How Knowing Your “Why” Adds Value to Everything You Do

Did Brandon just completely disregard proper grammar in that last sentence? Actually no because I want to discuss what your “why” is in life and why everyone should have one. (Yes I know, straight to the information with this post. That’s because it’s serious!)

What Is Your “Why”?

So what does “why” mean? Simply put your “why” is the reason you get up in the morning; your “why” is the reason you put in x amount of hours in school or work and don’t mind it; your “why” is what motivates you.

This is often confused with your “what”. (I know, don’t be confused, it’ll all make sense in a little bit and you’ll thank me for it later.) Your “what” is the means you communicate and work towards your “why”. Let’s imagine for a moment your “what” is the car you drive and your “why” is your destination. Here’s the thing, without the destination you’re just driving and wasting gas. When you don’t know your “why” then your “what” gets lost along the way.

Here’s a great video to watch to explain your “why” more in-depth:

 

Pretty cool, right? But do you see what he meant? When he understood why he was singing the song, it became that much more powerful.

Why is “Why” so Important?

“Why” is important because when you know what it is, everything you do from then on is more meaningful, “Because you’re walking in or towards your purpose.” Here is another video to explain the power of your “why” and will literally make you feel as if anything is possible:

 

Alright, go out, run a marathon, and come back and finishing reading because if that didn’t motivate you I don’t know what will! My favorite quote is at the beginning because it emphasizes what I’m trying to tell you, “Be brave enough to write down every goal if you want to, but I’m going to tell you something life is going to hit you in your mouth and you gotta do me a huge favor, your ‘why’ has to be greater than that knockdown.”

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows,” – Rocky Balboa

The world is a nasty place and it will beat you if you aren’t prepared. But as Rocky says, “It isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Your “why” is what keeps you moving forward. I’ve been hit square in the face by life numerous times, and it won’t be the last time either, but I continue to smile and live my life because I know my “why”.

What is my “why”? My “why” is being a genuine service to help others solve their problems. My “what” is writing this blog, sharing personal stories, and making people laugh. If I’m not having a good day that doesn’t mean I can’t improve somebody else’s and when I do, my day improves that much more because I am working with my “why” at the front of my mind.

My “why” keeps me going when times are rough and life is kicking me in the gut; my “why” keeps me searching for that job or position in life where I can be a consistent service and help others be successful. So what’s your “why”? What will you use to motivate you through life but also use to fight back when life is sitting on your head and you want to tap out? I challenge all of you to sit down and think about your “why” and “what” and from that point on to do everything with your “why” in clear sight.

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The Difference and Verdict on Work-Life Balance and Work-Life Blending

Whether it’s high school, college, or life you’ll have a million and one things to do at the same time and the only way you can stay sane is to learn to balance everything. This is a virtue I treasure because it took a lot of trial and error to learn how to balance school and life but after being an RA I learned how to do it, and quite effectively if I do say so myself. BUT recently my friend Mariah had to throw a wrench in the mix and tell me about work-life blending and everything I knew was flipped upside down. So today I want to discuss the difference between the two and give you my verdict on which I would use.

Work-Life Balance

This is the most common answer most people give employers and friends when asked, “You’re so busy all the time, how do you find the time to…?” and most people would answer with well organized work-life balance. It even has its own Wikipedia page, but what does that really mean?

Let’s look at a scale as an example, an instrument to weigh and balance objects. On one side you can put work and on the other side life and perhaps they’ll even out, which is what people strive for. So when people say they’re balancing work and life they literally mean they go to work, leave it there, and then go home to live their lives and do the things they would’ve rather been doing instead of work and even out the time.

Sounds pretty basic, find the happy medium, call it good, now what is work-like blending?

Work-Life Blending

The less common phrase to most people and I just heard about it two days ago. Yet there have been articles like this one from the Huffington Post from two years ago promoting it in your life.

I’m a very visual person so let’s do another example! How about a blender?! Imagine you’re loading up the blender and your two ingredients are work and life and then you press frappe. (Why frappe? Because it’s a fun word and I want to add a little flair here and there.)

So now you’re left with a mixture of work and life, make sense? Not entirely? Okay, let’s compare the two and I’ll give my verdict.

Which is Best?

As a person who strove for work-life balance most of his life, and after learning about work-life blending, I believe blending is the way to go. Why? Let’s use our images again!

I think my biggest problem, after thinking about the images, is the scale itself. Just look at it, work and life are physically separated. Because they aren’t mixed, life can sit there and look at work and grow more bitter by the day. Additionally, it may not always be easy to achieve balance if you start to resent your work. If that happens it takes its toll on your personal life because it saps the energy out of you and suddenly that work side of the scale weighs significantly more than the life side. Not so much balance there.

Let’s contrast that with the blender. Here you can see work and life are mixed together and when you do find a good mix of the two the joy you receive from one rubs off onto the other. Work should never be something you do to just do it, it should be something that enhances your life and brings you joy doing and when you view it not as work anymore but fun it becomes a part of your life.

The zodiac sign for Libra

A side note: a scale isn’t much fun unless you’re a banker, I’m a Libra and I don’t find it that fascinating, but look at the blender! Have you ever seen these videos? Behold the power of the blender! Okay, rant over.

Here are a few tips to incorporate blending into your life, they are described in depth in the Huffington Post article from earlier but here are the cliff notes:

1. Identify what your values are in life 

2. Build your work around those values 

3. Adjust on a regular basis 

Notice how I said a “mixture” of work and life earlier, not a solution (My science-nerd friends get this) A mixture has visible components and can easily be separated such as salsa and this is so you can re-evaluate your life goals and realign them with work to ensure blending doesn’t turn into workaholism.

It is my belief nothing should ever come in your way of enjoying life, but work can’t be ignored either. It should be everyone’s goal to find work that brings them joy to go to every day and doesn’t make you put your life on hold. If this isn’t the case I suggest you take a closer look at your work-life blending.

I like to believe I do this with this blog. I value being a service to other people and I created this blog so I could help college-aged students or any other readers with their problems. As some of you may have noticed I do frequently adjust my posts depending on what the week looks like or current events and because that’s my life. I enjoy writing the blog and helping people and the feeling I get when I write on here spills over to the rest of my life.

So give it a try, you may just like it and find a new outlook on life.

Why Ignorance Should Never Be Bliss In Today’s Society

First off you should know I always loved the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss!” Why? Because if there is something bad going on and you don’t know about it then you don’t worry. For example, somebody drops your toothbrush in the toilet and you don’t know about it, you’ll just brush your teeth like any other day; ignorance is bliss. Or somebody went to the bathroom and didn’t wash their hands after and proceeded to touch every doorknob on campus (Don’t think I don’t see you sir!) but ignorance is bliss. And now that I’ve fully paranoid and grossed everyone out about their toothbrush and doorknobs, I want to discuss why ignorance can no longer be bliss in today’s society.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not nearly as informed as I should be, but I make an effort to listen or read the news daily to find out what is happening in the world or close to home. Why am I making a big issue about this? Because many students go off to college and have the time of their lives hanging with friends and putting these current events as far as possible from their minds.

But here’s a news flash: CURRENT EVENTS DON’T STOP! They’re current for a reason and just because you put them out of your mind doesn’t stop them from happening and effecting your lives. So let’s take a look at a few things we can’t afford to ignore anymore.

Racism and Gender Inequality

We’re almost 50 years past the Civil Rights Movement and yet incidents of racial violence and hate are still happening in our nation. Within the past year alone we have seen incidents at college campuses such as the University of Missouri and the University of Wisconsin along with the unnecessary use of force by police on several occasions against colored people.

The same goes for gender inequality. From the entertainment industry and sporting world to regular business professions the gender pay gap still persists. To me this doesn’t fundamentally make sense; women outnumber men in college attendance and are quickly becoming the most educated workers but even if they have similar levels of education men are still more likely make more.

We are supposed to be one of the most advanced and evolved nations on this planet and yet we find ourselves still failing to open our eyes to the reality of these situations and act to change them. We can’t brush these issues under the rug anymore because if we continue to do just that, we’ll halt all progress made and start heading backward.

These issues play directly into the other reason we need to stay up-to-date on current events: the impending election and remaining primaries.

Political Candidates

We have, arguably, one of the most important elections for President of the United States approaching in November and many primary elections still remaining. This is one issue nobody should ever take lightly because who is elected will be running our country for the next four years, but the problem remains that many people are under informed and don’t get out to vote.

My friend Jarjieh shared this great article a couple weeks ago about “How non-voters blew it” and it discusses how Republican turnout has been the highest in primaries since the 1980s, but only 17% of eligible voters have turned out. If all eligible voters would have turned out to vote, the candidates in the race for nomination could look a lot different from what they do now. (I just want to point out, before I make my next statement, I don’t care whether you’re a democrat, republican, socialist, independent, or whatever, your political leanings are your own business, not mine.) And I have to agree with Jarjieh when he said, “If you think you can just ‘sit this one out’ or vote for Mickey Mouse, think again. You might be letting hatred and bigotry win.”

We are a progressive country and if we don’t vote we could be taking yet another step in the wrong direction. But in order to vote, one MUST be informed. It’s true, many people do ultimately pick the candidate they would rather sit down and have a beer with, but is that helping our country? We need informed citizens selecting the candidate best fit to run this country or fear further exacerbation of the racism and gender inequality still prevalent in our society.

There are many, many more problems that can be discussed and should no longer be ignored, but the point I want to make is we can no longer sit back and let the “adults” handle it. As we college students come of age it’s now our duty to voice our concerns and help resolve conflicts and problems. If your state still hasn’t had its primary election yet, take this time to do your research and when they day comes make your voice heard. Ignorance shall no longer be bliss until we can learn to be as informed as possible and help move the world to the more equal Eden we have only dreamed of in the past.

 

 

 

Why Nice Weather is Good For Studying and Not a Drag

Spring Break is over for most college students everywhere (a moment of silence as my last break before the real world comes to an end, I’ll be okay I swear) Buttttttt this means the weather is starting to get warm again, which means what? That’s right! Procrastination! Students are eager to get outside and play around or just sit and absorb as much sun as possible while seemingly putting their studies on hold, but I want to argue today the nice weather is actually a God-send for college students and their studies.

First I should explain what “nice” weather means in the state of Wisconsin. Nic

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How we look to other states

e includes a day where it isn’t snowing or raining for once, obviously, but it also means the temperature is anything above 40 degrees. Call us crazy but that is short-wearing weather for us and it’s absolutely beautiful. People in the south will be bundled up when it hits 56 degrees and we’ll be playing sand/snow volleyball while setting up the grill to have a day! We deal with some of the most frigid temperatures throughout the winter so 40 degrees in the spring is our new 75 degrees.

But for many people the nice weather causes us to temporarily forget about our studies until we’re half way through a game of ultimate frisbee and suddenly it hits us and our heart drops. But the nice weather can actually help us in more ways than you think and the first way comes with Vitamin D.

UV Radiation Helps Produce Vitamin D

I learned a lot in my nutri sci class a year ago but one thing that stuck with me was our body’s ability to produce its own Vitamin D with ultraviolet radiation. Why is this important for college students? Many students suffer seasonal depression in the winter and studies have shown a strong correlation between seasonal depression and Vitamin D levels.

The studies indicate people who suffer seasonal depression generally also have low levels of Vitamin D. Now doesn’t this make sense? You ever try to do homework or study in the winter and just feel down and out of it? The lack of direct time under the sun in the winter causes us to be slightly deficient in Vitamin D and puts us in a bad mood. Needless to say, once the weather gets nicer outside we spend more time directly under the sun, raise our natural Vitamin D levels, and feel happier which improves our work ethic too.

We may not realize it because we aren’t spending as much time on our work, but because we feel better work becomes slightly more tolerable. Not only are we able to get out and increase our Vitamin D levels, but we can also now exercise outside!

Exercising Outside

Personally I hate running on treadmills in the winter; I can’t readily adjust my speed, I feel like my feet are made of lead, and it hurts my knees so my running usually takes a hit in the winter, unfortunately. But yesterday I poked my head outside, saw a friend running, felt guilty about my lack of exercise, and went for a run.

Me giving it everything I had

I hadn’t felt energetic or motivated to do work all day. After my run I felt better about myself and managed to get everything I had on my to-do list done in no time. I know I’ve talked about the mental and physical benefits of exercising in the winter before, but even I have to admit it isn’t the easiest thing to make your way to a gym in the dead of winter. With nice weather you can just lace up your running shoes, step outside, and start running. The evidence doesn’t lie, exercising improves our cognitive abilities and academic performance. So now when you’re stressed with your work you can go outside for a quick run and return with a more clear state of mind and be ready to rock it!

But my favorite thing about the nicer weather is probably the most obvious, especially if you’ve read most of my posts: you get a break from doing work!

Break From Work

I’m a big promoter of educated break taking. Nobody knows your mental and physical capacities better than you and to me it doesn’t make much sense to study for eight hours straight. I know this is much harder in the winter because you can’t actively go outside to distract yourself and then you’re held captive by your studies in a small room. With the nice weather you now don’t have that excuse.

Studies do show trying to focus on something for prolonged periods of time is actually counterproductive and brief breaks improve attention and performance. Here is your new excuse to avoid studying! But I really shouldn’t say avoid studying because it’s actually ENHANCING your studying.

So don’t look at the nice weather as a hindrance to your studying, embrace it and use it to help you study! Even if that means taking your notes or computer outside with you, get out, raise those Vitamin D levels, take a study break, and let your mind reset a little so you can come back and ace that exam or paper.

Why It’s Important to Never Stop Dreaming In College

You ever just zone out in class and try to think of the million dollar idea that could get you out of all the debt you’re accumulating while you fail to pay attention? Same. At least once a day I sit in class and daydream about different ideas that could make me rich. Some people might say this is a bad thing because I’m missing information from class, but I challenge this is a good thing and I want to explain why you should never stop dreaming in college.

First let’s think about actual dreaming and how great it is. You get to see things that might never happen in real life, whether it’s good or bad, and it’s a miraculous feat of your brain no matter what. Now, sleep dreaming is important because it improves memory, lowers stress, and promotes creativity which carries over to daydreaming in college:

Helps Creativity

Sometimes projects call for creativity, like the one time I had a group project and we had to think of a new product and an entire marketing plan behind it. We knew how to do the planning, but we needed the product, which was the hardest part. Eventually we came up with the Friendzone App; basically an app to meet people of any gender in your area based on mutual interests with the strict purpose for friendships, not romantic intentions.

This idea was the spawn of a lot of daydreaming. For my part it came fro
m when I interned in Missouri over the summer and didn’t know anybody there. I just wanted a friend to show me around and grab a beer with and I wished there was a match.com for friends. My daydreaming helped take this abstract concept and make it more concrete and tangible (By the way, for those intrigued by the idea, I have the marketing plan and friends who are looking to start it up, so if you’re looking to invest let me know)

When we let our minds wander we do our best work, which is what creative people are able to do and creative people are often more successful, but daydreaming also improves your working memory.

Improves Working Memory

A study done at the University of Wisconsin (Ayyy!) shows daydreaming correlates with higher functioning in working memory. Additionally, daydreamers’ minds wander because they have too much extra capacity to focus on the tasks at hand. This means you can multitask and retain more information in the face of distractions.

So you can leave class, talk to a friend, pick up eggs at Kwik Trip because they’re only 99 cents compared to other superstores, and then still remember to fill out the job application your professor told you to do. Next time your teacher tells you to get your head out of the clouds just respond, “I’m strengthening my working memory!” and later you’ll be able to successfully encode that information and remember it for a later.

Along with improving your working memory, sometimes you just need to daydream to get your through the day and keep hoping you’ll come up with the next great idea. Until then, you can rejoice in the fact daydreaming also improves your mood.

It Improves Your’s and Others’ Moods

One day I sprinted home, burst through the door, forced my roommate Ryan to stop doing dishes, and sit down to help me plan our future brewery. I was so excited about this “million dollar idea” it rubbed off on Ryan and his exact words were, “I’m loving all this positive energy right now!”

It’s true, I thought of a brilliant idea for a brewery which I would share here but you may take it and that just wouldn’t be fair. I had the idea, the target audience, and the entire marketing plan laid out within an hour and a half. I was stoked! But I forgot one thing…I have no clue how to brew beer. Yeah I know, I can sit and learn the art and trade and eventually make a beer I could sit down and say, “This isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever tried to drink,” but it takes years to perfect that craft and I have student loans to pay off now!

My point isn’t the fact my dream of owning a brewery may never come true, but I did have a dream of doing so and that dream improved my mood, and Ryan’s, significantly. We felt like we could conquer the world after building this dream together and from that moment on in the day we felt motivated and got all of our work done faster than ever.

This is the main reason I dream, to improve my mood. I like to think of what-ifs, potential outcomes, and happy memories and when I think about these I immediately feel better and when one person feels happier it rubs off on others. Another reason I daydream is because of the potential that can come. There’s the old saying if you can dream it, you can do it, but I was once told, “If you don’t dream it, you won’t do it.” It’s a life lesson I learned from Chris Rudolph at the American Family Dream Bank in Madison, WI, and it’s true, if you don’t conceive a dream first, you will never take the steps toward that dream.

So I have the dream of opening a brewery or a coffee and doughnut shop and because I have that dream it means there is potential for it to come true. Maybe not now or in the near future but so long as I’m dreaming, I’m happy and content and working my way toward success.

Literally the two best things in life

How to Answer, “What’s Your Perfect Job,” and Why I Dislike It

Why yes, it is Spring Break, thank you for noticing! What was that? Am I relaxing? HA! I’m a senior with less than two months to graduation and desperately trying to get interviews while staying on top of my class work, there isn’t much relaxing, even now. In fact, a couple weeks ago I had a job interview which went really well, thanks for asking! However, one question in any interview I’ve ever had always trips me up: What’s your perfect job? I want to share why I dislike this question and give three potential answers you could give in an interview.

There are two reasons I dislike this question; the first because it’s conditional on age. If you’re a freshman and have to answer this question, odds are it’s pretty easy, especially if you just discovered your major. Political science: law or politician; biology: vet or doctor; engineering: engineering. The dream job exists and the options are endless in your mind, but as classes get more difficult and you progress through college, this starts to become more obscure.

By the time you’re a junior or senior you begin to question everything you’ve ever thought. You could be a biology major all throughout college, have a couple internships at hospitals, and then suddenly realize this isn’t what you wanted at all! Life=upside down. Now when you’re a senior and what you thought you were going to pursue is no longer an option you are left without an answer and feel lost, and I completely relate to you!

My second reason is simply because your dream job could be completely different from the job you’re currently interviewing for. For instance, my dream job is owning a coffee and doughnut shop (Could you think of a better place to be in? I mean you’re surrounded by the best smells in the world and you bring joy to people daily! That’s the dream!) But do they really want to hear that answer if I’m in an interview for say a bank job? Who knows! That’s why this question is so hard to answer, but here are the three ways I could answer this question.

The Realistic One

Employer at a newspaper: “What’s your perfect job?”

Interviewee: “Ah yes, great question, one I’ve thought about often. My perfect job is editor-in-chief. I like to be the leader and see to completion all phases of the projects placed in my hands. This also insures I know the project is going in the direction it’s intended and the consumers are receiving the correct information.”

Not bad, right? I’m sure an employer would love to hear this answer because it shows direction and determination. I know many people who have this kind of answer sealed in their minds and a clear idea of their perfect job, but not everyone’s perfect job is within the field they’re applying and they give the actual answer.

The Actual One

Employer at a business firm: “What’s your perfect job?”

Interviewee: “Thank you for asking. My perfect job is president of the United States. I’ve wanted to be president ever since I was in fifth grade. I could finally pass the laws and policies that would make the world a better place.”

Not a bad look, right?

On the surface it sounds like a joke, but it could work if you justify it. “At a firm like *Insert Business Firm* I can further expand my skills and use them to advance to my next stage in life. This position will allow me to better myself, the business, and the people we serve on my way to being president. Not too bad actually? Now, don’t go into your next interview and throw down some random perfect job and not be prepared to back it up because Brandon said so, but expressing your dreams in this sort of environment may demonstrate creativity and determination to get to that job. But some may still not know what their perfect job may be and they give the truth.

The Truthful One

Employer at a research lab: “What’s your perfect job?”

Interviewee: “I’m happy you asked that and the truth is I’m not entirely sure. I’m young and haven’t had the opportunity to explore different positions yet, but I know what I’m looking for in my perfect job. I want a job which brings me joy to go to each day and gives me the opportunity to improve the lives of the people I am trying to help.”

This will show you’re honest and have integrity but may need a little help along the way to narrow down and find that perfect position. It doesn’t mean you’re any less motivated you just need a little more time to figure out what the specific perfect job might be.

These aren’t all the answers you could give and they may not even be the ones you should give in an interview (What? Do I look like I’m giving the questions in an interview? Come on, I’m in the same boat as all of you!) But everyone is different and for the most part it depends on how you give your answer.

If you’re beginning to interview, I may not like this question but it is a good question to consider and here are others to consider. How you answer will say a lot about who you are and give them insight into your goals for the position and life. Good luck!

 

 

An Open Letter On March Madness to College Professors

As a college student and a sports fan we’ve entered my favorite season of the year, not spring! Spring is wet, cold, and muddy all the time minus the few days you can step outside and say, “This is alright,” and then boom! It rains for a week straight, but I digress. No, we’ve entered March Madness, essentially the second season for college basketball which, for many college students, begins two days before our Spring Break and professors choose to hold class on those days. As I know I’m not the only college student who shares this sentiment I would like to compose a letter to all professors, especially those whose schools are in the tournament, on behalf of those students and express what they are thinking during their class.

Dear Valued Professors,

We want you to know we appreciate everything you have to offer us as we further our educations and broaden our minds. You’re THE leading experts in your fields and we can see the passion in your eyes as you teach us your trade, but you have to understand something at this time of year…

Most of us are checked out! For many of us March Madness has been a month long process with papers, exams, and stress holding us down while the thought of Spring Break and rest taunts us in the distance. Although some of us get the basketball tournament and Spring Break during the same week, not all of us can be that lucky and we feel their pain. This is why we propose optional classes for those two days.

We understand we’re spending the money to get this education and every class cancelled or skipped costs us about $51. But you have to understand we’ve been coming to class for weeks straight working day in and day out. With the heaping amounts of stress, coupled with Spring Break being so close we can touch it, we are beat and need to blow off some steam, and many of us do this by filling out a bracket and watching the games.

It’s completely trivial, we know. How many statistics we can look at and scenarios we can ponder doesn’t really matter because we can’t control how a team plays just as we can’t in any other sport. What we can do is watch and enjoy as our brackets either sink or swim and feel good about the potential upsets we picked or how well our brackets have done compared to others.

Additionally, with as much respect as possible, we reluctantly have to inform you nobody is paying attention in class on the Thursday before Spring Break and when the tournament begins. This is most likely the scene you will see in class that Thursday: about half the normal number of students that do show up because half have already left for Spring Break and the other half decided to stay home to watch the games; 25% look like they’re taking notes on their computers but are really watching the game playing during that class; 15% are asleep because they are so worn down but felt the need to show up; and 5% are actually paying attention and we give them a hardy pat on the back because they have powered through their month and keep going strong.

For the rest of us we apologize, we are only human.We have succumbed to lethargy as our Spring Break begins in two days and the tournament has begun sooner making it increasingly difficult to focus in class. We don’t need class to be cancelled, it would be nice but we ultimately do understand. A simple acknowledgement of the tournament, maybe a little peak into one of the games, and a joke about your busted bracket will suffice. This will make us feel better and help you appear human, as we all are. (An abbreviated class wouldn’t hurt either, for those with Spring Break clouding their minds)

We hope you understand and will take into consideration our thoughts on March Madness and Spring Break. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

College Students Everywhere

*May your brackets rest in peace

 

 

3 Ways You Can and Should Fit Your Family Into Your Spring Break Plans

(A sigh of relief) Yes, the long awaited break from midterms, papers, and stress has finally arrived for college and high school students alike. For many of us in Wisconsin we’re tired of the cold, rainy weather and dream of being on a beach with friends having a day (Yes, having a day, make it what you want it to be). As enticing as that sounds I have never taken a typical “Spring Break” trip as many of my fellow colleagues have and I’m perfectly fine with that! Those trips are gross, people don’t shower for days, and odds are you’re standing in puke almost all the time, in fact read all about it here; besides I got to spend time with my family instead.

Think of it this way, you lived in their household for 18 years straight. They’re used to seeing you every day for 18 years and then after high school you’re just gone for months on end and probably don’t call as much as you should. I know not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay I can handle arguments the other way, but I feel if you don’t get home very often it wouldn’t hurt to spend a Spring Break at home with you family. For those intrigued by this thought I want to show you three ways you can include your family in your spring break plans and still have fun.

1. Go Home

Let’s put all the angsty teenage thoughts about wanting to get out of the house and start your life away for a moment. When was the last time you were home to see your family? Christmas time? That’s what I thought! Also, here’s a crazy thought, they miss you and want to spend time with you! Everyone has a moment in college where they miss their parents and just want to go home and there is no better time to do so than Spring Break.

Returning home for break meant I would have a home cooked meal, not something the dining hall threw in a deep fryer or microwaved and said it was edible. Home is where my comfy bed is and I can sleep for hours on end. And most importantly home is where my pets and family are. Those are the two things that will always give you unconditional love and as the second half of the semester begins to wind up and finals start soon after, it wouldn’t hurt to spend some time with people who shower you with love.

2. Take an Abbreviated Trip

This Spring Break I’m going home and I can’t wait, I miss my family a lot, but I also enjoy being with my friends. So the first weekend of break I’m taking an abbreviated trip with some friends to Chicago and then going home. This gives you the best of both worlds because you have your friends for a small part with a trip and then you can go home for a still very significant chunk of time and be with your family.

Another reason I like this option is because it helps me ease into my “Break” mindset. If I ever went home for a weekend to visit my family during the school year it always went by so fast and I never got to enjoy my weekends with them fully. If I start out my weekend on a small trip with friends it makes me think it’s like all other weekends so I relax a little more without the impending sadness of leaving my family. Then I realize I get to go home and spend a week with my family and I feel I can enjoy it that much more! (It’s all psychological if you really think about)

3. Take a Trip With Your Family

Sophomore year in college my dad and I took a trip to Washington D.C. together, which I believe everybody should do once in their life. We both love history and wanted to go for the longest time. We also figured it would be warmer than Wisconsin over there so it couldn’t hurt. (We were very much wrong, it was in the 60s the day we got there and then two days later it snowed 3 inches and they shut down EVERYTHING!! We clearly were not in Wisconsin anymore)

My dad and I in D.C.

This was a great father and son trip, we got to experience the Metro after a Washington Capitals hockey game and I introduced him to Chipotle and their guacamole and he is addicted now. I look back on those memories fondly and will never forget the time we had together and it goes to show you don’t have to just go on a trip with your friends to make great memories.

Some of my motivation for this post comes from Spring Break being next week and I’m excited for some much needed rest; some is because I miss my animals and can’t wait to cuddle with them. Mostly my motivation comes from my thoughts about graduating in two months and the realization I won’t have many more chances to spend with my family.

I have my whole life to go to a beach with friends and visit new places, but not the rest of my life with my family. Don’t take them for granted, they miss you even if they don’t say it or show it, they do. I will never regret a moment I spend a break with my family because I love them and cherish every moment I have with them. Now don’t go out and cancel your plans because Brandon said so, that’s bad, bad collegegartner (Read my post about collegegarten here) but maybe next time before you get all amped to go down South and party with your friends, think of your parents and how they want to spend some time with you before you begin your new life after college, there will be more chances to go down South later on.

To my family reading this, I love you and will see you soon.

 

Why Being A Morning Person Helps My Anxiety

My roommate Lorenzo often questions why I wake up over two hours before my first class in the morning when I can just roll out of bed at 10:30 and make it to my 11 o’clock class. I can give him a bunch of answers that are true such as I get to eat a well-balanced breakfast or I don’t like wasting the day, but the real reason I do it is to help with my anxiety. Yes, as a matter of fact I too suffer from anxiety, the most common mental health problem for college students. So today I want to discuss my anxiety and how being a morning person has actually helped me overcome it.

Let’s back up for a minute, we all experience anxiety in one way, shape, or form in our lives whether it’s with exams, job interviews, or making important decisions, but an anxiety disorder is different. Anxiety is defined as feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. This has often caused me to freeze up while studying and just sit there feeling despair closing in on me, but I overcome it because I am stronger than this disorder and so are you! How neat is that?! *Everyone hears “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten playing*

Now, Brandon, how does waking up early help you with your anxiety? Oh I love how you all ask the important questions!

I’m Not Scatterbrained

Have you ever slept through an alarm or just chose to wake up late to get to class? It’s the most stressful thing in the world! You fly out of bed, put one sock on while losing the other, put your shirt on inside out, and forget to zip the fly of your pants for the whole day! Not to mention you probably grabbed the wrong notebook  and realize it when you get there and then don’t take the notes because it would just mess up your whole note-taking system. (Rant over)

Who wants to live that way? That literally has anxiety builder written all over it. Waking up early allows me to gather my proper notebooks, find both socks, prepare my lunch, and plan the day. I’m not rushed to get to class or hurry along in the mornings. When you have anxiety it’s a load off your mind when you have some control over what’s going on around you.

It Gives Me Relief

You know what the best feeling in the world is? Waking up before your alarm goes off, checking the time, and seeing you have another hour left to sleep! (Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about) This is how I feel every morning I wake up early because I get to make my breakfast, eat it, check the clock, and see I still have two hours to prepare myself for the day.

You probably assume I am proactive with those two hours and get my work done, well you’re wrong, I’m still an active procrastinator at heart and if I woke up and started doing work my anxiety would be worse. So instead I watch Seinfeld from 8-9!

If you haven’t watched Seinfeld you probably should because it’s literally about everyday life, well it’s actually a show about nothing but you get the gist. Anyway, it brings joy to my life and helps me relax in the mornings. So I finish my breakfast, finish Seinfeld, and now I still have at least an hour to do what? That’s right! Watch Kelly&Michael because they’re always happy and it rubs off on me!

Some people believe in relaxing at night but I believe in doing it in the morning as my form of meditation. After watching these shows my mood is lighter, my mind is more clear, and allows me to relax and ease into my day.

I Get To Eat Breakfast

I mentioned earlier this was a true statement! It does help me with my anxiety because I’m not going from hour to hour starving and looking for my next meal. A well-balanced breakfast gives me the vitamins and nutrients and yada yada yada…The real reason I get up for breakfast is so I can get my morning coffee.

Don’t call it an obsession, I have control over this, coffee is just something I love! I wouldn’t mind being a barista one day because a) I’m surround by the delicious aroma of coffee all day, and b) I would get to talk to people, two of my favorite things, but this is beside the point.

You can just smell the picture

Now this may sound counterproductive to my argument because I know caffeine is often called an anxiety inducer, but not for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been drinking it for so long the caffeine doesn’t affect me anymore, maybe it’s because I associate drinking coffee with catching up with friends, or maybe it’s simply because I enjoy it. It’s my own reward in the morning and makes me happy, but most importantly it’s something I have control over, and that is the real key to my mornings and anxiety.

Anxiety sufferers everywhere know how it feels when they think everything is spinning out of control and they can’t do anything to stop it, but you can. I wake up early because it gives me control over MY day, not anxiety’s day. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have anxiety attacks every now and then, but if I start my day with time to prepare, gather my thoughts while relaxing, and reward myself for making it that far, I have a solid start to the day and gain a better hold on my anxiety and I know you can do the same.

Not all of these things may work for you and that’s okay, but I urge you to try out a morning-person lifestyle and find something you can have control over. You’ll be amazed with what a little bit of control in your life can do for your anxiety.

 

 

Know Your Body and Take Time To Do You

I’ve mentioned before I don’t get sick often but every four years something comes along and just kicks me right on my ass, and this was the fourth year in the cycle. A couple weeks ago I woke up with congestion and a sore throat and I couldn’t hear out of my right ear. The scene my roommates walked in on two weeks ago was me sleeping on the couch, Dayquil in one hand, two bottles of orange juice propped up next to me, and blanket pulled all the way up to my neck; I was miserable. But I was miserable because I didn’t treat myself right away. So today I want to talk to you all about why it’s so important to know your body and its limitations and to take time for yourself.

Know Your Body

I ran track in high school, mostly the 100 and 200 m dashes but only the 400 m dash my senior year (yes, it is as awful as it sounds).  I’m a very competitive person and I always wanted to do my best, but I also struggled with severe shin splints. My shin splints were so bad I thought every time my foot hit the track it was just going to break and I would finally have some relief. Some times I could barely walk and I would have to tell my coach I had to sit out of practice and his words have stuck with me to today, “Hey, you got it, you know your body better than I do.”

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I’m on the left

I would feel bad because I had to sit out while others practiced but the more I thought about it I started to think, “Yeah! You’re right, you don’t know my body, only I do!” I found solace in that at the time and I still do today because nobody can ever tell you they know your body better than you do. This also means you need to recognize your limitations.

I discussed this in my post about my half marathon but it’s still pertinent to this topic. If you’re stressed or feeling under the weather I know a lot of people, including myself, can put on a good face and make it seem like they’re fine when really all we’re thinking about is climbing into our nice warm beds and sleeping for two days or all the work we have ahead of us.

Nobody is going to think any differently of you if you miss a class because you’re sick and a) can’t make it because you’re miserable, or b) you don’t want to get others sick. I had to miss class today because I had a doctor’s appointment and I was able to get my notes from others in the class. Here at the UW we have the ability to contact students in your class and get your notes and I would assume other colleges have a similar service, so you can’t be truly missing everything.

Knowing your limitations is one thing but you also need to know when to take time for yourself.

Take Time For Yourself

Yeah, I said it, now do it! I graduate in two months (he says as he holds back a tear) and I need to apply for jobs, stay on top of my school work, help with my student org, and find sleep in there somewhere. I’m a ball of stress at times, and currently sick, and I often forget to take time for myself because of school or “obligations” to others. (I put obligations in quotes because although you may consider them obligations, they may be expendable if you need to take a time out for your own well-being).

The same can be said for when you’re sick: you need to know your limitations first and then realize class or work may not happen that day. Now I know this may cause some anxiety but it will all be okay, you know why? That’s right! Because Brandon said so! I’m so happy you’re all learning. I had an audition yesterday to be a presenter for my student org and I had to cancel it because I still felt like I should be left at the curb with the garbage. I felt bad I had missed my chance, but here’s why it’s okay…People understand if you’re under the weather! They understood I wasn’t feeling the best and they’re giving me another chance to audition tomorrow. (Wish me luck!)

TAs, professors, employers, whoever it is you’re in contact with, if they’re understanding and kind-hearted people, they will grant you this request and give you the opportunity to make up what you missed. This doesn’t mean you can take advantage of them and constantly say you’re sick, they will catch on and you will face dire consequences. The point is, there comes a time with both stress and sickness that you need to realize you haven’t done something just for yourself lately and maybe it’s time you stopped and did that for once.

Buy yourself a chocolate bar (I recommend Lindt’s 70% Dark Chocolate, you’ll thank me later), go to the gym or for a run, grab coffee with a friend or by yourself, or stay home with soup and cold medicine. Treat yo self, fool! Do you for once and you will see your mood drastically improve and the more time you take to heal your sickness, the better you will feel overall and come back ready to conquer the world!

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Would you just look at it?!