We don't belong to each other. I don't want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I'm not sure where that is but I know what it is like. It's like Tiffany's.
Over the past few months I’ve had the wild opportunity to meet tons and tons and tons of new people. Even better, I’ve had the chance to creepily watch tons of new people meet each other. There’s one trend that became very clear to me through having and watching all of this initial small talk, and woah baby is it tough to watch/be a part of.
When we first meet people we are so desperate to find any connection with them, no matter how weak it is. “Oh, your aunts friend went through my town one time?” We start big, and slowly narrow down and try different things until we find that one little, usually insignificant, nugget of information that connects us. Why though? If you and this person make it through this generic, uninspired conversation and end up married, I guarantee you will skip right over that part when you’re re-telling the story of how you met.
I get a lot of heat for talking to loners and people who I think look interesting. To be honest though, I cringe at the conversations that start out with “cool, we both drink Bud Light”, because, more often than not, this is going to be a run of the mill conversation that we’ve both had hundreds of times before. How long are you going to settle for having the same conversation? You’re better than that.
Those teeny tiny things are just fillers, and sure, sometimes they are necessary, but they are not the things that are going to build a genuine, lasting connection. So, why not start bigger? Even if you don’t find anything in common, you’ll walk away with a better story than “we both like eating dinner”. You probably put effort into what you look like, so put some effort into what you talk about too.
In between my visit to China and starting to work at a challenge course I visited my sister over in Fredonia, NY and we had an unforgettable time. Just a quick run down - there were two major celebrations: “Kennedy’s Weekend Celebration on a Weekday” and the “Shakira Wine Tour”. Both were very well received and might become worldwide annual events. But what inspired this post was the two hours I spent watching her babysit a set of twins and their older brother.
It was interesting to see how their life could go from fantastic to unlivable and back again so quickly. When one of them would come crying to Katy she would go through a series of questions; “what happened”, “are you going to die”, “do you think that’s something you need to cry about” and “are you going to remember this tomorrow”. Each time the answer to the last three was a tearful “no”, and each time they ran off happy ready to take on the next adventure.
Here’s an article that highlights 7 ways to make sure you don’t get hung up on one bad thing and have a shotty day (sent to me by David of course). I’m pretty sure these kids weren’t consciously living by these steps, but if you look closely there are some that were definitely in action. Now, the article gives you 7 steps to take, but I think asking yourself the 4 questions Katy asked those children will achieve the same results. The idea is that if you make a few mental adjustments you can avoid those miserable days and enjoy your life a whole lot more.
It’s so easy to let one thing ruin your mood for the entire day - but if you do that then that’s just another day wasted. So let’s all enjoy ourselves and make bad days a thing for punks.
Always, no matter what, in any situation, stay far far away from love. I know there are those instances where it does great things; remember how much fun Jack and Rose had before she pushed him off the door? I’m not talking about that kind of love though- I’m talking about falling in love with things, like ideas.
My friend and I were talking the other day about something our teacher told us the very first day we all met “don’t fall in love with your ideas.” We were discussing it for two reasons 1. we just saw the Belvedere Vodka ad and 2. we wondered how many times we didn’t reach our potential because we got too attached.
The Belvedare ad is the cause of controversy because it seems to promote rape culture; probably not the best thing to associate your brand with. Obviously, there were better routes for the creator to take, but David and I started to think maybe whoever made this ad fell victim to love. Could they have gotten so attached to this idea that they blocked out all of the negatives and all other possibilities? Think back to when you thought you were in love with someone that was no good for you; didn’t you think that everyone else should love them just as much as you did? You might have ignored all of your friends saying “get out while you still can!” The same thing happens with ideas, you get so attached to a notion that no matter what you’re going to play it out and it is going to be great. Belvedare might have missed out on the greatest, most revolutionary ad campaign since Nike, all because of dumb ol’ love.
The lesson here? Well there are two; firstly, stay away from rape ads and secondly, keep an open mind. When we come up with any idea, whether its what to do for the night, a marketing campaign, or anything in between and surrounding, create it with an open mind and flexibility. A good way to do this is to make sure you come up an array of ideas, don’t just stop at the first one you think of. When I took my creativity class last semester we were asked to come up with something like fifty ideas before settling on one. This will force you to think through the pros and cons of every solution and you’ll train yourself to be more objective. Never get so attached that you cloud your vision and miss out on something truly fantastic.
Great news, I’m not dead! Over the past month I’ve informed many of you that I would be dead soon from one ailment or another. Recently, I’ve almost been killed by accidental bleach ingestion, different sized pupils, potential gangrene, falling down the stairs, eating raw chicken and more. I’m sure my mom is tired of me calling her up with each life threatening instance, but after some reflection I’m not sure I’m going to stop jumping to these extremes.
Sure, Alivia’s brother called me a hypochondriac, but I’m just letting my imagination run wild. So why won’t I stop thinking that this scrape on my hand is going to cause an infection and cause me to choose between dying and losing an arm? It’s an easy way to exercise my creativity and learn.
For those of you feeling creatively stuck try out this approach. Take whatever situation you’re in and expand upon it until you come to a conclusion. Take it step by step and don’t be afraid to go big it’s your own imagination. If you’re sitting in class and hear a thump outside the door start by guessing what it is. Then move on to what happened before the thump and what will happen after the thump and so on until you’ve imagined an entire situation and its outcomes. Don’t just do death and bad scenarios, play out the fun ones too, be flexible!
Doing this on the regular will keep your mind active, condition you to cultivate creative ideas on the fly, and keep you focused on something. Don’t let your brain get used to a routine, you’ll end up wasting a whole lot of potential. And on the plus, you’ll be prepared if one of your scenarios actually pans out.
For the twelve of you reading this, I know I just wrote about being mindless and unproductive. So now I’m going to help make sure you don’t get stuck on the couch watching SVU and Harry Potter marathons all day and justifying it by saying “chill, I’m being creative.” The best way to avoid that scenario is to become a master at self motivation; its not that hard we just need to pinpoint why we lost it to begin with.
I stumbled across this article today and it highlights the three reasons we lose motivation: lack of confidence, focus and direction. Personally, I found the best way to overcome all of these is to write. Every week I come up with massive to-do lists separated into days, classes, want to’s and have to’s - then I prioritize it. Then throughout the week I proceed to add and subtract tasks.
Here’s why it works, and why it addresses the three main reasons we lose creativity:
Lack of direction: Lists lay out everything that you need to get accomplished, if you have it written down in front of you and prioritized it’s easier to get the momentum you need.
Lack of focus: adding in the want-to’s and prioritizing from most important to least important lay’s out what you want to do. I know you’re smart enough to pepper all of your want-to’s throughout the have-to’s. This will break up the monotony and will keep you pushing through the yuck to get to the fun.
Lack of confidence: physically crossing things off your list gives you a sense of accomplishment. Even if you’re just crossing off “make bed” you’ll know you finished something and it’ll be easier to keep applying yourself.
There are plenty of other ways to make sure you maintain focus, direction and confidence and it’s going to be different for everyone. However, physically writing things out and prioritizing them has been proven to help, and It’s helped me get through six months of non-stop work.
There are those times when you’ve been working on the same project for so long that you can’t tell if it makes sense or if you just convinced yourself its good. How do you know you haven’t just gone crazy and your output only makes sense to your fatigued brain? This is an issue I’ve run into a lot these past six months and I certainly don’t have the answer yet, but I have noticed something about my creative dips and peaks that might help.
At the beginning of the semester part of a group project required us to come up with some copy. We had been working for hours and getting a lot done but then we turn to the creative part and I froze. I kept pushing myself to come up with those few words to perfectly encompass the task at hand and it got to the point where I couldn’t even form a full sentence.
I went home dejected and frustrated, bought some candy, put sweats on and started re-watching The Office. My intention was to stop thinking and recuperate from that mentally exhausting day. After about an hour of my brain being shut off my thoughts started jumping without any direction or structure. It finally hit me, I came up with the copy and I had never been so excited about four little words.
This pattern kept playing out; my most creative and original work would come to me when I was doing mindless activities, like cleaning, or if I was having a lazy day and not getting much done at all. Then last week my friend pointed out this article to me, which explains why we’re most creative when we’re not productive.
Obviously we can’t just sit around being unproductive all of the time, but it certainly does help if you’re looking for truly creative ideas. My recommendation? Set some time aside every day to be mindless. Instead of forcing your brain to think freely just let it work on its own. The work is in there, but if it’s forced it loses the ingenuity that makes it great.
One thing that has characterized my life lately, besides being young and wild and free, is group projects. My undergrad and graduate educations have both had a major emphasis on group work, so I have had my fair share of working with a billion different people. One thing that’s always a guarantee, money back, is that a leader will emerge.
Now, after all of this exposure, I’ve seen one common and detrimental misinterpretation of leadership. Being a leader and a director are two completely different things. Directors are those people who immediately take charge of a group, even if they aren’t wanted. They hold their thoughts in higher regard than others, boss people around, and make sure its their way or the highway. More often than not they are interested in looking good for someone, and promoting individual advancement. While there are times when directing is useful, the military and when things need to be done in a very specific and intricate way, it has a terrible effect on group morale. Using this director-leadership style can sabotage even the best group project and can turn people against you in a snap!
Now, my personal favorite types of leadership are leading by following and level five leadership, but there are many other effective leadership styles. Typically, the goal of a group is to do something successfully. True leaders realize that the best way to do this is to allow the group to reach their full potential. This doesn’t come from saying “hey guy, do this exactly like that,” it comes from giving freedom, guidance and support. Groups need to grow together, try things out, fail and more. Leaders need to create the environment that allows this to happen while holding people accountable.
Sure, directing and leading both get the job done. If you aim to be a leader you give your teammates the opportunity to surpass expectations, and no one will call you a rude bossy-pants. I found the best way to change your leadership style, is by stepping back and observing. If you see how the inner cogs of a group work and see how other leaders, good or bad, handle themselves you have a great opportunity to make comparisons and changes.
live in the moment
You’re going to have a jillion moments in your life, so it’s probably pointless to live in the one happening right now. For one, you’d have to engage with whatever surrounds you. Either you’ll have to talk to the people around to you, soak in a few moments of solidarity, or something worse. That’s a terrible waste of life.
Dwelling on the past, obsessing over the future, or wishing you were in a different situation is a much better use of your time. If you look to the past you won’t have to change, grow or learn. If you’re one of those who focus on the future then in no time you’ll be there and everything else will have just flown by! Finally, if you identify with the third type of person, you’ll get to live in a constant state of disappointment and you’ll show everyone around you that you’re too good for them. All three are lives to be envious of.
Those freaks living in the moment have it rough. They have to pay attention to their surroundings and appreciate where they are, at the same time. They get too much out of life and really have to experience every little thing. They also have the experience of the past, but because they let it go they have a clear view of what happened and can use it in current situations; struggling through situations is much better, makes you strong. Another thing, if they spend all of their time actually talking to the people they’re with, how will anyone know they’re a worthless waste of time?
I know I’m wasting my life trying to live in the moment, but to be completely honest, I’m pretty sure its worth it. Sometimes its hard not to wish you were somewhere else with different people, or think to how great things used to be or will be. It takes a lot of practice, but if you dwell on anything except for what’s happening you’ll just be limiting your happiness. The past is over, you’ll get to enjoy the future later, and if you’re stuck where you are you might as well take it in.