My Own Boss

Lately, I’ve been telling myself, “I am my own boss. I am my own boss.” This isn’t exactly a revelation to me; I’ve been made to believe this by former employers, supervisors, and pretty much all of the important people in my life. I’ve actually been asked, “Who is your boss?” by a former manager. When I hesitated, he said,”You. You are your own boss.” I’ll never forget that. Yes, I control my destiny. Yes, I am the one who makes the executive decisions in my life. Yes, I am the hero of my story. Seems so straightforward, doesn’t it?

But when you take somebody so wide-eyed and optimistic as me, and put me into a professional situation where there’s a not-so-subtle hierarchy and a hostility towards that hierarchy, things change. Yes, I still believe that I am my own boss. But in a way, I’m not the only boss. It’s unfortunate in some respects but understandable and fair in others, so this can feel conflicting at times. I am the one who is ultimately making decisions that impact me (as well as the organization I work for, of course!), and so I must remember that in order to maintain my sense of freedom and independence – as well as my mental health and well-being. However, I have to play the game of power and politics and go through a series of tests and obstacles in order to get through a door I’ve been so used to opening for myself. It’s strange, to say the least.

And yet, it’s interesting to see “actual” adults playing this game and often acting like children when things don’t go their way. It seems as though you never really leave high school. It’s a sad truth, but it’s a truth nonetheless. And it’s a truth I have to be mindful of whenever I go about my day and interact with real people with real problems and real feelings. Dealing with people has somewhat changed compared to my previous work experiences, but the core and heart of it all has been untouched. And I am thankful for that. I am thankful for the wonderful people I get to meet and work with everyday, and for the amazing opportunities that I have in my role.

However, and I say this with a smile on my face and with compassion in my heart, I am The Boss. I am the one in control. I am the sole decider. I am the hero. And I’m not about to let a job change that.

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25

I read my birthday blog post from last year, and boy did I sound confused and unhappy. I was doing my best to make sense of what I was feeling, which is fine, but now I know what has changed for the better in the 365 days since that post.

This was the first birthday I’d been looking forward to in a long, long time. Maybe it’s the number, maybe it’s the relation to Adele’s latest album, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been saying to myself that I’m 25 in the weeks leading up to this day. It’s funny how people joke about this particular age and say that the quarter life crisis is looming, if not already happening. I’d say that I went through my “crisis” at 23 and 24. I did develop earlier than normal people, though. And I tend to re-evaluate everything in my life more regularly than most people I know.

But this birthday was filled with gratitude and love, which is a huge difference compared to last year. I didn’t feel entitled to be lazy or be doted on by family and friends. I just knew that I would be greeted and loved, and I did. I have been practicing kindness and gratitude for months and both came naturally today. It’s so strange how much one can change in a year. Strange, but beautiful.

I have achieved another year, and this year was full of other achievements in my personal and professional life. It felt like small infinities that were a part of and made up a larger infinity, and it was awesome.

Thank you to everyone who has loved me, supported me, shown kindness to me, and has made this world a more beautiful and not so scary place. ❤

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

I’m experiencing something that happens whenever I’m settled into a new job and going through the motions. I’m wishing for something better. As selfish and ungrateful as that can be, it’s something that I can’t help but feel whenever I know that whatever work I’m doing just isn’t enough. It kind of sucks.

I know what I want. I know what the ideal job would be. And I know that it probably doesn’t exist. I’m not sure whether it will ever exist. In a way, it’s fun to play around with those fantasies in my head. In a way, it keeps me going when I’m feeling stuck. It feels nice to know that I can still imagine better for myself.

However, it doesn’t really help the situation that I’m in. And the situation is that I don’t feel satisfied with the way that I’m living my life. I keep going back to 2014 and 2015 and reflecting on whatever job I had or what my lifestyle was like at the time and comparing how I had felt with each experience. And this is what I’ve realized: As secure as it was to have a job, as nice as it was to meet new people and learn new things, and as grateful as I was to have a source of income – I knew that I wasn’t deeply happy. And that was because I was so focused on what I didn’t like and therefore so stressed about the fact that I wasn’t doing anything about it. I wasn’t making my situation better.

On the flip side, as lost as I had felt when I was unemployed or working part-time or just volunteering – I was still happy. I was in control of how I spent my day, of what I did with my time. I was planning on going to events of all kinds, of writing more often, of exploring my personality and the depth of my passions. I was happy. But I still wasn’t satisfied.

And then there’s that spot in the middle, where I was employed and happy with the job, but unhappy with the pay or the environment, but was mindful of how I was going to make the most of what I had. I was happy. But again, I was unsatisfied.

So what does that mean? Am I never going to be satisfied with my life? With myself?

It can feel like a curse to never be fully satisfied with yourself and the life that you’re living. It prevents you from truly appreciating what you have and being grateful for the infinite amount of blessings you experience every day. But I’m taking this reflection as an opportunity to continue making the most of what I have, and being grateful for what I have. Believing that you are enough and that you are doing everything you can do be a good person is a very powerful thing.

 

The value of life

Soften Your Heart

I remember a conversation with one of my favourite high school teachers while volunteering with her elementary school archaeology program. She had been a reference for a summer internship with a non-profit that provides education about the history of WWII in east/southeast Asia. We were talking about how I would learn a lot about the atrocities during the war, and about the people it continues to affect to this day. “Harden your heart,” she had told me.

I didn’t realize at the time how much those three words would impact me throughout the course of my internship, and would continue to serve as a reminder of how I should live. During those summer months, I learned about genocide, sexual violence, human experimentation, racism, political ugliness, and gained an overall disturbing and disheartening picture of what human evil looks like. It was awful.

But it was also inspiring and humbling in ways I had not imagined. After learning about the evil, I would learn about the good: the efforts by international organizations and governments to bring about justice, peace, and reconciliation; the innate tendency that humans possess to be kind and to do the right thing; the willingness of people previously ignorant of these atrocities to work towards spreading awareness, tolerance, and hope. It was a phenomenal start to my journey as an activist.

Throughout this internship, I heard “harden your heart,” over and over again in my head. And I did try to harden my heart. But ultimately, it was impossible. How could I distance myself from what had happened and what is currently happening in the world? I understood that there was some truth and value to separating yourself from these kinds of things for your own mental health, but I was and still am unable to fully do that.

And I’m unable to do this in everyday life. Whenever I try to put up that tough/witty/authoritative front, it always fails me. And it’s a lesson that I have to learn over and over until it will finally stick. Being kind, being soft, being graceful in a world that pushes you to do the opposite is not only brave but necessary. At least for me. I know myself well enough by now that softness and kindness are a big part of my personality and bring more good than harm – as scary and vulnerable as it is.

And I think that’s why it’s so difficult to consistently soften. It’s just so damn scary. What if we crumble? What if our worldview and outlook on life are destroyed and cannot be mended? What if I change? What if I don’t? What if I don’t like what softening does to me?

Perhaps this is The Big Risk that people like myself have to take. Perhaps softening our hearts is the only way to live an authentic and fulfilling life. And perhaps that’s the way we’re meant to live.