yellow dead end sign during day time

How To Survive Your Quarter Life Crisis

From my blog archives with a few updates, DEAD END DREAMS was originally posted on September 23rd, 2016. Originally dedicated to my brother, but now dedicated to anyone currently going through their quarter life crisis. you got this!

 “I’ve got nothing to show for these dead-end dreams. My heart will ache again, it seems. Cause you’re not in my arms & all I want to do is keep my promises to you.” Dead End Dreams by Man Overboard

A week before I turned 26, I heard this song sitting in the passenger seat of my brother’s car for the first time. My brother & I don’t necessarily have the exact same taste in music, but this song will forever resonate with me as the anthem of my quarter-life crisis. Today, I’m sharing my advice on how to survive your quarter life crisis.

Growing up, I imagined that I would be so much further along in my life by the time I was 25. I thought I’d be married, ready to start a family, with a thriving career. Instead, I still held the same bank teller job that I got right after graduating from college, & I had just broken up with my boyfriend of one year. It was the absolute lowest point of my existence.

Every day, I felt anxious & panicked, & I’d constantly berate myself with questions: 

  • Why am I still a bank teller?
  • Will I ever find a career that I love?
  • Why did I break up with him?
  • Is what he did to me really THAT BIG of a deal-breaker? 

Instead of enjoying the career opportunities that still awaited me and celebrating my new freedom as a young single woman, I was left frozen, questioning whether or not I was good enough. I felt absolutely worthless and pathetic. Up until this point in time, my life was a series of joyous accomplishments. I lived each day with optimism and positivity. I’d set goals, crush them, and make new ones. As someone who grew up so idealistically driven, it was only a matter of time before the reality of the economy and workforce I had been thrown into would catch up to me. It was the first time I had ever genuinely felt depressed about where I was in my life.  

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

If you’re experiencing your quarter-life crisis right now, the key thing to remember is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Experiencing a quarter of a life crisis is inevitable nowadays. I went through it. My family & close friends of mine went through it. I even know others who are going through it right now.

TALK ABOUT IT

Most of the happiest and successful people I know have had their own quarter-life crisis stories to tell, which leads me to my next piece of advice: TALK ABOUT IT. I personally LOVE stories! Talk to your friends, family, a therapist, or even random strangers from all walks of life. Everyone you meet has a unique story to tell, & I enjoy hearing the experiences of other people’s lives whenever the opportunity arises. What was your childhood like?How did you become the person you are today? What inspires you? What do you want to achieve in your lifetime? 

You may not be where you want to be right now, but talking to people who have been in a similar situation can help a lot. You never know whose story may inspire you or lead you to your next venture. The way I see it is things tend to balance themselves out over time.

THIS IS TEMPORARY

You can only pull an arrow back so far before it has to be released and launched, which brings me to my next point: THIS IS TEMPORARY.
Once I accepted that my situation was only temporary, I focused on strengthening my emotional intelligence. I became more self-aware of how I dealt with my emotions, & I did my best to empathetically and judiciously weigh my decisions involving others. I wanted to understand why I felt the way I did, and I wanted to accept them as they were, without letting them control me. 

 As long as you keep moving forward, new opportunities will present themselves in time. You don’t have to have everything figured out right now. Believe me. I sure didn’t have anything planned out the way I wanted it to happen. But with time & deciding to live mindfully and enjoying my life exactly as it was. 

EMBRACE WHO & WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

When I was 25, I started my YouTube Channel, created this blog, & found an amazing job in the Beauty Industry. The next steps you take in life will reveal themselves in time. The lyrics of “Dead End Dreams” still resonate with me to this day, but they have a different meaning now than they did when I was 25. I want to keep dreaming, even if I have nothing to show for it. I’m not afraid of getting my heartbroken, because I’m strong & I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. I want to keep my promises to everyone that I love, especially the promises I’ve made to the person I love most, MYSELF

XO Denise

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Daily Positive Affirmations

From my blog archives with a few updates, FOR EVERY NEGATIVE THERE IS A POSITIVE was originally posted on September 13th, 2016.

While I try to portray myself as positively as I can, I’m human & prone to pessimistic thoughts. From psychology, I learned that it’s a common symptom of emotionally intelligent people. I overthink things & list out every possible pro & con before making any final decisions. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes certain aspects of my career & building interpersonal relationships difficult. I usually find myself teetering at the edge before making the final necessary leap, & that’s why I wanted to share my daily positive affirmations.

Growing up, success came very easily to me. I usually always thrive with plenty of others cheering me on. Now as an adult, that’s not always the case. There are people who will enter your life with their own agenda, & I unfortunately found out the hard way that the more you look outward for approval & validation from others, the more unhappy & lonely you become. Through failure, rejection, & toxic relationships, I’ve grown to love myself & build myself up more than anyone else possibly could. 

Before conquering the world each day, I look at myself in the mirror while I’m getting ready, & I tell myself the following positive affirmations:

I am brilliant, bright, & beautiful.

Brilliant & bright have several connotative & denotative meanings. All of which I’m proud to be. I am radiant, clever, & I shine in the spotlight. To me, true beauty encompasses your mind, & this is why I choose to use these words together. 

I forgive those who have harmed me in the past & peacefully detach myself from them. 

In the past, I held onto the pain & frustration caused by others for far too long. It’s weird how you want to hold onto the shattered remains of what once made you happy, because it’s all you have left. Rejection & heartbreak will change you. It takes a huge toll on your ego, but once you come to terms with the truth & redirect yourself back on the right path, you gain clarity. 

You have no control over the actions of others, but you do have control over how you react, how you take an unfortunate situation, & how you learn from it. I actively remind myself to forgive those who have hurt me. I don’t want to let the decisions of others affect my happiness. If they don’t appreciate my presence, it’s in my best interest to let go.

I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful.

Building a successful career has always been important to me. I know that I have to work my way to the top, & I know my journey will be unique. When I’m in boss mode at the office, I channel my talents & confidence to make my presence known & lean in at every Zoom meeting. 

Creative energy surges through me for new & brilliant ideas.

I need to stay creative at work as well as when I’m creating new content here on my blog and on my YouTube channel. Sometimes I feel like I’ve completely depleted my creative juices, so I like to remind myself to stay inspired. 

I am blessed with an incredible family & wonderful friends.

This one is self-explanatory. 🙂 

I acknowledge my own self-worth. My confidence is soaring.

How I perceive myself is more important than how others do. I’m not afraid to walk away from people who don’t appreciate my presence. I’m good enough exactly as I am, & I don’t need to prove that to anyone. 

Happiness is a choice. I base my happiness on my own accomplishments & the blessings I’ve been given.

Some days are harder to be happy than others, & that’s expected. When I force myself to think about how far I’ve come on my journey & how my life is filled with amazing people and experiences, it’s easy to choose to be happy every day. 

My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless. My potential to succeed is infinite. 

There’s always going to be bumps along the road, but I know I can handle them all. Whatever life throws my way, I’m ready & I’m willing to take it on. 

If you’ve never used daily positive affirmations before, I recommend you start immediately, especially if you’re lacking in self-love. It seemed weird for me at first, but I find that the more I recognize the greatness within myself, the more I’m able to love myself & openly share love & kindness to those around me. When I’m having a bad morning or if I’m running late, this morning ritual is invaluable. You don’t have to feel unhappy & alone. You can choose to be happy. We’re all worthy of love and happiness, & I refuse to let anyone feel the way I once did. I only hope that the love I have for myself inspires others to love themselves as well. 

XO Denise

down angle photography of red clouds and blue sky

Healing Childhood Wounds

A common conversations among my siblings & I is: “How do you think our lives would be different if we didn’t have loving & supportive parents?” I am incredibly blessed & grateful to have two amazing parents who gave me the best childhood. It’s common knowledge that your upbringing affects your behavior & habits as an adult. That’s why healing childhood wounds is so important.

Our brains are wired to choose romantic partners based on how you were treated by your parents or primary caregivers. Because of this, we tend to attract partners who possess similar qualities as our parents. So unless we proactively choose to avoid toxic traits & heal our childhood wounds, generational trauma is destined to repeat itself.

Identify Your Childhood Wounds

In my blog post about emotional triggers, I explain my fear of abandonment. I’m happy to share that I’m not afraid of abandonment or losing people that I love anymore. But know that it is important to recognize that the things that happened to you as a child can be carried into adulthood if you don’t take the time needed to heal that trauma. 

In another blog post, I highlighted trauma bonding & all the ways you can recognize if you’re trauma bonded to someone. If your parents wanted to control your every move, you may seek a life partner who behaves the same way. If your parents put you on a pedestal, as a shiny trophy, for everyone to envy. You may seek a romantic partner who does the same.

If your current relationship reminds you of the relationship you have with your parents, take it as a red flag. Does your partner want what’s best for you, or do they actually want what will work best for them? 

Don’t ever spread yourself too thin for someone who doesn’t consider your well-being in addition to their own. Are you just choosing love based on what your parents taught you love was?

Treat Others How You Want To Be Treated

Growing up, my friends loved to tease me about how I had a “perfect family”. As a child, I was embarrassed, but now as an adult, I can recognize that they were honestly jealous. Instead of thinking that I’m not normal for not constantly fighting with my parents & siblings, I’m proud to say that I love my parents & my siblings are my best friends, because it’s a huge factor of who I am

My parents are never hypocritical. My siblings & I respect our parents, because they respect us. We love & trust each other unconditionally, and we set boundaries as needed. 

My father never yells at me or my siblings. When we do something bad or get in trouble, he speaks to us calmly, expresses his disappointment, talks through how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Because of how my parents raised me, I don’t tolerate disrespect. My time & attention is valuable. I firmly set my boundaries, & I’m not afraid to stand up for myself, without needing to yell, curse, berate, or humiliate another person.

Because of my upbringing, I’ve never said I love you & not meant it. I’ve never insincerely sweet-talked or manipulated someone to get what I want from them. To be loved by me is to be given complete freedom & trust. Your behavior when I’m with you or even importantly, when I’m not around, will tell me everything that I need to know about your level of care & respect of me.

Take the Time & Get the Help You Need to Heal

Once you’re able to identify what you need to heal & proactively try to be a better person, take the time to heal. Depending on your level of trauma, you may even want to get professional help. Through my blog, I’ve reflected on a lot of my childhood, & it’s helped me tremendously. By healing my childhood wounds, I know who I am, & I know how I deserve & want to be loved.

XO Denise

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TOO MANY FISH: Tips For Online Dating

From my blog ARCHIVES with a few updates, I originally posted my tips for online dating on April 18th, 2017.

When I was first introduced to online dating, I found it extremely odd & overwhelming. Just as anyone who is introduced to something completely new may feel, right? Up until then, I only met potential partners in person, through mutual friends or in school. I created my 1st online dating profile on OkCupid followed by Coffee Meets BagelBumbleHappnTinder, & Hinge. Despite creating my first online dating profile 11 years ago, I didn’t actually go on any dates until about 5 years later in February 2016. Today, I’m sharing my tips for online dating!

Online dating has always been an overwhelming experience for me, because I usually find myself with too many choices. Majority of the time I feel like a warthog carcass being pulled in every which way by lions. After 5 years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two on how to efficiently navigate the online dating scene. So if you’re feeling like I once did,  here are my tips for getting the most out of your online dating experience!

Be Ready

If you’re not ready to meet someone, don’t put yourself in the position to lead someone on. If you’ve recently had your heart broken or there’s any other circumstance causing you to be emotionally unavailable, don’t make the mistake of wasting a genuinely good person’s time. I’m dead serious about this! If you’re nowhere near ready, delete your dating apps NOW!

I’ve been guilty of this myself. After a terrible breakup in 2010, I took my 1st shot at online dating only to freak out & ghost as soon as the other person suggested to meet in person. To all the guys that I lead on because I wanted my emotional needs met, but had no intention of ever meeting you in person, I’m deeply sorry. I sincerely hope you found someone amazing, who is worthy of the time & attention you gave to me. 

Be Open

I personally hate the swipe culture. We are all more than our face and body. Take the time to fill out your profile & read the profiles of others. Don’t just swipe left & right! Amazing individuals fly under the radar all the time. Take a chance on that person who didn’t immediately catch your eye, but made you smile after reading through their profile. How many times in life have you developed a crush on someone that you weren’t immediately attracted to? Don’t close yourself off to finding a real connection with someone just because they’re not particularly photogenic. If they don’t know how to take a selfie, it might actually be a good thing!

Know What You Want & Don’t Settle For Less

As I stated previously, with online dating apps, there are TOO MANY fish in the sea. After a few dates, you should already be getting a pretty good vibe from the other individual. But before over investing yourself, be sure to clearly draw your boundaries. It’s important to know what you want & to put your expectations on the table. I’m not talking about any superficial deal-breakers by the way. If your must-haves include guys over 6 ft tall with a full head of hair & a six figure salary, do yourself a favor & re-read number 2! 

It’s okay to have non-negotiable qualities that you want in a partner. When you’re ready to invest a lot of your time into another person, you should have standards. Here are mine:

  • Shares similar values & beliefs
  • Is there for me when I need them, even when it’s inconvenient 
  • Considers me when making decisions, no matter how big or small
  • Has a growth mindset, always trying to work on themselves & be better than the person they were yesterday
  • Challenges me to be my best & inspires me to go after what I want
  • Respects me, how I live my life, & everything I stand for, including my thoughts, ambitions, opinions, family, & friends
  • Is trustworthy. I feel safe being completely open & honest with them, even when addressing tough issues

Having strong boundaries & standards will save you a lot of time & energy. Don’t be afraid to cut a date short if need be! Respect & love yourself enough to walk away from a situation or a person that will only cause drama over time. I’ve ended dates early & ordered a Lyft quite a few times, & I’m not ashamed of that. 

Are you currently online dating? What have you learned? What are your tips for success? Leave me a comment – I’d love to know!

XO Denise

dollar bills

Tips For Salary Negotiation

After weeks of interviews, finally getting an offer from a company that you’re excited to work for is exciting! But not many unemployed candidates prepare for what’s coming next. Is the offer you received everything that you’re hoping it to be? While salary negotiation is a daunting process, it’s also necessary to ensure that you’re getting what you deserve & what you’re worth. After successfully negotiating my offer package with my new employer, I’m ready & eager to share my tips for salary negotiation.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Sites such as Glassdoor & Payscale will give you a good idea of the salary range of your role based on your years of experience & location. This will give you a good idea of the expected salary. If you’re given salary ranges from other companies in similar roles, make a note of it to better understand the current compensation market rates.

Use your initial offer as a starting point to negotiate. If the initial offer you’re given is outside of your range, use that as a green light for further negotiation. It’s a general rule of thumb when changing companies to aim for at least a 10% base salary increase when moving laterally. If taking on new responsibilities, aim for 15-20% base salary.

DON’T PROVIDE YOUR SALARY EXPECTATIONS FIRST

Most employers don’t publicly list their salary budget. So to get the most lucrative salary range, ask for the company’s salary range first. For example, if the recruiter or hiring manager asks for your salary expectations, simply turn the tables back onto them.

Say this: “I expect to be paid reasonably considering my work history & years of experience, so my salary range is flexible. What’s your current salary range?” Once they provide their range, if it’s far below your expectations, ask: “Is there any flexibility with that range?”

If there’s not, inform the recruiter or hiring manager that you don’t want to waste their time by continuing. If the salary range provided is within your expected salary range, you can respond with: “Ok, great! The higher end of that range works for me.”

This way, you’re getting the salary that you need to live comfortably. Don’t waste your time or the company’s time continuing through a hiring pipeline that you’ll reject at the end of the day.

CONSIDER THE ENTIRE OFFER PACKAGE

While your base salary is an important part of your offer, other benefits are equally important. Are you being given equity in the company? Are you getting great health, vision, & dental benefits?

My new employer offers great parental leave & even fertility support. Our company has mental health recharge days, generous PTO, cell phone reimbursement, & even a learning & development stipend. All of these additional benefits & perks were like a cherry on top of a delicious ice cream sundae.

KNOW THAT THEY ALREADY LIKE & WANT YOU

If you receive an offer, know that everyone that you’ve interviewed with thus far likes & wants to work with you. Use it as a confidence boost. As someone who the team is already eager to have join, they won’t shun or rescind your offer for wanting to negotiate.

Approach negotiation as a collaboration to create an offer that you & your employer are happy with, rather than “being greedy”. Even if you’re in other hiring pipelines or have other offers on the table that pay more, emphasize that you’re not just driven by the cash component of the offer. Reassure them that they’re your number one choice & ask if they’re open to discuss where in your offer there is more leeway or wiggle room.

Using my tips for salary negotiation above, I was recently able to increase my base salary by 18%! While salary negotiation can be daunting, it’s a necessary part of your job search. Most companies expect future candidates to negotiate salaries. By not negotiating, you might unknowingly be leaving money on the table that they already had ready to give you. Take charge of your career & ensure that you are getting what you’re worth!

XO Denise

aroma beverage breakfast brown

Tips For New Managers

Everything that I am, I’ve worked hard to become. Don’t ever be afraid to be ambitious!   

In June 2016, I was promoted to my first management position at IPSY. Though I was eager to make my transition & take on new responsibilities, leading & motivating my team, I remember that I still had a lot to learn. This is why I want to share my tips for new managers today.

Up until my promotion, I was only responsible for my success in my role. It’s always been easy for me to identify how to fulfill my expected tasks & responsibilities, both quickly & efficiently. But now as a leader, I know that my success is dependent on the performance of my team. Their ability to exceed expectations reflects on me as an effective leader, & I can’t feel confident as a “GOOD” boss without seeing my team happy & thriving. So if you’re currently stressing about your transition into a management position, here are some tips to hopefully inspire you & get you started in this next chapter of your career!

Define your personal definition of a “GOOD” boss 

Think about every boss you’ve had in your career. Over time, I’m sure you’ve developed a clear vision of how a good boss looks & acts. Use your former bosses as a guideline into who you want to become. Focus on the positive qualities you want to develop as well as the negative qualities that you want to avoid. 

To me, a good boss takes a genuine interest in everyone around them & wants to see everyone succeed. They are effective communicators & believe in the abilities of their team without needing to micromanage. A good boss knows how to delegate responsibility & work toward overall success for the benefit of everyone. They give praise & credit when it’s due, & they have high emotional intelligence. When you create your personal definition of a good boss, you know what you’re striving for. It’s hard to be an effective leader if you don’t have a clear & succinct idea of what a successful leader looks and acts like.

Once you’ve defined what you need to do to be a good boss, focus on identifying your strengths & weaknesses. No one expects you to be perfect during your initial transition, but identifying the areas where you can improve will help over time. Self-awareness is the first step to improving. It’s always been easy for me to be a good listener. I’m also resourceful, inspiring, & motivating, but I personally have trouble delegating tasks, due to my pride. It’s important to identify where improvement is needed, rather than pretending that your leadership style is perfect. 

Learn about your team & take a genuine interest

It’s important to know your team and take a genuine interest in their growth. How can you help someone succeed, when you don’t even know who they are or how they think? I prioritize having bi-weekly 1 on 1 meetings to catch up on my team’s personal lives as well as to ensure that they feel supported enough to be successful. By asking engaging questions, I’m able to identify any challenges they may be facing. I also strive to instill them with a growth mindset. Just as I’m doing my best to grow, learn, & improve, I want them to believe in themselves & reach their full potential. 

I always want my team to be able to talk to me about anything that may be hindering their performance & not be afraid to use their sick days & Vacation/PTO (Paid Time Off) when they’re feeling burnt out. Maintaining a good work/life balance is just as important for my team as it is for me.

Create a fun working environment

No one should be forced to work in a boring work environment surrounded by robots. The majority of my day is spent working alongside these individuals, and I want to create a fun working environment where they feel free to express themselves. I want to keep morale high, so I prioritize positive team engagement. 

I don’t shy away from acknowledging success & showing my appreciation for hard work. We dress up according to themes on Thursdays, (Check out the past Theme Thursdays I’ve featured on my Instagram!) & I plan birthday celebrations, team lunches, happy hours, & team offsites. Work should be fun because I want my team to be excited to get out of bed every morning. 

Becoming a new manager can be daunting, but hopefully, my advice will help alleviate any anxiety you may be currently feeling. Be upfront & honest with your team & ask for feedback. They’ll understand while you’re learning & still adjusting to your new role. Whenever I ask my own team for feedback on my management style, I’m continually pleasantly surprised by their kind words & compliments. I love seeing the growth, improvement, & success of my team members over time. I promise that it will all be rewarding in the end. 

XO Denise