Wait for It

On Tuesday, my dog got sick, and I got scared. It was digestive issues: she had diarrhea and was vomitting a bit. She was never sick like this before in her 5 years of life, so I got scared. I didn’t know what was happening and couldn’t really help her other than sitting by her side while she tried to get some sleep.

She’s okay now. But the next day, while she napped by my room after taking the medicine the vet had prescribed, I got hit with the lovely realization that her health and well-being was always her number one concern. It was so easy for her to just sleep off the pain and sickness. What a nice life, my family likes to say about pets.

But the thing is, my family jumping to take care of her was really nice to see, and again reaffirmed the signs I’ve been seeing about slowing down and prioritizing self-care. I get so caught up with work, volunteering, projects, ideas, outings, conversations, and life in general – and I get pretty damn excited about it – that I forget to slow down and collect myself and be still in the chaos and passion. I’m working so hard and am so focused on an ideal or end goal that I forget that life is always full of surprises and won’t always give us what we want and when we want.

Perhaps it’s a 21st century, first world millennial problem, but instant gratification and our fast-paced lifestyle has made us expect for everything and everyone to be ready at the slightest tremble of our fingertips. Which is ridiculous and rude, if you think about it. We are all moving at our own pace, and we shouldn’t compare our speed or direction to another person’s. Our journeys are our own, and we often forget how precious and significant they are.

I am quite guilty of taking my personal journey for granted. I see my peers and family and friends moving at different paces and taking on their own struggles, but I usually focus on the ones who are relentless in their race to riches, whatever these riches are. Looking at these people, I yearn to be as energetic, as focused, as smart, as non-stop. And that’s where the stress starts. Another lesson that needs repeating is to stop comparing myself to others, to continue to believe in myself – because that is where the answers lie and where I get my strength and validation. I also need to trust myself and the process, and wait for it, whatever “it” is.

Before, whenever I heard the words “wait for it,” I would get reminded of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. Now, I get reminded of the song from Hamilton. A much better pop culture reference, in my opinion. It’s a song that will likely resonate with other 20-somethings as we go about our own journeys. Aaron Burr is the foil to Alexander Hamilton, and compares himself to Hamilton in the song, but I think that there can be a healthy balance. We’re not completely alone in life, after all. We just have to figure out how community affects our sense of individuality and well-being. And we must remember that we are inimitable and are able to control how we go about our journeys.

Let’s go.

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Because I Care

I wrote last year in The Opposite of Apathy about how I care a lot about a lot of things. That’s just who I am. It’s been a lifelong struggle of figuring out how to balance letting this passion lead me and letting it be. Notice how I didn’t say “letting it go,” or “leaving it behind.” I know myself well enough that there is no off switch for my feelings or passion, that I cannot simply just let it go, as much as I want to. And I have wanted to let my feelings go and disappear so often that it’s become a part of the cycle: I care a lot, I become disappointed or get rejected, I feel hurt, I want out of this body and out this personality, I step back, I heal, I become myself again. It’s been difficult to navigate at times, but what usually brings me back to a sense of peace with myself is the realization that this is who I am and that I should accept it for what it is.

I’ve gone through this cycle so many times over the past few months, and during the healing process, I’ve come to realize the beautiful things about this part of me. The enduring empathy, the fiery passion, and the full-blown rainbow of feelings.

I have realized that not everybody cares as much as me. Yes, it hurts. Yes, I feel misunderstood and sometimes lonely as a result. But – and this is actually something that my best friends have told me – not everybody is capable of caring this much. This is actually quite rare to witness in another human being. What I have may just be a superpower. And it’s something that is completely mine.

I’m pretty sure I’m classified as a Highly Sensitive Person, one who just feels the world and is acutely and terribly aware of other people’s energy and emotions – including their pain. Which is why I sometimes want to fix other people’s problems and inspire them to reach new heights. I know that they’re capable of doing it, and I hate to see people settle for lives that are less than the ones they are capable of living. It actually hurts to see that happening. I see it all the time with my family, friends, colleagues, and people I meet every day. I don’t understand why they’re not going for their dreams, why they’re not even trying, and (God forbid) why they don’t even dream in the first place.

The fact that I feel all of this means that my line of work is something that I take seriously (in hopefully the right away. Life’s too short to be taken too seriously, after all). I want to do well, to do good, to make a positive difference. And I can frame it so that I am actually doing this every day, and I probably am. But I know that I am capable of doing more. I know that I am meant for more. And this, my friends, is the source of my stress and pain. I feel stuck in my life, and I’m constantly in the aforementioned cycle of caring and hurting and healing – and this is making me feel like I’m the one who’s settling for her current situation. But I know that I’m not! I’m constantly striving for a better me, because I know that she’s in reach.

Perhaps, then, the stress and pain is coming from this constant struggle in becoming this person. Existential, metaphysical growing pains, if you will. I have actually felt impatience with my situation, which is not good. I need to learn to be as caring and empathetic and sensitive to myself as I am with others. Perhaps this whole “caring too much” thing should be more directed at myself.

So, because I care about my well-being and want to become the best version of myself as possible, I’ll do my best to show as much compassion and empathy to myself as I do to others.

My Self-Help Phase is Not Over

I have to laugh at past Camille and her blog post. She really did believe that she was done with looking for inspiration and help in other places, that she was fine with her life and would be okay living out her adventures. Not that she was wrong back then, no. She really was able to find happiness and inspiration within, which is an incredible achievement in itself. But this was seven months ago.

I’m back in that self-help state now. Relationship-related grief, career-related confusion, and life in general have combined to test me in ways I never would have thought possible. In a way, I guess it makes sense for these things to happen. I turned 25 this year, quarter-life crises are a thing, and most of all, I’m learning and yearning to grow and evolve as a person. There’s a saying that the lesson repeats itself until it is learned, and boy do I need to learn them.

Here are some lessons that need repeating:

You are enough. You are a complete person on your own. You don’t need to seek others’ approval or to prove anything to anyone. The ones who matter will love and support you no matter what. And they are the ones worth seeking out.

Hold onto the people who inspire you to be yourself, to be a greater version of yourself, to reach new heights and forgotten corners of your being that you neglected or forgotten had existed.

Let go of the people who do the opposite of lifting you up, inspiring you, and loving you. Do not even let them take space in your head; they do not deserve to be there. Clear that shit out, yo.

On that note, treat your head and heart as space for the things and people who actually matter to you. Even if it hurts. And it will. It will hurt when they don’t feel the same way, or don’t care to the extent that you do. You care a LOT, a frightening amount, actually. Not everybody shares that superpower, so please be as patient and kind as you can with others. Importantly, be kind to yourself (more on that below).

Your conceived weaknesses are not just your strengths; they are your superpowers. Your capacity to care, empathize, and feel can often be too much for you and others to handle, but this is who you are. This is actually a gift to the world, which can be a scary, violent, awful, evil place. Believe it or not – actually, believe it, please believe it – you bring a special kind of light to the world, a light that is your own. Don’t let others try to dim or block or turn it off. They’re probably confused or scared, and may just need it the most.

Self care is something you’ve been hearing a lot of this past year. Please make this a habit. And not just the little, superficial things like painting your nails or having another Old Fashioned. Self care includes big, spontaneous things like that trip to Chicago you had booked in less than 10 minutes with no thought whatsoever. Self care includes little, important things like making sure you drink enough water and talk to your family. Self care includes the big, important things like saying no to extra work or re-evaluating your career choices. Self care can be tough. It can be overlooked. But please don’t take it for granted. If you treat yourself now the way you will definitely treat the love of your life, you will be so grateful that you took the time to use your superpowers on yourself.

You’re not done growing. The moment you believe that you don’t need to learn anything or that you’ve seen it all, is the moment you revert back to being naive and selfish. Look around, and see how life doesn’t work that way. You will always be surprised. You will always embark on new adventures. You will always be curious and in awe of how life works, and actually works in your favour. Be grateful for this.

 

Well, I’ll definitely be writing more often here. Of course I’d be back. Reader, if you’re going through anything like I am, we’re in this together. Allons-y!

Unconditional

This article called “Maybe You Don’t Know What Love Is” really made me think about the kinds of relationships I currently have in my life, and the kinds of relationships that I want. The author makes a distinction between “conditional” and “unconditional” relationships. Conditional relationships aren’t truly based in love; there’s a give and take that is inherently selfish, scared, and insecure. They’re kind of like the relationships you brag about: my girlfriend has a kickass job, my dad gives me whatever I want, my colleague is always there to help me. And while it’s not exactly wrong to sing the praises of those people in your life, you have to ask yourself: Are they in my life for this one reason, or because we genuinely love each other?

When I first read the article, I was worried because I wasn’t sure which of my relationships (family, friends, romantic, professional) would pass the test. Do I really care about these people? Do they really care about me?

Thankfully, my closest relationships seem to be unconditional rather than conditional. Unconditional relationships are based in truth, empathy, and patience. Basically, love at its core. When you are in an unconditional relationship, you and the other person care about each other. You’ve peeled back the layers of deceit and armour and see each other for who you really are. And you don’t run away. You stay. You help them, you care for them, you talk to them. You love them.

What I found to be interesting, though, is that what I had learned from networking and my professional experiences is that a lot of relationships are conditional, and are the norm. What is up with that? Is that why so many people don’t feel satisfied or happy with their jobs? Is that why there’s a lot of tension, gossiping, drama, and flat out hatred in my current workplace?

I think so. And it’s sad.

While I can’t necessarily change work culture, I can at least make sure that I’m aware of how I’m treating others – conditionally, or unconditionally.

My Self-Help Phase is Over

At this time last year, I was exploring many professional and personal interests: volunteering, working, networking, writing, etc. The professional and the personal got mixed up quite a bit, but I was happy that it did. It meant that I would find all of these fulfilling in some way. But, looking back, this was just part of the self-exploration and self-help phase I had put myself in for the better part of a year and a half.

I had read books about how to find your passion and to design a life that suits your authentic self. I watched videos and documentaries about personal truth and attracting what you most want in life. I took on a career/personal coach who kept me accountable for working on my goals. And it all made perfect sense to be that kind of person for the year and a half: explore, question, be kind to myself, be true to myself.

But now? Well, I’m still exploring and questions. I’m still being kind and true to myself. But I’ve shed the protective layer that allowed for all of these self-help and self-improvement resources to protect and guide me. They were my support system, kind of like tools that help people move about their daily lives. I don’t need these now. I’m strong and confident enough to stand on my own two feet and to move at the pace that I want, without fear of stumbling or falling over. Because I know that I’m able to pick myself up.

Not that I won’t deny these supports whenever I need them. It’s just that because I’ve grown so much over the past couple of years, I don’t need to schedule my day to include career growth. I have a full-time job that allows for that in such a way that I’m gaining new skills and putting myself out there. I also don’t need to constantly learn about how my mindset is holding me back. I feel at peace with my mind and know that our relationship is now a positive one.

So goodbye to self-help blogs, books, movies, and coaching programs – of course I’m grateful for them, as they’ve helped me transform into who I am today – but now’s the time to focus on new and exciting things.

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.

(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

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. 🙂

The Opposite of Apathy

Growing up, I cared a lot about pretty much everything. I cared about being a good daughter, sister, student, classmate, friend, and person. I cared about school and getting good grades and pleasing everyone. I wanted everyone to like me.

Now that I’m witnessing firsthand (yet again) how young people think that it’s cool to not care about anything, I’m becoming confused and frustrated. It’s like high school all over again, except I’m the adult and (this is a stretch) the teacher. Now that I’ve grown more confident and sure of myself, caring “too much” is something that I am proud of being. So it’s really interesting to see the gap between people who think it’s cool to be apathetic and people who think it’s cool to be empathetic. We do our best to meet halfway, and sometimes we both get there. Sometimes, we don’t. And I’m learning to be okay with that – which might be another aspect of becoming even more empathetic, or at least patient and understanding.

Working at this particular summer camp has been transformational in a way that I would not have expected. I seem to be surprising myself a lot this year. I’ve been discovering just how patient and understanding and empathetic I can be. And – get this – creative, out-going, open, and well-spoken. Younger Camille would not have believed that she would come to love speaking in front of other people, let alone leading other people and wanting more of that kind of role.

Another thing that surprised me as a result of working at this camp is how much I’ve come to care about the campers. I want them to do well in life. I want them to come to camp everyday, even (and perhaps especially) if they don’t want to. I want them to become genuinely good people who will make a positive impact on the world.

This was hard for me to accept. I had grown weary of the daily routine of programming and engaging the campers, and putting so much energy and emotion into the job. I had wanted to just do the work and never see those campers again. And, of course, I was mistaken.

I’ve pretty much stopped wondering why I care so much. I’ve accepted that the reason is simply because it’s who I am. I’m always going to care about others and care for others. I’m not going to stop being invested in their personal development. I’m going to continue being in that role of a parent, counsellor, mentor, boss, leader, you name it. And if people have a problem with that, then too bad. I’ll eventually make them like me and want to do well in life. 😉