How does minimalism work?

How does minimalism work?

Growing up, I had a walk-in closet, 2 dressers, 2 night stands, and a desk in my bedroom. In high school, my step dad built me a bed frame with built in shelves. I had every storage item in my room, packed to the max. I had too much stuff, and as an indecisive person, that’s a problem. I would get rid of enough stuff so I could close my drawers. That would only last for so long. It was never a good solution for my problem. But it ‘worked’ while I was in high school.

When I went to school my freshman year, I packed about half of my closet. I had decent storage in my dorm. Then I bought a plastic storage container from Walmart, for more storage. Once again, I had all my drawers packed, no matter how I folded my clothing. This continued throughout undergrad. I continued to move back and forth half of my closet. The biggest issue with this is that I either didn’t wear ⅓ of it, or I wore ⅓ once or twice a school year. I didn’t actually realize that until my senior semester.

Halfway through my senior semester, I had to sit down and figure out my clothing situation. I was preparing to move in with my boyfriend. He lived in a townhouse, with about one good sized closet. There was no way I could take all the clothing that I had been carting back and forth for the last 3.5 years. It was at this point when I started looking into minimalism. Trying to find a better solution for my clothing and to keep what I actually wear.

Minimalism has been described as a lifestyle relating to living with less. I watched countless hours of videos, podcasts, and even read Marie Kondo’s book. Below I will link some good resources. After countless days of researching, I was ready to dive in. I asked my boyfriend to come over and assist me in decluttering. I did not want to get rid of some clothing and put a bandaid on the problem. I wanted his opinion for 1) do I actually wear it enough and 2) does it look good on my body. This was the first time in my life that I was brutal to my clothing. It took hours to go through all my clothing and I had moments of frustration. This was not an easy task for me.

But once I was done and put away all my clothing I was keeping, I felt really good. Finding clothing in the morning was so much easier. I felt good with my closet situation. I donated about 2-3 garbage bags. I threw out about one garbage bag of trash from broken or over used clothing. I had never gone this in depth with my declutter. This was the first purge. This allowed me to finish out school with a better number of clothing articles. 

After I moved in, I still had an issue of a little too much clothing. We went out to IKEA and bought a clothing rack and small dresser. I decided that my seasonal clothing would go on the clothing rack. My everyday wear of t-shirts, leggings, and undergarments would go in the dresser. The out of season clothing went into the little closet space I had. I folded my clothing in the Marie Kondo style. But I removed about 2 more bags of clothing at this point in time. I removed even more shoes. Getting rid of shoes is my kryptonite.

Once again, I felt amazing when I removed all the clothing I still wasn’t wearing after the initial purge. For work, I wear the same things; a top, jeans, and running shoes. That’s it. My workwear is casual considering I am in residential care. I need to be able to move easy and play with the kids. Things were going good but every so often when I opened my drawers, I would see the shirts I don’t wear. But for some reason I couldn’t get rid of them. I was a bit stuck. 

I am currently moving into our first home. We do have more space there than our current townhouse. But I’m not buying tons of clothing. Between the two of us, we removed another 4 garbage bags for donation. The shirts that were sitting in my drawers I wasn’t touching, have finally gone. I have about 2 shirts that I’m not crazy about but they were from my fraternity so I feel weird donating those shirts. But from 7 shirts to 2, is progress. 

I am in the midst of buying staple pieces. I am getting 3 plain neutral t-shirts. This will allow me to get rid of my graphic tees. This will simplify my outfits even more. This will allow me to be more intentional and practical with my wardrobe. A big section of my closet is crop tops, I have about 5 but I alternate between them on my days off. I feel good in every shirt in my closet. I don’t have uncomfortable shirts, and no shirts that I wear every blue moon. I own about 6 pairs of jeans in different styles and colors. I have light wash, medium, dark, and black jeans. 2 pairs are ripped so I alternate those on my days off. I own 3 running shorts, 4 shorts, 4 leggings, 2 skirts, 3 dress pants, and 2 joggers. The only thing that is not getting much wear at the moment are my dress pants. Due to the fact that it is summer and I’m about to start grad school, they can stay. If I don’t wear these in grad school I will get rid of them. I do still have 7 dresses, I may go through my dresses once the summer season ends. Any dress I don’t wear or don’t feel good in, is being donated. 

The biggest portion of my closet is my hoodie section. I used to have about 20 hoodies. At this point, I own about 8 but these aren’t getting decluttered anytime soon. Hoodies have always been a hygge-like thing for me. (Hygge is related to daily coziness. More on this at a later date.) I wear a hoodie every day, whether I am at home or at work. These have always sparked joy and are practical in my closet. 

Minimalism has helped me throughout the last 10 months. I don’t spend forever deciding what to wear. I don’t struggle with clothing that doesn’t fit me right. For this article, I focused mostly on clothing, but I decluttered my office supplies and kitchen gear. I have a refillable notebook, 1 pencil, 2 pens, and 4 highlighters instead of 15 unused notebooks, 30 colored pens, 10 highlighters, and 15 pencils. The benefits I have received from minimalism doesn’t just extend to just clothing. 

My home is easier to clean, everything has a home, and by having less things they are used more often. I have shifted to buying quality items because I am using them more. I have less items but they are being loved. I don’t have a shirt that’s been hiding in my closet for 5 years and only been used once with a certain bra. I don’t have special mugs or a million travel mugs. I grab one, fill it, and wash it for the next day. This prevents a million dishes piling up. I can clean my space easily and quickly. I used to have to sit down and figure out where I put a specific item but now I don’t have to think anymore. I know where my medicine is, where the glass cleaner is, where extra paper towels are etc. There is no time spent thinking and hunting. 

My minimalism stems from practical use. I need to be able to use the item and love it frequently. I no longer desire to have those one time use items. I don’t desire going on huge shopping sprees. If I do go shopping, I follow a one in one out rule. If I buy a new shirt, I get rid of an old one. When I buy new quality sweaters for the fall, I’m getting rid of some that have been loved a little too much over the fall and winter months. But once I get all my staple pieces situated, I doubt I will be doing much shopping. Unless it is something that screams 100% yes, and has a purpose, I won’t be buying. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe or 2 bowls but this works for me and my lifestyle. If you struggle with decisions, I strongly suggest trying minimalism even for a month. You can just pack things up for a month and just use the things you love. But you may not go back to having 20 shirts, 17 dresses, 20 untouched books, and 10 mugs. 

Resources:

There are so many more resources that I have used but these are a good start.

The Minimalist podcast (theminimalists.com/podcast/).

Marie Kondo- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing-ebook/dp/B00KK0PICK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)

Ashlynne Eaton- What’s your minimalist personality type (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9npY6VvwU4

Matt D’Avella- A day in the life of a minimalist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG2GJZcBKOE)

Rejected from a Ph.D. program, now what?

Rejected from a Ph.D. program, now what?

When I applied to undergraduate programs, I was accepted to all 3 universities with no issues. No wait list and no rejection came from that process. Graduate school applications are not the same as undergraduate. As the title says, I was rejected from the programs. So this blog is about how I dealt with my rejection. And how I didn’t cope with it for a bit. 

The Ph.D trackline for Clinical Psychology is a whole different ball park. Not only do you need certain classes, but you also need research, possible publication, clinical experience, higher than a 3.5 GPA, and about 160 on Verbal and 155 on Qualitative for the GRE. Many of these steps are not easy on their own, let alone with a full schedule and not very good balance. I had bits and pieces, along with help from my advisor for my personal statements. I finished the school year with a 3.57 GPA, so not too shabby if I do say so myself. I had about a year of research going into my senior semester. So I started an independent project with a professor of mine and presented it at my college’s social science symposium. The summer before my senior semester, I gained my clinical experience. I studied for months and took practice tests for the GRE. I took the GRE twice, the first time I got 142 V and 154 Q. So I needed to study more verbal. So the second time round, the testing site was next door to a bar that was having a Halloween party at 12 pm on a Saturday. So even with the soundproof headphones, I could still hear “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. My scores from that test were 152 V and 149 Q. The scores were not perfect but I was hoping that it wouldn’t be the only factor keeping me out of the program. For some programs I had to take the Psych GRE and I scored very well. I got a 680 which puts me in the 66th percentile. I thought I was a good candidate for a Ph.D. program. My advisor thought that getting into the program shouldn’t be an issue, he was working with me since I changed my major. 

I hit submit before Thanksgiving break, and I was broke after applying to 7 programs. There are so many fees included with applying which sucks. But this started the waiting game. During this waiting game, I graduated and started my full time job. One day, after a rough shift at work, I got an email from Michigan State. It was early January at this point. It was my first rejection letter. It crushed me. I knew going into it that Michigan would be a stretch but I wasn’t expecting it to be my first rejection. Then February came around and I didn’t really hear anything. Which was not a good sign. Then the rejections started rolling in as the shut down came in. The first one hurt the most. By the 5th one, I was numb to the rejection. I didn’t know what my next step was. I didn’t know what I would do.

I took the month of March and half of April to focus on work. It was easy considering things changed dramatically in response to COVID-19. Finally I emailed my advisor to ask what I should do now. He was surprised to hear that I was rejected from all of my programs. He offered for me to join his newest research project. We would be working on a meta analysis with 2-3 other people. This would give me a publication if I continue in on it and help write the paper when we reach that step. Having gone 4 months without doing research, this was exciting. So I joined the project and met up with someone who was working on the project too.

Part of me gave up the idea of graduate school entirely for a year. That I would reapply Fall 2020. But that made me nervous to be away from school for over a year and a half. This was around the time when my boyfriend talked to me about the possibility of a master’s program. Which started me down a rabbit hole of searching, and if you want to read more my last two blog posts go more into it. It has taken me awhile to be okay with I’m not going to have Ph.D. by the time I’m 28. I might go back for it or I might not. I am more open to seeing where my next step takes me. This is something new for me, to be okay with the unknown. 

Originally I wanted to look into the relation between anxiety and depression. As I continue with my current population and just talking with my supervisor. I think my research interests might shift to transgenerational trauma. I had never heard of that term prior to working in the field. While working, I think I’m going to try to look into current research relating to transgenerational trauma. So if I do reapply I’ll have a good understanding of the topic and can come up with a research project relating to it. Which is something that Ph.D. programs want to see that you’re capable of it. 

Did I think I would be here a year ago? No, absolutely not. But I am not mad or upset at that. I was rejected and in the moment it sucked. I have accepted the rejections at this point and am moving forward. I am excited to go for a masters. This will allow me more understanding in the clinical field. This will help me to excel at my job. This is not a form of settling or having regrets. What happened, happened and no amount of regret is going to change that. This degree will still move me in a forward direction in the clinical field even if it’s not a Ph.D. I am still young have so many experiences and chances in front of me. So I am not worried, I am going with where life takes me. I don’t think I would have this same mindset, had I been accepted this first round of applications. But I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and if I decide to go for a second round of applications, I will be ready for it. Until then, we are living in the here and now. Not 10 years down the line. 

What a Break Taught me.

What a Break Taught me.

By my sophomore year of undergrad, I knew I wanted to finish early. At the start of sophomore year, it was more so due to financial concerns with my university. By the end of my junior year I was tired and burnt out. I didn’t realize that I would be so burnt out by the end of my junior year. During my 3.5 years, for the most part of my undergrad career I took at least 18 credit hours. I started out as a music major so that was the norm. When I switched majors to Psychology my sophomore year, I kept that norm. There were about 2 or 3 semesters where I only took 16 credit hours. When I told my boyfriend that I was going down to 16, he still thought I was doing a lot. While I had 6-8 classes, that wasn’t what burnt me out. If I  was just going to class then home, I think I would’ve been fine and not burnt out. Yet, I was in about 2-3 clubs my Freshman and sophomore year. I was also in my professional fraternity since the end of my freshman year. 

Balancing all of that, was exhausting. I have heard from so many friends and professors who said that junior year is typically the hardest year. Going into junior year, I was still on track to graduate early but was still balancing many clubs. I thought if I let one go, my stress and workload would go away. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Before my first semester of junior year ended, I had countless breakdowns. A turning point was when I dropped all the clubs other than my fraternity. When I say that lighted the load, I’m not even kidding. But the effects of doing all that, still left me burnt out. 

During my last semester of school, I had 5 classes and the bare minimum was needed from me for my fraternity. That was entirely different to what I was used to. So I had time to go work out and work on a research project. At this time, I was applying for Ph.D. programs (spoiler alert, I didn’t get into any. I’ll get more into that in a later blog post). The most stressful thing on my plate was applying to Ph.D. programs and finding out my plan for the inbetween. The start of this semester was a breeze. But when applications started opening up, I was stressing out all over again. When graduation rolled around, I was tired but happy with finishing undergrad. This was a huge accomplishment for a first generation college student.

When I was still in my last semester, I received an email from the Psych department about an internship opportunity. This internship was for a residential facility in the area. I thought I would send in my information, then go in and ask for a job rather than an internship. I didn’t want to take away the internship opportunity from a current student. Right before going to the facility, I printed out my resume and brought it in my purse. They had a group q&a for 3 internship applicants. I met with the lead therapist and program director. While we waited for the director, I was talking with the therapist about my experience at my last job. I worked in another residential facility with a different population. For confidentiality of my work, I will not specify the populations or age group. At the end of the q&a, they asked if we had any questions. I pulled every ounce of courage and explained; I am about to graduate and wanted a job. I gave them my resume and thanked them for everything.

A couple of weeks later, I sent them an email asking about any updates regarding my job request. I was told I wouldn’t need an interview and that I could come in and talk specifics. Mind you, I am normally very anxious when it comes to meeting new people and speaking up. They originally offered me a Residential Case Manager job/residential specialist. Meaning I would balance a case load and running groups every other weekend. If there was not enough case management, then I would be on the unit with the clients. They allowed me to take the rest of December off to celebrate graduation. This allowed me to spend time with my parents before moving in with my boyfriend who lives in the area of my undergrad and now work. 

The first month was me just training to be a case manager. By the end of my second month there, I met productivity which allowed me to shift to full time Residential Case Manager. Starting off, I loved working full time. I loved working with my clients and even though running weekend groups can get rough, it still is nice. This was different than going to 6-8 classes, a couple of clubs, and balancing relationships. Things were going smooth for a few months, even though I got rejected from Ph.D. programs. 

Then we ran into the issue of the pandemic and I kept hitting walls with my clients. I didn’t know how to best help them. So I would be going in circles with my supervisor aka the lead therapist. I would ask how to best help a certain problem and how to work with certain clients. My supervisor has taught me a lot of information in the 6 months that I have been at my work. I learned about using a token system for my younger client and ways to communicate with older clients. I took a free course about motivational interviewing that my supervisor found for me. That course was very insightful and definitely shifted how I interact with some clients. Some of the information that I’ve learned while working, I never learned in my undergrad experience.

But there are still times when I get stuck and by the time I talk to my supervisor, it feels like it’s too late. The client has moved onto what their current issue is that week. So I’m in this weird limbo of what to do. My boyfriend has been lending ear to all of my concerns and supported me when I was rejected. My boyfriend asked about what I thought regarding a master’s program. I had a friend who suggested applying to a Ph.D. and master’s program at the same time but I couldn’t afford that at the time. I spent a few days thinking and researching. Yet, many applications were closed because most students apply by February. I originally shifted to full online programs. Thankfully, I went back to my supervisor for her advice. She knew the director of a MSW program that was a hybrid program. She emailed her, and I was allowed to apply by the end of May. 

This is the program that I am currently enrolled in. And my job offers tuition reimbursement which is a blessing. This will keep me from going even further in student debt. I am grateful for the break from school that I have been given so far. This break has taught me so much about myself and about my clients. At the same time, it left me yearning for more school. I want to learn different ways of helping my current clients and my future clients. By keeping my current job this allows me to keep learning my clients and learning things outside of class. But by going to school, this will give me more knowledge to pull from. This will allow me to be more creative with working with clients. This break has refreshed my love of learning and I never thought that would happen.

Why a MSW program?

Why a MSW program?

As I started this blog post, I had to take a moment and really think of what was motivating me to go for a masters. When I was in undergrad, one of the best pieces of advice was “Graduate school is hard. But that spark that you feel in you now, remember that when things get tough. That will push you through Grad school.”

That spark I felt was right around when I was talking about working with people. I was talking to a girl who came to my sophomore seminar course to talk about getting a masters in counseling. She said that to me when we sat in a Panera while I asked a million questions about grad school. She has somewhat of a similar situation I find myself in now. She had taken a break from school and worked as a case worker in the area. After a year, she went back for counseling. Whereas I am here after a few months going into a social work program.

Starting as a case manager right after undergrad, there have been many times where I don’t know how to reach my clients or talk to my clients. I have had to think on my feet or wait until I could talk to my supervisor. It’s frustrating when I prefer to go on my own and figure out solutions. But then I run into the issue of not really reaching my clients. Also, I would like to reach a point where I could become a therapist. I think it would be great to start a private practice one day. I have played around with that idea for a few years. Yet, I need to get more into the field and get more experience. So by going back for my masters, will allow me to have 3 different internships. This will grant me more experiences with working with people and more problem solving skills. Throughout this program, I think it will help me with my current caseload and future case loads.

By going through a part time program, it will allow me to continue working full time. If I had dropped my work hours to part time, then I would be going to full time school. But financially I am comfortable at working full time. I can pay my car, my groceries, bills, and have a little spending money. I have had this comfortable financial level for the past 6 months. The last thing I want to do is restrict my quality of life for a degree. I am a strong believer in self care and a form of self care is financial self care. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I had a budget of $100 per month. I will admit my parents paid for my cost of living on campus. I had no car and no bills. I had to finance my groceries and if I went out. So to have the opportunity to work full time and pay for my current lifestyle, I do not want to revert back to where I was. I want to continue being self-reliant in the financial world. I want to hold my own and continue moving forward.

At this point in time, I do not know if I will stop my formal education at a master’s program. Throughout undergrad, I knew I wanted to continue on to graduate school. But I’m still playing around with the idea of eventually going back for a Ph.D. I will be flexible with my goals. I do not know where the master’s will take me. I don’t know if I’ll be burnt out from formal education and need a break for a few years. We will see where these next 3 years take me. The only thing I know at the moment, the masters feels like a step in the right direction. I recognize that it’s going to be hard but as long as I remember my spark, I think I can do it. 

Sincerely,

Semita ❤

Blog Beginnings

Blog Beginnings

Hello all, my name is Semita. For my first blog post, I thought I would go ahead and insert a blurb about myself. I am currently 22 years old. I have finished my undergraduate degree in December 2019. I got a BA in Psychology with a minor in Music. I have been working as a case manager in a residential treatment facility. 

After a few months, I have been craving to go back to school. I applied and was accepted to a part time Masters in Social Work. So I will still be working full time as a case manager but going to school 2 times a week. I wanted to take a moment to document my adventure of being a graduate student while working full time. I will be taking 3 classes and eventually do internships while working with my caseload. This will allow me to start paying down my undergraduate loans and advancing in my career. 

The program itself is a hybrid program, meaning I would be on campus every other week. Yet, with the global pandemic, I do not know if my first semester will be fully online or not. I will just go with the flow. I am also going to be transferring over to a paperless system. This will allow me to keep important documents and text books without cluttering my home. 

This will definitely be unlike anything I have ever done before. So as I begin this adventure, I hope you will join me on this adventure. Join me on the highs, lows, the paperless, and the countless amounts of coffee. 

Sincerely,

Semita ❤