On Circles…

Nothing in life terrifies me as much as circles. It’s a privileged thing to say, given that much of the world lives in close-range danger. It’s funny, too, given that I am the product of two genocides… one would think that a circle is the safest place to be for someone like me.

Throughout my childhood, every year carried the possibility of absolute change. We could pack up our bags and go at any moment. Amidst this lack of stability and consistency, I would look at my friends and wish for the opportunity to find a circle: somewhere that I would belong, where I could trust that things won’t change so fast.

When I was on my own as a young adult, I started establishing traditions in the effort to make this happen. I was one of few friends who were at university without family nearby (the closest were a 13 hour flight away), and I made my home the gathering space for everyone. Year after year, we built a Thanksgiving tradition together. Soon, we were going for our annual apple picking trips and visiting the Sugar Shack in the winter (if you don’t know what a Sugar Shack is… it’s time to visit Canada). I started attending annual fundraisers and community events. I picked up foreign traditions, like St. Patrick’s day and Halloween, and made the trek out to the capital for Genocide Memorial marches.

Circles within circles.

Then, something shifted. I started saying things like “it’s nice to know what’s happening next, but I’m a little bored.” Uh oh. “I thought it would be nice to be friends with people from my mother culture, but I’m a Third Culture Kid, and they don’t get me.” Uh oh. “It’s nice to spend time with his family, but I don’t think this is working… but… what about all the traditions?” Uh… Run girl, RUN!

I ran straight into an impromptu Master’s program.

You can take the girl out of the adventure, but it seems you can’t take the adventure out of the girl.

Confronted with this realization, I had to decide what was more valuable to me. To stay, or to go? At the time, I had no good reason to stay, but God works in mysterious ways. As I was planning to finish school and leave, I found one. And nothing frustrates him as much as… circles 😏. Life is funny that way.

It’s definitely a luxury to be able to say that stability and consistency are boring. Routine is, after all, the foundation of modern society. Very little of our world would exist if it weren’t for millions of us running through routine days. But what does this mean to us on an individual level?

In my family, we deal with this by taking on new challenges. We don’t often choose the easy way because, if we do, the routine will suck the soul out of us. My husband and I like living a little more on the edge, taking on big projects and some risks in the hopes of advancing in life without losing the entertainment. We haven’t thrown ourselves into the wild yet, but it’s bound to happen sooner than later. We also try to maintain a balance between cherishing our circles, and persistently imposing change on each cycle.

We are still learning how to do this. It’s easy for years to blend into each other if we don’t make the effort to attribute a new character to each one. We are also a lot more picky about which circles we allow to persist… life is too short to waste on meaningless routine.

What about you? Do you prefer stability or fluidity in your life? What do you do to keep changing and growing?

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

On Mortality…

Last night, my friends and I were chatting about the impacts of putting certain things on hold in order to accomplish others. Yes, we talk about stuff like that on an odd Sunday. At this stage in our lives, we are dealing with the consequences of decisions we made when we were in our early 20s, and recognizing the vast differences between all the various life paths each of us chose to take.

This is only step 1, if we’re lucky. But, not everyone gets to live through steps 2, 3, 4… and so on.

When thinking about specific things I’ve witnessed people delaying for the sake of others (a family for a job, children for vacation, a home for a hyper expensive but fun rental, a career for backpacking, financial stability for the latest trends, etc), I’m not sure whether it is because we tend to believe that life is short, so we go for the quick and immediate pleasures, or if it is because we actually believe that life is very, very long.

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On Pain & Gain…

Nothing worth having in life comes easily. If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that I believe that even good luck, which seems to come out of nowhere, must be intentionally nurtured in order to manifest in our lives. Everything is hard work, perseverance, and faith.

You will be questioned most when you choose the difficult path. When you take the road less travelled, others will witness this and it will cause them to doubt the well-trodden path they favour. Nobody wants you to work harder to succeed, because your success will only prove that they need to work harder too. Nobody wants you to sacrifice and suffer to succeed, because this will show them that they, too, must sacrifice and suffer in order to gain what you have gained. Be prepared for the backlash.

What other people think of you is none of your business. What we focus on is what we succeed at. If you worry too much about what other people have to say about you and your journey, you will only become an expert at fielding criticism. Get over it and move on. Nobody promised that the road to your best self will include many friends. That’s part of the sacrifice. Quality over quantity. The winners stand alone, together!

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On Boundaries…

In my family, when we were kids, we were taught to respect everyone’s personal space. This meant keeping a fair distance unless invited closer, not asking extremely personal questions, and keeping our noses out of other people’s business. Moreover, under no circumstances were we to ever ask anyone for money, or about money.

Then, we grew up, and found people invading our personal spaces, asking us to divulge private information about ourselves and our families (both original and new), and running live commentary on everything we do with our education, careers, mortgages, family decisions, etc.

I am therefore a firm believer in boundaries, while maintaining community. 

I often work with young adults who are trying to choose an academic path. They ask me what they should do. They ask their parents what they should do. They ask teachers and friends what they should do. Sometimes, they resort to online discussion forums and ask strangers what they should do.

My advice always is: take your parents’, teachers’, and counsellor’s advice into account, ignore everyone else, and then make the decision that you feel right about.

This becomes more and more crucial over time. Not all advice is good advice. A select few people should be your guides; choose them wisely, and be sure that they are advising you towards your personal truth. A good coach helps you succeed by capitalizing on your strengths and ambitions. Choose the mentor wisely, then pick and choose the advice that aligns with your personal values, and finally do what you feel right about.

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On Anger…

The great Buddha said: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Anger deteriorates the self and destroys the soul. It may happen gradually, over the course of a lifetime, but the effects are permanent and damaging as ever.

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On Habits of Successful People…

When you hear yourself complaining about what appears to be a slow rise to success, I recommend immediately googling “habits of successful people” and really listening to the messages being shared on blogs and vlogs that are available, quite literally, at your fingertips. Are you engaging in these behaviours, or the opposite?

Here are a few that have worked well for me:

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On Dementors…

Have you ever almost given up on an ambition of yours just before you finally succeeded? Why were you ready to give up? Who or what got in the way? What would you have missed out on if you had given up?

When aiming towards a goal, some of us are slow and steady, while others charge ahead and bulldoze through everything irrelevant. Both ways work, depending on your personality and risk tolerance. However, one thing we all have in common is facing distractors (or being distractors for others) along the way, especially in the final mile.

You’ve heard that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; I am here to tell you that it also ends with a pessimist with his nose to the sky 9 times out of 10. Even when you ignore the distractors and move on past the finish line, they remain unconvinced.

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