Alyssa J Freitas

June 20, 2018

What To Spend Your Downtime Consuming

There is so. much. content out there for us to consume. From never ending Pinterest feeds, to newsletters, to shows, we are constantly inundated with something to read or watch or listen to. Two years ago I wrote a post about how to consume media consciously. While my minimalist mindset did a lot to inform that post, I didn't talk much about my own method of determining what is worthwhile to spend my time on.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! With only so much downtime, it's important to make the most of it! Here's how to make sure you're consuming the best of the best
Here are a two ways you can figure out what is worth allocating your limited time to:

Explore based on recommendations

It's far too easy to just jump out into the vast internet and libraries of the world to search for your next book or article or piece of entertainment. Instead, try working off of recommendations. Did a blogger you love just write about her favorite accounts to follow on Instagram? Did your friend rave to you about a podcast she can't stop listening to? Chances are, if you're already friends with or following someone they'll be able to point you in the right direction of what to check out next.

Reviews, reviews, reviews

I've instituted a new rule for myself that I am LOVING: Only read books that get a 4 star and above rating on Goodreads. After recently reading a bad book (once I start a book, I'm committed even if I'm not enjoying it, which is probably a blog post and self-examination for another day), I decided I needed a way to avoid that in the future. This threshold rule of 4 stars is a great way to ensure that I'm reading quality books. Maybe you can look at Rotten Tomatoes first if you love to watch movies, or statistics on Netflix to keep yourself enjoying the best of the best.

How do you figure out what to read or watch next? How do you stay inspired with new things to read and watch coming at you from every angle? Any advice is much appreciated!

-AJF
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June 13, 2018

1 Year Post Graduation: What I've Learned

The end of last month marked one year since I graduated and this month is my one year anniversary of working at IBM. I sound like a broken record because I keep reiterating how unbelievably fast the time passed and it's so. darn. true. As I'm inclined to do, I've been evaluating what has happened over the course of the year, what I've accomplished, and what I've learned. Today I'm going to share with you my main takeaways one year out of school, in the place called "the real world."
Click to read now or pin to save for later! It's been one year since graduation and I've learned so much! Here are a few lessons that will help you make the most of your first year after graduation

Your goals will change

There have been many posts on the blog about how to achieve your goals (check some out here, here, and here), but I've never talked about what to do when your goals change. And that's because I've mostly been consistent with setting good goals for myself that I want to achieve, and am able to make a reality. However, one major goal I set for myself to achieve 6 months post-graduation was to move out on my own...and I haven't done that yet, nor do I have intentions of going anytime soon.

Alyssa on graduation day would have been shocked and guess that something terrible must have happened to prevent me from moving out (was I fired? is someone sick?), but nope, I just learned about what life actually looks like full time and the reality of costs and changed my intentions accordingly. When you make aspirational goals before entering a certain life stage, there's a pretty good chance you'll change your mind once you get more information. And there's nothing wrong with that!

I've learned to give myself a break and to accept that what I envision is not always going to be the best for me. Rather than holding on to goals and making them set in stone, I'm working on going with the flow and understanding that my decision making will get better as I gather more information.

Your relationships will change

A few months ago I wrote a post about how to stay close with your friends post-grad. When I was graduating, I knew that things would change, but I didn't know how infrequently I would end up seeing everyone. At first I was resistant and wanted to replicate at least some of the consistency of hanging out, but with different schedules and priorities there was no way I could. Now I've had to shift my mindset and instead appreciate the time that we do have together in person and make an effort to keep in touch electronically in between.

Something that I do want to work on is making new friends, because although I've started to get to know some new people, I can do more to grow those relationships. Pushing yourself to not just stay comfortable in existing friendships, but to expand your circle is rewarding and a healthy part of growing outside of college.

You need patience

This is the biggest lesson that I am still challenged by on a daily basis. When you're in school, there are clearly defined timelines and sets of accomplishments, and if you're ambitious and hard working, you can add a lot to your resume fairly quickly. Out here in the real world, timelines change. One year in college meant that you've already gone through a quarter of your college career. One year post-grad means you're only about 1/40th of the way through. Plus, you have an even steeper learning curve (and probably more lofty goals for yourself).

This is where patience comes in. Staying the course, working to your best ability each day, and realizing you're not going to know as much as someone who's been in the business for 20 years in your first year is essential to not drive yourself crazy with feelings of not living up to your own expectations. Like I said, this is something I am actively working on and I'm not moving as fast on being comfortable with it as I'd like (^see my lack of patience haha). 

As you probably picked up on, the key themes here are change is cool, you have to embrace new experiences, and please, I beg you, give yourself grace when you aren't the master at something instantly.

What have you learned your first year post-grad? If you've just graduated, what are you most nervous about?


-AJF

June 6, 2018

Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

The other day I was checking out a website for a comedy club (didn't end up making it to the show, but that's a story for another day...) and I was struck by the design of the site. There wasn't anything particularly fancy about it, but it was colorful and had bold shapes and it made me happy to look at. Then I started to think about how seriously we tend to take ourselves and how we can all use a bit more whimsy and fun in our lives. Here are some ways to not take yourself too seriously and incorporate fun into your everyday life.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Do you find yourself feeling too serious? Here's how to have some fun in your everyday life and not take things too seriously
Photo Credit: @allymarcinophotography

Music

Disney music is good for my soul and I bet you have your own type of music that lifts you up and makes you forget about nearly anything else. I love listening to music on my commute and get so excited when I have a little while at home to host a solo dance party. Making a concentrated effort to change up what you're listening to and embrace what you actually like (not what's popular or what you think you should be listening to) can easily bring extra enjoyment to your day.

No one cares what you're doing

This is not meant to sound harsh! The fact is, most of us live as the star of a movie in our own heads. We're too focused on ourselves and our own problems to spend much time worrying about what anyone else is doing. That means that you can rest assured that whatever you're taking super seriously and beating yourself up about probably doesn't matter all that much to anyone else. Relaxing in the knowledge that you're doing your best and no one (expect you!) is going to remember little mistakes can free you to actually grow and not get bogged down with taking yourself too seriously.

Movement

Whether you're into exercising, or dancing, or taking a walk around the block, incorporating fun movements can remind you of being an uninhibited kid. Try roller skating or skipping during you're next workout and channel your inner child for a good reminder that things can be simple. It definitely feels silly for me to write this, but I promise you it's so true! There's something about letting your body do it's own thing that is such a refreshing experience. 

Little reminders

When you're trying to build up new habits or encourage a mindset shift, having reminders makes a huge difference. For some it may be a post-it note with a funny saying or deciding to jam out while showering each day. I especially like to change my phone wallpaper and lately I've been loving food illustrations, like this pattern of french fries. Whatever will give you a laugh and make you feel positive is what you want to surround yourself with.
This is how I keep myself from getting too serious or and I would love to hear what you do! Are these methods helpful, silly, or the best combination of both?

-AJF
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May 30, 2018

San Diego Solo Itinerary

Last month I went to San Diego for a work conference and decided to head there the Friday before so I could enjoy a long weekend in a brand new city. You may remember I took a solo trip to Rome earlier this year and made a new friend on a photography your who lives in San Diego. He told me if I was in the area to let him know and I took him up on the offer. My title of "Solo Itinerary" isn't 100% the case, but he and I only spent one day together, so I'm keeping it haha
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here's how to make the most of two days in San Diego with a solo travel itinerary

Day One: Old Town and Sailing

I arrived in the afternoon, got off the plane, and booked a hotel. In the past I never would have waited until getting to my destination to get accommodations, but I've had so much success with the app Hotel Tonight (use the code AFREITAS23 to get $25 off your first stay!) that I wasn't worried. I stayed at The Pearl Hotel, which is a retro motel in a good location.

Let's talk about location for a second though. New York City has completely brainwashed me into thinking that every city should be walkable or at least have some sort of public transportation. This is not the right expectation to have, especially for SD where you have to take a car everywhere, so just be prepared to Uber and you'll be all set.
After I dropped off my things, I set out to explore Old Town which is an area that has historic buildings you can enter for free and makes you feel like you're in a Western film. I overestimated how long it would take to see Old Town and ended up heading to my next activity early...and thank goodness I did.
My next destination was a dock to go on a sunset cruise on a sailboat. The driver dropped me off at the wrong location and I didn't know better because there's water everywhere and I didn't know the exact water I needed to be on...so I walked for 45 minutes to find the proper location and am embarrassed to admit how upset this made me. Traveling by yourself is great (see this post about what solo travel has taught me), but when things go wrong and there's no one to help you other than yourself it's hard.
I did in fact make it to my sailboat and had a lovely ride! Definitely wish that I had someone to share it with, however, I made new friends and Sophia was kind enough to take photos of me. Plus I got to steer the boat (my days as a coxswain paying off) and I got a compliment from the Captain :) If you're in SD and want to go on a real deal sailboat, check out Sail Liberty. And make sure you bring an extra jacket to use along with the blankets provided, because it can get cold out there.

Day Two: Balboa Park, Ice Cream, and a Ferry Ride

Hansel and I met up on day two at Balboa Park, a beautiful place with so many plants and museums. First we took a tour of the desert garden and I felt like I was in a Dr. Seuss book.
Then we explored the greenhouse and the art museum. And had a photo shoot. Naturally.
After hanging out in Balboa, we got tacos and ice cream. The ice cream place, Hammond's, has so many flavors and you can get a sampler to enjoy a bunch!
We also went down to the water and took a ferry over to Coronado Island. The timing didn't work out well for getting to see much of the island before we had to turn back, but I was just excited to be on another boat haha
There we have it, two days in San Diego! I love exploring cities and am glad I got to check another one off my list. During the rest of my stay I got to check out the gaslamp district and would recommend that as well.

Have you ever been to San Diego? What city do you want to go to next?

-AJF
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May 23, 2018

How To Be Confident When Dating

I remember turning 16 and being bummed out that I was "sweet 16 and never been kissed." Not that any of my friends were more experienced (I went to an all-girls high school, so it's not like there was daily opportunity), but I still was anxious to start dating. I had a boyfriend in high school and went on a fair amount of dates after that, but after my first college boyfriend and I broke up, I began using dating apps and that's when the real fun began (I will admit I vacillated on using Tinder and ultimately made out better on Bumble, but overall I am very glad I used dating apps because they were a gateway to meet people).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Do you find yourself losing confidence or experiencing self-doubt when dating? Here's what you can do to change your mindset and embrace dating
I got to meet all types of guys and have different dates. From concerts, to picnics, to rock climbing, to museums, to movies, they introduced me to their interests and I had a fun time getting to know each one (well, most...there were definitely some dud dates mixed in there).

While it mostly came naturally to me, it was still hard to put myself out there. It's one thing to stop talking to someone who you've just been texting, but another thing to have someone decide, "hmm I've had the chance to spend time with you and now I've decided I'm not interested." But we know that going out there and giving it a try is the only way to find out if you are good for each other and when you gain confidence you can have an awesome time in the process.

Here are my top tips to be confident when dating and make the most of the experience.

Get your expectations in order

Dating with the expectation that you're quickly going to find the love of your life is not setting yourself up for success. While it could happen, the likelihood is slim and you're better off going into dates recognizing that you are learning about yourself and other people and hopefully doing fun things in the process. This mindset takes pressure off of the situation and allows you to relax; a key element of being confident.

Know that you have a lot to offer, and that not everyone is going to see it

It's essentially inevitable (there are always exceptions, which is why I keep using all of these qualifiers) that it's not going to work out more often than it does. If 16 year old me knew I'd have to kiss so many frogs before getting to the prince, I probably wouldn't have felt as bad about not getting started yet. 

So understanding that most things aren't going to pan out can be another way of taking the pressure off. I'm not saying you should be skeptical and never get invested, but you certainly don't need to look at every date as though it's the do-all and end all.

Experience is the only way you'll learn 

Being good at dating is like anything else: you have to practice. I learned so much from each guy I dated that prepared me for when I finally met the right guy. I figured out how to express myself and read other people better. I understood how much I was comfortable revealing and doing at each stage of our relationship. And while there are differences in every relationship, you can establish your baseline.

By adopting this mindset you can free your mind to focus on the fun and enjoyment of dating, learning about yourself and having new experiences without doubting your every move.

What are your best tips to be confident when dating? What's your biggest challenge? Would you like to see more relationship centered posts? Let me know!

-AJF
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