Birthday Reflections

To be honest, pre-birthday week has been a challenge. A couple of difficulties have left me feeling a little down and out. Then again, dealing with people is always a challenge, and that applies every week of the year.

Rather than focus on the negative, however, I’m reflecting on how I can turn these challenges into lessons. As I’ve been revising my novel, I thought about how a lot of editing tips have real life applications.

1.       Showing vs. Telling

Don’t be all talk and no action. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Keep your promises, your appointments, your vows. Accomplish your goals, and knock off those items on your bucket list. Don’t just say you love someone; show them.

 2.       Don’t Be a Cliché

Individuality. We all praise it. But how many of us actually practice it? And I don’t mean dyeing your hair magenta or neon blue, getting a tattoo on your right boob, or piercing a part of your body I shall not name. 

We all want to be liked, to have a billion friends on Facebook, to be invited to every party. We may not openly laugh at the outsider, the socially awkward outcast, or the eccentric spinster when they aren’t included, but we sure are secretly glad we ain’t them.

It’s so easy to agree with popular opinion, to accept what everyone else seems to believe, to do what everyone else is doing. But we should be more concerned with speaking up for what is right, even when your beliefs and core values oppose those of the “in-crowd.”

 3.       Remove Irrelevant Dialogue

Angry people are not worth your time. Hateful people are not worth your effort. Jealous people are not worth wasting your breath. Whether on social media, on TV, or in your social circles, there are always people who take pleasure in using words to provoke and put others down. Ignore them. Cut them out. Their negativity is of no use to you. 

4.       Be Precise

Be present. Be intentional. Be truthful. Whether at work, at home, or at a hangout with friends, pay attention to what you’re doing at the moment, not on what you have to do two hours from now, or what you should have for dinner. Be there, focusing on the task at hand and the people around you.

 5.       Self-Edit Yourself

Don’t reveal everything about yourself for all to read and see. A little mystery is good.

 6.       Stop Using Passive Voice.

Say what you mean and what you want. Don’t kowtow to everyone because you think it’s “the nice thing to do.” People will take advantage and walk on you like you’re a rug. Assert yourself, treat yourself with respect, and others will start doing the same. 

7.       Cut out toxic adverbs from your life. Sometimes adverbs can be replaced with well-intentioned verbs. Other times, they should just be deleted.

Oftentimes, we grow comfortable with people we’ve known our entire lives. Though those relationships grow strained, sometimes toxic, we refuse to cut them off because we get lazy. We think it takes more effort to make new friends, build new relationships, strengthen existing friendships. So we choose to use a familiar word. An easy word. An adverb. We refuse to find another word that better fits the story because that requires more work.

And that’s all I have for now. Time to say hello to my 31st year of life!

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