I really wanted to write this note and publish it on the last day of 2015, but I honestly think that this is so important to sit down and type out now while I have the worlds to express what I’d like to say.
On the last day of 2014, I made a promise to myself that 2015 would be the year of self discovery, self growth, the pursuit to happiness, and, of course, #MakeTheSnip2015. I am by no means looking for sympathy, but the past few years prior were difficult for me; adjusting to University lifestyle, morphing into forced adulthood, etc. It’s so odd how in June of 2013, I had to ask a teacher’s permission to use the washroom, and in September of 2013, I was expected to read, memorize, and practically dictate the whole Little Brown Compact Handbook and pay student finances like a breeze.
Fortunately, 2015 was an extremely important year for me. The amount of things I have learned, discovered, observed, and experienced are all so meaningful. I figured that I should publicly share them to potentially reach to someone. I actually decided 2015 would be ‘my year’ after reading how someone made 2014 ‘their year’. Here it goes.
1. EVEN IF YOU DON’T THINK YOU ARE ATTRACTIVE, TELL YOURSELF OTHERWISE
This, to me, has been a very hard thing to do. As someone who has struggled with low self esteem both physically and emotionally for the majority of my lifestyle, I literally could not love anything about myself. I saw nothing good in myself, and because of that, continuously found myself unworthy or undeserving of many things. I was disgusted at how I looked. Gaining the courage to even compliment myself is huge. If I even said something as simple as, “Wow, my hair looks nice today,” my eyes would just immediately begin to tear up because in my heart I truly didn’t believe it. I found one physical trait about myself that I did like, however; my nose. I began to like my nose more and more, and began to just compliment that little part of myself. After a while, I noticed I was also blessed to have great eyebrows that I never have to pluck. That lead to me appreciating the fact that my hair and nails grow very rapidly, and that I have decent looking hands, and so on. Do I love every part of myself? Absolutely not. I dislike many things and hope to change those things, but that doesn’t mean I have to go through like not recognizing what I do like about myself. Do I actually think I look as beautiful as Beyonce? No, but me complimenting myself and gaining the courage to even make remarks like that shows that I truly do want to love who I am. I want to feel comfortable in my skin, and if that means me telling myself that I am hotter than Beyonce, so be it. It isn’t a matter of being cocky, but it is a matter of learning to love myself. (I am Sasha Fierce).
2. NOT EVERYONE LIKES HUGS
It is still an extremely weird concept to me, but not everyone likes hugs or being hugged. I used to take offence to this and assume people just didn’t want my hugs, but it turns out some people just do not like hugs. It make be an awkward situation for them to have a hug in, hugs may trigger past emotions and memories, or maybe hugs are considered intimate. Regardless, I have learned to ask before someone wants a hug. Always ask if someone wants a hug before you hug them.
3. OFFER HUGS TO PEOPLE
Even though not everyone likes hugs, it doesn’t hurt to ask someone if they do need/want a hug. I feel like many people lack common physical embrace due to the whole hands off policy thing, but with consent, there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes, hugs just make everything better. If you see someone may need that non-verbal reassurance, offer it up and make someone’s day. The body responds to both verbal and physical comfort. As long as you are both comfortable, why not, eh?
4. IF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO EAT ALL OF THE SUSHI YOU GET AT ALL YOU CAN EAT SUSHI, YOU PROBABLY STILL CANNOT DO IT, SO WHY TRY?
Seriously, my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and half of the food I order always goes to waste. Go with a group of friends that are willing to eat, and order only three things at a time. That way, you can keep reordering. It will help eliminate food going to waste.
5. NOT EVERYONE SAYS SORRY DIRECTLY BY SAYING, “SORRY.”
This was a huge lesson I learned this year. Not everyone has the courage to directly apologize over something. Not everyone can get over their pride to directly apologize. If someone is going out of their comfort zone and doing an act of kindness, it may be a form of apologizing.
It’s okay to not accept that. In some cases, a formal apology is directly needed out of respect. If their apology isn’t cutting it for you, make it clear. But if someone who has a hard time apologizing about anything musters up something positive and somewhat apologetic, recognize and appreciate the efforts that were made. Not everything has to be straight forward, because not all people are straight forward.
Also, some people are too prideful to say sorry, which is something huge that I've noticed. These people do need to get over themselves, but if they seem to get out any kind of apology, it's best to take it.
6. ONLY APOLOGIZE WHEN YOU GENUINELY FEEL SORRY
This was a huge thing for me, as even when I find myself to be correct, I used to always apologize for the sake of keeping a friendship, relationship, and/or connection. It began to be very unhealthy for me to do. I began to blame myself for absolutely anything negative that mat have happened, and doubted my heart many times. “Is there something more I could have done?” “Maybe I shouldn’t have done that.” “I should have known better.” Regretting every single thing you’ve ever done because it has upset people can make your whole life seem very pointless. It’s counterproductive. One cannot progress if they are too afraid of stepping on toes. My intentions are always positive and true. I would never intentionally harm anyone, and just because I may disagree with people and upset some people at times does not make me incorrect. Remember to stand your ground. If you truly feel in your heart that what you did isn’t something harmful to another person, then why should you apologize? Of course things can always be misinterpreted. Talk to the person who is offended. If they offer up a decent reason as to what you have said/done/behaved was offensive, give an apology and make sure you let them know that your intention wasn’t in that way. That is just common courtesy. However, if you did something that you truly feel isn’t wrong and it is for something you support and are passionate for, do not ever make yourself feel like what you are doing is wrong.
Since I’m not too sure if my point is clear, I will give a short example: I work with animals. A customer had come in and said they have had many goldfish in a bowl before, and each goldfish has lived for up to a year. Technically speaking, that isn’t really a good life for a goldfish, and I did take the time to explain to her why it wasn’t a good idea. I offered up alternatives, and showed her appropriate tanks for goldfish. She immediately became aggressive and demanded a goldfish. My job is to make sure every animal goes into a loving, caring, safe home. I told her she could not have her fish. She immediately told me, “My God, I am so offended.” I truly did not feel like I had to apologize, so I just said, “My intention isn’t to offend you, but it is my job to make sure these fish get the proper care they need.”
7. DON’T EVER BE AFRAID TO APOLOGIZE
No matter how minor the incident or how large the issue, if you genuinely feel sorry for any of your actions, words, and/or behaviour, let someone know. It does not make you weak. It does not make you look like some asshat who is constantly wrong. It makes you look like someone who is comfortable with being wrong at times, and accept that it is just a stepping stone in helping you learn. Apologize in a way that makes you feel comfortable, and in a way that makes the other person feel reassured.
8. SPEAK THE TRUTH, EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES
Always be honest with others and to yourself. I found myself unhappy for many years for giving the standard answers to things, but those answers were not true or clear representations of who I was, what my intentions were, or how I may have been feeling. Replying with little things like, “I’m fine” if you aren’t ‘fine’ and “Okay” when you actually do not find something okay become so automatic, that it keeps a barrier between your own persona and reality. My feelings, thoughts, and attitudes are all valid, so why should I not make them apart of my reality? If I am not fine, I will not tell you that I’m fine, and if I don’t like something, you are as sure as heck I will let you know! Even if something is hard for you to tell someone, let them know. Let people know things because you love them, respect them, and want to fix things. Even if what you have to say is hard for you to get out, rip it off like a bandage. Keeping things bottled up inside is torture and causes more problems down the line. Be respectful, calm, kind, and collective when telling people things; do not ever break boundaries and insult someone. If what you have to say is something you find ‘truthful’ but hurtful, don’t bother saying that. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. Know the difference between being truthful and being incredibly indecent and rude. This helps you stay true to yourself, and when you are true to yourself, you are keeping a promise to yourself that the little things that make you, you are valid.
9. RACISM IS STILL ALIVE
It is continuous, and at the rate people are handling it, the issue will be persistent for many years. For many, many years, I figured that racism was dead, because I truly believed that all people thought the way I did. After going to University, my eyes opened up to the harsh reality. Just because I do not have prejudices and discriminate against people, doesn’t mean other people don’t. Innocent people are being seen as inferior, and being treated with the most passive-aggressive forms of racism that can be so subtle and unnoticed, and if they keep getting away with it, they will continue to become colder and more callous. Educate yourselves on different ethnic backgrounds, and stand with the people who are fighting for equal rights. Embrace the beauty and differences that other cultures have to offer. It is so lovely to have so many backgrounds and types of people in the world; all have something unique and special to offer. If you don’t open your eyes now, you will never see how beautiful people are.
9.5. DISCRIMINATION IS A HUGE ISSUE
Take a stand. Fight for the rights of minorities. All minorities. Advocate and empower the people who are marginalized for who they are due to discrimination and do the right thing. For example, if you see someone making fun of someone for their weight, tell them to quit it, and you find something about that victim you find beautiful, and you tell them that they are beautiful. If you see someone mocking an elderly individual, you tell them to be more patient and considerate. If you see someone being made fun of for their sexual orientation/identity, validate the victim of the harassment that the issue is not them, and defend them against the other person who is causing harm. Things cannot change if you are not willing to change your habits in protecting others.
10. IF SOMEONE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, THEY ARE NOT A PERSON YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE
It’s difficult to accept, but some people will not always care about your mental health. Many people are egotistical and manipulate everything and anything to be about themselves. If someone ever says you are being sad for ‘attention’ instead of asking exactly what has got you down, avoid them. If someone tells you that you have no reason to be upset, avoid them. If someone ever tells you that your feelings or wrong or stupid, they are a dangerous person. If someone cannot recognize when they are harming you and instead tells you that you are wrong, that is not right. If someone tells you that your problems are not worth speaking about due to incredibly stupid reasons, they do not care about you. A few of the things I have been told by some people this year are, “Your problems aren’t as bad as _____’s, so why are you so down?”, “Your feelings aren’t really worth talking about, because I can’t do or say anything to make you feel better”, and, “There is no point in talking about your problems.” That is disgusting. If someone is not in a good state to talk about their problems, that is different (and if this is case, always let someone know if you are not feeling up to it), but do not ever reject someone in need. They are reaching out, and 99% of people don’t choose to be sad, or even want attention. If a “friend” ever says these things to you, they are not a friend.
11. NEVER BE ASHAMED OF STIGMATIZED ASPECTS OF YOURSELF
This one is a bit more personal, but I did want to share it with you all. I was formally diagnosed this year with not only severe anxiety disorder, but panic disorder, which no one had ever considered me to have. It was a relief to find out that the way I think isn’t my fault; I just can’t help but worry and over think. I have had many people not understand this and get angry at me, think I’m “faking”, and blame me for many things due to this. I have also met many people who accommodate me, understand what it is like, and have been there for me through thick and thin. I would especially like to thank all of my friends who have been there for me, even when times were very hard for me. Thank you for dealing with my mood swings and comforting me. You know who you are, and you have absolutely no idea how grateful I am to have you. Because of the good that has happened, I am finding it easier to love myself, even though I always panic. I know it isn’t ‘normal’ to vomit during exams from stress, get nosebleeds from stress, or cry and shake in panic. This year I have managed to get academic accommodations to better myself, and because of that, my grades have sky-rocketed.
12. LOVE HAS NO BOUNDARIES
You can love whoever your heart desires, no matter how far away they are. If someone makes your heart feel whole and happy just by being them, something must be special about them. Love someone who makes you feel like you’re special, who does cute little things for you, and expresses how important you are. Don’t give up on people you love just because of rough patches. Times can be tough, and it is difficult to have distance between two people, but remember why you loved that person in the first place, and try to think of all the happy times the future has to hold. People get busy, and that is okay; business doesn’t change love.
13. PEOPLE WILL JUDGE ANYTHING AND ANYONE
Just because someone does something you may not do yourself, does not make what they are doing ‘weird’ or ‘wrong’. If you dislike smoking, don’t do it. If you dislike drinking, don’t do it. If you dislike sleeping around, don’t do it. If you couldn’t do certain things in a relationship that someone else does, don’t do those things. If you can’t imagine yourself wearing clothes someone else is wearing, don’t wear them. Just because someone else is doing that stuff, does not make them wrong or bad. It means that they have a different lifestyle than you. As long as everything is legal and no one is getting harmed, it is absolutely none of your business to judge someone’s happiness based on your own values. The only exception to this rule is disliking people who eat sushi with a fork (kidding, of course).
14. ACCUTANE: CLEARS YOUR SKIN, MAKES YOU SUICIDAL
As many of you may know, I was on Accutane for one year, three months, two weeks, and three days. My acne was so horrible and painful, and I really needed this cure to work. Unfortunately, one of the main side effects of the pill is causing depression and suicidal thoughts. For that duration of my life, everything was a blur. I do not remember that time of my life vividly because I was just so constantly sad for absolutely no reason. A week or so after getting off of the pill, I felt like my old self again, and like I woke up from a horrible curse. I am sorry for being so emotional during that year, but again, thank you to everyone who was there for me. Just know that if you consider using Accutane, prepare for living in a daze, being constantly fatigued, and crying for no reason all the time. I mean, my skin does look better now, but I am not sure I would have gone through the treatments if I would have know it would take that big of a toll on me.
15. GOODBYE DOESN’T MEAN FOREVER
Rekindle old friendships. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you miss someone, let them know. What do you really have to lose? Throughout the year, I have rekindled many old friendships and I have never regretted it once. Sometimes, we are not meant to be in every chapter of a person’s life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t come back in the future. Sometimes people just need some time apart, and that seemed to be the case with me and the certain people I had lost for a bit. We just were going through two different paths in our journey into adulthood and needed time. If someone is meant to be in your life, they will always come back into it.
16. MAKE MEMORIES; GET INVOLVED
I have been getting more engaged in my classes and speaking up, and getting involved with the community for a while now. I have gained a lot of knowledge, experience, and insight through my volunteer work and these classroom experienced that have helped shaped me as a person. I have been able to figure out what I like and dislike, and who I am as a person due to these things. Help your community, and by doing so, you will help yourself. Help out with at least one organization, and I promise you that the benefits you will get in return for your time outweigh any doubts you have about volunteering.
17. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY PETS...
...unless it is a hoarding issue, in which case, that is too many pets. But I truly believe that pets make all humans better people, and there is so much we can learn from animals. Surrounding myself with my pets is something that truly makes me happy. I will continue to fight for animal rights, freedom, and justice until the day I die, and will continue to protect and care for any animal I can. Even if times get tough with my pets, they will still be able to get out of their cages, eat as much as they’d like for whatever they care for, and get snuggles from me. Even though sometimes they can be expensive (medically, mostly), I will never give up on them because I am all they have. When I am blue, all I need to do is hug Fletcher and the fact that is so happy to be with me makes me happy. Having compassion and empathy for vulnerable living creatures makes you more human than people who do not, in my opinion. It teaches you to not care for yourself, and to care for others who may depend on you. If you want a pet, adopt one, but please be sure you have the means and capacity to care for them.
18. GREEN DAY STILL IS, AND, ALWAYS WILL BE, THE BEST BAND EVER
This one is a no brainer. Agree with me. Their lyrics are so relevant to my life and they have impacted me tremendously. Here is a video to prove why they are amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFP...
18.5. MAC DEMARCO IS LOVE, MAC DEMARCO IS LIFE
In the summer, I had the amazing time seeing Mac DeMarco live with two of my best friends. I absolutely love his music and his attitude and lyrics have really helped me think about my own life a lot. I’m so happy I got into his music.
19. FLOSS YOUR TEETH,
TRUST ME. FLOSS. FLOSS. FLOSS. YOUR TEETH WILL FEEL AMAZING EVERY TIME, AND YOUR GUMS WILL EVENTUALLY STOP BLEEDING, I PROMISE YOU.
20. DO NOT TAKE PEOPLE FOR GRANTED, ESPECIALLY YOURSELF
Tell people how much they mean to you. I have realized this late in the year, and my plans for 2016 are to always let people know how much I appreciate them and love them. Life is so short and so precious, so let people know how precious they are to you. There are so many people that I value, need, and love with all of my heart. Thank you all so much for making my life so wonderful. I value each and every one of my friends, and please never think for a second that I don’t. If I ever seem like I am not doing enough, let me know, and I promise I never want to make you feel any less than how I actually feel for you. Also, recognize your strengths. Embrace your weaknesses. Set goals. Love yourself no matter what. You are capable of more than you think, remember that.
To end off, I would just like to once again thank everyone who has been apart of my life. I have had hardships and so many gains this year. I never thought so much self growth could be possible in one year, but it was. Thank you so much. I hope 2016 is blessed for all of us (I will probably edit in a better ending to this note in the future, but for now, I’m too tired to think)!