Childhood, Self-Development, Social Media

You are only honest with yourself at 2 am.

It is 2 am. This is the time when you are most introspective and free. This is when you have the darkest thoughts, but also the most profound, the ones with the most clarity. This is the time you feel the courage to click the send on an overdue love letter/email. It is the time you can hear your thoughts without bias or judgement. It is when all of the noise finally quietens.

Robin Williams and his choice to end his life has gone completely viral since it happened. It became the most blogged, tweeted about topic of the week and became every online blog’s wet dream. Countless repeated conversations combined with personal anectodes of fans who grew up watching his work. I was near a Starbucks when I saw it on Facebook, talking to my parents. I read the sentence out loud before realizing who it was. “Robin Williams dead, alleged suicide.”

Canadian suburbia 30 minutes from home.

Canadian suburbia 30 minutes from home.

In the day time, even despite the shock, I didn’t really process. My dad said, “This is going to upset a lot of people. This isn’t… good, the suicide part.”

Even then, I could predict the issue being viral gold. I got lost in the noise. It bothered me — the way it happened, I wanted answers. The detail about his belt, Zelda William’s tweet followed by her desicion to go offline during mourning, the “you’re free” from Aladdin; all just emotional porn which I obsessively consumed on all online medium channels.

My mother didn’t understand depression and I had to explain that it was a chemical imbalance that was as serious as any other disease. I compared it to anemia and other popular diseases which people have no control over. She argued that he had everything — fame, fortune, wealth, success, family. How could anybody be sad? I tried to explain, desperately needing her to understand. I explained how depression is a void of emptiness which must have been dark enough for him to have ended his life, despite his percieved perfect life. I explained that it was all physiological and molecular, people didn’t choose to be depressed. It isn’t a choice people make because they were bored or restless. It isn’t a choice people make because they want attention. It isn’t a choice people make because it seems glamorous or popular. It is misunderstood, isolating, lonely and victim-blaming.

Chinese market at Vancouver’s Downtown eastside

 

I wondered if she remembered her best friend, also with everything one could want in life, being diagnosed with depression. I wondered if she remembered that in 8th grade, my guidance counsellor had explained how I may have mild clinical depression. My counsellor had tried to get me help but I, since then, adopted my parent’s attitude of denial. After all, I had been mourning a friend’s passing then — mourning basically has all the same physical symptoms.

It worked. Like a placebo effect, you truly believe there’s nothing wrong with you. Sometimes, you’ll catch yourself saying out loud, “I don’t want to do this anymore” when reffering to life. Sometimes, you’ll think it and go on, without a second thought. A good friend will stop and make you realize what you just said so nonchalantly. Deep down, you know there is an emptiness that will never be cured — but you call it human existence and move on. You try to understand this demon of yours, but like your shadow, it is engrained within you that you can’t imagine it not being there — but you claim that everyone has defining moments that shape their entire life. You are certain that everybody feels a genre of this.

You wonder why there is no depth or complexity in some of the conversations, some of the people you encounter. You argue that you prefer this, the bleakness gives your personality, allows you to enjoy humour, makes you empathetic — your life is richer. You pity those who can’t view life in the same grey shades of you.

And besides, you’re so functional. You wake up and do things and have goals and socialize and you have such a huge support system. There’s no way you could be this functional if you truly had a problem. You remember the things that make up your identity — student of ___, volunteers at ___, works at ____. All of these names and organizations and centers to legitimize your existence and make you appear functional. 

Summer 2014 with the brother.

You’re also so funny — or you think so, anyway. You have such a positive attitude towards like, anything — you don’t think so, but have been told numerous times. For god’s sake, you actively promote self-care and attempt it yourself every now and then. You’ve fooled everyone you know, but still have to tackle the art of fooling yourself.

Ignorance works; you dissolve in the noise of life until that next time it’s 2 am.

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Self-Development

How to Stay Cool after Graduating University

Originally posted on Medium.

They don’t tell you how hard it can be.

Disclaimer: This is very much just a personal laundry list. I’m in no shape or form qualified to give anyone advice. My story, just like everyone else’s, is very personal and unique. There are many people who do not feel these things at all and have it all figured and planned, but I am certain there are many, many that do.

1. After you graduate, you’ll realize that there’s nothing but emotional sentimentality that ties you to your alma mater. This realization will be coupled with the realization that you can finally cut relationships and label it “moving on.” I really hate ending things, I’m sure I’ll even be sad when Rogers finally frees me of their binding contract. Apart from the monthly shocking statement, there was tons of memories in the years of texts and phone calls. As a graduate, you no longer have that freedom of “catching up before class with coffee” or “I’ll see you at that event” or “let’s study together.” The relationships that are meant to be are the ones that are independent of your student lifestyle. And that’s really great, really — trimming the fat is wonderful.

2. You have to have some sort of a life plan. It really doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or grand, but it has to be something realistically possible. It has to be something that’s challenging but not to the point where it becomes crippling. If you can have a life plan that’s longer than a year, kudos. The plan is the only thing that will give you a sense of purpose, something to wake up and do when there is no structure.

3. You have to get your family on board with your plan (or like, really really good friends who will pick up the phone right away). They have to absolutely 100% support your choices and like, still love you. There will be days where you wake up and question all your life choices. There will also be days when you can’t sleep and you just need to hear their voices. If you don’t have them to list all the reasons you’re not a complete failure, you really won’t make it. Also, the more tough love, the better. This is because you’ll want to do really ridicoulous things with your life and they have to step in and tell you that it’s not a good idea in the best way possible. A good support system will also remind you of your capabilities and competences, which is necessary….because you forget.

4. You will actually forget about your skills and your past experiences through the mind-boggling, humbling process that everyone goes through at some point or the other: Job Searching. It’s the most brutal, life sucking thing and I’d honestly rather just go back to school and do exams. But, I think it means truly accepting that it’s supposed to be this hard. And also, having faith in all the gods that you don’t believe in that eventually, eventually, things will have to work out. A comment like, “you’re trying, you really are. you are the definition of auto-pilot motivation” will keep you going for days.

5. If you’re playing the waiting game — waiting back from interviews, waiting from graduate schools, waiting to hear back about this or that oppurtunity, you have to make lists to decrease anxiety. The lists can be about everything and anything under the sun that interest you. You don’t even have to write it down, because this really isn’t homework. I made lists of places I want to visit before I die, lists of artsy craftsy things to make that I actually won’t, recipes that look easy enough to attempt. I made playlists of my favourite summer tunes, lists of book recommendation that I’d eventually get to. My more complex lists were of careers that I could envision myself doing — I thought about everything from nursing to web development.

6. You have to have a hobby — nothing is more important during a quarter life crises or periodic existential crises than a hobby. Although reading has been a pretty consistent hobby in my life, I picked up drawing/sketching again. Reading allowed me to get perspective about the bigger picture. It is an exercise in gratitude to remember all that you have going for you. But in general, there is something beautiful about losing track of time when you have a lot of time. I also started writing again because I have a lot of unexpressed emotions that needed to get expressed.

7. Similar to the last one, you have to keep busy. When your main task is just to apply for things, it’s easy to drown in a pool of Netflix and a diet of Ritz crackers and pop. I’ve gone through cycles of introversion and extroversion, and I’ve learnt to embrace that (not always very elegantly). There are some days you just won’t want to be home and want to catch up with everyone. Then, there are others were the thought of making small talk will bring you more anxiety than deemed possible.

8. You have to be the master of faking happiness. You have to master the art of lying to yourself about how happy you are. I know it seems really twisted, but I believe that when you truly believe you’re super happy, you’ll be bouncing with positivity. And let’s be real — you only get anything done when you’re in a positive mindset. Although fooling yourself is incentive enough, no matter how much your friends/family love you, nobody really likes a joykill and so master the art to maintain your relationships.

9. You have to laugh at yourself because really, what else is there to do? If you keep thinking about your past choices, you’ll drive yourself insane because you really can’t move backwards in time. If you constantly think about the future, you stop living in the present. If you stop living in the present…that’s…that’s….just silly.

10. You have to reach out to all your friends who have graduated and have adult lives and listen to everything they say. They have been through this and now afford rent. Their lives are magical and they tell you ridiculous things like, “it’ll all work out.” Older friends also have great networks and will connect you to amazing people and their resources. They are a standing and breathing ovation to the fact that job searching for x number of days isn’t the end of the world.

11. You have to remember to do all the things that are necessary to living such as eating, sleeping and excercise. Even though you have no where to go and perhaps no routine, your body still needs it’s basic requirements. These are all challenging things when you don’t know what you’re meant to be doing and that you’re just wasting time…. but, yeah.

12. You have to read the news, everyday to remind yourself how small you are in the grand scheme of the world. You have to read the news everyday to remain humble and practise gratitude. You have to read the news to participate in the bigger picture of humanity, perhaps take a stance, have a perspective, understand the issue. You have to remember how small you really are. You have to remember how small your problems are not just within the grand scheme of things, but even within your lifetime.

13. A mentor of mine told me that it’s hard because for many of us, it’s the first time we don’t have a plan. For the first 18 years in your life, you (or I did, anyway) spend every waking moment doing whatever it takes to get to university. You volunteer, study hard, do standardized tests, etc. When you go to university, you became wrapped in student life — figuring out majors, figuring out classes, finding your community and your people. Your main goal is to graduate. Once you do, it’s only natural that you feel this sense of loss because you haven’t quite figured out the next step (in my case, anyway).

Please write to me if you have any thing to add to this or have any personal anectodes. I will happily include and reference you. There will also be the added benefit of being friends and such.

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Dreams, Rambles, Self-Development, Uncategorized

Believing in Extraordinary Happenings

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I never thought I’d be the one to say it’s funny how life is, but to be honest – that’s the best and only way to put recent developments. My year has been nothing but a roller coaster. I have never felt more out of control, more anxious; I simply did not buy a ticket to this growing up ride that I was practically thrown into.

And thus, I grudgingly made plans and started having some mild form of visions and long term agenda of what I wanted for myself; where I might contribute something to this world and have some minor impact instead of just “being”. My best laid plans didn’t work out the way I wanted them too, despite all my efforts and deep strategizing. I consumed myself to the point of livid drunkenness with passionate, illogical and almost blind vigour. I’m speaking in riddles and vagueness with intention;  the lessons I learnt this week will probably be applied and will reoccur many many times in my optimistically, long life. They will be learned and relearned and when I’m sixty I’ll have some decently exciting stories of that time I was 22 years old and lived in a studio apartment where I had a french press and felt like the most independent and self-sufficient Indian woman in a diverse, green, urban city and received treatment from a decently functioning healthcare system.

Khaled Hosseini wrote that we all want extraordinary things to happen to us; we all want our life to be the exception to what the natural trend of the population and state of affairs is. Obviously there is a lot of struggle and suffering to reaching whatever our goals and dreams are, but we always earnestly hope things will work out and we pray to all the gods we don’t believe in that they do. 

I realized that I’m not sensitive to people and their unneeded thoughts; my intense, overwhelming sensitivity comes from the daily happenings and experiences of my world. I crawl into a ball and ponder and reflect and agonize beyond anything considered healthy. But in a way, by experiencing such emotions so strongly, I am able to let it go and move the fuck on. I need to go through the entire spectrum of bullshit to feel relief; I need to reinvent the whole wheel to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement.  And therefore, I got into an ugly phase in my life where I waded continuously in this pool of frustrating want to be more. Brimmed to the top with self-loathing and doubt and lack of faith, and most importantly – a need for control. 

And I know that I love this repeated game of collapsing and overcoming. The game is exhausting and endless and tiresome but it is the only thing that makes me feel like a human being with a heart. This feeling of feeling everything too much. But, I’d rather play this exhausting game of life with the privileged card of hands I’ve been dealt with, then play no game with no cards. 

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Rambles, Self-Development

being so completely.

 

Sometimes completely overwhelmed just by the dailyness of life. This includes the stresses, the ups, the downs, the small bumping into people, the random realization about relationships, the brief moment of seeing something  so beautiful it makes you want to cry, feeling such deep rooted pain that is so expertly masked that it almost seems like its not there, observing people from afar in the way they conduct themselves in a way that is so characteristically “them” and getting so charmed by the way they pull it off.

 

So completely overwhelmed by those moments when you’re talking about something deeply complex and personal to someone you trust – and they just get it, and they don’t judge, and they fully grasp the extent to how much it has affected you, but find it beautiful, and now there are invisible strings of love that hold you together in a cosmic, supernatural way.

 

So overwhelmed by oppurtunity and being able to afford nice things, and go to nice places, and reading the news over and over again and realizing how the majority of the world’s population is struggling with basic rights. So overwhelmed with the guilt associated with privilege and the natural sense of entitlement due the environment of certain upbringings. And wondering what you ever did to make you deserve it and wondering whether it’d be better off if it had been given to somebody with greater potential and then realizing that life doesn’t work that way.

 

Overwhelmed by observing that life continues day and in and day out despite your consent or knowledge. That leaves are photosynthesizing on their own, the waves and tide have a rhythm that is more complex than we could comprehend, that the traffic works on schedule, that people are going to and from work every single damn day, all just finding a place in this big planet in this large universe. Realizing that people are passing by in the same way, living their lives, moving on, crying, being upset, being happy – and knowing that you can’t possible leave your mark, hell you can’t leave a toenail – in the grand vast spatial and time manner of things.

 

And realizing that it’s okay, that you’re mostly past the stage in your life of fearing and being absolutely traumatized by existential crises, and even starting to enjoy them. And then being overwhelmed at the mere prospect of finding meaning in your own life, and translating that into physical and actual things. And finding that it hard because all you just want is being happy, having great relationships with friends, travelling a bit and being constantly fascinated by new ideas – and realizing that that’s having a life and not a career, and you already have that.

 

Being overwhelmed by the need to please everyone and realizing later, that no, you really don’t need to.  Being overwhelmed with people in general, in mostly good ways, about their ideas and the way they vision life being embodied in the things they read, eat, sleep, do and talk about and maybe not judging, but just, huh – that’s an interesting way to look and do things.

 

being overwhelmed by feeling the emotions of others and experiencing their lives through their stories, being overwhelmed by being so blissfully happy and feeling and seeing pain and suffering all the time, and watching people, including myself, just be and cope.

 

being overwhelmed by stating verbally to real, live people  things i want out of life, things that are boring and simple like wanting a vegetable and herb garden in my backyard, no white picket fences thank you very much, and having a backyard in the first place, and how i hadn’t committed to the idea of life and being fully and wholly committed to reality…until recently, if at all still. because i still think that only by being detached, in some way, to some extent, to it all, can I really find value in the things that do matter. and that being detached to life only strengths my attachment to life, and the dire, passionate want to be so fully emerged in the journey that even the grey is as gorgeous as the black and white.

 

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Rambles, Self-Development

Safety, a basic right

Due to my curse and gift for being hyper-sensitive to the emotions and energies of other people, a trait also known as empathy – I have been significantly impacted by the recent events that has occurred on the UBC Campus. I have been wrapping my head around the extent of my  conflicted, emotional turmoil over the whole thing. After I got over my sudden shock, I was able to articulate the feelings. As someone who thrives on the potential of community engagement and development – I’ve realized that for the first time in my life, I have felt unsafe in my own campus, in my own room. I realize how fortunate I am to say this.

I am a great believer in the power of an individual’s potential. And thus, the development and the growth of that individual is directly linked to the positive change in the community based on collective actions. Basically, the Gestalt theory – the sum of a whole is greater than it’s individual parts.  Any sort of violence towards an individual will effect the entire community due to the emotional implications and heaviness it carries once that information has been disseminated. But also, the realization of living in a space where one’s own personal safety is being threatened has direct effects on the individual’s wellbeing.

Like any living thing, an individual requires certain needs to be met according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Safety is the second most basic need, which includes the security of employment, resources, family, health, property and body.

Due to my extensive involvement and investment on campus and student development, I was immediately drawn to a community need that needed to be tended. It was as simple as: “I am scared in my own safe-space, so you must be too, and we need to restore this.”

I realize I must be naive in many ways. There is no safe place in the world.  The basic safety of human beings as a human right cannot be assumed as existing.

I realize the greater implications of this violence is greater than what I have ever been educated on – and this is nobody’s responsibility but mine.

My heart goes out to all those who were effected in various ways by these recent events, and the trauma and anxiety it must bring.

But, I also realize that the you do something when you realize you cannot not do anything.

With my limited tools and knowledge, I am trying to do whatever I can to create some, small positive change – even if it just giving people the confidence to walk home on their own at night.

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Friendship, Relationships, Self-Development

Life is not the Sims & Please Go Away

If you play sims, you know that each activity, behavior or personality trait can eventually reach mastery/completion. For example, you can reach “mastery” in cooking or being charismatic, or being a professional athlete, etc. I do believe that there are many specific behaviours and skills that one can work on similarly, in real life. The difference is that there is no mastery or peak point to many of these abstract concepts.

In the past few years, I’ve found the place and oppurtunity to strengthen some of these useful skills. For example, I’m definitely more confident and less-shy when talking to new people. I’m more able to maintain a conversation with people I have nothing in common with. I’m able to pay for and do my own groceries, cook, clean and take care of myself. I’m a lot more outgoing and extroverted than my high-school self. I’m more spontaneous, and take things less personally. I deal with awkward situations better.

So to summarize: there are many facets that one can work and improve on. However, there are other traits that either don’t change, change very slowly, or are simply out of your comfort-zone for the moment. I used to see these types of traits as excuses and weaknesses, especially in myself. I used to compare myself and wonder why I struggled in those specific aspects.

Although, I’m always the type to face your challenge, face your fears and all that…. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in respecting and accepting your boundaries. It’s important to know and communicate them. I’m learning that a lot of who we are can’t be planned or consciously controlled, but should be left alone, to simply happen on its own will when ready. I used to think that if you created the perfect environment and mental preparation for growth, it would happen…you know, like a plant or a bacterial colony. I used to think of it as a straightforward reaction.

But, sometimes you’re just not ready or are just not that person.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I think what I’m trying to say is the tale old cliche of being and accepting yourself. It’s important to have patience when change does happen, at the slowest rate possible… or demonstrating self-acceptance when it does not.

In the worlds of Facebook and social media, I feel constantly bombarded with portrayals of what and who should I be. I know for a fact that I am easily swayed by new ideas due to my naivety. But it’s fatally unhealthy to try and fail at being someone you’re not, to do things you’re not comfortable with, to go so much out of your comfort zone that you can’t connect to your self anymore.

I recently had a very bad experience where someone told me I wasn’t enough in one particular aspect. It had wounded me deeply since I cared about this person and what they thought of me. I had despised and hated them for making it come to my awareness of how much I lacked in life-experience. How could I have possibly lived so long and not tried to change, I wondered. As I drowned in my own self-made ocean of self-hate, I talked to a better friend. A better friend who made me realize there is no wrong way to be, there is no wrong way to live, and there is specifically no traits that make one person better than the other.

In my world, life is not a competition. It is not a room of achievements and accomplishments and milestones. It is acceptance and beauty and understanding – and most importantly, compassion. Despite my naivety, I do believe that diverse personalities are the only way to have a colourful ecosystem.

If you’re wondering, I have removed”said-friend” out of my life, for good.

I only have time and energy for people who make me happier and truly have my best interests, and don’t want me to become someone else.

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Self-Development

I know I’m supposed to be studying, but I’m emotional. Not in an shaky, overwhelmed way, but more a mortified, re-realization of our reality. I use the negatives of my life to motivate me, to give me energy, to remind me how grateful I am. But sometimes, these stories, that are horrifying and so unbelievably sad just breaks my heart. There is so much suffering in the world. Sometimes, I wonder if having the capacity of being able to think and feel is a curse. Not that animals don’t have the capacity to suffer, but for some reason it feels so utterly different.

I know, this is naive. But, I truly wish everyone in the world had the right and the ability to find happiness, education, belief, freedom, food, shelter, clothing and love.

Years ago, the human ability to experience tragic, significant amounts of suffering was the reason I lost my faith in god. But now without a god to blame or anything but the natural turn of the universe to have faith in, I can’t help but wonder whether it really is all a matter of being dealt the right hand of cards and making the most of it.

Naivety

Aside