Choices

Is anybody else ever saddened by the fact that by the choices you make and opportunities you take, you’re by default losing out on other choices and opportunities? That it’s impossible to live in or even visit all the countries that exist, meet people from every cultural group (some countries having a very large number of subcultures), learn all the world’s languages, work all the types of jobs you want to try out, take all the courses you want to take, obtain an in-depth knowledge of all the topics that interest you, have all the experiences you want? To me, this realization is crushing.

Working from Home

Has anyone else decided they’re basically refusing to return to an office to do work that can easily be done at home? I currently work at home due to Covid, but they’re talking about bringing us back into the site this summer. We have all successfully been working at home since March/April 2020, and it’s patently obvious now that a job site is not needed for this type of work. I have recently been applying to only permanently-remote positions. I really hope that one positive thing to come out of Covid is employers feeling intense pressure to offer remote jobs in situations where the kind of work done can easily be done remotely. There are so many perks to working from home, and I must say I feel it’s spiteful to require us to return to the site just because it’s traditionally been done that way, especially when the higher-ups making these decisions probably get to do most of their work from home, anyway. I’ve also noticed that the people saying they want to return talk about being lonely and wanting the opportunity to socialize. I feel like they should be the only ones who return, not those of us who are thriving and doing a good job working from home and do not see our jobs as necessary to meet our socialization and emotional needs.

What Do You Like About Yourself?

I find it easy to dwell on the things I don’t like about myself. However, when I consider my qualities and the things I believe I do well, I find several positive things to say about myself. For example, I am passionate, I’m a good writer, I love to learn, I’m a critical thinker, I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, I’m hardworking, I’m loyal, I’m creative, I’m organized, I help others, and I never give up.

What are some traits about yourselves that you admire?

My Recent Job-Searching Experiences/Thoughts

Recently, during a job search, I’ve learned some things. Here is one: Don’t over-talk during an interview. Although classic advice is to open up and really let the interviewer get to know you, as well as letting them see how interested you are in the position, I feel that I over-talked myself out of a couple different jobs. In one instance, I revealed the training for my current job was two months long. I figured this info would help them realize that I can handle a job that requires that much preparation and knowledge. However, I had a bad feeling when the interviewer responded with, “Well, the training for this job is only two weeks, and we need you to be independent and taking calls soon.” Another instance, when asked what type of assistance and support I get at my current job, I said that we have a help line and a Microsoft Teams chat, as well as articles we can look up and read that are relevant to the types of calls we handle. Again, I had a bad feeling when she responded, “Well, I just want to be honest about this role. We don’t have a chat where you can ask questions or a support line you can call.” In both cases, I knew I wouldn’t be offered the position, after all, and I was right. What I have taken from these experiences is not to share too much. Similar to being interrogated by the police (and doesn’t it often feel identical?), answer questions simply and think before everything that you say, because interviewers are looking for reasons not to hire you. Before they grant you an interview, they look over your application and resume to see what reasons there are for hiring you. The interview is a tool of elimination. Employers these days have more applicants than they can handle, especially if their jobs are posted on a large site such as Indeed or LinkedIn. I have blown interviews by rambling. And even the most innocuous remarks or information can and most likely will be used against you by a potential employer (again, similar to the police). I tend to ramble when I’m nervous, to fill the silence with speech. I had another interview this morning, and I fought the desire to blab and tried to keep myself in check. We’ll see.

I did something for the first time ever before. I called an interviewer back after not getting a job to see what I had done wrong or why I was not a fit. Although at the time, I felt courageous for doing so, I now feel I actually did so out of an inherent insecurity I have about myself. If I submit an application/resume and do not get an interview, I typically take it as par for the course. I tell myself a human being might not have even looked at it before it was discarded. I tell myself my experience and qualifications simply must not have been a good fit. It feels impersonal and perfunctory. However, when I am granted an interview and still do not get the job, I am crushed. Gutted. Despairing. For me, the difference is that an interview (whether in person, over web cam, or over the phone), is much more personal. For the first time, the interviewer gets to hear me, in real time. A person-to-person connection is made. So when I am denied the job after having interviewed for it, I feel it is me being rejected. It definitely feels personal. am definitely better in writing. I don’t ramble or stutter or epitomize the word “awkward.” I don’t get nervous or feel “put on the spot.”

I am also not great at playing mind games, which is what much of the interviewing process consists of nowadays. For instance, do I admit to already having a degree? Ironically, in some cases, having one can hurt your chances of being hired. How eager should I appear about a position? Too eager will be interpreted as desperate by a potential employer. Acting too chill will be interpreted as a lack of interest. It seems every interview, no matter how closely my skills and experience lines up with the job’s requirements, no matter how much research I do on the position and the company beforehand, is akin to walking a tightrope or taking an exam I haven’t studied for. But sometimes I feel like interviewers actually want you to B.S. your way through an interview, as long as you do it convincingly, because that shows you’re willing to do what you have to do, even if it’s unethical, to get what you want? Because maybe they see that skill as useful in an employee? Hmmmm…

Also, while on the topic of jobs and employers, there really should be a database to house employer references. I have had multiple issues with past employers either forgetting about me or not being reachable, especially from jobs I held several years ago. Considering employment references are such an entrenched part of the job application process, that it’s nearly impossible to get a job without providing them, and that past employers often forget, move, change their contact info, pass away, etc., there should be an online database for employers to upload a reference for you at the end of your employment with them. That way, potential employers could access this database and learn about how you have done in previous positions without you having to hunt down your past references and wait for them to be available.

I have many more thoughts on this topic, and I hope I haven’t been too rambly in this post. Please let me know what you think and if you have anything to add. Probably more on this topic later.

*Update:*

Here is the response I received back from the interviewer about a recent job I was not hired for: “I very much enjoyed talking to you, and you definitely have relevant experience, but I decided to not to recommend an offer at this time based on a few factors. I did not walk away from our conversation feeling as though you were particularly passionate or excited about this specific opportunity or [redacted] as a company. When asked why this role, you answered that you were looking for a new opportunity and were interested in more pay. Although these are appropriate responses, they left me feeling as though you might be looking for a job and not a career. I also had asked for specific examples to my questions, and I felt you missed the mark on doing that in some cases, specifically with the significant change at work question and team project question.” I find this info very valuable, as most people will not go into why you didn’t get the job, and I’ve come away with a couple of bits of insight here. First, I should have talked up the company. I should have done more research to possibly find something unique about the company I could have cited as a reason for my interest. I could have talked about my interest in the field (although in actuality I really don’t have any special interest in this specific field). I could have made up an example for the “team project” question, even though my current position does not entail any group projects (as I noted during the interview). Perhaps I could have used the fact that we have team meetings where we sometimes exchange feedback and tips with each other. I could have elaborated more on what it was like changing from working at the site to working from home during Covid. I think I need to be more creative with the truth in my interviews so I can answer the interviewers’ questions more precisely. Otherwise, I might come off as a bad fit or even evasive. It will never not be odd to me, though, that interviewers would often rather you make up a story (commonly referred to as LYING) rather than telling them the truth. I am really appreciative, though, that she took the time and effort to go out of her way and let me know why I was no longer under consideration for the role. 99% of companies won’t do that nowadays, and I consider the information invaluable and will apply it in future interviews.

Are Your Goals Your Own?

I’m realizing how easy it is to delude yourself into believing that your goals are your own. Most goals come down to one thing — pleasing others, fitting in, checking off boxes. Do your goals excite you? Are they in line with who you are? Do they honor your interests, strengths, and values? If not, examine them critically to ensure they are not interlopers, others’ goals for you masquerading themselves as your own. I’m currently working on this.

My Favorite YouTube Channels

Are there any YouTube channels you guys like to follow? I enjoy a broad range and have some favorites. Without further ado, they are:

VagabondSteve — Steve is a life coach who has been making videos for about 13 years. I’ve been watching him since 2010 and really appreciate his wisdom, insight, and worldview.

Special Books by Special Kids — This channel is run by Chris Ulmer, a former special education teacher. He posts interviews he conducts with people who have a variety of disorders and diseases.

ASMRrequests — I’ve been watching Ally since 2013, when I first was introduced to ASMR. She was one of the first ASMRtists and obviously puts a lot of time and effort into her videos and the results are amazing. While she hasn’t posted in over a year, there are plenty of videos on her channel to enjoy.

Exploring Alternatives — This channel is run by Mat and Danielle and features “people who are living in tiny houses, vans, RV’s, and boats; and people who are exploring long-term travel, minimalism, zero waste living, off-grid living, and more.” An intriguing and inspiring look into the ways other people live and the possibilities for change.

Kirsten Dirksen — Similar to the last channel, here you’ll find featured “videos about simple living, self- sufficiency, small (and tiny) homes, backyard gardens (and livestock), alternative transport, DIY, craftsmanship, and philosophies of life.”

Soft White Underbelly — photographer Mark Laita conducts interviews with people who are often ignored, shunned, and/or misunderstood by society, such as prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, white collar criminals, homeless people, transgender people, Appalachian Mountain dwellers, gang members, and others.

Pursuit of Wonder — This channel’s purpose, as the name suggests, is to spark wonder, broaden people’s minds, and advocate for positive mental health.

Button Poetry — I really enjoy slam poetry/spoken word poetry. If you do, too, this channel has consistently high-quality offerings from some very talented artists.

JCS – Criminal Psychology — This channel offers police interrogation videos of the accused in custody, edited with narrative overlaid by the channel owner. This allows for insight into the forensic psychology techniques and theories at play, offering context and understanding beyond what is happening on the surface. Very gripping content.

Modern History TV — Jason Kingsley, the “Modern Knight”, examines in-depth what it was like to live in the Middle Ages.

Townsends — This eponymous channel covers everything Colonial America-related. The Townsend family has a store in Indiana that carries replicas of common Colonial America items, and they started making related YouTube videos in 2008. The channel includes a lot of recipes as well as re-enactments.

CheapRVLiving — Bob Wells posts videos on vehicle living and nomadic lifestyles, including reviewing products and conducting interviews with fellow vehicle-dwellers.

Better Ideas — This channel posts videos on mental health and self-improvement topics. The editing is top-notch and the videos thought-provoking.

I’d love to hear who your favorite Youtubers are and why you love them!

Quick Anxiety-Reducing Tips

I struggle with anxiety and I have learned what helps me during these times. Although different coping techniques work for different people, I decided I would share mine with you in hopes they might help somebody.

Drink water — I feel more clear-headed, positive, and emotionally stable when I am hydrated. On the contrary, I feel foggy-headed and am more vulnerable to negative emotions when I am dehydrated.

Get outside — I feel calmer and uplifted when I spend some time outside, especially if the weather is nice.

Take a hot shower — For me, showers are like being back in the womb. They’re cocooning and allow me both to experience a level of sensory deprivation (everything going on outside the shower stall falls away), while also experiencing some positive and calming sensory input (the roar of the shower in my ears and the pounding water on my body).

Exercise — Moving my body is an almost immediate anxiety lifter. It feels good to be active, to strengthen my body, and to engage in this type of self-care.

Deep breathe — Anxiety leads to shallow breathing, which can lead to more anxiety in what becomes a vicious cycle. Simply concentrating on my breathing and taking deep breaths calms and centers me.

Repeat a mantra — I will sometimes self-soothe by repeating a mantra such as “Everything will be okay” or “It’s not that serious”. Sometimes vocally contradicting the anxiety results in it dissipating.

Start cleaning/straightening — A clean, uncluttered environment has always made me feel more in control of myself. On the contrary, a messy, chaotic environment contributes to my bouts of anxiety.

Think grateful thoughts — Considering what I’m grateful for always calms me and helps put my worries and concerns in context. The situation is almost never as dire as I make it out to be.

Talk to somebody — Being alone can aid the anxiety in continuing. Sometimes just talking with a friendly person can cause the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions to end.

What are some ways you successfully battle anxiety?

My Favorite Dishes at My Favorite Chain Restaurants

What are your favorite dishes at your favorite chain restaurants? I thought I’d share mine with you. I know I like to look up ratings and reviews of dishes before I try a new dish or even before I try a new restaurant. Although it might not be the highest quality, healthiest, or fanciest fare, it’s convenient, cheap(ish), and dependable. So here goes:

1. Cheesecake Factory’s Cajun Jambalaya Pasta: I haven’t cared for other pasta dishes I’ve tried here, but the linguini pasta is cooked perfectly, and the spicy kick is just right. The peppers and onions pair perfectly.

2. Olive Garden’s Chicken and Gnocchi Soup: It’s creamy, filling, and something different than all the marinara and tomato sauce-based options.

3. Chili’s Steak Fajitas: The steak is quality, and the tortillas come hot.

4. Outback Steakhouse’s Coconut Shrimp with Orange Chili Dipping Sauce: The shrimp is crispy and coconutty, and the sauce is slightly sweet, slightly sour, with a tropical twist.

5. Cracker Barrel’s Sunday Homestyle Chicken: Per the name, only available Sunday, these chicken breasts are fried to perfection, juicy on the inside, crunchy on the outside.

6. P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Healthier than some of the other options, while not sacrificing taste. The lettuce wraps offer crunch, and the chicken filling is similar to that of an egg roll.

7. On the Border’s Grande Taco Salad with Beef and Avocado Ranch: I love that this salad includes cabbage. The ground beef is quality, and this is a very filling salad you can eat as an entree.

8. Panera Bread’s Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup: It’s slightly sweet, slightly savory, thick and definitely enough for a meal, especially paired with fresh-baked bread.

9. Firebird’s Meatloaf: While meatloaf is not usually on the top of anyone’s list, this dish is delicious. The meat is tender, made of Kobe beef, and the sauce paired with it tastes wonderful.

10. Red Robin’s Gourmet Cheeseburger with Cheddar Cheese: Fresh, full of toppings, including pickle relish, and almost too big to bite. Not your average fast food burger.

What are your picks?

I Missed an Exam

So I decided to go back to school and started an online bachelors in English program with a writing concentration in January, with a full course load. I’m also working full time. Yesterday I realized I missed an EXAM that was due Friday. Yes, an EXAM. One of only four that is responsible for 16% of my grade. I have no good reason for having missed it. There were multiple emails sent out about it reminding us it was coming up and even a study group that another student had started to prepare for it. My only excuse is that a quiz for a different course was also due that day and I got confused. When I realized I missed the exam deadline, I emailed my professor and asked if there’s any way I can make it up. If not, I will ask for extra credit opportunities so I can possibly make up some of the points. I feel so stupid. And inadequate. And like a fraud. It makes me think, why did I ever go back to school? Why am I paying tuition money? At my age, I probably should have saved that money for something more practical. I went back to school to earn a degree in something I love and possibly work in publishing, get away from the vortex of soul-sucking, meaningless jobs I’ve been working. I’m so mad at my stupid mistake, though. I wonder if it’s even worth staying in school while I experience such severe depression-induced fog 24/7. I wonder if I “bit off more than I can chew”. Anyway, I just felt like getting the feelings I’m experiencing out of my head and down “on paper” in an organized way. I realize this isn’t earth-shattering and will not actually affect the outcome of my life, but it feels earth-shattering right now. And I keep obsessing like, what if because of not making an A in this class I get passed up for an internship or job opportunity in the future? I was hoping to make an A in all my classes except for the math classes, where I’d feel lucky to get a B. The self-loathing is just pretty bad right now. I think, there are some people who go to school, work, and have a spouse and kids to take care of and be there for. And maybe other things going on, as well, like church or other community activities. And I do none of that. So why did I screw up? It’s 7 in the morning and I just realized last night I had missed it, and I just woke up and decided I had to write about this. Try to get it out of my system. Because I don’t want to obsess about it even more and it ruin the rest of my weekend before I go back to work. Can anyone reading this relate with mental illness making even the smallest things seem so much harder? Anyway, thanks for listening/ reading.

Another Mental Health Post

Anybody else dealing with poor mental health just think, when I work this situation out or achieve this goal or get into this routine or stop doing this, all my mental health issues will fall away? I know this way of thinking has stopped me from getting help. And I just can’t seem to shake it. I do believe my issues are largely stem from living an unbalanced lifestyle, and that if I would just tweak certain things in my life, I’d be a lot happier and less stressed. I’d prefer changing my lifestyle to telling all my issues to a stranger and being put on strong medication with potential serious side effects. But I’m experiencing a vicious cycle where I need motivation, energy, and mental clarity in order to make the changes, which I don’t have because depression and anxiety have sapped those precious resources. I’m tired of the self-help books, as well. I’ve read so many of them at this point, and they all make the same basic points. They’re all helpful but only to the extent that I apply the advice and wisdom to my life instead of keeping it all in my head. I’ve been feeling more in the mood for novels with high intrigue, emotion, and twists. Something to truly allow me to enjoy and relax, get lost in a different world rather than to constantly examine my life, find it lacking, and spend all my time navel-gazing.