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.

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I Am Scared To Death

Something that I have really grappled with the past year is the notion of Fear.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear of failure. 

This year, keeping up with the rapid pace of life’s changes has taken up the majority of my time. It often takes a while for things to fully sink into my head, but I would often find myself going through the motions- getting on that plane, having that important meeting, executing a huge project- before I even realized it was happening. And once it hit, I could hardly believe that I had mustered up the courage to pull it off.

I told myself when I moved that I wouldn’t let fear stop me from building the ideal life that I envisioned for myself. So I went way outside my comfort zone and did scary things – like show up to events where I didn’t know a single person in the room, sign up (alone) for conservatory improv classes with no idea what to expect, and fly across the country to an industry conference solo, representing a huge brand (as a co-op student!), where everyone was at least 10 years my senior and had tons of experience.

Scary? Hell yeah. In each of these scenarios, I felt paralyzed with fear. It was the kind of fear that grips you and consumes your whole being. Recounting these adventures to my friends and roommates, I often heard “You’re so brave!” or “That’s pretty ballsy and fearless of you.”

But I am not fearless. To take a quote from Ellen DeGeneres: “I am not fearless. I didn’t do it because I am fearless. I did it in spite of the fact that I was scared to death.”

But bravery isn’t always a loud declaration or sweeping gesture. Sometimes, bravery is quiet. Another way I struggled with fear was in my personal life – the ability to have those honest conversations with people, to let my guard down, to admit my own feelings to myself. It’s a quiet victory when you manage those first 10 seconds of courage, but arguably way more frightening than any of the events that I described above.

Why? Because I hate showing vulnerability. It’s scary to even think about giving someone else ammunition they could use to hurt you. But being vulnerable is a part of being human – we aren’t always strong and confident, even when we pretend we are. And learning that this year has been a huge step for me.

I am excited to see what I can accomplish in 2016, and the ways that I can harness my fear and create extraordinary things out of it.

The Lessons I’ve Learned

It’s recently occurred to me that my year spent taking the road less traveled is ending in a matter of weeks, and life as I know it will change all over again.

I get asked questions a lot – from people at home, and people here. Why did you choose it? Which do you like more? What’s it like on the other side? To put it into perspective, I tell my friends here: “Imagine you pack your bags and move to Vancouver at a moment’s notice, where you don’t know a single person. You have to start from scratch. You are fully responsible for yourself. What would you do?”

What I don’t get asked is what I’ve learned. I’m nowhere close to being the same person I was when I arrived. And the life lessons you only learn from experience are arguably more game-changing than any career advice one could offer. I wanted to get a few of these things down on paper, as my viewpoint at age 21:

The notion of “doing it all” is possibly the worst expectation I could set for myself. I put so much unnecessary pressure on myself, and I try to be superwoman and hit the nail on the head in every single aspect for my life, and get frustrated when I can’t achieve it to those standards. This year I’ve learned that you CAN’T do every single thing perfectly all at once, and that’s 100% okay. There are only 24 hours in a day, and when you devote time and energy into one area, another will undoubtedly suffer. It’s all a balancing act, and it’s okay when the scales tip in a way that it shouldn’t.

I wear many hats – I’m a friend, daughter, sister, employee, marketer, ultimately a young adult trying to find her way in life – and sometimes one of them will require more attention.

Don’t sell yourself short. In anything in life. You have so much potential and so much to offer. Comparison is the thief of joy – be the best that you can be, and aim to keep topping your own standards. When you stop looking around and focus on bettering yourself, things just fall into place.

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Being an organized person by nature, I love to plan and coordinate and colour-code. I own two Moleskines, I create to-do lists like its my job, and nothing makes me happier than crossing things off.

Historically, it doesn’t matter who you are – if I hang out with you, you go into the calendar so that I remember and can plan around it. But this year, I’ve learned that some most of the best moments I’ve had are spontaneous and unplanned. I used to need to plan my evenings/weekends in advance, and now I just roll with whatever comes up and it ends up being a great time. When you live life on the go, things change at a moment’s notice and whatever you had down on paper is now irrelevant. The key is to learn how to just go with the flow (as cheesy as that sounds).

Quality definitely trumps quantity in the company you keep.

If you love someone, tell them, and remind them often. You never know when it may be too late, and you could scream it at the top of your lungs and they would never hear you.

Trying to be anyone other than yourself is a waste of your time. Don’t apologize for who you inherently are. Surround yourself with people who love and accept you the way you are. Kick to the curb anyone who tries to change the basis of who you are to fit their idea of “perfection”.

Setting Thursday happy hour as a weekly recurring meeting on Outlook is probably the best idea known to mankind.

Just relax. Everything is going to be okay.

Objectively speaking, time you enjoy “wasting” is not actually wasted.

Change Someone’s Day in Ten Seconds

“Climbing the Corporate Ladder” – IDS Toronto 2015 Exhibit

People won’t always remember you, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Above everything else, I believe in treating people with respect. It doesn’t matter if its your boss, the cleaning lady, the CEO, the gardener, an elderly woman trying to cross the street, a young child- treating everyone equally with kindness and respect just goes such a long way.

The janitor at your office is mandated to clean up after you, and your direct reports are mandated to do whatever tasks you assign them- its their job- but something as simple as smiling and saying “Thank you” goes way further than you know. Everyone likes to feel appreciated for what they do. Saying that you don’t have time to acknowledge their presence is nonsense- it doesn’t require any extra time on your part at all.

I know this because it affects me the same way. When people treat me kindly or make me feel like I matter, I remember it, and it can boost my mood for hours. And when people do the opposite and put me down, I remember it, and it can ruin a perfectly good day in a second. The same principle applied to when I was working my first summer job at 14 years old behind the counter at McDonald’s, and it applies when I am a concierge for UHNW clients at high profile company events. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you do- the concept of respect is universal.

I was in the restroom after work hours at the office one night, and there was a lady doing maintenance cleaning. Before I exited, I stopped and said, “Thanks so much for cleaning up after us. We really appreciate it.” And she returned a big smile and a “You’re welcome.” It made both of us feel good, and the exchange took all but ten seconds.

I have immense amounts of respect for people who work in blue-collar or pink-collar service jobs, having been one of them for many years. In fact, even though I now work in a highly corporate office environment, sometimes I find myself working on the front lines in client-facing roles where my years of customer service experience comes in handy. When it comes down to it, I’m never afraid to get my hands dirty.

But it doesn’t matter what you do or where you work in. We’re all the same underneath- we’re human.

Everyone wants to be successful, but was it really success if you step on other people to get to where you are? We all have our off days, but taking a minute to appreciate those around you and those who serve you will go further than you could ever imagine.

One Of My Biggest Flaws

It has felt like an eternity since I moved into this massive refrigerator they call a “city” (it’s more like an igloo with skyscrapers)- but it’s only been half a month. So far, I’d say things are pretty good. I’m slowly settling into a rhythm at work, and at home living on my own yet again.

“Home” feels more like home as each week passes, although I will never fully get used to the cold. My Vancouver friends Snapchat me complaining about 6 degrees and I just want to throw my phone out the window, except you don’t want to open it when it’s -20 outside.

Something that I noticed about myself when I moved last year was that I expected everything to be perfect immediately. I expected myself to be fully acclimatized in the new city and my new job right away. I tried to buy EVERY SINGLE THING I needed to live (as I arrived mostly empty handed) in one day. And of course, that doesn’t happen. You just don’t settle in overnight. And I was very frustrated with myself for not reaching this unattainable ideal right away.

Slowly I learned that it takes time to get used to your surroundings, to build up a network, to settle in. It’s just like when you’re moving- you will not unpack all your boxes and have everything looking Ikea catalogue perfect in a day, in a week, or even in a month. Throw in an entirely new environment and it just makes it ten times harder.

This time I thought it would be easier. And it was. But the frustration returned the first week when I started my job- when I struggled to adjust to work life again, to take care of myself, and the expectation of immediate perfection came back.

Have all the things I need to live on a day-to-day basis, a fitness regimen down pat, a packed calendar (not from work) and thriving social life, get over jetlag and get plenty of sleep, kill it at work, eat healthy, be totally immune to the freezing cold, be on top of my game in the kitchen and around the house, AND save as much money as possible. Right away. All at the same time.

It’s evident that the Type A personality doesn’t just apply to work and school- it spills over into all aspects of your life. This year, I am working hard on being okay with disarray and imperfection, with letting go of unattainable ideals, and to simply just be easier on myself.

I don’t want to be stuck in that cycle of setting unachievable standards for myself, and then berating myself when I don’t reach them. All of these things hinder your happiness and overall quality of life, and life is too short to always be so harsh on yourself.

I’m excited to see what’s to come! It may be freezing, but the atmosphere of spontaneity and the fast-paced lifestyle is year round. It’s going to be an amazing 7 months ahead of me 🙂

September 2014 – A Month of Change

I rarely write about personal things on my blog, but this month has been absolutely crazy; it’s been full of ups and downs. September is always a busy time of year for me, what with transitioning back to school and my birthday falling on Labour Day weekend, but this one has been especially chaotic.

I’ve always embraced change, but this month my life has been completely turned upside down. And I kept piling it on myself, thinking- “So much has changed already. Why not change this as well?” And so I thought I would share the top-line version of what I’ve been up to the past 30 days.

This September, I…

– Turned 21.

– Finished my work term with RBC and flew back to Vancouver.
-> And with that, gained a whole new appreciation for my beautiful hometown while experiencing major Toronto + RBC withdrawal. It was a strange mix of feelings.
-> Was reunited with friends and family I hadn’t seen in months on end.

– Dealt with the loss of a loved one.

– Attended my first funeral.

– Cut my hair short for the first time since I was 11.

– Entered my fourth year of school at UBC.

– Took a course for credit/d/fail for the first time in my undergrad.

– Replaced my childhood bed that I’ve been sleeping in since I grew out of my crib.

– Briefly flew back to Toronto for 48 hours.

– Wrote my very first cheque for a significant amount of money.

– Started a new job as a TA at school.

I am looking forward to a new month- while bringing all the lessons that I’ve learned the past couple of months along with me. 2014 has been a year of learning, change, and growth, and I am excited to see what the rest of this year will bring.

WINTER IS COMING MIDTERMS ARE COMING.

May 2014 – A Life Changing Month

This past month has honestly been the most life-changing month of my entire life.

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More events have transpired in May 2014 than in the entirety of 2014 combined, and as I sit here on a beautiful Sunday evening in Toronto, I am taking some time to reflect before launching myself into another crazy month.

I have been here just under 3 weeks, living by myself for the first time ever. To say that it has been a roller coaster would be an understatement. It’s definitely not all glitz and glam- I’ve had to do some pretty humbling things- but I’ve definitely flirted with the fast life in my first couple weeks. It really has been full of ups and downs.

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I’ve had to rebuild my life and my home from the ground up. I arrived by myself with literally nothing, and quickly realized that I had a lot of settling in to do. I’ve needed to do a lot of adjusting to get used to my new surroundings- I wasn’t able to sleep for five nights in a row, while simultaneously starting a new job, meeting hundreds of new faces, and feeling out the corporate culture. At the same time, I had to learn how to live on my own and with roommates for the first time, and even try to master basics such as laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

I’ve gotten sick twice already, the first lasting 2-3 days, and the second lasting a whole week (I am still sick right now!). I’ve unfortunately had to miss out on a lot because of my body’s inability to keep up with me, but I realize that health comes first and that I need to take better care of myself.

I had a lot on my plate, and each day I felt overwhelmed, with new challenges thrown at me. It hasn’t all been amazing, contrary to what people might think. Sometimes it was surreal- is this really happening? Even three weeks later, sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m here.

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However, there were many high points. My first day of work was honestly just unreal- there was so much to take in and get to know, the views from the office were amazing, I braved Toronto rush hour for the first time, and to top it all off, I actually got to spend that same evening at the Shangri-La with my new boss, drinking champagne and being wined and dined. We listened to a jazz band that she thought would be perfect for our August event, and talked business at 11pm.

Since that first day, I am blessed to have met the people that I have, to build new relationships, and experience Toronto as much as I can. I have a whole bucket list of things I want to do this summer, and I am so excited for what’s to come.

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The first two weeks seemed to drag on for ages- it has felt like a lot longer than that! But as time passes, I become more and more adjusted to TO life, and things get better and easier. Today, as I returned from my first Sunday brunch in the city, as well as my first time attending a bridal shower, I walked through the streets and I just felt this calming realization that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I am finally happy to be where I am. Living my dreams didn’t turn out exactly how I envisioned at first- but it has been a whirlwind, an adventure, and a lesson. I am learning new things every day, and my personal and professional development has shot up exponentially.

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I have a feeling that the next 3 months will move by so quickly- the best things in life are also the most fleeting. I am excited to see where this adventure of a summer takes me!