This is probably NOT about what you think. It has nothing to do with first-timers, being intimidated, looming doubts after your first class…
It has everything to do with missing a few days, and being afraid to get your @$$ handed to you the next time you walk in that door.
I’m not injured. I didn’t go on vacation. It simply started with the need for a day or two off. A bag of potato chips here… half a pack of Oreos there… less-than-necessary sleep… all combined with general laziness… has made for an interesting 3 days. And by “interesting,” I really mean completely boring & demotivating. Ugh.
Last year for New Year’s, I wrote an article about how I’ve been Negative Nancy towards the whole idea of New Year’s. I completely forgot about it until I sat down to write something tonight. I’m glad I re-visited it. It’s well worth the read. Check it out first, then come on back for this year’s reflection.
This year, I’ve decided to compile a list. It’s equal parts:
things that inspired me in 2013
things that you should do some time soon
I named my blog “An Alternate Route” because of the somewhat unique way I approach life. When I finally sat down to reflect on this past year, I realized I did some pretty cool stuff.
I’ve created an intro video. Warning: It’s late at night. I’m tired. I have a tendency to ramble. But hey, video adds emotion to the words on paper, and I’d like to actually say these things, not just write them.
I’m going to talk you through the list below, but if you’d rather read them, feel free to stop the video & just read on. There are links to previous posts I’ve written from this year, as well as shout outs to many friends (and some strangers) who’ve inspired me in 2013.
(Ugh. Photo Booth on Mac screws up the audio. Sorry.)
Try a new hairstyle (inspired by Jo & JenJen)
Say “I don’t know”… about a topic that people expect you to know about.
Do a headstand. Better yet, a handstand. (inspired by CrossFit)
Call a relative that you haven’t spoken to in a while. (inspired by my Grandparents)
Write someone a hand-written note… just because. (inspired by Leah Dieterich)
Let out your inner Zack Brown Band (or Katy Perry or Pitbull). And broadcast it to the world. (inspired by Hilary & One White Face) — You really don’t have to sit through the entire thing. It DOESN’T get any better.
Tell someone the truth… even when you know it’s going to hurt.
Guys: Give one of your guy friends a hug instead of a handshake. Not one of those bro-shakes where you lean in with one shoulder & do the manly back pat with the opposite hand. I’m talking a legit hug. Both hands. Full contact. For at least 3 Mississippis. (inspired by Michael Bumbry)
Ladies: On your next first date, pay for his drink. Don’t take no for an answer. (inspired by my dwindling bank account and pursuit to find a girlfriend)
Summit a mountain at least 3,000 ft above sea level (inspired by Janice Smith)
Get to know your neighbors. You never know when you’ll get your car stuck in the mud, need a dog-sitter, or when the smile on their face on your way out the door will be just what you need to turn your day around. (inspired by my awesome neighbors)
Cook/bake something… WITHOUT A RECIPE. (inspired by Veganism)
Go after something (or someone) that you really want. And go after it (or her) hard.
It’s not a running funk. Or an eating funk. Not an age funk (otherwise often inaccurately labeled a “midlife crisis”). Not even a career funk, otherwise known as the dreaded “What am I doing with my life?” self-doubt questions that happen to all of us at one point or another.
Just a life funk.
Truth be told, today felt like the beginning of the end. But to be honest, I’m not trying to rush through it.
I debated over whether or not to publish this to the world.
“My funk is none of your funking business!”
However, not unlike everything else that I say/do/experience… I thought about my funk. A lot. And while no two funks are the same, I felt the urge to share my experience with you, in hopes that you might take something away from it.
If you’re looking for all the funky details, sorry, but you won’t find them here. I’m not talking about the specifics of my funk.
And if you’re worried about me, please don’t be. I’m fine. Really. But I do love hugs & smiley face emojis, so feel free to send either (or both) my way 🙂
Now that all that’s outta the way…
Too often, we try to avoid any feelings of negativity, discomfort, fear, sadness, etc. (We’ll refer to these feelings as “a funk” from here on out). It makes sense because it sucks to be down in the dumps. Who wouldn’t rather be happy?
But I think these funks could be useful, and perhaps, even a natural part of life. We can only learn from them if we embrace them. Allow them to happen. Not rush through them. And reflect on the experience as it’s happening.
Without going into specifics, I believe my recent funk was caused by a number of different things, all converging on me at the same time. I’ll never know the true cause(s), so I didn’t spend much time thinking about that. Instead, I thought about…
How do you get out of your funk?
I have no idea. Depends on you, and the type of funk you’re in. And sometimes you might just want to let it play out on its own.
One important thing that my funk got me to do…
Break your routine.
Your funk could be caused by any number of different things, or some crazy combination of many things. You might never know exactly what caused it. This makes it difficult to predict what will help you break out of it. Soooo… just try something different.
Take a cold shower. Pick up a basketball & shoot some free throws. Look through your high school yearbook. Call your Grandma. Sign up for a new class. Take a day off from work. Go climb a mountain. Write a recap of your day before you go to bed. Try a new food. … you get the idea.
Maybe your funk is telling you it’s time to change it up.
Get something off your chest.
I’m pretty sure my funk had something to do with some feelings that I kept playing over and over again in my head. I wasn’t talking about them with anyone else. There were no changes or new developments with those feelings, so I kept playing out scenarios in my head. Not healthy.
Tell someone about it. And if there’s another person involved (a close friend, a family member, a romantic interest), tell them. If you can’t talk to them or see them (or perhaps just don’t want to), write it out.
Sometimes you want someone to know how you feel so badly that it can start eating away at you inside. You gotta let it out, man. Worry about the consequences later. And have confidence that the immediate consequence you’ll experience is, “Ahhhh. I’m so glad I got that off my chest.”
Maybe it’s natural to feel what you’re feeling.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) associates 5 elements with different seasons throughout the year. It also uses the Yin/Yang relationship as a guide to explaining inward & outward energy in the world.
Check out the chart below. And before you jump to any conclusions, read on to hear me out.
Late Summer is associated with worry. It is also associated with transformation & ripening.
Autumn is associated with grief, as well as crying, harvest & collection.
I reference these two seasons because my funk spanned across both of them. And sure enough, I was filled with worry & grief.
Even more specifically, the grief just hit two days ago. I’ve felt worried over the past few weeks, but just starting this weekend, I was sad all day Saturday & Sunday. When did Autumn officially start? Sunday.
Transformation. Hey, that sounds a lot like change. Yup. Remember that “Break your routine” thing we just talked about?
So what does all this Yin/Yang stuff mean?
That, you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But here’s what it could mean for me.
Late Summer is preparing me for Autumn. I’m going through some changes now, in preparation for some harvest & collection in the Fall. Do I have 3 months of grief coming my way? Perhaps some sad things will occur in-and-around my life, but I can still choose how I respond. Sad things might happen, but because of my recent transformation & ripening, I’ll be better prepared to deal with them.
But this I know for sure, and I mean this with 100% of my being:
It’s OK to worry. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad. And sometimes crying is the best funk[ing] medicine on the planet.
I think we can all agree that the people whom we feel have a high level of maturity, they also possess a breadth of life experience. It’s a common misconception that the older we get, the more mature we become. Sometimes this is true… and then you meet the 35-year-old who still acts like he’s 17.
No doubt that you have the opportunity to become more mature with the more life experience that you obtain. But what turns this opportunity into reality?
You can possess 50 years of life experience, traveling the world, working many jobs, dating different people, trying new things & exploring different cities… and still be relatively immature. So it’s not the experience alone that creates maturity.
It’s the experience along with the reflection.
It’s not just about the places you’ve traveled. Why did you choose those places? What people or things were there that enticed you to visit? What did you want to achieve while you were there? Who did you meet? What did you talk about? What/Who did you miss when you returned?
It’s not just about the jobs you’ve worked. Why did you apply for the job? What’d you learn while you were there? How can you apply your new skills to other areas of life? Did the job cater to your strengths? Why did you quit? Why were you fired? How did the job affect your mood? Your relationships? Your social life?
It’s not just about the people you’ve dated. What attracted you to them? How did you feel when you were with them? Did you miss them when they were gone? Why/why not? How did they feel about you? How did you handle the uncomfortable situations? Did you communicate well? Often enough? In the same way, or different ways? Why’d you break it off? How did this relationship affect your next one? And was it in a healthy or unhealthy way?
It’s not just about the things you’ve tried. Why were you drawn to that activity? How did it make you feel when you were doing it? Did you do it alone or with a group? Did you do it more than once? 10 times? 100 times? Why/why not? Do you want to turn it into a career? Did you try to get others to do it too? Was it dangerous? Rewarding? Exhilarating? Emotional?
It’s not just about the cities you’ve lived in. How long were you there? What brought you there in the first place? A person? The nightlife? Mountains? Why’d you leave? Why’d you stay? Does the city align with your beliefs & interests? What type of people have you met? Do you find yourself wanting to go back (after you’ve left)? Can you raise a family there? Do you feel at home?
Sense of Urgency
Your reflection needs to happen around the same time you have the experience. The longer you wait, the less valuable the reflection becomes. And if you wait too long, it loses all its value.
You can even reflect during the experience. In fact, I encourage you to reflect before, during AND after. Perhaps the questions you ask yourself before you go aren’t called “reflection,” but they’re still good things to consider. And they’ll help you reflect when you’re in the moment (as opposed to getting so caught up in the moment that you forget why you’re there).
You can live in a place for years and never mature more than a few days worth.
You can date a person for months, and if you’re not honest with yourself, end up coming away less mature than when you started.
I decided to go to church today for basically the second time ever. While I was much less prepared for this go-around, and was there more to provide support for a friend… I still came away with a great piece I can apply to my life.
Today’s speaker was a woman, and she focused on a topic geared towards women. But it’s one that we can all learn from.
She opened with some examples from Pinterest. So many people see projects on Pinterest and try to recreate them. They often turn out to be a disaster.
But it’s this idea of Pinterest perfection that we all strive for. We compare ourselves to others based on how well we complete these projects, and when they don’t turn out well, we feel inadequate.
Our society is driven by these types of lists. They’re easy to make comparisons, and it’s human nature to seek out comparison. It’s a great form of feedback.
But our obsession with lists has led us to always strive to do more. It becomes all about getting things done, that we care so little about what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with.
As an American culture, we’re awful with this. As a small business owner, I struggle with this. As a perfectionist who obsesses over details, I can’t always get my mind around this.
But as a human being who is really starting to value relationships more and more each day, this is apparent.
A list-driven lifestyle will only continue to push us to do more and more. And where do we draw the line? And how quickly do we stop caring about the actual work we’re doing?
I, for one, am going to think twice before making another list. Life has so much more to offer than simply getting a bunch of menial tasks completed. We’re all much more capable than that. We have so much more to share with our friends, our family & even those we haven’t met yet.
It’s ironic how we always demand more from others. We’re not satisfied with anything less than exceptional quality & service, yet when it’s time to do our own work, we resort back to our list, and fall victim to just “getting it done.” Are we putting forth that same quality that we demand from others?
Put the list down and pick up a book. Skip a few to-do items, and go hang out on your buddy’s porch. Turn something in late if it doesn’t have tobe finished today. And be proud of whatever situation you’re currently in, even if you know it won’t be pinned on Pinterest any time soon.
I’m not anti-social. I promise. And I really do like you.
I’m just having an introverted moment.
For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been exploring my personality & values. I’ve taken some assessments, read a few books, written in a journal, and been asked some tough questions (and answered them honestly).
One major theme that I’ve learned — and embraced — is that I’m very much an introvert.
I want to write more in-depth about what this really means for me, but that’s for another day. Today, I just want to make something clear.
If I don’t say hi to you, come hang out, or have much to say… it doesn’t mean I don’t like to be social. I love people. Love conversations. And love sharing experiences with friends.
But being the introvert that I am, I can only do so much socializing before I need a breather. If I’ve had a fun-filled weekend with friends, or even just spent a few hours with a friend over coffee, I exerted 100% of my mental energy into that experience. And now it’s time to recharge my batteries.
Much like an actual battery when it’s being charged, it sits alone in a charger. It cannot be used for anything else. And if you try to take it out too soon… it just doesn’t work. You’ve got to let it finish charging.
If I don’t give myself time to recharge, I’m not much fun to be around. That doesn’t mean I get all mean & nasty on you, but you won’t have my full attention. And it’s frustrating & draining for me, which is also no fun.
With that said, I think that will be a new saying that I start to use to explain my mood. So if you here me say, “I’m having an introverted moment,” please try your best to understand & respect that. And let me recharge.
I assure you, it’ll be more fun for everyone 🙂
A carefully curated list of fellow introverts (and their experiences in the world)