Hello, November

You have 60 days left in 2018 to do something. Who cares what that is? All you should focus on is the fact that you have 60 days with nothing to lose. 60 days to do 60 things and learn 60 something-news. You get the idea. 60 days.

When I think about what I associate November with, I think of coziness, family, comfort, food, holidays, etc. I think about all of those warm, fuzzy feelings that accompany the New Year. I’ve always thought of November in warm colors. The reds and oranges and yellows of the end of fall never cease to make me feel welcomed and loved. They are colors of passion, desire, and happiness.

As time creeps on, Winter tends to make me feel isolated and cold (big shock.) New Years has always felt the coldest to me. The tinsel and sparkles that people use around January 1st are so metallic and harsh, I find it hard to see them as festive.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always associated the New Year with leaving behind good memories that will never be relived. Of moving on into a new, frightening 12 months with who knows what in store. It feels as though I am doing the same thing I did the previous January – looking down the long path that leads to Christmas.

Welcome, November. You will be my favorite month.


Why I Hate Uber Eats

Like many college students, interns, and busy people in general, every once in a while I get worn down and don’t have the time to cook something. I usually turn to leftovers or something quick in my pantry, but sometimes I turn to much eviler forces – Uber Eats.

I’m incredibly guilty of relying on Uber Eats at the time, which is truly a sin in my book. Not only is it horribly expensive, but the food is never good. I cannot tell you one time that I ordered Uber Eats and felt satisfied with what I got. This last time, I ordered a vegetable stir fry that was a whopping $15.00 and it was mediocre at best. I knew I could have just as easily gone to the store and spent $15.00 on vegetables that would have made me a better stir fry that could have lasted all week.

We all fall victim to feeling stressed or busy. However, on the days when we aren’t stressed or busy, we should prepare for the days when we will be. Prep food, do your laundry, clean your apartment, use your extra time to get little, easy things done so you won’t fall into the trap of Uber Eats or Postmates. The reality of delivery or convenience options is that you pay horrible markups for horrible food.

Since my last disappointment with the app and it’s deliveries, I have deleted the app. It’s too tempting and too easy to open it and scroll through all of the options. The glamour of the food in promotional photos sucks you in and, before you know it, you’ve ordered $15.00 of vegetables in a bland basil sauce. Don’t even give yourself the option. Delete it and plan ahead next time.


Writing What People Want

Sometimes I find it very difficult to keep up with my writing. This blog definitely keeps me in check, but some days I create better content than others. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to write meaningful blogs or articles every day, but it’s easy to do so on the days that you’re motivated. So, you may have a poor low-quality blog to high-quality blog ratio, but you can still reach a large audience if you make that ratio work for you.

When writing your high-quality content, you have to write in such a way that you get your point across while making it readable. If I open up a blog that’s more than 7 paragraphs long, I already know that I will not get through it. I don’t have the time, patience, or focus to read something so long. Keep your blogs short, witty, and to the point.

You also want to focus on what people like to read. What is the formatting? Does it include more or less illustration or visual element? Is it more sarcastic or more literal? Who are you appealing to? These questions will help you define how you get your point across and how to do so in a way that will get you the most reach.

The reality of being a writer of any kind is that you’re going to fail. You will fail ten thousand times before you experience one blip of success. The best writers don’t let their failure phase them. They write not because they expect fame or recognition but because they are passionate about their ideas and believe they’re worth spreading. That genuine love of what you do is also what will truly appeal to your readers. It’s hard to hide a lack of love in writing. If you’re spirited in what you say, your audience will feel your fire and feed it back to you.


Take Advantage of Willpower

When I was trying to get healthier physically, I was always reminded that habits have the advantage over willpower. I always disliked this idea because it seemed to be that the two forces go hand in hand. To develop healthy habits, it took a lot of willpower to start eating better, exercising, and taking care of myself mentally. It was a lot of work for it to become routine, but once it did, it was hard to shake.

A friend of mine told me recently that she scheduled all of her classes in the morning because she wanted to get her day started early and if she had all afternoon classes she would just sleep in. Although I understood what she meant, I wanted to tell her that it was totally possible, and probably more sustainable in the long run, if she just exercised some willpower for a few weeks until waking up earlier became a habit.

I’ve always been a night owl and an early bird, so it’s important to me that I find a way to get 8 hours of sleep while still being able to stay up later but wake up before noon. When I was in high school, I had the worst trouble getting up the morning. Part of that struggle definitely came from the fact that I wasn’t motivated to get to school because I didn’t enjoy my experience there, but most of the problem was exhaustion.

Despite understanding the science of why teenagers need a lot of sleep, I still had to find a way to get up earlier and have more energy. My exhausted state was no longer becoming sustainable and I knew it was important for me to focus on schoolwork at the time I was dealing with this. So, I took advantage of my willpower. I forced myself to make certain habits for two to four weeks. If they hadn’t stuck or, at the very least, weren’t easier by that time, I could drop them. Most of the habits not only stuck, but I found myself looking forward to acting on them.

Willpower, in my opinion, is underutilized and underappreciated. There is so much power in being so motivated and excited about the possibility of the future that you can force yourself through the difficult times. If they continue to be difficult for too long, then you’ll know that those habits were not for you. While habits may be more sustainable in the long term, willpower is an excellent way to take advantage of the initial motivation and excitement that comes with starting a new phase in life.


Working Remotely: How to Recover

Recently, it seems like the dream for people in the workforce is to work remotely. I often hear friends of mine say “I wish I could work from home. A remote job would give me so much freedom to live and travel and experience what I have been missing out on in life.” This idea is not false, not at all, but, like many other things in life, it is incredibly romanticized. My remote internships have given me hundreds of opportunities and opened doors to my future I would have never considered before. However, it takes discipline and passion to keep yourself from falling off the wagon when you don’t have immediate pressure.

When I moved to Montreal and started school at McGill, I underestimated the amount of time I would need to dedicate to school. It’s been a little over a month since I started, and I feel as though I’m getting the hang of things, but I have a lot to catch up on before I’m in the clear. My internships and most of my life outside of school had to be put on hold so I could find my balance and figure out how to manage a new lifestyle, culture, and style of learning.

Now that I have a pattern of working and studying, I’m prepared to integrate remote work back into my schedule. Yesterday, I finally finished a rough draft of a project I was supposed to send to my boss months ago. The great thing about being an unpaid intern is that, because you’re doing free work, your boss can be pretty lenient, but that comes at an expense to your professionalism. You may not face the same kind of punishments as you would if you were being paid, but how does your image to your boss suffer? Will they ever hire you for a paid position if you can’t prove you’re abilities while the pressure is low?

I’m incredibly fortunate that I know both of my “bosses” fairly well, and they understand that moving to a new country and start at a new school is a huge change that will come with uncertainty. The past month hasn’t just been about settling into the increased workload, it’s been about figuring out how to grocery shop, how to manage my money, how to live with strangers, how to divide up housework, and how to take care of myself in the face of immense stress. But now, it’s time to recover.

When recovering from a setback while doing remote work, the hardest part of getting back will be your first day. Whenever you decide to start working at your normal pace again, it will be difficult. You will probably experience a lack of motivation, an inability to work at your full capacity, and a nagging in the back of your mind saying “why even start again? Why bother?”

The stress of beginning again will pass. It will take time and discipline, just like all aspects of remote work do, but during this time it is important to remember why you started your work. Is it something you’re passionate about? Does it give you the life you want? Are you allowed a flexible lifestyle because of how you work? Instead of focusing on the ways that starting again and working more inhibit you and stress you out, think of how they make your life easier and more enjoyable.

When you recover and as you do so over and over again, every time you have to pick yourself up will get easier and faster. You will have more reasons to start, more memories as to why you love what you do, and more experience getting back on your feet. Give yourself time and patience as you work your way into a new phase, but learn the difference between being gentle and making excuses. We all go through difficult periods, but what differentiates those who succeed on their own from those who can’t manage it is the ability to push forward and challenge yourself despite the discomfort you will face.


Photo credit to alternative.ei


FROSH week. A tradition at most Canadian Universities. The last few days before classes start are taken and used as a means to learn about your new school, city, and group of peers. They’re also used to get blackout drunk and have regretful one-night stands. Fortunately, I have no intention of participating in their latter purpose. In fact, I will not be participating in that under any circumstances.

Sure, getting hammered and having a good time sounds fun to a lot of college students, but that’s just not the life for me. A history of addiction and alcoholism in my family has led me to look at the slippery slope that is drinking culture. I don’t want to get involved, especially with that added risk. The hook-up culture at universities is just as awful, but to talk about it would be to beat a dead horse.

For the next four days, I’ll be participating in FROSH events. A music concert, a massive tour of the city, a boat cruise, a music festival, a hike up Mont Royal, and a movie night in the field are just a few of the activities that are planned. In all honesty, they sound fun. I have a feeling it won’t be too hard to fend off the alcohol. I’ll just have to make sure I stand my ground on the issue.

Happy FROSH.