For Christmas this past year, Jason’s Grama got me an awesome present: a subscription to Olive Box. For those of you that don’t know what Olive Box is, it’s a monthly subscription box service that sends you a package full of paper goods all focusing on one theme each month. It’s such a nice surprise when that happy little box arrives in the mail. One particular month recently, the theme happened to be “Paris,” and I loooovved everything in it. But one thing especially caught my eye. It was a book called Paris in Color by Nichole Robertson, which was this beautiful photo exploration of Paris, but grouped by color. As many of you know, I’m a sucker for color, and so this particular item sung to my soul.
Photo by Christiaan Triebert via Flickr
Perspective is one of the most powerful things in this world.
It’s the difference between a mountain and a mole hill. Between getting laid off and getting a new lease on life. Between a devastating breakup and the realization that you are one day closer to finding the great love of your life. By its very definition, perspective changes everything; no two vantage points have the same view.
To illustrate a quick point about perspective, hold your hand out eight inches in front of your face, and focus on your palm. Easy, right? Simple, even. Now slowly bring that hand closer and closer to your face until it’s almost touching your nose. What happens? If you’re like me, a simple hand quickly becomes two blurry hands and a headache.
And I know what you’re thinking, Come on, Caroline, it’s a HAND. And to that I say, No, my friend, IT’S YOUR LIFE. (Apologies. Being dramatic sometimes is just so fun.)
But seriously, that is how I like to think of my life. Sometimes we’re so close to our own situations, living our lives day in and day out, deepening the grooves of our habits and routines, that we lose clarity. We lose sight of the bigger picture. We lack perspective.
I just spent the past four days on an awesome – dare I even say transformative - journey traveling to Fargo, North Dakota. Yes, FARGO. Jason and I’s friends, Melissa and AJ, decided to put on a small conference with the intention of bringing people together that are poised to change the world, a band of “misfits” who categorically reject the path prescribed to them by the expectations of the world in favor of an intention-filled life of their own. They asked Jason to speak at this event, aptly titled Misfit Conf, and because
I’m a complete and utter moocher an event about making a dent in the universe sounded exciting to me, I decided to tag along. If you have the time (hell, even if you don’t), I encourage you to read about AJ and Melissa’s story on PursuitOfEverything.com, because it’s one that could be a GAME CHANGER for you.
Now, while I could spend hours here telling you about every ah-mazing, pain-staking detail that AJ and Melissa baked into Misfit Conf 2013, and why it was important that it be hosted in a city like Fargo – a Misfit in its own right – for now I wanted to share something that I started thinking about on the flight back from Fargo.
AJ and Melissa have created a powerful tribe of people in The Misfits. They are not bound by any superficial attribute or interest – not business or design or art – but instead their common thread is one that is both deeper and broader: a common desire to make a lasting impact on the world, to live intentionally, and to define their own lives before they are defined for them. They possess an ethos that is unmistakable. Despite knowing AJ and Melissa personally, and reading almost all of AJ’s posts, I don’t think I truly felt what it meant to be a Misfit until I experienced Fargo and Misfit Conf.
And it got me thinking:
What’s MY ethos? What are the beliefs that are unmistakably me?
In order to figure it out, I just started writing. I wanted to share with you all what I came up with. It may change over time, but for now, this is my manifesto.
And here it is again in written form:
I believe happiness is a choice.
I believe color is the quickest way to energize the soul.
I believe it’s okay to be a walking contradiction.
I believe in always imagining that something wonderful is about to happen.
I believe in teaching others – not as an act of selflessness, but as an act of selfishness because it feels so damn good.
I believe in living intentionally on both the grandest and most minute of scales.
I believe my imperfections are the most unique and remarkable parts of me. (This includes my inability to keep my painted nails unchipped and my complete lack of short-term memory.)
I believe not having a plan can be a perfectly acceptable plan.
I believe effort is what makes relationships thrive.
I believe it’s okay to cry, even when it makes me and the people around me uncomfortable, because emotions make me feel full and alive.
I believe there is no such thing as “overanalyze” when it comes to understanding myself.
I believe self-awareness is the single greatest gift my mother ever gave me.
I believe LOVE is the best basis on which to make life’s big decisions because great jobs and great opportunities can be abundant and self-made, but GREAT LOVE is a rare and powerful thing.
I believe in never regretting a decision I once made based on pursuing my own happiness.
I believe watching dumb TV and reading dumb magazines does not make me a dumb person. Being dumb does.
I believe in open-mindedness.
I believe that the only way the world will know what gifts I have to share is if I share them.
I believe vulnerability opens the door to connection.
I believe that the fastest, cheapest, most efficient way is not necessarily the right way, nor is it the most fun.
I believe there is no downside to being optimistic.
I believe in having a sense of humor, especially in situations that have no business being funny.
I believe in betting on myself.
I believe that the world is full of hidden paths just waiting to be forged.
I believe exercising my creativity is as important as exercising my body.
I believe comparison is the thief of joy.
I believe my own definition of success is the only one that is real.
And I believe in leaving this world a better place in whatever way that I can.
If you want to know what makes me tick, all I have to do is point you to these words. It’s my hope that, by sharing them with you all and putting them out into the universe, I will be reminded of the things that guide me each day. More importantly though, I hope I might challenge some of you out there to come up with your own manifesto, to figure out the guideposts in your own life.
Understanding who you are at the foundation is what will help you gather others around you that stand for the same things and who want to help you conquer the world in your own way – your own version of the Misfits. I feel I was able to get so much out of this recent experience because with every ounce of inspiration I took in, I was able to absorb it through my own personal lens.
I know that self-awareness doesn’t come as easily for some as it may to me, but being forced to write down on a blank page what it is you believe in can make the process of getting to know yourself easier.
So here’s my challenge to any of you out there trying to figure out who you are:
Sit down for 15 minutes with a big empty page and write “I believe…” at the top of it. Then, just write.
Be honest with yourself and the things that immediately come to mind. Think about what motivates you when making decisions, and the things that you value. Think about things you feel are uniquely you. Are there patterns that have popped up throughout your life? Mantras that especially spoke to your heart? Write those things down.
If anybody out there cares to take on this challenge, please let me know in the comments below because I’d love to hear your manifesto. And if there’s anything that you connect with in my manifesto, I’d love to hear that as well. If not, that’s cool too. Because, by golley, putting myself out there is never easy, but as it turns out, “vulnerability opens the door to connection,” right? Right.
Can’t wait to share more of my thoughts from Misfit Conf with you guys. It was truly the experience of a lifetime.