Hannah’s Guide to Not Being Where You Wanted to Be at This Age

I found an old bucket list the other day, as well as a sort of “life plan” that included plans for specific ages.

I laughed so hard I cried. I really thought I’d be in a serious relationship or engaged, be acting on a TV show, or at the very least have my own room in an apartment.

I thought I’d be able to afford berries at Ralph’s.

Unfortunately, that’s not the reality I’m living in. (Though I still hope some parallel universe Hannah is living this life.) The reality I’m living in is a 2 bedroom with 4 people, a minimum wage job, 2 failed careers, and no romantic prospects in sight. I am barely able to survive in LA, and I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen next.

If I could time travel back and talk to the Hannah that made these lists, she would be vastly disappointed in me.

But let’s face it: high school Hannah was a spoiled, entitled, depressive, angsty, anxiety-ridden, unrealistic, judgmental, delusional child.

And I’m probably only about half of those things now!

This is not at all how I thought my life would go. I feel like I took a wrong turn after college and somehow ended up in the middle of a story I didn’t write, don’t recognize, and barely understand. Like I thought I was in a Meg Cabot series but I’m actually in a Dostoevsky novel.

As a good friend nearing her thirties recently told me, this is Being an Adult. And most of the time, it absolutely sucks.

Unfortunately, your twenties are not exactly Friends, either. You’re not dating a new person each week. You don’t live next door to 2-3 of your opposite-gendered friends. You probably don’t have the perfect seats at your coffee shop every time you go. And you definitely don’t have a nice apartment.

Here’s how I like to think of it: this is the time between families. You’ve got a family and close friends and this very stable life until you leave college. And one day when you start your own family (if you choose to), you’ll have those things again, albeit with a lot more responsibility. This is the unstable part between being a kid and having a career. And you can choose to see that as a good or as a bad thing.

You’re probably not going to be Jennifer Lawrence, or Beyonce, or Mark Zuckerberg in your twenties. Even if it seems like the people around you are 10 times more successful than you. And that doesn’t mean you’re not going to be successful. Plenty of people don’t find success until t heir 30s or 40s. And we live in an age where success and stability doesn’t come as early as it used to even ten years ago.

You’ve still got time. And the advantage of that is that you can figure out what you actually like. You can try new things and figure out who you are before committing to any one path. You can fail a hundred times, you can move back home and then back out again, you can lose your job and stay on friend’s couches and my guess is you’re probably still going to be just fine.

At least, that’s my hope.

I’m not where I wanted to be. But I think we need to let go of these expectations we set for ourselves – especially if, like me, you were a high achiever in school. It doesn’t transfer to the real world like we hope it will. Even when our parents and peers expect it to, and seem to judge us when they don’t.

It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It just all takes time.

My advice? Rip up those bucket lists, and figure out what you’re doing that week, or that month, or that year to make you happy.

Hey, one day this is all gonna make for a great story, right?

Hannah’s Guide to When Shit Hits the Fan

Here is a story. 

We always had cats growing up. (For those of you who are now mad at me for being a cat person, we also had a dog later on.) My dream was to have a Cat named Cat when I grew up, just like in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And so when I finally moved into an apartment without allergic roommates at 22, I was resolved to get one.

When I finally brought Caterine Hepburn home, it was probably one of the best moments of my life.

Part of it was the obvious cuteness of the new creature in my life, but a big part of it was also that this was the first decision I had really made for me, without anyone else’s input or encouraging. It was a self-constructed rite of passage; for years I had told myself that when I was an adult, I would get my own cat. It was a hallmark of independence for me.

Looking back, it was probably not a good idea to base the barometer of my ability to be a successful adult on the ability to keep a pet alive.

Especially because a few months later, she got sick with some genetic kitten disease. Completely panicked, I spent $2000 I didn’t have trying to figure out how to save her.

And she still died.

Look, I know what you’re thinking: it’s a fucking cat. And it’s not like I hadn’t experienced the death of a pet, or even of a family member, before. But something about this was different – not worse, but different. It completely shattered any of the confidence I had in myself. Because all of a sudden, when faced with the decision or when to put her down, I turned into a crying five year old begging for someone else to handle it. But there was no one. Because Cat was my responsibility. And it was my decision.

And I then had to live with that decision.

I binge watched The Haunting of Hill House in two days. I refused to sleep in the bed she cuddled with me in for a week. I cried daily. A month later, instead of having a birthday party, I decided to throw a Cat Funeral, where I got too drunk and cried during a slideshow primarily photos of her and my cat selfie-obsessed roommate.

Is it completely ridiculous? Yes, probably.

Will you find yourself in a similar position at one point, having to deal with something far before you expected to – whether it’s an unwanted pregnancy, an injury, unemployment, or a breakup? Will you find yourself feeling 5 years old again, crying and wishing someone else could handle things for you, only to realize there’s no one?

Definitely.

Will it destroy your image of your own capability; will it destroy the fragile confidence of being able to handle adulthood that you have built over the last couple years? 10000%.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build up that fragile confidence; in all honesty, it’s the only thing that will carry you through everyday adulting. But I also want to caution you that even as you build it, you must know it will not be enough to carry you through when shit hits the fan. Which is, unfortunately, often what we base our idea of our own capability on.

Everyone falls apart when shit hits the fan. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re not an adult, or all your hard work at independence was simply a mirage.

What we should be building our confidence in ourselves on is our ability to handle the little stuff. AKA, just keeping yourself healthy and alive.

I think everyone feels this way right when they exit college, or move out on their own – this sort of, “oh, shit, I actually have to take care of myself.” I remember one of my roommates perfectly describing this: one night, she went out drinking. She came back and accidentally broke a glass in the bathroom. She was kind of drunk, and really tired, and all she wanted was to go to bed. Only we lived in a 2-bedroom, 1 bath with 5 girls. She couldn’t simply leave the floor littered with broken glass. And she could not call her mom or anyone else to come help her. We were all asleep, and it was her problem, after all. So she swept it up. 

Similarly, when I first moved into an apartment after college, food was no longer readily available. Oftentimes I would be too lazy or clueless or busy to cook, and then I would be starving with no food in sight. Maybe I’d had a long day, and all I wanted was some food before bed. But there was no one to make it for me. So I simply had to go to bed hungry or make dinner myself.

It’s tempting to use simple hacks. Maybe you’ll cover the glass with a thick rug until the morning. Maybe you’ll order takeout or eat 5 granola bars for dinner. Hey, whatever works – God knows I’ve been there, and am still there half the time. But I think dealing with that smaller stuff is the best way to at least know when the shit hits the fan that you are a capable adult outside of whatever crisis is happening. And one day looking back on things like break-ups and putting your cat down will hurt, but they will feel so much smaller than they did at the time.

Adulthood is far too big to ever conceive as a whole. Just focus on making yourself dinner, and the rest will come in time.

Hannah’s Guide to (Not Going) Back to School

One of the weirdest parts of graduating college is September coming around and nothing happening.

You don’t go back to school. Maybe the weather is getting colder, but otherwise it doesn’t feel much different from August. If you work in retail, your job may get less busy.

Yet you’re still bombarded with back to school ads and sales. It seems like people are setting goals and changing up their lives, and you’re just kind of….there…..

You no longer relate to Buzzfeed posts about going back to school. And you realize that, for the first time since you were a toddler, you’re not going to go to school this year.

Maybe you loved school. Maybe you hated it. But school is a great way to set benchmarks and milestones and make it feel like time is actually moving forward. You have designated breaks and times to be stressed. You know what to expect.

Out in the real world, it’s all just sort of….time. If you don’t work a M-F, 9-5, you’ll probably forget what day of the week it is. If you’re not working a lot with dates, you might forget what month it is. And if you’re living somewhere where there aren’t really seasons – like Los Angeles – you will literally feel like one season blends into the next.

Sure, there are still the holidays. But if you don’t live close to home, you might not even return to your family for the holidays.

Being an adult is VERY weird. The life you’ve known is wrenched away from you, and all of a sudden you’re expected to keep yourself healthy and alive. Which means making money, and spending that money well. You used to be surrounded by peers and family – now it’s just you alone in the big bad world.

Even if you hated school, it kind of sucks.

Here’s my advice: find a way to set your own milestones. Whether you check in in September, or after the New Year, or your birthday, find at least one time yearly (preferably bimonthly) to check in where you are and if you’re happy, or if you want to make a change. Because that’s one of the best things about adulting we often forget – you’re not really tied to anything. Not what your parents say. Not law (okay, yes you’re tied by the law, but now you’re a legal adult). Not teachers or a dorm or university or high school. It can be easy to get a routine and start seeing your job as school – you just have to keep moving through it and moving up indefinitely. But work has no real end except retirement, and that’s a LONG way away. So if you don’t like your job, or the direction your life is headed, it’s perfectly okay to change paths. You are literally not responsible for anyone but yourself – it’s a lot to be responsible for, but it also gives you the freedom to choose. You’ve got to look out for yourself, and not feel so responsible for people – especially in your 20s, when you haven’t really made any kind of commitments.

So take advantage of the back to school sales (Labor Day can be a great time to get cheaper furniture!) and don’t let yourself feel nostalgic about being in school – remember that when you were there, you were wishing you were here. This is what you wished for! And sure, it’s not what you expected – but nothing is. At least you have the power to change it.

You got this.

Hannah’s Guide to Cheap Makeup

So you like makeup, but you’re broke.

I can relate.

So where do I buy my makeup on a budget???

  1. E.L.F.: All their makeup used to be $1, but they’ve since changed. Still, they have a ton of options around $3!
  2. Colourpop: This is definitely nicer than E.L.F. I actually like their eyeshadow’s pigment better than MAC! They also have great matte lip paints that are comparable to Kylie Cosmetic’s lip kits.
  3. MAC: It doesn’t sound cheap, but their eyeshadow pans are actually really cheap! If you already have a holder, you can order the pans online for $7 each – even cheaper during holidays/sales!
  4. Morphe: They have a ton of great huge palettes for really cheap that are comparable to expensive brands. They also have awesome brushes!
  5. B.H. Cosmetics: I really like their contouring palette, but their eyeshadow is supposed to be good, too!
  6. Makeup Revolution and Makeup Geek are supposed to be good for eyeshadow pans and palettes, though I haven’t tried them before!
  7. NYX: I love basically all of NYX’s stuff, but especially their brow and lip stuff!
  8. Drugstore brands: I am not a huge drugstore makeup person, but there are some cult favorites people swear by, like Maybelline Falsies Marscara, L’Oreal True Match foundation, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser, and L.A. girl concealers for highlighting and contouring.

Also, look out for holiday sales at places like Ulta and Sephora! But I promise you, it’s possible to be a makeup junkie like me on a budget.

Happy shopping!

Hannah’s Guide to Getting a Pet

Getting a pet, to me, is a rite of passage into adulthood.

It’s the first time you’re taking responsibility for something other than yourself (and, if you’re like me, you’re hardly taking care of yourself). Maybe you want the company. Maybe you want the protection. Maybe you need the comfort. Maybe you’re looking for a way to meet cute guys at the dog park – no judgement!

But getting a pet is a huge commitment! So I’m here to walk you through it.

First, you’ve got to find your pet. I’m only going to go over shelter animals, because we have way too many cats and dogs on the streets so don’t you dare buy from a puppy mill!!! (Also, who can afford that??)

My favorite site to find pets is petfinder.com. You can filter for the type of pet you want and its age and even breed! But another great way to find pets is through shelters’ facebook and instagram pages! If you just google local shelters, you can find look for their social media on their website.

My experience is with cats, but I assume it’s similar with dogs – kittens/puppies can be a lot of work – especially puppies. Both will need basically constant attention and playtime, and puppies you’ll have to train. Both will probably make a mess. My advice is to get an older animal that’s at least 1 or 2 – that way you can also get a feel for their personality, while it’s often hard to tell with baby animals. Remember, getting a pet can be a 10-20 year commitment, so it’s important you get along with your pet!

If you’re resolved to get a puppy or kitten, then you have to be willing to put in the money (if not in training then in protecting your furniture). Kittens do much better with other kittens, so you might want to at least foster a second kitten.

Fostering can also be a great idea if you’re not sure a pet is right for you. That way you can get used to their personality and experience what it’s like to have a pet without committing! However, if you foster a kitten or puppy, it can again be a lot of work.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all apartments allow pets. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, PTSD or a similar issue, you can usually get an ESA from your therapist to register your pet as an emotional support animal, and then (unless the owner of the building has serious allergies) they’ll pretty much have to allow you to have the pet even if the building doesn’t normally. (This also applies to pet deposits and rents being waived if you have an ESA).

Other things to keep in mind:

-vet bills and pet insurance (both my cats got sick and needed lots of vet care – you have to be ready for this burden)

-if you get a dog, make sure you have lots of space in your neighborhood for them to walk

-if you get a dog, make sure you have roommates or a dog walker or some way they won’t be home alone all day

-if you already have a pet, make sure you introduce the new pet before committing!!

-keep in mind if you’ll be moving or traveling – will the pet have a place to stay?

The last thing you want to have to do is re-home a pet. If you give a pet back when they’re older, it’s much less likely someone else will adopt them. Make sure you know what you’re committing to!!

That being said, pets are a great way to reduce anxiety and bring joy to your life!!

I prefer cats and dogs, but things like guinea pigs, hamsters, and reptiles can be good if you’re looking for a cleaner, shorter time commitment pet. These are okay to get at somewhere like Petsmart, but don’t fool yourself that it’ll be like having a cat or dog – unless you let it roam free (and then be prepared for the mess), it’s simply not the same. They’re also much harder to rehome if you change your mind.

You with your new pets:

Hannah’s Guide to Cooking on a Budget

One of the hardest parts about adulting is cooking. It’s like, seriously?? I have to make myself food AGAIN?

Three meals a day is a lot harder to do when you actually have to cook them all.

It’s tempting to just do takeout. But it’s also expensive. And if you never learned to cook, it can be incredibly daunting.

The best transition step is to just get Trader Joe’s frozen meals that you can stick on the stovetop or in the oven. But there are much cheaper options if you’re willing to try them.

You could also just live off ramen (life hack: add some meat, eggs, and veggies to make it a real meal). But you might get a little tired of it.

And so without further ado – if you’ve decided you’re ready – I present your new grocery shopping list for the cheapest, healthiest, most varied options:

  1. Bananas: the cheapest fruit
  2. Tomatoes (Roma are particularly cheap)
  3. Eggs
  4. Zucchini squash
  5. tomato sauce
  6. turkey bacon
  7. frozen corn/peas/broccoli/cauliflower
  8. riced cauliflower
  9. cubed pork
  10. canned chickpeas
  11. sweet potatoes
  12. canned cream of mushroom soup
  13. spaghetti squash
  14. bread
  15. peanut butter (if you don’t mind the texture, the kind that’s just peanuts and salt is so much betterfor you)
  16. ground turkey
  17. olive oil (possibly the most expensive thing on the list)
  18. salt
  19. pepper
  20. garlic
  21. party pack of chicken
  22. your preferred shredded cheese
  23. breadcrumbs
  24. frozen chopped onions
  25. instant rice/quinoa
  26. spinach
  27. avocado
  28. milk
  29. oatmeal
  30. ketchup
  31. granola
  32. greek yogurt
  33. sliced deli meat
  34. tortillas

You don’t need to get all of these – this is just a good list of cheaper things to buy.

With these you can make:

  1. bacon spinach salad (tomatoes, spinach, avocado, turkey bacon, chickpeas)
  2. meat loaf (breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, ground turkey, cheese, ketchup-you really don’t need Worcestershire sauce or other seasoning unless you really want it!)
  3. healthy meatballs and gravy (spaghetti squash – which mades a zillion servings and goes with any sauce, ground meat cheese and breadcrumbs for meatballs, cream of mushroom soup mixed with cream/milk
  4. oatmeal with chopped banana, granola, and peanut butter
  5. greek yogurt with granola
  6. banana peanut butter greek yogurt smoothie
  7. chicken parm (chicken, cheese of choice, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce)
  8. burger patties (ground turkey/beef and breadcrumbs) with avocado, tomato, and sweet potato fries
  9. frittata/omelette/scrambled eggs (eggs, milk, cheese, veggies of your choice, turkey bacon)
  10. avocado toast/egg sandwich (self explanatory)
  11. any variety of sandwich
  12. zoodles (zucchini noodes – spiralized or peeled) with tomato sauce
  13. baked chicken with rice/quinoa and roasted broccoli
  14. cauliflower fried rice with pork, egg, and mixed veggies (just stir fry it all!)
  15. roasted chickpeas (roast in single layer on oven sheet at 425! until hard!)
  16. sweet potato or regular toast with peanut butter and bananas 
  17. tacos with ground beef, tomato, avocado

Honestly, these recipes are really just the ingredients I listed together above. If they’re a bit more complicated, I linked recipes.

Some tips:

  1. Every (bigger; not things like peas) veggie is better roasted. Get oil and seasoning and lay the veggie out (if it’s something as big as a sweet potato, cut it into cubes) 1 layer thick. Put the sheet pan near the top of the oven and cook at 425 for anywhere from 30-60 minutes. It’s important to keep checking them depending on your oven and desired level of crispiness. You can get a ton of veggies for really cheap in the frozen aisle. Just make sure they’re defrosted first (microwave is fine) they won’t roast/season well starting from frozen.
  2. You can roast chicken basically the same way, even together with the veggies. But the fastest way to cook chicken is to slice up raw cubes and put them in a large pan for about 10 minutes, moving them around throughout. PSA: there is no such thing as “rare” chicken. If it looks raw inside, keep cooking it or cut smaller pieces.
  3. Zoodles can be cooked in a pan either with just oil, or with about 2 cups of water in the pan. It really takes about the same amount of time; it just comes down to a personal preference of wanting pieces to be browned/fried or not. Also, zoodles tend to be more watery than spaghetti squash, so they don’t work well with creamy sauces.
  4. If you’re squeamish about raw meat, there are frozen meatballs and rotisserie chickens you can buy instead that are a little more expensive.
  5. For meat, you’ll honestly be able to smell if it’s bad. I wouldn’t chance it past the expiration date – unless you freeze them before the expiration date. Just make sure not to defrost then re-freeze them multiple times. With eggs, they stay good long after the expiration date. If you’re unsure, fill a large bowl with cold water and place the eggs inside. If they float, they’re bad. Toss them. 
  6. If you don’t have a toaster, the fastest way to brown toast is actually to put some butter/oil on a pan and give it a few minutes on each side. You can also broil it in the oven but it’ll take longer.
  7. Anything you can make in the oven, you can make in a toaster oven as long as it fits. Sometimes you might need to cut down on cooking time since it’s so small, but it should be pretty much the same!
  8. Crockpots are a great investments and can be as little as $20. If you’re horrible at cooking, this is a great option. You can find a bunch of recipes here.
  9. Ground turkey will not stick together without breadcrumbs and eggs. If you are keto/can’t have breadcrumbs, you’ll need to use something like crushed pork rinds to substitute.

That’s about it! Obviously you can substitute pasta for any of the zoodle/spaghetti squash recipes. I’ve found if you meal prep once or twice a week you can get a ton of meals out of these options for very low prices and very little time commitment.

Happy cooking!

Hannah’s Guide to Odd Jobs

There’s going to be a time between jobs, or when you first move somewhere, that you’re going to be tempted to live off odd jobs.

Don’t do it.

First of all, most of them are scams. Please do not look at any of those “30 surprising ways millennials make money!” articles. Don’t get tricked by coupon or transcription or review sites, they are not worth it. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Yes, there are some apps and sites you can make some extra cash on. I’ll go into each below. But if you’re hoping to make some extra cash fast, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

  1. Uber/Lyft: This is a real job. Obviously, it’s a lot scarier to do as a woman. And you might have to deal with people throwing up in and causing damage to your car. But it is a legitimate job, and a good way to make money. Like with any of these, it will take time to build up a good rating, and you’ll have to work hard to maintain that. Also, you have to be careful about your hours. Remember that weekends will have the highest rates. Also, as you’re technically self-employed, you should definitely keep track of your mileage to write off on taxes, and get insurance for while you’re waiting for riders (not included in normal car insurance).
  2. Postmates: Don’t be tricked by this. If you like in a smaller, highly populated city and you have a bike you like to ride, it’s probably fine. But if you’re driving a lot, it won’t be worth it between the gas and the parking. Some of their sign-on bonuses are good, so it might be worth it to do a few deliveries, but overall you’ll be making below minimum wage.
  3. Wag!/Rover: This is sort of a luck-of-the-draw situation. If you really commit and you get lucky, you can get consistent clients who will keep coming back to you. But if you’re just waiting for jobs to come in, there’s not going to be enough work. The real money is in dog-sitting, so definitely try to build relationships with clients so that they’ll keep you in mind when they go out of town.
  4. Online Tutoring: Sites like VIPKid are actually good freelance jobs – but it’ll probably take more work and initial cost than you’re expecting. You’ll need training (which you won’t be paid for), a reliable Wi-Fi network, a professional headset, and an education background and props. This is a good option if you’re already a teacher or have experience with young children. It pays pretty well, but you will need to give undivided attention during the session. There will be no checking your phone or breaks. The hours will also likely be off, as many of these sites are for Chinese kids. There are American tutoring sites, but like Wag! they are more inconsistent in work and require building up a good clientele. They also often require high level math and science skills, rather than just basic english kids for ELLs.
  5. Babysitting: Again, places like Care.com will only really get you the odd gig. It’s best to build up clients or start sitting through a referral (ask your friends!) – it’s my experience that once you start sitting for one family, their friends all start to ask you for help. Again, this is a great job in terms of pay, but it can be inconsistent and requires a strong clientele! Also, you obviously have to like children, and have prior experience with them. It’s also much easier to become a sitter or nanny as a woman.
  6. Working in freelance writing, editing, or bookkeeping is going to really be more of a career and require a lot of training and schooling. These are good options if you’re really willing to commit the time to put into training, but they will have a long time where you make no money.

My recommendation is to work part-time somewhere while you figure out your career, or get an entry level job, or nanny for a family you’re referred to. More on all that later! But don’t waste time doing stuff you’ll be paid under minimum wage for – it’s not worth it! I tried it all so you don’t have to. Trust me on this one.

Hannah’s Guide to Apartments: Utilities

Here’s something that was a complete mystery to me when I got my first apartment: you have to set up utilities.

Even, oftentimes, when it is included in the rent and subsidized by the landlord. If you do not call and set them up, you will not have power or water or anything when you move in (well, you might the first day, but not after).

Basically, you need to set up the essentials: water, power, and gas. Now, these may be with 3 different companies, or all with one. Oftentimes it’s going to depend on your area. The best thing to do is to ask the former tenants or landlord what they use, or even your parents or a friend if they live close by. If you live in Los Angeles, your building probably uses LADWP for water and power and SoCalGas for gas.

You’re also going to need Wifi. Now, back in the day everyone packaged wifi with telephone and cable services – so just think of what company you got your cell phone at, or what company your family had cable through, and they probably have wifi. They’ll try to sell you on the packaged three, but in today’s age you really only need internet. You should be able to find this for about $50/month. I have mine with Time Warner but there are plenty of good options! If you really want cable you can package that in.

Utilities are annoying, and you can only have one person paying each. If you live with multiple people, a great option is for one person to just pay all the utilities and then charge everyone through an app called Splitwise. You just put in what you paid and who you’re splitting with and it’ll do the math! It also connects to venmo.

The person who takes cares of the all the utilities should definitely get a discount on the rent for their extra work.

Checking your bank account after paying utilities for the entire apartment:

Hannah’s Guide To Finding An Apartment

**Obviously this will be very CA-based, but should apply around the US!

So you’re done with high school/college and you’re looking for your first apartment. Where do you start?

Zillow and apartments.com are probably the best places to find apartments. Both allow you to draw a circle around the area you want to live, or put in a specific city or zip code, or simply move around on a map. Zillow is better for houses, townhomes, and larger apartments, while apartments.com is better for apartment buildings with amenities. You’ll probably find a lot of the same listings on both, though! Trulia can also be a good resource. You can filter by bedrooms, bathrooms, and amenities!

For shorter term rentals (a few months), one of the best options is actually airbnb. If you set your dates over a month, the prices will start showing up as monthly, and you’ll see which places are available for monthly rentals. Renting a room in a house will probably be pretty affordable, but if you’re looking for an apartment, as it’s short term and will come fully furnished with utilities paid, it will be pretty expensive.

Facebook can also be a good place to find apartments, but make sure you see the apartment and get in contact with an actual landlord, because scams can run amuck here. If you’re looking for housing by a university, though, this is a good option. Students also constantly sublease their apartments during summer/while they go abroad for cheap rates, so if you’re young and want to live by a university, facebook can be a great place to find an empty room in an apartment with students!

A real estate agent is also an option. In New York, I’m told this is necessary. The problem is that the real estate option will take a fee of about one month’s rent, so that can be frustrating. However, they have access to properties that aren’t always listed online and usually have relationships with landlords and property owners that might give you priority over other potential renters. This can be a good option especially if you’re looking for a bigger house to rent.

If you can’t afford a studio or a one-bedroom, or you don’t want to live alone and have no one to live with, you’ll have to deal with finding roommates.

My first suggestion would be to reach out on facebook to school or alumni groups to see if there is anyone you vaguely know who would be interested. Ask around. But if you’re still having no luck, craigslist is always an option. I would highly recommend you meet with potential roommates in a public place, and if you are a girl only pick girl roommates. There will probably be a good amount of interest, especially if you’ve already found a nice place, so make sure to be picky!

Applying for an apartment is a whole new ballgame. You’ll need to have a good credit score, probably an income that’s at LEAST 2.5x the rent (combined between tenants), enough money for a security deposit (at least first and last month’s rent), and good rental history. OR, you can have your parents co-sign, but some renters would rather just not deal with that, and they’d have to cosign on the whole property.

It can seem like they want to know everything from your blood type to how you like your eggs – it’s honestly all standard. But if you feel like the landlord is a little too invested in your personal life – they want to talk to you on the phone like 8x and ask weird questions – that might be time to run, because they’re probably going to be like that the whole time.

Make sure you see the place before you move, and while you’re seeing it TALK TO THE TENANTS to see if they’re happy there! You’ll probably be stuck there a whole year at least, so you want to make sure you’re happy.

Good luck!

Hannah’s Guide to Being Yourself

Be yourself.

No one gives a shit.

That’s right. You heard me. You’re in the big wide world now, and no one cares what you were in high school. No one cares if you went to college, or where you went. No one cares if you were popular, or if you were in greek life, or even if your parents are rich. (Well, some people do, but those people are idiots). 

No one cares if you’re a total weirdo, either. Because most everyone is. And the world is so big that I absolutely guarantee you can find other weirdos. 

In high school, my friends and family mocked me for being an angsty, brooding, vampire. Now, this was in part because I was secretly clinically depressed and was actually often brooding. 

But part of it was simply my taste in music, the fact that I remained quiet on long car rides, that I wanted alone time, that I wrote and drew constantly, and the fact that I didn’t much enjoy the beach or large crowds. All of which are perfectly normal attributes. 

There were other parts of me that were mocked, parts that didn’t fit in with my vampire persona but were put in some other category: my love of musical theater and Disney, my obsession with romantic couples from my TV shows and youtube videos of their most dramatic scenes, my passion for identifying clothes from Teen Wolf and then buying the exact same thing. 

You probably have other weird passions. Maybe you were Justin Bieber’s biggest fan way too late. Maybe you really liked action figures or Harry Potter. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Nobody really does. Nobody is going to point at you and call you names. Because we all have different interests. And you’ll probably find others with your interests. Even if you don’t, you can keep up with them. If your new friends ask what you’re doing, you can totally say that you’re attending Comic-Con in a giant Groot costume. Maybe you’ll find out that they’re also attending with their dog dressed as Rocket. Or maybe they’ll just say “cool” and you’ll move on. 

What I’m saying is it’s no use being anyone but yourself. It’s no use abandoning interests just because once someone mocked you for them. You’re going to miss out on friends that actually share your interests. 

A story: I was a friendless college freshman desperate to make friends. I had a whole new California wardrobe and blonde hair, hoping that it would make me fit in. When two pretty girls from my sorority invited me to go out with them, I couldn’t believe my luck. They talked like valley girls and wore cute crop tops, so I dutifully curled my hair in beachy waves and put on a lace bralette and tight skirt, and raised my voice a few octaves. I showed up at their dorm room and used the word “like” a lot, all while silently begging “please like me”. 

Turns out one of the girls had left Harvard to come to UCLA, and the two of them spent most of the pregame talking about modern psychology. 

I loved psychology. I took AP psychology in high school. I had a number of experiences and thoughts to share. 

But instead, I kept acting like a Valley Girl, and when I realized how wrong it was, worried I would seem fake by being myself. 

They never invited me out again. I had come across as an idiot. 

My point is that you have no idea who you’re talking to, no matter what they look or sound like. I thought my best friend was an innocent Nice Girl for an entire YEAR before I realized she had a similarly dirty sense of humor, an almost identical taste in music, and disliked the EXACT same girls in our sorority as I did. 

Be yourself. Blabber on about Doctor Who if that’s your thing. If they judge you, why would you want them as a friend anyways? Plus, if you can’t find any common ground with them – any shared interests – it’s going to be a boring friendship.

Just be yourself. Even if no one likes it, at least you’ll keep the things you’re passionate about in your life.

And you NEED to have things you’re passionate about. Even if that thing is Puzzles or I Love Lucy reruns. Because you’re going to be broke, and you’re probably not going to love your job, so you’ll need something. And you’re also going to want to be uniquely yourself. It’ll carry you through adulthood, if you know who you are and are unashamed about what you think and what you like, it’ll give you confidence no guide book ever could. 

That is where I start my advice.