What I Learned My First Year Out of College

You know how magazines like Time and Life feature those "Year in Review" articles that highlight the biggest happenings of the era? I always liked those, so guess what? You're getting one. Except it won't cover anywhere close to a decade, and the events won't be nearly as momentous.

As you may remember if you're an avid reader of my blog (I know you're out there somewhere, avid reader...), I started a project last August after a trip I took to New York. The purpose was to highlight my inspiressions -- what inspires me month-to-month, what I'm obsessed with at the moment -- and also to challenge myself to continue learning beyond the walls of a university.

Well, learn I did. And some hard lessons, at that!

DISCLAIMER: The first lesson I learned is that I have zero sense of schedule/time when left to my own devices. You know that person who makes a very thorough, very neatly-organized shopping list, then promptly forgets the list on the kitchen counter and now can't remember whether she needed bread or bread flour (though, incidentally enough, she can remember exactly how she color-coded the different food groups)? Yep, that's me.

In other words, I was absolutely certain I had announced my Inspirsession Schedule in September -- when I was supposed to start the project.

But of course I didn't. Instead I posted it two full months after the project had technically begun in my brain, because life, as usual, got in the way of my best scheduling intentions.

The punchline here is, due to my inherent forgetfulness, I am now a full month ahead of schedule rather than behind -- and I'm feeling pretty damn good about myself.

But none of that likely even matters to you!

So, without further ado, here is my year in review:

September: Makeup & Face-Paint

Lesson 1: There is no perfect red lipstick. I don't care how much the women in Clinique squeal when they think they've found yours, once you take it home and put it on, you will still be certain there's another one out there that suits you better. These tubes are like dudes -- you have to find one that fulfills the most expectations and just commit already.

Lesson 2: If you get a scar somewhere it might see the sun in the next year, SPF it. Every. Single. Day.

Lesson 3: I am awesome at Halloween makeup, and I know nothing about everyday makeup. Instead of the cute cat-eye liner thing, can I just be a cat and call it good?

Were these bat-shit expensive face-paints worth it? Totally yes.

October: Dance


Lesson 1: The best thing to do when you're at a dance audition and you really don't know the steps as well as you should? Just hurl yourself into the steps you know semi-well. We're talking legit hurling here -- flinging limbs and "letting the divas fly off the stage," as Mr. P puts it. At least you'll show yourself a good time!

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Lesson 2: You are never too old to start dancing, or start dancing again, or dance around your kitchen while you hold a hot frying pan, or dance to the copier, or dance in the shower, or humiliate yourself at a dance callback. You are never too old (or too cool) to dance.

Lesson 3: Blog about that one time your boyfriend offered to take dance lessons with you, because a year from now you will find it, and then you can remind him blackmail him.

Will you be seeing me in any upcoming PNB shows soon? Signs point to no.

November: Sewing and/or Knitting


Note: Okay, I rocked this inspirsession. Can I just say that in two months I taught myself how to knit socks, beanies, berets, fingerless gloves, and mini stegosauri? If I could channel that kind of commitment into my day job, I'd be solid gold.

Me, if I were actually solid gold.

Lesson 1: The best kind of knitting is knitting to your favorite TV show. 

Lesson 2: The second best kind of knitting is knitting while you're sick. (Takes your mind off the snuffles.)

Lesson 3: Count and recount your rows. Especially if you're engaged in any of the activities outlined in Lessons 1 or 2. Otherwise your hats will end up infant-sized and your socks will end up elephant-sized.

 Will I be knitting well into old age? Absolutely.

December: Running


Lesson 1: Do not suddenly decide to become a runner in Seattle in December.

Lesson 2: Do invest in good running shoes. Asics are my personal fav.

Lesson 3: If you hate running because...
           ... everyone is looking at you: run at night or in the morning while it's still dark out.
           ... you "get caught up in your form": run through a Christmas-light-lit area. Ultimate distraction.
           ... it's so completely mindless you want to strangle something: play the alphabet game while you run and/or run toward a shopping complex to reward yourself with some thought-provoking browsing.

Am I likely to run a marathon in my lifetime? No.

January: Film Acting & Editing 

NOTE: I'm still very interested in Film Editing -- just not when it takes time away from watching movies and hoping I'll get an acting job.... which is most of my free time.

Lesson 1: Acting is like writing in the sense that the more one actively digests, the more one learns. Thus, I am entitled to watch Mad Men and Netflix's Oscar Picks as often as I like. Research, baby.

Lesson 2: You can totally learn your lines three minutes before you go into a scene... but you probably shouldn't.

Lesson 3: If it feels fake to you; it looks 10 billion times more fake on the screen.

Do I favor film acting to stage acting? In many ways, yes. 

February: Business, Money Management & Finances 


Lesson 1: Mad Men will teach you everything you need to know about business, with some glaring allowances.

Lesson 2: Mint.com is an amazing resource, but it still has a bundle of flaws which can DRIVE YOU CRAZY. Like the fact I can't categorize a basic transfer to my savings account every month without totally screwing up my Goals. (*pauses to adjust nerd glasses*) Thanks, Mint.

Lesson 3: Worrying about money is as useless as worrying about anything else; the more you do it, the less fun you'll let yourself have, and the less fun you have, the more you think you'll need money to have the fun you're not having. Then you'll worry all the more, because you'll have deluded yourself into thinking you need a lot of money and a lot more fun.... It's one horrible carousel of a mind-funk. In a way, I'm glad no one ever gave me the impression my degrees would guarantee me a paycheck; now I just thank heavens I have any money at all!

Am I still a Grinchy-Scrooge money-grubbing penny-pincher? A little, yeah... 

March: Weight Training and/or Yoga

Lesson 1: Both YouTube and DoYogaWithMe have a plethora of yoga videos, and they're FREE. This is a great way to sample what's out there before you sign up for a series at any one studio.

Lesson 2: From "Marching on Home to Stand on My Head" --  "Wherever you go, there you are, and you'll probably feel better being there if you exercise."

Will I fulfill my mother's dream and become a yoga teacher? Not likely, though it's starting to look a lot better than my other day-job options....

April: Cooking "Truth Month"; or Doing-Little-More-Than-Vegging-Out-to-Paulie/Johnnie/Georgie/Ringo


Lesson 1: If you're going to designate a month to cooking, be sure to set a screen time limit for the amount of YouTube Beatles videos that are bound to distract you -- all. month. long.

Lesson 2 Rant: Before you post something on Facebook, seriously question your motives. Ask yourself if, prior to the internet, you would have immediately phoned your friends to share this information. Would you have called your best friends and family to announce you were engaged? Probably. Would you call everyone you know to brag about the fact you saw Kevin Spacey in an airport? If you have any social skills whatsoever, you'd probably wait until the perfect moment -- like when you're trying to impress someone at a party -- to divulge this little scrap of awesome. I'm not asking everyone to start a Facebook confessional here, but do consider how the My-Life-Is-Awesome post might look to those around you, and do question whether your "entertaining anecdote" is more self-servicing than actually entertaining for the rest of us.

Lesson 3: The truth is, I love the Beatles.

Is there anything more charming than the fact that, after probably a decade of not speaking to one another, Paul McCartney and John Lennon were finally able to reconnect over the fact they now shared a hobby of baking bread? No. Just, no.

May: Thrift Shopping 


Lesson 1: When you set out on a mission to buy something at a thrift store, it will elude you. Thrifting is like treasure-hunting, but without the map and a hoard of pirates to do the dirty work for you. You have to dig, and you never know what you're looking for until you find it.

Lesson 2: When furnishing an apartment, there are two places in Seattle I can strongly recommend: the bottom floor of Value Village on Cap Hill and The Salvation Army in the ID. Great finds!

Should I have bought this Mad Men-esque floral print tea gown when I had the chance? YES YES YES ATHOUSANDTIMES YES, you fool!!

June:  French Language


Lesson 1: Like the free Yoga lessons, there's a great smartphone app called "Duolingo," which allows you to quiz yourself in almost any language. It's free, fun, and practically mindless. A great life-upgrade from Angrybirds. (Are people still playing that these days???)

Lesson 2: It's a lot easier to find an excuse to eat French food than speak the French language. Oops.

Lesson 3: If you can find time to walk, you can also find time to enjoy the occasional pain du chocolate and verre de vin. I'm honestly tired of dealing with people who deprive themselves of the good foods in life under the claim they don't deserve them -- or that their body suddenly can't process them. Unless you have a psychological issue and/or eating disorder, get moving, get moderating, and get over your gluten-free* self.

Pourrais-je survive dans France ajourd'hui? Considering I had to type all of that into Google Translate, non.

*If you are legitimately, doctor-proscribed gluten-intolerant, I apologize for this.

July: Photography


Lesson 1: Some Instagram Filters are coy mistresses that can only be replicated by the shrewdest of Photoshoppers.

Lesson 2: If you want to learn film photography, you might as well learn to develop your own photos. Film printers are sadly being phased out. Even if you can manage to find one, you're paying higher amounts for less color quality. Sad days.

Am I still in complete awe of how fashion bloggers take their outfit post photos?  YES. TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!

August: Minimalism 


Lesson 1: I am not a minimalist, and I probably never will be.

Lesson 2: For wardrobe minimalism, follow two principles - (a) toss or donate a similar item when you buy something new and (b) only buy pieces that work with what you've already got. There's no sense in buying a shirt if you don't have pants to wear it with. Unless your that's your bag. (P.S. -- If you're baffled by the art of what "works with" what, I suggest checking out DesignSeeds and the Sherwin Williams Smartphone app.)

Lesson 3: There really is something detoxifying about taking a chunk of "stuff" out of your life.

Have I finally unlocked the baffling secret of "A place for everything, and everything in its place."? Not even a little bit.

Other Important Discoveries:


1) Don't lose touch with your friends from college. Some of my friends live close enough that we can still grab the occasional drink. Others I catch up with on the phone month-to-month. Still others I've only managed to write a couple postcards to, but we still make sure to see each other when we're in the same town. You really do meet these people for a reason, and it hurts when they're gone.

2) Cars bumpers are meant to be ruined, and if you live anywhere without a garage, it's bound to happen. Don't bother fixing it -- just get over it.

3) If you establish a regular bedtime, you'll discover energy you didn't know you had -- but it will ruin your ability to go out with your night-owl friends.

4) All of the horrible things you hear about office day-jobs, punching your card, and "the daily grind" are true -- and even worse when you're a young, self-entitled recent graduate. The clock resets itself to that place where people can (and will) tell you you "don't have enough life experience yet" to make decisions/comprehend/manage etc. Oddly, you start to envy your friends who already look thirty.

6) Bobby pins are supposed to lie on your head wavy-side-down. Who knew?!


So what's on the horizon for next year? I've had a few ideas about how I'd like to center my blog for 2013-2014. First, I thought I'd like to repeat the month-to-month schedule of inspirsessions, but judging from my amount of focus last year, I really think it is better if I have a more flexible schedule.

That said, I'd like to post more frequently, incorporate more photos, and focus on fashion and food posts, since those are what I've always enjoyed the most. I'd also like to do more "How-to" blogging -- I don't know how much I have to share in that regard, but this is one of the more useful, less narcissistic offerings of the internet, and I think it would be a fun challenge to get involved!

I'd like to do food posts of complete meals I think up, and cocktails which complement them. I want to feature photographs of beauty I notice on my drive to work. I hope I can finally learn self-photography well enough to finally bring my outfit posts to life. Mostly, I want to uphold what I set out here to do: to chronicle my fascinations with the world as they morph and grow -- and hopefully to inspire others along the way.

Hear's to another year of learning!


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