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I should be working on homework right now. I should be responding to emails. I should be editing, filming, thinking about new ideas and new content. But instead I’m sitting on my bed listening to the duet of both my new Sinatra record and the sound of Oprah and Gayle munching on hay.

Ever since school has started up, I’ve been slacking on my blog. I knew it would happen this way; it always does. My days get filled with work and school, and instead of sitting down between classes to write my next post, I’m running from one meeting to the next trying desperately not to be late.

It’s like this every year. I say that I’m not going to get as busy as I usually do. I say I’m going to set clear and strict boundaries for myself. But I’m in the perpetual habit of not knowing how to say “no”. And I think I’ve developed a serious case of FOMO.

The term “FOMO” was introduced to me this past summer. I don’t know how I wasn’t aware of it before; it practically defines my college existence. FOMO = Fear of missing out. And I’ve got it bad.

It wasn’t always this way. Although I’ve always been a relatively involved student, I also found myself saying “no” a lot back in high school. If I didn’t want to do something, I wouldn’t do it. And more significantly, I didn’t worry about the consequences.

My mother raised me to be an independent woman, and I definitely exuded an attitude of “always doing my own thing” in high school. But as I came upon graduation during my senior year and as I entered into college, I started to realize how much I had missed out on. I started to realize that there were so many experiences, people, and places I would never have the chance to repeat.

So half-way through my 1st year of college, I decided I would not miss out on the next four years of my life. I wouldn’t spend most of my days hanging out in my dorm room or the library. I would research and join clubs I was interested in. I would apply for jobs on campus and internships in the area. I would make the most of my college experience, and I wouldn’t say no to new experiences, new people, and new opportunities.

Well… I stuck to my word. And sophomore year just about killed me.

I was overcommitted, incredibly stressed, and unable to balance it all. There were at least a dozen times throughout the school year when I broke down and threatened to drop one or all of my commitments just so I could sleep a full 8 hours. Those breakdowns never actually resulted in me cutting down on anything. I would just cry out my frustrations and start all over the next day. At the end of sophomore year, I said no more. I will not repeat this again.

Which brings us here. It’s 11:04 pm. I have a class in the morning and I haven’t finished the book for it. I have four jobs on campus, 2 internships, and a blog to run. I also have friends and family that I adore very much that deserve my time and attention. Basically, it’s sophomore year all over again.

Except… It isn’t. Somehow this year isn’t going so bad at all. Even though my days are just as long as before, I have a new energy in me that I didn’t have before. I’m enjoying my involvements and commitments, and whenever I’m feeling incredibly stressed, I remind myself that this is what I chose. This is the life that I cultivate. My theory is that despite nothing slowing down, I’ve learned how to run alongside life a little better. I know how to prioritize and manage a busy schedule now.

I like being busy. I like running from thing to thing. I like meeting new people everyday. I like having each day look different than the next. I don’t know if this is exactly healthy, and a close friend of mine recently tried to be my psychologist and asked “Ali, have you asked yourself why you like to be so busy?” 

Yes. Yes, I have. And it’s a multifaceted answer. In some ways, I’ve always been this way. I’m a product of the “go go go” consumer/producer American mentality. In other ways, this is the best way I know how to heal. I’m more productive when I’m slammed. I’m more creative when I’m bouncing from thing to thing. These are the times when I know best how to take any pain from my past and turn it into art.

Call me a busy body. Call me overcommitted. Call me the physical embodiment of FOMO. I may be all those things, but I am much, much more.

Despite my never-ending commitments, I also find myself to be a thoughtful person. I’m thinking a lot more than I’m doing, and I am not afraid to slow down. Unlike my 18-year-old self, I know how to say no. It just turns out I like saying “YES” to life a whole lot more.

For those of you that follow my blog consistently, I apologize for my lack of content. That is indeed a negative affect of my busy schedule. But don’t you worry – I’m always thinking of new ideas, new posts, new concepts I want to explore.. And all these new experiences are giving me endless inspiration and countless stories that I can’t wait to create and share with you all.

Now I’ve just got to find the time…

 Do you experience FOMO? Tweet me some of your stories! 

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I’ve become the perpetual third wheel. The missing sock in a drawer full of pairs, the earring that has lost its match, the one burnt out headlight. And I’m totally okay with it. My best friend of nearly 15 years has been dating this new guy for about 6 months now, and I have to say that I’ve become really comfortable being the single friend in that group. I actually really like it.

If you feel like you’re the constant third wheeler, or you’re just bored with being on your own, here are 5 reasons to remind you why being single is the bees knees!

1.  You have a ton more free time.

Let’s be honest: being in a relationship is like having a full-time job. It takes commitment, communication, attention, effort, energy, and lots and lots of time. In fact, relationships are only truly successful if they are given the care that they deserve from both parties! But now that you’re single, you don’t have to worry about all the extra stress that comes from putting your energy into a significant other. You can just chill. You can spend your extra time exploring new hobbies, hanging out with friends, catching up with family. Your don’t have to feel like your days off are tied down to one specific person. You can go with the flow of your life.

2. You can focus on yourself.

Often times, focusing on yourself when you’re dating somebody else can come across as entirely selfish. When you’re not tied down, you have the opportunity to truly dive into who you are, and who you want to be. You can explore yourself independently, and really discover your goals and aspirations outside of being in love with another human. Because it’s true, being in love can be super distracting from the many other things we want out of life. It can take you away from the endless meaningful opportunities than lie in front of us daily. Right now, you don’t have to worry about that!

3. You don’t have to “check in” on anyone.

You don’t have to feel obligated to see what anybody’s up to, and you can completely check out for a while if you want to. You don’t owe anybody a phone call or text explaining what you’ve been up to the last few hours; you don’t have to worry about giving detailed descriptions of your day; you don’t have to talk to anybody if you don’t want to. You are free of emotional and romantic obligation to a partner. Phew!

4. You’re probably going to save a lot of money.

In my past relationships, I’ve always been the type of girlfriend to really spoil her partner. I’ve always been a really hard worker, and when I’m dating someone who identifies as a man, I try my best not to conform to the bullshit notion that he is supposed to pay for everything. And let me tell you – that can be expensive! Being single allows me to save more money, as well as treat myself more. And it can do the same for you! When you want to buy a book that’s been on you to-read list for a while, you can just go and buy it. When you want that new shirt that you saw while window shopping the week before, you can go back and grab it. Not that you’re not able to do any of those things when you’re taken, but still! Everything adds up, and because you have one less birthday and anniversary gift to worry about, you have a little more cash in your pocket.

5. You can enjoy the flirtatious fun of being single.

If you meet a cute boy, you can flirt it up as much as you want. If you start to crush on that girl that sits next to you in class, there’s nothing holding you back from letting her know. If you want to go out on a bunch of dates and have a hoot, you’re free to do so. You can give your number to whoever you want, and you can talk to whoever you want. There’s a lot of freedom and fun that comes from being unattached, and there comes a lot of opportunity to meet a lot of new people.

As I read through this list, I laugh a little at the fact that it kind of sounds like I’m trying to convince myself that I like being on my own. The truth of the matter is that there was a point in time when I really didn’t. I felt insecure and unloved and unsure about myself. But I am so grateful to say that I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel really, really free.

Until I meet someone who makes me want to leave the single life behind, I’m going to dance, laugh, smile, and enjoy my incredible life all on my own! Because it feels good. It really does.

This is some of the most exciting news I’ve had to share in a while. I bought two new furry friends! I’m happy to introduce to you all… OPRAH & GAYLE!

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I’m sure most of you understand the reference, but if not… well… have you been hiding under a rock? Gayle is Oprah’s (you better know who Oprah is) best friend and biggest cheerleader and companion. Back when Oprah was on air, Gayle made many appearances and the two did a lot of traveling together around the world. They’re quintessential “besties” and I just had to name the two guinea pig sisters after those wonderful women.

Before you ask, yes OF COURSE I made an Instagram account for my new furry family members (@ogguineas)! I have a feeling the are going to be the voice of their generation. 😉

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There are those days when I don’t feel like socializing or putting on pants. That’s when I either a) lock myself in my apartment with a Modern Family DVD and thin crust pizza b) put on a skirt, grab a cup of coffee, and suck it up. It’s more often the latter due to the never-ending responsibilities that life hands me (class, work, deadlines, due dates, friendships, internships, family obligations, the list continues on and on and on…), but there have been many moments when I wish I could crawl under my covers for hours at a time and not see the light of day. There have been some moments when I’ve done just that. Because I just. can’t. think. anymore.

I have a brain that works at an impossibly fast rate, bouncing from point A to point B to point F to point Z. It’s a distraction, and often times I have trouble finishing the project I started because I’m thinking about the other 1,000 goals and projects and ideas I have. I have wondered before if I suffer from an attention “disorder”, but I have not been medically diagnosed and I don’t think I’m at the point of needing medication. More than anything, I take it as a personality quirk.

 If you know me personally, you also know that I can talk about a million miles a minute. And although I articulate myself well (thanks to years and years of acting classes and tongue twisters), it goes to show how easily my mind bounces around. Which can be very, very problematic. Sometimes I wonder how I ever get anything done.

So I’ve come up with a list for those bouncy, all-over-the-map, mind-racing-a-million-times-a-minute kind of people. I know you’re out there! I know I’m not alone! And if we can establish some good habits, we may actually finish something before its deadline. *Knock on wood*

When you’re crunched for time, when you have a deadline, or when you just want to be goddamn productive, do this:

Put away your phone.

1. *GASP* I know! It’s crazy to think that the technological extension of our bodies will be gone for any point in time (I mean we practically sleep with Siri), and you don’t even have to put it on silent if you’re expecting an important phone call or text, but put. it. aside. Turn up the volume if necessary, but then place it across the room from you and don’t pick it up unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Find your sanctuary.

2. Find out which kind of atmosphere you’re most productive in. For me, it’s a coffee shop or café. Some people cannot work with any noise whatsoever, but I like being surrounded by hustling and bustling people. It actually helps me focus better than being in a quiet library or in my own home. That’s actually where I am right now to write this post, so find your sweet spot, and go to it.

Find out if you work better together, or alone.

3. Do not hang out with distracting people when trying to get something done. For me, this is primarily a problem when I’m studying or doing homework. There are some friends that I can study with and get a lot done. In fact, I prefer to study with people who are in my same classes because it’s really helpful to have other minds to bounce ideas off of, but if you do not have those kinds of individuals to surround yourself with, then opt for being alone. There have been far too many times when I’ve sat down to study and ended up chatting with my buddy across from me for three hours and then had to stay up ’til 3 am finishing a paper. No bueno.

Give yourself a break.

4. Give yourself breaks and time them. How often and for how long is up to you, but for me, I give myself a 5 minute break every 30 minutes if I’m working on an intense project or paper. I cannot concentrate well after about 30 minutes of pure focus anyway, so giving myself a break to either chat, check my phone, or browse the interweb usually helps me get back on track. But that’s only, only if I set a timer for my breaks. Otherwise those 5 minutes turns into 50…

Say goodbye to Facebook stalking.

5. Temporarily deactivate your Facebook. I don’t find this necessary unless I’m facing a particularly difficult finals week… but for some of you, Facebook is the ultimate tool for procrastination. If you are one of those people, just temporarily deactivate your account and don’t reactivate it until you are free from finals or midterms. Just that action alone will probably save you a lot of time.

Caffeinate, caffeinate, caffeinate.

6. Drink coffee (but not too much). This seems obvious coming from a Seattleite, but seriously… Coffee is my life and it helps me stay energized and focused as long as I don’t overdo it. And if by accident I do, then I end up being far more jittery and don’t get anything done. Be careful… but treat yourself to that double shot vanilla latte!

Reward yourself.

7. And lastly, give yourself goals to achieve and reward yourself when you do. They can be as small as getting yourself a treat after you finish at least half of your term paper, or they can be bigger like buying that extremely cozy sweater you’ve been dying to have if you get an A on your term paper. Either way, set yourself up with a reward system and stick to it. Treat yo’self.

Those are some of my tips and tricks for staying on track and gettin’ shit done. As I enter my junior year of college, this has been something I’ve been thinking about… Along with about a million other things… And I hope it helps you, too! Hey! Kudos to you for finishing this entire blog post without getting distracted. Now get off the internet, and get back to work! But promise you’ll come back and visit me soon. xx.

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I have a campus job that allows me to meet new people, talk about my college experience, and occasionally get homework done or scroll through the interweb. I can’t complain! It’s the perfect part-time gig during college. Lately, I’ve seen lots of new faces around. Usually, this is a rarity. I go to a pretty small university, and most of the faces I see around campus, I’ve seen at least once before. But the new faces actually don’t come as a surprise seeing that it’s the beginning of a new school year and freshmen are swarming in every direction – trying to find class, trying to find friends, trying to fit in. I find myself chuckle with familiarity.

This on-campus job provides me with a lot of opportunity for people watching. My coworkers and I get exposed to a lot of situations and stories, as college life plays out right before our eyes. The confused, excited, and overwhelmed expressions I see planted on the faces of new college students passing by has gotten me thinking about my freshman year – some things I did wrong, some things I did right, and everything in-between. I get a lot of questions about college life from my readers and viewers, so I thought I’d share a list of freshman year “do’s and don’ts” that may help ease the transition a bit.

Do push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If that means joining your school’s improv team, sitting with strangers during lunch, or reaching out to get to know your professors, just do it. This is something I wish I had done a lot more of during my first year of college, and I’m insisting you do it now. The absolute worst thing that could happen by doing this is that you feel slightly awkward or uncomfortable, but more likely than not, this is how you’re going to meet your social circle, this is how you’re going to bond with your favorite professor, this is how you’re going to have an absolute ball during your 4 short years of college.

Don’t isolate yourself by clinging to the first friend group you meet. Most people completely change their social circles throughout the first year or two of school. Don’t attach to the first group of people you meet without leaving wiggle room for new friends and new experiences. If you authentically connect with people, then be grateful for meeting them and nourish the friendships! But make sure you put yourself out there to meet others. Widen your social circle and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people in your classes, on your hall, or in your study groups.

Do go to your professor’s office hours. College is fucking expensive – RIDICULOUSLY expensive. You are paying a lot of money for this slip of paper you’re going to receive at the end of these 4 years, so make sure it’s worth it. Of course you’ll learn a lot in actual classrooms or lecture halls, but I found that some of my most fruitful discussions and lessons have come from going to my professor’s office hours and just chatting with him/her. A lot of the time I go in with specific questions for assignments or tests, yes, but I also try to build a bridge between my professor and I, and get to know them and their story. I know the culture of larger universities may frown upon this, but screw the people who do not see the value and importance of taking advantage of your college experience as much as possible. It’s going to fly by – so make every penny count.

Don’t jump into a relationship your first month of school. I know, I know… There are so many new people! There are cute boys and girls every way you turn, and you want to explore the dating scene and find your college sweetheart. Well, don’t. Focus on your friendships first and foremost when it comes to your social life. Those are far, far, far more important than the cute baseball player that sits next to you in your English 101 class. You don’t want to be the person who gets wrapped up in the first romance you come across because it’s exciting and new. Give yourself time to settle into college and connect with friends, then open yourself up to dating. If you do, however, meet somebody you just can’t pass up (because it definitely happens!), make sure you don’t make them the center of your world. I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes college students of all ages make when they’re young and in love.

Do go to college events. Your university will have some kind of student-led group that plans activities and events on and off campus. You may think you’re too cool for school, and you’d rather hit up that party down the block instead of going to a movie night in one of the dorms, but I’m telling you… These events are often way more fun than you realize, and whatever party you’re going to, it’ll probably be filled with annoying frat boys and shitty drinks. I’m not saying to refrain from the party scene entirely – I’m just saying that it’s important to balance it with college events that will allow you to meet and connect with sober individuals.

Don’t act like somebody you’re not to gain approval from a certain social circle. Every college freshman is confused out of their mind, and is searching for some kind of social interaction to make the transition easier. Everybody’s putting up a front and protecting their egos, and that’s natural and okay. But make sure you’re not doing it so much that you’re losing your identity and bonding with the wrong group of friends for you. I think the best way to avoid this is to connect with people who have the same interests as you. Join clubs, go to sporting events, and reach out to people who you have stuff in common with. Ignore the bitchy girls on your floor that think they’re the hottest things since sliced bread, and make room for the people who will be super impressed by the collection of Harry Potter posters you have plastered on your dorm room wall (this was definitely me my freshman year).

All right.. I’m stepping down from my soapbox. Above all, don’t worry too much about anything. Give yourself time to settle in, call home often to check in, and keep reminding yourself to make the most of your college years. I’m halfway through and I feel like I was in my 1st year orientation last week. I’m here to tell you that the rumors are true, though… College has the potential to be some of the best years of your life. Get ready for one hell of a ride!

If you have any more questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to leave them below or tweet me so we can chat! Best wishes and best of luck to all new college students! xx.