I found this on my Facebook page the other day. I wrote it about four years ago. I decided to share it without editing it (although there are a few changes I would like to make!). For the most part, it’s pretty much all still true.
(Except #3, whoops! I now own both Uggs and Vera Bradley. But way to go 19-year-old me! Way to be an individual! Haha)
Back in the day, I wrote columns for the KU student newspaper, The University Daily Kansan.
Exploring some of my past writings, I came across this gem.
(Author –> Erin Brown, because that’s my maiden name of course).
I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately.
It means something different for everyone. For me, I’m not quite sure how I would define it, but I do know I haven’t been feeling it lately.
The last race I ran was horrible, and I seem to be only getting slower (if that’s even possible, ha!). My apartment hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. Everyday when I leave work and head home, I feel unaccomplished……like if I had just focused a little more I could have done much more with my eight hours in the office. I haven’t been writing much, and I honestly have no idea what my next career move will be come December. I feel very stalled, like I’m not going anywhere.
I constantly feel stuck between two views of how to live life to the fullest:
“Life is short, so dream big, take advantage of opportunities, do what you love”…. in essence, do do do.
But in some ways, on the other hand, although not guaranteed, life can be long…so…
“Cherish what you have, for you will come to miss this.” In essence, slow down, enjoy the here and now, and don’t be in such a hurry to get to the next step.
I find value in both of these thoughts, and I try to remember them when I feel blah and anxious. However, they do conflict, don’t they? How can you always be dreaming big and doing, while also slowing down and enjoying what you have now? It’s tough to find a balance, and I guess that’s where I am —finding happiness between the reaching for more and the thankful for now.
But there is one part of my day that I neither feel anxious nor unsuccessful about…. where I feel I am enough.
Sometimes friends ask me for relationship advice. The truth is that I never really know what to say.
Chances are if you know me even a little bit, then you know my husband, Steven, and I have been together for almost nine years.
If you don’t know me (Wait, who am I kidding? Does anyone but my mom or mother-in-law read this blog? Haha), then here’s some background: I met Steven in high school choir when I was 14 and he was 15. We’ve been together ever since and got married last October.
So friends sometimes ask me how we have made it work for so long. Sometimes friends ask me what they should do in their love lives. Should I text him? What should I say? When should I introduce him to my family? What should I wear on our date?
I’m never sure what to say. I don’t consider myself any kind of relationship expert. In fact, you could even say that I just got lucky. That I just happened to meet “the one” at a young age. Lucky me, eh?
Maybe there is some truth to that. Maybe it was fate in action. But loving someone for nine years isn’t just a result of having met at the right time. It’s the result of hard work, commitment, and choosing love over and over again.
The air conditioning in Steven’s car stopped working last week.
Perfect timing, right? It’s only 100+ degrees these days. It’s gone out before and he has been able to fix it. But this time, I think it’s just donezo.
It makes me sad for poor Stevoid. Driving around with the windows down and still sweating bullets. Luckily, his drive to work isn’t that long, and we take my car just about everywhere else.
It’s not the end of the world. There are certainly worse things. And it will be fall soon enough.
I guess the real reason the broken air conditioner bums me out is because we’ve been saving to get Steven a new vehicle for almost a year now. Not just any new vehicle, but a truck — something he’s been dreaming about since he was 15.
We’re both a leetle upset that it’s taking so long. His ’01 Chevy Cavalier (the vehicle he has had as long as I’ve known him….almost nine years) has actually held up pretty well for the most part. But over the past year it’s gone downhill fast. The broken air conditioner is just another reminder that a new vehicle is no longer just a want, but quickly becoming a need.
I love traveling.
I love packing bags and planning outfits to wear (although unpacking is far less enjoyable!). I love new places and experiences. I love airports and people watching. I love looking out the airplane window and watching the world shrink until the earth looks like a checkerboard of grassy fields and crossing highways.
I think it is so important to incorporate traveling (and just vacationing in general) into my life for a variety of reasons. For one, it is new experiences and a hunger for adventure that keeps me excited and vigorous about life. It’s not just about taking time off, it’s about living life to the fullest, which is why I’ve made traveling a priority.
It’s pretty easy to get down as a millennial these days.
After college we move back home with mom and dad. We will have as many as seven different jobs before we turn 30. We will struggle to one day own homes, and we graduate from college with an average debt of about $20,000. Add the worst job market since the Great Depression, and the future (if possible) looks even more grim.
All of this was on my mind as I walked down the hill last May. It was difficult for me to enjoy my graduation. I was proud of my accomplishments, but I was not excited for what was to come next.
In the year since, there has been a little of all that I dreaded. There has been stress and uncertainty, but I also never expected to be this happy. While my life isn’t perfect, the so-called awful world of post-grad life is a little bit more sunny and inviting than I imagined.
I don’t like being bad at things.
I’m not sure that makes me exceptionally unique. I would assume most people desire to succeed.
But I do think certain people are okay with not being the greatest at everything they attempt. These people probably have a lot more confidence and are a lot more sure of themselves than I am.
If I know I won’t be good at something, most times I don’t even try. If I do try and find it doesn’t come easily or naturally, then I’ll likely quit.
That’s not to say that I don’t like to challenge myself or that I shy away from obstacles. One of my greatest motivators is when I’m told I can’t do something. But if I do go out there, give it my all, and still fail, my self-esteem will undoubtedly drop and I will be so embarrassed that I won’t want to try again.
This fear of failure has been a bit of a barrier, but is something I’m working to overcome. Even if I’m not the greatest at some things, it doesn’t mean I don’t have other talents. (I have to remind myself of this!)
In addition to just about any organized sport, mathematics and learning new languages, running has always been logged under the category of “Do not try. Will suck badly.”
I used to take pride in my stress level.
I used to believe that my long, extravagant to-do lists and full schedule of extracurriculars were signs of success, and the fact that I could barely sleep at night and felt on edge during the day were simply signs that I cared. That I wanted everything I did to be perfect.
This is how I lived for most of my college years, especially when I started to get heavily involved with the student newspaper. I put on a lot of weight, snapped at the people I loved, and had professors and co-workers seriously questioning my ability to handle my anxiety (for real).
It wasn’t until a fellow editor and friend sent me home early from the newsroom one day (to de-stress, essentially) that I realized my stress was all consuming, and instead of helping me perfect what I did, my inability to manage it was negatively affecting my work and my relationships.
I’ve learned to relax a little since then, to not take on projects and jobs unless I have the time (and it’s something I truly want to do, not something I feel obligated to do). I’ve learned that exercising and eating right are just as important as completing assignments on deadline and worth carving out time for in my day. But mostly I have learned that while achieving goals is fulfilling, no measure of success is more important than my health or spending time with the people I love. (Cheesy, but true).
I still worry about small things, that I admit probably don’t matter in the long run. I still like to be prepared and organized, and can’t function well without my planner, but I don’t lose sleep over the fact that a source hasn’t called me back or that I haven’t completed every single task I wanted to do that day. I understand now that if one thing falls through, everything else will (likely) still be OKAY. But it took me a while, and a lot of self reflection to get here.
A few weeks ago I saw a documentary from National Geographic called Killer Stress, and I was immediately intrigued. The film looks at stress in other species and compares it to human stress. According to the film, stress used to be a reaction to life threatening situations, but today most Americans live in a constant state of stress. A human coping mechanism has now become a switch we can’t turn off.