Monday, May 9, 2016

Why I Chose to Quit my Life - A Not-so Morbid Tale

I've never been capable of making decisions at ease, rather it was my sister who got praised with that gene. Growing up, my mom, my sister and I formed our own little exclusive squad where our rituals included eating one large pizza each, every single day after school, and coming home to read, play, or watch re-runs of Sailor Moon on our the satellite television that we illegally installed.

Side Story: I didn't know our satellite was illegal for the longest time and so I would go to school as a fourth grader telling my friends to watch *insert TV show here* on channel 1000+ and would actually get into heated arguments about how that channel really does exist. One debacle was with a boy I'll refer to as Jim Newson. He didn't believe I literally had thousands of channels on my TV and so I told him to come over so he could see for himself. I had a huge crush on Jim so I really wanted him to come over. He never did. And that was the end of my third non-existent relationship. 

Back to what I was saying: Decision-making has never been my forte. I guess it came alongside this need to fulfill everyone's wishes and desires. I didn't mind putting my own at stake to ensure that their's were met. I've always been a people-pleaser, and I've lived comfortably, even floated in the midst of deep misery, satisfying what everyone else needs from me. Until one day, it was no longer okay. Until one day that I decided: not this.

I took a hard look at my life, where I was, the person I was becoming, and who I wanted to be. I had no idea what I intended to do with my life, but all that I did know was that it wasn't this. It wasn't the life that I was currently living. I didn't want to live this way and I didn't want to be this way. For once in my life, I decided to decide for myself.

Now, for a person who is constantly thinking about how my life choices will affect all those surrounding me, it appeared to be a bit selfish at first. Until I decided that being selfish is exactly what I needed to be. Is it so bad to want to live your life the way you want to live it? And so, the most rational thing I could do was to be the most irrational human being I have ever been, and spoiler alert: it was first.

When you're diving into this new and exciting revelation, everything seems to get a tad blurry. It's kind of like when people win the lottery and all of a sudden they have all this money that they've never come across before and they decide to just splurge all of it at once. That's the kind of adrenaline rush I got, and so in the heat of the moment, I decided to say adios to university. It felt like it had done what it was supposed to do with my life. It gave me an experience, and I felt that it was time to finish it once and for all, and so I changed my 4 year program into a 3 year one so that I could graduate early (I should be done in December this year). I turned my part-time job into a full-time one so that I could be more financially stable doing whatever the hell I was going to do. So I was on my way to do...something. I would be done school so that would no longer be a burden. I would be working full time so I could support myself while doing that thing that I'm going to do that I haven't quite figured out yet. Either way, WOO! I'M MAKING MY OWN DECISIONS! YIPEE! I was being pulled in by so much excitement and adrenaline and craze all at once and it was both the greatest and briefest moment.

And then, it was reality check time. When this whole super-crazy-oh-my-god-I'm-a-strong-independent-woman-who-can-make-her-own-life-choices rush passed, as it always does, I was finally struck by the ever-so familiar banter of thoughts that were deeply rooted in fear. If you're a sociopath or some glimmering non-human entity floating around the world, you might be wondering what this thought-process looks like. Well, it went a little like this:

Did you just drop everything you've ever worked for? Do you understand WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE DOING? Yeah, I don't think you do. Finish your four years of school, you idiot. Get a real adult job. Do what you're supposed to do because I don't know if you know this, but you just left a life of comfort without even DECIDING what you are going to do with all this spare time. Are you just going to work retail the rest of your life? Is that what you want to do? Keep struggling financially then, hunny. What happened to ambition? What happened to dreams? What happened to FINANCIAL SECURITY?!! HELLOOOOO? Are you listening? You're a loser. You're going to be a bum. You're going to sit on your ass every single day of your life and do nothing and be nothing and that is it. Good job. This is why you don't make decisions you nutjob. You don't know how to do this. Get some perspective for once. Get a reality check. You. are. a. failure. That isn't going to change anytime soon.

Day after day, this is what it felt like. It felt like the one time I decided to decide, I had chosen wrong. I didn't have experience making choices for myself and I had just made the greatest, life-altering one, so what the hell was I thinking?

I focused more on school because maybe if I did that, I would feel more passionate about my degree and want to pursue it as a career. Maybe changing it back to 4-years would be better? I could do that, right? However, that plan clearly didn't work. The only way I could actually pause these intrusive thoughts, I soon found, was to read. And so, I read. I read books on books on books just to get away from this idea that I had completely ruined my life. I was taken out of my own reality into magical places. I was shifted back into the world of books that had always been my own true place of comfort and safety. And then one day, after placing a bookmark in another novel to grab a bite to eat, I was ready for the fear-banter to begin again. But that's not what I got this day. Instead, this faint curious notion patted me on the back and whispered, "You like books," and I'm kind of just standing there waiting for my leftover Chinese food to heat up in the microwave like, "Yeah, no shit Sherlock." And then, in response to that, something else happened. It was something along the lines of, "What if you decided to write a book?" What if I did?

It's not like the fear banter just went away (because when does it ever?) but I decided to look into this idea. What if I decided to write a book? What harm could it do to my life? None. How much excitement could it bring to my life? - Potentially, a lot. I mean, you can probably tell that weighing the pros and cons wasn't the most difficult of tasks. So that's it. This is what I've decided to do, and for once, it feels like I'm doing something right. I don't know how long this is going to take and I really don't know what I'm doing while I'm doing it, but progress is being made. I didn't know at the time what I needed to be doing, but all I knew was that everything I was currently doing, was not it. What I've learned is that sometimes, that's all you need to know. I don't know what'll happen from here on out, and to be completely honest, I feel really uncomfortable while I'm doing all this. But it's the good kind of discomfort. It's the, "Hey, you're not completely miserable and don't really know what to do with feeling content for once" kind of discomfort. But for once, although I have nothing completely planned out for my life, I feel more okay than I ever have before. All of this because I didn't want the life I had, and made the decision not to live that way anymore, even before I had the slightest idea of the life I did want. All I can say is that if this is selfish, then being selfish is really fun!

I'll also be blogging regularly again to let you guys know about what's going on, what progress is being made, and the emotional roller-coaster of it all. It feels good to be back.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Letter I'll Never Send

I'm not good with spoken words. When placed in any situation where confrontation sets the tone, I become speechless. I write for the words I am incapable of saying. So, here is what I never said to you. Here is what I've always needed to say. Here is what I should have said.

You haunt me in my dreams. Every waking hour of the day, every sleepless night, you are a part of it. I replay it over and over in my head, changing the scenario, changing myself. You are a part of all of it. You are the reason for it, and yet, you're not here. You haven't been for quite some time. You've moved on. You've found better. I haven't. I know you still think about me sometimes. You send me hidden messages from time to time, but I can't do anything about it now, now that you have her.

I wish I could have said something. I should have said something. You told me I was the one who got away. You blamed yourself. You thought you did something wrong. You didn't.

The problem was that when I first met you, my heart wasn't fully healed. I was still in love with someone else. I fought like hell for him. I said everything I needed to say and then, I said even more. I did anything and everything in my power to get him to stay, but he left anyways. Despite my greatest attempts at getting him to love me back, I learned the hard way that you can't control how someone feels about you.

I didn't fight for you. I didn't say what I needed to say. You were honest, you were loving, and you were the one who cared. I shouldn't have fought for him. I should have fought for you.

He never looked at me the way you did. Still, up to this very day, no one else has. You saw something in me that at the time, not even I could see in myself. You saw something, and I watched you, fixating my eyes onto yours, wishing I could understand what exactly that was. To this day, I still don't know what it is.

When we stumbled into each other's lives years later, that look remained. This time though, you were hesitant. This time, you were cautious. This time, you were afraid.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry if my fear latched on to you. I'm sorry if I ever hurt you. I'm sorry I could never build up the courage to say what I needed to say, and what you needed to hear.

You did all the talking, and when you noticed and acknowledged my silence, you thought I didn't want it. You thought I didn't want you. I don't blame you for anything. I don't blame you because it was never your fault. I should have said something. I should have validated how you felt with letting you know that I felt it, too.

You said I was the one who got away, but really, I was the one who watched you go. I was the one who let you go. I was the one who needed to say something. I was the one who never did.

I shouldn't have fought for him. I needed that fight. I needed it for you. You needed it, too. You were the one who deserved it.

Maybe, someday, our paths will cross again. Maybe then, I will have that courage. Maybe then, I can tell you that I could have loved you. Maybe then, you could tell me that I still can.

Friday, October 2, 2015

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing, But I'm Doing It

I "announced" on twitter that I had some pretty big news that I'd share with you guys. I mean, the word "announce" makes it sound all big and important and probably made you think it had something to do with you, and perhaps it does. Maybe the decision I have been going back and forth with for quite some time until finally coming to a solid conclusion, will help you make yours. Let me start by going back to the early days of elementary school.

I was a nerd. I was THE nerd. I was THE teacher's pet (not as annoying and never the person constantly raising their hand up to answer every question, because I was shy and awkward) but I just did my work, I got really good grades, and I had great relationships with my teachers. That's really all it was to me. School has always been my safe place. I can do school, and I can do it well. I can spend hours of my time color-coding my notes and adding page numbers and a table of content to my notebooks because I'm a weirdo, and I think it's fun. I can spend days and nights living off of coffee and little to no sleep, just studying. I was the ideal candidate for university because I pretty much fit all the criteria. That was, until I got here.

I've told you guys before that I once had a plan for myself. I was going to finish high school, do my undergrad, my masters, my PhD in Clinical Psychology, and then go straight to work. That plan, as you all may know if you've read my posts from time to time, has fallen apart over the years. Clinical psychology seemed like the perfect route for me. I've always wanted to pursue a career where I could live my life to help others while also being able to pay my bills and this field hit both the check-marks! Kind of perfect, right? Wrong!

Over the years, I've begun to understand my love of learning about people and watching people (okay, it sounds creepy but all you people-watching lovers should get where I'm coming from). I used to be a really quiet person and I've always been a strong listener which has helped me throughout the years because I've learned that being the person who always has something to say doesn't necessarily make you more knowledgeable. I think it's more important to have to hear what others have to say and take it in, understand it, and take time to digest the information before deciding whether you agree with it or not. Listening gives you perspective and I think that's also helped me as a writer. Observation can take you places. You heard it here first, folks!

Now, let's just jump into the subject of part-time jobs. I have always hated working. For some reason, going in to work has always given me great anxiety. It doesn't matter if I get along with everyone there and the work environment is great - I just don't like it, or I guess, I didn't like it. Then again, I've only really worked at fast-food joints and restaurants. Despite my hatred towards going in to work, I have always been a great worker. I am someone who loves working while I'm on the job, however, going in to work (like that 20 minute time frame before clocking in), I panic. If I were to paint a picture for you, imagine what a person looks like when they are experiencing a heart attack, and that was what it felt like in my brain. So as a result of that, I called in sick quite often and gave most of my shifts away. As much as I loved working while I was there, the pre-panic attacks were not worth it. Maybe a part of it was the "people-pleaser" in me that gets anxious that I might screw up and everyone will hate me and I'll become the worst employee. Another part of me simply hated the routine lifestyle that it promoted. So I moved around a lot from job to job. Having a job was never much of an option for me, only because in short, I needed to survive and help my mom pay the bills. So recently, when I got a job at my favourite clothing store, Urban Outfitters, I was giddy and excited, but cautious at the same time because it was likely that this will be yet another temporary gig, meaning that I should still keep copies of my resume at hand.

Then, something happened. Instead of that panic moment, I began to feel excitement with going to work. I walked in to an environment that embraced creativity and freedom of expression. I work with people who constantly nag me about what I'm going to do with my degree. Instead, the topic of creative passions always seems to arise. I get to talk about my writing and they talk about their passion of strumming the strings of their acoustic guitar or the feeling they get when they colour a page with delicate strokes of a brush. I work with creatives and with that, I learned that my one stop for everything in my wardrobe was also my one stop at finding my kind of people. The environment is hectic and you have to constantly run around, completing different tasks as you go. Every day is different and you never really know what you're going to have to deal with when you go to work. It's busy and chaotic and overwhelmingly exciting. It's my element. With that, Urban Outfitters has become my home. It's a place that offers opportunities in not only retail, but also other departments. A place that has visual departments, craftsmen, fashion, music, and the one thing that's dearest to my heart: writing.

With my internship, working, and full-time school, things have been more than chaotic lately. I get to fall in love with writing each day as I make my way through my internship. I get to surround myself with creative people at work. School however, has become less and less important in my life. It's not to say that I haven't learned anything from it, but it's more than I've found something better, and I almost feel like school is holding me back from going further into what I want to do with my life. School is routine-based whereas I'm looking for a beautiful mess to conquer.

I saw a quote recently as I was scrolling through my pinterest feed that said "You did not wake up today to be mediocre," and it hit a nerve. I feel that right now, school is the only thing stopping me from becoming more, from doing more. For someone who loved school, I know that a lot of that love came from the safety it gave me. I know that as long as I'm in school, even though I'm accumulating debt, I can put the real world on pause. But school is boring for me. The content is interesting and something I would enjoy doing if it weren't so structured and rushed.

In a post I published a while back, I mentioned that I wanted to remove all backup plans in my life so that with whatever I decide to pursue, there is no option but to succeed in it, and I think my time at school is coming to an end. From wanting to continue studies until my late 20's to finishing up this year and graduating early, it's probably the greatest risk I'll ever take. I hold a lot of importance to education. I think it's a great base for knowledge, not only about the world, but yourself. At the same time, I think learning by actively doing something is also very important. I think taking risks are important. Most of all, I think listening to your gut is important. I don't think school is for everyone, and I learned that as much as I want it to, it isn't for me. I like being busy. I like running around. I like having tasks thrown at me to complete for a deadline. That's what I get at my internship and Urban Outfitters, but not university. I don't like sitting in lectures for hours at a time because I'm a fidgety person and I need to constantly be doing things. I don't like reading books to be rushed and forced because it's something I otherwise, naturally enjoy doing. I like busy. I like chaos. But I despise structure, and that's what school really is. That's why I think it's great for some people, but I'm not one of them.

Maybe jumping into the real world and figuring things out when I have no plan at all is the worst idea and will lead me to great distress. Or, maybe it will be the best decision I will ever make. Either way, instead of completing 4 years, I'll finish up after my 3rd (this year) and work full-time, keep writing at my internship and blog, find other writing gigs, and basically just see where life takes me. Every individual that I admire is someone who has taken great risks in life and it led them to great struggle but then, great success. I have no idea what I'm doing, but for once, I think I'm headed in the right direction and I need to trust my gut on this one. In order to have great things come your way, you have to believe that you deserve them and have the confidence to just go for it (or do what I'm doing and fake it 'till you make it!)

This year is going to continue being tough because I have a lot on my plate, right now. But, I hope you guys will stick around for this exciting/terrifying adventure I hope is coming my way.