Return from BullCon

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Image courtesy of Julie Lavoie. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I spent this weekend in Miami, in a very fancy hotel, planning my 2014, reflecting on my 2013, and wearing a jaunty white hat with a glitter unicorn horn on it. It was a very nerdy, very delightful way to spend my post-Thanksgiving weekend after what has been, to put it mildly, A Year.

It turns out that career networking conferences are totally great when they’re full of Cuban food and delightful people from the internet. Who knew?

For those who I haven’t told about this approximately 8000 times in the last few months, I was attending BullCon 2013, the first (hopefully annual) conference attached to the career column (and now, store) Bullish, written by a woman named Jen Dziura for ladies who want to Get Shit Done. It’s a column (and a conference) for the sort of folks who think an article named “Maybe Work-Life Balance Means You Need to Work More” is funny and inspiring, rather than cause for alarm. The mascot is a purple bullicorn (bull + unicorn) named Sheila.

The full conference was covered in admirable detail by my roommate (also an Emily), whose articles you can read here. All of the panels were useful and fun and funny, but thinking about what I was going to write while sitting in the airport lounge waiting for my flight home, one part of the conference really stood out for me. In the middle of Jen Dziura’s panel on designing your 2014, sitting by the pool and filling out the truly gigantic worksheet packet that she had charged us with completing, I set about defining my values.

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On Existential Itching

Today I am going to talk about something that isn’t street festivals. (And lo, the small-but-dedicated blog audience cheered.) Instead of fried foods sold from tents, I want to talk about motivation–specifically, the complete lack of it that I have had since moving off campus.

I used to be the queen of Getting Shit Done (it’s like GTD with yelling). I was that weirdo that scheduled her homework six weeks in advance and then sat down and did it. I never pulled an all-nighter, and I was always in bed by midnight. My to-do list system detailed in that blog post worked very well for me.

Then senior year happened, and I just… stopped wanting to do what was on the list. I stopped wanting to check my email because doing so gave me a list of terrifying new things that I’d have to incorporate into my schedule. When my laptop charger died and my computer wasn’t terribly useable, I used this as an excuse to simply not look at online readings for a few weekends.

I’ve become a walking example of the creeping sense of dread that motivates people to be so on their Inbox Zero game. (For those who haven’t seen the original talk–which I highly recommend–Merlin Mann argues that allowing email to accumulate leads to this horrible dread where folks eventually shut down and quit processing anything, which is… not helpful.)

I’m pretty sure this is all due to the twin facts that I am currently living in a lovely, quiet, off-campus apartment and that I am underloading on classes.

Because here’s the thing: dorms suck in many different ways. (For example, shower vomit.) But as much as dorm life sucks, there is a great sense of camaraderie underlying it. Everyone is there for the same purpose, and being around peers who are constantly studying makes it very easy to do the same. That’s why you’re in the dorms, by their very nature, unless you’re someone’s off-campus boyfriend who’s living there for free and everyone hates you.

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