7 things (relative) poverty taught me were not essential

 

Many people don’t know this, but almost all PhDs get all their tuition waived and also receive a stipend. A stipend is – 

according to the googlez – 

 

according to C Galloz-

But who am I to bicker over definitions? The point is, I didn’t go into debt and I’m very happy that I was given enough money for my basic needs to be met, but trust me — it was basic. Now that I’m rolling in the fat post-doc g’s, I noticed that I’m starting to spend my money on all these little things. They’re not even “treat yoself” or splurge-y items, just kind of things that most adults would consider basic. But because I lived on the brink of poverty for 6+ years, I want to share which items and categories may seem like they are completely indispensable, but are actually quite possible to live without (and at least be decently content).

In no particular order *drum roll* 

  1. (Frequent) eating out / snack foods
    You don’t actually need pringles, or any other nonsense comfort food with zero nutritional value. Save yoself from a belly and wasted dollars!
  2. Alcohols 
    I enjoy cocktails just as much as the next person. *But* poverty is no time for boozin’! You can have fun without it! And if not, you may want to reconsider your friend choices! You will save yourself tens of dollars every week!
  3. New clothes 
    This gal probably just unloaded your entire months pay! Who wants credit card debt?! Not I! Heard of Plato’s closet?? It is your new best friend! Fancy hand-me-downs FTW! (*EXCEPTION*: unders! )
  4. Non-embarrassing car 
    Unless you’re also going to live in your car and shower in your lab (I considered this very seriously at one point!), it ain’t worth it. Go find a Craig’s list steal! I bought a car for $1,750 in grad school that ran for over 2 years with zero problems! (until the wheel fell of the axle, but that was my fault! #jumpedacurb)
  5. Cutting edge technology 
    Is it fun to facetime your friends? Of course! Is it necessary? Nope! I had a non-smart phone until.. 2014?? And even then, I didn’t have an iPhone until.. 2018! Guess what — I survived! I had friends! I survived in the modern age! You can, too – get a refurbished Samsung or a Motorolla E for like $60 and glory in your savings.


    6. Fancy hair dos 
    Does her hair look lit? Of course! Is it worth not being able to eat for 3 weeks? No! If you’re poor – and women, you’re going to need to sit down for this one – you do not have to dye your hair. The ombre, the balayage, the lowlights, whatever — they’re not necessary. You can have a cute cut for like…. $30? And get one 2x a year! I did that until 2018 and I mean.. maybe I didn’t look amazing at all times, but men still noticed me #obviously #truebeauty #lolz


    7. Trendiest of fitness routines 
    Tbh not even really sure what these women are doing. But in grad school, I 1) worked out at the student gym, for free and 2) ran, for free. And my bod was SLAMMIN’! Jk, but seriously – it was fine – in some ways, I was even more fit than I am now (cardio and I have had a falling out.. but we will probably reconcile before too long once I adequately snub her). So just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you are on an inevitable slide into obesity.

 

There you have it — if you’re looking to save some mula, or not sure how to survive the impoverished years of grad school – hopefully these tips will inspire you. I did it! It is possible! 

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Public Speaking Tips for the Socially Anxious 

This is the longest and least funny of all my posts, but I felt led to share because my dread and avoidance of public speaking held me back socially and professionally for a depressingly long time. I ruled out entire jobs or career tracks if they involved talking to groups of people in any sort of formal way. In undergrad, on the first day of the semester, I would excuse myself to use the restroom so I wouldn’t have to introduce myself to the class. I would have a sick feeling in my tums for weeks leading up to a presentation, and when the time finally came I would just mumble through it as quickly as possible. Finally when I realized I *had* to go to grad school, and in grad school I would *have* to present stuff pretty often, I began to not just suffer through presentations or talks, but actually try to be good at them. It has been a long road full of embarrassing stumbles and inappropriate sweating, but now I’m not bad and kind of enjoy speaking in front of people. So, for those of you who would rather burn off your left pinky toe than speak in front of people, here is some advice from a former public speaking coward just like you

 Care about what you’re saying more than what people think about you When you focus on the best way to convey the info you’re presenting, you stop worrying as much about what you look and sound like. Sometimes it helps to take a step back from your talk and think about what you would want to hear someone else cover if they were giving the same talk. It’s not about you, it’s about the info.

Love your audience, even when they’re ru-ru Empathize with what it’s like to sit and be confused by a rambling speaker. Remember how bored you’ve been, and how it never made you hate or disrespect the speaker. Not once, but *twice* someone has fallen into a deep slumber during one of my presentations. One was an undergrad, but the other was the most prestigious faculty member in my grad program. I won’t lie, it actually made me laugh out loud. Some of the feedback on my talk was, “not sure why Alzheimer’s Disease is funny..” I also had a few sorority girls who used to mean-mug me whenever I taught. I highly recommend that you make a decision to think that sort of stuff is hilarious instead of intimidating, and carry on like your BFFs with everyone in the audience.

Don’t look at people who make you nervous There are some people – my own advisor, actually – who I *cannot* look at while I talk. Some people’s “listening faces” just come across distractingly grumpy, disdainful, bored, angry, etc. Don’t be derailed by accidental RBFs! I suggest looking for those 2-3 ppl who smile bravely and pleasantly throughout your talk, and talk to them.

Don’t plan to be funny This may shock those of you who know my jocular nature, but I **never** plan to crack up my audience. I’m not saying don’t use humor – but 1) if you plan for humor and get very nervous, it usually falls flat and makes you all the more uncomfortable and 2) it’s usually funnier if it’s genuinely in the moment. Trust me – nothing will give your audience the squirmies more than feeling vicarious embarrassment for you after a failed joke.

Practice saying your talk out loud, especially transitions This is an absolute must for me. Even if I can see an image, concept, or info very clearly in my own head (I often organize info in my head as a flow chart, vin diagram, or some other spatial organization), when I start to say it out loud, sometimes I realize it’s *really* difficult to communicate what’s in my head to any human being. One of my sisters is the best at Gallociphering, but most people are lost. So even if you have a great PowerPoint presentation and it all makes sense in your own head, take an hour or two to actually say your talk or presentation out loud. It’s best if you have a friend willing to subject themselves to the torture of listening to your practice. But, it can also work to give your talk to the mirror, or record it on your phone so it you have a bit more pressure to keep from lapsing into “saying” it in your own head. I’m also strangely sensitive to the feel of a room – fluorescent lighting and the smells in nasty old rooms nauseate me when I’m already nervous. So, if possible, try to practice in the same room that you’ll be speaking in. Or at the very least, take a peak and know what the set up will be like.

Don’t write out word for word notes  If you don’t have enough time to go through your entire talk, practice saying transitions and main points out loud. What your audience needs the most help with is getting the “take-aways” and drawing the connections between the info you’re presenting. Everyone has to figure out what works best for them, but I’ve found my talks go best when I memorize main points, transitions between slides, and the most complicated or technical concepts and details in my talk. But for the “filler” stuff in your talk, I would leave a little flexibility for yourself to improvise to a certain degree, so you’re not woodenly reading off a script. How much flexibility you give yourself will need to scale with your comfort in public speaking in general. When I first started speaking, I would clam up and go into autopilot, and just rattle through the bare minimum info. But as you get more experience, you’ll become become more comfortable going a little slower, pausing in-between points or slides to make sure you’ve covered everything, or coming up with examples on the fly.

Own your screw ups Sometimes I forget a pertinent piece of info, or a sentence I had smoothly rehearsed comes out as a incoherent jumble of nonsense. In the past this would have mortified me and ruined the rest of my talk. But I’ve learned that it works fine to pause, offer an endearing smile, and say something like, “Let me try that again.” And then carry on.

Visualize success As goofy as it may sound, vividly imagining myself KILLING IT in a talk gives me confidence when I’m actually up there. Whatever you do, don’t imagine yourself failing. You are likely to prophesy your own failure.

Pray Not just for yourself, but for your audience members, too. Especially if they’re going to be evaluating you in some way (e.g. decide whether or not you deserve this job), pray they will be filled with graciousness. Personally, it’s important for me to be anchored in the knowledge that I have access to the most intelligent, powerful being in existence – it reallllly makes those mortal, fallible committee members and undergrads seem much less threatening.

Enjoy it! I used to consider public speaking a miserable ordeal. If anything, I just hoped to survive without dishonoring the family name. But seriously, it’s possible to actually have fun while you speak. Although public speaking DOES have the potential to humiliate you in front of a lot of people, it also has the potential to make you shimmer like a competent diamond in front of a lot of people! Think about how difficult it is to get people’s attention and have influence. Yet for 30 min to an hour, you have a whole room of people’s attention and the opportunity to influence, teach, or convince them of something! Yowza! Don’t waste it 😉

How to keep your blog elite

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When you’re trying to make an elite hipster blog but you have too many followers.

I often drive to visit my fab fam in a city about 5 hours away. It is excruciating to just sit in the car by myself with my insane thoughts. So, I decided to make a video instead of write out a blog because as the great Derek Zoolander said, “[a blogger’s] life is a precious, precious commodity,” and we too can die in a freak, blog-posting-bc-bored, traffic accident.

Also I refuse to coin the term “Gallovlog” bc it sounds like a German hacking up a hairball.

ALSO if you are reading this I hope you your heart swells with pride that you are a true hipster who reads some obscure blog that no one else has heard about. 😉