#TBT to Waging War Against Noise.
Check In: I’ve since gone back to my regular use of technology. I do however try hard to start my mornings off quietly. Perhaps its time to try this again and see the outcome. I did notice higher productivity last time! 🙂
When a very dear friend of mine came back to the States in the summer from her two-year journey with the Peace Corp one of the things she found interesting was the use of multiple devices at once. She said something along the lines of “I don’t really get it, I mean, people have their computer in front of them where they are doing work, their phone to the right beeping all the time with new texts, and a tablet to the left playing a show or something.” While I laughed along with her commenting how silly it was, I noticed that my computer was in fact in front of me, while I was on the phone with her, and my IPad was streaming my latest Netflix obsession. To be honest, I very briefly considered how hypocritical I was being in the moment and then proceeded to forget about all…
Picture this…You’re around 10 years old. You wake up early to get ready for school. Getting dressed this morning is painful because last night there was a lot of snow fall. You already ran downstairs to ask mom if maybe, just maybe, they canceled school…but they didn’t. So you begrudgingly pull on your pants and sweatshirt, brush your teeth, half-heartedly comb your hair and head back into the kitchen to eat cereal your stomach doesn’t want because its full of sorrow.
Your mom, with a sneaky smile on her face, holds out a cup of hot cocoa and asks you “Why are you getting ready for school when there’s a SNOW DAY?!!!!” It takes you a moment to realize that mom has tricked you AGAIN!! Every year, every snow day she put on her oscar aware winning act convincing you that yours had been the only district not to get the snow day, and you fell for it, and you couldn’t be happier. You jump around yelling, “SNOW DAY!!” and instantly put on your pjs. You grab the hot chocolate and curl up on the couch under an oversized comforter and turn on the tv. This is your right as a mitten state dweller, to get at least one snow day in the year. And here it is.
Now, fast forward to today. You’re an adult and work for a private organization. Last night a lot of snow fell making the roads pretty awful to drive on. Unfortunately, you do not live in the part of the state where so much snow fell that businesses shut down or requested everyone work from home for safety reasons. So you wake up early, get ready, shovel out your car, freeze your hands off because your mother is no longer there velcroing gloves to your coat since you lose them every season, and turn your car on to heat up. And there it is. That sad realization. The wonderful seasonal expectation that was your right as a child has been taken away. Snow Days are no longer fun. Snow Days are horrible and this makes you terribly sad.
So today on this snow day, as I try to make it out of my driveway and I drive slowly into work leaving extra early to give myself plenty of time. I will take with me some hot chocolate and sip it as I remember how fun it was when I was a child, smile as I see kids playing in the snow, and I will consider for a split second a career in teaching.
Every birthday inspires me to look back on my past and think about what I have learned. This year, after turning 26, I discovered the following:
There are always two sides to every story– Once upon a time adults would tell you that things were the way that they were because they said so. There was only one side, one right or wrong choice. Black and white, plain and simple. Yet I’ve come to understand the world as one large mix of gray. With every choice there are consequences. While it is easy to see things as one sided, a more complete understanding of the life I live includes considering multiple perspectives regardless of how difficult it might be.
Stop lying to yourself– I’ve begun to see that it is incredibly easy to lie to yourself. In some instances this can be a very powerful tool, and the reason that many people have developed such a particularly great ability to lie to themselves is self-preservation. For example when in a fitting room and trying not to feel completely terrible about yourself, its perfectly ok, in my opinion, to lie to yourself and say that something MUST be wrong with the mirrors in this place! Yet this amazing ability to help ourselves get through things by convincing ourselves of white lies also leads to this incredible ability to ignore larger issues. I’ve learned that if I want to change anything about myself the first step is to hold myself responsible and to continuously work on not lying to myself.
If everyone likes you, you’re likely to not like yourself very much– This was another piece of wisdom imparted to me by my sister. She said this to me after teenage me showed up at home sad about someone being mad at me or whatever the situation was. This isn’t to say that you should take full reign and be an evil, awful person to everyone around you because the opposite also rings true too; if Everyone HATES you, then it’s not them it’s you. Somewhere in the middle of these two mantras lies the sweet spot. Trying to please everyone around you is impossible. People are fussy creatures in general and more often than not a bad mood of theirs has nothing to do with you. If you keep trying to please people around you, you will never develop your own opinions and style. Ultimately this will lead to you waking up with morals and beliefs you never chose and a deep seeded misunderstanding and hatred of who you are.
Consistency=Success. It doesn’t matter how incredibly amazing you are for one day. If you can’t sustain thatnew energy and motivation you will never see success. Part of being consistent also includes being realistic about how to work small changes into your daily life. For example, you can shoot for the moon and work for 20+ hours one day in an attempt to be the most amazing employee every. However, if the next day you come in late to work as a result of being tired and only put in 5 good hours of work then you have completely undone your magnificent lean in moment.
You will never have all of the stuff you want. Regardless of how wealthy you become, if you look hard enough you will always find some material object that you want. You will never have enough so just accept it and then decide that material things don’t matter. That $7 a day coffee drink is not worth feeling anxiety at the end of the month because you’re not sure if you can cover rent. Buying those new shoes you know you won’t ever wear just because they are cute and you have found some fool of a friend to agree with you that you should get them is not a good idea. Think simple, think less is more and you will find happiness.
You are never too old to meet new friends.This past year I have been going pretty regularly to a salsa dance studio. This experience has taught me that you are never too old to make new friends. As new people have joined the dance studio, I have met so many wonderful people, many of whom are some of my closest friends. While I love and care for all of my friends, I have found that I have infinite space in my heart for more people. Thus irregardless of how old I am, I will never stop looking for more friends to share my life with.
At some point you will have to face your elementary school fears. The beginning of 2016 has brought with it the realization that many of my fears these days can be traced back to some strange memory in elementary school….Alright, that’s a bit of an overstatement. However, there will always be parts of your past that leave you feeling a little bit afraid, or awkward, or ashamed. For me, it was my fourth grade class camping trip, when I tried to climb the rock wall and only made it half way. I was so embarrassed and felt like I was so uncool. Thus when someone recently invited me to go rock climbing my instinct was to say “ABSOLUTELY NOT”. And this is wrong, because at some point you have to stare elementary school in the eye and take on what scares you.
Finally, my older sister will still be my hero regardless of my age. For those of you who are not the proud owners of an older sister, I am truly sorry. Perhaps this applies to older brothers, I’m not sure as I don’t have one. To me, every year that goes by only strengthens my bond with my sister. She will always be my hero, and I will always want to make her proud. I know this is true because regardless of the fact that I’m now 26 years old and very much a fully functioning adult, when we have a fight because I’m being oversensitive about something, she still calls me back right away because she and I can’t stand to be mad at each other. It’s even in the little things, such as the fact that I don’t have to call her every day, but when I do there is no need for small talk or polite starter conversation, but instead we do a full sprint into the latest and greatest. There is nothing like an older sister to put you in your place, and to make sure you are safe. So, no matter my age, she will always be the one I look up to.
All I want to do is curl up under my covers and sleep through the remainder of this year. I might make an allowance for the holidays because frankly who doesn’t want to gorge on tasty food and spend time with loved ones. Other than that though, I’m perfectly content with staying in my bed and watching the days go by until the weather warms and the sunlight peaks out for the full day.
Unfortunately, this is not an option. With the seasonal time change falling back an hour, my days have been plunged into darkness. As a morning person, I regularly start my day in darkness regardless of the season. This doesn’t bother me so much as I am usually able to make my own little sunshine in creating sunrise challenges for myself. These challenges are usually centered around knocking one big thing off of my to do list before the sunlight peaks out to play. Its my own version of dominating the day early on.
What bothers me about the fall/winter time is that with the time change comes a faster approach to darkness in the evening. As I leave work everyday I watch the sun set on my hopes of an outdoor jog. Let’s be honest people, I am not hard core enough to go running outdoors when it is dark and cold. Nope. Not happening. Which leaves me with my first option of going to the gym and running on a treadmill (gross…not that I won’t do it, or don’t enjoy it at times, but generally its hot and stuffy in the gym and I have a hard time as I stare at only one spot and the scenery doesn’t change). My second option is the glorious, golden opportunity to go home, throw on my jammies at a shamefully early hour, throw my hair in a bun and create a double comforter burrito in my bed as I watch random youtube videos or Netflix.
I’ll give you all one guess as to which one wins most days.
Now, this year I have focused on being more self-aware and attempting to find the positive side of things. Which got me to thinking, it is a chronic condition of this season for me to fall back into old patterns. Perhaps it isn’t even the darkness or the cold’s fault but rather that the seasons have given me an excuse to be lazy. While other excuses are easily identifiable and unjustifiable, for instance, I know when I’ve gained weight after eating too much halloween candy that it isn’t a fluke but rather a direct result of those deliciously wondrous chocolate bars.
However, the Fall Back slump is something I can easily use as a “legitimate” excuse to stop working on myself. I can’t wake up earlier because its cold when I get out of bed. I can’t eat better because my body needs soul food to cheer me up since I don’t have sunlight to do it for me. I can’t go to the gym or run outside because its dark and dreary. The list of excuses can go on and on. So instead of focusing on the cold and dark, I’m going to shift my attention. I’m going to focus on the cozy. Along with the early darkness comes the warm cocoa and soothing teas. It’s the season of baked apples filling my house with that wonderful smell. It’s the excitement of the holiday’s and the promise of a fresh start in a new year. So everyday, as I watch the sun set from my desk at work, I’ll think to myself, it’s cozy time, grab a warm drink and smile. There’s no reason the season should stop me from working towards my goals, I’ll just have to go about them differently.
I will never forget the day I sat in my father’s car and I asked him how he defined being an adult. My dad looked at me and after a moment’s consideration said to me the following words. “Adults have the exact same impulses as teenagers, the same instinctual desire to take the easy route. The difference is that adults pause, feel that feeling, and then make the responsible decision.”
When we are children we are taught to listen and follow direction from those older than us. Many of the decisions we make, despite often believing them to be of our own volition, are actually skillfully crafted by adults who are steering us towards the “right” choice while not wanting to inflict that all crushing blow of realizing that we are in fact too stupid to figure it out on our own. Secretly I think that parents love to see how the “tricked” the child into doing as is socially appropriate. Overall, its one large win for society.
At some point this veil of secrecy is shredded and replaced with a loathing disdain at the thought of being controlled by anyone. This usually happens in our teenage years, or in my case, late teenage to early twenties, since I always seemed to take my sweet old-time in everything I did. This rebellious phase leads to direct opposition to all direction imposed upon us. Despite feeling as though the decisions we are making are counter-culture or unique, they are in fact often illogical and grounded in teenage angst. Needless to say the resulting effects of most of these decisions are regret and a resounding need to save face when ones parents and their “lame controlling opinion” were actually right.
Once you get to college and life throws some big girl problems your way, you suddenly find yourself screaming internally “I WANT MY MOMMY!!” You face situations you didn’t even fathom as possible, and are thrown into various types of conflict. If you are lucky enough to have a strong relationship with your parents, you turn to them for guidance during this time. You often get frustrated with their opinions because you know that they are right, and ultimately you will follow their advice despite the fact that it is not the flashy, easy route you were hoping they would suggest.
As you get older, you begin to make these adult decisions all on your own. You begin to pause and instead of running to Dad so that he can make the decision for you, you begin to make that decision for yourself. You show your ability to take responsibility and with that develop mutual trust between yourself and the parents that once had to make those tough decisions for you. Yet, with this maturity also comes the sweet right you have earned to make up your mind as to what your priorities are. You may take stock of your life and decide that what truly matters to you is building a family of your own, or perhaps what you value is to live a life free of obligation and spinning wildly in the sweet sensation of new experiences. Whatever your philosophy, it is bound to conflict with that of your parents at least to some extent. While you will spend most of your days not bothered with the fact that you chose not have children until you are older, there will always be that moment when your parent calls you and reminds you that this decision is incredibly counter to the life path they believe you should be on. In that moment, that split second, with that phone pressed to your ear, you will take a deep breath in and doubt yourself. You will go back through all of the phases you once experienced. You will become a child and think that you came up with that doubt on your own, that it was you that wasn’t sure about the decision rather than your parent. Then you will become the teenager, angry and stubborn, insisting that you are going to do the opposite because well, you just don’t want to be anything like your parents. This will quickly subside into desperation because self-doubt promises to deliver a feeling of being lost and incapable of making such a serious and important decision. You will listen to your parent and feel trapped as though whatever they say is what you must do.
Yet, at the end of all of this, after this breath passes, or maybe a few breaths pass, you will find yourself going through the same reasoning that supported your decision in the first place. You will debate all the same arguments you originally went through and conclude that this was in fact the correct choice for you. You will smile and listen to your parent, compassionately explaining your reasoning. You will find yourself saying “well, now that you mention it, I would like to talk to you about this” and then proceed to explain who you are through the key decisions that you make about your life and how you make those decisions. Essentially, you will do exactly what my father said you would. You will have the same impulse, pause, and then make the responsible decision.
I’ve been learning a new programing language lately and along with lessons in how to write queries, I’ve also gotten some interesting lessons in how life works. I don’t claim to be an expert in programing languages or databases of any sort. Yet despite having only begun to scratch the surface, but I can’t help but find parallels between the organization of a database system and human perception. Allow me to explain. When you’re writing a query, basically you are telling the computer how to organize the large blob of information you have. Sometimes you want to organize the information by someone’s last name, sometimes you’re interested in birthdates. Whatever. When you’re writing the query, you tell the computer what matters to you and the outcome is exactly what you asked for. The computer isn’t going to guess that it would be good for you to also get some other…