Everything Ends

I haven’t been updating lately, so I’m sorry about that. I honestly haven’t been writing much lately, I’ve been busy with finals. In fact I’m just about to leave for my final-final.

After 4 years at this school, 6 years of college, and 19 years total counting back to preschool it’s all about to be over. It’s weird, it feels like a normal day, most the people in my school will be back in a few weeks or months. My school’s a little weird, I wonder if I went to a state school it’d be a bigger deal.

I honestly don’t know how to feel. People asked me what I thought of graduating and I always had trouble putting it in words. Now that the time’s here I can’t say I feel like I’m any better able to express my feelings, right now I just have this lump in my stomach. I went out and spent some money on some used DVDs, a CD and a new bag after losing my backpack. Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing. I only know it’s happening and I’m along for the ride.

That and I’m going to miss this place, miss these people. I feel like crying as I write this, this place has been my home for 4 years and I’m about to leave and go back to a home that doesn’t feel quite like home anymore. For the first time in my life I’m beginning to understand what it’s like to be unable to say where you are beyond where your feet are planted. 

But beyond the melancholy there’s hope. This last month I’ve gotten my ambition back, and if I can stay the course this next year could be my best yet. 

Still, no matter how often it happens I don’t know if I’ll ever get completely used to moving on, and leaving behind everyone I’ve gotten so used to.

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I’m not eating ice cream

The title doesn’t seem worth pointing out, even at my most ice cream eatingest I’m still not eating it 98% of the time. 

But it’s worth saying because I feel like crap right now. My depression is flaring up in a bad way, and usually when I feel like this I say “screw it” and walk over to the 7-11 and buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s half and half. There’ve been weeks where I went to get junk food there so often that I’d become ashamed to look the night cashier in the face, compounding the depression problem.

The reason I’m not eating ice cream now actually has to do with compounding depression. I found that behavior like that lead to a sort of a vicious cycle. I’d feel like crap, so I’d start eating like crap, which would just make me feel crappier. Suddenly I wouldn’t just be emotionally unwell I”d also have physical symptoms to match.

I feel like here I should have some revelation or something, but I don’t. I still feel like crap and I’m being forced to deal with it without my drug of choice. Still, I guess it’s something to be proud of that I exercised the restraint I did, considering that this wasn’t often the case in the past. I have to say that writing this whole thing feels kind of silly and I sort of want to start berating myself for being over dramatic, but what good will that do anyone? It won’t help me or anyone else.

I guess I actually have to follow my advice and take solace in doing what I can and going from there. At least tomorrow I’ll be a little less fat and a little more energetic then I would have been otherwise.

That’s something.

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I’ve written 20,284 words for one of my books. I read that the average non-fiction book is 80,000 pages, which means I’m a little over 25% of the way there! I’ve been writing since April 24th, which means I’ve written all those words in around two weeks, averaging 1267.75 words a day over 16 days. That doesn’t take into account the words in my memoir, and this blog. Over all three projects I’m pretty sure I’m averaging 2,000 words a day. It’s crazy, I feel really excited and kind of addictive.

I want to say it’s all good, but I have to admit that maybe I could be putting more effort into my finals. Today I showed up to the lab at 4 to work on finals and by 7:30 I hadn’t even opened my file. That’s the bad news, the good news is I wrote close to 4,500 and one of the best things I think I’ve ever written.

In my defense I’m at the head of the curve in terms of my final, and I’d say I’m still in the top third of the class. I really have to say, since starting this blog my life feels way better. I’m more productive, losing weight, reaching my goals and it’s finally beging to feel like things are turning around.

Not bad considering I was in fact considering suicide just before I started this blog.

If you’re reading this my advice is stop putting things off. I’ve always wanted to write a book but I feel like I kept waiting for permission. I always thought that if I got just a little more experience I’d be in a position where I deserved the right to write a book. Finally I decided that that day would probably never come, very few of us have those kinds of chances given to us. Sure, Snooki is pushed to write a book even though most people don’t think she can read, but for the rest of us if we want to write we should just write. if you want to learn an instrument pick one up and sign up for classes. Hell, just pick it up!

They say the first step is the hardest, but I’d say it’s the first few. I’ve started a lot of things but finished very few of them, the trick is to work of the momentum to where you can’t stop, where you’re constantly thinking about that next step and you can’t wait to take it.
Once again, the regrets always creep up. Even when I’m succeeding I say to myself “If only you’d been like this your whole life, think of the time you wasted!” But for all I know I never would have been able to achieve my full potential if it wasn’t for the time I think I wasted. I can’t prove that, but it’s possible on one hand and what I have to believe on the other.

If I seem like I repeat things a lot it’s because this blog is for me. I hope it helps you too, but I’d understand if it doesn’t cover an exciting range of topics. The thing for me is we don’t need to know all that much to succeed, for the most part. People are always looking for new strategies but I would wager most of the time that they already have the tools they need but they’re just not using them.

I’d guess you know what you need to do, you just need to let go of your excuses and start doing them.

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One Week Left

Exactly 7 days from now I will be ending 19 years of education. I’ve been going to school since  preschool, through kindergarten  grades 1 through 12, two years of community college and four years of University.

It’s crazy, I’ve always known this time would come, but now that it’s here I don’t know how to feel. I’ve been a full time student far too long, it’s time for me to join society. I’m really worried that this emphasis on education ahead of everything else has stunted my ability to function in the real world, but I guess we’ll find out if I’m right soon enough.

The really crazy thing for me is that it’s been four years since I started my current school in 2009. It feels like it was just a short while ago that I was moving into my dorm. I remember High-school seemed like it lasted forever, but I’ve been at my current college for just as long. It’s strange to learn for yourself everything that your elders told you, but you never understood. Some things really have to be taught by experience I guess.

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent looking towards the future. Last semester I watched the Graduate in my film history class, and it was a real eye-opener, showing how our appreciation for art changes over time. The first time I saw the graduate I thought I understood it, but now it feels like it could be specifically about me. Except for the whole part about the ladies in his life, though I admit that could change when I go home for the summer.

Thinking back on my time one thing that really sticks out is how little choice it feels like I had. I mean, I know I had plenty of choices and oppurtunities, but it really feels like for the most part I was swept along by the current. When I think about my successes I’d say that they were mostly made possible by concious decisions on my part while many of my failures were created when I allowed myself to fall victim to my weakness and poor choices that had been made a long time ago. Life is long, small decisions turn into habits which build like snowballs until they make who we are. Right now I’m feeling the effect of the concious decision I made when I started this blog, the decision to be more mindful about my life and my choices.

I must admit that I feel regret now, regret for the bad habits I let snowball out of control. Still, what’s done is done and if we keep our heads we can learn from our mistakes and even leverage them into success. The first step is awareness, something that can be hard to come by. Life these days is so full of distractions and can be very structured, even technically good choices can lead you through a life that is outwardly successful but inwardly hollow. Just read interviews with any of the many people who left jobs that they had no passion for, that provided them with everything they’d been told they needed but didn’t really fulfill them. 

Take the time to stop and smell the roses, and think about what you really want and how you can achieve it before getting back on the road.

“Cat: Where are you going?

Alice: Which way should I go?

Cat: That depends on where you are going.

Alice: I don’t know.

Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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Of Grizzly Bears and Excuses

I woke up this morning and checked reddit again, I really am an addict, and saw something that made me get up and get on with my day.
It was the title of the post, “I was blinded and severely mauled by a grizzly bear and barely lived to tell about it. I’ve adjusted to blind life and gone on to earn my masters, marry the love of my life, write a book, raise two kids, and land my dream job.
If those words don’t sort of blow you away I’m going to assume you’ve already heard the story.
For all the troubles in my life it’s things like this that remind me how blessed I am. While I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve been blessed with all that I have I have this constant worry in the back of my mind that it has somehow weakened me. I’m so used to being in a relatively comfortable position that I’m afraid anything could break me. I couldn’t imagine going through what Mr. Bigley went alone, let alone moving past it to flourish the way he has. Honestly I can’t imagine living a life like his even with all my advantages.

Maybe it’s because of my advantages that I can’t imagine being successful like him. To be fair, early advantages are one of the better indicators of later success, but I truly believe that the highest levels of success are only open to people who have had to overcome. No one in the history books got there by enjoying a comfortable complacency.

That’s what this blog is about, pushing the limits. I’m talking about being a person who isn’t just happy to be good at one thing, but pushing outside their comfort zone and constantly expanding your horizons. Every day can be a blessing if we take the opportunity  although believe me it almost never naturally feels that way to me. With my messed up mind I tend to look at every day like a curse, it requires a conscious effort to rise above what was handed to me and work toward turning things around.

One of the first steps toward turning your life around is turning your mind around, and I’d suggest reading Mr Bigle’ys account if you’d like some good encouragement when it comes to re-framing how you look at life. Although I’m not sure I’d do it through reddit, great site but it can be a time waste. Here’s an article written by Dan about his life, a lot of great lessons to be learned.
Speaking of lessons learned I’m now downloading a google app called chrome nanny to block facebook and reddit so that I can’t use them when I’m at school and I should be doing work instead of looking at silly pictures.

I don’t think it’s true that what doesn’t kill us necessarily makes a stronger, but the countless stories out there of people overcoming incredible odds proves that we can always become stronger. I’m not saying it’s easy, I know it can be hard as hell trying to turn things around, but it can be done. Sometimes that all we need to remember.

Until we’re dead we can always make things better, even if it’s just a little bit. That right there is my definition of hope.

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Get Straight to work!

Ok, I have a confession. I have a habit of talking a big game here about what should or shouldn’t be done, but the truth is I still let a lot of my bad habits rule me. I did that post on internet addiction, and I really did well that day, but as time has gone on I seem to have forgotten my own words of advice. 
Here’s on interesting thing, I know I have pretty much no readers for this blog but I still feel like I kind of betrayed you. Or maybe I betrayed my blog? Either way, this is one reason I’d suggest you start a blog, it might help you feel more accountable.
Anyways, I find one of my biggest problems is giving myself too much leeway. I invent these times where I tell myself I’m transitioning from work to play. At school when I’m on the computer is a great example, I tell myself I’ll just check out cnn.com or reddit for a moment and then I’ll get to work, but that always gets  out of control. What I need to do is just get to work already!

I know I said to combine work and play as much as possible, but the point is not to try and multitask, it’s trying to convince yourself work is play or find things that feel like play but are actually helping you develop. If you need to do work, do work. 
Another big problem I have is getting up in the morning, I have a nasty habit of just laying in bed saying, five more minutes. It’s even worse now that I have an iPhone and can enjoy the internet from under my sheets. What I need to do is get out of bed as soon as my alarm rings, if I give myself even a minute to think about things it seems like I’ll always make the wrong choice under the influence of my nice warm bed.
It’s good to get that off my chest, and luckily I have a whole new week in front of me to try and live better, being more conscious about what I’m doing. Time for me to stop thinking that goofing off online is necessary preparation for the work day!

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I was reading the comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal recently and came upon his comic about changing past accidents

The thing is, I actually believe “my mistakes brought me here.” This is similar to what the man in the comic says, but subtly different. The author of the comic seems to imply that people who wouldn’t change their mistakes think that mistakes are by definition good things. I would put it more like “mistakes are inevitable.” The punchline of the comic is that the man wants to change a time when he “asked out a girl through the Taco Bell drive-thru.” It’s a funny joke, but I have to say that it seems to me that if he was the type of person who thought that was a good idea, just because he didn’t do it that time he very well might do it another time. Theoretically it would be better if we learned some other way than through mistakes, but sometimes we’re just kind of dumb and have to learn that way. Sure, if we had a genie things would be better, but in the real world that’s not an option.

Besides, I think he’s making an error saying that any changes made to the past would have a trivial impact on the future. Consider the butterfly effect, small changes have the potential to build up over a long enough period. Changing an event one week ago might not have a big impact, but changing an event 10 years ago could have a huge cumulative impact.
Besides, changing the past might have a positive impact on who we are, but it would definitely change who we are around. I might wish I was a different, better person, and I’m working towards that, but if my dumb mistakes in the past brought me into contact with the people I know and love now I wouldn’t change them. Some of my deepest bonds have been built around stupid decisions I made that my friends helped me recover from.
Still, thinking back I wonder what I regret the most. I honestly would say that it isn’t the big dumb mistakes I made, it’s the little compromises I made. If I had spent more time living instead of watching from the side lines, a little more time creating than consuming, or a little more time exercising instead of sitting around I really wonder how much better my life might be right now. It’s with that in mind that I write this blog, knowing that I can’t change the past and not regretting it because I still have a life I enjoy. 
Mistakes don’t necessarily make life better, but they’re a part of life and in the interest of positivity we should look for the goods that have come out of our falls. Sure we could theoretically be living a “perfect life,” but most of the time we spend thinking about such things is completely wasted when we could be living the life that we do have. Spending a moment to think about our regrets in the interest of learning from them isn’t a bad idea, but we should move on as soon as possible in the interest of actually living in the present rather than in the past.

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