Another Year Gone

I suppose it wouldn’t be New Years Eve without a sentimental and cliche blog post to reminisce on the year as a whole and the implications of a unit of time passing yet again, ceasing to exist but in our memories.  This past year has taught me a lot about myself, mainly through difficult and uncomfortable situations that I threw myself into.  This situations were almost all stumbled upon through my travel experiences and the adventures I planned and embarked on with friends. Traveling can teach a lot; improvisation, learning how to communicate with resources other than words, and learning the intricacies of a culture and how to connect with people bearing vastly different cultural roots than one’s own.  I am beyond grateful for the experiences I have had, and with trips to Paris, Prague, Barcelona, Madrid, New York City, and Greece, you’d think one of my favorite moments would have happened in one of those cities. Sure, I loved every moment of every trip I went on this year, but the experience or exposure I am the most grateful for this year is listening to my dad when he essentially forced me to start reading the book “Choose Yourself” by James Altucher. I normally loathe the idea of reading a self-help book, but this book was so much more than just petty advice and motivational speeches disguised within the pages of a paperback. It was raw and true life advice, from a successful failure of man who has ridden the roller-coaster of life through the peaks and valleys more than most. I won’t ramble too much on this book in this post, but I highly encourage all people looking for answers and the little keys to unlock their potential to read his book.  It helped me to see inside myself and to see through all the bullshit that is thrown in our faces and normalized everyday, James breaks the rules and shows you how to achieve success without appeasing the expectations of society. My favorite piece from the book is the Daily Practice, or “becoming an idea machine” – essentially writing down every idea you get each day for a set amount of time.  The ideas can be average, good or bad, it doesn’t matter, what is important is that you train your brain to become creative and to generate ideas to the liking of a modern piece of machinery.  This is what has helped me the most. The ideas I have learned to generate through this practice reassure me that a lot of the things I am force fed aren’t so important. As a Junior in college at the University of Minnesota, I feel especially lost in a sea of 50,000 undergraduates, all whom seem to know a lot more about what they want to do than I do. It has caused me great anxiety and unrest throughout my education, but thankfully this book has helped me to see past a lot of my anxious struggles and instead focus on my ideas, choosing myself, for success and a bright future, regardless of how many “points” I am able to earn in a classroom in comparison to my peers.

2013 was a great year for me, and I hope it was for all of you. In 2014, I want to encourage you all to Choose Yourselves and forge an amazing and successful future, regardless of any obstacles society throws your way. We are all responsible for taking the risks and relishing the rewards that we earn, and in 2014 there lies 365 days of opportunity to make every moment count.

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