Realistic New Year’s Resolutions I’ll Be Making This Year

Adjusting My Expectations Based On My Overly Optimistic Resolutions in 2021

I love New Year’s resolutions. I love how, as a society, we’ve embraced the concept of reinventing yourself on what is essentially an arbitrary day of the year, allowing for you to be your ideal version of self for exactly one week… until you remember why you didn’t do any of the things you set out to do in the first place.

Before New Year’s, you’ve most likely spent the last weeks enjoying the holidays, eating, drinking, and lounging as much as you like. Because we live in a late-stage-capitalist dystopia where you’re nothing unless you’re productive, you’ve also most likely felt guilty about doing nothing. But no fear, the promise of the new year as a blank slate makes it all acceptable since you no longer have to be that person…as of next year, of course.

Having achieved none of my 2021 resolutions, I’ve decided to take a more realistic approach for 2022. This year, I’ve reworked all my failed resolutions of yore into something more achievable.

Instead of…

…shopping less, I will be buying more storage to neatly fit all the stuff I’ve accumulated in the last year, so that it at least looks like I didn’t buy as much as I did.

Last year, I made the resolution to go on a no-buy for the entire year. After 4 months, I caved after I realized none of my jeans fit me anymore and my options were to either fight with my jeans (and vanity) every morning, or swallow my pride and get a size that fits. I could have only bought the jeans, but once the no-buy was broken, the itch to shop came back worse than ever before.

Now, I am left with too much shit in the house. To combat this, I’ll be focusing on now buying all the storage accoutrements needed to make it look like I didn’t raid a tasteful flea market. This way, I can make my shopping feel useful and hide away the evidence of my failure in one go.

…trying out new healthy recipes, I will be making a Pinterest board of all the recipes I want to cook this year and proceed to forget about it.

They say being well-prepared is the key to success. What they don’t say is that the amount of time spent preparing can be as tiring as the actual doing. There should be a formula that calculates when you’ve gone too far in researching and planning, and are actually wasting time and energy instead of saving it. Proactive, hustling business students of the world, I’m leaving this in your hands.

By making a Pinterest board of all the healthy recipes I want to try this year, I can hide under the illusion of productivity instead of admitting I’m procrastinating. And because that took too much mental effort and I deserve a reward, I’ll just order some pizza instead.

…waking up at 6AM every day, I will be setting my first alarm for 6AM and subsequent alarms at every 10-minute interval until 8:00AM

2022 will be the year I stop snoozing. Instead, I am coming to terms with my inability to get up early in the morning on my own and relying on the power of peer pressure. I’m taking advantage of the fact that I share the bed with my partner and that eventually, I’ll either start getting up in time, or he’ll dump me for putting him through this. There are three ways I foresee this going:

Option A: the guilt of having to put my partner through an endless onslaught of alarms every morning will eat me alive and I will get up on the first alarm.

Option B: the fear that my partner will eventually leave me for someone less annoying in the morning will motivate me to jump out of bed from the get-go.

Option C: I end up single.

…no longer sleeping in on the weekends, I will be online shopping every Friday and Saturday – ordering stuff with next-day delivery only.

I’m taking the hotel wake-up call and bringing it home by unwittingly involving the Dutch postal service in this resolution.

Since we’re the first stop of the day, the delivery man will be my wake-up call between 7 and 8:30AM. Not only does the heart-attack-inducing buzz of the doorbell wake me up better than any alarm, but the sleep-fueled stumble to the front door to croak out a mumbled “I’ll buzz you in, please leave it downstairs” forces me to get out of bed.

Add on to that the panic-dressing to run quickly downstairs to get the package, before any of the neighbors kick it down the hallway, and there’s no way I can sleep in after that.

…no longer using my phone in the evenings, I will be only using my phone to message other people about how I really (but really) should stop using my phone in the evenings.

Misery loves company, and if I lack the self-control to get off my phone in the evenings, then I’m bringing everyone else down with me. There are few bonding experiences that can beat out that of sharing your failures with another human being who is failing at the same thing. And I’ll know they’re failing at the same thing the moment they text back.

In an effort to make sure I follow through with this resolution, I have prepared a list of riveting conversation starters:

  • “Ugh, I really need to stop being on my phone so late. I should be reading or something, lol”.
  • “Do you ever have it where you’re just scrolling through Instagram for hours and are like, what am I even doing on here, your lives aren’t even that interesting? Because that’s me rn”.
  • “Man, I’ve been trying the whole “no phone at night thing”, but am failing SO HARD lmao”.
And if all else fails, I’ve even prepared a relatable, outdated meme for good measure

…exercising more, I will finally give in to the trend of athleisure and start wearing my exercise clothes in public to deceive people into thinking I’ve been working out.

Since I don’t trust working out around other sweaty, possibly contagious human beings anytime soon and most at-home workouts make me paranoid that my downstairs neighbor will get closer to plotting my murder with each lunge jump, I’m giving up on physically exerting myself. In an effort to not let the workout outfits that have been gathering dust underneath my bed go to waste, I’ll be wearing them out in public.

Up until now, athleisure never interested me. Something about it screams “I think I’m better than you because I not only work out, but I’m so active that I make sure my attire shows you that I could sprint off into the sunset at any given moment”. Although I might be projecting, the air of superiority and put-togetherness of regular exercising is the only thing that attracts me to it. So, this year I will only be embracing the clothing while avoiding the hard work.

…learning the guitar, I will be shifting my daydreaming from being scouted, published, and unxpectedly becoming the author of a bestseller, to winning my first Grammy.

Is it just me, or has it felt like manifesting has been everywhere last year? Maybe the combination of the weight of 2020 with the brief moment of light in the middle of 2021 made everyone latch onto a concept that’s all about thinking things into being better. Well, an important step in manifestation is visualizing, and I’m hopping onto the trend by daydreaming visualizing myself being such a talented guitar player that I win a Grammy for my gnarly guitar-playing skills.

This will be disregarding the fact that I’m better at collecting dust on my guitar than picking it up, better at complaining after 10 minutes of practice because my fingers hurt too much, and better at not understanding chords, even if the concept has been explained to me by multiple people on separate occasions.

Nope, I’m ignoring all that and I’m relying on the power of manifestation to magically motivate me to become a God at guitar.

…keeping up with world news , I will be doubling down on my time ignoring as much of the world news as possible, instead focusing exclusively on the happenings of cute animals.

In 2021, we saw a glimmer of hope with the roll-out of the vaccine and the global lifting of COVID restrictions. For a moment, this year did not seem to be turning into the dumpster fire of the last, and all was good. Unfortunately, we’re ending it on full lockdowns in parts of Europe, increased travel restrictions, and a hyper-contagious variant that sounds vaguely like a Transformer (side note: can we start naming variants after Transformers instead of Greek letters? It might make this whole situation at least 21.7% more amusing).

Based on this, I’ve come to the conclusion that hoping has become tiresome and escapism is the way to go. In 2022, it’s all cute animal videos, all the time. Unless your news article involves a pair of unlikely furry friends, I do not want it.

New Year’s Day is the Monday of the year – magnified. You know how every weekend, particularly those filled with laziness and debauchery, you tell yourself that Monday you’ll be better? “I’ll start exercising…Monday”. “I’ll journal every day… from Monday”. “I’m eating healthier… as of Monday”. Monday is a magical place of promise, where you’ll become the best version of yourself. The self-disciplined, well-rounded version of you. Not the hungover you, who just ordered McDonald’s, and will stay up until 3 in the morning watching Emily in Paris.

Even if I never stick to my resolutions, I can’t stop making a new list of goals each new year. Prone to sentimentality, I’ll jump at any chance for a symbolic empty slate and a fresh start.

If you’re also a sucker for new years resolutions, let me know what overly-optimistic, unrealistic goals you’ve set out for yourself this year, and how you plan on reworking them for peak realism.

Like what you see? I post a new blog every beginning of the week (except for the holiday season it seems – usually I’m pretty good with keeping up with it, I swear) where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, life lessons, and taking pop culture way too seriously.

Holiday Gift Guides Suck: A Case Study

It’s that time of year again where, if you’re not one of those super-prepared-for-every-occasion people, you’re starting to think about what gifts to give your loved ones for the holidays.

For those of us who are both incapable of making a decision and eager to buy people’s love, holiday gift guides seem like a good idea. For a second, you bless the kind souls who have carefully curated the list of what to buy your father, mother, teenage daughter, boyfriend, wife, colleague, great aunt (twice-removed), or womanizing divorced step-uncle who gets a bit too handsy after a few drinks. You should know these people better than some stranger on the internet, but sometimes you can’t help but draw a blank.

On the internet, all parents are closet alcoholics

It doesn’t take long before you realize that every gift guide follows the same guidelines.

For some reason, every mother loves wine, home goods, toiletries, scarves, tear-inducingly boring hobbies to kill time like quirky puzzles and coloring books, and, most importantly, being your mother. Because nothing says “I care about you as a unique person with interesting hobbies and special interests” to your mom than giving her a gift solely revolving around the concept that she birthed you.

Fathers, on the other hand, get chucked with such interesting gifts as “alcohol”, “spicy food good”, “manly barbecue kit”, “seemingly-practical gadget they will never use”, and “paraphernalia that reminds him that being a dad is hard because men are bumbling idiots and incompetent at domestic things, har-dee-har”.

No matter where you look, every category follows the same gendered rules. Putting in the effort to look for specific gifts that match the interests of the person you’re buying for requires time and effort. That route isn’t compiled into a neat little animated slideshow for your convenience. No, gift guides have to step it up and give us something new, dammit.

A gift guide to inadvertedly antagonize the teenage girl in your life: a case study

Once in a blue moon, you come across a different gift guide. A special gift guide. One could even call it a gift guide of uncommon goods.

In my search for unique gifts for teenage girls, I came across a site that offers one-of-a-kind presents. It was through this gift guide that it dawned on me that there’s good reason most guides play it safe.

Although the specifics of what I liked as a teenager have changed, most of the basics still stand. Most teenagers just want some dope clothes, cool tech, and not to be reminded of the hormonal emotional awkwardness that comes along with being a teen. Somehow, this gift guide has managed to throw everything we knew about teenagers to the wind, conspiring to make you their enemy number one.

Here’s a rundown of the six most inadvertedly offensive gifts.

1. For the teen who never gets invited to anything

JOMO Journal: Embrace the Joy of Missing Out
How to say “I’ve accepted you are a social pariah” without saying “I’ve accepted you are a social pariah”

FOMO, the terrible acronym for the Fear of Missing Out, has been cheekily replaced with JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out, for this gift. The JOMO Journal (ugh) is there for your teen to enjoy the fact that they’re missing out, building the practice of mindfulness. There is no way they won’t see this as a transparent ploy to get them to feel OK with not being invited to things.

From its preview, it features such thrilling prompts as Look out the window and describe what you see and Zone out and do a word search. On the surface, it looks like a journal encouraging your teen to slow down and appreciate being in the moment. In reality, it looks more like a way to trick them into keeping quiet and busy because they don’t have any friends to hang with.

As an ex-tween prone to bouts of canceling plans, staying home to read, and being entirely OK with it, if someone had given me this as a gift, I’d start worrying whether I should be getting out of the house more.

What to get them instead

If you’re going to give them a journal with prompts to keep them busy, go with an oldie-but-goodie: Wreck This Journal.

Wreck This Journal goes beyond letting you get creative, encouraging you to pour coffee on it, break the spine, tear out pages, and all-around make a mess of it. It’s fun, task-driven, and cathartic, without constantly reminding you to feel the moment. Most importantly, it doesn’t perpetuate the paradox of not being able to be in the moment because you’re constantly reminded that you should be in the moment.

2. For the teen that’s “too emotional”

The Box of Emotions
Hey, that’s what they called me in high school!

Ah, emotions. Once puberty hits, along come those wonderful hormones that hit your system like a shock to the heart, including all the complex feelings with it.

It might be because I come from an emotional family that’s not stellar at handling emotions, but if they’d have given me this card deck, I would have been quick to dig out “confused” and “disappointed” from its box. Yes, I still have difficulties differentiating between whether I’m hungry or angry, but it’s not because I don’t understand what those feelings mean, it’s because I live in a world where I refuse to accept they’re different emotions.

I am a firm believer in the idea that at times, you’re not ready to receive information on its own, because you lack the background needed. You need to live the right moments to make it click. You need the right practical experience to put it into context and make good use of that theoretical knowledge. Muddling your way through newfound emotions as a teenager is one of those cases.

You can’t just spring a bunch of cards on them and hope they take it from there.

What to get them instead

If your teenager lacks the self-awareness to understand their emotions to the point you’re bringing didactic materials into the mix, just give them some therapy.

Alternatively (because therapy makes a pretty lousy gift for the holidays, especially if it’s coming from the parents who most likely caused the issues in the first place), find out what their emotional outlet is and get them a present that encourages them to explore that. Be it music, art, physical activity, writing, whatever, invest in what that they like that helps them organically sort out all their emooooootions.

3. For the teen with low self-esteem

I Am Everything Affirmation Card Deck
I am… tired of the discourse around affirmations and manifesting

Teenage girls have it hard. Apart from the already unreasonable expectations society puts on them, social media has added to the mountain of ridiculous standards they are meant to meet. Instagram models and TikTok stars are using every which photo and video filter they can get their hands on (sans disclosure, of course) and getting Botox and filler at 16 (because ageism is this generation’s answer to 2000s toxic diet culture). Check any teen girls’ Instagram page and you’ll see a generation that’s grown up on YouTube beauty videos, finding out what lighting flatters them the most, and knowing their angles.

On top of that, they have to deal with the attention of the worst cohort of humans in existence, regardless of sexuality: the 17-year-old teenage boy.

We want to remind these teens that they are enough. We also want to remind them that their lack of self-esteem hasn’t gone unnoticed. Oh no, in case they were worrying if anyone else noticed how insecure they felt, this deck of cards with affirmations will let them know they did a terrible job at hiding it. There’s no better way to make them feel more unsure about themselves than letting them know that it’s obvious they’re not confident.

What to get them instead

I’m going to eschew the obvious female empowerment literature route, and suggest something that would appeal to more than just the bookworms. Instead, put together a DIY self-care kit so they have something for the days when everything gets a bit much. You’ll need a couple Lush bath bombs, scented candles, and (the cherry on top) a weighted blanket. Keep it a full sensory experience so they can take some time for self-care and block out the world when they need it.

Add a personal note reminding them how amazing and strong they are, and that’ll mean more than any set of pre-packaged affirmations.

4. For the teen who… eats too many… burritos?

Twist & Eat Burrito Holder
No, it does not double as a thermos. I checked. God forbid it be useful

Your teen might not hate you for this gift. They may even appreciate it, depending on how much they love burritos. But every adult in the room will judge you the moment they realize that a) you spent 45 euros on a holder ONLY FOR BURRITOS and b) apparently you’re feeding your teen enough burritos that they appreciate a gift that is a holder built ONLY FOR BURRITOS.

During my teens, pizza was the thing to be obsessed with. Anywhere you looked, pizza was love, pizza was life, pizza was God. This burrito holder has unlocked a memory I thought gone forever: the existence of the portable pizza pouch. I wanted one so bad. I was young and foolish and thought I’d look cool walking around with a slice of pizza dangling at my hip, salami, dough, and cheese at my fingertips. The reality was, I did not eat pizza nearly as much as I thought I did for this to be a reasonable purchase. And I’d just be ridiculed because I’d be walking around, smelling like Eau de Pizza Salami everywhere I went.

These burrito holders are this generation’s portable pizza pouch. Let’s not add more waste to the world by encouraging the youth to use food-specific gadgets.

What to get them instead

Anything that holds more than one type of food or drink. Did you know a lunchbox can carry a burrito AND more? Or that a thermos can carry multiple drinks? Like tea? And coffee? And hot chocolate? Hey, hot chocolate may not be healthy, but so isn’t EATING BURRITOS SO MUCH YOU NEED A 45 EURO HOLDER FOR THEM. Here’s a list of aesthetic lunchboxes for teens. Who cares if lunchboxes aren’t cool anymore in high school? They’re guaranteed cooler than a designated burrito holder.

If your teenage girl does love burritos so much you think that they would appreciate this, first: please stop enabling their habit. Get them this burrito blanket instead so they can become one, instead of eating them.

5. For the teen you want to make hyper-aware of the new changes in her body

Menstrual Cycle Tracking Bracelet
Ah, the perfect gift for when you can’t wait to hear the words “Didn’t you know there’s an app for that?”

Periods should be demystified. Periods are completely natural. Periods should not be stigmatized.

But they do take some getting used to.

And while you and your family may be enlightened when it comes to the ebbs and flow of Aunt Flo, getting a period tracking bracelet for the teenage girl in your life is still kind of weird. You’re putting the onus on a teen to broadcast their cycle with a piece of jewelry, all while she’s still figuring out how she feels about what her body’s doing in the first place.

I track my period because I don’t like to be caught unawares while wearing white or stuck without Ibuprofen in my bag. I don’t feel a special connection to the fact that it happens. It’s not some mystical experience of womanhood. It’s just something my body does every month that’s kind of a hassle, but whatever, we get through it. Up until now, there has been no inclination to glorify the experience by adorning myself with a reminder on my wrist.

Normalize periods by having frank, open discussions about them and not treating them like a gross failure of the human body to be ashamed of. Not by making them out of touch, spiritual, and a symbol of womanhood. When can we move past the mysticism and get to the point I can complain about my cramps at work?

What to get them instead

Any other piece of jewelry that doesn’t openly say “I get my period!”. You can go the trendy route and win some cool points with a custom name necklace. Otherwise, if you still want jewelry with a purpose, spinner rings are great for the anxious teen prone to fidgeting. They’re discrete too.

If you still insist on period paraphernalia (ok, fine, you do you), give them a Diva cup. Practical, sustainable, and you don’t wear it on your wrist. Just give them a heads up so they don’t open it in front of the whole family if they don’t want to. Let them decide how comfortable they want to be with sharing information about their period, on their own terms.

6. For the teen who’s also an unfashionable civil rights activist

Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" Scarf
Ideal for cursing your teen with an endless onslaught of “What does your scarf say????”

Younger generations are more involved in activism than ever, and that should be encouraged. But maybe let’s stay away from making it a fashion statement. At least if we’re going to bring it into fashion, make it fashionable.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but infinity scarves have gone the way of galaxy leggings and have been retired as an official “cool girl” item. Nowadays, unless you’re a proponent of Christian Girl Autumn, it’s best to leave the infinity scarf behind.

Not only would you, teenage girl, be gifted with an outdated scarf style, but you’ll also have the entirety of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech emblazoned across it. Because there is no better way to share that you’re interested in activism than by wearing an accessory that spells it out for everyone else. Oh, except the typeface is still too small for anyone to read it unless they’re standing uncomfortably close to you. Hope you don’t have a personal bubble!

What to get instead

You’ve got two options, depending on what your goal is. If you’re buying the gift to start a conversation and educate, opt for anti-racist books for teens instead.

If you want to give a non-book gift, it’s better to buy them something they enjoy from a black-owned business. You can’t go wrong with practicing what you preach and supporting black-owned businesses with your money. If they like it, your teen will be more likely to recommend the same gift to their friends, helping boost the business, and going beyond performative activism.

But then, what do I give?

Let’s be real. There’s a target audience for this faux-inspirational, semi-educational, quasi-spiritual, get-in-touch-with-your-emotions, touchy-feely sort of thing, and that target audience was never me. I hated Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and passed out cold the first time I did yoga (Shavasana with dimmed lights, incense and chakra-healing music swirling around the room, and the encouragement to close my eyes? I never stood a chance). I wasn’t raised in a tote-swinging, granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing household. Even if I was, the problem with these sort of gifts – and that of many gift guides – is that the present is more about the gift-giver than the receiver.

We have to stop buying presents that we like and remember it’s just not about you. That’s what makes a good gift. Take the extra five minutes to jot down what you know about the other person and go from there. Sure, you can give it your own flair, but stick to a 15-85 ratio: 15% your sparkle and shine, 85% their interests.

Oh, and if you’re still stumped and getting a gift for an adult, you can’t go wrong with some good socks.

Like what you see? I post a new blog every Sunday/Monday where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, and taking pop culture way too seriously.

How I Beat Impostor Syndrome: Lessons Learned From Running Events Across Europe

Some jobs aren’t there to teach you anything about your career but are there to teach you some hard-earned life lessons instead. My first job out of college was one of them.

I’ll paint it by numbers. I spent close to 3 years running corporate events for a tech company all across Europe, of which 8 months in the year I was away from home. In total, I went to 15 countries, over 40 cities, and had close to 12,000 visitors of all types to the all-glass, clinical mobile exhibition space we just called “the truck”. Lots of different people, lots of different places, and lots of stressed-out assholes with a god complex to deal with.

The tour turned out to be a crash course in how to go from chronically anxious people-pleaser with impostor syndrome to confident professional with relatively healthy boundaries. Here’s what worked for me.

Note: I take no blame if any of these backfire, because these are definitely thinly-veiled roundabout coping mechanisms disguised as advice.

Dress for the job you… nevermind

At the beginning of the tour, my suitcase looked like I’d stolen the wardrobe from a budget-conscious extra in Suits. By the end, it was closer to that of a 90s sitcom mom. Because sometimes, in a stiff corporate environment, not following the dress code will work to your advantage.

I started noticing early on that each and every time, almost without exception, the most important visitors were also either the most eccentrically dressed or the most casual – government officials being the exception to the rule. You could always tell how important someone was considered depending on the size of their posse and the discrepancy between their outfit and everyone else’s. In would walk in some guy in an ironic t-shirt and jeans, orbited by fifteen people in suits, and I’d know immediately that that was the big boss in charge.

As long as what I was wearing was clean, inoffensive, and didn’t show much skin, people still treated me the same, and many times even better than when I was in full business attire. By showing agency with my clothing choices, I was somehow perceived as having more agency in my job, which led to being treated with more respect.

Although there is a line to toe, so if you’re going to try this out, start with some funky pants or fun earrings instead. Don’t go full Helena Bonham Carter in one go.

Fake it ’til people leave you alone

There is a special circle in hell reserved for people who relieve their stress by stressing other people out as much as possible. Because, as is common knowledge, you only do your best work when someone’s breathing down your neck, asking you “Is everything going good? How is everything going? When will everything be ready?” every two minutes.

Turns out, you can sometimes make these people go away by refusing to be stressed by them. Don’t just take your time to do your thing right, but make it clear that you’re sorting it out, and that you’ll have it done when it’s done. It may drive them nuts, but it will save you from getting to the point where you start debating if you should bill them for the therapy sessions you’ll clearly be needing if they keep this behavior up.

If this fails, there is an alternative way to fake it so that people treat you like you have authority. All you need are a pair of good stomping-around shoes and a well-practiced expression of determination, confidence, and thoughtfulness. For the latter, it helps to think about a fake argument in your head, where your efforts are concentrated on totally verbally destroying the other person. Just speak like you know what you’re talking about (even if your statements are pure guesses), walk around with purpose, and keep your brow furrowed.

People will be convinced you’re on your way to solve Very Important People problems with your Very Important Thoughts, steering clear from your path.

Know your audience

Here’s another tip to alleviate the pressure from the stress-inducing micromanagers of the world.

I am of the belief that looking busy is not the same as being busy and that approaching your work with the serenity and mindfulness of a Buddhist monk can make it easier to do your job well. But for some, this concept is difficult to understand. If they don’t see you running around like the whole place is on fire, they’re convinced that either you don’t care enough about your work or that they’re not giving you enough to do. Either way, your value has now been diminished and they will believe you’re overpaid, despite the reason that you’re able to be calm in the first place is that you did your job well and now you don’t have to worry about busywork.

To avoid this ticking away of dollar signs with every second they see you as idle, just exaggerate how busy you are. If something takes you fifteen minutes, tell them it’s at least double. If they’re asking you how your workload is, stress that you’re so so so busy and couldn’t handle another task. And if you need to get something done and want to keep that idle time, get out of their line of sight, get your work done, and enjoy the absence of their incessant nagging.

If you like to avoid headaches, it can be worth putting in the effort to look busy in front of customers who put too much value on it. But, only do this if you know it’s a temporary situation. Do it too often and the bar for ridiculous expectations of busyness will only be set higher. Find the balance and keep them on their toes.

Kindness, people, kindness

It shouldn’t have to be said but, because there are a select few who still need to hear it: be kind and respectful to everyone you meet, no matter who they are. Being nice and polite always pays off – as long as you’re not stupid about it.

Be it a colleague, client, or the person cleaning, being kind pays off. Even if you’re feeling grumpy, tired, hungry, and over-worked, being bitter will only sour everyone around you, worsening your initial mood. Kindness can be a catharsis. Most of the time, reminding yourself that you’re all trying to do your job the best way you can, helps gather that little bit of energy left that it takes to be nice.

Be grateful, too. If you’ve got an issue on-site, the security guard will be able to help you out way more than the CTO of whatever company, so be sure to show some gratitude and sneak an extra freebie their way before it’s time to go.

But, don’t let people abuse your kindness. I employ a two-strike system. The first time someone’s rude I try not to think the worst. But if you’re rude or hostile twice, I don’t care the reason anymore. All you’ll be getting out of me is malicious compliance from here until the sun swallows the Earth whole.

You’ll make your life easier (and much more pleasant) if you put your best foot forward and treat everyone with respect. Just be ruthless the moment someone tries to take advantage of you.

Sometimes not knowing is better

Knowledge is power, but they do say that ignorance is bliss and if I’m being totally honest, power can be intimidating.

I have the nerves of a distressed chihuahua anytime I become aware that the person I’m talking to has the same decision-making power as the ruler of a small country. To solve that, if I can avoid it, I now have the habit of first avoiding asking people their names or what they do. Turns out, asking people questions about themselves, unrelated to their title, is a great way to connect in a meaningful way.

I’ve seen enough employees tripping over their feet trying to get the attention of C-suites and high-level consultants and diplomats and the rest of the who’s-who. But in the end, people are more likely to remember the name of the person they had a heated discussion with about whether or not Golden Retrievers are the Pumpkin Spice Latte of dogs, than the one stumbling over their words just to get 2 seconds of flattery in.

If you’re prone to getting in your head and being nervous around anyone deemed important by the powers that be, start asking people for their names midway through a conversation. That way, you can always give yourself the chance to connect with them as human beings first.

Unless you’re trying to be strategic with your networking, in which case, why are you here? Who told you I was the person to go to for strategic career choices and why do they hate you?

Are these tips helpful for everyone? Definitely not. But they might be for other chronically anxious people-pleasers riddled with impostor syndrome who need to come up with different ways to trick their brains into thinking that they’ve more than got it.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing that helps getting rid of impostor syndrome like realizing that most people don’t actually know what they’re doing either, and that we’re all just winging it anyways.

Like what you see? I post a new blog every Sunday/Monday where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, and taking pop culture way too seriously.