Why Everyone Should Shave Their Head

During the summer of 2011, I shaved my head. I was in the downstairs bathroom gripping the edges of the white porcelain sink and I had this absurd thought of shaving my head. And just like that, I grabbed my dad’s clippers from upstairs and did it in a few smooth motions. My sister saw me with my new self-haircut, and she cried. She was fourteen.

Here is a picture of me in a tree donning my beautiful lime green RA polo in a tree.

shortcare

 

Earlier this week, I had a horrifying dream. I’ll give you the SparkNotes version. A friend of mine was super excited about something, and I was super curious. Then all of a sudden, she says, “We should shave your head!!” And of course, in this dream, I replied just as enthusiastically…”Yes! Of course we should!” Now, I thought it would be one of those situations where someone invites you out to coffee, but never actually intends to follow up…we’ve all been there, right? Well, to my surprise, my friend pulls out the clippers right on the spot and I start freaking the frick out. I’m crying – sobbing, really – and fighting against her as hard as I can to not have my head shaved.

The end result? I looked something like this:

barbie-doll-bad-haircuts-dgaaxnny5jggreuy

As it turns out, according to a dream dictionary, having your hair cut is a sign of success in a new venture or sphere of activity. Could this possibly apply to my upcoming interview at NYU? Let’s hope so.

My interpretation was a little different. Having my head forcibly shaved in this dream meant that it is time for a significant life change – one that I am very consciously resistant to. I know that I am ready for a change, and that it’s time for something new. But as always, transition and change bring stress and challenging times. And while I’m trying my best to be positive, I can’t deny that I have been completely stressed and a tad overwhelmed these past few weeks. Back to my dream, it’s time to cut something loose. Out with the old, in with the new.

As Regina Spektor says in this song,  “Maybe you should cut your own hair / ’cause that would be so funny / it doesn’t cost any money / and it always grow back / hair grows even after you’re dead.”

So many people I know are going through times of transition and change, and let me tell you, it is HARD. I definitely don’t want to diminish the challenges that are associated with these times. But I have some tips to potentially help with the “shaving your head” metaphor.

  1. Maybe you should cut your own hair…
    • Transition and change is difficult. But the first part is accepting it. I need to embrace the fact that by this time six months from now, my life will be 100% completely different. The first step is realizing what you have the power to control, and letting everything else just happen.
  2. …’cause that would be so funny
    • Loosen up a bit. I found myself venting to a friend earlier this week about all my stress, and she laughed out loud and said, “Michael, it’s not that big of a deal.” She even imitated me. And admittedly so, I did sound a bit whiny. We tend to make a bigger deal out of things. Laugh a little bit, it’ll be good for you.
  3. It doesn’t cost any money
    • Cutting your own hair doesn’t cost any money. Change and transition doesn’t have to cause stress. Enjoy the present moment rather than stressing about the hypothetical future that isn’t even in existence yet.
  4. It always grows back, hair grows even after you’re dead
    • You can always change your mind. If you hate your new shaved head, or if it’s a total hack job, it’ll always grow back. In time. Give it time. New perspectives usually come with time, which is never a bad thing.

Now, go shave your head.

 

 

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25 Years in 25 Lessons

Hello, all! And welcome to my weekly blog post. As some of you may have known, I turned 25 a few weeks ago, and it’s been pretty great so far. My mom made this collage to share with the Facebook world on my birthday that I wanted to share with all of you…wasn’t I cute? Look at my little red overalls!

michael

Anyway…

I do feel “older.” The last day of 24 and the first day of 25 felt like a ginormous age shift. I’m not longer a “young twentysomething.” I’m one year closer to a “thirtysomething!” I need to slow down.

Birthdays are often a time of reflection for me. From one year to the next, how far have I grown? What have I accomplished? While New Year’s feels like too much of a cliche to reflect in that way, my birthday feels uniquely special to me. And this year, with the whole having-a-blog thing, I wanted to reflect here. Twenty-five lessons I’ve learned in my 25 years.

  1. It’s okay to love yourself. In fact, I would strongly encourage it.
  2. Ramen is not a proper substitute for a meal.
  3. Other people’s opinions of you really don’t matter. Really. Your own opinion of yourself is more important.
  4. Growth only occurs under constant and consistent supports. Know your support systems.
  5. Heartbreak is temporary, but the lessons you take away are lifelong.
  6. Love does win.
  7. Jumping on the bed won’t hurt anybody (unless you fall off or twist your ankle).
  8. Your body will thank you for eating your yucky green vegetables.
  9. Karma can be a jerk or a blessing. It all depends on what you put into the Universe and how you treat others.
  10. All feelings are valid, but you need logical examples to support your claims.
  11. Parents can be equal parts annoying and loving, but in the end, they will always be there to love and support you.
  12. Friends are just as important as family.
  13. Be intentional in your work, your relationships, and your purpose.
  14. The biggest sign of positive growth is resistance. Don’t give up.
  15. It’s okay to give up.
  16. Failure isn’t the experience to fear.
  17. Every experience is either a positive experience, or a personal growth opportunity.
  18. There is no “right” way to live your life.
  19. Your life is defined by you.
  20. “Hold your friends close, and enemies closer” is garbage. Hold your friends as tight as possible, and let go of any negative energy in your life.
  21. Grown-up birthdays aren’t always celebrated on your day of birth. It doesn’t mean people love you any less.
  22. Look for opportunities, and take them.
  23. Take a risk in taking risks.
  24. Move forward, while also looking back (yes, it’s possible).
  25. It’s all going to be okay. I promise.

 

 

Here’s to All the Single Ladies

Happy Valentine’s Day, all my twentysomething friends! A day of love, beauty, romance, flowers, and chocolate. Or, a day for solo wine binges, Netflix, and internal sobs. In my basic understanding of relationships, there are three options.

  1. Taken
  2. Single
  3. It’s complicated 

This year, I find myself in the second category: single. And no, this blog post is not a plea to all the single attractive people out there. Although, if anyone cute is reading this, my number is 518-27…okay, wait, just kidding.

My question for all my single friends: why can’t we have both types of Valentine’s Days? I want the love, flowers, chocolates, AND solo wine binges and Netflix. The internal sobs can stay at home this year, because:

Notime.jpg

So this year, if you are single and not-ready-to-mingle, or maybe you are ready but want to have a nice Valentine’s Day for yourself, I say go for it. And here are a few ideas:

  1. The Traditional
    • Indulge yourself in all the typical Valentine’s Day treats. Buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of roses (or any flowers, really…pick your favorite)! Buy a box of chocolates for yourself and don’t feel guilty about eating half of it in one sitting. Maybe if you’re feeling extra fancy, prepare a gourmet meal for one, get dressed up, and treat yourself to a glass of wine and a good book while eating your specially-prepared-for-you-by-you meal.
  2. The Date Night
    • Who says you can’t take yourself out? Pick your favorite restaurant, or a new restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Order your favorite thing from the menu, and don’t even think twice about ordering dessert. You deserve it. Afterwards, check the local movie times and go to a movie. Yes, by yourself. I know it can be awkward at first, but I’ve done it, and it’s actually a refreshing change of pace. Pick out a ridiculously overpriced snack, sit back in the seat, and enjoy a movie on you.
  3. The Buy-My-Love
    • Alicia Keys sings, “Some people want diamond rings…but everything means nothing, if I ain’t got you.” I love me some Alicia Keys, but let me tell you, everything does mean something, with or without this ever-elusive “you” figure. Now, as twentysomethings, we may not be able to treat ourselves to a diamond ring. But take yourself to the mall and go on a mini shopping spree. A little retail therapy never hurt anyone.
  4. The Stay-In Valentine 
    • Crowds aren’t your thing? I totally understand, especially when you know everyone else will be partnered off. Sometimes, it’s better to just avoid it. In this case, tonight is the perfect night to search the “RomCom” category on Netflix, or hit up the local Red Box (do they even have those anymore?). Anyway, stay in and do you! Dress in the comfiest pair of pajamas you have, puffy socks, cushy slippers…the whole deal. Make yourself some hot cocoa and curl up on the couch.
  5. The Anti-Valentine
    • Okay, so I have to admit, Valentine’s Day isn’t for everyone. There are even married people I know who’ve said, “We don’t really do Valentine’s day.” That’s cool, too. So, in that case, just keep living your life. Why is being single any harder on this day than on any other day of the year? As far as I know, there is no research that states that there are more couples on Valentine’s Day than on any other day, so just keep doing you. Do your laundry, go grocery shopping, and just live your regular Sunday best.

vday2

Regardless of your plans for today, I’m  wishing you all much blog love, as I, a single man, will probably choose a combination of all of these ideas for today.

 

Twentysomething Taste: The Kitchen Sink Frittata

Hey all,

Welcome to another Twentysomething Taste! This week, we’re learning how to make a simple, easy dish that takes (maybe) 15 minutes.

But what’s a frittata? you might ask. Great question. A frittata is an Italian egg-based dish, made mostly with vegetables, cheeses, and meats. This twentysomething spin takes eggs and whatever else you have in the kitchen. So let’s get started!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, and crack 2-3 eggs in a bowl.IMG_9591 (002)
  2. Add a splash of milk, salt and pepper, and literally any combination of veggies, meats, and cheeses that you think would taste good. In this case, I used broccoli and feta. Ham and Swiss is also good, you could throw in some mushrooms and onions…literally anything you have. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Spray a small pan with cooking spray and add the egg mixture (left). Cook in oven for ten minutes (right). Be careful lifting the pan out of the oven…it’ll be hot!
  4. Slice, serve, and enjoy!IMG_9597 (002)

RE: For When You’re Spinning Out of Orbit

This has been such an interesting week. You know those weeks where you just feel like everything has been turned upside down, tossed around, shaken up…and then just when you think you’re starting to settle back down, you get thrown across the room? Yeah, that’s how this entire semester has felt so far. “The planets are misaligned” has been my excuse. Which, I must acknowledge, is a very passive stance, just sitting still and hoping they would hurry their ass up and realign so I can continue about my “normal” life.

But so many things have happened recently, good things. The snow in the snow globe is finally drifting back to a resting point. Maybe the planets are realigning themselves as we speak. But I must admit, for a while, it was a little turbulent. And three quotes in particular have stuck out to me during all this:

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” –Shake It Out, Florence and the Machine
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Albus Dumbledore
“But still, like air, I’ll rise.” –Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

What do all of these quotes have in common? Well, basically, life will be dark at times, but there is always a light. There will always be an upswing. If you contribute positively to the universe, the universe will contribute positively to you.

To share some of my own “blah” from the past few weeks (and I’ll keep it short), things haven’t been great. Not THE WORST, but not the best either, you know? Spiritually, I’ve felt completed blocked. But I signed up for a tarot class this past week and as soon as I walked into the room, I felt so much lighter. Friend situations have been rough, but this week in particular, it seems like I’ve received a flood of love and support, which has been incredible. Much needed chats and catch ups, and friends just being good friends. And on an academic note, I have my comprehensive exams this weekend (aka, hello here’s a 20-page paper to write over the weekend: GO!). But even with that, I’ve been the most productive this weekend, having written most of it by Friday night, and still having time to go to the gym, watch Parenthood, and write for fun. It rocks.

The thing that strikes me as peculiar about all this is that the things that made me feel better during this misalignment were things that I didn’t really want to do in the first place. I was hesitant to take a tarot class because it costs money and it’s “weird.” And I love my friends, but sometimes we all get wrapped up in our separate lives. And then of course, no one “wants” to take the comp exams.

And yet, it’s these things that made me feel the light again. The dawn. The happiness. The rise. And maybe the message is this: sometimes, it’s the things that we don’t want to do the most that we get the most joy from. Does that even make sense? Like going to the gym, for example, or eating healthy. It’s not my favorite thing in the entire universe, but I definitely feel good afterwards. Or grad school. It’s hard AF sometimes, but I know I’m going to walk away a better person with a great education.

I guess I don’t really have any “steps” this week…no helpful “tips and tricks.” Maybe it’s more a tiny source of inspiration. If you are ever feeling like the planets aren’t aligning for you, maybe it’s just the darkness before the dawn. Maybe someone just needs to turn on the light. And like air, you too will rise.

The Twentysomething Taste: 5-Minute Vegetarian Chili

Hello and welcome to my first ever recipe for the Twentysomething Taste on Twentysomething Months!

For this week, I want to introduce my 5-Minute Vegetarian Chili.

12540074_10153309469492555_1246975642_nIt’s super tasty and perfect for a cold winter night. And, the best part, it literally takes five minutes. It’s low in calories and high in protein…it’s a win-win. This recipe is also great for single people like me because it only serves one. But if you are feeding more than yourself, just double or triple the recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1-1.5 cups of canned beans (I like 1/2 cup each of black beans, red kidney beans, and white navy beans)
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Ready for the instructions? Great, me too.

  1. Mix it all in a bowl.
  2. Microwave until hot.
  3. …that’s it!

Calories per serving: 437
Protein grams per serving: 52

I hope you enjoyed this Twentysomething Taste!

 

A Shoutout to the 4 AM Friends

You know those days where you wish you could just hit the reset button? Well, this entire week has been like that. It was the first full week back to work with students, the first week of classes, and there was some personal drama. But the one positive thing that remained constant this week was the support: the friends that I know I can count on no matter what. So for that, I say thank you.

The challenging part about being a twentysomething (or honestly, just being an adult in general) is that all your friends are in faraway lands. Your biggest supports are hundreds of miles away. I’ve written about this before in my blogs, so again, no need to go into full complain mode, but Buffalo is just not the place for me socially. Most friends here just don’t click (or stick). And yet, because this week was such a doozy, that’s really what I needed the most.

I needed 4 AM friends. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those friends that no matter what time of the night it is, you can call them up on the phone and know that they will answer because they care about you, and vice versa. This week, I have reached out to a handful of my 4 AM friends, whether it was barging into their office at work, sending an email check in, writing a letter, texting long paragraphs, or picking up the phone and actually dialing.

Because of this, I wanted to send a massive thank you to all my 4 AM friends who were so especially awesome this week. Appreciation is something that is so necessary but oftentimes forgotten. So here are five (small, inexpensive) ways that you can reach out to show appreciation to your 4 AM friends, even if you didn’t necessarily need it this week:

  1. A spoken thank you
    • I was in staff meeting the other day, and during our meeting, someone turned to someone else and said, “I appreciate you.” The phrase stuck with me. Later in the week, when I was talking to someone, I wanted the other person to feel recognized and appreciated. “Thank you for listening, I appreciate you.” A small handful of words can be so meaningful.
  2. A thank you letter
    • As a writer, this option appeals to me. And I don’t mean a text message. I mean a real, genuine, hand-written thank you letter. Maybe that friend doesn’t even know how much they mean to you, and you expressing that could be the thing to brighten their day and bring your friendship closer together.
  3. A small gift 
    • I know all of our budgets are tight. Side note, my credit card company sent me my first ever notice the other day that I had almost reached my credit line. Yikes, talk about a mini heart attack. ANYWAY, a small gift. If you know they start their day every morning with a grande vanilla latte, send them a five dollar Starbucks gift card. Or maybe you find your favorite photo of the two of you, frame it, and send it to them as a reminder of how much their friendship means to you.
  4. Spend time together 
    • I know this is counter-intuitive to the part about your friends potentially being hundreds of miles away, but follow me for a minute. If your friends are physically around, get coffee. Grab lunch. Spend time together. If not, carve a chunk out of your day to make a phone call, to actually catch up with a person, as opposed to just saying it.
  5. Reciprocate
    • I always say that friendships are a give and take. Ideally, it’s 50-50. But sometimes, it needs to be 70-30. And that’s okay. As long as you make sure that when the other person needs to be at 70, you reciprocate and are also there to be their 4 AM friend. And don’t forget to ask “How are you?” when you are done…it shows you care about them as a friend and as a person, not just as a sounding board.

How else do you show appreciation to your 4 AM friends? Share your thoughts below!