The Twentysomething Taste: An Intro

Hello and welcome to my very first post in my new blog segment, “The Twentysomething Taste!” I am so excited to share this with all of you. On the Twentysomething Taste, you will find helpful tips, tricks, and trades of the twentysomething kitchen, including some quick and easy recipes!

twentysomething taste

Some background: I am fortunate enough to have two parents who are chefs and caterers. They’ve owned restaurants my entire life. I was never one of those college kids who survived on ramen and cereal, and I never feared going hungry. But, in the spirit of twentysomething conversations, I’ve noticed a lot of the people I’ve talked with have some trouble with healthy home-cooked meals. So let me help you! Leave me a message and let me know what types of questions or comments you have in your kitchen, or any recipe ideas you want me to conquer!

Check back next Tuesday for a new recipe! Happy cooking 🙂

 

 

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Lessons Learned: On Love, Travels, and Food Poisoning

For those that don’t know, this past week I was gallivanting around Chicago for a conference and loving every minute of it. The conference, Creating Change, was absolutely amazing. It focused on LGBTQ advocacy and social justice, and I learned so much.

Among other tales from this past week, I saw the Bean, tried authentic deep dish pizza, fell in love for the weekend, and suffered a major bout of food poisoning. And as much as I would like to go on and on about any or all of those stories, that isn’t necessarily the point of this blog.

Out of all the sessions I went to, out of all the people I met, there is one lesson in particular that is still sticking with me, even after the love, the poisoning, and the flights back home. I was in a workshop, How to Create Non-Oppressive Spaces for Queer Students of Color. And in the workshop, the facilitator said this: “We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.”

We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.

This resonated with me in all types of ways. Mostly because, as a 24-year-old graduate student, I sometimes still doubt my knowledge and my ability to create change. I went into this conference thinking I had a whole lot to learn. I’m still in the beginning stages of advocacy work, social justice movements, and really understanding the bigger picture. But, I was surprised to walk into that conference and be able to share some knowledge that maybe other people didn’t necessarily have.

We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.

We are all learning. We are life-long learners. At least, I hope we are. Regardless of whether or not we are in school, whatever level of formal education you have, there is always something to be learned in the world. This past week, I learned multiple things about LGBTQ advocacy, social justice issues, etc. So I’m here to report back. Now, granted, I know that not all of us work in Diversity Centers or in Higher Education, so I’m mindful of that, but these are some lessons that I learned or was reminded of during my time in Chicago.

  1. Embrace new adventures
    • I was PUMPED to go to Chicago! New foods, new people, and an amazing conference that I heard nothing but good things about. Take risks and embrace the adventures in your life – from the every day adventures in the coffee line to traveling to new cities.
  2. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction
    • “Eat whatever you want!” they say. “It’ll be good!” they say. Yes, until you are hugging the toilet bowl at 3am, 5am, and 6am after eating something that was clearly poisoned. Now, here’s the thing. What was the alternative? I couldn’t not eat. The new lesson here? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, whether or not you know what that reaction will be. Oftentimes, the reaction is hard to predict.
  3. Expect the unexpected
    • Never in my life did I expect to meet anyone of substance at this conference. Hooking up, sure, maybe. Professional connections, definitely. But someone who can hold a conversation and is super cute and is nice to spend time with? Well, I didn’t expect that. And I feel like it’s only when you don’t expect it, that it happens.
  4. There is always something to learn
    • If people want to talk about diversity programming with university students, I’m your guy. Student development theory? Hit me up. But I also have so much to learn. At this conference, it was evident that while everyone had their own special and unique interest areas, we were all able to learn and grow from each other.
  5. Make coming home a positive experience
    • I was sitting in the airport, sleep-deprived, drained of all fluids, thinking of nothing but work and school starting back up tomorrow. But as soon as I saw my friend pulling up at the airport to pick me up, I knew that I was back home, and that was a good feeling. It was so good to see her, and I know it’ll be great to see work friends tomorrow, and to be in the classroom again. By viewing it as a positive, it’s making me feel less sad about leaving Chicago, and happier to be back in Buffalo.

The Ghosts of Twentysomething Past, Present, and Future

I feel like every single blog post for the past month has been about the new year. Well, why break the streak now? I hope you’re not tired of it, yet. Maybe by February I’ll think of a new topic…

But for this week, I have one final thought on 2016. At least, for right now. As the new year is well underway, I’ve been surprised by the number of times this year I’ve been visited by ghosts of my past. Skeletons in the closet, if you will. And most of these skeletons, surprisingly, have been from relationship-type situations. The worst. This week alone I responded to a four-month-old Facebook message from an ex, was laughed at by someone when I told him I only wanted to be friends,  and gave out my number to this cute guy at Starbucks.

Well, damn. That is a lot to happen in one week! Especially for me, someone who is chronically single, someone who uses the answer “nonexistent” when someone asks me about my love life. And yet, from these three experiences this week, I’ve learned something from each one. They’ve all signified something important about my relationships…the past, the present, and the future.

  1. The Ghost of Twentysomething Past
    • This is my favorite ghost. The Ghost of Twentysomething Past is the ghost that I have learned the most from. It’s also the ghost that can be the most painful, which is hard. And surprise, it never goes away. Ghosts of your past will always be a part of your life tapestry, no matter how many times you wash, rinse, and repeat. It’s up to you how you view it: a tarnished stain, or a beautiful new set of stitches. It reminds you of who you are and why you are here today. Maybe you aren’t with that person anymore, or you didn’t end on the best of terms, but there’s a reason for that. Looking in the past, it gives you the opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow. Hindsight really can be 20/20.
  2. The Ghost of Twentysomething Present
    • I find this ghost to be the most unexpected (yes, even more unexpected than the future). Here’s why: sometimes, the future is so far away that it’s not even worth making plans. The typical case of this is saying something like “I really want to wear a white bow tie on my wedding day!” when you’re still single AF. It’s hard to plan for the future if your present isn’t lined up first. So you go on a few dates, think it’s going really well, and then BAM. You meet someone else, something comes up, it’s not a good time. Whatever the reason. Which is why, in the Ghost of Twentysomething Present, it’s important to be as adaptable as possible. Things will always be happening. In the present, anything could happen at any moment, the script is still being written. Whereas the past is archived and the future is still blank. Life is a constant state of change, and you won’t feel it more than in any other moment but the present.
  3. The Ghost of Twentysomething Future
    • The ghost of excitement. New beginnings. Also, the ghost of anxiety, nervousness. Uncharted territory. The Ghost of Twentysomething Future leads to thirtysomethings, fortysomethings, and beyond. It leads to milestones. There are a whole bunch of stories from older thirtysomethings and fortysomethings saying that if they could give one piece of advice to current twentysomethings, it would be to prepare more for the future. That’s all fine and dandy, and I don’t necessarily disagree. But I also think it’s important to keep an open mind and not try to plan detail by detail. Be ready to embrace your future with open arms.

What’s most important in all of this, though, is that the past, present, and future are all a part of who we are, and help to tell our own individual story. It’s what makes us unique. It’s what makes us who we are. And for that, it is beautiful.

Why Not Meeting Your Goals Is (Sometimes) Okay

This has been A WEEK. So much has happened. In regards to Twentysomething Months, I have officially launched our new Facebook page! I was so incredibly honored (and pleasantly surprised) by the immense support that immediately followed. Dream big, people!

Life, though, isn’t always full of dreams. Maybe it is, for the idealists. But I like to be a little more real. And with that said, we are now ten days into the New Year, and my goals are going strong. Early last week, I made Goal Tracking sheets to help me see my progress throughout the year. For each goal, there is a chart that marks out each day of every week. For example, one of my goals is to work out four times a week. Every time I get back from the gym, I can check that day off the sheet. This is also known as the “Gold Star Method.” Maybe it’s the Millennial in me, but I like the instant gratification of being able to check off that little box, or get a Gold Star, every time I accomplish something.

But here’s the realist in me. I have four main goals that I am trying to accomplish this year. These four goals can be tracked consistently throughout the year. I do have some other goals (like managing my money better, finding a job after graduation, etc) but those other goals can’t necessarily be tracked on regular basis. So, for 2016, these are my four trackable goals:

  • Go to the gym 4x/week
  • Write 3,000-5,000 words/week
  • Post on the NEW TWENTYSOMETHING MONTHS FACEBOOK PAGE (sorry, shameless plug) at least 2x/week
  • Meditate 1x/week

Now, if I’m being honest, I only achieved half of my goals for this week. Can you guess which two? I’ll give you a hint…both goals are the ones that relate to writing.

Anyway, the other two goals didn’t really work out for me this week. Sure, I did work out three times this week, regardless of the fact that I felt like death and could barely breath out of my nose. But I didn’t meet my goal. And meditation? Ha! “I didn’t have time this week.” I mean, technically, I did. But I didn’t use it for meditation. And the writing goal? Even THAT I barely scraped the surface of 3,000 words. Bare minimum, Michael. Come on, pick it up.

But then I thought of something.

Progress matters.

Michael, you went to the gym three times this week! Who cares about the fourth time? You still went three times, and that matters. And who cares if you didn’t reach 5,000 words? You still wrote 3,182 words this week, which is more than you would’ve written if you never set any goal. So, be proud!

Please excuse that last paragraph. It was really more of me trying to convince myself. But really, progress it important and shouldn’t be forgotten. So, if you are like me, and you’ve set some really amazing New Years Goals but have fallen a little bit shorter than you would’ve liked this week, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. If your goals are realistic and manageable, don’t change them.
    • My goal of meditating once a week is totally doable. I was just lazy this week. Unless something life-changing came up, or you realize your goals are totally unrealistic, the first instinct shouldn’t be to lessen your goal. Shoot for the stars!
  2. Move forward and alter your actions, if necessary
    • If you didn’t meet your goal this week, think back. Why not? I know for me, I only went to the gym three nights this week because three other nights I was working my part-time job, and the seventh night out of the week I was getting my haircut. That makes sense. But for the mediation goal, that’s an example of when I need to alter my plan. So now, I have a set scheduled meditation time for this coming week…which is not ideal, but I know it will help me reach that goal.
  3. Remember progress counts towards your goals
    • Even if you don’t reach your goal, progress shows that you’ve still worked towards it. Compromise with yourself. Some progress is better than nothing at all.

What are some other ways you are tracking your own progress and success? Share your goals in the comments below!

 

2015: A Year in Review

Well hello everyone, and Happy New Year to you all! Last week, I wrote a blog post about preparing for the new year. With all the hype, I didn’t have much of a chance to reflect on this past year, especially in regards to my blog. Luckily, WordPress created an annual report for me!

Looking back at my blog this year, I wrote 49 blog posts (one for every week since I started blogging) with more than 5,000 views in 27 different countries. For a guy who just decided one day to start writing a random blog about the twentysomething experience, THIS IS SO COOL! So, what better way to reflect back on this past year of blogging than with a recap of my top favorite posts? Reading back, these were the top 25 lessons I learned and wrote about in 2015.

  1. Try something new.
  2. Do something you love, regardless of what anyone else says.
  3. Embrace change.
  4. Celebrate life.
  5. Home is not a concrete term. It doesn’t signify a building or a town, and it’s possible that the idea of “home” will change over time.
  6. You are a person, outside of work.
  7. So much can change in one year.
  8. Life is a roller coaster. What goes up, must come down. And just when you think the ride is over, that’s when you need to hang on the tightest.
  9. Treat Yo Self! (special cred. to Parks & Rec).
  10. Your future self will thank your twentysomething self if you work out, eat healthy, and take care of your body.
  11. It’s unlikely to know everything about yourself. The important thing is to be aware and reflect on who you are.
  12. Holidays as a twentysomething are completely different
  13. You can always change your mind…in everything. Career, friends, Friday night plans. It’s okay to change your mind.
  14. Find meaning in everything.
  15. You can only “grin and bear it” for so long.
  16. Splitting yourself into multiple identities and personalities won’t do anyone any good, especially yourself. Instead, work on congruence: blending all of your selves into one.
  17. Everything in moderation
  18. Ride the wave. If you try and fight it…you’re going to get pushed down.
  19. Money is important, but so are fun times with friends.
  20. Move forward, but don’t forget to look back.
  21. Find a mentor (or multiple mentors).
  22. There is no “right” way into adulthood.
  23. Your passions are the things that keep you awake at night. Follow these things.
  24. Break the awkward twentysomething silence. Believe me, no matter how absurd or embarrassing, you are not alone.
  25. We live, we learn, and we grow.

And with that, from one twentysomething to another, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful start to the new year. With these lessons in mind, I promise there will be plenty more twentysomething posts to come!

And on a related side note, I have some big things coming your way for Twentysomething Months! Make sure to stay on the lookout, and I’ll keep you all posted! 🙂

With blog love and New Year’s magic,
Michael