I’m selfish. That’s not nice but it’s true. I believe we’re all selfish at certain points, though few of us care to admit it. I’m not always selfish, but lately, I have been feeling it more and more often.
Lately, all I want to do is what I want to do, when and how I want to do it, and I don’t really care about what other people want – and what’s worse is that I don’t want to care about what others want.
In fact, I don’t even want to know. Knowing what someone wants from you is a burden. Because with this knowledge comes a choice with consequences. You can choose to give them what they want or you can choose not to. But if you never knew in the first place, you can make your decision without the burden of knowing you may, in fact, have been acting completely selfishly.
Once you have knowledge of others’ expectations, you truly have a dilemma. Because ignorance granted you immunity. Not total immunity, but some. No matter how selfish the decision, you could always claim a lack of knowledge if accosted after the fact. But once the awareness is realized – you must own your selfishness if you choose to act in a way that disregards others. It’s the choice that hurts others. It’s the fact that you knew something would hurt them and still chose that route anyway. Isolated selfishness can be completely benign, many selfish choices have absolutely no impact on others, but if not, they can cause immeasurable pain.
However, I refuse to believe that being selfish is inherently sinful. Being too selfless can be detrimental to your health, and draining to your soul. Pursuing the actions and things that bring solely you happiness can be incredibly freeing. If you constantly tie your pursuits to others than how will you ever know what you can truly handle, what your true taste for life is? Prioritizing your own wellbeing and pleasure should not be looked at as a flaw. Bettering yourself is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself, especially since that path often leads to more selfless behavior than if it hadn’t been indulged at all.
My current feelings are a little bit of both. I have made some isolated selfish choices that have affected no one but myself, but I have also made some knowingly causing pain for others. It’s not a path I will be on forever, but right now I really feel like looking after myself is best for where I am right now – and that is sometimes necessary.
I’ve been talking a lot about productivity lately, and I’ve mentioned how important my own habits are to my goals and routines. I get comments on those posts like, ‘How do you (workout, practice language, cook, write) every day? It seems like a lot so how do you find the motivation to do it?’ The answer to those questions is simple – those activities are simply habits so my brain and body require less willpower to do those activities.
The question people really should be asking is ‘How did you form the habit to do ‘x’ in the first place?’ because that’s the hard part. Once something is a habit, it’s not as difficult anymore, portions of it become automatic, the feeling is so ingrained, it doesn’t take as much effort.
But forming a new habit? It requires a lot of effort. The concept of inertia fits perfectly here. Inertia is defined as matter’s tendency to stay at rest if already at rest, or alternatively, to stay in motion, if already in motion.
The habit of working out is the best example. Before you are in the habit of working out, it takes a huge amount of willpower, effort, and motivation to make yourself go to the gym – your body wants to stay at rest. But once it becomes a habit – your body is in motion – and it wants to continue that way so it becomes easier.
So how do you do this? How do you form a new habit? I’ll use my own decision to seriously commit to practicing language without the rigor of a classroom to turn to since graduating university.
First you have to answer the ‘why?’. Why is forming a new habit important to you? Is it to improve your health? Is it to learn a new skill? How will it better your life? I chose to start my personal language journey with Greek. It was specifically important to me to improve my speaking skills in order to converse with my family more easily. That goal kept me going and expanded my language practice to my others of Mandarin and Spanish.
Next, you gotta have a plan right? What we be the actual habits you practice to achieve the goal of starting in the first place? For my goal this meant practicing with Duolingo and flashcards that I made, every single day, as well as having a weekly lesson with a paid tutor (putting some money on the line helps any goal), and outlining my goal to my dad who makes a concerted effort to speak in Greek with me even though English would be far easier for the both of us.
Lastly, find something to hold on to when it gets tough – because it will get tough, especially when you’re first starting. For me, I reflect after every tutoring session on how accomplished I feel and I hold onto that feeling. Every time I ever even consider skipping a day of practice or skipping a tutoring session, I remember how good I feel afterward and that’s enough to get me to push through.
Like everything worthwhile, habits are hard to form, and in the early stages, they are also easy to break. But if you can find that thing to keep you going, habits also have the double edge of being difficult to break once they’re ingrained within you.
I wrote this post a couple weeks back about how much I get done in a day. I got quite a few responses on and offline showing interest and/or amazement at my strict productivity routines.
These routines come at a cost though. Yes, I get pretty much every single thing I want to get done – done. But it requires a huge amount of planning, little room for error, and almost zero room for true spontaneity.
Consider for a moment what your life could look like if you implemented my routines. Maybe you’d feel productive, motivated, fit, busy. Now imagine what it must be like to live with me.
Structured, strict, intense.
When I was younger, believe it or not, I was even more uptight, so my sister bore the brunt of my unyielding need for routine. For example, I needed to be half-hour early to school (elementary school) – don’t ask why, there was no good reason – and if my sister put this arrival time in jeopardy, I lost my mind. I started screaming, crying, yelling at her to hurry up.
I have since mellowed out in my responses on the surface to unpredictability, but it still causes a sense of panic internally all the same.
My routines also require a huge amount of discipline. It’s not easy to make myself workout, study, work, prepare, and plan every single day. I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I basically want to be good at everything – and this pressure on myself is ever-present.
If I happen to be in a relationship, I treat it the same as my other endeavors – I prioritize it, make time for it, and work on it. But I also end up holding my partners to the same standards I hold myself, and when my expectations aren’t met, disappointment is inevitable.
Consequently, I always feel caught. I know putting my expectations on others is unfair, and a surefire way to experience disappointment more often than satisfaction, but I also feel like I deserve someone who also holds themselves to high standards. I feel like if the other person doesn’t want to hold themselves to a similar bar then the relationship is doomed to fail anyway, because I will always be pushing forward on myself, on the relationship, on everything – no matter what.
I haven’t really figured out how to feel about this part of myself yet. I know that holding myself to high standards is one of the things I like best about myself, but it might be hindering my relationships with others and causing unnecessary frustration.
For now, I’m not planning on backing off – I do have a lot of shit to do – but I do want to spend some time learning about the areas where I am willing to compromise because ultimately, sweating the small stuff won’t get me anywhere.
Someone once told me that people can be like seasons. They come, they serve their purpose in the big picture of your life, and then they go. For a while, that sentiment was comforting to me as I grew apart from friends or went through breakups, but I’ve realized it’s just not true.
First of all, seasons come, go, and then they come back again. Seasons represent a cycle. Things are born, they thrive, they decay, and then they die. But they are born again in the next cycle. The cycle is certain, it is measured, it is reliable. People are none of those things.
Seasons also remain unaffected by any amount of labor or feeling invoked as a response to them. Loving summer ardently will do no more to extend it’s time with us, than despising winter would to shorten its time frosting the ground.
People respond. People cling to the things they love and shuck away the things they hate with surprising fervor. People are willing to work to have more love and less hate and they feel their work makes a difference on others.
Relationships are work. There is some chemistry involved, some chance – but mostly work. You work to stay in touch, you work to talk, you work to do things together. Maybe you don’t notice this work at first because you have so much fun with them. They live close by, they understand you! But then one of you moves away, or gets a different job, or meets a new partner – then you’ve put stress on it. Tell me it isn’t work now.
When a relationship fades to black it’s not a matter of irreconcilable differences or distance – it’s a lack of work. One party refuses to work as hard as the other to nourish the relationship. One party decides to be mean or lazy or to simply ignore the work at hand. A relationship is a more fragile creature than any of us care to admit. It can only survive for so long as a one-sided endeavor.
Sometimes both parties say we should not be as close – we will work less on each other. And that’s ok. But if you’ve ever let a relationship go without that conversation, then don’t kid yourself, you just weren’t willing to work for it. Communication and connection are dead.
And if you’re on the other side – it hurts. To go from something close and meaningful to nothing at all feels desolate, and what’s worse, unnecessary. Someone has chosen to stop talking to you, to stop texting you things that remind you of them, to stop making an effort to see you. And if you hadn’t chosen that same path, then you always wonder what you could’ve possibly done to make them choose that.
The unfortunate thing is – most of us don’t realize we make this choice. Excuses are rampant as disguises for it – “it’s been crazy at work” “what time zone are you in again?” when in reality we just haven’t put much thought or planning into the relationship anymore, and we probably never will again.
Sometimes, people are like seasons, sometimes they come back. But most times, once they’re gone, they’re gone forever – so don’t let the good ones go.
I get a lot done in a day – I workout, I practice language, I read, I write, I do a full work day, I spend time catching up with friends and family,, I drink three liters of water, I have a religious skincare routine, and usually am still getting about 7 hours of sleep per night.
Over the course of a week, I fit in even more – work on my blog, working on my new business, progress on my long term goals, social events, running errands, meal prepping/cooking, cleaning, and laundry.
I don’t list out all of these things to brag, I list them out to provide context as to what the texture of my day to day and week to week end up looking like. Because there would be no way for me to get all of this done if my real talent weren’t time management.
First of all, I’ve never been a procrastinator – I was always that kid who did homework as soon as it was assigned. I have been an obsessive planner and organizer all my life.
So to be fair, although I’ve never had to fight an uphill battle against my nature to get things done, there are a few extra things I’ve learned along the way that almost anyone can apply to try and get more done in a day.
The Lists – I keep many different lists because it allows me to get all my tasks and thoughts out of my head and then I’m never in danger of forgetting anything. The most common lists I keep are as follows –
The Daily To-Do List – I make this every night before bed and doing it every night at that time allows my mind freedom to sleep without worrying I will forget something by morning. This list includes mundane things, work things, as well as don’t-forget-this things.
The Planner – I keep a planner to allow me to look ahead on a monthly and weekly basis. The Daily List is always built from the planner.
Miscellaneous – I also keep other lists on my phone for wish list items, books I want to read, and recommendations I receive. It allows me to keep it all in one place, refer to them when I need it and once again – not forget anything!I
Productive Distraction – If I’m feeling a bit distracted at work, or my mind needs a break from a task. I will switch to working on one of my personal projects for 15 or twenty minutes. Rather than scrolling through social media or distracting my coworkers by chatting them up, I will work on my blog, work on some writing, or follow up on things for my external projects during this mini-break. When I return to my day job tasks, I am more efficient, but I also fit in some of my own goals in the process. Even this post was written during a couple of those little spurts.
Prioritize your Time – This is a more advanced build off of the to do list item. Usually there are things that are more important to get done in a day. You have deadlines, meetings or other commitments that are more fixed as opposed to other work. I tend to block off specific times to get these done. Meetings are easy – block off the meeting time, plus whatever time you need to prep. If you have a deliverable due, block off a relative time block for the five days preceding to work on it and make sure it’s good to go. You get the idea. Certain things in life deserve more attention and that’s important to know and plan for. USE YOUR CALENDAR to your advantage!
Habits – The reason I’m able to work out, read, write, drink water, study language, and take care of my skin every single day is because those things are all habits for me at this point. If you make the things that are super important to you a habit, then you start breaking down barriers to doing them all the time. Your body will want to work out, your mind will want to spend some time on writing, etc because, without it, your day will feel strange.
Get Up Early – I know, I know, I’m obnoxious. The reason I add this in though is because usually mornings are the only guaranteed uninterrupted time we can get in a day. I’m up by about 5:15 every morning during the week and usually by 8am on weekends. A vast majority of the things I listed above are done between this time and when I go to work because I don’t have to answer to anyone else at this hour. Evenings may be easier on your sleep schedule but for me they are harder to stick to. Evenings get consumed with social events or reacting to things that happened throughout the day, and the things we wanted to do before fall by the wayside.
At the end of the day though, you do YOU. I cannot stress this enough. I have a different brain and predisposition that you do. So what works for me may not work for you. Maybe you already think you’re getting everything you need done. Maybe you’re more productive at nights or on weekends, or your goals are way different. Do some of your own research, there are tons of productivity tips out there, and try some out. Maybe blocking social media on timers helps you. Maybe working out after 10pm is easier for you rather than working out at 5:15am like me. As long as you’re getting done what YOU want to get done, then you’re on the right track and you don’t need my tips or anyone else’s.
A couple months ago I realized I hadn’t updated my blog in over two years. Two years! Two years ago I was still living in LA, just about to move to Calgary. I had barely been at my very first job for a year, I was still in the beginnings of my past relationship doing long distance. My life looked entirely different. The pictures and layout of the site reflected what I was doing then but it stopped feeling like me a while ago. I had all these categories that didn’t even have any content for because I didn’t actually like to write about them that much. Back then, I genuinely thought that this blog didn’t have a direction, but I was wrong.
So I’ve decided to switch things up. If you view the new site on a computer the header is video which I think is pretty damn snazzy. The aesthetic is a little darker, and a bit simpler because I’ve realized over the past few years that there are a few topics that I trend towards – travel, goals, relationships, and my own personal writings that I’ve begun to publish more of. Feel free to read through the categories, or you can click here for a complete archive of all my posts in the past few years.
I’d also like to say a quick thanks to the people that are regulars here. I don’t do this to make money or to promote myself, it’s just a creative outlet for me, but I appreciate all the feedback I get so much, so if you’ve ever liked a post, written a comment, or even just read one article, thank you.
This summer has been a weird one for me. I quit my prior job and moved out of Calgary in the spring, spent some time in Japan and then finally moved to Chicago and started a new job during the summer and it’s just been crazy getting used to everything since then. In any case, there are a few things that I have grown rather attached to throughout this new season of life, so if you’re looking for new recommendations on anything and everything – check out the below list!
Shiseido Sunscreen – started using this right before Japan since I spend way more time outdoors when I’m on vacation and I think I finally am able to stick to the whole sunscreen everyday thing. This goes on super thin and smooth and it has SPF 50 as well as being sweat and water-resistant. Perfect for summer, and perfect for me all year round.
Son & Park Beauty Water – a recommendation from my lovely friend Clara. She let me use this along with my next favorite when I was visiting her back in May and I woke up with my skin glowing. It’s a toner/essence that’s super light, but whisks away impurities without stripping my skin at all like toners usually do for me.
CosRx Snail Mucin Essence – paired with above, my skin looks amazing. This stuff does feel slimy at first, but a little goes a long way, it goes on thin, and locks in moisture like none other.
Sweat Block – these little wipes do the impossible. You apply them before bed one night a week and they severely reduce sweating. I am a person that sweats, and using them on my armpits has been amazing for summer Food/Snacks
Peet’s Coffee French Roast – Those of you close to me know that I worked as a consultant for Peet’s coffee for over a year and turns out I really miss it because I started buying their coffee in stores. Their Dark Roast French Roast is just amazing. One of the few coffees I’ve ever made at home that leaves no bitter taste on the finish at all.
Goat Cheese on everything – Creamy goat cheese of any type has been amazing to use in my summer cooking. Goes well with summer fruit, baked onto stuffed peppers, on my avocado toast, everywhere.
It’s been hard for me to focus on books for the last few months, but I have still been consuming shows at the same rate. Below are some of my recent favorites.
Fleabag (Amazon Prime) – only 12 episodes total, this is maybe the sharpest, wittiest show I’ve ever watched.
Good Omens (Amazon Prime) – A six episode mini series based on the book of the same name – this show is just well executed fun.
Patriot Act (Netflix) – political comedy shows never get old, and Hasan Minaj is my new favorite commentator on our current plights.
The Chef Show (Netflix) – a sort of behind the scenes look at the recipes in the movie Chef. Very lowkey, but fun to watch and introduced me to my new favorite pasta recipe. Pasta aglio e olio.
Tim Ferriss Podcast – This podcast has been around for a while but I am just now getting into it. The thing that separates Tim’s podcast from other interview podcasts I’ve listened to is how specific it gets. If someone says they eat a protein bar each day, he asks them which exact one they eat. He interviews a huge variety of insanely successful people and really gets to the nitty-gritty of how their journey progressed and how they live their lives today. The episodes are long, often more than two hours, but I listen to them while I run and just pick up where I left off each time.
Google Drive – Not a new invention but now that I have two laptops instead of one, google drive has become invaluable to me to work on my personal writing and projects when I don’t want to carry both devices with me.
Yoga w/Adrienne – Working on my flexibility has been an irregular part of my fitness routine but I’ve been trying to amp it up. This YouTube channel has a huge range of videos for all abilities and activity types and Adrienne has a self-effacing style that doesn’t feel too hippy-dippy for someone as cynical as me.
I literally cannot believe summer is pretty much over. I don’t know about you guys but it FLEW by for me. Fall is my second favorite season though so I’m not too sad about it. If any of you have any products, books, movies, anything that you’ve been loving lately, I’d love to hear about them, I’m always looking for recommendations.
The alarm only gets to blare for a second before my hand reflexively reaches out to shut it off. Even in my half-asleep state I know I only have a minute to decide if I’m going to set the snooze or blink the sleep out of my eyes before slipping back into sweet sleep.
I decide on the blinking. It’s Monday and I’m refreshed from the weekend. The world is still dark, but my eyes adjust quickly and I work up the gumption to pull back the covers so I can change. My limbs have that jelly feeling from not having moved in a full eight hours so it’s time to get the blood flowing through them again.
I pull on my gym gear with sleepy fingers, grab my headphones and head out. It’s a full body circuit today. Sprints, weights, jumps, repeat. Before I know it, I’m flushed, sweaty, fully awake, and in the shower. A cold shower. My body hasn’t had the time to cool off from it’s early activity so I force the issue.
Upon exiting, it’s all creams, lotions, sunscreen, and makeup until I feel silky and glamorous enough to take on another day. My body has moved, now time to make my mind move for a few minutes. I open my notebook to practice a few minutes of Greek and a few of Mandarin. If I don’t practice my languages I’ll lose them. But now I’ve worked up an appetite.
I set the kettle on for french press coffee, and prep the rest of my meal. Avocado, egg, and goat cheese on sourdough toast with some salt, pepper, and spice to taste. My coffee is cool enough to drink now so I pick up the book I’m in the middle of at the moment and read for a little while. If an idea strikes me, I may do some writing as well.
I set everything down and give myself a few moments of complete peace while I only focus on finishing my coffee. I watch other people get their commute started outside my window. Breathe in the smell of dark roast a few more times, and steel myself to face the world.
This is what an ideal weekday morning looks like for me right now. I keep a pretty strict routine, usually waking up around 5 and heading straight to the gym to get started and then finding time to get in a few self-improvement hobbies (reading, language) while I’m preparing and eating my breakfast. I hit this routine usually four out of five weekday mornings, so I’ve been pretty consistent. Sometimes I adjust to do an early call or to do a workout later in the day, but for the most part, this is my morning routine.
It may seem strict, but that’s only because I’m prioritizing the activities that are important for me. I know I need to workout, practice language, read, and write to get to who I want to be so I make sure I have time to do those things, and the only uninterrupted time I can guarantee in a day is the time before anyone else is awake. So if I get all this done in the morning, I can go to work with a clear head, and I can leave my evenings free for things that come up throughout the day or for social plans. This arrangement means I rarely have days where I don’t get to check everything off my to-do list and that feeling is worth the early wake-up calls.
I feel like I’ve been talking about dating apps with a lot of my friends recently, more specifically about how unsatisfying they are. While there are a whole slew of problems with these apps that contribute to this feeling, today I’m only going to focus on one and how I specifically combat it by using, or rather, not using the apps.
The chief problem with these apps as I see it, is that they allow us to fall into the belief system that we can actually find a PERFECT partner for ourselves. Because we have access to a seemingly endless amount of potential matches, we allow ourselves to think that eventually, we must be able to discover the PERFECT one if we just swipe long enough. You may not think you do this – but I encourage you to be more self-critical. Have you ever swiped left on someone because they weren’t tall enough? Swiped left because their job wasn’t ambitious enough? Swiped left because they misspelled a word in the profile description? I definitely have. We think that because we have infinite choices, we can be infinitely discerning as well. We disguise these limitations as having ‘standards’, but more often than not the standards by which we are evaluating potential matches are society’s standards, not our own. Because the means by which we are normally able to evaluate matches – actual interaction – isn’t available.
Because here’s the thing – people are SO different in real life. I think about it this way – for me personally, out of the seven* guys I’ve gone on more than two dates with, I met six of them in person. And I wouldn’t have swiped right on ANY of those six had I spied their profile on a dating app. Not because they weren’t attractive, but because they totally aren’t the type that translates well on a dating app. They’re the type to post cheesy photos and simple profile descriptions if any so they just wouldn’t stand out on an app to me – but in person, I clicked really well with them. In person, I was able to evaluate by the standards that matter to me. Do they make me feel wanted? Do they make me feel safe? Do they make me laugh? Do they turn me on? And so on and so forth. Notice all of those questions have to do with how they make me FEEL which is impossible to tell on an app. The most you can do on a dating app is maybe send some flirty texts back and forth but until you meet in person you can’t know if you have that x-factor with someone because it’s just too detached.
I’m not saying you should give up on apps completely but they should definitely be taking a backseat to your other interactions – if you use them too frequently, you’ll just drive yourself crazy. So first and foremost, do you. Kill it at work, practice your hobbies or pick up a new one, watch Good Omens like you’ve been meaning to, read, workout, travel, spend time with your friends and your family. Fill your life to the brim with the things that already bring you joy and accomplishment. This will do two things – it reduces the time you have to merely swipe out of distraction, but it also makes your life fuller so that when you do meet someone you have that much more to bring to the table because you’ve actually been living a life instead of swiping it away.
Secondly, when you do use the apps, I only have two tips for you – prioritize the people that made an effort to talk to you first rather than just match, and then endeavor to meet up with whoever you take a liking to as soon as you can. As I mentioned before, it’s so hard to tell if you really click with someone unless you meet them. This also weeds out anyone who is just in it for the distraction as well as preventing the black hole of texting in circles.
Lastly, focus on meeting new people in person whenever possible. Whether it’s a work or networking event, or a friend’s party, you never know how far your circle truly expands and who might be able to introduce you to someone amazing.
*No I am not currently dating the 1 that I did meet on an app – that was a short six month relationship awhile ago.
We all live, walk, and breathe while carrying secrets.
Some are big, but most are small. The secret of saying you’re fine when you’re not, of saying you can when you can’t.
We tell ourselves that these secrets are ok to keep, in fact they must be kept so as not to burden those around us. After all, these are small secrets. Who wants to hear about small things? The fact is, we just don’t feel we have time for others’ secrets as well as our own.
You see it when your friend’s eyes glaze over as you’re telling her how you’re frustrated with your love life. You see it when your partner’s eyes dart over your shoulder when you just can’t put your finger on why you’re feeling unfulfilled at work. You don’t even realize it but you learn to stop. You learn that people pretend to listen so that you’ll pretend to listen later. In one ear and out the other.
So you keep your secrets, you dwell on them. Small ones pile on top of tiny ones and before you know it, your entire being is composed of secrets that you no longer have the ability to define nor share.
But then someone will ask you about them. They’ll look you in the eye when they ask but you won’t believe it. The first time they ask you’ll gloss over one little secret with a laugh. That usually works. But they ask again, intently. This isn’t fair, you think. Why would you ask for my secrets when I know you won’t care? Why make me go through the pain of defending them when you don’t really want to hear them?
But they look at you and ask again. This time, you allow your suspicion to show and you ask them if they’re sure they know what they’re asking. If they’re sure they want to see a part of you that’s insecure, lonely, or sad. If they want to see a part of you that while soul-defining is not charming, or positive, or attractive.
They say they’re sure. Steady, attentive, waiting. You’re going to tell them now, but you feel tears prick the backs of your eyes out of fear. What if they don’t think of you the same after this? What if your delicate balance of keeping secrets has been ruined? Or worse, what if they betray their indifference?
It’s too terrifying to tell your secrets and tolerate their eyes staring so directly at you so your gaze rises to the ceiling, falls to the floor, lingers just past their shoulder as you talk so you don’t feel the full force of their unwavering observation all at once, you’re not trained to take such concentration.
But you take the risk and you tell them. And when their attention doesn’t flicker and their eyes fill with sympathy rather than indifference, the sense of relief you feel is powerful enough to forget all the other people who didn’t listen.