Guest Post Series

(Guest Post) A Burden of Expectations

It’s a funny thing, getting older. At least, it’s funny now. I may think differently in a few years. For now it amuses me, though. I say this because I was flipping through a stack of old pictures after chatting with a friend. I was in my early 20s in these photos, and it’s so strange to think of all that’s come since I was that young man. I like to imagine a short conversation between that Chris and myself. Maybe we’ve run into each other at a bookstore.

“Hey, buddy. What’s up?” I say.

“Who are you?” he says.

“Um, I’m you, like, six years from now. I haven’t changed that much have I?”

“No, I guess not. I just thought I’d look, I don’t know, cooler.”

“Whatever. I’m the epitome of cool.”

“Sure you are. So, what am I up to these days? Family? Career? I wrote a bestseller, right?”

“Yeah, about all of that. Things didn’t go quite as expected…”

Here’s where my imaginary conversation takes a tough turn. That younger, more naive, extraordinarily handsome version of me had a lot of expectations for himself, for me, and a lot of those expectations haven’t been met.

I’ll be 30 next year.

I’m pretty okay with that but I have to admit putting it in writing is a little depressing. Meh, I’ll get over it.

Anyway, I figured by now my life would be a lot different than it actually is. I thought I’d be married with a kid or two. I ambitiously thought I’d have stumbled into an enviable career. I’d have a cozy cottage in the hills somewhere, and I wouldn’t have much to worry about. I imagined things would be simpler, less oppressing. It’s a nice dream, right? Yeah, I thought so, too.

In my concocted conversation with younger me I would be forced to admit that I failed. I failed to meet the expectations I set for myself and there’s no one to blame but me.

I failed, it’s true, but here’s the crazy thing: I’m happy.

Through my failure I’ve learned what I really want for myself in life and what I’m willing to do to work towards those things. Most importantly, I’ve learned that failing to meet my own expectations is acceptable.

We live our lives faced with the expectations of others, which is pressure enough, but we pile our own on top of that. When we fall short we can be tyrants, mentally beating ourselves without mercy. We rake ourselves over coals far hotter than any we would subject others to or others would foist upon us. The times I spent berating myself for my shortcomings didn’t result in any great push to the finish line. They only ended with my staying down longer. When I finally came to the point when I put the whip down and silenced the ‘woe is me’ chant I was able to get up and try again.

It’s safe to say I’ll fail some more. So what? Our expectations have the power to fence us in, imprisoning us away from things far greater than we could know. Let’s not be afraid to let go of a few of our agendas. Let’s not skimp on the mercy when it comes to ourselves and let’s not be afraid to try again.

I still have goals for myself. Lofty ones, to be sure. However, the expectations I place on myself for those goals are inconsequential when viewed in light of grace. The beauty of grace is that it only works when freely given, even to ourselves.

In my explanations and excuses to the unseasoned me there’s one thing I wouldn’t say. I wouldn’t say “I’m sorry.”

“”What do you mean you’re not sorry?” he says. “You screwed up my life.”

“Did I? Take a seat, junior. Class is about to begin.”

“Junior? Watch it, pal!”

“Life doesn’t happen the way you expect it to. Be okay with that. There’s beauty in the unexpected. There are so many things to be learned from failing, things both difficult and mesmerizing. Don’t be afraid to take the time to learn those things.”

I don’t know what to expect in the coming years but I know that, rise or fall, it’s okay.

It’s not simple and it’s rarely easy but I will learn and I will grow and I will try again.


About the Author: From time to time Chris Hall writes a blog or two on life and the lessons he’s slowly learning. Otherwise, he’s refining the art of sarcasm or planning a global takeover. He’s currently finishing up his first novel, Earthking, a fantasy epic. Follow him on Twitter @C3H!

Guest Post Series

(Guest Post) When The Mirror Looked At Me

I wondered if I could trade my body with somebody else in magazines
Would the whole world fall at my feet?
I felt unworthy and would blame my failures on the ugliness I could see
When the mirror looked at me…
-Natasha Bedingfield, “Freckles”

 

Play the hand you were dealt.

This is a really popular adage for dealing with the shortcomings, frustrations and hassles of our families and bodies. You know, the sort of things we can’t control but have to deal with. This acutely felt in regards to body image, creating what I like to call: the grass is greener effect. The “grass is greener effect” is really interesting because as a culture, we’ve developed into a species that finds pleasure in coveting other peoples’ goods, traits or talents.

I once saw a program that discussed celebrity trends; if more women in Hollywood began to dye their hair brown, then more regular women did it too. The “grass is greener” effect suggests that whatever that person has is ten times better than what you’ve got, so if you copy them, then you’ll get what they’ve got.

This is the sort of mindset I’ve taken in regards to my own body. While I’m astutely aware that everyone has unique challenges and frustrates with their physical forms, I can’t help but feel that they’ve got what I want. Luckily for me, I believe enough to assume there must be a reason for my own level of unattractiveness.

So I asked: why do I have the body that I do? Why wasn’t I born any other way?

I thought of all the spiritual, new age texts I had read describing what I was currently experiencing – this thought process of how the physical form should be respected and honored since it houses our Spirit, our divine essence.

Why am I crying? What’s the big flipping deal?

Because I hate my body.

In fact, I’ve hated myself since I was a kid. My whole life, as a petite and thin girl, I’ve anxiously awaited the puberty fairy to show up, panting at my front door, begging for an apology over his late arrival. And with all good customer service, he’d add a little extra to my plate: make me taller, bustier, nicer skin. Practically overnight I’d achieve the ultimate growth spurt, and wouldn’t have to be envious of fourteen year old girls anymore. Finally! I’d be attractive! Unfortunately, the puberty fairy gladly left exploding acne and painful menstruation as he sped on to bless some other girl.

How come some girls get to be curvy and busty and pretty? How come I can’t get the life challenge of being too pretty for my own good? It sounds a lot like whining, doesn’t it?

The grass is always greener on the other side.

Why get caught up in that mentality? What am I getting out of it? Self-acceptance is hard. It means looking at yourself, physically and otherwise, and saying that it’s okay. I’m a size zero, and I feel unwomanly, invisible and a target for other people’s unhappiness. But people look at me and think how can I be unhappy when America is so thin-obsessed? I should be thrilled right? But I’m so miserable there are days when I can barely stand it. Grass is greener effect.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any deep, spiritual words of wisdom or insight to impart on you. Most of the time I’m running around trying to find ways to accept my ugliness for what it is, and trying to find the silver lining. But how can I attempt to be a spiritual person if I can’t abide by the most basic of tenets: I was made exactly in the way I was meant to look.

But it feels dirty, like I’m lying. And self-loathing is easy, it’s like breathing. But I’m kind of working it – hey I wrote this post! – but I’m still going to wait for the puberty fairy to show up. Maybe he’s making second rounds.

About the Author: Tatiana Christian is new to the blogging arena, but can’t wait to really get the ball rolling with her blog, Parisian Feline. She’s in love with animals – especially felines – cinema, race representation in cinema, spirituality and body image/self-esteem issues with women to name a few. She’s always happy to find and read new blogs, especially yours. Catch her on Twitter at @parisianfeline


(Ed. Note: There are some great foundations and campaigns out there that focus on building self-esteem for girls and young women, including Heartlight Girls, a website by Debra Gano (@heartlightgirls)  whose initiative is to empower girls and young women “from the inside out,” and the  Dove Movement for Self-Esteem — both are non-affiliate links.)


“‘Cause a face without freckles is like a sky without stars
Why waste a second not loving who you are
Those little imperfections make you beautiful, lovable, valuable,
They show your personality inside your heart
Reflecting who you are…”


 Tatiana is taking part in a two-month guest series featuring writers across the blogosphere.
The series is winding down — if you’re still interested in a guest post spot, email me at
twentyorsomething [at] gmail.com or say hi on Twitter!

 

Guest Post Series

(Guest Post) The Procrastinator’s Credo

This is a lesson in procrastination…
– Brand New, “Failure By Design”

This post is about two months late.

Of course, you’d have no idea if I hadn’t started off telling you that it’s that late, but I believe that honesty is an important part of any relationship.

Also, I couldn’t think of another opener.

The reason, I suppose, for why this post is two months late is sheer laziness. Sure, I’m busy with work, side projects, socializing, hobbies and sleep, but that doesn’t really excuse anyone when they agree to do something for someone else. The ugly, puce-shaded monster known as Procrastination, which runs rampant through our minds, is the only culprit.

I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to keep myself focused so I can increase my personal efficiency and effectiveness. I’ve read books, taken seminars, bought planners, created personal rules, and at one point, was strongly considering hypnotism. Yet it only amounted to a whole pile of temporary fixes, like a band-aid over a gaping wound. I always returned to my procrastinatory ways, which led me to one simple and honest revelation:

Procrastination and laziness are natural and inherent traits.

This isn’t an argument of nature versus nurture. There’s no grand battle between the rational and irrational parts of one’s mind. It’s simply a thing that people do, like breathing or sleeping or eating stinky cheeses. We procrastinate because our bodies and minds crave outside stimulation or relaxation. We put things off so we have the social benefit of an out for a conversation (“I have something I need to work on”) or seeming like we’re busy (“Well, I’ve got several things in the pipeline right now”). It feels good to procrastinate, no matter how much we might hate ourselves when it’s all said and done.

Procrastination is the reason that websites containing pictures of cats with goofy captions can make millions of dollars every year through advertising revenue. Procrastination is why we love Angry Birds. Procrastination is the reason that we have escapist art forms, like literature, film, music and video games (yes, I consider video games an art – don’t judge). Without procrastination, our lives would be duller and far less enjoyable.

Maybe it’s not so bad that this post is two months late. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the hows and whys of the whole experience, and maybe that can help me to better understand how to control my wandering brain. So really, procrastinating on this could have saved me from a far worse fate, where I could have wound up putting off things with hard deadlines that could have a tremendous negative impact on my life.

Oh crap, I need to go finish my taxes.

About the Author: Andrew Weitsman is a marketer, blogger, entrepreneur and sorta-New York Times Bestselling Author (it’s complicated).  He blogs several times per week at Needle, Meet Haystack and can be found on Twitter at @aweitsman.  And seriously, he has to go finish his taxes. 

 

Andrew is taking part in a two-month guest series featuring writers across the blogosphere here on twenty(or)something while this blog takes a brief hiatus. Email me at twentyorsomething [at] gmail.com or say hi on Twitter!

 

Guest Post Series

(Guest Post) Deciding on Destiny

 

 Ayden: I think I saw what I’m going to be.

Dapper Man 41: That’s Destiny.

Ayden: And if I don’t want it?

Dapper Man 41: That’s choice.

Ayden: So what’s the point of having one if the other could happen? Which one is right?

Dapper Man 41: That, my dear boy, is life.

– Return of the Dapper Men –

  Ed. Note: Raven recently introduced me to the above excerpt from the graphic novel The Return of the Dapper Men (disclaimer: non-affiliate link), and it so intrigued me, that I asked if she wouldn’t mind writing another guest post on the subject of Destiny.

Maybe it’s because of where I am, personally – studying spirituality and questioning religion; maybe it’s because everything is ready to change again and I don’t know whether to be happy for those changes or afraid of them. Or maybe it’s because of a combination of these things, maybe it’s because I’m simply questioning my place in the world, my purpose, finally feeling like I’m on my way to finding it and at the same time wondering if it’s right at all.

Whatever the reasons, I have questions. I’m only just beginning to understand what destiny — fate, life — means to me, but I want to know…

What does it mean to you?

* * * * *

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are going about your day doing your thing, then you walk into a room and cannot remember why the hell you are there in the first place? You’re wondering how you ended up there. You don’t know. You’re just there.

Next thing you know, your fiancé is asking why you are standing in the bathroom with a bag of kitty litter and a roll of packaging tape.

I try to avoid having moments like these. It makes me think I’m getting old. Or, I don’t take enough vitamins. Or something else, I forget.

But you can’t avoid forgetting. It sneaks up on you and then –hey- you forgot something. And, you can’t remember, so it couldn’t have been that important in the first place, right?

I think that’s a bit of how destiny works. It comes up on you out of the blue. You are going through the motions of life – then boom, you’re just like your Dad. And, you don’t even know how that even happened. You were doing everything to avoid being just like him, weren’t you?

Or, maybe you’re destined to be miserable because you are doing everything to avoid being happy – but you can’t remember how to be happy because you’ve been perfecting the art of miserable since you were a teenager.

So, how can something so important as destiny be like forgetting? I guess it comes with the distractions we call choices. Are choices really distractions? We can choose to avoid our destiny by making different choices. But if destiny is like forgetting – simple lost memories – are we just distracting ourselves by saying we chose to be another way? Destiny puts us in unfamiliar spots. Then come the inevitable questions, “How did I get here? Am I on the right path?”

We search for a reason as to why we’re there in the first place.  After we can’t find answers, we leave. We try not to come back to that unfamiliar spot. It’s scary because we don’t know what we’re doing. But then, we eventually return with a reason and (remembered) intent.

People don’t like their destiny being reasonless.

Perhaps it was my destiny to write this post for you. Susan asked me to write about something else since my first guest post was kind of crap, but she was kind enough to post it anyway. I don’t think I’m destined to write crappy posts (at least not all the time), but I do think I was destined to write something new.

So, I want to finish this post before I forget to tell you something else important. Destiny might be more like coming to a conclusion and remembering the reason why you’re there.

About the Author: Raven Moore is a writing and editing professional living in Chicago, IL. She blogs about lifestyle and career at The Writerbabe Series. You can find her on twitter or spending time correcting old typos in her blog posts.

 

Raven is taking part in a two-month guest series featuring writers across the blogosphere here on twenty(or)something while this blog takes a brief hiatus. Want to chat? Email me at twentyorsomething [at] gmail.com or say hi on Twitter!

 

Guest Post Series

(Guest Post) Knowledge Beyond Walls

 

 

 The blogging bubble is going to burst (if it hasn’t already).

People are either consuming things for their artistic value or to consume knowledge. Whether it is on iPhones, iPads, computer screens or actual books and binders – consumption of knowledge and beauty won’t go away. These different consumptions satisfy the same need to fulfill intrinsic values.  

It’s all about whether these mediums satisfy those appetites properly. Blogging doesn’t necessarily do that, but good writing does. There’s a tendency to confuse the medium with the real thing it’s supposed to produce. Television doesn’t necessarily equal good entertainment, but good entertainment comes in all forms.

So, in the universe of the blogging revolution, is there an evolution towards paid content?  While everyone can get information, knowledge is becoming a privilege for the paying few.

Knowledge is no longer just access, but requires special connections. I may not pay for anything Guy Kawasaki writes, but I’ve already plunked down $25 to purchase Penelope Trunks’s book on soul searching.

Walls are going up. Is this a good thing? It granted everyone access to the information. But, were they discovering knowledge?

Now, we are going back to special kinds of access – the kind you may have to pay for. I think we are back where we started – when access was selfish.

So perhaps my career is stunted because I am selfish. And, to have a good career you cannot be selfish. I am not selfish all the time, however. I am generous in other ways, but perhaps with the wrong things. The F had to practically beg me to advertise my editing services. I tried that for a while, but it was unnecessary.

I don’t give copy editing advice. The tons of email I’ve received come from people despising their boss or wanting to know how to escape a horrible job. No one is asking me how to pitch freelance stories to magazines or when to use commas in a wordy sentence. My first and last gig doing editing work turned into a nightmare ghost writing job.

Does the value in your content start with how generous you are or how selfish you can be??

 

 

About the Author: Raven Moore is a writing and editing professional living in Chicago, IL. She blogs about lifestyle and career at The Writerbabe Series. You can find her on twitter or spending time correcting old typos in her blog posts.

 

Raven is taking part in a two-month guest series featuring writers across the blogosphere here on twenty(or)something while this blog takes a brief hiatus. Want to chat? Email me at twentyorsomething [at] gmail.com or say hi on Twitter!