Repetition, Reiteration, and Resiliency


There’s a statistic I vaguely remember learning, something along the lines of how it takes ten times, ten repetitions, to truly keep something within one’s memory; maybe the fact that I can’t remember the exact number proves that (especially as when I google, I find varied answers about the exact number.)

It’s struck me lately how true this is. Last May, I wrote about feeling lost, having not gotten into graduate school at the time, and earlier this year, I also blogged about exploring while being lost. It was meant to be a New Years resolution.

Am I succeeding if I still find myself panicking time and time again over how I don’t know what I’m doing?

When I was younger, I loved using the word redundant. I’d scribble it over essays I was editing, not understanding why people felt a need to repeat something. Being concise with language is still an art I treasure, and strive towards mastering.

However, I also babble sometimes, reiterating my point in hopes of communicating better, clearer. I’ve discussed this in the past, in a Podditea episode, and I bring it up because I realize I don’t only do this as I mentally attempt to process events. I’m starting to think life is about reiteration.

It’s easy to fall into familiar patterns. I like routine, because then I know what I’m doing. That control is nice to have, as well as the feeling of security, stability.

Yet, not all norms are healthy, nor beneficial. An example of this could be when experiencing a rough patch in a friendship, my first presumption has been that the friendship is most likely to then end. This is false; while a possibility, there’s also the chance that it is a time to strengthen the friendship, clearing up misunderstandings and learning how to prevent them, as well as work through them better, for the future. Now, if experiencing insecurity in a friendship, while I do deem my panic valid, I also am quicker to remember that a) this will likely resolve itself and blow over, and b) it is not the end of the world either way.

It’s taken many difficulties to get to this point, having grown in this partially because of how many times it has occurred; this development also stems from how tired I am of experiencing this, feeling all the emotions that come from such a thought. I have learned to recover faster, to pull myself up again, to change my outlook, because the pattern wasn’t a good one. Merely repeating myself achieved nothing for me.

Reiteration involves looking to improve each time – and that includes starting from the bottom, from the very worst.

I was working late one night in university on a project with a colleague and friend, one I greatly admire. While attempting to analyze data or write a report, one of the two, we also discussed entrepreneurship. I spoke of how I admire those who strive to launch these businesses, and how I could never do it – or, something along those lines. And, I cited how I thought these ventures as brave due to the risk of failure.

My friend asked me whether there was something wrong with failure then. After I responded, he then went to the others working in the same area, people he knew, asking them if they thought failure was bad. The collective answer was that it isn’t – because, it’s a way of learning.

I was listening to Seth Godin the other day, and he spoke of how failure is good; it’s part of innovation, and if you can take a risk without considerable penalty, you should. How else does one grow if playing it completely safe?

To me, with my career path specifically, part of why I dislike feeling ‘lost’ is due to the lack of stability, security. I’m worried of choosing one field, because I don’t want to find myself ‘stuck’ in something that won’t make me happy. I want to explore so as to be able to determine one route that may work.

The truth is, no matter how much time I take, there are no guarantees; there’s none in choosing ‘one path’, and there’s none as I look around at the possibilities.

Some realizations need to hit you over and over again before they sink in; this is one for me, that either way, I will be taking a risk, and in some ways, I need to. But, though I still feel ‘lost’, I can change what I do, how I view, where I am in life. The first change earlier this year was in how I thought I’d use this time to explore. A newer layer to that is in using this time of discernment is how I really need to push myself as I explore, to look and consider things. Being passive gets me nowhere; claiming things gets me nowhere.

Maybe this sounds similar to before, but it’s a renewal to me, for me. I am invigorated once more as life goes on, as I head through it. Perhaps repetition has its uses, if it leads me to reiterate, to grow upon failure, to learn from it.

I’m starting to think this is resiliency: not only being able to get up from a fall, but to recover quicker, better, each time.

Figuring things out, and getting closer and better, improving, each time

Figuring things out, and getting closer and better, improving, each time



Going Back to My Roots: A Month Back in KW


I’ve been living in my childhood home for the past month, and it’s interesting, because this is the first time that I’ve been here, for more than a two-week period, in years.

As some may know, from following me on Instagram, I’ve been keeping myself busy with gardening. However, this is not the only way I’ve come home to ‘go back to my roots.’ (That may or may not have been an attempt at a pun; if you love it, let me know. If you don’t, then, let’s just carry on.)

Photo taken in Uptown Waterloo, outside the Original Princess Cinemas by Janice Lam (lamjylam). Unsure of what it is, however.

Photo taken in Uptown Waterloo, outside the Original Princess Cinemas. Unsure of what it is.

There’s the fact that I’m home in itself. I love my family, yet living back here for more than two weeks at a time, has been a transition. It means getting used to certain schedules, and reminding my family members that certain foods aren’t safe for me due to my anaphylactic allergies. It also means getting to truly explore my hometown, as well, and see what changes have occurred, such as all this construction with the light rail being built. It’s cool, in some ways, to come back now and be more independent in getting around, which leads me to discover more cool things that Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) possesses. It’s also thought-provoking, to see what is gone, and what has replaced these.

With exploring KW and reacquainting myself with the city, part of this has included seeking new opportunities. I’ve been trying to get more involved in the community here, be it through different positions, various programs, or even events held by the city (see the Slideshow below for photos from the DISC program kick-off). Living in London the past few years for university has taught me a lot about myself, and has helped me grow – both as a person, and with regards to my skillset. I want to put those lessons, be it from in or out of the classroom, and continue on a path of discovery.

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I am happy to say that I am employed, part-time. At the moment, I’m working remotely for Western University, as a content developer for a project that will help incoming Psychology students in their transition to university. It has worked out nicely, since this position allows me to live and work from home, while utilizing my creativity as well as my education, and comes with a lot of flexibility. That last component is especially great, as I have found myself picking up some old hobbies.

One is gardening, as I mentioned earlier; I’ve always liked being outside, enjoying the sun and fresh air (though, not the mosquitoes. I donate blood already!).

As well, there’s the hobby of photography. Right after I finished my undergraduate studies, before I went on my Ottawa trip, I bought a new phone, one I chose partially due to its camera functions. Some friends would say I’ve always been a bit of a shutterbug, but this phone has truly led me to explore more in this art. Not only do my photos come out better, but I also have enough storage for photo editing apps like VSCO (feel free to check me out here; also, let me know if this site is still relevant?).

This is partially why I’ve been posting so much more on Instagram, and why there have been several photos of plants, and the outdoors; the beautiful weather, and exploring KW, be it my backyard or the towns, has provided me a wide range of opportunities to play with my phone camera. An aspect of that, for me, is trying out different angles, to find the best shot; different angles can also lead one to view things and places in different ways.

Wild fungi growing in my backyard. Photo taken by Janice Lam (lamjylam)

Wild fungi growing in my backyard.

Coming home for the summer was always in the plans. Coming home for a time with no exact deadline has been different, and was, at first, unexpected. However,  it’s been a good time so far, and I hope more here continues to show me different things.

End note: There’s also the fact that I started blogging here again, and that’s nice. I just hope anyone reading this enjoys what I write somewhat as much as I enjoy writing these random – with regards to both timing and content – posts.  

Encourage Learning: Discouraging Attitudes in the Mental Health Field


An older man happily talking to - and hopefully encouraging - a younger man at a conference.

Summer officially started June 21st but for me, it’s been over two months since class-free days began. For those who don’t know, I’m an undergraduate student working towards earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. This is a step I’ve chosen to take towards becoming a counselling professional. A journey of learning will pay dividends in the end; this is a strong belief of mine.

It’s why despite having a term off school, I continue to seek and pursue learning opportunities. A few I’ve already attended include certificate courses and conferences related to mental health. Though I definitely don’t regret the experiences, there is a trend I’ve noticed in regards to them.

Some of the presenters and fellow attendees were certainly friendly, but most – typically professionals who had been in the field for twenty or more years – acted quite frosty towards me. During networking breaks, when attempting to acquaint myself with others, I was dismissed. It was clearly audible in reluctant tones and eyes searching for a different conversation partner. This was a situation I encountered over and over again, and at one event, I even heard jokes occuring at my expense right after I turned away.

These events were ones focused on mental health that encouraged learning. Both professionals and students – and in some cases, even the general public – were the intended audiences for these occasions, according to the descriptions provided beforehand. Thus, I had believed that the atmospheres at these educational opportunities would be inviting and encouraging. These expectations were not met.

I am disappointed but my purpose of sharing this is to speculate on these attitudes and how they may discourage others from attending, learning and becoming involved in the mental health field. At one conference I recently attended, it was said that mental health is the biggest thing in medicine right now. Perhaps there are many already interested in entering the mental health field in addition to those already practicing, but what about the next generation? What about the people who are still deciding where to practice, those who have potential?

Inclusiveness is key to growth for new people bring new perspectives and ideas. Mental health is a field that has existed for quite a bit of time now and I am certain it will continue to exist if not evolve. However, such will only occur if people continue to be involved. Accepting those who want to would be a first step towards this.

Everyone is affected by mental health in some form. Thus, everyone should get the chance to learn about it as much as they want to. Education is empowering, a tool that aids change. Let’s allow it. Let’s be happy to see people newly interested and getting involved.

Lovely photo taken by Sebastiaan ter Burg