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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So, It’s Almost 2014… And You Know What That Means

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It means that a sizable portion of the human race will be making New Year’s Resolutions.

A new year is great, isn’t it? It’s like having a fresh start all over again, turning over a new leaf. That explains the influx of people in the gym the first couple weeks in January. You feel all pumped as the new year unfolds, totally committed to stick to your resolutions. But as time wears on, life gets busy, your motivation wears thin, and you slowly revert back to your old ways.

Does that sound familiar? I bet it does to some of you. I, too, am guilty of making resolutions in the past and not sticking to them. But you know what? “New Year’s Resolutions” is a rather artificial concept to begin with. Why should you only make resolutions at the start of the year? The notion of time is created by humans. Thus, years are a man-made concept. Why should you base your goals and ambitions around the beginning and end of something so fleeting and intangible?

I counter the infamous “New Years Resolutions” with the proposal that you can change your life whenever YOU want to. Every day is a chance to change your life for the better. If you’re not happy with something, change it. Do something about it. You don’t need to wait until the end of the year is near to turn over a new leaf. This is your life, and it’s happening right now. At any point in time, you have the power to set a goal, to decide that you will accomplish something, to make a resolution.

Now I am not bashing the idea of setting goals for yourself for the upcoming year- I am doing the same thing myself. It’s a good idea to keep yourself focused and accountable. Just don’t feel pressured by the constraints of “a year”. I hear so many people around me that say they are “so ready for 2013 to end”. But why? There are still a few days left. Don’t waste those days waiting around for them to pass. Make the most out of these days. Why should you wait for the new year to start living a good life? Start now.

To pull an example from my own life, last year at this time everything wasn’t so peachy. I was unhappy with a lot of aspects of my life. And like many others, I was “ready for 2012 to end”. But for what? I was no happier on January 1st, or 2nd, or for quite a while to be honest. Everything was the same- the only thing that had changed was that it was now 2013. It wasn’t until that I decided that it didn’t have to be this way, and there were big dreams to be chased, and I saw an ideal version of myself that I could become if I pushed myself. My resolutions and willingness to drive change were innate and genuine. And guess what? It’s been one hell of a ride since then. I have experienced such exponential growth this year, been blessed with great opportunities, and discovered what I was capable of.

And just because the year changes by one numeric value does not mean that suddenly, you are reborn and angels will descend from the skies and sing joyful hymns of praise. No, you are the same person as you were at 11:59pm- but you are the person that YOU decide that you want to be. Start now. Do it now. The world moves too fast for you to not act now.

Winter Survival Guide: Beauty Edition

So it’s been getting extremely cold in Vancouver the past couple of days (and the rest of Canada shakes their head at us). But seriously, today is a whopping -5 degrees Celcius, with a high of -2. Us university students are buried in final exams, papers, and it’s a stressful time for everybody. I haven’t been able to write much cause the last few weeks have been absolutely crazy, and I got very sick over the past week. And to top it off, my home’s heater broke and I’ve been freezing for the past week or so.

But amidst the craziness, the temperature changes have made my skin and hair very dry (when it is normally oily), and I’ve had to take extra time out of my day to take care of it and make sure it stays moisturized. I thought I’d share some of my tips and my favourite products to help combat the chilly weather.

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1. MOISTURIZE YOUR FACE. While this may seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised at how many people are lazy when it comes to moisturizing, myself included. I have oily skin, so I can normally get away with just washing my face with Cetaphil and going to bed. But in the wintertime, even my oily skin gets dry, and so I make sure to moisturize my face before I head out the door and before heading to sleep.

Moisturizer doesn’t have to be expensive (I messed up my skin last winter trying out high-end products), but it does have to work for your skin. I’ve been using the Neutrogena Oil-Free Sensitive Skin Moisturizer for around 4 years now, and it works beautifully for both morning and night. It’s light and water-based, but still hydrating, and I’d imagine it work for a large range of skin types. And it only retails for $10-$15, and one bottle lasts a very long time.

2. STAY HYDRATED. This is important year-round, but especially during the holidays. All that cold weather, central heating, and alcohol at holiday parties will really dehydrate your body and dry out your skin. Drink plenty of water (and no, cocktails don’t count) to keep your body and your skin happy and healthy.

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3. Okay, even I’m surprised that I’ve included body lotion into this. I’m not going to lie, I am very picky about moisturizers, and I don’t like 99% of the lotions I own. I find body lotions in general to be very sticky and uncomfortable (and don’t even get me started about body butters). But I was gifted this Sugar Lemon Body Lotion by fresh by a friend on my birthday, so when I noticed that my legs were getting dry from the weather, I finally gave it a try- and I LOVE it. It’s so light but hydrating, sinks into my skin like a dream, and smells exactly like it sounds. My legs are visibly less dry after only a couple of uses. It has a hefty price tag for a lotion (around $30), but for me it’d be worth it, because I don’t remember the last time I actually liked a body lotion.

I discussed my favourite hand cream in an earlier post, which you can bet is equally amazing as I am just as picky about those. I’ve been reapplying every couple hours, whereas every other time of the year you’d be lucky if I applied it once a week.

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4. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! A few years ago, I wondered why I was suddenly breaking out come Fall/Winter, and read in a magazine that it is especially important to exfoliate in the winter, as those dry, dead skin cells build up on your face and leave it looking dull, and can lead to breakouts. And it turns out they were right- within a week, my skin had mostly cleared up. I have been using this one lately in the shower: The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Exfoliator. It is REALLY GENTLE- actually a bit more gentle than I’d prefer, but it does the job and doesn’t irritate my skin. This would work for even those with hyper sensitive skin- the beads are microscopic and will not irritate you in the least.

To compare the products side by side:

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From top to bottom: Neutrogena moisturizer, Fresh body lotion, Body Shop exfoliator

They all look extremely similar, all light, non-irritating, sensitive-skin friendly, and do their job well. (Excuse my hand.. it’s rather tired looking)

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5. Can’t forget about the lips, cause I don’t know about you, but I constantly have to reapply this time of year. These two have been my favourites lately, and the Burts Bees Lip Balm has been my favourite for years. Since the beginning of high school. My whole family loves them. The Vaseline Lip Therapy is very potent and great for bedtime. I apply it with a Q-Tip (because I hate dipping my fingers into jars) before bed, and wake up with soft, smooth lips.

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6. As for hair, this has been my love for the past few months. I have long hair and very, VERY dry ends, and this really helps to hydrate my hair and smooth it out. The Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Deep Treatment was also a gift from a friend, and it is seriously amazing. I’m not even joking- it is a miracle for it’s price ($2.99!). However, at the moment you can only get this in the states, so if you can get yourself down there, I highly recommend you try this out. I stocked up at Target, but you can probably find this in similar department stores.

Because I like to recommend products that are mostly affordable and can be easily accessed (I am a student after all), another hair mask that I love is the L’Oreal Total Repair Replenishing Mask.

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If you can’t get your hands on the Aussie one, this one is also really hydrating, inexpensive (around $5), and lasts for a long time. This is also a staple in my shower. Just an FYI: I use hair masks/deep conditioners as my everyday conditioner.

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7. And because you know how much I love using face masks to de-stress, this Moisturizing Cream Mask by Caudalie is very soothing and hydrating. The reason why I don’t have my own photo of this is because I received a deluxe sample of this and used it all up. It’s a splurge at $42, but this is one of the few moisturizing masks I do like. I typically prefer clay masks for oily skin.

And that is it for my tips on surviving the winter season. Stay warm, stay hydrated, and take care of your skin! Good luck to those in the midst of exams, and have an amazing and well-deserved break!

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Happy Holidays from me to you! Thanks for catching up with me!

What Are You Thankful For?

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As Thanksgiving weekend races by much too quickly, and my midterms loom near on the other side, I still choose to carve out some time to sit and reflect on what the meaning of Thanksgiving is, and what I am thankful for.

Thanksgiving originated from old English traditions dating back to the Protestant Reformation, and was traditionally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest, and of the past year. Here in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in mid-October, whereas the United States observes the holiday on the fourth Thursday of November (and then follows it up with Black Friday- why delay Christmas shopping and rampant consumerism any longer, eh?)

Although now in urban cities we do not hold an actual “harvest festival”, giving thanks for the past year is definitely still applicable to us. In a way, we reap what we sow, and we should be grateful for what we’ve been blessed with. Life moves very quickly, and if you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you may take the little things for granted and only notice in the wake of its absence.

This year, I am thankful for:

  • My family and friends, first and foremost. Thank you for supporting me, thank you for being my rock when life gets really tough. This year has been just that. Thank you for putting up with me, for knowing me so well, for blessing me with your presence, laughter, and warm hearts. Thank you for looking out for my best interests, listening to me, giving me advice and help when I need it, and being a part of my life.
  • Community. Of all sorts and sizes.
  • A roof over my head, and all my basic needs met.
  • An education and various jobs in which I am able to continuously learn and grow, and challenge myself to be the best that I can be. The fact that I am complaining about midterms means that I have the opportunity to pursue higher education, and that’s not something that should be taken for granted.
  • Music. For being able to listen, and play it myself. At this rate, I will likely suffer hearing loss at an old age, but I start and end my day with my headphones in.
  • Random acts of kindness. Even the smallest things can touch your heart and make a big impact.
  • John Green.
  • All the personal development I’ve gone through this past year. Those who have both helped me, and hurt me, thank you for helping me grow in character.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! May you spend it in the company of those you love. Or study simultaneously, if you’re also in my shoes. Wear loose-fitting pants, indulge in that turkey, and take a moment to give thanks for the blessings in your life.