My Annual Post

Seriously, I hate that I take a hiatus away from this. I think I would be much happier if I wrote more consistently.  What made me come back this time is that someone commented on a post for 2014 that I wrote about being a toxic friend. That comment gave me a little motivation to try my hand at this again because she said it truly helped her. That’s something right?

Well, let’s do our annual look back at my resolutions from last year:

  1. Wake up earlier to take advantage of having breakfast, coffee and writing. Yes, writing here (or at least reading for inspiration).
    • I started this because I was inspired by my friend Jackie. She’s great with it. I want to keep with it this year.
  2. Pay more attention to my finances since I will be finally getting an apartment that that’s not provided as part of my employment compensation.
  3. Eat & sleep well. I’ll thank myself in a year.
  4. Continue to take risks and rise. I’m capable of more than I realize.
    • Part of this includes having more honest interactions with others. Even if they do not respond well, I’m a better person when I say what I feel.
  5. Do something that makes me happy each day – even on that tough days.

Well, we all know how that first one turned out. However, I did get that apartment that I wanted. I did not eat as well, but I took more advantage of sleeping more. I think the fourth one was the most important on the list. I took a huge risk and I quit my job in September. I’ll have to write about that one soon. And I’m slowly finding more things that I can do to stay happy – I am proud of my progression this one.

I haven’t put much thought into resolutions for this year. I want to be happier and healthy, that should count for something. I want to really put some roots down in Boston. I’ve made some really great friends and I want to harness that. I feel like my life is finally starting to take shape and that’s a good thing. I really want to start living my best life.

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Here Again

So, I effectively neglected this blog for a full year. I tell myself it was never intentional. Seriously, I did a ton of things last year. I finished my grad program. I had my first adult vacation in California with a great person. I picked up my life and moved away from my comfort zone that was western NY for seven years to a place where I know absolutely no one and I’m building a life I’m so incredibly happy with.

Let’s take a look at my goals from last year:

  • Eat & sleep well. Indulge a little.
    • Okay, so I slacked on this. I indulged a bit too much.
  • Enjoy the little things.
    • Definitely did this, but could have done more.
  • Celebrate the little victories even if I’m my own cheering section.
    • This was so important. Definitely did this.
  • Stop comparing – what other people think of me or do is none of my business.
    • Check!
  • Exercise regularly for a whole year.
    • um…
  • Stop texting so much and call more often.
    • I discovered the other person totally has to be willing.
  • Let the little things go. If it doesn’t matter in five years then it doesn’t matter.
    • Still true.
  • Never lower my standards for anything. I have standards for a reason.
    • This has created lots of stressful situations with my work, but I still stick to it.
  • Never wait for others to encourage me to do something – just do it.
    • Every day of my life.
  • Take a risk. I may live to regret it, but at least I lived.
    • I freaking moved my whole life

The best part of not writing here for a year is rereading that list a year later and actually being pleased with how well I did in some of those areas. I am most proud of taking a risk. I firmly believe that making the move to the Boston area was one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken.I was craving adventure and wanted to do something that scared me.

The past six months have been full of so much learning about what’s important to me. While I do not believe I love my job as much as I expected to, I would make the decision a million times. I found such amazing friends (rather unexpectedly) and met someone who makes me so incredibly happy, but has challenged me to be better each day.

So, my list for this year is much shorter.

  1. Wake up earlier to take advantage of having breakfast, coffee and writing. Yes, writing here (or at least reading for inspiration).
    • I started this because I was inspired by my friend Jackie. She’s great with it. I want to keep with it this year.
  2. Pay more attention to my finances since I will be finally getting an apartment that that’s not provided as part of my employment compensation.
  3. Eat & sleep well. I’ll thank myself in a year.
  4. Continue to take risks and rise. I’m capable of more than I realize.
    • Part of this includes having more honest interactions with others. Even if they do not respond well, I’m a better person when I say what I feel.
  5. Do something that makes me happy each day – even on that tough days.

 

Be Good to Yourself

It has definitely been awhile since I’ve last wrote something. I chalk it up to being “too busy” with finishing the end of the semester with grad school (damn lit review) and my job always being incredibly busy at the end of the semester. Usually a something I want to write about comes to me in the shower, while I’m driving or daydreaming. I haven’t felt all that inspired to write anything lately, but with it being the last day in 2014, I figure that I should probably write <em>something</em>.

What’s that? You want another cliche post about end of the year reflections and hopes and dreams for the upcoming year? Cool, I’m here to please.

I’ve already done a lot of reflecting this year as the year was progressing. I will say 2014 was an interesting one. I accomplished many things I’m quite proud about. I lost 30 lbs this year. I became a runner (but really slacked the last three months). I fell in love with my job and my students. It’s weird that I’ve gone two weeks without them so far and I miss them terribly (don’t tell them that). I’m really glad to have let some ideas and people go, but happier that I’ve let some new people into my life and developed new thoughts and ideas for the future.

The greatest thing 2014 has given is books. Lot of books. Specifically, young adult novels. For my graduate program, it required me to read a lot of YA novels and it made me wish I read when I was younger. It would have helped me process being an awkward teenager and maybe I would have made different decisions. I’m glad to being YA now though and I plan to use these books all throughout my career in some way. Reading makes me a feel a way that no one has (or can).

As I look to 2015, all I really want to do is continue to make improvements on what I’ve done in 2014. I would to lose another 30, I would love to read more books and I want to stay dedicated to my happiness. It’s too easy for me get angry, jump to conclusions and get down on myself. It pulls me down to this dark and twisty place (bonus points for knowing that reference) and it’s so hard to get out. The only way out is to be good to myself and the only way to avoid going there is to be good to myself. So, 2015 will the be year of being good to myself.

I’ve made a list that I’ll make copies of and leave places like my office and apartment as daily reminders of how to be good to myself:

  1. Eat & sleep well. Indulge a little.
  2. Enjoy the little things.
  3. Celebrate the little victories even if I’m my own cheering section.
  4. Stop comparing – what other people think of me or do is none of my business.
  5. Exercise regularly for a whole year.
  6. Stop texting so much and call more often.
  7. Let the little things go. If it doesn’t matter in five years then it doesn’t matter.
  8. Never lower my standards for anything. I have standards for a reason.
  9. Never wait for others to encourage me to do something – just do it.
  10. Take a risk. I may live to regret it, but at least I lived.

What’s your list?

I Know I Picked the Right Career and Grad Program

As I sit in a coffee shop (how cliche) working on a lit review, I realized how I picked the right grad program. I was incredibly hesitant to pursue literacy education. With a degree in history education along with social studies teaching certification, I wasn’t all that sure about how literacy fits. Yes, I know it fits. With the implementation of common core and such, I know there is a place for both degrees in a classroom.

However, today as I am reading articles trying to make sure they all fit for the lit review (due Thursday) I got incredibly excited. All of my major themes started to fall into place and I have begun already making connections in my mind about how the paper will turn out. While research has never bored me, I’ve always been more interested in pulling it all together while writing. To take all of these different ideas and make turn it into something is just so very cool to me. I know the nerd in me is showing hardcore, but haven’t you ever done something that you are so passionate about that you can’t help but be pleased knowing you’ve made the right decision?

Ironically, I am unsure if my career will be in the classroom anymore. After taking a job three years ago as residence director, working in higher education in student affairs is so appealing. I get to do all of the things I want to do in the classroom without all of the restrictions, state assessments and grades linking to my effectiveness (a little merit to this one though). This semester alone, I’ve been able to teach RAs and freshmen about the bystander effect through gender roles. In a presentation that I hope would just make me sound somewhat intelligent as to not waste their time, so many students have approached me weeks after saying how much they still think about it or loved it. It blows me away each time because I just wanted to show students a little of what I’m passionate about. I still get to teach and deeply impact students. My supervisor has already talked me about presenting the topic to other professionals in the region at our next conference in June. A person in another department has approached me about creating an undergraduate course related to diversity using the themes I am already presenting. It’s just all so cool.

In a time where I am supposed to be thankful, I am super thankful for how lucky I am to learn what I love and do what I love. I am thankful for this because I acknowledge that not everyone has experienced the feeling of choosing the right job or field of study. It’s gut wrenching. I thought I was wrong for choosing to become an RD and doing a program in literacy education and it crushed me. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it was the right decision all along. I’m not teaching the way I ever imagined it, but I still get to use all the good info I am learning and apply it to college students. It is a little scary because I want to try to classroom at least one. I think what I am doing is just too much fun though.

I can’t wait to see what decision I’ve made come May 2015 when I’ve graduated from the program. Stay tuned!

I Used to Be One of Those Toxic People

In a response to a recent Thought Catalog post, I felt it necessary to write that I used to to be a toxic person and it’s possible to be better.

1. I used to talk more than I listened.

I used to be completely narcissistic. If it didn’t bother me, I didn’t care. I would always listen, but always thinking about what my next point would be. In my current job working with college students where my main job is to listen, I learned value of just being there. Most times, people don’t want advice (unless asked) or my opinion. They just want to speak and speak freely. What I have to say or think rarely matters.

2. I could never be wrong.

I used to think being wrong was a flaw. In the past few years, I learned that being wrong is a moment of growth. If I knew everything, what fun would that be? I embrace now embrace my downfalls. Each one teaches me a valuable lesson about who I am and where I’m going.

3. Drama followed me wherever I went.

There was always something wrong. Always something that would upset me where I could be pissed at each person I came into contact with. Thought Catalog was right that I would always search for an excuse for why advice given to me wouldn’t work or why something could not be fixed. I tend to look on the brighter side of things today. I embrace the comments of others and their thoughts. Each person knows something I don’t. That’s worth something.

4. I forced relationships.

I used to strive for unique relationships with other people. I used to have this thought of what it meant to be in a romantic relationship and what it meant to have a best friend. I would try to manipulate each of those relationships into what I wanted it to be. Today, I understand these things happen on their own. I cannot force a romantic relationship. I cannot force someone to love me or to stay with me even though I’m the most difficult to be with. I cannot force my best friend to talk to me after months of emotional abuse for reasons why they suck. I cannot control everything. This is hard, but I understand the reality of it.

5. My experience is the standard and the only experience that matters.

If I think that waking up early in the morning is the only way to live, then it was the only way to live. If my level of ambition was higher than yours, than you were under achieving. I could not separate that each person has their own experiences and wants that are valid in their own right. I used to think my ex-girlfriend was not striving to be her best because she values slam poetry and would give up everything to write each day without hope of a paycheck. In fact, she was probably braver than me for wanting to chase her true dream. I wish I never told her how she should downplay her slam poetry in a job interview for a job she got and is doing incredibly well. I wish I never thought that she wouldn’t do anything unless I pushed her to. She was braver than me.

6. I often lied.

I  would tell stories that benefited me in some way. My happiness was more important than your happiness. I think back to when my ex girlfriend in our sophomore year of college went to see a friend perform in a show. I made her feel so guilty for not spending time with me and lied that I was sick and how dare she go without me. I was made she was happier than me – having a better time to me. Truth is, it’s no one’s fault that I was miserable except my own. It’s my own fault that I was difficult to be around. No lie or embellishment that makes me sound more interested could change that.

7. I lacked general tack and general courtesy.

Okay, everyone. This is the moment where I admit that what I think doesn’t always have to be said. This where I say that my “brutal honesty” wasn’t always necessary. I lacked empathy. I told it like it was. However, I couldn’t take it when it was directed at me. At some point this the last year, I’ve been able to admit my faults. It’s not easy, but I do it because I know that I’m not always right. I know that not all of my thoughts need to be broadcast and decide that it’s okay because I am “being honest.” I’ve learned to be more courteous to feelings of others beyond my own. This one is seriously hard to write about because my motto used to be, “Whether or not want to know, you’ll always know what I’m thinking.” I should be honest with my feelings, but I don’t have to be mean about it. Lesson learned the hard way multiple times over.

Also, I could have been better with general courtesy regarding my friend Jackie. When I wrote a post awhile back that spoke of all my friends moving, Jackie got offended and rightfully so. I should have been more thoughtful to her situation and how my words could have been seen as an attack against her. Although it wasn’t, it doesn’t change how it made her feel. It should have been me apologizing instead of her apologizing for how she felt.

8. The exhibit controlling behaviors.

Whew, okay. If the last one was hard to talk about, I don’t know what this one will do to me. I had to pour a glass of whiskey.

My ex-girlfriend. Sorry that she’s been the example for much of this, but she’s the one that dealt with the brunt of these behaviors. I needed to control everything in that relationship. If I was sad, I needed her to feel bad for me. If I felt like she didn’t care, I would manipulate the situation until she did. I really wasn’t a bad guy. I just had a lot of growing up to do. I needed to learn that my idea of a relationship wasn’t realistic and I did not do my significant other any favors while I was growing up. My immaturity cost me a great relationship and a great person. It’s hard because without ending that relationship, I am unsure if I would have ever grown as a person.

My ex has been, and will probably continue to be the most unforgettable person I have ever met. This isn’t because I’m not over her  (we’ve been done for almost two years), but the things she’s taught me without even knowing it. She deserves all the happiness in the world. My only regret is that I cost her nearly three years of that.

9. I loved to talk about other people.

Oh, yes. I lived for gossip. Being the hold of gossip meant power. I would use the misfortune of someone else to better my image. It’s not that I would talk negatively about other people, but I would definitely not acknowledge their accomplishments and would rather speak on where they screwed up than what they are getting right.

I strive to be better than the list above. I spent the spring and summer of this year focusing on myself. I stopped paying so much attention to what people thought of me. I started caring about what I thought of me. I didn’t like what I learned in my first few weeks. I worked to change how I viewed me in hopes that others would view me in kinder light was well.

It’s never too late to grow and change. It’s never too late to become who you want to me and acknowledge that you may not have been the best person, but you are working to become a better person.

Happy Birthday to My Father & Sister

This is as close as I will get to actually saying it to them this year. Sadly, I’m one of those sons that hasn’t had contact with their father in a few years. Actually, the last time I talked to my father was September 2011. It was a rocky summer for us that year because I needed a car for student teaching my father refused to help my mom out. It was rough. He felt like he won this major battle by depriving his son of something that was somewhat of a necessity at the time, but I ultimately got a plan together (like I always do) and got my very first car. I think that ate at him inside – no matter what curve balls he throws at me, I always seem to rise above. It’s somewhat of a skill of mine. I don’t take no for an answer when it is something I really, really want. I always find a way.

Well, today my father is one year older. He’s a sadder part – he shares a birthday with my sister. She turns 13 today. I don’t think I’ve seen her since she was seven, maybe eight. My father and I have always had our differences, but it does hurt that I lost that side of the family in the process. My father lives in Pennsylvania now with his wife and two kids. I suppose at some point I always wanted him to fight to keep me close, but never really did. There were some efforts here and there, but nothing that really showed he wanted me part of his life. I have a brother too who is the middle child. He never got along with my dad either, but he got stuck with him while I got to live with my mom on Long Island. There’s only a matter of time before that kid runs away, I’m sure.

Each year I always say I will write him a letter around Father’s Day and his birthday. I never do. I always find some great excuse like this weekend. I was away taking students on a conference in Syracuse. It’s not a real reason and if I really wanted to, I could pick up the phone and call or write. I just don’t think there’s anything left to say and what’s most frightening is that I feel like he would have nothing to say to me. Although I’ve done just fine without him (truly, I am quite proud), there’s always part of me that wonders what that father/son relationship could be like if we tried harder to have it. He always thought that he would hold the cards and that he would be able to stop me from doing what I wanted unless I gave him what he wanted (more phone calls, visits, letters, etc.). I would have been more than willing if he was willing to meet me halfway with the effort.

There’s no pain like a parent expecting (and possibly) hoping for you to fail. There’s no greater satisfaction than beating those odds and doing better than you could have ever dreamed. He may think of me selfish and he may think that I don’t care now (or that I ever have), but today, I do stop and think about him and my sister like I do every year. I always hope that my sister is happy and she’s enjoying the birthday parties someone her age should be enjoying. Although there’s obvious resentment toward my father, I hope that he’s found some happiness as well. Happy Birthday.

Being Independent and Knowing When to Ask for Help

It wasn’t until this past Friday that I realized what it means to be truly independent. Somehow, with my fear of the dentist, I went in to have my wisdom teeth removed. All four – include one cavity that needed to go too. Only an adult willingly goes to the dentist to have five teeth removed at one time. It was in that moment I realized how adult I really am. However, the aftermath made me realize just how independent I am and have been for awhile.

Most people will have a significant other, close friend or family take care of them after that type of procedure. It’s recommended the patient stays with someone for at least 24 hours for the sedative to fully wear off. Living alone six hours away from family, I don’t have a significant other, close friend or any sort of relative nearby to provide that type of care. Being independent also forces you to realize when you need depend on someone else and I had to bite the bullet to ask a co-worker to take me to and from the oral surgeon on Friday. The procedure went well and I had my apartment all set up for my return so all I had to do was sit on my couch with Netflix. Apparently, the anesthesia was awesome and I was bit loopy for about an hour or so after the procedure. I e-mailed my boss’ boss, I texted my ex-girlfriend for the first time in months and I may or may not have called the receptionist an annoying bitch because she kept talking as soon as I woke up. Fortunately, my co-worker has experienced wisdom teeth removal and knew that I would need someone to stay with me awhile. He took some time away from work and sat at my apartment kitchen table while I was on my couch feeling higher than a kite.

Once it wore off, I urged him to go. I was embarrassed he needed to stay in the first place. Since then, I’ve been quite good by myself. I’ve been remember to take medication when I’m supposed to, eating all the right foods and even drove to the grocery store this morning for more mashed potatoes and ice. While I’ve been pretty good so far in my recovery, I couldn’t help but realize that just because I can do things like this alone doesn’t mean I should. I should be a bit more proactive about knowing when I need help and when to ask for it. It doesn’t make me weak or annoying. If the person I ask is annoyed, then I’ve clearly asked the wrong person. I didn’t realize what a good friend I had in my co-worker before this weekend. While I’m proud that I can handle situations like this, it’s nice to know I don’t have to do it alone.