Cyber life=real life!

My last semester of college officially started this Tuesday. Reality is really starting to hit home that this is the end, that despite how much I don’t want to accept it, I will soon be an “adult” living in the real world come the end of May. Recently, this realization has made me think a lot about what I want to do with my life and how I am going to get there. Half of my success will depend on how well I can present/sell myself to my future employers (which is the main reason I started this blog in the first place). But, how someone perceives the type of person you are doesn’t just depend on your face to face interactions. How you choose to present yourself through social media is just as important. This is especially pertinent to victims of my generation (and younger) who have been introduced to the God of Facebook in our vulnerable teenage years.

I know this probably isn’t the first time someone has told you this, but I am going to tell you again: once you post or publish something on the internet it is VERY hard to permanently delete it. There is always a possibility that someone out there will find it, no matter how hard you try to hide it. You wouldn’t want to lose your dream job or get kicked off your sports team because your clueless friend posted an indecent picture of you from last weekend, would you? This can happen and does happen all the time. Now I can go on and on about how to use Facebook “properly” but I actually want you to read this post so I will try to keep it short. Since my Facebook could use a makeover itself, here are a few tid-bits of advice that I am going to try to follow myself (and I hope you will join me):

*Most importantly: your profile picture. Pick this very carefully and just use common sense. Now, I am not suggesting that you need a boring, professional picture but let’s keep it neutral. You probably don’t want to be drinking, smoking, or half naked in this picture. I know it’s really tempting to use that picture from New Year’s in your itty-bitty black dress with your glass of champagne because let’s admit it, you looked pretty damn hot. But when push comes to shove, it’s not worth it. You look just as hot in your jeans and t-shirt at that last baseball game you attended.

*People can get an extremely good sense of who you are just by looking at your Facebook; it’s actually kind of scary. Post links and news that show off your (positive) interests, your professional expertise, or are related to a professional arena you wish to enter into one day.

*Keep your personal problems private! That girl you sat next to in math class that one time really doesn’t want to know about your most recent break-up or your family problems. The best way to communicate your personal problems to your best friends is to talk on the phone or in person about them. If you really need to use the computer, send a private e-mail or message.

*Believe it or not, your tone is important (even on Facebook). Don’t say things that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying in person.

*This may be self-evident but there are many people who still don’t get it: don’t be a stalker. Don’t friend people you don’t know or don’t have any connection to. If you want to friend someone you have never met before you should send a message along with your friend request explaining who you are and mention the name of a mutual friend.

*PLEASE, don’t post every single little thing you do or think about on your Facebook. No one, not even your best friend, cares that you woke up at 9, ate breakfast, went to the gym, showered, and is now getting a manicure.

*Don’t vent about work or someone else through your statuses or wall posts. There is a really good chance that someone you don’t want to see it will, even if your page is private.

*Facebook is a great way to communicate what is going on in your life in a matter of seconds. That being said, it shouldn’t replace actual communication. If a major event occurs in your life (a death, engagement, pregnancy) you should call up all the people closest to you and tell them first, then go ahead and let all your other Facebook friends know.

*Don’t break off a relationship over Facebook… just don’t do it.

*Respond to Facebook invites seriously. Lots of my friends actually use the number of people that responded “yes” to prepare for their parties. If you are definitely going, make sure to RSVP so the host can have enough food/drinks for everyone. If you aren’t going, don’t click “yes”! It’s really not cool to make someone prepare extra food if you never intended to show up in the first place.

The bottom line is: treat your cyber life as you treat your real life. Don’t say/do anything that you wouldn’t do or say in person. Don’t give people a reason to talk about you (unless it’s a good reason of course). How you present yourself through social media tools can permanently damage your real life image you have worked so hard to perfect.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Gym 101 for the Fitness Princess

I am currently in the midst of two-a-day practices for my college’s swim team (one more week left! I have never been so happy for classes to start). Although most of our time is spent in the water, we make frequent trips to the weight room. During the off season you can find me in the gym almost every day. I love working out, it makes me feel more alert and energized (I also don’t feel so guilty grabbing that last piece of cake off the dessert table after either). The gym can also be a scary place, especially for women. I will admit it, I get really nervous (and try to avoid it at all costs) going into the free weights section of my gym at home without my fiancée. I feel like I don’t belong there and that everyone is staring at me, judging how much weight I am lifting and if I am doing the exercises correctly. I am slowly getting over this fear; it’s a work in progress. Here are a few etiquette tips that I like to keep in mind while at the gym to make myself feel more at ease and in place:

*Share! Don’t sit on equipment to rest, read, or talk on the phone. Someone else could be using that equipment while you rest and vice versa. The same rules applies for dumbbells, put the weights back on the rack while you rest in case someone else wants to sneak in a set. The only time you do not need to follow this rule is when you are using a stacked barbell. If someone is waiting try to be as quick as possible.

*When you are done using a stacked barbell, empty it. The next person who comes along may not know how to clear the bar correctly or may not be able to lift as much weight as you. Even if you are only using ten pound weights, empty the bar.

*Carry a towel. No one wants your sweat. Make sure to wipe off all benches and equipment when you are done.

*Gyms tend to be a little cramped so don’t block the pathways or any empty areas. Don’t carry your gym bag around with you, that’s what the locker room is for. Also, the gym is not for socializing so yes, it’s not alright to stand in the middle of the pathway with three friends talking for thirty minutes.

*If there is a line behind you at the water fountain, be quick! If you want to take a long drink, go to the back of the line.

*Especially for us women, take care of the locker room! Take a quick shower if people are waiting and take all your supplies out of the shower with you (including the hair in the drain). Don’t hog the whole mirror or the blow dryer. If you get hair around the sink or on the counter, clean it up. Only use one locker to store your belongings.

*Minimize phone conversations, especially on cardio machines. No one wants to listen to your boring work conversation or about how drunk you got last weekend. If your phone conversation is turning into a long one, go to the lobby.

*Try to stick with drinking just water. Bringing sugary drinks or smoothies out onto the gym floor increases risk of spilling, resulting in sticky spots left behind on the floor.

*If the gym is busy, limit your cardio workout to 30-60 minutes. It may not look like someone is waiting for your machine but I guarantee someone is eyeing it from the weight section.

*Return all equipment to the exact place you found it, don’t make the people after you search around the gym.

*If you are waiting for a piece of equipment or cardio machine, don’t hover. There are many other exercises you could be doing while you are waiting.

*My favorite tip: don’t offer other people unsolicited advice. You probably aren’t a personal trainer so don’t act like one. If someone does ask you for advice, go ahead and give it but only if you are 100% sure of the answer, you don’t want them to hurt themselves.

*Dress appropriately, you aren’t at the beach! No ripped clothing or jeans. Try to minimize cleavage and don’t wear shorts/pants that show your underwear.

*Lastly, if you notice that a piece of equipment or a machine is broken, report it! You don’t want others to get hurt and the faster you report it, the quicker the gym can fix it.

The gym is a public place where manners still count. Most gym goers only have very limited time in their day to work out, so be considerate of others. Oh yeah, and don’t be scared of all those muscle men in the weight section. You deserve to be there just as much as they do.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Hold that Door, Please!

Once upon a time holding the door open was a rule of etiquette practiced by men only. Well, guess what world?! It’s 2012 (yikes! I’m graduating in a few short months…) and holding the door open for the people behind you should be a universal etiquette rule by now. Unfortunately, not enough people do it and this includes all you ladies out there too. Plain and simple, it’s just the polite thing to do. I have seen women scoff at or completely ignore the person holding the door open for them. I promise, they are not trying to get in your pants (well most of them aren’t), they are just being nice. Ladies, let’s step it up and show our fellow men how it’s done by holding more doors!

Now, this doesn’t mean we must run amuck and hold open every door we see for people miles away. Just like other proper etiquette manners there are some basic ground rules that will help you avoid awkward moments and display that new confident you:

*Number one: Holding the door open applies to everyone. Anyone can hold a door open and anyone can be the recipient of a door being held open for him or her. Just because a woman holds the door open for a man does not mean she has emasculated him, it just means she got to the door before he did.

*Hold the door open for the person or people that are behind you, it’s really that simple.

*If you choose to do the awkward reach-your-hand-back-to-hold-door-open move (which I recommend you don’t) make sure that women, children, or elders aren’t behind you. You should always let these three groups of people through the door first by saying something like “After you.”

*Only hold the door open if you get to it first. You don’t need to sprint across the parking lot to reach the door before other people just so you can hold the door open. If someone does this, he is probably trying to get in your pants (or at least get a number).

*Say “You’re welcome.” Yes, if someone holds the door open for you remember to thank them, please!

*Some doors open in, while others open out- what do you do?! If the door opens out, pull it towards you and step back, letting the people behind you walk in first. If the door opens in, push the door away from you, enter first, then step back and hold the door open for others behind you.

*We have all encountered that awkward door hold where you had to shuffle/half-run to get to the door because you didn’t want to keep the person waiting too long. To avoid this, don’t hold the door open for someone if the door can fully close before they reach it (unless, they are handicapped). If someone makes the mistake of holding the door open too long for you, don’t sweat it, make them wait for you to reach the door- they were the one that messed up, not you.

Holding the door open is probably one of the simplest etiquette skills one could practice but we don’t do it enough. It is all about common sense. Use your good judgment about whether it’s the proper place and time to hold the door open for the people behind you because your instinct is probably right.

Here is a cute cartoon that I came across for your entertainment (plus, it’s completely true):

Now go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

[And remember, you can also track my blog on Twitter: @lconfidence.]

Handshake it, girl!

The handshake is a small and quick gesture but means a lot. A handshake is a silent cue about one’s personality and yes you guessed it, confidence. It is especially important to people (like me) who aren’t verbally outgoing. It gives us a chance to say, “I’m worth it!” without actually having to say it.

It is really hard to say where the gesture of the handshake originated since there are many different versions of the story. The one that seems to be most popular is from the medieval times. Upon meeting, men would present an open right palm to show that they were not carrying any weapons. It is also said to have originated from the “elbow-to-wrist” pat down which checks for hidden knives inside of a person’s sleeve. The shaking part of the handshake comes from trying to shake out any hidden weapons wrapped in one’s clothing. This act of proving that you were weapon-free created trust between strangers. Women were less likely to be carrying weapons; therefore handshaking was not commonly practiced among women and is still used less frequently between women today.

Enough about history, what about today? There are many ways a handshake could go sour. A bad handshake sends the wrong signals to the other person, creating more work for you after the fact. To avoid having to play make-up for a little mishap keep some of these tips in mind the next time you go shake someone’s hand:

*Always orally introduce yourself first. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy (for us verbally challenged people) but something simple like, “Hi, my name is Sarah. It’s nice to meet you,” will get the job done. Going right in for the kill with a handshake without saying anything first will make for an awkward moment.

*Use your right hand, even if you are a lefty! Why is this? No one really knows but just as with the origins of the handshake there are many predictions. For instance, in the Christian faith, the left hand is associated with the devil. In Islamic faiths, the left hand is reserved for non-hygienic aspects of life, such as wiping yourself after using the bathroom (yes, I said it… so what?). In many cultures and religions, greeting someone with your left hand is seen as an insult.

*Make the handshake short (pump/shake only 2 or 3 times). Holding onto a stranger’s hand for too long makes them feel uncomfortable. Come on now, we have all had that experience. As a guide, start your handshake as soon as you start introducing yourself and end it by the time you are done.

*Now, for the grip. You want a good grip, one that tells the other person you are a force to be reckoned with but there is no reason to break their hand while doing it. Don’t be limp, but don’t apply too much pressure either.

*Many times you will see women only offer up their fingertips to a handshake and I am warning you now: DON’T DO THIS! Presenting the other person with your whole hand shows them that you are their equal and not just another dainty woman.

*Shake with one hand; don’t cover the other person’s hand with your left hand. It’s way less intrusive, especially when meeting someone for the first time.

The handshake is simple, so don’t get too nervous about it. When used appropriately it can send the other person a fabulous first impression without any words being spoken. But, if you mess it up, don’t sweat it (no one likes to shake hands with sweaty palms)! There will be plenty of time later to make-up for it.

Handshake bonus: Remember your posture! See my first blog post.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

(P.S. You can also follow my blog on Twitter: @lconfidence)