Turning 22: “Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you.”

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“We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah.”

I turn 22 today, so, of course, Taylor Swift is playing on my laptop.The lyrics for her song, though, are relatable; they’re things I’ve been feeling for the last while.

Everyone’s been asking me where I see myself in the next five years. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I’ve felt lost, and how this is a time where I’m rediscovering things about myself, and what makes me happy. My work, new material I’ve been exposing myself to, and various projects have helped me in determining a better idea of this.

However, that doesn’t mean the confusion necessarily lessens.

I joke about how I’m being faced with #adulting, but it’s true. Different responsibilities weigh on my shoulders than before; while it’s been a quick transition with regards to how long it took to take on those tasks, and to try my best at them, my mind sometimes is still amazed at the idea of it all. I’ll find myself asking: am I ready to do this? Shouldn’t I have a better sense of what I am doing, and where I’m going?

I like research; Google and talks with friends help a lot. It’s the latter activity, actually, which has helped me the most. Conversations with those who face, or have faced, the same transition provide reassurance, as well as advice. These talks are validation, which calms the insecurities, but they’re also opportunities to bond, be vulnerable, and to let go of everything that plagues us.

“Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines, it’s time, uh oh.”

While I may talk about work and other struggles in my life with friends, we also have fun, be it with board games, food, or sharing stories, laughter ensuing these times. I love these people, those who I can have ‘deep’ conversations with, while also enjoying ‘shallower’ moments, times where I can be silly. I like being able to show multiple sides of myself, and knowing that these people will accept any of them, that I can be comfortable in revealing these aspects of myself. I can share my happiness and my fears. A place of safety and understanding is formed with these friends; no physical location is needed except for the space we share.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.
Everything will be alright, if you keep me next to you.”

People need people. (Don’t mind me as I quote Skam; Noora Saetre’s a favourite character, and if you know this show, talk to me.) I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without friends, and I’m so grateful for all the people who’ve remained in my life, as well as newer ones I’ve met. Whether it is one conversation we’ve had, a smile shared, or several long Skype talks, as well as meetings over coffee, they’ve helped.

Some conversations have been life-changing, with regards to my perspective and understanding on various matters. Other gestures may appear smaller, such as just a well-timed joke that makes me laugh, or a listening ear to what feels like me ‘babbling’ out everything in my mind, but they are just as appreciated. These are what make people memorable to me, whether they remain in my life or if it was just a brief encounter, and they have no idea of there being such an impact.

When asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, or how I’d spend it, all I replied with was how I just wanted time with friends and family. I don’t need gifts, if I have the people I love around me, and with me. Even if further away, I appreciate any well-wishes or thoughts from the individuals I treasure deeply.

It’s nice to know there are people I can enjoy time with out there. And, no matter what happens with life, if I’m lost or facing issues, I know everything will be alright, if I have those people next to me.

All credits for the gif goes to its maker. 

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First Impressions & Accurate Ideas of a Person

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First impressions are everything.

Sometimes, that phrase leaves me scrambling through my closet for the perfect outfit. For the past two months, however, the thought has led to an attempt to rebrand – to rebrand this blog, and basically, to rebrand me.

The First Thought

Had I not discovered my love for Psychology, I would have pursued marketing as my field of study. I have enjoyed graphic design and social media promotion for a long time, and in the past two years at university, I have been granted opportunities to develop these skills.

This led to me thinking about my ‘personal brand.’ What does ‘lamjylam’ stand for? What do people think it stands for? How would people perceive me were they to read my blog? My social media posts? How is this in comparison to if they have met me and spent time with me offline?

In other words, how do people see me? Musing over this led to some lengthy reflection periods.

What I saw

I am active in the field of mental health advocacy. My social media displays this, showing some of the projects I’ve been involved with. Hence, many of those in my life are aware of my passion for mental health. This is something I know through how they approach me, the reason they come talk to me typically having to do with the cause.

However, for the last while, it has felt more and more like people only see me as an advocate. As someone with one passion, one interest. I appreciate the acknowledgement of my activities yet want it to be known that there are other aspects to me besides my passion for mental health. People are multi-faceted; I am not an exception to this.

Determining this led to writing up my last post before I closed the blog down for the past few months. In that time, I thought about what else it is I do, what else it is I’m interested in, how people can and do learn of these things typically; through those ponderings, I came to a few realizations.

Some Truths:

  1. First impressions are not everything.

You can get an idea of who someone is and what they’re capable of the first time you meet them. But you don’t know what circumstances you find them in. Context can make a large difference. Perhaps that’s part of why some jobs have multiple interviews!

  1. Social media does not show everything.

With social media, the tendency is to display our best moments. It’s not quite a selfie of our reality in those cases. It’s a showcase of our greatest achievements, our proudest moments, our happiest times. None of those are bad things – but the journey isn’t necessarily captured in those posts. The difficult moments where you almost wanted to quit, the struggle, the hard work put in to succeed – those are what’s missed. How you handled those times may never be known by those who only go through social media feeds. That’s just an example of something that would have really displayed one aspect of a person. An example of something people may not know yet may want to know.

  1. You may actually provide multiple first impressions for the same person. 

The first time you meet them, you meet them under certain circumstances. As mentioned, context makes a difference in how a person will present themselves to you, whether consciously or unconsciously. Thus, with some people, depending on the relationship, you may start seeing them in various settings. These can bring about a different part of them, be it an expression, a type of behaviour, or the type of conversation they carry. These can be revealing of the multiple facets there are to a person, and with each side encountered, there can be a new ‘first impression.’ A first impression of that person’s side, which can be added onto the current idea you have of them. This then results in a more accurate concept of who someone is.

My Takeaway:

Obviously, I have revived the blog. I missed writing during my time away and now regret having taken that break.

I took down the blog so I could write better posts, but what I feel are my best posts, my most authentic posts, are those that are randomly inspired by life. When the blog was down, during those times of inspiration, I thought that it was best to not write the posts. This was due to a fear that whatever I posted wouldn’t ‘fit’ whatever image I decided to portray on my blog. What I have come to realize though is that I want my blog to reflect me. Not just my activities, but my thoughts, which could be on topics such as mental health but could spread to other interests such as marketing – one I mentioned earlier.  The best way I can have a personal brand is to establish who I am, and I can do that by… just showing who I am.

With each new thing I write about, or do, each new thing that may surprise someone, that can be a new first impression. I don’t need to necessarily stick with one aspect and only portray that one. I am a multi-faceted person. Each first impression will help show that and build up the representation people have of me.

I am Janice Lam. Here’s a possible first impression for you.

Answering the ‘What’: Rushing Less with Friendship

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There was a day when I finished work on campus early, meaning I had thirty extra minutes to spend on anything I wanted. They could have been used to work on readings for my courses. They could have been used to study for an upcoming midterm. I could have also used them to write a blogpost because it’s been bothering me that I haven’t updated in awhile.

None of those options were the one I chose. Rather, I chose to allocate that time and spend it… sitting.

I didn’t even go back to my residence first. I chose to just exit my work area, walk over to where the comfy chairs were, and just… sit.

For twenty minutes, I sat with sunshine beaming on my back through the windows while people passed by me, going to where duty called them. Their quick steps appeared to mean there was a need to get to places promptly, with no time to loiter around. Meanwhile, I just scrolled through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

It was wonderful.

This last month, I have felt like I’m always rushing. From class to meetings to volunteering to social events – I’m always looking at my calendar to see what’s next on my schedule. Even my time on the internet typically consists of following a plan. Emails relentlessly flow into my inbox, ones that must be answered. Updates on social media are for promoting club activities, campaigns, and events I’m involved with on some level.

I love all the things I do. I don’t mind being busy, really. I remember a few months ago, I was complaining about there being a lull in my schedule.

Nonetheless, being busy has its downfalls. I have to choose which events to attend, looking at criteria such as whether friends are hosting them or if the events are educational. My sleep schedule has shifted to later hours, both for sleeping and waking purposes. I always get what I need to get done completed, but spontaneity has almost disappeared.

So that chance to just sit and breathe was lovely. Going through social media and actually getting to read about what people are up to and thinking, tuning in back to my friends’ and the world’s lives and not focusing on my own as much – I realized I needed more time to do this.

I realized a few years ago that I wanted to study psychology because I love knowing what people are up to. The activities I’m currently involved in certainly add to my knowledge of why and how. Nonetheless, it’s the time spent talking with people and getting updates, be it in person or social media, that answers the question of what people are up to. Knowing what holds people’s interest is just as crucial as why and how, when trying to know people and who they are.

It’s why when I do have free moments, I try and have meaningful conversation with people. It’s why I prefer deep talks over small chat. Those who I share a relationship strong enough to have those with, I am so grateful for.

However, there are those who I definitely would like to get to know more. I can’t strengthen those relationships without being able to spend more time with them, though. Talking, interacting, attending events; doing what I can to learn their interests and open the opportunities to engage in a meaningful conversation with them is required.

It’s not so much a matter of making time to build connections but rather to open myself up to the chances for such connections. In my case, time does seem to be the main obstacle. I’m going to strive to work more efficiently so as to hopefully give myself some more ‘spare minutes.’ As well, I’m going to try and breathe when a friend asks to spend time together, giving myself a minute to really consider whether a task needs to be completed right at that minute. If it can wait, then I’ll try to really be present in that moment with the other person, rather than worrying over what awaits.

There will hopefully be less guilt, due to the increased amount of time I will get to be with amazing people. There will hopefully be a moment later in the year where I can look at the people I’m surrounded by and feel much closer to them than I do now. There will hopefully be less feelings of really being part of ‘a rat race’, always scurrying from one task to the next.

I look forward to it and other changes to come. Happy belated 2015, everyone.

Taking moments to relax and connect with others is important

Stock photo courtesy of Unsplash