Lifestyle

What’s Been on my Mind Lately?

Today’s blog post is going to be a bit different than usual. I wanted to discuss some interesting topics that have been on my mind lately and catch up on life in general. Although it’s scary being vulnerable on here, I want to share what’s been on my mind in the past month or so, and how my mentality has evolved, so I can help anyone else who’s had similar feelings.

I haven’t been publishing any of the blog drafts I’ve worked on recently because of how I’ve been feeling, mentally. I’ve had a lot on my mind and needed to work through those issues before I could feel creative and write a blog that I was truly proud of.

Every time I drafted a new blog post I always felt like the quality wasn’t there. I also felt like I wasn’t being fully transparent about things that were on my mind. It’s important to me that I’m always transparent about my thoughts on Big Sister Blog. I felt like it was better to take some time to really think about my thoughts and truly understand why I wasn’t feeling like myself. Once I found the root cause of those emotions, I was able to address the problem and follow a path to feeling 100% again. For the past week or so I’ve been feeling a whole lot better!

What I’ve been up to

A few weeks ago, I started back at school again. I’m now in my fourth and final year of university – kind of scary, I know. For the past couple of months, I’ve been very focused on applying for post-graduation jobs. Applying for jobs is a full-time job in itself! Fixing up your resume, editing or rewriting your cover letter, applying for different job postings, doing coffee chats, making new industry connections, preparing for interviews, interviewing, and then… patiently waiting to hear back.

On top of this, I’ve had to balance being a student and working part-time. I work at a golf course for around 25-30 hours each week, spanned across Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. At the golf course, I typically work on the beer cart and occasionally inside the clubhouse’s restaurant. I love this job because you get to be outside, make friendly conversation with customers, and earn great tips! Now that I’ve been so busy with work and classes, most of my spare time goes to doing homework. In the extra time when I’m not doing homework, I try to see my friends or go on long walks around Toronto while listening to podcasts. I know, such a wild and crazy life (kidding).

Doing Some Thinking

During this busy time of my life, I’ve been forced to do a lot of thinking. I’m also (somewhat) recently single, which means I’ve spent a lot of this time on my own. Of course, I’m around my friends, family, coworkers, and classmates quite frequently, but there has been some adapting to the single lifestyle on my end.

Spending more time alone has had its ups and downs for me over the past month. I’ve always been a person who enjoys time to myself and doing my own thing. However, I’ve recently been afraid to spend time alone – up until about a week ago. I was worried that other people would think I was boring if I spent too much time on my own, and I was too scared to be alone and have to deal with my overstressed brain.

Instead of taking time to process how I was actually feeling, I let everything pile up in my mind, spending my alone time doing unproductive things such as using social media (essentially as a distraction). Not the right way to do it!

Enjoying alone time does not make you boring. Of course, life is all about balance – it’s good to spend time with people too (and vice versa; you shouldn’t always spend time with other people). I slowly learned the value of spending time by yourself, and how much you can learn about the person you are. Only when I understood this was I able to be productive and happy when I’m alone. I’ve learned how to spend my alone time in a way where I feel productive and see personal growth.

Spending Time on social media

Don’t get me wrong here, social media can be a great thing. I love that I can see what my friends are up to even from afar. Social media allows us to show off and share aspects of our lives that we are proud of.

However, there’s a darker side to social media that I’ve recently been affected by. In the past few months, social media was really taking a toll on me. More specifically, the app TikTok. Like I mentioned above, social media allows us to share aspects of our lives that we are proud of. However, nobody ever shows the entire picture – sometimes we forget that. I’m not blaming or judging anyone; it’s the way social media was designed. I only post my best photos from the best angles with the best lighting (etc.). Why would we ever share anything with our followers that portray us in a “negative” way?

Social media has been harmful to me for a few reasons. The first being that it’s extremely addicting. It’s crazy to think that these apps have algorithms, literally designed to provide/suggest content that you’re interested in, giving you an endless feed of enjoyable content. This can lead to HOURS spent on these apps. 

I find a lot of the content I’m viewing interesting, entertaining, and funny. However, we as humans naturally end up comparing ourselves to those we see on our screens – people we’ve never met and truthfully, know nothing about. We are fed content of people who are popular, healthy/fit, productive, attractive, intelligent, talented, successful, wealthy, etc. – or at least people who portray themselves that way online.

I end up comparing myself to those I see on the app and feel inferior about myself. I didn’t even notice that I felt this way because it was actually very subconscious. It was only until I sat down and actually took time to think about this habit and realized why it was harming me and to what extent. Reflecting allowed me to realize how this app was negat8ively contributing to my mental wellbeing, which in turn can affect other areas of my life. Alone time allowed me to process this and eliminate the app from my life.

Sometimes I would find myself using social media because I didn’t want to sit down alone with my own thoughts. On top of that, by distracting myself with access to unlimited images and short video clips, I destroyed my attention span. I struggled sitting through my lectures in the first two weeks of school because I wasn’t used to focusing on one thing for so long.

As I mentioned, I’ve pretty much cut the app out of my life. I don’t use it at all anymore, and I think that’s for the best. I’ve been so much more productive, and my attention span is slowly recovering.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use other social media. Social media isn’t always such a bad thing, it just depends how you use it and how you interpret it. It was affecting me, so I simply needed to limit my usage. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to cut out social media to live a happy life – that’s not realistic.

Post Breakup Alone Time

Naturally, when you go through a breakup, you need to get used to doing things on your own again. Sure, when I was in a relationship, I did things on my own and for myself – but it’s very different when you’re single. I would do things on my own, but frequently still have someone in my presence. There was rarely a time when I would feel lonely.

Now that I’m single, I’m being forced to spend time alone. However, this has actually been a blessing in disguise for me and my personal growth. I’ve learned. to much about myself in the past couple of weeks.

Spending Time Alone

I feel like there’s a stigma around spending time alone. A few weeks ago, I started feeling like I was spending too much time alone. I essentially live on my own when I’m at school in Toronto (my mom is there sometimes for work). Even if I were in class and saw friends all day, I would still have to spend time alone (in the morning, at night, etc.). This wasn’t normal for me, as I was so used to being in a relationship where my partner was present in a lot of those moments with me. This was a huge adjustment.

The reality is: everyone spends time alone. Even in a healthy relationship, you should have time alone. It’s also okay and very normal to enjoy spending time by yourself. Anyone who judges you for doing something alone is just projecting their insecurities onto you.

Alone time is great because it forces you to be on your own with your thoughts. This time allows you to better understand yourself, the things you need in life, what’s important to you, and more about your passions and goals. If you’re upset about something but don’t know exactly what that is, alone time can help you face those thoughts and better understand the situation. I got to the point of realizing I would rather spend an evening alone than spend it with someone who doesn’t care about me. Alone time really helped me mature and gain a fresh perspective on my life.

I was afraid of spending time alone because I didn’t want to think about my life too deeply. I didn’t want to reflect on how social media was making me feel. Figuring out how to fill my alone time was stressful. I didn’t want to sit down and figure out what I’m passionate about. These each required a lot of self-reflection, admittance, and personal growth. I think when we don’t want to spend time by ourselves is when we need to be alone the most. There was so much on my mind that I needed to reflect on and learn from.

I started journaling in my free time so I could better understand how I was feeling. I would 100% recommend this. Journaling allows you to put your scrambled-up thoughts, fears, and dreams into real words. Just putting these down on paper allows you to admit how you really feel. Once you admit it, you can address it.

I’m now at the point where I love spending time alone. If you force yourself to spend time alone when you don’t want to the most, you will grow. If you’re hanging out with people to avoid being alone, you probably need some time to yourself.  You should value your time and who you give it out to. You will be able to have a more meaningful social life and enjoy your time with friends in the future if you take the time to reflect now.

Outgrowing Friendships

That point leads perfectly into another thing that’s been on my mind lately: outgrowing friendships.

I’ve noticed as things go back to normal (from the pandemic), it feels like I have a smaller group of friends. It’s almost like you start off with a large group of friends in first year, and each year that number is refined. Not necessarily because there were fights or something happened, but you simply grew in different ways.

I had to come to terms with this. People change in different ways and sometimes that means moving on from friendships. You must recognize who deserves your time. Does this friend invest the same effort you would into this relationship? Do you believe this friend would be there for you when you need someone? Ask yourself these questions. Don’t invest your time in people who wouldn’t do the same for you. It’s okay to only have a few close/best friends – I know I do. Sure, there are classmates, coworkers, and other people in my life who I’m great friends with, but I’m talking about someone you would trust with anything.

If you have friends who put you down and invalidate your feelings, those aren’t friends. If you’re surrounded by people who don’t listen to you and focus the entire conversation on their life, that’s not your friend. Of course, it can’t always be about you – but sometimes, it should be. That’s how a healthy friendship works. Don’t waste your time with people just because you don’t want to spend time alone. You will find the right people who care about you as much as you do them. Never settle. Just give it time.

Finding Work I’m Passionate About

As a fourth-year university student, another inevitable thing that was on my mind has been finding a career that I’m passionate about. I wanted to discover what would motivate me to wake up each morning with excitement.

I’m starting to learn the importance of finding a career that you are passionate about. Pursuing a path that fits your goals and needs in life. I used to get so caught up in having a career with the most reputable firms and the best-paying salaries. My school program often felt like a competition of who could get the most prestigious internships and job offers. You need to have tunnel vision about your life’s goals despite external pressures.

Don’t worry about what other people say or think, or else you will never be happy. Think about where you see yourself down the line and ask yourself how you can start getting to that goal. If working at a top company is part of your path, then do everything in your power to pursue that. For me, I’ve recently realized this might not be my heart’s desire. I became so caught up in having the best firms on my resumes so other people would think I was smart and talented. That was an awful mentality. I’ve genuinely reached a point where I’m confident in my own abilities, and want to find work that creates a meaningful and happy life for me (and hopefully early retirement so I can work on my golf game a little more lol).

Some Things I’m Proud of recently

  • Learning how to play golf
    • I started learning at the end of last summer, but now that I work at a golf course, I’m trying to play after I get off work as much as possible,
    • I play with family, friends, and sometimes on my own. It’s great exercise, a good social activity, or if you play by yourself like I do – a good way to spend some time alone and think. You also get to be outside and work on your tan which is a bonus.
  • Taking up running
    • I’m not a fast runner, but I like running for two reasons: (1) physical fitness and (2) mental relaxation.
    • Near my apartment in Toronto there is a waterfront trail and it has been very therapeutic to run and be with my thoughts.
  • Cooking Meals and Eating Healthy
    • I’ve been trying to focus on eating decently healthy lately. I cook most of my meals and pack a lunch for my days on campus/work.
  • Meditation
    • If you don’t meditate… please, try it! You will not regret that decision. I do a YouTube guided meditation before bed that usually will put me to sleep by accident because I feel so relaxed. You will sleep much more peacefully.
  • Reading Books and Listening to Podcasts
    • I’m trying to read 15 mins minimum every day. Reading is a great way to educate yourself and spend your free time wisely.
    • Podcasts are also amazing. Listening while I’m on walks or cooking dinner has become a new addiction. I listen to advice podcasts and also educational podcasts.
  • Interviews
    • I’ve been working hard at applying for jobs and preparing for interviews. I know the right one will come along eventually.
  • Journaling
    • Journaling is literal gold. If you are scared to be alone with your thoughts or ever get overwhelmed with what’s on your mind, write out your thoughts! This is such a great way to decode how you’re really feeling and why you’re feeling that way. Once you understand the root cause, you can better address it.
  • Featured on my school’s website!
    • Check it out at this link. So exciting!

Some Things I’m Trying to Work on

  • Going to the Gym
    • Getting back into a consistent schedule of 6 days a week.
  • Not eating out too much
    • Even though I try to pack a lunch every day, I can’t help but want to buy coffee when I’m on campus. Something about buying food is just so much more luxurious then eating out of a tupperware container. I’m trying to save my money so this is something I’m working on.
  • Walking to class more often
    • For a little while I was driving to class or taking the subway. I know I should be walking more – the weather has been amazing in Toronto lately and it’s also great exercise! Recently I’ve started walking mroe so I want to stick with that.
  • Calling my friends and family
    • Always check in on the people you love. Friendship is a two-way street. I know I need to spend a bit more time each day checking on the people I care about.
  • Putting more effort into meeting new people
    • Sometimes in life we become complacent with where we are. Because I have an amazing support system around me, I oftentimes I forget to put myself out there and meet new friends. Always good to meet new people!

Why I haven’t been posting on My Blog

As I mentioned, I took some time off from posting because I felt like I was not in the best mental state to provide advice to anyone else. However, now that I’ve been able to work through the issues that were going on in my life, I feel like I’m in a much better position to help other people who might have similar struggles in theirs. I’ve truly been able to gain more perspective recently.

Taking a break is okay sometimes. If I forced myself to write blogs while my mind was cluttered with other thoughts, it would show in the quality of my writing. I didn’t want my passion for writing blogs to disappear. Blogging is something very therapeutic and rewarding for me, and I was afraid I would end up resenting it if I forced myself to keep writing.

Remember to take breaks when you need them. Sometimes you need time to yourself. If something is bothering you, upsetting you, or holding you back, try to address it immediately, however you need to. If you don’t, you will end up performing worse in other areas of your life. Now that I’ve taken the time to really understand why I was upset and what was going on in my mind, I am feeling so much happier. I feel excited to blog again, and I’m looking forward to the future of Big Sister Blog!

Thank You for reading!

Karley

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