Journey’s End: The End

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” – Bruce Lee


So the grand experiment is finally over. Next week I start my celebrations starting with the Management Club Banquet. The weeks following will be a College of Business banquet, an International Studies banquet and then graduation. As far as my College journey is concerned, this is crossing the finish line. It’s making sure my grades are sufficient, my assignments are done, and my debts are paid. So the question is, “how do I want this to end”? Writing every week is not an easy feat when you’re only one person and as much as I love writing, I think a proper break is in order.

The goal was to express my vulnerabilities and for the most part I accomplished that. To be honest, this was more of a personal assignment than anything else. To challenge myself one last time, to see if I could apply my strategies and use it to help rewrite my script. I’ve put up so many walls over the years, so this has helped some with easing my burden.

To tell a story… I’ve spent my entire College Career learning to weave stories, all in an effort to feel heard. This series in a sense has been a way for me to reconnect with my past self, that which I have spent a lifetime trying to bury. A farewell to the chaos, the crippling fear, and the darkness… Before this, my story was a jumbled mess. I have spent the last few years talking about my successes rather than failures, so it feels good to simply put it all on paper. Not in my journal but rather on the world stage…

Of course, this does not mean that I have simply wished away all that has happened. All I’ve done is face my demons. Of course there is one demon I didn’t talk about and as much as I wish I could talk about it now, I can’t. That’s a story for another day, perhaps another lifetime. For, as much as I tell, and as much as people would love to believe they know me, very few actually do. I wear many masks.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve worn a mask for to long… I’ve always been great at molding myself yet I’ve become unrecognizable. Who I once was I can barely remember… The more I change, the more I begin to shape my memories. What was once rotten is now ripe. And I have to wonder, where does it end? I love who I am yet that is the question. Who am I? As I’ve said, I see many doors. And I’m finally ready to pick one. With the end of College comes an end of an era. A degree is my Golden Ticket…

It is time to finally hit reset. I have no commitments, no obligations. I am finally free. If I choose Germany, so be it. If I choose Seattle, great. If I end up as Farmer Mike, hunky dory. Either way, I will finally be free. If I don’t like my job, I can quit. If I want to settle down, I’ll find a girl. My past will always follow me but now it will not define me. When I speak of the past, I can speak with confidence that it is not my future. For the first time in what feels like ages, I am finally happy. Truly happy. While I’m terrified and anxious, I’m also excited for what the future holds. I beat the odds. I didn’t become some statistic and fade away. I learned to love and to live. My present is now finally a gift. It’s no longer “let’s make it to tomorrow”, it’s “what can I do today”? Do you know what it’s like to smile after watching anger and sorrow erode your soul? It’s amazing. This has been a year of growth and while I thought I couldn’t top last year as “greatest year of my life”, I think I have. I am beyond grateful…

The End…

Thanks for joining me on this journey. It has meant a great deal just to express my last term of college on the world stage. I not only accepted my past through this series but have also embraced my future. More so, I was finally able to talk about my present. My College bucket list… One last bang before I turn the page to the next chapter. My time at College is at an end but with the death of an era comes the ushering in of a new one. My last item on my bucket list is to go to a little coffee shop I’ve walked past for the last 4 years… I’ve wanted to go in for the longest time but I’ve been waiting for the right moment… And I had always hoped I wouldn’t go alone.. Time is best spent with the company of others… And I’m glad I’ve spent the majority of my time in college in great company… My friends, my mentors… I love them all. I cut out the poisonous relationships in my life and saved the ones I could… I have few regrets… And a lot to smile about. So with that, cheers to the future!

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.

Let’s talk politics

 

While I can’t speak on behalf of other countries, I’ve spent 23 years of my life (minus 4 months) in the US. From the day I was born and hopefully not till the die, I have witnessed the volatile stigma that is US politics. Politics in the US isn’t rational, it’s emotional and therein lies the problem.

The Problem

The problem is simple, we don’t talk politics. I’ve spent 5 years in the college of business and it’s always the same story. I’ve invested a lot of time in my communication skills and one common theme is, “don’t talk politics”. Why? Because it’s a sensitive topic. Why is it a sensitive topic? Because we don’t have open discourse. See the paradox? And the same applies for the US as a whole. Instead of having open discussion about the political process, we judge and divide, we pick sides. Emotions run wild. It’s absolutely absurd and could easily be avoided with a simple concept, “don’t make it personal”. Instead, that’s all anyone ever does. It’s very common in the US when you meet for the holidays to avoid politics like the plague because once someone starts talking, usually the college students (good on us), we’re hounded by our older, “wiser” relatives. Or we simply make observations and we’re told that we’re wrong and that we should “read” more. Where’s the respect in that? Respect doesn’t go one way, it goes both ways. I truly believe the young can be just as wise, if not wiser than our older counterparts and yet are we treated as such? No, instead we are looked down upon. I’m not saying this is the case with every family, but it’s common enough to the point where it needs to be addressed. It’s culturally ingrained that we do not speak politics in the US! How insane is that? Where does it start? It starts with the family. Families have an obligation to teach the young to respect politics by understanding politics.

When I voted for the first time 4 years ago, I was so excited. To have the ability to influence democracy and vote based on policy. I respected Mitt Romney as much as I respected Obama. The discourse during the debates was civil and I could see both sides of the issues being addressed. At the end of the day, I chose Obama. Why? Because I liked his policies best. See? Does that seem so bad? Does that make you angry? No! How easy is that? That’s a very basic example, but it illustrates my point so well. But let’s add another element to the story, when I decided to talk about who I voted for to my family. The moment I said “Obama” it was over. It was all criticism. It was “Obama did this, Obama did that”, “Obama takes jobs away, he’s going to make it so difficult”. So what did I do after that? Did I talk more about politics with my family? No. I shut my mouth because it wasn’t a discussion, it was an argument. It’s absolutely disgusting that this is even an issue. And that it is so common. What’s worse is because a lot of people feel they can’t talk openly about politics with their family, they think this applies to the rest of life as well. Strangers, friends, etc. Where are the liberals and conservatives coming together, because right now it’s simply a free-for-all, with everyone pointing the finger. Well, I say enough is enough. So what then, is the solution?

The Solution

The solution is simple. And it is… Drum roll please. Open dialogue! Yes it starts with simply talking politics. But of course, you may be asking “How, where do I even begin”? Well, let me to tell you.

The How

  1. Listen – Yes listening is the first step. Hear what the other side has to say and go in with an open mind. Obviously you’re not going to agree on everything and that’s a good thing! If we always agreed, there’d be no reason to talk with anybody.
  2. Ask questions – What a novel concept! You’re confused on a point? Ask a question and keep digging, “seek to understand, then seek to be understood”. It’s not rocket science! Saying someone is wrong and you’re right will get you nowhere.
  3. Offer a new perspective – Expand on the questions! Ask follow up questions! Then offer your perspective! Chances are you’ll have a meaningful discussion and both parties will walk away happier.

So there you have it, we’ve taken a simple problem with a simple solution and made it overly complex. It’s time to change and that starts with the individual. If we want a better tomorrow, we have to fight for it today. So feel free to discuss, share, and re-post this article. Stay classy people.

German Culture: Food and drink

So, food.

The Bakery 

I’ve been going to a little bakery almost everyday for the past month. At first it was an easy way to get rid of my Euro cents, but it ended up turning into so much more. Not only was it a way to practice my German, bakeries in Germany are absolutely delicious. There are more options than you can imagine but as for me, I was happy getting the same thing every day. I would try to describe the schinken-käse, but I respect it too much and simply don’t have the vocabulary to put it into words. But I will say this; it was absolutely delicious. Anyways, bakeries are so much fun in Germany. This last weekend I decided to sit down and enjoy my meal inside. German culture is much more relaxed when it comes to eating meals and it was nice to just be able to sit down and enjoy my food without worrying about where I needed to be next. Speaking of which…

Cafes

While not as cherished as bakeries in my eyes, I still managed to visit a few cafes. More or less the same as bakeries, it was just really nice to sit and chat with friends. You can order coffee, beer, food, whatever. By United States standards every cafe would seem like you were sitting in a fancy restaurant but by European standards even the worst cafes are better than some of the best U.S cafes.

Food

I love German food! It’s absolutely delicious. If you’re thinking bread and sausage, you’d be correct. I’ve had a lot of bread since I came here and it’s tasted so good. Imagine the best piece of bread you’ve ever had. Got the image in your head? Good. It can’t even compare to German bread. Oh mein Gott, es ist super lecker (OMG, it’s super delicious). Soft when it needs to be or baked to perfection, I can’t even comprehend living without it (which I will have to do). And sausage, just wow. I love German sausage [insert childish joke here] and I will miss it as well. There’s so much variety in the types of sausages and while I haven’t been able to try them all, they’re my go to for dinner. Have some sausage with sauerkraut and bread and you’ll need nothing else while you live in Germany. Also add sauce, because Germans love their sauce and while I’ve never been able to figure out what’s in it, just know that all German sauce is delicious. I could stop here, but my goal is to educate you and educate you I shall. What else is there? There is schnitzel, which is breaded meat. How is it? Delicious. Then there is spätzle, which absolutely does not exist in the United States! The United States is a country of immigrants, so shame on us for losing our German heritage and not having spätzle. If I sound angry, I am. Anyway’s spätzle is a soft egg noodle that you’ll never understand unless you travel here, so just know it’s delicious. As far as other German food, there’s plenty more. But this is getting painful for me to write as it will be years before I’m back in Germany to be reunited with my one true love, delicious food. I will end with potatoes. This was the big shocker for me. I never expected Germans to have so many potato dishes. It’s absolutely amazing. I never realized how much you could do with a potato until I got over here. Potatoes were never my favorite in the U.S., but now… They say study abroad changes you and I don’t think it’s ever held truer.

Döner

Döner is special. If you’re craving your greasy fast food, this is as good as it gets. Primarily a Turkish dish, Döner can be found all over Europe. It’s pretty much a burger except with shaved meat. The meat hangs over a fire and the juices drip down. While still juicy, I personally like to believe it’s healthier than a burger.

Water

So water. In the United States water is everywhere. Go to a restaurant, water. Go outside, you have drinking fountains. In Germany? Nothing. I’ve only seen a water fountain once in the last 3 months and that was in Switzerland! You have to buy water in Germany. And what’s more, it’s carbonated. Is it as bad as it sounds? Actually, no. I almost cried when I got here because I was already overwhelmed and then I couldn’t find water, a basic necessity. But now, it’s not so bad. Water maybe costs 20 cents per bottle and you’re getting one and a half liters. As far as it being carbonated, I now like drinking carbonated water, so now when I get back to the U.S. I can fully enjoy Italian sodas and the sort (yay). If you can’t adjust to carbonated water, water comes in three forms in Germany: still, medium, and sparkling. So, relax, it’ll be alright. But I’ll be honest. Beer is cheaper in Germany than water, so…

Beer

I could’ve started with beer but then you wouldn’t have made it this far. So of course you’re wondering, “is it better than in the U.S.”? Yes, yes it is. Even the best Portland, Oregon beer (we have amazing beer, what can I say) can’t even compete with the worst German beer. There’s a lot of variety to German beer as well and I don’t want to say beer is what I’ll miss most about Germany, but… It’s so good. Paired with delicious food and there truly is heaven on Earth. Beer is why I know I’ll come back to Germany and why I have shifted my future career goals to include international business. It’s not the classes, not the amazing adventures I’ve been on, but the beer. Nothing will stop me… Nothing.

Glühwein

If you thought I was done, I’m not. Beer is great and will always hold a special place in my heart, but Glühwein… Served during the Christmas season, Glühwein is warm wine that one gets you really drunk really fast and two, tastes delicious. I’ve had wine in France but Glühwein is on a whole other level. Like everything else in Germany, it has a lot of variety and I’ve unfortunately run out of time to taste it all. My favorite however, is blueberry Glühwein, so my advice? Come to Germany for the beer, stay for the Glühwein.


One more thing…

Manners

It should come as no surprise that in my quest to embrace my German heritage, I have been eating my meals with mostly Germans. And believe it or not, I’ve picked up on German dining etiquette. To illustrate my point, imagine you’re eating a pizza right now. As a United States citizen, you are most likely grabbing the pizza with your hands and devouring it like a wild animal. Now imagine eating it with a fork and knife. That’s what I now do. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened naturally. So now you’re asking, “which method is better”? In my opinion, the German method. And what’s more, I now set my fork and knife at 3 o’clock (think of the plate as a clock) rather than simply throwing my fork and knife on the plate. It feels proper and it is my hope that when I come home, I continue the habits I’ve established while in Germany (even if I’m that weird guy eating pizza with a knife and fork in the U.S).

So there you have it, food. Delicious, German food. Feel free to discuss the topic in the comments. If you have any food that I missed, feel free to say it! Any recipes? Share them. And as always, thanks for reading!