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

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Don’t Give Your Power Away

confidenceI have always been a “wear your heart on your sleeves” type of gal. I am still deciding if that’s a good or bad thing. This trait has been a strength at times and my achilles heel at others. Most recently, it has served as the latter.

So here’s the scoop: I recently spotted my ex-boyfriend at the mall. Not just an ex, but the ex, the one that broke my heart and left the pieces scattered on the ocean floor for me to reassemble. The ex that was my first love. The ex that, at one point, I never thought I’d be able to get over. To keep the story short, I did one day, with much time and effort, heal from the wounds of that relationship. I have moved on. So what’s the big deal?

I am a very honest person, i.e. the description “a girl who wears her heart on sleeves” in the opener. So when I saw not only the ex that I haven’t spoken to in three years, but his little sister, his little brother, his best friend, and to top it all off, his new girlfriend, all at the mall where I work a part time job, I inwardly and outwardly was FREAKING out. My heart not only dropped to the ground, but before my brain could even comprehend, my entire body dipped down to hide behind a fixture of clothing. A few expletives were definitely said.

I take wearing your heart on your sleeves to a whole new level. My first instinct was to go into defense mode. Yea, I am over this guy, but so what?! Do I really want to run into him, his family, friends and girlfriend at my job, a job that I am not all that proud of? The answer to that is a sure fired no. Then, I started thinking and questioning myself: Why am I acting this way? Why am I allowing someone and something from my past to affect me? How can I cower and cringe at the sight of one person? How can I allow another human being to have that much power over me?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

No one has power over you unless you give it to them.

It probably took me a good thirty minutes to recover and get my act together. Yea, I was shaking in my boots, but I gave myself a little kick in the rear, reminded myself that no person, past or present, defines me and I decided that only I determine who and what has power over me. I’m pretty sure my ex and his group of friends and family didn’t even notice me, but maybe one day we will cross paths again. The next time, I would only hope that my response would be better.

Here’s what a lot of bumps and bruises in my twenties have taught me: Nobody has power over you, unless you give it to them. So guess, what? Don’t give it away. I can laugh about my recent mall debacle and about how ridiculous I acted. If I could go back, I’d tell myself to breathe and remind myself not to let other people affect me so much. I have just as much the right to breathe and walk this Earth as the next person. Never should I let another human being make me want to go into hiding.

I know the twenties can be rough, but I hope you can take some encouragement from the fiasco that I call my everyday life and be reminded to not cringe, cower or hide for anyone. Don’t allow people to have power over you. You are not just a twenty something at the bottom of the totem pole. You are a twenty something with endless possibility. Keep your head held high.

-Stephkt

Life After College: For the Class of 2015

I wrote this post a year ago after talking to a friend who had recently graduated college. Hopefully, the class of 2015 can benefit from these words, as well. Welcome to adulthood. It’s not nearly as bad as it seems.

I am not sure who coined the phrase, “College is the best time of your life,” but I have never been one to agree with it.

I sat down today for tea (very grown up, right?) with a friend, and we got to talking about post grad life. We soon found that we had experienced many of the same things, setbacks, disappointments, growing pains and a surprising amount of happiness on the other side of growing up.

Now don’t get me wrong…..I loved college. Everything from the people you meet, the places you travel and all the experiences that only a college setting can provide are priceless. Some of my most stressful college times, like bad roommate situations, crazy parties or astronomically priced texts books have now become some of my funniest memories to look back on.

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(Photo via hercampus.com)

The four years I spent in college, were pivotal for me. The 18-year-old girl who walked on campus was not the same person as the 21-year-old young woman that packed her bags and moved away from little Stillwater, Oklahoma. I made some of my best friends in college. I stayed up for hours studying for finals, never sure how I was going to pull off a passing grade but somehow always did. I had my first love. I landed an internship at a major magazine in New York. I won a pageant in college. I started a magazine. I met people from all over the country in college. I traveled to some of the smallest towns and some of the largest cities. I took lots of sporadic and fun road trips. I tried foods that I would have never thought to try (and even liked some). I joined a sorority and actually liked it. I started a chapter of a nonprofit organization and was able to volunteer at countless other organizations.

I can look back on that time with a smile. College was SOME of the best years of my life, but it was not THE best time of my life. Although, I truly loved my college years, I cannot and will not settle on the notion that those four years will be the best of my life. I graduated when I was 21 years old. Most people complete undergrad between the ages of 21 and 23. If the best years of my life are over after not even a quarter of a century of life, well then man…….that’s depressing.

Here’s how I look at it: Each chapter of life should get progressively better because you grow. Every season we are in will have its ups and downs. Post grad life is full of them, from moving away from home, bills, jobs woes, adjusting to a new city and meeting new people. Sometimes it can get overwhelming. Sometimes all those newly found adult responsibilities can be hard to balance, but lets not forget that college had its share of problems too. Think overpriced books, finals stress and weight gain just to name a few. With the downsides of post grad life, don’t forget the good: independence, travel, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones, career advancement and did I mention freedom and independence already?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Never get so stuck in one season of life that you cannot enjoy the present one.”

I never want to get stuck in one season that it stops me from enjoying today. For now, I am a young adult living in her post grad years. I am in my early twenties still trying to figure things out. I have bills to pay, a job to go to in the morning and dinner to get on the table. Yes, it can be stressful, but I wouldn’t change it. I am sure that when I am in my thirties and have kids crying, laundry to finish and diapers to change, I’ll look back on my twenties and miss them, but I also hope that I will be content with all the blessings that season provides.

Today, my friend and I will were able to rehash our college years and all the highs and lows. I am so happy that she is working in a career that energizes her and brings her to life. I am even happier that she has grown since college and has become this radiant, young woman. That is my wish for myself and every twenty something. That life after the college years only gets better.

I hope things aren’t easy for you. I hope you are challenged, pressed and pushed to grow. I hope that when opportunities for new things come knocking on your door that you take them. I hope that you are constantly learning, changing and growing into a better version of yourself.

So for all you college students who are cringing at the idea of graduating and leaving the college bubble, take it from this post grad. Life is what you make it. Life after college will be as good as you make it. Don’t spend years of your life trying to relive the college life. When it’s over, accept it and gracefully close that door.

To all you current, post grads, maybe some of you are job hunting or others are getting settled in new jobs and cities, remember to enjoy this time. Heck yea, it’s hard! But enjoy this season for what it is: one with ups and downs. A season that brings laughter, tears and a chance to grow at every turn.

-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

A Silver Lining Mindset

silverliningI really do enjoy writing this blog. If you’re new here, Life as Told by an Upcoming Twenty Something is all about the mishaps, blunders, pitfalls, mistakes and lessons learned while in your twenties. I am learning, writing and sharing with you all as I go. So usually when I write something, it’s because it is either something I have walked through or am walking through. If you ever feel like I am preaching to you, please don’t. Because I am telling myself these lessons as much as I am telling you guys.

So I am 24 years old as I write this, and I find myself in a bit of slump lately. Talking to my older brother the other night, I found ironically that when he was 24, he too found himself in a bit of a “quarter life crisis”. Not to be dramatic, but 24 has been rough. These last six months have been hard. I have encountered a lot of uncertainty in my career, my friendships, with dating, you name it!

In the midst of all the uncertainty and the chaos, I was reminded the other day the value of perspective. Feeling despondent and down on myself, I quickly remembered the value of what I choose to focus on.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life.” Sarah Young

If all you choose to focus on are the clouds, you might miss out on the rainbow that peers through the darkness at the end of the storm. You might only see an inconvenient crack in the sidewalk that causes you to slip but completely overlook the flower sprouting in the imperfect, tattered cement.

One saying that I live by is, “There is always hope.” Lately, I have gotten off track and forgotten that there is always something good to hope for. There are always second chances, new beginnings, births after deaths, wins after losses.

So maybe you’re like me and you’re at a point where life doesn’t quite look like what you had planned. Or maybe you have had some success but lately only seen setbacks and losses. Well, I am here to give you a kick in the rear and encourage you to see that there is still good to be found from your frame of reference. There is beauty in the masterpiece called your life. Sometimes you just have to dust your eyes off to see that it’s there.

-Stephkt

The Simplicity of It All

The twenties are such a fluid time, full of change and ups and downs. I am a bit of a nomad myself. Change, spontaneity and adventure seem to fit me pretty well, but I had an a really humbling epiphany recently. In the hustle and bustle of the twenties, the rat race of career, marriage and the climb to success, it is important not to forget what matters. It is important to value the little things.

So maybe you’re not catching my point yet. Am I saying that career, relationship and finding your place in the world shouldn’t be your focus in your twenties? By all means, no. What I am saying is that it should not be your only priority.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“In the hustle of life, don’t forget to stop, look around and say thank you.”

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a group of young adults at a senior citizen’s living facility. I met the sweetest lady named Jean. She was dressed in a red polka dotted blouse, red cardigan and navy pants, with a beautiful smile to top it off. Although Jean had a hard time with her short term memory and kept asking the same questions, she also couldn’t stop telling me how much she appreciated seeing our group’s smiling faces.

Jean explained that when you live in a senior’s living facility, you don’t get outside as much as you do when you’re young. You miss the sway of trees, the brilliance of the sun and the scent of flowers. She also told me she really appreciates interactions with people now more than ever. Her living facility has three meals per day: Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Lunch at 11:30 a.m. and dinner at 4:00 p.m. She is promptly downstairs for every meal. I can only imagine in her best outfit and with her big smile.

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Jean, my best friend and I at lunch

Jean taught me an important lesson: to value the little things. In your twenties, it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the world around you and not stop to really appreciate all you have. So you may not have the perfect job you’d imagined back in college. Be thankful that you have a job. So you’re single yet again for another Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you have plenty of family and friends who love and appreciate you.

So what, you’re life isn’t perfect. Welcome to the club. You still have a lot more life to live. Jean reminded me the value of a grateful heart and the joy in appreciating the littlest things. I know everywhere you look, people are encouraging you to speed up and get ahead, but maybe just take a moment, stop, look around and breathe it all in and appreciate what this season of your life has to offer. You should literally take time out of your day to smell the roses around you and gaze at the stars. An appreciative heart is always a full heart.

– Stephkt

A Time for Everything

One of my best friends moved to California this week. She will be going to grad school at California State University, Long Beach. I couldn’t be happier for her! She is such a go-getter and a hard working person. She is AMAZING, to say the least, and has inspired me since our college days of leading a nonprofit together and working on a magazine. She is going after her dreams. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

But (there always is a but)…….there is a bittersweet part of watching my friend move off to California: The fact that I am not with her. You see, I too, have had the dream of moving to California for a long time. Not for the glitz and the glam or the “Hollywood” scene, but because the profession I aspire to work in, film and magazines, is a thriving industry there. I have been told that if you want to get in the game, then you must go where the game is played. For me, the game is being played in California. My desire to be there only grows stronger and stronger with time. Something in my gut tells me that is where I am supposed to be.

IMG_8155My friend Erica’s first photo after arriving in Cali

Like attracts like. Just like my friend is a go-getter, so am I. I don’t believe in sitting on my butt and waiting for my dreams to come my way. I believe in working my tail off and earning them. So why didn’t I move to California then? Well, I had every intention to pack up my bags and move with my friend come fall of this year, but every time I would try to take a step forward, there was something stopping me. Something was missing.

You may think, “Maybe you were just afraid?” Fear? Yeah, I have definitely felt fear before, but I have learned to feel fear and go after my dreams anyway. I may feel fear but I do not allow it to stop me. I felt fear when I moved to New York City the summer before my senior  year of college. I felt fear when I moved to Minneapolis the year after I graduated. So fear was not my problem. Yet, there was something missing that I needed to have before I could make the move to California. Peace. I did not have peace. I could not put my finger on it, but I just knew that it wasn’t the right time.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Be patient: Take a lesson from chess. Sometimes when you are young everything seems so immediate and emergent. It’s usually not. It’s one thing to see a move you want to take. It’s another to be able to wait until the right time to take it.”

Sarah Hall, CEO of Harley & Co.

I know what I want to do. Write. I love to tell stories, other people’s stories, my story. I want to use media, specifically magazines and film, to bring hope to people. I am a storyteller. Writing is my gift. I want to use it to help someone else. The place I know I want to be in to pursue that dream is California, but what I realized is that California isn’t the only place where I can pursue my dreams. While I am waiting for my time to come to move west, I can pursue my dream wherever I am at in the meantime. I can work hard and make the most out of the opportunities in this season of my life and work diligently and persistently to get to that next season.

The truth is, you can have a dream on your heart, but sometimes, the timing isn’t always right. That doesn’t mean give up on the dream. It simply means to keep working and honing your skills until your time comes. So when your window of opportunity does finally come, you will be ready to take it.

I still plan to move to California. But until then, I will be content. I will work hard and keep writing and honing my craft. I will keep taking magazine opportunities as they come and see them as practice under my belt. I will be rooting on my friends with the loudest voice, as they pursue their dreams. When my time to move to California comes, I will be ready and guaranteed I will be better for having waited. There is wisdom in not only knowing the right move to take but in knowing the right time to take it.

As a twenty something, I hope you are encouraged today to relentlessly pursue your passions. Work hard. When you get knocked down, take from it the lessons you can and keep going. Do not feel pressured to rush into a career or to take a position just because it seems like the adult thing to do. Be honest with yourself and figure out what is best for you. Have the courage to get up and go after your dreams, stepping out into unchartered territory. But also have the courage to wait. Be brave enough to stay when something doesn’t feel right. Have the courage to be still until you know what’s best for you. Have the courage to wait until it’s your time. And when your time finally does come, take it.

“Genuinely brave people not only have the courage to take action, they also have the courage to wait when they need to.” Joyce Meyer

Here’s a song to keep you encouraged while you wait: Daley- Those Who Wait

IMG_20131124_135517Erica and I reunited after a long time apart!

MeandEricaSome of my favorite memories with Erica

-Stephkt