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


More Than a Message

Technology is so wonderful. The capabilities we now have to learn more information and stay in touch with people near and far is, if you really dwell on it, surreal. I still remember having to use the landlines to call my friends and schedule play dates. Weird, right?

But back then, things felt much more simple. While it was certainly less convenient to rely upon a phone on the wall to make plans, there is also a reliance upon this technology to communicate in any capacity. As in people who, while in the same exact place, will still text each other. Or how about talking about very important topics that should be discussed, but being afraid to say them in person?

Yes, I relish the fact that I can communicate in a way that I can best articulate myself and have to time to think about my words, but there’s a time and place for that. Maybe it just shows my age that I have come to truly appreciate having an open conversation about something compared to an on-screen exchange.

Not that I’m planning to stop writing or texting any time soon, no sir. But I think that should be used as a starting point and as a casual way to catch up. It should by no means be a complete replacement for getting your point across, especially if you are discussing very important.

For any type of relationship, regardless of what it may be, if it’s something beyond an acquaintance, you cannot avoid talking. As easy as it is to fall back to a familiar keyboard, it’s a crutch. A virtual wall to hide behind to avoid a fear of opening up to someone and having an immediate response and every emotion that might come from that. If somebody cares about you, you deserve to receive everything, not just the snippets of composed, robotic words.

Again, let me reiterate, there’s still a place for our texts and messages and whatever else we send these days. We can get in touch with people at any time, from anywhere with a wireless connection. That’s crazy. People hundreds of miles away are suddenly at your fingertips, expanding your knowledge and world far beyond the naked eye.

It’s also much easier to reach out to others in general. If you have any hesitation with dialing a number, a quick message can be a thoughtful gesture. You can still find a comfort in making contacts with others, even if you have difficulties communicating.

Technology bridges past gaps in making contact, but to an extent, we abuse that luxury. We forget how to actually speak up for ourselves. We forget how to actually think in the moment, how to read other people’s emotions and body language, how to truly empathize with others. We overlook that valuable quality of simply being present.

When you do come across people who tend to be bug-eyed on their phones all the time, you really start to appreciate what conversation feels like. You can too often lose any sort of accountability with those people to receive a timely answer. (I’m guilty of this, but when did heart-to-hearts ever happen over Snapchat?) Especially depending on the subject matter, it is just common courtesy and respect to tell people straight-up what you’re thinking or planning.

Anybody can write a text. Heck, you don’t even have to use complete words or sentences. It’s easy. It gets the job done. Especially for introverts, it takes true willpower to make that extra effort to say something, and something that might be uncomfortable at that. But the fact is, if you cannot have an open stream of dialogue between somebody else, what kind of relationship do you actually have? As the Bee Gees once said, “How deep is your love?”

And if that’s the case, if you feel like somebody isn’t confident enough in themselves and in you that they can bring up a topic, as rough as this sounds, they might not be worth keeping a close connection with. You do you, of course, because everybody’s situation is unique and you know best. But you shouldn’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells and that you cannot mention certain things that you think are important. Any relationship you’re in should be uplifting, not draining. It requires work, and that work probably looks like having a difficult exchange of words every now and then.

Conflict sucks, but it can be unavoidable. And hopefully it’s ultimately productive. Constructive words and feedback can be the wake-up call we all need sometimes to slap ourselves awake and get our heads back into the present moment. While typing or writing our your thoughts can truly be a lifesaver to organize what you want said, that comfort zone doesn’t allow much room for growth.

We all have different preferences when it comes to communication and life in general. I despise talking on the phone and tend to avoid conflict like the plague. My mind tends to falter when translating my thoughts into spoken word. I fear I become muddled and cannot articulate myself how I want to. But how am I ever going to improve if I never try? How will I receive the openness of somebody else if I myself won’t meet them halfway?

Moral of the story? Always be open for self-improvement, wherever that may be. And do not settle for people who aren’t willing to grow and challenge themselves, too. Still expect me to be chatting away on my blog, making random remarks on Twitter, and relying on texts to keep my loved ones updated. But also expect me to make the effort to try new things, to venture into areas that scare me. Technology provides some stability, but I must remind myself to soar.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

How “To-Do”

In the past month, my mom and I have beginning to sporadically read a small devotional that somehow always seems relevant to the current situation. It’s crazy how much a few simple words can speak to you.

Last week, one little tidbit talked about the importance of slowing down and prioritizing what truly matters in life. Rather than feeling held down by a daily to-do list, we should spend our precious time appreciating each moment we have. After all, there’s a reason we only have twenty-four hours each day, and not each hour is meant to be used for productivity. Even robots have to recharge their batteries at some point.

However, I do want to make the distinction of the intentions behind completing certain tasks. Nothing can quite match that feeling of accomplishing a large task or something you’ve really been meaning to do. I don’t think we should feel guilty for having busier days that equate to an endlessly scurrying mouse. Or the other phrase involving a chicken with no head, but I like my chickens still clucking.

Anyways. As someone who prides herself on being hard-working and ambitious, I’m a huge proponent for having goals and constantly evolving yourself to meet them. I always want to feel like I’m moving forward at a decent pace and not slowed down for anything not for the greater good.

Obviously you cannot always be running at full speed. Whether it’s your body, mind, or circumstances, when we get too lost in the fog of work, sometimes we have to run into a wall to actually notice that we’re tired and require rest.

As much as I critique how society strives for instant gratification, quick perfection and benefits at every given moment, there is a very good aspect to finding joy in your work. After all, why would we want to get anything done if there wasn’t a purpose for doing so?

The devotion mentioned earlier was on that frame of mind. We shouldn’t feel compelled to have every inch of lives tidy for the sake of others’ approval. Peer pressure and social media shouldn’t be the driving force in getting us to go certain places or buy certain products just so you don’t feel left out or behind.

At the end of the day, we each are living our own individual lives. Nobody can accurately tell us how to reach a certain caliber or make it better than anybody else’s. We are in the driver’s seat, and only through our spiritual and emotional inquiries do we realize how to lead the best life for ourselves, regardless of how that looks to others.

There is a clear distinction between being young, not helping yourself to at least prepare for what tasks might come ahead, and being open to what life might bring while still doing the best you can at this present moment. The work you do should be to bring joy and fulfillment into your life so you can feel confident about utilizing each day.

And that work could just be taking care of yourself. It could be cleaning your living space for a (probably placebo) effect of feeling rejuvenated. It could be pursuing a passion, finishing a class assignment, or taking steps forward in a certain career. Whatever work may look like to you each day, I really value those who feel that inner drive to not just sit idly by or work simply for the facade of productivity, but to take charge of their own happiness.

College days, constantly changing majors and juggling multiple responsibilities at once like a sideshow carnival act, is certainly a setting that can turn work into a chore. Inevitably, we must all get chores done that we would much rather not be doing or we feel are required of us to do. But this also an ideal time to discover for yourself what work sparks satisfaction and doing it often.

The second we step outside of a college campus, are days will turn into ones devoted to the work force. So if young people aren’t going forward without some solid inclination of supporting themselves from one day to the next, where do they find any drive? How will they feed a hunger for more if they don’t know how to tap into it?

When in doubt, introspection. Ask yourself what makes you happy and how to incorporate that now for the future. Find appreciation in the little moments that we might overlook if it’s just a task to check off the list. Admittedly, I actually really enjoy doing errands, grocery shopping, and general cleaning. And I also enjoy writing for this blog five days a week. And I enjoy finding new opportunities to grow and expand my horizons in a way that can form the foundation for whatever the future might bring. And I enjoy making goals for myself that get me in the head space to prioritize and appreciate.

In having the goals I do, some might think I’m just speeding through life too quickly, and to that, I can occasionally agree that I can be hard on myself. But nonetheless, by leading the life I do, performing what might look like work, I feel I can attract more personal joy that translates into joy in everything else I do. I can be a nicer person. I can welcome people who value the same things with open arms and lots of love.

So if your daily tasks are just endless to-do lists that end up being just busy work, nothing listed that exercises your mind and passion, then it’s time to reevaluate. It’s time to look beyond just mundane and inject joy. While I don’t expect the normal, healthy population to walk as quickly as I do, I think we should adjust how we view productivity. It’s an individual analysis, not a group survey. We must pinpoint what is best for us, and that means not just seeing a future just beyond our sight, but in doing so, examining how to make the most of the present.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie