Sometimes I feel as though I’ve heard it all before. I’ve listened to news stories day in and day out. I know people experience pain and suffering and I think, “wow. that really sucks” or “I’m so lucky to live where I do”. However, I don’t often let it sink in. I wish I could, but it is partially being desensitized and partially not wanting to let the power of these stories sink in because once I start sharing their pain, I have no valid excuse to not help. Unfortunately, I can be lazy, selfish, and brutish at times so I avoid the humbling and humanizing experience of sharing in someones suffering.
Occasionally, I allow something to pass by the walls I’ve built, and allow myself to feel some of the pain and share in the discomfort of someone else (compassion can hit you like a brick sometimes). So I’m sharing this story here because it, like so many stories, it needs to continue to be told. There is untold suffering in this world. I think they are all equally in need of sharing, for now I’ll just share this and hope it allows for compassion, and inspiration. I’m going to try to stop thinking, “yea, yea, yea I’ve heard it all before”, let my guard down more often—it might just bring me a little closer to my humanity.
Parents Lose Their Daughter And Their Life Savings To Opioids
Take a listen, let your guard down.
I don’t often use sidewalks.
Especially if they are inefficient.
Sometimes I feel like that
is what distinguishes me the most from those around me.
I feel constant pressure. Pressure to do something of value in my life. There are so many things I want to do, places I want to see, experiences I want to have. There is this side of me that longs for adventure, a side that wants to say screw it all and just live in a van in a beautiful place I want to live like the glamorized Instagram photos that evoke such wanderlust.
Then there is the other side. The side of me that says, if you do that you will truly never be able to travel, do something valuable live up to your potential. If you stick to your well-paying job, with its nice benefits you will have the opportunity to be financially secure, buy a house, retire. This side of me values the logistical long-term. It values living conservatively, believing the stories that I’ve inherited from my family. It’s painful to constantly let that side win. However, it is where I am at right now.
The reality is that my life falls somewhere in between the two extremes I feel I’m living. My job is good, I have trust from the people I work with to get my job done. It pays well and there are some parts I enjoy. I have the opportunity to take long weekends and go travel…but I often don’t. My income is decent and I am likely able to save more than most of my peers are probably able to. So why can’t I find contentment? Why do I feel such tension inside?
So I’ll continue, for now, to hold my breath. To learn to lean into the unknown of my future and try to live fully in the present. Making the most out of every second that I have where I am. I know changes will come. They always do, and when they do, I’m lucky enough to be ready for them, to have supports in place. But let me be clear…It doesn’t feel easy, it feels really difficult, really frustrating, and really challenging. Oh, and don’t worry, I live with the guilt of knowing these are all first-world problems as well. If I had a glass, I’d raise it to patience and perseverance then finish it all in the hopes of feeling free of some of this tension.
Do you ever want something, only to find out it is not what you though it was? That can be a really painful awakening. I am often unsure about want. Is it a yearning for something that is actually going to be valuable for me? Is it somethings that will bring long term joy, or short term pleasure?
I have recently lost two opportunities that I really wanted. Both were jobs working in the outdoor recreation industry that I thought would be good fits for me. The first opportunity was lost because the job was not offered to me. The second was much more painful. It was a position at an organization I really valued and cared about. This opportunity I had to turn down. It was a faith based organization, and I do not subscribe to their particular paradigms of the world. As a result I had to turn down the position because of scrutiny over my own way of living. It is painful to keep hitting roadblocks, painful to feel rejected, and painful to feel unaccepted.
I turn to this song today to remind me of the things I truly want in life: the way I want to live, the way I want to speak, share, and love. Remember, no matter your faults, short-comings, pains, baggage, fear, past, or present—you are loved, wanted, and cared for.
Today I’m learning to fail. A potential opportunity didn’t fall through. Although I don’t know the exact details of why, I do know it was partially because of me. I think there are few pieces to the puzzle of emotion I have to work though when I find myself having failed. The first is sadness, a confirmation of my own insecurities and deep-seated beliefs that I may not be good enough leaves me feeling sad. The second is frustration, this most likely stems from the selfish want to have things work out the way I had hoped they would. Lastly, I think there is some shame involved. Having to share with individuals that I was unsuccessful is always hard and even if they are trying to be supportive, it can sometimes just make it harder.
Learning to fail has to be one of the critical pieces to success. Without failure it is hard to learn, hard to empathize with others, impossible to know the feeling of achievement. I know that I’m not alone in my pain and frustration. I know that there is no true shame and that it is simply my insecurities staring back at me. I know the frustration will pass and more opportunities will come. I hope to continue to change my failure paradigm, by working towards viewing failure as an opportunity for growth instead of a dead-end.
I didn’t write anything yesterday because I wanted to spend all the time I had with my significant other…I mean it was Valentines day after all. Neither of us are big gift givers, nor do we even really enjoy valentines day all that much. However, if you push through all the cheesy love and romantic strings that get attached, I think there is some validity. I think we should absolutely take time and set it aside to remind our loved ones just how much they are loved. There really is not much more important in this world than reminding one another how much we are loved.
So today is the day after all of that. The roses are starting their wilting process, the chocolates are sitting there tempting you, and you’re back at the daily grind. My question is—should they be? I think it should be our responsibility to one another to make a habit of setting aside time to remind each other how much we care. I’m sure this seems obvious to many of you as your probably thinking, “uh yea, of course I should show my love for people more than once a year”. I think so too, but do we? How intentional are you about setting aside time to share with one another? When was the last time you wrote a love letter? Today, I challenge you to think about what small things you could do for someone in your life to let them know you care. Then do it, do it once a month, once a week, do it every day. Lets be more intentional about sharing our adoration for the people we are about.
Fat Tuesday. A day for doughnuts and other tasty foods—among other things depending on what celebrations are happening. Mardi Gras is the result of a Christian tradition of eating well and celebrating before fasting during the Lenten season (note I am not a theologian, I speak from personal experience and what little I gleamed from growing up in a rather religious family). I’m not sure how many of you have Christian backgrounds, but at least in the Lutheran church I was raised in, lent was a time for reflection, for giving up something that was a vice for you, or adding something you felt would bring value to your life. As you party today, consider doing the same thing.
This is not a religious challenge in anyway, but why not use their calendar as an opportunity to improve your life. Lent is frequently considered to last for 40 days. So think about it…What you could do in 40 days that could change your life? What could you do in 40 days that could change someone else’s life. There are always reasons not to do something, why not use this as a reason to do something that will add value, or detract from the negative aspects of your life. While your thinking about it, grab a dough nut, and enjoy, because life is short and although as humans we strive for improvement, we need moderation in all things. So enjoy the day, savor the flavor and grab a bull by its horns…or on second thought, maybe not that last one.
K.I.T—-a classic yearbook sign off. Maybe not as great as “H.A.G.S” or the classic “I just signed your crack” right in the crease, but still a great one. I was reflecting today on the value of relationship maintenance. I reached out to a friend who I hadn’t heard from in a while and had a really valuable, honest, and vulnerable conversation. It’s one of those conversations that made me remember why I’m friends with that person in the first place.
The reality is that it is really difficult to make this happen on a regular basis. Maintaining friendships, especially long distance is seemingly impossible. Trying to keep updated on all the people you care about is tough. I am certainly not great, or even good at this, but here are a few ideas that have been successful for me while pursuing the ever illusive well-maintained long distance friendship.
- Make reaching out a habit: Have a day of the week that you reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. I like to make mine Monday since it feels like most of these conversations pick me up, and Mondays are always rough.
- Rotate though a list: I keep a small list of people I want to stay in touch with. Although it certainly could be much longer, I find that there are people who naturally make the list and those who don’t. I think this is normal and not necessarily a reflection on you, or someone else. We are all drawn to different types of people and should be allowed to pursue the relationships we want to pursue free of guilt.
- Make phone calls or text on your commute: Calling works best if you drive solo (and have hands free devices of course), but if you walk, bike, or even ride public transportation it is still possible and it is a great way to fill what is often unproductive time.
- It’s OK to keep it short: Sometimes my conversations are very simple and go like this:
- Me: Hey it’s been a while. How are you? Any new important life updates?
- Human Friend: Hey its great to hear from you (blah blah blah answers to prior questions) How have you been?
- Me: Oh Blah Blah Blah Blah stuff is like this and life and stuff.
- Human Friend: Oh cool, sounds great…uhhh
- Me: Yea, well I’ve gotta run but I just wanted to do a quick check in with you because I care about you and was thinking about you!
- Human Friend: Oh alright, well good talking to you.
- Me: Yea, I’ll call again sometime when I have a few more minutes. Take care.
- Human Friend: Yea, you too, bye!
- Little, short reminders of friendship can also be great: Don’t shy away from small emotional encouragement, a quick text that says “Hey your awesome!”, or “I hope your day is kicking butt”, or whatever you might say to encourage your friend are helpful and important. Inside jokes and reminders of good times are great too! Knowing whats going on in each others lives is great, but continuing to be a friend, even if you haven’t stalked their social media enough to know they got a new job might mean even more.
These are things I wish I could do better as I lament many lost friendships over the years, but I am truly happy for the ones that I have kept and maintained. Having strong relationships is one of the most valuable and enriching things in our lives, so I’m trying to make it more of a habit. I’m trying to commit to working on relationships, and not allow them to become passive. If anyone else has suggestions that work really well for them, I’d love to hear them! K.I.T friends!
I recently finished reading the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” written by psychologist Angela Duckworth (See her TED Talk). In the book Angela delves into the concept of grit and ways to be a gritty person. As I’ve been reflecting on the read, I realized just how many aspects of my life are touched by my ability to be gritty and choose to persevere over giving in and giving up.
Recently I have been faced with a potential job change. I have been offered a job working in experiential education which is something I am extremely passionate about. The downside is dollar signs $$. I would be practically cutting my pay scale in half. When reflecting on grit and the ways that it influences this decision, I realized that it really is a matter of grittiness. If I stick to the things I value and love (experiential education & challenging individuals to grow and change) I will have to give up comfort and security. This means I will have to improve and work to build my grit in order to persevere through that discomfort and fear.
“To be gritty is to resist complacency.”
If that line doesn’t hit home, I don’t know what does. As I ponder my lush desk job with its mildly comfortable paycheck, I realize that I don’t do much growing here. My job does not push me to be better, it doesn’t inspire or light my passions. Some of that is my own doing, but some of it is simply the position. Resisting complacency means putting myself in a state of fear and discomfort. I think that is the only way we grow.
Grit takes courage
Love Takes courage
Kindness takes courage
Integrity takes courage
Truth takes courage
Empathy takes courage
Compassion takes courage
Courage requires fear
If these are virtues I strive to live with, I suppose my decision is made. I must live with some fear in order to grow my courage, and ultimately grow in the virtues I value. There is no growth without discomfort.
The Grand Necessity is primarily a place to explore working towards a life that is simpler, more valuable, and more enjoyable. We are all living in a world that so often leaves us stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy. I hope this site becomes a central location of useful tools and strategies to help determine what is most valuable in our lives; amplifying the things we value and diminishing the things that strain us. Feel free to explore these pages and piece together the things that will benefit you, take with you what you need and leave the rest.