One is Silver, the Other Gold

You know those little moments from your childhood? You know, the ones that at the time had little to no significance in your personal development, but for some reason have always stuck with you?

Well one of mine came back to me today. I was in my second grade music class, a tiny classroom with no more than 30 kids, sitting in rows looking at our thick, heavy music books. One of the songs was a musical version of the old phrase, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold,” sung in rounds. At the time the song got on my nerves (I’m still not sure why), but here I am 15 years later, with this same simple little song stuck in my head. This time, though, I realize it actually has some meaning.

When I was in my last semester of getting my bachelor’s degree, a slight feeling of tension arose among my friends and me. When we actually got the chance to hang out, it didn’t feel right. There was some odd level of stress and awkwardness.

It’s not like any of my friends did something wrong or harmful. It was just that each of us happened to be at a crossroads all about the same time, and each of us had our own personal stress distracting us from enjoying each other’s company. And being at those crossroads made us lose touch with each other for the sake of pulling our own personal lives together.

Recently, when I received an invitation to an old high school friend’s wedding, I had a distressing epiphany. I am a very sociable person, and have been blessed with a expansive circle of friends. Through high school, college and even the “real” world, I have made connections to more people than I’d ever imagined. In that brief moment of realization, I grew overwhelmed knowing how many people I consider friends but haven’t talked to in years.

Since I’ve become a full-fledged adult, and have had the opportunity to sort out my thoughts and goals since graduation, I realize now that this is normal. We all do simply what we have to do, even if that means sacrificing quality time with friends. Friends will move away, get married, have kids, do grown up things. There is no reason to be disliked for it, it is simply the nature of being grown up.

Even if I haven’t spoken to someone in years, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to their wedding. It doesn’t even mean that we aren’t friends. There’s no point in spending our waking hours concerned whether we’re still friends, without probable cause for those thoughts. It’s the little moments we often overlook; the exchanging of Pokemon cards on the school bus, the shaving cream fight, the 3am coffee runs, the timeless moments we can still laugh about today, that have solidified us as friends.

So in those rare moments when my friends and I do have the time to catch up, we are genuinely able to enjoy each other’s company. We are able to relive old memories and hopefully make some new ones as well. It’s as if we’d just seen each other. And it’s an amazing feeling, one that even being Facebook “friends” could never conjure.

So as the saying goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.” It doesn’t matter who they are, where you met or how long it’s been since you’ve talked. It doesn’t even matter if they’re silver or gold; either way, those friendships will remain precious.

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Only Tourists Look Up

Last week, Ben and I decided to make the trek up to the Galleria mall on one of our mutual days off to use up one of his gift cards. As we made the drive north on Vandeventer to get onto I-40, I had a shocking realization: That intersection we had stopped at provided an incredible view of the downtown St. Louis skyline. We caught a breathtaking image of the Cathedral Basilica, and the other architectural beauties surrounding it by simply looking beyond what we are used to seeing.

When the light turned green, I suddenly felt a different type of emotion; one of freshness, or renewed perception. It is the same feeling I had when I first visited Denver, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New Orleans, all of which invoked that emotion simply when I looked up at the skyline. So even by looking up in a city I am all too familiar with, I had renewed my love for it.

Even despite the painful job market right now, and all the woes that come along with it, I still manage to stay a generally happy person. Why? I exercise, eat right (as best as I can) and, most importantly, change things up once in a while.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am one of those people who would prefer sticking to the familiar and routine. Once I find something that works for me, I would stop at nothing to keep that consistency. But with that consistency comes a little feeling we all know called boredom. What some people might view as contentment with their surroundings and routines, could be mistaking it for boredom. Myself included.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Dead Poets’ Society, starring Robin Williams. As a more open-minded professor in a high-brow conservative private school, he encourages his students to stand up on his desk to see things from a different perspective. His purpose was to spawn new ideas and fresh points of view on the same tired old subjects.

O' Captain, My Captain

 

This became a theme throughout the entire movie, and the key reason why it is one of my favorites. The movie inspired me to continue to look at things from different angles, even if they happen to be the angles I’m not familiar, or comfortable, with.

This new life philosophy has made a lasting impact on my life. When it came to planning events or discussing major issues on campus with other students, I knew I had to break through my own personal boundaries and biases to have a unique and successful outcome.

So every once in a while, I will change up what I do just to keep things interesting. Sometimes I’ll take a new route to work or the store, sometimes I’ll sit on the floor instead of the bed or couch, and sometimes I’ll stop myself from getting upset over things that usually bother me. It’s all about new perspectives, and it makes me feel like a new person each time I do it.

This could be the solution to our everyday problems. Let’s take the time to stand up on our desks once in a while, and take in the unfamiliar. By adopting that “tourist” mindset and looking up, we can uncover new perspectives, and become more open-minded and well rounded people as we go about our lives in this otherwise humdrum world.

Beating the Back-to-School Blues

You know the drill.
It’s your third or fourth year in college. You’ve gone through all your basic introductory courses and boring gen-ed classes. You’ve now moved up to the theoretical classes, causing you frustration and overwhelmsion.
The world must be against you. Practically no time for yourself, it seems.

As frustrating as it is, it’s hard to believe that this feeling is so common.

I’m not very fond of lists, seeing as how millions of other blogs seem to contain the same content over and over again. I’m not going to give you these same cookie-cutter ideas. Rather, I am going to talk about what I do to recover from the back-to-school blues.

1. Join a new group.
This school year, I took the initiative to join our improv club, Chainlink. Having done theatre in high school, I was in dire need of some entertainment and stress relief.  And boy, did I get it. Because of my involvement, doing homework became a lot easier because I had less stressful thoughts weighing on my shoulders.
Yes, being involved on campus is time consuming. You don’t get paid for it (most of the time), and sometimes it involves more work.
But think about it this way: is it really going to hurt you to take time to get away from your mundane responsibilities just to have some fun? Student organizations are just interest groups, designed to bring students of similar mindsets together.
What’s more, showing leadership and involvement on campus has a lot more worth on your resume than does your part-time job waiting tables. Employers like to see that you are willing to invest some time in your school, which may translate to your job as well.

2. Read about your major.
You probably read this headline and scoffed. But I’m serious.
Though this is more geared towards those majoring in Communications, this is still an important part of developing yourself, regardless of your career goals.
I joined Twitter about a year ago, not quite sure what to do with it. I first started following Amy Burger (@justwannawrite), a St. Louis PR professional/freelance writer, who came to campus to present on the revolution that is Twitter, thus convincing me to join. I started to notice Amy posting articles on the PR profession, and I became intrigued. Through her, I found a huge network of PR practitioners and media communications specialists. With them came a plethora of articles about career opportunities, how to maximize my career potential, and more.
I can honestly say I’ve learned more from these articles than from my classes. Classes are extremely valuable, of course, but voluntarily obtaining this valuable material will motivate you to keep reading. So by the time you’re out in the “real world,” you’ll have this knowledge that many other people may not have!

3. Take time to make time.
I. LOVE. MY. PLANNERS. (Yes, I have two.)
When you’re a student, living day to day without any guidance can sure be a  hassle. Organizing a planner is one of the most tedious tasks you’ll have to deal with, but when it’s all said and done, you will find your whole life (or week, at least) laid out in front of you. There is no guessing involved.
With this new visual of your own life, you can *gasp* find time for yourself.
I have personally made time for myself every Wednesday evening so I can catch The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougartown with some friends. This means going out and leaving anything and everything school-related at home.

4. Devote your electives to your personal well-being.
I’m not going to say not to minor in anything. A minor is a great supplement to any degree. However, this is why I am not getting a minor.
Having a minor means dedicating yourself to another field of study outside your major. This means taking intermediate and advanced classes for a subject you won’t even get recognition for on your diploma.
Instead of getting a minor, I have dedicated my elective credits to myself. In the past I have taken a beginning ballet class, a strength & conditioning class, and this semester I am learning yoga. A major part of “surviving” college is a healthy amount of exercise. Why not get credit hours for it?
It doesn’t even have to be exercise. I’m also taking an introductory photography class because it interests me. I don’t want to major in it, and I don’t plan on doing anything with it. Yet it proves theraputic to me because it is a subject I would like to learn about.

As I mentioned before, in no way am I saying these are the perfect solutions for everyone.  But these are what work best for me. And I hope that, even if you think my ideas are irrelevant, that they will inspire you to find your own.