what to do when you’re not saving the world.

I believe in moments. I’m a person who fears monotony and I believe that it is in those little, unexpected moments that we can avoid monotony. I believe in constantly discovering and trying new things. I’m undeniably scared of falling into a routine that remains the same every day. I am afraid of being in one place for too long. Here’s the thing though, the nature of life allows for only a select few of those redefining moments. Maybe your breath will be taken away today, but maybe it wont.  Then what?

I’m having trouble dealing with the reality which is that everyday can’t be life-changing. I understand this idea, but it is hard when it seems like you haven’t had a moment in a long time. So when you’re not climbing a mountain or making a difference or changing the world, what do you do?

Choose optimism. I know this sounds anything but original but there is power in making something great about everyday. There will be days when your faith will be restored in humanity and I hope you have a lot of those days but there will also be days when you will be reminded that this world sucks. But I hope that chose to see the parts that don’t suck. I hope you forgive the people who do you wrong, whether they cut you off, didn’t use their turn signal or stole from you, I hope you don’t lose your hope in humanity. Complaining, especially about other people or really anything at all removes moments in time where you could be thanking God for surrounding us with an amazing world. Complaining sells the world short. Find the ways that make it great and believe in those ways despite the others.

Have little adventures. And I mean little. Your adventure might be reading a book for a few minutes or it might be talking a longer walk to class while listening to some good music. Some adventures are really BIG! And you might have your expectations set high but that doesn’t mean that normal days don’t have something special to offer.

Accept it. Even though your Instagram profile shows nothing but you taking hikes or helping feed the hungry or dressing up for fancy parties there might be days where you’re sitting in sweat pants surrounded by piles of homework, and its okay if that’s all you do that day. Just don’t make that everyday.

I hope you have an adventure today. Thanks for supporting my blog today and always.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels…These things are your becoming. -Cheryl Strayed

 

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We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, —

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties,

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear a mask.

 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let our world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

-Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1896

I read this poem today in my poetry class and as we were analyzing the poem, a deep and intellectual discussion erupted. Unlike many 19th century poems, I find this poem to still be highly relevant. Although initially I interpreted this poem to undeniably represent racial discrimination especially as the poet, himself, is African American, I took the poem to show the emotional agony faced by African Americans that seemed to be overlooked by others. In fear of admitting to weakness, they put on a mask and avoid showing pain and instead put on a smile. After a further look, I realized this poem can apply to a multitude of situations. There are so many times when we wear masks.  We not only hide from weakness but also we hide from expressing inexperience or difference in opinion. We hide our pasts, our scars, and our flaws. We act differently in different settings or around different people. One of my classmates proposed an interesting question. He said “How can you be sure that your true self isn’t just another mask?” This question is what sparked my interest in writing this post. At first it left the class dumbfounded. We all sat there and thought about it for a minute. I think it is a question we have all thought of before though. In the midst of all of our different selves, how do we know which one is our defining self? I, personally, struggle with this fear excessively. I fear that I don’t actually know who I am, or who I would be without the influence of anyone else. My professor responded to the question by saying that we all have a multiplicity of selves, with not one being more authentic than the other. Experiences and external influences shape who we are and our different actions in different settings can be explained by the way our minds work, our personalities and adaptability. Another student suggested that we apply different filters at different times in life but underneath it, we’re still the same person. I thought this interestingly explained the different versions of ourselves.

I especially like the line of the poem “…But let the world dream otherwise.,”. I think it accurately depicts the societal view of ignoring pain and the negative connotation around weakness. Somehow, even though we all have weakness, it is viewed as wrong to admit to it.What a funny thing, because I am attracted to imperfection and weakness. What I truly desire to know about people is their rough spots and how they overcame them. We spend a lot of time with sandpaper when the whole world has rough edges. My initial response is to say to remove the masks! However, I am not naive enough to not understand that this is a natural human response; I think we will always hide parts of ourselves from the world.

 

 

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