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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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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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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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Regrets

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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Buying Happiness

“So if money can’t buy happiness, I guess I’ll have to rent it” – Weird AL

The phrase “money can’t buy happiness” is a phrase I like, but I don’t think it’s technically correct. Of course money can buy happiness, the problem is the happiness is often short lived. We’ve been programmed by advertising that all our problems will be solved by buying this next new thing, when the truth is we probably don’t need it and any happiness we get from buying it will quickly fade. 

The question is, if you want to buy some happiness then what’s the best way about it. Studies have shown that the way to getting the most out of your dollar is paying for experiences rather than things. 
This all came to my mind because I went to see Iron Man 3 last night. Usually I like to go to movies alone early in the day so I get matinee prices, but I have to say that an event like the opening day of Iron Man is an experience that’s worth the money. Just the buzz in the theater before the movie starts is practically worth the price of admission. I also got to see it with two friends and we’d both seen the last Iron Man movie together, so time was spent reminiscing about the good old days.

The thing about experiences is they have a way of growing on us with age. Even bad experiences can lead to happiness in the long run because they often provide us with good stories and can bond us together with the people we’re with.
So if you want happiness to last I’d say you should look for something to do, rather than something to simply buy. It honestly seemed a little backwards to my analytical mind, after all experiences end while the stuff we buy sticks around, but looking back over my life I don’t even remember any of the stuff I opted not to buy in exchange for the memories I cherish.

Of course the headline is a bit of a head fake, you don’t have to spend any money to have an experience, though it doesn’t hurt. So instead of looking at amazon try looking for local webpages that list events going on around you.
Now if you don’t mind I’m off to rest up for tomorrow and dream of my next adventure. I’d suggest you do the same!

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Small Steps

I’m writing this in Microsoft word. I can tell because it just automatically capitalized the word Microsoft. Let’s try apple, looks like it doesn’t, but that’s not exactly fair. How about linux? Well, it doesn’t automatically capitalize it, but it does mark it as misspelled and suggest “Linux.”

Sorry, I’m easily distracted. You see, this is really switching it up for me. I don’t have word on my personal computers and so I’ve gotten in a habit of writing everything up in Google Docs. Even when I’m at school, like I am now, I usually use Google because that ensures that my files will pretty much always be available to me. That is until Google decides to rise up and enslave us and holds our files, email and personal information ransom until we bow down to them. But at that point I don’t think files like this will be my main problem.

So you’re probably asking yourself why I’m using word right now, well you probably aren’t but just play along. You see I have this habit of sitting down at a computer to get stuff done and saying to myself “well I’ve got to log onto Google if I want to write anything. And while I’m on Google I might as well check Gmail, and while that’s loading let’s just pop into Facebook and just see if I have any updates.” You can see how the little things like this can start snowballing out of control. The really nefarious thing is that my line of thinking isn’t exactly incorrect, if I did everything I listed it really shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. I usually only have one or 2 emails that are really interesting and it only takes me around 30 seconds to delete the emails from group on I allow myself to keep getting “just in case,” and it would take me a similar amount of time to check my usual Facebook updates. I start off with a bit of truth, that what I’m proposing should only take a few minutes, and using it to justify something I know isn’t true, that ultimately I’ll only end up surfing the web for 5 minutes rather than 25 or 50.

I’m constantly reminded of the story of the witches in Macbeth. Now, I don’t have Wikipedia and it’s been a while so I’m going off my head here, but I remember the gist being that the witches tempt Macbeth with dreams of taking the crown by telling him two true things and one untruth. This is similar to how “psychics” work, throwing out vague statements that you’re bound to see in yourself until they have your trust and then weaving fantasy based off the rather trivial truths they’ve established. The human mind is a messy thing and has a tendency of ending up with the wrong conclusion, and it takes a truly conscious effort to correct ourselves to keep from falling prey to the many appealing fallacies out there.

Right now I honestly feel a little like a drug addict going through withdrawal. Opening up a computer and not going straight to email and Facebook just feels wrong. This is a clear sign that something has gone pretty wrong with the way I’ve allowed my mind to be wired, constantly strengthening poor habits and allowing them to subtly take control.

They say acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to solving it, and while I definitely agree with that I’d say the biggest step is actually making a real effort to change your problem. There’s a lot of people who know they have problems, I think we all know some kind of addict who keeps talking about changing but never makes any little to no effort to actually change their ways.

I just put my hand on the mouse to correct a spelling error and without even thinking my hand moved the cursor to open up the internet. It really is strange to realize how much we allow our unconscious to drive our actions, pushing us through the same pathways we’ve always been down until we become entrenched in them.

But I’m still a firm believer that until you die it’s never too late to change. I could definitely just get depressed and start sulking about talking about how much I’ve wasted or how things will never change, focusing on my failures. But I know that won’t get me anywhere, you have to look ahead if you want to get where you go. If you keep looking to the past you’re not in control, your past is in control.

Today I say that I am in control. The old me may still come back to haunt my thoughts from time to time, but I will not allow him to control my destiny.

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