Fighting off the green monster…

“Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands.”

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Those words must have slammed into Saul’s consciousness like a ton of bricks. They certainly slammed into mine yesterday when I heard them at Mass. Perhaps the women who sang those words in the streets meant to praise both their king and the young man who slew the giant; perhaps they meant no harm. But to have yourself lined up so starkly next to another, and to see that you lack by comparison, hurts so much. What makes the hurt worse is its very ugliness. Jealousy is evil, and the hurt it causes must be evil, too, and people who feel jealous are always evil. Isn’t jealousy the main characteristic of the evil stepmothers and stepsisters and rivals in fairy tales and old books?

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Remember this jealous lady? Things didn’t go so well for her…

To tell the honest and painful truth, I’ve always been jealous. I guess it’s a natural outgrowth of comparisons, and I have a terrible habit of comparing. It’s an old habit that goes back at least to the sixth grade, when I shot up suddenly to my full height and stood out like a freak among my more petite and delicate peers. It’s probably safe to say we all — or most of us — fall into the comparison trap to some extent. These comparisons can be based on anything, from physical characteristics to personality traits to talents. Maybe we compare due to a natural urge to categorize or measure our own value, or to get a clearer picture of who we are. Whatever the reason, once you let yourself fall into the habit of comparing yourself with others, you eventually end up stuck in one of two lies. Either you believe you’re better than everyone, because based on comparisons you have a higher “score”; or you believe you’re worse. And you can get so caught up in whichever lie you’re living that you completely lose sight of who you are.  

Those of you who know me best know full well which lie I’ve been caught up in for most of my life.

Maybe that’s why yesterday’s reading hit me so hard. Of course his jealousy was wrong, but I get where Saul was coming from. He didn’t hear, “Saul has slain thousands” because all he saw was the comparison. David had achieved more, David was more well-liked, therefore Saul must be worth nothing. 

How often have I gotten caught up in this way of thinking? What good are my thousands when someone else has ten thousands? 

Of course I’m not racking up a body count, but at the heart of it I don’t think my comparisons are much different from Saul’s. Maybe I have intelligence, but I can name off three dozen friends who are quite a bit smarter than I am, so really I’m just an idiot. Maybe I’m reasonably attractive, but I know a hundred girls who are prettier, so I’m basically ugly. Maybe people really like me once they get to know me, but I have so many friends who are likable right off, so I have no shot at meaningful friendships. Maybe I have specific talents, but I know so many people who have so much more talent, so there’s no point in bothering.

Granted, I don’t want to kill any of the people who rank higher in any sort of comparison. I’ve never contemplated murder or considered the best way to “off” the better-looking girl/more talented musician/more successful writer/etc. But I do let my comparisons color and shape my relationships. Jealousy is a poison running through so many of my interactions and tinting even some of my dearest memories.

For a long time I thought that poison only affected me, so I kept it to myself. But that was just another lie that grew out of the main one I’d been living. “You don’t matter much,” I told myself, “so your bitter feelings aren’t going to hurt anyone else anyway. Not like they care.” In a way that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve had more people, especially my male friends, tell me in the past year that they thought I hated them when we first met. That’s such a blow, because of course I didn’t hate them — I just assumed they’d have no use for me, and apparently my bitterness showed…and it certainly affected people other than myself. 

Pope Francis’ homily yesterday on this reading drives at the heart of jealousy and envy, and the way these vices tear people apart. Maybe you’re not spreading rumors or actively wishing someone else harm, but are you withdrawing into yourself and shutting others out? Are you projecting your own self-hatred onto people who would probably like you very much if you only liked yourself a little?

At the heart of it all is ingratitude. Pope Francis says that “the jealous person…doesn’t know how to sing, how to praise.” As I’ve learned through long, hard experience, praise is where we have to start if we want to run jealousy out of our hearts.

I remember discovering this in a very concrete way while I was on retreat one summer years ago. A girl in my group sang like an angel, and the retreat leaders had asked her to lead some songs. I felt the usual nauseating waves of jealousy as she started off, the bitter comparisons of my only decent singing voice to her gripping talent. Then I remembered a conversation I’d overheard her having just the day before. Someone praised her talent and she very sincerely replied, “Thank you. All for the glory of God, right?” It suddenly put things into stark perspective. Here she was using her beautiful voice to sing songs of praise (literally), and all I could think about was myself. I remember I actually started laughing at that point, because looking at it that way showed very clearly that I had nothing to do with this situation. My only place there was to listen, to enjoy, to praise God with her, and to praise God for her talent. It was a moment of pure grace for me, to be able to see this so clearly and to say in all sincerity, “Thank you, Lord, for her incredible talent.”I wish I could say I was never jealous again after that, but it would be a blatant lie. Still, it was the beginning of a new outlook, and it gave me a new weapon to fight off a nasty old habit.

Jealousy is bitter by nature because it’s an always futile attempt to put the “I” at the center of everything, where it can’t subsist, because it doesn’t belong there. Jealousy kills, as Pope Francis says. It kills relationships, it kills love of the other, and it kills properly ordered self-love. Praise restores balance by taking our focus off ourselves and putting it on the One Who is the true Center of everything, the only Center that can hold. 

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When we see Him

It seems to be a season of next steps.

Over Christmas I watched my baby sister get married and thought how small she looked in yards of white tulle, and how brave. Spending time over glasses of wine with my new brother-in-law and another brother-in-law-to-be, I thought about how much things change, and how the changes can be so good, bringing new, unexpected people into our lives.

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Among my closest friends also there has been a rustling and stirring as many of us begin to move forward, after a long time of restlessness. We’d always heard it would happen suddenly, but I admit it’s leaving me a little dizzy.

There are so many good-byes. A few weeks ago I got together one last time with an old schoolmate who was preparing to move out west with her husband. My roommate of nearly three years will be taking her next step in another month, moving on to a new job and a new life in a new city far away. Several of my friends have completed applications for graduate programs and will be moving on as they figure out what schools will best meet their needs.

Then there are all the friends newly dating, others newly engaged, and the upcoming weddings. Every weekend seems to bring a new acquaintance, as an old friend says, “I want you to meet my girlfriend,” or “Let’s do dinner. You have to meet my boyfriend.”

It’s bittersweet, of course, but in many ways it’s such a joyful time. It’s almost audible as an undercurrent in so many of my conversations with friends and family members: “At last!”

The waiting can be so long, but as it finally draws to a close, you can see so much beauty in it. So often it’s only in looking back that you discover the face of Christ etched across your experiences. He’s there in the shadows, working in silence.

Does one grow to understand this better as life flows on, or will we always flail in the darkness?

Profile No. 25: Travis Rinn

Dear Readers, 
It has been such a privilege to receive so many profiles over the past month and a half. I never expected this project to turn out so well…and to be so rewarding! I’ve enjoyed reading the stories and reflections of other people living in the gap, and I hope you all have too. While the regular profiles have come to an end, I still have more…and I will be posting them over the coming months. If you haven’t been profiled yet but would like to be, please send me an email (single dot lifeinthegap at gmail). I’m always delighted to get new profiles, and eager to share them. I would also still love to receive good, thoughtful guest posts. Guest posts can be about anything related to life in the gap, as long as they’re told from your personal perspective and describe something from your own journey. 
Starting this week, we’re back to regular postings from yours truly (a.k.a. “Mabel), and maybe we can convince Virginia to share her thoughts with us now and then as well…
The theme for the rest of this month will be seeking the face of Christ, especially in the most vulnerable. With Christmas past and the March for Life almost upon us, it seems like a good time to explore that seeking that should shape and inform our lives. 
I’m looking forward to a great 2014 with this blog, and thank you as always for reading. 
–Mabel
Profiles in the Gap
Travis Rinn
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Travis Rinn is a software developer living and working in Austin, Texas. 
Did you expect this time of singleness?

I always thought I would be single at this age. I had the notion that I should establish a career before marrying.

If so, is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing?

I thought that if I chased wealth first, then the girls would come, and after that I would find a Catholic one and worry about all this God stuff later. As it turns out, the Holy Spirit bonked me on the head in the middle of amassing that wealth, and now my plan is all out of order. So no — it’s not what I expected at all, but what I expected wasn’t what I should have been going after. I guess you could say the change is pretty exciting.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it?

I did seek fulfillment in my career, but I have come to realize that it is only part of fulfilling the role that God has for me. I’ve tried to take a more balanced role since coming to that conclusion.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?

For a while, it didn’t play much of a role at all. I was the guy who skipped Mass to watch the NFL pre-game show. Later, through the meddling of the Holy Spirit, I came to realize that it was in fact the most important thing and should inform everything I do. I try to put my Faith first in everything now. It makes all the difference.

Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

I use my time to benefit God. And in particular, I have given a lot to the young adult community as a leader and coordinator of various groups and projects. I have some software ideas (games and Catholic apps) and no time to write them, and if I didn’t have little concerns like bills and a mortgage, I would love to take a few months off to build one of them. Maybe some day…

Profile No. 23: Will Edmonson

Profiles in the Gap
Will Edmonson
 
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Will Edmonson is a Catholic young adult living in the heart of Dallas, TX. You can follow his personal blog at willedmonson.co or follow him and a group of other Catholic young adults at saintableblog.com.

1) Did you expect this time of singleness? 
No, not really. When I was 19 or even younger I thought marriage was just around the corner and that I would certainly be married by the time I was 25. In my late teens and early twenties, the thought of life after college seemed like a ship leaving port and the safety of a bay that it has known really well over the years; but now the ship has to explore a wider world and expose itself to the dangers that lie in a world somewhat unexplored. I did not see myself being 30 and single. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, though. I’m more comfortable being single now that I was eight years ago. 
 
2) If so, is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing? It’s been exciting and sometimes feels like a privilege compared to my married friends because of my availability and openness to what the world offers to me. I can’t sit at my apartment all day because I’d go nuts, so it forces me to get out and be active in the world (hopefully for the better). I recently started a second graduate degree and I’ve taken on more extra activities and responsibilities just because I have the extra time compared to someone with a spouse. Basically I like the breadth of the lifestyle, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve lived into the strengths of being single rather than wallow in what I don’t have. 
 
3) Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it? There’s a sharp divide between my day job and what I do outside of that. I read an article that changed my view on all of this, particularly the idea that ideally we need to find our passion and somehow make money at it. Making money at what I’m passionate about somewhat taints the passion because there’s now a business angle to it. I like that I help teach an RCIA class and read and blog and make no money at it because I don’t have to worry about return on investment and meeting certain financial demands at those things. 
 
Basically over time I’ve become more comfortable with having a day job that I love, but it’s not where I find meaning and purpose in life. It’s one of many things, and I find more subtle ways of living out my faith in that environment while having more explicitly ministerial activities in other areas outside of work. The term “career” means much different things to our generation than to previous ones because of how many things we can do from our home, particularly because of the internet. 
 
4) How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? I saw in college a crossroads of growing deeper in my faith or embracing a kind of agnosticism/hedonism that a lot of young adults embrace in our time out of a lack of thinking about these issues or just general laziness (not to say that all hedonists or agnostics are lazy intellectuals, but people seem to lapse into those belief systems when they stop thinking about God). Young adults are faced with a spiritual famine or a spiritual feast, and that starts in college; the choice is made daily on whether we’ll live into that or not. We are highly autonomous, and we have a ton of free time that we won’t have later in life (until we’re retired at least), so the potential to devote that time and energy to our faith can pay huge dividends later in life and in the present. 
 
5) Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear? I’d like to write and create more. I know I waste a ton of time on indulgent things that have no lasting value (Netflix binges, video game marathons, staying out too late with friends). I challenge myself to have a disciplined life, and to keep myself accountable in a way a spouse would notice or anyone I would live with would see. The life of a single adult requires a vast amount of self-motivation to be successful because accountability isn’t living and sleeping next to us every night. 
 
I try to use my time to its most potential. To be honest, in many ways this past year was conquering many of my fears and I see them as nascent attempts at lifelong pursuits of mine, one being my blogging and the other being my participation in RCIA and my teaching role there. It’s been a growing year for me, but before that there is fear that’s hard to overcome largely because of hurts and failures we hold onto from our past. Those are legitimate fears in some ways because failures hurt, but it’s not the end of the world, which is something I learned as I got on with life. 

Profile No. 22: Bill Gonch

Profiles in the Gap

Bill Gonch

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Bill Gonch lives and works in the Washington, D.C., area

Did you expect this time of singleness?  

I expected to be single, but I expected a different singleness.

The whole time I was growing up I was an atheist. I had some vaguely defined plans for what I’d do in my twenties, but they all involved my career, interests, hobbies, fun. I figured I’d get married someday, but I didn’t think too much about the timeline. More to the point, I didn’t think of using my twenties for anything other than whatever I happened to want.

Then, when I was almost 22, I learned that God exists.  I remember one night shortly after that: I was looking around at things in my room, realizing that each one of them was held in existence by a direct, constant act of God’s will. If He stopped perpetuating granting existence to my desk…pop! No more desk!

I grabbed my desk. I don’t want to tell you how long I held it.

You see, when I first believed in God, everything changed. I mean literally everything: every single thing that I could see or touch or smell was a different thing than it had been before I knew that God exists. Before, things were just things—they were brute physical reality, and I thought about them or didn’t depending on whether I needed them for whatever I wanted to do.

But now, every thing that was depended on God’s action for its existence. Every thing is a gift from God: rain and sunrises and scotch tape and earthworms and my sourpuss great-aunt. It was like I’d moved to Mars. (Oh, right, Mars is a gift, too.) I spent my twenties in an entirely different world than I’d lived in as a kid. By the time I’d started exploring the new world—which is the real world—any expectations that I’d had up until that time were gone.

If so, is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing? 

It’s been wild. I haven’t gotten married, but here are a few things I’ve done.

I’ve met incredible friends—people who are so good that they make me want to be better. Some people I know are so good that it frightens me, the way Aslan frightens the Pevensie children in Narnia.

I’ve sat with homeless men in a park late at night, giving out sandwiches and talking about our families.

I’ve learned—maybe it’s shameful that I needed to learn this, but I’ve learned—that homeless men have families, that they see them and care about them.

I’ve helped a man get off the street and into a homeless shelter.

I’ve learned that the devils who keep men on the street are beyond my power to defeat, and often beyond those men’s power, but not beyond God’s power.

I’ve organized church groups.

I’ve learned that I’m really bad at organizing church groups.

I’ve learned to pray the Hail Mary.

I’ve learned that one of Mary’s titles is “Exterminatrix of Heresies,” and that there’s a painting of her beating down a demon with a giant club.

I’ve been one of the crazy people who prays the rosary outside of abortion clinics, and I’ve learned that the stereotypes of those people are very far from the truth.

I’ve seen a woman approach an abortion clinic and then change her mind, deciding to bring her child into the world, because of things that my friend said to her.

For three years I lived with the Blessed Sacrament in my house. In my house!

I’ve counted among my friends men who wear brown dresses, giant rosaries, and no shoes. I’ve learned that they’re called “friars,” not “monks.”

I’ve become the godfather of little boy whose soul is immortal.

It’s been wild.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it? 

I’d have found a lot more if I’d listened to what God was telling me.

There’s a passage in A Man for All Seasons that has been playing in my mind for the past several months. Richard Rich has been seeking a position in the government from Sir Thomas More, but Thomas refuses, believing (rightly) that Rich does not have the moral fiber for an intrigue-ridden court. Instead, he offers to appoint Rich to a teaching position. He says, “You’d make a good teacher, Richard. Perhaps a great one.”

Rich: “But who would know?”

Thomas: “You, your students, perhaps your colleagues, God. Not a bad public, that.”

I came to DC to work in policy two-and-a-half years ago. I thought it was the right move…and at first it was. My employer has an important mission and I work with wonderful, talented people; I’ve learned an awful lot from being there. But it’s been clear for a while that policy is not what I should be doing. For a couple of years now, I’ve felt a pull to return to school, get a Ph.D. and, well, be a teacher. At the end of this past summer the Lord hit me with a series of hammer-blows: it was time (past time, maybe), to apply. Lord willing, I’ll start classes in the fall. It doesn’t feel too good to be in the same spot as the villain in one of your favorite movies. But now, for the first time, I have a strong sense of vocation. I’m finally doing what God intends me to do. That does feel pretty darn good.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? 

Goodness! You might as well ask, how does oxygen play a role in your life?

I mean that pretty close to literally. Faith gives me joy in good times and strength in hard ones. Faith constitutes the world: by it I know that each person I meet deserves my love and compassion and respect because each person is made in the image and likeness of God. I’m not sure I’d agree that it plays a role in my outlook: it’s more that faith is the very grounds by which other things can play a role. It’s not one of the things out there in the world, but the means through which I understand anything else that’s in the world. Faith is the pair of eyeglasses that lets me see the world clearly, and my soul comes with the same fine-print notice as my driver’s license: “Restriction: corrective lenses.”

Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

I’d talk to more people. I’m very shy, and I have a hard time knowing what to say to people whom I don’t already know well. It’s an INFJ thing, I guess. But when I do meet new people, I’m always glad to have done it, so I’m trying to be more outgoing.

I’d write and publish more. Ray Bradbury once encouraged young writers to write a story every week for a year, because “No one can possibly write 52 bad stories in a row.” I’ve decided 2014 will be the year I get my fiction published, so I’ll be writing a lot and submitting things I’ve never submitted before. I’m just hoping I don’t prove Ray Bradbury wrong.

Finally, I’d listen to God more. It’s weird—I listen a lot when I’m talking with other people, but when I pray suddenly I’m doing all the talking. Talking in prayer is easier than listening…after all, if you’re just sitting there listening, pretty soon you find yourself thinking that you need to pick up some chicken cutlets on your way home, and how are you ever going to finish that report by Thursday, and—darnit—you left the dishes in the sink again, and hey, that girl by the Mary altar’s pretty cute. And then your mind’s entirely distracted from God and it’s time to start over on your page of Francis de Sales and see if you can salvage a bit of this Holy Hour for some actual prayer.

But I guess distraction isn’t the real reason I’m afraid to stop talking in prayer. The real reason is that sometimes, when you stop talking, God starts.

Profile No. 21: Dustin Siggins

 Profiles in the Gap

Dustin Siggins

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 Dustin Siggins is a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area. 

Did I expect to be single at the age of 28-and-a-quater? Simply put…no.

I had my first crush in September of 7th grade, and at 15 started looking for the right woman to marry. I figured it would take some time to find the right young lady for me, and by the time I got out of college we’d be ready for marriage.

Over the next several years, I was met with disappointment after disappointment. Starting in February of 7th grade – 1999, which was when the aforementioned crush and her boyfriend of several months broke up – a string of failures found me at every turn. At one point I was 0-17. For you non-sports fans, that’s zero “yes” answers and 17 “no” responses to my asking girls on dates.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I analyze. A lot. More on that later.

Finally, for a period of approximately eight months, good luck was mine. I dated a young lady for a month – she was vacationing for the summer in my hometown – and then dated my then-best friend for several months. The end of this latter relationship left me quite depressed for months, a state of mind that was finally broken by the stress and distraction of Basic Training after high school graduation.

I entered college quite optimistic about dating. My string of bad luck was over, if the prior year was any indication! Alas, by the time I graduated college I had dated one young lady for a month, and that was about it. Turns out, being an abstinent, pro-life, weekly attending Catholic made me a radical even among my fellow Catholics.

Thus it was that by the time I was a junior in college my regular commentary on dating was that I had accepted that I was going to be the 80-year old virgin. I told people I would make a movie out of it, and make lots of money – the PG version of “The Forty-Year Old Virgin.”

When I came to D.C. my optimism had rebounded, especially as I learned how culturally and geographically unaware I had been. Here I was not a radical, extreme Catholic – who knew the Northeast was more liberal than the rest of the country? Not me, at the time – and I hoped I had matured enough to change my dating luck around.

Again, luck was not mine. Turns out women don’t like it when a guy shakes hands on a first date (something I have remedied since). The Southern women found me a bit…blunt…and too intense. And despite my preference to become friends with a young lady before formally pursuing a relationship, my personality was putting me so far in the dreaded Friend Zone it was like being in the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by sharks. With chains.

In other words, women liked being my friend. But not my girlfriend. (Though this has its own advantages – the benefits of friendship, the benefits of hanging out with very attractive women, and none of the emotional stress of trying to date said friends.)

In 2011 I utilized online dating for seven months, and finally started “playing the field.” Effective though these tactics were, they never felt comfortable, though online dating did lead to a short-lived long-distance relationship. And then, finally, luck was with me as I dated a woman for almost five months and almost fell in love with another later in 2012, despite the brevity of the second relationship (two months). In early 2013, one of my closest friends and I discussed dating, but because of our religious differences we decided to simply maintain a very close friendship.

So where does this leave me, as 2014 nears? It’s been a tough year, I’ll admit. My younger siblings are both getting married next year. The average age of marriage for men is 28, which puts me behind the eight-ball, and for most of my life I’ve thought that guys who are unmarried in their late twenties are losers or have gigantic personal flaws. And the constant discussions of discernment in the Catholic community mean the subject is dating is always on my mind.

However, tough times allow for growth, and this year has also been one for large personal growth in certain areas. They include:

  1. A priest told me in July that our goal in life is to be a saint. Everything else helps us on that path. It was a good reminder about priorities.
  2. Despite rumors to the contrary, I talk far less than I want to. The filter between my brain and mouth is gigantic – which should scare those of you who know how much I talk. I find this filter necessary to strategize how best to talk to people in life, especially since my default setting is to be extremely choleric, and this can alienate people. However, a friend recently told me I should not worry about filtering because of what other people might think. While we all have our flaws, by being so tactical, I am not being who God designed and intended for me to be. To a degree, I’m letting the flaws of others dictate my behavior, which is not productive for anyone.
  3. Clearly, I am someone who analyzes and thinks a lot. While this is naturally part of who I am, and thus does not paralyze me as it might others, it can also create an inefficient style of behavior. As my friend Isaiah once put it: “Dustin, I love you, but you have got to learn to take yourself less seriously.” To put it another way, by thinking and analyzing so much, I’m essentially trying to control my life to a fault, instead of putting it in God’s hands.

In short, I need to learn to relax and go with the flow instead of always trying to create the flow. For example, my one romantic idealistic trait – wanting to be one of those old couples that’s been married for 70 or more years – may need to take second-fiddle to the rest of my life. And rather than get frustrated when people who don’t follow key Church teachings get engaged and married, while I follow them and remain single, I need to remember being a saint is the first and foremost goal.

Marriage is not a competition I have to win. We’re trying to be saints. Comparing myself to my siblings, or the average age of marriage, is to miss the forest for the trees.

So where am I as we enter 2014? Frustrated, absolutely. Recognizing that even at the age of 28 – a full-fledged adult – I have a lot of growing up to do? Grudgingly, yes. I’m trying to not miss the forest for the trees, and remember that people mean well when they say contradictory things like “Be yourself, but be low-key,” or the falsely uplifting “The right girl is out there for you!”

So what should I expect out of life right now? I don’t do “New Year’s Resolutions,” as self-improvement should be a continuous process, but I think I’m going to prioritize a few things this year:

  1. A friend gave me a piece of advice recently that I’m going to take into consideration: Rather than focus on multiple aspects of life at the same time, try to focus on one aspect to make it as successful as possible. She suggested one’s career path, and indicated this would be a good idea in order to be happier, and happiness is attracting to the opposite sex. I think I’ll take her advice, with a twist – prioritize everything but dating, and let the dating happen as it will.
  2. I’m going to work on being more aware of why I act as I do. I always apply my friend Ben’s advice – “Don’t care what people think, but don’t give them reason to think badly of you” – but I’m going to try to keep the latter mindset balanced with greater emotional awareness.
  3. A retired priest advised me to just be Dustin. Let’s see what that looks like, rather than being “Dustin who’s constantly being hard on himself.”

In the end, the goal of every human being should be to walk on the path God has for us, and be happy regardless of what life throws at us. We should be whole people as much as we possibly can – and, in my case, if a cute girl walks across my path, life’s a little more attractive right now. And if she becomes my wife, my ability to walk on the path of God’s Will will be more complete than it was before our paths crossed.