Find Your Tribe: For Paul Walker

friendship

The twenties are all about finding yourself. You try some things. You make some choices. You take some chances. You fall. You bruise. You get back up and try again. What a roller coaster ride!

At 24, I am constantly becoming more aware of who I am, my likes, my dislikes, my passions, the things I value most, the things that can use some changing, the things that I hold valuable and other things that I can lighten my grip on. The twenties are one big decade of learning, and a big part of that journey to self discovery is finding the people who will make the journey with you.

I recently saw Furious 7, the seventh installment to the Fast and Furious franchise. I had read reviews that said there hasn’t been one dry in eye in theater after the movie’s ending, and I was no exception to that. Typically, when characters exit in a film, you can walk away knowing it was just acting, but this film leaves you with a gripping sense of finality. As most of the world knows, one of the lead characters, Paul Walker, died in a car crash November 30, 2013. The movie had not yet finished filming before Walker’s tragic death, which makes its message of brotherhood, friendship and solidarity ring all the more true.

The film franchise has been criticized at times for its sometimes predictable story lines and not so stellar acting. Even if fast cars, action and muscle aren’t you’re idea of a good time, there is a message we can all take from, not only the Fast and Furious films’ message, but the people behind it: the value of true friendship.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Life has little to do with the destination. The destination is but a mere, hazy mirage in the distance. Life is not all about the journey because even that can seem unbearable at times. Life is mostly about people, the ones who run along side you and make the journey ahead not as hard.”

Vin Diesel has been quoted recently as saying that the friendships seen in the movie are not just acting, but they are the real thing. Paul Walker was not just his co-star the last 15 years, but his best friend, a brother, not by blood but by choice. And that my dear readers is what life is all about, finding your tribe, finding the people who will take you good and bad, love you at your best and love you through your worst.

“This movie is more than a movie. You’ll feel it when you see it. Something emotional happens to you. When you walk out of this movie, you’ll appreciate everyone you love. You just never know when the last day is that you are going to see them,” says Diesel in a USA Today news story.

People. Life is all about people, they are what fill the pages of your life with beautiful colors, laughter, joy, tears. Though difficult and trying at times, people are what make life worth living. I have learned and am still learning that we are built for community. Friendship is a gift, a rarity. True friendship is a bond that can’t be contrived or forced.

If you haven’t found that true friendship yet, don’t worry. The best way to find it is just by being your most authentic self. So don’t bend and break in an effort to find it, but when you find authentic ones, ones where you are safe to be 100 percent yourself, yet dangerous enough that you are challenged to grow, hold onto them with all you’ve got. Because friends, authentic friends, are the family we choose. They’re what life is all about (and they make any journey, especially the twenties, worth the ride.)

Be sure to watch the video for the movie’s single, See You Again. It’ll be sure to get stuck in your heard.

-Stephkt

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A Time for Everything

One of my best friends moved to California this week. She will be going to grad school at California State University, Long Beach. I couldn’t be happier for her! She is such a go-getter and a hard working person. She is AMAZING, to say the least, and has inspired me since our college days of leading a nonprofit together and working on a magazine. She is going after her dreams. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

But (there always is a but)…….there is a bittersweet part of watching my friend move off to California: The fact that I am not with her. You see, I too, have had the dream of moving to California for a long time. Not for the glitz and the glam or the “Hollywood” scene, but because the profession I aspire to work in, film and magazines, is a thriving industry there. I have been told that if you want to get in the game, then you must go where the game is played. For me, the game is being played in California. My desire to be there only grows stronger and stronger with time. Something in my gut tells me that is where I am supposed to be.

IMG_8155My friend Erica’s first photo after arriving in Cali

Like attracts like. Just like my friend is a go-getter, so am I. I don’t believe in sitting on my butt and waiting for my dreams to come my way. I believe in working my tail off and earning them. So why didn’t I move to California then? Well, I had every intention to pack up my bags and move with my friend come fall of this year, but every time I would try to take a step forward, there was something stopping me. Something was missing.

You may think, “Maybe you were just afraid?” Fear? Yeah, I have definitely felt fear before, but I have learned to feel fear and go after my dreams anyway. I may feel fear but I do not allow it to stop me. I felt fear when I moved to New York City the summer before my senior  year of college. I felt fear when I moved to Minneapolis the year after I graduated. So fear was not my problem. Yet, there was something missing that I needed to have before I could make the move to California. Peace. I did not have peace. I could not put my finger on it, but I just knew that it wasn’t the right time.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Be patient: Take a lesson from chess. Sometimes when you are young everything seems so immediate and emergent. It’s usually not. It’s one thing to see a move you want to take. It’s another to be able to wait until the right time to take it.”

Sarah Hall, CEO of Harley & Co.

I know what I want to do. Write. I love to tell stories, other people’s stories, my story. I want to use media, specifically magazines and film, to bring hope to people. I am a storyteller. Writing is my gift. I want to use it to help someone else. The place I know I want to be in to pursue that dream is California, but what I realized is that California isn’t the only place where I can pursue my dreams. While I am waiting for my time to come to move west, I can pursue my dream wherever I am at in the meantime. I can work hard and make the most out of the opportunities in this season of my life and work diligently and persistently to get to that next season.

The truth is, you can have a dream on your heart, but sometimes, the timing isn’t always right. That doesn’t mean give up on the dream. It simply means to keep working and honing your skills until your time comes. So when your window of opportunity does finally come, you will be ready to take it.

I still plan to move to California. But until then, I will be content. I will work hard and keep writing and honing my craft. I will keep taking magazine opportunities as they come and see them as practice under my belt. I will be rooting on my friends with the loudest voice, as they pursue their dreams. When my time to move to California comes, I will be ready and guaranteed I will be better for having waited. There is wisdom in not only knowing the right move to take but in knowing the right time to take it.

As a twenty something, I hope you are encouraged today to relentlessly pursue your passions. Work hard. When you get knocked down, take from it the lessons you can and keep going. Do not feel pressured to rush into a career or to take a position just because it seems like the adult thing to do. Be honest with yourself and figure out what is best for you. Have the courage to get up and go after your dreams, stepping out into unchartered territory. But also have the courage to wait. Be brave enough to stay when something doesn’t feel right. Have the courage to be still until you know what’s best for you. Have the courage to wait until it’s your time. And when your time finally does come, take it.

“Genuinely brave people not only have the courage to take action, they also have the courage to wait when they need to.” Joyce Meyer

Here’s a song to keep you encouraged while you wait: Daley- Those Who Wait

IMG_20131124_135517Erica and I reunited after a long time apart!

MeandEricaSome of my favorite memories with Erica

-Stephkt

Dating and The Job Search- One in the Same?

The things we experience in our twenties are for the books. The twenties are one big heroic, comedic, action-filled loved story all rolled into one, the makings of any great Blockbuster, or at least a sub-par reality t.v. show.

One thing I’ve been realizing in my twenties tale lately is the parallelism between dating and the job search. As someone who is still figuring out both, let me tell you it ain’t easy.

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There are many people on the road to success in career and love, but not everyone succeeds. So what separates the victors from those who fail? Here are a few tidbits of wisdom that I have stumbled upon in my pitfalls and successes:

1- You need to know YOU first

This is the most basic piece of advice I would give my younger self. There will be a lot of offers out there and many of them will look appealing. As far as dating, there will be the football player in high school. The serial dater pre-college. The first love in college. And countless others. Not every guy who comes your way is worth your time or attention. Not every guys who steps up to bat is going to hit a home run.

It is so important to figure out who you are first. What are your standards? What kind of person do you enjoy spending time with? What are your deal breakers? The commonality in all the above questions is ‘you’. You have to know who you are and what you want before you go looking for someone else. Otherwise, you will always look to another person to complete you. On the job front, there will be many job/internships out there. Don’t just go grabbing at what you see. Before you know it, you will catch yourself settling. First, you need to know your own interests, talents and career goals. Money will never make you happy in the long run.

So do the work. Figure out who you are. How you say? Dabble. Dabble early and dabble often. Experience brings knowledge. It was only through writing and reading a lot as a young girl that I figured out that writing was the career path for me. This, of course, did not happen without me first dabbling in a number of other activities. Growing up, I played soccer, ran track, did ballet, played cello and sang in my church choir. A wide array of experience gave me the knowledge of where my talents lay, who I was and who I wanted to be.  Same goes with dating. While I don’t think you have to date a number of people to figure out who you are, I do think it’s great to mingle. I have a number of male friends who I admire and respect so much. If not guy friends, try family. My dad, godfathers and brother have really helped me build a picture of the kind man I will be with.

Don’t settle for that job offer or the guy just because it or he is there. Be patient. Take your time. Dabble. Travel. Take chances. Learn. Figure out who you are and the rest will fall into place. Trust me that job with the big, fat paycheck won’t look so appealing 6 months later when you are hating your life. Neither will that guy once he gets a beer belly.

2- Patience is key

The waiting game….we all know it well. It is not my favorite place to be. It happens when you apply for a job and do not hear anything back for months. It happens when the guy you like seems to be stringing you along. Both places are no fun. Not fun at all. What I’ve learned is the beauty of time. Without getting too cliche here,  time tells all. If that job or that guy is meant for you, it will be yours. Word to the wise, don’t be desperate for any job or person. Desperation is a bad scent that can be detected from afar. The more desperate you are the more unattractive you become. Just give it time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your success be.

3- Rejection is redirection

Another way I have heard this is, “Rejection is God’s protection.” So you didn’t get the job. After months of waiting, creeping profiles on LinkedIn, and endless emails, you got the news. They decided to hire someone else. Or, the guy, the one you were dead set on, he turned around and broke your heart. He led you on and then finally the truth came out. He is dating someone else. Or maybe things between you two just didn’t work out and the ending of the relationship was mutual.  The lose of that job or relationship has left you feeling rejected. Well, good news. There is something or someone else out there more fitting for you. So don’t get too down. Your time will come. (Don’t forget Step 2). Sometimes the loss of something can seem like the end of the world, but it isn’t. Get back up. Keep your head in the game. Sometimes we loose now only to win big in the end. Whether you face rejection in the job search or the love game, just know that perhaps this was a platform to prepare you for and propel you on to something else, something better.

See I told you. Dating and the job hunt have so much in common. Just keep your head up and don’t get discouraged when things get hard. Tomorrow is always a new day.

– Stephkt

A Cinderella Story

As I loaded heavy trash bags onto the dolley and rolled them and several (hundred it seemed) boxes to the not so rosey smelling garbage drop, I could only think in my head, “This can’t be the end of my story. This has got to be the part where I am sweeping floors and serving people like Cinderella, but there’s got to be more.”

Feet aching, back sore, feeling defeated, I finished performing the closing duties at my part-time (on the verge of full-time with all the hours I was working) second job at the Mall of America. Working two jobs and having barely enough energy to do anything but sleep wasn’t my ideal post-college life. I had done everything I was supposed to in school. Dreamed big. Worked really hard. So what was the deal? Why did I find myself waking up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for work and getting home at 11 p.m.? Why was I sick almost every day of the week? Why was I too cranky and tired to want to hang out with my roommate and her friends? Why did my heart break every time I wrote a check for the rent or bought groceries? This couldn’t be my story. There had to be more. Right?

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Here’s the thing that I have learned. Life takes work, often really hard, grueling, painful work. So often we want the green pastures and rolling hills without actually doing the work. We, you and I, have to put in the work to get where we are going and after we have done everything there is to do, we wait. Life requires a lot of time and patience I am learning.

At 22, I often find myself imagining what my life will be like at 30. House, husband, kids, amazing career. I envy 30-year-olds sometimes. They seem so poised and confident. They seem to have it all together. And then I stop and I wonder if maybe 30-year-olds look at us 20-somethings the same way. Maybe they look at us with envy, thinking “I wish I was her age again, carefree, passionate, the world at her fingertips.” Then I stop and the whole “the grass isn’t always greener” metaphor suddenly makes sense. Maybe what I, and anybody who is going through a season of change, growing pains and hurdles, need to do is stop and smell the roses as we wait.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Good things come to those who wait.”

What I am finding is that so many people, including myself, want the fairytale ending but forget the part where Cinderella, and all of her princess counterparts, had seemingly insurmountable odds to overcome. There is no such thing as an overnight success or instant fairytale ending. But do you know what is a fairytale? Your story. My story. The hard days and the good days, they are all a part of the magical fairytale you are telling. They are a part of the master plan God has for you and I. They are a part of the blueprint to shape you and make you into a better person.

Sometimes I sit and imagine what my life will be like. What kind of man will I marry? How many children will we have? What magazine will I work at? What kind of movies will I write? Will I get the chance to move back to New York? Will I ever have the coveted zip code 90210? Will my husband and I settle down eventually in the south? Will I get to check off everything on my bucket list? Will I see all 50 states and travel overseas? Will I be able to take care of my parents? Will I make an impact on young women? Will I make a difference?……….I hope reading that didn’t give you as much of a headache as it does when I think like that.

What I am learning is the importance of trust. For me, my faith is in God and trusting that He has a plan for my life. I have hope. In the hard times, I believe that I am being shaped and molded into a better person. During seasons of loneliness, I trust that I am learning to stand on my own two feet with independence and confidence. In times of confrontation and strife, I believe I am learning how to better communicate, listen and speak up for myself. In times of change, I believe I am being thrust into the world to grow. In times of quiet and stillness, I know I am learning  to trust and wait.

So stop trying to rush through life. Stop trying to get the fairytale ending without first doing the work and the waiting. Nothing will happen before it’s time. After you have busted your tail to earn your dreams, breathe. Your time will come.

Here is a perfect song with that message: Daley- Those Who Wait. Enjoy!

-Stephkt