Live by Design by TREY KAUFFMAN

Issue #64 | FEBRUARY 8, 2024
This issue clocks in at 640 words — about a 3 minute read

In this issue:

  • I Just Wanted to Live a Normal Life: No one’s willing to admit normal isn’t so normal anymore
  • Performance Anxiety: Showing up to my first musical recital
  • Look Back: My Absolute Worst Fear
  • Happy birthday week, Andy and Vicki!

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Being Comfortable is the Worst

Writing about the soundtrack of my youth at some point in the recent past changed from blissful nostalgia to existential dread. From this feels like yesterday to oh god, this song came out 20 years ago.

The fear of feeling old is lost on me. I’m 38 and I feel better now than I did as a 28 year old. Where the dread persists is in the notion that I as part of a generation spent the majority of the last 20 years struggling to find our place, and in that struggle we were caught in a game of tug of war.

In the workplace we were asked to do more and question less in the same ways our predecessors were. Sacrifice for the greater good, even if we’re never told what the greater good is. It was within the last 10 years when we started to question whether someone else’s status quo aligned with our own.

Perhaps it was from atop our shoulders that Gen Z began saying this isn’t good enough for me, and it shouldn’t be good enough for you. A shift in control of personal narratives took place, stripping the power from middle management and delivering it to the voice of a generation. But instead of carrying the ball to the endzone, Millennials shuffled it off to our next of kin.

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Performance Anxiety

This past Saturday I had the amazing opportunity to perform music in front of an audience for the first time in my life.

Walking into the room I looked around and I found myself in a sea of students who were younger than me by more than half a lifetime, but where I thought I would find shame or dread, I felt pride.

I was proud of them for seeking out the courage to do something others would find terrifying. I would proud of myself for putting on display the fact that we can continue learning new skills as adults.

The fear that I thought would grip me didn't show up that day. My nervous system pushed me to be ready for it, but my brain never allowed it to break through.

I took the stage that afternoon not a ball of nerves, but a well-rehearsed first time guitarist. And as I look at the photo in the link below, I feel so much gratitude for finding the light of others who are blazing the path forward.

My First Recital


My Absolute Worst Fear

What are you most afraid of? Ask 100 people that question and you’re sure to get answers like drowning, being alone, clown dolls. And while I wouldn’t choose to hang out in a room alone with a creepy Ronald McDonald doll, that fear doesn’t top my list.

There is one fear that will wrap its fingers of anxiety around my heart if I let it. It’s a constant fear that I’m forced to beat back almost weekly. I’m terrified of having to work for someone else ever again.

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Critical Thought

"Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems."
— Epictetus

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