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.

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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.

Airplanes and Other Musings

Somewhere over Lake Superior – August 15, 2015, 2:45pm EST

Photo 2015-08-09, 3 49 56 PM

Returning home after an incredible 8 months in Toronto. I can’t believe how fast it’s flown by, but I’m absolutely gutted that it’s come to an end.

Time after time, I keep finding myself returning to this amazing city. In 2014, I lived there for 4 months, and visited two separate times. This year, it’s been home base for the entire year thus far, and I’ve just been constantly flying in and out. I’m likely set to return in October briefly for a work project.

The places I’ve seen, people I’ve met, new experiences that I’ve had – I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else. I am endlessly grateful for every new friend and acquaintance that I’ve met, for my colleagues for making my work term a wonderful learning experience, for a new place I could call home.

Home.

After a year of living out East cumulatively, referring to Toronto as home doesn’t feel strange on my tongue anymore. Each time I move and leave, it’s always so challenging as I struggle to adjust and to build up a network all over again. But it’s worth it every time.

I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without the people that I’ve met. Thank you, truly, for embracing this west coaster into your lives and for making my time here so special. I promise that this isn’t goodbye – I’ll be back. 🙂

At the same time, I’m excited to go back to my hometown for at least 4 months. I’m excited to be somewhere that I know I will always belong, to be reunited with my beloved family and friends, to breathe in that amazing west coast fresh air and eat delicious sushi. I’m excited for a break from that busy, fast-paced work lifestyle and just take a moment to focus on myself.

The last 4 months before “real life” begins.

Lucky that I have a head start on how to properly adult – although seriously, does anyone ever really know what they’re doing?

I’m excited to see where this semester takes me.

– J

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 🙂

Complacency Is A Killer

comfortzone1

Something that has been on my mind recently is the concept of complacency. Truth be told, the refusal to be complacent has always been ingrained in me. As one thing ends, I am always looking for the next big thing, the next challenge to sink my teeth into, the next great opportunity. Sometimes I feel like I am physically incapable of sitting still and being unproductive- I need challenges to thrive.

Complacency is a killer. When you allow yourself to be too comfortable without doing anything about it, you stop growing and you stagnate. The moment you feel like the biggest fish in the pond, is the moment you should be taking yourself out of that environment. It’s easy to fall into that trap. It’s safe and familiar, and you know exactly what you are doing.

But instead, aspire to be in a room where everyone is smarter and/or more competent than you. Only then will you learn and grow and push yourself to become even better. Learning doesn’t stop after your formal education, nor does it stop when you’ve reached the top of the hierarchical ladder- there is always something that you can improve on.

Don’t be complacent. You won’t be doing yourself any favours. You owe it to yourself to strive to be the best that you can be. Venturing out into the unknown can be nerve-wracking and scary, but it’s only when you’re uncomfortable that you are able to test your limits, thrive, and realize what you are capable of.

Why You Will Never Know How I Feel

There are a million ways I could answer this question.

When somebody hurts you, is your first inclination to let them know how you feel, or to brush it off and pretend it never happened?

Why will you* never know how I feel? Because darling, I have too much pride, and I’ve already lost a great deal of it dealing with you. In my head, never speaking to you unless you talk to me, and pretending like nothing happened is the most effective way in dealing with situations like these. No matter how much it hurts, you will never know, and I will never reveal what I am thinking. You will think that I am doing just fine. And I am. I really am. My very subtle efforts at communicating just how fine I am have seemed to work. I wanted to prove a point.

It’s better off this way. Why rip the bandage off a wound? I am not one to run away from my problems, but when things are just beyond repair, why bother trying? Talking about things doesn’t always make it better.

And the best part is, over time I really will believe that I am fine. Because wounds heal, and life goes on. And honestly, there is nothing that time can’t heal.

And I can really say I am fine now. It’s a nice feeling.

But it was a long journey getting to this point.

*You is plural. Interpret this piece however you like, however I tried to make it fit multiple aspects of my social relationships.