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Thursday, August 7, 2014

I assembled this list based upon the topics covered on this very blog over the past two years.  While not an authority on life choices, I do pay attention to the way Millennial social life has been evolving over time. It isn't pretty.

Not Knowing The Difference Between Nice People and "Creepy" People
Driving down the road in my Jeep one day with a former friend of mine in the passenger seat, I stopped at a red traffic light.  A few seconds later, my friend says to me:
"Hey, Drew.  This asshole next to us keeps staring at me."
Actually, that isn't what happened because when I came to a stop, out the corner of my eye, I saw him staring at the person next to us straight away.  The guy in the other car was just returning the favor.
This is an example of being creepy and after a few years of realizing just how much of a sociopath this guy was, I broke ties with him and didn't feel bad about it at all.

What I have noticed on the flip side of this whole "speculatively creepy" thing is that the word gets applied to situations where it isn't even relevant.  
In the hetero world, if a guy is interested in a girl who isn't attracted to him, she tells her friends he is creepy.  You can reverse that to swap genders or even reference two of the same gender.  In my experience, I have had a female friend (9:1, my friends are women) who called a guy creepy because he sent her one, single text message asking how her day was going after she had given him her number the day before.  I did call her out on it and asked her what was so crude about such a simple question and she said:
"I just don't think I'm attracted to him."
But you see, what she had done was created a reputation about this guy which was unmerited because she knew absolutely nothing about him. If she had received the same message from Channing Tatum, would he have been considered creepy?
This label needs to stop.
Unless someone has done something that makes you feel extremely uncomfortable and was unnecessary to talk about, getting to know them before making assumptions about their character benefits both you and them.

Making Up Excuses Instead of Telling The Truth
I thought this was something exclusive to the church culture for most of my younger days, but it is actually common across the spectrum.  
If someone asks you to do something with them or asks for a favor, you have every right to refuse the request.  Back in the day, I was probably the world's worst offender about making up stories to get out of things I didn't want to do.  Currently?  I don't see the point of fabricating such a lie and that is exactly how I have lived my life for the past five years or so.  My honesty does turn people off and has ended a few (apparently weak) friendships.
"I have an extra ticket to see Zac Brown.  Want to go?"
"No, thanks."
"Oh, are you busy?"
"Nope, I just don't want to..."
See?  And don't give me the line about it being based on situation and that you can't afford to "hurt" someone by telling them the truth, because you're hurting yourself and them by making up a trail of crap you'll be destined to shovel up later. 
Trust me on this, because I would rather you refuse my request out of preference than have you make up an excuse about seeing your parents when what you're really doing is spending all day walking around your house naked.  Be naked, but at least be honest.

Not Allowing Your Weirdness To Be Personal
Everyone has a weird side and some people are afraid to let that come out.  The thing most don't realize is that sometimes you need to let your bottled up weirdness come out, in public or private.  
Being one with yourself is really important to not just growth itself, but being able to continue growing.  We are taught that having a constant social agenda is important because surrounding yourself with like-minded people is the only way you figure out who you are.
Sometimes you need to be alone and just exist.  This gives you a chance to figure out if you're just following your friends around or actually becoming the person you should be.  
"They want to go to a bar and I'm just not feeling it today, but I have to because that's what we do."
Um, no you don't.
Having a social life of some sort is important until you feel trapped by it.  At that point, taking a little time to step away and invest in yourself becomes much more necessary.  You can always go back to the other stuff later.

Thinking That One Person Has The Ability To Completely Change Your Life
I have seen countless movies and TV shows where you watch a character go from rock bottom and make a massive life change just because they met someone who drastically altered their thinking.
Take it from someone who has an alcohol addiction:
You change for nobody but yourself. Period.
I know this because I tried to stop drinking about half a dozen times over the span of about three years and relapsed every single time.  Why?  Because I was trying to stop so I didn't disappoint my family, my friends, or kill my career.  When I finally quit for good, I did it all on my own accord after realizing the severity of my situation and not wanting to die as a product of my self-fueled disease.  This wasn't some big awakening because my problem never caused me any legal trouble since (surprise!) not all alcoholics have been arrested or done morally compromising things, and I also never went to rehab.  Honestly, I woke up one day and told myself I had to get it together or die young and miserable and that's exactly what I did two years ago.
For me.
Not for you or anyone else.

Avoiding Life's Potential Opportunities Because They Make You Uncomfortable
Most of my life was spent wanting people to tell me what to do on a daily basis.  I liked the fact of not having to think creatively or outside of my comfort zone.  The problem with falling in line with those above you is that you stay in your comfort zone and have unused potential.
"He has so much potential."
But if he doesn't have the balls to use his potential, he is just like everyone else in the world. Nobody was ever successful in any respect of the word for having potential.
Taking action is where you find fulfillment.

Taking The Positive Criticism Of Your Family And Friends As The Most Important
Don't get me wrong, my family and friends are hugely important to me and have been for the entirety of my life.  The problem is, you usually can't bank your criticisms on what they have to say about you because they're biased in your favor.
This holds true in music or any other sort of public performance. It is especially apparent to me because I have seen people take the stage sounding so nasal and out of key that I wanted to stab my eardrums out with a toothpick to make it stop.  Then, of course they walk off the stage and their friends tell them how awesome they were while the rest of those in the room had been scoping out the nearest exit in case the performer decided to play another song.  
The point is, if you do anything passionately that is in view of the public (music, cooking, poetry, figure skating, pole dancing, whatever), gauge the interest of your exposure by those you don't know as opposed to those who are a part of your circle.  That is where your most constructive criticism will stem from.

Wanting Your Career To Be "Famous Person"
You're probably not famous.
You probably won't be famous.
If you do get famous, good for you.
Do what you love because you love it and if you can make a living while achieving notoriety for it, good for you, but hone your skills and make moves without having fame be the ultimate goal.

Being "Creative" By Emulating Other People
In the age of Pinterest, people have stopped thinking for themselves in many ways.  There are loads of good ideas on Pinterest, but people would rather copy what these ideas are verbatim instead of creating their own stuff by digging into their brain.  Sure, some people aren't creative at all and this is just fine for them, but others who do have a creative side find it easier to duplicate what they see because - lazy.
I'm not actually on Pinterest, but someone sent me a link one day that said something like:
"ZOMG! I just saw one of your tables on Pinterest! Look!"
(In my mind, everyone on the internet types like a twelve year old for some reason.)
Someone had taken an Instagram screenshot of one of the industrial tables I had built and put it on there.
Then she asked me if I cared and I said:
"No, I'm actually proud of that, because it shows that people want to copy something I created."
That's when I decided that people should try to be the person who is referenced as a creator on Pinterest rather than be the person who replicates their work.
But, if we're talking about Sesame Street cupcakes for your kid's birthday party, by all means, Pinterest until you can't Pinterest anymore...

Labeling Yourself As A "Trendsetter", "Jetsetter", or "Entrepreneur"
You look like a massive douche.
Even if you're just joking.

Assuming Once You're Out Of School, Your Education Is Over
I had the idea for years that once I was done with school, learning anything new was irrelevant, but that changed.  I'm all for higher education if you know why you're there and didn't just go to college because someone expected you to, but life isn't that easy.  There was a span of about three years when I was comfortable in my job that I didn't learn much of anything - at all.  It wasn't until I lost my job that I realized how important it is to learn everything you can about everything that interests you.  Over the past three years I have been on a constant mission to learn something new and feed my mind at every opportunity.  
I have a really weird "Amadeus" memory which allows me to remember long-term with a ridiculous amount of detail and that was something I didn't really develop until I started investing in self-education.  Reading was an activity I never enjoyed until I started reading about subjects that I liked.  Then I realized that short of being a surgeon and maybe a few other things, there isn't much you can't learn by reading and experiencing the subject matter on your own.  

Formal education is fantastic, but don't allow your degree to have an effect on your continued, personal education.

Doing Things Because You're "Supposed To"
You're not supposed to do anything.  Just because your dad is a doctor doesn't mean you need to be one unless you want to.  Your family being poor doesn't mean you are destined for poverty either.
As Millennials, twenty-somethings, or whatever term you use is concerned, we are supposed to sleep around, go to bars, go to parties we don't care about, and put up with people we don't like.
I have no idea why this is, and even when I was drinking I never followed those social expectations.
We're often trained to live life by who and what we surround ourselves with instead of being who we are. 
Do you have any idea how many people I know who married someone because they thought it was what they were "supposed" to do?
Then had kids because they were "supposed" to?
Then ended up divorced because they had no business doing either of those things?
It's actually pretty frightening to me and I'm not judging anyone, but it's a fact of life in this generation that confuses me to no end.

To close out this entire list, just sit back for a while with yourself.  
No television, no calls or texts, no internet, and just think about who you are and whether or not the things you do on a daily basis hold any benefit to your future and the youth you only get one chance to live.
Think about whether or not you're taking risks which could change the course of your life for the better.
Think about your purpose, your passions, and your necessary struggle.
Be You.

Grace and Peace,



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