Getting Ahead

For the first time in my academic career, I am actually a few weeks ahead of the syllabus. I have always been prone to waiting until the last minute to complete tasks, but I am finally turning in assignments far in advance of their due dates. It’s a foreign feeling, to say the least. There’s no tangible sensation of stress or anxiety, and it would actually be very difficult for me to fall behind. Essentially, because of a few weeks with my nose to the grindstone, I will only continue to get further and further ahead if I maintain this pace for the remainder of the semester.

It makes me realize how much unnecessary stress I put myself through in high school, and especially in college. It also makes me realize how much better my grades could have been, had I made the conscious effort to be a diligent student. I suppose I fell into bad habits that I could, for the most part, get away with. Getting ahead not only reduces the stress of the semester but also allows me to spend adequate time on subjects. It frees up time and energy to learn more than if I was rushing to complete assignments. This may sound obvious, but for someone who has never been ahead in their coursework, I am truly amazed at how much more fun learning can be when you’re ahead of the curve.

I have finished a condensed four-week course, and have three weeks left of a condensed seven-week course. After that, I will have three full-semester classes to finish, along with another condensed four-week class beginning on 10/27. The rest of the fall and winter will be busy, but I’ll also be halfway finished with my accreditation and all of my credits will count towards my master’s degree. In the meantime, I’m just going to try to keep getting ahead.

 

The Disconnect Between Hard Work and Results in The Modern Age

We have become so accustomed to instant gratification and quick hits of dopamine, that it is difficult to imagine having to work hard in order to achieve results. Pressing a button, scrolling through endless feeds, video games, access to unlimited entertainment right at our fingertips…how can we not expect to be programmed for instantaneous results. There are a few spheres of life that still require years of hard work and dedication in order to achieve mastery. One of those spheres, for the time being (until there is a way to program the brain without physical activity/exertion/old school programming), is athletics.

I try not to laugh when I tell my players that it will take them years to gain elite level strength or master a skillset. The blank stares of disbelief are too comical not to enjoy. They tend to snap out of it within a few seconds, and almost shake their heads in order to nullify the statement. They try to convince themselves that, like anything else, they will find a short-cut or a way to bypass the necessary effort. They just can’t fathom weeks, months, let alone years of trial and error, failure and defeat, and endless hours of practice before achieving a goal.

The mentality relating to sowing seeds and cultivating them with hard work (reap what you sow) is no longer relevant. Nobody farms anymore. Plowing, planting, watering, grooming, and finally harvesting the reward for all of my efforts? Nah, fuck that…I’m gonna click this button and get whatever I want.  When you couple the influence of instant gratification with the self-esteem/everyone gets a trophy movement, the disconnect becomes severe. People are now so used to being handed things, that when they aren’t given grades, playing time, raises, bonuses or the reward they expected, they are actually offended.

I’m not getting what I want just because I want it? I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m alive…why aren’t I getting what I want? Well, your work wasn’t good enough. You didn’t practice hard enough. You didn’t spend enough time on it. You didn’t want it badly enough. Someone else is outworking/outperforming you…Pish posh. Bullshit. Look, man. I’ve been getting whatever I want, just because, my whole life. That’s how this works. I show up like everyone else and don’t do anything out of the ordinary, but I should be getting rewards and results that make me feel special.

The mentality is actually sickening. No accountability. No personal responsibility. No long-term thinking. No goal setting. No competitive mindset. No hard work…I’m here, so give me what I want. It’s me. Me. Isn’t that enough? Why would I have to do anything but be me? It’s okay for fun and equality to be emphasized to very young children in their first few years of athletics…I suppose. But that’s not how life works.

Life is a competition…for the gnat, the fish, the bird, the bear, and the human. We don’t bypass that biological necessity of the struggle for resources, space, and the ability to reproduce. Whether people realize it or not, or are purely convinced otherwise, they are in competition with their peers from the moment they leave the womb, until they are dead and buried. It’s a race. Hate to break it to you. Those who get ahead, typically stay ahead. Just ask anyone in the top 1% of their field of interest. Ask them how much time, energy, and effort it took to get there. The good news is that in this day and age, a little work goes a long way because I can assure you that most people are doing the absolute bare minimum. Work hard, surpass your peers, and reap the rewards. They’re ripe for the picking…just reach out and grab them. That’s all you need to do.

 

Volume of Speech vs. Intelligence

There absolutely has to be a correlation between the two. The more intelligent a person is, the more self-aware, selective, and articulate they typically are. The less intelligent a person is, the more they lack the self-awareness, word choice, and social decency to monitor their volume of speech. The less intelligent also require more words in order to convey their thoughts (although they are usually not worth saying due to a lack of selectivity). Pairing incessant speech with abrasive volume levels creates the perfect combination for a disruptive, distracting, and indeed troublesome social environment.

The implications of this are most apparent in the educational setting. The classroom environment is judged on its potential for learning; a quiet, cohesive, and consistent atmosphere for the exchange and discussion of ideas. I can’t begin to describe how easy it is for a handful of noisy students to absolutely ruin a classroom setting. I’m sure it doesn’t take very long to think of several over places that noise level compromises the environment. The movies, restaurants, the library, public transportation…actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that a high noise level is abrasive in all but a few social settings. Calling for help, cheering at stadiums, or alerting the public to a natural disaster may be the only times a high volume of speech is necessary.

Collecting My Thoughts for October 2018

Well, once again, summer has come and gone. Fall is strolling to Tidewater Maryland. Mornings and evenings are starting to feel light and crisp. The transition from overwhelming greenery to drab shades of gray and white has begun. Sultry summer days have a special place in my heart, but I’m ready for a change.

I say that now, but when the sun is behind sheets of clouds this winter, I’m sure I’ll be wishing for spring and summer to come quickly. Like most things in life, I suppose that it’s important to take changes in stride, appreciate them for what they bring, and maintain hope for more desirable days in the future. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate winter, I just have a limited capacity for its weather. We’ll see if I’m able to increase my appreciation this year.

Fall ignites fireworks in the trees, reminds us that the universe is still in flux, and eases us into the harsh reality of winter. Switching from the glory of summer to the dead of winter overnight sounds like a thing of nightmares. But, weather aside, I have had a busy September, and indeed the rest of the year will be the same. I’m substitute teaching when needed, taking 18 credits for an accreditation/master’s program in secondary education, and working out with players 3-5 times a week after school. To top this off, Olyn has just turned five months old and is beginning to “scoot.”

I must admit, however, that having a full plate is more desirable than starvation for productivity. More energy and more vigor are required for multiple endeavors. I feel more wholesome and complete crawling into bed after a long day. Busyness is better than boredom. I have completed one of my courses, so 15 credits remain to be finished. It should be manageable though. Another course doesn’t begin until Oct 27, while another ends Oct 31. So basically I’ll be taking 12 credits from here on out.

Getting back into school mode makes me realize how poorly I approached my college courses in the past. Not taking them seriously was the tip of the iceberg. I lacked the motivation and self-awareness to use them as self-improvement tools, rather than viewing them as inconveniences. “If only I knew then what I knew now…” It’s all too cliche, but too true. In reality, going to war, destitute poverty, tragic events, serious injuries, and poor health are hard…school is easy.

In the long run, this semester is a flash in the pan. I will scarcely remember it a year from now. The key is to accomplish weekly tasks consistently, and before you know it, the semester is over. This may be an elementary concept to current college students, but, with my bachelor’s experience involving extreme procrastination, stress, and a lack of consistent work ethic, scraping by was the norm. I’m thankful the switch has been flipped and my approach to academia is on the other end of the spectrum. My main takeaway is that school is so much less stressful when you don’t wait until the last minute to complete tasks. I suppose it’s the same way with most requirements in life.

Anyway, aside from my scholastic revolution which is taking place ten years later than it should have, life feels meaningful. It is busy at times, but never overwhelming, and I think I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m hoping to knock out this accreditation by the end of the summer, and complete my master’s by the end of next fall. This is dependent upon course offerings and 100 days of interning, but hopefully, my credits are finished by then.

For now, I’m going to focus on my current classes and finish out the year on a high note. The holidays and winter’s icy grip are right around the corner. Despite winter’s inescapable hold, I plan on partaking in the socially constructed silliness of the holidays in the least degree possible. The more I’m exposed to the traditions, the less interested I am in them. At the end of the day, it’s about spending time with family and friends, I just wish the superfluous bullshit was no longer the centerpiece. I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them.

Well, aside from taking a full course load and a half, working part-time, having a five-month-old son, and working out with athletes almost half my age, I can still find time to read, meditate, and write. I’m hoping to return to my novel for a third revision and a few additions this fall. I needed to step away in order to gain some clarity and freshen my perspective. Having done that, I’m ready to return to it with an open mind. I think it will be interesting to read it without the story being fresh in my mind.

Some of my goals for this month are to write at least 500 words, read at least 50 pages, and meditate for at least 10 minutes every day. In addition, I’m going to cut back on my wine consumption (which was a little over the top while writing my novel) that needs to be reeled in a bit. I’m also going to increase my self-awareness, and in turn, my productivity. I’m going to make a conscious effort not to waste time. I will still take breaks obviously, but I’m going to make sure I’m not being sucked down internet wormholes for hours on end. I have to make sure I’m not confusing movement for progress.

I’m debating playing in the SMCM lacrosse alumni game, but I’m not sure if it will be worth it. I’m thinking about it. Maybe just EMO? Kat and my dad don’t think it’s a good idea. I think I’ll be fine. I will admit that risking the benefits of non-concussed brain function would be silly at this point. I enjoy being able to read, write, and focus tremendously. It’s hard to explain how much better my brain function has become. Hopefully, I can continue to reap the benefits. Onwards and upwards.