A millennial’s ode to complaining

If you know me well you know that I am a relentless complainer, especially when it’s hot outside. My dad is the first to remind me that air conditioning is a luxury, not a privilege. I know, I know – I’m lucky to have grown up not knowing air conditioning. The Victorian Era of Cape May must’ve been a hot and sweaty one.

Of course, there were the two weeks of summer when we rented a beach house without air conditioning. I said to my mom the other day, I don’t remember how I survived that when it was hot. Her reply? “Rachel, you complained. A lot!” I guess it must’ve been so hot I blocked it out of my memory.  Basically, anytime that I would get overheated, I would have a panic attack (as one does) and fret until I cooled down. Yeah, sounds like me.

Yeah, sounds like me. Coming from the girl who would crank the AC in her high school classes, without the teachers noticing. Granted all that did was run cold water through the vents…they found another way to make high school more miserable. I also spent four years of college complaining to anyone who would listen, that the classrooms were always set as if my grandma was in control of the thermostat – set to a minimum of a balmy 75 degrees.

Millennials complain about trivial, “first world problem” issues. But doesn’t everyone? We complain and get labeled as entitled.

I’m a millennial and I complain frequently. It’s kind of our thing…but people complain about millennials too.  Here’s a list of 6 complaints which we are “supposedly” sick of hearing. In my opinion…speak for yourself. Oh, and while I’m on my soapbox, I’d like to say that I’m not killing the napkin industry and I’m not buying so much avocado toast I won’t be able to afford a house…I just won’t be able to afford one anyway because of the economy.

 

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Oh look, I’m using napkins. Surprised?

Millennials complain about real issues too. Like low pay and difficulty finding a job in your field of study.

I think the reason millennials are pictured as “complaining” all the time has to do with the high expectations we have these days. My parents have two houses, so I expected I would have two houses. My Amazon Prime says my package will be here in two days, I expect it to be here in two days. But the expectations I grew up with have changed –especially because of the economy (I know, how many times am I going to repeat that phrase). The guy who said millennials buy too much avocado toast also says some people won’t even own a house in their lifetime. And maybe that will be my case. I just don’t know.

But I think that fact of potentially never owning a home is the exact right that I, as a millennial, has to complain. I want to be a homeowner (whether it is a house or a townhouse) and get the experience that my parents had. Get married, have a nice car, never have to worry about finances (well…).

Low pay is a serious issue, one that every generation has faced. Not all millennials work in high paying jobs. We also aren’t the ones who fucked up the economy (not the point, but just saying). Our families were (and still continue to be) impacted by the 2000s recession.

According to an article from Elite Daily, “Millennials face particularly high rates of unemployment and aren’t making as much money as their parents. That helps explain why roughly 32 percent of millennials are also living with their parents.”

It seems like the odds are stacked against us millennials. Finding a job in your field after college graduation can be tricky. Some people have student loans to pay off, so good luck with buying a house. And if you get a job, you’re lucky to make over minimum wage.

For those of us millennials who choose to work in our field knowing it’s a tough industry (hello journalism, I’m looking at you), we know making ends meet might require more than one steady job.

Yes I’m a millennial and I complain a lot, but I’d like to think I’m not entitled. I want to work and I enjoy the payoff of my hard work. And you know, not be a renter forever. I’m not above complaining and sometimes only focusing on my issues, but overall I want to succeed and be happy. Is that too much to ask?

Got Skin Cancer?

I live at the beach and probably one assumption many people have about me is that I spend a lot of time on the beach. And you would be so very wrong!

I probably can count on one hand the number of times I have sat on the beach in the last few months – most of the times have been fairly recent.

It has less to do with the fact I work full time; it’s a combination of being unwilling to sit on the beach when it is hot and the heat is intense, as much as knowing that I have to slather a thick layer of sunscreen on before I meander the few blocks down the street to the beach. It’s a lazy millennial thing, but it is a habit I try to be steadfast about changing for the better.

I’m a pasty white girl and skin cancer runs in my family. Finding out a family member has skin cancer was the wake-up call that I needed to be better about constantly wearing sunscreen when I’m going to be outside. I always wear sunscreen on my face and I have even started using hair products with sun-shielding ingredients. The last thing you want is a sunburn on your scalp.

The three reasons I think that millennials avoid wearing sunscreen include (but is definitely not limited to): sunscreen is expensive, we forget it in the car and putting on sunscreen is time-consuming and sticky.

Not all sunscreens are expensive. Stores like Target and CVS have both brand name and store brand sunscreens. And 9 times out of 10, the store brand is cheaper and has the same ingredients. Of course, there are expensive brands and “designer sunscreen,” but really you don’t have to shell out $30 when you can spend $10 on a bottle. The price isn’t increasing the amount of sun coverage you’re going to get.  So skip the expensive Sephora designer brands and stick to your budget.

Chances are if you forget something in the car after you’ve dragged your beach bag and chair down to the water, you’re probably not going back to get whatever you forgot. But if you left your sunscreen in the car, going back for it has two benefits. First, you should not only apply sunscreen before or when you get to the beach, but you should also liberally reapply every few hours. However, the real reason you don’t want to leave it in the car is that the heat changes the composition and efficacy. Leaving your sunscreen in the car is going to make the sunscreen weak and not protect you properly. Don’t waste your money and leave it in the hot car (and don’t leave your kid or dog in there either, for what it’s worth).

And last but not least, yuck, sunscreen is sticky and messy! Well, I can’t exactly disparage that from the truth. I hate putting on sunscreen and then sticking to the seat of my car – which is why I sometimes skip going to the beach in general. But there are sunscreens on the market that are now being advertised as non-sticky or non-greasy or no mess! I can’t say if that is true, but I also have had pleasant results with all the Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreens. It is my go-to sunscreen to use all summer.

I also like to use make up products that have sunscreen built into them – even though it’s usually a low SPF between 15-20 (30 if you’re lucky). And as I mentioned, don’t forget your scalp…also think about your lips and hands! For your hands, I found a great hand lotion from SuperGoop called Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckthorn. It’s great for dry hands and it is so lightweight.

And last but not least, you have to watch your moles. It sounds gross and frankly, I think it kind of is…but checking your moles and regular check-ups at the dermatologist are what saved the lives of my family members. Even I have had full body checks (yes it is cringey but the docs are there to save you not judge you) and have had to get moles removed. It’s one of my least favorite topics to discuss, but it is important.

mole test glamour mag

Every year since 2006, Glamour Magazine publishes a mole chart that has saved the lives of nearly 90 readers who identified their skin cancer from the pictures. The ABCDE’s might just alert you to a mole that has changed and needs attention.

If you take away anything from this post, it is that I hope you’ll remember to wear sunscreen and go to your dermatologist at least once a year. If you can prevent skin cancer, why not? A little sunscreen goes a long way to self-care.

Farmville 2.0

It’s crazy to think sometimes that from the age of 2 you start pre-school and you often don’t stop going to school until you graduate from college, at age 22. Twenty years of schooling in the making, to put you out in the world to find a job (and probably not one in your degree field, but that’s a blog post for another day).

 

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When you ask your mom for a pre-school pic and this is the best she can do. Cute though.

 

I was supposed to go away to college. Specifically, Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. I know, I know, it’s the same name as that once addictive Facebook game, but trust me – the town was not as fun as the game.

I knew I wasn’t ready to leave home, but I was vehemently against going to community college. I wanted to go to George Mason University, which was two miles away from my house. I only got into two colleges, Longwood and Virginia Wesleyan University (it was private and even my scholarship didn’t help). Reality was, I was only left with Longwood as my choice and I dreaded move in day.

Fast forward to August 2012, when I left for Longwood. I was miserable, a mess and arguably the most resistant to change I have ever been. I’ll say that the resistance against me leaving was futile and that is why I ended up coming home. It was a miserable Tuedsay-Saturday for my whole family. I knew move in day wasn’t going to be a happy day, but I didn’t realize it was going to be a nightmare.

 

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Record for fastest assembled & unassembled dorm room? Span of 5 days.

 

I came home and had to reevaluate what I wanted to do about school. I was lucky and was able to reach a deal that would get me into GMU. I went to community college for a semester and then transferred to GMU  for the remainder of my time in college.

Yes, all of that was necessary background information to know before you understand why I feel like I’m living Farmville 2.0 right now.

I recently moved into a house with roommates, so I am finally getting the away from home experience as well as also having roommates experience that I didn’t have when I lived at home while in college. Living in Cape May is easy because I love the beach and the town’s familiarity is comforting. Plus with friends and family close by, it’s not as isolating.

I wasn’t resistant to having a roommate in college, I actually would have had a wonderful roommate in my friend Abbey, who blogs at Idle Ginger Manuscript (yes we are still friends). I was resistant (at first) to having roommates in Cape May, because it would mean living with strangers.

But when I found a place that needed a third roommate, it was a beggars can’t be choosers situation. And I’m glad I went along with it because Chelsea and Max are awesome people. The place I’m living in is a farm style house, complete with 1.5 acres of land, two goats and two chickens. The house however, does not have air conditioning.

 

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My room in the new house. It’s been fun to get new furniture to decorate.

 

Another part to Farmville 2.0 is living without air conditioning. When I was supposed to go to Longwood, I specifically requested the only dorm on campus with air conditioning. Virginia heat can get ugly and I don’t know how the dorm would have felt had I stayed into the heat. But now I’m living in a house without air conditioning – but I do have a window unit in my room.

I’ve never been one to handle heat well and when my room was 85 degrees the other night, I wasn’t happy. But The AC unit did it’s best and by the time I fell asleep it had cooled down to mid-seventies. But I fell asleep and that’s all that matters. It’s an adjustment for sure, but it is worth it to get to stay and work in Cape May fulltime.

I think the thing I’ve learned since I’ve moved to Cape May from Virginia and then from one place to another in Cape May, is that you can’t always be comfortable. Part of life is trying new things and being more open to that – and as cliche as that sounds, I’ve come to realize that not all change is bad if you put yourself in a positive mindset – which is something I lacked during Farmville 1.0.

*Bonus fact – for as small as I thought Farmville was at the time I moved there – the 2010 census said the population was 8,216 people. Versus Cape May in 2010 was 3,607 people. I think it’s all about perception.

College lite

Before I moved here, I came to visit in October for two weeks. One night while I was watching TV on the couch, I had a moment of panic. Did I really want to move here full time? Would I be lonely and isolated during the offseason? Would I miss my friends and family so much that I would spend too much time being homesick? The moment passed as quickly as it came, and I brushed it off as an unrelated, side effect of worrying about my impending wisdom tooth surgery

And as I biked to dinner a few nights ago to meet friends, I realized that in the few months I’ve been living here, that I have never once felt isolated or lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family, friends, and cats a ton, but I haven’t felt that homesick or panic again.

 

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Solo adventure outside of Cape May.

 

When you don’t go away to college and live at home, you miss out on an experience that is “supposedly” life-changing, according to some people. And sure, not having parents to supervise your every move and hover over you at all times might be nice, but I never had a problem with that.

But now I feel like I’m doing “college lite” without the actual schooling. I’m working full time as a front desk clerk at a motel and spending my off time reading, writing, binging on Netflix/TV and going to the beach. I have friends here, albeit not exactly in my age range (which is a fact, not an insult, because it doesn’t make a difference).

Is this where I saw myself after graduation? Yes, definitely. I was prepared from my summers here, what it would be like to be alone in a big house. And I like it and it has worked for me. Of course, just as I get used to it, I am moving out in the next few weeks – into a house with two really nice roommates. A must do, in order to stay through the rental season of summer and continue to live and work here.

 

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Backyard of the new place.

 

I’ve never claimed to be a typical millennial. I have often done things an unorthodox way.  And I’m about to make an even bigger change in my life than moving to New Jersey, bigger than starting a healthier lifestyle and bigger than leaving pretty much the life I’m used to living behind. I’m moving into a house with roommates, on 1.5 acres of land that is also home to two chickens, two goats, and a dog.

So needless to say, I have quite an interesting summer ahead of me and there will be a lot to write about.

I’m excited!

 

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Mom and her new goat friend aka my new roommate.

 

New blog, who dis?

So the title of this post might be a little cringeworthy, but it is a play on millennial saying, “new phone, who dis?”

I know some of my readers will be friends and family, who I appreciate following along.  But for those who are new followers, I wanted to let you know a little more about me, why I chose to be a writer and what this blog’s overarching theme and goal will be currently.

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Name tag arrived.

I graduated cum laude with a B.S. in communications & concentration in journalism from George Mason University. I have always been drawn to reading and writing, and always hoped to be a published author. I credit my middle school newspaper teacher (shout out to you, Jess), for getting me interested in becoming a journalist.

I knew from the moment that I saw my name as a byline, I was a goner. I was certain I wanted to head into the future of a journalist. Despite rumors of it being a dying industry, I persisted and took as many journalism courses and attended as many journalism conferences as I could.

Choosing the right path in college to get into the industry was important. I wanted to go to a big journalism school, but because of my anxiety prohibiting school attendance, I didn’t quite have the grades to be accepted. I ended up making a deal with GMU to go to our local community college for a semester, earn good grades, and then transfer over to GMU for my degree. Which is exactly what I did, and it was the perfect choice in the end. Which I can honestly say now since I’m done with school.

I’ve been writing for various publications (see about me) and blogging since 2009. My cat lifestyle blog is Sandpiper Cat Blog, which just celebrated its six anniversary.

Writing is my passion and despite that, it is what some call “a competitive field” (aka, lotsa luck finding writing, should’ve picked a more lucrative career), I believe that I have the drive and passion for making it work out in the long run.

I’ve always been about taking the unorthodox road in life. Starting in a job that isn’t exactly in your field is not unusual for a new college graduate. I wanted to work in the town that I love and live by the beach, so it was a small trade off for not starting out writing full time. Plus, being a freelance writer gives me more opportunities for different kinds of writing. And uh, figure out my “backup plan,” which so many people have asked me about…and by my backup plan, I mean what writing niche I plan to find.

This blog will be a place where I can share my millennial perspective, in my own words and learn to make my own way.

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Beach life is best.