Shadi Mirza


Why Jordan Peele’s story is universal

Nathan McBride on Unsplash

In case you missed it —which you probably did, as the ratings were pretty low—Jordan Peele won the Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay.” The movie he wrote, Get Out, is a nuanced and intelligent take on racism in the 21st century.

And it almost didn’t get made. In his acceptance speech, Peele said:

“I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible. I thought it wasn’t going to work.”

Think about that for a minute. Academy Award-winner Jordan Peele (we can say that now, and we should) attempted to write the screenplay that would earn him widespread critical acclaim nearly two dozen times. He failed at doing one thing more than many of us ever will.

But, still, there he stood at the podium last night. Why? Because he persisted.

Think about that next time you hit the snooze button instead of going for a run, delete the Word document containing your novel rather than write another chapter or puff on a cigarette because tossing the whole pack in the trash is too hard. There’s always, always another day. You can try again.

Hell, I’m motivated. I woke up at 4:30 this morning to do bodyweight exercises and go for a run. It helped that my black Labrador, Bailey, took a dump on the carpet in our bedroom. But Peele’s speech helped, too.

The tricky part for me—and for you—is to keep going long after the wave has crashed. The Oscar buzz will die down. Twitter will move on to something else. But you and I have work to do.

Keep going—even when you’ve failed for what seems like the hundredth time. Because your next attempt might not net you an Oscar, but it could be the start of something big.

#Movies #Oscars #LifeLessons #Inspiration #Wisdom

Work less, yes, but also treat your wallet like a dumbbell.

While teaching English in South Korea, I got into an argument about money. This petty squabble wasn’t with my wife, but with another foreign teacher. I was marveling at how much financial freedom our ample salary, and lack of housing costs, would afford us when we returned stateside.

For whatever reason, this seemed to offend the guy. He regaled us with stories of long weekends in Seoul, $100 bar tabs and expensive restaurants. When he was finished, he said, “You like to brag about how much you’re saving. I’d rather brag about how much I’m living.”

Maybe it was the age difference between us —I was in the throes of my late twenties, while he, a baby comparatively, was fresh out of college—but I’d like to think I was just wiser. Money, for my wife and I, wasn’t to be spent on extravagant purchases but tucked away like a warm security blanket.

We didn’t have much use for stuff, anyway. Nearly all our possessions we sold or gave away before making the trip overseas, and we weren’t about to start amassing junk in Korea. Anything we did buy would need to be packed into boxes and shipped back on a boat.

It’s not an expat thing—but an American thing

But the more years that come between me and my time in Southeast Asia, the more I realize that my views on money don’t stem from age or wisdom, but being on the fringes of whatever capitalist fever is afflicting millennials.

To put it another way, I’m just a weirdo.

Bigger homes. Gas-guzzling cars. Fancy wines. The trappings of our culture require larger spaces, bigger bank accounts and sturdier livers. The “hustle” isn’t as much an aspiration as it is a necessity to bankroll increased appetites for spending.

You’re working way too hard

Holding down two jobs to finance a lavish lifestyle is admirable. I respect the hustle, even if I have absolutely no desire to be in charge of anything except the words I write. Working yourself to death may even make you feel like a badass.

But here’s the thing. Waking up every morning at 4:30 AM, kissing your framed photo of Gary Vaynerchuk and checking Outlook like you’re the CEO of a future Fortune 500 company is applying a maximalist approach when the opposite is just as fulfilling.

Spend less, want less and you’ll end up having to work less, too.

Guys, it’s that simple

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills every time I read a Quora question asking why people decided not to have kids, and the top response is something around wanting the money to travel.

You can raise a family and still have plenty of money left over to see the world, if you make it a priority. As someone with two kids and a trip to Europe happening in the next two weeks, I feel like I’m the world’s foremost authority on this topic.

It’s not that kids cost a lot of money—they do—but that you spend money like you’re Kanye West. Newsflash: you are not Kanye unless you are actually Kanye. In that case, hey Yeezy. I’m a big fan of your music.

Minimalism sucks sometimes

My house is 1,500 square feet. I’ve lost count of the number of my times me and my wife have lamented the lack of storage space. But, you know what? I’ll take a mortgage payment we can swing on just one of our paychecks over being house poor, any day of the week.

But, I mean, we still shop at Whole Foods and enjoy the occasional fancy restaurant. So it’s not like we’re living a Charles Dickens novel over here. We just don’t have a ton of stuff. Because there’s no place to put it.

And I guess I do have a side hustle if you count “writing on Medium” as a gig. I do make money from my stories sometimes, but I’d be lying if I said those checks went anywhere other than Starbucks. That’s another luxury I enjoy on occasion.

#Money #LifeLessons #PersonalGrowth #PersonalDevelopment #Korea

Why dish out emotion like some spoiled rich kid when you can ration it like a miser?

Did you wake up this morning in your heated house, eat breakfast in your cushy flannel pajamas and think to yourself, Damn, my life is really freaking amazing?

Nah, you probably grumbled about the cold, cursed about how high up the cereal is in the cupboard and pined for the days when food scientists will be able to engineer corn flakes that stay crisp in milk.

That homeless dude begging for change near the freeway on-ramp during your morning commute? You didn’t touch the void for a moment and imagine an alternate reality where you were in his shoes. The thought didn’t even cross your mind. What really ground your gears was the car that cut in front of you without signaling.

Totally not a pyramid scheme If you spent even a month in college, you’ve probably heard of Mazlo’s hierarchy of needs.

Basically, Mazlo theorized that a person had to take care of their physiological needs (food, clothing and shelter) before they could worry about safety (a steady job, among other things). If you believe Lazlo, a romantic relationship is nigh impossible without first addressing the bottom two tiers of the pyramid. But it’s not hard to imagine a homeless person having a low sense of self-worth.

In essence, you can’t magically get to the top. You have to work your way up.

When the bottom drops out For many of us, the most essential of human needs — the bottom of Lazlo’s pyramid — are little more than an afterthought. All our emotional energy is expended on stuff that matters less:

  • The barista who made you repeat your order at the drive-thru
  • Shitty drivers
  • The fact that Hulu’s servers are down, again

Be like Scrooge Pretend your fucks are a massive vault filled with gold coins. Yeah, you could build a diving board and jump right into that filthy lucre, but life isn’t like the cartoons. That shit would hurt.

No, you should stand there and admire those riches. Be a miser. Ration your emotional energy and spend it on the things that actually matter — like being a great parent, creating killer art or running a marathon —the long-term pursuits that make life worth living.

Also, appreciate what you have. Life’s too short to worry about soggy cereal, the patch of dirt on your lawn where grass refuses to grow or how boring the latest season of Grace & Frankie was. None of that crap is worth getting emotional over.

Maybe it’s the wine talking Or perhaps I’m just more woke than I’ve ever been in my entire life, or something. But I’m tired of being apathetic when I should be empathetic, and vice versa.

Maybe you’re in the same boat. If so, I challenge you to prioritize what you give a fuck about. Because who honestly cares if the dude at Sonic forgot to put the cherry in your Cherry Limeade, again.

No, I’m not bitter. This is the start of a new chapter for me.

#Psychology #Life #SelfImprovement #Inspiration #LifeLessons