Sunday, December 16, 2012

New Music!

Brandy and I did a cover of "Put Your Records On," by Corinne Bailey Rae! Check it out!

Music is a Gift

There was a long time during this semester that I forgot what I was aiming for in life. Sure, I went through the motions and learned everything I needed to, but I didn't feel passionate about any of it. The whole choral vs instrumental debate sort of helped to busy my life up and make things a little more difficult, but it ended up being a long haul.

Towards the end of the semester, I started to realize that I really have a gift for music, and I'd been overlooking that. I'd underestimated all the compliments and, "Great job last night at that concert," comments and forgotten that I was actually a pretty great musician. I went through Surround Sound's first real paid show, an awesome jazz combo concert, great gigs with Brandy, choral concerts, and even Madrigals, and still didn't realize that I was really good at (and getting paid for...) a lot of musical things.

When Brandy and I played a gig at East West Brewhouse earlier this semester, a lady came up during our break and complimented a song she knew well (More Than Words - Extreme), and introduced herself as working for a record label and a radio station. She took our information, and started passing us up through the line to see if it would go anywhere. How. Freakin'. Cool? And yeah, it was kind of just another day. Play some songs well, get paid some money, go home. I really hardly thought anything of it, but it's sort of a big deal. 

 It really didn't hit me until I read a paper that Dr. Guenther shared with me by one of his students who attended the Honors Recital. She had to attend a concert on campus for the class and went there. She talked about clarinets, pianos, and trumpets but said her favorite performer was me. "Every high note sang and note seemed perfect." It was an inspiring performance to at least one person in the audience, and I never would have known had Dr. G not said something. Turns out she had played flute in high school and didn't have time for band in college, but felt inspired to play again.

The point is...what I do is moving. It's emotional: it's inspiring. It's a beautiful art that I took for granted for a long time and turned into a simple exercise of "practice this passage, practice this technique, breathe this, louder here, more vibrato, speed up, slow down." It's a beautiful thing. It's a gift that I have to share with the world. Whether I end up teaching and trying to inspire other people to share their gift with the world, or if I end up finding some random break and playing guitar the rest of my life, I'm going to share music with the world.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hope for the World

I know it's been a long time since I posted, but now that I'm back at school, life is as busy as ever. Since school started up, I've had a lot of things I wanted to write about, but just never got around to. For starters, here's one:

Brandy, Andrew, and I performed at the acoustic cafe last night on campus. For those of you who don't know, it's set up on a small stage in an intimate sort of venue with a small sound system and you can get up and sing basically whatever you want. Most everyone brings a guitar and sings along with it. Being that we all sing and guitar is still a huge part of my life, we've all meant to do something together forever.

I had really missed performing with Andrew. As I write this, it's been almost a year since we last practiced with Blue Silence. We performed "Flying Away," that I wrote and we always played with that band, and it reminded me how much I missed making music with that group.

I think, though, that the most striking part of the evening was that there were so many people who were incredibly talented at singing and playing guitar, but there were plenty of people who just did it for fun and got up there to have a good time.

At the same time, it was a great way for people to get songs they've written out to the world and express their feelings, whatever they may be.

All in all, it gives me hope for the world that we can all get up in front of a crowd of our peers, prepared or not, or as a great performer or not, and we can express ourselves without being worried or afraid to.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

College: Year 2

Tomorrow, I move back to Ashland and start my second year of college. I had a great experience last year and I'm really excited to get back to school, but it's ultimately become bittersweet, because I realized just how many people I'm going to miss this year.

This summer has been such a great growing experience for me. All the time I've spent with Tim and Emily in community band and the Annie Pit have reminded me how much I love to perform. How much instrumental music means to me. Randomly discussing composers and theory, learning the beginning stages of conducting and talking about history has kept my fire burning and kept me learning, while still recharging my batteries and getting me ready for school. I'm going to miss hanging out in Applebee's, judging people we went to high school with, nerding out over music, and having a great time. If you'd asked me four years ago if Tim Wolf and Emily DeVincent would be two of the closest people to me, I wouldn't have known what to say. I wouldn't have been able to see myself growing up enough to appreciate how I live my life now. You two are probably some of the best influences and friends I've met, and I love you to death. This summer--even my life and appreciation of music and performance would't be the same without you.

Growing apart from some people and closer to others has begun to show me how much I've grown since I left for school. I've begun to develop more logical processes to study and absorb material, I've begun to analyze and understand things at a higher level. But I've grown up a lot and understand the important parts of life. I know that I can put myself through anything and I'll make it out alright.

Honestly, I've begun to understand that leading a truly rich life means being open-minded. That means listening to new music. Trying new instruments, styles, techniques. For example, who would have thought I would love singing as much as I do now? If it weren't for Andrew suggesting I give choir a shot, I wouldn't have joined Surround Sound, I wouldn't be considering a choral major, and I wouldn't have had half the experiences I did this year. I wouldn't have met Brandy Kay, I wouldn't be writing and arranging choral music, I wouldn't have visited Canada, or met half the people I did. Whether I ultimately decide to switch to vocal music or stay with instrumental, it's opened my eyes to an entire world that I never understood before. I've barely scraped the surface, and it's incredible how much there is that I have to learn.

All of this change, understanding, and learning happens with an open mind. I have to remind myself to be open to new things all the time, because it's not always easy. But it's so worth it. I've learned so much, and I'm so excited to be back. I know there are lots of people I'll miss, but I can' wait to learn all that I possibly can this year. I'm ready for the challenge--drumline, Chamber Singers, Surround Sound...it's gonna be a great year.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing: Music & Creativity Today


Writing

Recently, I’ve had a terrible time writing music. I’ve constantly felt distracted, and it’s become really clear recently that it takes total concentration to be creative. It really takes sitting down someplace totally secluded and just letting out a lot of feeling. I guess after having taken a break from putting my whole self into whatever music I wrote, I forgot that it really means being alone. Nobody around—nothing around. A guitar, or a piano, or whatever I’m writing, and myself. Maybe a notebook and a pen…a tape recorder or something to remember those perfect moments of spontaneity, but that’s it. No phones—no iPods, laptops, nobody around you to make you feel self-conscious of what you’re doing. Just total immersion in whatever you’re trying to do.
If you’re sitting there worried about what your neighbor next door is thinking of the guitar being too loud, or a family member thinking what you’re doing is too weird, or what you’re going to make for dinner, or what you’re doing next week, you can’t possibly extract the emotion from yourself and be happy with what you write. If you’re worrying about all of those things while you try to write and express yourself, your art, your music, your poetry—whatever you’re doing is going to be filtered by all the other things going on.
To that extent in today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to sit down and truly express yourself. Our era of instant communication leaves us and our smartphones/iDevices to be constantly connected to the rest of the world. To have Facebook, Twitter, texting and everything in the palm of our hand whenever we want it leaves us tethered to it even when we don’t want it all the time. Sure, a lot of the time, you can turn off your phone, but so many people get overly offended that you don’t answer their calls that it’s crazy. We’re all addicted to instant communication. We constantly feel obligated to be there all the time—every second of every day.
It’s healthy to turn your phone off. Leave it upstairs and go downstairs with your three best friends and make music for a few hours. Sit down and read a new piece of music. Put your headphones on and listen to somebody new. Stumbleupon something amazing that inspires you to do something new. Spend a little time alone—in a room, not listening for the phone, or the dogs, or your spouse, and just express your emotion. If that’s beating drum head with a stick until you come up with the new beat to back your guitar player’s riff or if it’s experimenting with chord progressions, lyrics, melodies, new voicings…shut the door, put the world on hold, and let loose your emotion—let every bit of pure, raw feeling out in your art.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Maturity: Prejudice, Gossip, Professionalism

It's never been easy for me to deal with conflict. In a lot of ways, I am stubborn, but I try my best to listen to what people have to say when they have some sort of valid opinion to make. In that way, I like to think that I'm open-minded. And I think open-mindedness is crucial to disagreeing and solving issues. It's really the only way to be truly pragmatic.

It's impossible to sit down and reason with someone who won't listen in the slightest. Stubbornness can completely cut off any form of problem-solving before it can even start. And honestly, that frustrates me. There are plenty of people in my life that cannot listen to any sort of reason and cannot listen to an opinion that isn't their own. They're the people who do nothing but get defensive about any form of conflict and have to be right in the end, and these are the people that I'm beyond puzzled as to how to deal with.

For some further understanding, "your," and "you," refer to stubborn people who don't listen. There's no one person that I'm writing about, no matter how much an individual reader might think so. This is about a lot of people in my life who all act almost exactly the same.

First of all, because of your unwavering opinions, it's impossible to have any sort of true compromise. Sure, you can walk all over me and shove your opinion down my throat, but just living with that and ignoring the fact that I'm going to resent you for what you do and myself for not standing up for myself at the end of the day is going to make us both insane.

Second, it becomes impossible to not be in conflict with you. Even being understanding and trying to listen to you won't help. In a lot of cases, it makes you even more defensive by just agreeing with you and listening to what you say. Giving you what you want doesn't even make you happy. From that perspective, maybe your attitude towards life is about attention and causing conflict. Perhaps that's all you want. If so, I really don't know how to treat you like you're an adult.

The rest of this post is about gossip. I was looking for a quote about gossip that I couldn't remember and came across two that really spoke to me. I'll save the other one for later.

What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth. -- Jewish Proverb


Translation: don't gossip. If there's one thing I learned from Mrs. Reardon (other than to be accepting and live without serious prejudice, which I spoke enough about in the past), it was her unwavering stance on not gossiping. She was the first person to really put it into words. She believed that before you tell a story, you should ask all the people involved if they don't mind you sharing it, and make sure that they know what you're going to be spreading around. Best case scenario? Directly quote someone. Don't paraphrase. Even then, our storytelling can't convey all details of how something was said, or what was meant by it. Even when we fully witness an event and take a serious hand in it, we don't always understand every bit of it. We're bound to come off as biased in our telling of a story because we only truly have one perspective.

Gossip honestly hurts everybody involved. Consider that you spread a rumor around that a friend of yours told you was the truth. It turns out it was an enormous lie and all it did was hurt another friend of yours's reputation. Sure, the truth comes out eventually, but does it matter at that point?

It's ridiculous to me that we are all now 19+ years old and we still haven't figured out how to keep our noses out of everybody's business. It's impossible for everybody to separate their personal and professional lives, allowing them to casually blend together into an inappropriate attitude towards their career and an overly serious attitude towards their close friends.

The thing is...most people just don't care. They aren't worried about being a professional to their peers in their degree program. They don't worry about the fact that everybody around them gossips to the point that rumors spread like the plague. They just do ridiculous things, digitally photo-document it on Facebook, and expect the world to not worry about it.

Some of us are in a position that we have to be leaders to the people around us, even though those people don't take things seriously. Even if those people don't respect you because they hear rumors. We have to lead them and tell them what to do sometimes, even though they don't listen. In some ways, I wonder how it's possible to have control over a group of people that you have to lead. Is it really possible to have friends and be in control of them? Is it really possible to control a group that can't respect you because rumors spread? How is the truth supposed to matter when all people listen to is gossip? How can we do our jobs when the majority of people are closed-minded and ignorant to the truth?

The short answer is that a lot of people need to do a lot of growing up. It takes understanding to deal with conflict. It takes some work and some though to keep our personal and professional lives separate, but it isn't even remotely difficult. It takes a little bit of respect and a little thought. Some emotional maturity and listening. But it's not impossible for us to not spread rumors and be ridiculous about the fact that not a single one of us is perfect and our personal lives don't reflect our attitude as a professional. 


That's about it for my rant. I leave you all with the most thought-provoking and enlightening quote I found:


If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. -- Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fortune Favors the Bold

It takes some work to get yourself out there and go for things that you want. It isn't always easy to get noticed for your hard work and to be recognized as the person who would be best for a job. Honestly, when you make mistakes, it's even harder to prove yourself because there are plenty of people who will focus on one thing you did wrong and let every other redeeming quality go unnoticed.

I'm not saying that I give a perfectly unbiased opinion all the time. When people make serious mistakes, I think they should be held accountable. But I really like to give people more credit and usually more respect than they always deserve. In general, there's a good reason for somebody's mistake or slip-up.

I really respect the people in my life (both my peers and teachers) who can let go of failures. I'm here to tell you that I've slept through alarms and missed classes before. I'm nowhere near perfect, and the first impression that some people got of me was that I didn't do work and was lazy--that I didn't care. Anybody who truly knows me knows that I hate unpreparedness, I'm almost always early to everything, and I hate not doing work. I need a list and a plan, and there's no way around that most of the time. If you've taken the time to get to know who I am beneath the surface, you know that I'm not actually that quiet. I have opinions, and they're rather strong most of the time. I'm so incredibly driven to be the best at everything I do, and I won't accept anything but my best all the time. I beat myself up over amazing performances that just aren't my best. I'm not afraid to tell most people how I feel about the majority of things in life, and I've come out of my shell a lot since when a lot of you first met me.

Being that so many people have looked beyond my failures, I can do really great things. From being asked to accompany the University Choir on flute, to being asked to play on the Spring Honors Recital, I've been recognized as a strong player and musician by the music faculty. I get requests to play in pits and orchestras for local productions all the time. I'm always asking to do something new, and I love pushing myself into things that I'm not comfortable with now.

For instance, coming into college, there's no way that I would have been comfortable singing for anyone, much less in public, but just joining choir and Surround Sound has taught me so much about choral music and has led me to consider a vocal ed major rather than instrumental a lot of the time. I'm honestly still considering it, and to anybody reading this who has an advice, please tell me how you feel about it.

My peers generally recognize this too, as they just elected me as the new Student Director of Surround Sound, essentially leading the group in musical aspects. I can't describe how excited I am to be able to lead a group and make great music. It's going to be an incredible experience.

I guess the point of this blog is that...it doesn't take that much to put yourself out there to be noticed. It really isn't difficult to set yourself apart from other people and be the person that people want to work for them. All these opportunities have really encouraged me about life and I feel pretty good about my growth. I know that I it isn't that hard for me to go out there and try for things, and sometimes, that little bit of effort is all it takes to find something amazing.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Professionalism

There are a lot of people I go to school with that are professional. From the standpoint of the music department, they're the people who don't text through their rehearsals and screw around and blatantly act like a fool in front of the people who hold their future in their hands. That's at least the bare minimum of professionalism.

But those people who get out there and learn their music better than anyone else are the ones who know what it takes to be great. There are plenty of us who just learn things until they're right. Practice really is just beginning when you get the notes down correctly. Practice is about learning it right and then doing it right in repetition until you can't do it wrong. Even then, mistakes are bound to happen.

There are also plenty of people who show up to performances with no time to warm up or be truly prepared. It takes me plenty of warm up and time for mental preparation to feel like I'm ready to go out and give a good performance. It takes me a solid 20 minutes most of the time to warm up and get "in the zone" sometimes, but how can you expect to just show up and wing it?

It bothers me to no end when people just blow off their responsibilities to an ensemble. When they refuse to focus and text for whatever reason it may be. I think the worst thing about these people is when I see music majors who just don't care for their ensemble at all. It's crazy that you'd blow off an ensemble that you want to teach one day. Yeah, I understand that if you have given excused absences and it's approaching finals and that's  your best time to study, maybe you need to. Yeah, things come up. There's just no excuse for talking and texting in band or choir or anything like that. It's rude to your director, to all of your peers, and you're not going to learn anything, my friends. Why do it?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Change: Life, The Future; What am I doing?

I'm pretty seriously considering changing majors. I'm still sure I want to stick with music, but I'm not entirely sure what I want to do. I really need to sit down and talk to some people and figure out what my options are.

Throughout the last year and semester, I've been considering switching to a vocal ed major. I've learned so much in choir and enjoy learning about choral music so much more than band. The experience that choir has given me is incredible, and I feel like I'm learning at an incredible rate, and it really has awakened a new passion for choral music.

At the same time, I still feel like teaching college would be a good option for me. I haven't closed the door on double majoring in Theory and Performance, then going on to get a masters and doctorate in music and teaching college, but after all the talking and preparing and thinking about teaching high school, I'm not sure what I should do anymore.

I've constantly said that getting a theory or performance degree is pointless. I naively thought that everyone should pursue an ed degree because you take essentially the same classes but you get licensed to teach and have a modicum of job security when you graduate. You can pursue a performance career without a music degree, as well as going on doing graduate level work to teach theory.

The thing is, I don't have time to do all the things I want to in school. There isn't time for me to take all my music classes, take all more cores, and be in Wind Ensemble/Concert/Marching Band, Choir, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Chamber Singers, voice lessons, comp lessons, and smaller ensembles. To pursue an ed degree and graduate in four years, while not limiting my musical learning and experiences in ensembles and lessons, (and getting a reasonable amount of sleep every night), I'm going to have to take cores over the summer anyway.

Switching to a Theory/Performance major, I can eliminate the ed classes and take all music classes at AU during fall and spring semesters, while taking online/hybrid summer classes to knock out my cores. This not only is going to allow me to focus on music all year, but it will free up my schedule and let me keep working hard and learning more musically. I can take secondary lessons all the time, pursue choral music more seriously, and take musical electives like conducting, for the sake of expanding my musical knowledge.

Whatever happens, cores are hapening over the summer. The only real question left is to switch from ed to Theory/Performance. In the course of my life, this is a really weighted decision, leaving me at a fork of deciding whether or not to teach high school or college. Honestly, I could pursue a performance career with flute. I've gotten to the point that I'm really good and getting better isn't huge technical problems in my playing. Getting better is the little things that make you more musical now: how to breathe perfectly, how to phrase, fine-tuning tone and vibrato and getting better. Yeah. That performance career would require a $10,000 flute. A bit ridiculous, really. But compared to the price of getting a doctorate in theory, is it that bad of an investment? Sure, a performance career would suggest getting a masters in performance. But I'm already learning from the best. I could feasibly be the best if I dedicate my life to it.

I'm at this mental block where I think that what I do is directly influenced by my personality. A teacher is selfless. They're dedicate and almost always seem perfect. They know almost everything in their field and can answer students questions. They help students grow and don't dwell on being the best.

Being a performer means being the best. I think some part of me thinks of professional performers who make careers out of it as cut-throat people who spend 18 hours a day in a practice room. They step on the little people and are jerks. At the same time, almost every music teacher at AU is in Cleveland Orchestra, ASO, Wooster, CJO, or some other professional group. And everybody here is incredible. They're great musicians and incredible teachers who go out of their way to help.

Whatever I do might not be linked to my personality, but I still don't know what I can do, or how I can do it. Regardless, to make a living, it means adding something on the side. Opening up a flute studio to teach from, or composing, or recording, or any number of things to supplement a musician's income.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fortune

It took me until recently to start noticing how absolutely lucky I am. I go to an incredible university and learn more about music and about life every single day; I have an an insanely loving family that supports me in becoming a teacher and a musician, with no absolute certainty that I'll have an easy time after school, amazing friends who are always there, and a beautiful, loving, understanding, and supporting girlfriend.

It amazes me to stop and think about how extensive my support system is. I can pick up the phone and call most of my professors any time that I might need them. These people go out of their way to help and make sure that everything's going well. They have a clear understanding of life, because they've been here before. They know this situation, and they know how we are. They really were students not that long ago, and they have the same passions for music that we do. They also know that life isn't always black and white, and that there are a lot of things that require our attention and distract us from our MacGAMUT assignments and from putting all our time into practicing, or preparing a score to rehearse, or learning all those duets perfectly. At times, some of us can be learning three or four instruments at a time and obviously we can't spend four hours in a practice room every night. Choices have to be made, and these people know that. They understand. They're human. And they care about us and want us to succeed.

Aside from being able to work with people at the university, I've made a ridiculous amount of friends outside school that I can always ask for help. I know that I can always drop in on my high school band directors and say "Hey, what on God's green earth is ____," and they'll help me. It's just the kind of bond you grow with people you work with for four years. They're incredible people and always push me to be my best and to do what I want.

My family is always a phone call away. They can grab something I forgot and bring it to me, or come have lunch and talk with me, and they can always make it to my concerts and recitals to support me, which is more than amazing.

I guess I just never stopped and thought about how much people in my life care about me. Everyone wants to help and support and make my life better. They all understand this growing process and that I'm still discovering myself, my path, and my future. They're here for the best and worst of times and they're all awesome people. Sometimes I forget how real my teachers can be. The person you talk to in the front of a classroom teaching you about neighbor 6/4s or clarinet reeds, or Mozart, isn't the exact same person who goes home to a family at night, or who can talk to you about your future and how to get to where you want to be. These are all real people.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Author Unknown


I can't really explain why, but this is really speaking to me right now. I figured I share.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Inspiration, Music

Since I became interested in popular music in high school and joined or started plenty of bands, so many changes have happened in my personal style and understanding of how music works. I've learned an insane amount about playing guitar, and about what sorts of things sound good to my ear. I've gone from playing simple "power" chords and not understanding how to form a barre chord to playing guitar in several of my college jazz ensembles. Regardless, all of my change as a musician didn't happen overnight. I didn't wake up one morning knowing how to form seventh chords and feeling like I could express myself through guitar. I started out by listening to other people play the guitar and trying to emulate every intricate detail of what they did so that I could add their technique, style and licks to my internal mental repertoire. Even today, I enjoy sitting own and studying a player to learn what they do. While my other studies limit how much of this I can do, I like to incorporate what other people do into how I play.

Throughout high school, the bands I had been in followed a variety of goals and styles. The Order started out as a "hard rock," band playing plenty of original music as well as covers. We had a somewhat stereotypical "loud" sound, featuring lots and lots of distortion. The band eventually split into a few other groups, which became The Sun Stands Still, which at first played "metal," and The Unsung Heroes, which went from a family jam band to an alternative/country/rock band. We've quite literally covered everything from Radiohead to Big & Rich, while writing in our own style, featuring plenty of intricate progressions and good, fun and emotional music. Since then, The Sun Stands still has become more of an "indie/alt" band that has a very distinct sound. In that band, I now play drums and some backup guitar on songs that require it, expanding my own musical boundaries even further.

Even throughout the course of one band, we've sampled a plethora of styles. Personally, a lot of this has come from the inspiration of the people around me. Even as I listen to this, I'm listening to a mix of my own bands' music and local bands from around home. All of these groups around me that I've seen grow as I have have inspired me to push the musicality of my writing, from simple chords to more intricate partwriting and music. All of these groups have pushed their musicality, tonally and stylistically, as well as how they perform and play off of one another. So many groups have incorporated emotionally expressive dynamics and make their music literally tell as much of a story as their lyrics do.

Since I've come to school, I've seen even more groups perform that have encouraged me to do more musically. Take 6, a contemporary a cappella group inspired me to join Surround Sound, or on-campus a cappella group. Seeing people like Patrick Droney and Chris Cauley perform on campus have inspired me to write more music and seek out vocalists for "acoustic" gigs and re-work some of my and my bands' music to work in different settings.

There's so much incredible music that we've come up with that I want so desperately to get on a stage with a guitar and a microphone and share the beautiful message of everything that we've written. Share my story and be an inspiration to someone else, so that they too could have a revelation that they love an instrument and want to play it.

As much as all this popular music has been inspiring, fellow students and even faculty have been inspiring to me. I love being a member of my jazz orchestra and combo at school. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the strongest player, because I haven't honestly played jazz for that long, but sitting in our rehearsals and performances and hearing Aaron bust out an incredible drum solo, or Trent play a solo, or even listening to Scott improvise or play lead, can be so awesome to hear and see.

I want to dedicate all of my life to this amazing thing that I am so lucky to spend my time doing. It might frustrate me a lot. At times, it's nearly impossible to keep playing and work through how annoying a lick can be. At the end of the day, I improve. I become a stronger person because I can express myself in music, and I become a better musician because I learn more every day. I love everything about what I do, no matter how painful the experience sometimes is. All of it is a growing experience, and I always learn from it. Music is everything that I do.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


My wonderful girlfriend, Brandy Kay Riha, wrote this song for me for Christmas :) So we recorded it and put it up on the YouTewbs :)


Perspective

It took me until fairly recently to realize that perspective is absolutely everything to a conversation. In my psychology class, we've recently talked about how teens interpret the emotions that they see on faces. In most cases, they would see anger where an adult would usually interpret the face as fear. On a whole, teens didn't comprehend the full spectrum of emotions and couldn't see exactly what was meant.

None of this really sunk in until I started noticing how important perspective is to things around me. For example, a friend of mine was late to class once recently. He was running from his room to be on time to everything and had a ridiculously busy day ahead of him. He hadn't slept much and was frustrated. When the professor tried to fill him in on what was going on, and he got snappy with her. Knowing this friend of mine, I know that he wasn't trying to be disrespectful, but the professor noticeably took it personally. My friend had no idea that anything had happened and put his head down and worked forward on our assignment.

From the professor's standpoint, the student was being disrespectful and she didn't know how to handle it. The student didn't have any idea what was going on. The same thing goes for a lot of situations as I was growing up.

For a long time, I didn't realize how selfish a teenager I was. There are so many situations in my childhood that I didn't realize how wrong I took the things my parents said. In nearly every case, they had my best interest at heart, and now, being able to more fully understand their positions and feelings, everything makes sense. I'm sure a fair amount of this is that "hindsight is 20/20," but I'm fairly sure that in growing up, I've learned to take other peoples' perspective into account. Sure, I'm the first person to tell you that I'm not perfect in the slightest. I know that I can't possibly understand what everyone's feeling or what they'll think about what I have to say. In a lot of cases, I can't begin to comprehend how my words and actions will be taken by others, and there are times that I can't possibly understand them until I get to know the people around me better. That said, having some sort of understanding that it's possible for other people to take things differently can possibly make all the difference in the world.

When parents tell us that it's important to think through things before we say them, it's hard to take it completely to heart because we don't fully comprehend what it is to understand other perspectives until a later point in our psychological development. That said, considering how others feel and understanding their position is incredibly important. I've come to the point that if there is some sort of perspective that I don't understand, that I try to ask questions and understand where they're coming from. On a whole, it makes your relationships much more meaningful and deep.