I am stupidly happy

Because in this very moment, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

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I don’t need much to be happy. I am a lady who enjoys the simple pleasures in life. Like this current moment: wrapped up in multiple blankets on my couch, throwback tunes playing in the background, tea and macbook in hand, talking and laughing with friends in our group chats.

Everything is as it should be at this point in my life. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t reached the goals that I set for my future self – we’re not there yet. I’ll get there in my own timing.

I am stupidly happy because I have an amazing circle of friends, people I truly love the crap out of and the strongest support system. I am happy because my home really feels like a home to me, and I can live independently on my own terms. I am happy because I earn my own living and use it (carefully) however I desire. I am happy because I feel myself strengthening inside & out. I am happy because I know I am contributing positively to this world.

My life is far from perfect, but none of it matters. I’m happy not despite the imperfections, but because of them. I know I will never stop learning and growing, and the world is at my fingertips. I can do whatever I want.

For the first time in my life, I’m not scared of this happy bubble bursting. Usually when I get “too happy” – I wait for the other shoe to drop. What’s going to mess this up? But I don’t have that fear this time. Life will never be a continual high, but as long as I keep a good head on my shoulders, I can get through anything.

– J

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To know more and be more

What happens when those far fetched dreams aren’t so far fetched anymore? What if, one day, I just fucking bit the bullet and embarked on an adventure that changed my life?

The days go slow but the years go fast

April 22, 2018.

How did we even get here? How is a third of the year gone? How can I already smell summer in the air?

Nothing this year has really felt real. So many weird, absurd, amazing, joyous, strange things have happened from day 1 to right now. Sometimes I feel like I’m having an out of body experience where I just watch myself go through the motions of life and witness things happening to me.

Things aren’t dramatically different day to day, but when you look at where you were months or years before, so much has changed that sometimes I’m in disbelief that this is my life now. Why does the concept of time seem increasingly quicker as I get older?

But mainly, I’m just glad for my health and those of my loved ones. I’m grateful for the chance to live life on my own terms. I complain and spend hours trying to sort out little intricate “problems” of taking care of my own space – and then realize how fortunate I am to even have these problems in the first place. I’m happy that I feel so at home in my home.

Nothing is ever perfect. And this year I’m learning to let go of my perfectionist ideals – whether it’s failing to maintain a spotless place 24/7, missing a yoga class, skipping a social event when I’m exhausted, ‘oh I’ll watch The Bachelor tonight instead of working on my side projects’. The list goes on. Taking care of my mental & physical health is my biggest priority this year, and I’m not scared to say that I’m being selfish – because if I’m not taking care of myself, no one else is going to do it for me.

Let it go, because life’s too short to get hung up on whether things are perfect. The best you can do is try your best, and forget the rest. You can’t “do it all” at 100%, 100% of the time.

I’ve also learned that life is not a continual high – there are natural ups and downs, expansions and contractions – and just because you feel down right now doesn’t mean it’ll last forever, because it won’t. And just because things are amazing right now, doesn’t mean you won’t have your bad days later on.

Despite the day to day insanity, I know I’m going to be okay. I’m really proud of everything I’ve accomplished thus far, what kind of person I’ve become, and I’m excited to see where the rest of the year goes.

– J

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Leaning In

I never really understood the concept of just letting yourself feel negative emotions. Growing up, I always made it a goal to crush and squash any feelings of sadness, anger, or grief. I thought that if I let myself feel those things, I would’ve “lost” to it in some way.

I thought the best way was to bottle everything up, not talk to anyone about it, and just vent privately in the comfort of a journal or digital notepad. I would become my own therapist, talking myself out of feeling a certain way, and a lot of the time it worked. I wasn’t to show any emotion, I was to hold it together, I was to act completely fine – and if (god forbid) I didn’t, I would beat myself up relentlessly for it because I perceived it as being weak. My perfectionist tendencies spilled into my personal life in a big way.

As I got older and my circle of trust and confidantes grew, this got a bit better as I was able to express myself to my close friends and the bottling of emotions eased up a bit. I could tell people how I was feeling, seek advice and comfort, and just allow my loved ones to hang lights in the darkest corners of my mind.

Still though, I always felt tremendous guilt and self-loathing when those less than desirable feelings bubbled up. I’d force myself to squash them, kill the feelings, erase as best as I could, and that was how I coped with anything traumatic in my life.

But in light of recent changes (and I’m talking many major parts of my life have been turned upside down), I’ve learned that being kind to yourself is everything. Instead of pushing away feelings of confusion, turmoil, or grief – I let myself feel all those things to my core. I lean into the sadness, the unpleasant feelings, and let it wash over me. I let my friends’ words be a source of comfort, of relief, of stability.

What I’ve realized is that these feelings are fleeting – here one moment, gone the next. If I simply allow myself to be a normal human being and process the emotions, then over time they improve and do not come back to bite me later as it often does with suppressing my emotions. I do not criticize myself – I am kind and gentle and I let myself know that it’s okay. Perfectionism and being unjustly hard on myself has no place in my fight for mental health.

I want to say to anyone out there going through a period of transition or uncertainty, that it’s okay to be feeling the way that you are. Do whatever you need for yourself to feel okay, to work through all your thoughts and feelings, and most importantly to be nice to yourself when you feel like you least deserve it, but need it the most.

– J

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I Don’t Belong (Anymore)

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The holidays are typically full of joy and reunions with loved ones – whether you’re going home, or have family & friends who have returned for the holiday season.

I am no exception. I have been so thrilled to see old friends that do not live in Vancouver anymore, East coast friends who were visiting, and people who I have not seen in months because between work, life, and other priorities, we simply haven’t had the time until now.

But this year was different. It felt different. Many things have changed over the last year – I’ve been out of school for year, I’ve got a ‘big girl job’, I’ve grown close to new people and apart from others, my own priorities and beliefs have shifted with age. So while all the joy and gratitude was still there, when I visited some of my old haunts and saw people I hadn’t connected with in ages – I couldn’t help but feel distant, out of place, and like I had outgrown what were once familiar comforts to me.

I visited one of my old work places that I had spent a good part of my university years in. My old manager was really happy to see me, but I was dismayed to find that everyone else who I had once worked with was no longer there. I have visited at least once a year since I left, and my past colleagues have always been there. My former group of coworkers had completely cycled through.

I visited another place that had been like a second home to me since I was a baby. I attend a Christmas party there every year, and each time I am really excited to reunite with people I haven’t seen all year. It always feels like a reunion with long-lost family.

But this time, I felt awkward, lost, and out of place. I saw many familiar yet distant faces, people I once knew well but no longer did. I saw teenagers, who I had seen grown up from when they were babies, now older, more confident, talking about what they wanted to pursue after high school. (Since when were you in high school?! What do you mean you’re not 6?) 

Given that’s probably how other people feel about me growing up, but it still struck me so hard that night. It felt like I was trying to squeeze myself into a tiny box that no longer had room for me. It was a place that I had fully outgrown, and for the first time ever, it felt odd to be back.

Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a big event or realization. In the past, I’ve gotten together with former friends, and found that I didn’t have anything in common with them anymore. Proximity and convenience was the only reason why we were friends, and when you enter the real world and have limited spare time, you have to make an effort to keep in touch with those who matter to you. This automatically weeds out anyone who you aren’t truly close to.

Sometimes you find that you’ve outgrown places and/or people, and no longer feel a sense of belonging. But that’s okay. Things change, people change, and that’s just life. And there’s always a silver lining.

When doors close, others open in ways that you never thought imaginable. Where I no longer find a sense of belonging, I find community and unity in new places and new people. Where I drift apart from some, I find love and friendship in people I had never expected to, and unexpectedly maintain a strong connection with people who were only supposed to enter my life for a season.

So while I learned to let go of things I have outgrown, this year I also learned that friendship has no borders, and how incredibly lucky I am to know and meet friends who turn into family. It’s not about who you’ve known the longest – it’s about who comes into your life, makes an impact, and never leaves your support system.

Cheers to this past year, and I’m excited to see what 2017 has in store!

 

In Transition // Trains of Thought

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It’s only March and I’ve already broken one of my New Years resolutions – to sit down and write a blog post (or some sort of written piece) every two months. The last time I wrote anything substantial was in November.

Truthfully, I have been swamped with a bunch of career and life changes, and battling some health issues. I wrapped up my undergrad degree in December and have been on the job search since – transitioning from school to the “real world”. In the past weeks I’ve had some big decisions to make about which opportunities to pursue and which path I should go down, but I am very lucky to have a strong support system and people who are always willing to help (even without me asking!).

Finding the intersection between my long-term career objectives and my opportunities on the table has been an interesting journey – but I’m happy to say that I’ve made a choice and I’m not looking back or second guessing my decision.

In the Fall, I got very sick for a month and was put through four rounds of antibiotics before I recovered. I had never been so sick in my life and it really slowed me down from my usual fast-paced lifestyle.

This past month, one of my wisdom teeth got infected and had to be extracted. The accompanying medication came with a myriad of side effects, which I’m still very much struggling with. But all of this taught me a lot about patience, and the importance of good health. It’s something so critical to have – because without it, you can’t do anything else.

These days I have been looking back at what my life was a year ago – and it’s amazing to see how things change year over year. For example, in March 2014, I had just returned from my first-ever trip to Toronto during reading week, full of energy and motivation to make my dreams come to life as a 3rd year student. But living and working there was still just a far-fetched dream.

In March 2015, I was doing just that – working in Toronto, for not the first time but the second! Living on my own in a cozy apartment on Bay Street. Braving -30 degree weather and “real Canadian winter” for the first time. Having full independence, meeting new friends, and flying out of Pearson more times than I’d like to count.

And now in March 2016, I am back in Vancouver and have graduated, started my first full-time job out of school (in a completely new-to-me area), and recently bought my first car so I can drive to work – whaaat? I am experiencing another kind of independence – without the safety net of being a student, things like your finances become a heightened burden. Ensuring you keep nurturing friendships and relationships that are close to your heart (without the convenience of proximity) requires more effort. As does balancing work with other aspects of your life.

I am excited to see where this next chapter of my life takes me. What will life be like come March 2017?

Only time will tell.

I Still Get Jealous…

*cue Nick Jonas and Tinashe*

“Jealousy.” What an ugly word, and an even uglier feeling. How would I describe how it feels?

A combination of your heart sinking, and feeling like you’re about to burst – a barely contained flash of insecurity and anger. It can stem from a variety of things:

  1. When someone achieves something, or attains something that you also desire – whether it’s a goal or a tangible object.
  2. When you feel unappreciated and undervalued for your efforts (but someone else gets the credit/recognition).
  3. When you feel threatened by somebody else – whether in a platonic or romantic relationship.
  4. When you fight for somebody’s clearly divided attention.

And these feelings can strike in a lot of different areas of your life. In the workplace, in your relationships (friends, significant others, family), in your community – hell, it can even happen with complete strangers that you walk past in the streets.

Ultimately, I think that the biggest contributor is insecurity. Because insecurity feeds jealousy, and jealousy feeds insecurity. It’s a destructive cycle that will leave your mind spiraling into dark places that harm your self-esteem, when it’s all really in your head.

I remember dealing with jealousy as a child and teen, but back then it was much simpler. It was who had the cooler gadgets, clothes, social events. Who got the better grades. Who’s crush liked them back. Who ran the fastest in the 200 metre sprint at Track practice.

I remember when I was fifteen, I wrote a paper about how jealousy can be a good thing – because you can channel that negative energy towards others into improving yourself and elevating yourself to the next level. It can give you the push and motivation to improve whatever aspect of your life that you are unhappy with. And I still stand by my statements seven years later.

Even something as simple as walking by someone and thinking, “Man, I wish I was as fit as her” could be channeled into positive self-improvement: “How can I adopt a more active lifestyle and improve my health?”. “I can’t believe he beat me on the Calculus exam” could turn into “How can I study more effectively?”. The key is to focus on bettering yourself, instead of comparing yourself to others – because that is where all the negative thoughts begin.

Over the last few years, I don’t really consider myself a jealous person overall. It usually takes something sizable to get a rise out of me. But like everyone else, I am human, and when it does strike, I’ve found that taking this approach has helped me greatly in managing my jealousy and turning it into a positive aspect.

Sometimes you can’t control it – like when your significant other is talking to someone that they could be interested in (or who is interested in your partner), or an ex in their life, or one of a million different scenarios. I’m not going to pretend like I know the answer to the complexity of romantic relationships, because I’m not even close to being qualified to talk about that. But I will say that people often want what they can’t have, and they covet what other people desire. It’s human nature.

All I can really say in these scenarios, where jealousy involves people instead of a “thing”, is to communicate with your loved ones. Friends, family, partners – it applies for everyone in your life. Be open, and let them know if something is bothering you. They can’t read your mind, so you can’t expect them to just know how you’re feeling. And if the person is never willing to compromise, or repeatedly makes you feel insecure and jealous with no regard for your feelings – then you should really consider whether this person is worth keeping in your life. Relationships should be based on a mutual respect and trust, not negativity and insecurity.

Like many emotions we go through, jealousy is part of being human. It’s how you deal with it, and what you create with it that makes all the difference.