meant that we were moving exactly one week from signing our lease. Great planning, right?

Just 5 days before we had to move, my head was spinning from the stress. It was overwhelming to think about everything I needed to do or pack. Most articles I’ve read about moving, list out a timeline that allowed for 3-6 months to prepare and pack. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that kind of time, so I wanted to share my moving checklist with all of you. On the off chance that you ever have to move at a such short notice, feel free to use my 20 something movers guide.

Day 1

  • Coordinate and communicate move in date with new management company
    • Make sure you understand the building restrictions and guidelines on moving in and out
    • Schedule a time to pick up keys
  • Coordinate and communicate move out date with old management company
    • Make sure you take care of any fixes the apartment requires to avoid losing your security deposit
    • Schedule a walk-through, if required
  • Take an inventory of everything you have to pack up or throw out
  • Buy packing materials – boxes, packing paper, tape, trash bags
  • Make arrangements with either movers or friends and a U-Haul (if you are moving yourself)
    • If you really are moving on such a short notice, you might have to call around to a few moving companies or be a little flexible with your move in date
    • If you are using movers, be sure to request a certificate of insurance (if your building requires it)
  • Start trashing anything you don’t plan on taking with you (your apartment will quickly turn into an organized mess)
    • Old food
    • Old cleaning supplies
    • Donate clothes you know you won’t wear ever again
  • Start boxing up anything seasonal you don’t need ASAP (winter coats, summer clothes, etc)

Day 2 – 6

  • Submit change of address forms / contact info:
    • Post Office
    • DMV
    • Work information / W2
    • Bank and credit card companies
    • Voter registation
    • Doctors / pharmacies
  • Gather all important documents and store/file in a safe place (to avoid misplacing)
    • Passports
    • Prescription refills
    • Lease agreements
    • Taxes
  • Open all necessary cable & utility accounts
    • Open or transfer cable providers
    • Open electric and/or gas providers for the move out
    • Close other cable & utility providers
  • Clean any dirty laundry to avoid packing dirty clothes with clean clothes
  • Set aside anything you will need on moving date
    • Comfortable clothes and shoes
    • Prescriptions
    • Technology must-haves (phone charger, tablets, etc)
    • Snacks/protein bars
  • Start packing!
    • Use your initial list of inventory to determine what can be packed and labeled together
    • Label all boxes clearly, especially anything fragile

For an added tip, I like to create a checklist by day. It helps keep me organized and efficient with my time. I also like to label all boxes that I will need to open up first after moving.

Day 7: Moving Day!!

  • Make sure to eat breakfast and/or lunch and stay hydrated
  • Keep important documents and belongings with you
  • Take an inventory of everything to be moved (to ensure everything is accounted for off the truck)
  • Count all boxes
  • List all furniture not packed in boxes
  • Be sure to tip the movers afterwards (recommended 15-20% in cash)

And that’s really it! Pop a bottle of champagne and rest your feet after all that moving about. You deserve it!

Have you gone through a similar move? Did I leave anything out? Let me know! I’d love to add in any tips you may have 🙂

The Real Reason I Started a Fantasy Football League

As you may have read in my previous post, I went through a mild depression as I was getting settled in New York City. Within my first few months, someone had said to me, “New York City, it’s a blessing and a curse.” New York can be particularly tough, but in all honesty I think I would have experienced the same rough adjustment anywhere else.

From unpacking boxes to getting lost in a new area, adjusting to a new city starts out exhilarating. But all of that changes as the months go by and routine settles in. Before I knew it, I found myself so stressed I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t remember how to enjoy life.

Enter football season. As my boyfriend rattled on about how excited he is for a new football season, it became apparent that I was going to spend a lot of time watching or hearing about a sport I didn’t really know. I thought, maybe I should make this interesting for myself?

I reached out to my closest girlfriends to see if they wanted to start an all girls fantasy football league. Before I knew it, I was immersing myself in articles online about the best players and draft strategies. I created a spreadsheet to help me draft and watched ESPN fantasy football analysts argue over good and bad players. (Yes, I created a spreadsheet…I am a total nerd.)

While I usually tell people I’m not competitive, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat as I was watching my players gain yards and touchdowns, and I consumed myself with where my team fell within the rankings. This was so exciting! I finally felt like I had something I could fight for. I had a new push and drive to win. I had something to prove.

At a very vulnerable moment, I found something to immerse myself in. Amid all of the loneliness, I found a way to make me feel connected to my friends that were miles away. Even more, it became a great conversation topic when I joined a social sports league in the city. This newfound interest in fantasy football allowed me to regain my competitive nature, and I finally began to feel like myself again.

I ended up winning 1st place in the league that season. We never set up any sort of reward or winnings, but I honestly didn’t care for any of that. After a rough few months, I picked myself up, I fought, and I won. That was just what I needed.

Managing a busy month

Part of growing up is learning to juggle it all. Not that we are expected to, but it’s only natural that we aim to. We watched our mothers and caregivers juggle our schedules along with their own. It is only natural to assume that is expected of us as well.

I don’t believe that as 20 somethings we should be striving to juggle it all, but I do believe in prioritizing what is important to your own lifestyle, especially when your work or study schedule seems to interfere with your overall wellbeing and health.

Currently, I work in a fast-paced and demanding environment. On most days, I walk in not knowing what to expect to come of my work day, and I finish the day strung out and impatient. Adjusting to my new role, this has been the most trying part for me. Setting expectations is very important to me. I can’t properly manage my emotions unless I know what I am in for.

With that being said, I have had to learn to schedule so much of my personal life. One of the first things to ask yourself is, what do I have to achieve outside of work or school? For me, that is allowing time for the gym, grocery shopping, meal prep, and finding sometime to unwind and relax. Over the last few month, I have learned the power of packing a gym bag, the importance of meal prepping healthy lunches and dinners, and the value in finding the “me” time I really need in order to start all over again tomorrow.

Priorities may vary, but a sense of self remains key to myself during the week. August tends to be a crazy month at work, and since I knew that heading into it, I made an effort to pack my gym bag, pack lunch, and more importantly, pack dinner. The first few nights of my late nights at work, I was so impressed by what a difference a 5pm dinner made on my late workout. I don’t condone becoming a slave to your work, but I also don’t condone giving up or putting in a lazy effort either.

Packing dinner became a miracle to my workday evening. My effort at the gym didn’t slack, and I finished up my day with enough energy to make it back uptown afterwards. In addition, I arrived at home still energized to find time to spend on myself, whether that was doing my nails or watching Bravo TV.

My advice to you is to make yourself a priority during rough weeks at work. Whenever you see an opportunity, find the time to log off. If not, find the opportunity to work with your disastrous work schedule. Your mind and body will thank you.

What I know for sure

Entering the “real world” is a slap in the face. All your life you were told told you had to work hard in school to get here. You studied hard during the week, maybe partied hard on the weekend, you spent summers volunteering or interning. You edited your resume or ran through countless practice tests. You made it.

Er, not quite. Living at home? Wrong job? It’s not what you expected. At least, that was my experience. Stuck between familiar and unfamiliar, I felt like a child under the pressure of the professional world. I wanted the independence and privacy that my friends had. I walked downstairs everyday, and was subjected to the fashion police… that was my mom approving my outfit by saying “Oh, you look cute!”

It only took me a few months to realize, I needed to do some soul searching. Living at home bought me time to research what I really wanted in a career. It gave me the confidence to decide I needed a new city to branch out and test myself. How exciting!

Er, not quite. On my next “career path,” I start out on my own, but suffer the loneliness of needing friends in a new city. I struggled to stick to a budget and living with a random stranger. I spiraled into some form of mild depression, and I didn’t know what to do with my free time but cry. This wasn’t want I was expected it to be. How many tries does it take to get post college right?

Post college is a perpetual trial-and-error experiment. However, that doesn’t mean it needs to feel like a hopeless black hole of possibilities. That just means that you have to keep working at it. You have to keep figuring it out.

In my first three years after college, I have learned the harsh reality of those low moments. That you and only you can help yourself. That you have to pull yourself out of the trenches through a series of positive changes and positive thinking.

It is these low moments that allow us to come back stronger, more aware and more appreciatative. It’s so easy to hide under the shame of feeling lost. This is a moment to lean on your family or friends for support. Tell them what you’re going through, ask for solutions, ask them to check in on you.

In a rut? Get back to the things you enjoy! Ask yourself, what are my hobbies? What do I do for fun? You’d be surprised at how hard it is to remember your hobbies in moments of low desperation. Think back to what you used to do before everything went chaotic. For me, I dove back into cooking and reading. I signed myself up for new activities and made an effort to exercise by forcing myself to join a real gym. What a relief to finally have something to harness your energy towards!

Don’t forget to focus on taking care of yourself! Allow yourself simple pleasures that make you feel relaxed and at ease. If you like to be pampered, get a mani/pedi. Take a yoga class and find your zen. Buy yourself something pretty (that doesn’t break the bank). Make an effort to put you and your wants (not needs) first.

Your twenties are not a time to have it all figured out. Be sure to take that pressure off yourself. You are not perfect and no one expects you to be. Anytime a friend comes to me in a rough time, I always say, “don’t beat yourself up.” I try to remind myself not to do too much at once. This is a time to enjoy life. We must continue to develop ourselves, and make an effort to learn how to enjoy this stage in our life. That is what I know for sure.