Know Yourself Better This Year

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Make exploring your personality your top goal for 2020!

So here’s the thing, I’m kind of obsessed with self-reflection. I mean, I try not to be too self-involved but I am constantly trying to better understand myself if only to figure out why I am being so annoying. I’m an introvert who spends a lot of time in my own head, so I spend a lot of time self-reflecting and thinking about the way to respond to things in my life. I like to think Awkward Girl came out of a significant amount of self-awareness. In general, I think this examination has been super helpful in my own personal growth, but there’s more to it than just thinking about yourself. Here are some ways you can start the process of getting to know your own awkward self better. 

Start with easy to understand personality classifications. 

Most people have heard of the Myers Briggs personality types. I had to take the Myers Briggs assessment in high school and college even though I found it much more helpful the second time. This well-known typing system provides many free or low-cost test options and a wealth of online information to start to understand yourself. It can feel weird the first time you take one of these personality tests, but just answer with your first inclination and go with it. I consistently test as an INFP, which tells me I’m an “Idealist” who is quiet, a good listener, has high standards and wants to figure out meaning in my life (All of which are right on). This language gives you the ability to start to think about what motivates you and what the different parts of your personality mean when put together. After you get a handle on all this, you can use it to handle difficult situations better and interact with other personalities .

GET STARTED: Take the humanmetrics test to start your Myers Briggs journey. 

Some people swear by the Strengthsfinder 2.0 test. I’ve never taken this assessment but it makes sense that understanding your strengths could be helpful to learn what opportunities to embrace or how to work with others who may have different (but complementary) strengths.

Make Some Lists

Now, I understand that these lists will be much more appealing to certain personality types. I understand, but I can’t think of a better way to start thinking about your values, likes, and dislikes. Whether you want to creatively map all of this out, or just write some straightforward lists in your favorite notebook, the act of writing things down can help you think out how you feel about your life. 

GET STARTED: Here are some lists/ questions to think through to understand your personality and what drives you. 

  1. What are my top 5 favorite things? 
  2. What are my top 5 pet peeves?
  3. What 5-10 adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
  4. What do I value most in a relationship?
  5. What are my biggest fears? 
  6. What is your biggest regret?
  7. If you had a life motto, what would it be? 
  8. How do you deal with negative emotions/ideas?
  9. What would be a perfect day for you?
  10. What motivates you most?

Writing down an answer to these questions will probably start to highlight some things that seem defining in terms of who you are. Having all of this in your head can help you see how you align with personality classifications and can really help if you start exploring the enneagram (see the next one ;)) 

Dive in with the Enneagram

The Enneagram changed the game for me in terms of understanding myself. I cannot speak strongly enough about how much more I make sense to myself the more I explore the enneagram. Now, you might be wondering what the ennea-thingy is? 

The thing about the enneagram is it requires more mental investment than something like Myers Briggs. The experts will tell you not to take a free test for the enneagram although that’s what you’ve probably done for any other personality typing system. I’ll be honest, I took a free test to start, but I followed that up with a lot of research. To really understand your type, you’ll probably have to read some books and listen to some podcasts.

In the enneagram, there are 9 types with various subtypes. One of the experts, Ian Morgan Cron, author of The Road Back to You and host of the podcast Typology, describes the enneagram as, “an ancient personality typing system that identifies nine types of people and how they relate to one another and the world. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for understanding why we behave the way we do, and how our personalities are powerfully influenced by our motivations. It provides a framework for how we can begin to live into our most authentic selves, and also reveals the wisdom each personality type can offer to others.”

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Discovering your Enneagram number takes some listening, both to other people’s stories and to your own. You see, each number on the Enneagram tells a different story. And to find your number, you must listen to the stories of the different numbers until you find one that sounds like your own. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It is normal to relate to all nine of the types, so finding your Enneagram number can be tricky. But out of all the nine types, there is one which will strike a deep chord within you – perhaps a painful chord. There is one which will make you pause and say “the story that this number tells…it sounds like my story!” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There are many tests and quizzes for the Enneagram, but they are rarely accurate. Because tests and quizzes speak to behavior and traits, but your Enneagram number is actually determined more by your deep motivations, the core wounds that have shaped you, and the way in which you see and process the world around you. That’s why listening and reading to the stories of each Enneagram number is the best way to determine which number most describes you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The 9 types are commonly known by the following names: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1: The Perfectionist 2: The Helper 3: The Achiever 4: The Romantic 5: The Investigator 6: The Loyalist 7: The Enthusiast 8: The Challenger 9: The Peacemaker ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Any idea which number you are? Where are you in the process of discovery? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We have type descriptions on our website page “Find Your Type” (link in profile). Also, once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few different numbers, you can search our posts to read through the comments of others and listen for the ones that resonate most with you. Hot tip: you can find our posts on any specific type by searching for the hashtags #xoenneagramfours, #xoenneagramnines, etc.

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The thing that the enneagram has helped me with the most is understanding what motivates me, what healthy and unhealthy tendencies I have and how to grow towards health. It can feel really intimidating to learn about at first, but the first time you read something and think “That is so me… how did you know?” it’s so validating and helpful. 

Read and Write About It

Once you start exploring any of these ways to think about your personality, you’ll grow most by doing more reflection. Start journaling about your motivations and the way you react to things and what you identify with and don’t identify with about anything you’ve learned so far. 

If you really want to get into the enneagram but you’re too overwhelmed to start, there are some great courses you can pay for. I’ve heard great things about Ian Morgan Cron’s, “The Enneagram Made Simple” and Suzanne Stabile has a well-respected curriculum if you have a group wanting to learn. Both these enneagram experts also have books and podcasts and I’ve found that to be a great way to learn. 

I’ve also found a lot of great Instagram accounts that talk about the enneagram. Some of them are SUPER educational focused and some are more on the entertainment side, but the comments can be super helpful in learning about other people who have the same type as you. 

GET STARTED: Check out these Instagram accounts!

Know Yourself Better This Year

Last-Minute Gifts for Awkward Girls

Christmas is about a week away, and maybe you’re not quite done with your holiday shopping. It’s a fun time of year to give gifts to those you love, regardless of what you celebrate. The hustle and bustle of this time of year and PRESSURE of finding the perfect gift can be overwhelming, especially for the hard-to-buy-for people on your list.

Did you find yourself one week from a holiday celebration thinking “What should I get for my favorite awkward girl?”

As an awkward girl, I know it can be hard to find the perfect gift for those introverts out there. And maybe, just maybe, you’ve put off buying for those people on your list. Well, I’m here with some ideas that are quick and doable even if you need something ASAP (even if ASAP is tomorrow… I don’t know your life but I know my life and things happen).

All these gifts can be easy and doable in different price ranges. I also kept with things that you hopefully won’t have to pay for super expedited shipping and cross your fingers that everything arrives on time (let’s be honest… we’ve all been there).

An awkwardness- free opportunity to see friends is an easy present with no shipping and handling.

This is a simple gift but it can mean so much to your favorite awkward introvert. Though I need some alone time in my life, I love hanging out with friends and family. One of my big weaknesses, however, is asking people to hang out because I get so worried they don’t want to hang out with me. I’m bad at initiating a hangout session. If someone gifted me a lunch out or a platonic move date, I’d be thrilled. You can pick a place that is related to your awkward girl’s interests but that she wouldn’t go to alone or just plan a chill day at your place. Make a little card or buy the tickets or a gift certificate. Plan an afternoon or a weekend. This can also fit in most price ranges which is awesome!

Tap into favorite memories to pick a gift that will delight and surprise.

If you’ve known the awkward girl on your list for a while, pulling from your memories with them can inspire your gifts. Think the teapot Jim gives Pam in the early years of The Office (or pretty much any gift Leslie gives in Parks and Rec). Gift a memento or something you enjoyed in your younger days. Creating an album or some other photo gift is always an option too. You can lean sentimental or silly, but a memory gift allows the receiver to feel known and loved.

Don’t have a wealth of memories to pull from? Utilize a family member or spouse to still utilize a photo gift that brings up memories, even if you didn’t experience them yourself.

Handmade gifts are a personal and heartfelt gesture.

I know that “it’s the thought that counts” is a cliche, but it comes from a real yearning. It feels nice that someone has put real thought and effort into a gift no matter what it is. That’s why homemade gifts can be a great last-minute option. If you’re crafty, you can make something lovely. for example, I’ve knitted washcloths and sewn eye pillows. The magic of the internet allows you to find ideas and tutorials for almost anything. Cooking/ baking something is always nice too… who doesn’t love a delicious homemade treat?

If you’re not very crafty or a mess in the kitchen, check out options to purchase homemade goods from local shops, craft fairs, bakeries and the like. You’ll be supporting local makers and you’ll have a thoughtful gift to give.

She wants to stay in- help her keep it cozy!

Listen, any introvert will tell you that a night at home is a personal favorite. You don’t ever have to worry about being awkward or weird in your own space. So anything that provides a chance to make that chill time even cozier is an awkward girl’s dream. Soft blankets, pj’s, warm slippers or socks, a nice candle, and bath products are all relatively easy to find but always a win in my book. There are a lot of jokes about giving socks or a generic candle as a present, but they clearly weren’t written by me because I always love those gifts (As I type I’m wearing cozy slipper socks I got a couple of years ago… I rave about them all the time). And to be honest, not everyone is good about getting themselves items that are purely for comfort, which is why getting it as a gift is nice. Just try to pick something that’s not too generic- you can always find something that ties into their likes/ interests.

Keep the cozy option in mind for next year, too. Places like Etsy sell all sorts of candles, bath bombs and other cozy goodies that tie into someone’s favorite book, movie, TV show. This sort of thing always makes me feel extra good because someone chose something very related to my interests.

Give the gift of mail that’s tailor-made for her interests!

Ok… so I know Jelly of the Month club is another cliche joke about bad gifts, but hear me out! Subscription boxes are a BIG THING now and they offer a gift that keeps giving. Have the boxes sent directly to your awkward girl’s house means you don’t have to wrap anything or carry it along! Plus you can find a subscription box for almost any interest including books, makeup, cause-related goods, teas/coffees, snacks, food, almost anything. Having something lovely delivered right to my door is such a pleasant surprise and totally awkward girl approved. Even if you only purchase one month, it’s a nice way to get a tailored gift without all the work (and on a deadline… *REMINDER: YOU ONLY HAVE ONE WEEK).

Last-Minute Gifts for Awkward Girls

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Voting


element5-digital-1126225-unsplash.jpgIt’s that time of year again! It’s voting time! As an awkward person, everything about voting in person is scary and stressful, but it’s such an important part of the democratic process. The system doesn’t work unless we all get involved… even the awkward people. It’s too late for early voting (which is probably the easiest solution for you awkward folks out there), but you still don’t have to be stressed or scare yourself out of participating.  Voting is an awesome responsibility but it isn’t as nerve wracking as it can seem. In fact it is one of the quietest, most introverted ways to make your voice heard. So get to it! Here are some last minute tips to make it as painless as possible.

Find your reason.

Find an issue or a race that matters to you and makes you feel like your vote matters. There are no shortage of issues facing our states and country as a whole. A couple of them probably matter to you, even if you haven’t thought much about how the vote you cast plays a part. If you’re a woman, remember that suffragettes fought for years and went to jail to get you the right to vote. Reminding yourself of the purpose and value in the difficult action makes it easier to go, at least for me.

Declaration of Sentiments from Seneca Falls, NY, the location of the first Woman’s Rights Convention in the United States.

Do your research.

You can find your ballot online pretty easily. I usually use Vote411 but I’ve also used Ballotpedia. There are a lot of other personalized ballot tools online. If you’re in a more rural area, you might still end up with some local political races that you don’t know about, but you can find a lot of information about the statewide and national races you’ll be voting for. You can see, in many cases, overviews of the positions each candidate has.

From there you can also review their websites, interviews and social media interactions to try to get a sense of their positions. Understand that everyone is trying to say what they think you want to here, but you can get the basics to make an informed choice. Mark it on your ballot and print a copy to take with you. You don’t have to memorize your choices. Bring it with you and you can feel a little more confident in what you’ll have to do on voting day. It’s also a good idea to review your rights as a voter, just in case. Here’s a good resource from Rock the Vote

Make a plan.

Find your polling place and it’s hours. Again, a quick search will help you out. Figure out when you can fit voting into your schedule. Write it down. Block it off on your calendar. Don’t miss it. Factor in travel time and a bit of standing in line. Find a buddy to go with. Just have a solid plan that is feasibly built into your day. You can help yourself know what’s going to happen and hype yourself up for it. It will probably require a little more stress than your average day, but you can do it if you just think it through.

I also usually plan out other aspects of my day as well. I try to have an outfit planned (because a good outfit can make a good day better). If the outfit pays homage to suffragettes or matches my voting sticker- all the better! Having a lunch packed and a plan for the evening also helps because it helps me feel more in control of an out-of-the-ordinary day. Make sure you’ve located your voting card the night before as well!

Go at an unusual time.

Depending on where your live, certain time at a polling place can busy. Waiting in long lines of people talking about politics might seem like a nightmare for your poor awkward girl heart… at least it is for mine. If you can avoid peak voting times like the evening and during lunch, you might be better off. I try to go first thing in the morning. There are usually some people during that time, but I’ve always had luck getting through quickly.

Also be prepared to walk through a wall of people to to get in. Just put on a smile and let them know you’ve made your decision and keep walking. If anyone bothers you past that, please let someone know in the polling place. No one is supposed to harass you on your way to the poll. Also remember that your polling place is staffed by volunteers so offer them a smile too, if you can. Their might be some awkward interactions with them, but they also help the democratic process work.

Give yourself a reward.

My husband once made me this sticker because I was mad I didn’t get an official one. He’s a good guy.

Ok, you did it! You voted. Now treat yourself to something a little bit special! I almost always go out for a coffee and a scone before work since I have to get up earlier than usual on voting day. But if you’re not into that sort of treat, treat yourself to some extra couch time after work or a special dinner. Anything that adds a little fun into a stressful day and allows you to look forward to a reward. Hopefully you’ll also get a sticker because there’s something magic about getting rewarded with a sticker (or is that just me?).

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Voting

International Traveling for First-Timers

qPfq3m9FXkWYUfVRCfqmrPksJxhbLxf2wOxHXAQBpzwpX92IBI just returned from my first big independent trip abroad and let me tell you, there is nothing quite like it. As an awkward girl, travelling to 3 countries (four if you count airports) was a big undertaking that I was very nervous about. No matter how much research I did, I knew things would go wrong (they did). But it was an amazing experience and I learned a lot of ways to get through the world as an awkward girl. I may go a little deeper into things we learned, but I’m going to start with my overall awkward girl traveling tips.

A partner helps.

Relaxing with my partner-in-travel and life on our terrace in Rome.

I took this trip with my husband and I can’t deny that having a travel buddy that leans toward extroversion was really helpful. You don’t have to have a romantic partner for this to work, however, a friend or family member  who knows you well can aid by stepping in when the awkward gets to be too much. There we times when walking into a restaurant seemed impossible or asking for help was really scary but my husband can usually tell when to pus me out of my comfort zone and took charge when I needed
to. Plus, two heads are better than one when it comes to problem-solving. And sharing experiences with someone you care about is all the more fun. Plenty of people enjoy traveling alone, but, for my unique brand of awkwardness prefers a partner.

Travelling light keeps you mobile.

This was my only luggage for our nearly 2 week trip.

When I first announced that I wanted to do the whole trip in carry-on bags, my husband basically looked at me like I had casually requested we detach our heads from our body. This decision, which I made after a lot of research, was probably the best one we made on the trip. We wanted to do a lot of our travel via public transportation and trains and we always had a decent commute to the places we stayed. With a carry on and a shoulder bag each, we could move around pretty easily. There were a couple of factors that made our light travel easier:

  •  travel cubes and rolling clothes
  • a decent-sized, expandable carry-on.
  • limited liquids (I switched to bar shampoo, stick foundation, etc to help with this).
  • laundry facilities or the willingness to re-wear clothes.

We had a washer at our final rental and set some time on a travel day for laundry and honestly, other than that, our light travelling was pretty easy. I also packed a small duffel for later in the trip so we could have a little more flexibility to check some bags on the way home.

Over-scheduling leads to anxiety.

Over-scheduling meant we had to rush through the Globe exhibit very quickly before closing, but at least we took some good pictures outside.

It’s no surprise that we overbooked our itinerary for this trip. Since this sort of trip had been the matter of our dreams for many years, there was so much we wanted to see and we didn’t want to waste our time. The thing that lead to the most consistent frustration was timing and exhaustion from packing our schedule full of too many items and not leaving enough time for lines, exploration and travel time. For this trip we struggled because we know it’s going to be a long while before we make it overseas again, and we wanted to see as much as we possibly can. But our ideas weren’t exactly realistic, which I think we knew secretly. The “sleep when the trip is over” mentality leads to a less pleasant trip with more bickering, in my experience.

You really should try new things…duh.. but really.

Despite my deep fear of heights, I greatly enjoyed the London Eye… not so much the Eiffel Tower.

When you’re a first time international traveler, the whole experience is new, so this advice can seem super simple. There will be opportunities, while on this journey, to push outside your boundaries in ways you hadn’t thought of yet. Order something you would never order. Have experiences you wouldn’t normally attempt. On this trip, our experimentation was usually in food and drinks. We drank spring mineral water in Bath and did a shot of espresso in Rome after a meal because, of course. My husband tried escargot. I’m terrified of heights but I had to do the London Eye and the Eiffel Tower.  We are by no means the most adventurous travelers the world has ever seen, but there were definitely times when we had choice between the comfortable and out-of-our-norm and we tried to choose the latter. It made the trip better. I did cry at the top of the Eiffel Tower, though.

Find some comfort measures to keep you grounded.

Our fearless English-speaking tour guide for Mont Saint Michel.

There were definitely days when we just felt overwhelmed by everything new. From not knowing the language or where we’re going, to the day my phone got stolen, there were days when we needed something familiar. In many cases ending the night a little early and going back to our place to stay was helpful (and it also helped with our general exhaustion). We also ate at American dining chains for dinner two nights, just so ordering and eating wouldn’t have to be an ordeal. It felt kind of like a failure at the time, but honestly it was nice to be able to chill out. Having a couple of tours booked in English also helped. We didn’t do a lot of guided tours but we did have two semi-guided tours which gave us a brief respite from feeling surrounded by unfamiliarity.

Have a back-up plan.

An amusing warning sign from the Vatican Museum’s spiral staircase.

Establishing some back-up plans give you something to turn to if something goes wrong. What would you do if your phone, wallet or passport was stolen? As I mentioned before, my phone was stolen in Rome, so having my tablet/e reader as a backup device helped a great deal for our last day of tourist-ing and our final travel day. It’s also good to have a back up plan for your day in case the weather changes or the museum you were planning on attending was unexpectedly closed.  You can’t possibly plan for all eventualities but you’ll feel a little bit more comfortable if you have some things in place.

International Traveling for First-Timers

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Attending a Professional Conference

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It’s been almost a year since I’ve been blogging here on An Awkward Girl’s Guide. I’ve found that it’s very difficult to produce content all day for work and then come home and do more. What a writer’s dilemma.

I just came back from Content Marketing World, and I’ve been feeling incredibly inspired.

When anything is your job and your passion, it’s easy to get a little cynical and burnt out. Good professional enrichment is essential, and a professional conference is one great way to get on fire for your work again!

As an awkward girl, a professional conference also come with stresses. I hadn’t been to a professional conference since becoming a real-deal professional, so there were some things that worried my awkward little heart. I have some ideas of how to overcome your fears and have a wonderfully productive professional conference experience.

Set Goals for the Conference

When you’re looking through the schedule before you leave, set yourself some goals for the conference. Are you looking to network, or wanting to focus on learning? Is there a resource or provider information you want to come home with? Are you going alone or with some collegues?

All these factors will affect how you proceed with your time at a professional conference. If you’re hoping to network, you’ll be sure to be at those events, but if learning is your main goal, you’ll prioritize the educational sessions. I found in order to get a good seat in a session, I didn’t have much time for the networking breaks. Since I was attending with my bosses and networking wasn’t my goal, that was ok! You can’t possibly do everything at a busy professional conference like Content Marketing World, but having goals made my decisions easy.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Plan a couple of things at a professional conference that are a little out of your comfort zone. One of my favorite sessions was one that I attended just because I thought it was a good “business choice.” After all that, a session about Return on Investment (which is typically a very math-heavy subject) ended up being wildly helpful and inspirational. I never would have guessed.

In the same line, any time I struck up a conversation with people around me, I was pretty nervous. My awkwardness is not always conducive to small talk. I didn’t ignore my introverted personality entirely at Content Marketing World, but I did find getting out of my comfort zone a little bit improved the experience.

Don’t Ignore a Refresher Session

As a professional writer, I tried not to take too many sessions that were just about the craft of writing. I didn’t want to sit in a lot of sessions where I knew all the concepts already. However, the writing sessions I did attend were incredibly instructional. I took a class about using journalism skills in content, even though I went to school for journalism, and I still found new concepts and ideas I hadn’t thought of before.

I would have missed out on some great learnings if I’d avoided all the sessions that seemed like they were about things I should already know. Not only that, but hearing fellow writers talk about how their careers have progressed and what drives them was incredibly inspiring. I left the conference itching to write and it had been a long time since I’d felt that sort of itch.

2018-09-07_23-55-35_000Gamify the Experience

When you’re nervous, making a professional conference into a game takes some of the pressure off. If you need to make up a point system, do it! There’s plenty of research that gamifying work helps you get it done. If the expo hall makes you nervous, try to get as much swag as possible by talking to and learning about providers.

For me, I gamified getting from session to session because I was nervous about being last in line or entering late. Strategizing my timing helped keep me confident and I always beat the majority of the lunch line (food is a powerful motivator, my friends).

Take Notes

Taking notes helps me feel professional and helps keep me focused. When you’re waking up early and rushing around, it’s easy to feel tired and distracted, especially towards the end of the day. Taking notes helps focus your brain. I find an old school notebook the best for that but plenty of people were typing. I find a computer or my phone just another avenue for distractions.

In the case of Content Marketing World, we had access to presentations after the fact, but I still liked to take my own notes. I also found it helpful to keep an idea list, because I was coming up with tangential ideas throughout the whole event that I’m excited to bring to the office next week.

2018-09-07_23-56-11_000.pngLeave Some Recovery Time in Your Schedule

Running yourself ragged at a professional conference will probably counteract all the learning and inspiration you’re experiencing, especially if you’re an awkward introvert like me. For me, having a quiet breakfast and dinner counteracted a day of running around. I also avoided some of the evening fun activities because resting and taking my introvert time was essential.

If you need some time during the day, you can always find a quiet corner or skip a session block that you find less interesting. Give yourself the time you need to keep the experience productive. This is extra important if you have to go straight from a conference back into a work day.


An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Attending a Professional Conference



alisa-anton-166247I take a lot of “content” in each week. I love to read and I am constantly listening to podcasts at work, on my commute and at home. Some things really stand out, and to be honestly, I rarely get a chance to reflect or talk about how much I love certain stories with which I’ve interacted because I’m awkward and I don’t want to force others to listen to my nerdy ranting.  Since this is a place where I’m supposed to be nerdy and rant… here we go!

The three best stories I experienced in the last week are below. There’s a lot of women writing and suffering this week so… sorry about that? I’m not sorry. I got a lot out of reading these things this week.

A Tale Of Two Sylvias: On the Letters Cover Controversy by Nichole LeFebvre
I ran across this article randomly on Facebook and it gave me so much to think about. How women are portrayed is important to me, but trying to solve inequality by holding women to impossibly high standards isn’t the answer. Basically truth isn’t simple, but this article was an interesting way to explore it and it made me want to read more Sylvia Plath.

Emily Dickinson’s Legacy Is Incomplete Without Discussing Trauma by Isabel C. Legarda
My mom and I are pretty big Emily Dickinson fans. We’ve visited the home she spent most of her too-short life in (it’s a good museum and you should go). This was a thought I’d never had about Emily Dickinson but the author does point out some compelling evidence of trauma in her life. As a mental health advocate, there was a lot to thinking about here. And we’ll never know what was going on behind the scene in Dickinson’s life, but if people who are struggling can find something new in her writing because of this perspective, it’s a valuable one. It makes me sad for her and all the women who have suffered and are suffering under oppression and wrote beautiful things.

What Else by Carolyn Locke
I love fall. I love poetry. I think we all have a lot to learn from both. I’ve been turning to poetry a lot for dealing with the sadness but also beauty that persists in our world. Fall provides some insight into that intersection as well, because leaves die so beautifully. In this poem with just four words all this is summed up in my heart: “impossible light, improbable hope.” I hope you find impossible light and improbable hope this season.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash


An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Participating in WSPD

DJNMJahXgAEcbDFSunday is World Suicide Prevention Day. It can be hard to raise awareness when you’re an awkward girl and you don’t just want to bring suicide up in your everyday conversations. These conversations are especially hard if you have a personal connection to suicide loss or if you’re worried that you won’t know how suicide has affected others around you.

I personally wanted to step up my participation this year so I came up with some ideas for participating that will work for all kinds of awkward people.

  1. Donated to a reputable organization. Consider To Write Love On Her Arms, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  2. Wear some swag. I’ll be wearing my TWLOHA “Stay” Shirt.
  3. Random acts of kindness. Leave friendly notes, info cards, kindness rocks etc that reference the hashtag #WSPD.
  4. Tell your story if you have one and you feel ready. It can help you and it can help others to know they aren’t alone.
  5. Amplify the stories of others. If you don’t have your own story or aren’t comfortable sharing it yet, share the stories of others who have decided to share.
  6. Remind people in your life that you love them and that their existence matters to them.
  7. Learn the signs that someone might commit suicide and what you can do to help.
  8. Share facts and stats about mental health and suicide on social media. Here’s a great resource for that.
  9. Share a selfie. Tell us why you were made for and use the hashtags #WSPD and #StopSuicide.
  10. Take an assessment. If you struggle but have never pursued a diagnosis, try starting with a basic assessment.
  11. Become an Advocate. There are lots of places you can advocate, including signing this petition to show a Pittsburgh college reconsider Honor Code language that promotes mental health stigma.
An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Participating in WSPD

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Getting Mental Health Help in College

jeremy-bishop-131058.jpgWhen stressed by school, you might not have time to exercise or wait a little too long to go to the doctor about your cough. Similarly, sometimes it’s easy to ignore mental health concerns when you’re busy with school. Mental health issues are becoming a larger and larger issue on college campuses and students often don’t know how to begin addressing their concerns with their mental health. Some colleges are more supportive than others, but regardless, there are attainable ways for you to get any help you need. You’re not alone.

Self-harm is estimated to affect up to a third of college students. One in 12 college students admit to having had suicidal thoughts. My college friends and I had many encounters with mental health in school. Dealing with these situations was stressful and at times alienating. I also learned from these experiences that help is out there. Here are a couple of places you can start if you’re struggling with your mental health.

  1. SELF-EVALUATE. Think about the feelings and difficulties you are experiencing. Are you overwhelmed? Frequently and uncontrollably depressed? Having trouble sleeping? Write these feelings and any potential triggers down. This resource will make it much easier to talk with providers about your experience.  ULifeline provides a free, online quiz that allows you to get a general self evaluation of your mental health. This doesn’t replace a visit to a professional in any way, but it’s a good place to start. Psychology Today also has a mental health evaluation if you’d prefer not to enter any information about yourself.

  2. EXPLORE YOUR SCHOOL’S RESOURCES. You can start by searching online if you’re nervous about asking someone. Your R.A. or school wellness center will likely be able to help you learn more… in fact, that’s what they’re there for. ULifeline also allows you to search for services by school, although it’s not comprehensive. Starting with the services your school offers is the most convenient route since they are set up for students. If you don’t feel like these services are working for you, they can also refer you. Some schools offer counseling at a reduced price from grad students in their counselling programs. This is an affordable option to look into if it’s available in your area.

  3. LOOK FOR OUTSIDE HELP. If your school doesn’t offer sufficient services or you want to avoid them for any reason, you can look for help outside the school. Psychology Today has a great listing of therapists and psychologists depending on your needs. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), provides 24/7 info to help you connect with treatment options. Checking what is covered by your insurance can also help. You can also try online/ text therapy if you’re in a pinch, such as Talkspace and Better Help. If you are in immediate need of help and feel like you want to end your life, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or you can text the Crisis Text Line by sending CONNECT to 741741. These are good numbers to have written down somewhere in case you need them or are with someone who needs them. Both are available 24/7,  free and confidential.

  4. GIVE IT TIME. Finding treatment that works can be difficult with mental illnesses. The process can be scary and it can feel so hard, especially as you’re also trying to keep up with your life at college. Take the time to invest in your health and you may help prevent a major, debilitating crisis.  It’s important that you give the process time. It may take a couple of trys to find the right therapist/provider. It’s common to take more than one try to get the right fit. Don’t be discouraged, your comfort is important and this is worth the time. Also, talk to your psychologist/psychiatrists about any issues you experience with medicines and treatments. This will involve going out of your comfort zone but it’s all part of the process of finding something that works for your needs.Many antidepressants and other mental health treatments take 4-6 weeks to reach full effect and some can have some temporary side effects when first starting that you’ll eventually adjust to.

  5. STAY HOPEFUL. You are not alone in this process. Hope is real and help is out there. It may help to read stories of others going through similar challenges. You can find such stories on the To Write Love On Her Arms Blog and The Mighty. You can find many supportive groups online and there might even be some in your area. But if you aren’t ready for a public support group, virtual options are out there too. Knowing you aren’t alone and that others have gotten through their darkest times can be just the seed of hope you need to get through another day.



Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Getting Mental Health Help in College

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Do-It-Yourself


I’ve always been a DIY kind of person. Owning my own house has led to a definite increase in my desire and ability to take on bigger and more intense DIY projects. Sometimes I stay in my comfort zone, but sometimes I decide to try some new ideas which opens me up to all sorts of awkwardness. These projects can be pretty intimidating and sometimes that can be so stressful to me that it makes me want to drop the endeavor half way through. I’ve found some ways to offset awkwardness and overcome anxiety to get projects done and enjoy myself while doing it.

  1. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This is basically my number one tip for everything. Preparedness helps make almost any awkward task a little less awkward. The internet is full of resources for DIY projects and inspiration. Obviously Pinterest is DIY haven, YouTube often has video tutorials and doing a regular old Google Search is also invaluable.Look into the project steps, skill-level and necessary materials. This will help you with the shopping process and project implementation. Sometimes getting supplies can be overwhelming without research. For me, it’s when I have to walk into a home improvement store and pretend that I know what I’m doing. Research really helps. So does calling my parents from the store but that might just be me. 
  2. ANALYZE RISK. It’s important to figure out how much you’re risking if a project goes badly. This can help you decide whether to attempt a DIY or not. Sometimes it isn’t worth it to try to do your own plumbing or sew your own wedding dress (Author’s note: I have never tried either of these things. Attempt at your own risk and depending on your own talents). If you might lose a lot of money or destroy something that matters a lot to you, think long and hard about taking the DIY approach. If you got some outdoor furniture for free  (true story) or something from a yard sale that you want to repurpose, you can take some pretty big risks because you’re not investing much. Thinking this through also helps me from being paralyzed by the fear of messing up and without that fear your projects can turn out even better than you thought.
  3. SEEK ASSISTANCE. If you have a friend or family member who is also into the kind of DIY you are attempting, find a casual way to ask their advice. This can be a good conversation starter if you’re nervous about small talk and they will always have some tidbits you might not have considered. You might even be able to get some in-person help with your project or at least have a person to call when you are panicking.
  4. BORROW STUFF. Though DIY projects often have a money saving goal, the supplies and tools can add up in surprising ways. If you need something you’re never going to use again, ask around to see if anyone has one they can lend you or if you can rent it or buy it used. It can be wise to invest in tools for a hobby you’re hoping to pick up regularly (like knitting or sewing) but if you have a one-time need for a power washer or circular saw, you’re going to want to avoid buying one. Some cities even have spaces where you can borrow/ rent certain types of tools. That can be a scary environment, but it also can be a great way to meet new people with similar hobbies if you’re into that sort of thing.
  5. MANAGEABLE  STEPS.  Now you just need to DO the project and that can be an undertaking. If you’ve done all the other steps, you should be really ready. Still, it can seem like you have way too much to do and way too little time. I like to give myself small tasks with decent amounts of time. I don’t like to give myself overwhelming deadlines, but I do like to work from mini to-do lists that break the project up. If you have a whole Saturday to dedicate to a project, that’s awesome, but that might be a rare occurrence so aim to get little windows of time You can even use your DIY project as something to look forward to in the evenings  after work.

Have you undertaken any DIY projects lately? Share your pictures and your awkward stories in the comments.

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Do-It-Yourself

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Pet Ownership


If you’re an awkward person and a pet lover you’ve likely already uncovered the secret that your pet doesn’t care how awkward you are. It can be magical to have a companion who loves you whether you’re fixating on something stupid or feeling nervous unnecessarily. There are also some aspects of pet ownership that requires talking to strangers and doing awkward things.

I wouldn’t ever trade my dog Rosie, even when I get nervous about vet trips or interactions at the dog park. She loves me and comforts me no matter how awkward, goofy or sad I am. I have figured out some tricks to alleviate my awkward girl moments when it comes to dog ownership.

    1. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Before you decide to get a pet, start doing your research. When it comes to adopting a pet, you’ll have to talk to many people. It helps if you have a pet in mind. Start with generally researching what breeds and age will work for your. Apps like PetFinder and shelter website can help you pinpoint animals that might be right for you. Research what questions to ask and what to look for when you have a pet home visit (which I totally recommend). When it’s time to go through the process of adopting a pet, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for and how to say it…even if it’s a nervous or awkward situation.

      This step can also be a little addictive. I can’t tell you how much time I spent on Pet Finder before I found my Rosie. But when her foster mom brought her to visit we were comfortable enough to figure out if she was as good a fit as we hoped.

    2. SET GOALS. Before you choose your pet, know what you want from this pet. Do you want a dog that can go on runs with you? Are you looking for a quieter pet? Are you equipped to train a new puppy/kitty or are you looking for a little more experienced pet? Stress with pets can occur when you end up with one that doesn’t fit your expectations and hopes.

      My husband and I were looking for a quiet, calm pet that could handle time at home while we were both at work.  For that reason, we decided to adopt a senior dog who had some minor health problems (she’s partially deaf and arthritic). We got to give a home to an age group who has trouble getting adopted and fulfill our pet goals. We also understood that new command-based training wasn’t really an option for us. Having realistic expectations based on what we were looking for in a pet helps us not to get caught up in the things she can’t do.

    3. KNOW YOUR PET. Spend time getting to know your pet and let that inform your decisions. You’ll start to understand when your pet isn’t feeling well or is anxious and you can take the appropriate actions to remedy the situation. This will keep you from being in an awkward situation where you miss out on an illness or a sign of oncoming aggression. You know what your pet can handle and what makes them a little out of control, which is very important when other animals or people are around.

      Just like you know what things can trigger a negative reaction from you, you can also get a pretty good idea of what will trigger a negative experience with your pet. Avoid those situations if you can. If something negative does happen, forgive yourself and your pet. You can’t always be in control and that’s ok. While you can apologize in the moment and treat any issues with the proper training, etc., don’t fixate on one little circumstance forever. Loving and forgiving your pet and yourself is an important life lesson.

    4. FIND A GOOD VET, GROOMER, ETC. Pet care providers are all different. Check out reviews before you choose a new provider and when you’re testing them out, look for a good fit. A vet that you feel comfortable interacting with and asking questions makes a huge difference. It’s pretty easy to bond with pet providers because they care about your pet and so do you. This is one social benefit of a pet, because it’s always easier to talk to other pet people. You have a built in shared interest! This is just as important at a vet or groomer visit as it is at the dog park or in a pet store.

      It can be stressful to try to figure out what a good fit feels like especially if you are a first time pet owner, but in time you’ll figure it out. For your first vet or groomer visit have some questions ready. The way a provider answers your questions will tell you a lot about how they work and whether they work with your personality. In the future this relationship will help you if you run into question or issues.

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Pet Ownership