When you bury yourself
In other people’s expectations
And your own self-doubt
You lose yourself
When you give up expectations
Stop trying to run and hide
And embrace who you are
Everything is clear
Are we more creatures of habit,
Or habits of creature?
We like to pretend that we have routines,
Decisions made every day to control our lives.
What about our monkey mind?
When are we making our own decisions
Versus tapping into our primal urges
And acting on instinct?
Creatures of habit are boring
Mundane, ducklings in a file line
Following along in lockstep
Trying not to stand out
Habits of creature are real
Visceral responses to a habitual world
Allowing us to flex
And become mighty
We lose our curiosity by age 12. I read that in another Medium article by Danny Forest. It’s a fantastic article about reinvention, and you should definitely read it. But it sparked in me a visceral reaction. “I still ask a million questions about everything.”
I’m not certain that I’m the outlier, but I do know there are people who absolutely lose their curiosity by age 12. And that scares the shit out of me.
That means that there are high school students who are done challenging themselves. That’s not to say that they won’t learn anything new. But it does mean that they are done challenging what is being presented as true.
As Danny Forest explains further, school does a great job of giving every type of student the exact same information. That’s how we end up with good students and “bad” students. It’s reminiscent of the Albert Einstein adage about how we judge people’s abilities.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I could go down a rabbit hole about how broken the United States educational system is, but I’ll save that for another time. But the adage highlights how we must not only adjust how we teach other people but also how we learn from others.
So how do we become eternal students if it doesn’t come naturally to us? These are the things that I notice when my curiosity strikes and I believe can help unlock your student mind.
This one is arguably the most important thing. It’s easy to learn without asking questions. It’s more beneficial to learn by asking questions. Even as a kid, I questioned everything. And I don’t just mean a simple “Why?”
I always hated math class (ironic because I now love working with numbers). But I used to wonder how much of algebra, calculus and the like that I would actually use in my everyday life once I got older (spoiler: none of it).
The same is true of my life now. Any time I’m presented with new information, I want to know more. I love playing devil’s advocate to see the other side of a situation and attacking every angle.
It slows my decision-making process sometimes, but I always feel like I’ve made the right decision when I do.
I was recently listening to a podcast that highlighted this skill perfectly. On Rich Roll’s podcast episode with Alex Banayan last June, Alex told the story about his pursuit of Bill Gates for an interview. It’s a long, winding road and I highly recommend the podcast.
The part that stuck out with me was when Bill Gates’ Chief of Staff told him no. Alex was attempting to write what eventually became his book, The Third Door, and was trying to interview Gates for the book.
When Gates’ Chief of Staff told him no, he also said that if Alex could get a book deal and some momentum, he’d reconsider it. So while Alex got a no, he also was told exactly what he needed to do to get a yes.
Very rarely will anyone tell you no without an explanation as to why. The why is exactly what you’re looking for in this situation. The why is what you need to gain in order to get the yes.
Google is your best friend. We can find any information that we want if we search for it. I have a rule: if I have a thought and want more information about something, even something “meaningless”, I Google it.
I’ve always wanted to write. When I was a teenager, it was poetry. Through my early to mid 20’s, it was blogging and shorter pieces. And for the last year or two, my focus has been on novels and longer form pieces. And to be honest, there was a bit of imposter syndrome with those ventures. I’d start them, but I’d struggle with my own self-doubt and they fizzled.
Again, I knew I wanted to write, but these more straightforward methods weren’t clicking. So, I googled. I searched for ways to express myself that weren’t those traditional paths. And I stumbled upon screenwriting.
I love well-done movies and television, and I love the marriage of writing combined with the visual representation of those words. It’s something that I dove headfirst into and I don’t have the imposter syndrome feeling. It feels like home.
Always verify your sources when using Google. There are a lot of pages of information, but only some of them are accurate and factual. Do. Your. Research.
Begin from a place of what you know for sure, and work out from there. I knew FOR SURE that I wanted to write. The problem wasn’t the writing, it was the outlet. Having an awareness of what you DO know allows you to only pursue what you don’t.
If you are about to start a business and you know a lot about the day to day operations but a lot less about marketing, which are you going to study? It does you no good to ignore the marketing aspect because you’re going to need both.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to get better at something you are good at, but there is sometimes more to be gained by taking something that is a zero and making it of value.
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Being an eternal student isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. What is easy is existing in what is known, never trying to grow beyond that safe space.
Resolutions, intentions or whatever you choose to call it, the new year inevitably brings about change. Each year is a blank canvas on January 1, of which we have total control over what type of pen, pencil or brush we use. We can make it black and white, with shading or without, or with an explosion of colors. We are the artist, and every day we add to our creation.
Resolutions have started to develop a negative connotation. They are viewed as much more of a pass/fail system. Intentions are a little less intense, viewed more as a behavior to work on instead of a goal that is either met or not achieved.
I know my new year will not be filled with resolutions, and if you want to look at them as intentions, go crazy. I prefer to think about 2019 as my year of growth. I’ve spent the past six years in a whirlwind of indecision, learning decisions, and trying to find my right path. 2019 is the year I start applying my gained knowledge. It is time to start increasing my gains. #gainz
I have four things that I will be gaining this upcoming year. No matter what happens this year, I will be accepting these things into my life. How do I know? Because for six years, someone else has been painting my picture. I’ve pushed Bob Ross out of the way and I’ve got the brush now.
A Clear Inner Voice
With 2018 firmly in the rearview, I can safely say that the thing that I’ve started doing most is listening to myself. It’s easy to get lost in the everyday bullshit of what to wear, who’s talking about who, and which show Netflix is releasing this month. It’s hard to hear through all that noise. But listening to yourself in the quiet moments, when it’s just you and your thoughts, that’s your inner voice.
Listening to what your core being is crying out for is game-changing. I feel like I’ve spent 28 years totally unaware that there was another person inside of me. That when I started to hear him, he grew hope that there was a way out. That he grew stronger as I fed him and took more care of him. And now, he’s strong. He’s ready for the real world, using the pain and lessons learned from my first spiritual vessel to be the best version of himself now.
How can you take care of yourself if you don’t know your true self? Taking care of two vessels has been exhausting. Feeding one person is a lot cheaper (in time currency) than feeding two, and now I’ll have a lot of free time.
That means more time for meditation, new opportunities to learn about everything I have questions about such as chakras, crystals, digging in deep on astrology, tarot and new ways to take care of myself. I’ve been lighting candles at night and received a weighted blanket over the holidays. It’s already making noticeable changes.
I want to experiment with things like oils and other natural remedies. I don’t have any drastic medical issues, but I want to take better care of my physical and spiritual self because I deserve it. We all deserve better self-care.
My Decision Making
My entire life, I’ve been a second slow. I’ve usually been picked on because I don’t have a sharp comeback at the ready at any given point. Over the last ten years, I’ve certainly gotten more quick-witted, but I now view that as a weakness. “A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of sheep.”
In my pursuit to end the back and forth with people, I’ve started to drift the other direction, sometimes being too harsh. That is weakness. That is my insecurity throwing up a shield to stop the barrage. But it’s not just in social interactions that I have a more visceral response.
I have a massive sweet tooth. It gets me in trouble when I’ve tried various forms of eating better. Inevitably, someone will offer me a sweet, or I’ll wander down the candy aisle in the grocery, and before I’m even paying attention to what I’m actually deciding, I’m in my car eating a Twizzler.
Letting your subconscious make decisions for you is a losing game in every aspect of your life. Listening to your true self and making decisions with the best information you have is the key.
Control Over My Destiny
As stated above, someone else has been painting my picture each year for a while now. Grabbing that brush this year has been unnerving at times, even a little scary. But it’s also empowering. Just like with any new venture, there will be times of self-doubt, of hardship. But there will also be moments of pure joy, strength, and accomplishment.
In 28 years, I’ve never felt this at peace with my decisions. I’m on my right path and it’s because I started listening to myself. I can’t stress enough how game-changing that was. I’ve had a lot of mentors along the way. Women like Robin Arzon, Jameela Jamil, Tala Ashe, Candice Burt, Mirna Valerio, Lena Waithe, and many more. Men like Rich Roll, Jedidiah Jenkins, David Goggins, Wim Hof, Preston Smiles, Gary Vaynerchuk, and many others as well. If you don’t recognize some of the names, look them up. You won’t regret it.
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Regardless of the changes you want to invite into your life this year, I wish you luck. More important than anything for our long-term survival is our need to find a sense of community and looking out for each other. We have to have the back of our fellow human before we can make a lasting change toward a better future. So happy holidays, and remember that we all have the keys to our own destiny. Let’s fucking go.