On Top of Mountains: Where Everything Makes Sense

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It’s my last day in Vancouver until I move here next month and I can’t help but feel a longing to come back here already though I haven’t even left. My whole life, I spent moving to a different place every few years. My family has never been one to fully settle down anywhere. Boxes were never fully unpacked because we knew we were going to get up and leave soon and I could never fully feel at home anywhere.

When I moved to my university town, I thought I’d love it there. I thought these past four years would give me some sense of what it’s like to feel at home and create a family, and it has. This is where I got my shit together. This is where I started working, where I figured out that it was writing that I wanted to pursue and any other work would be a way to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. This is where I decided that I didn’t want to go to grad school in psychology and take on a 9-5 job. This is where I decided what I didn’t want my life to look like, and that was a big thing.

I chose to change my degree to 3 years and start working full time at a job that’s now letting me move to Vancouver with it. A job that gave me a family, structure, financial stability, and a comforting zone that just let me be exactly who I was, even when I didn’t know who that person would be.

This small town gave me friendships that I thought would last a lifetime but those people were only supposed to be a part of my journey for a certain period of time. I lost a lot, but I gained even more in terms of authenticity.

Sometimes we feel we outgrew a place, a position, a person, a life. And when I reached that point, I felt lost all over again. I felt like I was back at square one when really, I just got better at knowing myself and what I needed.

Yesterday, I got a call back on my first real adult apartment in downtown Vancouver that I got approved to live in by the kindest manager/landlord of the building who helped me know the city, the laws and what to pay attention to. I got the same feeling from her that I did when I signed my previous lease at university with my roommates from a landlord that I established a wonderful relationship with.

I went to my second work meeting at another store where I got that same feeling from the Store Brand Leader who worked there. These past two days have felt like things are beginning to fall into place, FINALLY. I realized that since the day I fell apart, wanted to quit everything and go back to the way things were, I’ve gotten nothing but good news and success after success. How funny life is that it’s always after you reach your breaking point that you begin to rise higher than ever before.

My life here will begin sooner than I can fathom. I mean, by the end of August, I’ll have moved in to my first apartment on my own. I’ll have a better position at my company waiting for me. I’ll live a 10 minute walk away from it. I’ll be in a city of wonder, beauty, nature, outdoor adventures, and a wave of calmness that swifts through the air.

Yesterday, I climbed Grouse Mountain and got the call for my apartment as I was exploring the top of it. First of all, climbing a mountain is no joke. It’s always been on my bucket list and for someone who lives a very active lifestyle, I still wanted to die about 3 times in-between. I went really fast in the beginning and quickly learned that that isn’t the way to reach the top. You just have to keep a steady pace and not outdo yourself. The group of people around me became my cheerleaders and I was theirs. We were our own little family, supporting each other. When we reached the top, the 9-year-old boy hiking beside me jumped up in the air and high-fived me. I was speechless and on a new level of high. I wanted to experience that sensation all over again.

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The views for beautiful at the top, but the climb was my favourite part. I met so many amazing people and was surrounded by beauty everywhere I looked. I took moments to stop and just look behind me at how far I’d come. How beautiful the world looked from where I was standing. I wanted to stay in those moments forever, but I absorbed what I could and then continued to climb.

I made it up a lot faster than I thought I would: 1 hour and 23 minutes. I can’t wait to come back and live here so that I can do it again because I learned a lot from that climb. I learned a lot about myself. How quickly I want to speed through it to get to the top, how quickly I’ve always wanted to rush through my life to get to where I want, and then understanding very quickly that that isn’t how you’re supposed to do it. You’re supposed to meet people along the way. You’re supposed to keep your pace steady so that you don’t burn out. You’re supposed to have cheerleaders and be the cheerleader for others. You’re supposed to take moments to stop, breathe, and look back at how far you’ve come. You’re supposed to look at the world around you and take in the wonder, the beauty, the life that exists everywhere. You’re supposed to let yourself feel like you’re a part of it all.

It was a beautiful climb, but it doesn’t end here. You’re never finished and I don’t know if I want to be anymore. There’s always more beauty, more heartache, more tragedy and more wonder. I’m grateful for it all and I can’t wait to see what’s to come next.

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Mental Health and Adventure: Am I Scared or Unhappy?

There was a turning point I reached yesterday, one where I was faced with this understanding that some of my ghosts still exist and that it is my decision what I am to do with them. Whether I will breathe life back into these thoughts, this outlook on life, carrying it all forward, or whether I should simply walk away.

I’m afraid that they will always be a part of me because part of me also knows that these things, these thoughts, this way of being, doesn’t just go away. Mental health doesn’t work like that, so I’ve learned.

Yesterday I came out of what felt like a disastrous interview and completely fell apart. It was like I was back at square one. That these two job opportunities were the only thing that I could count on. Everything else: the apartment hunting, the prospect of leaving things behind, the expenses of moving, all of it was chaos. But this job transfer, it was stable. It was the thing that held me together. When everything else got too scary, I told myself that it would work out because this one thing was all the structure I needed to fuel the rest of myself off of.

It’s not that the meeting went poorly, it’s just that I didn’t get a good feeling off of it. It’s not like I don’t have another meeting with another store today, because I do. It’s just that I held on to this one thing so tightly that when it didn’t go exactly the way that I wanted, I fell apart. I felt 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 years old all over again. Back when I was emotionally unstable, in a state of depression, distortion, and a mindset of nothing will ever go right. Life will always look this way and I will always feel like this: weak, depressed, confused, alone, and lost.

As stressful as it is to be on this “vacation”/business trip to Vancouver with my parents for 10 days, I’m glad my mom was here with me. I’m glad that when I fell apart, I could crawl into her arms the way a toddler does when they scrape their knee. I just wanted it all to be over. I wanted to go back to the life I had in my small town where everything was simple and I finally got to a place of financial and emotional stability. I wondered why I am the type of person who always craves adventure and a curious life when I could have the simple, routine one that’s available to me when I get back.

I wanted to spend the rest of the day moping, upset, and eating chocolate even though I had lost my appetite. I wanted to opt-out of this moving fiasco that felt more like an apocalypse than an adventure. But I had made plans to go to Lynn Canyon Park and hike next to tall trees, walk down the suspension bridge, and sit on the rocks next to the water. I didn’t want to ruin my parents’ trip just because I felt like a complete and utter failure. I didn’t want my mess to travel into and consume everyone else’s life. So I went.

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And suddenly nothing else seemed to matter anymore. Not the treacherous apartment search, not the expenses, not the jobs, or my scattered and afraid mind. Suddenly the world was still around me and I remembered why it was that I felt like I was being led to this place. It was the nature, the wonder, the beauty, and this sense of grounded adventure everywhere I turn. It was the wave of calmness that I felt in the air the moment I stepped off the plane. It was the mountains and hills, the way the trees stood so tall you wondered if they had an endpoint. It was the way the water swayed and made you believe that your body was designed to flow this way, too.

Sometimes we get so caught up in all the details, so focused on the things that are made to take us away from what really matters. What really brought you to where you are and what is really leading you towards the next chapter. That’s when we become afraid, anxious, triggered back to our old patterns of thought. It’s the singular focus, this narrowmindedness of filtering your life through negative events. That’s when we are led off track from the truth. Sometimes we become so lost in ourselves that we don’t see the greatness that’s directly in front of us. We miss the beauty because we don’t believe it’s there.

I’m glad I remembered. I’m glad I remembered to see what was in front of me this whole time. Sometimes all we need is to be still to get back, even though it’s the last thing we want to do. But I think we need to be stubborn about our stillness the way we’re stubborn about everything else. I think we need to force ourselves to be still so that we can feel like we are a part of this flow again. So that we can remember that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. That worry is not a solution to our problems; that it never was. And that we need to trust that what is to come was always waiting for us.

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Letting it Go: When Compromising Becomes a Loss of Identity

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It’s two days until my trip to Vancouver and recently, there’s this wave of calmness that has washed over me. I don’t know where it came from and I’m not complaining at all. Calm is much preferred over anxiety if you ask me. But there’s some sort of inkling that things will fall into place in my favor and I just began to trust that the closer it gets to the day I leave. That I will get the higher position I want in the company I work for, and I will find an apartment that’s around my budget. That things will be okay. Things will be better than okay. Something in me knows that now and I’m trusting that that part of me knows more than my anxious scattered mind.

A woman I have a lot of respect for that works as part of the head department for the company and now my current store, came to me with all of the support and advice she could offer. She told me something people have been telling me for years and yet sometimes, certain things don’t seem to click right away…and then one day, they do. She told me to stop doubting myself, that I have a lot to offer and to show people that. That’s something I need to start bringing to the table, instead of my worries and fears.

So today, I wanted to talk about compromising and what it means in terms of your own sense of self and what it means within relationships. (I swear this will all tie together, just bear with me.)

I used to think that love came in fragments. That it was a waving motion that swept in and out of your life. That you had to match the current to stabilize it; to make it last longer. What I’ve understood lately is that love is already constant on its own. I’ve realized that any heart that beats is a heart that loves (whether we choose to admit it and be open about it, or not.)

But I’ve only recently understood that, which means that for most of my life, I tried to match any tide that wanted to wash over me. But I always found my own tide to be bigger. It would take over and consume the other, and more often than not, it would consume me with it.

One of my greatest fears has always been that I’ll be the one who cares too much, loves too much and feels too much. That no one else in my life had proven that they had the same extent of sensitivity that I did. I was always more intense with everything I did, meaning that I learned most of my boundaries by crossing them seventeen times.

So what exactly do I mean by believing that I had to match someone else’s tide? In less airy-fairy terms, I wanted to match someone else’s energy. Since I was drawn to people who seemed to not care about me very much, I decided that I would also be distant, withdrawn, and cold. Obviously on the inside, there was a lot more going on, but I got very good at my poker face. I got very good at making people believe that I didn’t feel anything at all. I wonder if at the time, they were pretending, too.

As the years went on, I wasn’t just drawn towards the cold, the distant, and the withdrawn. I was drawn towards people who were actually quite the opposite. Very affectionate, open and loving. People who were like the real me. It wasn’t something I was all that used to and I came to the conclusion one day, that I had forgotten how to not pretend. It felt like I had already done all this work to create this persona. I was tough, cold, unreliable, and often, in control. The case was no longer matching other tides, reciprocating what I received, but somewhere along the line, this was just who I became to my external world.

There are certain points in my life that I felt I had compromised too much of myself. That I gave in to what other people wanted from me and became the person that people wanted me to be. If I’m being completely honest, I felt pretty powerful at that time. It felt like for once, I wasn’t seen as weak, sensitive, and overly emotional, which was considered a terrible thing for a woman to be. I mean, how awful is it to be such a girl? No, I wanted to embody more of a masculine persona. It felt a lot more CEO and a lot less 90’s Soap Opera. (Don’t worry, the feminist in me is cringing right now at my old frame of thought)

I think compromise looks different for everyone which is why it can be so confusing. What I’ve understood as compromising is losing myself by being consumed of what another wants of me. I got so tired of being walked on and “compromising” that I became something entirely different. But what I never understood was that compromise didn’t mean admitting defeat or completely losing my own identity. It didn’t mean having to lose respect for myself that took me years to gain or just attain. Switching out to the person who is cold, distant, and withdrawn doesn’t mean you are strong. It’s usually just a mask for fear. And knowing me, I had…and still have, a lot of it.

I don’t know what meeting halfway looks like just yet. It’s something I’m still figuring out within friendships and romantic relationships. I’m starting to think that maybe it means something different for each relationship you have, for each person who is in your life. I realized that what I thought was compromise was just letting my loyalty become a sort of slavery. And when I embodied a more “masculine” sort of identity, I just wanted to reverse roles.

I think to understand what compromise really means within us and our relationships, we have to first align ourselves. What I mean by that is to understand who you are and who you are not. There’s this feeling of balance and calm that you get when you feel like the person you are with those close to you, matches the person you are on the inside. This alignment, this authenticity, and this understanding of your value and respect are the tools you need for anything that comes your way. And so when we find ourselves in another relationship, we won’t feel inclined to lose ourselves in it, nor will we not show up for it at all. We’ll just get to be and let the other be. Maybe that’s what compromise really is, simple and complicated.

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