Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Disconnected in a World of Connectivity

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, connection by definition, is a "a relation of personal intimacy." In the age of instant connection, we have become more disconnected than ever as a whole. There are so many outlets that allow us to search friends and family members that we may have lost touch with somewhere in the past. Not only are we able to receive information about where a person is living and working today, we can get updates on their life down to the minute through outlets like Twitter and Instagram. While these outlets have many undeniable benefits, where do we draw the line on updating the public about our day-to-day activities?

Check my Twitter to see my rants about traffic on the way to work, complaints about slow grocery store lines, or passive aggressiveness towards friends who are constantly on their phone, but never seem to "get my texts."

Check my Instagram for pictures of my lunch- did you hear I'm trying out a new diet? Try to contain your "awww" at the sight of my chubby baby legs on #TBT. If I don't post pictures of my boyfriend every Monday with #MCM, is it really love at all?

Where do we draw the line and why do we care about these things? Excessive use of social media inevitable leads to comparing our progress in life with the progress of those we went to high school with, worked alongside briefly, and possibly someone we never even met. Why do we need someone else's permission to accept where we are in our own lives? Give yourself permission to appreciate how far you have come in life. Whether you made it through school, got a promotion, got engaged, you are allowed to cheer yourself on and be proud of all that you've done. That doesn't mean you need to do so publicly.

A relationship is meant to be between two people. Why do we feel the need to share the intimate details behind it with the world? Take more time to focus on building your relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend, and spend less time trying to frame that relationship in the perfect light (or filter).

Since when did connection mean drawing us farther apart? It's something I think about when I have no phone, because it's so incredibly liberating. Without a phone, I can be fully focused on the conversation I am in. I can actually be in the moment. When I shut down my laptop to go for a walk, go to class, or have lunch with a friend, the re-connection is done and I'm solely focused on the moment I'm in. I'm not catching up with a long lost friend, placing my mindset in the past. I'm not worried about the future and my plans for Friday, I'm only concerned with right now. You have my full attention.

I crave human connection on a deeper level than being your "friend" on Facebook. I want to have a conversation that doesn't start with "what's up." Connection to me is knowing someones fears and why they believe those irrational things are out to get them. To know someone, I want to know their dreams, even if it's a long-shot. I want to know how they plan to get there. I want to see the fire ignite in their eyes as they talk about their passions.

I crave more than an insignificant and distant connection.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

20 Things I Learned Sophomore Year in College

Sophomore year is far from over, but I've already learned so much about myself, and the people around me. I consider myself to be a sponge. I am always learning, soaking up whatever I can. Whenever someone I know talks to me about a mistake they made, I try to see if I can figure out where they went wrong, so I could avoid that situation in my own life. Although it takes me longer to learn lessons from my own wrongdoings, I eventually get the message. I am grateful for every mistake and wrong turn that I've made in my life, because without it, I wouldn't have been taught anything. I am grateful for the people good and bad who have walked in and out of my life, because they have all had something to teach me: lessons that I will hold close to my heart, and hopefully in my mind for my entire life.

Sophomore year far from over, but sophomore year has not been shy to silly slap me with reality, to remind me that I am not always in control.

Here's what came as a result of that slap from reality:

1. Ask for help- I am someone who does not like talking about their feelings, ever, and that's why I write. However, no one can help you if you don't ask. People don't read minds. More than likely, there are a group of people who are ready to be there for you, should you let them in. And you should.

2. People grow apart and go their separate ways- More often than not, we are protected in college by the harshness of reality. The reality is: eventually you are going to go your separate ways from the people you now see everyday. Emails and text messages will phase out, Skype won't happen. Appreciate the memories for what they are, and don't dwell on the past.

3. Sweat it out everyday- I get that after a long day of work and/or classes, you are mentally exhausted, and you don't want to be physically exhausted, too. It is important to take time each day, if only for 30 minutes for a workout. You will never regret it.

4. Step out of your comfort zone- Smile at people you don't know, talk to those who are in the elevator with you. Take chances that you're not sure of. Make mistakes, and dust yourself off. Go at things alone. It is your dream you're going after, and no one is going to hold your hand along the way. If it was a comfortable road, there would be more people on it.

5. Look UP from your phone- Stop hiding behind your screen. You are missing so much. While walking to class on campus, everyone looks like a bunch of zombies, with their heads down, captivated by their screens. Put your phone in your bag, and take a look around. It's a beautiful day, but you would never know it. Would you rather see the flowers bloom in real life, or through someone else's Instagram page? Stop trying to capture every moment, and live in it. Talk to the people around you, smile at strangers, and make yourself approachable. Stop fearing awkward moments, and being scared of silence.

6. Pay attention to how people react to that new guy you're interested in- If your mom, sister, and best friends all hate him, they're probably not wrong. There's something your making yourself blind to, that they can see. These are the people who know you best, and know who is not right for you. Don't be angry with them, but take a second look at what you might have overlooked.

7. Mom is always right- This is a lesson that I will re-learn every year, because I never listen. Your mom knows you best. She knows what people aren't right for you, and may potentially be holding you back. Your mom is the person that is always there to listen to you talk about your dreams, and what you want out of the world. If she reminds you something isn't what you want, or may stand in the way of what it is you want, listen. Your mom got her wisdom from your grandma, so she is doubly wise. When she gives you advice, take notes.

8. If someone is desperate for you, they are of no use to you- Desperation is a sad and lonely disease. If someone is desperate for you, they don't want you. They want someone. They are trying to patch their loneliness with a body, and that body doesn't have to be yours. You are more than that, and you deserve more than that.

9. Trust your gut- it knows almost as much as your mom.

10. When someone shows you their true colors, believe them- When someone acts shady, says something rude to you, or does something that goes against your morals, an apology doesn't make all of that disappear. When someone acts differently than how you perceived them, you have a separate image of them in your head of what you want them to be. You love the thought of them. Take them as they are, and all that they're showing you that they are. If they hint that they're not a good person, believe them, and walk away. Stop putting up with it.

11. Take time for yourself and take time to have fun- Sophomore year is a lot different than freshman year in the sense that you actually have work now. Don't let being busy run your life. It is important to have down time for yourself each day in order to remain sane. Don't let being busy serve as an excuse to blow off your friends. If you keep telling them no, eventually they will stop asking. You have time for lunch.

12. Talk to your professors- They are experts in your field. Most professors are really sweet and more than willing to help you get to where you want to be. Most professors have worked in the field, before they started teaching. Find out what it is that they did, how did they go about getting their job. Overall, just be nice. Show your professors respect. Show up to class, don't show up in sweatpants or your bathing suit. Act like going to class is you going to work, because it kind of is at the moment.

13. Chase your dreams with both hands- Actions> words. Don't tell people what you want, prove it to them by getting it. No dream is unattainable. Go for it.

14. Your family is always on your team.

15. Let people laugh at your dreams- Then laugh harder when you're where you want to be, and they're at home.

16. Smile, talk to strangers, compliment people and mean it.- It goes a long way, farther than you will realize.  

17. Experience everything- If you're presented with the opportunity to ride a mechanical bull, do it. You may get an oddly shaped bruised to show for it. You never know when and if you will get the chance to do that again. Go on road trips that weren't planned, explore your town, explore different cities, and do it with your eyes wide open.

18. Make mistakes and get lost- This is the only way for you to keep learning, and eventually grow. Once you stop making mistakes, you stop living.

19. Don't let a broken heart make you cold- So you've got your heart broken? So have most people. Don't let one broken heart force you to stop loving. Don't take your past out on other people. People are not all the same. Take risks in love.

20. Be a sponge- Learn from everything and everyone. Everyone has their own story, and therefore, something to teach you. Learn from their mistakes, and hopefully that will teach you to learn from yours. It'll come in time.