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.

Shipping

We’ve all done it, whether it’s with people we know in real life or with fictional characters. We notice how they act around each other, or how they would act around each other, and we come up with this perfect idea: they should get together. They should go on a date. They should get married. They should have sex. They should love each other, dammit. Such is the train of thought of a shipper.

I suppose the first time I shipped characters together would be Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. I was 8 years old. A year later, I was shipping Ron and Hermione. Things pretty much escalated from there – or went downhill, depending on how you view shipping.

I’ve been on both sides; I’ve had conflicting emotions regarding shipping. Yes, it makes a growing series more exciting and creates really thoughtful and engaging discussion about literature and media – if not correctly. If not, then what we have are shipping wars. People can take their ships too far and will only immerse themselves in a story for the prospect of two (or more) characters falling for each other or doing the do. Which doesn’t really make a well-rounded, engaged fan. Ships can make or break a story, depending on what happens to the characters and how you handle whatever happens. More often than not, I’ve been on I guess the winning side.

But what if a ship does ruin a series for you? What if a toxic relationship comes to fruition and makes you worry about the people influenced by the story? What if a character dies in your ship and the other spends the rest of their lives in regret and loneliness? Or worse – what if the other character doesn’t care?

And what does this mean for you? How do you cope with this? How much time do you spend mulling over everything, thinking about any foretelling signs, dealing with your feelings? I’ve been there, and it absolutely sucks. (The ships were from Naruto and HIMYM, if you’re wondering.) It changes your view of the series and its creators. Sure, you still appreciate everything that you’ve learned and felt from the story, but there’s that bitter aftertaste that you just can’t ignore. Perhaps it’ll just be an aftertaste, and will eventually just become part of the experience instead of The One Thing That Ruined Your Favourite.

And hopefully, it will come to pass, you’ll find other things and people in life that give you hope and inspiration and meaning, and you’ll move on. I have.

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.

2014 Again

I’m definitely in a better mood and more positive mindset to talk about what was good things happened this year. Here we go!

– I worked my first job out of university (12 months after last exam, 9 months after graduation and after I started actively looking) and learned a lot (and got paid well)
– I’ve volunteered at two organizations I’ve wanted to work for since 2012. And I’ve been promoted twice in one of those organizations!
– I saw We Will Rock You
– I started watching Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine
– I found out my Style Statement is Graceful Legend
– I found out my Element is writing and helping others
– I submitted some of my work for publication
– I developed a short story
– I read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo, and Yes Please, by Amy Poehler, which I believe are equally great and will make me a better person
– I read more in general
– I developed my career and career goals through research and networking. I also bought a program in November called Zero to Network to help with my career, and it’s been helping a lot so far
– I’ve been to several interviews and getting more confident in selling myself
– I started to practice yoga in November and it’s been so great to find a form of exercise that I actually like and will want to continue with
– I met a lot of wonderful people through work, volunteering, and just going out
– How I Met Your Mother ended – While I may not want to watch the entire series again, I do really value what I have learned from the show. I learned that it was okay to struggle with finding a job and finding love. I learned that there is a reason why it takes years for someone to find the love of their life. I may not know what the reason for my situation is, but the show did help me be more patient and understanding.
– Naruto ended – thank goodness it did! Because I thought that the story was dragging along. It was bittersweet to read the final chapters, though. The manga and the anime motivated me to be more courageous and frankly to exercise more (those ninjas were freakishly strong).
– Legend of Korra ended – the finale wasn’t as epic as the one for Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I did appreciate the show overall. If you’re looking for a show with strong, empowered women of colour, this is it.
– The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies capped the end of the Middle Earth movies by Peter Jackson and company. Another end of an era. I’m so glad that my dad introduced me to these movies; I remember him renting The Fellowship of the Ring from Rogers and me becoming totally engrossed in the story.
– And I watched for the first time: Dead Poets Society, The Godfather, 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Pulp Fiction, Love Actually, and Spirited Away

I’m glad that I took the time and made the head- and heart-space for remembering the good things that have happened to me this year. It goes to show that once we realize just how much the positive outweighs the negative, our lives are richer and more fulfilling.

Thank you, 2014, and here’s to a better 2015!

2014

I just want this year to end. Personal and fandom-related things have made 2014 pretty awful:

– My grandfather died – I have never cried so much in my entire life
– I was unemployed, got a cushy job that was not meant for me, quit the cushy job, became unemployed again and am now wondering what comes next
– How I Met Your Mother ended – the finale kind of killed my romantic optimism
– Naruto ended – bittersweet, since it was a big chunk of my adolescence
– Legend of Korra is going to end soon – an amazing show that was not treated well by Nickelodeon

The first two things are enough to make me want to fast-forward to next year. The fandom stuff didn’t make 2014 truly awful, but since those shows/stories meant a lot to me, I’m sad to see them go.

Hopefully by the end of December I’ll have something more optimistic to say about 2014.

Believe It!

Free-writing again. This time, it’ll feel interrupted since I’m listening to music of Part 1 of Naruto.

Oh, how I’ve loved this show and the manga. I kind of can’t believe how many hours (which have probably amounted into days, weeks, months) of watching the anime, reading the manga, reading fanfiction, looking at fanart, and browsing through random people’s Tumblrs about it. Such a great story.

And it’s best not to get too bogged down in the negatives of the story (ask me about How I Met Your Mother, and I’ll have a different opinion). It’s like with people, at least for me: treat them fairly, with understanding and compassion, and do criticize them. Because when you love something, you’ll do and say what you think is best for them. And you criticize out of love. Because you love the thing or the person so much. Right?

Anyway, I’m feeling nostalgic because the manga is ending in a couple of weeks. It’s run for 15 years, which is wow, amazing. It’s hard to believe, and at first I was feeling indifferent about it, but it has taken up so much of my life, and for good reason. You know I love a good story. And as flawed as Naruto was, I still can’t help but acknowledge how it’s left an impact on my life. For the better, I think. The music, for one, is great for working out and even for studying (I can’t help but remember using it to study for a psychology test once). You end up admiring the intelligence and creativity put into that world and its characters. Especially the main character. Naruto has been a positive force in my life: he’s optimistic, resilient, confident, and compassionate. Definitely in an out-of-this-world kind of way, but it’s nonetheless admirable.

When I started writing this, I was feeling upset that my dad said I needed to be more flexible when it came to the job search. Honestly, I am flexible. Just not in the way he sees it – or in the way his generation or cultural/socioeconomic group sees it. I’ve read before that there are three ways to see work: a job, a career, or a calling. I’m definitely the third. How can I not be? I feel existential despair whenever something doesn’t go the way I planned or wanted in my career path, and I have to love the work that I do. I can’t settle for less on this, or I’d be lying to myself.

It’s definitely hard to go through life like this. I’ve been everywhere this year (which seriously just needs to end) when it came to what I wanted to do next: Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies, Bachelor of Education, Master of Arts in Social Justice Education, Post-Graduate Certificate in International Development or Project Management or Alternative Dispute Resolution, and of course, anything in Creative Writing. It’s been stressful and unsettling. And it’s mostly because I’ve been confused about what I want and what I should do. My career counsellor told me that I should trust myself in making these kinds of decisions. I have felt confident before in what I wanted to do and what I was meant to do, but now… Do I still believe it?