Life after college is often like finals week - you're busy trying to meet deadlines for something you don't want to do with no idea if you're going to make it or feel successful. ALL THE TIME.
It has been over a year now since I graduated, and it hasn't gotten easier. I think instead, I have gotten stronger and better at handling adult life. Slightly. Maybe. Hopefully.
Ever since #adulting became popular (and personal), I realized how incredibly unprepared I was to deal with the responsibilities and realities of supporting myself. Working a full-time job, balancing my finances, and somehow maintaining my relationships while also "pursuing my dreams" (quote provided by a nearby inspirational Tire & Auto Store sign) has felt fruitless to say the least. It's easy to feel like you've achieved a simple student-status goal in college when you submit an essay you wrote 15 minutes before class, but it's far less easy to feel like you achieved worker-status goals that no one has set for you, simply by showing up to work. Again. And again. And then 3 more times this week. And then 5 times next week. Till the rest of eternity.
In college, there is a tangible end product: a degree.
In the professional world, the only end product is your happiness.
Good luck hanging that up on your wall.
Since I am an achiever and a person who requires a high level of creativity in order to feel happy, the post-college months have been, well... less than sub-par. Really, I'm talking since February 2016. If you read my last post, you already know how much I hate February, and how it was a bit of a roller-coaster for me so I won't get into that. However, it's been almost 6 months since then and a lot has happened. Perhaps this has been the most challenging 6 months of my life. Perhaps I say that every 6 months. It doesn't matter.
Either way, the me that I have become wants to write about it, so here I am. I've spent 6 months working the night shift alone at a group home, and I've had plenty of time to think. Too much time to think. In fact, it's been one of the most stress-inducing thought-adventures ever. Being alone, in the dark, for so long really takes its tole on you. I'd venture to say it even has aged me, at least six months more (HEAVEN FORBID). In my thinking, I've not only pondered the universe and many philosophical unanswered queries about God and existence, but I have learned new ways to manage myself as a human. Setting goals, improving myself, scheduling the crap out of everything so I can fit it all in, and the reason why I love watching The Office and Parks and Rec. (IT'S BECAUSE THEY'S SO CLOSE TO REALITY BUT ALSO SO FAR AWAY. BRILLIANT).
I could write about so much right now and this post would go on for days, but I wanted to mention a new lifestyle change that I have decided to undergo. I have uncovered dirt and mud and grossness in my mind, and I've chosen to clean it out using several online resoures: The Art of Manliness, Nerd Fitness, and a brilliant little thing called the Podcast (with one show in particular called The Liturgists). I've written some about this before, but this time...
Here's the breakdown.
I've joined the ranks of the Nerd Fitness Academy in order to track and improve my mental, physical, spiritual, and social health.
I've joined the subscribers of the Art of Manliness in order to foster the discipline and strength of the previous generations of men in myself.
I've joined the audience of The Liturgists in order to connect science, faith, and art through philosophical inquiry and spiritual relationship.
I really highly recomment you check these websites out, because they have helped me so significantly in finding myself. I'm at a point right now where I spend 15 hours a day guaranteed alone, and so I've had to come to terms with a lot of personal failures and weaknesses. I'm still wrestling these thoughts of unworthiness often, even as I write this and think about how selfish I am for trying to be happy. Isn't that an unfortunate thought? These are the sort of things I'm fighting to conquer, so that I can better serve and love other people, living a life that's worth living and that contributes back to the world. It's like... Doritos.
Doritos are these amazing, tasty, triangular shapes of crunchy goodness that, when you eat them, are so utterly fantastic, they send you into another world of bliss and pleasure, one so strong you can't focus on anything else. The whole world becomes empty and boring. And then, after you've eaten them all, you feel cheesy and gross and all around bad. You're left covered in an orange mess that makes you look like you fell and rolled down a Dorito dirt-berg into a Dorito pool of Dorito dust. So after showering off your layers of hydrogenated orange skin, you return to a state of equilibrium, and when the Doritos cross your path the next day, you eat them once again, because they made you feel so darn good. And you are back into that pin-point focus on a single chip, and the world stops spinning for just a little while. It is this circle of addiction that the brain can't escape on its own. Like the ventures of the hunter-gatherers before us, we are left with an imminent threat of food; only this time, it's too much. So you eat and you shower, you eat, you shower, you eat, you shower, spiraling downward into the oblivion of perpetual disenchantment, until eventually, you become the Dorito. And then someone eats you. Nom nom nom.
I call this, The Dorito Principle. I get so focused on achieving something, that until I finish that thing, I can't let go. It makes me forget things, it makes me feel weak and alone and helpless. It reduces my discipline, productivity and creativity to shambles. It makes oblivion more palpable than reality.
So I need some help.
That's where these websites come in. I have found a community, a set of disciplines, a series of laid-out achievements and quests I can accomplish in order to stay alive and caring. I'm reached a point where not caring is no longer cool. I have friends and family, like you, who will back me up on this, and that's why I've decided to write a blog about it. I am reformatting my life through fitness, nutrition, hobbies, service, discipline, creativity, investment, and support. I am focusing not on a singularity (that of my successful achievements) but on a vast array of beauty in order to obtain a macro photograph of the world around me. I will not obsess over the Dorito and how it defines me. I will not obsess over my identity. Merely, I have to tell myself that I am not ashamed to be who I am, and I am confident that I am growing into a man. One who chooses his decisions consciously and deliberately. I pursue not success, but a meaningful, empathetic, and enriched life. I hope to inspire others through my journey, but most importantly, I just hope to see and share beauty. The beauty of not just the Doritos, but the Fritos, the Popcorn, the Torillas, the Quesadillas, the Marshmallows, the Chicken Fingers, and all the other beautiful creations on our planet.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is The Dorito Principle.
Actor, Director, Creator, Dork