Friday, December 28, 2012

Lying to Myself

The nicest thing about being home for Christmas is family. Any drama that occurs is created by my siblings and all their friends here at home but I typically don't bring much if any drama with me.  Still, being home is a great way to relax because it gives me time to think and reassess how things in my life are progressing.  Again, school is going great and hopefully I am on my way to grad school once my recommendations are all in.  Religiously... I could be doing a lot better. And socially... I think I have finally come to terms with what my family has been saying all along is my real issue: I am too forgiving.

Maybe it is the fact that I always feel like I fall short myself and it is so hard to make headway in my life.  Maybe I do have issues with self-esteem.  Maybe it is a higher road than that, I want to forgive others because I too want to be forgiven.  Maybe I give people too many chances because I wish that if I love others they might love me back in return.  I don't know what my reasons are and I don't know why it has taken me so long but I want to change.  I need to pick myself up spiritually and socially.  I need to work out my issues and my problems and face the facts.  I need to start exercising and spending time to make myself stronger.  It is not a bad thing to give people the benefit of the doubt if they actually deserve it but it is another thing to lie to myself wishing that people were more blunt and honest with how they really feel when I know what they are really trying to say.  It is time to cut the crap and be me.  Time to grow up.  Time to become who I need to be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breathing Easy

Finals week is always interesting for me.  So many people are stressing and freaking out because suddenly their semester is real.  They have classes they ignored for the last few months, projects and assignments that are beginning to form either a little too late or sometimes at the last possible second.  For me, finals week is typically pretty easy going.  I have been busting my butt all semester long and my grade honestly can't change that much any more no matter how I do on the final exams.  This semester in particular has been a breeze: one in-class final, one testing center, one take-home, and two oral presentations where one of them I just have to show up and look good.

The other part of finals week that is odd for me is how I end up spending my free time.  With a time intensive major like engineering, finals week is fantastic!  I suddenly have all this free time that I haven't had all semester!  I am more than willing to put in the hours I need to in order to do well but I also have all the rest of this time where I can just enjoy myself!  Movie marathons and hours of music are a must for finals week, even the occasional date or two is a nice touch.  I have seen a few different movies recently that are pretty good: Sweeny Todd, The Rise of the Guardians, Skyfall (3x), and over the break I will be adding to that list Les Miserables and The Hobbit (which I watched the rest of the LOTR movies in anticipation).  And sadly enough, I typically meet the most interesting people at the end of a semester and unless there is a real mutual desire to stay in contact, they more often then not disappear by the time the new year rolls around and I roll back into Provo.  However, I am hopeful that things can always change.

But there has been a lot of interesting new artists that I have been introduced to as of late.  Here is just a small sample of the music I have been listening to or introduced to lately to get me through finals and back home to New Hampshire:

  • Tyrone Wells
  • Ron Pope
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Allred
  • Sleeping With Sirens
  • SafetySuit
  •  Joshua Radin
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Andy Grammer
  • Matchbox 20
  • Outasight
  • The Script

    Anyways, I have been wasting enough time myself.  Not much left now and then Christmas is right around the corner!  Things will fall into place and when they do. hopefully I will be grateful enough to realize that God was just waiting for me to get my act together and everyone else involved.  Anyways, best wishes for everyone going through finals right now and Merry Christmas to all!

    How Do We Define Ourselves...?

    I have always been a deep thinker and most of the time I keep my deeper thoughts in private places but this once I want to share a thought that caused me to take some time to self-reflect.  When you think about you... How do you define yourself?  Are we defined by our past?  The successes of days gone by mixed with the lessons learned from failures and mistakes, I feel only paint a picture of actions, circumstance, and a shadow of a former self.  Some people sadly enough can only see that former self and they live in the past and forget the future.  Others who also suffocate in the shadows may do so because others may not let them move forward or forgive or be forgiven for former sins.  But again, I don't believe this paints the whole picture of a person although understanding it may help to see how far a person has come.  The distance that we have progressed in our lives may add light or compassion to our love and appreciation of another.

    As much as we cannot dwell in the past, we also cannot spend away our days dreaming of a future.  Some people define themselves by their goals and their dreams.  Life is characteristic of change.  Life has unexpected turns and so dreams provide perspective but we cannot equate failure in unfulfilled personal expectations.  We need a forward thinking perspective and we need goals in order to arrive at our eventual destination but there is not one profession, there is not one chance, there is not one dream that will lead to happines but there is one way.  My testimony and faith in God and in my Savior Jesus Christ have helped me find that way but that is a discussion for another time and another thought.  My point is that dreams and wishful thinking only goes as far as the action that accompanies it and is necessary as a part of life... determination, enduring faith, charity for your fellow men, and hope for a future.  These things again help to add depth but are unable to define a person.

    My impression is that the only person who can know who we really are, outside of our Creator, is ourselves.  I was always taught that character defines a man.  The thoughts and feelings and things that we do or say when no one else is ever watching.  If that is true then no one else really knows who we are!  Our outward actions may be accomplished for a variety of motives, many pure and some not so much.  At times the way we treat others, a complete stranger or a friend or even family, is a reflection of how we treat or view ourselves.  Still, no one else really knows us and so they are in essence unable to define us.  They can theorize.  They can guess.  They can assume.  But we define who we are and who we will become.  Our past is already written but that does not define the direction of our future.  Our world is ever-changing and so we too must adapt our plans, or in the words of Dan in Real Life, "plan to be surprised."

    I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to stop thinking of ourselves through titles and decisions and mistakes and dreams.  We should not ignore our responsibilities!  We should continue to be a faithful spouse, a dutiful and loving parent, a teachable and humble child.  We aught to continue to live life the way we have been, unless there are ways in which you can improve or find greater joy or happiness then necessity would deem us to change.  But I am trying to say is that if we strip away all those things... a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a student, a boss, a dreamer, an adventurer, a partier, a planner, in a relationship, married, single, alone... Ignore all of those things.  Deep inside, how do you define your character?  What personal attributes or characteristics do you have?  What kind of person have you become?  Are you the kind of person that you always wanted to be?  Who are you?  Have you taken the time recently to really look at yourself in the mirror and seen yourself for who you really are, both good and bad?  This was the question I wanted to pose.

    Limited Perspectives and The Right One

    I have had a lot of interesting conversations as of late with a variety of different people, friends and family alike.  There were a lot of different topics involved but the overall thing that I found most interesting was my own thoughts on perception.  By this I mean that as I would discuss various idea or topics with other people it was interesting for me as I listened to focus on the perspectives and perceptions that we all adopted and how those were crucial in the way that we understood things.

    We always hear that it is important to make a good first impression, pretty much in every situation. In order to do this successfully, you have to remember your manners, be able to identify from the setting the kind of language that is appropriate to use in the conversation and your role in that conversation, recognize when you are supposed to be a leader or a guest, and lastly you have to not check yourself out at the door.  If you are going to make a good first impression you have to be you.  Sometimes what we forget is that these first impressions are a test to see if these other people like us or approve of us in some way in an effort to meet their standards: dating, interviews, or strangers in a social setting.  When I say that we forget, I mean that we focus too much on trying to meet those standards and just be our true selves.

    I understand that we all have a need for being accepted by other people - not everyone and maybe not even whole heaps of people but we want to be accepted by someone else.  Everyone will make preliminary and intermediate judgments when it comes to other people and they will make choices according to what they perceive.  This is why I think it is so important to be true to yourself and be yourself.  I never want someone else to think I am something that I am not and then judge me for it.  Still it is also important for us to understand that we don't know why they made the specific decisions.  We can't fill in the blanks for their reasoning because we don't know all the facts and extenuating circumstances.  Dating examples, if you are stood up on a date you have to think about a few things: how specific were the details (solid time and place or was it relatively vague in order to allow flexibility), are there any number of reasons why they were late or didn't call (travel issues and cell phone issues), and is it possible that life just simply got in the way?

    I am trying to say that we all have our own reasons for why something may have occurred but in all reality we won't know for certain.  It is easy to choose to be offended or disheartened when we don't get the response that we are looking for but... patience, forgiveness, and an eternal perspective help to keep all things in their proper perspective.  Ask questions if you need to but listen with understanding and love.  Don't be the hypocrite but be teachable and humble, seeking for correction.  This principle is so very important because it would be so sad to actually have to start over and be back at square one when we could have learned from our little failures or mistakes and have stayed farther up on the path of life, fallen forward and not having slipped all the way back to the beginning.  It is tragic to have lost so much time and not have learned from the experience.

    The other lesson I have learned is simply this: No matter how important it is to make a good impression or to have other people see you in a positive light from their perspective, the way you see yourself and the way that God sees you are most important. Self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence... They are all based on who you are.  You have have justifiable self-worth if you love God, do His will, and care more about what He thinks about you rather than what everyone else thinks about you.