Thursday, March 18, 2010

Expectations, expectations...

Its so interesting. There are times where I feel extreme elation, and then there are times where I feel sad, and confused. Today is one of those days. The day has been such an odd mix of laughter, thoughtful conversation, self-reflection, and sadness. I don't know, it has been weird. And I feel weird. Constantly people come up to me and say things like, "Oh you're SO mature for your age" ; "My goodness, I would have never guessed you were a freshman"; "Wow, you always seem so confident of yourself"; etc. etc. And I agree. I know that I am an extreme old soul. I feel like I have been on this world once before, maybe even twice! But with this added "maturity" comes added responsibility. Even though I act like I have everything together, inside, I (like many people on a daily basis) go through moments of emotional confusion. I don't want people to expect too much from me, because I'm still trying to figure out my own expectations.

There are things that I should be doing, should be thinking, should be striving for, and when I see other people doing what I believe I should be, I feel an automatic tinge of jealousy. Actually, I spoke about that to someone. We spoke about rating one's success in comparison to that of others. May be this is my fatigue talking. I have not gotten a decent night of sleep in the past week. It has been tough. I think it's time to go to bed. Te quiero.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Post Overload!

Ha. Ha. Ha. You can tell that I am in the mood for typing no? Well, there is just ONE more thing that I want to share with you. It is a loosely constructed essay of one of my friends named Mark. He and I were discussing the evolution of social issues here in the United States, and our current generation's stand on several different social issues. He had already been writing this essay for one of his classes, but our conversation gave him some additional inspiration. And I must say, some of the points he mentions are legitimate. Here is a sample:

"I think this generation is different in a few ways: we grew up in a time of peace that this world has not seen since becoming a global society. The 1990s were a time of complacency, and prosperity following the cold war. And there were no major conflicts America was involved in until the current Iraq war. Second, we are a generation that desires progress. We just don’t know where. Similar to the 1960s, we desire social change. There just aren’t as concrete of things or causes to latch onto. The 1960s was a rebellion against classical social normalcy and values lasting for hundreds of years, it was also a reaction to the militaristic upbringing they had most of their parents having served overseas in one of the world wars. The problem with today is that there is no social norm. We just don’t know what to do with our desire. We have a unique ability to be aware of global issues, but we haven’t been forced into rebelling like the 1960s were. This isn’t a reaction to something we dislike; it’s an effort to find our purpose as individuals. That’s the glaring difference between the current generation of young people, and their parents. Because the world is so huge, and because we are so aware of global society, we don’t know where to find ourselves. There is nowhere we can’t go and nothing we can’t potentially do. There aren’t societal limitations."

"It isn’t that this generation is lazy or unmotivated, they just don’t know exactly where they are driving. Much of the apathy observed is a result of this lack of conflict I think, because conflict breeds diversity and development. It forces people to look at things in new ways, and that is something we have severely lacked. This is why we started freaking out when this recession hit. No one knew what to do.

I think all the Internet blogging and YouTube and Facebook is all a clear indication that we are trying to work out how it is we are going to define our lives. How can we choose a direction? People were pushed in a direction, but now people aren’t."

What do you think? Do you believe that he has made some valid arguments?

Are we really rewarded for our good deeds?

That is what I was taught. That if I did good deeds, I would be rewarded. Really? Is it worth it do be a good person? Sometimes I feel it isn't. Is being an out-standing person enjoyable? Honestly, sometimes I believe it isn't. I try to be a good person. Holding doors, saying thank you, greeting people with a smile, genuinely asking a person about their day, doing favors, going 'out-of-the-way', not asking too much help from others, being polite, being friendly....blah blah blah. When you do these things on a constant basis and receive no type of reciprocation, it becomes disheartening. You WANT something in return. You wonder if anyone really sees your effort.

Guess what? They do. This past week demonstrated that to me. I was really second-guessing my pursuit of being a "good-person". Bleh! It took too much work. I was tired of putting so much time, effort, and compassion towards others just to receive lukewarm results. However, what I realized was that I WAS being rewarded. However, I was being rewarded subtly, not in the ways that I thought of. A hug from a thankful roommate and friend was a reward. Their sincere words of thanks was a reward. A compliment from a stranger was a reward. An uplifting and ridiculously humorous conversation between good friends (almost like family) was a reward.

And when I put it in that perspective, I have been rewarded ten fold this week. Lesson learned? I shouldn't expect the extraordinary from individuals, nothing grand. That way of thinking is too pompous, too selfish. And compliments should not be the motivation of a good deed. But when least expected, be expected to be rewarded for being a good person.

There are many of us out there. And I would like to give my thanks to all of you. Please continue to brighten the day with your smiles and your demeanor. Don't give up. Don't become bitter. I love you.

A Great Conversation Summary...

I hated how the length of the conversation I had with my roommate looked on the blog. So I decided to delete it. However! I DO want to summarize the points that she and I mentioned.

First of all, let me give you the setting that invited this intense conversation. While Gloria and I were in the room, one of our hall mates came into the room and began speaking to me about her plans to go on a mission trip to Jamaica. In addition to the trip, she began speaking to me about how she wants to devote her life to helping others, especially in impoverished countries. She spoke about her disdain of our current global situation, and her desires to try to bring awareness to the different conflicts that plague others. She spoke sincerely, and kind-heartedly. However, while she was speaking, my skepticism and criticism of her grew.

The thing is that I have heard the exact phrases she used time and time again, but by other people. And what were some of the characteristics of these "other" people? They, like she were white, female, young, college-aged, religious, middle-class. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with anyone who shares those characteristics, but this is a pure GENERALIZATION of what I have seen. Consequently, as this one particular hall-mate of mine spoke, I was reminded of the countless other females I had encountered who had told me their goals of helping impoverished peoples as well.

Immediately what I thought was: "Oh, here comes another rich white girl who wants to go to an impoverished country, work with little orphan children, and come back and say how 'life-changing' her experience was." I know, I know, how cynical of me! But I only came to that conclusion because I have already seen it done SOOOO many times. I was angered. And actually, I still am angered to a certain degree.

Let me be real. You know what I don't like about some of "those" girls is that they view going on these "life-saving" trips as a checklist on their "How-to-be-a-better-person checklist". The thing that angers me is that many times they go to these countries not knowing a thing about the people, their culture, their struggles, and their point of view. Additionally, it is pity they show instead of genuine concern. You see, if many of "those" girls were GENUINELY concerned, they would have begun their research and their dedication to a cause at HOME. Ask yourself, how can a person who lusts over "GOING TO AFRICA!" and "HELPING POOR AFRICANS" be effective in their endeavor if they don't speak to, spend time with, or learn about "AFRICANS" on a daily basis?

Oooh it frustrates me so much! And unfortunately I believe that I unfairly took out my frustration on the dear hall-mate of mine. I was tired of seeing countless ignorant people wanting to "change the world", when THEY themselves needed to change their way of thinking! More so, what so many people DO NOT understand is that sure these programs help certain people for a little while, but once they leave, the people they initially came to help revert to their old ways of living, which means STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE. You know what REAL change involves? It involves DEDICATION. Dedication and time that many people are not willing to devote.

More so, I do not like the way these trips promote stereotypes of people in developing countries. Not all of we "Africans", "South Americans", or "East Asians" need the great 'white saint' to come and save us. Do you know what we need? We need money. We need better infrastructure in our countries. We need CONSTANT publicity about our plans, not just when it is convenient. Ugh.

You see? Unfortunately all these emotions swelled up when I was talking to her. And, honestly, I let her have it. I kind-of grilled her. I un-fairly did, but all I wanted was for she to reflect upon her reasons for going to Jamaica and her desires to help other people. Is it because of a religious obligation? Moral obligation?

So this is my official apology hall-mate. Not of the points I mentioned or the ideas I brought up, but of the way I did so. I did not mean to grill you. I wanted you to think. And like I said to you before, start your process of change on a local level. Genuinely learn to love and care not just about the people you want to help, but of their culture. And please, the LAST thing we minority peoples need is pity. And lastly, maintain your dedication to whatever endeavor you embark upon. That is the ONLY way you will see the change you desire. And I sincerely want you to enjoy your trip to Jamaica. Be safe, and be happy.

That is all.