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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When you think of the word "beige", what comes to mind?
Within the world of automotive enthusiasts, the word in question is used to describe ordinary cars which are designed primarily for function and not much else.  Overall, the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry are considered the most beige vehicles in America by most of the enthusiast world.  These cars get you where your need to go, are dead reliable, and pretty comfortable but offer nothing else of much value other than an ever increasing sticker price.  These two cars are built in such a mundane way, but can people like you and I also be "beige"?

It has been ten years since I graduated from high school and in that time I have employed high school students during my early to mid-twenties, watched them go through college, and have also been somewhat connected to a few high schoolers in recent time as well.  One thing I have found that doesn't ever appear to change though?  The direction or lack of direction I see in the large majority of these young people.

Two weeks ago, a client made mention that she was worried for her teenage son who had a few years left in high school.  After hearing about the difficulties of employment in the current job market and how nobody seems to be using their college degrees anymore, she is leery about the direction he is going to go in life.  Either parents front the money for higher education or the student graduates with mortgage-sized debt all for holding a degree which has nothing to do with the job they will ultimately accept in most cases.  Yet getting a job interview without a degree is nearly impossible.  This is a huge risk for the future in any regard and an even bigger catch-22 for continuing generations.

Going back to what I said about high school never changing is something which came about because we are now in the time of year when high school seniors are hearing back from universities and colleges about their potential acceptance.  The high school kids want to be the college kids.  They want to get away from home, have the freedom of being all to themselves and finally figure out what they are going to do with their lives.  The college students are either wanting to stay in that world of semi-dependency as long as possible or longing to get started in that big career they have been working so hard for while obtaining that coveted degree. Some are fortunate enough to have some sort of entrance into the professional working world, but most in recent history are taking jobs in entirely different fields because that is all they can actually find.  This is a more common happening as years go by.  
"But I was supposed to go to college.  That's what you do."  Trust me, I get it.  I did the same thing.

Do you see the cycle?
We were told to take electives in high school because it would help us figure out what we should be doing for the rest of our lives.  After that, we were told to go to college because those four years would shape us into who we were set out to be.  After that?  Most of the young adults in this country still haven't the slightest clue about what they want to do with the rest of their lives - myself included for quite a while.  So, they settle into being beige.

When I lost my first big, money-making job back in 2011, I would go on interviews with companies and tell them that I would work my hardest but didn't require much out of life and wasn't chasing a paycheck.  I told them that being comfortable was just fine with me and as long as I could afford a place to live and basic necessities of life, I would be happy.  I am very thankful I didn't get any of those jobs because I no longer think that way anymore - but I'm still not chasing a paycheck.

The problem is that we were never really convinced by anyone to find ourselves or figure out who we really are.  We spent all of this time "exploring", studying, and building so-called "relationships" to be nothing other than beige.  The years we should have spent actually trying to find ourselves were muddled with other crap and all sorts or drama which makes no difference in our own lives besides adding supplemental stress to our growth.  We were taught that everything is complicated and everything has a certain pecking order or requirement for personal arrival.

None of this - none of it is true.

The past few years after my layoff have been rough for me because in the years leading up to that I was trying too hard to be "beige".  Everyone went out on the weekends, so I did.  Everyone drank too much, so I did.  Everyone had a big social agenda, so I did.  Everyone did the same exact thing in the same exact routine, so I did.  It was a horrible existence and I was blinded to think I was happy in it all.  The truth is that I was just too focused on being beige and being average and I didn't even notice it.  Anyone can get drunk and anyone can "hang out", but I eventually had to figure out that the only person who was able to create my own future and improve my own ideas was me.

I don't have it figured out yet and I am not entirely sure of what I need to be doing for the rest of my life.  Nothing about me is financially stable right now but part of growing is continual investment in yourself and your ideas.  If you had told me a year ago that the first real article I ever wrote would end up on the front page of the biggest car enthusiast blog in the world, I would have called you crazy.  If you had told me that everything I had written within a year's time would pass 300,000 total reads, I would think exactly the same thing.  If you had told me that I would be pursuing building my own line and brand of furniture while spending hours pulling nails out of old wooden planks to try to make a business for myself: Yeah, I would have thought you were insane.  It's called growth.

Am I successful?  Heck no.  I haven't even scratched the surface of what I am doing and could likely fail at any moment.  The reality of it is, however, that I wouldn't be here without the journey I chose to embark on, surrounded by a plethora of other incredible people.  I am not financially stable, I am not successful at the moment, but what I am is growing and refusing to stop until I either fail or succeed but knowing I have tried my hardest to never slow in my journey of figuring all of this out.

The other day, a friend of mine who runs a restaurant said:
"Drew comes in here and says:  'Today I ran five miles, built a table, wrote three blogs and now I'm going home to write more.'  All I have done today was got out bed, showered, and came here."
I didn't share that to brag at all, but her saying something like that in front of me and other people around me made me want to push even more in figuring out who I am.  Determination is more than half the battle and surrounding yourself with people who vocally share their admiration and support isn't far off the level of importance either.

Life isn't all that complicated but we make it that way because we are told to do things in a certain way and to follow a certain method.  Nobody ever accomplished anything by sitting around and not actively searching for their role and purpose in life.  Next year, I may not be building furniture or writing anymore, but I am happy to say that if I am still alive, I will still be in pursuit of something - because I owe myself that much.

Finding yourself is a continual and devoted process.
When you stop learning, you stop growing.
When you stop moving, your life is being wasted.

I hope I never find myself, because then I will have nothing left to chase.
I never want to be "beige" ever again.
Keep up the journey or get left behind.

Grace and Peace,

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Confessions Of A Former Whipping Boy...

Loyalty seems like an easy enough concept to embrace for most people - you either have a commitment  to someone or you don't.

Sometime last week I put up this Facebook status:
Now, I'm not some deep, philosophical thinker who likes to push my brand of inspiration on anyone, but if something like what you see above crosses my mind, I'll put it up on Facebook because someone may get a little something out of reading it.  Honestly, most of the time I post my thoughts as a reminder to myself (this blog included) and this time was no different for me because I kept coming back to read it and ponder a bit.   

I'm no stranger to honesty because I try to be as upfront as I can with people and anyone who knows me in the real world is well aware of this. Admittedly, sometimes I can go a little "too far" for someone else's liking, but I really don't care - I gave you the truth and that's what matters.  This is a big part of the reason why my circle of friendship is so small and it has to do with the aspects of truth within value and loyalty more than anything else.  Acquaintances are easy to come by but friends, real friends, are not.  In short, a real friend won't lie to you for any reason.

As a generation we are a little too comfortable with deception because even if we had the greatest upbringing imaginable, the cultural prominence of deception has become more and more accepted as a daily occurrence.   The easy way out of any situation is to come up with an excuse, which is always a lie at the very core.  Excuses and explanations are entirely different in the same way that mistakes are completely different than lapses in judgement.
Does that make sense?

I have had all sorts of people come in and out of my life with varying degrees of purpose over the years.  In the past, many have seen me as a person to lean on and one who listens or is willing to take an earful of whatever they needed to get out of their system.  As I grew older, I became more of the person who is still intent on listening but is more in tune to showing a little less sympathy and showing a brutally honest realism towards those who need it.  The thing is, I have continued to grow and as such, have lost most of the relationships of those who saw me as the sensitive type when I stopped being the most local punching bag.  I had these "friends" who would be so close to me when they were hurt or needed something, but had sparse and selective time for me when their process of life had smoothed out.
This is where the loyalty issue stems from, not just for me, but as a whole in our "culture".
This is where people are unwilling to have real loyalty in their relationships and instead have a certain person they go to for a certain thing in life.
Less commitment means less maintenance, right?

What I have realized in my own growth as a person is how little the empty relationships matter, how insignificant the one-sided relationships actually are, and how a small circle of people who treat you like family is always better than a big circle of people who categorize you as "this person" or "that person".

We lie.
As a people we lie too much.
When we were kids we were taught that telling the truth was the most important life rule.
We have just as well never heard of the concept of truth.

We use these lies and all manner of socially-accepted deception to "build" relationships we only have time for when we need something.  We have these contacts who serve one purpose which is our own, personal gain; favors we will never return and people we blow off.  We build these people up to the point of them thinking we have such a strong and necessary purpose and bond in each other's life, but it couldn't be further from the truth.

We. Accept. This.


I don't anymore.
I would rather have one friend who is happy to talk to me than having a one out of ten chance that one of my "purpose friends" will pick up when I call.

Loyalty isn't casual and loyalty isn't social.
Loyalty is a bond.
A bond is real friendship and real, uninterrupted connection.

Think it over.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, April 7, 2014

I'll be honest with you - I've fallen off a bit.
It's not for a lack of trying, however, because truth be told, I'm trying harder than I ever have at anything in life.

Over the past year I thought the single most stressful thing I would ever do was to write my book.  I'm talking about hours upon hours after arriving home for the day, pouring every bit I had left into my writing and still managing to keep up with the blog you're reading right now.  Never once did I take for granted that people like you were still paying attention to me and never once did I manage to slip away and lose my commitment.  
Then I lost the book deal.
And I was okay with that.

The past month or so has been pretty crazy for me.  When it rains, it pours and when you start chasing something, it feels as if you are getting so close to accomplishing your goals and everything finally coming together, but it doesn't.  Then you push harder.

People are looking at me.
People are looking at me even more in other places than they are on here.
Just because I haven't kept as much up to date on my blog as I want to doesn't mean I have stopped and doesn't mean I have slacked.  I'm tired everyday because people are looking at me, and guess what?  
I'm still writing - it just isn't on here.
Not now at least, because other people who are paying attention to me are going over it with a fine toothed comb and not saying much about anything just yet.
I haven't told anyone that, but now you know.

I stay awake sometimes because all I want to do is write more on here, but I know I can't keep my eyes open and head cleared enough to put anything of reason into written words.  Truth be told, this process of the back and forth does make me miserable, but it is a welcomed misery.
The sinking feeling is what keeps me going and keeps me pushing.  I don't have enough hours in the day to do everything I want and I don't have enough moments of being awake to put everything into coherent sentences.  But I am still writing and I am still setting goals. Other goals.

People probably get sick of me saying little tidbits about being sober, but I don't care because that is one of the greatest accomplishments in my life.
Writing a book that hasn't been published yet wasn't it.
Having small-scale successful blog isn't it either.
I wouldn't be so tired if I weren't sober, but that is the beauty within the mess - because I have goals now - because I never, ever want to stop.  Writing, designing, building, establishing new ventures in my life is what I want and that is exactly what I am chasing right now and trying to keep from neglecting anyone.  I want to bring others with me, but I meet more hesitation.

 I see people talk about relaxing and I see people who think the only way they can achieve such is in an altered state of mind as I watch them fall slowly into a hole of losing motivation.  The people who talk about doing things and have convinced themselves they are trying, but they aren't at all.  They're just talking, and talking, and talking.
That was me.
That WAS me.

I'm still going.
I'm still trying.
I'm not sleeping as much as I need to and I think my circulation issues are getting worse, but I am happy being tired and I am happy to be reaching for four different goals right now.

Yeah, I am finally starting to be a little proud of myself. 
Not for anything I have accomplished because I am nothing special and am not all that important.
I'm proud that I am trying and giving every bit I have to every facet of everything I love.
I may fail, but I don't care anymore.
It doesn't matter because I am trying.
Really trying.
Are you?
I'm asking for a friend.

Grace and Peace,