The silence kills. The unspoken warning passively smothers. The mute friend destroys the friendship. It has been said many times that communication is the key to a healthy relationship. I am not merely talking about everyday communication or the sharing of feelings, preferences, and desires, but about the type of communication that stands up and tells the truth. Speaking up against a friend will be very likely necessary at least once in any friendship. People are so fickle, so quick to make self-gratifying decisions that lead them where they do not want to go. People are often blind to their own shortcomings and convince themselves that they are better than they are. A true friend breaks the shiny illusion of perfection with the hard cutting blade of truth. A faithless friend would stand aside and watch their dear one destroy themselves, only a true friend will say the offensive, but vital words, “you are wrong”. A true friend risks the friendship for the sake of the friend. They would rather temporarily lose favor with the person they cherish than see them continue in a harmful pattern. Emma’s true friend is Mr. Knightley, who says to Emma “I cannot see you acting wrong, without a remonstrance…It was badly done, indeed”. He is an active friend and a real man who does not feebly submit to Emma or give up on her in disgust. He is not interested in flattering Emma or in shielding her from her own ugliness. He says “This is not pleasant to you, Emma and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will, I will tell you truths while I can; satisfied with proving myself your friend by very faithful counsel, and trusting that you will some time or other do me greater justice than you can do now.” If you want someone like Mr. Knightley in your life, treat your friends as you would be treated, and tell them when they have done badly.
You know that feeling after you have just worked on a big, messy, labor intensive project and after you sit down for a quick break you do not feel like standing up again. I think that feeling comes after college as well. On graduation day, you know that you have worked hard to get to where you are. You have given up hours of sleep, entertainment, and fun things to focus on that seemingly pointless assignment or that genuinely challenging project to be able to finish your degree. The summer after graduation, in between submitting job applications and resumes, you do not want to do or think about anything. You end up watching a lot of TV, surfing the internet, maybe doing lots of pleasure reading (if you’re like me), and all of the other things you could not stop and do before you graduated.
Well, it has taken me until March to realize that I am still in that phase. I work hard when I am at work, but it is so easy to waste time online or watching movies every night when I get home just because I can. Then I realized, this is not the time to do all of those mindless, passive, entertaining things I did not do in college because I wanted to stay focused. It is the time to do all of those pleasurable things that do require energy, thought, and practice that I did not have time to be dedicated to in college. I realized that I want to write more often and develop my writing as a skill. I realized that I want to be able to play music by ear or at least hear chord progressions. I want to make more of those things that I pin on Pinterest. I want to learn to cook better and grocery shop while I still have Mom’s help. I want to know all of the countries in the world, where they are located, and what their capital is (http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/Geography.htm is helping!). And (kind of random) I want to actually be able to use Excel (I took a class almost five years ago, but do not remember much). So I am taking some steps forward. I am starting a blog to develop my writing (and because I wanted to have one for when I am in Mexico anyway)(Also, did you notice I need to work on not using parentheses?). Today, I made a cute fabric headband that I have been thinking about making for a while. I might also start putting my budget in an Excel sheet to practice the different features.
These are small steps, but I am doing something. I am no longer being saturated with entertainment, but am actually producing entertainment. “Being productive” was usually considered a necessary evil when I was in school, but I am beginning to look on it as something very healthy and good. If there is input, there also needs to be output. Our life should not just be about what we can get for ourselves or taking the path of least resistance. We should be active, doing things and making things. Think about the word “productive”. It means producing, growing, bearing fruit. This fruit can take many forms besides a research paper or a good grade on an exam. Things you produce can be for your own pleasure and entertainment. Imagine writing your own story or shooting your own video to entertain yourself once in a while instead of taking the ready made product every time. Being productive could mean that you learn to do new things you never thought you could do because it would take too much time to learn. It could mean that you dress in cuter clothes because you made them yourself exactly like you wanted. It could mean you start exercising or playing a sport that keeps your body healthy and gives you time with friends. It could mean you invest in friendships with a greater quantity of time (which we all know leads to quality time). I do not think you have to swear off facebook and TV to be productive, I mean I am not, but I think having the mindset of actively producing and growing can change a lot of your small choices. So, here is to being productive, in the best sense.