Own Your Space

Whoa, two posts about exercise? Weird. But while we’re on the topic, why not?

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started taking my exercise routine seriously. And part of this is attributed to me shrugging off the awkwardness that inevitably ensues when you’re flailing about your room, sweating buckets and panting heavily.

Rather, I had to shrug off the idea that I couldn’t comfortably exercise in my own house because other people would see me, or walk in on me, or generally be an inconvenience to me (and I to them).

I am learning how to own my own space.

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The Climb

I really, really hate high places. In fact, I’m such a wuss that I even get queasy going too high on the swings.

Once upon a time, when I was a wee child, I went on a field trip with my summer camp to a rock-climbing arena. We were all bouncing off the walls and waiting impatiently for our chance to climb. Soon, it was my turn and once I was strapped for safety, I began my ascent.

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Happiness is a Warm Jar

As each day unravels, it’s easy to slip into complacency. I find myself doing the same thing, day in and day out. Everything feels stagnant, and while each day is different in its own right, the days remain largely the same.

On top of that, it’s hard to find what’s good every day outside of “I woke up, all of my body parts are functioning as usual, I have food and a roof over my head.” Of course, these are not to be taken for granted (I learned the power of running water when during my Peace Corps service I was denied it for an extended period of time). And really, we should be more thankful of these privileges. I remember telling a friend or two about said waterless plight and how they shouldn’t take it for granted.

“I don’t!” they said.

But believe me, they do. I do. You do, too.

A few years ago circa 2012, I learned about something called a happiness jar. Starting on January 1st of the new year, you’re supposed to write something – anything – that made you happy every day. By the end of the year, on December 31st, your jar should have at least 365 reasons something or someone made you happy.

So on January 1st, 2013, I washed out a salsa jar and threw in my first piece of paper. Sadly, here in 2017, the jar isn’t even halfway full (to be fair it’s a massive jar). I even started one during my service, only for it to meet the same fate. It’s not that I’m devoid of emotion; it’s that I don’t find interest in writing the same reasons over and over again. So now, instead of forcing myself to drop a paper into my jar every day, I add one when I am genuinely happy.

It’s a great exercise in understanding gratitude. There are some days that are so bad, I have to actively remind myself of what good happened so that I don’t write off my day as a complete waste. Those entries to the jar are most important.

My jar stares at me from across the desk every day, and I stare back. Yes, it’s only barely halfway full, but I can still find reasons to add to its collection. One day, that jar will be full, and I can finally dump out its contents to read, to reflect, and to start again.

Perceptions of Perfection

Our standards are higher than ever: we expect the best from everyone at all times, and if one doesn’t rise to the expectations of their peers, they’re criticized.

This is not a new concept. No matter what, people are going to point out what’s wrong with someone else (and will go to great lengths especially if they don’t like you), casually ignoring their own faults.

But what I’m focusing on is this strange air of professionalism that’s permeating everything we do now. This is, in part, because of the internet and how easy it is to scroll through someone’s life. People become so afraid of having their pasts used against them that they erect a massive wall and hide under the shiny veneer of perfection.

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Wipe Your Feet Somewhere Else

Once upon a time, I was an insufferable doormat.

In some ways, I still am, but thanks to time and just a hint of pride, I’ve moved past my worst moments.

Even to this day, I struggle with acknowledging my own feelings because I care so much about others’ instead. A guilt settles in the pit of my belly when I have to say no to a person or a request. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of myself; in fact, I should do it more often.

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Defying Expectations

The biggest struggle that comes with finding yourself is teaching others about the new you. Or rather, the you you are already that you’re now more comfortable sharing with others.

Whew.

I am a laid back person by default. I don’t like to start or be involved in drama, I keep to myself, and overall, I’m an introverted individual. Introversion, however, does not mean lacking interest in diverse topics or lacking passion for various ideologies (but that’s a whole ‘nother post for another day). I am a strong believer in rooting for the underdog and working with underprivileged people to help them. Though I may not show it outwardly, I can get as angry or as sad as anyone else when faced with adversity.

Just because I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve doesn’t mean I don’t have one.

But what gets me most upset is when people – especially those close to me – invalidate my feelings or my reactions because to them, that’s “not me.” In reality, that’s not their perception of me. That’s not what they expect me to do.

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Turning Negatives Into Positives

Figuring out who you want to be is a common problem that’s often addressed but rarely answered, if at all.

Spoiler: I do not claim to have an answer. But, I have my own insight, so take of that what you will.

As of two months ago, I solidly entered the age bracket of “late 20s” and all of the existential stress that comes with inching closer and closer to death 30. And despite having a pretty good idea of what kind of life I’d like to pursue (and boy, do I try), I still get hit with the question: is this really what I want?

And that opens up the bigger, more menacing can of worms: what do I want?

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