Guest Post: The Hard Truths from a Reformed Roommate.

Chances are, if you attended a four-year institution and/or are a young professional establishing yourself in the real world, you have probably had a roommate. Either by happenstance, financial need, or mandatory placement, you were sharing a living space with a person less known than any third degree-separated friend; some even lucky enough to share a space with close friends. This was the ultimate test of friendship, and can either make or break relationships.

We can begin our review starting at the other night. I was sitting in bed, wide awake with the yammering, sorority girl laughs and chatter by my third roommate—my actual roommate’s girlfriend. With respect to details, this is his first time living on his own. I have been more than charitable in trying to help him live independently- how to properly clean, deal with the corporate lifestyle he got thrust into, write a check; even showing him how to cook – further, offering him some of my cooking to take with him to work or have for dinner (his cuisine is only microwavable meals and cereal—he’s 23).

I have even gone so far as to give him a slight discount on rent. Why? Because when I was transient and without a place to go, trying to figure things out, then later establishing myself, people helped me- and I was blessed to have a good group of friends that did so. (First piece of advice, folks- pay it forward).

Living with this man-child has been a true test of one’s forbearance:

  • Dish piles are left in the sink- not the dishwasher.
  • Spoiled food and unorganized clutter take up the fridge space.
  • No cleaning is done- not even offering to help me clean nor to contribute to buying cleaning supplies or necessities (paper products, toilet paper, Lysol, dish detergent etc).
  • I have become privy to his sexual escapades. Apparently this was the first time and to her “it was just natural” …I use quotes because they talk about this- on speaker phone, for all to hear, in GREAT detail- until all hours of the morning.
  • On weekends, I sometimes wake up to the entire kitchen trashed- including the use of my Waterford crystal glasses, given as a most generous gift- as if a ghostly fraternity had pledge weekend here.
  • Trash piles up and, despite valet trash service, he will text and ask when I am taking it out. Apparently, placing the bin outside for valet service to pick up at is a difficult- indeed, arduous- task. And the recycling? Despite having a recycling bin on the patio, it is left next to said trash bin- on the kitchen floor.

At the very least, he is paying his bills on time- which is all you can ask at minimum, I guess; the only tradeoff was coming home after working all day to playing Mom.

Now we have the third “roommate” who is just annoying as a he is- and is on the cusp of starting to use our laundry and basic utilities regularly. To clarify, if this is an emergency situation- I would have zero problem. Heck, when my Dad visits for a weekend during trips (an event given with a week’s notice), he does some laundry if need be.

So as I lay in bed, my ire drawing ever higher as it is now 2:30 am and I have to be up at 5 to get to the gym, have a solid breakfast and timely commute before rolling in to work at ten to 9, I reach over, grab my phone, and begin a text.

“I HAVE TO BE UP AT 5. KEEP IT THE HELL DOWN! “ is one thought that comes to mind, but that’s rude.

“Hey- can you please keep it down,” would suffice, but no emphasis on the blatant disregard for courtesy.

“I have to be up at 5 and am trying to sleep. If she could be please quiet down I would appreciate it.” Ah, there it is. Tact truly is a lost art.

Right before I hit send, I stop. I delete the whole thing.

You’re probably thinking “he just did all this bitching and finally gets to send the text message and doesn’t?! What a wimp!”

Her Fran Drescher laughs were drowned out as I lay gob smacked by the loud epiphany that opened the floodgates of memories and guilt – I was once that roommate.

Almost 4 years ago, I was living with two of my close friends, and one person that I had known from campus. I slacked off in my cleaning duties and left dishes piled up after cooking. Falling victim to the dangerous hookup culture, I would have wayward strangers over for relations that resulted in inconveniencing my roommates/friends at whatever hours of the night or morning. Our other roommate fumigated the lower level of the townhouse with marijuana, he even tried to sublet his room out, in blatant disregard of the lease. We had another roommate that would bring unnecessary drama and rude guests- of which I was guilty of also, at times- and would leave greasy, grimy food and materials out all over the counter.

At one point, I discovered that it is was quietly celebrated that I would be out of town; to be totally honest, I was not upset nor did I blame anyone other than me. In fact, I would have celebrated it too- because I do now when the manchild is away every other weekend.

It was no way to live, no way to treat friends, no way to act.

I have learned to forgive myself and atone by amending my life and ways. By the grace of God, I reconnected with one of the old roommates and closest of friends. With wounds healed and a bond resealed, we simply look back on this period- it could even be considered an era- and laugh.

Friends, until you’re really making bank and advancing yourself, you must accept the truth that the cost of independence sometimes comes with caveats at its inception. I can guarantee you, at some point, this newfound sense of freedom intersects with having a roommate. Recognize that two (or more) people occupy one living space. Be courteous, be kind, and be honest. Keep the drama outside; chances are, that person has something going on in their life and does not need your garbage flowing into their lot. Don’t feel bad sitting down and writing out a list of chores and dividing duties. Stay conscientious about utility usage and noise. Don’t feel bad about laying down the law with the lease either.

When in doubt, the Golden Rule is the sterling standard of human interaction action: treat others the way you want to be treated. We all fall short of this- what matters is how we rectify past actions, commit to ourselves to be better than we were, and exercise mercy abundantly- but also stand your ground (politely) if it becomes overbearing.

Communication, as DJ Khaled would advise, is a “major key” to enjoying your youthful independence and living peacefully with others.

-AMP

You’re Not a Choice.

That person that won’t text you back after you double/triple text and are left on “Read”

That person you keep sending Snapchats to but will only open and not reply…yet view your “stories”…

That person you keep asking to go on an actual date with but keeps bailing?

The person that keeps making date plans with you but never text you the day of.

That emotionally unavailable person yet claims they’re looking for relationship when you come across their Tinder/Bumble

That emotionally unavailable person that says they aren’t ready for a relationship but weeks later shows that they’re “in a relationship” on Facebook

That emotionally unavailable person that keeps you holding onto a piece of string hoping that your situation will turn into a relationship.

That person you keep trying to make plans with but they’re always “busy” but can post 100 second Snapchat stories with their friends and other possible love interests…

That person who is cheating on their girlfriend or boyfriend yet strings you along as a side piece.

That person who doesn’t know that you know they have a girlfriend/boyfriend but keeps lying to you and saying that they’re single.

That person that blames distance for your relationship falling apart.

That person that hates your friends or tries to keep you from seeing them.

That person that treats you like you’re just another one of his or her many choices.

That person that makes you feel bad for developing feelings for them.

That person that makes you feel crazy for being “too much” or “too emotional.”

That person that forces you to change your appearance by losing weight or your attire.

That person that makes you feel uncomfortable with your personal choices.

That person you do couple-y type activities with yet they leave you in the gray area.

That person that doesn’t show you respect.

That person that won’t give the same amount of effort you give.

That person who does not want to make you a priority.

STOP. LET. THEM. GO.

You owe it to yourself to treat yourself better. It’s called self-respect. You can’t control others but you can control how others make you feel. Don’t ever let someone think you are flawed for being a human being.

You’re beautiful. You’re intelligent. You are loved. You have a purpose in the world.

Stop finding validation in other people. You have to love yourself first. Your friends and family love you.

Be good to yourself. Treat yourself. Do what makes you happy.

-KC

Political Post: Dear millennial, you are entitled to nothing

Dear Millennial,

You are entitled to nothing. Yes, I just said that. All I hear about is how millennials can’t afford homes, can’t buy cars, and can’t save any money. There are people out there making tens of thousands of dollars less than you that are married with a couple of kids, own a home, have two cars, and are paying their bills on time…and they even live in the same city or county as you.

I even have single friends who have bought homes, cars, pay off their student loans, have money to put away in their retirement, and still go on vacation.

Do you have to live in the most expensive zip code in your city where you are living paycheck to paycheck just to pay your rent because it’s where all the cool kids hang out at the cool bars?

OR

Could you live in a home with an affordable payment out in the suburbs, drive about 30 minutes to the metro, and add a little time to your commute in the morning?

Why are we constantly waiting on our bailout? You hated when the big banks got bailed out but you deserve one too because you’re behind on student loan payments?

“We want free school!”

“We deserve good jobs but don’t have the work experience…”

My favorite economics professor back in college said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Say it with me…there is no such thing as a free lunch!

If you want something, work for it. Take that job after college that may not be your dream job just to gain experience in something. Just because you didn’t get the job you wanted at your dream company or government agency doesn’t mean that you have to give up. Don’t be ashamed of taking two or three jobs! It means you are a responsible person and you want to live comfortably for yourself or your family.

Once upon a time, I was a “give me everything” millennial. I thought I deserved everything in the world because I had a college degree and a resume where I stretched out all my skills to fit the requirements on a job application. Debating in your international security class every Monday and writing 25 page papers on Benghazi does not count as work experience.

When I was a senior in college I applied to the CIA and I was deservingly denied. I thought everything I studied in my government and international classes and my conflict analysis and resolution classes went to waste…and I told myself I DESERVED that job. Nope…I didn’t. I’m sure some person with numerous years of actual work experience beat me out for every position I applied for. I thought job offers were going to be sent to my email everyday simply because I had a college degree. That is not reality…thus why the beauty of “recent graduate” jobs were created. They were created for you and me with minimal work experience so we could add real skills to our resumes later down the road. I picked a job that had nothing to do with my college degree and it has given me more than I could have dreamed of. I wish I could have told myself that it was going to be okay that I didn’t get what I wanted.

I took a job that pays less than the private sector because of its benefits, I pay my rent and bills, and I still have money for things I like to do. It’s all about give and take. You don’t need Starbucks everyday and you don’t need to go shopping every weekend. Understand what it’s like to live below your means even if you can afford it just to get a sense of how you spend your money.

I’m paying student loans off like most of you are. I don’t complain because I know that a college degree is needed to get a job these days. Do I cry when Sallie Mae comes knocking on my door? Nope. It’s all about what I have to sacrifice to be successful later on in life. I had the opportunity to go to college for free. When I was in high school I was offered a four-year Army ROTC scholarship that even included books and a monthly stipend. I dropped that full scholarship during my freshman year. I am definitely feeling the consequences of my actions, but instead of blaming the system, I blame myself. If you want an affordable or free college education: go to community college for a few years, apply for scholarships, go to the college that offered you the most money (even if it wasn’t your first choice), do a work-study program, do really well at a sport or play an obscure sport (rowing!), and for the not so faint at heart…apply to a service academy, do ROTC, or enlist in the military for a few years and go to college later.

I don’t want my taxpayer money paying for your college because you majored in underwater basket weaving and can’t get a good job or because you want to blow your money on living in Clarendon instead of living out in the suburbs of Fairfax county where you could have afforded much more. I majored in what some might call a useless liberal arts degree because it wasn’t a STEM degree but I made it work. When I first started working I had a very average salary and I thought I couldn’t make it. Then I looked over at my coworkers making the exact same pay with house payments and four mouths to feed. Some of my coworkers were single parents or single income households with a family, and they made that paycheck work! It’s all about perspective.

All of you claim to be so “woke.” Well, while you hide in your “safe spaces” because your neighbor owns a gun…there are children in Syria hiding from bombs. Are you in fear of you life living in the free world? You probably aren’t. You’re living in middle to upper middle class suburbia with your “first world problems” because the Whole Foods down the road ran out of organic quinoa and your obscure craft beer.

That’s such an insult to people living in the third world countries where their number one concern in life is finding shelter, food, and water…and where people can’t afford to go to school. Please spend time in a third world country and come back to me. You will realize that everything you take for granted and complain about is so menial compared to others. My modest middle class family is made up of immigrants who NEVER took a handout. I watched my parents work hard for everything we had. I will never shame them by reversing what they taught me about hard work and working my way up.

Take your safe spaces, free college rants, and “I deserve everything” attitudes away. You’re an adult now. Your younger siblings, cousins, and your [future] children are going to look at how we broke our society for the sake of political correctness and participation trophies.

-KC

Best Foot Forward.

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The other day a friend texted me saying that she’s been staying off of Facebook because it has been making her feel bad about herself. I told her that it’s just a façade and it’s what people want you to see. Nobody wants to share their bad days.

We love to hate social media and hate to love it at the same time. As a mid twenty something, I scroll down my social media feeds to see endless engagements, weddings, and baby announcements.

After I finished undergrad, there were one or two engagements every few months. Throughout grad school I felt like those numbers quadrupled and everyone’s names started to change. Did I miss the train to the next stage of adulthood? I started to think something was wrong with me. At the same time, the long-term relationship I was in was falling apart. I felt AWFUL.

Then I looked at it from a different point of view. I, too, was celebrating my accomplishments: college and grad school graduations, a job announcement, moving to new places, and moving into my own apartment. While I felt insecure about my personal life, I found things that I was accomplishing for my professional life. Just because I wasn’t doing the same things that the majority of my friends were didn’t mean I was doing something wrong. My life is just on a different path. There is no right or wrong path.

Nobody wants to show the negative side of their lives, so you have to remember that we are all human. Nobody lives that perfect life. On the surface you’ll see my posts and photos of travelling, my job, my family, and it’s all smiles. What you don’t see is that I have days where I feel lonely, days where I question everything in life, and days where I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything.

Life is not a competition. The only person you should be competing with is the person you were yesterday. I have slowly…very slowly learned to not care about what other people think about me. That quality is something I try to work on everyday. I changed my competition mindset into a mindset where I congratulate everyone on their accomplishments. It has actually made me feel better being able to celebrate with others. Instead of feeling insecure or jealous, I try to see it from their point of view.

Nothing feels better than finally being able to celebrate something in your life. When I made a job announcement a few months before graduating grad school people congratulated me…and some people even went behind my back and told my friends I was bragging. What those people didn’t see was how I got to that point. For a whole year I applied to everything and anything that was applicable to my resume, I went to numerous job fairs, and I got deferred over and over. I stayed up all night worrying about not having a job lined up. I was afraid of seeming like a failure after sacrificing two more years of my life for a master’s degree.

Before you judge someone or start to feel insecure, remember that you don’t know that person’s whole story. That person who just got engaged probably went through a years of bad relationships before meeting that perfect person. That person who keeps sharing photos of their baby could have lost a baby before. That person who graduated with their master’s or PhD sacrificed a lot to finish school. That person who went on vacation could have saved for a year or two to finally take that trip.

Let’s start celebrating each other and more importantly start celebrating yourself. Your life is perfect as it is. Everything you want will eventually make it’s way into your life.

-KC

Guest Post: Why Modern Moms Shouldn’t Believe the Hype

If you’re looking for one of those “stay at home mom writers” with the perfect pictures of went-exactly-as-planned daily outings and non-GMO, organic, vegetables from her own garden, gluten free (deep breath!)…meals, you’re in the wrong place. You know, the blogger mom that somehow has endless hours to spend editing pictures, making homemade granola and stroll the aisles of Whole Foods? She swears she lets her kids be kids, yet their faces and clothes are clean in every picture. Not to mention how her whitest of whites pottery barn sofa is completely fucking stainless. And how does she get non-blurry, all of the kids are looking and smiling pictures, every damn time!? Is that Ralph Lauren China just out in the fucking open like that!!? Are her kids on Xanax?? Shit like that makes real moms, what I like to consider myself, wonder. And can also make fellow mothers feel inadequate and shitty about their own lives.
I’m the opposite. My house gets dirty, dishes pile up in the sink, clean dishes are used straight out of the dishwasher. Laundry gets left in the washing machine  for 2 days then has to be re-washed. And every single time it happens I can hear my grandmother saying “you must be rich to be able to waste water like that.” Sometimes diapers aren’t changed until they leak through. I yell at my kids when I think I’ve reached my breaking point, then feel guilty the rest of the day. There are days when they eat chicken nuggets for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Pooping in peace and quiet? HA! Most of us have 2 kids and a dog watching like we’re the newest release on Amazon prime.
You get it. Real stuff. Which is why I am saddened by how all of the bullshit pressures put on us women from society, mostly to sell things, have now trickled into fear mongering mothers or making them feel inadequate. just so some company can make a buck. Fuck this woman’s self-image, confidence in herself as a mother etc. etc. right? It has become so bad that instead of us mothers coming together to support each other, we’d rather compete over who can spend more money at hobby lobby to execute Pinterest pins better. Yet at the same time many of us are hiding issues as serious as post postpartum. All because we’re scared of being judged. Why do we even care?
Because we aren’t reading funny, uplifting stories on the social media sites we spend so much time on. Stories that let women know they’re not alone in wanting to get in the car and drive aimlessly as soon as their husband comes home, just to get out of the house. To let them know it’s ok to feel alone and crave companionship with other moms. Guess what? Sometimes I’m in my pajamas ALL day long too!
If more moms with a voice took a more realistic approach to their images, then the stigma wouldn’t be so bad. I get that some women are REALLY like that and more fucking power to them, seriously. By speaking out, I may only be a tiny dot in a large spectrum but a tiny dot is better than no dot. We all know the reality of the majority and it needs to be reflected more in the mainstream.
You’re probably thinking, If you know us Moms are short on free time then why is this piece so damn long? Sorry, I babble. Also, this is about to get real cheesy. Always know that as long as you do the best you can and your kids are happy and healthy…then you’re an awesome mom. From this moment on, stop comparing yourself and your life to what others portray themselves to be on Facebook. Matter of fact, take a break from social media. Most importantly, don’t forget to or ever feel bad about taking time for yourself. You cannot have a happy home if you are not happy. Now get off your phone, PC, whatever and go be the kick ass mom you are!

By: Natasha C.

 

Travel Required: Over 50%

I’m back on the road again, but this time it’s for work. The Marriott has become my second home and I laugh as I type that because I am staying in one right now. I shamelessly hit the top tier of Marriot Rewards and the top tier of IHG Rewards Club…in the same year. In 2016, I spent almost six months living in hotels in three different states.

Before I accepted my job I read the fine print that said “Travel Required: Over 50%” Hmm…what in the world does that mean? That statement was true considering the fact I spent most of my time assigned to Fort Lee travelling.

Looking back at where I was almost a year ago with my first work trip, I realized I’ve learned a lot about constantly being on the go.

Here are some tips I picked up:

-REWARDS: Sign up for the hotel, car rental, and airliner rewards. I try to use the same hotel brand every time I travel so I can rack up points for future vacations. My personal favorites are Marriott Rewards for hotels, Hertz Gold for car rentals, and United for airliners. These are my top choices from personal experience. Don’t be afraid to spend more for quality! When a friend and I stayed in a hotel in Manhattan, we were thoroughly impressed by how they treated us since I was the highest level in Marriott Rewards.

-RECON: When you find out what city you will be travelling to, find accommodations close to your workplace and find out where the safe areas are. Not every work trip is ideal and I’ve heard horror stories from friends. Check hotel ratings and research the crime in the area so you know what places to avoid. Trip Adviser has great hotel reviews.

-REST: If you are driving, plan all your gas/food/rest area stops ahead of time. When you get there make sure they are in well-lit places. This is crucial when you are travelling and it starts to get dark out. In the event you don’t feel safe, don’t stop and keep driving until you find a better location.

-PACKING: One of my favorite apps is called PackPoint. I am the type of person who needs lists for everything. In PackPoint, you set your location and it will make you a list according to the weather and what activities you chose. It will show you quantities and you can click on them as you pack them. I have not gone on a trip without using this app. I am also a fan of @AskTSA on Twitter. They will answer your questions about what you can and cannot carry on an airplane.

-FINANCE: Call your bank and let them know you will be out of town for a certain period of time. My bank has a very effective anti-theft system…that actually worked against me when I was out of town. They called me to verify that I spent “x” amount of dollars at “x.” If you travel out of the country, try to get a debit card that does not charge you any international fees or one that reimburses you after a certain period of time

-INSURANCE: This is a debated topic. Buy the travel insurance or not? I was stranded in Toronto one summer and the airliner did not refund my ticket even though it was weather related. Read up on your travel agreement, most airliners will not provide a hotel or pay you back if it is not mechanical failure. From that point on, I always bought the travel insurance. It will also insure your baggage if it is lost (another thing that happened to me recently too!)

-ARRIVAL: Drive to your workplace the day before you get there so you won’t be stressed about directions and how to get there the day of. If there is no exact address (especially if you work in my field of work), drop a pin in your location and your phone will give you directions. Another one of my favorite apps is ArriveNow. You set the address and it will give you a countdown to show you how much time you have to get ready to get to your destination on time. This is so helpful when you’re not sure about the directions. It also adjusts to weather and road conditions.

-LOCALS: You can go on Yelp all you want, but your best resources are the locals. Ask your co-workers or friends who have travelled or lived in the place you at about where to go. The locals always know where the best “mom and pop” shops are and all the hidden gems. This was one of my favorite things to do while travelling.

Last but not least, LOAD THAT EZ PASS! If you frequently travel in the Northeast…don’t forget to auto reload your EZ pass. Don’t be like me and pay an $11 ticket for a $1 toll I drove through because I thought my pass had money on it.

What are your travel tips? Let me know!

-KC

Why Expectations and Milestones Hinder Us

We’re bombarded with milestones at every stage of our lives. Society tells us there is a certain path and time for when we go to college, get a job, get married, and have children. Holidays are filled with conversations like “What do you want to do after graduating college?” and “Have you met anyone yet?” Personally, I dread holidays and family get-togethers because I feel like I am constantly defending all of my life choices.

I grew up in a very traditional household with strict parents who just wanted the best for me. Growing up I had two choices: go to college or join the Navy…or both. My siblings and cousins were constantly asked, “What do you want to study in school?” I was always the black sheep and said I wanted to be a lawyer, a pilot, or a teacher…a complete left field career choice in a family who went to the medical field, engineering, and business. Nonetheless, the fact I said I wanted to be a lawyer made all my family members proud. They kept telling me I was going to be so successful in all my future endeavors.

Throughout high school I kept telling myself: college and law school. There is no other path I could take or I would be a failure. I needed to be a lawyer by the time I was twenty-five and become a partner at a law firm. Part of my plan was derailed when I got denied from my dream college: Washington and Lee University. My seventeen-year-old self panicked and thought I would fail at everything else in my life. Denied from my dream college? END OF THE WORLD, RIGHT? I was down to my next choices: George Mason University or James Madison University. I chose GMU thanks to a very special teacher of mine who told me to go to George Mason because it would be perfect for me. Thank you Ms. Lingua-Wheeless!

The next four years of college went according to plan. I was studying government and living the dream working on political campaigns in between semesters. I kept telling myself…don’t forget about law school. By the time I was a senior in college, I was torn…do I go to law school or do I get a master’s degree? I opted for my master’s degree and put law school on hold for a few years. My family members kept asking, “When are you going to law school?” I didn’t have the heart to tell them it just was not my dream anymore. I felt like I was admitting to failure even though I got my actual dream job of working for the federal government.

Once I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to go to law school, I started focusing on my career. I let go of the expectations and said if law school was really for me, it will come back into the loop one day. I finally felt at peace knowing I had a job I really enjoyed and I was putting my college degrees to use.

The downside of letting go of your expectations is that society loves to reminds us we are on a timeline. Right as I started to feel like I found my place in the world, I was constantly questioned about my personal life. Family and friends kept telling me, “You need to start looking for someone or you’ll end up single and childless for the rest of your life.” That was the least of my worries. My worries consisted of deciding what master’s degree I wanted next, planning a work out schedule, and seeing my friends during the weekends. I am a fully functioning, tax paying, adult that contributes to society but apparently I have to be married with children at a certain age.

REALITY CHECK. That’s NOT what I want at 26. That life works for the majority of the population but it is not my cup of tea. More importantly, what if I NEVER want to settle down to society’s definition of “settling down.” What if I want to be able to date who ever I wanted in different places and have no children? We’re such an “accepting” society but something is only acceptable when it’s agreeable to someone. Milestones hinder us. I just got over thinking I wasn’t a failure for not going to law school and now I’m being told I’m doing my life wrong.

Being single and childless is the life for me right now. I have a job that requires me to travel and move so I’m always on the go. If I could get a promotion by moving to another state or another country, I want the ability to get up and move. I probably sound selfish, but that’s my priority in life. People keep telling me that my priorities will change when I decide to settle down. They always keep telling me “You’ll change your mind about having kids” and “You’re going to regret being so career focused when you’re 50.” I just channel this out and keep doing my own thing.

Forget the expectations and milestones. Live the life YOU want.

-KC