Living for Change

I have a relative via marriage whom made a very powerful statement when dealing with a personal problem of hers, “You have to live change to want change,” she said. It stuck with me for the moment, and I filed it away like we all do with everything else for another day.  What if, we could strive to be better than our previous self, almost every day?

Going against the normal isn’t easy. It takes conscience thought and effort.  One moment for change for me was in college.  The scenario was familiar, I wanted to take a girl out and she didn’t have time for me.  I liked her as a person, and I knew she had overcome adversity in her life, so I thought she would be a good person to know.

We drifted in and out of each other’s life until I came across her profile on Facebook. We talked for what seemed like a long while, and I asked her to do something one more time. We h ad set a tentative time to get together, yet that day has yet to come. I found out one day she was in a relationship…with another woman.

Obviously, I was devastated. To be fair, I didn’t think of her as a girlfriend, far from it.  I just wanted someone to hang out with.  Didn’t I at least deserve a phone call to say, “Jim, this is why I haven’t wanted to hang out?” Hell, yes I did!  Now, I could have called her every dirty name in the book. I could have said I didn’t need to talk to her anymore, but I didn’t.  We talked, and redefined our relationship.  I knew the suicide rate within the LGBTQ community is high, I had a family friend who committed suicide, I did not think she would harm herself, but I did not want her to suffer the same fate as my friend.  I had a choice and I made it.

I admit I wasn’t fully comfortable with gay people until I was asked to read a book for a class in college.  I realized if the arguments made in the book were the best arguments against marriage equality, then the arguments were weak at best. Gays and lesbians were just trying to be their authentic selves. They just wanted to live with freedom and independence like me.  I can’t blame them, I love women too.  It turns out I have a lot gay friends than I thought.  Furthermore, I kw the same girl who couldn’t find time for me than is one of the few people who would return my texts if I needed her help.

To those of you who are still in high school, perhaps this is a lesson already learned. I hope; however, you won’t have to wait until college to interact with people outside your regular social circle.  It is okay to be nervous about the unfamiliar. It is the duty of the current generation to move society forward, building bridges instead of walls, and make the world a better place.

James currently lives in Fort Myers, FL. He has a degree in Psychology, so most things about human behavior and social justice fascinates him. Perfection may not be possible, but greatness is attainable.

10 Ways to Rock College and Not Strangle Your Roommate

  1. AT the beginning of the semester or quarter make a daily schedule. List all exam dates, project due dates, and divide your reading assignments into sections so that you don’t have to cram a project into a week and studying for exams into two days. Add in time to sleep, exercise, relax, have fun, and oh yes, eat something.
  2. LESS is more when living dorm life. The more stuff you have the more will need to be cleaned and moved out at the end of spring semester. NuWave ovens, George Forman grills with removable grill plates, disposable storage containers, unbreakable plates and glasses are a great place to start.
  3. READ or familiarize yourself with the readings before class. I know this eams foolish given the professor will most likely go over the material again, but you will be able to participate in discussions and get things explained if you need further understanding.
  4. DO buy cleaning supplies. Dorms are dirty places, and not all residents will clean as well as you do, so be prepared.
  5. USE voice recognition software, unless you can type 300 words a minute, you speak faster than you type. This really can be a time saver when writing papers, notes, and assignments. It works.
  6. DO bring a first aid kit. Stock it with Band-Aids, antiseptic, cough syrups, allergy meds, and other health related precautions.
  7. VISIT your professors during office hours. They can help you clarify your career and academic goals. More importantly, if they know you personally, they would be more likely to help you out if you need special considerations after your hard drive crashes or your (boy) girlfriend dumps you for a person of lessor quality.
  8. TRY to get to know and do things with your roommates. I was an older student when I moved into student housing so it was rough, but the times I had things in common it was easier to live with other people.
  9. ADVERSITY and obstacles will occur. You will eventually get tired, run out of money, you will get stressed out, depressed, or anxious. That is completely OK. Know that people are available to help you. There are usually services to help you learn how to read, study, and learn more effectively. There are often student health and psychological services available, so if you need then use them.  All services are paid through your tuition, and are of little or no cost to you. Most of all, never give up until you succeed.
  10. DO the dishes and clean your room. There is nothing worse than being hungry for something and finding all your dishes dirty in the sink. This may make the ants and other vermin happy, but your roommates will get cranky.

The rest is quite simple.  If you can withstand the grind you can be successful. Don’t be concerned with what others are doing, run your race, and you’ll do well.  To be successful in college you have to go to college.  So, put in the time, and do the work. Most of all, don’t stop until you get what you want out of life.

James currently lives in Fort Myers, FL. He has a degree in Psychology, so most things about human behavior and social justice fascinates him. Perfection may not be possible, but greatness is attainable.

On Being Great

I sometimes do not understand the world we live in today.  We are so connected yet so unfamiliar with each other.  We can do almost anything at the press of a button, yet we do not have time to do anything.  We spend hours posting on social media waiting for the rush of acceptance we feel when our fiends approve of what we posted.

There are many uncertainties in our world, society, and communities.  Many of those problems seem too big to be solved by a single person.  However, we must refocus our efforts on the things we can control.  We can go outside our protective bubble to get to help others. We can take better care of ourselves.  We can be better employees in the workforce.

I know our quests for a perfect six-pack or a respectful position at work have us distracted from our long-term greatness. Fear not, greatness isn’t easy, you have to want it bad.  The other side of success is sacrifice.  Those of us who are willing to endure the darkness before dawn are in store for a beautiful sunrise.  So, go forth and pursue greatness.  You will not be disappointed.

James currently lives in Fort Myers, FL. He has a degree in Psychology, so most things about human behavior and social justice fascinates him. Perfection may not be possible, but greatness is attainable.

Let Me Take Your Selfie

There is something I need to tell the readers of this blog…and those in the middle of the great unknown. I don’t want to seem uncool, not with it, not down, or however else younger adults describe themselves as being engaged. We are all guilty of staying up late relaxing with our tablet on Twitter or Instagram looking at the pictures of your girl or guy friends and giving your friends their props. Let me try to flip the script though and take your selfie for a second.

Let’s take a picture of this girl. A girl whose picture was chosen at random by the search words ‘average American selfie in ½ a second. She looks by almost all standards, beautiful; young; bright; perky; cheerful; and outgoing. I assure you brothers and sisters there is so much more to her picture than meets the eye.

It is a little known secret that I love women. I don’t mean in an erotic way, but in the way someone or something is to be admired. It makes me sad sometimes to hear people comment in real life and online that I am superficial or misogynistic. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I say women are beautiful it is not for superficial means but rites of admiration. For me this ‘all American girl’ could be the star of her school’s math team; with the athleticism of a gymnast; and the ear of a musician. She carries with her bits and pieces of generations crafted over time to be the joy of her smile and the light in her eyes. But I can’t say for certain because I don’t know her. I picked her at random. Rest assured girls who could be seen as ‘exotic’ for you are not a snake, handbag, food or beverage. Rather you may posses a rare and unique combination of physical characteristics and personality traits rarely seen by people unfamiliar with your cultures or hemispheres. All people can be beautiful. The most beautiful, magnetic people are the ones most unique. To me, my friend Dawn is beautiful because she has both the ability to learn new things, and the ability to apply what she knows to new situations with massive speed. She is funny and friendly too. The best part is: If you needed her to she would fight beside you to the death. How beautiful is that.

There is little difference for young men in the same regard as women. The stereotypes of what defines a man are changing too. There is considerable pressure for young men to appear athletic like DeWayne Johnson (or slightly smaller), think like an Ivy League graduate, have a sexy charisma that can only be described as ‘It.’ In reality, this young man could be an amazing nurse, writer, teacher, or musician. We may never know

So if I motivate you to try something knew—it might be to see beyond the surface. Aspire so be greater than your previous self. When you say to yourself I would rather not eat for a week than go without my phone—perhaps you can go further than a text, and say ‘Hello.’ If you find yourself needing a role model to create your next selfie of life look toward Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Laureate, or Niel deGrasse Tyson, a champion of the sciences and the Scientific Method.

Above all else: Be the best, first you.

James currently lives in Fort Myers, FL. He has a degree in Psychology, so most things about human behavior and social justice fascinates him. Perfection may not be possible, but greatness is attainable.

What is your legacy?

I don’t want this to be an average blog post. So, I have a question for you puzzle pieces, what will your legacy be? I ask this question because of the untimely passing of Chris Cornell, Robin Williams, and so many others who the public may know. I hope their legacies of their artistry will out shine their final days.

Hopefully, all of you reading this won’t have to consider suicide as a solution. I still remember my happy, unguarded self, and I still miss him. When I was a freshman in highschool I decided I wanted a girlfriend in my life. Up to that time the only real game I had was to say, “Would you like to hang out?” or I would compliment them, or buy them things I thought they may like. However, that game didn’t work then, and it would probably not work now, right? Over time, this began to wear me down. There were other problems too-I didn’t have a lot of friends to hang out with out of school, I would have been bullied by today’s standards, I didn’t have the best self-image or esteem. Worse yet, I weighed 118 pounds at a staggering 5’6” including the over-bite. I guess that amount of swag wasn’t what the ladies were into. Over time, this set of circumstances began to grind me down.

When we hear of a suicide in the news or on social media there is a moment of sadness and then the inevitable, “Well, they took the “easy” or “cowards” way out. This is only a half truth. It is easier to quit than succeed at dealing with this thing called life. However, it takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and circumstances to devalue yourself, as a human being, to say there is nothing left of importance for me to stay with the living. Worse yet, the people who commit suicide are rarely spoken of, and if they are it is with a legacy of suicide. If there is a lesson to be learned from someone who has gone before you-choose your own legacy. Take it from someone who understands there is a better choice than death-life itself. I don’t know where my life will end up, or if I will truly make the world a better place. One thing is certain: I am willing to die to pursue the things that will make me happiest. Nothing else is acceptable…nothing. In truth, I never had a death wish. I had a better life wish.

I hope that those of you reading this who are depressed or suicidal understand tomorrow is another day, if you choose to see it. Help is available if you ask for it. I have asked for help many times, with good and bad, results. But I endured until I found the help I needed.

So, I ask you again, what is your legacy? Will it be public service, the law, writing, music, philosopher? Your legacy has yet to be written. How it is written or the narrative of your journey is up to you. Instead of dismissing things as “other people’s” problems try to understand them. Instead of simply changing the channel or scrolling past a negative blog post, just read it. You may learn something that will take you in a new direction, or see another perspective. Over time, your legacy will be greater, not weaker. The choice is up to you.

James currently lives in Fort Myers, FL. He has a degree in Psychology, so most things about human behavior and social justice fascinates him. Perfection may not be possible, but greatness is attainable.