2014 in perspective

Lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, to wash because it was often used in bath and laundry waters. It isn't uncommon for this plant to be associated with purity and cleanliness.  In the same manner, a new year represents a clean slate for many of us. How many people swear to improve their diet or start working out at the sound of the clock at midnight on New Year's Eve? *Raises hand!*  After the initial burst of motivation, I always slip back into my old lazy habits. A panda can only change so much >___<

So for the past year I've crossed out such resolutions. Instead Miss Adri and I have vowed to try one (or more) new thing every month to kick ourselves out of our comfort zones. Our list includes: shooting a wedding, speed dating, flying in a mini airplane, donating blood, going to an orchestra, volunteering at Guignolee to name a few.  By doing all these activities I got to discover myself: things I was afraid or that I didn't think I would enjoy, I ended up liking. So for 2015, I challenge you to try something new every month.
You might be surprised by what you find ;-)

Below are some of the things I discovered in 2014:

I'm going to be a little bit personal now so you can skip this part if you are bored.

 This year was full of changes: big ones and small ones intertwining awkwardly into a complicated story. I started out the year super confident about the future only to be thrown into a storm of confusion. I suppose that is how most people feel after graduation. I had mentioned in the past that my dream was to become a government food inspector. After I completed a summer internship, I realized that the job really did not suit my personality however I still worked hard towards that goal because I didn't want to "waste" my studies. I interviewed for a couple of inspection jobs and even got accepted in the government inspector pool.

It didn't seem right to feel dread after acing an interview.  I did not want to do inspection but I kept pushing that nagging feeling aside because it was a stable job with a very good income. That is until, I decided on a whim to apply for another job completely outside of my field of study. I didn't think they would accept me because I didn't have any experience outside of food (even all my part time jobs were food related). In the end I got the job, it's one that I didn't think I would enjoy but it suits my personality. I'm so grateful and happy right now :-)

1. Sometimes we blindly want something to work out even when it's not meant to be. If it feels wrong more often than not, it is wrong. It took me a while to accept my gut feelings but changing course is the best decision I made.

It seems kind of hypocritical for me to walk away from the food industry because I was the communications representative for our Food Science Association. I definitely don't regret taking that role because it forced me to take responsibility beyond my own sheltered student life. It was really fun organizing and promoting all our events but school and industry are completely different worlds.  

I feel as if our current system restricts us in such a way that we mindlessly follow the herd into what we are supposed to do versus discovering our talents to see where we fit in society. But then again, I can't blame the system for my own gullibility. 

2. Even if you are afraid of breaking the mold, break it. It's not that bad once it's broken. We tend to think that there's a time line for things in life: you study, you get a good job, you get married, you get children, you get job promotions and you retire. Blasphemy for anyone who wants a different path! But if that's not what you want then create your own path. If you want to do something crazy like ride a hippo in Africa, then do it (be careful of Ebola though,  sorry I had to make this joke)! If you are afraid of judgment then you have to tell yourself that nobody really cares about your life because they are too busy caring about their own lives.  

After graduation, many of my friends have relocated elsewhere. One of my best friends Toes (in the middle) moved all the way to Calgary! Despite not talking that much during uni, we became much closer this year. I was told by someone that a true friend is one that you can not see for a long time but when you do see each other, it's like time never passed.

3. Once you are in your twenties, it is harder to make true friends so if you have a handful make sure you cherish them. Make time for your friends: plan brunch dates, coffee dates, bouldering dates! Send them a text message to let them know you think about them. Joy is meant to be shared with others.

After graduation, I wanted to take a gap year to teach English in South Korea starting in August. I had sent my application early and the interviewers at the Korean embassy seemed to like me. But for some reason, I did not get a response until 2 weeks before departure date. They told me that they received a large amount of applications this term so they had to defer my application. I was heartbroken because my mind was set on this opportunity. After the rejection, my parents entered a financial crisis and I decided to stay in Montreal to help them with the bills. At first I thought it was just an excuse from the program to ease the rejection but when I received my acceptance letter in October, I felt so conflicted: selfish for wanting to leave, curiosity for the life I was missing out on and sadness for losing the opportunity to travel and try a new challenge.

4. Sometimes things don't work out because of timing. And in the aftermath you realize that it was probably for the best. Maybe it's a way for fate to gently push us in the direction where we are supposed to be. I firmly believe that what is meant to be will be. 

Morocco was a place I dreamed of visiting for a long time. It seemed so exotic: lush mountainous landscapes, vibrant ancient history, the vast desert expanding into the horizon. I spent many nights scrolling through travel blogs immersing myself into daydreams. I had no plans to travel immediately after graduation because of my student loans but after Adri complained that she needed a vacation, we impulsively decided to go to Morocco. I was really worried about money during the trip but in hindsight, I paid off  my student loans by the end of the year and now I have memories for a life time.

5. Money always has a way of coming back if you work hard but time only leaps forward. I'm definitely not promoting irresponsible spending but if you dream of travelling, don't hold back your dreams. You never know when you will lose your health, have too many commitments tying you down or lose your passion. If you have the time, make the most out of it.

This summer I felt such deep sadness and confusion (hence why my blog was deserted) that I just wanted to curl into a ball inside all day. My friends made sure that I got my ass out so we did things like having high tea, visiting museum exhibitions & fresh fruit markets, eating delicious lamb chops MMMmm. Eventually the emotional tides subsided thanks to the support of my trusted friends who were there to listen and comfort me :-)  

6. LAUGH A LOT, CRY A LOT, just don't bottle it up! 

7. Life is much more enjoyable when you keep your eyes open for beauty. Be in awe of the sky, be mesmerized by architecture, appreciate a stranger's genuine smile. It's weird but I've taken on the habit of smiling to random people when I meet their gaze and every single time they reciprocate. It's quite a heart warming feeling: a silent acknowledgement that we are all in this journey called life together!

I hope this post wasn't too long, I'm not used to writing so much but I really enjoyed sharing the things that I learned in the past year. 2015 will be a grand year: live life as as though everything is rigged in your favour - Rumi.