Andrea, Author at Stratejoy
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As part of Season 1 and the inaugural group of Stratejoy bloggers I had no idea how much this group and Molly would impact my life. I know I’ve said it before, but I really mean it. I’m a firm believer in fate and things happening for a reason and so certain I was chosen to help launch the Stratejoy bloggers because we needed each other, the Stratejoy group and me. I still need them! This group and the power behind conquering a Quarter Life Crisis has shifted my life in a way I never knew possible and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of such an awesome tribe.

It’s inspiring beyond words at times!

So where am I now, four years after my blogging stint with Stratejoy? Surprisingly a ton has changed since my last update in August 2011! I have his theory that life changes in three-month intervals and you would NOT believe what life has thrown my way in the last 8 months.

 

Andrea Genevieve Takes on Teaching

When I moved to Austin in early 2011, I knew I would be teaching undergrads Public Relations at a small private university. What I thought was a once-time- deal has turned into a reoccurring appointment and now I actually teach a Digital Marketing course AND a PR course. I love my students like crazy and they really keep me on my toes. However, this job is in ADDITION to a regular full-time gig and gets pretty hectic. I’m constantly researching and reading about industry trends so I can pass along information to my students. I’ve always  loved the spotlight and  speaking in front of large crowds but now I get to do this 4 times a week in front of students who are interested and want to listen to me. Check that off my 30 Before 30 list!

It’s awesome, but at the same time exhausting. How am I still getting myself into these amazingly tiring situations?

 

Launching a Side Business

As if my life wasn’t full enough, in May 2011 I also launched my business, BrandKit. Since then I’ve modified the scope and direction of my services and products at least once a month. Someday, I hope my business can be just as successful as Stratejoy so I can travel around the USA and meet my clients or speak at SXSW. Even if it was half as successful at helping young professionals through careers or landing their dream job as Stratejoy has been at helping young women through the Quarter Life Crisis years, would be good enough for me. I just brought on my first intern and have started my second round of guest bloggers. Growing the business has been slow, much slower than I anticipated or would really like but I’m being patient. Somedays I still contemplate quitting my day job all together and focusing just on business to get it moving faster. Turns out, I really can’t do that just right now because I need income and insurance more than ever because GUESS WHAT!? I am having a baby!

 

Ooh Baby Baby

Yes, you heard me and can close your mouth from the shock now- I’m going to be a mom in a few short months! Right after Molly actually. Im due in July and can’t believe I will welcome a new little man into my life. (Is 2012 the year for babies and marriages or what?)

 

I’m not sure how I feel about becoming a mommy, but most days I’m excited and anxious to see what its like. Its going to be a total life change for me. This wasnt planned (go figure, ME the PLANNER) and yes its going to be amazing, but still I’m terribly scared and overwhelmed. I’m the first of both my family and my boyfriends to have a baby and totally clueless.

I’m just now started to really show a noticeable belly and find myself getting tired often. Both of which are annoying, but when I feel him kick it’s like, “Holy cow there’s a REAL person inside there!” and it really sinks in. It’s weird, I admit, I say that all the time but I’m getting used to it more and more each day.  I hope to be just as active and involved in my work and community once he’s here- it’s jut going to be a little different. I’m reading tons of books nod finding great ladies to connect with online, most of which have struggled or questioned the transition from busy busy career life to mom life.

 

A House Becomes a Home

For the first time in my life I am happy to say I don’t have a roommate! Unless you count The One, but he’s my boyfriend so I don’t think he does. I love that I have my own space to decorate and have been obsessing over Pinterest DIY and craft ideas in my spare time. I have a house and soon a son- what I have turned into? A grown up or something?!

 

Collecting Passport Stamps

I’ll let you in on a little secret; if you dangle an international trip in front of me I will ALWYS take it. I swear.
Case in point, I spend a week in Costa Rica this past December with a handful of ladies I had never met learning about entrepreneurship, authenticity and letting go of the person everyone pressures me to be. Allie, Sarah, Karen, Gina helped me realize I don’t have to work at my current job forever, I can become a consultant someday (soon) and people WILL pay me for my skills or my ideas. I’m smart and know what I’m doing.
I need to take more trips like this because they always help me see what I’m capable of when I surround myself with inspiration people. You should try it sometime, it’s worth the money and the risk, especially to an exotic location with a fabulous infinity pool.
After the trip I came back and started 2012 with a fresh perspective. I know it’s going to be very different from anything I had planned and this is why my word for the year is “acceptance.” I am not sticking to any plan or any agenda (other than the one my baby is keeping me on!)

I’ve started my own blog again and would love, love, love to keep you all in the loop more often than once a year. So, I invite you to check it out at thinkingmiss.com and let’s keep the conversation going- I can’t be the only one with a crazy busy life at 27!

 

Andrea_I_Love_YouRemember Andrea from our Season 1 Bloggers? It’s been two years since she was in the blogger spotlight and she’s back to check in and update us on what (and where! and who!) the last two years have brought her. 

I’m going to be totally honest here, it’s so crazy to think its been two years since I met Molly and was introduced to the world of Stratejoy. As part of the Season 1 Stratejoy bloggers I’ve had the opportunity to listen and watch as three more groups of amazing ladies grow and change right before my eyes. Some have new homes, new jobs, new directions, new lovers and even new babies!

As for me? Well, its been two years and while some things have changed, others have remained the same. I left off closing one  door and waiting for another one to open. Part of me is still the same Andrea I was in 2009 and part of me is still trying to figure it all out. But you know what? I’m ok with that. Life is full of changes and I’ve learned to embrace those as they come.

Today, I’m sitting here writing this update from Austin, Texas. Gone are the nights I spent gallivanting around Washington, DC and jet-setting across the country for my job. Yes, I really did move to a totally different environment where people walk slower, talk funny and enjoy the sunshine. What I do know is that that coming here was one of the best decisions I could have made and it’s only getting better. Living in DC was perfect for that chapter of my life and now Austin is the best place I could possibly be for this chapter.

In May of this year I became an entrepreneur. I still work full-time (damn you, student loans!) and also teach as an adjunct of PR and Digital Marketing, but somehow managed to find time to launch a business on the side. I hope to find the courage to take the jump and pursue my business full time in 2012. I’m about 80% sure I’m going to go for it. Ok maybe more like 90%.

My business, BrandKit, guides college students and recent grads toward discovering their inner spark. I work with young professionals as a mentor and show them ways to stand out from the competition with branded resumes and portfolios.If you’re interested, I’m looking for guest bloggers too!

I love living in one of the greatest startup capitals of the world and I’m now a full-fledged member of the Gen Y Entrepreneurs Club. Running my own business is challenging, but exhilarating at the same time and there nothing else I would rather be doing with my life right now. My tech, geekiness is really shining through now!

I also took up yoga this year, started riding my little blue bike everywhere and shop at thrift stores for vintage home decor when I have the time. I look forward to home-made breakfast tacos, sunsets over the lake and meeting some of the most innovative, adventurous minds out there at random Austin happy hours.

On one hand, life looks and feels totally different. On the other, my brain and perception of life are still very much the same. I often find myself thinking “Is this really as good as it gets?” or ” Where will I go next?” (which will most likely be Europe if I have my way and can convince The One to move across the pond) And, I don’t consider myself a grown-up yet, because I still struggle with finances and have fears about pursuing my passion.

Through the past two years I’ve worked really hard at calming my brain and coping with life as it comes. I can proudly say I handle situations much better than I used to and don’t feel like I’m moving a million miles an hour. The South, The One (Yes can freely admit now I moved to Austin to be with him and yes we do live together!), some inspiring female entrepreneurs I look up to and a bit of therapy have helped get me to where I am today. I still believe that Happiness is not geographic, and that it’s the people you’re surrounded by, not where you are. 

It’s important that I also say thank you to all of the people I’ve met or crossed paths with over these last two years. I’m grateful to have met a whole crew of amazing people, most of which were because of Molly and Stratejoy. Many times when I meet someone for the first time in person, I feel as if we are already friends.

Some of these ladies are now part of my inner circle and I know we will remain close for a very long time to come. We help keep each other motivated and sane. I see now that in life you really do need others to help get you to where you are supposed to be. We aren’t meant to do it all alone.

If your find yourself heading south, please reach out to me! My home in Austin is your home and there are plenty of cute cafes and shops I can take you to if you come through town for a visit.

There are big things in store for the future, deep down I can feel it. I not sure exactly what will happen tomorrow or later this year, but the possibility is what keeps me going.

Pax et Bonum

“Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
–Robert Frost

Writing for Stratejoy has been one of the best learning experiences of my life. Deep down I am a writer, it’s what I’ve always done…The past 6 months have helped me become an even better writer. This journey has helped me to find my inner voice, which for a writer, is sometimes difficult to do.

Stratejoy has helped me live a better life.

It has truly helped me to focus, sort out things in my head and most of all, find direction. Looking back, I have come to accept that life changes at a rapid pace. Things are so different now then they were six months ago and honestly, that is great!

Before, I would have developed massive anxiety about change and now, I welcome it…. I almost look forward to it. Change is all about one door closing and another presenting itself- be it an obvious door, a hidden door or some type of masked camouflage door. It all depends on how you look at it.

The biggest lesson I have learned through my Joy Plan and writing for Stratejoy, is to be true to yourself. No one can tell you what to do and no one else, but yourself, can make decisions. At the end of the day your life is really up to you.

I’ll be the first to admit though, this can be a huge struggle. I am still struggling with the concept, each and everyday, but it’s a good struggle. It’s a learning process, a Quarterlife Crisis process.

Everyday I remind myself that this is my life.

Think about that idea and for the next few days I invite you to listen to yourself. Take some time to really reflect, you are the only person who knows YOU best. We all have ups and downs, decisions to make, paths to choose. Go with your heart and don’t think about anyone else. The doors are open for you and you only.

As for me, when the next door or path presents itself, I know I’ll be ready. For now though, I’m still here listening, writing, reflecting and waiting.

I’m doing my best to live life for me.

On a final note, I did want to say thank you to everyone at Stratejoy, especially Molly, for inviting me to be part of such a wonderful group of gutsy girls. This is my last post for Stratejoy for now. I am so sad to know I won’t have the opportunity to write at least once a week about my chaotic, fun, crazy life! (No, that is not even a joke!)

I will be writing random updates here and there though, so no worries, I’m not gone forever. I may even make my own personal blog live!

I’d like to welcome and and wish a very good friend of mine, Kelly, good luck as part of Season 2 Stratejoy Bloggers. You will all love her, I am sure. We come from the same hometown and have very recently become friends… actually as a result of both of our Quarterlife Crisis adventures.

Check back to read about her QLC. She’s quite daring and has a special someone in Texas… just like me!

These past 6 months have been an adventure and it was amazing to share, especially with all of you.

Pax et Bonun
(Peace & Goodness)

Andrea

[Andrea, I loved having you as part of the team.  Your wit, you sparkle, your zest for life…  All obvious, all inspiring.  You’ve got a lot of big changes ahead of you and it was incredible to be part of the journey as you started to “figure things out for yourself”.  Believe me when I say this- YOU have made a difference in our lives! Thank You.  Love, Molly]

photo credit : aunto

Looking back, I feel like I have been about 20 different versions of myself over the past 7 years. It’s hard to know whether or not I will become another 20 different version in the coming 7 years….

I hope not.

I would like to think that maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to figure out this thing called life and have less anxiety and fear. Someday, I hope to wake up and say “I’m not living a Quarter Life Crisis anymore!”

Um, that day is not going to be tomorrow or the next day, but, it’s a goal nonetheless.

I’ve learned a lot in the past 7 years, hell I have learned a lot about myself in the past 6 months! It’s made much of my past clear and gives me hope for the future.

If I had kept a journal of all the things I learned, I would be able to tell 18-year-old girls some of those amazing life lessons. I think though, that part of living 18-25 is making mistakes and learning from them on your own.

That’s why its called LIFE- right? Your time to learn through living and being.

However, if I were to look back on my 18-year-old self, I would give the following personal advice:

What would you write to your 18-year-old self?  What valuable lessons have you learned over the past 5 or so years of your life that you wish you could go back and tell yourself?

P.S.- My best friend I look exactly the same today and for that we are super proud!!

I was inspired by Kendra’s post in August about giving it all away and made it a goal to downsize my life before the turn of the new year.

It wasn’t easy, but I spent a weekend and went through my entire room. I was able to get rid of clothes, shoes, bags, belts, jewelry- so much that I hadn’t actually used. I was shocked at all the extra material ‘things’ I had in my possession. It made me realize that I don’t actually need, or want ‘things.’

I had 8 bags of unused ‘things’ just sitting around cluttering my life. It felt so good to get rid of them. I donated it all to Goodwill so I hope ‘things’ that were of no use to me, may be able to help someone else.

It made me see that things sort of tie you down. They hold you back and usually remind you of the past. I want to change my mentality where I hold on to things. It’s time to grow up, move on and get rid of the stuff.

I’ve always been envious of people who didn’t need things to keep them happy. I want to be one of those people.

I’m learning that people and places make me happy, memories make me happy- not things. One day I will only have a small pile of things. A pile so small that if I want to pack up and move or visit an exotic country I wouldn’t need many things. I won’t feel so attached to material possessions.

I won’t even miss them!

I have a simple strategy to figure out what can stay and what can go: every few weeks I look around at my ‘things’ and take a few of them I haven’t used in months and put them in a bag. Then, I put that bag in the trunk of my car (or someplace where I won’t see it everyday.) If a few more months go by and I still don’t realize these things are gone, they get donated to Goodwill or sold online or unloaded through this nifty network of people giving things away called Freecycle.

Try it sometime. It’s worked for me. Memories will always be there, you don’t need ‘things’ to remind you of the good times (or the bad!). Take some time this month and start your 2010 off right.

Downsize your life and keep what really matters.


Six months ago, when I first started writing for Stratejoy I made a list of 30 things to do before I’m 30. I constantly consult it and through my time with Stratejoy, I have inched my way closer and closer to completing this list.

In 2009, I completed 4 things from last list and in 2010 I hope to do even more. Right off the bat, only a few days into the new year, I crossed off one of my most challenging things.

I cut my hair.

I have had long blond hair my entire life. I consider it almost like a superpower, because so few 20-somethings have long blond hair these days. Yesterday, I cut my hair off. I have never, ever had short hair and now I do. It’s like a piece of me is gone, its the strangest feeling!

In the car driving to the appointment I was freaking out, per usual when it comes to some sort of change in my life. (Over the past 6 months I’ve learned to handle most situations that give me anxiety, yes, but really what girl doesn’t freak out about her hair?)

The one thing that kept me focused was knowing no matter how it turned out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Change does not equal the end of the world.

People tend to associate change with terms like “scary” or “unknown.”  It doesn’t have to be that way. Change can be a good thing, and it usually is. Change is only what you make of it.

I have a feeling 2010 its going to be a great year of change. For me, I started it off with a physical change and my hair! I’m also applying for a Doctoral program, so that will most definitely be a mental challenge and change. Finally, even though I won’t officially be part of Stratejoy in the coming year, I hope to continue to write on my own, practice reflection and yoga and work my way through this Quarterlife Crisis in my own spiritual way.

My theme for 2010 is Keep Calm and Carry On.

Happy New Year QuarterLifers! What changes lie ahead for you?

What is your passion? If you had to write a phrase explaining yours, what would it be?

While spending an amazing family weekend with my mom and sister in NYC, we talked a lot about the past and pondered over the future. I was still trying to come up with a topic for my Personal Statement and I think I may have found it.

I’m going to write about passion.

My passion is to mentor others, just as special people in my life have been a mentor figure for me.

I have this theory that everyone is born with passion. The challenge in life  is to discover that passion, and then really conquer it. I see too many people living passion-less lives. We only get one shot at life so why not try to find our passion in the time we’ve got, right?

If you are having a hard time figuring out your potentials passion try this excercise. Get out a piece of paper and try to fill in the blanks:

Its ok if you aren’t living your passion at this exact moment, just as long as you are aware that YOU have one and there is potential to achieve that dream someday.

It’s a tricky question, isn’t it?

It takes some serious thought. Maybe too much thought for the time you have set aside to read this Stratejoy blog, but think about it later today, tomorrow or over the next few days and see what you come up with. Write it on a little piece of paper and tuck it in your wallet. Go back and look at it from time to time.

Then, share it with me. I told you my passion and I’d love to hear yours.

Everyone is born with passion, what is yours?

photo credit : faithful chant

I love words. Ask anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes.

Because of this love, I am obsessed with an awesome technology tool called Wordle. It lets you take tons of words and organize them, customize a font and create an amazing pieces of artwork.

It’s been almost 6 months now that Stratejoy has been publishing blog posts by fabulous QuarterLifers like myself, and I wanted to see what we have been talking about. I took all of our blogposts and submitted the words to Wordle. I was really excited to see what our most popular topics would be!

Take a look at the surprise I found when Wordle created this piece:

worlde.stratejoyWhats the first thing you see?

Wordle: Stratejoy Blog Topics

I see “Always, Think, Happy”

I kinda like that mantra. It reminds of Finding Nemo when the fish Dori repeats, “Just Keep Swimming” to little Nemo. If I just “Always Think Happy” maybe this time of crisis won’t seem so chaotic.

It’s worth a shot!

The main topic of all of our blogs during the past 6 months of crisis has been Happiness. Every form of the word from Happy, to Happiest, to Happiness, to Happier. See a pattern here? I wonder if happiness, and the path to finding what that is, could be the key to life.  Something to think about….

If you look closely you’ll also find  “Living, Grateful, Confidence, Family, Time, Life, Bliss.” All positive words! I’m really proud us gutsy girl bloggers- Way to go! Nice use of words if I do say so myself.

Keep it up, we are all in this together.

Always

Think

Happy

Andrea (new) bio.

Graduation CapsThat’s what my adviser said as he handed me my Master of Arts diploma in 2007. “Two down, one to go.” It took me a minute to realize what he was talking about, but eventually my blond head understood.

He was giving me the go ahead to pursue my dream of obtaining a Ph.D. He was giving me confidence and his support.

From reading this blog you know I have many goals in life, but this one is a biggie.

Probably one of the biggest right up there next to getting married. They are on par, as far as seriousness and grown-upness goes.

Both are incredibly time consuming, expensive and they both change your name. One day, I could be Dr. Andrea Michnik. (Until I do get married, if and when that happens, and then my name will change AGAIN…. it’s so weird to think about!)

I am applying to become a Ed.D candidate for the Fall of 2010 and so excited at the possibility of going back to school! I’m not insanely book smart, or obsessed with research, but I do love school. A whole lot.  Someday I’d like to teach and help students discover how to get the most out of their college years.

In a few weeks I will take the MAT (instead of the GRE) and prepare my personal statement for my application. I am having some trouble deciding what to write that will express the most about me. I need to impress people I have never met in 800 words or less. I have to convince them that I am thrilled to become a student and that this program is a good match for me.

I want them to know about my quirks, my serious side, my interest in journalism, media and technology. I want them to see that even though I have no formal background in education, I have always acted as a mentor or teaching in some form throughout much of my semi-adult life. I want them to know I am different than most doctoral candidates; I’m not pursing this degree to inflate my ego.

The program I am apply for is under the department of Education, focusing on Curriculum and Instruction. However, like I said, I don’t have a education degree. I’ve never even taken a class on education or instruction. My background is in journalism, media, marketing and public relations.

How do you promote yourself on paper in less that 800 words?

Its a tough challenge and I’m not sure how to go about starting something like this task. I haven’t a clue how to do it. I’ve spent hours one rainy night at Borders looking up ‘Personal Statement’ examples in college prep books. I even started making a list of topics I could write about. It’s hard.

This personal statement could make or break my acceptance into the program. Its very stressful!

As a writer, I want to make sure this piece is perfect and explains who I am and my goals clearly. Every time I try to write it though, my computer screen just stares back at me. I’ve hit a mental road block.

So this is where you, the Stratejoy Tribe, come into play.  I need your help!  Seriously.

What do you do when you don’t know where to begin?

All tips and suggestions are welcome!

Andrea (new) bio.

photo credit : m00by

opportunityEvery Thanksgiving holiday, right before dinner,  I make everyone in attendance write on a little slip of paper what they are thankful for that year. It’s a silly little game I like to play, because we put them all in a dish and pass it around reading each one out loud.

The fun part is trying to figure out who wrote what.

Sometimes its really easy, sometimes its really hard. Sometimes they are random things like a favorite food, “Uncle Ken’s Cheesecake” and other times philosophical, “I’m thankful for the world.”  (Um, that was what I wrote when I was 9, I’m strange, I know.)

This year was especially tough, because my grandmother on my dad’s side recently became very ill. She doesn’t have a disease and she’s not hurt, she’s just getting old. It’s probably one of her last Thanksgivings and I don’t deal well with death. It’s my biggest fear.

I haven’t really had many people close to me pass on, and this is just sad because its happening slowly. I know she’s had an amazing life but I am worried at how her passing will affect other people, especially my dad. I worry about him a lot.

My grandma, Gramma Lou, always talks about the crazy things I do with my life. To be honest, I do most of them because of her and my dad, to prove to them there are so many opportunities out there and it’s not crazy to try and seize them all.

This past year I’ve had so many opportunities; I’m entirely thankful for each and everyone.

I’m not an overly spiritual person, however, the way I pray to whoever is upstairs is by giving thanks. I never “ask” for things, I just say thanks. It is my way of recognizing that I am blessed with opportunity. When I feel like good things have happened to me, I give a nod to the powers that be, who allowed me the chance to have such opportunity.

Life would be very different without opportunity.

Of course, I am always grateful for people, relationships and friendships. I’ve seen in the past year how important people are in a person’s quest for happiness and joy. That is a given, every day of my life. But, this year is special and when I really sat and thought about it, none of it would have been possibly without opportunity.

I am the person I am today because of opportunity.

Andrea (new) bio.

world mapIn my last post I talked about an amazing book I read while traveling on my Eastern Europe Adventure called, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.

I wanted to share some insight and ideas from the book about happiness and the search for the Good Life.

Seemed very appropriate for those of us living through a Quarter Life Crisis, since travel and moving are re-occurring themes.

Excerpts from The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

  1. “We create our own happiness and the first step in creating is imagining.”
  2. People who live in Iceland have the right mentality, in that no matter how bleak life seems, things will always work out. I like that theory.
  3. Some cultures are collectivist, while some (like America) are individualistic. Collectivist are happier than individualists cultures. Go figure.
  4. “Happiness and unhappiness are not opposite sides of the coin. They are two different coins.” Think about that the next time you are unhappy.
  5. Happiness is a choice.
  6. “Helping others makes us feel good.”  As humans we are programed to help others, it makes us happy. So maybe if you are unhappy, try helping someone in need.
  7. “People are not likely to be happy if they don’t have control over their lives.”
  8. I think this line was written specifically for me, ” Happy people have no reason to think; they live rather than question living.” Thinking about happiness makes us LESS happy.
  9. “Add up all the pleasurable aspects of your life, then subtract the unpleasant ones. The result is your overall happiness.”
  10. “The worlds happiest nations tend to be the most ethnically homogeneous.”
  11. Americans hate unpredictability, while some cultures thrive off it and are happy because of it.
  12. Love is higher than happiness.
  13. Ambition may sabotage happiness. If you constantly are striving to reach some extraordinary level of happiness, you will strive your entire life.
  14. “America’s current fixation with finding happiness coincides with an era of unprecedented material prosperity.”
  15. We as Americans are less happy than we were 50 years ago. Which is ironic because compared to many countries we have access to different things that could make us happy, where most cultures do not.
  16. Some Americans move because they think it will make them happier, however, people give themselves permission to be different in different geographic regions so moving may not necessarily be the answer.
  17. “We may be fairly happy now but there’s always tomorrow and the prospect of a happier place. We can’t love a place or a person though if we have one foot out the door.”

*Spoiler Alert: If you plan on reading this book DO NOT read the next paragraph!!

In the Epilogue of the book, Weiner summarizes and says: “Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude.”

I want to know what is your happiest geographic place and why? Are you there right now? Why or why not? What do you think about geography, travel and happiness?

Andrea (new) bio.

photo credit : pearlsofjannah

BlissbookPrior to my Eastern Europe Adventure, I stopped in to Borders to find a couple books to take with me on my two week excursion. Isn’t it always so hard to find the perfect travel book?

I kept getting frustrated because almost every book I picked up was about the cliche young wife, with 2.5 children and the new home who suddenly woke up one day and decided she didn’t like her mundane suburban life anymore.

Not exactly the type of reading material I was looking for. I wanted self- discovery, adventure or something empowering.

I wandered over to the travel section and I think fate brought me to this interesting book, “The Geography Of Bliss– One Grump’s Search for the Happinest Places in the World.” It was perfect! I thought to myself, “Who isn’t searching for ultimate happiness these days? Isn’t that part of why I’m going on this adventure? To see if I could be happier in another geographic location?”

At some point or another in our lives we are all involved in la chasse au bonheur, the hunt for happiness as the French say. Have you ever wondered “What exactly  is the Good Life?” I purchased the book using my Reward Member coupon and waited until I was on my trans-Atlantic plane to begin the journey through 10 different countries with author Eric Weiner, former NPR journalist on his quest to find location-based bliss.

Weiner strategically consults the World Database of Happiness, (this is a real thing!) complied by Dutch professor Ruut Veenhoven, located in the Netherlands to determine which countries he should visit for his study. As I journeyed through Eastern Europe, I followed along Weiner throughout his travels to The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and America.

Ever since I read the Alchemist over a year ago, I now have this habit of writing in books and underlying phrases. Here are some phrases and ideas that caught my eye:

  1. “Happiness is not inside of us, but out there.”
  2. “Most people in the world report they are happy.” – but are they really?
  3. “Envy is the great enemy of happiness.” – According to the Swiss
  4. Its a genetic disposition of humans to find peace in nature. This is called the biophilia hypothesis by E.O. Wilson
  5. There is a serious relationship between trust and happiness.
  6. “The Swiss consumer mass amounts of chocolate, and there is some credible evidence that chocolate makes us happier.”
  7. I actually learned this in college and was reminded in the book that in modern languages we have far more words to describe negative emotion than positive. Think about that.
  8. “In America, few people are happy but everyone talks about happiness constantly.”
  9. “All happiness is relational.”
  10. Unfortunately, money does buy happiness for some people, but only up to a point.
  11. We may not need as much as we think we do, in order to genuinely be happy.
  12. Even though travel is good for the soul, “Humans, even nomadic ones, need a sense of home. Home holds a sense of community and even more important, a history.”
  13. “70 percent of our happiness stems from our relationships,” meaning one of our greatest sources of happiness is other people.
  14. I thought it interesting that spirituality is linked to happiness, but, it may not the belief in God that makes humans happy simply a belief in something, anything.
  15. People who are too busy are happier than those who are not busy enough AND materialistic people are less happy than people who are not. Basically, if you have lots of “things” but don’t participate in any activity you are probably one of the most unhappy humans on the planet.

These were just a few phrases that made me stop and think. Do any of them call to you?  Which do you agree or disagree with it?

I’m going to share a few others from the second half of the book next week so be sure to check back to learn more about the search for bliss.

Andrea (new) bio.

Europe AdventureA few months ago, I was having a bummer of a day when I randomly decided to stop at the travel agency located on the college campus where I work. At the spur of the moment, I put a down payment on a 12-day tour through Eastern Europe.

Crazy and spontaneous, I know. But, trust me I needed it!

Why Eastern Europe, the Cold countries, during the cold month of October? Well, I’ve been to “regular” Europe and 2 years ago I explored a handful of cities in China. I wasn’t looking for a tropical paradise… I wanted adventure… Eastern Europe it was. Plus, Poland was one of the countries highlighted on the trip and given my ancestoral background, Poland had made it on to my list of 30 Things To Do Before I’m 30.

Taking this trip was honestly one of the most gutsy things I have done in the past few years of my life.

I booked the trip without consulting anyone’s advice (a major feat if you really stop to think about it), I didn’t know a single thing about any of the places I’d be staying, and I didn’t know a single person going on this tour. All I knew was I would be with 19 to 30-year-olds from all over the world for 12 days, through 6 countries, visiting 9 cities.

Sitting at the Dulles airport that afternoon before my takeoff, I can only describe my mood as terrified. However, this was something in the back of my mind I knew I could do… but it was still a huge personal challenge to see how I would manage with all of the ‘unknowns.’

My biggest fears were really silly:

I’ve been back almost a week now and guess what? I survived! Not only did I survive, but I think I thrived.

It was honestly one of the best random decisions of my life. My mother reminded me that my spontaneous decisions are always my best ones. Somehow, I tend to forget this, but she’s so right! I came full circle from almost crying because I was scared to go on this trip, to almost crying because I didn’t want to come home.

Funny how life works out like that, isn’t it?

I ended up meeting the best people on my trip.  It was so enlightening to meet 2o new people from around the world because now I have places to visit and new friends to call on! My roommate did not think I was weird (well she may have,) but we still got on great and ran around Eastern Europe exploring new cities, eating delicious food and sampling some of the finest beers.

Did we get lost? Sure we did! Almost everyday and it wasn’t scary at all, it was fun! It was all part of living, learning and facing scary places and new people.

So, I challenge you as readers and fellow ladies living through a Quarter Life Crisis, to do one thing that scares you over the next few months. Maybe even make a decision all by yourself, without consulting friends or family. Challenge yourself and you may come out learning more about yourself and the world around you than you ever thought possible.

Andrea (new) bio.

Texan Sky

“Love happens under a Texan sky.”

I have said those three little words to 2 boys in my life and actually meant it. One was my high school sweetheart, the other was my ex BF who I dated for 2 years and became such a solid part of my life that my 80-year-old grandmother still asks about him.

I think a lot about my current situation and found this quote the other day that totally relates:

“Everyone has a “one” before The One. You know… that one you THINK you’re going to end up with… but really they are just practice.”

It’s so true in my case.

Daniel and I had a very shaky beginning and we are just getting to the point where things are solid.

Ironically, we went to the same high school, but didn’t know each other because he is older (I do love those older men!) We ended up meeting later in life, in graduate school. Our entire almost year relationship has been long distance, since day one, so it’s not your typical girl-meets-boy-and-falls-in-love scenario with the happily-ever-after. He lives in a different time-zone!

I’m lucky if we get to see each other once a month and that’s only because my boss is great and lets me jump on planes when I ask.

Because of my ex BF, it took me a long time to admit that I cared about Daniel and an even longer time for me to admit to myself, my friends and family that he was my boyfriend. Those three little words came in time, when I was ready to admit to myself that he mattered much more than any boy had ever mattered to me before.

I couldn’t even refer to him as my boyfriend for the LONGEST time, he was simply the Texas Boy, my Lover and finally graduated to his current status of Boyfriend- capitol letter “B.”

He and I have something really special, something that I don’t really talk to my friends about or my mom even. I try really hard to not be “that girl” who just talks about her boyfriend all the time. We both view this relationship as the most “real” experience we’ve ever had and I don’t need to validate that to other people.

I do love him and it’s a different kind of love than any of my previous experiences. It feels comfortable, relaxed and just right. When I’m with him its as if all the chaos in my mind melts away and I really enjoy life for what it is. He makes me feel real, like the most genuine version of me… and that’s something I have been searching for.

So, this post is my attempt at owning up to my relationship and getting things out in the open. For me and for him. Yes, it’s real, yes, I love him and yes, I want to be with him…. for a long, long, time if you get my drift.

Life is just better when we are around each other.  As it stands, that isn’t very often, but someday when the time is right I’ll finally have a relationship that doesn’t require airplanes. For right now, this totally unrealistic situation with the most unrealistic person you’d ever pair me with is my reality… and I love it.

Since the beginning, our relationship has not been like anything out of a tv show, movie or book. It’s taken me a long time to realize that there is no manual and no directions for a relationship.

When you follow your heart and just live life, that’s when the best things happen.

Andrea (new) bio.

money on treesYou know the saying, “Money makes the world go round?” Sometimes I wish it wasn’t true.

Lately, I have had this fear that I will be poor for rest of my life. Why does money have to matter so much?

I didn’t exactly come from a rich or a poor family, but as an individual I am seriously terrible with personal finances. I’ve worked since I was 16 years old and have always had my own money, but I just can’t seem to wrap my hands around sustaining a budget. I’m not in serious credit card debt, but I don’t have this huge savings account either.

Having a lot of money sitting around has never been a priority to me.

There have been many friends and family who have attempted to show me how they manage things…. but it never works. I am still living pretty much paycheck to paycheck and I’m 25  years old. It’s sad and upsets me. Just this past week I started my 401K… I’ve been working for 3 years now (so embarrassing!)

It may have something to do with the fact that some of the best jobs in the world pay crap and the worst ones pay tons! All of the things I have done with my career, or want to do, aren’t exactly six-figure salary gigs. Sometimes when I play the “What my Life COULD have been if I…..” game, I think about if I would have taken a different job that paid better, or stayed with my ex boyfriend, who was on the fast track to the top of the corporate ladder, or maybe thought twice about traveling so much.

Money is the cause for so much stress in individual life, its no wonder its the leading cause for divorce among couples and fighting among friends and family.

Why can’t money just grow on trees? Wouldn’t that solve everything?

Everyday I check Twitter and Craigslist and Facebooks for potential jobs in writing, blogging or even internships in social media. (If you know of any send them my way please!) With the holidays coming up and taking my Eastern Europe Adventure I am going to be more broke I have ever been in my entire life.

It’s not a good feeling. Not when I see other people my age buying houses or new cars or starting a family.

I couldn’t do any of those things, even if I wanted to because I’d never be able to afford them.

I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I may not have grown up “things” to show for myself, but I do have a lot of experiences, adventure and subsequently amazing stories and memories.

Aren’t those worth just as much as say, a house?

Andrea (new) bio.

intense conversationGiving Advice

We all do it.  When it comes time to make a decision we ask someone for their advice. For some, advice is based on experience “Well, when that happened to me I…” or vicariously injecting themselves into your situation, “If I were you, I would….”

For others, advice is based on simple inner wisdom.

I am going to be the first to admit, I am terrible at making decisions. I weigh the options too much and carefully overthink each choice. My biggest fear is that I will make the wrong decision and regret my choice. Ever feel that way?

Advice is tough to give.

I don’t feel like I’m experienced enough to give my thoughts. Most of the time, people don’t even listen to advice — they just want someone to agree with them.

Sometimes, you’ll get that friend, family member or colleague who continually keeps asking for advice on the same issue but they never listen!   I know this happens with my mother and her friends and she gets frustrated. It’s happened to me a bunch and its come to the point where I have to stop and think, “What is the real purpose of advice?”

The problem with advice is it’s always relative to the person and the situation. No two situations will ever be the same, yet we try to find one similar or someone who has experienced the same type of dilemma in hopes of finding that magical answer. We look for advice everywhere, from books, to movies, magazine, television shows, novels, friends, lovers, parents, grandparents, bosses, characters in a play, quotes from the past, psychics, telephone hotlines and even YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.

Deep down, I think we all are well aware of the choices we need to make. It’s just a matter of having someone other than yourself validate your choice outloud that makes it definitive and real.

Receiving Advice

When I was growing up my mother would always tell me, “If you are stuck and don’t know what to do, help someone.” I’d like to think that while I’m struggling with my Quarter Life Crisis and figuring out what to do with myself, at least I am helping out by sharing my stories through Stratejoy.

I may not give the best advice, but I can listen and if you want my opinion I’ll most certainly give it. I’m pretty sure every kind of advice I give should be taken with a grain of salt though, because really I’m still trying to figure out this whole thing called life.

Who has given you the best advice and what was it?

Andrea (new) bio.

photo credit : elthenerd

I must confess, I am an avid fan of Twitter. In the media field, Twitter is an essential part of connecting and conversing within communities. Many people have told me they don’t understand it or think its stupid- and that’s fine- but for me, Twitter is a never ending stream of resources, things to read and just general cool stuff.

Nicole Is BetterOnce in a while, I do random searches on Twitter for more blogging jobs or my personal curiosity, and I recently stumbled upon a fabulous fellow 20-something, Nicole Ross (@nicoleisbetter) living through a Quarterlife Crisis. Read about her story and I’m sure you will feel like you have known her for years, just like I did!

By the way, for any prospective employers out there, Nicole is a top-notch writer so be sure to send her some opportunities or contacts if any happen to cross your path.

I’m Not The Only 20-Something Suffering From a Quarterlife Crisis

AM: Nicole, tell me some fun things about you. What are you interests, hobbies and life goals.

RN: Hmm, let’s see. My life is pretty much a combination of traveling, writing, and continually searching for inspiration. My unofficial goal is to meet every single person on the planet. I’m overwhelmingly in love with: the world, iced tea, black & white photos, memoirs, giant hoop earrings, wine, eyeliner, pigtails, lists, and people who care enough to make a difference.

AM: I have an obsession with black and white photos & lists too!  How old are you Nicole?

NR: 24 ; I’ll be 25 next June

AM: What are you currently doing for a career or school?

NR: I spent the past five summers running a children’s summer day camp in Southern California, and while I absolutely loved working with kids and living by the beach, I always had the sneaky, unavoidable desire to give it all up to write and travel the world. So now, as of just last week, that’s officially what I’m doing, living the life of a Professional Nomad!

AM: I used to work at a day camp too and I have to say it was the best years of my working life! So tell me, what does that mean to be a “Professional Nomad” ?

NR: I’m terrified, of course, as is the norm for any “give up your safety net to follow your dreams” scenario, but I’m thrilled to finally be taking the risk to achieve what I’ve always wanted.

AM:When did you realize you were entering a QLC?

NR: The QLC crept up on me right after college. I graduated a year early and really had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do, what I could do, and how to be a “real adult.” Because, that’s the thing about college: it’s the culmination of 18 years of being told what to do, of following a syllabus, and then you get thrown off the academia train and realize that oh, there’s no syllabus for life and um, where the heck am I supposed to go from here?

AM: What happened?

NR: I bounced around a lot during the early months, especially since my non-traditional summer camp Director position allowed for a pretty flexible lifestyle. I tried different things, part-time jobs, hobbies, boyfriends, and nothing really stuck. I kept coming back to my camp, summer after summer, because it was comfortable, because it was what I did straight after college and something I knew I could do well.

Sometime during this past summer though, I knew I was ready to move on. I knew that what I wanted, more than anything, was to travel and meet as many people as possible and write and and write until my hand fell off. Figuring that out was easy, actually taking the leap was the insanely difficult part.

AM: What are some issues you face on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?

NR: I tend to constantly do the “OH MY GOSH WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE??” thing. Which is fun, clearly. I continue to face the big question of my generation, the “you have so much potential and so many opportunities, how are you going to make your mark?” I think I struggle with that a lot, with the feeling that I need to be incredible and that there’s some kind of timeline on it, that it should be happening rightthissecond and that I’m failing if I’m not blowing the walls off of everything at once.

AM: That seems to be a common trend among us 20-somethings, we have no idea what we are doing with our life! How have you dealt with these challenges?

NR: I’m definitely still dealing with them; it’s a consistent internal battle. The main way I try to combat it is to just be nice to myself. To realize that all I can do is the best that I can do, and that if I’m being true to myself and my values and my dreams, things will probably all fall together pretty well in the end.

AM: What have you learned so far, since your QLC began?

NR: I’ve learned that I need to rely on other people to get through it. As different as we all are, I feel that our similarities far outweigh that and at the end of everything, people are what really matter.

AM: If there is one tip you could give other women living though a  QLC, what would it be?

NR: Listen to yourself. I mean really listen. More often than not, the problem isn’t that we don’t know what we want, it’s that we don’t know how to get it, or don’t think we deserve it, or any other pile of excuses for why we’re not living our best possible life. Recognizing what you want is key, recognizing it and then respecting yourself enough to follow through with it.

AM: Thanks for sharing your story Nicole and good luck with all of your adventures.

To contact Nicole, follow her on Twitter @nicoleisbetter (She’s awesome!)

Andrea (new) bio.

beachandrea

I can’t even believe that thirteen weeks have gone by since we all started blogging about the “Quarterlife Crisis”.  As, I look back over my posts and my very first introduction post, I gotta say I’ve done a lot over the past 3 months!

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Molly for posting this opportunity on HARO (if you are a journalist, PR professional, HR rep or in corporate communication and do not know what HARO is, you should so take a look at it right NOW)

So far, I think this experience has done wonders for my chaotic mind and really helped me to see which areas of my life I struggle with (anxiety and work) and which parts of my life are just awesome (my friends, family, Beau and living in DC)!

Here is a general recap of the past 13 weeks, just in case you haven’t had time to read them all or if you are just discovering Stratejoy. Enjoy!

Direct From Washington DC, 13 Weeks Of A QuarterLife Crisis

Andrea (new) bio.

globesWhen I first heard of Stratejoy and the adventures of wonderful Miss Molly Hoyne, the one thing that really struck me was her year-long travel excursion. I was so jealous!

Reading through other QLC blogger posts, I’ve noticed that travel is a common theme among all of us. From Robyn taking some time to go through Europe, to Kendra moving from NYC to Montreal and back to NYC again, it seems like travel and exploring are crucial parts of the Quarterlife Crisis.

I grew up traveling up and down the east coast on family vacations and consider myself extremely lucky to have had these many opportunities. I have this theory that you can always tell when you meet a person, if they travel or not.

It’s just something about they way a person looks at the world.

I also think it has a lot to do with the mentality of Generation Y.  We are a restless bunch and it’s hard to sit still. We want to be a part of this crazy, exciting world! (I know I generalize here, so feel free to disagree with me.)

In high school, I went to Europe for two weeks and then in graduate school spent an amazing three weeks in China. Those were both trips I never in a million years thought I would take, yet I went because the opportunity presented itself. I’m the type of person that if given a chance to explore, I will take it in a heartbeat, regardless of the cost. (Probably why I am 25 years old and broke as a joke. I would rather say I saw the world then saved money. You only live once right?)

Lately, I have been feeling the itch to get up and go. Maybe not move, but take some time to see how other people live.

Sometimes I feel bad and selfish though, because I travel often for my job.  Over the past two years, I have been to a dozen states and track the cities on a map in my room. I love traveling for work, there is no way I would be able to sit still in an office or cubicle from 9-5.

While sitting at my desk at work though, daydreaming, I think about taking a three-month leave of absence from work to travel along the Mediterranean. I contemplate driving cross country with my roommate or visiting a friend in London.

I mean, when else in my life will I have the chance to go? I’m not responsible to a family, a house or elderly parents. Someday, I will look back on this point in my life and I want to be sure I lived it to the fullest.

Travel plays a huge part in my life. You could say I was born with the travel bug.

Thinking of traveling? Need help with direction or inspiration?

STA Travel
Heard of STA Travel? They are an amazing travel agency offering trips all over the globe to young people and teachers. They have this fabulous internship given to two lucky students each year. The students travel around the country (for free) documenting the journey though photos, short videos, blogs and updates. How awesome?!

Travelzoo
Travel deals galore! I subscribe to Travelzoo updates and constantly look for affordable, exotic trips. Travelzoo sends email updates once a week on flights, hotels, package deals, last minute excursions and more to the most fabulous places around the world. Try it, I’m obsessed.

Work Abroad
Great jobs are not limited to just the USA. Friends of mine have participated in working internship programs from London to Paris and Australia. Go see what it’s like to work in a different country.

Experience The World Without Leaving Home
Visit online travel communities like Lonely Planet, read the colorful Conde Naste Traveler or catch an episode or two of fun shows on the Travel Channel.

And now for some REALLY BIG NEWS!

I am going to Eastern Europe in October! I discovered a great company called TopDeck which offers some non-traditional travel excursions fro 18-30 year olds. I’ve booked a trip for twelve days through the six countries of  Germany, Czech Republic, Poland (the motherland! I can’t wait to tell my Grandma!) Slovakia, Hungary and Austria.

I am so excited because I’ve wanted to go someplace, anyplace and I chose to do this trip solo, just for me. Plus, going to Poland is on my list of things to do before in 30, so look out Poland here I come!

Andrea (new) bio.

photo credit: greg_robbins

fam at the beach

Every year, since I was 15 years old, my family and I have taken a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina during the last week of August. It is pretty much the only time out of the whole year (not including when I get sick or hungover) where my brain can calm down a little and I literally DO NOTHING.

To some people, this is really easy.

For me, its really really hard.  Relaxing is a challenge… to say the least.

Outerbanks

This is a picture of the Outer Banks. It in my go-to-special-place in my head that image when someone says “Imagine yourself in your most relaxed state.” It’s no Mexico or Caribbean, but its what I visualize each and every time.

This year, it was a lot harder than most years to “do nothing.” I am still trying to get it through my head that its ok to relax and everyone deserves some calm down time. Since I am obsessed with lists, I thought I would make a list of a few key things that I know can calm me down and see what others due to relax or calm down when life gets to be too much to handle.

My Go To Relaxation List

Those are my top things that I like to do to take my mind off the stress and general feelings of overwhelming daily life. What are some of your recommendations? What would be on your list?

The bottom line, everyone deserves to relax, even you! So, if you haven’t done something for yourself in a while, make it a goal do so soon. Problems, issues, work and life will always be there.

Take a break, take a breath and relax.

*PS I also decided to de-stress my life by getting rid of my Blackberry and downgrading to a regular, normal generic cell phone. Blasphemous in this day and age I KNOW, but I’ve decided it’s unecceasry to be tied to technology 24/7. Try it for yourself and see…*

findyoursoulHmm… Now this is really a loaded question: Do we have control over our lives? I took a lot of time to think about this and honestly my answer changes on a daily basis.

For most of my life, I think that I was under the impression that Yes, we do have control over our lives. That was my answer, until I started to lose control over my life about a year ago, at the advent of my Quarterlife Crisis…

Since then I have learned a thing or two about life!

One of which, being we do NOT have control over most aspects of our lives.

I have learned that we can control our actions and our reactions but we can not control what happens in the world around us or the people that may walk in and out of our lives.  All of these factors affect who we are, so in essence, we are constantly changing based on the environment which surrounds us.

Over the past year, I have been struggling tremendously with the issue of control… I still am.

So far, the most important lesson I have learned is, that at this point in my life, it is better to shake loose that idea of having 100% control. When I try to plan my life, it never goes the way I expect and that often leaves me stressed, disappointed or frustrated.

I tried something new a few months ago and started to push away those thoughts or attempts to have control 100% of the time.

I am not superhuman, I am not perfect and life does not always go as planned. A lot of times I use the mantra, “It’s okay, everything will be okay,” just to remind myself that no matter what happens the sun will rise tomorrow. And tomorrow will be a new day, a fresh start and a different take on life. No matter what happens it can be fixed, there is always a plan B or even a plan C.

Ironically, I have been so much happier since I lost the idea of total control. Don’t get me wrong though, I still have challenges: some days I feel my life is totally spiraling out of control and other days I feel completely balanced and at ease.  It’s been a roller coaster ride for me the past year and I’m not done yet.

Control is a tough topic. I think its different for everyone. I don’t have an answer yet to whether or not I have control over my life.

I’m leaning toward, “No, I don’t” and accepting that LACK of control may just be what life is all about.

Andrea (new) bio.

photo credit: mythoto

Throughout this summer, I spent a few weekend back in my small home town outside of Buffalo, NY to spend time with family and friends. Usually, I pretty much end up doing a lot of thinking and eating. I always try to sleep a lot too, but that never works.

One weekend was for my Gramme’s 70th birthday party. It was a Mardi Gras theme and we had about 100 jello shots and the first keg my house has ever seen. (Seriously, I did not grow up as a big partier, so this was a big deal for my dad to have a keg at the house.)

The other weekend was to help my roommate throw a bachelorette party for her best friend.

On both of these trips I got to thinking about my friends. Growing up and even now, I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a ton of friends. I mean, I do have friends, yes, but only a few that I can count on my hand that are truly my BEST friends in the entire world. Two of them live back home and the other is here with me in DC.

Not to say that other friends aren’t important, I love them all, but these three are extra special. You know, like they-could-be-my-sister special.

littlejessme-and-erin

Erin, Me & Jess. My Best Friends.

When I was in middle school and high school I was a classic dork; I was shy and did really well in school. I envied those girls who had the huge group of friends and could call them all up on three-way conference call after school. I even envied those girls in college too. The ones that found each other at freshman orientation and were attached at the hip until they walked across the stage at graduation four years later.

I have never been one to be part of a large group… but there are time s when I wish I was. I feel sort of feel like I missed out.

Looking back, I wouldn’t trade any of my friends or acquaintances for the world though, and I know that lots of times people who have large groups of friends don’t get the benefits of close relationships. So, in that regard, I am very thankful for my few friends. They will be part of my life until we are all old and grey.

Every time I go home I know my two friends are so excited to see me and it makes me realize how awesome, true and genuine they are. We could stay up for hours just talking and catching up. It’s nice, because even though I live thousands of miles away from them, the minute I set foot back in my hometown its as if I step back into my old life and my friends and pick up right where we left off. I hope it stays this way for the rest of our lives regardless of where we all end up.

Deep down, I know it will.

100 ideasLife has been beyond stressful lately at my job.  Considering I am an office of one, at times it can seem as if I am holding the entire world on my shoulders. (Though, as my boss likes to point out, it is NOT life or death…)

I am not one to give up on anything, so when people to say to me, “Why don’t you look for a different job?” it doesn’t really sit well with me. To me, that feels like giving up and this girl is no quitter.  On the other hand, I have never felt as overwhelmed and anxious in my entire life as I do some days. I have feelings of rage, depression and anxiety and sometimes I worry I am becoming bipolar. (I am seeing someone about this and have been for some time now, no worries, dear readers).

During these emotional roller coaster days, I scout the World Wide Web for my potential next adventure. But then, I run into the issue of WHAT and more importantly… WHERE? All the jobs I have ever had just sort of fell into my lap. I feel like because I am actively looking for something now, I’m never going to find it.

Maybe I need to just learn to be patient and life will calm down?

Anyhow, the other day I found some interesting opportunities and made myself fill out the applications. My biggest problem though was my resume. It hasn’t been updated since graduate school! Even though there are days I feel like I’ve done nothing with my life in comparison to other people my age, I suddenly realized I had too much stuff to update. I was going to need an entirely revamped sexy new resume and wanted to share exactly how I shed some of that extra fluff and made my resume sexy and new.

Andrea’s Tips on Revamping your Resume and Cover Letter

Resume

For my resume, I removed everything that had to with clubs and organizations in college. I took off any related courses and any kind of part-time employment. I tightened up the descriptions of my past experience and employment to two lines max and added all of my special speaking or teaching engagements. I also took a look at some graphic design resumes and they gave me some great inspiration on how to make my resume look unique. Even if you aren’t an artist, I’m sure you’ll find something to add to make your resume more “you.”

Cover Letter
Who even writes cover letters anymore? I honestly tried Googling “Awesome cover letters” to no avail. At this point in my career, I am anti-cover letter.  If it was me on the  HR end of things, I would not want to waste my time reading why someone thinks they are amazing, I’d want to see it. I work in the media industry and luckily that gives me some leeway when it comes to resumes and cover letters (or anti-cover letters.)

How do you feel about cover letters? Those of you job searching what have you found to be successful? Anyone in the land of HR do you have suggestions?  I asked around on Twitter about this topic and will post some cool ides later.

In the few letters I did write, I tried to keep them to a paragraph. To me, short and simple always wins. I stressed my passion for the field, added some nice adjectives to describe my work ethic (how does one say “works-so-hard-you-have-to-tell-me-to-go-home in one word?) and threw in a contact or two I knew who already worked at the company.  (Which, by the way, I totally hate doing. Networking is key, but it’s so sad its come to who you know, not what you know…)

If I had it my way, my resume would be a 5-page long list with bullets. It would have everything I have ever done since I was 16 years old and it would also say a lot more about my personality, interests and hobbies. If potential employers could see personality at the beginning of the process, there would be no need for those typical, dull interview questions. Don’t you think?

My Life Resume
In my dream world, there would be a section for academics, volunteer, honors, skills, related employment, unrelated employment, groups or organizations and random facts. It would be electronic, most likely its own webpage with different tabs. This way, instead of trying to re-format your one page paper resume every single year you could just add on to the webpage.

I’m curious to see what others have been doing. So far I have seen electronic business cards, google profiles and creating your own web tv channel. Have you seen or heard of a unique way to present yourself? How would you want other people to get to know the real you?

It’s hard…. I know!

Andrea (new) bio.

photo credit: wonderfullycomplex

There have really only been 2 people in my entire life that I can honestly say I hate. Well, hated- past tense- since now I only hate 1 person. Over the years, the second person (to everyone’s surprise!) has gone from despised enemy, to frenemy, to friend.

It’s hard to describe how a person can go through such a drastic relationship change, but I’m going to try.

Usually, you hate someone or have harsh feelings toward someone who has hurt you or those close to you. The one girl I still despise has never done anything to reconcile our friendship, where as my new found friend (previous enemy) Kelly, has gained my respect and trust over the past few years.

We have both grown and changed and I think that has a lot to do with our new relationship.

robyn-and-mesmall

I recently took a trip to Chicago and met up with fellow QLC blogger Robyn (Check out our cute picture above!!) and we ended up talking about careers, life goals and friendships. It was strange because, even though I had never met Robyn, we instantly bonded over our dramatic, chaotic, unconventional quarter-life status.

I told her the short version of my history with my new found friend Kelly, because she was going to be joining me in Chicago for BlogHer Business, a social media conference for business. This conference is the number one, must-go-to event for females in the blogging and social media industry and I was very excited to have someone there I knew. Sometimes in large groups I can be shy.

After our lunch, Robyn wished me luck with Kelly, since this was going to be the first time we would actually spend time together. I was pretty nervous!

Amazingly, we ended up having a blast together running around Chicago for a few days and it is safe to say we’ve put our past behind us. Kelly has done so much since graduating and I am so proud and jealous of her accomplishments in the social media realm!

This little trip taught me that deep down, we are really all the same. Women our age all over the place have goals, dreams, challenges, struggles, boy issues, family problems, friendship dramas  and we (those going through a Quarterlife Crisis) are not the only ones. I learned throughout the years of knowing Kelly, it is much easier to be friends with someone than to fight them. It’s just not worth the time and effort.

Our new friendship looks odd to anyone who knows my personality and our history. But, I’m learning I can’t keep living my life worrying about what other people think of me. If I feel she is no longer an enemy or frenemy, then that is all that should really matter.

It just sucks that my other friends and family will never understand the transformation our relationship has taken.

I’ve noticed as women, we have a hard time getting over things and offering forgiveness. My tip for those of you struggling with women enemies would be to take a step back, think of all the time and energy spent being evil or having angry thought,  and try to gauge if it is really worth it.

Life is short and not worth wasting time on past grudges.

On the topic of frenemies, why bother being nice to someone’s face if deep down you know you don’t get along? Be real, be upfront and just be yourself. Take the time to talk out your issues and if they can’t be resolved, then a friendship was not meant to be.

Take a minute to really think about the people in your life you “hate.” You may be surprised that deep down, you are much more similar than you originally thought.

Andrea (new) bio.

(This week I posed a question to Andrea, Kendra, Robyn & Marisa- When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up?  How has this played into your life?  And perhaps the more appropriate question for a Quarterlife Crisis: What do you want to be when you grow up? xoxo  Molly)

I am 25 and have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Now, I have said this before and I’ll say it again: I really thought when I was little by the time I was 25 I would be a grown up.

Not so much.

My roommate Siobhan recently sent me this amazing YouTube video and it pretty much sums up how I feel about my life on a daily basis. I know there are other girls out there who feel the same way! I probably watch this video 5 times each and every day now. At least!

When it come down to it, I don’t think men and women living today in Generation Y can really classify themselves in one career field. It isn’t like when our parents were younger and they dreamed of becoming an Astronaut or Dentist or Teacher. People our age go through so many different types of careers and many people (myself included) have multiple jobs at one time.

What do I consider myself? Well, I’m a writer first and foremost. And even though I have not taken a dance class is over a year, I still consider myself a dancer. I knew how to dance before I knew how to read. It makes me sad to say that today I don’t dance as my career.

It is so ironic that my first performance, when I was 4, was to a song called “When I Grow Up.” From that point on, I was convinced I was destined to be a dancer. I am the only one in my family who has ever taken dance lessons. When I was 6, I was chosen out of many students at my studio to join the competition team and I stayed on that time until I graduated high school. Up until the age of 11, I thought I was going to be a dancer.  Then I found out there was a height requirement to become a Rockette. (I have not grown taller since I was 11 and I am just 4 1/2 inches shy of the 5’6’’ requirement to dance at Radio City…)

I then thought, “Okay, well if I can dance, then I could teach!” I even interviewed my dance teachers, who are like aunts to me, for my 6th grade Career Studies class.

Here and there I swayed from that path, but only for a few days. Once I thought I could maybe be an architect since I love unique design and buildings, but then I would remember how much I hate math and went back to my dance teacher dream.

It wasn’t until the end of high school that I had to really sit down and decide if my career would involve dance or not. Aka… I had to decide if I was going to go to college for dance or for something else. That something else was another passion of mine, something I had done equally as long: writing.

I ended up choosing the latter. Honestly, I did it because by the time I was 18 I knew I wasn’t as good or talented dancer as I once had been. When I was 6-10 yrs old I would like to think I was a very talented dancer for my age, but as I got older dance became a very commercialized activity and I realized my talent was nothing compared to others. It wasn’t fun anymore,  instead it was cutthroat and competitive.

I became a journalism major and subsequently graduated with an Honors degree in journalism, mass communication and marketing. During my 4 years in school, my brain ran through about a dozen different careers. These are some of them:

When the time came, I applied for jobs in Public Relations at a few theater companies and small more feature-y newspapers and magazines. No dice.

I actually ended up going to graduate school, living at home with my family and working at a non-profit that helps developmentally disabled individuals. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I’m glad I decided to work in non-profit prior to any real-world corporate gig. (Most people I have found go the other way. They work in corporate America first, realize how much it sucks and then go work someplace that actually helps people.)

Lately my thoughts on career choice have been all over the place! Over the past 6 months I have thought about:

1. Traveling the world as a paid blogger
2. Teaching New Media at a medium-sized college or university
3. Opening a Bed & Breakfast
4. Starting my own new media consulting business (I am doing this one!)
5. Getting a corporate America desk job at a Social Media firm

Those are just five among many many other things. It’s not that I am not satisfied with my job right now, I just have this syndrome (which I acquired from my Dad) that nothing is ever good enough. I feel like I could be doing more with my life.

I look around at all those 25-year-old grown ups with families and houses and career and think… “When will I grow up? And what will I be?”

Will I travel the world or live overseas? Will I ever teach? Will I work in corporate America ever? I really don’t know. I may never know. But, I think that the majority of my life is going to spent trying to figure this out. My life job is going to be searching for my purpose on this earth… And I’m okay with that.

I’m okay with that as long as I am happy and calm that is!

Andrea Dancing

*The very last performance I ever did with my studio back in Buffalo was a 20 year Anniversary tribute to our instructors. I have danced with most of these girls in this picture for 20 years and this routine was a parody of the very first dance we ever performed…. “When I Grow Up”

Andrea (new) bio.


footprintsThis weekend was very laid back in comparison to the past few months of my life.

I took some time to get my life back in order. You know, the usual: laundry, the gym, grocery shopping, painting my nails, laying outside, playing in my garden and reading.

On Saturday, it was so beautiful it was the perfect day to jump in the car and get out of the city to relax.  I took a trip to the Chesapeake Bay to try and soak up some sun with a few of my girlfriends. We got to talking about the city, DC life and our jobs. I told them about how excited I am for this blog and to live through my Quarterlife Crisis with other young women going through the same thing.

And then our conversation turned to how we all decided to move to DC (since we all moved here at different times and for different reasons.) It was interesting because lately, I have been thinking about when you know it’s time to move on.

I mean, I’ve lived my whole life according to a certain social time line. We go to high school, try to do well to make it into a great college, try our best in college so you can land an incredible job, maybe go on to graduate school and get a Masters, and then enter the work force.

But what happens after that? There is no set path for us to follow. Everyone takes a different route to try to achieve success. Some get married, some start families and others start businesses.

We all go our separate paths.

Except, how do you decide when and where to go, once you have entered that work force? We are not like our parents– expecting to stay at the same job for 20 years and then retire. So when, if you aren’t settling down or getting a crazy promotion are you supposed to know when to move?

When do you know when it’s time to go?

I talked it over with some female and male friends and this is the advice I was given:

I’m not saying I’m thinking of leaving DC anytime soon. I constantly walk down the street or hop on the metro and think of how grateful I am to be in this place. I have the best roommates, I live in an amazing area of the city, I have a job that challenges me (from time to time), a man who loves me, and a phenomenal family just a plane ride away.

This is where I always dreamed I would be. But, there are days when I wake up and wonder: How will I know when it’s time to go?

How will you know?

Andrea (new) bio.

photo credit: Vu Bui

Runaway Bride When I was in college, no–go back even further–in high school, I knew that getting married was not something I considered in my immediate agenda.

When my girlfriends and I would ride the bus we’d gossip about who would end up with their current boyfriends and who wouldn’t. Even then, I knew that the boy I dated in high school would not end up my husband. (That’s a seriously terrifying word to say, isn’t it!?)

In college I dated a few people, nothing extremely serious, but it was then that all of my girlfriends started getting very serious with their respective beaus. This used to really bother me because all of my girlfriends are insanely smart. We were all honors majors and talked about all the awesome things we planned to do with our careers after graduation.

Well, I moved to DC and they moved in with boyfriends.

Careers became a different priority for them and the men in their lives became number one. If I had a man in my life, I’m sure I would have been the same. They are lucky to have found their soul mate and have a career…

A few weekends ago I went to the first of my girlfriends’ weddings. I was so excited flitting around taking pictures I didn’t have time to react. My mind was also flitting around. It was hard to keep it calm. But the minute I saw my girlfriend walk down the isle in that white dress it was like a wave washed over me. Everything from that moment on seemed so surreal. When they were announced as a married couple for the first time, it seemed so weird to me! She has a different name now!

Of course, I ended up reflecting on my own romantic situation. And I had a little bit of a crisis.

I thought back to the men in my life I have uttered those three little words to and which ones I could “see” myself with in the end. There was only one. A someone I dated a few years ago that I truly thought I could marry. It was the first and only time I had that feeling.

Needless to say, things didn’t work out (it was for the best) and I am dating someone else now. My current man friend, guy-I-am-seeing, whatever you want to call him in lieu of boyfriend (because that word is not part of my current vocabulary) has been a part of my life for years as a friend and lately a tremendous help throughout my Quarterlife Crisis as more than a friend. It’s been a rough ride for Daniel and I from the beginning, mostly due to my chaotic head.

My theory behind that challenge is “Nothing in life that is easy is worth it.”

Daniel lives in Austin, Texas so we struggle with the distance. (This is why I didn’t bring him to the wedding. If he was there, I would have been in a much calmer state. He has this uncanny ability to calm me down just by being there.) We don’t have a traditional relationship and when I was sitting at the wedding reception it was hard for me to evaluate where he and I stand in terms of, “till death do us part.”

With him, I try to focus on the present. Right now, he is one of my best friends. He loves me for the person I want to become and he loves me for the crazy person I am right now. I’m not sure if we have that long-term kind of connection though, and this is what makes my brain run in circles. I have a tendency to always look to the future, especially when it comes to males and relationships. And if I can barely image the idea of my wedding, there is no chance I can even come close to picturing the person I’d marry!

At my girlfriend’s wedding I came to the conclusion that if (and that is a HUGE if) I ever do get married it won’t be traditional at all. I would be able to handle a boy, a beach and some booze. Maybe some friends, definitely some family. That’s it. No fancy dresses, frilly flowers and unnecessary spending and stress.

My biggest hang-up though is not the cost of a wedding– it’s the permanence of marriage.

Talk about scary! I am one of the most independent people you will ever meet. I think the fact that I was born on Independence Day only adds to my forthright demeanor. I’m not afraid of being alone for the rest of my life. I’m afraid of being with the same person each and every day. I’m afraid I’ll get bored and not able to have my own life.

I was having panic attacks at the wedding and ended up text messaging my mom throughout most of the night, in hopes she would calm my mind. She and my father have been married 29 years.

I remember I wrote to her, “Mom, this is way too scary. I don’t think I can do this,” to which she responded, “Andrea, no one said you had to. You can do whatever you want to do as long as it makes you happy.” (It’s reasons like this that I love my mom. She is more than a mom, she is one of my best friends.)

Am I the only one who is terrified of the words fiancé? Wedding? Or the phrase “As long as you both shall live?” Please tell me I am not!

Andrea (new) bio.


Boys to Men. No, I’m not referring to the 90’s R&B group. I’m talking about the evolution of the twenty-something boy to the twenty-something man.

Recently, I have encountered both and it really made me stop and think about the difference between the two. I questioned the “boys” to “men” transition. Over the past month my roommate Lizzy and I have had some amazing adventures, two of which were road trips. One weekend was a trip to see Kenny Chesney in concert in Pittsburgh PA, the other a four-day music festival in Tennessee called Bonnaroo.

During those two weekends my male travel companions could not have been more different. One was a pair of boys and the other, two young men. All four of them were in their mid twenties.

It made me wonder “What makes one set boys and the other men?” From countless hours crammed inside of a car with the opposite sex I have learned:

Boys

· Drink until they can’t walk

· Degrade females using terms like “broad”

· Have mothers who still buy their pants

· Do not know how to say “I’m sorry”

· Can not think beyond today

Men

· Drink until they fall asleep

· Compliment females

· Are self sufficient enough to make their own meals

· Admit when they make a mistake (even if it is a rare occasion)

· Think about purpose and life

For example, during the first road trip to Kenny Chesney, we decided to ease some tension in the car and played a version of 20 Questions. (My roommate and I were running late, as usual, and the boys were not happy. The fact that I was driving only fueled the fire. Males always get funny when they are in the backseat, its like they get an inferiority complex when they aren’t in control.) We modified the game a bit and decided that since there were 4 of us, we would each think of 5 questions to ask the other passengers, giving us a total of twenty. The catch, you had the choice of whether or not you wanted to answer your own question. So it made for some interesting material to say the least.

When it was my turn I asked, “What is your proudest moment?” and the boys were absolutely dumbfounded. That really bothered me. After a while, one of the boys said his proudest moment was sports related and the other couldn’t say anything. He said he was proud of his family. Which is totally fine and there is nothing wrong with that. But, don’t you think people should be proud of something for themselves too? I mean, if someone were to write a book about your life up until right now what would your proudest moment be?

For me, I don’t think that is a really deep and intricate question, but apparently, to these boys it was. It makes me sad that they have lived on this earth twenty-some-odd years and can’t say they are proud of something they have done in that time. The weekend only got worse when me and Lizzy had to take care of the drunken idiots. It was not the weekend I had signed up for. It was a weekend for boys.

The following weekend Lizzy and I spent 12 hours driving to Tennessee with two men, not boys. The four of us learned so much about each other; it was one of the best road trips of my life!! It could not have been more opposite than the previous weekend road trip from hell. A few hours into the drive, the Englishman (our new friend Leigh) told us he was working on a list of 30 Before 30. (Although, because he is 28 he later changed his to 30 Before 40. Same idea though, you get the picture) I am obsessed with lists (when I say obsessed I mean I write lists on post-its, envelopes, napkins, my hand, receipts, wrappers etc.)

I could not wait to make my own list of 30 Before 30! I thought it was such a cool idea and so appropriate, considering my 25th birthday is coming up really soon. On the drive to Bonnaroo we took turns thinking of ideas and sharing what we would put on our lists. On the ride back to DC, we took out a notebook and each started our lists. It gave me a good feeling about the new friends I made. These are the types of people I thrive off.

We gave each other a week deadline to finish and made a pact to share them via email. Take a look at my 30 Before 30 list and let me know what else I could add!

Both weekends I had a moment where I literally had to stop what I was doing and ask, “Is this my life?” Both situations taught me something about boys vs. men. I learned the types of males that should be in my life right now. I see now which are healthy for me, which will continue with me throughout this chapter and which ones I should cleanse. I guess you could say for me its not longer about boys, its time to phase them out and start new relationships and friendships with men. What about you?

Andrea (new) bio.

[New to the site? Welcome 20something adventure seeker! Don’t leave without registering on the right to receive our free eBook- The Gutsy Girls Guide to Success! It will inspire you to create an incredible Life List!

Andrea is a Guest Blogger for Stratejoy- a training and coaching company that helps women conquer their Quarterlife Crisis and Live Life Well!  Molly Hoyne, the founder of Stratejoy, also has her life list posted as well as her 20 Things To Do in 2010.]

Andrea’s Post

While driving to and from Bonnaroo, the most amazing music, art and camping experience of my life, I decided to make a list of 30 things to do before I am 30 years old. I’m calling it my 30 Before 30.

I just turned 25, so that gives me 5 years to complete all of my goals. A few of my friends also made lists and we are going to keep in touch and track which items we accomplish over the next few years.

ANDREA’S 30 BEFORE 30

  1. Go on a hot air balloon ride
  2. Learn how to play the guitar (at least one song)
  3. Visit Australia
  4. Visit London
  5. Get married (married?!… this one is VERY questionable)
  6. Buy a new car (mine is 13 years old. Her name is Mabel)
  7. Cut my hair (I’ve always had long hair)
  8. Start my own business or non-profit
  9. Backpack through Europe
  10. Continue to dance
  11. Drive cross-country
  12. Watch the sunrise and sunset from the same day on 2 different coasts of the USA
  13. Become a published Writer
  14. Take my dad to see the Grand Canyon
  15. Take my mom to see the Louve in Paris
  16. Teach a college course
  17. Visit Poland and see where my great grandparents grew up
  18. Read the top ten classic novels
  19. Watch as many Oscar award winning films as possible
  20. Move (that could be out of DC or inside of DC)
  21. Learn how to calm down
  22. Do something with my travel photos. (Currently they live in cyberspace)
  23. Start an investment account
  24. Ride a horse
  25. Volunteer for a cause that matters to me
  26. Submit an entry to Postsecret
  27. Participate in Flash Mob

[Flash Mob: is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via social media or viral emails.]

28. ?
29. ?
30. ?

I know my list isn’t totally complete yet but, I hoping some of you may be able to help me.  What would be on your list? Share with me your 30 Before 30 lists whether its complete or incomplete like mine. Maybe we can all get some good ideas from each other!

photo credit: jesse.millan

INTRODUCING ANDREA

A New Chapter of my Life: “The Quarterlife Crisis.”

If you ask any little girl what they want to do when they grow up, chances are they will say something along the lines of, “ I want to be a ballerina!”

I know I did!

If you were to ask me how old I would be when I was finally a Grown Up, I would have said twenty-five.

News flash, I turned 25 on the 4th of July of this year.

I am not a Grown Up.

My name is Andrea Genevieve and I live with my 2 best friends in a row house in Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Contrary to popular belief, we do not work in the political arena. In fact, we don’t ever really talk politics; we talk more about boys and nail polish. We live there because we have a nice large kitchen, actual grass and an awesome porch. It’s become our own little home.

Living in DC is pretty exciting and there is always some event we are rushing around to attend.  I do have days where I hate my job, my boss, the current “beau” situation and just plain hate life. Other days I am totally enthralled and grateful to be living in a city with such opportunity.  To combat this rage, my roommates and I look to bottles of vino, Netflix, some good music to sing to and each other. I don’t know what I would do without these other Non-Grown-Up girls.

Three things you should know about me:

  1. I’m a writer
  2. I am up to my armpits in student loan debt, but I spend money I don’t have on clothes, food and drinks.
  3. I have no idea what I am doing with my life.

Two years ago, I finished graduate school and moved to DC to live my dream. Only problem was, I had no idea what that was, or how long it would take me to find it.

When I first moved here, I thought it would only be temporary until I moved in with a boy and settled down. Within 9 months it hit me like a proverbial bus that this was NOT going to be my plan. I realized I craved adventure, excitement, chaos and crowds; I had become a city girl.

As a city girl, my life started to become one big disaster after another. Yet, these disasters always taught me something and led me one step closer to finding my place and purpose in the world. One time, I actually thought I cooked my blackberry in the pot roast during a dinner party. From this I learned to plan accordingly, ask for help and keep electronics out of the kitchen!  Honestly, I could not write this stuff! (This is a token phrase in our household.)

When I saw the opportunity to write for this blog, I thought to myself, “Maybe I should be writing this stuff!”

I’m sure there are many of you suffering through the same daily dramas I do and struggling to answer questions about social timelines, life goals, marriage, babies, friendships, financial problems, finding true meaning to life and discovering ultimate happiness. You want to get tattoos, (I got my first one on June 4th!) travel the world, fall in love with a white knight and document the entire story with pictures, video and words.

My life has always been measured in words and this is my chance to share, comment, converse and continue writing those words with a new chapter I call, “The Quarterlife Crisis.”

Andrea (new) bio.