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March 11 2016

Being Engaged by Summer Walker

I once stumbled upon an article that a friend had shared the link to on Facebook.  It’s called “I should be Engaged” – which caught my eye particularly because the friend who had shared it is quite young.  Why in the world is she thinking she should be engaged right now, and yet she hasn’t even finished high school?
So naturally, I quickly clicked on the link to read it – and I absolutely could not get enough of it.  In short, this young woman, E. Corinne Rogero, writes about how she feels she should be more “engaged” in life.  Not in the marital sense, as she says, “I’m as single as a slice of American cheese right now, which is perfect for me and I prefer it that way.”  Instead, she means “engaged” in the sense that she is “mindful of the people and surroundings and culture” around her. Check out her article [here ].

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Most people have the tendency to associate the word “engaged” with having agreed to marry someone.  However, everyone should be as excited about being “engaged” with your own life as people are when they get “engaged” to their significant other.  One should be engaged with oneself and their own life before anything, as it is important to get back to the roots of what “engaged” really means.  “Engaged” is the idea of being occupied, involved, interested, or paying attention to something.  When our lives become busy and crammed with our lengthy lists of things to do (which seems to be quite often), it is difficult to focus on being “engaged.”  We are often so caught up in our everyday routines that it may seem scary, time consuming, or uncomfortable to veer from them.  When we do have some free time, the mentality that “doing nothing is unproductive” and “I need to be doing something” may overcome us.  This is not healthy, and instead, let us try to be more engaged in our lives.

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People often stress the importance about “living in the present” and “being in the now,” but do we really do this? Oftentimes, people claim they are “engaged” within their lives through ways that may not necessarily be truly engaging.  For instance, “eddiction” is an addiction to electronic devices, and people with “eddiction” prefer to spend time browsing the Internet and social media instead of actual social interaction.  Some think that constantly checking their phones and keeping up with people on their social media platforms keeps them “caught up” with people and “engaged” in their lives – but in reality, it is all just behind a tiny screen.  Are you really engaging with people through the consumption of social media?

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Being “engaged” can help with a healthier, more lively you.  It can help you inspire others, as well as connect to confidence within your life’s actions and obstacles.  Here are a few ways to feel more alive, engaged, and connected with your life and others:
Meditate – to focus and think deeply.  Meditation has helped me feel more engaged in daily life, as it allows me to connect with myself, de-stress, and relax so I can think less about the worrisome small details that oftentimes pop up.  For a project I did last year, we were instructed to do something for ten days that we do not normally do, and reflect on how it affected you.  I forced myself to wake up half an hour earlier each morning and meditate – and it helped me immensely.  I felt more relaxed and able to focus on life’s occurrences, rather than race to the finish line of my to-do lists.  Yoga is also a great alternative for or addition to meditation.

Watch TV – not what it sounds like!  Watch the news, classic movies, or popular shows to start stimulating conversations with people.  Be in the know of what’s going on in the world, so you can ultimately engage with others over new topics.

Be spontaneous – do not always do everything that is comfortable for you.  Take spontaneous new opportunities, explore new passions!  Learn a new language to be engaged with others, and learn about other cultures.  Experiment and try new things.  Go on that hike that you have always wanted to try.  Join new clubs or organizations, even if you may not be sure what they are entirely about. I was always afraid of trying hot yoga, but I am glad that my spontaneous self eventually did.  You might find new passions!  Engage with the “do one thing a day that scares you” mentality.

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Volunteer – get some friends together, or take initiative on your own.  Volunteering is a great way to connect with others in the community, while also making a helpful difference.  Head over to the local soup kitchen, animal shelter, or partake in community betterment and outreach projects!  Volunteering with children is also a great way to feel more engaged and alive, because sometimes we need to play with and act like children too.  For example, volunteering at the nearby elementary school and reading to children is a fun way to do this!

“Listen more, talk less” mentality – try to listen to people more, rather than always feel the need to put your two cents in.  This mentality will allow you to understand new viewpoints, really listen to what people are saying, and show respect to others.

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These are only a few ways to become more engaged with yourself and with others.  Laugh often, read books that interest you and challenge your thoughts, listen to good music – all of these things will allow you to be more mindful of your surroundings, peers, and your own passions.  Rid yourself of the mindset that being “engaged” with people can be taken care of by short passing-by conversations, or “keeping up” with them on social media, because you are only cheating yourself.  Author Sherry Lee Heeb says, “Until we’re fully engaged in life, we can’t reach our full potential.”  Paul TP Wong says, “The best way to value your life and live fully is to be engaged in what really matters to you without worrying about the approval of others.”  And finally, Shefali Tsabary says, “Life is to be experienced, not fought against, run from, or engaged halfheartedly.”
Meet Summer:

Summer

About Summer Walker

Hi, I’m Summer! Sophomore at UC Berkeley, majoring in Psychology. Newport Beach, CA born and raised – but fun fact: I wasn’t born in the summer! Huge food fanatic – especially for mint chip ice cream, dark chocolate, and mac n cheese. Find me either reading, adventuring to new places, watching Grey’s, or laughing a lot – laughing is a great way to tone your abs!

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