Don’t stalk your ex on Venmo

Hello again! Just another prideful article from Katherine M. Blanner about breakups.

There’s really not much worse than a breakup. You’re facing the true heartache, the truest form of rejection, and the absolute tragedy that is ending things with a long-term significant other.

Here’s my gift to you… an article about how you have to survive breakups. It’s like a virtual breakup care package.

  1. Change something about yourself. The past is dead, and so is that version of you. Get a haircut, dye your hair, get a new wardrobe. Whatever. Do that one thing that you told your ex about in confidence that they rejected. Be modest, though. If you go too crazy, you’ll look crazy.
  2. Make a breakup playlist. Find solace in songs. My favorite is this: 
  1. Do NOT stalk your ex on anything… If things went south, it might be a great idea to actually block them on a lot of stuff. I’m talking Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Venmo if you have to. Don’t revisit the past. Revisiting that situation is like smoking cigarettes when you’re already on chemo for lung cancer. It’s… bad. 
  2. Delete all your Snapchat memories. Delete their pictures in your phone. If you’re uncomfortable with that, upload them to your computer in a secret, password protected folder. Don’t open it. 
  3. Remember you’re goddamn gorgeous because you need to know that again.
  4. Find a new hobby. 
  5. Rekindle all the friendships you lost because of the attention and time your manchild needed. They’ll probably be forgiving to you, because they have had gross boyfriends, too. Plus it also helps that they all hated him from day one but were too polite to tell you.
  6. Forgive him, forgive that situation, and forgive that part of your life.
  7. Make sure that, even if you can’t fully forgive them, that you take steps to find your own inner peace.
  8. Let yourself feel things again.

These are just some ideas that I have compiled over the years. What’s your go-to breakup coping?

Why I’m scared of where social media is taking us

I got Facebook in the spring of 2011. I was a freshman in high school. The days of MySpace had just died, and the livelihood of Facebook status updates comprised entirely of song lyrics among my social media network of friends was particularly relevant.

At the age of fourteen, I understood social media as an easy way to update people on the important happenings of your life. Now, at the age of twenty-three, I can see social media is digressing and feeding our newfound need for immediate gratification in the form of widespread social acceptance and the hope of free things (by way of becoming an influencer) and fame.

Social media has become this invisible goal of attaining more attention, this smoke and mirrors illusion that leaves us empty and unfulfilled until the next big thing takes place. Instagram gives us the illusion that our daily lives are important. It allows us to compare ourselves against the curated images that people portray themselves as.

Social media is not inherently bad. It’s a great way to catch up with people, share hilarious memes, and maintain healthy long-term friendships and relationships in a convenient medium. However, the way that people use it, the way that we use it, and the nature of the circumstances, breed fears of inequities among each of us as we are being influenced by ideas that were never fully true, to begin with.

I am genuinely scared of where our generations will take social media, influencer marketing, and the destructive comparative nature of virtual one-upping people.

The only way to fix that potential nightmare is to have wholesome social media with the collective mindset that projection does not always equate to reality. Comparison is the thief of joy. Continue sharing memes and everything will be alright, right? *subdued monotone anxious screaming* (always make sure to credit your meme makers)

In defense of my English major

“yOu’Re nEvEr gOnNa fInD a jOb iN eNglIsh” is one of the things that I heard constantly when I decided to major in English writing. Well, they’re right… and they’re also wrong.

 

It all began

At the ripe old age of seventeen, I was being continuously bombarded with the question from insolent adults who had no idea how to make casual conversation with a teenager… “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My anxiety filled predisposition only glared back and simply stated that I was waiting until I was in college to declare a major or even a professional choice.

So really it all began when teachers would give me good grades on papers that I wrote, and were constantly gushing over my writing style. I mean, I figured my writing was passable. Were the other kids in my class really all terrible writers that mine shone forth as some shining beacon of understanding sentence structure and clear conveyance of ideas? Guess so. High schoolers really suck at writing, myself included.

The moderate praise inflated my ego, as it tends to do. We can see other obvious examples of this simply by the fact that I am writing blogs to get imaginary cool points on the Interwebs.

I seethed in that mild ego boost for a number of years.

The next chapter

So when it came time to declare my degree in college, I chose English writing and business communication. I chose English because I liked it. There is really nothing more cathartic for me than writing my unfiltered thoughts out on paper with a Pilot Pen G2 0.07 (not sponsored, but Pilot please do sponsor me). I don’t have a lot of reason for declaring my degree, other than the fact that I liked it. I mean, I really like reading and writing.

Why I majored in English

I had been an avid reader from the time that I was a child, even up until now. No book is too small for me to read, although there are many a novel that is incessantly boring. However, I found so much happiness in the fact that I could empathize with characters and live their fictionalized lives, gaining experiences I never thought I could have.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (the books, you plebian) let me live in New York as royalty. Great Expectations by Charles Dickes taught me the mystifying glamour of crying all the time. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein taught me that creating life is kind of a bad idea. Jane Austen’s characters taught me it was okay to be bad at flirting and incredibly awkward. Anything by the Bronte sisters taught me that death or banishment is really just a state of being, not actually a punishment.

A major in English pairs well with other degrees

I mean, an English major is a really time-consuming thing to get. While it’s not like a degree in the sciences that has a huge emphasis on memorization of massive amounts of information, it does require a lot of brain power to cohesively synthesize ideas and research in a fun way. Like I’ve said before, it paired well with my business communication degree, especially because the two go together well professionally. A friend of mine majored in economics and English, and now he’s in law school. Proof it works, I guess.

The fact that I can write and read good has served me well professionally

I inappropriately used “good” was to be humorous, and now I realize that it was ultimately a bad decision. While I have never been able to find a lucrative and moral job where I would just be writing, the ability to write is what has proven to set me apart in the job market, at least a little bit.

That being said, some insights I have had after job hunts is that the ability to string words together is apparently rare. After getting hired in my current position, my boss stated: “You were the only applicant that could construct a cohesive paragraph” or something to that extent. And if you were wondering, yes, I will be riding the high of that mild compliment until at least 2025.

If you liked this article and find it endearing, and want to see more articles like this, consider donating to my paypal link. Time is money and money is time so consider giving me both because you think I’m fun to laugh at. But only if you want to. https://paypal.me/katherinemblanner

Stop telling death jokes. Seriously, I mean it.

Congratulations! You have reached the fourth (?) article in the series of  “I Have No Idea What I’m Talking About, But I Don’t Care.” The year is 2019, and I figure it’s about time that we all collectively stop trying to “end the stigma” that surrounds mental health and start improving mental wellbeing for ourselves. The ideas in this article may seem a bit like tough love, but they are not meant to harm, offend, or hurt anyone’s feelings.

Here are some tips to improve your mental health in 2019:

Stop saying you want to die all the time

Seriously, though. I hear so many people talk about wanting to be dead, wanting to die, and just genuinely complaining about their lives. Cut it out. Sure it’s a fun joke and gimmick to have to complain about how awful everything is. But that can have pretty detrimental results on your mental wellbeing.

Why? The illusory truth effect. It is the idea of repeating something over and over again, and before you know it, you start to believe it. I learned about it in psychology when I was in high school. Repeating death jokes can sometimes trick the brain into not thinking it’s just a funny joke anymore. Of course, this is not everyone’s experience, and these jokes are funny in the right context. However, try to understand the potential gravity and toll these jokes are taking on your life.

Replace the “I want to die” phrases with a “What can I learn from this?” or “How can I grow from this?” types of questions when something difficult is remaining prevalent in your life.

Instead of telling death jokes, bite your tongue and count your blessings.

If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it

Yes, Marie is right on a lot of fronts. If it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it. Get rid of those Instagram accounts that you follow because you tell yourself you want to “get cool ideas” or support a fellow friend or artist, but sometimes those things can have a weirdly negative toll on mental wellbeing. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to someone’s fictitious life on Instagram, get rid of it. If there is a toxic influence in your life, try to scale back that presence or power in a gentle way.

The same goes for things…. Just…. watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. You won’t regret it.

Stop listening to depressing music

This is a pretty easy step to take in improving your mental health. Here ya go, I made you a playlist. Please enjoy it. It’s called “Get Effing Happy” for… obvious reasons. It’s a good playlist of oldies and newbies that sound upbeat and cheery.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1212957884/playlist/7EWtzNOQzvUdMctP8pbI7r

Focus on the positive

Every day, try to list 3 things you’re grateful for. If you can’t list any moments of gratitude, start listing things you learned. If you didn’t learn anything, well… figure something out. List three things that are positive.

Do that thing you’ve been wanting to do (within reason, of course)

If you wanted to start that new podcast, go for it. If you want to start writing a screenplay, why the hell haven’t you started yet? If you want to start a Nerf intramural sports league, you really should do that. It sounds really cool. Write those poems you’ve been too nervous to put on paper.

Consult a professional

Seriously, there is nothing better that you can do for yourself. Finding a therapist, either a professional psychologist or psychiatrist is well worth the money. There is nothing to be ashamed of in going to one. Everyone needs help sometimes. As a bonus, it’s a great way to talk about your life in a guided manner.

 

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How To Beef Up Your Resume

Before I graduated college, I hit the ground running on applying for jobs. I applied for about 25 jobs per day. I was pretty confident cocky. All that was because of the fact that I had a pretty stellar resume. I will show it to you at the end of this article. If you don’t want to hear me ramble about all the things that I learned and how I learned them, just scroll to the end. I won’t be offended.

Step 1: Make a list

Employers want to know the following:

  • Where you went to school and when you graduate(d)
  • What you studied
  • Where you’ve worked
    • How long did you work there?
    • What was your role while working there?
    • Provide numbers and figures to illustrate your role.
      • For example, if you worked as a social media intern for a company and used analytics to track your engagement, state “Improved social media engagement by 30%,” or something to that effect.
  • What organizations you’re involved in
    • Detail your experiences with leadership positions at your respective college, organizations you volunteer for, or groups that you lead
  • Your “special skills”
    • I list mine as proficiency in Adobe suite. List yours as whatever you see fit. However, I don’t think that eating with chopsticks counts as a special skill.

Step 2: Choose a layout.

The layout is much more important than you would think. You can find some really overdone layouts on Canva, or you can find more subtle and subdued ones on GoogleDocs. After that, all you have to do is choose an aesthetic font. My favorites are as follows:

  • Helvetica
  • Lato
  • Verdana

Step 3: Make it personalized.

The more personal elements that you put into your resume, the better. I have a few friends that try and make it colorful with designing or put in a picture of their LinkedIn headshot. I tried to go for a bit more of an understated look, opting just for my branded head logo and trademark lowercase name.

As long as you’re not using Times New Roman, Comic Sans, or Raleway as fonts, you’re probably fine. Don’t go overboard personalizing it, though. Just the right amount of colors and vibrancies will go a long way.

My resume

 

To conclude

Please be cognizant of the fact that, while these tips may work for some, they may not work for all. They are a great way to help catapult you as an individual in your job search, but they are not a surefire guarantee to attaining your desired job.

 

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How to not be terrible at money in your 20s

If you went to a liberal arts college and didn’t take a financial class, or just sucked at accounting or economics, this article is for you.

If you worked a full-time job for two weeks and impulse bought a pair of Yeezys with your first paycheck, this article is for you.

If you are a recent college graduate with a job and a lot of debt, this article is for you.

Welcome to another article that I like to call “I Have No Idea What I’m Talking About, But I Don’t Care.” I graduated college with a double major in English writing and business communication. I got through economics and accounting with tears in my eyes and frequent tutoring sessions, but I learned a few things about managing money when you’re a young adult. Specifically, I got a financial advisor.

Some disclaimers so I don’t get angry comments:

  1. This is subjective and based on my very limited experience.
  2. The financial skills in this article do not include consideration for familial situations. I have no children or significant other, so this is particular to single individuals.
  3. These skills may work for some, but are not going to be applicable to all. This is just a fun way to get a general idea about how to manage finances overall.

Make a budget

Remember how you would use Microsoft Word for everything in high school? Well great news, Word has a friend. Her name is Excel. You can make a budget by copying the following format.

  1. Go to your online accessible bank account, and write down your monthly income after taxes.
  2. Go through all the bills you owe. Student loans, internet, phone bill, etc.
  3. Put them in columns that look like this:
    1. Note: This is just an example of a budget. This is a loosely-based average on the money that millennials in their early twenties are apt to make. Please also note that this example budget does not involve eating out or gas costs.

That’s how you start making a budget. Take the difference of your income and expenses, and consider that some roaming money. You can do a few things with that extra pocket change, especially because you’re young a dumb. You’re going to want that pocket change to do dumb things with your friends, like go out.

Cut out unnecessary spending

For a lot of people, unnecessary spending can look a lot of different ways. For me, I had to cut back on my wardrobe and clothing expenses. I love buying clothes, but I realize that it might not be the most healthy thing for my pocketbook.

Examples of things you may consider cutting back on:

  • Starbucks
  • Fast Food
  • Impulse buys
    • Ranging anywhere from electronics to candles to shoes to clearance Chapstick at Target, impulse buys are a bad habit to curb right now. It can definitely save you money if you cut back on impulsive spending habits.
  • Impulse trips
  • Airpods
    • You look dumb

Start investing

The next step is to invest little by little. There are a few ways that you can do this. The first is to utilize the benefits of your job if your workplace offers them. Enroll in your 401k plan. The 401k, in short, is way to save for your retirement. You can save and invest, and the money is deposited into your 401k from your paycheck.

For further investing initiatives, one of my favorite platforms is called Betterment. It’s a website that lets you choose your desired monthly deposit into your Betterment account. You don’t have to particularly choose which stocks or bonds to invest in if you don’t want to fret with all that jazz. You can simply balance your portfolio between conservative (which is more bonds than stocks) to moderate (which is half and half) to risky/aggressive (which is more stocks than bonds).

Another app that I use on my phone is called Acorns. It’s a cute little app (it’s adorable) that takes all of your purchases and rounds them up to the nearest dollar and invests literal cents for you every so often. You can balance your stocks and bonds as you like the same way that you do on Betterment. I highly recommend Acorns as the easiest way to start investing in your future.

Get a credit card, or don’t

Credit card companies oftentimes target individuals who have just graduated colleges for marketing a credit card to them. The idea, in and of itself, sounds enticing. It allows you to have an item that you want now without having to pay for it for a little while. However, that can be a bit of a deadly trap for some people, especially if you aren’t making regular payments on a credit card. Credit cards are a great idea if you have the income to support them and the diligence to pay them off before they start accruing insane amounts of interest and ruining your credit scores. Getting one or not getting one is up to your discretion, but try to apply for ones that have a “same as cash” initiative or very low interest.

Start paying off bills

I’m going to just make an assumption and say that you have student loans. It’s a tough world out there for just about any college graduate to not have loans. Make a conscious and continual effort to pay off your student loans. Not only will paying them off better your credit score, but it will also help unshackle you from the cold, dead hands of a university education. Pay off your damn bills, whether its student debt or a credit card, pay them off.

Hire a financial advisor!

Yeah, this was the best option for me! I have a great time balancing and learning about my finances with a financial advisor. I still have a lot to learn.

 

 

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Questions to ask yourself while dating

Let’s talk about our feelings.

Welcome to yet another blog article I wrote about dating while being eternally single.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I have messed up a lot. I make mistakes so you don’t have to. I’ve had three sizeable relationships in my young adulthood, all of which were incredibly different from the last. So I have learned a lot and grown up here and there. One of the things I remember my friends telling me about was this list of 36 Questions That Lead to Love from the New York Times. It’s a great list. It helps each person learn about the other in an intimate way. But my friends never gave me a list of questions to ask about myself.

So here we are. I have a list of questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about entangling your life with another human in the near future. These are in no particular order, nor are they meant to be an objective list of the questions you should ask yourself before dating someone. They’re kind of just a fun thought exercise of things that I learned.

1. Am I over my ex?

This is a crucial question. If you have to bite your tongue when you want to talk about your ex, or harbor harsh feelings about them, you’re not over them. I personally think that two things contribute to getting over your ex: time and forgiveness. Time will help you make sense of the past, and forgiveness acknowledges that, although the actions in the relationship that led to its demise were not justified, they nevertheless happened, and that’s okay.

Are you still making or listening to playlists that you made with or about your ex? If the answer is yes, you are not over them. Take some time to heal a little bit more.

2. Is this attraction or affection?

I have done my fair share of reasoning, again and again, and fully have devoted myself to the fact that attraction and affection are not interchangeable words or sentiments. Feeling affectionately for someone is a lot different than just being attracted to them. Affection says: Oh, hey this person is neat. I want to know more about them. Attraction can pretty much be boiled down to: Nice face bro. Discerning as to whether or not you are affectionate towards the person you’re pursuing or who may be pursuing you is a pretty good thing to do.

3. Am I an attention whore?

If you’re on Tinder for the confidence boost, chances are, you’re an attention whore. If you feel like you’ll die if less than 150 people “like” your Instagram post, you’re an attention whore. These aren’t actual measures of attention whore-levels, but really look introspectively at yourself and evaluate your need for attention. Where does it stem from?

4. Are they actually a nice person, or are they just charming?

This is one of the worst disguises in history. I’ve fallen for it SO many times. A nice person goes out of their way for other people, volunteers, seeks to understand different viewpoints. A charming person claims to be open-minded and then constantly tells you that your differing viewpoint is objectively wrong because it contradicts their own.

5. Do I love this person, or am I in love with them?

This is kind of personal, but I was in a relationship for a while there with a great guy. He was charming, kind, sensitive, and was really attractive. I had been waiting to fall in love with him, I felt like. The darker parts of me really wanted the attention, affection, and care that a significant other gives you. The other half of me envied so many of my peers who were seemingly in loving relationships, and I really wanted that, too. I know from experience that I had loved that ex, even though I never fell in love with him. I broke it off when I realized that truth. Some people told me “Katherine, that’s not really a good reason to break up with someone.” I just responded with “It’s not a very good reason to stay in a relationship with someone, either.” I didn’t want to do a disservice to him in his pursuit of finding someone who was in love with him.

6. What in my childhood makes me perceive love the way that I do?

The way that your parents treated you growing up has an exponential impact on the rest of your life. When it comes to relationships, take a moment to think about all the ways that you understand love based upon what you’ve been taught. And then get into therapy.

7. What is my conflict-management style?

Better yet, how do I communicate in relationships?

Please, please, please, I implore you… find this out before you get into a relationship. Knowing how you respond to conflict is a great thing to have in your back pocket, especially because fighting is a natural part of a healthy relationship. Don’t fear to fight. Fighting means that you and your significant other are communicating about your differing viewpoints in a healthy way. I drew you this cute graphic of what I remember from my intercultural communication class in college. Shout out to Dr. LaKresha Graham for this one. 

When it comes to addressing and managing conflict, I personally know that I fall into quadrant IV. indirect & unemotional. I know, I know. It’s kind of a bad place to be, especially because it mandates that my emotions and feelings about a problem tend to fester and explode. The ideal place to be is quadrant III. unemotional & direct, because it allows you to tackle problems head-on without getting your feelings involved. However, this graph is pretty fluid. Humans aren’t bound to one thing or the other based on how they’ve handled situations before. Everyone has situations that require them to direct conflict in any of the four quadrants.

Sorry for the math. I know, it sucks.

The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse

Finally, you should probably learn about Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (again, I learned this in college in my interpersonal communication class, taught by Dr. Laura Janusik. Thanks, Dr. J. You were great.)

They are as follows:

  • Criticism
  • Defensiveness
  • Contempt
  • Stonewalling

These were originally created to be predictors of divorce, but they can shed a lot of light into the negative ways that couples can fight or communicate. Knowing each of these ways that you might be responding to a conflict can help you get better about it. The antidotes to each of these can be found in this cute infographic that The Gottman Institute made:

Knowing and understanding the ways that you can curb your initial reactions to a conflict can really help you and your significant other, and really just about anyone, later down the road.

8. Am I toxic?

Before you ask yourself if you are toxic, ask yourself if the relationship is toxic. For a full questionnaire as to whether or not you are in a toxic relationship, click here. If you are in a toxic relationship, get out of it immediately. It can be a really tough thing to recover from, so seek support from family, friends, and professionals.

One of the things that really permeates relationships is a sense of victimization or learned helplessness. However, it is statistically impossible that you are always the victim. There are a lot of situations where you can be toxic, even if you intentionally or unintentionally mean to do so. A lack of self-awareness can prove to be a bad thing, especially because you are not able to see your objective self from the perspective of another. Admitting your faults and resolving to fix your problems is a pretty good indicator that you are not toxic.

Toxic tendencies in relationships can take a lot of forms: cheating, deception, blatant lies, emotional and/or physical abuse, unfulfilled promises, guilting, and etc.

Do you hinder the person’s emotional and social development because you are demanding of their time and energy?

Are you constantly comparing yourself, or your significant to other people to bring about change in their personality or in their relationship?

Are you anxiety-ridden when your significant other does not reply to a text message or let you know of their whereabouts?

If you are toxic, seek therapy. Everyone can benefit from therapy. 

 

A final note

Remember, relationships require two people who are emotionally committed, organized, and good at communication, to work the best. These questions might work best as an exercise for both individuals in a relationship, not just one of them. Getting better together and growing emotionally is a catalyst to a great relationship. Although I don’t know everything, these are the questions that I have learned to ask because of how many times I’ve failed. Admitting failure and resolving to do better is the first step to growth. I know that I’m trying to get better, and I hope that you may seek areas of improvement and get help accordingly.