Enough for Now

I have hemmed and hawed (I hate that I just wrote that) for the last week about what I was going to blog about. Should I continue to be heavy and a bit of a Debbie Downer? Or should I try to make it more light-hearted and playful? I decided on the latter, friends. And let’s be honest, it is much easier throwing together random, yet cohesive thoughts than it is to try and articulate how you are feeling and put it out for all the interweb to see (I stole that word from this girl.)

Let’s start with the really good stuff…Thanksgiving! The single greatest day of the year is less than a week away and I am mostly wetting my pants with excitement. First of all, I get to go home to Milwaukee and spend time with my family and friends. I will be home for a week and it is perfectly timed. I already have plans for dinner on Tuesday with Angie and Amy, two of the most solid girls a guy could ever meet! (SIDENOTE 1: Angie and I have met maybe 2-3 times, yet have a slew of the same friends, Amy included. We are social media soul mates and are both convinced either her parents had twins and they forgot to bring me home or my mom had triplets and she got lost in the hospital shuffle). (SIDENOTE 2: Angie is “this girl” linked above). Really excited to see Amy as she and I moved away from Minnesota at the same time and she has been busy traveling the country as a nurse. She’s pretty bomb-ass!

Thanksgiving is, if you know me, my favorite holiday of the year. As a former fat kid (FFK from here on out), I’d rather have the gift of food than a gift at Christmas that I may not need or want. My mother makes the BEST Thanksgiving dinner. A1) I’m pretty sure her stuffing is sent directly from heaven. It’s to die for and the running joke is that she never makes enough because my brother and I devour it. (SIDENOTE 3: She always has leftovers, but we still want an endless supply). A2) She always asks us what we want for the dinner, and we always want the EXACT. SAME. THING. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And friends, this dinner is not broken. If anything, it improves every year.

The other reason I am excited about Thanksgiving, especially this year, is because I get to have not one, not two, but three dinners. The most important is my mom’s (see above). The second one is with my stepsister when she brings her family down. And the third is with one of my bff’s at her parent’s house. Her parents are really cool and I am looking forward to seeing them again. (SIDENOTE 4: Angie gets to be at this one too…as does the bff’s bf). I really need the friend time now, so this is going to be perfect!

Enough about Thanksgiving (I could very easily write several blogs about this day). The other random thought I had yesterday, and not so random since it stems from the whole Occupy Wall Street movement, is that I realized I am not passionate about anything enough that it would move me to protest. I even have a hard time sympathizing with people who do have this passion because I am not sure it is something I desire or something I just can’t ever see myself obtaining. This makes me sound so pathetic, but I promise I value things and in turn, have values. Let’s list out the things I support, shall we:

  • Marriage Equality
  • Gender Equality
  • Racial Equality
  • Social Equality
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Ending bullying

There are more I am sure, but those are the ones at the top of my list. I really value these things and will throw myself into a heated discussion/debate about any of them with even a stranger to defend my beliefs. But I cannot see myself ever camping out in a park for two months or marching across the city to protest. What does this say about me? I like to think that I care about things, but does not having the passion to protest in essence mean I don’t care?

Speaking of not caring, I have to keep telling myself that I am a good person. I know I am, but looking myself in the mirror every morning and saying “you are a good person; people like you; you have a good heart” is my current routine. Moving forward through my new chapter in life requires me to be confident in myself because it’s really all I got!

Source of the blog title

What Doesn’t Kill You…

As most of the people who read this blog know, Kelly Clarkson’s new album “Stronger” has been on a fairly consistent loop at work since it was released a few weeks ago. I swear she was put on this earth to make people feel better about themselves when going through a break-up. She somehow has that knack for tapping into just the right emotions that you don’t feel alone in how you are feeling about said break-up.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is one of those phrases that people say often, yet really don’t take the time to consider the weight it has and can have on our every day lives. Think about it this way. Cancer kills. When people overcome and beat the cancer, they are stronger. I am not sure there is a study out there that proves this, but I am pretty sure it is true. People go through so many things in life that shape who they are and we are destined to fail at a lot of things (I believe that we as a human race and as individuals fail at least 50% of the time.) These things that we fail at, are not the end of the world and chances are, are not going to kill us.

This is why I believe tragedies, heartbreak, and turmoil, while negative, make us stronger. Any time we learn something about ourselves after having gone through something tragic, we are inevitably stronger. We either realize we are strong and can get through it, stronger in the sense that we now know what not to do, or stronger in a sense where we realize we are completely happy and content with being who we are and not letting anyone else tell us otherwise.

I guess I don’t really know where I was going with this blog. I guess I want to say that in light of recent events, people may assume I am weak, sad, depressed, etc. But I am not. I am stronger. Recent events haven’t killed me. If people with life-threatening illnesses, cancer, AIDS, hunger, etc., can get through it and be stronger, then dammit so can I. If I can’t, well, then that says a lot about my strength and self-worth.

You know I dream in colour/And do the things I want

Hope and Validation

In the spirit of “Grey’s Anatomy” (shockingly still one of my favorite shows on TV), every blog post from here on out will have a title that is a song title. Of course, the title will reflect the theme of the post. With that said, here is the incarnation of my new theme.

Hope and validation. Two very separate, yet idealistic things, but when communicated together and cohesively, are united. Everyone has hope, yes? I know I do. I have hope about a lot of things: happiness, money, love, respect, world peace…you name it. Does everyone need validation? I can’t be sure that everyone does. Some people are just completely comfortable with saying how they feel, expressing their emotions, and being themselves. Over the course of the last year, I have realized I am not one of these people. I need validation. My validation, however, weighs heavily on the emotional end of the spectrum.

Some people tell jokes and need people to laugh in order to be validated that they are in fact, funny (even going as far as to tell the joke twice after no one laughs the first time). Some people need to brag about their “important” jobs and how much money they make to be validated. If no one laughs at my jokes, I don’t care. I don’t need to tell people about my “glamorous” job or how much money I make. If my work makes me happy and I am passionate about it, then I don’t care what other people think. Bring up my emotions and feelings, and I need the world to validate me.

I don’t think needing to be validated about my emotions is necessarily a bad thing. I never ask people to agree with how I am feeling. I never ask them to understand fully what I am thinking. What I do ask for, and in turn, need validation about, is for people to listen to me and respect my feelings. Perhaps I don’t manage my expectations in these types of situations, but I really need people to just say “I hear you. I can see how you would feel that way about what [xxx]. That was not my intent and I respect your feelings about that…” What I don’t need is “well that’s just silly” or “why does it have to be about you” or “you are the one who is feeling that way, no one said I had to feel the same way.”

NEWSFLASH: when someone shares something about themselves, be it a feeling, emotion, etc., more often than not A) it is going to be about them and B) they are not asking you to feel the same way. They are simply expressing themselves and sharing something that can be rather private and intimate.

I never intend to makes things about myself, but when it comes to how I feel, you better believe it is going to be about me. I am never going to change that and if you always make me feel guilty (and subsequently tell me that the only person who can make me feel guilty is myself) then that is an interaction that will continue to be toxic to me and something that will not be conducive to my happiness. Validate me. You can think I am crazy in your head. You can think that I am absolutely out of line. You can have zero understanding. But what you CAN do is respect my emotions and feelings. Respect me.

I don’t prance around expecting to understand how everyone feels and thinks. Frankly, if I have even a 1% understanding, I consider that a success. We are all individuals and therefore, have our own opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Lord help us if there were another one of me around. I already know I am a handful, we don’t need more. But guess what? I am proud of being a handful. I’d rather have my cup runneth over with emotions and feelings than to not have any at all. I think the root of us as individuals is who are inside. If we can’t feel comfortable showing and expressing that, then what’s the point?

Plans and preparations are decided in vain/Hope and validation are united again/Set a new direction for the harvest ahead/Built the resurrection of a bond nearly dead

Some pages turn, some bridges burn…

After a 3 month hiatus (work has been absolutely INSANE!) I am back on the blogging bandwagon. In an ironic twist of events, it seems more apropos for me to be blogging now as life is going to get a bit more interesting. To put it simply and mildly, I’m starting over.

What’s funny, is when I flash back to myself in the fall of 2008, it’s actually a bit of an out of body experience. I was fat, not confident, had low self-esteem and self-worth, cared more about others than I did myself, and wanted to “grow up” in the blink of an eye. I wanted it all: good job, healthy relationship, white picket fence…the works, but I had zero confidence in attaining any of those. So what did I do? I convinced myself that certain people had what I wanted and sacrificed being my true self in order to obtain what I so longingly wanted.

In the winter of 2009, some things changed, and I decided that I needed to be proactive in getting healthy. Sure, the goal was physically healthy, but coupled with that, came emotional health as well. I took my weight into my own hands and I really worked hard to lose the 85 pounds. For the first time, I felt GOOD! I felt confident; I felt worthy; I felt noticed. In hindsight though, I wasn’t being noticed by the most important person…myself. I cared too much about what others thought of me. I cared too much about impressing other people when I wasn’t even impressing myself. So, sure, did I achieve the physical health that I wanted? Yes. But I still wasn’t emotionally healthy. The ironic part is, is that it has taken until now for me to realize that. I thought I was emotionally healthy and happy. By the summer of 2009, I thought I had everything that I wanted and was moving forward with being the person that I so deserved to be. Oh how naive I was.

The summer of 2010 brought the biggest change in my life in my short 25 years. I decided to move to New York. For those who know me, the reasons for that move are self-evident. For those that may not know, I will keep that for the non-blogging world, however, if you want to inquire, I’m more than happy to acquiesce (sidenote; have always REALLY wanted to use that word in a sentence). For the record, I have never had the urge to move to New York. I never thought growing up “someday I will have a fabulous job in the greatest city in the world.” It was never a desire of mine. I never ruled it out as I tend to not rule out any opportunities, but it was not something I put in my “plan.” Regardless, I moved.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” “Are you sure you are doing this for the right reasons?” “You don’t have a job…what are you going to do?”

Those were questions that friends, family, and even I asked of myself regarding my move to New York. I had the answers:

“Yes.” “Yes.” “I am going to hit the ground running and apply for any and all jobs.”

And guess what? A job I applied for 3 days after I moved I eventually got and it has turned out to be a great opportunity for me with great exposure to my skills and talents.

It would be foolish of me to say that moving was the right decision. I have been in denial of that fact for the last year and am now fully realizing that it was a good decision on several levels, but it was not the right decision. I tried to convince myself that my heart was in New York. And in all honesty, a portion of it was…but not enough of it.

It’s funny to think of it that way. Sometimes, certain things just aren’t enough. I’ve never really been faced with a situation like this. I’ve always felt like I had enough. I made enough money to survive. I had enough friends to spend time with. I had enough knowledge to be an upstanding contributor to society. And now look where I am…I am at a crossroads where the life I have right now is not enough for me. When faced with something like this, one thinks to themselves “what does enough look like?” “What will be enough for me?” Loaded questions that I know will not be answered until I have achieved having enough. I’ll know it when I know it. I will be wholly happy in all aspects of my life.

For now, I can say that I have more confidence than ever before. I believe in myself and value myself more than I have before. I know what I want and what I deserve. I know that this will not happen over night and I will not attain these things with the snap of a finger. I think realizing and knowing that will allow me to be successful in my next chapter in life. The title of that next chapter is aptly titled “Starting Over.”

I am completely starting my life over. I am planning a move back to Minneapolis the end of December. I know it will not be the same as when I was there a year and a half ago, but I know my friends and close family will be there and will provide the same support to me as when I moved to New York. The real me has been lost for the last year and I am really excited to find him again. I am scared out of my mind, but excited to learn new things about myself and continue to grow as a person like I truly believe I have this last year and a half.

I know who I am and I am proud of it. I’m looking forward to showing people that again.

…but they were lessons learned

My Boy…from Chicago, Illinois

You might be asking yourself “what does the title of this blog mean?” Well, blog reader(s), I decided that henceforth, I am going to title my blog posts as they relate to the overall theme of my blog “A Handful of Normal Things I Kinda Miss.” The title of the post might not have anything to do with the subject matter, but you don’t get to pick the titles…I do!

You may or may not know this about me, but as a kid, I had an imaginary friend. His name was “My Boy” and he was from Chicago, Illinois. So, not only did I not have enough friends and had to create an imaginary one, but my imaginary one didn’t even live in the same city that I did (Milwaukee). I digress. Anywhodaddle, My Boy was a normal kid thing, and I miss him.

I apologize I haven’t blogged in a little over a month. It has been sort of busy/sort of not. I went back to the ye olde Midwest for 10 days in the middle of July and let me tell you, I didn’t think I missed it as much as I do. I spent 5 days in Milwaukee (with family, running a 10K (and placing 47th out of 2400 racers), celebrating a birthday, and enjoying the rents’ new digs) and then 5 days in Minneapolis/St. Paul (with friends, celebrating a birthday, talking pop culture, and not enjoying the moist heat). With that said, it was a bit tough coming back to the east coast. I realized that while I don’t love or hate New York/New Jersey, my heart is and will always be in Milwaukee/Twin Cities, and it’s hard to visit and have to leave that behind. I’ll be back, naysayers. I don’t know when…but I will be back permanently someday.

A few days after I got back to the east coast, two of my lovely lady friends came for a long weekend visit. Twas fun. Spirits were had, colds were caught, cupcakes were loved. It was great to get to see them for basically 2 weeks straight, since I hung out with them almost every day in Minneapolis and then they came to stay with me.

Finally, since my last post, I have finished 2 more books (that’s 4 for the summer so far…still deciding my fifth). I wish I was a book critic, but I don’t have the mental capacity to remember all the details of the books once I finish, them. So, I will give the following critiques:

“Mr. Peanut” by Adam Ross: Basically, a book about a man who fantasizes about killing his peanut-allergic wife and the police officers who interrogate them, who also have strange issues with their wives. Overall, I’d give this a 7/10. I have no experience whatsoever in the plot of this book, but it was actually a good representation of the struggles that married couples (or rather, couples in general) go through and how taxing relationships can be. My only issue with the book was that it jumped around a lot between the three main characters, and I found myself confused and having to remember where I last left off with the certain character.

“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen: A book about a St. Paul, MN couple with two kids that examines their lives from children to adults moving through the technologic age and the Obama presidency. Overall, I’d give this one an 11/10. I know that’s not really fair, but I LOVED this book. It was amazing. My first book of the summer was “The Corrections” by the same author, and while I loved that one as well, this one completely blew me away. It really calls into question what freedom means to us as individuals, and examines that through real-world and tough life scenarios. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

 

My struggle with weight and food

It has been almost 2 years to the day since my weight was below 200 lbs and I accomplished a goal that I didn’t think would be feasible. I was finally happy with myself emotionally, mentally, and physically all at the same time. Being able to buy that first medium t-shirt gave me the biggest smile (so much that I bought the same shirt in every color Target had).

At the time I was working on losing weight and working out for the first time in my life, I thought it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I thought to myself on an almost daily basis “how in the world am I, a 270 lb, 23 yr old, going to lose 70 lbs?” “There is no way that I can reach this goal!” Even though I drastically reduced my calorie intake, changed my eating habits, and worked out on a regular basis, I still didn’t think I could do it. I’m a glass half-empty kind of guy, and this was a perfect example. Once I started to see results, it was AMAZING! All the hard work that I was doing was paying off and I finally felt like I was being noticed, not for my excess weight, but for how healthy I was becoming. When I went home for a family gathering, no one recognized who I was. This made me feel INCREDIBLE!

Flash forward to the present day, and I have realized lately that losing the weight was a cake-walk! The almost 26 yr old Kyle is laughing at the 23 yr old for thinking that losing weight was the hardest thing he had ever had to do. It is, in fact, maintaining my current weight that has slowly become somewhat of a demon to me. While not the hardest thing I have ever had to do, it certainly ranks high on a list of about 5 things.

I am absolutely paranoid about gaining weight. When I say paranoid, I mean TERRIFIED, PARANOID, SCARED, etc. all wrapped up in a tiny little crazy bow. I can buy clothes from Express now that fit. I can shop in “normal” retail stores and not be embarrassed and hide my face while shopping at the local Big & Tall. I don’t have to go tanning anymore because it makes me look thinner. I don’t have to be the fat guy anymore.

This fear has lead to a rather unhealthy relationship with working out and eating. I love working out and would do it twice a day, seven days a week if I could. I know that isn’t healthy, but I would do it anyway. My relationship with working out and eating is unhealthy for one reason: I don’t eat enough. I do this because I don’t want to gain even a single lb. I don’t want to look in the mirror and think “ugh, I am so fat today” (which I do, at least once a day).

I have read and keep reading articles that say under-eating is just as bad, if not worse, than over-eating and being overweight. I downloaded an application for my phone which allows me to count my calories (both burned and eaten). So, now I can keep track of everything. Even though by dinner time, I still see I have 2,300 calories leftover to eat to maintain my weight, I don’t eat that much and go to bed hungry. After all, who wants to sleep on a full stomach?

In the interest of keeping this blog to a minimum length, I guess all I am saying is that I am fully aware that I have a problem with my weight, and yet, am not doing anything about it. I don’t know what I need to do about it in order for me to be 100% happy with my body. I guess I thought that writing it out would be a sort of slap in the face and make me realize that I need to make a change. Ugh! At the same time, I don’t want to make a change for fear that changing with make me gain weight.

It’s a vicious cycle!

 

Way over my head…but I get it

So, as some of you know, one of my summer goals for this year (and, let’s be honest, an all-around life goal) was to start reading more (and by more, I mean begin the process of reading books, not just pop culture magazines). Going to happy hours and drinking a lot just isn’t going to cut it for me!

Columbia University’s bookstore is owned by Barnes and Noble. Because I am an employee, I get a 15% discount (better than the members discount). So, there really is no reason for me NOT to buy books and read them. The first one I bought was “The Corrections” by Johnathan Franzen. Here is my (brief) review:

The book is more or less about the Lambert family (father, mother, 2 sons, and a daughter) who all have WILDLY different personalities and outlooks on their lives as a family and as individuals. The story jumps back and forth between past and present day, with the main goal being that the mother, Enid, wants to get her family together for one last Christmas in their childhood home before Alfred succumbs to Parkinson’s disease. Of course, this simple request elicits a wide array of emotions from the family, all having to go with their Midwestern upbringing.

All-in-all, I thought it to be a thought-provoking and critical look into the definition of family and how, as time has progressed over the last few decades, the semblance of family and connectedness has changed given the “corrections” of society and the digital age. I did get rather confused at times as there wasn’t always a clear indication of when we were in the past or in the present. It didn’t take long to figure it out, but nonetheless, a bit frustrating. In addition, the author has a “stream-of-consciousness” style to his writing, so at times, punctuation seemed ill-placed and the sentences seemed more like fragments than coherent thoughts.

My rating: 8.5/10

The new book I purchased (which I can gladly say I am more than half-way through already) is “Too Big To Fail” by Andrew Ross Sorkin. It is a true (I believe it to be true) account of the economic crisis and the fall of Wall Street that began back in 2008 with the fall of Bear Stearns. I’ll admit, I hemmed and hawed as to whether or not to get this as I knew it would include a lot of background and information that I had no knowledge of, but I wanted to branch out and educate myself in areas that I am unfamiliar. So far, my intuitions have been right. While a lot of the back story and jargon used is WAY over my head, I do have a basic understanding of where the book is at, timeline wise, and where it is going. I have a fundamental understanding of what is going on, even if I only understand 40% of the words and what they mean.

Stay tuned for my review of this book when I finish it in hopefully a week!

Without privacy, there is no point in being an individual

I recently got the title of this blog from a quote from the book I am reading, “The Corrections” by Johnathan Franzen. If you know me, this quote rings true on so many levels.

I am an introvert. The more I “grow up” and learn about myself, the more I feel even more introverted. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spending time with people that I care about and people that are important aspects of my life, but at the same time, I am more at peace when I am alone either reading, watching TV, working out, or even just going for a walk.

That said, I truly believe this quote to be true. I have met several people in my lifetime who could not, and I mean, COULD NOT spend time alone. They always had to be around people. Always had to make plans to hang out with the next person, even while they were hanging out with someone else. These people get very anxious at the thought of having to spend even a fraction of time alone. This really bothers me and I do not understand how people can feel like they even have a sense of identity, without ever getting to know themselves without other people around and influencing them.

In addition to believing this quote, I have also, since moving to New York almost a year ago, really taken it to the extreme, which at times is not really that healthy. Within the last year, I have become increasingly anxious at the thought of having to meet new people. Even hanging out with people that I know gives me anxiety because I don’t really feel like I can be myself (the introverted self) around them. It always seems like I have to force myself to adhere to the social situation I am in and accommodate the interactions that my friends feel they should be having with me.

By sacrificing my authentic self around others, at one point am I really an individual? Well..the answer to that is when I am alone, which is the whole point of this entry.

I don’t want to be alone all the time. I don’t want to ALWAYS get my energy from myself and the things that I like to do. I want to gain energy (not all of it) from being around others and learning from them. I thrive on teachable moments, and enjoy giving them to others. So why is it so hard for me to be around other people and enjoy myself?

This is a challenge that I face every day and while I am working on trying to be a more outgoing and extroverted person, I still don’t know how to balance where I gain my energy and where I can be the person I truly am.

This was a loaded entry😉

That’s Just The Way It Is

No phrase/sentence/grouping of words makes me more angry, irritated, and enraged than “that’s just the way it is” or the similarly phrased, “that’s just how things are.” Maybe it’s the upbringing that I had. Maybe it’s the leadership and diversity training I had in college, but for people to believe in these statements is pure naivety and ignorant, in my opinion.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

The year is 2011. Our current President of the United States won the election based on (not solely, of course) his simple and to the point promise of “Change.” Some would argue that not much has changed in the three years he has been in office, and while, somewhat true, is not the point of my argument. What I want to convey is that the leader of our country, our free country, believes in change and what can come of it. Do you think that he would have received the popular vote if he promised the American people “well, the economy is kind of shit right now…I guess that’s just the way it is.” Absolutely not! He would not have even received the nomination from the Democratic Party. He was motivated by what he and America could do to change the current climate of affairs and really move forward to improve on some shortcomings of the previous presidencies.

Another example I give is in the workplace. If someone wants to know where the opportunities for growth are, what should they do? Should they just sit back and say to themselves “well, my boss hasn’t approached me about areas of improvement and I guess I’m not getting that raise. That just must be how things are around here?” NO! Just writing this example makes my blood pressure go up.

If I was the victim of a crime, let’s say, sexual assault, and I went to the Police Station to report this crime and the police officer said to me “well, this happens all the time in this neighborhood. It’s just how it is,” there would really be no hope in this world. Really!

All of this aside, if you know me, and you interact with me on a regular basis, if you ever say to me “that’s just how it is” or anything remotely similar, please respectfully expect that I will not take that as a an answer and will challenge you to think courageously about how (if necessary) to change your opinions to be more open-minded.

I will now step down from my soapbox.

What is the true meaning of ‘selfish?’

I recently had a conversation with someone whom I consider my best friend, closest confidant, and for all you “Grey’s Anatomy” fans out there…my ‘person.’ We got to discussing where each of us gets our drive and motivation from. As with a lot of discussions with friends, family, partners, co-workers, and the like, we disagreed, or rather, had a very different viewpoint as to where it is we get our gumption from.

It was through this discussion that I realized that I strive for the things I want in life, not out of the necessity to please others or to fit into some mold with which society has unfairly placed me, but rather, I carefully consider what is best for me, and only me, and it is that with which I gain the most motivation and desire to be successful. After realizing this, I was overcome with a bit of anxiety as, to an outsider, this may sound to be a bit on the selfish side. I 100% do not believe that it is selfish, but understand that others live their lives completely differently.

I would not trade a second of my childhood and how I was raised. I had a wonderful, strong, independent mother who not only raised me, but also my twin brother. While she didn’t place these ideals upon us, my drive to be successful in school, in my social life, and also with work, was based solely on making HER happy. I never thought of myself. Sure, I wanted to go to college, get a good degree, get a good job, etc., just like every other average teenager. But, at the same time, I wanted to prove to HER that I could be successful, and the thought of proving to myself that I could be successful never crossed my mind.

It wasn’t until I moved away to Minnesota that I started to approach activities, people, and academics in a way that was beneficial to me in the long run. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what would really be beneficial to me in 5 or 10 years, but I knew, when making decisions, that at the time, it felt right and it felt real. This has continued through today as I still think and make decisions based on what I feel is right and real, and not what others feel.

With that said, does that make me selfish? In essence, I am saying to you here that I do not take into consideration what others think and feel when it comes to me. To be frank, I don’t care. This may sound jaded, but we are born and we die, essentially, alone. By alone, I don’t mean not having or giving love and affection; I mean that the choices we as individuals make ultimately affect the success and happiness that we as individuals have. Sure, it affects others, but at one point are we sacrificing our authentic selves to please others? At one point do we begin to put others’ well-being above our own?

I’m not sure I want to reach this point. If that means that I am living a selfish life, then I guess I’ve defined the word as it pertains to me.