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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Suggestions for Introverts in Social Situations



This past Saturday, Jennifer and I descended on San Diego, California to take part in the ultimate fangirl experience: Comic-Con. It was amazing and wonderful and sweaty. (So much sweat was sweated.) I'm sure we will discuss its epicness for years to come.

But initially, I was worried it wouldn't be epic. I worried that I would allow my introverted tendencies to ruin the whole experience. A massive mob of annoying people? Waiting in long lines? No alone time for hours on end? This is basically my worst nightmare. (This and floating around in space like in the movie "Gravity." Funk that.) Not only that, Jennifer was staying with me in L.A. which meant even less alone time.

All socializing and no solitary confinement make Delayna a biiiiiitch.

Not wanting to ruin a friendship of nearly 15 years because I'm anti-social, I took steps to ensure I wouldn't lose my shit during the weekend of awesome.

Be honest.
This is something I've started to employ more and more so people don't think I hate them. I don't hate people. I just hate being around them for long periods of time. It's exhausting. Thankfully Jennifer is also an introvert and totally gets it.


But maybe you don't have cool friends like I do. Maybe your friends are all, "Um, why would you rather sit at home eating pizza and binge-watching 'Call the Midwife' when you could be going to da club with us?" 

That's when you gotta break it down for people: "I don't like 'da club.' I will spend every minute beforehand wishing for cramps or food poisoning or a car accident just so I can have a viable excuse not to come. In the event none of those things occur, I will stress out trying to think of a somewhat believable lie to get out of it. If I fail to do so and somehow end up at 'da club,' I will spend the entire 45 minutes I'm there looking at my phone while every molecule of my body screams, 'GET OUT OF HERE.' I equate 'da club' with medieval torture." 

Hopefully your friends understand and only invite you to low-key, low-maintenance things like brunch or the movies. (Although for me, going to the movies is pretty tortuous. Let's just do brunch.) 

Mentally prepare yourself and embrace the chaos. 
If you're extremely introverted like myself, chances are you have to mentally prepare for even the smallest of outings. Like getting the mail. Big outings, like going to a Hollywood Bowl event, aren't even on your radar because attempting such a feat is laughable.


But say you're going to Comic-Con or on vacation with a bunch of people. Mentally preparing is essential for ensuring a good time is had. Not just by you, but everyone around you. Make sure to get copious amounts of alone time beforehand if you can so you're a ray of sunshine during the event. 

Accept the fact there are going to be people in your space and that you'll have to talk to them. Staying in the moment really helps. (That means don't fantasize about your couch or think about the "Doctor Who" marathon happening on BBC America.) Find something about the moment you enjoy, and be grateful for the small miracles. A little gratitude goes a long way. (For everything in life. Remember that.) Jennifer and I had so many small, kismet moments happen for us that pushing through the large, never-ending crowds, and being hot and sweaty didn't seem like such a big deal. 

Have a post-socializing plan. 
You did it! You made it through a social event! Time to employ your post-socializing plan. Cue up your favorite show on TV, order the pizza, and get comfy on the couch. Let people know you will not be available during your "OMG, I had to be around people, and now I get to be all alone. Hooray!" time. Remembering that you'll be rewarded with time by yourself will help you get through the socializing bullshit that people think is important for being a well-rounded individual. Embrace this moment. You deserve it.

SpongeBob knows what's up.

Read more ...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How to Rock Being Single


Let me just brag about the one thing I'm good at. I'm an expert at being single. Solo. All alone. Plus zero. Captain of the couch. Ruler of the remote. Poops with the bathroom door open. That weird girl and her dog. So, when it comes to dishing out advice about being single, I'm an authority. Ya dig?

My last relationship was in December 2010. In 2009, I had just emerged from the big "D" and I don't mean Dallas or that other "D" the Internet loves to talk about. I dated a guy for six months who managed to screw me up worse than my marriage. (Some people have a gift.) So, yeah. It took a while to even think about dating after that. Not that I wasn't tempted by the random hottie (or in my case, the random awkward nerd). But, I resisted. I stayed single for many reasons.

And, you know what? It's been franking awesome!

Being single is the absolute best way to come face to face with yourself. Your flaws. Your fears. But, best of all, your strengths. If you get the chance, I highly recommend rocking the single life for a solid year. And, here's why.

You'll figure out who you are.

People get lost in a relationship. You get so caught up in the "we" that you forget about the "me." That's great when both sides of the "we" support each other. Couples tend to have shared interests, but sometimes it's just a compromise for one person. Maybe you love to party, but your sweetie is a homebody. Or, you love Nascar, but your sugarpie would rather have a root canal. Being single is a great time to find out what makes you tick when you aren't supporting someone else. What do you enjoy?

Rock It Goal: Make of list of things you've been meaning to do. Now that you have the time, focus on getting them done. You won't be thinking about being alone, and you'll be happy you're spending more time on a hobby or interest you've been neglecting.

You'll figure out what you want/don't want. 

Have you ever seen "Runaway Bride"? I know. I'm ashamed to say that I've watched it multiple times. Anyway, Julia Robert's character runs away from the alter numerous times because she's always trying to wrap her life around a man's and never figures out what she wants from a relationship. Being single is the perfect time to figure out what you want in a relationship. What did you like about your last one? What didn't you like? What do you expect from a significant other? Now is the time to really analyze what you want without someone else influencing your decision.

Rock It Goal: Make a list of all the things you want from a relationship. Sometimes it helps to think of what you don't want first and go from there. Then—brace yourselffocus on fulfilling your own needs. Don't be dependent on having someone around to do things for you. If you want your partner to be handy around the house, learn how to fix some things on your own. If you don't know how to boil water, take a cooking class. You won't believe how a little independence will boost your self-confidence and make you realize that relationships don't complete you, they enhance you.

You'll get over it. 

Don't date until you stop seeing red. You may think you're over it, but one text or email from that person can send you on a frothing, cuss-filled rampage. It's not cool to burden someone else with your baggage. You have to unpack that dirty laundry before you can take a romantic trip with someone else. (How's that for an analogy only Dr. Phil could love?)

Rock It Goal: Get therapy. Learn to let it go. Forgive the other person, and forgive yourself. This is your chance to exorcise your dating demons. Don't cheat yourself out of the time you need to really move on.

You'll make new, different memories.

Fill the void with substance, not sex. It's tempting to hop from bed to bed seeking someone to fill the empty spot left by the one before. But, that will just make you feel even worse. Most people claim to be in control and that they're "just having a good time." However, all that meaningless sex usually ends up making people feel even more lonely and dirty. (And, not dirty in a good way.) As time goes on, you'll realize the only memories you're making are filled with all the wrong people.

Rock It Goal: Try new things that don't involve romance! Take a trip with a friend. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Spend more time with your family. Challenge yourself at work. Forget about finding someone new. Focus on finding you!

You'll have fun!

Even if you're not like me, happy as a one-woman wolf pack, don't spend you time focusing on finding the next plus one. Yeah, you're single. But, trust me, it is going to be OK. You will survive. You do NOT need someone else to be happy. You really don't. And, the more you focus on what you don't have, the more miserable you'll be. You know what grandma always used to say, "It will happen when you least expect it."

Rock It Goal: Just follow Rihanna's advice and "Live ya life ... HeyAyAyAyAyAyyyy!"

Got any single tips? Leave 'em below!
Read more ...

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Deal With Rejection

There are three things I know for sure: 1) Everybody poops; 2) Cheese bagels are the most delicious;
and 3) Rejection is inevitable.

Unless you go through life doing nothing, literally nothing, you're going to be rejected a few times. Whether it's asking that cute guy/girl out on a date, or applying for a job you really, really want, or writing a blog post that you hope everyone enjoys reading, rejection is standing right next to you, ready to dance a jig of joy on the grave of your dashed hopes and dreams. Jerk.

It's enough to make someone never put themselves out there. That shit hurts. But not putting yourself out there hurts more because you pretty much end up being a lame coward who never leaves the apartment. And then one day, you'll die, but since you were lame and never made any friends or anything, people won't know until your body starts to smell from the decomposition, and your corpse will be found with cats eating your face off. I mean ... who wants that?

Having the tools to deal with rejection in a healthy way gives you the power to gather yourself up and put yourself out there again and again. (And when Rejection tries to dance that jig of joy, you can roll your eyes, and walk away. No joy for you, Rejection!)

Don't take it personally. 
This is probably the most important thing to remember when someone rejects you or your ideas: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Seriously. I get you're the star in your life, but to everyone else, you're a bit player. Sometimes you're someone's co-star, but most of the time, you're an extra. People see the world through their own realities which aren't really concerned with your feelings because it's all about them. That girl you asked out who turned you down? It had nothing to do with you, and it doesn't mean all girls are bitches. Maybe she doesn't want to date anyone right now, or maybe you're just not her type. That doesn't mean you suck, it just means there's someone else out there who thinks you're perfect. So stop wasting time putting yourself down, or calling her names, and get on with your life.

Oh, you wrote a book and someone gave you a one star review on Amazon? So what? Art is subjective. Not everyone is going to love what you write. If you want to make something that the entire world will adore, you won't make anything. Be proud of the fact you did something, and had the courage to put it out there for the world's enjoyment/disdain. As long as you're proud of it, that's all that matters.

Learn from it. 
It's all about perspective. You can either dwell in the negative (They didn't hire me. I suck. I'll never get a job.), or use every opportunity as a lesson to improve yourself. If you went in for a job interview but didn't get hired, ask yourself if you did your absolute best. This is hard because you have to get real honest with yourself. Don't victimize yourself in the situation. (The room was too cold. The guy didn't look at me. Nothing is my fault. OMG, shut up.) Were you well-prepared? Did you answer questions confidently or stammer through them? If you can, ask the interviewer what they thought you could have done better. Sometimes it's just a matter of you not being a good fit. Think of this as good practice for the next one. Either way, shake it off and believe that a better opportunity is out there waiting for you.

Do something you enjoy. 
Rejection is always going to sting. And the more emotionally invested you are, the bigger the ouch. Even though you may be feeling awful and disgusting and undesirable, you should do something that brings you real joy. Maybe that's re-watching old episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" while eating your favorite pizza, or getting together with your besties who are fantastic at finding the humor in any situation, or going on a nice hike or getting a professional massage. Whatever it is, now's the time to do it. Get yourself back on track and realize that life isn't over because of this one little setback. It keeps going, so you may as well enjoy it.

What you shouldn't do. 
First of all, don't go on social media and throw a temper tantrum. Nobody likes that. You may think it'll get you sympathy, but most people will see you as whiny and crazy and will delight in the feeling of schadenfreude you give them. (Thanks for that.) Post a cat video instead. Everyone agrees those are the best.

Don't let it determine your future. If you decide you're a loser, then it's like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You'll be setting yourself up for disaster every time which will create a cycle of suckage which will then probably create a black hole which will then destroy the world. Please don't do that.

You can bounce back from rejection. As long as you're doing your best, forget the rest. (P90X-ers know what I'm talking about.) When Rejection tries to knock you down, keep getting up because one day it's going to go your way. One day, you'll get to dance a jig of joy on Rejection's grave. That special person will say yes, you'll get that dream job, you'll rule the world! (After me. I'm going to rule the world first.)

What was your worst rejection experience? How did you deal with it? 
Read more ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to NOT be a Complete Asshole



“Weird Al” Yankovic released two new parody videos from his new album "Mandatory Fun," and there is a clear theme: People are ignorant and tacky. Of course, part of Al's charm is that he delivers this message in such a hilarious way that the guilty parties have to laugh at their own horrendous behavior. His newest release, is "Word Crimes," a parody of Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines." (It's wonderful. A must-see for all the writers and grammar junkies out there.) Al's other video, "Tacky," left me gently caressing my computer screen as fondly as I would touch Ryan Reynold's abdomen while whispering, "Thank you so much." "Tacky" is a parody of Parody of Pharrell's "Happy" and highlights a variety of ways that people are ... well ... tacky.

Some of the more crass examples in "Tacky" include:
  • Making other people pay for things
  • Never letting someone forget a favor you did for them
  • Name dropping
  • Threatening to write a bad Yelp review
  • Live tweeting a funeral, taking selfies with the deceased
  • Getting bitten by a zombie and not telling anyone (So wrong!)

Combine these two new videos with another song from his album, "First World Problems" and it seems like even Al is noticing a rise in obnoxious behavior lately. (Or, maybe I'm just projecting.) But, I think Al is putting it mildly. In fact, I'd say that there's a huge rise in the number of assholes out there. Think I'm being too harsh? Hear me out.

Many things could make you an asshole for a few minutes. You cut off someone in traffic. You entered a bathroom with multiple empty stalls then used the one right next to the only person in there. You waited until your little sister left the room, then took her spot on the couch and changed the channel. (You know who you are!) Thankfully, most people return to being a generally nice human being after their brief lapse in decorum.

However, some bad deeds are indicators of a deep-seated, asshole personality complex. (See also: Kanyeast Infection.) In order to achieve full asshole status, a person would need to embody one or more of the following characteristics. 

Entitled

Want to know the difference between someone with class and an entitled asshole? A classy person may believe they deserve better, but they'll never openly complain about it. An entitled asshole will air their complaints and drama for all the world to see, never realizing that it makes them look like a complete screeching jackass.

"A Grandmaster doesn’t say he’s a Grandmaster.
Other people say it for him."
(Photo courtesy of Humans of New York.)
Have you heard about Humans of New York? It's a wonderful website that features photos of people in New York combined with thought-provoking quotes from the subject. This picture (to the right) popped up on my feed the other day, and it really struck a chord.

Someone should tell Kanye about the whole "let other people say you're great" thing.

More to the point, we are all made of the same stuff. According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, we are all made up of the same material used to create the universe. (How freaking cool is that?) Some people may make more money, have more power, or look more visually pleasing than others, but that does not make them more entitled to any special treatment. There are actual, real-life heroes who have earned the right to a little special treatment who are far more humble and gracious than most materialistic, elitist social climbers.

So, stop being an asshole and realize that nothing in life is guaranteed. You may believe that you deserve better, but that doesn't mean that it's going to happen. 

Self-centered

We are all self-centered to an extent. It's human nature. A sort of innate survival mechanism. We have to look out for numero uno. But, aren't we better than animals? I mean, that's why humans are supposed to have more advanced brains, right? So, when you hijack plans, make decisions that inconvenience others, or bully everyone into submission, you are making a conscious choice to be a self-centered asshole. Don't do that. No one likes that.

Lacking Empathy 

Speaking of being self-centered, there is a whole subset of self-centered assholes who also lack the ability to empathize with other people. They are completely incapable of seeing how their actions affect others and then imagining how they would feel if someone behaved the same way towards them.

You know? Like that time that Darth Vader tells Luke, "I am your father," and then tries to convince Luke to join him in murdering the Emperor. Did Darth Vader really think that Luke was going to say, "Wait ... you're my father? That changes everything. I'm totally evil now. Bump the rebellion! Let's be evil dictators together!" Serious lack of empathy there, Asshole Vader.

Ungrateful

I'm going to be brutally honest here. Stop complaining about every little thing that goes wrong in your life. No one cares. Not even your mom. You want to know why? We all have problems. Some bigger than others. Your cold meal may seem like a big deal to you, but to many, many others, it just sounds like another "first world problem." Be grateful you can afford to eat out. Be grateful that you have food in your belly at all. And, like Al suggested, don't threaten the waiter with a bad Yelp review. That's what assholes do.

Lacking Perspective

As the old saying goes, "Shit happens." But, that shit doesn't have to rule your life. In the moment, when the DVR ate your recording of "Real Housewives of Vapidville," you may be tempted to throw your Cabernet Sauvignon at your 42-inch plasma TV and send a scathing tweet to your local high-speed internet and cable provider about how your evening is completely ruined. Don't. Just don't. You're about to look like a raging asshole. Trust me. I'm just trying to help.

There are times when taking your issues to social media to complain about a product or service is warranted. Maybe you want to make sure others know about bad business practices so that they can be informed consumers. Very thoughtful! But, maybe you should give the company a chance to fix your problem before you go all drunk Reese Witherspoon on them. "Do you know my name?!"

A while back, my friend and co-author of this site, Delayna, had a situation that warranted social shaming. I won't go into the details, but as it turns out, she wasn't the only one with the same complaint. And, guess what? That company is now going out of business. Queen Karma rules!

So, the next time life hands you a lemon, try to gain a little perspective. 

Couldn't buy backstage passes to see your favorite band? At least you still got to see the show. Significant other flaked on your anniversary? Think about all the times they don't flub up. Favorite piece of gym equipment is being hogged by some sweat-covered guy with shoulder hair? At least you aren't married to him!

Don't be an asshole. Remember ... It can always be worse!
Read more ...

Friday, July 11, 2014

5 Self-Help Books That Will Change Your Life


I love self-help books. It all started when the goddess that is Oprah recommended "A New Earth" as one of her book club selections. Since then, I've actively sought and devoured any book that promises to change my life in some way. Self-help books aren't for everyone. Some people are just born enlightened, and that's great. Weird, but great! However, some people, like me, need it spelled out in black and white. Which is why I read all these books (and then some). These are the ones that resonated the most with me. I think because in all these books the authors each struggled to get through their own personal Hell, and when they came out the other side, they had learned universal truths that we should all recognize in order to live a happier life and they wanted to share them. It's possible to shift your perspective. If you're willing to learn.

"A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle 
If you're gonna take the plunge into the self-help book world, I suggest starting with the best. This was the one I started with, and it completely changed my life. With words of wisdom like:

"Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are." 

Basically what Tolle is trying to teach us is that we aren't the constant babbling voice in our head. We're the silence surrounding that voice. You need to make a habit of telling that bitchy, whiny ego voice to: 


I'm sure some of you are saying, "Of course I'm that voice. What else would I be?" You just ARE. Duh. That voice is just telling you a story it made up to suit its needs. You don't have to believe it. You don't even have to listen. When you start to ignore the ego, it has an epic bitch fit. It takes practice to let go. And if you're like me, you'll even fall off the wagon. (Easy to do when you live in L.A.) But that shift in perspective is worth it. You'll feel lighter and more at peace than you ever have. Read the book. ("The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle is also wonderful. Read that one too.) 

"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz
If you're short on time and want the CliffsNotes to enlightenment, "The Four Agreements" is a good place to start. It's only 100 pages. Still too much? Fine. I'll just tell you the four agreements you should abide by for a better life. 
  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word 
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally
  3. Don't Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best
They sound simple, but they're difficult in reality. Gossiping, assuming the worst, getting easily offended and half-assing our way through the world is part of the human condition. Read the book and be better than that.

"The War of  Art" by Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield wrote "The Legend of Bagger Vance." I know! Super successful writer! But he only wrote that after struggling with writing, even becoming homeless at one point. "The War of Art" perfectly and succinctly explains why we struggle to "put our ass where our heart is." You wanna know why? 

Resistance. 

It doesn't matter if you're not a writer, this book will open your eyes as to why you aren't doing what you really want to be doing. (Although as a writer I was like, "OMG, you are talking to ME, aren't you?!") My absolute favorite quote from the book is: 

"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within is. Between the two stands resistance." 

RIGHT?! It's so true! And it can refer to anything: writing, painting, losing weight, meditating, anything you feel is part of who you're meant to be. We resist it. This is also a quick read at only 163 pages, so do yourself a favor and download it to your reading device. 

"The Nerdist Way" by Chris Hardwick 
Do you prefer your self-help books to come with references to Harry Potter, Doctor Who, X-Men, Star Wars, Star Trek and other things that I hadn't heard of but knew if the Hardmeister was mentioning them, they were awesome? Then this is the book for you. If you don't know who Chris Hardwick is or are unfamiliar with any of the nerdtastic things I just mentioned...I mean...how are you even alive right now? 

Hardwick, in his smart, funny, adorable way, lays out how he changed his life, going from fat alcoholic to hot entrepreneur. There are chapters like, "RPG Your Life," "Doctor Xaviering Your Mind," and "Become an Evil Genius." It's straightforward and inspiring, not to mention nerdy as hell. All my favorite things! Read this book and you're guaranteed: 


"You Are a Badass" by Jen Sincero
In an effort to better myself, I downloaded this book from Audible so I could listen to it while driving to and from work. From the very moment the author, Sincero, started speaking, I knew this was the book I had been waiting for. She takes everything I've learned from the previous four I books I've mentioned, and puts it in a way that feels like she knows everything about me and my life and is trying to kick my ass into being the best me ever. F bombs are dropped on the regular and while she's a total hardass, she's funny too. I love it. I'm so enthralled while driving that I rarely call people the "c word" anymore. Even when they do something dumb like drive 20 miles per hour. It's amazing! What's more amazing is that I can feel my perspective shifting again which hasn't happened since I read "A New Earth." 

Maybe you still aren't convinced, and that's fine. Like I said, they aren't for everyone. But if you're feeling just a teensy bit like you aren't happy with yourself and would like to change but don't know where to start, it couldn't hurt to read at least one of these fabulous books. 

Do you read self-help books? Which one is your favorite? 
Read more ...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How To Let Go of Anger


Humans aren't born with meanness and intolerance in them. Have you ever met a mean baby? I haven't. (Fictional, demonic babies not included.) No ... meanness is learned. Intolerance is learned. We learn it by watching those around us. We learn that sometimes being mean gets us what we want. Or, maybe being mean to someone makes us feel better about our the things we hate within our own lives.

Then, there are the times that you are mean to people who ... well, dang it ... they just deserve it. Karma has a long list of people she's taking care of, and you're just trying to help ease the load. It's highly possible that some people really do deserve a little DIY justice. Perhaps they even deserve the full brunt of a Karmic shit torpedo. But, here's what you have to ask yourself: How does it make you feel to stoop to their level? How does your soul feel after you've leveraged the full power of your sword of justice?

It probably feels like being a Fifty Shades of Grey fan. All dirty and lacking standards.

Moving past your intolerance and anger is not an easy task. So many emotions are tied up in trying to control a situation or, more often, a person. You want the world wrapped up with a pretty bow. You're tired of things being unfair and you want to force that square peg in the round hole until it fits. But, you will never find your own peace if you try to live that way.

You need to take Elsa's advice and "let it go."

Wow, Elsa. You look ... different.

Step 1 - Feel your feelings.

That sounds a bit naughty doesn't it?  I swear, it's consensual. They want you to feel them. They like it. Anyway ... You're angry and you probably have a right to be. So, be angry. Be really, franking angry. Scream into a pillow. Drop kick some stuffed animals. Take a kickboxing class and visualize their face on the bag. Get all the GRRR out.

Step 2 - Don't let it own you.

There's a quote (I'm not sure where it came from) that says, "Being angry at someone gives that person power over your." Or something like that. It's true. They are in your head whether you like it or not. And, I'm guessing that if you're angry at them, it's because they hurt you in some way, and you probably don't want them having any power over you at all. Right? So, once you've felt your feelings, you need to get back in control.

Step 3 - Evaluate.

This step is the hardest. It requires a lot of truthful introspection. You need to really analyze whatever made you angry and why. You're also going to need to think about it from the viewpoint of the other person—you know, the jerk you'd like to flick in the eyeball. You may think they did it on purpose, but is there a possibility that they didn't know their behavior upset you? You are going to need to figure out if what you're mad at is something they can change, or if it's just who they are as a person. (See our post about acceptance if you need help with this.)

Step 4 - Adapt or Confront.

Once you've accomplished Step 3, you have two options.

Option A - If the problem is an innate feature in the personality of the source of your anger, then you are going to need to adapt to the situation. This means you either need to find a way to not let it bother you in the future. This means you may need to anticipate this behavior and deal with it before it happens. Or, you may need to just eject this person from your life.

Option B - If you believe the person made a mistake (or a purposeful error in judgement) that isn't part of their normal behavior, you can confront them. (Here are some tips on the Dos and Don'ts of Confrontations.) If they value your relationship and feelings, they should want to resolve the situation peacefully.

Step 5 - Leave it in the past.

OK. I lied. This is the hardest step. Once you've resolved the situation (adapted, confronted or ejected), you need to leave it in the past. I'm not saying you forget what happened or the lesson you learned from it. But, you can't bring it up every time the same person makes a mistake. If you still feel angry when you think about what they did, then you need to go back to Step 1 and start over. And, if you can't let it go, then you need to realize that you are now the problem.


Anger will eat you up inside. Buddha supposedly said that "Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." I like that. Here's another one courtesy of yours truly.

Holding on to anger is like holding on to an anchor and jumping into the sea. If you don't let it go, you'll drown.

Read more ...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Follow Your Dreams




I remember the first time I put fear to the side and went after something I really really wanted. I was 17 years old, about to finish my junior year of high school, and I was trying out to be the drum major for my school's marching band. I realize that doesn't sound too scary, but as my band director put it at the time, I was the "dark horse" trying out. I've always been a quiet, reserved person with a small voice and drum majors are the complete opposite. They're the leaders of the band, the commanding authority as they bark out orders like, "BAND, HORNS UP!" No one thought I was capable. Not even my best friend at the time. But, I knew I could do it. I had been saying since freshman year that I was going to be drum major my senior year. So one spring afternoon, I put all my fear to the side, and tried out.

And guess what?

I got it. I even won a trophy for best drum major in a competition in Montreal. In your face, doubters!

Imagine my surprise when I had to face my fears AGAIN to pursue my dream of becoming a screenwriter. Say whaaa? Wasn't once enough? Shouldn't I be rewarded over and over for that one time when I went for something seemingly impossible? Apparently not.

Fast forward to my 29th year of living in this multiverse. I was broke, sad, and hated life in general. Every time I crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on my way to work, I would have morbid fantasies of getting into a horrible accident that would send my car careening off the bridge and into the bay. I wasn't suicidal. I was genuinely afraid of dying in some crash that would leave me enough time to think, "What a waste. I should have ____." The blank was a lot of things: Moved to Los Angeles. Become a famous writer. Worn tiaras more.

One day, the pain of not going for my dreams became way more painful than continuing what I was doing. I clearly saw two paths in front of me: One was clear and sunshiney...and excruciatingly dull. I would probably eventually meet someone, get married, be pressured into having babies, and continue working unfulfilling jobs just to make ends meet. The other was completely dark. I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. "That's the one!" I thought as I started my journey into the unknown.

Even though I was thousands of dollars in debt, I quit my job of seven years working as a lab technician. I either sold or gave away nearly everything I owned, only keeping what could fit into my Hyundai Elantra. Then I moved back in with my parents with the plan that I would get a menial job to save some money to move to Los Angeles which is where I would begin my career of becoming a famous writer. Easy peasy, mac 'n cheesy, right?

WRONG.

Did you know no one wants to hire you as a waitress if you have too much experience, not to mention a college education? It's true! I still had bills to pay, so once my meager funds dwindled to nothing, I took out the money from my 401(k). (Don't tell Suze Orman, please!) I spent hours scouring the Internet for jobs, both in Charlottesville, VA and Los Angeles. Nothing panned out. My 30th birthday in December was depressing. I didn't come out of my room. What was there to celebrate? I was living at home and broke and couldn't even get a job as a cashier. Lame!

Despite all of the setback, I never once felt like I had done the wrong thing. There was a certainty I felt in my gut that was so strong, it kept me from giving up hope. It also said, "April." I felt for sure I would be in Los Angeles by April. There was nothing happening to suggest this would happen, but I knew it. It's hard to explain if you've never had an intuitive feeling before. You just know.

During my months at home, I started spending a lot of time on Twitter. I had nothing else to do with my time, so I thought, "may as well tell some jokes to the masses!" I gained a very small following and even got a producer from one of my favorite TV shows to follow me! Twitter pretty much became my life for a good 7 months while I was unemployed.

Then one magical, January day, my dad came to my room and told me we had to talk. Ugh, those words sound ominous no matter who's delivering them. I followed him to the kitchen thinking my parents were totally about to kick me out of the house. (Which would be reasonable seeing as though I was 30 years old and perfectly capable of making rational decisions like quitting my stable job to pursue something hardly anyone ever succeeds at.)

But they weren't kicking me out. They were going to give me money to move to Los Angeles. But not until the end of March or beginning of April. OMG, my intuition was right! I would be in L.A. by April! Also, can we just say, best parents ever? Any success I achieve would not be possible without their continued support.

Fast forward to my dad leaving me in my small, studio apartment in Los Angeles. I cannot tell you what a culture shock it is going from rural Virginia to sprawling L.A. Everything was scary. I couldn't parallel park. And I don't care what Cher says, EVERYWHERE YOU GO DOESN'T HAVE VALET! There were many tears. Many, many tears. The "what the f**k did I just do?!" finally came. I had no job. Had no idea how to navigate the city. Didn't even want to leave my apartment because it was scary out there!

Thank goodness for my friend, Katy, and her husband, Stew. They coaxed me out of my hole and out into the world. And guess what? L.A. was not so scary. In fact, I loved it. Sunshine and palm trees and celebrities, oh my! But still no job.

Even though I had a degree in Environmental Science and loads of lab experience, I did not just upend my life to go back to that. I wanted to work in the entertainment industry, and dammit, that's what I was going to do. But how? It's all about who you know, they say, and I didn't know anyone. Well, except for that Family Guy/American Dad producer on Twitter. But I couldn't just ask her for a job...could I?

No.

Yes.

NO.

I HAVE NO MONEY, SO YES.

I was scared of direct messaging her. What if she blocked me? What if she laughed at me? Or worse, what if she didn't respond at all? My 17-year-old self who had tried out for drum major so many years ago, came out and said, "Who cares?! If you don't try, you won't know. DUH. Just do it and stop whining and over thinking. Gah!"

Fiiiine. So I direct messaged the producer, feeling like I was going to puke the entire time. The next morning I got a direct message back:

"Sure! Send me your resume."

OMG. OMG OMG OMG!!! I sent her my resume in an email where I tried to be both funny, but also very sincere about how badly I wanted to work on one of my favorite shows and was totally willing to start from the bottom.

Let's fast forward through all the junk again, shall we? To try and make a long story short, I'm currently working on American Dad. I've been working here for 3 years, having gotten the job just two months after moving to L.A. I mean, it's like a freaking Cinderella story. I used to watch the behind the scenes extras of Family Guy DVD's wishing I could work here. And now I am! I'm part of it!

But now I'm being forced to face my fears again. I've gotten complacent and lazy in pursuing my dream of being a famous writer. So here we go again. This year I'm going to put my work out there. I have to. I didn't come all this way to wuss out now.

So here's my advice: stop making excuses of why you can't. Sure, you're dirt poor. Sure, you have "obligations." Sure, people will tell you every reason why you can't or shouldn't. Sure. But you only have this one chance at life. Why would you spend it being miserable when you can make it magical? Realize that you have power over your life. You can shape it any way you want.

Trust me. If I can do it, you can do it.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Welcome to the New Poor Excuses!

We're back from our brief hiatus!

After a year of sharing stories of liars and lies and deceptions and fibbing (there sure are a lot of words for "lies"), we realized what we were really trying to do was inspire people to be their best selves. And that's not just confronting a liar in your life. It's overcoming any sort of difficult situation and saying, "No more poor excuses! I'm ready to change, so let's do this thang!"

If you've ever gone after a dream, ended a difficult relationship, given up a vice like smoking or drugs, lost weight, did something despite everyone saying you would fail, etc., that's a time when you stopped making excuses and started making changes, and we want to hear your story! People are inspired by other people's achievements, so let's inspire those who need it!

It's like what Joseph Campbell said: "A vital person vitalizes." When you change yourself, you change the world.

Tell us how you're changing the world.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We're Going on a Brief Hiatus!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled posts to bring you this special news report:

Poor EXcuses.com will be going through a bit of a makeover as we revamp our site and revise our goals.

On July 1st, we'll reveal our new look, so get excited! Until then, now's a great time to get all caught up on the posts you may have missed. There's lots of good stuff to take your mind off work or remembering it's bathing suit season.

We appreciate the support you all have given us in the past year, and we're excited to bring you more awesome in the coming one.

Thank you!

Delayna and Jennifer
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Friday, June 20, 2014

What You Can Learn from the Jerk at Work


I've worked with some crazies in my time. Seriously, I've worked with mentally unstable people who were on medication for their issues. So, when I say crazy, I mean they were actually, legitimately crazy. I once shared an office space with a lady who was on one medication to help her stay focused and alert and then another medication to counteract the paranoia that was a side effect of the first medication. In addition to that, she told me that she "used to" have a cocaine problem.

Let me tell you a funny story about this lady. Not funny "ha-ha," funny "someone pass me a straightjacket and some horse tranquilizer." So, one day I had a meeting with a coworker at my desk. I didn't know this, but a few weeks prior to this meeting, he and my crazy coworker had a disagreement. (Any disagreement for her was a massive blowout, so I'm really surprised I hadn't heard about it.) Anyway, he came over to discuss a project we were working on together. She was sitting there nearly the whole time and heard every word we said. He made some changes to something I was writing for him, we joked about his inability to eat green foods, then he left. That afternoon, I got an email from the crazy coworker, which was hilarious to me because we shared the same office space and she was sitting just five feet behind me when she hit send.

The email was, at best, an incoherent rant about how offended she was that we talked about her and how when she got up and walked by us, we exchanged "a look" that she knew was about her. I couldn't help it. I started laughing. I turned around and asked her, "Are you serious about this email?" I really thought it was a joke. She started screaming at me like she was auditioning to be on "Maury." I had no idea what to say to calm her down, so I just sat there with my mouth hanging open and let her fizzle out. She stormed out, and I was left sitting there wondering if she was actually living in a parallel universe (or, maybe I was). Turns out she sent the same email to our mutual boss who basically told her that it was all in her head. After that, the crazy coworker didn't speak to me for weeks, which was actually a good thing.

Lately, it seems like I've been hearing tons of "horror stories" about awful coworkers or supervisors. They even made a movie called "Horrible Bosses" on this very subject. (I haven't seen it, so don't ask me how it was.) Despite wanting to gouge your eyes out with paperclips, there's a lot you can learn from these work jerks.

Toot your own horn.

Work jerks aren't afraid to brag. In fact, that's usually the one thing they actually have a right to brag about. They should brag about being fantastic braggers. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who just try to let their work speak for itself and hope that their efforts are noticed. It's OK to speak up about your accomplishments. You worked hard for them. Maybe don't take it as far as the annoying braggers. But, when it comes time to ask for a promotion or review, make sure you have your brag folder of accomplishments handy.

It's OK to say "no" sometimes.

Many times, workers have this guilt complex about admitting they are overloaded or under-qualified to do a task. Work jerks have no problem saying "no." In fact, they say "no" to things that are in their job description because they just don't feel like it. It's amazing that these people don't get fired sooner, if ever. Take a page out of their book the next time you are asked to do something that you don't have time to do or you don't know how to do. Maybe don't say the word "no." But, don't be afraid to tell your supervisor that you are overloaded or you don't know how to do something. A good leader will appreciate your honesty.

Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

Supposedly, the meek are going to inherit the Earth. That's awesome. In the meantime, the non-meekers are doing whatever they want because they don't stop to ask for permission. If they do something wrong, they just say, "Oops!" and move on with a little slap on the wrist (if that!). If there is something you want to accomplish at work and people are just getting in your way, maybe you should just take charge and get it done without approval. You may get a slap on the wrist, or maybe, just maybe, you'll get a pat on the back.

Stand up for what you believe in.

Work jerks are a mouthy bunch. They've got their noses in everything and opinions on it all. You're going to know what they think whether you like it or not. Obviously, that's very irritating. But, when something is happening that you don't agree with or are offended by it, don't hesitate to calmly and logically approach the appropriate person and speak your mind. 

If you see something, say something.

This one goes out to all the leaders and managers out there. Work jerks aren't afraid to speak their mind ... even if it causes a scene. So many managers just ignore awful employees who are bringing down workplace morale. If you see other work jerks doing something they shouldn't be doing, say something to them. Don't be afraid to have the hard conversation. You're a leader for a reason. So, lead!

Demand respect.

Work jerks might not have your respect, but they certainly have your fear. Most people are afraid to challenge the work jerks because it's just easier to work around them. They are pushy, mouthy, emotional and used to getting what they want. What can you learn from that? You can make sure that you are as determined as they are pushy, eloquent as they are mouthy, and as logical as they are emotional. You still may not get what you want in the end, but you will garner more respect with your behavior.

What not to do.

If your work jerk is just plain crazy, like my crazy coworker was, then the only lesson you may be able to learn from them is what NOT to do. In the end, that's a pretty great lesson to learn.


Want a laugh? Misaplas created a very funny series of graphics about the various kinds of "work wankers." Scroll and giggle to your heart's content.

What have you learned from your work jerks? Let us know what we missed!



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