From The Heart

I haven’t posted anything for over a month – a result of several factors, I guess. In terms of significance, the two main reasons would be that I spent three quarters of this time lying on a beach in Greece, and the fact that I didn’t really know what to write about. You see, I’ve been pretty busy, but not necessarily in the best way. Apart from my (not-so) little vacation, things have been slightly…tricky?

The saying “not everything will go according to plan” is a popular one, yet we don’t always fully acknowledge it every time we make those plans. In our mind, everything seems logical and perfect – you take the following steps to obtain the following results. But life is a messy, messy thing – for some more than others.

As far as I know, the majority of us have things we don’t wish to talk about, especially in detail, which is why we prefer to hide them from the world and build a much happier image of ourselves. However, this can be pretty detrimental since we end up feeling like only we are the ones who are going through some sort of mess, when in reality, very few people are as happy as they look in their Instagram pictures. Promise.

I’m less tolerant to discomfort; when things go wrong, I complain. No, it’s not because I’m ungrateful, but because I don’t think it’s necessary to try and hide normal human reactions. Listening to others’ advice can be good, but when my mum occasionally mentions that “things could be much worse” I can’t help but get slightly irritated. Following the logic, you should also consider that things could be much better, which is something I strive for. However, I also continue doing what I initially planned to do, since the universe is not about to wait for some 20-year-old female from a small country to sort her issues.

Life is hard, life is messy, and life loves to fuck you over sometimes. And the funniest part is that, until we die and see (or not) what the last several decades have been all about, we will never know why some individuals tend to get luckier, and some don’t. In my culture, it is a social sin to refer to yourself as “unlucky”, since there are always people who have it way worse. Also, many people are scared to refer to themselves as such, mainly because they think they will genuinely become unlucky.

If luck could be measured on a scale, I honestly don’t know where I would place myself. Since this is purely subjective, I don’t know whether it is an accurate assessment of the current state of affairs. I know that one’s quality of life depends on how much effort they put in, and I know for a fact that I put in a lot of effort. But there are also a lot of things that keep going sideways: from work, to health, to people, to general little unpleasant surprises. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very far from depressed, since I’ve got a lot to appreciate and a lot to look forward to. Not depressed or sad, just slightly tired. In fact, the problems I mentioned above are somewhat manageable; they just require dedication and patience. I guess I’m in the process of accepting that everything is always much more picturesque in our head; we see an empty highway instead of what is actually there – a long, winded maze.

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I Know That I Don’t

Most people come to a point in their lives where they are no longer sure of who they are, what they want and what the future holds. I like to refer to it as the 20-something crisis; a more optimistic version of the mid-life crisis, during which people seem to forget “how to life” for a period of time. In spite of the fact that being unsure is a perfectly natural state of mind, our society is very unforgiving towards those who express reasonable doubt.

Not knowing what to do is somehow unacceptable in the 21st century. I mean, how can one NOT KNOW what they are striving towards? So many resources! So much support! So much good (although standardized) education! So when successful stockbroker Jordan’s teenage daughter comes home from school one day and says “Dad, I’m not sure what I want to study at college”, it is likely that she will receive the following answer: “Don’t be silly honey, you’ve always wanted to study finance!” (cheers to anyone who got the reference)

However, doubting earlier ideas is definitely not silly – it’s a sign of a healthy rational thought process. The problem lies in how we see the concept of knowledge itself, and how that affects the way in which we perceive the sentence “I don’t know”. Theoretically, knowledge is a very factual concept, based on information which can be tested for validity. We know that the earth revolves around the sun; that a year has 365 days; that plants photosynthesize and so on. So when we are unaware of certain facts, we perceive it as a gap in our knowledge.

But here’s the problem – not all knowledge is factual and unchanging (not to mention that “facts” often change throughout the years themselves). So what we think we “know” concerning who we are, what we want and what the future holds is, in fact, a vague idea. It’s okay to “not know”, because you never really knew in the first place anyway.

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On The Peculiarity of Life

I didn’t expect to be gone for over ten days, but I also didn’t expect things many things. The last couple of weeks have been busy, messy and full of surprises. Suddenly there were so many things to do/sort; from work, to medical, to personal – which always happens before I go to Greece for some reason. I’m also required to drink this tiny pill for a few months, which is pretty light in general but occasionally causes the annoying side-effect of insomnia. Guess who got lucky.

Anyway, all of this chaos got me thinking about how weird life can get. When you really think into things, life starts to seem like one big trip. No, seriously. You’re born pretty much by chance, and then spend the rest of your years feeling like you’re the center of the universe before your body shuts down one day and hell knows what happens next. But while you’re still alive, you experience things in a very particular way, and automatically assume that others must be feeling life the same way. But when you think about it, they don’t.

See, this is the part that really gets me. Because you’re YOU, everything you see/touch/smell/hear/taste is filtered through your own personal prism of how you experience things. And that’s why we automatically assume that everyone probably has the same general feelings towards the concept of life. But it’s not like that in reality.

Before you think I’m on some kind of drug (God, I love G-Eazy references), I do not condone substance abuse, so I’m really not about the stoner life. It’s just something that’s been on my mind lately, and as much as I’m keeping this blog more “serious” than my last, you are going to get some trippy philosophical posts from time to time.

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Taking the Red Pill: From “The Matrix” to Politics

If you’ve ever seen the 1999 science-fiction classic “The Matrix”, or have simply been keeping up with certain socio-political events, it is likely that you will be familiar with the red pill/blue pill analogy. However, to those of you who are unaware, let me briefly explain:

The whole concept of these two pills – and no, we are not talking about recreational drugs – is that it’s a metaphor for truth. The idea was first explored “The Matrix”, where the protagonist is offered to take a blue pill and wake up believing whatever he wants, or take a red pill and be exposed to the truth (no matter how unpleasant it may be). A peculiar but somewhat useful analogy, which is currently being considered from a political point of view. A lot of the time, people refuse to explore ideas outside of their comfort zone, thinking that their beliefs are the only ones worth listening to. It doesn’t matter if the opposing party brings rational, valid arguments – in most cases, the red pill will always be discarded for the blue.

Speaking from a political standpoint, it is no secret that there has always been a major divide between the left (liberals) and the right (conservatives). As of now, this division is perfectly reflected by the current state of America. Now, if you are a US citizen, please don’t be insulted and automatically assume that I am bashing your country; it was just a very tempting example, since things are evidently messed up at the moment. Ever since Trump came to power (and before that too, come to think of it), there has been an open conflict between the two sides. Liberals are often referred to as “Social Justice Warriors” and “Snowflakes” by the right, whilst they themselves refer to the right as “Nazis” or “White Supremacists”. And with the popularity of the internet, disagreements like this are much more intense.

Since a significant number of the younger generation (i.e. everyone under 30) seems to lean more towards the left, the internet – especially websites like Tumblr and YouTube – have always been populated by liberals. However, at some point, they ended up going overboard, giving birth to the Buzzfeed generation. Suddenly, left-wing politics stopped being about tolerance and acceptance, and became a frighteningly radicalized form of liberalism; people began screaming “oppression” at every corner, privilege became a crime and anyone who disagreed with them was either racist, sexist, trans-phobic, Islamophobic or trying to harass them. This angered conservatives, who turned to the opposite extreme and started a trend of “Anti-SJW” channels, some of which include Andy Warski, Bearing, Hunter Avallone and many more.

Initially, the main motive of these channels was to show how brainwashed these extreme liberals are, and point out flaws in their arguments. However, instead of encouraging an intellectual debate, the two sides ended up being at war. There was no dialogue between the two political and social spectrums, and almost no middle-ground – you were either on the left or on the right; either worshiping Trump or hating his guts.

Nonetheless, there has been some progress recently in terms of encouraging dialogue. I would like to bring the example of Laci Green, who was – up until now – a complete Social Justice Warrior meme (not offending her, she said so herself). However, Laci had a change of heart, and decided to reach out to some conservative content creators and discuss their points of view. Here’s what she had to say:

Personally, I neither like nor dislike her. I found some of her content educational, but most of it was somewhat annoying. However, after this video, I gained some respect for Laci.

I guess you could say that I am one of the rare cases that are neither on one end of the spectrum or the other. I like to stay as informed as possible, choosing the most logical argument instead of the one that best corresponds to my beliefs. This whole conflict really got me thinking about how we, as a society, should learn how to communicate with people that hold opposing viewpoints to ours. Although we may have some strong beliefs on certain controversial topics, in doesn’t make them the only valid ones. Also, it doesn’t automatically mean that anyone who disagrees with us is fundamentally wrong – it just shows a clash of ideas.

Going back to my initial metaphor, everyone has a choice. One can either go through life taking the blue pill, staying oblivious to the fact that other opposing viewpoints can also be rational, or take the red pill and acknowledge the validity of some of those viewpoints. Once again, it’s an individual choice, but the second option promises a better life and – on a grander scale – a more stable political climate.

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Anti-Review: Pirates of the Caribbean 5

After seeing “Dead Men Tell No Tales” on the big screen today, I initially planned to write an honest film review, picking apart the 2017 fantasy/action hit. However, in spite of the rushed story-line, occasionally bad acting and over-dramatic special effects, I simply can’t bring myself to properly criticize the fifth installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

If you are a late nineties kid like me, you will understand how special these series are. I remember watching “The Curse of the Black Pearl” when it first came out in 2003, and being totally swept into the story-line. As a naive seven-year-old, I remained pretty much oblivious to some key elements of the plot; however, I was old enough to understand how awesome Jack Sparrow was, how Keira Knightly was the perfect combination of badass and beautiful and the pure “epicness” of the main soundtrack (“He’s A Pirate”, or shall I say DUN, DUN, dundundunDUDUN). There’s just something about each and every Pirates of the Caribbean movie that leaves you slightly amazed, emotional and possibly depressed about how boring modern life seems in comparison.

Nonetheless, the series’ popularity is anything but a coincidence. The combination of a captivating story-line, incredible camera shots, stunning special effects and memorable characters all add to the whole brand that is “Pirates of the Caribbean”. When analyzed from a more technical, filmography-based perspective, the series is definitely not perfect; there are several elements which are repetitive, irritating and often confusing. But considering how dear the series is to me, I can’t sit here and pick apart something that I and so many other kids have grown up with.

Seeing Johnny Depp on screen as Jack Sparrow literally makes my day; his trademark half-drunkenness, dry sense of humour and ability to get out of any dilemma relatively unharmed is weirdly motivational. It’s also refreshing to see a more complex protagonist; someone who is not “the good guy”, but not a villain either – just someone who has experienced life. And what made me even happier was seeing Kaya Scodelario play runaway astronomer Carina Smyth, since I grew up watching her as Effie Stonem on “Skins”.

Alongside the majority of other millennials, I have a particular love for “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Not only are the films incredibly captivating, but they are also very comforting and dear for us. In fact, I might just do a movie marathon soon.

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Let’s Talk About Willpower

Willpower – something that stops us from lying in bed all day with our laptops, right?

It is no secret that the majority of people have certain mandatory responsibilities, whether it be work, university, school, children or even just grocery shopping. It is also no secret that the majority of people tend to feel lazy – some more than others. This is why humans are equipped with this mysterious magic weapon by the name of “willpower”.

Since willpower is intangible, it cannot be observed by the naked eye. Nonetheless, its consequences are always visible; the university student sighs, hits the off button on their alarm clock, gets up, makes coffee, gets into the shower and proceeds to crawl to their morning lecture. Although they don’t always want to hear about Macroeconomics at 9 am, they know it’s mandatory, so they gather all of their remaining willpower and go.

Based on the slightly odd description above, it can be concluded that willpower forces us to do the things we don’t want to do and stops us from doing the things we do want to do (Google seems to agree with me). However, I personally did not require any background analysis to understand the concept since I’ve been in an unstable relationship with my own willpower for the majority of my life.

They say that willpower is like a muscle – it can be trained. At first, it seems strange to refer to something intangible as a “muscle”, but this statement actually makes perfect sense. Let’s think about it; although the majority of people seem to have the basic level of willpower that forces them to complete mandatory tasks (except for that kid who has more fails than passes, or that one friend googling how much strippers make because “I’m done, I just can’t get up for work in the morning!”), there seem to be several levels to  this “invisible muscle”:

1) Willpower Base – forces us to do the most mandatory tasks, such as survival, education, work, looking after our children etc.

2) Trained Willpower – forces us to do the tasks that are not mandatory, but improve quality of life, such as exercising, following a (more or less) healthy diet, maintaining a good social circle, working on self-development through hobbies and interests etc.

3) Higher-Level Willpower – forces us to be in control of our feelings and emotions; gives us the ability to rule our minds by (almost instantly) dismissing negative thoughts and encouraging positive ones, allows us to drastically change what we don’t like about our personalities through repeated mental training.

Now, these three levels shouldn’t be taken as a confirmed theory; these are just my suggestions, and how I visualize the concept. What concerns my position; I suppose I’m still working on the second level. Although the third level is the most challenging, I believe it is easier to successfully transition from the second to the third rather than from the first to the second.

Last night, I decided to do that activity where you write down a list of your problems and then include a rational solution under each one. And you know what? I was somewhat amazed to see that all of my problems could be solved via stronger willpower. Don’t get me wrong; the concept itself isn’t going to eliminate all possible issues in one day, but it is a crucial element to completing the required steps of every solution. Since I don’t want this post to be personal, let’s consider a hypothetical example:

Jane weighs 95 kilograms (not a pseudonym – I’m 55). Although she is pretty heavy, she is not suffering from any health issues and her doctor told her that as long as she doesn’t gain any more weight, it is unlikely that any issues will arise in the near future. Therefore, it is not mandatory for her to lose weight. However, Jane is still unhappy; she feels unconfident in her skin, suffers from fatigue on a daily basis, and finds herself unable to walk up a flight of stairs without losing her breath. Now, if my hypothetical woman only possesses the first level of willpower, she will stay at her current weight, since all of the current problems related to it are not completely detrimental to her existence. However, if Jane masters the second level, it is likely that she will find herself 30 kilograms lighter by this time next year. Why? Because she will use that willpower to improve her diet, take part in regular exercises, make healthier choices and so on.

And you know what the funniest thing is? Getting to the second level isn’t hard. We’ve convinced ourselves into thinking that training our willpower is unpleasant and difficult, but it really shouldn’t be when considered from a step-by-step perspective. Going back to my example, it seems much harder to make lifestyle changes that will allow one to dr

I don’t know about you, but this seems pretty mind-blowing. I mean, think about how many people would achieve their goals via stronger willpower by taking it one step at a time instead of considering them on a grander scale. Doing a bit of extra math every day instead of constantly reminding yourself that you need an A by the end of the semester is more likely to get you that A, because now you are less overwhelmed. Willpower training is just like a good work-out: if you view it as a chore, yet expect outstanding results, you’re not going to get anywhere. I know it sounds cliché, but (for the most part), we are in control of achieving whatever we want; the only thing to remember is that we should learn how to channel our willpower in the right way.

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A Couple of Words on Words

Although I promised this blog would be less personal, I feel like I have to start with some grand opening. A new blog is like a new year; it brings expectations, inspiration and is always better with a bottle of wine/champagne/cranberry vodka. Since I’m currently on medication (again), the last one is off limits. However, I’m still going to give my new project the flashy opening it deserves.

Many people don’t understand the purpose of blog – especially if it’s not monetized (but hey, who knows what the future holds). I mean, what’s the point of just writing about things? After all, there are professional writers and journalists out there who hold the responsibility of transferring information via words and obtaining a significant sum of money in return. For some bloggers, writing is a fun hobby on the side, but for me – it’s a necessity.

For me, it’s not just about blogging, but about writing in general. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved to both read things and create things to be read. I’m not talking about teenage years, oh no. When I say “ever since I can remember”, I literally mean ever since I can remember – probably around eight or nine. As I got older, I began to read more “serious” books, keep proper journals instead of random tiny notebooks and even start random blogs from time to time. I also began to put extra effort into all of my essays simply because it was fun for me.

Two years ago, when I turned eighteen, I decided to open a WordPress blog. This time I didn’t get tired of it, and wrote regular posts for nearly two years. Someday I might link it here if I feel like sharing all of that personal content. During this time, I also started to make money by establishing myself as a freelance writer, taking on a wide range of orders; from essays, to product descriptions, to marketing texts and scripts for start-ups. Not only was I receiving cash for it, but I was genuinely enjoying the writing process.

Fast forward to now, when I’m at the somewhat unstable and chaotic age of twenty. I say unstable because at this age – at least for the majority – people are often confused. My head is constantly filled with questions, such as

  • What do I want to be when I graduate university next year?
  • Do I want a gap year or go straight to masters?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • What internship do I want?
  • What kind of people do I want to be friends with?
  • What qualities do I want in a partner?
  • Do I even want a partner?
  • What if I don’t want to date anyone but being single is boring?
  • Should I just marry a millionaire?
  • Billionaire?
  • What gym do I want to go to?
  • Should I fix my guitar or am I not interested in playing anymore?
  • How can I make more money with minimal effort?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Are tomatoes a vegetable or a fruit?

In spite of so much indecisiveness, the thing that has solidly remained with my throughout these years is my love for writing. It calms me down, gives me a purpose and even allows me to educate others from time to time. Writing is fun too, and you learn a lot about yourself based on the topics you decide to write about. Looking back on my old journal entries and even my own blog posts, I can see what things have changed and what has stayed the same. Overall, writing is great, and I can’t imagine ever not doing it in one form or another. That’s probably why I’m sat here, typing the second post of my second blog, wondering how many more things like this I’m going to do in my life.

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