CollegeEducation

Senioritis is all too real, especially with it being finals season, and even graduation soon for some students. While procrastination is already heavily prevalent across all colleges, senioritis is exceptionally worse. Keep reading to learn some strategies on how to stay focused on work, graduation, and post-grad plans.

The end of the semester is either the last thing on your mind because of the mounds and mounds of work you have left to do, or the very first thing on your mind – summer vacation! Yet for many seniors, the prospect of the end of the semester is both exciting and terrifying. Not only are you worrying about all of your classwork, you’re also pouring over graduate school or job applications, apartment listings, and trying to hang out with your friends as often as possible before you all go off into the real world.

How seniors approach the end of the semester can either be stressing out about all of the above, or just acting very apathetic to the work in front of them. Many fall somewhere in between, yet neither is quite healthy for your mind or your grades. Here are some tips to stay focused all the way to the end and still enjoy their last semester in college.

Stay Organized

The quickest way to senioritis, skipping classes, and unintentionally lowering your grades is by not staying organized. If you have your schedule written out on five different pieces of paper and you’ve suddenly reverted to being a freshman in high school and losing all of your homework, you need to either invest in a school planner, or start using a calendar on your phone. Between a constantly changing softball schedule, class hours and my on campus job, Google calendar is my lifesaver.

I’m a list maker. I make lists for literally everything: groceries, homework due, what I’m eating during the day, what non-homework things I need to get done, you name it. So because of that, I have two constant lists: Homework To Do, and Other To Do. Oftentimes the “other” is what I call “productive procrastination” – looking at job sites, car dealerships, recipes my friends and I want to try when we’re off the meal plan, and things my parents want to do when they come out for my graduation. These are all things I have to do at some point anyway, so whenever I’m feeling extra unmotivated to do homework, I switch over to my other list and see what I need to get done.

Juggling all that needs to get done before graduation can cause anyone’s head to whirl. Sometimes it can be too much, but it doesn’t have to be. Alternate what kind of work you do which days: Monday/Wednesday/Friday you do school work, and Tuesday/Thursday you spend the day job searching and apartment hunting. That way, you stay on top of both without stressing yourself out too much.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself is knowing what you can and cannot do during the day without going insane. That includes getting as much good sleep as possible, eating well multiple times a day (taking snacks to class if you don’t have time for lunch works well), and even exercising on a semi-regular basis. These small things are often overlooked, but are essential to not going crazy.

Instead of attempting to pull an all-nighter, when you feel like you’re too tired to do any more work, take a shower and go to bed. It’s better to do it the next day when you are feeling more energized than attempt to carry on working in a half-zombie state of mind.

Take an hour or so out of your day to go to the gym or take a nice walk. It can also be a social hour if you feel like you haven’t been able to spend enough time with friends.

Spend Time With Your Friends

Before you know it, your friend group is going to be pulled apart in different directions as people follow their dream job or attend grad school. Make some time every day to catch up with someone, it can be as small as getting coffee or as big as a shopping day or going to a baseball game, so that you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your last semester of college.

Find Motivation

This might be an odd thing to have on a list of way to keep yourself motivated, but sometimes it’s really that simple. For some, their motivating drive stems from getting their work done so that the end of the semester can be spent relaxing with friends. For others, it can be the pending email about a job prospect. Yet for a whole other group, they need small, attainable goals to keep them motivated for the last two months of the semester. It’s very easy to be so stressed out that you end up doing nothing productive – don’t fall into that black hole. Instead, set a small goal of completing your homework for the day and rewarding yourself with an episode of your favorite show (ONE episode – small goal, small reward!).

Make Playlists for Different Moods

Some people do this for fun, and some dread it (like myself). As someone that will listen to anything, I’m not always aware of what kinds of music affects me when. However, I’ve noticed that I do more and better work when I’m listening to instrumental music rather than top 40 hits. But to get out of bed, I need something pop-y and fresh to get me going for my 9:30am class. Whether you make your own playlists or borrow from Spotify (that’s what I do), find your fit.

Set Aside Guilt-Free Time For Fun

It’s still college, after all. You will remember that time you and your friend spent all day contemplating the importance of a (very) attractive side character of your favorite show than the night you spent doing work. After landing your first job or getting your master’s degree, your GPA won’t matter. It’s about the experiences and memories. Know what is important and what is important to you, and find the best balance of both. If that means forcing your friend to do homework with you so that you can see her AND study for that test on Friday, then do it. If you choose to go out with the boys tonight, just remember to make up that work the next day. Life is all about balance, so find yours.

Image: Flickr

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

When the Carpe Juvenis co-founders, Lauren and Catherine, were doing research for their book, they stumbled upon someone who immediately inspired them. Determined to get in touch, they sent out a cold email and were so happy to receive a warm reply. Claudia Krogmeier, just a freshman in college, has already experienced and accomplished a lot. When she was younger she moved with her family from Texas to Singapore, where she dove into working part time as a model and starting her own style blog (doing both while attending high school and applying for college). While living abroad, she also received permission to continue working toward her Congressional Award Medal and can proudly boast (although she’s probably too humble to actually boast) that she is a Bronze Medal recipient. We are excited to share Claudia’s exciting story, which is just getting started…

Name: Claudia Krogmeier
Education: Boston University
Location(s): Singapore, Houston, Boston
Follow: Website / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Youth Youth”?

Claudia Krogmeier: I thinking seizing your youth is mostly about living up to your own potential and not standing in your own way.

CJ: You are originally from Texas in the United States but now live in Southeast Asia. What was that transition like and what were some challenges you faced during the process? How did you overcome those challenges?

CK: The transition from Texas to Singapore was of course difficult, especially when changing from an American high school to an American high school in Singapore (SAS). Culturally, Singapore is immensely different from America so it takes some time to better understand the locals, to adjust to the increased amount of work I had at SAS, and to strike a balance between everything that is important to me; service, time with friends, sports, traveling, and school work. Once I found a balance among all the things I wanted to spend time doing, I was able to really take in everything South East Asia had to offer.

CJ: You will be attending Boston University next year! What are you looking forward to, what are you nervous about, and do you have any idea what you want to study?

CK: I’m mostly looking forward to finally being able to learn at a more robust level with professors who are extremely knowledgeable in my chosen field of advertising. I’ve known since I was 7 that I want to be in advertising because of the dynamic and creative process. I’m also really excited to explore Boston, a new city that I’ve only visited once. I’m nervous about the immense change (like the cold weather- yikes!) and re-integrating into American culture, even if it has been only three years since I’ve lived in America.

claudia1

CJ: Let’s pretend you’re about to do the entire college search and application process over again. What advice would you give yourself?

CK: I would remind myself to remain calm! The entire task seemed so daunting at first, but now that I look back I should have stopped myself from being so nervous and worried! Everyone really does end up at a school that is right for them.

CJ: What’s the best advice you’ve received so far?

CK: My mother always reminds me that nothing will ever just come to you. If you want to do or be something, you have to be the one to do it. She always says, “What’s the worst that can happen? They say no?” So, with that in mind I’ve always gone after what I want, whether it is an internship at a marketing company or starting my fashion blog.

CJ: How do you measure success?

CK: Success is mainly internal. Of course positive feedback or outside support is nice, but the most important thing is to feel validated on the inside. I love to set clear goals for myself in all aspects of my life, and when I achieve them I feel I have a measured success, big or small.

CJ: You run the awesome style blog Claudia Krogmeier: A Style Blog. Where does your interest in style come from and what advice would you give any young person about figuring out his or her own style?

CK: Ever since I was young I’ve been very entwined in all things creative and aesthetic, so fashion was a natural progression for me. Style is really so different for every person and very personal, but the epitome of style is when someone feels confident about themselves with what they’re wearing. I’ve learned that figuring out your favorite self-aspects and accentuating them will make you feel unique and strong, no matter what your style is.

Claudia6

CJ: How do you stay organized and juggle all of your responsibilities? Are there specific tools you use?

CK: Honestly, it’s really hard to stay organized. School is my first priority, then all other work and service endeavors follow. Staying organized really comes down to me prioritizing what is most important. Setting alarms on my phone before a club meeting at school or before a modeling casting also really helps!

CJ: What are your best tips for traveling?

CK: Take opportunities to explore, whether it is a great food truck a block away or a new museum across the globe, and do as much research as you can before you go! Ask friends and utilize Google to find all the best spots for wherever you’re travelling to. By knowing what to do and what to look out for, you can make the most of your trip.

CJ: You also do some part time modeling. What made you decide to pursue this interest? What was an unexpected aspect of that type of work?

CK: I first started modeling in Singapore because I arrived over the summer in 2012 and had nothing to do, so I thought modeling was the perfect way to stay busy and make a little money. I had been asked to sign with Elite Models in America, but after moving to Singapore I signed here. I quickly started getting booked for shows and jobs. It’s hard to manage it when I’m in school, but modeling is such an amazing way to meet creative designers, photographers, makeup artists, and other models from all over the world. Modeling has been such an incredible experience because I’ve been able to experience Singapore through such a different lens. I’ve met so many more different kinds of people and seen different parts of Singapore that I never expected.

CJ: How do you deal with difficult days and move past them? What have you learned about overcoming struggles?

CK: When I have a difficult day I really lean on the most consistent people in life, my friends and parents. I try to focus on what I can do to improve the situation or how I can move past it. Struggles are part of life and without them we wouldn’t grow into better, more dimensional people.

claudia2

CJ: You have earned your Congressional Award Bronze Medal – Congratulations! What are some of the activities you did to earn your hours?

CK: I’ve been a part of volleyball since the 7th grade, so a lot of my physical hours came from all my time playing volleyball. I earned a lot of hours for modeling and marketing/advertising internships under the personal development category as well. I’ve also been very involved in Caring For Cambodia, a Singapore based charity that builds and supports schools in Cambodia. Most of my service hours came from all the time I spent in Cambodia with the students and the club at my school that I helped run.

CJ: What did achieving your Bronze Medal mean to you?

CK: Achieving my Bronze Medal was mainly a huge validation for me. It was one of the few times I felt satisfied and rewarded for the things I have done.

CJ: If you could have lunch with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be, what would you eat, and what would you ask that person? 

CK: I’d like to have sushi with Kristen Wigg just so I could laugh for an hour and a half.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

CK: Avoid as much friend drama as possible (it is never worth it!) and allow yourself to be a little more carefree at times, and remember that there is so much more ahead.

 

Claudia Krogmeier Qa

Images: Ryan Al-Schamma

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Berkleigh Rathbone has been exposed to the idea of planting, growing, and harvesting plants from her own backyard all throughout her life. When it came time to choosing a project for her Girl Scouts Gold Award, Berkleigh chose to write a book called Karlein’s Pumpkin Patch to teach children about composting, photosynthesis, and other facets of gardening. In the book, a girl named Karlein plants, grows, and harvests pumpkins. The process of creating the book took about 10 months, during which Berkleigh wrote the story, edited, drew illustrations, and worked on the layout of the book.

Higher education is important to Berkleigh, and she is planning on majoring in Psychology at the University of Washington. Having been a part of the Girl Scouts since fourth grade, cookie sales are Berkleigh’s favorite part of Girl Scouts as it helped her hone her entrepreneurial skills. Read on to learn more about this ambitious young woman!

*The Girl Scouts Spotlight Series is an exclusive weekly Youth Spotlight on amazing young women who have earned their Gold Awards, the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn in the Girl Scout organization.

Name: Berkleigh Rathbone
Education: Planning to major in Psychology at the University of Washington

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Berkleigh Rathbone: I define “Seizing Your Youth” as making the most out of your life and actively preparing yourself as a teenager for the increasingly competitive world that you enter in adulthood. Simply said, seizing your youth means seizing the day, every day!

CJ: What will you study at the University of Washington, where you’re starting school in the fall? What led you to those academic passions and why are you choosing to study them in a formal setting?

BR: I am planning to study and get at least a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology since I have always been interested in the mind and how it functions. Higher education has always been important to both of my parents, so I promised them that I would go to college after I finished high school.

BR 8

CJ: How did you get involved with the Girl Scouts, and what did you love most about being a Girl Scout?

BR: I joined a Girl Scout troop as a “Junior” in fourth grade. In addition to troop meetings, I loved all of the activities (such as summer camps, weekend trips, troop activities, cookie sales, etc.) that were available to me through scouting. If I had to choose my single most favorite part of Girl Scouts it would be cookie sales – not only are the cookies delicious, but by doing sales I additionally strengthened my interpersonal and entrepreneurial skills.

CJ: What are the top three lessons you learned from being a Girl Scout?

BR: 1. Always be prepared, no matter what.
2. Volunteering is extremely rewarding.
3. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

CJ: To earn your Gold Award in Girl Scouts, you wrote a published a book called Karlein’s Pumpkin Patch to teach children about composting, photosynthesis, and other facets of gardening. Your book includes a resource guide with a glossary, discussion questions, and information about donating to food banks so everyone can access fresh produce. You have shared your book with libraries, schools, and food banks throughout the country and via an online video you created. How cool! Why did you choose this topic for your project, and what did the process of putting it together entail?

BR: Choosing a topic for my Gold Award project was hands down the hardest part – I could have chosen to do almost anything! I decided to go with the theme of gardening since both of my parents love to plant and grow vegetables and flowers in our garden. All throughout my life I have been exposed to the idea of planting, growing, and harvesting plants from my own backyard, which is something that I will be forever grateful for. Furthermore, my mom happened to have a rough draft of a story she had written about a girl named Karlein who planted, grew, and harvested pumpkins that she had grown. So the idea to (re)write and illustrate a book for my Gold Award seemed like a no-brainer!

My initial project started out small. I would write, illustrate, and publish my book, put it into a few public locations (schools, libraries, etc.), and wait for readers to respond to discussion questions via an email I put in the back of the book. However, as the project progressed I realized that my project needed more oomph! in order to get necessary quantitative results for my before/after project impact analysis. That’s where the online video and remodified discussion questions, etc. come in.

All in all, this project was probably the biggest project I’ve ever worked on. From the time I stated until the time I finished, the total project time was about 9 to 10 months. Not only did editing the story take time, but so did creating and editing the illustrations, in addition to figuring out the layout of the book. I also put a lot of time into communicating with several different people, mostly by email, in order to sort out different logistics of where to send my book, who to send it to, and how many copies to send.

BR 6

CJ: How did you keep your project organized as you were working on it? How did you balance your workload with school, extracurricular activities, etc.?

BR: In order to keep my project organized I put together a list of tasks that I had to do, and in turn organized that list on a timeline in order to get a rough idea of how long my project would take me to complete. As far as balancing my school schedule with my Gold Award project tasks goes, I decided to treat my Gold Award project itself as an extracurricular activity. I had few school obligations and at the time I was not working, which really allowed me to dive into working on my project. Once my Junior year of high school ended I took advantage of my time off from school to catch up on task deadlines and evaluate the progress of my project.

CJ: Do you have mentors? How did you go about finding them?

BR: I’m not quite sure. Yes, I do know a good amount of people, and yes, I have learned quite a bit by talking to these individuals. However, I think that my mentor takes on a more inanimate form: life experiences. By learning from both the mistakes of others (myself included) and also the lucky risk-taking strategies of self-made successful people, I feel as if my life experience of interacting with people and hearing their personal stories has helped to advise me on what steps to take at what times, in addition to how many steps to take at a time without overworking myself.

CJ: To you, what does it mean to be a good leader?

BR: Good leaders are like backbones:

  1. Without good leaders, society, like our body without our spine, could not function.
  2. Good leaders, like our spines, are simultaneously flexible and strong.
  3. Just like how the spine connects the upper and lower parts of the body, good leaders find ways to connect people in a group/society in order to establish a sense of unity.

BR 2

CJ: How do you define success?

BR: I define success as meeting/exceeding a previously set goal. For me, success can come in the form of money, health, happiness, wisdom, love, or any other aspect of life that I have my eyes set on improving.

CJ: What is a book you read in high school that positively shaped you?

BR: Tiny Snail by Tammy Carter Bronson – the author actually came to my school when I was in second grade and talked about the process of writing and illustrating her own book!

CJ: What are your favorite books?

BR: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Absent by Katie Williams, and The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

BR: Break out of your comfort zone. Voice your opinion – if you feel afraid to do so in front of your friends, find new friends. Take advantage of extracurricular activities at school. Meet more people. Spend time cooking meals; enjoy the food that you’re eating. SPEAK UP. And, most importantly, don’t sweat the small stuff.

Berkleigh Rathbone Qs

Images by Berkleigh Rathbone

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

The Girl Scouts is an incredible organization that turns young women into leaders. Becka Gately, one of these impressive young women, has always been involved in sports. Therefore, when it came time to choose a project for her Girl Scouts Gold Award, planning a health and fitness night in her community was a perfect fit. Becka established partnerships between the Kent School District, health organizations, and more than 40 volunteers, and she pulled off an event with more than 25 booths about nutrition, physical exercise, cardiovascular health, and more. Over 400 community members attended!

As a high school senior, Becka is involved with many extracurricular activities, including student government, National Honor Society, and DECA, a business leadership development program. She has a passion for business and helping her community, which she has had the opportunity to do through the Girl Scouts. Having been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten, Becka is no stranger to helping others and being a leader. Becka shares what she learned from the Girl Scouts, how she stayed organized when working on her project, and how she defines success. We’re so impressed with this ambitious young woman!

*The Girl Scouts Spotlight Series is an exclusive weekly Youth Spotlight on amazing young women who have earned their Gold Awards, the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn in the Girl Scout organization.

Name: Becka Gately
Education: Kentwood High School

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Becka Gately: I think “Seizing Your Youth” means taking every single possibility you have and taking advantage of it. Never in your life will you have the time or the freedom to join any group you want or any team you want. I think “Seizing Your Youth” means to find your passion and run with it.

CJ: What are you studying at school? What led you to those academic passions and why did you choose to study them in a formal setting?

BG: This year I am taking classes that I need to graduate, but in college I want to study business. Since joining DECA I have had an interest in business. I am also heavily involved in leadership in my school and I think both business and leadership correspond with each other. I am definitely a people person so I found that business was not only my interest, but also something that I am pretty good at.

CJ: During your senior year of high school you will serve as Vice President of DECA (a business leadership development program). How did you get involved in DECA?

BG: My brother actually encouraged me to do DECA. He participated in it his junior and senior year. He told me that I didn’t have a choice and that I had to do it because it would be something that will help me with the rest of my life.

Becka 3

CJ: How did you get involved with the Girl Scouts, and what did you love most about being a Girl Scout?

BG: I got involved in Girl Scouts when I was in kindergarten. One of my friend’s mom was starting a troop and my mother put me in it. What I love most about being a Girl Scout is the opportunity to help my community. Being a part of Girl Scouts has given me so many opportunities to not only help the community, but to also meet more people in my community.

CJ: What are the top three lessons you learned from being a Girl Scout?

BG: 1. Respect everyone. You never know where being nice and respectful might take you.
2. Giving back is better than receiving.
3. Your life is what you make it.

CJ: To earn your Gold Award in Girl Scouts, you planned a health and fitness night in your community. By forging partnerships between the Kent School District, health organizations, and more than 40 volunteers, you pulled off an event with more than 25 booths about nutrition, physical exercise, cardiovascular health, and more. The night proved to be a huge success—with more than 400 community members attending. Amazing! Why did you choose this topic for your project, and what did the process of putting it together entail?

BG: I chose this topic because I have always had a love for fitness and sports. I have played soccer since I was five-years-old and played basketball and volleyball for a couple of years. A year of playing tennis made me realize that I would rather hit a ball with my feet than with my hands. I grew up watching baseball 24/7 because my brother played and my dad coached. I was surrounded by sports and fitness all growing up so being active became natural for me.

When I started to look into what I wanted to do for my Gold Award project, it was around the time where some of my younger cousins where getting to the age of having an interest in electronics. I noticed that not only were they not playing any sports but that they would rather sit on an Ipad then go outside and play. Another thing that I realized was I didn’t have the knowledge about nutrition compared to exercise. This was one of the reasons I added the nutrition part to my event. Not only did I want to help the community learn about being active, I wanted to learn about nutrition and what I can do to be healthier.

Once I had this concept an amazing opportunity came about. My mother’s school at the time had been chosen by Molina Health Care and the Hope Heart institute to sponsor a health event at their school. After meeting with both Molina and Hope Heart, the event really started to come together! After that I just had to come up with some activities and get donations.

CJ: How did you keep your project organized as you were working on it? How did you balance your workload with school, extracurricular activities, etc.?

BG: When working on my project, I stayed organized by holding weekly meetings. I had a meeting every Friday afternoon with my advisor and my mother. I really enjoy being busy and giving my time to others, so for the majority of my extracurricular activities I spend time at school. During the school week I usually spend two hours after school being involved with Associated Student Body (ASB), DECA, National Honor Society (NHS), or leadership. Then I play soccer and have dinner. I try to have one night during the week where I can just be home. I also try not to plan things on Sundays so I can spend time with family and get homework done.

CJ: Do you have mentors? How did you go about finding them?

BG: I have two mentors. One is my DECA advisor and marketing teacher Mr. Zender. I have known him since my brother joined DECA. My other mentor is our school athletics and activities director Ms. Daughtry. I meet her when I decided to join ASB. She has really encouraged me to put myself out there and make a difference. She has also given me so many opportunities to expand my leadership skills and learn more about myself. Now I get the opportunity to work with her every day as I am the ASB president.

Becka 8

CJ: To you, what does it mean to be a good leader?

BG: I think a good leader is one whose actions speak louder than their words. There’s a great quote by John Quincy Adams that says “If your actions inspire other to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I believe a good leader does not just tell people what to do but also shows them and inspires them to become better leaders.

CJ: How do you define success?

BG: I think success is giving 100% of what you have into something. I think everyone has different successes in their life, but you can’t compare other successes to yours. To be successful you need to believe in yourself and be happy with the effort that you are putting into your passion.   

CJ: Will you be going to college next year? How do you plan on tackling the college application process?

BG: I am planning on attending college. My plan is to start early on the application process and follow my gut.

CJ: What is a book you read in school that positively shaped you?

BG: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

CJ: What are your favorite books?

BG: Divergent, The Great Gatsby, and The Art of Racing in the Rain.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

BG: I would tell my 15 year-old self two things. First, join as many teams and events as possible. You never know the people you will meet and the experiences you will have. Second, that some people come and go but the ones that stay are very special.

Becka Gately Qs 

Images by Becka Gately

Skills

It might sound like cheating – it’s not!

To start, let’s clarify that we at Carpe Juvenis are not condoning fraud to achieve your goals – that sort of behavior harms others and can have disastrous consequences from an ethical and legal standpoint. In contrast to that, acting a certain way in order to cultivate good habits, confidence, and success is far from unethical. All you’re doing is presenting a side of yourself that might normally need some coaxing to come out. Faking your way to success is more like a magician’s sleight of hand than smoke and mirrors. And honestly, who would fault you for wanting to improve yourself (albeit with a little misdirection)?

Here’s what we’re really suggesting: Act like the version of yourself that you want to become. Before you realize it, you’ll already have become the “you” that you wanted to be.

Amy Cuddy, researcher and professor at the Harvard School of Business, has studied the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels as it relates to power and emotion. Her 2012 TED talk, in which she discusses her landmark study on the role of body language and hormone levels, ranks as the second most-watched video in the organization’s history at over 28 million views. If you haven’t already seen it, take some time after reading this article to watch it via the link above.

At its core, Cuddy’s research points to this: social stimuli and hormone levels have a dialectical relationship. Thus, body language and feelings of power and confidence are engaged in a positive feedback loop. We all know that having high levels of the stress hormone cortisol will affect one’s outward behavior (feelings can dictate one’s behavior), but Cuddy’s talk tells us that the reverse can also be true (behavior can dictate one’s feelings). Acting powerless can lead to feeling powerless while acting confidently can lead to actually feeling more confident.

In her talk, Cuddy shares the story of one of her students, who, after not participating the entire semester, came to her and said that class participation was too difficult for her. The student was shy, unconfident, and admitted that she felt like she didn’t belong there. Cuddy responded by saying that she did belong there, and she should fake confidence until she actually became confident. Fake it, and see how far it gets you.

This story – of feeling out of place, intimidated, and thoroughly convinced that you are not of the proper caliber to succeed – is my story, your story, our story. We’ve all experienced moments of hesitation and self-doubt. When confronting those difficulties, we owe it to ourselves to use every reasonable tool at our disposal to break down the walls that block our way to success.

To achieve that success, keep two thoughts in mind.

First, accept that you are a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Leverage that variability, and do you. It’s trite, but true. Sometimes the most perfunctory thoughts can be the most profound. Let’s deconstruct the do you message real quick. It doesn’t mean you should live fast and die hard, abide by your emotional whims, and act selfishly. Rather, it means that you should be the best you can be in the face of adversity. When challenged, does doing you include selling yourself short and limiting yourself? No way. When challenged, doing you includes presenting the side of yourself that can most readily tackle the issue. Ignore the haters that say you’re one way when you’re actually another.

(As a side note, I would like to add that you should NOT flatly disregard what other people think about you. The whole reason that faking it to success is so important is because other people’s thoughts about you can affect your life in incredibly powerful ways. “Not caring what other people think” is cognitive dissonance at its most paradoxical. You shouldn’t care about others’ unjustified judgments, but should certainly care about their thoughts, opinions, and prejudices as it relates to you. Often we don’t realize that, because we’re privileged, it’s easy to just disregard others because we don’t think it will harm us. Ask anybody from the Black Lives Matter or feminist movements if they think others’ opinions can be weapons – sometimes unconsciously – and if we should care about those opinions.)

Second, destroy the notion of one’s “place.” Your “place” is the most insidious, reprehensible form of prejudice, and accepting your “place” without using every feasible tool at your disposal to achieve your goals is truly a shame. Show me the mandate that says variance in lifestyle isn’t freely allowed. Faking it until success means taking a stand against self-inflicted shortcomings and tacit acceptance of one’s “place.”

So fake it. Pretend you’re confident and push past the things that tell you otherwise. You owe it to yourself.

Image: Unsplash

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

The Girl Scouts is an incredible organization that turns young women into leaders. Deelyn Cheng is one of these amazing young women who became involved in the Girl Scouts when her best friends encouraged her to join. She earned her Gold Award by preparing the City of Lakewood for emergency and disaster situations. She took a multi-faceted approach to her project, including educating residents, acquiring emergency kits for local schools, and even designing menus that can feed hundreds of residents for several days in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Pretty great, if you ask us.

Now, Deelyn studies International Business, Finance, and Marketing at the University of Washington. She has spent time interning and living in Hong Kong, and she is passionate about learning about all things business. Deelyn shares with Carpe Juvenis what she thinks makes a good leader, the lessons she learned from being a part of the Girl Scouts, and that for her, success means “making a positive impact on the world and leaving a legacy.” With determined and caring young women such as Deelyn, the future definitely looks brighter.

*The Girl Scouts Spotlight Series is an exclusive weekly Youth Spotlight on amazing young women who have earned their Gold Awards, the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn in the Girl Scout organization. 

Name: Deelyn Cheng
Education: International Business, Finance, and Marketing at the University of Washington, Class of 2018

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Deelyn Cheng: Be proactive and seize every opportunity that would develop and enhance one’s identity. It is important take opportunities that prompts you to try new things or to push you closer towards a goal.  There is this quote which I love by Milton Berle: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Time is valuable, so treat it preciously. Go out and find your passion, explore, and reach your full potential. Change the world for the better by turning your dreams and ideas into reality.

CJ: You’re studying International Business, Finance, and Marketing at the University of Washington. What led you to those academic passions and why are you choosing to study them in a formal setting?

DC: The world is becoming more dependent on globalized trade and investment, and worldwide financial institutions are prominent. I want to contribute and become involved with the international network and I’m very interested in cross-cultural business. A business degree would also provide a strong foundation of skills and knowledge that is applicable to a wide range of careers. From critical and creative thinking to personal development, I am passionate about learning all things business!

Dee 4

CJ: You are an Investment Assistant Intern at Rongtong Global Investment Limited in Hong Kong. That sounds very interesting. What do your duties entail as an intern?

DC: I assisted colleagues with a variety of tasks including organizing trade settlements in excel, managing an online banking system, reading paperwork, completing office tasks, and proofreading.

CJ: What have you learned from living in Hong Kong? What do you like to do there when you’re not interning?

DC: I learned to have patience, tolerance, and adaptability. The way of life in Hong Kong is extremely different to what I’m used to…a lot of people and very fast paced. However, I just went with the flow, immersed myself in the culture and it worked out just fine! The cuisine in Hong Kong is absolutely spectacular so I spent most of my time eating. If not that, I would be sightseeing.

CJ: Moving to another country for school or an internship can be intimidating and nerve-wracking for some. Did you feel this way? What advice do you have for those who are thinking about living abroad to work or study?

DC: I was a little nervous but was more excited! I would definitely advise them to take the opportunity. It is so valuable to see and experience different cultures, especially when you can stay in a place for longer periods of time. Have an open-mind and don’t be afraid to try new things. And take every event (positive or negative) as a learning experience!

Dee Cheng 2

CJ: How did you get involved with the Girl Scouts, and what did you love most about being a Girl Scout?

DC: My best friends were in a troop and encouraged me to join. I loved the opportunities it gave me! I had the chance to lead, learn, experience new things, and meet new people that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I also greatly enjoyed camping-nothing better than sitting around a campfire singing songs with your best friends!

CJ: What are the top three lessons you learned from being a Girl Scout?

DC: Have patience, be confident, and help others!

Dee 6

CJ: To earn your Gold Award in Girl Scouts, you set out to better prepare the City of Lakewood for emergency and disaster situations. You took a multi-faceted approach to your project, including educating residents, acquiring emergency kits for local schools, and even designing menus that can feed hundreds of residents for several days in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Why did you choose this topic for your project, and what did the process of putting it together entail?

DC: I believe people need to be prepared. They need to have the information and knowledge so they can be ready when an emergency happens. I feel that knowing about First Aid and how to help people is very important. My mom’s family is from Thailand, and when the tsunami hit, I thought it was interesting to watch the process of aid. Global issues interest me, and I wanted to share that locally.

Lots of meetings! I honestly enjoyed them though. I had the opportunity to interact and connect with people which I love to do. I focused on using my organization and time management skills to orderly conduct my project. This includes identifying who I would work with, steps I would take, and not having a delay to take action. Additionally, I communicated with my advisor, my troop, and others who helped me. I also prepared the teaching/presentation materials and activities I would use for the public and the students to educate them and raise awareness. I assigned tasks to my team, and was able to take action and lead a sustainable project.

CJ: How did you keep your project organized as you were working on it? How did you balance your workload with school, extracurricular activities, etc.?

DC: I had to really focus and hone my time management skills. I’m a visual person so I kept a planner. I allotted specific amounts of time for different tasks. However, I would sometimes procrastinate or underestimate the time to complete a task, but this project was definitely a learning process!

CJ: Do you have mentors? How did you go about finding them?

DC: My mentors constantly change-they depend on the time and situation. I believe life puts you in a situation where you build relationships with the people around you and a mentor-mentee relationship will naturally form.

Dee 5

CJ: To you, what does it mean to be a good leader?

DC: A good leader wants to serve and tries their hardest to make the best out of a situation for themselves and others. They make dreams and ideas become reality. And leaders follow their heart, but always do the right thing even when it is hard.

CJ: How do you define success?

DC: Overall, I believe happiness equates to success. Success is when we reach the point of living the life we truly want/desire, and found and fulfilled our purpose in life. Lastly, making a positive impact on the world and leaving a legacy should be part of someone’s success story!

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

DC: Be more diligent in learning and retaining a language. I wish I had focused on learning Mandarin.

Deelyn Cheng

Images by Deelyn Cheng

Skills

Over the last few years I’ve been fortunate to interview some interesting, outrageous, and successful people. Whether they practiced medicine, started their own company, or acted in Hollywood, I noticed that their advice had common themes. If you’ve ever read success-oriented books or YouTubed commencement speeches, they all have similar principles. You’ve got “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (1937), Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (1989), and Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford (2005). These took place at least a decade apart, and still, their messages never centered on a specific industry, but rather universal laws that have stood the test of time. Some are little more cut and dry than others, but generally, they’re the same content in different packaging. This isn’t because they’re unoriginal, it’s because they are different people who internalized the principles differently, and therefore prove they are not exclusive to anyone or any discipline.

Yet, many of us still believe that the advice of wise, intelligent people is not applicable because of our circumstances. They don’t get it. We get caught up in what we can’t do and convince ourselves that while those speeches are inspiring, they “don’t apply to me.” Somehow, accepting the negative things in life is easier than telling yourself you deserve better. You feel like you’re stuck majoring in something you don’t even like, headed for a job you’re going to hate, and yet in our generation, people are making money just by Instagramming. Realistically, you could read all those books, watch all those videos, attend as many leadership programs as you want, and none of them could work. It’s a matter of figuring out what you think is stopping you from being “applicable.” There’s a reason why personal development is a never-ending process, why you can’t “do it all” yourself, and why your life makes your ambition so hard to accomplish: It’s because you’re human.

Just because you’ve figured out your insecurity doesn’t mean that three years later you won’t develop a new one that you’ll have to overcome all over again, bringing a whole new set of issues. The people in your inner circle who support you may not always be there. They might be on their own path that you don’t fit into, which you’ll have to deal with. And your ambition? There won’t always be a spark to keep the fire burning. Some days you’ll be over it and some days you’ll panic at the thought of it being a tragic mistake. But not all hope is lost, I promise. What I’m trying to get at is that being successful takes a lot of flexibility in handling your emotions, decisions, and curiosity. Even people who love their jobs still deal with challenges, because that comes with the territory.

At the end of the day, the only thing that keeps people going is that they believe in the decisions they’ve made. Burning out is much less likely to happen when you don’t feel like you’re forced into the nuances of your day. But if where you are right now is far from what you daydream about, don’t feel like you lost time. You are here on purpose. It’s not by accident that you’re failing class, or are going through something difficult, or have nothing exciting coming up. It’s exactly where you’re supposed to be, and you can always start somewhere. There is a person out there who wishes they were you, while you’re wishing to be someone else.

So the next time you pick up one of those books about success, or read another blog, or watch another catchy motivational video someone shared on Facebook, ask yourself what’s stopping you from taking their advice. Deciding to change one small part of your life at a time is not as inspiring as it sounds, but it probably seemed just as annoying to Steve Jobs when he was starting out, too. So what’s stopping you?

Image: Gratisography

Skills

We’ve all been there – the weekend finally rolls around but you still have items on your To-Do list and you can’t shake the nagging feeling that you should be doing more. Whether you’re in school, working at a company, or self-employed, there’s always a way to feel like you could be filling your weekends up with work instead of fun (or anything but work). But choosing to let your academic or professional career dominate your life might not be the smartest, healthiest, or most productive way to live.

It turns out that over-working yourself can lead to a higher risk of depression, a disrupted sleep schedule, extreme eye strain, and loads of unnecessary stress. So as tempting as it may be to lock yourself in Friday though Sunday, reconsider that decision using these seven tips.

  1. Prioritize your To-Do list. If your To-Do list is still full by Friday afternoon, take ten minutes to prioritize the items. Consider what must be done that day, and what can wait until Monday. Break your big list down into a few small ones labeled by day, and if you absolutely have to get something work-related done on the weekend limit yourself to just two items. Otherwise, write them in for Monday or Tuesday.
  2. Make plans with someone. Force yourself to step away from work by making plans with another person. The more pressure you put on yourself to fulfill a promise, the more likely you are to follow through with it. Text or call a friend you haven’t seen in a while (and preferably not someone you work with or the conversation might steer back to work and trigger stress) and set a time to walk around outside or grab a meal. You’ll be less tempted to sit inside if someone else is depending on you. Set a specific time and confirm your hangout near the end of the work or school week.
  3. Have something to look forward to. If you don’t feel like seeing other people, you should still find something that you can look forward to. Block out time during the weekend to go to a concert, try a new restaurant, get some errands done, or go to the park and walk a few laps. Actually write down the time and activity you’re going to do in your notebook or iCal.
  4. Pre-schedule emails and posts. Technology is a necessary evil. Luckily there are ways to schedule emails and posts ahead of time so that you aren’t always logging-in to hit “send.” Carve out an extra hour each week to get ahead on writing emails that need to be sent the following week, and pre-write Tweets, posts, and messages that can be scheduled ahead of time.
  5. Figure out your stress-triggers. Think super honestly about the things that stress you out the most. Maybe it’s having a looming deadline for that term paper, or wanting to rehearse your business pitch a few more times. Whatever those triggers may be, address them and write them down in a safe place. Once they’ve been written down you’re less likely to forget what you need to do. Keeping tasks in your head instead of on paper is a great way to bottle up anxiety about potentially forgetting to do something. Be honest about what can wait, and what needs to get done now.
  6.  Turn off your technology. Press the off button. Shut your computer down. Turn off your phone or leave it at home. Even if it’s just for one afternoon, giving your eyes and fingers a break from the screen and keyboard will do you a world of good. It’s the simplest and most effective way to disconnect from your classmates, professors, and bosses. Limit yourself to checking your phone once a day, and shut it off again when you’re done.

It’s not always the easiest thing to step away from our professional and academic responsibilities, but giving yourself a break means you’re making a decision to invest into your long term health. The better care you take of your body and mind, the more stamina you’ll have to succeed.

Image: StokPic

CultureEducationExploreWellness

If you’re anything like me, you’ve read a ton of articles about finding the right career path or how to pursue your goals. You know the articles I’m talking about right? The ones that list pointers and ask you to write down what you’re good at (you have no idea), your interests (Netflix?), and visualize your ideal work environment (wherever you get paid). Then they tell you to “go for it” and “have courage” because the future is yours! It all sounds dramatic and you write down a solid to-do list, and you’re like heck yes. You take a second to check Facebook, text some friends, and a few hours later, your roadmap to success has transformed into another scrap of paper. You’re over it.

For some people, finding their passion came naturally. They sang in talent shows before they could even walk and now they’re on Broadway. Meanwhile, you’re having a quarter-life crisis wondering why you haven’t figured it out yet. Deep down, you do want to have those sleepless nights with bags under your eyes, working toward something you love. The issue isn’t your willingness for grit, it’s that you don’t even know where to start.

The truth is, it’s easy to get caught up in what you think you’re supposed to do or where to be – especially when your parents have expectations or when the goal is based on the size of your paycheck. On top of that, social media makes you painfully aware of the differences between your life and the lives of others. But it’s okay to be unsure of where you’re going. It’s okay that you don’t want the same things other people do. In fact, not all dreams should be pursued, and not all passions should be made into a career. On the flip side, just because something isn’t a career path doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it for the sake of pure enjoyment. The best part of not knowing exactly where to go or what to do, is just that – you don’t know where to go! It doesn’t have to be dreadful or frustrating, it should make you excited about life.

Fortunately, there are a million ways to stumble upon your dreams. Personally, I’m a big fan of wandering. This doesn’t mean you have to travel the world because let’s be honest, that’s pretty unrealistic. You’re not Julia Roberts in Eat.Pray.Love. What I mean by wandering is simply being open to what’s new and interesting, whatever that may be. If you’re in school, check out some new clubs. Not in school? Join Groupon & try new activities! Pick a non-profit that you believe in and volunteer! I think one of the best things you can do is to conduct as many informational interviews as possible. Expand your network. Not only can you gain mentors this way, but it will help you learn (without experiencing it firsthand) if the path could be right for you.

Think of this as a deductive process: keep checking things off that you don’t like, and as a result, you’ll be many steps closer to finding what you’re looking for. Safe to say, this is not a passive kind of wandering. You have to make sure that you wander honestly and unapologetically.

By that, I mean it’s not always fun or easy. Many times when people talk about pursuing dreams, they paint a pretty picture: Follow your heart, work hard, and you’ll live happily ever after. Yeah, sure. What I never read about is the emotional toll it takes on you and your relationships. You may find yourself feeling guilty, anxious, or even wrong when making decisions that are for you, and not anyone else. It’s the scariest thing on earth, but that comes with the territory. You can’t find your passion by lying to yourself.

While you are beginning to change and finding your place in the world, the people you love may not be down for the ride. You can’t blame them – they didn’t sign up for it, they didn’t agree to it, and it’s not their path. Because of that, their opinions can hold you back despite their best intentions. The more you grow, mature, and learn more about yourself, the more you may realize that some people around you aren’t meant to stick around. Brace yourself for the possibility that you may have to go through the journey without their blessing, but it’s only meant to make room for new people who deserve to be in your present and future. That’s not a comfortable idea, especially when “where you are” isn’t even bad at all. But if you want to be 80-years-old and in awe of the life you’ve lived, settling won’t get you there.

I can’t say there’s a “right” or “better” way to handle those situations, because the solution lies in your own personality, values, and what you can handle. All I can say is try to make the right decisions for you and be prepared to trust them wholeheartedly when they are questioned. Trust that they will lead you to where you belong. Trust that they will cultivate a life filled with love and genuine happiness in whatever path they take you. Trust that by being yourself, you will naturally attract others similar to you, and will push you to be better at whatever it is you embark upon. Success and happiness is different for everyone, so define yours. Just look at that girl who quit her $95k job to live on an island.

There’s a famous saying, “If you don’t write your own story, someone else will.” So make some big decisions and make some small ones that feel purposeful and fulfilling to you. Learn to take one fearful step in front of the other, and I promise the next step will be less wobbly than the last.

Image: Unsplash

Travel

With the wind whipping, snow slipping under my feet, and a view of the plunging cliff to my left, I had a full-blown panic attack on the side of the Grand Canyon.

But before I get into that, let’s rewind a little bit. During my sophomore year, I decided to detour from the beachy college spring break that I initially wanted to one that would be a complete adventure. I had never been to the American southwest and was looking forward to experiencing the open skies I had heard about and seeing the Grand Canyon in its entire splendor. Anyone who knows me can tell you that nature, hiking, and the outdoors is way out of my comfort zone, but I figured, why not try something new?

After a few days of exploring the sites around Phoenix, such as the Heard Museum and the Superstition Mountains, the plan was to drive toward the canyon and tackle its Bright Angel Trail, which the brochures listed as a difficult trail. From our entry point into the canyon to our destination point called Indian Garden and back would be a 9-mile journey. Why we chose this trail as novices, I will never know. But, that was the plan.

Waking up the morning of, I was uneasy knowing what I was about to do. A girl who had never even camped in her backyard before was about to hike one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  Before I had time to talk myself out of it, gear was on my back and spikes were on my shoes. Yes, spikes. Did I mention the Grand Canyon’s high elevation created snow and ice on the trails?

grand canyon

Now, we’re back at the beginning of the story. The first mile down the canyon was simply treacherous. I was slipping across the icy, narrow trails and trying, but failing, to not look over the 4,380-foot cliff immediately to my left. The deafening gusts of cold wind were clouding the encouraging voices of the people I was with and intensifying my fear. I couldn’t master using the snow spikes and I was convinced this adventurous spring break was surely going to be my last. It was then I felt my face go hot and all I stopped dead in my tracks. I sat down right where I was and just cried.

Okay, I did a bit more than cry. There was some hyperventilating and uncontrollable shaking, too. I finally understood what an “anxiety attack” was. There were hikers piling up behind me, but I didn’t care. I had no plans to move out of my fetal position and didn’t let anybody touch me. With the help of my then boyfriend, I realized there were only two choices: hike back up and let my fear get the best of me or keep going because we didn’t fly all the way to Arizona for nothing. Truth be told, I wanted to turn around, but something in me (likely, just my ego) told me I would regret it.

After about 20 minutes of calming and pep talk, I slowly got back up and continued on. Everything from this point was nearly smooth. At about two miles down, there was no more snow and, in fact, it was dessert-like and scorching. We made it to our picnic spot and turn around point, and headed back up on the same trail. Hiking back up had its own issues, but that story is for another time. What I will say, however, is once we reached the top of the canyon; we literally kissed the flat ground.

Hiking the Grand Canyon is surely the most terrifying, but rewarding, thing I have ever done. Its power is breathtaking, in all senses of the word, and humbling. You never realize how strong you are until you’re put into a challenging situation. Regardless of the temporary strife it caused me, the canyon was absolutely beautiful. What is beauty without a little bit of pain?

Images by Aysia Woods

CultureHealth

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been extremely fast-paced. I always expect everything in my life to happen instantly, and my strong desire for instant results often leaves me overwhelmed and exhausted.

I’m a highly competitive individual; I always mange to turn everything I do into some sort of competition by setting sharp deadlines to achieve my goals.

Recently, however, I’ve been self-assessing where I am in my life and where it is I am trying to go.

My answers came from a magazine advertisement I was reading one morning on my commute on the London tube.

It read, “Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day, and Neither Were You.” Inspired by the choice of words, I wrote it down in my notes section of my iPhone of things to look into later that week. Having heard the expression in literature and other numerous places before, I decided to research its origins. I learned it was a French proverb from the late 1100s, and it wasn’t translated into English until 1545.

By relating that phrase to my current life ambitions, I was able to further understand my journey of self-development. My interpretation of the phrase was that all things in life take time to create, and substantial things, such as the great city of Rome, take years to complete.

As humans, we should not set expectations to achieve great successes. We need to rewire how we think about our accomplishments. Ancients Rome’s vast network of developed roads, buildings, and modern advancements were not simply erected overnight. The empire recruited people from afar, and spent years developing into the great power it was known to be. Personal growth is essentially the same way. It takes time and lots of strategic planning, but the time logged pays off dramatically.

The constant search for instant gratification is something that, now being 25, I am getting better at channeling and understanding. Nothing in life comes easily, and the most rewarding things in life require work and perseverance. There are three avenues Generation-Y can relate to directly that include our strong desires for self-development and fulfillment:

  1. Professionally

I often feel the past eight years of my life have been extremely rushed, often making me feel unclear of my life plans. After high school, much like my counterparts, I went straight into university. Not knowing what to do after, I enrolled in a master’s program and soon after found myself working a 9-5 job from Monday to Friday in London. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with my choices, but I often wish that I had taken some time to fully explore my life options and develop my soul and inner character.

At the time, I was in a rush to finish my education and immediately start working. I realize I could have taken more time exploring all my options and really focusing on developing and fine tuning my interests while still in school. I was in such a rush to start making money and live a professional independent life that I sometimes fail to enjoy moments and absorb what I was working towards. Take time to fully develop your interests and life goals early on. There is no rush to finish university and immediately have a job lined up post graduation. This time aids in building character and self-awareness, which is essential in life.

  1. Personally

As any young professional living in a large scale global city has probably experienced before, personal development is an ongoing process in life. We are always changing mentally and emotionally, which directly affects how we feel and how we interact. Our social circles can be vastly divergent from spending time with a significant other, work colleagues, or friends.

Working and living in a new city takes time to adapt to. You need to give yourself ample time to set your foundations to achieve new and great heights. Big cities can often become overwhelming, and often you may feel as if you don’t know how you fit in, but self-development is a cycle of figuring out how your personal growth will continue to morph your life ethos.

Don’t rush getting to understand which social scene you think you belong to, or which Tinder match will become your destined life soul-mate. Live life and go with the flow.

  1. Physically

In the last few years, I have become obsessed with staying fit and maintaining my overall health. Though I have yet to adapt a stricter routine, I used to get frustrated seeing guys at the gym lifting three times more then I could.

Since then, however, I have learned to pace myself towards understanding that I will not have a six-pack overnight. Life is a balancing act where you must make continued and conscious health choices towards adapting a plan that is suitable for your busy and changing lifestyles.

If you want to achieve great things in life that garner longevity, much like the city of Rome, then perhaps consider reconditioning the ways you go about your daily life. Better ways of channeling your thoughts and desires are the key factor in establishing and setting yourself up for success. Good things take time, and rushing to reach the end is not the best solution.

Image: Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

It was a pleasure meeting Debbie Oberbillig on a gusty and grey Seattle afternoon. As Founder and President of Allen Partners, a business coach, and board member, Debbie is extremely busy. She was kind enough to sit down with us for an exclusive interview about her career path, what she would advise her 20-year-old self, and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Debbie is intelligent, insightful, and an inspiring leader, and we were very impressed, to say the least.

As further proof of her success as an entrepreneur, Debbie was a 2015 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards winner. We are not at all surprised by this, as Debbie has grown her company, which provides finance and accounting talent optimization services for companies of all sizes and industries in the Pacific Northwest, from the ground up. We admire the fact that Debbie is a hard worker, but that she is also curious about the world and gives back to her community. No matter how busy her schedule is, Debbie will make time to help others. We’ve been inspired by her, and now it’s your turn.

Name: Debbie Oberbillig
Follow: @AllenPartners

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Debbie Oberbillig: “Seizing Your Youth” is appreciating who you are in this moment, being open to opportunities and exploring the world around you. I have observed that people are really getting serious early and kids aren’t allowed to be kids anymore. I think that your twenties should be spent figuring out who you are. Don’t be afraid to try new things – be bold and be brave. See the world, join the Peace Corps, or move to a new city. Discover who you are in order to determine what you want. That might be counter-intuitive to what you think you need to do – there’s a lot of pressure to start your career right away – but now is the time to learn who you truly are, which will help you pursue a career that you can truly be passionate about.

CJ: What school did you attend for undergrad and how did you determine what to study?

DO:  I never graduated from university. I started working at 15-years-old and didn’t go to college until my thirties. My parents were children of the Depression so work was highly valued in my family. I also loved working and having money and the freedom that money gave me so I did not go to school right away. In my thirties I thought about getting a degree, so I started attending classes at a community college. I also took some classes at the University of Washington, but I got recruited by a great company and never finished. I originally was going to get a degree in business, but if I were to go back now I’d do something more fun like philosophy or psychology

CJ: You are the Founder and President of Allen Partners, a company you started in 2003 that provides finance and accounting talent optimization services for companies of all sizes and industries in the Pacific Northwest. What motivated you to start Allen Partners?

DO: My mom owned a successful agency similar to Allen Partners and I worked for her, which was where I learned the business. About the time my mom was getting ready to retire, I was recruited to work at Hall Kinion, another staffing firm, by a really smart woman who quickly became one of my professional mentors. With her guidance my specialty became organic growth, opening up new offices around the country. We grew the company from $3 million to $300 million while I was there. That experience and training is what led me to take the next step in my career, which for me was to start my own business.

CJ: What does your role as President entail?

DO: In the beginning I used to do everything. I’ve been a recruiter, a salesperson, the accountant – virtually everything. As we grew over the years I brought in two partners who also worked for the company and were passionate about its success. One of them is Director of Sales and Recruiting, running the sales division on a day-to-day basis, and one is the Director of Operations and Finance. As President, I focus on promoting the company by networking and continuing to grow our business with new clients.

CJ: Allen Partners focuses on employment intelligence and hiring smart. How do you go about recognizing and developing top talent? What are the most important skills to have in order to be considered “top talent”?

DO: Recognizing top talent is hard. It’s what all of our clients struggle with. It’s really a combination of practical and soft skills. A lot of people go to school and get their degrees and have practical work experience, but the determination of their success is equally based on soft skills. It’s just as important to be able to get along with people, communicate what you need, articulate what you’re looking for, and know what your values are. These are things that are not regularly taught or easy to teach and rarely thought about when attending college, but they are just as important.

Recognizing talent requires more than just looking at a resume, it takes a good conversation and asking the right questions to determine if candidates have the interpersonal skills, critical awareness and thinking abilities to not only do the job, but be an integral part of the team. It’s finding the right combination of hard and soft skills. It’s a secret sauce. Some people have it intrinsically and some people have to learn it.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from running your own company?

DO: I’ve learned a lot of lessons. When you have a business, it’s imperative to remember that culture and profit are equally important. If there’s no profit, there’s no company. Profit is not a dirty word. You can have fun and have a great culture, but in the end, if the company’s not making money it doesn’t succeed. There were times when I didn’t think enough about the bottom line, and other times when I thought about the bottom line too much. A successful company learns to balance people and profit. You have to really care about both.

CJ: In your role as President, leadership is important. How have you learned to lead and what does it meant to be a leader?

DO: I’ve learned a lot over the years through trial and error that has made me a better leader. You have to care about your people and be empathetic. You have to also hold people accountable and recognize that people won’t always like you or the decisions you have to make as a leader. You want to take care of people, and you also have to do the right thing for the company.

CJ: As a recruiter and leadership advisor, you have observed many different types of leadership. What are some ways young people can become better leaders?

DO: You can be a natural leader but also have leadership challenges. One of the biggest things that I’ve observed is that young leaders struggle with holding people accountable because they want to be liked. New leaders many times avoid the tough issues, but to be a great leader you have to address issues right away. If something comes up and it’s a problem, it’s up to you to tackle it. Giving people feedback isn’t necessarily bad, although you have to learn how to do it effectively.

The other thing is that sometimes people feel like they have arrived when they’ve been promoted, and they stop doing the work needed to be a great leader. Great leaders lead by example, which is an old-fashioned saying, but it’s really true.

CJ: Bellevue LifeSpring is an incredible organization that fosters stability and self-sufficiency for Bellevue’s children and their families through programs that feed, clothe, and educate. What do your duties as a Board Member involve?

DO: When I first joined the board, Bellevue LifeSpring was building up their staff, so I was able to put my recruiting skills to work right away, as well as offering human resources assistance until we hired someone who could handle it. I really believe in the organization so I am always involved in our events, either by sponsoring, volunteering or both.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

DO: Lately I’ve been spending a good part of the day working on something I’m really passionate about – growing my professional coaching business. Coaching helps people see things in a new way by asking specific questions that transform how they observe the world. By simply looking through a different lens, you can change the choices you make and consequently, the results in your life. I love helping others to change their lens.

I’ve also recently become a Daring Way™ Facilitator candidate, which is a bit of a different coaching style based on the philosophy and findings of Brené Brown; a research professor, bestselling author and a top TED Talk contributor.

Of course, I’m still very involved in Allen Partners, although I’ve been able to step back a bit, as I’ve mentioned, to allow myself time to grow these other areas of my life.

CJ: How do you stay organized and efficient?

DO: I’m naturally very detail-oriented, which helps me stay organized. I use Outlook for scheduling, and I’ve just started color-coding to track how much time I spend on my projects. There is no secret to balancing, whether you’re going to school full-time or working full-time. It takes practice and dedication.

I’ve started a new thing: in the morning I write in my gratitude journal while I have my first cup of coffee. I just sit by myself and I think for about 30 minutes each day. I’ve noticed that we just don’t spend enough time reflecting. After that time, I prioritize my day by writing down the top five things I need to do. I do those five things first, and then after that anything goes. When you limit it to the top five, you’re usually able to get it all done.

CJ: What is the best moment of your career so far?

DO: Right now! I’ve had a great career and I’ve been really lucky. I love everything that I do and it keeps getting better. My first jobs were office jobs where I worked 8am-5pm, and I just think right now is really fun because I have so much flexibility.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

DO: In my twenties, I didn’t have much of a life besides working and socializing. I would tell myself to travel more – try new things, meet new people. I got very serious about work too soon, which is why I now really encourage young people to “seize their youth!”

Debbie O Qs

CultureSkills

Oh, the plight of being nice. Kind. Polite. Harmless. Growing up, you’ve been told to put others first and give more than you receive. And kudos to all of the nice folks out there, you’re the heart-warmer of the group. The one that people go to for validation and encouragement. The one that would rather maintain harmony than cause a scene. People of the world appreciate nice people because of their willingness to help and listen. As a self-certified nice person, I will be the first to tell you that niceness, as fulfilling and pleasant as it may be, also comes with some serious baggage. Behold, the pros and cons of being nice:

DoNicePeopleFinishLast

The nice-person quandary is a tricky one. People begin to expect a certain level of empathy and consideration at all times. Think about the co-worker who assumes you’ll always take more work, or the peer that seems to always direct their favors to you, certain that you’ll make time for them. This makes being innately compassionate a draining distinction. It’s because of this that nice people finish last, in a sense that they put everyone before themselves. While the kindness gene in your body is screaming for you to save the world, there are situations in which you’d be better off passing up or confronting. So, how can you stay true to your caring nature yet create an air of authority?

Surround yourself with people that operate with a competitive edge.

They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Now this doesn’t mean you should outright ditch your core friend group, but spend more time than you usually would with people who react differently than you do. Try to examine how other people decline requests. Do they feel the need to explain why they are saying no? Are they steady in their response and apologetic only when need be? Know your boundaries when accepting opportunities to provide help. It’s also essential to command a presence that says you do more than just support, you can lead. Observe as many leadership styles as possible. Listen to how leaders at work, school, or in your community balance being assertive with being respected.

Maintain focus on your needs to succeed.

And furthermore, don’t feel guilty about it.

Nice people feel torn between serving others and tending to their own needs. If we start doing things that only benefit ourselves, we assume it’s out of selfishness. This is the nice person’s kryptonite. Realize that making yourself a priority is not selfish, but a sign of decisiveness and self-love. It is a true gift to be a thoughtful and intentional person. Keep that essence but be firm in your kindness, and never forget that being nice to yourself is a very good thing.

Image: Unsplash

CultureSkills

As soon as we put down the turkey leg and finished off our apple pie, we blinked and December was here. Even though we’re approaching the 2014 finish line, don’t let that slow you down. The last month of the year can be a new beginning for many different things – goals, activities, habits, skills, and adventures. The holiday season may present a packed calendar with parties, trips, and work to finish up, but don’t wait until 2015 to make resolutions, start something new, or to make self-improvements.

Here are some successful ways to wrap up 2014:

1. Tie up loose ends.

Finish up the remaining items on your to-do list, schedule those doctor appointments, and complete any lingering projects. This way, you can enjoy the holidays and have a fun time ringing in the New Year. Don’t bring unwanted baggage into 2015.

2. Spend quality time with friends and family.

Make time for loved ones. When the New Year begins, everyone will get busy and it’ll be a challenge to find time to spend together.

3. Say thank you.

Write thank you cards, make a phone call to express your gratitude, or mail a small gift to those who were there for you in 2014. If there are people who were influential in your personal or professional life, let them know how appreciative you are.

4. Accomplish resolutions from the beginning of 2014.

What resolutions did you make at the beginning of 2014 that have yet to be accomplished? Do them. We may only have one more month, but there is still plenty of time!

5. Learn a new skill.

You’ve got a month to learn a new skill. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to ski, improve your language skills, or learn how to efficiently use Excel. There’s no better time than now.

6. Take a weekend trip.

You may not have the time or funds to take a big trip this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a quick weekend escape. Sneak in one last adventure before the New Year.

7. Look forward.

Are major changes on the horizon? If not, do you want there to be changes? Think about what you hope to accomplish and start making adjustments in your habits and routine to make those changes a reality. Spend some time thinking about where you’d like to see yourself in 2015 and you’ll be setting yourself up for a great future.

8. Read one more book.

Don’t push off your reading list for 2015. Start now. Tomorrow you’ll be glad you did. In a reading rut? Here are some tips for how to make time to read.

9. Organize your life.

While ‘organizing your life’ is a great resolution for January, why not start getting things in order now? Organizing – whether it’s your physical space, your routine, or your overall organizational ‘system’ – can be a huge undertaking. Start small and pace yourself.

10. Give back to your community.

While it’s important to be involved in your community every month of the year, you may feel more inclined to give back during the holiday season. Don’t wait any longer to help and make a difference.

11. Improve your culinary skills.

There are a lot of delicious holiday-themed recipes and hearty meals that you can make for the cold winter months. Experiment with new ingredients, attempt a challenging recipe, and improve your cooking or baking skills so you can do more cooking at home in 2015.

12. Scrapbook or journal.

Before saying goodbye to 2014, print out photographs from special events that happened throughout the year and create a memory book. Write about how those events shaped you and why they are memorable. This is a great way to remember everything that you have accomplished during the year.

13. Develop good habits.

Trying to wake up earlier, exercise more, or spend less time on social media? Start forming good habits this month, and if any improvements need to be made later, that sounds like a pretty good 2015 resolution.

14. Take time to reflect.

Before the craziness of the holidays and the New Year begin, take some time for yourself. Revisit events that made you laugh and cry, remember the times when you felt hopeful, and meditate on the moments that were more challenging. Contemplate your successes, failures, goals, and accomplishments from 2014. Take pride in what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and think about what you want to take with you into 2015.

How are you wrapping up 2014?

*This article can be found on The Huffington Post.

Image: mt 23

Skills

In everyday life, it’s easy to get weighed down by what you are expected to do. Setting a challenge for yourself can be a great way to earn success on your own terms. It is exciting to meet and exceed a challenge. You can be rewarded with everything from material rewards, attention, bragging rights, learning new skills, and even doing some of your best work. Sometimes it is all of the above. Certain challenges have been around for years, and some are attractive because they are trendy. Picking the right event can be difficult. The trick is to find one that is constructive rather than destructive.

Some of the challenges that become the most popular are because they carry the most risk. For example, the Cinnamon Challenge seems fast and easy. All you have to do is swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in a minute. Yet, the challenge is very dangerous. It makes people choke, gag, and in extreme cases, could cause irritation or infection that could lead to death. The resulting challenge videos can be hilarious, but it should not be forgotten that it is a challenge with a risk. Is your health worth a stunt that lasts a few minutes? These kind of challenges will get you a little attention, but they come at a serious personal risk. Think of whether or not this is actually benefiting you. Just because it is popular does not mean it is a good thing to do.

Sometimes it can be hard to evaluate the merits of a challenge because it carries positive and negative repercussions. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge involves pouring a bucket of ice water over your head. It raised a lot of money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). However, it became popular among celebrities who lived in California, which is currently experiencing a drought. This lead people to complain about the waste of resources. Also, some people completed the challenge instead of donating money to the cause when donating money was the point of the challenge. The challenge was a noble idea in all the awareness it raised, but ultimately people had mixed feelings about it. This is another call to use your judgment. Doing charity work is good, but how many people did the challenge without even knowing what ALS was? Before participating in a challenge, educate yourself about what you are actually getting involved in.

Some challenges help give you the tools to work toward personal goals. Because I enjoy writing, I take part in writing challenges. There are challenges online such as NaNoWriMo, which is an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. In November, if you manage to write 50,000 words of a novel by the end of the month, you are entitled to prizes like five printed copies of your novel. Your accomplishments get you rewarded. Even without the reward, you will have written 50,000 words, which is impressive on its own. I participated in the challenge for the past few years because I enjoyed it so much. It requires some discipline and determination. That said, it is exciting trying to beat the deadline and it is euphoric when you do. I feel more motivated to write during that time more than any other time of the year because I am a part of something rather than on my own. It helps me work toward my ambitions, so I consider it a positive challenge.

Other challenges help you better yourself. Athletic challenges allow you to achieve a peak physical shape. There are challenges that have been around for years, such as marathons. There are many different fun types of marathons to join, one in particular being the Zombie Run, where runners disguised as zombies chase the other runners. You may win prizes like a t-shirt, but at the same time, there are many benefits to running a marathon. You can get in really good shape just by training for the marathon. Your physical endurance is in many ways its own reward.

Challenges are a great way to motivate and celebrate what we as people can accomplish. The rewards vary based on what you try, but the point is to make that effort and challenge yourself. Just be careful not to do anything that will hurt you or the people around you. Even if you fail, you can always try again. You can start at any time. After you finish one challenge, you can attempt another. I know many people who are always in training for their next marathon. I participate in NaNoWriMo every year because it inspires me to produce more than I ever did on my own. When the challenge is over, I have a manuscript to edit and improve upon for the rest of the year. These are perks that keep you moving forward once the challenge is over. Just knowing you attempted to challenge yourself is something you can carry with you forever. You can bring that confidence to your next challenge. When you do make your attempt, try to keep in mind whether the challenge will make you better, or if it will cause more harm than good.

Image: Picography

HealthSkills

Being a student isn’t a walk in the park. There’s always a paper to write, a homework assignment to complete, a book to read, a test to study for, and the list goes on.

This is why I like to think of both college and high school as four year careers. Sure, it doesn’t provide you with any kind of salary, but the lack of an income doesn’t stop any of you from hoping that all of your hard work will pay off in the end.

Why is that you ask? Well, I like to to think it’s because we all have a particular equation drilled into our heads. It might look different for you, but basically the equation goes like this:

Completing every assignment + Participating in class + Doing well on tests = __________

There are a number of outcomes to this mathematical problem. If you’re in high school, doing all of these things could mean getting straight As, graduating at the top of your class, and getting into the university of your dreams. In college, it could guarantee that you’ll make the Dean’s List every semester and possibly gain you admittance into your college’s honors program.

The point is, we all have our reasons for working hard in school. We all have short and long term goals that we strive to achieve during our scholarly careers.

But what happens when we don’t reach those goals? What happens when that equation, though simply put, becomes more complicated than we thought it would?

I know no one wants to think about the alternative to success. If we’re set on accomplishing all that we want to do, what is the point of thinking about that seven letter word that begins with an F? Some people might think they’re immune to this word because they’ve always gotten good grades, participated in class, and received stellar grades on their tests. While it’s always good to think positively and to never doubt yourself, it doesn’t do you any good to think you’re invincible or that the seven letter word, which almost always feels like a punch in the throat, will define us for the rest of our lives.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the word I’m talking about is failure. So many of us are afraid of it because, for whatever reason, we believe that if we ‘fail’ we have to automatically consider ourselves failures. Oftentimes, the standards of success and failure that we live by are the ones we set for ourselves.

Our greatest critic is the one living in our heads. No one else will be as hard on you as you are on yourself. This can be a good and a bad thing. Because while we have the ability to push ourselves to do better and to be better, we also can drive ourselves into a very negative place.

Failure is such a heavy word. And it hurts. Especially when you feel that you haven’t lived up to your idea of what success is. Again, we all have goals and dreams, but somewhere along our journey to achieving all that we set out to achieve, we forget that we are only human and that it’s okay to not succeed all the time.

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy and that I’ve never ‘failed’ in my life, otherwise I wouldn’t be saying this. However, I am writing from experience. This past year was hard for me because I was juggling six classes and set high expectations for myself. It really hurt when all of those expectations weren’t met. I started to see myself as a failure because I had ‘failed.’  As I’m sure a lot of you know, the bad thing about seeing yourself as a failure is that it affects every other aspect of your life. It makes you doubt yourself more and it makes you not want to strive for other things because you feel like it’s impossible for you to succeed now that you haven’t accomplished one or many of your goals.

Whether that goal is getting into the university of your dreams, making the Dean’s List, or graduating at the top of your class, don’t be so hard on yourself. You will always have opportunities to do better, be better, and learn from your mistakes. I know it hurts and I know you don’t see it now, but life will go on. You will be great and wonderful and you will not, I repeat, you WILL NOT be a failure if you ‘fail.’ If you have given something your all, that’s what truly matters. Don’t dwell on the past or what you haven’t accomplished because it’s only going to hinder future successes and, trust me, there will be an abundance of those if you continue to believe in yourself.

You just have to keep going and keep your head up; realize that not achieving a goal doesn’t make you a failure and being hard on yourself is not the answer to those questions that I posed earlier. If you don’t reach your goals, make new ones and try again. If you don’t get perfect grades or do well on a test, instead of wasting your time and energy on beating yourself over what you consider to be failures, learn from your mistakes and remember that failing, though it may hurt, is not a bad thing. How you deal with failure, on the other hand, is what can potentially tear you down and make you forget how amazing you truly are.

So again, don’t be so hard on yourself. I know this is easier said than done (trust me, I know) but once you relieve yourself from the guilt and the pain that tends to come with ‘failing,’ you’ll begin to see that success starts when you accept your failures and stop seeing yourself as one.

Image: morguefile