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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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.

Happiness in Just Three (Easy) Steps!

This past week, as some of you may know, I was at a conference for work with other student affairs professionals. When I returned to work on Thursday, people asked, “How was it?!” I responded with one phrase: “life-changing.”

“Why?!” everyone asks.

My scripted (and entirely true response): “It was life-changing because I felt educated, inspired, and connected.”

Over the course of this past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about why those three feelings contributed to the overarching sense of “life-changing.” And as I thought about it, I realized that these three feelings – educated, inspired, and connected – were also relevant to a twentysomething life. Maybe even life in general for people of all ages. Here’s why:

  1. Educated
    • At the conference, I learned something at almost every single session I attended. For other conference goers, you know how rare that is! But after each session, I walked away with pages of notes and dozens of new ideas to bring back to my campus. Student affairs professionals like to use to term Lifelong Learners, and it applies to all of us. Having a feeling of growth is a major component to happiness, and that includes your brain. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, suggests picking up three new magazines every month that you would have never read otherwise. Or watching a documentary on something that interests you and learning even more about it. Either way, the point is to learn. Forever. Becoming a life-long learner will absolutely contribute to your happiness.
  2. Inspired
    • The amount of times my job has come up through the course of this blog might be one too many, but here’s a plot twist: after this conference, I LOVE MY JOB! And more than that, I love the field of work that I am currently doing. It was a reminder of why I’m doing the work that I’m doing, and why I love it so much. So how do you start to feel inspired when you are feeling completely lack-luster? Well, I would ask yourself, why? Why am I doing this job? What made me want to do this job in the first place? If that doesn’t fill you with passion and inspiration, maybe it’s time to reconsider. Another idea is to check back in with yourself about your goals. When you first started at your job/company/office/etc, what were your goals? Have you reached any of them? If not, are you currently working towards them, or did they kind of fall off the bandwagon? Realign your work with your goals. Goals provide a purpose in your work, which in turns provide a sense of inspiration.
  3. Connected
    • By the end of the conference, I was able to look around the room and feel connected with most of the people in the room. Some I knew before the conference, some I met while I was there, and others were just a friendly face that I had gotten used to seeing over the past four days. Again with Gretchen Rubin (she really is great), but she says that people/connectedness is another contributing factor to happiness. So how are you connected? What are you doing to get involved, get connected in your office, or in your community? We are always telling college students to get involved, but we need to practice what we preach. No matter what your job is, get involved. Make an active positive presence for yourself. Join a committee, attend events that are not required, offer guidance to a coworker in another department, volunteer on the weekends. Soon enough, these additional responsibilities that at first may just seem like extra time commitments will soon pay off in having connections and in having some really amazing people in your life.

So, I guess that’s it folks. The three key factors of happiness: Feeling educated, inspired, and connected. Although I know it’s not that simple, it may be a good place to start.

What are other ways you feel educated, inspired, and connected?

The Importance of Finding a Mentor

Finding a mentor is one of the most important things in life.

I know that sounds like a dramatic statement, an exaggeration perhaps…but I dare you to challenge it. Mentors are kind of like the idea, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” Except with mentors, it’s the opposite. You don’t know how valuable mentors are until you need one.

A mentor is someone who can guide you through those not-so-great experiences. Someone who is there to validate what you are going through and help you work through it. I used to think that a mentor was someone who provided guidance for all aspects of life, but as I’m getting older, I’m realizing that’s not necessarily the case.

When I am feeling musically inclined, I email my piano teacher for Chopin suggestions. A musical mentor. When I am feeling stuck in a writer’s block, I email my writing coach. A writing mentor. And when I am feeling discouraged at work, I can walk into my supervisor’s office and ask her advice. A work mentor.

A mentor is someone who has most likely gone through your experience and is able to offer helpful advice. Someone who has been there before. But because we all have so many different experiences, it’s hard to have one “life mentor.” But it’s easier to connect with people who have similar interests and similar experiences.

When going through any kind of difficult twentysomething period, I’ve realized that I can’t really rely on my musical mentor, my writing mentor, or even my work mentor. It’s nice to hear about their perspective, but it’s even nicer to hear from other twentysomethings who are going through similar experiences in the same time period.

So, here are my tips and tricks to finding your very own twentysomething mentor:

  1. Find another Twentysomething
    • This may sound strange. Usually, when looking for a mentor, you want an older, wiser person who is able to give you their words of wisdom. But sometimes, especially as a twentysomething, I just need another twentysomething person to tell me that they’ve also had drunken encounters before and regretted it the morning after. Or that paying rent nearly cleared out their bank account. Or that grad school is completely soul-sucking. You need to be able to relate to your twentysomething mentor, and even more importantly, they need to be able to relate to you.
  2. Embrace the Vulnerability
    • If there’s one overarching theme that I’ve learned about being a twentysomething, it’s that vulnerability is a consistent feeling across all twentysomething experiences. The security of college is gone, the security of living at home or with friends is taken…hell, you may not even have a secure job, relationship, friend group, etc. There is no stability at all. Hence, vulnerability. If you go about your whole mentor/mentee relationship skirting real-life adult issues, nothing is going to get any better. Take a risk and be vulnerable. If you feel you have no friends, it’s okay to say that. If you hate your job, be honest! Be honest, take risks, and embrace the vulnerability.
  3. Listen with Open Ears
    • You can’t  have a mentor and not be open to at least hearing what they have to say. They might tell you that you need to get your life together, that you are having way too many one night stands, or that the number of Chinese take-out containers in your apartment is getting out of control. Take it in stride. Maybe your life is a mess, maybe you really enjoy meeting new people in that way, and maybe you just love Chinese food. It’s cool. Or maybe there is some truth in their advice. Either way, take everything with a grain of salt, but still be open to listening.

And when all is said and done, make sure to thank you mentor, because without them, who knows where you’d be?