Hey so remember that time I got so insanely busy that despite jotting down ideas and taking pictures of all my new recipes, I didn’t actually blog for 6 months? Me too. Cool times. Not. Anyways – with graduate applications completed and a new village to call home I am back! (This one is legit a village. I heard the cashier at the grocery store say she had to go to the city, and by city she did not mean Toronto. She meant Barrie. True story.)
Something that has been on my mind a lot for the last few months, has been this idea of “I’m doing it wrong.” I’ve written before about how “should” is a really annoying word to say to yourself, but what I have been noticing lately in myself and others is this tendency to look to other’s lives to see how we are doing or to tell ourselves where we should go next.
You ever have that moment of self-doubt when you’re thinking, my God! Look at these other people’s lives – they’re so freaking perfect! What the heck did I forget to do to get there at this age?!
Don’t lie, we all go through it. And it’s worse thanks to the internet and it’s boundless amount of information all waiting to gnaw away at your insecurities.
I moved back home this summer. And I was feeling okay with this decision. It’s not like any of my friends had really big kid jobs right? And then they started getting really real big kid jobs as I call them. And in a fit of desperation I bought Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps (By Kelly Williams Brown if you’re interested!), which helped, but didn’t settle the unease I felt when my cousin got a job as a Director of Physician recruitment. And my high school friends started their Master’s degrees and at least half now had corporate jobs. People were growing up and going out in the world and getting real jobs. Then at least once a month I started noticing all my high school friends/acquaintances getting married and some were pregnant (or had kids). I mean I don’t really know how I feel about the kids thing, but they clearly had their lives together! Right?!
But in all this self-doubt and Facebook dream crushing there are four very important truths to remember:
- You Can’t “Win” Looking at Your Neighbour’s Test.
No seriously. Just like that grade 10 math test – you could be sitting next to the smartest kid, but they may still make a mistake. Except in this case, you’re not even writing the same test. Life is different for everyone. I have a friend who is several years younger than me and in a mild panic about what she should do with her life. And because she wants success, she looks at what others call success and wants that. Even if it’s never been an area of interest for her. Even if she’s really good at something else.
What makes sense for my best friend who just completed teacher’s college makes no sense for my friend who is halfway through his engineering degree. Just because a friend is married and working doesn’t mean that answer A was the only correct answer.
B) Stay at home and save up/figure out where you want to be,
C) Go to school some more,
D) Have a job and be single and awesome,
E) Eat cookie dough from the freezer because you don’t know what to cook for dinner, and
F) All or none of the above
Are all valid answers. Really they could all be summed up into – find what makes you happy and do that. That’s the right answer. As long as it doesn’t involve routinely consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, ever consuming illegal drugs, electing to never clean your home/self ever again, or something that would seriously harm someone else, then by all means – continue. You’re doing fine so far.
- Don’t expect a road map. (but if you’ve got a tour guide, feel free to ask questions)
If you are confused at this point see (1). When I started university, I was (and still am) the first and only member of my family to attend/complete university. I had no freaking clue was a DGD was (similar to tutorials I think, but everything at uOttawa is bilingual, so we end up with a lot of palindrome shorthands). I also did not know what shawarmas were and had never eaten poutine. There were a lot of things about surviving and doing well in university about which I was totally clueless. I was lucky and clearly figured most of it out on my own, but I still graduated kicking myself for missing out on lots of opportunities and wishing I had known things sooner. That’s life. Sometimes you have to accept you have no clue where you are going, sometimes you’ll follow bad directions (like the time my cousin told us “turn left and go up!”… we’re not all great at map reading. I can barely even point north when asked.). But pick where you want to go, ask for help when you find it, and accept that odds are at least 22.8% of the time you’ll feel at least a little lost, but I promise you’ll get wherever you are supposed to be eventually.
- Success generally takes longer than it takes to make cupcakes.
By all means try the cupcake trick. I mean you probably will be at the same life point afterwards, but you’ll at least have cupcakes. Which nudges you ahead just a bit. In reality, success is a slow and drawn out process that requires focus, drive, and general motivation (because not everything you need to do to become successful is fun to do but it has to be done). The only rule to this is that you have to keep going. At this point in my life I am at least 59.2% sure that the bulk of our problems with success and life in general are caused by impatience and unrealistic timelines. Chill. Plan ahead. But seriously – chill. And go buy a cupcake.
- The Golden Rule Applies to you too. Talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend.
(Really, just talk to everyone like that. But let’s go ahead and keep the inappropriate stuff to the actual best friends. The Starbucks lady needs you to be nice to her, but she doesn’t need to know about the epic sex you had last night.)
When things go wrong or we screw up, a lot of us have a tendency to do one of two things: A) We get mad at the world, or B) We get mad at ourselves. Both are destructive, but at least the other guy can walk away when he’s had enough.
I’ve talked about this in the past, but be nice to yourself. A trick I use is I ask myself – would I say this to my best friend if she came to me with this exact story. Odds are I wouldn’t tell anyone, let alone my best friend that he/she is a total failure at life because they didn’t [insert crushing disappointment/failure here]. I might give her some advice, reassure her that this was a mistake, but I’d tell her it’ll be fine and she’s still a cool person. So be a little kinder to yourself. And as my mother says to me, “Stop making mountains out of molehills.”
On the flip side. Imagine someone, say your ex or some human being who missed the manners memo, kept texting you or calling you or spamming your social media to mock or berate you. How many times would you listen before you blocked their number or reamed them out for their general lack of decency? Probably not long. So be nice to you…
And that’s all I got. I’m not perfect. My life is a hodge podge stuck in limbo still at this point. And at least 10% of my brain is consumed with thoughts along the lines of “oh-my-God-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-I-am-going-to-live-with-my-parents-forever!!” and a further 12% is consumed keeping those thoughts in check. But I trust it’ll all work out eventually. Fifteen years from now, my life will most likely look nothing like what anyone else’s “perfect” looks like. It’s going to be chaotically perfect.
And overly caffeinated.
With at least 3 more throw pillows than Aaraf considers functional.
For now I’m going to dance around my kitchen to “Shake It Off”
T-Swift knows what’s up.