When things get tough…

Stress is something we have all been through, and will continue to go through. Stress is inevitable. You can’t avoid it and you can’t escape it. It’s a part of life, and so instead of letting it take over our lives, tackle it head on and take it down before it can do its damage. Whatever you do, don’t give it the power to control you.

As someone who has never dealt with stress very well, I wanted to write this post to share with everyone what I try to do to avoid succumbing to the suffocating grasp of what we call stress. Especially since us students are now entering midterm season.

Dealing with Stress

  1. Meditate. You might be scoffing at this, and I did too at first, but trust me on this one… it works wonders. All you have to do is sit, close your eyes, and try and clear your mind of anything and everything. Don’t think of anything for 5 minutes. If your mind starts to wander, just immediately start thinking, “oh no, I’m thinking!” and just try clearing your mind. It might be difficult getting used to not thinking of anything, but once you become composed enough to just sit there in silence, and even out your breathing, it feels really wonderful. Stress is one of the main factors that cloud our mind from thinking straight and cause us to do impulsive things, and so for me, I found this to be a good way to stop my negative thoughts and cleanse my mind.
  2. Take a break. Do something you enjoy, like going to the gym, watching an episode of your favourite tv show, playing an instrument, going out for a short walk, or you could always meditate. Whatever you do, do not work until you have a mental breakdown and fry your brains. You can do chores, if it helps take your mind off of the stress for a while!
  3. Think to yourself, “what will stressing out do for me?” The truth is, it really does nothing for you. All it does is impair your thinking, slow you down, and cloud your mind into thinking depressing things. Instead, try and think about the present, and less about the future, for the moment. Time is an independent thing, that won’t slow down for you or speed up for you. You can’t fight time, so just let it be. If you have something due in 2 hours, don’t stress. It will only slow you down. Just try your hardest and do your best, because when that time comes, at least you will know that you tried your hardest.
  4. Cry, scream, whatever. Just let it all out. One thing that’s hard for me, to do is to cry, especially in front of other people. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s showing weakness in front of others, but just know that it’s okay to cry. Go home, sit on your bed, grab a box of Kleenix, and cry until your eyes are dried out. Your eyes will feel puffy after, but after a while, no matter how hard you cry, your tears won’t spill anymore. That’s when you realize, “what was I crying about?” When you cry until you can’t cry anymore, that’s when you realize you have stuff to do and can’t waste any more time crying about it.
  5. Take a quick shower. Shower time is thinking time, and also a great time to clear your mind. Not to mention you’ll feel instantly refreshed afterwards.
  6. If all else fails… nap. Sleep is such a beautiful thing. When you wake up, you might even forget what you were stressing about.

Preventing Stress

Of course, it’s good to be able to cope with stress, but it would be even better if we could avoid it altogether. Here are some tips, from my own experience, of minimizing stress:

  1. Manage your time wisely. Set priorities. Don’t wait until the last minute. I cannot stress this enough. As someone who has always left things until the last minute, I have gone through way too many close calls until I finally learned about the joys of getting something done early. Just because there’s a due date, doesn’t mean you you can’t finish it early. Once you get into the habit of starting things right when you get them, or getting your assignments done early, you’ll be able to feel more relaxed when the due date approaches, because you know you’ve already got some, or most, of your work done. Trust me. Handing in something early feels amazing and the fact that you don’t have to worry about it anymore means you can start focusing on other things that matter.
  2. Create incentive. Restrict yourself from turning on your brand new PS4 until you’ve finished what you need to finish. This gives you a goal to work towards, and the reward feels 10x better once you know that you’ve finished what you need to finish and can enjoy your new Final Fantasy game to the fullest, without having to worry, because you earned it!
  3. Surround yourself with positive people; cut out the dead weights. There is nothing worse than being surrounded by negative people. These types of people want to drag you down with them, and will morph your thoughts into negative ones like their own, but don’t give them that satisfaction. You are different. You have hope. You want to change for the better, and there are many people out there who would love you have you as a friend. I used to have a friend who was always causing drama and constantly complaining to me about everything from teachers, to friends, to little things people did like tap their pencils on the desk, and eventually, I found myself thinking like her. All the things she found annoying, I started to find annoying. I realized before it was too late, and cut ties. I know it sounds awful, but I don’t want to turn into that kind of person, who can’t enjoy anything in life because they’re always worrying and stressing over what other people you, you know? Surround yourself by those people with goals, who look forward to things in their life, who are living every minute of their life to the fullest. When you’re surrounded by smiles, you will find yourself smiling as well.

And one last thing. Know that there are people out there for you to talk to. Friends, family, teachers, even your pets. Talking about something is a good way to relieve stress. I used to bottle everything inside, and I always felt shy or ashamed to tell anyone, but eventually, I started to confide in my sister about stuff that stressed me out, and surprisingly enough, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, and it sure helped by talking to someone with a clear head. She offered help and advice, and slowly, I started to feel hopeful again. I knew that whatever I was going through right now, at least I would have my sister… and my friends and family, and everyone else important to me.

Just know that when the going gets tough, no matter what you are going through, you will always have someone there for you. If things turn out badly, that’s okay. That’s life. It’s not the end of the world. Let go of that stress and move on. There’s nothing you can do about it except try and fix it and learn from it. Hold on to hope and stress will never be able to get the best of you.

Emily

Appreciate what other people willingly do for you

I am trying to keep this blog as light and positive as possible, but I think it’s important for me to share some realistic life experiences of mine as well. I hope that you’ll think that, even if this post isn’t as uplifting and inspirational as what I usually try to post, that you’ll be able to learn something else from it as well.

So, as you may, or may not, know, I am now moved into my new apartment shared with 4 other girls. You might think, “oh, it’s an all girls suite, it must be super clean.” Well… that’s where you’re wrong. Girls can be just as messy as boys, and I’ve learned that from the past 2 years of living with others. So let’s stop this gender discrimination and look at the truth, shall we?

I have actually been to an all boys suite before, and it was much, MUCH cleaner than ours. They cleaned up the stove after cooking, did the dishes together, cleared the table, put everything back where it belonged. To be honest, I was a little surprised, but also proud of them. And that’s when I realized that gender really has nothing to do with cleanliness.

It’s the effort that someone is willing to put in to keep their living space clean.

After 3 weeks of trying to put up with the mess and dirt in my apartment, thinking things like, “oh, I’m not living here permanently, only for a year, so I shouldn’t stress too much over these things and focus on my studies,” but for a neat-freak like me, I can’t seem to focus when the place is filthy.

So I got down one day and scrubbed down the bathroom, and kitchen. Of course, when I clean, it’s because I want to, and I actually find cleaning very satisfying after I finish, and it helps to clear my mind when I’m stressed about schoolwork, but sometimes I just feel really unappreciated and I feel like I’m the only one who ever cares about taking care of the space I’m living in.

I spent half an hour cleaning the kitchen, and it looks great now, but it saddens me that after a couple weeks, it’ll probably return to dirty state it was originally in, and no one will clean it except me… again.

No one ever thanked me for cleaning anything… it’s like they expected someone else to clean up their mess. Even when they saw me cleaning, they didn’t say a word, or offer to help. They just went back to their rooms and shut the door.

Someone even went as far as to stick a note to the fridge saying, “please take turns keeping the kitchen clean!” without even bothering to clean the kitchen. If you want someone else to help keep the place clean, at least do something yourself before you stick a note up telling others what to do! Remember that phrase, “practice what you preach?”

I don’t do things for other people because I expect a thank you, but at the same time, I am not another person’s own personal maid. If you don’t want to thank me in words, that’s completely fine with me. I just want you to show your gratitude by at least trying to put in a little effort to keep the area I just cleaned, clean.

I am cleaning this place for myself, not for others, and so that is why I will continue to clean, even if it is unfair, and even if I’m the only one who’s bothering to do it.

Sometimes it just sucks when you do something nice for others, and they don’t even notice or care…

Please everyone, take the time to appreciate the things people silently and willingly do for you, because not everyone is willing to do that, and one day, they might not be there for you anymore.

If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.

If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.

– Jean-Paul Sartre

I came across this quote as I was reading the comments to someone’s post who said they were feeling lonely in college, and I couldn’t help but think it was such a coincidence that I was thinking that earlier as well, and how true this quote is.

The first week at my new university was pretty brutal, and I couldn’t stop comparing myself to everyone around me, who seemed to all have friends and someone to sit beside and talk to in class. For me, I came to this school by myself, and so I was completely alone. I started getting sad and lonely.

At first, I went to orientation, openly talked to random people in class, but it turned out to be really hard to keep in contact after, especially since all the lectures are so big. After I talked to them, I’d never see them again after that, and so it was hard for me to make new friends and hold onto them.

Then one day, I just suddenly thought to myself: what’s the rush? Why was I so intent on finding friends? Friendship is something that takes time. If they’re not your friend right now, maybe they’re not meant to be, maybe they are. You never know. Besides, I was here for my education, not to make a billion friends in the first month.

And so after realizing this, my time alone didn’t feel so depressing anymore. After I threw away that need to desperately find a friend, or to always be with someone, I found that being alone wasn’t so bad. Of course, this doesn’t mean I will be giving up on making friends; they will come eventually, when the time is right.

So to anyone out there who is currently feeling lonely in college or university. Don’t take it so seriously. Find something to do on your own time to keep you busy until clubs start having their first meeting. Watch tv, cook, play guitar, piano, whatever. When the clubs start, I bet, you and me both, will find people with the same interests as us. Join lots of clubs that interest you, and get involved in the community. That way, I’m sure you’ll end up finding some of friends.

Study what you love

This particular experience that I’m posting to my blog is the one that inspired the creation of this blog in the first place. It’s what changed me as a person and opened my eyes to the real world; I’d say that it was my first, real big mistake in life, with seriously big consequences… It’s a little long, so please bear with me. Here goes.

As a first-year university student almost done her first year, I’ve been through so many ups and downs and new experiences that came with university. After moving away from a sheltered home to a whole new environment with unlimited freedom, I unfortunately made the wrong choices.

It all started before university, actually, with my university application. When trying to choose my future career, the only thing I had in mind was a path that would be the quickest way to graduating and earning lots of money. The only jobs I even considered were ones that earned at least 100k or more, and had less than 5 years of post-secondary education. That’s how I ended up applying to Accounting.

I know this sounds really shallow and despicable, and I agree, but I was naive at the time and thought that I could do anything. Growing up, I always had high marks, without putting in 100%  of the effort, and so I somehow got the idea in my head that life would be just as easy. I figured that I would study those 5 years, get good grades, get an awesome co-op job, and graduate to become a Chartered Accountant at one of the Big Four. I would make lots of money, pay off my university debt, and be able to do all the things I wanted to do in life, like travel the world, buy luxurious items, and live in a beautiful house in the city. Money would never be an obstacle to being able to pursue my dreams and do the things I wanted.

Boy, was I wrong.

I got accepted to all 5 universities that I applied to, all of them quite prestigious and well known programs for accounting, and accepted my offer to the most competitive and prestigious one of them all. Thus begins the experience that changed my outlook on life.

All throughout first-year, I noticed that I no longer stood out. There were others as smart as me, and many others even smarter. As a student who was always substantially above the class average in high school, I found myself substantially below the program average in university. I was doing terrible and actually failed some midterms–and by fail, I don’t mean 60%–I mean below 50%. I became depressed about school and was beginning to think that I was actually dumb and that I didn’t belong here in university, but the truth of the matter was: I didn’t put in enough effort.

It wasn’t just one thing that caused this. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this actually.

First, during the first term of university, I met A LOT of new people; one boy in particular, who I started to kind of like. I thought he was different: smart, helpful, funny. Sometimes when we talked about things that he liked, I could see the passion in his eyes and excitement in his voice. I saw a different side of him that he had when he wasn’t with his bros. I spent a lot of time with him and his friends, and put my schoolwork second. Being able to spend time with him was my first priority. I stayed up hours past my bedtime (let’s just say 4am was considered early) just to be with him, but eventually we started to drift apart. I don’t want to get too into detail since that’s not the point of this post, but when 2nd term came, he was no longer a big part of my life. I’d wasted all that time that I could have used to study, but in a way, it was a good experience and life lesson learned. I don’t regret the time spent with him, as it made me really happy, but at the same time, I know now not to devote your life to someone else, especially if it’s going to harm your education. I learned to be less dependent.

Second, and most importantly, by 2nd term, I’d finally realized that I’d chosen the wrong program. After receiving my marks from first term, my heart sank. I’d gotten two marks above 70%, but everything else was mid-60s or lower; I’d even gotten a 58%. I figured it was because I didn’t spend enough time studying, and was being too social, so I promised to fix it for 2nd term. Unfortunately, I did work harder at the beginning, but as the term went on, I put things off again and fell behind. I procrastinated because I didn’t want to do the work. I found it boring, uninteresting, and hard. Everyone around me was so ambitious and really passionate about the program, and I felt like I didn’t fit in at all. My marks weren’t as high as them, I never wanted to go to any of the networking sessions that the program held, and I generally just viewed myself as a failure. I failed 2 midterms, passed one by 2%, and didn’t know what I was doing when it came to the assignments because I hadn’t kept up with the classes.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my average up to stay in the program, but I know now that I no longer want to. I’m not blaming my first-year failure on solely the fact that I wasn’t interested in what I was studying, but also because of my mistake regarding time management and lack of effort spent on schoolwork. Coming to university was a BIG change, and unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to adjust to that change quick enough. But I tend to look at this grave mistake as a very important life lesson. It was just what I needed to wake me up to the real world and discover who I was as a person. All of this contributed to my final realization that I had made a HUGE, irreversible mistake… and I wanted to fix it.

I started looking into programs at other universities in a field that I was actually passionate about: graphic design. My whole life, I’d loved the arts; especially digital arts. I’d first gotten exposed to digital media in grade 6 and made pixels using Microsoft Paint. In grade 7 I was introduced to Photoshop, and that’s what I still use to this day to edit my photography and create graphics.

As I grew up, I remember constantly getting compliments on my creations, from family, friends, teachers, and even strangers online. I should have paid attention to these comments as they showed what I was actually good at in life, and my real, true talent, but I was too worried about money and being successful.

But I know that now, after re-evaluating myself a person, and I want to do something I love. I want to be able to love what I study, because then I truly will be happy in life. I want to be able to be proud to tell people what my job is, and actually be able to tell them why I’d chosen the program I’m studying. I’d heard it a million times: “Do what you love,” but I’d never really fully understood it until now. Study what you love, and hard work will naturally follow. If you love what you’re studying, you’ll be more interested in it and find it easier to study for. You’ll learn what it is that you actually want to learn, and be able to apply that to what you love later.

Ask yourself, “why did I choose this program?” If you can answer that true-heartedly, you’re already on the right path. I remember when people asked me why I chose accounting, I could never give them a full answer. I always gave them a half-hearted lie: “Oh… I really like math” was all I could muster. I was always complaining about accounting, and people would always ask me why I was even in accounting then, and that’s when I realized… Why was I in accounting? It was for the money, but it definitely wasn’t something I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. I’m really glad that I realized this before putting myself through another 4 years learning solely about accounting, and devoting my life to long hours in the office doing auditing.

If you’re still with me at this point, I just want to thank you for taking the time to listen to the words of a regretful student. If there’s one thing I really want you to take away from this post, it’s to first, choose to study something that you love, not for the money. If you’re really passionate about what you’re studying, you’ll want to work extra hard at it, and money will naturally follow. And second, set your priorities straight. School is more important, as it’s the key to your future. Don’t make my mistake and slack off and fall behind. The consequences are extremely tough, tougher than you could ever think, and it will be the biggest regret of your life. I’m still here hoping that I haven’t messed up my life and praying that someone will give me second chance to prove myself.

Just remember that this is your life. Do what makes you happy. As cliche as it sounds, you will be a lot more satisfied with your life if you do what you want. If accounting is what makes you happy, DO IT. But it just wasn’t the right path for me. Don’t make the same mistake as me and choose something just for the money, because it will most likely be the most brutal year of your life.

So thank you so much for listening, and I wish you all the best of luck.

Stay true to yourself,
Emily