Don’t Waste Your Time

How many times have you done something that you didn’t want to just to make other people happy? How many times have you gone to some party or event you really didn’t want to just to keep up appearances? If you’re anything like me, then probably too many times.

Of course we can’t always just do what we want. That’s not how life works. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do something you don’t really want to do. You have to go to work even on the days you don’t want to, you have to go write that test to pass that class. However, you don’t have to go to that party if you don’t want to. You aren’t obligated to hang out with someone if you don’t really like them, or if you’re tired and want nothing more than to go home and go to bed.

It’s not uncommon to feel like you’re obligated to go to every social event that you’re invited to. There’s so many reasons as to why you might feel that way. Maybe you want people to perceive you, or you don’t want to disappoint your friends, or you feel like at your age it’s what you’re supposed to do. But most reasons have to do with other people, and don’t really involve you and your feelings. 

At the end of the day, though, that’s your time and energy. You have to decide how you want to spend it. Sure, if you say no your friends might be disappointed and give you a hard time. But they’ll get over it, and if they’re really the type of people worth being around, they will understand. 

You only have so much time to spend. Think of it like currency. You start with a certain amount in your account, and every decision you make spends some of it. Eventually, all of your time will be used up, so you should spend it wisely. Make sure you are happy with the way you spend your time. Make sure that you feel fulfilled and good about the choices you make. 

I’m not perfect at this. I spend my times in ways that maybe I don’t always want to. I say yes to things because I feel like it will make other people happy, even if it’s not the way I wat to do things. But I’m working on it. 

Just don’t forget you’re allowed to say no. You’re allowed to make decisions that reflect what you actually want to do. At first it might feel uncomfortable, especially if you’re used to making decisions for the sake of others. But once you get used to it, it will feel really good. So just give it a try. Try saying no. 

-Rory 

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5 Lessons Learned From My First Semester of University

While I’m not done finals quite yet and still have to make it through the last stretch of the semester, my classes are finished and my assignments are all handed in. 

I have only spent a couple of months out of high school, but I feel like my perspective on life has changed a lot, and I have learned a lot too. And by learning, I don’t mean just in my classes. I feel like the first year after you graduate high school you learn more about yourself and about life than ever before. Or at least I have (so far).

Now of course, I still have a lot to learn. But a lot of the lessons I learned this past semester I really wish I could go back and tell my high school self. It would have made things a lot easier for myself if I’d known then what I know now. 

  • Know how much things are worth before you start them

When I say know how much things are worth, I mean grade wise. Knowing how much things are actually worth has helped bring my stress levels waaaaaaay down. The thing is, in high school I stressed out over every single little assignment. And I still do every assignment now too, but I’m not spending hours trying to get a perfect mark. If I get a perfect mark then that’s great, but I’m not going to stay up all hours of the night trying to get one or two more marks that really won’t make a difference.

  • Lists are your best friend

I swear by lists now. The thing is, I’m really bad at using planners. I like the idea of planning out my day and timeblocking, but I have not quite found a system that works for me. I feel worse for not sticking exactly to my plan than if I hadn’t made a plan at all. However, lists are loose enough that I don’t feel constricted, but also organized enough that I know what I need to do. I started making a list at the beginning of each week of everything I needed to get done by the end of that week, and it’s been so nice just knowing what I need to get done. So I focus on those things, and everything else is just extra. 

  • Perfect grades are not a requirement

I’ll say it again. Perfect grades are NOT a requirement. Yes, you need grades good enough to stay in your program, and it is nice to have grades high enough to get scholarships, but a 4.0 is not mandatory. You’re young, live your life a little. Don’t bend over backwards trying to get that 4.0, and remember that your grades do not define you. Also, someone with higher grades than you is not automatically better than you. If they think that it does, then they aren’t someone worth being around anyways.

  • School is not your whole life. 

Listen, school is important. And it’s the main thing in my life right now. That being said, I have learned that it is not the ONLY thing in my life. I’m young. I still want to have hobbies and friends. I’m still learning about myself and my likes and dislikes. I won’t learn all of that just by going to class. And while I think that education will help me in the future, I want to live in the present, not just for some undetermined time later in life. So school is not everything. It is not my whole life. It’s a big chunk of my life, but I live outside of school too.

  • Nothing is set in stone

I’m young. I spent most of my time during high school studying and not much else. I don’t really know what I like or what I want. So I’m making choices blindly. And truth be told, they’ve caused some sleepless nights while I wonder it they’re the right thing to do. Maybe they aren’t, but they aren’t my only option. Life is not one straight road. I can take a turn and change direction at any point if I want to. So if I make a choice I don’t like its okay. I’m not stuck with it forever. 

-Rory 

Working Update

I have almost finished my first semester of post secondary, and that kind of feels like a big deal. That being said, life is not necessarily winding down. At all. 

In the next few weeks I have final exams, some final project to finish, the holidays, and with the holidays comes the busy season for work. I work at a small family owned café, and with the holidays upon us the café is participating in local events and markets. That means that everyone is getting more shifts and working harder. 

Not that I’m complaining. I’m actually pretty happy about it. Since I’m a full time student and I also want to have a social life and sleep enough I don’t work all that much. Usually I only work one shift a week. But the next couple of weeks I’m going to be working a couple of extra shifts on top of my usual ones. That means I get to earn a bit of extra money just in time for the holidays. 

My boss is also the sweetest person. She called me to make sure I was okay with working the extra shifts before scheduling them, since she knows that final exams are coming up. And she remembered my schedule even better than I did. She made a point of not scheduling me for an event running at night when I have an exam the next morning, so I’ll be well rested for my test. 

It really touched my heart that she called me to make sure that I would be able to manage the extra shifts along with my exam schedule. It really is the little things that count. 

Don’t forget to be grateful for the little things and really power through this final month of 2018! Enjoy the time you get to spend with people you care about, take a moment to appreciate small gestures, and finish the year happy.

-Rory 

Blessings in the Wind

One thing that I’ve started doing as a personalized act of meditation, is picking a quote once a week and journaling about it. I write down my own interpretation of the quote and what it means to me. It’s an act of self reflection and an act of self care, all in one, and I figure what better place to share some of these thoughts and revelations than here? 

“Blessings are in the wind.”

Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese 

Blessings come from the most unlikely of places, and more often than not they come in disguise. It’s nearly impossible to recognize a blessing in the moment. We need perspective, and to look back on events, actions, and thoughts. In the moment we are too caught up in our emotions to recognize blessings for what they are. We can’t connect the dots and know what might be a catalyst for a better future. 

Blessings are like the wind. Sometimes they are a light, gentle breeze on a hot day. They bring us relief and we are grateful. We know them for what we are and we are glad that they have arrived. Other times, they come in disguise. Sometimes they are a strong cold wind with a bite, coming on a cold winter morning full of hardship. They are cold and ruin our hair and bring snow or rain. But they are catalysts. They bring change. And the longer you resist them the worse it will be. The longer you resist them the more you prolong your suffering and delay the good change they will bring.

It is not always obvious when something is good, but there is no true good or true evil. There are two sides to every coin. There is good in bad and bad in good. It’s all really what you make of it. A blessing can be as big or small as you make it.

The future is uncertain. The past can be remembered incorrectly, or be clouded by our own bias. The only thing that is truly certain is the present. The only thing that’s real is the here and now. Take a moment to be in the present and appreciate whatever life has brought you. You can remember happiness, but it is not as strong as the present moments emotions. You cannot anticipate what you will feel in the future. You only have what you are feeling now, in the present. So embrace it.

Whatever life brings to you, whether a gentle breeze or a powerful blast of air, take a moment to accept it as it is. Close your eyes and take a deep breath of air. You’re alive, and this is life, both the good and the bad. That air in your lungs means you’re still fighting, you still have potential and power. 

-Rory

Reading Week And Lazy Days

At the start of reading week I was so prepared to be productive and get ahead on my school work. Did that happen? No. Am I upset about it? Also no.

I had so many ideas about what I would do this week, and I kept saying I would plan it out and be prepared to do everything and get ahead in life. I was going to cook and meal plan and exercise and study and clean and be social! But when it came down to it I couldn’t actually make myself sit down and plan it out. I think that’s the big sign that all that productivity was just not meant to be. But is that a bad thing? No.

First of all, looking back, I could not possibly have gotten everything done that I wanted to. I just wasn’t being realistic. Even without classes there is no way I could do everything I wanted to do in the short span of a single week. I did do some of the things I wanted to do, but not all of it.

I DID work out (a little).

I DID cook (a little).

I WAS social (a little).

I DID study (a little).

I (sort of) cleaned.

You know what else I did?!

I relaxed. I caught up on sleep. I took a break.

Yes, it’s good to be driven, and yes it’s good to have goals. Honestly I NEED goals. I need something to work towards, or I don’t really do anything at all. But it’s also important to take a break. That’s how you avoid burn out.

Life is balance, but life is also ebb and flow. Life is push and pull. You work hard, and then when you’re given the chance to have a break, you take it.

I’ve napped every day. I’ve done a little studying, but not a lot. I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos. I’ve done colouring and reading. I’ve eaten junk and spent more money than I maybe should have.

And that’s OKAY! That’s a good thing. I’m well rested and now I can go back to school refreshed and absolutely rock the last few weeks of classes.

Let yourself take a break when you need it. It’s not bad or lazy or wrong. It’s okay. Sometimes that’s what you need. And after your break you’ll be able to work harder and better than you did before.

 

-Rory

 

Self Care and Self Understanding

SELF CARE IS SO IMPORTANT!

This is what I keep shouting at myself (mentally). When life gets busy it’s so easy to forget that self care is important. It’s so easy to put taking care of yourself onto the back burner and leave it for less hectic times. But self care isn’t one of those things that you can just ignore.

Letting go of your own personal wellbeing means more than letting go of your happiness and health. It means letting go of your energy, of your focus, of your empathy, of your focus. It means putting strain on your relationships and sacrificing the quality of your work. It means feeling low and down about life in general.

At least, that’s what the last few days have shown me.

The last week or so I’ve felt incredibly under the weather, but not in a physically ill way. More in the low energy, sad, doubtful way. I spent every minute feeling like crying, and bursting into tears for no reason. It took a lot of effort to get out of bed, and for the first time ever I was late to class.

I’ve also been cranky. The worst part is that I could feel myself being cranky and I just couldn’t stop. That’s the worst part of letting go of self care. When you run out of your own energy to drain, so you start sucking the energy out of other people. I don’t want to be someone that sucks the energy out of people. I want to give people energy. I want to contribute, not take away.

At first I blamed it on the weather. And then I blamed it on some disagreements I’ve had recently. And I do think the weather has something to do with it, but I don’t think that the relationship strain is the cause of it. I actually think that it’s the other way around. I think that I’ve been projecting my own issues onto other people and onto my relationships and creating more problems.

The law of attraction, so often, proves itself to be true. Like attracts like. So being negative and looking at the worst in things facilitates more issues. And when more issues pop up it just reinforces whatever belief you hold in your mind.

But everything changed yesterday! I came home from the university early and had the house all to myself for a couple hours. I made myself a nice nutritious lunch and had a nap that was three times longer than I planned. I set an alarm, and slept straight through it. Then I did a little bit of homework before going to a group fitness class and absolutely killing it.

And guess what? The constant feeling of wanting to cry went away. And I got out of bed feeling wide awake and happy this morning. Just taking an afternoon to sleep and relax made all the difference.

I think part of what was getting me down was the weather. It’s dark when I leave the house, dark when I get home. It’s cold and there’s snow on the ground. And this happens to me every year around this time. When it first starts to get dark and cold I’m always affected, and somehow I always forget that this happens, year after year. The other part is probably just a little bit of burn out. I haven’t been taking care of myself as much as I should, and I just finished midterms, and school is a lot.

In times like this it’s important to be kind and gentle to yourself. Before I came to the realization that maybe I’m just worn out I berated myself for feeling down. Now I know that maybe I just need to be gentle to myself and give myself a little bit of extra love.

Part of life is going through ups and downs. I think it’s important to not let ourselves be swept away by these feelings. Enjoy the ups, and understand the downs, but take time to step back and observe. Sit in whatever feeling you are experiencing, and understand it. Understand where it came from, where it’s coming from, and what actions it calls for.

Some feelings are not as high maintenance as others, and that’s okay. But when you can just try to remove yourself from the situation and understand the causes that brought you to this moment, and what steps you need to take to watch out for yourself.

-Rory

 

Midterms round 1 – Done!

Wow time does go fast when life gets busy. I can’t believe it’s already November. It was dark when I left the house this morning, and dark when I got home. There’s snow on the ground, and ice on the streets. It really is starting to feel like Winter!

I actually almost fell flat on my face, more than once, while crossing the street in front of cars. I didn’t get hurt, but that was definitely embarrassing. I compensated today by wearing my ugly winter boots. I’m sure everyone has a pair of them, those ugly boots that are the best functionally. I mean, they’re warm and they have great grip, but they’re just kind of… ugly. There’s got to be fashionable winter boots out there somewhere, but I haven’t found them yet.

I’ve also already finished my first round of post secondary midterms! Technically I’m not totally done, I still have one in two weeks, but I’m not really counting that one. It’s after reading break, and the second midterm in that class so it’s really not worth as much. I’m finished with the back to back, soul breaking, draining marathon of midterms, though.

It honestly wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I thought it would be a whole lot worse than it actually was. Granted, it wasn’t awesome. I’m not exactly excited for midterms next semester. But I thought it would be a whole lot worse than it was.

I have only gotten back results for two of my exams so far. Funnily enough, I did better in the hard class. I mean, it’s the class that most people think is hard. I (so far) don’t think it’s that bad. To balance that out though, the “easy” class is giving me some trouble.

Actually, my mark on the midterm for the “easy” class is the worst test mark I’ve ever gotten. I thought this would bother me, but I’m actually okay with it. I still did okay, I’m still above average, and I’m still passing. That’s what matters, right?

I’m still waiting on grades for the other two. For my programming class, I actually feel pretty good. I don’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed, but I think I did well. I’m still on the fence about calculus, though.

On the one hand, I thought the test was easy. On the other, I feel like I’ve unlearned most of the calculus I know. I actually took calculus in high school, and everything we’ve been taught in this course is pretty much review. The trouble is that my instructor teaches far more in depth than we really need to know, when none of us in that class have more than a high school level of math. So at this point I feel as if I’ve unlearned everything I thought I knew about calculus.

I’m actually tempted to stop going to the lectures and just start teaching myself. Since up to this point it has essentially been a really confusing review, I feel like if I read out of the textbook and watch videos and do practice problems I’ll be alright. I’m just hesitant to do that in case the professor says one key point that is not in the textbook. I’ll probably keep going for now, and then I’ll make a choice after reading break.

I do need to be careful about my motivation now, though. Since midterms are pretty much over, I’ve sort of clocked out. I had a marathon of tests, and mentally I’ve checked out of school. It’s been difficult the last couple days to find the willpower and motivation to get things done. But I just need to make it through this week and then it will be reading break. I just can’t let myself fall into a state of laziness. I’m not done yet. These next few weeks will be the most crucial in the semester as we approach finals.

At least my classes are starting to wind down. My project based classes are nearing their ends, and that’s a relief. A lot of my time and energy has to go into those classes, so if they come to an end I can redirect my energy to other parts of my life.

 

-Rory.