lonely vs. alone

alone animal bird clouds
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Loneliness:

  1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome. 
  2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.:
  1. lone; solitary; without company; companionless.

Alone:

  1. separate, apart, or isolated from others

I think that far too often people confuse loneliness with being alone. However, the two are drastically different. Here is where they vary from each other in a simple, but essential aspect: to be alone is good, but to be lonely is not. An overgeneralization? Maybe. A simple, useful contrast? Definitely.

I believe that to enjoy spending time with others and to love others, one must love themselves first. Not only is spending time alone important, but also enjoying that time with only yourself.

Loneliness is often a fantasy more than a reality. The idea of being completely isolated is, generally speaking, one that is not supported by actual evidence. You are not alone. Reaching out for help and support from friends or family is natural and healthy, and can help you to abolish the feeling of loneliness. It is important that complacence does not take the place of motivation to change the imperfect situation in which you find yourself; do not settle for loneliness when you have not done your part to reach out to others. Those around you do want to help you and show their love for you, they sometimes just do not know how. Loneliness is something that is often both self inflicted, and accentuated by others, not entirely up to those around you. Becoming content with being alone, as well as reaching out to others for friendship and love, are two simple ways which can help to either remove loneliness, or at least replace it with simply being alone.

Being alone allows us time to think and reflect, exploring and understanding ourselves better. Contentment with life will stem from legitimately knowing and appreciating oneself.

Nowadays I feel as though people consider time on social media ‘alone time’ which is sad to me. The fact that we feel the need to fill our time apart from others watching and checking up on their lives seems twisted. I understand that social media is fun and enjoyable, and can be used for good things, but it has created a sense of longing for constant interaction with others.

I remember times in life when I have been too afraid of my own thoughts to spend time alone and without another distraction. I would always blast music or watch a TV show, sit in rooms full of strangers, spend time on social media, or immerse myself in a book to get away from my own thoughts. Hiding from my own self was probably one of the most unhealthy things that I could have done for my mental health. Eventually, I turned around and discovered ways to cope with being alone and facing exactly what was going on in my head. I trained myself to sit and watch sunsets and just ponder life and myself as a person. I was not lonely; I knew I had support and love from people around me. However, I was truly alone, and genuinely okay with it. I allowed myself to rejoice in my successes and find disappointment in my failures. I reflected on what I could do to better my relationships with friends and family, I thought about what I could do to do better in school, I pondered what it was that I wanted to do with my life and what I needed to do to get there. I remember feeling very at peace with myself. I felt as though my purpose and direction were clear to me, and I knew I would enjoy my company along the way: myself. Although the idea of being your own best friend is cheesy, it brings a brand new spark to life, that is simply not attainable through any other friendship.

This summer, I lived in a house with a lot of busy people. I had my own room and although I spent time with friends and roommates, I often found myself alone. So, I decided to love that alone time. A conscious decision was made and things began to change. Walking around the lake, writing for my blog, painting pictures, finding new music, editing my movie, reading books, and running were just a few of the things that I began do on my own. I loved the time that I spent finding and enjoying hobbies; I increased my skill in certain areas, and just provided myself with an overall better quality of life.

I am thankful to have been able to learn to enjoy spending time alone before life became busier and more fast paced. The importance of taking time to just do me is a lesson that I will forever be grateful for. Among busy schedules, lots of schoolwork, and a lively social life, I always am able to remember and respect the importance of being alone. My health, both mental and physical is much better due to this time for self care, and I feel as though I am able to be a better friend and student because I also take time alone.

 

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writing about writing

In my opinion, writing is an art form: creative and free flowing, allowing voice and melody and personality to shine through the words on the page. The freedom to express yourself in whatever way that you please is alluring and captivating. I feel as though writing provides a plethora of opportunities and experiences to be had, and aids in expanding my knowledge and understanding.

Many of my writing mentors and teachers have commented on my ability to integrate a very specific voice into my writing, making it personal and unique. As I wrote, keeping the idea of voice in the back of my head, I discovered that having a strong and specific voice is one thing that comes simply from writing, itself. Working towards voice, or focusing on it specifically while writing actually hinders your ability in the long run. When it becomes a chore, or a specific, monotonous goal, (similar to better comma usage), a choppy, unnatural sound will push through and take over your writing. Voice has to be natural, improving and becoming stronger with each and every piece of writing that you take on. The more you write, the more unique and melodic your specific writing will become.

One of the biggest issues that I have encountered whilst writing is writing the first word, phrase, or sentence… where do I start? Often finding that initial push and motivation to just start is the most difficult aspect of writing. One method that has proven to be quite successful for me over the years has been simply starting. Generally speaking, I have no desire to put words on the page that are unimportant or not grammatically sound; however, when  attempting to begin writing, I find that it is just important to start. Allow messiness and lack of direction because organization and direction can come later. Once you begin, the words seem to just flow out, not allowing anything to be in their way. First phrases or sentences can be returned to and fixed, so just begin.

I have never been the most eloquent speaker, always tripping over my words or being unable to find the correct words to express exactly what I desire. However, when I write, I have power over every aspect of my thought-into-word process: formulating the ideas, attempting different words and phrases to get them across sufficiently, and displaying my ideas as well thought out, intelligent forms of opinion or fact. In the writing world, I can rewrite my sentences and paragraphs as many times as I desire, only showing them to the world once I believe that they are everything that I want them to be. I feel in control, and powerful as I write, as I am able to be the master and director of every word that I put on a page.

I have been taught, over and over, that words are my tools, and I can do with them as I please. There are over 218,000 words in this English language: over 218,000 tools for me to utilize to speak my mind. The challenge of writing truly intrigues me. Each form of sentence variation and each poetic clause hold so much potential. The meaning, the form, and even the artistic aspect, all join together to create endless opportunities.

I strongly believe that for someone to be good at writing, at least some aspect of it needs to be enjoyable. For writing to become a monotonous chore, or just another assignment to hand in removes the intriguing and inspiring aspects of it. To write well, write because you want to, and write completely for yourself. Often I will allow drafts of blog posts to sit unedited, unread, and unpublished for weeks on end. They are enjoyable and exciting to return to and work on, and I allow them to be my little personal projects before they are available to the world. Having the ability to successfully write to specific audiences is highly essential to academic writing; however, when writing is a hobby, keeping your readers out of the process can actually be quite enjoyable. Write entirely for yourself, and not to impress or please others. Allow your opinions to be portrayed loud and proud, as if you were writing for your eyes only. Let your writing be solely yours before it becomes anyone else’s.

Something that I have been taught by one of my writing mentors is that experimentation is essential to improving writing. Sticking to the processes, methods, and forms of writing that you know best is comfortable, but almost never challenging. To expand your skill and genuinely find what your favourite kind of writing is, trial and error is definitely the key. Another extremely important strengthening tool is editing, feedback, and constructive criticism; if possible, having a more experienced, exceptional writer read your work and point out things that you can change and improve can help immensely. By pin pointing weaknesses that can be focused on and corrected, your editor/critic will be able to aid you in smoothing out the rough edges of your writing, allowing you a higher level of competence and, therefore, confidence.

Although I’m no expert, open-mindedness seems to also be an essential quality for successful writers to uphold. However, having a strong sense of personal beliefs and values holds just as much priority and relevance. Opinionated pieces of writing often hold the reader’s attention, allowing them a peek into the writers mind and drawing them in with the uniqueness of the stance and opinion. However, the writers must also be willing to hear out and respect other’s opinions as well. So much can be learned by listening to other’s ideas and beliefs; having the maturity and respect to appreciate and be considerate of them, whilst still upholding your own opinion, will only be beneficial to you in the long run. In conversation, I generally much prefer speaking to people who have had vastly different experiences than I have, and who stand by very different opinions than I do. It is both fascinating, and helps me to improve my writing by increasing my knowledge of the world.

 

I love writing, and here’s a little bit about why, and a few tips that I have seen help me to improve.

Thanks for reading,

Emma

person typing on typewriter
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academic goals: first year

As I’m sure I have talked about thousands of times since I started this blog, I am starting university this week (hence the unexplained, extended absence). I have thought long and hard about what I want to do, and put countless hours into preparing and setting myself up for the best first year. I want to succeed, and so I will succeed. I have the power to choose how well this year goes for me, and have decided to set a few academic goals for myself for the next eight months to help me achieve the successes that I desire. Goals are essential to success, but have to be set the right way. Attainability is essential when creating goals for oneself; for example, I would love to be able to become chief editor of my school newspaper this year, however, I know that that is not attainable. Instead, I could aim to volunteer for the newspaper once and week, and try to get published a few times as well. Setting goals high enough that they challenge us, but low enough that we can achieve them is difficult and can be a very fine line to find, but is definitely essential to becoming successful. I have attempted to make each of my goals attainable yet challenging, and am excited to look back come April and see how I did.

Start on assignments or papers as early as possible to allow extensive time for editing, extra research, collaboration with other students, inquiries with teachers, brainstorming time, etc.

For lectures, do the reading prior to class, taking notes and highlighting along the way, record more notes in class, tape the lecture and fill in any missed notes listening to it at home that night.

Study long and hard, but do not over work myself. Work on assignments, studying and papers to my best possible ability and then trust in my hard work. 

Dedicate as much time in a day to schoolwork as I possibly can.

Put schoolwork before social life or recreation; prioritize education.

Collaborate with classmates as much as possible. Ask for feedback from them on my work, and ask to do the same with theirs. Try to discuss ideas, worries, questions, etc. Be friendly and helpful to facilitate good relationships. 

Take advantage of professors office hours and their availability and willingness to help me.

Do not let a not so great mark bring me down or discourage me from trying harder on the next assignment. Forgive, forget, and do better the next time around.

Use study and assignment processes that I am comfortable with and that I know will work well for me; make use of my strengths.

Aim for A’s, don’t be super disappointed by B’s.

Try my best to find interest in what I learn. Utilize passion, curiosity, and enthusiasm to aid in my studies.

18 in 18

18 Things Learned in 18 Years

  1. confidence is key
  2. family is the biggest support system, comfort, and source of love
  3. to have perfect friends, you have to accept your friend’s imperfections
  4. work hard, you can do it
  5. if you ever need to escape, read
  6. love wholeheartedly or don’t love at all
  7. eat lots of veggies
  8. people who have jobs get jobs
  9. having strong opinions is great, but let other people have theirs too
  10. when good things end, it is probably for the best
  11. forgive and move on
  12. love yourself first
  13. celebrate successes, no matter how small
  14. drink lots of water
  15. wear whatever the hell you want
  16. treasure each moment in life, find positivity in all things
  17. go outside
  18. speak your mind, communicate often and openly

storytime: bertha peak

Ashtyn and I decided, many weeks ago, to climb up to Bertha Peak here in Waterton Lakes National Park. We set a date on one of our shared Mondays off and were both excited and prepared to conquer the mountain and be treated to the phenomenal view. On the morning of what we thought would be the day of our hike, we ran into our first bump in the road: we were both fairly sick and not in the best condition to climb to the top of a mountain. Apparently this adventure was not meant to take place on this day… despite our best efforts and the high level of excitement and anticipation. We finished our next work week, planning and preparing to retry our attempt at Bertha Peak the next Monday. Right off the bat, our planning ran into yet another bump in the road: Ashtyn had a house viewing in the city in which she goes to school, which is an hour and a half away from Waterton. We figured starting late, late morning or even early afternoon would be no issue for either of us; we can hike decently fast and Bertha is not a stupidly long peak to do. Long story short, we figured that we would be fine despite our reduced time frame that we were providing ourselves. Monday morning came around, and two eager hikers were so looking forward to their afternoon in the mountains. That is until a last minute dentist appointment became quite the necessary undertaking for me, and the only available time that was offered me was 2:30pm. Late morning or early afternoon turned into mid afternoon, as we hoped to be able to start hiking by 4pm at the latest, leaving ourselves 5 and a bit hours before sundown, or in other words, what we assumed would still be plenty of time. I remember as I continued to update my parents (whom I was staying with) on my plans for the afternoon, the looks and comments of doubt and worry that occasionally would pop up during our conversations. Major red flag, but of course, I ignored it. We would be fiiiine. Miraculously, my dentist appointment ended up ending a bit earlier than I had anticipated, and I was thrilled to be able to text Ashtyn the good news. I told her that I was finished my appointment and that we could get on the road as soon as she was ready, expecting her to be on her way within the next few minutes. I was thrilled that we would be able to start a bit earlier than anticipated, leaving us more time to enjoy the view at the top, as well as more time to actually find our way up. However, just because the universe apparently had something against us climbing this mountain, Ashtyn had now stumbled upon an annoyingly untimely delay at home and wouldn’t be able to get on the road for at least another half hour. I calculated the time in my head, and realized that we would be set back even further than previously hoped. Although there was truly no one to blame, and neither Ashtyn or my setbacks were purposeful or planned on, I was frustrated. However, apparently I wasn’t frustrated enough. As soon as we got to Waterton, we tied up our boots and went into the outdoor store to grab a few things before leaving. Our coworkers, all aware of our plans to hike, all greeted us with “Oh! How was your hike?” “Did you guys have fun?” “How was the view?” and various other major red flags that screamed “IT IS MUCH TOO LATE FOR US TO BE CLIMBING THIS MOUNTAIN.” Did we listen or pay any attention? Of course we didn’t. We were determined and frustrated by all of the setbacks that we had experienced thus far, and were not willing to allow the lateness of the evening (yes, it was evening by this point) to hinder our plans.

By a shocking and worrying 5:20pm, there were two naive, delusional, and unprepared girls on the Bertha trail, carrying a flashlight grabbed last second, bear spray, some snacks, and a raincoat each. Phone batteries were dying, the temperature was dropping, and tourists coming down from the short trek to Bertha lookout and/or falls, were showing their disbelief and confusion as we strolled right on past them, attempting to start our hike just as they were finishing theirs. We were happy, and excited to finally be doing something that we had wanted to do for so long. The two of us had climbed one other peak prior to this fiasco, and had been told that this one was both more enjoyable, and had a better view. Ashtyn and I get along quite well and enjoy chatting, joking, and laughing as we hike along the trail. Seeing the looks on people’s faces was probably one of the most enjoyable parts of the upwards hike– they never failed to crack us up in a we’re really stupid, why are we doing this, we’ll be fine… but will we be fine? sort of a way. Hilarious, I know. The jokes about our stupidity continued between us, but, again, we were much too determined and fed up to turn back now. With the comfort of our very few hike-in-the-dark necessities stowed away in our backpacks, we kept a speedy pace along the trail, only checking out both the lookout view and Bertha Falls while our feet continued, one in front of the other. Sure the views were beautiful, but we had a mountain to climb.

We sped up to the lake with the help of a few gold fish and a few sips of water, making excellent time. At around 6:40pm, we arrived at the lake and allowed ourselves a break for pictures, a small snack, and a little break to catch our breath. Our good friends had been gracious enough to set up a few cairns and markers for us, to guide us onto the best path on the next stretch of our journey. After following the path around the lake for a short while, we came upon the first cairn and began our first upwards push. Between a somewhat distinguishable path, and the markers that had been placed prior to our climb, we were able to find our way up the first cliffy part of the peak in a fast and easy manner. Once we had arrived at the top of the cliffs, we found ourselves standing atop a ridge, half forested, and half grass and rock. We called up our fanatic hiker friends and asked them for some help. Thankfully, despite my far from eloquent phrasing of the question, (“we’re at the top of the first thing… which way do we go now?) they were able to point us in the right direction. A path was found shortly after, as we weaved our way through some of the thinner treed areas. It wound through the pines and eventually pointed us down towards a grassy bowl. Although describing the path as down may sound appealing and encouraging… it is not. All of the downwards slopes on the way up the mountain, simply mean more upwards slopes on the way down the mountain. We were getting fairly tired, and had begun to watch as the sun slowly sank behind the mountain to the left of us; our time was short, but so was our breath. We sang to our music, and yelled at the bears, skipping and dancing as we found enjoyment in our somewhat dire, intriguingly interesting situation. As we passed through another small patch of trees, the rest of our journey to the peak came into full sight: a looming fairly steep slope, directing us straight to the highest point on the mountain. We were almost there! Delirious giggles, and shaky knees in tow, we headed up the last slope, determined to reach the top before sundown.

As we took the last few steps towards the peak, we were both thrilled to finally be at the top, and slightly disappointed. Just in case the headaches, coughs, chest pains, and breathing problems weren’t enough, the smoke had decided to strip us of the majesty of the view as well. Although the view was beautiful, and the feeling of looking down onto the zigzagging trails which we had conquered minutes before was an incredibly empowering feeling, the view was fairly foggy and slightly indistinguishable. The mountains stood strong and tall, and the vast lake stood out, a (slightly grey tinted) gorgeous blue. The devastating burn was fully visible, but fortunately, so was the regrowth. We enjoyed a few Dinosours, drank a bit of water, and felt quite proud of ourselves. Jackets were thrown on, a few pictures were snapped in which we look exhausted and hilariously delirious, and the view was appreciated for a few minutes. Then we got really cold. Then the sun set. Then we got nasty headaches. Then we realized what time it was. Then we decided we should probably head back to town to avoid providing bears a midnight snack or being late for work because we had to spend the night on the cliffs.

Thankfully, the last few rays of light lasted us until we got to the top of the cliffy, shaley part of the trail. Not so thankfully, we had to tackle the one true scrambling part of the trail in complete darkness… not as fun as it sounds. We pulled out our one flashlight and one phone for light and began picking our way down. Remember that obviously marked trail on the way up? Remember how easy it was to find? How many markers and cairns were on it? Nowhere to be found. We used the general guidelines of one side taking us off the cliff and the other taking us into a forest as we made our way down, switching our general direction to avoid either of the aforementioned hinderances. As we yelled for bears and slid down the shale, I began to fall. I then continued to fall quite frequently, eventually feeling as though this wasn’t a hike, but an odd form of summer time sledding instead. I recall at one point I stopped trying to count in my head, and Ashtyn stopped turning to ask if I was alright. Often I would just stay planted on my butt, keeping in mind that it was impossible to fall if I was already on the ground. Ashtyn kept up a quicker pace and only fell once, unfortunately resulting in a fairly beat up left side, bruises and cuts decorating her leg. We were fairly silent, but I do remember thinking something like: “maybe if I die up here, they will name this mountain after me.” Unsure foot placement, sliding down small cliffs, and tripping over tree roots eventually brought us to a fairly grassy patch (which I remembered quite clearly tripping on on the way up) and I finally regained a bit of hope; maybe this was as close to the lake as I thought it was! Although the lake had become completely blended in with the rest of our pitch black surroundings, I had a feeling that it was close. Just as I was about to begin doubting my faith, and rejecting the idea of being anywhere close to the lake, the angelic bearer of good news who stood a few meters down from me yelled out, “I found the path!”

What a feeling. We weren’t going to die! We weren’t going to get lost! We were probably even going to make it home before the next day! Elation and overwhelming excitement overtook both of us and we set ourselves a speedy pace as we began our descent. The bears were informed, in our loudest yelling voices possible, that we were safely back on the trail, and that we would be out of their way in the fastest and most efficient manner possible. The switchbacks were conquered quickly, and we were happily joined by a few bunnies along the way. Mutually beneficial relationships were formed as we were reassured that bears were probably few and far between, and the bunnies borrowed our light as they hopped down the trail. Shortly before the falls, we came upon another hopping friend, a moderately large frog who hung out with us for a bit and then allowed us to go our separate ways. Lower Bertha Falls was reached at around ten to eleven, and we were in a hilarious state of delirium and exhaustion; all that we wanted was to be at home safe in our beds. We yelled to the bears that they could stay in their beds, as long as they would allow us to reach ours: a win-win situation for sure. With one dead phone, one phone at 3% battery, one flashlight, no service, and a little bit of water left, we finally saw the lights of the cabins.

The last bend was finally rounded, and the sight of the trailhead sign, the townsite, and most importantly, the car, made us want to jump for joy. In fact, we probably would have literally jumped for joy if it hadn’t been for our stupidly shaky and tired legs… maybe next time. The time between arriving at the car and getting the keys out and the doors unlocked seemed to last eternities… we could not wait to sit down. The drive home consisted of assuring our loved ones that we weren’t dead, and cry laughing, once again, at our own stupidity. But hey, we did it! We climbed to Bertha Peak and back without getting eaten, or getting hypothermia, or getting lost in the dark! Our many collective falls were never off of a cliff, and our one little flashlight was enough for us to find our way back to the path.

Although scrambling in the dark was far from fun, I thoroughly enjoyed the hike as a whole, and would honestly do it again (as long as it was in daylight). I hope that you can, as we have, laugh at and cringe at our collection of bad decisions, and find joy in our absurdity and self inflicted hardship…

Emma

A clear night calls for a gorgeous reflection picture at the lake. 

Somewhat smoke covered view from the top! So worth it. Sweaty, tired, hypothermic, migraine inflicted Emma!

music

I believe that the feeling that vibrates through your entire body, and effects you right to the core when you listen to amazing music is irreplaceable. Your heart skips a beat, and your mind spins and slows simultaneously, a buzzing feeling spreads through each of your limbs, and a smile slowly spreads across your face. I remember, many a time, sitting in a car, or next to a speaker, and experiencing songs for the first time that have eventually become all time favourites. The excitement and relaxation work together rather than against one another, calming you while invoking desire for something greater. Your body wants to move, and your lips want to sing, soaking up the feeling and sound all at once envelopes your entire being as you attempt to experience the song in the most intimate way possible.

Music generally is different strokes for different folks: certain genres appeal to some while completely putting others off. However, within that personal taste, the feeling when a fascinating, genius tune is played for the first time cannot be replaced, and warrants quite the challenge when attempts are made to describe it. Personally, I enjoy heavy bass in music, with techno sounding melodic touches, or incredibly powerful voice, to create that more gentle, sing song feel to the song. Unique voice with power, or extreme high or low abilities, or raspy scratchiness to it, or interesting accents is something that will never fail to amaze me. Whether that be Sam Smith singing octaves higher than I ever could, or Lewis Capaldi singing octaves lower; whether that be Jessie Reyez with a rougher, harsher sounding voice, or Charlie XCX with her British quirky, cheeky sounding voice; whether that be Demi Lovato with the strong desperation in her voice, or Amine with his peppy lightheartedness; it sincerely amazes me to experience the variety and individuality of voice in the music industry.

I also thoroughly enjoy music completely void of lyrics. Louis the Child and BAYNK are just a few of my absolute favorite artists that simply use lyrics or words as an extra addition to their music, not allowing it to hold the spotlight, or be the star of the show. Blasting the interesting, unique songs as loud as possible and letting the music just take you (as cliche as that is) is an unbeatable sensation. Despite the complete lack of words, these songs can so often allow you to feel and think as much or as little as you need or desire. The way that the artists and producers take any typical, every day sound, or simply make one of their own and create a phenomenal piece of art absolutely blows me away. Whether being able to feel the beat within is literal or figurative, this music constantly amazes me as it hits me directly to the core.

Although I have only been to one concert so far in my life, the feeling of singing the lyrics, and dancing to the beat with the thousands of people that you are surrounded with is simply surreal. Knowing that so many people are all feeling that sensation of security and belonging, matched with an indescribable bliss, makes you feel so unique and important and individually special, but also completely unimportant and small and part of a much bigger experience.

I love the way that music can make you feel so many different feelings, and experience so many different emotions. Some songs make me feel as though whatever I put my mind to is 100% possible, and that I am 100% capable. Some songs make me feel as though I need to pay greater attention to those around me, and look for ways to help them more. Some songs simply make me wanna dance, letting my hair flip around, and letting the music dictate my actions. Some songs make me want to go outside and find waterfalls and pretty flowers, and get tanned. Some songs make me want to get a cup of tea and a book and curl up in bed. Some songs make me want to fall in love with my whole being. Some songs make me want to simply love myself. Some songs make me want to work harder and be better. Some songs make me want to cry, and feel, raw emotion controlling all else. Some songs bring back memories of summers, and love, and friendships, and rivers. Some songs bring back memories of heartbreaks and loneliness. Some songs are sunshine while others are rain, some songs are moonlight, while others are neon lights much past midnight.

The fact that artists have the opportunity to take what they feel, and what they think and create this fantastic, inspiration, thought provoking piece of art excites me. Having an outlet for thoughts and feelings is such a huge part of stable mental health, and peaceful state of mind. For artists to be able to use songwriting and music making as an outlet for themselves is so inspirational; turning our long awaited happiness, or our inevitable pain into art is something that we can all hopefully utilize.

Music has always been something that has brought me closer with my family. Each of us have differences in our taste in music, but due to the many similarities, we have always enjoyed sharing music with each other. My dad’s jazz and blues have sparked interest for me, my sister’s love for rap has inspired a similar love within me, my brothers fascination with EDM and electronica has deeply effected my music taste, and my mom’s appreciation for sappy love songs has deepened my appreciation for them as well. I love being able to share and enjoy music with my family, dancing and singing and feeling.

Music has always and will always hold a very special place within my heart. From piano lessons, to dancing while doing the dishes after dinner, to learning two steps and salsas and jives, to the concert, to car trips, to dance parties, both alone, and with friends, to lyrics that express things that I never could, I have an incredibly deep appreciation for music and the people that provide it for the world.

be real, unique is chić

“A wise man once said nothing at all.”

At first, when I heard this quote, I was shocked, but inspired. Inspired to be a more quiet person, a more closed up person, less of an open book.

However, the more I think about it, the more that newfound plan seems ridiculous and counterproductive.

For the majority of my life, I have been a fairly open book. Obviously I do not expose complete strangers to my life story or ever speak of things that should be kept private, but with a fair majority of my acquaintances, friends, and family, I have tried to allow myself to be raw and real with them. Whether that be feelings, thoughts, emotions, ideas, hardships, successes, or anything else in between, I have tried to allow those around me to see the real me. I would often look around and see others who were generally more quiet and somewhat hidden and suddenly feel as though I was an annoyance, or a drag to be around; people did not want to hear what I had to say, or know this or that about me.

But I think that that mindset was somewhat twisted. In my mind, and from my perspective, being an open book immediately creates a feeling of trust and mutual respect. It shows that you care enough about that person to share parts of your life with them, and that you trust them to respect and understand you.

(of course, there are aspects of our lives that are not appropriate to share, and those general, unspoken parameters should be respected)

One of the people that I consider one of my best friends was someone whom I did not know very well a few months ago. When we first started spending time with each other, both her and I began to share stories and experiences, ideas and thoughts, and were able to learn lots about one another in a fairly short amount of time. We continue, every time that we are together, to learn more about one another, deepening our friendship and reinforcing our trust bit by bit. I felt so appreciative of the way that she was open and real with me right from the start, and truly believe that it was because of this that we have become such good friends. I remember having a sense of comfortability when I was around her, because she had trusted me with things, and I had done the same with her. We had allowed ourselves and each other, right from the start, to be as real and as open as possible, and that was what had led to a strong friendship having been formed between us.

I absolutely love to learn about others. Whether that be how they take their coffee, or their thoughts on politics, or their favourite music, or how they see their relationship with their parents, each and every particle that makes up a person is so interesting to me. Each seemingly small, unimportant factor of their life is what makes them who they are. Often when others have opinions or experiences that do not coincide with mine, I am more drawn in and amazed; to think that so many others have lived in the same world as I have, at the same time that I have, but experienced it so differently than I have absolutely enchants my mind.

The unique will always fascinate much more than the similar.

I hope that eventually everyone can experience the comfortable, trusting feeling that accompanies allowing yourself to be open and raw with others. Often, when the person with whom you are sharing comes to understand how raw and vulnerable you are being with them, they will not only rise to the occasion and become a trustworthy source for you, but will also be willing to be open and raw with you in return. Open, honest communication can genuinely remove a vast majority of the problems that people so often face with one another. Unfortunately, this world is such that some people may use your vulnerability or raw nature against you, and to harm or embarrass you, but I believe that we can grow out of that. I believe that each of us should be ourselves unforgivably and share that with others in the most genuine and caring way.