Friday, April 26, 2013

Work hard (on your passions)

Popular society uses the phrase "work hard" a lot.

"If you want to make something of yourself, you have to work hard."
"Truly successful people work harder than everybody else."

I agree that hard work leads to great results, but I think there's one little important detail that's being left out of all these "work hard" rants.

The truth is, I'm an interesting cross between a hard worker and a lackadaisical couch potato. I've always been resistant when it comes to doing things I don't want to do. In school, I'd half-ass my way through my math homework because I didn't like math. I failed my physical science chapter tests because going swimming in Antarctica with nothing but a bikini on sounded more fun than reading physical science chapters. I procrastinated. I Googled answers. I read SparkNotes. I felt like throwing my belongings across the room when I saw the word "explain" on my test papers because simply giving the right answer wasn't good enough.  

Don't get me wrong. I actually made pretty decent grades in school. Mostly A's and B's with a C every now and then in subjects I hated. (And okay, I passed Algebra with a D in 9th grade.) I always studied and got my work done (for the most part) because getting good grades mattered to me.

Which brings me to the central point of this post....

I've noticed that I only work hard on the things that truly matter to me.

When it comes to doing things I'm passionate about and working towards goals I want to achieve more than anything, I basically turn into a crazed work-a-holic who deprives herself of food, sleep and bathroom breaks until she gets a satisfying amount of work done within a certain time period. When I'm working on something I'm passionate about, it would take a pretty massive emergency to pull me away.

This has always sort of set me apart from others. I always wanted to be creative and do whatever the hell I pleased, and my family and peers could not fathom why I so adamantly neglected things like going to college and getting a real job. It's because I never wanted to go to college. I never wanted a real job. I acted like I did because I thought I was supposed to and would tell people, "Oh, I plan on going to college and getting a job very soon!" But deep down, I knew that probably wasn't going to happen. I didn't care enough about those things to put in the effort required to achieve them.

So while all my friends were accomplishing these grown-up activities at lightning speed, I sat at home wishing I could work on my seemingly insignificant passions and still feel as important and accomplished as them. I felt lazy, irresponsible and unworthy in comparison and thought there was something terribly wrong with me for being so resistant to all that "hard work." I felt like such an asshole when my friends would text me about how busy and bogged down there were with things like work, school, and other young adult responsibilities.

I grew up slowly, gradually, and at my own pace. But the fact that I only work hard on things I care about hasn't changed. I have my dream job. I'm working on my first eBook, and I couldn't be more excited about it or proud of it. I love how I'm constantly dreaming up new ideas and possibilities for my work life. Uncertainty feels more exciting than scary these days.

Case in point, I think I'm doing pretty well despite my extreme lethargic nature. I'm not rolling in cash or showering in notoriety, and I still have a lot of learning and growing up left to do. But I'm happy. I'm happy because I only do what I love every day. I work hard on that because it's the only thing that makes sense to me.

So yeah, work hard...but only on what you're passionate about. A lot of people say things like, "Sometimes you just have to suck it up and work hard even if you don't like what you're doing." While I agree that sometimes we have to go through the messy stuff to get to the good stuff, I don't think anyone should feel obligated to settle for or simply tolerate something that they don't truly care about. I know I don't.

What are YOU passionate about, and how have you nurtured that passion today?

<3 Madison  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My "anti self-abuse" policy

Yesterday I sort of planned on going for a walk and picking up trash and litter in my area---in honor of Earth Day and because littering is my number one environmental pet peeve. (Why are people still doing that???) I've had some extra free time on my hands lately, so I thought contributing to the beauty and cleanliness of my community would be a good way to put that free time to good use. I could pop in my earplugs, grab a trash bag (and maybe some rubber gloves) and get to work. It would be great!

But instead of doing that during my free time, I found myself alternating between frolicking to music, fussing with my hair, and catching up on the book I'm currently reading. Then I remembered, "Oh yeah! Didn't I plan on picking up litter instead of engaging in such activities?" I could feel the inner voice of negativity and disapproval coming on, but to my amazement, I managed to stuff it down and ignore it before it could tell me how irresponsible and environmentally negligent I was. I was immediately able to replace that with something more like, "I'm actually enjoying my music frolicking, hair fussing, book reading free time. The litter will still be there if I decide to pick it up some other day." And just like that, I went back to what I was doing---guilt free.

I've noticed myself doing this quite a lot these days. I keep coming up against this blunt refusal to beat myself up or attack myself with "shoulds." It's like I've subconsciously developed an "anti self-abuse" policy.

I'm not saying I don't beat myself up at all. I do. But I've been doing it way less these days. I've adopted an extremely nonchalant, somewhat uncaring mentality. While this is very liberating and has helped me love myself more, I can't help but wonder if it's a little bit of a bad thing too.

I'm a huge advocate of treating yourself with patience and kindness, but I'm also a huge advocate of remaining self-aware. I think it's good to be able to stop every now and then and think, "I could be better at this" or "I could change this." Recognizing how we can be better or how we can change is what leads to growth. If everyone just kept doing what they've always done and never made an effort to recognize the areas of their life that could be better or different, we'd all become pretty boring and stagnant after awhile. There would be no more stories to tell. There would be no more lessons to teach.

I don't want my extremely nonchalant and somewhat uncaring mentality to prevent me from recognizing the areas of my life that could use work. I'm not exactly talking about my failure to pick up litter when I told myself I would. I'm just talking about the self-punishing thoughts I deflect in general. There are some that I probably shouldn't be deflecting so much.

Maybe there's a healthy way to stay self-aware without punishing myself over anything. I guess I just need to find some sort of balance.

What do you guys think? Is my new "anti self-abuse" policy a good thing?

<3 Madison          

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 4)

~ Don't give anyone the authority to dump their negative energy on top of your happiness. Whenever someone is horrible, mean, rude, critical or belligerent, you need to remember that THEY have a problem, not you. It has nothing to do with you. So continue to be happy, and just let them sit in their miserable little corner if they want to.

~ If you're unsure about whether or not you should reach out for help or support, reach out for help or support. It's okay to completely crumble at someone's feet and admit that you're hurting.

~ It's never too late to right a wrong or chase a dream.

~ Internet friends still count as friends.

~ If you've been struggling with self-love lately, stop what you're doing and read the following two articles. They're kind of fantastic...

When to love yourself 
How to Love Your Authentic Self

~ I'm admittedly having a terrible day, yet I've managed to successfully remind myself that it doesn't mean I have a terrible life. That's rare, and I deserve a nap for it.  

~ Kindness is one of the most charitable gifts you can offer. Be kind to someone today.

<3 Madison

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thoughts on doing something right

Hi friends.

I'm sorry I've been a bit MIA lately. I'm not a super professional with a master plan to blog daily or once a week or twice a week or what have you. I just sort of blog whenever I feel inspired and hope that I get inspired frequently and that you guys don't hate me or lose interest in my absence.

I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts with you today.

My eyes popped open at 6:30 this morning, and adrenaline pumped through every fiber of my being. As I lied there feeling more than ready to start my day, counting my blessings, formulating new ideas, and contemplating exciting new possibilities for my life, my eyes suddenly filled with tears of joy, fear, excitement and bewilderment all at the same time. And all I could think in that moment was, "I have got to be doing something right."

I love those moments. Those moments where you feel stars aligning in your soul. Those moments when your intuitive voice is nearly shouting in your ear to keep going---to keep doing what you're doing. Those moments when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you need to do, with exactly what you need to have, despite the uncertainty that still lies ahead.

And even if you haven't had one of those moments recently, I want to let you know that you're still exactly where you need to be. And the pain, grief, fear or confusion that you may be feeling right now is only leading you to one of those moments later on. And you will look back on that pain, grief, fear and confusion and understand why it was there.

I also wanted to remind you not to be so hard on yourself when you do something that you or someone else perceives as wrong.

You may make goals and not follow through with them. That's okay. Maybe it means your heart is making room for new goals.

You may fail to treat other people the way you want to be treated. That's okay. Maybe it means you're an imperfect human being just like them.

You may get your priorities thrown out of whack. That's okay. Maybe it means you have an opportunity to put them back in whack.

You may have days where all you want to do is sit on the couch in your pajamas and eat junk food. That's okay. Maybe it means you need to slow down and recharge.

So as a concluding thought, I guess I just wanted to remind you that everything is going to be okay. And even when you feel like you're doing everything wrong, one day you will realize that you've actually done everything right.

<3 Madison