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.

The Good Times And The Bad

There are many thoughts swirling in my head tonight surrounding adversity that I’d like to get down on paper. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ups and downs in my life, how I deal with difficult situations and hardships that come my way, and the key things that I’ve learned.

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It all happened for a reason. When you’re in the thick of a tough situation or hardship, your vision is clouded and you’re not really able to see anything except the present. What I’ve learned through the ups and downs is that everything happens for a reason. You might not be able to see it right now, but when you look back and think, “What if things had gone differently?”, you’ll see that things happened the way they did to get you to where you are now.

Think about it. If things had even gone slightly differently in your journey, whether its a job offer, a relationship, your choice in education, or anything in your professional or personal life, the outcome would have been completely different and you would not be exactly who you are today. The best you can do is to trust your instinct, try your hardest, and trust that things will work out for the best.

Hardship shapes who you are, builds character, and shows you who your true friends and supporters are. Life is a classroom, and all the ups and downs are ultimately a learning experience.

You don’t have to respect people who don’t respect you. 

Respect is something that is earned, not given. And if someone decides that you’re not worthy of their time and respect, you really have no obligation to keep them in your life. Your time is precious – spend it with those who value and appreciate it. Don’t spend it chasing those who don’t.

I will never chase someone who doesn’t want to be around me. If you close the door on me, the trust is gone and likely, so am I. Likewise, if I close the door on someone, it will have been a well-thought out decision rather than a rash lapse of judgment, and I don’t expect them to stick around either.

Your support system is everything. I am tremendously lucky to have amazing friends who are always there to listen and hold me up when I need it. Quality over quantity, indeed. It’s nice to have a wide circle of acquaintances, but what really matters is who you can call at 3:00am when your world is falling apart in the thick of a crisis. I could stand losing a lot of things, but I can’t live without the deep friendships that I’ve cultivated and will continue to develop over the course of my life.

Sometimes, the tables turn in ways you least expect.

Defying Mediocrity

I think that my biggest fear is not death, or failure, or pain- it is living a life of mediocrity.

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A life of complacency, where everything is not “bad” per se, but it’s not the way you want it to be, and you start and end each day feeling unfulfilled. Sound familiar? You feel that there is so much potential in different aspects of your life, but you just don’t know how to tap into it and make each day something that you look forward to. There are things you would like to change, but you don’t even know where to begin.

In short, it is mediocre. You are stuck in a rut. And that’s what scares me most.

Something I learned upon returning home from a whirlwind of a summer is that not every day can be a crazy, life-changing adventure, because without consistency we would feel scattered and lost. But there must be some middle ground we can seek- where we are doing something that gets us out of bed every morning, where we can feel excited and fulfilled and challenged, but being able to catch our breaths and enjoy the little things at the same time.

I’ve experienced a multitude of emotions and phases since the school term began- periods of general unproductivity, then a solid week of studying and grinding 16+ hours a day. Going out every single weekend for a month, then refusing to come out of my cave for weeks. There must be some sort of balance I can achieve.

In business school, we are taught from day 1 that everything we do needs to end up in a promising career by the time you graduate, and if you don’t- you’ve failed. Sounds harsh, but that’s the unspoken “rule” and the crushing pressure that haunts most university students. I’m not going to lie and say that it doesn’t affect me, because I’m as Type A as they get- but the concept of a “job” is worth less to me than the journey towards a meaningful life, and doing things that are fulfilling and challenging, and knowing that I’m making a positive difference. That is what matters most to me.

A career that you’re passionate about is a big part of it, but there are many things that I do that have absolutely nothing to do with trying to find a job. How about cultivating personal and professional relationships, and learning their stories just because you want to build meaningful, fulfilling relationships? Indulging in a hobby? Developing your physical fitness, your depth of knowledge, your artistic skill, quite possibly anything you’d like? Some of the things that make me the happiest have nothing to do with building my career, but believe it or not- they can co-exist, and sometimes they even go hand in hand.

It helps to sit down and have a good chat with yourself from time to time- to examine and assess your needs, goals, priorities, and what you can do to get you to where you want to go. Remove all external factors, and ask yourself what you really want. There have been many things I’ve had to give up in the pursuit of this life, but I want to have my cake and eat it too. That doesn’t make me greedy- that just means that I know exactly what I want and how I’m going to achieve it.

I refuse to live a life of mediocrity- because we only get one life to live, so we damn well better make sure it’s one to be remembered.

“You’ve Changed”

Is typically a phrase I hear from people I haven’t seen in years.

Do people really change? I used to believe that at the core, people just don’t change, and I was tired of people telling me that they would. But looking at myself and how far I’ve come, claiming that people don’t change would be hypocritical of me.

At the core, I believe that I am the same- I still hold the same values and have the same friendly and bubbly persona. These things are ingrained into me and will be constant, just as surely as the sun rises and sets everyday. But so much has happened in the last few years; all the highs and lows have continually shaped me into the person I am and the person I aspire to be. Things that I never thought would happen in my wildest dreams have come to fruition.

I have noticed that I am different. In the way I carry myself, in the way I interact with others. I am more confident, not afraid to make use of and showcase my abilities and talents (rather than covering them up like I used to), and no longer afraid to laugh at myself. I try really hard every day to find the perfect balance between taking the high road and not letting people walk all over me, knowing when to speak up and stand up for myself. Do not mistake this for arrogance- I am still a nice person at heart. But being confident and being nice are not mutually exclusive. I am a firm believer in treating people with respect and being aware of other people’s sensitivities.

I have pushed myself further than I could have imagined going into university. Sometimes you don’t realize that you are capable of so much until you are right in the thick of it, and you realize that you are doing just that, and that this is your life, right here and right now. A small amount of ambition can propel you further than you can fathom. I try to imagine what my younger self would think of me right now, and I think she would be proud to see that I am chasing my dreams and show no signs of stopping.

“You’ve changed.”

But is that really a bad thing? Did you expect me to remain static all these years? We as humans are continuously evolving creatures. The world is not static, so why would we be?

So much is about to change in the next few years. I am afraid, but I am so excited. As 2013 comes to a close and I start reflecting on not only the past year, but my journey over the last few years, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the wonderful opportunities I’ve had the privilege of experiencing, conflicting with a sense of nostalgia because I know nothing will ever really be the same again. I am so excited for what 2014 and the next few years have in store for me.

“Really? How so?”

“No, it’s a good kind of change. You’re more confident and mature, and I’m proud of you.”

Weary from the Pursuit of Happiness

I found this photo on Tumblr today:

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What exactly does it mean to be happy?

What does happiness mean to you?

In my younger teen years, I thought that happiness meant having a special someone. Not necessarily a boyfriend, but just someone to take an interest in, to make the ordinary bleak school day seem a little brighter.

As I grew older and into the senior grades in high school, happiness to me meant achieving my goals (especially in regards to university acceptance), attaining high grades, having a solid group of friends, avoiding drama, and lying on the grass field basking in the sun and sipping on Slurpees during spare blocks. That, to me, was the good life.

As I grew into university, happiness then meant being hired for extracurricular activities, achieving academic and fitness goals, making new friends, expanding my network, and getting out of my comfort zone; constantly pushing my boundaries.

Not many people know this, but I’ve had a really rough year. I have been on the pursuit of happiness for a long time now. It feels like I’ve tried everything, and came so far, but I still lack the one thing I want: to simply be happy and content.

I am tired, weary, worn. The pursuit of happiness has worn me out. Happiness keeps evading me. Just out of reach, but giving me false hope that one day I might actually take a hold of it.

I keep telling myself that happiness will be attained once I complete something. I will be happy when midterms are over. I will be happy when hiring season is over. I will be happy when I get the EC’s and internship I want. I will be happy when finals are over.

But I’m really not.

So when will I be? What will it take?

Going back to my young teenage way of thinking, one might ask, ‘Why don’t you find somebody to love? Then maybe you’ll be happy.’

But quite frankly, romantic love and happiness are not synonymous. Even so, how can you expect somebody to love you if you don’t love yourself; if you’re not happy with who you are? I read something interesting in a Thought Catalog article today:

“We often present the idea of relationships in terms of two halves coming together to make a whole. But I think a much more apt description would be a venn diagram: two complete circles overlapping and making something even more impressive in the middle. They still retain their individual wholeness, but they share things that neither would be capable of creating on their own. You cannot come to someone else as a puzzle with a few crucial pieces missing and expect that they will fill it over with whatever spares they happen to have around.”

And I have nothing more to add.

One of the things I am most happy about since coming into university is having a strong, reliable set of friends to lean on. Friends I can call in the middle of the night when tears are streaming down my face. Friends to laugh with, cry with, and share my life with.

And that should be enough for me to carry on.

I guess even though I am still on the pursuit of happiness, at least I have people supporting me along the way; and it’s the journey, not the destination, that makes it all worthwhile.