The One Book You NEED to Read in Your Twenties

I have fallen far down the rabbit hole of self-help books, and I am not afraid to admit it. And so far, this one is my favorite.

Best Self Help Book for TwentySomethings | Candidly Kelsey

Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood

After seeing it in Ingrid Nilsen’s Snapchat, I bought it as a book to read while commuting; AKA, a few pages every time I sit down on public transit.  I expected it to last a few weeks.  Instead, I started it on the train at 9am, then finished it by 11pm that evening because I literally could not put it down.

“Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse” is basically a much more eloquent and hilarious account of every feeling of self-doubt, personal triumph, misunderstanding, and failed attempt at adulthood you’ve ever had. The brilliant author is Alida Nugent, who is also the mind behind the Tumblr “The Frenemy.”

The book is arranged in a series of essays.  In the beginning, it reads just as a comedy that has you nodding along.  Starting with wishing you hadn’t had the crazy idea of “following your dreams” or maybe you’d be employed by now, and ending with the graduation speech you wish you had heard when you left college, each essay has a heartfelt, but equally sassy revelation of young adulthood.

Each chapter gets more and more real, as Alida basically sums up every moment of confusion or terror you’ve ever had as a twenty-something, and then punctuates it with a lesson, or moral that has somehow makes you feel better about yourself.  I found myself shaking my head, or even tearing up (wine may have been involved with that one, truthfully) on more than one occasion.

Besides the obvious entertainment value of it all, this book hit several points that I think myself and all struggling post-graduates need to hear.  We’re repeatedly told we’re ALL in such a precarious position– “overeducated and underemployed” but are also horribly pressured to appear that we have It All together so often that it was a refreshing sigh of relief to read about a peer who is unapologetically a mess*.

But, you know, a mess with internet fame, and a published book, and who still manages to feed herself regularly.  The kind of mess we all strive to be, really.

Best Self Help Book for TwentySomethings | Candidly Kelsey

The idea that it’s totally okay to be slightly drowning in your twenties, but also expected to have everything together is something that I think we all struggle with, but very few like to get specific into the way that can make you feel. “Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse” is the perfect story of justification for how lost you feel, but somehow also gives you the encouragement that everything will end up okay.

Basically, if you have ever felt lost, or bad about yourself, or you are between the ages of 22 and 100, you should probably read this.  You won’t regret it, I swear.

(Sidenote: She also has a second book out, which is on my Amazon Wishlist.  If anyone has read it, tell me how it is!)

*Alida, I mean “mess” in the best way possible. Like a polished mess.  Amy Schumer/Jennifer Lawrence mess. It’s a compliment, I swear.



A Letter to my Neighbor

A Letter to my Loud, Obnoxious Neighbor | Candidly Kelsey

Dear Sir,

I’d ask you how you’re doing, but I already know.

I may not speak Spanish, but your constant booming laugh, low irritable growl, or deep sigh into your phone is pretty self-explanatory of your mood.  Today it seems as if you’re pretty happy.  That’s good.

You see, Apartment 308, these walls are super thin.  I’m sure you’re also aware of this, as I tend to talk to my cat a lot, and blast The Ellen Degeneres Show every afternoon… during daylight hours.  When it’s normal for people to be awake, alert, talking, and when hearing Ellen scare the bajesus out of someone is entertaining for all.

You, on the other hand sir, like to blare your TV, and yell into your phone at all hours.  When I learned to sleep through my cat romping around my apartment, I thought I could sleep through anything.  Apparently, I was wrong.  Your spirited debates on speaker phone every night are like the alarm clock I definitely did not ask for.  And your choice TV, which I can only assume is some sort of foreign language political show, judging by the tone of voices and badly-produced but severe sounding end credit music, is also not too charming.

And speaking of alarm clocks, let’s talk about your smoke detector.

I know cooking is hard, but after awhile it helps to learn that the smoke detector is not your cooking timer.  Take it from someone who has had many a turbulent relationships with fire alarms in the past.  Eventually, you learn their limits and recognize the “danger signs”.  Like any good relationships, learn the boundaries.  No means no.  Smoke coming off of your pan means no.  And your neighbors, including me, who are forced to listen to the detector go off everyday, also say NO.

And lastly, Mr. 308.  I’d like to teach you a new feature on your phone.  There is more to life than the “speaker phone” option.  I know I don’t speak Spanish, so your conversation is still personal no matter how easily I can hear your friend talking back to you, but let’s be real here.  I don’t want to know your business.  You don’t want to know my business.  So let’s just all agree to keep our phones off “speaker” mode, and enjoy what little privacy and dignity we have let.  I can already hear you use the bathroom through the walls, so let’s just try to keep some things sacred, agreed?

Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. 308.  And good luck if you’re cooking.  Judging by the fire alarm that is literally going off as I type, you’re going to need it.


5 Types of People in Every Coffee Shop

I like to work in coffee shops.  I’m not sure if it’s the smell, the atmosphere, or the blow to the self-esteem that comes with sitting around so many people who are most-likely penning the next great american novel or Jennifer Lawrence movie and not actually on Facebook, but I love it.

While I cruise Pinterest when I really should be returning emails, it’s usually the same cast of characters that is scattered around me.  And it’s in my vast experience of bopping around shops in several different states and cities that I have determined that everyone falls into one of five categories at a coffee shop.  Allow me to educate you.

1. The Student

You can find the student by their slightly disheveled appearance and the look of pure defeat and anguish on their face as they stare into their laptop or book.  Most will be chewing on the edge of a pen or pencil, and will sigh aggressively every so often.  Their table will usually have multiple beverages on it.  Careful not to catch their eye because if you look like you’re an empathetic person, The Student may finally succumb to the stress and burst into tears after seeing your kind, understanding eyes.

2.  The Freelancer

This one can be tricky, as the success of a freelancer can usually be determined by one of two basic appearances.  First includes trendy clothing, well rested, and optimistic.  They are the Freelancer that looks too well put together to be sitting in a Starbucks on at 2pm on a Wednesday, but yet they smile softly as they work on their computer.  They usually get refills on drinks too, as if prices don’t matter and money is abundant.
The second type of Freelancer looks similar to the student, but older and slightly sadder around the eyes.  Wrinkled clothing and a slight sense of desperation as they squint at their computer are another trademark of the the Freelancer. They either type at a feverish pace, or stare sullenly into a blank document. They usually order the smallest size beverage.

3. The Artist

The ornate leather, or otherwise hand-crafted books they carry are a dead give-away.  Either it be with a notebook and pen, or a novel for pleasure, the Artist has a special hunch they assume when concentrating.  They will usually congregate at the most comfortable areas of the shop– the couches, if available– because they’ve most likely been there since the shop opened.  They usually have tea, or black coffee, and seem like they are way too comfortable with this public space.  Artists have been known to even rest their feet on the couches.
If you’re still not sure, a dead give-away is having a hat.  Artists usually have hats with them, either already on their head even though it’s 76 degrees outside, or ready to put on before they leave.  And even though they have on six different layers of clothing and are drinking hot tea straight from the tea pot, they don’t seem to be sweating at all.

4. The Newbie

You can practically smell the fear coming off the Newbies.  They pause at the door, gripping their backpacks with fear in their eyes as they try to look for a spot to set up camp.  Newbies rarely make eye contact for worry of someone smelling their fear and sensing their lack of experience.  Most are dressed for comfort, and wearing headphones.  Once settled, Newbies will take up as little space as possible.  You can catch them shooting sneaky glances at everyone around them, trying to look as if they’re not staring.
Newbies also show their weakness by forgetting to turn off their phone volume when taking a picture of their latte foam art.  The immediate blushing is a tell-tale sign of the Newbie.

5. The Employee

Much like the Artist, the Employee owns the place.  Despite the fact that it’s their day off, they hang out in the corner doing seemingly nothing of importance, yet wear a very serious face as they crochet, sketch, or play Candy Crush on their phone.  Most don’t even bother to wear headphones.
Though most coffee shop patrons prefer to speak in hushed tones, the Employee has no issues speaking at full volume to the barista behind the counter, making small talk or jokes.   Many have even been seen throwing caution to the wind and walking behind the counter all together.
If you’re unsure if you’re looking at an Artist or an Employee, just take a glance at the Newbie; the Employee is the most intimidating, and will no doubt attract their eye.  The Newbie will practically wither in the presence of an Employee.
Which one are you?  I’m definitely the Newbie, or, on a good day, the sad Freelancer.  And I’m not just saying that because I took a picture at full volume of my beautiful latte this morning and got a dirty look from the guy next to me.  Whatever, man.  Do it for the Instagram, right?


Snapchatting Through Halloween

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Anyone else having a bit of a struggle this fine Monday morning?  Post-halloween + time change, and I feel like my body is so confused. I woke up at 7am this morning, ready to go, and confused as to why my body would not let me fall back asleep.

Speaking of, Halloween was great.  A trip back home (Indiana University) with some friends was a much needed break after jumping into my new job and the stress of moving.  It was nice to be back in the familiar.
And thanks to my new-found obsession with Snapchat (follow me: iamkelskels, for everyone who told me they loved my Snapchat this weekend, I can say pretty confidentially that you won’t regret it), I decided to document the weekend.
It began Friday afternoon.  I was road tripping from Chicago to Bloomington, Indiana with Amanda and her dog, Harley.  I kept the news from Gracie, but I knew she was bitter about not going.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Blanket scarf, purse, water, and duffle bag packed. Gracie gave me that look the entire time I was packing.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

And off we went.  Points for every teenage-angsty alternative song we sang in the car ride down.  Fall Out Boy for life.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

After arrival, and dinner (which is not pictured because it contained a disgusting amount of amazing food that I’m pretty sure the waitress judged us for) we had a onesie party.  You know, as you do when you’re college alumni who came back for a weekend visit. We’re in our twenties and we don’t care who knows it.

Picture left to right: Jess, Amanda, myself, and [Other] Kelsey, our hostess for the weekend.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Saturday morning we started early to complete an IU Bucket List item.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Climbing the fire tower.  It’s an 8-story tall fire tower in the middle of the beautiful Southern Indiana hilly country.  It was equal parts terrifying and also exhilarating.  The first three staircases shook like crazy when you started climbing, but then got really sturdy.  Made you feel like you were dying, it was great.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Other Kelsey capturing my exaggerated posing as I tried to get the full fire tower in a picture.  Points for Harley, totally not giving a single f*ck in her Hoosier football jersey.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Look Ma, we made it.  The pictures don’t do it justice.  Even with a lot of the trees already shedding their leaves, it was so gorgeous.  And only a little bit freezing and windy.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Risking death by sticking my phone out the window to take this picture of Other Kelsey babysitting Harley while we climbed.  Harley, taking a break from barking like a mad women while Mom Amanda seemingly climbed to her death.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

After the climb, we had a delicious breakfast and then went into Bloomington to do a little shopping and walking around.  It was a gorgeous day, so Harley napped in the car.  We came back to her curled up in the front seat, about ready to make her get-a-away.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition
Foreshadowing my last minute change of Halloween costume, thanks to finding a turtle backpack for dirt cheap while shopping.  I’ve literally wanted this backpack for years, but have never been able to justify spending the money.  It was fate.  I almost cried when the sales girl said “That’s the last one left, and it’s marked down.”
Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

But before we got all dressed up, we made a pit stop at the 25th Annual Indiana University Dance Marathon.

I participated in the marathon all 4 years of college, twice as a dancer, and once as a Dancer Group Representative (basically support staff to those who are dancing), and the final year as a member of the Recruitment Committee for the marathon.

I surprised by grand-little, who is on the same committee I was on, and visited some other friends. It was amazing to see how much the marathon has grown since we were involved.  They had double the amount of dancers we had my senior year (YAAAS, Recruitment Committee killing it!), and raised over a million dollars more than my last year.  It’s amazing to see how a group of several thousands students can make things happen if given an amazing cause.  At the end of the 36 hour marathon, and a full year of work, they raised $3.88 million, marking the biggest year-to-year increase in Children’s Miracle Network history.  I’m so proud of my people.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Then, costume time.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

A turtle, an Ewok, Pikachu, and their missing friend are ready.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Unfortunately, this is the only picture I got of just myself with my costume. Turtle backpack, turtle Halloween!

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

We went to a bar that was having a Dance Marathon alumni event, so we got to see even more special people.  Managed to snap a picture with a few generations of Recruitment Committee alumni.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

This picture is hilarious for two reasons: paddles are not allowed by Alpha Delta Pi standards, but this paddle was given so long ago to Nick’s English Hut, a Bloomington staple bar/restaurant.  Gives any ADPi a little chuckle whenever we see it.  The people at the table next to me as I snapped this selfie also laughed pretty hard.

Second reason this is a great picture because take a look at my eye make-up! You can’t see it, but I did a strong blue to gold smokey/ombre eye, with a thick cat-eye liner.  So bold for what I usually do, but I’m in love.  I’m going to do something like that much more often.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

Other Kelsey, the Ewok, and I joined the costume contest at the bar for sh*ts n’ giggles.  Spoiler: We did not make top 10, but the couple dressed as Blades of Glory did.  I think the guy and his girlfriend dressed as Subway Jared and a small child did as well.  She was holding onto his foot long.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition

And then, somehow, magically we jump all the way to the Sunday evening drive home. Shocking how that happens, huh?

In my quest to finally have the Toasted Graham Latte, I made Amanda stop at Starbucks on the way home.  They were sold out, because of course they were, but I still ordered a Puppachino for Harley. And about died at the cuteness of the tiny cup! I may or may not have saved it.

Halloween Weekend: Snapchat Edition
And voila, the weekend is over.  I celebrated by ordering boneless wings and watching “The Grinch” before going to bed early.  Happy Christmas Season!
I hope everyone else had a safe and happy Halloween weekend. Time to start putting away the scary crap and dreaming about turkey.


Total Blogger Problems

Total Blogger Problems | Candidly Kelsey

I’ve been struggling with blogging lately.  Either I can’t find inspiration, or if I do have the inspiration, I can’t make the idea work with my resources.  And then I can’t figure out how to hack my resources to make it all work, so instead I say “F*ck it” and just end up closing my blog and pouring a glass of wine.

Which, I’m sure, is familiar for a lot of people.  Isn’t it funny how something you love so much can also make you so, so angry?

Today especially.  I spent time and effort on a DIY bloody fingertips manicure.  I was proud of it, so obviously I needed to Instagram it because #basic.

Unfortunately, it’s super gross and cloudy today, so any natural lighting for the picture is a bust.  I turned on my back-up system: two photography table lights to help break up the yellow tint of my apartment lighting and get a better photo.  Unfortunately, still couldn’t get a picture I liked.   (My hands photograph weird.  Does anyone else think their hands photograph weird? Please tell me this isn’t just a problem I have.)

Moved onto Plan B: Pumpkin/Nail Selfie.

Total Blogger Problems | Candidly Kelsey

Not too bad, but the picture needs editing. No problem, right?

WRONG, because I. Suck. At. Editing. Pictures.

I have 3 editing apps I use to color correct and what-not on my phone.  You would think that between THREE apps, I could get a picture that didn’t make me want to throw my phone out the window.  Well, you’d be wrong. Of course.

You can see the swashed-out and cloudy picture above which is my final attempt, and posted to my Instagram with regrets.  After 3 different attempts, this was still the best I could get.  I am leaving the picture posted to send a message to my editing apps that they cannot break me.  Even though they definitely already have.

How am I going to grow my brand and increase my Instagram network if I can only post crappy pictures?! Gosh!

Blogger Problems.  Total Blogger Problems.

Same with last night.  I got home and needed a pick-me-up, so I made some quick easy hot chocolate from scratch.  It was delicious, and so simple! Wouldn’t I like to share this recipe on my blog? Of course I would.  Will I? Probably not, because my kitchen is tiny, dark, cramped and usually always a mess due to lack of storage.  Makes for really, really awful photography.  One day, I dream of a big kitchen, large counter tops and a big window so I can take pictures as I cook.  Not for functionality, but just so that it can be a better background for blog pictures. Total Blogger Problems.

And finally, the biggest blogger problem of all, is constantly thinking “I could blog about this…” whenever I do something some creative, cute, or picture-worthy.  Anyone else do this?  I get a foam-art leaf on top of my coffee? My first instinct is to take a picture so I can blog it/Instagram it later.  Pay no mind to the hipster laughing at me at the table over while I try 3 different angles and different configuration of my things sitting on the table.  Or wanting to go get Starbucks just for the Instagram opportunity.  Or– even worse– getting Starbucks, only to realize they’re out of the holiday cups so the whole thing is ruined anyway.

Total. Blogger. PROBLEMS.

So many problems, so little time left before the leaves change and the epic season of inspiration is over and we lose it all. Please tell me I’m not alone in these massive hardships, because I need some solutions. iPhone photographers– what are your secrets? Please let me know!