The Value Of Traumatizing Children

WAIT WAIT WAIT I know it sounds bad, but bear with me a moment. I don’t mean PHYSICALLY traumatizing your children, I only mean psychologically traumatize them! Alright so that’s not better. But seriously, bear with me on this.

Lately I’ve been trading childhood stories with some friends of mine. You know, buddies. Pals. Amigos. I have some of those. Anyway, more and more I’ve been realizing that mine and my sister’s upbringing may have been… unorthodox, to say the least. That’s a long story, but there’s one aspect in particular that I want to focus on, and that aspect happens to be stories themselves.

Every child that’s raised in a semi-decent home gets told stories. Usually, the stories parents choose are tailored specifically for children. But not my parents, no no. They decided that any story could be a children’s story simply by virtue of being told to a child. Case in point: Greek mythology. Most everyone knows that most every Greek myth ends in horror or tragedy or cruel irony and are perhaps the farthest thing from Disney movies as you can get.

Let’s sidebar for a moment so I can really impress this upon you. Since I brought up Disney, we’ll stick with it for a moment. Disney’s Hercules follows the son of Zeus and Hera, who gets tricked by Hades, as he falls in love with a human named Meg and battles the Titans. It ends with him saving the world and getting the girl and learning what it means to truly ~be a hero~ and so on and so forth. The true story of Hercules is such: Zeus (per usual) slept with a mortal woman who bore a child. Zeus knew that Hera, his freakin’ wife, wouldn’t be happy, so he had the baby named Herakles to honor her. But Hera was not pleased. She plagued his youth with multiple attempts on his life, then finally, when he was married with three children, she sent a madness upon him that drove him to murder his wife and children. All his adventures? Penance for his crimes. His life ended when his second wife, tricked by a centaur, gave him a poisoned tunic that burned him so badly that he leapt into a fire.

Take a guess as to which story my parents read to us.

All our books of myths were the real deal, no kiddie stuff. Atalanta? Turned into a lion after her wedding for failing to pay homage to Aphrodite. Narcissus? Wasted away staring at himself. Niobe? Watched all fourteen of her children murdered in front of her because she slighted Leto. Phaeton? That boy was blasted out of the sky because his stupidity was going to destroy the world.

Thing is, little baby me didn’t register this as being strange. This was just how stories were, in my mind. It wasn’t until recently that I found out that this isn’t what one would generally call normal. Most kids get told stories where the endings are happy and the villains don’t matter.

So what? What’s the difference? Well, I think, at least, that this has affected my development. I skipped the disillusionment of finding out that Santa’s not real and not every story has a happy ending because I never lived under either of those illusions. (In our house, Santa was ~part of the spirit of Christmas~ not an actual person.) I don’t think I’m jaded or pessimistic because of it; in fact I think it’s the opposite. Instead of going through the ups and downs of believing in something then losing that faith, I’m able to start on a clean slate and work my way up, so to speak. If I start with the assumption that things will end badly, then there’s nowhere to go but up, right? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s more important for kids to grow up happy and believing in happy endings. There’s always time for them to learn later, right? But I would’t say I was an unhappy child. You couldn’t even pin my current mental issues on this part of my upbringing, because my sister grew up the same way and she’s pretty functional. So what if she ate the storybooks? (That’s right, it’s call out time.)

Anyway, I’m not going to pretend that I know the best way to raise a child. I’m still half a child myself. But I think there’s something to be said about not lying to your children. Kids are smarter than they often get credit for, and they can handle more than you’d think. Just look at how dark some kids movies are! They can take it! And there’s no loss of childhood wonder, just a redirection of it. Maybe I’m just a little nuts for looking at a tree and thinking about how it might be a nymph in disguise. But I think we ought to give kids more credit than they’re getting. They’re not stupid, and I don’t think they’re done any favors by hiding reality from them. Bad things happen, they’re gonna learn sometime or other. May as well give them as much time as possible to figure out how to deal with it, and how to make your own happy ending.

PS: The only people who ever got happy endings in the myths were people who acted selflessly and without pride, putting others first and working hard. Frankly, if you ask me, that’s a much better lesson than just “be nice”.

PPS: Case in point, Admetus and Alcestis got a happy ending because they were literally willing to die for each other. Well, that and Herakles wrestled the physical embodiment of Death himself so they could live. See, it’s not all bad. Just punch Death in the face and everything will be fine. (Terms and Conditions may apply.)14107627_1060618800696283_3442762360669744485_o

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You’ve Heard of Beat Your Face, Now Get Ready For…

BEAT YOUR BRAIN. Beat it like the Russian team in an American sports film.

It’s no secret that I don’t have a great brain. Anyone who spends more than a few minutes with me can figure that out. Yet I’m out here living my life, going to school (most of the time), getting gigs, chillin’ with friends, etc. How? I fight my brain.

Maybe it’s not a fistfight, but it is a fight. Being mentally ill really takes the phrase “your greatest enemy is yourself” to the next level, because accomplishing even the smallest of tasks becomes a battle. The best way I’ve found to get around that is by removing as many obstacles as possible between where I am and where I need to be.

Brain: you can’t get up

Me: alright well my clothes are on the floor by my bed, so I can just get dressed under my covers and see how I feel.

This is one of the earliest tricks I came up with. Sometimes just the notion of getting out of bed feels just as plausible as climbing Kilimanjaro, so I removed some of the difficulty. If my clothes for the day are in arm’s reach, as I almost always leave them the night before, I don’t need to get out of bed to get changed. Then once I’m dressed, I usually feel better, and I can get up. Or at the very least, all the moving around made me need to pee so I need to get up anyway. Then once I’m up, I can tell myself that I can just wash my face and make some tea and go back to bed if I truly feel so awful. Usually, after all that, I’ve convinced myself that going to class isn’t all that bad anymore.

Brain: you can’t make a sandwich

Me: fine then I’ll just stand in front of the fridge and eat pieces of cheese, deli meat, and lettuce until I’m full because it’s basically the same thing.

Where most people gain that “Freshman 15” in college, I actually lost a lot of weight from simple lack of eating. On bad days I just have no desire to eat and no energy to make myself anything. But sometimes you don’t have to make yourself something, and I’m not talking about ramen. Having things that I can eat with my hands, and not have to worry about doing the dishes later, has been a huge help. And it’s nothing fancy, either. Usually it’s just something like cheese, bread or crackers, and some kind of non-messy vegetable or fruit. Non-messy is key for me, since (like with the dishes) sometimes feeling like I’ll have a mess to clean puts a damper on my plan. So a lot of times it’s just eating an entire, un-cut cucumber, or pulling off leaves from a head of lettuce, or handfuls of spinach from a salad mix. Does it look ridiculous? Absolutely. But does it keep me alive? Yeah, so I don’t care how many times my roommates walk in on me with handfuls of greens.

But it’s not always as simple as that. On my worst days, no amount of exercising, healthy eating, or showering can make me feel better. These tricks aren’t some kind of cure-all; I still have the same chemical imbalances in my brain and I still spend many a day locked up in my room, unable to face the world. But I have a whole lot less of those days when I can trick myself into just one more task, and then one more task, and so on until I’m dressed with a full face of makeup, my bag packed, and a nice breakfast in front of me.

Am I wrong? Maybe. But, as pictured, even a broken clock is right twice a day. So it ain’t much, but it’s all I’ve got, and you have similar issues then I hope this could help you, even a little bit.

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Steal the Little Things

I’ve realized over the past few years that I am a highly adaptable person. I’m not sure how I turned into this person since I distinctly remember being a nightmarish, stubborn goblin as a small child. But I have to believe this started early because I know I started to steal little things from people as early as age nine.

I don’t mean stealing material things (although my collection of different post-its was BOMB), I mean stealing little habits or tricks that I thought would make my life better. For example, the earliest memory I have of this is seeing a girl in one of my classes in fourth grade write a capital letter ‘E’. Up until that point, I had written it using one vertical line and then tacking on three horizontal lines one by one. But this girl (S/O to Emily Yuill) wrote hers as if it were a backwards three. I suppose this is also the cursive way to write it, but at that moment it seemed so fluid – one motion, smooth and unique. I decided I liked it, and I’ve written my E’s that way ever since.

Although that’s the earliest example I have, I can remember adapting all sorts of things – especially when it comes to ways of speaking and certain phrases. It’s been very helpful when I’m in a new environment to sound as alike to others as possible. I’ve become rather good at mimicking cadences of speaking and picking up common phrases in certain circles whether it’s a foreign country or a work environment. While this is helpful in my day to day life, I end up sounding quite strange when I’m speaking in a casually since my style has now become an amalgamation of many.

This also might be the reason I am obsessed with the daily routines of pretty much anyone. Those morning routine videos on youtube are like crack to me (a close second are packing videos). I am constantly searching for little tiny things that I think are more efficient or more helpful that I can add to my life. And it’s worked quite well for me, pretty much everything from my morning routine, speaking style, travel habits, and work behavior is a collection of tiny things I’ve noticed on others, adapted to myself.

I suppose this systematic collection of behaviors is basically what growing up is, but I’ve always been pretty aware of it. As soon as I see something I like, I immediately switch over to it to try it out. Not everything works though. For example, cold morning showers – HELL NO. I’ve tried a lot of things, sometimes too many things at once, and now I’ve amassed a whole swath of habits that I can trace back to a specific person, article, or video I’ve encountered.

This cultivation of activity is something that I’ve realized I love doing. I love looking for things that improve my life and recognizing them in others. Are there any behaviors you’ve adapted over the years? Think about it for a quick sec and see what things you do now that may have been appropriated from friends or family. You’d be surprised what you’ve collected.

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PC: Kiki Moussetis

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 ❤

 

Stress Fest

I had some enlightened political post planned for today, but instead, I decided it was high time I got a little bit vulnerable with this blog.

The last few weeks I have been under incredible pressure. I have been ridiculously stressed before, but not since university, and even then I handled it in questionable ways.

To set the scene: I have been travelling for the last 6 weeks nonstop. I rolled on to a difficult to please client, with tons of time-sensitive work, and I fly out every Monday morning to see them and fly back late at night on Thursday evenings. When I return home, I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions between spending time with my boyfriend, my family, my friends, and my own personal hobbies like this blog.

Usually, I think of myself as pretty collected. The last few weeks…not so much. The tiniest comment from someone can send me into a full-blown depression spiral (suicidal thoughts, and all), and my anxiety levels are so through the roof that I’ve had a sobbing breakdown almost every Saturday for five weeks straight. We are talking on the floor of the bathroom ugly crying until I can barely breathe and my face is so puffy it looks like I had an allergic reaction to something. So you could say I’ve been rather high strung lately and it has not been pretty (it should be noted that my boyfriend has been extra great these past few weeks and deserves a shoutout).

Believe it or not though, I am actually handling the added stress much better than I have in the past and that’s because of one simple thing: I have not given up on my wellbeing.

In the past, when I’m under this much stress, my diet goes to shit (like gummy bears for dinner), my sleep takes a hit from staying up late trying to distract myself with shitty TV, and my workout schedule becomes just another chore. Although these behaviors felt like they were helping in the moment, ultimately they bit me in the ass HARD. My skin broke out, I was tired all the time, and I felt out of control.

Clearly, I’m no expert but my ONE tip on handling stress is to keep your wellbeing a priority. It is the one thing you can always control and the one thing that may just keep you sane as all the external craziness washes over you. Below, I’ve outlined what I do every single day to mitigate my stress and promote wellbeing. Not all of these will sound appealing to everyone, and maybe they don’t’ even apply to some of you. Everyone has their ‘things’ that help them feel healthy, whole, and in control. As long as you know what yours are and you make the effort to practice them no matter what, then you can’t really go wrong.

  1. You knew this was coming – I workout. 6 days a week, I make an effort to do something active. During the week, these are especially helpful because it helps me expel any negative energy that comes from a stressful day with the client. On Fridays and Saturdays, it is simply about feeling good about my body.
  2. Diet. This one has been harder to control lately as I’ve been travelling so much, but I’ve made a special effort to eat better while on the road. Eating lots of heavy, rich foods just makes me feel tired and slow. I notice a visible difference when I eat lighter, more nutrition dense meals for lunch and dinner. I also limit my desserts as those are usually my kryptonite.
  3. Meditation. This one is a new thing I’ve been doing since the start of 2018. I take ten minutes every day to go through a meditation exercise to regulate my breathing and practice controlling my perception of certain emotions. I use the Headspace app since I’m not practiced enough to guide myself through a meditation and the app has this calming male British voice to walk me through exercises which makes it much easier.
  4. Self Improvement – This takes many forms, but for me, I spend ten to fifteen minutes every single day practicing either my Greek or my Spanish (unfortunately Mandarin is getting left out because Duolingo doesn’t carry it). I also spend a half hour to an hour every day reading or writing. These are things that I’m doing for my own personal growth and that feel especially rewarding because I am doing them solely for my own improvement, not for anyone else.

It’s important to note that while these things help enormously in terms of keeping me feeling like I’m in control, I am still reduced to an insecure pile of tears every Saturday so there is still work to be done. And it’s also significant to note that it’s ok to be overwhelmed sometimes. It’s going to happen. The important thing is that you have an action plan to get on top and get going again.

 

 

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Me trying to channel Wonder Woman to cope with my stress PC: Kiki Moussetis (the queen of stress)

 

She’s the Brave One

It’s my sister’s birthday today! I’m sad I can’t be in Chicago to celebrate with her but it’s a Wednesday and we both have lives to live so we celebrated a little bit early. She turns twenty this year which means nothing so I’ve started planning for her twenty-first instead.

In any case, I had to, of course, write a little shout out post to her. I’ve written about my sister and my relationship with her a couple times before, and she’s even been a guest author on my blog so I’ll spare you all the repeats of content and focus in on one of my favorite things about her.

For those of you that don’t know, my sister suffers from a bit of social anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Sounds like a horrible combination to me, but she bears it like a champ for the most part. The crazy thing is that despite all of those emotional blocks, she is fearless.

First things first, she is studying to become a film director. Most parents I know would have a minor heart attack if their kid wanted to go into film because it’s just not a dependable career (this includes my dad who pleaded repeatedly with her to get a second major at first). Consequently, many kids would be talked out of such a path early on and go on to major in something boring to get a boring job that brings in good money (enter, me).

Not her though, she saw the special features on the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and said yep, this is the life for me. I’ve always been jealous of people who know exactly what they want to do, but she not only knows, she knows she has chosen a path that is very difficult to succeed on. She knows that to become a star director, there will be a lot of shitty jobs, long day, and bad pay. Or you know, she might submit a film to Sundance next year and become a breakout star at 21. It could happen.

She also never backs down. Ever.

Let’s compare us for a small moment. I have a pretty strong moral code. There are certain things that I just will not let fly and I will call people out on for the most part. However, I do have a threshold where I will flex my morals for my own personal gain. My sister does not. At least not one that I’ve seen. She will defend her views and others with every breath she’s got and no amount of personal gain could make her budge on that.

Her empathy for others is tied to directly to this moral code since she strongly believes that everyone should have equal opportunity and that people with more should help people with less. One of her common habits is eating lunch out in between classes, but if she passes someone on the street begging for food, you can bet she just gave her whole, recently purchased, lunch to that person and would go hungry that day instead. Most people I know would never do that. (Maybe I’m just friends with selfish people haha).

Furthermore, while she sometimes has trouble standing up for herself depending on the scenario, she almost never has trouble standing up for others. She refuses to let people be judged based on their demographics and will absolutely not stand for discrimination. So help anyone who tries to patronize or marginalize a group in conversation. She will RUIN you.

But in the end, it’s not about her witty insults or fiery conversation, it’s about the fact that she is willing to go to the ends of the earth to achieve what she believes in. Doesn’t matter if it’s her passion for film or her passion for others. Most people are like me, we compromise our ideals if there is something in it for us. We obviously have our limits, but we are much quicker to give up abstract beliefs when there is a reward. My sister is not. She will not flex, bend, or break.

There are tons of things I love about my sister – She can always be counted on to sing showtunes with me, she can calm me down literally within seconds, she’s the best writing teacher I’ve ever had, the best debate partner, she has fearless style – and so on. Of course, she also has flaws, but lacking conviction is not one of them and that is perhaps my favorite thing about her.

Happy birthday Kiki! I’m stocking up on sangria for next year!

 

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PC: Our loving mother

 

 

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.

 

 

Moving to Canada: Take 5

It’s been a minute since I last wrote about my move. It was at the end of January and I was finally feeling pretty positive about my relocation. I had started to make some friends, and my work life was getting increasingly busier. So busy, in fact, that I hadn’t had any time to reflect on how I was really feeling.

It’s nearing the end of six months and I’ve finally had a slow weekend to relax and think a little bit. I think I’ve started to settle into a rhythm here in Calgary.  Work has picked up a ton which keeps me busy (and keeps my stress levels engaged). I travel almost every single week, so I guess it’s a good thing I have such cheap rent now since I hardly spend time in my apartment during the week.

I’ve also really been trying to work on those friendships I started back in January. Since originally just going climbing with a couple girls a few times a week, I’ve done a ski weekend, and had some double dinner dates thrown in for good measure. I’ve gotten loads better at downhill skiing as well as steadily progressing on rock climbing, and actually look forward to being outdoors (shocking, I know).

All in all, I am starting to feel good about my life here. But that is just it – I feel good, but not great. I don’t believe this is any fault of the people I’ve met, the city itself, or even underlying homesickness. I believe it’s my own unrest that is leaving me dissatisfied.

I was talking to a friend earlier in the week and we were discussing how most people in our friend group always need to feel like we’re moving forward and part of that feeling is physically moving locations at every available opportunity. I’m particularly guilty of this (7 places in 5 years), but I can’t figure out where it stems from. I fear to stay in any place longer than a year and view part of my success synonymously with changing locations. And now that I’m past the halfway point in my lease in Calgary, I’m starting to feel myself growing restless.

Where do I go from here? I’ve conquered my fear of moving to a new city in a new country and building a life from scratch, and part of me craves doing it all over again. The other part of me simply fears growing complacent by staying in one place for too long and becoming comfortable. One of my favourite ways to challenge myself is by moving to new places and I’m terrified of ever growing too attached to a place out of convenience.

So my new questions for myself are as follows: why do I feel the need to move around? And if I don’t move, how can I still find ways to push myself?

Does anyone else feel like their success depends on moving around? Or feel afraid of staying in one place for too long and becoming too comfortable to move again? Let me know!

 

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PC: The talented Megan Lawson

 

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

 

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