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.

Relationships Make Me Nervous

A year and a half of being single and I would like to think I’ve got a handle on this being single thing. I went through all the ranges of emotion following my relationship. I was ecstatic at first because of I felt like a Mack truck was lifted off of me. I was a little sad because I really did lose my person – she is the only one to this day who can probably tell you what I think about something before I’m given a chance to think. I was angry because why didn’t she fight to keep the relationship going (in retrospect, she did this with full effort for months). I was disappointed with myself because once I realized what my mistakes were (oh, there were many) I wanted to rewind and have another go. Finally, I’m in a place where I am content with it all. I feel that we needed to end things. It would be so much easier if I was angry with her – I’m not. I always hope that she finds better and finds someone that can give her all the things I couldn’t because no one deserves it more. So, now, that means it is ultimately my turn to finally move on past it all.

Truthfully, I really have tried. I started to find peace within myself and be happy with who I am. I spent a lot of time seeking happiness from other people and things that I ultimately would end up sad in the end. Now, happiness isn’t limited to that one awesome day or that one awesome text. I’ve gotten so much better with finding joy in each day and with doing little things just for me. Sometimes that means a big spending spree at Target or treating myself to coffee instead of making it myself. Everyone always said that I needed to work on myself before I truly moved on and it is definitely still a work in progress.

After a summer filled of first dates (some second dates) and awkward text message, I feel pretty confident in stating that I’m ready to actually be in a committed relationship. The issue is – I’ve gotten way too comfortable with being alone. With relationships, I work on full blast or nothing. There are days where I think there’s no way I can be with someone again because I love my alone time too much. Other days, I’m naming our future kids. The truth is, I really just met this person and I am terrified of the unexpected. In my last relationship, we were friends before we were dating and it was a seamless transition for the most part. I really don’t know how to do that take-it-slow-and-it-will-build-into-something approach. I’m not saying that we need to get married next weekend, but I am never sure how slow is too slow. I suppose it is not an exact science and whatever is meant to be will be. In the meantime, relationships are weird and make me nervous.

Here’s the thing. I dive in head first. Each and every single time. I can’t help it – it’s who I am. I’m so guarded that when I see a good opportunity to just go for it, I do. I know that this has a high chance of me getting hurt in the end. It’s just that I can’t navigate the waters with someone who is taking it slow after I’ve already made the dive. It’s neither one of our faults – just that we have different expectations and different ways of getting involved. I keep telling myself that I will stop putting too much other there too soon, but I am reminded that there are no rules to dating. I know as the guy I am supposed to act not interested, but I can’t help it. When I really like you, I want you to know it. In my world, there’s no reason to keep that a secret and take it slow.

Do I Have to Make a New Year’s Resolution?

Yes, yes I do. New Year’s resolutions are usually a list of disappointments that I am going to find in four months and then again in a year when I realize I maybe accomplished one of the things on that list. I am little bit more determined this year because there are things I actually want to do. I want to continue to be awesome in grad school. I want to be so kick-ass at my job that my supervisors can honestly say how proud they are of my work. I want to find who really is my friend and will be here with me in fifty years. To find that out, I need to be a better friend. However, making a list a mile long is what leads to disappointment. I need a concise resolution and I think I know what it is. Here’s fair warning: my resolution is corny and unoriginal. You may actually laugh and judge me. If you do laugh and judge, it’s one of the reasons why I need to make this resolution and hold myself accountable. For the first time in a long time, I want to be happy and love myself.

Simple, right? I believe that if being happy and loving myself is the goal, all of the other things I mentioned will follow. This resolution will force me to figure out what it means for me to happy. I’ve got a bit of a head start on that though. So far, it means me not depending on anyone else for my own happiness or waiting for something to happen to me to be happy. I didn’t think I used to do this, but I definitely do – I wait to have something to look forward to instead of giving myself something to look forward to. I need to be the one that can bring excitement to my life. As far as loving myself goes, this is by far the toughest one. I have gotten much better with this, but still have a long way to go. I’ll be honest and say a decent part of this is appearance based. I’ve gotten comfortable with knowing I’m a larger guy, but I don’t love the way I look. It is not because I’m shallow or because society tells me I’m too big, but because I know I don’t have to be. I know if I consistently put in the hard work the results will come. So at this time, I don’t love myself this way. I don’t love worrying about health risks and if I really need that cookie. I hope in a year, I can love myself a bit more because I set out to accomplish a difficult task and I did it. Support me!

This past year has had the most incredible ups and downs. I’ve made no secret in saying that twenty three has sucked hardcore. I’ve definitely had some really bright moments, but on the whole, I’m disappointed with the past year. A friend kept asking me why I’ve been feeling this way and I’ve realized its an overall disappointment with myself. I feel like I haven’t been the best person. Friends are so important to me and I haven’t been that great to them. So, with being happier and loving myself in 2014, I want to work to be a better person not just for myself, but for other people. This means making amends, but taking huge risks. I want the thrill of taking a risk and being okay when I fail and feeling awesome when I get it right. I told you that this would be corny and cheesy and I am probably making a resolution that millions of other people are making, but it means something to me. What’s most important is that I feel that it is an attainable goal. Wish me luck!