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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Yin and Yang

May 6, 2012 1 comment

“I’m pretty sure you’re two different people,” said a friend and coworker as I stared inside a glass of whiskey at a downtown bar. She was referring to the person I was at work and who I am on the weekends. One is an overworked, professional, dedicated employee who goes to bed by 10, exercises, and eats well. The other comes out on Fridays and Saturdays and still thinks he’s more or less in college. It’s not exactly a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I’m not sure which one is supposed to be the monster.

That distance between professional and personal lives never truly goes away, but I don’t think it’s ever larger than when you’re a twenty-something in a hard-partying college town with a lot of disposable income, very little stability and an allergic reaction to boredom. We’re bored and unmoored.

I’m quick to melodramatically tell everyone what a wreck my personal life is and like to make jokes about how many shambles my life is in, but I’m pretty sure that’s a common feeling for those in my demographic. You’re confused. You feel a bit lost at sea without an anchor. You don’t know how you’re expected to act. The fragments of who you were keep bubbling up to the surface, and the person you’re supposed to become hasn’t arrived yet. We’re all just passing time until the train gets to the station. There isn’t really anything else to do, so we go out to bars, order one too many, and traipse around the city like kids in an ever-expanding, endless candy store. We make friends through drinking games, random hookups and laughter. We are young and wild and that is, to an extent, how we like it.

I think the confusion comes from the idea that I want both poles at the same time. I want the unexpected confusion and randomness of the night, but some nights I just want to watch a shitty movie on Netflix with a girlfriend. I want to be unaccountable and free, but also reliable, loyal and professional. I want the shirt-and-tie nine-to-five, but also the rock-and-roll lifestyle. Those two sides fight each other for my attention.

I keep looking forward and trying to figure out what I am actually supposed to be doing. I keep thinking that I should be acting my age, whatever that means. The more and more I think about it, I am acting exactly how I should be. I think the expectation is that as a twenty-something college graduate, my particular brand of dualism isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s expected, and it’s reflected and reinforced by the pop culture we breathe in. Look at the group on How I Met Your Mother; the characters are successful, professional, productive members of society but they also spend their free time at the bar looking for beer, bedmates and laughter.

Eventually, we’ll meet an anchor that makes the boredom go away, and we’ll be content just sitting around. We’ll be happy doing couple-y things, and “adult” things, and we’ll give less and less time to the other side. Eventually, the distance between your own personal Yin and Yang is almost undetectable. We’ll find a balance. It just might take a while, so we might as well enjoy ourselves while we’re waiting.

Categories: Gen Y Tags: , , , ,

Quarter Life Advice

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I turned 24 on Sunday.

A 24th birthday is a seemingly insignificant blip. It’s a milestone not worth remembering, another random point in my individual timeline. The pivot-point birthdays, the ones that open up new possibilities and endless opportunity just by proxy of my age (16, 18, 21) are behind me.

But, given that it’s a nice time to stop and reflect on the past 8,760 days, here are a few things I’ve learned on this crazy adventure we call life:

You’re never as old as you feel and you’ll never be this young again.

You will miss an endless amount of opportunities. You will always feel like you missed some turning point in your life, and you will always be haunted by the road not taken, the girl you never talked to, the job you never accepted. You will feel regret. The more time you spend going down that imaginary road, the more time you’re wasting. Spend your time focusing on the opportunities you caught and what you’re doing with them. This is your life. Right now. It’s all you have, so you might as well enjoy it. There are very few pains worth holding onto, and regret isn’t one of them.

Own your vices, but get rid of your demons: Everyone needs something to hold onto. Some people (like me) find solace in pop culture, some (also like me) find it in food and drink, some find it in religion. We all have vices; some are good, some are evil, some are both, some are neither. The moment you let any of these things take over your life, you might need to reconsider your connection to them. Very few people are strong enough to do this on their own.

There’s a healthy balance between outside influence and intuition.  A lot of people will feel like giving you advice (I’m doing it right now, and I’ve done it before), and you will be tempted to listen. They will say that they know what’s best for you, and they have more experience than you, and that they’re right. They will poke and prod and nudge you in directions you don’t want to go. These people will try to drown out the little voice in your head, the one that tells you yes or no or stop or go. Don’t let anyone muffle your inner voice.

You will feel awkward sometimes. Remnants of that insecure teenage version of you will stick around and taunt you. That’s normal. Everyone goes through the same basic experiences you do: the thrill of a first kiss, the heartbreak of a first love lost, the explosion of hormones, the general gawkiness. The best you can hope for is that you take the good things about your early years (the hope, the excitement, the child-like wonder, the openness to connection) with you and leave most of the other junk behind.

You will never be perfect at anything, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

It is never okay to stop learning.  School’s over, and you’ll probably never go back. It’s up to you to read books, to devour culture, to jump into new situations head-first.  Hopefully you’ll learn from your successes and your failures. Hopefully you’ll learn from others. The only thing you can do is try to learn how to be a better person.  

Friends will arrive, friends will disappear. Meeting friends and potential love interests only gets harder, more forced, and more awkward as time goes on. You’ll like people you work with, and maybe you’ll like your neighbors, and maybe you’ll like your girlfriend’s friends, but you’ll never have an experience like high school or college again. Those friends will understand you better than most people, but they’ll be taken by new cities and new people and some of them will fade away. Try to maintain your connections; it’s pretty easy these days. You don’t have a lot of excuses to let those connections die out.

There are a lot of shiny things in this world. There are distractions everywhere. The hardest thing in this world of so much noise, so much bullshit, and so many different things warring for your attention is to find something real to concentrate on. Try to devote your time to whatever makes you nuts with passion, whatever burn inside you, the things you feel with every piece of your being. Nobody else can tell you what those are. Figure out how to enjoy silence and things that happen in nature.

Here’s to another 24 years.

[Art courtesy of Lauren Krukowski. Click the pic for more]

Categories: Wisdom Tags: , , , , ,

Resolutions

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, hey 2011.

It’s not just the start of a new year for me. It’s the start of an entirely new life. 2010 was the year I graduated college. It was the year I moved back in with my parents after leaving one of my favorite cities in the world. I got a “real person job” and moved back to that city. Quite a year.

So, let’s get this year started off right. Things to remember:

-Get distracted by shiny things. Kids go through their lives being curious, being open to new experiences, and being amazed by all the tiny intricacies of the world. Never let that childlike wonder die out.

-Stop talking, start doing. I’m not really the type of person that makes it a goal to change everything around on January 1st, because I know that there’s a difference between saying I’m going to lose weight, drink less, and exercise more and actually putting in the effort and doing it. This is true for almost everything. People love talking about doing stuff but never actually follow through with it, and ideas get lost that way. It’s easy to talk about change; it’s harder to actually change things.

-Laugh frequently.

-Do scary things. Starting a new job was scary. It was a completely new experience and my head was crammed full of new information. I had to meet a ton of new people. I get nervous about so much “new” happening at once. I also have to give quite a few presentations as a part of this job, which is something that still freaks me out. But I’m learning and just by doing more of it, I’m getting a little more comfortable with the spotlight on me. I’m glad that I’m doing these scary things. Try to do as many scary things as you can; it makes life more interesting, and it keeps you on your toes.

-Get a girlfriend. I’m pretty good at making friends. I like to think that I’m a genuinely interesting person to be around, and I’m pretty loyal. Good things to have, right? So I never worry that much about making those kinds of connections. Making a romantic connection is a little more foreign to me, and I’ve always been a bit closed off in the emotions department. I should probably change that this yearI’m learning to be more open about how I feel, though (writing helps immensely).  It would make my mother quite happy if I found myself a ladyfriend.

-Stay in touch. I’m worried about staying in touch will all of the awesome friends I made during school. Of course, Facebook does make that process a little easier, but I know myself well, and I know that if I don’t put in some effort I’ll drift away from those awesome friends. I don’t want that to happen. I want long-lasting friendships with the people that helped shape who I am.

-Document. For Christmas, I got my Dad a VHS-to-Digital conversion kit so he could transfer all of the embarrassing VHS tapes of my childhood to DVD’s. Memories are important. All of these seemingly-insignificant moments in life are actually the most important things in the world.  Time to take more pictures, write things down, and finally make friends with nostalgia. Like Borges said, “don’t lose the now“.

-Embrace silence. It’s one of the hardest things to do in an age of constant noise. Being comfortable with silence is really tough, but it’s important to unplug from society every now and then and jump into a book. Take long, meandering walks with nothing in mind. Hang out in the woods around a campfire. Or, zen-out and sit in silence. Whatever it takes.

-Just try. Just care. Just because you can coast through life doesn’t mean you should. It’s time to wake up.

-And smile more, you magnificent bastard. Life is just too damn interesting to be cynical and bitter all the time. Just smile more. It’ll change your life.

And just like that Counting Crows song says, maybe this year will be better than the last. I have some faith. Here’s to a brand new year and a brand new chapter in the Book of Tom.

Have any resolutions you want to write down? Do it in the comments.

(Image via)


Categories: Wisdom Tags: , , , , , ,

Mobile Technology is Going to Rock Our World

August 19, 2010 2 comments

Life is increasingly mobile. My entire life is connected to a tiny rectangle in my pocket. I’m always “on” and connected to Twitter, Facebook, email, and a slew of other useful apps. Smartphones are projected to account for over half of the US cell phone market in 2011. The number of tablets and iPads is steadily increasing too. For the first time ever, e-books are outselling hardcover versions. This trend has incredible implications for the future of, well, everything. This post is an awesome wake-up call to everyone who is stuck talking about social media when mobile is truly the future. Mobile technology is going to change how we think about the world and interact with it. In short, the future is mobile.

Advertising On-The-Go

We’ll soon be getting ads sent directly to our mobile devices based on our location. Recently, this article highlighted the partnership between two companies that allows brands to send you SMS (text) ads, as long as you opt in. This means that even if you don’t have a smartphone yet, you can still join in on the fun. You only get the ads when you are around certain “geo-fences” that the stores set up (hence the location aspect). This sounds horrendously intrusive, but fear not: these ads are opt-in. You have to choose to receive the ads. Mobile advertising is going to be a hit because it allows for targeted messages that are more relevant to the consumer than the giant blasts sent out over the TV or radio.

Foursquare and other location-based services also provide you with special promotions based upon where you visit. I’ve talked about that before, so go ahead and check that out. While I’m not too hot on Facebook Places right yet, I will admit that it is a very powerful tool for businesses. Imagine having Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook Fan pages all integrated together. Businesses will be able to have reviews, pictures, coupons, check-in information, and its own information all on one page that is accessible on-the-go.

You control when and where you want to access content

Technology is increasingly able to fit content around your schedule instead of content dictating it. “Timeshifting now” is a phrase I heard Faris Yakob use, and it’s an interesting concept. Timeshifting already has changed how we watch TV, and over half of the US has timeshifted a TV show. Now extend this idea to your phone or other mobile device; you can choose to watch content (on Hulu, on Youtube, etc) on your phone whenever you want. I can’t explain it as well as him, and I might have misinterpreted the idea, but the concept led me to another conclusion:  You’re able to control when and where you want to access media because your mobile device is stuck in a constant present tense defined as your “now.” When something is being broadcast and where you are during this broadcast no longer matters (save for some events like the Superbowl, awards shows, that sort of stuff). Mobile devices allow you to timeshift content to your “now” instead of dictating when your “now” is. Watch the video on the link. You’ll be smarter because of it.

Content is going to become more and more interactive

Here’s where everything gets really interesting. Imagine what a school armed with iPads would be like. All content would be up-to-date, textbooks would be interactive, and kids wouldn’t have to lug around 30-lb backpacks. Kids would want to learn if they could click on a video and watch it, or if they could learn a subject through an interactive game right on their iPad.  They would also learn to interact with the digital world at an early age, something that will be enormously beneficial in the future. If colleges embraced digital textbooks, the books would be a LOT less expensive than purchasing hardcovers; anyone who went to college knows how expensive books are. (this iPad-as-textbook idea came from a brief Twitter conversation with Olivier Blanchard. He has a lot of great ideas).

Imagine what a hospital would be like with the interactive capabilities of new mobile technology. Doctors wouldn’t have to worry about losing papers and every patient’s information could be transferred instantly between doctors and hospitals. Mobile technology will bring forth a revolution in nearly every industry, from education to healthcare to media and everywhere in between.

Mobile will change how we talk to each other and how we pay for things

I’m not going to touch on this very much, because we all know about mobile social interaction. We text a lot. Teens 12-17 use texting as their main mode of communication; they text more than they send email, call on the phone, or have face-to-face conversations. We have been able to connect with our online social networks via mobile device for a few years now. This isn’t really new, but this mobile social interaction will certainly grow with the number of smartphones being used. Mobile technology is definitely changing the way we interact with our social networks.

Mobile technology is going to change the way we pay for things too. PayPal has an app out that allows you to “bump” phones to complete a transaction. Soon, we could be paying with our phones like we do with credit cards and cash. This idea, while still in its infancy, could turn smartphones into wallets. Obviously, there are many issues that need to be worked out, but I definitely see this concept becoming a reality in the future.

So here we are, in the brave new world of mobile. It’s a technology that will cause a permanent shift in the way we interact with the rest of the world. Mobile is a technological advance that is probably the most important thing since the internet, and I can’t wait to see what happens with it in the future.

What do you think? Is mobile really as important as I think? What other mobile technology is going to freak the world out? Leave your ideas in the comments.

(Image via)

A Millenial Dilemma: Trying to Find a (Work/Life) Balance

July 9, 2010 Leave a comment

My generation is a lot of things. We have a lot of great traits: we’re tech-savvy, we’re mobile, we’re driven (albeit in a different way than the other generations), and we’re always trying to be better. We’re also viewed very negatively by “them.” They say we have a high sense of entitlement without having earned it and have no attention span, but that’s for a different post. We tackle work differently too.

The 9 to 5 work schedule is crumbling because of technology. Smartphones are keeping us connected and able to answer emails all day and night, but they’re also allowing us to access our Facebook and Twitter accounts while we’re “working” (a lot of companies are very worried about this). We can stay connected to both worlds all day very easily. More than any previous generation, we’re seeing a merger of professional and personal life.

In the past, it was easier to keep work at work. If you were someone like Don Draper (Mad Men is back on July 25th!), you didn’t bring work home and definitely didn’t have the wife and kids on your mind at work. You’d go to work, flip on the “work mode” switch in your brain, and get working (admittedly, “work mode” in Mad Men sounds pretty great). Then, you’d come home (or the home of a mistress, or a bar, in Draper’s case) and flip that switch off. Now, we’re never completely “off” and never completely “on,” which is restructuring how we spend our time. So the real question is this: How do we separate work and our personal lives? Here are a few ideas.

Read more…

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