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!

That’s Life

A lot of shit has happened between my last blog post and now. A lot. Some good, some awful, some terrifying, some exhilarating. Personally, politically, locally, globally… a lot has happened. History has been made. And it’s been a ride.

I think that the overall theme of this year has been extreme living: the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Friends, family, world leaders, citizens, all of us, have strongly felt something. Whether we have experienced love, heartbreak, loss, confusion, exhaustion, defeat, rejection… it’s all a part of life. And I’ve learned that we are all resilient and passionate enough to keep going back to the things that bring us joy and fulfillment, knowing all too well that we could be torn down again. And again. And again.

And yet, we keep going. We push to think higher, feel deeper. We strive to be the greatest. We act like heroes, even just for one day. Because one day can make a difference. We know this. And damn it, we are optimists and we want the best that life can give us. And we work hard to make sure that we get what we deserve.

I’ve said this before: I’ve had to fight for my happiness. For the past few months, and especially the last 30-odd days, I have put more into this fight than I thought was possible. The saying goes that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. What if life hands you a pile of shit? Do you ignore it, hoping it will go away? Do you toss it somewhere else, hoping that somebody else will deal with it? Or do you sift through it, hoping to find the rich fertilizer that will bring life to whatever metaphorical garden you are growing? (Because when life hands you shit, you deal with it, because it’s yours to handle. Sorry.)

Indecent expressions aside, I have to say that these past few months have been interesting and wild and revealing. If I’ve realized anything, it’s that no matter what is thrown at me, I can rise above it and be a better me. Because life is worth it.

We’re halfway through 2016. Let’s make the other half worthwhile.

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. ❤

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. 🙂

A Spiritual Gangster’s Paradise

I bought a yoga mat that’s eco-friendly. I bought a yoga mat bag that was made from a sari. I consider myself mindful. I believe that focusing on your breath is helpful in more ways than one. I bought a freaking green juice the other day.

Should I be surprised with myself that I’ve become the kind of person who practices yoga and meditation? Is it too far of a stretch for me to realize that I actually like thinking about humanity and our relationship with the universe?

I’m still not quite sure. All of this is new to me. I started to practice yoga in November because my massage therapist basically said I have weak back muscles. I started to practice meditation around February because my career coach said that it would help me on my journey. Turns out that both ladies were right, and both yoga and meditation have helped me in ways I never even thought of.

And maybe this whole not-thinking-about-how-spiritual-I-am thing is kind of counter-intuitive of actually being spiritual? I mean, being spiritual means looking at life in a thoughtful, mindful way. And I haven’t had a meta-mindful session about being spiritual, so that’s interesting. Does that make me a spiritual gangster?

The Jacksons of Sporting the Right Attitude think so. It sounds like a spiritual gangster to them is somebody who does all of the above and doesn’t care what others think. It’s somebody who skips practice because they’re just not feeling it today. It’s somebody who rejects what society has in store for them and proceeds to be their own badass self. Which is awesome.

It’s definitely something to work on. I’m still new to this yogi lifestyle, and with such transitions, I tend to feel like a fraud until I get comfortable enough to not care. I guess I’ll eventually get to that spiritual gangster’s paradise someday.

 

Positive Projection

Being optimistic and thinking positive have been things that I’ve worked on for my whole life to the point where I can confidently say that I can embody them. We all hear words of advice such as “seeing the glass as half full,” “cloud with a silver lining,” and such.

This past week, even though I had dreaded going to work, didn’t feel productive or confident – at one point I didn’t even want to get out bed – I experienced kindness, positivity, gratitude, progress, and love. It was so unexpected and amazing to know that God or the universe or people in general had my back and were working to help me out. I know that it can be hard to believe that this can happen to everyone, but I honestly feel like it’s possible.

All of this has been a build up of learning how thinking positive will bring positive things. If you’ve seen The Secret, you’ll know that this is all about the law of attraction: your thoughts become things. I never truly considered how powerful the law of attraction can be (and have scoffed at how fluffy and new age this idea was – and look at me now), but with the little things in my life, I’ve seen it happen. Work went well, I wasn’t late for something, my skin looked good, I networked more, I wrote more often, my relationships were in good shape… all of these things have contributed to life being pretty damn sweet right now.

I recognize that this happiness and feeling of peace won’t last forever. It actually won’t last for the next week, I predict. And that’s okay. I know that we can all find our way back to happiness if we truly want it and will work for it. The bad stuff will find its way out.

Dear Me

I realize that the #DearMe campaign was for International Women’s Day, but I still wanted to write a letter to myself because I want to see just how much I’ve grown and how happy my younger self would be to know that. So here goes:

Dear Me,

You will be happy to know that future you is happy, right now, in this moment. Future you tries your best to be present in the moment, to be happy with what you have while wishing for that happiness to intensify. You might not understand this right now, but you will.

You’re worrying about a lot of things right now: school, grades, the future, boys, fitting in, and allowing yourself to just be.

You’re gonna laugh, but school will become the last thing on your mind in the future. You’ll have other things that are actually worth your time: work, writing, spending time with family and friends, and educating yourself on things that matter.

You might hate to hear this, but you will receive a C during your first year of university. It will undoubtedly crush your spirit, but you’ll still be alive. In fact, that C will propel you to choose courses that you will actually like. You’ll even learn that grades should take a backseat, especially since you’re not going to grad school (spoiler alert).

You’re not going to work for the UN. In fact, you’ll lose interest in geopolitical problem-solving altogether – and realize that you were never that interested in the first place. You’ll be focused on other ventures, like non-profits who prioritize empowering youth, or writing a blog about why you don’t want to work for the UN.

And – get this – you’ll still be single, and you’ll be okay with that. Nuts, right? I know! You’ll learn to nurture your relationship with friends and family, and, most importantly, with yourself. You shouldn’t worry about finding a guy who likes you, because frankly, teenage boys are kind of idiots. You know this, deep down inside, but you won’t admit it. And you know you want to have a loving relationship with a man who appreciates the things about you that make you different from your peers.

You’ll find other people who will appreciate those things, too! Your nerdiness for pop culture and fiction, your compassion for others, your yearning to make a difference and bring peace to the world, your preference for words, your hesitation towards technology and reality TV – all of it. You are so loved right now (past and future).

You’ll become confident with your body. All of the hangups about fat, hair, scars, shapes, and size will diminish. Not quite disappear (I think that’s for your 40s), but that’s okay. You’ll feel beautiful, and others will notice.

And you’ll be doing things that are good for your health. You’re going to become one of those spiritual junkies who practices yoga, meditates, and loves Elizabeth Gilbert and Pema Chodron. And you won’t care what others have to say about that. Why would you? You’re awesome!

You probably feel that this seems so far away from right now. You’d be right about that. But I want to let you know what you shouldn’t worry too much about the future. Don’t plan too far ahead. Don’t let what you think others think of you mess you up.

Stay in the present moment, because you won’t be able to be a teenager for much longer. Your body will grow sideways. You won’t fit into your teenage clothes anymore (and thank God for that, really). Your youth will be a thing of the past. So stay smart, focus on the things and people who matter the most, and you’ll be just fine.

See you on the other side!

Love,

Future You