Journaling

I like keeping journals. Having some place to write when I’m stressed or going through a tough time is essential for me. And since I love writing, my journal also ends up as a place where I’m creative, whether it be with stories or poetry or, most embarrassingly, songs. As much as writing in a journal is helpful for me, it’s almost as therapeutic for me to read through my old writing and thoughts and have a new perspective.

I started what I call my “pink journal” (I am very creative: it is pink, it is a journal) in the Denver airport, waiting for a connecting flight, on July 1st, 2013. (A side note: when we landed in Toronto, there was a choir on board that sang Oh Canada.) I thought I had a brilliant idea for a story, which ended up being one of the most embarrassing things I’ve written in my teenage years. I stopped a few pages in, started a new story on the same flight and stopped that a few pages in. I’ve continued on with writing down unfinished thoughts in this journal until I recently filled it up.

I love reading back on past things I’ve written because I’m far less critical of my younger self. It’s like watching a younger sister make mistakes and grow, and reading back on journal entries I feel kind of proud when I see myself figuring something out and it’s neat to look back and see the perspective I had at certain points in my life. It might be a bit self absorbed to find my own journal so interesting, but if that’s the case, then I guess having a blog is self absorbed too, so what have I got to lose? With that in mind, I’m going to share some of my favourite parts of my now retired pink journal.

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I love this because it reminds me of when I used to be obsessed with Prufrock. I didn’t want to be as sad as contemplative and lonely as I saw Prufrock to be, which is where “trying not to measure my life with coffee spoons” comes from. I wrote this as part of an introduction to myself, so the writing of the poem is a little clumsy, since I find it so difficult to sum up myself in a concise way, but I think the way this part turned out is nice and kind of cute.

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I actually hate most of my first drafts whenever I write fiction. I’m not very good at story lines, so as I try to focus on that, my writing suffers. I usually pretty up the language in final drafts, but as I read the section that this came from, I really liked how gentle the scene came across. It was the introduction to a rather harsh story and I was trying to make the characters sympathetic, and I think that softly easing the reader into the world was a good way to do that.

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This is kind of hard to read because my writing is terribly messy. My two favourite lines are “storytelling is so powerful that it scares me” and “sometimes a book makes me change even more than a friend, sometimes a song gets me through the bad times, or a poem becomes my mantra.” Stories are so important to me and I’m such a big fan of good storytelling because it helps you to empathize and find yourself, and I honestly don’t know who I’d be without the stories I’ve read. They’ve helped me shape the perception I have of myself and the things I can contribute to the world around me. The fact that words on a page or in a song or in a TV show can do that amazes me, because anyone can write, so anyone can change someone’s life, or even the world.

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This is kind of a silly one but it sums up my high school experience so well. Staying up late and watching TV, getting up early with those stories still weighing on my heart and yawning through classes as I dealt with a weird feeling of grief. Once again, stories have had a huge impact on my life, and even though I’ve been irresponsible in staying up way too late to watch shows or read books, that doesn’t change the value they hold.

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I grow a little bit as a person every day. I started reading this and I smiled because I really believe that it’s so important to love yourself and find a way to maintain good self-esteem, which is an ongoing process for me, but I’ve improved so much and this shows that. Obviously it continues past what I’ve shown, and those things below the cut still apply to me, but now I find it more important to focus on the good things and remember that anything “less desirable” doesn’t get rid of all the good you bring to the world.

I love journals because you don’t have to care about putting something awful inside of them. It’s a scrapbook of thoughts and ideas and doodles and experiments in writing. My journals always end up messy and filled with thoughts that trail off as my pen fails to keep up with my train of thought, and I wish I had the patience to make every entry complete, but I’m glad I have something to look back on to remember everything I’ve gone through to make me the person I am.

 

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Making the Most of York’s Strike

It’s going on two weeks that York has been on strike, meaning I haven’t had classes since Monday the 2nd. Instead of having days filled with classes, I’ve had empty blocks of time that I have been determined to make the most of. I’ve tried to accomplish something each day that I wouldn’t be able to have done if I were in class, alongside catching up on work I should have done over reading week.

The most boring of the things I’ve done has been spending time in the library, but as someone who prefers to do work in her room, it has actually brought out a new appreciation in me for these quiet alleys of books and clunky computers. I find myself to be much more productive while I’m at a school computer, and even if I stray from my work (for example, by writing a blog post…) I still end up doing something much more enriching than a Netflix marathon. As a result I find myself less stressed out because I know I’m in more-or-less a good place when classes start up again.

What I love about University can basically be summed up by saying this: it is not high school. In high school, or at least at my high school, your social sphere had a lot to do with who you had classes with, who you had lunch with, and where your locker was. People did hang out outside of school, but with the structure of full day classes and people’s hobbies and jobs, it was hard to find free time. In University, classes don’t have the same social aspect and most people’s schedules are more flexible, so who you’re friends with is more of a deliberate choice. I like making plans with people a whole lot more than just hanging out because of convenience. It’s kind of like a mini date, because it’s something you want to do and the other person (or people) wants to do and you’re all agreeing to do it together. There’s a structure and it’s nice and it feels like you’ve accomplished something.

While I’ve made more plans with friends in University than I did in high school, essays and studying have been overwhelming and I have spent more time stressing and doing work than socializing. Since I’ve had more free time, I got to spend more time with friends. I’ve taken advantage of the beautiful forest behind Glendon and today I went on a walk with my friend and we got to talk about life and have fun together. There’s a dog park on the other side of the forest, so we spent a good chunk of time there petting dogs and explaining to the people there that we were missing our own dogs back home.

I’ve also adventured off campus quite a bit. Glendon is beautiful and feels somewhat secluded, which is nice, but luckily it is also just a quick trip from downtown Toronto. I went to the ROM two weeks in a row, since it’s free on Tuesdays with student ID. I got to spend time with friends and enjoy some cool dinosaurs and art. I’ve also gone out to dinner quite a few times, the highlights being breakfast food for dinner, a restaurant where everything costs $4.95 and they play weird 90s music videos, and watching hockey and celebrating my good friend from high school’s 19th birthday. And then today I got to have dinner with my friend who I haven’t seen in two years! We’ve always been meaning to meet up, so even if that had been the only thing I accomplished over the strike, I would have counted these two weeks as a success.

I’m hoping that the strike ends soon and we get to go back to classes, but I’m glad that I’ve been able to find a way to be productive despite this gaping hole of time where I could have potentially just binge-watched Netflix and hoped the strike didn’t mean I would lose a month of summer.

Snow!

I love snow. It may be inconvenient, dangerous, and accompanied by cold temperatures, but it makes up for it by making the world seem a hundred times more beautiful. When the dying grass finally gets covered in a white fluffy blanket, I feel like I’ve been transported to a winter wonderland. For some reason that I haven’t quite figured out, it makes me feel like a kid again. Maybe it’s all the memories of long ski days and winter vacations and snow forts in the schoolyard, or perhaps the experience of discovering how to walk again as I trudge through the snow. Either way, snowy winters make me happy.

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This afternoon, between classes, I went adventuring in the snow with friends. I brought my camera along because every once in a while I like to see the world through my lens. People often say that you’re not making the most of your life when you’re behind a camera, but I think that’s a narrow-minded way of looking at it. When things are pretty or interesting or exciting and so much is happening around me, I find that framing it and thinking about the aesthetics helps me to see things differently and live in a different frame of mind. After all, photography is a form of art; by taking pictures you are expressing yourself and making art while experiencing the very scene you are capturing.

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I’m in first year of University and I’m living on residence, so after moving from a pretty plain, cookie cutter house filled city, I couldn’t have asked for a prettier second home. It’s fairly small, which probably keeps me from dreading the snow since it’s about a four minute walk from residence to the main building. And then you get to walk by the Manor, which is the prettiest building on campus with its many windows and vine-covered exterior. It’s a pretty typical subject for photography, but we all know that cliches exist for a reason.

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I have to admit, though, that when passing under the snow-covered entrance way to the Manor I get a little freaked out and think that a mini-avalanche might topple all the snow onto me.

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It’s nice to have nature intermingled with pretty buildings and the classes and food and residence buildings that are a part of my everyday life. There’s a path through the forest that I’m excited to explore in the snow on a day with forgiving temperatures, because being surrounded by nature is so relaxing and it’s nice to listen to a podcast and pretend to be productive as I admire the wonderful things that just naturally exist in the world.

While I’m sure I’m going to be complaining about the snow once the slush starts to appear or the windy snowfalls come around, I am glad to be currently enjoying happiness in this new snowfall.

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Living Life and Just Doing Stuff

Do you ever just forget you have a blog? I do. A few minutes ago, after about twenty minutes of lying in bed wishing I was asleep, I remembered that writing posts on the internet is a thing I sometimes do. And then I got to thinking about how I should be doing that more. Then I thought “oh well, maybe later,” as if that has ever worked out for me before.

When it comes to beginnings, middles, and ends, I’m always the worst at beginnings. It started with reading, when my mind would wander too much and I had to re-read the first chapter of a book ten times, and eventually seeped into my everyday life. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, which makes it hard for me to start something before I feel 100% ready. I love writing, but I don’t write stories unless everything is perfectly planned out, and I have an awful habit of putting off the “good story ideas” until I’m a “better writer,” whatever that means. I don’t clean my room until I have everything I need to organize it properly. I wait to do homework and readings until I have the sufficient time and a sufficiently clean space to work in. Basically, I procrastinate all the time.

I have this grandiose idea of the person I want to be, but it’s a far stretch from the person I am. I can definitely get there and I definitely like the person I am, but it’s just not quite where I’d like to be. When I imagine the version of myself that I aspire to it’s like looking in the mirror through rose coloured glasses. It’s me, yes, but not quite. And the problem with getting from here to there is that there might be pitfalls along the way. Things might not turn out as they are in my daydreams and elaborate life plans, and I know too often that where I imagine myself to be when I’m happy is often the place where I find myself at my worst, so I just tend to stay still.

Living in the “what if” is so much easier. I can give myself the benefit of the doubt and imagine that I could do all these amazing things if I tried. The problem is, I don’t try. There’s always this idea in my brain that one day I will change and my outward life will match up with my inner aspirations, but I often do so little to get there.

So I have a little resolution for myself to belatedly kick off the New Year: when I think of something I’d like to do “some day,” I will do my best to make that day today. I’ll go to that meeting even if I have no friends who want to go with me, I’ll apply for a job or volunteer position even if the idea of being rejected scares me, and my tiny step for today is shutting my laptop and going to sleep so that I can go to the gym tomorrow and not fail that New Year’s Resolution.

How The West Wing Opened My Eyes to Politics

I’ve been really into The West Wing lately. (By lately, I mean that after watching a few episodes sporadically, I started marathon-watching in March and I’m watching it through a second time as I type.) It has quickly become one of my favourite shows, surpassing so many of my loves, in such a short time. The quality and intelligence of the writing and storytelling makes it engrossing and compelling to watch, and frankly, I find it hard to scroll through Netflix and click on something else when The West Wing is right there.

Whenever I start liking something new, whether it be a TV show or movie or book or celebrity, my other interests pretty much revolve around that. I have garnered brief obsessions with gymnastics and horses and singing (which I am very bad at) simply to model my life around someone or the essence of something. Thus, I have to be careful in considering whether my passions are genuine or simply an imitation of a presented ideal.

In my love of The West Wing, I found an excitement within myself for politics and government that I had never really had before. Since I’m in the midst of figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life, watching such a stellar show made my mind reel with the possibilities of what my future could hold. I’ve always had a sort of underlying interest in working in something political, but I’ve usually brushed it off as misguided romanticization, which I did again for a little while. After all, while The West Wing is based off of reality, so much of it is exaggerated and definitely not what those jobs are actually like. As such, I pushed the idea that working in politics could actually be fun to the back of my mind.

However, watching The West Wing more and more, I thought that maybe this wasn’t just another one of those obsessions that would fade after a week or a month or even a year. After all, ever since I learned that the world isn’t this pretty-picture place, I’ve been interested in what I can do to change that. When I learned how much a dollar a day could do for a child in another country, I was quick to offer up some of my money. When I saw videos of animals being tortured at the age of eleven, I went vegetarian (perhaps being a little obnoxious about it at first). When I learned how hurtful some of the language I picked up from my older brother could be, I stopped saying those words. I’ve spent the better part of my teenage years advocating for ways in which this world can be better and educating myself as to how I can personally make a difference, even in the littlest ways. It has always bugged me, though, that the way I have to make changes is in minute, seemingly inconsequential, ways. 

I know I have a bit of a warped view of politics due to how writers are paid to make such subject matter seem more interesting, but now, thinking about it more, I realize that it really is where many big changes are made. Plus, it’s not like I had a normal view of politics before The West Wing. Throughout my life, politics has been presented to me as something that’s boring and dumb. Frustration has echoed through generations about how nobody can make a difference and it is simply a necessary evil. Due to this discouragement, I never really considered going into politics and it took me a while to develop an interest in it. The West Wing was a refreshing positive change from this narrative. It’s a show with such an underlying tone of hope and constant change, especially with the recurring line “what’s next?” that it made me really get behind the idea of being excited about politics. It’s necessary, yes, but it doesn’t always have to be evil.

There are so many things I care about in the world and in picking a major or career path, I was always frustrated. Now, while politics may not be all I hope and dream of, and while it may not have the excitement of a television show, I know that there surely is the potential to make changes. The government has so much power to improve people’s lives on a broad and long term scale that working in it or in a way that’s connected to it makes a lot of sense to me.

As a TL;DR summation, watching The West Wing really opened my eyes to a completely different future career, and while my mind may change again and again, I think it will always be important to me to be involved in politics, because so many things I care about are at least partially in the hands of the government. As someone who’s also interested in the power of media, I love that a TV show could have such a positive impact on me at this juncture in my life. Now, if only I could stop constantly re-watching it long enough to actually do something a little more productive, I’d be set.

 

On Graduating High School

In high school (and elementary school, for that matter), students grow accustomed to the same plastic chairs and their consistent inability to be comfortable. Whether you’re trying to focus on a test or simply stay awake in class, it’s impossible not to get distracted at some point by an aching back or thighs sticking to plastic in the summer humidity. Sometimes the school switches things up, and some people get fancy folded chairs for assemblies or stools in an artsy class, but none is better than the other. The aches remain, for that is the curse of school chairs. And tomorrow, for about four hours, I will gather with my peers and each of our families and we will sit in these uncomfortable chairs. The heat and odour from our bodies will collectively make the gym in which we’ll sit even more unpleasant to be in on a hot summer’s day, and the plastic chairs will greet reluctant butts. And we will sit, more or less still. Names will be called one by one and students will leave their chairs momentarily and in alphabetical order. This will be the one moment of excitement for most, I presume. The rest will be trying not to get too bored as other people get their moments of excitement. Thinking about it, I shudder, because this does not sound like how I want to be spending a Thursday afternoon. However, I am eagerly anticipating these four hours, because after four years in that gym going to masses and assemblies and that one dreaded semester of gym, and after the additional ten in elementary school, I am done. I will no longer have to ask to go to the bathroom. I will have a high school diploma to put alongside my freshly minted certificate of adulthood.

It’s weird to finally come upon milestones, because the closer they get, the harder it is to conceptualize them. Graduating high school has always been a big thing for me. I’ve looked forward to actually properly being sort of grown up and that kind of starts with getting out of regular school. Yes, I’ll be going to University, so I will still be in school, but that’s a big leap up rather than the giant step between grade eight and nine. Still, it doesn’t feel like much has changed, and that’s what has always surprised me about what I think to be big life events. Change always happens slowly, no matter whether you’re going through a big change or a small change, it is always slow going through. It’s kind of like being in an airplane, because you’re sitting there and you know you’re flying, but you can never quite wrap your head around how amazing it really is to be in a giant metal contraption hurling itself through the air. Even with an enthusiasm for life as big as mine, I just can’t get jump-up-and-down-excited about some things because they just start to feel normal. This is life. This is my life. 

High school has been kind of weird. I was expecting for life to change a bunch and for me to become a completely different person and to be way hotter (I was kind of banking on this), and while things I expected did happen, it wasn’t what I was expecting in its essence. I think the major thing that happened was that I changed how I think. I’m still sort of the same- dashes of awkward and weirdness and large doses of empathy and self-awareness- but I totally changed how I think about things. I have much better self confidence, so I’ve learned to own my appearance and opinions and the things I create and not to feel such dread and shame when I make mistakes. I’ve become less judgmental about people (thankfully I overcame the pre-teen hatred of everything deemed to be “cool”) and more open to things that were initially shown to me as being bad. I have essentially become my own person and decided to be unapologetic about the space I take up in this world creating my definite opinions and owning my voice. 

And high school in itself wasn’t all that bad. I go (or went now I guess) to Catholic school, so some of the things make me want to tear my hair out, and like anyone who has ever been surrounded by teenagers, some of my peers have annoyed me more than enough, but I didn’t hate it. I had good times and bad times. I made friends, kept friends, lost friends, made mistakes, embarrassed myself, wanted to avoid people but couldn’t, got over my mistakes, got over grudges, and then some. There really have been a lot of things that went on in four years, so it’s hard to have anything but mixed feelings, but right now I just feel like I’m ready to move on. I feel a little sad that I’m not going to see my friends in the same context anymore and very excited that I get to focus more on things I’m interested in, so it’s tough letting go, but exciting to go forward. 

Midnight approaches, so I feel like I need to finish this soon, otherwise I have to change the introduction to today rather than tomorrow, but I still have so much left to say. I feel like I’m in a weird state of pre-nostalgia where I want to grab onto this moment while I still have it. Maybe that’s because I want to write YA books, so putting words to these emotions will help me in the long run, but I also think I want to be able to revisit this time, because right now, I feel happy. Life is kind of going alright and I don’t quite feel like things are going too fast nor too slow. It kind of feels like things are how they’re supposed to be, which may be why these changes don’t feel so big. I’m still, at the end of this post, really weirded out about the fact that I am graduating tomorrow. I remember being in grade one and thinking grade eights were so old and being in grade nine and marveling at how adult the grade twelves were. Now here I am, on the brink of adulthood. Pretty soon I’ll be closing my eyes and slipping to sleep, then I’ll wake up and start getting ready and I’ll continue to complain about how hideous the cap and gown are and this post will be my past. These feelings will be my past. I will go through the little moments of the big changes and that will be my life.

Coming to a Close

There’s about two and a half months left in my senior year of high school and I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that this chapter of my life is coming to an end. People say that your university friends are the ones you have for life and as much as I love making new friends, I’m not quite prepared to leave any of my high school friends behind. These are the people I went through elementary school with; we grew up through bad times and good, all of us together. Not only that, but ever since I was born, really, my life has been in a state of controlled structure. I’ve had school, sports, a bit of friend time, homework: all a continuous cycle year to year. And now, finally and strangely, I’ll be somewhat in control.

I recently turned eighteen, so I’m technically an adult now, but I don’t quite feel it, because I don’t have to make those pressing decisions that impact my future just yet. In 5 years, it’s not going to matter what my mark was in grade twelve french, whereas what I major, minor, and take courses in impacts a lot of what I’ll be able to do in my career. It’s stressful for me, as a person who wants to do so much, to have to squeeze so much into four years.

And as I look forward to this finite future that I’m very excited for, I have a pressing amount of time to do everything I want to do and experience everything I want to experience with my current friends. It feels like we have to make memories that will last us until the breaks when we get to see each other again and have book-worthy adventures we can look back on that will make our friendship something we can’t bear to let go of. It feels like this is the only time we have, because everything’s going to get crazy, and all of the sudden we’ll be back at a high school reunion in 20 years and all flying in from different countries and this time right now will be the only memory we have of our friendship. It feels kind of silly and dramatic, but also something that probably will happen.

Thus I’m juggling classes and projects that I’m responsible to do my best in, fleeting friendships, plans for a great end to a senior year, and future plans for university, all while trying to enjoy the precious moments of life. All of this seems almost impossible. I remember being little and thinking of prom as something that was far in the future, but now it’s so soon, and I don’t even really have time to think about it. It’s nice to know, though, that after all of this I’ll have the summer to focus less on school and more on friends, hopefully relaxing a bit before I launch into the next part of my life.

Goals for 2014

I’ve never really been one for New Year’s resolutions, because they always end up being vague little goals like ‘eat better’ or ‘write more’, but this year I’ve decided that there are in fact things I want and need to get done. I’m graduating high school, then going to university, which is another four years that I know will pass me by in a flash, but I don’t want to continue on living with no direction or drive. Thus, I’ve decided to put together a list of my goals for 2014, so here they are:

1. Write a first draft of a novel. I’ve been trying to write something worth finishing for a few years now, but I always end up giving up before I even get halfway through. When I’m older, I want to write for a living, and this year I’m probably going to university for something writing related, so I think if I can finish a draft this year that will be a good step for me.

2. Blog every day. This won’t be happening here, but I’ve set up a blog where I’ve been writing out thoughts or recaps of my day for the past few days. I don’t plan on sharing it, because I find once people start following me on something I get scared and try to cater to what they want, or censor myself so I don’t sound stupid. But so far I’m really enjoying writing things out for me and I think it will be cool to look back at the end of the year and have each day summed up in quickly written snippets and thoughts.

3. Get A Job. I’ve never actually had a real proper job. I’ve volunteered on and off and I had a paper route when I was younger, but that’s about it. I’d rather not wait much longer before I actually try getting work experience or making money, because the more I get comfortable with not working, the harder it will be to start. And going into university, I’m really going to need the money, so maybe in the spring or summer I’ll try to get a job.

4. Volunteer. Like I said, I’ve volunteered a bunch, but it’s never been consistent. I’d like to really commit my efforts to working somewhere that’s relevant to the causes I’m passionate about.

5. Budget. Budget my time, my money, my energy. I’ve found that I’ve done things in the past just for the sake of doing them, bought things without a second thought, and wasted a lot of my time. This year I’m going to try and spend my time more productively, which may mean less internet, or perhaps less time on the internet spaces where I’m mindlessly scrolling. I’ll really think about what I need before buying stuff and not commit my time to things I have no interest in.

6. Spend more time with friends. As someone who’s more than happy to spend the majority of my time alone, I’ve found that’s what I do. Then as a result, I don’t end up seeing my friends except for at school, or I’ll see them if someone else plans something. But I really do enjoy spending time with my friends, perhaps more than I enjoy spending time alone, but not planning something is easier than planning. Also, sometimes plans don’t work out then I find myself questioning if they even want to hang out with me, then all the self doubt makes me want to just spend the rest of eternity in my room. But this year, I want to actually make solid plans with friends, because in the fall a lot of them will be going hours away for university, so I should value the time I have with them while they’re here, no matter how much easier passivity is.

I definitely have more things I want to do this year as well as things I want to improve, but looking back, I think these are some of the most important things that I’d like to work on this year. The new year isn’t the only time to make changes, so I know I’ll be making goals and changing plans as I go along this year, but I know 2013 passed me by without me actually accomplishing much, and I don’t want 2014 to be like that too.

Camping

Last week, despite my better judgment, I went camping. Don’t get me wrong, I have no disdain towards sleeping in tents or sitting in front of the campfire instead of my computer, but when your skin and sinuses start to burn at the mention of the outdoors, you tend to stay inside. But because I’ve spent the better part of the summer in my room, I decided that I could chalk the trip up to life experience and I reluctantly agreed to go adventuring into the wilderness.

I went with my friend, her family, and their family friends to Killbear National Park. As the name suggests, the campground is known for its bears. This fact resulted in my friend using me as her shield just in case a bear decided we looked appetizing enough for its next meal as we trekked over to our tent at night. I wasn’t worried, though, because these “bears” always ended up being oversized raccoons or sometimes even squirrels that happened to step on a rather large stick. A part of me is kind of disappointed that I didn’t see a bear, though, because my (I’m sure very warped) idea of these creatures is of them being cute, large animals that waddle as they walk, but something tells me that despite the fluffy (possibly imagined) adorableness, seeing one wouldn’t have ended well, so I’ll cut my losses.

Much of our days there were spent just chilling around; whether it be by the fire or the beach, I was being my usual lazy self. Either way, though, I burned. A lot. I’m about half Irish, which makes me extremely pale, thus ridiculously prone to sunburn. After my first day in the sun, I had a patchy burn on the front of my legs. Why the patches? Who knows, but now I have a very strange- thankfully faint- tan. As for my shoulders and chest, I was not lucky enough to have my burn fade into a tan. Rather, it was so bad that when we went down to the rocky lakefront on our last day, I wore my towel like a cape and instead of swimming I sat huddled in the shade plotting out stories in my notebook. And when I got home, I was relieved to be able to wear the bare minimum when it came to clothing, because anything touching my horribly red skin (I joked that I was an actual literal tomato) was an exceedingly painful experience. Now, a week later, peeling off parts of my skin has become a regular daily activity. I’d be happy to stay inside for the rest of the summer, because a few days of being outside is definitely enough for me.

But I really am glad that I went camping. Sure, staying home would have been a whole lot less painful and my bed is much comfier than an air mattress, but I’m used to doing that, where as I never go camping. It wasn’t a particularly momentous trip, but I did make memories- as I always do I suppose. I mean, everything you do ends up being a memory unless you forget about it.

There were tons of things that happened which don’t make for good stories to tell to friends, and honestly some aren’t even happy events, but they were moments in time that were exceedingly unique from the rest of my life. And as someone who marvels at the idea of even existing at all, I like to experience the most I can. I actually kind of find it unfair that I only get this one life and I never get to experience any life but my own, so I try to grab at all the different things I have access to doing, because even if it’s not something particularly amazing, at least it’s something new. And well this may not have been a trip with a gripping adventure story or a nice tan to bring home to show for it, I did have a couple of days where I got to live in a way that is unique from my ordinary life. I liked it, it was fun, but now I’m happy to be home, spending my days rubbing aloe on my (now only slightly red) skin and being almost symbiotically attached to my laptop.

On Writing

In first grade, when everyone was saying “I want to be a princess” or “I want to be an astronaut”, I was the “I want to be an author” kid. I absolutely love writing, but sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the notion of my passion being what I want to do with my life that it stops me from writing anything at all. I often feel as if everything I write has to be good and every piece that I create has to propel me directly towards being published. After all, I only have so much time to write, so why am I wasting it writing crap? I’ve recently been able to convince myself that I am oh so very wrong, but the mindset of wanting to (and thinking I have to) be perfect gets to me.

This whole idea, I think, comes from the notion that art must be shared and that’s its sole purpose. In school, a lot of the time there are awards and the like which recognize the kids who are artsy or creative in some way. I kind of saw this as people saying that if I wasn’t recognized by other people as a writer, my thinking of myself as a writer wasn’t valid. And that was a really horrible way for me to go about my life, because for a while I would only write things that I thought other people would like. Whenever I finished something, I would give it to someone, wanting to know what they thought and thinking that that was it, they had to like it then or it was all a big pile of failure. And everything I wrote back then was complete and utter garbage. I know this, because not only was it unedited, but I was still a kid. You’re not going to be a published, award winning author when you’re ten. You have to practice first, and keep practicing, and practice for the rest of your life until you gradually write better and better, which I’ve begun to learn and accept as I’ve gotten older. But I wish someone had told me that when I was younger, instead of leading me to believe that everything I wrote was brilliant and I didn’t need to think critically about what I was writing. I know people think that’s a whole lot to put on a ten year old, but being deluded did me no favours.

While most things I write aren’t all that fantastic, my favourite feeling in the world is when I write something and I can sit back and think wow, that was good. It’s so wonderful to be able to appreciate my own work without the encouraging words of others convincing me that it’s not horrible. It’s hard, I’ve learned, to create and create and create but never be able to share it. Whether it’s not good enough, not something that’s created for an audience, and so on, I have so many words unshared and it can feel kind of pointless. For example, sometimes I write an essay for school, and I’m bursting with pride about how good it is, but then it goes to the teacher and is marked and that’s the extent of its life. Or I write a poem that’s too personal to share, even though I think it’s some of my best work, and it’s just another file in my computer. It can be draining to have so much work go unread, because it can feel like my ideas are all squished in a jar that I pick from as I write and someday those ideas will run out. That’s not the case, but there’s a difference between knowing something and being able to convince yourself enough to believe. And sometimes, even though I’m not sharing something wonderful that I wrote, in that rare ecstatic moment, those words just existing on that page for me to read- knowing that I am capable of writing well- is enough to inspire me to write more and more.

Even though it’s amazing to be able to appreciate my own work, there’s still the looming idea that I do, in fact, want this to someday be my job. That means I have to push myself, and write when it sucks, and continue to write things that suck. Even if I don’t get that feeling of being good for days, or months, or years, I’m going to have to keep writing if I want to succeed. I have these big, grandiose goals, and I’m never going to get to them if I just keep treating writing as a hobby. Which is hard, because sometimes I want to quit. After all, it would be easier to get some job with a steady income and a sure fire way to know you’re done the task and hand. But then I remember that writing is my passion and I just have to get past those barriers of not wanting to write, because creating a story is so much more satisfying than any day job could ever be for me.

That’s what I’m doing every day- trying to get past barrier after barrier. It doesn’t matter, really, if I’m writing for me or if I’m writing to share it with the world, because either way, hopefully, I’m getting better. I have to trust myself to know what I can accomplish, because in the end these are my goals, my dreams, and my ambitions, and the only way I’m going to get what I want is by pursuing it, no matter how much I doubt myself. And no matter how much I think that what I write is stupid (or cheesy, like this blog post most definitely is) I really do have to keep going, because it’s the only thing I know how to do, and the only shot I have at making it in this crazy world.