Why I was scared to take the plunge and why I’m glad I did

Whew. I’ve been in my new position for about a month and am happy to share that it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. I reread my post I wrote in early January (you can read it here) about the career change and it’s almost comical to me how nervous I was.

To recap, I left my position as a newspaper reporter – something I’ve been for the past three years – to accept a position in communications for a non-profit organization.

I won’t sugar coat it – I was scared. But I was scared for the wrong reasons. I was scared I would be unhappy; I was scared I would not be good at the new job and I was scared I would regret my decision.

After I thought about it, that scared feeling or uncertainty was for all the wrong reasons. I realized that I was scared I would be unhappy because I was comfortable in my job and familiar with what I was doing. I was scared I wouldn’t be good at the new job because I was good at my job as a reporter. I was scared I would regret the decision because staying in a situation is easier than making a change.

The reasons weren’t enough to stay and I am so glad that I took a chance on a new career. My new experience has been overwhelmingly positive and I thought I would share – in the event someone else is going through a similar situation – what can happen when you do take the plunge.

  1. You are treated as an equal
    I was never treated like a new employee. Yes, I had training, but my colleagues immediately treated me like an equal. They never once treated me like the new person who doesn’t know anything.
  2. Your ideas are valued
    On my second day, there was a large editing project. I expected to go into the conference room and see the process and then go back to my office to finish some training. They asked me to stay and help edit the proofs and give my feedback about what could be done to make it better. I gave some ideas and didn’t know if anything would come from it. They ended up making every change I suggested.
  3. You can have work-life balance
    This is something that I haven’t had for the past three years. Once I accepted the new job I realized that I was working each night until 7 or 8 p.m. and each Saturday until noon. I get to leave my job at the end of the day and actually leave work at work. I do not work or check emails on the weekend. This is new to me and I see now just how drastically important it is to have this balance.
  4. You will be challenged to be better
    In my position, I am very much part of a team. We constantly bounce ideas of each other and ask for opinions to make each project that we do that much more successful. The projects that I’ve done so far have been successful because of the help of the team. They have challenged me to do my best and be creative.

As you can see, it has been a positive experience for me so far. I am sure that there will be challenging days, but I already know after a month that I made the right decision. What about you? Have you made a similar decision or are you thinking about doing so? What was your experience?

What happens when you quit a job you like

I haven’t written about this yet because I wanted to give myself time to feel feelings and get some perspective on the topic, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this is going to be as good as it gets for the time being when it comes to perspective.

I recently accepted a job in another industry. I won’t go in to too much detail about the decision to leave my job, but what I will say is that the new position offers a little more opportunity for professional growth.

What made the decision even harder is that I really do like my job. I get to interview people and write articles for publication every day. In fact, it’s all I have known for the past four years. Since graduation, I have written for three different newspapers in two different states.

On Monday, I will start my job as a communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization. I will still get to write and interview people, but it will definitely be a new pace.

Although I am excited for the new opportunity, I definitely will miss being a reporter. I thought I would share some of the things that can happen when you give two weeks notice.

1) You will feel guilty

I understand that each situation is different and some people will not experience this, but in my case, I definitely experienced this one. Actual thoughts I had before quitting included: “this is awful,” “I could vomit,” “what if they hate me,” and “I’m going to let everyone down.”

I had to have a little pep talk with myself and remind myself that, it’s not personal. If you work hard, give proper notice, let them know you appreciate everything, then there is no reason to feel guilty.

2) It will be awkward

Everyone talks about giving two weeks notice and beginning the new opportunity. No one seems to talk about the two weeks you’re left working a job that you are about to leave. You have to be around co-workers who know you’re leaving and even if they are nice and encouraging, it can be an awkward situation.

I was talking with a friend and she reminded me that I was probably acting awkward myself, which was only feeding an already awkward situation. The next day I came in with a new attitude and it was way less awkward.

3) It’s normal to question yourself

Quitting a job, especially one you like, for a new opportunity can be intimidating. It comes down to a comfort thing. A job you know and like is comfortable and it can be hard to leave that.

I questioned whether I was making the right decision at least 12 times, but when I looked a the big picture and what I thought would be best for my career, I knew I was making the right decision.

4) Remember,  mother knows best

When you are feeling unsure about the subject, ask for advice. I did just that. My mother gave me some great advice when she reminded me that I’m not married to my job. Changing careers is normal and I won’t be the last to leave the company. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but it is a natural part of business.

I have one more week of work before I start the new job. I am sure I will continue to add to this list and write more about the new job in the future.

What about you? Have you experienced something similar or did you have a different experience?

Take A Chance Tuesday

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When I was considering accepting my current position as field editor of an agricultural newspaper, I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do. I’m from a rural area in northern Indiana and am familiar with agriculture, but I have never been a farm kid.

Although corn and beans fields surrounded the house I grew up in, my family didn’t farm. I even considered joining 4-H when I was in school but when it came down to only having the time to do athletics or 4-H, I chose athletics. I also considered joining FFA but at the time the organization mostly consisted of farm kids and I didn’t feel like I would fit in.

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I wondered if I would be able to keep up writing about something that I wasn’t overly familiar with. I thought there is no way I’m going to be able to talk with farmers, political leaders as well as business professionals and educators who live and breathe agriculture.

After a few days trying to decide what to do, I decided I would take a leap of faith and accept the position. I realized that, yes, I was scared about asking a stupid question about the industry or writing in a way that showed I was learning, but more than that, I was scared of moving for a job and finding out I didn’t like it. And I didn’t want that to stop me.

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Fast forward five months and I can tell you everything has worked out. I am incredibly happy in my position and have been pleasantly surprised at how kind everyone in the industry is. I can ask questions and those farmers and political leaders I was nervous to talk to and they will not only answer them but they’ll go above and beyond to give me the background of the subject.

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Along with, the overwhelming kindness I have received from coworkers, interviewees and everyone in between, I am happy that I took a chance.

By taking the position I have been given opportunities that I never would have had if I said no. I’ve been able to travel around the state and meet different kinds of people including a Colts football player, a Nascar driver and a Nascar team owner. I’ve experienced a historic barn tour as well as a boat tour of the Ohio River. I’ve also attended a wine festival and a restaurant opening where I got to sample different food dishes and then write about them. These are just a few of the experiences I never would have had without taking this opportunity.

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I never would have been paid to do these things without saying yes to the position and I am beyond thankful I did. I hope that others considering taking a chance on something will do so!

Have you had a similar situation? If so, tell me about it!

Facing your fears in small ways

They say that you should do something everyday that scares you. And I think a lot of times we think this has to be a big gesture. We think it has to be quitting our jobs and backpacking in Europe, skydiving, road tripping to the Grand Canyon when we only have $50 to our name or eating oysters or octopus at some upscale restaurant.

The truth is, it it doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as small as going for a jog or visiting the top floor of the John Hancock building. Read on to find how I’m facing my fears.

I don’t know when I became leery of heights. It could have been when I was in grade school and was climbing the fire tower at the state park. A group of girls feeling the same way as I decided to turn around and climb back down when we got to the top of the trees.

Or it could have been when I was a teenager at camp climbing the rock wall, walking across a cat walk and then zip lining down the hill.

Or maybe it was a few months ago when I took an elevator with my friend  to the top of a very large open-spaced tower and told her on the way up (after we bought tickets), “I should have probably told you I dislike heights.” I said laughing. She laughed and said “it’s okay, me too.” It didn’t help that it was VERY windy that day. We stepped on the rocking platform, looked at each other, and then turned back to the elevator to return to solid ground.

I’m not afraid of heights in the sense that I can’t function, cry or cling to the ground. I mean, I have been in tree houses (I was a kid, okay?) and I’ve been on several flights as well as to the top of many touristy buildings and I have survived them all, it just makes me uneasy sometimes.

Enter in my second illogical fear: chickens. One of my family members has raised chickens for years. They are so cute, and huggable when they are babies with soft feathers. When they grow up they are not cute. They are ugly (sorry, chickens). They sense fear. And they will chase you (trust me, I know).

So when I was visiting a high school for work last week to see the intercity agriculture program, I was not stoked to find out they had chickens. One of the high school students very kindly pulled out a “teenager” chicken for me to hold.

I gritted my teeth and held the chicken as I told the group of my dislike for the said chicken and they all had a good laugh.

My third, and probably most stupid fear, is of treadmills. Okay, it’s not like I start sweating at the sight of a treadmill and, no, I don’t start quivering when I think of them. And I’m not even embarrassed of looking less than glamorous while running on them.

I just really, really, really don’t like them.

I’m not the most coordinated of people. To run on a treadmill you have to run at the correct speed on a moving band – not too fast or you’ll step up on the non-moving part of the treadmill and trip and fall and not too slow or you’ll fall behind and slide off the moving band.

This illogical dislike of treadmills isn’t enough to keep me off of them. My “running” on a treadmill is really combination of walking and running for 30 minutes. I am trying to get over this dislike and I’m trying to get this “runner’s high” everyone talks so fondly of.

Until I master this art form I am so badly wanting to be good at I will continue to step on a treadmill all while being worried I might fall off.

Perhaps I’ll just forfeit the treadmill all together and move to running outside. That way the only thing I can trip over is my feet.

So, whoopty do, what does it all mean, Basil? What’s the point of this long post (thank you for reading this long post, by the way) about my dislikes? The point is although I don’t like these things, it doesn’t stop me from continuing to experience them.

I’m not saying that I’m the poster child of success, but I’m just saying it’s possible to deal with things you’re afraid of or things you dislike in small doses.

However, small or large, your fear is, don’t be afraid to try it again and again.

xoxo,

A

Things are happening

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Taking a chance is all the rage. Wait, do people say “all the rage,” anymore? Almost everywhere you look you can find a quote, phrase or fortune cookie with words of motivation meant to inspire action.

You don’t have to look very hard to find twenty-something lists urging you to take advantage of life, to not think, but to act and just go for it.

There are the common phrases go a little something like In the end you only regret the chances you didn’t take and take a chance, life’s too short and take a chance, you never know what will happen. All of which are valid advice.

Well, I took a chance. I thought about it, but I didn’t really think about it. I mean I did, but I didn’t. Like, I did in theory, but I didn’t think what it would actually be like? Am I confusing you yet?

Part of the reason I have been lacking in blog posts lately is due to this said chance I took. About three weeks ago I was offered a field editor position at a new newspaper in a new city. Before I knew it, I gave notice at my job, found an apartment, packed all of my things and moved.

Four days after I found the apartment I wanted, I packed all of my things in to my vehicle and on the fifth day (my last day at work) I drove to the new city, picked up my keys and moved what I could before returning home. The next day, six days after I first viewed the apartment, I drove back to the new city with a caravan of family members who graciously helped me move and by that evening I was alone, unpacking in my new apartment.

Three days later I started my new job. To say things are happening is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

It is all so very new to me. I moved out of my parent’s house and in to my own place in a city.

I’m learning my about my new job, which is a writing position at an agricultural newspaper and a lot of that is researching the subject matter. I went from covering local news to specifically covering agriculture state-wide.

I’m learning how to live by myself. I know I’ve talked before about it being different to live in your home town and back with your family, but it’s also different to live by yourself in a new city.

I’m learning how to meet people. I forgot how easy it was to meet people in college, when you have 60 friends instantly because you live on a crowded dorm floor together. It’s not as easy post college.

Although I’m learning all of these things I am SO very excited. Don’t be fooled, I’m also terrified, but mostly excited and optimistic.

A specific quote by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, comes to mind: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.

I plan to hustle aka work my ass off to succeed at all of these and more. I’m sure I’ll have some posts about the hilarity of failures, successes, “firsts” and more.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride, friends. xoxo

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Twenty-something slump

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Okay, I’ve caught myself having one of those weeks.  The kind of week where you find yourself crying over a video that went viral on Facebook, eating an entire bag of chocolate covered peanuts or clinging to the various twenty-something lists on Buzzfeed, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog and Upworthy.

It’s the week where it seems like everything just seems to be the “worst.”

For example, in the past 48 hours my car has gotten stuck in the snow three times. The first time it got stuck I spent an entire hour shoveling snow from my car. After the 60 minutes of shoveling I still had to be pulled out of the snow by another vehicle.

As a result of getting my car stuck in the snow, I had to get my car looked at because it was vibrating anytime I drove faster than 40 mph.

Because of the weather and my car needing to be worked on, I haven’t had time to work out in the past two days, which is usually a time I can let go and release stress.

Because of this I haven’t been writing – on this blog or in a notebook. I’ve sat down to write several times, but came up empty-handed.

Although none of these things are earth-shattering  or even a reason to complain, they have acted like a chain reaction of bad vibes and bad moods.

I turned all my frustration at these things in to questions. What am I doing? Am I doing a good job? Did that story I wrote two weeks ago turn out okay? Shouldn’t I be dating someone? Shouldn’t I be living in my own apartment? Again, what am I doing?

And then I randomly remembered something that happened three years ago and it magically made everything better. Three years ago I was eating brunch at a restaurant with two friends when I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize.

“Is this Amie ?”

“Yes it is…”

“Hi this is an Officer Johnson with the Bloomington Police. Do you drive a black Ford Focus?” 

Oh no, I must have left my car in an unauthorized parking spot. My car must have gotten hit. I must have dome something illegal – these were all legitimate thoughts running through my head.

“Yes I do…”

“You left your vehicle window down and a concerned citizen called us so we could let you know.”

That’s right. Someone was concerned enough about my window I left down – which was full of stuff that could have easily been taken – then they called  the police department and had them look up my phone number and alert me so I could roll my window up.

I don’t know why I remembered this three years later, but it changed my mood. There are miniscule, simple actions that can change everything. That day my car could have been soaked by a thunderstorm that took place 10 minutes later or items could have been stolen from my vehicle.

I never did find out who called, but I want to think them for turning my mood around.

I was talking with my friend recently about how it is confusing post-grad life is and she told me of a quote (I forget who by, naturally) that talks about your twenties and how they are not an overwhelmingly happy time – they are a lot of things, exciting, confusing, difficult and magical, but they are not happy all of the time.

More accurately they are filled of happy moments. Moments, like remembering a kind act that took place three years ago. Moments like catching up with a friend. Moments like doing something great at work. The twenties are full of these happy moments – you have to recognize them and enjoy them and remember them when you’re going through the not-so-happy moments.

xoxo,

-A

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Six truths of moving home

I have been living and working back in my hometown for over a year now. I write a lot about transitioning because that is what I have been doing for the past two years.

I graduated college to take an internship in a new city and new state. I went from being five minutes from friends and two hours from family to five hours from friends and 10 hours from family.

I spent a lot of time traveling and soul-searching. Right about the time I was used to the new area and new faces, I accepted a position at my hometown newspaper.

I didn’t know if I was making the right decision, but I considered myself lucky to have a position in my area of interest.

It hasn’t been easy. At times it has been boring, depressing, great and frustrating. Over the past 14 months I have learned (at least) six truths about moving back home.

1.)   Your friends have changed

After being away for four years, you won’t have the same friends you did in high school. If you’re like me, you didn’t keep in contact with many people after leaving town. Although some people might still be around, you will find you don’t know them anymore… and honestly you might not want to. Most of the time there is a reason you didn’t keep in contact. 

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2.)   Your friends haven’t changed at all

There are a few friends you’ve held on to. You can get together years later and pick up where you left off. You’ll find that after five years, friends have gotten married, had kids, matured, dated people and suffered break-ups. Although the topics of conversation will change, you will still be able to reminisce [and cringe] when recalling high school.

3.)   You have changed

This is a big one. You don’t want to do the same things you did in high school. You don’t want to waste your time with people who are not positive influences, always pushing you to be better. Whether it’s a friend or a relationship, you don’t want to waste your time with people or things that are negative influences.

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4.)   You’ll be bored at times

When you move home (at least my home) Starbucks isn’t open 24 hours, Jimmy Johns isn’t open until 4 a.m. and your options past 11 a.m. are Wal-Mart, Kroger, a small, local bar or Buffalo Wild Wings.

5.)   It is tough being single

When you see family and friends at holidays the first question they’ll ask is what you’re doing at work. The second question you will be asked is “so, are you seeing anyone special?”

And if your answer is no, you will get a look of pity or my personal favorite, the “you-still-have-time” response. Your friends will take it upon themselves to set you up with someone who is “so, totally perfect for you.” Also, if your friends are not single, it’s awkward to do things with them because they have “date nights” and you have “awkward-fifth-wheel” nights.

6.)   You’re still figuring it all out

The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine and made a joke about how I’m a single, 20-something who is living with my parents, barely making it on a newspaper reporter salary and still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

She reminded me this is what I want to do.

 She said, “Oh come on, you’ve always wanted this. Although it might not be as glamorous as you imagined, you’re doing what you want to do.”

And she’s right. I always said I would make a career as a writer and figure out what I want to do and where I want to be before I got married and had children. I wanted to figure things out before settling down. So, when I get discouraged and when I think I’m a mess and don’t have anything figured out, I will remember that.

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*All photos are from #thewriting.

A WordPress anniversary: two years later

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I logged in to my WordPress account to a “Happy Anniversary” notification. The announcement reminded me I started my blog two years ago.

In those two years a lot of things have changed, including my blog itself. I first started my blog under the name Hoosier Twenty Something.

The blog was purely experimental. I mentioned in my first post the fact I once said I would never blog and didn’t understand why it has become so popular. Of course I was a blogging rookie at that point.

Blogging is a platform to do, well, whatever you want to do. You can have a theme, talk about your thoughts about any subject. It’s a platform to express yourself in a way you can only do with a keyboard.

I started reading more blog posts – ranging from fashion to reviews to travel and a variety of other topics. I’ve found people are funny, insightful and talented. It’s always refreshing to  read something someone else writes and think “that’s so right” or “that’s exactly how I feel.”

Two years ago I was about to start my senior year of college and had a bucket list of items I wanted to complete (and I believe I did all but one or two). I went from college senior to college grad to missing college with a side of FOMO (failure of missing out) to writer trying to figure things out.

Most of my blogging has been centered around college-related subjects and that has changed. Since then I’ve worked four jobs and now my blog focuses on writing and people. I write, interview and talk with people daily for my job. I plan to continue expanding my writing and continue to document where my twenty somethings take me next. Thanks for the experience, WordPress, and here is to another two years.

A conversation with a teacher

Next in the series, collecting conversations,  I spoke with a teacher who not only has advice for twenty-something prospective teachers, but also isn’t afraid to participate in a 30-second Adele dance party.

Joan (pronounced Jo-Anne) is a science teacher who has the patience to work with seventh and eighth grade students daily. I would say that in itself is an accomplishment.

Joan has been teaching for 20 years. She spent the first nine years as a fifth grade teacher and next 11 in middle school science. She decided to go in to teaching when she was 26 years old and finished her degree when she was 31 years old.

“I was working in a dead end job as a secretary for a psychiatrist,” she said. “The therapists were loonier than the patients and I knew I wanted a degree and thought teaching would be interesting.”

Fast forward, Joan is in her early 50s and has experienced several ups and downs in the classroom. She has witnessed the change that comes with teaching.

“Even in just 20 years of teaching I have witnessed how much requirements are changing,” she said. “The system is standardized, rigid and students are now required to do so much testing.”

She said the best part of her job is the atmosphere of a school and the people she works with. The worst part of her job is dealing with parents who doesn’t believe their children can do wrong.

And as for her classroom, she said middle school students will always be middle school students.

“I’m  haunted by a child who has been eating boogers in my classroom this year,” she said.

Joan clarified seventh and eighth graders do, in fact, still exchange notes. She said she confiscates a lot but one that stuck out last year was a series of 80 questions between two individuals and one of the questions was “who invented masturbation?”

“I can’t make this stuff up,” she said.

Joan said advice she would give to twenty-something  teachers is to investigate requirements such as continuing education that will be required in the coming years and make sure it’s what he/she wants to do. She said she would also tell prospective teachers to be accountable and document curriculum covered in the classroom.

When asked if she thought new teachers knew what they were getting in to, she replied, “probably not, but I think that’s true of any job when you’re first starting out.”

The coolest lab (laboratory experiment) Joan has ever had in her class is an annual hot air balloon lab where students are required to make 6-feet tall hot air balloons out of tissue paper and launch them, with the help of faculty, using a gas grill.

Joan said the once piece of advice she says throughout each school years to students is that life is all about the choices you make.

In the future, Joan sees teaching becoming strictly computer, technology based. She said she wonders if teachers will become more like facilitators and students will do more online.

A look at a few of the questions
If someone asked you to participate in a thirty-second Adele dance party would you do it? Absolutely. (We then had a 30 second dance party to Rolling in the Deep)
What is something people don’t know about teaching?
I don’t think people truly know how much time we put in or how much of our own money we spend, especially grade-school teachers
How do you decide what age to focus on as a teacher?
Age is personal preference because some people can work better with younger kids more than older kids or vice versa. I did elementary education with a junior high endorsement in science. I have been happy with the age. I don’t like teaching high school students because they think they know everything.
Proudest moment?
Giving birth to my kids (She has two children in their twenties)
Scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Giving birth to my kids
Favorite genre, author, and book? Favorite movie you’ve seen lately?
Mystery/thriller, Harlan Coben and To Kill a Mocking Bird. Silver Linings Playbook.

Broke: twenty-something debt

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Having debt as a twenty something can be overwhelming. Most of us are familiar with student loans, car payments, phone and credit card bills and $3.86/gallon gas prices.

We’re trying to live, find ourselves and succeed and now we have to worry about paying back thousands of dollars? Real cool, life, real cool.

A friend of mine is 23 years old, finishing his Masters in June and then possibly working to get his PHD. He explained how stressed out the thought of the debt made him.

He said the best advice he received on the subject lately was from his mother who told him “lets be honest no one can afford college these days. Price goes up and jobs get paid less and less.”

It’s very true. Society requires requests (using the term loosely) we get a job to receive income. Most jobs require a college degree or high school diploma and on top of that, jobs require experience, unless it’s an entry-level position. So we have to get a degree and get a job to get a job because the description says 1+ years experience — what a conundrum.  Along this riddle-filled road we rack up debt.

And since winning the lottery or marrying a millionaire isn’t in our twenty-something favor we have to learn to cope with it.

1.) Focus on the positives. a.) Your student loans are a sign you went to school. b.) Your job, even if it’s not your dream job, is helping ease some of the debt. c.) You’re young and it’s okay your life isn’t 100% together. No one expects it to be.

2.) You can lower your monthly bill. Income-based payment plans are a godsend. You can likely adjust bills, like student loans, based on your income.

3.) Still spend money. Sounds counter-productive, right? I’m not saying go buy spend hundreds of dollars in a shopping spree or $50 on a steak dinner you eat in less than 30 minutes, but you can still spend money. Be smart. Create a budget even. If you spend all your time working and never go to events, a movie matinée or out with friends you will be miserable. There are plenty of free/low-cost events, especially in the spring and summer.

4.) Find a stress reliever. Whether it’s yoga, running, throwing darts at cut-out faces, or listening to scream-o music, find a release. Find a time when your mind isn’t constantly thinking about work, money. Even if it’s for ten minutes.

5.) Breathe.  Give yourself a break. Set goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Laugh, smile, cry, exercise, nap, be lazy, be productive, read, talk, write, love, travel, be kind and live.

Do not let twenty something debt keep you back from living.