Saturday, November 15, 2014

The College Entitlement of Free

While in college, organizations advertised "FREE FOOD!" for almost every single event. In fact, if you wanted people to come to your event, you had to offer something, and that something was usually free food. Housing companies trying to attract leasers would offer free things, such as pens, drink holders, and ID holders. Even the ROTC program offered something free. The big keyword in college is "FREEEEEE!"

Outside of college, things aren't so free. You have to pay for your own meals, and when you eat as an organization, people request that you bring a few dollars to cover the costs of meals. I've found out that food and those "free" items are really pretty expensive. College students are very lucky to get all those goodies.

Since I've just graduated, I still have to get the idea that I should get free stuff out of my head. In fact, one day my supervisor took me to lunch and paid for it with her own credit card. The lunch tasted great, but I realized too late that I forgot to thank her and ask to split the bill. I just automatically assumed the company would pay for it since it was my first lunch on the job. I was wrong. Lesson learned.

Now that I have to pay for everything myself, I'm a lot more careful about how much I pay, and I recognize that free is nice, but it's not something you should get used to. Everything just seems so dang expensive! I think I've become a bit more thankful for all the free things I got from my college.

My work  has a "store," where you can toss in a few quarters or dollars and get a drink or snack. The tin can where you place the money is called "The Nittany Bank." The store mostly runs on the honor system, and lately it's been coming up short...The point of the store is to buy new things, such as faucet filters or more snacks, and to give small bonuses when someone at work does something beyond expectations. The store can't even do that now. It barely gets enough money to replenish snacks.

Thinking about the store at work and how I have to buy everything myself now makes me realize how important money is. Yes, college is ridiculously expensive, especially at a time when jobs are scarce and don't pay that well, but at the same time, you get a lot of "free" benefits, such as a gym membership, access to career counselors, access to health and mental doctors, and also lots of connections and great research (that's probably part of why tuition is so high, to provide "free" access to services). No wonder why college students seem so spoiled to some outsiders! I honestly think it's much cheaper to get services at college than outside college. For example, at LSU, you can get a general doctor visit without extra payments, but if you're not at college, you have to pay anywhere from $20-$150.

If there is one piece of advice I can give college students concerning money, it's take advantage of all the "free" opportunities that you pay for with your tuition. You're probably not going to get such a great deal after you leave college. Everything gets a lot more expensive. The piling expenses never seem to stop.

Friday, November 7, 2014

RESURRECTION BLOGFEST: Researcher

This is a previous post on March 15, 2014. It has been resurrected for Mina Lobo's RESURRECTION BLOGFEST! 

When I first entered college, I wanted to be a researcher. Working on my thesis has completely destroyed any inkling or want of being a researcher. That dream was shattered into a million pieces because research wasn't what I thought it was.

I'm still working on the same thesis. It's currently been a year and half since I started reading about English as a second language, designing stimuli, and programming the experiment for the participants. I'm glad to say that I'm finally in the experimental stage. It took me forever to get here, and unfortunately, I only have a month to run about 60 participants. I ran 14 in the first week--Yay me!

However...I seem to be having problems with participants. In my experiment, I'm running native English speakers and non-native English speakers. Native English speakers means that speakers have spoken English as their first language and have been exposed to it since birth. I'm also defining it as someone who only learned English from birth and no other language. Non-native speakers have learned other first languages besides English or they've learned English and another language at the same time since birth. Are we clear? Okay, good.

I have two sections for my experiment: native speakers and non-native speakers. However, native speakers have been signing up for the non-native speaker spots and non-native speakers have been signing up for native speaker spots. And all I can do is sit there with my legs crossed and fingertips pressed together above my chest as I stare at them in disbelief. Do people not know how to read? The definitions for native speakers and non-native speakers are even included in the sections when they sign up for the experiment. It's a bit frustrating.

Besides that, some participants just decide to not show up at all. So, here I am, struggling to get 60 participants. When I see someone signed up, I get excited. Woo! More data! Now my analysis will be more reliable! And when that person doesn't show up, I'm immediately let down. I can't draw conclusions from such a small amount of data.

I think I can appreciate researchers more now because I understand the frustrations with human participants not cooperating or showing up or just not signing up at all. I don't think I'm going to support my hypotheses in my thesis at all. Honestly, it's looking like one giant failure, but I guess that's ok. Science can only disprove things and not prove them.

At this point, I just want to get something. If I can get 20 participants instead of 60, I would be so happy. My final project is differing a lot from my original proposal, but at least I'll have something. I would be so happy if people would just answer my e-mails and show up to the experiment. It's the little things that count when nothing else seems to be going right. Research, you are one heck of a challenge.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Not a Failure, Just a Learner

I've been thinking about the idea of confidence and self-esteem for a while. Perhaps I overreacted in my last post about "The Confidence Gap" by the Atlantic.

Lately at work, I've noticed that I'm making a good number of mistakes. I get fussed at for misspelling words or missing some when I proofread, forget to attach documents to e-mails, fail to realize I have to upload documents in multiple places, and also fail to realize that I should have my boss sign her own cover letters. Sometimes, she asks me to sign them for her, but at other times, she wants to sign them herself.

"I'm such a failure," I tell myself. Shouldn't I have known about all these things? Well...no, not every single thing. Some mistakes I've made, I've made them because I made a guess at what I had to do, and it turns out my guess was wrong. I've only been here for about 3.5 months, so how could I do everything perfectly on the first try. There's gotta be a learning curve.
The Learning Curve--Up we go!

Telling myself I'm a failure when I made a mistake isn't helpful to say the least. It doesn't help me fix failures. It doesn't improve my self-esteem. It eats away at my confidence more quickly than I imagined.

Sure, compared to my co-workers, I'm not that great. They can speak at least two languages and tend to get things accurate. They phrase things more professionally than I do. But most of all, they've been here longer than me. They are older than me and have different experiences. I don't think it's a fair comparison between them and me. I'm like the $50 dollar printer that can do a good enough job, and they're like the $1000 mega-monster printers that do everything you want--even make coffee.

I've got a lot to learn, yes, and if I keep my mind open, maybe I'll learn even more. No one's a perfect expert in a day. No one's perfect ever. Perhaps the trick to becoming a valuable person, in general, is to be open to learning and admit you are wrong. It's okay to ask for help. Being able to bounce ideas off of people and come up with new ideas is where it counts. I have to learn skills to add on to my $50 self to become the $1000 mega-monster. It will take time, patience, and the will to admit I have more things to learn.

It's a bit frustrating sometimes because I want to be perfect and awesome now at this minute. But work isn't as easy as elementary school or high school. In some ways, it's more challenging than college. I'm the underdog that has a lot to learn, and I'm not the smartest kid in the class anymore. It feels weird yet I think it's a good weird. It means there's room for improvement and challenges. There's not a ceiling holding me down, and I have room to grow now. I just have to seize new opportunities, give it my best, and learn how to do it better.

Seize the opportunities by the horns


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just Write 159: The Confidence Gap

“If life were one long grade school, women would be the undisputed rulers of the world.”

Lately, lots of people have told me, "You need more confidence." It's as if confidence is the superhero that can save the world.

I find that being told I need more confidence is infuriating mainly because I don't think I need more confidence. I think I'm arrogant and should back off a little. Also, I think my confidence is quite different from what we usually assume confidence is.

I prefer to be cautious, gather more information, and then take my chances. I have taken risks and been rejected. In fact, I apply to most things and expect to be reject. However, I still don't think I lack confidence. The more people say, "You lack confidence," the more I want to say, "No, I don't. You lack perspective."

Still, there is a phenomenon of women's lacking confidence. Women don't take as many risks as men. Yeah, maybe because women know better than to blow their chances (oh, look at that uncalled for sexist comment!), and perhaps the way the world defines confidence is all based on a male's perspective in a man's world. Perhaps, we should redefine what confidence looks like and what it actually is.

While reading "The Confidence Gap" in the Atlantic, I saw myself in these women's shoes. Some of the things that the Atlantic describes sounds like me. The quote “If life were one long grade school, women would be the undisputed rulers of the world" sticks out to me the most. In fact, while I was in school, I thought I was only good for school work, and I was gong to be straight out of luck when I graduated because I sucked at everything else and had no skills. It was a dang good thing I got an internship while in school because if I hadn't, I really would have been unemployed and out of luck for a longer time period.

But the main point is that this whole idea of confidence is frustrating. I am tired of hearing I need more confidence, and quite frankly, I'm not going to listen to those people anymore. Maybe I "need more confidence" in some areas of my life, but definitely not in others.

When I look at why this whole situation is frustrating it's because people say "You need more confidence," but then they don't explain how to gain confidence.  So, how does one gain confidence? People claim, "Oh, you just need to believe in yourself and take action."

Though I suggest that step one to gaining confidence is making sarcastic remarks to the people who tell you you need confidence. Example: "Ohhhh, I'm sorry my actions don't conform to your definition of a word that's confounded with multiple meanings." Though of course, my method is not helpful or conducive to furthering good feelings, so it may be better to abort that mission.

I have sincerely forgotten where I was going with this. But perhaps we cannot measure confidence through actions because some people define confidence as "the belief in yourself." Believing in yourself is an internal thought, so how can you tell that I believe in myself? You can't unless you're a mind reader. Our external actions do not always coincide with our internal beliefs. That's why cognitive dissonance exists. If people think taking action signifies confidence, then maybe "confidence" isn't really what's being signified since it's an internal belief. Maybe people don't need to be more confident. Maybe they need to be bolder or more courageous. Perhaps there is not a word in the English language that describes "needing to take action." It's really unfortunate that "confidence" has taken on this definition that I don't think describes it.

Confidence and taking action may be correlated, but I do not think that they are the exact same thing. I believe that you can be confident and yet not take action. And there's nothing wrong with not taking action. Sometimes we are more fulfilled with the smaller things in life.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How to Love Yourself

Everyone says you need to learn how to love yourself to become happier, live a fuller life, and also successfully build other relationships. No one ever mentions how. Perhaps it's different for each person. So, I'm going to take a crack at ways to show oneself love.

How to Love Yourself
  1. Brush your teeth each night so that each tooth can grow up healthy and strong
  2. Have a glass of your favorite drink (soda, coffee, beer, whichever is your favorite) when you go out with friends (or just go out to eat) even when its full of empty calories
  3. Smile at your accomplishments
  4. Accept that you messed up and that mistakes happen. It's human to err.
  5. When your brain keeps calling your names, try to change your thinking so that you use more loving words. For example, "How could you mess that up? You're so stupid!" changes to "Oh, that didn't go to well. What could I have done differently?"
  6. Make your favorite foods and then eat them
  7. Compliment yourself when things go well. For example, "Wow, I really did do a good job on that essay" or "Wow, I really did keep myself organized at work today."
  8. Give yourself comfort by sitting on a comfy couch, buying a really comfy mattress, or enjoying a few more minutes of rest.
  9. Forgive yourself if things don't go as planned
Truth is I'm not sure how to love myself, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try. It's just taking a lot of time to learn how to love. How about you? How do you love yourself? Feel free to create your own blog post and link back or just leave a comment about what you like to do. I'd like to hear your ideas and share the love!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Young Women's Right to Vote

I'll straight up admit that I don't watch Fox News, though my family does, both my immediate and my extended one. My college friends have consistently warned me away from Fox, claiming that its both bias and uninformed. However, sometimes the things that Fox News does make headlines. Particularly, this one: Fox News Hosts Tell Young Women Not To Vote, Go Back To Tinder And Match.com.

Fox News tends to lean towards Republicans, and then Republicans wonder why women won't vote for them. Dear Republicans, dissociate yourself from Fox News and maybe you'll have a chance at winning.

In my opinion, telling young women not to vote is an act of sexism. You're essentially telling women that they shouldn't exercise their rights. Women received the right to vote in the 1920s, and quite frankly, I'm glad that we did. By voting, my voice has a chance of being heard. Dear Fox News, I am sorry to tell you that I am a young woman, and I will be voting in this November election. My voice needs to be heard.

Besides just telling women not to exercise their voices and rights, Fox News also implies that women are bimbos who only focus on relationships and have no idea what's going on in Congress. Sorry to burst your bubble, but women are informed. We aren't solely chasing after men, trying to snag a husband. We are working hard towards bettering our lives, and bettering our lives involves voting for the people who support us. Whether we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or don't belong to a party at all, we vote for who shares similar values with us and vote for those who we think lead us in the correct direction.

Digging a bit deeper, we also see that Fox implies  relationships are pettier than voting since "uninformed" women should focus on them instead of voting. Chasing men and relationships apparently doesn't require as much effort as voting.

Does anyone else see this as messed up? First of all, why do people assume women are only chasing men instead of wanting a deep, lasting relationship with another human being. On top of that, relationships sometimes take more work than a 9-5 job. It takes openness, honesty, vulnerability, and patience to make a relationship work. These things are not trival. They are part of human survival. Where would we be if we couldn't cultivate connections and relationships with others? We would be hermits, lonely, and mostly likely  have undeveloped and untouched potential. Other people add to our experiences and enrich us. Why should we view seeking relationships as demeaning and petty? No, forming relationships is just as important as voting. It's another way to make our lives better or worse, and seeking them and speaking about them will help us get through this mess of life.

So, women of the USA, let's get out there and go vote! Let's show Fox News that we are informed. On top of that, let's get on Tinder and Match.com and show Fox that relationships as just as important as voting. And while we're at it, let's take selfies of getting on Match.com right after we vote and tweet them to Fox News on Twitter.

Women, voting, and relationships all have importance in life. I think it's time for the world, especially Fox News, to acknowledge that.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

La lluvia

Hay una cosa que es aterrorizante de la lluvia en el norte. Cuando llueve, la agua se derrama mucho mucho mucho. Las calles llenan con capas de agua. Es muy differente del sur. En el sur, hay la lluvia, claro, pero yo no tengo medio de esa lluvia. La lluvia se absorbe en la tierra el minuto que el agua choca la tierra.

Tal vez la lluvia no se absorbe en la tierra porque ahora yo vivo en una ciudad. En el sur durante mi tiempo en la universidad, Baton Rouge inundó cuando llovió. Es porque Baton Rouge tiene un horrible drenaje pero Baton Rouge no inunda como esta ciudad. Baton Rouge inunda cuando llueve por muchas ahoras. En esta ciudad, inunda en treinta minutos. Yo creo que la tierra es differente entre el norte y el sur. La tierra del sur absorbe más de la tierra del norte. Yo no sé por qué. Yo no tengo miedo de la lluvia en el sur pero en el norte, no quiero salir fuera cuando llueve.

English: There is something terrifying about rain in the north. When it rains, the rain pours a lot, lot, lot. The streets fill with layers of water. It's very different from the south. In the south, there's rain, of course, but I'm not afraid of that rain. The rain absorbs into the ground the minute that the water hits the ground.

Maybe the rain doesn't absorb into the ground because now I live in a city. In the south while I was at the university, Baton Rouge flooded when it rained. That's because Baton Rouge has a horrible drainage system, but Baton Rouge doesn't flood like this city. Baton Rouge floods after it rains for awhile. In this city, it floods in thirty minutes. I think that the ground is different between the north and the south. The ground in the south absorbs more than the ground in the north. I don't know why. I'm not scared of the rain in the south, but in the north, I don't want to go outside when it rains.