Friday, August 7, 2015

Lifestyle changes

As of late, I've been very interested in learning more about plant-based eating. I think it all started when I followed a few vegans on Instagram and their photos of colorful, abundant, and vibrant food popped up on my feed. It's amazing how natural food can feed the eyes, soul, and body.

Plant-based eating focuses heavily on fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Numerous studies show that this lifestyle has many health benefits and since adapting this lifestyle, I've noticed fewer headaches and clearer skin. I also lost some weight!

Back in high school, I was a vegetarian up until my sophomore year in college. So, a total of four years. I started consuming dairy products and animal protein again because college was equivalent to greasy pizza, fat sandwiches (i. e chicken fingers, fries, mozzarella sticks, lettuce, tomato, white sauce, etc.), buffalo wings, cupcakes, and potachoes.

I'm back on the bandwagon and am excited to see where this journey takes me! I joined a vegetarian/vegan group on and have followed tons of vegans on Instagram for inspiration. I'm trying to exercise at least three times a week, whether it be running, cycling, or walking. And I quit drinking.

I feel so confident in my skin and know that I'm putting good things into my body. There's really no greater feeling.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I don't owe prettiness to anyone

You don't have to be pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’. -Diana Vreeland

Back in April, I chopped off (pretty much) all my hair because I wanted to try something new. 'If not now, when?' I thought. My hair was always long, thick, and a large part of my identity. Almost every day, I'd curl it because otherwise, it was awkwardly straight/wavy/frizzy. When I cut my hair, I didn't tell a soul. When my mom picked me up from the train station, she was pretty surprised and didn't look happy. "As women, we have a right to have long, beautiful hair," she recently said. And I don't disagree with this sentiment. I'd be lying to you and myself if I said I don't miss my hair (almost) every single day. When something's a part of you for 20+ years, you're bound to miss it when it's gone. 

However, since cutting my hair, I've learned that hair is just hair and it grows back. I've also learned that some people have certain expectations as to how I should appear. My dad, for example, isn't afraid to express his feelings about my hair length and has said without hesitation, "You look like a boy." I don't take it personally because well, he's my dad and he grew up in South Korea. His standards of beauty are very traditional and influenced by his native country (i.e women should be thin, have long hair, etc.)

At the same time, I wish he and many other people would understand that it's not my job to be pretty or feminine. And having short hair doesn't make me any less of a woman. This is something I also need to remind myself on a regular basis.

Why is there so much emphasis on beauty and being pretty? Why not on intelligence, being outspoken, kind, thoughtful, and brave? This confuses me.

During freshman year of college, I met a boy in my residence hall and he said something I still remember to this day: "You're really smart." For the first time, a guy complimented me on something other than my physical appearance.

Another boy whom I dated once said, "You're pretty but you're not beautiful." What a strange and insensitive thing to say to someone. Rather than dumping him (for reasons I haven't mentioned), which I should've done, I kept waiting for affirmation. Waiting for him to say "I love you" and "You are beautiful."

It's silly how long I waited to hear those words. Why do I need to be beautiful? Will being beautiful pay my bills? Will it stop injustice in the world? Will it solve all my problems? I doubt it.

These days, if someone tells me I'm pretty or beautiful, I'm flattered. However, it doesn't define me nor is it my responsibility to live up to it. And I'm glad I know this now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fail early and often

I'm a human being so I'm going to make mistakes. I'm not perfect and neither are you - and that's okay.

I guess I should start off by giving some context. I had a job interview today with a magazine company and wore high-waisted jean shorts. I admit that I made a mistake and as someone who has experience in HR, I should know that first impressions are really important. However, I would never share what someone was wearing to a job interview on social media. That, to me, is not professional nor is it nice (You could also argue that I wasn't professional). So, if you haven't already guessed...the individual that interviewed me today tweeted about my attire.

When I saw the tweet, I felt a knot in my stomach and my confidence vanished within seconds. At first, these thoughts ran through my mind: 

How could I have worn jean shorts to a job interview? Am I crazy?  

What is wrong with me? 

And then those thoughts turned into:

How could someone be so insensitive and share a private detail about an interviewee when their account is public? 

Ultimately, I withdrew my application. No matter how many times I tried justifying the tweet, something didn't feel right. 

If this experience has taught me anything, it's that I have little control over what people choose to say, write, or think about me (also, that I shouldn't wear jean shorts to an interview). However, I have a choice to turn a negative situation into something positive. And by sharing this experience, I hope someone out there can learn something from it. And by something, I mean two things.  

A) Dress up more than you think you should to a job interview and
B) No one has a right to make you feel bad about yourself (and don't give them that right)

I also came across this quote today from Gary Vaynerchuk and Suzy Welch, which changed my perspective on the situation:

Fail early and gives you heart for people who are also falling down. Empathy.

P.S Happy birthday mom. Thank you for teaching me how to stand up for myself. I love you. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Resume tips + misc. advice from a former HR intern

Since late February, early March, I was interning at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel with the Human Resources department. I met really kind people and learned a lot along the way.

One of my main responsibilities was looking at candidate's resumes for internships and calling them to schedule an interview. Since then, I've learned what hiring managers consider and care about, and I noticed what makes a good, solid resume. Here are some tips and recommendations based on my experience.

1. Don't save your resume as THIS IS THE BEST RESUME EVER or Hire me!. You'll definitely stand out but not in a good way. It just looks unprofessional and a hiring manager won't take you seriously. I recommend saving your resume in this format: First name, Last name - Resume.

2. This is obvious but make sure there are no grammatical, spelling, or formatting errors. You don't want that to be the first thing the hiring manager notices. Proofreading your resume may be tedious but it's so important that you do. Spending an extra 5 minutes can make all the difference.

3. This isn't a requirement by any means but I highly recommend writing your heading (i.e Name, email address, address, etc.) in caps. In one situation, someone had a '1' and an 'L' side by side in their email address and it was very hard for me to decipher. If a hiring manager types in the wrong email address when reaching out to you, you'll never receive the email. And it's not their fault.

4. My supervisor told me to skip over resumes if they included a photo of themselves. I never asked why but I think the reason is because hiring managers aren't supposed to know how a candidate looks like until the actual interview. It also makes sense that a hiring manager would want to hire an individual based on their skills and background, not their appearance.

5. If you're applying for a position in a different state or country, your chances of getting the job go down. It's unfortunate but it's the truth. For every out of state/country candidate, there are 20 that are in-state. If you found your dream job in a different state or country, write that you're willing to relocate and can arrange housing.

6. Don't ask your mom, a sweet grandma, or your powerful dad to call the company on your behalf. If you're curious about where you stand or want to follow up after an interview, make the call yourself. It's as simple as that.

7. Most hiring managers prefer in-person interviews over phone and Skype interviews. While most of them are willing to have a phone/Skype interview, it can affect their final decision. In this one situation, a hiring manager had to choose between two candidates and he chose the one that came to the hotel. He said "X made an effort to come to the hotel while Y didn't so why should I hire Y?"

8. Don't give anyone, the security guard, the secretary, the janitor, etc. an attitude or be rude. While I wasn't the one actually interviewing the candidates, I was the first person they spoke to. If they sounded unenthusiastic, ungrateful, or gave me an attitude, I definitely noticed. Sometimes I told my supervisor that I didn't get a good impression of them. The candidates that stood out to me were friendly, enthusiastic, and gracious.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My life is a lot cooler on Instagram

If you were to go on my Instagram account right now, you'd see pictures of delicious food, New York City, selfies, and a lot of coffee. At first glance, one might think: "Man. Her life in the city looks awesome." And while it is, no doubt, it's not as glamorous as it seems. My life is a lot cooler on Instagram and on social media.

Here's a good example. I shared a picture of Ella Woodward's cookbook alongside a plate of vegan food, and lemon-cucumber water on the rooftop. It looks picturesque but behind the scenes, it was pure chaos. My things were flying everywhere because it was really windy that day. After 10 minutes, I called it quits and went back into my apartment. I couldn't help but laugh a little inside.

The photo's caption is: It was a long but productive day. Relaxing, eating a snack, and reading before I work out! It wasn't relaxing and I couldn't read because it was so windy. I did eat, however.

No one shows pictures of their brown-bagged lunch that they took to work that day or a really spotty banana because it's boring (and too realistic). If my Instagram photos truly mirrored my life, I'm pretty confident I would have half as many followers, if that. I'm not perfect and my life is no where near perfect. My photos? Well, they're okay.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Losing and finding my identity

 Before I started working, I thought a few things:

a) Money and the status that comes with your job will bring you happiness

b) The amount of money you make and your job title defines who you are

Boy, was I wrong.

When I had just graduated from college (and was unemployed), I remember going on LinkedIn and admiring everyone who had a job. My thought process was: 'Wow. They work at NBC, Google, Vogue? They must be making so much money and they must be so happy.' It was wrong of me to assume those things because at the end of the day, I have no clue what's going on in their life. They may be successful but it doesn't necessarily mean that they're happy.

Now that I've started working, I've realized that money, status, and job titles don't define me. I'm much more than that. And those things don't bring me joy. What brings me joy is a sunny day, a nice jog, listening to a beautiful song on my morning commute, and talking to my family on the phone. And as a Christian, I need to remember that my identity lies in Jesus.

It doesn't matter how much money I make, who's in my social circle, or what brands I wear. Jesus could care less about those things. What matters is the heart.

Am I kind towards others? Do I respect and listen to different opinions? Am I honest? Do I help those that are less fortunate? Do I go out of my way to help others without expecting anything in return? Do I lift people up? Do I put my trust in Jesus?

Don't make the same mistake I made and believe that your worth is based on the number in your bank account, or what's on your resume. And don't look for fulfillment in the wrong places.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Balancing life and work, and setting boundaries

Ever since I started working full-time, it's been a bit of a struggle finding time for myself. Right after I graduated, I spent the majority of my day applying to jobs, going on jogs around my neighborhood, baking cookies, and watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Looking back, I had it really good. My mom wasn't nagging me to find a job and she let me take my time. I'm really grateful for that.

Finding that balance between my personal life and work isn't easy but it's something I'm getting better at. For example, instead of going straight home after work, I'm making an effort to visit a neighborhood I've never been to, walk around aimlessly, and see what I stumble upon. This week I ate vegan dark chocolate ice cream from Van Leeuwen and looked around COS, a store I've been wanting to visit. This small act has made a huge difference in my well-being. While I don't do this every single day, it's important to break your normal routine once and a while. Otherwise, you'll feel like a hamster on an exercise wheel.

I've realized how important it is to make time for yourself and your hobbies. If we don't, we're going to burn out. It's inevitable. I've also set some boundaries and I don't feel bad about it. If someone texts or messages me on Facebook after a certain time during the workweek, I don't check it until the morning. Same thing goes for email.

I know I'm not the only one who's struggling with this and I find solace in that. It's just something every adult goes through. Making money to put food on the table and taking care of your loved ones is both necessary and beautiful. However, don't forget about yourself along the way. If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of everything else that's important.

The two photos above are from Dominique Ansel Bakery and COS during a trip to SoHo on Friday after work.