Alone No More

Today is my last Sunday living alone – hopefully for a very long time.

For the past six years I’ve lived by myself in Montreal. This week, I’m finally moving in with Xavier.

It’s a big chapter of my life coming to an end, and as much as I’m happy I had the opportunity to live my young adult life on my own, I am even more happy it’s over.

Living by myself was positive for so many reasons.

I gained maturity a lot faster having to figure things out on my own and being by myself often (thus facing my thoughts), and this helped me to discover my personality, what I like and dislike, what annoys me, what makes me happy, the kind of life I want to live.

Living alone gave me confidence and pushed me to question myself and to face life in a way I could have avoided if I had stayed in the comfort of my parents’ home. For instance, when I lived with my parents as a teenager, I always thought I would like to go into the communication and marketing field. I didn’t want to go into too much of a “hard” program because I didn’t think I could handle it, and I thought communication would be appropriate since I liked talking. However, living by myself not only showed me that life is expensive and that if I wanted to live the kind of life I was aiming for, I’d better roll up my sleeves and get serious about school and jobs, but it also gave me a newfound confidence that proved to be crucial. Having to figure out everything on my own, I proved to myself that I’m strong and I can handle anything. It’s that confidence that pushed me to aim high, switch schools and programs, get out of a bad relationship and go get the job I wanted. One should never underestimate confidence.

Of course, living alone gave me so much freedom. I could do anything I wanted, every day. Go out to a cool new restaurant? Sure, any day. Go out to a bar with friends? Yes, any day. Eat a whole pizza by myself? No worries, any time. Go out on a date on a week night? No problem! That’s the part I loved the most about those years. The independence. I’ve always been a responsible person, so it was easy for me to balance the fun with the school and the work. It was so much fun to live it all, on my own, with no authority.

That said, living alone was not always easy.

There are many times where I wish someone would have been there to listen to me, to comfort me, to have a great conversation with and to share laughs. I ate almost every dinner alone with Netflix for the past 6 years. I had a lot of alone time, and it was difficult at times. I had to go through a sickness on my own. I had to take care of myself each day, because no one else would do it for me. If I could point to one thing that didn’t make me so happy, it was this. Relationships and human contacts are so important, and I sometimes felt I was lacking that.

That’s why I’m so happy to move in with Xavier. He’ll finally be that person I can make jokes with, have dinner with, or have impromptu dance parties with. He’ll be the shoulder I can cry on and the person I can surprise with a cool new recipe. I won’t be alone anymore, I’ll take care of someone, and someone will be taking care of me. That feels amazing.

I can’t wait to start this new chapter of my life.

Bring it on, adult life!

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Forced to Slow Down

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I’ve always loved to be productive. I always try to wake up early, even on the weekends, because I simply love to do things and I don’t think any day should be wasted. Of course, I have my Netflix evenings like everyone else, but overall I try to be as productive as I can be. I love the feeling it gives me.

However, for the past month, I’ve been forced to slow down. During my finals, about a month ago, I got fever, headaches for days and I was constantly tired. I blamed it all on my nerves, which means I blamed it on me, and I cracked. I had put so much pressure on myself, it was too much. I sort of had a nervous breakdown. Then, I started developing other symptoms. So much that I went to the hospital over a week ago to find out that I have mononucleosis and a viral hepatitis. I put so much pressure on myself, when in the end, I had absolutely nothing to do with what was going on. I was sick.

As a high-achiever, it can be hard for me to listen to my body and focus on myself. Whether it’s at work or at school, I always try to give my 110%. However, what I’m realizing is that it’s impossible to do so when you’re not healthy. I started a new job two weeks ago, right after my last final, and it’s been incredibly hard for me to realize that I must slow down and I can’t do the hours I would normally do. I have to take days off and sometimes leave early. I also had to drop my summer class at school. In a way, I feel like I’m disappointing the people around me, when in fact, all they want is for me to get better. The other day, someone told me “I find that you’re too hard on yourself”. It sort of hit me. The fact that what seemed normal to me was in fact way too much to someone else. In the end, what I’m finally realizing is that all of those missed hours or that dropped class don’t matter. All that matters is that I get healthy again.

This past weekend, my parents came to Montreal to help me out. I hadn’t gone grocery shopping in weeks! They brought me tons of food, new furniture I needed and they gave me some much needed love. When they showed up, I couldn’t help but get emotional. I’ve been living on my own for years and I think along the way I forgot how nice it is to have someone care for you that way. It meant the world to me that they showed up to help me out. In fact, I was able to take my first truly relaxing nap in weeks. I couldn’t be more grateful for both of them.

Although I do hope I wasn’t sick, it’s reminding me what is really important in my life and who matters in the end. It also reminds me how amazing it is to be young and full of energy, and that I shouldn’t take any of that for granted. Now those are some pretty positive takeaways from all of this! 😉

And by the way, I believe I am slowly but surely getting better!! My goal is to be fully back on my feet by July 1st. Let the countdown begin!

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The Power of Education

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Since I was young, my parents have always told me how important education is. However, I didn’t really understand how important it was until more recently, in the past few years. In high school, it seemed like so many things we were taught weren’t important – I didn’t see the big picture and I took it for granted. However, today I do understand, and the more I grow up, the more I believe education is the answer to solve a lot of problems. The good news is, people are getting more and more educated across the globe so we definitely are heading in the right direction. For instance, in the US, in 2014, 34% of people in their twenties had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 23% in 1990. In Canada, post-secondary education increased from 39% to 50% from 1999 to 2009. However, it is something that we must always fight for, because it takes one bad policy to go backwards. It takes a Donald Trump who “loves uneducated people” and who knows they get him elected.

Education isn’t always easy. As I am currently doing my master’s, I spend most of my days alone in my apartment studying. It requires a lot of discipline as well as the power to say no to certain activities. It’s all about focusing on long term goals. I also need to motivate myself to get up early and start studying as if I had a normal job. Over the past few years, I found certain things very helpful in achieving this. First, I try to surround myself with people who are motivated and I nourish those relationships as much as possible. Second, I try to exercise at least three times a week. It gives me a rush of energy and I am always a lot more productive after that. Finally, even though I stay focused on my long-term objectives, I also set time aside to do fun activities – life’s too short to work all the time. It always relaxes me, it helps me put everything into perspective and I always perform better afterwards.

Education is important worldwide. Everyone should be able to go to school and learn. With education, people learn how to think on their own, they question authority, and they are more independent. As a woman, education makes me feel like I can rely on myself – I don’t need a man to support me. This is crucial in so many ways. When you can rely on yourself, you start looking for other things in a partner than someone who can simply provide for you. You start looking for a teammate – someone who is going to support you in all your endeavours, who’ll be your cheerleader, whom you’ll be able to make projects with, who’s going to be your ally. Of course, all those things go both ways. On top of this, if things don’t work out and you’re unhappy in your relationship, you won’t feel trapped in it because you need the other person to provide for you. In the end, you are with your partner because you love them, they make you happy, and you support each other’s endeavours. Now that sounds like a pretty healthy relationship to me. We should all aim for this.

Sadly today, a lot of teenagers look up to the Kardashians of this world as an example. We don’t put enough emphasis on education, and I think that is quite sad. Of course, with high student debts in the US, starting salaries that haven’t increased in decades and the top 1% getting most of the money, it can be hard to show the benefits of education to young people. With that being said, societies keep getting more complex and getting an education will be more and more necessary to have job security. For instance, in “Canada in 2009, 82% of the adult population aged 25 to 64 with a tertiary education were employed, compared with 55% of this age group with less than high school education“.  This is why we should focus on education as a society, with good policies that encourage teenagers and young adults to get educated.

On top of this, from a societal perspective, when the population is well educated, the people are richer, the city is better maintained, the population is healthier, the infrastructure is better, people pay attention to politics more, etc. The benefits are endless and it is up to us to make sure we put emphasis on education in our community, for the well-being of the future generations.

To finish this post, I’d like to share the list of all the best paid jobs at the moment. I think all parents should encourage their kids to do something that they love, but also to aim for a job that will give them a good pay check. Life’s expensive, and it’s important to make sure teenagers realize this so that they can do what they need to do in order to live a good life. The list contains jobs such as surgeon, physician, air traffic controller, orthodontist, chief executive, etc.

What’s your job? What kind of education did you get? Are you happy doing what you do? Would you like to go back to school? How has education impacted your life? I’d love to hear personal stories, so feel free to share! 🙂

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