The Future Will do Wonders for my Complexion

In my future lies sustainability, rain forests full of tropical frogs, and a golden tan in the month of November. Absolutely no winter fade for me; I’m going to Costa Rica!

For my last semester as an undergraduate, I’ll be studying abroad. I’m going to have the time of my life – or so I hope. (But let’s be serious here; there’s a 90% chance it’ll be the college adventure I’ve always dreamed of.)

Yesterday was my final study Abroad Orientation. I won’t tell you much about it because it wasn’t very fun, but it did remind me that I’ve made yet another step in my journey. At the meeting, we were told to write our expectations and fears about studying abroad on little pink and blue index cards. My fear: getting lost in my host country. My expectation: get lost in my host country.

This has a dual meaning. First, I possess the navigational skills of a golden retriever puppy set free in the jungle, so I see myself losing my way during an excursion at some point. Second, I see myself immersed in culture, diversity, and adventure. Losing myself, I plan to find who I am. Everyone grows from studying abroad – and I aim to do just that. I don’t have the clearest vision for the future, but I hope to thin the fog a little in Costa Rica. I’m going to learn and experience the most amazing things.

Not everyone gets the chance to experience such an epic transformation, but I do. I’m extremely blessed to be given this opportunity; the chance to encounter something so positively extraordinary.

May 3, 2013

Humans are extremely skilled at gift-wrapping themselves in the decorative aspects of life, forgetting a very important part of it: living.

Last spring, a Rider Senior died in a car crash right in front of the University. Weeks away from graduation, Eliseo Diaz lost his life.

Immediately after the accident, the campus was silenced for days. Eliseo and I never had a full conversation, but had mutual friends and greeted each other on occasion. His brothers, members of TKE, however, were very close friends of mine. To see their pain over his loss was heartbreaking.

In the midst of this sorrow and misfortune, Eliseo Diaz changed my life. During his several memorial services, three things stuck out to me. One, was the support of the Rider community to honor Eliseo. Two, was a couple walking back to their dorm after a vigil. There was a beauty in the way they looked at each other in the mournful silence. Three, was a word of advice given by one of Eliseo’s closest friends, Eric. He said,

“Let us not mourn, but live. We need to live for Eliseo.”

After that weekend, I decided to cherish every moment I had. When I walked outside, I admired the breaths of air I inhaled with each step. I wanted to make sure I treated the people around me with the utmost appreciation. I made sure my friends and family knew I cared about them. I treated every person in my life as if I wouldn’t be able to see them tomorrow, including strangers.

These changes I made are practices of gratitude: to truly appreciate the things we have in this world and to live fully each moment inside of it.

Too often, life is taken for granted. The simplest difficulties cloud our sight of the blessings around us. There is good everywhere; to see it is to simply open your eyes. Each day is precious, and by practicing gratitude, we expose the world’s wonders, which can help us live to love. This is the ultimate happiness; remembering to see and experience life in its most beautiful form.

Keeping around the bad boy? Basic. Think before you sacrifice for love

The love of your life could really just be an Asian man dressed in a kimono. So, be careful of who you give your heart to.

In David Hwang’s M. Butterfly, (wait! don’t go…I know this sounds like an essay but I promise it’s just a blog. Also, it’s an entertaining play, I swear!) The main character, Rene Gallimard, falls in love with a beautiful, alluring opera singer and doesn’t find out she’s a man until 20 years after.

The play discusses the perception Western men have of Oriental women. If you can get an Oriental woman to fall in love, she’ll do anything for you. They’re nothing but submissive and powerless. “Before you know it, every last one of them- they’re stripped and splashing around my pool. There’s no moon out, they can’t see what’s going on, their boobs are flapping, right? You close your eyes, reach out-its grab bag, get it?” (12). Wild, right? I showed that page to all my friends after I read it.

So this man Gallimard is seriously unattractive but plays macho and wins the heart of the mysterious Butterfly. To test her limits and win her over, he charms her and then doesn’t call her back; he straight drops her. Despite (and because of) his absence, she continues to write him letters. He only returns to her after she says, “I am out of words, I can hide behind dignity no longer […] I have already given you my shame” (30). Ironically, by the end of the play, gender roles are switched and Gallimard turns into the weak, feminine character. Tricked by a man for years, he ends up sacrificing himself over love. He kills himself because he had lost everything to be with her only to end up loveless, duped, and in prison.

One question. After all that time, how did you not know???

“Happiness is so rare that our mind can turn somersaults to protect it” – (47).

People see what they want to believe. Being in love is something so special that throws any rationality out the window. In our own lives, we play characters that exhibit the same behavior as Gallimard. If we could see the dramatic irony of our own decisions, we’d pull our hairs and sit on the edge of our seats wondering how we could be so unaware.

Our society is filled with young boys and girls who will do anything for a relationship – even an unhealthy one. Emotion and sexual drive overlook red flags. The signs are there: you find yourself second-guessing, wondering if they actually care about you. They don’t treat you like you should. You recognize flaws in the relationship but brush them to the side because you’d rather put up with the little things than lose them completely. You give up your pride to keep them around.

This behavior is all too familiar; for anybody, it’s the easy, basic choice. It’s much harder to open your eyes and understand what you deserve.

There’s an alternative: recognize your worth. If you can’t see it, then work on it. Be independent and dedicate your time to efforts that will build you up, not tear you down. It seems difficult, but loving yourself comes first. Once this happens, real love is much easier to come across.

Tiniest Work Cited You’ve Ever Seen:

Hwang, David Henry. M. Butterfly. London: Penguin, 1989. Print

Motivation to Be Exceptional (Again But With More Emphasis)

Far too often, we settle for the minimum. For example, many college students do just the right amount of work to earn a satisfying GPA. Did you ever hear that C’s get degrees? It’s true. Whenever we have the option to do just enough to get by, we tend to take it. Less work for us! Why put in the extra effort? Doesn’t effort cause wrinkles? I’ve heard that’s true, too.

This mindset is soo basic.

Taking a step back, we should see that every day is a blessing; what we do with our lives and how we choose to spend the moments in it is completely up to us. Life is full of opportunities because no matter the circumstance, life can be shaped in whatever way we’d like. All it takes is recognition of this fact, a correct and positive mindset of goals, and a motivation to fulfill them.

“Life is too short. If you want to change things […] then how you present yourself and your ideas matters a great deal. Why not be different?” posed Gary Reynold’s in his book, Presentation Zen.

We should aim high and challenge ourselves a little! It’s good for character building. It’s good for society! Where would we be without the extraordinary people who excelled in their field? Innovation occurs when we step outside our boundaries, explore the unknown, and discover something new. Difference allows for growth.

“Humans love the unexpected. We love some element that makes us go “Aah!” The brain loves novelty.”

-Steve Jobs

With their fresh set of knowledge and ideas, people should want to promote change. Each individual has an opportunity to bring his or her talents, skills, and characteristics to foster positivity. In order to accomplish this, barriers must be broken. Our lives can be seen as a presentation where we influence an audience.

Reynolds expresses, “Making a presentation is an opportunity to make a small difference in the world […] if you are different, if you exceed expectations […] chances are you’ll make an impact and a difference, even if its just in the smallest of ways.”

Life has so much more meaning when we take the opportunities that life gives us to positively inspire those around us and to promote change by being great.

How to Avoid Being Basic…Well We’ll Get There

basic |ˈbāsik| (adjective)
• used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.
-Urban Dictionary

• offering or consisting in the minimum required without elaboration or luxury; simplest or lowest in level
• common to or required by everyone
-New Oxford American Dictionary

By definition, being basic isn’t a favorable characteristic to have. Still, everyone posseses it. Do you and your friends secretly feel kinda cool holding Starbucks cups together when you walk to class? Are you still wearing flannels? Basic.

Even I’m guilty of melting myself with Taylor Swift songs when I meet a new boy I like. Just yesterday I had my friend take a “candid” picture of myself looking at  the ground because I liked my outfit and wanted to post a new Instagram picture.

It happens and it’s not our fault. In reality, people just can’t help but be painfully average; like I said, it’s just in our human nature. Luckily, our pop culture has brought attention to this issue. On the bright side, there’s also someone out there with a solution to the problem. And that’s me.

Now, if you’re a basic person and that’s what makes you happy… by all means carry on.  There’s a time and place for certain basicness.

However if your life feels a little too average, as if it lacks a little something, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate some things. Life is much more extraordinary if you stand out. In a field full of white daisies, be a rhino eating salad from their pretty little stems. Avoid being like everyone else.

Any successful leader will tell you the same. Their advice always sounds like this: be different – be innovative – be remarkable! Jonathan Morrow, author at Copyblogger, tells us in one of his brilliant posts,

“If your life is a soul-sucking heap of mediocrity, then your writing will be a soul-sucking heap of mediocrity. […] The difference between a legendary writer and a merely good one isn’t mechanics. It’s intensity.”

Look at it as a way of life. This philosophy can help you make an impression on those you meet. You could be the type of person that people will remember. If you don’t happen to naturally be an inspiring person (which is a conversation I’ll have to discuss with you in my next post) all you need to do is put in some effort.

You won’t be alone. This blog will help identify some of the problems we all share and can offer a means to change.