Tag Archive: carpe diem


 

It’s been one year since I moved home after graduating university. One year of not being a student. One year of living with my parents. One year of being in the same city I grew up in. One year of being apart from a lot of the most important people in my life. And I’m still not okay with it. I’ve been struggling with what to say for a couple of weeks and I’ve still come up short. I want to be able to write about how this past year has enlightened me and I’ve grown into a happy, go-getting graduate but in reality, when I looked back at what I wrote six months ago, it still felt pretty accurate. On paper, my life still sounds great. Actually, even better than it did six months ago but I’m still not satisfied and I’ve spent a lot of time being very frustrated by this and trying, desperately, to figure out why. And then when all of this year’s grads were posting their pictures I saw one with a quote that really resonated with me. It said:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

And then I understood, at least in part, why I’ve been longing so desperately to go back to the school days since the second I left. There are many reasons but that quote explains something I was never able to put my finger on until I read it. While the student version of myself was deeply flawed and probably not the “best” one, there are many things I liked about that person that stayed there and didn’t come home with me. Student-me was carefree (my friends would scoff at this but I’m talking in relative terms here!), adventurous, an occasional party animal completely ready to let loose and willing to bend the rules sometimes. She always had time for friends and never turned down a beer and a chat at the local bar. She occasionally turned down work in favour of sleep or a fun time with fun people but still worked when it was necessary and remained a reliable, go-to employee. Student-me was passionate and driven and creating constantly. She was fit. She had goals and aspirations and real plans to get there.

Post-grad me isn’t any of those things and when I take the time to look at myself instead of at my circumstance I’m even more unhappy with who I’ve become. I never see my friends because I’m always working. I miss things that are important to me because I put work above all else. I’m not creating, I’m not excited about my current or upcoming projects because I don’t have any. I never turn down work so I’m always short on sleep and lacking fun. I’ve completely thrown health and fitness out the window and try as I might to get back on track, I never try hard enough. My goals and post-grad plans have fallen by the wayside in favour of “surviving” right now. I’m always stressed; about work, about money; about completely fictional scenarios I create in my head and believe to be real. This is not the person I want to be but I feel stuck in this panicky rut of having to work all the time because I don’t make enough to work normal hours and still get by. (Completely and utterly false because living with one’s parents is very cheap.) I don’t know how to get out of this rut but at least now, I know that I’m in it.

Don’t get me wrong, the year hasn’t been all bad. Despite the overwhelming feelings of being trapped and standing still I have enjoyed parts of it and I have certainly learned some things. Here are a couple of them, lest it seem as though I’ve been completely useless for an entire 12 months:

  • Sometimes you have to put yourself in highly uncomfortable situations for a short time to reap the rewards in the long term. I was really good at this in the first couple of months and it led to some wonderful experiences and opportunities but in recent months I’ve fallen back into complacency and become the excuse maker I once was but it remains a very true lesson.
  • Work is not everything. Saying no is okay. No matter how much you love your job it is not worth sacrificing other things that are important to you or that excite you. Don’t take on so many shifts don’t stay late out of obligation, stand up for your time because it is just as valuable as anyone else’s. That’s not to say never take on extra work or never stay late when they need it but just remember that doing those things is a choice not a job requirement and you are allowed to say no. (A lesson I am aware of but do not heed often and must continue to remind myself of in Year 2.

I’m trying very hard to be positive because that is something that My First Year lacked a great deal. I’ve spent a lot of time living in the past, wishing things were the way they were before and being overwhelmed by my nostalgic emotions. I hope that I can find it in myself to take back the parts of the person I was at school that I liked and discover parts of this self that I like as well. I hope that I can work less and play more and I hope that I can start to strengthen the friendships I have here in town rather than longing for the ones that are out of reach for now. I hope I can spend time learning new things and going after the things I want out of life rather than sitting complacently by. Here’s to creating, here’s to growing and here’s to the start of Year 2!

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New Year’s Resolutions and I have a strained history and I think that most people out there can relate. You start the new year with all these visions of how this is the year you overhaul your life. Change everything, do everything, see everything. But the end of January rolls around and chances are you’ve faltered more than a few times if you’re even still going. Not everyone experiences this, of course, but for the ast majority the 100% motivation of January 1st is depleted pretty quickly. For me, New Year’s Resolutions are a pretty new struggle. Growing up, my family didn’t do them and if my friends did, I didn’t know about it. Then I got to be a teenager and started doing things that I had “discovered” on my own. New Year’s Resolutions were one of those things. I’ve made plenty of resolutions over the years but I’m pretty bad at self-motivation and completing (non school related) projects so I was never able to keep them going for more than a couple weeks. Until last year.

2012 was the year that I realized my biggest New Year’s Resolution problem: I was too ambitious, I made too many and they were too complicated to tackle all at once. I wanted to change every single thing I didn’t like about myself (and let’s face it, in the teenage years that’s a pretty long list) in one fell swoop. But last year I realized that changing is a process. It does no good to bite off more than you can chew because, chances are, you’re going to get discouraged pretty quickly and give up all together. At least, that’s how it is for me. Maybe it’s a product of being in this generation but I’m pretty big on instant gratification. I need to see progress to keep going. There’s no point in trying to continue a futile effort, right? So last year I decided to commit to the process of change and instead of having a list of resolutions a mile long, I thought long and hard and I picked just one that I thought would be challenging but achievable.

Carpe Diem. That was my New Year’s Resolution for 2012. Short, sweet and simple but it really did make me push myself all year. And for the first time in my life I feel like I can honestly say I achieved my goal for the year. Yes, I had some setbacks, I faltered a bit under various circumstances but when I look back at 2012 I’m really happy with everything I accomplished. I tried all sorts of new things, I lived in new places, I made the most amazing new friends I could imagine and I absolutely attribute it to my constant commitment to the “carpe diem” mantra. And, I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself. Not only for all the things I accomplished in 2012 but also for sticking with it and continually fulfilling my New Year’s Resolution all year long. It’s given me the confidence that, if I think hard enough and pick the right one, New Year’s Resolutions can actually be a useful tool to help me become the best version of myself. That’s why, even though I’m late to the party and most folks have given up on their 2013 resolutions, I’m just finally picking mine now.

It’s not like I’ve just written January off completely in the “self-bettering” department, I’ve been working on my resolution all month but I have avoided actually settling on one until now because I’ve been weighting my options and fielding the raging debate inside my head as to what 2013 should be about. On the spurs of my previous personal victory I’ve been tempted to make more than one resolution. But quality is always better than quantity so, even though my list of things I want to improve is still a mile long, I’ve forced myself to just pick one. I’ve got lots of years left for other resolutions but for now I need to stick to one thing at a time. So 2013 for me is all about fitness. It’s absolutely cliche and probably one of the most broken resolutions of all time but it’s very important to me. And I’ll be clear, this isn’t about weight loss. Okay, it’s a bit about weight loss but my resolution is not to lose x amount of weight, my resolution is to be more fit. That’s it. I’m not looking to run a marathon, I’m not looking for a perfect beach bod; those are goals for another time. The goal here is to improve my level of fitness from where it is now. The goal is to be more active and to exercise regularly and if weight loss happens along the way, then that’s just a bonus.

So here’s to a successful 2013 and to getting up off the couch once in a while!