Birthday, Musing, personal, reflection

Little moments: Shared Birthdays

So as my blog expands and grows, I’d like to start doing more organized series. For the last month I’ve currently been brainstorming interesting topics that can continue indefinitely. With that, I’m proud to present, “little moments”, my attempt at capturing those moments that are all too fleeting.

Today is my birthday and it got me thinking, what is it that makes birthdays so great? Personally, the older I get, the less the allure presents have on me. Gifts are just objects and the best gifts are the ones that create memories. This is part one of this post. The simple act of sharing your birthday with others. To make plans and spend your time with good company. A few years ago my roommates baked me a cake and I almost cried at the thought of it. It was the best birthday I ever had and it was the kick-off to one of the best years of my life. Come last year my birthday was spent in Switzerland and that was an absolute blast. Little did I know the girls I went on the trip with would become good friends and my travel buddies for my time abroad.

Now come this year. My birthday has snuck up on me. I’m back in Portland for the first time in 5 years. Corvallis, Oregon has been my home, then Mosbach, Germany. It has been a long time since I’ve called Portland home. Most of my friends are in college or 8000km (about 5000 miles) away and spread across the globe. It’s hard to keep connected. As much as I’d love to say I’ll keep in touch with everyone, it simply isn’t practical. Life is full of tough choices.

So as you can imagine, I was a little nervous come today. While I don’t mind being alone, life is better in good company. And I was shocked that last week, at simply the mention of my birthday, my friends without hesitation were willing to drop what they’re doing to help celebrate my birthday with me. And as I imagine, this will be my best birthday yet.


Now, part two. Part two is simply sharing the same birthday with another human being; it’s a weird sensation. It is something you never really think about. Most of the time we are so focused on our big day that we simply forget about other people.

When I was in Germany there was another student who had the same birthday as me. The class sang happy birthday not to one, but two people. That’s awesome! When you think about the odds of having the same birthday as someone and actually meeting that person and becoming friends with them, it’s rare. As such, it should be something special. Now I’m on a mission to find someone who was born in 1993 and on September 16th because why not? Regardless, the point is, there is an instant connection when someone has the same birthday as you! Some people suck at finding ice breakers. Well guess what? This is an instant icebreaker! It’s fun.


Birthdays are meant to be shared in the company of others. Everyone deserves to be wished a happy birthday. Birthdays are a time to catch up, reminisce, and plan for the future. Some people dredge getting older but I say bring it on! I am 24 years old today and the 5 year plan I set when I was 20 is almost in need of an update. Time flies, so on this special day, I’d like to thank everyone who’s made my life a little brighter. Especially you, my followers. Blogging has been my passion for years but it wouldn’t be possible without your support. Every like, every follow, every comment has put a smile on my face and made me realize we are never truly alone, we just need to know where to look.

Musing, Tips and Tricks

The rule of simple

Over the course of 5 years at Oregon State University, I developed the rule of simple. It’s the idea that you can boil down most ideas, most tasks, to their core essence. That is, the main meaning. It revolves around the idea of asking the question “why” as often as you can and “beginning with the end in mind” taken straight from Stephen Covey’s 7 habits. Once I embraced this mindset, all else became, for lack of a better word, simpler.

What is the rule?

The rule, as mentioned above, is simple. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with a task, simply ask why you’re doing the task and what you want to get out of that task. That’s step 1. You then write down two to three main objectives (step 2). Once you ask the why, you then simply ask the how. And from the two to three bullet points (main objectives) you made, you can write two to three (or more, even less, it really doesn’t matter so long as you have a base) quantitative ideas for each of the three objectives. That’s step 3 and then you’re done.

Does it work?

Yes. Take my blog for example, I use the rule of simple for writing. I’ve always struggled with focus and for me, this was the missing piece of the puzzle. If I find myself becoming overwhelmed, this is what I fall back on. It has not failed me yet. Sometimes less is more. If I go on a date, I can use the rule of simple. Step 1 in that situation is understand the other person, so I start the date with listening. Step 2 involves relating my interests to hers. Questions like, “what makes me interesting?” (humor, intelligence, openness). From there I can talk about speaking German, how I got kicked out of Oktoberfest, etc. (step 3). As you can imagine, the rule of simple works because it forces you to focus.

Why use the rule?

I will say this about the rule; it does not make the world any less complicated. So what does it do? It creates a filter. The appeal of the rule is that, depending on the situation, you may not have to use all the steps. If I say “love yourself”, that doesn’t always need a why. If people ask, I can go through the steps. I can have a thousand different simple rules and use them at a moments notice. The rule “two people can both be right” has served me well or “smile more”. Easy, simple, and you’d be amazed with how much they accomplish. Instead of being paralyzed with how big the world is, now you have a way to simplify it.


Thanks for reading! I have a lot of great ideas for upcoming posts. If you have any topics you’d like me to cover, just let me know! I’ve spent 5 years studying business and the Human Psyche. My topics are meant to inform and spark the creative bug, so if you have a question that needs an answer, I can try my best! Feel free to comment and share!

Musing, reflection

The curious case of Michael Cole: A tale into the art of being stuck

So it’s time for my evolution. Like a Pokémon, I’ve leveled up enough to become someone else, something else. But what is that something? That’s what we’re going to explore today because as of right now, I’m stuck and yet I’m free. If I were to take from 1984, I would call this doublethink, the idea that I can be two seemingly contradictory things at the same time. I got my degree and my tunnel vision has been lifted. And while I’m happy right now, I’m not satisfied, I’m not fulfilled. Call it a quarter life crisis where I must choose my future. I have knowledge yet I don’t know where to apply it. Call this my therapy, writing words on paper (so to speak). A public brainstorm if you will.

Goals

What goals do I have? As a newly graduated college student, it’s tough. I was so eager to hit the reset button that I didn’t realize what that meant. It’s one thing to think, it’s a whole different story to live. My goals, as ambitious as they have been, have been achieved and now I can create a set of new goals, both short term and long term. Short term is easy, catch up on Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. But long-term? Oh my, that’s much tougher. I think my main issue is assembling my team, my inner circle if you will. My most trusted, most competent friends that will follow me as I build my empire. I never thought I’d achieve independence yet here I am. The problem is now I must seek interdependence. The collaboration of brilliant minds, to create ideas that I cannot even fathom at this moment. That is the dream, yet how do I get there, that is the question. This is a new challenge. A college degree was the ticket to my future and now that I have that ticket, now I have to figure out what train to board. Sales, marketing, management, research, writing; I want to do it all. Yet how? I am great at answering the “why” yet the “how” is always something I’ve struggled with. I want stability yet I also want the unpredictable, the exciting moments that come from branching out.

Can we have it all?

I believe the answer to this question is yes. That’s the “why”, the question is the “how”. And it is OK to say I don’t know but personally I like shortcuts. People say there are no shortcuts in life yet that’s not entirely true. We have so much information at our disposal that answers are simply a google search away. Yes, you’ll still need to work for what you want, but we save a lot of time nowadays with our connected world. So this is an exploration topic. If we can have it all, what are the right questions? Depends on the situation. Yet there has to be a standard and with all the books I’ve read, I still haven’t found a universal law or standard. Yet this is the wild west, the exploration of the human mind. Understanding what makes us human. So what does? Love, human connection. That’s all fine and dandy yet it’s easy to implement. It’s a necessity, not a solution. Altruism? Giving more to others than you give to yourself? Noble, but unfortunately is not a philosophy that will lead to long-term happiness. Creativity? Yes, perhaps, but how? People say creativity is lost and yet I don’t think that to be true. I believe creativity to be ever present and that people have simply closed their minds (whether knowingly or not). So let’s start there for the rules to set in place.

The Rules

And perhaps the rules don’t have to be in chronological order. So how does one spark creativity? I recently experienced burnout. I love learning so I didn’t think one was possible for me. Yet towards the end of College, I couldn’t seem to keep myself engaged. I was successful and it bored me, who would’ve thought? And now I search for more answers. The creativity question just recently popped into my head. That perhaps my problem isn’t in what I can do but rather in the fact that my mind is dry. Interesting concept. At this point I would be considered incredibly smart, handsome, and funny (sarcasm, I’m not that much of an egomaniac) and yet it’s not enough. Why? The creativity, or diversity of ideas problem. If you keep achieving you have to constantly improve otherwise you risk being trapped in The Void. You reach a new level of being and if you cannot stretch the mind, you cannot innovate and you cannot create. The solution? The rules? Oh, that is the question! And I’d say it’s as simple as acknowledging this fact. That creativity is always there and that all you simply have to do is take the plunge, the Great Dive. And that you do not dive once but you keep diving until the day you die for once you fear the plunge… Then you cease to live and forever remain in The Void…


Thanks for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed my musing and exploration in today’s post! As far as the coming weeks, months, etc. I am looking for ideas. Eventually I want to have a team of writers but for now it is still just I, with all the intimacy you’ve come to expect. In the next week or two I might start pumping out reviews and recommendations or I may not. I need to refine my writing process and I’m starting to develop systems to do so. Expect better content as the blog grows and I’m glad you could join me on this journey! Questions, thoughts, ideas? Feel free to post below!

journey, Musing, Tribute

Journey’s End Week 7: What’s Next?

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare


One month. As such, I feel it is time to talk about the future. And yet, how? It is rare that I find myself saying “I don’t know” and without a plan to find the answer. I seek answers that don’t yet exist. For all my wisdom I cannot escape the uncertainty of the unknown, the chaos of life. My entire college career has been finding ways to expedite growth. I’ve read book after book, performed task after task, with the goal of always moving forward. And yet now I stand. Where once any path would do, I now see many paths, each of which leads to its own rewards. And there in lies the problem. It’s not a problem of lack of choice but rather that there are too many choices… And perhaps more so, the crippling fear that if I chose one, a door closes, locked, never to be open again. What was once clear is now not so certain.

Any port in a storm will do… Life is a storm. From the day we are born till the day we die we are swept up in its majesty. Every storm has an eye and it is through that eye that we can see what might be safe harbor. In the far distance you see a lighthouse, its shining beacon beckoning for you to follow… Yet what do you do when you see thousands of different lighthouses? In one journey I see myself going back to Germany and traveling around the world for the next decade. Another I see myself climbing the corporate ladder with the hope of one day being a CEO. Another starting my own company. And another writing a book.


This week I decided to tackle this question head on. This is the end of my College journey… College is a time to invest in yourself and that I’ve done. One of my greatest investments has been in spending time with my professors and the College of Business advisers. I used to force myself to go and talk to professors, back when I couldn’t hold a conversation. And over the years I’ve come to internalize the advice my professors gave me. Yet what advice is there to give when you know yourself? When I was a Freshman it was easy. Any advice would do. I had an idea what success was and I would simply listen. Whatever my professors/advisers told me, i’d do. At the time it didn’t seem like much. I went in not because I necessarily sought knowledge but rather simply because I wanted someone to talk to. There’s something comforting in listening to someone who has achieved mastery… A voice of reason in a world of chaos…

So the questions I asked when I went in this last week were “are you happy” and “do you have any regrets”? The overarching theme was “why”? “How do you know”? This was not so much a time to ask how best to live my life but rather to listen to stories. Imagine the future as a painting. A masterpiece has  many layers. Some use broad strokes while others paint with excruciating detail. Both are beautiful and while they serve the same purpose (expression), each is distinctly unique. That is life. A splash of color here, a splash of color there… What might look like chaos to some may hold beauty to others…

Perhaps the most powerful insight from talking one last time to my professors was that I do not necessarily have to choose. That I could be a CEO, travel, and write. While not a profound insight, I’ve often found that it is the simplest of things that make for great life philosophies. As much as I love to go with the flow and keep an open mind, I also like to nudge myself in the right direction. It can be easier to think it is this or that,  but life of course is never that simple…


A Proper Goodbye

As this chapter of my life closes and I begin a new chapter, I’ve been taking time to be grateful for the life I’ve lived. I’ve been taking long walks around campus and have taken a lot of time to reflect on my experience as a whole. I’ve learned to simply live in the moment and not let my past or future consume me. I’ve never been great with goodbyes so in general I avoid them. When my Aunt was diagnosed with cancer years ago I always thought that she would beat it. I watched from a distance as her health deteriorated and always smiled at the fact that despite the cancer, she always made sure everyone around her felt loved. She is the reason my family is so close and my time spent with her are some of my most cherished memories. The last few years of her life, when she was really sick, I refused to go see her in the hospital. Instead I’d have my Mom tell her what I was doing. It was easier than facing the reality of the situation. I remember praying and having the utmost faith in God that he would heal and make her better. I was angry when it seemed like the rest of the family had given up, that somehow by going to the hospital they didn’t believe she would recover… I would pray harder… Perhaps it was naive to think… Nothing prepares you for death… And of course I remember the night we received the phone call that my Aunt had passed away… It felt like a bad dream…

Then came the memorial service… I wasn’t quite sure how to react. I kept my head down and avoided eye contact. It was easier. I remember feeling shame, that tinge of guilt that came with not going to the hospital to say a proper goodbye. And yet my last memory of my Aunt will always be that of going to the zoo, a little before she passed. I don’t regret my decision as I’d rather celebrate her life and while I can’t say for certain that seeing her barely able to move, barely able to talk and in pain in a hospital bed would tarnish my memory of her, I’m glad that’s not my last memory of her. I tried to take the best of her and live my life in accordance. For me, that was her positive attitude, to look at a situation and find the good rather than the bad. And that was her message at the memorial service. Before she died, she had recorded a message telling us to smile, that her pain was over and that she was in Heavens Kingdom now. While I don’t remember the exact words I still remember that moment…

Last year I was the Service Chair for my Fraternity. One of our last events for the year was Relay for Life. We raised Hundreds of dollars and had an outstanding member turnout. I wanted to pay tribute to my Aunt then but it just didn’t feel right. Like I said, I’ve never been great with goodbyes. So come this year, I made it my goal that no matter what, I’d pay tribute to my Aunt. To find the perfect way to express my love and do a proper goodbye. And while we had fewer members this year and even fewer come to the ceremony, it was a special moment that I’m glad I got to share with a friend. It was the first time I’ve talked about my Aunt since her death. The mood was somber when we had the luminaria ceremony. We listened to a 17 year old cancer survivor and then heard some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard in my entire life. After that we walked around, looking at the different tributes people had written for their loved ones. And after we found mine, my friend left and I took one final lap, stopping to say a proper goodbye before heading out into the night…

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That’s a wrap! Thanks for reading!

love, Musing

Journey’s End Week 4: Baby Don’t Hurt Me

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” -Abraham Lincoln


So, my 69th post on WordPress… What better topic than love? Love is a complicated subject. Part of my goal for this series is to express some of my vulnerabilities, something I’ve never bothered with the entirety of my college experience. I see vulnerability as a weakness, something for people to use and exploit. I’ve spent the longest time learning to love myself and in order to express vulnerability, you must first build yourself up otherwise you’ll be crushed into oblivion.

If I had touched these topics years ago, I would’ve been labeled a social outcast, a loser. Not that it would make that much of a difference because people just saw that kid who played too many video games. When I would have a conversation, it’d most likely be about video games and people would say, “oh, that’s cool” and then walk away. I never fully embraced who I was and that’s a mistake I hope you don’t have to repeat. Whatever you like, be proud of it and love it. Life is too short to care about what other people think… Ah, If only it were that simple… And especially when it comes to love.

Love is all you need

So as I will emphasize throughout my posts, I have changed a lot since I’ve gotten to college. And I’ve more or less seen it all. I suppose I’ve always had a vision, some distant mountain that others can’t see. And I’ve been a hopeless romantic since day one. My love life has seen more mistakes than it has ever seen successes. I’ve stumbled, fallen, and then love has beaten me with a stick and not in a fun way. But I’ve learned, I’ve evolved. Each time my heart has been torn out and shattered, I’ve taken notes. It’s never been what they did wrong, it’s always been what can I do better? Don’t underestimate the power of theory. I have been mocked for waiting so long to date and yet… When I do, I understand. And I’ve gotten, well, let’s just say I’ve gotten some interesting results. Dating should be fun, not stressful. And if a woman (or whatever rocks your boat) gives you that sweet siren call, strategize. Do you know how ship captains died? They followed the Sirens calls into rocks or got dragged into the depths of the Big Blue. Don’t be that person, I’ve learned this the hard way. Even if a girl is rubbing against you, violating you, and doing God knows what, don’t fall for the trap. Instead pull out your notebook. Why? Because one day you will have control. I’ve spent years reprogramming who I was only to have that thrown out the window every time a cute girl locked eyes with mine.

People are…

Shitty. Sorry to offend, but it’s true. I will say, while good intentioned, peoples actions don’t necessarily reflect what they say (or believe). If you don’t believe me, just look around. It’s not hard to find. People over commit and then fail everyone. People have an issue with saying no, they say maybe instead. Yes and no are much simpler. Instead, you have to play the courting game. And especially in college, it’s a free-for-all. Friends turn against friends and what was once true now isn’t. Those who seal the deal have to fight and all I have to say is, “does the end justify the means”? And I should add; if you’ve won the battle, that does not mean you’ve won the war. You must be constantly improving otherwise the relationship will stagnate and wither. Maybe you get lucky, maybe you find your true love in pre-school or whatever fairy tale you live in.  For the rest… You’re in the trenches only to realize you’re fighting a pointless war. The greatest tragedy of this conflict is time. There is only one person you need to love and that’s yourself. Spend time with yourself in the mirror, smile and remember how great you are.  Having someone to cuddle with is great, but it is not an end all, be all.

How am I still single?

The question that must keep many up at night (so I like to think). The answer is quite simple. By choice. I like myself and don’t want to share. I’ve always waited for the right girl to come along and by the time I had the social skills to woo the ladies, it happens to be my last term of college. Most find love their first few years of college and in a sense I did. My only focus was to love myself and I accomplished that. Like I’ve said before, time is the most valuable resource we have and I spent almost all of it on myself. So if you’re ever worried about finding love, don’t be. Just enjoy the present moment and blaze your own trail. If you’re always moving forward, you’ll have no need to look back. Thanks for reading!


Feel free to share any stories below! Nothing to crazy though, at the end of the day I still have to keep this blog somewhat professional.

Advice, College, Musing

Journey’s End: A Journey worth a thousand words

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt


When we reach the end of our journey and look back, what do we see? Are we kept up at night tossing and turning, mulling over what could’ve been? Or do we remember what was, as adventures turn to memories? Do we ask ourselves if we’ve lived true to ourselves or do we envy that which we do not have? When we dream do we dream of distant mountains or do we dream of valleys far below? When we wake, do we wish we were dreaming? When we look in the mirror, do we see our shattered reflection or do we see ourselves as if for the first time?


Once upon a dream

Yesterday after class I decided to go for a walk. I’ve been walking a lot lately. This time it was back to the beginning, where college began for me; McNary dorms. It’s been years since I’ve made my way over to that side of campus and a part of me misses it. The sheer simplicity of Freshman year, when nobody expected anything of me. I went to class, ate, and spent a lot of time in my room. I didn’t have many friends but the friends I did have, we’d meet up, play poker, watch walking dead every Sunday night; it was fun. A lot of my time  was spent just trying to find my way in the world. I was quiet, awkward and not at all confident. My solace was playing video games. Video games told stories and were the only thing I truly felt I was good at. I liked reading but always felt self-conscious as throughout elementary and middle school I was always forced to read books that didn’t interest me. Classes bored me and as such I always fell behind. When it came to classes, I was always living in someone else’s shadow. My parents always hounded my brother for getting poor grades so I always felt the need to try extra, extra hard. The irony is, that because I tried so hard, I became my own worst enemy. Had I just been focused on myself, I could’ve easily been one of the best students, the one who gets “most likely to succeed” in the year book. Instead I tried to imitate my brother and live in his shadow, always reaching, but never achieving. The best part? My parents took a softer approach for me. They simply said, “do your best” which I interpreted as “We don’t care”…

So come college, this trend continued, except with one key difference, I didn’t have my brother to compare myself to. My brother spent a year at Southern Oregon, a few terms at PCC, and then he dropped out. I was on my own. It wasn’t Jack did this or Jack did that. It was Mike and only Mike. I always thought my brother should’ve been the one to graduate, that I wasn’t worth it. Then I started becoming worth it.

The College of Business

I knew I couldn’t survive in Engineering. I knew my field had to be either psychology or business. I started out as an engineer because I thought that’s what I ought to do, not what I was meant to do. Perhaps in another life, under different circumstances… But I don’t think people realize how volatile I was when I first got to college. Yes I’ve always been sweet, but what is sweet can also be bitter. Emotional stability is something I’ve struggled with for the longest time. When there’s poison in the heart, there’s poison in the heart. Very few have seen me lose my composure and  fewer have seen me loose my temper. This used to be my every day. Few realize what it’s like to be on the brink of insanity until they’re there. To be wrapped in a blanket of your delusions until you’ve warped reality so far that it begins to snap. To teeter on the edge of meltdowns and having nowhere to go as the walls close in. So people ask why I chose management and I ask, “what choice did I have”? Managers are professional relationship builders. They understand the needs of people and work towards common goals. Managers not only manage others, they manage themselves.

When people think business, they often think there is a separation between personal and professional. What they fail to realize is it’s often a beautiful blend. I’d go to class, learn, and then apply. I kept an open mind and I was just happy to be learning as much as I could while I was able. Bacc Core, pre-business, I loved it all. Since day one I have loved being a management major. And perhaps this is because it was my first taste of control, what it felt like to have some semblance of balance and stability. And the more I learned, the more I became. And while it started with classes, it has gone well beyond that point. I’ve read over a dozen business related books. “7 habits for highly effective people” became my bible. I lived by that book. It taught me what I should be and gave me the road-map to get there.  “How to win friends and influence people” became the icing on the cake, teaching technique rather than guiding.

A House of Engineers

For two years I had perhaps the greatest roommates and some of my best friends. I found a group of individuals more awkward than myself at the time, so I fit right in. Engineers play video games and I played video games, so it was a good fit. Better, they were Computer Science majors, who make Civil Engineers seem like excellent communicators. Jokes aside (although I never heard the end of business major jokes) if there’s a group of individuals that have been there to shape my future, it’s these guys. Engineers, for better or worse, are blunt. If you do something that does not make logical sense, like show emotion for example, they will call you out on this fallacy. So many questions… “Why are you angry?”, “Why are you sad”? Or statements… Mostly, “that’s stupid” or “That makes no sense”… It was wonderful. They were there for the majority of my transformation. Day by day, step by step… Sometimes I like to ponder who I’d be if I never met these fine individuals and I can honestly say I don’t think I’d be the same. They met me back when I thought I was a monster, that if I told people who I really was, they’d turn their back on me and run. And yet they didn’t. When I finally did reach my tipping point, they were there to support rather than shun. And that shattered my delusion…

A Fitting End

That’s it for this week. I’ll expand more on these ideas in the coming weeks, as I work towards telling my personal story. This week was more a taste and I have plenty more stories to share. Next week will be a tale of love, as I talk about my thoughts on relationships from an analytical and anecdotal perspective. Get excited and thanks for reading!


Feel free to comment and share below.

Advice, Musing

Journey’s End: David Vs. Goliath

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain


The story of the underdog. The idea of whether or not you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. Our greatest strengths often become our greatest weaknesses. The more resources we have at our disposal, past a certain point, can often lead to our downfall. Everyone seeks power yet so few know how to wield it once they have it. And even fewer realize that true power is having power and choosing when and when not to use it. It is a balancing act between strength and compassion. There are times to be strong and times to be vulnerable.

It is easy to get caught up in success just as much as it’s easy to get caught up in failure. People who taste victory want more and those who taste defeat want less. The strong tend to trample the weak and people can be poison. Or the weak can act strong and grow bitter as they claw their way to the top, becoming the very evil they sought to stop.

The lonely road

We, as humans, have a tendency to follow those who are similar. Those who are not like us get left behind. The people who need love the most are often those who do not receive and those who need the least often receive the most. If one cannot communicate, weave words into a story, then one cannot be. Everyone roots for the underdog and yet… It is very rare that an underdog succeeds. Those who do, become Goliath, yet those who don’t become dust. So in a sense, it’s a rare perspective and one I’m willing to share.

The lonely mountain

Climbing mountains aren’t easy and I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve had just trying to stay alive. College is a time of great excitement yet it can also be a time for great disappointment. And all too often, the experiences build and what once seemed manageable becomes an avalanche.  You’re buried and can’t breathe. You’re trapped. You can dig your way out or you can suffocate. The bright side of moments like these? You have time to reflect. To look yourself in the mirror, and ask, “is this who I want to be”? And for a brief moment you see a better tomorrow, then fear takes over. The, “what if” question. So what do you do? You close your eyes. There is comfort in consistency and there is uncertainty in chaos. Yet few see comfort in consistent chaos. Which there isn’t, so the underdog turns their back on reality and nothing is gained.

My story? I’ve said it enough times and while I could say it over again, with different wording, I won’t. My story is a complex blend much like yours and whatever narrative I once had, I’ve reshaped by not letting others write it. It’s all relative. Hardship to one is a stroll through the park to another. Yet the point is, all that matters is your perspective. If you feel unheard, then you are unheard. And if the other person feels unheard, then they are unheard. The simple solution? Listen. “Seek first to understand, then be understood”. There’s been a common theme since I’ve got to college and that’s been, “Wow, Mike’s such a great listener”. Disclaimer: I wasn’t for the longest time.

Two Ears, One Mouth

Listening is hard and those with the biggest mouths often don’t listen. People love the loudest person in the room. In college people think that automatically makes you the coolest person in the room. But more often than not, those individuals are Assholes.  The best part? Those Assholes don’t even realize they’re Assholes. They rationalize their behavior instead of taking a good look in the mirror. And the worst part? People want to be them. Why? Humans have an innate need to connect and be loved, so it only makes sense. The consequence? People spend a lifetime trying to be something they’re not. The coolest person some might consider a Goliath. And as a Goliath, it is far too easy to overlook the underdog.

Open Mind, Open Door

All too often individuals are closed minded, “I’m right, you’re wrong”. How many times do you ask, “I’m right and you’re also right”. This is not a difficult concept. I like cake and you can also like cake. Yet in practice? A disaster. Yes people are wrong, that’s reality but all too often people refuse to see another point of view. People are stubborn. And what’s worse, is few people find beauty in the differences. There is no reason to talk to anyone if all they do is agree. People grow when they are challenged and while agreeing may reaffirm your values and build confidence, it is disagreement that leads to the best insight. College is a time to challenge and not be a “Yes man”. On the flip side, don’t be an Asshole. Take politics for example. I can say I think Donald Trump is a terrible person and think he represents the worst of America. That’s fine, that’s an opinion. Yet on the flip side I can see why some of my friends can find him appealing and once again, that is their opinion. That’s called respect. See, simple. Is anyone upset? No. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone thought like this? Yet instead what you get is people pointing the finger instead of trying to understand the reasons why. Another question, “does it matter”? An open mind leads to asking the right question(s) and the best weapon against adversity is kindness.

Bringing it all together

So my idea for this series, “Journey’s End” is to provide a framework that I spent 5 years building for myself. Initially I thought I was simply going to talk about my week and have “Story Time”. But truth be told, I have my journal for that and while I still have crazy adventures, they don’t necessarily make for the best article. So as such, this series will be a random assortment of topics, some weeks giving advice, some weeks telling fun stories, and some weeks mixing the two together. This week I wanted to share my experience being an underdog as I am someone who should’ve dropped out of college long ago. So if there’s a take away, let it be this: If you feel alone, look in the mirror and remember that you will always have yourself, so remember to take care of yourself. If you want to connect with others, listen. And if you want to be understood, don’t be afraid to say how you feel (chances are the other person doesn’t realize you feel this way). And finally, don’t discredit others simply because they have a different opinion.


That’s it. Week 2 of my final term is done! If you have any topics you would like me to cover, now’s the time to ask. Thanks for reading and I hope you found the topic helpful!