Category Archives: Personal Development

Not Great Expectations

‘I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.’ ~ Fritz Perls.

Panicked. Anxious. Questioning what I should doing and where I am now. There was I hoping my twenties would be a carefree existence with the distinct joy of finding myself and my place in the world. The moment the pressure lifts from academics, then the job search/be successful pressure hits full throttle. I feel guilty not knowing what I should do with my life with absolute 100% certainty, I’m chasing ideas and running with them (stong pull:fertility lab). But if something isn’t happening, when do I decide to give up and try another avenue.

The Daily Mail released an article today. It’s crazy how many of us fledgling adults are slumping into a ‘quarter-life crisis’, and sad that the pressure of life are getting to us at a time in our lives when we should be enjoying our newly found freedom and be full of hope for our futures. Instead many of us are directionless and uncertain. I remember a few months after I graduated feeling this way, I read the quarter-life crisis section of the Prospects.ac.uk forum and was shocked at how low some people felt. I remember one girl who had graduated in 2007, had been working temp jobs and just felt like a robot, sick of living with her parents still and wondered how long it would be til something came her way that was even loosely related to her degree. One guy shockingly felt so down that he had contemplated jumping in front of the train as his life felt so static, lacked meaning and had spent so much time unemployed and feeling useless that he thought he would never get employed. My heart broke for these people, would I feel the same if nothing had worked out for me years in the future? A shade of failure and inadequacy.

As the article suggested – take a break from the rat race and do something meaningful to lift your spirits. Which is precisely why I’m in Canada – avoiding stewing in my anxiousness and an unstable economy (plus the small matter of love). I have dipped my toe into the volunteer realm, the thoughts of making a difference at the dog shelter and getting started in a new project freed my mind from the worries of what I should be doing, but happy to do something I wanted to do. If it takes me longer to find my calling (scientific journalism? creative writing?) or be given a chance in the working world (Health Service hire me!) then so be it. It’s hard to say that and I do worry, especially when I see the busy streets and roads at 7am of people making their way to work and thinking ‘Shouldn’t this be me?’. What if my untapped potential fades away? What if no opportunity presents itself even though I keep my ears a-prick? What if I’m out of employment too long, does that make me a loser? Should I go to graduate school?

Something that always hurts when reading these articles is the insensitivity of some of the comments. Claiming Gen Y are a bunch of whiners and feel we are ‘entitled’. I certainly worked hard to get my degree but I never feel like I was owed anything. I think if it was known how many resumes some graduates have sent out to secure a single interview, the number of young people working for free just to get experience for the hope of an entry-level job in the future, the competition, the moments of feeling worthless. The vicious cycle of ‘needing experience, but needing some experience to compete for the experience opportunity’ plus the curse of student loans, maybe they could understand the upset.

The authors touch on pressures from the celebrity lifestyle. This certainly isn’t me, I love a new pair of shoes and something sparkly to add to my accessories carousel  as much as the next girl but if need be I can live minimally and on a budget. I think we’re bombarded with images of what ‘success’ is and by some mystical osmosis we start to absorb these projections. Which is the source of unhappiness. Success is purely subjective, it’s where you want to be. Expecting something unrealistic is only going to lead to heartbreak and stress. I’m still trying to figure out my definition of success (with happiness leading the list) but it certainly won’t be shaped by anything other than my wants and desires.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Building my CV, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development

No Second Rate Substitutes

Why would an orange try to change itself to become an apple?

Just because there are more apples?

By doing so, it negates its own value – Vitamin C.

A fruit analogy to display just how important it is to stay true to yourself.

Never negate your own value and try to be something else because if you do, you’ll be nothing more than a second rate substitute. Brian Kim

Now I’m not too familiar with a fruit analogy telling me to be myself! But here are some things I do know…

When we are children, we are told to be nothing but ourselves, people would like us better that way. But as our childhood gets stripped away so we begin to hide ourselves away, maybe confused about what we think we should be and losing ourselves in the process. Well not losing, more like hiding who we are. I’ve always felt an internal demand not to reveal my true colours too suddenly but let them out in slow, controlled trickles. But lately I’ve been letting my guard down and they tend to burst out in pulses, uncovering who I am through gestures, conversations and expressions. No longer being chipped away at, more like stripping off layers. I will accidentally let my quirks and strange sense of humour out the bag and the best thing is people don’t seem to mind that. And I’m even surprising myself when I shine. Feeling good to no longer masquerade.

Before I was about 19 when I met new people I would either be really quiet (often mistaken for being cold and aloof, even though I was listening to everything being said and very interested, thinking of questions to ask) or I would feign super confidence and feel utterly exhausted for playing this character. I really didn’t know who I was. I have no idea which stone my confidence has hidden under or who paid its ransom but it finally found its way into me, better late than never. I have less qualms about saying what I really think in conversations, giving my views on controversial topics and slowly the awkwardness of revealing my true self is dripping away. Even feeling more comfortable taking the spotlight when it falls on me, when did that happen. The best part about it is I don’t have to fake the confidence it’s radiating externally and through my being because I’m more sure of myself.  I have always had so much to say and finally I’m voicing it.

I’m breaking down walls and resisting building new ones and I know people like me for being me and not a part I’m playing. I love meeting like-minded people who I connect with instantly, we understand each other from the beginning in an unspoken-but-it-will-show-soon way. Maybe through a passion for animals, books, science, life, living, making a difference, a whole myriad of things with a hope for it to run deeper over time. I might have the occasional moment where I feel a bit wobbly and uncertain of myself, but I just need to take a good look in the mirror and remember this.

It’s taken over two decades to get to this stage, but the more I realise THIS IS IT. NOW. The more determined I am to make the most of life and be a first-rate me.  Wouldn’t it be sad to go through this life as a unique, one-of-a-kind person and the world never to see that. To have all these hopes, dreams and desires but be too scared to live them out, to let fear run your life. You can’t let this happen. In us all is a confidence we need to find and as Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself; everybody else is taken’.

3 Comments

Filed under Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development

Stranger things have happened

‘Enthusiasm is the best protection in any situation’ ~ David Seabury.

One thing I’ve found Canadians assume about me is – I’m British and therefore I must love football. When someone picks up on my accent, there is a great chance if I’m in male company I will be asked which football team I support, shortly followed by whether I have seen an ice hockey game yet. Now I’m not the biggest footie fanatic, I don’t have a team I hold a season ticket for but I do love the World Cup. More the spirit of the World Cup, watching others parade their country’s colours, their national flags streaming in the breeze from car windows. Painted faces in pubs experiencing the suspense of the game, biting their lips with every near miss to a goal. My photo was taken outside an Irish pub, and these places are packed during games. To the rafters.

The game has just heated up and somehow, somehow, England made it out of the group alive. I didn’t even watch the game vs. Slovenia as I had an awful feeling we would be pummeled seeing as we had failed to win against the other (British media so-called) ‘easier’ teams in our group. One thing I noticed from our games was how slow the play was (in comparison to Brazil vs. Ivory Coast which was so nimble) and how disconnected the players seemed to be from each other. It doesn’t take a genius to realise teams of any sort are non-operational if that happens. Next up, we are facing Germany apparently. Given the traditional football rivalry between the countries I think it will be pretty tense and if it ends in penalties I can barely watch. I think we might be waving goodbye to our South African World Cup campaign by the end of that ninety minutes, but stranger things have happened right?

In other news:

  • I went for a short meeting at the Clinic to speak to one of the doctors. His quirky and bizarre humor aside (and his ability to make me feel very uncomfortable), I think the main problem they see is waiting for medical test results as it would mean I couldn’t begin training immediately. So looks like I will be kissing this job goodbye. I feel like I’m riding highs and lows being a foreigner here, moments of enjoying myself followed by grim disappointment and worry about the future. Seeing the doggies yesterday got me out of that cycle  –> feeling like a go-getter. Gotta keep those positive vibes floating about.
  • Tomorrow is finally a day without appointments or plans, and I intend to keep it that way. So maybe I’ll actually get around to doing something.
  • We have a new digital SLR. So David has been toying with that; photo editing (read: stealing computer, sulky panda face of sadness), doing nightshots and slow-shutter sky shots. Basically taking photos all around the apartment and being an annoying paparazzo. Still haven’t had my turn on it yet.
  • 6 days away from completing NABLOPOMO. It’s been great, letting the ideas out my mind and not sitting stewing in them. Blogging is cheap therapy. Forcing myself to come up with ideas or revisit old ones daily. I cannot believe I’ve managed to last this long and actually be enjoying it, have something to say. Julie encouraged me to do it, and I’m passing on the encouragement to anybody who is feeling daring. My aim is to do NABLOPOMO three times in 1001 days (maybe/undecided). I’m also finishing the challenge just in time to go to Banff next Thursday. With that 30 posts in 30 days achievement high.
  • Some pieces from the Terracotta army are coming to the Glenbow Museum at the end of July. Psyched!

3 Comments

Filed under Calgary, Canada, Career, Life, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development

Wings of Freedom

‘The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage’ ~ Thucydides (Ancient Greek historian).

I thought…

Gazing up into the sky, eyes transfixed on flocking birds. Sometimes darting unpredictably, other times in synchronous formation. Sometimes dropping through the sky, confident in their recovery. Dispersing and swarming. Encircling.

Fighting the oncoming air currents, riding determined, battling to regain their freedom.

So much space, so much sky. Their playground limitless.

I scribbled this down today in my sketchbook. We can’t sprout wings but I think we can learn a lot from birds – the importance of traveling together and learning from others (the reason birds can effortlessly switch direction is their movement influenced by those beside them, this following allows them to move in an interconnected network). They can make us pine for more freedom and fill us with wanderlust to up sticks and traverse the continents. We may question what boundaries prevent us from being truly happy and content. Birds illuminate the truth that you can go where you wish, you are not tethered, you can go where the wind takes you or let determination drive you to where you want to be. They remind us we are each battling our own air currents so we can open our metaphorical wings and glide on the breeze.

A favourite Postsecret, making a very good point.

2 Comments

Filed under Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Nature and Planet Earth, Personal Development

Down by the Lazy River

‘When you arise in the morning,

think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive –

to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.’

Marcus Aurelius

Just a reminder to live in the NOW and to appreciate our presence on Planet Earth. More than lucky.

1 Comment

Filed under Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Nature and Planet Earth, Personal Development

Creative Mind Never Sleeps

‘Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.’ ~ Edward de Bono.

Last night as I was staring into the darkness my mind was busy assembling a scene. It was raining heavily, smog encircling a lone figure and there was an immense feeling of loss and regret hanging in the air. Normally I’m busy untangling thoughts that have seeped into my unconscious during the day, rerunning a conversation or telling my mind to dump because its constant babble is keeping me from sleep. But last night it was weaving a creative piece and I couldn’t stop it. I promised to write it down when I woke up but upon the sunlight creeping through the window it had slipped away with the night. I was pretty frustrated as it was really going somewhere, or at least it was a starting point.

Science has been at the forefront of my mind, everything from critiquing research to coming up with investigative questions and experiments to lead to some answers. Trying to piece together concepts to get a full story, thinking of possibilities and applying research to the real world. This was something I found difficult at first but my brain slipped into these thinking patterns and being able to think for itself in a scientific way. I felt more like a scientist and less of an imposter playing pretend. I always got the feeling professors and teaching assistants  knew who was just winging it. It started to be natural and not forced, to an extent I had to think out the box and be creative, but it involves a lot of being able to think critically, with a splatter of abstract thought and logical inquiry.

Creativity keeps the world interesting

With my mind having been conditioned to focus more on the science-y stuff I thought other subjects may have got lost on the way. I got back into languages after graduation, what’s stopping me from getting back into writing creatively? Something I haven’t really done since I was in English Language classes – age 16. Something I don’t think I was really encouraged to do since primary school, I would write short stories with some really unbelievable and zany goings-on that my favorite primary school teacher Mrs De Val would coo over and tell me I would be a fledgling author. Then again when I performed in a theatre group (age 11, no teenage confidence dive yet) I was written a thank you letter from the producer/writer lady telling me an Oscar lay in my future, no gold statuettes thus far. Miss Bell, a maiden of physics, said a Nobel Prize could be in my future (I got the feeling she said this to every student pursuing science in higher education). So I don’t expect prophecies of greatness to come true when my name is involved, I just assume people are being encouraging to reach for your dreams and giving you hope and fire inside that you might achieve what you strive to be  – which is nice all the same.

Four things put me off a little from writing:

  1. I’m pretty conscious of the public reading. The main reason I took my journal public was because I was secretly reading many blogs and wanted to see if I could do it too, I have met some wonderful people blogging and love reading about their lives, that is enough to keep me going. I don’t want an earthquake of traffic but I love having those bloggers that matter and are genuine, I’m less wary of posting what I think here because I want people to know the real me. Isn’t it always pointless to not be the real you?
  2. I find it hard to take a leap from the diving board, not scared to commit or lacking determination, but I often feel that when I don’t instantly feel a small victory or I falter in my attempts I can get very defeatist and feel like giving up a little before I’ve begun. This is something I desperately want to overcome, I will write more about this and endeavor to change this attitude as I think it could stump any talents I try to develop. If I hadn’t neglected girls football, netball, kayaking, cartoon drawing, electric guitar and bass (some as I sucked, others due to costs or time) who knows where I would be now. I would love to feel passion for these things again.
  3. I don’t know if I have what it takes to piece together a story, develop characters and have all the glue needed to hold a novel in place. I’m not even sure this is something that can be taught. I suppose I don’t think I will have the continuity of ideas or a strong enough idea to carry through. I think I’m more a ‘moment person’, if I transport myself to a place in my mind, I can imagine the dialogue and the setting but lack the follow through to make it anything more than a moment.
  4. It’s too late to start. Though my rational minds say it’s never to late to start anything. Ever. Period.

Life is about applying what you know and learning some. Maybe I need to act on this.

Given the blessing/curse of having some time on my hands. I was tempted to try my hand at a children’s book, my boyfriend even offered to illustrate! We’ll see, I have a ridiculous mental list of stuff I want to do in my life and so many interests I would love to delve deeper into – maybe being an expert in certain fields someday!

This daily blog post challenge has certainly kept my journaling in shape. Sometimes I get to 11 pm and I’m still wondering what topic or thoughts to reveal to the world. But so far I’m managing, I’ve discovered daily blogging is exhausting but satisfying. I will probably do small posts over the weekend as I really want to catch up with everything online and off. This past week has been so energy-draining – Worry? Stress? Dull skies and rain? Silly insomnia? Maybe a case of all the above.

1 Comment

Filed under Arts & Culture, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development, Science

Mind Chatter

‘Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are’ ~ Kurt Cobain.

Wednesday thoughts

  • How to crank up my productivity? I feel like I can start the morning with a list of things to do and before I know it the day slips by, plans untouched on and getting behind on my correspondences. I want to know the feeling of ticking each item off before I sleep, some kind of satisfaction and accomplishment. To feel on top of everything.
  • The past fortnight I’ve had big trouble sleeping. My energy seems to crash early evening and then I become full of beans by about 11 pm. Am I still functioning on England time? Even if I wear myself out by walking about the city or going on little adventures during the day this doesn’t seem to help. Maybe I’m just not on a schedule yet, my wake-up time seems to fluctuate over the week so my body hasn’t found a rhythm yet.
  • Less people smile when it rains. The clouds don’t just blanket the sky but everyone’s mood. I think I got two smiles directed at me in the whole day and they weren’t fueled by the need to give exceptional customer service, genuine smiles in an otherwise dismal day.

  • Today was my Mum’s 47th birthday. So what better gift than a video call? She was so surprised to see my face on the screen and I was lifting up lots of things like Canadian coins, teddy bears and showing her what lay outside my window, plus a helping of silly animated expressions for good measure. What was stranger still was seeing the familiar but oh so distant now kitchen cabinet units in the background and Sasha cat sleeping on the mat I would wipe my feet on when I came in from outside. So familiar, but distant. Almost like seeing it through someone else’s eyes.
  • No matter how much bad is in the world, there is still an amazing amount of good going on and I applaud those saints and Samaritans in disguise.
  • There’s still a good few hours before bed, maybe brave the downpour and get some evening dessert (vanilla cheesecake), post some postcards on the way. It’s never to late to attempt to make the most of the day.
  • ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. I only catch little snippets but it makes me wish I could dance that fluidly and pull those lines with my body. Unbelievable movements!
  • I have recently been reading about men/women separation policies in Saudi Arabia, also called gender apartheid.  This is a notion that is firmly implanted in society, with anything from dining areas and banks to hospitals segregating the sexes. It shocks me to hear of the treatment of these women and how they are subservient to men and oppressed so harshly. Recently David told me about one of the projects at his engineering firm based in Saudi Arabia. If a female engineer wants to make a suggestion or contribute an idea she has to relay them through a male engineer to pass on because they don’t take the female’s expertise seriously.
  • It’s relaxing to write down the thoughts that have buzzed round my mind or share the tiny little things I’ve noticed or have happened during my day. Not really think too much about the writing style or trying to get everything inside my head on one single topic out onto the screen.

Have a wonderful rest of the week.


1 Comment

Filed under Calgary, Canada, Family and Friends, Life, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development, Special Occassions