Or I should really say trying.
My fourth year of school (after a transfer) I was faced with having to take the Gen Ed train all over again. No fun. One of those requirements was to take a foreign language for 2 semesters. TWO SEMESTERS. It seemed like a waste of time, I knew I didn't want to learn another language because....I would never use it! I had no desire to leave the USA anytime soon and even more than that remembered the difficulty I had in high school learning beginner Spanish. Here's the sad part - about 80% of my family is bilingual. And somehow in the midst of that....I'm not.
Fast forward almost a year and a half later and diving head first into a foreign language was the greatest thing I have done for myself. My required language was French and after initial adjusting to, well, not understanding anything I began to find and see uses of the French language outside of the lecture. I am an avid new music listener and found myself listening to French pop music as well as classics. As a classical music student I had been familiar with classical French composers and their sound but their pop music was something fresh for me. Something so unique and new.
Now to tell the truth I was not in the least good at it for the first semester. In fact, I almost failed. If not for the fact that the instructor had a lot of respect for artists I may not have made it to semester two. But from the time I began to the time I finished the second semester with one of the highest grades on my transcript I knew it was something that I could definitely hang on to. Since then I have practiced reading, talking, listening, grammar about 3 to 4 times a week. I kinda love it. I find myself thinking in French phrases every now and then.
Learning a language not only helped me achieve something I had previously not thought possible before. It actually helped me realize the vast world out there outside of myself. My reasons for not being bilingualbefore we shallow. I didn't want to invest the time because I thought I would never use it. I began to realize that using a new language has less to do with the exterior positives and more with theinterior. I have opened up the possibility for experiences that before weren't by learning something new. Who knows...one day I just may end up an artist in Paris. And the fact that that's even a slight possibility, makes life a whole lot cooler to live.
Do you remember those cheesy fiction young adult books that were required reading in high school? I was the kid that hated them. I never wanted to read Harry Potter (I know shame on me) or any other book fad that had to do with some made up world where anything was possible. I enjoyed reading biographies or history themed books – once again boring for a 16 year old I know. This trend of only reading books that were “real” or had any real world truth traveled with me all the way into early college and most of my first professional job. I spent countless hours reading “how-to” books and the top biographies found on the New York Times Best Seller lists. As a religion major I read biblical commentaries for fun. Throughout this entire process I thought that I was filling my brain with things that were useful – not wasting hours reading books that weren’t worth it and in the long run had no leverage on my life experience.
Until I realized that I no longer had an imagination.
I had lost all ability to dream or think of things outside of a “logical reality”. I became committed to sticking to the rules and didn’t leave room for the unknown and certainly not the uncomfortable.
It was then I started reading those fiction books I never thought I would. It may sound totally silly or non-sensical but it was a truth for me. When I started introducing myself to situations that weren’t “real” in this world it did 1 big thing for me – it engaged my thought process to consider things seemed impossible or illogical with in turn expanded my imagination to a point where anything was possible.
Recently I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and see their new production Falstaff. Being the first production that I had seen in a major opera house I was shocked at the quality of the entire thing. I know that sounds ridiculous because, of course it would be amazing! It’s the Metropolitan Opera. BUT unless you have been there before you are NOT ready for all of the glitz and glamour that is included.
First the production quality is breathtaking. From the lighting, to the fifty foot tall set pieces, the costumes and staging. Everything was seemingly perfect for the entire production. What might have been even more glamorous that the show, were the amount of people there dressed to the nines. Suits, dresses, mink coats; it was all too much for me and just the right amount at the same time.
But of all the amazing things that made my first (and definitely not last) Met experience what it was, the most respectable was the talent on the stage that evening. I have been studying classical music for the past few years at an undergraduate level and will admit to only having the most limited experience in critiquing or even commenting on a production of this quality – but what I can say about the show is that is was ***Flawless. Every performer on that stage brought such a effortlessness and ease to their perfection of the role.
It’s been a few weeks since I submitted my last graduate school application. The process included paying money for transcripts for 3 (yes, 3) colleges I had attended during my undergrad, asking (and politely reminding) professors to complete letters of recommendation, and spending countless hours perfecting my personal statement. But of all those things, the most stressful seems to be the wait after the application is submitted.
I am generally a calm personality with. With exception to a few times during the year (around finals and the season finale’s of Scandal) I have found ways to balance school/social/work pressures and really chill out.
But not in this case.
We all interact with fear and if I had to I guess I would call this time a period of fear. Fear that causes stress, doubt and imaginary social pressure. I know I am not just speaking for myself when I say we all hate denial. But more than hate denial, we all fear it.
My biggest fear in this process is that no one will want me – and that will be the exact feeling. Not that my letters weren’t strong enough or my gpa was .1 too low for the specific school (which may have actually been the factor that led to their decision) but that when they glanced over my application, I was someone they didn’t want. And that feeling sucks.
I like to be busy. And if I had to be slightly masochistic right now, I really enjoy being busy. I like it when my brain is running wild with thoughts about school, work, and things that I personally enjoy. For example, for the last year I have been learning French, reading books on cognitive science, recently learning HTML, and blogging. And these are just the things I try and do in my spare time.
We all have things we love to spend time on. Whether it’s the profession that you pour yourself into seven days a week or your family that you are consistently investing yourself into. We love throwing ourselves into things. Or at least I do.
This weekend I was reminded of the importance of taking time for myself.
It’s now a month into my last semester of my undergraduate career and I my senior recital is all but 19 days away (dear Lord). I am currently working three small part time jobs to piece together a livable income while also trying to piece together some sort of social life. Things are stressful – as life is, and this past weekend I was drained. I had nothing left to give myself or anyone else. I didn’t want to read, I didn’t want to study French, I didn’t want to blog. I wanted nothing. And then when I did NOTHING I didn’t feel any better.
You will never get to where you want to go by being invisible.
Love - yourself
Being a student of classical music - every now and then I allow myself the opportunity to geek out about something that potentially relates too a small percentage of readers - but with a promised wider message :-) This is one of those times.
Frauenliebe und leben
I was challenged after this experience to evaluate the areas of my life where I could be giving more of myself. It would have been really easy for a performer at Hong’s level to come into the concert and just spout out songs that she had been singing for years – easily removing herself from her personal life as a performer. But instead she chose to let us into her world and experience the joy and pain she felt and had lived with the life and loss of her husband.
How are we giving of ourselves? Are we willing to be honest enough with others to inspire someone else to be honest with theirs? Where are you willing to open up and be real with those around you?
Every month I want to get into the habit of sharing my favorite blogs with y'all. I have found tons of great stuff from other people doing the same. I also think it's a great way to support fellow bloggers!
Tynan.com - This man is probably the biggest inspiration for me beginning my blogging experience. Also being on of the founders/developers of this website, his blogging has inspired me to be just a bit more daring in my decision making. Tynan leads a....well...interesting life. He is a GREAT story teller and is full of surprise and truth. I have found myself often wondering what it would be like to travel as much or live as much life as he. And now I just feel inspired to go out and do it. Check out this blog for great life wisdom, awesome stories and a reality that I have found significantly relatable.
acuff.me - Jon Acuff has been on my "reader" radar for years. I had friends that had purchased previous books of his, followed his blog and twitter, and even attended a few conferences he spoke at. But it wasn't until recent that I took the plunge and I'm hooked. Always extremely encouraging and inspirational - Jon Acuff lives to help others reach their goals. He often shares stories of his own journey to self employment and starting (and growing) the life he really wants. I was inspired to join his "30 Days of Hustle" challenge that you can read more about on his blog.
problogger.net - The folks behind problogger.net have made a significant impact on the way I look at blogging and my presence online. Blogs are released almost daily full of helpful information for both beginning and advanced bloggers. Whether you are a hobbyist or a full-time blogger check out this site NOW for some great tips on taking your experience online to the next step!
john.do - From first visit, I fell in love with the design, the voice, and maybe even the writer ha. John Saddington has worked in programming and product development his whole life and to this day is developing software and programming that will change the game. He is grossly honest about that are great and things that suck and I have grown to relate so much to the aesthetic that I almost believe anybody will :-) Check it out if you are just looking to follow the life and happenings of a great developer who's name you will be sure to come across sooner than later.
Well. It happened. I got accepted into grad school. Which is exciting - trust me it's REALLY exciting. But acceptance is a funny thing. Or "being accepted" is a funny thing. Not sure which one's funnier. Or not funny at all.
It's hard to do anything genuinely when you are only looking for an acceptance. The thing about acceptance is that it's always to someone else's standard. Let's talk about grad school - this school sets a standard, had a process, and I (applying) had to strive to meet that standard. I would hopefully pass it, and impress them enough to want me there.
While it’s acceptable to want to do well and in this case put effort and passion into presenting oneself for an educational opportunity, it’s kinda a dangerous way to live life.
There was a time - not so long ago - that my whole life was based off of being accepted by things/people. I don't just mean the occasional compliment or promotion but this never ending strive to be the best so that others "higher" than me would notice or give recognition. It was kinda gross. And it kinda made me a gross person.
When striving for acceptance life is viewed through a lens that only sees pass or fail and not the journey taken to get there. A life striving for acceptance lacks depth and stability – thus the dangerous part.
In a few days I am having the 24th birthday. While feelings of adulthood and homemaking are starting to settle into the minds of “regular” twenty-four year olds, if you’re wondering how I feel…I’m terrified. Don’t get me wrong, the last twenty-four years have been GREAT and if I had to make projection of the future based on current events, I’d say I am in for at least a couple good more. But what is concerning me most about this milestone (well…not really a milestone) birthday is that I still don’t feel grown up.
Over the last week I have been staying in my parent’s home and nothing makes me feel more like an adolescent again than when my parent’s are making comments on the amount of clothing currently spread across the bedroom floor or the general lack of alarms I’ve been setting in the morning. In this last week I have also spent countless hours binge watching NBC’s Community as if I am not a full time student preparing graduate school applications while looking for work to cover rent.
Looking back, as a teenager I always had these dreams of being the “independent - big city” type of guy. I envisioned myself walking down a busy street in a corporate district on an early winter morning, briefcase in one hand coffee in the other and headed to my six figure 9-to-7 (I was devoted) job. Now besides the fact that I am currently studying fine art and not necessarily headed in the corporate direction, it honestly could still happen. But I don’t see myself as that guy. Current actions prove that I still act very much like a kid, but the truth is, I’m not. I’m not a kid anymore. And although having my mother make me grilled cheese (this actually happened) and offer to do my laundry (…still waiting for this one) makes me feel like a teenager again, it’s just not reality.
So where is the balance? How do I, or we, as people who are constantly “growing up” live up to the expectations of our age and where we should be in life? To be honest I don’t think there is one specific answer but I do think that there are things we can think about and reflect that might help us keep a balance that neither judges nor excuses.