Working For The Weekend

Working For The Weekend

workWe’ve all had those seasons in life where we really could care less about our work or school. For my friends about to graduate, senioritis has kicked in and all you can see is the open road to freedom. For all us post-grads, we are working for the weekend or 5:00 pm. I know too well how easy it is to check out, to coast through responsibilities and projects. Eye on the prize. But we really do miss a lot by not giving our all to the moment at hand. God has given us each life stage, each season, for a reason. These times are opportunities for personal growth and God promises that they are for our ultimate good (Jeremiah 29:11; James 1:2-4). Whatever we do, we are called to work diligently with all our heart, as if working for the Lord and not for man so that our actions can be a testimony for Christ (Colossians 3:23). The world is desperate for Christian accountants, Christian copywriters, Christian grocery store clerks, and Christian college students. Be present where God have placed you.

But work and school aren’t everything.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:27)

It is when work and school start to consume our thoughts and define our worth that we’ve lost sight of their true purpose. God calls us to live in the world but to not be of the world.  So yes, the purpose of work and school in ‘the world’ is to provide income and stability. But in the eternal world, these are just mediums for spiritual growth, whether it is our own or the growth of others through our interaction with them:

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

When our work is hard, we are called to endure:

“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it.” (1 Corinthians 4:12)

We are even called to work in general!:

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues vain things lacks sense.” (Proverbs 12:11)

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. ” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9)

And everything we do, be it filing, that research project, or your business trip, should be done for Christ:

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

so whether you are in a job you love, a job you hate, or your still waiting for graduation, think of your work as an opportunity. Who knows what God will make of it?

Twinless

Twinless

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After 22 years of living with my twin (and best friend), I am now officially ‘twinless’. Ok ok, so she just moved to Houston, but it has been a pretty big change in my life. I can hear a couple “I told you so”s coming my way, but before you start lecturing me on how we were too dependent on each other, cool your jets. The change from twinhood to singleton status has been hard for reasons you may not have thought (at least, I didn’t). I haven’t cried about it. I haven’t called her every day (this surprised me). Actually, Haley and I have only had 3 or so phone conversations since she left over a month ago. We haven’t even skyped!  While I do miss having someone understand my inner most being, know every inside joke I’ve ever had, read my moods, and share my experiences, I have enjoyed, no relished, the opportunity to be my own person. I have always been ‘my own person’ but, to the outside world, I was always known as a pack of twinkies. I came with a buddy. Two for the price of one. Double trouble. A stereo set. But now, when I meet people, they know me for ME. They don’t have to struggle to differentiate between Haley and I. They don’t have to be scared to call me by my name afraid they’ll make a mistake (Calling me by “Gatewood” or “twin” instead… I know you’re trick!). I was never afraid to be my own person, to be on my own, but this past month has made me realize the differences between twins and singletons and has taught me some major lessons:

1. It is ‘ok’ to be alone.

I’ve been alone before. I lived in a single dorm for the past 3 years. I’ve spent time just by myself and have enjoyed it for the most part. But there is a difference between ‘being alone’ and ‘feeling alone’. When Haley was here, she could have been across campus, in a different room, or in class… we could have been completely separated and still feel like we were together. I knew she was near by somewhere. So though I sat in my room by myself just piddling, doing homework, or something, I never felt ALONE. Now that she is in Houston and I have my own life with work and such, I have spent many nights eating meals by myself, been shopping by myself, and have seen some movies by myself. At first this startled me. I thought something was wrong. I shouldn’t be spending so much alone time with myself! This is unhealthy! But then it hit me. This is normal. Not everyone has a twin available to them at every waking moment. Sometimes friends are busy and can’t hang out. Sometimes, you are going to do things by yourself. That’s life and there is nothing unhealthy about it.

2. You have to schedule time with friends.

Now this may sound like a no brain-er to y’all and I thought I knew this too, but when you grow up with your best friend living with you, you don’t have to do this much. I’m learning that though alone time isn’t bad, you can’t stay alone forever. We need people. I need people. I’m extrovert for crying out loud. Especially since I don’t work with anyone my age. So I have been learning to plan lunch dates, coffee dates, etc. with people. Something I always knew how to do but never did very frequently, at least by myself. I’m not used to hanging out one-on-one with people. It’s awesome but different. I’m used to having a side-kick to further conversation, save me from awkward moments, and provide a get-away scheme. I’m also used to my best friend being available at all times, which is not the case for everyone. Friendship takes time, planning, and commitment. I kind of feel like I’m building my friendships from scratch. I still hang out with my old friends but I feel like I’m a new person, a single person. And it’s different and exciting. 

3. Middle school sucks.

This one came as the biggest surprise. For all of you who don’t know, I was home schooled for my middle school years so I was able to skip out on all that awkwardness and insecurities. I entered high school with pretty high self esteem and powered through until the present day. However, I have realized that since Haley has left, my personality has shifted. I’ve become more reserved. I tend to observe my environment more before speaking and I feel more at ease. I think subconsciously I used to compete against Haley for attention, trying to help people differentiate between the two of us. I tried to cater to everyone to help them tell us apart. So much so, it became stressful and caused me to be a heightened version of myself. For you Myers-Briggs personality test peoples out there, I’m an ESFJ, however, I never really acted like the other ESFJs I knew. Now, I feel more like an ESFJ than ever! I feel like I’m discovering myself for the first time. Which is awesome, but scary. I’ve noticed I feel a little insecure in group scenarios or meeting new people because I don’t have the comfort of knowing Haley will always be there if no one enjoys my company. She’s not there to break up awkward silences or further the conversation. It’s all me baby. And I’m not entirely comfortable with the ‘realized’ me yet. I feel like I’m in middle school, trying to figure everyone out. Trying to figure myself out.

4. I am not dependent.

For years, people have been telling me that Haley and my relationship was/is unhealthy. Well folks, I have solid proof it’s not. It wasn’t unhealthy, it was just different. Just like I am having trouble figuring out how singletons relate to the world, singletons will have trouble understanding how twins relate with the world and consequently, each other. The only problem is singletons will never get to experiment. I can’t give you a twin. I can’t give you a lifetime bond with a genetic double. But you can take my twin away.

I will never think Haley and my relationship was/is unhealthy. However, I do know that we were so in sync with each other that it kept us from exploring ourselves and our worlds. I don’t NEED Haley. I don’t need to her to function. I don’t need her to socialize and I don’t need her emotionally. She doesn’t ‘complete me’ and I’m not empty without her. But she is my sister and the closest friend I have ever known. She knows me inside and out, calls me out on my crap, and laughs at life with me. She and I have history. Who wouldn’t want someone like that around?

This past month as a singleton has really given me a glimpse inside myself. I’ve given myself a lot of pep-talks and psycho-evaluations and, to be honest, I’ve been confused about a lot of it. You singletons are a different breed to be sure. But I’ve really enjoyed it. I feel like I’m living in my own Lifetime movie (the cliche one about the girl coming of age). So I’m excited to explore this world I live in from a different perspective: My own.

Dear World,

Dear World,

Dear World,

It’s been a little over a month since we’ve met. Can you believe I’ve only known the “real” you for a month? I feel like we’re getting so close. I’ve already learned so much about you! I’ve learned to decipher your exotic language, learning a whole new vocabulary. Words like Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance and Deductible. And let me tell ya, I’ve had to translate a bunch of abbreviations: PPO, PTO, HR, OM…

You’ve also been oh so generous with your letters, World. What could be better than a bill or two to remind us of the fact that we’re in this together? It’s quite thoughtful of you.

And who needs a student discount? I get such a thrill paying the premium for movie tickets, museum exhibits, and public transportation. And the best part? I’m still paying off my tuition which means I get the best of both worlds: student AND adult! I’m like a liger (or a wolphin…)!

Oh and I love the fact I’m no longer an RA. When people are super loud and annoying and causing me to lose sleep, I don’t have the authority to tell them to ‘shut up’. Who needs 6 hours of sleep, anyway?

Hopefully you read through my witty subtext, World, and have realized how stressful you can be. But, don’t worry, you’re not all that bad, just a little rough around the edges. I am, however, enjoying the fact I can do whatever I want without the cloud of homework and midterms hovering over my head, getting to decided exactly how I want to spend my time. I even have time to read for FUN and not for a grade. You should see my long (and growing) ‘To Read’ list!

I actually have access to a kitchen. A real kitchen! And though many of my peers have had this luxury for a while now, this is honestly a real treat. For a lover of food, baking, and cooking, it has been a joy to be able to prepare my meals instead of relying on the unpredictable menu of the Umphrey Lee cafeteria. Cooking has become a stress reliever, a therapeutic activity, and a way to bring happiness to my co-workers (earning me major brownie points… pun INTENDED).

The best part of all, is the fact that you’re beginning to take me seriously for the first time in my life. No more congratulatory pats on the head for being in college or pinched cheeks for making the grade. You’re starting to see me for what I can bring to the table. And let me tell ya’, I am bringing a lot. I am no longer in life’s limbo, in between child and adult. I have arrived. So watch out World, this is going to be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Ali

Wisdom for the Rat Race

Wisdom for the Rat Race

This week is the last week of my internship. The past 6 months I’ve been interning for a tenant rep who specializes in restaurants. I’ve gotten the chance to eat a lot of free foods from some really cool places around DFW, meet Top Chefs, and learn the ins and outs of real estate. My boss (whom I respectfully refer to as “the most interesting boss in the world” [see twitter hashtag]) has given me some nuggets of great advice that I think are helpful for any young adults entering the career world. So for all you soon-to-be graduates out there, here are some words of wisdom from my boss:

1. Manners are everything.

It is amazing how much a smile and a polite greeting can affect the outcome of a deal or professional relationship. Clients like to be respected and not treated like they are unimportant (ala basic customer service skills). In the tenant rep business, we tour a lot of restaurant space and deal with the stress of competition as well as the volatility of the market. Sometimes things don’t go our way, mistakes are made, and problems arise. Being humble, polite, and respectful not only sets the client at ease, but shows them you care about their business and are going to do your best to get them the best deal. People don’t not want to work with arrogant people. Prove your ability by your performance and not by your words. Say “yes ‘mam” and “yes sir” and own up to your mistakes.

2. Fake it ’till you make it. 

Sometimes, you will walk into a client meeting or lunch meeting and feel completely unprepared and incompetent. For all us soon-to-be college graduates, it can be really intimidating working with adults who have had careers longer than we’ve been alive. Just fake it. I don’t mean make up statistics and answers to questions (you should NEVER do that.). I mean fake your confidence. During my internship, my boss and I would be leaving a lunch meeting with a potential client and he would look at me and say that he was hadn’t known what to say the entire meeting. I was shocked. I had listened to the conversation at lunch mesmerized my how much the client and my boss knew about the real estate industry. After telling my boss this, he looked at me and told me that he had no doubt I could have done just as good of a job. Simply take control of the conversation and believe in yourself. As a theater kid, I look at situations like these as opportunities to play the part of the classy, competent career woman, and it surprisingly works. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in an interview and calmly answering questions while thinking to myself “HOLY CRAP! THESE ARE INSANE QUESTIONS!”. Just take a deep breath, tell yourself you can do it, and realize it is not the end of the world. Believe in yourself.

3. Prepare to be on someone else’s schedule.

The working world is never going to go exactly as you planned. If you are a business student like me, our career lives will consist of hundreds of outlook calendar reminders and e-mails. Sometimes you will be stuck on a project simple because you’re waiting on someone to return your call with the information you need. And you know what? You can’t make them get it to you any faster.  The one thing you can do is make sure you’ve got everything squared away at your end. That way, when they finally return your e-mails, you can quickly get back on schedule. With clients, you can quickly impress by getting ahead of the game on the aspects you control while waiting on them to do their part. They will be impressed by your initiative while unaware you’ve been driven crazy by their tardiness.

4. No shame in name dropping.

Seriously do it. Success is all about who you know. I can’t tell you how many times during my internship we sealed deals based on a mutual friend of my boss and the client, a frat brother of his referred us, or he had met some dude at a party. This is why being respectful to others is an important part of life (see #1). Go out, meet people, be friendly, and have fun. Don’t burn bridges and don’t be in situations where burning bridges are necessary.

5. Time kills deals. 

In the real estate world, taking things slow often kills them. People get lazy, forget, or competition sweeps in all stealthy-like and steal a space right from under you. In other work environments, you can lose the opportunity of a raise/promotion, grabbing another client, or getting a project completed by not taking an opportunity when it comes to you. You should never just wait for the heck of it. Carpe diem. Seize the day! The world may be an oyster, but if you wait to take the pearl, someone else may grab it first.