Alexis M Stapp

Portfolio — and more!

Things I’ve Learned in My 20s

Several friends made bucket lists a la “30 things to do before I turn 30″ as their big 3-0 approached.  I had planned to do this, until half of my 29th year slipped by and I hadn’t come up with even 15 things I wanted to do and could reasonably accomplish before my 30th birthday.  At first, it seemed a bit sad that I couldn’t come up with even 30 things.  Am I a boring person who has no motivation or ambition, and can’t come up with goals?  See: my non-resolutions.

But really, most of the things I want to accomplish will take a bit longer than a year to do – like taking a cross-country road trip east to west on I-90 or I-50, having a massive vegetable garden, owning my own home, traveling the world, etc.  These all take time to play out and not a little bit of cash.  Not only do I just not have the money for most of it but for half of my 29th year, I was deeply immersed in graduate school.  (And, can I take a moment to toot my own horn again about that accomplishment?  Well done, me!  Thank you.)

Well, my 30th birthday is in five days, and even if I could compile a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30, I couldn’t make it through all of them.  Instead, I’ve come up with a list of valuable stuff I’ve learned in my 20s – things that other 20-somethings might find useful, things I certainly would have found useful several years ago.  Here it is:

  1. You may not wind up with the job you “deserve” or think you should have, but be open to possibilities.  You could magically stumble across something that winds up benefiting you in ways you couldn’t imagine
  2. Take vacations while you can (i.e. while you don’t have to arrange around a spouse/partner/children’s schedule).  Even if the money isn’t always there, there are ways to make it happen.
  3. Bail on your friends as little as you can.  Chances are, they are just as much, if not more your family than your biological family at this point, and your presence at their birthday party/movie night/wisdom teeth removal means more to them than they probably let on.
  4. That being said, you will probably have at least one of those friends that bails.  A lot.  With flimsy, transparent excuses.  Do the times you actually get to spend with that person/those people make up for the times they bail?  Then keep that person around.
  5. There will be some moments of black-pitted doubt and some moments of glowing happiness, with a fair amount of general happiness and meh mixed in.  The best part is that all levels out eventually, until it’s general happiness all the time.  Nice, right?
  6. Sometimes money will be low, yes, but you will always see it through and never be without.  In fact, you have more than many so stop complaining.
  7. The old adage holds true: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
  8. An amazing haircut can sometimes do more for self-esteem than losing those pesky 5 (or 10, or 20 pounds).  It’s relatively low-cost, it’s fast and easy, so get your hair cut, you hobo.
  9. Learn how to let go of the people and things that just make you feel bad about yourself or your life – the “emotional vampires”, if you will.  It’s one thing if it’s a friend who gives you the occasional well-meant criticism, but it’s another if it’s someone who is constantly down on themselves and you in turn.  It’s okay, and in fact, healthy to let those people go sometimes.  You’re better served trying to take care of yourself than shore them up all the time.
  10. At some point you will drink too much, at least enough to regret it the next day, but maybe enough to puke in a public place.
  11. You will lose touch with people you thought you cared a great deal for (and thought cared for you).  With some it won’t seem like a big deal but with others, it’ll feel like a mini betrayal.  Just think of it as weeding the weak ones out of the herd.  Kidding, but really, it kind of is.  You’ll wind up with the cream of the crop in the end and be better for it.
  12. You will get older.  Maybe it won’t be noticeable for most of your 20s or maybe you’ll even be one of those lucky people who seem ageless.  But most likely your body will change, you’ll get flab or bulge in unthinkable places, and lines will start to show up at the corners of your mouth and eyes.  So take care of yourself!  I’m not saying go on a diet, but eat more fruits and vegetables than pizza, take a hard look at your alcohol consumption, try to stay active, and get some sleep, for crying out loud.
  13. Be kind every day.  To your friends, your partner, your parents, yourself.  Everybody deserves a kind word.
  14. But for real, be kind to yourself!  Love yourself.  It is hard, no, it is exhausting being hard on yourself all the time.  So you didn’t get even one thing done on your to-do list?  Pssh.  So you ate half that chocolate cake?  Whatever.  Move on.  You’ll get it next time, tiger.
  15. You don’t have to be right all the time, and in fact, you aren’t right half of the time.  Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut than display your egotistic wit or your phenomenal lack of social tact.  Just… shut up.
  16. You’ll have friends that make being an adult look like a damn breeze.  They’ll have great jobs, have impossibly stylish and up-to-date wardrobes, go on dates with other grown-ups, and go out for fancy drinks every weekend.  Your time will come.
  17. Do things that scare you.  I’m not talking about petting a rattlesnake or anything – more like take a job that intimidates you, move to a brand new city, or go out with someone who’s not “your type.”  These changes often lead to some of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of your life.  Trust me.
  18. You will not be friends with all of your co-workers.  In fact, you might have co-workers who hate you (or you hate).  Sometimes the reasons for this will be obvious; sometimes it will be inexplicable.  They will make you feel like crap.  You will go home from work and cry.  Chances are, you will not be at that job forever, so this too shall pass.
  19. You’ll figure out your style. College is not a good time for fashion since college kids are too beholden to trends but by mid to late-decade, you’ll have this style thing on lock.  It may not be the most trendy wardrobe, but you will have a style all your own and pull it off with confidence.
  20. You’ll work so hard at being an adult that sometimes you might take yourself too seriously.  Be silly every now and then and don’t forget the things that made you you as a child.  You have your whole life to do the serious adult stuff, and there will be plenty of it, believe me.

I am very much looking forward to turning 30.  My 20s were such a productive time for me, in terms of getting to know myself and becoming truly secure in that person.  I was able to do so much, see so much, build so many relationships, and learn so much as a 20-something, and I am absolutely convinced that there’s more of those good times ahead.

2013 goals

I didn’t really make any resolutions for 2012 but looking back, I’d say I had a pretty good year:

Visited Niagara Falls for the first time
Went to my first library conference (Public Library Association in Philadelphia)
Made more new friends through grad school (I made new friends in 2011, too.)
Organized some pretty great events as SCALA president
Moved in with the love of my life
Graduated with my master’s!
Got a full-time job in library land shortly thereafter

Marcus and I were talking about resolutions the other day and at the time, I couldn’t come up with anything other than “get the apartment better organized.”  I don’t often make resolutions (as evidenced above) so had to take a few days to think about it.  Here are some of my goals:

1.  Continue to work on professional development: be more active in a professional organization, volunteer, go to a conference, take some classes or attend some webinars… things like that to keep growing my skills and knowledge in my field.

2. Get the apartment organized!  It’s not terrible, we’re generally clean folk, but there are definitely a lot of things that could be weeded out, and things that have been floating around since moving that need a home.

3.  Travel:  Marcus and I are already going to Minneapolis in a month for my 30th (dun dun dun!) birthday, which I’m very excited about, and I think the whole family may be invited to Montana for Christmas.  However, I’d like to take another trip sometime this year.  Some friends have been talking about a weekend trip somewhere like Toronto, and Marcus and I have discussed day or short weekend trips we could take to places nearby.  It may have to wait until Marcus has a job but I’m okay with that.

4.  Have people over more often: Due to budget constraints, Marcus and/or I go out maybe once or twice a month with friends, and I feel like we’re missing out (since some of them go out once or twice a week).  I love to entertain so why not have people over more often?

That’s what I’ve got so far.

Horoscope

Man, I’ve never been as into horoscopes as I am into astrobarry.  His stuff feels so spot on every week that I’ve taken to reading it regularly, the second it shows up in my Facebook feed.  I’ve been feeling completely underwhelming the past few months, and yes, I mean I feel underwhelming as in my personality and energy level is underwhelming, not that I feel overwhelmed.  And I’ve been okay with that, since I went through a whole series of big changes all it once, so it was totally a-okay to kind of go underground, as it were.  Lo and behold, I read astrobarry’s horoscope for Aquarius this week:

In the days leading up to Christmas, your expressed personality may comprise of little more than playing along… all while the more authentically engaged part of you remains somewhat preoccupied with behind-the-scenes machinations you feel you must complete, in order to fulfill a sort of contract you signed with yourself… Once planetary-engine Mars hits your sign on Christmas Day, however, your fuller self will rather abruptly show all the way up to the party… feeling (hopefully) refreshed and resolute after a spell spent underground, no longer content to fade unassuming into the wallpaper papers, and so fucking ready to act wild and crazy in your deserved desire to amply make up for lost playtime.

I don’t want to copy too much of it but the general gist of it resonates so strongly with me and where I’ve been mentally and emotionally the past 4-5 months.  We’ll see if Mars entering Aquarius really does kick off some refreshed appearance of my “fuller self” but either way, I’m looking forward to a vacation next week and that can only bring a renewed sense of self.

That “Christmas Feeling”

Christmas was always so magical and fun growing up, but for several years of my life, it was kind of a drag.  Working retail can do that to a person.

As many people note when Christmas things roll out right around (before or slightly after) Halloween: the Christmas season does not start in December, not when you work in retail, my friends.  Christmas starts in October, for all intents and purposes.  In the used bookstore world, that meant stockpiling nice copies of popular books and/or classics, as well as organizing all the Christmas-related DVDs and CDs so they could be ready to go on the sales floor.  This meant putting Christmas decorations up right before Thanksgiving.  Come Black Friday (or sometime around it), it meant people demanding certain items for a particular someone on their list and getting cranky (but at least not violent) when we couldn’t deliver.  It meant getting antsy at the cash register as I watched the lines grow and having Christmas music droning on and on in the background of 8 hours of my day.

And then, I left the retail world and went to graduate school.  Graduate school occupied most of my time and brain in the lead up to December last year, so much so that Christmas was a distant event that seemed months down the line.  I’d see trees with lights in the commons room of the Cathedral of Learning and it was a reminder of something, but I couldn’t quite remember what.

Then, sometime during the second week of December, once all my papers were done, I shook off the fog of finals week and found Christmas all around me.  And it was wonderful, in part because it was such a great reward for all my hard work, but also because I didn’t have the accompanying Christmas retail drudgery.  I went to the Carnegie Museums and they were decked out for Christmas.  I had snowy walks with my boyfriend.  We put up a little tree in my apartment and saw a weird and artsy Christmas show at the Warhol Museum and I went Christmas shopping and made cookies and listened to all my favorite Christmas music.  Even then I worried that it was a fluke, that maybe my heart was relishing it then but come this year I’d feel Grinchy about Christmas again.

Nope.  I’m just excited about Christmas this year, maybe even more so.  I held off on decorating and Christmas music until December started, but it was hard to rein it in ’til then, which is unlike me.  I’m generally a “beginning of December and no earlier does Christmas start type of person” but this year, I was rarin’ to go.  Here’s the tree:

DSC00730I’ll post more about my Christmas crafts, baking, and happenings as December rolls along.  Needless to say, there probably will be plenty on which to report.     

Day 29 & Day 30

Really very late on these last two days and it’s quite shameful because now I’m into December and Christmas!  Oh well, here’s my wrap up of 30 days of gratitude.

Day 29: I’m thankful for my good health.  Despite some odd things that have cropped up here and there, I haven’t really been sick in over a year.  I haven’t had a cold or other illness and have no chronic health issues.  I am extremely grateful for this, especially when this is the time of year for getting sick!  Most of my loved ones seem to have the same good health (with the exception of colds and such) and I’m grateful for this as well.

Day 30:  I’m grateful for music and a love of singing instilled in me over long years in choir and singing with friends.  This is the time of year I frequently feel like breaking into song and I can’t really imagine my life without music.

This has been a good exercise for me.  It’s not that I don’t recognize that I have a lot for which to be thankful most of the time, but sometimes I tend to overlook a lot of the little things that make my life so rich and wonderful.  This month has helped me be mindful of those things.  And obviously, observing one thing to be grateful for every day for a month inspires a lot of positivity.

Day 27 & 28

Day 27:  Today I’m grateful that I don’t have a slum landlord.  So, our apartment has had a number of things wrong with it since we moved in.  It hasn’t been anything major but it seems like every time one thing is fixed, another thing breaks.  Or a mouse moves in, even though we weren’t looking for another roommate.  However, our management company doesn’t give us grief about it or accuse us of breaking these things ourselves, and they’re pretty quick about sending someone to fix them.  I e-mailed the management company on Monday about our leaking tub faucet and lo and behold, someone showed up today to fix it!  Plus, it was our favorite handyman who always compliments us on the cleanliness of our apartment and our decorating, and offers Marcus (decent) advice on job hunting.

Day 28:  I’m grateful for penpals!  I’ve been getting a lot of “real” mail lately – that is, mail that isn’t a bill or advertisement.  I’ve gotten two postcards in the past week and a couple earlier this month.  I’ve been sending my fair share of mail as well.  I have a regular letter-writing buddy and have been sending random packages of homemade gifts to people.  I even got a dress in the mail a few weeks ago from a friend who had hosted a clothing exchange and thought the dress would be great for me.  Unfortunately it didn’t fit but it was still a fun package to receive and nice to know she thought of me.  And, I’m looking forward to December – it’s the season for mail!

Day 26

I am thankful for YouTube and its myriad ways to waste time with videos like this (one of my favorites):

Day 25

I am so thankful for this long weekend.  Even though it’s wrapping up, it’s been glorious to do whatever I want for a few days with very few obligations.  Other than cooking Thanksgiving dinner, obviously.  It was so relaxing – I finished two knitting projects, finished two books, hung out with friends, hung out with Marcus, saw some live music, slept in, watched lots of movies, went for long walks, and more.  It was especially nice since I went right from finishing school into work, so I never had a break between the two.

Day 26 will be coming later today…

Day 24

Today, I am grateful for SNOW!  A silly thing for which to be thankful, maybe, especially since three-six months from now I could be grumbling about it.  But, today we received our first snow and while there’s not a lot on the ground, it is lovely to look at and makes it feel like Christmas is on the way!

Day 23

I used to work in retail and for four of the five and a half years I worked at the bookstore, I volunteered for the opening shift on Black Friday.  I was nearly always around for Thanksgiving, more often out of town for Christmas, so it was my way of a.) making it up to my co-workers who worked Christmas Eve or the post-Christmas sale when I was always gone and b.) controlling when I had to work one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.  If I worked early on Black Friday, sure, that meant going in at 6 am (that’s bookstore early, not Best Buy or Wal-Mart crazy early) but that also meant getting done with my shift at 1 or 2 pm.

Also, after the first year, I realized it was kind of fun.  The bookstore customers were pretty chill, even on Black Friday.  Many of them had already been to three or four stores and the bookstore was the end of their morning.  We always had snacks and they were always appreciative of that, and grateful to be in a mostly calm environment.  Also, I loved organizing the whole thing – stuffing the give-away bags, setting up the snack tables, putting the display signs up, handing out the bags to the people in line, trying to keep my co-workers pumped up before we opened by blasting fun music (also before we had to put on the requisite Christmas music).

All that being said, I dislike Black Friday and always have.  Even though I made it fun for myself when I had to work that day, I’d drive past all the people waiting outside stores on my way to work (or worse, the night before Thanksgiving or even days ahead of time) and think, “What is wrong with you?  If I didn’t have to go to work right now (or run errands or whatever), I’d be home, asleep or with my family.”  I could go on a rant about Black Friday here but I won’t because this is about being grateful for a few things: I’m grateful for my time at the bookstore, even on Black Fridays; I’m grateful for an ability to turn potentially crappy/not fun situations into fun ones; and I’m grateful to no longer work in retail and to have a four-day weekend and the option of sleeping in on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.