Accepting Criticism

Hey guys! I know it’s been a while, buuuut… I recently traveled to Australia!!! I did a week-long program that united other scholars from different countries with a common interest in business and entrepreneurship! It was an amazing experience and I hope that in the coming posts I can share with you some very important things that I have learned from this whole excursion.

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Photo by Catarina Sousa on Pexels.com

The week consisted of waking up early, getting on the bus on time, taking notes from various speakers, seeing new things and meeting new people, as well as learning from these people.

The one thing that I gained from this program has got to be the willingness to accept criticism. Not destructive, but constructive criticism. One day, we were in Melbourne at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and we were doing an exercise– as directed by a professor of that University– that was called an “elevator pitch”. For those wondering what an elevator pitch is, it’s basically a hypothetical (but possible) situation where you try to get a potential employer of a company that you have a strong desire to work for them, to look your way and consider you as a candidate for a job at their company. All while you’re in the elevator with them. It’s really fascinating! Here’s the prompt:

the challenge was: we had to keep this short, sweet and to the point. All under 2 minutes. Starting off, I did something simple.. which was follow the exact skeleton of this flow chart:

The Professor then asked for 3 people to come on up to the front of the room. I raised my hand because, well, why the fuck not? I wanted to learn how to craft a good pitch that didn’t sound too wordy.

So I go first, but before I started, the professor asks me what job am I going for and what type of company: both of which were already answered on this little piece of paper I had. I basically read off of my constructed flow chart and I trip up a bit, and as a result, I ran out of time.

It was time for people to critique me and give me their honest opinion of my elevator pitch. I’m not going to lie to you, but I felt like I was being attacked. People left and right were critiquing me really hard and I really was resisting the urge to talk back to them. But then in that same moment, I realized that I was taking it way too personal. I chose to do this because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.

So I listened intently to the people who were giving me feedback, I let them ‘roast’ me. Because I’m always looking to grow as a person. Further, I noticed that we, as humans, are so quick to judge/critique someone else, yet fail to look at ourselves and see where we fall short. We neglect to see it in ourselves, but choose to see it in other people.

Accepting criticism has been one of my toughest feats. I get it on a daily basis from some friends and a good bit of my family. I’ve never been good at accepting it, because well, I thought that if its something that I’m doing wrong, I should be able to learn it by myself.  My thought process was, No one really likes being told what to do. Anytime someone critiqued me, I would get on the defensive with a lame excuse. But thankfully, all those excuses ended the day I decided to accept criticism.

I decided that in order to grow, to learn, I had to learn how to accept criticism of others who may have more experience than me. What if I land a job that requires me to learn new things and to accept constructive criticism on the daily? How is getting mad at each critique going to help me out in the long run? It won’t.

Getting mad at critiques from people who expect better, isn’t a reflection on the person giving them, it’s a reflection of the person who takes it. I mean, picture this, you’re doing your work (whether it be in college, at an internship, etc) and your superior comes up to you to give you feedback on some work. If you get angry and storm off, then it just shows that you can’t accept criticism. What person is going to hire someone who cannot take open and honest feedback?

So Back to the story… with all the constructive criticism that I received from the audience, I was then able to re position my stance a bit:

And I made it with enough time to spare! What followed after I gave this pitch another try, were less critiques. A lot of people clapped for me, while others still critiqued by saying that I sounded ‘too desperate’. Nevertheless, I learned something new that day and it gave me more of a motivation to grow and to get out of my comfort zone.

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Marrying The Right Person

So not too long ago, I watched a TED talk about how you can find the person you really need to marry.

TV writer of Mad Men and United States of Tara, TEDx presents: Tracy McMillan.

She starts her TED Talk with an interesting hook, that held my attention throughout the TED Talk, then again, Tracy is a TV writer. So this lady knows a thing or two about a thing or two, based on the experiences that she has had in her life.

She starts off by talking about the common song that we have heard (during our childhood) from our friends whenever we were in the presence of someone we liked:

“Tracy and so-and-so sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage!”

I mean I feel like all of us have heard this at some point or another. At a young age, you think that those are definitely the keys (brings in the Godfather of keys: DJ Khaled) to life. To fall in love, get married, and to have children. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out like that. It’s complete with its twists, turns, and not to mention, downfalls. In my eyes, that’s what makes it interesting.

Anyway, so McMillan puts up on the big screen how her life really panned out. She was married 3 times and out of the three marriages with men, she had a child with one of them. Divorced three times. Falls in love much later. Etc Etc. The one thing I found very interesting about this TEDx Talk, in particular, was how openly candid and positive McMillan was about her experiences in life. To me, it shows how far she has come since that time.  It’s like saying, “yeah it was shit, but I wouldn’t change the outcome of these events.” Amazing.

Time and time again, I always hear people say, ‘oh I regret all the time I spent with such-and-such person’ or something like ‘so-and-so has been an awful person throughout our whole relationship, I hope he catches an STI and dies’. That is no way to live. The events in our lives happen for a reason.  Turn a negative situation, into a positive one.

After she has a third divorce in 2005, she realized she had been marrying everyone in sight, except for the one person she needed to marry. Herself. After her many, many errors in her love life, she finally found the one thing that would change her life in a positive way. This idea became known as: Marrying Yourself. How??? As with any relationship you start off with anyone, you apply that same concept to yourself. You build a relationship with yourself and basically put a ring on it. You commit to yourself and realize that no one, nothing will come between the relationship you have with yourself. As with any kind of relationship, you make it work, you work at this relationship until you feel whole. Until you feel that you can take the next step in the relationship, taking vows for yourself.

McMillan then says that “the places where you have the biggest challenges in your life, become the places where you have the most to give.” She opens up about her life. Her parents weren’t around as much (I don’t want to go into too much detail, as I will post the link to the video at the end of this post) and she was put into the foster care system.

By the time she got out of the foster care system, she had one goal in mind and that was to never be left alone. A way she would accomplish said goal was to get married. She got married at 19 and was thrilled that she found a man who was successful and was a part of his family. 5 years later she leaves him. 10 years later she finds a new man and she gets married. She had a child with him and to this day she still has a great relationship with her now ex-husband. She makes a point about how in the process of learning to love yourself, you have to do be painfully honest to yourself. 8 years later, she gets married a third time. She then breaks it down further. Mind you, she didn’t have the best upbringing, so no one showed her what a healthy relationship between two people looks like or felt like. So when she got married the third time she says that it felt right. What felt right was the idea that she held about being in a relationship, being married. To her, being in a relationship with someone, it meant that she would be secure, that she wouldn’t have to be alone, because she had a companion to share it with.

This is where a lot of people are wrong. I learned not too long ago, that a relationship should be the overflow of your already full cup of tea. If you expect someone to fill your cup, i.e to be your one source of happiness, then you are placing a higher expectation on this particular person. When they leave, you’re still going to be left with you. Left with just an empty cup. Work on making yourself happy and then look for a man.

What McMillan is saying is that when you marry yourself, you’re not just going to date yourself and see where it ends up. You’re going to make sure you keep your promises. Yep, that’s right!  Vows. For richer or for poorer, you are going to love yourself from right. Where. You. Are. Think about it this way, you wouldn’t say to yourself: “when you make it big in Hollywood, then I’ll marry you”. The same thing goes for changing your appearance, you wouldn’t say to yourself: “Once you drop those 15 pounds, then I’ll love you”. NO! You become your own boyfriend/girlfriend. You respect yourself. You shouldn’t be a bitch to yourself. When you marry yourself, you walk yourself down the aisle, exactly where you are. For better or for worse. It’s so easy to love yourself in the times that you feel good about yourself. Some examples are (but are not limited to):

  • new hair cuts/ good hair days
  • Getting a job that aligns with your career
  • losing weight/ gaining muscle

That list could go on… But the worst, is the part we should be focusing on. Sometimes, in life, stuff never goes how you expect it will go. You could plan and schedule down to the exact minute and shit still wouldn’t go as well as you would think it would ( for more on this concept check out What Happens When We Act on Our Expectations? ). The worst is what we fear, but what we have to take into account is that, it is a part of life. Shit happens. Sometimes a relationship doesn’t work out. You didn’t get the dream home you hoped to get. Maybe you didn’t graduate from college. Maybe you have a falling out with your family. Maybe you spend too much of your time being angry and less of your time working through that anger. Whatever it is, Just know that this is all temporary. You agree to marry yourself at all costs.

Life doesn’t give you what you ask for, it gives you people, places, situations and things for you to develop the skills you asked for.

In sickness and in health: You need to get to a point where you can sit by your own bedside, nurse your own broken heart and realize that the only person who has you, is you, to have and to hold. To love yourself the way you want someone to love you.

When you make the decision to marry yourself, you are then able to love someone from where they are, for who they are. The same way you love yourself.

When you go out on dates, you shouldn’t be thinking about how you are coming off to the person, instead, think about how you feel in their presence. Do they make you feel good? Does a calming effect take place the moment you lay eyes on them? Be so committed to yourself, that you become more interested in how you feel about you, rather than how he/she feels about you.

Check out the video below!

The Person You Really Need to Marry

Living Life With Arms Wide Open

Happy New Year, guys! I am so excited for what 2018 will bring, I really hope that this year brings a ton of positive energy, lots of love, and light in all of your lives. may you accomplish the goals you have set out for yourself this year.

So, I recently got back from vacation with my family. One day, while we were out to eat, we were talking about a ton of interesting things, mainly things that we were thankful for, opportunities we never had, people in our family that we admire and the like. In the midst of the conversation, I thought about a song I had heard earlier that day called “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, more specifically I thought about the lyrics, in one part:

Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

The part that I put in bold was something that was bouncing around in my head. Living your life with arms wide open. The wording and meaning is pretty self-explanatory, but on that day it meant so much more to me for some reason. Maybe it was the topic that we were on. Maybe it was the fact that my younger sibling and I are two different people with different approaches to life. Now, I’m not saying there is a so-called right approach to life, because the way one person goes about their life isn’t the way another person would go about their own.  The way I see it, there is no right or wrong way to approach life.

My approach to life is taking advantage of opportunities and making the best of these opportunities. I’m someone who doesn’t let anything steer me away from the things that I want to do. In some respects, I’m fearless and try to live in the moment, I might even want to try to document the moment, because that’s the kind of person I am. I’m always down for an adventure with just about anyone, immersing myself in new and exciting experiences that aren’t really seen everyday. I’m loud. I’m crazy. Like I said before, there are no rules when it comes to how you’re enjoying your life.

I get this approach to life from my mom. One of the things that I love about my mom is how she lives her life with arms wide open. When I thought about those lyrics on that day, I didn’t just think about the literal term of living with your arms wide open, I thought about it a different way. To me, it means how you are able to live your life with an immense amount of love in your heart. How you can just open yourself up to feeling something real. How you can live everyday knowing it could be your last. More importantly, it brings into perspective of freeing yourself from all doubts and your insecurities.  You should be able to walk through life confidently, not letting anyone tell you how you should be living your life. Be thankful for yourself, for being present with yourself (gosh, I’m starting to sound like a yoga instructor).

Make every opportunity to be there for yourself the same way that you’re there for the amazing people in your life. Believe in yourself.

Make goals towards being a better you. Do things that you really love. Do what makes you happy. If you have trouble finding what makes you happy, then make it your goal this year to find what it is that makes your heart beat a little faster and brings a smile to your face.

New Years’ Resolutions don’t have to feel unattainable to keep. They just require work, as with anything that you want in this world. If you want something, a change, for example, then you need to put in the work for it to happen. You can’t expect anything to come to you, if you don’t try. Make it your goal to try and to work at what you really want. You want that new job/internship? Apply. You want to get fit and toned, like your fit role models? Put in more time at the gym and eat right. You want to get on the dean’s list this upcoming semester? You better hit the books and study. The list could go on, but when you think about it, these are all simple solutions to your goals.

I think what makes our resolutions feel unattainable are our expectations. Sometimes we get discouraged because we want results *snaps fingers* like that. The truth is, though, life doesn’t work out like that. You need to also learn how to be patient with yourself. Once you become patient with yourself and you hone in on how you can achieve those goals, you are then able to stay consistent with your goals.

Here’s my rule of thumb on how you can keep our New Year’s Resolutions in check, write them down and keep them in a place where you can always find them. I wrote mine down and I left the list on my desk where I can always refer to them.

But most of all, make your goal to live your life with arms wide open. Be open to new things this year. Achieve new things this year. Become a better person. Grow. Learn something new about yourself. Do more of what you love. Spend time with people who really see the amazing person you are. Live simply and strive for happiness in whatever it is that brings a smile to your face. Live for today.

Anything is possible. Sending lots of love and light your way.

Cutting Ties

I don’t know about you, but there comes a point in life where we need to cut people who have gone dormant in our lives.

Why should I even spend time thinking about people who really don’t spend a second thinking about me? If someone genuinely cared, they would reach out. I recently realized that it’s okay to cut out anyone who isn’t playing a positive role in your life or is leaving you hanging every time.

Family included. Crazy. But not uncommon.

On Christmas eve, my family and I went to go drop off gifts at a relative’s house. As we pull in, we saw the car of a family member that basically shut themselves off from the family. We walk in, lo and behold said family member was sitting at the table, eating

“Feliz Navidad” (Merry Christmas), they said.

My brother and I went to go say hi, talk with them and another family member. Before I knew it, it was time for us to leave. Through the brief conversation, here’s what was exchanged:

“Wow, did you cut your hair? looks cute.”

“Yeah, I did, thanks.”

By that point, I had to leave. So I basically told this person to not be a stranger.

But how can I tell someone to not be a stranger, if they’ve already made the decision to be one? How can someone just wake up one day and just shut themselves off from someone?

It’s surprisingly simple and unfortunately, it happens more often than not. The other day this week, I went on a LITERAL delete/unfollow/unfriend-ing spree on ALL my social media accounts. I had already made a mental list of all the people I don’t talk to, people who I have given endless chances, people who don’t deserve my time, etc. It’s not worth wasting my energy, getting mad and bent out of shape over them. I distance myself from people like this.

Distancing myself from someone is a way of saying to them “hey yeah, I dropped you, now let’s see if you care as much as I did”. Not only that, but it also shows that I’ve finally chosen myself over the person and as sad as it is, that is my choice to let them go. If the person, however, notices then it’s a good thing because then you can clear the air with them. Communication is key in every relationship.

Granted, in deleting all the people from my life, I didn’t take it as “I hate them, so let me unfollow them, because they piss me off”. I don’t hate anyone nor do I hold any grudges. What is the point in holding a grudge about something someone did months/years ago? While they’re out living their best life, you’re here, hating them and what they did to you ages ago. You are hurting yourself more than the person you’re hating. Make the choice to forgive.

Forgive them and also forgive yourself. Sometimes in forgiving them and yourself, you make the decision to cut ties or continue your relationship with the person. With some people, you shouldn’t make the rash decision of cutting someone out of your life, if you’re not in the right head space or have yet to forgive them and what they did to you, then hold off on doing so. You don’t have to say anything to them. But also keep in mind, cutting someone out of your life is a mental and emotional process.

I mean think about it, if you don’t see anything positive coming from the relationship you have with the person or you simply don’t talk anymore (because let’s face it we all get caught up in life), then cut them off. What good is having a person who won’t call you, catch up with you, in your life? You have the choice to end the friendship, relationship, whatever, and just move on. In this way, you are able to make room in your life for people who definitely see it the way you do, will give you the satisfaction of catching up with you and be a positive influence in your life.

Sometimes it hurts, but it hurting is part of the healing process and a fact of life. If you want to move forward in your life, what is holding you back? Is it the grudges that you hold against other people? If so, learn to Let. It. Go.

You deserve people in your corner, but most of all, you deserve all the good that there is in this world.

Making The Best Out of Your Current Situation

We’ve all been there. That shitty part of life where you feel like nothing is going the way you want, where all you wanna do is curl up in a ball and role into a hole, never to be seen again. I get it. We are human and we are bound to fail one way or another, but that shouldn’t make you want to throw in the towel when life gets shitty or tough. No, you fight for the life you want to live because, well, it becomes well worth it when you make an effort to be mindful about the situations that you find yourself in. Always inculcate an idea of “that’s all you got, life?! BRING. IT. ON. I’M READY FOR YOU!!!” Taking on a boss ass attitude really shows how resilient you can be, it shows your ability to bounce back from whatever life throws at you. 

      Throughout my life, mind you I’m only 20, I’ve met a great deal of people who have gone through hell and back in their lives and the one question I always have for them is “how were you able to go through what you have been through?” Some of the responses I’ve gotten were “well I had no choice, but to move forward”, “I chose to look at the positive/mindful in my life”, “I focused on one thing and that one thing got me through my tough time” that one thing could’ve been his/her ticket that took them out of the situation and into a better life that they provide for themselves. Uh, yeah I’ll take a one way ticket to get me the FUCK outta here. Ha! Totally kidding. By ticket, I don’t mean a physical ticket where you can take the midnight train going anywhere *cue Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin'” *.

 What I mean by ticket is that, symbolically, it means something valuable, irreplaceable, even, to different people. Having that ticket, to them means the absolute world, it is something that they will work towards in order to obtain that golden ticket. Having a ticket also means that it instills a drive, a drive to make their lives better, a drive to become an inspiration to those around them, and ultimately, a drive to grow as a person.

In life, you have two decisions to make after having a bad day or a bad situation, all together: you can either give up, stop trying all together, and hold on to that anger OR you can get back on your feet, say “HEY LIFE! IS THAT THE BEST YOU GOT?!”, And remain mindful about the situation you’re in and try again tomorrow. It’s just a bad day, not a bad life. We’ve all had our own share of bad days and bad situations, but should that stop us? NO. Of course not. 

I’ve had my fair share of drama, my fair share of my bad days. Whether it be with boys, with friends, or with my own family members, it’s all been temporary. The people in my life have come, gone and some things have gotten better, while others were better left alone. For the record, those horrible situations didn’t break me. They made me stronger. They helped mold me into the person I am. Through all of these bad days, I have learned something very valuable about myself and about the people who put me in the shitty situation to begin with. I’ve gained so much perspective and have been able to focus all my energy in being mindful about the situations I find myself in. I used to lock myself in a situation and just think ” well shit. I’m in this situation, so I’m just gonna sit here and do nothing and wait till there’s a solution” . 

 If I were to give my teenage self any advice, it’d be this: You do not find a solution by just sitting on your ass and twiddling your thumbs waiting for something to happen! You find your solutions by looking for one! Don’t stop until you’ve found every possible solution for your situation. My mom taught me this important concept and I almost hate to admit it, but she is right. What good are you gonna do if you just sit and become afraid of the situation you’re in? Nothing! Get up and look for a solution.  You could have it worse, but you don’t! When I was a teenager, I thought every bad day would define who I am or who I would become. Looking back at it, it really doesn’t. What it does define, however, is your outlook or perspective. Coming out of each situation, your attitude changes.

How you react to the situation is based on your attitude and how you choose to react, is up to you. 

 How were you able to overcome a difficult situation? Was it your attitude or was it the people who helped you?

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control the way you think about all the events”

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