We get 24 hours in a day. For most of us a quarter of that time is spent sleeping. that leaves 18 hours of productivity. We choose to fill that time with work, family, friends, maybe eating. But, lets be honest, most of us spend the majority of our time just wasting time. I do it, you do it. We all do it. Playing games, iPad, iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Tumblr, Fumblr. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Amazon Not so prime (aka reading)
We waste so much of our 18 hours just wasting time. I’m not accusing. I do it too. And because we waste so much time, we often feel rushed because we feel we have so little time. Or, for some of us, looking and feeling busy is the rush we desire. I think I already wrote on this topic, maybe not, but looking busy has become a personality trait for many. I’m funny, he’s athletic, She’s always busy. (Or he’s always busy, not to judge) We rush around and we don’t have time for simple things.
I’m not talking about family, friends, watching birds and smelling flowers. Those things are cute, but the simple things I’m talking about are as follows:
1: Putting your shopping cart back in the return area. And I’m not talking about leaving it in the general area, barely touching the one in front of it, but still hanging out in the parking lot. I mean pushing it all the way down the chute and possibly even slamming it into the back of the previous one so they all lock together. It’s so tacky and annoying when I’m returning my cart and I cant even get it into the chute because everyone has just left a pile. So busy they just couldn’t give it a good shove. Who does this affect. First of all, me! Secondly the guys and girls making minimum wage fetching these carts. They should be able to hook them up in a little train and return them. Instead they spend most of their time having to push them all together. Which breaks their backs and leaves more and more shopping cart mess in the parking lot. And if you are the person who leaves your cart in the parking space next to you…. I’m coming for you!
2: Saying hello to the Walmart greeter. (This also applies to Target, Home Depot, and any other shopping center or market that employs someone usually elderly or disabled to say hello and make you feel welcome) Saying hello costs no energy and takes no time. They say hello, you say hello. Maybe smile, but its not required. Of course, I’ve lived in places where if someone says hello to you on the street, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to be leaving with less money. But, I can 99.9% assure you the Walmart greeter isn’t going to mug you or swindle you into buying them a new car. Just say hello.
3: Cleaning up the mess you made on or around your table at a restaurant. I’ve eaten with kids, and they can be messy. I’ve eaten with adults, and they can be messy. I get it. You’re having a great time eating and celebrating and throwing your bread up in the air and sometimes things will fall to the floor. But, if you are able to pick up your fork, napkin, onion ring, or 4 month old baby, that would be a great help to the servers and busboys so they don’t have to climb under the table. And if they aren’t the cleaning type so the next customer doesn’t have to step on your fork, napkin, onion ring, or 4 month old baby. It doesn’t take that much time and it’s a great help.
4: Putting clothes back on the hanger at a store. Many places employ armies whose entire job it is to put clothes away. But, you know there are other places where an hour after opening it looks like a tornado came through and knocked every article of clothing off its hanger and onto the floor or draped over the rack. It’s a disaster for the employees and future shoppers. I won’t say I’m the biggest fan of hanging up clothes, but how much time and energy does it really take to notice a shirt is the wrong size and to put it back on the hanger it came off of? This also applies to folded clothes, but I would recommend having a PhD in Foldology first.
Yes, we are busy. Some days are more rushed that others. But, if you take a little extra time to help a fellow man or woman, the world might be just a little nicer.
If there is one lesson I would love to teach everyone I come in contact with it is this:
I know, you have heard that phrase a million times. So often it has lost all its meaning.
You think “Of course I’m going to be myself! Who else would I be?”
But, you know, that simple phrase carries so much more than the literal meaning. It means not hiding your true feelings, wants, desires, thoughts, and beliefs. It means not changing your image, pretending to be something else, liking something, loving something, doing something, being something.
The pressure to conform is one of the most powerful forces in nature. If you go along with the crowd you will be protected. This is true for everyone and everything on Earth. A pack of gazelles run through the African plains together because there is power in numbers when an hungry cheetah comes calling. And a pack of teenage girls hang together because it keeps one of them from being singled out for things both good and bad. A student sits at the lunch table alone and others wonder that is wrong with him or her. They must smell, or have issues, or people hate them, etc. The flow of speculations run wild and nothing has actually been done or said. But clearly, something is wrong! Nobody thinks that maybe this solo student just wants to eat their lunch in quiet and watch the world around them.
Of course, this pack mentality carries over into the adult world as well. Humans find power in numbers. Nobody wants to be alone because it leaves them vulnerable. Ever walk into a Pub and you are the only one there? Even if you weren’t planning on socializing that night, it is freaking weird! Why is nobody else there? Are they all off doing something else? Was there some huge event going on and you weren’t invited? What will people think if they walk into the Pub and they see you sitting alone at the bar? It is safer just to leave and find some people.
Imagine going to a major sporting event and you are the only one there! The chances of that ever happening are non-existent, but imagine it. Even if it is a World Cup match or the Super Bowl and you have the best seat in the house, wouldn’t it be incredibly scary to be in that huge stadium all by yourself? Now imagine the same event with a packed house and you are the only one rooting for the other team. Like being a Red Sox fan in Yankee Stadium, or hypothetically, a Mets fan in Busch Stadium the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. Take it from me, it’s not easy. Often the easiest route becomes giving up on your loyalty to your team and doing what ever it takes to fit in. Or, heaven forbid, get beer poured over your head. Going with the pack keeps you under the radar and, although it prevents you from any kind of personal success, keeps you safe and secure.
I tend to be a bit of an extroverted introvert. If you have ever spent quality time with me you know that I can be loud, silly, funny, and controversial. (Ok.. maybe not that controversial.. I’m just trying to create a daring image of myself to make you think I go outside the lines) Case in point. I am a character actor. I see the need for a type of character in a room and I try to fill it. I can be the political hot head, the George Carlin “What happened to the world?” guy. The Jerry Seinfeld “Have you ever noticed?” guy. I do voices. A lot of voices! Old man, Young kid, New York Jew, Hillbilly, Harvey Fierstein, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Gollum, Judd Geizer: The Chupacabra Whisperer, etc. Whatever voice I think will get a few people to laugh, or at least myself. But none of them are me. I’m an Irish kid in his early 30’s who has watched a lot of TV and movies. And these characters are a cloak to hide the real me. I like peace and quiet. Just me, my thoughts, and the voices in my head (all nice, no worries). I am shy and always have been. I don’t make a lot of small talk and rarely speak without being spoken to. People freak me out! Ok, maybe not “Freak me out” but I fit right into radio because I could speak to millions (statistics pending) without actually speaking to anyone. I could play a character and not worry about any immediate judgement. Even when I am performing to a group of people, I turn off my eyes and just speak into the distance. The moral of the story is, if I let my true character out into public everyone would wonder about that weird kid sitting alone in the corner. And that, my friends, is something I would like to avoid.
I began writing this article on April 20th. Or as some people know it 4/20: International Cannabis Day. The day to go smoke a lot of Marijuana because some Twitter post told you to. I did some market research that day in Wal-Mart and Subway and I couldn’t help notice that people were walking and talking just a bit slower and more subs were being ordered than on the day the US Navy spends their tax dollars. It was clear that enough people in this country were participating, but when I asked a few people (Online, I’d never talk to strangers in real life) about why 4/20 is the day to smoke Pot, nobody could actually give me an answer. I wont take the time to explain the reason here because, quite frankly, I find it almost as comical as the celebration, but look it up online if you are interested. My point is, tens of thousands of Americans chose to get baked on April 20th because they wanted to fit in (and other reasons, I’m sure). If it were really about enjoying smoking Marijuana, then wouldn’t they just do it anyway? Why did so many people choose the day when they knew thousands of other people would be doing it too? Pack mentality and fitting in. Safety in numbers.
I have written my views on why we feel the need to fit in and the importance of staying with a group. Now, what can be done about it? I’m not saying finding people with similar interests isn’t a positive activity. It is a fantastic idea! That is, unless the group you are trying to fit into is not the group where you belong.
I was a jock at heart, I just lacked a lot of the physical ability to be one on the outside. I played Football (poorly), Hockey (poorly), and Baseball (extremely poorly). I was Captain of the Cross Country team and was quite a good runner, but because of my physical limitations due to my Ankylosing Spondylitis, I was never as good as I could have been. But, that was okay because I still enjoyed doing the best I could do. The person I was not was the party animal. I would go to loud obnoxious parties in college and I would put on a good face, but I hated it! I never ever felt comfortable in a mass of people and loud music. The corner table at the Pub with my friends and a glass of Guinness or Stone IPA was more my comfort zone. Eventually I became true to myself and if going to a loud party was the only way I could socialize, then I just didn’t socialize that night. It wasn’t worth the discomfort.
I would encourage anyone who reads this to evaluate where they truly feel at home. If you are quiet, then don’t pretend to be loud. If you are a reader, then don’t pretend to be a Reality TV fan. If you are gay, then don’t pretend to be straight. If you want to be in the musical then audition for the musical. Don’t worry about what other people might say. Be the person you want to be! If you want to test your limits, then by all means test away. If you like it, great! If not, you will have a comfortable place and identity to call home.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t even pretend to. I don’t even think having a PhD in Psychology means you have all the answers. Is this blog post a cover-up of who I really am? Probably. But, maybe not. I’m just trying on the costume of someone who writes these kinds of things. Maybe I want people to read this and think I am intelligent and insightful. It’s human nature to hide your true self. I don’t think anyone can go a whole day without tweaking a personality trait or interest a bit to impress someone, or at least fit in. But, I think it’s worth a try.
“Pretending to be someone else is exhausting” – Anonymous (Or, maybe I made up this quote to make people think I’m the kinda guy that likes quotes)
Doesn’t being tired absolutely stink?
And it always seems to come at the wrong time. We are never tired when all we want to do is fall asleep on the couch. I doubt many of us have woken up refreshed in the morning and thought “I think I will pass out in my recliner around 3 today” Being tired is something that just happens when we want or need to be at our most active.
You have a long day of chopping wood and yard work ahead of you and that is when you wake up with a crick in your neck and feeling like the cat slept on your face. When you know you have a long paper to research for and write is when you suddenly can’t keep your eyes open. And for some reason when I finally got a chance to watch “The Avengers” I needed to start and stop it two times because I kept drifting off. But when my wife is watching “Drop Dead Diva”, that is when I am wide awake. So unfair!
I suffer from chronic autoimmune disorder that causes me a lot of pain and causes me to sleep all night and still feel beaten in the morning. I push through, however, I won’t let it get me down and I put all my energy into my work. But that means when I get home, all I want to do is collapse. I lack much of a social life because the thought of not being close to my bed frightens me. (Ok, maybe not frightens, but I like to have the option to go to bed when the need arises) PS.. don’t think I am narcoleptic. I’m not falling down tired, I just sometimes lack the energy to do much else.
The key to my survival is to make a plan and stick to it. When I know I have things to do, even if I feel like a slug, I do what I got ta do. That way my mind can be occupied and the little voice in my head that tells me to rest is pushed to the back. I tell people I am like a freight train. I move forward at a powerful pace, because if I stop moving my wheels might rust. True story.
But I still advise everyone to know their limits. If the train runs out of fuel, there is not much you can do. So, eat three solid meals and get exercise.
(When did this turn into an advice blog? I must be drifting)
In closing, being tried stinks.
Now it’s time to take a nap.
I pretty much gave up on the TV world a year ago. That is when my wife and I said good bye to cable and satellite and started watching all our programming live on demand via Netflix and Hulu. It was a financial decision. Our provider was hiking up our rates and we chose to get off the crazy train.
Besides, most of the stuff on TV was lame anyway, and there isn’t much you can’t get on Netflix and Hulu. We were giving up sports on ESPN, but it wasn’t going to kill us. My wife and I are binge show watchers anyway. We finished all of “Heroes” in a week and “Crossing Jordan” in a week and a half. BTW.. any suggestions on our next show will be greatly appreciated.
But last night while visiting the In-Laws we watched our first dose of broadcast television in a while. While we were watching the newly relaunched “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (Not as good as the original) we saw the lineup of new shows coming to the networks this fall…
What I saw was the re-branding and regurgitating of the same TV show ideas that they try every year which all ultimately fail. The mismatched families, the strange offices, the girl who gets pregnant from the loser, some performance based reality show. Seen them all before. Remember “Skating with the stars”? wasn’t that a great idea?
Every once in a while you will get a “Modern Family” or “How I Met Your Mother”.. I thought “House” was a fine program. And what all those shows have in common is that they have characters that you care about. You want to know what they will be up to next week, you know and love their mannerisms and you can point out their favorite moments. I don’t want to be negative.. but I just don’t see me falling in love with any of the characters on these upcoming shows.
I think we need to get a panel together that focuses on the quality of TV programs. If people like the shows, they get on TV.. if its lame jokes and “comedy at the lowest denominator” (as I call it) then the show will never see the light of day.
Television executives! We desire quality programming that is built to last. And not another telling of The Real Housewives.