Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I will tell you something people. Being a responsible adult is TOUGH. You have to go to work, you have to pay bills, you have to keep a schedule, it gets pretty terrifying. But something I am also realizing these days is that being responsible isn't just about paying my bills on time or not going out crazy the night before a long day at work, it's about accepting the fact that I am responsible for my actions as well.
I know it seems an obvious epiphany. In first grade all my teachers said "Worry about yourself," or "You're only responsible for you," but I am just now realizing all that those sayings entail. It used to mean not tattling on the kid copying off my homework (which was almost invariably correct by the way) but now I see more and more that it is about taking responsibility for my actions on a larger scale in life.
For instance, I recently sought the help of my parents to get a hold of credit card debt. The debt was increasing, and I wasn't holding myself accountable for my spending habits. I would pay a decent amount, then see something I wanted or have an emergency and I would simply swipe. Eventually I realized that the amount I was paying back to the credit card people was actually hindering me from putting away money for savings, and sometimes even day-to-day expenses. So I had to go to my parents, all 25 years of me, and have them co-sign the various paperwork that will now ensure a lower payment and essentially make me debt-free by 30 with the exception of student loans (can't put a price on education people). It was hard, even embarrassing. But I realized that until I took responsibility for my actions, I would never be able to live the life and invest in the future I imagined for myself.
A consistent theme for myself and in recent stories I have heard from friends is that of placing blame. Placing blame sounds like "I wouldn't have done this if.." "If only I knew who..." "If he/she hadn't said that.." "If I hadn't been in such a bad way..." "But I really needed to..." etc. I have concocted excuse after excuse so no matter what anyone says, I can get out of accepting responsibility. I have seen countless people come up with INSANE lies, scenarios, and schemes to avoid negative consequences resulting from their own actions. It is exhausting!
We always live in fear of the moment. What if someone finds out? What if they know? What will everyone say? The fact of the matter is, if you do something wrong there will be consequences. They will not typically be pleasant, but I guarantee you if you take responsibility you will see that everything will still be alright and if anything, life will be easier once you let it go. If there's one thing we have learned from celebrity scandals it is that haters gonna hate until the next juicy bite comes along. It is easy to blame someone or something for why we acted a certain way. But no matter what the contributing factors, only you can decide how to proceed.
It is not always what you do either. Other people are going to wrong you as well along the way. Many people have done unsavory things to me in recent times and I will say it would feel so good just to blast them out of the water with my genius revenge tactics. But at the end of the day, I am far from perfect. You can hold people accountable without making them feel like garbage or becoming a villain yourself.
As I navigate the ever-perilous mid-twenties I am coming to the conclusion that rather than worrying about who might find out what I did I should try to do things I don't mind people knowing about. If I am stressing about a purchase before I even get in line, I probably shouldn't buy it. If I am contemplating brilliant revenge techniques I should remember all the times I was treated with grace by those I have wronged. And when I do mess up I should acknowledge my fault, apologize, and realize the world will go on turning. The truth is we are never too old to mess up, but we are old enough to know how to handle it in order to grow up. We are capable of being the best people we can be and accountable for the times when we fail. Ultimately, being responsible means taking the good with the bad, learning from it, and striving to do right consistently in the future, even if that means taking your friend's advice and only instagramming your cats 28 times a week instead of 100. But who's keeping track? Happy Tuesday!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
It is easy to list what you are thankful for and what you have. But sometimes the holidays can also make blatantly clear what you do not have. Maybe you don't have money, maybe you don't have the job you want, or maybe you don't have a significant other to cuddle with on a snow day. Whatever it may be, there is just as much sadness at the holidays as there is cheer, hope, and wonder. This point is particularly significant to me because I work in an industry that encourages people to consistently think about what they do not have. Is corporate America and consumerism ruining tradition? Are we forgetting the people in exchange for the price? This begs the question, "Who are the people?"
The answer is different for everyone, but I try and think of it like this. Many times this year I have needed a real friend and I have been blessed with several who are always there saying exactly what I need and being exactly what I need. I am thankful for my friend who let me stay at her house while I waited for an apartment even though she just had a baby and started a new relationship. She was there, helpful, loving, and even allowed me to stay for free. I am thankful for my friend who, although we moved apart takes time to check in and have coffee with me; who drops everything on a Sunday to do my hair so even in my darkest hour I can find that shred of confidence. I am thankful for my friend who sends me a thank-you card not knowing it would come at exactly the right time, and who calls me at way-too-late east coast time to make sure I am ok. I am thankful for my friends who meet up with me at the drop of a hat when I am upset. I am thankful for my mom and dad, who know precisely when to talk, when to listen, and when to say "ok I will pay for the shirt." I am thankful for my sister, who is finally coming home. I am even thankful for the people who have exited my life, for what they shared with me, for what I learned, and for how I can be better in the future.
As I think about these people, among the many others who make my life meaningful, I realize that in some way, all these people are customers. The girl who buys the new dress may be the girl who calls her friend at way-too-early west coast time to make sure her friend is ok. The girl who tries on every boot may be the girl who came home from her first job to spend some time with her family. If I think about it this way, it becomes a little easier to swallow that yes, I have to go to bed early on Thanksgiving so I can work on Black Friday. I have often said that everyone has a story, and for as many mean people I get in my store I get just as many caring ones who keep a dress on the hanger so we can put it right back out on the floor when they return it. To me, no matter what the situation, the holidays are about caring for people.
In conclusion, not every customer will be the person who makes it seem alright to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, etc. But I truly believe, that sometimes the shopping experience can really provide an avenue for people to bond, get to know each other, and have a really good laugh. I hope that every person shopping on Thanksgiving is considerate of the employee who left their table to make some magic for you, and I hope that every person working this holiday season sees the light in all of their customers, for better or worse. I am fortunate to have a lot to be thankful and think-ful for this Thanksgiving and I look forward to both the work and the rest, even if it will mean extra gym time to work off my love of stuffing and sweet potatoes. Happy Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I began thinking about this pretty deeply recently, since everyone keeps saying "I have no time." It comes with the fall I guess. School starts, activities start, people move, babies grow, seasons change, people get married, the holidays approach, etc. It gets crazy! In music, all time has a measure, a value, and you can use time, fast or slow, to evoke emotions from your audience and yourself. But how do you keep time in life?
It appears to me that time in music and time in life are not all that different. Both have measures of rest where you can breathe or relax, and in both you must keep track of where you are so you're not late when you have to play again. You keep the tempo steady while you're playing, you find a pace you can keep in life, and you add in things or activities when the music or when the calendar dictates. At the end of the piece or day, you usually slow down before starting something new or doing it over again.
I can't tell you how many times I have said "I'm sorry I haven't had the time." The thing is, time is a constant, but it is an otherwise empty constant until we fill it. Whenever I say I haven't had time I always know that whatever I forgot simply was not a priority for me. When I fill my time I have things that come first, second, third, and some that aren't even on my radar. I find it tremendously difficult to keep time and make time. I realize though, that in music, there is always time for every detail to unfold exactly the way it should, you just have to work up to incorporating every single one. Life, I find, is the same way. You must work to balance every aspect to make each day a beautiful thing.
In music, if you neglect certain sections, the piece can't go on as it should. We all need to learn that even if we feel we don't have time, we must make time for the things that matter. When I "make" time in music, it is the hours I spend practicing and going back to difficult sections in a piece and making them coalesce with the stronger parts. When I make time in life, I go to the people who mean the most and strengthen my relationships with them so their places in my life are secure.
Life, like music, takes practice. So what do you do when it seems everything is getting away from you? Even in the fastest, most frenetic pieces of music there are rests, or parts where you do not play. The trick is finding where your rests are and what you can do to make the most of them. For instance, my friend and I recently moved to our own separate apartments, and it has been super hard to see her. Instead of trying to hang out at night when we are both exhausted, we make time to have coffee at 8am and debrief before the day starts. We usually meet at a halfway point between our locations, which means going a little out of our way to spend time. To me, that time means more than anything because we take the time to be present with each other even though there is a lot happening. If you know where your rests are or will be, make plans to hang out in advance. It can make all the difference.
You MUST know your priorities. If you can't do 8am coffee, take 4 seconds to send a text and let someone know you're happy to have them as a part of your life. No matter how you keep your time, people are what matter, and if you let other things get in the way, you end up hurting others and yourself. We are blessed to live in a time where communication is instant, and as such does not have to be terribly long. Instead of thriving on what you don't have time for, know what time you do have and use it to better yourself and to let those around you know you care. Sometimes this involves saying "no" to something or working out for 45 minutes instead of an hour, and sometimes it means being 10 minutes late because you stayed in bed with cuddling cats or playing with a baby's feet. Either way, it will make a tremendous difference to the people who care about you to know that they play a significant part in the music of your every day life.
In conclusion, in music and life, you can never really "keep" time. Time is always moving, and even when you set a value and a beat to it, eventually the piece ends and everything that was played becomes a memory. However you spend your time today, it can never happen exactly that same way again. When I make music I realize I am using the time to work and love simultaneously. I work to make the piece beautiful and perfect, but I love to make the music in any capacity. I must learn to work effectively and love effectively in my daily life. Even though we never truly know how much time we have, there is always time to learn. Happy Tuesday!
Thursday, August 23, 2012
My mother says I come by it honest. I have a tendency to take on the problems of others and in so doing I cause myself grey hairs, stress, and I eat WAY too much pizza. Recently I have started calling this condition Atlas Syndrome. I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, even though unlike Atlas, I have the option of shrugging it off (pardon the pun and ending the sentence with a preposition).
So I re-evaluated. What are MY real problems? Problems that no one caused, no one can help, and only I can fix? First, my masters thesis. Ugh. My thesis is hard and unpleasant to write even though when I talk about it I get all excited and dominate the conversation because I feel smart. I have been avoiding working on this thesis as hard as I should because it is different and challenging. It certainly will not write itself, and time is a-tickin'.
Another problem? My retail habit. I LOVE CLOTHES. I love wearing them, I love when they first come out of the dryer, I love looking pretty in them, I love it when people tell me I look pretty in them, and I love selling them to other people so they can look pretty and love all the same things I love. Yet, this problem has, among other things, put me in a little debt. My debt, like my thesis, is unpleasant to think about and even harder to conquer because the world is a ruthless place.
I know right? If those are my biggest problems I am not doing too badly. Yet, through considering these problems I realized another one of my real problems: avoiding my own struggles by taking on those of others. I tend to take charge in a difficult situation, but I have noticed myself taking charge in all the wrong places. Sometimes it can be easier to have a problem than to take steps to fix it. We almost get secure in feeling insecure about a solution. Ever since I encouraged my student to face the issues head on I have realized I need to start following my own advice. The only way to relinquish the weight of the world is to realize that I can't solve all of the world's problems, but I can begin to solve my own a little at a time.
We all need to find a balance between being a friend to others and a friend to ourselves. Obviously I will help a friend in need any way I can, but I need to discern how much I can really, truly do for them and accept those limitations. I also need to knuckle down and face my own fears about my own problems and limitations. Fortunately, I have a lot of help along the way from people who point out when I am taking on too much, but bring me a cappuccino at work anyway.
In conclusion, remember that no matter what happens, it will always work out. Pull your own weight, and help out when you can, but leave the world to Atlas.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
It's ok to get out at an inefficient exit at the train station to talk with the preacher on the corner every morning. It's ok to only wear Ugg boots after work because your feet hurt so badly you can't move. It's ok to eat your dinner from a vending machine because your forgot your meatless chicken nuggets at home.
In other words, I think it's ok to do some weird stuff sometimes to keep yourself moving forward.