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

 

 

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My Mom Knows the Words to Every Disney Song

I know I’ve jumped the gun a bit since Mother’s Day is still a week and a half away but next Wednesday is already reserved for another special post so I’ll just have to talk about how great my mom is a little sooner.

The idea of motherhood is still something I find unbelievable. Not only do mothers grow and support a tiny creature with their own body, they then have to extricate it painfully from their body, and then, of course, support it for the next eighteen years give or take a few. And while western countries are slowly becoming more progressive in terms of divvying up childcare responsibilities, in most parts of the world, mothers do most of the child-rearing work, especially at the beginning. Motherhood requires such selflessness, patience, and nurturing. Therefore, I find it extremely difficult to wrap my mind around this concept since I, on the other hand, can barely keep a damn cactus alive, much less a helpless little human.

Consequently, I believe mothers deserve an ENORMOUS shoutout. And of course, like most people who love their mothers, I think my mom is the BEST. Not only did she put up with, excuse me SHUT DOWN, all of my petty shit, she also made me resilient which might be one of my most important traits. Oh, and she also made me taller than average which I LOVE.

My mom is a very no-nonsense person on the surface. One of her favorite lines to feed me and my sister was “crying doesn’t solve anything”. Sounds harsh, but she’s right, isn’t she? I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen her breakdown, and if she decides to keep a straight face, she’s almost impossible to crack. One of the perks of being a swimmer was that she had to control her yelling since she knew I couldn’t hear her from the water. She doesn’t give in to puppy dog eyes, pouting, screaming, crying, or begging. I hardly got in trouble because all it took was one look from her to make me feel so guilty about whatever line I had toed, that I never did it again.

On the other hand, and she may kill me for outing her this way, she is a child at heart. Once you crack the surface even a little bit, she’s a total jokester. She’s the reason me and my sister know ALL the words to every Disney song, her sarcasm is off the charts, and she does enjoy the occasional harmless prank. She would tickle me and my sister mercilessly and would make up tons of ridiculous voices when she read us stories.

Despite all of the above traits, there are specific things that my mom did that really turned me into the person I am today. One of the most vivid memories I have is when I was probably about seven or eight and I remember my mom was in the upstairs bathroom getting ready and we were arguing about something – I have no idea what – when I told her I hated her. I remember being LIVID (or as livid as a seven-year-old can be) and shouting that at her. She calmly set down her makeup and walked straight past me down the stairs. I ran after her screaming my head off to tell me what she was doing. She made it all the way to the garage door, I was now crying, and I yelled, “where are you going?”. She turned and told me she was leaving. She said, if I hated her so much, she would leave so she didn’t cause me any more trouble. Oh boy did I backtrack after that. I was practically weeping and pleading that she didn’t go, and that I didn’t mean it. Because of that instance, as well as a few others, I always endeavour to mean what I say and say what I mean.

My mom is also a great study in small talk. I’m only now using some of her techniques, but she was always so great making small talk at the grocery store, with her colleagues, and at parties she didn’t even want to be at. I’ve always admired this about her, and now that I’m older, I realize how important this skill really is. She’s the kind of person that everybody feels comfortable with. I have no idea how she does it, but maybe I can figure it out sooner rather than later.

Probably my favorite characteristic about my mom is how open she always strived to be. For example, at the first signs of puberty, my mom handed me a bunch of books on the subject and told me to come to her with any questions. This technique made sense for me since I was a voracious reader. The part that was amazing though, was that she truly meant it. I was able to ask her anything. Sure, some questions were a little awkward, but she answered every single one and never made me feel judged for asking. And no matter what, she always made it clear that it was much more important to her that I was safe and happy than anything else. When I told her I was ready for sex, she took me to get birth control no questions asked. When I would go out with friends, she told me to call if I drank because she’d rather come pick me up than have me drive myself for fear of her finding out and getting in trouble.

This article is already getting too long, but I could go on about my mom FOREVER. She’s the reason I have such discipline to work out. Her eyes are the coolest shade of gray/blue/green. She makes killer baklava. She loves to watch animated movies with me and my sister. And she ALWAYS picks up the phone when I call her even though I’m the worst and only call her when I’m in transit. I can call her sobbing and she knows when to soothe me and when to tell me to buck up. She’ll stroke my hair so gently it makes me sleepy and when I’m in town she’s my ultimate gym buddy. Happy Early Mother’s Day Mom, I’ll see you tomorrow!

 

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Just me, rushing to try and be as cool as my mom. PC: Kiki Moussetis (for both photos)

 

 

 

 

How To Live with Your Boyfriend

I’ve lived with other people. My first year of college I had a roommate and seven suitemates, in my second year of college I shared a closet-sized room with the nicest girl ever, and my final year of college I got an apartment with one of my best friends.

But then I lived alone for a year, and I ended up LOVING it. I got to be very selfish and live exactly the way I wanted with nobody to answer to. Alas, that couldn’t last forever, and I moved in with my boyfriend about six months ago. Nobody tells you that living with your romantic partner is a hell of a lot different than just living with a roommate.

When you live with a roommate you basically just live separate lives within a common space. Of course, you hang out, divide some chores, and lay some ground rules to keep the peace, but you don’t create a life together. So since living with my boyfriend, I’ve learned quite a few things:

  1. We have different levels of cleanliness. It’s not like one of us is a neat freak and the other is a slob, but we both have our quirks and we had to reconcile those so as not to drive the other up a wall. For example, Michael HATES when the dish soap sits on the counter, it HAS to be put away. And I can’t stand leaving dishes in the sink overnight so everything has to be washed before I go to bed no matter who got it dirty. Once we figured out these differences, we have both made an effort to accommodate the other. They aren’t big things, they are just different habits to make.
  2. Next set of rules I noticed were boundaries, or in our case, the lack thereof. However, it did dawn on me that other couples might have stronger senses of shame so this is a crucial one to figure out. For example, for us, it’s not an issue for both of us to be in the bathroom getting ready at the same time, or if someone is showering and someone is going to the bathroom it’s fine. On the other hand, we both usually prefer to take phone calls privately so we’ll go to a separate room and close the door. Or if I’m taking a bath, I prefer solitude. Knocking is preferred in cases like those but figuring out when you need some privacy, in general, will be a big deal when cohabitating.
  3. In the same vein, it was SUPER important for us to figure out how to give each other enough alone time. I, especially, need a lot of alone time and being able to communicate was a struggle at first because I would feel guilty for asking for time by myself when I had just spent the whole week travelling for work or something. We had many a discussion about this and basically, as long as we’re super transparent about what either of us is feeling, we are good to go. And when I say transparent I mean ‘Hey, I need about three hours of alone time today’. It may sound clinical, but it does the trick.
  4. A smaller, but surprisingly significant part of living together is splitting up chores. With roommates, it’s pretty easy because you basically just look after your own shit and spend a day every two weeks cleaning the whole apartment. With a significant other, you share all of those responsibilities and the problems arise when one person feels like they do more than the other. To avoid this, we found it was helpful to have our own ‘jobs’. For instance, when I’m home, I pretty much always am responsible for the laundry. Michael handles the dishwasher. I clean the bathrooms, and he cleans the floors and kitchen (don’t feel bad for me, I HATE mopping so much more than scrubbing toilets). If I cook, Michael cleans up and vice versa. If we both do our jobs, neither one of us feels like we’re stuck with all the housework.
  5. Last but not least: you can’t hide your gross parts anymore. If one of you is sick, you both are living with it. On the bright side, this means you always have someone to take care of you or help you out. If you’ve got a cold, the other can pick up some medicine. If you’ve got a horrible kink in your neck, the other can try and massage it out. And if you’ve got a weird bump on your back, the other can check for skin cancer. The point is, my relationship has lost any sense of glamour it may have once had because we’re both comfortable enough to show each other our uncomfortable sides.

To me, living together is one of the potential biggest hurdles in a long-term relationship. I mean, if you can’t cohabitate, good luck making it for the long haul. There have definitely been annoyances, fights, and teary discussions trying to figure all this stuff out. But despite the bad, and the ugly, moving in with my boyfriend was one of the best decisions.

 

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Me and my man cross-country skiing PC: Megan Lawson

 

 

Love & Capitalism

Ah Valentine’s Day. You either love it or you hate it, right?

I myself, actually have pretty mild feelings (for once) about this holiday. It’s never played a huge part in my life whether I was single or in a relationship and as a result, I had never given it much thought. It just sort of passed vaguely under my radar as grocery stores stocked up on flowers and red or pink wrapped chocolates.

But that, my friends, is the problem. Indulge me for a moment in a brief history lesson. Valentine’s day was originally created to honor Valentine of Rome, and Valentine of Terni, both religious martyrs who were revered as Saints. Although there have been feasts on this day for centuries to honor the aforementioned religious figures, the notion of this day being romantic didn’t occur until Chaucer suggested the idea in one of his literary works (remember Geoffrey Chaucer from high school English?)

There are numerous other theories as to how the day became associated with love, but the Chaucer link clearly exists. As Chaucer connected this day to medieval courting, it became customary to give trinkets, confections, and flowers to one’s romantic interest on Valentine’s Day. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with giving your crush or significant other something nice, but let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day isn’t courting anymore, it has turned into a MONEY MAKING MONSTER.

BILLIONS are spent every year on the holiday and the anticipation beforehand can be likened to Christmas. Listicles fill the web offering gift guides for him and for her, date night ideas, restaurants offering deals on wine, etc. Getting a reservation is impossible. Grocery stores have aisles dedicated to heart candies, red balloons, and flowers. Flower shops probably make half their yearly revenue in February alone. It’s insane.

I get it. This holiday is another one that depends on gift giving so it’s only natural for businesses to seize the opportunity to sell us more stuff. But the high stakes of Valentine’s day can only lead to disappointment, and that’s the part that honestly makes me sad. The day has created an enormous amount of pressure on couples to do something over the top for each other on the day and that can be really stressful. People that aren’t in relationships also have to have relationship-themed EVERYTHING thrown in their face for about a month, and finally, what happened to appreciating your partner on every other day of the year?

Who says you can’t have a lovely candlelit dinner on April 10th? Or buy your special someone a cute present just because it reminded you of them on September 27th? The relationship of February 14th to romance is tenuous at best and there is no real reason to give the day any more meaning for your relationship than any other day. Sure, I have bought my boyfriend a little present for today, but I also buy him presents or treat him to dinner on any other day of the year, and he does the same for me.

If anything, I’d recommend creating your own romantic holiday. Maybe your anniversary, or some other day that means something to your relationship because honestly, February the 14th is just an old Saint’s holiday turned into a massive avenue for capitalism and it’s a little sickening.

I sincerely apologize if this article killed anyone’s romantic day (or your libido ;)). Valentine’s day can still be an awesome excuse to celebrate but don’t let it turn into something bigger than it needs to be, and definitely, don’t let it limit your appreciation for your loved ones. Happy V Day!

 

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Me and my V Day partner. Although we kinda celebrated early in Mexico 🙂

 

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

 

Lessons from the Fam

As the holiday season comes to a close, I am going to end my three-week trip back to my hometown in Chicago and consequently end my time with my family for awhile. I know the holidays for some can be the worst time of year BECAUSE of their family, but for me, my family brings a lot of joy. And the winter holiday season is one of the only times I get to spend a bunch of time with them since leaving home nearly five years ago.

Family is a highly subjective concept. I know people with hardly any family at all, and people with family trees so complicated they have eight sets of grandparents they keep in touch with. Although I have a relatively large extended family, my immediate family is obviously what has made the biggest impact on me. From the outside, it looks pretty standard: Mom, Dad, and a little sister. Just four of us. My parents have a healthy relationship and have done everything in their power to give my sister and me tons of opportunities, while my sister and I progressed as typical siblings do, getting along one minute and then being best friends the next.

I realize I am wildly fortunate to be living with the above situation, as there are many people who don’t get to come from a stable, healthy household. Every time I come home, and stay in my heinous pink/orange colored old bedroom (I have only myself to blame for the color palette), I always end up reflecting on how this family has fostered me and my personality. Of course, I am a flawed individual but there are certain lessons that got started in my family that I believe made me a much better person.

  1. Knowledge is Power: This lesson is something that my dad would say all the time but my parents made it their business to enforce it. Books of all kinds were everywhere in the house, my parents would read to me and my sister constantly, and going to the bookstore to pick out a new book was a huge treat. Even though we read mostly fiction books at the time, we were still learning — new vocabulary, grammar, and new ideas and concepts. As young girls, the majority of our Christmas lists were filled with books and we would just devour them. This has stuck with me in a big way. I continue to read voraciously and attribute my relatively strong writing and critical thinking skills to all of those books.
  2. Not good, not bad, just different: Although this phrase wasn’t always used, it’s content was always implied when our family encountered things that were vastly different from our own norms. My sister and I went to school in a very diverse school district and as a result, we had questions about other people and other traditions that we were exposed to. Both of my parents were very good at stressing the idea that people are different, and even though it is important to recognize those differences, it doesn’t mean they are any better or worse than we are. I believe this lesson made me a lot slower to judge others and a lot more open to understanding other cultures when I encounter them through travel or in another person.
  3. No jeans with holes: This is kind of a silly one, but my mom would not let me wear flip-flops, sweatpants, loungewear, or jeans with holes in them for a very long time. Although I possessed these items, I was not permitted to wear them to school (leading me to smuggle my flip flops into my elementary school haha). I don’t really remember these rules being enforced too much after I turned eleven, but the lesson was already there. The lesson was to always make an effort to look put together. She never pushed makeup on me or girly clothes, but my mom recognized the importance of putting effort into one’s appearance and I carried that with me. It is always important to look polished and professional because people really do judge on appearances, and I would never want anyone to assume I can’t handle myself because I can’t handle my own appearance.
  4. Listen & Practice: Last one, best one. My father said this CONSTANTLY. It was his way of wording the key to success. If my sister or I was struggling with anything or we had just started a new sport or class, he would say “listen & practice”. It seems simple, but many people fail on at least one of these two counts. They either fail to do their due diligence and listen to teachers or mentors properly, or they fail to put in the work on the back end. I have used this concept constantly throughout my life and I like to think it makes me a very coachable person. I really do take criticism well and try to manifest it into an improvement. I also have an intense amount of discipline so that if I really want to master something, I will work every single day until I do.

There were, of course, many other lessons I was taught as a kid, but the ones I just described were so ingrained in the fabric of our family that I can clearly tell they made a big impact. They taught me to keep learning, have discipline, be professional, and to be open-minded. Those lessons are things that a lot of people don’t get from their family and that, to me, are invaluable for the rest of your life.

 

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Aren’t we cute?

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitch Sessions: Whiners

I haven’t done one of these in a while because nobody has really pissed me off lately (probably a good thing, I’m spending less time being angry). However, I connected with an old friend the other day and one of my biggest pet peeves resurfaced.

I don’t know if there’s really a name for this, but it really chaps my hide when people repeatedly complain about things that are completely within their power to change.

There’s that friend who always complains that they are out of shape but they never even consider setting foot in a gym or eating a vegetable.

There’s that friend who complains about how their crush is using them but they make no effort to remove that person from their life or reshape their feelings.

Or, there’s that friend that complains about how they are poor or wish they had more money/resources but they do the bare minimum at work and don’t make any extra effort on the side.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. Sometimes people don’t have the power, they might be encumbered by mental or physical illness or have suffered from some other enormous setback. These are NOT the people I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people that just don’t want to put in any effort above the baseline, but who ALSO have the nerve to whine about their lives constantly.

Don’t get me wrong, everybody is entitled to a good venting session. Sometimes things really do suck and you gotta get that negative energy off your chest. But the healthy thing is to get those feelings out and THEN go and fix the situation. If you just let it fester, then one of two things is happening: 1. You are ridiculously lazy. This is possible, but it is more likely the next reason 2. You like the attention you get from complaining so often. Friends and family want to help loved ones in need and you prey on this kindness. The people you complain to sympathize, they listen, they offer advice, they validate your negative feelings, and you thrive off of it.

This is a tough cycle to break because friends/family want to offer support, but their support isn’t supposed to feed the complaining. It is supposed to make you feel loved during a time of need and give you the platform to make a change. You’re not supposed to lay on that platform until someone props you up, you need to harness that love and MAKE YOUR LIFE HAPPEN.

UGH. It drives me absolutely bonkers when I see people constantly whine about things they know they can change. This is why I usually get labelled as the ‘mean’ or ‘callous’ friend. I can always get behind a good venting session (clearly), but I refuse to let them take advantage of my support and friendship. If you have a friend like this, point it out to them, because they sure as hell aren’t going to change on their own.

 

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Friends don’t let friends become whiners

 

 

 

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

 

Sister Sister

On Saturday, my little sister left for a study abroad stint in Mumbai India. Even though we haven’t lived in the same city for years now, somehow her being across the globe makes me miss her way more, and in the wake of her painful absence, I thought I’d do a piece on why she means so much to me.

If you’ve ever talked to me for at least an hour, you know at least one thing about my little sister. She comes up in conversation inevitably for me because she’s literally my favorite person and I’m so freaking proud of everything she does.

Mushiness aside, my sister is three and a half years younger than me, and for years we had a typical sibling relationship where we would get along fine one minute and then we’d be at each other’s throats the next. However, I do admit that most of these fights were probably my fault, I was a rather unpleasant child…and some would argue a still unpleasant adult. BUT, somewhere along the line, right around when I started high school, something clicked and we became super close.

If you’ve met us both, you know that from the outside we almost couldn’t be more different. She has short hair, I prefer long. She likes color, I like black. She is as gay as they come, and I am straight as an arrow. She likes art, drawing, creating, and I prefer numbers, lists, and executing (plans, not people). She’s a socialist, and I’m a capitalist. This obviously boils us down to a bit of an extreme but for most people who aren’t close to us, they really can’t see how we could ever be related.

But when you scratch the surface just a little bit, you find that we have an uncommonly close relationship.

The fact of the matter is, when people are around us, they’ve said our interactions are like watching a tennis match. Kiki and are able to converse so fast, using references, shared experiences, and our intense familiarity with the other’s personality to have conversations and make jokes at such sharp speed it can be jarring for others who haven’t experienced it. There’s much less of that ‘how is life?’ small talk that I see from so many other families. We always jump into dissecting some ultra-specific topic, from big ideas to small, right away.

She is the only person who I can call when I am absolutely sobbing and end a 10-minute call with a smile on my face. She is the only one who will sing along with me to any and every Disney/DreamWorks song. She is the only one who’s opinion I crave but also don’t feel the pressure to take her advice. She’s the only person I tell pretty much everything to, and she’s the only person I’d bury a body for, or call to help me bury a body.

It’s tough to describe, but what I’m trying to say is that there is no level of formality between us. When I’ve watched other siblings interact, there is sometimes a wall there. They don’t talk about certain topics, or they find too many aspects of their sibling annoying, or whatever. But with me and Kiki, it is completely transparent. Of course, we rag on each other incessantly, but when it comes down to it, we are each other’s best friends and I know not everyone feels that way about their sibling.

I’m probably just super sad she’s left North America for the next couple weeks, and bitter she finally made it to a country I haven’t been to, but my relationship with my sister is something I’m super proud of. I love that we’re close, and I love talking about her, and I hope if you’re not close with your own siblings, there is a hell of a good reason because you are missing out.

 

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Kiki has always been more photogenic