Education

When you’re in high school or college, most of your time is spent around people your age. We become absorbed in the humor, language, and habits of those in our age group. Even when seeking advice, peers are often times the first ones we turn to for a sense of understanding. Our common ground is our shared space in time, and there is something very comforting and familiar about that.

However, there are two untapped pools of wisdom that we are missing out on when we stay age-centric. While we are trekking through the first quarter of our lives, we need to learn as much as we can from the two groups of people that flank the spectrum of life: children and the elderly.

So, what exactly can they teach us? Well for starters, we all need to stop worrying about everything. Karl Pillemer, a Ph.D in gerontology at Cornell University, interviewed over a thousand elderly Americans and asked them for some good old (pun intended) life advice. Over and over again in 30 Lessons for Living, the interviewees talked about how they regret having spent so much time mindlessly worrying about things out of their control. Rather than letting moments pass by in constant anxiety, they talked about the importance to “take time to craft the story of your life” instead. It’s more about investing in your legacy, and less about the things that can get in your way. Even the young ones of the world have similar sentiments.

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong.”

– Marianne Williamson

For budding adults, that file in our minds just seems to get larger and larger with each decision we make. If we want a bit of childish ease to rub off on us, it’s best to keep observing how they choose to live. In a Ted Talk with internationally renowned speaker and author Caroline McHugh, childhood is discussed as a place in our lives in which people are most authentic. McHugh says that “when you’re a kid, you’re fantastic at being yourself because you don’t know how to disguise your differentness.” Kids are not afraid to show up in the world as themselves. They may be unaware, but they are also unaffected by the judgment of others. There’s a beauty in that sort of freedom of thought, that no matter what kind of millennial dilemma we may be going through, we can choose to hide less of ourselves and be proud of who we are.

Those with just a few years under their belt and those with only a few years left, these are the people that have a lot to share. Lighten up a little, feel self-assured, and enjoy what is right in front of you: today.

Image: Gratisography

Skills

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

This has never rang more true than now. As a twenty-something, my current conversations and thought processes seem to always revolve around the “what am I doing with my life?” question. I am finding that within my circle of peers, someone is either landing a big-time job, traveling the world, attending graduate school, or questioning why they’re not doing any of these things. Social media newsfeeds can be an emerging adult’s biggest frenemy when it comes to keeping track of friends and colleagues. You want to know what someone is up to, but you secretly want to feel like you’re in a better spot than they are. (Oh I’m sorry, that must be my ego talking) That, or you want to justify your place in life by knowing that other people are in the same boat as you. Solidarity, anyone?

I have read countless blogs and articles on this comparison crisis rampant among college students and post-grads. Some have even called it the new OCD: over-comparison disorder. The problem with comparing is that other people’s situations are given a forefront to what progress and success should look like. This is a huge contentment sucker since we each have our own journey to fulfill that is constantly changing shape. Measuring where we are in life with another human being is like trying to shoot at a moving target. It’s frustrating and misaligned. There needs to be a way out of the “this is me” but “this is the world” limbo.

In fact, there is a way that is definitely worth trying. Here it is:

Live your life inside out.

That’s right. We’re about to get real soul-talky. Living life inside out? It means spending more time investing in your journey rather than living up to what others are doing in theirs. It means putting energy into nurturing what makes you unique, learning to not only identify but love your innate abilities and then having the willingness to improve the skills you choose to attain. Rather than absorbing the trends and timelines of your colleagues, observe what inspires you and take action at a pace that’s most beneficial to your own goals, whatever they may be. Identify insecurities and combat them by fostering positive thoughts about yourself and your future. Yes, living life inside out can be easier said than done, but it’s an approach that has a lot of support behind it. To establish some credibility here, Oprah (shout out to you, Oprah) mentioned this approach in a number of her interviews. Life coach and clinical psychologist Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus has even written a book about it with enough empirical research to calm any skeptics out there. Taking a note or two from these inspirers, I’ve learned that self-reflection can really be a gateway into self-acceptance.

So how does living inside out help us compare less and become happier? The first step is to acknowledge the comparisons you have with yourself and others. Say it with me: “Hi. My name is _______, and I am a comparer.” The next step is to shift your focus from the external, material, and visual to your unique personality, places and purpose. Ah, alliteration! Let’s call those the 3 P’s.

Personality: The collection of traits and tendencies that you exhibit to yourself and to the world.
Places: The non-geographical places of interest and value that your actions stem from. Maybe you come from a place of compassion or entrepreneurship or social justice or…
Purpose: Your calling. Your legend. Your reason. The string that threads through everything you do and what ties your beliefs and goals together. It’s your passion turned into action.

Every single person has a different combination of their 3 P’s. If you are able to focus on your 3 P’s you will learn to value them. You can cater your choices to a path that is tailored to who you are, rather than someone else. Don’t let someone else’s decision to join the Peace Corps or go to law school change your dream of launching your own startup. The next time you find yourself feeling uneasy about where you are in life because Person A is way ahead of you or Person B took a different route, realize that it’s because you come from different places, have different personalities, and each have your own special purpose.

A big chunk of this process is definitely learning to love and respect yourself fully so that you can in turn, emit that same positivity to those around you. There is something very freeing about allowing yourself to compare less and to appreciate more. So start within, share your abilities and dreams confidently, and embrace the abilities and dreams of your colleagues. It’s an ongoing process, this whole self-reflection thing, but let’s start at the core so that we can be so happy with ourselves that we are always happy for each other.

Image: David Goehring

CultureEducation

Adjusting to your college dorm can take some time. If you’re still working on settling in, or if your current situation just isn’t working out, here are five ways to adjust to your college dorm and make it feel like home.

1. The Bed

No matter where you go to school, there’s nothing comfortable about the jail cell-like bed of your dorm. Investing in a good mattress pad and bedding set that is warm and makes you feel at home is essential to making your bed feel close to the one in your room at home.

2. The Closet

Going from optimal clothing space to a three-foot closet is a big deal. In order to get through the size change, invest in space-saving hangers so you can still bring a large part of your wardrobe. Narrowing down the necessities that you need to bring is also extremely important when it comes to making the most of your new home. Bring clothes that make sense for where you are going. For example, if your school is in a location with harsher winters, load up your winter jackets, boots, and scarves.

3. The Bathroom

Not being able to walk around barefoot is a big step. Getting used to the idea of a communal bathroom can be frightening, but it isn’t as scary as it sounds! A shower caddy is your new best friend in college, as well as a pair of cheap flip flops to accompany you everywhere you go.

4. The Noise

The noise level is going to increase dramatically when moving from your room at home to a college dorm. Having 30 or so neighbors on the same floor definitely contributes to that. It’s important to get into the habit of taking advantage of the library when it comes to studying and doing homework because it will be your savior of silence and concentration.

5. The Roommate

Living with another person in the same room may not be something you’re used to. Having a friend can help you from being lonely and homesick, but it can also be difficult to get used to another person’s living habits. Setting rules and boundaries from the beginning is a key factor to make dorm living easier for both you and your roommate. Who knows, your living companion may just be your future maid of honor!

Overall, living on campus is a major part of the college experience and one that should be taken advantage of if given the opportunity. Even with its ups and downs, some of your best college memories will be made and shared in your college dorm, and you’ll be sure to call your college dorm home!