The Struggle Is Real…Or Is It?

By Jeremy Carden

I’m certain that everyone reading this has either heard or said the phrase “The struggle is real.” Similar to Y.O.L.O. (You only live once), it has become a popular catchphrase of our generation. Typically, it is used to describe some type of hardship being experienced by an individual. However, just like those songs you hear on the radio 24/7…it gets old very fast.

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Now I’m not writing this blog to point fingers at people who say this phrase (because I say it on a daily basis) or to express my annoyance of it. The point of all of this is to ask the question; what does it REALLY mean to say “the struggle is real?”

Whenever it rolls off of your tongue the purpose behind saying it is to express that you recognize a difficult situation that either you or another person is going through. Recently, I’ve been going through some hardships of my own and I’ve found myself saying “the struggle is real” even more often than before.

A few nights ago I sat down and thought about my “struggles.” It wasn’t until I hashed out everything that I realized most of these struggles were self-created.

Take a moment and ask yourself; Am I the reason for most of my struggles?

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While I was mentally listing out my troubles, the phrase “You are your own worst enemy…” kept going through my mind. That makes a lot of sense because I’m one of those people who can be classified as an “over thinker” or a “worrywart.” I’m sure that some of you reading this can relate to me when I say that when you worry about something you can play 20+ worst case scenarios in your head about a situation in 30 seconds. Now if that does not cause a struggle for you mentality then I don’t know what does.

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For those of you who say that the struggle is real when it comes to losing weight, how many of you get off of the couch to take a walk or replace that soda in your hand with a bottle of water?

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To anyone having a difficult time trying to move on from a past relationship, are you still talking to your ex or find yourself looking at their pages on social media sites to keep track of what they are doing?

Our inner demons have a way of bringing out temptation and painful memories to bring us down. The struggle is real after you’ve gotten your heartbroken whem a relationship ends or you step on the scale and the number you see makes you want to breakdown and cry. Just the impossibility of getting into shape or putting the pieces of your heart back together truly makes the hardship of the situation escalate. Of course, these are just a couple of the many struggles people face in their lifetimes.

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Money is one of the primary struggles people use the phrase in reference to. Wanting to buy Frosted Flakes but you have to buy the generic brand instead due to a budget is “a struggle.”

Sometimes in order to overcome these struggles you have to do something about it!

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Want to lose weight? Stop scrolling through Facebook on your computer or sitting in front of your TV screen playing a video game for 5 hours straight! If you can do that then you can certainly manage to exercise for an hour or so a day.

Moving on from a relationship proving to be difficult? Stop pinning over the person who broke your heart! The more you dwell on it…the more painful it becomes. You cannot make room for the right person to come into your life if you are stilling holding onto feelings for the wrong person.

No struggle that we go through in life is impossible to overcome. Despite the difficulty one must face in order to conquer a struggle, it will all pay off in the long run.

If there was one thing that I’d want someone reading this blog to take away it is that “The struggle is real, but so is the reward on the other side.” We have to go through those times of hardship for 2 key reasons:

  1. Going through difficult times (struggles) help us to appreciate the good things in our lives once that period of hardship is over. You don’t truly appreciate something handed to you on the same level you do for something that you’ve earned through hard work and struggle.
  2. Despite the struggle(s) that you are going through at the moment there is something good waiting once it is over.

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Something else that I’ve heard many times is “Once you’ve hit rock bottom there is no reason to give up because that means the only direction that you can go is up!”

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Of course, some realists or Debby Downer would say something sarcastic or technical about how you can go even lower and melt at the center of the earth. All joking aside there is a lot of truth behind that statement. There are some moments in life where everything has to be torn down in order to be built back up again. What’s even better is that sometimes when your life is rebuilt it is even better than it was before. The downside is going through the pain of the struggles that come with that.

So the next time you say that “the struggle is real” just stop and think about whether or not you are the cause of it. The struggles we face are only as real as we make them. Are you spending more time complaining about your struggle or are you spending time doing something in order to overcome it?

 

 

 

 

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Don’t let a part-time job kill your lifelong dream?

by Jeremy Carden

Do you have dreams of flying high but find yourself grounded because your funds are low?

Personally my dream is to be a professional writer because I write short stories, blogs, songs and poems. It would be a dream come true to write a #1 hit on the Billboard Charts or write a book that ends up on the Best Seller List. However, I know that becoming an overnight sensation is nearly impossible. Not to mention overnight sensations more often than not disappear from the spotlight just as quickly as they became famous.

Now I know that it will take time to make my dreams come true. With faith, hard work and the one word almost everyone hates “patience” perhaps the day will come with some of my writing lands at the top. Until that time I have to find a way to make a living. I know a few people who tell me that they wish they could be doing some other career but instead they are stuck doing whatever job they are at for a living.

That has been my biggest fear ever since I started college: to end up working at a dead-end job and look back at my life years later regretting not going for my dream(s). Most of the people I know who feel that way are people who let their dreams die instead of keeping them alive.

What I try to tell myself everyday is that sometimes I’ll have to do something that I do not want to do in order to get to where I want to go. I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now and God has everything under control. That is the main problem that a lot of people have: going crazy over the things in their lives that they cannot control.

It helps to give me spirit remembering that I feel stuck where I am now but I should think of it as a stepping stone to the next chapter of my life. Whatever that next step is remains unknown but I do know that in due time it will be revealed to me.

Hopefully this blog will encourage that fast-food employee, a newly graduated college student working to pay off school loans or a janitor who dreams of bigger things but does not know how to move to the next step. I used to work at a fast-food place before college and let me tell you that I knew college was a good move because I did not want to ever work in a restaurant as long as I live! Looking back I am glad that I did work there because it taught me the importance of taking my time while cooking, maintaining adequate kitchen conditions like keeping the food at the right temperature and it showed me that working hard for something means more than just having it handed to me.

Again everything that we do leads to something else. One of my favorite sayings is the one about how opportunities are usually disguised as hard work. Not too many people these days want to work for something that they want. However, opportunity does not knock on people’s doors like it used to so there are times when we must put in more effort than usual to make things happen.

No matter what happens you must keep your dream alive no matter what it is. There is nothing that can take your hope and spirit away. It all boils down to whether or not you let the flame of your passion burn out. Just remember that part-time job that you are at right now is just a temporary stop on the road before you take off towards your lifelong dream.

 

Can You Truly Be Happy For Others If You Are Not Happy With Yourself?

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We all have that one friend who is successful at ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that they attempt to do. Of course no one is perfect but they are labeled by other people as “Mr. or Little Miss Perfect.” I’m sure a lot of you can relate when I mention how frustrating it is to have something that you work for or something that you try to do fail miserably. Then there are other times when you put your all into something but the results are not coming as quickly as you’d like them to.

There is a saying I think about whenever I begin to show distain for other people becoming successful or getting closer to their goals while I’m still stuck in the same place; “Jealousy comes from counting others’ blessings instead of our own.” That green-eyed monster starts to rear its ugly head whenever I begin to feel trapped just dreaming while other people I know are having their dreams become a reality.

For the past 2 ½ years, I’ve been working to become a professional songwriter; writing over 150 songs, mailing out dozens of letters to artists, spending money on songwriting books and getting my work copyrighted, emailing/calling over 50 potential lawyers for representation so I’ll be prepared whenever I reach my goal because I’ll need professional help, making demos, my own website (http://jccarde5.wix.com/jtunesmusic), Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/JC-Carden-Lyrics/159893560774888) and the list goes on.

However, even with the many contacts that I’ve made through networking there hasn’t been any big ups in my journey so far. The closest thing to success is making contact with a guy who runs a recording studio who will record any song I bring in that has “hit potential.” Honestly, this is a lot better than someone who just wants me to come in and record a song even if it’s horrible just to get my money. That is why I am determined to just use that particular studio. Downside is that I haven’t been able to find reliable people to record demos with; vocalists, other lyricists, people who know about using the necessary equipment or composers.

As you can imagine, I haven’t been in the best of spirits since my dream hasn’t been going so well. The thing that gets to me is that some of my other friends just seem to “fall” into their success or their next step in becoming successful in their dream career. You know what I mean when I say that, those people who do not have to work for anything. They seem to have everything fall right into their lap while you are working your butt off but nothing is happening.

Many people that have made it in whatever career they were pursuing says that the struggle is what made them appreciate their success even more. That is because they know what it is like to start at Square 1 with nothing but their dreams and own ambition. It is not about what you know it’s about who you know. Nothing could be closer to the truth that than statement because I try to remember that in any situation I find myself in.

Patience is the key but it is hard for me to fit that key into the lock of success because of how long I have to wait for something to happen. It is true that most artists and musicians have been working at their craft for most of their lives. For me 2 ½ years ago was when I finally found my passion in life that one thing I wanted to do more than anything for the rest of my days. I’ve been writing for a good portion of my life but it was when I reached the age that I was able to do something about it that changed everything for me. I write songs, short stories, poems and screenplays and it gives me great joy to be able to look at any piece of my finished work. That is because I put myself into my work and that gives me the greatest satisfaction.

Another thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be jealous of another person’s success. In fact, you should rejoice especially if it is someone close like a friend or relative because someone you know that has been working and praying hard has finally achieved something that they’ve been working for. True success comes when you have someone to share that  joy with.

Will I ever reach my dream? That depends as to whether or not it is what God has in store for me but I doubt that He would give me such a heated desire to pursue this dream if it wasn’t meant to happen. My hope is that you too will find that one thing you love doing more than anything else. One thing that we have to remember is that everyone has their own race to run, their own dreams and goals to follow then achieve. No matter who is getting their blessings around you whether it be through hard work or seemingly just handed to them it doesn’t matter. Why? Just knowing that somewhere down the road your blessing is waiting for you as a reward for the hard work you put into that project you are working on right now makes the struggle worth it.

Ever Have One of Those Dreams…

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Where it just seems so real but also too good to be true? I don’t know about you but I’ve had dreams that sometimes “predict” the future. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying I’m psychic or anything like that. I’m just saying that sometimes I’ve had those dreams where something happened and then it happened in real life and I’m thinking “What in the world?!?!”

Anyway, last night I had one of the strangest, sweetest, comforting yet confusing dream that I’ve had in awhile. It kind of goes along with the blog I wrote earlier about your dreams falling on deaf ears. The dream went like this;

I’m lying in bed with my wife and I get up to get into my den and it’s filled with books and awards that I’ve won. I sit in a big chair and I just start crying like a baby for no reason at all. Then my wife comes in and asks me what is wrong. I just tell him that I’m finally happy. After all the hardships, sleepless nights, being turned down for job offers, rejected by crushes and everything I had finally gotten to where I wanted to be.

I had a loving wife (no kids, yet…), my family was doing alright (especially my mom I was financially able to take care of her getting her a new house, car and making sure she never had to work overtime or worry about late bills again), my dreams had come true music/writing wise and I wasn’t worried about anything.

Also, I was reading in some of the old journals that I started writing in from 2012 and 2013 (I started writing in journals August of 2012 to the present and in this dream I was probably late 20s or early 30s). As I was reading those pages, that is when I started tearing up because I would write about staying up late writing song lyrics, the difficulties or successes that God brought me through that day and the list goes on.

Funny part is I could remember nearly every detail from that dream except my wife. I honestly I have no clue who she was or what she looked like. Not sure if it was someone I never met before because if it was a girl I knew, something tells me I’d be able to recall that.

However, the main point I want to get across is that I don’t know what the dream meant. I’m no Daniel or Joseph so I can’t interpret dream unless like them God gives me that ability. The dream could mean that eventually everything that I’ve been working for through faith and determination will finally come to pass, but one thing seems evident; I didn’t get that nice house and everything else because I gave up.

That is my message I want to spread to you; never give up. If anything that dream has inspired me enough to work even harder for my goals! Don’t ignore your dreams, they sometimes tell us more than we expect.

Is Your Dream Falling On Deaf Ears?

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Ever feel like when you express your dreams, goals or desires to people that they aren’t listening or understanding you at all?

I go though that sometimes when telling people that I want to be a writer or more specifically a songwriter. It is like they brush it off like nonverbally saying; “What kind of ridiculous dream is that?”

I remember one time when I told my mom that I wanted to buy a guitar. You know so I could work on melodies myself. And the look she gave me was one that I can never forget. It was a look that said; “What in the world?!”

Prince and Taylor Swift are just a couple of my songwriting and music inspirations. Every knows that Prince is like a “god” of guitar and Swift being a country singer started out when a repair man came to her house and taught her a couple chords to play and the rest is history.

That kind of set me back seeing that she was my main supporter in my writing and then to witness her reaction to my statement just hurt a little on the inside.

Sometimes it does bother me especially after someone ASKS me what my passion/dream/goal is in life.

When your dream falls on deaf ears don’t worry because someday those same people are going to want to listen to what you have to say but it will be too late.

The point of this blog is to let you know how important it is to keep “real people” around you. People who listen and support your dream are the most important people to have at a time when you are building up your dreams. Also remember that the people you interact with help to shape who you are. Be around people who will bring you up and help in some way and also people that you can help by your work ethic or just being a friend.

Its funny how people are “deaf” to your dreams but once you succeed they suddenly get back their hearing because they want to listen to what you have to say and hope to slither in on your success.

Everyone who was present during the struggle deserves to be part of your success in some form or another.

Just remember that when you feel ignored by people when you talk about your dreams.

Big Dreams, Small Bank Account

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Have you ever had an idea, passion, dream or inspiration that gets you up from your seat and make your blood rush? That thing that makes you want to work towards something that could change your life but then it call comes to a screeching halt.

Sometimes I wish my bank account was as big as my dream is. I know I know, work hard/play harder, “seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open” and all of the other saying people say to you when you are feeling discouraged.

Faith is the key to unlocking the door to our dreams. There are many days where I sit around wondering when my big break as a writer is going to take off or why nothing has happened recently to let me know that I’m on the right path or my hard work is paying off.

I will say there is a lot of truth to how one word of encouragement means more than success. When you are feeling down and someone whispers a word to help you press on brings something new to the table. It lets you know that you are not alone in the struggle.

Someday I hope that I eventually write a song that makes it to the radio waves, a screenplay that makes it to the big screen, a book that is a #1 seller or poems that ignite the souls and passions or people everywhere.

With every word I write on paper or type on my computer, I’m one step closer to my dream. Yes, that bank account, bills, school loans and whatnot seem to drag me down but I know I’m in the valley right now. However, pretty soon I know I will come to the other side to reap the fruits of my hard labor!

Keep on going people, keep your dreams alive! 

Fireworks

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A few nights ago I was sitting on some benches outside the Welcome Center on campus and in the distant sky I noticed fireworks were going off. The show lasted for about 15 minutes and I was just sitting there entranced by the wonderful lightshow going on. I then realized that if I made it to the top section of the football stadium I’d be able to get a better view of the fireworks. By the time I made it there, the very last firework exploded and the cool night air blew away the last smoke cloud that remained.

I never did find out why the fireworks were going off in the first place, I assumed that some kind of athletic event was going on or a concert. While I was watching from outside the Welcome Center, I was thinking about how those fireworks reminded me of life.

Fireworks shooting into the sky at top speed and then exploding for everyone to see only for it to fizzle out as it disappears into the sky.

It reminds me of the dreams that I once had. Taking the world by storm by being successful in whatever it was that I did. Trying to get my goals accomplished as fast as I could like a flying firework to finally show everyone what I was capable of with my name flashing in lights across the sky.

Sometimes I feel that is how most of us operate. We want something so bad to prove someone else wrong or to show someone up that we make rash decisions pushing ahead without thinking straight just to have it all blow up in our faces like a firework exploding.

I thought it was funny that when I realized I could get a better view from a higher platform and finally made it there it was too late. That showed me the importance of thinking ahead in order to make sure the best possible outcome was available to me when I needed it.

Take a moment to look at how far you’ve come, where you’ve been and how much more traveling down your chosen path that you have left to continue on. Time may pass by but eventually you will illuminate the sky with your passion like that last firework in a dazzling show!