paradox of choice- the life we choose

i have been so fortunate to be able to continue doing what i love from adolescence to present day. even better, what i love to do just so happens to be quite fruitful, which doesn’t seem to be commonplace. it leaves us in a pickle, whether to do with our lives something that brings fulfillment, and possibly not financial freedom, or do what pays the bills and affords a comfortable life, even if its something that we are not passionate about. i have had lengthy conversations with friends i love and care about on this topic several times, some of which are living a life they never expected to and aren’t particularly enthusiastic about. it’s easy to speak freely and give advice from my position – albeit, one that i earned – encouraging them to say fuck unfulfilling work, do what you love and don’t worry about the rest. and i have done just that. but i haven’t had to make that life choice yet so what the hell do i know? life doesn’t work that way. i get it. but why doesn’t life work that way? the whole reason i’m writing this is cause i’m actively pondering what i will do once i am put in this situation and have to choose.

i have gone back and forth with myself trying to figure out what i want out of life after football is over (hopefully no time soon). i’ve had days where i want to work big business ventures filled with long days and longer nights, motivated by the possibility of endless wealth. other days i want lead a really simple life as a ninth grade english teacher and part time personal trainer motivated by the prospect of improving the lives of everyday people, even though it might not yield the wealth i may otherwise earn. the life i favor changes by the day, usually because of some book i read or some experience i had, but those two choices are worldly different and have their own set of pros and cons. to pick one and stick with it seems like such a tough thing to do but i have to believe it is possible to curate the life you want for the most part. obviously something is always going to have to give but i believe you can minimize that through perspective.

let’s say fulfillment in life is based on one’s reference point. if my idea of success and fulfillment is based on the luxurious life of my favorite celebrity or rich friend, then no matter the strides i make and the success i have, if i’m always one step behind my point of comparison, then i will perpetually feel unsuccessful.  on the other hand, if the standard for evaluating my success comes inherently, is solely based on being better than i was when i started and not comparing my life to someone else’s, then life can become much more gratifying. i’m not suggesting setting low expectations for yourself just to have the satisfaction of consistently achieving your goal. i’m also not suggesting that fulfillment and financial freedom can’t coexist. that would be silly. i’m just suggesting that we make our standard of success and fulfillment come from self and not others.

treating the idea of a fulfilling life as a perspective and not a universal standard based on status quo makes choosing the life i want to live seem way more plausible. let’s hold on to one of the few things in life we get to have a say in by keeping a clear perspective on what it means to us to seek fulfillment.


“they” notice

early on in my career, i used to get really bent out of shape when i felt the work i was putting in was in vain. but then i would get extremely frustrated with myself for even entertaining the idea that i needed affirmation to feel valuable. i hate the concept of affirmation because it blurs the motivation, and the drive behind hard work shifts from something purposeful like advancement, personally or holistically, to just wanting recognition.  i understand the frustration of feeling like your hard work goes unnoticed, but these days i’m becomingly increasingly aware that that’s simply a waste of your attention units.

here’s why: i believe that genuine hard work will not go unobserved. at some point, the people in charge (they) – and if you are in charge, then your competition – will notice the diligence, either in the results or the process. there’s a catch, though. it has to be honest work. it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between someone who is working for results and someone who is working for acknowledgement. i’ve seen both. i’ve been both. the former is always better.

the other day, out of nowhere, a coworker let me know that he sees it. he called them the “lonely hours.” he said he sees the “lonely hours” i put in and that years from now i will be grateful that i put in that work. to me, it was just another day in my routine, chopping away, putting in the same work that i always do, disregarding who was there to witness it or otherwise. while this guy won’t directly have an effect on my overall success, i can to assume that if he notices it, then others do too. i’m able to provide this input because he decided to bring this up to me, but had he decided not to voice his observations to me, i still would have been working and he still would have seen it. so i’m telling you that they see it. though not everyone will make it known, just know in the back of your mind that “they” do indeed notice.

keep putting in that honest work and they will notice.


control and peace of mind

week two of spring training has concluded and I’ve found a routine that I’ve really become rather fond of. 4 hours of quality film study, field work, and weight training followed by another hour in the sauna and recovery pool. by the time I leave the facility I feel like new man. unfortunately that only lasts for a few hours, then comes the all too familiar soreness. I love it. there was a little wrinkle in this week though. the 2017 NFL draft. that event always brings back memories of a very humbling draft for myself back in 2015, but thats neither here nor there. In the next few weeks the new rookies will be arriving at the facility hungry and ready to take someones job. bring on the speculators.
we drafted two receivers in the early rounds of the draft this year, and like clock work, i had text messages from people asking why we were piling on receivers. tweets from people predicting my future as a result of the draft. my rookie year, I might have started freaking out, but I’ve been through this before and made it out alive. regardless of any changes that the organization makes, how I work and prepare myself remains consistent. whatever the outcome, it won’t be because I didn’t leave it all out on the field and give myself the best shot. I know that as a cold hard fact. I’ve caught passes in the NFL, I’ve made tackles in the NFL, I’ve made game changing plays in the NFL, and I’ve scored in the NFL. I know I can play with the best. the rest is out of my control and I’ve finally come to realize that, and as a result, I can focus on whats important and really have a peace of mind. these guys we drafted are good and can help the team get where we need to be, and as a third year player I’ll do anything to help them along in the process. I know the day will come where I won’t be playing professional ball, but rest assured I’m going to make it hard on them to get rid of me.
the principle of controlling what you can control and letting everything else happen is something I’ve found is critical in mindfulness and quality of life. I’ve come to believe that the world doesn’t happen to you, it conspires with you, so long as you put yourself in the best position you can. if I was forced out of the game today, i would be able to leave with no regrets and a peace of mind, and I’m okay with that.
control what you can control

Day 1: San Carlos de Bariloche

I woke up at 8am this morning and ran down to Le Pain, my favorite coffee shop in Buenos Aires, for one more cappuccino and Eggs Benedict before my 12:45 flight to the beautiful San Carlos de Bariloche. All day yesterday I was really stressing out about traveling within South America because of the language barrier and the difficulty that might cause in getting to my flight on time, and I get really nervous on airplanes, even more nervous when I’m flying in unfamiliar territory, and even more so when I’m flying into mountain, oh boy. Nonetheless, worrying time was over, as check-out time at my Airbnb was upon me, and the time to avoid uncomfortable situations was over. I called an Uber (what a lifesaver that company is) and took a ride down the Avenida to BUE domestic airport. I hopped out, grabbed my bags and headed to the ticket counter. Checking my bags was easy money, it cost me 180 pesos (roughly 11 bucks, wayyyy cheaper than in the US) and I was off to my gate. At this point I’m thinking “wow this is going way more smooth than I thought it would.” I spoke to soon. I arrive at my gate with news that my flight is delayed and they had no information on why, only that they would let us know in 30 minutes what the update was. That 30 minutes turned into 50 minutes and then we were boarding. At this point I’m already thinking the delay was a sign from the powers above not to risk my life on this plane, but something keeps me walking to the gate. I go through the gate and down some steps onto the actual runway, where we get on a shuttle that takes us to our plane, a bit unorthodox and more signs to stop fucking walking to this plane, but I keep moving. I purchased a window seat, but as I come up to row 15, my row, I see toddler jumping around in my window seat. I didn’t even want to attempt the Spanish it was going to take to tell the lady to move her child so I bit the bullet and sat in the available seat. No biggie.

It’s minutes before take off and I’m really freaking out now because I’m only really nervous during two parts of a flight, the take off, and the landing, in between I usually sleep like a baby. Anyway, my unreasonable fear subsides and we take off for Bariloche. A couple hours later, the pilot comes on over the loud speaker and lets us know that we are making our descent into Bariloche and that we would be landing in 20 minutes. I am so relieved at this point. The flight was smooth for the most part and I’m starting to believe my unreasonable worries are going to be proven false once again. That is, until the plane almost falls out of the sky. Now, I realize my sensitivity to flights could make my description of what one would call just a bumpy landing seem exaggerated, but I promise you, who ever is reading this, that I really thought it was over. The pilot took a nose dive for the runway, and the different air pressures we were traveling through made the plane jump so dramatically that the lights flickered. My heart was beating so fast and I was about to lose it. My biggest problem was that the little kid who stole my seat and his mommy are laughing like everything’s ok. Clearly I’m alone. Thats fine. Thankfully, we landed safely and I grabbed a taxi and was off to my Airbnb.

Besides the taxi driver driving like it was just him and nobody else on the road, the process was smooth. I was at my new home, and I was surrounded by beauty. I felt great. I walked in the door, went grab my phone to let my people know I arrived safe, and you guessed it, I left my phone in the taxi. What a day. I had hope he would notice it and bring it back, but I’m sure its in the hands of some lucky local searching for customers to pawn off his new find. Oh well.

With today’s travel, I learned a few lessons. One is that fear isn’t real. Most of the time its an unreasonable outcome that you have formulated based off of no supporting evidence, that only seems important because you think about it so much. The quote by Mark Twain never seemed so appropriate than on this day, “I am an old man and I have known a great many of troubles, but most of them never happened.” The other lesson is that you can always fall victim of short-comings or turn it into an advantage. I lost my phone, but now I get to spend more time focusing on this beautiful nature surrounding me, and blogging, instead of scrolling down timelines.



Social Media: Take with Caution

The thought of being productive consistently throughout a day is attractive. But to actually execute is quite difficult — at least for me — especially with all the distractions we have access to these days. I was talking with one of my good friends the other day and he was telling me about how he had completely done away with social media. Now, he never was a big user of any of the social media outlets, so getting rid of them wasn’t a big deal. For someone like me, who uses it pretty regularly like many of me peers, going cold turkey presented a challenge.

Social media is addictive. It’s become so pervasive that it’s second nature. I don’t even think about it when I pull out my phone and tap the app open. With each flick of the thumb and article of content your brain intakes, it releases a spurt of dopamine. Thus, it’s the ultimate source of instant gratification and is certainly an easy, cheap form of entertainment. But think about it, people spend a good chunk of their day on somebody else’s time, continuously refreshing the page looking for the next dose of their mobile drug. What would your day look like if you weren’t so tempted to be on social media? What would you fill that void with? I valued the advice that my friend gave, so I decided to try it.

I deleted Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, and Facebook from my phone (though I retained the accounts, I merely excised the app from my phone). It is honestly one of the better things I’ve done for myself from a production standpoint.

Because I didn’t have access to social media anymore, in order to avoid dying of boredom, I was forced to find other avenues of entertainment. It’s amazing the different ways you will stay active when you aren’t mindlessly scrolling through Twitter. I found myself finishing a book I had previously taken months just to get a few pages into. I took my dog for a hike and worked on my photography. Those are activities that improved the quality of my life; that I wasn’t taking advantage of previously because I was always distracted with getting my fix of social media. I was now forced to get creative with my time and as a result, my time outside of my full-time job was spent improving who I am as an individual.

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking time to unwind after a long day, sitting on the couch and watching your favorite show. Leisure time is invaluable and a necessity. But there’s a fine line between leisure activities to unwind, and living on Instagram. What you will come to realize is that the productivity you gain from getting off of social media is different than work. You find ways to fill your leisure time with more productive activities because you can’t fall back on cheap entertainment. Sunday through Friday, social media does not exist on my phone and it has done wonders for me. I probably wouldn’t be writing this article if I had not taken this step. You will not be disappointed.

Here are some things I saw instead of a news feed: