Nine years ago, I started a blog so that  I could write away my problems.

I did write away my problems.

I’m proud of myself that for the past nine years, even when it was minimal, even if I only dropped in one time in a month, I have written through joys, difficulties, happiness, and so on. It’s been a complicated nine years in a lot of ways and I’ve gone through so much. I’m happy I took the time to come back here.

Happy anniversary to myself. Here’s to more documentation of the struggles of my life.

If you’ve been reading, thanks for reading!

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Happiness #14.

Let’s talk for a moment about ‘adulting.’

There’s this great movie, TV and internet “myth” (maybe it’s a myth… maybe it’s not) of his idea of the quarter-life crisis; of the idea that as young women, we have to be something that resembles fiscally, socially and romantically responsible and stable otherwise we have failed as young people and we will never have children, get married, or inherit the earth. There are books to help us as rolemodels like the characters on The New Girl or Two Broke Girls who are child-like and messed up that we can look to and use to validate our own problems and see that we’re not alone in this difficult world of loss and transition.

I believe that transition has always existed but now in the internet age we can reach out to people and get support and validation for our petty problems and feelings, and this has created a movement or life stage that we have then, forced to give a title or something to. It’s a confusing world for people in their 20s and 30s. Sometimes it’s the kind of world that makes you want to retreat into a dark corner and never come out of. More than ever we need security blankets and inspirational quotes and words of encouragement not just from people we love dearly, but from strangers.

The last few days have been very ‘adult’ days for me. I’ve evaluated my career and relationship future; I attended my first-ever professional convention; I have started the second semester of my career and done so with a lot more control and strength than I ever have, although I was still far from as ‘perfect’ as I want to be. I considered the fact for the first time in a long time that I long so deeply to be perfect and loved or at least liked by everyone all the time, and I want to try and please everyone, thereby tricking them into believing they like me when maybe they don’t. In the last day, I felt all these frustrations and anger I have never felt before really, towards people I love a lot. And when I was drowning in this big scary pity party, I realized something: that everything I’m going through right now and everything I’m thinking right now all comes down to the idea that this is just what adulthood is. It’s these kinds of problems and insecurities and transitions and fears and discomforts and frustrations. I’m out of this honeymoon stage of adulthood where I was able to just do whatever I wanted and pretend like I didn’t want anything more than what I had with my girlfriends and all I did was spend time posting on my silly girlfriends’ walls talking about how they were my “BFFs” (such a concept does not really exist anyways, IMO), and spending mad money on shoes and little trips.

Adulthood is something that’s hit me hard the last year and a half. I’ve had to plan for two; I’ve had to think about how and where I want to continue my career and what my priorities are; I’ve had to make monetary and geographical sacrifices in lieu of other things that I wanted. I keep on continuing to struggle to be heard and understood and sometimes I feel like a kid screaming for that cookie on the top shelf until I turn around and nobody’s home. But these are things I have to put up with in order to get what I want and need out of life.

I’m grateful today fully, for my struggles and frustrations the past few days because they’ve reminded me of what my life is worth. Is it doing exciting engaging fancy things every month? Hell no. And do I wish it was? Absolutely I do. But, I’m not there anymore. And I focus only on the cons of this sometimes, but the pros are important to remember to: I’m starting a professional career; I am learning the realities of standing on my own two feet in the world; I’m learning to grow happiness beneath my feet instead of finding it off in the distance somewhere; I’m not necessarily running from my problems anymore; I’ve given up a lot of that fancy extra stuff for something that, then and now, matters more; and I’ve gotten a big dose of reality. And yes, that came in the form of hardships and challenging conversations with my loved ones. And that fucking sucks. But, at the same time I feel more of the adult I long to be than I ever have.

Happiness Challenge, Day 6.

It’s what we call “Blue Monday” and I could feel the atmosphere growing stale today. On the bright side, it warmed up from the -20s to -5 by the time I left work today. That was something I gained from today that made the clouds lift at least a little bit.

One of the only things that brought me sort of a back-handed joy today was doing yoga. I have NEVER liked yoga but a colleague offers free classes at work on Mondays and Wednesdays. After a nearly-two year hiatus from a regular fitness routine, I felt like it was 100% necessary to get back on track and this seemed like a good way to get started. It was kind of rough but admittedly not as rough as I assumed it would be. There was something resembling joy that I felt – whether it was actually the centering or the breathing or any of that stuff I’m skeptical about is irrelevant. I just felt like I was doing something outside my comfort zone, and something that took me away from constant work/hermit mode throughout the work week.

 

Happiness Challenge, Day 5.

Happiness shouldn’t be challenging, for anyone, but the saddest thing about happiness is just that: it is. It presses itself meanly onto your body like a bruise and it permeates so much. When others don’t have it, they feel inadequate looking at people who do. I don’t ever want to make these kinds of demands on myself anymore.

Anyways

There’s this GREAT show on CBC called “Hello Goodbye”; it reminds me of that Airline show on A&E years ago, except it has so much more heart and plays airport transactions and greetings and farewells with the sweetest heart and emotion imaginable. Th show it simple: the host talks to people at the Arrivals and Departures areas of Toronto Pearson airport and they tell their amazing life stories. It touches my heart each and every time I watch it. I love shows that not only point out the beauty and poignancy of the struggles and triumphs and loves and losses of strangers’ lives, but that point out that everyone and anyone can be extraordinary and live extraordinary lives.

I drove back from a tumultuous weekend in some ways, with the love of my life. The things we deal with. The harsh roughage of the time of year. The many ways in which it feels depressing to be who we are and do what we do every day. Our own triumphs and losses and frustrations. And watching this show made me feel a lot happier today than I usually feel on Sundays.

Happiness Challenge, Day 2.

I was thinking today about Shane Koyczan’s great, amazing, ubiquitous-in-all-high-schools poem, “To This Day”. The poem is specifically about bullies and anti-bullying. But there’s a line in there that has always stood out to me which feels very apt today. I needed this as a reminder. Things are going well. Things are good. But when one part of what I do is good, sometimes others fall by the wayside. This serves as a reminder of how sometimes, this is worthwhile.

there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying
despite everyone who told you to quit

Happiness Challenge, Day 1.

For my first day of this, I took a look at “28 Questions for a Happy Life” The Tiny Buddha. In answering these questions, I hope to find a good starting point for myself to at least begin to feel I am at inner peace.

1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you? I think this is true for me at work and it was certainly true for me in my past dating life. At work I constantly avoid trying new things in case I fail at them. And in my dating life I overthought and planned every move so carefully so as not to look over-eager, and so I would look like the kind of person someone would want to date. 

2. What risk would you take if you knew you could not fail? The one thing that comes to mind is writing. I have abandoned my writing life because it seems impossible and impractical and I just don’t have the time for it anymore. But really, those are excuses I make for myself because I’m afraid of failing at writing. I gave up so I wouldn’t have to face rejection and reality. If I knew I wouldn’t fail, I would beat down doors; I would enter plays in Fringe festivals; I would submit pieces to every lit magazine in the country.  

3. What is your greatest strength? Have any of your recent actions demonstrated this strength? My greatest strength is writing. It’s my best way of communicating and has helped me find my words in so many situations. It has made me realize that, at least for one moment in my life, I was special and did have talent. 

4. What are the top five things you cherish in your life? 1) Love – familial and romantic love, first and foremost; 2) My career – every day, even bad days, are still amazing on some level; 3) My vinyl collection – the one material thing that is so much more than just an object; records are stories, teleporters, time machines; 4) Memories and relics of my life in Vancouver – friendships and fondnesses and places I’ll never forget, restaurants I would fly in just to eat at; 5) my cat – he’s been there for me for eight years now and it’s unimaginable to think of a life without him.

5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? I like this question a lot.I think I would answer with 24 – my 24th year was the year I discovered so much about myself and really became myself. Things kept getting clearer from there but despite that, there is youthfulness and confusion that I still embrace and never let go of. Sometimes I forget and can’t believe I turn 30 this year.

6. When do you stop calculating risk and rewards, and just do it? When I am either on the verge of failure or self-redemption, or there is no other option but to be successful. 

7. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? Today. Today was one of those days in teaching where things felt smooth and right and good, where I was able to express my passion and feel it in my day. It’s rare that I feel that actually, so bogged down am I by everything else that’s going on in my life with students. 

8. What do you most connect with? Why? Music. Music has a unique way of understanding you without offering anything but empathy, in a way that nothing or nobody else can do.

9. What one piece of advice would you offer a newborn child? To learn to speak your mind and ask for help when you need it, and ask for what you want when you want it. 

10. Which is worse—failing or never trying? My first instinct is failure. Failure is my biggest fear. It scares me more than anything. My fear of failure makes me more self-critical and self-destructive than anything in my life. But logically I know that never trying is so much worse, especially with the knowledge that we only get and have one life.

11. Why do we do things we dislike and like the things we never seem to do? Because we’re scared. Because in this life the world is expensive and complicated and fragmented, and we only have so much time, and sadly it is often spent on priorities and not dreams. As adults, we stop dreaming at a certain point and instead, we look at adult decisions as things we ‘should’ be doing.

12. What are you avoiding? I don’t know. My life is mostly structured to face things head-on.

13. What is the one job/cause/activity that could get you out of bed happily for the rest of your life? Are you doing it now? I am sort of doing it now. I am quite literally living my dream. But there are still some issues with that — I’m new and lack confidence, first of all. And second of all, I am not where I would love to be geographically which takes its toll on me and makes me somewhat unhappy and wistful.

14. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? I hope not.

15. What are you most grateful for? My partner.

16. What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world? I would like to eliminate global warming problems and instability in the environment.

17. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you? The world influences me, but I hope that my the career I’ve chosen, I will have some small part in influencing the world someday.

18. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing? I am definitely doing what I believe in.

19. What are you committed to? My career, my partner, and my lifestyle.

20. Which worries you more – doing things right or doing the right things? In my job these two things are intertwined, but definitely the latter worries me more.

21. If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy? Either teaching or music journalism.

22. Have you been the kind of friend you’d want as one? YES. Although I can think of three people who would disagree with this, one of the only things I have strived for is to be present for people I love.

23. Do any of the things that used to upset you a few years ago matter at all today? What’s changed? Yes, a couple of things. But otherwise I have made big changes and achieved several dreams and this has given me perspective that things I was upset about happened in exactly the way they should have. 

24. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing? I don’t want to live to work, but I don’t want to work to live either. I want to find the balance between enjoying so much what I do but finding other things on the side that make me just as happy, and that I still have time for.

25. What permission do you need/want to move forward? The permission to stay where I am if I choose to.

26. Really, what do you have to lose if you go for it? I am going for it. I plan to not stop going for it. 

27. How different would your life be if there weren’t any criticism in the world? My life would be the best. Every door would open. Everything would be illuminated. I wouldn’t have lost friends over criticism of one kind or another.

28. We’re always making choices. Are you choosing for your story or for someone else’s? I hope I’m choosing for mine. Even in my relationship I have still done what’s best for me and prioritized things in the best way I could for me. I’m used to being alone and calling my own shots so that’s something that comes naturally to me.

 

Another Happines Challenge.

Sometimes blogging gets dry, and sometimes pouring your heart out can bring you down or make you over-reflect, so you’re peddling backwards instead of pushing yourself hard up that hill like you wanted.

Sometimes I ignore the good that happens in my life and the good things about how I live. That’s something that I need to work on yet again, so I’m going to commit to doing my utmost, at least on weekdays if not weekends, to talk about things I’m grateful for. Finding positivity in my life is something I strive for so much and I believe that if I can embrace positives in life rather than continually putting myself down, I won’t ever heal from such low, low negatives I’ve faced in the last couple of hard years.