Learning to Love it…Again

I have a habit of romanticizing things. I will idealize just about everything I can, which almost always leads to disappointment or burnout.

I romanticized airports as soon as I had the opportunity to do so. The first time I flew I was too young to have any memories of it, but the airport quickly became my second home. I loved every trip, but I loved the journey there more. The hustle and bustle and business of the airport drew me in.

A lot of it goes back to the blog I wrote about being busy. I have always wanted the life of a business woman who was jumping from city to city with new clients and meetings. I wanted to be jet-setting like that.

I’ve traveled more in the past twelve months than ever before in my life. Between moving to Montreal, being in a long distance relationship, working remotely, and going to conferences, flying became an every-other-week occurrence. I’m sure you can imagine how easily it lost it’s glamour.

Despite this, I am making my best effort to learn how to love flying again. It used to be very easy for me to be happy in an airport, but now I find that I have to make an active effort to find happiness in traveling. It takes more work, but it’s worth it to remind myself of how grateful traveling used to make me feel.

Eloragh

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Not a College Student

When I started this year at McGill, I knew there would be bumps in the road. I had a complicated personal life and huge unruly ambitions that I was unwilling to tame. I wanted to do more than be a college student, so I knew that defining myself as such would mean that my life would revolve around school, instead of the opposite.

I’m not a college student. I have chosen to enroll at a university with the intention of making it fit into what I want my life to look like for the next three years. I wanted to move somewhere else and experience different climates. I wanted to have a part-time job in alternative education. I wanted to continue my side projects. I wanted to exercise and keep my mind and body healthy. School had to fit into all of that.

I worked tirelessly this semester, making university fit into my life. I asked for a lot of exceptions and did the work to make sure I got them. McGill has been great, but only because I showed that I was on top of my game and willing to do anything to get some flexibility for my program.

I realized that it would be impossible for me to be a defined as a college student, because adapting the lifestyle of a typical student would mean that all of my other dreams would fade away.

To people that do define themselves as college students, it’s an accurate description. University is a big part of their life for three to five years. I don’t think I could say the same. I work on school just about as much as I work on other things in my life. I do not have a 4.0 GPA like I did in high school, but I don’t need one anymore. Keeping my GPA above average is more than enough for me to feel successful, especially with everything else I have on my plate.

So labeling myself as a college student wouldn’t have ever really worked for me. It would have been a strategy that got in the way of my ambitions and goals. I knew that to be taken seriously inside and out of the academic world, I would have to show that I was on par with my professors and the entrepreneurs I wanted to work with. I don’t know if I have quite reached that level, but I have made every effort to show the strides I’m making to get there.

University fit in with my life because I made it so. I’m more proud of myself now with a 3.25 GPA and an amazing life outside of school than I ever was as the valedictorian in high school. Having priorities outside of academia have helped me to appreciate my classes more, but they’ve also forced me to drill down on my time management and define what is really important to me.

You can go to school and work on your career while doing so. It’s been difficult, but it’s been a good time for growth and self-improvement. I love school now that it is not the sun that I orbit. I’ve realized that I cannot exist with one priority, but that I thrive off of a diverse set of projects. It’s an unorthodox strategy, but I am learning that those tend to be the most successful.

Eloragh

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Take Every Achievement

I haven’t been sick since early February. I am not surprised that I caught a cold the weekend before my last week of term. Whether it’s karma for pushing myself so hard in March, or my own fault for refusing to wait to ask my sick professor a question, it’s here.

Yesterday, I ordered takeout. I like UberEats, but I’ve found that there are only a few restaurants that I really enjoy. The one I ordered from yesterday was just ok, but definitely not worth the $30 it cost me. I refused to order again today and forced myself to the grocery store.

Just the effort of balancing my body on the metro exhausted me. The grocery store I go to is small and always busy, so I felt a little claustrophobic and guilty for going to such a public place while sick. I did my best to keep my mouth covered and not cough. I got out as fast as possible.

There have been days during this term that have been downright miserable, but there have also been days where I felt like I could take on the world. I have pushed myself far, but it’s been worth it. I’m stronger mentally and physically and my performance in classes has gone up. I knew that my hard work would pay off, but stressing my mind and body always comes with consequences.

I take the big achievements with the small ones. My acceptance to UNC as an exchange student was a big achievement. Going to the grocery story today was a small one. Both made me happy and added something to my life, like not having to order expensive, crappy take out again.

We should take what we can get. There will always be opportunities for bigger and better things on the horizon. If you body or mind is telling you to slow down for a moment, acknowledge it. You don’t have to rest forever, but you do have to rest eventually.

Eloragh

Have a Good Week

Good days are like March sun in Montreal. They are admired, coveted, something to bask in while they last. Both daylight savings and the events of the past seven days have reignited my desire to work hard. It’s a good feeling, especially when you’ve been working hard with no motivation for so long.

Daylight savings marks a big shift for me. Montreal winters are cold and dark, with the sun setting around 4:00 (sometimes 3:45) in the peak of the season. When I went to Charleston for Spring Break in early March, I knew I would return to a different city.

Wearing sneakers outside and ditching the leggings I had to wear under my jeans to keep warm have made my mornings easier. I started waking up early to go to morning classes at my local gym. I’m enjoying the renewed sense of passion and determination.

School has taken a turn for the best. The first half of this semester was difficult. The only good thing about a bad grade is the fire it lights under you. I studied for three weeks for one midterm. I got an 83.

I don’t like to say that I am affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, because I’m really not. I’m just as productive during the winter as I am during the other months. I think the difference is that I find it hard to push through rough times in the winter, and I’m sure some of you can relate. You don’t have to label yourself with a scary mental health issue to acknowledge that sometimes cold, uninviting weather can make things seem a little worse.

That being said, whether or not the winter months bring you down, enjoy the new Spring. Jump on new opportunities, take your passions seriously, and use those extra hours of sunlight to do something amazing. Daylight savings has been the best reminder that we really do have more time than we think.

Have a good week.

Eloragh

Becoming a Listener

The other night, I was having a conversation with my boyfriend about a topic that we disagreed on. After a little while, he stopped me and said “can I finish a sentence?”

That was when I realized something that had been in the back of my mind for a while: I had lost a lot of my listening skills. Training in a socratic program is a great way to learn how to truly listen and absorb the information that others offer you, but after less than a year away from one, I had lost four years of practice.

The idea of listening rather than waiting to speak is one that has been thrown around quite a bit in recent years. I am definitely guilty of just waiting my turn, nodding my head, and keeping my mouth shut until it’s my turn to speak. Lately, I’ve been trying to be more aware of what exactly my conversational partner is trying to express and how I can acknowledge that in what I say next.

I had a call yesterday where I worked to remind myself of this as much as possible. I wanted to focus on the message they were sharing and offer something in return that clearly and concisely conveyed information that I thought was relevant. It was no longer about trying to shout from the rooftops everything I have accomplished and am capable of, it was about really truly understanding what they were trying to tell me.

I left that call with a better sense of their mission than I could have imagined. I felt relieved that my listening skills were not completely gone. There is still a lot of hope in my mind that I will become as good of a listener as I was when practicing socratic. It will just take a more conscious effort to be mindful.

The idea of being a listener rather than a conversationist is important in every aspect of communication. More often than not, people do not want solutions or advice thrown at them. They want to be heard and to feel as though someone empathizes or understands their situation. They want their frustration or hard work or achievements to be acknowledged.

Challenge yourself to be the listener to those around you. I am sure that you will find that you are one of a few people that want to hear and not to speak. Be willing to stay silent and patient and supportive of the person you listen to. Offer them relevant information when it is appropriate, but try to not make the conversation “about you” if it doesn’t add to the narrative they are expressing.

You will be surprised at how your relationships grow and change.

Best,

Eloragh

Show Up and Produce

There’s some quote that circulates on Facebook every once and a while and it goes something like this: “Showing up is 98% of the job.” When I was younger, I thought this quote was ridiculous. In my mind, showing up was the least difficult part of anything. However, my senior year definitely showed me that sometimes getting out of bed and convincing yourself to work can be the most difficult part of your day.

That’s why my first goal of every day is to show up in my own life. Show up to my closet, show up to my bathroom, show up to my kitchen, show up to my desk, to my hike, to my responsibilities. It’s my way of promising myself that I am going to work on whatever I need to accomplish. If I promise myself that showing up is 98% of the work, then I know that I’ve gotten past the hard stuff and I only need to complete the last 2% of my work. That 2% varies in length and quantity every day, but it is one of the only tricks that works for me.

Despite the mind games, this is a good idea to remember. Many many people will not apply, not reach out, and not show up because they doubt themselves or their abilities. By showing up and having a moderate amount of confidence in what you can do, people will be willing to listen to you. Employers and important people want to work with those who will show up and produce. Everyone can promise to be there and do something, but it’s up to you to act on that promise and prove that you’re not all talk.

Eloragh

Looking for Perspective

I pushed myself really hard this week both physically and mentally. On my hike today, I was the strongest and weakest I had been since coming home. My legs are strong, my lungs are building back up, and my stamina has never been better. However, I’m sore, it was cold, and I felt the early signs of burnout. I’ve had a similar feeling in regards to my work – more capable than before but in need of rest.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an awesome supervisor I have. I worked really hard today to try and understand a newsletter platform and build an effective template for their brand. I was struggling with a few of the comments he had made and glossed over some really simple changes that could have saved a lot of time. I felt as though I had wasted his time, so I sent him an email and thanked him for his patience.

It’s not that hard to be non-threatening and non-defensive but still advocate for yourself. He was appreciative of my willingness to continue to tweak little things and reminded me that it was the weekend and I should probably relax. I’ve always found that hours, days, weeks, and months blur while working from home. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend, because my “office” never closes.

However, rest is necessary. As much as I want to become stronger and get through my hikes faster, as much as I want to become more capable in my work, burnout is real and it can wreak havoc on your productivity. A day off is worth avoiding a week of procrastination. Your future self will thank you. Setting start and end times, taking breaks, and recognizing when you’re running out of steam are necessary practices for a healthy work life.

Eloragh