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Humans of Oxford: Tim Stiffler-Dean — serving coffee at Kofenya

By Emma Shibley, For The Miami Student

"Normally I would have a pipe. I really believe that some of the most well quoted people - authors, philosophers, politicians - all smoked pipes and cigars. I really believe that the reason why they're so well quoted is they would start talking, put the pipe in their mouth, take a few puffs, and then finish the quote. And while they were taking a few puffs, they would actually think of this brilliant way of phrasing it. So I wish I had that right now.

As young people, a lot of times we experience things that we don't realize are global pains. A lot of times as teenagers, when we feel alone, we believe that we're the only ones who feel alone, especially in this social media-driven world where we see everyone else posting vacation meals and awesome parties and everything. As we age, we start to realize that other people feel a lot of pain, too. And we take that weight and we say, 'I want to stop the pain. I want to end the suffering.' And we have this grand vision of how we're going to do that … The problem actually becomes that we end up causing more suffering for ourselves, because we're taking the weight of the world on our shoulders. We're trying to prove ourselves, and we're trying to create a name to allow us to change more lives and go and do more amazing things. When really, all that it takes is: do you have the ability to invest in the individual person who's in front of you right now, and have one single ounce of kindness for them? We try to make everything a statement. We try to make every single action, every post have this grandiose meaning. Like, what if we just were kind to each other?

When we try to take the world on our shoulders, and we try to do all these amazing things, then we start comparing ourselves to other people. We start saying like 'Oh, man, I wish I could be like that guy, who is an awesome leader in this movement,' or whatever. Then when we fail, when we inevitably fail all that, then we condemn and we shame ourselves and we get embarrassed … Now we're condemning ourselves, now we're shaming ourselves, now we have regret. And what good does that do?

I'm going to have one tattoo on me. And it's just going to say 'free to fail.' Free to fail. And free to walk on from there, totally confident and awesome."