Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

Budgeting is definitely not one of my strengths. I normally work more than one job at a time to ensure that I don’t have to budget, and can be a little frivolous with my spending (because, really, what good is spending money if it isn’t fun?!). In the midst of deciding whether I should go to the mall on President’s Day to purchase an awesome new dress (come on! It’s a sale!), or a food processor (which I have wanted forever), the thought struck me that I make decisions in a pretty impulsive way. 

That happens in almost every facet of my life, and has honestly seemed to be the way to do things for me, personally. I decided to go to UT Dallas on a whim, with some background information at hand, but still pretty much on a whim. They had the major I wanted, Greek life and a dance team, but so did the other 3 schools I got into with a full scholarship. I just had a feeling when I visited that campus that it was the place for me. So I packed up, moved 3 states over from everyone I knew and went to that school. I started cheerleading on a whim, joined my sorority on a whim, and made other decisions like this that probably are  not very important in the grand scheme of my life.

But I also made big decisions based upon a gut feeling. I decided to get into Industrial Organizational psychology on a whim as well. I was not even planning on attending graduate school and one of my professors made me look into what I could do if I did pursue grad school. We went through a list of 19 different specializations and I/O just stuck out to me as being interesting. I had a feeling that I would like it, without even really understanding all that it encompassed, and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. All of the aforementioned decisions really shaped my life into what it is today, and I honestly can say that I did all of this without regret. 

Now, I want to be clear: I am not telling anyone that they should make decisions like I do. I know that it gets me in trouble (especially when I buy really expensive shoes when I shouldn’t or when I decide to eat Wendy’s every day for a week because it’s what I crave). My point is that I know that this process works for me when I am conflicted on what to do, I go with the gut. I have been in situations where I have attempted to weigh each possible outcome and what is best, and then I end up second-guessing myself and making the entirely wrong decision. I think that each person should figure out what way of making decisions works best for them, whether it is semi-reckless like me, or very calculated like many other successful people I meet. I think each person differs, and that finding out what works for them is what is important. And if you wanted to know, I bought the food processor. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Going Back, Moving Foward

While on one of my many long drives, I was listening to the radio and just thinking (it’s nice to have time to let your mind wander, if you don’t do this often, I would definitely recommend it!). The song “I Go Back” by Kenny Chesney came on and I was instantly transported into a new line of thought. Has that ever happened to you? One minute, you are thinking of what you are going to do for the day and then you are triggered into something completely different by something like a song or a smell? This happens to me a lot, and it is rather fun to just let it happen.

This song came out my senior year of high school (don’t judge) and I remember driving to school listening to it almost every day. The one memory it really sparked was the day I realized that I was going to go to a university in a different state and was leaving all of what I knew behind. I was moving to Texas from Georgia (it doesn’t seem like much different, but I assure you it was!). I remember saying to my sister and friends that I wish I could stop time for that one summer between high school and college. I wanted to harness that feeling of accomplishment of completing school and that anticipation and excitement for moving on to the next step in life. 

During this time, I had several acute moments of intense sadness. My time growing up in Georgia was great (not perfect, but great) and I was very sad to leave it all behind. Those lifelong connections that fade, the town changing without you, and most importantly, having to adjust internally to what was about to happen next.
My transition to college was not the easiest. I felt very alone without my family and friends and everything and everyone seemed different than what I was used to. I started doing different things and basically developed a new identity from who everyone knew me as in my hometown. Over time, I adjusted and my time in undergrad in Texas was also just as happy as my school years in Georgia. 

The point I want to make is this: relish those times where you are happy, but do not be afraid to make the changes necessary for the next steps in life. That change always leads to something valuable. This can be applied at any age, and especially to those about to enter the workforce. Take that internship in a different state or country! Do something you aren’t sure of, you will definitely learn from it. The other point I want to make is more personal: let yourself be nostalgic from time to time. It actually gives you some insight into what makes you tick, which is a great thing to know! GO BACK on occasion, but THINK FORWARD!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Follow Your Bliss

I am a firm believer in finding your “niche” and really sticking with and doing what is your passion. While that sounds cliché, I have a different take on this tidbit of advice. I think what is missing from that statement is plurality. I do not believe that anyone has just one passion or one “niche.” I believe that as more responsibility given to us and less time is afforded to us, that we focus on the passion that is the most practical, whether it be something that provides for your family or something that you can do to survive, so the speak.
For example, I am a dual enrolled Masters and PhD student studying Industrial Organizational Psychology with a full-time internship in selection. This is one of my passions, finding the right job for the right person and vice versa. I enjoy looking into what a job requires, both explicitly and implicitly and searching for that person who will be the most successful and happy to fill that position. During my time in school, my superiors told me that this will take over my life and that I needed to put all of my time and effort into studying this subject. This meant my old sorority connections, dance training, cheerleading, community service activities, etc., had to be left behind. I heeded their advice, quit my job teaching dance and pursued and obtained several internships, and worked exclusively at my research projects.  During this time, I honestly became miserable with my choice in subject and I could not figure out why. I love all the aspects of it, I enjoy all of the jobs that I could have with it, but I was finding it to be painful to go to work and school to pursue this expertise.

I then was asked by a friend to come to a non-profit cheerleading team practice just to get back in shape and help with some of the dance aspects of it. I cheered all throughout college and though it would be a good physical workout. This decision really changed my entire mood and outlook on what I was doing. I really missed the performance aspect of dance (which I had done from ages 3-22), the creative outlet, the training and learning of new and harder skills. I only practice for cheerleading once a week for 2 hours and attend fundraising activities for LifeWalk, Aids Awareness, Susan G. Komen, etc, when I have the time. These are my passions that I left behind. I now do cheerleading, write for an Atlanta Falcons sports blog, participant in community service and attend sorority alumni events, all while STILL pursuing my degrees and expertise to the fullest. I felt that I needed to make time for my other passions to be truly successful and happy in my academic and career pursuits.
My goal for this blog is to share various experiences that I have had while dealing with several transitional periods that a lot of individuals will experience; undergraduate to graduate, graduate to professional, etc. In addition, some fun will be added in as well! From this post, I hope to convey that I have a lot of interests and passions. I want to aid people in pursuing their passions, even if it does not seem possible and/or practical. Industrial Organizational Psychology has shown me that so many people are miserable in just their jobs, and I work to help people to make work as pleasant as it can be (because seriously, it is still work). My goal personally is to help people to make their overall life as pleasant, happy and fulfilling as it could be! Instead of finding your niche, follow your bliss!