Lessons I’ve learned the year after graduating college

In 2017, I decided to walk away from my career in cosmetology to start anew and get a degree in interior design. It took me a little over two years to complete the Associates of Science degree, and I learned a lot along the way. I would find out, however, that the real learning takes place after you graduate. Here are some things I learned about life after graduating college.

1. Getting jobs is hard, with or without a degree.

After I graduated, I applied for several jobs that coincided with my major. None of them so much as gave me a call back, so I switched gears and took a job in a different field, one I was more familiar with anyway – photography and social media. 

Never mind all that you hear about companies being short-staffed and unable to find workers. I put myself out there so many times and received so few calls back, that at one point I wondered if something about me just made me unhireable. I knew I needed to change my approach, so I changed my resume. I swapped out the black-and-white, basic-looking resume template I had been using originally, for a colored resume (a cream background with brown text headings) that had a space for a professional photo, where I placed the latest professional photo of myself that I had.

Using a resume template with a professional picture of me on it helped me get calls back from jobs I applied for, by leaps and bounds. One day, after updating my resume, I applied for a multitude of jobs (across several different fields, not just ones that aligned with my major), thinking I wouldn’t hear back from many of them. Well, the day I applied, I started getting calls back, and those calls continued throughout the following week. I ended up declining most, because I had already over-applied to begin with. I had some interviews, but nothing really stuck. I ended up keeping my photography/social media job.

2. I don’t even love what I majored in.

Here’s the thing: I went back to college on sort of a whim.

I had just moved into my own apartment for the first time, and I had done a little bit of decorating. Buying a rug here, hanging curtains there, and other little design jobs in between.

The thing about me is I get “carried away,” as my mom used to call it when I was growing up. I get a little too excited sometimes. I was so excited about all the progress I was making with my apartment, that I thought going to school for interior design would be eye-opening and fulfilling to me.

But the thing about interior design school is that a mere fraction of the time you spend in school is spent on “fun” design tasks like picking out fabrics and colors for rooms. The rest is decidedly harder, less-fun work, like drawing floor plans in AutoCAD or worse, by hand. I realized at some point during interior design school that this wasn’t really what I wanted to do for a living.

It wasn’t that it was too hard, necessarily, but it was far more boring than what I had anticipated. Perhaps, working in the interior design field is more fun than going to interior design school is. But I may never know for sure, since I have hardly worked on anything interior design related since I graduated.

3. Being really busy is tough and sometimes stressful, but maybe we do our best work when under pressure.

Looking at my journal entries from one year ago, I can gather that this time last year I was stressed, overworked, and looking forward to the end of college, despite being a little scared of what was to come.

At one point, I was splitting my time between college coursework, a work-intensive internship, my job, and my side hustles (my YouTube channel and blog). It was a lot to keep up with, and one theme I find commonly throughout my work from that time in my life was that I was generally stressed out.

But there’s something else I notice about my blog posts from that time and journal entries and videos – there were a lot more of them. Was I more productive because there were more deadlines placed on everything around me? It seems that way, like the more stress I was under, the more work I produced. Perhaps, sometimes, there’s a correlation between stress and productivity. Of course, too much stress can result in the opposite – less productivity, so it’s important to stay calm when you have a lot of tasks.

4. College is great for learning new things and challenging yourself, but it’s not completely necessary for everyone

After going back to college when my career was already going pretty well, I’ve come to realize I didn’t really need college to get to where I am today. The job I have now has nothing to do with my degree, and the skills I use for it are ones I taught myself.

However, I don’t know if I would be the same person I am today without having gone through the college process. Prerequisite courses like English and math classes provided me with newfound knowledge and abilities I didn’t have before. I was already a decent writer before I went back to school, but I think my skills increased from it.

I really feel like college is great for people looking to learn something new, hone new skills, and become a stronger, harder-working version of themselves. But I don’t think college is a necessity like I kind of thought it was when I went into it.

There is a lot you can do in this life with self-taught skills and the lack of a college degree. As I realized along the way, having an eye-catching resume is sometimes possibly more important than having a degree. I’m glad I got mine, because I don’t think I would be the same person without the things I learned along the way. But I don’t think it was really a necessity for me to go back to school.

How to come up with blog ideas

Every blogger has been there – that moment when you want to write a blog post but you just don’t know what you want it to be about.

In this post, I’ll go over a few ways that I come up with blog post ideas when my creativity decides to dry up.

• Look for inspiration in others’ blogs. For my WordPress users, do you ever go over to the “Reader” page? Yeah, me too. That’s where you can find other people’s blogs and look for inspiration in what other people have written. Sometimes, seeing what others write about can be helpful for coming up with new ideas, yourself.

•Write about something that’s been on your mind for a while

Have something that’s been on your mind for some time? Why not get those thoughts out? Sometimes the inspiration we need is inside of us.

•Take inspiration from your everyday life

Why not blog about something from your life? A person, a place, or something that you love or care about? Something that you’ve noticed? Something that happened? Life is a great place to find inspiration, and the more personal your post idea, the more your readers can connect with you.

At the end of the day, you know you have a story inside of you and that other people want to hear it. So share your story. Let it out. Let the creativity flow. Don’t fight it. Soon, you’ll be blogging up a storm.

How to deal with analysis paralysis

Analysis paralysis is basically when you spend so much time trying to make a decision, that you end up not deciding at all and making no moves whatsoever. This is how I’ve been feeling when it comes to my blog lately. There are so many options for what I could write, that I’ve been writing nothing at all.

I’ve experienced analysis paralysis before. Usually it results in taking much longer to make a decision than what was necessary, and I always wonder why I had to spend so much time deciding in the end.

Here is how I overcome analysis paralysis.

  1. Recognize analysis paralysis. Realize you’re spending a lot of time doing a lot of nothing. That time you are spending on making a decision is time you could be spending on actually working on what you need to work on. 
  2. Just make a decision. The faster the better. Obviously, if the decision you are trying to make has to do with a serious decision or big life move, you should spend more time on it. But if it’s something like choosing what to blog about, or choosing what you want to eat for lunch, maybe just pull the trigger and pick one. I know this is easier said than done, but just try it. Don’t think, just choose.

That’s basically all there is to it. Realize you’re caught in analysis paralysis and once you’ve figured that out, just make a decision as quickly as possible. Life is precious, and time is finite, so it’s best to just decide on something rather than letting it linger for so long.

Starting to Blog Again

I’ve decided I want to try to blog again. It’s been a while since I’ve hit the “publish” button and shared my work with anyone, but I think I’m ready to get back to it.

One reason I want to start blogging again is because I want to share my work with an audience. I think my audience will be fairly small until I get more posts up, but it doesn’t matter. A few readers is a lot more than no readers. 

Another reason I want to come back to blogging is to hold myself accountable to writing more. At this time, I basically write every day but I only write in my journal that no one ever sees. I think it’s time to change that and to share my work with whoever wants to read it. Journaling and morning pages are great, but I have bigger dreams than that and I think blogging will help me see them into reality.

Something else that makes me want to blog more is the fact that it’ll help me gain experience as a writer. I’ve recently come to realize how much I enjoy writing and how I could see myself doing it as a profession. Whether I want to write a book or articles or what-have-you, blogging will help me gain experience.

Finally, I think blogging will allow me to have a creative outlet besides journaling. While I love journaling and find it therapeutic, it just feels lonely at times, and I wonder if my writing could help someone else by giving them something to relate to.

I hope you’ll join along as I jump back in to this!

I went out on a limb and it worked

I started my podcast, Branding Myself, in October of 2020. I already had experience with recording sound and editing, so I figured the rest of it wouldn’t be too hard.

The hardest part for me is getting up the nerve to ask people if they’ll be on my podcast. I used to be terribly afraid of being a burden, being annoying, or asking for something that’s ridiculous. But ever since I got my first few guests on, I realized the only scary part about podcasting is the fear: the fear of messing up, the fear of my content not being good enough, the fear of being rejected.

After my first few interviews with subjects, I was feeling more confident and ready to get bigger guests on. I decided to go out on a limb, outside of my immediate social circle and I decided to ask someone who I thought might be out of my league, so to speak, if they would be on my podcast. I know this person is a busy person and they have things to do that aren’t this, but I decided that perhaps being on a podcast would be a new and beneficial experience for my subject. 

And they said yes!

That response email was so exciting to receive because I was pretty certain I just wouldn’t hear back.

I hope this story inspires you to try something that scares you, to do the things you want to do. And, even if it’s scary, if you want to ask someone for something just ask. It might work.

How to stay calm when you’re overwhelmed by tasks

Overwhelmed by tasks? Swimming in assignments and work or school obligations, with no end in sight?

Hey. Take a breath. It’s going to be okay.

Let me walk you through four ways you can stay calm and get through this thing (or these things).

As someone who’s been balancing difficult college assignments, the daily grind of work, and everything else that life has entailed for several years now, I’ve come to know what it’s like when you start to feel overwhelmed by what you have on your plate. I mean, I would say that 99% of the time, I’m cool-headed about my work and able to get it done without a lot of fuss or issues on my end. However, I have definitely had days here and there when what was ahead of me seemed like it would never be behind me and my work load was seemingly impossible to accomplish.

Here are some simple ways you can get back into action when stagnation seems more friendly than keeping momentum.

1. Ground yourself

First off, you’re going to need to ground yourself, get calm, and recognize that you can do this.

One way you can start to calm down so you can think more clearly is to take deep breaths of oxygen. Try to breathe deep as you inhale, drawing oxygen in and focusing on breathing from your stomach, not your chest, if that makes sense. 

2. Take a break (or a walk)

Sometimes, lots of work means long, consecutive hours of working. If you’ve been at it for a while, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and give yourself a break. Breaking up your day and giving you a fresh perspective are some benefits of taking breaks. Taking a walk can give you a chance to get outside, away from the place you do your work. Surprisingly, getting away from your work momentarily might be just the way to effectively get back into it.

3. Divide and conquer

It can be overwhelming to look at the whole of what you eventually need to get done. Don’t look at all of what you have to do, look at what steps you can take to get closer to finishing the project(s). Divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps you can take towards reaching your goal.

4. Just start

Sometimes the anticipation of doing a project can cause procrastination and putting off the inevitable, which just creates more stress as you scramble to finish your tasks. Once you’ve reset your mind and realized your big projects are just series of small steps, just get in there and get started. The best thing you can do for yourself is do whatever it takes to get it done.

Why not start today?

A blog is something I’ve been thinking about starting for some time.

I never started one, until right now. I figured there’s no day like today! Why not? If I’m going to be thinking about it, like I’ve been for a while, why not take action?

I recently read one of Seth Godin’s books, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. The book had an impact on me; I felt that it spoke to me. I wanted to write a rave review on the book, but I also wanted to gain some more insight on the book from other minds before I wrote my own review. One YouTube-based review led me to an interview of the author himself, Seth Godin. In it, Godin mentioned his blog, which he has been updating daily for over a decade. Feeling inspired, I decided to finally begin my own blog.

Not just because of Seth Godin and his words. But because I want to. And maybe someone will feel inspired by my words one day if I just start writing them now.

And why not start now? A decade will pass whether I want it to or not. I want to be able to say, one day, “I spent the last decade writing.” Or, at least, I wrote every day for some amount of time. I know I have it in me to write. I’m writing now. It’s not hard for me to write, what’s been hard for me has been posting my writing or my work anywhere.

Starting something new can be daunting because you don’t know where it’s going to go; you haven’t gotten there yet.

Maybe, if I just start blogging, I might write more some days and less other days. That’s okay.

I might end up sharing too much or too little. That’s okay too. I just want to do it.