Writing Prompt #2

Today’s prompt is a little more laid back.

Describe each decade of your life using pop songs.

I’m actually going to switch this up and make it every 5 years, otherwise this list would be very short. I’m also trying to use songs that I was actually listening to at the time, so sorry if they’re not actually “pop” songs.

1991-1996: Infancy

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland

As a child, I was obsessed with musicals. I mean, I still am, but more so as a kid. I’d watch The Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast on repeat. Multiple times a day. What do Belle and Dorothy have in common? They were both big dreamers. They wanted more from their dull, repetitive lives. And they inspired me at a young age to be a dreamer too.

1997-2002: Childhood

Numb – Linkin Park

I look back on these years of my life and feel very confused. I talk to friends and family, and it sounds like people have vivid memories and had some kind of personality. For me, I don’t think I even had a personality until I was in university. I just sort of did what I was told, went to school… I barely remember any friends from this period because I didn’t really register friends as important. I don’t think I registered anything as important. I was just a very numb, bland, empty human.

2003-2008: High School era

I’m Not Okay (I Promise) – My Chemical Romance

So, besides the fact that I was just an angsty teenager, I took it to the emo level hardcore. This song was basically my anthem during this time period. It was angry, it gave me a chance to scream about the fact that I wasn’t very happy with my life. It helped define my style and sort of helped shape who I wanted to become. MCR was my band. So it seems fitting that this was my song.

2009-2014: University era

Minority – Green Day

About this time, I was hard into Green Day. I mean, I’ve always been hard into Green Day, but this era more than others. I’m not a rule-breaker. I’m not a punk. I’m not a rebel without a cause. I’m actually far on the opposite end of that spectrum. Goody-two-shoes. Timid. But “Minority” summed up what I felt about myself, and what I wanted to be. For the first time, I had a more defined personality because I knew I was different, embraced it, and molded that definition to mean what I wanted it to mean – rather than molding myself to fit something else.

2015- : Adulting

Knocking at the Door – Arkells

I couldn’t even think of a better song to describe my adulthood than this Arkells hit. This is a point in my life where I know what I want and go for it. For the first time in my life, I’ve defined my morals, my opinions, my feelings, my thoughts. I’m no longer stumbling through life hoping to strike some sort of mental and emotional gold; I know who I am now and am using my personality as a tool to make things happen in my life that work for me.

I’m hoping the song to describe the next five years is “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.
Now that I know who I am, I want to start spending more time and energy influencing people around me for the better.

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Day 1, Prompt 1

Here we go with the first writing prompt of the year. I don’t expect anything wonderful to come out the first few times I write these, but things improve with practice.

The first prompt I’ve chosen is,

What can happen in a second?

A snap judgement, for better or worse happens in one second. The instant you lay your eyes on someone, your brain has decided its figured that person out. Clothes. Hair. Facial expression. Body language. Visual cues can give a person everything they need to know about someone. Financial situation. Marital status. Personality type.

It doesn’t mean that snap judgement is accurate.

Judgement is good. It prevents the young girl from wandering onto a dark street alone.
That one second is also very dangerous.

It convinces you that you don’t need to get to know the person. It convinces you that you’ve learned everything you need to know. One second. One impression. It took me longer than it should have that a person is more than a first impression.

Judgement is good. It helps you recognize danger.
Judgement is also bad. It destroys the potential in a person before you get the chance to learn anything else.

Judgement called one of my best friends loud before I got to see how incredibly strong and independent and thoughtful she is. It told me not to make eye contact with the girl who I would grow to have the most in common with. It convinced me a classmate was snobby when she is one of the sweetest people I’ve come to know. I wouldn’t have any friends now if I’d gotten stuck on that one second of judgement.

There is one instance where my snap judgement was right.
I saw him on the bus – glasses, reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Smart. Bookish. Maybe shy.
In that instant I wasn’t wrong. But because it wasn’t a negative judgement, I opened myself up to the opportunity to learn so much more about him.

Maybe I’m not getting as hooked on that one second as I used to.
Maybe I need to start having more positive judgements.
Maybe that’s what’s more important.

New Year’s Resolution 2018

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Recently, I’ve been struggling to keep creative.

I used to write all the time. I’d picked up painting. I used to shoot photos whenever I could. By the end of 2017, I’d sort of gone brain-dead in that way. Kind of went on autopilot and stopped challenging myself to create things.

That’s the inspiration behind my 2018 New Year’s Resolution; the goal is to get my brain thinking creatively again. I’m hoping to use this blog as a platform to complete creative writing prompts. Ideally by the end of 2018, I’ll add a couple of videos, designs, and paintings to my portfolio as well. But I’d be happy with just a few short writing prompts a month.

So I’m going to use 642 Things to Write About to spark these blog posts, and hopefully it’ll inspire me to get more visually creative, too!

After a lot of self-reflection, stepping away from social media, and surrounding myself with true friends and family and a supportive boyfriend, I’ve realized that creativity is the one thing I loved about my personality and the practice of it in my life has sort of fallen to the wayside.

So 2018 is going to be a year of creativity and getting my brain out of its rut. And I invite whoever still reads blog this to come along on the journey.

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Finding Yourself

Look, I’m alive!

And I’m back with a little bit of a personal story of self-discovery. Quite literally.

I haven’t lived without an audience for as long as I can remember. I’ve been on Facebook since the beginning of high school. Performing my life for anyone who would pay attention. I guess that’s why I was so eager to start blogging; it was another outlet for my thoughts and creativity. And then the blog sort of lost its purpose, and I was doing it for reasons that weren’t about self-expression. So I stopped. It soon became clear how much I enjoyed living without an audience. Not only because it was exhausting to maintain, but also because I could finally figure out who I was without trying to impress anyone.

Facebook status updates. Tweets. Tumblr posts. Blog posts.
Snaps. Pins. Likes. Retweets.

It was all for the benefit of the people who follow me on those accounts. I was performing. I performed my entire personality and my entire life for the people with one eye on me. And it’s not like I’m an internet celebrity. It’s not like these people care what I’m up to. But I kind of like the idea of having that Instagram perfect life. Doesn’t everyone?

Actually, Instagram is the one thing I do still use on a regular basis. I haven’t stopped loving photography and sharing those photos. But that’s not for an audience. That’s because I like it.

And that’s what I’ve been up to. Finding myself. Figuring out what I like to do without the thought that other people are noticing. (Which, to be quite honest, is why I think this relationship I’m in right now is going so well – because I’m not constantly asking friends for advice on something they are not a part of. I love my friends, but learning what to keep to myself and what to share with others has been key in all of this.)

So what have I learned about me?

Mostly, I’ve learned how I honestly like to spend my time.

I got so caught up in the idea of being the quirky, shy bookworm girl and maintaining that image that I thought it was who I am. I mean, that has been people’s expectations of who I am since first grade – it’s easy to think that’s who you are. Family and friends can’t be reading you wrong for years, can they?

Well, here’s the truth.

I am an extrovert. That’s surprising to everyone. I am kind of quiet and can be nervous to meet new people. But I would one million percent choose to be with someone else over spending a night alone. I like talking to people. I like being surrounded by friends and drinking and dancing and going to shows. Too many nights on my own is what drains me – not too many nights going out.

I do love reading. But I wouldn’t choose it over playing a video game. Painting, sketching, and making pieces of art is something I like to treat myself to as a means of self-care.

I am passionate about learning. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. But what I have discovered is that I’m not really into learning something by reading a book. I have a mind that learns better through images and sounds, not words on a page. I love listening to educational podcasts and learning new languages on Duolingo. That being said, I’ll almost always prefer to read a book over watching a movie. I guess fiction is still better left to my imagination.

I love to travel. I wasn’t sure if getting on a plane would be super stressful for me, or if I’d be okay when I got to another country. But it turns out I love to lowkey adventure. Iceland was amazing and now I know that I’d be okay getting on a plane by myself and discovering a new place to love.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for you is spend some time living without an audience. Don’t let other people dictate who you are or what you should do with your time. Stay away from the social media for a bit and stop letting other people’s opinions influence the way you choose to live your life.

The Kindness of Strangers

I work in a school. So whenever I go into a public washroom, I see students – young women on their phones, taking selfies, laughing with friends, fixing their lipstick. Sometimes I have the unfortunate experience of walking into a washroom and seeing a girl crying. Most of the time, they’ve got a friend to support them through whatever is going on in their life. And sometimes I walk into a washroom and I’m reminded of an instance when I was in grade twelve, of an act of kindness that always sort of blew me away. That was nearly ten years ago, and I still think about it to this day.

It was the first day back from summer – my first day of my last year of high school. I’d signed up for an art class that was meant to focus on theatre set and costume design. Due to an underwhelming registration for that class, they’d merged it with the grade twelve art students’ class. I hadn’t taken art since grade nine, and these guys were all naturals. The teacher told us to draw a person’s face in two minutes – just a rough sketch using techniques we’d learned (which I hadn’t learned, because I wasn’t an art student). He came around to my desk and told me I was doing it wrong. Each similar exercise, he’d approach me and said I needed to draw faster: I wasn’t doing it right; I wasn’t good enough. Eventually he just didn’t walk around the class anymore, he just stood in front of my desk and criticized me in front of everyone. Finally, I’d had enough. I threw my pencil down and stormed out of the room, not waiting to burst into tears until I’d reached the girls’ bathroom. I don’t like any sort of attention, and all of his negativity was terrible.

I locked myself in a stall and started sobbing. Was this what grade twelve was going to be? It was only the first day and I already couldn’t handle the stress.

That’s when I heard a timid knock on the stall door. Quiet and curious. Then, a voice as small as her knock. “Um, hi – are you okay in there?

I sniffled and wiped my face, even though she couldn’t see me. “Yeah.” She obviously knew that was a lie, so I back-tracked. “No, I don’t know.”

“Do you want to talk?” Really? This girl actually cared enough to talk me down from this? I sighed and opened the door. The girl was tiny. I barely remember what she looked like, but I remember she was smaller than me. “Are you okay?

I explained what happened with my art teacher, and the girl shook her head. “What grade are you in?” she asked me. I told her twelve. Then she said the part that blew my mind.I’m in grade nine.

It was this girl’s first day of high school. She should have been terrified. Intimidated. Hoping just to get herself through the day. But this thirteen/fourteen-year-old girl had the courage to step up and knock on that door. And even though I was quietly sniffling into my tissue paper, she kept talking. “I can’t imagine how hard grade twelve is going to be. You’ve got to start thinking about graduation and school is getting harder… This is only my first day of grade nine, and it’s a little scary. But that teacher seems mean. Do you think you can drop the class?

I’d never considered dropping a class in my life. I loved school a lot. But I didn’t need it to graduate. I could have a spare period. She was being the logical one and talking me down from my anxiety attack. “Yeah, I think I could.”

If you don’t like the teacher, and you don’t like the class, maybe stick it out for a few days and if you still don’t like it – drop it.

Yeah. Thanks.

Do you want a hug?

Sure.I smiled as this girl wrapped her arms around me and actually squeezed. Not one of those awkward stranger hugs where you’re hoping to not have any more physical contact than absolutely necessary, but an actual, meaningful hug.

You got this. You’re almost done. You’ll be okay.”

I left the bathroom smiling through my reddened face, and didn’t return back to the classroom until 5 minutes before the bell. I ended up dropping the class the next day and saving myself a whole lot of unnecessary stress.

Often times I think about how brave that grade nine girl was. If I was in her shoes – the first day of high school, I’d be keeping my nose down. But that girl stepped up, talked me down from an anxiety attack, and was a friend when I needed one. I never learned her name, and I don’t think I ever saw her again. But the fact that she reached out and helped me did not go unnoticed.

Those random acts of kindness really do matter.

How the Arkells Changed My Life

I can count the bands I love on one hand. They’re not just bands I like, but bands that have had a serious impact on my life. Green Day has always been my group – the one whose music has meant the most to me and inspired me since I was ten years old. It’s been so long, I guess I forgot what it felt like to “love” a group like that. Then I got a chance to see Arkells at their homecoming concert in Hamilton.

“Take me to the bus stop Matty, drive me back to Hamilton…”
-Book Club

It was the first concert I’ve ever been to where I only knew a couple of songs, but still had a blast singing along. I fell in love that night – but not with a person. Arkells rekindled my love and appreciation for music. Their songs are so upbeat and happy, or emotionally charged. I can’t stand still. “Dirty Blonde” comes on, and I just need to dance.

“Give me your number, pick any colour, I can tell your fortune tonight.”
-Dirty Blonde

I guess that’s when I realized I wasn’t happy. In that moment, I fell in love with a sound harder than I’d fallen in love with the person I was dating. When I listen to their music, it makes me feel stronger – happier, sadder, giddier – than I felt when I was with the guy who was supposed to be “the one”.

In that moment, I decided I was tired of feeling numb. I realized I don’t need a person to make me feel – I can feel things on my own – with a book, with a game, with a band, with a song. And whether it was with another person, or by myself, I realized this is how I wanted to feel for the rest of my life.

The Arkells were the light in my life when I was numb and repressed by my selfish ex.

“I just want to love you, but it’s so hard.”
-Private School

They were there when he left me.

“When the rain starts comin’ down, a little rain ain’t bringin’ me down.”
-A Little Rain (A Song for Pete)

And they were there when I fell for someone who respected me, and who empowered me to be the person I wanted to be, for me. Not for him or for anyone else.

“It used to be just weekends, now I want you everyday.”
-My Heart’s Always Yours

The Arkells were my lifeline in a time when I needed something to shake me from my comfort zone, and tell me that there was something better out there for me. I just had to get out of my funk and find it.

And I can already feel the difference between going through the motions, and being just plain happy. I’m as happy as I was that night in Hamilton, and I feel happy every time I put High Noon on my record player.

I cannot wait to see the Arkells when they come to Toronto this month, because this time around it’ll mean so much more.

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On Friend Groups – And Why I Don’t Have One

This post was inspired by Beverly’s post on her blog, Bev’s Eye View. Because I’ve seen a few instances, and know quite a lot of people who are part of a group of friends and love it. And I can see why! You have a group of people who you can go out and do things with, who have your back, who feel much like a second family. Why wouldn’t that be awesome?

Unfortunately, I’ve just had too many bad experiences with groups of friends, that I kind of don’t want one anymore.

First, let me clarify.

This is not to say that I don’t have friends.

I do have friends. Lots of friends. Some might say too many friends.

While people in friend groups have a set group of people they reach out to when they need someone, I’m not limited to that. I have like 5 people I’m super close to, but they’re not close to each other. Most of them don’t even know each other. And then I’ve got about 15-20 people outside of those 5 (who again, mostly don’t know each other), and genuinely enjoy hanging out with on a regular basis. So I maintain those friendships.

I just honestly prefer hanging out in very small groups, or one-on-one for more personal human interaction time. In elementary school, it was always about “who was mad at who for what stupid reason”. I have two friends I still talk to that I knew in elementary school.

In high school, I had probably the closest thing to a friend group I’ve ever had. I was dating a guy and was welcomed in by his friends. I quite liked having them there, but there was always the itching feeling that they only included me because I was dating their best friend. We broke up. Four years later, the friendships still stuck. Until they didn’t, and I was promptly “ejected” – shall we say – from being included in that group. Cool.

I’ve sort of been included in friend groups of the boys I’ve dated, but after this incident, I was much more aware of maintaining my own friendships and not relying on this means of meeting people. Because when the relationships ended, so did the friendships.

I find my experience with friend groups has been very negative because I see them, a lot of the time, from the outside-in. The people involved in them are cliquey; they’re scared of not being invited out with the rest of the group; they don’t venture into new territory and try to include new people.

I love not having a friend group.

I have various people in my life who I can talk to about different things and who know me on different levels. I can spill my deepest secrets to a friend I met in college, then the next day go to a book signing with a friend I met online, and then have drinks with a friend from work, and then have a girls painting night with a friend I met through a friend, and then go to a concert with a friend I met through an ex. I’m not stuck doing the same thing with the same people, ever. And quite honestly, it’s fuckin’ sweet.

I’m not limited to the same 5 or 6 perspectives as people who have the same friends forever. I’m not scared to talk to new people and cultivate new friendships. In fact, I love meeting a new person and getting to know them, and going on some new adventure together.

There are few friends I’ve hung onto for a number of years, but most of my friends come and go. And I don’t mind. I enjoy knowing people, no matter how temporary. Old friends fade and new ones come and add to my life in new ways. And the ones that do stick around, well those are the ones I see as my family.

So I guess my “friend group” exists. It’s just 20-30 people big. And I never hang out with them all at once.

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An Open Letter to My Future Partner

Dear Future Life Partner,

I have a lot of love to give. So you’d better be ready to accept it all.

I’ve been neglected and ignored. I hope you have the bravery and strength to take on a relationship. Because I don’t do anything half-assed.

If I’m with you, it’s because you’re the one I want to spend my life with. I don’t like wasting my time.

I don’t expect you to take care of me. I can take care of me; I just want someone who will support me in my choices, and who I can support, too.

I want to spend my life travelling and going on adventures. Even low-key adventures. We can adventure to a new restaurant, or try a new activity. But I want to experience life, and I want my experiences – whatever they are – to be with you.

I want to come home from work and surprise you by saying I’ll cook dinner. I want us to have tickle fights on the couch that end in me smothering you with kisses.

I will make you a priority, and I hope you do the same. You don’t have to perform any grand gestures, but if I can see that sparkle in your eye when you look at me, that’ll speak volumes.

I get hurt. I care too much. I have faith in people I shouldn’t. I know this. But you are the last person I want to misplace my trust. I will always have faith that you will be there for me. Please don’t let me regret trusting you.

Future Life Partner, I can’t wait to meet you. I don’t expect a lot – but I think I deserve someone who loves me back the way I love them.

I have a lot of love to give, so you’d better be ready to accept it all.