On Giving and Receiving Advice in Difficult Situations

When we are faced with difficult situations where we are simply unable to make a decision on our own, we turn to those who know us best for advice, whether it be a friend or family member. Even then, when we receive advice, we often still can’t arrive at a concrete solution. Why is this? Why do we turn to the advice of others when we don’t even take it into consideration a majority of the time. We often completely dismiss it or argue with them from every angle. It’s difficult to see things from an outside perspective when you’re in the situation yourself. Of course, it’s easier to give advice than to receive it. When you’re the one giving advice, the answer almost always seems clear.

Say for example, a friend turns to you immediately after getting into a fight with his or her significant other. From an outside perspective, you can easily dissect the argument. You point out the errors in communication (or lack thereof), tell them that they should/should not have said something, or advise them to react differently for future circumstances. As you are giving them with this advice, I can assure you that their immediate reaction is: They are 100% disagreeing with you in silence. That little person inside their brain is sitting there with arms crossed, and shaking their head left to right.

If you’re the person receiving this advice, you’re thoughts begin to populate and you silently respond in various ways:

“But she doesn’t even understand what happened”

“She doesn’t even know him”

“She’s not the one in the relationship”

Your defensive barriers begin to climb higher and higher and eventually, you completely tune out from everything they are saying.

Then, do we even bother asking? We ask because we care about the opinions of those that matter to us. We ask because deep down, we know that they can see things much clearer than we ever could when we’re in the heat of the moment. We ask because we often know the answer, but hope to hear something different. We ask because, even though we don’t want to admit it, they are usually right.

I’m a big fan of Elite Daily and I quite often read articles on topics such as relationships and dating immediately after I get into a fight with my boyfriend. And immediately after reading them, I get even more frustrated and angry on the opinions of these internet strangers. I often respond in one of the various ways that I provided above. But the thing about giving and receiving advice is this- It is always coming from an outside perspective. No matter what, at the end of the day, no one can know the inner workings of any difficult situation whether it be your best friend, your sister, or your husband. They can only tell you things from their point of view.

So, all you can really  do is to try to put yourself in that outside perspective and ask yourself, “What would I do if I was watching this happen live?”

Again, this is always easier said than done, but if all of us tried removing ourselves from the situation, then there would be a significant drop in errors in communication. Sometimes, we just have to take a step back and remove ourselves from the situation and see it for what it is. Often times, we are too emotionally invested to see things clearly. To remove the fog from the glass, try a different window. Hopefully then, a solution will come.

Advertisements

What’s it Worth

The other night, I had a dinner  with a friend whom I’ve know for well over ten years. We talked a great deal about how far we’ve come since we were younger. We talked about how much change has happened since the last time we saw each other. There’s something special about re-connecting with a friend who has been around for a majority of your life. They know you before you became the person you are today. They’ve seen you evolve, struggle, and overcome obstacles through a long period of time. At the end of the day, those are the people that you really need in your life – The ones who will stay with you even when you are at your worst.

We both grew up in the same town and went to the same schools. Now, we both work in a similar job field in New York City. We related on our current lifestyles and the choices that we’ve made since we graduated college. We related on the fact that the life we lead seems so much more difficult than those who are still back home. Everything about New York City is just more difficult.

After several hours of catching up, I finally arrived at the question, “Why did we ask for this?”

She replied, “Because we want more. We’re always hungry.”

I don’t regret the decisions that I’ve made since I graduated college. Frankly, I don’t regret any of the decisions that I’ve made in my life because they’ve lead me to where I am now (although I may not know exactly where that is)

Anyone who truly knows me knows that I am notorious for jumping into things prematurely. I just get too excited like a puppy asking for food. I haven’t quite been fully trained on how to wait. I have never had the patience. However, I am a very committed person. The problem with this is that once I’ve committed to something, it’s very rare that I back out. I will stick around to make it work even though the timing was never right in the first place.

I’ve always wondered why things were so hard for me in the beginning of any endeavor. I have the “Why wait?” mentality, but this mentality doesn’t apply in all cases. And I never learn. I re-encounter familiar situations time and time again, anxiously waiting for the day that things will work out from the get-go. But I’m doing everything backwards – Expecting great results without setting aside the time and preparation that’s needed beforehand. I must be a fan of self-destruction because many of my difficult situations that I’m placed in can be easily avoided if I had just been patient.

I know that I’m not the kind of person to settle for a life that is just easier, but it always makes me wonder if it’s all worth it.

It’s just good to know that at the end of the day, there are people in my life that can tell me it’s all worth it.

RACE REPORT: 2014 New York City Marathon

On Sunday, November 2, 2014, I ran my first New York City Marathon.

I arrived at the starting point in Staten Island, New York near 7AM after having little to no sleep the night prior. The nerves and anxiety kept me awake from 4AM on. I headed to the subway from my sister’s apartment at 4:45AM.  It was still pitch black outside and there wasn’t a soul was to be found anywhere on the streets. Thoughts kept circling in my head to convince myself that I was actually running this race and that there was no backing out now. I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel on 53rd and 7th avenue around 6AM and there was an ocean of runners flooding in and out of the hotel lobby. Right then and there, I finally knew that this was all real.

I met with my former co-workers from Runner’s World and was filled with joy to be on a bus with people I knew. As we were seated to depart for the starting point, I couldn’t stop mentally rehearsing how I wanted to run this marathon. In previous races, I’ve never had an issue with turning my thoughts into actions. However, this race was different. I knew I wasn’t physically prepared, so I had to try to put mind over matter. I was hoping that some spontaneous burst of energy that was stored somewhere in my body would arise and make me run the best race of my life (that was not the case)

My wave was scheduled to start at 10:05AM. It was still only 7:30AM as I was walking around looking for a bathroom to use. I kept thinking to myself, “I wonder how many times I can use the bathroom before I actually start running”

I was under-dressed and freezing cold as I wandered the parking lot near my corral. I was with my former co-worker from Runner’s World as we both searched for the best place to hide from the wind while we were waiting. We found a safe haven inside of a Poland Spring truck and sat on pieces of cardboard boxes with strangers who were also trying to keep themselves warm. It was approaching 9AM when I couldn’t handle waiting anymore. I headed to my corral and waited with the other runners who were just as impatient as me. I’ve never wanted to start running so badly in my life.

As the officials started letting us through the gates of our corrals, all I could think about was how cold my toes were and how I wished I brought gloves or a hat.

We slowly started jogging to the bridge where the race was to begin. My body started warming up from excitement. When the alarm went off for us to start, my mind went blank.

As we ran over the bridge, the wind was blowing so hard that I almost tripped over my own two feet. I tried to remain focused and find my balance. When we entered Brooklyn, I started hearing the distant cheers of neighbors who were all lined up on the sidewalk along the blue tape that created a barrier between the runners and them. As the crowds grew larger and the noise grew louder, I couldn’t help but smile. This was really happening. With each passing mile, I kept looking forward to mile 11 where my sister and best friend were waiting for me. My legs felt great and I was at a perfect pace to run a 4-hour marathon.

When I finally arrived at mile 11, I saw the bright, yellow Powerbar poster that my sister’s roommate made for me. I couldn’t be more ecstatic to see them. I stopped and gave them each a hug and finally felt that spontaneous burst of energy overcome me. From there, I thought “This is cake. I have this in the bag”

Once I hit mile 13, the tables started turning. Sharp pains were running up and down from my feet to my shins to my quads. By mile 14, I felt everything. My legs felt like giant cinder-blocks  and the pain became more intense. I wasn’t familiar with this feeling and I didn’t know what to do. Every step was more difficult than the last. I kept telling myself, “DO NOT WALK. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT WALK”

I walked.

I walked almost every mile from 14 through 26 and I couldn’t be more disappointed. I’ve never walked a race in my life and I couldn’t understand how this happened to me. I began ignoring the cheers of the crowds as I ran through the Bronx and Manhattan. All I wanted was to finish with this race. At one point, I even considered just completely being taken out by a medic. I’ve never felt this amount of pain before.

Then, I thought about how much more disappointed I would be if I didn’t finish the marathon. After such a difficult year, I owed it to myself to earn that medal. Once we finally entered Central Park, less than 2 miles left from the finish line, I saw my sister and best friend at mile 25 and they were still cheering.

I cried to them, “I’ve got nothing left.”

“Yes, you do!” screamed a stranger in the crowd.

In my head, I just thought, “No. I don’t.”

I mustered up every bit of energy I had left to run the remainder of mile 26. As we approached the grandstand, I saw the finish line in sight and tried to speed up the snail-like pace that I was running at. When I crossed the finish line, I felt everything- All of the emotions, physical pain, memories, everything. But, I finished. I didn’t even care about my time. It seems impossible to really describe how difficult this race was for me. All I can offer now is advice for those who plan to run New York City Marathon or any marathon for that matter.

1.) Use a training plan

Train. Stick to a plan and don’t skip out on long runs. I was no where near the mileage that I should have reached for this race. My legs gave out because they were not used to running further than 10 miles. I now understand that wishful thinking DOES NOT carry you the entire way. Being unprepared for a race is the same as being unprepared for a test in school. The information doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Be prepared.

2.) Bring MANY layers

Whatever the weather is predicted to be, bring more layers than you think you need – A hat, gloves, a sweatshirt, sweatpants, a blanket, a sleeping bag, anything. You can always get rid of it before the race. It’s better to have more clothes than less. Bring things that you don’t mind getting rid of. This gives you an excuse to do some spring cleaning.

3.) Get enough sleep

I may have slept a total of 1.5 hours the night before, but thankfully got 10+ hours two nights before. (And I’m pretty sure that I was half-asleep from miles 16-20) Get in bed an hour or two before the time that you actually want to sleep. Trust me, you won’t fall asleep that easily. The nerves are real.

4.) Write your name somewhere, anywhere, on your clothing

The crowds helped A LOT. During the miles when I was walking, it felt amazing to hear someone still cheering for you even if you’re walking. Feed off of their kind words. It will carry you.

5.) Take the food that they give you at the finish line

All I can say is that if I didn’t eat or drink something afterwards, I probably would have passed out. You need to eat or drink something after your race. Your stomach will be crying for it and you need the sugar and protein to help your muscles recover immediately.

6.) Understand that anything can happen

Running a marathon is extremely hard. Running in general is hard. Despite your level of athleticism, you never know what could happen in 26.2 miles. Don’t get discouraged by pain. It happens to everyone. We’re only human.

7.) Don’t give up

When you want to give up, try your best not to. I was in an extreme amount of pain and was convinced that I was going to quit, but I’m so glad that I didn’t. The medal that you will get to wear around your neck will make you more proud than you’ve ever been in your life.

New Beginnings

In the wise words of Semisonic, “Every beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

It took me a while to truly understand the meaning behind this. Even now, it’s still difficult to comprehend in many scenarios.

A part of me has always been a big fan of tradition and keeping things the way they are. However, the other part of me thrives off of change. The main reason behind this tear in beliefs comes from the way that I was raised; coming from immigrant parents and being a first generation American. On top of that, I was born in this particular generation of rapid technological development where I have seen the fine break between the old and the new. I think that’s why it’s so much harder for me to let go of things. Although, in the end, I know it’s always for the better.

I’ve undergone many changes this past year. I’ve dealt with many periods of adjustment and uncomfortableness. It was never easy in the end stages, nor was it easy in the beginning. But, there was always that sweet spot where everything was working really well.

I started a new job at a new company today. I left behind the first job I had out of college, where I was an employee for about two and a half years. To emphasize my earlier point, it was not easy. It’s just like going to a new school, moving to a new town, or dating a new person. There is a lot to get used to, but eventually it becomes normal.

It’s terrifying to take a leap of faith and take a risk for something potentially greater. Sometimes, it works out in your favor and sometimes, it doesn’t. But if you never try, then you’ll never know. It’s terrifying to leave the familiar behind. We just get too comfortable.

We mustn’t get too comfortable until we reach that ongoing sweet spot in our lives. Even then, we must continue to grow. I’m not a life expert, nor am I psychologist or psychic. However, in my experience, I can speak to this:

Don’t settle where you cannot grow.

Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Don’t be afraid to get hurt.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Don’t give up.

Life gets hard. We go through difficult times. But we must move forward. This is how we’ve come so far in the past. This is how we will continue to grow.

Dinner Table Talks

I was sitting on my backyard porch with my parents, Aunt, and Uncle earlier this evening after we barbecued for dinner. I sat there talking with them for several hours just catching up on life and talking about random dinner table topics such as politics, religion, etc. Throughout the conversation, I kept thinking back on how I never really felt comfortable speaking openly about my beliefs, feelings, and thoughts on these kind of topics before. I guess I’ve always felt outnumbered or too immature or maybe that my opinion didn’t matter to them, but over time, I’m realizing that I’m able to speak more confidently about these things now – I guess this would be considered growing up.

As I voiced my opinion and listened to the opinions of my family members about the ever-changing ways of my generation in comparison to theirs, I noticed that I was beginning to agree a lot more with what they had to say.

When we’re young, we often refuse the advice of our elders. We’re too naive or too arrogant to want to believe that our parents could actually be right about the things they tell us when we’re young. We tend to learn things the hard way – through experience. As they say, experience is the best teacher. Until you experience something for yourself, you can never truly understand what someone else is talking about when they try to explain it to you.

I’ve found that as I’m growing older, I’m able to accept many more of the truths that my parents used to tell me when I was young, but refused to accept. The mental age gap is becoming much smaller than it used to be. When I look at my parents’ generation in comparison to mine, the most significant difference that I’ve noticed is how selfish my generation is. Apart from the fact that my parents are immigrants from a foreign country, my generation will be the last to really see what a simpler life looked like.

Talking to family today felt like one of the more eye-opening conversations that I’ve had in quite a while. It’s different than talking to your friends or other people your age because they have the same mentality as you.

The topics that my family and I touched upon had to do with current world issues; Things that actually mattered like natural disasters, disease, and civil rights. Meanwhile, the first thing that I do on a Monday morning is complain about my seemingly tragic problems such as, “He didn’t text me back last night. I hate my life.”

Talking to my family really made me step outside of my life and think about how differently their mindsets were when they were my age in comparison to my mindset on things right now. It seems like it was a much more simple life back when we didn’t have to create our own drama by checking social media and making up stories in our heads about the person we’re dating.

I wish I didn’t have to unnecessarily complicate my life that aren’t actually complicated.

I’m starting to think that my parents’ generation had it right; Their morals, manners, and respect (This may also be skewed because I’m Asian)

I wish I listened to my Mom before making some of the mistakes that I’ve made when it came to relationships, friendships, and reactions to situations.

Maybe if more of my generation would take the two cents from our elders, we’d be a little better off.