Learning the Dance of Making Friends in a New City

Moving to a new city is hard. Anyone who has lived in multiple cities, states or even countries  understands what it means to be the Jess in New Girl all too well (sans the apartment full of quirky, childlike men as roommates.)

If there is anything you desire most when moving to a new city, then it is friendships. Not those people who rarely call or text. Not those people who go out with you every once in awhile to capture an Instagram worthy pic. True, real, unadulterated friendship. You want it, but when moving to a new city, it can seem intimidating and overwhelming.

Here are some tips on how to make real friends:

1. Get involved in things you care about.

Moving to a new city is a great opportunity to get involved in causes and organizations you care about. Once you do, you’ll meet people with similar interests and passions. A guaranteed conversation starter and a road to meet like-minded people.

2. Step outside of your comfort zone.

In a new place, there will be ample opportunity to try new things. Do things you normally would never agree to. By taking a chance and adventuring into the unknown, you will expand your net and meet people along the way. Don’t forget to smile.

3. Say “yes” more than you say “no.”

After a long day of work, the last thing you want to go do is try that cardio kickboxing class your coworker invited you to or go to on coffee date your neighbor suggested. Do it! The more you are willing to be open to people, the more friends you will make.

4. Network, network, network.

The word “networking” can seem intimidating and nerve-wracking, but what it really boils down to is asking questions and listening. Find ways you can help other people and ask them for help when you need it. Networking means learning to connect and take an interest in people.

While we of course all want friends, we also don’t want to settle. Here are some bonus tips:

Don’t try to force anything that isn’t organic.

Making friends is a lot like dating. If the puzzle pieces don’t fit in a relationship, then you part ways. Same thing goes for making friends. If there is no real chemistry or you just don’t click, then it is perfectly OK to let it run its course.

Flaky or inconsistent behavior is a red flag.

Someone who says one thing and does another, someone who constantly cancels (of course unless they have a legitimate reason) or someone who only comes around when they need something, stop the friendship. Not only should you stop it, but you should actively move in the opposite direction.

Never beg.

Never beg anyone to be your friend. If you are always the one initiating or asking to hang out and their response is always delayed, they cancel, are indecisive or (worst of all) never respond at all, let it go. Never beg. You are too valuable for that.

This post originally appeared on FabFitFun.

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Thanks for Choosing Starbucks

Starbucks

“Thanks for choosing Starbucks, how may I help you?” I recently took on a second job. If you guessed Starbucks, then you guessed right! I’m saving for grad school and for my big move out west this fall. It’s a huge (expensive) move so I am saving every penny I make.

Today was my second official day on the job (outside of training), and let me tell you it was intimidating. I never knew how fast paced and detailed the behind the counter work at Starbucks or any food establishment could entail. I have much more respect for people who work in the food business now. There is so much to learn and an equal amount of things that you can possibly get wrong.

To be completely honest and transparent, I left work today feeling a little frustrated and discouraged. It seemed like I got more things wrong than I did right, and no matter how fast I moved, I could always use a jolt in my pace. I know I am new and I still have a lot to learn. I should probably give myself a break, but in the moment, all I could do was feel really discouraged.

Now, part of my stress could be the fact that I am working two jobs, one of which is the early morning shift (Hello to waking up at 4 a.m.!), all while applying for grad school and saving for a move. It’s a lot! Any normal human being might feel a little stress.

So when I sat to take my ten minute break (at the crazy hour of 6:30 a.m.!), I had to give myself a little pep talk. I had to counter all the negative thoughts in my head toward myself and replace them with some positive self-motivation: “You can do this. Keep your head up. You still are new. You are still learning. Show yourself some grace. You are brave to try something new.” The last thought it the one that really got me going: You are brave.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“It takes courage to try something new, to pursue a dream, to not quit. So keep going.”

You see, even though I screwed up countless ways on my first few days on the job, I do not completely and totally suck (the way I told myself in my head). I am still learning. There is guaranteed to be some trial and error at the beginning of something new. So yes, I made and will make plenty of mistakes, but I am brave for giving it a shot.

Some people would be too intimidated to apply to such a fast, paced environment as Starbucks. Other people might be too lazy to get a second job or to wake up at 4 a.m. to work. Others might be to prideful to take a second job at a coffee shop. Did I mention that I don’t drink a lot of coffee and thus, I don’t know a lot about coffee? Hence, another reason as to why I am brave.

So yes, I am brave. It takes courage to try something new. It takes courage to take little steps toward your dream: like taking a second job at Starbucks. It takes a bold person to clean bathroom floors, work long, early morning hours and smile through tired eyes with the warm greeting, “Thanks for choosing Starbucks. How may I help you?”

If you are a twenty something, working toward a goal or dream, then this post is just for you. I want to encourage you to keep going. Work those odd jobs. Bust your butt. Save, budget, and plan. It takes courage to try something new and even more courage to relentlessly pursue a dream. Don’t look down on yourself for starting out in humble beginnings or for not having it all together. We all have to start out somewhere.

Still learning,

Stephkt

Hold On to Let Go

LettingGo

If you’ve listened to the radio the last few months, you might guess that the title for today’s blog comes from the Top 40 hit, Lean On (by Major Lazer and DJ Snake). The song, with an eclectic mix of reggae, pop and electric, repeats the line “We would only hold on to let go.” This message has been etched into my head: That sometimes, even though all we want is security, the best thing we can do is hold on to the idea of letting go.

In the last few months, I have seen a lot of change in my life. From moving out of my parents’ home, to watching my closest friendship grow apart, to dating a guy to back to being single, change has been happening all around me.There have been a number of days where I wanted to stay in bed with the pillows over my head (and let’s be honest, I definitely had those days).

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“If you try to hold on to everything from seasons past, you’ll never see the beauty of today.”

Change will do that to the best of us. It’ll leave you scared, cringing in pain or running frantically in the opposite direction. I think what I have been realizing is that change, although painful at times, is necessary. If I try to hold on to everything and everyone from seasons past, I’ll never see the beauty of now, of today, of this moment. Everything and everyone isn’t meant to travel along with us into our futures. Although painful at times, letting go is a necessary part of life.

My godmom gave me a pep talk a few weeks ago, and she told me, “Stephanie, if someone is for you, they will be a part of your life.” What a relief that was to hear. I won’t have to beg, plead, force or finagle a person or a thing into my life. If it is meant to be, it will be. Sometimes you just have to let go. Whether it means forgiving someone, quitting a job, moving away, sometimes letting go takes more strength than holding on.

So for all my twenty something readers, maybe there are things that you can let go of. As fall steadily approaches and the new school year begins for so many, it may just be the perfect time to let go of something or someone. As you let go and release whatever you’ve been holding on to, it’ll be amazing to see what new things you make room for: adventure, growth, love, independence. The ball is in your court. Here’s to letting go!

-Stephkt

So You’re Twenty Something and You Don’t Have it Figured Out

mistakesI sat done at a wobbly, wooden table decorated in festive red, green and yellow paint. The chips, queso and pico de gallo were neatly placed and quietly awaiting my arrival. I walked up and connected eyes with my high school mentor/ journalism teacher, something like an old friend. We had years to catch up over an hour’s lunch. The conversation was jam packed but well worth it.

As my former teacher and I sat there catching up, I began rehashing the many blunders I have made since he knew me at the ripe age of 17. It would’ve been easy to feel like in a lot of ways I have messed up, failed in more areas than not. Dating mishaps, friendship changes, job failures, family issues, you name it, the 24-year-old version of me has probably seen it.

The cool thing about my high school journalism teacher is that, for lack of a better word, he is cool. As I sat talking about the many mishaps, the twenties has brought so far, he reminded me of something important: “It’s okay to not have it all figured out.” What??!? My thoughts came to a screeching halt. What do you mean it’s okay to not have it all figured out? Do you mean it’s just fine that I do not have it all together? Music to my ears!

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”  John Wooden

Talking to someone who has known me for so long and has seen my progression over the years took a big load off my shoulders. Because I know that he believes in me and sees what I can be. I think the trick is not getting so caught up in the mistakes I have made or will make in my twenties and to continue to see the potential that others so readily see in me in myself.

Of course, making mistakes as you grow, learn and stumble is not an excuse to act crazy, but it does mean, “Hey, you! That twenty something over there! Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I think being in your twenties is a beautiful place to be because it’s in between. There is so much room to grow, to learn, to reinvent yourself, to start over, to pursue a childhood dream. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re anything like me, a twenty something whose life doesn’t look exactly like what you thought it would in high school or college, well here’s some news: You don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to stumble. It’s okay to make mistakes. The point of it all is to teach you to keep going.

My high school teacher reminded me of the optimism that the 17-year-old me he once knew possessed. The 24-year-old me could learn a lesson or two from her. Keep your eyes wide open. Keep chasing those dreams. If you make a mistake or two and get off course, then that means you’re right on track.

– Stephkt

Right Now

Change

Change. That’s what my life has looked a lot like lately. Everywhere I turn, all I see is change and to be honest I haven’t always dealt with it the best.There’s been so much change lately I haven’t written in a month! That’s nuts!

Earlier this month, my parents left the house we have lived at for the last 9 years. I am crashing at a friend’s apartment for the next few months. My closest friendship ended recently. I am looking at moving out of state in a few months to pursue my writing career. Change.

The twenties are all about change. Around every corner, every turn, every side road, it seems there is a change awaiting. How do you keep your head together during the change? How do you manage to keep your footing when the ground beneath your seems to be shaking? When the life you’ve known for so long seems to be coming undone, what do you hold on to?

I cannot pretend that I have all the answers to this. As I am still very much figuring out the tumultuous twenties, I think I am starting to realize the best way to handle change is to focus on right now. Instead of worrying about what will happen or being afraid of letting go of what used to be, focus on now. Enjoy now because right now is all we’ve got.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“We’ll never be as young as we are right now. We’ll never see the world like we do right now. So take in what’s around you. Take a shot. Give it all you’ve got.”

Don’t get stuck looking back at what was. If you’re always looking forward or always looking back, how can you enjoy right now? Take in what’s around you. Let go a little. Enjoy the ride you are on now. You can navigate the change just ahead.

-Stephkt

No Five Year Plan

plan

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

A typical question for a twenty something. A simple, terse question that leaves the average twenty something grappling for the perfect, flawless response that will appease the ears of the listener.

I was recently asked this question. My response: “I am not sure.”

Gasp! You said that to someone? You don’t have a five year plan? You couldn’t give them some sort of idea? Why didn’t you make something up?

Five years ago, when I was 19, I could’ve never imagined what my life would be like today. Five years ago, I would have answered that question differently. I would have given some eloquent response about how I see myself living in New York after college graduation, and by 24 working my way up the ladder at some big name magazine. Well folks, the plan I had for my life five years ago, did not quite come to pass, and I’m okay. I am more than okay. I am better for it.

When a friend of mine recently asked me about my five year plan, I so eloquently and bravely, in all my 24 years of wisdom, told him the truth: I am not sure. At 24 years of age, I understand life does not work according to plan. Yes, I have dreams, goals and ideas in my head. I have passions that I am actively pursuing and would like to continue to pursue. However, I feel like creating some sort of masterful plan, 2.5 kids, married with a white picket fence by age 25, is a bit silly and honestly just downright stressful.

Five years ago, I was a sophomore in college. I was 19, working hard at a magazine on campus, interning at a local newspaper. I had big city dreams, dreams of New York. I wanted to be at a top women’s magazine straight out of college. Coming from a university in a small Oklahoma town didn’t discourage me at all. It just fueled my drive.

Nowhere, in my five year plan back then did I write down: fall in love for the first time, experience heartbreak, travel cross country, join a women’s ministry, live in New York for a summer, travel to Ireland, run a 10k and train for a 15k, move to Minneapolis, work for the top travel magazine in the world. That’s what my life has looked like the last five years, full of unexpected turns, curveballs, knock outs, and lots of second chances.

Those things weren’t in my five year plan, but I sure wouldn’t change them. So now at 24, I threw out the “list making” mindset because I know that life doesn’t work that way. In five years, I will be almost 30. I’d like to say I’ll be doing some screenwriting, while also working for a women’s magazine, maybe married or maybe just in a serious relationship. But who knows! That’s life! And I’m okay with not knowing and not pretending like I do.

The biggest lesson I have learned so far in my twenties is this: Life doesn’t go according to my plan. It’s cool to have dreams. Those are from God, but it gets messy when we try to dictate and pinpoint every detail of our lives. I’ve come to accept the not knowing, and I am learning to trust God more with the next step.

– Stephkt

Find Your Tribe: For Paul Walker

friendship

The twenties are all about finding yourself. You try some things. You make some choices. You take some chances. You fall. You bruise. You get back up and try again. What a roller coaster ride!

At 24, I am constantly becoming more aware of who I am, my likes, my dislikes, my passions, the things I value most, the things that can use some changing, the things that I hold valuable and other things that I can lighten my grip on. The twenties are one big decade of learning, and a big part of that journey to self discovery is finding the people who will make the journey with you.

I recently saw Furious 7, the seventh installment to the Fast and Furious franchise. I had read reviews that said there hasn’t been one dry in eye in theater after the movie’s ending, and I was no exception to that. Typically, when characters exit in a film, you can walk away knowing it was just acting, but this film leaves you with a gripping sense of finality. As most of the world knows, one of the lead characters, Paul Walker, died in a car crash November 30, 2013. The movie had not yet finished filming before Walker’s tragic death, which makes its message of brotherhood, friendship and solidarity ring all the more true.

The film franchise has been criticized at times for its sometimes predictable story lines and not so stellar acting. Even if fast cars, action and muscle aren’t you’re idea of a good time, there is a message we can all take from, not only the Fast and Furious films’ message, but the people behind it: the value of true friendship.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Life has little to do with the destination. The destination is but a mere, hazy mirage in the distance. Life is not all about the journey because even that can seem unbearable at times. Life is mostly about people, the ones who run along side you and make the journey ahead not as hard.”

Vin Diesel has been quoted recently as saying that the friendships seen in the movie are not just acting, but they are the real thing. Paul Walker was not just his co-star the last 15 years, but his best friend, a brother, not by blood but by choice. And that my dear readers is what life is all about, finding your tribe, finding the people who will take you good and bad, love you at your best and love you through your worst.

“This movie is more than a movie. You’ll feel it when you see it. Something emotional happens to you. When you walk out of this movie, you’ll appreciate everyone you love. You just never know when the last day is that you are going to see them,” says Diesel in a USA Today news story.

People. Life is all about people, they are what fill the pages of your life with beautiful colors, laughter, joy, tears. Though difficult and trying at times, people are what make life worth living. I have learned and am still learning that we are built for community. Friendship is a gift, a rarity. True friendship is a bond that can’t be contrived or forced.

If you haven’t found that true friendship yet, don’t worry. The best way to find it is just by being your most authentic self. So don’t bend and break in an effort to find it, but when you find authentic ones, ones where you are safe to be 100 percent yourself, yet dangerous enough that you are challenged to grow, hold onto them with all you’ve got. Because friends, authentic friends, are the family we choose. They’re what life is all about (and they make any journey, especially the twenties, worth the ride.)

Be sure to watch the video for the movie’s single, See You Again. It’ll be sure to get stuck in your heard.

-Stephkt