It’s Not The End of The World

You just lost your job. It’s not the end of the world.

Your fiancé/spouse left you. It’s not the end of the world.

You didn’t get into the college you wanted. It’s not the end of the world.

It’s a refrain you’ll hear whenever something goes wrong in your life. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. It’s meant to be reassuring. After all, if the world’s still spinning, then everything’s ok, right?

Wrong. It is the end of the world. When you suffer a major setback, whether personal or professional, it’s the end of the world that you’ve built. It’s the end of the world that you’ve invested in, that you’ve poured your time and energy into. It’s the end of your world.

To write that off with an absurd cosmic comparison does a disservice to you and it does a disservice to your grief and disappointment. You can’t shrug off the misfortune you’ve suffered just because the sun will rise tomorrow. You can’t raise your head and keep walking like nothing happened just because the force of gravity remains unchanged. Contrary to what anyone says, you’ve just witnessed the end of the world, and the aftermath isn’t pretty. It’s not supposed to be.

So mourn that world. Lament it. Take the time to reflect on what that world meant to you and what its loss means. Then, pick up the shattered pieces and build a new world for yourself. A better one.

It’s the end of the world. But it’s not the end of you.

The Wind Blows Across Empty Plains

Wow, is it quiet in here or is it just me?

*crickets*

Ah…well…

So sorry to all my readers (yes, I see the both of you back there) for the apparent deadness of my site. Life is a funny little thing. A river that rages along and pulls everything to the whim of its current. I am but a man, alas, with so many obligations and so little time. I’ve been trying to dodge life’s various curveballs and not get buried under its –

Oh, what the hell. I’ve been lazy. It’s just as simple as that.

‘Maybe I don’t have to write a blog post every single day,” you say to yourself once and the next thing you know, it’s been over a year and your blog is collecting digital dust bunnies. Oops.

I had half a mind to just shut the whole thing down since I wasn’t updating it at all, but then one day (well, yesterday), the blogging flame that once burned brightly in my mind and then simmered slowly for a while before being extinguished by the lazy waters of procrastination suddenly re-ignited itself. No, I thought, I can’t abandon this blog. It’s my mind space. It’s where I throw out the random thoughts that refuse to stay contained. I can’t shut this down any more than I can shut down my own brain.

So I return from my own ashes like a keyboard-tapping phoenix, ready to unleash a blog storm again and drench you all with my thoughts (it sounded less dirty in my head, I promise).

Until I get lazy again. Which tends to happen from time to time.

But I’ll work on that.

Maybe tomorrow…

Be Mindful of Your Manners

The whole concept of good manners really seems to be lost on some people. To be fair, I’m not entirely exempt from that, but I’m not going to put myself on trial on my own blog. That would be crazy.

There are words and phrases that we were all taught as children (well, maybe not all) as expressions of politeness. They’re still commonly used today, but often in just the shallowest sense. They’re basically a way of saying, “Hey, at least I’m not a total asshole.” Let’s take a look at some common polite expressions and what they really mean today.

How are you: Along with its more informal variations ‘how’s it going?’ and ‘what’s up?’ or even the super casual ‘sup?’, this was meant to be a greeting. Not just that, but a small attempt at empathy. How are you? Tell me about what’s going on in your life. Nowadays, it’s pretty much the equivalent of hello.

Many times, I’ve had acquaintances pass me by with a smile and a cheery ‘how’s it going?’. None of them ever paused for me to tell them how it was going, though. Just the fact that they asked was good enough I guess? Nobody really wants to know about you. They don’t care if your dog just died or your house almost burned down. When you’ve just smiled and nodded at someone in greeting, you don’t want to be bummed out by their life story. It’s not an expression of empathy. It’s basically a lie.

Thank you: This one hasn’t really gone out of fashion or changed in too significant a way. Some people don’t even bother with a thanks, of course, and just accept your help/gift/whatever in silence. But they are the cursed ones, whose souls would be violently ripped from their bodies if they were ever to express gratitude, so they can be forgiven.

As an aside, I’ve used the phrase ‘thanks a lot’ as an expression of sarcasm so many times that I feel weird using it sincerely. If someone helps me out with something big, I just emphasize my thank you with a smile (or exclamation mark) or say ‘thank you so much!’. But saying ‘thanks a lot’ makes me feel like a jerk, even if that’s what I really mean. Thanks a lot, sarcasm.

As yet another aside, or perhaps a footnote, or some other term that makes me feel like a fancy writer guy, is anyone else really weirded out when people don’t acknowledge a ‘thank you’? It doesn’t happen very often, but I’ve had a few occasions where I thanked people for helping me and they didn’t respond to that at all. No ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘no problem’ or anything. A chill goes down my spine when I think about that, and I don’t know why…

Please: Is this still officially a word? Because I don’t hear it often enough. Most requests I come across are phrased as imperative, with no magic word attached. This is one of those instances where I occasionally slip up myself. But what’s up with that? Is please too old school?

Excuse me: Another phrase I don’t hear too often. Especially here in Dubai. If you’re blocking someone’s path, there are two possibilities.

One is that they will see the tiniest gap (say the one formed between the curve of your back and the wall) as an opening and will try to squeeze through, making pained and apologetic expressions along the way to try and convince you that they’re not shoving you out of the way (but they totally are). There are, of course, those who just shove their way through unapologetically, but they’re just trying to get away from the horde of wild monkeys that will tear them limb from limb. Wouldn’t you push people out of the way if you were being chased by homicidal monkeys?

The other option is for them to just stand behind you without any attempt to make you move. Maybe they’ll sigh or click their tongues, or perhaps roll their eyes in the hope that somehow you’ll see them through the back of your skull. But they won’t say anything. When you do finally move out of the way, they’ll walk past shooting you a look that might turn a lesser man to stone. You, of course, will be thoroughly confused about why this person’s so annoyed when a simple ‘excuse me’ could have cleared their path, but that is why you are an enlightened being.

This is another one of those expressions that I’ve used sarcastically so often, that I always feel awkward when I genuinely want someone to excuse me. I can almost feel myself saying ‘excuuuse me’ while rolling my eyes every time I say it.

Sorry: Also known as the Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card. I sometimes wonder why this word even exists. In fact, this word irks me so greatly that I think I’ll give it its own blog post. But to summarize, it’s a word that’s used way too often, and without any meaning or emotion behind it. It should just be preceded by the word ‘not’ in parentheses whenever it’s used.

And that, in a nutshell, is the state of good manners today. Words used insincerely or not at all, but very few that contain the politeness and consideration for other people that they really ought to.

Minding your manners is well and good, but I think it’s important to really think about what you’re saying and what it means. I’d much rather someone shove past me and wear their assholishness like a badge than throw out a token ‘excuse me’ in a horribly misguided attempt to be polite.

So please, be mindful of your manners. I (and much of humanity, I’m sure) would really appreciate that.

Thanks a l…err…so much!

The Impostor in Me

I was reading an article yesterday about Impostor Syndrome, which is the constant feeling that maybe you’re not as talented or knowledgeable as people think you are. I suppose the simplest way to describe it is chronic self-doubt. It also describes how I feel almost every day and is a fairly common condition.

Many talented and successful people in all sorts of areas, whether creative or technical, often believe that they’re not really that good at what they do and only got as far as they did through luck or other factors that fell in their favor. There’s always the lingering fear that one day they’ll be revealed as frauds and derided by their peers.

While the condition, in its strictest sense, applies to successful people who don’t fully enjoy their success, I think we all feel like impostors to some extent. Speaking for myself, on most days I feel like a lost kid just making his way through the world, creating the illusion that I’m a fully functioning adult. Having taken the (still fairly recent) decision to become a writer full time, I’m plagued by the nagging idea that maybe that was a mistake. Maybe I’m just a hack whose inability to paint pictures with words will become apparent soon enough, if it hasn’t already.

Back in college, as I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I took up karate. It quickly became a passion of mine and I climbed my way up to earning a black belt, which came with a lot of responsibility. I was a senior member of my karate club and an assistant instructor. I hoped I could inspire new students to love the craft as much as I did, and give some of my peers a different perspective, but I couldn’t help thinking that I didn’t belong there. My own instructor and fellow assistant instructors knew what they were talking about while I was just throwing out words and concepts I was familiar with so that I seemed more like what a black belt should be.

I can describe similar situations in all aspects of my life, including my current job and my blogging, where I feel like I’m not measuring up to what people might expect from me, but they’re being kind enough to look the other way for now.

It ultimately creates a fear of failure, as the smallest slip-up could cause everything to unravel. Maybe that one tiny error will reveal me for the fraud I am.

Perhaps the one solace I can take form this is that I’m not alone. We’re all impostors, pretending that we’re not just ad libbing through life.

Starting Fresh

Just as I was getting comfortable with the old year, a new one decided to nudge its way in. So here we are. The dawn of 2016. As is the case very year, this is when resolutions are made, and plans are charted for the coming year. A fresh start. A new leaf. All of that good stuff.

So it is that I’m planning to start fresh as well. Toward the end of last year, my writing plans went completely topsy turvy. Getting sick around Christmas certainly didn’t help things. I had made a commitment to, if nothing else, write something every day. Now, to be fair, my day job involves writing, so I haven’t technically abandoned that commitment. However, on a personal front, I haven’t actually written anything in a while. Thus, I’m planning to start over with that whole thing.

Even if it results in a blog post that’s just one line, I will write something every day. To stay in practice, if nothing else. I aim to finally put an end to posts that are essentially apologies for not having written anything. It’s time to be the writer I wanted to be.

But first…maybe a nap.

Hold your horses 2016. I’ll get to you in my own time.

Hope the new year’s got some pleasant surprises in store for everyone!

At A Loss For Words

As I had mentioned a few times in my last few posts, I’d taken on quite a few writing challenges the past couple of months. In September, I attempted to make my way through Writing 101 while also participating in the Story A Day Challenge on my fiction blog. In October, I created my own personal challenge for Halloween. When that was all done, I thought I’d take a short break from blogging before getting right back into it again. And now I’ve come to the horrifying realization that I have no idea what to write.

I’ve gotten too used to writing off a prompt that now I’m at a loss for my own topics. The easy thing to do would be to visit the Daily Prompt for ideas, but that just compounds the problem. This blog was supposed to be a space to let the random ramblings of my brain flow freely, but it seems that right now my brain is…empty? That can’t be a good thing.

My fictional muse also seems to have gone on vacation without giving notice. I was supposed to resume posting on my fiction blog last month, but that well is coming up dry too. So, for now, I’m just trying to figure out what to write next. Hopefully, both blogs will be back on track soon.

I’ll be putting up a festive post in the next couple of days (hoooopefully), and after that, I think I’ll pick things up again in the New Year.

Out to Lunch

Ah, it feels so good to come back to blogging after a short break. One week off is just what I needed to reorganize my thoughts.

Wait, what was the date of my last post?

November 3rd?!

No, that can’t be right…

Must be a glitch. Let me refresh the page.

Huh.

November 3rd.

Sonuva…

Looks like my little hiatus lasted way longer than I’d planned.

Oops.

Well, nothing to do but hop back in the saddle and continue the journey. After someone teaches me how to ride a horse.

Apologies to my readers and fellow bloggers for the disappearance, but I’m back now!

And better than ever! Or, at least, that’s the story I’m sticking to.