Another Revolution Around the Sun

At first I was going to do one of those cliché, “___ Lessons I’ve Learned At ___” age sort of posts. You know the ones. Short and pithy but deeply philosophical and emotional.

But, I’m not.

I’d rather just take the day and enjoy it as it goes. Maybe I’ll do one of those posts for the new year, if I feel up to it.

Honestly, I’m just happy I’ve made it through another year.

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Writing for the Thrill

I think I’ve lost my spark. I still enjoy writing, and when I can get into the groove, it takes a lot to get me to stop. But lately, I haven’t had the desire to write. Even thinking about it makes me cringe. Writer’s block? I guess you could say so.

I believe part of it is because I’m here, on this platform. Anyone can come along and read what I have to say, anyone can engage in the content. And it sinks into your head, this idea that you must write for these invisible people who may or may not exist, and that adds on a certain amount of pressure. Sometimes, I have nothing worth writing about, and I force myself to fulfill some internal deadline.

Not that deadlines are bad! I always want to contribute at least one post a month, and so far I’ve been doing that. At the same time, I’ve become worried about the life-state of this blog, when in reality I’m just using it as an outlet for my many thoughts and feelings.

That’s what I want to focus on first and foremost. I want to write for the thrill again. I want to write when I feel like it, and not because I feel like I have to do so. I want to keep this space as genuine as possible, but semi-active, too.

So, dear reader, do excuse any lapses. I believe in quality above quantity, and if you don’t mind that, then stick around. And if not, feel free to stop by whenever you’d like. I’ll probably still be here. I’m just not going to pile on the stress anymore.

Learning the Right Way

At the start of this year, I was practicing two languages – French and Spanish – and mainly used Duolingo to keep on top of my daily studies (I’ve since dropped French and have been focusing solely on Spanish).

While my Spanish to begin with isn’t too bad – thanks to many years of language class in school – it still helps to keep up with it. However, as the days drag on, I find myself more focused on “getting it out of the way” rather than truly taking in the language. My vocabulary is extensive. My practical grasp on the language, one the other hand, is not.

Once you get into a certain habit, it becomes second nature. Unfortunately in a lot of cases, that also means you’re just going through the motions. You do it because that’s what you do. It’s a simple matter to open up a phone app, reach your (or the app’s) goal, and carry on about your day. It becomes second nature in a bad way, and instead of absorbing it all, you’re doing it with no real useful outcome. In some ways, you’re making it harder on yourself because you need to go back and re-learn it.

I’m not saying that practice is bad. Far from it. At times it can be very helpful and in this particular situation, my vocabulary has grown, and that’s not a negative. But to blindly follow along with something just because, you forfeit (and often forget) important critical thinking that allows you to truly learn.

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, we were taught (lol) about the dangers of rote memorization, or “chalk and talk” as it was so lovingly referred. Practice is fine. Blind practice is not. You learn nothing but how to hone your short-term memory, how to pass a test, and how to forget whatever it was immediately after. This is a lesson I have to remember with myself and my personal goals, and not just when it comes to learning a topic like with Spanish.

With that in mind, I (we) need to take a more proactive approach to active learning. In order to escape the tedium of blind practice, it’s important to step up and step out. How else are we to learn if we don’t give ourselves a chance?

 

No Feeling is Final

Over the past month, I’ve cycled through every major emotion—and a few minor ones, too. Happiness, sadness, joy, anger, jealousy, grief… you name it.

Naturally, the ones that stick out most are the negative emotions. These are tied to fairly large events that have transpired in the past 30 or so days. To explain one of these events: I was on the waiting list for a particular job for months. I spoke with HR multiple times, only to be kept in the dark (HR was with me on that, too, so it’d be remiss to blame them). Last week, I was told the job was made redundant, and so, the hope I’d carefully built for that opportunity was dashed.

It was upsetting. Who wouldn’t be upset by that? But, I had to remind myself that this was just one in a sea of thousands. Still, I have a bad habit of nursing negative emotions far longer than I should (and I assume many others as well). In reality, we shouldn’t hold back on feeling them. Bottling them up will do more harm than good in the long run. Don’t ruin your life because you cannot let go. Let them cycle through you, allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling (safely), and be prepared to let it go once it’s run its course.

The great thing about emotions is that they’re temporary. Sure, they might mix and mingle and confuse us, but at the end of the day, we can lie down and awaken with a fresh slate. It might be hard for bigger events in our lives, but we will not feel that way forever. Tomorrow may turn out to be the best day of your life. And even if it isn’t, remember that no feeling is final.