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ambition

Just A Millennial Looking for Validation

I’ve had some really amazing conversations this week. Some have been 3 hour marathons on multiple subjects, others have been simple text messages that have sparked powerful realizations. The one conversation that has stayed with me centered around my friend asking me to verbalize in one word why I do what I do. Essentially, why do I write. After dancing around the question and talking about how I want to touch as many people with my words as possible, and impact lives blah blah blah, he turned to me and said “one word, Kern. Scream it.”

I looked at him and said I want to “impress.”

He nodded his head and chuckled. “I sense some need for validation, Kern. Am I right?”

I thought about it for a while and up till now still haven’t responded. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how right he is. I can’t escape being a Millennial and in fact embrace it to the fullest. But when I think about many of my friends or people I know who rather take photos than work retail, or live with their parents so they can build their freelance careers. When I think of all of the amazing Millennials I have met through social media who have a voice or are looking to be heard, I have to say that we are a generation who more than anything are looking for validation.

And no I haven’t done any case studies or conducted any research polls. But I interact with my generation every day. I see them moving from job to job till what they do actually matters, I read their blogs and follow their posts on social media and hear them all screaming their own "one word." I can feel their emotions when they don’t want to settle for this now mythical 9-5 lifestyle.

Through the criticisms of laziness, self entitlement, being overly ambitious, all we want is validation. We want to know that people are taking notice of what we do and that what we do actually matters. That we actually matter.

When I think of myself, I want to be considered one of the best writers of this generation. Yes I want to touch as many people as I can with my words and incite new thoughts, visions, questions, or perspectives in my readers, but at the core of all of my ambition, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I just really want them to be impressed.

It’s funny how simple this notion truly is. But we are a generation of endless noise, constant clutter, and a neverending stream of content. And though we’re birthed from a past generation whose goals were more aligned with doing a job and ensuring the security of those directly around them, it’s not hard to see why being validated through all of the mayhem becomes important to us Millennials. It means more to make a ripple in the ocean than it does to make a splash in a pool.

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Why The Heck Am I Watching Oprah

OK so it was one of those odd occasions where I had a few minutes during the day so I flicked on the TV and it magically landed on Oprah's "O" network. Please don't judge me too much LOL, and to my defense, my brother's wife was over so I feel somewhat justified in watching a segment or two. But talk about eye opening. From what I could tell, the guests on the show were all women who had finally ended their marriages. And I say finally because all of these women were unhappy, unfulfilled, and outright miserable in their marriage for years before finally ending it. I heard one woman say she had checked out of her marriage after the first ten years, but stayed with her husband for SEVEN MORE YEARS despite not feeling any emotion for him at all and herself being constantly unhappy.

Fear of change, maybe?

Can you imagine being stuck in a situation you hated for seven years? Having to wake up everyday and deal with that situation knowing you absolutely don't want to be there. Then I thought a little deeper and realized this is what so many people deal with every day. Not just with their spouses, but so many people hate their jobs, or hate the classes they're taking or their majors, hate where they live, and on and on and on.

And despite feeling deflated, hopeless, dejected, disconnected, and whatever other negative emotional adjective you can think of, they stay. And some stay in their situation for much longer than seven years. Now I don't want to sound insensitive or even ignorant. I know there are always mitigating circumstances and other factors to think about. In marriages, children are always a consideration; with jobs, finances and bills are always a consideration.

There's always something, right?

But that's just the point. There's always going to be something holding your feet to the fire. Some reason, real or manifested, that prevents you from getting out of a situation that's draining you of your energy and your soul on a daily basis.

At what point does that something disappear and your need for happiness take precedence?

Me personally, I protect my happiness at all costs. And not saying I haven't done jobs I've hated or been in bad relationships. But I've always had goals with any job I've worked with the vision that it was either a stepping stone or a necessary evil to get to where I am now. And with relationships, once I could look at myself in the mirror and say I've given it my best shot, that I've tried honestly and intently to make it work and it still isn't fulfilling my expectations, then I have to move on.

And I have a daughter, so I understand all the repercussions involved. But to me, it can be more psychologically damaging for a child to witness a loveless relationship than it can be to end that same relationship.

I'll leave with words from one of my favourite musicians:

"Leaving you is hard, being here is harder." Lana Del Rey

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Find Success in the Process

It was my biggest flaw, and probably still is to some degree. Always hungry, never satisfied, always wanting more, pushing towards that next milestone with my eyes fixed like I was driving down a two way without any headlights. It's tough being ambitious, and no I'm not saying that playfully, I'm being really serious here. It's not easy living day to day with the weight of the expectations I put on myself. It's not easy having all these visions of success and literally seeing exactly where I want to be, who I want to be, how I want to live; being able to see that everyday but have it be just out of my grasp. And I feel myself getting closer, feel the energy of the people I'm touching, can actually see real results; measurable, real life progress.

But it still isn't enough.

At least it still wasn't enough.

Over the better part of the last 12 months, I've made a conscious effort to stop chasing. I've realized that everything I want I already have, and I mean that. Maybe not in the abundance that I want, but it's all right here, right now. So the last year I've let go, taken chances I normally wouldn't take, opened myself up to other people more than I ever have, forged some amazing new friendships, lost some amazing friends, saw some amazing friends lose themselves, made more money than ever before in my life, then faultered and struggled a little bit with managing that money. And I haven't even touched on my book which has brought me the most joy in my career thus far.

But I was there for it all. Conscious. Aware.

I found success in my journey.

And I don't mean this in a philosophical kind of way, I mean I truly appreciated and recognized all of my successes with friendships and my writing career during this time period. I realized that I don't have to keep waiting for this grand moment when all of a sudden I'm going to feel like I finally "made it." I don't know where "it" is and everything I'm trying to make I already have.

Ghandi has a saying that goes something like this:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are all the same.

I can't say I'm all the way there yet, but I'm damn close!

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