Archive | January, 2014

What are you doing with your life?

25 Jan

questionmark

I think it’s time that we had a serious talk…about life.

It seems to me that the biggest unanswered question university students have is:

What am I going to do with my life?

Sure, you might know what you’re going to school for, or what degree you’re working towards…but it’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint exactly the career that you will have post-grad.

Of course, there may be exceptions.

You might have been that person that fell off your bike, ended up in the emergency room with a broken arm, and then suddenly known that you were destined to be a doctor.

But I don’t think that these kinds of epiphanies happen too often.

I am doubtful that one day I will have a moment of total clarity where I will just suddenly understand my life’s purpose.

I don’t think that our “one true calling” really exists.

And I don’t want it to.

I want there to be variations to my calling.

I want to have new passions, new loves, and explore different opportunities.

I want to experience the gradients of gray between the bright, promising white of university and the stark black of a monotonous career.

The problem with this though, is that a lot of people really expect you to have ONE idea, ONE goal, and ONE future.

My parents, who are paying for my education, certainly expect me to know what I intend to do with my life…like, now.

But who decided that a little uncertainty was bad for you?

If being in university has taught me one thing, it’s how much I value learning about new things across different areas of study.

Sure, I had a set picture in my head in high school of what I wanted to do with my life.

And I carried this image with me into university because you just don’t invest in something that you’re unsure about.

But it’s important to take a step back and stop looking at yourself as if you’re in this little box with set limits and boundaries.

Experimentation is how you will figure out what to do with your life.

How do I know?

Well, I’ve been hit in the face with a lot of examples lately.

I had the pleasure today to listen to a guest lecturer named Will Novosedlik speak about his work helping companies build their brand.

He talked about how he discovered that, after 10 years, he didn’t like the idea that the companies he was working with were making promises to consumers that they didn’t really uphold. It was eating away at him.

So he took a step back, and started to write about his frustrations. He soon got himself a column in The National Post and found that simply expressing himself made him feel refreshed and ready to undertake new projects.

The best part? There was no “aha” moment in his story. He went through variations of a career, and ended up feeling better and more satisfied.

And he’s not the only one that’s experienced a change of plans.

I had one prof that told us how she hated linguistics in university. Then, years later, she rediscovered a passion for the subject and is now teaching it to students like me.

I met a psychology prof that admitted she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life in university…(apparently, they threaten to kick you out if you’re in the end of your third year and still haven’t declared a major).

Even my mom and dad have changed jobs in the last few years in favour of something new and different.

My older brother is right in the middle of what I would consider one of the most terrifying transition stages life has to offer: that uncertain period between graduating university and finding a job.

As you can see, the evidence is all around me.

It’s impossible to know what you’re going to be when you’re done school because no one can predict the future.

The best that you can do is to have goals and work towards them.

But it’s important to remember and expect your ideas to change.

Opportunities come up, we meet people with connections and ideas, and we make decisions that we could never predict making any earlier than the moment when we make them.

Conclusion: Life is complicated. Embrace it.

But if what I’m saying doesn’t convince you, well maybe you’ll listen to one of my favourite authors, John Green. He talks about college and life post-grad in his video blogs. Check them out; he’s hilarious:

And, if you’re at all interested in marketing, branding, or the business world, you can find Will Novosedlik’s blog here; he’s a great writer:

http://novosedlik.com

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Why is it so cold?

25 Jan

ice

Wow, it’s been cold lately.

Like, wind chill warnings and temperatures way, WAY down in the minuses kind of weather.

It’s weird because I’ve lived in Canada all my life, so I’m used to this kind of thing.

But I think I’ve been kind of sheltered from it until now.

In high school, I always had the luxury of being driven to school in a nice, heated car, or waking up and finding that my dad had already warmed up and scraped the ice off of my car for me.

I didn’t really have to walk to school a whole lot in the winter in those days.

But now, I have to walk everywhere.

Which is fine, it’s only a few minutes to walk across campus. But in the weather we’ve been having lately…it’s been tough.

My dad says that this cold is a good thing because it’s another incentive for me not to take up smoking.

I can always count on him for a different take on things.

But seriously though, I didn’t wear gloves the other day and I thought my fingers were going to fall off.

It seems like all I do is talk about the cold with people these days.

They say: “It’s soooooo cold!”

I nod and say: “Sooooooo cold!”

And then we can’t say anything else because we’re shivering too much.

However, I did have an interesting conversation with my roommate today. She’s from Nigeria and she asked me how long Canadian winters usually last.

I said that it all depends on whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow.

Yeah…I know, it’s a good quality joke, but it didn’t really land.

She had no idea what I was talking about.

I had to explain what Groundhog Day was, so my joke was pretty much dead and the situation got awkward.

Seriously, imagine yourself saying: “Well, here in Canada we have Groundhog Day where a bunch of people wait around for a groundhog to come out of its hole and if it sees its shadow, then we’ll have six more weeks of winter and if it doesn’t, then we’ll have an early spring.”

She thought I was nuts.

I told her to Google it.

groundhog

 

Too Smart for My Own Good?

17 Jan

=  yikes

One of my friends said this to me via text the other day:

You’re too smart for your own good.

First of all, thanks!

Second of all, so not true.

I may be in university and an adult now, but I do some really stupid things sometimes.

And being on my own in a new place isn’t helping.

I’ve locked myself out of my house (multiple times).

Yesterday I attempted to get something out of my bag while carrying hot chocolate and walking, all at the same time…I ruined my sweater and my jeans.

I pulled on a door clearly marked “push”….a couple of times.

I made a pasta salad, but I misjudged how much pasta to cook…I’ve been eating it for most of my meals for the last week.

Oh, and then there are those texts I send to my mom and dad every so often.

I ask them some really phenomenal questions sometimes…and it only occurs to me afterwards how dumb they sound.

erm

Here are just a few of them:

Does chocolate stain? (From the aforementioned multi-tasking incident).

Then: It was HOT chocolate, does that make a difference?

 Is a red sweater safe to put in with a load of whites?

 How do you cook chicken? 

 Can you put a load of colours and whites in the same dryer? 

 How do you clean a green onion?

 How long will cheese keep in the fridge? (I asked this one too late…my cheese got blue mold).

So clearly, I have my moments.

But what’s really amazing to me is the fact that I can go to class in my first year of university and have my mind blown about some of the things that I’m learning…and then I can have moments like these where I feel like I’m not thinking at all.

Maybe all this higher learning is pushing some of the more basic pieces of knowledge out of my head…hmmm…

But on the bright side, I learned the answer to most of the stupid questions that I asked my parents.

I can now cook chicken like a pro, clean onions like nobody’s business, and separate my laundry in no time.

These might not be skills that I anticipated learning, (mostly when I thought of coming to university, I thought of gaining more academic-type knowledge), but they are skills that are (shockingly) important for everyday life.

So, all the expenses of university life are paying off, I think.

After all, can you really put a price on life skills?

(FYI mom and dad, that’s a rhetorical question)

When Things Go from Bad to Worse

17 Jan

ube

A new semester means new courses.

 I was pretty excited that a new course of mine was all about writing.

Now you’d think that I would have this one in the bag, right?

I have a blog; I write all the time…should be easy, shouldn’t it?

Well, I’m learning that that’s not actually the case.

Let me explain.

Coincidentally, my first writing assignment was a blog.

My first thought was: YES! I KNOW WHAT A BLOG IS!

But I soon found out that what I normally blog about (i.e. random things that happen to me) are not very…academic.

And this assignment was supposed to be.

I had to write a critical annotated bibliography in the form of a blog about an article written by Stephen King.

So…a bit more complicated and formal than what I’m used to.

For this reason, as soon as I sat down to write, I felt the pressure.

Why, you ask?

Well, it was supposed to be short and succinct, coherent and easy to read. I needed to make good points and get them across in a manner that made sense, and was brief.

Sounds easy, but it’s kind of a tall order.

I kept telling myself that this shouldn’t be a difficult assignment.

I kept repeating in my head: this should be easy, this should be easy, this should be easy…

 …until there came a point when I admitted that it wasn’t actually that easy.

I was totally overthinking it.

And you know what that means: writer’s block was beginning to set in.

But I powered through it.

I had a draft (albeit a fairly rough one) finished, and I was feeling better about the whole situation.  

 That is, until the whole situation changed.

screen

 

Yes, that’s a picture of a blank word document.

I somehow deleted my almost finished blog.

char

 

How, you ask?

Well, I highlighted and cut the few paragraphs of my rough blog in order to paste them into a template that the prof had provided. But after cutting and before pasting, I (for some reason) decided to copy a file from my documents and paste it on my desktop.

So, when I went to paste my blog, of course the only thing that got pasted was the name of that file that distracted me.

And so I cut my own blog, and couldn’t get it to come back.

The worst part was that it was late at night the day before the assignment was due (as per usual for a procrastinator such as myself) and I had to start all over again.

I was extremely frustrated.

I sat staring at my laptop screen for a solid 5 minutes begging my blog to come back to me.

 

 

pic

But once that 5 minutes was up and my grieving process was over, I began writing again.

Just like before, I powered through it and got the thing done.

Moral of the story?

Always COPY, don’t CUT.

It’s just safer.

Life Skills Part 2: Electrical Edition

10 Jan

Last night I added to my household skill set.

 That’s right, I now not only know basic plumbing…but I know basic electrical.

Well actually, “basic” might be a slight exaggeration…I know something about a fuse box and some breakers.

I went to use my oven (it was a frozen pizza kind of a night), and I happened to notice that one of the burners on the stove was very hot.

Now I know what you’re thinking, someone probably just forgot to turn it off.

But here’s the kicker folks…the dial that controls that burner was in the off position and the little red light that comes on when the burner’s on, was also off.

It was a mystery…

…and kind of a fire hazard.

I couldn’t leave a burner on all night. And I didn’t want to have to call someone to come fix it.

So I turned to my personal handyman (my dad) for help.

I called him and asked if he had any suggestions for what might be wrong with it, or if I should just unplug the stove and have someone come fix it later.

He told me to just cut the power to the stove by flipping the breaker in the fuse box. That would be the easiest solution.

First Problem: Locating the fuse box.

I had never used it before, but I eventually found it. Here it is:

fuse

If you didn’t know what a fuse box looked like before and now you do…well, congratulations, you just gained a life skill.

Second Problem: The fuse box contained many switches that were not correctly labeled.

This is what I had to go by:

fuse2

The fact that most of the original labels were scratched out and written over was very reassuring.

Sure enough, I tried multiple breakers and none actually cut power to the stove.

I gave up and asked my dad for another suggestion.

He said I was just going to have to pull out the stove and unplug it.

There were a couple of difficulties with that solution:

#1. This is my kitchen:

kitchen

You can’t pull the stove out very far before running into the fridge.

So I had to pull it out as far as it would go, then lie on my stomach on the counter beside the stove in order to reach the plug. It was awkward.

#2. The plug did not want to be unplugged.

If you’ve never seen a stove plug before, it’s heavy-duty. It took a lot of my strength to pull the thing free.

But I eventually did it, and I told my dad that I had been successful.

He then lectured me once again on how I should be learning a trade instead of being so focused on “higher learning”, (meaning university).

For someone who’s paying my tuition, he certainly bashes “higher education” a lot.

But without university, I wouldn’t be living on my own and therefore would not be learning these useful life skills.

And yes, I consider knowing what a fuse box is and how it works a life skill.

Even if I couldn’t actually find the right breaker, I now know which ones DON’T control the stove, and that has to count for something, doesn’t it?

I fixed it the issue, and that’s good…right, Dad?

“I’m impressed that you even discovered the burner issue”.

(Sigh).

Thanks, Old Man.

 

 

Life Skills: Plumbing Edition

10 Jan

skills

One night, my toilet decided it didn’t want to flush anymore.

 And because I’m now living on my own, this is my problem…not my parents’.

When you live in residence, there are maintenance people that look after things like this. You submit a work order online and they are supposed to come and fix the problem between the hours of 8am and 5pm.

Slight Complication: It was after 9pm when this happened to me, and I didn’t know how soon the next day the maintenance person would come to fix it.

So I called the one handyman I know who’s on the clock 24/7 (my dad) and hoped that he was still awake (because it was almost 9:30 and he’s old).

As it turns out, he was awake (surprise) but his phone was turned off. I called my mom who insisted I explain to her what was wrong (even though she wouldn’t have any idea how to help me) before she would turn the phone over to my dad.

I then had to explain the problem for a second time, and I lost 20 minutes of my life that I would never get back.

But luckily my dad knew how to fix it, and I was able to get the toilet working well enough to flush again.

Unfortunately, I then had to listen to my dad’s lecture (FOR THE BILLIONTH TIME) on how I should not be at university, but rather, learning the art of plumbing. The world needs plumbers, Emily!

And I couldn’t really argue this time, seeing as how basic plumbing skills came in extremely handy…which was annoying.

After this incident, I thought that I was done with plumbing issues.

But then about a month later, I discovered that the pipes underneath my kitchen sink were leaking.

The sad part about this was that it took me a very long time to realize that the problem even existed.

For about a week, I thought that the water on the kitchen floor was from people walking around on it in their snowy, wet boots.

But when I stepped in water for about the fifth time, soaking yet another pair of socks, I made three important observations:

1. The water had collected in a giant puddle.

2. The giant puddle was located on the floor next to the sink.

3. The snow was pretty much melted and the ground was dry, so the floor could not be wet from snowy boots.

Conclusion: Leaky pipes!

(Forget plumbing, I should be a detective!)

Anyways, I didn’t attempt to fix the pipes on my own, so I put in a work order and got it sorted out.

But as it turned out, even that was not the last plumbing issue I had to deal with.

Some time later, I discovered that my shower drain wasn’t working very well.

I’m no genius, but I knew that it was probably time to clean it out.

Now, I’ve never had to do this before…so I had no idea how disgusting it is to fish hair out of a shower drain. And the smell….

Ohhhhh, it was bad.

But I got the job done…and I thanked my dad for never making me do that when I lived at home.

The good thing was, that drain marked the end of my plumbing issues. (So far).

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but I gained some valuable life skills.

#1. I can now take the lid off the tank of a toilet and recognize how the parts work to make it flush. LIFE SKILL.

#2. I can recognize a problem, and fix it myself…maybe even saving me the cost of calling a plumber in the future. LIFE SKILL.

#3. I have experience in unclogging drains. Believe it or not, I am considering this a very important LIFE SKILL.

University seems to be teaching me more things than I thought.

My dad’s response when I told him this: “Not really, I could’ve taught you these things at home for free.”

(Sigh)

Fair enough.

I’m Baaaaaack!

6 Jan

grandma

 

 That’s it.

 It’s all over.

My holidays have ended and I am officially back at school.

The break was too short. It felt good to be able to just relax for a couple weeks.

I needed the downtime after exams.

My break started off a little rocky, though.

I came home to find that someone (probably my dad/brother) had eaten all of the peanut butter balls. I wasn’t impressed.

no

Those first few days, my family was quite happy to have me home again.

They said it was good to have me around.

After about a week though, that changed.

I think my parents have gotten far too used to having the house to themselves most of the time.

How do I know this?

Well, my dad kept saying that he wanted to take me back early.

A week ago he started talking about a big snowstorm that was supposed to hit on Sunday (conveniently on move-in day). He said that he didn’t want to drive in bad weather, so I would have to go back several days early.

He also offered to pack my bags. It felt good to be wanted.

(Coincidentally, the weather was bad, but he didn’t know that a week in advance!)

But then Sunday came, and I had to go back to school.

My dad dropped me off and said goodbye.

It wasn’t emotional or anything; me and my dad aren’t like that. He joked with me, saying that he would fake a tear if I wanted him to before he left, you know, to make me feel “missed”.

That’s funny, Old Man…but we both know who cried in the car the whole way home.

tears

Yes, my parents talk a lot about how they’re glad their kids are moving out of the house…but I know the truth.

Their lives may have been different if they didn’t have kids…they might have lived carefree and wealthy lifestyles with a big house, summer cottage on the beach, no responsibilities or childcare duties, but—wait, where was I going with this?