I'm making changes.
Believe it or not, I'm not one to make new year resolutions. If I want to do something, then I do it. If I want to make a change, then I make it. This isn't to shame people who follow such a tradition, it's more to show that that tradition might not work for everyone. I know that for me, if I were to make a resolution, unless I really wanted to make the change, I wouldn't make it.
I started working out right before Christmas (yikes, I know) and since coming back to school, I've been determined to get out more. Don't get me wrong, I love staying inside and firing up Hulu or Netflix and just chilling. But I also would like to go ice skating or go to a diner with some friends or just hangout sometime. I'm trying to make that change this semester.
The previous semesters were rather rough on my social life. My first semester at Villanova, I threw myself into my schoolwork. I dove in like schoolwork was a pool, and if we're being honest, the only part of me not in the pool was my nose so I could breathe.
I still hung out with friends, but not to the extent that I wanted. When the second semester came around, I was a doing a little bit better. And I want to clarify, I am an incredibly social. I love being around people and meeting new friends and all of that. The issue was that I just wasn't sure how to make sure people knew I was social, you know?
Now, in my fourth semester (can you believe it!?), I've since figured out that the pool is only just about 4 and a half feet deep. I'm 5'5, so I'm doing pretty well. I've been making plans with friends and actively letting them know when I'm free and what I'd like to do.
I met another girl who likes to do crafts just as much as I do and I recently made a pop-up birthday card for another friend. Yesterday, I had a three and a half hour study session with someone I had just met and it was a good time.
I'm making changes. I hope you are too.
Your career isn't everything.
It is a lot of things, but it isn't everything.
I think this is something I wish I had learned a lot earlier in life. I take my academic and professional career seriously. I am always looking for new experiences and resume builders, trying to network, and making new connections. This is important, I know, but sometimes I am so focused on that, that I forget to develop myself personally.
This is one of the ways that I develop myself personally. I appreciate the chance to broadcast my thoughts to the people who read my articles (I appreciate you too!). However, I still see the difference between my professional identity and my personal identity.
For any future employers that may be reading, don't fear, I am quite well rounded! I write these articles, I have a love for crafting (I've made my own rug!), I enjoy writing poetry and short stories, and I love to volunteer. There is so much more to me than just my professional life and so much more to me than just my personal life. I am both of them combined, but balanced.
But as I said before, when it comes to talk about my professional identity, I can speak about myself for some time. I assure you, not in a bragging type of manner, but in that I know how to respond to questions about my professional development. But, when people ask me what I enjoy doing, sometimes it's difficult for me to come up with a response. The things I mentioned before I love doing and I'm not sure why they don't roll off my tongue. Well, actually I do.
If I think about it, there has always been a serious emphasis on my professional development. When I was growing up (not that I'm not still growing...), my aunt Marlene (who happens to be Dr. Joy's mom!) would always say, "People judge you on the way you dress, the way you walk, and the way you talk!!" It's completely true and in that order as well! My parents, especially my Dad, used to insist that my siblings and I be careful about what we post on social media, because employers look at that to help determine who I am. (To all potential employers, I hope you enjoy the jokes I retweet as much as I do!)
I have spent years cultivating my professional life, making sure that whether offline or online, I am presenting who I am in the best way possible. As I go through college, I'm beginning to realize that I should do that more with my personal life as well.
So what in the world are you trying to tell us, Cassia? What should we get from this? I'm trying to tell you not to let the focus you place on your professional development to hinder your personal development. Explore hobbies, join clubs, meet new people, take (calculated) risks, and enjoy yourself. When you come home from your future job, you want to have something that you like doing to help you unwind. I'm trying to tell you that your personal life is important too.
Take care of yourselves! Until next week.
Last week I talked about investing in yourself, part of that has to do with self-care.
Self care can mean a lot of things for different people, but one type of self care I want to talk about, is your time.
Time is money and money is time. Time is valuable and something, once used, you cannot get back. No matter who you are, your time is worth something. Don’t allow others to waste it.
Friend who always texts you for favors, but accidentally threw their phone in a river every time you text them for something? They’re wasting your time. Practice self-care and stop doing favors.
Have you spent 3 hours in bed knowing you have an assignment due soon? (I should just @ myself for this one) You’re wasting your time. Practice self-care and get your work done.
Your resume isn’t in shape and you want an internship/job, but you don’t spend any of your free time doing things that will build your resume? You’re wasting your time. Practice self-care and seek out career building opportunities.
You’ve been working non-stop around the clock, at all times (finals week or not), only stopping to sleep and eat? You’re not managing your time wisely. Practice self-care by pausing, reevaluating your duties, and force yourself to incorporate a healthy amount of down time.
The last one may seem a bit backwards. We are constantly told “Work hard!” and “Do well in school!” and “Make sure you’re dedicating a good chunk of your time to studying/working/career building/networking!!”. There’s that old saying, “You can rest when you’re dead.” This is somewhat true, but you aren’t dead. Truth be told, all work and no play leaves Jack a drained and depressed person. You have to schedule time for yourself that has nothing to do with your career, your schoolwork, your network, or anything that you are already dedicating a massive amount of time to. You need “me time”.
I know for me, it often feels like I don’t “deserve” me time. I’ll look at all the work I’ve done and I’ll think, “You don’t deserve a break yet. You can take one later.” And do you know what often happens when I think that? When I skip my break? I end up feeling exhausted a day or so later and I “steal” three hours of me time in one day. I feel guilty and stressed throughout the time and when I finally do get back up (because you already know I’m in bed), I feel like I’ve wasted the entire day.
This could be avoided if I just regularly scheduled in me time. And you should too. Whether it’s a hobby, watching one (or three) episodes of your favorite show, or just take a guilt-free nap, practice self-care and manage your time properly.
Take care of yourself and you will always be able to give your absolute best.
What is your vision for 2018?
What goals did you accomplish in 2017?
What goals are on 2018’s to-do list?
It’s imperative to have something you are fighting towards. A milestone that, when reached, will push you forward to another one.
This year, we should focus on investing in ourselves. Parents invest time, energy, and money in their kids. Business owners invest time, energy, and money into their businesses. We shouldn’t be any different when it comes to investing in ourselves.
For example, I’m a computer engineer. I want my career to focus on back-end development, where I could be using programming languages such as Java or Python. So I invest in myself by learning programming languages that would be useful. Right now, I’m doing my best to learn Python. Something else I’ve done before and plan to do again is participate in hackathons to increase my skills. These things take time, energy, and sometimes even money. Even so, it’s worth it. You should be able to see the value in investing in yourself.
It can be a struggle, though. Sometimes I find it a tad difficult to push myself to do things that don’t seem to be immediate necessities. When school is in session, I catch myself pushing certain tasks to the back burner because “school always comes first”. This habit was most prominent in my freshman year of college, but going into my first semester of my sophomore year, I’m more actively balancing and prioritizing. School is important, but there should be a constant balance. It’s true, the scale might tip every now and then, especially if it’s midterms or finals week, but fight to keep it pretty consistent.
By working hard in school, you are investing in yourself. By eating properly, exercising, and drink enough water, you are investing in yourself. By seeking every opportunity that is relevant to you, you are investing in yourself. By making personal and professional connections that positively build your community, you are investing in yourself. By learning new skills, that are relevant to your future career or not, you are investing in yourself.
And when people see you diligently investing in yourself, they want to invest in you too. You can get on the path of success by first investing in yourself.
Women of the African Diaspora writing for the empowerment of the next generation.