Trying to Find the “Perfect Fit”

The universe is really testing me, lately.

finally hear back from a job in New York City, get all excited and prepared for the on-campus interview, and then when I make it on campus, within the first two minutes, I know it’s not the right fit for me. And to be honest, I knew it from the very first email that was sent to me. Call it intuition…?

Regardless, it wasn’t for me. And even though I already knew it before I even stepped foot on campus, I was still disappointed. There I was, in this absolutely gorgeous area of NYC, with everything else a perfect fit, except the actual job I was interviewing for.

Such is life, right?

Surprisingly, when I was telling people about my experience afterwards, the most common questions was, “Would you still take the job if they offered it?”

…what? I don’t understand. Weren’t you listening? I said it wasn’t a good fit, so why would I take it?

[Now, I understand that there is one caveat in this story: adulting. Ugh, it’s the worst. So yes, I understand that reasons why I would take the job include: a competitive salary, a benefits package, insurance, and for no other reason, being offered a job when my current job will be ending very soon. I get all of that. But for the purpose of this blog post, all of that is null and void].

I think that’s one of the biggest differences between our generations today. i.e.:

My dad: Take the job! It’s money! A job is a job! Money is money!
Me: [whiny voice] But it’s not what I love to do!!!!!!

And so on and so forth.

But I’ve been thinking – life is like a shopping spree. Think of your favorite store. Everything always fits perfectly, the price is right. Sometimes, life will be like that. The jackpot. You got the job, you were promoted, you found the love of your life, etc. But then think of your least favorite store – the one you don’t even bother going in…yeah, that one. Nothing ever fits, it’s too expensive, the staff aren’t very nice. Sometimes, life can be like that, too.

Except with life, you don’t really have a choice about which store to walk into.

EXCEPT! And here’s the catch: we do have a choice. We, as humans, have free will and human agency. Aka, the ability to make choices, even in the face of whatever predestined fate there may or may not be.

So, for a very real example, the other day I decided to walk into H&M, which, is usually my jackpot store. But that day, everything seemed to be off. Nothing was fitting right, I wasn’t finding any good sales. I was just about done and ready to walk out of the store when I saw this amazing summer shirt that I fell in love with. Short-sleeved, button down, light blue and navy trims…but of course, the small was too small and the medium was too big, and I just hated it. You all know the feeling, right?

And here’s where I actually get to the point, so get ready.

That H&M shirt didn’t fit, so I didn’t buy it. Why would I? It’s like everything else in life. Does it fit? No? Then forget about it.

Jobs, relationships, friendships, hobbies, activities…literally anything. Why do we spend so much time trying to make things fit into our lives that we don’t even want there in the first place? It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

And as my love, role model, inspiration, and sunshine goddess Tori Kelly sings, “It’s just the art of letting you go.” Letting go is an art form. And sometimes, we just need to learn to let go of an opportunity. A friendship. A hobby. Because even though it may be amazing for someone else, if it’s not the right fit for you, than it’s not right. Period.


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.

Twentysomething Growing Pains

“There is growth across difference.”

This is a quote from somewhere. Great Michael, how profound. No, but really. It is a quote, and coincidentally enough, these words have been flashing across my mind a lot this week. When I Googled “growth across difference quote,” there were no exact matches. There were a bunch of beautiful quotes about diversity and accepting others, all from the lips of people like Maya Angelou and Ghandi. Yet, no exact matches. The quote is something I say a lot when I teach others about diversity, and because I can’t find any other matches, I’m going to attribute it to my supervisor. So, go her!! Thanks for that!

Anyway. Back to the main point.

There is growth across difference. Difference of opinions. Difference of perspective. Different people in general. There is so much to be learned from each other. There is a beauty in collaborative understanding, in sharing of different cultures and experiences, and learning more about the world around you. As Gretchen Rubin says, “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good in an atmosphere of growth.”

Growth is everything, people. There’s just one caveat. Growth is really, really hard.

(Just to reiterate: growth is REALLY HARD). And that’s okay. I guess that’s why they are called “growing pains.” Yet when I think of that term, I always thought physical pain. Literal growing pains. I remember my mother massaging my calves when I was going through a growth spurt because my muscles were having a temper tantrum of their own. But now, I’m twenty four…basically a full, independent adult. And single. Which is only kind of relevant. But when your mom isn’t there to massage your calves, I think the metaphorical equivalent of a cure for twentysomething growing pains is coming home to your person and talking through it.

This week in particular seems to be a challenging one. Training started at work, I’ve been meeting a bunch of new people in the program, and school is starting back up again the week after next. Maybe that all sounds great, but for some reason, I’m having a sense of social anxiety about it. It’s weird. But also, it’s a growth opportunity.

So, as always, here are some ideas that will maybe help with growth across difference.

  1. Feel it
    • I wanted to write “feel the feels,” but I kind of hate that expression. Although, it totally applies here. Actually, I love that expression. Feel the feels! My perspective is this: any challenging experience can also be seen as a personal growth opportunity. I’ll give you an example. Recently, there has been some tension with the parents. Mostly because I want to “run away” to Europe post-grad and “throw away my education.” Whatever. At first, I thought I was handling the situation by just ignoring it, which consequently meant ignoring them. And as soon as I felt the effects of that, all the feels came my way. And I needed that. I needed to think, reflect, and process why that tension was a point of difficulty for me.
  2. Embrace it
    • After you acknowledge the growth opportunity and allow yourself to feel it, you need to embrace the challenge in front of you. It may not be easy, but it’s a vital step. If you just ignore it, it’s not going to go away. The challenge won’t become any easier and you won’t be able to learn anything from it. With my parents, I had to embrace the fact that for once in my life, I didn’t feel supported by my parents. But after feeling that emotion, and embracing it, I was able to think about how to move forward.
  3. Learn from it
    • What’s the point of having a challenging experience if you aren’t able to learn from it? There are some times that life seems extremely difficult, but don’t let it be for nothing. Learn from it, and grow. With my parents, I needed to have a conversation with them. I learned that when talking about my post-grad plans, I might need to be a little more sensitive. My parents also challenged me to think across different perspectives, and challenged why I want to go to Europe. It was a fair question, and I’ve been thinking more about that recently, which I’d like to think is helping me grow.

And lastly, just in case you need one last reminder:

What other twentysomething experiences have presented themselves as personal growth opportunities?