“A Pile of Contradictions”

How my beloved high school cross country coach was described and how I strive to allow myself to be: to be content with holding contradictory beliefs at the same time; to not have everything figured out; to be O.K. with having my mind made up about something one day and changing it the next…I don’t think it’s being “wishy washy” or “noncommittal”  if you are honest the whole time about your ambivalence. Being ambivalent doesn’t mean you can’t say things, make decisions, take leaps of faith amidst the uncertainty (you almost certainly will be forced to by the outside world who is not privy to your inner turmoil).

You can’t ever know all of the facts and so, to not take a chance on somebody, to not chase a dream, to not board a plane, to not vote, to not speak up, etc. because you are not 100% certain that it will work out or that you will be “right” would equal a pretty passive existence, in my opinion. Three things help me to come to peace (at least a little) with all of the unknowns before I make a decision: 1) Trust that my gut and intuition tell me more than I realize 2) Consider all of the things I’ve learned through hindsight in the past and remember that experience is often the best teacher. 3) There is no one way to live!

Talk to enough people and you’ll realize that there are perfectly sane, supremely interesting people living lives every which number of ways: married to their high school sweetheart, single and thriving, teaching, engineering, doing marketing, doing social work, believing in God, not believing in God, living close to their family, living far apart from their family, listening to country music, listening to rap music, voting one way, voting the other, etc.

I strive to expose myself to and keep my mind open to all the different ways there are to live, think about, and love this one life we each have. I want to learn from all the people I meet and possibly have my mind changed that “oh, this is actually, in fact, how I want to live, too.” But, I want to be careful not to become insecure in my beliefs or decisions JUST because they don’t line up with someone else’s or because they seem contradictory…those reasons have nothing to do with the strength or the validity of the decisions/beliefs themselves (and maybe more about the current environment I’m in). At the end of the day, only I know what all went into making a decision or holding a belief and so only I can know if it feels right or if maybe, I want to change in the future.

Examples of two contradictory lyrics from two very popular songs!

One kiss is all it takes, falling in love with me.

Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa, One Kiss

It started out with a kiss

How did it end up like this?

It was only a kiss, it was only a kiss

The Killers, Mr. Brightside

Be a walking contradiction.

This quote resonated with me as I often try to make sense of the very different parts of myself, attempting to cross out some that don’t “work” with the “cooler” or “better” other parts. Who is to say they don’t work? And who is to say the other parts are “cooler” or “better”?

Beautiful, Beautiful Windows into People

Humans of New York: The Series. The one below is on Parenting. There are so many other themes covered, all breathtaking and unique in their own ways. If you ever lose your faith in the humanity of humanity, look no further.

Post-Hamilton Thoughts

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton played by Leslie Odom Jr. and Lin Manuel Miranda (respectively) in the original Broadway Hamilton cast

I was lucky enough to get to see Hamilton, the brilliant musical, with my long-time friend and her family in San Francisco. What struck me was how a lot of fights/duels had to do as much with divergent views for the nation as the divergent personalities of the Founding Fathers. From the get-go, Aaron Burr hated how Alexander Hamilton talked so much. And from Burr’s advice, you could tell he was a fraud, a sell-out.

I don’t want to be like Aaron Burr— “a guy you can get a beer with,” but who doesn’t have any strong beliefs on any topic and can be wishy-washy to conform to or please whoever he’s around.

But I also don’t want to be (nor could really be because I’m not that sharp-witted and unfiltered enough) like my friend and her brother, who are more like Hamilton. They let their very blunt, often downright harsh opinions loose all the time, albeit in an extremely smart, funny way. They make me laugh even though I know I probably shouldn’t be laughing. When I express this, they stretch me to question where I’m getting the idea that I “shouldn’t” be laughing at/saying something. They make me want to let my guard down more because it can be way more fun and carefree to just say whatever you’re thinking (even if what comes out of your mouth will never be as witty or sharp as what comes out of theirs no matter how much Mrs. Maisel or Robin Williams comedy specials or rap battles you watch).

I do think that some of their character judgements or opinions about things we’ve just seen can be quickly formed, short-sighted and/or pessimistic, not seeing a situation/person in all its complexity. But you can’t say that they don’t take a side. You know exactly where they stand. And they do always have a lot of readings/research, which are summoned by their top-knotch memories (JEALOUS), to back up their HOT takes.

I want to qualify and filter less and be more vocal and outspoken about things I care about, which means researching/reading/discussing more. At the same time, I don’t want to sacrifice my abilities to listen and appreciate that the world is rarely black and white and that’s what makes it beautiful.

Larger Than Life

“Larger Than Life,” Backstreet Boys

I’ve heard people described as this as well as met some people who I think would fall into this category. They are supremely charismatic, outrageously funny, refreshingly unfiltered, and often are captivating storytellers who can entrance a room but who can also make an individual feel heard and special. Although, someone like Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby also might be considered larger than life for his reputation and the luxurious parties he throws…but except for a formal speech, he stands to the side at his parties and silently scans the crowds for his one-and-only, Daisy. So I guess my definition of “larger than life” should broaden and really just encompass those who are memorable and story worthy, for one reason or another, and act a little bit like this life isn’t quite good enough for them. It might just be me, but I could see larger than life people being supremely well-liked or well-regarded, but maybe unsatisfied because they’re always striving for what they don’t still have…like Gatsby with Daisy. But if Daisy loved him, would he be content? But is the reason that she can’t love him because he is too full of himself? Is being larger than life something to aspire to or does it cause more net unhappiness? Can it even be aspired to or is it more innate?

Getting the Words Out

https://introvertdear.com/news/the-science-behind-why-introverts-struggle-to-speak/

I don’t know if I’d consider myself an introvert and so I was initially turned off by the title of this article. But once I read the article, I came to accept that maybe I do have more introverted qualities than I thought (I know, people, this shouldn’t be something I have to “come to accept,” but alas, I haven’t quite shed myself of the negative connotations associated with introversion I learned at some point down the road). A lot of the article was very relatable, especially when it comes to finding difficulty getting the right words out in class/in a conversation with someone. At Williams, so much quality content comes my way in class and in conversation that it takes me some time to process it to give it a reply that does it justice. But it seems like everyone else’s brains work a lot faster (a special shoutout to my PolySci lawyers-in-the-making friends) and I’m often left struggling to inject some coherent fragments into the five second space allotted me.

I want to become a faster thinker and processor, but also don’t want to compromise the thoughtfulness of my responses. I love late-night conversations the best because they tend to be slightly slower and more drawn out, giving me more time to formulate my replies, yet just as (if not more) rich.

“You can’t tell anyone what to value.”

https://www.lifeadvancer.com/traits-open-minded-people/
The economics teacher at my high school, who I only knew through his role as my assistant basketball coach, said this to me and it has stuck with me ever since. Thinking about it in terms of majors, it means that we shouldn’t denounce someone for choosing to major in Econ and “selling their soul to Wall Street” so that they can make a lot of money. It also means that we shouldn’t disparage someone for “taking easy classes” and going into education where they’ll make significantly less money. Different people value different things because of: How they were raised
  • How they define success
  • Their personality
  • Their experiences
  • And other very personal, very variable things
The only thing we can hope is that everyone is OPEN to their values changing. What does this mean? It means being open to: DISCUSSION
  • CONVERSATION
  • DISCOURSE
  • DIALOGUE
  • EXCHANGE
  • THE SYNONYMS GO ON for what is 2+ people sitting around a table talking and listening
with people who have different values from their own (which is, hint, everyone…it’s just a matter of how different) This discussion will never happen if we put our heads down and move through college like it’s just the next wrung of a ladder, the means to an end, a diploma-pumping machine (insert another tired cliche here if you please). If you wanted to do that, you should have just taken college online because it would have been a lot cheaper. “Oh, but it’s not as prestigious and I’d get lonely,” you say. Well, maybe that loneliness and that hunger to be pushed beyond the material would make you appreciate and take advantage of the prestige and tight-knit community of a place like Williams. Maybe a taste of online education should be a pre-req for admittance. The point of a college having a campus is to give the bright, hopefully unjaded 18-22ish year-olds a place to talk about and debate what makes life worth living and how to go about living life that way. The thing is: we’re probably not going to get this straight from a class…or at least not from the limited number of classes we’re able to take. That’s why we need to talk and reflect with our peers. To hear about the classes we’re not in. To hear about the lives we’re not leading. And to check and see if what we think is valuable actually is. Doing so will allow us to value and get value out of this fine education.

If parts of everyone I was friends with was one person, only then would there be a person in the world who truly understands me. – Benjamin Defillippis

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