Life Lessons from my Eight Year Old Self.

LifeLessonsfromMyEightYearOldSelf

When I was eight years old, I got the best Christmas present in the creation of all Christmas presents. It was a sleek green razor. It wasn’t one of those knock-off scooters that every other kid had. It was the real deal. It had the words “RAZOR” penned in white print with the black oval around it. It had green wheels and handlebars. Personally, I don’t even know why Razor sold scooters in other colors because we all know that the green one was the best.

Needless to say, that was the best Christmas of my life. I opened that box and life was complete. I didn’t need anything else. I didn’t need love. I didn’t need money. I didn’t need power. All I needed was that scooter, and I had it. I was the talk of the apartment complex. No one could compare to me. I was the coolest kid on the block, and I knew it. I could jump higher, scoot faster, and live better than anyone in the world. I knew who I was. I understood who I was supposed to be. Who I was destined to be. It was in that moment where I knew I was going to be a professional scooter rider. Is that a profession that existed? It didn’t matter because it was exactly what I was going to be.

One day as I was preparing for my future profession I went to practice my long scoot. I don’t know if my plan was to scoot marathons or what, but I decided I needed to take a trip on my scooter. So one brisk winter day in January, I ventured outside of my apartment complex. Outside of where I should have been. Outside of the parameters of the promise I made with my mother. I figured, “I have my razor scooter, who else do I need?”

So I ventured off. And kept venturing. And kept venturing. I ventured left and I ventured right and I ventured straight until I was in a new world (the neighborhood right next to mine). I was in this new world and I was utterly lost. Left to myself, I had no idea where I was. I had gone out and found that I wasn’t ready to go out. I wasn’t ready to be by myself. What I thought knew about myself was all a lie.

I thought I could be a professional “scootist” which isn’t really a thing. Or at least I hope it isn’t. I thought I could go off on my own. I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought I understood who I was destined to be. I had no idea.

I still have no idea.

Lessons2

I’m twenty-three and I still have no real idea who I’m destined to be. I’m at a point in my life right now where I feel exactly how I felt when I was lost a neighborhood away from my own at eight. When I was eight, I worked so hard to try and figure out where I was, so I could figure out where I needed to go. I’m twenty-three and I am trying to do the same thing. When I was eight, I was lost for maybe twenty minutes until my mom found me. I heard her screaming my name and I rushed to her voice because if I could find her, I could find where I needed to go.

I don’t know what brought this memory up today, but I’ve been reminded of two things about myself and probably about you. If you’re feeling lost right now, you’re in luck because you can be found.

The first is: someone is always looking for you. Maybe it’s not your mom. Maybe it’s your brother, your friend, your mentor, your significant other, your boss. Maybe it’s your grandfather. I don’t know, but someone is looking for you. When we get lost, we tend to isolate ourselves. We start thinking, “I’ll never find my way or I’ll never be found.” We start making it all about ourselves. It’s our responsibility to find ourselves. It’s our responsibility to find our way. If you’re the one that got yourself lost, do you really think that you can be the one to find yourself?

The second is: you’re not that far from where you need to be. In retrospect, I was only about three blocks from my home. I went to the left and to the right and thought that because I had taken all of these turns I was too far from home but really home was right around the corner. Please hear me, you’re not too far off to be found. No matter what you’ve done, what you’ve been through, or what you think you deserve; you deserve to be found.

When I was eight I was lost and looking to find my way home. I’m twenty three and I sometimes feel lost and need to find myself, but what I’m learning is that I can’t really find myself without others. I’m probably not that far off.­ Neither are you.

Sometimes finding yourself isn’t some trip to some remote country or drinking yourself into depression. Sometimes is just listening to the voices that are trying to find you.

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Twenty-Three Part Two

Twenty Three Part Two

Okay, so I was wrong. Twenty-Three might not be what I thought it was. It’s been all of seven days and making the choice to “choose” is a lot harder than I thought it would be seven days ago. Seven days ago it was all sentimentality. Seven days ago it was all sexy to choose. Seven days ago it was just an idea.

Today though. Today is hard. Today isn’t all sentimentality and sexy ideas. Today is reality. Today is the day when the quintessential rubber meets the quintessential road. It’s the day where ideas have to become actions. Actions have to become habits. And habits have to become a lifestyle. This is the hard part.

I have to admit: I’ve been failing. Astonishingly. Twenty-three has been feeling a lot like twenty-two. I’ve been letting things just happen to me. I’ve been just letting the days go by without proactively choosing the life I know I should be living. I’ve been just being. Existing. It’s been gross, but, worst of all, it’s been my normal life.

It feels like nothing has changed. You would think once you decide something, I mean really decide it, that it would just happen. You would think that life would be easier than this. You would think that if you just tried harder, worked smarter, or sweated sweatier that everything you wanted in life would just happen. Maybe it does for some people, but I’m still waiting for that to happen to me.

Today has been a hard realization but also a grateful one. TBH, I’m still trying to figure out why it’s a grateful one as I type, but I’m banking on the reason coming soon. Maybe this is it: life is harder and more confusing than we think it is, but, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be worth it. I don’t know if I want a life that everything was just handed to me. Sure, it would be easy, but I don’t think it would be eternal. I’m okay with that life though. In some way, I’m sure you are also.

If I had to guess, you probably don’t want an easy life just for the sake of having an easy life either. You probably want a life that matters. You most likely want to do something or to be someone that leaves a mark on our generation and in the generations to come. I don’t want to assume I know you, but I think that’s probably a safe guess because I know that’s true for me.

Something else I’m learning about this decision making life is: life isn’t just about making decisions. Decisions alone won’t get us to where we’re looking to go. It’s not just about decisions; it’s all about a decision followed by a process. What I’ve realized in my seven days of being twenty-three is that it’s not enough to choose, but I have to have some sort of follow through: something that I can look to the next day and keep going.

I’ll be honest. I’m not exactly looking forward to this because I know it will be hard work. But the work will be worth it. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and so do you. Let’s do the work. Let’s make a decision and follow through with a process. I’m sure you’re still trying to figure out your process as am I, but let’s do this. Living lives that matter are worth the work. It’s only been seven days, but I’ve learned so much from twenty-three already.

Let’s put in work.

Twenty-Three.

Before we start, I already feel like this is the obligatory, quintessential birthday post, but I’m past the feelings of complaining about obligatory necessities. I’m twenty-three now. Gone are the years of such complaints. This year is going to be a new year!

Twenty-Three doesn’t get a lot of cred in the birthday world. It was right next twenty-two on the birthday hierarchy of birthday years that don’t matter until Taylor Swift changed the game. Twenty-two was so unpopular before Taylor Swift got a hold of it that so many were forgetting they were twenty-two. Twenty-two was like the senior in high school that was dating the freshman. Lame as lame could be. Now though, twenty-two is the quarter back on the really bad football team that no one watches. Still not cool, but cool enough to think it’s the talk of the town. Twenty-two has become so self-obsessed.

Regardless of it’s unnecessary and undeserved claim to fame, twenty-two has put twenty-three in a precarious predicament. It has put twenty-three in a world of ambiguity. It’s now in the tumultuous sea known as the “twenty-somethings” with all the less-cool-than-twenty-two-twenty-somethings. Twenty-three is wrought with confusion, pride, searching, lost-ness, found-ness, lost-ness again, loneliness, friendship, heartbreak, hope, betrayal, and all around uncertainty. I would argue in my extensive experience of being twenty-three (today is the only day I’ve been twenty-three so far), it is probably the President of the twenty-somethings.

It’s day one and I can tell with almost utmost certainty (no real certainty) that twenty-three will most likely be a somewhat difficult year, maybe. I must sound like every other twenty-three year old that has ever lived. I would love to say I’m in good company, but I don’t know if that’s true. Something I do know is that twenty-three happens. You start twenty-three one day (like me today), and in three hundred and sixty-five (or sixty-six) days it will be over. Then you will enter the lion’s den known as twenty-four – more on that next year.

Here’s the deal, twenty-three is here for me now, and it will probably be confusing. I will have multiple moments of pride. I will search. I will be lost. I will be found. I will be lost again. I will be lonely. I will have friendship. I will have heartbreak. I will experience feelings of hope and betrayal. And I will definitely have uncertainty. There’s no doubt about it, but, through it all, I will have a choice.

For the next three hundred and sixty-four days I will wake up (hopefully) and get to choose what twenty-three will look like. I won’t always get to choose my circumstances, but I will get to choose my responses. While you may not be twenty-three, so will you. Each day you wake up, you have the opportunity to choose what each day looks like.

What does tomorrow look like for you?

What do you want tomorrow to look like?

I’m excited about twenty-three because regardless of it’s popularity on the birthday hierarchy, it’s a new year for me to decide to do the same thing everyday – choose what my day will look like. I typically hate all things “new years’ resolution-ish” because, for the majority of the world, they always end two weeks after they begin, but I’m twenty-three this year so why not try one this year.

Twenty-three, for me, is the year of the choice. I don’t know what the choice will be each day, but I know it will be there. If it’s there I want to make it, whatever “it” is. I’m going to be proactive this year in my choice of choosing what each will look like.

I would love for you join me on this journey. I would want nothing more from my birthday than this. I have no idea what the choices are going to be for you or me, but when they arise, choose. Choose what you’ve always wanted. Choose what you’ve always dreamed. Choose what you’ve always imagined. Let’s all actually go towards what we’re actually passionate about this year.

So here’s to you twenty-three: I look forward to sharing the next three hundred and sixty-four days together.

Cheers!

Being Challenged

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What a season it has been, and it is just beginning! I don’t know if I should jump for joy or cry for comfort. It is certainly the most challenging season I’ve been in. Real life is challenging. That’s what this season feels like. Real life. Real adult life. I don’t feel like an adult in many respects but I feel like I am on the precipice of the real adult life season. It has been kicking my butt honestly. Sometimes I want to run away from it all because it is hard. Sometimes I want to quit. Sometimes I want to have a temper tantrum. Sometimes I want cry. It’s been one of those season. You know what I’m talking about.

It’s that season you always wanted. It’s that season you’ve dreamt about. It’s that season you weren’t really prepared for when it happened. It’s that season you sometimes wish never happened. It’s that season you know you will be thankful for in the future. It’s that season you know you will look back on and see some of your most significant growth from.

I’m in the middle of this season and I think the thing that I’ve noticed the most is that it is the most challenging season I’ve ever been a part of. I’m surrounded by people older than me and in many ways, wiser than me. I’m surrounded by some of the greatest leaders in their area in the world. Heck, I’m surrounded by some of the greatest leaders in the world today. I’m in the midst of an unreal season that I’ve always dreamt about. People wait thirty years to be where I am. People wait for ten years of experience in this field to apply for the position I currently have. The fact that I am where I am right now is nothing short of a miracle. I’m so thankful for this season, but I am dreading this season because it has been so difficult. I have never been so challenged. I have never been so stretched.

I have never been so discouraged in myself and my abilities. It’s wonderful as strange as that sounds.

What I’m finding is that in the midst of a challenging season, you are challenged to your core. The very essence of who you are is challenged and you find who you truly are. The real you comes out when you’re pushed to your limits. When you’re pressed you find what comes out of you. I’ve seen some things in me I never knew existed, some things I wish never existed. I’ve also seen some things in me that I’m thankful are there. Some gifts and abilities I never knew I had.

In the midst of challenging times you have two choices: to get better or to get bitter.

So what are you going to chose? Are you going to let those challenges make you a better person? Are you going to let those challenges make you a better man or woman? Are you going to let those challenges make you a better student? A better employee? A better boss? A better father? A better mother? A better leader? Or are you going to choose the second option?

Are you going to let those challenges make you bitter? Someone suffering from a victim mentality. Someone that claims the world is out to get you? Someone who says “If I only had more this or more than?” Someone who gives up and wonders what if? Someone who will grow up with more regrets than stories of giving your all? Do you really want to be that person?

Don’t get bitter get better. Don’t be a victim be a victor. Don’t be helpless be hopeful that you will make it through. The challenges will come in this season and the next; the choice of how you react to them will always be yours. Being challenged is a good thing if you choose to get better in the midst of it.

Let’s accept the challenges that life throws at us and get better because of it.

Free Time

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Sometimes it’s just taking a moment out of the beginning of your day. Sometimes it’s staying up late at the end of your day. Sometimes it’s getting to a meeting early so you can have a moment to breathe. Sometimes it’s leaving the office to get some coffee. All the time it’s helpful and necessary to get some free time.

For me, free time is getting a moment to write, getting a moment to reflect. It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be deep; it just has to happen. If I don’t do it, I am disoriented at best, disconnected at worst. I have a way of falling apart when I haven’t gotten my free time. My brain doesn’t work like it should. My heart becomes weary and frantic. My relationships suffer. My work suffers. My life suffers when I don’t have free time.

I crave it. I desire it. More honestly, I need it for survival.

Here’s the thing: so do you.

When you don’t get away and have free time to yourself, you forget who you are. You forget those things you like that make you unique because you’re surrounded by others. You forget to value yourself because you’re always giving to others. You forget to be you. When you’re not you, you can’t truly give yourself to others. When you’re not you, you can live the life you’ve been purposed to live. When you’re not you, simply and profoundly, you’re not you.

So the question becomes, who are you?

I’m not saying that free time is the most important thing in the world, but I am saying that free time is so important that it helps define who you are. Not only to world around you but to you. When you can say no to things because it takes away from your free time, you can say yes to things that excite you and give you purpose. Purpose is found in the moments we share together that bring life but also the reflection we have alone about those moments in our free time.

Today or this week, find some free time in your life. Make some free time for you. Fight for your free time because no one will fight for it for you. There will always be something to do. There will always be something to check off your list. There will always be something time sensitive that needs to get done, but you will never get this time back. You’re not going to look back on your life and say “I’m really glad I ‘x, y, and z’ checked off my to-do list.” Because you won’t look back on your life if that’s all you care about.

Remember this: free time isn’t free. It will cost you something, but it will be worth it.

What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 presetI need to make a decision. I have so many passions and trying to follow all of them is making my life difficult. Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to be a filmmaker? Do I want to be a singer? Do I want to be a lawyer? Do I want to be a designer? Do I want to be a speaker? Do I want to be a communications director? Do I want to be a teacher? Do I want to be a pastor?

What do I want?

Those are all of the legitimate directions I want my life to take. This is a problem because I’ve spent so long going after all of these things that I haven’t specialized in any of them. In a majority of these directions, I’ve pursued them to some degree and it isn’t that I quit them necessarily, but I’ve switched to trying one of the others. I’ve spent multiple years pursuing each of these in someway and it has led to some incredible opportunities to do something incredible things, but do you know what it hasn’t led to? A true passion.

I don’t know if this is a real thing, but I believe I have a bunch of “half passions.” I’m passionate about a lot of things, but none of them are my true passion. Or so I feel. One of them may be my true passion but I currently have no way of knowing because I keep switching. I haven’t been consistent in any of them. I pick them up and put them down like different hats. Every so often I’m wearing a different hat and I love it. I’ve recently really been loving my writing hat. It’s been so new and fresh. It’s been unique and challenging and something that I can be proud of. I’ve started two blogs. This one and Thank God for the Summertime. I’ve written a couple short stories and a lot of ideas for others and I even have a novel in the works, but here’s the problem: it probably won’t last.

I don’t know how long this writing hat will fit, but I know it’s only a matter of time until I take this hat off and you guys will never hear from me again. It’s been the trend of my life. I want to stop, but I don’t want to at the same time.

I don’t know what I want.

I don’t want to stop putting on different hats because I don’t know which one will just fit right. All of my hats feel great when I’m wearing them, but somehow I feel like I haven’t found the perfect fit. They’re all close and I want to keep wearing them, but there is a hat I haven’t tried on yet that will fit just right. I know it will. I hope it will. Maybe it will. Who knows?

Sometimes looking for the right hat is like looking for “the one.” You date all of these people and find out things you’re looking for and what you’re not looking for and then one day you find “the one.” Everything you’ve been looking for. In the words of Kanye, “I’m looking for the one, have you seen her?” I’m looking for my hat, have you seen it? Wait really, where is it?

What am I supposed to do with my life?

Isn’t this the question everyone is wondering? Aren’t we all searching for this? I know I am. I’m asking this question to myself right now and it’s frustrating because the only way to figure it out is to keep putting on hats. Keep trying new things. Keep finding things that don’t fit quite right. Life is about putting on and taking off hats until you find the one that fits just right, right?

So do I want to be a writer, filmmaker, singer, lawyer, designer, speaker, communications director, teacher, pastor, all of the above, or other? I don’t have the slightest clue, but I’m frustrated and excited to find out because one day I know I’ll find the one. I know I’ll find the right hat and it will fit just right. Not only will it fit right, but all of the hats I tried on will help that hat fit even better. (I know the analogy kind of falls apart at that point but go with it please.)

If you’re like me and you’re still looking for your hat, keep looking. Keep doing. Keep exploring. Keep going. Keep trying. The only people who don’t find the right hat are the people who stop putting them on. One of will fit. One has to fit. Call it naivety. Call it stupidity. Call it whatever you want, but I believe it has to be true.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I don’t know, but I want to find out.

Ponderings

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There’s something really incredible about completing a post. Have you ever thought about it? You’re positing your thoughts for the world to see, for the world to experience. You’re sharing experiences with the world, and they are responding. Life is about the experiences you share with others and blogging gives you the ability to do that with people from all the world.

There is nothing I love more than looking at my stats and seeing all of the people that view my blog. It makes the world smaller. To think that people from France, Iran, Qatar, Greece, Brazil, Israel, Australia, various places in the United States, and other places in the world are reading the same thing. Experiencing the same thing. It’s so beautiful. To all of you who are reading this, thank you for joining me in my experiences. Thank you for listening to my random ponderings. I’m humbled to think you’ve even spent a few moments reading what I have to say. You could be doing anything right now, but you’re spending time with me. I want you to know that I appreciate it. I appreciate you.

It’s so encouraging to believe you’re making an impact, and I believe that is part of the power of blogging. It grants people the realization that their beliefs, thoughts, comments, concerns, and questions matter. It gives people the understanding that they matter. If you’ve never been told before, I want to let you know: You matter. You’re important. Your voice. Your experiences. Your downfalls. Your successes. Your heartbreaks – they matter. They have value because you have value.

You. Have. Value.

We go throughout life so often forgetting that we’re important because no one tells us, and because we never tell ourselves. It’s awful because it’s a complete lie. What we go through has a purpose. There is a reason. Whenever I’m going through something, sometimes all I want is someone to tell me, “there’s a reason you’re going through what you’re going through; it matters.” I want to tell you that today. I want to tell you that what you’re going through matters. Also, what you’re going through, you’re going through. This won’t be forever, and you will get through this. It may not seem like it now. The tunnel may be dark but there is always light at the end of it.

I don’t know exactly where any of this came from, but I’m glad it’s here. I needed it. I needed some encouraging even if it came from me. I really do hope you leave more encouraged, inspired, and motivated than before you started. I don’t know many of you, but there is this care that I have for you. I believe the best of you. I hope you find everything you’re looking for. I pray that your life has purpose and meaning. Thank you for sharing these moments with me. I believe they matter to both of us.