Take Charge of Your Genius to Survive The Identity Crisis

Recently I watched the TED Talk “Your Elusive Creative Genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert talks about a problem we, as a universal society, have accepted; the concept of the emotionally unsound artist. Too many creative minds are distraught with deep, negative and destroying thoughts. Gilbert points out that this acceptance and numbness to this reality is wrong. There doesn’t have to be an “emotional risk” for creative minds.

In her TED Talk speech, Gilbert talks about how creative minds can and should keep moving forward with their work after the passing of what might be their biggest and only success. I thought Millennials and young professionals could easily apply Gilbert’s teachings from the TED Talk to the threat of an identity crisis.v We may not all have the emotional risk of being a creative mind, but we all do have the emotional risk of succumbing to the pressures of being a twentysomething emerging into adulthood.

As a young professional there are many pressures in our lives – career, finances, self-improvement, and personal lives. We can be negative about our current job, apartment, bank account, or whatever our current situation might be. We worry about the future. Asking ourselves, “Will I ever be successful?” “Will I ever make something of myself?” These are similar dark thoughts to that o father creative mind Gilbert refers to.

After what Gilbert calls her “freakishly successful” book, Eat, Pray, Love, many people would come up to her and ask,

Aren’t you afraid you’re biggest success is behind you and you’ll never be as successful ever again?”

Gilbert admits this is a terrifying thought and a very possible one. Twentysomething young professionals have a similar thought wondering how they will find a job, advance in career, find a husband/wife, how they will be able to afford things like a house, etc. It is possible we may fail and not knowing is absolutely terrifying. That’s the reality.

To find a way to move forward in her career Gilbert knew she needed to create a “protective psychological construct” to create distance between work and anxiety. I believe twentysomething young professionals also need to create this construct between themselves and anxiety.

In Gilbert’s search for finding a way to create this construct she looked back at past societies to see if they had a better way to deal with the emotional risk of creative minds. This search lead her to Ancient Greece and Rome. At this time people didn’t believe creativity came from within a human, they believed it came from the “divine attendant spirits of creativity.” They believed it was an out of body source or creature that came “from a distant and unknowable source for distant and unknowable reasons.” The Greeks called this creature a “deity” and the Romans called them a genius.”

When a performer had a moment where the genius would provide a glimpse of divinity through the performer the crowd would shout, “Allah! Allah!” “Allah” meaning God. Later, through the lost of pronunciation and culture, “Allah” became “Ole”. “Ole” is still something we shout today a sporting games when an athlete does something amazing or to support our favorite team. People used to understand where this talent, ability or creativity came from. The origin of the source was just lost over time. The Renaissance is where the idea of creativity coming from an inner source of the individual person came to be a new concept. Gilbert believes that is where we, as a society, went wrong.

If creativity does come from a genius and not somewhere within the individual then an immense amount of pressure is relieved. We also can’t be corrupted by pride if we cannot take credit for the talent(s). The good, or the bad, performance would be attributed to the genius. Everyone would understand that concept and accept it. The emotional risk would be taken away from the creative minds because they would not drown from the anxiety.

If we young professional can accept that there is an uncontrollable big picture we will be free from our pressures and anxiety as well. I personally believe my talents were given to me by God for a reason. I do not know the big picture, I cannot control what happens in my life, but I can use my talents to the best of their ability. For me, utilizing my talents and performing them to the best of their ability is my acceptance to the big plan and a thank you for receiving the talents. I accept i have no control or notion of what’s to come but i work as hard as i can with what I have. Whether you believe there is a genius, a gift from God or some other unknowable source, I believe acceptance is the key for young professionals to avoid their emotional risk and taking charge of their identity crisis.

After explaining the idea of having a genius, Gilbert goes on to explain different ways creative minds have dealt with this genius. Poet Ruth Stone told Gilbert about when she was younger and worked in the fields how she would literally feel the ground tremble beneath her. Every time Stone felt this tremble she knew it meant she needed to get to a piece of paper and pen fast. When the tremble caught up to her it felt like a windy storm was streaming through her. If she got to the paper and pen in time the poem would flow out through the pen and onto the paper. If she didn’t catch Stone said she felt the storm pass through her as it went off in search of another poet. During the moments when she almost lost the storm she would reach out with one hand as if to grab the storm by the tail and slowly pull it back in as the other hand wrote the words. Stone said that in these instances the poem would come out flawlessly, but completely backwards from the last word to the first.

Gilbert had a chance to interview musician Tom Waits for a magazine pieces years ago. Waits shared a story with Gilbert about one of his encounters with an outer body source. Waits said he would hear an enticing beautiful melody that would be his inspiration, his storm. One time he was driving down the freeway in LA when he heard this enticing melody. Waits anxiety started to creep up inside him again, worrying that he had no way to capture this melody and it would haunt him forever. Instead of allowing himself to be engulfed by his anxiety Waits looked up to the sky and said,

Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving? Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you, otherwise go bother somebody else today.”

Stone’s and Waits’ interactions with these out of body sources of inspiration helped change their work process for the better. They were able to release themselves from the emotional risk, the anxiety. They didn’t have to feel regret about missing moments to capture a poem or a melody. Gilbert said she herself was saved by this practice of interacting with the source. While writing Eat, Pray, Love she said she encountered one of these dark moments of anxiety and instead of succumbing to it, she took Waits’ approach. She spoke out loud towards a corner of the room about how if this book wasn’t a success it wasn’t entirely her fault. She showed up for her part of the job and she expressed how it would be great if the source or genius would show up for its part.

Millennials and twentysomething young professionals can change their work process and thought process by using these methods. I think the first step is to accept. Accept the reality that we do not have control and we do not know what the future holds. Then we each need to find an individualized way to deal with this reality any time anxiety and negative thoughts emerge. You can go with the talking out loud approach, or something different – praying, meditating or talking to a counselor.

Creative mind or not, be grateful for when your inspiration and your moment comes. When things finally align and you understand the big picture a little better, be grateful. Before, during and after your genius allows a glimpse of divinity to shine through you, show up to do you work. Show up every day and give it your all.

“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your effort then ole. And if not, do your dance anyhow and ole to you nonetheless. I believe this and I feel like I must teach it. Ole to you to you nonetheless just to have the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

How will you take charge of your genius to control your identity crisis?

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10 Reasons You Should Be Like a Child

Every adult or emerging adult should emulate being a child. As we grow up there is a tendency to become more stiff and rigid. I believe this comes from the responsibilities and knowledge we take on over the years. The responsibilities make us worried so we naturally make them the center of our lives, quickly shutting out what matter to us when we were a child. Knowledge brings confidence and independence, but it also comes with pride and can some times make us set in our ways.

A child is free from all those restraints. A child can dream, play and learn without any worries because he/she has someone to rely on, dreams to aspire to and the innocence to not be corrupted. Everything a child does is focused outward, where the life of an adult can become increasingly inward every day.

I would like to challenge every adult and emerging adult to take on these 10 characteristics of being a child. I believe if we take this challenge, every day our lives will improve spiritually and emotionally. We will start to appreciate what we have more and worry less about material needs.

Here are the 10 characteristics I challenge every adult and emerging adult to emulate.

1. Appreciative

Children are thankful for what they have. They can sit and be satisfied with the littlest thing… sometimes they are even satisfied with nothing!

How would your life improve if you were satisfied with what you had and appreciated every moment, possession and person around you?

2. Curious

Children have this natural yearning to learn. They want to discover new things, figure out why something works, and to explore the unknown!

How would your life change at work, at home and with other people if you had a naturally curiosity to push further to understand more?

3. Enthusiastic

Children are ready to participate and ready to share. They participate with their full self, totally engulfing themselves into the activity. They shout, “Mommy, Mommy! Look what I did!” to share what seems like the littlest moment to us, but is a proud moment for them.

How would you feel about yourself if you put yourself fully into the moment? If you were proud of everything you did?

4. Happy

Children are genuinely happy. Their happiness is pure and natural. There are no additives for a child’s happiness – no medication, no material consumption and no social acceptance needed.

How would your attitude change if you had a genuine, pure happiness?

5. Innocent

Children have no cruel intentions. They do not want to cause harm. They have a lightheartedness about them.

How would you act if you had a more innocent soul?

6. Loving

Children’s love is pure, innocent and true. They naturally love those around them. They love their parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, coaches, counselors, and all those around them with admiration and respect.

How would you treat others if you loved each one of them with admiration and respect?

7. Passionate

Children fight endlessly for something they want. Crying or not, they have a drive to follow through to the end.

How would you live if you were driven by this endless passion?

8. Transparent

Children show how they are feeling. They’re honest with their emotions and they’re not ashamed of it. They allow others in, instead of fighting off their compassion.

How would you be different if you were more transparent?

9. Trusting

Children have a first instinct to trust others. They’ll believe what you tell them and won’t question you. They trust that you have their best interest in mind.

How would you work with others if you were more trusting, and trustworthy?

10. Wide-Eyed

Children see the world and what’s in it with a wide-eyed amazement. They view the world in wonder of its endless opportunities.

How would you think with this wide-eyed view?

Bonus: Imaginative

Children are never tired of playing pretend. They dream up out of the box games and elaborate stories. They are never satisfied with boredom when they have their creativity at their finger tips.

Can you imagine your life improved with the characteristics of a child?

How To Make and Keep Friends in Your Twenties

Today’s Personal Life post is inspired by Paul Angone’s Secret #3 from 101 Secrets For your Twenties. 

The typical Monday through Friday work routine can feel very mundane and therefore exhausting. It is very easy to fall into a set routine so things, and people, outside this routine can easily be over looked. It can be so tempting to come home from a day of work and just pass out on the couch. It’s not scientifically proven, but this is most likely the reason why so many friendships dwindle away after college. We twentysomething young professionals need to fit room somewhere in our busy schedule for our friendships. The question is why and how?

Why We Need Friends

We need friends for multiple reasons. We need a support group to help us through times of depression and to help us move into our new apartment. We need friends to keep us laughing, to have fun with and to stay happy. Having friends also helps us grow personally and professionally.

How To Make Friends

Join clubs, groups, communities in areas of your interests to find like minded people, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Start by getting involved with a company sponsored event like intramural sports. Get involved in your church community or another favorite local community spot.

My Best Two Goals For Making New Friends:

1. Learn to start attending events alone.

2. Leave for a new event straight from work.

Whether you’re starting a new weekly activity or going to a one time event, these goals will help you follow through with attending. Having the confidence to go to something alone will not let you fall back on your scapegoat – “I couldn’t find anyone to go with me.” Not having someone to go with you to an event should not be be an excuse, especially if you are 100% free to go alone. You don’t need the confidence of the most popular guy in the room, you just need to confidence to get you inside the door. The first time you go alone will feel awkward, but the more you do the less awkward it will feel. Learning how to attending an event alone is my number one piece of advice for making friends in your twenties.

For events during the week I highly recommend you leave straight from work; do not go home. I can almost guarantee that when you get home you will settle in with your nice warm bowl of ramen noddle soup with the Roku remote in hand ready to watch back to back episodes of your favorite TV show. You will find some excuse to skip your event.

Set these two goals for yourself today.

How To Keep Friends

Getting someone from “Facebook friend I met once” to “live in person friend” can seem almost impossible at times. I cannot put it better than Paul Angone himself with Secret #70,

Making and keeping friends in your 20s takes intentionality.”

“Intentionality.” You need to put in the effort to keep your friends. The best way, I think, to put intentionality to work is through practical action steps.

3 Practical Action Steps For Keeping Friends

1. Make contact weekly – I find calling and writing letters to be the most personal but busy schedules may reduce you to text messages.

2. Remember birthdays and special occasions – Do something special for these dates, try sending them a card or gift.

3. Make at least one plan per week to meet up with a new or old friend.

We are not going to make friends with everyone and some friendships will inevitably grow apart. We need to persevere with our intentionality and not get stuck in the every day routine.  

How do you make and keep friends in your twenties?

Simplify Your Life Week – Start With One Piece of the Puzzle

Have you ever tried completing a 1,000 piece puzzle? I can’t say that I have because they’ve always seemed so intimidating to me. So many tiny little pieces seeming to have absolutely no connection to one another. It’s kind of like being twenty. There’s so many different pieces of our life that we don’t know where to start.

I’ve watched others work on these enormously overwhelming puzzles. I’ve even tried to help put a few pieces together. What seems to be the key is keeping it simple. Start with just one piece, or maybe the corner pieces. (We all know the corner pieces are the easiest to point out.) When you have that one piece I’m your hand search for another piece with similar characteristics. If you’re lucky you can connect the two pieces together. Overtime you will have multiple puzzle pieces together creating individual images. The individual images might seem completely separate at first, but soon you will see the connection. Maybe you have to walk away from the puzzle and sleep on it. Or maybe you need a fresh new pair of eyes to take a look, so you ask a friend for help. Neither of these are cheating (cheating would be looking at the box!). Soon enough you’ll start understanding the bigger picture and you’ll make more connections. The pieces may not have made sense at the beginning but the now that you’ve completed the puzzle it makes complete sense.

That’s what it is like living the life of a twentysomething. In honor of it being “Simplify Your Life Week”, I’m suggesting we take the same approach to solving the 1,000 piece puzzle; start with something simple. If you’re overwhelmed by all the choices in your life, focus on one piece of it at a time. If you have lots of interests and skills but don’t know how to combine them, start by trying to connect just two similar pieces. And remember, asking for help doesn’t mean you failed or you’re “cheating”. It is a resource you should use because someone else might see, or know, something you couldn’t.

Soon you’ll see the possibilities with the small individual connections you’ve made. After awhile the choices, decisions and pressures that come with starting your own life from scratch won’t feel so intimidating. You know the secret to the puzzle; keep it simple. It’s just one piece at a time, one step at a time and one day at a time.

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6 Steps For Life After College

To all those who just graduated in May, CONGRATS! I hope you’re enjoying your summer full of graduation parties, but when all the presents and cards full of money disappear, do you know what to do next? Here are my 6 steps to start a life for yourself after graduating from college.

1. Find a place

Find a place you can see yourself living for 5 years. You will want to stay in one place to build a reputation and create a network. Moving form city to city will make it hard to build a reputation because every time you move you will have to start from square one again. It is also hard to be referred across states for entry level positions. 5 years is, on average, how long it takes to climb the latter a little bit and build a name for yourself.

2. Create a Financial Plan

Now that you know where you want to live you can start creating a financial plan. You can do this even before you move, in fact it’s better if you do! Look at the prices of renting an apartment in different neighborhoods. Will you have to pay for public transportation or gas? Will you want cable and internet? What about utilities, what will that cost? The answer to all these questions will help you decide how much you need to make, how much you can afford realistically and will help you start creating your own budget.

3. Find A Job

The next step is to find a job you enjoy and pay the bills. Apply to jobs that fit within the field you want to work in or will give you some identity capital. Do not apply to just any job. Applying to jobs you don’t care about or aren’t beneficial to you is a waste of time. Employers can tell when you’re just applying for applying. Find jobs you’re actually interested in and would be proud to have.

4. Meet New People and Network

Get out of your circle! Meet new people! Network! Surprisingly, you will not advance in your careers because of your closest friends. Most of the time it’s from people you barely know; the weak ties. Also, meeting new people and networking will open you up to a whole new set of resources and advice you couldn’t get anywhere else.

5. Work Hard and Build Your Brand

Work hard at your job. Show that you want to be there. Build your skills and your brand. Building a brand for yourself is probably the most important thing in this economy. The best way to start is with a website. Build a brand for yourself so people know what you are about right away. More and more recruiters and employers are going online for their next hires. Make sure they can find you!

6. Learn About Yourself Along the Way by Listening and Observing

As you start your journey as a young professional learn about yourself. See what your strengths and weaknesses are. Try new things, test your boundaries. Being in your twenties is the best time to take some risks to find out more about yourself. Decisions and habits you create during your twenties will form who the adult version of you will be, most likely for the rest of your life. Take advantage of your time while you can still mold the clay of who you are.

Are you having any trouble starting a life after college?
Tell me below or email me at asktheyoungprofessional (at) gmail (dot) com!

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Tips On Traveling – From Packing To Getting There

It’s the summer time which means it’s vacation time! People are taking time off to travel all over the place, some furthers than others. I’ve come up with some tips that help me while traveling.

1. Pack Light

They say the best way to pack for a trip is to pack a bag, then take half of it out. Think about what you absolutely need and what you can do without. Girls, do you need to bring your straightener, curing iron and a hair dry? Or can you get away with letting your hair dry naturally or just a straightener? Guys, lets be honest, you can pack a lot less than us… Take advantage of it. Pack clothes you can wear again with a different outfit. Another great tactic for packing is rolling your clothes instead of folding them. I only roll my clothes now. I can probably fit two weeks of clothes in a carry on bag when I roll my clothes and rotate pieces of clothing for different outfits.

2. Road, Rail or Sky?

Whether you’re going on a quick trip only hours away or a long trip over seas you need to do your research. Price out the difference between driving, taking the train and flying. Based on travel time and cost decide on the best travel option for you. Driving yourself may be cheaper depending on gas. Don’t want to pay for gas or don’t have a car? Check your bus options. I’ve used World Wide Go Bus and Megabus. Trains can be faster and sometimes cheaper. Compare metro train cars to Amtrak. If you buy two weeks in advance you can get an Amtrak ticket for $43. (This is my personal favorite for traveling home, more comfortable and no traffic.) Flights you can get deals from work or insurance, and booking on certain days give you cheaper options. Do you want to sacrifice time to save money or money to save time?

3. Time Passers

While you’re on your way to your destination you’ll need something to pass the time. If you’re traveling with friends in a car you can do whatever you want! …well within reason. If you’re traveling with friends, or alone, on public transportation there will be a courtesy “quiet time”. There is a certain unspoken code of conduct when traveling via public transportation. Most likely the people sitting around you will be chummy with you but they wont want to overhear your conversations the entire trip. My first suggestion, bring a book. Books won’t run out of battery or lose the wireless signal. Then there’s music and movies. Create a playlist or update your music library on your music player of choice (which should come with headphones). Your battery will last longer if you don’t stream your music. Download a movie in advance or bring a DVD. Movies may drain a battery but they sure do make a long trip shorter. Most trains and buses will have power outlets. Plains… I don’t know if they’re on that level yet, but you could be lucky and get an in flight movie!

Wherever you go, be safe, be smart and most of all HAVE FUN! I’ll be here @AsktheYoPro waiting to hear about your trip and travels.

The Importance of Family

Ever since we twentysomethings walked across that stage, received that piece of paper and tossed that cap we’ve been starting to create our own life. We’ve filled our our time with work, old and new friends, new places and dreams. Our days have been swallowed by our routine… wake up, shower, eat, work, eat, work, go home, try to work out or meet up with friends, eat, sleep, wake up, rinse and repeat. But what about our families, where are they supposed to fit in?

Creating a life for yourself is very overwhelming. You need to find a place to live, find a way to pay for it all and make sure you don’t drown in the waters of adulthood. Most likely we all promised ourselves to stay in touch with our friends from college, but I bet that most of us didn’t make that same promise about staying in touch with our families.

I was very lucky to grow up in a house hold with two parents, a dog, 3 siblings, and for a time my grandmother. I know not every family lives up to the American dream of a white picket fence with laughing, healthy 2.5 children, but even if you didn’t have that I bet you had a family that loved you even if that family wasn’t blood.

I don’t know your family story, so I’ll give you a glimpse into mine. I’ve the oldest of four; Nate, Kelly and Kaleigh. Nate and Kelly have their birthdays in August so they’ll be turning 20 and 16 respectfully. That’s about 4 years between each child and 14 years between me and the youngest. (I turned 24 a couple weeks ago on June 30th!)  If you didn’t catch it, that means my poor parents had to shuttle us to 4 different schools and balance 4 different schedules.

The Fam after my graduation ceremony in 2012.

The Fam after my graduation ceremony in 2012.

Now things are kind of slowing down at the Robinson household. I’m fully moved out of the house and live in New York, 4 hours away from home. Nate is going to college in Boston, he’ll be a sophomore in the fall. Kelly is currently taking her finals this week for her sophomore year in High School, so she will start looking at colleges in the fall. Kaleigh, she’s making the big move from 4th grade to 5th grade! …Or at least I’m pretty sure… It gets harder to keep track now that I’m out of the house. My dad works and my mom is home with the dog.

Unfortunately Scotty couldn't come to the ceremony, but here he is in all his adorableness!

Unfortunately Scotty couldn’t come to the ceremony, but here he is in all his adorableness!

Soon enough poor momma hen and pappa rooster will be alone in the nest without any of her chicks. I know, you’d think after 24 years my parents would want a break and cherish a quiet house, but trust me they love the chaos! I really wouldn’t be surprised if my mom started a neighborhood day care just to keep the house some lively hood.

As each of us head out to create a life for ourselves we get closer and closer to what I’m going to call, THE DANGER ZONE! The danger zone is when you get to that period where children are starting to create a new life, with the risk of losing what they had. Family sometimes can be taken for granted. Family is family because they’ve always been there for you to fall back on. They’re not supposed to go anywhere, but you could be the one that leaves.

I think it is very crucial to keep in touch with our family. Just like we start creating good habits to become the adult we want to be, we should create the habit of calling home regularly. When I say regularly I mean more than the big holidays and birthdays.

For me, calling my mom was always the easiest because she’s my mom! When I’m in a bad mood or need advice she’s the one I call. I think that’s a reflex a lot of people have. Dad is the guy to call with the hard ball questions of adulthood. But what about calling when you don’t need something? Have you called home just to see how they’re doing?

I’ve made it one of my resolutions to text my siblings each week. Its small, but its the start of creating a good habit. Creating a communication line between us.  My siblings and I have talked before about wanting to be those cool aunts and uncles who come over and the cousins all get to play each other. When we have created that new life for ourselves with our own families, we want to unite all of them into one big family.

I’m sorry to say this but there are too many people who have regrets about not doing or saying enough before a loved one is lost. Maybe the family thing isn’t for you, but remember you only get one chance and one day that chance might be gone.

I know when I go home for my vacation and birthday I will make sure each member of my family knows I appreciate him/her by giving each of them a little bit of my time. Whether its going to the movies, playing basketball or as cheesy as going to play mini golf (mini gulf isn’t cheesy by the way, its awesome) I’ll give each of them an outing as my way to show them I can and want to stay in touch.

How do you stay in touch with your family?