(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

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2015 Again

It seems as though every social media website that you are a part of does a recap or annual report at the end of every December. WordPress just sent me my report, which was lovely and well put together. Facebook, on the other hand, just placed the photos that I’d posted that had the most likes. And most of those photos weren’t even of me or my loved ones, which was hilarious.

So, I’m going to do my own recap. It’s a bit of a “behind the scenes” post, since I didn’t really document these things here. Anyway, as promised, I’ve listed the highlights from this year – and there are a lot:

  • I shared this blog with my friends
  • I wrote blog posts every month this year
  • I got the push to do the above from Anita Wing Lee, my coach who had helped me so much with my career and mindset towards money, success, happiness, and fulfillment
  • I made more big purchases (such as the above) which have been worth it
  • Learned how to do EFT/tapping, meditate, and do an intuition reading
  • I had 3 jobs, all of which I at least really liked and helped me to grow
    • Between the first job this year and the unfulfilling job from 2014, the gap was around 4 months of unemployment and uncertainty
    • Between the first and second job this year was a nonexistent unemployment gap
    • Between the second and third (current) job this year was a 2 week unemployment gap – such a difference!
  • Did a lot of networking – calling, e-mailing, going to events
  • Volunteered for a great organization for 6 months and met wonderful people
  • Cooked dinner and did the laundry for my family for the first time
  • Watched Potted Potter, The Sound of Cracking Bones, Once, and Kinky Boots
  • Watched Good Will Hunting, The Fault in Our Stars, Ides of March, Big Hero 6, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Amélie, Into the Woods, The Artist, Romantics Anonymous, Django Unchained, the Star Wars series, Wet Hot American Summer, Jan Austen Book Club, Naruto: The Last, Age of Ultron for the first time
  • Watched Pitch Perfect 2, Inside Out, Mockingjay Part 2, and The Force Awakens in the theatre
  • Finished Parks and Recreation – 7 seasons of my favourite show. What an amazing workplace comedy that poked fun at politics but also emphasized the importance of being kind and working hard with people you love to do good
  • Watched Agent Carter, another great TV show which I will be following
  • Read some more books for the first time – not as much as last year, but still felt proud of myself
  • Ran my first running race – a 5k
  • Painted my nails and put on makeup more often, and overall made self-care more of a priority. This did wonders for my mental health and well-being
  • Discovered James Bay, an incredible musician
  • Continued with yoga, started running outside more often, and went to the chiropractor a few times
  • Went to High Park, Glen Rouge, and Algonquin Park for the first time – beautiful places where I discovered my love of hiking
  • Got home super late from a house party for the first time
  • Went to a cousin’s wedding and cried. (First time crying at a wedding!)
  • Actually dated!
  • Got signed Avatar: The Last Airbender comics
  • Happy and hopeful for my country’s leadership

So while Facebook didn’t really do a good job with capturing this year’s best moments, that’s okay. They can only do so much with the few photos I had posted. What matters is that 2015 was good to me, and I was in a good place in my life.

Here’s to an incredible 2016! ❤

2015

As this year is drawing to a close, I can’t help but become more reflective than usual on what 2015 has meant to me. I know that this has been the best year of my life (so far), because while I’ve experienced so many lows, the amount and quality of highs has been phenomenal.

I had 3 new jobs that challenged me and made me a better person. Two of these jobs involved working with kids and the second one involved working with youth leadership, which I loved. I didn’t expect to work with kids again, but I now realize that I needed to do this in order to really become confident in speaking in front of and giving directions to others.

My current job is permanent (or at least, not part-time or contract) and I love it. I get to work with elements of activism and social service, and it’s with young (kind of) people. Also, while this is definitely a downside, there are a lot of petty politics to deal with. But I feel like I’ve been preparing myself my whole life to reach this job and deal with the shit – because I definitely would not have been brave enough to speak up for myself and be okay with others not liking what I have to say.

I finally, finally reached that point where I became comfortable and confident enough to be myself. I am no longer nervous to go to interviews or to speak in front of crowds. I am no longer afraid of letting myself be vulnerable in front of people. I am loving my body and my physical appearance more.

Of course, I know myself well enough to recognize that these feelings of power and gratitude will go away. There will come a time when my courage will break and I will want to disappear into the ground so that I can avoid my feelings and the unknown. But that time, too, will pass. These things come and go in cycles. And hopefully those cycles will feature more positive and less negative. I’m still trying to re-frame my perspective and re-train my way of thinking.

And this is all okay. I know that I’ll continue to experience lows and highs, but 2015 has taught me to view the lows with optimism and the highs with gratitude. Just being present in those moments has been so helpful in getting me to calm my mind and spirit. So I think that the overall theme throughout this year was being able to experience the present for what it is. I honestly believe that this is the best way for me to live, since it seems to be working in my favour so far.

I’ll write another post with more fun and specific highlights of this year later, but I really wanted to take a moment to reflect on what 2015 has been to me. 🙂

Stronger than Fiction

I had fully intended to write every day as set out in my coaching program. I had made a conscious decision to write 750 words everyday. I don’t always hit the mark, but I at least aim for the target. I do write everyday, and it feels like such a natural and positive part of me and my daily routine. I look forward to writing, and I feel bad if I don’t do it.

This kind of writing is like a step above my regular journal writing. Yes, it’s reflective and introspective and personal. But I’m trying harder to fine tune my writing in little ways: I go for smoother transitions, I use more formal language (e.g. less swearing), and I make sure that every post has a cohesive theme. In those (and many other) ways, I have improved.

But my original intention had included the creative writing that I had done in my university class: poetry and short stories. Fiction. But I have only gotten around to doing it a couple of times. It’s probably because I prefer to write fiction by hand, and that takes longer. And writing fiction or poetry takes longer. It’s highly likely because I’m scared. I’m scared that it won’t be good, or that it won’t go anywhere. After all, I’m not going to publish bits and pieces of fiction here.

Or could I? I would feel weird posting something that isn’t finished. But let’s venture into that possibility… I could post some poetry here. I could post excerpts and then make commentaries on it. It would certainly be different from what I’m doing now.

Actually, what I’m doing now is different than what I had originally intended to do with this blog. I had wanted to post about how stories can strongly influence people, especially when it comes to empathy and peace-building. I was going to take examples from fiction and real life narratives and comment on how those specific stories are great examples of humans striving towards a better world. I could still do that, but talking about my own life has been so therapeutic for me.

And I think that’s why I have been posting so much about my life. Like I had set out to do in my post about my new year’s resolution, I had wanted to analyze myself like I would with a character as a way of treating myself like I would with my favourites. It’s a great way to be kind to yourself, and I encourage all of you to try it out. In many ways, it’s been more helpful than writing fiction. Yes, fiction can be an extension of yourself and can help you in its own way, but I’m not at that level just yet. I’m still trying to understand my own story. And yes, I’m prioritizing my own story, mostly because I had neglected it at times in favour of fictional characters. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not fair towards me. I deserve to analyze my story and do my best to understand myself. I deserve to be selfish every once in a while, especially if it’s for my highest good. And I damn well deserve to allow myself to act more like a hero who goes on adventures and ultimately wins.

I will try harder to write more fiction. But for now, I’m working on my own story.

Brave

I never really saw myself as a courageous person. I’ve always considered myself as shy, quiet, smart, hesitant, lazy, etc. But I always wanted to be that brave person, the one who would dive headfirst into the murky depths of mystery and emerge confident and inspired. I would always (and still do) dream up these scenarios where I would be doing something attention-grabbing and cool and fun and people would see me in a good light – well, a better light than I would see myself. Always a Hufflepuff, dreaming of becoming a Gryffindor.

But let’s change that! Hufflepuffs are brave, too! Their whole house stayed to fight during the Battle of Hogwarts, and not because it was the cool thing to do. It was the right thing to do. (J.K. Rowling said it herself.) And doing the right thing can be one of the most courageous things that you can do.

So I’m going to do something that I’ve never tried before. I’m going to rewrite my story. I’m going to rewrite it in such a way that I am portrayed as a brave young woman.

Here are bits and pieces that I’m going to reword and re-evaluate so that I see myself in a more positive light:

1. I quit my cushy job after 6 months simply because I didn’t want to do it anymore: This is actually something a Gryffindor would do, now that I think about it. I didn’t want to stay seated in front of a computer and be on the phone all day, and I certainly didn’t want to not do anything about helping others who desperately need it. I wanted to find and follow my passion, and I knew that working at that job would not help me with that at all. So, in leaving something that was comfortable in pursuit of something that was quite the opposite, I showed guts.

2. I took that job in the first place: I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Even applying to the job seemed intimidating, and I was not used to the big, cubicle-filled office space that I had first encountered at my interview. And when I met the other hires during training – I felt like an incompetent idiot. I consider myself brave for sticking through all of this, for learning about the legal system, for learning how to actually do my job, and for dealing with the difficult clients. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I had no idea how much I could more than handle it.

3. I changed my major from international studies to sociology nearly 4 months into my first year of undergrad: This was another change I made in order to pursue something that I loved. Well, not really “loved.” I knew I would be happier with sociology than with international studies. I had always felt lost and upset after every international studies class that I had. The concepts seemed so distant from me that I had no personal connection with the material, the professor was really intimidating, and I had to read all of these texts by mostly old, white men. (The texts by old, white men thing is unfortunately hard to avoid, as I found out later on.) And so I shifted gears and I did it early on, which I am proud of.

4. I told my first crush how I felt: Which, unfortunately, set the tone for the rest of my life up until now, and not in the way you would expect it to. So, it was the end of grade five, and I would be moving to another elementary school across town. I knew that this would be my only chance to tell the guy how felt. I foolishly and romantically thought that he would feel the same way, and we would start a prepubescent long-distance relationship… or something like that. I was 11. Anyway, it was a Sunday morning when I messaged him on MSN with those three dreaded words: “I like you.” And was immediately rejected. Obviously, I was crushed. I was embarrassed. I lied about everything the next day at school. And after that, whenever I felt so much as an inkling of infatuation or curiosity for another guy, I would squash it. I would deny that I felt that way, or I would not tell anyone or lie that I didn’t have a crush, or I would retreat to my thoughts and my journal and tragically pine for the poor dude. This continued throughout high school and university. I honestly hope that I’ll be brave enough to say those three words again, but until then, I’ll remember that one act of fearlessness that I had at 11. (Even if it was behind a computer screen.)

5. I shared this blog with my friends and am starting to post more frequently: I always wrote for myself. It was a therapeutic tool that I used to make sense of whatever I was feeling at the time, and a way to keep my thoughts and secrets to myself without feeling the need to burst with emotion. But recently, I wanted to do more with my writing, and see where it takes me. Yes, I do have dreams of getting published and having a big(ger) audience, but these kinds of dreams require me to work harder and be consistent. Also, writing (and any kind of art) is such an intimate and revealing way to connect with others. It’s this kind of vulnerability that I would hold at arm’s length (and would make me wish my arms were longer) and ignore. But now? Now, I’m diving headfirst. I’m sharing my thoughts with you, and I hope that you get something out of it. And I know that I’m brave for doing so.

Treat Yo’Self!

I’ve never made any serious New Year’s resolutions. I just vowed – actually, just hoped – to be a healthier, more active, kinder, smarter, and overall better person. Which isn’t bad. Everybody should strive to be better. But I wasn’t really that motivated to make a positive change within, aside from December 31st/January 1st and sometimes Lent.

But now, after thinking about everything that’s happened and what I want for myself – and after a restless night of thinking about everything which is all too common for those of us trying to sleep – I decided to actually make a real New Year’s resolution and vow to treat myself better.

It was all inspired by this Tumblr post by user romanovvidow:

“Treat yourself the way you treat your favorite characters. Look into your back-story to understand your current plot. Sympathize with yourself. Recognize your flaws, and appreciate your strengths. Defend yourself. Cheer yourself on when you go into battle. Appreciate every relationship you make and always look for hidden potential. You’re the protagonist in your story. You’re the main character. You’re the hero.

Treat yourself like one.”

Isn’t that amazing? Of course you should treat yourself with the same devotion and respect you have for your loved ones, real or fictitious. Actually, especially fictitious. It’s what a lot of people do: we love these characters like a devotee would their deity, and like a parent their child. It’s an interesting relationship, actually. We call these characters our idols and our babies, and we memorize their back stories and defend them from evil naysayers. There are a lot of layers to this love, so why not mimic this and apply it to ourselves?

And so, my New Year’s resolution is to treat myself like my favourite characters.

I will analyze and understand my past in order to make sense of my present and look into the future. I will create fun and meaningful head cannons that will explain why I do what I do and what makes me me.

I will look at my relationships and never take for granted my loved ones. I will nurture the relationships I share with my most beloved. I will improve what needs to be improved. And as for those that aren’t helping anybody or can be let go… I will let go. And it will be okay. Because I know that this is meant to be and everything happens for a reason.

I will be able to connect the dots and see how I have come to where I am today (like how Ted Mosby and Tracy McConnell meet, and hopefully with a better ending because I’m still not quite over that).

I will revel at my strengths, come to understand and appreciate my weaknesses, and marvel at how beautifully human I am. Because I am a rounded character with a real personality and a unique story.

And if I do something wrong or (this next word makes me cringe) problematic, then it will shape me, just like everything else does. It will add to my character. It will teach me (and hopefully you) a lesson. It may not be forgiven; it will not be forgotten. And that’s okay. Flawed characters are the most beloved, because they’re relatable. They show us what people are really like, and that good things can happen despite everything. And that people will love you no matter what.

I remember doing a vinyasa flow class at my yoga studio, and the instructor talking us through a pose. She reminded us that we are so busy with the universe around us that we forget to look inside and marvel at the universe within. Those words struck something within me and I actually teared up. I was so moved at the idea that there is something so precious and vast inside of me, inside of all of us. I was reminded of this idea again when I was reading Eat, Pray, Love, and Elizabeth Gilbert was meditating in an ashram in India. She said that her first spiritual encounter with the divine felt like something inside of her was pulsating throughout her body. And she explained that these experiences that happen while you’re in a meditative state are encounters with the divine. And this got me thinking… I want to have a more spiritual connection. With what or with whom, I don’t know yet.

So, how does that relate to my resolution? Well, treating myself like my favourite character means that I will keep myself in good shape (yoga). I will know simultaneously that there is something much bigger out there and that I am full of untapped potential (spirituality).

I could go on with this resolution and what it means to me, but unravelling every special little knot that makes me who I am will take years. Because that’s probably how long this resolution will last. Treating myself like my favourite character will be quite the journey, and I am so thrilled to start.