Sunday, December 30, 2012

My New Year's Resolution is Better Than Yours

The sun rises and sets 365 and 1/4 times before the Earth reaches a complete revolution around the Sun, and a lot of stuff has happened on this little planet between those 4,540,000,000 journeys.

At midnight this Tuesday, we begin a new orbit, assuming that a meteor doesn't crash into us. (And if that were the case, the government would assemble a ragtag team of dudes led by Bruce Willis who would save everyone, so don't worry.) 2012 will become 2013. Despite all the symbolism people attribute to it as far as new beginnings and resolutions go, the new year really means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. That is, unless you own a gym (in which case you should expect to profit from impressionable fat people looking to drop $$$$ on the use of communal stationary bikes until mid-February) or a frozen yogurt bar (in which case those same impressionable fat people will resist the urge to eat their feelings until mid-February).

I don't think I need to spend a lot of time convincing you that New Year's resolutions are futile because they don't really work, because we all know it. The reason for this is that they are based on the following mentality: We assume we'll be better at [weight loss/saving money/less stress/not picking at split ends/laying off the liquor] because culturally a new year gives us a "clean slate," but despite that our brains haven't actually been conditioned to learn the skills necessary to reach these goals. In addition, when it comes to resolutions we tend to expect nothing but perfection beginning on January 1st, and once we make a mistake we feel that we've ruined it and just give up. The beginning of a new year is, in reality, just the beginning of another new day--why not live each day with a resolution? Why wait for a four-digit-number to dictate when we make a change?

Most popular New Year's resolutions are completely off the mark because people are out-of-touch with what makes them happy in life, or what makes those 365 and 1/4 day-increments "good" years or "bad" years. Losing weight, getting out of debt, curbing negative thoughts, attempting to salvage one's over-processed hair, and not drinking a bottle of white Zinfandel in bed alone every night are all good goals to have that can increase our quality of life. But if we don't ever achieve them, then what's the point?

I've been making resolutions since I was about 14, and I could never stick with them. I find that it gets depressing. So I'm making a resolution about resolutions: This year, I resolve to do good things, but specifically good things that are attainable, that don't involve box-checking or scales or measurements. I really just want to point to 2013 and say, "Yeah, that was a great year." I know myself, and I know how to make that happen, and it probably has nothing to do with a jeans size or a bank account or how shiny my hair is.

The following are some of the most common New Year's resolutions that I've turned upside down with my new mindset:

  • Get Skinny: I'm about to leave the United States for 27 months, and that means leaving cheeseburgers, burritos, curry, pizza, barbecue, sushi, subs, fried chicken, frozen yogurt, mozzarella sticks, enchiladas, wontons, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, Oreo truffles, get the picture. Why would I get on that plane without relishing all the foods I love beforehand? And why would I turn up my nose at the delicious Mediterranean cuisine my host family will serve to me in Albania? What good is it for me to stress over calories-from-fat ratios when basil, feta cheese, braised lamb, olive oil, and baklava that I've never experienced is within my reach? Bring on the Peace Corps 15, I know I can lose it later.
  • Get Rich: I already know this year will not be about making lots of money, since I'll be in a volunteer position, and that my student loans (which thankfully I can defer because of my service) will be waiting for me in 2015. But the good news is that I have PLENTY of experience in being poor. (When I say "poor," of course, I mean the upper-middle-class-white-person version of poor, not the real version with the no food and stuff.) You could probably say I'm an expert in being cheap and grumpy. Being poor means people can't ask me for money (unless you work for Greenpeace on a college campus), which is great. Not having a lot of money to spend means less distractions and less responsibilities. A good situation to be in when you're a single 23-year-old trying to soak up the world before real life starts.
  • Get Busy: I'm interested to see how I'll deal with leaving a culture that is so obsessed with work and productivity and appearing "busy." When I ask RPCVs (returned Peace Corps Volunteers) for advice about my service, the most common answer is to take it slow and soak up my experience without worrying about the grunt work. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm really bad at taking just about anything "slow." I guess this will be the part of my anti-resolution that doesn't come so naturally.
  • Get "It": More than a few people actually resolve to get a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife in the coming year. I find this to be a little desperate, because I am a firm believer that those things occur only when you are content with yourself--as evidenced by everyone I've ever known who has participated in a healthy relationship. As I've made the decision to be a PCV, where I will be far away from anyone I've ever known, my goal is to fall in love with myself. As sad and clichĂ© as that sounds, I want to get to know me a little better, learn how to deal with myself when I'm a cranky bitch, and figure out what I really want and need. (Naturally, I want to take myself to dinner and give myself presents, too.) But then there's this.
My life is going to change drastically this year, so I figured my approach to life could stand to change too. I'll see you in 2014 possibly a little thicker, scrappier, and hopefully happier.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pinterest Creepiness Scale

Let me start off by saying that I LOVE PINTEREST. I am on it probably more than any other site except Twitter. It's just so...pretty. I love finding beautiful clothes and ideas for hair and makeup and memes and witty quotes and recipes and pictures of lightning storms and other cool stuff. There are so many things I never would have known about if it weren't for Pinterest, and in some ways it has actually made my life better. But like with all social networking, I have a "love-hate" relationship with Pinterest--and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

There is definitely a Pinterest "culture." It is a female-dominated site and, as with anything female-dominated, it is necessary to make life look glamorous and perfect. There is nothing ugly on Pinterest. Every workout tip features a toned, ponytailed beautiful woman smiling way too widely for someone mid-burpee, every crockpot recipe is extensively photographed with a $2500 camera balanced by a housewife with a cutesy blog, and every comment underneath an armpit stain-removal technique boasts, "OMG!!! BEST THING EVER, DOING THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!!!" So. Much. Enthusiasm! Pinterest, like every other social media site, allows us to be ourselves but simultaneously refuse to acknowledge the realities of life. And it's fun, okay?!

But, as is the case with every other corner of the Internet, I regularly scroll across pins that make me cringe and/or roll my eyes. Unfortunately some elements of the female-dominated Pinterest culture include obsessions with unrealistic fantasies ("dream" weddings, "dream" homes, etc.), perpetuating annoying stereotypes, and coveting wildly expensive objects ("WANT"). This culture can make me crazy...but not so much so that I'll stop pinning! :)

In summary, here is my take on Pinterest: every pin you see falls somewhere on the scale of completely awesome to objectionably creepy. For your reading pleasure, I have outlined my personal awesome-creepy Pinterest scale, while acknowledging that the creepy stuff finds its way even onto my own boards at times:

Completely Awesome
  • Memes, Ecards, funny pictures, etc.
  • Food Porn (mostly cheesecake recipes)...right next to the "Fitness" board, where it belongs
  • Fashion, fashion, FASHION!
  • Cute animals
  • Beauty, especially makeup
  • Portraits of sexy famous people
  • "Simple" hair tutorials that are actually pretty simple
  • Devices & gadgets that make things easier/more comfortable/etc.
  • Links to blogs & useful sites
  • Gift ideas
  • Art & Photography

Kinda Cool
  • Beautiful vacation spots that you can't afford :-/
  • Crochet bathing suits that look great on the model but you'd probably never wear
  • DIY projects that are somewhat useful
  • Cheesy motivational quotes in cool fonts & colors
  • Cheesy quotes about "life" with smiley people and/or sunsets in the background
  • Workouts that you will never actually get around to doing
  • Outfit ideas that are actually pretty basic but the girl wearing it looks hot

A Little Weird
  • Mason jars? Lots and lots and lots of mason jars
  • Replace EVERYTHING with Greek yogurt
  • Parenting advice pinned by people who are actually parents (You wanna trust the Internet on this one?)
  • Fancy, expensive wedding ideas re-pinned by someone who is engaged and probably can't afford such a wedding
  • Uncomfortable family portrait poses
  • Crafts that take way too long to make
  • DIY projects that aren't actually that useful
  • Gigantic floating princess-cut diamond engagement rings

Irritating/Slightly Disturbing
  • Those long-as-hell pins that go on for like 5 pages and get in the way of all the other pins
  • Pins that get you really excited but when you click on it the 502 error message comes up saying the link is broken/spam
  • "Simple" hair tutorials that DON'T FRIGGIN WORK on my hair
  • Terrible life/relationship advice (i.e. quotes by Drake, Marilyn Monroe, and other people we should strive to be nothing like)
  • "Gender reveal" ideas? (WHAT IS A GENDER REVEAL?)
  • Random creepily, impossibly toned women

Objectionably Creepy
  • Gigantic, unrealistically luxurious homes. You can stare at that lazy river all you want but it's not gonna appear in your entryway, honey.
  • Any and all midriff-baring/topless/nude pregnancy photos
  • Parenting advice re-pinned by people single people--"Someday this will come in handy!" Yeah, when you're raising your cats.
  • Eating disorders passing as diets. "Eat only raw celery for 3 days and you'll lose 10 pounds!!! Chew sugar-free gum or smell some pound cake if you get hungry."
  • Cliche sayings that make sweeping generalizations about gender: "REAL women [look like this]"/"REAL men [do this]"
  • Fancy, expensive wedding ideas re-pinned by very, very single people
  • Tips on how to "not get raped"
  • Anything involving Taylor Swift

In my opinion, the awesome stuff makes having an account well worth it...and on some days, it's even fun to snort at the stuff that's not. I take Pinterest with the good and the bad, the awesome and the creepy, as we must with most things.

Also, you should follow me.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Kat Diet

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables." - Michael Pollan

One of my favorite hobbies is dieting.

Yes, I realize how weird that sounds. Let me rephrase it so it makes more sense: I get a kick out of researching new diets based on some fitness philosophy, following them for an indefinite period of time, and then getting distracted and eating cream cheese frosting out of the can.

As a little background knowledge, I gained about 30 lbs in college. (Not unusual.) Like most freshmen, I was used to having designated meal times, routine workouts due to high school sports, and humane portions of relatively healthy food served to me at home. The transition to college meant complete and utter FREEDOM, where I could have cake for breakfast 'cause I felt like it and pizza as a late night study snack and even VooDoo Donuts at 3:00am on Saturday night walking back from Jameson's. What I ate and when never seemed to concern me. That, combined with an erratic sleep schedule and a tight budget, caused me to be overweight for the first time in my life by the end of sophomore year.

Someone pointed out my weight gain that summer, which I actually hadn't noticed myself because it came so gradually, and I began to panic/problem-solve. I began trying to shed pounds by calorie-counting, which led me to basic realizations like, "Wow. I should really stop putting cheese on everything." I then tried exercising the only way I really knew how without a tattooed swim coach giving me workout sets and asking me where my "mojo" was that day, which was running. 2 or 3 times a week I would hit the track across the street from my summer apartment and jog for however long I could, all while non-committedly tracking my caloric intake.

It wasn't until this past year that I realized that my half-assed approach wasn't doing much for my ass. Then the floodgates opened. I became obsessed over what I was eating and when. It started with veganism (which I actually pulled off for 8 months), then progressed to other intense short-term diets I found through online research, including the Skinny Bitch Diet (this is an actual book and I grew to absolutely hate it--but that is a whole other post), Lauren Conrad's Bikini Bootcamp, the Self Drop-10 Plan, Blogilates' 90-Day Challenge, Dr. Oz's Detox Cleanse, and (now) the Paleo Diet.

Ultimately, what I discovered is that diets do not work. Or, at least they do not work for me. Is it because I am lazy and gluttonous? Maybe. But here's what's really wrong with dieting:
  • Diets, by nature, are restrictive. However, just because you eat a food that fits the framework of your diet does NOT mean it is good for you. Perfect example: when I was vegan, I could technically load up on pasta and chocolate and still fit the requirements of the diet. And I often did because, when I was in a situation where the alternate choice was a meat product, that's what I had to choose.
  • Food culture and the food industry itself makes it so difficult to know if a food is actually "healthy" because there are so many conflicting studies. I'd be eating or drinking something for years only to come across an article that claimed, "Nooooo, eating _____ will give you throat cancer!!!" There is an article or book about why not to eat something for literally every food item in existence. Well then which diet is the best? What am I supposed to eat?!!
  • Dieting is impractical. On one of my diets, the girl has a protein pancake recipe that is actually really delicious, but it calls for half a banana. HALF A BANANA. What am I supposed to do with the other half of the banana? It's gonna get brown and gross. Why couldn't you just incorporate the whole banana into your recipe? Is the extra 30 calories really going kill us? 
  • It is not reasonable (or healthy, for that matter) to expect ourselves to eat a certain way all the time, in every circumstance. This mentality just sets us up for failure. A diet is not simply about willpower, it is about control--and that's really the appeal that diet creators try to push. "Control what you eat so you can control your weight and figure." Makes sense...right? But what if you don't get the results you want, what then? Anyone with half a brain understands that we actually have very little control over life in general. Try and control every aspect of your life to get the exact results that you want and call me in a few months from the mental hospital. The key is just to make the best out of our circumstances, to control what we can by making good decisions, but the rest is up to nature. We can do what we can to be healthy and active, but if we do not look like Kate Moss in the end, there is very little we can do to change that.
Whatever. I still love trying new diets. I guess, for me, it gives me a challenge, and I kind of enjoy that. It gives me purpose. I would just encourage you not to invest too much in a diet, because they are unbalanced and unrealistic.

I have since lost the 30 lbs. I gained in college. A friend who I hadn't seen in a year or two said to me this week: "You've lost so much weight, haven't you?! How did you do it?" So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:

The Kat Diet!

Day 1:
- Drink a cup of lemon water in the morning to stimulate your metabolism. Do 100 crunches.
- Eat a fruit smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and lean chicken for dinner. Almonds for snacks.
- Go outside and run until you're tired. If you see someone you know out walking or driving on the road, run faster to impress them.

Day 2:
- You're running late. No lemon water, no crunches for you.
- Whatever is in the fridge at work will do for breakfast. Leftover chicken for lunch, almonds for snacks.
- Go to Bikram yoga. Work so hard that you tear your left hamstring, then throw up due to heat exhaustion.
- Go home, ice your leg, and eat everything in sight because you're ravenous.

Day 3:
- Okay, you really gotta get back on track today. Lemon water and crunches. Just 50 this time, don't wanna be late again.
- Half a banana for breakfast. Wait, this is stupid. Eat the whole dang banana.
- You're tired after work and your leg hurts. No yoga, go home. Say that you're gonna do pilates later but don't.

Day 4:
- Lemon water is starting to give you tongue numbness.
- Co-workers notice that you've been eating the same salad every day.
- Go to yoga. You don't throw up or tear any ligaments this time. Success!

Day 5:
- Well, you ate cake for breakfast, so you might as well go all-out. Supreme pizza for lunch!
- High-intensity interval training as a workout. Tears pour down your cheeks as you sprint while remembering all the careless calories you consumed today. You go home and write "WHY CAN'T I BE PERFECT?" in your journal, then descend into a shame spiral.

Day 6:
- Stare at the remaining cake defiantly over your lemon water. "You do not control me. I will not eat you for breakfast."
- No time to workout! Harass a family member or roommate as exercise.
- You're at a party and there is delicious chips and salsa. Eat some, but not too much. Have a drink, too. Just one though.

Day 7:
- Your family makes fun of you for eating kale salad. Whatever. They're all fat.
- Squats. Lunges. Re-tear your hamstring.
- Eat some cream cheese frosting out of the can.

So, for those of you who have been wondering how I did it, that's how. I am not Beyoncé or Gwyneth Paltrow, but this is what worked for me: Moderation is key. Don't expect perfection. Do things that you like (i.e. doing yoga, eating kale) and you'll be successful. Don't torture yourself, it doesn't work. All these diets make it so complicated! It's really not.

If I was super hardcore like Lauren Conrad or Cassey Ho or Dr. Oz, I probably could've lost this weight faster, and I could probably be a bikini model. But you know what? I do not want to do that. I want to eat red velvet cupcakes. So there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why Facebook is Terrible: Election Edition

I hate this election.

First of all, a little background information: I do not belong to a political party. I’m registered to vote as a Non Affiliate. People in fairly conservative southern Nevada consider me—as I was known to some people in high school—“a hippie.” People at the bleeding-heart liberal University of Oregon pretty much consider me Rush Limbaugh.

So in general, I’d say I’m pretty moderate when it comes to politics. On some issues I lean to the right, and on others (probably a slight majority) to the left. Unlike my cocky teenage years, nowadays I’m way more interested in reading and listening to what others have to say about politics than stating opinions myself. I like debates—legitimate, formal debates—in which intelligent people with different points of view talk about the issues facing our world. I get excited about politics, and I’ve always been that way.

But for some reason, this year’s election has consistently been bringing my blood to a boiling point. For weeks I wasn’t able to figure out why, until I realized the culprit…


Here we go…ladies and gentlemen, I hate to break it to you, but Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both just dudes. Trust me on this. It’s cool that Obama likes Jay-Z. I would probably hang out with him, but I don’t think he’s been a very impressive president. And Romney is weird and aloof in interviews but he seems nice enough, I guess. Like an overly friendly neighbor that’s always inviting you over for a traditional Mormon Jell-O-based salad. I have no doubt that each of them will try his best to do a good job as President—it always amuses me when people accuse presidents of deliberately trying to “destroy America,” like that makes even a shred of sense—but he’ll be chewed up and spat out by the media and by other branches of government just like the last 43 have. By no means am I enamored by either of these men and their platforms—in fact, they’ve both sold their souls to Super PACs anyway—but I’m just saying, I kinda feel for the next guy who has volunteered to be burned in effigy around the world.

I know it sounds like I am oversimplifying this issue, but unfortunately, I have lost faith in many components of our political system and don’t have total confidence that either candidate can change it on his or her own. I look back at all the juvenile things I said about George W. Bush (because I was, well, an actual juvenile when he was in office) and the foolish excitement I had when Obama got elected and shake my head. In many ways I feel like the presidential races the two-party system gives us are consistently just choices between the lesser of two mediocres. But that’s a whole different post…

Our candidates for President, via South Park.

You can see why I struggle to identify with people who believe that if one candidate gets elected over the other then America will burst into flames and we’ll either go 300 years back in time or become a Communist state. Many of my friends and relatives are all frothing at the mouth over this election, not only constantly plugging their own candidate choice but (more often) viciously demonizing his opposition. Most of this, I realized, is taking place on Facebook. It’s gotten to the point where every time I log in, I brace myself for a flood of melodramatic, patronizing propaganda from both my liberal and conservative friends. (I just want to talk about football and look at memes in peace, people!!!) But why is talking politics on Facebook so bothersome?

Because your Facebook friends added you because they are involved in your life at some level, because they want a forum in which to be notified about good or bad news you may want to share, because they have made some sort of real-life investment in you. Think of all the types of people you have on your friends list: relatives old and young, co-workers, teammates, new friends you don’t know much about, old friends you know too much about, that weird guy in your dorm, old babysitters, bosses, neighbors, hairdressers, doctors, that chick you don’t actually like but her life is such a hot mess that you don’t delete her just for the entertainment, etc. But think deeper than that; all of your friends are different and have different value systems. Some may be on welfare. Some may have been ripped off by the government. Some may have been raped. Some may have been falsely accused of rape. Some have had their faith in God broken, or never had it at all. Some are deeply religious. The list goes on and on.

Imagine your list of Facebook friends as a banquet hall filled with people. Would you, assuming you are not completely socially retarded (in that case, please stop reading this because it is a pointless exercise), waltz into that banquet hall and announce, “PAUL RYAN IS GOING TO FORCIBLY IMPREGNATE EVERY WOMAN, AND MITT ROMNEY WILL BRAINWASH THOSE CHILDREN INTO JOINING MORMONISM!!! VOTE OBAMA 2012!” or, “OBAMA WANTS TO SEIZE ALL OF YOUR WEAPONS, ENSLAVE WHITE PEOPLE, AND HOUSE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN OUR HOMES!!! VOTE ROMNEY 2012!”

Think about it…we all behave differently in different social situations. There’s a reason you don’t talk about politics (or religion or sex, as the saying goes) at a dinner party: You don’t truly know your audience. You don’t know who you might be offending by spouting your mouth on “how it oughta be.” You can’t know that someone, who just wants to know a little about you and your life, shares your view of the world and won’t be disgusted by your audacity for a reason that you just can’t know. Don’t preach about your values—liberal or conservative—in a forum where they don’t belong. Don’t put others in that position where they end up resenting you for the things you say. Just worry about yourself! Be nice to people, study the candidates, vote for who you like, and then shut up. Let the candidates and their staffs campaign for themselves; that’s not your job, all you’re doing is riling everyone up. (And probably making them disagree with you more.)

In summary, if you post about your political views on Facebook, you are rude. I hoped I have adequately explained why. So many of my friends have picked up this habit that, starting September 8, I’m steering clear of my account until the election is over—unless I get my Peace Corps assignment, find a really funny meme to light up y’all’s day, or if Oregon beats USC so I can brag (hey, a girl can dream). If you want to keep in touch, follow me on Twitter or, I dunno, CALL OR TEXT ME ON THE TELEPHONE DEVICE like a normal person.

Speaking of which, my advice to people who DO want to express their political views online: get a Twitter account! Twitter is amazing; it is like Facebook but faster, more global, and—best of all—less personal. I don’t know half the people that follow me; they follow me because they like the stuff I say. Anyone who doesn’t like the stuff I say doesn’t have to follow me, unlike the unspoken stigma that it’s impolite not to Facebook-friend someone you know in real life.

Or better yet, get A BLOG so you can rant in as many characters as you want! :)

Happy politicking, everyone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

25 Things I Learned in College

Today I got an e-mail from the registrar officially confirming that my degree will be completed after spring term and that I am eligible to graduate in June.

Looking back on the past four years, I am amazed by everything that has occurred in such a short span of time.  I am not remotely the same person now as I was when I started at the University of Oregon.  There will not be another period of my life--other than my Peace Corps service, I'm sure--that will change me as much as my experiences at UO have.  When it comes right down to it, I love my school, and I am so sad to leave!

This bittersweet nostalgia has caused me to think about the things I've learned from moving away from home, living on my own, creating my own circle of friends and colleagues, and working several jobs while earning a double degree.  The following list is a mix of life lessons--in no particular order--that I've learned from my own mistakes, the mistakes of others, and advice to anyone who might be on the brink of adulthood/about to begin college themselves.  (Disclaimer: I am still working on more than a few of these!)  I hope you find it interesting or useful to some extent.

25 Things I Learned in College

1. "Adulthood" does not equal maturity.

2. No one can get through life alone; everybody needs help.  Learn to ask for it because you WILL need it.
3. There is a difference between quitting because you're lazy and re-prioritizing because you're in over your head.  The former is something to be ashamed of, the latter is not.
4. Don't judge others based on their life choices.  People have reasons for the things they do, you just might not be able to understand them.
5. You are responsible for your decisions.  Especially the stupid ones.
6. Don't make decisions when you're angry, homesick, or under the influence of anything--including love.
7. People are going to disagree with you on everything.  Learn not to take it personally and don't waste time trying to change their mind.
8. Religion and spirituality are two intersecting (yet very different) things.  Religion is a human institution and can be corrupted--easily.  A relationship with God, should you choose to pursue one, is pure.  Don't lose faith because of the words or actions of others; nobody is perfect.
9. If you feel that you have everything figured out, that's when you're in big trouble.
10. Keep Calm and Call Mom.  Don't freak out and call Mom, you will scare her.  Do your freaking out beforehand.
11. Everything your parents do, no matter how crazy, is motivated by love.
12. Being a good sports fan is like being married.  You've got to stand by your team for better or worse and stick up for them when they're dishonored.  Keep an eye out for those who don't; fairweather fans and bandwagoners are usually shady people.
13. Don't make friends that are the same as you; you will clash eventually.  Having friends that are different from you is more fun anyway.
14. Real friends will be there for you when you need it.  Period.  Remember and reciprocate.  A friend never says "let me know if you need anything," she already knows if you need something.
15. Jealousy is not only unattractive, it is pointless.  Holding grudges is the same, except way more exhausting.
16. You will inevitably hate your bosses and/or your co-workers.  Don't sweat it; you just have to work with them, you don't have to get along.
17. Don't sacrifice for those who won't sacrifice for you.
18. The Sex and the City rule is right: it takes half the duration of the relationship to get over someone.  Sometimes longer.  Sometimes forever.
19. Say how you feel, when you feel it.  If you don't, you'll regret it later.
20. SAVE YOUR MONEY.  For what?  Stolen bikes, broken laptops, emergency hotel rooms, urgent care visits, killer sales on never know what you'll be in for tomorrow.  Be honest with yourself and others if you can't afford something; learn to differentiate between your wants and your needs.
21. Air travel is awkward, infuriating, and unreliable.
22. The health care system in the US is a cruel joke.
23. You will be rejected many times.  Don't dwell on it and don't be ashamed; there is something better approaching.
24. If your life goals are not constantly changing, you're doing it wrong.
25. You can do it.  No, really, you can.  Those tacky motivational posters are right.  You will surprise yourself with what you are capable of.