Little Ways You Can Become Your Own Biggest Fan

10 Little Things: Self-Advocacy Edition

"Improvement begins with I."

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I recently started a self-improvement series I like to call 10 Little Things: because the biggest changes in life have to start somewhere small. This week, I'm focusing on a self-care topic that seems to go overlooked quite often-- self-advocacy.

The simple definition of self-advocacy is "the act or condition of representing oneself", but I think the true meaning of this phrase goes a little deeper. Being your own advocate means being honest with yourself, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and generally being your own biggest fan. NO ONE is going to be able to help you grow if you're not willing to help yourself. A little self-love and motivation goes a long way when it comes to self-improvement. Read on for 10 Little Things you can do to start being your own advocate.

1. Be big enough to admit when you've messed up...

When things go wrong--whether it's a bad grade or a bad argument--it's not always someone else's fault. Excuses are never going to get you anywhere. Being aware of your own mistakes and shortcomings will benefit you more in the long run.

2. ...but stand up for yourself when you know you haven't!

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to defend yourself--especially when it's to a friend. It's okay to forgive and forget, but it's not okay to let others walk all over you. Know your worth.

3. Do ONE scary thing a day.

At least. Your comfort zone is something you should always aim to expand. It can be as simple as forcing yourself to talk on the phone or as challenging as introducing yourself at a networking event. Embrace the uncomfortable! You'll feel pretty kick-ass.

4. Practice your "Elevator Pitch".

If you haven't heard of this before, now's your chance.This should be something that's always in your back-pocket! An elevator pitch is a 30 second summary of yourself--your major, your career aspirations, your interests, etc.--that you use to talk to professionals. You never know when you're going to have an opportunity to make a new contact. Be prepared to sell yourself!

5. On that note, don't sell yourself short.

You are smarter and more capable than you think you are, trust me. If you don't brag about yourself (at least a little) to employers, who's going to?

6. Learn the art of eye contact.

In today's digital world, the confidence to look directly in someone's eyes during a conversation does NOT go unnoticed! It can be kind of uncomfortable at first if you're not used to it, but it is a quick and easy way to start feeling like a real professional.

7. Have a PROPER handshake.

There is nothing worse than having a "dead-fish" handshake when you're trying to make a good first impression. Whoever you are introducing yourself to will NOT forget it. Firm, 2 shakes. Trust me on this.

8. Kick self-deprecating jokes to the curb.

I've written about this particular topic before, but it's worth reiterating. You won't realize how much of an effect this is having on your confidence until you actively choose not to use it. Don't take yourself TOO seriously, but know when to stop making fun of yourself.

9. Dress for success.

This doesn't necessarily mean wearing heels daily--it means dressing for the YOU you want to be. Find out what makes you feel polished and comfortable and strive to incorporate it into your daily wardrobe.

10. Celebrate the little victories.

Every step forward--no matter how small--is a step in the right direction. Be proud of yourself for what you've already accomplished!

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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Being Ugly

What it means to me

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Due to a series of ongoing events throughout my semester, I've reconsidered what it means for someone to truly be ugly. Though it is often used in terms of appearance, I do not see it as such-- now more than ever. Ugliness runs deeper than appearance-- it runs within one's soul and festers into other areas of one's life, particularly in their treatment of others.

I view ugliness as someone's conscious capacity and implementation of malice. Taking time and energy out of your day to hurt someone else, that's what I view as ugly. Some offenses are more minor than others, however, it is still a conscious effort to hurt or affect someone else negatively-- and that's the source of the problem. I truly wonder what causes that sort of behavior in someone, as I, along with most people, simply do not invest time or energy into hating or plotting against others. It seems like a full-time job.

I can theorize all sorts of reasons as to why someone would act this way: hate, jealousy, vengeance, etc. Yet, all of these reasons don't hit the root reason. It almost seems that some people are just innately ugly in their soul. This alludes to the timeless debate of whether one's personality is due to nature or nurture. Again, although our surroundings and environment do have a large effect in our behavior, that alibi only goes so far when multiple people are placed in the same environment, in the same situation, and only some are willing to cross moral boundaries in order to hurt the others. Just because an environment applies pressure to people, does not mean everyone is going to act out in malice, and it certainly does not give everyone an excuse to do so. Some people are simply conniving and, well, ugly inside.

If you have ever encountered people like this, I know from personal experience that it is such a drag. You have an enemy, essentially, whether you chose to or not, however based on their hatred towards you, they are now considered an enemy, a hater, and any other associated term. Know that they will do anything in their power to bring you down, even if it requires bending the truth and creating elaborate schemes, but you have to keep on doing you. Let them obsess over ways to bring you down. At the end of the day, their time and energy is being invested into bringing you down, while yours is being used to build yourself up. They will fall by default. So, keep your head high, act in grace, and make your money. They can sip on their Haterade and watch from below.

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