Those who have followed along with my journey over the last 5+ years have probably heard me talk about my childhood nostalgically (BOOM. Spelled that correctly on the first try…).
You’ve heard me talk about my grandfather and his farm, my search to return to my childhood home (if only in my heart), and some of the most trying moments of my childhood.
Recently, my family took a trip--a week long excursion through the Canyons of Arizona and Utah.
One afternoon, my Mom, Dad, and I went down to sit by the river that runs through Zion. A cool, silty river that can run as smooth as the tiniest creek or as strong as the roughest of rapids.
On this day, the river was calm and smooth.
My dad, usually too tough for play, was sitting in the river, stick in hand, watching the tiniest frog jump along the banks when he said, “what more do you need than a stick, a frog, and a river?
When I was a kid, I didn’t need much else. I spent hours playing in our yard on Norfleet Drive. We had a creek in the backyard, there were plenty of sticks, and I definitely had a pet frog (until he got loose in the house and we never saw him again…).
I think sometimes my journey--the search for myself--looks a lot like searching for the simplicity of those years. Back when there was no pressure to be anything, to do anything, to impress anybody.
Back when being myself, a little kid with a stick and a frog, was more than enough.
Sometimes I think this world ruins us to the best parts of ourselves.
It teaches us that we have to be something. That we have to make something of ourselves. In the process, this pursuit kills what makes us great. It takes away our creativity, our play, our childlikeness. And in the places where these traits once sat, we add the pursuit of fame and fortune and success.
But whose definition of greatness are we buying into? The American Dream that tells us we have to get rich or die trying? The Joel Osteen belief that God wants us to be “successful”? The constant pressure to live up to what our friends and family are projecting on social media?
I have a mentor and friend who once told me “you have greatness within you”. The difference between his statement and ones I heard so much growing up is that he never told me I was “bound for greatness”.
In other words, he was naming something that was true of me, rather than defining a success metric I had to reach for--a line in the sand I had to get to before I could truly love myself.
Too often this world tries to tell us what our greatness should look like. It defines what good, great, and bad look like. And we’re left with a bunch of pieces to a puzzle that just don’t fit, trying to figure out how to make it work.
Trying to live up to expectations we never wanted.
That’s the difference between finding greatness within and searching for it without. When we look outwardly, we’re left waiting to be told we’ve finally made it by a world that simply doesn’t care all that much about us.
When we look within, we get to uniquely discover what makes us great, how we can use it, and where we can leave our mark on a world that so desperately needs people who are willing to have an impact.
You, my friend, were made to change the world. Even if all you’ve got to start is a stick, a frog, and a river.
I’ve been living well in my 30’s, if I do say so myself.
What I mean is I’ve had a lot of fun and made some awesome memories post-30th birthday.
One of the most interesting trends of my post-30-life has been the 1st date wedding date.
In less than 18 months I’ve had 3:
So far, none have worked out long-term (though you never know), but each was a legendary experience in its own right. There was dancing (I kill it on the dance floor, by the way), lots of confused looks from family & friends, some kissing, a bit of alcohol, and lots of fun.
For me, the best part of each experience was how little the final outcome mattered. I was always so worried about the end in my 20’s. Success was based on how I could compare the final product to the expectations set in my mind.
That’s one of the greatest regrets of my early post-undergrad years--I didn’t see the experience for what it was.
Because that’s the reality of so many of life’s greatest moments: they are beautiful in and of themselves. They don’t end with something we can compare to the lives of others. They don’t end in a white picket fence or the perfect job or the “one”.
They end in an awesome story.
The beauty of great stories is that it doesn’t matter where you are in life when you create them. Whether you’re all settled in with a family and a mortgage or more like me, still rambling around, you can create stories worth telling years down the road.
I think the key is a willingness to take risks and redefine success so that life's best moments are just that--amazing stories in their own right.
There's no such thing as someone else's war
Your creature comforts aren't the only things worth fighting for
Still breathing, it's not too late
We're all carrying one big burden, sharing one fate
About a year ago I went on some dates with a southern woman. Like me she was raised in the Bible belt. Like me she was raised around conservative ideals. Like me she was raised in a white man’s world.
I knew things weren’t going well when she asked me about something I’d written not long before--about the #blacklivesmatter movement.
It was one of those moments when you just know the person sitting across from you isn’t planning to tell you how much they agree with you.
The gist of her side of the discussion was this: there’s only so much power and money in the world, so when you give some to others (minorities), you have to take it away from those who currently have it.
Built in is the argument that somehow white people have earned it--ignoring that both power and money are built from power and money. Meaning those with it can more easily pass it down to their offspring.
While this particular relationship didn’t last much longer, this discussion has lingered in my psyche ever since. Why? Because my date wasn’t wrong in one aspect--there is only so much power and money in the world.
Yet, as I’ve thought deeper I’ve realized at its core the #blacklivesmatter and other minority movements aren't about power and money. Power and money can be fleeting.
These movements are about privilege, and there's no limit to the size of the privilege pie.
These movements in recent years, they aren’t about power, money, or taking piece of a limited pie. They are about being seen and accepted as equal with equal opportunities and equal rights.
I think that’s why it amazes me when I see defensiveness in white people--even when I see it in myself (because it does still exist). We’re not being asked to give up our cushy homes or our religion or our marriages.
We’re simply being asked not to impose our religion, beliefs, culture, ethnicity, and orientations on others.
Yes, we’re asked sometimes to pay more money when we make more money.
But once you’ve fallen in love with folks who’ve found themselves at the bottom of the bottom, you start to understand how a few extra dollars from your paycheck for health insurance can really matter.
The point is, it’s not about what we’re giving up when we accept our privilege and let those different from us into the club--it’s about what we’re building. It’s about living in a country where love trumps hate and acceptance overcomes fear.
I don’t know what I said to my date last year, but I wish it could have sounded something like that.
We are living in a white man’s world, but it doesn’t have to stay like that. And change doesn’t have to mean a loss of all the privileged have held near and dear.
If you want to chat more, you know where to find me: email@example.com
It wasn’t long ago that the dating script looked something like this:
Step 1: Meet someone in a public place
Step 2: Talk with said person and get to know them a bit
Step 3: Exchange numbers
Step 4: Reach out for a date
Step 5: Date takes place
Of course, the outlier in this process was the blind date--something that happened somewhat infrequently. Today, with the rising popularity of dating apps, it seems every date is essentially a blind date, but rarely does it come with the social context of a mutual friend. You’re meeting someone for the first time, every time, and without a mutual friend’s blessing that the person isn’t a serial killer.
Are Dating Apps Safe?
That’s not to say changes in the dating landscape are all bad. It does, however, mean the risks are new and different, so understanding how to stay safe is an important step in dating in a world of Tinder and Bumble.
How to Safely Date Online:
We live in a new kind of dating environment. One that’s difficult to avoid based on the sheer popularity of online dating (with the advent of Tinder). However, there are ways to engage in online dating more safely while still enjoying the convenience of a more connected world.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org). And check out my company's software offering: it provides tools for managing your online exposure and keeping you safe when you’re dating online!
A writer by trade, a storyteller at heart.