First off, I think everyone should read the blog from Tyler “Telle” Smith that I am linking to below. Telle is the lead singer of a screamo band called The Word Alive, who recently released a brand new album called “Life Cycles”. (If you’re into harder music, definitely check that album out. It’s sick.) But it was his blog that inspired me to write this one, so I think you all should read it! Also, it is very well written and quite a bit shorter than what mine will prolly end up being, but follows the same theme (staying positive in a negative world) yet offers a different perspective! I also encourage you guys to read any of his other blogs posted on altpress.com, because they are all really good and inspiring!
So, hopefully you took a second to read that ^^ above! I think it has such a great message, especially during this day and age. One quote I want to steal from Telle’s article is this: “Nobody wants to be subjected to hate on a daily basis. One of these days, I hope people realize that there is so much power in positivity. Why bring someone down when you could bring them up or, at the very least, spare them the verbal beat down?” That just rang so true for me. Entering my second year of college, I am constantly surrounded by people who are different than me, who hold different values and support different opinions than my own. And sometimes, it becomes hard for people to express these differences or respect these differences in a positive way. And what’s worse, I don’t think people even realize their negativity, and the impact it has. I’ve become an individual who recognizes it, because I’ve experienced it.
We took a quiz for my work through a site called StrengthsQuest that showed us our top five strengths. My top one was positivity. And honestly, I didn’t realize how positive I try to view life and the experiences life offers until two weeks ago, when some of my other coworkers began pointing it out to me. I was getting comments like “Oh yeah, you obviously have a glass half-full mindset” or “Dude, you’re the most encouraging person I’ve ever met.” The latter comment really meant a lot to me, because I definitely wasn’t expecting to hear something like that, especially after playing a pick-up soccer match. But getting those comments and finding out that postivity was my greatest strength not only made me really happy, but it also showed me how much I have grown and changed.
“People have called me every name in the book, but I learned I’m doing what I love after years of taking things to heart. I’m not afraid to admit that it took me a while to get to this point.” Another quote from Telle’s article, talking about how it took him a long time to be able to view negative things more positively. I have experienced the same transformation of thought. A lot of people who know me now might be surprised to know how negative I was in the past. I suffered through depression for almost three years in high-school. I still struggle sometimes with self-esteem and I definitely still struggle with self-image. Both of those problems helped egg on my depression. Then, senior year was the hardest year of my life, as me and people I loved struggled through some tough situtations. I experienced my first taste of death and the fraility of life, and I struggled with my faith and with staying positive amongst so many tears, so much hardship. But it was one of those truly hard experiences that helped transform me into the positive person I am now.
But before I talk about that, I do want to offer a disclaimer: when I say I’m positive, I mean that I try to find the light of every single situation or happenstance or relationship or experience. I try to expierence life as a glass overflowing with opportunities, chances, and amazing blessings. I try to see the light not just as a light at the end of the tunnel to aim towards, but a guiding light throughout the tunnel; always there, just sometimes not as bright as other times. I don’t mean that I am walking around with rainbows over my head, sprouting out unicorns and butterflies with every step (although let’s be real here, if I could sprout an unicorn from my thigh, life would be pretty epic). I have my off days. I have days that are harder than others. I still get stressed, sad, angry, or upset. But instead of letting those emotions take over and ruin my whole day, or week, or month like I used to, I try to find the positive of the situation and focus on that while I deal with whatever is going on.
My senior year, I had a best friend die in a car crash. Of course I knew of death and what it was before that happened, but it that experience that really opened my eyes to the fact that death isn’t just something you read about in your history books or hear about in the news. Death is real and it happens every day. And dealing with it is hard. I can remember that day better than any other day in my life. I believe I could repeat conversations verbatim if I had to. And I struggled with it. For weeks. I cried a lot, I struggled with my faith as I tried to figure out why God would take away someone who had so much going for him, who was such an inspiration to so many people. In all fairness, I think the easiest way to say what I went through is that I just broke. I broke and almost lost myself completely. But then, I realized a few things: a) Life is frail. We never know when each of ours will end, only that it will, one day. After realizing that and thinking about how much my friend impacted my life and made it better, it made me thankful and sad. Sad that he was gone, but also sad that so many other people never got the chance to know him, to learn from him and be impacted by him. But I was lucky enough to have that chance. And I thank God every single day for giving me the opportunity to know him. But I also realized something greater.
Life is a blessing.
Yes, it is frail. Yes, it can be hard; confusing; difficult. But life is so much more than that! Every day, each of us are blessed with opportunities denied to others. Every day, each of us are blessed with the chance to LIVE. There is too much good in life, too many chances to help out and be the good in another person’s life, too many opportunities and experiences waiting to be lived in life; there is just too much there waiting to be lived to waste living life half-assed, in a depressed dazed, angry or always negative. I realized that God has blessed me with way too many amazing things for me to let my day be ruined by getting a C on a math test or that I get sweat stains after walking to class or that you can tell I like extra cheese on my nachos. There are too many little things that we as a society turn into huge problems that we let ruin our days. And after that happens, then we go and ruin the days of others, putting people down and hurting them. The negativity is constant: after a bad day at work, people don’t smile and get into slumps of bad moods, which in turn rub off on others around them; girls spending more time frowning at a beautiful expression in the mirror than experiencing the world outside the bathroom they just spent three hours preparing for; kids getting made fun of because of their looks or ideas. It just confuses the hell out of me why we choose to make someone feel unloved, ugly, hated, or discriminated against when we have the power to make them feel accepted, loved and cherished through using the same medium: our actions and our words. We have been given a blessing, in life. Don’t be afraid to live it and live it fully.
But I do want to clarify that I’m not saying you have to be happy all the time or that overnight you’re automatically going to be a happier, more positive person. I’m just saying that once you realize how amazing life is and how awesome you can make it; and that your actions and words have a greater impact than you’ve ever imagined, that you will begin to notice when you’re starting to get down or catch yourself about to say something degrading. And, with time, you’ll be able to change your mindset to a more enjoyable one. It’s all up to you, really!
“‘Cause honestly, I can say that I did it my own way. If I had a second chance, there’s nothin’ I would change! Take the time to enjoy all the moments, don’t waste your life ’cause next thing, it’s all over. Before I die, I’ll make sure I’m alive!” — Lyrics from We are the Ocean
Keep Positive and Smile On!