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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

The Art of Adulting

Adult“Adulting is tough,” a lot of twenty-somethings tell me. Constantly. On repeat. Like a broken record. Not that they would know what an actual record is, or if they would get the funny nature of using a non-word to describe something. Maybe if they use it enough it will become part of the common lexicon. With enough usage it could eventually make its way into the dictionary. Apparently, it’s hard.

They tell me this because they don’t think I get it. After all, when I became an official adult Bill Clinton was still in office, Kanye West was just another black dude, and Taylor Swift was in kindergarten. They tell me this because “adulting” has apparently gotten tougher since I came up, and I don’t get that the #struggleisreal. For them it’s harder these days to navigate the rough waters of new adulthood, so they had to create a term to show their pain.

I get it. I do. It’s hard when you’re finally liberated from “the nest,” when you have to take care of your own bills, when you have to feed yourself, clothe yourself, do THINGS for yourself. It’s that point in your life when you finally realize what mom and/or dad have been telling you all along, that life is tough, that they’ve been doing everything for you, and “wait until you grow up.” Well, now you’re all grown up, and you’re longing for the good ol days. That’s what it means to me when those twenty-somethings tell me that adulting is tough.

So when the going gets tough, the tough do what, twenty-somethings? Whine to everyone about it on Twitter? Post Instagram pics of you holding an empty wallet? Ramble on using the limitless nature of the Facebook post? They don’t generally get a job, or if they do they whine about that too. They don’t usually go ask mom and/or dad for advice, because what would their parents possibly know about the big wide world? What they’ve been taught is if they complain enough about it other twenty-somethings will commiserate, using the same hashtags, and that shows some solidarity. That’s exactly what they need in order to succeed in the big, bad world.

I agree, by the way. Being an adult is tough. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been one for over 22 years. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been an adult for far longer than I ever was a child. It doesn’t get any easier, because there are still some things you have to do, even if you don’t want to do them. That gets exponentially harder when you begin to own STUFF, and when you have children. Tying yourself to someone who is dependent on you for their own well being is a huge commitment, and it’s another part of adulthood that can be challenging, and overwhelming at times.

Being an adult isn’t easy, and this feeling is not just limited to twenty-somethings. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the responsibility of being an adult is an awesome one. The struggle is definitely real, but the key is to deal with it by organizing your life, by figuring out not just how you’re going to get by, but how you’re going to thrive with what you’ve been given in life. It’s okay to admit the difficulty, but whining about it at every opportunity is simply counterproductive.

Sam

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Sleep? What’s that?

I read somewhere that we spend our lives before we become parents running away from trouble, and our entire lives after becoming parents running towards that same trouble. For example, when I heard a scream back in the day I would move away from it, with the thought that whoever’s causing the screams might decide I’m a better source of torture. If there’s a messy situation with a spider crawling on the bathroom wall, well, that’s what parents are for. “Mooooom!” I’d say, and it would be taken care of while I was cowering in my bedroom.

Now I’m the one taking care of the problems, and I’ve learned to run to the source of those screams instead of away from it. It’s funny, but when I first became a father, my first inclination just switched. Like flipping a wall switch, actually. And all the parents I knew told me “several things will happen the moment you become a parent.” Here’s a comprehensive list:

  1. “You will learn to awaken at odd hours and sleep when you can. And be able to operate off of whatever sleep you (don’t) get.
  2. “You will suddenly become a safer driver.”
  3. “Your current fears will become secondary to your kids’ fears.”
  4. “Your language will conform to PG standards.”
  5. “You will call your mother, and she will laugh at you, telling you that it’s YOUR TURN now.” (more…)

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A Little Resolve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the time of year when people all over the world come up with their own personal resolutions, well-meaning as they are, meant to help them change things in their lives that are unsatisfactory to them for whatever reasons. Some of the most popular resolutions deal with body image, with emotional issues, and with organization, which all make sense because those are the same issues that a majority of human beings struggle with. But too many people take too much time focusing on the resolutions, on creating their list and making sure it’s numbered properly, that they lose sight of the other half of the equation: implementation of the plan.

Resolution: A decision or determination.

Implementation: The act of putting into effect.

It’s ironic that so many people resolve to be more organized, and implementing those resolutions is one of the biggest organizational tasks that can be undertaken. That’s precisely why usually even with such big hopes most people crash and burn when it comes to carrying out those gargantuan tasks they’ve set forth for themselves. Think about the resolutions you yourself have made over the years, and let me know how many of them were successful. Even thinking about my own, it’s difficult to pinpoint the ones that haven’t fizzled after a few days of fervent resolve. And that’s because life often gets in the way.

I know, it’s funny to hear that. After all, these resolutions ARE the epitome of the new life we’re trying to create for ourselves. How can life possibly get in the way of our heaven sent plans? The answer is so easy it might just astound you. We spend so much time those first few days focusing so much on our “new” life that we forget we have one that is waiting in the shadows for us to falter, and then swoops back in to reclaim us as its own. It’s really subtle at first, too. For example, one of my resolutions last year was to exercise more, and to that end I began a custom-made regimen on Wii Fit. It lasted all of two weeks (my personal record). Then life intervened. (more…)

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From the time we are born, we hear advice everywhere, from our parents, to our siblings, to other adults, and everyone in-between. Eventually our peers also give us advice, and we tend to call that peer pressure. Funny how when it’s people our age it’s “pressure,” but when it’s from older folks, it’s “wise,” and “sage” advice. Even if they say the exact same thing.

But the point is that everyone has an opinion of how we should live our lives, but the only opinion that should matter is our own. We listen to those others, though, because we trust that somehow they know what they’re talking about; however, we need to filter what will work for us, what we subscribe to, and what won’t, what we don’t. Here are my top 5 tidbits of advice I’ve gleaned throughout the years and made my own: (more…)

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It never fails. The second I decide that the weather has turned enough for me to get out the air conditioner, the second I wrestle it into the dining room window, that’s the same second the weather decides to shift, to get colder, and to make me once again look like a fool. And this year was no different. What I really can’t stand is that it shows me once again that I’m not in control, something I’m not so good at admitting. But there it is, like an old friend I love to hate, turning up the cold right after the air conditioner goes in.

From day one I’ve always wanted control, at least according to my mother (I don’t remember way back then for some reason — I still think I must have been brainwashed along the way). Even more than other children, apparently, I fought for every single thing I thought should have been mine, and against every single thing I didn’t want around me. Cheese, yes please. And more of it. Olives, no thank you, but sometimes I would forget the thank you. Stay on my back to sleep? No. I prefer my stomach. Peanut butter and jelly? Nah. Cream cheese and honey. Yeah, I guess she had it right after all. I have always wanted control.

Fast forward to more recent times. I was working on the manuscript to a novel and I had gotten it to the place I wanted it, where I felt it was really and truly perfect. And then my editor got a peek at it, and while she was largely pleased, she also had several issues she said I needed to fix. I was blown away. What do you mean, my plot is a little vague in this spot? I know what I MEANT to say. I know what I WANTED to say. And I think I said it. Hmph. I must have control. But then again, I want my work to be the best it can be. So, I had to honestly sit down and look at her markings and notations. And dagnabbit if she wasn’t right. Ouch. There goes my control. I promptly fixed all of the issues she had pointed out, and lo and behold it was better. Much better.

I once worked with a man named Paris. Paris was a kindly soul, but he wasn’t typical of someone his age (he was 50), and his vocabulary wasn’t very large, but he taught me something very important about control. We both worked in a restaurant, and Paris’s job was to fold the napkins (he did a great job folding those napkins). My job was to oversee, so sometimes we would be in the same place while he was folding the napkins and I was overseeing. Those moments were always interesting because even though he didn’t have a wide vocabulary, he was extremely precise in his language when he used it. He said what he meant to say (to paraphrase John Mayer). Well, this one afternoon it was raining, and he was sitting there folding his napkins and humming to himself when I passed by.

Me: Hi Paris. How are you today?

Paris: Fine, boss. Fine. (I wasn’t technically his boss, but he always called me that.)

Me: You like looking out the window?

Paris: I like looking at what God does.

Me: I never thought about it like that.

Paris: Nature not gonna be controlled.

Me: I guess that’s true.

And it was definitely true. Nature is not gonna be controlled, no matter how much we want to control it. That goes for not just the weather (even though we complain enough about it), but for human nature as well. We have this underlying need to be in control, to force the world into our little circumscribed ideas and ideals for it, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s only when we appreciate that some things can’t be controlled, that sometimes we need to go with the flow and not be so rigid, that’s when we can truly be free and enjoy ourselves and others.

Of course I still don’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (seriously, you should try cream cheese and honey — it’s much better), and I complain about the air conditioner theory, but when push comes to shove, I like that I can’t control everything. How boring would life be if I could?

Sam

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Sticktoitiveness

“Finish what you start.” My mother would always tell us kids that when we were growing up, and it went for everything, from eating all of our peas, to completing every question on a test, to reading until the end of a book, to not bailing on a job when it gets difficult. It is still her mantra, actually, and it can be a very good one for those types of situations, but when is sticktoitiveness just failing to admit something won’t happen and that we’re wasting our time plodding through, trying to finish it? I mean, what if I wanted to be President of the United States? I could probably, even now, get elected to some local position and begin a quest, but what are the odds it will happen for me? And what if I decided I wanted to be a professional singer? It takes some real talent for that, and some honest-to-goodness breaks, so is that truly a quest I should try my hardest to tackle? I’m actually asking you, because I don’t know. Maybe sticktoitiveness should be followed all the time, no matter how high the mountain is that you’re trying to climb.

“I was so excited about finding out all the amazing marketing tips… until I actually sat through one class.”

During my first year of college, I took a marketing class. I was so excited about finding out all the amazing marketing tips that were available out there… until I actually sat through one class. It was nothing like what I had expected. Instead, the class was really all about the history of marketing, not the mechanics of it at all. After day one, I knew it wasn’t going to be the class for me, and I had a very limited amount of time to switch to a different course. I made the decision and it was an easy one. I wasn’t sticking with marketing. It just wasn’t for me. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t try another marketing class in the future (and indeed, I did). It just meant that particular one wasn’t cut out for me, and rather than wasting an entire semester being bored to death, I was able to take another course that really did appeal to me.

And then there’s books. I remember when I was young, and I would start reading a book for whatever reason. I would get it out of the library, take it home, open it up and prepare to immerse myself in a whole other world. Except sometimes it was a world I didn’t want to even visit, but I felt like I had to finish, and indeed I did. Until the age of 18, any book I started I also finished, regardless of whether or not I was enjoying it. There are scores of books I finished, but I couldn’t stand them from the first page until the end, all because I felt like it was wrong to just put it down. Finally, I just asked myself, “How many hours a year are you willing to waste on crappy books?” The answer came back a resounding “None!” so I stopped approaching my reading that way anymore. That’s when I started to read the first chapters, and if I wasn’t hooked I gave it up.

So, does this mean my mom was wrong or is it just a case by case thing? I tend to favor the latter, because there have been too many instances where it truly helped to finish what I started, especially now that I have a family of my own and I see my children getting easily bored with things. And that made me realize it’s way too easy these days not to stick with things. Our world is now made for immediacy, and if it’s not quick enough for you, something else will be. If it’s not exciting enough for you, something else is exciting enough, and it’s just an app away! It’s become so crazy, so sometime it’s nice just to think back to the good ol’ days when Mom was telling me to finish what I started. It’s still sound advice in most areas, and I’m thankful.

Sam

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You’ve heard it time and time again. Love means compromise. Love means unconditional. Love means you need a two-way street, give and take, a whole lot of… understanding. And while that’s all true (and certain types of love have more layers to them), it doesn’t quite add up. You see, the beauty of love is that it is between human beings, but that’s also the caveat. Human beings are changeable. In fact, from day to day, or even from moment to moment, our thoughts and feelings change. So love is more than just a two-way street. Love is a six-lane highway, with many on and off ramps.

I remember the first time I fell in love, really fell in love. Not that puppy love stuff, but the honest-to-goodness, straight from a fairy tale love that makes your toes curl. It was an amazing feeling, so I basked in it. For way too long. While I was busy basking and thanking my lucky stars that she loved me too, she was changing into someone who didn’t love the me I was anymore. She had outgrown me and I was left holding the bag.

See, love needs maintenance. It shouldn’t be easy, and if you find yourself basking, ask yourself why. It’s not good enough to expect change from the other person either. You need to also expect change from yourself. But don’t just expect it. Find out where you still mesh with the other person. Turn this changing love into a dance that you do together, not separately.

I didn’t know any of this back then, so I lost the girl, which you can imagine was devastating for me. On the positive side, though, I realized just how hard it is, how much work it takes, to maintain love. I mean, you need to know where you are, know where you’re going, know where she is, and hope you know where she’s going, all at the same time. Like Run DMC said. It’s tricky.

Oh. And girls. They are always a couple of steps ahead of us, fellas. Keep that in mind when you’re about to book reservations for your anniversary at the same place you went last year. Surprise her. She expects it. And no girl hates hearing how much you love her (provided she loves you back), but don’t just say it. Show it. It makes all the difference.

Sam

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