Life Lessons | The Pursuit of Happiness

A few weeks ago, I started a list of things I’ve learned through having been there, done that (I think it was brought on by the horror of turning 21 and realizing how much older I am than when I first thought I was old – 14 year old me had no clue what she was talking about!). The list got out of hand, and weirdly gave me peace because it solidified how much I’ve changed and grown over the years, even though it feels like I’ve been in the same place.

Life Lessons by Hannah Law, age 21

  • Sometimes instead of worrying about what the future holds, do what needs to be done, now, as well as you can, and the future may fall into place.
  • Be prolific, you will eventually produce something good if you do it long enough. If you don’t, you’ll definitely get better at it.
  • Watching from the sidelines is NO FUN if you refuse to play because you’re scared of being bad or losing.
  • When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  • Assessing every bad situation, from annoying to disastrous, in an objective logical manner can do wonders for growth.
  • Sometimes, there is no good v.s bad decision – there are just two decisions with two different outcomes. If you like one outcome more than it’s a good decision.
  • And sometimes you’re just left with two bad decisions and neither outcome is better.
  • Procrastination leads to pain – unless you thrive in the last minute (like me). In that case just make sure you leave enough time in the last minute.
  • The best way to make your day better is to make someone else’s day better.
  • It’s okay to like yourself, now, where you are, even if there are things you want to change about yourself.
  • If you hate doing something, make it at least a little more enjoyable. Play loud music while cleaning the bathroom – study in a coffeeshop – make yourself a coffee to take to school – have a bath after work. No need to make something harder for yourself than it already is, especially if you need motivation to do it a lot.
  • After highschool, you are in charge of what you share with the world. You’re not in a fish bowl anymore. If you don’t want people to know about your grades, love life, or anything else, you don’t have to tell them.
  • The definition of success is completely up to you and it may change based on all things- getting out of bed may be a success today. Getting all A’s may also be a success.
  • People have been through what you’ve been through. Nobody feels good all the time – Instagram is lying to you.
  • Being kind in the face of injustice or pain is so good for the soul.
  • You can’t hate yourself into someone that you love.
  • You’re allowed to eat; you’re allowed to reject food morality & “guilt”; you’re allowed to eat.
  • Aristotelian virtue ethics are the answer to everything – from personal dilemmas to career paths to relationships. Ask yourself “what kind of person do I want to be in this particular situation?”
  • No knowledge exists in a bubble – everything is connected.
  • Self care is absolutely freaking important and can include any and all things that make you feel good (chocolate), feel recharged (baths), or just make your life better (like doing laundry).
  • Creating beautiful spaces makes me feel incredible.
  • Understand how you work; are you introverted or extroverted? Seek out situations that recharge you, either social ones or alone ones.  If you are introverted, realize your strengths and let go of trying to conform to the “extrovert ideal”. (As an aside, read Quiet by Susan Cain – it will literally change your life)
  • Follow whole heartedly your interests. Listen to them. If you’re crazy about writing, reading, and philosophy, then maybe a BSc isn’t for you (ahem, me).
  • Don’t settle, especially in relationships. It’s okay to take the focus off men and onto yourself if you feel burnt out at the dating game. It’s okay to put the focus on yourself, period.
  • Call your mom!!!
  • If you will regret not going to get ice cream at 2am, not rocking that cute bikini at the beach, not seeing your friends, not going to class, not dying your hair, not switching your major, not going on that roadtrip, not making those memories – then do them.
  • Life is too short to spend unhappy.
  • Don’t be afraid to work hard and go all out.
  • “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul in fire”. Jennifer Lee
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Thankful Thursdays | May 18th

Copy of Instagram Post – Untitled Design

Today I am thankful for:

  1. The sunshine and the beautiful weather! It’s supposed to be so hot today, which is such a change from the gloomy rain that’s been the norm for the past few weeks.
  2. The people in my life who contribute to “the opposite of loneliness” – friends, family, my boyfriend.
  3. A renewed sense of hope and excitement towards my academic career. This year I switched from Biology/Psychology to just Psychology and then again to English. I’m excited to pursue English because I know it’s where my strengths lie and where I’ll get excited for whatever comes after my undergraduate, instead of getting burnt out like I was in other programs.
  4. Having a full time job waiting for me on June 3rd!
  5. The fact that my sore throat and mini sickness is temporary and that I’ll be back to feeling 100% soon.

This post was inspired by Addie van Rijn’s Thankful Thursdays series on Instagram!

Ex Libris | Note to Self

This article is going to be the first in the “Ex Libris series” of book reviews.

“Note to Self” is Connor Franta’s second venture into book writing. Connor, a content creator out of Los Angeles, is best known for his successful Youtube channel, but also has extended his entrepreneurial spirit to projects such as a lifestyle brand called Common Culture, a music label, and severa; compilation albums. Connor’s first book, “A Work in Progress”, an autobiography of his life, remained a New York Times bestseller for 16 consecutive weeks.

 

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Note to Self  has a completely different feel than the polished, optimistic “Work in Progress”. Instead of chapters, the book contains a reflective and intimate collection of poems and essays. Each addition conveys a musing about life, as Connor records his struggles with depression, his devastating breakup, and his slow and gradual healing process. He writes to his younger self, his future self, and he reflects on growth and humanity and happiness. Throughout, personal photography acts as interludes to accompany the heaver poems and essays.

Even with all these potentially grandiose topics, Connor’s voice is honest and compelling. There are no pretentious sweeping statements about life, nor does he shy away from his failings and humanity. This isn’t a carefully edited and poised self presented between these pages, but an emotional and vulnerable one. We’ve all been there.

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I especially loved “Frames”, a poem which is an exploration of the emptiness of a falling out. “photographs fly down/where we used to lie down” – intimacy turned to emptiness.

Apropos as well was the poem “somebody else”: “I want the old me back”. This semester I found myself struggling with depression and anxiety, due to a number of factors. I missed being full of energy, missed being able to put in 100% effort, missed succeeding and being proud of my work. I wasn’t myself this semester.

“I saw a boy in Larchmont” reminded me of the familiar panic of seeing an ex in public. It also reminded me of how I’d been convinced in the past that I was over something only to unexpectedly realize I wasn’t.

Other poems, though, felt awkward, as if the words wouldn’t come. Some felt so full of emotion, almost choked by it, so that not else remained – and that translated onto the page; a set of words conveying jumbled despair but not much else. Others felt juvenile, like a 10th grader’s first attempts to voice their experiences through poetry – focusing too much on the weight of the words themselves, not the images they portray.

Similarly, in some of the essays, interjections and notes to the reader took away from the point of the essay. It felt immature instead of personal.

Those are the weaknesses, but the strengths of this book far outweigh them. Each piece, written during or immediately after the precipitating feeling, holds humanity and emotion as securely as if it were cold pressed. Remember the kids in highschool who flaunted the fact they have it all together? Constantly were sharing and bragging on social media? Note to Self is the opposite of that – it is humble and authentic. It’s the writings of someone who gets it.

Connor’s voice needs to develop, in my opinion,  but he writes on beautiful, painful, and relatable topics which show his great personal growth and relate to all of us in our human experience.

I loved this collection so much that I started a “Note to Self” project of my own.  I can’t take photos to save my life (hi galaxy S5 camera!) but I already have a few pages of material. That’s why I loved this book so much  – it was so inspiring and so beautiful that it made me want to curate my own notes to self.

-Hannah

Beginnings

I started this blog on a complete whim.

Last week, while on a break for studying for exams, I got into a discussion on Facebook about makeup – my friend told me I didn’t need it.

This begged the question: do you fall into a binary of “needs makeup to be conventially beautiful” or the superior “doesn’t”? Or perhaps as your grow into your twenties you “graduate” and don’t need makeup anymore. Or the “need” of makeup to begin with is a personality flaw,  signalling some deeper insecurities?

These points made me reflect on my own journey with makeup.

If you don’t know me, I am the definition of a makeup junkie. I love trying new makeup and using skincare and I have an extensive collection of each. But it’s definitely taken a while to get here!

The first makeup I ever tried was mascara. I was somewhere around grade 8 or 9. I remember looking in the mirror, then going skating afterwards. I still remember how incredible and confident I felt, like the simple act of adding black to my lashes had given me wings to glide over the ice.

Later that year, I got my makeup done so I could learn how to use it. Walking out of the appointment, I felt unstoppable. The picture I took that day was my Facebook profile until grade 12.

When I stopped being homeschooled and went to highschool, my perception of makeup changed. I was surrounded by girls whom I felt were all much more beautiful than me. I felt had to wear makeup. Without it, I felt incredibly insecure; with it I would still check the bathroom mirror incessantly and wish I had a prettier face. There were no more wings or photo shoots.

I didn’t find joy in makeup until I was well into my gap year. I got way too deep into youtube makeup communities and grew to love buying new products to test out. I ended up reclaiming makeup and with it came love for myself.

Each new discovery I made – how to wear blush, how to do your eyeshadow, eyeliner, bronzer, brows- gave me a sense of empowerment and self esteem. I loved being able to change areas of my face that I hated. I’d had acne for years – it was gone. Under eye circles from studying? Nope. Blotchy, discoloured lips? Gone. My brows stood out, my eyelashes were inhumanly long black and fluttery, my skin flawless. Being able to not feel insecure about myself was incredible. I didn’t cringe inside when people looked my way in public.

I remember the first time I ever went to Sephora. A beautiful tall sales associate with a swelling baby bump helped recommend products. To me, she was a goddess. My first ever purchase was the Naked 3 palette. I still use it to this day.

Truly discovering makeup for the first time was life changing.

In first year university, the excitement had worn off. I was (and still am!) in a school setting again where there was no time to fully express myself every morning. I tend to focus more on covering my breakouts and acne scars now instead of creating, instead of shaping my face into one that gives me invincibility. I miss it. I’m excited for school to end so I can go back to playing with eyeshadow instead of slapping foundation on half asleep.

My journey with makeup made me realize that makeup brings me true joy when I’m expressing myself with it. I love transforming myself into someone a little different. I love feeling different ways every day  – sometimes more loud and confident when I wear lots of eyeliner, sometimes more girly and soft when I wear neutral eyes and lots of blush. I am so excited for other people to experience the same thing that I tend to get carried away. I know I’ve scared my sister away. 🙂

But what makes me unhappy is feeling like I “need” to wear makeup. School is very good at bringing that need out in me. I’ve forced myself this year to wear no makeup to school. I ended up liking it just as much as I like wearing a full face sometimes. I didn’t feel as confident, but I didn’t feel disgusting either. It was kind of liberating. No makeup set me free from being distracted, from touch ups, and gave me 20 extra minutes of sleep in the morning. It was more than worth it!

Sometimes, makeup brings out my best self, and sometimes my bare face does. I’ve realized it’s never really been about makeup for me, but more about being free to choose to be my best self. The ability to choose to wear makeup to hide my acne gave me confidence in grade 9. The ability to choose to wear no makeup to school if in second year university set me free. In between, I relish the ability to create myself every time I use makeup.

Will I write this much when I’m not procrastinating for exams? Stay tuned to find out!

~HSL