Throwback to Simpler Times: What I miss from my childhood

It’s nearing the end of the semester, which means finals are upon us. Whenever it gets to this point of the year, and I’m THIS close to a long break, I can’t help but think back to my younger days when I didn’t know what finals were, and my biggest problem was when I struggled to punch a hole in my juice box. It’s so weird to think about how some of my favorite things to do fizzled out as I got older thanks to the endless tasks that seem to pile higher as I get closer to graduating. These are the ten things I wish I could go back to, and what I enjoyed as a pipsqueak. 


1. DQ after games and meets 

It wasn’t just orange slices and juice boxes all the time. Back then, it was so common for my team to head to the local DQ and sit on the brick wall, getting the cars to honk at us as they drove by. I would get the same thing every time, a small cookie dough blizzard that I could only get halfway through before it turned into soup. It didn’t matter what season it was; softball, basketball, or gymnastics, DQ was always the go to spot after big tourneys or meets. I miss these days because going to DQ meant that I actually had the time to do this, and not immediately go home and start my homework like I had to as I got older. I also was able to participate in both gymnastics and basketball at the same time because I wasn’t in gymnastics competitively yet. Some of my best memories were made with my different teams over the years, and every time I drive by that brick wall, I picture my team sitting up there still. 

2. Saturday game day

I have no idea how or when this tradition got started, but every Saturday morning after I watched Spongebob with my cup of cereal and sippy cup of orange juice, my dad, Christopher, and I would play a board game before we got ready for the day. While a majority of the time it ended in a cat fight between me and Christopher because I wanted to win, and Dad put us on the steps for a five minute time-out, it was still a good time. We had so many games to choose from that my dad had to build shelves to house all those game boxes. Some of the most frequently played games were Uno, Life, Jenga, Chutes and Ladders, Pretty Pretty Princess (yes the guys did put on the clip on earrings and necklaces), Monopoly, American Girl, Sequence, and Slamwich (this one ended in tears from my hand getting slapped “too hard”). I always wanted to play Twister, but no one was ever eager to lose to the champ. We never played Operation because the loud buzzer freaked us out. I can’t tell you the last time any of those games were touched, as we never are together on Saturdays anymore, but it’s definitely something I wouldn’t mind having back. 

3. Webkinz

This honestly was my life. I spent so many hours on the computer taking care of my 40 pets. Yes, 40. Back then, I remembered every single pet’s name, all of my brother’s pet’s names, and was so addicted to getting more coins, spinning the Wheel of the Day, trying to make it to level 14 in Bananza -which I finally did and took a picture of it as proof, and making sure my pets didn’t die. I used to try to fit all of my pets in my bed with me at night which did not work very well in my tiny twin bed. While I can still remember my username: 6570L (hit me up in the arcade), I can’t remember any of those pet names, or how to even work the website anymore. I still remember the day my brother and I gave up Webkinz for good because we thought we were getting too old for it, and didn’t have the time. Back then it was still set up where they would die if you didn’t log on everyday to take care of them. My brother and I took turns getting on the computer and putting all of our pets in bed like the Titanic, setting them up for their slow death. It was a very emotional time I’m not going to lie. If there was an app for this, I’m pretty sure all of us 2000s kids would pick it back up again! I’d take a virtual dog to take care of over no dog. 

4. The swing set

When I wasn’t playing Webkinz, I was out on the swing set until I was forced to come inside. That swing set was used so much that I frayed the rope on the saucer swing, ripped out all the grass under the swing from the many times I tried to get myself to slow down, and broke off handles of the trapeze swing. I spent hours swinging; trying to see how high I could get, making up games, doing back flips off of it, trying to reach the trees with my feet, and swinging to my favorite Jonas Brothers songs. Swinging was my relaxation technique back then, as I would spend hours thinking about things-mostly gymnastics and my crush of the week. All my friends in my neighborhood had a swing set, and they were essentially the hangout spots. Sometimes I wish I could just go outside and have a swing session like I used to, I definitely took it for granted, and it’s great for the arms!

5. Worksheets

Back in my elementary school and middle school days, I would despise every single worksheet my teacher handed out. I absolutely hated those word problems about apples and oranges. I remember having a “homework folder” because all I would get was worksheets to complete. In reality, these worksheets were usually one-sided, with a maximum of six questions that really didn’t require thinking at all. Fast forward to now. I don’t need to have a homework folder anymore because there is no way to put the task of writing a research paper, creating a consulting project, conducting psych research, or reading several chapters into a folder. My homework now takes me on average several hours on a good week. Back then, my homework took me an hour tops, and that’s including needing my dad’s help with writing a fraction for how many green marbles were in the bag. I would take a worksheet any day over the ten page research paper I just finished up. 

6. Recess

When asked what my favorite subject was in school, I would say recess. When asked again to answer with a real class, I would say gym class. I have always been active, and recess was that time I could release all that pent up energy from sitting inside all day. First through fifth grade, I did the same thing at recess every single day. There were two horizontal bars out on the playground, and that is where I would go. I loved to practice my gymnastics tricks, as well as treat it as extra practice time. Luckily, the bars were right next to the “1,2,3 kick-up” spot on the hill (it’s a handstand contest). Sometimes my teachers would even come over and watch me do gymnastics. When it got cold and I could no longer grip the bars without getting frostbite, I would go sledding on the giant hill behind our school. Not many schools had this privilege, but I was so glad that I did. I guess I could go play at the playground down the street here at Gustavus in my free time, but it just isn’t the same, as it is not preceded by chicken giggles.  

7. Scootering

My brother and I used to be such a scooter fanatics that we each had two Razor scooters (twice the amount of hitting myself in the ankle with it too). Part of the reason I had two was because I was starting to wear the wheels flat on one of them. My brother and I used to create chalk roads on our driveway for us to drive our scooters around on, and come up with new jumps or tricks to do on them. A majority of the time, we were flying down the big hill in our neighborhood. When I say big hill, I mean to the point where I would be scared to ride my scooter down it now. I had no fear of what could happen (thanks to gymnastics). I loved to see how fast I could go, and once I got to the bottom, I would make the hike back up to the top again and do this for hours. My scooter traveled with me to my brother’s baseball games to help me pass the time, as well as on many trips to Kentucky to scooter around Centre College’s campus. Again, I could easily pick it back up again now, but unfortunately, 20 year olds are supposed to choose car as their form of transportation. 

8. Swimming and snow

There’s a point in every girl’s life where they transition from a water bug, or down to be out in the snow for hours, to laying out in the sun in order to avoid getting wet, and being an old lady about being out in the cold. Sadly, I am now one of those girls that gets all ready to go to the pool, just to sit two feet away from the water, or maybe dip my toe in. When it comes to snow nowadays, I’d just rather not deal with it! I don’t know why this love died off, but I loved swimming and being in the snow when I was young. My thought process now is that I don’t want to look like a raccoon from my mascara when I jump in the pool, or I’d rather not get my hair wet. I closed the waterpark down sometimes just because I didn’t want to get out of the pool. In the winter, my brother and I would spend all day sledding with the neighborhood squad, rolling snow to see how big of a snowball we could make (usually ended up ripping the grass out as well), and making luxurious snow forts (which were surprisingly warm). A little bit of it has come back now that I’ve gotten to Gustavus, as traying is very hard to pass up. 

9. Appearance

When I think back to what I looked like when I was in elementary school, I can’t help but cringe because it was not good. Between losing all my teeth except for my front tooth, growing out my bangs, and getting glasses, I was thankful for a glow up a few years later. What I miss about this though, is simply the fact that I didn’t care what I looked like. Obviously I cared a little, but I didn’t care what others thought about my outfit, hair, or what I did, like I do now. I would get inside from recess, all sweaty, and just keep going about my day. I didn’t spend a good chunk of my time in the morning putting on makeup or choosing an outfit (my mom chose for me for a while, I had no fashion sense). I ate whatever I wanted without thinking about how it could affect how my body looked. Kraft mac and cheese was my meal of choice. Back then when none of that mattered, it was a lot easier to feel great about myself, because I felt no need to change myself or compare myself to others. As a psych major, I’ve often wondered what age those evil thoughts of “caring” (seems ironic to say, right?) started to occur, and why. To sum it up, I miss the days where I could roll out of bed with no makeup, put on sweats, and give no thought to it at all! 

10. My “problems”

Back in the day, my problems seemed absolutely ginormous. Some examples of what I considered to be a huge problem were the printer is out of ink and I can’t print my assignment, there is not french vanilla flavored yogurt in the fridge, I have to do five tumbling series on beam tonight at practice, my pre algebra math assignment is impossible, my American Idol contestant got voted off, I can’t find the other matching sock, getting dragged to Christopher’s all day basketball tourney, my favorite leotard isn’t clean, the boy I like has a crush on someone else, it’s raining so I can’t go outside, etc.. you get it, they weren’t actual problems! Now, I wish that I had those problems. My pre FND life was such as a breeze (with the exception of learning my kip on bars). I took too many things for granted back then, just because I didn’t know that life can actually get hard sometimes, and there are bigger problems than not having matching socks. I was so naive back then about all the bad in the world, and all the adversity that could happen. I’ve overcome so many things; socially, health wise, school wise, you name it. Looking back, I’m glad that my problems weren’t real problems back then, because I was healthy, and a goofy little kid as all kids should be. 

Even though I had a few bumps in the road, my childhood was stellar, and that’s why I would give anything to go back and live a day in the life of Lauren back then. There are some things I am happy that I have grown out of, but a majority of it I definitely would gladly take back. I’d like to think that each of our experiences is what helps to prepare us for what is to come, and that is what gets me through the long papers, finals, and studying. Playing board games taught me how to follow the rules and sportsmanship, worksheets eased me into these giant papers, recess set me up to remember to stay active, and DQ taught me to celebrate my victories. While, I can’t really make a connection to how Webkinz has helped me become a top notch student, a lot of those things I did as a kid were important just to give me good memories to look back on when things get tough, and what it is like to truly be happy. My goal is to channel that child-like happiness during the times where school stress is at an all time high, like now! 

Have a fantastic week, my friends! Go get a DQ after finals.

~Lauren

10 Things to be Thankful for

With Thanksgiving this Thursday, it only seemed right to make a post about what I am thankful for. When we are asked to think about what we are thankful for, I bet that 95% of us say the staple “friends and family” response. I thought I would go beyond that and actually think about the things, both big and small, that I truly am thankful for.


1. Friends

Saying that I am thankful for friends and family is not just a go to response like “good” is when someone asks how you’re doing. I truly am beyond blessed for the friends that have stuck with me through thick and thin. When I say friends, this includes a lot of people. It is so much fun to live with my Big, Perry, as well as my roommates Quinn and Kristen who are sorority sisters as well. Perry gives everyone life @Sigmas. Having people to come home to everyday that will force a smile on my face after the Terrible Tuesdays is a blessing. My Little, Kristen, will forever be my workout buddy in Lund as we try to survive the horrible workout equipment early in the mornings. Coming home for a break is so much better when I know I get to see my friends Paige and Blake that I’ve known since middle school. It’s always like nothing has changed at all every time we have a reunion. Lastly, my best friend since birth (literally), Anna. While she may be in South Dakota a majority of the year, that doesn’t stop us from having our coffee dates every time we are both home, sending snail mail, feeding our Mama Mia obsession, and snapchats of our inside joke about macaroons. I hope you all actually read my blogs, I don’t give shoutouts to just anyone ūüôā

2. Family

I couldn’t say something about friends without mentioning anything about family. Once again, this includes a lot of people, but I am so incredibly thankful for the Casey clan (and the Bechanan clan out in Kentucky). I’m so thankful for all my dad has done for me over the years including putting up my trampoline every year only for me to use it about two times, building me a gymnastics bar in the basement, teaching me important life skills such as my car won’t turn off unless it’s in park, and how to work the heater in my car. (Many car things). I also can’t forget the number of times my mom has been there for me when I needed her, even if that meant driving to GAC late at night, the loads of laundry done, meals made, and so much more. I will never stop saying how thankful I am for my brother, and my dog Gracie, who I probably squeeze too hard when I finally get to see her coming home from Gustavus. Lastly, shoutout to my family in Kentucky! Even though I see them about once a year, the times I do see them, I make the most out of it! A lot of people are thankful for so much thanksgiving food, but my Grandad was always the one who taught me to truly be thankful for the food on the table, as he would always say “bless the ones who have prepared it, and bless those who have grown it.” It made me realize that the food doesn’t magically appear on the table everyday like I used to think. It takes family! Some of my greatest memories have been made with my cousin Fielden, as we make fun of each other’s accents, test out grip strength during the prayer at meals to see who can squeeze the living daylight out of each other’s hands the best, and make up really embarrassing dance routines. I’m pretty sure that tradition will continue until we are old ladies.

3. Wireless earbuds

Alright, now that I’ve got friends and family out of the way, let’s move onto the little things of life that bring me more joy than they probably should. Wireless earbuds have absolutely changed my life. I can’t even begin to explain the struggles I had with earbuds that had that long cord. First, when I got a new phone, my earbuds no longer were able to plug in without an adapter. This wasn’t a huge problem, except for the fact that I always forgot the adapter, leaving me with silent and sad workouts. Second, trying to run with a cord dangling in front of me drove me nuts. On more than one occasion, I would accidentally get my hand caught in the cord, launching my phone to land on the treads, and shoot back off the treadmill. Lastly, I’m pretty sure it took me longer to untangle the cord, than it took for me to finish my workout.

4. Hot showers

There are times where I am convinced that it isn’t water coming out of the shower head, but magic. Hot showers have the ability to make everything better. There is no better feeling than hopping in after a long sweaty workout, only to come out refreshed and basically a whole new person after. This also goes neck and neck after a long, cold, MN day, and being able to relax and stand there under the water. Usually this helps me turn from a nice dark shade of purple, to a somewhat normal color again (bad circulation at its finest). Don’t deny it, the reason we take a long time is not because we are thoroughly shampooing our hair as we should, it is because we are just standing there in order to solve life’s problems, have some more alone time, warm up, have a crying session, jam session, or recite speeches for class like I used to do…and still do. Showers are not just for cleansing ourselves physically, they also can wash away our mental and emotional struggles, and for that, I am thankful.

5. My car

Just like the shower serves as more than what it is intended for, so does my car. Yes, I am thankful for the fact that my car gets me places, because that would be a long walk from Gustavus to Eagan. My car has been through a lot. It was first my dad’s before it was handed down to my brother, and then me. I can guarantee I have given that car more wild rides than the two before me. As I mentioned, the MN ice made my car smash into a neighbor’s mailbox (totally not my fault, let’s make that clear). My car has also served as a prop for my physics music video, we have a close connection as you can see. I consider Goldie a safe haven sometimes, as it is a great place to get away and be by myself if I need it. One of the most therapeutic things is plugging in my aux cord and jamming out on long drives (I should say putting in my aux cassette tape, it’s a 2004 and not quite “techy”). I’ve been thankful for my car on scorching hot days, and when I can blast the AC, as well as blasting the heat if I can figure it out (I usually forget what my dad tells me) on the frigid winter days. My life would be significantly different without Goldie! Lastly, my car is my prime spot for phone interviews.

6. Leggings

I remember my first pair of leggings. They were from PINK, and I was the most excited 7th grader that you ever did see. It was from that point on that everything changed. I used to wear jeans every single day, all day long. Now, I can barely wear jeans two times a week, and even then, I don’t even last the whole day. Leggings give me the opportunity to dress up or down, go to the gym, and not feel like I’m wearing a form of torture. I wish they were popular when I was growing up, because as a gymnast, I would frequently do the splits and random cartwheels around the house. Definitely not the easiest in denim. Leggings are the happy medium between jeans and sweatpants. I’m pretty sure that all girls agree with me on this one, leggings are a lifesaver!

7. Make up

Alright ladies, we have all had those days where we have woken up and looked in the mirror, only to be frightened at what is looking back at you. At this point, you believe there is no hope in looking good for the day. I’ve had more than enough of these days whether it’s because I’m sick, tired, stressed, or simply just look like a zombie that day. It still amazes me just what a little mascara can do. I’m so incredibly thankful for the times makeup has helped me cover up imperfections, even though psychology says that’s just the spotlight effect and no one actually cares. Make up serves as one of those “fake it till you make it” kind of things, as I feel a lot better once I have it on, including when I am sick. Now, I’m not saying that I need it in order to feel good about myself, and neither should the rest of the female population, but it really can lift some spirits and make you feel on point more often than not. Overall, I’m thankful that it prevents others from asking me if I’m sick when I don’t wear it (yes this happened)!

8. Poshmark

Once I found out this site existed my first year of college, it totally changed the game. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by using poshmark, but at the same time improved my wardrobe significantly. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is essentially an online garage sale for brand new, new without tags, or barely used items. I now get all my workout clothes, Lulu and Athleta gear, jeans,…really everything, off this site. In return, I’ve sold my things and made some money as well. It is so simple to use, making it addicting. If I am ever looking for something, whether it be simple, or name brand, I don’t go to the store anymore. Why pay full price if you don’t have to?

9. Treadmills

I’m not crazy, just hear me out. I am thankful for treadmills because whenever I go on a run outside, multiple things go wrong. First, the weather is always all or nothing. In the summer, it is always scorching, no matter what day I go. On the other hand, you will never catch me running outside in the winter. Never. A treadmill is great for those people like me that aren’t hardcore runners. Second, whenever I go on a run, I always forget that however far I run, I have to run that distance back. More than once, I have decided to go on a seven mile run. I finished my seven miles, but for some reason it did not occur to me that my car would not be there at the end to take me home, so that seven mile run turned into 14. With a treadmill, I don’t have to worry about going anywhere. Third, there are no geese to run after me when I am on a treadmill (they did make me run faster though which improved my endurance). Fourth, this may be personal, but I can’t be the only one that has to “go” in the middle of a run. This serves as a huge problem when you’re outside running along a city road and are seven miles away from home. Lastly, I am one of those people who likes to watch the Today show in order to distract myself from my burning lungs. To my Gusties reading this, if you ever walk through Lund and the middle TV in front of the treadmills is turned on Channel 11, chances are, that was me. 

10. School breaks 

I thought I’d save the best for last. I will be forever thankful for Thanksgiving Break. As much as I’d like to say that Thanksgiving is the reason I am excited for this break, that is just not the truth, it is the break itself. I do not take my breaks lightly either. I go from  an on task, studious, busy college student, to absolute couch potato. This is simply because I really am so exhausted, and NEED the break. It can be so tough being on my best game every week, and it is so refreshing to just stop worrying about deadlines, article quizzes, meetings, laundry, cooking etc. After all the test questions I answer throughout the semester, I couldn’t care less about the dreaded “do you have a boyfriend?” question that we all get asked by all family members at the Thanksgiving table. I have been thankful for breaks throughout my whole career as a student, not just in college, but in college, it means I get to spend more time with my family.

It can be so easy to let weeks go by without appreciating those/things that you are thankful for. I don’t think my shower cares if I let it know how thankful I am for it, but my family and friends do, and I’m sure yours do too. I find it kind of sad that it feels awkward to go up to someone and tell them you are thankful to have them. Really, what are they going to do?Reject you for letting them know that they make a mean casserole? This holiday season, I want to try to make it something that is not against social norms! Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!I may just have to make a #FitnessFriday post for next week so we can shed off those extra pounds of mashed taters. 

~Lauren

Advice I Live By

Advice is one of those concepts that seems to go in one ear and out the other. So many people give it, but it is never really received or processed. When I think about why I am the why I am, it all points to the advice I have been given by people that I respect and look up to. I now realize just how big of an impact it has made on me. A lot of advice is so cliche that we chuckle and brush it off, but when you actually think about what the string of words mean, it makes a lot of sense, and is a logical way to live my life. In this post, I want to highlight just ten of the most important, perhaps cheesy, pieces of advice I have gotten over the years, and why they have been so important to me.


1. “If it isn’t fun, don’t do it.”

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Seems simple, right?¬† Growing up, this is what my dad would tell me and my brother often. Usually, it applied to in-house sports. While he doesn’t say it much anymore, he doesn’t have to, because it has stuck with me ever since then, and has generalized from beyond the days of orange slices at soccer practice. It’s pretty vague, but it applies to so much. While it seems like a “well, duh” kind of thing, it is harder to follow than most would think. This is due to expectations from others, feelings of failure, not knowing what you really want, and¬†self standards. I have been stuck in situations where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with what I was doing or not, and ultimately, the decision was made because of this. Choosing to retire from gymnastics was a giant decision that I had to make. I was going back and forth for weeks, and I still remember my dad coming up to me and dropping this advice as he had years before. When it was put that way, the decision was made clear for me that being in pain wasn’t fun anymore! Just because you have loved something for a long time, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. My dad always assured me that choosing not to do something anymore because it wasn’t fun doesn’t mean failure, and that is what has validated my decisions all these years. Unfortunately, this did not apply to mandatory things such as math classes.

2. “Know your worth”

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One cannot simply go through life without adversity, or bad news hitting you in the face a couple times. I know I have had my fair share. Maybe you didn’t get selected for an internship, a relationship didn’t work out, you were stuck in an unfair situation, or someone made you feel small. These things can really put someone in a tailspin if they don’t believe in themselves and what their importance is. It has been enforced time and time again that everyone has a gift to contribute to someone, something, or somewhere. My parents have made it very clear what I contribute, and just how important it is to never doubt myself. Being able to know who you are and being confident in what you bring to the table is like hitting life right back in its face. The hard part, is waiting for that someone, something, or somewhere to pick up on it, and realize just how amazing you are, but ultimately, it is worth the wait no matter the situation. Being confident in my abilities, and knowing my worth is how I have the upper hand in tough situations, and it is what gives me power to pick myself up and prove everyone wrong who doubts me.

3. “Stay true to yourself, no matter how hard”

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This one can be tough with the constant feelings of peer pressure to be something you are not, fit in, or be anything but different. Through middle school, high school, and college, I have stayed true to my values. This is mostly due to the teachings of my parents, and the great role model I had growing up, being my brother. It is easier to stay true to yourself when you see someone else stay true to themselves, and end up in a great spot while doing so. Everyone’s values are different, but for me, following the rules, and engaging in behaviors that keep me on the right path is a goal I intend to maintain. Choosing the right decision is not always the easiest, but each time I do, it strengthens my integrity, becomes easier, and more people become aware just how much I value my values! I don’t mind being “different” or making the minority decision if that is what keeps me confident in myself and successful. I have the goal of being a model to others who struggle to make the tough, but great, decisions that they ultimately want to make, but just don’t know how to yet.

4. “Don’t let anyone or anything define you”

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This one also goes along the lines of being confident in yourself, but for me, it is more aimed at the “anything” rather than the “anyone.” To those of you who have followed me on my FND journey, or have read my FND blog post in the past, this is the piece of advice I got from many people. There have been a lot of opportunities where I could have let my disorder get in my head, and control me. I like to say that while my movement disorder can control me physically, I absolutely will not let it control me mentally or emotionally. Every time it got in the way of gymnastics, school , friendships, and relationships, I could have let it eat at me, but I chose not to every time, and I am stronger because of it. To those of you who are perfectionists like me, or put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well, you are more than a test grade, a bad hockey practice, mediocre gymnastics meet, a lousy inning, or a bad decision. Knowing that I am in control of what I let myself be defined by, is a power that has so much potential. I refuse to let someone who doubts my abilities, or something that tests my abilities, get in my head. Filter out the bad!

5. “Watch for deer”

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So far, I’ve talked a lot about being confident in yourself, and knowing what your abilities are. When it comes to deer running in front of your car, NONE of that matters. My family has a running joke about this because every single time (literally every time, I am not exaggerating this) we get in the car to go somewhere, my mom says “watch for deer” before we even have the chance to buckle our seatbelt. My dad, Christopher, and I will not be shy to say we get annoyed of it, that is, until a deer actually runs in front of the car. It is one of those things where you think that it won’t ever happen to you, but living in Minnesota at this time of the year, it is starting to become inevitable. I have avoided a couple run ins with a deer just because my mom’s voice reciting this phrase is like a song that gets stuck in your head. You know what they say, mother is always right!

6. “Take at least five minutes for yourself everyday”

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This is one of those pieces of advice that I can’t remember who said it, but ever since, it has stuck. Five minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but when I am running from class to class, on top of going to meetings, writing papers, working out, cramming for a test, volunteering, worrying, stressing, (I could go on, but you get the idea…BUSY), those five minutes are the most refreshing and glorious five minutes that I have ever felt. Being a college student, an employee, athlete, parent etc requires so much giving, and sometimes, you just gotta take something for yourself. It doesn’t matter how you spend those five minutes, as long as you take them. I’ve spent my five minutes by writing lists, a note to a friend, starting a new blog, stretching, crying, laying on the floor, sitting, a short nap, calling my mom, doodling, social media, and staring blankly off into space simply because I can. It also doesn’t matter where you spend these five minutes. Don’t deny it, we have all taken longer in the bathroom just because it is a safe haven.

7. “Take things one day at a time”

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Another great piece of advice that I hear way too often, but seem to have the hardest time doing. This is why my dad tells me this at least three times a week. Being a future oriented, type A person, I am always planning and looking ahead. This is an absolutely terrifying and terrible thing to do, because looking at all the things you have to finish before the month ends is unrealistic, and sometimes I forget that a week is actually longer than it sounds. My parents know very well that I get ahead of myself and don’t “live in the now”¬† very often. I’m a pro at looking for the next thing that needs to be done. So far I have improved to taking things by a week at a time rather than month at a time. For those of you who struggle to deal with everyday stresses, and days seem to never end, it is comforting to know that each new day is a clean slate, and that some days will be tougher than others. We often always forget to tell ourselves that some days will be easier than others as well. This can be a hard thing to do when it feels like there’s so many things that need to be done, but think of it this way, would you stuff a whole 20 piece McNugget in your mouth all at once and choke? Or would you take it one nugget at a time?

8. “Do yourself a favor and go to bed”

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To college students, this should be taken to heart because we seem to think we can solve all of our problems at midnight. So many of us stay up terribly late to finish homework, cram for a test, or just sit there worrying about everything under the sun. We always complain about how tired we are, and how badly we want to go to bed, so why don’t we? In the end, losing sleep in order to study doesn’t help at all. Sleep is healing, calming, and something we deserve at the end of a long day. As I sit in my room and my watch tells me it is almost midnight, my dad’s voice will now pop into my head telling me this. So if you are one of those people who stay up all night thinking you are doing yourself a favor, but can barely function the next day, do yourself an actual favor and go to bed like a normal person. I promise you, your episode on Netflix will not disappear.

9. “Don’t be afraid to try something new”

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After living the same routine of school, gymnastics, and homework for 16 years, it was hard to imagine anything else other than that. When gymnastics was no longer a part of my equation, it gave me a lot of free time to fill. I had the option of not filling it, but because I have always been told to try new things even if I don’t picture myself doing them, it made me want to explore more of my options. I am so thankful that I did. I love writing for the Gustavian Weekly, as it is another outlet where I can voice my thoughts just like this blog is. I will admit, I was hesitant on starting my blog at first, I chewed on the idea for about two years before I actually did it, and I am so happy I did. Think about it, what do you have to lose by trying something new? Maybe a little pride if you fail miserably, but also, maybe you gain the ability to laugh at yourself, or really find what you are passionate about. I joined the Gustavus choir for a good two months before I realized that I would still rather stick to my performances in the shower. It is better to try something and learn it isn’t the right fit, than to leave yourself wondering.

10. “Don’t worry about the things you can’t control”

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No matter how many times I hear this, I struggle with it. Telling me not to worry about something is like telling me not to breathe. Even though I consciously know there are things totally out of my control, I still feel like I have some sense of control over it in some way. The example that comes to mind is the “gymnast lean” (all my former teammates and coaches know what I am talking about). In the gymnastics world, it is so common to see a team lean to one side to try to “help” their teammate performing stay on the beam if they wobble, or try to make it over on bars. We know it does absolutely nothing, but we do it anyways because deep down we believe it does. While I know that I can’t control people’s decisions, or the results of something, I know God can, so I have turned to him when I feel like I need to feel some control. Knowing He has a plan, gives me the comfort I need to let go of my worries. Besides, worrying about something that you literally cannot do anything about is not productive, it is more like shooting yourself in the foot.

It is interesting how certain pieces of advice come to mind when a situation arises that requires it. There is a quote, verse, or advice that can apply to every situation, but it is times where we really need them, that we remember it. That’s how the system works though; when you need a boost, a few string of words are there to give you a boost back to baseline. Even the most cheesiest, shortest, cliche words are all you need to keep moving forward!

Stay warm, y’all!

~Lauren

Random Facts of Lauren

Since my last post about Career Development Tips may have been a bit bland as most things related to grown up life tends to be (sorry grown ups), I thought I would make this post lighter by revealing some unique and weird quirks about me. There are questions that people never think to ask someone, or are just too weird to bring up in regular conversation, so I thought I’d try to answer some of those things even if I am embarrassing myself in the process. I am fully aware that I am potentially being set up to be mocked about some of my favorites, or habits that I have, and I am perfectly ok with that. With that being said, let’s dive in shall we?


1. I have a fear of fish

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When I say fear, I am not talking about your everyday heebie jeebies you get when you see a spider. I have a phobia of fish, as in, don’t like watching Finding Nemo. It doesn’t matter what kind of fish it is; dead or alive, cooked, northern pike or goldfish, in a lake or at Petco- I’m scared of them all. You could say that since I am sensitive to gluten and dairy, I am scared of goldfish crackers too! This all started back at our family cabin when I was very young. I was flipping through a children’s book about the kind of fish in the lakes of Minnesota, when I came across the scariest looking cartoon picture of a northern. It had giant teeth and a little warning sign by it. I remember asking my grandpa where they lived in the lake, and he said the weeds, which happened to be right by our dock. Since that moment, I have always been scared to get in the lake because of the northerns, but over the years it has generalized to all fish. Everyone always says that fish are harmless, but the thought of standing in the lake and a fish rubbing up against my leg is unbearable. One of my biggest nightmares would be going to a nail place and having those little fish nibble on your feet when getting a pedicure!¬†I have cried due to the sight of a fish being close to me on multiple occasions.

2. My favorite food is steamed broccoli

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After reading about my fear of fish, you may already be thinking how odd that is, so I thought I would keep the ball rolling. Yes, my favorite food is steamed broccoli. Most people, when they get cravings, would probably go for some sweets or junk food, but me? Steamed broccoli, never raw. I haven’t always had this at the top of my favorites list, I will admit I used to be a Kraft Mac and Cheese addict, but they say tastebuds age and mature as you get older, so I’m just going to blame it on that. For the record, my favorite is from Red Robin. Not all broccoli is created equal.

3. I was a baller

 

When looking at me, all 5 ft of me, most would not pin me as a basketball player. I played basketball for six years, including one year of traveling. I was known for being the point guard that dribbles left handed but shoots right handed. My brother and I spent hours running plays, playing neighborhood games of Lightning, horse, and at basketball camps. When I was given the choice of either gymnastics or basketball, I always joke that I picked the right one in the end because my height wouldn’t have gotten me very far in basketball. I still love to shoot and play pick up games when I can. I was known as “hot shot” during all my basketball camps because Lightning was my game of choice, and I was often unbeatable which led to doing the splits as part of my victory dance. In middle school I would always participate in the three-pointer shooting contests with the guys, and they’d laugh every time I said I wanted to join, but soon shut up after I could hit as many shots as they could. While I may not be the best at layups, my jump shot is often followed by a swoosh. That being said, if anyone is ever looking for a shooting buddy, I’m your girl!

4. I love word finds

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I could do word finds for days. I started doing word finds when I was young. Every time we got in the car to go somewhere, I would pick up my word find book that I stored in the seat, and be glued to that book the whole ride there whether that be a couple minutes or hours. I credit this as to why I am so good at spelling now. This little quirk has stuck with me throughout the years, and I still have stacks of word finds in my desk drawers here at Gustavus for when I have free time. I’ve learned a lot over the years from doing these word finds because of all the categories of words. I think I like them so much because it’s similar to the satisfaction I feel when I cross something off my to do list.

5. My ancestor is Abe Lincoln

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This is my definite go to question for two truths and a lie. Most people don’t believe that I am related to good old honest Abe. I can’t remember exactly what the family tree is, we figured it out once. It traces back to my mom’s side of the family. I’ve heard that he was a tall man, and I often wonder at what point that height was lost because I definitely did not get that trait passed on.

6. I’m a morning person

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My idea of sleeping in is until about eight, but even then, I don’t enjoy it. You can often bet that I will be up at six every morning, just because I like it. Something about being up when no one else is, is calming, almost like calm before the storm. I like to have time to myself before my day officially starts. Usually, I fill this time with working out, reading a daily devotional, writing, or just enjoying the feeling of doing absolutely nothing. On the other hand, you will not find me anywhere but my bed when 11 PM rolls around. Night owl is not in my vocabulary.

7. I’m an introvert

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I have mentioned this in my past posts, but what y’all don’t know is how far I have come. In the past, I was an introvert in all cases; being talking to people, needing time to myself, liking silence etc. Writing a public blog would have been a nightmare for me. I used to never talk to anyone of the opposite gender, or much older than me. I even was too shy to interact with my cousins at family events, it took me a while to “warm up.” Back in my elementary school days, I was so painfully shy that I would not talk to adults at all. A teacher could wave at me in the hall and I would just stare at them as they walked by. Ordering at restaurants was a job for my parents, as I was too shy to talk to the server. Libby Lu birthday parties were my nightmare because of all the makeup and glitzy costumes that made me stand out. When we had to perform the dance routine in the middle of the mall (all girls in the 2000s know what I’m talking about), I wanted to cry. This list goes on and on.¬†Nowadays, I can talk to anyone, and actually enjoy it. I’m at the point where I actually like job interviews. It’s taken a lot of practice to get comfortable with coming out of my shell, and while I may not be shy anymore, I definitely need my “me time” to just not talk for a couple hours after being with a group of people.

8. I can’t cook…at all

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When I say I can’t cook, I mean it. I can’t even microwave…I can toaster though! My theory behind this is that when you are busy being a student for seven hours a day, and then coming home and going straight to four hour gymnastics practices six days a week, there really is no time to learn to cook. A few exceptions are the extra credit enchilada dinners I had to make for my Spanish class, which even then, I relied heavily on my mom. If you need a nice bowl of cereal, toast, or a sandwich, I am your girl. I still have yet to successfully make microwave mac and cheese without it blowing up on me. No matter how well I follow the instructions, it literally explodes in the microwave every time. This goes for oatmeal as well. Another reason I am horrible at cooking, is because I cannot be trusted with hot/sharp things such as stoves, knives, pans, ovens, you name it. I promise you, when it comes to cooking or baking, I WILL find a way to screw it up. The picture above shows my ability to pose with pancakes, but you bet your butter I didn’t go anywhere near the griddle… #wifemeup

9. Matching is a must

My biggest pet peeve is when colors don’t match. This definitely is a perfectionist thing, but it is a huge turn off for me when people don’t know how to match colors or color coordinate. If you see me at the gym, you bet that my scrunchie matches my sports bra and socks, and my shoes match the accent colors in my tank top. I organize my closet by color, even down to my shoes. One of the weirdest color quirks I have originated in elementary school. The color pen I used to write with that day had to match what I was wearing, and even to this day I still have that rule. Nothing drives me more crazy than when someone is wearing black on black, but the shades of black don’t match! Next time you see me in the gym, I’d appreciate the appreciation of my color coordination.

10. I don’t cry in movies

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The Notebook, and Marley and Me have never phased me. I have often wondered if I have any sense of emotion at all because of the disbelief people are in when they hear that I felt nothing while watching them. I have never understood how a movie can make someone cry because it isn’t real! The one movie that got me a little choked up was¬†College Road Trip,¬†something about flashbacks just get me every time. Some of my friends have made this into a challenge, but they still have yet to find a movie that turns on the water works.

11. I can be impulsive

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My one story for this resorts back to little Lauren (I swear all my weirdest things happened around this age). While my mom was upstairs getting ready for the day, I thought I had the greatest idea, with no motive behind it at all. I found the nearest ballpoint pen, and decided to draw giant sheep on our hardwood floors for no reason at all. I didn’t think about what my mom would think, or that it probably wasn’t the best thing to do, I just did it. For the record, it was the wrong move, and I never did it again. From then on, my impulsive moves have never been harmful, just weird little things like drawing sheep on the floor. Thankfully, I never did try to give myself a haircut.

12. I’m a sucker for¬†The Bachelor

Yes, I am one of those girls who joins a fantasy league and plans their day around an unrealistic and sappy reality TV show. While I may enjoy fantasizing about the spectacular dates they go on, I honestly watch it just because my psychology brain likes to analyze the psycho girls on the show. It is fun to see how ridiculous the drama gets, it is kind of addicting. I’m one who is very realistic, so seeing something that is not realistic at all makes for cheap entertainment. It’s the little things as I say, such as a girl getting upset because another contestant talked to the bachelor for one more minute than she did, that count.

13. I love country

I am not one of those people that only likes country music during the summer, but doesn’t touch it in the winter. You know you are a die hard country fan when you’re listening to a song about sunshine and corn in the middle of a Minnesota blizzard. My all time favorite song is H.O.L.Y by Florida Georgia Line, followed close by anything that comes out of Thomas Rhett’s mouth. Country music is feel good music, and always gives me a little skip in my step walking around campus. I also like country because the songs have meaning, and are honest, as compared to rapping about liking big butts (although Sir Mix A Lot said he cannot lie so I guess he is being honest as well). Bottom line, I’m not just on the country bandwagon.

14. I have broken many bones

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When people get hurt, they often have stories about getting hurt playing a sport, or doing something spectacular. But for me? I like to mix things up. I broke my first bone in my leg when I was two years old…going down a slide. A couple years later, I broke my foot going down a fire pole on the playground. I was scared to slide down, so my brother put a tiny toy dump truck at the bottom to break my fall. I landed on the truck, but it broke my foot instead of the fall. Fast forward two years later. I broke my arm by being blasted out of a tiny hole in the net of a trampoline. When I say tiny, I am meaning that it was the biggest coincidence that I fit perfectly through that hole. Some honorable mentions are the occasional toes and fingers that have been snapped during gymnastics meets, but no major breaks since then! Although I must say, I would rather have taken a broken bone over nerve damage in my ribs and spine.

15. My biggest regret is not playing hockey

Growing up, I played every sport, except hockey. I mentioned in a past post that this was because I didn’t want to wear the big pants aka breezers. At the same time, I loved skating, and still do. I didn’t mind going to my brother’s hockey games, and I actually liked them (way more than baseball). I often wonder if I would have been any good at it, and I regret not being able to find out.

There’s 15 things about me that you probably didn’t know. Some of them are odd, I know, but that is what sets me apart from all the other people who also were a gymnast, like maroon, or are a college student. It is the weird facts about people that guide their experiences and make for great stories. I know that if I did end up playing hockey, I may not have as many injuries as I did in gymnastics, but I also wouldn’t have the unique stories that go with them. And if I didn’t like country, I wouldn’t have been ironically listening to Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood during an ice storm while I elegantly smashed into my neighbors mailbox. Every little quirk we have, both good and bad, is how God made us, and you have the power to embrace them, or be embarrassed about what makes you, you. I choose to embrace the broccoli.

I’d love to hear some of your little quirks, or something I don’t know about you! Feel free to shoot me an email, comment, or private message me!

Have a great week. and start to your November!

~Lauren

Career Development Tips

College is a time of juggling many things at once, and while we are at college to prepare ourselves for a career, doing the non academic things to propel our preparation often gets forgotten, or pushed to the side. I am surprised about how many people in college don’t have a solid resum√©, know how to network, or know basic interview skills. I have been fortunate enough to grow up around those who are very good at this, so they got me invested in directing my future at an early age. For those looking for internships, I am sure you have heard these things before, but they really do work if you keep at it! Here are my 10 tips to improving your skills in career development!


1. Start Early

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When I say start early, I mean with everything. I made my first resum√©, and my LinkedIn page when I was a freshman in high school. While both may not have been very packed with valuable skills at that moment, learning what they were and what kind of things should go on there was important for me to see. My main point for starting early, is to start investing time into career development early. Both my brother and my dad emphasized this my freshman year of college. At the time, I thought they were crazy because all that “adulting” stuff was so far away, I just wanted to survive my first semester of college. I took their advice and made an appointment with our career development center on campus to have them review my resum√©, as well as properly teach me how to use LinkedIn to find Gustie alumni. It is never too early to start preparing for an internship, which is why I landed one my sophomore year. Not a lot of students think about getting one before junior or senior year, but future companies look for as much experience as possible. Lastly, start early when searching for internships. There are some companies that post their internship applications in the fall for the summer of the next year. I took advantage of knowing this, this year, and have been in the process of interviewing for summer 2019 HR internships. How nice would it be to already have your plans lined up?

2. Resume your Resumé

A resum√© is not like an assignment where once you do it, it is done, there is no pause button. Once you make one, it is important to constantly keep it clean and updated. I didn’t realize just how important a¬†resum√© is until I started interviewing. A¬†resum√© is a first impression, and if you don’t make it look professional, or sell yourself to the employer the first time, chances are you will be overlooked every time after that. Quite frankly, employers don’t care what you did in middle and high school, they care about what you are doing now. While some things that I did in high school were helpful to include, it is because of the skills it takes to be those things, not the title itself. The key to a stellar resum√© is how it looks, using power words, and having a strong describing sentence of what your role is for each bullet point listed. I’m glad that stayed up to date with my¬†resum√© and got to remove that I was a Russian dancer because that often led to many questions and stories of the furry hat I had to wear.

2. Get your stories straight

Before I learned to do this, interviews were absolutely terrifying to me. They were literally the living nightmare of being asked a question and having a total blank. Every single time, no matter how easy the question, I would be wiped of all my memories and sit there with nothing to say. I have learned that it is good to have around 3-5 stories that cover all behavioral questions. A man called PDI said “the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior in similar circumstances.” This is the reason interviewers ask the behavioral questions such as “tell me about a time where you showed great leadership despite being unclear of the rules,” “tell me about a time where you did not get along with another group member while working on a project, and what did you do?” and my personal favorite “tell me about a time where you succeeded, and how did you succeed?” After learning that I should come up with my stories my freshman year of college, that is exactly what I did. The problem was, that is all I did. I only came up with the stories, but didn’t know how to tell them to the employer without blanking out, losing my train of thought, or showing that they actually were a good example of what they were asking for. This changed when I learned STAR (L). Situation, Task, Action, Result, what was Learned! Applying this model to all of my stories gave them purpose, and showed how I used my skills to solve a problem. Interviewers like to see everything come full circle. They also like to see what action was taken to address the situation and task. The result shows how well you handled the situation, and even if it is not positive, add the L in and state what you learned. The STAR (L) method is introvert-proof, and is a guarantee to success in interviews.

4. Dress to impress

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This may seem like a given, but it is more important than people think. Dressing professionally not only makes you look good, but it shows the employer that you respect them, and are taking them seriously. My mom took me to get suits during my winter break of my sophomore year. I thought it was ridiculous because I was planning on not landing an internship, and not touching those suits for a long time. Turns out, I had to suit up for the interview I went to for the summer internship I thought I wasn’t going to have! Not only through this experience did I learn mother knows best, but also how much companies appreciate college students dressing professionally. I showed up to my interview rocking a black Calvin Klein pencil skirt and suit jacket with some black heels, and while I may have been the most dressed up one in the office, as they were in athletic shorts and flip-flops, they commented on how impressed, and how much they appreciated me dressing in business professional. It may not be the cheapest investment, but it is worth it because it pays off in the end (especially if that internship experience leads to a high paying job.) Not going to lie, suiting up for the first time felt like a Legally Blonde moment, but the sense of empowerment had me riding through that interview on a confidence high. Look good, feel good!

5. Get connected

Let’s talk networking. Getting experience is really all about WHO you know, not WHAT you know. Networking is essential nowadays, and a catalyst to landing good opportunities. As technology has been implemented into the workplace, this has changed the game. This is why it is so important to get on LinkedIn. Some may not like the idea of connecting with people online, or having to keep track of it, but it has helped me form great connections with Gustie alumni, and keep track of those who could potentially give me a referral, or some advice. It has also been a great tool for looking for internships, as companies directly put job postings on the site. Along with your¬†resum√©, LinkedIn is another one of those “first impression” type things, and a great way to sell yourself. Networking also takes place off-screen as well. A big part of it, is being willing to meet with people to gain more information, as well as asking around if anyone is looking for some help. This is how I got my summer internship, it had nothing to do with LinkedIn at all. My mom happened to do exercise classes with the CEO’s wife, and mentioned to her that I was looking for an internship. She mentioned it to her husband, and I was offered a position. Word travels, so don’t hesitate to get your name out there!

6. Do your research

When preparing for an interview, one must do their homework. There are several parts of this. First, it is so important to look up the company’s vision, mission, and values, as well as what they do because it could be what sets you apart. I have heard so many stories where people have interviewed with a place, yet they didn’t actually know what the company did- don’t be that guy!¬† Being able to ask questions about their values or related to their mission, shows them that you took the time and effort to learn more about the company, and are as serious about them as they are about you. They look for people who fit those values and can help them with their mission, so know what they are! It is also good to incorporate their values or mission into the questions you ask them at the end, it also shows you care! And yes, ASK THEM QUESTIONS, even if you don’t have any. A good go-to is “what about my resume stood out to you?” this is good to hear because it will help you in future interviews so you know what people look for. In the end, if you see what they stand for, and that doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, then you yourself are dodging a bullet without going through the pain of an interview. Second, closely look at the job description. Those descriptions are there to tell you what they are looking for, not just a clich√© description that they are looking for someone who can communicate, is driven etc…Use that description to your advantage, and make sure your stories highlight the skills they are looking for in the description! This may seem like a “well, duh” type of tip, but I went through so many interviews and realized I only skimmed that description, and didn’t use it to my advantage. Lastly, look up who will be interviewing you. We should all be good at this, as Facebook and Instagram stalking has trained us to do this. Employers will connect with you, and like you better, if you know things about them and connect with them on a more personal level. LinkedIn is a great way to do this, as you can see where they went to school, major, and past employment. I have connected with several interviews over the fact that we were both in the MIAC, their daughter did gymnastics, they were in a sorority or have the same major. It is the little things that count, as I always say, and those little things can be what set you apart from other candidates.

7. Find a Mentor

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Everyone needs a little help along the way, and while my dad and brother have been great mentors for me, it is important to have someone to look up to that is living out the path you are going down. Through LinkedIn, I have been fortunate enough to connect with a Gustie alum that was also a psychology major, and is now an HR Coordinator. I reached out to her for advice on how to get to where she is, and being able to get tips from a professional has been great for me..it also expands my network! Gustavus also offers a mentor program that pairs current students with Gustavus alum. These alum now work in all fields, all over the U.S. and are highly successful. This year, I was lucky enough to get paired with two mentors that will give me guidance this year, but also after this year, after I graduate, and beyond. I’m one that likes to do things on my own, but any chance I have to expand my network, and knowledge, sign me up.

8. Utilize your resources

download (6)I can guarantee that every college has some kind of career development program, or career advancing opportunities. Through Gustavus, I have utilized my career development center, the mentor program, as well as other events held on campus such as panels and speakers to hear advice from those who went through this. I am also involved in an organization called Gustavus Women in Leadership. It is an organization designed to help students learn skills to further their career search such as networking, interviewing, and provides us with opportunities to practice. GWIL puts on an annual conference in the cities to learn about influential women in business, and how they achieved success. They also have a GWIL bootcamp every year to really hone in and focus on these skills, as well as see them be put to action during a company tour of several companies in the cities. Don’t feel like you are immune to bad interviewing and networking skills like I did, because chances are, you need a lot more help than you think.

9. Sign yourself up

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While everyone hates spam emails, these kind of emails are not spam. I have signed up with sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor,Handshake, Careerbuilder, and LinkedIn to get daily updates of new jobs that become available. This is ultimately what got me started with applying for internships. I had no idea where to look or what to look for, but my career development center recommended this method to me. I will admit, it does get annoying getting so many emails from them sometimes, but it makes the process so much easier because it is filtered to your interests, and locations. It also gives me that motivation to apply for something rather than manually conducting searches myself. No more job boards or searches for “now hiring” signs in the window, it is all set out right in front of you!

10. Follow up

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This is going to be a very anticlimactic ending, but once you are done with an interview (phone or in person) give them a business card, and write a thank you note! It is one of those “little things” I always say can set you a part from others. I handed one interviewer a business card, and they were stunned because they had never seen a college student with business cards already. In additon, in a world of technology, it makes the value of handwritten notes much higher. Another reason to write a note is because interviewers talk to so many candidates in a day, it can be hard to remember a specific person. The thank you note makes them remember you, especially if you include in the message something you two talked about or connected over. Thank you notes MUST be timely! Send it ASAP, it speaks even more highly of you. You never know, the stationary you picked out might be so cute, that may have been the reason that you got the job (psych says that factors like this do influence decisions). Don’t be like me when I was younger, and not send out thank you notes until December even though my birthday was in July.

Starting this process of finding internships and jobs can be daunting to think about! Life becomes real very fast when you hit college and realize that it is time to start thinking about life after college. It helps to know what you are doing, in order to ease stress. All of this can feel so foreign, but just like it takes practice to get good at a sport, or takes studying to feel confident about a test, this isn’t any different. It is never too early to start this process, and I promise that if you do, by the time you hit junior year like me and are actually having to try to gain experience and think about a career, the process is more enjoyable.

Have a lovely Fall Break Gusties, and a great weekend to all my non-Gusties!
~Lauren

 

Lauren’s Halloween Candy: Ranked

With midterms and Halloween upon us, I thought this post was timely because stressed backwards spells desserts, and that always eases the pain a little bit. Growing up, the main reason I loved Halloween is because I got to run around my neighborhood with my best friends, with the goal of filling my Halloween candy bag to the very top. Ironically, that Halloween candy sat there for the entire year, filled with all the pieces I rejected. I won’t be shy to admit that I’ve got a sweet tooth, but it’s always been very selective ever since I was young. For this post, I thought I would reflect on my trick or treating days, even all the way back to one of my first outings where the guy opened the door and yelled boo, resulting in me screaming and running away crying. While I can’t have any of my childhood favorites anymore due to this lovely dairy free life, being able to think about why I liked what I liked back then was kind of funny! Here are all of my favorites, ranked, according to my elementary school¬† reasoning!


Starting with the worst…

10. Anything not made out of chocolate

Ever since I can remember, I have not liked any “fruity” sweets, or hard candies. This includes Skittles, Twizzlers, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, Laffy Taffy, Runts, Starbursts, Suckers, Swedish Fish, etc. For some reason, I just never got hooked on those kind of sweets, but also, I am one to bite Dum Dums and Jolly Ranchers right away because I don’t have the patience to let them dissolve. While I don’t mind the occasional taste time to time, I never crave it like some people do. I never understood why so many of my friends were obsessed with Skittles, and trading all their chocolate for all the Skittles they could find. In my elementary school head, Skittles were overrated little spheres just waiting to break your teeth because they’re so hard to bite into. I also never understood why everyone was infatuated with Starbursts, especially the pink ones (red ones are the best in my opinion). Back then, my classmates were eating all the Starbursts they could just so they could make a bracelet out of the wrappers.¬†It was a good system for me though, as I traded all of my Skittles and Starbursts for more chocolate. If given the option, I’d rather not taste the rainbow.

9. Nut Rolls

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I don’t know what I was thinking back then, but I never touched these things when they landed in my candy bag. I gave them straight to my mom because I thought they were boring candies made for adults. In my mind, Nut Rolls were the Raisin Bran of candy. I really was missing out back then because now that I have gotten older, and have apparently accepted that they are for “old people,” these babies are right up my alley. I don’t know if it is because I thought the name was weird, the packaging was boring, or the fact that I wasn’t a big caramel girl as much as I am now, but my elementary school self had no logical reasoning to not like them. I often wonder if today’s kids think the same way that I did back then. If so, I would definitely go back out another round and collect all the candies I thought were for oldies such as Nut Rolls, Pay Day, 100 Grand bars, Whoppers, Take 5, and Snickers. Besides, I still get mistaken for being in middle school, so I would fit right in.

8. Baby Ruth

 

Baby Ruth is similar to the Nut Roll situation, but more. This one is ranked number eight because it did have some chocolate in it, an obvious deal breaker for me at this point. There were several explanations as to why this was not one of my favorites growing up. The first is that I thought the name Ruth was for and old person, leading me to not eating it because I thought old person candy tasted gross. Second, I always saw my mom eating it, which had no connection to the old person thought, she was an exception. Since she ate them, this “obviously” meant I wouldn’t like how it tasted because she liked weird things that I didn’t (aka preferred a nice pork tenderloin over Wendy’s chicken nuggets). And lastly, I thought it had something to do with baseball. For the record, Baby Ruth was named after the creator’s daughter, not the legendary Babe Ruth. To little Lauren, that didn’t matter, it related too closely to baseball and reminded me of all the cold rainy games I logged to watch my brother. Sorry Baby Ruth, your odds were never really good in the mind of little Lauren.

7. Milky Way

As I am getting farther and farther into my favorites, I have started to see a common trend. I like things based on factors that have nothing to do with how they actually taste. Milky Way is ranked higher than this others because it came in a milk chocolate, and dark chocolate version. Most people in my grade back then despised dark chocolate, so I always ended up with all their Milky Ways. This is probably why I liked them better (there’s a psychological theory that says you liked something more when you have more exposure to it). That right there is probably the only logical part as to why I liked Milky Ways. The other big reason I liked Milky Ways more than others was because “Drops of Jupiter” by Train mentions Milky Way in the song, and every time it played, I thought of the candy bar, not the actual Milky Way.

6. Butterfinger

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There was a picture that I was trying to find for this one involving me standing in my swimsuit with dolphin goggles on my head, holding a half eaten Butterfinger. I believe I was about 6 or 7, but I remember always liking them. Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations. I would eat the Butterfingers out of my candy bag first because they were the easy to spot, bright yellow rectangles. Butterfinger would rank much higher on my list if it were not for the fact that every time I bit into it, it would crumble everywhere. Back then, I was still a neat freak like I am now, so those crumbles were frustrating and absolutely unacceptable to me, especially when they got on my favorite shirt from Justice.

5. Kit Kat

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Some of you reading this may be gasping at this point for having Kit Kats ranked this low instead of first, but little Lauren had other priorities back then. If given the choice now, Kit Kat would be ranked higher, but I had my reasoning back then apparently. The reason I liked Kit Kats was because I could do more with it than just eat it. This sounds so weird, but I liked breaking them apart (as one should do) instead of just biting into it with no regard to the perforation. I had a legit routine for eating my Kit Kats. After I broke them into two separate sticks, I would nibble off all of the chocolate encasing the wafer. I don’t know why, but it definitely made it last longer which was ok with me. To those of you that just bite into Kit Kats, it is time to stop, because that is not the proper Kit Kat etiquette.

4. Almond Joy

 

I am fully aware that Almond Joys don’t bring many people that much joy. I was known for being the only one in my second grade class to like these, which again, was a good system for me because I got everyone else’s. There are two kinds of people in this world, those who like coconut, and those who don’t. I have always been one to like coconut everything. My mom always used to sing a little jingle to me: “Almond Joy’s got nuts, Peter Paul Mounds don’t” and that is what I thought of every time I had one. Also a helpful tip for all y’all that don’t like almonds; the red Mounds ones don’t! Here is where the illogical reasoning comes in. Almond Joys would have ranked higher for me, but as a kid, the fact that the almond was not perfectly centered in the middle of the bar drove me absolutely insane. Out of all the Almond Joys I’ve had, I don’t think I have ever found one to live up to my expectations.

3. Twix

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I didn’t learn to like these until my middle school years because Twix were my brother’s favorite, and it was against the law to have the same favorite candy as my brother up until then. As my mind matured, I realized two things. First, I realized that saying I didn’t like caramel even though I never tried it before because I thought I wouldn’t like it in the first place was insane. Second, realizing that sharing something in common with Christopher wasn’t a bad thing. These two realizations led to Twix shooting to the top of my favorites list. The chocolate/caramel combo was a game changer, as Twix used to be at the bottom of my favorite’s list in elementary school. The reason it isn’t sitting at number one, is because there is one dynamic duo that can’t be beaten.

2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

That dynamic duo is peanut butter and chocolate. I would have been thrilled to get all Reese’s in my Halloween bag. I always gauged how well I was doing during my trick or treating outing by how many orange squares I had floating around. They had to be the cups, not the pieces! Usually, I never did get that many because they were everyone else’s favorite too. There is no question about whether or not the pumpkin shaped ones taste better than regular, they definitely do (nowadays they look nothing like a pumpkin). Hitting the jackpot for me was getting one of the special edition Halloween white chocolate peanut butter cups. I am a big peanut butter gal to this day, so it makes sense that Reese’s have been my favorite since basically day one. You may be wondering why Reese’s aren’t ranked number one since they are my favorite. As I mentioned earlier, this list is based on my elementary school reasoning for what I thought was my favorite at the time. So with that my number one favorite thing to get in my Halloween bag was…

1. Anything bigger than fun size

As a short person, any other time of the year I would be saying how fun size is better, but not on Halloween. Back then, it didn’t matter what it was, but if it was¬† bigger than the usual fun size bar, that meant I hit the jackpot for the night. Examples of this that I have gotten in the past are a microwave bag of popcorn, an apple, diet coke (I hate diet coke but the fact that it wasn’t candy was HUGE for me), king size Hershey Bar, toothpaste, and lastly I got a king size Nut Roll and thought it was the grand prize of the night (still gave it to my mom). My friends and I would keep note as to which houses would hand out the best things from the year before. Just like any other little kid, quantity was better than quality.

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There are my top 10 candies ranked from my elementary school candy bag. Since then, my taste buds have definitely changed, and some new products have come out that would without a doubt change the ranks of my bag. Some of my all time favorites now are Lindt Chocolate, and Cookies and Cream Hersheys… also can never go wrong with nature’s candy aka fruit (little Lauren would not be proud of the old person I have become). I have found it interesting that as new generations move into neighborhoods, Halloween treat giving starts to follow current trends. My house was always the “popcorn house” giving out the microwave bags, but recently we started giving the bags of Boom Chicka Pop kettle corn, which has become popular very fast. These past couple years I have also seen more granola bars, pieces of fruit, and non food items. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next couple years things like protein bars and protein shake packets were given out. It sounds ridiculous now, but I also never thought elementary school aged kids would have better iPhones than me right now. If this is what Halloween turns into, there is no question that I will be pulling my butterfly suit out of the closet and making the rounds for some free food!

I hope your Halloween isn’t as spooky as my midterms!

~Lauren