The Ultimate Leap of Faith


Bakersville, NC

My new home.

A lot has happened since the last time I’ve posted.

I put my money where my mouth was. I proved that I love my fear. I picked up everything I’ve owned and known in Ohio and accepted a newspaper job in beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.

I’m a week in so far and I can already tell it’s going to be a great experience for me. I’m learning how to take photos and cover a variety of different topics from sports to hard news. I also realize I have a long way to go before I become a successful journalist. Hopefully the paper puts up with me until then.

I always knew I wanted to leave Ohio. Not because it’s a bad state but because I wanted to see another part of the country. It’s one thing to say I wanted to move but when the time actually came for me to follow though it got hard. While it may be easy for some it was hell for me. Leaving all my friends and family, leaving the only place I’ve ever known. But while making the decision I saw two distinct paths: one where I stay in my comfort zone for the rest of my mediocre life and the other where I take a chance and realize my dream of exploring new areas, meeting new people and learning a new culture.

I needed this. I needed to be ripped out of Ohio before my roots grew too deep in my comfort zone. I felt like if I didn’t take this leap of faith now why would I do it when the next big situation came up, or next one or the one after that.

When making some of the greatest decisions in my life I have always been seconds away from wanting to pull the plug but somehow I managed to convince myself to push though. It’s almost like the more you fear something it’s all the more reason you need to do it. It’s still too soon to determine what this decision holds in store for me, but all that matters to me is that I took a chance, I didn’t give into fear and I followed through with what I felt would be good for me.

Of course I would be a lair if I said I did it alone. There is no way I could’ve done this without the almost unanimous support of my family, friends and former professors. I feel so grateful to have such a strong support group.

I know what I did wasn’t amazing or something that no one else has ever done before. I’m also not saying everyone who chooses to stay home is a coward. I just hope my experience can serve as a small example to those who are afraid of moving out of their comfort zone, even though doing so could be the best thing that has ever happened to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m suffering from homesickness more than I ever thought I would. I just hope and know that it will get better with time.

I plan to update this blog more often for my friends and family back home and for my followers as well.

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My 10 Best Traits


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I sincerely apologize again for my lack of updates. I recently graduated, moved out on my own and have had a terrible case of writer’s block. I told myself that I would not fill this blog with fluff just for the sake of posting something and I stick by it. This blog is about quality not quantity.

Honestly I’ve been going through a lot lately and been thinking about a lot of things.  Of course, I’m not going through what many college graduates are enduring: the job search. For now I’m just embracing this period and treating as a summer vacation of sorts. I still have my full-time job which is good and all and I’m thankful for it but it’s definitely not my calling. This period has definitely given me the opportunity to think about what I truly want out of life but that is a post for another day.

The ever-going battle with myself wages on. I’ve conquered a lot of personal hurdles in the past couple of years but my confidence, or should I say lack of, still remains a problem. So yesterday one of my friends gave me a “homework assignment” of sorts to help me with this problem. The assignment: Write 10 traits/characteristics that you like about yourself. It seemed like something so simple and yet it actually took some time to think about it. If someone told me to think of 10 things I don’t like about myself I could’ve probably shot them off right away without hesitation. I think that alone shows where my mindset is.

So without further adieu my 10 best traits (no particular order):

1. My Integrity- I feel this is one of my greatest strengths and something I feel others would agree I possess a great deal of. I am trustworthy, honest and take full responsibility for all my faults. I make no excuses for my actions or inaction. I also won a scholarship based on integrity so that’s gotta say something.

2. My Open-Mindset- Another thing I pride myself on, especially as an aspiring journalist. I have my own beliefs but do not push them on other people. I am curious to hear about others’ beliefs even if a avidly disagree with what they say. I do not dismiss or ignore them. Right-wing or left-wing, gay or straight, Muslim or Christian I’m as objective as possible. It is not my place to make judgements.

3. My Dependability- This goes with integrity. My friends, co-workers, bosses and family know they can count on me.

4. My Work Ethic- I’ve held numerous jobs at a time on top of going to school full-time. I’ve worked for everything I own and pride myself on it. When I have a goal and set my mind to it, I do whatever it takes to make it happen. It may not happen overnight but I hammer through it.

5. My Lack of Jealously/My Desire for Others to Succeed- I used to want to bring people down, but now I strive to help others rise. For example, I’ve helped two people get jobs in the past couple of months and it’s truly a great feeling doing so. I think jealously is one of the most disgusting traits a human being can possess.

6. My Creativity- I have always considered myself to be a creative person. However, I feel my true potential remains untapped.

7. My Flexibility- I consider myself to be a jack-of-all-trades of sorts. I’m a fast learner and have the capacity to learn about a variety of different topics, gadgets and programs.

8. My Humility- One of my strengths and also probably one of my greatest downfalls as well. People have told me I am too humble. I definitely agree, which is why I’m writing out this list. Still, I feel humility is a great trait for a person to have and something I strive for.

9. My Wit- I don’t say much, but when I do people listen. I am an observant person and I try to make light of any situation.

10. My Determination- I WILL NOT settle for less in this life. Nuff said.

Well that was a good self-esteem boost. All kidding aside, I encourage everyone to make a list of their own. Self-insight has always helped me out. It seems like I spend a majority of my time looking at my weaknesses when I should be attending to my strengths as well.

Stay tuned for more (frequent) updates.


New Year’s Resolution 2013


2013

Following through with one New Year’s resolution is a great accomplishment and I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to do it two years in a row. My resolution in 2011 was to leave McDonald’s and get a new job which kicked off a “rebirth” of sorts in my life and overall attitude. In 2012, I made it my New Year’s resolution to improve my social skills. A very vague goal that was hard to measure but after reporting for two papers in the past year I clearly overcame my social anxiety and I’m now capable at having a conversation with a complete stranger. Still have a lot of work to do but I feel a lot more confident in my overall presence and demeanor.

This was definitely one of if not the best year of my life. I saw the West Coast for the first time, wrote for not one but two regional newspapers and won a full year’s scholarship based not on academics or ethnicity but on integrity. I think I’ve learned more and experienced more than I have ever had at any other point in my life. I still have much more to achieve but it’s hard to look back at 2012 and not be proud of things I did accomplish. Sure I’ve done some things that can be observed on paper but I feel I’ve grown a lot more on the inside than anything else.

So going into 2013 I wanted to make a resolution that wouldn’t be obvious (like getting a job after I graduate because that’s obviously everyone’s goal) but also not too vague. After reading many books and researching the habits of some of the most successful people in history I’ve determined the belief that your thoughts dictate your actions is true. I need to adjust my goals and habits to achieve a better life instead of making goals to avoid a bad one. For example, I need to set my goals towards getting a job or living on my own rather making it a goal to avoid going into debt or living with my mom for the rest of my life (no offense mom). If you think something, no matter if it is a in positive or negative light, it will most likely become a reality.

My New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to have a positive mindset. I’ve slowly been evolving towards this mindset for a while now. At first, it started as simply catching myself every time I was in a grumpy or bad mood, realizing how ridiculous I was acting, and turned my attitude around. When I woke up on the “wrong side of the bed” I used to allow myself to let that dictate the rest of my day. Now I don’t. Two important parts to this is, one, being grateful for everything I have. Reading the news, observing other people’s lives makes me thankful for what I do have. I can’t remember the last time I felt jealous of someone. Instead, if I desire a trait or an item a person has I work towards getting it. I think jealously is one of the most disgusting traits a person can have. It’s true some people were dealt a better hand but I know everyone reading this didn’t get the handful of jokers. The other thing is simply not caring what other people think about me. Of course, I take what others say that are close to me to heart but I no longer let them dictate my actions. I don’t let random strangers dictate my actions and I for damn sure don’t allow them to spread their negativity on me anymore.

So now I hope to continue this trend and take it one step further. No more self-put downs, no more saying “I can’t” or “I’ll never get a job in the field of journalism.” I will also continue my life goal of becoming the best human being I can possibly become. Good luck to everyone else in achieving their own New Year’s Resolutions.


Grounding (Process vs. Outcome)


“A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion.” – Alan Watts.

Stop thinking.

How can such a seemingly easy task be so difficult to initiate? Well we are humans, natural problem solvers. We like to think about problems whether they could happen, may happen, probably will happen, or not happen at all. It doesn’t matter if we have any control over said problem or not. Whatever the issue is, it will be sure to make its voice heard inside your head.

People can’t wait to graduate, can’t wait till the weekend, can’t wait till they get that six pack or house in the suburbs. Most people are obsessed with the outcome but don’t care very much for the journey it takes to get there.

Is it bad to think? Absolutely not. Is it bad to have outcome-oriented goals. No, that’s where the majority of people’s motivation comes from. Too much of anything, however, is bad. Sometimes you need to shut your mind off. Sometimes you need to think about the process. Sometimes you have to ground yourself.

What is grounding? I would consider grounding shutting your mind off, stop day-dreaming, stop worrying about the future, and just simply live in the present moment. It’s great to have big dreams and aspirations but it can be equally beneficial to come down from the clouds and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Enjoy the Process

Why do we watch movies, play video games, and read books? That is, why do we view them in their entirety than just skipping to the end. Its because we want to see the gradual development of the character. We want to see Luke Skywalker grow from a simple moisture farmer on Tatooine to a fully realized Jedi Knight. We don’t just watch Return of the Jedi to see the dancing Ewok scene at the end.

This model applies to any great story, whether it be a book or other medium. If we like having our entertainment set up this way then why don’t we do the same with our own lives? I fear that many people are just too outcome-oriented. I know I was.  I came up with a pretty simple realization my senior year in high school. I found whenever I was in a period of life I would consider good (aka not depressed) I savor every moment and dread it coming to an end. On the flip side, during bad periods of time in my life (which were much frequent) I’m very future-oriented not caring about my miserable present at all. Seems like common sense right? If your having a good time naturally you don’t want it to end and of course when the rainy day comes people hope for the future to get better.

The tricky part is enjoying the present during the bad moments as well. I know that it can be hard for people to see the good in a bad moment. What I’ve come to find though is that it’s those bad moments that make the good moments worth living for. It’s good to embrace the bad moments with the good. When you are depressed embrace it rather than bottling it up. If you don’t like the way things are going do whatever you can to fix them right now instead of waiting for things to get better. The honest truth is life isn’t supposed to sunshine and roses all the time. Think about it. Would you want it to be? Not myself personally. How can you know how good you’ve got it until you’ve experienced how bad it can get?

I’m not saying being outcome-oriented and looking towards the future is a bad thing but there must be a balance. Just enjoy the small steps on the journey towards your goal. My main wish for you is to stop wishing for a bad period of life to be over with. I’m sure your life will be better when you get that promotion or get your degree but enjoy the current situation in the meantime. Don’t become too fixated on the outcome because the ultimate outcome in life’s journey is death.

Enjoy the Moment

My advice would be to take time everyday to just enjoy the moment. When your walking around take a look at everything around you, the people, the scenery, the weather. It’s amazing when you incorporate it in your daily routine and start noticing things you never saw before. It’s pure bliss. Suddenly all your worries, concerns, problems are gone for the time being. You start looking at the big picture and may even realize most of your worries are over things you have no control over whatsoever.

Grounding is a great tool for social anxiety, probably the best tactic I’ve found yet. If your tuned in on the present your head isn’t fixated on what other people think about you. You’ve got to get out of your head. It may seem contradictory, but thinking really complicates conversations. Thinking about the subject matter at hand isn’t bad, but thinking about what the other person thinks of you is a problem.

Grounding

People have big dreams, some of them may be a little too big, unorganized, or not thought out entirely. It’s easy to make extravagant goals, but it’s another thing to follow through with them. Grounding helps you sink your head back down to Earth and makes you think how you can realistically make these goals happen. Bottom line is I believe everyone can benefit from enjoying the process and just enjoying the present moment.


Establishing Good Habits


If you’re interested in bettering yourself, no matter what the skill, developing good habits will be essential. Deciding that you want to change your ways is the easy part.  The hard part is obviously following through with it. That means every day. No exceptions!

How to Start

First you must establish what you want to change or what new habit you want introduced in your life. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. In fact, small changes might be easier to digest at first. Also, try to introduce only a few new habits at a time. You don’t want to be constantly shaking things up all the time. Allow the dust to settle for a little bit before taking on something new. It’s good to have a little grounding.

You might see the immediate benefits or your new habit…or you might not. The important thing is to give it a chance either way. Some habits take a while before they finally pay off.

Get Ready for Resistance

It might be easy to practice your new “habit” for the first couple of days. After a while, however, you may find that it gets harder and harder to stick to it. Eventually you start doing it every other day, then a couple of times a week and the next thing you know your back to where you started. The old habit has been ingrained in your brain for so long that it will take about a month for it to rewire itself to the new habit. In the meantime, you may find that your body and mind will throw whatever they can to resist the change. Humans are naturally habitual beings. Most of us do not like change. If you feel the change you are making is the right thing to do then it is very important to persevere no matter how tired, hungry, etc. you are. Taking one day off could mean the difference.

How to Get Past the Rough Patch

Motivation can only do so much. It comes and goes. It’s important to look at the good things that are happening as a result of the change, no matter how small they may be. For example, this fall I decided I wanted to meditate for 15 minutes every morning. At first I didn’t notice anything. Then I began to notice I was paying more attention in class. I used this as fuel to keep me going. After you start establishing new habits, it starts getting easier since you can fall back on the successes of your previous changes.

The Turning Point

At a certain point you feel the change has finally been made. Like you’ve made it over the hump. Like everything has finally clicked. Congrats! You’ve established the new habit. Now it should almost come automatic without having to think about it constantly. It’s still very important to not veer off the path. The old habit is still cemented in your brain and will be very easy to go back to.   

Start Now!

Don’t pick a defined date to start a change. You’re already setting yourself up for failure if you do so. An obvious example of this would be the endless amount of failed New Year’s Resolutions people make year after year. By putting off a change to later date you will most likely put it off again with the day does come, and so on and so on. There’s no reason to not start now.

Good luck!


Goals for Fall


I’m ready to get back up and fight for what I want.

I’m finally back after another long hiatus. I enjoyed my trip to California and have one week of school behind me. I’m also in a much better state than I was in my last post. I realized that I need to make some change in my life. I wanted to take this time to write down some of the goals I have for the fall semester as well as for the remainder of the year. I divided them up into three categories: school goals, new habits, and skills I want to improve on.

School Goals

Get A’s in all my classes.

I’m sure I’m not the only person that shares this goal. This one is pretty self-explanatory. There is no reason why I can’t get a 4.0 this semester, other than laziness.

Look into graduate school.

I think this might be a long shot but I don’t want to say it’s impossible. It’s more of a question of finding a way to pay for it than anything. It would be nice to stay in school for another two years and hone my skills but it would also be nice to give the workforce a shot. I’m on the fence but one thing is for sure. I don’t want to enter the workforce without at least giving graduate school serious consideration. If there ever was a time to go for it now would be it.

New Habits

Read…beyond homework.

I’ve added a new section to the blog labeled recommended books. The list is small right now but it will continue to grow over time. I’ve really been wanting to get back into reading. I haven’t read religiously since middle school. I started back up this spring. Surprisingly, it was pretty rough at first. I couldn’t concentrate and it took me forever to read a page. Now I can already tell my reading skills have increased and even to some extent my writing ability. I’m trying to focus my attention on books about self-improvement, life, etc. I want to expand my knowledge. Not everything has to be learned by a teacher in a classroom.

Eat right.

For about the past year I would say on average I eat out almost everyday. Not only is this expensive but it is also not very healthy. I wouldn’t say I eat like garbage every time I do eat out but I know I need to change my eating habits. This will probably be the hardest habit to break as my school and work schedule make it very hard to cook. I started reading The Ultramind Solution by Mark Hyman. The book talks about the importance of the food we put in our bodies and how it effects everything in the body including the brain. After I read the book I hope to have a basis for a better diet plan.

Meditate

I’ve been meditating for fifteen minutes every morning for the past couple of days. It’s something that I do need to work on but so far I’ve been sticking to it. I do feel some marked improvement in my attention as well as other areas. The important thing for me right now is to develop a habit of meditating everyday, no exceptions.

Skills I Want to Improve

  • Confidence
  • Agressiveness
  • Networking
  • Communication
  • Speech

And Most Importantly…

Take action!

None of these will happen if I sit around and dream them to become true. I’ve got to work on achieving them every day.

Good luck to everyone on achieving your own goals!


Limbo


I finished my internship at the News-Sun a little over two weeks ago and I’ve been “enjoying” the remainder of my summer break. I would like to say that I did finish off strong like had I set out to do in my previous post. I had four articles published in my final week, one of which made the front page. Nevertheless, I know I have a ton of work to do before I’m hireable. I need to work on my aggressiveness (no surprise there) as well as my speed.

I felt a strange feeling after it was all over though. It felt like the end. For the past year I had stepped closer and closer towards my goal, first in my introductory journalism class in the fall to freelancing  in a real newspaper in winter and spring to having a paid internship. Now it’s all over. I’m not stepping higher, just plateauing. All I’m doing in the fall is going to school and working on the weekends. That’s it. The reasonable side of me tells me to write for the school paper or find another small paper but for some reason I can’t bring myself to do it. I think the reason I’m telling myself  not to is because I’ll be so busy with work and school I won’t have time though? Is this true? Or am I just coming up with excuses? I want to be everything I can be but at the same time I just want to be a normal college kid for once, one who goes to parties, drinks, etc.

So for the past two weeks I feel as if I’ve been stuck in limbo. I’ve been confused, depressed, and thinking about everything non-stop. I’ve also been a sponge, using the time to catch up on reading and gathering information online. I just finished The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. It’s a great book and I would strongly recommend it. My uncle gave me the book after he read my blog. After reading it I think I may have discovered my issue:

I want to be miserable again.

I’ve done a lot this past year and achieved a lot, more so than I ever have in my life. Why on Earth do I feel this way? Consciously I don’t want that but part of me occasionally wants to go back to the way I was. Life was simpler back then. I could sit in my comfort zone in front of my computer and spend the day away doing nothing. I’m having an seemingly eternal battle between my conservative self and my ambitious self. I’ve been having this battle for over a year seeing as the conservative side previously swept my ambitious side for years.

I guess you could say my fear is that my conservative side is making a comeback and I think this time if it comes back it will be back for good. Peck says in his book that laziness is the evil that keeps us from becoming great and that we must fight this urge of laziness constantly our entire lives like a boat going upstream.

Today, I leave Ohio to spend my final week of vacation in California. I’ve never flown nor have I been to the West Coast. I don’t think this trip could’ve came at a better time in my life. I hope the new experiences and new scenery rejuvenate my ambition. I’m hope in California I can find some of the answers that I’m looking for.