not just a work bod

There is so much more to life than work. There is so much more to life than looking a certain way and achieving some ideal you aren’t actually happy with. There is so much more, and yet we still get stuck on these basic things of loving ourselves and being content with where we are.

We fundamentally feel empty when we reach grand milestones without the backing of social support. If we aren’t making a difference, if we aren’t paying attention to the people around us, it’s just hard to have any motivation at all. We can strive after money, freedom, success, all of that, but we are nothing if we are alone.

Granted, money, freedom, and success are all nice. But we feel like we are using our money wisely when we can support ourselves and those around us. We feel free when our bonds to others are healthy instead of constricting. We feel successful when we are able to feel secure financially and are connected to others. Sitting alone in a pile of gold has a similar feel to sitting on a pile of rocks alone.

We struggle with motivation at times because we’re often going about it the wrong way. We try to use fear, but fear wears away. We try to use logic, but logic isn’t very inspiring. We try to use self-discipline but that’s something we need to build up over time and for the right reasons.

It’s true, we need money to survive. This shouldn’t be a spot of shame on us. We might not love what we do– that’s okay. If we are miserable, over time we can work to see if there is a better path. It’s easy to fear getting stuck. Midlife crises are unfortunately common. There’s that terrifying idea that we will blink and our life will have passed us by. But if that is your fear, then act. Take charge of your decisions. Whatever you chose in life, chose it willingly. Chose it without regrets. We are forced into all sorts of situations, but we take responsibility for who we are, we are empowered.

Life will be difficult in some way, no matter what. There will always be boring situations. The key to being okay with that is realizing that even the boring moments are moments of our lives. There is a beauty in everywhere if we look for it. There is always something interesting, and when we open our minds to it in the little moments, we can begin to trust oursleves that we’ll find it in the important moments.

a radical pact

A poem about nerves and fear:

The thing about fear is that drives you down to your stomach in Now

Now is here, there, and living like a wild monkey on your shoulder, playing with your chest like it’s strumming a harp

And the drive is to forget, to distract, to just get away to a place with unfamiliar bridges in shadowy nights

But what do we have, if we do not appreciate this moment?

Every moment we have is a moment of our lives, a moment of time, limited edition feat. You and yourself and all the rest of you

Maybe it’s radical, but even if it is our fear making us hold Time in the forefront of our minds, we are still holding Time

And as we shift towards gratitude, an absurdity, we make a pact of peace

Why should we be ashamed of our fear? We didn’t cast Fear as the starring role in the film, all we can do is deal with the diva

And we handle it,

as we have in the past, as others have done, and as we will do in the future, as other future selves will do

little weights and balance

There is a balance between being patient with yourself, and encouraging yourself to actually get things done.

Oftentimes we have to treat ourselves like small children. We have to reward ourselves with snacks, set time apart for naps, make sure our schedule is in line. Things become messy when we realize the person who will reward us is usually us. It’s easy to be our child-self, far more difficult to convince ourselves to be adults.

Being an adult seems like its own world when you’re a child. It is a set of concepts we associate with responsibility and personal power: opening accounts, setting a budget, going grocery shopping, going to work, etc. It seems foreign to those who haven’t done it, terrifying, really.

But it’s a challenge like every other we face. We learn things one by one. We walk to a place, we fill out a form, and we ask questions when we aren’t sure.

Being “adult” is more or less scary to different individuals, but the same idea holds for a lot of things. Fundamentally, we build things up in our head. We make mole hills into mountains and that makes the prospect of climbing them far more difficult. No matter how complicated a task, we break it down into simpler steps. No matter how important a decision is, the moments leading up help give us the necessary information.

So be patient with yourself on the little things, but get those little things done. All of the huge weights we create are an accumulation of little bits we can handle.

the thickets in the thick of it

Here’s a short poem about hope

 

I’ve been going the wild side on the thicket near the edge of town

when I go to the grocery store up the ways, and the lights go down

quickly when you walk with the speed of a lazy cat, intrigued by three

noises tickling the tacky tackle of sharp chirping chickweed near me:

Past, future, present fumbling all at my feet, and still just walking longer

and longer as the pitch raises its void into the sky, as a fear-monger

to scaredy-cat hearts like mine.

 

I’m no linen-shirt tipping up my hat to pool my hands in my finds

I’m no gold-laden lad lying in fabulously good turns of binds

I have a thickness resting in my chest that’s mine to fight

to stumble over with the clumsiness of my own feet at night

Maybe I’ll fall down a black hole and keep falling forever

but that will make a story and folks will think me clever

Maybe there’s even no one, no one at all besides me

but just to breathe is a power that confounds the sea,

let relativity blur the line,

and bask in the knowing unknowing that unfolds quietly around us

Getting out there

Fantastic opportunities don’t show up out of nowhere. They show up at certain times and places, and we need to be there in those times and places. The more interactions we have with people, the more likely it is we will connect, and learn a thing or two about something that’s outside our comfort zone. As to say, it is only by getting out, talking to people, and challenging ourselves that we get opportunities.

That being said, it’s hard. Rates of Anxiety and Depression are soaring, partly influenced by the increased use of social media. By plain genetics, being introverted means that dealing with people for long amounts of time is draining, instead of being fulfilling for extroverts. There’s lots of opportunities online, so for those who look hard it enough, it may seem pointless to get out there physically. Yet, when we meet people in person, we have a stronger connection to them. Interacting with people in person is far more uncontrolled, but that also makes it more interesting and fulfilling when things turn out well.

Putting yourself out there also includes putting yourself out there physically. Traveling can be scary and confusing. Walking around outside genuinely isn’t as fun as scrolling through social media in most cases. But it’s healthy and good, even as we dread it. We make the idea of things blow up greater than they really are, when truly, it’s going to be okay. Lots of people are awkward, and only a few know what they’re doing socially. Overthinking is easy to fall into, but it’s a common phenomenon. However, the basics of communication are pretty clear, we just overcomplicate it. If you’re unsure, ask a question. If you’re angry, explain why. If you’re tired, say so. If you don’t know what to say, then literally say, “I’m not sure what to say right now”, and maybe talk a little about why, or ask a question so the other person can speak. Getting out and talking is hard, but it’s also far easier than you’ve been remembering it because we encode the bad instances far more than the neutral or good ones. You can do this.

the unknown and her demons

It’s hard to trust. By it’s nature, when we don’t know how things will turn out, it puts us on edge. Yet we need to somehow trust ourselves enough to be able to handle the unknown as it comes. But it’s unknown, maybe you’ve never experienced it before, so how can you trust you’ll be able to handle it?

Part of dealing with the uncertainty of the future is realizing that we are going to have to deal with it one way or another. We can’t control the future and completely eliminate the chances of something unexpected, and even if we could, that sort of boring life would drive us crazy. Not knowing is natural. Maybe we don’t know what’s coming down the road of life to greet us, but we know other people and can see how they’ve turned out. Sometimes they turn out alright, and sometimes they don’t. Much of the difference is in how people handle their stress and troubles.

You will be stressed in the future. You will have troubles. These are natural and can even be good for us in the long run! But most importantly, you can change how you’ll handle these difficulties! It is hard to trust yourself, but take the risk. Trust yourself, the alternative is boring. Here’s a little list of things to remember to help you through tense times:

  • Communicate with people about how you’re feeling. Be honest, but tactful if needed.
  • Don’t take too much on! Assume you will only accomplish half of your to-do list, and give yourself time to rest.
  • You can still do amazing things, just realize that the best things take time! Be consistent and let your little efforts build up.
  • Take care of yourself! Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s making sure you’re the best person you can be for others.
  • You are loved, and it’s never too late to change for the better, so start as soon as possible!

where are you looking

When we are in a good mood, we automatically see the silver lining. When we are in a bad mood, we seek out the storm clouds. Sometimes there are things that are unavoidably terrible and miserable, but those things are rare. Most times, we can fight our tendency to look at the negative bits of life.

Life is ambiguous and relative in many ways. We are dependent on context and what we’re comparing things too. It’s hard to not compare because in many ways, we’re comparing machines. In order to be adaptable and problem solve, we think in ways that compare our situation to past situation. We need to look at our choices and make the best ones. We need to look between people and decide who we want to be around. All of these comparisons are driven around a negative bias, this extra emphasis to be wary of what’s going to hurt us and make us feel terrible. We might not be looking for the Best solution, just one that isn’t going to cut off our heads. But that wariness that we need, it can make us hone in on the negative aspects of our lives in unnecessary ways.

We need to compare in order to exist effectively. It’s not a curse, its just a handy tool that we sometimes end up using too much and on situations that don’t need it. If you sit there and tell yourself that everything sucks, how can you expect to be able to he see anything but that? We can’t just stop our thinking habits on the drop of a hat, but we can start making the change little by little. Force yourself to look at the big picture. Give yourself something else to do that isn’t misery-making. Remember that we look for what we want to see.

tactics to solving uncertainty

Uncertainty is like being on the outside of giant inflatable bouncy house. You run around the perimeter, checking the folds and flaps but if there’s no one actively leaving the bouncy house, it can be hard to tell how to get in. It’s seeing a goal, having a desire, even knowing the basics of how to get in, but being unable to do so because you’re missing something critical. So what do we do when we are unsure? How do we survive?

One of the first things we can do when we become nervous and unsure of what to do, is to calm ourselves down. As stereotypical as it is, deep breathing is a wonderful tool to doing so. In addition, try to block everything out for a moment. Get some silence, some area with stillness, so you can think properly. When there’s chaos around us, it becomes easy for there to have chaos within us. Stimuli also takes energy and focus to understand, so getting away from that gives you more cognitive resources to put towards solving that uncertainty.

Then ask yourself, what do I know? With any problem, there is context. Try to map out what you understand and what you don’t. From there, it’s easier to make an educated guess about some of the gaps in your knowledge. In short, zoom out on the problem. Put that uncertainty in its natural broader environment. Then, if you can, do something to solve your uncertainty by getting more information.

If you happen across a strange dog at night, there are different solutions that you could come to, but you could solve that uncertainty of what to do in a pretty quick fashion. Not all uncertainty is like that. Sometimes it’s longterm because its a big question. The tactic doesn’t change too much however. Put it into the broader context and try to get more information. Uncertainty can be a harsh, powerful emotion, but you can tame it with logic.

when life throws you off a cliff for fun

Life happens whether we like it or not. Things get in our way, we are thrust into horrible circumstances. We miscommunicate about something important. We forget something and have to pay the price. Something happens that messes up our plans and it’s discouraging! We struggle and struggle and find that the struggle keeps continuing.

Yet! As much as problems block our path and we get thrown into circumstances beyond our control, our struggles are not the only thing we experience. We also are constantly breathing– just because something takes continuous effort doesn’t make it bad. It also doesn’t force “breathing” to be an all-encompassing label upon our life. We breathe, and yet we don’t typically think of ourselves as “breathers”. In the same way, struggling doesn’t define you. It is an important part of you, but it’s just one aspect of being a complex individual. We are more than our problems.

We are made up of so much! And no matter how terrible you your life may be, there is always something beautiful in it. It could be a friend, or a class. Heck, it could even be as small as a pretty painting! But life isn’t so tiny to be boiled down to our difficulties, and therefore we have so much more to live for and experience. There is always hope, its just a matter of finding where to look.

the time of your life

There are little pieces of life that show their age. Poodle dog dresses and diners and we think of the 50s. Big hair and rock and roll 80s. Even the early 2000s now, we can think of uggs and skinny jeans. It could be clothing, which tends to be the most obvious, but it also turns up in technology, language, and values. The world moves through time and we see the markers in an accumulation of these details.

The things we take for granted right now, like smart phones, are pieces of this era. However, we ourselves are also pieces of this era. We are shaped by so many things, but one of those is the time we are born into. Being born in the 80s and being born in the 90s means two completely different things because technology is different, values are different. Right now, we are forming our own era, our own time, our own customs and norms. Without conscious effort, we adapt the bits of life that will make this time stand apart seperate from the rest. Unlike physical things and trends however, our genes will go on.

What’s crazy to think about is that all of our ancestors made it. As in, we wouldn’t be alive if not for an incredible number of people surviving before us. Not only did our great grandparents need to survive to childbearing age, but so did our great great grandparents and great great grandparents and so on and so forth! The survival of a family, of a line of heritage! Our genes can bring us misery, and we may easily complain we aren’t tall enough or fit enough or happy enough because of it. Perhaps those things are true. Yet our genes have survived, and that’s an amazing thing! It’s easy to feel old when you look back at the things that used to be, but it’s even more stunning to look forward. Even if it’s not precisely our genes that get carried along, the fact we can impact people for the better is important. You matter. Your actions matter. We aren’t those 90s pagers because we are always a fit for the age we’re in: right now.