All the Little Big Things

jian-xhin-281513After a week of working, balancing (or not balancing), studying, and stressing, congratulations everyone; we’ve made it through another week. For the quarter system students, this is the hard part to get through— midterms started weeks ago and from now on they don’t really stop. We are all trying to just hold on until Thanksgiving break. Good thing is, that is now about a month away. Bad thing? It’s a month away.

Ever wonder how you are possibly going to get through it all in one piece?

I am sure I’m not the only one in saying that these weeks get hard. There’s a lot of stress in finding a balance between classes or working or studying or socializing or… You see, there’s a lot to fit into the daily lifestyle of being a functional human being. Notice the word functional.

I’m not even a part of the 9 to 5 working world yet and life already has its struggles. As I get older, it seems things are added to my list of responsibilities, little by little, and I have to adjust to that. Sure, life does get in the way of that adjustment sometimes, throwing new burdens on top of the old, that happens. But there is always a way to get through it all, to keep looking forward. Whether you love what you do every day, or you’re working towards the time in your life that you can, I’m beginning to understand that it isn’t always about that one test grade or that wrong thing you said that keeps replaying in your head…

You have to see the little big things.

Do you remember the last time you got a really good hug? I mean the kind where you’re holding on to that person, they’re holding on to you, and in that moment, nothing has ever felt so comfortable.david-o-andersen-201881

Do you remember the last good sleep you had? The kind where you you wake up slowly, your body stretches out, and your eyes open to a morning that you actually feel ready for; you feel good.

And do you remember the last time someone said “I love you” without those three little words? Maybe they said to “drive safe” or “call me tonight”, or even asked how your day was and meant it or just gave you the attention you deserve— these are the unspoken I love you’s.

Yet none of these are big things. In the midst of all that goes on in our lives and whatever hardship might come your way, looking at the hard parts only makes them harder. It makes them bigger. I know that sometimes it’s unavoidable, the bigger it is in your life more times you think about it.

But for just a moment, I only ask for one, stop and think about the little things that happened today.

Did someone hold a door open for you, even though they didn’t have to?

Did you talk to someone you care about and remember that you have people in your life who care for you too?

And did you wake up this morning, after a good sleep or not, and remember to smell the roses, smell the rain— did you experience life today?

Right now, I am doing my best not to take things for granted, to see all sides of something and take whatever comes to me in stride. Just like my parents always taught me, I’m trying to be better. Not just for my friends, or my career, or my future. I’m trying to be better for me.

michael-fertig-2429That includes a full appreciation of what this life has brought me.

Every week has brought its own challenge, sometimes adding to the last that I wasn’t quite over yet. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a good life, that the little things don’t matter.

In this life it all matters, every little bit. And I hope you were reminded of that today.

 

Getting Unstuck: 5 ways to get back up again

Welcome to the second week of August— aka, the time when all the high schoolers realize that a new year just started and all the college kids realize that the end of summer is inevitable. lisheng-chang-239427With a new year starting for everyone and all the adults giving in to the impending end to vacation time, sometimes we look in the mirror on that first day and realize something: We’re stuck.

Personally, I’ve been finding myself getting restless lately. As all my friends head back to college or move on to new things, I’m taking a summer class I’ve ironically already taken and doing most of the things I’ve always done because there aren’t many people here to do new things with. I guess you could say that I’ve been feeling a bit stuck.

We’ve all been there right?

But as a way to get myself back up and moving again, and maybe to help out anyone else feeling the same way, I decided to write about it. Let’s be honest, it’s what I do. So if you’re feeling stuck, if you’re looking for something new, or you just have a little time to read, here are 5 ways to remind yourself what it’s like to live your life.

 

Be honest with yourself

“Honesty is the best policy.” I know my parents used to always remind me of this and I’m really not sure who said it, but I can tell you that when it comes to ourselves, the truth is important. Are you pushing yourself in a certain direction even though it may not be where you want to go? Stop pushing, break those boundaries. When people get stuck, it’s often because we feel like we’re not headed towards anything special. The thing is, the only person who can make where we’re headed anything but boring is us. So be honest with yourself— if you don’t like dancing then stop dancing, if you need new friends then find new friends, if you don’t like who you’re becoming… Find a way to become someone better. Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you can’t get out. You’ve simply got to want to.

Try something new

Have you ever found yourself watching the same Netflix show or re-reading the same book because you liked it the first (few) times? As someone who absolutely loves to re-read books, even I get bored of it after a while. But our hobbies and our outlets, they change who we are— you cannot change if you’re still doing the same things you’ve always done. Maybe there’s a sport that you have had your eye on for a while, thinking “I wonder if I would enjoy doing that.” As a student, there’s no time like the present, put yourself out there! Even for the adults there are different things for different places, like wine tasting and monthly hiking meet-ups, or Thursday night markets and live music… The only way to try something new is to go all in and do it. It takes a bit of vulnerability, the idea of being in a zone that may not exactly be comfortable. But give it some time and effort on your part, and maybe that comfort zone can get a little wider.

Find a different path to follow

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what path we’re on, like Little Red Riding Hood finding herself going down the wrong one. Finding the right one is a trial and error kind of thing. ivana-cajina-337709If you don’t like the people you meet or the things you find along the way, change your direction. Easier said than done? How about this: everything we do is an attempt to get closer to that next chapter, whether it’s paying off bills for the house, picking a college major, or even working hard at a job in hope of a raise and later on, retirement. We do all of these things with a goal in mind. Yet sometimes these goals are too far ahead of us; we get tired. You have to set smaller goals. Allow yourself to feel like you’re accomplishing something every day, even you just read a few pages in a new book or tried that new yoga pose. No matter what you do, give yourself a chance to feel something other than stressed out or over-worked. By giving yourself that break and finding a bit of breathing room, you might feel like you’re headed in the right direction along the way.

Be okay with failure

This one is short and sweet— sometimes you are going to fail. And that is okay. A few weeks ago, I tried picking up a new hobby: painting. Not that I expected to be a prodigy or anything, but in hindsight, I’m not very good at painting. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. Usually when I try new things, I have the security of knowing I’ll be good at them. Like pursuing writing or trying out for a capella— I knew I at least had a shot. But if you’re trying to get out of a slump, maybe what you need is a little failure. We could all use the reminder sometimes; we’re only human and failing comes with title… As long as we don’t stop there. So let yourself fail, let yourself try, and let yourself fail all over again. If you are enjoying something new, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re good or not. As long as it makes you feel alive or like a part of this life, never let failure stop you. Who knows, maybe you’re better than you think.

Let go of Expectations

Last but not least, this is something a friend of mine told me last week that I’ve been trying to take to heart: There will be times when you need to let go of the expectations you have and just live your life day by day. Simply expect yourself to keep going. As someone who loves to read and get lost in the fictional worlds others have build, it gets easy to lose sight of reality and the life that actually belongs to me. I was a little disappointed that some giant didn’t bring me a cake on my eleventh birthday to tell me I’m a wizard, or that I didn’t grow up with a satyr as a best friend because Poseidon is actually my father. My expectations were a smidge too high.But we all have them and sometimes, they don’t push us forward. They hold us back. So right now, I am asking you to do one thing: let them go, just for a little while. Live outside of your boundaries, brooke-cagle-336464outside of what you think you want, and go find something that makes you happy right now. Once you find that, go find another thing, and another thing, until your heart is so content that you’re running out of room. Then take a look at those expectations— have they changed a little bit? And most importantly, have you changed? I hope so.

With these 5 ideas, I’m hoping that I can find my way to change. I keep telling myself that I’m too young to be stuck, and maybe I’m not. I just haven’t been trying hard enough to get up. But if you’re ready for something new, then allow yourself to go chase life, whether you have all the time in the world or a just a few minutes here to pick up that book. Every little bit counts.

So here’s to getting unstuck, another attempt at painting for me, and to looking in the mirror to realize that maybe this truly is a good life. Good luck and until next week 🙂