RE: For When You’re Spinning Out of Orbit

This has been such an interesting week. You know those weeks where you just feel like everything has been turned upside down, tossed around, shaken up…and then just when you think you’re starting to settle back down, you get thrown across the room? Yeah, that’s how this entire semester has felt so far. “The planets are misaligned” has been my excuse. Which, I must acknowledge, is a very passive stance, just sitting still and hoping they would hurry their ass up and realign so I can continue about my “normal” life.

But so many things have happened recently, good things. The snow in the snow globe is finally drifting back to a resting point. Maybe the planets are realigning themselves as we speak. But I must admit, for a while, it was a little turbulent. And three quotes in particular have stuck out to me during all this:

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” –Shake It Out, Florence and the Machine
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Albus Dumbledore
“But still, like air, I’ll rise.” –Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

What do all of these quotes have in common? Well, basically, life will be dark at times, but there is always a light. There will always be an upswing. If you contribute positively to the universe, the universe will contribute positively to you.

To share some of my own “blah” from the past few weeks (and I’ll keep it short), things haven’t been great. Not THE WORST, but not the best either, you know? Spiritually, I’ve felt completed blocked. But I signed up for a tarot class this past week and as soon as I walked into the room, I felt so much lighter. Friend situations have been rough, but this week in particular, it seems like I’ve received a flood of love and support, which has been incredible. Much needed chats and catch ups, and friends just being good friends. And on an academic note, I have my comprehensive exams this weekend (aka, hello here’s a 20-page paper to write over the weekend: GO!). But even with that, I’ve been the most productive this weekend, having written most of it by Friday night, and still having time to go to the gym, watch Parenthood, and write for fun. It rocks.

The thing that strikes me as peculiar about all this is that the things that made me feel better during this misalignment were things that I didn’t really want to do in the first place. I was hesitant to take a tarot class because it costs money and it’s “weird.” And I love my friends, but sometimes we all get wrapped up in our separate lives. And then of course, no one “wants” to take the comp exams.

And yet, it’s these things that made me feel the light again. The dawn. The happiness. The rise. And maybe the message is this: sometimes, it’s the things that we don’t want to do the most that we get the most joy from. Does that even make sense? Like going to the gym, for example, or eating healthy. It’s not my favorite thing in the entire universe, but I definitely feel good afterwards. Or grad school. It’s hard AF sometimes, but I know I’m going to walk away a better person with a great education.

I guess I don’t really have any “steps” this week…no helpful “tips and tricks.” Maybe it’s more a tiny source of inspiration. If you are ever feeling like the planets aren’t aligning for you, maybe it’s just the darkness before the dawn. Maybe someone just needs to turn on the light. And like air, you too will rise.

2015: A Year in Review

Well hello everyone, and Happy New Year to you all! Last week, I wrote a blog post about preparing for the new year. With all the hype, I didn’t have much of a chance to reflect on this past year, especially in regards to my blog. Luckily, WordPress created an annual report for me!

Looking back at my blog this year, I wrote 49 blog posts (one for every week since I started blogging) with more than 5,000 views in 27 different countries. For a guy who just decided one day to start writing a random blog about the twentysomething experience, THIS IS SO COOL! So, what better way to reflect back on this past year of blogging than with a recap of my top favorite posts? Reading back, these were the top 25 lessons I learned and wrote about in 2015.

  1. Try something new.
  2. Do something you love, regardless of what anyone else says.
  3. Embrace change.
  4. Celebrate life.
  5. Home is not a concrete term. It doesn’t signify a building or a town, and it’s possible that the idea of “home” will change over time.
  6. You are a person, outside of work.
  7. So much can change in one year.
  8. Life is a roller coaster. What goes up, must come down. And just when you think the ride is over, that’s when you need to hang on the tightest.
  9. Treat Yo Self! (special cred. to Parks & Rec).
  10. Your future self will thank your twentysomething self if you work out, eat healthy, and take care of your body.
  11. It’s unlikely to know everything about yourself. The important thing is to be aware and reflect on who you are.
  12. Holidays as a twentysomething are completely different
  13. You can always change your mind…in everything. Career, friends, Friday night plans. It’s okay to change your mind.
  14. Find meaning in everything.
  15. You can only “grin and bear it” for so long.
  16. Splitting yourself into multiple identities and personalities won’t do anyone any good, especially yourself. Instead, work on congruence: blending all of your selves into one.
  17. Everything in moderation
  18. Ride the wave. If you try and fight it…you’re going to get pushed down.
  19. Money is important, but so are fun times with friends.
  20. Move forward, but don’t forget to look back.
  21. Find a mentor (or multiple mentors).
  22. There is no “right” way into adulthood.
  23. Your passions are the things that keep you awake at night. Follow these things.
  24. Break the awkward twentysomething silence. Believe me, no matter how absurd or embarrassing, you are not alone.
  25. We live, we learn, and we grow.

And with that, from one twentysomething to another, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful start to the new year. With these lessons in mind, I promise there will be plenty more twentysomething posts to come!

And on a related side note, I have some big things coming your way for Twentysomething Months! Make sure to stay on the lookout, and I’ll keep you all posted! 🙂

With blog love and New Year’s magic,
Michael

Happiness in Just Three (Easy) Steps!

This past week, as some of you may know, I was at a conference for work with other student affairs professionals. When I returned to work on Thursday, people asked, “How was it?!” I responded with one phrase: “life-changing.”

“Why?!” everyone asks.

My scripted (and entirely true response): “It was life-changing because I felt educated, inspired, and connected.”

Over the course of this past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about why those three feelings contributed to the overarching sense of “life-changing.” And as I thought about it, I realized that these three feelings – educated, inspired, and connected – were also relevant to a twentysomething life. Maybe even life in general for people of all ages. Here’s why:

  1. Educated
    • At the conference, I learned something at almost every single session I attended. For other conference goers, you know how rare that is! But after each session, I walked away with pages of notes and dozens of new ideas to bring back to my campus. Student affairs professionals like to use to term Lifelong Learners, and it applies to all of us. Having a feeling of growth is a major component to happiness, and that includes your brain. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, suggests picking up three new magazines every month that you would have never read otherwise. Or watching a documentary on something that interests you and learning even more about it. Either way, the point is to learn. Forever. Becoming a life-long learner will absolutely contribute to your happiness.
  2. Inspired
    • The amount of times my job has come up through the course of this blog might be one too many, but here’s a plot twist: after this conference, I LOVE MY JOB! And more than that, I love the field of work that I am currently doing. It was a reminder of why I’m doing the work that I’m doing, and why I love it so much. So how do you start to feel inspired when you are feeling completely lack-luster? Well, I would ask yourself, why? Why am I doing this job? What made me want to do this job in the first place? If that doesn’t fill you with passion and inspiration, maybe it’s time to reconsider. Another idea is to check back in with yourself about your goals. When you first started at your job/company/office/etc, what were your goals? Have you reached any of them? If not, are you currently working towards them, or did they kind of fall off the bandwagon? Realign your work with your goals. Goals provide a purpose in your work, which in turns provide a sense of inspiration.
  3. Connected
    • By the end of the conference, I was able to look around the room and feel connected with most of the people in the room. Some I knew before the conference, some I met while I was there, and others were just a friendly face that I had gotten used to seeing over the past four days. Again with Gretchen Rubin (she really is great), but she says that people/connectedness is another contributing factor to happiness. So how are you connected? What are you doing to get involved, get connected in your office, or in your community? We are always telling college students to get involved, but we need to practice what we preach. No matter what your job is, get involved. Make an active positive presence for yourself. Join a committee, attend events that are not required, offer guidance to a coworker in another department, volunteer on the weekends. Soon enough, these additional responsibilities that at first may just seem like extra time commitments will soon pay off in having connections and in having some really amazing people in your life.

So, I guess that’s it folks. The three key factors of happiness: Feeling educated, inspired, and connected. Although I know it’s not that simple, it may be a good place to start.

What are other ways you feel educated, inspired, and connected?