Monday, December 17, 2012

Quarter Life Crisis Symptoms: Insecurity About The Near Future

                For most of our lives through this point, we’ve pretty much had our lives mapped out for us by someone else. You go to elementary school, and then you’re going to middle school, and then high school. After or during high school we start to get some freedom to make our own choices about what we want to do with our lives but if you go to college it’s all mapped out for you again, at least rough sketch of a map anyway. The class you’ll have to take, when you’ll take them depending on their availability and so on.
                It’s no wonder we can feel a little insecure about the future in our twenties. Now we have total freedom to steer this Titanic-like ship called life. You ever feel like, no matter what decisions you make right now, they just aren’t going to turn out good in the future? Yep you’re in the middle of a quarter life crisis. Well you’re not alone. I wrote this as I was thinking about all my insecurities about the future. First poem I wrote in a while. I used to have a poetry book when I was younger but then took a poetry class in college and started to disdain the art. But I’ve been feeling way more inspired lately. So here you go:

A Breakthrough
My presence in the present has been presented
With some pressing issues that are mostly just
Unreconciled problems from my prelude

I guess that means my mind is mounted
With mixed emotions that misguiding
My maneuvers through this maze called life

You see I’m stuck and I’m trapped, I’m scared and I’m trembling
I’m suspicious so I don’t trust anyone not even my own decisions
That can both seduce and tempt me to put my faith where it doesn’t belong

But is that wrong?

Is it wrong to wish that I would one day be a winner
Instead of whining about wonders that were
Beyond my weight

Or is this fate?

Fate that I live in fear? No! Fact that I feel unforgiveness? Never!
Face the world with a front because I fear the feelings
That I may cause fellow man may feel? Not on my watch!

See I was made to overcome, made to get it done,
Made to have some fun, made to stand back and hold my ground
In the midst of danger when other say it time to run

No longer will I fear the future in exchange of my failures.
Fortune and fame may not follow this fellow
But forget about fairing in history, it’s time to formulate a new future

Perception has taught me that the past was a present
So I present my presence with a new precept
It’s time to pass being prisoner of my past
And begin being a pioneer of my future 

12/22/12: The Most Awkward Day of History..

                I know I wrote a blog on it about two weeks ago but I don’t really believe in this end of the world stuff on 12/21/12. I have no reason to believe the world is going to end. I mean that religious guy told us that that world was going to end last October and that didn’t happen. So, if you have a tendency to believe all this superstition stuff I wouldn’t do what a lot of people did then and sell all your stuff because then you’ll be homeless.
                I’ve also noticed that no one really cares this time around either. I feel like last December people were more frantic for 2012 than we are in 2012. They even made a movie about. According to the box office, no one really cared about that movie either.
                I just realized while writing this blog, that it’s going to irreverent in about 5 days no matter what happens. Kind of makes me what to write about something have you noticed how commercial Christmas is these days?
                I never get gifts for anyone. What makes December 25th so important anyway? Are we still saying it’s Jesus’ birthday because we all know now that there’s more evidence that he was born in the Spring, so that’s not flying anymore.
                And what’s with this fat white guy coming down my chimney? I don’t have a chimney, never had one. Most inner-city children don’t. So what, Santa just “conveniently” can’t give all the inner-city children toys because they don’t have chimneys? Nice try white people, but I’m not falling for that one.
                I read someone somewhere in some article on some website that probably has as much as credibility as my blog that some kid got suspended from some school for saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. That’s stupid. Now if the kid is even as remotely of a smart-alic like I was then he probably said something like: “What do mean I can’t say Merry Christmas? Whatever happened to my religious freedom that our Founding Fathers put in our Constitution? Or are we denying the rest of my first amendment rights as well? So saying you’re telling me that saying Merry Christmas might offend some of my fellow student? Well then you tell Prakesh that he can’t wear his turban to school because his turban offends all the decent people who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Oh what? Now I’m ignorant and intolerant? Says the guy who won’t allow hard working tax paying citizens say Merry Christmas in class!  I can’t wait until the rapture happens. I hope I’m with you and your Jewish family having dinner so I can see the look on your face when Jesus comes back. I hope we’re at a nice restaurant enjoying our ice teas and complimentary bread. And Jesus comes and rips the roof off the restaurant that’s owned by Prakesh’s family own that they bought with the money from their oil company just as we’re about to order. And I hope it’s the first day of Chanukah when He comes and you and your Jewish family just stares up at his illuminated body with your mouths open speechless. And right before he calls me up to paradise I turn to the waiter and say, ‘I’ll be having the pork chops’ and then look at you and say ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Principal. Merry freakin Christmas!!”  In that case he deserves to be suspended.
                But yeah 12/22/22 is going to be an awkward day in history. ;)

Hard Work, Humility, & Hustle

                So I was having a conversation about poverty with my roommate. (Because that’s what poor people do, is talk about how poor they are) And after I had that conversation, I decided that I’m not going to be poor for the rest of my life. So as of today I’m not poor anymore!
                Yep, it was that simple I just made a decision. I decided I wasn’t going to let money hold me back from doing the things I want to do, like eat. I realized there is no reason for me to be poor. I don’t live very expensively and my bills are relatively manageable. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t have money. I see people come to this country (United States) with nothing and make a living for themselves. How is it that I after being raised in this country, I can’t even get by? I realized that essentially it comes down to three things for me:

Hard Work
Five years ago I was kicked out the house at 17 years old. I had a job but no place to live. So I moved to 3,000 miles across country to Eugene, Oregon. I didn’t know anyone out there and I had only $135. Yet in two and half days I found a new job, a place to live, and a way to pay for school at the University of Oregon. How did I do that? Hard work. My first semester in college, I worked 50 hours a week and went to school. 3 days a week I would close the drive thru at Wendy’s. I would get off at 3:30 or 4 in the morning walk home and then get up and catch the bus to be at class at 8am for the next 5 hours or so before heading to my second job.  Yeah I was dead tired but I knew it was what I had to do. There was no fall back plan. I didn’t have any relatives I could stay with out there and going back home wasn’t an option. I just knew it had to be done. I need to get back to that kind of hard work. I don’t care what you do, when you come home from a long day of hard work you just feel so accomplished.

I’ve realized since I moved to LA back in 2009, I’ve become a little Hollywood. There are jobs that I think are “beneath” me. Talk to me back in 2007, and I would’ve done anything and work any job. Nothing was beneath me because I had hit rock bottom. It’s time to be that humble. A few weeks ago I didn’t have any money and no real hot job leads so I stood outside Home Depot. Yep that’s right. A +3.0GPA high school graduate, who once was on a full academic scholarship at the University of Oregon, studying Psychology and Japanese, while being involved with the Student Government and various leadership programs on campus was standing outside of Home Depot with undocumented illegal citizens who didn’t speak any English, waiting for someone to drive by and offer me a job. I didn’t get anything (maybe because people thought I was undercover or something) but nonetheless it was a very humbling experience. But whenever I’ve humbled myself like that my world gets opened up to opportunities that I didn’t even know existed.

It’s true I need to work way hard, but my brain is probably the strongest muscle I have in my body (my biceps don’t even compare) I need to worker smarter as well. The other day I realized that there’s so many different way to have multiple sources of income and I am more than capable of tackling a few of them all at once. Plus given my expertise at the board game Monopoly there’s something about hustling and making a come up that I just get. The other day I left the house with no money in my wallet. Within an hour I had $31. Just from hustling. Not to mention my roommate was with me and I helped him make a come up of $85. I’m not talking about taking advantage of people, that conning. Hustling is different from conning. Hustling is about being an opportunist and making the most of every opportunity. I realized I could hustle a long time ago, but it became more evident to me about a month ago when I was asked to lead fundraising event for my church. The group I led made about $1300 in three days from about 2 hours of work a day. I just need to have a hustler mentality and make the most of every opportunity.

Yep, so that’s it, I’m not going to be poor anymore. I’m probably won’t be rich, but I don’t want to be. I just want move on to the next part of life and be able to tackle it without having to worry about money. I believe that in this country (United States) poverty can be avoided for most of us through a little hard work, humility, and hustle. This combined with a little bit of discipline in my finances and I poverty will be in rear view mirror.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Fundamentals: Rise Up!

              Being from Georgia, I am naturally an Atlanta Falcons fan. If you don’t who they are, they are Atlanta, Georgia’s professional football team. Currently right now they are tied for the best record (11-2, 11 wins and 2 loses) in the National Football League (NFL).  I always keep a close watch on the Falcons, even during the years they had horrible seasons. I am not bandwagon fan. Whether we go 0-16 or 16-0, I am a diehard Atlanta Falcons fan! This season has been unique and it’s not just because they are winning a lot of games. But this year they’ve this campaign going on called Rise Up! The idea being that every team has obstacles to face but only the great teams rise up the occasion and overcome those obstacles. For the Falcons that obstacle is winning in the playoffs where they’ve lost the first game of the playoffs every year for the past for years. So what does this has to do with having a quarter life crisis?
                In life we all face challenges. I don’t know what yours are and you don’t know what mine are but we all have them. But in order to become who we are meant to become we must rise up to these challenges and face them head on. Some people, and I can be guilty of this myself, run away from problem after problem. And I’m not talking about they back down in the face of adversity and coward to a corner and cry like a little schoolgirl. I’m talking about making excuses as to why something didn’t work out. Or complaining about life circumstances. Talking about how unfair life is.
                Well here’s something that you probably don’t want to hear me say: Life’s rough and it’s unfair. Now don’t get me wrong sometimes people are treated maliciously and cruelly by other people and those injustices need to be brought to the public’s attention and my heart goes out to those people. But even still we all been given our life and we’re only going to get one of it. And each life comes with its on set of challenges.
                I’m not saying things aren’t hard or things aren’t fair. I’m saying the exact opposite: things are hard and things are unfair, but what are you going to do about it? I think in order for anyone going through any kind of challenge in their life, they need to rise up to the occasion and overcome. Maybe they need to rise up emotionally, maybe they need to rise financially, or maybe it’s something in their character that needs to be refined. Nothing in life worth having is going to be free or easy. Someone is going to have to give their blood for it, why not be you?
                Is this challenging? Making you a little uneasy? That’s because it should. I can’t tell you how many I needed someone to shake things up in my life and just tell me the truth about things. If life seems too hard right now, it isn’t. If things seem unbearable, they’re not. If things seem too difficult, they aren’t. If life seems unfair, that’s because it is. But, now what? Someone gave you a life and it’s your decision what you’re going to do with it. We all can think a person who had “the odds stacked up against them” and yet rose up to the challenge. This is a time to rise up. Do everything you can that is within your ability and after you have, don’t quit until you see what you want accomplished, accomplished.  I really do hope the Atlanta Falcons rise up, but the questions for your life is what are your obstacles and will you rise up?

Help I’m Having a Quarter Life Crisis! #Firstworldproblem #Mylifeissohard

                The more I think about it the more I realize that going through a quarter life crisis is such a first world problem. Have you seen the reality TV shows about people going through a quarter life crisis? It’s nothing but 27 year-olds with minimal income jobs, who still live at home with their parents, and spend most of their time having fun and partying talking about how confused they are. They make it seem like going through a quarter life crisis is the hip thing to do. Like everybody should try it because it’s so much fun.
                The more I think about it, the more I realize that going through a quarter life crisis is something  only people living in first world countries can go through.  Not to make too much light of the quarter life crisis, I mean after all, it is the entire topic of my blog and without it I wouldn’t have anything to write about (of course, if I wasn’t going through a quarter life crisis that would mean I would have my life together and therefore wouldn’t have time to blog about how I don’t have my life together…. But I digress..) but I’m pretty sure 20 year olds in 3rd world countries aren’t stressing out about what they want to do with their life.
                I always see first or second generation students from 3rd world countries come to America, crank through college and turn in a very successful and satisfying life. I think that is because people from 3rd world countries view life in a totally different perspective than people from 1st world countries. For them, I imagine, because I haven’t lived a day in their shoes, certain things in life aren’t options but they are necessities. Such as finishing school. For me, finishing college is an option amongst the many I have here in America. We all know plenty of people who didn’t finish school and still had a successful life. So for me, school is just another option I have. If I find a better option or one I like it more I might be more incline to take that route. However, I imagine someone who grew up where most people didn’t have chance to learn how to read, let alone go to college, getting a degree is an absolute necessity not just for themselves but their family as well.
                What makes a first world problem a first world problem is that it’s all the things we more privileged people whine about. Like a phone that doesn’t take pictures or the remote being on the other side of the room. In actually it’s not a problem, we’re just, to put it lightly, a bunch of spoiled brats. When I think about it that way, it makes me more grateful that I have an opportunity to take the chance figure myself out for a little bit because there are many people my age all around the world who do not have time to figure themselves out because too many people are depending on them to make the right choices in life. It also makes me to want to stop whining about all my problems and challenge the rest of you guys to suck it up as well. If you’re going through a quarter life crisis suck it up, your life isn’t that hard! It’s just a first world problem. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quarter-Life Crisis Symptoms: Identity Crisis

           If I were to ask you, “Who are you?” what would you tell me? Would you tell me your name? Would you tell me your ethnicity? Would you tell me where you’re from or what you like to do for fun? What would you say? Would you tell me where you work or what you’re studying in school? Would you tell me about your sexual orientation? Would you tell me about your family and friends? What adjectives would you use to describe yourself? What about your religious affiliation?  Now here’s the real question: Do any of those answers really justify who you are?
               Identity Crisis! That’s a way to sum up a quarter life crisis. Who the heck am I? So here we are in our mid-twenties trying to figure out who we are. You would think that after about 19 years of living with ourselves we would have figured it out by now but for some reason we’re probably more confused now than we’ve ever been. I always would think to myself, how do I even answer a question like who am I? Yet I think “Who am I” is journey of the quarter life crisis.
Much time and thought is put into that question. Our desires and decision-making stem directly from who we are. During a quarter life crisis, people often have confusion over their identity. Maybe they’ve been headed down a certain path only to find out that, not only do they not like where they are headed, but they never did in the first place. Or maybe they were supposed to figure out what they wanted in college and never did.
The truth is our identity is an ongoing process. People are never static in their identity, but rather are always changing based on the experience of life. The best way I can describe a person is like a river. Let’s say we could record one spot of a river for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. How many different things would see if that video? How many different leaves would cross that screen? Get stuck on a hanging branch before continuing downstream. How many different people would you see playing in that spot of the river? Some stay there for hours and come back day after day, others just simply drifting by as the current takes them downstream. What about beneath the surface? Sure there would be rocks on the bottom on that spot of the river but even that would either find its way downstream push by the current or stable but eroded by the water, maybe covered in algae after a while. There would be days and there would be nights. Maybe the river would get frozen in the winter and flood in the spring.
Aren’t you like that spot of the river? Constantly changing and moving? You aren’t the same person you were last year and you won’t be the same person next year. There will be many days and many nights. There will be many leaves (experiences) you have. People will come and go. Some only once in your life other stay a little longer. Even the rocks of your life (your deepest beliefs or convictions) will change over time, and sometimes life will leave it’s lasting mark on it (that’s the algae). So who are you? Who are we? Who I am? I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll be a different person tomorrow and a new person next week changed by this week’s experiences. So who am I you ask? The best way I think I can describe myself is I am a Professional Human Being hoping to retire with my name in the Human Being Hall of Fame.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The World Just Put In Its Two Week Notice

This article was originally written December 7th, 2012 but it took a little while to get it up. Give me a break I'm going through a quarter life crisis :P 
               Hey, I don’t know if you noticed, but today is December 7th 2012. You know what that means! Only two weeks left to live. That’s right all you quarter life crisers, the world is ending in exactly two weeks, so if you’re still trying to figure out what to do with your life and you’re horrible at planning, the good news is you only have to plan for two weeks. The bad news: you only have two weeks…. L
               I don’t know about you, but with the world ending in two weeks, it makes going through a quarter life crisis a lot easier. Five year plan? HA! I don’t even need a five-week plan! The world ending in two weeks is a huge plus for us people going through a quarter life crisis. Let me tell you why:
1.      I don’t have to worry about finding a real job because come December 21st there won’t be ANY jobs. Real or fake ones like blogging. That’s right all you people who take pride having a successful career, guess what? Your career is coming to a very sudden end very very soon my friend.
2.      Since the world is ending there’s no need to have a crisis anymore. Before I was all worried about the kind of impact I could have on the world before I die. Psssshh! Forget that! I’m doing like Ke$ha living tonight like I’m going to die young because you know what I am going to die young. (Disclaimer: Only in the event of the world coming to an immediate end do I promote and Ke$ha-like behavior. Otherwise, I in no way, shape, or form condone any Ke$ha-like behavior)
3.      Speaking you of dying. You know that quote, “Only the good die young” Well guess who has two thumbs and is dying at the tender age of 23? This guy!!
4.      No Christmas Shopping!!!!! Sorry all you idiots who got trampled on Black Friday, but no Christmas this year. Sorry all you little children who mailed your Christmas List to Santa, but no Christmas this year. Sorry girlfriend, I know you say I never buy you anything but I’m sure you’ll understand this one timeJ. Sorry Jesus for turning your birthday into a materialistic marketing scheme. To make up for it, we’ll be cancelling Christmas this year.
It also makes going through a quarter life crisis not so much of a crisis anymore. It makes it more of a nice opportunity to make a really cool story before the end of history. Remember all those ice breaker questions like, “If you had two weeks left to live, what would you do?” Well guess whaaaaaaaaaaat? If you didn’t have an answer then, you better get to it now! I feel that for real quarter life crisers, nothing changes. I mean we weren’t really doing anything with our lives before the end of the world, why should anything change now?
In all seriousness though, if you only had two weeks left to live, what would you do? Leave your response in the comment section. J

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Exposing the Lies: The Past Predicts The Future

               “This is how I am. This is how I've always been and this is how I am always going to be.” I would listen to my mom say that phrase over and over again for years. And if she wasn't the subject, then she would replace herself with another person, or her job, or her situation and sometimes even me. As a young boy I always thought my mom was stupid for thinking such thoughts, let alone saying them out loud. For the life of me, I couldn't comprehend why a person would even consider living their life by such a conviction. When I was younger I couldn't empathize with what my mom, or any human being with the same kind of thought process.
               But now I can. I still believe it’s a lie we can tell ourselves, but now I can relate to what my mom and many other people out there are going through. In some ways, it’s a very rational thought process. Like the old quote says, "If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got". Makes sense. If I've been a certain way my whole life, chances are I’ll be that way for the rest of my life right? Wrong.
               This lie is a dangerous lie because it prevents us from changing. Change is a necessity of life and it’s a good thing as well. If you had a baby that stayed the same size year after year, you’d be concerned right? You want your baby to change and grow, but when you continue to be the same person year after year, you of course start feeling bad and defeated. Sometimes to make sense of our feelings of defeat we start to believe that change is not possible. But that is only true if you allow it to true.
               The past doesn't predict the future because the past doesn't take into account the present. There are so many things you can in the present, even today, that will change what will take place in the future. Remember, “IF you do what you've always done..” The key word is “if”. You don’t have to continue to do the same things you've been doing. Just because something didn't work out in the past doesn't mean that something else won’t work out in the future. You can decide to be different right now.
               I know what you’re thinking: “How do I be different? Or how do I do things differently?” Recently I was counseling a group of young men between the ages of 18-22. A few of the young men recently decided to move out there parents’ house for the first time and get a place together. However, after the first few months, they all started to struggle with paying the rent. Month after month they were either late or unable to pay their rent. Even the ones who were getting help from their parents still had trouble paying the bills. They soon realized that something was not right and they if they didn't change something they would soon be out of a place to stay, but like most of us, they all asked the same question, “How do I change?” When I got together with these young men, I explained to them that you can’t live like boys and expect to reap the fruits of men. Basically, if you continue to live like you’re at home with your parents, then eventually you will be back at home with your parents. The solution was they had to get out of their comfort zones and do some things they had never done before. Even if it is as simple as going to a temp agency or filling out job applications, they needed to get out of their comfort zone.
               So the same is true for you and me if we don’t want to fall victims to the lies. We must think creatively and step outside our comfort zone and do something that we've never done before, otherwise we’ll get the same results we always do. I know it’s uncomfortable but unless you want to live in the past for the rest of your life, then you can't let the past predict the future.