Roommates

I’ve lived with strangers before. A few summer camps and school trips will get you used to having roommates. However, those situations were quite temporary. The longest I had a roommate was five weeks last summer. Now that I’m in a university, things are much different.

It can be weird living with new people, but I have found it to be a good experience thus far. I do have my own private room, but we all share a common space, two bathrooms, and a kitchen. We are already seeing that we will have to learn how to live with each other and how to communicate without seeming nosy or intrusive.

It will be an interesting year for me.

Eloragh

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Settled In

Relaxing in a different environment can be hard for some people. I’ve traveled and moved around so much in my life that a new living arrangement is a norm for me. With that being said, settling into my apartment at McGill has not been as easy as I thought it would be. Perhaps it’s because the situation is slightly less temporary, perhaps it’s because I won’t be leaving when my family does, or perhaps I feel uncomfortable here. I can’t rule out that possibility.

Despite my settling in being unsettling, I do like the space I’m in. It’s small, but not too small. Just small enough that I can live in it without feeling overwhelmed by the amount I have to clean. We snuck in cinder blocks to elevate my bed and I have a window where I can set all of my plants and electronics. My desk is larger than the one I have at home so I know I will enjoy doing my work on it (at least more than I did on my other one.)

What I’m trying to say is, everything seems to be ok. Life here will calm down. I’m not required to participate in anything. I’m missing Rez Fest tomorrow to spend the day with my family because they’re leaving on Tuesday. Everything is by my terms and it feels good. Even if it’s just a taste of freedom, I’m more than satisfied for the time being.

Eloragh

Academic Finance Lessons

As I’ve been focusing on transitioning from teenage life to adult life, I’ve come to see that school has failed to teach me many things. A good understanding of how to balance my finances happens to be in that pile. Here’s why I think schools are bad at teaching students what to do with their money: they’re run by the government.

When I was a Montessori kid, some of my first lessons were about trading. I would count dried beans and trade them with the other students. I learned quickly that larger beans were worth two or three little beans unless they weren’t heavy. We all had our ways of deciding how many beans we were willing to part with. When I left Montessori and entered public school, I was appalled at the lack of beans. It would be twelve years until I had another finance class.

My senior year, our life and health teacher made an attempt to teach us how to budget. She used outdated worksheets from an outreach attempt made by some obscure bank. Many of them were vague and confusing, leaving much of the class with a failing grade and still no understanding of how to manage our paychecks. It was beyond frustrating. We had to move on due to the governments need to make everything seem as though it is progressing at a standard rate, and thus we all left feeling nervous about our fiscal future.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of government. I’ve dealt with two different kinds and seen them both fail miserably to meet the needs of their citizens. The reality is, government schools are bad at teaching finance because the government is terrible with its finances. I can’t remember a year when I haven’t heard news about the “debt ceiling” or “trade deficit” that we always seem to be dealing with. Although the repetitive stories I’m referring to may all be an attempt at outrage media, I still remember feeling annoyed by the numerous administration’s continued inability to budget themselves.

I’m moving to a completely different country where the currency is lower in value than USD. I am nervous about investing, transferring money, traveling, paying my bills, getting a job, and being monitored by two different tax collecting agencies. School never taught me how to handle these worries, so now it’s up to me to figure it out. I would hope that after 12+ years in education I would know how to balance a checkbook, but I guess that’s just not on the government’s list of educational priorities. No wonder we’re all dazed and broke.

Eloragh

 

Long Lost Love

Performing was always a part of my life in some way. My dad bought me my first guitar when I was 8, sent me to my first theatre camp at 9, and put me in singing lessons at 10. I didn’t start dancing until 15, but I felt like that had rounded out my performing ability.

Over the last year, I slowly set my singing and acting aside to focus on dancing. I did find it sad, but I had a hard time finding it too tragic because ballet had become so important to me. I lost the calluses that I built up for my guitar and left the band I played in. I started dancing 6 days a week and only working on acting in the fall.

Recently, I’ve picked singing back up and found myself feeling a lot more fulfilled outside of ballet. I think school kept me busy, but unhappy. Singing keeps me busy and doesn’t completely drain me emotionally. Now that I have more time, I realized I forgot how good it felt to use my voice.

It’s a long lost love for me, one that was rekindled in my search for something to alleviate my boredom. I do miss it and would love to keep my voice going as I move onto new things.

Eloragh

One Star Review

Today, I finished the final stage of an application that I am very excited about. It was a video interview with a member of the program’s admission’s team. I feel fairly confident about it, considering that I had never done a video interview before. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to look into the camera and make eye contact while giving my answers or not, but I hope my inconsistency with that won’t knock me any points.

After the interview was over, I told my dad that I felt like it went well. I reached out to give him a high five and he refused. To give you some context, this program would be an alternative to college, and that idea doesn’t make my parents super happy. They think I’m pursuing it for inappropriate reasons and that I’m being influenced by people around me to think a certain way. I see the situation differently. I’ve been interested in this program’s entrepreneurial opportunities for a while and have a history of running a business (even though it flopped.) The point being, this “sudden” interest in the program isn’t so sudden and shouldn’t be so surprising. Either way, they’re not happy with me.

So, I took a hike. I drove over to my favorite trail, took my dog, and hiked for an hour. I’m not a fan of a ton of crunchy-granola things like camping or rock climbing, but I do like hiking. It’s free high-intensity interval training with all of the hills and valleys, and it hits your muscles just as hard as your lungs. It also gets me out of my mind and into another headspace. The fresh air, my dog jogging beside me, the sticks breaking under my feet, and the challenge of climbing those hills all remind me that I’ve got more important things to do than dwell on something negative.

I was listening to a podcast (#13) that I feel kind of strange hyperlinking because it is associated with the program I applied to (I mean, talk about ass kissing,) but I do find it genuinely interesting and fun to listen to. At one point in the show, one of the hosts said: “sometimes, when you’re doing something meaningful, you’re going to have to deal with getting those one-star reviews.” I’m sure that’s not the exact quote, but it’s something to that effect. That idea hit me really hard. My entire life had been based around making my family happy; getting in shape, becoming a successful dancer, doing well on my ACT’s and AP’s, getting accepted to McGill, becoming valedictorian, etc. had all been my past goals because I wanted my family to be proud of me.

At the end of the day, if the only person who is proud of you is you, that’s ok. Getting a one-star review, even from those who you care about most, is not the end of the world. Let it roll off, like water off of a duck’s back, and focus on making the next review five stars. Otherwise, you’ll just be angry and maybe let their fear and doubt seep into your mind.

My mother always said “Eloragh, you have to trust your gut. Your head and your heart will fight, but your gut will tell you what’s right.” It’s a cute little rhyme, but it holds a deep meaning for me. When something isn’t the right path for me, I feel it in my gut. I’ve learned to trust that feeling and to trust my own intuition. Honestly, you shouldn’t be trying to take anyone else’s advice if you can’t listen to yourself first. You have to filter through what is fear and pick out the useful pieces of wisdom that people offer you. That rhyme that she told me many years ago is one of those pieces.

So, I let it roll off. I went home, I ate dinner, the earth kept turning. I wrote a thank-you email to the woman who interviewed me and felt good knowing that I wasn’t letting my fear block my gut instinct. People may mean well but not realize they’re leaving that dreaded one-star review. Even if it does feel like I’m alone in my ideas, at least I know I have myself, and that’s better than no one.

Eloragh

Tagline

What’s your tagline? I’m writing a resume for an application right now and I’ve realized that I don’t have a tagline – oops. There’s one on my Facebook page, but I’m not super fond of it. The first thing it categorizes me as is a “student,” which is not inaccurate, but that’s not how I want to be labeled when people first meet me.

So, that begs the question. How do I want to be labeled? In a recent essay, I labeled myself as a trailblazer, but to put that on a resume seems a bit too arrogant. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe this application will require a certain level of uncomfortable confidence that I have yet to master. Do I want to label myself as a marketing specialist? Not really, that doesn’t say anything about my character, drive, or ability. It just tells people that I can write ad-copy and send outreach emails. Those qualities are important in what I want to do, but they’re not the first thing I want a potential employer to know about me.

Coming out of high school, I knew I was ahead. My desire to be ahead was so profound that I had to push myself further than graduation or I wouldn’t feel good about my accomplishments. If I just received a diploma, I would feel as though I were stuck where everyone was. Drifting through school and life, completing the minimum requirements needed to get to the next stage. I didn’t even want to go to the next stage that people expected me to step into, so I had to route myself differently and I had to show that I could thrive in my chosen environment.

I’ve heard the phrase “unexpected academic” come from people who were not expected to reach for higher education but ended up becoming some of the most successful intellectuals in their given field. I’d say I’m the opposite of them. I’m the “expected academic.” That is, everyone in my life has expected me to go to college, study something brainy and complex, and then go on to change the world through my degree. I don’t think my parents ever expected to hear me say “maybe I don’t want to go to college.” I didn’t really think I would ever say that either. But then, I looked around and saw my friends in debt, dropping out from a lack of joy or financial means, or getting a degree and then being unable to get a job.

Now, I’m an unwilling student. Searching for ways to prove to people that I don’t want to go to school, not because I’m being influenced by unreasonable sources, but because I can read the writing on the wall. Going to college wouldn’t ruin me financially, but it’s not going to make me happy. Four years of a shitty high school has left me unimpressed by education and not excited by the idea of continuing it.

This resume has been hard to write. Throughout my entire process of trying to rewire my brain towards a value-added mindset, I’ve come to see that a lot of what I learned in high school is not benefiting me or my endeavors. Instead, I feel like a child again. Asking questions that I used to have the answers to, feeling frustrated at my lack of knowledge, and wondering whether the route that fascinates me is one I can succeed in.

I’m still trying to find my tagline, but at least it won’t have the word “student” in it.

Eloragh

Balance

Throughout my life, I have always struggled to find the right balance between working and relaxing. I tend to lean on either side for too long and end up neglecting my responsibilities or my health. My life is not very stable at the moment, but I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. With a constant flow of work, phone calls, emails, and things to be done, I am always making an effort to reach that perfect equilibrium.

This time last week, I felt bored. I had completed a lot of the work I needed to do and had more time on my hands than usual. I remember feeling frustrated and lazy; there was, of course, research or communications I could be doing, but I didn’t think any of it would truly benefit my projects at the moment. I try to not work just for the sake of working, especially when what I produce ends up being useless or unnecessary to whoever I’m working with at the moment. During this period, I read a lot, explored Montreal, and continued my day-to-day blogging and outreach work.

Today, however, is a different day. My to-do list is probably the longest it has been since I moved to Montreal. A lot of the tasks are menial and simple to complete, but I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of them. People drop projects, need more information, want help in different places, etc. Work springs up quickly and often catches me by surprise.

Today, someone dropped a massive project and then someone else dropped that right into my lap. I have associated with this project already, so I understand why the responsibility fell to me to complete it, but I will admit that I am worried about my distance from the “client.” I’ll be back in New Mexico for the first three weeks of August to complete an internship, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to work with this organization remotely until then.

Finding the balance between distance, responsibilities, physical and mental health, and enjoying your life is a big challenge for everyone. I find that setting a beginning time, a lunch break, and an end time helps. Sometimes, working from home can feel like time travel. You sit down to send one email at 9 am, and suddenly it’s 6 pm and you haven’t eaten or moved all day. This, in some ways, is good, it means you enjoy your work. In other ways, you won’t be adding value to anything if you sustain this type of lifestyle for too long.

When I was a junior in high school, I would watch my grades religiously. I updated the app on my phone after every class and made a note of every assignment and grade shift. I remember crying myself to sleep one night after watching my history grade drop from a 92 to an 89. The next morning, I woke up in a daze and decided that I was due for a reality check. Metrics, data, scores, grades, views, followers, paychecks, and other forms of success through numbers are fantastic ways to measure how much your work is paying off, but they are easy to become addicted to.

Measure your success by those numbers if you so choose, but measure it by other means as well. Measure your success by your happiness, by your quality of life, by those around you, by how you feel in your mind and body. There are many other ways to appreciate your work. To thrive, you have to think about the balance between work and play. Having adequate amounts of both will benefit your success in every aspect of life.

Eloragh