when you’re 21.

When you’re 21 you can feel lost. You can feel like you don’t really know who you are or what you want to do. You can feel like you’ve come so far but are nowhere near where you want to be. You can feel so small. You can feel intimidated just by walking down the street. You can feel like you still have to prove your worth to the world. You can feel completely alone. 

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent contemplating these thoughts. And I always conclude with confusion. I never really come up with any answers. This is just a phase of my life, I guess. There will be a point in my life when I don’t feel these things. When I don’t get nervous sick going into a job interview. When I don’t live in an old, un-air conditioned house with four roommates and no front door. When I don’t get scared by adults. When I don’t feel like I have to justify all of my personal decisions.  When I don’t have to mentally debate every purchase I ever make. At least I think that time will come. But even if it does, I’m sure every age has its difficulties and I’m doing my best to enjoy the positives that 21 brings. 

And as overwhelming as these thoughts can be, I think I have more answers than I originally thought. Yes, defining myself is hard. It’s also unnecessary. But even if I don’t know exactly who I am, I know what I’m not. Have you ever noticed that that there are some, many even, types of people that we know we could never be? I’m not that confused. I know I am not going to a lawyer, law school would chew me up and spit me out. I know I would never survive in the corporate business world. I know I would never tolerate half of the relationships my friends are in, in which they claim to be ‘in love’. I know I could never reside in a place where there aren’t lots of people and lots of things happening all of the time. I know I don’t want to have the same job or live in the same place for my whole life. I know that I will never be able to perfectly parallel park. I know that I will never stop loving ice cream or cereal, even though I know they have lots of carbs. I know that I will never stop wanting to see as much of the world as I possibly can. I know that I don’t ever want to stop writing, even if I never publish the book I dream of writing. I know that I will never stop relating to my dog more than I relate to most people. I know that I will never stop requiring adequate amounts of alone time. I know that I’ll never have myself completely figured out. 

I do think I’ve gotten better though. I remember when I was a freshman in college and the pressure to define yourself in a way that other people liked and understood was at an all-time high. I was in a new place. People didn’t know my high school reputation or really anything about me. It was a clean slate. How did I want to be perceived? I remember struggling a lot with this. I pretended to be having fun when I really wasn’t. I had a lot of surface-level friends that didn’t stay in my life for long. I started imitating what I was surrounded by instead of figuring out myself. I had a turn-around the summer after I completed one year at Ohio State. After many conversations with my parents in which I explained that I was simply unhappy, I decided to change my major after contemplating options as drastic as taking a year off from college. My sophomore year, things changed. And sometimes it wasn’t easy, because when college is so expensive there is a lot of pressure to know exactly what you want to do. But for one semester, I had no fucking idea. And it was so great. I enjoyed learning again. I eventually figured it out and I am so thankful for this transitional period. 

And maybe 21 is just a transitional period. And I know that one day I will look back and, even if things are completely different, I will be thankful for this time. 

“Do your thing. Do it unapologetically. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. You probably already know what they are going to say. Pay no mind to the fear of failure. It’s far more valuable than success. Take ownership, take chances, and have fun. And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing.” – Asher Roth

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it’s been awhile.

I have thirty-five drafts currently saved on my blog that are yet to be posted. Why aren’t they posted? To be honest, there isn’t a real excuse. Part of it is that when I’m writing a blog post, my mind sometimes gets overwhelmed with thoughts I’ve had recently and sorting through them, trying to figure out if each one fits into the overall idea that I’m trying to convey is quite exhausting. Another reason is that I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to these posts, which is strange in the fact that one of my main reasons for beginning my blog was to provide a platform for myself to expressively write without having to conform to academic rules. However, I have to say, that removing the deadlines that accompany academic writing, you also remove the urgency and sometimes the drive to complete and actually finish work. I’m not surprised but I do have to admit that without deadlines, sometimes work, even if the work is important to us, slips lower and lower on our priority lists as most of our time is taken up by, dare I say it, our day jobs.

I think the last post I published was in May or early June and I am quite upset with myself. Not for any reason other than the fact that I feel as if the only thing stopping me was the lack of mental willpower to commit, at least a portion of my time, to writing. As disappointed as you may be, this post is not going to be about my lack of mental willpower. I could write for pages on that but for one, many people would find that exceedingly boring and for two, I don’t find a purpose in deeply analyzing any negative trait of mine.

My summer has kind of been a whirlwind of activity. I’m currently enjoying a well-needed break, at least until Monday when I move back to campus and the chaos begins again. Without going into too many personal details that would bore you guys to death, I’ll just say that I was challenged by my own mental priority list. My problem was that with different aspects of my life pulling me in different directions, I tried to keep each section separate and happy. This is impossible though if you don’t want to have a breakdown after two weeks. Unfortunately, you don’t gain any more hours of the day based on how much you have to do. Everyone only gets twenty four. We all have to spend a majority of our lives working. We also have our own personal lives that we must push along by doing activities such as laundry and grocery shopping and paying bills. Then there are our social lives, whether it be friends or family, that usually get pushed to the bottom of our priority list when we’re busy. Then there are things you must do to stay alive like eating and sleeping. Believe it or not, those things are important, you need to make them a priority if you want to continue working your ass off. The problem with priority lists is that each section is completely individual. It would be nice if your work called and said. “I noticed you haven’t spent very much time with your family lately, why don’t you take the day off?” But they don’t. Each priority list item just takes what it wants without any regards towards other items on your list. Priorities can run you into the ground if you let them, I learned. Each priority has value, and we forget that. You have to respect and make time for each one, even when it feels like it’s impossible. Don’t sacrifice sleep for work,  because your body can’t handle it and in the end your work will suffer. The more time you allow one item to take, the more the other items will suffer. The more items on your priority list you have, the less time you can commit to each one, so you have to carefully decide which ones make the list at all. What I’ve learned is sometimes you have to say no, which is hard if you’re like me and just making everyone around happy, makes you happy.

Maybe you have to sit down and think about what is important enough to go on your list or maybe you already know and just need to consciously remind yourself. What you have to remember is that choosing to commit time to one things is also choosing to take time away from something else. Don’t take time away from something that is important to you, because it might start to remove itself from your priority list, and it might be something you really liked.

“No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.”  – Maya Mendoza

 

 

adventure awaits.

Unfortunately for us, the most common question a stranger will inquire about us is “What do you do for a living?/What are you studying?” (if you’re a student). Why is this unfortunate? Because it indirectly means they’re judging you. Even with the most kind and naive intentions, this question is forming the basis of other’s opinion about you. Other than your name, it is what people associate you by. However, I could care less about what someone does for a living, I want to know their passions, which might be what they do for a living, but it might not be. I’m curious about what makes their heart beat fast and what they could talk for hours about without taking a breath. Anyway, what’s more important to me is where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. Your adventures. Your experiences are far more valuable than money. So, if you want to have adventures, let me explain some basic rules.

  1. Having adventures does not mean you have to travel somewhere far away.                         …Or actually travel at all. Although at some point in your life you should travel far, not all your adventures have to be somewhere on the other side of the world. To me, adventures can be discovering something that has be right in front of your eyes, just looking at it in a new way.
  2.  Don’t go to see something specific, go and discover and look beyond what you’re expecting.                                                                                                                                                   Don’t go to see, go AND see. Often when we have plans to travel, we also have expectations. Expectations and planning can give us a basis for what our adventure will entail, but don’t make an itinerary. Adventuring involves exploring, trying new things, and looking beyond what you’re expecting to see to find the extraordinary.
  3.  Don’t limit yourself.                                                                                                                       The point of adventuring is going beyond what you would experience in a normal day. So don’t apply any limitations. Try things that scare you. Try things that put you out of your comfort zone. More often than not, you’ll probably surprise yourself with your ability to learn a new skill or do something you’ve never done before.
  4. Don’t go with predetermined expectations.                                                                        There is no possible way to expect or predict what you will see and discover, the magnitude is unfathomable until you experience it in real life. So don’t even bother coming with prepared itineraries or images of where you’re going. The fact is that your plans will change. It is inevitable. They an change for a multitude of reasons, most of which are out of your control. So instead of setting your minute-to-minute plans up for failure, don’t make any, especially if your one of those people that gets upset when things don’t go according to plan.
  5. You can’t plan fun.                                                                                                                               It is true. Enter each new opportunity with an open mind, even if it seems like something you normally wouldn’t do, it might be really fun. It might also suck but you will never know unless you embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Some of the most fun you’ll have might be not really doing anything at all but simply having a mini adventure with awesome people that make you laugh.
  6. Do something you’ve never done before.                                                                                 The key to a fulfilled life, at least in my opinion, is having a balance between change and routine. When you’re adventuring, embrace change. Throw your routine out the window for  at least a few hours. Try living like someone else. Or try a new flavor of ice cream (because, let’s be honest, there’s not a bad one). Learn a new language, or at least a few words. Try painting. And if you’re already a painter, try a new medium. Listen to a band you’ve never heard before, preferably one that isn’t widely known. Adventure can be anything, but once it becomes a new norm for you, find something else new to try.
  7. See old things in a new way.                                                                                                             So maybe you’re in desperate need of an adventure but don’t have the opportunity to even leave your house. Fear not! One of the most important aspects of adventuring is clearing your mind of the preconceived and opening doors to new ways of thought. If you’re stuck at home, look out your window. I bet there are things you’ve looked at a million times but have never seen. Take some time to notice what is around you. The sad part about life is that beautiful things happen all around us, natural phenomena so perfect and extraordinary that it takes your breath away. These things will continue to happen whether your  notice them or not. They are always happening at a constant pace and they don’t stop if you’re too busy to notice them. Maybe wake up a little earlier to watch the sun rise. Or take a moment and just watch as it’s raining. Listen to the birds chirp (you’ll miss them when they’re gone for the winter).

The recipe for adventure can be as simple or as complex as you can make it. And I urge you to have adventures, both big and small. Never let a busy and monotonous schedule keep you trapped inside a cage from which you feel you cannot escape. The hope is that we have the power to choose our own adventures. So, go!

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time your spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

circumstantial happiness.

As hard as it can be sometimes, you have to find happiness in this moment right now. Too often, we depend on circumstances, or more potential circumstances to make us happy. It is important to set goals, even little goals, but there is a difference between having goals and creating an internal list that results in perpetual dissatisfaction.

Even if you want to get better or you are ashamed of where you’re at, you have to realize that there is something, most of the time many things, that are going right. The truth is  when you make a list of things that will make you happy, you’re essentially also deciding that you’re not happy right now.

“Realize you can be happy this moment for no reason. Otherwise, you eternally depend on conditions for happiness. Unconscious of this moment, you remain a victim of circumstances.”

Even when you wake up to your alarm, not even close to being fully rested, when yesterdays problems rush back into your mind only this time they are accompanied by the problems of today too, the only thing pulling your body out of bed is the fact that you have to be somewhere soon, and when you feel far away from happiness. Those are your circumstances now. And you will likely have different circumstances in the future. But your happiness doesn’t have to depend on your circumstances. This is a choice though. And many people chose future happiness over present happiness. Happiness actually doesn’t depend on circumstances, it is  state of mind. Being happy now can actually give you more motivation to continue striving towards making improvements in the future.

Idealism vs. Practicality

This is a war I face everyday. It’s a tight war, it isn’t a battle where one side clearly has the upper hand. And I’m really stuck. Do I do what love? Or do I do what is practical? If only I was involved, the choice would be easy. But I am not the only one involved. There is money to worry about and time and the job market and a lot of other shit that makes my decision seem like either way I chose, it will be wrong.

One of the things I do when I don’t know something is I listen to other people, I see what they have experienced. I’ve listened to people say to follow the idealism route, the route that won’t make you rich but will make you happy. They tell you to live in the moment and love what you do. Then I hear the people that say, “You’re never going to love what you do, at least not all of the time.”

I know that I in no way have enough life experience to give anyone advice on this matter but I think the decision isn’t as two sided as I like to think it is. Practicality? Who is to tell me whether or not I’m living a practical life. To me, practicality is subjective. Maybe some people think it’s practical to go to college and earn a four-year degree and then immediately get married and have kids, all while having a stable and financially secure job. Although this seems pretty practical to me, it might not be everyone’s definition of practicality. Some people thrive on financial security and need that in their life while others accept the fact that they’re going to have to live on less while they pay for things like traveling and higher education. Idealism on the other hand, although subjective, can also be practical. I still think that’s possible! I’m not trying to be naive, I know everyday can’t be amazing because that would actually take away from your really good days but I do think that there is a way to made your version of ideal, practical. It might take some thinking, it’s not going to be a direct route or the same one that everyone takes.

I’m inspired by the people living a idealistic life and when I hear about them I begin to think it would be possible for me. When I hear about people who took on the world head on and found a purpose doing what they love , I realize it is possible. Find those people and listen to them. Find a role model let them help you.

Right now, I don’t have a plan anymore. I can’t tell you where I’ll be in ten years but that’s exciting. I’m learning so much and actually enjoying it. I actually have time to explore and learn and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. Before I reached this conclusion though, I was scared. The unknown used to scare me but now I realize it is more scary to stay on a path I knew wasn’t for me.

So I think our new goal shouldn’t be deciding which one we should choose. We should have a goal to find a way to make our version of ideal practical and to do so we might even need to adjust our definition of practicality.

A Little Unrealistic

Have you ever watched your favorite movie or TV show and after it left you awestruck, you came to the realization that it’s not real. We don’t want to believe that the characters are only actors because we get emotionally attached. As pathetic as that sounds, and I’m really not that much of TV watcher, it sometimes makes me sad to remember that the surgeons on Grey’s Anatomy aren’t actually saving lives and they aren’t even real doctors. The lives they play are so much more interesting than the truth, which is that series of theatrical illusions create the atmosphere of a surgery and talented actors perform convincing roles of actual medical practices. The believable young child inside of me holds on to the idea that the medical miracles and the relationships are reality. This is just one example.

This is not the only aspect of life in which we want to believe fantasy. Even if it’s not as evident as television. The reality of life is that is isn’t going to be interesting, at least not all of the time. When we have a goal, we often think of only the end result, because that is the best part! We never think about the sometimes millions of steps that it takes to get there. We only look at the top of the mountain, even if we are still at the base of the mountain, 12,000 feet below the peak. Even if we have no idea when or how we will get there I think everyone has a “dream house” or a “dream job”. I am nineteen and a college student, I don’t have any money and any money I do have is going to pay for education, yet I know what kind of counter tops and cabinets I want in my “dream kitchen” (Thanks to my sister for marathon watching HGTV ). I have no idea how I will ever get to the position where I will be able to create my dream kitchen, it might be never, but again, I am only thinking of the end result.

I am a firm believer in dreaming without limits and I think we all need to have fantasies in our head, even if we know they will never become reality because it instills imagination in the adult thought process which is so often ripped from our minds. The science behind things, the realities of how life works takes our imaginations and rips them to shreds. Sometimes I wish I still had the child-like ideas that scientific processes are magic and just happen, because that is so much more interesting and fun than learning the theories and formulas behind everyday phenomenon.

Because the thing that we might often forget is that the bigger we dream, the harder is to get there. And there will be those nights or days or even brief moments where we will feel lost or forget why or what it is we’re working for. So, continue to dream, even at all the wrong times, just do it. I find it instills inspiration in me and also takes your mind away from reality for a moment, because sometimes it’s really hard and reality can be brutal and unfair.

I guess what I’m saying is that in a brutally realistic world, it is okay, rewarding even, to be a little unrealistic once in awhile. Even if it’s just for a few moments.

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies and I think it fits with this post, at least a little.

So dare to dream. Dream your wildest dreams. You can climb the highest mountain. You can drown in a teacup, if you find a big enough teacup. And if someone tells you that you can’t do something, you say, ‘Yes I can. ‘Cause I’m doing it right now!’ -Barry, Dinner for Schmucks

When I Grow Up…

Why do we have the dreams that we do? When I say dream, I use the term loosely, in a sense of not only physical aspirations, but also what kind of person we want to be and what kind of things we want to have done at the end of our lives. I’m in the process of removing from my mind from the idea that career goals need to facilitate our entire lives so I was thinking about not only what I want to be when I grow up but who I want to be.

And at the same moment as I had these thoughts, I then noticed a phrase we often use too much without it having any clarified definition. The phrase is “…when I grow up.” I have determined that I should probably stop using this phrase because technically from a legal standpoint, I am an adult. I don’t feel like one though. When we ask young children what they want to do when they grow up, they say big things. They stretch their imagination to the farthest point and they actually believe with everything inside of them that they can do it. They are the ones who have it right. I’m not sure at what point we begin disbelieving in ourselves or when we begin to let others influence our opinion of what we think we can do, but it doesn’t take long. Then we grow up a little bit and we start to think that adulthood comes suddenly one day, like as soon as you reach your eighteenth birthday, you’ll know exactly what it is you are going to with your life and who you’ll do it with. But sadly that’s not true either. I don’t know when adulthood truly begins but I do know that it doesn’t come all at once. We grow when we don’t notice we are growing and to be honest, I don’t think I ever want to stop growing. I definitely have goals I want to reach but I would like to consider those stepping stone for further growth. I don’t think anyone aspires to land their dream job and then never get promoted. Or be able to run ten miles and then never go any further. So don’t think that if you reach one goal, although you’ll feel immensely proud, that you’ll be forever satisfied. This thought isn’t depressing. I don’t want to come off as saying that you’ll never reach fulfillment in life and that life is just a series of lists of goals that you have to achieve, but just that you might reach it in other ways than you initially imagined, and that you have the opportunity to continue to reach it not only when you become an adult but all through adulthood as well.

I know nothing with any certainty. But the sight of the stars makes me dream.” -Vincent van Gogh