Reasons Why Friendship is Important

“Friends are the family you choose,” Isabella, a character in my book, said to Leah, a Mootoan woman who has much to learn about her new Earthling comrades. As the story explores the different cultures and hierarchies of Mootoan and Earthling culture, some things are universal such as friendship.

This sentiment is especially true. While we as humans cannot choose the family we are born into, we can determine the people we would like to spend most of our time with. While society has emphasized romantic relationships, friendships are just as meaningful. Here are some reasons why:

1. They have an enormous impact on our mental health and happiness.  Having a loving and supportive friend reduces our stress levels, boosts our mood, and provides us the opportunity to improve our social skills. They also add benefits to our lives as we grow older, thus making us happier individuals in the long run.

2. They motivate us to reach our goals. Whether it’s losing weight, quitting a bad habit, or engaging in a new hobby, real friends serve as motivation to help you reach your best self. While it’s true that you should also adopt healthier habits for your own sake, having friends makes the payoff of your effort more worthwhile.

3. They act as a support network. Friends shouldn’t just be there for you when things are easy. They should ideally also be there for you when things are complicated. They also provide compassion, kindness, and advice when one is feeling lost. Additionally, you should also extend the same courtesy to them so they, too, will feel loved and appreciated in your relationship.

Friendships are just as meaningful as any other relationship. As we grow older, we find that having a healthy support network can make all the difference in the world. Call your friend today and let them know how much they mean to you.

How to Make a New Employee Feel Welcomed

One of the most stressful events of a person’s life can be starting a new job. One such example is when in my book, Leah, a Mootoan woman becomes the new engineer in a spaceship mostly full of Earthlings. She experiences shock and fascination at how different the hierarchy is among Earthlings.

Culture shock is one of the prevalent feelings that both Mootoans and Earthlings felt. Nevertheless, they try to make ends meet by understanding each other’s cultures.

Nevertheless, we, too, can experience sudden culture shock. One such example is when a new employee joins the ranks. Here are some ways to welcome a new employee:

1. Teach them the basics. Show them what a typical workday is usually like, including the tools you typically use, the directions to the bathroom and break room, and even a brief introduction to your team. Even if you’re not in charge of showing them the ropes, letting them know you tried is always a bonus.

2. Be polite and friendly. Ensure to greet the new employee with a “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or a “Have a good night.” It may not be much, but it shows you acknowledge their presence, and slowly, they’ll eventually warm up to you and feel more welcomed in the office.

3. Keep things professional. Avoid asking personal questions like religion, political beliefs, and relationship history. Some people are not ready to share intimate details of their lives right off the bat, so it’s better to keep the conversation safe and light.

4. Be patient. Everyone makes a few mistakes during their first week of work. Avoid criticizing them too harshly and let them learn from their mistakes. Offer help, so they avoid making the same error.

Being in a new environment can be stressful for everyone involved. Nevertheless, making a new member feel welcomed can lessen these stressors and make your work environment safe and inclusive.

How to Respect Different Cultures as a Traveler

In my book, “Mootoa’s Moons: The Other Woman,” a team of intergalactic travelers land on the planet Mootoa as they require engine repairs for their space vehicle.

They noticed that the planet Mootoa was almost the same as Earth, except for significant differences. One such difference is that the women were more powerful than the men. Suffice it to say; that culture shock is one of the first immediate reactions of the Earthborn crew members.

While I don’t expect you to travel outside the planet anytime soon, you can certainly make use of these tips once COVID-19 travel restrictions are slowly receding:

1. Try to read up on the place beforehand. There are travel guides readily available in bookstores and online e-book formats. If you’re not much of a reader, check out several YouTube online from highly-rated travelers who can give you tips and tricks to make your trip memorable.

2. Be aware of the closest embassy office. In case of an emergency where you may need to head back to your country, you must know where the nearest embassy office is. Jot down their contact details and be ready with your papers when necessary. It also helps to keep a digital backup on file.

3. Get travel insurance. You can never be too safe, especially when traveling outside of your country for the first time. While the added expenses may be jarring at first, you can have the luxury of knowing you have a safety net when things go sour.

4. Pick up on useful phrases in the local language. Terms such as “Where is the bathroom?” “How much does this cost?” “Good morning” and the like shows respect to the culture while also preventing the awkward language barrier that could happen.

Preparation is always critical, especially in times like these. As many countries slowly lift their travel bans, we must also remember to practice current health protocols. Such protocols include wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing to avoid transmission. Stay safe!

Why We Should Use the Right Pronouns

June is officially pride month, where we celebrate the multiple genders and sexual identities across the rainbow. Whether you identify as part of the LGBT+ community or as a cisgender ally, it’s still important to use the correct pronouns when addressing a person.

One reason for this is that it celebrates inclusivity. While we, as a society, are slowly accepting more progressive views, many people are still uncomfortable with identifying themselves the way they want to. To celebrate our differences as a united front, using the proper pronouns can make it easier for everyone to embrace their most authentic self.

Another reason is that it shows basic decency and respect for their rights as human individuals. Acknowledging their identity as part of the world instead of an outlier is one small way of bringing us closer together.

Last but not least, it helps leverage a more progressive society. Change is inevitable, so instead of fighting a way to keep the status quo, we should all accept that while things can be “good,” they could always be better.

Now that newer generations are coming into the picture, we can help safeguard the legacy of previous LGBT+ forefathers by creating a welcoming and more tolerant society.

Here are some tips you can do first before addressing a person with their preferred pronoun:

  1. Ask them their preferred pronoun. You should never assume that a masculine-presenting person would automatically go with “he” or “sir.” This same rule applies to feminine-presenting persons who may not be comfortable with “she” or “her.”
  • Use gender-neutral words when addressing a crowd. Many speeches start with “ladies and gentlemen” or “boys and girls.” Nowadays, it’s much more inclusive to address the group as “my fellow attendees,” “my classmates,” etc.
  • Apologize when you get it wrong. It can be hard to use the correct pronouns at first. Don’t give up. Apologize and start again. You’ll find it easier to address your loved ones without alienating them in time. Keep going!