Archives for the month of: May, 2014

There’s a quote from Hugh Laurie that’s on my desktop background.

It says:

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

I was thinking about this quote and writing it into my blog and I thought ‘wow, I wish could tell them this really cool story about how I started something when I wasn’t ready and it turned out great’.  And then I realized that I have.  I didn’t feel ready to go to college four years ago, I didn’t feel ready to join activities to make friends or to take my capstone classes.  All of these things have changed my life dramatically for the better, but if I had a choice to do them or not do them beforehand I may not have opted in.  There is a fear there in your belly before you do these things that sometimes manifests itself in fear that you are “not ready”.  Learning to ignore this feeling is quite difficult, but in light of the Hugh Laurie quote, quite helpful.

I certainly didn’t feel ready to graduate last week and move home.  After being away for four years I’ve grown and changed and been treated as such by my friends, professors, bosses, etc.  In my house, there are a lot of challenges for me personally, yet when they come up, I deal with them and feel very proud of myself, almost like I leveled up in life.  This has proved true with all of the experiences I named in the previous paragraph.  That’s what my life is all about right now– learning from experiences, acquiring new skills, and leading an epic life.  Here’s to a future of new post-grad challenges with both successes and failures that will help me grow.

Check out these blog posts/vlogs that inspired this one:

1.  As you go out into the real world by Karen Huller

2.  Gaming can make the world a better place by Jane McGonigal

3. We are all scared by Hank Green

 

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MaryKate:

People who know me best know that I am obsessed with reading and always have been. That being said, I recently finished The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (think: the author of Eat, Pray Love, which I have never read, incidentally) and absolutely loved it (don’t worry, this post isn’t a plug for any novel or memoir, so please bear with me). I found something very powerful in Gilbert’s story about Alma Whittaker and her long road to self-discovery, and I’ve been thinking about “it” ever since. What was it about the novel that felt so…important to me? I felt like I wanted to know more about the author in order to answer this question and I just happened to go online to see if Elizabeth Gilbert had a presence on social media. What do you know? She’s very active on Facebook, Goodreads, and her blog, among other platforms. I’m not much of a “fangirl” in general, but I just wanted to see if I could find out more about Gilbert’s ideas and motivations and, luckily, she posted a link to her recent TED talk, “Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating” on her blog.

The message of this talk hit me right away and I knew that I and many people I know could benefit from it, and I see a lot of this message in The Signature of All Things. I have to gush just a little bit: the woman is pretty awesome. Gilbert talks about how she’s been writing for, literally, her entire life and how she worked as a waitress at a diner while she wrote and submitted her work to various magazines. She remembers the piles of rejection letters she received, but then she addresses the success of Eat, Pray, Love–how it was her “big break.” What impressed me most is what she says next: she had to find the courage to write her next book that she knew would be a “failure” no matter what. Because of the immense success of Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert says that fans of the memoir would hate her next book because it would not be Eat, Pray, LoveShe then says that those who hated Eat, Pray, Love would hate her next book because it would “provide evidence” that she was still alive and writing (ha ha). But seriously, she makes a great point: she had to gain the courage to make sure her creativity survived its own success, in her words. I’ve had experiences like this my whole life where I’ve succeeded at school, at work, in my personal life, and then I’m afraid to take another leap because how could I possibly live up to that initial success? I have to remind myself that I have a choice: I can either keep working and reaching towards my goals or I can stop, curl up in a ball, and shut out the world to protect myself from failure. We all know that’s impossible, so really, the only real choice is to keep going.

Elizabeth Gilbert then goes on to say that she overcame the fear of her own success by doing what she loved more than everything, including herself: writing. She tells the audience to find something you love more than yourself and go there, go “home.” For her, writing is “home.” Going there, doing that thing, will bring you down to Earth and keep you grounded. This affected me personally because I used to write creatively all the time, and you know why I stopped? Honestly? Because I’m scared. I’m afraid of judgment and rejection (which is why I write for a blog where anyone and everyone can read it, right?), but I still love to write. This TED talk made me dig out a very old, very beautiful journal from the depths of my garage and shake off the cobwebs (that goes for both myself and the journal).

Failure isn’t the end of the world, and neither is success.

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Check out these links to Elizabeth Gilbert’s website, a review of The Signature of All Things, and a HuffPost interview with Gilbert:
1. http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/
2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/08/elizabeth-gilbert-signature-of-all-things_n_4221782.html
3. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/books/review/elizabeth-gilberts-signature-of-all-things.html

Heidi:

Finals week at college consists of work, work, and more work.  It seems like everyone is buying energy drinks and staying up all night to complete their finals.  This is not the only way to do it, especially if you don’t want to burnout.

I have this (probably cultural) assumption that the best way to work is to put yourself to the grind, not take any breaks and solder on until you’re finished.  I don’t do my best work that way. Does anyone?

Despite acknowledging the problems with doing work this way, I decided to do it anyway.  It was a combination of wanting to get all my work done fast and the pressure of seeing everyone else do it.  As expected, there were some bumps in the road.

Tuesday and Wednesday were fine I think because I was just getting started. I woke up at 8 am each day, got breakfast and then commandeered a classroom in an academic building on campus.  I would work all day besides getting meals.  I was so uncomfortable though.  I was on overdrive.  Even at my meals, I was grumpy, spacey, and not “with it”.  Needless to say sleeping was difficult those two days.

Thursday, I woke up particularly tired and irritable.  I went to my usual spot to get work done and my computer’s hard drive crashed.  I didn’t lose any of my files, but it did set me back for a couple hours when they replaced it.  I had worked myself to the point of tears and this forced me to relax.  I took a much needed nap and watched some downton abbey.

The hard drive breaking made me change up my finals routine.  Here’s what I did:

I still woke up early and got a classroom and I invited a couple friends to work with me.  Every hour we would pick a song, hooked up one of our laptops to the sound system in the classroom, and dance.  I cannot tell you how much it helped to laugh and get our hearts pumping each hour as a work break.  It put our work in manageable chunks with something to look forward to as an incentive.  It also made working fun.  Why not make it fun?  Why do I (we) insist on working without it?  I worked harder, more productively, and more creatively on the days where we danced.

What do you do to avoid burnout?

I came across this gem of an article in The Huffington Post about the millennial generation and how we can thrive instead of just live. The author, Diane Primo, focuses on Arianna Huffington’s talk at a Chicago benefit event about her new book, Thrive. Huffington discusses how to go above and beyond acquiring money and power in order to “thrive” in our careers and in our lives. How Do We Get Millennials to Thrive? is an interesting question Primo poses in this article, and she backs up her question with statistics that millennials “consume lots of content and rarely power off,” which, I think, is true. We are the first generation to be completely and utterly surrounded by technology–I use technology every day to do my job, read the news, talk to my friends and family, and even relax at home. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t know what to do without my smartphone, but I have thought about how to depend on it less.

Eventually, Primo gets to the point of her article and states that everyone around the world, and most especially millennials, would benefit from unplugging for one, uninterrupted hour. I’ve thought about this a lot lately and though I have some reservations about the whole thing (it seems so very commercialized…and just one more thing we talk about on social media!), I do think it’s important to unplug in order to, for lack of a better term, find your center, and I would go so far as to suggest doing it for 30-60 minutes a day. Why is it important to do this? For me, it means being able to turn off distractions and get comfortable inside my own head. I can think quietly about my day and what was most important to me. Maybe it’s unfair for me to suggest this for everybody because I’m an introvert–I like to have time to myself without beeping phones or blinking lights–and I know not everyone craves that type of silence (or at least, not that often). But I’ve long thought that millennials could benefit from some serious quiet time in order to train ourselves to think. We are bombarded with information all day, everyday–so do we know what we, as individuals, think or feel about a particular issue? When was the last time you took the time to sit down and truly think about your life and its direction, what you like and dislike, what your priorities are? To be honest, I started doing that more frequently when I began contributing to this blog. Thinking about topics to engage readers made me truly evaluate my own beliefs and emotions.

According to various blogs, websites, and the internet at large, millennials are supposed to be selfish, narcissistic, and married to our smart phones and tablets. Since I am a millennial myself (and, consequently, know other very intelligent millennials), I refuse to let the internet define me. I know I’ve been working to better myself for my career as well as for my personal life, and when people get to know me they see who I truly am.

What do my fellow millennials (or anybody!) have to say? How do you thrive?

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Check out these other posts that discuss millennials:
1. Are Millennials Really More Narcissistic?
2
. Generation Y Redefines Success

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