Do you remember at the beginning of Beyoncé’s song Pretty Hurts, where she’s at a beauty pageant, and she says, “My aspiration is life is…to be happy.”? Beyoncé is right, my aspiration in life is to be happy. I think at everyone’s core that is all we ever want. But I want to talk about the thing that won’t make you happy. It’s one of (in my opinion) the most damaging dating myths:
“Being in a relationship is going to make you happy.”
NOW. Before all the happy couples mount my head on a spike (I’m rewatching Game of Thrones), please reread the sentence carefully. I’m not saying that you cannot be simultaneously happy and, in a relationship, nor am I saying that relationships can’t enrich your life. However, relationships, boyfriends, girlfriends, significant others, partners are not going to make you happy. This idea that a relationship is the missing part of your life is a lie. The great and terrible lie we tell ourselves to ward off the demons at night. The sky is not magenta, babies don’t come from storks, and being in a relationship will not make you happy.
Why not? First, we have to think about why you want the relationship.
You know that feeling when you have nothing to do (#quarantine) so you open the fridge and get a snack and while you’re eating it feels really good and you’re pretty content with the way things are going, so you go along your merry way. But then thirty minutes, forty-five minutes, maybe an hour passes, and you’re bored again. So, you duck back into the fridge to get another snack because at least eating is something to do. You’re not hungry, you’re bored.
We’re going to call this the “Fridge Predicament”. And the Fridge Predicament is attempting to solve a problem with an unrelated solution. And the same thing occurs on a larger scale with relationships. That feeling when life is just lackluster and over a glass of wine while watching Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling canoeing in the rain, you say “I want a boyfriend”. Here’s the thing, you don’t want a boyfriend. You want change. You want change because you don’t know what to do with your degree, because you’re unhappy with the size of your booty, because you’re overwhelmed with the time commitment from your job. The problems you’re experiencing are unrelated to a lack of romanticism in your day-to-day life. You’re living into the Fridge Predicament.
Now, we’re going to take a little detour, because there is something I want to say. My dear friends, if you are seeking out companionship because it makes you happy, that is completely separate and not at all what we’re talking about. If you seek out casual hookups, one-night stands or any sexual interaction of any capacity because you’re a bad bitch who wants what she wants then YOU DO YOU. Never let anyone ever tell you that the way you live your sex-life is wrong. We’re just talking about seeking relationships in place of solving problems. I digress.
The Fridge Predicament is not easy to escape, it’s so common place you may not even be aware that you’re doing it. Let’s use me as an example (because it’s my blog, duh). Two years ago, I was in a real shithole. Life had beaten me down and I was near ready to give up. I hated my program, I had no friends at UBC, I was fresh out of a relationship that ended on less than amicable terms and I was just a hot mess all around. So, I met this boy who asked me out and we went on like two or three dates, but they were the epitome of a non-starter. Just no chemistry, no spark, no NOTHING. However, that glimpse of attention, that light in the distance that was shaped sort of like a relationship became a beacon of hope because I had this deluded dream that “happy people are in relationships”. So I spent months trying to find boys that I could shove into my life to make me feel like I was happy and just blatantly ignoring all the shit parts of my life, which was practically everything else.
And in writing this piece my younger sister got a little frustrated with me. “How could you tell people that relationships won’t make you happy, when your old relationships have made you happy?” And part of her is right. Being in the right relationship with the right person makes you feel alive. But if, and only if, you are happy with the life you currently live.
A romantic relationship is commitment and work and time and energy. And yeah sure, in the beginning it’s rainbows and unicorns and you actually think that your significant others can part water like Jesus did, but that all wears off. All that shine of a new relationship will dull and you are simply left with your same life plus an extra person, so you better be happy with the life you have before you start things up. A relationship will add to your life but not change the reality you’re currently living in. You need to have a life you’re proud of and are excited to live, and then find the relationship. And this doesn’t mean be in a stable job with all your ducks in a row, but have goals and plans and ideas and live a life that inspires you and drives you forward.
No, it’s not wrong to want a relationship. Human beings in all their wisdom are designed to do three things. Eat, survive, reproduce. And that last one usually requires a second person. Just make sure that you’re seeking out a relationship for the right reasons and not just sliding into the Fridge Predicament. So, next time you’re whining and moaning about being lonely and wanting a relationship, ask yourself one question: How would a relationship change my life?
Because if your answer is “It means I could start a family”, “I have created this super amazing life that I want to share with someone”, “Probably not at all, but I’m in love with _______” THEN GO GET IT. Go find that man, woman, unidentified consenting adult human that lights your world on fire and LOCK THEM DOWN. But if you’re trying to eat your way out of boredom, when the fridge is empty and you’re stomach is full of leftover Chinese food, ice cream and potentially expired yogurt, you’re still going to be bored.
From me, with love, to you,
So as many of you know I’ve moved back to Toronto. What you may (or may not) know is that I’ve returned to living in my parents’ house. And there are lots of pros to living with my parents. First of all, constant entertainment; my parents are fucking hilarious. Second, the food is amazing, and the booze is even better. Third, free rent. So yes, those are three among the many reasons that I really enjoy living with my parents. However, there is one thing I am less excited for.
Although we’re all currently locked in our houses, there will come a time when the world opens back up. At which point, my single self will want to rejoin the world of other singles and find myself a man (men? I’m in no rush to settle downs fear of having a spinster for a daughter). But dating at home can be a buzzkill.
Now, my parents aren’t super religious or anything. They’re not asking me to save myself for marriage or reject men until a suitor comes along that can buy me for 10 cows and a bag of gold coins. They’re realistic that I will date people and…hang out with people who are not “the one” (I mean if you ask me “the one” is a bit of a hoax, but that’s for another time). And my parents know about my less than virtuous past, (my mom found when I got a UTI and my dad discovered the birth control boxes I had stashed in my room, which led to a particularly uncomfortable dinner conversation) so we’re all on the same page.
However, we don’t really exchange information regarding casual dating. My parents know when there is someone significant to know about, someone they should expect to see around, someone who will be taking time in my life. They DO NOT need to know about short term flings that I use to keep life interesting. In fact, my parents and I talk about everything under the sun except sex. I mean, we talk about talking about sex. And sex in its periphery comes up, like a couple nights ago when we discussed pros and cons to making prostitution legal, but that debate was primarily political.
But my parents and I don’t talk about sex or dates or casual dating. Not in the books. Telling your parents makes it seem like this big deal when the point of casual dating is to be “breezy”. Involving parents is not breezy. Plus, the idea of my mom and dad witnessing my hot mess of a romantic life makes me want to vomit. There is a threshold of appropriate parental interaction in casual dating and I will give you an example:
Appropriate: A boy picks me up from home and while I am leaving my house my mom is also leaving the house at coincidentally the same time. They share a BRIEF “Hello” and the world continues to turn.
There are so many inappropriate examples of parental interaction. And when I lived in my own apartment in my own city the chance of inappropriateness occurring was 0%. But living at home makes dating feel like walking through a field of land mines. I’m not bringing home a boy after the bar just so my mom could come into my room at 2am to see if I stole her melatonin when she can’t sleep. I’m not letting this boy walk out in the morning so they can meet over morning coffee and the paper. Nope. Not in the cards.
Plus, my parents are home all the fucking time. My mom works from home and my dad is retired. So, I can’t “wait for a free base” because the base is never free. Nobody ever leaves. It is constantly filled with my genetics. My parents are running around, watching movies, having dinner, drinking wine on the back patio, all of which is stopping me from casually dating. I’m not emotionally prepared to settle down right now! I haven’t collected enough stories to write songs about yet.
And yes, I could go to his place. But first and foremost, ladies, Lord knows what I’m going to run into when I get to this boy’s place. I have seen boy-apartments that resemble the state of frat houses. And there is a reason that I spent four years in a sorority and 0 nights at a frat house. Moreover, then I have to do the walk of shame home in the morning. To who? MY PARENTS. And that is not a conversation I want to have.
I don’t want to have any of these conversations with my parents. I don’t want to talk about ghosting and rosters and dating apps with them. I want to keep that part of my life entirely separate from my family, screw drawing a line in the sand, I want to carve a line in the cement.
So, to my friends who live at home. I am reaching out for advice. Because moving out right now is not financially feasible and I’m not returning to celibacy. I need options. How do you date while living at home? How do you meet people and… get frisky? HOW DO YOU BE SNEAKY? Because although it feels like the world has stopped turning, I need a plan for when it starts up again.
From me, with love, to you,
I just finished my degree – no matter how unconventional the ending – and I can’t help but admit that I learned a lot in university. I would be an idiot to say I learned nothing in class. I learned lots in class, not necessarily anything I will remember or anything I will use, but that’s on me for picking a degree that has little to no real-world applicability.
However, over the last four years I’ve learned a lot of things that were definitely not taught by my professors. And we’ve talked about some of my favourite life lessons:
But those aren’t necessarily school related. You also learn all those skills you use to fluff up your resume: time-management, teamwork, collaboration and other buzzwords you say in interviews like “synergy”. And I understand that my experience at UBC is different from someone who goes to McGill or UofT or Queen’s. It’s even different from anyone else who goes to UBC (we’re not even going to get into the differences between Canadian and American schools. That’s just a can of worms I don’t have the brain capacity to open right now). But there are definitely some threads that get sewn into everyone’s experiences. So, in hope of spreading wisdom I am going to tell you every I learned about school. Not everything I learned in school, I’m not willing to start using APA citations on my blog, but everything I learned about school.
1) Make friends with 1 prof
At one point in your life you will need a reference letter, so pick one professor and try to be friends with them. Send them emails, show up to office hours, ask a question in class every now and then. Don’t be a brown nose because then everyone in your class will daydream about you drowning in an accident so you don’t derail the discussion every time you raise your hand. But pick one professor and show some interest. It works best in a class you are a) doing well in and b) have some genuine interest in the course material. Then when you want to apply to grad school or a job or a lab, you will have someone to hit up when you need a reference.
2) You can go to class drunk
I do not recommend it. But if you had a raging night on let’s say…. Wednesday, and you wake up still full of tequila and bad decisions, you are still able to attend class. Your notes will probably not make sense and halfway through, your hangover will start to set in like somebody hit you in the back of the head with a lead pipe, but you can do it if push comes to shove.
3) Take Tums (or another antacid) before you start drinking
Basic chemistry for my readers who a little scientifically inept: acid + base = neutral. Alcohol is an acid, Tums are a base, they neutralise the acid in your stomach and you don’t feel quite as much like garbage the next morning and you can actually get things done. (I don’t know if this is necessarily school-related, but it seems applicable in this context)
4) Take a language course
Looks good on a resume. Always a useful skill.
5) Write every assignment down
Seems obvious, but it is so worth the 15 minutes it takes. After you get all your syllabuses (syllabi?) at the beginning of the term open them up and get a piece of paper. Write down every assignment, test, quiz, and midterm you have in chronological order. Stick it up on your wall, somewhere hard to miss, and as things get moving in the term start crossing them off. So many of my friends have mixed up days for midterms, forgotten assignments until the night before or missed quizzes altogether. This method has kept my head on straight for the last 4 years, so 10/10 would recommend.
Most of your profs are nice people (some are not nice people who will make you want to light their office on fire and use your broken dreams and scantron cards as kindling). Your profs are people with kids, with families, with their own life problems, who understand university is a hellhole and none of us know what we’re doing. So, just ask. If you need an extension, just ask for it. If you need extra help, ask for it. Don’t know your rights from your lefts? Just shoot them an email. You all know the state of my mental health. Sometimes, things come up, so I always email my professors and let them know and 9 times out of 10 there is a solution to the problem. Things can get moved, grades can get reweighted, even small quizzes or participation marks can occasionally get brushed under the rug. Don’t abuse their kindness but pick your moments and just ask. Takes 10 minutes to write a nice email, but it can take hours out of you to stress about something.
7) Pick your courses out carefully
Don’t be the idiot who hits fourth year and is missing a required course from 2nd year. In addition to the 1 professor, make friends with at least 1 academic advisor.
8) It is okay to not know things
This could be an entire post in and of itself. But I learn and relearn and relearn this everyday. When I graduated high school, I thought I had things figured out. I worked hard, got good grades and I saw myself as smart. But then I hit university; I learned new things everyday, I made bad decisions more than I did good ones, and I felt stupid all the time. It felt like this part of my identity – “being smart” – was stripped from me and it was unsettling. However, it wasn’t that I was no longer smart, it was that I no longer knew things. I just needed to be smart enough to figure them out. I spent four years not knowing things and figuring them out and that’s okay. It’s okay not to know the answer to a question, which room your class is in, what to do with your degree or if you’re even taking the right degree. It’s okay to feel dumb, as long as you realise that you’re not.
So, those are my lessons. My words of wisdom to pass on to you and for you to pass on to others. It’s not everything, but definitely a start. Maybe I’ll write some more or maybe you’ll have to learn them for yourself. That’s what university is all about. Learning to make mistakes and I’m not going to rob you from all of that.
From me, with love, to you,
I went to the beach the other day. My sister and I lay a blanket out on the sand while we talked and read books. We let the sun burn off all our stress as we dug our toes into the sand. Apart from the occasional comment, it was unusually quiet for the two of us, who are generally loud enough to annoy the people around us, even with social distancing in place. I, being unprepared for how warm the day was going to be, wore all black and roasted in the heat.
I took a break from reading and strolled the 20 feet or so to the waters edge and walked until the tide pulled at my ankles. Usually the water is cold and sharp, but it wasn’t. It was soft, like when you flip over your pillow and press your face against the cool. The water came in and wrapped itself around my feet and then went back out to sea, back and forth, back and forth. And I stood in the water and thought.
I thought about one of my first nights alone in Vancouver when I went to the beach with a bunch of strangers and put my feet in the water. The view was different, but the water was the same. I remember making idle flirtatious remarks to boys I had met and thinking about my boyfriend back at home. How much I wanted him to be there with me. We sat on the beach as nude elderly men took their last couple strolls before fall came, yielding the nude beach useless. Four years felt like such a long time back then. The idea of making it to the end of the four years not only seemed improbable but impossible. The future beyond those four years felt like fiction.
I thought about the nights I spent crying. And the mornings and the afternoons and evenings filled with tears. Teardrops and raindrops until everything was soaked. And the grey fog billowed into my life and no matter how much I tried to air everything out, my entire life was shrouded in grey fog. I remembered the panic and the isolation and fights on the phone with my parents, with my sisters, with my boyfriend. I remember the moment I realised that this relationship I had cherished and loved was not what I wanted and soon it was going to end. I remember feeling lonely.
I thought about the nights I spent drinking. The bad ones that ended in tears and boys saying mean things. The ones that I wish I could take back. The times I embarrassed myself to the point that my stomach turns if I think about them. The ones where my mouth was faster than my brain and I said things before I realised I was saying them. I also thought of the good ones, the girls’ nights on the floor of my apartment. The parties at frat houses until 3 in the morning, the nights at bars filled with boys we didn’t know but would come to know. The nights that turned into stories. The nights that lived on in glorious infamy. The nights that were filled with the best worst decisions and the worst best decisions. Dancing at the Yale until we couldn’t stand and drinking at the Roxy with the greatest people.
About the studying. The long nights at the Life building and hours spent at Olive and Ruby. Mind maps, practise exams, and notes written out until my hands were calloused. The concepts I didn’t understand, the concepts I will never understand. All the exams I beat and all the exams that beat me. Going from over stressed, to under stressed to possibly the perfect amount of stressed in four years. Yelling about TAs and professors that made me want to pull my hair out. Confiding in TAs and professors when I didn’t know what else to do. The hours spent course selecting, degree mapping and trying to find electives. Papers and labs and midterms and lectures. The time in lectures spent online shopping or posting Instagram stories. The classes I missed. The classes that my friends helped me catch up in. The dissections of invertebrates and brains and the fucking Morris Water Maze. Counting the ages of hockey players and trying, for the love of all that is good, to figure out the 7 long term causes of chronic stress.
I thought about my sorority. Crying in the chapter room the day I after I ended my relationship. The surprise party at my sister’s house. Watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race after Songfest practice. Deep chats in fraternity bathrooms. The times I pulled my hair out about holding a position and the times I cried when I didn’t get one. Senior meetings planning events that would never happen, losing everything so swiftly at the last minute. Running in on Bid Day and seeing my big sister. Taco dates with my big and veggie dinners with my little.
I thought about boys. The breakup. The recovery. The worst first dates ever filled with of out-of-line questions and long awkward pauses. The ones I picked up at bars and led to the worst surprises. The Hinge-boys, the Bumble-boys, the Tinder-boys, the frat boys. Kisses in my living room that turned into nothing, and kisses in my living room that turned into the shit things. Getting ghosted and shot down. Shooting people down. Chickening out right at the play and looking back and wishing I had the guts to follow through. The friends I kissed and definitely shouldn’t have. The friends I didn’t kiss and should have.
I thought about my friends. My beautiful, wonderful friends. The loud sex talks in public that make people turn their heads. The time the soup appeared and then disappeared without any of us noticing. The night of the wedding crashers. All the times they were there when I cried in my apartment and realized I didn’t have to do it alone. Walks through the park and along the sea wall. The Halloween party we weren’t 100% sure we were invited to. Shopping and watching movies and curry at the Delly. Screenshots of so many conversations from so many people. Drinking at 3pm on Winter Classic. And. So. Many. Group. Chats.
About my sister. Mini eggs and wine and Whole Foods gummies. Walks along the beach, study dates, dinners. Semis and formals and pre parties. The times she saved my butt and all the times I called her when I had too much to drink and the time I definitely had alcohol poisoning. Hockey games we didn’t understand. Birthday cakes and birthday dinners and bottles of champagne. Cuddles and hugs and so much gratitude for having her in my life.
About all the times I spent alone. And not a bad alone. But a good alone. Aritzia Warehouse Sales. Walks on campus, reading in the sun. Trips to different bakeries and meal prep Fridays. Dance parties in my apartment and standing in the rain just because. Learning and growing and changing and being better than I was.
So, I stood on the beach and I looked at the mountains and the cloudless sky. And I thought “thank you”. Thank you to every person I have met in this city for changing my life so immensely. For the people I will talk to everyday from here on out and for the people I don’t really ever want to talk to again. You have all had an impact on my life and got me to today. Because although those four years felt so endless, they’re ending and I’m returning to Toronto. Permanently? I don’t know. But at least for now.
I watched the ships stay stationed in the water and I thought about how grateful I am. Grateful to have learned what I have learned. Grateful to see four seasons of cherry blossoms and to survive four rainy winters. Grateful that I have a degree (even if I'm no where near knowing what to do with it). And of course, to have so many reasons to come back.
So I pulled me feet from the water, finally cooled, and walked back up onto the beach. This is a pretty great life, isn't it?
From me, with love, to you,
I spend a lot of time on social media. Half is for mindlessness, half is for music.
I do the same things that the rest of you do. I get caught up in dog photos on Instagram until I call my dad at 3am and ask him to get me a puppy (not my shiniest moment). I scroll through memes of old TV shows. I embrace the gen-Z in me and watch Tik Toks. But I also work a lot on social media.
What does work look like on social media? Scrolling through my own feed, my own stories, my own highlights. Making my page look aesthetic, or at least trying to. Redoing my blog, filtering my Facebook posts, responding to comments, updating bios, tracking analytics, projecting growth. It’s kind of half numbers based (analytics) and half people based (interactions).
The numbers stuff can be tedious, but I’m a little obsessed with it. Along with being a huge superhero dork, I also am low-key obsessed with Microsoft Excel. I have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets. But it’s the interactions aspect of my life that takes the bulk of my time. All the notifications of comments, likes, shares, messages. And most of these are from people I don’t know personally, new people. I mean my friends still comment and like and share and message. But a lot of it is new people. And I’m not complaining. If I didn’t want new people interacting with my profiles, I should just set everything to private or even better shut all my accounts down. If you don’t want people knowing things about you, get off the internet.
However, after the last three years of working with social media I have developed a system to interact with people. Not every interaction is the same, but there are some patterns. You need to create categories to streamline your life. As much as it’s my job I don’t want to spend my entire life online. I don’t want to spend my entire life living through a screen, so I categorize.
#1: There are the kind but meaningless but kind comments. Single emojis. The word “nice”, “cool”, “pretty”. They don’t mean much but they’re an ego fluff and I appreciate y’all.
#2: The promo interactions. Messages asking for a follow back, comments from brands asking for a collab, direct messages asking to check out someone’s new Soundcloud track. Some of them you respond to, others you don’t. When I first started, I responded to every message, every comment but I ran out of time. I do want to say though, don’t knock the self-promo people. I do it. You have to put yourself out there if you want to get noticed, so good on you for doing it. Keep chugging along.
#3: There are the people who get blocked. The people who use social media when they should be using Seeking Arrangements. The number of times I check my messages in the morning and wake up to dick pics in my inbox. Please keep that shit in your pants and out of my dm’s. The people who message me saying they know where I live, yeah no, FUCK THAT. The people who are just a little…too interested in me. The stuff you screenshot to send to your friends and go “Sorry Scott, not out here trying to get murdered.”
#4: There are the people who have questions, long comments, the people who share. The people who are genuinely interested in my content and they brighten my day. The messages about my music, my blog, my covers. The questions about how I write or why I write. Stories about their lives. And this is genuinely why I stay on social media. Why I use social media. To keep me connected to people through music. It’s part of the thing that motivates me to keep sharing, and a huge reason why I’m in love with my job.
#5: And the last category. The “I Hate You” people. I love these people like I love G&T’s in the summer and honey in my tea. These people are my bread and butter and I am eating this shit up. COME AT ME CHILD, I AM PREPARED.
At this point, I expect you think that all this time on my lonesome has made me lose my marbles and to that I say, not possible. Those marbles rolled away a long time ago, I can’t lose something I already lost. However, these people bring me joy. First of all, I don’t get it. If you hate my content, just find something else on the internet. You can literally find anything. If you hate what I do, why waste more time on my page by commenting or messaging? Plus, it’s not like I’m Ariana Grande, you don’t have to actively avoid my content. Don’t like it? Go somewhere else. You will likely never stumble across my shit ever again.
Secondly, it’s so angry and it makes me laugh. The “I Hate You” interactions are never: “I don’t enjoy this”. But real hateful. People are getting offended that this 21-year-old white girl had nothing better to do with her time than post another Billie Eilish cover. Why? I’m not sure. But they are and it makes me laugh.
Lastly, it kind of makes me super excited. I remember my first bad interaction. I filmed a YouTube video with no voice and missed so many notes. It was a brutal video. But I posted it anyways because I was just desperate to get content out. And somebody commented “bad”. That’s it. “Bad”. I knew it was bad. I was aware of that. But this comment didn’t make me upset or cry or even take the video down. Because it was kind of liberating. I had spent so much time in the bubble of friends and family saying “this is great” that it was nice to see that I was reaching other people. People who were going to give it to me honestly. And I was ready for the big kid pants.
I love all interactions (okay, not necessarily the dick pics. Dude, I wake up to this shit. I don’t want to start my day like that). And I will always send love and laughs to the people who send me hate, but my favourite interactions will always be the people who are looking for connection, reaching out with kindness. They make me smile, they brighten my day and are a little compass telling me I’m moving in the right direction. That being said, I appreciate the bad interactions as well. They remind me to work harder. They remind me that I’m not doing this to make other people happy, I’m doing this to make me happy. And most of all, they make me laugh. And we all need to laugh at social media sometimes.
It can be so easy to get caught up in social media and let it be something that defines you. And not even consciously, but on the unconscious level where you just want people to like your content. And it can be mean and brutal and kind of upsetting to scroll through sometimes. But isn’t it better to laugh at the people sub-tweeting you and commenting shady shit? Isn’t it better to laugh when everyone else is frowning? So yes, I laugh when people send me mean things, because what else am I going to do? Get upset about one bad comment? Spiral because what makes me happy doesn’t make everyone happy? Nope. Not today.
So, the more mad you get, the more I know you care enough to comment something mean. The opposite of love isn’t hate. As The Lumineers said, “the opposite of love’s indifference”, and I’m going to tell you right now, y’all are anything but indifferent. So. I guess all I have to say is:
I love you too.
From me, with love, to you,
Isolation has given me a lot of time to contemplate. To think about the last four years. To write. To study (but I’m not really doing that, as far as I’m concerned school is over). All the thinking and contemplating has led me to one conclusion: I spent too long putting things off.
I kept waiting for these “right moments” and “next times” but you don’t always have the liberty of waiting. I was supposed to have more time than this and I had planned to fill that time with all the things I was putting off. And I don’t mean my actual plans. I don’t mean going to formal, or philanthropy events, or partying with my friends. I’m talking about all the times I said, “I’ll do that later” and I won’t get to. All of the “next weeks” and “another times” that kept me from actually doing the things I wanted to do. And for that I’m not disappointed at the virus or the world, but I’m disappointed in me.
I should have gone to the beach more. I live in a city by the water and I don’t think I used it to its full potential. I went a bunch, but not as much as I should have. I should have lived on those beaches. I should have a “regular spot” where I sat and watched the ships, where I looked at the mountains. There should have been more mason-jar glasses of wine with my sister and relaxing with my friends. Why didn’t I walk the paths along Spanish Banks more? What was I waiting for?
I should have travelled more. I wanted to go to Tofino. Not even to surf but just to relax and get out for a little bit. Maybe try surfing and fail miserably. I wanted to go to Nanaimo and try all the Nanaimo bars my stomach could take. I wanted to learn the tricks of the trade from the source and just eat my way through that town until I was comatose in an Airbnb with my friends. And the Okanagan. I live near one of Canada’s wine capitals and I didn’t go. I didn’t booze up on a porch looking over a vineyard with my girls and I cannot imagine a good enough reason for me to have put that off into infinity. My sister and I never sampled wines while she spewed wine-facts at a very impatient sommelier. I never even really travelled Vancouver. Why didn’t I hike more in North Van? Or vintage shop around Main Street. Why did I waste so much time in the bubble that is UBC?
And skiing. I have a Whistler pass and barely got up to the mountain. I kept saying “next weekend, next weekend, next weekend”, but there are no more next weekends. I just shipped home all my ski stuff and I’ll be skiing the tiny hills that are Snow Valley, Moonstone and Blue Mountain. Never heard of them? Exactly. I’m going to take my beautiful Rossignols and drag them over man-made snow in Ontario and the icicle that is Quebec-skiing. When is the next time I’m going to sit on top of 7th Heaven, on a clear day, and just watch? Watch the mountains. You can see the whole world from up there. On a nice day, the world just stretches on for miles, mountain after mountain until the horizon curves out of sight.
I should have just told people how I felt. I kept waiting for the next party, the next night out to try and make a move but I never did. I spent, no, I wasted so much time trying to read into signals and figure out what people were thinking and now I’ll never know. I’ll never get answers, and I have questions. Why did we stop talking? What did it mean when you wanted to hear me play? Did you know that you hurt me when you did it? And even if I got the answers now, it would never be a satisfying ending. It’s not like I could see them and talk things through, it would be dm’s and unread messages and missed phone calls. I just should’ve shot my shot. But it’s so easy to talk a big talk and so hard to execute. (Y’all, if boys read my blog their heads are fucking REELING trying to figure out who those questions are about. Are they all for one person? Are the for different people? YOU WILL NEVER KNOW MWAH-HA-HA.)
I should have seen my friends more. Yes, my close friends, but also all the people I meant to grab coffee with and catch up with. Girls in my sorority, people from work, people from class. I should have seen them more. Made them more of a priority in my life. Yes, school is important, but I should have made more time in my life for people.
I should have done more stupid shit. I did a lot of stupid shit, but I should have done more. I should have just lived. Just done things for fun. Jumped in the fountain at UBC, danced like a maniac at bars, laughed until I peed myself, drank until I said, “I’m never drinking again”, done it all again the next Wednesday, and kissed the wrong boys (kissed the right boys?). I shouldn’t have thought so much about what other people thought about me. Because, honestly, I’m never going to see so many of those people ever again. I should have just lived more of life.
And I think about that last day, the last normal day, before all this started. It was my last day of university, which of course I didn’t know, but I would have done it differently. I would’ve hugged my friends when I saw them; I don’t know when I’m going to get to hug them again, or even see them in person. I should have invited more people to come to my show that night. I kept saying I’d invite everyone I knew to one of my shows, but I kept chickening out or worrying that people would say, “no” or wouldn’t come. But it was one of my best shows, and I wanted people to see it. I should’ve closed the bar down with my sister and drank with her friends and flirted with the hot bartender (holy shite what a fine-looking man). We should have gone home and got UberEats until we literally couldn’t fit anything else in our tummies. I should’ve but I didn’t because I kept saying “next time”.
This virus has taught me something. That life in its current state is fragile. I’m not saying, “live like there’s no tomorrow” and go try meth and cheat on your significant other and quit your job. There very much is a tomorrow. I’m just saying you don’t know what that tomorrow will look like. Nobody can predict the future, and if you think you can predict the future, well…we’re just not going to open that particular bag of cats.
I guess what I’m saying is I’m going to take this as a reminder to live with intention. To stop putting things off and just take advantage of more opportunities. To just live. Yes, it such a simple message, but it’s so hard to execute. And I’m sure I will have to learn and relearn this lesson many times over my life. But I’m going to do my best to live it, and hopefully I won’t need another pandemic to remind me.
From me, with love, to you,
If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been writing this post since October 2019. So, it’s gone through quite a few iterations. But after about 3,000 drafts, I’ve finally concluded how I want to tell this story.
A couple disclaimers: I understand everyone has different experiences being in a sorority, but as with most things on this blog, this is just my opinion. Also, this is not going to be about my experiences with fraternities. Fraternities are icky, their floors are covered in old beer and empty vape pods. For the remainder of this post, we’re talking about my sister-folk.
I’m writing this in hope of answering a few questions:
And in answering all these questions, this is going to be a long one. So, strap in:
I joined a sorority in my first year of university. Right out the gate. My biological older sister was in a sorority and she wanted me to go through recruitment so badly. And if I’m being honest, I thought the whole thing was a pretty stupid. I had this picture of Sydney White, House Bunny, white girls in tennis skirts and polo shirts which didn’t really seem to fit the life I wanted in university. But I love my big sister and I thought going through recruitment would put her at ease.
Even though I caved to my sister’s wishes and signed up, I was still more than hesitant to join a sorority. However, with every passing day at UBC it seemed like a better idea. UBC is big and I was feeling lonely. The girls I had met through my sister seemed a-okay, and I was having some extreme difficulties meeting people on my own. So, I drank the Kool-Aid and joined a sorority.
During my time in recruitment, I was this timid 17-year-old with self-esteem and confidence issues. I hated everyone but I hated myself more. I was depressed and anxious and had convinced myself I had made all the wrong choices in my life up until that point. But I sat in what would be my chapter room and looked around at women who were leaders in their community. They were confident and gave life their all and had no shame in who they were. I looked around the room and I wanted to be them. And looking back, that’s why I joined a sorority. I didn’t like who I was, and I wanted to be something more.
But why did I stay? We’ll get into that more later, but a lot of people join and drop. And there are a multitude of reasons to leave (as there are a multitude of reasons to stay): it’s expensive, it’s a time commitment, they just don’t feel like it, they dropped out of school. But I stuck with it. For four years I attended chapter meetings every week and put my best foot forward to be a part of this organisation. I will admit, part of it was self-competitive-ness and I didn’t want to feel like I was giving up. But also, a lot of me wanted to stick with it. I had made a promise, I had committed myself to these women come hell or high water and I intended to see that promise through.
2. What did I love?
I loved the leadership opportunities. At 19 years old I raised nearly $30,000 for my sorority’s charity as the philanthropy chair. I was given the chance to create my own fundraiser; people will continue to run it year after year and I can look back and say, “that was me”. I was able to go to international leadership conferences and speak to women making serious impacts in their respective communities. I was learning to delegate and manage a team. I learned to live in a democracy and navigate the challenges of working with personalities different from my own. I learned to connect based on values and ideals. I learned from those women and I can only hope at least one of them learned anything from me.
I loved ritual. I can’t tell you what we did or why we did it (shhhhhhh, it’s a secret). But I loved knowing that I share these secrets with tens of thousands of women around the world.
I loved the structure it provided my life. For my first year of university, being in a sorority got me out of the house and gave me things to do with my day. Mandatory events and chapter meetings and social gatherings all seemed frustrating at times, but they kept me sane. My sorority kept me connected to the real world when everything else was a blur.
And all in all, I loved the women. They are badass. I got to cheer them on as they ran marathons, started their own businesses, and applied for med school. I got to see people grow and change over the course of my sorority experience. Yes, we butted heads and not everything was rainbows and unicorns, but I love those women.
3. What leaves…room for improvement?
As I said, not all rainbows and unicorns.
Being in a sorority made me want to pull my hair out sometimes. There were days where I woke up and thought “Holy fuck, I can’t deal with this.” I mean, stick a bunch of girls in a room and we are bound to create drama, you’ve seen Mean Girls, right?
There was no burn book, no Gossip Girl website, no pillaging through the village and making people wear red “A’s” on their chest, but 20-year-old girls can definitely stir shit if you ask them to. About what you ask? Anything. About semi, about t-shirts, about parties, about something that really (if I’m being honest) didn’t matter. But it’s hard to see that when you’re in the thick of it. During my time I got upset about stupid things and when I look back, I think, “You dumb bitch, why did you lose sleep over a [insert inane topic here]?”
But you do, because at times being in a sorority was all-consuming. Your social life, your leadership activities, your academics can all get tangled up into Greek-life in the blink of an eye and sometimes it was too much.
The last thing I want to say on room for improvement is managing expectations. I joined my sorority and expected this instant feeling of “home”, an unrivaled connection among women sharing the same values. But that was so unrealistic, I was meeting strangers. There is no way we could immediately be best friends. Although I went on to make close friends in my sorority, it took me a really long time to feel comfortable. And still, as a senior there were times I felt out of touch with the girls in my sorority, I just learned to manage it better with time as I had such a strong network outside of the sorority as well.
4. Would I do it again?
Fuck. Yes. Did I want to pull my hair out? Uh-huh. Would I do it again? Yep.
I said earlier that I joined my sorority because I wanted to be something more. And I am now. I cannot give full credit to being in a sorority, but I would be daft to ignore the role they played. I don’t shit daisies made up of my sorority colours, and I don’t wake up going “Holy gee, my sorority sisters and the sun and the moon”. But I’m happy. I’ve met girls that will love me to the ends of the earth, and they’ve proved that time and time again. They come to my shows and talk to me when I have panic attacks and love me even when I’m a goddamn nightmare. Some of them proofread this post.
I became confident. I was constantly in a room full of 100 women with 100 different personalities and a million things to say. So, I needed to know how to be confident in myself to match the caliber of women I was with. It wasn’t sink or swim, but if I wanted someone to hear me, it was on me to make sure I was being heard.
I met bookers and photographers and musicians through being in a sorority. The reason I have this website is because I am a sorority girl. I have my career solely because of being in a sorority and I will never be able to repay that debt.
And yes, it was frustrating and yes, it wasn’t perfect, and yes there are days where I woke and couldn’t remember why I was supposed to love the organisation I was committed too. But isn’t that the way life goes? Nothing is only good or only bad. And all in all, being in a sorority was far more amazing than it was anything else. If I had to go back…actually if I got to go back, I don’t think I would change anything because it all made me who I am, and I’m a damn treat.
There are some words of wisdom I would like to leave behind for people in sororities or people who are looking back on their experience. Firstly, there will be times where being in a sorority will take more than it gives. I felt that in my last year, but you need to remember to feed the organisation that fed you, otherwise it can’t go on to support anyone else. Secondly, please, please, remember to be kind to one another. People have this preconceived notion that you need to be best friends with all 100 women in your sorority, that’s a lie. You can’t have 100 best friends, nobody has that social capacity. But be kind. Just ask how her day is going. Reach out. Tell her a funny story. Just be kind. And finally, buy at least one size up in recruitment t-shirts. At least.
And in spite of all this, I still know that being in a sorority is not for everyone. Frankly, I’m not even sure I’m a fan of the Greek System in spite of being a fan of sororities. I just wouldn’t be so quick to shit on the idea of sororities. I almost did but thank goodness I had an older sister who dragged me into recruitment. So, if you don’t have an older sister, the thing I would say to you is to go through recruitment and try it. Have an open mind and just see what happens. If you hate it, then you know, and you will probably meet people in recruitment who also hate it and then you have a new friend and a funny story. And if you love it, maybe in four years you’ll be telling your friend about how that crazy girl from that tiny blog got you to make a really amazing decision.
From me, with love, to you,
So as many of you know, coronavirus (I only read that word in Cardi B’s voice now and I am both grateful and upset that video exists) has swept across the world like the wind from hell and everyone is inside right now. All. The. Time. I understand that these are stressful times. Everyone is dealing with the financial, social and health-related impacts of the virus differently. I’m just going to take a moment to let you know what’s rattling around in my head.
I lived with one roommate from the States who moved out very quickly after things began to escalate, for fear of not being able to return home when the borders closed. It was an accurate assumption, however it left me in my apartment alone. Yes, my dad’s head is somewhere exploding because he’s thinking “If you tell them you’re alone, someone will come murder you.” No stupid, because to murder me, you would probably need to get within 2 metres, and that isn’t proper social distancing.
So, something you should probably know about me, is that I’m pretty good on my own. As a child, my parents always joked about the juxtaposition between my sisters and myself. While they thrive in the company of others, I definitely need my alone time to unwind. So, over the first three days things were going just dandy. Quarantine was a new thing. I had Netflix, books, puzzles, homework, and music to keep me company.
However, things came to a bit of a head on my 4th day alone (7th day in quarantine). As many people have, I got life ripped out from under me when quarantine began. Classes went online, social events got cancelled, everything I had been planning for months was gone. Erased. I was supposed to visit my sister in Toronto (nope). I had a formal for my sorority coming up (nu-uh). I had lunch plans, girls’ nights out, study dates and date-dates all lined up in my life (no, not happening, cancelled, and no sir-ee).
At first, I was mad. I made that pretty clear from the get-go. I was angry that I had put all this work in, but quickly I started to realise everyone else was in the shitter as well. My friend’s sister probably won’t get to go to prom. My Oma is in an old folks’ home in which she’s no longer allowed to leave her room. My situation is pretty trash, but everyone’s situation is trash.
So, I started to settle and it just kind of became a mundane annoyance in the back of my head.
It also felt surreal. Everyday felt like I was living in a dream. Have you ever had a dream where you realise something is off? Like you’re sitting in your apartment and a purple rhinoceros comes out of your bathroom and asks to borrow your shaving cream and you go, “Fuck, that’s weird”, but then you wake up. And once you wake up you realise how weird the dream actually was; how did you not realise it was a dream? Like your apartment was in black in white, or you had goat legs, or you were on your couch with your boyfriend Shawn Mendes (a girl can dream)? Life felt – and still feels – like that dream. I keep looking up expecting to see my purple rhinoceros and I wake up to the panic of realising I’m late to my PSYC305 class. But I don’t wake up because this is the real world now.
Anyways, so it was my 4th day alone when everything hit me. My sorority has this tradition to wish off the graduating class. It’s super cute and people write us letters. Anyways, for years I had been imagining how I would get my letters, what it would be like to be with my graduating friends and reading them in chapter meeting. Although, as I read my letters, alone, on the floor of my apartment I finally realised something.
This is it.
This is how I end four years of school. How I end my time in a sorority. How I end my music career in Vancouver. How I end living in the same city as my big sister, as my friends. How I end all my relationships, all my memories, all my time in Vancouver. Alone in my apartment.
And I started to cry.
At first, they were kind of quiet tears. And then they weren’t. They were big, ugly sobs. Because I had worked so hard to get here. I had a real “underdog” story of almost dropping out of school, overcoming mental health, getting my grades up, making friends, pursuing my career as a musician. And all of that boiled down to the next three weeks alone on my living room floor.
And yes, I like my time alone, but it’s starting to take its toll. It’s starting to wear me down and cabin fever is setting in, although I’ll take that over COVID-19 fever any day. And I’m losing motivation and I’m finding it harder to do things I love. Because not only am I alone all the time, but I have nothing to look forward to. My mental health is predicated on the fact that I have a life that I love but if I’m being honest, I don’t love this life right now. I don’t love having to leave Vancouver before I’m ready. I don’t love that I haven’t had a handshake let alone a hug in over two weeks. I don’t love that sometimes I just start crying in the middle of the day and I don’t know why.
I’m trying really hard not to come across as conceited or self-centred. But it has taken all my effort over the last couple years to get to a place in my life where I run my mental health more than my mental health runs me. But I can feel the pieces start to fall out of place and I’m wondering how much longer I can hold the picture in focus. And how long it will take me to get everything back in place if I slip.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start walking around hugging people, because I understand this is for the greater good. I get that this isn’t about me. And I’m staying home for the same reasons you are. For the healthcare workers like my mama, and my cousin in New York. For my Oma. For people that are immune compromised. For the hundreds of thousands of people that are still out there everyday even though we all get the luxury of keeping ourselves safe. I’m staying inside because I’m not selfish. But I’m sad, and I’m allowed to be sad.
I don’t think there is a solution to this. But I wanted to get some stuff off my chest and for some reason was the best way I know how, because maybe someone else is looking at their computer and thinking “This sucks”. Which it does. And if you’re doing that, and you’re reading this, don’t worry. I’m on your side.
From me, with love, to you,
So, like I’ve been saying on social media I wrote this song forever ago. But as I’ve been doing with all my songs, we’re going to break down what got me to write it.
Rainy days and Thursdays are meant for your room
When you break up with someone, it is wildly overwhelming. I wrote this song a month or two after my first break up. But it wasn’t the first song I wrote about that break-up. I wrote probably a dozen songs about the same situation; about our relationship, about how I felt wronged, about how I was heart broken. But every song seemed empty, and none of them made me feel any better. They were just fractions of how I was feeling, and they left so much unsaid.
I wanted to write the song. I wanted to write everything down, get everything out and walk away.
Now we both know, that I loved you more
There were a couple goals I had when I was writing this song. I wanted to tell everything, from beginning to end. I didn’t want to feel the need to write anymore. I was so tired about writing sad love songs. I was beginning to feel like Taylor Swift. And I didn’t want it to be angry. Because our relationship wasn’t angry (our breakup was a little fiery though). I wanted a song about the relationship. In hindsight, I think I was trying to explain to myself why I was so upset. Why had I let him hurt me? Why did it matter so much? He kind of had to, at the time I loved him and that was going to shape me.
The song also preserved all my memories. I think there are parts of our relationship I would have forgotten if hadn’t written this song. I think I would’ve forgotten the naps on my couch that made me feel safe and the endless card games (even when I was too tired to play so he would play with my little sister). I was so blinded by how mad I was about the breakup, I wanted to remember that it was actually an amazing relationship.
All of my life contains pieces of you
The memories I have turn me black, turn me blue
I sat on this song for so long because it’s really personal. Both emotionally and literally. I didn’t know if people would be able to relate to it. But I started playing it at shows and I think as much as people weren’t relating to “strawberry kisses” and “betting on the world” they were relating to this idea of having to untangle your life after a breakup. And I was.
I wanted a song that embodied the feeling of loss. All my memories from those 2 years related back to this one person who was such a centralised point in my life. And that’s what I’m happy people are relating to. The idea that memories that once brought you joy can become painful. That feeling of needing to move on even when it seems impossible. I’m sharing this song not as a hail Mary pass at my ex but as a hope that some broken-hearted person will listen to it and go “yup. That’s how I feel.”
When I start to slip, I still count to ten
To say the least, my ex and I are on bad terms. But this song reminds me that when we were together, it was pretty great. Was it perfect? That’s a dumb question, if it was perfect, he wouldn’t be my “ex”. I took a lot out of the relationship and I think that at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. You can only ask to grow from your situations. Nothing more, nothing less.
I love this song because it did exactly what I wanted. I wasn’t a-okay after the breakup for a really long time. But this helped get me there. This was the last song I wrote about him. I got it all down. I’ve thought a ton about writing about the breakup. Writing the nitty-gritty. But I think that anger is something I’m going to keep to myself.
I can’t write more songs for the boy, who won’t love me too
The video of "The Boy" is up on YouTube now! Please go watch it and I appreciate all your feedback! Thank you guys! Keep safe!
From me, with love, to you,
Yep, we’re beating a dead horse.
I know everyone has “COVID-19 info” coming out their yin-yang right now. Economically, politically, socially, it’s all anyone talks about. Meme pages are filled with toilet paper jokes, food bloggers are talking about how to stock your pantry and every “location tag” on Instagram says “quarantine”. But in light of all this, we all need to keep moving forward. The world will keep moving and you can’t sit around waiting for the day we all get to resume normal activity to pick your life back up. If I’m being honest, knowing the toll this is taking on the world (even just financially) it’s going to be a while until the world is 100% normal again.
So, in hopes of moving forward and not staying stagnant, let’s talk about school.
Trust me I am the last person who wants to talk about school right now. All I want to do is nap and watch Netflix and drink a glass of white wine while I blast music in my kitchen. But I’ve made it nearly 4 years at UBC and I’m not going to let this virus derail my degree. I’m better than that.
But with the lack of structure and frankly no idea what the future is about to look like, it’s hard to stay motivated. I woke up at 10:30am today, ate breakfast and went back to bed. I’m not the poster child for good study habits right now. But I’m setting a plan in place to try to get things back on track and I’m sharing it with you in hopes of getting 1 person on board.
(1) Study when you’re supposed to be in class:
A lot of lectures are now pre-recorded videos or video calls so make sure you’re still treating class time like it’s class time. Whether that’s taking notes on slide decks or listening to videos or checking in with professors, keep “going” to school. It’s going to be easy to get behind right now, so staying on top of lectures will make sure you’re not cramming when finals come.
Also, if you set aside regular-school time, then you’re going to add some structure back into your day. It will keep some normalcy. If you want, set up Skype or Facetime with a group of your friends and go through the lectures together so you don’t feel so isolated.
(2) Maintain a regular sleep schedule:
It’s really easy to start staying up until 3 am and waking up at noon, but a lot of your final exams are still going to take place at their scheduled times. If you have an online exam at 8:30am, you don’t want to get stuck taking it in your “middle of the night”. And if you spend the next three or so weeks pushing your sleep schedule, when finals roll around, you’re going to have a lot of difficulty righting everything. Plus, eventually the world will return to normal, and it’s not totally sufficient to be a nocturnal human. I know it’s tempting but try to sleep at normal times.
(3) Take steps, not leaps:
All of my profs uploaded all of their content for the rest of the year at once, and I almost shat myself. My first thought was “How the fuck am I supposed to learn this all on my own?”. But the thing is, it doesn’t really matter how I do it, I have to do it. So I downloaded all the lecture slides, videos and notes into one file called “Quarantine Files” and as I work my way through them, I delete them. Yes, I will likely have to redownload when I start studying for finals, but I’m treating it like a to-do list. Everyday I’m trying to cross 2-3 slide decks off my list, and honestly, it’s feeling more manageable.
This also means just making a genuine to-do list. Write it down on your phone, on a piece of paper, on your arm. My personal favourite is on sticky notes, because you can rip them down and crumple them up, which is super satisfying.
(4) Face reality:
This is it people. This is how I’m going to spend the end of my university degree. I haven’t cried yet, but I’m damn sure I will. And yes, my last post was angry, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that this is the way life is. It’s not fair, it’s not always fun, and in order to protect other people and myself this is way things are going to go.
I’m finally doing well in school and I’m not letting this change of pace affect that. I have 5.5 weeks left in my undergrad and I’m finishing it. I know that UBC is not going to hold my hand to the end of this (because they’ve never held anyone’s hand before), so I better make sure I have my own ass covered.
So that’s all I have for you, it’s no stroke of genius but it’s something:
I’m sure most of you have figured this out on your own. You’re pretty smart. But I also know someone out there is drinking vodka on a Sunday morning like it’s a Friday night, with stacks of toilet paper around them, talking to themselves like it’s the end of the world. And to that person all I have to say is get your shit together.
From me, with love, to you,
I really want to get something off my chest.
But before I do that, I want to recognise all the people that COVID has and is affecting. I know this is a serious virus; that needs to be addressed. I’m not going to be ignorant and say that it isn’t a big deal. Now, do I suggest we all start drinking bleach and prepare for the end of the world? No. This isn’t the apocalypse, this isn’t Ragnarök and we have yet to meet the four horsemen. Anyways, here we go:
I’m mad at COVID. And I know the virus isn’t a self-aware entity and that being mad is a futile thing, but I’m mad and I think I’m entitled to be mad. I’m mad that I’m at home instead of outside during Vancouver’s arguably nicest season of the year. I’m mad that I’m missing my last cherry blossom season in Vancouver. That it’s sunny out and I’m sitting inside because it’s the responsible thing to do.
It fucking tanks that school is online. There is a reason I have gone 8 semesters in university without taking an online class: I’m awful at online classes, I learn in person, by talking to people and studying with people. My finals seasons consistently involve 10-12hr stints with my friends, where we actually discuss and debate course content (among other things), and that’s what solidifies it in my brain. Not rote memorization. But how am I supposed to study with my friends when I’m supposed to be social distancing and staying 6ft away from other humans?
Plus, learning all my course content in the first place is going to be a nightmare. I don’t do well sitting on my computer and clicking through slide decks or listening to pre-recorded videos. I want to be in a lecture hall. I want to listen to the cheesy jokes my profs make about personality disorders and drug administration because I remember those things. I’ve been fine tuning and refining my study technique and I’m finally doing well in school but on my last set of finals I have to flip everything upside down. UBC is trying to pretend that it’s equal but it’s not. There is no way that this finals season will be equivalent to a real end-of-term and pretending it is seems kind of silly. I mean, I made it this far. Can’t I just get my degree and call it a day?
I’m angry that this is the way that I end my degree. Fourth year is supposed to be fun. I had so many events lined up, I was supposed to go to Ontario to party with my cousin and see my younger sister. I had my formal, skiing with my parents at Whistler, and end of year parties. My friends and I had plans to go out on the weekends and have movie nights but now everything squashed under the fear of contracting COVID. We had even thrown around the idea of a girls’ weekend in the States, but that’s obviously not happening anymore. I’m not going out and being 21 and making dumb decisions. I’m not making stories and kissing boys and playing shows and getting to live my last two and a half months in Vancouver. I’m sitting in my apartment and finding ways to fill my time. I’m already tired of watching Netflix. It has been 36 hrs of self-quarantine and I’m bored. How the fuck am I supposed to make it to the end of this?
And I’m tired of talking about this virus. It’s all anyone talks about. The entire world has come to a halt, there isn’t anything else to talk about. No celebrity scandals, sports teams, political issues. Everything has been wiped away from everyone’s minds and everything it COVID, COVID, COVID. Remember when we were all talking about impeachment or climate change or Meghan Markle getting booted from the royal family? Nobody is talking about TV shows or new songs or which celebrity had a nip slip. I would kill for 20 minutes of regular conversation. 20 minutes of COVID-free conversation. I don’t want to talk about how hand sanitizer is the new flex, I want my parents to stop sending me “Best Alternative Sterilizers” and if one more person talks to me about toilet paper I will go out and catch COVID just so I can give it to them.
And yes, I’m still aware of the dangers of this virus. I am in two different high-risk populations. Immune deficient and asthmatic. If I get COVID I am fucked. But I just want regular life. I want to stress about school and boys and the fact that my foundation and concealer always seem to run out at the same time. I have six weeks left before I need to become a big kid and I’m going to spend most of that time playing water pong with my roommate as we search the black market for Lysol wipes. So yeah, I get that it’s dumb to complain about something I can’t change, but to be honest, I’m really running out of things to do.
I hope everyone is actually staying safe though <3
From me, with love, to you,
People ask me why I am the way I am. All the time, my character is question and reflected upon. I do it to myself. And the only reason I can explain the way I am is the way I grew up.
I grew up among only women. I have a very estrogen dominant family. There are 11 grandchildren on one side and 5 on the other. There are only 2 boys, one on each side. Even all my close friends are girls. I grew up in choirs and musical theatre, both of which are female dominated activities. When I got to UBC I joined a sorority, just to top it all off. It’s not to say that I have no male friends now. But my life is filled with women, and that makes me the way I am.
My life is filled with kind women. My mom is the kindest person I’ve ever met, almost to a fault. She is the kind of person who feels your emotions alongside you. She told me that no matter what she does in this life, she will be happy if she is a good mother and she lives that everyday. She puts my sisters and me above everything and asks for nothing in return. If I asked her to fly to Vancouver tomorrow, I know she would, no questions asked. She listens to every story I tell her, even if she’s heard it before. She told me once she likes listening to me talk because when I’m in a good mood I get chatty, so hearing me talk makes her smile.
My best friend is the same. I speak the world of her because she is the world to me. Every bruise I wear I know she wears too, and I can’t thank her enough for all the love she has given me and the bullshit she puts up with from me over the last 13 years. For my entire first year and half of university she put my contact on “push notifications” because I didn’t have any friends in Vancouver, so if something went wrong while I was out here, I would have her to talk to. The women in my life are kind.
My life is filled with smart women. My god, that is true. The women in my family are so intelligent it’s intimidating; I grew up amongst doctors, lawyers, physiotherapists, and engineers. But not only that, all the women in my family are smart. The kids in my family major in engineering chemistry, finance, and economics. Right now, I have one cousin getting her PhD in clinical psychology (at 22 years old I might add) and another finishing up her residency to be a doctor. Part of the reason I’m getting a degree in behavioural neuroscience is because I can’t go home with a bachelor’s degree in general arts, I would get sent back to school.
My friends at UBC are wicked smart. The kind of smart that makes me feel dumb. My friends are working in labs and getting published in scientific journals, while I’m getting published on my own damn website. Without them I would not be in school right now. UBC would have given me the boot ages ago, but they hold my hand and coach me through complex topics like autoreceptors on noradrenergic neurons and the default network in the brain (which is a lot more complicated than it sounds). The women in my life are smart.
My life is filled with badass women. At 17 years old, my sister moved away to travel the world. Life gave her an opportunity and she took it. She takes more onto her plate than anyone I know and handles it with grace. She values hard work and that shows in everything she does. There is nothing in her life that is halfway and that includes being an amazing big sister. She chairs the board of a charity, was the president of a women’s leadership group and is in an incredibly competitive program at UBC and I genuinely don’t know how she pulls more than 24hrs out of a day.
Both my grandmothers were and are badass. My dad’s mom was the breadwinner in an era when that just straight up was not a thing. And my mom’s mom not only lived through WW2 and survived but got stuck in soviet Germany after the war and had to escape under the floorboards of a milk truck. There is no story I can tell to top that. No matter what I do in this life, in any life, I will never beat “I escaped soviet Germany under the floorboards of a milk truck”. My life is filled with badass women.
My life is filled with funny women. My younger sister is the funniest person I know. She is the only person to make me pee myself from laughing. But she doesn’t make humour at the expense of others; she is witty and sharp, and it shows when she makes you laugh. She is a character actor and a stand-up comic and your favourite sitcom star all in one. I smile until it hurts when I’m with her and she damn well knows it.
My friends from Toronto are hilarious. I’ve laughed in my living room in stitches with a glass of wine and a handful of cards from “What Do You Meme?” telling stories of dates gone wrong. I’ve howled at kitchen dance parties and choir jokes and Indiana Jones drinking games. My friends make me laugh when the whole world frowns. My life is filled with funny women.
And I can’t imagine my life without these role models. I grew up knowing I could be anything because the women in my life were everything. They were stars in their own rights, and they taught me to shine like they do. The women in my life shaped me into the person I am, and they continue to allow me to grow. Anytime I am kind, smart, badass or funny, know it is to the credit of the women who raised me. It takes a village to raise a child, and they are my village.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I know unabashedly I am not the target demographic for rap music. Or at least, that’s what I’m told all the time. It’s not my top genre but I definitely listen to it enough to say, “I listen to it”. I think the biggest contrast is against my own music. My music settles very comfortably into the “singer/songwriter” category, maybe you could stretch it to say “pop” or even “country” but you would have to be deaf and dumb to say that my music sounds anything like rap music (you also wouldn’t want to hear me rap, it would sound like Kidz Bop). But I think listening to rap music has changed my perspective as a songwriter. And to explain that I need to go back to the beginning.
My ex was not musically inclined. During our relationship I introduced him to artists like Elton John, Billy Joel and The Rolling Stones, artists you could consider pop culture staples. He exclusively listened to Top 40 and rap music. I, on the other hand, grew up on nearly every style of music outside of rap. I listened to classic rock, country, pop, classical music, jazz, Broadway, folk, vocal music (like Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, courtesy of my mama). Moreover, as a 17-year-old from midtown Toronto I felt I couldn’t (and had no right to) identify with rap music. I had this preconceived notion that rap was about drugs and money and women. But I quickly saw rap as a far more expansive genre than I previously had believed. It spoke of mental health, family troubles and unapologetic frustration with the world.
Up until that point I had seen singer/songwriters as these beautiful poets that went so desperately underappreciated. I couldn’t understand how people didn’t see the genius woven into Hozier’s first album. I didn’t get how people listened to Passenger’s music and didn’t see the overarching allusions to fear of drowning. And Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist) is a damn icon. It wasn’t until I started googling rap lyrics and going through the process of understanding them that I realised how much I was missing out on.
My ex and I broke up (obviously, it’s kind of in the title “ex”) and I kept listening to rap. I kept listening to Drake, Kendrick, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg. My sister’s friends started recommending J. Cole and Joyner Lucas. I watched Straight Outta Compton and started listening to N.W.A. because I needed to know more. Rap music kind of pulled me in for reasons that other genres couldn’t.
It was passionate and frustrated and raw in a lot of ways that other genres couldn’t be. It thrives on confrontation; it’s the only genre to “battle” and be blunt with insults. Artists release singles and fill their albums with references to each other. Not to say every track is genius (Nick Cannon, The Invitation), but artists take anger and frustration and they’re turning it into something. Rap takes emotions that can be viewed as toxic and turns them into productivity. Think about Eminem’s album Kamikaze: the only reason we got that album is because he was mad at everyone for not liking Revival. It’s not to say that other genres don’t try to “battle”, but they get caught up in catchy hooks and melodrama with really poorly written digs (I’m looking at you Bad Blood by Taylor Swift). Or even worse, they take all that anger, all that frustration and get into Twitter arguments and subtweet each other.
And sure, you can argue with me that you can get angry country songs (Before He Cheats, Carrie Underwood), angry pop songs (Don’t, Ed Sheeran), or even songs that aren’t angry but give you that riled up, “fuck this” feeling (Back in Black, AC/DC). But there is something to be said about the structure of rap that gives it an edge on being able to capture this feeling of frustration.
And that’s the second reason I love rap music. The structure of it (or lack there of). Music of the recent past really loves this verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. And not all modern music sticks to this structure, Regina Spektor loves to play with new structures. Classic rock loved to play with this structure, which is why you got pieces like Thick as a Brick (Jethro Tull) and Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Meatloaf). A lot of The Beatles sounds an acid trip, because it probably is.
But rap music doesn’t like to stick to rules in content or structure. Dr. Dre’s album Compton is insane; the song Loose Cannons has a full murder scene at the end. Childish Gambino’s Me and Your Mama is 6 minutes and 19 seconds of incredible because the entire thing is different and constantly changes. There are no rules about what can be included in a track. Darkness by Eminem has news clips and FEAR. by Kendrick Lamar has a phone call from a religious group (I think that’s what it is). You’re listening to more than just the same structure regurgitated into thirteen, three-minute tracks. It’s unique and crafted to make you think about things. There are other artists who are trying to break restrictions, like James Bay using small skits in the album Electric Light or Billie Eilish using The Office clips in my strange addiction, but rap breaks the rules constantly because it’s at the heart of the genre.
So, I guess when you break it down, there are two main reasons (other than for sake of listening to music): it is raw, and it breaks the rules. But the reasons I love it are engrained into its history. Rap was created to give a voice, to be an outlet. N.W.A didn’t write Fuck Tha Police because they were happy with their current situation. Kendrick Lamar didn’t put “This is why I say hip hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism” in DNA. just for shits, but because he had something to say about the state of culture. I’m never going to fully understand why rap music is the way it is, but I can appreciate it as a musician.
I feel like listening to rap has made me a better songwriter. It makes me think more about why I’m saying the things that I’m saying, it makes me think about the structure of my songs. Do I need a chorus? Do I need to same time signature in the verse and the chorus? Can I be angry, or do I have to hide behind metaphors and analogies to explain how I’m feeling? Don’t worry, you will never see me get anywhere close to trying to mix singer/songwriter music with rap (I’m not Ed Sheeran), and I’m not going to try to do a white-girl cover of HUMBLE. However, listening to rap gets me out of my bubble. Yeah, I still listen to primarily Hozier, Elton John, The Lumineers and KALEO, but Compton is on my “On Repeat” playlist on Spotify.
And I don’t know if you guys will find this interesting. I’m a huge music dork so I could talk about chord progressions and song structures until my throat is sore. But I’m hoping since I find it interesting enough to write about, someone finds it interesting enough to read about.
From me, with love, to you,
P.S. Thank you so much to Danni Olusanya for her help and insight into creating this piece
So it's been a long time since we did a good ol' fashioned update, so let's get her going:
I'm not going to go back too far because y'all don't need to know everything. So let's keep it simple.
Right now I'm in Toronto and it's been giving me mixed emotions all around. Even though I'm only here for the week, it's starting to hit me that my time in Vancouver is counting down real quick. I'm coming back to Toronto in May for the long term ("permanently" feels too finite) and as much as I am excited to be back with the baby sis and my parents, it's still scary. Plus there is something to be said about the loss of freedom in coming back home. I mean, it's not like I'm a raging party animal, but there are definitely some habits I might want to kick before I move back in to my childhood bedroom. Also, the last time I updated my room I was about fifteen, and needless to say it's not 2014 anymore, so she needs a bit of a remodel. I mean, painting my room has to be more productive than doing the standard girl-freak-out and getting bangs, right?
I'm about to get rocket-launched into the second half of this semester. Finals schedules are out at UBC and mine looks like the goddamn Nightmare on Elm Street. I thought UBC would give me a break considering it's my last semester and they've robbed me blind for the last four years, but nah, they decided to go out with a bang. @UBC, when I write my biography, do you want to to put the "fuck you" in all caps or lowercase? I have midterms coming out my yin yang and I'm just nearly keeping my head above the water. I know I said once that university is like having a "shirt pocket", but sometimes it's like getting kicked in the head, karate-kid-style.
Hmmmmmmmmm, what else? You can always assume the obvious:
-Still writing music
-Still playing shows (follow @victoria_staff for the updates)
-Still eat cookie dough for breakfast
All the healthy, normal things a 21-year-old girl should be doing. If you don't stir the pot a bit every once in a while, things get boring don't they?
Other than that, life is pretty static. I have some bigger-ish projects on my mind and coming up over the next little bit. But I'm not entirely ready to spill all the beans quite yet. All I can see is I plan on finishing school at the end of April and I'm not only hitting the ground running, I'm hitting the ground at a fucking sprint.
And I close this segment with a Netflix recommendation: Love is Blind
I never got into the Bachelor/Bachelorette and Love Island is too much content for a binge-watcher like me to healthily be exposed to. Love is Blind is a Netflix series in which people get engaged without ever seeing each other. Then they go on vacation, move in together and get married over the span of like 4 weeks. It is chaotic, it is a recipe for disaster, and it is my new favourite show. If you need something to take your mind off idk, wildfires, floods, viruses, government scandals and (if you're Canadian) protests, this is the medicine to heal that wound.
I know this isn't my usual dive into one topic, but I thought I would give you a small catch-up on what's going on in my life. If you want to see me live, I'll be at Blarney Stone on March 12th and I can't wait to see some new and familiar faces.
From me, with love, to you,
Hello love birds,
So. It’s that special time of year again, where couples dole out extra doses of PDA, singles take it as an excuse to eat too much chocolate, and people who are in casual relationships get really uncomfortable. Last year I talked a lot about the worst relationship advice I’ve ever gotten, which you can read right here:
But this year I'm going to talk about the love of my life.
I love my job more than anything in the entire world. And I understand that my music career is a blip in the microcosm that is your life in a greater social hemisphere in this crazy world. But for me it is literally everything. There is no microcosm, no social hemisphere, no crazy world scenario because my crazy world is my music career.
My life has come to revolve around this tiny blip and I’m watching it grow (slowly yes, but it’s growing). On January 1st of 2018 I had 667 followers on Instagram, on January 1st of this year I had 2949, and that number is changing still. And let me describe to you why all of this is so magical to me.
I spent my entire life knowing I wanted to be in music. To write music, to sing music, to just get my hands on an instrument. When I was really little, I told my dad I was going to be on American Idol (give me some credit, it was the early 2000’s and American Idol was still a big deal). I wrote so many crappy songs as a kid. I remember my parents got me this album from Melissa O’Neil (she won the 3rd season of Canadian Idol in 2005) and I pulled out the album artwork and look at it, and that was the first time I realised that pop songs are structured into verses and choruses. It was revolutionary to my tiny 6-year-old brain.
My older sister told me a couple weeks ago that she remembers me writing music at our old house when we were little. We had this monster of an old IBM computer that sat in our basement, and my mom would open up Microsoft Word and I would type songs out one letter at a time and if anyone came into the basement I would scream bloody murder and cover up the screen with my tiny, child hands.
I remember the first time I took my crappy songs and printed them out and brought them up into my parents’ room and made my mom listen as I sang a capella songs that had no meaning (my mom is a saint). I printed out pages of meaningless lyrics and sang out of tune songs over and over again until she told me it was time for bed.
My older sister has this crappy Yamaha guitar that my parents bought her at Costco. I still play it at the cottage sometimes. It was collecting dust under her bed, so after school when I got home before my sister, I would sneak into her room and steal the guitar. I taught myself using YouTube videos and chord charts online. I was 11 years old. And I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I learned to play the guitar because I wanted to surprise them. I wanted it to be my secret until I had something concrete to show them. I learned to play guitar specifically so I could write music. I had a sole motivation to learn that instrument, I wanted to be able to bring it around with me and play music that I wrote rather than having to sing a capella in my mom’s bedroom. That year I played so much guitar that when I went to piano lessons my teacher complained she could hear my fingers clicking on the keys because the callouses on my fingers were so thick.
I pulled the guitar downstairs one evening and made my entire family sit in the living room and I played them the first song I ever wrote on an instrument. It was called “One More Time” and it sucked, but it ended with this line that said “If our time is a candle, then the wick is a stump in the wax” and I kind of still love that line. Maybe I’ll use it again one day and you’ll all know where it came from.
When I was 13, I wrote my first good song. I played it for my two sisters at our kitchen table and when I finished my younger sister looked at me and said, “that one isn’t bad actually”. That song was 100 or Less.
The first YouTube video I ever posted was (oh this is embarrassing) A CUP SONG MASH-UP, the most 2013 phrase ever. I have since put the video on “private” because I think I would vomit if anyone ever saw it. But you need to understand that it took me nearly 4 months to convince my dad to let me post it on YouTube because he thinks social media is a recipe for disaster. (It is, he’s right, but I wanted more than anything to be online)
At 15 I spent July at a summer camp. I brought the Yamaha guitar up with me and played songs on the porch during “rest hour” while everyone else slept. I played slow and quiet covers of Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson while girls read in bunkbeds. I wrote Home that summer. At the end of July, I got in front of the camp to play it. It was maybe 150 people and I was so nervous I was shaking. I used to be afraid of jitters, but now I like them They’re kind of exciting, like butterflies before a first date.
The funny part is I still keep all my old lyrics. I have folders and notebooks and scrap papers all over my room. I keep notes on my phone and sticky notes and write in the margins of agendas. Because I’ve used lyrics I wrote when I was little and recycled them. If you’ve ever heard me play live, there’s a chorus you may have heard:
If this bus breaks down between where I am and you, I will find a way to walk…
And I wrote that the summer I was 15, the summer I wrote Home. I just didn’t know what the rest of the song would be yet.
And why this long-winded back story? Because I know for some people it feels like this whole music thing is some winging-it project, but it’s not. For me this has been not only a dream, but a work in progress since 6-year-old me figured out what a chorus is. It has been 15 years of writing music and piano lessons and musical theatre camp and choir competitions and vocal coaching and I can’t describe to you what even this little bit of movement means to me.
And here’s where we get REAL cheesy, so get out your nachos.
When I write music, everything makes sense. It feels like all my thoughts come in the wrong order; the beginning comes at the end, the middle comes at the beginning, and the end sometimes shows up in a different story. But when I write music, I get to clear all the space and place the thoughts one by one in the right order.
And if you’ve listened to me talk in person you probably get that because 99% of the time what I say is a tangent or out of place or from an earlier conversation. But when I write everything settles, and all the dust clears, and I can actually put words in the correct order and make something out of them.
So, I know I’ve said it before, but I again want to say thank you. Because I get to be in love everyday with this little blip. I just can’t wait to see it grow. Happy Valentine's Day.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
This one is again about boys, relationships, etc. I apologise if you’re getting tired of it, but it’s kind of the only life experience I have and the only thing I’m qualified to talk about. I did, however, try to incorporate as much "sports" into this post as possible.
In my personal opinion, there are only a handful of ways to really go out and find a partner. We’ve discussed dating apps at great length on this website and if you haven’t read that it’s right here:
But I’m going to talk about the other two primary ways I have met boys. (You might be meeting girls, or idk sasquatches, your sexual orientation is really none of my business, as long as it’s not kids or dogs, you do you.) The short game and the long game.
The short game: This comes up most often at bars. You see someone, you make flirty eyes, you usually dance and you hook up with that person at the bar or you take them home with you. It’s not specific to bars, I guess you could do it in broad daylight…but often a certain amount of intoxication is required to get someone to make the play right at the buzzer.
The long game: You meet someone in your life (usually in a sober environment), such as through work, through class, through a friend, through some hobby you share like underwater basket weaving. And slowly your relationship with this individual becomes more and more intimate until, BAM! It’s intimate.
**Please note: the long game doesn’t mean the relationship is long, but it’s a long warm up before you actually get to play. Moreover, the short game doesn’t mean the relationship is short, the warm up is short.**
And like most things in life, you can’t be good at everything. Most people have one strong game, because they’re very different sporting events. Usain Bolt doesn’t also dominate at running marathons. Some people are above average at both, but you don’t often win gold in both the short game and the long game.
Which one do I play? Long game. Because a) I don’t trust strangers and b) I’m garbage at the short game. I’m six feet tall, I dance like I just learned to walk and I’m a consistent user of Irish exit at bars. I play a garbage short game. Plus, every time I attempt to play the short game I end up with some horrendous story, like the time I got propositioned with sex to write a song (that has to be a weird musical prostitution, right? Don't worry I didn't do it).
So, I play the long game. I’m not amazing at it. It’s worked a handful of time, and that’s kind of in the rule book though. You can only play the long game a handful of times in your lifetime because it’s long. Plus, you can’t hook up with all of your friends, it makes your life too complicated.
And along those lines, I know that playing the long game gives me less hook ups than my friends who play the short game. Statistically it has to, it takes more time for me to find someone to play the game with. Plus, it fucks up my life quite a bit every time I play and it’s pretty exhausting to set up. I used to get discouraged, “why do my friends always have more successful games than me? Why am I so unattractive?” and it’s not that I’m necessarily unattractive. I’m not Gal Gadot, but I’m not Gollum either. All in all, looks doesn't even really factor into this equation. Because if you look back and read that statement, it's not that they have more success, it's just that they have more more. Are you still following? It's not that I have any less success, it's that my success is more intermittent. I mean we should be looking at batting averages, not hits overall.
But here’s where the true skill takes place. Play the game you’re good at. I’ve learned to play the long game better over time because it’s really the only game I have. If you're a kick ass in the pool, don't try hurdles. That doesn’t mean I’ll never win a short game, I mean, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s still win a game every now and then. Sometimes at a bar I throw a hail Mary pass right at the wire and score, but all in all, it’s not my strong suit.
So, my beautiful treats. If you are unhappy with your current situation. Try switching up your game. You may be more successful. Just because all your friends find the love of their life one way, doesn't mean you have to. Plus, if you pick someone up with a way that’s more compatible with your personality, they're probably going to be a better fit. I'm no relationship guru, but it’s worth a shot.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ladies. My she/her/her’s readers. Are you ever tired of being you? I am. I am all the time.
I’m tired of the little things. I’m tired of the way my bra feels when the wire digs into my sides and when I take it off at the end of the day and it has left small indents all over my shoulders and rib cage. I’m frustrated with strapless bras. They either pull all the air out of you and are reminiscent of corsets, or they fall down and are just a recipe for a nip slip. I’m tired of paying for tampons, bringing tampons around, forgetting tampons, and spending so much time thinking about tampons. Having to count days out until the next time I need a tampon. Tired of finding them everywhere when I don’t need them and finding them no where when I do. I’m done with breaking my favourite elastics and losing my favourite scrunchies. Or leaving the house and forgetting to bring hair elastics so you spend all day thinking about what you can use to tie your hair up. Or God forbid you use a real elastic band, which will never come out without using a pair of scissors and losing some hair. I’m tired of using bobby pins and losing bobby pins and getting stabbed by bobby pins. Or forgetting you had them in your hair and going to wash it, only to have to try and untangle the clump of wet hair and shampoo that is stuck in your bobby pin.
Tired of when you put on tights on and instantly put a run in them. And you just paid 10 dollars for those tights but you caught them on a toe nail and now they’re useless and you have to throw out 10 dollars because someone might actually see the texture of your skin and that’s why we wear pantyhose, isn’t it? And that’s just the little things.
And I’m tired of the medium things. I’m tired of the period cramps. The ones that wake you up at night and hurt so bad you want to vomit. The ones that make you sweat in class and clench your fists until they’re white and little crescent shape marks are left in your palms. I’ve seriously considered removing my uterus to make them stop because sometimes the cramps don’t stop. Fuck it, I’m just tired of periods. Of the ones that catch you off guard and the ones that show up a week late just to screw with you and you’re trying to do the math over and over again, while figuring out what might happen if you tell someone you’re late. What do you do? I’m tired of the label “feminist”. Because being a feminist makes me intolerable and not being a feminist makes me intolerable. Of everyone having an opinion over my opinion. Can we just make a new word? Let’s all just call ourselves, I don’t know, "sweet potato"? And "sweet potato" just means you want things to be equal because being a feminist is too hard when everyone keeps putting new labels on an old word and I can’t keep track of who I’m supposed to hate and what TV shows I can or can’t watch and which story I’m supposed to listen to. And from here on out I’m just "sweet potato".
I’m tired of being told that it’s good “for a girl” because what the hell does that mean? My skill level or intellect or determination is not something is defined by my ovaries, but by my experience and by my personality. If you want to say that I’m talented “for a beginner” or loud “for an introvert” that’s okay because those are valid reasons to be surprised, but “for a girl” is never something that should cross your lips. And that’s the medium things.
And I’m exhausted by the big things. I’m exhausted of walking on the well-lit side of the street. My feet hurt from taking the long way home, because the long way home is safer and I’m not an idiot. My hands hurt from holding my keys so tight when I walk. As if the small silver keys between my fingers will defend me because Lord knows my marshmallow-muscles are not going to be able to defend myself. I’m tired of being told, “You’re going to get the wrong kind of attention if you wear that”. Because I fucking paid for it so I’m going to wear it. Because I shouldn’t have to hide the fact that genetics gave me boobs and a waist because they did. I’m tired of the words, “slut” and “whore” and “bitch” because who has the right to label people that? I’m tired of being a prude for not going far enough and but a slut for going too far. I’m tired of trying to figure out which boys are the “good guys” and which boys are genuinely good guys. I’m fucking tired.
Because there are good guys. There are the boys who walk you home and get you Motrin for the cramps and keep tampons in their car for the periods that catch you off guard. And they get drowned out by the labelling of “good” vs. good and I've tried to figure it out on my own but I keep getting it wrong and I don't know what to do anymore.
And I don’t blame boys because I can’t. They don’t understand because they aren’t me. They can’t understand that the fear will drive you insane before the act even happens. They don’t know what it’s like to wear heels for 6 hours, or cat-called on your way home, or even worse, followed. They don’t know. So, I’m not upset that they don’t get it because how can they? And yes, maybe one day they’ll be on the wrong side of the street, but I can’t write for that experience because I’m writing for me.
And sometimes I want to scream and throw things but I’m worried that someone will call me hormonal. I want to talk about my feelings, but guys don’t do that so maybe I shouldn’t, and I want to ask for help but I can’t tell which boys are the right ones to be alone with. And writing this feels like I’m beating a dead horse because the women already know all this. The women already know about the mascara goop in you eyes and the cost of getting a wax and the feeling when nothing fits right and that moment when you’re in his apartment and you nearly stop to pray for a moment and say “please don’t let it be me tonight”. And maybe none of these things individually would break me, but they’re not individual. The small, the medium and the big things add up and crush your spine until you don’t just hurt from the cramps. And I get that we’re all moving forward, and things are getting better and yes, we all have it hard but I’m tired. I’m just tired.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
So, if you live under a social media rock and don’t know what today is, it’s Bell Let’s Talk Day. (Granted if you live under a social media rock, I’m not totally sure how you found my website.) A day to recognise those who struggle with mental health and reduce the stigma. I am very public about my struggles with mental health. My parents have always described me as an “anxious kid” and it’s possible I was always destined to battle my monsters. Nearly four years ago I was diagnosed with social anxiety, among other disorders, but I was having issues long before that
And over time I spoke with many professionals about this. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counsellors have all made appearances in my cycle of trying to find someone to help me. (I do have one consistent person I talk to now and she is an angel.)
Here’s my little disclaimer: Seek out professional help. The remainder of this post is not an excuse for you to not seek professional help if you need it. In the end, mental health professionals are the only people truly and genuinely qualified to help you manage these problems.
And yes, all those people were paid to help me. But, today, I would like to acknowledge all the people who get paid not a dime to help me and don’t waiver in their unconditional support.
I have an army of people in my life to support me. My family and friends are the true evidence that not all heroes wear capes. They take the brunt of my bad moods, panic attacks, depressive episodes, and just straight up intolerable behaviour. Today, I want to recognise them. Because as much as the mental health community suffers, and we do, the people who support us never get charities or 10K runs or fundraisers. They get a pat on the back and continue their day.
The people who truly and genuinely support those in crisis, not for professional reasons, but for love of the individual, are probably the only actual people in this world who get to make it to the pearly gates. Because it’s difficult; supporting someone can take the world out of you. Managing personal, day to day stress is exhausting, and then to tack on the struggles of someone else? Nearly impossible. But everyday these soldiers walk out into the world, bearing pains and battle scars of others
While there are the people who go to battle day in, day out with me – close friends and family members – I also want to recognise those who make small appearances and immeasurable impacts. Sometimes small gestures, small acts of kindness, can change everything. They can pull you out of your bubble and make you realise that all in all, the world is not a horrible place. The strangers who see you crying on a bus and ask if you’re okay. That not-so-close friend who honours your trust when you let them know that you’re struggling. The co-worker who picks up your shift when you can’t make it into work. All these people support the pillars of my mental health, and I bet they support yours as well.
Supporting those in crisis is mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially draining. I will spend the rest of my life trying to pay back the people who have contributed to my life and I don’t think I will ever be able to. How do you thank someone for changing your world? If you figure it out let me know. Because while I have found immeasurable strength on my own this is only to the credit of those who showed me that there was strength to be found.
So today, while we honour those who struggle with mental health, I encourage you to honour the individuals who support you. Let them know you appreciate their kindness, their ability to be strong for you in moments of weakness. Their love and care and consideration. Recognise them because they are worn too. Remember that every time you suit up to take on the world, they suit up beside you. They ride hand in hand into combat with you everyday and that is no easy feat.
So, here’s what I want to say:
Thank you. I am who I am because of you. And I would rather have nothing in this life and have you guys than have anything at all. You reminded me that losing doesn’t mean that there is no winning. You taught me to forgive myself and reminded me that I am worth my own love. Any success I have in my life I share with you. Thank you for long nights and early mornings; for bringing logic back into a world where nothing made sense. This is nowhere near the full appreciation you deserve, but it’s a start. You are incredible and please remember to take care of yourselves with the kindness that you have offered me. Thank you.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Liking someone is the worst. Like, really liking someone. You know, in that grade school way, when your friends would ask you if you like like someone? It's the worst. Having a crush is just a childish way to say unreciprocated feelings. And anyone who has ever liked anyone knows that unreciprocated feelings hurt like a bitch.
But how do you know that they're unreciprocated? In some ways you never really know. You can beat around the bush forever trying in interpret poorly communicated signals. You can dip your toes in the water over and over again trying to figure out what the other person meant. Did they mean to brush your hand? Do they see that memory as significant too? Do they miss you like you miss them? You can sit with your friends and reread text messages until you go blind trying to figure out if someone likes you, and you may never actually know the answer. You could just be two people running in circles never actually meeting.
Unless you shoot your shot. And for those of you who don't know the phrase, "to shoot your shot" is a verb and it means to just outright let someone know how you feel. To just ask someone out, tell them how you feel and pray to the good Lord that they say the same thing. I've shot my shot before. I did it with my ex, I called him while I was on vacation and just told him I was into him and if he felt the same way that was great and if not then that was okay too. I proceeded to immediately hang up the phone and leave my phone for two hours on "do not disturb". Why? Because part of me didn't want to know the answer, it was a Schrodinger's cat situation; if I put it out there and never heard the answer I couldn't receive a "no". I was quaking in my boots and I still get a little butterfly-ish thinking about it. I still get butterfly-ish if I shoot my shot today. Because what if you get shot down?
What if you build up the courage and you shoot and completely miss the target? And man, I've missed before. I've shot my shot and missed so bad. Like trying to hit a moving target, blindfolded, riding a horse. It hurts; it kind of takes the wind out of you. It's like a bad hangover, it rattles in your brain and makes your stomach turn and you keep thinking, "what if I waited? Maybe I jumped the gun and if I gave it more time they would've fallen for me?"
Being honest with you, they probably won't. And I hate saying that, because there have definitely been times in my past, my present and likely in my future where I've been waiting on a guys to realise I'm a damn treat. But they're never going to see me that way. And why do I want people who don't see me that way? I don't know. The older I get the more I think I know nothing. But if you've had enough time to develop feelings and sit on them and dwell on them and they haven't done the same thing, they probably won't. And it's not because you're wrong, it's not even because they're wrong, it's because...well I don't know. But sometimes people just don't work out.
However, back to my original point, you never really know where someone is at until you shoot your shot. And you could sit around waiting for them to shoot their's, but what good is that doing anyone? Plus, if you don't have the courage to shoot, why would they? And girls, we are the biggest culprits in this scenario. Yes, years of female suppression have led to a twisted patriarchy, and woot woot, go feminism. But we have to be honest with ourselves and recognise in this scenario, guys are really getting the short end of the stick. We always expect them to whisk us off our feet and ask us out. But if you won't do it, why do you expect them to?
But coming from someone who's done it before, trust me, it's better than waiting, because at least you know. If it's a yes you get to ride off into the sunset together and if not, it's closure. It's the closure that everyone is looking for. In the age of "ghosting" being a (somehow) acceptable form of dating etiquette, closure is more than most of us get. And sure, for a couple days you might wake up with an emotional hangover but in time I promise it will be better.
So what inspired this little rampage? The other day my friend shot her shot with a guy she's into. And I mean really shot her shot. And I was proud of her. She saw something she wanted and she went for it. She saw someone who made her feel amazing and outstanding (which she is) and she let him know. When it comes down to it that's the best thing you can do. Just do it (sponsored by Nike?).
So my goal for 2020 for all of you is to shoot your shot. Quit waiting on your feelings, go out there and take a risk. I know that's a big ask, but it's a big year. I've got some feelings I've definitely been sitting on and maybe I'll shoot my shot too. Hopefully this time I won't be trying to hit a moving target, blindfolded, riding a horse. I mean, aren't you tired of waiting around on people to tell you that you're special? You are a damn treat so go after the things you want and happy 2020.
From me, with love, to you,
I moved out west and took on the city as a child
Ladies and gentlemen,
I've talked a lot about living in Vancouver. And right now I love it; I will weep like a war widow the day I need to leave and that's for one reason and one reason alone. My program. Being in behavioural neuroscience constantly makes me feel like an idiot, I feel out of place and I am genuinely unsure how to incorporate it into a career that doesn't make me want to drink bleach. The program at UBC is really poorly designed, the content is interesting but so hard I might as well be reading it in Mandarin and half the time I'm so stressed I want to vomit.
That's when I met you, and nothing was the same
However, in spite of all the awful, being in neuroscience gave me my friends. In second year I was still struggling to be a human being and when I met a group of incredible women. I cannot describe to you how difficult I was to be friends with. I was a nutcase, I was flaky, I was not very kind. And I would love to blame this all on my anxiety, but a lot of it was on me. I knew I had mental health issues, I just simply chose to manage them in the worst ways possible.
But these women took me in. When I missed class because I was too anxious (which was a lot), they would send me notes. They studied before exams with me; they taught and retaught material until I had a vague grasp on the concept rather than just letting me walk blindly into a poor grade. They were and still are relentless in their support.
So I don't say 'thank you', cause that's not enough
But most of all, they made me feel normal. To so many people I was fragile but they never treated me that way. My bad decisions were still roasted beyond belief. They are not afraid to retell my embarrassing stories and never fail to point out my mistakes.
And I can't thank them enough. There is nothing I can do in this world to pay them back for the life they have given me. They made me feel normal when the entire world felt unfamiliar. It's more than that, they come to every show I have, they know the stories of my life inside and out, we still study for every exam together. I have spent an immeasurable number of hours with them and I truly and honestly wouldn't change that.
I will wear you on my sleeve wherever I may go
You took my worst decision and made it my home
I understand that in graduating and moving back to Toronto I run the risk of losing them. But I genuinely can't see that happening. And you can call me naive (which I might be), but I can no longer imagine not having them in my life. I truly almost dropped out of UBC many times. There were full months that I made plans to transfer schools, to move back to Toronto. But I didn't, because I was able to find a family on the other coast. Before them I referred to going back to school as "going back to school" and it wasn't until about the middle to end of second year I started referring to Vancouver as "home".
So yes, by moving back I may not see them as often as I do currently but in no way will I lose them. I created a second life in a second city and just because I leave doesn't mean I lose that part of myself. I'm bringing it with me into the next chapter of my life. It's like I said in my New Year's Eve post, I'm bringing me into 2020. And I don't think I would be the me I am right now without my friends.
All the love you gave me, here in the west
So, I have five months left in Vancouver before I need to be a big kid, and you can be sure I will use every moment of that. And for anyone who will be seeing me play, I've replaced the last song in my set list. I've been playing "Home" as my last song for as long as I can remember, and I still love the song. But I've outgrown that phase of my life. "West" is more representative of me, my life and my music. So get ready to hear it.
From me, with love, to you,
P.S. Listen to the new song below!
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel like we need to chat.
SO, over the last little bit this here public diary of mine has been getting a bit more traction. And in no way am I upset about this; I am so appreciative of all the people who have started/continue reading my posts. I remember when it was proposed I write a blog I shat all over the idea. However, with time, I've taken to it. I've always liked writing; writing stories, music, poems and, apparently, blogs. None of the stories I ever tell are fictional. I stick to the truth because that's the only way to get others to tell you the truth. And if I started bending stories in my more light-hearted posts, how would I have any credibility when I started writing about mental health or self-image or other more serious topics? I wouldn't.
However, this is all still my opinion. There are no citations, this blog is made up of personal anecdotes and the inner workings of my mind. But just because it’s my opinion, that doesn’t mean that I take it lightly. I send it to my sisters, my friends, sometimes my mom proofreads them. This post will be read by six people and rewritten four times before it makes it out to a public platform. Why? Because this blog is still part of my professional platform as a musician and I treat it as such, I never want to post something just for the sake of. I want to post something to say something. I write about mental health because I think it's important to talk about. I write about problems in my life because I want to let people know that I'm going through the same thing. I write about people because, well, everyone interacts with people?
But in light of more traction, I really should’ve seen recent events coming. Because with more with more traction, you risk offending more people. This public diary started off as only being read by my friends and family. People who hear me speak in real life. Who understand that I like to tell jokes. Who see the sentences I type and go "Oh and I know exactly how that is being phrased"; but people are now reading it who haven't heard me speak. And it make sense that they don't get that I'm making jokes because they have never actually heard me speak.
So, in hopes of clarifying old posts and future posts, we're going to break down two posts that I've been getting some…feedback… about, to make sure we're all on the same page from here on out:
Men are Trash: Okay. Boys. I feel like we just need to re-take a look at the tone of voice I used in this piece. I meant it purely and 100% in a comedic tone of voice. I don't genuinely think all men are trash, but “men can be trash” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Moreover, this post came from specific instances in my life. Reason #1 came from the story I told in the post. Reason #2 came from a conversation I had with my cousin. Reason #3 came from a boy I had been...friendly.... with early in the year. 1, 2, 3. And upon telling these stories to my friends, who were also interested in the XY chromosome individuals, I found they shared similar experiences. So I wanted to share this because I feel like maybe other people could relate.
I didn't write, post or repost this post to create a male-witch hunt. It's not the 1600's and witches aren't real. I wrote this post for my readers who were frustrated about looking for men and felt like they were constantly coming up short. I wrote this in the same way you commiserate with friends over drinks at a bar.
Men aren’t actually trash. They can be. So can women. We are all trash from day to day.
The Reason I Don't Want to Go Home For the Holidays: Also comedic, but I wrote this to let other students know that I was nervous to go home. I was nervous to tell my friends and family “I want to be a musician” because it felt like saying “I want to be a pretty princess”. Statistically, the odds are the same.
No, I don’t actually hate going home. The title was overdramatic to grab your attention (which I mentioned), and trust me, it grabbed attention. The point of it was just to identify how stressful it can be expressing overly aspirational career goals. It wasn't about the adults in my life, it was about the students.
So. I'm not going to take these posts back, because they’re my opinion. And you don’t have to agree with my opinion, because it’s mine not yours. But please remember, this isn’t a real, credible source of information, unless you want information about me. This is for fun. Read this for fun. Read this because you enjoy it, because you want to support me.
And maybe this is all my fault. I mix up my heavy and my light posts. But that's because this would be fucking depressing if I just talked about depression. If you guys want, I can start putting big notices at the top saying "sarcastic" or "serious", but that seems like a bit of a buzzkill doesn't it? I'm sorry if you got offended. But I’m beginning to learn I can’t make everyone happy. If I talked about puppies, people would be upset I’m not talking about kittens. If I talk about drinking tea, the coffee drinkers will feel left out.
Don't be offended by my opinion because I'm just a 21 year old who is using this website to vent into the open void that is the internet. But I can’t say that I’m going to stop writing, because it makes me genuinely happy. It makes me genuinely happy when people can find comfort in the things I’m saying, and they do. Or at least, they tell me that they do. I do these things because it relieves stress and life is stressful.
Growing up, my mama had one phrase in her arsenal she used over and over again:
"If it wasn't meant to be mean, don't take it that way"
And my mama is a very smart woman. Listen to my mama. This website is meant to be a fun place (maybe a little sad when I talk about anxiety...but mainly fun). So, treat it that way. But it can also be a discussion if you want. There's a comment section at the bottom of every post, so fucking go for it. I mean...I am.
So that's all I wanted to say. I'm going to return to my regular scheduled programming now.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
So it's the end of a decade and I'm unsure what to write about. I thought a lot about writing "what has changed in the last decade", however when I started jotting down ideas I realised that nothing is the same since 2010. In 2010 I was 11 and this year I'm 21, of course nothing is the same. So, moving on.
Reflecting on my last year seemed too mundane for the end of a decade, I could do that any year, I will probably do that next year. Or talk about the year ahead. But I did a poll on my Instagram and it turns out people are NOT a fan of New Year's resolutions. I even thought about "what got away from me in the last decade," but I was ELEVEN years old at the beginning of the decade, so the things that got away from me at the beginning of the decade were more like "recess" and "a long division quiz" than life experiences.
So, I was back to square one when I talked to my mama and she finally inspired me. What do I want to remember in 10 years? I mean, in 10 years I'm going to 31 and wildly famous so I might need a reality check (teeheehee). But in all honesty, I love my life right now and the idea of it changing terrifies me. I love it to a point that it's probably frustrating to hear me talk about it. I feel level headed and steady and, most importantly, happy. I would give everything to be 21 for more time than I have; but I don't have that option, so my only option is to try and take the best parts of my life forward with me.
I want to still have music in my life. Not even in a "my own music" capacity. I want my own music in my life, of course, but I just want to bask in the world that is music for the next ten years. I want it to be filled with kitchen dance parties, car ride sing-a-longs and shower karaoke. I want to hear new songs and remember old songs. I want new favourite songs, new movie soundtracks, new cover songs on my guitar, and even crappy, short-lived billboard-toppers. And I want to relearn old songs; I want to remember the lyrics to my favourite songs now. I want to watch music go from on-trend, to out-of-date, to a throwback. I want to keep writing about love and loss and life. I want all these things for myself for the next 10 years and I don't think that's too much to ask for.
I want my people. I want my girls from university, who have dragged my ass through school for the last couple years. The girls who have been life-changing in ways that are overwhelming to describe. The girls who come to every show and watch me grow and change in real time. I want my friends from home; from work, from school, from childhood. The people who make Toronto home more than any city in the whole world. The people who make sure I don't blow my brains out working retail. The people who spend more than their fair share of time listening to stupid boy problems. My cousin who provides me with more entertaining stories than any other human on this planet. My best friend who couldn't get rid of me if she tried and has taught me more about loyalty and kindness than anyone else in the whole world. My family. My mom who showed me what love is and reminds me everyday that I'm me and that's enough. My dad who taught me logic and insight and despite not always understanding the way I work, taking on the task of trying to figure it out. My sisters. Just, the most beyond amazing people who have no right being as incredible as they are. Some people meet a couple great people in their life, and my life is overflowing with remarkable people and I want to bring them all with me into the next 10 years. My life is amazing because I've made it amazing, but it's only worth having an amazing life if you have people to share it with.
And inevitably as 2020 comes to an end, I have no choice but looking at the last 10 years (I know I said I wouldn't but I'm doing it anyways). The 2010's taught me the most horrendous life lessons. I learned what it's liked to lose the people you love the most. I learned what it's like to lose yourself. To give up. I learned what it's like to want any life that is not your own. I spent years in a downward spiral, and learned the terrifying reality of my first heartbreak. I learned that the people you let into your life can hurt you the most, and that nobody will hold your hand in this world.
But in spite of the horrible and the awful and the cruel I would relive it all. I would live the horrors again to learn the lessons and to grow. I would experience the pain of lost loved ones again to have more moments with them. I would go through my first heartbreak one more time just to know what it feels like to be truly and genuinely loved by someone else. I would struggle with the hopelessness of mental health again teach others that struggling is okay. I don't want to forget everything I've learned, and everything I've become. I want to bring myself forward.
And going into the next decade that's all I can really hope for, music, my people and myself. And I know that I look at the next ten years with rose coloured glasses. As I get older and life gets more complicated, I can't expect things to stay the same. In fact, things will likely get harder and that's a near-guarantee. Life will, at some points, suck. But I know that no matter the bag of bullshit I find myself swimming in, that this life is indeed, pretty great. And I think for the next 10 years, if I can keep that in my back pocket, I'll turn out just fine.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
OKAY. Don't worry, I know you're all busy with your families but I wanted to get a little blurb out before New Year's Eve is officially upon us. I looked at my New Year's goals for 2019, which I made almost 365 days ago. I have previously reviewed them in the summer - halfway through the year - and it's time to see what I accomplished. Let's judge myself.
My goals in no particular prioritized order were:
1) Live a more healthy lifestyle
2) Grow my social media platform
3) Get better grades
4) Release new music
Four goals, 365 days. Shouldn't have been that hard...right?
1) Live a more healthy lifestyle:
Okay. So I somehow succeeded and shat the bed here simultaneously. I worked out less this year than I did in 2018, especially since I just don't work out at all, however I am eating a lot better. I eat a lot less fast food and a lot less sugar. So I think my net input is about zero.
I would have loved to work out more (okay, that's a lie, I should have worked out more). It just is such a low priority for me that I make time to do everything else before I workout. Write a blog post, write music, study, cook, sleep, shower, pamper myself, and get slapped in the face all rank higher than going to the gym. However, I've finally built up a lululemon collection and might want to start wearing it to do more than sit around the house.
2) Grow my social media platform:
I did see a lot of growth which I'm stoked about. I was a little ambitious in terms of the kind of growth I wanted to see, but I definitely was successful. My Instagram feed it my pride and joy, and it finally looks like one cohesive unit. I did create a teeny, tiny Twitter account which makes me cringe, cry and question all my inner thoughts to a point of insanity. But what's social media for if not to criticize yourself? I'll call that one a success.
If I'm being completely honest, I've seen the biggest growth in my website. I'm trafficking much higher numbers than I used to and people are responding to my posts. I don't do it for the positive feedback, but I can't say that I don't enjoy it.
3) Get better grades:
Y'all. Y'ALL. I fucking slayed it. Not to flex, but I got really smart this year and I have the GPA increase to prove it. Turns out if you turn off Netflix and study instead you actually do better in school. Fun fact.
4) Release new music:
I'm actually kind of on track here too. I wasn't able to come up with the money or time to produce a single because I'm still in school and need to pay for rent and groceries, but I'm gearing up for 2020 and when I graduate I plan to hit the ground running. I did get three songs out (Steady, I Just Want to Be Loved and The Train) which I'm incredibly proud of because being in neuroscience kind of screws me in the free-time aspect of my life. Moreover, the new music I've been playing at my shows have been performing really well. I am more than excited to release new music. It's more mature, more exciting and I feel like it suits me more. Get stoked. I am.
SO there we go, not everything was a glowing success (**cough** working out **cough**) but overall I hit most of my marks in terms of what I wanted to do this year. I just want to throw out there that I appreciate everyone who has watched me struggle through my four goals for the last year and I'm ready for the next year to get started. Now, get off your screens and go have fun with your families. That's my plan.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
So no matter what you celebrate, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the solstice, New Year's Eve, National Flashlight Day (that's a real holiday, I had to look it up), this is a "celebrating" time of year. And do you know what celebrating means? It means you're gonna be posting on Instagram in your cute little holiday sweaters and wearing red lipstick. It's Holiday-stagram time (it's not a thing, but I'm making it a thing).
And when you post these photos, I have one question for you: do you edit your photos? And no, I don't mean throw an Instagram filter on there, adjust the brightness and call it a day. I mean the real editing. Booty-touch-ups, acne erasing photos; the edits that make your legs longer and your face thinner. I'm talking getting rid of that weird bump in your sweater that makes it look like you have a third boob, but your friend didn't point it out to you at the time, so now you have to work some magic to de-third-boob yourself. Those kinds of edits. There are truly two and only two answers to this question: Yes or No. And I'm going to explain why both those are okay answers.
Disclaimer: I have fallen on both sides of the yes/no line. There have been days I'm appalled that people use editing apps and days I thank the good Lord he blessed us with app developers so someone could make FaceTune. So I hold no judgement in whatever you choose to do. Also, for the remainder of this post I'm going to talk mainly about women because if you couldn't tell, I am a woman and I only have experience with women things. I understand that body image issues are not limited to women, but I am limited to a woman's experience and I don't want to make assumptions. Okay, here we go.
Answer #1: Yes. This is the answer a lot of you may have, even if you don't admit to it. And in order to make you feel comfortable, I'm going to be honest. I edit some of my photos. Why? Because I look like I dropped out of the Biggest Loser a week too early, and there are days when that makes me really sad. And yes I GET IT. I could just go put in work at the gym and look better but here is the cold hard truth, I DON'T WANT TO. I have tried all the sports, all the workout classes, I have gone through phases where I am in good shape and I never get to that point that people keep telling me about. The "Oh! But if you go enough you're actually going to like it" place. That place doesn't exist for me and I would 2,000% rather go write music to de-stress than lift a bunch of heavy stuff in a sweaty gym.
Plus, I get a bunch of my photos from photographers and I don't know what they do to the photos before I get them. For all I know they could fine tune every hair in my eye brows. So yes, some of my photos are edited, And they're not always bathing suit photos or summer photos, sometimes I see a photo, mid-winter and I can't stand my legs. And I know that nobody will comment "you're legs look like two under cooked sausages", but I feel like people will think it, so I open up an app and make myself feel better for 20 seconds.
Is that wrong? In some ways yes and in some ways no. It perpetuates the stereotype that all women need to look one way and that can be really dangerous but at the same time if the world is hard and I make it easier for just a second, is that a bad thing? I don't know.
No: This is the easier stance to take publicly. The feminist, "we are all beautiful" stance that we want to take all the time, even when the going gets tough. And I take this stance a lot too, there are photos of me at my cottage in a bathing suit and I see them and I'm like a) I look super hot and b) this is me and I don't really care if you care, I'm stoked about me. AND THAT'S FUCKING AWESOME. I should feel great about me. I am a damn treat.
But don't get self-righteous about saying "no", because if you shame the women who do feel the need to edit their photos, then how does that make you any better than the societal pressure that puts her in that place? Let her do her. And I think that there are times that editing photos is okay. Story time:
This summer my sister and I went for a walk and I took some cute photos. Now the way she was standing in one photo made her dress pull in a certain way and it looked like...how do I say this tactfully?...It looked like she had a dick. So she chose to edit out the dick-looking-spot because it made her feel uncomfortable. (Yes, I had to get her permission to tell this story.)
Now, do I think this is a bad thing? NO. She saw something that was a little uncomfortable and didn't actually represent the reality of the situation. She chose to just go, "hmmmmmm....no I don't want to look like I'm hiding a Pringles can between my legs" and that is a-okay.
Maybe you feel really confident and my love, I am so proud of you, but not everybody else is. And in order to reach Lizzo-levels of confident some of us need to tell white lies to ourselves and that's okay every once in a while.
And yes, you can come after me and explain that this is part of a bigger systemic issue and that we're teaching young girls unrealistic beauty standards and I get that. I grew up in this world, I know how hard it can be. But we're not going to fix it overnight. It's going to be a long haul we are fighting an uphill battle. So for this Holiday Season I ask for one gift from the Yes-people and one gift from the No-people:
Yes-people: I get that it can be tempting to edit photos. I've caved before. But you look HOT. Do you know why? Because you're being confident about your authentic self when you post unedited pics and that's HOT. I have faith in you. You should have faith in you too. And I'm not saying don't edit any pictures ever. Cold turkey is difficult and change is a slow process. Just stop editing one or two? See how it feels and dip your toes in the water.
No-people: Do not take a big fat dump on my yes-people. They are trying their best and shaming them or belittling them for editing photos doesn't get us anywhere. Them editing photos comes from a long history of cultural pressure to appear a certain way. You can feel more than welcome to let them know that they look beautiful in real life, everyday. But please, help them take the steps they need to feel beautiful rather than ridiculing them for not feeling beautiful.
And how about this. From here on out I will stop editing photos. No matter how tempting it is to edit a belly or a thigh, I will scrap edits that perpetuate this toxic culture of "less-than" among women. Frankly, I'm a little terrified to do this because it feels so exposing, but asking for your honesty without contributing my own feels really hypocritical. It might not do anything because this is a bigger issue we're talking about but it's got to start somewhere. Y'all are damn treats and I hope you enjoy eating all the damn treats this holiday season because you know I will.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I'm sure the title of this post gave my mom a small heart attack. And fair, it's a little over dramatic. But it got you here, didn't it? It's less that I don't want to go home for the holidays, and more that there is a small caveat that keeps me from being fully immersed in the idea of going back to Toronto.
Because of this caveat, I would like to direct this post primarily at my older readers (and dedicate it to all my graduating readers). I know you're out there; my aunts, my uncles, my family friends, and the other individuals who have stumbled their way on to this page. This is for you. Okay, now that I've beaten around the bush enough, I guess it's time to release the tension and let you know why I'm a little hung up on this idea of going home.
When I go home for the holidays, there are a series of social events to attend. Traditions of Christmas parties and holiday festivities that I am so excited to participate in. I get to see so many people that I only see once or twice a year. However, considering I rarely see all of these people there is an obligatory amount of small talk that goes on. And adults love to ask a very specific question to university students:
So, what are you going to do when you graduate?
And I will answer it right now:
I have no fucking idea.
How "no idea"? Only the unique amount of uncertainty that comes with having a degree in a field you have no intent in pursuing. The kind of uncertainty that make you physically nauseous and you're pretty sure you just spent ungodly amounts of money to walk across a stage so a stranger can hand you a very expensive piece of paper. That kind of uncertainty.
And I’ve heard all the follow up questions. The most common being “if you don’t want to go into neuroscience, why are you getting a degree in neuroscience?” And to that I say, thank you reader, that is a very insightful question. However, I am not as insightful. At 17 years old, my infantile brain thought that I was interested in neuroscience when in reality, I was interested in the idea of neuroscience. Same way that I think gravity is a pretty cool concept and I love being secured to the earth, but I have zero interest in studying physics.
And sure, I could take my degree and try to go get a job in science. But what job? With what company? In what field? Being frank, a bachelor’s degree in science is in no way a legitimate degree. A BSc in the world of science is like a gold sticker on your test in elementary school. You had to do something to earn it, but in the grand scheme of things nobody is going to take it seriously. To do anything legitimate and lucrative (haha, just kidding there are no lucrative careers in science) I would need to go get a master’s degree.
Why don’t I get a master’s degree? First of all, I don’t know if you’re just sitting on $15,000, but I very much am not. My back account looks less like a phone number and more like a GPA. Plus, I’m not even sure what I would take my master’s in. Or what I would do with a master’s once I get it. I would just have another expensive piece of paper and no idea for a job. No master’s. Maybe at one point, but definitely not yet.
And if I'm being totally honest, I know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. Music. I want to write and perform and work on my website because it makes me so unequivocally happy. It's the same reason I'm writing this instead of studying for my finals (oops?). I want to spend the next 60 years working on music and I would give my left kidney to do that. But right now, what I’m doing falls more under “passion project” then “sustainable career”. I want to write music more than anything else in the entire world, I’m just trying to figure out how to turn that into my real-life job.
So, yes. I am excited to go home. I am excited to see my aunts, my uncles, my family friends, and the other individuals who have stumbled their way on to this page. However, please, for the love of Christ himself on this holy holiday, do not ask me what I’m doing in May. I just told you my answer.
From me, with love, to you,
What's going on?
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