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Showing posts from 2019

Happiness

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"Happiness doesn't depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude." Dale Carnegie


I'm learning how to be happy. I have seen it depicted in so many ways, but all of those never seemed to quite be the right fit for me. People all around me seem happy - seem being the operative word there - but I know happiness can oftentimes be a rarity, or at least a fleeting feeling. Is it supposed to last or be sustained? Is happiness a normal state of being? I don't really know yet. I have found happiness to be a soft smile or a smirk. Happiness for me is a deep breath in that fills my lungs followed by a big exhale. It's being in awe of the world around me for this moment of existential surrealism. It feels like warmth - like wafting aroma of freshly baked bread, the fizz of ginger ale leaping over ice cubes, a gentle breeze billowing through leaves, and the two-tone notes of starting a Netflix binge. Happiness to me is not necessarily excited, joy,…

Grace

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"Grace has been defined as the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul." William Hazzlitt



People are trying their best, most of the time. Give them grace. That applies to us as well - we deserve the grace that we give to others. If we hold that to be true then that changes the way that we interact with others. Instead of a place of hostility, judgement, and criticism, we get to respond to people with compassion, empathy, and kindness. When we slow down, take a second to breathe, and hold our tongues before responding with haste we create a chance to do something significant - give grace. It's that one moment of pause that makes all the difference. Pausing breaks up the breakneck speeds at which we communicate, or rather talk at one another. Pausing disrupts the instantaneous replies that we have formulated in our heads, it sidetracks the pending rebuttals, and it forces us to be fully present take in what someone has shared with us. Pausing forces us to be th…

Chill

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“Consistent positive self-talk is unquestionably one of the greatest gifts to one's subconscious mind.”  Edmond Mbiaka


Something amazing has happened. Something about me has changed. Something significant has occurred. The most striking part is that it's slowly happened over time, and I am just now realizing that it has. I am calm. For the first time in my life my normal state is chill. I have spent my life, so long as I can remember, nervous, slightly anxious, and constantly worried about other people; what they thought of me, how I was showing up, and their experience of me. My regular state was always slightly below a panic, heart racing, sweaty armpits, body tense. My inner dialogue was the other me telling me that I was being weird, asking why I was so awkward, questioning if I deserved to be where I was, concerned if someone would figure me out, and afraid that I was not safe. Perpetual fear is not a way to live. My moments of peace were few, and far between. Alone I have…

Useful

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"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

I am useful. I constantly worry about being useful. I wonder if people only keep me around because I am specifically useful to them. I think about all the messages I received over the years about what makes me worthwhile and what others have seemingly responded most positively to is my utility. It's an odd thing to say but the more I mull it over that's how I feel. I'm a tool to be used to solve issues. I'm a fixer. I make things better. I improve other people's lives. I say what needs to be said. I am the cure. I am a remedy. I am the mirror to reflect on. I am the prompter to ask the questions that create substantive change. I am the secret weapon. I am the one that brings you out a funk. I am the one that you turn to first. I am the one that is dependable. I am the one that drops everything to prioritize peopl…

Bystander

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"You have to figure out how you can step forward and affect your own life. I think that sense of empowerment is actually really positive, specifically for the young generation because they've been bystanders in their own lives for a while." Jennifer Yuh Nelson
The bystander effect is the social phenomenon that people are less likely to intervene when other people are around because they assume someone else will intervene, ergo no one intercedes. Oftentimes it's applied to proximate social settings but I believe it applies to a wider swath of social interaction a la social media, among other things. How many times do we see someone we're connected to post or share something odd, strange, alarming, heartbreaking, or even joyous, and think so many other people are witnessing this. Someone else will reach out, someone who knows them better will do it, or someone who is closer to them will say something. Maybe we feel awkward, embarrassed, or helpless to actually be th…

Imperfect

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"A friend is one who knows you and love you just the same." Elbert Hubbard
Our ability to recall some version of our most devastating life moments is one of the hallmarks of the human experience. The speed with which I can be transported back to all the awkwardness, embarrassment, and rejection is uncanny. I always feel like I have moved past things that have long happened, and yet all it takes is a reminder from someone in the present. I have come to realize that much of my life has been dictated by this incessant need to be perfect, to show up perfectly, to be perfect for other people. Even in my friendships perfectionism has reared its ugly head. I feel like I have to win. I have to be the best - friend who ever did live. I have to be amazing - to go above and beyond. I have to be everything, and good at it all. Why do I still feel like I am constantly trying to prove my worth to my friends? Why do I see myself still as the awkward social outcast that didn't quite fit …

Joy

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"Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices - today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it." Kevyn Aucoin

I am striving to feel, speak about, and share joy more often. In a world shrouded in darkness, doused in melancholy, and bludgeoned by critique, where is my joy? I have found myself giving voice to the gray when in reality most of my day are spent either mundane, or somewhere just north of contentment. I'm in homeostasis, an equilibrium if you will. I'm existing, and doing quite alright if not pretty well. I've become so used to articulating the moments that feel like less than without giving due process to their relational foils of happiness, joy, and peace. What's the impact? It creates a skewed perspective that is unrealistically monotone instead of bright, warm, and vibrant. I have normal…

Someone

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"My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude” Warsan Shire


Find someone, meet someone, be with someone - we live in a society that deems us incomplete lest we have someone else. I don't subscribe to that ideology. I believe in wholeness. I believe in additions not completions. I believe in co-creation not achievement. Togetherness is not the opposite of singledom. People are often "together" but distanced and isolated nonetheless. The more I move through life I have come to realize that what people want, need, and desire in others varies - drastically. For some, the quest for their one true love, their perfect match, soul mate, if you will occupies them. It seems effortless. 

For others, it's people that may not "fit" together but put in the effort to make it work. For others still it's a sort of crowd-sourcing, so that their "someone" is not their everything - it's sharing different kinds of love with …

Performance

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"Without wearing any mask we are conscious of, we have a special face for each friend."  Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 

I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I have spent the entirety of my life being "amazing." My modus operandi has long been going above and beyond, being awe-inspiring, doing the most, etc. So long as I can remember I have been performing. Maybe it's a caricature. Maybe it's a program. Maybe it's a life stoked in expectations, real, perceived, projected, and internalized that has run rampant. I have been putting on a show. I have been entertaining. I have been portraying the character that has been expected of me, or rather who I have thought I'm supposed to be. I am a person simultaneously whole and categorically broken. I am a soul betwixt and between worlds warped by social pressures, entrenched in a constant battle to be worthy, emboldened by a yearn to be enough. This strive to prove my brilliance, my value, my humanity i…

Solitary

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"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one." C.S. Lewis

Adulthood is an adventure that no one really knows how to navigate. In talking to my friends scattered all over the country and around the world, one of the consistent sentiments shared is having trouble making new friends. Making friends in adulthood is difficult but not impossible. That distinction is key. Adults are lonely. People are yearning for others who get them. Folks crave connection. No matter how closed off they might seem - it is a universal experience. A few or a lot of failed attempts does not mean we should give up where we are or on making friends in general. We have to keep trying, and try smart! 

Quite honestly, the things we learned as kids to build our friendships still applies to striving the do the same thing in adulthood. Find something you have in common and build on it. Even more so, the principles from our college orientat…