13. Good-Natured

            I’m so exhausted as I wrap up the final week or so of my first real semester in this college.*

I would be lying if I said that I don’t still feel kind of like a loser being back in school after all these years. It’s a “woe is me” mentality and I’m doing everything I can, with all my might to fight my way into the other direction. I’m constantly reminded that things are always better than they appear. When you get so caught up in the hard days of trying to pay bills or keep the house clean, the minutes and the hours feel unbearably slow. When they become unbearably slow, the weeks and months, sometimes years, start to feel pointless and it makes you wonder if you’ll ever see a light at the end of the tunnel.

            There was also a long list of things I wasn’t doing all these years that had an equal or greater negative effect on me. Prayer. I still struggle with prayer to this day. I recently told my wife that I am sometimes fearful to pray out loud with her because I don’t want her to hear me admit to God that I’m afraid or uncertain of myself, my faith or whatever else. Prayer is just an ongoing conversation between you and God. We all know this, and when you’ve found yourself praying a lot in a short period of time, you realize how extremely easy it is. I’m not talking about regimented, down-on-your-knees, long-winded monologues (thought they can be, if that’s your desire). But praying to God (or whoever you believe in), either out loud or silently, scattered throughout the day, or just before bed, if so crucial to helping keep your mind level. Keeping your head and heart straight makes your attitude a simple 1° adjustment in the right direction.

Easter 2013 – Smyrna, GA

            Positivity is dangerous. Smiling and letting people know you’re happy unlocks a world of discomfort, and in saying that, I can imagine the confused look on your face. I said last week that I had a long-standing lazy streak and fortunately, I tore down many of those barriers in my life over the past ten years. I realized that I listened to certain music that promoted things that did not line up with the values I was seeking to employ in my life. I noticed that some of the movies I had watched were creating vivid distortions in my mind of what life should be like. Many of these things, or perhaps all of them collectively caused me to misunderstand the difference between right and wrong. Many people closest to me will tell you that I struggle with letting loose and unwrapping my tough exterior. Most people get the impression that I’m unhappy. I will say that hearing those things all these years bothers the crap out of me, but why haven’t I stopped doing it? Pride, I guess. I say it all the time, that I’m rarely mad, upset, frustrated (except with myself all the time, but that doesn’t really show). I’m extremely focused almost always on what I’m thinking about. I usually don’t tune out the world in this process, but I do immerse myself in my thoughts.

            Back to the positivity thing–

Whether or not I have a stern look on my face most of the time, it needs to be a conscience decision to “stop and smell the roses.” That’s such a great analogy for taking an inventory of your mood and attitude. If you don’t stop and smell the roses, they begin to stink. It’s a comfort thing.

I’ve never been great at talking to a group of guys, especially about sports, as an example. Smile and nod. Smile and nod.

Hope that you can BS your way through a comment if you get asked a question. It’s frustrating beyond measure, and I’m not just talking about sports. To be actively engaged and to personally express an interest in something that you have absolutely no interest in is mind-numbing.

            But there’s room for a shift. Maybe it’s time to pull out your iPhone real quick and check the results of the latest game and some brief stats that you can mention. Maybe you take notice of someone’s shirt with the Star Wars logo on it and tell him how unhappy you are that they killed off Hans Solo (that’s who died in The Force Awakens, right?) See what I mean? I should’ve Googled that before typing it. Regardless, a little bit of effort and preparation goes a long way in a short time!

In the end, I want to be able to handle social situations with much more grace that I’ve been known for in the past. For an introvert like me, people can be pretty darn intimidating and if you let that intimidation get the best of you for a long enough period of time, you wind up becoming a hermit and wondering if it’s even possible to become better at interacting in social settings.

I always love to end with a thought-provoking quote, and there were many related to this topic, but I picked the following because I’ve heard it for years and years and I know I can relate to it myself, so here it is:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato

*This post was originally written on May 12, 2017. As of this post, I have actually just wrapped up my SECOND semester, where I naively took four 17-week classes in an 8-week summer semester. Needless to say, my brain is FRIED! In the event that you’re following each post, (thank you) I want to make sure you don’t get the timeline confused. I’m trying to write several months ahead, while also making sure to include current events. Bear with me as I learn how to best accomplish that. 🙂

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