Change Your Mind

Happy Monday.

At the beginning of each new week, there is a certain sobriety that pervades the atmosphere (aside from the last signs of weekend hangovers fading away.) It is caused by a somber recognition of loss shared in the hearts of the student body every Monday over here in Middle-of-Nowhere, Pennsylvania. It is the loss of the weekend, the loss of temporary relief from droning lectures, the loss of precious time when we should have employed our energies toward catching up on all the work we are so desperately behind on.

Every Monday is a ritual. The shrill squawk of multiple alarms shatter the tranquility of sleep. Snooze buttons are violently assaulted. And this process repeats about 3-5 times for each student.

I must acknowledge my own deep loathing of Mondays; they are tired days. It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I was quite alright with beginning a new week, eager to take on new challenges and what-not. Such enthusiasm has deserted me.

I confessed to a friend last night that sometimes – including the current moment – I wish I didn’t care so much, that I didn’t have the uncompromising drive to excel. I bet life is so much less stressful for those students who have no problem seeing a B on their transcript; or God forbid… a C.

But I know myself. I know what I want. I know intimately what all my ambition – taxing as it may be at times – leads me toward. I’ve been tripping steadily over my own two feet long enough to know when I need a pick-me-up, something to straighten my spine when my posture begins to become slack. Sometimes that one crucial necessity… is fresh motivation. Simple solution, right? Wrong. Searching for this motivation, as we all know, can at times be as futile as a hunt for the Holy Grail.

This is why you have me. While I was browsing YouTube in my first waking hour – go figure – with my mug of Colombian roast in hand, I found it. You’re welcome. (I’m not referring to the Holy Grail, mind you, although I might as well be.)

The answer was as simple as 3 words:

Change your mind.

Obviously, there are many possible contexts that could influence the interpretation and intended meaning of this phrase. As my word count is starting to rise to a height inappropriate for a Monday’s attention span, I will simply post the video below.

The video is only five minutes in length, but honestly, you don’t need to watch the whole thing if you just don’t have the time. I was feeling refueled before the first minute had gone by. Watch on your lunch break. Sacrifice viewing the inspiring visuals and listen to the audio on your drive.

Enjoy. You’ve got this.

Keep moving forward.

P.S. I will now be creating a new page on this blog labeled “Monday Motivation” where I will be posting content like this video that boils the blood and gets you ready to take on the world. Every Monday morning – and whenever you’re feeling run down – be sure to check out that page for new inspirational material.

“If At Birth You Don’t Succeed”

Since the advent of YouTube, viewers have been subjected to the very best and worst of the internet.

We live in a day and age where a college professor can reference a TV show in class and follow up with the statement, “I forgot, you guys don’t watch TV. You watch YouTube.” YouTube is taking over the world of video-based entertainment. A “YouTube star” is a thing. Those “stars” are now hosting live televised events, publishing books, and making an entire -and pretty comfortable, according to popular rumor- living off of their YouTube channels.

I have no shame in admitting that even I have a teenage fan-girl living somewhere in my complex personality that screams in praise at the mention of a few YouTube personalities. What really gets my inner fan-girl going wild though – I’m talking a four-pack of Redbull and a backstage pass to a Taylor Swift concert kind of wild – are those rare inspirational gems you might see embedded in a Facebook post. Let’s get specific: Zach Anner.

You may or may not recognize the name from Oprah’s Search For the Next TV Star in 2010. Anner, born with cerebral palsy, claims over 200,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel.  I had never heard his name until this afternoon.

As with most popular YouTube videos, Anner’s are comedic in nature. Behind the humor, however, Anner’s success, and the very nature of his enterprise is downright inspiring. At one point in the video posted below, Anner says, “This is the most exercise I’ve gotten all my life, and it’s only been four minutes.”

This guy busted his ass to create something designed to make other people laugh, people he would never meet. In a more recent video, Anner even makes light of his own cerebral palsy for the sake of facilitating a smile on a stranger’s face. I can’t help but wonder, if I were in his position would I be able to do the same?

The struggles of daily life don’t seem so burdensome after watching Anner’s videos. Things could be far worse, and things are far worse for someone else. If this one man can have so much hope and diligence and give all he’s got to put some happiness out into the world, maybe at the very least we could grumble a little less over how long we waited for our morning coffee (or how long it took for traffic to get going after the red light turned green.) Take a hint from this guy: Keep looking up and keep doing awesome stuff.

Keep moving forward.

Anner’s book, If At Birth You Don’t Succeed, is available for pre-order from his website.

You Can Do This

I will not get behind, I told myself. I’ll stay on top of things this time, I said. I’ll be one step ahead.

I also tell myself every pay-day that I’ll be financially responsible.

As week three of the fall semester begins to wane, the student body over here in Middle-of-Nowhere, Pennsylvania begins to feel the pressure of a new academic year. College life stress already pumps full force through our veins, exciting every nerve, overloading our brains with conflicting signals. The confidence we built up in our summer’s-end pep-talks have been blown away by gale force winds. The semester has barely begun, but the bitch came in like a hurricane. Hope you brought your life jackets, little freshmen.

“Don’t spread yourself thin”, my grandmother used to tell me. I never took her advice. After promising myself I would stay on top of life this semester and not get myself so stressed out, here I find myself as the president and founder of a new on-campus writer’s group, participating -once again- in the fall musical, working a part-time job, and taking the maximum amount of credits allowed per semester. If this doesn’t sound like a lot to you, consider just the small fact that professors suggest 2-3 hours of work outside of their class per day. 6 classes. 6×2=…. Now add to that the time demanded by everything else I’ve heaped on to the plate and tell me how there are even enough hours in the day. My schedule defies the laws of time.

This is the curse of Fall semester. The hype of returning convinces you that you’re ready, but really there’s no preparing for the transition from summer to full blown academic mountain climbing. It’s like jumping out of a hot tub into a bucket of ice and telling yourself you’re immune to shock. The key isn’t to avoid stress. That’s impossible. The key is to keep breathing.

I hate budgeting time. I’m too spontaneous for that. But it’s a skill worth learning. What really matters, though, is not losing yourself in the sea of papers to write, chapters to read, and research proposals to prepare. If you have to be laboring out in the hot sun all day, you wouldn’t forget to take a break every now and then to refresh yourself with a cold drink of water and enjoy the beautiful landscape. The same goes with work. Take some time to play.

Budget in a half hour to nap and recharge your batteries. Budget your time not just to get things turned in by their due date, but to have some semblance of a social life. Work in the company of your friends. Order pizza. When you have that mental breakdown over the 200 point test coming up even though school’s only been in session for three weeks, cry with your friends. It makes things a hell of a lot easier. Get away from campus one day a week. Get ice cream. Get away from it all for an hour or two.

Do whatever you need to do to stay semi-sane. Give your all in your work. It affects the rest of your life. But don’t forget to live. You only get to do this once. Make it memorable while you can. Remember to breathe. You can do this.

Keep moving forward.

Image retrieved from Google