On Imperfection…

Sometimes, things just don’t go so well… and that’s O.K.

The modern global culture, especially social media culture, is obsessed with an unattainable standard of perfection. From the perspective of the outsider looking in, everyone is on cloud 9. It’s no wonder that this causes severe cases of anxiety and depression over time, as individuals come to believe that they are the only ones left behind in imperfection.

Imperfection creates character in our lives… it’s the spice that turns out a little too spicy, and is therefore memorable. What are we, if not a compilation of broken pieces fused together? Whole, but imperfect.

Yesterday, a friend of mine told me she’s “a buzz kill”. This is why she doesn’t want to spend time with others lately. I thought this was both alarming and funny… but not in the “ha ha” sort of way. We don’t see each other clearly. If we did, we would know that everyone is carrying a burden and hurting, one way or another. Perfection is not real. Would we even want it to be? What’s the fun in that?

Today, another friend brought up the fact that everyone our age seems to be spiraling forward to the next new and big adventure in their lives. Feeling the pressure from all of the change she’s witnessing, she is questioning whether she’s falling behind. Is there such a thing? No matter which way I slice it, it seems to me that we are all always just in time. The right time is just different for everyone.

People who know me personally and read my blog say the funniest things to me… “How did you figure all this out?” they ask.

Here’s the great secret… If you were paying attention, you would have seen it repeated in several posts… We are all winging it! 

We are all learning and we’re all in this together.

We all have good days and we all have bad days.

We all need help.

And guess what… not a single one of us is perfect.

The truth is that perfection is a farce. Anyone who preaches that “perfect is possible” is lying to you. In fact, not only are they lying, but they are also misleading you. The goal here is not to be perfect. The goal is to be happy, and to know that you are not alone in this world. There are others out there who think like you, who worry like you, who feel like you, and fear like you. There are others out there who fight like you.

We’re all in this fight together. Our job is to create a safer world for you, for me, and for them.

That’s better than perfection.

That’s love.

And remember… we design our own luck! 

M.

On Selective Memory…

Have you ever gotten back in touch with someone who, like a blast from the past, triggers a chain reaction of emotions? I think we can probably all relate to that.

Have you ever been unable to specifically put your finger on what actually happened? How did you meet this person? Where did you go? What did you talk about? How did you part ways? You recall the feeling, but not the occurrences.

The world always goes around full circle for me. Having lived a relatively international life, I would expect the opposite: that what (and who) goes around is unlikely to come back around. Contrary to my expectation, the world really is a very small place. While this is oftentimes an amazing realization, what really stumps me is the fact that my memory fails me so often.

In grade 11, as my parents loaded the car to go to the airport once again, I hugged my friends goodbye one at a time and told them that I loved them and would keep in touch. My parents, witnessing my distress, reminded me that it was the same drama last time… I would cry for a few days in the new and foreign place, and then I would get over it. My best friend’s dad at the time raised his finger in the air and, chuckling, noted: “Don’t worry, child. You will have a lot of trouble remembering all that has come to pass in your life. You might develop some issues (ya think???) but this is how our minds protect us.”

I’d like to say he was wrong because I remember what he said that day… but he was quite right.

I’ve come to the realization that memory really is inherently selective. Strings of emotion may survive the tide of time, but the details are blurred. How can we even say that what we believe happened, really happened?

This is not a fun topic for most people to explore. All of us want to be able to trust our memories. All of us want to believe that we at least know the full truth of our own lives, even if we have insufficient knowledge of the truths of the world. But, do we?

Human beings like being able to put things into a context; we like telling stories. We like categorizing segments of our lives… some choose time based categories (“when I was 5”), others choose phase based categories (“when I was into punk rock”), and others choose place based categories (“when I was in New York”). Whatever categorization strategy you use, you are indulging in an inherent human appreciation for storytelling. I suppose the root of this is that we recognize that memory holds the meaning of our lives… or, does it?

Have you ever told a story of something that happened when you were younger, only to be told by your mom that it wasn’t how it happened at all? Are you convinced you wore a pink dress to prom, but your mom insists it was white? Behold… the wonder of not one, but two, selective memories.

How do we know what really happened? Did anything really happen, or is the collective human memory nothing more than a jigsaw puzzle of fabrications desperate to fit into the pattern?

Perhaps the answers to my questions will never truly be known. If memory is indeed so selective that years blur into one consistent emotion, then how can anyone claim to be objective? We can’t. However, I do believe it’s important for us to be aware of our historic biases and selections when we are trying to map out a truth. This opens up so many doors to the possibility that everything we know, and everything we are, can be challenged. If we accept this, we embark on the path to enlightenment – I think! I’ll let you know when, and if, I ever figure it out.

In the meantime, join me in an experiment, and write a story to an old friend or family member about a meaningful time, at least 5 years ago, when they were present. Ask them to write the same story for you, including as much detail as possible. Compare.

Do the stories match?

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

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 Feminism…

The feminist path was the path least trodden for a very long time and, consequently, walking it was arguably a nightmare for the brave women and men who were fighting for gender equality right from the beginning. Today, there is still a significant plight that feminists have to endure internationally, but I think the barriers and obstacles are a little bit different.

For women, one cannot speak of lifestyle design and generating luck without speaking of feminism. For the men who love them, the struggle becomes more and more apparent with time, and it becomes a shared struggle for the sake of that love.

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On the Fear of Missing Out…

FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out, is not a new concept, but has become somewhat more recognizable in the contemporary age, now that we know a little bit too much about everybody and can see where they are and what they’re doing at every given moment.

You probably already recognize what FOMO looks like: everyone is on their phones instead of enjoying the moment, always talking to someone who isn’t there, running from one event to another – three weddings in one day, anybody?

But what about the losses caused by this resolute desire not to miss out on anything?Read More »

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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