Tag Archives: life

The difference a year makes


What a year in weeklies  looks like.

What a year in weeklies looks like.

On August 5th, 2014 a young Midwesterner came to the southern Appalachian Mountains fresh out of college to start off what he hoped to be a successful writing career.

The first couple of months were a blur of course. After spending the last 23 years of his sheltered life under his parents roof, he was now juggling how to write articles and take photos on top of learning about the downside of student loans, how to balance a budget, how to “cook” and …

I could spend this time telling you the entire story but I think that would be rather boring. After all what I did was nothing special, but I’m still proud of the fact I made it a whole year on my own considering where I started.

The truth is I wish my past year was the fairy tale story about the rookie reporter who came to town and unearthed some deep seated corruption, but it was nothing of the sort. In fact, it was probably the exact opposite. Needless to say I got a serious wake up call from many departments of realty.

Obviously in the past year I’ve learned a lot about being a reporter: learning how to write, taking printable photos, finding out what’s newsworthy, developing sources etc. I’m well aware it will take a long time before I am a master of my craft. More importantly, however, I’ve learned some more important lessons not just about work, but life in general.

Not the least of which is how to take a proper beating to your ego. Naively I entered the job thinking I would have some sort of small town celebrity status by being the reporter and a northerner. Hahaha, that didn’t exactly come to fruition the same way it did in my mind. I’ve never considered myself as a guy with a big ego but opening my writing up to the public firing squad for critique did sting a bit.

This past year I can say I’ve dealt with a lot of growing pains with very little, if any, signs of reward from it. I felt as if every time I did something good I got a kick to the crotch from something else that put me right back down. Every time I needed a moral victory I just couldn’t get it. It was incredibly frustrating to say the least.

The give up button was dangling right in front of my face. I missed my friends and family (still do) and my continued frustrations only added kindling. The feeling would come and go, each time stronger than the last. It would’ve been so easy to just throw in the towel.

But I didn’t give up. I somehow said no to the beast every time. Enduring the growing pains has only made me a better as a journalist and reporter. The only way to get better is through failure and by giving up on this job I would’ve gave up any hope of living a life not dictated by fear as so many people do.

Lately I’ve had to do something I’ve never really done in my life: believe in myself. I’ve had to believe I’m doing the right thing and that one day will be my day. As long as I’m putting in the work to better myself, no matter how smaller an improvement, the opinions of others don’t matter.

Looking back I can say I’m a better person than I was a year ago. I’m more humbled for sure but my willpower and confidence are better than ever before. In fact, confidence was a foreign concept to me before I took the step to leave everything I had ever known and loved to start a brand new life. Now I feel unbreakable. The worst is over and nothing is going to stop me.

It is my belief success is really just having a strong work ethic combined with the will not to give up. It just takes time.

Here’s to another year.


6 Winter Epiphanies


This winter has been a life changing experience for me. My internship, writing this blog, and reading many insightful books has really opened my eyes to a new light. I can’t believe how much I’ve changed in the past two months. Socially, I am completely different. I can approach people, maintain eye contact, and for the most part speak in an articulate manner without stuttering. My outlook on life has changed as well. I want to learn as much and accomplish as much as I possibly can with my life.

Here is a list of six epiphanies I’ve had this quarter that have changed my life.

The World Isn’t Going to Change Because You Want It To.

I’ve often walked through life thinking that I would do things different. I thought I would beat the system. That I could be shy and shallow and somehow gorgeous women would flock to me and start making out with no questions asked. I thought I could submit a couple of on-line resumes and get hired on the spot. I’m glad I found out sooner than later that the world doesn’t work that way. You get out of life what you put in it.  The world isn’t going to change. Learn to live with it or die a bitter human being.

Don’t Seek Outside Approval. No One Cares.

Last year I had a huge problem with this. Mostly because a lot of good things happened to me and I wasn’t really accustomed to having good thing happen to me. This was especially bad when I got my new job. I gloated about it on Facebook almost every other status update while my former coworkers where still stuck in misery. When I got a new car I mentioned it to almost everyone I met. The same thing happened with my internship. “Look at me I’m writing in the paper.” Soon everything became about me. Facebook in general was just bad for me. I used to write a ton of jokes on there. I would receive tons of likes from them. This positive feedback was feeding my ego. It pretty much dictated how my day was going to go. If I wasn’t getting complemented in the real world or liked in cyberspace I would get depressed. I know it sounds pretty pathetic but that’s the way it was. The truth is no one really cares about your achievements except maybe your close friends and family. Truthfully no one is envious about my used car, my retail job, or the articles I wrote. What’s the author’s name of the last news article you read? That’s what I thought. I’m not saying it’s bad to celebrate good things that happen to you just don’t go overboard with it. Self-improvement should be for your own happiness. You shouldn’t fuel your happiness off other people’s approval.

Get Over The Spotlight Effect.

Shy guys and gals this one is for you.  The spotlight effect is the tendency to believe that other people are paying closer attention to one’s appearance and behavior than they actually are. You wash your hands and you accidentally get water on your crouch. You then spend the next ten minutes pulling your shirt down in hopes no one will see.  It can be even worse than that. For example, I wanted to go shopping at a nice clothing store because I desired to change my wardrobe but all I had were my crappy clothes. I was scared to death to enter the store. I was afraid that people would laugh because I didn’t look like them. It really got to the point where everything I did, everything I said, every action I made people were watching me and judging me.

In short, stop thinking that people care because they really don’t. Do you care if someone spilled their coffee? Are you going to laugh at them? Do you care that the person next to you in class wore the same shirt twice in one week? Do you care about what other people at the mall are doing, saying, wearing? No and they don’t care about you either. You are an extra in their life as they are an extra in yours. Think about this the next time you’re in a public setting. It will help.

Don’t Give a F**k.

I cannot stress this enough. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things you should give a f**k about. Just stop caring about the little insignificant things. Stop caring what people say/think about you and most importantly stop over-analyzing everything. If you want to say something don’t wait for it to pass through the Senate and the House in your brain. Just say it. If you sound stupid don’t worry about it. Chances are the person you were talking was so worried about what they were going to say they didn’t even hear you. Don’t dwell on the conversation later that night. Don’t let the small things ruin your day.

Be Yourself…..Seriously.

This message gets pelted into people’s heads on a daily basis that I think we’ve kind of ignored it but it’s so true. It’s a shame that many people never really realize this. People can see when you are being someone else. I have this weird problem whenever I watch a movie or a T.V. show I start acting like one of the characters. Why I have no idea. Maybe because I think they are cooler than me and if I act like them I will be cool. I will act like them, talk like them, have the same facial expressions, etc. This fails miserably every time I do it. When I act the way I want to everything is better. There are fake people everywhere. Life is too short to live someone else’s life (unless you’re an actor of course).

It Isn’t About How You Fail. It’s About How You Respond Afterwards. 

“I’ve often said that man’s character is not judged after he celebrates a victory but by what he does when his back is against the wall.” -John Cena

This winter has changed me a lot but I can’t say that it would’ve happened if everything went according as planned. I hyped up this winter so much. I thought this would be the quarter that I would make new friends and my social life would finally balloon. I thought my friend and I would get back into lifting and I could make some gains. This didn’t happen. I continued to be the same shy guy I always was. I was really disappointed with my first few articles because I was too worried about my social anxiety and talking to sources rather than focusing on what they had to say. My friend was so swamped with schoolwork that I couldn’t go over to his place to life. It basically resulted in me spending five days out of my week at home, alone doing nothing. If it was former pre-2011 self I would’ve got depressed and spent the entire time video games. Instead I took advantage of my solitude. I started a blog. I started reading…a lot. I became a sponge absorbing all the information I could get. I worked on improving the quality of my articles. I started lifting at school and my house instead. Sure it wasn’t the same but it was better than not lifting at all. Now I’m stronger, smarter, and more inspired than ever. It may be hard but always try to make a positive out of something negative. Don’t give in to it.

In Conclusion…

I just wanted to say thank you for everyone that has read/commented/liked my blog. Writing this has helped me grow a lot. Mostly it has helped me enforce that I am practicing what I preach. I hope it has helped you as well. Good luck to all of you with your dreams and goals.


Worshipping Mediocrity


I don’t mean to offend anyone’s lifestyle or life choices with this post. This is a subject that I have felt adamant about for years and I really feel the need to express my opinion about the matter.

In many societies (especially the United States) there seems to be a dictionary definition for success.

Success- [noun] one who has graduated high school, gotten married, bought a house, reproduced, held a stable job, and if lucky retired in good health.

For a second let’s picture two guys both in their 40’s. Guy #1 is single, has no kids, and lives in an apartment. Guy #2 is married, has three kids, and a nice two-story house in the suburbs with a stable job. Which lifestyle does society frown on? Guy #1. People will talk about Guy #1 in a negative way. What’s wrong with him? Why hasn’t he gotten married yet? Is he gay? He’s such a creep. He needs to settle down. Meanwhile, Guy #2 gets the praise. He’s an engineer, has a wife, three kids, a golden retriever, a white picket fence. Man is he lucky to be living the American Dream.

Why is this sort of judgment ok? Who’s to say that Guy #1 isn’t happier than Guy #2? Perhaps Guy #2 is miserable because he settled for the life everyone told him to live instead of deciding for himself. What if I said Guy #2 went into engineering not because he wanted to but because of the pay and the job security? Who are we to judge whether a person is successful or not?

I don’t have a problem with this lifestyle. I just have a problem with it being the set guideline to follow to be successful. You must get married at X age before you’re the last one of your group of friends to be single. You must have a kid. You must get a mini-van. It seems as if some people simply live this life because they were told to live this way. Not only do we blindly go along with it. We worship it.

The problem is our defining moments in life are things are easily achievable. Think about some of the more important events we celebrate in life. Birthdays, getting married, and having a kid. These are events that the majority of the population can and will experience in their lifetime. What makes these events so special? The sad truth is anyone can get married. The real question is are you willing to put in the effort to maintain that marriage? The vast majority of the population is capable of reproduction. What the vast majority of the population can’t do is raise a child in a way that they will be able to maximize their potential? These are the events that I want to celebrate.

Life is so much more than just getting married and living your life through your kids. No one should limit their selves to these boundaries of success. This may be the American Dream to some but it is not my dream. To me this sounds more like a nightmare. I don’t want to live the same life that millions of people have lived before. I’ve already heard and seen that life through my parents. I’ve already watched that life on T.V. It’s like reading a book you already know the ending to.

Again the point of this was not to bash a person’s lifestyle. I realize that I might have come off hypocritical and started judging people’s lifestyles myself. Truthfully, most people are happy with a life like this and that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with it I just wanted to point out that there are other ways to have a “successful” life. Don’t set imaginary deadlines for when you’re supposed to get married. Don’t pick a career solely based on income and job security. Live the life you truly want and only then will you be successful.

“Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.” – Warren G. Bennis


8 Easy Tips to Improve Your Self-Esteem


I’m sure most of you have seen these top whatever lists everywhere on the Internet. I know I have. My goal here was to try and separate the ones that have worked for me from the ones that didn’t. Here’s a couple of things that I started implementing in the past year that have  bolstered my self-esteem. Most of these changes are relatively easy and affordable and you can start doing them immediately. The most important thing is to stay consistent and make these a habit.

#1 – Treat Your Body Like Everything Else You Love

Do you love your car? Your house? Your guitar? If you do I’m assuming that you take good care of it. You make sure it doesn’t get damaged. You don’t abuse it or neglect it. Why should your body be any different than this. How can you have high self-esteem if you can’t even treat your body right? The two go hand in hand.

#2 – Take Supplements

Make sure you are getting the right nutrients everyday. You should try to get as much as you can in your normal diet but it can be hard to do so. That’s where supplements come in. I would suggest three key supplements everyone should take: Fish oil, Vitamin D, and a regular daily multivitamin.

Fish oil is obvious. There is no reason why anyone shouldn’t be taking it. It’s relatively cheap and the benefits more than pay for it. Increased joint, cardiovascular, brain, and eye health are just some of the more well known benefits. Fish oil has also been shown to increase concentration and reduce symptoms of depression.

Vitamin D is another important supplement to take not only for your physical well being but  mentally as well. Vitamin D is pretty much involved with everything in your body including bones, immune system, and mental health. Vitamin D deficiency is directly related to depression. Your body naturally produces Vitamin D if exposed to around an hour of sunlight a day. The problem is some people have trouble getting enough sunlight with their lifestyle. So if you spend a lot of time outdoors great. If not, consider taking a Vitamin D supplement or better yet go outside.

You can also take a multivitamin if you want. It will help cover for other nutrients that you are not getting enough of in your regular diet. This doesn’t mean you can eat fast food everyday and expect a vitamin to save you. Get your nutrients through your diet first.

#3 – Sleep

Sleep is another no-brainer when it comes to improving your health. Sleep will help repair not only your body but also your brain. A regular adult should be getting around eight hours of sleep every night. It also helps if you have a set bedtime everyday. Your body responds well to having a regular sleep schedule.

#4 – Body Language 

This is key and possibly was the hardest thing on the list for me to get over. Maintain eye contact, speak clearly, keep your head up, chest up, and back straight. This will seem very weird and unnatural at first but eventually you will do these things automatically without thinking. It was hard for me at first. I always mumbled, looked down at the ground, and slouched. Having good body language will radiate confidence. Just take a look around next time you are in a public setting. Observe the people that demonstrate these positive signs of body language. Then look at the people who are walking around with their hands in their pockets staring at the ground. You easily tell who is living their life the way they want to and who isn’t.

#5 – Improve Your Wardrobe

This goes along the lines of taking care of your body. The paint is peeling of your house. What do you do? Paint it. Same thing should apply to your body. I always wore the same thing every day: sneakers, jeans, and the graphic T-shirt of the day. If I was feeling ambitious I would put on a hoodie. Over the past year I have definitely diversified my wardrobe. I’ve notice a huge improvement in my confidence simply by wearing a nice button-up shirt to school as opposed to when I wear my three year old Myrtle Beach T-Shirt. Building a wardrobe does take time so don’t rush out and empty your bank account. Also don’t follow some cookie cutter way of fashion. You can dress to match your personality just dress nicely. Make sure you wear something comfortable that also makes you feel good about yourself.

#6 – Set Achievable Short, Medium, and Long Term Goals

This is one of those tips that’s on everyone’s list in some shape or form. Make goals that are realistic but not easy either. Having goals helps give your life a sense of purpose. There isn’t a better feeling to me than setting a goal and watching it become fulfilled. You should have short-term goals as well as goals for the near future and the distant future. In most cases your short-term goals serve as building block for your ultimate long-term goal.

For example, my short term goals are to pass this quarter of school, cut weight for the summer, and work on my shyness. My goals for the near future include getting my degree, find a job in my field, pay off my debt, and live on my own. My long term goals include becoming an investigative journalist, squat 700 pounds, and travel the world. My ultimate goal is to become the best person that I possibly can.

#7 – Do the Little Things Well

Probably the biggest improvement I’ve seen in myself over the past year is my improved work ethic. Face it. You are not going to be the next Kim Kardashian. You will not become successful overnight by doing nothing. You will have to put in the work to be successful. This means put effort in everything you do including the little things. If the dishes are dirty clean them. If there is an opportunity for extra credit in your class take it. How can you expect to be the head of a Fortune 500 company if you can’t even return your shopping cart to where it’s supposed to go? If you give attention to the little things it leaves you better prepared to handle the big projects.

#8 – Don’t Think About Messing Up

A lot of people with low self-esteem have a similar mindset when they do something. They always try to not mess up and what do they do? They mess it up. Don’t go into something with this mindset. Don’t think about messing up at all. In fact don’t think about it at all. I can’t tell you how many times I have over analyzed something and ended up screwing it up. Most of the time a situation is complicated because you make it out to be that way.

Just Do It™

Just Do It

 


My Story


I don’t want to bore you with a whole biography. I had the typical life of a 90’s child growing up in the Midwest United States. Training wheels, Legos, Hey Arnold, etc. I mainly want to focus on 2011. The year that I would say I was born again.

Before I do get to that though I do want to give a little bit of background info. As my blog description would suggest my entire life I have been shy. Preschool I had one friend. Kindergarten one friend. Middle school, you guessed it, one friend. I crawled out of my shell a little bit in High School but not much. College wasn’t much better as I commuted and didn’t really involve myself with the whole college experience thing. Needless to say, I wasn’t much of a ladies man either. I’m a cocoon that has yet to hatch into a social butterfly.

Other than my social issues I had a great life. I was blessed with a huge, loving family that nurtured me to the person I am now. I had a few friends but all them were terrific people. I had everything that a kid could want. In fact, it always bugged me that my social life was the one faucet of my life that was so screwed up.

I’m not sure why I had so much social anxiety. My self-esteem has always been in the toilet. Something must’ve happened when I was a kid that traumatized me or something. I always felt I was different. I started writing books when I was in 2nd grade. I didn’t want to play sports. I wanted to  create. During recess the kids would have fun together while I would walk around the perimeter of the playground alone letting my imagination run wild. I thought of everything. I would pretend that I was a hero saving the world. I would think of ideas for my stories. I don’t regret this time of my life. I just missed out on an opportune time to develop social skills. As any shy kid knows once you are labeled as the “shy kid” at school it is very hard to change that label.

Anyways accelerate to 2010. I am in college taking gen. eds. because all of the Journalism classes were already full. At my school upperclassmen get precedence so it was very hard to get into the classes I wanted to. At the same time, I entered my fifth year working a dead end job at a fast-food joint. I was really starting to get discouraged. Everyday was exactly the same. On top of all of that my parents were going through divorce and we had to sell our house or else we would go into foreclosure. My Aunt had cancer. My life was falling apart around me. The only thing that kept me going was weightlifting. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a journalist. It’s not like it’s the most in-demand field. It’s what I wanted to do but I started reconsidering my major with a better job lookout. So here I am at he end of 2010, a 20-year-old with a handful of friends, a crumbling family, stuck making sandwiches everyday, crappy car, dim future prospects with a truckload of college debt waiting at the door when I get my degree.

December 2010 was when I had finally had enough. Enough being stuck in a car stuck in neutral sliding down a hill. It was time to shift in drive and step on the gas.  New Years Resolutions hardly ever become fulfilled and I had certainly never fulfilled mine in the past but I was determined to this year. 2011 WILL be the year I get a new job. 2011 WILL be the year I start newspaper writing. 2011 WILL be the year I expand my social circle. 2011 WILL be the year I am happy.

It was a brutal start to the year. Change does not happen overnight. I started listening to motivational music, watching motivational videos, anything motivational.  It’s hard to shift from being pessimistic your entire life and then all of the sudden become optimistic. I almost gave up. My parents finally split for good and my aunt had passed away. That was the all time low for me. Probably the lowest I ever was in life. My plan was failing. I don’t want to say that I thought about suicide but I’m guessing it would have been close if I had not remained optimistic that things would get better. They couldn’t get much worse after all.

March was when everything changed. A job offer. After hundreds of applications in the past four years. After numerous interviews of me getting shot down. Finally a job offer. It was a seasonal job offer only guaranteed throughout spring and summer but I took it. I went in with a chip on my shoulder. I was determined to get hired on full-time. I worked my but off almost 40 hours a week on top of school. My managers and co-workers were impressed. I was impressed too. I never really took pride in my work. I have developed a strong work-ethic since then. A work-ethic I use in all aspects of my life now.

Then other positive things started happening. Our house got sold. We no longer risked foreclosure. We were no longer held down with a massive house payment. My mom, sister, and I moved into a great house that was much cheaper. Eventually I got hired on permanently. I was making more money. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I rode the momentum. I could finally buy a new car to replace my Dodge Neon. I made new friends. By the end of the year was learning how to write articles. I got an internship to write articles at a major newspaper during Winter Quarter.

Some of these changes were a result of external factors. I didn’t sell our house. The majority of them, however, where a result of my changed attitude. I couldn’t believe what a roller coaster year 2011 was for me. From an all-time low to an all-time high in one year. I’m know that there are plenty of people that have had it way worse than me.  I just wanted to show where I am coming from. I feel like you can’t be great until you’ve hit bottom. Micheal Jordan, for example, was kicked off his high school basketball team. I’d say he turned out pretty well.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2012: keep getting better. #1 Focus on my social anxiety. I think I’ve already worked on it tremendously already simply by reporting. I was scared to death my first interview. By my fourth interview I felt much more relaxed. #2 Help others. Stop putting other people down to make me feel better about myself. Help them. #3 Be the best person that I can possibly be. I can finally say that I love my life but there is always room for me to get better. I know it’s impossible to be perfect and I don’t want to be. I do, however, want my dreams to become a reality.

Hopefully I didn’t rabble on too long. I tried to keep it short. I just wanted everyone to see that no matter how low go in life you can always change things. It will not happen with sacrifice. It will not happen with inaction. It will not happen overnight.  It will happen though. As long as you believe that it will.