An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Pet Ownership

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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

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 Interviewing

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. I haven’t been able able to nail down a summer internship, to my personal embarrassment. Internships in the communications/writing fields are hard to come by and I’ve been going after difficult ones. I’ve had several interviews but haven’t been able to get past the interview process.

Though I don’t think that my failure is entirely based on my interviewing skills. Interviewing is, however, a struggle for me because it’s terrifying. There is so much pressure on every word and interaction, and I find it so difficult to show my skills in this one meeting. So, at the urging of my mother, I participated in a mock interview and I learned a couple of tips that I think will resonate with other awkward people out there.

1. MAKE IT PERSONAL. The people who are interviewing you want to know your skills, for sure, but they also want to get a sense of who you are. They’ve already seen your resume, so just repeating those things isn’t going to make you go above and beyond. I always thought that it was unprofessional to show my personality in an interview, but I personality is what makes so stick out. Perhaps I won’t launch into a speech on my undying love for Doctor Who, but adding a few details about what I like and dislike is probably ok.

2. BE PASSIONATE. Along with showing  personality, another area I struggle with is conveying my passion. I once got a job because I cried in an interview. While I would never do that again, in that moment I was so struck by my desire to work at the Christian camp I’d attended since my childhood, that I was moved to tears. The person who hired me apparently insisted on it, because that person knew how passionate I was. There are few jobs that I will ever be quite as passionate about as that one, but no matter what I have a reason to be passionate about any job. It’s important to convey that passion to future employers. This passion puts you apart from the people who are just looking for stepping stones to get them to somewhere greater. Maybe the job your interviewing is just a stepping stone. Maybe it’s just a means of income. Find a reason to be passionate about that income and convey it. That makes you stand out.

3. DON’T PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON IT. The person who did my mock interview has hired many people. She asked if I was nervous for this fake interview. I said yes. Later, she told me that I’d never get the job unless I stopped caring so much whether or not I got it. It’s a matter, she explained, of understanding that you may or may not get the job and either way it doesn’t matter. There will be other jobs and other interviews. This is apparently the secret to confidence. I am a worrier who has trouble taking pressure off of situations like these. But one internship will not make or break my future career. If I end up doing something else this summer, I can still advance my career. Few interviews are life and death.

4. ASK GOOD QUESTIONS. One of the parts of interviews that I struggle with the most is the part where they ask if I have any questions. My go to question is asking about daily tasks of the position, but sometimes that is already covered. My interviewer said 2-3 good questions is ideal. The best way to ask questions? Use your research. In this way you can show your interviewers that you know about their company and have been thinking about the position. Don’t ask about money or vacation days. Do ask about what you can do to help the company. Ask about the company. Asked based on what you know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

5. BE CONFIDENT. Last but not least, with all of these steps, the last one is confidence. Walk into an interview with a sense that you are qualified for the job and you are entitled to this interview. I’m terrible at this one, but these tips should help build up confidence. I am good at what I do and I am well trained. My mock interviewer said she’d hire me if a real position existed. I’m on a losing streak thats near 8 or 9 and when I go into my next interview, Thursday, I’m going to struggle not to think about my 7 or 8 failures so far. These losses don’t mean that I’m not good or qualified. The same can be said for you, I’m sure. So build up your confidence and walk in with it.

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Interviewing