I’m 24! Things I Learned This Year

Since it’s been a year since I started this blog (and a year since my last birthday!), I’m going to write a quick blog post of things that happened this year and stuff I learned from it. This year my main goal was to find a job. It didn’t go so well, for reasons that are still a little obscure to me but probably have to do with applying for a lot of customer service jobs, and since those jobs look for extroverts and I can’t impersonate an extrovert for the life of me, I haven’t had much luck with those. So, here’s my list of advice for myself from a year back:

1. Don’t wear your interview shoes to walk to the interview. Bring tennis shoes in your purse and change.

This because I decided to wear crappy heels to a job interview in Emeryville, and I had no idea how complicated the bus system (and streets!) are in Emeryville, so I got dropped off by the bus about 40 minutes walk from where the interview was and was in so much pain when I finally reached it. To avoid this, bring tennis shoes! Seriously! Flats don’t make good walking shoes either.

2. Don’t admit that you’re shy unless you can explain why you’d still be good for the job.

I told an interviewer for an ice cream shop that I thought by working there I might be able to get more comfortable talking to people, but I think once I admitted it she decided I wasn’t right for the job. So, avoid your weaknesses, play up your strengths. It worked for the small tutoring position I did end up getting though, because I could explain that tutoring would be a one-on-one, quiet situation where my ability to help the student would be more important than how friendly I could be.

3. Don’t arrive too early for an interview.

15 minutes ahead is ideal. If you end up getting there more than 45 minutes early, you’ll be kind of spacy from reading and hanging out and impatient to get home by the time the interview actually happens.

4. When someone tells you “Next Monday”, get the numbered date.

It’s frustrating when I think “next Monday is the Monday after next” when someone else thinks “next Monday is the Monday coming up next week”. Get the date as a number.

5. Subscribe to a site that helps writers get clients like Guru, Fiverr, Elance, or iWriter, and keep checking the emails they send you.

You have to be patient, only apply to the projects that interest you, and set your price low at first. Independent work is the best because you can do what you like and set your own hours. It does take a while to make a good reputation, so just keep applying to the ones you like.

6. Use MeetUp to find a social circle.

It’s a great program and there are more people getting on it all the time! It has clubs based around interests (like books, anime, geekery) that meet regularly. I love the science fiction book group in my tiny suburban town.

7. Work out every day.

You’ll get used to it, and it will make you feel a lot better generally. It’s nothing big, just 20 minutes of cycling will do it. And —

8. Play Pokemon!

Maybe while you’re working out. Train your Pokemon while you train your legs. It’s one of those failsafe make-you-happy things that you need to hang on to.

9. Set up a time to write with a buddy.

It’ll help you stick to your goals.

10. Keep an idea jar.

I have a ceramic pumpkin on my desk to which I add sticky notes with ideas on them for later development and writing. I haven’t actually used any of them yet, but having them exist is a comfort that I will someday (and they won’t be lost in the middle of random notebooks surrounded by longer journal entries and plotting).

11. Pick an apartment with a soul.

Forget white walls, dorm-style buildings with long impersonal hallways and no people walking around during the day. Live downtown. Avoid being sandwiched between big box stores.

12. Quit Facebook?

Still not quite sure if this is for better or worse, but political discussions on other sites don’t get as personal and other sites don’t seem to be as much of a time drain. I get bored of Twitter and 4chan much faster than Facebook, which helps with productivity, especially as I do most of my work and applying for jobs on the computer.

So, there’s my advice for my past self. Here are the things that happened this year, for my future self to remember:

1. I met K the last time in October, and it was magical, and then I didn’t have the courage to pick up the phone for six months. Whoops. We did eventually meet again, though, but I think we’d grown apart. She realized I didn’t know anything about Marxism and I can’t see my life without men. We’re still on good terms, though, I think.

2. We adopted a cat last October: Alexei the Russian Blue mix (I think he might be part Maine Coon). He’s been a fixture in my life ever since, with his cuddling and feet-biting and meowing at the door. I taught him to walk on a leash, but everything outside scares him so he doesn’t stay out for too long, just enough to sniff all the things.

3. I lost all of my hair! Because trich and stress and loneliness. That happened. I have a lot of wigs though — black, white, brown, blue… mostly long. I bought an expensive one from a wig store which fell apart after two weeks. Since then I’ve been getting cheap ones from China via Etsy. I should try a short one; it might be easier to wear. I really have no shame about it. That died when I was in high school and pulled all my eyelashes out. Don’t get me wrong — I care about covering up and looking good, but the actual pulling isn’t really an issue for me.

4. I cosplayed for real for the first time, as Patchouli from the Touhou series. I waited until D was done using the sewing machine and then made it in two weeks, working overnight before the con. Bad idea. Next time, plan ahead. The other Touhou cosplayers were great, although I didn’t get to hang out with them too long. Also I went to the “Cthulhu for President” panel where the man running it thought I was dressed as an old lady. Good times!

5. I went to SDCC again, which was rad. They were demo-ing the new Super Smash Brothers and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracket. We took my brother J with us downtown. It was C and D and I for the other days, and one of C’s friends from Sac.

6. K got married in the summer (different K)! It was a beautiful wedding, and pretty inexpensive. It was in the Bonsall Fire Gardens, which had an antiqued decorated piano, fire sculptures and a shrine to Venus. He wore a top hat and she had green hair and a white tutu. I sat with the older cousins and we talked about how J’s sunglasses looked like Vash’s from Trigun and an embarrassing prank we pulled in Santa Cruz when I was thirteen that my dad completely freaked out about. And the boys’ return prank when I was fifteen that my dad also freaked out about. Then I got pretty hammed and sung “Let It Go”. So 2014.

I think that’s it for major life events! Not much has changed, except we moved from Dublin to Livermore, and it’s a little warmer here, in both the social climate and actual climate. I still don’t feel comfortable going up to people in the streets and chatting, but I envy people that do with the force of a thousand suns. The search for a job continues, but I feel that I’m in a more stable place mentally than I was last year, and I’ve found more things to occupy my time and a couple more paths to try (pharmacy program? editing certificate?).

Hoping this year will be a good one for all you readers as well!

~Sarah Browne


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