Monthly Archives: May 2019

A few things I wish someone had told me before I went to college

Aw college, the hallowed halls of higher education, crafting and molding the great minds of our next generation….or at least that is what our parents were thinking when they dropped us off at our freshman dorms with tear- studded eyes and overflowing egos, eager to see how college would transform their precious offspring into future leaders and politicians and digital nomads. 

All the while most freshman are thinking about parties and exotic new sex terms they have never heard of before and whether they really will be able to manage an 8am class. 

I think it is safe to say that college has evolved and transformed over the last few centuries, from esteemed halls of prodigy, to a holding zone for young adults between the ages of 18-22, who aren’t quite ready to become responsible adults yet, but have also outgrown living at home and curfews.
And while education is an undoubtedly necessary and significant rite of passage that all young people should have the opportunity to pursue if they choose, the truth is that the university system as we know it has become more of a social and cultural coming of age period for young people. Regardless of your talents or brains or financial status there is a college that will take just about anyone. The result is a lot of people who are just there to have fun and make a fat paycheck when they graduate. The focus has shifted from being a space for the most brilliant minds to congregate and build careers and more to that of a four year long social gathering focused on fun, personal exploration and social programming. 

That in mind, I loved college! It was so great that I decided to get a Master’s right after my undergrad because I just wasn’t ready to leave school! But as we know, college is certainly not all about education and learning, today’s college experience is now embedded with social traditions, cultural norms, and hegemony surrounding the types of experiences you shouldbe having. The college experience has absorbed lots of ideas about dating, sex, lifestyle and relationships, some of which are helpful, but are not always the right choice for everyone. The truth is that the college experience is going to be different for everyone and what might be really fulfilling for one person might not be for someone else. There really is no universal way to enjoy and get the most out of college. 

That said there are definitely rules of thumb that can help you get the most out of college, whatever that might look like for you. Here are a few things I wish I had known and can now look back in retrospect with a new appreciation and understanding of: 

  1. Most college guys, no matter how awesome, will probably not make good boyfriends 

College is generally a time for irresponsibility and selfishness, which for the most part is good.  In terms of school and grades and career, college is a pretty opportune time to get selfish with your goals and to just focus on yourself. However this means most guys( and people in general) are not ready to be good boyfriends. Lots of guys who will someday make amazing husbands and fathers are acting like douchy fuckbois during college, and even though there is potential with lots of these guys, most should simply be left alone. Obviously there are some diamonds in the rough out there, but in general most college guys are in party/hookup/selfish mode which is mutually exclusive to boyfriend/commitment mode. Girls like projects and fixer uppers, but the truth is that most guys needs to make all the mistakes, and have all the hookups, and be the fratstars that we hate in order to figure themselves out (and figure out what we girls probably already know). Which is that that is not sustainable nor is it fulfilling for very long.  The moral of the story is that for the most part college guys need to be taken with a grain of salt, and don’t be surprised when that cute guy you’ve been seeing every weekend for three months “doesn’t want anything serious.” 

  1.  Be okay being alone/ single  

If most college guys are simply not commitment material that means that girls need to be okay with being alone/single for parts of college. This is not to say that you won’t meet the love of your life in a frat basement or in Mon/Wed/Fri Chem, only that considering the odds of guys ready to commit in college, don’t be shocked when most campus romances fizzle out or are short-lived. That said, girls need to learn the fine art of being single. And an art it really is, especially when the culture is constantly telling us that we need a relationships status to define us. Ladies, learn to be comfortable being on your own and being your own identity independent of another person.

College is a wonderful time to develop strong friendships and focus on yourself, and instead avoid the messy dating culture, or lack there of, that permeates most college campuses. Don’t waste your precious college years crying over loser boys that are not adding anything to your life and for the love of God don’t waste valuable study time wondering if some horny dickhead from a party likes you. Likewise, lots of girls agree that college is a time to experiment or to not be held back by a relationship and so they turn to hookup culture to meet their physical needs while also maintaining independence. While hookup culture satisfies this need for some girls, it also can be a huge downfall for others. When I say be okay being alone/single I don’t just mean not having a boyfriend or a fling, I also mean be okay with not having a fuck buddy or a routine hookup. Lots of girls look to hookups to keep things casual and no-strings-attached, but often times they create more drama because girls make the mistake of not being honest with themselves about what they want from it, or simply from ignoring their own biology that often bonds women to their partners. Sorry it is just how it works! Even if it is just physical, it is still looking to someone else to satisfy or fulfill a need. Likewise things often have a tendency to get messy and leave you in the same crying-over-dickhead scenario as described above.

I am not saying to never date or never hookup, only that I think college is an important time to be independent and find fulfillment apart from another person. College is a special time to create an amazing life for yourself, one that shouldn’t be held back by immature boys who probably aren’t worth your time. So while dating and relationships are often a part of the college culture, it is for the most part a very selfish, self centered time in which most young people aren’t ready to be in mature, selfless,  healthy relationships, whether that be exclusive dating or friends with benefits. 

  1. Hookup culture is not for everyone and that is okay

Hookup culture is a vast and ingrained part of the college experience, in which most college freshman step onto campus thinking they are going to get laid every night of the week and wind up in bed with new hotties every weekend. The media in particular has promoted such an idea in TV and movies and even magazines  that break down how to have a great hookup. Basically, college students are left with the impression that not only is hookup culture a significant part of university, but that it is necessary to a fun, fulfilling collegiate experience. While yes, lots of college students are going to have sex and lots are going to have casual sex with friends, acquaintances, and strangers it is A. Not necessary to your college experience and B. No, you wont’t be the only one that feels that way. Essentially hooking up is NOT for everyone, even if the kids in the caf, and the media, and people who sit next to you in calc might make you feel like you are the ONLY one not partaking. In fact most students will actually not be partaking, or at least not partaking to the extent you think they are partaking. Sex is a very personal choice, and one that should not be molded based on the peer pressures around you or the social stigmas attached to what collegeshouldlook like. I feel like many students partake because they feel like it is what they oughtto be doing or that by not they are missing out on some existential sexual revolution. Visions of casual/wild/ meaningless sex might not always be the answer to whatever fun, fulfilling experience you are looking to find in college. Sex should never just be the means to filling an empty void in your life. 

  1. Wild partying and abundant drinking is not an indicator of how fun and fulfilling your college experience is

As with sex, the college experience is convoluted with images and connotations about what sorts of debauchery you ought to be partaking in in order to be living your best collegiate life. The truth is that while college will certainly be filled with fun and late nights and wild adventures don’t believe the lie that alcohol must be the catalyst for all your best college stories or that alcohol and drugs and partying is a necessary gateway to a fun college experience that you will otherwise “regret.” Some of your best college memories will be cooking dinner with your roommates or having a sleepover with your best friends every night or going for a long heartfelt walk on campus with you bff , or a spring break road trip, or renting kayaks at the local lake or hiking with your dorm floor. College doesn’t’ have to be hedonistic to be fun or satisfying.  

  1. If you can afford to without going into debt ALWAYS do study abroad 

I know everyone says this, but study abroad truly will change your life. It did mine! The only exception I will make to this is that you should never go into debt to do, if you have to work a few extra shifts or pick up a summer job to afford it, please do, but if you have to go into debt say no for now and look for travel opportunities post grad. Study abroad is a magical experience that everyone vows to do on the first day of freshman year and yet when the time comes life often gets in the way and excuses are made such as worrying about graduating on time or having to do a long distance relationship. The truth is that study abroad is sort of a once in a  lifetime chance to travel and learn without other pressing life matters getting in the way. After graduation you might have a full-time job and later down the road you will marry and have kids, but while you are in college is still a wide open expanse of opportunity. Take the leap and go! No one ever regrets study abroad!  

  1. Get involved in activities and find a tribe 

Again, this is pretty cliche advice, but the college experience is fueled by activities and finding groups of like minded people with similar interests. Whether it be clubs, sports, teams, the arts or student government find something you enjoy doing and a group of people you enjoy doing it with. This is a great way to make lifelong friends as well as pursue passions and interests in a particular niche, something that becomes harder to do after college when life gets in the way. 

  1. Know the different between when you are better off going to sleep and when to stay up 

I feel like puling all-nighters and wild nights spent staying up into the wee hours are staples of college, but I am here to tear that myth apart. Sleep is important. Sleep is the difference between successful people and all the hot mess people that memes are about. There will be some nights where staying up is important, like having an important conversation with a friend or a fun night out that you know will make a really special memory. However there will be nights where rest is important and you are better off going to sleep knowing that FOMO is just that, fear. 

  1. Don’t take everything you lean in class as the gospel truth, always be a discerning consumer of information 

Yes, for the most part your professors are intelligent, worldly, experienced individuals who are probably smarter that you, but the difference between the mass hordes of students who get pushed through the college system and truly wise students, are those who ask questions, analyze what they are told and are discerning consumers of information. Anyone can sit in a class and take notes like a robot, but the best and brightest will question what they are told and seek out alternative answers and verification. Remember most universities have an agenda in regards to what they want their students to walk away with after four year and what they want them to think and feel, and it is your job to figure out what that is and then dissect that mission to see how well it correlates with your beliefs, values and judgements about the world. 

  1. If you are studying humanities your major doesn’t really matter so pick something you enjoy 

The humanities get a bad rap in the university system these days. Most people are quick to judge a liberal arts degree on its lack of job prospects or its limited salary opportunities, but the truth is that the humanities make the world go round and most of why the humanities are important, or where scholarship is being formed, is not inside a classroom, unlike the sciences or technology. Rather the humanities are most vibrant outside of college campuses in theaters and bookstores and living rooms gathering round the TV. Therefore if you are choosing to study something in the humanities, or social sciences even, don’t worry so much about the specific degree or the major, just choose something that you enjoy. A person with a world languages degree can still become a college president, a person with a communications degree can still become a CEO, a person with a dance degree can still become a lawyer. The degree itself should be more focused on what brings you joy and passion as opposed to job prospects or salary, not because those things don’t matter but because after graduation your major become less relevant to your career. To be honest most jobs in the humanities are looking for a college degree, not what your major was. 

  1. Community college is a great choice- not a cop out or inferior to a university 

As someone who works in the community college system I am a huge proponent of its academic and financial opportunities. People will be quick to point out that it is not as fun or fulfilling as a 4 year college, but I feel like people are so quick to judge community college as inferior both socially and academically. However, community college is a great for people who are unsure what they want to study or want to get their grades up or want to/need to save money on tuition. it is so important to validate the choice to go to community college as a wise and responsible choice. Most community colleges allow for more one on one teaching and stronger relationships between students and professors. There are also tons of community colleges with great student programs and dorms! 

  1. Going to college is not necessarily a sign of intelligence or superiority 

That said, and in light of the college admissions scandal, please note that going to a four year university does not mean you are better or smarter than anyone else. Not everyone deserves their spot in a 4 year university.  It is also not the straight and narrow to success.  lots of high schools will pressure students to go to 4 year schools to make them look good, while neglecting the fact that all students are different and everyone is on a different path in which a 4 year degree is not necessarily the best path for every student. Likewise, your college experience is what you make of it. Whether you are at Harvard of a poorly ranked state school, your college experience has the potential you allow it to have. 

  1. Use all that free time wisely!

Never again will you have as much free time as you do in college. Class from 11am until 2pm! Then afternoons and weekend free! Oh you don’t have Friday classes? What a paradise of irresponsibility! Partying every night! Sleeping until 2! But not so fast! All this free time is a precious gift not to be squandered on drunken bacchanals and sleeping until 2! After college it is 40 hour work weeks and days where you wished you just had 2 extra hours in the day to do something other than work, exercise, laundry and sleep. While you’re in college use all that time to pursue passion projects, start a business, get a side job and start saving money, join a inter-mural league, pick up a new hobby, learn a new language, exercise, the list goes on and on. Trust me on this one, you will miss those college days when you have to transition to the adult work week with no school holidays or summer vacations. You will miss all those carefree afternoons and endless playtime. Make sure you make it worth it! Never again will you have that kind of free time to pursue your dreams and goals. 

College is a tricky time full of expectations and hazy glimpses of an unclear future, and there are loads of things I wish I had known, or can see clearer, now that I have left the dorms and dirty frat alleys behind. College is a time to explore and experiment and pursue, and yet life is too short to make all the mistakes yourself, sometimes you just have to learn from other people’s mistakes. 

Good Luck,

Ellie xoxo

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Millennial Money Matters : Live off of Less

Money. Money. Money. Must be funny in the rich man’s world. Ahh the lyrics to another lit ABBA bop that also happens to be relate-able af. 

I know that this blog has primarily been about Millennial dating with splashes of culture critique here and there, but I want to chat a bit about money. Trust me I can make this relevant. You see money is a huge concern for millennials and ends up affecting their dating lives in many ways, whether they avoid it because they cant afford to take their Tinder hottie out to drinks, or girls looking for sugar daddies, or perhaps a man does want to propose because he is yet to get his finances in order. See I just tied it back to dating didn’t I? Money can actually have a huge impact on our dating lives whether we realize it or not. Truth be told money is the number one thing that couples fight about. If you can get your finances and debt in order now you will a. make yourself a more appealing mate and b. save yourself the trouble of entering into a debt ridden, financially unstable hot bed of resentment when you eventually want to settle down. 

The point is that money is a rather pressing matter for most Millennials, mostly because we are often caught in a dichotomous relationship with money and what we are suppose to be doing with it in our early twenties. On one hand the culture is rather adamant in telling us to “treat yo self” and that self care is comprised of luxury skin care purchases and manicures. We are often instructed that little luxuries are a right and not well…luxuries. On the other hand, we can’t seem to escape the deluge of news telling us how financially screwed millennials are, that we can’t afford homes due to our insatiable appetites for avocado toast, and we are drowning under student loan debt and that we are the most over educated and underemployed generation of all time. The two conflicting messages are confusing and daunting. One side of the story is telling me I am irreparably poor and the other is that I am entitled to constant frivolities. 
Where is the truth in this stream of messaging????

So first and foremost i want to unpack where these messages come from. They come from the media, an institution hell bent on keeping poor and miserable so that we look to them for whatever antidote they are selling. Obviously a “treat yo self” mindset is great for business! The spa business must be thriving! Likewise, financial consultation and so-called “get rich quick” schemes are big businesses in the western world, and the poorer people are, or at least feel (a la social media comparison) the more likely they are going to seek out solutions to problems that are perhaps not even real problems. Yeah, millennials have debt, but I wouldn’t exactly call them an impoverished generation with their fancy college degrees, North Face jacket collections, and Amazon Prime addictions. Yes, their 12 TV show subscriptions and weekly bottomless brunch routines might be irresponsible, but it doesn’t exactly scream financial struggling. All I am saying, is that it is possible the vague entity called the media is exaggerating/creating the “crisis” of millennials finances for their own benefit… Wouldn’t be the first time…

Now that we have called into question the legitimacy of millennial wealth or lack there of, lets get to my actual point. Millennials do have a lot of irresponsible money mindsets that i want to challenge. Regardless of where we rank on the salary totem pole, Millennials have an often negative relationship with money. They don’t know how to spend responsibly or save carefully and are unsure where to draw the line between the two. Moreover, most millennials just want to know how they can “live their truth” and follow their passions while also not going broke. 

The truth is that regardless of what you make you can still accumulate wealth. 

1. Change your mindset to live off of lessThink about how much you spend each month. Where does it all go? if you were to strip down that spending to the absolute bare bones necessity how much could you truly live off of? 
I want to challenge millennials to take a hard look at what really truly constitutes as necessary spending in their lives. When we make more we often spend more, but what if your expenditures did not change with income and your lifestyle remained the same no matter how much your salary increased over time? You would save a ton right!? Well that is the kind of mind set I want to encourage. Increasing our lifestyle every time we make more money keeps us enslaved to the system and creates wealth dependence not wealth Independence. When your lifestyle is independent of your income you are free from living paycheck to paycheck and your wealth is free to grow at increasing rates. So what does this look like? Reduce your lifestyle to bare bones necessities with a few splurges for priority items here and there and watch as you find yourself free from financial burdens. it is all about creating a more sustainable lifestyle, and not I am not talking about composting. It is about creating a lifestyle that doesn’t require much financial upkeep and leaves plenty of room for saving, rather than spending. So ditch the expensive habits and brand loyalty and treats in favor of a lifestyle that need only a minimum salary to maintain. 

2. Make sacrifices 
There is no such thing as wealth without sacrifice. It is a necessary component. What this means is that while you should treat yourself now and then and have a few splurges in which you enjoy your life, note that you will never accumulate wealth without making sacrifices in your spending and lifestyle choices. Shop at cheaper grocery stores, use coupons, drive a shittier car with cheaper insurance for a a while, delay gratification until you can actually afford it outright, say no to frivolous spending, live at home for a while,  say no to things you know won’t make you happier to add value to your life beyond a fleeting moment. I am not saying to quick eating out, but when you eat out that $30 meal lasted an hour, while the same 30 dollars could buy groceries for the week, or fill up your gas tank, or purchase a new dress that you wear for years. Be mindful of value and the value of the dollar. Recognize that sacrifice does not mean living worse with no benefits, it means making changes in which there will be more benefits in the future, such as a fatter savings account and the freedom to make bigger purchases when you are ready. Wouldn’t it be worth it to live at home for a year longer if it meant you could buy your own home 5 years sooner??? 

3. Become addicted to saving 
Saving money doesn’t sound like much fun, but once you start meeting those savings goals it is hard to not get excited watching that number in your account grow.  Soon making that account transfer is a source of endorphins and helps re-prioritize your spending. Perhaps that purchase you were saving up for does not really mean so much? Maybe it is more fun to keep your savings and keep growing it! 

4. Create new channels of wealth and never become dependent  on one channel 
The key to true financial independence is to never become dependent upon a sole income. When you are dependent upon that one income channel you reduce your options to make changes and adjustments in your life whether they are voluntary or involuntary. Being a slave to one job and one income means you are unable to step away from that position if you so chose, or perhaps if life got in the way. More income and more savings means more freedom and more options to make changes in your life. Maybe you want to go back to school or move to a new city or country, or stay at home with your kids more, or maybe you just want to take time off and travel, or maybe you want to go to part-time instead? Without single income dependence these opportunities become more manageable and realistic. As with dating, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, rather create a multitude of opportunities and possible opportunities for yourself. So what does this look like? It looks like having at least one side hustle, which in this gig economy is more than feasible, it looks like making investments with your savings, and it looks like saving as much of your salaries as you can. 

I know Instagram is a huge source of information on how our generation lives, or at least how we think our generation lives. Often times the ‘gram makes us think that the majority of our peers are on yachts in the Maldives sipping rose while you are at your cubicle job. This is both unrealistic and a false comparison based on a curated highlight reel. As a result, Instagram creates a lot of feeling of jealousy, inadequacy and social comparison that can drive us to a. feel bad about our own lives and b. inspire us to make purchases we don’t need. I myself have never spent more on skin care than I have while following beauty bloggers! It isn’t even necessarily that i am buying what they are selling , more that I felt more like I needed fancier skincare after watching their videos. It made me feel like I was one step closer to achieving their seemingly perfect lives. 

I think too often we get caught up with living our best life today, rather than preparing for our best life over the course of the next 40 years. And trust me when I say it does not take a fat salary to become wealthy, being wealthy really comes down to making wise money choices with whatever means you have, whether that be limited or abundant. Even if you have a entry level salary you can still save and accumulate wealth by living off of less, making sacrifices. becoming addicted to saving and creating multiple channels of income. 

Good luck,

xoxo Ellie

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