Don’t tell me what to eat!

I hate being told what to do. Hate it.

Growing up, my parents rarely made demands- they expected me to respect their authority and in return respected my right to question. On the rare occasion that Mom or Dad said “Do this now!” it was clear that it must be too important at the time to question. As I was a generally good kid, this system worked well for us and kept us away from any major blow-up fights.

But an unintended side effect of this is that I absolutely cannot tolerate demands. This is quite selective- I’m more than happy to receive assignments at work or be told what repairs my car needs or that the course I’m riding goes like this not like that. Pretty much anything else? Nope. Will not respond. Even if I was about to do what you just told me to do, I will now do the opposite.


source: giphy

Admittedly this is childish. There is no harm in doing what I was going to do anyways just because someone told me I need to do that. It’s just this knee-jerk reaction to the assumption of authority that rankles. Even my own parents- the ultimate authority to a child- didn’t assume total supremacy, so why on earth should some other person order me around? Manfriend learned this very quickly and (bless him) never tries to boss me. He knows it simply wouldn’t work. Suggestions, advice, anecdotes are all welcomed but I tune out as soon as it crosses the line into demand territory.

Just wait, it gets worse.

I can’t even tell myself what to do. As soon as I say “I NEED to get this done right now,” I head off on a tangent. Or I get paralyzed and don’t do anything at all. Or I come up with a thousand reasons I don’t actually need to get it done. Demands are unacceptable from any quarter, even my own brain.

This especially carries over into my food habits. The very instant that I swear off junk food is the very instant I get in the car to grab a dozen doughnuts. As soon as I forbid candy, I load up on Reese’s and start stuffing my face. Even when I was using a calorie tracker, I got rebellious and started eating more just so I could punch stuff into the app. You don’t have to tell me  how insane this is- trust me, I know.

The only way I can keep myself from eating junk food is by letting myself eat junk food.

Despite how nonsensical that sounds, it’s how I work. Defiantly cutting out all junk just makes me focus on and crave it more, so I have to give myself a free pass at all times to eat whatever I want. When I’m not thinking about it, I eat the way I’ve always eaten: pretty lean with the occasional splurge. Isn’t that a “healthy” diet? I tend to stick with foods that make me feel good physically; I know that too many carbs makes me feel sluggish, and I really like chicken and veggies. Sharing meals with health-conscious manfriend helps too- he’s an exponentially better cook than I am so he keeps us healthy and full. Then when I get the 4,000 calorie cheeseburger from Cheeburger Cheeburger one day during lunch, I don’t feel bad. When I say “it’s just one day, it won’t ruin me,” I can actually mean it because I know the next day I’ll be having my usual lean burrito and yogurt for lunch.

Overall I eat pretty well- low in carbs, high in veggies and protein, not too much salt or sugar. But I have a desk drawer of Hershey’s Kisses at work and never miss an opportunity for doughnuts. Manfriend and I are ignoring Valentine’s Day, but you can bet I’m taking this as a perfect excuse for a salty, sugary, bacon-y brunch of epic proportions. After all, I told myself I couldn’t.

How do you try and eat healthy? Anyone else stupidly stubborn like this? (It can’t be just me)

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My job doesn’t make me happy

Nope. My job does not fill me with joy, I do not feel inspiration welling from every pore, and my job is not my “dream come true.”

But I love my job. I really truly love my job.

This is my view every single day, and goshdarnit I like it.
This is my view every single day, and goshdarnit I like it.

“But Olivia,” you might ask, “how can you love your job if it doesn’t make you happy?” And to answer that, I’m going to tell you why I can’t identify with Elite Daily or Buzzfeed or Thought Catalog anymore.

There are countless articles on those sites telling young people to pursue their dreams and not to settle for the mindless drudgery that an office job would surely offer. Millennials (of which I’m one) praise each other for sticking it to the man and making their own paths. And all of that does sound great! More power to you for holding out for what you really want!

Maybe it’s my practical streak, but that just doesn’t work for me. Traveling with no money and crashing on friends couches doesn’t sound adventurous and fun to me- it isn’t the lifestyle I want. I enjoy having a steady paycheck, a comfortable apartment, and decent hotels to stay in when I travel. Maybe I’m just an old soul.

Earning that steady paycheck means putting in my time from 8am-5pm (with a lovely hour long lunch break) and doing things that aren’t on the top of my fun-list: running statistical analysis, cleaning data, writing code, formatting Excel sheets.

So no, my job does not fill me with ecstasy every time I contemplate the work that I do. But there are so many reasons I love my job despite that:

  • The people I work with totally rock. My team, my department, and pretty much everyone in this company is smart, kind, interesting, and sometimes totally dorky. Just my kind of people.
  • My boss is the best boss I could ask for. He encourages me to create my own assignments and pursue whatever project on the docket that I have the most interest in, and he’s always pushing me to take on harder tasks. He’s my biggest cheerleader and he makes sure I know it.
  • I get to leave at 5pm. There are the occasional days where I have to stay a little late, but when I leave at the end of the day, I’m done. My evenings and weekends are entirely free for me to spend the money I earn from 8-5 Monday-Friday.
  • My company takes care of me. I never realized how much a good insurance plan would matter to me at 23, but it really does. And having more vacation time than most people at my level doesn’t hurt either.
  • My company takes care of the community. The CEO has a big emphasis on giving back to the community that has given so much to us, so there are constant volunteer opportunities put together at work. Food drives, toy drives, environmental clean up crews, making food for hungry children, you name it and we’re probably involved in some way.
  • I feel like I’m learning. I had no intention of coding when I left school (I hated all my CompSci classes with a fiery passion), but now I’m determined to become the team expert in anything that might require coding. Having that goal and feeling like I’m learning and improving ensures that I’m never bored.

Working at a company that fits my values like this has proven to be much more valuable than working somewhere simply because the work itself is enjoyable. I’ve found that it’s not so much about the work you do, it’s about who you do it with and the attitude you approach it with.

It was never my childhood dream to become a research analyst and do statistics and coding all day long, but it’s meant that I get to earn a living that supports my lifestyle, and gives me the free time to pursue the hobbies that I love. I don’t want a happy job, I want a happy life.

My job does not make me happy in itself, but it gives me the freedom to create a whole life that makes me happy.

I’d much rather work at this company in corporate America and enjoy my life than scramble to make ends meet while chasing some dream Buzzfeed told me I wanted.

Check out my follow-up to this here.

How I Budget in One Easy Step

One reaction I’ve gotten alarmingly often when I mention that I ride horses is, “Oh so you must be rich, right?”

Yeah, I wish. I’m comfortable enough, but that’s only because of careful budgeting. Let’s face it, I’m an early-twenties research analyst living in a place with an absurd cost of living.

I was a little hesitant to write this post, because let’s face it- budgets are boring. But some of my favorite blog posts out there have talked about budgets and financials, so I’m jumping in and joining the conversation anyways. Honestly, for me it all boils down to one question:

What do I have to give up to pay for this?

When I get that delicious Chipotle for lunch, that could be a drink at the bar with my friends. When I crank the heat up instead of putting a sweater on, that could be a new show shirt. You get the idea.

That’s how I keep my spending in check day-to-day, but I also try to prioritize my spending. I know that certain things are necessary and certain things are wants, and I try to keep those in balance as best I can. For example, riding breeches are needs. Twelve pairs of riding breeches are wants.

And that’s my super simple way of making sure my budget works for me each month: on a high level I make sure I’m paying for my highest priorities before spending on things that aren’t as important, and on a smaller level I justify each purchase with myself by asking what else I could be spending that money on.

If there was interest I was thinking about doing a series on more specific ways that I make my budget work for me as a professional twenty-something, let me know in the comments if you’d like to see that!

What’s your favorite trick to keep spending in check?