I live in an interesting country, I like to define it as a “Second World” country. See, we seem better than some “Third World” ones in many aspects, but not near the “First World” ones. And then there are the specific problems that are material for another post at another time. But recently, and by this I mean more or less the time that is usually given to define the millennial generation, we have worked harder at trying to be part of the glitzy “First World”, even as we watch it have problems just as bad or worse than ours. And this has brought some interesting changes in the relations between parents and their young adult children.
I had a different plan for this post. Originally i had a few themes I ended up saving for later. I started having a conversation with one of my friends. She is twenty-six like me, graduated with me from our BA. but she didn’t go straight to her MA because she didn’t want to stay in school here. For different reasons we both put of leaving. And for both things get hard. In her case the classic thing many people our age are hearing. Why doesn’t she get a job, why doesn’t she do something. It’s exhausting to hear (mainly because eve of you get a low paying job then the critiques becomes why don’t you look for something better). And she has reason to feel wasted down by all this.
When I told her of my plan she was up for it, and at first we began thinking of doing it together but we want different things. Doesn’t mean we are still not helping each other out. There in lies the rub. the biggest problem with these life changes, and I know I have said before in this blog, its fear. We are afraid of failing, of not getting what we see in our heads. There is this idea of success and how fast and easy one must get it that instantly locks us down. This idea of instant amazing and recognized success that has come from places like reality competitions or the odd cases of first try wonders it becomes harder to deal with the idea that it could take work to get to that.
There is this fear of failure and the problem is it’s not just the person taking the chance, it’s everyone around them. It’s like if someone was watching a high diver and began yelling at them of all the things that could happen. For all you know this high-diver could have made a perfect plunge. And the added fears and stress could cause at best a bad execution at worse a head against a the diving board. Maybe it’s an extreme example but you see where I am going with this. The more she gets told that she might fail, the more she believes it, the more her mind makes it real.
The mind is a powerful thing and it can be easily persuaded. We get convinced to not do something and then we live thinking of the what if. Sure failure can lead to unhappiness, but there was the possibility of success, even if not to the size imagined. It’s like when one imagines a drawing and then tries to do it. It might not be the work of art you imagined in the MOMA with critiques praising it, but it’s a work that is also good and has its own value. But if you leave the fear of not getting the museum space get to you, nothing happens. You become stagnant. everyone knows what happens in stagnant water, and a stagnant mind is no different. Water needs to flow and so does life. There are challenges yes, there is a possibility of failure, of falling flat on your face. But there is also the possibility of getting to it. Think about it, it’s one thing to protect someone you care about and remind them that life has a funny way of working out and it might not be how they expected it; it’s another whole thing to convince them that they will be better of just not trying at all.
Today marks the first day of a new year for me. In the last twelve months there has been a lot more introspection than I thought. Looking at the start of the twenty-sixth year in this journey I have several things in mind that, like every good new years day, I want to have done by this date next year. It’s not just personal goals, it’s going ahead and living before it’s to late and life has passed by.
Now of course, I don’t mean this as not being afraid of anything. There is something I have been wanting to do for a long time and I have kept holding back because I was afraid. Of what? Well, life to be honest. When the end of my B.A. was approaching, I looked into schools out of the country. Some even on the other side of the Atlantic. I researched them, looked at what I needed to be able to apply, see what they offered…and left it at that. I convinced myself to stay, specially after asking other people for advice. Well, a year in and I feel stagnant, and regret not having made the jump back then. Not that I feel I wasted my time, nothing should be seen as that. I feel like the pause button on life was pressed. So this year my goal is not let fear paralyse me. We live in a world of comforts and anything out of that zone scares us but it shouldn’t be so. Not only is history not made by those who never moved but life was never lived either. Risk need to be known when to be taken, we can’t go through life just living at random. But we can’t pull a Rip Van Winkle either and suddenly wake up and realised we never did anything and life has turned into a series of what if’s.
2: No Tears
Of course we need a good cry once in a while. And some situations require them. But when they become something that is used to convenience and are whipped out almost daily, well pretty soon you might run out. Now yes I am exaggerating but I am sure a lot of you know what I mean. Maybe it’s just anxiety attacks but I tend to end discussions (because I don’t want to call them fights.) in tears. Why? I would like to say I am emotional but I am not, or maybe I think I am not. Everyone knows you can’t cry over spilt milk. And usually they just make the anxiety worse. So this year, tears get the respect they deserve.The outpour of emotion can’t be the same for everything. Trivial things don’t hold the importance of bigger events. If we give it all the same level of importance our view of life becomes distorted. In this distortion everything about life ends up affected. Suddenly everything seems as important, or non important for that fact, and before you know it you are overwhelmed. No more wasted tears this year, only truly happy or truly sad ones.
3: No Waiting.
The time is now. Tomorrow might not be there and if you leave everything to be solved tomorrow, well nothing will ever get done. There is many things that I have kept pushing back because of reason one, and most of the times I end up in reason two. But that’s why this year there will be no waiting. Sure we all feel real proud of ourselves when that las minute assignment suddenly gives us this amazing mark or this amazing review from a professor. But let’s be honest we are pleasantly surprised because we know it’s not the best we can do. If this happens with simple assignments, imagine how it affects life in general. Sure sometimes we get lucky, but most times we get something very different. Lately I have seen the trend appear again. all the things I need to start doing to move on with the plans in life I keep thinking “I can check it tomorrow”. Or “The tests are still a way off…I can look up the dates and info tomorrow”. No, tomorrow is now and this year one of the new habits I will cultivate is not leaving everything for tomorrow.
There is more I would love to do this year of course. Some are big reaching (like changing schools and starting a new M.A. program), others more simple (being more organized for example.) But all are necessary. People say that setting things out and telling people help keep you responsible and feeling accountable. Well, there you have the three big things I want this year. Hopefully I wont let myself or anyone else down. After all, we can’t keep putting away the start of a new year in life, who said it has to be only once a year anyways?