Why I Quit Everything

Why I Quit Everything

This year I quit everything.

Okay, maybe not everything, but most things.

I came into college wanting to do things. Every single thing in fact. I spent much of my college career actively involved in every student organization, every event, every opportunity that I could be. I was checking off boxes. Boxes on a checklist called the ‘perfect college experience.’ My Google calendar looked like a checkerboard, every hour accounted for, color coded, segmented into perfection. My life was made up of little boxes. Suddenly, everything felt like an obligation. Things that I used to love, I dreaded. I wandered from box to box, waiting for it to be over. I was thinking 8 boxes ahead at all times, I was never existing now.  My life was a to-do list and as soon as I checked one thing off, I added three more. I was losing at my own life. And I was choosing it.

 

Why?????

 

For a long time, I didn’t ask that question. I accepted that this is what I had to do to succeed. I slept less, I was sick more, coffee ran through my veins at the speed of light. I was buzzing, electrified and miserable. Ambition had turned into obsession. I had almost completed the checklist, I was ‘succeeding.’ And I realized after 3 years, this was not my checklist anymore, it was someone else’s.

I think that we often confuse busy-ness for success. I thought a colorful GCal meant I was doing something right. I had places to be, meetings to attend, projects to finish. But at the end of the day, I was not sparkling, I was exhausted. I had accomplished almost nothing in this frenzied chaos to succeed. My mind was messy, not meaningful. I had no clear direction, I was spiraling in a million directions and to be quite honest, not doing particularly well at any of them. Productivity doesn’t mean much if you don’t really care about what you’re producing.

What I want to tell you is: STOP. Stop, breathe, calibrate. Look at your day, divided into pretty colors and think about whether any of that actually added any value to your life or to the world.

If you cannot talk for more than 15 minutes about why you are doing something, stop doing it.

Here are some quick reasons that are not a valid why:

  1. everyone else is doing it
  2. you think that you ‘should’
  3. it will look good on a resume
  4. you are able to do it
  5. someone told you that you need to
  6. you want to look good to other people

If any of those things are your why: quit it. Drop it. Gone.

Rest itself is an action, not a lack thereof. There is nothing glamorous or impressive about burnout. Trust me. Free time is so, so important. It’s when I create, connect, rest. Free time shouldn’t be a rigid obligation, penciled in between everything else where you finally remember to eat a meal. Free time doesn’t count if it’s you eating a meal of pretzels while multi-tasking on your laptop.

My senior year I quit everything that was not adding value to my own life or to the world. And I have never been happier. The world did not end, no one hated me, most people probably didn’t even notice I was gone and I was finally, finally free.

I’m still busy. But with things I love. None of it feels like an obligations. I stopped “should-ing” and started choosing. I have time to read books, to write, to sleep, to think, process, plan. All of the things I had forgotten that I needed to do. I am better at everything I do now. I’m moving in a steady and consistent direction towards a career I’m really, really excited about. I feel balanced and at peace for the first time in maybe my entire life. Cool things keep happening because I’ve decided to attract cool things. I’m happy, healthy and for the most part, I’m pretty sane! Do more by doing way, way less.

Our time is so finite. Our energy is so precious. Stop handing it all out like cheap candy. Be picky. Hang on to your magic and disperse it effectively on things that make you happy to be alive. There is nothing lazy about laying on the couch and regaining your sanity. It’s brave. And so necessary if we are going to keep fighting the good fight.

I have finally chosen my life and it’s a beautiful, liberating feeling. Please, please choose yours.

 

Thrift Diary #2

I’m still working on finding my favorite thrift places in Columbus but I recently went to Volunteers of America on Indianola and found some goods. Check it out for inspo for what to look for on your next trip:

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This little pot/container/thing was made in Japan in 1978 and I just threw a plant in it! ($0.99)

 

 

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This beautiful, soft blue chair was $11 (!!!) and though I definitely did not have room for it in my car and had to drive home with it hanging haphazardly out of my trunk, I needed it. Thrift stores are my favorite for vintage furniture that’s high quality and adds so much character to a space.

What Surprised Me Most

What Surprised Me Most

what surprised me most is how not different we are. i pictured far away places where everything was crazy and odd and strange. but when i got there it wasn’t that crazy or odd or strange. people were still laughing and going to school and wanting to be around more people. buses still roared and kids still threw tantrums and two old ladies still sat in the cafes gossiping. businessmen still strutted in navy suits and babies still waved behind embarrassed moms and middle school boys still made a scene on the metro. everyone was still running towards a thing or studying for a test or looking really hard for something somewhere. there are different food and buildings and sounds and pants and all kind of things i thought there would be but underneath there are still busy, scared, searching humans that might not understand what i mean when i say excuse me but know exactly what i’m saying when i point at gelato.

How To: Blog

How To: Blog

So lately, I’ve gotten a few questions from other people interested in starting their own little thing on the internet. I’m not an expert in anything, ever but these are a few of the things I’ve learned in my three years of writing down stuff and putting it online for fun:

Why?

So figuring out the why is crucial when beginning any new endeavor. A valid why allows you to create authentic and meaningful content. For me, I do this whole thing for myself more than anything else. It’s fun to me, it’s a hobby I truly enjoy and it’s what I do when I don’t want to do anything else. It’s also a place for me to keep track of my life so I can look back and remember what the heck was happening when I was twenty. It’s a grasp at permanence in a very impermanent world and a chance to put all the things I think down on a white background. There’s at least 7 billion different reasons to do this. Figure out your own because defining the why sets a template for your vision.

How?

I use WordPress as the content management system for my blog. There are lots of different options available like SquareSpace, Winx, etc. but I’ve found WordPress to be intuitive, inexpensive, flexible and simplistic enough to get what I want done without a lot of coding knowledge. WordPress allows you to customize your domain and site design for minimal fees and it’s also easy to learn for beginners. There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube about WordPress to teach you about things like tagging, best practices for online sharing and site design tips. I’ve basically learned how to be alive from Youtube tutorials so I 10/10 recommend.

Who?

We live in a day and age where internet safety and responsibility has been pounded into our heads since middle school. The same rules that apply for social media obviously apply here too. Create content that you would want your grandma or future employer to see. Because they probably will. Your digital brand can make or break you and this is an opportunity to create your own narrative. Sharing online is a fine balance between authenticity and personal privacy and it’s also different for everyone. Share responsibly kids.

When?

Consistency is important. I know a lot of people who start these things and then get bored and don’t post for months or years. Like anything, you get better the more you practice. Posting schedules work well for some people, not so well for others. There’s a feature on WordPress (and most other platforms) that allows you to pre-schedule a post for a set time and date. This is useful during crazy times like finals or holidays but also not completely necessary. How often you post is up to you but I recommend maintaining a certain level of consistency for yourself, as well as everyone else.

What?

Write what you write. This is the most wonderful part of being alive in the 21st century aside from probably modern medicine, increased personal hygiene and Netflix. There has never been less of a barrier to entry in the world of publishing. This is a platform to speak truths or jokes or make stuff up. Share your lens and translate it to pixels on a webpage. People might love it or hate it or think you’re wasting a lot of time. Welcome to being alive. Create your own stuff, take inspiration from others and do your own thing.


This is a very brief overview on a very beautiful and intricate thing. My best advice is to just go for it, even if you have no idea what you’re doing. Especially, if you have no idea what you’re doing. Get brave. It’s definitely an intimidating thing, sharing your thoughts publicly for critique, putting words in different orders to be read by who knows who. But it changes you. There are marketable skills to gain, fascinating people to meet and a whole world of 1s and 0s for the taking.

 

 

 

Coffee

Coffee

At the beginning of this school year, I was tired. I was interning at a nonprofit trying to better the world in some small way but was seeing little to no results. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to save the planet via a temporary internship at a local nonprofit organization but I was surrounded by people there who truly wanted nothing more than to do that; tirelessly, constantly, incessantly. And all the while, the world felt like it was falling apart. A summer of immigration bans and failed climate agreements and terrorist attacks and mass shootings and political turmoil piled up around me.

The problem with wanting to fix things is that sometimes you kinda can’t. It’s out of scope, unrealistic, untimely or too late. And that feels like failure and that turns into exhaustion. So by the end of the summer I had given up, I was just tired of caring so much about everything.

The thing about passion is that it’s fire; a burning that gives you energy and makes your eyes light up and your Leslie Knope come out. But the thing about passion is that it’s fire; it can burn out if you don’t give it any fuel.

I was burnt out. Passion had given way to apathy.

I was trying to figure out how to shift my career plan before it was too late, to something easier, something I wouldn’t have to care so much about, something that wouldn’t take so much soul or burn so much of my fire.

You’ve probably heard the old adage like,

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy.

‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment and ego.’

He continued, ‘The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf will win?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.”

Cut to a night when I was begrudgingly watching the Disney movie Tomorrowland with my family at home; half paying attention, half online shopping. This little parable was enough to pull my consciousness from the FreePeople website. I had heard the analogy many times, from many sources, all citing various old men who said this– probably none of them very accurate. But I’d never thought about it in a societal context before.

The whole movie is about saving the world from the futuristic apocalypse– of course. It was about finding the “dreamers”, the people who hadn’t given up on fixing the world yet. And by finding these dreamers who still believed they could do it, they inevitably saved the world in classic Disney fashion. They started feeding the right wolf.

This kind of hope is hard to maintain. There are some days that I wholeheartedly believe that I am somehow contributing in a small way to fix a small problem and that piece by piece, the world will be made better. But there are also days that I feed the other wolf. The wolf that has given up, complains about society on social media, points fingers, finds the bad in everything and tries to stay out of the whole mess, while doing nothing to fix it– therefore contributing to the monster. It is my scariest demon, this apathy. Wars aren’t won by passion, they are lost by indifference.

But over the course of this semester I have given myself a chance at more fuel– fuel so passion can burn. Take it in, soak it up, turn the sunlight into life. Fuel is the small successes. The things that work. It won’t be everything. They might not even be truly significant in the grand scheme of things. Little victories and sparks and proof that what we’re doing, it really does work. Slowly, surely, sometimes backwards, but there are golden days when it works.

This is what scares me most: that we might grow into our indifference like grey hair and wrinkled skin. That we will give up before we get anywhere. I almost did and some days I still almost do. That’s the real danger. Not icebergs melting and mutual assured destruction (okay, actually those are really, really scary and I’m terrified but I’m just trying to make a point). The real danger is that we leave the fixing to someone else. That we accept the bad things about this planet and look at our phones instead. That we bury our heads in memes and macchiatos and reality TV. That we become too damn exhausted to try anymore.

Keep drinking coffee.

This Brave New Year

This Brave New Year

i am ready for 2018 / not because 2017 was bad / but because 2018 sounds brave / a bracelet on my wrist says fearless / not because i am / but because i want to be /

This year I read the book The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. I was gifted this book by a mentor/boss/friend and it came into my life at the perfect time. I was spinning out, existential crisis mode threat level midnight as a junior in college panicking about the next decade of my life as one typically does on a Monday mid-morning. The basic premise of the book (because you should read it yourself here’s the amazon link go ahead kid) is that we are taught our entire lives to set our goals and resolutions based on outcomes. We picture the end result and we work towards that thing. If you’re in college, think the dreaded S.M.A.R.T. goal. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely, Vomit. RT if you never want to hear the words SMART goal ever again in your young life.

But Danielle challenges you to do this whole goal thing different. Instead of picturing the  final outcome (which is typically overwhelming and daunting and I usually panic and quit before I can even begin said thought process), it is better to think of how you want to FEEL at then end of the process. The reason that we do anything, literally anything, okay, is because of how we think it will make us feel. Since the beginning of time, this is how human behavior has worked. Eat a cupcake, sleep until noon, work out every single day, major in geology, learn Chinese, skip yoga, have a kid, pay for the person behind you at Mcdonalds, spend too much money on coffee, whatever. We are chasing some kind of feeling. We act in a certain way because of the feeling we will receive, whether that be a sense of accomplishment, energy, independence, pride, health or to be entertained, enlightened, inspired, empowered. All of this is an attempt at this end goal of happiness. With me? Danielle argues that if we set goal and resolutions based on how we want to feel rather than what we want to achieve simply because we think it will make us feel this way, we will be more successful in this endeavor as well as actually enjoy the process.

So think words. Write down words that are right for you, right now in this nanosecond in time. Picture that person you want to be, people you admire, moments when you felt like Beyonce and Ruth Bader Ginsberg mixed into one.

See ya never SMART goals!!!

I am absolutely done defining a life by arbitrary resolutions that I was forced to write down as a part of a group exercise and then share out in front of strangers. Work towards your own words instead. For me this year, they are brave, creative and whole. Defined on my own terms for me by me. You can have 3 words or 67 words if that’s your vibe. To keep in the back of your mind or tattoo on your forehead. This is 2018 people, opportunities are endless, go crazy.

To 2017, may she get the brief history book summary she deserves.

To 2018, cheers to a brave new year.