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.

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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.

A Year in a Life

Not everyone is big on birthdays. Some people like to go all out, invite a hundred friends, drink until they can’t remember anything, and celebrate like it’s their last.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Frankly, I used to do the same. But on the flip side of things, when it comes down acknowledging to yourself that another year of life has passed, I tend to also enjoy being alone to really think about what I’ve accomplished in that past year of life.

My birthday isn’t for another 3 days, but this exact day last year in particular was of extreme significance to me.

A year ago today was one of my biggest failures to-date. I’d say that it was a turning point in my life. (Certainly not my last and most certainly one of many to come in the future, or so I hope.)

A year ago, I was let go from a job for the first time in my life. I never thought I’d have to experience that. At the moment, it really defined me and I’m grateful for it.

After that failure, the things that I thought about myself could have been the end of me, it could have been the end of my future successes.

But I’m glad that it wasn’t.

Failure is a funny thing. Depending on how you receive it, it can define you for the rest of your life. It can throw you off course, shape your perception of yourself, it can bury you. But you don’t have to let it.

Failure and rejection makes you feel like you’re not good enough, like you’re not worthy. But at the same time, it can empower you. It can make you strive to be better and you can come back ten times stronger after accepting and overcoming that failure.

No matter how big or small the situation, whether it’s a failure in school, in a relationship, at a job, an apartment or house you were trying to get, whatever it may be, you’ll always gain something out of losing.

I never thought I’d end up where I am now. Had I rolled over and called it quits, I’d probably be in a much different place. A much unhappier place.

You may not recognize an opportunity when it’s actually happening, but you will. I promise you will. Because something good always happens amidst failure. You just have to push through the bad until you get there.

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.

Inevitability

Inevitable; A word that can bring either a positive or negative connotation depending on the context. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “inevitable” is an adjective defined as “incapable of being avoided or evaded (i.e., an inevitable outcome)”

The two ways [positive or negative] that a situation can be viewed as inevitable are the following:

1.) In the sense that we are destined
2.) In the sense that we are doomed

If you are typically a person that is described as seeing the glass half-full, then you would most likely go with the perspective that the outcome of a situation was destined to happen; that there are greater forces beyond our control that holds our fate. This may be due to the belief in God or many Gods, astrology, superstition, or a variety of other reasons. Regardless, people who feel that we are destined are generally optimists.

For example, let’s say a person is unfortunately diagnosed with a chronic illness. If they believe in destiny, then they will see a silver lining; a greater picture. They will feel that this was meant to happen for a reason and they will be more comfortable with the truth.

On the other hand, if you are typically a person that is described as seeing the glass half-empty, then you would most likely go with the perspective that the outcome of a situation was because we were doomed; that there is no hope and that negative things were bound to happen as if we were the victim. Similarly, this may be due to a variety of reasons as well. These people who feel victimized by negative circumstances are generally pessimists.

Now, let’s take that same situation where a person is unfortunately diagnosed with a chronic illness. If they believe that they were doomed, they will have a more difficult time being comfortable with the truth.

The truth is this: Unfavorable things are inevitable. We cannot predict them. It’s a part of life. In the simplest of phrases, “shit happens”.

But the part that matters, that part that measures our quality of life and overall mental state, is the way in which we deal with the bad situations, the misfortunes, the hardships that we encounter. The next steps after any situation are within our control. What we make of the cards that we are dealt paves a path for the direction that the situation is heading towards.

If we choose to suffer, then we will suffer. If we choose to rise above, then we will become stronger.

Life gets hard, but it’s important to remember that perspective is everything. You may not be able to foresee or control the inevitable things, but you are able to react in a way that can turn a bad situation into a good situation.