Tag : inspiration

6 things i’ve learnt about fear, dreams, success and happiness

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This post was originally published in Portuguese last year, on the week of my fifth anniversary of living in New Zealand. It’s one of my most popular posts and because the same topics kept coming up in different conversations ever since, I decided to translate it.

The first time I came to NZ, in 2003, I was only 16 and I lived in Hamilton for six months as an exchange student. Then I went back to Brazil and spent a few years researching and weighing my  options so I could move here with Ivan. I graduated in Journalism, but my relationship with that career had always been like unrequited love, so developing other skills and changing careers came to me quite naturally. My main objective was to come back and I didn’t really care about what kind of job I’d have, as long as it helped me to stay. So I did a few courses, saved what I could, packed my bag, said “see you later” to family and friends, and travelled to NZ. Our three month anniversary was celebrated already in Wellington.

The first few months were not easy. Our budget was very limited and our heads were filled with worry. I’m very anxious and living surrounded by uncertainty left me in shambles. When we managed to change visas and get jobs, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I was finally able to relax a bit. We’re in the process of having our residency sorted, it’s still stressful but things improved a lot.

But even with all of these accomplishments, one question still bothering me: when will I become the person I’ve always wanted to be? I live where I’ve always wanted to live, with a husband I love very much, but I didn’t feel fulfilled because I wasn’t living like I wanted. I didn’t feel inspired professionally, couldn’t dedicate myself to the things that give me pleasure and not even socialise properly with the people I met here. Totally disheartened!

Sure, part of what was bothering was caused by external factors, but the biggest weight was coming all from within myself. And I think that I’m finally close to an answer now. I’d like to share with you the six things I’ve learnt about fear, dreams, success and happiness after giving it much thought about it, all six of them connected and related to the questions and conclusions I reached in the past few years.

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1. Failure is subjective, and so is success 

I’ve spent so much time focusing only on what I hadn’t done, or on what went wrong, that I stopped valuing and appreciating all the things I’ve actually done. My definitions of failures were so broad and the ones of success so based on someone else’s victories that I constantly putting myself down. And the internet feels like a depository of achievements where everybody is doing great, except you. But everyone has, or at least should have, their own vision of an ideal life. Therefore, create your own definition of success, without projecting what comes from the outside. Dealing with failure becomes more bearable and you appreciate more what you put effort into accomplishing.

2. Re-evaluating expectations is key

Disappointment is something intimately linked to expectations. That’s why surprises are usually nice, if you don’t know what to expect from a situation, anything positive will be appreciate more intensely. Dosing my expectations is a continuous exercise to me. I like to be prepared to deal with all possible scenarios and I also get really pumped up by things. That’s pretty much like setting up the stage for disappointment. I’ve spent an entire week freaking out over a job interview, thinking I wasn’t prepared enough, and I’ve come back home deeply jaded after going to one of my favourite bands concert because it wasn’t the transcending experience I was hoping for. You can’t control everything! So just take a deep breath and face each moment as they come. Fantasising too much or suffering in anticipation will only get in the way.

3. Dreams will always be more perfect than reality…

There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother in which Ted is fired and he keeps stalling to kickstart his own architecture firm until he’s confronted by Robin. And he explains that he’s putting it off because while this remains a dream, it will stay perfect and it’ll never go wrong. He had already given up even before starting. And that resonated in me. The list of things I didn’t even go after because I thought it wasn’t even worth trying is huge. The idea of failing paralised me and I even tried to comfort me by thinking that was less painful than defeat, even though it was all my fault! Sometimes you won’t get what you want because of something you did, but if you’re not doing anything at all then there’s no one else to blame. And an imperfect reality guided by a dream is a lot more fulfilling than a beautiful and immaculate dream tucked away behind locked doors inside your heart.

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4. … but that doesn’t mean that happinness is just a fantasy 

Happiness isn’t about living every single day of your life in pure bliss as if every second felt like an amazing Christmas day morning straight out of a fizzy drink ad on TV. It’s something possible, for sure, but more fluid, seen not just in the final results but also in the journeys. It’s knowing how to cherish the right things and focus on what helps us move forward, grow and  learn. And, because it’s real, it alternates moments of difficulties, boredom, loneliness and sadness. It’s not denying the existence of the bad stuff, but accepting it’s all part of something larger that goes beyond chance because it is a conquest.

5. So take risks and make your own opportunities

Perfectionism is simply a pretty name for self-sabotage. The kind of perfection we demand of ourselves is so high that not even we are capable of attaining it and sometimes we end not finishing things or not even starting them because of the anxiety this thought causes us. The fear of failing is horrible! And then it’s so easy to convince yourself that your fear is justifiable and larger than everything else because fear turns you into a hostage, and then Stockholm syndrome hits. It’s something that breaks us but then with time it becomes a crutch and we hold on to it and take care of it as if it were a pet. So instead of waiting for the perfect conditions, create favourable opportunities and take risks! You’ll only surprise yourself, be it due to the outcomes or to the things you’ll learn about yourself in the process.

 6. And give yourself a break to celebrate and be thankful

One thing that really helped me organise my priorities was asking myself “a year from now, will it make any difference?”. Over 365 days so many things can happen, so much changes, everything goes by fast… Since we only find out we were living a good time after it’s done, try to enjoy the small day-to-day stuff to the fullest and show gratitude. And registering those moments on photos, journals or lists is a great way of building a “bank” of good memories that you can turn to later on if you ever need a source of strength to move on.

If you read all the way to the end, thank you very much! I’d love to know what you though of my post and what you think about this topic. What was the last fear you faced? And what did you learn from it? 🙂

5 things i learnt listening to the nerdist podcast

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If you see me with my headphones on, chances are I’ll be listening to the Nerdist podcast. On my way to work or at the gym, I don’t even listen to music anymore. And at home, I’ll turn my speakers on and listen to it while doing the dishes or any other chore. Hosted by Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick, and usually accompanied by comedians Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, the podcast is an hour long chat on nerdiness, creativity, life, work, comedy and everything in between. With over 600 episodes released since 2010, some of the guests they had on the podcast include: Sir Paul McCartney, Guillermo Del Toro, Kevin Smith, members of the cast of Community and The Walking Dead, Tom Hanks, Neil Patrick Harris, Dave Grohl, Anna Kendrick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and several other interesting and funny people. The language is totally NSFW and the jokes can be so dirty and absurd, it’s hard not to burst out laughing. But then the conversation can take a turn and become deeper and more philosophical, and it’s exactly that mix of themes that turned me into a hardcore fan. Every episode makes me see the guests under a different light and a lot of what they talk stays with me for a while. So I’ve put together a list with five things I learnt listening to the Nerdist podcast to share with you guys.

 

1. Worry is a misuse of imagination

I used to be super anxious and I’d create so many scenarios in my head, trying to convince myself that I was simply getting ready in case things went wrong. It took me years to realise that this kind of behaviour is simply a huge waste of energy and brain power. I’m doing my best to keep my anxiety to a minimum, some old habits take time to get rid of, but I function better using my imagination to good use (like updating this blog!). It’s a theme that comes back time and time again as anxiety is a common trait to creatives.

 

2. You can’t control the outcomes, but you can control your perception of them

This actually ties in perfectly with the previous idea of how worrying is pointless as you can’t really control some of the outcomes in life, but you can definitely control how you perceive them. There’s nothing wrong with failing, specially if you’re able to spin it around and see it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow. And it’s up to you what exactly can be considered a “failure” anyway, it all comes down to your own perception in the end.

 

3. Don’t compare yourself to others

Watching other people succeed can feel like looking at a negative mirror that only shows all the things you’re not doing or maybe you’re not good at, but for the sake of your own sanity, don’t let yourself fall into that trap. Honestly, no good will come out of it. Be happy for them, use it as fuel to find your own space and keep doing your own thing. Don’t allow comparison to steal your thunder. And its a bit reassuring to hear that coming out of someone as accomplished as Charlie Day, even he feels a bit jealous of Justin Timberlake’s dancing skills at times.

 

4. Be kind to yourself

It’s funny how I’d rarely treat myself with the same empathy and understanding that I offer to my friends, acquaintances or even strangers. And it’s interesting how a lot of people feel that if they were able to go back in time and tell only one thing to their past-selves it’d be to relax a bit more. On his episode, Ethan Hawke mentioned the time he interviewed Kris Kristofferson and that’s exactly what he would do. We tend to be so hard on ourselves, we worry too much and take mistakes too seriously and feel like shit close to other people’s achievements. Give yourself a break, you’ve deserve it more than you think you do!

 

5. Enjoy your burrito 

Episode 39 with Rainn Wilson marks the birth of the Nerdist mantra now used to close every episode, based a motto Jonah came up with while struggling with his career in comedy early on. Basically the only good thing in his life at the time was having his favourite burrito and one day he got really depressed as he was halfway done and realised he’d have to get back to his crappy job once he finished eating. So he decided to enjoy the moment, treasure it, and worry about the future and other stuff later. It’s a nerdy carpe diem, a reminder to not get so caught up in minor problems and cherish the present as you’re living it. We tend to idolise the past or put a lot of expectations in the future, and end up forgetting to enjoy the delicious burrito we might have right this second in our hands. I used to think of carpe diem as a philosophy too hedonist for someone as anxious as me but now I see it more like being grateful for your blessings so you can experience them fully. Plus, it’s also quite cool to hear actors with beautiful voices and accents like Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston saying it as their episodes come to and end.

 

Bonus lesson
Polarise, don’t neutralise: this was brought up the first time TJ Miller was on the podcast when they discussed how it’s always better to cause a reaction and stand by your work and your art than simply follow whatever everybody else is doing just to be liked. Find your own voice, be truthful to yourself, and your audience will get it and accept you.

 

What about you, what podcasts do you listen to? Any meaningful life lessons? Maybe I can make an exception and give a chance to something new if it sounds interesting. 😉

the day i went to the supermarket wearing bright lipstick

 

If I had to use only one word to define Shirley Manson, it’d be fierce.

She’s an incredibly talented bad ass queen and I’ve totally asked myself “what would Shirley do?” a few times when I needed some guidance facing challenging situations. So on Monday, while I was setting up my spare room/office and practising my lines to record my scholarship application video, I noticed that my voice was a bit shaky, my hands were freezing and my face was so pale. I was freaking out!

Then I took a deep breath and immediately thought of Shirley Manson’s favourite lipstick: MAC’s Lady Danger. I bought it as a birthday present for myself this year and I don’t really wear make-up that much but I needed an extra dose of courage and confidence. For a long time I saw make-up as way of hiding flaws but now, even though laziness is still my default mode, I appreciate the idea of enhancing features you’re proud of.

It also reminded of the first MAC lipstick I bought, six years ago in NYC, following a good friend‘s advice. And It shifted my mindset completely. I was still nervous but brave enough to go ahead. And the end result was better than I expected, the sky had cleared up and the natural lighting was amazing. All that felt so natural that I finished recording the video, baked some more cupcakes, fast forward 3 hours I noticed my fridge was empty so I went to the supermarket and only when I returned home I noticed that I still had the lipstick on. And you know what? It didn’t feel awkward at all. I only got smiles, not a single weird look. I might do it again actually.

What about you? Who’s your role model and what inspires courage in you? 🙂