What happens after you date before you’re ready (a follow-up post)

No circumstance, person, or relationship is the same. I don’t know how you came to find this post or what your situation is, but I hope this blog will bring you a bit of comfort in the days after a beautiful and tragic relationship has ended.

First off, don’t blame yourself. Hell, maybe it is all your fault that you lost your significant other, but just stop being hard on yourself. Nothing is one-sided. People make mistakes. Sometimes we act out of immaturity or insecurity but the important thing is that you can see your errors and know that you want to become a better person. Without that person around to love us, we have to make sure to maintain love for ourselves.

(Note: this is no longer about becoming better for your significant other or to fix your relationship. They’re gone now and you need to do this for yourself.)

Take time and grieve. Don’t let anyone tell you when or how to move on.

(Another note: if it’s been months and you’re seriously unable to cope with life, there is no shame in getting help.)

Back to the beautiful tragedy of it all: it’s a curse and a blessing that you and I got to experience such great things worth missing. That’s why it’s so hard to cope with.

Remember that and be grateful.

You got to love someone and have them love you back. 

It hurts now. But one day, we’ll wake up and it won’t. That’s what I’m living for.

What happens when you date before you’re ready

Warning: it’s not pretty.

You think you’re ready, and that’s the whole problem.

When things don’t work out, you fall apart. Why? Because you based your self-worth on one relationship. You became too dependent too fast. All because you thought you were ready. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 45; if you’re not emotionally ready for a real relationship, you aren’t ready. And instead of dating anyways, maybe you should focus on yourself or what could potentially make you ready to date?

If you date anyways, here are some things that could happen:

You overreact to everything. If they don’t do something the way you want, it’s like a personal attack. Do they not love you anymore?

You’re clingy. You feel like if you’re not getting the attention you want you’re not enough and you compromise/sacrifice parts of yourself to make that person want you more.

You’re immature. Because everything in your life is about them, you assume everything they do should be about and for you. If they don’t text back or make plans with you, the relationship suddenly feels like it’s slipping away and you have to do everything you can to get it back.

You’re mentally weak. Whether this person is wearing you down or you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, by placing all your love and hope on one person, you can’t focus on yourself or see with clear eyes what’s going on. Logic slips by you. Things that should be small are huge and before you know it, you’re screaming at them and placing a strain on the relationship because something rubbed you wrong and you think he doesn’t love you anymore.

 You can’t have a healthy relationship.

You can’t love them the way they deserve. 

Perhaps the scariest: you don’t know it’s you.

Why “stepping out of your comfort zone” is BS 

I’m on my way to Managerial Accounting but I’m tired of school getting in the way of things so I’m going to scribble this while I think of it.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about advice that people give. Specifically, “step out of your comfort zone” or “growth happens when you’re uncomfortable.” Um, can people just F off with this for a second?

Sure, there’s a small realm of validity. If you never left your comfortable bed, nothing would ever happen to you except peeing your sheets and starving of hunger. But realistically, I think this saying creates a misconception that we always have to do more, be more, try more. If we’re unhappy or things aren’t going our way, it’s because we aren’t doing enough, it’s our fault.

So, like I said, F that mentality.

Stay with me here.

We don’t have to take some momentous crazy changes to our lives in order to develop as people. We don’t have to move to a new country to have an epiphany or get a divorce in order to become a new person. It can be really small things, like studying with a friend.

Additionally, I’d like to note that if you’re constantly trying new things to be adventurous or do what someone – society, college, friends –  expects of you, but you’re not happy, STOP RIGHT NOW. I read somewhere that nothing is worth losing your inner peace.

Top Places to Learn About UX:

UX Intern:

  • A podcast started in 2013, UX Intern offers valuable advice for people just starting out in UX. By inviting experts with various backgrounds, listeners can find out the paths that successful people have taken to get their great UX careers.
  • My favorite thing about this podcast is that it’s easy to listen to on the commute to work, or when I want to learn but don’t feel like reading (which is VERY rare).
  • My least favorite thing about this podcast is that it can be monotonous. The same general questions are asked, leading to similar themes throughout the podcasts. Certainly, there’s a lot to learn here. I’m just not sure this is the fastest way to learn it.
    • One of the common themes from the podcasts is that it’s a Catch-22: you don’t have experience in something so you need a job to gain that experience, but no one will give you a job without experience. (So then, what do you do? GO OUT AND TRY THINGS! Really, find some random thing online to prototype, sketch up a way you’d re-design a website that already exists. Use these things to make a portfolio. Learn whatever you can, all the time, find outlets for learning and figure out how to apply them to what you want to do. You don’t need to be hired to practice designing or do research into the field. So just try something, learn something, do something.)

UX Mastery

  • When I google things I want to learn more about, this site comes up often as a resource.
  • Go here to learn about boosting your UX career
  • And here to find out more about building your portfolio (a must-have in this field)

UX Magazine

  • Countless articles, trends, and invaluable information are here, along with engaging content that retains your interest over and over.

Career Foundry (LINK)

UIE

  • I realize I’m blessed to have unlimited access through work, but it may be a viable option to ask your boss about or invest in yourself. It’s chalk-full of webinars from experts across many parts of UX.
  • In case you’re interested, I looked into the price. It’s 29 dollars a month, or 9 dollars per seminar

Related image

Books! Here’s a few that come with top recommendations and shinning reviews

Paired with my blog on the basics of UX, you’ll be set to learn it all.

Tips for a successful internship

Internship season is winding down as the summer winds down. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been spending your days waking up in the sixes and sevens in the morning, made some crappy drip coffee, and ran out the door. Or maybe you’re the type to wake up at 5 AM and run four miles. However your summer has been going, review these tips for this internship season. Make sure you’re on the right track and ready to finish strong, or bookmark this to come back to next summer!

Show up: HI! You’re scared of the unknown, of the corporate world, of whatever your personal fears are. But make sure you get there, on time, and keep on getting there. You won’t make it anywhere if you don’t make it out the door!

Show up with a smile to the meetings you don’t want to attend. Show up even though you’re intimidated and don’t think you have anything valuable to say. The more you show up = the more comfortable situations like that become = the more you feel able to voice your opinion.

Glow up: sure, you’re going to feel intimidated on your first day/week/month, but embrace it! You’re a beginner and that means there’s so much room to grow. By the time you’re a month in, people won’t even remember the awkward kid that strolled into the office with a sweaty forehead and shirt tucked in. You’ll be glowing with a positive radiance from all the knowledge you acquired.

(Note: while it’s great to feel comfortable and confident in your role, do not become that arrogant ass who thinks they’ve learned everything.)

Smarten up: Whether you did research before your first day or not, it’s not too late. After your first week you’ll know more where to target your research. You’ll know more about the company, their software, the things they deem most important. With that going for you, you can search for blogs (like this!) or sites to help you learn the tools and tips you need to be successful there.

Suck up (a little): do what anyone needs you to do. Remember that you’re lucky to be there and you can learn from doing anything. Even if it’s filing paperwork, maybe you can learn something about the way they organize their important artifacts, maybe you can find trends in the company that no one else noticed.

Last of all, congratulate yourself for entering the real world. Ya did it!

Learning the art of critique – my notes

(This article is based off of my interpretation of the ebook Discussing Design: Improving Communication & Collaboration Through Critique by Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry)

I was going to title this “my critique” which would’ve been punny later, but after reading this ebook I realized that’d be the wrong use of the word. People often use “critique” to mean their opinion on something like food or movies. If that’s how you use it too, stay tuned and listen to my rambles on the subject! You may just learn something.

Recently I went through a project where I used Hotjar (heatmapping/analytics tool) to watch videos and give feedback to a company on the usability of their configurator. One of my bosses passed along the aforementioned book to help me format my presentation, and I thought I’d share my findings here. As an author, student, or even accountant, it’s a valuable skill to know how to formulate/iterate critique in a professional and meaningful way.

Balancing helpful feedback without sounding critical is a complex skill to master. If there’s a clear problem, it can be hard to not just point fingers and say “how the hell did you not see this?” On the other hand, even the most carefully planned commentary can still sound harsh: “user’s don’t understand how this works” can be a completely valid statement, but remember who you’re presenting the findings to. If this project is their proudest achievement, you don’t want to blow down their stick house and tell them to re-built it.

This brings me to the reaction-based feedback, which tends to be emotional and passionate but is “driven by an individual’s own expectations, desires, and values”. This is bad when the first thing that comes to mind is: “Wow! This is horrible, no one would ever want to use that!” or when your feedback is altered subconsciously or un-subconsciously by knowing what someone would want you to say.

Another type of feedback is direction-based. This occurs when you give someone specific tasks to complete, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the problems or explain why the problems exist.

So, the happy solution is to critique, to utilize creative thinking to decide whether something has achieve its desired outcomes. As stated in the book, good critique includes 3 details:

  • “It identifies a specific aspect of the idea or a design decision in the creation being analyzed.
  • It relates that aspect or decision to an objective or best practice.
  • It describes how and why the aspect or decision work to support or not support the objective or best practice.”

It’s easy for critical thinking and focus to be ignored, but it’s important to not let that happen. Two mistakes to avoid:

1) assuming critique it only for creative people like designers, not for people in analytics or UX. 2) ignoring critical thinking and focus in favor of being “creative”.

It’s also important for critique not to be self-centered to your personal goals – you have to want to help and to be asked to help. When giving critique, having the “why” behind your statements makes all the difference so that the person you’re working with can see what to take action on or to adjust in the design. However, it’s worth mentioning that you shouldn’t problem solve as it can distract from the focus.

Talk about what you’re searching for, and ask questions!!!! Having everyone on the same page is the best way to start and end the process.

On page 18, the 4 most important questions for critique are laid out:

What was the creator trying to achieve?  →  How did they try to achieve it?  →  How effective were their choices?  →  Why is, or isn’t, what they did effective?

Additionally, “one of the best things a creator can do during a critique is to become a critic themselves. Being able to shift our mindset from thinking creatively to being analytical about what we’re creating is a key creative skill” (22).

The timing and use of critique is up for you to figure out. It’s something you have to learn and feel out, which is a scary thought as a newbie. Like, okay, but when will I know??? How long will it take me to become an expert???

That’s for you to figure out with your new power of critical thinking.

What is UX? My Two Month Crash Course

Starting a new job is intimidating. Starting a new job you don’t know anything about even more so. Granted, when I accepted the position of User Experience Intern, I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into. Over the past few months, I’ve bitten my pride and realized there’s so much more to learn than I thought possible.

So, I’m in UX. It’s a field that’s evolving and defining itself as we speak. This is incredibly exciting because the people I work with are some of the most intelligent ones I know, and they’re on the brink of helping define this new field. I’m honored to work with them, to be in an internship where I feel valued and am given projects that matter.

Most of all, I’m honored to be learning about UX. I wake up—besides being tired/crabby because it’s early and its summer and my roommates got a cat that wakes me up—thrilled to find out what I’ll learn that day. My team consists of people of all backgrounds: computer science, communications, English. Everyone’s pasts have developed their skills and aided in the jobs they have today, whether it be designing prototypes or using analogies to get a point across.

With UX, you can come from anywhere. You can be anything.

However, you must want to learn it.

So, what is UX? Awesome question. Let me tell you what I know.

My first couple weeks involved a lot of Google and User Interface Engineering videos—and then more Google because I didn’t know what the videos were talking about.

One incredibly universal theme, before we get into anything else, is the importance of empathy. In UX, you work with people a lot—both on your team and during usability testing. You must be able to put yourself in their shoes and care about their struggles. UX is about making a better experience. How could anyone enter this field if they didn’t care?

I’ll just start with the basics. If there’s interest, I can delve into more of the exciting world of UX in more blogs.

One of the hardest things is that there’s no set-in-stone way of accomplishing a task. For a process so heavy in user research, I kept looking for a sure-fire way to accomplish any task, whether it be deciding what to put on a mobile prototype or narrowing down the results deck. There are many opinions and suggestions, but one size does not fit all. You must look at what your stakeholder wants to know more about and formulate your process around that.

On a test we did in my first weeks, I did a lot of observing and notetaking. We conducted a stakeholder interview session to discover what they wanted to learn from our research. We defined goals and questions to support those goals. Using a handle tooled called “Axure” a prototype* was developed. After we recruited participants, we tested how easy our prototype was to use. (This is where attention to detail and user behavior is crucial.) As testers, we must carefully watch how what participants say matches with their actions to see what possible discrepancies there are. (Ex: a user may say that our prototype was really easy and they had no problems, but if during the test they struggled to open a Web Browser, there may be more to the story).

After a test, it is important to have a storytelling session. As a writer, I love that term. In practice, it really makes sense. Everyone who observed gets together to discuss what they saw while it’s still fresh in their minds.

Depending on the test, there could be more brainstorming, there could be journey mapping*, there could be a completely new prototype and script developed. After the test is completed, though, a research deck is put together and presented to the stakeholders.

The main takeaway here is this: don’t just be hungry enough to take your lunch break, be hungry enough to learn more. And stay hungry.

*without getting too in-depth, a prototype is based off of your research questions/goals and a rough model of the item you’re testing (like a sketch of a website); prototypes can be interactive

*journey mapping occurs when you put together a visualization of a customer’s process with your product/service