This Week’s Reading/ Listening

juja-han-210777I 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.

  1. Episode 10- Headstone: Breath and Bone by the Human/Ordinary podcast
    I was introduced to this podcast just this week through the Strangers podcast which is one of the first podcasts I listened to a couple of years ago. This episode was a heart wrenching and truthful look at death and grief. Get your tissues out. You’re gonna cry.
  2. Friday, June 21, 2017 by The Daily podcast.
    So this is another tearjerker. I don’t know what’s with the end of this week but it was full of rough-but-beautiful stories. This is a news podcast, and though I find it very helpful for keeping up with the daily news and getting context to it without going crazy, I rarely feel like it’s the best content I listen to in  a given week. This week’s story about the women in refugee camps in Mosul tore me apart. It was a valued perspective on the international landscape and the price of war.
  3. Life With Mother Teresa and Doing Small Things With Great Love ft. Mother Mary Catherine by The Catholic Feminist Podcast
    This is obviously a specifically targeted podcast that might not be for everyone but Mother Mary Catherine had some awesome stories about what knowing Mother Teresa was like and about why sacrifice is a part of love.
Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash
This Week’s Reading/ Listening

Why Awkward Girl

For me, Awkward Girl’s Guide is a project I’ve been doing on and off since college. I started the Guides as a column for my college newspaper and continued blogging them here and there after. Writing Awkward Girl’s Guide has helped me own up to who I am- feelings of awkwardness and anxiety included- whether it’s always visible on the outside or not.

I’ve always been a little nervous about jumping into the Awkward Girl idea the full way. My main motivation for blogging has often come out of a desire for a new job, internship or opportunity. I have a lot of fear attached to owning my internal fears and awkwardness in a space where a future employer could see it. Would anyone want to hire an Awkward Girl? But I’ve decided that this aspect of my life makes me a good employee and at the end of my day, I am who I am.

There’s another aspect of Awkward Girl you might be wondering about… and that’s the use of the word “girl.” There has been a lot of criticism of the use of the world “girl” to disempower women. I am a grown woman who looks younger than I am, so I totally understand how words like girl can be used by men to infantilize me whether or not they know they’re doing it. And I also truly believe that the words we choose have true power.

So why Awkward “Girl” then? I’m a short, young woman with a large amount of inner child and I can’t change a lot of that whether I want to or not. But here’s the thing, I don’t need to change those things to be a productive person in the world. Young people don’t have less value and neither do small people or awkward people. Part of owning who I am through this project includes owning the parts of me that are typically looked down on and showing that others like me can be awesome.

I know that authenticity is an overdone millennial trope, but as with most tropes there is some truth and value in it. I’m here. I call adults boys and girls probably as a result of my inner child and my inner grandma. I’m an awkward girl but I’m not alone. And neither are you. Welcome to An Awkward Girl’s Guide.

 

Why Awkward Girl

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Creative Brainstorming

When I remembered that today was Wednesday and I needed to blog, I was very worried because I didn’t have any idea what to write about. As a person who has to do creative-ish things every day, it sometimes gets hard to avoid creative blocks. The part of my day that’s spent in an office, especially, is challenging because there is a lack of new stimuli and I feel trapped.

So I’ve come up with a couple of things to keep me going in the creative realm. Many of them make me more awkward, but they help so here we go.

1. RESEARCH. If I am starting a new project, I start with research. Whether it’s visual research (which I often use Pinterest for) or just research into what a client wants or has produced in the past, this part of the process can be really inspiring. It’s a great chance to get fired up by the work of others. You can do this step whether you are actively working on a project or not. The more you read and look, the more you store away in your inspiration bank.

Talking through ideas and/or interviewing clients counts as research too. Again, even if you don’t have a project, this can be fun. Just talk through ideas, what-ifs and what you like/don’t like. You never know when an idea might hit you.

2. GET IT OUT. Write things down while you are researching, while you’re walking down the street or when you can’t sleep. Maybe notes in your phone works for you. Maybe the inspiration flows more freely with a paper and pen. Sketch things out if it works better. Try free writing or bubble mapping. There are 101 ways to get whatever is in  your head out, and sometimes one will work better for you than others. Experiment.

The most important thing is to create something. Get in the habit of brainstorming in a physical way that you can see and come back to. If you don’t get it out, you might get stuck in your head and blank.

3. PLAY. Try something more playful while you are thinking through your problems. I am a tactile thinker so things like silly putty and playdoh help me work through my issues. Whether I am mindlessly rolling it in my hands or making little sculptures, play can distract you just enough to let your ideas flow.

In this way, you are being indirectly creative. Sure, you aren’t making anything productive per say, but you are in the process of creating something and it loosens up those ideas. A little bit of a break helps too, and play really takes the pressure off you and your brain for a moment.

4. MOVE. I know this is an old cliche, but moving helps. Change your position or take a walk. If you are trapped in a small office, you can go take a trip to get a drink or visit the restroom. There have been tons of research about how exercise and physical exertion can help with creativity and mood. I’m not much of an exerciser, but  sitting somewhere new or taking a brisk walk almost always helps me sort out my thoughts a bit better. It’s not a magical solution but every bit helps.

Here are some of the ways I brainstorm for creative projects when I feel like the well is all dried up. I even tried some of them while brainstorming for this post. What do you do when your brain seems stuck and you have to stay creative?

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Creative Brainstorming

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Being Decent on the Internet

So, in light of Keith Olbermann’s recent Twitter rant and subsequent suspension, I thought it was time for an Awkward Girl’s Guide for keeping your human decency on the Internet. It seems like every day I hear a new story about a social media controversy. Young and old people alike seem to have trouble controlling the way they express their thoughts on the web (lest you try to blame this on “my generation”).

Open conversation/debate is one of the coolest things about the Internet, but it’s hard to express yourself textually sometimes. I don’t think there is a way to avoid causing controversy and offending someone on the Internet, but I do think some simple practices can help your chances of coming off as the decent human being you are (provided that you are a decent human being… and I truly believe you are).

1. THINK BEFORE YOU TYPE.  The old adage “measure twice; cut once” can apply just as much to the Internet as carpentry. Ignore the impulse to just hit send after every thought you type out. Sometimes you are missing a nuance that comes off as offensive. Maybe you realize the thought you had wasn’t as important to share as you thought at first. Maybe that joke isn’t as funny as you thought. Will you be ashamed of this post in several days or months? Then maybe you shouldn’t post.

I’m not saying you need to censor yourself all the time, but you do need to remember that what you post can be seen by anyone. No matter how much you think you’ve protected your privacy, things on the Internet are inherently public. Just slow down and think about it.

2. REMEMBER CONTEXT. The Internet is this masterful place that connects to all aspects of your life. This can be super fun, but it can also mean that the things you produce could be lacking important context. Especially with networks like Twitter, one post can be singled out and passed around without any of the rest of the posts that were associated with it in your head.

Also in terms of context, remember that everyone who reads/sees what you put on the Internet will not know you personally. They almost definitely will not understand the tone you intended (especially in the dangerous zones of sarcasm and satire). If you are going to go on a Twitter rant (which is largely cathartic, I’ll admit) or write a satirical blog post, just be aware that you will probably get some people who misunderstand you.

3. DON’T INTERNET ANGRY. This is so important to me. When I see a post or article that offends me, my first impulse is to write one essay-of-a-comment. In the first draft of that comment I usually say some mean and/or aggressive things. If I feel like I’m defending myself or a cause that is important to me, it is doubly easy to rattle off some strong language. I try to never hit send on those posts.

If you want to enter in a Internet debate, try to be respectful, logical and kind. I find it’s helpful to consult a friend to make sure what I want to post is coming off the way I want it to. If you have to explain what you mean after a friend has read your potential post, you probably aren’t expressing yourself as well as you could be. The other thing about Internet debates is that they sometimes go on forever. When people stop bringing up new points or when they get angry and mean, disengage.  No matter how reasonable you are being, you won’t be able to force people to change their minds.

4. DON’T TARGET PEOPLE OR GENERALIZE. I just don’t think it is ever appropriate to straight out target a single person with a hurtful post. I also think it’s a terrible idea to generalize whole groups of people in a derogatory way in your posts (or ever…but whatever). It might feel good at the moment to get it all out, but just don’t do it.

If you really need to say something mean/angry about a specific person, message or text a friend. Don’t put it out there for the world to see. The world doesn’t need more anger/violence/overly simplistic generalizations.

5. DO BE OPEN AND WILLING TO APOLOGIZE. You’ll probably enter into an Internet debate with someone who completely disagrees with you, whether you intend to or not. Unless you don’t put anything on the Internet, you’ll probably offend someone. Be willing and open to listen to people who are respectful to you. Explain your side of the story. Be willing to agree to disagree.

And when you did something wrong, apologize. I recently read an article that basically said apologizing is the #1 way to keep a PR crisis going, but I disagree. We are human beings and we make mistakes in the real world and the Internet world. If we ignore that fact, then we are ignoring part of our humanity and I don’t think the Internet is a better place if it becomes less human.

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Being Decent on the Internet

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Wedding Planning

It’s no secret that my Awkward Girl’s Guides usually come directly from my life. Though they are often topics for young awkward professionals like myself, they also venture into other areas. Today’s is going to go a whole new direction: wedding planning.

I have been engaged for a while, but this weeks marks 100 days until the wedding mark. Let me tell you, I have fully entered freak out mode. So, though this is a different sort of Awkward Girl’s Guides, I think it makes sense. Planning a wedding is hard. Planning a wedding as an awkward, little introvert is even harder. But alas! I have learned some things in the past 100 days that I’m hoping help with the next 100.

Here we go.

1. EMAIL. There are a lot of people to contact when you are having a wedding, especially if it’s going to be on the bigger side. There won’t always be a way to get out of face-to-face meetings and phone calls, so when you can do so, go for it. Can you email the caterer to set up a meeting? How about all the people you have to ask favors of?

Email obviously doesn’t work for everything. You’re going to have to tour your venue and talk to many of your vendors. But any bit of reprieve is a nice thing, plus email means you have a written record of your conversations, and allows to you respond to things whenever you have a second.

2. DON’T TRY TO PLEASE EVERYONE. Many people are going to have opinions about your wedding. They will get downright passionate, sometimes, about what  kind of cake you have and how you decide to seat your guests. Take it in stride. Most people understand, at the end of the day, that what makes you and your significant other happy is the most important thing.

Still, for awkward girls, the temptation to try to please everyone. Maybe you want to take a vote of your bridesmaids to pick their accessories. Maybe you want to indulge every thing your in-laws would like. It’s great to take input and let it affect some choices, but if you get into the trap of trying to perfectly pleasing everyone, you are going to make things pretty impossible. At the end of the day, you gotta go with what works the best  as the person with the most complete picture of the event.

3. GET HELP. I am notoriously bad at this one. Wedding- big or small- take a lot of work and coordination. For me, I tend to get lots of ideas but get really shy about sharing them or asking people to help me out. I have a secret for you, there are tons of people who WANT to help. You just have to find them and let them take a part.

You can make it fun, though. Go out with your mom and pick out stuff you need. Have your girls over for a crafting party. Make a game out of wedding choices with your significant other. Deep under all the stress is an opportunity to have fun and grow closer with the people you care about.

4. ADD YOUR PERSONALITY. With the magic of the Internet, especially things like Pinterest, it’s easy to pick up on wedding trends and want to fill your wedding with them. A trend here and there is fine to embrace, but it’s also important to fill the wedding with your personality (and your Significant Other’s as well). It’s easier to get into the planning process if you incorporate things you love into your plans for the big day.

Being a bookish person myself, I’ve incorporated them in a lot of my decorations. From book page flowers to actual antique books as centerpieces, my wedding is going to be full of the things I love (other than my fiance… who I also love).

5. TAKE BREAKS. Your wedding will be an important day in your life, but you will have many, many more important days. Though the stress and anxiety of worrying about whether or not everything will work out is a necessary evil, try not to let it consume your life.

A perfectly planned day isn’t worth it if you are fighting with everyone involved or are too stressed to enjoy it. Make sure you are still making time to grow with your significant other and cherish your family and friends. Long after the day is over, you will be enriched by the positive relationships you have with your new spouse, family and friends. Take care of yourself, too.

Hope any awkward girls who are getting married out there are helped by my tips, but as always, things are different for every person out there. Just remember, you fell in love my dear awkward girl, and that’s something to celebrate!

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Wedding Planning

An Awkward Girl’s Guide for Days When You Just Can’t

So. I had a day recently and I knew immediately that I should write about it, but I’ve been putting it off. I know that I frequently write about  how awkward and generally stupid I am in public, but this one was especially embarrassing and out of control.

Most awkward people know what it’s like to have a day when you feel like you just can’t function. Sometimes the awkward levels are too high and the anxiety is so strong that even the idea of something can make you freak out, only compounding the problem. I, personally, try to keep those days to a minimum. But sometimes, I get so inside my head that I actually can’t do the things I know I need to do. And it’s disappointing and rough on the psyche.

I was going to volunteer at an event last weekend. I was spending the weekend mostly alone, which is when my social anxiety kicks into full gear, so when the opportunity to volunteer for a cause I really cared about came up, I thought it would be good. I knew it would be a challenge for me, but I was pretty sure I could do it.

When they day of the event came, a prior commitment ran long and a series of unfortunate events lead to me standing in public crying because I couldn’t convince myself to ask around and figure out where I should be. I just couldn’t do it. I went home disappointed and upset.

Sometimes you can’t do something or you fail at it miserably and those days need some tips too. So here it is:

  1. CALM DOWN. It’s pretty easy to blow a situation out of proportion when you’re feeling awful about your awkwardness. Even if it’s a big deal, you have to be able to calm down enough to really assess the situation. For me, I had to cry it out and take a long hot shower before I could be anywhere near reasonable.
  2. CALL SOMEONE. Have someone you can call or text to help talk you down. Maybe they’ll be able to talk you into doing whatever you are stuck on, but if not, they can help convince you that you are really ok even if you feel really stupid.
  3. FORGIVE YOURSELF. Experiences where you honestly fight your nature and lose are exhausting. Give yourself a true chance to relax and rebuild after a “failure.” Do what you need to do to convince yourself that you are a good person and you will be ok.
  4. FIND A TRIGGER. Once you’ve calmed down, you can start considering what made this case of awkwardness so debilitating. If you can figure out, even just a little, what made you react the way you did, then you can possibly prevent these days from happening too often.
  5. GET BACK ON THE HORSE. You’re gonna have to keep challenging yourself, because that’s a fact of life for awkward folk. It’s tempting to hide away for a bit, but that makes it so much harder to get back to being able to try things. I’m especially prone to that; When I was a kid, I crashed my bike and I never rode again without extreme fear. So I definitely understand the temptation, but I think it’s so important to do whatever you have to do to get back to the business of living.
An Awkward Girl’s Guide for Days When You Just Can’t

An Awkward Girls Guide to Quarter Life Crises

Mostly everyone has heard of a midlife crisis, but until recently I thought realizing that you were almost halfway through your life was the only named crisis-worthy life event. As I get closer and closer to graduation, I’ve started feeling more and more panicked and less and less like ever getting out of bed. The title for this, I’ve found, is called a quarter life crisis.

It might seem a little melodramatic to give 20 somethings their own crisis, but the fact is, this a really stressful part of a person’s life. This is a time full of change and big life decisions, and for an awkward girl like me, it feels like a crisis. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, so I wanted to share some tips that I’ve found for not just surviving but thriving in this difficult time.

1. PLAN. One of the most stressful parts of the last few months before graduation for me is all the uncertainty. I’m applying for jobs but I don’t know when I’ll get one or where I’ll be in the next year, let alone five. For the last four years of my life, I’ve known where I would be and what, in general, I would be doing. Now I have no idea.

To avoid panicking, I like to focus on things that I can plan. Whether it’s a weekend event or when I’m going to do my work, having plans makes me feel less like everything is wibbly wobbly.

2. RELAX. Find a healthy way to calm yourself down. Personally, I’ve recently started doing Yoga regularly to keep myself feeling chill. I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise (in fact my feelings about the awkwardness of gyms would be a whole other article), but many people find that it helps them focus on something other than their life stress. I’ve definitely found that in the meditation and breathing practices of yoga.

Your stress relief method doesn’t have to be exercise related at all, however. It could be art or music or going for a drive, but whatever you choose, make it a regular part of your schedule. Your body and mind will thank you for the moment of peace.

3. REWARD YOURSELF. If you have something you don’t want to do but you need to get done, set up a reward system. Let yourself watch an episode of something you love on Netflix if you finish your paper or apply to a couple jobs. Get a snack if you get ahead on your work. When the motivation just isn’t there (let’s call it senioritis, perhaps), give yourself a reason to keep working.

You have to be careful with this one, though. Make sure you aren’t just letting yourself have rewards and not getting anywhere. I know that it’s easy for me to make one episode on Netflix turn into three episodes and a nap and then my reward is just more procrastination than anything else.

4. TALK ABOUT IT. There are tons of other people feeling like you, and pretending that everything is fine is silly. Don’t try to hide from the fear and stress you feel. You are overwhelmed, so own it. Rant to your friends and let them rant as well.

Share so that you don’t feel alone but don’t dwell. Talk to those who made it through their quarter life crises and know that it will get better. You’ll get used to the change and stress. Life is going to throw you some curveballs but you’ll make it through.

5. CELEBRATE. Good things will happen even though you feel like everything is challenging and stressful. When those things happen, don’t just skim over them, celebrate them. It’s easy, when you are feeling stressed, to stop noticing all the good things in your life, especially the things you do well.

Celebrate even the little things. Let yourself be happy about the days when the weather is good and when you get something particularly yummy for lunch. You might feel like you’re in crisis mode, I feel that most days, but this is all pretty normal and you’re going to be ok. I will be too.

 Originally published in “The Setonian.” 

An Awkward Girls Guide to Quarter Life Crises

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Living with Roommates

Whether you are moving in with a best friend, or you’ve just been randomly matched by a survey, living with someone who is not your family comes with a special kind of awkwardness. Luckily, I am the awkward expert.

Welcome to Awkward Girl’s Guides. Sometimes I feel unbearably awkward. I don’t hate people… I’m not even always bad with people. I do, however, have some pretty intense anxiety about new people and situations… like, for instance, getting new roommates. I’ve had three years of living with people experiences and I have a couple of tips that will hopefully help you navigate the awkwardness. Don’t stress. Living with people is a challenge, but you can do it, even if you are prone to awkwardness!

1. COMMUNICATE. This is my first step for a lot of awkward situations. The impulse to be really shy with the person you are living with is going to be pretty strong, especially if you don’t know them before coming to school. Maybe he or she will do some things that you find really annoying. Maybe you guys operate on different schedules. Maybe you’re both very compatible. You won’t know any of these things unless you talk with the person.

Here’s the thing, it only gets more awkward if you fail to communicate with your roommates. In the first few days, come up with some ground rules for the room and talk about how it’s best to communicate. If you’d rather leave notes or Facebook your roomie when you need to tell them something important, let them know. Sometimes there is no replacement for straight up face-to-face conversation. It’s going to be awkward, but it’s very necessary. Believe me, I’ve had many roomie fights that could have been avoided with a simple conversation months earlier.

2. ROOMIE TIME. This is going to sound cheesy, but plan some special bonding time with your roommate. Go to Walmart and pick out some fun accessories for your room or make your own together. Watch a movie together. Have a random dance party. In all likelihood, you’re going to be with this person all year. They are probably going to witness some of your best and worst moments, so make an effort to get to know them. Later, when you are both stressed, there is less likely to be a stupid blowout if you know each other a bit. You don’t have to be best friends with your roomie, but don’t ignore them.

My roommate freshman year, who I’m still very good friends with, walked in on me sobbing twice, once when I found out my grandma had cancer and the second time when a friend of mine died. College is tough emotionally as it is, and life happens. Knowing your roomie can make difficult situations much less awkward whether you end up having to comfort or be comforted by your roommate. Let’s be honest, your roommate can function as a built in friend and maybe they won’t. Before you decide that, find out more about them. You might be surprised.

It’s probably also wise to schedule some alone time as well. Find a place on campus to chill alone, whether it’s a porch, parlor, empty classroom or the library. This alone time gives you a chance to wind down and if you are feeling stress about something your roommate did or is doing, you can let it settle. It’ll keep you both calmer and more friendly if you don’t spend every minute of the day with them.

3. DON’T JUDGE. Your roommate might be a terrible person, but chances are she isn’t. You need to give her a chance and understand that her circumstances/life/belief systems are different than yours. It’s easy to walk in day one and think you know all about someone from their bedding and pictures, but you don’t know. Even later, when you know your roommates better, it’s still better to keep an open mind. You don’t have to like your roommates’ decisions, but unless they are directly affecting you, you might just have to accept them.

In the same respect, your roommate shouldn’t be judging you. If you feel judged, you might have to talk to her. We all do weird stuff. We have weird habits. Aside from that, mistakes happen, especially in college. Judgements and grudges based on them are just going to poison your living situation. Avoid this at all costs, because it’s hard to go back once the poison starts.

4. GIVE AND TAKE. As important as it is to communicate (especially when you are having trouble), sometimes you have to accept that the other person you’re living with is not going to agree with you 100 percent. You might be complete opposites. You aren’t going to successfully train your roommate to be a neat person if she is not, just like she  probably won’t be able to train you to like silence if you function better in a noisy room. Compromise is essential.

I’ve lived with a lot of different people. In my suite last year, we were almost at blows between the more and less organized suitemates. In the end, we were all able to change some of our habits, but not all of them. I still left my backpack and all of my books in the common room even though it drove one of our roommates crazy, but I tried to keep it more tidy. She learned to consult us before moving our stuff, though she still went on cleaning binges. It ended up fine, but we both had to realize that there were things that we just couldn’t change even if we wanted to.

5. UTILIZE RES. LIFE. Your resident assistants (RAs) are trained to help you work out issues with your roommate, and help you find another one if you need it. Ask them for help! They are great at helping mediate conversations and compromise. You might feel like it’s invasive to get them involved in your personal living situation, but they might have some ideas you don’t have for solving the core issue if you’re having roommate troubles.

Maybe, you can’t live with your roommate anymore. It happens. If you’ve given it all you’ve got, and it’s still endlessly stressful, your RA can help you figure out your next step. Many of my friends are RAs including one of my roommates from last year. She helped with our conflict resolution so much that a member of the room who was thinking about moving out, decided not to. It’s their job to help you out, so don’t feel like you are causing trouble or being an inconvenience, they want to help make your living situation as un-awkward as possible.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE SETONIAN VOL. 95 ISSUE 1. 

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Living with Roommates

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to the Classic Undersell

Sometimes I feel unbearably awkward. I don’t hate people… I’m not even always bad with people. I do, however, have some pretty intense anxiety about new people and situations. Most of these anxieties seem to stem from a hefty dose of insecurity.

In the professional world, my insecurity is a problem. It not only makes me more awkward, but it also causes me to commit a professional world sin: the classic undersell.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Awkward Girl, I’m not a salesperson.” Oh Reader, you are definitely a salesperson… of YOURSELF! When I interviewed for my first summer of internships I definitely undersold myself. My employer told me as much when I finished my internship, I didn’t fairly sell myself in my interview/ application progress.

So I’ve decided to list some tips I’ve developed to be fair to myself and sell myself in professional situations. I’ll be the first to admit that I still don’t always succeed but the tips help.

1. LIST YOUR SKILLS. You have skills even though you don’t remember them in professional situations. Honestly list them out. What makes you a unique candidate? What are you really good at? What experiences have you had that were really beneficial?

Don’t worry about thing directly applying to any specific job at first, just list things. This can be hard, but it’s important to have an honest list of things you can do. Later you can specify this list towards specific things and remember them when you’re in professional settings.

2. REFLECT THOSE SKILLS. Do your professional materials reflect the skills you have listed? Every Resume/CV/Cover Letter that you write should highlight some, if not all, of the skills that you feel you have. Having pieces that make you look good can help your confidence.

But make sure you don’t go too far and stretch the truth of what you can do or have done. You need to be comfortable with your resume in order to be comfortable and confident in an interview.

3. ASK SOMEONE YOU TRUST FOR HELP. If you have a professor or colleague who has experience getting jobs in your field, ask if they will help you out. Whether you have them look at your resume or just talk over what you can expect, their experience is invaluable.

There are also great resources at most universities to help out with career stuff. Check out your Career Center and they will likely have tips for you. Try to be honest about where you struggle the most when you are underselling yourself, they will be able to tell you’re not confident and help you out.

4. DEFEND YOURSELF. Is there someone you know who seems to always get the job? Do you have anyone who you feel like you work harder than? I have some of those people and one of my close friends told me I should try this tip.Pretend that your person is going up for your dream job or internship and defend yourself! Why do you deserve it?

I don’t usually encourage you to compare yourself to others people. Most of the time that is a BAD IDEA. But it helps to get a little angry, because then you want to fight to present your skills, and you don’t undersell yourself. A little competition with a person you know you deserve to beat might boost your confidence.

5. DON’T PSYCH YOURSELF OUT. When you are waiting for an interview don’t psych yourself out. I tend to look around at my competition and think immediately that I’m woefully out of place. By the time I actually gotten to the interview, I consider my case already lost. All the other ones are so smart looking, pretty, tall, experienced, and professional,I think. DON’T DO THAT.

You most likely don’t know anything about your competition. You can’t do anything about them anyways. Focus on you and your list of skills. Remember your successes and take a deep breath.

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to the Classic Undersell

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Business Calls

Sometimes I feel unbearably awkward. I don’t hate people… I’m not even always bad with people. I do, however, have some pretty intense anxiety about new people and situations. Today when my coworker asked me if I was comfortable making so calls, I said yes. Inside I had a mini panic attack.

One of my least favorite things is to call people on the phone. This fear manifested when I was younger and I’ve never really gotten over it. I don’t call for take-out… I don’t answer my phone if I don’t recognize a number. It frequently takes me nearly 20 minutes to get myself sorted out a dial a number.

As a journalism and communications student, however, phone calls can be really beneficial. As much as I hate it, many times calls are way more efficient than email. After spending all morning calling nursing homes for information to populate a website I’m working on, I’ve come up with some tips to make phone calls more bearable.

These tips have to do with business calls, although they could be helpful for any sort of information-seeking call (inquiring about an internship or position etc). Phone interviews are a whole other ballgame and I’ll probably have another post about those sometime…

1. WRITE A SCRIPT. Writing out what you are going to say might sound dorky, but it helps me immensely. Not only is the act calming in itself, but it helps you avoid that awkward pause that so often happens when someone finally answers the phone.

Scripting out what you want to say also means you’ll probably sound more professional and older (if you’re a young sounding person like me, that’s helpful). It’s good to read your script out loud a couple of times before starting. When you read it, make sure that you don’t sound like a robot or a telemarketer. If it’s appropriate to pause and wait for some sort of response, do so.

2. BREATHE AND TAKE YOUR TIME. You want to make sure that you are speaking clearly and professionally. If you’re awkward like me, you’ll be really uncomfortable having to repeat yourself over and over.

You’re going to naturally speak quickly and maybe even quietly because you are nervous, so be conscious of that. Usually all  it takes is a mental reminder to make yourself sound natural, and you’re good to go. You’ll get better with practice, too, so keep calling people (but only when necessary… I’m not saying to just call business people for funsies… that’s silly).

3. THINK THROUGH POSSIBLE RESPONSES. If you have some sort of inquiry or request, chances are there are only a couple possible answers. One of the possibilities is voicemail too, so be prepared for that. In general, just think through what you will do or say in response to each possible response. Don’t make yourself crazy thinking through endless possibilities, though. That’s bad.

This also helps me put my call in perspective. I will either get a yes or no to my request. Someone will answer my question, transfer me, or say they can’t answer. None of these things will be the end of the world.

4. KNOW YOUR NUMBER. This seems silly, but if you get a voicemail or if someone says they’ll call you back, you might forget your number. Have it written down. This is really important if you are calling from a work phone or a phone that is not your usual. You’ll sound more professional if you can just rattle the number off and you’ll feel more confident as well.

5. DOUBLE CHECK THE NUMBER YOU’RE CALLING. I hate calling the wrong number and it makes me really nervous every time. I want to make sure I’m going to get the person I’m trying to call. I double, triple check the number I’m calling as a result. I look it up, write it down, double check it, type it in the phone, and check it again.

This might be a little more obsessive than you want/need personally, but the act of double checking a number can be really calming, especially if you are calling somewhere for the first time.

Phone calls are essential to many jobs/ careers. If they make you anxious, remember these tips. It’s really not that bad once you get going. The key is confidence, and if you’re not confident, find a way to fake it until you are.

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Business Calls