On being vulnerable

This is a cop out post because I’m really just posting a TED Talk, but I’ll give it a bit of a preface:

I suck at being vulnerable. I can handle pain and stress and grief. I can be perky even when I’m tired and I can talk to just about anyone. But what I didn’t really realize until watching this is that what I really struggle with is allowing people to see me with all of my faults. I spend a lot of time putting on facades. I guess we all do to some degree. The difference is that I don’t know how to go without them. I like people to see me as this sunshiny, smart, determined, witty, put together girl. Even my close friends and family. Maybe especially them. The idea of the people I care about seeing all of my fears and insecurities scares me so much. I know they’ll love me anyway, but I still don’t want them to think of me that way. I guess mostly I don’t want their pity.

Brene Brown says that we need to be vulnerable in order to connect with people, and I can feel intuitively that she’s right. I just don’t know if I can do it. Being with Nob is amazing, but also terrifying because he sees through my facade. He just has this way of knowing when I’m nervous or scared or worried even when my smile fools everyone else. It’s one of the things I like about him, but it also freaks me out. Part of me just wants to push him away when he gets too close to knowing the real me.

Anyway, check out this video. Even if it doesn’t reveal deep-seeded issues the way it did for me, it’s also just really entertaining and informative.

 

But seriously what is with St. Patrick’s Day?

I was so not prepared for yesterday.

I was not prepared for all of the people drunk at 8am. I’m not even conscious at 8am. Why would I drink alcohol that early? It’s a depressant for goodness sakes.

I was certainly not prepared for all the tacky green dollar store St. Patrick’s Day gear everyone was wearing. It’s the kind of junk you would never be caught with sober, but apparently drunk people this it’s the best thing ever. My green t shirt is not enough, they think (I’m assuming). I also need six strings of green plastic beads, a green hat that keeps falling off due to my drunken stumbling, and green sunglasses I keep trying to put on other people’s faces but I actually just poke them in the eye.

I mean, I live in a university dorm. I’m pretty used to people drinking a lot, and to be honest, I drink pretty damn often. I’ve definitely gotten drunk on a Monday night before. But I still don’t get the mass hysteria around St. Patrick’s Day. Why is it so important to drink that exact night? And why so much? Because the thing is that no one got fun drunk last night. Everyone got where-are-my-pants blackout worst-hangover-of-your-life how-did-I-even-get-home drunk. Everyone. On the same night. Half of my friend’s Spanish class took their midterm while sipping green beer out of their water bottles. A different friend has band aids all over her hands from a fall she doesn’t remember. When I was walking down the stairs of my dorm last night I ran into a guy who was unzipping his pants to pee over the railing. I politely asked him to wait until I was gone before he did it.

And what did I do last night? I studied. Yep, nerd alert. Then my friend texted me that she had just broken up with her boyfriend, so I went over with an armload of candy. Honestly, even spending the night with my econ textbook and my sobbing friend still seems more appealing than making poor decisions wearing a lot of plastic green things.

God, I sound really old.

What every student should know about university residence

-It will be loud. All the time. “Quiet hours” are a lie, so if doors slamming, yelling, or drunken yodelling bother you, invest in earplugs

-People on your floor know everything about your life. Even if you’ve never talked to them. A girl from down the hall once came up to me and was like, “Who’s that guy you always have over? He’s really cute. Are you dating him? You should date him.” That was the first conversation I’d ever had with her.

-Everything will smell like weed always

-Don’t try to get anything done on Thursday nights

-There will always be someone drinking. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, and even during finals. Okay, especially during finals.

-Everyone’s fridges really only end up containing alcohol and maybe some hummus. Hummus makes really good drunk food.

-There will always be someone drinking their seventh cup of coffee

-There will always be that person who never gets out of their pyjamas, and as far as you know, never goes to class. Is there a degree in playing video games I don’t know about?

-In spite of the fact that you all live a few feet away from each other, people play online video games together in separate rooms

-At any given second someone is always saying “I should be doing school work right now” while watching youtube videos, playing video games, or just lying in bed doing absolutely nothing

-Half the floor is always sick. I swear, we just pass the same cold back and forth over and over

-No one knows where the library is

-Like three people on the floor know how to do laundry and they have to teach everyone else. Scratch that. All of the girls know how to do laundry and like three of the guys do. Not sexist if it’s true.

-No one has ever attempted to clean their bathroom

-The vacuum has been used maybe four times. Two out of four times were to vacuum up puke.

On debating

I really never wanted to join the university debate club. I just wanted to go to IKEA. No, actually, that’s how it happened.

And yet, I’ve spent three of the last four weekends at debate tournaments, and almost all of my friends in university belong to debate. We literally go to other universities, stand in rooms, and talk for hours. And then we do it again the next day. With this in mind, I think it’s very valid to ask, how the hell did this happen? What the hell am I doing with my life? Let me explain.

I met Lena (I asked her which character she related with in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and she picked Lena, so that’s now her name) because she lived down the hall from me in residence. My first impression of her was that she was a bit too much a try hard, with her tailored blazers and little pencil skirts. Like geez, this is a dorm, not the UN. She was fun to talk to  though, and frankly, I had met very few people on my floor who I actually wanted to hang out with. Most of the rest were engineering students who alternated between doing physics, playing video games, and watching hockey, which are basically my three least favourite things.

So when Lena invited me to go on this special student shuttle to IKEA one night a couple weeks into school, I was down. I figured it would at least be something to do. The hitch was that Lena had to make a detour before we left. She promised it wouldn’t take more than an hour, she just had to go to this meeting thing.

Sure, I thought. I didn’t really have anything better to do. It was the second week of university so I didn’t really even have homework yet.

The “meeting thing” turned out to be a debate club meeting, and Lena, it turned out, was on the Canadian national team for high school debate. In other words, she was kind of a big deal in the debate community. When she showed up at the meeting members of the club already knew who she was.

I found all of this news mildly bemusing. I thought it was funny that there was a “debate community” and a national team and everything. I mean seriously, it’s just people arguing. How intense could it really be?

Super intense, as it turned out. At the meeting, the senior members did a demo round to show what debate was like in university. Not only was it intense, but it was also really interesting, and smart and…entertaining. I never would have seen that coming. What honestly drew me in was that all the debaters just looked like they were having such a good time. There they were, standing up talking about smart things, but also adding in jokes and good natured teasing. The debate I saw was about whether a total surveillance state was a good idea, and the debaters made jokes about their rights to watch BDSM porn in the privacy of their own home. They actually had the whole room laughing by the end.

When we left to go to IKEA, Lena told me straight up that she wouldn’t be offended if I told her I thought it was stupid. She said she new debating was kind of a ridiculous use of her time, but that it was something she had done for a really long time and she personally enjoyed it. I think I shocked her when I said that I was interested in going to the next meeting.

It just kind of snowballed from there. I went to the next meeting, then to a full day training session for beginners, then to one tournament, then another. At this point I think I’ve spent about a quarter of my weekends in university at debate tournaments.

It’s worth noting that not only am I not very good at debating, but I also don’t particularly care about becoming any good. For me it’s just about being around people who want to talk about important issues. The way one debate friend described it was that debaters don’t just talk about the “whats” in life-what you want to do, what you like, what you want to be-but also the “whys.” Debate is about calling your beliefs into question; you have to justify your choices and your reasoning. We don’t just talk like that in debates, but outside of them too.

I think the idea of thinking “whys” appeals to me because I’ve always thought like that. It’s a characteristic that shows in my writing, especially in this blog. I tend to write about something that happened, then how I feel about it, then speculate as to why I feel that way. What’s cool is that now I have a group of friends to talk like this with, instead of just turning over these thoughts in my own brain.

I’ve become close with four girls in debate, all first years.  What’s funny is even though I’ve only known them for a few months, I already feel as close to them as I do with friends I’ve known for years. Maybe it’s because residence forces people to become close. Maybe it’s because we’ve already spent so many weekends together for debate. Maybe it’s just the massive amount of wine we consume together. Whatever the reason, I’ve found people I belong with here. That’s a pretty special thing.

The weight room

I’m weight training again. That’s not something I really expected to say three months into university. I always knew that I would keep playing soccer after I left home because I still love it, and also because after thirteen years of playing constantly I don’t really know how to stop.

Soccer is fun though; weight training is not. In the kind of training we did for soccer, our trainer would run us on treadmills at a sprint thirty seconds on, thirty seconds off, until our legs felt like jello and our stomachs felt queasy. Then came lunges with twenty-five pounds in each hand, and as the season progressed twenty-five would turn to thirty which would turn to thirty five. Then there were some squats with more weights, and then some jumping between sets just to make sure that you could fully appreciate the pain coursing through your muscles. Then came ab workouts if we were lucky, arms if we weren’t. Our trainer liked to end each session with this sadistic game involving a deck of cards. He would draw a card and one of us would guess the number. He would show us the number and we would do the amount of pushups equal to the difference between it and our guess. We went through the whole deck before we got to leave.

So yes, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I never enjoyed weight training. The only good part was doing it with my teammates. We would help each other get through the reps by catching up on gossip. Yeah, that’s right, we talked about boys while we bench pressed. Some of the best talks I’ve had with my teammates happened in the weight room  while lugging barbells.

Without my team and a season to train for, I figured that I had no reason to continue lifting once I arrived at university. I signed up for an intramural soccer team that plays once a week and figured that would be all I’d feel up for. I don’t know what I thought; I guess that  I’d be busy studying and partying. I didn’t think I’d miss soccer practice four and five times a week, and I certainly didn’t think I’d miss the weight room.

I was wrong.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wondering why my sleep cycle is so screwed up. In the first month of school I stayed up late a lot partying, and the month after that was midterms so then I was staying up studying. So it wasn’t until November that I realized that I actually can’t go to sleep before 2am even if I want to. I guess this is partially just a habit now, but I also realized that when I go to bed at night I still have so much energy left. I mean, really all I do in a day is sit in class, eat, and then sit some more in my dorm room studying. Sometimes I switch it up and also go to debate club and sit there. It’s no wonder I can’t sleep.

That’s why I decided to go to the gym today. Just to run, I told myself. It’s too cold to run outside, so I’ll use a treadmill at the gym on campus.

Except the thing is that old habits die hard. Even though I’m really out of shape, I couldn’t just jog on the treadmill. I kept upping my speed and my incline to keep myself challenged. I wasn’t content, it seemed, until my legs and my lungs were both burning. Then (and this is where it gets stranger) I strolled over to the free weights and started doing lunges. I have no idea why. I don’t train on a competitive soccer team anymore. There is no logical reason at all for me to need leg muscles the size of bowling balls just to sit around and write history papers and econ assignments. The treadmill made sense; cardio is important for healthy living and whatever. Weights, however, are just pointless pain.

The only explaination isn’t really a logical one. As far as I can tell all this shows is that working out, pushing my body, putting myself through pain, are all hardwired into my psyche. I don’t know if I was born like this or if was something trained into me over that thirteen years, but I do know that it’s a part of myself that I can’t get away with ignoring anymore. I guess I’ll have to add “gym rat” to strange hodgepodge of labels that seem to make me who I am.

On over thinking

In my last post I said that I wasn’t going to over think my date with Mickey.

Good one.

Jaco called me on it, and he’s right. I can’t not over think things, especially boy things. My biggest enemy is free time to let thoughts float around in my brain. My thoughts are like viruses. They start out innocently enough, with a just a few cells floating around. “I like Mickey. He makes me laugh. He’s a nice guy.” But then it turns into, “I wonder what it would be like if we were dating?” and “I wonder if he would be clingy?” and “He seems like he would be clingy. I hate that.” Until basically I talk myself out of a relationship that doesn’t even exist yet. Boom. Giant virus slowly strangling me from the inside.

Worst extended metaphor ever; I’m sorry I put you through that.

Mickey and I still do our econ homework together, but we haven’t been on a date or anything since the night of Mika the European broadsword fighter. It’s partially because I’ve been busy with debate tournaments, and partially because I’ve been making excuses to get out of dates. Classic Kay move.

It’s because I’m not capable of acting like dating is no big deal. Anytime I meet a guy, I compare him to the fairytale picture of a man that has been in my head ever since I watched Cinderella for the first time. I think about every guy in terms of whether I could see myself with him a year from now, and if I would feel proud to introduce him to my friends and family. I don’t settle and I don’t compromise. I’ve had people tell me this is an admirable trait, but I also wonder if it’s elitist and unrealistic. I wonder if I will ever meet a guy who measures up. I wonder if I want to.

Mickey is coming tonight to do homework. He’s probably going to propose another date and I’m out of excuses. I don’t get what my problem is. He’s cute, and smart, and funny. I like hanging out with him. It’s just that whenever I think about dating him I can’t see it happening. I don’t know if that’s because it actually just isn’t right, or if it’s because I’m just at the point where I don’t trust my own feelings anymore.

Ugh this is the angstiest post ever and I feel like I’ve written it before. Sorry guys, it’s the best I’ve got today.

Pre-midterm madness

Midterms were last week and everyone on campus was kind of stressed the weekend before them. So they spent the weekend studying extra hard partying their faces off. I’m going to tell you a few stories about things that happened last weekend. Some of them happened to my friends. Some happened to friends of friends. Some happened to me. I’ll let you try to figure out which is which.

Someone saw two girls streaking at a football party and chased after them because they were honestly trying to help said girls. However, some police saw the chase and assumed the worst. They spent the night looking for the person chasing the girls, and this person spent the night hiding out and changing outfits so the cops wouldn’t find them.

Someone went to a club across the city with some people they didn’t know very well and couldn’t get in because the bouncer asked for two pieces of id when they only had one. Said “friends” went into the club without this person, and said person was stranded in a sketchy neighbourhood alone at 1am

Someone tried their first joint and grained out, spending the rest of the Friday night leaning over a toilet bowl

Someone overdid the drinking a little and woke up in the hospital with no shoes and a dead cellphone

Someone made out with someone else on their floor and woke up in the morning with said person in their bed, various pieces of furniture in their room knocked over, and some really obvious hickeys

I’m never going to admit which ones were me, but have fun guessing.

How to ace your first month in residence

In university I am learning to analyze stuff and such. Here are some facts about my first three weeks in residence. Feel free to analyze and interpret however you choose.

What I could have eaten for breakfast today: eggs made to order with whole grain toast and assorted fresh fruit

What I actually ate for breakfast today: three bowls of cheerios and some tater tots

What I could have eaten for dinner last night: a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, grilled veggies, and a fresh salad

What I actually ate for dinner last night: a taco, some sushi, and two slices of cake

What I could have eaten for lunch yesterday: a toasted egg salad sandwich and a bowl of vegetable soup

What I actually ate for lunch yesterday: Lunch? What is lunch?

What I could be keeping in my mini fridge: milk, juice, vegetables and dip, fruit, cheese, yogurt

What I actually keep in my fridge: four Palm Bays and some hummus

How many hours of sleep I could have gotten this weekend: 10+ per night

How many hours of sleep I actually got this weekend: Less than six. Total.

Number of colds I’ve gotten already this month: 2

Go figure.

Real talk

I don’t want to be a journalist.

There, I said it. It’s not really something you’re allowed to say three weeks into the first year of journalism school, but I’ve always tried to be honest here, so I’m saying it.

The truth is, I felt it after the first journalism lecture, on the first day of classes, but I pushed that feeling away. I thought maybe it was just first week jitters, or perhaps I was just overwhelmed by the whole university experience. Actually, you know what? That’s not true either. I knew it wasn’t jitters. I just wanted that to be the problem. The idea that I’ve put so much effort and money and time into getting into a program that I immediately realized is wrong for me scared me too much to face it at first. It wasn’t just fear either, it was also embarrassment. There I was going around for the last six months telling everyone I was going to be a journalist, and now I’ll have to tell them all that it was a big mistake. I’ll have to tell my dad that I’m wasting his money being here, and my scholarship money too. I’ll have to tell my friends who all know what they want, that I actually have no idea where I’m going.

It’s terrifying also. Terrifying, because I don’t know what to do now. Like, at all. It’s too late to switch programs and even if I could switch, I have no idea to what program I’d switch. I’ve spent the last six years assuming (consciously or subconsciously) that I would become a journalist when I grew up. I mean, in career planning class I pretended to consider other options, but truthfully, I was always planning on journalism. I mean, it’s not like I had my whole life planned out, but I had a direction, and that felt good.  I felt bad for all of the poor souls who still hadn’t figured out what they wanted. I loved it when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up because I had an answer.

I really did think I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that journalism is a difficult profession. The hours are long, the jobs are scarce and low-paying, and the deadlines are murder. Furthermore, no one knows what journalism is even going to look like in four years, or one, even. I was okay with that though. I felt like it was a field that was so right for me that I couldn’t go wrong, after all, I love to write and I love talking to people. That’s all you really need, isn’t it?

It took one Journ 1000 class to realize that I had it all wrong. I know that you’ve waited this whole long, ramble-y post for me to explain exactly why it is that I felt this way suddenly, but the truth is that I really couldn’t tell you. The best way that I can explain it is that I listened to descriptions of possible careers we could have-as foreign correspondents, news anchors, radio hosts, parliamentary reporters-and I couldn’t picture myself doing any of them. More than that, I didn’t want to picture myself doing any of them. All of the professor’s descriptions of a journalist were of this determined, dogged reporter chasing down leads and knocking on doors and calling everyone in the phonebook until she got answers. That, I realized, isn’t me at all.

So what do I want, exactly? What can I picture myself doing? I only have vague shadows of ideas at this point. I wish I had more. It scares me that I don’t, but the honest truth is that I’m not even close to knowing what I want.

I want to be writing still; I’m sure of that. Writing important things, things that really matter. Things that will change peoples’ minds and make them listen, make them understand. I still like talking to people too. I recently joined the debate team, and I love it. Public speaking, I realized, gives me a bit of a rush actually. The other thing is that I still care about news. I flip through all of the news apps on my phone like four times a day and I’m constantly texting Mat about the debate over Syria and the elections in Australia and Kenyan leaders being tried for war crimes. I think that someday I’d like to be in a position where I could do more than just report on those things. I would like to be in a position where I could make real changes in foreign policy and diplomatic relations.

And now that I go back and read that paragraph it really just looks like I want to go into politics. Do I? I’m not sure. I wish that I had a dream…

For now, I guess I’m going to journalism class. I’m sure I’ll learn some useful stuff there, regardless on what I choose to do. I’ve got a year to figure my shit out. Hopefully that will be enough. Hopefully God really does have a plan for me.

Otherwise, I’m screwed.

 

Things I wish I had known about university

1) Nobody cares about how you look in class. If I had known this in August I would have packed a whole lot less clothing. The truth is that when you show up at a lecture, everyone has different stuff going on. Some are coming straight from the gym, others slept in because they had been up late finishing work for another class the night before, and still others are already on their third back-to-back class of the day and therefore are hauling half a library on their backs. What I’ve realized is that this isn’t our school so much as it is our home. Therefore, people dress like they would at home; they come as they are. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some people still put together outstanding outfits, but more often than not, jeans and sweatpants prevail.

2) You have a ton of free time. And okay, I get that as the semester gets harder, I will be using all of that time to study, but it’s still a complete shock to me that I get to manage so much of my own time. In high school I was pretty independent, but I still had to be present at school for six hours a day. In addition to that, there were times when I was expected to be at home with my family, and times after school when extra-curriculars took place.  It’s still strange to me that all I have to do here is show up to five classes a week, all of which are a five minute walk from my bedroom. There are extracurriculars, yes, but at the moment I’m not “committed” per se to any of them; I can choose to show up if I feel like it. For me, the luxury here isn’t so much the freedom because my parents have always let me be fairly independent. The luxury is the sheer abundance of time at my disposal. I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately because never before have I had two or three hour time blocks to sit down and watch a movie. Usually in high school I could fit in one tv show between school and clubs and soccer, and even then, only if I pvr’d it and skipped through the commercials. And okay, yeah, I’m sure I’ll have to watch a few less movies and do a lot more studying soon enough, but still, the luxury is there.

3) Everyone belongs here. It’s like this whole shift in attitude from high school. In high school, you found friends if you got lucky and found people who were like you. In university, people look past your weirdness, and even embrace it. I think part of it is because we’re all strangers to each other and everyone is eager to be open to one another and make friends, whatever the kind. However, I think a bigger part of it is that we’re all here because we want to, not because we’re forced to. It creates this kind of buoyant environment; it’s one full of enthusiasm and excitement instead of one of boredom and frustration. If you show that you care about something, people are attracted to that here. The result is that everyone is included because everyone cares. That is, after all, why they’re here.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s also a little premature. We’ll see how I feel about all of this in the coming weeks and months.