Tag Archives: Life

The Little Things…

12 Feb

You hear it all the time:

Learn to appreciate the little things in life.

It’s over-used, corny, and a little sad-sounding.

But nonetheless, it is what I would classify as a “saying”, meaning that people actually “say it”.

How do I know this?

Well, I heard my TA say it in my psychology class the other day…

…and it got me thinking. (I know, dangerous, right?)

When I was younger and not quite as wise, (i.e. when I was in high school), the “little things” that I appreciated were different than what they are now.

That’s mostly because I didn’t have to do a lot for myself in those days.

My parents looked after a lot of things that I needed done. But now that I’m on my own, I have to worry about things like grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and getting places on my own and on time, without any assistance.

It changes the things that you appreciate.

Here’s what I enjoy:

1) Waking up to sunshine and hot chocolate on weekend mornings.

2) When the dining hall has the chocolate peanut butter ice cream I like.

3) When I have time to watch a movie and eat the aforementioned ice cream.

4) When there’s no dirty laundry in my laundry pile.

5) When my floors go more than a day without needing mopped.

6) When I’m actually caught up with all the homework I have to do. (This hasn’t actually happened yet, but I’m dreaming of the day that it does)

7) Reading week. (Admittedly, 7 days don’t really make up a “little moment”, but it’s still worth mentioning).

So, in conclusion, I’m getting old.

How do I know?

Well, as I was compiling my list I realized that my parents’ lists would probably have similar points because:

1) They enjoy waking up and sitting out in the sun and drinking coffee on weekend mornings.

2) I’m sure that they too would enjoy a day in which there are no chores to be done.

3) They are nearing retirement age, so they are probably looking forward to the pleasure of not having any work to do.

Huh.

I guess it won’t be long before my favourite little moment is bingo night at the nursing home.

bingo

Do you have a favourite little moment? Leave a comment!

What are you doing with your life?

25 Jan

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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

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)

What More Can I Say?

6 Jan

I encountered a small problem over the holidays.

 I saw a lot of my relatives, and everybody seems to want to ask the one question that I don’t know how to answer in more than one word.

Here it is:

“How’s school going?”

Simple enough question.

Clearly meant to be a conversation starter.

Understandable, too, since the first thing that my family will think of when they see me is that I went off to university a few months ago.

Here’s my answer:

“Good.”

*smile & nod*

A simple answer to a simple question.

But…

What comes next?

In my experience, next comes an awkward moment of silence in which you think to yourself: “What now?”

HOW DO YOU FOLLOW THAT UP?

It’s such a broad and open-ended question.

It also usually ends a conversation, rather than starting it.

So why does it happen so often?

It really makes me wonder.

thinking

The first time that I encountered this problem was back in October when I went home for my high school graduation.

I saw all of my friends, their parents, and my teachers….and every one of them asked me that same question.

I saw one of my favourite teachers and started talking to him.

The first thing he asked me was how school was going. I said good.

We stared awkwardly at each other for a moment not saying anything.

I just know he was wondering how one of his best students became such a great conversationalist.

Then, my best friend and I started talking to the mom of another one of our friends and she asked us: “How’s school going?”

We said good, and that awkward silence ensued.

My friend then started smiling and said, “What do you say after that!?” and we all had a good laugh.

Sure, an awkward situation was avoided, but the supposed conversation starter still failed.

Then I get home for the holidays and I see my uncle.

He asks: “How’s school going?”

I say: “Good.”

He looks at me and says: “That’s all I get?”

madbro

Well, yes…because apparently even though I go to the University of Toronto, get good grades, and am fairly intelligent, I still don’t know how to move on from that.

And it wasn’t just my uncle, either.

I got asked that question by a lot of my relatives.

My parents ask me every time I talk to them.

And I’d just like to point one thing out.

I learned over the holidays (to my utter shock) that they all read my blogs.

So I have a question for you, family:

If you read my blogs (about my first year experiences), why do you need to ask me how school’s going?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a Mess!

19 Dec

You can certainly tell that it’s exam time around here.

 My house is a mess because all of my available energy is being put towards studying.

Chores are being sorely neglected.

Beds are going unmade…

Laundry is going undone…

Dirty dishes are resting in the sink just hoping…praying…waiting for the day that they will finally be washed and put away!

But judging by the state that my room is in, they’re probably going to be waiting for a while.

Seriously, my room gets priority. It looks like a warzone.

Exhibit A: The Floor.

pic1

You can’t even walk around because there’s so much stuff thrown everywhere.

Why, you ask?

Well, I’ll be lying in bed, reading my notes, when I’ll get fed up and decide to go to sleep. What happens to my notes? They get dropped on the floor.

I’ll take off my socks and after realizing that my laundry basket is full, they’ll end up on the floor.

My shoes, my gym bag, my slippers…on the floor.

When I trip and fall over all the stuff that’s around…where do I end up? On the floor.

But I know what you’re probably wondering:

“Emily, if that’s what your floor looks like, what does your desk look like?”

Exhibit B: The Desk.

pic2

What? A desk is supposed to be used for studying, you say?

Huh. Well, mine is where I keep snacks, clothes, and small bits of garbage.

And now to put it all in perspective…

 Exhibit C: The Big Picture.

pic3

 It reminds me of one of those “I Spy” books. You never know what might be hiding in there.

Man, it’s a good thing I’m not living with my parents cause this mess would not go over too well with them.

But I’m happy to report that I got through 3 of my 4 exams, so I did some cleaning the other day.

Here are all the food/drink items that I collected from my desk and floor:

pic4

You can tell that I’ve been holed up in my room for a while.

But, they’ve since all been cleared away…and check it out:

pic5

My desk is finally being used in the way that it was always supposed to be!

And finally, here’s the floor:

pic6

Shoes are lined up neatly, bed is made, there’s a clear path so I can walk without tripping over random stuff…

Oh yeah. That’s better.

Now if only I could find a way to make my room STAY this clean for longer than a day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving It ’Til the Last Minute

19 Dec

                                   

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Assignment: Term paper. Worth 25% of my final grade.

Deadline: Thursday at noon. No later, or marks will be deducted.

Current date & time: Wednesday night, 11 p.m.

Assignment Progress: Not a whole heck of a lot.

*Side Note: Yes, I know they say that procrastination is bad.

When people say that, I think: “Well maybe that’s true for SOME people, but I work well under pressure.”

Reality Check: I might work well under pressure, but I don’t work well on very little sleep.

But it doesn’t matter, gotta keep writing.

(One hour later)

My Thoughts: “Only midnight? The night is young…I’ve got tons of time!”

(One hour later)

My thoughts: “Wow, it is way past my bedtime…”

(One hour later)

My Thoughts: N/A. My brain had retired for the night.

My Plan: Go to bed, set my alarm for 5 a.m., get up, and get this essay done.

*Side Note: It was more of a nap then a good night’s sleep.

But, you do what you gotta do, right?

Who says quality essay writing can’t happen on just 3 hours of sleep?

 (Fast-forward to 9:30 a.m.)

Essay Status: Nearly completed.

Need for Nap: High.

Level of Enthusiasm for Attending a 10 o’clock Lecture: Low. But I did it anyway.

My Thoughts During that Lecture: “I only have an hour to get this paper done and submitted after this class….is that enough time? It’s gonna have to be…the clock’s ticking…”

(Fast-Forward to 11:45 a.m.)

Progress: DONE.

Quality: Meh, it’ll do, folks. It’ll do.

Final Steps: Open up a browser and upload the essay online.

Complication: Browser would not load.

Level of Panic: High. Close to nervous breakdown.

Solution: I’m no IT specialist. So…turn the laptop off and back on again?

(A few minutes later…)

YES! It worked!

Level of Panic: Low.

Current Time: HOLY COW! IT’S 11:56!

Speed with which I Submitted my Essay Online: Lightning.

Time of Submission: 11:58 a.m.

*Side Note: I’m not a procrastinator. I did not technically leave it until the VERY last minute.

Final Steps: Print out a copy to hand in to my TA.

(5 minutes later)

Progress: Printed out and ready to go!

Hey…wait a second…oh, you’ve got to be kidding me…

REALLY!?! A TYPO IN THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE!?!

DO I HAVE TIME TO RESUBMIT BEFORE THE DEADLINE!?!

Current Time: 12:02 p.m.

(Sigh)

Thoughts: I give up. I’m taking a nap.

University Here I Come: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

10 Sep

Well, it’s official. I, a girl who has spent her entire life sheltered in a small town, is about to leave the safe, protective care of her parents for the thriving, bustling world of the University of Toronto Mississauga. Or, for all you fans of tired, overused clichés out there, this fish is leaving her small bowl behind and heading for the vast, undiscovered depths of the ocean.

Now, it may be trite, but this fish metaphor is actually quite relevant once you think about it. That fish, like myself, is probably imagining its trip to the ocean going one of two ways. Firstly, it could meet lots of other fish and end up going on exciting adventures that it would never have had the chance to experience within the confines of its tiny fishbowl. It might be extremely grateful to finally get its chance to be free and independent. As a result, that fish could flourish and grow in its new habitat and never look back. Or, in an alternate and very different scenario, it could be eaten by a shark.

Although I realize that I probably won’t be eaten by anything at UTM, like that fish, I do have my fears. Like every other first year student moving away from home for the very first time, I’m nervous about how I’m going to adapt to a new environment. But a small comfort at least, is that I am not the only one that has these kinds of doubts. We all play the “What If?” game. What if I can’t find my classes? What if I don’t get along with my roommates? What if my dad is right and the only professionals that the world actually needs are plumbers? We also get really good at visualizing worst-case scenarios. There are times when I swear that I can practically see the look on my parents’ faces when I have to tell them that I flunked out my first year. Or, I picture myself lost and alone somewhere on the mean streets of Toronto after taking the wrong bus. And lastly, one of my personal favourites, I see myself becoming wracked with so much homesickness that I spend the duration of first year curled up in the fetal position in my dorm room quietly sobbing into a pillow.

However, when these fantasies subside and I become slightly less dramatic, I stop worrying about these more understandable fears like homesickness and getting lost, and I start obsessing over the more trivial, and well, just plain ridiculous ones. These inane sources of my anxiety include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

1. A lack of closet space.

2. Ruining my clothes during something that I’m told is called “laundry”(No, I’ve never done it before in my life).

3. Being kicked out for wearing a University of Waterloo sweatshirt that my brother gave to me for Christmas last year. And lastly;

4. Note-Taking: Laptop, or pen and paper? Which one? WHICH ONE? (It’s truly astounding how much time I’ve spent thinking about this, but truth be told, I’m just glad I was able to move on from the highly contentious Pens vs. Pencils debate).

I am smart enough to realize that my obsessions with these ridiculous fears are just a result of nerves. But as much time as I spend thinking about what could go wrong during my first year of university, I spend just as much time thinking optimistically (and hopefully realistically) about life at UTM. I realize that I have already been provided with solutions to some of my imagined problems. First of all, I am part of a community that includes distinguished professors, other professionals that specialize in career advice and academic assistance, and my fellow students who all want to succeed as much as I do. With these kinds of people surrounding me, I find it hard to imagine myself failing. Secondly, in a campus filled with thousands of students, the odds seem to be in my favour for finding at least a couple of friends. I also have access to Wi-Fi everywhere on campus to be able to email my parents back home to stave off some of those gnawing feelings of homesickness (or if I need money, of course). As far as getting lost, well, maybe by providing me with a Mississauga Transit bus pass is just UTM’s way of telling me that the best way to explore a city is to get lost in it.

Ironically, what I’m most afraid of is that I will give into my fears and I will not have a positive university experience. But, logically, I know that having fears are normal, and I will not allow mine to ruin the next four years I spend at UTM. I won’t be too afraid to talk to people that I don’t know, or to join a club or sports team. I won’t be too afraid to ask questions, or to take advantage of the resources and facilities available on campus. If I do, I know that I will regret it.

As a mature student worthy of admission to a prime institution such as the University of Toronto, I must be practical and intelligent enough to realize that I will survive my transition to university life, and that my fears will be allayed probably within the first few days that I spend on campus. Millions of students before me have succeeded in making the transition and have gone on to graduate and do great things. Among them is a man that I happen to admire very much: Tim Long, a writer for the television show The Simpsons. Why do I admire him? Well, he has helped to create not only one of the most memorable television characters of all time, but also one of my heroes: Mr. Homer J. Simpson, the one person that I can trust in this world to give me sound, well-thought-out advice. May his inspiring words comfort you as much as they have comforted me: “The only danger is if they send us to that terrible planet of the apes.” Truer words have never been spoken.