Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Freshman Again

Just like the children popping up on my Facebook news feed in their proud parents’ pictures that I skip past totally love, I, too, embarked on a first day of school this week (though JB surprisingly did not feel the need to capture this moment in photo).

After five years at the same university, I was part of the energy and excitement of a fresh school year at my new employer. While students start trickling in prior to the first day, seeing a campus turn overnight from the quiet of summer to the buzz of college life is like stopping by a bar at 3 p.m. and then going back at happy hour.

There is a vibrant rebirth for sure, but there are nerves too — from freshmen, transfer students, and new professors getting ready to face a group of 150 18-year-olds with the expectation of being enlightened. And for the first time in five years, from me. I was the new kid just like everyone else, so I thought I would share some tips for me and all the others feeling a little out-of-place as they head back to school:

Don’t rush home the first chance you get. I have never felt so alone and homesick as I did the first (maybe also 2nd, 3rd, 4th….) week of college. If I hadn’t been 1,000 miles away, I’m sure my laundry and I would have been tempted to seek the security of home as much as possible. And in a new job, before you develop a sense of community, it’s easy to leave when the work is done.

But so much of college (and working at one) happens outside the office or classroom. It happens at residence hall move-in, the welcome back barbecue or the volleyball game (What? Some schools don’t have football!). And you have to be there to experience it. Besides, the washer and dryers in the residence hall now text you when your laundry is done. They TEXT you.

Remember there was a time you felt lost and confused in high school, too. But by the end of that first year, you were a pro. And eventually, you will be at college too. No one starts out Van Wilder.

At my former employer, I felt comfortable walking into any meeting and answering student questions (why yes, I do know how to get to that building). I walked across campus and the faces were familiar, if not friends. But if I really think back, I remember the first year when I never wanted to go to anything alone and was hesitant to speak up at a meeting because I didn’t trust my knowledge and ideas yet. If you give it time, freshmen students quickly become next year’s orientation leaders and freshmen employees become veterans.

Be in the moment. Finally, don’t start counting the days until winter or summer break. My wedding date has been set and it’s basically a school year away. I’m so excited, I find myself wishing it was already June. But life is way too short for that — I need to enjoy everything leading up to that time just as much.

Students take so much AP and dual credit these days in high school that by the time they get into college, they only have a couple of years left. And I totally understand this for financial and other personal reasons. But sometimes I wish they would just slow down a little and take it all in. Your “first day of school” moments are numbered.

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It’s Complicated… With Facebook

When I was a novice social media user way back in 2007, I had a MySpace account.  I set it up under the guise of planning my 10th high school reunion and needing to find classmates, but of course I knew I was never turning away from this delightfully voyeuristic world.

During this time, I was in a relationship. Being the dutiful social networker that I was, I wanted to ensure people knew everything about me. So I changed my relationship status to the “In a relationship” option. Simple enough.

Until the break-up.

There were tears. There was anger. And then there was the awful task of having to change my status back to single and tell the whole world (yes, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the world) that I was dumped. At least that’s what it felt like. All of a sudden, I didn’t like sharing everything with the online community. In my heartbreak, changing the relationship status on my profile was too much to bear. So instead…

I deleted my entire account.

In hindsight — and even about three days after I did it — I could admit it was probably a little dramatic. But at the time, it was just easier.

In late spring 2008, I was re-born online with the help of Facebook. I vowed to never change my relationship status on a social media profile again. I have always left that area blank. But as I am now engaged to a wonderful man who makes me forget about any heartbreak except when I need to recount it for a blog post, I feel pretty confident my relationship status isn’t changing again, except to “married” next summer.

Source: Pinterest

But yet I still don’t know if I want to add the relationship status to my profile. Clearly, this quandary falls pretty low in comparison to just about anything else you could possibly ponder. It’s just interesting because I had no problem telling everyone via status update that I was engaged. And the well-wishes we received online were so amazing and meaningful. I tear up reading some of the kind words people left as a comment.

I recognize the paradox of writing about online privacy on a personal BLOG! While I have my limits (politics, for example), I’m not terribly guarded on Facebook and I’m trying to push myself to dig deeper on this blog.

So why not simply change my relationship status? Or post a picture of my ring? Or the adorable picture we took at dinner the night we got engaged?

There is definitely the element of JB not being on Facebook. I don’t post too many status updates about us or pictures out of respect for his privacy. He chooses not to be on Facebook. It’s not really my place to put him on it anyway.

When people asked me to post my ring, I just couldn’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, more power to those who do, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. And I was quick to text and email out a picture of the ring to those who asked to see it. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever owned — it deserves a Facebook fan page if you ask me! But just a post of my hand somehow seemed to trivialize the emotion I was feeling.

I’ll continue to search for the balance between social media, blog and real-life sharing. But just for the record, I love my relationship and I would shout it from the rooftops. As long as that rooftop doesn’t have wi-fi.

How do you balance what you post on social media and what you keep more private?

Hair’s The Thing…

I get all sorts of crazy when it comes to my hair.

Overall, I’m not particularly fussy when it comes to vanity. I don’t have to “put on my face.” The latest fashion trends are usually just LATE by the time I catch on to them.

But when it comes to my hair, I’m full-on, I-will-ask-you-ten-times-how-it-looks-before-we-even-leave-the-house-and-by-then-it’s-already-ruined-anyway crazy.

Much of the reason for this is because on any given day, my hair might look like this.

Kathy (Frizzy Hair)

Do you notice how a bed of curls couldn’t just be left alone? There had to be a layer of wavy hair added on top. And for good measure, let’s throw in some random straight pieces. Add a dollop of humidity and voila!

While I have embraced my curls/wave concoction the last couple of years in an effort to sleep later, a few weeks ago, I finally decided to let my hair stylist give me a straightening keratin treatment. Many of these treatments contain formaldehyde, and I was surprisingly indifferent to the fact that my hair would now be cased in the same thing as that frog I made my lab partner dissect in 9th grade biology.

But lo and behold, my long-time hair stylist told me she only uses all-natural keratin products now. The conversation went a little something like this:

Stylist: Oh don’t worry, Caryn, it’s all organic now. No formaldehyde.

Me: Really? But does it still work?

Stylist: Well, it won’t get it completely straight and you will still have to style it, but it will be easier to do so and have less frizz.

Me: I’ll risk the chemicals.

Stylist: There have been links to cancer.

Me: (contemplates) (pouts) FINE.

Fast-forward 72 hours. I’ve just washed my hair for the first time since the chemical-free treatment (per the rules). I’m nervous, anxious and skeptical about the results. But let me tell you, while I did have to still blow dry and flat-iron, my hair was and has since been much more cooperative. And the best news — it looks exactly the same at the end of the day (or the next morning) as when I leave for work, even as we enter a week of 110 DEGREE WEATHER. And the frizz is noticeably less.

I won’t lie, since the treatment, I’ve had a bounce in my step. And I’m so glad I had straight hair when we got engaged (yes, I actually thought of that)! I know “beauty is only skin deep”, “real confidence comes from within”, and so forth. I couldn’t agree more. But whether it’s new shoes, freshly manicured nails, whatever men do to feel more aesthetically confident, or just a frizz-free ‘do, sometimes we just need a little extra… umph.

Any thoughts about all these hair straightening treatments? Besides life, love and happiness (yeah, yeah), what puts a bounce in your step?