Lesson #4: Love Your Dermatologist

I’ve had horrible skin since I was 13 years old: oily and acne-prone, I’ve often joked with people how I feel like I have had mini-Mount Vesuviuses on my face for almost 20 years. I’ve run the gamut of product treatments, from the over the counter creams (that are often too abrasive) to a course of Accutane (aka isotretinoin), the most diehard prescription for acne available). Some have worked really well, while others have caused more trouble than original problem.

Through this all, I’ve learned the valuable lesson of loving my dermatologist. She has a degree in knowing skin, so I trust her when I’m having problems. She’s told me what I’ve been doing wrong (like using apricot pit facial scrubsouch!), explored various options to relieve my dermal dilemmas (like taking oral antibiotics), and been supportive when I wanted to hide under a mask for months on end. Plus, my doctor always gives me coupons, vouchers, and alternatives when it comes to paying for products. Oh — and samples! She loves samples! (And so do I !)

If you’re having any type of skin ailment — rosacea, hyper-pigmentation, acne, psoriasis, eczema, or some thing that’s simply bothering you — find a qualified, caring dermatologist,  schedule an appointment and make a new best friend.

Lesson #3: Pay Down Debt

Easier said than done, no?

When I graduated college, I was roughly $20,000 in debt because of three student loans, and, with a bachelor’s degree in English and theatre arts, not a huge prospect for paying that quickly. But when I got a real job, I made it a point to put extra money toward the smaller loans as often as possible, especially Christmas or birthday cash gifts or income I earned from picking up extra shifts — anything beyond my normal budget. I paid off two loans of the three quickly, only to take on additional car debt. But with the same game plan, I paid my car off 10 months in advance. (I actually was annoyed when the loan company sent me my title early because I knew I still owed them $6!)

Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner helped me understand how money works, especially for loans, credit cards, and mortgages. While I’m not debt free (one last lingering student loan and a mortgage), that book taught me why it’s important to throw extra money at each principle and in what order to pay down debt. I have a better sense of credit scores and why you shouldn’t carry a balance on a card. I’m not getting paid to endorse the book, but that doesn’t hinder me for extolling and recommending it to anyone and everyone with cash questions.

I know it’s not easy to talk about money (and this is my second day doing so!), but I honestly think that being comfortable with it aids in life happiness. If you can’t discuss one of the biggest factors that dictates your existence, then how can you make educated decisions about how to live day-to-day, let alone into the future?

So study up, friends, look at your budget and throw a few extra dollars whenever you can at that credit card balance or lingering loan. 

Lesson #2: Ask for More Money

Women are statistically less likely than their male counterparts to negotiate wages when offered a new job. Why? Because it’s not “nice” or “polite.” This social norm prolongs the unfair wage distribution between sexes, all because ladies think they should be grateful to have work (despite producing results equal to men’s but making up to thousands less to do so). 

I’ve done this only once – negotiated my pay after a job offer. Was it scary? Of course! But the worst that could happen would be them saying “no” and rescinding the offer. But what could be the best outcome? They say “yes” and I’d earn more. And reality would probably exist between those two poles (which is exactly what happened). 

This experience truly changed the way I thought about my work life. Instead of thinking that my employer got me for a song (one of the reasons I left my previous position), I knew I would be taken seriously, that my time and efforts would be valued. I still work in the non-profit world (woo, arts and humanities!) so I’m far from being a millionaire, but I’m slightly better off because I asked for more. 

Have you asked for more money? Did it work or backfire? If you haven’t asked for more, why not? 

Lesson #1: Wear (Red) Lipstick.

Bam. I’m throwing it out there as my very first lesson learned. Wear red lipstick.

Are you asking me why? Well. Here’s my reason.

This is my huge confession: I feel like a huge fraud half of my life. Despite having this blog and being an amateur blogger, I have a lot of days that I don’t think I dress well or interestingly enough to warrant doing this. I fumble through putting on makeup. And forget about hair: you really do not want to see me try to using a curling iron. I feel like the least naturally girly person in existence.

But for some reason, I swipe on some red lipstick and I feel like I hit the self-esteem lottery: suddenly I have my act together and I’m a bonafide lady-boss. It takes two seconds and makes me suddenly feel like I can handle my shit.

The first time I wore lipstick was my 28th birthday. I worked a job with a not-nice person who made me cry regularly, it was cold and I decided to wear the biggest, reddest hue possible because, well, it was my birthday! On your birthday, you can do whatever you want! That day, every single lady in the office commented on how much they loved it, and  (what I found more interesting) how they wished they could pull it off. I adored the attention and conversation it brought up, but also, how people thought I was confident and daring. There was some weird symbiotic magic that they thought I was brave, so I became suddenly it.

Six weeks after that fateful birthday, I dared to wear that same bold lip to my interview for my museum gig. Not that it scored me my job, but I did have several people comment after I started how memorable I was because of it. Now it’s like my trademark there — I can’t get enough! I wouldn’t say wearing red lipstick changed my life, but, well, it kind of did in a way.

So, my non-lipstick-wearing-loves, try it: find a shade — red, orange (DO IT!), purple, coral — and do it one day. See how you feel. Does it make you feel invincible? Or do you hate the attention it warrants?