In the Mirror

We often assume that those around us think as we do. We wrongfully assume that the actions of others have something to do with us. In reality, everyone is different, and more often than not, people think of themselves more than they think of you.

The circumstances they face, the challenges they encounter, and the reactions that they give are not identical to ours. Not everyone is of the same mind. People do things for differnet reasons, and those reasons don’t always have to do with us. 

The true battlefield is of the mind…

Much of this stems from the fact that the reality we construct for ourselves is not necessarily synonymous with the reality of the world in front of us. When we see people, jobs, relationships, and friendships, we see them through a “lens” that we have constructed of them. This lens is not necessarily an accurate view of them. There is bias, prejucide, first impressions, and many other factors that contribute to our view of this person. In reality, when we judge them, we believe that we are doing so fairly and impartially, but we are doing so on the basis of our lens and our view. This view does not necessarily portray them accurately, even if we feel strongly that it does. 

The end result is that we end up assuming that we can read the minds of those around us. We assume that everything that they do has something to do with us. We assume that the coworker whose attitude suddenly changed is upset with us. We assume that the parent who doesn’t respond for several hours is retaliating against us. We assume that the boss who says “This was good” was insulting us because they didn’t say “great.” 

It’s hard to see the folly of this manner of thinking until we see the other side of it. We live our lives this way entirely oblivious to the other side of the coin here. I recently realized this myself when I found myself doing anything and everything to please someone who could never be pleased. I quickly realized that it’s exhausting to meet someone else’s expectations of us, particularly when they are unrealistic expectations. Most importantly, it’s impossible to live up to someone else’s view of you when that view (or “lens”) has nothing to do with the real you.

The truth is that everyone has constructed a version of us that exists in their mind, and we are constantly being compared to those expectations. The version of us that we assume is often not the version that we are perceived as. 

In the World Outside…

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought out both the best and the worst in us. On one hand, people have stuck together in ways that we have never seen before. Never before have I seen so many people coming together to make sure that they are fed, employed, taken care of, and in company. Groups of people that would formerly walk past silently in the grocery store aisles and the school hallways now converse about almost anything, and the human connection is desired more than ever before. 

That is, for most people at least. 

We’ve also seen the opposite. People have assigned blame where it isn’t due, and have unfairly taken out internal frustrations on those around them in profound ways. Even the roads are dangerous; drivers are more aggressive than ever before. There are people cutting lines and getting into fights in grocery stores. People are paranoid of the unknown and instantly label a stranger as an enemy. We are deathly afraid of that which we do not know. 

I have encountered this firsthand on the job. More than ever before, I have been the target of a lot of very rude customers who feel that their struggles are my personal fault. I have seen people distance themselves from me and acuse me of bad practice, only to get very near someone else with whom they are familiar. I’m stared at and instantly regarded as “bad” – all without due process or fair assessment! I have been cursed out and unfairly blamed more times in this past month than I ever had been in the past year entirely. 

It’s only natural that we take this sort of behavior personally, but this is not the correct approach. Truthfully, they have constructed a version of me in their own minds. According to this view (which has not properly been assessed based on real circumstances), I’m bad, harmful, and am somehow the enemy. They are only acting in accordance with their real and genuine beliefs of themselves and of me. 

Likewise, I construct a mental image of them as harmful people who are attacking me. I feel that I am right in judging them as so and retaliating against their rudeness. In reality, they are much like me, simply trying to protect themselves from the unknown. They are probably nice people (in general), who are simply afraid of the unknown and assume the worst in a stranger. 

It isn’t you. 

The truth is, many of these people are acting out of internal fear, and their harshness towards others has nothing to do with us. It is not a personal attack on us, no matter how much it may feel so. It is not an acusation or a rational fear. Rather, it is the overflow of their own frustration being taken out on anyone in their path. It truly has nothing to do with us. 

Some people are impossible to please. They simply have irrational or incorrect “views” of who we are. These circumstances are entirely out of our control, and simply aren’t hills worth dying on. During these times, we should strive to stick together, be our own allies, and see the best in the world around us. Not everything is personal, so take a deep breath, cut yourself some slack, and relax! 

 

 

When the Bully is in the Workplace

It’s not always easy to handle a bully, but when the bully is your boss and your workplace is your social life, the pain is immediately profound. 

Two years of pain. Two years of me blaming myself, feeling (mistakingly) that I could somehow do better and the bullying would come to an end. I was brutally unaware that the their behavior never had anything to do with me. There is nothing I could have done that could have ever changed their minds. 

This sort of conundrum faces more people than we would like to admit. According to workplacebullying.org, 1 in 5 experience it. The victim is often portrayed as the perpetrator. Lies are told and rumors are spread to justify the behavior of the real perpetrator — the bully behind the veil. Toxic people portray themselves as the good guy at the cost of you and your reputation. You sink, and you did nothing wrong. 

Two years later, I finally gathered the courage to put an end to it.   During that moment, I was labeled a bad person, falsely branded a drug addict, and tagged with stories and humiliations that never were true. In the end, the only explanation they ever had was that it was because I was “super laid back, and people couldn’t keep up with me.” 

My heart sank. 

Lessons were learned in that moment. And the most profound lesson of them all was that nobody can mistreat you without your permission. If you allow it, they will do it. Bullying never has to do with you. It has to do with the narcissism and insecurity of the bully.  

I began a new job at a car dealership and became full time after leaving my previously toxic situation. I was embraced with open arms, well respected, and treated right. I was amazed. After years of being beat down like a tree in a hurricane, I felt peace. I felt accepted. I was complimented for hard work and dedication towards my job. I was treated like a person – one with feelings and with a purpose. 

These toxic people from my previous job still try to bring me down. In a sense, they won. Justice isn’t guaranteed in this world. They got their way, and ruined my reputation. 

But I won too, and I won by doing better for myself. I won by finding people who deserved me in their life. I won by gaining the courage to put an end to it myself. 

Bullying never has anything to do with you. It’s only a reflection of the insecurity that the bully cannot unfeel. 

 

Be Slightly Incompetent

Leaders come in two categories: Those who lead, and those who want to be seen as leaders.

True leaders care more about their actual performance than they do on their reputation. It is the performance of their team that matters, not their perception. Sadly, among seasoned leaders, this is too-often a rare find. 

This problem is compounded by the fact that leadership is largely a soft skill that can usually only be taught by experience. There is no encyclopedia or user’s manual for how to manage effectively, and certainly no tailored process that caters specifically to each individual’s personality. Management may feel like an obstacle course of epic proportions, but leadership is necessary for the success of almost all projects. Constant decisions are being made between a rock and a hard place, and there is often no right decision. Someone must make the final call. 

However, there is a single lesson that solves more problems than just one, and it took me many years to realize it.

There is an irreplaceable advantage to being slightly, if ever so slightly incompetant. 

Why? Slight incompetance gives your team room to shine. 

Let’s face it. If you are a leader, you probably are relatively competant in what you do. You are probably leading for a reason, and you want to be respected as such. However, you don’t know everything, no matter how much you hate the thought. Many of the decisions you will make are life-and-death decisions, but others are minor. While it’s tempting to want to control every aspect of the process, not every decision is a deal breaker. 

It’s okay to relinquish control. You will not lose respect for admitting your own limits. Step in on the deal-breaking decisions, and delegate everything else. 

Team members who feel valued will respect you (and work harder) much more than those who don’t. It allows them to truly know their own importance. And ultimately, those who feel important will often step up to the plate in ways that surprise even the most seasoned leaders. 

Be a true leader. Let your team shine, and never let your ego stop you from recognizing your own limitations. It pays to be slightly, (if only slightly) incompetant. 

American Culture and the Coronavirus

America quickly became the epicenter of the Coronavirus epidemic worldwide. We are now the leader in Coronavirus cases by a wide margin. Initially, we believed that we were invincible. We were convinced that this was China’s problem, or that this was Europe’s problem. Therefore, it can not possibly be ours. 

Even after the statistics have been mind-blowing and jaw-dropping, America remains compacent. We do not have mandatory face-mask restrictions in place. Stay-at-home orders remain voluntary in the vast majority of cases. And golf courses are still “essential” businesses. The statistics speak for themselves. We simply have not taken the gravity of the situation into account.  

My hometown on the North Carolina coastline seems to be an exception. I had planned on traveling for the holidays. Upon seeing the restrictions, along with the prevalence of the virus and its impact, we decided against it. And yet my town has been less hit than many surrounding areas largely because the city opted to enact additional restrictions on top of the state-wide restrictions. Stay at home orders are enforced. Parks and beaches are closed. There truly is nothing to do except to stay at home. If you don’t comply, police are on the streets to address your non-compliance. You have no choice but to follow orders. As a result, this town has been significantly less hit than many of the surrounding cities and metropolitan areas. 

Sadly, this indeed appears to be the exception rather than the rule. All across America, the attitude remains that we are invincible. It cannot possibly affect us. Unfortunately, the jobless count has risen to 22 million (according to the New York Times). This is the highest that America’s unemployment rate has been since the Great Depression. 

And yet, Ww still believe we remain invincible. We’re convinced that we are above it all. However, pride goes before a fall. History has shown that it repeats itself, time and time again.  

America is in need of prayer.

Not only for God’s hand to be on this nation, but for our culture to step outside of its fallible belief that it cannot be touched by the forces of nature. We caused this problem, and we will have to face the consequences. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder plagued sufferers with thoughts that are uncontrollable and unwanted. Behaviors range from repeated handwashing to flipping light switches, checking locked doors repeatedly, or a strong need for extreme symmetry. However, mental disorders rarely exist in a vacuum. Most are comorbid with other disorders. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common disorders that runs along with OCD. This can be difficult to detect in the face of the larger of the two giants. GAD is often represented with irrational fears tied to non-threatening situations and circumstances, but what exactly does this look like? 

  1. What if I’m not good enough? 
  2. Does my best friend think I’m creepy? 
  3. What if my boss thinks I’m a bad worker? 
  4. Do my parents think I’m a failure? 
  5. What if I’m not what I’m talked up to be? 
  6. Am I secretly a narcissist and a bad person? 

Sound familiar? Thoughts such as these are common with the general population, but are particularly bad for those who suffer from OCD-tendencies. These worries are often nearly impossible to control, and can negatively impact the sufferer’s life. 

The common treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (otherwise known as CBT). In CBT, the goal is to expose the patient with their fears without allowing them to perform anything that relieves them of the stress that it causes. In excessive handwashing, for example, CBT will force the patient to touch dirty surfaces without allowing handwashing afterwards. This exposes the patient to their greatest fear and forces the brain to grapple with it.

 

At first, this exercise is almost always extremely uncomfortable. Over time (during the span of several weeks), the anxiety subsides, and the compulsive thoughts begin to lose their power. 

In social anxiety, this can have a similar effect. If the sufferer remains convinced that of irrational beliefs about himself or herself, CBT can help the patient to face these fears. 

How this works: 

  1. Imagine your absolute worst-case scenario
  2. Don’t perform any “rituals” or otherwise comforting measures. 
  3. Allow yourself to feel the fear of this worst case scenario. 
  4. Repeat. 

After a period of a few weeks, the anxiety will begin to subside. The sufferer will learn to answer your fears with “So what?” These are some of the most powerful words in the universe. They are the words of acceptance. They are the words of relinquishing power to uncontrollable circumstances, letting them be as they are. Soon, these compulsive fears begin to lose their power. 

The brain is a marvelous thing. Obsessive compulsive disorder short-circuits the brain and forces it to compulsively rely on undesired thoughts. By facing these fears and taking the power away from unwanted thoughts, you can reclaim your life and reclaim your peace. And all too often, you’ll realize that the reality was much better than you had feared. 

Geddy Lee was a Good Singer

Rush’s talent was well acclaimed throughout the 70s and 80s. Their vocals were well known for Led-Zeppalin style shrill and extremely high notes. They influenced countless bands, won countless awards, sold out thousands of stadiums, and made over 20 records over its 41-year career. This band was called Rush.

The group dominated many radio stations during the 80s with hits such as Tom Sawyer, the Spirit of Radio, Freewill, Limelight, and so forth. But the masses of people familiar with the band are unaware that they made music all the way up until 2015. In fact, in the last two decades, they would tour every ~3 years or so, and released a live album every tour. Much of their content spanned their entire 41 year career during their final tours, leading Geddy Lee to have to sing extremely high notes even into his 60s. 

Most Male singers begin seeing a decline in their vocal range around the age of 50. It’s physiological, to some extent. Although good training, technique, and practice can make a difference, the vocal range can only extend so high in later years. Particularly for rock singers, whose styles generally depend on shrill, high notes, and strain. Geddy Lee in particular, who was particularly well acclaimed for this style. 

Most who critisize his voice today are critisizing his post Snakes-and-Arrows vocal performances. However, from the late 90s up until 2008’s Snakes and Arrows Live Tour, his voice aged remarkably well. His range was phenomenal, and he was on target with almost every note. Rarely was auto-tune and pitch correction required in the studio after recording live albums. His tone was unmatched from any other point in his career. Comparing Rush to many other live bands in the era, Geddy did a phenomenal job, even without considering his age. 

Even with the frequent youtube concerts that are posted of Rush and of other bands, Geddy nailed his material. It is rare to find a singer who can do it better. 

The critisism of his voice began to take hold around 2010. The Time Machine Tour took a major toll on his voice. He found himself struggling to hit notes he had previously sung comfortably. The set list was never re-arranged to accomodate his changing voice, and throughout the tour his voice declined. Even worse, the original concert recorded on April 15th in Cleveland was plagued with vocal issues as a result of him being sick on the night of the show. Much of the vocals were pulled from alternative shows or corrected in the studio afterwards. It’s well-done and listenable on the live album, but it’s very different from the vocals on the actual night of the show. 

As such, the Time Machine Tour is often considered to be much of the cause for the critisism of his voice. Many are blissfully unaware of the subsequent tours that would follow, as his voice would recover remarkably well during the Clockwork Angels tour. Even at the age of 59, he maintained his full tenor range (a feat that is rarely possible as singers age), and continued to confidently sing old material. The Clockwork Angels DVD that would result was mostly unmodified from the original in terms of his vocal performance. Even without fixes in the studio, his vocal performances were generally on-point and well done. 

His voice aged and his timber changed, but he continued to sing bravely during Rush’s signature 3-hour shows. During the R40 tour (and at the age of 62), Geddy found himself hitting notes and singing songs that had not been sung for decades. Even in his 60s, he was hitting the D5 repeatedly throughout his performance. This note is incredibly hard for young singers to hit! Geddy did this in his 60s!

All things considered, he never truly got the credit he deserved. Perhaps his extraordinary skill on the bass overshadowed it, or perhaps his style was never mainstream enough to gather the masses. But truthfully, he was a phenomenal singer, and there are very few bands and singers that could have ever done a better job. 

Well done Rush. You’ve left a legacy.

Saturn Moon

Saturn Moon is launched! 

You guys will soon see a much more personal side of me. I’ve always been faceless on the internet. That’s about to change. This time, it’s a personal website. 

Saturn-Moon is a modern-day time capsule. It’s a website/blog on how to live differently. We will discuss ways to live wisely in the 20s, and how to be smart and creative. We will focus on college experience, lifestyles, and early experiences on the job. We’re going to focus on making a positive impact on the world. Man does not live to survive. We’re here to live, contribute, and dream. 

The world could be a better place, and it still can be. We are all here to do our part, and here at Saturn-Moon, we will do ours. 

Thank you for visiting Saturn-Moon, and please visit back in a few weeks when our website is improved and more-complete. We’re building out every day, and more content will be added daily! 

Why give in to pressure?

I work in customer service. And the Coronavirus has thrown us all for a new one.

I don’t work the typical cashier position, but I answer to a lot of entitled people throughout my day. Those who expect something from everybody and everything. Those who are unpleased if you didn’t meet their 110% expectation somewhere in their mind. I get cursed out for the smallest imperfections, of for not washing someone’s car when we’re down 70% of our staff, or for not delivering their car from three hours away. 

Talk about strain. It sounds easy to let it go in one ear and out the other, but boy, it has it been a rough ride. Layoffs have begun. Business plumetted. We’re working harder than ever to keep our customers coming, to sanitize, and to keep our sanity. The whole world is on edge. 

I often ask people whether anxiety is good. I get varying answers. From a lot of people, the answer is “of course not.” I disagree. Anxiety is what keeps us performing. It’s what keeps us behaving, and keeps us in line. But there is a fine line to be drawn between healthy anxiety, and excessive anxiety. I used to walk the line of excessive anxiety daily. 

The truth of the matter is, why bother? Anxiety, when it’s unhealthy is a silent killer of joy and happiness. It takes the life out of us. It fills our minds with worry, not with hope. It takes the colors out of life and replaces them with shades of gray. 

When is anxiety excessive? 

  • Are you worrying about things you can’t change? 
  • Do you beat yourself up for unrealistic expecations? 
  • Would you consider yourself unhappy and consumed with constant comparisons to others? 
  • Do you look at someone else in your shoes, and think “they’re doing great?” 

If you answer yes to any of these questions, relax. You’re doing great. We’re our own worst critics. Constantly. And at this point, it sounds like anxiety has become the unhealthy kind. 

Everything is what it is. Do your best, and let God take care of the rest. The world washes itself out and everything becomes what it is. We’re just one more cog on the wheel, and we can only make the most of what we have.