During my last two years of college in Washington, D.C., I wallowed in an endless cycle of mental anguish and misery.
I traveled around the city on a bike because I’d sold my car for $400 so I could eat.
I heated my daily can of corn on a hot plate I’d bought. I ate boxes of Ritz crackers or saltines for the school year. Most of the time, I had less than $5 to my name.
I’d already ruined my credit, was in financial debt, and sometimes could not rent an apartment – even a room.
Between apartment rentals, there would be one or two nights of sleeping in my car in very well-lit sections of town.
Riding back and forth from where I lived, to my job at Dupont Circle, to school at George Washington University, and then to my Capitol Hill internship gave me ample time to observe shifts in the physical landscape.
It didn’t take long for me to also pick up on shifts in what you might call the mental landscape.
When I was growing up, my mother often said, “It’s nice to see how the other half lives.”
She thought it beneficial to take note of experiences that were unlike her own—and she encouraged her kids to do the same.
While riding my bike those two years in D.C., riding between different worlds, I definitely saw how the other half lived.
In one world, there was ample access to nutritious foods and to resources like health and exercise facilities. Amidst the well-tended landscaping, people appeared productive and, just as importantly, full of hope.
The world where I rented a room at 12th and T Street NW was a food desert. It was populated with liquor stores, corner stores, payphones, and potholes, and the only physical landscaping was weeds growing through the cracks in the sidewalks. Hopeful-looking people were in short supply.
Of course, you can’t always judge someone’s disposition or state of mind by their appearance; but from people’s faces and the way they held their bodies, it seemed to me that optimism was lacking in the world close to my rented room.
What world do you live in?
What’s the mindset in that world?
Does it match up with the world you want to inhabit?
Where do you see opportunities to shift or expand your thinking so that you might set yourself up to be part of the world you want for yourself?
“Take note of experiences that are unlike your own. If they appeal to your sense of accomplishment and well-being, try to incorporate them into the world you want for yourself.” ~ LaurieTALKS