Begin Again

Begin-again

“Blood shot eyes, bruised knees, sweaty forehead, she wipes her brow and presses on. Past the obstacles. Past the hurts. Past the failed relationships and friendships. Past her own mistakes. She dusts herself off and decides to keep going.”

My life has looked a lot like this lately. A lot of having to choose whether or not I will press onward or allow the circumstances around me, in this current (temporary) season to define me and my future. Life has required a lot of, as so eloquently put in Taylor Swift’s hit song, shaking it off. (Sorry, TSwift will be referenced again in this post but there’s a purpose, so keep reading.)

Life is like that sometimes– rough. Just plain, old hard. There’s no pretty or eloquent way to word it. Life can be hard sometimes and I think in your twenties you are rudely awakened to this harsh reality, on a weekly if not daily basis. To be honest, a lot of things, including blogging have been difficult lately. Because when life is rough, it is almost innate for me to want to run away or crawl in a ball in the corner where no one can see me. Continuing to write through what has been one of the hardest years of my personal and professional life, has felt nearly impossible.

But here’s what I have been realizing, it’s the hard stuff that makes us strong, wise, better. Like gold being refined in fire or a diamond being cut, drilled and polished, sometimes to get where you are going and to see the end result, you’ve got to go through hard things. I think the trick is whether or not you allow the things you go through to define you. Whether it’s financial woes, work stress, a heartbreak, a loss of a loved one, an illness, whatever unexpected turn life has taken for you, it is your decision whether or not that thing defines who you are and who you will become.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

Baby steps they may be, but baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

Here’s my advice and one word to keep in mind through hard seasons: RESET. According to Webster, reset means to set again or to adjust or change the reading. I want to challenge all my fellow twenty somethings reading this, that when life is crappy, reset. Hit reset in your mind. Begin again.

So you lost your job or that friendship fell out or that guy broke your heart….allow yourself to feel how you feel. Be angry. Be sad. Be disappointed. Be real about it, but don’t stay there. Take some time to yourself, gather your thoughts, reevaluate and take from it what you can. Learn. Then, begin again. Dust yourself off and begin putting one foot in front of the other. Baby steps they may be, but baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

One last thing before you go, here’s an awesome video of encouragement along the lines of beginning again by none other than Taylor Swift. Enjoy!

-Stephkt

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Lessons Learned from Cinderella

cinderella

“Be kind, and have courage.”

Last month, Cinderella captivated the hearts and minds of moviegoers across the country. A bestseller in the box office, Cinderella proved that the goodness and purity of heart seen in age old fairytales never go out of style. I walked out of the theater feeling more hopeful than I had in a long time. I felt motivated to face the giants in my own life, to keep trying when circumstances around me seem bleak, and to hold onto my smile even when life doesn’t play fair.

Ella, the main character, is born into a seemingly picture perfect life. The safe haven of her home is held up by the pillars of love, consistency and safety that her mom and dad provide, but Ella’s world is shaken when an unexpected illness suddenly takes the life of her mother. On her death bed, her mother gives her a last bit of wisdom, words that will stick with Ella the rest of her life and drive the plot of the movie: “A great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer…..Be kind, and have courage.”

So simple and concise, yet powerful: Be kind, and have courage. Ella did not know it at the time, but these words would carry her through some of the most trying times of her life, her father’s marriage to a gold digging woman, the death of her father, and the mental and emotional abuse of her stepmother and stepsisters.  In the end, Cinderella is able to rise above the circumstances surrounding her because of the faith she chooses to hold onto.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Be kind, and have courage.”

I know it sounds silly and super simplistic, but today’s advice for us twentysomethings is based on a fairytale. Fairytales, after all, do have important lessons we can all use some reminding of. The decade known as the twenties is full of ups and downs, ebbs and flows. We make a lot of mistakes and go through a lot of challenges during this period of our lives, but I believe if we can learn to get back up as much as we are knocked down, we would master the art of life. Because that is what life is all about: getting back up!

What does it take to get back up after a rough season of your life? Courage. What does it take to not grow angry, bitter or hardened? Kindness. What does it take to hold onto the childlike awe and wonder of the kid in you that used to believe in the magic of fairytales? Courage. What does it take to forgive when people treat you in an unfair manner or when the hand dealt to you isn’t fair? Kindness.

So have  courage and be kind. It will see you through a lot of the troubles that your twenties and life, in general, will bring your way. Be encouraged!

-Stephkt

A Silver Lining Mindset

silverliningI really do enjoy writing this blog. If you’re new here, Life as Told by an Upcoming Twenty Something is all about the mishaps, blunders, pitfalls, mistakes and lessons learned while in your twenties. I am learning, writing and sharing with you all as I go. So usually when I write something, it’s because it is either something I have walked through or am walking through. If you ever feel like I am preaching to you, please don’t. Because I am telling myself these lessons as much as I am telling you guys.

So I am 24 years old as I write this, and I find myself in a bit of slump lately. Talking to my older brother the other night, I found ironically that when he was 24, he too found himself in a bit of a “quarter life crisis”. Not to be dramatic, but 24 has been rough. These last six months have been hard. I have encountered a lot of uncertainty in my career, my friendships, with dating, you name it!

In the midst of all the uncertainty and the chaos, I was reminded the other day the value of perspective. Feeling despondent and down on myself, I quickly remembered the value of what I choose to focus on.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life.” Sarah Young

If all you choose to focus on are the clouds, you might miss out on the rainbow that peers through the darkness at the end of the storm. You might only see an inconvenient crack in the sidewalk that causes you to slip but completely overlook the flower sprouting in the imperfect, tattered cement.

One saying that I live by is, “There is always hope.” Lately, I have gotten off track and forgotten that there is always something good to hope for. There are always second chances, new beginnings, births after deaths, wins after losses.

So maybe you’re like me and you’re at a point where life doesn’t quite look like what you had planned. Or maybe you have had some success but lately only seen setbacks and losses. Well, I am here to give you a kick in the rear and encourage you to see that there is still good to be found from your frame of reference. There is beauty in the masterpiece called your life. Sometimes you just have to dust your eyes off to see that it’s there.

-Stephkt

Why I Run…

I have realized that my closest friends and I all have three things in common.

One, we love Starbucks. Who doesn’t get a kick out of ordering something that starts or ends with frappa, mocha, machiatto or latte? It wasn’t uncommon for my college roommate and I to take multiple trips in the same day to our coffee haven.

Two, we like The Hills. MTV throwback, anyone? The perfect combination of fashion, friends and chasing after dreams in a big city. Well, maybe my friends don’t like the show as much as I do. They probably just entertain it because they know how much I like it. What can I say? I do have seasons two and three on DVD. They were Christmas presents! I would be a bad gift receiver if I didn’t watch them regularly.

Three, we love running. When I think of my closest girlfriends, I think of running. On average three to five days a week, you can find us strapping on our running shoes before dawn to beat the summer heat. We even run outside in the winter and in the rain or snow.

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There is something addicting about running. Maybe it is the rush you get as your feet pound the pavement and you feel your heart beat inside your chest. Maybe it is the competitiveness of wanting to run farther and faster than you did the last time. Maybe it is how great you feel after you accomplish a running goal or how great your body looks after a few days of the intense cardio.

Running for me has always been personal. I run, plain and simple, because life isn’t easy. Every time I run, I imagine whatever obstacles and road blocks life has placed in my way  and I run over them. When I feel pain in my abs or shins, I keep running. I never look to the right or to the left at other runners. (When I have in the past, it always slows me down.) I have learned to keep my eyes straight ahead and focus on my goal.

Twenty Something Advice for Anybody:

“Be persistent. Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.” 

-Ruzwana Bashir, Founder of Peek.com

On a recent run, I realized what a perfect metaphor running is for life. You can choose to strap on your shoes each day at 6 a.m. or sleep in. In life, you can choose to show up every day or not. With running and in life, you most certainly will experience pain. When it hurts, you can choose to stop. You can quit and walk away or you can choose to keep running. You can push past the pain and endure. You can choose to persevere.

One common thread for all human beings is suffering. We all face loss, pain and uncertainty in this life. As a twenty something, I have known a lot of uncertainty lately in the job and relationship departments. Your pain may not look like mine and vice versa, but pain is pain. The one thing I have learned and developed through running is an attitude of persistence. The ability to keep going when things get hard is so essential in this life. Whether on the job, in school, with family and friends or within yourself, you are guaranteed to face difficulty. The question is: “What will you do when things get hard?”

I encourage you that when things get hard, to lace on your running shoes anyway. Show up. Push through the pain. Run on top of the obstacles. Keep going. Don’t look to the left or to the right at what others are doing. Stay focused on your goal and you will reach it. When you get knocked down or face something painful, remember that you have a choice. You always have a choice. Choose to persevere.

Here is a perfect song to help you keep running:

-Stephkt