Thursday, November 28, 2013

Solitude Brings You OUT of Your Comfort Zone?

I know what you're thinking. "What is this woman talking about? Being alone all the time keeps you in the same damn place!" 

...........Not so much.

For the past year, I've generally been getting things done on my own. I haven't necessarily recoiled from anyone or shut myself out in any way, but life changes, and so does everything/everyone else. With that said, I've been "alone". I put alone in quotations for the simple fact that people associate the word "alone" with "lonely" and there's a huge distinction between the two. I don't consider myself lonely. Could I use support? Sure. But I've embraced being alone 99% of the time. Why? Because I've gotten more things done since then. 

Here's just a small list of things I've done and accomplished in complete solitude during this self-discovery process:

1) Applied for a Fellowship Study Abroad Program in Paris. I've never been past Florida on my own, let alone out of the country. I don't know anyone personally in college. I applied on my own, gave that essay my all ....and I was accepted. I leave in January. The dependent me? The one who could not even so much as study for an exam without seeking external reassurance and company? That person would have never even attempted to take that opportunity. Not only did I take it, I grabbed it by the ears and put it in my suitcase.. Right next to my protein bars.

2) Applied to over 20 internships in a month. Okay, that's great. Everyone does that. Well, not me. I never put myself out there in the past. Not when I made it my life purpose to rely on the entire world except myself. I just couldn't do anything. I found an excuse for everything. Before I went back to school full time, and I was told about a potential job/internship.. I found every excuse possible. Now I've lost track of the amount of people who have my resume.

3) I do things out of the kindness of my heart for people I don't even know. I recently took the responsibility of fulfilling an underprivileged child's Christmas list. I had the gift sent to her residence home. Someone I've never met and never will meet. I volunteer at an inpatient psychiatric rehabilitation unit, and I'm hitting my 100th hour on Monday (which is when my time there ends). Yes, I'm a Psychology major, and these are things that psych majors often do - but these are things I used to avoid when I did nothing but rely on other people.

Now here's the complete deal breaker for me.

4) I ate alone, at a restaurant, on Thanksgiving. Today. Eating alone in general is something people are generally terrified and ashamed of. Eating alone on Thanksgiving is an entirely different ballgame. And I did it. Why? Because I wanted my favorite outdoor meal. I cook for myself every single day. I wanted my splurge meal. And it's that simple. I left my house, walked over a mile in below freezing temperatures, and stuffed my face.. all by myself. And I was perfectly fine with it.

Bottom line: Even when I'm doing nothing, I'm always doing something.
There's always something I'm signing up for, participating in, applying for, donating my time to, researching about, reading about, etc. 

I am so preoccupied with making discoveries on my own that I honestly feel as if I don't have me time. How is that even possible? I know - it sounds crazy. But that's how active and engaged I am with everything I do. I just want to learn, explore, and work. I have at least 700 careers I want to look into in the future (I use very dramatic numbers when trying to make descriptions just in case you haven't taken note of that). There is a plethora of places I want to see. Alone. Am I able to do any of these things right now? Absolutely not. But at least it's not for the reasons I had before. 

The things that I used in the past as support systems and crutches ended up being the barriers I created for myself. 

I've never been more free.


See? Free. Just like this. Except I'm not standing on a rock in front of pretty water. Because this is New York.. and it's cold.

It took me a very long time of trial-and-error, exploration and a year of spending quality alone time to make me realize that I need to get out there. The walls of my comfort zone were burnt to the ground the day I realized I was ultimately on my own, and this journey is my own.
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Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Importance of Individualism

I've been thinking long and hard of what I want to provide my useful insight (or lack thereof) about, and I've been stuck, until I realized there is one character trait I've recently developed due to my current changes in health and many other aspects of my life - and I want to address it because I'm still exploring it myself.

Individualism.

Sometimes, when people think of individualism, they think of self absorption. It is NOT the same thing. The overall goal may appear to be the same, and that goal, in a nutshell, is "me". But there is a fine line between a) Doing things your way and refusing to settle for anyone else's and b) Completely discrediting and degrading others and their methods. That's the main difference between individualism and self absorption, and in my opinion, it's the only difference - the only one that has any significance, at least.

Now why did I even decide to bring this up? It's because as I've developed a sense of individualism throughout the course of this "journey" called life (I hate the word journey, by the way. It's such an artificial term), I've realized how valuable having a sense of individualism really is.

Take decision making for example. When you have a decision to make, whether it be minor or major, important or useless, where do you obtain those resources that lead you to the actual decision? If you're a social type of person or generally occupy your time with other people, you're automatically going to seek their opinion. It's almost a human instinct. The bulk of our information and things we learn are learned through outside resources, and those resources normally come in the form of other people.

Understandable. Okay, now what's the problem?

When we seek the advice and insight of others, we tend to unconsciously sway away from what we believed in the first place and lean more towards the opinions of others around us, because after all, we sought their opinion to begin with (if we didn't, then there's a different problem on our hands, and that problem is simply a person who doesn't know when to keep it shut or not) and that is the opinion most accessible to us at that time. It doesn't require extensive thinking and planning to access what you've already been told. When you allow the opinions of others influence any decision you eventually make, not only do you completely lose track of what your options were to begin with, but your sense of individualism as well.

Now, on the flip side - when you're actually incorporating individualism into your decision making processes, you're not just taking what you've learned or heard from your peers - you're actually making a decision. Think about what the term making entails in general. To make something means you are producing it. It's a creation that results from your actions. If we actually sit down and think of the decisions we've made, it's more than 95% likely that we didn't actually make that decision. Because of this realization, I'm beginning to incorporate my own sense of individualism in decision making, because to actually make a decision means it is a product of your thoughts, beliefs, values and individual goals - and that's something to strive for, is it not?

Another thing about discovering and developing individualism I've been entertaining is the fact that I'm so much more in tune with what I want now more than I was in the past. Because of this, I'm more grounded. Sometimes, I'm so adamant with every little thing I want/need that I feel like a human boulder at times. It's either I'm doing this the way I want, or this isn't happening at all. I'm doing more things my way and worrying less about what others are going to think or say about it - and it's a great thing. It doesn't make me insensitive or callous. It makes me strong.

However, I do understand that there are many future scenarios that may not be within my control. I completely understand that. One thing I do know, however: we have more control over things than we don't.

Why is this fact so often overlooked? Because we have more excuses than reasons.

Embrace the fact that individualism is available to you. It's there. To gain your sense of individualism means you're taking back the one thing we tend to recycle so easily - something that is more accessible and useful than we originally thought.

Be a boulder. It's more fun than you think. There's plenty of room here. And we have jackets.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Jillian Michaels taught me

I'm quite the inactive blogger and I can attribute that to both internal and external factors, but I've come to the realization that I enjoy blogging and want to make a habit out of it (we'll see just how habitual).

There's a plethora of topics and things I want to somewhat be able to collectively organize and post, but today I decided I'd post about something I normally don't, and that something relates to inspiration. It's very unlike me to admit that somebody else inspired me, and that's either because my ego is about the same size as a giraffe, or because it makes me feel inferior at times. I'm not the type of person to attribute factors like success or positive thinking to another human being, but sometimes, it's good to just come clean and put your ego on the back burner (on VERY low flame). With that said, I'd like to dedicate this post to someone who has indirectly helped me keep myself on my toes and my head completely in the game: Jillian Michaels.

I know what you're thinking: "Oh, another typical drastic weight loss success story because of Jillian and her yelling".

This isn't another typical weight loss success story. 

My story is quite unique in and of itself. I figured since I already came clean about the fact that I am inspired by someone else, I'm going to come clean about my health as well, simply in the hopes that it can somehow benefit someone else. This December, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), originally known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome. I'm not going to further elaborate on the many symptoms, risks, and factors associated with the syndrome, because I would need an entirely new blog's worth of space just to try and explain it (hence the reason why I left a link available).

After my diagnosis, I was devastated and completely backed into a wall. Every Google search yielded horror stories associated with the symptoms. Nothing positive. I had no idea what to do. I figured I'd take the necessary first step and precautions by changing my lifestyle completely. Just because I'm not obese, diabetic, or any of the other subsequent aspects that follow, doesn't mean I can't be - especially in this scenario. I was fully aware that I'm not invincible and there is no easy way to go about it. My risks for everything are 10x higher. So I started exercising. I followed recommended dietary guidelines for sufferers of PCOS, and the more I learned, the more I worked with it. There are a lot of recommended dietary approaches and they've all shown their own efficacy in different scenarios.

Anyway, fast forward. I had begun my new lifestyle and continued my attempts to push through treadmill sessions. I felt like a hamster, but I knew nothing about good quality exercise and didn't know what else to do with myself. One morning, I woke up and performed my usual Googling until exhaustion routine. I was curious to see which celebrities suffer from PCOS. Turns out, Jillian Michaels does.

Pause. Jillian Michaels?! The Jillian Michaels? Isn't she the toughest trainer in the world and pretty much the healthiest person ever? What is this?




It was then when I realized PCOS does not discriminate. So I went ahead and did more research on her. I stumbled across some of her workouts on YouTube while browsing on my Tab. The rest is history.

Fast forwarding some more - I am now 5 months into my "management" and I am officially an owner of 8 of her DVDs. I have been working out with her ever since then. Not only that, I listen to basically everything else she says about diet/exercise/life in general (unless of course, it's not feasible).

Now, what did she actually teach me that's so incredibly inspirational that I had to blog about it? I don't know how or when it happened, but it happened. Maybe it's her motivational words during the actual workouts. Maybe it's her motivational words in general. Maybe it's the quality of the words. Maybe it's the actual word content. Either way, she not only got me into gear in terms of exercise, but in other aspects of my life as well. Finally, I think I'll gradually add to this list as I go, but here are just some of the lessons I've accumulated from her, in a nutshell:

  • Some things are supposed to hurt, and they're supposed to suck. Accept it.
  • You are capable of more than your brain is telling you. Push yourself.
  • No one is simply destined to sink. Challenge yourself.
  • Putting yourself first is actually crucial if you're trying to build personal development. Be selfish.
  • Maximizing your health is a priority, not an option or a leisure activity. Take care of yourself.
  • Nothing worth it ever came easy before, and it's not going to now. Remember why you're here.
  • Every day has meaning, and every day has potential. Seize it.
  • Every day is a new opportunity to improve yesterday. Fix it.
  • Perfection is mundane and boring. Stop striving for it.


I never imagined that through my brutal workouts and a simple mind/body connection would I discover so many principles and develop skills and knowledge I can carry with me outside of my workouts. It's one thing to actually apply these principles and feel stronger from it, but when you can actually feel it occurring, you know you've gotten something out of it. And I certainly have. 5 months isn't a long time for adjustment, but I'm pretty sure I've gained more insight, and it may have required an external push to do so, but I no longer have a problem thanking people for their help when I actually receive it. And Jillian - you certainly helped. Thank you for challenging me and yelling at me every day through the television. I know you mean well. 
Besides, with my new found strength, I've learned to yell back.




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Friday, June 8, 2012

Marriage vs. unity (and the inability to distinct the two)


Let me just begin by saying this may or may not even be my place to mention, but I feel like I've absorbed enough to chip in. The reality of this topic doesn't even require a lot of undergoing research and brain power - a mere functioning brain will do just fine. However, the human mind is a powerful tool and we can probably turn off whatever we want if we dedicate ourselves to it. We can even convince ourselves of almost anything. It's all about dedication. 

One thing that a huge portion of us try to convince ourselves overtime is that marriage = unity.

Now, by all means, I'm not a marriage basher, and I'm certainly not bitter. 

(My only issue is that my standards are high because my idea of prince charming is an unattainable celebrity, so I evidently have my own faults)

I'm only speaking on this because over the years it's fairly obvious that marriage has become a simple gesture and nothing more. More than often, marriage is confused as an expression of true companionship. We're getting married because we want to express our devoted love for each other and we're ready for the next step in our lives. 

Here's the thing though - I don't consider relationships simply a series of stages that grow stronger and increase as the years pass. I could spend the next 20 years with a man and still despise every fiber of his being enough to not even want to think of accepting a proposal from him. 

Fact of the matter is, you can spend a decade with someone and still not have the slightest idea of what it means to be in a union. So you basically just wasted all of those years of your life waiting for that stage - when you didn't even know what it meant to be united. You could have at least focused on other aspects of your life in the meantime.

The years you just wasted waiting for that beautiful epiphany that's accompanied by a ring? Double that. That's two lives you kept on hold.

Homosexual relationships are classified as civil unions. I'm not educated thoroughly enough on the topic to have a gay debate, but in summary, gay/lesbian couples place a clear emphasis on the union aspect of their relationships. Why? 

Because the vast majority of them are incapable of marriage. They physically cannot walk down the aisle together. They are restricted from performing the sacrament that is so heavily abused by the people that are actually allowed to participate in it. Which probably leaves gays no choice but to strengthen their relationship in other ways. They get to know each other better. They unite. All the while you're on the sidelines watching your relationship fade to black while you anticipate that beautiful stage - that memorable moment that's supposed to make every woman feel like a princess. Right?

Stop it.

There would be a significant decrease in debt if some of you would open your eyes before you make the step. Because it's only a step. It doesn't determine the rest of your life with your partner, and it doesn't determine your relationship in general. Because the sad truth is, the rest of your life isn't spent with that partner. Why? 

Because you didn't even bother to see if you were even capable of being involved in a union with this person. And getting married will not, and will never determine that.




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Thursday, May 24, 2012

A blessing or a curse?

I was going to wait until I came up with a topic to blog about but honestly there is one topic that is constantly circulating my mind.

I have dealt with an overabundance of twisted, sadistic, and overall heartless people and I can honestly say the personality trait I hate the most is ignorance. I might even be at a disadvantage with this one because there's more ignorance in this world than most basic character traits so I'm more likely to run into an ignorant person than an inconsiderate person - which is truly pathetic but why deny it anyway? It's everywhere.

The brilliant Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity". While majority of the human population was fixated on segregating themselves from the unknown, there was a valorous man like MLK Jr. who simply wanted nothing more than to see a change in society and human behavior in general. I am that person - the one who sits back shaking her head while everyone else is running around doing absolutely nothing to learn anything except what they're "obliged" to learn. Maybe I should take into account that a lot of people simply have it easy and never have to concern themselves with certain things that are happening in the world, and that's their prerogative. But I've always found it more rewarding to simply know something extra. 

Some consider ignorance to be a blessing. What you don't know won't hurt you, right? However, bear this in mind: Life could care less about what you know or don't know - it will throw at you whatever it damn well pleases and life isn't going to check your credentials to see whether or not you're readily prepared for what's to come. It's better if you know. In the long run, nobody wants to be that person who simply didn't know how to handle a situation they were placed in (or placed themselves in, because let's face it - a huge bulk of our life conundrums tend to be self induced in some sort of way). 

Ignorance is a curse, in its entirety. 

It's obvious that people only acquire knowledge when it's necessary and suitable to the situation at hand. Other than that, to hell with everything else. Extending knowledge beyond a convenience level isn't the extensive and strenuous task people appear to perceive it.

"Truth is, by nature, self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear." - Mahatma Gandhi

We as human beings tend to have an automatic fear of the unknown. However, we as humans also have the ability to challenge ourselves and broaden our minds to places we never thought we'd care to reach. Don't just research a topic because you have a paper on it due Monday. Research a topic because you realize and accept its importance. I'm sure there are things more important than others and a lot more interesting. The person who finds an interest in literature might not get the same jittery feeling for biochemical engineering. But you'll never know how valuable a piece of information is until you step outside of your daily comfort zone and understand it.
"Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven." - William Shakespeare

I try to be engaged in everything around me - the things we seldom miss are things we should stop and admire from time to time. Open your mind further and it just might make a positive impact on your own life. It could make you that much wiser.



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My purpose, you ask?

By 5:41 PM
The main reason why I started a blog is because I find myself with a lot of thoughts followed by a lot of topics I like to be painfully blunt about. However, I never find the chance to get it all together because a) Living in New York doesn't provide you with much of a chance to sit down and gather thoughts together and b) I tend to have the attention span of a field mouse as it is, so I never get around to it. 

I started this to give myself that little boost. When a topic comes across my active little brain, I'll be sure to swing it this way.

If you are easily offended and have a strong tendency of disagreeing with everything except yourself, this may or may not be for you.

Catch you on the flip side.



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