Something exciting.

So as some of you (two of you) knew already, towards the end of last fall semester and beginning of this spring semester I was putting together my application packet for the criminology PhD program at the university I go to. And this morning I got my admission decision.

I’m in! I’m starting in the PhD program this fall, upon completion of my master’s thesis over summer. I’m so excited, and a little scared. But mostly excited.

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“Ballerinas don’t eat Popsicles,” and other ways people have told me I’m fat.

When I was four, I wanted to be a ballerina. I was freaking obsessed. I would twirl around everywhere, and even demanded a ballerina costume for Halloween. I would tell anyone who would listen how I was going to be a ballerina when I grew up.

Until someone reasonably important to me said I couldn’t. Because I liked to eat Popsicles. And ballerinas were thin, which I wasn’t, even at four, and obviously that meant they didn’t eat Popsicles. And since I liked to eat Popsicles, I couldn’t be a ballerina.

I’ve been heavier than I should be since I was a toddler. Around three is when my weight started “exploding,” apparently.

In elementary school, it didn’t seem like a very big deal. I was running and playing with all the other kids, and no one said anything about my size. Intermediate school was the first time I actually felt different, and it wasn’t because we had just moved to a new school district, of which I was the entirety of the Indian student population. I sat next to this kid in my advanced language arts class in the fourth grade, and we had those planners where you wrote down you height and weight and eye color. Even then, I knew to lie, so instead of putting my actual weight, I decided on a “safe” number, which was two digits instead of the three I hit in the third grade. I settled on 99. This kid who sat next to me glanced at my planner, saw my weight, and laughed, going “Really?!” in that derisive way only ten year old boys can do. It stung. Clearly still does, it’s been fourteen years and I’m still thinking about it.

Middle school I definitely felt different. All the rest of the girls were thinner than me, could fit into cute dresses for the eighth grade dance, and I had to get something from the women’s section at Dillards. It was black and shapeless and had these awful frills on the shoulder.

And of course high school was rough. We started learning about BMI’s in health class and every time the teacher mentioned overweight, I caught that barely concealed glance. From not just the teacher, the class in general. Whoever was stuck sitting next to me would shift uncomfortably. Like fat was contagious. And the dances sucked. My mom made my dress for freshman homecoming, because no matter where we looked, we couldn’t find one that fit me and that looked cute enough for a very picky fourteen year old. The dress was pretty, but it didn’t matter, I didn’t have a date. I spent that dance and every other one until prom sitting in a corner fiddling with my bag until the lights came up and it was time to leave.

But high school came with a diagnosis, of Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, of which weight gain and difficulty losing weight was a symptom. That didn’t make it any easier, and literally the only way to control PCOS is to lose weight, but the PCOS makes it hard to lose weight. There’s no winning there.

University was different. I was away from home and could actually control exactly what I ate. Which turned out to be a blessing and a curse. Because while I loved eating fruits and vegetables and could buy and eat all of the fruits and vegetables that I could possibly want, I could also restrict as many calories as I wanted. This spiraled to a nasty point my third and last year at school, where I was limiting myself to less than 500 calories a day, and dropping five pounds every two weeks, and hating myself every single day, but really, no one could tell, because hey, I was still fat.

I had a series of strange conversations that I don’t want to revisit from various people in my life, who all felt the urge to remind me that I was fat, and also, apparently I would never date anyone/be in a relationship unless I lost a significant amount of weight. And while so far that’s held true, that’s not really something I needed to hear at any point, in that sort of accusing tone like I was being fat on purpose.

And I’m still the fat girl at the gym, getting weird looks from the stick thin girls on the elliptical. As if a prerequisite of going to the gym is to be small starting out. It’s heartbreaking and I hate going but I know I need to because the only thing that runs in my family is heart disease and diabetes and like hell I’m going down that path. I’m better about eating now, but I still have days where I have to essentially force myself to eat something, even though I feel horrible and my brain is trying to convince me I don’t deserve to have breakfast. Going to the gym is a terrible, horrible exercise in hating everything, but luckily I have Desiree to send whiny texts to before and after I work out, about that weird middle aged dude who wears too much cologne and collared shirts while working out or the crazy cat lady who tries dancing on the stairstepper.

Adulting is hard.

How to work from home and not hate yourself.

When I’m not chasing a toddler and teeny baby around and basically getting paid to play all day, I mostly work from home, since both my classes and thesis work are online and I work on blog posts from my kitchen. And I tend to get off track a lot, so I find myself two days before a deadline, panicking and hating myself for putting it off for so long. So I decided to make a list (because apparently I love making lists, no joke) of ways to work from home and not end up hating every decision you’ve ever made so far.

Have a set schedule.

Make sure this includes the end of the work day. It’s tempting to just work all the time or into the night, especially if there’s a deadline to meet. I found that sticking to a routine is helpful, which includes dragging myself out of bed at around the same time every day. For me, since I’m not much of a morning person, this is around 9:00am, and I’m at my desk by 10:00am. Now, since I nanny during the day, I’m not working straight through until the evening. I have to leave my house by 11:30am, so I work for a solid hour and a half, and then when I come back around 1:30pm, I have a solid chunk of three to four hours until I have to leave again. This seems weird and difficult in print, but it works for me because my attention span is mostly non-existent, so I get to pause and change what I’m up to every so often. This way, I can bang out a blog post in the morning, then do schoolwork and shoot pictures for the next blog post in the afternoon. I end my workday when I get done with nannying in the evenings, usually around 6:30 or 7:00. I go straight from the family’s house to the gym, and by the time I get home I’m exhausted enough to start winding down for the day.

Get dressed for the day.

This sounds silly, but when you stay in your pajamas all day, you work like you’re in your pajamas all day. At the absolute least, change from pajama pants to sweatpants. You don’t need to get all made up and business casual, but the physical act of changing from things you sleep in to things you work in helps change your mindset to “I’m at work now.”

Treat it like you’re not home.

For me, this means holing up in my study and not coming out unless it’s a set break. It’s like I’m working anywhere else, I can’t just get up and wander. I also don’t let myself keep other crafts and fun things on my desk unless I’m “officially” not working, because I get distracted so easily.

The most important thing about this is don’t let anyone use your time. Don’t let anyone say “but you’re home all day anyways!” and expect you to make appointments and run errands for them. That is a waste of your time. You are working. You are not a personal assistant, you are not someone’s errand boy/girl, you are not just sitting on your ass watching Netflix and eating cookies. You’re trying to get shit done and that can’t happen if you’re running all over town for someone else.

Make a to-do list.

This varies from person to person, but I like having a physical piece of paper with everything I need to get done sitting right on my desk. I make it as detailed as possible, with titles of blog posts I’m going to write and subject matter of emails I have to send. It helps me plan out my day, and keeps me on track in the limited amount of hours I have on my desk. Crossing things out also helps keep me from feeling like I’m stagnating at home, because I am very clearly getting shit done.

Hopefully this list helps, I know people work differently and somethings that work for me may not work for someone else. As always, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and by email at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.