What I learned this year – Kiran Umapathy

By Egotist / /

2012 was the first full year of a move to San Francisco to me. Those years (in my experience) are a bit more stressful because you’re adjusting to a new place with a different vibe and friends. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy causing myself a bit of pain and discomfort. It’s exciting to push reset and reassess what you want in life. Plus, it’s a lot easier done when you shake things up and spend less of your time on autopilot.

I’m constantly learning and most of the time I feel like I’m a bit behind in lessons I should know at this point in my life. At the same time, I understand it’s foolish and unproductive to define what you should know by a certain age. Hell, people that are considered successful adults still don’t always know how to get what they want besides throwing a temper tantrum befitting of a four-year-old.

But if there’s one thing I’m really glad I’ve wised up to this year it’s to stop becoming so upset when my efforts yield less than what I think is fair.

This goes for everything. Recognition for work, what I put into my relationships or just helping strangers. It’s natural to become frustrated when you believe you aren’t getting what you deserve, but we’re not always the best judge of that because it’s so subjective and extremely difficult to link or quantify what we have for what reasons.

As a quick example, does an extremely genuine person really know what they have because of a good heart? There’s absolutely going to times that person feels like shit because they are taken advantage of. He or she might swear to never help another human again. But what about all the random instances where this person has unknowingly benefitted? A complete stranger could have helped this person because of their benevolent aura. Is this person viewed as more trustworthy and given preferential treatment in situations others aren’t? What I’m saying is that we don’t always measure or correlate our return properly.

And there’s no need to. There have been plenty of times this year I’ve been beyond irritated about being under-appreciated. I’m not proud of this, but I took it personally and vowed to be harder, meaner, jaded and more skeptical than ever before. It was my defense mechanism. But that’s only one option I had – the other being to keep on giving myself, no matter what. I finally understood what my pal Dave Brown meant when he said he chooses to “kill them with kindness” despite the times he’s felt walked all over in his life or career.

The choice to keep on giving is the right move because there are so many things you have precisely because you give. You just don’t always know what they are. I’m not saying you shouldn’t free yourself from negative individuals that hold you back, but you don’t have to react by cutting off your own personal stash of good from the world.

If you’re a creative person, your gifts are a ripe opportunity to give and make this world better than it is without you. And while I have gripes with too many creatives not focusing on larger, more meaningful projects in favor of apps or Tumblrs of the week, even those have their place for producing a moment of joy in someone working on something monumental. Perhaps all these tiny moments lumped together are the catalyst for something greater.

If you already believe that the more positive energy you put out there, the more you’ll get in return I don’t need to convince you of what I’m going to repeat as a reminder.

Give, give and when you feel like it’s a losing cause, give even more of yourself in a different direction. This life needs to stop being thought of a win-lose outcome. Stop trying to teach people a lesson and set an example. If you concentrate on helping others you’ll get plenty in return, it just might not come in the form you expect it. That’s what I finally learned this year.

Kiran is a writer at Holiday Matinee, a blog for creative inspiration.