Pros and Cons of Having a Decent Memory

I have always been able to remember things pretty well. When I was a phone-a-holic in middle school, I had all of my friends’ numbers memorized. I still had a Lisa Frank address book, but it was just for backup. When I began running cross country, I could tell you the finish time and place for almost every race I ran. It is a normal occurrence for me to recite and entire conversation that Josh and I have had in the past of which he has no recollection. Of course, it served me well in school as well – where most of what is asked of you is to remember formulas or facts. I don’t have a photographic memory, so I still had to study to remember those facts, but it matched with my learning style well.

I’ve learned there can be some downfalls of having a good memory, though. Granted, most of these have more to do with personality than the actual memory, but it’s still a fun illustration.

I feel betrayed if I lose something. Do you ever have moments where you go on autopilot and close the garage door or put away groceries but can’t actually remember doing it? Those moments scare me to death, especially when I lose something. I am so reliant on my ability to recall information that I freak out when there’s a blank spot or worse – a false memory. If my keys are missing but I know I hung them on the key ring when I got home, I can dramatically extrapolate that to my entire life being a lie. What else have I been misremembering? Can I ever trust myself again? Obviously this is an overreaction, and I calm down and become rational again eventually…usually after I find whatever I’m looking for.

I remember other people a lot more often than they remember me. There have been a number of times where I am meeting someone for the second or third time, and they introduce themselves as if we’ve never met. The worst times are when I can remember when and where we met and what we talked about, and after an awkward occasion or two of explaining this to someone (getting a blank stare or alarmed look in return), I usually just go with it now or offer a brief “I think we’ve met before?” It receives a much better reaction.

The vast majority of the time, I am grateful for the way my mind works and think it’s pretty cool. I love that Josh and I can have stereotypical sitcom moments where he can’t find something, and I know exactly where it is in the house. It’s convenient (and dangerous) for online shopping to have your credit card information memorized. I love remembering friends’ birthdays and anniversaries, and I cherish the fact that I can remember time spent with loved ones. As long as I have systems in place, my memory is a great tool in my skillset. It’s when you rely on it alone and don’t have a system that is can get you in trouble.

 

I Can be Bad at Weekends

The last month has been all about cleaning, packing, getting the house ready, moving, and unpacking. When I finished up my run this morning, I was met with the pleasant realization that I didn’t have to do anything today.

I am a planner and a scheduler. During college I used to tell Josh 3 months in advance what weekends I could come visit him to make sure he would keep them open. At my old job I traveled a lot, so I had to plan ahead for which races/weekends I wanted to be home. I still enjoy planning, but I often find it hard to see past a certain large event (like moving). Once that event is over, I sometimes have a rough transition period back into normalcy.

Not knowing what to do with myself this weekend reminded me of a time last year where I jokingly suggested to Josh that I needed to Google “what to do on weekends” after a long stretch of traveling. Obviously there are always things to do, and I spent today doing a mix of productive (hanging decorations, cleaning the moss off the mailbox, reading a few chapters of my book) and fun things (afternoon nap and dinner with friends).

I kept such singular focus on getting to April 15th (moving) and April 21st (selling our old house) that I ended up feeling isolated over the last month. It was certainly self-imposed. I didn’t answer or return phone calls and had far fewer interactions with my friends than I usually do. Knowing that it was my own fault didn’t assuage the loneliness, either.

Having dinner with a group of friends this evening broke the final strands of solitude. We caught up with each other while devouring various dips and countless bowls of chips, and I left with a full heart (and stomach).

3 Reasons Being a Camp Counselor is Better than an Internship

I spent my college summers as a counselor at Strong Rock Camp, and I automatically think highly of someone if they have experience working at a camp on their resume. For anyone who thinks working at summer camp is just making friendship bracelets and eating smores, you couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, have you ever tried to teach a six-year-old how to make a craft? It requires patience, care, and the ability to communicate clearly.

Here are some other reasons being a camp counselor is a strong addition to your resume.

You have an incredible amount of responsibility. When parents drop their children off at your cabin, they are entrusting you with the lives of their most precious things. If that’s not heavy enough, camp life is not full of pillows and bubble wrap. There are shooting classes like riflery and archery; there are athletic classes like soccer and tumbling; and there are camp-wide games like capture the flag (we called it Sock War) that include romping through the woods.

Of course there is a nurse onsite as well as camp directors and full time staff, and counselors go through training and lesson planning for the activity classes, but everything doesn’t always go according to plan (when does it ever when there are humans involved?). Counselors have to make decisions on the fly and improvise. I can remember being a lifeguard and having to entertain the campers with a game when they had to exit the lake due to thunder (Ships and Sailors for the win).

You learn how to work with others. At camp you work with your co-counselor in your cabin and with various other counselors during classes. Communication is key! If you and your co-counselor agree on cabin rules and then you decide to be the “cool one” who lets the campers run wild well past lights out, you’ve thrown them under the bus. If you both talked about it and agree, it’s fair game. 😉

Teaching classes with other counselors with varying personalities and skill sets is also a great learning experience. You learn how to tailor your teaching style depending on who you are teaching with, what you are teaching, and who is in your class.

You learn a lot about yourself. Working at camp is not easy. You’re on call 24/7. If a camper wets the bed at 3am, you’ll need to get up and help them change their sheets. You’re likely sleep deprived, and how you respond to being tired and teaching the same classes week over week matters. The staff stays the same for the whole summer, but the campers are new every week or two. It might be your 5th time building a model rocket, but it’s the first time for a camper. Do you have the same level of patience and enthusiasm in teaching? Do you care enough about the campers’ experience and the reputation of the camp as a business to push through your fatigue? How you perform when you’re low on energy says a great deal about your character, and learning to push through to deliver your best work is a learning experience that will stick with you.

If those reasons aren’t enough, keep in mind that you’ll learn other marketable traits like learning to work a cookie down from your forehead to your mouth using only your face muscles and soda chugging. And if you’re like me, you might just meet your other half as well. 🙂

Finally, I’m not dissing internships in general. Some internship programs provide valuable work experience, including the one I ran at my previous job. But if you compare a stereotypical internship – sitting in an air conditioned office every day filing papers, fetching coffee, and waiting for 5pm – to working at a camp, being a counselor will teach you far more.

Anticipation

In both of my jobs I’ve had the ability to interview hundreds of college students and young professionals. What makes the best of the best and those I end up hiring stand out can be summed up in one word – anticipation.

If you know the name of your interviewer – Google them. Find them on the company’s staff page, read their bio, find them on LinkedIn, etc. Knowing your interviewer gives you a mental edge and can help you remain calm. It also gives you great information to ask questions at the end of your interview (and yes – you should always ask questions).

It should go without saying, but know as much as you can about the company or organization you’re interviewing with. I used to interview intern candidates who didn’t know what city our office was in! You should also know the names of the major players in the company. Our founder was on Fox News last month which generated a ton of interest in Praxis. When I talk to applicants who don’t remember his name or don’t remember the name of a staff member they had an informational call with, I’m not impressed.

If you do all your research and get the job, don’t stop anticipating! During training for my summer interns, I liked to read them the following quote:

I would tell them to only come to me with a problem if they had already thought of (and hopefully found) a solution. My favorite story of an intern exemplifying this mindset came at the very first event of summer 2015. The event was only a couple of hours away, so we all drove ourselves with a plan to arrive by noon. My photographer called me a little before then.

He explained that his car wouldn’t start that morning, so he Ubered to a car rental company and picked up a car for the weekend. He was going to be a little late due to the time it took to get the new car.

He didn’t call me when his car wouldn’t start asking what to do. He only called after he had solved the problem.

Anticipate problems. Find solutions. Solve them.

Wonder

Taking a break from house things to write about one of my favorite bands and their new album. If you’ve never heard of the Classic Crime, I encourage you to check them out. Josh and I were Kickstarter backers for their newest album How to Be Human that comes out on April 28th so we got an early download of it.

First of all, how cool is it that 3,000 fans came together to not only make an album possible but also a summer tour? The band is Seattle-based, so it’s rare for them to come to the East Coast, and I’m pumped to see them in May! This is the definition of putting your money where your mouth is.

One of my favorite songs so far is called “Wonder.” The chorus is:

Wonder why I’ve lost my wonder
Why the ship is going under
Wonder why I’ve lost all my wonder
Why the night has got my number
Wonder why the wonder died in me

I think everyone needs to hear that message, especially adults. It reminds me of the comedian sketch where he talks about how everyone on a plane should be exclaiming how incredible it is to be speeding safely through the air instead of complaining about pretzels instead of biscoff. We live in the best time possible to be alive, and it only gets better every day.

Part of the book The Magic of Thinking Big talks about how your brain will recall whatever you ask of it– whether you want negative memories or positive ones. Recognizing your sense of wonder is a great way to avoid falling into a trap of negativity, and it’s something of which I will try to be more conscious.