Following the 2016 Election

Fair warning: This post contains some difficult language.

First and foremost, I identify as an Independent. I like to do my research and pick candidates based on who I believe will do a good job. That being said, if the past few days have taught me anything, it is that my country needs quite a bit of work. Our President-Elect is a man who ran on a platform driven by the proliferation of fear, hatred, misinformation, and bullying, and can only be considered a Republican by name, not by actual policy/traditional party beliefs. No one knows what the next four years will hold, but if the past year is any indication, it is fair to say that it is going to be a bumpy ride.

I cannot count the number of thoughts that have flown through my head- the number of fears and worries. I could not sleep because my heart was beating too quickly and too loudly, and my mind would not settle on a single comforting thought. No matter how hard I try to find logical reasoning about how presidents do not always accomplish what they promise in their platforms, I am still nervous that historical evidence is not enough… especially because historically-based polling projections did not work in terms of predicting the election.

There are so many posts on the internet that have brought me to tears- tears that I shed not because my candidate did not get elected, but because I cannot believe the amount of hatred and division that is coming from both sides. We are a nation in which we the freedom of speech is protected, so I welcome protests. In fact, I encourage them. We are a nation in which in which the freedom of speech is protected, so I welcome discussions online or in-person. In fact, I encourage it. We are a nation in which the freedom of speech is protected, so I welcome the continued conversations of the implications of Trump’s election and its possible effects on American political policy. In fact, I encourage it.

What I do not encourage, yet continue to see, are posts that try to make others feel lesser because they chose to support a differing party. What I do not encourage, yet continue to see, are attempts to invalidate the emotions of minority groups by those who could not possibly understand what it means to be a minority in this country. What I do not encourage, yet continue to see, is condemnation of those who voted for Trump by equivocating them with their fear-mongering candidate. I do not encourage the violence, hatred, and continued proliferation of negative generalizations of either Liberals or Republicans.

It goes without saying, but I am person. I am my own person with my own beliefs and I am protected by our Constitution to have them. I am my own person with my own  emotions and fears, and I am protected by our Constitution to have them. I am my own person, and I am allowed to feel how I feel about this election. Emotions should be felt, need to be felt, and demand to be felt. I am my own person as much as you are yours.

And, as a black American, this is how I feel:

I am in shock, not solely because Trump was elected, but because I cannot believe that we are so far from peace and unity. Do not get me wrong, I am not naïve to the reality of the world. The fact is we do not live in a post-racial society. That was clear before Trump was elected. In the predominantly white society that I navigate on a daily basis, many people that I interact with (whether they admit it or not) are not intimidated by me, because they have met me and dubbed me the resident “Oreo” so I am safe, and more importantly, they are safe around me. But this does not mean that they have no inkling of prejudice whatsoever. That is just simply untrue. We have prejudices regardless of whether we want to or not. We have prejudices regardless of whether we even know it or not.

I know I have prejudices, and its an unlearning that I am trying to work on. When I go to places with very few other African-Americans in the population, I am constantly nervous that I will become the next victim of a hate crime. Anyone who knows me knows that I barely ever drive above the speed limit primarily due to the fact that I am terrified I could be the next victim’s face in the fight against police brutality in America. I work my ass off to avoid being called lazy or thought of as being just another nigger. For the longest time, I refused to listen to rap for the same reason. I even freak out about my daily hair style, and I am hesitant to wear it down because I am afraid of how my curls will be perceived by my friends, the people I work with, or any regular Joe on the street. Ask anyone, I always wear my hair up. If it is down, just wait an hour or so.

(And, to be clear, I have been living in predominantly white societies entire life. I have always mostly had white friends, gone to mostly white schools, worked jobs that are “white people jobs” (e.g. Lifeguarding). Hell, I didn’t realize I wasn’t white until I was 8-years-old. When I found out, I even told my mom that I wanted to be white. I still have prejudices that I am trying to confront and unlearn. We all do.)

I have always been uncomfortable as a black female living in America, and it is perfectly legitimate for me to feel like my discomfort is not in vain. Realistically and statistically speaking, I will be fine during Trump’s presidency. His plan for his first 100 days would not affect me all too much, nor will it affect my family.

But that is not what I fear.

I fear that we have placed a man in power who has done nothing but played upon the fears of the others, and made it okay to continue to spread that fear through illegitimate information- through prejudice and sweeping generalizations based on race. Trump took advantage of and manipulated people’s emotions, took their fears, blew them out of proportion, and never bothered to provide any legitimate reasoning or evidence as to why his claims could signify an inkling of truth. He was, for all intents and purposes, emotionally abusing the people of this country. At any time, he could have chosen to start conversations about unity, about the truth, and he chose not to. He let his studies and surveys, even those he knew were discredited, take a life of their own, lighting the match of the existing powder keg of fear. He ran on a platform made of fears and lies, and poured gasoline over them until everything and everyone was drowning flames. Only now that he has been elected has he even started speaking about peace and unity, and representing all Americans. Even then, the issue stems from the fact that his rhetoric won him the election in the first place. Without true information, things can easily go haywire. There are countless situations where people respond to situations without knowing the full picture, only to find out that what they thought knew was completely wrong.

I am perfectly valid in feeling afraid, because actions based on misinformation are a powerful weapon.

And these are only concerns as and African American in this country. My concerns as a woman in this country  are even greater.

Despite all of the fears and concerns that I have had to confront in the past few days, I have also learned that I have nothing but hope for the future. My social media feeds have been flooded by messages of love for everyone regardless of race, gender, or preferred political candidate. I have seen messages of support for those whose lives will be most strongly affected, and I have read countless messages of strength and a passion to prove that the president does not accurately represent all of us. I have received many texts from people who can understand why I would be fearful, and want me to know that they too are afraid, because the future seems more unclear than an impromptu crash course on nuclear physics. These are messages of love and support and a willingness to make a better world.

Though am I anxious about what the next presidency will hold, I believe it is imperative to maintain any sense of calm possible- not passivity, but calm. We must take the time we need to process the election without any more violence and hatred. We cannot change the past, but we can do the best we can to keep working towards a better future. After all, love triumphs over hate.

The Joys of Being a Couch Potato

I have been trained to be a productivity machine. Regularly, I feel as though I must accomplish something in order to consider the day “lived.” Work out? Check! Complete meal prep for the week? Done! Get ahead on the latest work project? Of course!

Every day is hustle to prove that I am a competent twenty-something that is handling the transition to adulthood with a fineness that would make any parent ooze with pride. After a long day of hustle, bustle, and generally minor achievements, I dive face-first into my pillow-laden bed, and start mentally prepping for the next day’s series of minor accomplishments. What outfit will I wear? How long is my “to do” list going to be? Did I remember to call my mom? When will I ever catch a break?

Wait… repeat that question one more time.

When will I ever catch a break?

The last question almost always catches me off-guard as it is the only question that never has a definitive answer, and which troubles me until I drift off to what would inevitably be considered a good night’s restless sleep.

It has recently occurred to me that I am the worst at relaxing, and I only partially mean letting my Type-A-ness rest. I do not think I truly know how to relax- to do nothing and to feel okay with it. Since graduation (hungover weekends excluded), I can count on one hand the number of weekends that I allowed myself to lounge around my apartment, binge-watch Netflix, fantasize about my fictional relationship with Josh Peck, and continue flexing my creative writing muscles. I can promise you that I have yet to sleep until noon, or even stay in my pajamas that long. I have cleaned every weekend, organized every weekend, and/or planned every weekend, but I have yet to take a weekend to relax in the way every twenty-something loves to hate, and hates to love- lounging like a true couch potato.

Back in college, this was not a concept I had to learn. I just pushed it under the umbrella of general procrastination, and that did not count as taking “me time.” Even further, I could always count on there being at least one other person around who wanted to snuggle under blankets and eat take out until we were both caught up on the latest episode of whatever show we loved. Being a couch potato was not only easy, but it was okay. I never felt bad for doing it.

However, now that I am supposedly an adult, I have felt that being an adult meant doing something all of the time. And, in doing that something all of the time, I recognized a bittersweet truth: I am proud of myself for being productive, but I have robbed myself of one of the smallest joys in life of being lazy and doing whatever I want. Those productive accomplishments are things that I have to do, not always things that I want to do.

I cannot say that lounging around in my pajamas every weekend is the way to go. Admittedly, I do prefer to live a more active lifestyle. However, it is time to start giving myself a “Get Out of Productivity Free” card every once and while- to let myself sleep until noon, eat an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting, and watch the entirety of Harry Potter weekend without feeling bad about it. There are always going to be things to do, tasks to complete, errands to run, and people to see, but that does not mean that every day has to be full.

Sometimes, laziness can be a luxury. I think it’s about time to start cashing in. What about you? And remember: haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate.

Stay Motivated.!

…Well, most of the time, anyway…

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Halloween Edition: Let’s Play Pretend!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, third to Christmas and Thanksgiving of course. Watching Hocus Pocus while snuggled up with warm apple cider and pumpkin seeds is only one of the few things I love about Halloween festivities. I find Halloween a wonderful holiday, because it is the only time of the year where perfectly crafting yourself as another is not only acceptable, but welcome. The harder you try to be someone else, the more you are rewarded for it by others.

However, the more I contemplate the concept of Halloween, I realize that Halloween is not too far away from every day life. How often do we try to change ourselves for the praise of others? How much effort do we put into our day-to-day routines to have people believe that we are someone other than who we are? Every day is another chance to convince the world you are a different, even if the person you are trying to convince is yourself.

This is not a condemnation on how we change ourselves for others. In fact, I do not think it is possible to be completely apathetic to the outside world’s opinions. However, I think it is important for us to begin to recognize what we do for ourselves, and what we do for other people. I will be the first to admit that I do so many things for the approval of others. Whether it be picking out the perfect outfit for a work meeting or choosing to wear glitter eye shadow instead of my regular matte pallet, I often find many of my actions guided by how I believe others will perceive me.

Often times, we find ourselves inundated with messages telling us to be ourselves, but these messages often overlook the necessity of change, progress, and development. Many of these messages assume that ones daily routine involves an Ariel-esque transformation, trading fins for legs and an angelic voice for the sake of a meager chance at true love (I will take this opportunity to articulate The Little Mermaid is the least favorite of almost any Disney movie, including the Brother Bear sequel). Of course, you should be yourself, but what is preventing you from being better? As much as I would love to be able to swim underwater for hours on end with the perfect hair of an aquatic Victoria’s Secret angel, I simply do not have that kind of time on a daily basis. Having a daily routine that helps fill the shoes of the person you want to be is like dressing up in your mom or dad’s clothes because you want to be like them. With your fingers crossed and a heart full of hope and good intentions, playing it becomes less and less like playing pretend, and more like practicing for the future.

I could lie and say that this is something that I am working to correct, but the truth is I do not mind all of the things that I know I do for other people. Some part of me believes that, if I continue to show other people the better version of myself, I may eventually become that woman. I’ll be the woman that has her life together, knows how to have the perfect eyeliner, who works out regularly, eats healthily, and can balance work and a personal life. I hope to be the woman who people turn to for advice, who feels comfort in all that she has accomplished, and finds peace in her own confidence. There are so many things that I want others to believe about me, mainly because I hope fulfill those beliefs for myself. I may have been Lana Kane this past Halloweekend, but I aspire to be a better version of myself every day.

Stay motivated!

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It is Always Important to Mean What You Say

I do not have much to say this week, but I do hope it does not go unheard.

Frankly, I put a lot of stock into words. Of course, I also rely on body language and other visual queues, but at the end of the day, words are the only piece left to hold on to. There is a reason why people love quotes- because words can carry more weight than body language and physical subtleties ever could. No one cares how Robert Frost delivered the words, “I took the one less traveled by.” And, of course, we know that John F. Kennedy, at his inauguration, proclaimed “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Even though we have the recording, only his words are left- how they feel when you remember them, how they resonate within you, and how you adopt the words into your own life.

Working in corporate America, it is not uncommon for people to avoid saying what they mean. For the sake of diplomacy, people often avoid the truth by using softer words in order to get their point across. I understand the importance of diplomacy, and I am not advocating for everyone to suddenly start being blunt to a fault. However, I do think we should all make a little bit more of an effort to tell the truth more plainly.

You Have Infinite Talent, and You’re The Only One Who Does Not Realize It

I often think back to my childhood- one filled with a variety of sports, acting, and art classes- and all of the ways that my life would turn out differently if I had changed one decision. If I had chosen to continue theatre over playing soccer, would I have ended up an actress in LA? If I picked a different major, would I be doing a year of service instead of entering corporate America? The power of choice is an incredible thing. Of course, all decisions are not do or die. We make hundreds of small decisions every day that have few (if any) long term impacts.

Regardless, I find myself burdened by the importance of those bigger decisions. When  I think about all of options I had as a child, I realize that, little by little, my decisions narrowed down what I believed I was capable of. When I chose to play soccer instead of doing another play in grade school, I set off a chain of decisions that only reinforced the fallacy that being an athlete and a thespian had to be mutually exclusive experiences. I had unconsciously convinced myself that I was only an athlete, and acting was reserved for a lofty hobby that I “could always return to,” even though I knew it would be unlikely.

As I continue navigating my transition into adult world, I often contemplate how I got to where I am. I cannot help but wonder which decisions were critical in determining how this Indiana girl ended up in Minneapolis working for a great company, and I wonder if I would want it to be any other way. Slowly, I have started to realize that I have always been in control of my own life, which means that I have always been in control over how I have understood my own landscape of opportunities. Every time I told myself I could not do something, I was neglecting my own capacity for talent. I have always loved singing, acting, and creating pieces of art. The only person who told me those avenues were impossible, impractical, or illogical was myself. Sure, I faced parental pressure to succeed, but I was the one who assumed that I could not succeed, and that I did not have enough talent to achieve success in any regard.

This assumption is exceedingly incorrect. Everyone has more than one, singular talent, and talents are not mutually exclusive. When we take control of our lives, we have a tendency to focus only on the talents that can lead us to a certain idea of success. We convince ourselves that we are only valuable if our talents can be monetized, commercialized, or translated to some field that is monetized and/or commercialized. All other talents fall to the wayside, and often are forgotten. It has become more apparent to me that other people are often more aware of an individual’s talent than that individual, even when those talents are tucked away for the time being.

Do not underestimate your ability to utilize and transform your talent. If other people are able to see your capacity for success with a skill, then it should not be something you brush aside or take lightly. Often times, we cannot see the value in ourselves, because it is easy for us to be blindfolded by our own thoughts and rationale. Instead of staying in darkness, we should let the light from others guide us through the dark of our own, self-imposed fallacies.

You are infinitely talented, and you cannot let your own concerns, worries, and insecurities determine how you use your talent. The decisions you make will set the path for your life, but that life does not have to be confined to talents that lead to a certain idea of success. Life is dynamic, beautiful, and unpredictable, and too short for your talents to be forgotten.

Stay Motivated!

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Some Places Will Always Feel Like Home

A couple weekends ago, I went back to my Alma Mater, the University of Notre Dame, to watch the ND vs. Duke game. Despite the game ending in a loss for the Irish, I found myself swept away by something that no academic institution had instilled in me before- nostalgia.

That isn’t to say that I have not ever felt nostalgic. In reality, I am quite a sap when it comes to thinking about the past and how quickly and drastically things have changed. However, most of my nostalgia has often been tied to people, pictures, memories, and keepsakes, but never I have been swept by a nostalgia for “home.” My family has lived in the same house for the vast majority of my life (and are still there), and I have changed so much between both high school and grade school that any nostalgia invokes memories of my (multiple) awkward phases, which I prefer not to dwell on. Regardless, there is something to be said about a place that inherently feels like home.

Like many others, Notre Dame was my dream school. I remember walking into the bookstore as a freshman in high school on a chilly, spring afternoon. Though I had never been to Notre Dame before, my eyes were wide with the excitement and the anticipation of having the chance to attend a school worthy of such a bookstore. I told my mom that I was going to go to Notre Dame, and I had not even seen a single quad of the campus.

Looking back on that moment over seven years ago, I do not think I could have ever predicted what Notre Dame would mean to me. I met so many amazing people with hopes, dreams, worries, and fears. I got to study abroad for a semester, and participate in clubs I never thought I would have the chance to join. I had the chance to learn what it means to be a servant leader, and to develop those skills. Most of all, I found a home- a family. It has its faults, as all things do, but I will always be grateful to the place I was lucky enough to call home for four years of my life.

Needless to say, I could not contain my excitement to be back, excitement not only inspired by the abundance of friends and their families who I had gotten to know during undergrad, but was derived from the sheer joy of being somewhere where my personal growth was immeasurable, where the challenges were seemingly insurmountable, and the successes were unusually satisfying.

This week, as we settle into sweater weather and the amazingness of the holiday season, I hope you all feel even more strongly connected to the places you call home. Whether it be your birthplace, your school, your favorite childhood home, or just with your loved ones, there really is no place like home.*

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*Nor is there anywhere else, but Notre Dame.

 

Nature Vs. Nurture Vs. New Beginnings

It is pretty safe to say that growing up is tough. More than anything, the past two months of attempted adulting have taught me that it is difficult to maintain everything that once was easily integrated into your day to day life, while balancing who you are with you are becoming.

As my friends and I grow closer in our adult relationships (which is huge, considering we both have to make an effort to maintain them, so I am holding onto these for DEAR LIFE), we are starting to talk about them -our parents- in a way that is different than before. Slowly but surely, I think we are all beginning to question why our parents have chosen to raise us the way they did. Why did they make the decision to put us in soccer practices, or piano lessons, or buy us every gaming device they could afford? Why did they enroll us in the schools they did, and why did they keep so much from us about their personal lives, how they managed their finances, and why everything had to be “because I [they] said so?”

As a 22-year-old with no boyfriend (and no current prospects), I often find myself contemplating my future. What will my husband be like? What will he do? How will we choose to raise our kids? What values will we prioritize with them, and how will we guide them through their triumphs, their failures, their happiness, and their sadness? And, most importantly, will they learn to be Notre Dame football fans through thick and thin?

Inherent in these contemplations, are all of the musings about how my mother raised me, and how her nurturing put me where I am today. With an emphasis on academic achievement, financial management and stability, and 18 years of good, old-fashioned Catholic Church teachings, I have become someone geared towards successes in all aspects of life, even if it means a sacrifice of instant gratification for the sake of long term satisfaction. And, because my parents are divorced and my dad was always on the border between Sometimes Around and Absent, I am sure that I have some “daddy issues” floating around somewhere in my subconscious. Our parents are responsible for so much of who we are, how much should they be responsible for who we are becoming? All of these things are being put to the test as I continue navigating Real World, and I cannot help be wonder how I can reconcile who I am with who I am going to be. Or maybe, I am reconciling who I was with who I am?

Regardless of the answer, this seesaw is tricky. When something goes wrong, or if I am frustrated with who I am, I find it hard not to blame either of my parents for their decisions. It is easier to say, “If only my parents had done blah blah blah” than it is to wonder why they made their decision in the first place. It is easy to forget that our parents lived lives like we do now, felt hurt, saw success, and saw failure. It is easy to believe that our parents’ lives did not exist before we got here. It is even easier to forget that, at one time, our parents were asking the same questions of our grandparents. And, spoiler alert, our children will ask the same of us.

Our relationships with our parents our changing us as rapidly as we are growing and developing. We’re adults responsible enough to make our own decisions, and so are our parents. When things go wrong or seem unfair, we can point fingers until the cows come home, but we can never forget that our parents (more often than not) tried to give us what they thought was best. As with any relationship, it is not always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but it is one of the only relationships that knows the full extent of unconditional and never-ending love.

We can never forget: our parents are people too.

 

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The Best Social Networks Aren’t Built on Social Media

It’s common knowledge by now that social networks are changing the way that we relate to each other. Instead of sending someone a letter or calling them on their landline, we can easily shoot each other text messages, Snapchats, and tweet at each other without thinking twice. There is no way to deny it- our digital world is impacting the way we develop our relationships.

My coworkers and I started a book club, and our first book was Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. While we discussed how technology impacts notions of  modern dating and relationships, I kept dwelling on how technology has impacted the way that we connect with our friends.

For those who did not know, I recently started my young adult life in the city of Minneapolis, MN. While it has been an amazing six weeks of hanging out with my work friends and exploring the city, I have been having some difficulty expanding my friendship circles. But, at the same time, it is odd to comprehend that there is an entire world of potential friends at my finger tips. Even further, when your work-friends only know each other, things can get a little bit complicated. While online dating has gotten to be more prevalent, I’m not sure that it has caught on for making friends.

For those of us that are moving to new cities and exploring new places, making friends can be really hard. I have found that the desire to branch out is often compromised by equally strong desire to hang out with those whom are familiar. Also I, unfortunately, am not great at digitized communications, so I rely on the good, old fashioned, “meeting people through friends” method. However, the good, old-fashioned way has been working. More and more am I presented opportunities to get to know people through a mutual connection. A friend of a friend who is going to move here soon or co-workers who have a little sister in the area, I have been able to slowly but surely expand my friend group in this new city. Though it is taking a little bit of courage to reach out to people that I do not know or that I hardly know, it is nice to have connections already available to me.

I never fully understood the importance of building a network in this capacity. Everyone in business says to continue to build your professional network, to keep making connections, and make sure to maintain the connections that we make. I think people forget that building and maintaining our social networks are equally as important. And, as much as I love social media, I am not talking about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, like its digital counterparts, building a real-life social network takes time. Instead of capturing moments on a camera, you have to create moments that matter in order to make the friendship stronger. Building your real-life social network means sharing experiences, taking a leap of faith, and being willing to reach out to someone you do not know. Keeping up with those networks means actually following up on the invite to happy hour, and making a conscious effort not to spend all of your time with the same group of people, no matter how much you love them.

Being a young adult so far has been a wonderful tangle of navigating the unknown, yet severely travelled real world. However, this world is always a lot more fun to travel to travel when you have many groups to travel with.

Stay Motivated!

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Saying Yes Is Hard, but It’s Definitely Worth It

It may not be a surprise to anyone when I say that I am categorized as “Type-A.” Every day has a plan, every plan has a schedule, and every schedule has a set of expected and anticipated outcomes that must occur, otherwise the world as I know it will end.

Obviously, this is a dramatization of my daily existence, but it is still an accurate caricature of how I navigate the world.

Naturally, a planner like myself would have difficulty weaving spontaneity into my day to day routine. I need people in this world to show me what it is like to say “yes” to things, even if it means a little bit of fear and uncertainty.

This weekend, my friend, Grace, did just that during an unexpected run-in at a crowded lakeside restaurant, when a man in a sail boat called out,”free boat rides!” as if his voice was on soft mute. My friend, Jack, heard the man, but was uncertain if he had heard correctly, but Grace quickly shouted to the man for clarity, and he told us to meet him at the dock.

Nervous, and a bit shocked,  we made our way to the dock and piled into the boat named Magic, joining a man named Mo who was enjoying his second trip.

The beginning of the trip began a little unsettlingly. In addition to quickly informing us that his name and age did not matter, our sailor turned the navigation of the boat over to Jack and asked us all to sing “The Isty Bitsy Spider” and “You Are My Sunshine.” Right when I was sure that I was about to see the landmark scene from The Talented Mr. Ripley  play out in my real life, he ushered us to start thinking about the present. Breathe in, breathe out. Focus only on right now. The only way to focus on the present is to enjoy the silence.

We each got a chance navigating Magic, the person before teaching the next person how to steer and keep the boat steady. He asked us why we thought relationships continued to fail. He told us the answer is because people are so afraid to give themselves to another person in the present. As we took turns giggling about the situation we had found ourselves in, he encouraged us to eliminate the useless chatter from the boat- to breathe, and to believe that the present is the only thing that matters. Giggling and chit-chat only distracted us from the importance of the experience. He told us that the past does not matter, the future does not matter. All that matters is the present.

On the way back to the dock, we asked our mysterious, nameless sailor about himself, and learned that he has had a much more interesting life then we could even imagine. His name is Werner Maybaum, and I would tell you his story if I thought I could do it justice. Though I am still searching for it, he has a book and a summarized version of his life somewhere on the interwebs. It will be its own Motivational Monday once I am able to track it down.

When we returned to the dock, we each got a chance to take the boat out on our own, Werner guiding us by shouting instructions from the dock. Though we only sailed about 100 yards out, that 100 yards was enough for me to understand why Werner kept encouraging us to live so firmly in the present. The present is the only time where who we currently are and where we are (both in life and in location) can exist in harmony without fear of one of those straying from the plan, simply because the plan is to enjoy the moment.

The ‘Great Perhaps’ is something that I never tend to venture towards. However, this past weekend, I experienced a taste of spontaneity- of whimsy- and I was met with an unforgettable experience, a couple of life lessons, and a tangible skill that I always wanted to try, but never mustered up the courage to do. And all of this happened because my friend said “yes.”

Saying “yes” to anything means facing uncertainty, but facing uncertainty should not be synonymous with fearing uncertainty. Saying “yes” to the guy who asks you out means having the chance to learn about someone knew. Saying “yes” to that job opportunity across the country means saying yes to a new adventure. This year, start saying “yes.” Saying “yes” to that class you’ve wanted to take or going to that lecture you saw a flyer for, or finally committing to that marathon you have been promising yourself to for the past few years. We should start saying “yes” to challenges of the spirit, of the heart, of the mind, and of the body. We deserve to start saying “yes” to ourselves.

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Asher Roth Makes the Grind Seem A-Okay

We all know and love Asher Roth as the man who created the truth-to-life party song that we all subconsciously based our college experiences on. However, the eternal college party boy deserves to be known for something more than an eternal time warp of boozing, blacking out, and bumbling through life.

Back in the height of MTV and VH1 (read “when I was a freshman in high school”), I was relentless in trying to discover who I was and how music played a large part in that. In my determination to define myself by my cool and eclectic taste in music, I continued to dive into Asher Roth’s music and found that, as much as I loved singing along to a song that I did not fully understand, I loved his song “G.R.I.N.D.” even more.

I will be the first to admit that I am not a fervent Asher Roth fan, but I love “G.R.I.N.D.” more than I probably should.

The word “grind” is not something that initially sparks warm and fuzzy thoughts. Immediately, I think of tired adults who are frustrated with their position in life all attempting to pretend that eventually they will have the strength to quit that job they hate, to take that dream vacation, or retire with enough money that another career stint after retirement would be both voluntary and disposable. The 9-to-5-er’s who are unhappy and, despite knowing this, believe that there is nothing to do about it. The grind is something that people find themselves in, and no one quite knows how to get out

But not for Asher Roth.

The word commonly associated with the everyday, monotonous nature of life has been transformed into an anthem of satisfaction and appreciation for life-Get Ready It’s a New Day.

As a recent inductee to the world of corporate America, I can already see how easy it is to fall into the typical  grind. Work hours are long, and the work is not always the most fulfilling. I’m blessed to work at a company where I have so many friends already, but I know that everyone is not this lucky. As the weeks pass on,  and I am settling more and more into my daily routine, I have to remind myself that there is more to life than working, exercising, and making sure my apartment is clean. Already, I feel myself creating a life that lacks the same joys that existed in high school and college.

But that life does not have to be the one I live. I do not have to keep my head down, blinders on, and pushing through the transition into the real world, because that is how life passes you by. I do not have to choose the grind. I can choose myself, my own happiness, and treat every individual day as it’s own.