Tag Archives: success

Everything I Need to Know about Life, I Learned from the Overnight Megabus Trip from Washington D.C. to Boston

Megabus

Megabus

1. Happiness is a choice. You can either spend your 8 hours wallowing in self pity and regret, or spend your 8 hours thinking about coffee and the possibilities of the future.

2. Get work done and don’t procrastinate. Because you never know when you’ll be able to blog, wash your face or brush your teeth again.

3. Every moment can hold something special. The journey is not the destination, but it’s not nothing either, so take advantage of those miles in the middle of nowhere.

4. Don’t give up. Just after you’ve tried every possible sleep position, you just might stumble upon the one that will allow you to rest longer than thirty minutes.

5. People make life incredible. Nothing beats seeing the smiling face of a friend in the wee hours of the morning in a city you love after 8 hours of purgatory.

6. Assume nothing. The person behind you may have terrible taste in music, but they might be going through a hard time in life and need the crappy music to get them through. You don’t know.

7. Baggage sucks. The less you have, the better. That goes for personal baggage as well as possessions.

8. Other people exist besides yourself. The bus was not made for you and your needs. There are other people with different life stories, different clothes, different allergies and literature tastes, and their way of life is just as valid as yours.

9. People are people everywhere. This one goes without explaining.

10. Smile. Your smile will open more doors and give you more free donuts than your fist.

11. Think. Preparing ahead of time and thinking about the repurcussions of your decisions can lead to better, more effective outcomes. For example, bringing a pillow would make sleeping easier and the next day less exhaustion-filled.

12. Think positive. Since you’re already thinking, you might as well make it positive. Stress causes your brain to ferment, and too often you spend it worrying about things you can’t control, like what you’re going to eat for breakfast at South Street Diner.

13. Call Mom when you get in. She really cares about you and wants to make sure your trip went safely.

14. Sleep more. You probably need more sleep than you’re getting and especially more sleep than you’ll ever get on the overnight bus.

15. Bring warm clothing.

16. Infinity is everywhere. It is in the lengthening hours of the bus trip, it’s in the distance between your legs and the back of the seat in front of you, and it’s in the distance between you and a golden time in your past that you can never return to.

17. Love others.

18. Beauty is everywhere. It’s in the way rain hits the windows, in the color of a German’s hair and in the rich brown of a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

19. Care. Care about other people, about yourself, about the bus and the cities that you’re passing through. Care about the quality of work you produce and about the state of the nation and the world. Care even though it’s risky, even though it might hurt, even though it takes energy. Care.

20. Remember that life is heartbreakingly beautiful for reasons you will never quite understand, and that your great privilege and duty is to chase this beauty for as far as you can go, until your Megabus reaches its final destination and not a second sooner.

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A Career of One’s Own: From Boston to Ukraine to Somewhere Entirely Different

Keith

Keith

One of my passions is learning about other peoples’ journeys. A friend of mine and fellow BU alum, Keith (who blogs at Espose) has had an interesting career journey that he’s shared in the piece below. This is especially relevant for 20 somethings in search of a career or for anyone who likes a good read. Enjoy!

My plan after graduating from college in 2011 was simple. I’d do two years of Peace Corps in Ukraine, get a Master’s in Nonprofit Management afterwards, dive into the nonprofit world, and then one day run my own organization.

Three years later that plan is shredded. I work in an office that frustrates me always and at times drives me completely insane, and my professional life is directionless. It’s not a unique story amongst 20-somethings and my trajectory is by no means representative of everyone. But a common thread for many of us is getting what we wanted, realizing it’s not what we expected, and then not knowing where to turn.

For me, the first seeds of doubt were planted before I even got to Ukraine. Before I left, I worked for a bicycle tour company and loved the energy of the rapidly expanding small business. This contrasted sharply with the inefficient, glacial-paced, red-tape atmosphere that overshadowed my work with Peace Corps Ukraine, Ukrainian NGOs, and at the school where I taught English. In particular, working at my school was the most perplexing challenge of my service. On paper it was the ideal job, but secondary factors made it miserable. These included interpersonal conflicts with the cliquey staff and my mostly apathetic colleagues, structural challenges like the draconian administration and ever-changing schedule, and the more ambiguous but ever present hopeless vibe that pervaded the school and the economically-depressed, post-Soviet town. I was constantly stressed, even when working completely independently or outside of work altogether.

I returned to the States with a reversed sense of priorities — I didn’t know what I wanted, but I sure knew that I didn’t want to work for the government, in NGOs, or as a teacher. I moved back to Boston and found a job temping through August at an office at Boston University. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen into a familiar trap — I love my work with the students, but this office, its employees, and my daily tasks rival a Dilbert comic in absurdity. Living in Boston, I do have the advantages of the city and a network of friends, so for a while I simply tried to separate life and work. But eventually I reached a point where a “good” day was when I mentally blacked-out for half of my waking hours five days a week.

The Monday before 4th of July, I had a terrible day at work. None of the events were exceptionally heinous individually, but collectively they gave me one big wake-up call and the much needed epiphany that I don’t have to deal with any of this. Even though I’m still unhappy at work I feel empowered to take ownership of my professional life instead of letting the clock tick down to the end of August.

Going forward, I’m going to try to have a more balanced approach. I’ve traded in my clear-cut lists of “wants” and “don’t-wants,” for flexible tiers of preference weighted much more towards intangibles like people, mentorship, and office culture. I’m now very aware that choosing a job is also choosing a lifestyle; that jobs largely determine personal schedules, how and when people spend their time, and living purely for the evenings and weekends leaves people disengaged from whole swaths of their lives. I’m also trying to appreciate the benefits of uncertainty. Being directionless is often anxiety-producing, particularly after pouring over endless job postings with still no idea of what I’m really looking for, while most people around me carry down their well-defined career paths. But every once in a while I stumble across a bundle of possibilities I had never considered or even known of, and I’m completely free to pursue it. There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

I still can’t say I have a plan, but I do have a perspective. And though less concrete, it’s more than what I had three years ago.

What are your thoughts on a career journey? Do people ever really like their jobs? Leave feedback in the comments and to hear more from Keith, check out his blog at espose.wordpress.com.

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Somewhere Right Now, A Millennial Is Freaking Out About Life

millennial dinosaur is afraid of things she can't control millennial dinosaur is afraid of things she can't control

millennial dinosaur is afraid of things she can’t control

I was in Nashville for a reunion with some of my best friends from college for the 4th of July weekend. In the three years since we’ve graduated, we’ve all gone and gotten jobs or done Americorps or the Peace Corps or something along those lines, and now we’re trying to figure out what the heck to do with our lives and also what we’ve already done.

Sometimes I feel terrified that I’m doing everything wrong. Graduating from college was like being forced through the birth canal and leaving a tender home for a world of concrete and screaming and people slapping you to make sure you’re alive.

I miss classes and learning for the sake of learning. I miss my friends and being within a 2 mile walk of 80% of the people I care about. I miss grades and how easy it was to measure success. Sure it was all hell sometimes, but mostly it was awesome.

Not college has been different than college. In the “real world,” learning is not valued just for the sake of learning. My friends are spread out and busy. Community is difficult to build and what the heck is going on with dating nowadays? In some ways I want to write Boston University an angry letter saying “WTF? Why didn’t you prepare me for this?”

On the other hand, my real world education has been incredibly valuable. I’ve learned the value of a dollar (which is almost nothing), and how difficult but important it is to continue to invest in relationships as part of building a life worth living. I’m probably doing most things incorrectly, but so is everyone else and that’s a reassuring thought.

One of the best parts of not college has been the relationships I’ve maintained and the joy of seeing old friends. As I live more life, friendships grow richer as we experience tragedies and great joys together, and as life becomes less about us and how we stack up against arbitrary standards, and more about the kind of legacy we’re building with the people we love.

Because in the end that’s the most valuable thing we have. College couldn’t teach me about the other hard lessons in life, but I did get to build some incredible friendships. My dream is to continue growing that spiderweb of love for the next one hundred years.

I don’t know if I’m making the right career decisions, and I don’t know if my life will look like what I want it to look like in 20 years. I do know that friends are awesome, so I’m going to start there with the rest of my life and ask questions later.

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I quit my job to take my hobbies full time. Here’s what happens now.

Future daytime improv star

Future daytime improv star

On June 27th, 2014 I quit a (relatively) cushy corporate job to pursue my hobbies as a career, these hobbies being writing, improv, comedy, acting and amateur clowning. Many people congratulated me on this decision and told me I was brave (read: foolish). Maybe they’re right because the truth is I don’t really know how make this happen. I just needed to do something.

Two days later, I left the Bay Area bubble for a 7 week journey that will take me across the Eastern third of the United States, starting in Chicago and continuing through Nashville, Atlanta, North Carolina (Asheville area), Washington DC, Boston, NY and then Oklahoma City (Edmond area) on a miniature “Wassup USA” tour. I fully expect to get scurvy and lose a couple of teeth on this journey which can only be described as low-budget.

I’m doing this, the quitting and the traveling and the clowning, to test the hypothesis that there are no rules in life and no limit to what I can dream up and do, that nothing is in my way except for my own fear, and it is a formidable opponent that has some great arguments for why my dreams are a bunch of hogwash.

“Why should you be so lucky that you get the chance to quit a pretty good job and pursue comedy for a career? Not everyone has the chance to go after jobs they find meaningful – why should you? You shouldn’t look for meaning in your work, so why don’t you just do something that will get you a good income so you can be secure and figure out a way to work in your passions at nights and on weekends? Improv, really? Can’t you be passionate about something else? What if you fail?”

There’s some truth in these doubts, but at the end of the day they are just fear disguised as practicality, and I can’t convince myself to listen to them anymore. Not yet. But they are interesting questions.

In the next phase of my life and as I’m doing my hobbies full-time-ish, I want to explore these questions of meaning and career, who gets to follow their dreams and why, and who cares about this and does it even matter.

And for the next 50 days, I want to see what’s up with the USA. I want to do an Alexis de Toqueville “Democracy in America” except more along the lines of “Drevets in America.” It’ll just be me, in America, with my vision and dreams along with everyone else’s. Nothing much has changed except my morning commute and my inbox count.

So….what’s up USA?

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Don’t Judge Me, But This Blog Post Is Literally About Feelings.

Photo credit: Doug88888

Photo credit: Doug88888

God I can’t believe I’m  actually writing about this but I’ll just come out and say it.

I have feelings.

Some of them have names like happy, sad, or hungry. But some don’t. So I wanted to name, share and possibly eventually sell them.

And what I’ve done is this: described a (fictional) situation in which one might feel said feeling, named it and described where it is most often felt in the body.

Cavernbowel – the feeling of being alone and realizing you need to poop, often felt in large, empty, unfamiliar/professional spaces; felt in the bowels

I walk into the Museum of Natural Sciences in Chicago. It’s 3 pm in the afternoon on a Saturday, so the place should be packed. Instead, I find it completely deserted, the lobby’s empty and there is no sound in the atrium at all except for the air conditioner. I don’t know this, but the rapture has just occurred and I am left behind, staring into the glassy eyes of a stuffed wooly mammoth. Suddenly, I realize I need to poop. I feel ______.

Networkunease – a sense of impending social contact through social media, telecommunications or email; felt in the stomach

I’m sitting in bed on a Tuesday night, writing a to-do list in my spiral notebook. But I feel like I’m waiting for something, like I’m expecting a Facebook notification, text, LinkedIn message, tweet or email from some person I’ve met at some point in my life. I check my social sites, email, and phone repeatedly, waiting for something to happen, unsure of what it could be or why I feel that way. I feel ________.

Forbiddenbowel – the feeling of being somewhere you’re not supposed to be; felt in the bowels

The door to the church was unlocked, so I let myself in. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I did it anyways. Candles are still lit around the altars and I can smell frankincense. I walk down to the front and my footsteps seem incredibly loud. My stomach feels kind of like sandpaper and I don’t want to be caught, even though I don’t have any specific ideas for what would happen if I were. I realize all of the sudden that I need to poop. I feel _______.

Photo credit: Sweet One

Photo credit: Sweet One

Characterdoubt – the feeling of being suddenly and completely unsure of who you are; felt in the stomach/upper abdomen

I did something mean, and I’m not sure why I did. In hindsight, it was completely out of character. I told Shawn’s secret to Rob and she ended up finding out. I was trying to impress him with office gossip, but now Shawn is hurt and in the end, I don’t know why I did it at all. Who am I? Am I the kind of person that just uses other people for dramatic fodder? I kind of want to vomit and forget about everything. I feel _________.

Romancevomit – a feeling of dread while waiting to see an old flame; felt in the upper chest/hands

I haven’t seen him for a while but we’re going to coffee in 30 minutes. The last time we talked we were romantically involved. I broke it off, and he wanted to keep it going. I think he was the only man I’ve ever really loved, but I don’t feel anything towards him now and when I read what we wrote each other, I can’t relate to the person I was then. The past and future are melting together and my head feels a little light. I have the urge to drink a lot of caffeine. I feel _________.

Zephyrnostalgia – the feeling of being in several memories at once, often triggered by the senses; felt in the head and the sides of the body

I’m walking on Folsom street, heading back to work from the Embarcadero. I pass by the restaurants and office complexes and walk underneath some trees of the variety that are popular for sidewalk trees. A cool breeze comes down over the hill and strikes my face and somehow reminds me of every place I’ve ever been where I felt that kind of breeze before – Bunny Lane, CO; The Esplanade, MA; Squirrel Lane, OK; And it’s like I’m in all those places again at once. I feel _______.

Photo credit:  cbowns

Photo credit: cbowns

Wonderminded – the feeling of having your conception of reality shaken; experienced as a hollow feeling in the entire body

I’m walking to Powell BART station after class. It’s Monday night and I do this almost every week. 5th street can be kind of sketchy, but I usually walk this way alone anyways and it’s not too bad – it’s only one block after all. I reach Market street and am only 15 feet or so away from the BART station entrance and I hear three gunshots from across the street in front of the Forever 21.

I’m paralyzed. I think maybe I should drop to the ground, but instead I half jog to the entrance and start going down the stairs as quickly as I can. My heart is pounding and I feel like my insides are made of electricity. I’m about half-way through the hallway when three men sprint around the corner and come right at me. I’m against the wall, imagining them taking out a gun and just ending me right there. They pass by and sprint up the steps. I don’t think they even saw me. Three police officers chase after them, and I’m left alone in the hallway. Something I thought could never happen has just happened. I feel ______.

Joyexpansion – a feeling of utter joy that everything is right in the world and very beautiful; felt in the face and chest

I’m at Duboce park and it’s November 16th. The sky is perfectly clear, dogs are running around the park with their owners who are laughing and there are leaves on the ground. The air feels like an apple would feel if it were in air form. It seems that life truly is beautiful beyond description. I feel ________.

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