Monday, August 1, 2016

The Next Chapter: A Survival Guide

Hey guys!

As a young adult, I'm going to be looking for work and a new place to live very soon. I'm entering into my last year of my education, and all I can think about is what I'm going to do after I graduate.

Life is going to change drastically and I need to be ready. I may be a bit ahead of myself, but this is how I operate. I try to plan out my future even when there are countless unknowns.

I do, however, have every right to be worried. I'm visually impaired and have had parents supporting me my entire life. I've never been on my own. I'm scared that because of this, I'll be asking for help sooner than I want to. 

In lieu of my approaching adulthood, I have been thinking about tools I could use during the process. As a result, today we are talking about tools for survival. We can all use these ideas when we enter into a new or unfamiliar chapter. Journey with me through these different ideas, and see if any of them resonate with you. Each tool is written in bold. 

Think on your toes.
I wanted to start general and then move towards more specific tools later. Thinking on your toes can mean many things. Check out this list. If you think on your toes you...
  • anticipate possible problems 
  • respond quickly to those problems
  • respond calmly and collectively to those problems
  • assess the current situation when you enter into it, or even before you enter into it
  • immediately weigh the pros and cons
  • are always sensitive and aware of your surroundings (people places, and events
Thinking on your toes is the opposite of being lazy. It means having that lightbulb above your head turned on constantly. I struggle with this. Sometimes I don't want to think or compete or try to get ahead. My laziness gets the better of me and then I feel deep regret after the fact. 

The reality is that I need to get over this if I want to be the best version of myself. There isn't time for laziness. Opportunities come and go and if you aren't thinking, you will miss them. Just be smart. That's what I tell myself. Put a little more thought into everything. 

Buy your choreographer a thank you card with your email address in it. Or, introduce yourself to your professor after the first class. It's the acts like this that will start to become really beneficial habits. Eventually, you will naturally think on your toes and will have to turn down certain opportunities because you won't have time.

To summarize, think quickly, think ahead, and most importantly, think big.

Fake it til' you make it.
Fake it til' you make it just means that you shouldn't show people that you're uncomfortable or out of your element. Instead, have confidence (even if it's fake) and vitality during difficult endeavors.

For example, today was the first time in 3 months that I wore my pointe shoes during ballet class. That's a long time for a dancer, and I was afraid of looking out of shape and weak. I was nervous and insecure on the inside, but determined, focused, and calm on the outside. I acted like the class was no big deal, even though it was my first class back on pointe!

To my surprise, I wasn't that out of shape, my feet didn't hurt that bad, and the steps weren't that hard. The expectation that it would be a difficult class was pushed aside because I pretended like I was fine. I faked it til' I made it through that class. Before I knew it, the class was over and I was enjoying a Starbucks. 

When you don't act like you're scared, you can surprise yourself. If you don't put energy into negative outcomes/feelings, then you leave room for the positive ones. 

Fake it until you make it through whatever it is that you are afraid of! If you have a specific experience, comment and let me know!

Quit comparing.
This is one of my favorite tools because it's close to home. I have always compared myself to other dancers. I either wanted this girl's feet, or her ability to turn, or the amount of attention she was getting from the teacher. 

Sometimes, I would take other people's successes as my own personal failures. I would be upset because some one else got something amazing, like a dance company contract or an acceptance into a selective summer program. 

I have recently learned that comparison is pointless and painful. No one should live that way. It feels great to just be excited and hopeful for your own journey. Quit thinking about what other people get. 

This video of comedian and TV personality, Chelsea Handler is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Watch and learn from her. She hits the nail on the head.

Go with your gut.
This is a really self explanatory tool. Go with what you feel is right. Trust your intuition whenever you are questioning a decision or having problems. I bet you that 9 times out of 10, your gut will tell you the correct answer. I love quotes, enjoy these about intuition!

Say goodbye to shy.
I used to be a shy kid growing up. With my family, I was comfortable showing my true personality, but with new people, it was hard. I often closed myself off because I was scared of what they would think of me.

This happens a lot even after people grow up. They are closed off because they are afraid of being judged.

The sooner you let go of the shy exterior that protects you, the sooner opportunities will fall into your lap. When you're shy, people will look over you or think you don't care. 

Being open (saying bye to shy) in life means that you embrace people, places, and things that come your way. Openness can't happen if you sit back and wait.
I feel as though shyness holds people back from achieving their full potential. If not in their career, shyness will make it harder for others to see the real person they are. Things don't just happen. Relationships aren't just formed.

Say goodbye to shy for a few days and see if you notice a difference in your friendships and opportunities at work.

Stay grounded.
As a dancer, I'm always trying to stay grounded in the floor so I don't fall or lose my balance. The funny thing is, is that I have  trouble staying grounded in my personal life as well. 

I live thousands of miles from California, which is where my family is and where I call home. When I'm home, I truly feel like myself. I am grounded in my actions, beliefs, and values. I can easily judge right from wrong and I feel secure with who I am. 

When I'm in New York, I feel my roots start to lift out of the ground. I start to forget who I am and who I want to become. It's such a weird conundrum I find myself in each year. I get to school, do well for a few weeks, and then slowly drift.

I'll ask myself, "Who should I be hanging out with? Are they the kind of people I want to be hanging out with? Why can't I seem to feel comfortable with the people that are surrounding me?"

I've learned that family is a huge tool for staying grounded. There really is no place like home. To stay grounded, it's important to constantly remind yourself of where you came from. The reminder of home will keep everything in perspective. 

I have pictures of my family all over my dorm room. Each year I make a new collage and put it above my bed. My collages look a lot like this. 

Another amazing tool for staying grounded is a dream/vision board. A dream/vision board is a collage of a bunch images that capture your biggest goals and dreams. On mine, I have pictures of famous dancers I admire, renowned choreographers I want to work with, and inspirational words of encouragement. 

I highly recommend you make one because they remind you of what's important. 

There is a lot of negative minutia in life that can bring us down. These dream/vision boards help counteract all the crap that makes us feel bad. On a dream/vision board, everything is happy, hopeful, positive.

I want to keep mine and look back years later. I've heard stories about people's lives resembling their dream boards. Use this link and make oneHow to make a dream or vision board on Pinterest, so many options. 

I hope you can benefit from a few of these survival tools. I know I will during my last year of college and first year as a real adult. Wish me luck!

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