5 Things I've Learned this Summer
I try not to dwell on the bad experiences I've had, but the aftermath usually serves as a great time for self-reflection. Here's a couple of truths that the Summer of 2018 has revealed to me...
1. STOP MAKING YOURSELF SMALL
Growing up, I believed not talking about my feelings was the only way to get through life. It was a lonely existence, but I wasn’t judged or criticized that way.
I always felt isolated from my peers. It's not that we didn’t have anything in common, but there was absolutely no way I could connect with them. I just didn’t know how. I watched my peers in envy. How freely they could talk to each other. How they could naturally take recognition without feeling embarrassed. How they never seemed to feel overshadowed by anyone.
I spent half of my first 13 years going under the radar, observing others, and desperately wanting to be a part of the crowd as much as I despised it.
Now I can connect with people and share my emotions in a healthier way, but it’s still not easy. How much of myself I’ll willingly allow them to experience is something I’ve been struggling with.
There aren't things about me that I’ve been in denial about, but I just couldn’t realize how much of myself I was trading in for acceptance, or even to avoid conflict with others. Which brings me to my next point...
2. LIVE YOUR TRUTH
I tend to avoid thinking too deeply about myself. Every time I do, I end up more confused and frustrated than I started with. Then I’ll leave it alone, thinking that whatever it is will sort itself out and brutal clarity will miraculously appear to me when it’s ready... But that’s not always the case.
Somewhere there's a balance between self-reflection and self-acceptance. I journal, document things on social media, curate clothes that express my style, collect records that reflect my music taste; I do all of these things to give me a tangible sense of self. But ultimately, it only creates half of the picture.
Not to sound like a geezer, but these days we tend to over-analyze ourselves by trying to curate the perfect sense of self through material things. I’m tired of doing that. It’s exhausting. It’s unnatural if you’re trying to live authentically.
Collectively, we just need to let ourselves be. We all know our appearance will never compensate for our actions, so we need to start acting like it.
3. YOU'VE GOT TO RECOUP
Last semester I was working two jobs, going to school full time, managing a student organization as President, and still somehow managed to have a social life.
It was a suffocating, wild ride. I had to keep reassuring myself exactly why I was committed to so many demanding roles, and some days I just couldn't find a reason at all. That being said, I couldn't wait to be poolside, phone off, with a cold drink. Not having to be anyone besides just me.
When you're a leader, you're putting on a performance. A performance that requires audience participation to be successful. And if you can’t find a reason for putting on the show, why would anyone else?
This is where the importance of recuperation comes into play. It's common knowledge that in order to be your best, you've got to rest. But in such a fast-paced society like ours, it's nearly impossible. We spread ourselves too thin, half-assing every step of the way. We become estranged from our own potential because we're too tired to realize it.
I felt too young to feel that doomed. I had to reassess my priorities and constantly remind myself to put me on the top of the list.
4. BE YOUR OWN HERO
No matter how eloquent of a speaker and leader you are, your message will not reach everyone. And that’s actually a good thing. If everyone were to agree with you, you would never know how to improve.
But that also proves how susceptible people are to change.
In friendships, that can be difficult. Someone you used to share everything with and suddenly the vibe isn’t there anymore. It starts becoming a social obligation. While it’s disheartening, it’s not always wrong. Some friendships aren’t meant to last, but that doesn’t invalidate all the good times you used to have. You learned and got from each other what you needed and it’s time to move on, make new friends and have new good times.
Friendships are necessary to survive. We need reassurance, advice, and new perspectives. Yet, the people you surround yourself with can only aid you on your journey. All those tough decisions life throws at you are yours.
My goal isn’t to be entirely self-sufficient, but as long as I can carry myself into the next day, comfortable in my own skin, I’ll be firmly grounded in my independent existence. I can’t quite say I’m there yet, though.
5. NOT EVER OPPORTUNITY IS A GOOD ONE
As I mentioned, I spent a great deal of my life socially homeless. When people don’t know your name, it’s no surprise hardly any opportunities come your way. While I believe the law of attraction plays a substantial role in this, so does luck, knowing people, and being in the right place at the right time.
When I started college, I felt like I had a clean slate. There were so many choices I had to make. For once in my life, I have started seeing the opportunities these choices provided.
It was exciting, but I ended up jumping the gun on many of them. I was just ready to get out there in the world, to do remarkable things, that I didn’t think these decisions all the way through. I ended up stressed, busy and involved in too many activities.
While it’s true not to put all your eggs in one basket, you also don’t want too many baskets.
As this summer comes to an end, my desire to learn and grow does not!
I'm really looking forward to this fall. I've got a couple of projects that are finally coming to fruition, not to mention I'll be spending the first week of September in New York City to see Springsteen on Broadway!
In the meantime, I'll be poolside and probably procrastinating prepping for the semester.
Tell me, how did you spend your summer?
— Be good to yourselves,