CultureHealth

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been extremely fast-paced. I always expect everything in my life to happen instantly, and my strong desire for instant results often leaves me overwhelmed and exhausted.

I’m a highly competitive individual; I always mange to turn everything I do into some sort of competition by setting sharp deadlines to achieve my goals.

Recently, however, I’ve been self-assessing where I am in my life and where it is I am trying to go.

My answers came from a magazine advertisement I was reading one morning on my commute on the London tube.

It read, “Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day, and Neither Were You.” Inspired by the choice of words, I wrote it down in my notes section of my iPhone of things to look into later that week. Having heard the expression in literature and other numerous places before, I decided to research its origins. I learned it was a French proverb from the late 1100s, and it wasn’t translated into English until 1545.

By relating that phrase to my current life ambitions, I was able to further understand my journey of self-development. My interpretation of the phrase was that all things in life take time to create, and substantial things, such as the great city of Rome, take years to complete.

As humans, we should not set expectations to achieve great successes. We need to rewire how we think about our accomplishments. Ancients Rome’s vast network of developed roads, buildings, and modern advancements were not simply erected overnight. The empire recruited people from afar, and spent years developing into the great power it was known to be. Personal growth is essentially the same way. It takes time and lots of strategic planning, but the time logged pays off dramatically.

The constant search for instant gratification is something that, now being 25, I am getting better at channeling and understanding. Nothing in life comes easily, and the most rewarding things in life require work and perseverance. There are three avenues Generation-Y can relate to directly that include our strong desires for self-development and fulfillment:

  1. Professionally

I often feel the past eight years of my life have been extremely rushed, often making me feel unclear of my life plans. After high school, much like my counterparts, I went straight into university. Not knowing what to do after, I enrolled in a master’s program and soon after found myself working a 9-5 job from Monday to Friday in London. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with my choices, but I often wish that I had taken some time to fully explore my life options and develop my soul and inner character.

At the time, I was in a rush to finish my education and immediately start working. I realize I could have taken more time exploring all my options and really focusing on developing and fine tuning my interests while still in school. I was in such a rush to start making money and live a professional independent life that I sometimes fail to enjoy moments and absorb what I was working towards. Take time to fully develop your interests and life goals early on. There is no rush to finish university and immediately have a job lined up post graduation. This time aids in building character and self-awareness, which is essential in life.

  1. Personally

As any young professional living in a large scale global city has probably experienced before, personal development is an ongoing process in life. We are always changing mentally and emotionally, which directly affects how we feel and how we interact. Our social circles can be vastly divergent from spending time with a significant other, work colleagues, or friends.

Working and living in a new city takes time to adapt to. You need to give yourself ample time to set your foundations to achieve new and great heights. Big cities can often become overwhelming, and often you may feel as if you don’t know how you fit in, but self-development is a cycle of figuring out how your personal growth will continue to morph your life ethos.

Don’t rush getting to understand which social scene you think you belong to, or which Tinder match will become your destined life soul-mate. Live life and go with the flow.

  1. Physically

In the last few years, I have become obsessed with staying fit and maintaining my overall health. Though I have yet to adapt a stricter routine, I used to get frustrated seeing guys at the gym lifting three times more then I could.

Since then, however, I have learned to pace myself towards understanding that I will not have a six-pack overnight. Life is a balancing act where you must make continued and conscious health choices towards adapting a plan that is suitable for your busy and changing lifestyles.

If you want to achieve great things in life that garner longevity, much like the city of Rome, then perhaps consider reconditioning the ways you go about your daily life. Better ways of channeling your thoughts and desires are the key factor in establishing and setting yourself up for success. Good things take time, and rushing to reach the end is not the best solution.

Image: Carpe Juvenis

HealthSkills

Two steps forward, one step back. Or sometimes, two steps back or even three – and then we’re really lost, asking ourselves how we even got there. The setback comes in all shapes and forms, but always of the same effect. It has a tempting, toxic ability to keep people in a negative state of mind making it more of a stayback than anything else. We feel it when relationships end, whether with a partner or a close friend. We feel stagnant when our career choices don’t reach the expectations we have bred in our minds. We become self-degrading, unconfident, anxious, and fearful versions of ourselves whenever we face circumstances that stunt our flow of life. The sad part about all of this is not the fact that obstacles happen, but rather that our collective response to hardship is to blame ourselves by shutting down. After all, if it’s happening to me then I must be deserving of it, right?

Incorrect. Unfortunate things happen all the time, and a quick reality check can help many of us realize that our problems are not quite as hefty in the big scheme of things. But how do we get out of the mental rewind that keeps replaying the negativity reel? First and foremost, separate your true self from the problem.

STEP 1: You are not the circumstance. The circumstance is happening to you, it is not you. And too often, people feel entirely consumed by the problem almost becoming it.

Tim Storey, world-renowned motivational and inspirational speaker says it best when he describes how people ruminate on their issues. He says that “We nurse it, curse it, and rehearse it.” By doing this, we are conditioning our minds to react to problems by constantly thinking about them and repeating them in our heads. Storey explains in his book Comeback and Beyond that the best way to cope is to “accept the now and take inventory of what is happening.”

STEP 2: Thinking about a problem is different than being aware of what’s happening. When you become aware you are expanding your thought patterns from dwelling on a single issue to seeing the entire picture. Less thinking, and more recognizing. Recognize how you’re feeling and what triggers you to repeat bad thoughts. Knowing how often you nurse, curse, and rehearse will help you work towards stopping those thoughts.

There is great power in what we think. Because of this, we must be very careful with what enters our minds. Setbacks create space in our heads to think negatively, but we can train ourselves to make space in our heads for positivity. It’s about redirecting what we pay attention to. Instead of focusing on what went wrong or what we failed to do, realize that there are unlimited other ways to focus on things that will breed positive thoughts. If you feel like you have nothing, give more. Volunteer, call a friend, help your parents out at home, and experience firsthand what happens when you shift the expected course of action. Your mind is so used to repeating the bad, that when you begin to feed your thoughts with helpfulness and kindness, your emotions begin to change as well.

If you feel lost and confused, be open to getting help from others. It is common for people to think that success is a one person job, and if they can’t do it on their own they don’t know how to be successful. This is twisted thinking. The most successful people understand the importance of mentorship and having a strong team of individuals to support one another in both work and personal life.

STEP 3: Shift your receiver and pick up positive signals. Don’t stay in the setback. Choose to hang out with people that believe in you. Make an appointment to talk to a counselor or therapist. Only read beneficial and substantial articles and follow positive people on social media.

There are so many times in life that we can feel weighed down. A lot of that weight is in what we think and not actually what is happening. Take the time to redirect yourself and don’t forget:

Separate from the problem. Recognize your thought patterns. Shift yourself to get better reception.

“Life is all about course-correcting.” – Arianna Huffington

Image: Raumrot

Culture

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated among all sorts of families from all walks of life. The moment they came to America, my family resolved to understand how the culture and holidays work here as part of their immigration process. I’m from a Chinese family, and with that comes its own values. One of them, like many cultures, is to be thankful for the good that has come, and to hope that there is good in the future.

The way my family celebrates Thanksgiving isn’t too different from other families. We put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade broadcast on our television. Over the years, the television went from a big bulky block that sat on our table to a nice flat screen. Sometimes it would be the sound of the Nintendo Wii, and me kicking my cousin’s butt on Super Smash. While the sounds of trumpets and music and the voice of an announcer cheerfully declares the coming float, the sounds of metal clanking comes from the kitchen.

Our family has turkey like many others. We also have rice and fish, salads and cooked dishes of vegetables. The important thing is that everyone is happy and eating what they want, so having both turkey and chicken wasn’t unusual on some Thanksgivings. I always liked my little bowl of cranberry sauce, and my dad makes a great mixed salad, and my mom orchestrates the way the extended oval table, with its orange and white Hawaiian flower cover, is arranged.

We did prayer every year, with my grandparents leading, and this year is special. The prayers involve incense and a neat arrangement of oranges, meats, sweets, and vegetables by the window. The prayer is to the spirits, ancestors or gods or what have you, to thank them for protecting us and that we would appreciate their protection in the future. Any deaths in the family, especially any within the past year, would especially be remembered, as the spirits of those people are most close to us. This year, we indeed have one of these close spirits, so the prayer will not be without deep contemplation.

The fun comes after the food is done, after the prayers said. That’s when we get to eat, and my family, as well as extended family from all over NYC, come to one household. It’s a loud event with a lot of noise and clattering and energy, but there is a lot of love. More than anything else, this love, not the food or the parade or the incense, is what makes Thanksgiving so lovely.

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?

Image: martha_chapa95

Skills

Escaping negativity is hard.

I’ll be perfectly honest; when I first came up with the concept for this article (and it was probably about a month ago) I had big aspirations for how amazing and relatable it would be. People would laugh and cry reading it, it would be an article for the ages, lauded by all.

Needless to say, this is not that article. That article, which had potential (although probably not as much as I dreamed it would) was killed by my complete and utter lack of motivation, as well as persistent nagging from myself that whatever I did, the article wouldn’t be up to par anyway. The sad thing is, I really wanted to write a good article that people would appreciate. I want to live up to everybody’s expectations, and even go beyond that. I want my work to be acknowledged and appreciated. I’m only human, after all. Being human, however, entails other less positive things.

The negativity that keeps me from writing the inspired article isn’t unique to me. Most people go through phases where nothing seems to be good enough, no matter how much you give. The question then becomes, why bother trying? Once you’ve reached that particular question, with all the life-altering connotations it brings with, that’s when you really need to think about what you want and what makes you happy. In my experience, that’s what makes that negative cloud go away; by finding a little moment of happiness and stretching it, taking your safe zone and pushing its boundaries until you find purpose in even the things you don’t want to do.

This is the point in the year where a slump kicks in (at least for me). The jitters of the beginning of school have faded, and the mundanity of daily life has yet to be replaced by heart-stopping final jitters. Halloween has passed in all its sugar-spiked glory, and it’s really too early to be gearing up for Christmas. The important idea that will kick that negative voice to the curb for November is this – November is a time for thanks and family.

Wherever and whoever you are, there’s someone out there that cares, and that’s an amazing thing, a simple fact that can alleviate any foul mood. Dark clouds do come, and there’s really no way around it than to face it every day with a steely determination, a smirk worthy of Han Solo, and preferably a loved one. With the power of that trifecta, the negative voice in your head won’t dare to speak up.

How do you deal with your negative voice?

Image: Volkan Olmez

Culture

As children, we love Halloween for the candy. As we grow up, the candy is still nice, but celebrating is about the costumes and the parties. Part of the fun of the holiday is the ability to dress up and step outside of yourself for a day. The type of costumes we wear have a way of changing as we get older. Do we wear the costume that reflects us or do we wear the popular costume? For girls in particular, the popular costume has become synonymous with the sexy costume. We live in an age where the popular costume comes with drawbacks.

The change in our costumes seems to represent an unspoken cultural shift. On Saturday Night Live‘s Halloween episode this year, they parodied a Halloween store commercial. They claimed to have “sexy Hunger Games costumes” including “Sexy Katniss Everdeen,” “Sexy Her Sister,” and more. Though there were a lot of jokes in this sketch, this one stuck out to me because it plays on the idea that every popular costume needs to be sexy. No one ever said that all young women should be dressing sexy for a holiday, but it is expected anyway. Likewise, I don’t think anyone says they want to be a sexy version of something on Halloween, but you kind of expect that is what a girl’s costume will be.

I personally have worn both types of costumes, but I started out with a more innocent one. I have always had long dark hair so I looked for a costume that could accentuate that. One year, I ended up going as Samara from The Ring. While I bought makeup from a Halloween store, most of my costume was an outfit that I put together myself. I loved the costume. I put a lot of work into it. I wore it freshmen year of high school and by senior year, people I didn’t even know still remembered that costume. I still have pictures of the costume and remember it fondly.

A few years later, I wore the “sexy” army girl costume. I wore it in a theme with my friends, and it was fun to coordinate costumes with them. I was legally an adult by the time I wore it but I was still living at home. The main downside of wearing the costume was walking past my parents as I left the house. I don’t know if I would have been allowed to wear that kind of costume before I was an adult. Regardless, it felt odd for them to see me like that. Another issue was that I got cold when I went out at night. Going out and being seen is the point of the costume. They are good outfits to look at but not very practical. All that said, it was a costume that I wore only one night. My costume choice did not have any long term effects on me. So, what’s the real problem?

I think the problem with the sexy costumes is about how we have accepted this role for women. There does not seem to be a male equivalent to the sexy costume. Nor is there any expectation for men to wear any particular kind of costume. In fact, the pictures on costume packaging suggest men wear clothes under their costumes. This makes the idea that women have to be sexy all the time all the more strange. As I mentioned, I made my costume when I went as Samara from The Ring. I bought my costume when I became sexy army girl. When I went shopping for a costume this year, there were two sexy women costumes for every regular one. It’s not impossible to find costumes that don’t show much skin, but the point is that this task should not be that hard. We have somehow accepted this to the point where it has become a trend. If you’re not in a couple’s costume, it’s as if you are advertising. Can you be called a tease for wearing these costumes or are you just a shopper? At what age are you pressured to go from bunny to sexy bunny? No one pays attention to this trend and that is what makes it dangerous.

In the end, the choice of how you celebrate Halloween is up to you. It’s a holiday! It should be fun. I don’t think you should worry about someone “slut shaming” you because you picked a certain costume. I do think a problem exists when the costume makes you feel bad when you are wearing it. There is a double standard in the way these costumes are marketed. If you are feeding into this by wearing a costume, you should think about how that makes you feel before you make a final purchase. Maybe you could embrace your creative side and make something all your own.

CollegeCultureInspiration

Anxiety. It’s not a pleasant word. It’s also a word that illustrates the feelings of me and my friends when we realize we’re knee deep in thesis projects, midterms, or final exams. Anxiety is a weird feeling because it’s not like a cold. People can’t necessarily see the worry or panic in you, so they treat you normally. But like depression, it’s still a very uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, thing to hold inside for a long time. People go through anxiety often, and in college, I’ve met many people who say that they’re suffering from it.

I was talking to a friend who used to suffer from anxiety and depression. She said that part of the reason was because she didn’t know what she wanted to do with herself and she didn’t know where she was going in life. In high school, she went to counseling, but it didn’t help. She said she got better because she found something she loved, in particular a television show and her passion for graphic design. Being lost is scary, so if that is causing some worry, remember that the best thing is to keep searching (not feverishly, but more considerately) for things that are interesting or passion-­worthy. It’s different for everyone.

Some people feel that anxiety stems from a fear of the future. Anxiety isn’t necessarily fearing the future; it’s fearing the inability to control it. I get anxiety from not being to control the outcomes of my future. I don’t know if I’ll get a perfect A this semester, and that freaks me out. I can control my work ethic, but not my professor’s mind. I tell myself that some things are out of my control, and to not blame myself for everything. If I was late because of a train delay, it’s not my fault. Sure, the professor will be irked I walked in during lecture, but I left my house on-time, I was not trying to be late and, well, sometimes things like that happen.

Anxiety is different for everyone, and the reasons are different for everyone. The ways to deal with it varies, from drinking tea in bed to ­exercising at the gym. In the end, the most important thing is to remember that there is always tomorrow, and to not sweat the small stuff. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, today will just be a blimp in a timeline filled with great experiences. You can do it.

Image: Unsplash