Category: life advice

How To Get Over Impostor Syndrome – For Real

Struggling wiath impostor syndrome? It happens to most of us! Click through for 7 confidence tips and feel better now >>

Dear Sarah,
I graduated from college three years ago and have a job in the field that I went to school for (public relations).  I’m working my way up the corporate ladder and receiving bigger and bigger accounts. 
The weird thing is, I feel like a total fraud.  Even though I went to school for this, I can’t shake the feeling that someday my bosses will wake up and yell “What are you doing here?!  Why did we give you that account?” 
My clients and supervisors are all happy with me but I constantly feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and that I’m a total fake. 
I feel like everybody else is on top of their game and that I’m just playing along. I am totally debilitated by the fear that I’m going to be “found out.” Am I being ridiculous?  How do I get over this?  Do I need to quit my job?
– Completely Fraudulent
Dear CF,
Oh, girl.  Honeybee, sweetheart.  I hear you.  Despite having a blog read by thousands of people, I frequently feel weird charging people to design social media or internet domination plans.  Why?  BECA– USE I DO NOT HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE IN THE INTERNET.  Such a thing does not exist, but that does not stop me from wanting one because then I’d feel like a real expert.

Though it probably won’t make you feel better, millions of people (incredibly accomplished, clever people) feel the same way. Look!  It’s even got a fancy name (impostor syndrome) and a wikipedia page!

How to get over impostor syndrome

Know that feeling this way doesn’t make you silly/weak/a useless pile of wet socks

It shows you’re considerate/conscientious/take your responsibilities seriously.  We all know plenty of a-holes that are over confident.  You are officially not one of those a-holes.

Take heart that most things worth doing have a high learning curve

We all mess up from time to time and just about everyone you know feels the same way when they’re starting something new.

Try to take note of when you’re feeling particularly fraudulent

and realize that it could just be impostor syndrome rearing its ugly head.  FEELING incompetent is not the same as ACTUALLY BEING incompetent. Click To Tweet  Repeat after me: “I’m good at this.  I’m good at this.  I’m good at this.”

Talk it out with (trusted!) friends and co-workers

There’s a good chance your co-workers will be able to put your fears in perspective. (“Dude!  You’re doing fine!  It took me 6 months to learn that software and you’ve only been at it for three weeks!”)

Stop downplaying your accomplishments

None of this “I was in the right place at the right time” or “I knew somebody inside the company.”  That serves no one and you’re discounting all your hard work.  How about “Thanks!” or “That’s so kind of you to say – I’ve been working really hard on it.”

When you’re feeling particularly self-doubt-y, remember all those accomplishments

What’s one missed deadline in the face of landing a $250,000 client or being valedictorian?

Know your limits

You’re probably not awesome at everything (I’m not!)  And that’s okay!  Be honest with yourself (and others) about those limits.  It’s an opportunity to openly learn from the masters.

Also: people love it when you ask them for help and advice!  There are probably people in your company who will fall all over themselves telling you how to format that website.

Attempt to get over your perfectionism

Anytime we learn new things, we’re going to make mistakes, yes?  I believe this is what they call “growth.”

Trust the people that hired you

If someone has been working in the industry for 15 years and thought you were the right candidate for the job?  They were probably right.  Trust that they knew what they were doing.

Have you ever felt like a fraud?  How did you get over it?

P.S. 13 ways to feel cuter + more confident

photo by cynthia magana // cc

How To Beat The ‘Is This It’ Blues

Suffering from the "Is this it?" blues? You're not alone and you're not stuck in this feeling forever. Click through for help getting out of this rut, changing your mindset, and feeling excited again. Dear Sarah,
I feel slightly ridiculous writing this email but I’m writing it nonetheless.

My life is good and I have very little to complain about.  I graduated last year with a degree in studio art and got a decent job doing graphic design for a mid-sized newspaper.  I live with my boyfriend, I’ve got a small but close group of friends.  I have an awesome dog and a cute apartment.  I use my vacation time to visit places that interest me.

So why am I bored and listless and slightly depressed?!  I can’t help but feeling overwhelmed by a sense of “Is this it?”  I’m pretty sure that this is the life that I’ve always been working towards but it just feels so…. mundane.

Get up, sit in traffic, work for 8 hours, sit in traffic, get home, make dinner for the boy, watch TV, go to bed, repeat.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!  I remember starting college and feeling so excited about starting my ‘real life.’  But now I’m here and it’s not doing anything for me.  What am I doing wrong?

– Oddly Listless
Dear OL,
You are not alone.  This feeling of listlessness is an epidemic that affects tens of millions of people.  That doesn’t mean that it’s ‘incurable’ or that it’s not valid but know that just about everybody feels like this from time to time. Me very much included!

What to do when you’re asking “Is this it?”

Compartmentalize the suck

You list the activities in your daily life – commuting, cooking for your boyfriend, sitting in traffic.  I would imagine that one or two of these things carries more suckage weight than the others.
Have a good think about the aspects of your daily life that are bringing you down; experiment a bit with compartmentalizing the suck.  How do you feel if you do everything the same – but don’t watch TV?  How do you feel if you do everything the same – but bike to work instead of drive?

Once you’ve cornered the suckiest components, work to lessen or remove them all together

If it’s the commute that really drags you down, get some awesome podcasts, ask your boss if you can work from home on Fridays, move closer to work when your lease ends. =If you hate cooking and washing up every night, get your boyfriend to cook on Mondays and Wednesdays or find a really cheap takeaway place.  If you hate your job?  Well, that deserves a post of its own.

Get rid of the tv

Or at least cancel the cable.  You literally burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV.  New studies show that it’s actually possible to become physically addicted to tv.  Television shows promote unattainable lifestyles and body types and every time I watch The Housewives of Whatever my blood pressure doubles.
Spend your evenings catching up with friends, going for runs, trying new ethnic restaurants, volunteering, attempting complicated recipes.
Or if you’re too worn down from work for all that?  Read a book, play with the cat, listen to smartypants podcasts, skype with friends in different time zones.  You don’t have to go cold turkey off TV, but save it for programs you really, really like.
Personal anecdote:  My best friend is Capt. Smartypant McHardworker.  She met her now-husband when she was 16, landed her current (awesome) job at 23 and bought a house at 25.  Super impressive, right?
Oddly, she found herself completely frustrated by her impressive life because she had not anticipated being a well-salaried, married home-owner until she was in her 30s.  She had everything she’d planned for five years too early.  She spent some time mooning around malcontentedly and then feeling guilty about her chronic malcontent.
But!  Then!  She and her husband decided to try something new!  They decided to start a brewery! She is completely excited and thrilled and so, so happy to be doing something new.  Her office job and house were not ‘it.’  They were just one part of the story, one phase in her life that will inevitably have many phases.
So if you’re feeling stuck and listless start thinking about the things in life that really excite you.  Travel!  Fashion!  Micro pigs!  Start crafting some new goals involving the things that excite you.  Realize that this is just one little phase in your life.  And if you don’t like this phase, work hard to start a new one.

Do new things

So let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you can’t really navigate out of this phase of your life.  Maybe you have kiddos or a mortgage or you take care of your parents.  That doesn’t mean you’re destined for a life of monotony, digging yourself further and further into your muddy little rut.
Try mini-new things: a new recipe, a new vegetable from the Asian market, a new TV show, a new body wash, a different park, a different drink at Starbucks.
When we start making mini changes and we realize that the world does not actually come crashing to a halt because we ordered an Americano instead of a Cappuccino, we can slowly build up the courage to try big new things.
Helpful links!
But I want to hear from you! Have you ever struggled with the ‘Is This It’ blues? If you have, how did you get back them? Tell us in the comments so we can learn from you!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

8 Unexpected Ways To Increase Your Attention Span

Want to increase your attention span? Don't we all? These focus tips will help you get more done and stay on task! >>
Welp, it’s official. I don’t have an attention span any more. It’s gone the way of Zubaz, Friendster, and the Dodo.

I don’t want to be the person who can’t sit still for more than ten minutes and won’t read things without bullet points!

I don’t want my instant reaction to a tough bit of code, an unpleasant email or some un-editable writing to be “Ugh. Has anything popped up in Google reader?  I’m going to see if anyone has responded to my latest hilarious Facebook update!”  Puke.

8 ways to increase your attention span 


Meditation has been scientifically proven to make you calmer, more focused and less likely to be depressed.  Simply set the timer on your phone for five minutes, sit with you back against the wall, close your eyes and actively empty your mind.  Ommmm-chanting and incense-burning not required!

Need a bit of help? Try the Calm app. Its free guided meditations are great for beginners!

Do a bit of physical activity

We’ve all heard it a million times – physical activity makes you happier, calmer, more focused and generally more awesome.  You don’t have to join a gym or do a Gillian Michael’s caliber workout to see the effects! A ten minute walk through the park, a few rounds of sun salutations or even just a dance break can do wonders.

Sometimes when I’m feeling listless, sleepy or unfocused, I’ll pull up the She Wolf video, put it on repeat, and dance around the kitchen for 10 minutes.  PROBLEM SOLVED.

Set a timer

Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique?  That ish will change your life.  The crux of it is this: set a timer for 25 minutes and then do one thing for those 25 minutes.

When the timer dings, you get a five-minute break to do whatever you want, then you set the timer again and keep going.  And no multitasking!  Here’s another variation on this technique that uses boredom as a motivator.

Do five more

Your attention span is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the better it gets.  So if you hit a wall force yourself to do “five more.”  Read for five more minutes, do five more problems, write five more sentences.  You might catch a second wind and if you don’t?  At least, you’ve been slightly more productive and you’ve stretched your attention span muscle.

Limit your screen time

No surprise here, right? Close your laptop and physically put it away after 8 pm. Read a book, watch a movie in a theater, work on a home project. If you’re at a loss for screen-free ways to spend your evenings, here are 23 ways to unplug.

Have a snack

Kids aren’t the only ones who get cranky and shifty when their blood sugar is low.  I rarely produce anything worth reading after 3 pm but if I eat some nuts or fruit, I can usually string sentences together till at least 6:00!

Think of happy stuff

If you can’t concentrate because half of your brain is obsessing over your botched work presentation or that thing your frenemy said, take a break and think of good stuff.

Look at the sky for two minutes. Check out Pumpkin The Racoon’s Instagram feed.  Send a sweet email to a friend.  Write down all the different ways you can deal with that thing that’s bugging you and then imagine you’re pushing that problem out the door and turning your key in the lock.

Cheater methods

These won’t actually cure your jacked up attention span – but they will put a cute Hello Kitty bandaid on it.


It’s a Chrome app, designed especially to block you from attention-span draining sites! It even allows you to set time limits for specific sites, so you can give yourself access to Facebook … but only for 15 minutes a day.

Wifi-free coffee shops

I’m fairly sure these still exist, somewhere in rural America. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you don’t have the option to access the internet! If you live in Minneapolis, the Melo Glaze bakery serves coffee, amazing pastries, and doesn’t have wifi.

Stick with good ol’ fashioned, non-wifi internet at home

I know a self-employed couple whose lives slowly devolved into working on their laptops from bed, 18 hours a day. So they reverted to a one-internet-cable household and now if they want to work together, they make an active choice to find a wifi coffee shop, set a time frame, and get to work.
If they want to use the internet at home, they can use it one-at-a-time, sitting at a desk. How novel!


Seriously. I know that coffee makes some people jittery and insane, but for me it’s Liquid Ambition.

How’s your attention span? Any tricks to share?

P.S. The Art of Doing

Photo by Han Chau on Unsplash

How To Tell People Things They Don’t Want To Hear

Want communication tips for awkward conversations? This one phrase makes it much, MUCH easier to tell people things they don't want to hear. Click through and find out what it is >>

Friends. Imagine, if you will, the following scenarios:

1. You’re out on the town with your workmates, enjoying a drink at a bar you don’t usually frequent. Out of the corner of your eye, you see your BFF’s boyfriend canoodling with someone who is definitely not your BFF.

There’s no mistaking it – you’re totally sure it’s him, you’re totally sure he’s not ‘just friends’ with this girl, and you’re totally sure your workmate is NOT in an open relationship.

2. You’re about to head out to a party with your sister and she’s wearing something that is deeply, deeply unflattering. The girls at this party are going to give her the sideeye and whisper disparagingly about her.

3. Your roommate is going through The Worst Break Up Ever and in a fit of weakness/drunkenness, she is about to send an email to her terrible ex brokering a peace treaty. This ex cheated on her, shared her sexual proclivities with the internet and is – let’s be honest – is a Grade A Garbage Person.

Obviously (obviously!) you need to say something. But how do you broach these topics without your friend turning her hate/shame/sadness on you?There is no fool proof method. Some of that shame/hate/sadness will probably splash on you in the process of doing the right thing.

There is one phrase that I’ve found helpful in these deeply awkward situations:

“I’d be remiss in my duty as your friend if I didn’t tell you ________”

Here’s why I (think) it works:

It’s bizarrely, hilariously formal

You almost can’t take issue with something that sounds like it’s coming from a contract agreement.

It shows that you take this friendship seriously and you value this person

You’re not being an a-hole when you tell your sister that dress isn’t great. You’ve got her best interest in mind.

It’s non-confrontational

When you say this, your friend (hopefully) won’t interpret it as “Your boyfriend’s a loser and therefore you’re a loser for being with him” or “You’re a slut with cheap, tacky taste in clothing.” Hopefully, they’ll hear “I care about you enough to tell you the thing you need to hear.”Again, this is not foolproof.

Good friend = saying 'I'd be remiss in my duty as your friend if I didn't tell you _______' Click To Tweet

I cannot guarantee your friend will react to your comments with hugs and exclamations of appreciation. But it’s slightly more likely than if you tell her that that dress makes her look like a ho.

Do you have any methods for telling people things they don’t want to hear?

P.S. I totally stole this method from my own BFF who used it on me! And I didn’t get defensive, which is kind of a miracle in itself!

photo credit fredrick kearney jr //cc

How To Become A Grown Up

Trying to figure out how to become a grown up? Want some solid adulting advice? Just trying to figure out life after college? This post-college advice will help!

Dear Sarah,

I’m currently in my third year of undergrad and I feel completely unnerved. I’m studying Communication Studies and am second guessing myself. My passions and interests are so varied (education, public advocacy, public health) that I’m feeling pulled in so many directions.

Will my degree be enough to land me a job after graduation? Can I survive working at a non-profit that pays approx. $2? How do I find the resources to network and find jobs? Do I have the courage to move? How long should I wait for grad school? What do I want to study in grad school?

How do I get the good paying job that fulfills my pay-it-forward needs? Will I ever have the time/money/opportunity/courage to travel/move abroad? How do I get where I really want to go? What do I really want?

Oh, friend. This? This is a million dollar question.

How To Become A Grown Up: Short Answer

You won’t wake up one day with all of the answers. Nobody has it all figured out. Even if it seems like they do, they don’t. And that’s okay.

How To Become A Grown Up: Long Answer