Student life: Rewriting your notes…

So how do I study and stay on top of my busy schedule?

Most of the time, I don’t.

But what do I do when I try to study between working, commuting, and trying not to lose my shit?

I recopy my lecture notes. My handwriting is absolutely atrocious. So when I find the time, I sit down with a fresh notebook page and copy my notes down and make them readable. Then when I get time to study, I can review everything that the professor went over in lecture.

So how do I rewrite my notes to make sure all the viable content gets copied down?

First, I start with opening the lecture from the day and start writing the notes I copied down. Whenever I hit a snag from where my writing is indecipherable, I can reference the lecture slides and jog my memory.

So how do my reference notes and lecture notes differ?

In my refernce notes, I use different colors to help with memorization. For example…

  • Red is used for vocab words
  • Green is used to key concepts (either underlined or written in green ink)
  • Blue is used for chapter headings and to distinguish what will be on what test
  • Pink/purple (or another bright color) is used for chapter summaries and to summarize what will be on the test

Does this system really work? Maybe. I’ve heard many conflicting things on this way to study or that way to study. Honestly, this method helps me and that’s what counts. Maybe your method you develop involves making flashcards, or watching Crash Course videos or whatever.

There’s no right way to do anything and whatever works for you is what works.

Advertisements

Student life: failure in 200 words…

Everyone says failure is just a mistake.

An opportunity.

Failure is actually…

Disappointment.

Anger.

Losing.

Failure is knowing that you could’ve been better and not achieving anything.

Failure is looking at yourself in the mirror every day and wanting to fight yourself because you are the only reason you didn’t become something.

Failure is having more hurdles set up in your path and being forced to jump over them.

Failure is slipping down the mountain and having to start from the bottom every single day.

Failure is not an opportunity. Failure is not a mistake to right. Failure is not having to rethink your situation.

Failure is a slap in the face every single day. Failure is trying to get up every single day and the universe pushing you back down and kicking you in the teeth, daring you to get back up.

So you get back up every day. And ask for more. Because to lie there and take it, is to let your spirit die. Failure is the sidekick in your story who gets you into all sorts of trouble and laughs from the sidelines as you figure out the puzzles and monsters.

Failure is what it is.

What is failure to you? Let me know in the comments. Or let me know why I’m wrong.

Working retail: hitting your breaking point…

My breaking point at work has definitely been when I told my manager I had to back off my hours to focus on school and he bitched at me and tried to change my mind.

Now, I’ve talked about a lot of the bullshit I’ve been through at work, from being threatened by fellow associates, being hit on by coworkers and customers alike, being pushed to the point of working 12 hour days alone to meet unrealistic deadlines, but this… This is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I try my best to communicate with my managers about what may be happening in my personal life that can affect my work life. I try my best to work with my managers so they are not left high and dry during rushes and busy days. But this incident…

I will not allow someone to stand in the way of my future. I will not allow someone to look at me like I don’t do enough as is for my team and bitch at me about it.

To give you some perspective about this entire situation, I am not the only person going to school right now on my team. 2 other people are and honestly, I feel I work harder than them. One team member only works 4 days a week, and not even weekend days, just a regular Monday through Thursday schedule. The other teammate works 2-3 days a week and only 6 hours per day. And me? I work 5 days a week, especially weekend days and rack up about 38 hours a week.

But I get bitched at because I had to back down from 40 hours a week. I get bitched at because I’ve only been on the team for 3 months and have already been asked to be evening shift lead after the managers leave and I have to take the angry customers and angry calls. But I’m the one letting the entire store down.

So what am I going to do about it?

Honestly… I don’t know yet. I wish I could find another job, but I won’t be able to find anything where I can retain the hours and pay rate I need to stay in school and pay my bills.

So I’m stuck. And stuck griping on the internet because I need to work hard to live and everyone wants to bitch about it.

So thanks for coming to my bitchfest, leave a comment about how idiotic and ridiculous I am.

Student life: support systems…

Colleges go on and on about setting up a support system to help you succeed. But honestly… You can’t just force someone to be there for you.

I think that’s one of the major reasons I’ve done poorly in college. For the longest time, I had just my grandmother vocally supporting me. And it hurt. Shit, it hurt so bad. Because I thought that nobody was there for me.

I went through some of the toughest years of my life leading up to college and then when I got there and I thought I was going to do well, and I didn’t… I felt like a failure.

And now, I feel like I finally have some people in my corner. My grandmother is there as she has always been, and now my husband is in my corner too. And because now I have people I can vent to and talk to and teach about everything I learn, I’ve actually done so much better in school this semester.

So when your school starts saying that they have resources available, don’t be disheartened. Please don’t. Don’t worry that you don’t have anyone in your corner. Because if you don’t, I’ll still be in your corner.

I know how hard it is to be trying to learn some material or write a bullshit essay and feel like you have absolutely no clue what to do and no one you can turn to. I know what it’s like to hold onto the fact that you maybe didn’t do so well, but you can’t bring it up to anyone and mourn your failure.

I agree that support systems are important. I wish I had a support system in my younger days (not that I’m that old yet), but I just have to acknowledge that the idea that everyone can come into college and have a support system and all the necessities for succeeding.

You can’t force anyone to support you and you can’t always just have a support system available when you need it. And colleges don’t understand this. So kids are walking into this world with no one in their corner, confused and scared of failing, and completely unsure of who they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do. And then people wonder why kids fail out of college or just straight up quit and it’s because they had no one to help them through one of the hardest transitions from child to adult.

If you are a struggling college kid and feel completely lost and alone, hit me up and let me know. If nothing else I can be an open ear and listen, and at best I can maybe actually help in some way.

Student life: what to do when you’re overwhelmed…

Okay deep breath.

Take a minute.

Cry if you have to.

Or if you’re like me, you don’t feel like you have enough time to even have a breakdown.

So multitask your breakdown. Cry in your shower so your hair is clean and so is your slate.

But seriously, what do you do when you’re so overwhelmed by school you can’t think straight?

Procrastinate responsibly.

You’re thinking, wtf? I can feel it. But bear with me.

Don’t think about school. Just for a moment. Scrub at the mysterious stain on your counters for a solid 10 minutes then, when your arms are jelly, come back to your computer and grab a sticky note.

On each sticky note, write one task you know you have to do. Write the due date under the task. Make each date a different colored sticky note of you want.

Now on a flat surface, arrange your sticky notes in order to most recent due date to furthest out date.

Now take all the ones due most immediately. Arrange them from most to least important.

Now start on the first task.

If you don’t get everything done in one sitting, oh well. Call it a loss and move on to the next day.

Things will slip through the cracks. Work or a project or one little homework assignment. Push it to the back burner and cry when the semester is over.

Is this the best way to live your life? No. But it will get you through to the next day. There’s never going to be a time when you have it all down. And all those kids in your classes that brag about getting everything done and brag about their A’s, just remember that they are basically the NPCs in your life.

So just take a deep breath. That’s all I can tell you. Because there is no magic fix for your life. There is no advice I can offer you that will magically make it all better. I can’t tell you how many times I was in the middle of a breakdown, scouring Google for answers to pull me out of the hole I had dug myself into.

Maybe that’s how you ended up here; looking for answers just like me. Honestly, I wish someone would’ve told me years ago that there is no fix. There is no magic way to organize and be on top of everything. It’s all a lie what those other bloggers and your classmates tell you. There is no magic way to pull an all-nighter or to pull your grade from a D to a B in the last 4 weeks of the semester.

So take a breath. And quit pushing so hard. Clean something and come back to it all with a clear mind and a clear path. Don’t beat yourself up over missing an assignment or a shitty grade. Shit happens.

Student life: making ends meet…

How do I make ends meet as a full-time student?

I don’t more often than not.

I’ve tried those ‘get cash over the weekend’ suggestions and they honestly don’t work.

Don’t try to come to me about how you somehow managed to make ends meet working 3 jobs and a side gig and went to school full-time with clubs. I don’t want to hear it.

This is about people like me having to play by the rules, not people like that who can ignore the rules.

So what have I tried?

Blogging. You won’t make much, if anything, off that. Trust me. If I was making bank off this blog you would see a lot more bullshit ads and paid posts.

Those apps that promise you can win money don’t do shit. You will not make money off them. Treat them as a game and nothing more. I’ve tried about 5 different ones including…

  • Lucktastic
  • Lucky Day
  • Swagbucks (app and site)
  • S’mores (an app that pays you literally pennies a day to unlock your phone)
  • Playspot( one of those apps that asks you to download and play other apps and you can earn points to redeem for giftcards)

Out of all of these, after using them for months and months, I had one $25 payout from Swagbucks and one $5 payout from S’mores. Not worth it, especially when you have to devote so much time as is to even accrue points.

I tried Upwork, for freelancers. I was hired literally twice in an 8 month period. I earned about $70 after fees. This was after I would max put my potential apps for jobs and did my best to get to the top of their algorithms. This may work for you if you have a more in demand skill; I worked as a ghostwriter, so maybe programmers or translators or virtual assistants may make more or have a better chance at getting hired.

I did a couple work-study positions but honestly, it’s like trying to balance two jobs and school.

How do I make my ends meet?

  • Only buy generic
  • Only buy what I need
  • Don’t have fun
  • Don’t go out ever
  • Never take a break
  • Learn to be bored
  • Give up all hobbies
  • Give up all activities outside of your house
  • Learn to live without or make it stretch

It fucking sucks. It really does. There’s no easy way to make ends meet and everyone has some little advice or tip on the subject.

None of it really works and you’ll wear yourself out faster working 2 jobs or a job and a couple side gigs.

School can always be put on hold. And if they bitch at you about leaving, give them hell for not giving you the resources you need to succeed.

Student life: balance…

Being a college student is hard. Like really really hard. Harder than it was 10 years ago even.

Schools are becoming more and more competitive and more and more expenisve.

I can barely afford to keep a roof over my head and go to school.

So how I do I keep from drowning in the stress of keeping afloat?

Honestly… I don’t deal with it. Balance is an illusion. It’s a lie you tell your parents so they don’t worry about you at college. It’s a lie you tell your boss at work to keep the hours you need to eat. It’s a lie you tell yourself to make it day to day.

Balance is the lie your advisors and teachers will tell you to make you feel like shit. Because you’ll sit down at your desk and cry every night after work, for the only reason that you’re tired and overwhelmed and stressed and busy.

Your advisors will look at you and scoff if you come to them complaining about not being balanced and having too much on your plate. They will look you in the eye and tell you all the things you could do, but are actually unable to do.

Cut hours at work? Not a real option if you need to eat.

Drop a class or two? Not an option if you need to maintain a certain credit hour balance to keep financial aid.

Find a better job? When are you going to find time to do that between your already packed schedule?

Is there a solution? Fuck no there isn’t. Unless real resources are allocated to help you, like scholarships you actually qualify for or a raise at work, you’re stuck drowning under the pressure.

But I’m right there with you, so I understand. I understand what it’s like to have a 4 minute breakdown in your car in your driveway after getting home from work after taking an extra shift because you need the money to pay for a mechanical issue on the car you can’t afford to fix.

I understand what it’s like to sit in class and realize that you fucked up so badly on the test that you’re going to have to pull a miracle out of your ass to pass the class.

I understand what it’s like to be so alone and stressed and mad at yourself because hey, everyone else can do this, so why can’y you?

I understand. Honestly.

SO just remember that balance is an illusion and that asking for help will get you nowhere. Just take a deep breath every couple days, pull yourself through your breakdowns and remember that one day, you’ll be able to rub this bittersweet victory in everybody’s faces.

At least, that’s what gets me through my days.

Long time no see…

Sorry kiddos. I’ve been working like crazy and haven’t taken the right time to keep on top of the blog bs.

My summer semester started on Monday so I’ve running around crazy between commuting an hour each way for classes, working 40 hours a week still and having to manage some home issues (broken pipes and all that jazz).

So I’m going to work better at updating and making sure I don’t fall off the radar entirely. Like I have for the last month or so.

How to: make a relationship work through a full schedule…

I get this all the time when I tell people how full my schedule is with school and work. They all get this shocked little look and kind of stammer ‘wow, do you have any time for your boyfriend?’ And I want to slap them all each and every time they say some variation of that.

You want to know why?

Because my boyfriend is not a choice-maker in my life.

Even if he were my husband and all of our financial accounts were shared, he still wouldn’t be the decision maker. Because it is my life.

I understand these concerned people are more-so just because I do have a packed schedule and they’re trying to comprehend how I handle it all.

But how do I handle it? How do I handle being in school full-time, working full-time, studying full-time? By being a complete and udder dickhead.

I literally had to cancel every plan with my family over the summer. Seriously. In my family group chat last night, I had to tell everyone that I was too busy with school to come camping at all this summer.

I told my boyfriend that I’m going to have dedicated study hours and that I cannot break them. I also told him to figure out the 5 days he wants to see me all summer so I can use the only vacation days I have to see him for half the day instead of studying.

And when fall semester rolls around… I don’t know yet.

But managing a relationship inside or outside of school… That’s easy. Everyone makes it seem likes it’s hard, but so many couples (especially straight couples) forget about communication and commitment in a relationship. They forget that a relationship is a commitment you make ahead of time and that you have to make time and sacrifices for it, for those people.

So what are some tips I have to make a relationship last during hectic semesters?

  1. Have nights out with your SO every so often. Catch dinner and a movie and just talk. Not everything has to be about sex, not everything has to be about being a perfect couple. Just connect as friends would.
  2. Communicate as mush as you can what your school commitments are. Don’t blindside your SO when you have to cancel date night because a project group is running late. Communicate everything ahead of time, like what your week is going to look like and what your workload is going to look like. Let them know when your study hours are so they won’t be disturbing you during crunch time.
  3. Think of them as your break every week from studying. Maybe you facetime, or actually call each other, or it’s your date night once a week. But make time for them once a week as a reward for making it through another grueling week.

Does this always work? No, hell no. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over three years and doing work and school in between all that. We’ve fought and screamed and had our bad days. Just like anyone. But we’ve worked through them.

So is there any way to really make it all work perfectly? No, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Or trying to sell you something. Just TRY to make it work as good as you can. That’s all you can do.

Student life: why scholarships are a waste of time…

You’ve heard it time and time again as a student; apply for every scholarship you can. I’m hear to tell you why this is a waste of your time as a student.

Is free money a waste of time? No, of course not. But when you have to devote hours upon hours to jump through unreasonable hoops to get free money, then it’s not worth it at all.

I spent so much of my time filling out scholarships when I was a young little high schooler, hoping that somewhere I would get one, just one. Just one. I would’ve taken any of them, even one for just $100, which is just a drop in the bucket for college expenses.

But I didn’t get one.

Even though I applied religiously to one a day between sophomore and senior year, sending in essay after essay, I received nothing. Zilch. A Big Fat Goose egg. Not a damn one.

But with everyone in the world applying for every scholarship they can find, the market has become saturated. Of course I understand that not everyone can get one, but with all the time and effort that is necessary to apply, it should seem that somewhere along the line, you should at least somehow secure at least one measly scholarship.

But that’s not taking into account all the ways that scholarships are rigged against some. I’m all for giving people from certain backgrounds the step up they need to get to higher education and to have the same opportunities that other demographics have. But to assume that some kids have control over their parent’s careers (which you can get scholarships for) or that all kids fit into very specific fields (being a certain ethnicity AND LGBT+ AND studying for a business degree AND being apart of a certain club AND being an amputee from a freak car accident in 2003, for example, to qualify for a $300 scholarship).

Seriously, I’m not trying to demonize the groups that need help getting into college. I’m trying to demonize the people that control who gets money and aid to go to school; the major corporations making too much and not reinvesting properly into communities, colleges that are not distributing aid properly to students and are not allowing students to petition for aid if they truly need it, and the government for not providing enough aid to students and not properly calculating how much a family can truly afford to pay for school and refusing to provide real aid for students.

So I quit applying for scholarships after my senior year because after investing 3 years with no returns, I decided it would be easier to just spend my free time doing things I liked instead of stalking my email for a new scholarship opportunity or spending hours reviewing a 200-word essay about ‘What College Means to Me’, to submit for a $100 scholarship.

Am I saying you should quit applying? Maybe, but only if you feel like that’s the right decision for you. Maybe you can’t find any scholarships that fit you and your background. Maybe you already received enough aid through your school’s financial package. Maybe you’re like me and you’re done trying to check all the boxes and jump through the hoops.

And I hear some of you in the background; well, how do you know you even qualified for certain scholarships and you weren’t just being greedy with someone else’s money?

So I’ll tell you all the boxes I tick for common scholarships:

  • Bisexual
  • Woman
  • First-Generation College Student
  • Studying a STEM field

I could go on and on finding all sorts of things in rare fields that I qualify for, but that doesn’t mean anything in the end. Because somewhere along the lines, I’m never going to be good enough to qualify for all these damn scholarships. So I quit and I want to encourage some of you out there that scholarships are not the end all be all to go to school. I want to encourage all of you that shouldn’t get discouraged about getting a scholarship because the market is saturated, there are too high of bars to meet for a normal student, and there’s so much competition.

How to: Make it to the unavoidable 8am lecture…

We’ve all heard that advice for college: don’t take an 8am. But let me tell you something that no one else will; there will be a semester where that 8am is unavoidable. It’s going to be one of those classes offered only for spring semesters on even years that you absolutely need to finish your major and its only offered at 8am.

So how are you going to get to that class since you’re so used to getting up 10 in the morning? Here’s my tips for getting to that pesky unavoidable 8am.

First some prep work.

  1. Get used to getting up early. In that break between semesters or summer break, get used to getting up earlier. Start with getting up 15 minutes earlier each day until you’re up about an hour and half before 8. This will eventually give you enough time during the semester to get up, get breakfast, get ready, and get to class on time. It’s going to suck ass for the first few days but it’ll be worth it when the new semester comes and you’re not scrambling to get to class.
  2. Get used to doing something first thing in the morning. It’ll help you get used to going to an 8am. So if that means do some workouts or just going through emails first thing, just get out of bed and do something. Then when the new semester rolls around, your brain will be ready to go at 8am.
  3. Get used to coffee. I mean it. Get used to coffee if you’re not already drinking it. Why? Caffeine is what you need most to keep yourself up through those shitty mornings with 8am’s.

Now for game time. You’re used to getting up early now, you’re ready to go to class. So how to actually make it through the class itself.

  1. Get a travel mug, fill it with coffee, take it to class. Self-explanatory. Something hot will keep you up through a boring ass lecture. It’s hard to be completely awake at 8am and completely focused, even if you were looking forward to this class. So bring your coffee and be ready to learn. Or if you have time and money, just buy a coffee and take it to class.
  2. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t take notes on your computer. If you look at your phone even once during an early lecture, you’re going to lose focus on the class. Taking notes on your computer is going to tempt you to do something else. I have seem so many people in lectures just take a quick peak at Facebook or Messenger or their email and get sucked down a hole for 20 minutes.
  3. Treat this class like you’re spending $500 each class. Treat this class like it is make or break for your entire life. Act like your entire future is riding on this class. It will make you a bit more motivated to get to class and will reduce the desire to skip class for a few more minutes of sleep. Because once you break the habit of showing up, all the hard work you may have put in beforehand goes down the drain.
  4. Don’t fucking talk in class. I’m not talking about asking questions to the professor to clarify a point. I’m talking about ‘whispering’ to your buddy all through class about the party you guys are going to this weekend. Not only is it rude to the professor, it’s distracting to the people who can’t get away from you in a crowded lecture hall. Save it until after the damn lecture. Or if it’s a question about the material, pass a fucking note like in middle school, you heathens. There’s too much information going on in the class to try to pick out all the important stuff around what you and Lindsey are doing next week.

There’s going to be a day when you can’t avoid an 8am lecture. But take heart that it isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a dumb class you have to take for approximately 15 weeks then it’s over and done with.

Student life: How to study right…

Everyone will tell you the exact same thing when it comes to studying. It’s always the same rhetoric of do this and not that, or that and not this.

Now, I’m no straight-A student and I’m not here to give you some miracle study method to get straight-As. I’m just here to share what works for me while I work full-time and commute to school and go to school full-time.

  • Study each day you have class. Since I copy notes from class to make the legible (cursed with doctor handwriting), I first copy notes I took in class with the notes I took about the section. So, for example, if we’re going over chapter 24 tomorrow, then I’ll copy my in-class notes from chapter 23, then read through chapter 24 and take notes about that section, leaving room at the end for notes from the next class session. I also use this time to do any homework for that class, make flashcards, or work on any papers due.
  • Study in blocks. Pick a class and work through it until you’ve finished that work for the day. If that means working for 20 minutes on an essay then 3 hours on a science project, so be it. Get done what you can while you can.
  • Study on days you don’t have class. Even though there’s nothing you should absolutely be freaking about getting done, review flashcards, get ahead in the reading, work extra on the project due next week to finally be done with. Maybe this means editing and printing all your essays ahead of time so make sure you’re turning in your best work. While I’m all for taking a breather from the intensive course load of college, there’s no reason to let the day slip by when you can be getting ahead of all those yuppies in your intro to philosophy course you’re only taking for easy credit to boost your shitty GPA.
  • Teach about your shit. If you’re like me, then you live with someone. Teach them about the stuff your studying. It’s one of the highest recommended methods of learning and studying because if you’re able to effectively teach the material, then you know the material. If you live alone, then call your dad or your sister or your grandma and teach them. Even if they have no clue what you’re talking about, talking about a difficult subject can help you work through the problem. (And I’m sure they’ll just be happy to be included in your life even if grandma bashes evolution and your mom has no clue what business statistics has to do with anything. They’ll be glad you called and that you’re studying hard).
  • Use your free time. If you commute like me, then download some podcasts or listen to Youtube channels while you drive. I usually have about an hour to kill on my way to school. So if I fill my time with podcasts, lectures, and Crash Course videos, then at least I might get something to stick in this brain of mine. Is it boring af? Hell yeah it is. Would I rather be singing fun songs and pumping myself up for the day? Fuck yeah I would. But if it means that I can look preppy, bitchy Stacy who thinks she’s better than me in the eye at study group and learn her a thing or two about evolutionary biology and environmental factors that play a key role in symbiotic relationships between predator animals in several documented cases, then damn straight I’m going to show her up. (We all knew I was bitter already so stfu)
  • Watch your learning. Sometimes you get home and you are so unmotivated to study because you worked all day and you went to the stupid lab tonight and now you’re just tired and mentally exhausted. So turn your background noise into learning. Instead of turning on your fave reality TV marathon, see if NatGeo is having some interesting documentary marathon going on, or if you have a smart TV, turn on Youtube and find a channel or two that shows a bunch of the concepts you’re going over, like Crash Course or Khan Academy. Even if you don’t really try to retain any of the information, the general vibe of learning attached to these programs will motivate you to at least pick up your books for half a minute.
  • Study only what you need to. You’re not going to sit there and study the alphabet or your multiplication tables right? Why not? Because you ALREADY KNOW THAT SHIT. So don’t waste time by studying everything you already know. So how do you find out what you don’t know? Take a sample test, or work through a homework module. Every time you stop and think too hard about a question, put down that subject on a list to study. Or if it’s something you think you answered right but did not at all, then add that to the list. Then pull up youtube videos or crack open the text book or just google in general to see where you’re missing the idea or why you’re confused about the concept in the first place. And don’t forget that your professors and the TA’s are there to help and just an email away. (seriously if you can’t do office hours because of scheduling conflicts or whatnot, then shoot them an email and see if they have time to help via email during office hours)

I’m not going to guarantee that these tips will nail you an A. But when you’re spread thin across work and school, I’ve learned that doing a little is better than doing than nothing at all. Maybe this will help you, maybe it won’t. But don’t think that there is any one right way of doing things, even with all the studies out there about the proper ways to study (studies are misproved and expanded on all the time, so something that may have been proven in 2007 may be irrelevant by now). Just don’t beat yourself up when you get overwhelmed by the tons of shit your professors pile onto you. There’s a phrase, ‘you can’t eat an elephant in one bite’, or something like that. It just means that taking baby steps will get you further than rushing headfirst into disaster.

How To: Get your brain moving…

We all know what it feels like when you’ve lazed about on the couch for few days and your body feels like shit so you start doing stuff like exercise again. But what about when your brain starts feeling mushy and gross and uncoordinated? What about after you feel brain-dead after finals and have to get back into the right mental space for the next semester? What about after you finish a big project and your brain just wants to sleep?

However amazing these tricks may be, I’m not talking about clinical depression which can present some of the same symptoms of being ‘brain-dead’, so please take with a grain of salt if you do have depression.

Here are some tips that help me get my brain going again after a rough night or long break from school.

Step 1: Make some tea or coffee. Make whichever you don’t usually have, to switch it up. Once you have your cup of hot liquids, take a deep breath and just sit with your cup for a few minutes, 2-5 tops. Let your brain just relax for minute, don’t think about what comes next or what you have to get done. This is your break time, so take a real break.

Step 2a: If you’re still at work, make a list of every task you have to get done for the day. Include anything that takes over 5 minutes. Now, the list is not something you have to complete by the end of the day; it is something to get you focused for the rest of the day while your brain feels mushy.

Step 2b: When you get a period of extended free time, like after work or before bed, take a long bath (or shower if you don’t have a bathtub). Take the extra time for a face mask or exfoliating or whatever (no shame in face-masks if you’re a guy; every needs to take care of their skin properly). This is the time you use to be ‘brain-dead’. Most tasks in the bathroom should be pretty mindless by now, like brushing your teeth or hair. So let your mind have a little rest now that you don’t have any real pressing matters (we’re going to ignore our priorities for a bit right now).

Step 3: Now your brain has had a little break, get those juices flowing again. Jot in a journal or fantasize about an exotic trip you want to take some day. Get creative. Let your mind wander to all sorts of crazy things. You’ve probably quit imagining since you were high school. So let your mental legs stretch and think about something amazing or wild. Write or draw or color in a coloring book. Even if it’s super shitty.

Step 4: If your brain still feels a bit mushy and not quite refreshed, then make a list of everything you want to learn; a new language, or a new craft, or maybe you want to learn how something works, or maybe a new trade like electrical work or carpentry. Once you have your list, start working through it. Give all these things a chance and get excited about learning again.

Your brain is starving for something new and interesting and it wants to learn. You know that whole ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ thing is total shit, right? Get into something new and learn more. Even if it doesn’t pan out, or it doesn’t click. Have you always wanted to try baking wedding cakes? Take a class. Even if it doesn’t work out, your brain will feel better because you tried something new and you tried to learn something new.

Student Life: Planning your next semester…

This is simultaneously my most favorite and most hated part of a semester.

While it’s great to see the progress you’ve made towards graduating, it is also the most stressful part that you have to complete in a short window of time.

I hate that it comes during the middle of the semester, right when you have 20 other priorities to take care of, but if you don’t plan right then, then you end up registering for classes you don’t need or have at shitty times in the day. And sometimes you have to have advising codes from your adviser, so now you have to plan a meeting with your precious open time to trek across campus to have a 20 minute meeting with an adviser who sees you as a name on a paper (not to harsh on them, but if you’re like me, you don’t have time to go to a meeting every week with an adviser instead of studying or going to office hours or going to study groups or working so there’s no way to get to know each other)

So how do I plan my semester when I have a shit ton on my plate?

I plan in advance.

I set up a spreadsheet before the semester starts and spend a day planning out my course loads. My school has several references to check for being on track for graduation, what typical course loads for majors should look like, and graduation requirements for each major or program. If these materials aren’t easily accessible through your program’s website or the Register’s office website, then email your adviser. They’ll be more than happy to send you the materials.

Now that you have everything in front of you, break down your course load for the next semesters. My college provides a general breakdown of how each semester per year should look, e.i. what course a freshman should be taking for their first semester or what courses an on-track senior should be taking their last semester. If this isn’t available to you, you should still be able to access a required course list and the register’s office to see the pre-reqs and availability of the course.

From here, I work out the expected course load for the next semesters (however many you have left). Take into account courses you can take earlier than expected (from good placement exams or concurrent enrollment, or AP exams that gave college credit) or classes you’ll have to put off until after you finish the pre-reqs.

Now that you have the plan, put this aside until you need to start prepping for registering for the next semester. From the list of classes you think you need to take for the next semester, see what are available for registering or what has time conflicts with a required class.

It’s a bit of an involved process to set up the plan, but it’s worth it when you get to the middle of the semester and you need to register for the next semester because everything is ready to go. The list is there and ready for you to reference when needed. It also really helps when you go into your advising meetings because you know exactly what you need to do on your end to achieve your goals.

But once you have the plan in place, it makes it so much easier to work harder knowing that you’re not going to have spend 3+ hours flipping back and forth between 6 different tabs to try to register for classes, especially when you should really be studying for midterms.

This is also a good time to take into account all the things you sucked at this semester and plan ahead for the next. So maybe that way of note taking didn’t work out for you, or maybe you spent too much time procrastinating on flash cards than on reading the material. So work harder for next semester; research note-taking strategies, look into apps that disable your phone for study time, get better pens. Find what’s going to make you better in the long-run.

My Spend Less Challenge…

You see these damn things all over the internet. Those 2-week or 30 day challenges to help cut back on spending. And I’ll admit, some do work. I’ve tried them. But some also don’t take into account what it’s like living paycheck to paycheck and barely making enough to make ends meet.

So here’s my Spend Less Challenge for people like me, who try really hard to keep track of your money but somewhere between a little pick-me-up cookie at lunch and extra gas after running your mom to the airport, you seem to be short right before every payday.

This is a 30 day challenge to get the ball rolling, but really you can keep it going however long you see fit. Start at the first of the month or right before payday for the best effects.

Prep steps:

  1. Get an empty coffee can (i got tons, of course) or an old piggy bank or a jar or a cup. Any kind of receptacle that can hold all the junk you’re going to now take out of your wallet. You heard me. Into this receptacle, put all the loose change and credit cards that you have in your wallet. You can keep any bills and you debit card (or one if you have multiple).
  2. Take stock of what you have in your kitchen pantry and fridge. Then make a list of staple items you need (rice, cooking stock, milk, etc.). Now make a meal plan for the next two weeks. Put the ingredients onto the list. Now shop and DO NOT STRAY FROM THE LIST PERIOD.
  3. Pay all applicable bills now while you have money. The credit card bills, the utilities, rent, car payment. Anything that will allow you to pay early, pay while you have money.

Now comes the fun parts. You are prepped and ready. Here are the rules you have to follow throughout the month.

Rules:

  1. Credit cards are to remain in the jar unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  2. You can only eat out lunch once a week. You can only eat out dinner once a week. Pick wisely. (this means you have to pack your lunches)
  3. Take out $20 a week from your bank as your allowance. This is the only money you can spend on fun things (a smoothie to treat yourself, a neat little figurine for your desk, etc.) FOR THE WEEK. When it is gone, it is gone. Whatever happens to be left over at the end of the week, put into the jar of change.
  4. The cash in the jar can only be used in life-threatening emergencies, unless the end of the month has come. At the end of the month, you must take the jar to the bank and split it 60/40: 60% into savings, 40% into checking.
  5. The debit card can be used but not for anything fun. E.i. if you know that you filled up your car on payday but will need to fill up again before the next payday, then the debit card can be used. The debit card cannot be used to buy that neat video game you’ve been waiting to come out for 6 months, that happens to come out between paydays.
  6. Grocery shop as close to payday as possible. Make a list, meal plan for the next pay period, do not abandon the list. While making dinner each night, use some of the downtime (like waiting for water to boil) to start packing your lunch for the next day. Throw in everything that doesn’t have to be refrigerated if your fridge is packed or fully pack it so it’s ready to grab and go in the morning.

At the end of the month, compare how your bank account looks now instead of previous months. It may not look like much at the moment, but if you continue to do this, then you’ll start to see where all your money went in little onesie-twosie purchases.

When I see that I have more money than usual I try to make extra payments to my student loans or credit cards to keep that snowball running. Maybe you want to put that extra money into savings. Maybe you want to use that extra money to take your mom out to dinner because you’ve been a shitty kid lately.

This is the hard shit that people don’t talk about anymore. We accept it with careless shrugs and ‘what can you do’ smile. But that’s how They keep you in line and under thumb (you know Them, the government, the insurance agencies, the credit card companies, the banks, the corporations,the people controlling your money and how you spend it). So if you’re even half as much of a bitter hag as me, then let’s make all their lives harder by spending less and living less so they can’t tell us how to live.

A life half-lived is still better than a life wasted under someone else’s control. Control your money and you control your world.

Student life: Surviving on coffee…

I know how midterms and finals week can be. Your anxiety is up, your sleep is down and the only thing keeping you going is your third pot of coffee and adrenaline from the stress.

So how do you keep your caffeine high going? Or how do you come down from the caffeine when you’re done for the night?

To keep your caffeine buzz going strong there’s going to be two things you need to keep in mind.  More coffee and alternative fuel. As in, food. If you have something to cushion the coffee or energy drink, then it will last longer and you won’t have to worry about a caffeine crash or a blood sugar crash, which will make you feel just as tired.

So pad your coffee intake with some of these delicious snacks that go well with coffee:

  • Some trail mix
  • Some nuts (my favorite ;))
  • Some toast or a plain bagel with a hazelnut spread (you know the kind I’m talking about)
  • Some plain ass toast (or bread if you don’t have a toaster handy)
  • Or smear some peanut butter or jelly on that toast for something a little more filling
  • Some peanut M&Ms (also another fave)
  • Basically anything starchy and/or chocalatey

Just get something in your belly to keep you actually energized with real calories.

But what about when you finish your study craze and need to settle in for the night?

It’s a process but it’ll work if you give it the time.

  1. Start drinking water between cups of coffee to keep your belly full and dilute how much coffee you have in your system.
  2. If you have enough foresight, switch to decaf an hour or so before you have to go to sleep.
  3. Once you finish your task or assignment, take a hot shower or go through your night time routine.
  4. Once you finish up, you should start to feel the tiredness creeping back. So crawl under your covers and relax. If you have trouble falling asleep, I have a little trick; count backwards from 99. It may not work for you, but when I do it, I find it helps to make my mind relax and not wander off to what if’s, which can really help if you really need get to sleep fast.

So what should you do when you have too much caffeine and start feeling weird and jittery?

  1. Start drinking water. Literally anything other than caffeine. Now, don’t down 4 gallons of water expecting a quick fix. You have to let your organs do their jobs and filter the caffeine out.
  2. Eat some food. You need real calories in your system to help combat the caffeine crash. So grab some lunch or breakfast or whatever.
  3. Do some stretches and shake out your arms and legs. Put that useless energy to work for you. Don’t go overboard and go to the gym to pound weights and #legday. Just get some of that energy out a little bit to help feel less jittery and anxious.
  4. Don’t panic. Caffeine can heighten your anxiety levels, which around finals week is shooting through the roof. Stay calm and focus on something easy, like an essay you were already half-finished with or an extra credit study guide. If you’ve eaten, drank some water and taken a short break, you shouldn’t be panicking yet.

 

I know midterms and finals are hard. I know staying up late and trying to get to class on time during this week is hard af. But please be careful drinking copious amounts of caffeine, especially if you are a freshmen out on your own for the first time and have no clue how a bunch of caffeine effects you.

And a little ending note; if at anytime you feel completely horrible while you cram with your caffeine buddy and these tricks aren’t helping to cut the edge, don’t be afraid to contact a health official or a doctor. Caffeine overdose can happen and the best way to keep studying is NOT DYING.

 

How to: Vodka Gummy Bears…

So here’s how to make my personal favorite drinking snack.

It’s really easy, but does take some set up time.

So all you need:

  • A quart-sized mason jar or a reusable food storage container (any size will really do)
  • big bag of gummy bears (whichever brand you prefer, I always get the biggest bag possible for multiple batches)
  • a big bottle of regular vodka (whichever brand you prefer, I always just get the cheapest, biggest bottle I can find)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 12 hours

Step 1: Fill container 2/3 with gummy bears

Step 2: Pour vodka over gummy bears until just covered

Step 3: Put lid on container and put in fridge overnight

 

This is the best make-ahead party treat (for adults, duh) and it stays in the fridge pretty well until you want/need them. I usually just keep a jar in the fridge for a fun little something on Friday nights to treat myself for getting through the week. Because nothing says happiness like gummy bears and alcohol.

Student life: the exception…

I want to touch back on the First World Problem I mentioned in a previous blog post.

Because this is a real issue and I know there are kids like me out there struggling to come to terms with it.

For my first time readers, the First World Problem is that you live in an area where you are lucky enough to go to school, but getting into college is it own struggle like not qualifying for financial aid or scholarships because of your background as a well-off middle class kid.

So I just wanted to take a second and tell those kids that you’re not alone. And to offer some advice you won’t find anywhere else because no one wants to get down into the dirt with you.

  1. No one in your circle is going to understand your situation. No one. Your parents won’t understand that your entire financial situation is based off of them. Your friends won’t understand because they have their own issues and lives to deal with and they aren’t emotionally capable to deal with your issues right now. And forget about advisers and counselors and mentors at college understanding. They may say they get it, but this is definitely something outside their capacity to deal with, because they have other students and their own lives to deal with. So make your piece with the fact that this is a long, hard road you’re on and that it is a lonely one as well.
  2. There is no way to get through this without sacrificing everything important. Seriously, you will have to cut ties with certain people and go without your favorite coffee creamer and those awesome family vacations with your folks. Because you’re going to be working your ass off in school and at work to make ends meet. Get used to sleeping on Saturday nights instead of partying and people giving you weird looks for getting stuck at work instead of hanging out with them. And whatever they say, all that ‘you can miss one day, you can miss one class’ BS, don’t fall for it. You can’t gain your footing back when you fall behind.
  3. I know you are horribly frustrated. Trust me, I know. No one can give you the answers for this problem. Well, except finding a sugar daddy to pay for all your shit. But that is a very rare occurrence. So keep your head down, your nose to the grindstone, burn the candle at both ends, yadda yadda yadda. But that’s not gonig to work either. Trust me. I know from being there. So what do I suggest? Half-ass everything you can and save your energy for the shit you have to whole-ass like projects and tests. Don’t spend yourself on the menial shit.
  4. Take a break from life if you have to. This is the only rule I follow about my life; my personal self comes first. If that means skipping studying to actually eat a real meal, then so be it. If it’s between a shower and an extra hour of sleep instead of a few hours of overtime, I’m going to pick my bed before anything else. Everyone will try to tell you to keep working hard and just get up earlier and work harder, but for the love of all that is good in this world, do not neglect yourself just to get an A. If you have to redo the semester, so be it. If you have to retake a course 5 times because you absolutely hate it, so be it. Don’t sacrifice yourself just to prove a point. Trust me, I’ve been there.
  5. You’re frustrated. You’re exhausted. You’re pointlessly wondering about where to go from here. I know. So what do you need to do to quit feeling like this? I have some bad news, friend. Get comfy with this feeling cause it’s your reality for however long it takes to get your degree. Shitty, right? But don’t worry. The process is so long and convoluted to get through school while working full time that by the time you get to the end of the road, you’re to be so exhausted and burned out that you’ll have to be carried across the stage to get your hard-earned diploma. And then you’ll spend the next 50 years working just as hard to pay off your loans and buy a house and then die. Fun, right? So do what I do every time I pointlessly search the internet for some magic solution; make a plan, make a back-up plan, then get to work. Which is the last thing you want to do, but plan your plan out so far that every day has a plan. Every year has a plan. Then even if something goes wrong, if something falls through, or you still feel directionless and exhausted, you have the road map right there to tell you if you’re going the right way, if you’re doing the right thing.

 

Is this all super shitty advice? You bet your ass it is. But it’s the only thing I’ve been able to come up with considering that I’m the only I know dealing with this shit.

Let me know if this works for you, or if I just pissed you off more.

Fashion: My favorite accessories…

This post has some affiliate links listed below, so if you decide to click on the links and buy that item, I get a little money as well, at no extra cost to you. 

I live a very busy life. Like, super busy all the time.

So I figured I would make a list of all the tings I carry with me day to day.

    1. Lip balm
    2. Wallet
    3. Phone (duh)
    4. Lighter Here’s one that I carry cause it’s cool af  Zippo Dragon Tattoo Lighter
    5. Butterfly knife (now fair warning, this is legal to have in my area but maybe not yours, check local laws first friends)
    6. Journal Here’s one I LOVE and the journal inserts I use  Refillable Leather Journal and Set of 6 Travel Journal Inserts
    7. Pack of smokes
    8. Lipstick (right now I’m using Mally Beauty Lip Crayon in Chic Cherry)
    9. Mascara ( get some Elf brand from your local store, it’s cheap and better damn good)
    10. Pens

Now, most of this stuff I do carry in a bag, but it’s never a huge bag. I love backpacks or messenger bags because they’re a bit more manageable and lasting than normal shoulder bags in my experience. Below are some of the bags I use or would definitely get in the future. (these are picture affiliate links, so if you click on the picture it will take you to the page where you can buy the item if interested. See my affiliate link disclosure at the top of the post)

 


Student life: Why I hate common college tips…

I absolutely hate all the advice floating around about college courses. I HATE it. And it’s not because it’s bad advice, it’s because it’s one-perspective advice. It’s all the tips and tricks that particular student found works for them.

So I’m going to go over all the dumb little tips I’ve found to be impossible for me.

  1. Don’t take any classes before 9 am or Don’t take any 8 am classes. This is the most bullshit advice I’ve ever heard. I know when you first get into college you overbook yourself. It’s just what happens. But it is sometimes impossible to avoid taking an 8 am class. At my school in particular, many required courses for my major are only available at 8 or 9, which means that to graduate I gotta drag my ass to class. College isn’t about living the Dream™, it’s about putting in the work to get a future and be more comfortable later in life.
  2. Find a club. I hate this advice because there is no way some of us can be committed to a full course load and a club, especially if you have a job you HAVE to work to afford eating and sleeping with a roof over your head. Not to mention the people who only want to focus on getting through their courses or can’t devote any other personal energy to a club. If you really think a club is going to help you get into some grad school or to get some job after you graduate, then maybe you should also keep your options open about what you want to do after college. I have gotten many jobs without the help of some club and I’m going to get into grad school without a club on my academic resume either, because I’m going to work hard at the other aspects of my life.
  3. Don’t forget to exercise and take care of yourself uwu I hate this advice because it only works for some people. There’s no reason to look at your already packed schedule and try to fit in an hour of intramural sports or 30 minutes at the rec center. If your campus is like mine, then you can bike or walk to class every day, which is just as healthy as hitting the gym every day because you get fresh air, sunshine (on sunny days of course) and some moderate exercise. But there’s no reason to kill yourself trying to keep up with everyone else who’s schedule allows for them to hit the gym or the rec every day.
  4. Focus on school, hustle, hustle, hustle Gods, I hate hustle culture. I hate that fact that people act like if you just work hard enough all your dreams will come true. Let me sit you down and give you some real life advice; You’re NUMBER ONE PRIORITY IS YOU. For me that means I will sacrifice everything except the basic needs. I will not lose sleep or skip meals. All those dumb graphics and dumb rhetoric about ‘stay up late and get up early to achieve your dreams’ is absolute bullshit. You can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor if you’re sitting in a hospital bed with malnutrition and exhaustion. So don’t skip work, dinner, or bed, because you have to make sure you are taken care of before you start trying to make your life better.

As much as good advice is out there, there’s tons more than you can’t even use 9 times out of 10 because it just doesn’t apply to your situation.