Ahh! If only I can do it all over again!

Hindsight

I think one of my best qualities is that I can be a bit of a Romantic, sorry but I don’t mean in the ‘give flowers’ or  ‘writing love ballads’ or even ‘saying sweet nothings into your ear’ kinda way. Well it’s not that I don’t like doing those things. I’m talking about the thing many of us do, we look to the future or back at the past, and we see things through those wonderful rose colored glasses. Where you said the right words, and got exactly the outcome you were looking for. You saw that cute girl/guy, came up with a witty comment, and now you have a date set for a few days. Of course reality looks a lot different, the witty thing got you blank stares, and worse yet, you don’t have a date set for next week. I’m talking about that kind of romanticizing. While it could be as a result of Movies, or Society, or my upbringing, or a whole range of things. I think it’s just another part of my personality, and it can me used for good or bad. Growing up back in Georgetown, and not the Brownstones of Washington DC, but in Guyana (please refrain from thinking I’m talking about Guinea in the continent of Africa). It was common for me to pass the day at the window at the front of our house looking out at the world beyond. This lead to not only my love of Airplanes, but my ability to look to the future, and imagine it in all it’s glory and potential. My imagination was my virtual playground, sometimes I wonder if I should have been an artist, but then again I was never good at using colors anyway. Today my life doesn’t look anything as I had imagined, I barely recognize myself. Sometimes I wonder if I’m watching a movie, and think that I’m going to wake up at any moment.

Would I really had done it differently!

I’m sure that this isn’t an isolated problem in my wild imagination, but something that most people recognize in themselves. I find myself thinking those famous words, “if only I had a chance to do it all again!” I found myself thinking about where I am today, and as if on que, I asked “what would I had done differently?” But that’s the joke isn’t it, that’s the fallacy we often find ourselves believing don’t we? The truth is that at the time, whether it turned out to be a good or a bad decision; I made the decision that was best at that time. Meaning that with all the information I had in front of me at the time, I made a calculated decision, and I went with it. So to say that if I could go back in time I would do it any differently, well that’s just a lie I’m telling myself. Even if I was to wake up tomorrow and be 10 years younger, would I know then what I knew today?

It’s idiotic to think that I some how decided to make a bad decision in the past, which led me here. When in reality I made a decision at the time based on all the facts. Now that I’m in the future, I can look back and see the product of my decision.

Am I doomed to repeat past mistakes!

My active imagination also works overtime, I find that I compare myself to other’s all the time. Sometimes it’s not even an active thought, but something that seems to have a mind of it’s own. I’ve mentioned in many posts that I’m not where I’d like to be. Meaning that @ 34 yrs old/young, I didn’t imagine I’d still be un-married, no children, no career to speak of. Then again I always did things at a different pace. With each day I’m growing and learning, while I do look back, experience is showing me that I’m making the best decisions I can. Looking back now I can say that I felt strong emotions about not taking the step I took. So I can say with certainty that I made the right decision, the truth is today I’m older and wiser. Given the same choices today, I know that I would do things differently, but that’s today. No use romanticizing about the past or the future, in the future I’ll know more than I did today, so those decisions will be different too. I can say that my life today is different than it was 1 year ago. I’m learning to forgive myself for past mistakes. While they serve as a reminder, and a testament to by growth, my past is just that. I’m thankful that I have the gumption to learn from my mistakes, and that I can stop myself from romanticizing too much about the past, to learn to be grateful for these moments I have.

Asking WHY isn’t the right question

I was not planning on including this section, but after reading a few posts, and reflecting from the Church sermon from this weekend. This section seems to add a few more layers. Thank you SingleStrides for your post that also coincided with what I was writing, and is a good segue to a conclusion. Tragedy, pain, and heartbreak are not isolated to some people, but it’s a shared experience we ALL have. Sometimes things happen and we ask WHY? I think it’s interesting that even though we as humans have a limited understanding, we try to explain away everything to just one finite answer. The problem is that sometimes there are so many treads and outcomes that results in something bad happening. I’ve learnt from my personal experience and those around me, that sometimes when we experience pain, it’s not always a direct result of our actions. What I have come to understand in my moments of reflection is that although I experienced pain, what came out of it made me stronger. In cases where I experienced personal pain or heartbreak, I was able to either connect better to my faith and core values, or I was put on the right path if I was off. Of course I recognize that this simplified explanation is exactly what I was talking about earlier, trying to make simple the complicated. Now what I’m not saying is “EVERYTHING happens for a reason.” Sometimes terrible thing happen and there is no explanation, why did someone have to die, why is there so much violence, hunger, etc in the world. Instead of focusing on the why, I’ve learnt through my experiences that focusing on whether a particular event is an opportunity for growth, is a better focus for my attention. An opportunity to increase in my faith, live closer to my Ethical Compass, or become a better version of myself. In some of those instances my prayers were answered, it’s just that I didn’t like the answer. I’ve also learnt that despite my own desires, I’m Exactly where I need to be. Of course there could have been so many other versions to my story, but today I’m here, and so are you. If you’re reading this and it resonates with you, then we’re both in the right place. It’s not really beneficial for me to question whether I’m where I should be. If I’m too busy asking questions, I’m not living, I’m not experiencing my full potential.

We only have this life to life right now, all we can do is our Best. If you approach each day giving it ALL that you’re capable of that day, no one can hold that against you. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to share the same space with people who are out there living their lives. To those who don’t take no for an answer and let others define you. To my fellow bloggers, you’re an inspiration to me each day. To my friend S. yes you do inspire me, and I’m writing this because you kept nagging, pushing me to keep writing.

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Lessons I learnt from Criticism!!!

Criticism

The past few weeks have been interesting, I’ve not taken as much time to write, and have been silent doing mostly reflecting. I had a conversation with a friend, and received some unexpected criticism. Although I didn’t initially take it seriously, in the weeks since I’ve mostly spent time processing the comments. I haven’t talked to others much, but in doing so, I feel as though it gave me a chance to look inward for help. Most importantly I didn’t go to the people I know will most likely validate my view of things, I took time to process thoughts that turned into doubt and negativity. In writing this I’m reminded of a valuable lesson, not because you don’t intend for something to sound negative means it won’t be received that way. While I’m sure there is a definition of criticism, it felt to me that it was something that tore me down, and didn’t give me an answer on what to do differently. Compared to Constructive Criticism, although you are torn down, you still receive feedback on how to fix or do things differently. One of the reasons I choose to write and put my words out there is to be seen. In my moment of self doubt, a friend posted a link about receiving criticism, imagine that just when I was facing the same struggle, someone posted something to pick me up. That’s why I choose to put my words and thoughts out there, because I never know when and how my words can help to build someone back up.  To get a better understanding of what I’m talking about check out Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Criticism “Why your Critics aren’t the ones who count.” In her talk this quote resonated with me and I thought I’d share it also.

” It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of Man in the Arenadeeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

Before getting into what I was able to learn in my moment of Reflection, I’d like to share a few more thoughts from Brene Brown’s TED Talk that resonated with me. As I mentioned earlier, I decided to write because I wanted my words to help lift up others. If you’re like me, you probably struggle in silence, you don’t tell everyone, perhaps maybe a select few know your struggles. The great thing about social media, is that you can read how others are handling their struggles, learn those strategies without having to come out from your cave; as an Introvert with extroverted qualities life can’t get any better than that! While I’m making it a goal to be more vulnerable, putting myself out there is still scary, and I don’t quite trust everyone with my story just yet. By putting myself out there I WILL receive criticism, be misunderstood, and be judged. The 3 Keys Brene identified as being central to anyone who put’s them-self out there are:

  1. Show up, and be Seen. Be seen in your work and the life you live.
  2. This is who I want to be, I want to create something. If I’m going to be in the Arena, I will get my butt kicked.
  3. If you’re not in the Arena (also getting your butt kicked), I’m not interested in your feedback.

So what are some of the thoughts that spiraled me inward filled with self-doubt. I want to first acknowledge that what follows is not exactly what was said, but this is what I heard and the way I interpreted it, and I wrote it down afterwards: – I was told that I’m projecting an image that isn’t what I actually am, not actually being vulnerable. – My thoughts aren’t my own, I don’t have an original thought, everything I’ve said or done has come from a book, or from someone else (this is the one that really resonated with me, ouch). -My communication skills aren’t as great as I seem to think. I do things because I want others to think I’m smart, or more intelligent than they are. I’ve dealt with most of these, and searched my heart, and I’m ok with where I am. Many of those comments are misunderstandings, and perhaps a window into the thoughts of a friend that doesn’t actually know me. Although I do act confidently, you will NEVER hear me being boastful about anything I do, in many cases I down play my accomplishments. As for my image or communication style, in my mind I’ve never considered myself an expert in anything I do. If anything the philosophy I hold is that there are a lot of things I don’t know, but I’m always open to learning new things, just as long as they’re rooted in facts and figures rather than emotions. I do act confidently in anything I do, I take things with a kind of I’m going to do it attitude, rather than say I’ll try to do it (probably because as a Marine, CAN’T or I’LL TRY aren’t things that you said unless you wanted to be called all kinds of names, or better yet getting your ass kicked for acting like a wimp).

Despite the self-doubt I was able to look at myself critically and came away with a few points to work on, and do better each day:

  1. I consider myself being better at communication than the average person, but not even close to being an expert, it’s something I’m also passionate about studying further. However I must acknowledge that despite my best efforts, others WILL misunderstand me from time to time. I can try to cut down on that my being clear about my intentions, and asking questions to make sure that my message received, was what I intended for the other person to hear.
  2. Be aware that when I put my thoughts out there others may be judging me. I want to be aware of my tone, do I sound condescending or as if I’m putting down?
  3. How is my attitude or appearance effecting what people hear. Sometimes I believe that my ethnic background with my national origin may complicate the picture. What I mean by that is that I was raised in a different educational system, and sometimes I find that I’m switching between that system and the now American system I’m now accustomed to. I’m not saying that one system is better than the other, but they are certainly different. Sometimes I wonder how that complicates the image people see of me.
  4. Learn to embrace negativity and criticism. Although it’s not my view, it’s still a window into how the other person is interpreting me.
  5. Although I like interacting with people, sometimes I can be a bit cold or aloof with some people. It’s not meant to seem as though I dislike you, or have any nefarious thoughts, it’s just that we’re not connecting. I will admit that if I don’t connect with someone, I don’t give it a second thought, I move on with my life. I can see how that would seem cold to some personalities, I should make a better effort to get to know others, even if I feel that we don’t have a connection initially.
  6. Most importantly remember that unsolicited advice is rarely ever welcomed graciously. I’m a fixer, I like to find problems and fix them. Although my comment on how to fix something I see as a problem with you may come from a good place, sometimes I have to remember to just listen.

Show up anyway