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life lessons

Why Am I Waiting for People to Change

  I’m still trying to figure out if this is a strength or a flaw. I have this problem where I almost instinctively see the thing in people that I want to see. Some sort of light, or goodness, or hope that I arrogantly feel only I am aware of and only I can bring out.

From one perspective, this helps me to stay positive. And I notice when I treat people as I see them and not as they are, they end up behaving closer to the image I have in my mind. But what does that really mean? Only that they have potential, which is true of even the worst people. Worse, this may only mean they are capable of altering their behaviour to fit the circumstance, usually to some selfish end.

From the other perspective, having this notion that people can change has put me in plenty of situations in which I constantly give people chances. I can recount even recently me speaking to this person and not understanding at all how they can continually behave this way, even though their history has proven to me that this is exactly who they are.

And this person doesn’t necessarily have to be a partner. For me, this is not a girlfriend issue. This is a people issue, or a recognizing who to trust issue.

Waiting for people to change is like drawing a circle. No matter what, you end up in the same place you started. And as I’m writing this I still feel some hesitation within myself because I genuinely want to believe that we all have the capacity for change. That we all have bad moments, or go through rough periods where we aren’t exactly at our best.

And if that’s true, then these people should expect us, the ones who love them and care for them, to be there as they make their way around the ferris wheel.

But that’s really not how it works, is it? I had a thought a few weeks ago. A thought incited by a real life decision. I wrote on my Facebook page that sometimes we just have to let people go, no matter how long they’ve been in our lives and regardless of if we love them. Because if our goal in any friendship or relationship is to wait for someone to change or attempt to spur on that change, then we’ve entered that situation for the wrong reason and it’s time to get out.

Now in writing this, another thought has crossed my mind. Maybe I’M changing. Maybe I’ve already changed. And if this is true, if I’ve really changed, then my expectation that anyone else should change to match who I am now is baseless.

I’m either creating or have created a new me, which means I’m creating or have created a new world for myself. Instead of waiting for anyone else to change, I should be finding people who fit my new world.

Right? Am I making any sense? Is any of this making any sense?

It’s tough when I’m actually going through it to see anywhere outside of my own mind, but this is what I’m feeling. A writer/artist expressing myself the only way I know how. And yet I feel there are countless amounts of people going through this right now who know precisely what I mean.

#PassionAndPaper

Read my novella THOUGHTS OF A FRACTURED SOUL here.

Finally Letting People In

My friend Steve tells me all the time that I’ve finally come out of my shell. “You’re finally letting people in,” he says. And coming from someone who’s known me since I was 10 years old, that statement holds a lot of weight. He knows how I was. How guarded I’d keep myself and anything close to me. Not that I wasn’t social, but the thought of “letting people in,” frightened me, and it still does to some degree. Accept now I don’t let that fear own me.

Valuing Friendship

I’m writing this having just left my friend’s condo. He’s a new friend, someone I’ve become really close with over the past year. And in the short time we’ve known each other, he’s already a staple in my life, someone with whom I can speak freely, be myself, and bond over everything from basketball to pop culture.

He may not even realize it, but for me his friendship was a risk. A risk meaning letting someone get that close to me was not something I would’ve been comfortable with even a few years ago.

And he’s not the only example. I’ve made other friends over the past two years. My Queen street friends, my Kensington Market Writers Circle friends, some artist friends; all of which would have been nearly impossible for me in my former mind frame.

Writing Not My Only Expression Anymore

I can’t even begin to tell you how valuable all of these people have been in my life. The difference they have made in helping me feel safe trusting people, and really feeling like there are some amazing people in the world who get me; like really understand who I am.

That kind of friendship is invaluable, even more so for me coming from a place where the last thing I ever wanted to do was have someone get to know me. Just the thought of that would make me cringe.

Looking back now, there was definitely some insecurity. The potential to disappoint someone after they got to know me intimately was always what I feared. “What if they don’t like who they see,” were the thoughts plaguing my mind and holding me back from fully engaging with anyone.

And I know that kind of thinking has cost me some friendships, ruined some relationships, and prevented me from growing emotionally. What’s crazy is that I was always such an open minded person, but still so scared to open myself up enough to experience anything meaningful.

But that’s all changed now. Maybe not completely, but enough to where I can feel the difference. And enough to where my world has been changed by the people I let in. For me that’s been everything.

Writing used to be the only platform in which I spoke openly. I took comfort in knowing I could sit and type out my thoughts, click a button, and put it out into the universe without ever really having to face any of its content. Even pieces where I stirred up conversation, there’s a safety in writing that kept me at a distance from the audience that wasn’t threatening.   

And I still feel the same way about writing. It’s such a passion for me now that there’s nothing that could ever pull me away. But I’ve moved some of those emotions off the screen and into my everyday life. Carefully and deliberately, but now someone I’ve let in won’t have to read dozens my blog posts to get an idea of who I am.

They can just ask, and I'll tell.

New friends, new friendships, new bonds, new connections, new experiences. Life is good.

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Subscribe to my #PassionAndPaper newsletter and blog here.

kerncarter.com/blog

Photo Credit: Henk Costers

Life Can Be Your Passion

I write this from my hotel room in Manhattan, in the early hours of the morning on the fourth day of my week long trip. Coming to this city has been such a blessing. The affect New York is having on me has been unexpected, and the lessons I’ve learned equally as curious. Last night I saw Jhumpa Lahiri speak at the New York Public Library. She’s a Pulitzer Prize winning author for a collection of short stories called Interpreter of Maladies. I admire her writing more than you can imagine, and she’s directly impacted my own writing more than any author I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

But it was after her dialogue that was equally as memorable. Walking through Times Square, feeling the energy of the city as I strolled down 42nd street. Before that I was with a friend in Harlem, and we walked around 155th street before meeting up with another friend who drove us through the east and west side of that relatively small, but historic section of Manhattan.

This evening I’ll be headed to Williamsburg, on the suggestion of some colleagues I had lunch with in Greenwich Village a few days earlier. And what’s been amazing for someone like me, someone who is more passionate about my career than anything else, I realized that it’s possible to be just as passionate about life itself.

Life can literally be your passion. And I feel very humbled to be saying this. I absolutely love writing, love words, love reading other writers. Writing is my life, it’s both what I do and who I am.

But that’s me. And being here even I have to admit that for those who are struggling to find what they want to do with their lives, what career they want to pursue that will fulfill their passions, know that you can find fulfillment in life itself.

What I’ve learned perusing New York in the manner I have is that it’s possible to still be content even if your career doesn’t define who you are. In fact, I would even suggest that those still searching for who they are seek refuge in life itself. And that doesn’t even have to happen through travelling, although it will certainly increase your appreciation for the world we live in.

But you can find passion in your family, in your friends, in your city. You can find that contentment in your hobbies or in your partner. Jhumpa Lahiri spoke about finding that passion in her learning of the Italian language, and how it has made her feel a kind of wholeness she was missing her entire life.

And I’m not saying you should stop pursuing a career that would fill whatever space you’re looking to fill, I’m saying look to what’s already around you or within you to find that comfort. Because those things can be just as magnificent.

#HistoryOrNothing

Read "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul," here. 

Why Is Simple So Appealing?

Sometimes I get these feelings telling me that all I truly want is a simple life. I was walking down the Lakeshore today in Toronto, barely anyone else was out there except for who I assumed was a grandmother and grandfather on either side side of their young granddaughter, holding her hands strolling to a bench near the water. The breeze coming from the lake forced my hands inside my pockets and my hood over my head, but really it was the peacefulness of the scene that made me shiver. What is it about simplicity that's so appealing? I sat on raised stones close enough to feel speckles of water hit my face and thought about how much I had simplified my own life just over the past few months. I was one of those take on ten projects at a time just because I can type of people, always trying to prove something to someone, or some group, or some girl, never thinking how much I put my own purpose to the side.

But then I stopped.

I stopped caring about other people's projects, stopped caring about other people's problems, and took the completely selfish but gratifying step of putting my own priorities first. I didn't focus on anything outside of my own personal goals, which I realized were really quite simple and based on what I was great at or what I felt some emotional connection to.

20150520_141131This wasn't exactly easy because it meant letting go of things in which I had invested a lot of time, stepping away from people I cared about, and changing paths a little bit which is always at least a little bit scary. But ask me now if it's worth it and I have to say YES without hesitation. The success I've had just over the last few months proves it. The calm I've felt during that same time period is more proof. And I'm still working harder than ever, but the Millennial in me keeps giving subtle reminders that this is my life, I only live it once, and I should live it the way I choose.

So I am, and I'm loving every moment of it, thankful for all of my accomplishments and the ones yet to come, and not apologizing for having left behind a world of complication for a life of simplicity.

Till next time...

Why I Won’t Succumb to Average

I already see it happening all around me. I’m at that age where people I know are settling down in their lives becoming comfortable with their careers. It’s that age where all those ambitions they had – those grandiose plans of starting their own company or creating a new product, or pushing for that new promotion, or boldly changing careers to something more meaningful or more fulfilling – gets pushed aside for the sake of comfort, or convenience, or having to exert too much effort, or for the need of money. I see it happening but I won’t succumb; I can’t. And you can call me a dreamer, illogical, delusional, all phrases the greats have had to endure before breaking through. Truth is, if I hadn’t seen enough progress in my own writing, haven’t continued to receive emails from readers with intimate accounts of how my writing has moved them, haven’t seen the faces of the audiences I read to nodding their heads in approval, haven’t seen those audiences grow with each reading. If I hadn’t seen this progress, I may have succumb too. I may have been right there with everyone else waving the white flag of consolation.

But it’s too late for me; I belong in the field. It’s too late for me to turn back now and say “I gave it my best shot.” I see how the power of my words have inspired some and impressed others, I see how much further I have to go and I’m more than up to the challenge. Giving in is not an option, breaking is not an option, being satisfied is not even a consideration. I’m just getting started, touching new people, gathering new readers, making more money which is opening more opportunities. My duty to this world has not been fulfilled just yet.

So I tip my hat to those of you who have gracefully bowed out of this journey toward greatness. I congratulate you for making it this far. My path is the road less traveled and my footprints will be seen.

Till next time….

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