don’t kill people

There’s something alluring about villains, and it’s probably because they do something that we never do: what they want. As brutal and horrible as the antagonist is, they are confident and seem to have control over their life. Indeed, many point out that killing is an act in which a person tries to have control over their own mortality. In a perverted way, carrying out horrors allows someone to seemingly undergo catharsis. The problem with villains, however, is that they aren’t doing what they want at all. They are so afraid of losing control that they abandon their morals. In the name of “I can do what I want!”, they are the child that eats too much ice cream it causes them to be sick; they are self-destructive in their desperate actions of self-preservation.

Everyone follows some set of rules or ideals. The idea of ‘non-conformists’ doesn’t make sense, because in order to be a non-conformist, you have to conform to the idea of non-conformism. Psychologists who study criminal behavior study it because even when humans think they’re acting with no pattern, they are. That’s why statistical analyses use computers and random number tables, because humans aren’t random. Villains may claim to be rebels, living outside of the rules, but they are only following their own set.

The real kicker of villains is that they are confident. In most stories, the hero goes through obstacles and grows to become the strongest of them all. They don’t start out the strongest, or else their character would fall flat. The antagonist, speaking very generally and with obvious exceptions, tends to stay static. Looking solely at villains and heroes in terms of confidence, the villain stays true to their code. That stability is what I believe makes people adore iconic characters such as Ursula and Jafar.

Yet! It would be silly to think we have to be evil in order to be confident people that stick to their code. Giving up your morals hurts. The feelings of guilt and regret rarely go away because it tells us where our limits are. Regret and guilt don’t feel good, but they help us become good. Don’t ignore the more quiet emotions, don’t become knotted up and weighed down by following your less than honorable intentions. Emotions that aren’t pleasurable are, by definition, uncomfortable and undesirable. However, they are important because make us who we are. You are always following a code, so listen to your conscience.

don’t be wholly upset

We tend to think of the body and mind as two separate things. Brains and brawn, pen over the sword, the smart short henchman and the tall strong henchman, the tropes are everywhere. Yet, this separation can be taken too far at times. Mental illnesses are actual illness, just like a cold, because the brain is your body. The mind has other layers that philosophers and psychologists have been trying to decode for ages, but having a brain makes it possible for you have those layers in the first place. In the same way, the body is a very real factor in how you think and feel. If you are in pain, from say a sore back, then talking with a friend becomes bitter. That’s why exercise is so important; when you use your body, it helps all of your body, including your mind.

When there is too much focus on one part, the whole suffers. No one likes the teacher’s pet because it creates social tension that distracts from actual learning. Yet throughout our day, we act like it’s okay to hone one part of ourselves and leave the rest to play catch up. Some focus too much on toning their body and end up behind intellectually; others focus too much on their mind and their body suffers. Sometimes we focus on grades and leave our mental health to the wayside, other times we focus on our social life and leave our academic standing to the wayside. Indeed, sacrifices do have to be made, after all there is only so much time in a day. Still, we ignore the real problem: the different parts of your life are related. Your mental health, work, physical health, social life: everything that makes up You is interconnected. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on an aspect of yourself that is lacking. The obstacle I’m referring to is when we forget to approach things holistically.

I would just like to encourage people to think of themselves as they are: complex. You aren’t “just” a student, or “just” an employee, or “just” anything. It’s hard to find a balance between all your values, but its worth it. Remember what you value and work on achieving those goals as a whole person, not someone that limps to their destination with fire in their wake. Even if today just seems like another day, this is a day that you are alive. This a moment in which you exist, in everything you are. Whoever you are, don’t give up just yet. Improve. It’s never too late to become better than the person you were yesterday. You’ve had struggles, but this day is an opportunity. Even if it’s an unattractive one, take it.

life is the journeying chocolate box you make

Every weakness can be made into a strength, and every strength can betray you to a weakness. However, the greatest strength is to know yourself. Imagine you are a character in a book; what are your motivations? Most books have both internal and external conflicts. What physical things in your environment challenge you? What are things you struggle with inside? The best kind of writers are those who ask questions because if they ask the right questions of their characters, they can understand everything they need to know to write the role well. If you are a character in your own book, the story of your life, why wouldn’t you also ask questions of yourself?

There are many idioms and quote about life, “Life is a journey”, “Life is like a box of chocolates”, “Life is what you make it”, etc., but if anything is potent about existence, it’s that we don’t know what the future will hold. That’s a frightening thought, to consider you don’t have all the answers. Even if you know yourself inside and out, a new situations could introduce something that changes everything. Identities are fluid and dynamic, they change over time. Maybe you were sure you’d be a baseball player one day and now you’re a taxidermist. Maybe the change wasn’t so drastic. Still, whoever you are at the moment, asking the right questions can make all the difference.

Most likely we’ve all seen that really really annoying character on a show or a movie who is either really oblivious or overly insensitive, and you cringe watching them make their own problems worse. You want to scream at them and throw the remote throw the screen so they don’t make that stupid mistake. Fictional characters’ plights are meaningful because they represent us. Looking back at what we’ve done with ourselves, we see all the stupid mistakes we’ve made and feel the force of the emotional turbulence it brings. You ask, “How could they not see that?! Didn’t it occur to them?!!” However, they didn’t, just as our old selves didn’t.

Questioning everything doesn’t solve the problem. If you don’t trust anything, it makes you overly paranoid and anxious. However, the best way to deal with problems is to know what the problems are. Ask and learn. All you have to lose is your ignorance, and if you remain ignorant, how can you change for the better?

hey loser

You’re a loser because you’ve lost something (I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, if you can tell). No matter who you are, or where you’ve been, you couldn’t hold on to everything. That’s okay. Seriously. Your body is made up of cells that are constantly dying and being created. Most of your body is replaced every seven years, so who you are now is completely different from who you were seven years ago, and that’s just physically. We have a habit in our society of assuming that if you lose something, it’s because you weren’t strong enough, or smart enough. Yet, every situation is made up of millions of factors. By reducing your struggle to, “I wasn’t good enough, and that’s why they left me”, you’re lying to yourself. If you critically look at a situation, you find that nothing is clearcut.

That’s why stories are so delightful and alluring. The whole concept of ‘bronies’ shocks people; why would any adult man watch a show about magical horses meant for five year olds? Yet, why wouldn’t you be? If you know who the enemy is, you can hate them and love the perfect protagonist. What you should believe is simple, and therefore your identity is set. There is a cohesive battle to believe in and support. Then, as we grow, we find out that life isn’t so clear cut. The villain has a backstory, they had good intentions, or they were abused and didn’t get the help they needed. Those who we idolized are actual people who can be cowardly, slimy, arrogant, cruel. We come to questions like, “do intentions matter or the outcomes?” A person with kind intentions can pet a service dog, distract it from its job, and prevent it from alerting people when it’s owner is in trouble. A person with intentions to only make money for themselves can start a business that helps people get out of poverty.

I’m not a philosopher, but we exist in a world where judging other people, reducing their existence to a single factor, cannot be taken lightly. Everyone is who they are because of their experiences, whether that person did all they could or not is not something the average person has access to. Therefore, the only logical option is to respect others.

You have lost something because you are human. Whatever is gone now, it has changed you, for better or worse. Respect those experiences, they’ve made you. Yet, if things are undoubtedly going to be lost, lose something that will make you a better person. Respect others, and know that they’ve been changing as well. Some things are more clearcut than others, but people are always more than they seem.

technology is fabulous

Fear is inescapable. No matter what you do, there will always be something to be afraid of. There will always be risks to take. Even lying in your bed doing nothing entails the possibility of trouble, around 450 people die falling out of their bed in the US every year. I’m not saying this to scare you into putting up bumpers around your bed, but instead to put things in perspective. There will always be trouble in your life, some sort of high tower to climb between the rocky mountains. Pessimism is a choice; if you try being optimistic for a week and don’t like it, you can always revert back to assuming the worst will always occur.

However, if anything and everything could go wrong, that also means there are other possibilities. Pessimism tends to be more realistic in my bias opinion, but the danger of it is that it gives credence to the voice saying, “This is your limit”. A vast number of times throughout the day though, we don’t actually reach our limit. We say, “Try your best”, but we actually mean, “Give more than the minimal amount of effort needed to complete this task”. What is your limit? How do you know if you haven’t given your all? I hate the phrase, “Give 120% of your effort!” because that physically can’t be done. All you can give is 100%; the problem is that no one ever does and we convince ourselves 75% is everything.

Fear is there, a constant companion on the journey of life, and so is the possibility of actually trying. We have the tools as well! We have amazing technology that allows us to zip from point to point, from feline dental care to the alien side character’s culture in episode 73 of Star Trek: Next Generation. We have a mostly literate society that is learning to be more greedy for knowledge and truth. There’s a lot of problems, there will always be problems, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up. Today is better than yesterday, yesterday better than 10 years ago, better than 100 years ago, because today is still occurring. So try. Face the fear, go after that dream; it is better to try and live the life you want to than be a slave to what could happen if you did.

exercise videos and trying not to cry

It hurts. That’s the worst part about working out, for all of it’s benefits. I’ve known people who run for miles and miles and it’s incredible. So incredible that many times I’m tempted to try and sweep their shelves for some mystery drug. For me, working out equals psychological water torture, see how far I can go. Sports movies are boring and I don’t particularly care for them, partly because I don’t like sports, and partly because it’s so different from the real experience.  I, like any other person, greatly enjoy training montages in movies. The director adds a dramatic “You Can Do This!” musical theme, a few short clips of effort, and then the protagonist has achieved some leveled up version of themselves. It take 30 seconds, a minute tops. In real life however, we are given something else: a chance to actually change.

Life isn’t flashy as we like it to be. Who we are isn’t some big event, but an accumulation of all the little events. There isn’t one day we decide to not pursue our dreams. It’s a result. Say you want to become a master cellist; the first step to giving up is when you decide to not practice that hard piece ten times. You practice it five times instead of ten. That in itself isn’t all that important, but today you do five instead of ten, the next you do three instead of five, the next you don’t practice it at all, and then suddenly you need to play it perfectly for some concert. And you can’t. Even that doesn’t stop your dreams, but it forms a foothold. Now you’ve got it in your head you can’t play perfectly. You try and put in a lot of effort, but you’ve gotten used to giving up, and you fall back into it: that process of thought in which, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway”, even though it does, and  you quit striving for your dream. Over and over again, we have a habit of dismissing our own values. You figure, “If I’m really passionate about it, then it would mean more and I’d put more effort in”. The justification works as a good defense mechanism for guilt, but it’s fallible.

We all have proclivities to this and that, minute inklings that draw us in, but it’s not enough. You care about something you put your time and efforts into it. The more effort you put in, the more passion you get out of it. We all have relationships that have ended simply because you ‘drifted apart’. The relationship was real and held meaning; it drifted because you stopped putting in the time. For relationships, it can be a healthy process that helps people move on. But who are You? What do you want? What is your passion? If you don’t know, then what do you want to be passionate about? The bottom line is this: put in the legwork and you’ll find yourself attached in the long run.

Or maybe you do know what you want, but you can’t seem to motivate yourself to do it. You know you want to be fit, you have your goal, but you are failing anyways. To you, I say this: figure it out. Growing hurts. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. So don’t procrastinate, and seize the moment. Put in place things that will help you remember to do what you need to do. I hate exercising, I really do, but you don’t have to enjoy it. America tends to overvalue happiness, but if you make a temporary feeling the end goal, you lose out on the more valuable things. Sure, eat a piece of cake every now and then, but keep focused, you are going to be so great! You got this. You are strong.

A really long title like a panic! at the disco song

Sometimes I try to write and it’s like a massive sheep is rolling around in my brain. I try to think of the next word, but instead it’s hard to get at and it seems like there’s a blaring somewhere in there. Still, I am here, and in order to succeed at anything, you have to work at that thing. It’s a rather unfortunate fact.

Maybe I’m shouting at the atmosphere in an open field where nothing that wears clothes lives for miles, but at least it’s something to shout at the atmosphere in an open field where nothing that wears clothes lives for miles. To grasp at what is there, to fully be thankful for every moment is far better than being miserable. I guess it sounds like something you would hear some wise old character influenced heavily by Daoism say. I’m not Daoist, but it would be foolish to ignore a culture’s deeply held beliefs simply because it was different.

Would you like a thesis? Here it is: I am going to try my best today, and I think you should too. Not that a person will ever come across this, but what’s the worst thing that’s occurring directly at this moment? Statistically speaking, likely not what’s happening to you. Seas are rising, people are drowning, giving into addictions they thought they overcame, terrorists: There’s a lot out there. Yet, what is happening to you? Whatever has happened is over now, by definition. You made it! Or at least you made it through the first step of it. What will happen hasn’t happened yet, so you’re in the clear for at least a short while. ‘Worrying makes you suffer twice’, according to a clever line I took from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. The hard part is that it’s hard not to worry.

People develop anxious habits because if you think about whatever is coming up, then a part of you feels like you are getting ready for it. After the mental preparation is done however, the anxiety starts to erode the same mental fortitude you were trying to build up. If you are thinking about something, worrying about something, it’s for a reason. Maybe your struggles won’t make the news, but it obviously has made the headlines of your own life events. So ask yourself, why do you care? Remind yourself of who you are and what you want. If you don’t know either, then think about what you’ve done and what you are proud of, no matter how small it is.

Then put yourself in the grand scheme: Most likely, you are going to survive this. What if you actually did your best? No matter what factors are affecting you, tomorrow can be better. If you give up you’ll never know. So don’t give up.