Am I Motivational Yet?

Me again, the Moussetis with the least amount of serotonin. Fun fact about me: I am, always have been, and always will be, that horse girl. You know the type. My childhood bedroom is absolutely plastered with horse posters, and I rode every week for over a decade. So like, I’m legit. I’m even going back to volunteer at my old barn soon in the hopes of riding at least once before school sets in.

So there’s this rule in horseback riding that I always really struggled with. Conceptually, it was simple, but in practice, I could never really get it down. The rule is as such:

Look where you want to go, not where you’re afraid to go.

I know it sounds like something you’d see written in brush script over a sunset on a poster in a high school counselors office. But it’s actually crucial to safe riding. Horses, you see, are clever beasts, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Above all they are empathetic to a fault, which means if you’re scared, they know, and since you’re the one meant to be in charge, it makes them scared.

Something else to consider is that horses generally can feel where you’re looking. On the one hand, this is great for sport. Proper jumping technique states that you should start looking at your next obstacle the moment your horse leaves the ground in front of your current one. That way you know where you’re going, and so does your horse.

But it’s a two-way street. If there’s a commotion, for example, that catches your attention and distracts you from what you’re doing, it will carry over to your horse. And horses, bless their hearts, are prey animals, and evolved to really favor flight over fight in stressful situations. (Which, as someone who has had to fight horses on multiple occasions, I am actually extremely grateful for.) So now both you and your horse are distracted, and your horse is likely to spook.

Now let’s play this out. If you’ve never had the distinct pleasure of riding a spooked horse, it goes a little something like this. First the horse startles, and sometimes that’s the end of it. You both take a moment to calm down and then you carry on. But other times, it gets worse, and your horse can take off. At this point your own fight or flight response kicks in, and that’s where our look-where-you-want-to-be concept becomes of the utmost importance. Because now it’s on you. Your horse is out of control, and you and everyone in your vicinity is in danger. What are you going to do? Look at the group of little girls learning how to lead a pony? Or at the stern woman cooling down a warmblood that looks like he costs more than most cars? Because if you’re looking at them, you can bet that your horse is too, and that’s the direction you’ll end up going.

So you look for where you need to go. You look for an empty space to let your horse run out or you look for a wall to stop them. ‘Cause wherever you look, that’s where you’re gonna end up. The same goes for looking down, if not more so, because looking down is the biggest no-no of them all in equine sports.

Alright, time to apply this to reality. You are the rider, your horse is your life, and everything else is… everything else. If you want your life to head in the right direction, you gotta look in the right direction, right? If you look at the problem, or the disaster, you’ll focus on it, get distracted by it, and end up running right into it. Instead, be aware of it, but only in your peripheral. Your focus needs to stay on where you want to go, so you can guide yourself there. And it doesn’t always work; sometimes that horse is gonna run wherever that horse is gonna run, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The only thing you can predict about life is that it’s unpredictable.

But even if something does go wrong, (you know, like tumbling off your horse and into the dirt) it’s better to fail knowing that you did everything you could rather than wondering if just maybe, if I’d done just this one little thing, it could have worked out. (In this metaphor, the ground is just a metaphor for just failing at something, not dying or anything. That’s a whole other matter.)

And that’s the principle. You look where you want to go, not where you’re scared to go, and that’s how you can guide your life in the right direction. Does it always work? No. But is it better than the alternative? So I’ve heard. Like I said, I’ve struggled with this concept, both in the literal and the metaphorical sense. I’ve hit the dirt my fair share, but that’s a risk we knowingly take when we set out on any endeavor worthwhile.

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Major throwback pic here

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Vacations are More than Relaxation

Long time no see, huh? For the last three weeks I was on vacation in Italy and Greece, and unlike in the past, I did not post while I was away. I even have some posts pre-written that were planned to be released while I was away but for some reason, I never felt the sense of urgency to actually post them while I was traveling. This time, I decided to treat this vacation as a vacation from all things – I did not work, I did not workout (apart from a couple runs), and I did not indulge my normal blogging schedule.

I was able to completely focus on my vacation and actually relax. I have kept such a rigid schedule the past couple years and I think I finally needed a vacation from all of my normal commitments, even the self-imposed ones. For the past year, I was consistently adding more and more commitments to my life whether they were social, self-improvement initiatives, or work-related. And after this trip, I realized that many of them are draining my life, more than adding to it.

Vacations, in general, are always great for me to take a step back and remind myself of what is actually important to me, but this time it was more than that. In a rare change of pace, this last trip was a trip more about the people than the places. I got to see one of my absolute best friends, as well as spend a Greece trip with my family like we used to. Spending so much quality time with people that are so important to me made me rethink my priorities a bit. I’m still working through this whole thought process but the basic idea is that I’d like to flip my thinking about how to plan my life.

I won’t go into it too much here because I still haven’t thought through it all, but the short story is that this vacation was more rejuvenating than most for my perspective and while I apologize for missing three Wednesdays, I don’t regret it at all. In fact, I’ve actually been thinking on going on a longer hiatus from my blog, and leaving it to someone else, but more on that later.

I’ve rambled a bit now, but this post only had one intention, and that was to explain my absence from the blogosphere to the few hundred of you that read my posts every week and to reiterate the point to our overworked populations that sometimes it’s ok to go completely off the grid and just feed your soul (although I definitely fed my stomach as well). I will return next week with some regular content, until then, let me know if you’d like more explanation on my change in perspectives and I’ll be happy to accommodate.

Money – Must Be Funny

What? No ABBA fans here? Today I wanted to talk about something that I’ve mentioned surprisingly little on the blog for how much I love it in real life – money. That sweet, sweet green.

Now, I don’t want to talk budgeting because I really don’t have anything to add to that conversation. I have a budget, I keep track of all my expenses on a painstakingly detailed spreadsheet and there are millions of apps to help you out with budgets. Plus, my friend Rachal just released a comprehensive guide to creating your own budget on her blog, so if that’s your cup of tea, then begone to her blog post here.

What I want to cover is a concept called wealth building. I recently read an article discussing Jeff Bezos’s worth (founder of Amazon for those of you living under a rock), and the article put his worth at around $130 Billion. To put that in perspective for us peasants, $88,000 dollars to us feels like $1 to Jeff. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’d love to be able to throw around hundreds of thousands of dollars like it was coffee money.

However, there are only a couple of ways to really become wealthy. I’m not sitting on the next Amazon or Facebook idea at the moment, so the other major way I’ve been focusing on becoming wealthier is to make the money I do have work for me. I know it’s harder for my age bracket to feel like investing is a priority when the job market sucks so bad and rent is crazy, but the truth is – if you have Starbucks money, you have investing money.

I’m not going to go super in depth on investing strategies because 1. There’s a million of combinations, and 2. I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a strong investor just yet. But the point I’m trying to make is that so many of us are focused on saving ONLY. We want an emergency fund here, a future house fund there, but many people are only putting that money in an account for it to sit at the same value for years and years. A simple savings account usually has interest rates of less than one percent, and at our current young adult level, that means our money is literally only making a couple cents each year. The point of investing is so that the money that you’ve set aside makes money for you and you don’t even have to touch it.

Stay with me. Not all investing is making bets on the stock market, cryptocurrency, or being in real estate. There are simple accounts you can open with fiduciaries who will invest your money in a portfolio with a risk level you are comfortable with. A fiduciary is a firm that is required to act in their investors’ best interests.

So if you go ahead and start investing, you’ll probably make somewhere between a 2 and 10 percent return depending on your risk levels. Of course, you can get very lucky and make even more but even at 2% your money is going to grow way faster than just sitting in a savings account.

When I started investing, it was rather unrewarding. I didn’t have enough to dedicate to really see the difference, but now that I’m working with a few thousand dollars, those returns are starting to add up. And if we do the math, investing is the reason the rich get richer.  Let’s say they’ve got $100,000 sitting in investments. At 2% that is $2000 profit off of investments. If they’ve got $1,000,000 sitting there – that’s $20,000! And when you compound that interest, the number just grows and grows.

I’m going to stop with the math now since we all had to take basic accounting, but I take it I’ve made my point. The beauty of investing is that the money works on your behalf. There are risks with investing, of course, but they are surprisingly less drastic than the media and other authority figures have led us to believe. Just do some basic research.

One resource that was really good for getting started was Tony Robbins’ book Money: Master the Game. The first few chapters are a lot of motivational fluff, but if you really take notes and do some of the exercises, you’ll easily be able to build yourself a pretty comprehensive financial strategy.

The key to investing for me is to only invest money that I won’t miss too terribly. Obviously, as I dedicate more and more to my investment accounts, I would be livid if I lost ALL of it, but a 10% drop in the markets doesn’t phase me. Personally, I am in this for the long haul so any investments I make right now are with money I don’t need to live and wouldn’t miss if I couldn’t access it right away.

I have my simple savings fund set and my living expenses all worked out, and after all that I’m lucky enough to have quite a bit leftover to put into investments. One of my favorite investing ‘rules’ is to invest risky (risky here meaning more volatile investments, but with potentially higher rewards) while you’re young. Consequently, even if I lose every single cent of my investments, I’m young enough that I have time to rebuild. I also would make more money over my lifetime if I start young because of that whole compound interest rule we covered earlier. If I’m too risky when I’m older, it could be too late to recoup and I’d have to struggle for the rest of my retired life.

So while I might not ever reach Jeff Bezos levels of wealth, I think I’ll end up with more than enough if I stay on this track. Do some research for yourself, you might find that you like tacking zeros onto your bank account too 🙂

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Contrary to popular belief, millennials can have nice things like expensive toast AND have money for investments.

 

Forgotten Talents

On Saturday I had the enormous pleasure of seeing the Calgary Philharmonic play the score to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Apart from my Harry Potter obsession, I realized I hadn’t been to the orchestra in a few years and I MISS IT. Not only do I miss watching the orchestra, I miss being a part of one. A little backstory here, I played viola as part of an orchestra for a little over a decade. And I was GOOD. Not great, but good enough to play in one of the most advanced orchestras my school had to offer. Unfortunately, I haven’t played much since high school and realizing that actually made me sad.

Back in high school, I had two “things,” if you will. Number one was swimming. I spent five hours everyday training and had at least one meet every week. Number two was orchestra. Being in the advanced orchestra meant I gave up at least half my lunch in addition to a normal school period for rehearsals. And of course, I practiced on my own in order to keep up. In between all that, I had my classes, and that’s how I went through school.

At the time, it was a lot. Training for swimming was exhausting and getting good at an instrument is an exercise in repetition that drove me nuts. But when I went to university, I stopped both of these activities cold. I told myself I wanted to focus on other pursuits like study abroad and internships and that since I didn’t want to become an Olympian or a professional musician it didn’t matter.

And it didn’t. I was perfectly happy swimming at my own pace for an hour workout rather than a 5 hour one and playing whatever struck my fancy on my viola rather than repeating the same four measure section over and over to wring it to absolute perfection. But after awhile, it did matter.

I hadn’t just done those activities in passing, they had been huge parts of my life for over a decade. I was really good at both of them, I had spent countless hours getting better, learning, improving, and then I just gave them up. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’d change my decisions. I’m pretty happy with the trajectory my life took, but I do wish I had made an effort to include them at a bare minimum.

I miss competing at meets, I loved the adrenaline, I miss the feeling of winning,  and I miss cheering on my teammates.

I miss being part of an orchestra, creating a sound so big it fills the whole room. I miss joking with my stand partner, and honestly, I just miss playing.

I’ve replaced these things in my life now – I took up new sports, and now I write as a creative outlet rather than play music. But I miss my old commitments. I was glad to be rid of them when they were overwhelming, but nostalgia has come to haunt me and I think it’s about time I start swimming some laps and playing some music again.

Are there any talents you stopped, whether because of a life change or because they were too exhausting? Did you ever pick them back up? Let me know in the comments!

 

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I hope she doesn’t hate me for posting this throwback, but this was taken behind the scenes of one of my favorite concerts ❤

 

Take a Walk on the Child Side

As of a few months ago, I am twenty-three years old. And even though this age still makes me (relatively) a very young person, I have also left my childhood behind. I work, am financially and emotionally independent, and like to think I contribute in some way to society.

However, even though my days of not paying my own bills are behind me, I don’t completely want to ever abandon the ways of my childhood.

Children, for the most part, have no fear, no judgement, and no pretenses. They also possess a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them until they are forced to focus by school or society. And THOSE are the traits, I’m looking to keep.

When I try new things, I don’t want the fear of failure to be what holds me back. For example, rock climbing has actually really helped with this. I watch the little kids go up these enormous, difficult walls like it’s nothing and part of their success comes down to the fact that they aren’t afraid. So I’ll tell myself – if they can do it, so can I.

The other major attribute has to do with wonder. I am naturally a bit of a cynic, but I would really hate to never be impressed by anything! When I travel, I want to be amazed and awed by great structures and incredible food. I see so many adults just pass things by with a “been there, done that” attitude and I NEVER want to let things pass me by.

The other part of this is the continued learning. Kids don’t know anything yet, consequently, they are learning all the time. Once you become an adult, you get good at a few things and it’s not necessary to learn all the time. But I’m convinced that’s how your brain dies. Dramatic, I know, but if you never learn anything new, your brain can never make new connections and you won’t continue to grow. It’s almost like you’re dying from boredom very slowly, and that sounds like the worst way to go.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that life can get more and more monotonous, but only if you let it. It’s really easy to slip into a routine, get really good at that routine, and never wander outside it. I’ve talked about this in a different post, but doing what I just described scares the absolute shit out of me. I am TERRIFIED of becoming complacent, and I believe part of avoiding it is to preserve some so-called ‘childish’ traits for as long as possible. Obviously, this also works as a great excuse to sing disney songs at the top of my lungs until my dying day.

 

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Me and my mama after my baptism. Don’t hang me for the quality, taking a photo of a photo is not the best.

 

 

What do YOU want to see?

I’ve been writing a blog post every week for a year now. I’ve written almost 60 posts on this site, and I think it’s about time I ask what it is YOU want me to write about.

Maybe you think I suck and should stop writing, but I’m not here for the haters. There are a couple hundred people that do view my blogs every week and I would like to hear what is the most fun for them to read about.

I started this blog so I could have a little hobby and practice my writing (since it turns out I actually love to write), but as a result, I’ve just kind of written whatever struck my fancy that week and I’d like to hone in on a few topics that I love and that matter to the people who read my blogs. I’ve hit on a lot: travel, beauty, organization, goals, politics, fitness, sex, and relationships.

So what should I keep writing about? YOU tell ME! I could keep on writing about any of these topics but I want to make sure I’m adding something new and unique to the online world rather than the same old same old. If you’ve ever truly enjoyed even ONE of my posts, now is the time to let me know what you think I should stick to!

On the other hand, if you think there are enough blogs out there, then just stuff it and unfollow me. I started this because I enjoy writing, not because I’m trying to clog your timeline with blog posts. Through this process, I’ve learned a ton about writing, website creation, SEO, and marketing. It’s not like this space is some big deal, but it’s been amazing for me to explore certain topics and learn a few new skills. I want to continue but I just need YOUR help in figuring out a new direction for this creation! Please comment, send me a message, an email, or anything with suggestions on what topics you love reading from me!

 

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PC: The ever remarkable Clara Yu

 

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is a Wednesday which means I’ve released this blog post, but it is no ordinary Wednesday because today is ALSO my 23rd birthday! 23 is not exactly a milestone year (I still overpay for rental cars), but for me, it was a huge year. Unluckily, my birthday takes right after Christmas, BUT right before New Years when everyone is reflecting back on the last calendar year. So just remember that I’m posting my reflection as a result of my BIRTHDAY, not the New Year. Good, glad we got that squared away.

The Biggest Deal of My 22nd Year: I moved to Canada. I’ve posted tons about this already, but feel free to go back and read the saga thus far, here, here, and here. This one is actually twofold, because not only did I move to Canada, I moved in with my boyfriend which I’ve never done before. DOUBLE WHAMMY.

The Biggest Trip of My 22nd Year: I travelled a lot for business in the last year — Riverside, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Everett, Boston, San Francisco. But I also got to do some travel for pleasure — U.S. West Coast Road Trip, Calgary, Vancouver, The Grand Canyon. But by far the biggest and baddest trip I took was to Peru in the spring. I saw some incredible Incan ruins, ate some amazing foods, and am finally starting in on visiting South American locations! I wrote a couple travel guides if you’ve been researching vacation destinations, so you can check those out here if you want.

The Saddest Moment of my 22nd Year: The weekend before I left for Canada, one of my friends treated me to a trip to Disneyland with a group of us (I had NEVER been, shocking, I know) and we stayed there all day until the World of Color show and I got so sad because I realized that even though there are a lot of things to hate about L.A., I had grown rather attached and I was going to miss my friends so much (also the nostalgia of disney movies was really tugging at my heartstrings).

The Biggest Milestone of my 22nd Year: My current relationship is the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. At the time of this posting, my boyfriend and I will have been dating for a year and a half which is DOUBLE the time I have dated anyone else. What can I say, he’s a keeper.

The Worst Things that Happened to my Body: I’ve slowly been learning to ski over this past year, which has equated to many, many large and ugly bruises. I sprained my ankle before hiking Macchu Picchu in Peru. I’m pale now that I moved to the Great White North. AND, for the first time in my life, I have started getting dandruff sporadically. Don’t know how, but it was bad enough to make my scalp bleed. On the bright side, I finally started using foot cream and I don’t hate my feet anymore.

The Biggest Career Moves: I’ve been at the same job since turning 22, but since starting it a little over a year ago, I’ve moved from knowing nothing about the field or the job to running my own projects and feeling comfortable sticking up for myself against colleagues or clients with decades of experience on me. Plus, I just got a raise which is always nice.

There were, of course, tons of other little things that happened this year that made me feel the whole range of human emotion but I wanna give a little shout out to some specific people that made my life pretty great. In no particular order:

  • Kiki – My sister, my biggest entertainer, and my best supporter, with the best taste in everything
  • Mom & Dad – You guys are lumped together because I have another post planned on how much I appreciate you 🙂
  • Michael – You’ve been so patient and so amazing in helping me move, and you’re a pretty awesome boyfriend/roommate.
  • T – We didn’t talk much this year but I know you’re always there, no matter what
  • Alex – We both left the U.S. and you’re still the friend I talk to the most. You never fail me, and I hope I never fail you.
  • Hannah – Even though you left me to get married haha, I know I can talk to you about ANYTHING and that I couldn’t have done Pepperdine without you.
  • Tiff – Where would I be without our deep talks? You are so warm and wise and I miss getting coffee with you so much!
  • Clara – I think we’re kindred spirits. Dark, sarcastic, and love a great steak. You never fail to cheer me up or send me great memes.
  • Ash – You’re an amazing friend to have. You’re whip-smart and your energy is infectious.

I know there are a ton of people I didn’t list (that’s the dangers with these damn things) who affected my life this year in a great way, but the people I called out were the people I really leaned on. It was tough to put the following in a list format with the rest of my year, but I went through a lot of periods of being down, lonely, or just not feeling that awesome and these were the people that were always there no matter what and who could always make me smile, so thank you!

In any case, that about sums up 22 for me and now that I’ve thought about everything this year held, I’m pretty excited for 2018. I already have trips planned, activities on my list to learn, and career moves to explore. Bring. It. On.

 

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PC: Kiki Moussetis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation vs. Discipline

One question that I get all the time is “How do you stay motivated?”. I get this question in all contexts —  when I was at school:  “How are you motivated to get your homework done early?” When it comes to fitness: “How do you stay motivated to workout in the mornings?” Working from home: “How do you stay motivated to stay on schedule?”. The answer to these questions is simple: I don’t stay motivated. I stay disciplined.

The thing about motivation is that it is short lived. It doesn’t last long in anyone’s mind no matter how productive you are. You might be feeling inspired and energetic for a few hours at best, and then that energy wanes and you return to feeling just as you did before your burst of enthusiasm.

Discipline, on the other hand, requires consistency. It’s not that I’m motivated to workout every morning, it’s that the activity has become a habit. There are plenty of days where I don’t particularly want to go to the gym, complete my work to-do list, or really do anything remotely productive. It’s not motivation that keeps me going, it’s sheer willpower.

Willpower, however, is arguably finite. When we wake up in the morning, we have a certain amount of willpower to make healthy decisions for our selves, and as we tire throughout the day it gets more difficult to choose the options that aren’t the easiest. This is why I workout in the morning. I know internally, how great I feel after a workout, and I ALSO know that when I reach the end of my workday, I really don’t feel like going to the gym. Because I know this about myself, I can plan around my own willpower.

The same thing goes for my work. I know myself, and I know that if I wake up without a plan for the day, I will get next to nothing done. However, I religiously make a to-do list for myself the night before, and I also keep a planner with all my work-related tasks up to date. The satisfaction of forcing myself to complete a task so I can check it off my list is so rewarding for me and that is how I stay on track during the day. I even make checklists for myself on weekends so I can make sure I run certain errands or get extra work done.

Working out in the morning, making lists, and a number of other things I do to stay productive are all habits borne out of discipline. Even though they started out as strategies to work with my brand of willpower, they require almost no willpower at all anymore since I’m so used to them. The important thing to remember is that the hardest part of any task or new endeavour is the beginning. Once something becomes a habit, it becomes an after-thought, like brushing your teeth every day.

While motivation can be a powerful tool to get you started on a new undertaking or push you to completion on certain projects, it’s not dependable enough as a way to keep you productive all the time. Use motivation when it comes, but when it goes, remember that it is more important to be consistent. Recognize when you’re naturally the most productive and utilize that time to bang out your most important goals. And if nothing else, do at least one little thing every day to get you closer to where you want to be. Pretty soon, all that consistency will form a habit and motivation will be like the cherry on top of a productivity sundae (wow that sounds like the most boring ice cream creation ever but we could all use some of that, right?).

Let me know what strategies you use to stay on track with your goals!

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Fake it Until You Make it

Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance. However, the thing about confidence is that you don’t have to be the smartest, prettiest, strongest, or most experienced person to have that feeling. In fact, you could be filled with complete bullshit, but as long as you seem sure about your bullshit? Then you’re confident.

Although the shy and introverted definitely make a huge impact on the world, the confident and the extroverted, are the ones we hear about. The dynamic CEO’s, the articulate politicians, or even that asshat at work who everyone listens to because he talks the loudest. Even though confidence is mostly excellent bullshit skills, the great thing is that those skills can be learned.

The best way to pick up a little confidence super-fast? Force it. Throw yourself into an uncomfortable situation so that you HAVE to be decisive and confident to figure it out, or perish.

The best personal example I can give is when I travel alone. First off, when I travel alone, even to the supermarket, if anything goes wrong, I’m the one that has to stand up for myself to figure it out. If my card doesn’t work at the store, I figure out how to pay. If the taxi driver wants to argue over the fare, I’ve got to argue back. If the airline messes up my booking, I have to make sure I get what I paid for.

Secondly, when I travel alone, I am completely responsible for all the social interaction I have. When I traveled alone for weeks at a time, I had to make a commitment to myself to talk to people. It was HARD. I am naturally not the most social and I definitely have a tough time making friends with absolute strangers.

The beginning of the trip went something like this: The first day I spent entirely alone. I had a good time but by the end, I had no idea how I would make it seven weeks completely solitary. The second day, I got up early and began exploring. I went to the first attraction on my list and saw a group speaking English. I actually tried to stay in their vicinity (i.e. stalked them) as I worked up the courage to say something, but I never did. I moved on to the next attraction and saw another group. I was alone and didn’t know what to say so I literally asked them for directions. I was literally so nervous my voice cracked (real smooth, I know). Thankfully, they invited me to explore with them (maybe they took pity on me), but either way, I ended up having a great time meeting new people and spending the whole day with them. After that, I realized the worst thing that could happen is that I didn’t get along with the people I talk to and had to find new ones.

Every city I went, it got easier and easier to talk to people and make friends. But see what I mean? If I hadn’t gone alone, and forced myself to either talk to people or be miserable, I might have never developed that skill. Even now, whenever it is still difficult for me, I can just think back to that instance and draw confidence from it.

Pushing yourself doesn’t have to be done through something as drastic as traveling alone though, it can be done through far more mild instances. Force yourself to make eye contact with your teachers so you get called on and have to answer more frequently. Go to a store you normally wouldn’t go into and ask the sales people lots of questions.

The most important tip I have for developing confidence? Do things ALONE as much as possible. Although our friends can hype us up and support us, we can also use them as a crutch. If you travel with a friend, you don’t have to meet anyone new. If you go to a new store with a friend, you don’t have to talk to the salesperson. It will be so much easier to talk yourself out of being uncomfortable when you’ve got a friend right there to use as a scapegoat.

Additionally, and maybe this is just me, when I try new things with friends, I am far more self-conscious. Even if it’s a trusted family member or best friend, I always feel a weird pressure to do this new thing (whatever it might be) the ‘right’ way. This is hard to explain but what I’m trying to say is, it feels far less embarrassing for me to look like a fool in front of people I don’t know. As soon as I bring a friend into the picture I become so much more careful and aware of looking ridiculous and therefore push myself less.

At the end of the day, confidence won’t just appear one day. It is cultivated over time. Developing confidence is a constant effort to keep pushing yourself to resolve situations that make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s gonna suck, and sometimes you’ll get embarrassed, but each time, you’ll feel stronger and more confident in yourself. You will find out what really is the ‘worst that can happen’ and once you deal with it, you’ll forget why you were ever scared in the first place.

 

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Candid Photos by: Clara Yu

 

Moving to Canada: Take 2

Alright guys. At the beginning of last month, I detailed how the first few days of living in Canada had gone for me, and in case you forgot, I was not in a good place (see the first article here, if you need a refresher on my misery).

But because I know this move is going to be a period of tons of changes and phases, I figured I’d start a series on my blog chronicling how it goes. So here it is: my first full month in my new country.

October was a little strange because I really only spent 20 days out of 31 actually in Canada. For one week, I had a business trip to Seattle and for another week, I was visiting my family in Chicago. However, most weekends and other days were all spent in Calgary.

Even though I spent some time away, I will admit that I definitely enjoyed my time in Calgary a little bit more than I did in the first few days. I realized that Amazon and can still be useful and Canadian Netflix is actually BETTER than American Netflix. (Although my HBO doesn’t work here so I have to figure something out before the final season of GOT. YES I’M ALREADY WORRIED ABOUT THIS). I got into my normal routine of working from home, working out, and tried two boxing gyms. I also hung out a couple times with some of my boyfriend’s friends and family. Even though I know I need my own friends, it was obviously nice to talk to someone other than my boyfriend every once in a while.

Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I can recognize that Calgary, for the most part, is like any other major city in the U.S. It has a vibrant downtown where everything is walking distance and it has bars, shops, and restaurants, as well as skyscrapers to form the skyline, so getting used to the city won’t take long. I’ve begun walking around by myself to run errands and familiarize myself with how to get around.

The hardest part of moving, and I suspect it will be the hardest part for awhile, will be developing a social life of my own. Working from home really works against me in this respect, since I have to find other ways to meet people. My first thought is to join a boxing gym or maybe a cycling class and go regularly to start to see the same people. But unlike making friends in college or at work, I would still only see these people for one or two hours a week, so building up a repartee with them will still take a while even once I commit to one.

My next thought was to join a couple groups online for people of similar interests, as well as an expat group, but so far I haven’t found any events that I have been able to attend. November might be a little bit better for this since I don’t have any travel planned but we’ll see. Luckily, I feel a bit more settled after this past month and I can mostly focus on trying to meet people and cultivate new hobbies for a new city. Wish me luck!

If you have any suggestions on how to make friends in a new city, please comment! I need all the help I can get!

 

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If nothing else, Canada is gorgeous.