What It Means To Be A Human

Written December 2014

What it means to be human.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what a blessing it is to be a human on this earth. The odds of being any other creature are pretty high. But you are reading this, meaning you are lucky enough to be a person (and probably an awesome one). I’m not sure anyone really knows what it means to be human, but these are my ideas.

Being human means understanding the beauty rooted deep in all places of this earth. It means being aware that you are just a visitor, and that you should respect the rest of whom and what you share this space with.

Being human means being intelligent enough to adapt to what’s around you. This ability is in you. Use it.

Being human means finding connections with other humans.

Being human means appreciating every type of environment. From soil to sand to dirt to gravel and all the way to hardwood and tile floors. Whether we are under a tree or a roof, we can’t ever forget where we started and how we got to where we are.

Being human means respecting each other and those we share the earth with. In Costa Rica, the love and respect that people have for nature is contagious. They recognize that we share this land, not just with other people, but with trees and sloths and snakes and spiders, and all in between. Being human should mean being humble, and not crowning ourselves entitled.

Being human means having the capacity to try new things, paired with the ability to decide whether we like it or not.

Being human means consuming so much knowledge at a rate where we should always want more.

Being human means taking advantage of our ability to travel the world and do all of the above. As people, we have this power to inspire and move and change and share and love and teach and create. With so much power, it’s easy to waste. Don’t.

Being human means knowing that every beginning has an end. But if there is sincerity in between, I hope I never regret it. At one point, every thing we had and every one we had meant something to each other, and in this life, that’s all we really seem to be looking for.

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Your future job might not even exist yet

Today I read a quote that said your future job might not even exist yet.  And it made me feel so much better about the post-graduation pressure that I’m already unsuccessfully avoiding.

I’m majoring in media and minoring in sociology–two things that will probably never go away.  So I should be set, right?  Wrong.  I am still at a total loss and confusion.

But here’s the bright side: Internet years are even faster than dog years.  Things mature and get old quickly out here on the interweb,  so I’m not worried.  Something incredible could happen in the next few months, and BAM–just like the #royalbaby, my dream job is born.  I mean, Facebook is TEN years old and it has well over one billion users around the world–that kind of success doesn’t come often in human years.  So for that reason, the speed of Internet years is comforting to me.

Humans years, on the other hand…I sort of wish that they moved a little slower.  “One more year! What are you going to do after graduation?” said everyone ever.  I’m sick of replying with different versions of what is basically I HAVE NO IDEA.  This is going to sound a little too cliche and beauty pageant-esque but I so honestly just want…to be happy.  It’s not about the paycheck for me.  I care more about how I feel, if I’m happy every day, and if I get to be surrounded by people I care about, doing something that I want to be doing.

I mean, I’m pretty broke now but I’m as happy as I could be.  And if it stays that way, I think I’ll survive.  Life has always been about people for me.  I say it all the time.  So as long as I am not alone, as long as I can wake up with a smile on, whatever I’m doing for the rest of that day doesn’t matter–I’ll take it.

So.

Dear Future Self,

Everything will be okay.  Your future job might not even exist yet.

Hakuna matata.  Just enjoy your life.

Current Self

The aura of travel

I love early mornings. And I really love early mornings spent traveling. I woke up a little earlier than 6 am this morning in order to make a 7:14 am train from Amsterdam Centraal to Schipol Airport in order to make a 9:35 am flight to Madrid.

The walk to the train station was quick, and yet we passed quite a few fellow travelers. Walking in the darkness with their backpacks and heavy jackets. We traded polite nods as we passed them, and it felt like an exchange of a “Welcome” and “Goodbye” to Amsterdam from one visitor to another.

At the train station, it was silent apart from mechanical sounds and the rolling of suitcase wheels. In the bicycle car of the train, a wide open seatless space, a dozen early morning travelers stood together. I was well aware that we are all going to separate places but I couldn’t help but feel an automatic connection with this group of strangers.

All of us, unquestionably, would have preferred to be in a warm comfortable bed rather than squished together in a moving train car. We all know early mornings and the rush of trying to make a flight. We all know what bad customer service is like. We all know just wanting to go to sleep, and just hoping for good weather, and just wanting to be there already. We all know extra fees, overpriced everythings, back pain, loud crying babies, and in general, we all just know.

There was an unspoken understanding between us all on that train this morning. Even if no one else felt it, I’m glad I did.

 

 

How to wallow, and how to stop

I have never been a fan of people who wallow, people who worry, and people who waste.  Here’s my take on wallowing:  it’s allowed, but not for long.  Would you want to look back your life and remember that you spent four months getting back on your feet after you lost your job?  Or that you wasted years yearning over your ex?  I’m going to guess that the answer is ‘No’.

I’m not implying that we ignore our feelings or become selfish emotionless robots.  All I’m suggesting is that life won’t stop for anything.  Sometimes bad things happen, and then life goes on.  Life is the emotionless robot in this equation.  We are the humans.

Take a few days to let it out, and then carry on.  You deserve happiness more than you do sadness.

How to wallow:

Lay in bed, but don’t sleep.

Cry when it rains.

Make playlists called “CRY” and “Nostalgia” and listen to them all the time.

Focus only on what makes you sad.

Cry when it’s not raining.

Stop answering text messages.

Spend a few extra minutes with your eyes closed in the shower.

Feel your heart ache.

Cry when you remember.

How to stop:

Lay in bed, and clear your mind.  Go to sleep knowing you are blessed and that no matter what or who you lost, you will always have a memory to embrace.

Cry tears of joy when the sun shines.  Feel alive.

Make playlists called “Breathe” and “Wake up”.

“Think about your feelings and organize them.  Learn a lesson from the wallowing.  Come out of this experience a stronger person.

Don’t cry when it rains.

Send text messages, make plans, go out dancing, buy a plane ticket.  Surround yourself with happiness you deserve.

Spend a few extra minutes in bed when the alarm goes off and tell yourself, “I love waking up!”

Feel your heart grow.  Let the good vibes in.

Cry when you remember.

Undress the Stress: Day 18

So today I had a number of moments in which I felt under pressure.  Not so much stress, but short bursts of overwhelming feeling.

  • Term paper.  Today was the due date for one of my midterm papers and I had it completed but I never edited it or formatted it, so I set my alarm a little earlier to get it done.  Normally I hate going to bed without finishing what I need to do because the stress is only worse when the deadline is closer. Plus I would rather to go to bed knowing that I’m all finished instead of waking up and being worried right away.  But I just couldn’t focus last night.  Hump day got the best of me.
  • Midnight Run.  I’m part of an organization called Midnight Run and you can read about my first trip with them here.  We are made up of about fifteen students under different committees and every semester, we collect clothing and food donations and deliver them in person to the homeless on the streets of New York City.  It’s one of the best experiences I’ve been apart of so far, and all of the hard work we put into the program is worth it when we make the deliveries and change a handful of lives.  I felt a little bit stressed and very much under pressure because the trip is approaching soon and the week off of school from Hurricane Sandy has slowed our progress down and it seems like not everyone is taking this as seriously as it should be.  I spoke up about this earlier today and the problem is solved.  Sometimes all it takes is a voice.

That’s all for today I guess!

It’s such an amazing feeling to sit here with the intention of ranting about my day and all the moments that I felt stressed.  But it’s even more amazing to sit here and not have much to rant about.  After that second bullet point I legitimately sat here while two entire songs passed by on my playlist, and I couldn’t think of anything else that stressed me out today.

Maybe a stress blog is all you really need to be able to look back on your day and find the best parts by examining the worst parts first.  I know from experience (and from being a human in general) that in the moment, everything is much worse than it is in retrospect.

A few weeks ago during one of my first few stress blogs, I was seriously freaking out about paperwork and deadlines and other study abroad responsibilities that I had, but at the end of every day I always knew there would be tomorrow to take care of it all.  Whenever there was a setback or someone I needed to reach was not in the office, I would be so unnecessarily annoyed, and it affected the rest of my day.  Well, I’m sick of that.

It’s time to accept that some things are simply out of my hands and there is no sense in worrying.  Worrying is the last thing that could help solve any problem.

So follow my footsteps.  Take a breath, time travel and look at your moments of stress with a retrospective eye, and carry on.  It really is so, so easy.