A Lesson in “Being Humble”: Learning to Find the Blessings in Life’s Inconveniences

 

The first definition for the word humble in Merriam-Webster reads “not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive.” That being said, the word humble and I have not always seen eye to eye. Anyone who knows me really well knows that I don’t believe in humility or being humble, or at least the way it’s been presented to us over the years. When I hear the word humble, I hear things like “shrink yourself” and “you’re not that great” and “dim your light” and a bunch of other shit that is usually meant to put somebody down or kill their vibe. I am a firm believer that if you are killing shit in life, you should be more than proud. Nobody will appreciate your greatness if you don’t. I believe that pride only becomes a problem if you have to put others down to achieve it.

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Another definition of the word humble reads “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.” I’ve always found being told “be humble” from others to be ironic because how self- important do you have to be to tell somebody else to “be humble.” However, recently I’ve gained a new understanding of the word humble and the second definition I’ve provided. Now when I think of humility I think of the problems that I face in life and how insignificant they are. I’ll give you an example.

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It’s Friday at my job and my Aunt Flo has come into town (TMI, sorry not sorry). My body is aching. I go to play a game with the kids at work and I break a nail and on top of that I still have 2 and a half hours of work left. I already declare this as the worst Friday ever. I get asked to stay 15 mins after work even though I’ve been counting down the minutes for the last hour. I stay. It’s 15 after and I could only clock out sooner if I could fly or teleport from one room to the next. Finally I’m free. I get home and I notice my mom’s purse and everything on the dining room table. This is strange considering she usually isn’t off from work until 3 to 5 hours from now. I rush to her room to ask her what’s wrong. She tells me my grandpa isn’t doing too well as she tries to fight her tears but they slowly fall down her face anyways.

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For those reading who aren’t familiar with my life this past year, back in October of last year I took an extended visit to Ohio to stay with my maternal grandpa. He was undergoing chemo and I was helping him out around the house whenever his pride would allow him to accept the help. When I left in December I thought he was doing better and healing. It turns out that is not the case. My mom and I have always shared the guilt of being 3,000 miles away from the rest of our family but hers runs deeper because she came here as an adult. I was only 6 years old when we moved here. I know she beats herself about it…daily. So in one moment I go from being upset my nail broke and I had to stay later at work to thinking about how is my mom going to handle her dad passing away? How are her sisters going to handle it? How am I going to handle losing the only grandpa I’ve known and loved since birth? Just when you think you and your problems are important…you learn there are always worse problems tip-toeing around the corner. This how life will humble you.

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Don’t get me wrong, it would not be humanly possible for us to never bitch & moan about life’s minor inconveniences ever again but at the same time some things are just not the end of the world and it’s important to keep that in perspective. This is something I’m still learning to do. I’m not ashamed to admit that. So while I’ve always been someone to say that another person could never humble me, the universe certainly can. It might be important for me to get reacquainted with the word humble. The connotations it’s always had in my mind are not the only meanings of the word. As I mentioned earlier one definition of humble is “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance” and I suppose this doesn’t only apply to us as people but also our problems. It’s so cliché but as they say “life can always be worse” so learn to find the blessing in the minor inconveniences. I had to stay later at work but it shows my dedication to my job, how much I care, and proves I’m reliable. I broke a nail so now I have to go get it replaced and get to choose a new color. These are some examples on how to turn annoying occurrences to something to positive. So this is how I will be reacquainted with the word humble and I suggest others do the same.

The Year of No: Prioritizing Myself Over the Comfort of Others

When I was a young child I used to adore reading. I breezed through everything from the Junie B. Jones series to The Babysitter’s Club and whatever else I could get my hands on. Once I graduated and had more free time, I promised myself I would read more. I did but I felt like it wasn’t enough which lead another goal being established in my plan for a great new year. This upcoming year I plan to read two books a month. I had heard great things about the book “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes so I added it to my list of books to read before 2017 ended. Now I haven’t read the book just yet but based on the title I believe the book will be about saying yes to experiences or things that one would typically say no to in order to live a more exciting life. I do believe that everyone should get out of their comfort zone every once and while and say yes to non-harmful new experiences (I say non-harmful because I don’t care how many self-development books I read, if you offer me a line of coke in the bathroom at True North I’m going to say “No Thanks!”) However, what happens when you begin to say yes so often that your ability to say no is obsolete?

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I’m someone who struggles with saying no to people especially my loved ones and people I care about. At different parts of my life this has led me to be exhausted 90% of the time and always dragging myself to complete some task I don’t want to do, a night out on the town when I’d rather stay home, or any other thing I committed to when I knew I shouldn’t have. With a half-assed presence I would count down the seconds, minutes, hours, until I was able to go home. 80% of the time I would regret leaving my house and the 20% of the time I would actually end up enjoying myself never made up for the majority of the time I was not feeling it. I usually ended up feeling overbooked, tired, and regretful.

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This need to say yes to everyone and my fear of letting people down is one of my more stressful flaws. Combine this with my FOMO (fear of missing out) and I was always out doing something and really never had time to myself. “I’m everywhere and nowhere all at once” I would say half-jokingly because the times I was somewhere about a quarter way through I would be thinking about the next obligation I had on my never ending to-do list.I remember back in undergrad I would swear “once I graduate I’m only doing things EYE want to do and never being pressured into attending something I didn’t want to.” *Cue laughter from the studio audience* I know, it’s a funny joke. I still struggle with saying no to people. I still struggle with overbooking myself and making commitments I immediately regret but my being a person of my word gets in the way of me backing out. This is why I take the commitments I make so seriously because I know once I say I’m going to do something, I mean it and will not be able to back out of it.

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So help me God, I have to learn how to do this now. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t just be shooting people down left and right and become completely selfish. Often times that is impossible simply because of our obligations to family, our employers, organizations, or whomever. I will, however, decide the pros and cons of things that are optional before I commit to them and at some point learn how to say no without feeling guilty. That’s my right. Often times in society we are made to believe that being selfish or looking out for one’s self is wrong. It’s not. If you don’t look out for you, who will? I think it takes a certain level of emotional intelligence to be able to recognize that we can’t do everything for everybody and ourselves which is why it probably took me this long to realize it. While saying yes to new experiences is a great way to live our lives and grow, it also takes growth to realize you can’t drag yourself to everything and put yourself last. At some point, we have to strive for balance and equilibrium in our lives and manage our yes’s and our no’s accordingly.

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Have you ever struggled with telling people no or that you didn’t want to do something? How did you manage to convince yourself it was okay to say no? How did you fight the urge to explain why? Sound off in the comments!

The Reasons Why I’ve Already Finished Planning My New Year’s Resolutions in November and Why You Should Do the Same

If you’ve spent a decent amount of time on social media over the last few years I’m sure you’ve stumbled upon the typical end-of-the-year Facebook statuses, Instagram captions, and tweets that start coming around this time of the year, EVERY year. You know the ones I’m talking about “New Year, New Me!” and “Next year is going year is going to be MY YEAR!” Depending on who is saying those statements you miiiight believe them or (more often than not) you roll your eyes to the back of your head and think “yeah…sure.” Many people meet these statements with contempt and thoughts similar to “You didn’t accomplish anything the last three years; what makes you think next year is going to be any different?” or my personal favorite “Why wait for the New Year to make a change? Just do it now!” What do I think? I think there is a gray area that needs to be explored when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions and everything surrounding them.

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As you can tell by the title of this post, I completely believe in New Year’s Resolutions and people striving to become better people and achieve various goals as the years go on. However, I do believe that in order for people to be successful in achieving their goals and sticking to their resolutions we must think of them way before December 30th or 31st and maybe even before the month of December even begins. I was listening to an old episode of one of my favorite podcasts “Behind the Brilliance” from Lisa Nicole Bell and she was talking about getting a running start on the New Year in the end of September/early October. While I did love that episode (as well as the whole podcast in general), I don’t necessarily believe that you are doomed to failure if you didn’t start planning your New Year goals, plans, and resolutions by the end of September. You can still be successful if you sit down, reflect, analyze, and come up with your plans by the end of November.

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Many of you are probably reading this and thinking “Well thanks Mara that only gives us a mere few DAYS to get to our $#!+ together. Well, I apologize but you’ll be happy to know working on timing of blog entries is one of my many resolutions, haha. Your next thought might be something along the lines of “Why must we have it all sorted by the end of November?” I’m going to tell you why. In my opinion, by mid-November enough of the year has gone by and we have endured enough failures (and hopefully successes as well) that we can accurately reflect and analyze on our year, patterns, and behaviors to see what worked, what didn’t, and what we need to avoid completely in the following year. If you are able to solidify your New Year’s Resolutions and Goals by the end of November you can get your trial and error out of the way without making yourself feel hopeless in the New Year.

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Whenever I try to make resolutions there are quite often times that I make them without the realistic expectation that changing my habits overnight will be extremely hard…if not damn near impossible. Making our New Year’s Resolutions randomly a day or two before without giving it much thought, we don’t allow ourselves enough time to work out the kinks through trial and error that is needed ultimately to make a lifestyle change. If we were to spend the month of November reflecting, brainstorming, and analyzing we will be more likely to succeed because we have already invested so much time in and developed attachments to these resolutions and goals. I have a personal example from late last year and early this year to prove my point. One New Year’s Resolution in particular which is a popular and very common one was “to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.” While I was successful in losing weight over the course of this year, I could have been even more successful if I had already started thinking about it prior to December. I wasn’t able to actually establish a successful routine until mid-February if not almost the end of February. I think by not reflecting on WHY I wanted to lose weight (besides superficial reasons like I want to be sexy by my graduation) and not giving myself time to adjust my lifestyle accordingly, I had already set myself to go into the New Year without any momentum and no plan for success. Luckily for me, I didn’t let my lack of success in January discourage me. However, this is not always the case for many people.

So how exactly does one come up with their New Year’s Resolution in November and make sure they achieve their goals in the upcoming year? Since I barely dropped this news on y’all with a week left in November, I’ll give you a condensed step by step guide.

  1. Reflect on the past year: What did you do well this previous year? What areas could use improvement? It’s sometimes easier if you do it month by month if you don’t know where to start.
  2. Create a list of your Goals and then your Resolutions: Base these on your previous answers to the question “What areas could use improvement?” First make a list of goals and then make resolutions that would be needed to achieve each goal.
  3. Analyze them and discover your why: Are all of your resolutions truly important to you? Are any of them superficial and based on how others perceive you rather than how you truly are? Why are these your resolutions and goals? How would your life look like if you didn’t achieve them?
  4. Edit your list: Make sure everything on your list is for you to achieve things that are based on yourself and your happiness alone. You want to make sure they will give you a truly fulfilling life and not just a life that looks good on the outside. WRITE THEM DOWN.
  5. Plan, Plan, PLAN: What resources do you need to establish the necessary habits for you to be successful? Break each resolution down to monthly check-ins that will allow you to track your progress.
  6. Act on them now: Decide which resolutions you can start on now so you can get the kinks and bumps in the road out of the way now. WRITE THIS DOWN TOO.
  7. Be accountable: Stick to your resolutions once the year begins! You have spent too much time on them so far to just leave them abandoned.

There you go! Less than 10 steps will help you on your way to having a successful and life-changing year. After you finish reading this blog entry, walk away from your computer screen, put your phone down, and get to work! January 1st will be here before we know and it and I MEAN…you don’t want to be the person in the same spot 365 days from now. Answer the following questions in the comments to get your brain working towards these steps!

What is one area of your life you hope to work towards and experience improvement in the New Year? What is one goal you hope to accomplish by this time next year?