Everyone is beautiful. But looks don’t matter. So?

There are two lies in this world. The first is that every single person is beautiful in their own way. The second is that looks don’t matter and what is on the inside is important. Now both are not entirely false but neither is absolutely true. I’ll explain in two paragraphs; one for each lie to keep it nice and organized for you.

I recently watched a TED Talk from a girl who was dubbed “The ugliest girl in the world.” Objectively speaking, that may be true. But before you bash me for being insensitive, hear me out. I don’t agree with anyone making a video about someone calling them hideous for looks they can’t control. To me it’s an illogical way to make yourself feel better about the insecurities you have with your own looks. But the comments insisting she is beautiful are equally as illogical. Her appearance is not beautiful and many people wouldn’t date her if they based everything on looks. Now the reason I have a problem with this is because we as a society insist that everyone needs to be beautiful. We continually say that everyone is beautiful and that beauty is easily obtained. This is all false. What we should be doing is insisting that everyone has a quality. This is much easier to prove with even the lowest walks of humanity. If you realize early on that you’re a naturally hideous looking creature with acne until you’re 50, then you better work on your sense of humor or intelligence. You can be a Bill Gates with more money than any African country would know what to do with and look like you were the lead role from Revenge of the Nerds. No one is going to say he’s a stud but no one is going to deny he is not an extremely valuable human specimen. Everyone should take a note from Amy Poehler. Instead of being crushed when she read that her childhood boyfriend thought she was ugly, she decided that beauty wasn’t going to be a thing she chased. She knew she was funny and she made one hell of a life for herself pursuing that.

The second lie would be that looks have absolutely nothing to do with your choice of mate. It may not be the top choice but it is still a factor. People are worried about their image to some degree. Well, anyone with a desire to live. If we didn’t we wouldn’t ever spend money on clothes that look good. We wouldn’t shower regularly and we wouldn’t get haircuts that have any style to them. Of course there are health advantages to showering and what not but the scented shampoos and morning showers are to make yourself appear to be clean and well-kept, regardless of how you are when you’re in your apartment for 48 hours straight every weekend. And because we care about our image, we don’t want to be seen holding hands and making kissy faces with someone who looks like they walked out of a radioactive chemical spill. Like, my longtime friend Louis C.K. preaches, we all look for someone equal or better. He uses other words but for the sake of my blog, we’ll say he says “look for”. And because we do this, those who say it’s not a factor say this because they already know in an instant if a person is attractive enough for them to date. So when they decide if this person is worth it or not, they’ve already subconsciously approved them on their attractiveness meter and are now looking at their intelligence, sense of humor, independence, or any other factor that most of us look for in other people and don’t care if we really have it or not. ** As a side note, if anyone dates up, it would follow that someone has to date down. These are the girls who are tricked into thinking their guy is not a shallow prick who is going to mentally control them for many years. Or it’s the girls who convince a guy that they’re not just into the money and really are saving themselves for marriage.

So let’s recap everything I just said and see if it all makes sense. I’m doing this for you and for me because I never reread my blogs after I write them, nor do I do any type of planning to make sure I’m not just rambling. Being beautiful is not the end all be all for success or happiness. Statistically speaking I’d say that about a quarter of the population is actually beautiful. And that’s okay. If everyone was beautiful then essentially no one would be. Beauty would be the new norm and everyone would be normal. We need to accept ugly people to appreciate the beautiful ones. We need to accept dumb people to appreciate the intelligent ones. Basically, we need to accept there are people out there that lack any quality we’d like to praise. People are born good and bad at many different things, so insist on finding what the good ones are and praise whatever that is; even if it’s an exceptional knack for making farting noises with your hand and armpit.

Shifting of Importance (Part 1)

Before I start, I must warn that I have no idea of a structure but rather a thought I hope develops well enough as I continue writing.

One of my last blogs led me to talk about the concept of how having too many choices can often be worse because we’re not happy. And this led to me being recommend about a TED talk that dealt with the paradox of choice; found below (about 20 minutes long):

http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?language=en

Now I’ve watched this three times but every time I do I learn more and more about what the problem was. To summarize quickly, some choice is better than none, but too many leads to: unrealistic expectations, blame if it’s not what you expect, the feeling you could have done better, and a bunch of other stuff. I highly recommend you watch it.

But instead of being the person that stands on a corner and shouts that there is a problem, I finally had a realization of how this problem can partially be solved. Knowing there is a problem puts you on the stairs but it won’t get you to the next floor.

Let’s look at an example of what I mean. Think of the last time you bought a phone, or computer, or bike, or car, or house, or something that would cost a significant amount of your money. Depending on where your interest lies, a level of research goes into the different types of, let’s just say, cars there are. What types of cars there are, what brands within that type, what models within that brand, and what editions within that model. Then you have to consider extra features, service, etc. We see that if we mathematically figured out all of the possibilities it would be a very large number. Even if you narrow it down to the cars you’d be happy with, it’s still a huge number to choose from. But no matter what car you pick, there’s always the possibility that one could have been better for you.

The number of options and chance of picking the wrong one can be debilitating. The TED talk gives an example that when a company offers its employees retirement packages, for every 10 they offer, participation decrease by 2%. So if there are 50 options, 10% less people will choose one. They’d rather not have one than go through the process of trying to choose the right one.

Last example, I was shopping for a projector because I didn’t want to have a TV down here in Colombia. So I started researching them. With all the tech sites and reviews I could read, I was weighing the options of size, portability, price range, resolution, lumens (how bright it is basically), if it had 3D or not, how much you could change the screen dimensions, and so on. For two weeks I was obsessed with this search and actually getting anxiety about which one was the best. Even when I narrowed it down I started to wonder if I even needed a projector. It wasn’t until I randomly bought the current one I thought was best that I could relax a little. I mean really. Some people can’t even afford an apartment to put the projector in and I’m stressed because it is vital I pick the absolute best one possible for me. Any projector would have been better than the projector I didn’t have but still I needed it to be better than all of the ones possible.

To introduce my thoughts on how to solve this, this clip from Louis is a good Segway (about 3 minutes long):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijQI2AJvNjI

The key is to figure out where and what you place your importance on. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter which projector you pick because whatever one you pick, you’ll end up making it work for you. Or with a house, or a car, or even a bike. The need to pick the best bike should not even be of importance. In no world, or dimension, do you actually deserve to have the best one. You really only need a good one. And it’s very easy to find a good one. Once you find one. Just buy it. It doesn’t matter if there’s one better because you now have a bike that is better than the one you had and that is what’s important. Not whether or not it’s better than the ones you don’t have.

It took me a while to realize this and it’ll take me a while to truly practice it but I’ve got a damn good start. I used to always want to have new clothes or shoes or a phone or a computer until I realized that it really doesn’t matter to have the best of any of that. The clothes I have now are good until they aren’t. I don’t need to think about what clothes I could have, but to make the clothes I have work. Like with my phone, my job, etc. I’m not saying you should settle and not improve in anything. But it’s not necessary to always wonder what you could be doing, or what you could have. You’re looking for a solution where there isn’t a problem.

The idea of getting a new bike should be great, the process of getting it should not be stressful. No matter what bike you pick, you just make it work for you.

Shift your importance to even having a bike from needing to have the best one.

Now I say bike, but we can clearly extend this to all aspects of life. Instead of constantly looking for what’s wrong in the person you’re dating, or wondering if there’s someone better for you, try to make the current one work and then after you’ve tried and it doesn’t, move on. Me and too many people spend too much time avoiding certain things because a better possibility is out there and end up not experiencing any of the possibilities.

Shifting of Importance (Part 2)

As a continuation of the last post, this has a similar theme but deals with a slightly different aspect of where importance should lie. Or if you’d like to think of it as a supplement.

This will be a shorter post and told primarily from examples. There’s no beginning point, proven by examples, expanded upon, then closed with a concise conclusion that wraps everything up. Rather, this will be an open thought that I can get down. The importance is the message, not the structure. The reason I typed that last sentence will come clear in the following examples.

Ejemplo Uno

I’ve spoken of me buying a bike in my last blog and maybe another, I don’t know. But it’s significant because it’s part of my shifting my way of thinking and living. When I was previously shopping for a bike I read reviews upon reviews, looked at lists of top bikes, looked at styles within brands, and compared prices to parts to quality. It was very important to me that I got the best bike for my money. That’s where my importance lied. But as the frustration and number of tabs open grew, I realized the only reason I wanted a bike was because I had things I wanted to do with a bike. And as I focused on that, I realized where I had placed the importance was now shifted to something not important. It wasn’t important what bike I had and that it was the best, it was important what I did with the bike and I made the best out of the bike I have, or would eventually have.

Ejemplo Dos

When I began teaching, I had a fuzzy idea of how I wanted my class to look. I knew I wanted to have the authority, for it to be orderly, and while it would be fun I wanted to have the control to direct and redirect the class how I pleased. That hasn’t exactly changed in principle but it has in execution. Upon adjusting to the culture shock of first year teaching and a new culture, I realized I was not in control at all. I couldn’t get the class to be silent, they wouldn’t listen to me, and my word meant nothing. I had to thoroughly examine what was going wrong and why. After several conversations, looking at non-teaching jobs on the internet, and questioning my capacity in the classroom, I had realized I was putting way too much importance on them listening to me when I said something, no matter what I said, no matter when I said it. I had the image that that was what a successful teacher looked like. It took a lot of back and forth for me to realize it was only important they listened to me when I had something beneficial to say, that they got quiet when it was a time to listen, and they followed my rules when my rules were logical and with reason. I was looking for control where control wasn’t necessary and expecting things that were illogical. I now notice they talk when I’m writing on the board and they have no reason not to talk while they’re waiting, but they get quiet and bring it back once I start my explaining. I actually praise them for getting quiet after talking, rather than remaining quiet the entire time. The importance should have been, and is now, on how they respect the time when it’s my turn to talk, not on how well they behave like robots and do exactly as I say no matter how illogical it is.

Ejemplo Tres

My house mate was putting water in the flowers she got for Love and Friendship Day here in Colombia and spilled some on the table. The water ended up leaking on a book one of my students had asked me to read. When I noticed this, I said “Noooo, not the book!” with obvious disdain for the situation in front of me. As my housemate and I have only been living together a short time, I could see that she felt bad and was curious if I was mad at her. She asked me if I was and I simply laughed and said no and moved on. I really wasn’t but it got me to think about why someone would be. The important thing is that the book wasn’t wet before and now it is. And given that this is not how you’d want a book, it is okay to see why this might upset someone. But since the spilling was an accident, the situation of a wet book doesn’t include the person who spilled the water. If I were to get mad at her and express my anger, the only logical reason for doing that would be to make her feel bad for spilling it. Had the importance for me been on making her feel bad, that would have been smart, but the importance was drying the book quickly and no more.

These are three relatively random stories that all have a clear central focus. I promised I wouldn’t wrap this up with a concise conclusion but I think it’s important to think about how shifting the importance of situations can make things less stressful, better controlled, and more logical. A lot of things can get done and a lot of things can be avoided if it’s clear and you’re conscious of what’s important and what isn’t.

No one is more youer than you

Some guys love to talk to girls. Most I’d say. Let’s just be open and say people like to talk to someone they’re interested in. So much so that they think about it all of the time. Most, that is. But instead of being excited when that actually happens, they’re often nervous or avoid it all together. Something that should be actively pursued is too often avoided. But what I think is that it comes down to insecurities. You don’t think you have anything to offer. You don’t know if you have anything to offer. You think you have something but not sure what that thing is. And all of these lead to the chance of rejection because whatever it is you may or may not have to offer might not be enough. I believe this all stems from an ignorance in ones self. Many people don’t know what they believe in, what their interests are, what type of person they are, or what makes them different from the person standing next to them. This is no fault of their own. Few of us are taught to explore ourselves. Knowing yourself is not something that can be measured or rewarded. In school, there’s knowledge to be learned and tests to prove that knowledge. We spend our time studying something outside of us to prove how well we studied it. We spend a great deal of time putting importance on things we often forget. From high school we focus in getting into schools and which ones will look the best for us when we job search. During college, again there are tests and projects and homeworks that are measured on a quantitative scale because you need  numbers to prove teachers or schools are effective. Then once we get a job we do workshops, sit in meetings, take exams, go to conferences, or whatever is relevant to help us reach the next level in our career. I apologize if that was an overwhelming ramble. But the point of this is that in no way are we asked to look into ourselves or bring out our individuality (unless it’s a skill that helps the school or company). I’m also not going to count character education classes or humanities classes because they don’t allow us to explore ourselves, rather to make ourselves more inline with beliefs of someone else.

So back to talking to someone you’re interested in. If you knew who you were and who you’re interested in, you’d be more confident in talking to another person because instead of focusing on if they’ll like you or not, you’d be looking to see if you like them. It’s so sad to see someone get rejected and put all of the blame on themselves. “I’m not good enough. I’m not funny enough. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not successful enough.” The focus should be put on the level of compatibility. “We weren’t compatible enough. We didn’t mesh well. It wasn’t me or her or him. It was both of us. He or she just realized it before I did.” Of course none of this is possible if you don’t know what you have to offer or what it is you’re looking for.

Let’s say for example you are actually mediocre at every measurable thing you’ve tried. You’re not built in a way to make you above average at anything athletic and your mental capacity does not allow you to excel in any field of academics. This is possible and I imagine more common than we’d like to admit because we’re trained to believe everyone has a gift (unfortunately they only account for measurable gifts). But if you’re aware of all of this and not ashamed, you can still be just as confident as the person who was born six foot forty with a 3 miles vertical jump. But now you’re gift is that you’re confident. Confidence of course can’t be tested but it does get rid of a lot of nervousness, anxiety, and self doubt. How can you doubt yourself when you know yourself? Geniuses` talents should be harvested and valued but how can that be the onlt thing you reward someone for when they were essentially just born like that. On the other hand that’s the same logic that leads to racism and bullying based in someone’s inherited genetics.

Above all of that, we’re all striving for happiness, whether we admit it or not. But coming back to one of my original points, this happiness pursuit is often misdirected. You can spend months studying for your CPA exams just to move up in your field because once you’re there you’ll be happier. But then once you’re there you’re not happy and you’re wondering where to go next. If career advancement is you’re only option for a good life, then you’ll never be happy. You’ll never be at the highest point in your career. And if you are, then you’ll be upset that this is all you’ll ever be and you’ll get depressed or start over in a different field. This insatiable need to advance in your job will keep you busy but forever be a curse. You’ll live a life of chasing your tail. You’ll switch directions thinking that will make a difference but you’re still running in circles at the end of the day.

I can’t be too naive to recognize that we live in a world where recognition comes from your position in the job world and what awards you have. We need money to survive. I’m also not bashing job oriented people and I’m not promoting the hippie lifestyle (whatever you consider that to be). I’m simply warning putting all of your happiness eggs in the career basket. Terrible analogy but you get it.

If you spent time working on advancing and understand your inner world. Then you can comfortably and correctly advance your outter world. You don’t know that a promotion will make you happy because you don’t know what it’s like to have the promotion so you’re really just hoping it does. You’re hoping that when you get there, you can stop searching. But when you get there, you’re still the same you but with a different promotion in mind.

If you knew who you were and spent time exploring your likes and dislikes, qualities and faults, and accepting all of that, you’d be more aware of the direction you’d like to go. Maybe advancing in your current career would be replaced by a lesser position in a better field. Maybe the friends you’re worried about impressing or losing would be replaced by people who are like-minded. Maybe the feeling of shame, insecurity, and doubt would be replaced by confidence and better directed motivation.

A lot of the people I admire are doing things they truly enjoy. Don’t think of stupid quotes where if you’re doing what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. You should be working every day to continue or find what it is you enjoy, but work to make that work enjoyable. I know that sounds confusing but it really isn’t. Work is hard. If it wasn’t it wouldn’t be work. But work and enjoyment don’t need to be separate things. Pointless work is bad. But not all work needs to be pointless. You can spend two years doing something completely out of your comfort zone to work towards who you really are. That is not easy and not always measurably successful but it is enjoyable, worthwhile, and directed towards your actual desires.

Focus on the things you want and you’ll naturally tailor your choices towards them. Find you and everything else will come. “Happiness must happen, and the same holds true for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it”- Viktor E Frankl (my favorite person to quote).

“Reality”

The more I read and talk about religion and human behavior, the more I realize reality is never just that. For a quick example: when someone dies, the people close to him or her will take it as a terrible tragedy and it will affect their lives in a certain way. People who weren’t close to the person who died, but close to a person who was close to that person will more than likely feel sympathetic and offer their condolences but continue living as they had before. People who don’t know the person or people close the person but who may have heard about it through the grapevine, or in a paper, or at a 5k they’re doing with a friend may not be affected at all. And lastly, some people will never hear about the death- just as you don’t know about every death happening in the world- and they will forever be oblivious of something that changed someone else’s life. This one act of death will be perceived and taken completely different by all different levels of people involved or not involved.

I apologize for using the words’people’ and ‘person’ so much in that intro. Names would have been easier but I’ve already written it and you’ve already read it. So let’s move on.

So we see the “reality” of something happening is really a reality of the person or people involved.

Controversial topics are controversial because people’s perception of certain things are completely different realities to each of the people. To some, abortion is murder and will always be- and to them they are entirely correct because of the way they perceive it. To others, it is anything but murder- and of course they are correct based on their perception of abortion. Same act- different realities.

So this got me to thinking about beliefs and views; views on yourself, how you think people view you, personal beliefs, god, religion, and whatever else you find yourself experiencing in life.

The quote “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right” is amazing. And for the sole reason that it doesn’t matter whether you can physically or mentally do something, if you never try, you’re never going to do it. How many times have you surprised yourself with an ability? Have you ever written an essay that you couldn’t believe you actually wrote. Maybe you focused harder this time and researched a little more but it was written and it was written by you. Have you ever painted something, played a game of golf, handled a situation, given a speech, jumped or ran, or even looked better than you ever thought you were capable of? I’m sure you have at least once. And if it happens once, we know it can happen twice. And so on and so forth. But we too often limit ourselves by what we think we’re capable or incapable of. Have you ever met someone who is just so much better at something than they were before and you thought to yourself “geez I wish I could do that”? Well that person isn’t thinking how lucky they are to have the unique ability to improve. They just went for something and realized that even though they’re not at the exact point they’d like to be at, they’re farther than they were before. Their reality of what they may be capable of got them to a better point. Yours may keep you from ever reaching one.

Another thought. Have you ever known someone and were certain they were a certain way? Maybe you saw some huge muscly dude and just assumed they were an idiot. Or you saw some girl with glasses and good grades and assumed they weren’t fun. Or maybe you’ve seen someone very good looking and assumed they thought they were better than you. These are all things people do all the time because they’ve grown up applying what they’ve seen to everyone that fits into that mold. This isn’t always wrong because a lot of times you’re right and you may have just avoided an abusive relationship or untrustworthy friend. But now think about a time when you weren’t. When that meathead was really a deep thinker. Or that smart girl knew more beer types and bars than you ever would. Or that beautiful person is actually one of the nicest people you’ve ever met. If that has happened even once in your life, think about how many other people you may have dismissed as some predetermined stereotype. You saw them a certain way and until you die they will be that way to you. But you could choose to let them show themselves to you and see how they are to themselves and how they really are as a person. What and how you choose to perceive someone will always be your reality if you let it. You may be wrong to them, but you’re right to you. And what a shame it is to feel right and be so wrong.

Lastly, I like the ideas of religion and beliefs. I won’t delve into this too deep though. Having beliefs are great because the human mind has a way of tricking itself, even if you don’t know it. Read a book on human behavior and you’ll instantly realize how not in control of your mind you are. Likewise, the studies on mindsets and health show you not everything is treated with medicine and some things are literally cured just be how positive you are. Happier people often have better immune systems than if they would have chosen to be pessimistic. And we should know by now that happiness is individual and contingent on how people perceive things. How many rich people have been miserable? And how many people with limited money have flourished in life? And vice versa on both of those questions. Being rich is not the key to happiness but it’s also not the key to unhappiness. Some people can make money work for their happiness and some feel they should but are left miserable. Similarly, getting married and having kids before they’re 30 leads a lot of people to miserable lives when they’re older because they felt pressured to marry by a certain age. But then there are many people who married and had children young because they knew a family would make them the happiest and it did. There’s no one right answer for every person but there are right answers for each person. That’s where belief comes in. What you believe will make you happy will most likely make you happy- because you actually believe it and not because you feel like you should. And to touch on actual religion as most people see it, believing in god or being Muslim or studying Confucianism is not bad because someone you know that does have those beliefs is bad. You can’t deny many devout Christians or Muslims have lead to many good things and lived a happy fulfilling life. Their views on life and god(s) and what is important actually made those things important to them and led to a life that was right for them. There’s also the darker flip side of all of this that leads to terrible tragedies but that’s another topic.

So my point after all of this is that no one thing is the same thing to everyone. People see colors differently, taste foods differently, learn differently, view tragedies differently, find different things important, have different morals, enjoy and suffer differently, etc.. Things are bad if you make them bad and things are good if you see them as good. You don’t need god to find meaning out of death just as needing god doesn’t hinder someone from finding truths. Reality is only as real as you make it. It’s not something to wake up one and day and see the world differently, but I doubt anyone can argue that trying to think differently or for the better over the course of a lifetime will not get them to a point that is higher than if they had never tried.

I want everything right now

Some posts I have a clear outline in my mind before I start writing, some I actually outline my main thoughts, and others I have a loose idea in my head that I just start typing in order to process and develop it. This will be the lattest one (I don’t think lattest is a word but I also don’t think you can use ‘latter’ when there are more than two choices. Then again I’m not an Englitician and you shouldn’t be so judgatory).

As most of you are aware, or I hope are, our world is moving to a more instant gratification-seeking world. Through technology, we are requiring things to happen faster. We’re upset when a text doesn’t send right away and we have to wait for that stupid loading bar at the top to move an inch and a half. We freak out in the slightest bit of traffic and only pay attention to it when it slows us down while we’re running late (and think the world is plotting against us on that trip to work that OF COURSE, the day you really need 60 ounces of double espresso, you don’t even have time to stop at Starbuck’s. I mean, even if you did, the lazy cashier would be going slow and mess up your order because he or she just knows you’re in a hurry and can’t be late. Let’s not even get started about how you don’t have time to Instagram it because you just barely finished updating your status about how your day started out so bad). Is there a rule about how much you can write in parenthesis? Irregardless. Regardless. Regardless of if irregardless is even a word.

Expecting things to happen instantaneously isn’t necessarily bad. Internet has improved vastly in the past 10 years and with the amount we shell out to Verizon, Time Warner, and Blue Frog (if that exists anymore), we have a God-given right to have YouTube videos of people falling off tables at our fingertips; whether we want to watch them when our students are taking a test or when we’re at home lying in bed with a bowl of cereal on our chest. More often than not, things should happen as they’re planned. Why spend so much on roads, signs, lights, cars, public transportation, scheduling, and everything else to not expect things to run smoothly? But of course, dependence can lead to a few problems. Problems that I’ve seen or talked about that negatively affect how humans should act (if there is even a way anyone should act).

One thing is that when something happens that goes against how we expect it to happen, we automatically assume it’s something happening to only us. We don’t even consider what could be causing it or what other factors are out there that are bigger than making us wait 5 extra minutes in line for a movie, 30 seconds for our video to buffer, or arriving to work 3 minutes early instead of 10 (and now you have to…. I’m just going to end this rant before I even start it). Maybe the reason the cashier is moving so slow is because there is a very good chance he hates his job. He may work non-stop every Thursday-Saturday night just to pay for the crappy apartment he was forced to move into after his parents kicked him out. He may also have resentment that while everyone there is out enjoying their night and taking in a new movie, he’s stuck printing out tickets for people who complain that he’s not treating them as his only reason for existence.

Watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKYJVV7HuZw. Don’t think of it as “Do I have 9 minutes to spare right now?” Just watch it. It’ll change your life if you let it.

Let’s also consider the internet being slow scenario. There’s a very good chance the millionaire executives in charge of the provider are- what am I saying? they’re millionaires- they don’t deserve justification. But traffic jams or delays do. Half the time we suspect it’s an accident and STILL complain that we’re being forced to sit in our air conditioned SUV’s listening to the music on our new iPhone that’s hooked up to our custom Bose speakers. Someone is probably having the worst day of their life, with a totaled car that they couldn’t afford car insurance on and a child who needs medical attention- which again, they couldn’t afford health insurance. Even if we see all of this while we drive by, we instantly forget about their life as soon as we can speed off and try to make up for the time they made us lose. Selfish of them to get into an accident on the day we miss our Starbuck’s run.

These scenarios seem a little far ‘fetched but to deny they happen is just ignorant. And I believe this tye of thinking is a real problem. Not just with other people but with me and you. It’s impossible for us to know everyone’s situations in life and to react to everything appropriately. But it isn’t impossible to take a deep breath and realize that this is happening- not happening to you. Life doesn’t care about you, it’s just there for you to do with it what you want. The other side effect of our shifting society is this never ending desire to be happy mixed in with our need for things to happen when we want them to.

This next thought could be 9 different posts but I prefer to discuss this in person or just briefly write about it. You could argue that people are getting married younger, sooner, stupider, and with less thought than they did in the olden days. You might be correct. You could also argue that people are getting married because they’re “expected” to and to miss out on this opportunity would end up making them unhappy. Again, you’re probably correct. But I think the same stupid and smart people got married in the 50’s as they do now. The difference is that back then if it didn’t work out, they were stuck with the person they married. They’d die miserable old men at 75 or bitter old woman at 85. They’d stay married for the kids and knew that if they got divorced they’d more than likely die alone in the same town they could have just as easily died unhappily with someone else. I know I’m over-simplyfying marriage, and I do recognize the great, lasting love between many married couples then and now. Now though- with the combination of religion decreasing, dating websites, Facebook, Tinder, cell phones, flights around the world cheaper, ability to move easier, this belief you could do better, and the constant desire to be happy- divorce is at an all-time high. My thoughts on marriage aside, it’s way more accessible now to get divorced and easily find a suitable partner within a week (that is of course in the eyes of the person getting married and what they think of marriage and what makes a person suitable). Maybe it’s better now that unhappy people can get married and divorce once they’re not happy. Maybe it’s better that marriage is declining (in the sense of divorce rates and what not- not the actual institution of marriage). And maybe it’s better that people now have more options. And quite possibly, there were the same problems in the 50s as there are now, just in different scenarios, and we just didn’t know about them because internet didn’t exist, cell phones weren’t a thing, and we didn’t have the option to read a meme that may or may not have accurately showed us a statistic about marriage or God.

And, like Kanye West and his ‘streams of consciousness’ I’m going to continue thinking and sharing what comes to mind. Having more options might possibly be worse for us. On the surface, it seems like being able to choose from more people to marry, more jobs to waste half your life at, or more colleges to throw money at, we’re more likely to choose the best one and be happy. But are we really capable of knowing which one is going to make us the happiest? Are we relying too much on what we expect to be given from our choices and not on what we try to get out of each one? A girlfriend doesn’t need to look like Kate Upton to make us happy. Even if she did, you’d probably be insecure or think you could do better.

This constant desire to be happy and find happiness is just making people unhappy. As my boy Viktor E. Frankl said “Happiness must happen, the same holds true for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.” This incessant need to be happy at all times is damaging us far worse than we know. I need to stop now before I open up 100 more of my thoughts.

I promise I’m not working for him but I highly recommend reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. It’s not a corny self-help book written by someone who is just trying to make money. It’s written logically, and from experience of someone who has been through worse than you or I will ever be. It also requires you to step up and take control of your life. Something we all need to do before we die an old or bitter person. Above all it’s pretty short and succinct.

You can do whatever you set your mind to!

False.  You can’t and that’s reality. Not to say you can’t do great in something you focus on, but you physically can’t do anything you set your mind to. After a reoccurring dream that I could move things with my mind, I focused every morning to move things telekinetically. As you can imagine, after setting my mind to it- and honestly I truly focused on it- I failed and was unable to do this.

Let’s flash forward 6 months, and now I’m 23 (I did say it was reoccurring). I realize more and more we’re all growing up in an age where almost everyone has the tendency to think they’re going to be the best at what they do: “All you gotta do is give me a chance!” Again, false. You’re more than likely not going to be the best, but we as humans tend to see our skills as far superior as they are and our failures as somehow expectable in order to reach a goal far greater than anyone else will accomplish. There’s definitely value in believing in yourself and using failures as growing tools, but there are a lot of people who don’t use this realistically (not me of course because if I’m wrong it’s expected in order to reach a far greater goal than anyone else will accomplish).

I’m never going to be as good as Tiger Woods in golf, Bill Gates at programming, or Kim Kardashian at getting famous for nothing. The environment I was born into, the genetics I inherited from my parents, my parents’ parents, and the choices I’ve made up to this point do not warrant greatness in whatever I decide to do at that moment. I’ve drunk too much to be in the Olympics, I get bored way too easily to be a famous mathematician–quite frankly I’m just not smart enough–and I’m just not pretty enough to be America’s Next Top Model. These aren’t reasons enough to stop running on the weekends, to quit inspiring my middle school students, or looking at myself in the mirror with my shirt off, but they are reasons enough to have realistic goals.

Not to get too into the meaning of life (or lack thereof) because my last post delved relatively deeply into that topic, but while I don’t believe in everything I’ve previously mentioned, I do believe people have the opportunity to go A and B the C of D in something or some things. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe I have the ability to reach a great population of teachers some day and help them to become better than they ever believed they could. I plan to get a PhD and use my knowledge and skill set to be great in that specific field. That being said, this belief has been the culmination of 23 years of learning, teaching, thinking, rethinking, deciding, deciding against, venting, being lectured, and all other verbs and their opposites. I went from wanting to be an artist, to an architect, to an engineer, to a mathematician, to a math teacher, and now to an education expert. I hope you see the smooth transition there.

But had I invested all of my time into being an artist when I wanted to be one, I would have realized that my slightly above average talent would have only left me poor and on anti-depressants. But I, like I hope many who aren’t will start to do, realized that your decisions and your environments change and alter everything you do. Every motivation I have ever had has been consistent and equally as potent as when I was three pretending to be a fireman fighting off ninjas. The only difference is that it has been redirected and re-redirected and re-re-redirected to constantly pursue my current state.

We’re living in an age where we can apply to a thousand jobs in a week, get a degree as long as we have the money, and need at least a master’s to get considered for a job worth paying off the debt you’ve accumulated in college. We grew up with parents who praised us for participating and teachers who gave awards to every student (the more creative teachers making it more believable that every student had actually accomplished something that year). Some of the people I met in college who have degrees now have made me lose faith in college. Just as well as the adults I know who have been crazy successful with an incomplete education- not just Eminem, but also Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg (I hope Wikipedia is right on those last three). I’m realizing more and more that the value of the human is ultimately what’s important and that people are inherently mis-valuing their own values. While there is a whole school of thought that people undervalue themselves too, that is an entirely different post and not at all my focus. And to jump back to my thought a few sentences ago, it’s a shame that what used to only take a high school degree now takes a bachelor’s degree, what took a bachelor’s takes and master’s, and so on. To be considered for unpaid internships, you now need to have spent at least 60,000 at a school where intelligence is needed less than money.

I think it’s healthy for people to realize it’s possible they’re not as smart as they think they are, they won’t advance as fast as they think they will, and they’re not God’s gift to earth. But with that in mind, I think they need to realize they have the possibility to be great at whatever their skill sets allow them too. I have friends who are way smarter than me, better at philosophizing, better writers, better at certain sports, and much more talented in many other areas. I also have friends who are not as driven, intelligent, or talented. But that’s okay. But because of my selection of friends or those who have happened to stay in my life, the majority of them are realistic and some from both groups will be more successful and some less successful. To expand on this thought without making me sound like a bad friend for calling some of them smart and some stupid, almost all of them are motivated in some way. They realize they can be successful in some things and not others. And this is probably the attribute I value highest.

To bring in another school of thought that only barely relates, I always say that you can be rude, stupid, annoying, or whatever; but to be unaware that you are any of these is the greatest fault. To semi-apply this to the last 1,000 words or so, to overvalue your mediocre talents, and undervalue your natural skills is dangerous and unfortunately an overoccuring (not a word but I don’t care) characteristic of our generation and most likely the generations after us.

My final thoughts would be to assess what you’re really good at, what you really care about, and figure out your successes based on measurable achievements or realities. Getting ice cream after losing a baseball game is not nearly as beneficial as sitting down to see what went wrong and where you can improve. And while being honest with yourself is 80% of the equation, being honest with other people is the rest. Lying to someone to make them feel good will only hurt them more when they encounter a person who won’t lie to them, just like it will if you lie to yourself. But being honest will allow you to redirect your passions into an area in which you have an actual chance of success.

Nicholas Andriani

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