“Alright Brain, you don’t like me, and I don’t like you. But lets just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.”

 

5 Keywords For a Great 2012!

I hate New Year’s resolutions. I think they are just another way that people set themselves up to feel even worse about, well, themselves. I also think they are counter productive in that waiting to make a necessary change leaves a person feeling as though losing weight, for instance, is something that can wait until a certain day and time. It can’t. The day is today. The time is now. As other people were posting their resolutions online, or registering their disgust with the idea of resolutions because they are resolved everyday (damn you, well adjusted people!), I was working on a middle ground. While I think that anytime is a great time to become a “new” or “better” person, as a student of Psychology (Behavioral Analysis, woot!) I understand deeply the need for, and usefulness of, mental and emotional cues. We all run on cues: traffic signals, your daily cigarette break, the start of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (or the end). Green means go, cigarette means relax, Late Night means “bedtime”. Like these cues, New Years signals renewal for most people, a time  (and a reason) to start fresh. While I feel I start fresh pretty often, and am lucky that I do, I have come up with a few keywords to keep in mind for the New Year. These are things that I feel are important for my personal growth and that I hope to promote in those I love, too. In no particular order, here are my 5 Keywords For a Great 2012:

 

1. Patience

I am sorely impatient. For example, I just took up sketch artistry and I LOVE it. I’m so excited to have a new form of expression at my disposal. I like the idea that rather than talk someone’s ear off about something they don’t care about anyway, I can immerse my self in a canvas page that always has more endurance and patience than I do. The problem? I almost threw my canvas pad and all of my supplies over my balcony in a fit of artistic rage because I’m not “good”. Keep in mind I drew this the day after I got my art supplies as a Christmas present, my first drawing ever. In fact, the reason I didn’t follow through with chucking my lot is probably because they were a gift whose absence I’d have to explain; I was inconsolable to say the least. I thought about all of the people that I knew that were artistically talented. I thought about how it looked so easy when I saw them do their thing. What I didn’t consider was the hours and hours of their childhood they probably spent practicing perspective, shading, technique…I expected to walk into it and be good immediately. Not just good, great. I’m like this with everything, I expect to walk into a job and be the supervisor the first day. +1 for believing in myself, -1 for actually knowing the value of hard work and effort and what it will get me if I practice it. Which brings me to my next keyword…

2. Effort

This one’s obvious, but I definitely need the refresher as do most people, I think. Autopilot is something that I have been more and more weary of as I careen toward 30. No, I don’t have some unwarranted existential fear of turning 30 (or 40, or 50 for that matter), in fact, I look forward to it. It’s cool to grow old, a lot of people don’t get the chance. What I realize as I get older, though, is that up to this point I have rarely given my best effort. I will have my Bachelors degree (finally!) in May and quite frankly, it was a breeze, not much effort required. Am I saying that to brag and show what an innate genius I am? Maybe, what’s it to you! Mostly, though, I am trying to make the point that instead of reaching my potential (by say, achieving a double major, finishing my degree sooner or taking on other projects to grow my academic and professional portfolio) I was content to “just finish” my degree. Boo. Me. So this year I am going to stretch and reach and aspire. And try. I mean really try hard at things that matter to me, big things. I feel like I’m off to a good start with my artwork as well as my professional and academic life (I will learn to code this year), I just really need to get more comfortable with…

3. Failure

Seems a little counterproductive, but anybody who has accomplished something extraordinary or difficult (or both) will tell you that failure is one of the main tools at their disposal. I have an unerring fear of failure and to a larger extent, just plain fear of not being “the best” (see #1). Failing is going to be my new best friend this year. Why? Because I intend to try big things way outside of my comfort zone. This year, if I want to start my own business, I’m going to research what it takes to start one. Corporation or LLC.? Start solo or with a partner? How do I handle human resources? You get it. What I refuse to do is convince myself of all the reasons I shouldn’t try it and all of the horrible ways in which I could fail at it. There are enough people in the world lining up to do that for me. They don’t need my help. Failure is a great way to find out who you are as person, what you’re made of when your star isn’t shining it’s brightest. Failing forces a person to understand themselves on a deeper level as well as their own motivations, passions and fears. Knowing all of that about myself on a visceral level will only serve to make me a well-rounded person. It could also serve as a fantastic wellspring of inspiration and…

4. Creativity

I’m not creative enough. Scratch that. I’m not expressive enough, creatively. There, that’s better. I wake up at night, usually around 2:30 AM, and just sit looking at my laptop screen, searching for nothing. I feel anxious, kinda sick actually. My tummy hurts, so does my head. And I have the sinking feeling that I’ve let some unnamed, unshaped opportunity pass me by. Or there was someone I was supposed to call and I didn’t. Or I didn’t feed the dog. Or I fed him to much. Or I most certainly will die some day (I just know it!). What I’m trying to say is I have general anxiety, like most people. I am loathe to be the Psychology student who diagnoses themselves and others constantly, that not my bag. But I can recognize that I have a lot of turmoil that needs an outlet and that I shouldn’t fight that for fear that I’ll lose what makes me, um, me. Depression and anxiety aren’t things I like about myself, they’re things that are myself, unfortunately. Or maybe not unfortunately (Whaaa?). I can’t pick and choose parts of my personality, if I did, I’d just fuck up all this awesomeness! I need my anxiety, I need my depression, they “work” for me, if that makes sense (which it doesn’t, but that’s okay). They’re entities to struggle against and I am definitely one that’s most happy when in direct opposition. The difference though is that I want to transfer that anxiety, that turmoil, into beautiful paintings, ornate blankets, and challenging prose. Turning the dark to light. I want the opposition to come from the challenging nature of the medium I’m using rather than my own manufactured obstacles based on formless insecurities. I’m going to spend the energy I used up on depression and anxiety to seek out inspiration and  satisfaction, which is why it’s so important that I….

5. Travel

I gotta get out there. I gotta. I started on this resolution last year, when I took a trip to Philadelphia and New York with my friend Genevieve. We had a blast! South Philly didn’t see it coming and I can’t wait to go back. It was wonderful having the experience of breathing new air, taking in an amazing new city and it’s people, and eating a cheese steak from Gino’s (everyone said we should have gone to Pat’s, next time!). All of those things were great and the experience of travelling with a good friend of mine was enough, what more could I ask for? Well there was an unexpected plus that came along with taking this trip: I realized every place is the same. Not the heavy revelation you were looking for? Hold on to your hat. I say that every place is the same because ever place is filled with people, just like Merced, just like California. Sure, there are differences to be noted, if you’re into that kind of thing, but what struck me more than anything is that there are douche bags everywhere. Everywhere. There are also skanks and thirsty hoes everywhere. Again, everywhere! This revelation bummed me out at first, but then I saw the bigger picture. The places that I held on a pedestal prior to the trip (New York, Philly, Paris, Japan, etc.) were no better than any other place. Philadelphia is amazing, but being there with Gen made it even more amazing and I felt bad for people that experienced Philly without her (yeah, I need someone that’s willing to steal a phone book and run at top speed down 9th St. while guzzling a 16oz. PBR, waving a newly procured Grumpy’s jersey. I need that.) So I figure the inverse is true: Paris could be ruined by a travel partner with a shitty attitude or a group of feral Frenchmen that don’t know what, “No” means. Since this is the case, I have no need to be intimidated by new places and new people. I don’t need to speak French to go to France, I’ll learn it when I get there. I don’t need to know the ins and outs of Japanese culture in order to connect with the anime characters I will meet (although I should work on the blatant racism, definitely gonna work on that). Realizing that it’s what I bring with me (and who) that will make my travels fun and exciting, more than the places themselves, brings the places that seemed so far away before that much closer to my grasp. I am a world citizen and it’s time to start acting like one.

So there you have it, my master list for success this year. Keep an eye out for other keywords throughout the year, I’ve always got a new idea for how to live a happy, healthy and satisfying life. I also want to hear your ideas! Do you have a tip or a revelation that works for you? Share it in the comments and spread the love.

M.

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