On Getting My First iPhone at 30

 

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I got my first iPhone a few weeks ago, at age 30. Not a lot of people know this, since most people who know me know that I like to keep up with the latest in social media and communication.

But it wasn’t always that way.

I was a middle schooler in the late 90s, when ~the~ hot way to communicate with friends  was to send messages to each other’s beepers from a landline using numeric codes like 143 and 133. Compared to the emojis and GIFs available on smartphones today, these codes seem comparable to using a carrier pigeon or chiseling a message into stone. But, as a blissfully clueless late bloomer, the only tech device I owned during my tween years was a Tamagotchi.

When I started high school, I was given my older sister’s maroon beeper, complete with a miniature elastic bungee cord, should it slide out of my pocket. As for voice communication, there was the family landline, which I would call collect after sports practice or play rehearsal ended, blurting, ITSKIMBERLYCOMEPICKMEUP when asked for my name. Then, I would hang up and wait.

When I was a junior, I got my first ~real~ cell phone. The year was 2002, and it was an Ericsson that did not flip closed, prompting a classmate to ask, “Does that thing come with its own briefcase?” The phone didn’t have a vibrate function, so it chirped during class whenever I got a text message, but I didn’t mind, because the Ericsson was a major step up from the pay phone.cellphone

I T9-texted my way through college on Verizon LG and Razr flip phones.  In my early and mid-twenties, hanging on strong to the family plan, I took whatever Verizon phone I could get for free during our biennial upgrade.

But, within the last five years or so, it became clear that I was an Android girl in a world designed for iPhones. Group texts with friends who had iPhones almost never worked correctly. Photos would materialize hours after the accompanying text message. The emoji selection was limited and often mangled in translation. (If an Android user sends a smile and it comes through as gritted teeth, is it really still a smile? Serious philosophical question.) I couldn’t use anyone else’s charger when my battery was low. And major retailers typically only offered cases for iPhones. 

 

While I wanted to be able to download the latest version of Snapchat and use iMessage, I recognized that these were first-world problems, not the end of the world. In the past, when I was eligible for an upgrade, upgrading to the iPhone was still several hundred dollars. A big expense like this wasn’t realistic or important while I was paying down my credit card debt, and even immediately after.

In high school and college, I occasionally got my hair highlighted with money I earned babysitting. My hairstylist said something that I’ve never forgotten. I asked her how long I should wait until getting my roots touched up, and she said, “Wait until you can’t stand it anymore.” That’s good advice when considering any non-essential expense: the better TV, a fresh manicure, a new couch, a phone.

The hairstylist’s advice was in the back of my mind when, a few weeks ago, I became eligible for an upgrade again. Several years ago, I interviewed for a job that involved managing social media for a major brand. In the midst of trying to explain why the brand could benefit from having a presence on Snapchat, I admitted that I didn’t currently use Snapchat. I had, for a while, but I had to delete it from my phone because there wasn’t enough space for it, and it drained the battery. It occurred to me that having an outdated Android phone had put me at a professional disadvantage.

Social media has become an important part of my current job, so being well-versed in popular and emerging platforms has become increasingly important to me. Plus, more and more businesses have developed apps that make everyday tasks easier, from banking to meditating to ordering coffee, but not all of them are available to Android users.

For just under $200, I got the iPhone 6+, and I’m happy with the choice I made. I got a lot of congratulatory “Welcome to civilization!” texts, but I’m glad I didn’t give into the peer pressure sooner. Is there anything more lame than someone with a new iPhone who complains about how “poor” they are?  (My friend Donna Freedman wrote a great post about this back in 2010 that still resonates.)

I waited until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

 

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My Word for 2016: Permission

Two of my thought-leadership role models, Gretchen Rubin and Ann Shoket, recommend choosing a single-word theme to shape the new year.

Other than signing up for a new Goodreads Challenge (I’m aiming to beat my 2015 challenge of 52 books with 55 in 2016), I haven’t made new year’s resolutions in the past couple of years. Instead, I set small goals throughout the year. However, I like the idea of a one-word theme. Gretchen’s is two words, “Lighten up,” and Ann’s is “Deeper.”

For 2016, I’ve chosen PERMISSION as my one-word theme. One aspect of myself I’d like to work on is self-compassion because I tend to be highly self-critical.

A few months ago, I had planned to work through a to-do list I had made on a Sunday afternoon. I don’t remember what was on it, specifically. It was probably running errands, doing some cleaning and other things to get ready for the week ahead. But I felt too tired to power through the list. I wanted to take a nap, but the voice in my head told me that if I did, that would make me lazy and self-indulgent. What reason did I have to be tired? I hadn’t stayed up late. In a brief moment of self-compassion, I thought, I am giving myself permission to take a nap. And this permission was a light-bulb moment for me. As it turns out, I wasn’t lazy, I was sick. The next day, I woke up with a bad case of the flu. My body needed rest; I gave it permission to take that rest.

The theme of permission, to me, isn’t about sleeping. It’s about getting out of my own way. It’s about providing myself with opportunities to work hard and also to have fun. I want to give myself permission to say yes and permission to say no, and permission to let go of the guilt that comes with those choices. 

2015 was a good year for me. I finished paying off over $35,000 of credit card debt, adopted an adorable cat, took three courses at NYU (including fiction, which was terrifying, but fun!) and got promoted at work. In 2016, I’d like to do more writing, so my goal is to give myself permission to write, and permission to say no to things that aren’t as important as writing.

What would you do if you gave yourself permission?

 

 

Three Surprising Things I Learned from The Book of Joan

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The closest I came to meeting Joan Rivers was when she spoke at the Lucky Magazine FABB Conference in 2011. She was a lively, entertaining guest, and made sure to remind us several times to watch her new show, Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best. The conference was running a Q&A with Joan on Twitter, and I asked what I most wanted to know: How did Joan deal with her many critics? My question was selected.

“F–K EM!” she said matter-of-factly, with a fly-swatting wave of her hand.

After Joan’s passing, Melissa Rivers penned The Book of Joan, full of memories and anecdotes of her mother’s work ethic, quirks and family life. Here’s what surprised me most.

  1. She loved true-crime TV. Joan’s DVR included Wives with Knives, Scorned, Forensic Files, Lockup, Lockup Raw, and Law & Order. She and Melissa also bonded over reading true crime books. Joan’s favorite character in literature was Ted Bundy.
  2. She carried a giant purse full of stuff everywhere she went. There is a whole chapter on the purse, and it apparently always weighed between 18 and 25 pounds. Needless to say, Joan often had a hard time finding her cell phone.
  3. She rarely ever read what was written about her.  I suppose, in light of Joan’s attitude towards her critics, this revelation should not have been surprising. “Melissa, I don’t need to hear strangers say terrible things about me; that’s why I have family.” In the internet age, proliferated with armchair critics and an increasing pressure towards political correctness, a public figure who doesn’t respond to, or even read, her criticism is rare. (For more on this, check out “Joan Rivers and the Power of Not Apologizing” over at Esquire.)


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: THRIVE by Arianna Huffington

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With the publication of Thrive and the creation of the Third Metric section of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington is spearheading an important cultural shift towards a more holistic definition of success. (Full disclosure: I have written for The Huffington Post). In Thrive, Huffington argues that success should be quantified by a “third metric” which includes well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving back. The book’s four sections are dedicated to these four pillars.

Thrive combines both personal anecdotes and heavy research.  Two important points Huffington makes that I think anyone in the workforce can appreciate are that over-working causes us to be less productive in the long term and the phenomenon of under-sleeping is a dangerous health risk rather than a badge of honor. It’s important to set boundaries for how much time we spend working and “plugged in” to technology in order to maintain health and happiness.

Most importantly, rather than encouraging us to quit our jobs, ditch our smartphones and move to a remote island, Thrive contains actionable advice for living mindfully, which is its greatest strength. A lengthy appendix with further reading and resources is also included.

If you’re interested in reading more books like Thrive, check out 10% Happier by Dan Harris and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

 [Note: I received a copy of Thrive from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.]