Restart: A New Chapter

Standard

I currently write this as I return from Ottawa, having been there for the past few days. I originally went there for the purpose of presenting my thesis at the 47th Annual Ontario Psychology Undergraduate Thesis Conference. However, I found it to be much more than just an academic experience; the trip was much needed, in terms of figuring out what I’m going to do next.

It’s been awhile since I last blogged, and that’s been for many reasons. One is that I was just busy in general, finishing up my undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, which included working on a thesis, as mentioned earlier. Mine happened to be on perfectionism, emotional intelligence, and subjective well-being, topics I am very interested in. My passion for them certainly helped make the large amount of data analysis easier, though I will note I actually do enjoy statistics.

Me presenting my thesis at the Western Student Research Conference, March 2017

Me presenting my thesis at the Western Student Research Conference, March 2017

There are other reasons, though, ones I’m still unsure of discussing here; the topic of how much one should disclose/share publicly vs privately has been weighting on mind, and I’m still trying to decide what my answer to that is. I think, for others wondering this as well, that it’s up to each person’s comfort level. I’m still determining what mine is, as I’m the kind of person who very much enjoys intimacy, as well as vulnerability, and while I definitely think we should be able to show such in this society, again, it’s up to each individual to think about who needs to know what, when, how much, as well as why.

As you may guess from that last paragraph, I’ve been pondering a lot of different matters. One large one has been what my next steps are after finishing my degree. The plan had been graduate studies, continuing in Psychology, possibly with perfectionism research; alas, plans sometimes don’t always work, and that’s okay, but then some reconfiguration is needed. As a friend told me, it’s good to be planning, but not always to have a plan; this is especially in the case where you only have one idea for what to do, and you are so set on it, that when it doesn’t work out, as it can happen, you end up finding yourself stuck, and unable to process.

Sometimes, life sends you on a different path, and that’s where I currently am. I’ll admit I’ve been a little bit lost, trying to determine what this next year could look like, as I truly must do something, and currently don’t have anything structurally set up.

I say structurally, as in, a specific schedule. School, with classes and meetings, comes with certain times one should be in class; work, typically, includes a schedule as well, where one has to get stuff done. What plans I’ve come up with are those of my own making, projects where I am the only one who will ensure they have to get done; I’m the one setting deadlines this time. I truly am my own boss, this being in comparison to where I would look to what my professors or boss would say regarding assignments. I had those guidelines to work off of, and now, it’s really all on me.

I feel like I’m ‘adulting,’ as people would say, and – though I am turning 22 this summer, – that’s kind of scary. How do I know I can accomplish all the things? How do I know things will work out? The path I’m walking now seems a bit foggy; what’s the destination I am walking to, and is it what I think it is? How far away is it? So many questions can leave one stumbling, and tripping, as one doesn’t just look where they are walking, and one rather frets over what the next step may be. Doubts are normal, but truly are time-consuming.

This Ottawa trip, however, reminded me to just enjoy each moment as it comes, and to trust that things will work out.

View of the Canadian Parliament Buildlings from Major's Hill Park

View of the Canadian Parliament Buildlings from Major’s Hill Park

I came out to Ottawa on my own, this being my first solo trip ever. I chose my hotel – Byward Blue Inn, which was great, by the way, – and booked the room, as well as my train tickets, by myself. As someone with anaphylactic nut allergies, I searched up restaurants that I could eat at beforehand, and put these on a Google map, while also starring possible attractions I could get to within walking distance of the inn.

It being my first solo trip, though, I still wondered: What happens if I get lost? What if I have an allergic reaction, what will I do? I was excited, but nervous. I was also worried, because after the Ottawa trip, I knew I wouldn’t have something big to look forward to for the next while. I’d be back to feeling lost, which isn’t a fun mindset to be in.

I took the train up on Thursday, and had the conference mentioned earlier on Friday. That was pretty alright, as I had set activities: get on the train, make the transfer in Toronto, get to the hotel, find food, get to the conference,etc.

However, I had chosen to stay an extra day, Saturday, as a vacation for myself, and with that, I had also meant to not tell anyone I knew in Ottawa about my visit; I know a good number of people who live in this beautiful city, and while I would have loved to see them all, I knew I only had the one day. I wanted to spend that day however I wanted to spend it, without trying to cram seeing everyone, so I thought it better to see no one I knew. That makes sense, right?

Nonetheless, a friend learned of my trip, and reached out to me, arranging for a brunch, along with a friend of hers, and a friend of that friend. It was with some trepidation that I went, thinking to myself that worst case scenario, I’d spend an hour or two with awkward conversation, and maybe a coffee, in the situation where I wouldn’t be able to eat anything.

The brunch went so well, probably the best it could have; I can’t see how it could have improved. I found myself laughing, chatting easily, and getting to know the women I was with, while enjoying a piece of heaven in the form of a chocolate banana pizza (look at that deliciousness!!!). This meant so much to me, because while I knew my friend from school, the other two, again, were strangers at the start. Nonetheless, we connected; I didn’t need school, nor work, to meet people. We had other things we could talk about, like Netflix.

As well, I COULD EAT THE FOOD!!!! We had gone to Cacao 70, which is known for its chocolate treats. Majority of the time, I skip out on desserts at restaurants, because of the degree of seriousness my allergies hold (I can die. I’d rather not.). I had passed by the place on Thursday, as well as Friday, but probably wouldn’t have gone in alone, out of the assumption I wouldn’t be able to consume anything. This brunch therefore not only led me to having a good time, and realizing that school as well as work aren’t the only way to meet people, but also brought me to try one of the greatest foods ever (seriously – chocolate PIZZA!).

The day only got better after that, too. It rained, but I didn’t mind it, as I ended up wandering, and realized that, at least in the Byward market area, Ottawa is very grid-like. This means that even if I get ‘lost’, if I continue down one road, I will eventually find a place that is familiar, from which I can direct myself to where I need to. (This is ignoring the fact that Google Maps, and location-tracking, exists; these are very helpful tools, but I do like to try and save my data when possible. That, and it is nice to know I don’t need to depend on technology for everything.)

This led me to remain calm, and so, I could enjoy myself as I walked. I felt a very natural, and pure, curiosity within me; I entered stores I may have skipped out on had I been with others, not wanting to waste their time. I explored streets, and ways, because I was with myself; the only person’s time I had to concern myself with was my own. This was a wonderful thing, too, because I found delightful places, ones I want to check out and return to in the future.

The walking also helped me realize how close places are to each other. An example of this is how I went to the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica for Mass; I had known, via Google Maps, that it was near, and in the direction of Major’s Hill Park, and the Parliament Buildings. However, I hadn’t realized how close it was to these areas. This meant that it was a lovely surprise for me when I discovered the proximity, and that after Mass, since I was by myself, I could go walk and look around, as well as take photos.

Basically, Saturday showed me that even though I may not have everything planned out, and though I may not know everything that is to come, things will work out. Surprises may, and probably will, come about, surprises that can be equally delightful as they can be frustrating (like stepping through a puddle and soaking my shoes, as well as socks). In addition, I may not be walking the path I thought I was, and I may not know every step I am taking, but I will get to where I am meant to be, wherever that is; things may just look a bit different than expected, but that’s alright.

These are things I have said to others before, but I think majority of us can agree, it’s easier to say something, and believe it, for someone else, rather than ourselves. Either way, this Ottawa trip was rejuvenating, refreshing, and utterly delightful. My heart and soul felt so happy; I haven’t felt so stress-free in such a long time.

Now, I’m hoping as this trip ends, that I can keep such feelings, and find more things to make me feel so joyful. Be it little moments, discoveries, or events, let them happen as I enter this new chapter in my life. I’m ready to explore, on my own or with others, what it is that life has to offer.

(Shoutout to the Byward Blue Inn and Cacao 70, as well as the Smoque Shack, the Grand pizzeria & bar, and Atari, for excellent accommodations, be it for where I stayed, or where I ate; these places were all great with my allergies, something I truly appreciate, and definitely think helped make this a wonderful experience!)

Salmon Tartare from Atari, located in the Byward Market area of Ottawa

Salmon Tartare from Atari, located in the Byward Market area of Ottawa

Sailing Along: Life, Mental Health, and the Sea

Standard

Last year, while an executive member of Western University’s branch of Active Minds – a USA-based mental health awareness organization -, I got to help run their annual Chalk Your Support event. This is an opportunity for students to write messages encouraging and supporting discussion around mental health on what is known as the ‘Concrete Beach.’

One of my friends drew and wrote the following:

Drawing of a sailboat by Ryan Henderson, saying "I can't change the wind but I can adjust my sails."

Drawing by Ryan Henderson, saying “I can’t change the wind but I can adjust my sails.”

I have always enjoyed sailing. I have not had many opportunities to partake in this pleasurable activity, but the few times I have found myself on a boat of some sort… I feel free and relaxed.

The most memorable of these times was a tourist boat ride that my family took while visiting Eastern Canada a number of years ago. Upon what I called ‘a pirate ship,’ the trip started off with the sun shining brightly against us, only to turn into the beginnings of a storm, grey skies accompanied with choppy waters. Most of the passengers went below deck but my father and I stayed above with the sailors.

My mother recalls how the sailors were worried, describing the event as frightening. I remember that my heart was racing, as well, but out of exhilaration rather than fear! I don’t think I truly understood the possible danger we faced at the time, being quite young.

The last few weeks remind me of that boat ride. There have been changes in my life with some of these waves ‘rocking the ship’ more than others. Some have been easy to adjust to but other times, transitioning has been rough; I may be smoothly sailing one day to only encounter choppy waters the day after.

I am trying my best to ride through all of life’s waves. I do my best to adjust, incorporate time for self-care, as well as ask others to join me and help me as I sail on. I know that with friends by my side, things aren’t as scary. Any issues or roadblocks I come across are easier to manage and face head-on.

I will be okay. The sun always shines eventually, and as they say, you can’t have a rainbow without a little bit of rain.

I guess this post is more of an update, or rather, an extended metaphor for what is my life right now. I hope this makes sense. I hope all are well – and by that, I mean, I hope everyone else is sailing along alright.

 

A Return to Writing: My New Year’s Resolution

Standard
I had a blog post all planned out. The topics I wanted to address, the news I wanted to give, and how I would word such. However, things won’t necessarily happen as you would like them to. After all, this is life – and it can be quite the ride that we’re on. Ones with ups, ones with downs.
 
With this post, I am currently just writing from the top of my head. I have scrapped the outline I wrote out and am writing from a place of emotion, as I currently mourn the death of my grandfather.
 
That was a piece of news I wanted to share. I was going to write about how it’s inspired me to truly follow through with a resolution of mine: to write again, blog again, share my thoughts so that others may read if interested.
 
This past term, I didn’t write any blogs, for anyone or anything. I was busy with school, work, volunteering, and more. I learned a lot, though, both about me and the world I’m currently in as well as am wanting to be in. I am glad for that and all the opportunities I have had. I just wish I could have shared about them more as they occurred.
 
My grandfather always encouraged me to write. He asked to read what my newest piece was, as well as questions about what I was reading. These were short emails we exchanged, but they were ones we did so on a regular basis. I always had a new book to mention, or he’d recommend one. I used to write poetry, fiction, and now, I seem to focus on reading – and writing – about things happening in this world, more so.
 
That’s okay. That change in genre is more than okay. I just don’t want to stop writing, ever. It is one of a few things that I have carried with me throughout my life so far. I hope that I will always continue reading and writing in some way.
 
Hence, this return to the blog. I want to write more and share that writing. I want to share my thoughts so that people who are interested may know them. Be it about mental health, life, or some metaphor that has blossomed in my head, it doesn’t matter. Let me write, because it’s also something for me, not just for others.
 
I read an old blog post that I wrote, around this time, last year. I read it about five minutes ago (at the time of me writing this), and now wish I had remembered about it earlier. The post is about grief during the holiday season,  and when I originally published it, several people told me it had connected with them at that time.
 
When I wrote it then, I meant it to serve as an outlet. When I read it now, I find it to serve as a reminder.
 
I first began this blog to connect with others. I started writing here so as to communicate my thoughts and share them with others; I don’t remember if I ever showed it to my grandfather.
 
Writing is my medium. It’s one of many, but definitely a favourite method. Here’s to doing my best with this new resolution. To those who are following this blog, may you see plenty of posts. 
 
Thank you for encouraging me to always write, grandpa. I wish you could see this now.