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’ve had the time of my life – Enterprize Canada 2014

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How do I even begin to describe the immense love and passion I have for Enterprize?

For those of you who do not know what Enterprize Canada is, it is the largest student-run entrepreneurship organization in Canada, and we aim to inspire, promote innovation, and instill the entrepreneurial mindset and passion into students and the community.

When people think “Entrepreneurship”, they automatically think of starting your own business. But it is so, so much more than that. Having the entrepreneurial mindset- that drive, passion, and desire to constantly innovate, improve, and excel- THAT is what we want people to understand. This mindset will carry you a long way and help you achieve success no matter what path you decide to pursue.

Our two main offerings are our Conference and Business Model Competition. This past weekend, our SOLD OUT conference took place at the Fairmont Waterfront, where we were able to share all our hard work for the past ten months with 250 delegates and speakers. Packed with amazing keynote speakers, workshops, an innovation challenge, the competition finals, a cocktail networking reception, and TONS of food, I just couldn’t help but feel so proud, seeing all of our long hours; our blood, sweat, and tears finally come together.

My biggest hope from the conference was that we were able to inspire and bring about a fresh perspective to our delegates. Even as a part of the Organizing Committee, I felt so inspired. The conference pushed me to think and act out of the box, to not be afraid to chase my dreams, and that I am stronger, smarter, and braver than I think. Getting up on the stage facing a room full of people with a microphone can be daunting- yet I did it multiple times (on a rather impromptu note) running on 30 minutes of sleep, five coffees, and lots of adrenaline.

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For the past ten months, these people have been my family, and Enterprize was something we were pouring our heart and soul into. The best part about working with such amazing, supportive people is that you really do become a family- sharing our lives and our progress on Enterprize with each other every Wednesday night has been something I’ve looked forward to, and I’m sad that it has to come to an end.

Personally, I have not pushed myself beyond my call of duty so much before, but that is what I just did since I joined the team in April. Go above and beyond, or go home. This past weekend (and honestly over the past few months), I’ve had the strangest mix of emotions- adrenaline, extreme fatigue, joy, excitement, stress, and peace all at once.

As I write this on the plane en route to Toronto for the next exciting chapter of my reading week, I can’t help but smile and feel nostalgic already. We made it, guys. We pulled off something amazing and brilliant and I could not be prouder of us. I have nothing but #eprizelove for all of you.

I’m going to miss sending you guys emails every week and consuming copious amounts of blue candy.

Love,

J

#eprize2014

An Open Letter To My 15 Year Old Self

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Dear Joyce,

It’s September, and you have just started 10th grade, and just had your birthday over Labour Day weekend. 15 years old, huh? You’re so old now. The pinnacle of your teens.

I know you feel so many different things at once: excitement for the new school year, confusion over the fact that you should start thinking about a viable career path to follow (can anyone say Planning 10?), and hurt over some of the negative people in your life.

Allow me to help you clear up some of the question marks in your life.

This term will be your worst academic term to date, because you have so much going on in your personal life. Granted, you will still make Honour Roll, but they aren’t marks that you’re going to be proud of. Don’t be too hard on yourself, because from here, there is no way to go but up. Trust me, you’ll see.

I know how much you hate math and science right now, but your jaw will drop when I tell you that they end up to be your top marks in senior year, and that you’re actually (gasp) good at it. You just need to work a little harder, and find the resources and support you need.

Stop making excuses for your boyfriend’s behaviour, and leave him. You don’t deserve to be treated that way. You will part ways later in the year, but why prolong the suffering? Joyce, you will see that your world is so much bigger than your relationship, and you will realize much greater dreams than having somebody at your side. Down the road, you will break some hearts, and you will suffer heartbreak, but these issues will seem trivial as you figure out and pursue your dreams.

Have the courage to speak up to the “friend” who constantly manipulates, undermines, and upsets you, who has brought you nothing but grief all these years. This year will be the turning point: you will finally decide that you’ve had enough of being a pushover, and you will walk away from all the hurt and frustration, and never look back. But it’s not until maybe six months from this point that you decide to do so.

Also about six months from now, you will come across the school and program of your dreams that you never knew existed before. You will spend maybe 10 minutes conversing with school representatives, completely fall in love, have your heart set on entering said program, and never look back. And you will achieve this, despite the odds. I know it sounds like a stretch right now, but you will surprise everybody who ever doubted you. It will be a pivotal point in your life, because from this you will gather the motivation to work hard and work relentlessly, and your performance will increase tenfold from here.

When you enter said program, you will THINK that you know what you want to do with your degree. Well guess what darling, you don’t. You will struggle for the first year or two to figure out your passions, and luckily enough, you will discover them.

And let me tell you that chasing your dreams will be so, so much more fulfilling than slaving away at something you don’t enjoy just because you think it will earn you more money, or that other people think is the right path. Nobody knows you better than you know yourself. Trust your gut instincts. The happiness that comes from following your passions and doing what you love will be something you wouldn’t trade for the world.

Hang in there, Joyce. Your world is about to change- you just don’t know it yet. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve.

How Much Do Looks Really Matter?

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As I learned in HR over this past week, apparently a heck of a lot.

We discussed prejudice and discrimination in the workplace and in company hiring policies, and we watched a video by ABC on their 20/20 series in which they conducted an interesting study on beauty. Several experiments were conducted in which two identically-qualified women and men were placed into the same situation, and the results were compared. The one difference was that one was deemed “attractive” and the other, “plain”. They were all actors playing the role, so I thought they were all decent-looking to begin with, but they had makeup artists really dramatize the differences.

  • In the first experiment, both the women pretended to have troubles with their car at similar locations and times, and stood against their car which was pulled over on the side of the road. The result: 12 people pulled over for the attractive girl, and many of them brought her gas, but only 2 people pulled over for the plain girl, and nobody offered to buy her gas.
  • In a similar experiment, they had the two women set up charity booths in a mall where they were to collect donations from shoppers. Both the women had similar traffic patterns, but when they counted the money, the attractive girl earned $90 (50% more), while the plain girl earned $60.
  • The men and the women had carefully curated resumes which reflected nearly identical skills and experiences, and were both sent in for the same job interviews with hidden cameras. The handsome male was treated very nicely and was offered the job in all of the interviews, but the plain male candidate was given very brief interviews and was either told that he’d get a call back later (which never came), or that there was no suitable role in the company at the moment. The handsome candidate was described as more competent and fit for the job, even though he didn’t say much more than “uh huh”, “I understand”, and other generic comments.
  • Same with the females: the interviewers were very gracious to the attractive one and made the job seem pleasant and relaxing (“Our company policy is a 45-minute lunch, but we are very lenient and relaxed around here”), but told the plain female that exceptional performance is expected from all workers, and that there is a very strict 45-minute lunch rule.
  • When discussing salaries, the plain female candidate was told that the starting salary was $16,000 – $18,000, but the attractive one was told “at least $18,000”. The show cited an economic study in that beauty is worth around $2,000 more in salary expectations.
  • 2 teachers were brought in as substitutes for a first grade class and asked which teacher they preferred. 27/28 students chose the attractive one.

I wish I could describe exactly how all the interactions went down, because it was truly shocking and even disturbing. When the unknowing subjects of the experiments said particularly ironic things, the class would basically groan and “oh my god” in unison.

As someone who grew up in a Western lifestyle, and felt more like the ugly duckling than the beautiful swan growing up, I am no stranger to the effects of beauty (or lack of). But I always thought that it only mattered in things such as dating and high school popularity, or in how Abercrombie and Fitch hires its sales staff. I did not expect this to occur in the most innocuous of everyday events, like simply donating to charity, or when somebody’s car breaks down on the side of the road and desperately needs help.

Even though we give A&F and similar companies a lot of backlash for their discriminatory practices, we can see that society is attracted to aesthetic appeal from a young age- just look at the 6 year old kids in the first grade class choosing the more attractive substitute teacher without a second thought. These kids aren’t intentionally trying to discriminate- I think we as human beings are wired to be gravitated towards beauty.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When I was watching the video, my heart sank. What about the 95% of us that don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models or have A&F-worthy washboard abs? We’ve been working so hard in school and life, trying to make something of ourselves, only to be possibly passed over in amazing opportunities because we don’t look like a magazine cover model? No wonder plastic surgery rates are skyrocketing globally. There is so much pressure to look perfect. Whatever happened to positive self and body image?

An environment in which it is expected that only attractive people are hired is not one that I would see myself thriving in. We discussed this in class. I value diversity and acceptance, and when going out into the workforce, will look for an organization whose values align with mine. While I, as an individual, cannot change society and human biology, I can do my part to be loving and accepting of all different kinds of people, cause god knows we need more of both in this world.

Beauty Essentials for School!

Now that school is back in full swing, I thought that I’d make a blog post about my beauty essentials for school specifically. It’s a stressful time for all of us students, and these products just help make things easier and brighten up my day. Most of these have been well-loved and trusted by me for years, so keep reading!

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1. First off: the most basic essential. Clear lip balm. Now I love my Burts Bees and have for years, but I picked up this Maybelline Baby Lips about a month ago because I wanted a lip balm with SPF, and I LOVE it! It’s so moisturizing and emollient, sits well on the lips, and smells like sugar and citrus fruits. Even if you’re going without makeup for the day, keeping your lips moisturized is important. Plus, it’s got SPF 20!

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2. Continuing with the lippies, this is my all-time favourite lip colour. And that’s saying something cause I am a lipstick hoarder. This is the Revlon Just Kissable Balm Stain in Honey. I received this as a gift last year, and I’ve loved it to death ever since. I even got quite a few of my friends hooked on this! It’s such a wearable, everyday MLBB (my lips but better) shade that is universally flattering on many skin tones, it has incredible staying power (it actually stains your lips without drying it out!), and it’s affordable. What’s not to love?

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3. Believe it or not, groomed eyebrows can make a big difference in your appearance, and especially in photos! Your brows frame your face and your eyes, and taking that extra minute to touch them up will make you look instantly more polished and put together. This is especially important if you’re going through company recruiting or networking sessions (commerce kids, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not just the suit that counts). My favourite brow wax is the ELF Eyebrow Kit. It comes with a little dual-ended brush for on-the-go touchups, but I prefer to use an angled eyeliner brush to apply this. It stays all day and best of all, it’s only $3! Definitely worth a try.

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4. This is probably my favourite thing out of all these products. The Boscia Super-Cool De-Puffing Eye Balm has been a lifesaver for a sleep-deprived student like me. Getting out of bed when you’ve barely slept is hard enough, but you can help ease the pain with this eye balm. Just swipe it on your undereye area (read: eye bags) and you will instantly feel this AMAZING COOLING, REFRESHING SENSATION. I don’t even know how to accurately describe it. It’s absolutely amazing and helps to really wake up your tired eyes, and the sensation lasts for about an hour for me. I’ve tried many undereye rollers but they all fall short compared to this. It’s a steep price at $36, but it’s worth it, and one tube will last you for ages! You will thank me during those inevitable zombie mornings this semester.

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5. I’ve stated in a previous post that I don’t really like concealers cause they tend to crease on me, especially in the undereye area. However, this Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer also doubles as an undereye concealer & brightener.

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It’s a sheer formula as you can see (I didn’t blend the swatch out at all), but it absolutely will not crease, and helps to brighten up those dark undereye circles from staying up all night studying. This is the only thing that has worked for me for years, and it never fails. So if you have problems with creasing, give this a try!

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6. Let’s say you’re running late but you still need to look nice and polished for something. The L’Oreal Magic Souffle Cream Blush in Plume is the perfect on-the-go blush to stash into your makeup bag. This matte pink shade will complement any makeup look, from a bare face to a smokey eye, and is so easy to use: Just lightly press your finger against the blush, dot it a few times on your cheeks, and blend with your finger. No fussing with brushes or powder fallout. Just a natural, healthy flush that brightens up your complexion!

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7. I’m really picky about hand creams, mostly because I don’t like lotions in general. They leave behind a sticky film and I am one to constantly wash my hands to feel clean. However, over the past year I’ve noticed that during the wintertime, my hands get really dry. This has never happened in the past, so I tried a bunch of hand creams until I finally came upon this one. The L’Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream is my HG, and this little tube has lasted me for ages! It’s so emollient and deeply moisturizes, but absorbs quickly into my skin and doesn’t leave any residue. A staple in my makeup bag!

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8. Okay. This is the one thing I can’t leave my house without. I have supremely oily skin, especially in the nose area, and have to blot twice a day usually. Shiny isn’t a good look on me. I’ve tried so many different types of oil sheets but I just keep coming back to this one. The Clean & Clear Oil-Absorbing Sheets does the job like no other. These especially come in handy when you have P.E. Class in high school, or you have to make an unexpected sprint for the bus or from class to class.

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They’re not actually papers, which is what most of them out in the market are, but blue films that actually soak up all the oil. Yeah I’m going to stop cause it’s kind of gross, that’s as much detail as I’ll go into. If you have oily skin, try these! They are a total lifesaver. I always have them around with me.

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9. I don’t know about you guys, but when I stress out over school, I simultaneously break out, and it sucks (my skin tends to be so nice during summer!). This is my favourite non-prescription acne treatment. The Clean & Clear Popped Pimple Drying Paste has really high reviews all over the Internet, and for good reason. You apply this before you go to bed, and when you wake up in the morning, your acne will be dried up and diminished, less inflamed, and just less prominent.

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It works especially well if you have a tendency of popping pimples. This will help minimize any scarring left behind and heal it quickly. I never pop pimples, but sometimes you can do so by accident (ie: scrubbing at your face too roughly with a washcloth). This is for bedtime use only, as it dries to a bright white colour (like the swatch above) and I don’t think anyone wants to walk around outside with this on their face.

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10. I am not usually big on perfumes, but I will always have a rollerball or atomizer stashed in my bag for emergencies (ie: P.E. class in high school, crashing at a friend’s place and not being able to shower, etc). I received the Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue EDT as a birthday gift from my friend, and I love the fresh, clean scent of this perfume! It’s very wearable for everyday and not overpowering.

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I was pleasantly surprised when I took off the cap and saw that it was a spray bottle, and not a rollerball! Rollerballs are a cost efficient way of trying new perfumes, but can be kind of gross (sweat can dilute the true scent of the perfume). Sprays are more hygienic and easier to use. This scent is sophisticated, understated, and clean, all of which I love. It won’t overpower the senses of the person sitting next to me, so it’s wearable for school as well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! I have wanted to post for quite some time, but have been ridiculously busy and each blog post takes a lot of time to create. If you swear by any products for the school year/wintertime, I would love to know! More beauty-related posts will be coming up soon, so stay tuned, and have a great school year!

Are Humans Conditioned To Toil All Their Lives?

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I write this because it’s a trait I observe in myself and a quite a few others.

I’ve been a student for all my life, so each summer I’ve been blessed with the gift of having time off.

HOWEVER, for as long as I can remember, I do something every summer. When I was in elementary school, I would go to Magee (a nearby high school) and take summer classes. For fun. Anything ranging from cooking to public speaking to photoshop. I always used the summer to learn something new. Also, as you may have picked up by now, I have an immense love of reading, so I participated in Vancouver Public Library’s summer reading club each year, and always completed the entire booklet and more. I have very fond memories of hauling a heavy bag of books to and from the library twice a week, and the excitement I always felt when I borrowed a new batch.

(Slight side track: people often ask me how I develop my writing skills- did I have an English tutor? No. I believe it was because I read so many books and novels when I was young, and that really set the foundation for a lifelong love affair with writing and reading.)

During high school summers, I would work on my RCM diploma (piano, music theory and history), volunteer a ton, work at various jobs, and take summer classes. Not one summer ever did I take fully “off”. I had to be doing something. Part of me always wishes that I could drop everything for two months and just go travel the world, but I know deep down that I would likely go nuts from lack of productivity. I get bored after two days off from work. I may complain about having too much work to do, but it’s so much better off this way than if I were doing nothing at all. I thrive on being busy. I’m currently working at two internships and a part time job, and I hold several different extracurricular positions at school. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I’m already a pretty mild case, if you put it into perspective. I know so many others who are hardcore workaholics. They’ll be working hard at many tasks during the school year, come out with top grades and amazing accomplishments, and spend their summers doing incredible things. They can’t go a day without being productive. They have a hard time taking a break or just sitting around doing nothing.

Which leads me to the question: Are humans biologically wired to toil all our lives? What is the meaning of life then, if we are constantly working towards a perfect ideal that we may never reach? We may reach our perfect ideal at the moment, but when we get there, there will be something else that we desire or desire to become. For example, let’s say you graduate and land your dream job at your dream company. But obviously now you’re on a whole different league. You need to climb up that corporate ladder. And hypothetically, let’s say you do, and even make it to CEO one day. As CEO, it’s a whole new ball game. You face so many new challenges you never knew existed before. Even though you think you’ve reached the top, there are yet numerous hurtles to overcome.

It’s a never-ending cycle. A never-ending struggle. And if all that we were meant to do with our time on Earth is work, then will we ever reap the rewards of our toil?

My Top 5 Ways to Destress and Relax

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Like most of the population, I am often prone to stress and anxiety, and suffer long days (and worse, nights) in front of a computer working or studying. As a working student, I completely understand how it feels like to be completely exhausted and drained after a long day, and never seeing the light of day because you’re always at work or school.

However, I do my best to carve out some time to relax and destress, even when I am in the midst of a crunch time. I know that it’s hard to give up even a minute or try to relax when you have deadlines coming up, but it’s crucial to keep a sound and clear mind so you can actually accomplish and do a good job at whatever you’re doing, and avoid completely burning out. Trust me, crashing from overworking yourself is so brutal, and always happens at the worst possible times (like in the middle of an exam! Yes it’s happened before).

Here are my 5 personal favourite ways to destress and unwind. They range from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on how much time I have.

  1. A face mask is my favourite quick fix way of unwinding after a long week. It feels refreshing, refines your skin, and it feels like you’re getting a spa treatment but for a fraction of the price. It takes 10-15 minutes tops, and helps to reset my mind and wind down for the night.Some of my favourites include:
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    Freeman Anti-Stress Dead Sea Minerals Mask, $4.99 at London Drugs
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    skoah aha mask, $35.00 at skoah.com

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  2. Exercise. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but a good workout actually takes the tension out of my body and puts me in an instant feel-good, relaxed state post-workout, shower, and meal. It’s literally the best feeling ever as I’m relaxing in my chair after I’ve done all three. Staying active helps to keep you healthy and in shape, sharpens your cognitive abilities, and improves the quality of your sleep. all of which are especially important during crunch times.

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  3. Retail therapy. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Go ahead, treat yourself after you’ve pulled through a particularly difficult or busy period. You deserve it! I actually feel my worries melt away after a successful shopping trip. Just don’t go too crazy with that credit card!

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  4. A good book. As a bookworm, I love to read and spend time in Chapters/Indigo, but I rarely have time to do so nowadays. So when I do get the chance, say post-finals, I will curl up with a novel and escape from the real world for a couple of hours. There’s nothing like getting lost in a good book and forgetting about your own troubles for a while. If you don’t like books, watching a few episodes of your favourite TV show also helps to take your mind off things.

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  5. Music and sleep. If I’m really pressed for time and can’t do any of the above, I will at least give myself a break when I’m on my commute home or before I go to bed, put in my headphones, close my eyes, and let the tension melt away from my body. I love chatting with friends while commuting, but it’s important for me to get in some me-time and just listen to my iPod, and music helps to calm me down and lull me to sleep. No studying. No texting. Just me and my music.

These are my favourite ways to destress- there are more, but the list would go on forever. I hope that I’ve at least helped remind you that it’s okay to take a break sometimes, and that stopping what you’re doing for a few minutes to rejuvenate won’t kill you. Happy relaxing!