Millennial Musings

Just another millennial trying to make a living.

Let Feminists Be Feminine

As I’ve stated a few times, I identify as a feminist.

I’m a feminist and a college student – which tend to conflict more often than not. People are often pretty hostile about my refusal to fall back on principles that I don’t agree with – whether it comes from not laughing at a sexist/racist joke, not participating in a party with a clearly anti-woman theme, or generally questioning the idea of intellectualism in academia and its exclusion of women nearly across the board.

But when I first started to identify as a feminist – what really got to me was the questioning of my femininity.

I’m someone who focuses a lot of things that are traditionally feminine – makeup, nail polish, fancy clothes/dress/etc., and I’m sure I have a host of other traditionalist pursuits.

I also decided to cut my hair, which confused everyone around me and coincidentally happened around the same time I decided to openly identify as a feminist. And the comments typically went like this:

How do you stand your hair being so… coarse?

Why did you cut your hair? It was so beautiful before with your curls!

How can you be a feminist when you spend so much time putting on makeup?

I thought feminists were all ugly… but you’re not.

And this is just another example of why I choose to be a feminist. The fact that people feel as though a woman’s credibility should be questioned based on her race, appearance, style, and general lifestyle choices are reinforcing why we need feminism.

If someone falls too far from conventional femininity, people won’t take their opinion seriously. If you’re too close to it, then you’re not really fighting for a cause because you’re falling into traditional norms.

And yes, there is a certain aspect of femininity that reinforces patriarchal notions, but that doesn’t encompass all of feminism by any way, shape, or means.

If someone is actively helping the cause of feminism, recognizing their privilege, and working to create a more inclusive dialogue that all can participate – then they’re a feminist. Their appearance doesn’t confirm or deny any of those aspects of their personality.

At the same time, if someone decides not to fall into traditional ideas of femininity, that doesn’t make their opinions any less valid either. Considering the absolutely vicious things people will say to those who refuse to fit into conventionality, they’re taking great steps to support their sense of personal and social identification.

Overall, feminism is not about physical appearance. It’s about changing sense of ideology, purpose, and focus. Feminism is not, and will never be a monolith. And if you want to limit it based on narrow definitions of attractiveness or physical appearance, then you’ll be missing on how much it has to offer.

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WordPlay

As a resident INFP, I think a lot about the nuances and politics of language. We even had the chance to talk about it in relation to sexuality and relationships during our ALF meeting today.

In both of my disciplines, I’m constantly arguing on we structure terms and the implications of those words. For example, we’re very quick to assign terms such as ‘fundamentalism’ or ‘uniformity’ to Islam, while allowing other world religions to have a freer sense of flexibility. Or the fact that you’ll rarely ever hear the word thug used in relation to anyone other than a black man. Or, as we expressed in ALF, the terms surrounding sex – hit it/screw her/nail her/bang her/etc. are pretty violent. And as a victim of sexual assault, that really struck me in a way that I hadn’t completely thought of before.

What does it mean to structure ourselves around a series of implications and stereotypes? Is that something we can explain away just because that’s how society has continued to be? Or is this something that we should change for the better?

I’ll always argue for the latter obviously, but it is notable that to an extent, we don’t consciously understand or actively try to oppose these stereotypes. Not that we’re validating them either, where’s the line between complacency and ignorance? Maybe there isn’t one.

Want to be creative? Try disconnecting.

With my talk of social media and MOOCs, its pretty clear that I love the influence of the Internet. Even after listening to my grandmother’s woes about how ‘we’re always shoving some screen into our faces’ it’s difficult for me to think of how some things worked without the internet.

At the same time, the constant push to be online has caused a lot of problems. Whether its the dangers (and mass acts of cruelty) that come from internet anonymity or even the fear of missing out which seems to be a result of social media sites and the push to constantly be ‘on’ (but also off?) and show how exciting your life is. I try to be as mundane as possible, so the only purpose of social media is to post artsy pictures, vague statuses, and the occasional mention of my dog.

Side-note: If you tend to post a lot of pictures of dogs, feel free to connect with me on all social media sites. Double points if you have puppies.

But there’s another side effect of internet in my opinion – its saps creativity. It’s hard to have time to yourself to think and create when you’re constantly absorbing and shifting through a variety of information whether it’s articles, messages, or photos. While I think the quest for originality is highly overrated, it is important for people to be innovative. It’s a way to express yourself in a thoughtful and detailed way. And in some aspects, when you finally find yourself online again you’ll have something unique to contribute. 

There are plenty of small things you can do to go offline every now and then:

  • Take a walk every day: There are plenty of benefits from walking every now and then. It’s also a great way to reflect during the beginning or end of your day. My current dorm involves walking at least 4 blocks before I get on campus, and I really love the feeling of having time to think about my day before moving straight into work or school. In fact, I come up with most of my short story ideas while taking a walk.
  • Use a whiteboard/sketchpad/etc.: Sometimes you really just need to draw out what you’re thinking. Even absentminded drawing can be the start of something great.
  • Join a club or volunteer: Sometimes you need to clear your mind of your own self-reflection and think about the needs of other people. And I personally think volunteering is the most productive way of doing this, but joining a club and participating in a cause that you care about is another fantastic way to go about expending energy. And some get their creative energy through working around and with others, so that’s always a great option if you want to build creativity within the company of others.
  • Give up a day to chaos:  This one is simple – take a day, and day, and leave it completely up to chance. Instead of focusing on completing tasks and meeting deadlines, find a day that you can use to do whatever you what.

Instead of focusing on whether being online or offline is the better option – look into finding different ways to value the time equally. Focus on how you can maximize your time for growth, instead of pushing to be in one state of being or another.

What are your tips for building creativity?

4 Trends for U.S. College Students in 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

I hope you’re all as excited for 2014 as I am. I have a strong feeling that this will turn out to be an amazing year. And now that I’m in my last semester of college,  I’m excited to leave my college days behind.

At the same time, I’ve noticed a lot of interesting trends that may have a bigger impact in 2014 especially among the collegiate world. I won’t claim to be an expert in any of these, but here’s my opinion on some new developments for this year.

Finance/Business

Unsurprisingly, I think the days of the unemployed and confused millennial generation are far from over. And I think that above everything, this is going to cause an long-term sense of frugality and savings. Sine the U.S. is an economy that runs significantly on consumption its likely that this will cause long-term problems and heighten the level of concern that most are feeling. But this isn’t anything new – we’ve all been concerned about unemployment rates, spending, and the economy for a while.

What I think will be more surprising is that many college students will take the little money they have a learn how to invest. I think for now most students will invest in stocks with low interest rates, but many of my friends and acquaintances are slowly breaking into the investment world. I’m thrilled about this mainly because I think students are creating their own finances now instead of focusing on what’s been handed to them up until this point. Mashable has already gotten on this trend, and put out a finance guide for millennials.

Social Media

Jobs, jobs, jobs. As many of the people who started out with Facebook/Twitter/etc. move into adulthood, they’re using all of the skills they’ve gained over the years to serve them as well as possible. And what better job can you have then becoming a social media manager? BusinessWeek reports that social media will be one of the largest expanding fields next year, with a ton of positions opening in this field. Some notable titles are, PPC associate, SEO Specialist, Social Media Copywriter/Blogger, etc.

If you’re worried that these positions won’t be taken seriously or paid well, show them exactly how you can benefit the overall brand. I like to think of social media as the full-on marketing plans of the future. If a company wants to stay afloat, they have to bring clear, interesting content within a timely and easy to reach manner. And you can be a forefront of that team. Mind you, its a fast-paced business, so get ready to bring in some interesting hours.

Tech/Computers

As a result of the earlier mentioned frugality and cutting costs among college students, 2014 may be the year where the Apple corporation sees its largest dropoff. While the iPad still dominates everyone else in the tablet market, 2013 had a notable decrease in Apple computers – with an increase in Chromebooks over both Windows and Apple. I predict this will continue into 2014, and not just because students are suddenly tired of Apple.

I think it’ll be because of the education field. Chromebooks in particular are cheap, and many academic institutions are buying them up. My high school recently purchased Chromebooks for our entire campus (mind you, we’re very, very small) but many other institutions are doing the same. And I have a feeling that many college and high school students may stick with these computers for price and logistic reasons. Alternatively, Apple may eventually cut down its price to be more reasonable for lower-income students, but I suspect that will happen 5+ years from now.

Education

Why do something in person if you can digitize it?

This question has been asked of almost every industry, and now it has looped back around to academia. For a number of reasons, I hope that this doesn’t spread to elementary/secondary education, but I think this is a solid question to ask of higher education. As a college student, I respect and understand the value of higher education, but the model is ultimately flawed.  Many people will tell you that college isn’t the purpose of getting a job – but then what is the purpose? Why should anyone spend thousands of dollars for an experience? I think colleges will now have to reinvent their purposes and show exactly what kind of purpose they can bring.

And this will lead to MOOCs for many. Online education has been significant across all ages, but colleges don’t need to reinvent the wheel for these programs. While there has been resistance due to beliefs of the college experience and what that should entail, it’s important for many colleges to acknowledge that having a sense of inclusion can be a significant benefit and help them to get more students on average. I don’t think the traditional college will ever go away, but higher education needs to expand its viewpoint of teaching or else face lower enrollment and tuition crunches.

What trends are you looking forward to in 2014 and beyond?

2014 Inspiration: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person by Cracked

2014 Inspiration: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person by Cracked

Happy 2014 everyone!

While I’m not always a big fan of reblogging “self-help” articles, I truly think that this one is something that everyone should read. I read this post from David Wong last year, and it was primarily my main inspiration to write a blog in 2013. It’s full of biting knowledge, but I definitely think that we’ll all be better off for reading it.

Did I wear purple lipstick to a job interview?

Alternatively known as my reflections on 2013.

As your typical college student going through an existential crisis, I decided to reflect on how 2013 has gone for me. After listing out things, I’ve come to realize that 2013 was pretty rough. Lots of family and personal crises, and the first semester I was consumed by my fear of almost failing a class ( I didn’t, but that’s not the point. It’s the thought that matters). Also I still don’t have a job yet. Lame.

But, I absolutely loved 2013 and everything it brought to me. Because 2013 has been such as quintessential year of growth for me, that I feel so inspired from it. And that kind of made me re-think all of the career related lessons I’ve learned. And naturally, I want to share them all with you.

1. Never be afraid to take an unconventional path

This summer, I discovered that my grandfather had dementia. At the same time, my grandmother was going through cancer treatments. It hurt me unimaginably, and I ended up resigning from a paid internship in NY to care for him and help her. To compensate I took a virtual internship with a company that I didn’t necessarily feel connected to, and left that early due to the stress of dealing with family issues. It was incredibly stressful and chaotic, and I didn’t have any control over my life at the time. So I did what 95% of college students would do: I started a blog. I volunteered at my local library. I networked with some pretty interested and powerful contacts. I started learning Chinese vocab. I practiced coding HTML and Python on Codecademy.

And I had one of the most fulfilling summers of my life. I gained tons of skills, experience, and learned more about my personality and self. I learned that I actually kind of liked this whole programming thing. And that I love working with people more than I thought. These experiences helped me to become a more well-rounded person, and may even become influential as I fill out even more job applications.

2. Desperation is not the new black.

As mentioned in my earlier example, I’ve become a bit more comfortable with chaos. A lot more comfortable. Even though I’m not a big fan of it. Yet that level of chaos has helped me to become a lot more flexible with my attitude and opinions. And when conducting my job search, it’s helped me to be more open-ended and targeted. To elaborate, it’s allowed me to realize that my skills can transfer over to many fields, instead of pigeonholing myself while also realizing that I can’t apply to everything and hope that it sticks. I did that earlier in the semester, and surprisingly only heard back from one or two places (who would hire a financial analyst who looks miserable at the thought of working for their company? I wouldn’t).

Be segmented in your job search. Yes you can do many things, but do you want to? Allow for some chaos, but don’t rush to find just anything in the hopes that it’ll lead to a job.

3. At the same time, come up with a money making backup plan.

I wish following your dreams made money, but not always. One of my friends graduated the top of her class, but tried to find a decent writing position in NY. It took her a year, as she tirelessly interned until she found a paid position. At the same time, she could afford to stay with her family and work for no pay for over a year until she located a job. Many of us can’t. So if you’re in the latter category, figure out a backup plan for making a living until you get a substantial job. Mine is to work as a temp accountant. No joke.  Until I decide whether I want to go to grad school for econ or accounting, I have to make money at some point.

Don’t wait until the last minute for these decisions. Even if your plans are ‘become an entry-level barista at Starbucks’, good for you. Do what will further your long-term plans. I wish interning for free was an option for the masses, but until that happens, I recommend finding a decent wage and using the off hours for the job search.

4. You’ll make mistakes during your job search. Cry it out and move on.

This semester I went into an interview with a major company, walked out later on, and realized 5 hours later that one of my job descriptions had a typo. I knew that I hadn’t gotten the job anyway, but I spent three days mourning over my mistake. And it sucked. Because even though I wish I had done better, I didn’t. And sometimes you have to suck it up, prep for the next time and move on.

5. Networking is (can be) fun. Play to your strengths.

I’m a pretty introverted and shy person, so I’d rather write to a person over talk to them. But that’s not really how life works. It involves talking to a lot of people, and I’m sure we all have heard that networking is the only true way to get a job, 95% of jobs aren’t posted online, etc. I honestly have little clue whether these facts are 100% correct, but I do know that I have learned a lot from networking, and it really depends on how you approach it. I like to think of networking as writing a biography or industry profile: I’m writing a story about a person or industry, so I need to learn everything that they have to share. Approach people with a wide sense of interest and respect, and you’d be surprised on what you’ll find.

6. Take a break. Remind yourself why you are amazing.

I would’ve never gotten through the job search process if it wasn’t for my friends and family. Having people that I can sit back and talk to when things get crazy is an undeniable resource. I have to pull through for many reasons, but the strength of those I’ve surrounded myself with has helped immensely.

7. Gather all of the career-related materials you have. Learn. Study. Practice.

I’m currently reading Can I wear my nose ring to the interview? by Ellen Gordon Reeves,  Resume 101 by Quentin J. Schultze, many other career books, and perusing TIME Magazine, the Economist, and the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because there’s always room for improvement (though that may be a typical INFP thing. Not sure). It’s not that I think reading these materials will give me any incredible insight, but you never know what might come up in a job interview, networking session, or a chance meeting. When I eventually do get hired, I want to give my company my all.

Well that, and I just like reading.

What are your tips for job searching?

20 Life Lessons Learned from Playing Persona 4

English: Logo used for Atlus's Shin Megami Ten...

Buy It.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I’m finally at college. And I’m officially a senior now. It’s funny because you’d think it would be more bittersweet, but I’m actually pretty excited while also being completely ready to leave. But before I left, I was playing Persona 4 with my brother. It was a lot of fun, and surprisingly had a lot of stuff that related to college life for a game mostly centered on high school. So here are a few lessons from this awesome game:

  1. Sometimes the best things you’ve been looking for are at home.
  2. It sucks to be a loner, but best friends are everywhere. You just need to put yourself out there.
  3. Silence is always an option.
  4. Don’t run away from your destiny.
  5. Translating languages is hard (especially if it’s Japanese or Chinese)!
  6. If you don’t get the right answer, don’t be afraid to keep searching for the truth.
  7. If you’re dealing with the cops, lying is probably not your best option.
  8. There are multiple ways to fall in love, and with multiple people.
  9. It’s OK to have a few embarrassing hobbies. They add character and personality to your life.
  10. At times you will be jealous of your friends success. At times they will be jealous of yours. It happens. Deal with it, and support them in their efforts, and they’ll do the same.
  11. Sometimes you trust the wrong people.
  12. We’re all filled with insecurities. If we don’t acknowledge that, they’ll come out in the worst possible way.
  13. Don’t worry about all of those things you’ve heard before. Be open to changing your initial viewpoint.
  14. Stereotypes are real, and they’re pretty damaging.
  15. People will question your sexuality if you don’t fall into conventions. The best you can do is be strong within your own ideas.
  16. Trying to please everyone is exhausted. It’s OK to pick and choose.
  17. Listen to others. You’d be surprised what they have to say.
  18. Loosing a loved one to dementia is one of the most painful, heartbreaking things you can deal with. If that makes you upset and angry, that’s fine. You have to deal with these things on your own terms.
  19. You choose how you want to say goodbye.
  20. Accept endings. It’s great to have something that isn’t lasting forever.

Finding your life manifesto

Nature

Nature (Photo credit: wot nxt)

What do you believe in?

Shane Snow over at LinkedIn posted a piece on motivation/inspiration. I was really taken by the post, as sometimes I feel that we’re not motivated enough within our lives. At times, we might need a reminder. I know that I do.

Usually, I post a reminder for myself of my goals for every semester, and then get stressed every time I don’t hit one of the marks. But recently, I decided to do something else instead. I created a manifesto for myself. I realized that if nothing else, I need to take a stand a remind myself of what really matters. My manifesto is a bunch of pictures, quotes, and statements that I’ve created over time to reflect who I am as a person. Near the end of the summer, I’ll post a picture for those who are interested.

Some of you by now are probably thinking “Well that’s nice for you, but how will I find whatever is the best manifesto or way of proving myself for me?” Don’t worry, I’d never leave you guys in a lurch. So here’s a few tips to find your life manifesto:

हिन्दी: Nature

हिन्दी: Nature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Ask a friend, and then map yourself accordingly.

How do your friends see you? Ask either a friend or family member what they think of you as a person, and decide whether that’s the kind of person you want to be. Be sure to talk to someone your trust, as you want a person who will give you a blunt and honest picture of who they think you are.

2. Record or monitor your self for a day

Spend a few days observing yourself and the kind of things that you seem to enjoy on a daily basis. If you find that you spent most of your time teaching others, walking and taking in the beauty of nature, or even perusing blogs, that might *hint hint* relate to your passions. You can expand those ideas into larger ones later, but this is a great step to deciding who you want to do.

3. Use visualization techniques

I’m a big fan of meditation. I use it for studying, working out, and personal downtime. Take a few moments to really sit down and visualize who you are and what you like to do. Think about the future, past, and all of the achievements you’ve had up until this point. Use this time to map up a life plan.

4. Start on your manifesto collage

Find pictures, quotes, arts and crafts, books, and ideas that relate to you and your aspirations. Choose things that fill you with joy and excitement. Make sure whatever you use that it’s something that truly relates to you, your goals, and your journey as a human being.

That’s all I have for now, but I hope this gave you a head start on finding your life manifesto. Remember that it should change and grow as you evolve as a person, so don’t feel confined into one area. Feel free to post any of your manifestos in the comments!

Language Barriers

English: "Chinese grammar" in tradit...

English: “Chinese grammar” in traditional and simplified Chinese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To finish out my last year of college, I’ve decided to take on a new language. Namely, Chinese. I decided to do this for three reasons:

A) To see the shocked and confused faces from my friends and family

B) It may prove useful if I’m ever involved in foreign relations

C) The language itself has always fascinated me since I was little, and honestly it’s never too late to start trying.

For anyone else that’s hoping to a learn a new and potentially difficult language, here are a few tips:

1) Define your language goals

First off, why do you want to learn this language? Because it’ll help in your career? It’s fun? You plan to study abroad and meet your significant other there? Regardless, figure out what you want from the language. Let it motivate you. Besides my other reasons specified above, it was reading this TIME article on language and the brain:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2147707,00.html

And I began to think, “how amazing would it be if could fully converse and play around with a language instead of the minor knowledge I had accumulated in high school? Why not start now?” Additionally, what do you mean by learning a language? Understanding the complexities of Chinese grammar, or being able to hold a business conversation in formal, and fluent French? Start high, and then find out what steps you need to reach that goal.

2) Join groups

There are great sites where you can converse with language specialists over Skype, or find specific groups on http://www.meetup.com. If you’re still in college, go to the language lab or see if any special interest groups are on your campus. My college for example has houses called Living Learning Communities, some which are tailored to learning certain languages. Look for places that will cater to you needs, and you can decide on what you need to do.

3) The internet is magic

If you’re like me, you probably feel the need to be over prepared for everything you’re doing. So if you’re learning a language that you have little experience with, move onto another platform and look for sites that can help with language learning. A few that I found for Chinese are http://www.yellowbridge.com/ and http://www.chinese-tools.com/ which have been very helpful for me learning the basics of the Pinyin system. I’m still just learning how to combine initials, finals, and tones into syllables. It’s like middle and elementary school grammar classes all over again!

4) It’s not an easy journey

Part of the reason it took me so long to finally take on Chinese is because I knew that I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, and I really wanted to finish all of my major courses first. I thought it would be stressful and I am already WAY too friendly with stress. But learning how to think and communicate in a different language is something that I’ve always loved, and I’ve pushed it back for far too long. Even if the journey is hard, it’s ultimately worth it. For everyone else out there hoping to learn a language, I wish you all the best!

5 Habits of Highly Effective 20 Year Olds

Churchill College, October 2009

Churchill College, October 2009 (Photo credit: Caramdir)

I’ve already mentioned my love of Stephen Covey on this blog, and his most famous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I think it’s a great book, and while I didn’t agree with some of his personal philosophies, it’s definitely a book that everyone should read at least once. And because I’m at the ripe age of 20, I decided that maybe there are different measures that we all should be taking. This list is geared towards college students, but I’m sure plenty of people would be happy to give it a whirl.

1. Finances are more important than grades

I know, blasphemy. But once college is over, your GPA may be a foot in the door, but all of the important things (buying/renting a house, taking out loans, purchasing investments) depend on your credit score and your managing of personal finances. Many banks offer programs to help college students manage the brand new world (for some) of finances, and if not, see if your school offers any courses on it. Your bank won’t care about your 3.9 GPA, so start building a good credit score now.

2. It’s time to be something else than the drunkest girl (or guy) at the party

You, I, nearly every college student have had those moments. And if you haven’t, congrats! You have much more common sense then me. But regardless of your class year, you’ve probably figured out the drinking scene. Some will claim mastery level, I’m sure. Take those hours and try to find out someone more productive. I have confidence you can do it.

3. Decide on your (temporary) career path

If your major doesn’t lead to a direct career path or is in a field with slow growth, plan now on how you are going to get there. Interested in being a fashion journalist but can’t find job offers? Take a job at Starbucks/Target/IHOP and volunteer or intern at a newspaper company or fashion house. I know plenty of people who took multiple unpaid internships and didn’t have at least a part time job, and complained about finances. Well, duh. Customer service isn’t a glamorous lifestyle, but neither is making $0 per year.

4. Cut the drama

You’ve probably gone through the friendship fights, downward spirals, and disappointing events. Crying on people’s shoulders and causing chaos is fun for a while, but your potential employers probably won’t be so mirthful. There’s no need for constant drama. Take that energy and network instead.

5. Know that it’s OK not to have all of the answers

Kind of funny that I’m saying this given the title of the post, but you just turned twenty (or twenty-something). While I hate when people use the excuse of being young to ignore Kristen Stewart levels of scandal, you are young. It’s OK to panic sometimes. And you don’t have to have all or any of the answers right now. You just have to keep searching. Don’t let the unknown weigh you down. Embrace it.

Factors contributing to someone's credit score...

Factors contributing to someone’s credit score, for Credit score (United States). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)