Where to go now?

So many people in this world do amazing things. They volunteer to save lives, they backpack around the world, they break world records and get famous. They have purpose. They have goals.

Do I have goals? I don’t know. I’d like to be a better roller derby skater, but then half of the time the day practice comes around I struggle to leave my apartment. I want to travel, but I’m dealing with a large amount of student debt that prevents me from doing the many trips I’d like to take. I want to be more self sufficient, more confident, but how do I do that? I don’t know.

My boyfriend asks me all the time what goals I have. I tell him these sorts of things, but he says they’re short sighted. That I don’t have any long-term goals. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I know I don’t want kids, I know I have no desire to do things like getting married… so now what?

Last night I went to an event with the roller derby league and was talking to this girl who had just gotten back from eight months of backpacking through South East Asia. Her photos and experiences looked phenomenal. And she did it all on her own. We got to talking about what she wants to do next, and then she asked me the same question.

We talked about careers. I mentioned that although my job isn’t anything spectacular, it’s good enough for a first real job. She asked me what I aspired to do after this job. All I could really say was that I wanted something less conservative with less affluent people that I could get along with. When she asked me more specifically what that looked like—I struggled to answer.

Go to School, Get a Job

This has been my goal for my entire life. My parents work in mediocre, middle-class jobs, and always wanted me to do better. Throughout my entire life they worked hard to make sure I could get an education and get a good job. I really appreciate their hard work to allow me to do that, but beyond that, I didn’t know what my future held.

When I started post secondary, my whole life revolved around school and working a little on the side to help pay for school. It was my whole life.

I’ve now been graduated and working for two years, and what do I have to show for it? I have a good first job, I’ve moved out, but I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do now. My whole life was leading up to the moment where I got a good job that could be a career. And now I have that, so now what?

Do I want to own a house? Do I want to move away? Do I want to do what my derby friend did and backpack and explore the world?

Or do I just stay steady and for the rest of my life have nothing interesting to contribute to conversations when I’m surrounded by amazing people doing amazing things?

I’m struggling with what to do with my life at this point. I feel like a lot of my struggles come from the fact that I’m also in debt and couldn’t just get up and do the things I want to do. It makes me wonder at this point if school was worth it. If this potential career was worth it.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Bicycle, bicycle. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike… but I can’t.

Actually, I don’t even own a bicycle. I haven’t since I was maybe five years old. The truth is… I’m a 25-year-old Canadian who isn’t capable of riding a bike. I can use ice skates, roller skates, and roller blades no problem, but put me on a bike and I fall over pretty much immediately.

It’s honestly hard to admit. Most of the people in my life don’t know. It was to the point where I actually backed out of a trip to Europe in high school, and although the main reason was money, another main deciding factor was the fact that one of the days was supposed to be spent going on a bike tour. How could I tell everyone going on the trip that I’d be staying in the hotel room all day because I couldn’t ride a bike?

So, What Happened?

I don’t remember what happened all that clearly. What I do remember is that I always struggled more than my brother, who’s two years younger than me, at riding a bike. I remember managing to fall off of it many times, even with training wheels.

My dad tells me that the breaking point was this one time I was trying to ride the bike beside the house. I fell off of the bike and hit the stucco on the side of the house, which cut me. Are you American and don’t know what stucco is? Apparently it’s not really a thing there.

This is stucco:

stuccobackground_0

It’s scratchy and pointy and unpleasant to touch.

After that day, my dad says I outright refused to get back on a bicycle. Today I’m really wishing he had just forced me to do it.

What Changed My Mind

I’m now 25 and am longing to learn how to ride a bike. Why, you might ask? I mean, of course it’s good exercise and all that, but a big part of it was because of when I was in Amsterdam last summer. Everyone in that city owns a bike. More people take their bikes than drive. It’s a beautiful city and riding your bike everywhere there just seemed so efficient. Even a lot of their food delivery services were done by bicycle.

20160619_162455_hdr

That and there are some very beautiful bikes out there.

I also felt awful because my boyfriend and I couldn’t rent bikes to ride around that beautiful city because, even though he could, I would fall the second I took my foot off the ground after getting on a bike. Not only is my incompetence on a bike affecting my life, it’s now affecting others.

Even at home we’ve thought about renting those lame two-person bikes just because it might be fun. But, again, I hold us back from doing these types of activities.

If the two-person bike thing was anything like this photo, I’d be the Mr. Burns.

104

How Can I Learn Now?

Seriously. How does a 25 year old learn how to ride a bike without being ridiculed? Where can I go where I won’t be laughed at? Where can I go where I can put on my roller derby gear and hop on a bike and not look like a fool when I inevitably fall on my ass?

I really do want to learn how to ride a bike, but honestly at this point the embarrassment of being seen in public like that is so difficult to get past.

I’m absolutely open to any suggestions. Right now, I really need it. I need to get my ass on a bike. I need to get scraped and cut and embarrassed, but how can I bring myself to do it when I should have learned how to keep my balance on a bike 20 years ago? I hope one day I can get over these fears and learn, because one of my dreams is to go back to the Netherlands and ride a bike around their gorgeous cities.

Addicted to the Sweet Stuff

Addictions. They’re something that plague a lot of people. My best friend’s dad is addicted to alcohol—so is my boyfriend’s dad, actually. My grandfather is addicted to gambling, and we found that out in a truly difficult way (that’s a story for another day). I’ve known people who’ve destroyed their lives with drug addictions. Many of those people standing in the huge lines in the morning at Tim Hortons because they have to get their coffee? Also addicted. Hell, even my ex-boyfriend’s dad was addicted to nasal spray.

I’ve never been one to have an addictive personality. I don’t get headaches from not having coffee even though I choose to drink it every day. Alcohol was never really my thing. Drugs never caught my attention…

But I do have one bad weak spot—sugar.

the-simpsons-season-13-episode-8-18-bc0aMy boyfriend and I moved at the beginning of February. So we didn’t have a whole box of food to move, we ate everything in our apartment and then for our last week in our old place we bought food for pretty much every meal. That doesn’t sound awful, right? Well, except for the fact that we were often making runs to 7-Eleven, I was buying little candies to chew on at my desk at work, and we often ordered dessert when we went to a sit down restaurant.

It’s been two weeks now, and although I’ve gone back to grocery shopping and preparing most of my own food, I just can’t seem to shake my need for sweets.

Nothing New Here

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this major craving to sweets. My first job was at a Pizza Hut and the only free stuff we got was the soda. Since it would get so hot in the kitchen, I was drinking coke by the cup full. When I left that job at 17 years old, I had gained weight and was battling an addiction to soda. It didn’t help that my mom drank coke like crazy, too.

I finally managed to kick soda, and honestly have never been able to drink it the same way again. The only time I really indulge is when someone brings me back Vanilla Coke from the U.S. (that stuff is liquid gold to me). Now the texture is almost sludgy.

I dealt with another sweets addiction when I was in college. There was a small convenience store on campus and I was buying chocolate bars or those little gummy candies almost every day. It ended up becoming my way of coping with the stress of my course load.

Sure enough, after I graduated, it took me months of absolute discipline to kick the sweets. It actually got to the point where I started using that My Fitness Pal phone app and I started tracking my meals. Once I realized how many calories and grams of sugar I was consuming in one day, it was a real wake up call, to say the least.

Now, I’m back on the sweet stuff again.

First, you get the sugar. Then, you get the power. Then, you get the women. Seriously, is there any topic that doesn’t have some kind of Simpsons reference?

Is It Addiction?

I don’t want to make my problems seem like they have the same impact on my health as, say, an addiction to smoking or alcohol, but I feel like this must not be good for my health.

My boyfriend, who often accompanies me on these sweets runs, always likes to say that sugar is our generation’s cigarettes. Everyone consumes it and it’s in nearly everything, yet at the moment there are doctors telling us sugar is bad, but there isn’t as big of a push to help people realize how much sugar they eat in a day. I sometimes feel like there’s a bigger push to stop things like pesticides and GMOs, which, for the record, I don’t think are that big of a problem, especially not GMOs. Activists say chemicals like glyphosate are poison to us, but what about processed sugar? Shouldn’t it be more on our radar just how much we’re consuming compared to how much we should be consuming?

I almost feel like this is an addiction and I keep relapsing. I do well for a little while, but then something happens in my life that just keeps taking me back to the sweet, sweet goodness of sugar.

According to WebMD (you can say what you’d like about whether or not this is a trusted source), scientists aren’t sure if people can be physically dependent on sugar, but they say some animal tests show it’s a possibility. They also say that humans are born liking sweets and that it was probably an evolutionary trait so humans would look for foods like ripe fruits. Unfortunately, humans have harnessed the power of the sweet stuff to make highly concentrated foods like candies and chocolates, so of course we love it that much more than fruit.

In fact, there was a BBC documentary series called “Addicted to Pleasure” that showcased how commercial exploitation got our species hooked on a list of addicted substances. Guess what made the list? Sugar—along with whisky, tobacco, and opium…

99791e7b13a5d62a4746ef0f4fe7b739The worst part of it is that I can’t seem to stop myself from eating it once I start. Even if my teeth and tummy are clearly unhappy, I always seem to see my hand reaching back into the bag of sour cherry gummies.

It almost feels silly to say that my addiction is to sugar, but it does feel like an addiction. One that’s difficult to stop because it’s always around. I work near plenty of shops that sell it and there’s a receptionist near my desk that always has a cup of candy for people passing by. Needless to say I often pass by…

What Will Sugar Do To Me?

Well, make me gain weight, obviously. I’m grateful that I’ve always been a slim person, but because of that, whenever I do gain weight, it all goes to my stomach and it’s pretty noticeable. Every time I get on these sugar kicks, I probably gain about 10 pounds, which for someone small like me, is too much.

According to that same WebMD article, it’s also known to worsen cholesterol and there’s an association between sugar intake and diabetes, which also runs in my family. Great. They also say sugar is bad because it will either add more calories to your diet, or it will displace other nutritious foods. For me, it’s more of the latter.

We also can’t forget that it’s horrible for teeth.

sweets__sour_marge

How Do I Stop This?

It’s a question I keep asking myself. I will likely begin using My Fitness Pal again to remind myself just how much sugar I’ve been consuming, but beyond that, how can I increase my will power? How can I stop myself from taking my co-worker’s candies, or buying something when I stop at a pharmacy just to pick up some lip balm?

Have you had some kind of food addiction? If so, how did you kick it for good? I seem to keep finding temporary solutions but nothing seems to stick.

“You’ll Change Your Mind”

“You’re young. You’ll change your mind.”

If I hear this one more time, I might punch the person who says it. I’m childfree. Always have, and although I won’t say I always will be, the chances are very, very slim that I’ll change my mind. Sure I’m still “young” and have quite a few more years where I could bear a child, but I quite honestly can’t stand most children.

attach8991_20170114_091128-1

I grew up in a family where all of my cousins are around my age. None of them have children yet, and my youngest cousin is in her first year of university. I have almost no experience with children, except dealing with them when I worked in retail for six years. “Mommy I want it. MOMMY I WANT IT. MOMMYYYY I WANT IT.”

That was basically my working life for six years. That or brat teenagers trying to steal headphones and rap CDs from the media store I worked at. Or 10-year-old kids finding the most obnoxious squeaky toy we had at the pet store I worked at, and then they would walk around the store squeaking it, and squeaking it, and squeaking it.

Sure, I’ve met some kids that I’ve liked. Some of my friends in the roller derby league have kids that I’ve briefly spoken with. But those are kids that are well behaved and I only have to exchange a few words with them before I hand them back to their mother.

I’ll Change My Mind – Will I?

I still remember the first time someone said this to me. I was working at a Pizza Hut when I was 15, and somehow this came up in conversation with my manager. I told him I didn’t think I ever wanted kids, and he openly laughed at me and said “the ones who say they don’t want them always end up being the ones that have them.” It’s funny because at the time he and his girlfriend identified as childfree, but now they have a chubby little boy together. I guess he lived up to what he said, but that doesn’t mean I have to.

Since then, I’ve been surrounded by people telling me I’ll change my mind. I’m still too young and my “motherly instincts” will kick in. I know I’m still young, but being in my mid twenties, don’t you think I’d at least start changing my mind by now? Well, I haven’t budged on the subject.

e2f1d746ba1a9a50c1e9cab1a629a60eIt doesn’t help that I’m reminded daily about how awful kids are. There’s a toddler that lives in my apartment building, and I think the only thing she knows how to do is scream. I’ve been living here for five months and it’s the only thing I’ve heard come out of her mouth. No words, no murmurs, no burps or anything. Just screaming.

That and pretty much every time I walk into a Walmart, especially around Christmas time, I want to leave immediately because of the children crying for toys or because they have to go to the bathroom or because they just really want to go home.

Mother’s Hopes

My mom has known my thoughts since day one. Actually, she’s the one that sent me the first little comic in this post. Every time I go out with her and a kid starts whining or crying, she immediately looks at me and snickers. She knows my thoughts on the subject.

Yet, there’s always that small bit of hope in her that I’ll change my mind. I can tell. It’s clear she wants to be a grandmother, but I won’t be able to make that happen for her. Do I feel guilty about it? Maybe a little, but I’m not going to have a child just so she can take care of it the odd time. Yeah right. And, I mean, there’s always my brother. Although him and I rant together about our child hatred, so…. who knows.

I’m Childfree

And I probably always will be. It makes me happy that not only do most of my friends share the same mentality, but I’ve found a guy who feels the same way. He may hate kids even more than I do, actually. I am an avid follower of the r/childfree subreddit, and I often see stories from people struggling to find friends and a partner who understand their views. I’m incredibly lucky that I do have people who not only support my decision, but think the same way.

I know there are a lot of people who do not think the same way as me, and that’s fine. But I just ask — please don’t shove your thoughts on children in my face. If you want to have kids, then good for you. But I don’t. And you saying it’s changed your life for the better, or that it’s my responsibility as a woman, or whatever, is not going to change my mind.

Have you ever had struggles when you tell people you identify as childfree? I’d love to hear your stories.

Colder Than Mars

It’s cold. Like, really, fucking, cold. Where I live today there was not only a blizzard warning, but also an extreme cold warning. The roads are pure ice, snow was blowing in my face, and I couldn’t see more than a short distance in front of me.

windchillThis little meme/comic, whatever you want to call it, is extremely popular where I come from. Are you from somewhere warm? Well, this comic doesn’t exaggerate. Where I live, the air actually makes people’s faces hurt — often within minutes of being outside.

In fact, I think it was three years ago or so… where I live was considered “colder than Mars” at one point. Yup. You heard that right. Colder than Mars.

So why do I live here, do you ask? Why, in fact, do so many people live in places like this one? Where the snow banks are so high that you can barely see past them with your car. Where the air actually hurts our faces. Where we look longingly at beautiful “winter” fashions, but know we might freeze to death if we wore those tiny boots and peacoats. Where we travel to places like Phoenix in December and January, excited to wear capris and a light t-shirt, but the people who actually live there are wearing light jackets because it’s “too cold” for them. Where every, single, year we ask ourselves: “Why do I still live here?” Well, that’s a good question.

The Boomerang Effect

come-for-the-cultureI don’t know if this is something I just started using myself or if someone said it to me once, but the city I live in has what I like to call a “boomerang effect.” Many people I’ve known who’ve left this city for a grander life in a larger, warmer city, always seem to find their way back here. It seems like if you’re born here, you die here. Even if you try to escape. I’ve heard multiple reasons from people as to why they come back.

“Oh the people there weren’t friendly.”
“It was too expensive there.”
“The job market was too competitive.”
“All of my family and friends are here.”
Or even, simply, “I missed home.”

My Life Is Here

I’m currently with a guy who has every intention to leave this city. He still wants to stay in Canada, but he wants to move far enough away that to come back to this cold city of mine, it would most likely be by plane. So, given the fact that it’s freezing here, the job market is pretty small, and I’d have a million more opportunities elsewhere, why do I stay?

I’ve been asking myself that for so long. Is it because of my friends and family? Honestly, that’s mostly it. My boyfriend often accuses me of choosing comfort over opportunities and adventure. Is it sad to admit that I think that’s also part of the reason I’m still here? I’m afraid of change. There I said it. Especially change that involves going somewhere where my support system is almost non-existent. I mean, sure I’d have him, but I’m sure you understand when I say that you can’t just go to your boyfriend for every little problem or frustration.

I’m obliviously comfortable here. Unaware of what the rest of the world has to offer, but there’s that part of me that’s scared to find out. Of course I’d love to get away from the cold and everything here, but leaving my family, friends, and my whole life behind… am I willing to do it? I don’t know.

funny-memes-simpsons-advertising-strategiesOne example of these fears is the way I drive. I’ve been driving for nearly 10 years now. I’m experienced enough at it. But I still panic when I get into territory that I’m not familiar with. I always get super anxious that I’m going the wrong way, that I’m going to get lost, that I won’t get where I need to go on time. I always end up pulling over and checking Google Maps to make sure I’m on track or to figure out where the hell I am. When I’m traveling alone I can handle it, but when I’m with other people that try to help me out I tend to lose it.

I’m terrified moving to a new place would basically be like that, but cranked to 11.

Should I stay or should I go?

My boyfriend will for sure be leaving this city, and probably within the next few years. I’m trying to decide now if I’ll be going with him. I know there are far better opportunities outside of this city where my face hurts when I step outside. I know there are chances to meet lots of new people, join one of the better Canadian roller derby leagues, and get a much better job in my field. So what’s keeping me here? When I lay out the pros and cons, of course there are far more pros. But comfort, family and the fear of the unknown are difficult cons to get past.

That’s where I need your help, if I have anyone reading this. Have you ever faced this kind of struggle? How did you get over it? Or if you didn’t get over it, do you regret it?

Copy + Paste

“I’m a writer.” It’s probably one of the most pretentious-sounding things someone can say they do for a living. Well, technically that’s what I do. More specifically, I’m a communications “expert.” I mainly do internal communications for a large company where I live. I put together newsletters, manage the company’s brand, go through the photo library… all that fun nonsense that people resort to when they want to be a writer but realize they ALSO need to make money for a living.

Am I educated? Yes. Five years of school, to be exact. Three in university and two in college. College, in my opinion, is absolutely the better option if you’re considering pursuing  post secondary education. At least in Canada, anyway. But with the programs I took, they both have this thing in common. Mostly because it’s a creative field.

My Realization

Last week, I had to write yet another corporate message on behalf of the company’s CEO. I had my manager look over it, and then I gave it to the CEO to review. The other day, he called me to his office to talk about the message. I was terrified. I thought he was going to tear the whole thing apart, which I didn’t quite understand, considering it was a pretty generic message.

When I got to his office, he handed back the paper with no mark ups, simply saying, “I didn’t want to embarrass you in front of your co-workers, but this is excellently written. Well done.”

That’s when I realized how I managed to get that type of comment from him. I’m not an exquisite writer, per se, I’ve just become very aware of what the people I’m writing for want to hear. No, I don’t mean the audiences reading the piece, which in this case would be employees attending a company conference. I mean the manager, or teacher, or CEO that’s going to review my writing before it goes out to the proper audiences.

 

Creativity is Subjective

6bdbd9e9be4faba761b41a3301fbc18d793c776bf8951a32b36f1fd4529bff73Thinking back to my marks in school, they always seem to follow the same pattern. The first papers I would submit to a teacher I was unfamiliar with would come back with the lowest grades, while the papers at the end of the term would have much higher grades with much more praise.

Do you say it’s because I learned the subject matter and got better throughout the term? It could be. I think what I was really learning is the teachers’ styles, and I was manipulating all of my work to match their preferences. That’s one of the problems with a creative field. In science or math, there’s a right or wrong answer. In writing, there are so many other factors to consider.

A lot of writers talk about how they have their own “voice,” and I’m beginning to realize I don’t really have my own. My writing voice changes depending on the person from which I’m seeking approval. When I write for my company’s CEO, for example, I don’t use contractions, I talk about the company and employees as “we,” and I make sure to have at least something about the company’s investments in its locations. It’s like I just take the same ideas and copy and paste them, with slightly different sentence structures, for each thing I write for my job.

A New Creative Outlet

That’s partially why I started this blog. I felt like my “creative” voice was fading behind the corporate speak I need to use every day. The creative voice was once the one I used daily in school, but of course with some tweaks depending on the teacher.

how-to-improve-your-writing-the-newshackers

In my field, some people might say my abilities to pick up on people’s preferences would be beneficial. Yes, I agree, it would be—if I was able to write for the audiences directly without having that approval process in the middle. But being stuck in a beginner role at the moment, I find myself writing for the preferences of my co-workers, not the people who will actually be reading my work once it’s published. Sometimes both groups have the same goals. But sometimes they don’t.

So there you have it. That’s why I’m here, writing this blog. I hope that by writing more pieces that aren’t in “corporate speak,” I can make sure I don’t get stuck in a dry, corporate rut that I’m not able to dig myself out of.