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!

 

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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 Regret Nothing

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Something that’s been on my mind lately is the notion of regret. All my life, I have lived with a little bit of a utilitarian perspective: What will maximize my enjoyment or happiness the most, even if you suffer consequences as a result? Do the consequences outweigh the benefits? Does the work you put in yield a result that was worth the effort?

(Truly a business student… heh. Not even sorry.)

As we live life aiming to capture the biggest net benefit that we can, we undoubtedly run into situations that make us take a step back and wonder if it was worth the risk, or the effort. I’ll be the first to admit it: I make mistakes on the daily. I screw up, things don’t always go my way, I beat myself up after the fact for not doing something right. (Not to mention that I can be super clumsy, but it’s just something that I’ve embraced)

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Case in point.

But the reality is, just as you cannot control the weather or when the sun sets everyday- you can’t control the way other people act towards you. You can’t control what roadblocks are thrown at you in this journey. But you can control how you respond. Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.

Sometimes, you can do everything in your power to make something work, and it just doesn’t. Sometimes, what you thought was your ulitmate dream job/school/anything doesn’t quite turn out as expected. Sometimes, the people that you care about turn their back on you, and you have no idea why.

But if you were given a chance to go back in time and do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

If the answer is no, then you have to be content with the fact that you did your best and lived without reservations. If something makes you happy, don’t hold back. If something upsets you, cut your losses and move on.

Looking back at the past year of my life, I can safely say I don’t regret a single moment of it. I’ve learned, grown, and changed exponentially; I’m not even remotely the same person as I was before. I’m a firm believer in our personalities never being static- we are constantly evolving based on new experiences and the people around us. I’m glad I made the choices I did, took the risks I did, and had the experiences that I did.

Live boldly and unapologetically, because we only get one shot at this – so we better make it one hell of a ride.

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.

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 🙂

Bittersweet Goodbye

In a few days’ time, I will be hopping on a plane back out East for my new job. Which I guess by this point is not really news, or a surprise, given the nature of my blog posts from the past year.

I think it’s been evident that I’ve loved working and living there, and I am excited to continue my journey there for the next 7 months. Moving is always a struggle, a challenge, but the payoff and the lessons that you learn are just so rewarding.

What makes this time different from the last time I moved was that my summer gig was a very last-minute, rushed, whirlwind-type of affair. Between my offer date and my start date, I had 13 days to find a place to live, plow through stacks of paperwork, and physically move myself over. Less than 2 weeks’ notice to pack up and rebuild my life! It was insanity, but the kind that made me excited to get up in the morning.

This time, I received my offer 2 months in advance. There was plenty of time for me to absorb the information, find a place to live, and slowly start to tell friends, family, and people in my social circles about me leaving. And in the last month, I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people in my life who have reached out to me. Who I have been able to spend time with, re-connect with, and remind me all over again about why I love this city so much and the people in it.

I’ve been so touched by the kind and encouraging words, messages, and Christmas cards. This has hands-down been the best winter break/holiday season ever, and I honestly cannot believe that I am leaving in 3 days- it just isn’t really sinking in. The past month has been kind to me, and I have been very happy.

It also just makes it that much more difficult to leave it all behind. The more time I spend with loved ones, the more I admire my beautiful hometown with that gorgeous backdrop of nature, the more reluctant I am to leave.

But the fact that it is so hard for me to leave this time is a huge blessing. Thank you for giving me so many reasons that make it difficult for me to leave, that make me miss Vancouver before I’ve even left. I’m truly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life who I will dearly miss. And I am lucky to have a piece of my heart in each city.

All the best for the new year, my friends. May it be filled with realized dreams, accomplished goals, and a sense of joy and wonder. This isn’t goodbye- just a “see you later”.

(Literally, because I have to finish my degree this year. And who knows- I may be back to visit sooner than you think 😉 keep in touch!)

New Adventures and New Beginnings

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to blog or write anything for leisure. I’ve missed it. And I’ve also had a bit of writer’s block as well, combined with how hectic life has been.

So perhaps today I’ll write about my own life. As of now, I’m officially 3 years into my degree, and 8 days from now I am flying off to Toronto to start my new job. As a born and raised Vancouverite, I am leaving home for the first time ever, and I am so overwhelmed but excited for the new adventure. Everything I have wanted in the last 2 years has come to fruition. There is lots to be done during this time and I have my hands full, with not much of a chance for a break, as once I get there I’ll be hitting the ground running.

But would I have it any other way? Absolutely not.

But let me just say this. Nothing good ever comes easy. And this year, I learned a big lesson.

Sometimes when doors close on you, or you run into situations that seem like failures- it is actually re-directing you to something better and more fitting for you. And when you choose to go through life with that lens on, it makes the hard times more bearable. Looking back, I am so grateful for every experience I’ve had, every opportunity and every failure, because its honestly led me to this point in my life.

I’ve always believed that success is an iceberg. You don’t see the struggles, failures, sweat, tears, and hard work people go through- you only see the highlight reel. And that’s just not representative of real life.

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Luckily, the people I’ve surrounded myself with have been so supportive of my endeavors and work ethic. I’m really blessed to have the friends and family that I do. I’ve barely had 72 hours to process all of the above information, so it’s all still kind of surreal to me.

Time to swim in a much larger pond with much bigger fish, and get ready for exponential growth. This summer is going to change me, both professionally and personally. This year has changed me. And honestly, nothing has been the same since I first stepped onto campus 3 years ago. I just had no idea what I was in for.

Onto new adventures and new beginnings.