You Need To Stop Accepting Average

You Need To Stop Accepting Average

Anything worth working for is not going to be easy.
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It is easy to blend into the wall at a party. It is easy to accept the friendships with your classmates or coworkers you see every day. It is easy to get average grades. It is easy to take the shortcut home. It is easy to accept what the world throws at us, but are really all these easy things acceptable or worth it?

I didn't and still don't choose to stand out at parties. I don't aim to be the center of attention, but I want to be more than an observer. I talk, I laugh, I dance (only if there is music) and I join in the festivities. It is no fun to sit on the side and blend in. Why accept the average experience when it could be fun and memorable?

As I have grown up, I have realized I do not need to be friends with people just because it is convenient. Friendships that have lasted for years no matter your schedules or your distance have shown me real friends. I do not need to force friendships or force myself to fit into a group of so-called friends in every new community I join. I appreciate my associates and we get along, but I don't expect them to pick up their phone for me at 4 a.m. or expect us to go on a spontaneous weekend road trip together. I love my friendships and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I was an average high school student who found her love in college. I found a field that I love to study, and I constantly emerge myself in my industry. I absolutely love my major and I know it was made perfectly for me. Education is important. Pushing yourself makes you stronger. Find the degree that you love to learn about. Don't accept just Cs. You are an excellent student and have so much potential.

Sometimes I switch up my drive home. I change the scenery and admire the little town I reside in. It is easy to take the same route home every. single. day. Life is not all about the fast lane. You do not want to just live in a rut your whole life. All roads somehow lead to home, so why not take a bit of a detour?

Sometimes the world is unfair. Sometimes the world has thrown me down or tosses unexpected events in my lap. I just got up, dusted myself off and showed the world I wasn't going to break from it. I am a warrior in this world. I am not going to be lost in the sea of the universe. I am going to make a difference in this world.

We all have the same hours in a day. We all have obstacles to face. Stop accepting what is convenient and easy. You are capable of so much more than you know. You can challenge yourself. You can change your perspective and your look on the world. You are not an average soul.

You shouldn't just accept the average because you are not.

Cover Image Credit: Jennifer Wunder

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'Mom, I Am A Rich Man'

Cher owned it, and you can, too.
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Most likely if you’re on any social media platform, you’ve seen the iconic video of Cher in an interview with Jane Pauley telling the story of her mother telling Cher that one day she should settle down and marry a rich man, to which Cher replies, “Mom, I am a rich man.”

*Disclaimer: Don’t worry boys, this article will still pertain to you, too.

In the days of “Mad Men” and Andy Griffith, the family unit was very much structured and known: a mother, who made the home and raised several kids, and a father, who earned the money for the household. There was never any confusion as to how one was to live one’s life, because every individual knew that this was the structure to follow. Be born. Make friends. Play. Grow up. Go to school. Meet someone. Possibly attend college. Marry. Have multiple children. Follow gender-assigned role. Repeat for next generation.

Then one day, the world began to change.

Women began attending college for more than an MRS degree. Divorce rates began to increase. Individuals began staying single for longer. Couples began having fewer kids and also having kids later in life. Homosexuals and other members of the LGBTQ community started coming out and sharing their voices. Schools were finally being desegregated. Technology was beginning its exponential growth, and the world woke up.

Cher’s mother was raised to believe these were the next steps Cher should take in life, just as probably similarly your parents have made comments to you that you do not believe line up with your generation’s viewpoint in today’s society. You’ve probably come to already realize that this is a generational gap between you and your parents; however, this is not the topic I want to focus on today. I want to talk about the concept of the individual unit.

Earlier on, I spoke about the '60s family unit. Back then, that was the unit. Even while there were several different roles within a family unit, every family made decisions and moved together. Today, we move into the individual unit. We have gone from making decisions on how we think they would impact the family onto how they will impact the individual. Often, people think negatively on this way of decision making, because isn’t it selfish to makes decision based off oneself?

The answer is… no.

Now before I get some serious hate for that statement, let me back it up. For all my business majors out there (yes, I am one myself), you’ve likely taken or will likely have to take an economics course. One of the basic goals of economics is maximizing profit, which is sometimes depicted as not focusing on how large your slice of the pie is but determining how to make the pie as large as possible. Let’s take this back to the family and individual units.

When decisions were made based on how they would affect the family unit, sometimes the decisions of one individual would hold back the others within the family from “maximizing their profit” or maximizing their potential. Perhaps this was staying home to raise the kids rather than following a career path that interested the parent. This may have been staying in an unhappy marriage to follow society’s standards rather than leaving the marriage and benefiting one’s family more by being happy alone. Although at first glance, these sacrifices may have seemed heroic and for the best for the family unit, looking back the alternatives may have actually put the individuals of the family in a happier place which would have reflected in the long run positively on the rest of the family.

Maximizing your potential is maximizing your happiness, and vice versa. We often think that to be successful and have an abundance of money must make us an evil person to be so selfish. We think that the phrase “money doesn’t buy happiness” means that money equals success and therefore if we’re successful we’re not actually happy even if we think we are. That idea is often what holds so many back from their greatest potential.

To be successful doesn’t mean that one can’t look back and help the people from their past and their family up the ladder once they’ve reached the top. To be successful doesn’t mean that one can never marry or multiply their happiness in others surrounding them, friends, family, spouse, children and all. To be successful means that one takes a step back, looks around, and asks, “Am I the happiest I can be at this present moment? And if not, what can I do to take myself there?”

It’s with those answers that we maximize our potential and growth. It is in our growth that we find gratitude for our efforts. It is in our gratitude that we find happiness in all that we have become.

XOXO, Isa

Cover Image Credit: David Carroll

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This One’s For Africa

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Read through to the end for an amazing Toto reference.

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It's now been a week since I stepped foot on the African continent for the first time in my life. I first visited Johannesburg, where my dad and I spent a day on an 'apartheid tour.'

This tour consisted of visiting Shanty Town, one of the poorest communities in South Africa. The living conditions were indeed different. They had to steal electricity through homemade wires connected to the telephone poles. They had only a few porta potties for ten families to share. They had several spickets to obtain fresh water from. There was no heating in the houses, which were made from pieces of painted aluminum.

Such inconvenient circumstances have come from years of oppression towards black people in South Africa. It was incredibly sad to know that these problems still exist and that apartheid only ended so recently.

On the other hand, the people showed very little anger. Despite their living situations, the people of Shanty Town were so kind and welcoming. Everyone we passed smiled and waved, often even saying hello or asking about our wellbeing.

It brought some serious warmth to our hearts to see their sense of community. Everyone was in it together, and no man was left behind. They created jobs and opportunities for one another. They supported each other.

The next part of the day included a tour of Nelson Mandela's old house. We then made a trip to the Apartheid Museum.

Overall, Johannesburg did not disappoint. The city contains a rich history that human beings as a whole can learn a lot from. Johannesburg is a melting pot that still contains a multitude of issues concerning racism and oppression of certain cultures.

After two days in Johannesburg, my family made our way to Madikwe game reserve, where we stayed at Jaci's Lodge.

The safari experience was absolutely incredible. Quite cold (it's winter in Africa right now), but amazing enough to make up for the shivering. We saw all my favorite animals: giraffes galore, elephants, zebras, impalas, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, rhinos, you name it. While my favorite animal will always be the giraffe, I don't think any sighting could beat when two different herds of elephants passed through a watering hole to fuel up on a drink.

Finally on June 1st, I flew to George to start my program with Africa Media in Mossel Bay. On Sunday, we went on an 'elephant walk.'

The safari was certainly cool, but that makes the elephant walk ice cold. We got to walk alongside two male elephants - one was 25, the other 18. They were so cute!! We got to stroke their skin, trunk, and tusks. They had their own little personalities and were so excited to receive treats (fruits and vegetables) at the end of the journey.

My heart couldn't be more full. Africa, you have become my favorite continent. And it sure is going to take a lot to drag me away from you.

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