Attention

As we’re approximately three-quarters of the way through 2017, I’m already getting ahead of myself by looking back at what has happened so far in this past year.

I think that most of us can agree that 2017 has been quite an eventful year to say that least (I’m primarily referencing the United States). Even today is a noteworthy one in history, being that it’s the first time in twenty years where North America is able to witness the Solar Eclipse.

Though I refrain from individually listing events one-by-one, I will say that it’s been a huge eye-opener in many ways.

Looking in on my own personal life, I’m solely comparing 2017 to 2016 and I already see such significant differences.

This is the first time in a while where I’ve had a steady enough year that I didn’t have to put 100% focus on myself, but rather, I was able to focus on other people instead.

Last year, I had started a new job and moved into a new apartment. All of my energy was honed in on how to settle in at work and at home. I was able to be a little more selfish than usual. I was in year of grounding.

Last year, I didn’t have much time to pay attention to what was happening with the people in my life. And fortunate enough, it was a year where I didn’t really have to.

This year, now that my life is steady and I’m firmly rooted at home, at work, and even in my relationship, I can shift the attention towards the people and things in my life that actually need my full attention.

Two years ago, I had written about how one of my best friends was getting married. Well, this year, another one of my best friends is getting married and a decent amount of my time has been put aside towards making sure that my undivided attention was being placed on the events leading up to the big day.

In addition to that, I can also point out other major milestones my friends’ lives.

One friend gave birth to her first child, another friend is expecting her first child, two friends moved across the globe, another friend experienced the loss of a loved one, and the list goes on.

For me, I fell in love all over again.

It’s amazing the things that you can celebrate for others when you’re life doesn’t revolve around yourself.

It seems as though the years that I provide the least amount of time to others is when I am able to provide the most time to myself. Similarly, the years that I can provide the most amount of time to others is when I provide the least time to myself.

I’m thankful that I am finally grounded and able to be present for other people’s big moments. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to miss anything.

It’s funny how when we shift the focus away from ourselves, we’re able to witness other people’s joy, hurt, struggles, or big moments. When we take the attention off of ourselves, we’re able to give it to others. When we can’t give it to others, we need it for ourselves.

It always balances out and that’s the beauty of life. It’s one big balancing act.

The Golden Rule

Regardless of your ethnicity, your religion, the country you live in, or the language you speak, most people are familiar with the golden rule, which goes “Do unto others what you would have them do to you.” This verse is rooted from the bible, but still stands as a common law of morality across cultures. That’s because, as humans, we essentially want to be treated fairly.

Yet, why is it that this basic foundation of human nature tends to lack on a daily basis?

Wouldn’t you think that we all share the same feelings of wanting to be treated as human beings alike despite our differences?

Unfortunately, this tends to slip our minds with some people more often than others.

This past Thursday evening, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of college students from my Alma Mater, which was comprised mostly of Seniors who were graduating in only a few short months.

First, I began with introducing myself, giving them my background on how I graduated from the University five years ago, and then continued by explaining what I do for a living and how I got to this point since graduation.

After all was said and done, I gave them one piece of life advice, and it was this: Be kind to every single person you meet – Because you never know who that person is, where they came from, or how they could be a part of your life down the road.

Through the variety of experiences that I’ve had, I’ve learned that people will not always be kind or treat you fairly, but the best thing that you can do for someone is to simply show them kindness no matter the circumstance.

You never know how badly someone else could be struggling. Sometimes, we all just get too caught up in our own personal battles. Life gets hard and we all go through difficult times, but that doesn’t give anyone the excuse to treat someone poorly due to their own frustrations.

This past Friday evening, I was at a bar with my sister and our friend. At one point, we started having a conversation with the bartender, asking him what it’s like to constantly be serving people who really only care about ordering drinks, cutting loose, and getting drunk

He then began telling us a story about a guy who got upset just because he wasn’t able to order his drink from the bar since he was already seated at a table with his friends. The guy later proceeded to giving him a hard time because of this.

Immediately, I remembered what I had told those college students on Thursday evening.

If someone is treating you poorly, don’t let your first reaction be to throw it back in their face. If you do, the cycle will never end. Every tiny action has a ripple effect even if you don’t think it does. And the chain has to be broken at some point.

Be the one who starts it new and changes things.

One act of kindness will lead to another, which leads to another, which will ultimately make for a much better world down the road.

Long Strides

For someone who was, and still is, as impatient as me, I often find myself waiting. I find myself waiting for things to happen as if I already know something will happen soon. It’s like I’m always anticipating the next move.

But the thing about me is that sometimes, I don’t wait long enough. I wait just long enough until I can’t wait any longer and then I make my move. The irony is that my move usually happens just before a move is made by some other force of nature. It’s like I’m taking a half-step too soon or coming in a beat too early.

And that is my biggest downfall.

I wait, but speak to soon. I wait, but act too soon. I wait, but react too soon. I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I don’t, then nothing will happen.

I think it’s because I don’t trust that the stars will align as they rightfully should. But, as I have learned in the past, the stars have never let me down.

The biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life were due to my own impatience. My own pre-emptive actions. My unwillingness to wait just a little longer for a breakthrough. But lo and behold, that breakthrough always happen. I just end up taking a step forward and two steps back in the process.

When I look back at the past five years since I’ve graduated college, I feel as though I’ve come a long way, but still haven’t gone very far. And I know that I still have a long way to go, but that’s where my impatience kicks in. And I know that this continuous solo dance of one step forward and two steps back will just tire me in the long run.

One of my greatest fears is not fulfilling myself with the life that I dream of. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Actually, I know that I’m not alone in that.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” It seems like such a silly thing to be afraid of. But if you think about it, it really is a bit scary and slightly overwhelming to think that we are actually capable of the things that we set our mind to. It all just depends on our willingness to do what it takes to get there.

For me, I always thought that my preemptive actions were shortcuts, but they’re really detours. And the times where I have found the most peace and clarity was when I was able to really sit and think about what I wanted in life. Though I’m still figuring it out, the picture is much clearer now. I’ve learned that by taking fewer short quick steps, I’ve been able to take longer strides.

Refresh

I was introduced to a new friend at church this past Sunday who was visiting from another country. I learned that it was his first time visiting New York City – and the United States in general – so I ended up giving him a mini tour. Yesterday, we walked throughout the streets of Lower Manhattan, trekking from the Meatpacking District to Union Square.

It was one of those unexpected, special New York City nights.

Whenever I encounter someone who is visiting New York City for the first time, I’m elated at the chance of being able to show them how spectacular I think this city it. Because for me, it truly is a city that I am constantly in awe of.

After living here for nearly four years, I’m still discovering new people and new places every single day.

I recently moved to a new apartment outside of Manhattan nearly three weeks ago. It’s my first time living in a new borough and at first, I was slightly devastated to not be able to say, “I live in Manhattan.”

After guiding my new friend throughout Lower Manhattan, I realized how refreshing it is to look at New York City through a different lens; through someone else’s eyes.

Sometimes, if you’ve been in the same place for long enough, you become jaded, desensitized, and un-phased by your surroundings. It often happens to people in a city as large and ever-changing as New York.

New Yorkers are somewhat known for their ability to block out the loud noises, ignore the distractions, and go about their daily lives almost as if they never blinked; as if their eyes were never even open to begin with.

Similar to a young child who is excited about learning something new, it often feels that way for me when I’m talking about New York. I’m overjoyed for someone to experience something the same way I’ve experienced it – in awe.

The thing about New York City is that your experience is completely dependent on how you want to experience it. You can choose to see everything or choose to see nothing. The same goes for your life. And for me, I want to see it all.

What Matters Most

I write a lot about growing up. That’s because ever since I was little, I’ve always been in such a rush to be older. I remember following my sister and her friends around when I was a kid and I just couldn’t wait to be old enough to hang out with them. Now that I’m older, it’s funny how it works in reverse. As you get older, you want to gain all those years back that you wanted to skip ahead to.

I spend a lot of my time around people of different age groups and it always fascinates me to talk to them about their experiences and hear their opinions on life. And regardless of age, everyone always experiences things at different stages of their lives. Some of us are wise beyond our years and some of us continue to resist maturity.

Now that I am where I am, I’d finally like to slow down and take advantage of the time that I have while I have it.

When you’re younger, it seems like things take so much longer to happen – Getting your license, being able to legally drink, graduating college, finding a job, etc. But once you’ve crossed all of those things off your list, there’s a realization that you start running out of things that you have to wait for in order to happen.

What I’ve learned throughout my twenties so far is that I’m much more capable of distinguishing between the things are a big deal and the things that are not. I’m able to recognize what really matters in life and what I shouldn’t get so worked up about.

After I turned 25, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a significant shift there was in my mindset. After losing love, losing jobs, losing friends, I’m less upset about the losses and more grateful for the gains and the people who are still sticking by my side. I’m realizing that my family is one of the most important of things in my life. I’m realizing that you shouldn’t fight so hard for people who won’t fight for you. I’m realizing that the time you are given is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted on people or things that do not fill you up with joy.

Recently, I keep thinking back to the time when I was in the hospital at the age of 20 and diagnosed with Chrohn’s Disease due to my own self-induced stress. I look back and wonder how and why I allowed myself to get stressed over things that I can hardly even remember to this day.

There’s a certain peace that comes with age and maturity that I’ve truly come to appreciate – And that peace lies within knowing yourself and what you want out of your life. I can now say with full honesty that I’m discovering the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to lead. I thank God for that and I thank the people who are closest to me for supporting all of the decisions I have made leading up to this day.

My Comeback (Part 2)

As an extension to my last post, titled the “My Comeback“, I’m giving some insight as to what I’ve been noticing since it was published. Specifically, I wanted to share some of the reactions that I’ve been receiving after publicizing my personal experiences.

I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve began exposing this kind of information about my life – the intimate details of my breakup, the loss of my job, the overall confusion in my life – people have felt the need to reach out and say something to me, whether it be directly or indirectly.

I’ve been receiving feedback, comments, and even having people share their own personal struggles. And of course, it is not my business or place to expand on the details of other people’s lives.

But, I would like to say that I appreciate and even applaud those of you who have felt compelled to share your experiences with me. I’m glad that I am able to motivate people to react, reflect, and relate to what I am going through.

The beauty of writing is that you are connecting with your audience in an extremely personal way. Knowing that I have reached people in a way that makes them feel like they are not alone is exactly what I aim for in my writing. And as a writer, that’s when I have done my job.

And if you are not necessarily able to personally relate to my experiences, then that’s okay too. Because my writing is not out in the open in order for people to feel sympathy for me. It’s to try to get people to think in a different way; For people to understand that everyone is going through something difficult even if it doesn’t appear so.

And with that being said, I think that it makes my comeback a little more worth fighting for.

The Motivation of Love

Nothing motivates a person more than love.

When I look at the great men and women in literature, art, music, etc., I notice one defining commonality between all of them – And that is the inspiration of a lost or found love. When I think back to my personal experiences, I recall all of the profound moments in my life; the milestones; the life-changing moves that I have made to become who I am today. And similarly, these moments happened in the midst of the beginning or the end of a romantic relationship.

Although it may work in different ways for some people, love significantly changes you. It leaves a mark on your soul to the point where you will be forever different from that moment on. Something happens inside; something that can make or break you.

When I look at my friends’ relationships and how it has changed them, I’m taken back by how much of an impact one person can make on your entire life.

Then, when I look at myself and I realize how much of an impression the relationships from my past have made on me.

As I am experiencing yet another failed relationship, I am able to see the things that I have done in reaction to this heartbreak. Though there were many times of weakness, I also notice the strength I have found to take that pain and turn it into something else, something great like writing, running, friendships, work, etc.

It’s amazing how much one person can influence your life. In the same light, it’s terrifying how strong of a hold that love can have on you; to make you do things that you never thought you were capable of.

I feel the changes happening once again in my life and I look forward to seeing how this shapes my future self.

Seeing how far I have come now, I can only hope that I become a better version of myself. Maybe (hopefully) one day, I’ll end up with the person that completes me after I have already completed myself. Maybe that’s what all this heart break is for; to prepare us for the big one – that big love.

And so, I’d like to thank my lost loves for shaping the person I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things I have accomplished. I wouldn’t have been able to grow.

Return from the Philippines

I arrived home from my trip to the Philippines late Thursday night. To say that this trip was amazing is the understatement of the year. This trip was necessary. It was emotional, joyous, and difficult. It was worth every penny spent. I couldn’t even say that you could truly put a price on experiences like these. I want to begin my recap, but I honestly don’t even know where to start. I haven’t even fully re-adjusted to my life back home to be able to discuss how much this trip meant to me. But, since I’ve caught a bit of the writing bug on this late Sunday night, I can’t let it pass, so here I go:

On the first day of our arrival in the Philippines, my parents, sister and I were greeted by a mass of our relatives. I had never met my Dad’s side of the family in-person before, but it felt like I’ve known them my entire life. We had lunch together that day and there was no denying that this family was my blood. Everyone was happy, with large smiles on their face to be able to share this first meal with us. That day, I still couldn’t believe that I was physically there.

Throughout the duration of our trip, we traveled to several places; Tagaytay, Batangas, Taytay Rizal, Zambales. We saw many different parts of the Philippines, ate an extraordinary amount of food, did a lot of shopping, and bonded as a family. I find it impossible to fully explain every detail of my trip in this short blog post, but I can say that in the mere two weeks that I was there, I was able to discover a whole new part of my family and myself.

The thing that I love the most about travel is being able to see a side of yourself in a place that you’ve never been before; being faced with unfamiliar situations is a significant part of life. It helps you realize things you never knew before. It helps you learn. It helps you grow.

Now that I’m back home, I’m honestly heartbroken, sad, and missing the time spent with my family. I’m the opposite of homesick. I want to be there instead of here. I’ve realized many things upon returning back from my trip and the main thing is that my family is the most important thing in my life.

Now that I’m back home, I’m realizing that I’m not okay with my life here. I’m not fulfilled, not even content. The only thing that has seemed to bring me true happiness recently is being with my family and enjoying their company. To feel love that powerful scares me. It makes me wonder if I can ever find that kind of love anywhere else in life.

I went home by myself because I have to go back to work on Monday. My parents and sister stayed in the Philippines for an extra week. Being apart from my family while they are still there makes me feel like a piece of me is missing. I don’t even want to dare think of how my life would be without them, but I do and just being separated from them hurts.

I think that throughout my entire life, I’d been looking for a kind of love like this; unconditional love. Aside from family and God, I’m scared that I will never find someone else to love me the way my family does. I don’t think I could even love myself the way my family does. Being back home just reminds me of that.

The trip has enlightened me a great deal. I know they say you can’t find someone to love you until you truly love yourself and I think that was the problem all along for me.

I’m thankful for this trip. I hope to go back to the Philippines soon. But until then, I’m going to keep working on myself.

Small Changes

We often tend to only focus on the changes that happen within our own lives. What we don’t realize is that the changes that happen in the lives of others affect us too – especially those who are a part of our daily lives.

I’ve touched upon the subject of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable (https://lindseylazarte.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/getting-comfortable-with-being-uncomfortable/) . Change is never an easy process. We have to adjust and readjust until we feel normal again.

Ever since I moved to the Columbus Circle area from Harlem, I’ve had to make many adjustments; getting used to a different subway line, going to a different supermarket, running in a different location. After about a month, I finally had everything down pact. I found myself getting familiar with the cashier at the CVS around the corner from my apartment and recognizing people who live on my street. My life felt balanced again. And despite the chaos of our wildly opposite schedules, my roommates and I have even developed a weekly routine of going to our favorite local bar several times a week. We’ve formed relationships with our bartenders and have actually become quite good friends with them.

Then, something strange happened yesterday.

After making a slight alteration to our normal routine of going straight to our favorite bar, my roommate and I deviated from the plan and decided to stop somewhere else first. It was exciting to do something different, but it was only a matter of time before we decided to leave and go to our regular bar.

Once we arrived, we found two available seats and made ourselves right at home. We said hello to our Bartender-friend, who we always talk to and I noticed that the other one wasn’t there. I waited until it was brought into conversation and when it was finally mentioned, I learned that he no longer works there.

Here comes the strange part…

I was legitimately upset. I found myself becoming very uncomfortable at the thought of getting used to a new person. And then it dawned on me; this actually affected my life.

This morning as I was walking to work, I came to realize that this small change is only a freckle in my life, but for him it was a complete change in lifestyle.

It’s hard to think about how much one person is currently going through. We really only stop to think about how it affects us. Regardless, these changes that affect our lives also affect the people around us. Even something as small as getting used to a new bartender…

The Science of Success

It may be ridiculous to say, but I’ve been inspired by a book that I haven’t even read yet. I’ve been intending on reading “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell ever since I first picked it up at the Barnes & Noble store where I worked while I was in college.

When I read the back of the book, I was instantly fascinated and intrigued to learn about the science of success. Is there a methodology? A pattern? Or just pure dumb luck and timing? Without ever having read the book, I can only hope that my theories align with that of Malcolm Gladwell’s.

Based on personal experience, I can proclaim the theory that the science of success is based on a compilation of factors that include Methodology, Pattern, and timing. Here is why:

Below, I provide you with a breakdown of the series of events that caused the interpretation of my own success.

I.) Methodology –

I’m a firm believer in destiny. However, I also believe that destiny is determined by our actions and the decisions that we make on a daily basis. Essentially, we are in control of our own destiny. Similar to the movie, “Back to the Future”, I think that alternate lives can be created depending solely on a single choice or occurrence. Our approach to the methodology in our daily lives such as the courses that we take in college going all the way back to our decision between playing a sport or playing an instrument determines the kind of life we’ll lead. Of course, this is not set in stone, but it sure does map out some sort of direction.

In all honesty, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I first entered college. I didn’t even figure it out until the very end of my sophomore year, in which case, I still had to apply to get into my major.

My methodology?

First, I asked myself, “What do I like?”

What do I care enough about to the point where I’d voluntarily sit through numerous days of hour long classes and actually enjoy it? What have I been doing with my life up until this day?

At first, my answers seemed silly to me.

It was simple. I liked to run. I liked to write. I liked showcasing my love for these things. I wanted to be in an environment that supported my love for these things.

I chose Exercise Science, concentrated in Sport Management, because I could be in a field where I was able to be involved in the realm of Sports and Exercise, without actively participating as an athlete. I wanted to be behind the scenes.

Entering my Senior year, I knew that I was required to apply for an internship in order to graduate.

Similar to when I first entered college, I had no idea where I wanted to intern when I reached my Senior year of college. I didn’t even find an internship until after the deadline had already passed. Fortunately, thanks to good timing (which I’ll discuss in my third point) I found one that suited me perfectly.

Pattern, though, was the other factor that aided me a great deal towards landing the job that I currently have job.

II.) Pattern –

Pattern, or routine, is necessary in ensuring that you are on the right track. After all, practice makes perfect (as long as your practicing correctly)

In many previous posts, I’ve discussed how time management and the ability to balance the many areas of my life was a very significant skill set that I learned. Being able to maintain a daily pattern in my schedule helped me stay focused.

I juggled between part-time work, full-time school, a boyfriend, a social life, and relaxation time all throughout college. Figuring out a way to incorporate all of these things into my life without completely losing my mind wasn’t an easy task. Fortunately, I was able to develop a routine and stick to it.

I devoted certain hours of the day and certain days to schoolwork, my part-time job, spending time with my boyfriend, my friends, and myself.

Once that foundation was established, it was easy for me to go about my days without being stressed out all the time.

It’s imperative that one establishes some basis of routine or structure. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for spontaneity and randomness, however, spontaneity and randomness in excess leads to chaos. And chaos leads to destruction. We need to be in control of our lives, but still be open to the idea that life throws curveballs at us.

Some like to call those curveballs “conflicts” or “struggles”, but I like to call them life lessons. And we need to take those life lessons and learn from them in order to grow. Life is all about timing. Everything happens in our lives as it should. As the saying goes, “God never gives us more than we can handle” (or something along those lines)

Anyways, this brings me to my third and last point, timing.

III.) Timing –

Have you ever been somewhere at exactly the right place or time? Well, this happens to me a lot.

My family and friends have always told me that I’m a lucky person. I always tend to find money on the ground, run into some sort of wild event, or win things.

Instead, I’d say that I just have really good timing.

There have been many times where extremely unfortunate occurrences have happened to me. In High School, I suffered a serious eye injury while playing soccer just weeks before attending Junior Prom. In college, I caught Mono and Strep Throat in the same year and then the following year, was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I partied my way into Academic Warning during the first semester of transferring to Rutgers University from Montclair University. Somehow, I miraculously overcame all of these obstacles and managed to avoid major life events that could have collided with these unfortunate circumstances.

My eye was fully healed in less than the time predicted by my Doctor and I was able to attend Junior Prom. I caught Mono and Strep Throat in between the Fall and Spring Semester, in which I didn’t have to miss any classes. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease during the semester prior to my Senior Year, in which I again didn’t have to miss any classes. I bounced back from Academic Warning the following semester and was able to graduate college with a 3.0 GPA.

I can label all of these things as pure dumb luck, but I won’t.

It was a combined effort of good timing and willpower.

All of the tragic events that have happened to me happened during the best timing and I’m eternally grateful for that.

This series of ups and downs throughout my college career were the building blocks for the type of future that I was going to have. More importantly, how I reacted to this series of ups and downs determined my success.

In life, we must learn that endless waves of good and bad happen to us. Our methodology of approach, daily patterns, and timing all contribute to our direction. Ultimately, the science of success is in our hands. We have to play the hand that we are dealt, whether it be good or bad.