The Hardest Part

I have always had the mindset that getting started is the hardest part because that’s a cliche I’ve heard my entire life. But lately, as I feel my life slowing down, I’m starting to take on a different perspective.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been someone who’s had a difficult time “starting” things. More often than not, if I have an idea and I know what I want my outcome to be, getting started is pretty easy. Besides, beginning has always been much easier than mastering, but the path between the two is long and windy. With that being said, once the initial excitement that drove me to start fades away and life starts throwing in unexpected outcomes, that’s when things get difficult. That, to me, is the hardest part.

When I was in high school, my band director would always tell us “the devil is in the details.” She wouldn’t say this when we first got a piece and were learning the ropes, but rather, when we had spent months practicing and still had ways to go. Music wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if you didn’t have the details of crescendos and accents or any other musical elements. In life and everything we pursue, the devil is in the details as well. Just as the excitement of a new idea fades and the comfort of where we’re at sets in, the devil creeps around the corner to tell us there is nothing more that needs to be done. But just like those details in the music make it musical, it’s the details in life and our ideas that make them beautiful. 

Starting something is always easy once the “starting” actually begins. But like I said, it’s when the initial excitement fades into something normal and the ideas just become more paths to choose from that the “hardest part” kicks in. The reason getting started is easy is because our eyes are set on the big picture. But like my director said, the devil is in the details. So how do we move from the big picture to the details while still maintaining that level of thrill that pushed us forward to begin with?

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that one out myself. I’m doing my best to keep my life – my goals and aspirations – from coming to a complete standstill only because I have failed to keep looking for the details, but that is easier said than done. My advice to you (and to myself) is to never stop digging for something more. Even when you think you have it all figured out and the picture is complete or the song is perfected, keep looking. I would be willing to bet that there’s something more – something better – that you have yet to discover.

If there is a devil hiding in the details, hunt that sucker down.

New Beginnings

When I was preparing to come home for the summer after my first year of college ended, I cried knowing things wouldn’t be the same next year.

When I was packing to move back in for my second year, my mom cried knowing that me leaving this time was different.

When I was talking to a friend after a week or two of being at school, she cried knowing things felt different.

The routine and steadiness of this past year became so comfortable that the new beginnings everyone was experiencing became overwhelming rather than exciting.

But the problem didn’t lie in the newness of what I was experiencing, it lay in the comfort of what I had experienced.

The overwhelming sense of “new” that was surrounding my life as I left home to go to college where nearly everything had changed from the year before had sent a shock to all my senses. While I was consciously aware that things were going to be different, it didn’t register until I actually felt the differences. But as I was in class writing a reflection of my week I realized that this shock to my senses was exactly what I needed to get out of the content mindset I was in.

There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable, but there is some danger in being content. I had gotten so comfortable in my way of life last year that I had also become content, not feeling the need for or even wanting change. So much so that when change happened I didn’t know how to respond.

But the new beginnings that are taking place in nearly every aspect of my life have served me well and reminded me not only to be careful about becoming content, but to appreciate change as well.

I know that with all the new things I am experiencing I will continue to grow into the person I want to be and learn each step of the way.

I hope you learn to appreciate and see the beauty in change as well.

Extremes

I’m not sure what’s in the air lately, but I have a lot of friends who are going through the most extreme parts of life and experiencing things in highs and lows with no middle ground. Be it marriage or heartbreak, love or loss, loneliness or fulfillment, everyone I know seems to be experiencing so much. Once is a coincidence. Twice is a coincidence. But three times is a pattern. And this summer seems to have a pattern of extreme emotions.

I love to listen to podcasts to hear what other people have to say about life. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is called “Ladies Who Lunch” (LWL) and while they’re no longer recording anything, I still listen to their old episodes somewhat frequently. A few weeks ago while I was donating plasma I turned on one of their episodes in which they talked about moving on and letting go and, while they said a lot of really great things, there was one thing in particular that stood out to me. They got a letter from someone whose father had passed away less than a week before, and the person in the letter was asking how they can move on from the hurt they were feeling. LWL gave the typical responses of surrounding yourself with friends and family who love you, doing things to keep yourself busy, etc. But after giving all of those suggestions they stopped for a second to let the person know that it’s okay to simply feel, and something about that really resonated with me.

Throughout the summer as I’ve watched my friends go through all different emotions (or even experienced them myself) I’ve noticed how we’re always trying to move on to the next emotion. If we’re sad, we want to stop being sad and feel something else. If we’re happy, we’re questioning our happiness and anticipating something else. Very rarely (particularly in moments of negative emotions) do we just let ourselves feel. I think this lack of accepting our emotions is another byproduct of our need to constantly desire more. But I also think it’s time for that to change.

If you’re sad, be sad. Let yourself feel. Let yourself hurt. Go through the motions and roll with the punches. I’m not saying you should wallow in self pity and go about life feeling miserable forever, but what I am saying is that sometimes it’s harder to move on from an emotion if you don’t fully understand what you’re feeling. Get comfortable with the pain so you know how to work through it. When you break a bone, you don’t just ignore it and hope it works itself out. You straighten the bone and look at x-rays and wrap it up in bandages and casts which will be full of pain and annoyance but by doing this, you’re understanding the injury so you can enhance the healing. You have to allow yourself to feel your hurt to understand it, and once you understand it you can heal from it.

The same goes for positive emotions. Stop questioning the way you’re feeling. Stop thinking the higher you go, the further you fall. Stop falling in love only thinking about the potential heartbreak. Stop feeling joy only thinking about the potential sorrow. Let yourself feel good. Even if the worst thing happens, at least you were able to truly enjoy some of the best parts of life.

We need to stop fighting things. Time is always on your side and it will keep moving even when you think you can’t, so it’s high time you just roll with the punches and enjoy the ride.

What to do With a Dying Dream

It’s natural for people to change as time goes by. Their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and so many other things can change. So why does it come as such a shock when our dreams and passions that we have chased for so long start to change as well? And what do we do when we feel these changes start to take place?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to teach second grade. Now I’m going to college with plans to eventually teach at a university.

When I was in eighth grade I refused to do marching band because my heart was set on tennis. When I was a senior in high school I quit tennis so I could be drum major for marching band.

When I was younger I grew up writing nearly every day but refused to let anybody read what I wrote. Now I’ve had writing published and I write on this blog, available for the public to read.

People change, and along with these changes comes a change in dreams.

But what do you do when your dreams change? What do you do when you stop feeling passionate about what you thought was you’re main passion or your “purpose in life,” if you will?

I’ve been experiencing this for a while as I’ve been jumping around with my studies or considering different futures for myself and it’s a strange feeling. To be honest, I almost feel like a fraud. I have been diligently pursuing one future for as long as I can remember, but now that path seems worn and not as exciting and I can feel myself losing interest. I thought I had everything figured out, but now I’m questioning everything. And while sometimes I’m filled with a little bit of dread (because I’m less sure of what lies ahead) and some guilt (because I’ve jumped through too many hoops to turn around now), I have to consciously remind myself that there is nothing wrong with a change in passion or a dying dream.

We can’t fulfill every dream of ours, not because they’re unlikely or too far out of reach, but because we’re simply not meant to. Sometimes the pursuit is more important than the pursuing, and it’s that very journey that is supposed to strengthen and prepare us for the next path we are supposed to head down. I think it’s important for us to look at these changes as natural rather than scary or unexpected – if we can openly accept changes in our personality or who we are, we should also openly accept changes in what we want out of life. We smile and nod our heads encouragingly as children tell us about their dreams of becoming doctors or rock-stars or spacemen while thinking to ourselves “awe, how cute!” while knowing full well they’ll probably change their mind. We not only accept children changing their dreams but we fully expect it, so why does it feel harder to embrace that same mentality for ourselves as we get older? After all, aren’t we still growing and learning and changing?

In the same way that not every star can live forever, neither can every dream. The dying isn’t bad, it just opens up space for something new to shine.

Choices

I’ve come to learn that we have a lot more control over our life than we think. Sure, we can’t control the choices or actions of others. Yes, the workings of the world around us are out of our hands. But we control our actions and our perceptions, and that’s a lot.

So, if you want to do something, do it. Maybe it will take time and hard work, but it can be done if you prioritize it and try.

If you want to be someone, be them. I don’t mean someone else, but merely a better version of yourself. The only one standing between who you are and who you want to be is you.

If you want to accomplish your dreams, keep pursuing them no matter how hard it gets or how crazy people think you are. You must be fearless in your pursuit.

Choose to be fearless.

Choose to be happy.

Choose to be you.

It’s like the wise Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”