All a Fantasy

I’m a big fan of being organized, and the act of decluttering certain parts of my life feels so satisfying. Not that I’m overly sentimental and attached to too many of my belongings, I can see how others might find more difficulty in doing so.

An concept that I’ve come across when meandering through all things minimalism and decluttering (which, I certainly don’t claim myself to be minimalist, the mentality is quite intriguing) may help in your own struggles to lighten your load. Because, in all honesty, how much do we as individuals truly need? How many material objects in our possession are necessary to lead a full life?

When you’re looking at things you own or even things you want to buy, it’s important to differentiate what motivating factor is at play. Herein lies the concept of your “fantasy self.” Chances are, you have a version of yourself that you envision you might become in the future. Someone who is all of your best qualities and all the things you hope to be.

It’s fun to daydream about the future. Who knows what might happen and what direction we might take in life, and don’t we want to be prepared for that, or even encourage our current selves to become more like that fantasy self?

Well, to an extent. What goals do you have for yourself that you might associate with certain items? Maybe you want to develop a sense of style unlike what you usually wear. Maybe you think it’d be great to take up a new hobby, or decorate a house you don’t live in yet.

The thing is, giving up certain objects with goals in mind doesn’t mean to give up on those dreams. Goal-setting is a part of growing and developing as a person. But in this moment, what purpose is it serving you? If you have something for so long and it hasn’t necessarily spurred you to reinvent yourself, then what’s the point? You can always repurchase something later if you truly do need it.

I’m not trying to tell you to just throw away everything you own, but to generally live more intentionally and in the present moment. Constantly we are in the habit of looking beyond the only guaranteed time we have. We lose who we are, our authentic selves, by thinking of what could be. But how helpful is that?

Rather than picturing yourself as somebody you know deep down you aren’t, the best means of “self-improvement” or fulfilling the accomplishments that truly matter to you, is looking at your life right now. The person you are right now is the most important. The tasks and goals you can accomplish with what resources and circumstances you have are what you can use to even think of what your future holds.

And accomplishing those goals you have don’t originate in the objects they potentially represent. Cheesy, but that drive to make the most of life comes from within. You don’t need something taking up space to find that, nor should you rely upon outside sources to validate yourself.

This is where I insert a quick critique of our society, so nothing new. But our instinct to seek instant gratification limits our own abilities to motivate ourselves. We feel like we need to fill our goals and desires with buying things, and that will be the solution to everything. We expect inanimate objects to be the reasons why we complete a task or feel fulfilled. A touch of self-bribery.

Believe in who you are, right now. You’ve obviously evolved as a person, have experienced new things and learned new lessons. And for that, you should celebrate and not necessarily just move onto whatever you think will come next for you. Relish this moment.

Minimalism is about reducing the clutter in your environment so you have more room and clarity for what you truly love and treasure. It’s a not a one-size-fits-all lifestyle, but a way of viewing the world through a lens of gratitude and self-awareness. It’s about becoming more mindful of your actions and more clearly seeing how they align with your values.

We are so much more than our things. Fantasy or not, we will get exactly where we’re going, at the moment it’s supposed to. Life is probably going to take us toward a direction we least expected anyways, and that’s the beauty of it. Let’s trust in what that reality will be and leave the especially lavish fantasies in our wandering dreams.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Stuck in the Middle

Do you ever feel like you’re going about your day, being productive in your work, but feeling like you’re…off? That the work you’re doing isn’t engaging you like you think it should? That if you weren’t required to do a certain task, you’d be off doing something completely different?

Because that’s where I’m at right now. And it’s a place that I have to be in, unfortunately, and I know I’m not alone in that. I think anybody in their educational career have at least one (or probably many) time(s) where you’re asking, “What is the point? I’m not interested in this. This doesn’t feel relevant to me.”

Whether it’s taking a required math class you despise, applying for a job you know you wouldn’t like, or scheduling a yearly doctor’s appointment when your health is a-okay, there are those moments where we look at the grand scheme of our lives and wonder why all of these seemingly minute details, ones that seem to not serve you, really matter. Shouldn’t we be using our precious time and energy always trying to better ourselves, fuel our passions, and make the most of what we have and are? That’s certainly the message drilled into our heads: no moment is guaranteed. Life is precious. You only live once.

Here’s my current example. I am in the midst of my second to last semester of my undergraduate career. The only classes I have left to graduate are those that are required for my Mass Communication major. As my mind has changed to recenter my focus on what I truly love and feel passionate about, I have felt very drained from taking classes about social research, writing for digital and broadcast media, and media law and ethics. Especially when I have a religion class that resonates with me so much more, going from that to all of my other classes is no comparison. I sit in the classroom just thinking, “This is so minuscule. How truly productive is this? I could be doing -insert other things here- instead.”

When you struggle to find that purpose in the seemingly dull, tiresome tasks, they just become even more strenuous. Our perspectives turn those tasks into mountains to climb every day, continually becoming steeper. If we can’t find a purpose, then it’s virtually impossible to find a motivation.

It’s easy to say, just find the reason you’re doing it in the first place and then you’ll be set, but if only life were that easy. Rarely can we just snap ourselves into a new head space and suddenly see the world with fresh eyes. Especially in the mundane tasks, classes and responsibilities, the reason you might see in going or doing what you need to do, doesn’t necessarily change your attitude toward it. Sure, you’re paying to be in class and you need to take these classes to graduate, but in the present moment? Fifty minutes is dragging on for what feels like hours.

So instead of taking a robotic approach to switching motivation on and off, be gentle and gradual with yourself. Practice mindfulness in becoming aware of your body, position and circumstances, putting more thought into what you’re doing instead of daydreaming about other “more exciting” things. Even just a single reason to go, even if that is to see a friend or silently criticize the relevance of a topic (which, in my case, has been my go-to reason), can ease you into a different perspective.

Cliche, I know, but we are truly so blessed, so when in doubt, find gratitude in whatever you’re dreading because chances are, there are people vying for such an opportunity. Like the ability to receive an education. Or have access to certain resources. Or just any little luxuries that we don’t think about when we’re finding every little detail to complain about.

Because maybe yes, right now, this less enjoyable task isn’t of end-all importance. But in the grand scheme, if it fits into your goals, then it’s a necessary step to take. I have the goal of graduating from college with solid grades in three years, and by taking the classes I am now, I will be able to achieve that. Even if I look back and cannot remember a single detail of what was discussed in those classes, I can be proud knowing that I did it, despite my reservations about it at the time. Same goes for graduating high school, or taking care of mental health, or going through eating disorder recovery.

Everything is intentional. Sometimes it isn’t very obvious. Heck, it can be downright frustrating and defeating thinking you might be wasting your time on something. Accept your current emotions, but know that you’re in the right place at the right time. There’s a purpose, obvious or not, for everything. The lesson you learn from it might not be listed on the syllabus. And at the end of the day, be proud of how far you’ve come, where you are right now, and where you’re going.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

You Do You

I cannot tell you how often I use this phrase. Multiple times a day, I’m sure. Just one of those random things you pick up and end up using by habit. But especially this week when starting classes again for my senior year of undergraduate studies, it’s something I need to tell myself.

Whether I fully realize it or not, I’ve been stressed. Obviously with starting classes, moving into my first apartment, and having a puppy to take care of, the items on my list are already seeming to grow as activities pick up after the summer hiatus.

If I could pinpoint certain areas of stress for me, specifically in the school-related category, it would be the sheer anxiety of returning to my major. A major that I have innately taken a different direction with than I had previously. And in that anxiety, I fear tension from other students and faculty who might question my previous actions and my current intentions. I fear that they think I am throwing away what could have been a viable career option for me and venturing into the unknown.

Except in realizing that this is my concern, I am forgetting how far I have come in finding out who I am and what I am truly passionate about. In the matter of a few months, I have grown to learn that journalism isn’t for me. My department on campus really stresses the importance of having every duck in a row for the professional setting, of having as much experience and material as possible from interning in high-quality workplaces. They want students to be involved in department-led activities and really fit into that mold of being a journalist, whether that be print, radio or broadcast. Or if you’re into advertising and public relations, the same goes for that field, too.

And I started in that path. I worked on the newspaper, I had experience in work settings, I went through those motions. I started them all with excitement in knowing that I was moving ahead in that career path and doing what I was supposed to do, but how much did it truly fulfill my passions? Why was I writing a blog talking about humanitarian work, sustainability, mental health, and making a difference in the world when I was forcing myself to hand out resumes at media internship fairs and signing on to work in an office every weekday writing about topics I didn’t care about in a professional style that I wasn’t that great at.

Whether it was a conscious decision or not immediately, I left that path behind. I couldn’t go back. Whatever reputation was there vanished. And instead of making a huge fuss over it and feeling like my dreams were crushed, I felt…relieved. I was okay. Sure, getting rejected and “failing” and falling flat on my face felt terrible. But it didn’t shake me to my ultimate core. It actually opened up space for new opportunities, to new things that I had wanted to do but had never had the time for.

I have truly begun to feel like my work aligns with where my interests lie. Journalism is great for some, but it’s too political and cut-throat for me. I love helping people through non-profit organizations that do amazing work in this world. I love writing about those things and other topics that will hopefully inspire and help others. I love invigorating my spiritual side and immersing myself in my faith.

The people who are unconsciously stressing me out know the identity I created to work hard and accomplish huge career goals that would make them approve of me more. They know I love to write, but all they care about is the reporting I did and the news outlets I worked at. They see less value in these posts that have me writing out ideas moving too quickly in my head for me to keep up because I’m so fired up about them. Other assignments, work or school, are a struggle to write. It takes me so long to try and line up the words correctly so that it respects a certain style. I can tell it feels forced. I’ve always known it felt forced, but my “failure” helped me actually see that.

I use “failure” as the typical means of describing my past of making mistakes, large and small. Instead of failure, I see so much growth. So much clarity in what direction I want to take and where my true purpose lies. If those people stressing me out focus upon the negative connotation of the word, let them. Let them judge me and critique me.

I will do me. I will live my life exactly how I feel is right for me. Nobody else is walking in my exact shoes. What authority do they have to tell me I am wrong for going in a different direction and thriving in it? In what way does that affect their own lives and ambitions? None at all.

So if you’re ever in a similar boat as I am, wondering what people will think based on the choices your make for yourself and the path you take your life, you do you. Live how you desire, listening to those passions and aspirations that actually make you excited. Don’t feel forced into a mold of what you’re “supposed” to be. In reality, you’re supposed to be exactly as you come to see fit.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie