Tag Archives: Career

You don’t want big change… you want the next step.

I spend a lot of my free time daydreaming about my ideal life and all the things I want in the future. And then I get back to work, and I daydream about being able to lay in bed and daydream. When I noticed I was actually looking forward to daydreaming more than I was looking forward to my life, I knew something weird was up.

There’s nothing wrong with looking forward to something if it makes you feel good. But I realized that if I wanted to do something about this cycle, I would have to start looking forward to something that involved action.

Why don’t I want to take action?

Because I’m expecting WAY too much of myself all at once. The truth is, I don’t want everything to change all at once, because it would either require way more effort than would be comfortable (slash healthy), or a stroke of amazing luck (and where’s the fun in that?). And what’s more, is I’m not even sure what I want, really, aside from a vague big picture.

All those little tasks, all those “next steps” that I’ve been ignoring–that’s where the magic is. That’s what I can manage, and anyway, that’s what builds the momentum for the change I’m seeking.

Even if I set my mind to accomplish some big shift and get started, what I want changes as I go. So, I might as well get used to confusion, as well as enjoy the process–and that’s a right now issue. How can I enjoy myself right now?

Right now, being productive feels good, and that means writing a song and having a shower.

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Mid-winter unemployed person rant

I haven’t found a voice for this blog so I never know what to write, despite having lots to say. My sister can tell you. She’s my only friend right now, and so she hears a proportionate amount of my mind vomit, which would be all of it.

Maybe I just don’t like my voice, and so I don’t write. Or make friends. Or wash my hair every week.

Anyway, essentially, this is the news: I arrived in Toronto on the 19th of January, and my friend has been letting me sleep on her couch ever since (thank God). She lives downtown, so I’ve been spending a lot of my time walking around, handing out resumes. No bites, except for a couple corporate (blegh) interviews (you know that means they went really well), and today: I scored an uber part-time job. I should be happy, but should I really? With an earning potential of $330 a month after taxes?

I’m also soul-searching, as always. I tell myself that this is an admirable thing to be doing and that I’m one of the few who are “awake” and that is basically the only thing that gets me through the day. If I’m wrong about any of this, shhhh.

I did realize that I really have to focus my energy on what I want, if I ever want to get it. I’ve been paying attention to my jealousy, because it’s supposed to tell you important things about yourself. The problem is that I’m jealous of pretty much everyone.

I’m jealous of musicians, actors, novelists, comedy writers, stand-up comedians, improvisers, life coaches, entrepreneurs, and anyone at all who has their life together, which is confusing because then I’m tricked into thinking I want to be things like doctors and nurses.

… would that be so bad?

Anyway, I think I’ve narrowed down my field of career interests to things that are creative. I want a creative career, and I haven’t, up until now, been able to admit that to myself.

I want to sing. I want to play piano.

I want to write books, TV shows, films.

I want to make movies.

I want to paint or draw or something.

I want to be on stage. Doing what? Beats me. (Oooor maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I want to do comedy and improv, but to say that’s what I want is so scary because I’m so bad at it.)

When I get confused and overwhelmed by everything I want to do, I try to clear the table by asking myself what my passion is, and what I spend my time doing anyway.

Well, here’s the thing: I don’t have a passion. Okay, I’m sure I do, but I can’t answer this question as easily as it’s meant to be answered. I haven’t had an obsession with singing or acting or whatever since I was a toddler. I’ve come to have serious beef with people in interviews who say “Well, I’ve always been a ___. I couldn’t have imagined doing anything else. People always told me I would be doing ___. I love my life. I have been chosen.”

What did I do? I dabbled. A lot. And I was good at some things. But I wouldn’t say that dabbling itself is a passion of mine, because I’m extremely frustrated at my lack of skill at anything.

And what I spend my time doing isn’t a good indication of what I should be doing, because I hate that I spend all my time on the computer or on Facebook or wondering what I would love to be doing.

When I finally do carve out time to practise the things I think will make me happy, I get super anxious, especially when I sit down to write fiction. So much crap comes out, which is actually probably my 14-year-old self’s backlogged ideas rearing their crappy little heads.

Okay, so I know this is all common for people my age. While it can be soothing to hear that sometimes, it just mostly doesn’t help at all.

I also know that passion comes from passion, so it’s my job to make passion with what I have, not to find it in something external. But I alsoalso know that as a human being, I’m entitled to a couple crybaby moments in the face of something difficult I have to do.

Anyway. Progress? Maybe.

I still get tricked into thinking I want to be a real estate agent when I see one in a suit, buying a round of drinks for his friends, though.

So really, I don’t know what I’m doing.

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The First Step to Happiness

If it were 100% up to you, how would you fill your days?

How would you fill one day?

How would you spend your time?

What makes you happy? Feel joy? Love? Pride?

It should be obvious… but do you know?

Do you remember?

If there’s one question worth answering, it’s this:

What would my perfect day look/feel like?

If you don’t know the answer, you might never know if you’re on the right track, or when you stray from it. And by the way, your life IS 100% up to you, so it’s worth it to get clear on how you want to live it.

You could look through old photo albums, or call old friends. Dig up great memories, rediscover the reason for their magic and seek to recreate it.

If you’re coming up short, maybe it’s time to try something new, or reignite an old passion despite scars, resistances and fears.

Having experienced some pretty intense anxiety lately as well as some time in the hospital, I’ve had to strip away everything toxic and really pay attention to what nourishes me. The “perfect day” question is difficult for me to answer, but it’s so important and gives me such great direction and clarity. It also reminds me that I can be too hard on myself, because if I can’t answer a simple question like this, there must be a legitimate gap in my understanding. I’m still discovering who I am and what makes me happy, so how can I expect myself to know everything if I just… don’t?

Most of us have accumulated a lot of crappy beliefs and effectively confused ourselves, even on the topic of ourselves… and that’s okay. We’re figuring it out. But simply not knowing yet is different from knowing but not acting on that knowledge.

This is what I do know.

– Going to the gym, doing yoga and giving my best shot at meditation is deeply healing and nourishing.

– I love singing and becoming a better musician.

– Cooking for people & hosting get-togethers makes me feel in control and on my game.

– I’ll think of more later…

If I spend my time doing more of this, there’s no way I can’t get happier. A lot of people love to tell you to take action despite the urge to procrastinate, but I’m really not a fan of doing things without inspiration. I love dreaming and imagination and swelling up with excitement and feeling the inevitability of my energy spilling over into some love endeavour. BUT… Personally, I’ve found that I have some weird inhibiting thoughts around certain activities I KNOW make me happy, and it’d be more difficult to sit around and change those thoughts than to just take action. I do, despite myself, get a certain amount of satisfaction from following a routine, and I do feel pride when I do what I say I’ll do–and I think that’s where I need to start. It’s not easy to show up for yoga every day, but I know it’s what I need. What do you need? And when you’ve got that down, what do you want? (But “want” and “need” are really the same thing, in my opinion.)

I’ve also found that I can’t skip over ANY of this when it comes to building my business. If I build something I don’t love, I’ll be unfulfilled and it will fail miserably, no question.

Other juicy questions:

:: Who have you always wanted to be? Who do you love to be?

:: Who would you regret NOT being? What would you regret NOT doing?

:: What are you ridiculously good at?

:: What do you find yourself daydreaming about? How does it make you feel? Can you create even a mini version of it in real life, right now?

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Do More, Think Less

Do what you do

Do it well

Do it loud

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Who I Am At My Core

Author + writer

Counselor + healer

Teacher

Singer + musician

Dancer

Student

Artist

Adventurer

Joker

Lover

It doesn’t matter that I have yet to master any one of these roles, nor that there are some I have not even dared to spend much time with. It doesn’t matter that my voice is perfectly boring and average and surely bad, by some standards, nor that I have never been in love.

These are who I am when I am soul-level honest with myself, and it feels great to acknowledge that.

Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t pick one and be that forever.

Because before dark moments are felt, I don’t know which role I will most easily slip into and escape with. I don’t know which version of me will be my saviour, I don’t know who will help me find my way again.

And before I’m back on track, I don’t know who will rocket me into the sky.

I need all of me, and I refuse to let any fade away.

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What Do You Want Most?

I’m curious.

What kind of guidance are you craving?

Where do you feel the most confused?

What kind of resources do you wish you had on-hand?

What do you wish you had more time for?

Which of your habits are really getting in the way of your happiness?

Which relationships in your life do you wish were healthier?

What do you find yourself reading about most often?

What part of your life is lagging behind?

What is holding you back?

What is your biggest dream?

I write this blog because it is therapeutic for me, but also because it makes me happy to know that I’m connecting with you and writing what you want to read.

Personally, at the moment I wish I had better career guidance. I am actually enlisting the help of a career coach, so maybe that will change things. My eating and exercising habits are really getting in the way of my happiness, especially since I sprained my ankle and have been semi-forced into a sedentary lifestyle. My biggest dream is to run my own business, within which I could use my talents to serve where I would be most useful.

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What I Learned From Selling Everything I Own

I frequently have these “ah-hah!” moments, usually thanks to quotes, movies, blogs or photographs, during which I feel this lightness and it’s as though I’m expanding and everything makes sense. Although I believe that probably some fundamental shifts happen at an unconscious level during these moments regardless of what follows, the clarity and excitement usually dissipate.

There’s a powerful thought that reliably brings me back that clarity, though. It reminds me over and over to keep adjusting my path as I’m walking it. It’s this: I am already whole. The idea that I do not have to become anyone, that I should only embrace the path I’m on and expand from there, is incredibly inspiring to me. It even inspired me to sell almost everything I owned so I could “live in the now,” and “not focus on the past,” and all that stuff, though ironically, selling my past has given me a deeper appreciation of it.

Perfection doesn’t exist

To an almost hopeless perfectionist, finding out you are already complete is absolutely wonderful news. Many people experience perfectionism as immobilization; there are always too many things to do to achieve perfection–it’s exhausting even to think about. But it doesn’t surprise me that we’ve grown up with this mindset, given the language we were and are surrounded by. First of all, we are shown that “perfect” does exist: 100%, A+, whatever. That’s what we are told to strive for, and we do.

So when we learn that perfect can’t be achieved, because perfect does not exist, what happens? Well, to a little girl who is showered with praise from family and awards from teachers for her excellent scholastic achievements and who falls out of love with the school system, it feels like the world falls out of love with her.

Also, we are told that we have to become someone. We go to school to learn skills that cost tens of thousands of dollars, because “McDonald’s is hiring” and be careful because that’s where we’ll end up if we don’t work ourselves sick to get the piece of paper that proves that we know what happens on Odysseus’ travels and which qualifies us to do more than flip burgers, which we should be embarrassed to ever have to do because it means that we are either stupid or lazy or both. (By the way, I’d love for someone to teach me how to flip a burger because that shit doesn’t come naturally and I can’t do it. And by the way again, I don’t remember what happens in The Odyssey, so I don’t know where that leaves me.)

N.B. There’s nothing wrong with working at a food joint. I’d never work at McDonald’s, but only because it’s poisoning us and the environment and seriously, screw them.

Anyway, I didn’t get a master’s degree like my friends did, which also meant that I had stopped becoming anything. I was unhappy and felt completely inauthentic. I wanted to start from scratch, and I wanted to find truth. I thought that this meant completely renouncing my past; after all, my past had led me here, right? I wanted to travel. I wanted to get rid of my belongings. I wanted new friends. I wanted to scream at anyone who tried to reel me back in. I was angry, but mostly sad.

I wanted to restart, but I was scared, so I did so slowly, without really realizing it. I moved to another province for a couple years. I left my stuff with my parents, and discovered that I didn’t need any of it. Future: 1, Past: 0. I got a job in my field, psychology, but it was boring and mindless, so I quit. I got a job at a grocery store because I was tired of PhDs controlling me. It got old, so I quit. I got a job at an office in a final attempt at using whatever skills I had already, and I hated it. All of this gave me the courage to really put my past-clearing theory to the test. I quit that job, spent a month selling all of my belongings, terminated my lease, hopped on a bus and crashed at my very generous sister’s apartment until further notice. This is where I am currently.

Shedding baggage makes you feel lighter

I still have some papers to get rid of, but I can’t tell you how liberating that leap was. Some days, while I was still working, I was ready to give in to the office life. I told myself it wouldn’t be that bad, and my coworkers are nice people to be around. Those were the days, I realize now, that were the most dangerous–the days my soul was closest to its death.

I experienced a lot of grief while I was getting rid of my stuff. I found it annoying because I didn’t understand it and it was getting in the way. But I didn’t dismiss it entirely; I went through everything slowly, keeping the stuff that I absolutely could not part with: some photographs, the doll my late grandmother gave me, stuff like that. I really didn’t want to keep them, though. Even keeping my identification pissed me off. I wanted to be like Christopher McCandless (yeah, the dude who died in the wild), but something about these objects made me happy, and I figured I could always get rid of them later.

Embrace and expand your past

Not too long ago, I was looking through my sister’s old photo albums. I hadn’t done that in so long and it made me so happy, yet I had been so annoyed with my decision to keep my own old photographs and dolls. These pictures were evidence of my childhood, of the care my parents took of me, of the true friendships I had even as a child, of how happy I was. The very existence of my sister’s photos of me is evidence that she cares enough about me to want to remember me. I remembered how I had been almost ready to throw all of mine away, and I started crying.

I’d always been so incredibly confused about why anyone would want to hold on to things–doesn’t it make them feel tied down? Stuck? Miserable? I think I’ve learned something valuable. Today, I’m glad that I was so scrupulous in deciding of what to renounce ownership. Though I’m happier now with much less baggage, I’m also happy that I still have a few things that remind me of wonderful moments in my past.

As someone who struggles with depression, I tend to remember bad events much more easily than I remember the good ones. In fact, I remember my entire undergraduate experience as generally being a terrible one–so terrible that I don’t remember most of it, because I’ve tried so hard to forget it. But when I remember that I met some of my best friends in university, I know that my memory is inaccurate. There were definitely many difficult learning experiences, but it wasn’t all bad. And whether it’s photographs, tattoos, jewelry, or yearly get-togethers, I need reminders of the beautiful things that have happened to me. Also, I’m discovering that what made me happy as a child is what makes me happy now.

There’s a limit, though. Visit the past to help you move confidently into the future, but don’t stay there. Keep only what helps you move forward.

Authenticity is your only career option

And so, here I am. These past few months have been so incredibly difficult. I’ve gone from feeling on top of the world to feeling like the most useless pile of crap, and back again. And again. I know that I really want to contribute to society, something I’m not doing very much of right now, but I’m also very selfish–what I find most difficult is doing something I don’t want to do. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m convinced that it’s due to all those years in school trying so hard to be a good student; I’m burnt out–permanently.

I’ve lost all interest in becoming anything or anyone, but staying true to myself is my biggest battle right now. Everyone wants something of you. I value service, so I often get swept up into fulfilling someone else’s wishes, which inevitably ends in a burn-out.

So, I guess it makes sense that something clicks when I hear stuff like “embrace the path you were born on” and “you are already whole.” If someone else finds wisdom in this, maybe I’m not wrong! But I’m having trouble finding the intersection of who I am, and what people value.

I’ve done tons of research. I’ve considered every career under the sun. Some days I’m set on becoming a paramedic. Others, a nurse, a photographer, a writer, a lawyer. Overall though, nothing rings true. Should I just go for anything, because once you commit to something, you’re psychologically more inclined to be satisfied with it (truth, by the way)? Probably. But I won’t, yet.

I’ve considered entrepreneurship. I love business and marketing. I have tons of ideas. I love the idea of serving a market. The problem is that once I figure everything out in my head and come up with the perfect plan, I have no desire to follow through. What’s up with that? Anyway, for that reason I’ve considered business consulting. But still, I’d have to “become” that, because no one would be willing to pay for me at this stage, I’m too much of a noob. And with my history of losing interest unexpectedly, and given that I can’t do things I don’t want to do, I don’t trust myself to push through. I’ll just waste time.

You read a lot of self-help stuff that tells you that you can be who you are in this world, and get paid for it. That’s the dream, right? I choose to believe it. If I’m honest with myself, I think I would be almost perfectly happy dancing around all day, taking photographs, doing yoga, faking spanish accents and playing with puppies–the only thing missing would be my contribution. I’m almost over caring what other people think about my career, though. No one is going to give me a gold star. A couple years ago, that would have made me cry, but I think I’m okay with it now. Although I’m not terribly frightened of living a homeless life, it’s not ideal, so I’ve got to support myself if I want to be part of this system; however, the skills I want to get paid for aren’t up to market needs. If you’re in my position, learning of some sort (taking value) is probably in your future, which means you’ll have to compromise (provide non-ideal value) for a while.

I’m not talking about selling your soul. I’m talking about finding a way to satisfy your survival needs while you get busy remembering the path you were born onto, embracing it, and allowing yourself to expand until people will pay to learn or buy from you. Or not. If no one ever pays you, it’s still better than any alternative; there is no substitute for authenticity.

This is my next step: I’ll be working part-time for four months on a farm in exchange for room and board. Sort of like WWOOFing, I guess. For four months, my survival needs will be covered. I like multitasking, so I love the idea that I’ll be learning about farming (an interest of mine) while working (providing value) on one. Also, since it’s only part-time, I can either get another part-time job for some extra cash, or spend time on my other interests. This farm also happens to be near my parents, which I like, so this set-up is perfect for me.

There is a perfect set-up for you, too. Try thinking about whose dirty work you wouldn’t mind doing, and then see what they can offer you for it. Again, it’s not permanent, and it gives you the time to build the skills you want to get paid for. Consider picking a company you admire and that has high turnover positions. A few places that come to mind are health food stores, maybe coffee shops, local book stores–clerk jobs. Personally, as long as the managers are good people, I normally don’t mind these types of jobs because I like being around people.

If you spend time learning who you are, loving who you are, learning what you love to do and how to do it well, you’ll eventually become an expert. Experts can be professionals, and professionals get paid. Bam.

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