Looking Back, Moving Forward

“This week wants to give you a psychic chisel to help you chip away at the tapes that no longer need playing. Stop letting them play you.”

This quote came directly from my horoscope for this past week (which are totally accurate and spot on, by the way. You can check yours out here).

As some of you may know, I’ve been delving more into the psychic/spiritual world this past week. Learning more about crystals and tarot cards and mediumship…it’s been quite a journey so far. But because of that, I’m finding it hard to believe that the phrase “psychic chisel” is a coincidence. Regardless…

What I really want to focus on is the “chip away at the tapes that no longer need playing / stop letting them play you” part. In other words, it’s okay to look back, but that doesn’t mean you need to go back.

This week has been another week. It’s been filled with so many new things, which is amazing and great, but also overwhelming and stressful. But surprisingly, and not-so-coincidentally, it’s also been filled with so many memories from the past. Call it nostalgia? Or maybe call it unwanted reminders of past experiences that weren’t great.

Regardless of what you call it, I think it’s important to look back and reflect on life. However, you can’t let it consume you either. As the African Sankofa bird depicts, it is possible to look back without going back. The bird’s elegant neck is turned backwards, looking into the past, but her feet are still moving forwards. Yes, it’s possible.

sankofa

Here’s why:

  1. Reflection
    • Reflection is so incredibly important. There is not one universal timeless truth. The younger versions of ourselves may have done some things that were not necessarily the best. At the time, we may have thought so. Or maybe we didn’t know what else to do. But looking back and reflecting, we are able to reevaluate the situation. And maybe you still stand strongly by that action/decision/behavior, or maybe it allows you to reconsider your younger self, and change your perspective on that previous situation.
  2. Grow
    • Reflection leads to growth. Growth stems from the water of reflection. It allows you to provide constructive feedback to yourself about yourself. If you’re anything like me, you may have said before, “I’m always hardest on myself.” For me, that’s true. But reflection also allows you to be the kindest with yourself. Keep in mind, growth is an individual process. If you are reflecting back on a weird friendship or break up, etc, you don’t need to reach out to that person to grow. Reflection is a little more flexible…you can reflect with others or by yourself. But no one can grow for you. This one is solely your responsibility. I know it’s a hard process and sure as hell can feel lonely, but it is so so worth it because you will come out as a stronger person with your head held high.
  3. Move Forward
    • Sometimes, you might realize that a lost love or a disconnected friend is worth trying for all over again. But chances are, there are reasons why those things never worked in the first place. Move forward. Move on. Grow from those experiences. Moving forward can be a difficult process because it feels so final. “I’ve moved on…” implying that there’s no turning back, no reflection. It’s over. Officially. But that’s not necessarily true…because as important as it is to move forward, reflection is a constant process. There will always be room to look back, as long as your feet are moving forward.

I hate the expression, “Move forward and don’t look back!” Because in my mind, I am not able to move forward unless I look back. It’s a part of life to reflect, grow, and move forward. How will you?

(Not) Spinning Out of Control

This week has been a freaking week, let me tell you.

In one week, I visited my sister, caught up with a friend from college, went to an LGBTQ dinner club, went on a really great date, played bananagrams with friends, started rewatching Parks and Rec, AND let’s not forget the best part…I MET LAVERNE COX!!! Yes, it’s true.

But despite all of those really great things, three events stick out the most in my mind:
1. I caught malocchio (the evil eye)
2. I lost my wallet
3. I “forgot” about a Starbucks shift and completely missed it

It’s the rotten apple idea. Why does one apple have to ruin the whole orchard?!

There’s a theme with my three rotten apple moments. I had absolutely no control over anything that happened. Although there were precautions I could have taken, the truth is, I didn’t take them. And in the moment, there was nothing I could do. I could’ve worn my Italian protection charm to bed every night, but I didn’t. I could’ve kept my wallet in my back pocket, but I didn’t. I could’ve triple checked the dates I was working at Starbucks, but I didn’t.

And when I caught malocchio, realized I lost my wallet, and got that call from work, there was nothing I could do. It was too late. Some may see this as a sign…”Michael, you are spinning out of control what the heck is everything okay what’s wrong how can I help?!??” STOP RIGHT THERE. Everything is fine. But sometimes, life sweeps you up. And when you’re being swept up in that tornado of life, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Remember: some things are out of your control
    • Just reminding yourself of this can help. You can tear apart your bedroom, have friends and coworkers search your office, your room, etc. But damn, deep down you know that if you can’t find that wallet, you are out of luck. It’s not going to magically appear after you’ve searched up and down for a week. Once it’s done, it’s done. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all, however, which leads me to point #2.
  2. Utilize your resources 
    • When I found out I had malocchio, I immediately texted my dad. I didn’t care that it was midnight. “Help! I have malocchio!” The curse had been cast, it was already done. But I couldn’t just sit back and let it take it’s toll. The next day, my dad called me and told me that my aunt in Italy confirmed that I did indeed have malocchio, and she was doing her rituals to cast it away. And it worked! Reaching out to other people in your spinning moments can be a good thing.
  3. Take time to grieve the situation
    • This sounds dramatic. “Grieve the situation.” But I’m totally serious. Just because something is out of your control doesn’t mean you can’t (and shouldn’t) talk about it. Everyone I came into contact with last week knows about my lost wallet. And when I realized I looked at the wrong date I was scheduled to work, I was with a friend over an hour away. “Okay, deep breaths,” she said, “And let’s talk through it.” And we did.
  4. Follow up
    • You can bet your ass I’m never going to miss a Starbucks shift again. And I’m going to (try to) be extra extra careful with my wallet next time. If there is any precaution to be had, do it. Try to avoid “a next time.”

Some may see these events as “spinning out of control.” But I’m choosing to see it as a growth opportunity. You live and you learn. Learn from the experiences that are handed to you, even if they are all your fault, or not your fault at all. There is always something to be gained.

“The Grass is Always Greener” by Some Other Me

For anyone that knows me, you know that I am obsessed with musicals. Usually ones I’ve seen. Except this time, If/Then has been playing nonstop on my phone, and I have never seen it. There is this one song in particular, “Some Other Me,” that is just so beautiful. But because I’ve never seen the show, I really have no idea what the character is talking about. Basically, there are multiple paths the character can take in life (like most of us). In this song, she sings about all the other selves she could have been: “Some other me is homeless / some other me is queen / some other me has seen things that no other me has seen.”

Okay, so we got it? It’s beautiful and poetic and everything good.

Elizabeth, the character, is thirty nine years old and sings about all the change happening in her life, which, directly parallels to my experience as a twentysomething. Change, change, dramatic transition, more change, etc. Hearing her sing about it as a 39-year-old makes me depressed about my future…will it always be this way?!! Let’s hope not.

Lately, I’ve been feeling very much in a crossroads. May is ringing close with bells of graduation and I have no freaking idea what I want to do with my life.

During my first year of college, I had a friend say to me once, “I can either see myself living in Manhattan with a high-class job and going to see Broadway shows every week or living in a country in the developing world, volunteering and serving others, with no material possessions whatsoever.”

My response? You’re an idiot. That doesn’t even make sense.

OKAY. Well, it makes sense to me now. So, I apologize about my harsh judgement from six years ago.

It makes sense because I think to all of us, there is “some other me.” Right now, I’m working in higher education and I work with college students and I’m a grad student. But some other me is working full-time at Starbucks in New York City and playing guitar on a street corner and endlessly working to try and publish the latest draft of my book. Some other me is living in Europe, going to the fresh open markets every week, walking through the city districts in my tailored suit to get to my office on time. Some other me is happy in all areas of my life.

And despite all those grown-ass adults telling me “it’s completely normal to hate your job,” I refuse to believe it. I absolutely refuse to believe it until I am an old withered man who has to drag myself to and from an office every day. Disclaimer, I don’t hate my job. I just think there might be a better fit for me out there in the world somewhere. People who think it’s “normal” to “hate their job” are people who have settled, and I won’t give up hope.

It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of life, but I like to think that I am an optimistic person and try to stay as positive as possible. However, is it so wrong to think that some other me might not have to try so hard to find those positive aspects of my life?

Maybe the grass really is greener. Or maybe it’s dry dirt painted in a vibrant shade of life. Either way, there’s something to be said about trying and finding out for yourself…isn’t there?

50 (Twentysomething) First Dates

We all know the movie with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, right? If not, here’s what you need to know: Drew Barrymore has short-term memory loss. She goes on 50 dates with Adam Sandler, but each one feels like a first date because said short-term memory.

Okay, well living the twentysomething life is kind of like that, except instead of all of us having short-term memory loss, this is a time filled with 50 literal first dates.

Now, don’t worry…this isn’t a blog post where I’m going to brag about how many dates I’ve gone on recently. And to be honest, I have more fingers on my left-hand than I do number of dates I’ve been on in the past year. But something weird happened this past week. A customer at Starbucks slipped me their number. A first! And an all-time barista goal. So for that, I am proud.

So I went on the date. Coffee. Casual. But I was shocked to hear the phrases that were coming out of my mouth. Instead of my usual small talk (“What’s your favorite color? If you could be any animal, what would you be? Tell me about your first pet.”), I was asking much more pointed questions. What social justice issues are you involved with? How are you involved in your community? What are your  goals?

And maybe it’s because I’m older and more mature, or maybe it’s just because I really don’t give a fuck what your favorite color is, but I’m past the point of small talk on first dates. Like, I get it. It’s casual, it’s polite, it’s conversation. But it’s kind of like the classic card game, “Go Fish.” If you don’t have the cards I’m looking for, you can Go Fish because ain’t nobody got time to swim around with a fish that isn’t the right one for you.

Needless to say, this person was not asked back out on a second date. Sorry, but not sorry.

For most of my twentysomethings, in regards to dating, I’ve felt hopeless, single to a fault, and lonely AF. And why wouldn’t I? The majority of people around me are either married with kids or in long-term committed relationships with the person they’ve been in love with forever and ever. And there is nothing wrong with that, at all, but when that’s all you have to compare yourself to, it’s hard. But “comparison is the thief of joy,” am I right Theodore Roosevelt?

But it doesn’t have to be complete opposites: married with kids or single and lonely. Why can’t it be single until you find the person you’re looking for that makes you happy? Well, now it can be. This blog post is official permission for myself and everyone who reads it to be single and loving it. Maybe I just needed a reminder of what I wasn’t looking for…because I’d rather be single than with someone who is completely uninspired by the world around them.

What’s cool about being a twentysomething though is this: I finally feel like I know what I’m looking for. Which, ironically enough, means that just as I start going out on more dates, I start to feel okay with being single. Weird, right?

So if you know any goal-oriented, inspired, and relatively attractive people, feel free to send them my way. But in the mean time, I think I’ll be okay with going on 50 first dates.