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The Scarlet & Black

A few tips from a weathered senior

As I began writing my last thoughts for this issue, I realized all of my columns (excluding those of my co-columnist Mai Ha Vu’13) have been somewhat critical of various ideas. I debated finishing on an even more critical issue, but alas I decided to end on a more positive and spirited note. For the entirety of my undergraduate years, I have kept a patchwork of journals, diaries, and private scribbles. This being my final year at Grinnell, It seems somewhat fitting as a senior to share the wisdom I am constantly learning from and about the world. These quotes and ideas are taken directly from the journals I have kept since beginning of college. You can call these “Que’s tidbits for living.” A disclaimer for those of you who are self-help whores, these ideas are by no means panaceas, but maybe just maybe it can help a few people as they explore themselves and their place in this world. If one person is affected in a positive way then my goal is achieved.

Life is not fair
Life is NOT fair; I believe most people would agree with this message. I actually believe this is something they should begin teaching people in Kindergarten. I say that, because there seems to be an enduring ignorance that causes individuals to assume across the board equal levels of entitlement. What do I mean by this? “fairness” can make people assume things in a very limited and one dimensional view, Tom received two cookies so I also should receive two cookies. It can lead to extreme pettiness and which causes individuals to lose focus on greater critical issues. In addition, defining what is “fair” is very problematic. It would be impossible to take all the relevant factors in consideration and even deciding what factors to consider for a particular situation is even more challenging. The pettiness that surrounds “hey, that’s not fair” wastes our “life capital” (new word obviously), and reinforces this false notion of entitlement. Let me be clear, this is not to say that individuals and groups should not advocate for what is “equitable” or “reasonable.” The fact is the applicability of fairness does not and cannot exist in our lives. Life (I’m personifying here) is partial and it is simply a game; you just have to know how to play the rules without losing yourself. So, learn to play her well.

Balancing Focus and Awareness
A man who lives by only what he sees is truly blind. Life is a balance of both awareness and focus, you can be too focused and lose awareness of the greater picture or the greater process of which you are a part. Conversely, you can be too aware of the great process at work and lose a sense of direction or personal navigation. This does not mean you believe in “God” or a “god,” but rather understand that many actions of our life are not an independent process.

Principle of Consistency
Wherever you put your heart and your mind, your actions and spirit will follow. Consistency will always win the mark. Most individuals do not realize they are constantly investing in something, because every action has an output. With every second of our life, we are investing, whether we are doing nothing or doing something. If you continually invest in your dreams, they have to come to fruition in some degree. It is just a simple matter of law. An example: if someone becomes obese, because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, that state took a process to get to. It did not happen overnight and it will not likely change overnight. The same journey can be made back to a healthy lifestyle. This principle of consistency is why developed ability will beat raw talent 8/10. Want to achieve your goals? Be consistent. Want not to achieve your goals? Be consistent. It does not matter what you do, rather it is the investment you want to make of each moment that counts.

Learning to Love Yourself
Many times people always strive to be someone else, whether it is because that person has wealth, fame, respect, or just other desired attributes. Never strive to become a different person, just strive to become a better you. It is likely that the person we may strive to be, went through a different process, which may have been more difficult, to become who they are. Everyone has to start from somewhere. We probably do not even a have clue into their private life. Your role model should be the ideal you, others should only provide clues, not the destination. 

I hope any of these nuggets will really help guide or give perspective to you. If not, sorry! Maybe you can go grab a self-help bestseller or stick to your own guiding principles for developing self-awareness, character, and exploring your role in this life. Thank you for reading and it has been a great experience receiving constructive feedback on our column!

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    Self Help WhoreMay 7, 2013 at 9:44 am

    This is such a great piece, a little roughly written but that makes it even more of a gem. Thank you!