Annual Identity Crises

Self-LimitationWhen I graduated in grade 8, I really believed that all of my friends back then would be my friends for life. I didn’t factor in some of us moving out of the city, or going to different high schools. And for those of us attending the same high school, I didn’t think about shifting social circles and stronger outlines forming between cliques.

All my life I was considered to be a “nice” and “smart” girl. I really liked that title. Of course sometimes I wanted to be “hot” and “cool” but other individuals already represented those traits way better than I could fake. Part of the expectation of being the “nice” and “smart” girl was being friends with most of my peers and getting straight A’s. I started accepting that was who I am and will always be.

I remember little tidbits of high school, such as doing lots of people pleasing, and being bullied by people of my own race for being a sell-out or white-washed (that is another post within itself). I was actually really stressed out in high school because I liked being who I was, but there were some elements I had that I wanted to trade – I wanted to be more laid back and “fun,” I didn’t want to stress about failing every test even though I studied hard, I didn’t want to be shy. I also really wanted to have a boyfriend because it seemed like such a big experience that I was missing out on. But what was most important to me was being liked by everyone, and being known for my intelligence.

So I graduated. I was even nominated to be Valedictorian! Then it was off to university. And when it’s a decision between York and U of T, you’ve got to maintain that image of having the utmost intelligence, so life convinced me that my fate lied within the more prestigious of the two. Once again I went through a mini-identity crisis. Here I could become anyone I want because -other than the 5 people I went to high school with – no one knew me! But still, at the pit of me, I was that “nice, smart” girl. I stressed about making friends and getting good grades. My grades fell, and my social circle from high school shrunk.

comfort zoneIn my second year of university I decided to challenge myself in different ways to extend the boundaries of my comfort zone. I joined different clubs, applied for different jobs, and was exposed to new people. I loved it, and didn’t stop until I graduated. So as my grades rose and social circle expanded, even though I still returned to being the “nice, smart” girl, I was also skilled in health and wellness, fitness, coordinating a mentorship program, hosting a radio show, being a program director of the school’s radio station, a peer counsellor for study skills, and many other things. I was multi-faceted! I even had an on/off boyfriend, I thought I was whole.

getting-out-of-your-comfort-zoneThen I graduated. And this past year has been the biggest change for me. Starting a new program which is incredibly focused, I’m with the same group of people day in, day out. At this point I don’t know if I want to be the “smart, nice” girl anymore. I don’t want to stress about failing anymore. I want to be involved like I was before but I don’t have the roomy schedule as I did before. I also didn’t want my circle to shrink again. I’ve tried re-connecting with some friends whom I mistakenly thought would be good friends forever, but with those friends, many times it was either me putting all the effort, or plans falling through. For some of us who have reconnected, there’s been an awkward, uncomfortable air around us. I’m the common denominator in all of this, so it must mean something is wrong with me, right?

Not necessarily – yes, I’ve changed, but not in a destructive way. If anything, life is making it clearer for me to feel out the relationships which are more sustainable: previous supervisors are now friends, my ex-boyfriend has become my best friend, and some friendships which tend to be tough have proven to be devoted friendships which will be able to outlast anything the future holds.

I think I’ve finally taken away what I think are supposed to be several lessons of my changing environment and relationships:

1. Do not live your life by a title and place yourself in a mould.

Instead live your life by your core values. You are allowed to change and will continue to change, but don’t stress yourself by hindering your transformation. Embrace this natural process, you’re growing and it’s called life.

2. You will encounter different types of people throughout your life.

Everyone is trying to get somewhere, and sometimes you’re meant to help someone in someway. In some instances, people will be forever grateful and never forget how you’ve helped them, whereas some people will use you and be onto the next step. Don’t expect to always be remembered though, as whenever you have helped someone, you have done a beautiful thing and are changing your life for the better, even if you do not see it immediately.

3. There are different ways that friendships begin – some stem from convenience, others stem from two hearts being in alignment.

I can say this because I’ve become friends with people and developed an immense amount of love for them and genuinely felt it in return with no question of doubt. The cliche way to explain it is being on the same wavelength. However, to balance things out, some friendships will take more effort to maintain, whereas others will seem effortless. But both can be very valuable.

4. In regards to those friendships which require extra effort, put some thought towards the ones which you’d like to continue versus the ones it may be time to end.

I have a few best friends and most of them have stuck with me through arguments and tough experiences and vice versa. We don’t always get along, but we do have a commitment of good intentions towards each other and are constantly learning to agree while being able to respectfully disagree. These are my friends that I’ll keep for the rest of my life even though they require extra patience and effort.

On the other hand, I have some friendships that I felt obligated to keep because we’ve been friends for so long, or because some are family. But when it became too much to handle and I could tell they had ill intentions towards me, it was time to pull some distance between us. That doesn’t mean the door is completely closed, but it will take time to mend and many changes need to be made to renew those friendships.

5. Just because you’re in a different place or headed in different directions, doesn’t put you above anyone. 

Some people get caught up in their achievements and ambitions, and begin to believe that others who do not have the same ambitions or haven’t achieved as much as them are lesser than them. You may be wise in one way, but someone else is wiser in another way because they put their time towards learning something that you didn’t. And just because you are on a different path does not make you “above” or unrelatable. Whether you’re the president of a school group or a young teenager who was trying to find a home in a gang and is now finding a moralistic way to live, at our most basic level we are all human.  It’s important to remain humble. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when you are unable to know when you’ve attracted the wrong company, and end up losing the company who really did care for you.

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Spirituality Panel – Part 1

     Back in November, I attended a Panel entitled Spiritual Answers to Inspire Your Life. I had found out about it because it was hosted by a group on Meetups.comThe Spiritual Books and Films Club. I was very drawn to this group because I was interested in learning more about spirituality after being inspired by a professor I miss being taught by, Dr. Anthony Godfrey. In regards to the hosting site itself, my great friend introduced me to it a few years ago, and since then it has expanded with great groups which explore basically any interest one may have.

    My take on the panel event was that it was intended to provide attendees with spiritual teachers from different realms of practice, to help theattendees understand how to align with the universe, and be more at peace with the direction it flows. Rather than resisting the direction one’s life may take, accept it and realize that there will be a cascade in the future that isn’t visible now, but things will fall into place. Another take I gathered was that the panel was organized help us learn how to “ask” the universe for things we are interested in, through positive thoughts, affirmations, and actions. A component of that is being patient when what one asks for doesn’t manifest exactly when they want it, or in the form they expect it to be. I’m still wrapping my headaround these approaches to life, but it resonates with me, and my curiosity was what drove my interest in attending.

     The panelists were fantastic as they each brought with them a different history of experiences which led them to the path that they are currently on, and I felt united being in that room with them and others. Although I felt like a novice in the room, I didn’t feel judged, and even felt comfortable speaking to the panelists afterwards to hear more about why they wanted to speak to us and be guides on this never-ending learning path.

     Marlene George has been a a holistic healer since 1987 and is certified in Therapeutic Touch ™, Craniosacral Therapy, and is a Reiki Master. For over 10 years, Donald Currie has worked as an NGH Certified Master Hypnotist, NLP and Metaphysical Practitioner, Reiki Master, Life Between Lives and Past Life Regression facilitator. He also creates music for healing, hypnosis, and meditation! Annette Nolan also works with multiple modalities, and is certified as a Journey Practitioner and Visionary Leadership Coach for “The Journey.” Interestingly, she also owns a wellness centre -“It’s All About You” – in King City, Ontario, Canada. Brandon Krieger is a Toronto Social media Marketing Consultant, Business Coach, and Holistic Lifestyle Coach, and operates through “Community Growth” to help businesses flourish through product/service education, and social networking.

     I learned several valuable things from Annette, Brandon, Donald, and Marlene, which was also faciliated through the great questions that other attendees asked. For example, I learned about the importance of setting intentions prior to everything I do, as opposed to just chasing the day aimlessly, and having it slip through my fingers without truly thinking about the experience of each moment, along with being mindful about what is taking place around me. Pondering this thought, I had tried to begin a daily meditation practice this semester, but have since fallen off. However, I will just need to try again until doing so becomes habitual.

Source: https://fitisafeministissue.wordpress.com/category/meditation/

     Regarding meditation and mindfulness, Donald made a statement which took away some of the frustration I feel towards the difficulty I have when trying to cultivate new habits – in particular, meditation. When I was first introduced to meditation, I would think of really peaceful people sitting crosslegged -palms supine with thumb and middle fingers touching, as the back of their hands rested on their knees – as they hum “om” in unison for hours and hours. How would I ever get to the point where I could silence my mind for 30 minutes when I have trouble trying for even 5? Yet, Donald made a great point that being mindful for a portion of the day will translate to more of your day the more you practice. That even means something as simple as listening to a song – really listening to it: absorbing every component, each melody, every vocalist, each beat. I’ve tried to incorporate this into my life starting with breakfast. Instead of watching a show on Netflix, I look out the window as I eat my breakfast, or talk to my dorm mates if they’re around.

     Another concept that hit home for me was when one of the panelists mentioned that you are responsible for how you’re treated. This struck a personal cord for me because I’m also reading “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s  Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle, and his writing so far has sparked to me the idea that deep down I seek validation to soothe my ego. This is likely why I would compare myself to others so much in university, until my last 2 years when I started to feel true self value. However, much of that self value was obtained through academic and extra-curricular accomplishments, along with being able to feel that I was unique (through being natural). Those are some parts of myself that I would like to explore further, but it was interesting to see that what the panelists were saying aligned with what I’ve been reading, and have motivated more self-discovery.

    There were other things brought up that I would like to explore more. For example, as Donald is a hypnotist, he talked about life between lives hypnotherapy, past life regression, and soul groups. If I remember correctly, life between lives is a way to access our experiences of where our souls travelled between our experiences on Earth. Of course, one would have to believe that we don’t die and disappear, but actually reincarnate in different forms, whether it is to learn something new from our surroundings, or teach others. In past life regression, during hypnosis one would actually gain access to those past travels and the lessons learned from them. As for soul groups, this would explain why you have a certain connection with people when you meet them, as though you’ve known them for a long time. With soul groups, these people that you share these connections with are people you’ve interacted with lifetimes ago. These concepts are all very new to me, so I apologize if I’m not giving them much justice right now. However, I find them intriguing, and hope to try a hypnotist session sometime this year and shed more light on the experience.

     In all, I am so happy I attended this panel! There is much more that I’ve learned and hope to share in future posts.I’d also like to thank the host of the Spiritual Books & Films Club Steve Flemming. Steve is the founder of many other clubs, and although I haven’t gotten the chance to attend many more events (because my classes end much later this semester), I’m very grateful for his excellent planning skills and passion to bring people together in a social environment that is also conducive to exploration and learning!

So Inspired!

It is certainly crunch time right now, but last Thursday there was an event I was so drawn to that I left the books that evening and attended that instead.

During these past few months I’ve had two instructors who have been incredibly influential in my mindset towards this program: my History and Philosophy professor – Dr.Anthony Godfrey, and my Health Psychology TA – Dr.Jodi Larry

In particular, the few lectures I’ve been privileged to have by Dr. Godfrey has opened my eyes towards higher consciousness and one’s spirituality. Also, being a student in Dr. Larry’s Psychology practical, she has shared many skills that she has learned through her personal experiences, of which I probably would not learn until much later in the game by encountering similar experiences myself. Another valuable thing I’ve learned from both of them is shifting my outlook on things – there’s so much beneath the surface, and if we approach people from a judgmental stance, we’re not going to see anything below the tip of the iceberg.

A personal endeavour I’ve taken on is to learn more about spirituality and how to become more aware of my own because I’ve seen that when people are connected with themselves and the Universe, their outlook, mindset, and perceptions of stressors are completely different from those who are less spiritually aware. Life aligns for them. A way I’ve chosen to fulfill that endeavour is to join a group with other spiritually-minded individuals, which will expose me to this realm by seeing what other people have learned, and are learning. So, last week, the group held a panel about Spirituality and Life, which felt like the perfect starting point for me.

I have so much I want to say about the panel itself, but overall, I’ve been noticing origins in shifting the way I think. Overall, I’ve been thinking more along the lines of us being here to help one another, rather than approaching life in a cut-throat, me-me-me manner that was quite adaptive for go-getters in undergrad. I’m also starting to look at the problematic relationships in my life – relationships that I do not want to end. Rather than looking at it strictly from an angle directed at me where I feel victimized and as though I’m not being treated fairly, I’m starting to think about the other person – what might be their reasons for how they’re treating me, and they may not even be aware that they’re projecting things onto me when I’m not actually the problem. At times, the way I’m treated can’t nor should be justified, but it also reminds me that I need to grow a thicker skin, learn to develop/strengthen my spiritual boundaries, and continue to be aware that the situation is not always about me.

I’m so incredibly pleased that I attended the panel, as there is quite a lot that I am starting to think about. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be selfish – I’m going to share later for sure 😉 However, part of the responsibility of being a student in gaining access to so much great information is being trusted to learn it. Although I’m growing personally, I need to catch up on my school work so I have the textbook knowledge to help me do my job correctly and effectively! I am behind, but the thoughts and ideas revealed to me in the panel helped me to realize that this experience is a lesson within itself, and I can do it! So, I’m going to use my remaining time in a wise manner, and get back to studying!

To those of you out there studying for finals and completing those last remaining assignments, all the best to you! Truck on through, you’ll feel awesome once you’re done!

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