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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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

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“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

Just Take A Step

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I have always been a bit of a worrier. When I was a little kid, I remember envisioning my life as this uphill climb. The hill represented the structure of my life, school, church, family, friends. There was an order to life. First, there was elementary school, then middle school, high school and college. Church was every Sunday and Wednesday. Family and friends were the people that filled my life.

Structure. There was structure. However, in my vision the structure only went so far. Once I got to a certain point in my life (hello adulthood), once I climbed to the top of the hill, there was no longer a set in stone structure, no instruction manual, no definite yes or no, just a free fall. The free fall after the climb terrified me.

Why did the free fall scare me so much? Let’s be honest, why does it still scare me even a little to this day? Choices. Because there are choices to be made and so many options. What career path will I choose? What college will I attend? What will I study? Will I go to grad school? Will I date this guy or that one? Will I move away from home or move back home for a little while? Will I open myself up to this new friendship? Should I hold onto this friendship or is it time to let it go?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

Just take a step. It’s okay if you get it wrong!

Questions. All awaiting a yes or no from ME. The task to decide, to choose, to lead, to be an adult can be hard. It can be downright scary, but here is what I am realizing: It’s okay to take a step, even if you get it wrong! Let me repeat: It’s okay to make a choice, a decision, to say yes or no, to take a chance. You don’t have to be so fearful of getting the answer wrong that you choose not to make a move at all.

Life is not a quiz where you circle yes or no and if you choose the wrong answer, then you fail. Yes, life is full of choices, but I am here to tell you that twenties are a great time to step out without fear of the free fall. Let’s say you take that job offer or say yes to that first date. As long as you do not have any huge red flags and your conscious isn’t telling you to hit the breaks, it won’t hurt to take a chance, to step out onto the water and get a little wet.

If I could go back, I would tell my teenage self to stop worrying about life after high school, to stop worry about not picking the right major or the right school, and to just step out and take a chance. I promise even if you or I were to make a “terribly wrong decision,” we’d be okay. So just follow your instincts when you are faced with choices, and if you aren’t sure what choice to make, take a step, one step at a time and go from there.

– Stephkt

The Twenties: A Happy In Between

middleroadLife as Told by an Upcoming, Twenty Something is usually a place where you can come for great advice, a kick in the rear, a companion to tell you, “Yes, I know the 20s are rough, but you can succeed!” This is a place to come find encouragement and hope for another week in your tumultuous twenties.

It’s all about the motivation here, but today I am going for a different vibe, a good laugh because we all need one. If you have ever felt old in your twenties, well here’s a video that will reassure you that you are and make you laugh out loud at least once: Do Teens Know 90s Music?

I can only watch the video once because I start to feeling like I am a day over ancient. The part that gets me is when one of the girls says, “My sisters played it. And they’re like really old, 20s, 25.” To a girl who is 24, going on 25, that was enough to make me feel like I need to hang it up and go register for the AARP.

Funny thing about your twenties is that we constantly get mixed messages. Thirty somethings tell us we are babies and have so much to learn. Teenagers think we are ancient and have fallen off the face of the Earth.

Well, here’s some good news: You are right in the middle where you should be. Yes, you have survived high school, your teenage years and many of you have survived or almost made it out of college. You have taken your first steps into the real world and look at you! Adulthood doesn’t look bad on you, but yes, you do still have a lot to learn. You are reminded of this by your weekly, if not daily, mishaps and blunders that leave you wanting to crawl up in the fetal position or on the phone crying to your mother.

But here’s to you kid! You are making it. You are surviving and taking the curve balls that the twenties bring your way. Remember it’s all ebbs and flows. The twenties are just a happy in between so enjoy while it lasts. One day when you’re thirty something, believe it or not, you will miss the uncertainty and adventure of this time.

-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

Dream On

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Once upon a time lived a wide-eyed girl with big dreams. Dreams so big, they oftentimes scared her, but she dreamed anyway. Despite circumstances around her and the things she did not have, she believed she could be absolutely anything that she wanted to be in her wildest, most daring, brave dreams. If she worked hard and believed, then she just knew there was nothing she could not be.

The girl got older and somewhere along the way she lost her way. Life took its tool. The hand dealt out wasn’t always fair. People came and went. She grew tired, and the wide-eyed, dreaming young girl unknowingly became a bitter, hopeless young, woman.

This story is not a magical fairy tale of a girl in a far away land. This is my story, and the story of so many people who lose the wonder and magic of their crazy, most wild, daring dreams. As of late, I have found myself in a dry season (a.k.a the longest winter, according to my last post). I have found myself in a place where the dreams I have held so dear, for so long seem completely out of reach. I have seen myself grow tired of the hum drum, day to day grind of life, of the constant work, effort and toil that seems to never end. I have found myself dry and to be honest, extremely worn out.

I read somewhere recently that age 24 is a carefree time, a time where you are supposed to persistently and incessantly pursue your dreams. I laughed when I read this, more like scoffed. For me and so many people I know, 24 has been hard and the journey to getting here has been even harder.

Let me explain. The twenties have not exactly looked like I thought they would so far. I am not nearly as put together as I thought I would be. My career? Not where I thought it’d be. Dating? Relationship? Nonexistent. Living in my dream city? Let’s just say, Tulsa, Oklahoma isn’t exactly where I planned to be in my post grad years. It’s been a hard road these last few years. There have been a number of attempts, followed by a lot of getting knocked down, just to have to find the courage to get back up again. Talking to a lot of my twenty something friends, their journey has been a lot like mine, not according to plan.

Twenty Something Advice (For Anybody):

“See the world not for what it is, but perhaps for all that it can be.”

To anyone reading this, whether you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties or even in your teens, here is what I want to leave you with: Get back up!

I know a lot of my blogs are about the mishaps, missteps and lessons learned of the twenties, but overall my biggest goal with this blog is to encourage my readers to keep going. Even when the road gets hard, especially then, keep chasing your dreams. Do not lose the wide-eyed, childlike wonder of your dreams. Without them, life becomes lackluster, dull and bitter. That is not a road that you nor I should travel.

So if you have been down at all about a season you are walking in with your career, relationships, locale, etc., I want you to keep dreaming, not for me, not even for yourself, but for all the people you will impact by daring to dream those crazy dreams. After all, crazy dreamers are the people who change the world.

-Stephkt