CRUSHing it?

It is almost August and well overdue for a mid-year reflection. The past few months themselves have been full of turmoil, transition, and change, so in essence, this is a reflection on that period as well.

I started out the year with five guiding words that I wanted to shape the year.

Curiosity.

Relationships.

Understanding.

Sharing.

Humility.

And at the end of my time at Cornell, I gave a graduation speech on “CRUSH”ing it, taking life by charge as we enter a new phase. In that speech, I exchanged sharing for service to more properly address the public administration program I had finished. But in the back of my mind, there was a nagging feeling on whether I was really “CRUSH”ing it. So here is my take on how the year has gone, and a few thoughts on how to CRUSH it even more by the end of the year.

Curiosity. This has probably been the easiest and most prevalent word of the year. After feeling like I had kept myself in a rut and box last year, I missed the curiosity of my younger days. Seeing the world with rose-colored glasses had brought me such joy and gratitude, something I desperately needed. Over the past few months, I’ve been intently studying accounting, finance, content creation, wine, and digging deeper into entrepreneurship and venture capital. I’ve found myself overwhelmed at times, but thrilled. However, in this same time, I’ve also been met with the question of “What do you want to do with your life” and stumbled my way through the answer, coming to something vaguely coherent. For me, curiosity has hit its limit, more or less. I find myself coming back to the same things for a good reason. It’s what I’m interested in. It also happens to be a lot of things. In this next phase, I realize my curiosity needs to be more inward-focused. Focusing on the external world is great, but becoming deeply and intently curious about myself and what I want is what excites me now.

Relationships. This one needs a moment of silence. Relationships are hard (platonic, romantic, professional, etc.) but incredibly worthwhile. There is a lot we learn from each other and ultimately a lot about ourselves — our triggers, our dreams, our strengths, our faults, our values. This one is a toss–up as to whether I feel like I’ve been succeeding in this area. It would be really easy for me to say “no”, and I’m tempted to. I’ve found myself neglectful at times, overly critical, and at times a bit stubborn, but I’ve also seen some of my relationships flourish and realized where and with whom I can be my best self. If nothing else, the value I’ve placed on my relationships has increased tenfold and that has allowed me to put more energy behind trying to be my best self in the ones that I am prioritizing. But that really only speaks for my close relationships. There are many smaller, looser relationships that I need to manage differently though. Still working on this and it requires a whole separate piece. In the spirit of acronyms, relationships needs a separate acronym of its own – CFO – consistency, follow-up, optimism.

Understanding. There’s a lot of room to grow in this area! But I’ve also done some good work, so it’s a wash. Giving myself a B+. In recent weeks, though, I have found myself lacking empathy in certain circumstances close to mine, which isn’t fair. But it has pushed the limit of my understanding and compassion. I spent a lot of time over the past year, feeling misunderstood. Feeling frustrated that all of the things I understood myself to be were not apparent or were seen as less valued or were ignored was/is exhausting. Understanding people is more important than understanding articles or concepts (although there are some key concepts I definitely need to make sure I understand for my Series Exams, but that’s neither here nor there), and that’s where my priority needs to lie. Earlier this year, understanding meant comprehension — comprehension of concepts, tools, seeking to be critical. That’s fine, that I can do, that I can continue to work on. Going forward though, understanding needs to look like compassion and empathy, even if it means that I might not truly understand.

Sharing. I have utterly failed on this. I’ve found myself nervous and self-conscious on sharing my thoughts and ideas and allowing myself to be distracted by the external world and things around me versus looking within. These past few months, my self-confidence has been shot and I’ve been emotionally drained trying to deal with my own life. As I lean more into this inward-focused curiosity and spend some more time with myself and rebuilding my self-confidence, I hope I’ll find the courage to share more. I’ll let this post be one foot into the pool.

And for the last one…..

Humility. You know……this may also need a moment of silence. I always knew this would be a hard point for me, and it has been. But probably one of the areas in which I’ve grown the most? Maybe that isn’t being humble. Humility will truly be a lifelong journey, so we’re getting somewhere. One thing I’ve learned about humility is that it can go too far. When you humble yourself to the point where others step on you, humility is no longer a point of strength. However, humility really can be strength in that it is control of self as well as the opportunity to relinquish control, trust others, and be vulnerable. It is a powerful concept to hone, but it doesn’t mean there also isn’t room for pride. Pride in oneself, pride in community, pride in accomplishments. An effective balance between pride and humility builds confidence, grace, and strength.

All in all, I’m passing. I’m making it. I’m more conscious of these concepts than I have been in the past. Not all change is quick, so I’m embracing patience and a centering of self in these next few months and beyond.

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