Moving to Canada: Take 4

Last time I talked about my move to Canada, I was in a pretty fragile state. My loneliness and isolation had reached the point where it was tough to get out of bed in the morning, my motivation was waning, and I was just going through the barest motions of my life. Get up. Work. Workout. Sleep. Repeat. Those feelings were wearing me down and I spent many a night during the first part of December in tears or close to them.

Every time I would try and talk to someone about these feelings, they’d hit me with those dreadful generalist statements. “Oh everyone goes through this” “You just have to do ___ and you’ll be ok” “It’ll get better if you stick it out”. Yeah fuck that. How come people won’t shut up about embracing uniqueness until it comes to pain? Sure, if I want to pursue my dream of being a basket weaver, society loves me for embracing my own version of happiness, but if I say I’m sad because I feel out of place, they lump me into a group with everyone else that happens to feel sad. Obviously, seeking comfort in others wasn’t working, and thus, those hideous generalisms just made me clam up and wallow in my struggle even more.

Thankfully, I had a light at the end of my tunnel. The holidays consisted of three weeks of quality time spent in Chicago in a familiar environment, surrounded by people I’m comfortable with. This came at the perfect time. My family always keeps me happy and finally getting the opportunity to have deeper conversations with people who know and understand me was a huge weight off my shoulders. There’s just something about getting food with my friends and simply talking about life that makes me feel enormously calm and happy. There’s also something about the way my sister narrates life that makes me laugh until I cry so that always helps too.

Unfortunately, I was about to go back into the tunnel. Obviously, my return to Calgary was awaiting me in the New Year and I was dreading it. I was looking forward to seeing my boyfriend, but other than that, I would’ve been content to stay in Chicago. BUT, I did return and I returned to the most hectic month I’ve had since moving in the first place. I haven’t even had the time to be sad or lonely because my work schedule has kept me underwater.

This turned out to be a good thing. I have been so busy travelling for work and fitting in my few social engagements around my trips that my brain has no space to compute my feelings since returning. However, I have hit a small bit of luck. I finally met a girl that seems pretty cool and she actually got me into rock climbing. I’ve hung out with her and a few of her friends and although it’s all still in the tentative, surface level, lots-of-exclamations-to-show-positivity-while-texting stages, I’m honestly relieved I’ve met a few people that I could see myself becoming closer with. As hard as it’s been, I actually thought it would be harder to get to this point.

In the last two months, I’ve only spent about 4 weeks in Canada, but ultimately, I’ve been so much happier with my time here. What remains to be seen is if I can sustain this feeling. Is it because I’ve been so busy? My new friends? I haven’t distilled the actual source to the turnaround in my mood, but I leave for Mexico tomorrow so I guess I’ll have to just wait and see.

 

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PC: Michael Lankester

 

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Lonely but not Alone

About six or seven months ago I wrote a post about how being alone doesn’t make you lonely (read it here, if you want), and I still stand by that post. Getting some quality alone time is still an important source of mental recovery for me, but there is a major difference in my life between when I wrote that post and what I’m about to write now. Up until that point, I had only ever experienced loneliness in spurts. Of course, everyone feels lonely from time to time, and for me, it was a fleeting feeling, something I could sleep off and be good to go the next day.

However, things have changed a bit since then. As I detailed in my last post about moving to Canada, I shared that I’ve been feeling a bit isolated since I moved. I wake up every day and at least once a day, if not for most of the day, I feel lonely.

On the surface, I might not seem that lonely. I live with my boyfriend so he’s usually around, he and I go out almost every weekend and hang out with various friends and family, and I have my own family and friends spread out over the world that I know I could call for anything.

So then why do I feel this way? I’m busy all the time, I’m meeting new people, and attending events. It seems like I shouldn’t feel this way but it keeps happening so I’ve narrowed my feelings down to three components:

  1. I work from home. This will naturally isolate and prevent me from making work friends or attending work social events as people who work in offices do. Even though I’m afforded a lot of flexibility because of this, it is a major hurdle when moving to a new city.
  2. I feel out of place in this city. Yes, Canada isn’t too different from the U.S. on the whole, but is Calgary different from L.A? They are on OPPOSITE ends of the spectrum. Although L.A. isn’t my absolute favorite city, I fit in with the culture there much more so than in Calgary. So even though I live here now, I still feel like I’m a fish out of water
  3. I have not made any of my own local friends. This is probably the biggest issue and I think it’s the most difficult to solve. I have some amazing friends from L.A. and from all over, that I am so close to but the thing is that it takes years to get that close to someone. It is SO rare that you sit down for coffee and have a four-hour conversation right off the bat. So even though I’ve met a couple people on my own, it hasn’t made me feel too much better because the deep conversations I build most of my relationships on are off the table for now.

The worst part of this feeling is that I feel like I’m not allowed to feel this way. I know that’s irrational and I can’t let anyone make me feel like my own brand of loneliness isn’t valid, but when I look at my life as a whole, I do have a lot of people I am super grateful for and that makes me feel even guiltier that I feel this way.

Alright, alright, CLEARLY I’m not in a good place right now but I’m not the type of person who can just sit back and do nothing. So, what will I be doing to combat the loneliness?

  1. Working from home is a tough one to overcome BUT for this one, I’m thinking of looking into co-working spaces, which are like offices for those who have stay-at-home jobs. I have also taken on more side projects which keep me busier and introduce me to different kinds of people (although still remotely). Lastly, I’ve resolved to make an even bigger effort in staying in touch with my friends and family from home and around the world. Even though they’re not here, every time I talk to them I do feel way better.
  2. Fitting in in Calgary is going to be hard for me since I don’t want to change too much of my personality and hobbies. I like the person I am today, and I am constantly wary of losing that. BUT, it never hurt anyone to pick up a new skill so in an effort to get more into the active/outdoorsy culture here, I have been learning to ski (last month was cross-country country skiing, this month will be downhill skiing), and I’m going to take up rock-climbing. I’m also making a list of everything I want to see and do here while I have the chance, to make exploring more exciting for me.
  3. Last but not least, the making new friends bit. I’ve met a couple girls now that I’d like to get to know better so now it’s just a matter of sucking up my pride and asking them to hang out whenever I can. I am also still looking constantly for things I could get involved in that would allow me to meet more like-minded people but a resolution is still pending on that front.

I know loneliness is not uncommon, especially in today’s day and age, but these feelings are wildly new for me, so I’ve been struggling quite a bit with them. If you have any advice for combatting loneliness in a new city, feel free to send me a message or comment below!.

 

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Artsy PC again by my fave: Kiki Moussetis

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to Canada, Take 3: High High’s, and Low Low’s

November was a very strange month for me. However, this was the first WHOLE month I spent in Calgary so I finally got an accurate picture of what living here is actually like.

First off let’s talk about the high’s. Since I got my routine figured out in October, in November I was able to break out of my shell a little bit. I would go on walks around the city by myself, I would take breaks to go work in different cafe’s, and I signed up for ClassPass to try and find some fitness classes that I liked where I might be able to meet people. I’ve even been skiing every weekend in an effort to improve my deplorable skills before a group ski trip in a couple weeks.

My social calendar was also surprisingly full. There were dinners with my boyfriend’s family, one of my boyfriend’s friends came to stay with us for a week, there was a banquet at the flying club where my boyfriend won an award for most proficient private pilot (yes he flies planes, it’s nbd), there was a fondue night with friends,  I cooked my very own Thanksgiving dinner, and we hosted a game night which of course, got very heated (Monopoly will do that to a person).

However, even though November was super busy and a lot of the activities I described above made me smile, there was also the feeling of soul-crushing loneliness brewing beneath the surface. Ok, ok, I know. There’s no need to be so dramatic, BUT, this month was the definitely hardest thus far. My poor boyfriend doesn’t know what to do with himself because he’ll see me happy at an event on one day, and the next day I’m crying in the bathtub all evening.

Even though I’ve been extremely busy, I can’t help but feel that I’m losing myself in this new place, and allowing myself to be absorbed by my boyfriend’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hanging out with his family and friend’s and am enjoying (mostly) learning new skills like skiing, but I don’t have anything yet that’s my own. Back in L.A., even on my loneliest days, I had things that would make me feel peaceful and grounded. I would go to the beach alone for hours, and I had restaurants and cafe’s near my apartment that I could rely on for comfort food or green juice, as it is in SoCal. And of course, most importantly, I had friends nearby that I could reach out to who could help me through any negative feelings or just to discuss life with. I realized the other day that I hadn’t had a deep or open conversation with anyone here besides my boyfriend. Those types of dialogues are how I build friendships and not having them has really been taking its toll on my emotions.

Overall, this month still had more high’s than low’s, but the lows were just super low. I’m trying new things all the time, but I’m just at a loss with how to create my own life here. I know building a new social life takes time, but in the interim, I would at least love to find a few things here that make me feel independent and in control. Honestly, the mission for December is to just do as much as possible before I leave for Chicago to celebrate the holidays (AND my 23rd birthday, wow). I know that trip will perk me up a bit, so right now it’s my light at the end of the 2017 tunnel.

 

 

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If I look like a deer in the headlights, it’s because that’s how I feel about my life right now. jk, it’s because my skis can smell my fear. PC: Michael Lankester

 

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

 

Am I a REAL Adult?

I’ve been a legal adult for almost five years now, but I’ve only really felt like an adult for about two years. I define an adult as someone who can truly take care of themselves, and own the responsibility for themselves and their actions. It can be pretty hard to make the transition because it feels like one day you don’t have a job and your parents handle all the important stuff, and the next day you’re dealing with four different insurance companies, your rent, the dentist, and your retirement plans (yay).

My friend Rachal writes a great blog (link here!), that details more of the trials and tribulations of being an adult, but today all I want to cover are the less glamorous aspects of adulting and where to start on handling them.

  1. Getting a job. I’ve written a whole post on getting jobs here, but basically being financially stable is going to be the crux of your adult life for a while. Having some sort of steady income to work with will be the first step in striking out on your own. Money can’t buy happiness but it CAN make you feel secure when moving away from your parent’s jurisdiction.
  2. Shelter. Assuming you don’t want to live under your parent’s roof anymore, the second step is, of course, finding someplace of your own. Most young adults I know opt for some sort of apartment or shared living situation. There can be a lot of things to consider here. First is rent, then you might have to get renter’s insurance. Then there are also all your utilities which may or may not be included (think water, gas, electric, sewage & trash bills), and your internet bill because of course none of us operate without wifi anymore. Luckily, if you choose apartment living, the apartment recommends companies for all of these, and if you opt for shared living, you have someone to help you research!
  3. The insurances. Hopefully, your job offers you some sort of health insurance package (see if it includes dental, vision, and mental), otherwise, you can probably stay on your parent’s plan until you’re 26 so don’t worry too much about that now. On the other hand, if you’ve got a car, you’ve got a car insurance payment. One trick you could use, is to buy your car under your parent’s name and pay your portion of the insurance to keep costs low. But if you’re on your own, just know that your premium will be a lot higher.
  4. The little things. All those little things your parents do that you take for granted? Yeah, now you’re responsible for those. You’re the one that is gonna buy your groceries, cook your food, clean your place, book your travel, schedule doctor’s appointments, take your car for oil changes, and stay on hold with the internet people when they are clearly overcharging you. I don’t know about you guys, but most of those I took completely for granted before moving out and becoming financially independent, but hey, if you’ve got these down, then you are in PRIME adulting condition.
  5. Retirement. I know, I know, you just started, how can you possibly think about retiring? Well, you MUST. I don’t want to preach at you but if you start saving now, even as little as 1% of your income, you will be much better off in the long run. And while you’re at it, make sure you get a Roth IRA plan. I prefer this one to other 401k plans because you will be taxed on the income you allocate to it today, which means when you withdraw it for retirement, you won’t be taxed on it! Pay now, relax later. That’s the idea.
  6. Emergencies. Unfortunately, the saying is true, shit does happen. And it WILL happen to you. When you are on your own, you will have to handle it. Someone will rear end you, or you will break your arm, or your debit card will get stolen, or an airline will lose all your luggage, or you’ll get stuck in a storm. Something terrible and unplanned will happen and it is important that you learn how to manage a crisis. Obviously, there are different ways to approach each one of the situations I described but the best advice I can offer is to KEEP CALM. This one is SO tough for me too, but crying, yelling, or freaking out in any way, will not help you. Breathe and promise yourself you can vent later, but now you gotta get it together (ProTip: always make sure you have a file containing your passwords for your important accounts, and identity information. Just create one, keep it someplace easily accessible, and you’ll thank me later)

Even though I just talked about all the things that kind of suck about being an adult, I do want to mention that being an adult is WAY better than being a kid. There were obviously some perks to the whole ignorance is bliss thing, but something I’ve learned since moving out and being financially independent is the sense of accomplishment I get from completing the mundane tasks I described above and from being completely responsible for myself…despite all the stress and hard work it takes. Maybe someday this feeling will go away because I’ll be too used to it, but for now, being an adult is actually pretty freaking great.

 

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Photography by the inimitable Clara Yu

 

Get Your Own Clique

Did you know that laziness is contagious? What about success? Of course these are not actual biological diseases but sometimes, they spread like they are.

Think about your friends for a moment. How would you describe them? I would describe mine as ambitious, effective, generous, and open-minded. That might sound boring to you, but it is completely by design. I’ve surrounded myself with people who are similarly minded to me and who also possess characteristics I aspire to.

However, sometimes people surround themselves with friends and acquaintances that hold them back. Behaviors are contagious. If all your friends stay out late every night, how long do you think it will be until you start staying out? If all your friends hate on your ideas for self-improvement, you might not stick with it… And so on and so forth.

This is something important to note about ‘successful’ people. They surround themselves with people who are experiencing or actually striving for similar success. Whether you define success as having a family, a happy relationship, or a billion-dollar company, their friends possess similar mindsets and they actually feed off of each other’s energy and improve in their respective goals.

This isn’t to say that all of your friends must be exactly like you, nor that you should carefully select them based on how successful they might make you. What you MIGHT want to consider, however, is being truer to yourself.

How will this help, you might ask? When you are honest with yourself and what you want, and consistently act in a way that is aligned with your goals, you will automatically attract similar people. For example, I have a really good friend from my freshman year of college. We got along pretty well from the start but where we really got close was at the gym. We both loved working out and put a priority on being fit and that provided the platform to solidify our friendship.

In a similar vein, I LOVE TV and movies, and I will talk about them with anyone who will listen. Lo and behold, I told an acquaintance about the show ‘Suits’ and when we watched the first few seasons together, we became best friends!

The point is, it can be silly or small, but don’t be afraid to own up to all aspects of your personality. Because once you realize and pursue your interests and goals, other people will recognize bits of their own aspirations in you and you will start to draw people that have similar mindsets. And the best part? No one is exactly the same! So even though you will attract people with familiar goals, they will be just different enough to make the friendship interesting.

 

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I love you guys, don’t hate me for using this heinous picture 🙂

 

 

I’m Homesick Already

My name is Melina, last week I moved to Calgary Canada, and I’m HOMESICK.

This probably doesn’t sound that surprising, but I’m honestly quite taken aback that this feeling came over me so quickly. I had been here for exactly two days and then we went grocery shopping at this huge grocery store, and let me tell you, it’s been a long time since I felt that helpless. I didn’t know where anything was, half the brands and food items I was used to weren’t there, or I couldn’t find them and I just felt this unbearable longing for the overpriced Ralph’s in downtown LA.

The next day, I tried to buy a few items on Amazon and boy was I in for a treat. You know how great Amazon is in the states? You can find anything and everything for crazy prices and it all arrives in two days? Yeah, not the same deal in Canada. The selection is almost comically inferior and the prices are hit or miss. And that two-day shipping deal? Almost nonexistent even with prime. So after realizing Amazon couldn’t help me at all in this country, I basically had a breakdown and laid on the floor for about an hour with glassy eyes halfway between crying and not.

I know Amazon and the grocery store sound pretty freaking trivial, but these are key components in setting up a new life and I’ve never had to set up shop before in a location that was almost familiar but just different enough to be completely unsettling. When I lived in China, I was already mentally prepared to not have any of the things I was used to. Canada, however, seems so close to the U.S. on the surface that it was easy to trick myself into thinking it would be nearly the same bar a few ‘sorry’s’ and ‘eh’s’.

Additionally, for the first time in my life, I find myself in a new place with no one around me going through the same thing. I know it hasn’t even been a week so I can’t expect to have already made friends or connections and I know this will eventually be spectacular for my personal growth, but right now, it just sucks. I feel out of place and out of step since there’s no one I can really turn to right now about this feeling.

I know these feelings will subside, and the longer I stay, the more familiar I will get with my surroundings and the more people I will meet. However, I wanted to get this off my chest because even though moving can be really exciting and fun, and starting in a new place can be like having a great blank slate to play with, that same blank slate can also be fucking terrifying. Writing this out was the perfect way to remind myself that it WILL be ok, and that for now, it is ok for me to cry or watch TV alone on weekends, or whatever.

If you would like me to continue chronicling my general feelings and activities about moving to a new country and starting over, please let me know, I’m sure I will have TONS to vent about in the coming months.

 

 

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Photography by the illustrious Clara Yu

 

Not So Lazy Sundays

Lazy Sundays. When did they become lazy? Why do we use Sundays as days to sleep for way too long and accomplish absolutely nothing besides dreading Monday? I used to treat Sundays like this. They were finally my day to myself where I could “relax.” But inevitably, I would feel groggy and lethargic spending my days barely moving in front of the TV.

In college was when I really started making Sundays a ‘productive’ relaxation day. This didn’t mean that I worked, or studied, or necessarily accomplished anything in the traditional sense, but it did mean I actively took care of myself and my hobbies. My favorite thing to do as a freshman? I walked to the beach and just spent hours out there by myself reading and swimming. Totally refreshing. So if you’re one of those people who’s Sundays always end up ruined by your own insistence on ‘doing nothing’, here’s a couple ideas to help your Sunday get off on the right foot.

  1. Get up before 9am. Notice how I said GET UP. Not just wake up. Because we all know that right after waking up we can literally spend hours on our phones doing fuckall. 9am is a great parameter to set for myself because it still allows me some freedom in sleeping in if I want, but I also know that if I stay in bed past nine I will already start to feel like I’ve wasted the day.
  2. MOVE. Sunday is my rest day, however, I do need to get my blood pumping at least a little bit so I will either go for a walk to pick up a coffee, or I will do a quick 10-15 minute stretch just so my body doesn’t feel groggy.
  3. Make yourself a proper breakfast. I’m pretty good about this on normal days, but I know a lot of people aren’t. A lot of people skip the first meal of the day by virtue of sleeping too long. On Sunday’s, treat yourself. I will either make a full omelet with fruit and toast, or I will make chocolate chip pancakes! Either way, making a more elaborate breakfast already makes me feel accomplished.
  4. Dedicate some time to your hobbies. Sunday can be a day to spend time working on your passion projects or things that make you happy. I typically do most of my blogging on Sundays and a ton of reading (currently reading Titan by Ron Chernow). I also use this day to spend a little time on self-improvement. I will dedicate a little time to practice my languages, as well as research personal finance which has become increasingly interesting to me. The best thing is that I can spend as little or as much time on each activity or hobby as I want!
  5. Friend time! I know we typically go out on Friday and Saturday nights, but Sunday brunch didn’t become a thing for no reason. Sunday can be the perfect day to do something relaxing with friends. Go for coffee, go shopping, or duh, go for brunch! I typically reserve my most low-key activities for Sunday since I do want to rest up for the week but it can still be a great day to spend the day out and about with some great company.
  6. Make a Plan. This one goes along with all of the above but is important that you set some goals for yourself even on Sundays. Even if those goals are only going to yoga and going to brunch. By making a plan you are mentally committing yourself to those activities. By no means should your Sunday goals be as ambitious or numerous as your weekday goals, but if you set some, you will find yourself feeling way more relaxed and accomplished.

I know a lot of this sounds like overzealous wellness practicing, but using your weekends productively is one of the most important things I’ve learned over the years. While time to veg out is great, for the most part, you should be taking part in things that actively make you feel accomplished or happy on weekends. They don’t have to be big or time-consuming, but those small changes can do wonders for your state of mind throughout the week.

4 Fitness Myths to QUIT Believing

It seems like despite the U.S.’s rising obesity rates our obsession with fitness and health has never been stronger. Never have there been more goods and services on the market promising to make you stronger, faster, healthier, or more beautiful. It seems like every time I turn around there is a new ‘health’ food being included in everything from salads to ice cream, or there is a new exercise class that promises celebrity athlete level abs in just ONE CLASS (for the low price of way too much money plus tax).

Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of health, nutrition, and fitness, and I do recognize that most of these trendy products and classes are just harmless trends with great marketing. However, there are some products and ideologies that keep permeating the fitness industry and are actually making it harder for people to get to the fitness level they want, or they are just downright damaging and dangerous to the body. The items below are myths that seem to stick to the industry no matter how many people debunk them, but dammit if I’m not going to at least tell my friends and family what they should be wary of.

  1. Right off the bat, my least favorite myth is that weight lifting makes you bulky. This one hits home for me as a woman because so many of my girlfriends have been terrified of lifting heavy weights or doing anything besides cardio because they didn’t want to become too buff. I want to point something out about this myth that should be obvious. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder? Do you have any idea how many hours and how much work you have to put into lifting to even get close to being described as bulky? The answer is A TON! And I promise you that you would definitely know if you were putting in that kind of work. We’re talking multiple hours at the gym every day, lifting HEAVY weight, and a strict diet to get those muscles to grow. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who will read this are definitely not putting in that kind of work, I know I’m not.
  2. In the same vein, another fitness myth that persists is that cardio is the only way you can lose weight. I’ve had a lot of friends only do cardio in the gym and tell me it’s because they want to lose their fat before they start building muscle. While cardio is an effective way to burn calories, I wouldn’t say that only doing cardio is the most effective. Many people don’t know that the more muscle you have on your body, the more energy you burn even while at rest, even while SLEEPING! Doing a combination of cardio, and other types of exercise can make your weight loss journey faster and more efficient than just running endless miles on a treadmill.
  3. Alright, let’s get to a flat out ridiculous trend that has gained traction in the past couple years: Detoxes. A whole slew of ‘detoxing’ juices, teas, and supplements promise to decrease the nasty things in your body, decrease bloating, and increase your energy. ALL, I repeat, ALL of these products are a load of crap. Your body already does an amazing job of detoxifying itself. Ever heard of your liver? Your kidneys? Those are your detoxifying instruments. Your body is already working to clarify your body as you read this, and I promise you an overpriced juice cleanse will only make you hungry and cranky. Furthermore, some of these products are downright dangerous. The detoxifying teas you see all over Instagram are nothing more than glorified laxatives. Most of them are not necessarily even FDA approved and can seriously damage your intestines and stool if you’re not careful.
  4. Ok last one, and this one is more cautionary. Scientific studies about health and fitness products appear all the time. You know the ones: “Studies show that one cup of coffee a day can increase weight loss!”. I’m not saying ALL these studies are complete BS, I just want to note that MANY are. First off, we have the problem of fake news so it might literally be completely made up. Secondly, many scientific studies are sponsored by companies and are therefore swayed to a certain result (like if Starbucks sponsored the coffee study. SURPRISE SURPRISE, coffee is good for you, buy more coffee, give your money to Starbucks, who cares about your health). And lastly, even if these studies are real, and not swayed by capitalism, many haven’t been replicated, and many haven’t even used sample sizes that are big enough or control groups. Scientists need to get published and flashy experiment results are great marketing. Quite a lot of problems with these ‘studies’, huh? I don’t want to make it sound like ALL research is bullshit, just make sure you do a bit of your own before believing someone else’s.

The world of fitness, nutrition, and wellness is flush with information and it can be easy to get caught in these niche tips and tricks that promise great results. When looking for advice, ask yourself if you find yourself being sold something as you’re reading/watching/listening? If a product is being pushed, chances are you need to dig in more before committing. And just for the record, the only method I know of that GUARANTEES results is hard work in he gym, and keeping your diet on track. Pure and simple.