GUEST POST: I WROTE NEW RULES FOR DEALING WITH MY CRITICAL INNER VOICE

Kieran Moolchan’s inner monologue and story behind how he is learning to defend against his own negative self-talk.

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GUEST WRITER INFO

Kieran Moolchan is a product manager, gamer and frisbee enthusiast, and mental health advocate in Winnipeg. He’s a charity fund organizer at A Critical Cause and is always willing to listen before even thinking about giving advice. He says ‘yes’ to less things than it seems like.

About 3 minutes ago there were about 700 words on this page about “being the best, like no one ever was.”

From that opening Pokémon joke, and went on and on about the our internal desires for greatness and how the process to achieve that greatness was blah blah blah

Shut up, Kieran.

I usually hate the first thing I write.

But that’s because it usually sucks.

…Or it’s because I’m conditioned to be extremely critical of any work that I do.

Many of us are conditioned to bring ourselves down. That conditioning comes from different sources and triggers, but it nags and criticizes some of us every waking second.

It’s that inner voice…can you hear it?

“That’s garbage.”

“Why would you do that?”

“You’re trash.”

I hear that voice all the time.

When I’m writing when I’m talking when I’m driving when I’m walking when I’m buying groceries when I’m making soup when I’m running when I’m boarding an airplane but don’t have my boarding pass on the right page of my passport so then it takes an extra five seconds to switch to my photo page the attendant looks up at me and raises her eyebrows for a second and there’s sixty people behind me and they just want to get home to Trinidad because it’s February in Canada and wouldn’t we all rather be in the Caribbean?

“You’re bad at airplane embarkation.”

I was thinking about trying to put together a plan to make it my priority to find some time to allocate some personal energy to sending a message to someone I respect about offering to, if they were into it, and only if they had a minute, do some work for them for free, only if they wanted it, because I’d love to help them out.

“They wouldn’t even want your shitty help why even offer?”

There was a moment that I was putting in a resume application to a place that I have always dreamed of working but then I didn’t do it for three months because if I failed then my inner voice would win and I’d be embarrassed at…myself?

Internally embarrassed?

Eternally held back.

Consistently brought down.

By myself.

By my own inner voice.

For some reason, I’ve always thought that my critical inner voice brought me a type of power. The kind of power that let me see my mistakes and look for a way to be better.

To be better next time.

Just be better.

But the negative aspect of that can be an inner voice that critiques with cruelty, instead of constructively.

Has my inner voice always been so destructive?

I think that when I was younger, I had a lot less ammunition to berate myself with when I tried to accomplish something. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and that was exciting, not terrifying.

As a kid, I was curious and confident, though prone to the occasional outburst of emotion that was quickly quelled by someone, usually my father, saying that it was disappointing that I hadn’t expressed my frustration first and then found a solution, instead of letting that frustration fester into anger.

My dad was pretty good at helping me feel what I needed to feel without losing control of those feelings.

I’m thankful for that.

And so, I could see what I wasn’t good at, analyze why I wasn’t good, and then improve.

But that was just something that I did, not something I felt I had a voice inside speaking out about.

I was me, and I just heard…ME, inside my head.

I think we don’t truly start to notice our inner voice until it starts to sound like someone, or something else.

In university, it was things like long mood swings, and missed classes because I couldn’t get out of bed. There wasn’t just a lack of energy. There was also something different, something other than the same inner monologue that I’d heard before, that perfectly reflected the way I felt or the way I thought I should be thinking.

It was a tired voice whispering: “why bother?”

I didn’t recognize this voice.

I’m not saying it was another person. It was just a version of me who I didn’t recognize.

But after a few weeks, that voice would perk up, and I’d sound like myself again.

Then, in 2011, my dad died.

Feel what you need to feel” was something that only lasted so long before I was stuck in the feeling. I was past grief and into depression. I quit school, basically. I stopped doing track and field…I’d been pretty good at it and I just dropped it. There were deeper reasons than just an inner, but it was shouting the whole time.

Why bother.”

I was acutely aware of that voice now, during that time, and it was telling me that this shitty feeling was going to last a lot longer.

I didn’t want it to.

So I went back to school, thinking I could ignore it, or function with it whispering within me.

But that was tough too.

Because, as I found out through therapy and a psychiatric diagnosis a few years later, everyone has an inner voice, but mine was supercharged with the symptoms of bipolar type 2. I’m open to talk a lot about that diagnosis, but all that means, when it comes to inner voices, is that I’ve had the experiences of all sorts of internal narratives.

Sometimes I feel so powerful and unstoppable that I have to recognize that what’s in my head is much too enthusiastic.

During the best of times, and more and more often now, through practice and self-awareness, my inner voice sounds like the one I recognize as mine: curious and confident.

But the hardest voice I have to deal with is one that is a saboteur.

The one saying: “Why bother.

Do you ever let your own inner voice get out of hand?

I definitely do.

And the times it gets out of hand means I’m no longer going through the process of trying to be better. Instead, I’m tearing down the thing I just did. I’m tearing down my own performance when I should be building on it. The thing is, there is almost ALWAYS something good about what came before. Even if what came before felt like a disaster.

The best we can do is build on what we did before.

Our inner voice, when it’s feeling like a particular kind of jerk, holds back our will to start and our will to build. It makes us feel so bad about the million ways that we could fail that we end up paralyzed and overwhelmed, unable to begin, accomplishing nothing.

And if we do nothing; if we have nothing to build on because we never started, then our inner voice has really sabotaged us.

The good news is that through all my experience I’ve come up with three steps that are simple to say and write down (but require practice) for when that inner voice is moving from helpful to harmful:

  1. Don’t pick up the phone
  2. Don’t let him in
  3. Don’t be his friend

Seriously, Dua Lipa ain’t wrong.

1. Don’t pick up the phone (Or, use your inner voice caller ID)

A lot of the time I can feel when my inner voice is going to drop some trash commentary on what I’m doing.

The monologue changes from “Let’s do this!” or “Let’s do this…a little better!” to something more nefarious, like “Are you sure you’re up to this?”, “Do you even KNOW what you’re about to do?”.

And then, before I can even answer with “Yes, I’m ready!”, it wants to answer for me.

You’re nothing. Don’t even try.

At that point, I’m not picking up that phone.

I’m going to dive in to the thing that I was about to get a negative comment about. If I just try it, just do it, and fail, that’s better than not trying it at all because my little voice was being a party pooper.

At least, after, I have a performance to improve on. And hopefully the rush of having done something a little out of my comfort zone.

I’m not giving that mean inner voice the chance to stop me from starting.

2. Don’t let him in (When that voice comes knockin’ don’t open that door)

Once I’ve done the thing, or I’m doing the thing, I have to keep up the momentum, no matter how many internal side-eyes I’m giving myself.

For example:

I am, embarrassingly, for some reason, stress sweating while I write this.

I’m alone in an office. There’s no one around. Yet, I’m stressing OUT.

What if you/they hate this article?

What if my Dua Lipa connection fails and I have to start this sucker all over again?

Oh yeah, that’s my inner voice.

I’m not letting him in.

I’m not letting that voice stop my momentum.

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Throwback to when I got the chance to speak at a Pecha Kucha night about my mental health journey last year. The way I feel today is a lot different than how I felt when I was fighting with the worst of my symptoms four years ago. ⠀ I'm where I am now because of the help of my family, friends, and mental health services in Winnipeg.⠀ ⠀ But those services could be better. When things were at their worst for me, it didn't seem like there was an accessible path to help. Resources exist, but they felt far away.⠀ ⠀ I still get messages from friends and friends of friends asking "Where do I go for help?" or "Who should I talk to?", and there should be more done to make it easier to know how to get help, and feel comfortable asking for it.⠀ ⠀ This Saturday, April 22, I'll be part of a 24 hour charity video game stream. We'll be raising money to support mental health initiatives in Winnipeg. There will be guests, stories, and a welcoming community of gamers ready to make things better.⠀ ⠀ Tune in on your computer or phone at:⠀ ⠀ CriticalCause.org⠀ ⠀ I love y'all.⠀ ⠀ Photo cred @ jeope (on Twitter)

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3. Don’t be his friend (create a new, more constructive inner voice)

We’re almost at the finish line. Maybe I’ll go back over this post and see what edits I can make. I’ll probably engage in a little constructive criticism and then seriously question if this blog isn’t just hot garbage but what if it is hot garbage and when I read this post over the next day I realize what a huge mistake I made and that not even light edits can save it and…

Damn, I woke up in his bed in the morning.

I’d just gone over for a little coffee and critique and the next thing I knew I was fully under him.

Come on Kieran, just charge ahead and hit publish.

Believe in yourself, the world won’t end if you missed a typo.

Most people are hopefully still on board with this extended song lyric metaphor, seriously!

But for real, if you shack up with your hurtful inner voice, using it to justify the inadequacies that you think you might have, you won’t be able to lean into improvement and constructive habits.

That inner voice needs to change, or, if you’re feeling extra dramatic, throw it out and make it a new, encouraging and positive voice!

It takes a lot of effort, and practice to do, but that voice doesn’t have to be so negative. It doesn’t have to bring you down.

I’m not saying we should never listen to our inner voices.

I’m not saying that a constructive, cautiously optimistic voice doesn’t sometimes keep us safe.

Our voices are a part of us. They’re an amazing, powerful part of us that can drive us to do great things.

But if you find that your inner voice is being cripplingly critical, like I did, for years, and sometimes, even now, I hope that you can start the breakup process with your jerk voice.

With practice, and mindfulness, your relationship with your inner voice can become supportive and safe.

And if you need an external supporting voice, let me know.

We can practice together.


WHAT COMES NEXT FOR KIERAN

Kieran is going to keep as active as possible with ultimate frisbee, biking, and working out because one of the best ways to keep the mind healthy is to keep the body in motion. It also holds back the neverending tide of McDonald’s he eats.

He’s serious about listening and giving advice, so feel free to send him an email at http://kieranmoolchan.com or tweet in his direction.

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ALL MY FAVOURITE SELF HELP/INSPIRATIONAL STUFF

Books, Instagram accounts, articles, podcasts, docs, TED Talks and more! Let’s get growing and glowing with self-love.

I believe we’re all on a journey of personal growth. Whether it’s mindful and positive, or not, that’s up to us. Some of the materials I’m suggesting here are specific to my life experiences and the types of things I’m working through, so keep that in mind. It’s about finding whatever works for you and serves as a beacon of light when you’re struggling.

If you’re ready to show up, get mindful, learn from your mistakes, laugh a little bit and make some changes — you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of both recent and older materials that I love for your consideration. I hope you get something from them just like I did.

ARTICLES

As with all articles: don’t judge them based on the headlines. I’d recommend actually reading them before you get your knickers in a bunch.

DOCS (NETFLIX)

Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution
Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things
Gaga: Five Foot Two
Happy
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé

BOOKS

These are my all time non-fiction faves (my favourite fiction book of all time is here). I always have a stack I’m working on. Based on what you’re seeing here, if you have book recommendations for me please go ahead and slide them on into my Instagram DM’s. 

TED TALKS

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS

These are gonna be ALL over the map. Follow these accounts if you want to be more socially aware, lean into antiracism work, get that daily dose of encouragement, want to love yourself more, love a good laugh and/or want to confront your BS.

@CreateTheLove
@bymariandrew
@theslumflower
@whatswrongwithmyvagina
@BodyPosiPanda
@ihartericka

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Traveling while Black part 3,000: “…..white feminists tended to romanticize the black female experience rather than discussing the negative impacts of that oppression. When feminist acknowledge in one breath that Black women are victimized and in the same breath emphasize their strength, they imply that though black women are oppressed they manage to circumvent the damaging impact of oppression by being strong – and this is simply not the case. Usually when people talk about the strength of Black women they are referring to the way in which they perceive Black women coping with oppression. – bell hooks, "Aint' I a Woman" • • Yesterday, I was standing waiting for my bags in the TSA  pre check line (I make this distinction because white people get very uncomfortable when you come into spaces that are made accessible to them via class). "Yellow.. its the color of the season. Did you know that?" I was wearing a yellow turtle neck and had to move away when this presumable white woman was going to reach to touch it. As I was walking away, another white cis woman looked at me as if she was seeing Jesus and said, "wow you look amazing!" Y'all its a yellow turtle neck and khakis! But Ericka, its just a compliment, nah its their discomfort on loud speaker. White people do not compliment each other to this extent, I know they ain't shifting their way of being when they see me. • • I used to get dressed for these compliments. I would wait to wow white folks as my internalized anti-Blackness said that Black people weren't here for my weirdness. This fetishizing didn't end when I was married to a white person either, she did it too. When we divorced, I wasn't able to grieve. "You are so strong, Ericka! You will be fine!". When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, same thing. This rhetoric is what kills black parents in labor. Medical institutions think that we are only strong too. Like (@kolbybrianne) said this absolutely plays a role in desirability, and Eb said yesterday, if Black femmes are godlike, who wants to fuck god? • • bell hooks goes on to say that Black women are strong so white women can remain victims. • • Black folks only: Have you had this experience?

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@Rachel.Cargle

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Why is it that in order to talk about race white women act as though their safety is in danger? They approach it as if it’s rocket science. They place themselves into a role of one who must be coddled into understanding as opposed to shaken up to their role in the oppression of entire communities. • The marginalized have been living in fear, pain and frustration for generations but all of a sudden white women are the ones in need of “safe spaces” to finally talk about it. • Share this because I’m really tired of discomfort being called anything besides what it is and white people aren’t immune to discomfort, it’s exactly what’s needed in this conversation regarding race.

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Rachel also offers a free 30-day antiracism course (targeted at WW) that encourages you to dig in and #DoTheWork. You can sign up for that here.

@recipesforselflove
@thefinancialdiet
@thefashionfitnessfoodie
@AwardsforGoodBoys

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HI BEAUTIFUL

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@florencegiven

PODCASTS

Girls Gotta Eat

Fave episode: What Turns You On? with Nikki Glaser AND/OR Money Talks with Ramit Sethi

How I Built This

Fave episodes: The episode with Daymond John who created FUBU and my ALL TIME favourite & most life changing podcast episode of all time — the episode with Whitney Wolfe, the creator of Bumble.

Stuff Mom Never Told You (aka SMNTY)

Fave episode: Any episode from their 2017 series of episodes on Role Overload (single ladies, working mothers and working daughters).

The Art of Charm

Fave episodes: 748. 7 Signs of a Toxic Relationship AND 749. How to Handle Toxic Relationships

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Fave episodes: Her episodes with Eckhart Tolle or Brené Brown (she has multiple episodes with each of them).

Guys we F*cked

I would actually recommend starting at the beginning and listening from the first episode onward. I think this podcast kinda broke the internet when it started and set a precedent for a whole new generation of female-hosted sex and dating podcasts.

TWITTER ACCOUNTS

Tbh we all need a good laugh or some insight once in a while, and here are a couple accounts I can always count on for that.

@SheRatesDogs

@TinderDistrict

@EWDatsGROSS

@LegendsLeague

@ChrissyTeigen

@Scaachi


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ON TRANSITIONAL PERIODS, CHANGE AND GETTING SICK OF YOUR OWN BULLSHIT

I’ve thrown myself into an ocean and I’m trying to forgo what I’d normally reach for as a life raft, so I’m learning to tread water as a result.

I think it’s probably safe to say that we’ve all experienced a period of uncertainty and/or change at one point or another in our lives. Depending on your situation, the transitional period might be by choice, or forced upon you. But either way, I honestly don’t believe one is easier than the other.

There is no time limit. It can be a month, a year or your whole damn life. Some people have learned to deal with this and they thrive here and don’t sweat it (which is admirable). Others, like me, seek comfort and consistency because that’s what I grew up with.

I’ve been in one hell of a transition period, y’all. I’ve thrown myself into an ocean and I’m trying to forgo the habits I’d normally reach for as a life raft. As a result, I’m learning to tread water.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to write a blog post for a while. A lot has happened. I feel like I’ve been hit with more truth bombs than ever before and I’ve had to show up for myself and own up to my own bullshit in so many ways. I’ve been trying to protect myself as I heal and change in isolation as much as possible, but I know I can’t do it forever. I don’t thrive when I hide from the world. This morning I reminded myself that there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

So that’s where I’ve been. I’ve also been writing a book, but that’s beside the point.

All this uncertainty has changed me in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. You might be thinking “well….fucking DUH” but I had no idea about all the ways it would force me to evolve. The Big Snooze (a term coined by Jen Sincero that you’ll read more about below) has really really really tested me and something tells me I’m not through the thick of it yet.

“It’s like when you quit smoking or doing drugs and go into withdrawal. Finally, you’ve taken a leap and done something that’s going to massively improve your life, and for days, sometimes weeks, you feel worse than you did when you were a wild child. You’re hacking up all this nasty crap, ridding your body of toxins, shaking, sweating, puking, wondering why on Earth you thought this was a good idea. It’s really fun.

Same goes for when we rid ourselves of limiting subconscious beliefs that have been holding us back and take a giant leap outside our comfort zone. It’s a detox of such staggering proportions that sometimes it can feel like The Universe is conspiring against us — trees fall on our cars, our computers crash, we find our significant others in bed with our best friends, we get our identities stolen, we get the flu, our roofs cave in, we sit in gum — when in reality, The Big Snooze [ego, fear, the devil, whatever you call it] is creating chaos in an attempt to self-sabotage and keep everything as is, instead of moving forward into unknown, yet desperately wanted, new territory. Every successful person knows this and has been through this.

When taking great leaps forward, life often turns to shit before it turns to Shinola.”

– Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

I didn’t realize how hard it would be to leave parts of my old self behind in order to move forward. That it would feel a lot like grieving in some instances. 

My workaholism. My drinking habits. My dating habits. Basically all the things that kept me comfortable but stopped me from feelings things fully or growing.

Hell, there are habits I’ve tried to walk away from 100 times and failed 100 times. It’s embarrassing, but it’s incredibly human. I thought I’d have put certain tendencies in the past by 25, but the truth is that there’s no good time (or age) to let go. 

In some cases I’d do just about anything to let myself off the hook of taking change into my own hands and owning it. Asking “universe! send me a sign that something needs to change! I don’t know what to do!!!!” and the truth is that the universe had already slapped me in the face with the consequences of my action like a million times, and it was getting tired of my bullshit just like I was. So it gifted me a mental breakdown complete with snot bubbles, then proceeded to club me with a frozen trout while shouting, “WAKE UP YA SMART SLUT YOU’VE KNOWN ALL ALONG.” I came to in a different goddam dimension with so much clarity it hurt.

But that’s just me.

Hard truth: there’s no way to make leaving something behind that no longer serves you any easier. No short cut. No way to hand off the work. It’s all you, boo.

There’s no simple way to stop taking the escapism hatch and start opening yourself up to the pain of reality. Sometimes we wait to bottom out before we are forced to change, but what kind of way is that to honour the one life you’ve been granted? Don’t make me go through the trash to find that frozen trout the universe hit me with.

I truly believe we kept getting sent the same lesson over and over again until we learn it.

I can certainly say I’ve been sick of my own bullshit many times, but I know firsthand that doesn’t mean change will follow. Beating the odds and making change stick can’t come from a place of shame, wanting to prove people wrong or being utterly frustrated with yourself and your failures. It comes from an entirely different place in your soul.

You love yourself enough to know that you deserve to know what’s on the other side.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvPTwF3gg8J/

To some extent, I’m also trying valiantly to accept the fact that change and growth has no end point. So finding “comfort” forever ain’t realistic.

Real, sustainable, healthy change can only come from self-love. And I know firsthand, learning to love yourself isn’t a goddam picnic.

When I started on a self-love journey in 2015, I didn’t know what I was in for. All I knew is that I needed to change, but at the time, I wasn’t using the right fuel to make it happen.

These are what my moments of self-love look like these days. I feel myself changing as I move through making new habits and it turns out that what’s on the other side of it is…clarity. Which can be great but overwhelming. Sometimes it’s practically so blinding it stings. 

So how am I coping with this newfound clarity? Well. It’s not glamorous.

It’s coping, after all 🤷‍♀️

I’m slowing the hell down in pretty much every way.

I’m staring out the window at midnight listening to music I loved as a teenager on repeat.

I’m reaching out when I’m flailing before I disappear into the quicksand of fleeting feelings. 

I’m staying sober and drinking so much f*cking La Croix. 

I’m prioritizing sleep.

I’m holding space for people I love who are in pain.

I’m thinking about getting another tattoo, but waiting on a day where I feel great to go through with it.

I’m addressing shame and its vines that have grown around my heart and mind.

I’m crying. Because sometimes when you become clear on your own bullshit it’s A LOT. 

I’m watching Eat Pray Love and Silver Linings Playbook like my life depends on it.

I’m playing with other peoples’ dogs.

I’m remembering that I make mistakes, but my mistakes don’t make me (yes, that’s a Mac Miller lyric).

I’m checking myself (gently) when necessary.

I’m making peace in the war against the eczema on my face.

I’m journaling pages full of questions for myself.

I’m repeating “you are enough” every time I leave the house, walk into a new place, go to sleep and wake up. 

I’m spending a lot of time on my own.

I’m meditating every damn day so the squirrel that lives in my brain doesn’t overrun things. 

I’m going to counselling like clockwork. 

I’m having more difficult conversations than ever before.

I’m sharing my energy very very purposefully.

I’m standing strong on my boundaries.

I’m laying on my carpet at 4:42PM when I can’t look at my laptop anymore.

This is when / where the work is done. This is not a process that can be distilled down into a 30-second montage in a movie or cleanly cut into a vlog. 

I’ve come close to stalling out in this transition period and getting stuck here. You can find a way to get too comfortable in the uncertainty in order to dodge further change.

2019 – you aren’t f*cking around. Damn.

I see you. I’m no longer being dishonest with myself about my self-limiting bullshit. I’m no longer avoiding change because I deserve better. And I’m paying for it in extreme discomfort. But it’s coming from the right place and I find comfort in the fact that I know deep down I’m doing the right thing.

I’m grateful. I’m terrified. I’m respecting my one life.

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GUEST POST: HOW I LOST MY JOB AND FOUND MYSELF

Emma Sherren of Blonde’s Eye View on when you do everything “right” but it still goes wrong.

GUEST WRITER INFO

Emma Sherren is a 25-year-old wine & cheese enthusiast, blogger, and self-proclaimed comedian. She has a degree in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg and has a career in events and marketing.

I always thought I was taking the right steps in order to set myself up for a safe and comfortable future.

I graduated high school, went to University directly after, backpacked through Europe during the summer, graduated from University and got a job. While I was in university I worked a full -time and part-time job in order to make money and also make sure I had some experience in my field once I graduated.

Every step I took seemed to be exactly what I thought I needed to be doing because that’s what everyone else was doing or had done before me. Although I felt generally happy, my day to day life had fallen into a robotic routine. Wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, start again. Of course, friends, family, and outings factored in, but I found myself going through the motions to get to the weekend instead of turning on my brain and getting creative.

Upon graduating, I had a couple of great positions that I ended up leaving for other jobs because of factors unrelated to me. In the past, when I would start looking for a new position I never had a problem finding another job. Finally, a couple of years and jobs after graduating, I thought I had finally found a job that I saw a future in. I was excited to settle into my position for the long haul.

Turns out, I was wrong.

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I was let go from the position about three months in. I was called into the boss’s office at the end of the day, was told I would no longer be continuing in my position, and effective immediately was being dismissed.

I was sent to my office with a box to pack, and as quickly as I had started, I was finished. I was in a complete state of shock as I walked to my car and immediately started sobbing out all of the tears I’d been holding in until that point while on the phone with my mom. All I could think was, “did that really just happen?” I had never felt this kind of rejection in my career. I was angry, confused, embarrassed, hurt, and mainly I felt as though I had completely failed.

The situation felt a bit like a break up that ended suddenly with so many unanswered questions. I was not given any feedback, and because of that I felt like I didn’t receive any closure and had nothing to take away moving forward. My mind immediately started racing through my entire time there picking apart every piece of work I’d done or email I’d sent. All I wanted to know was, “why did this happen?”

I thought I had taken all the right steps to get a job I deserved. I was in disbelief. While I should have been gearing up for the excitement of the holiday season, I found myself drowning in anxiety, scotch, and ego-crushing emotions.

How would I find a job right away?

What would my parents, boyfriend, and friends think?

Why wasn’t I good enough?

I started to dread going to family dinners or seeing people fearing they would ask me about work or what I had been doing. Listening to other people talk about their careers or days at the office felt awful because I had nothing to contribute. I had never felt so lost in my entire life.

I decided I had to allow myself the time and self-care I needed to navigate this scary, confusing, and transitional time. This time included a lot of crying, carbs, wine, and feeling extremely sad and negative about myself. But during that process, I was also able to really think about what had happened, what I was feeling, and start looking for a solution.

Why did I keep thinking I wasn’t good enough? Why did I keep worrying about what everyone else thought of me?

When I had accepted this job, I had two other offers on the table but went with the one I thought would provide the most stability (ironic hey?). It took reminding myself daily that I was capable, hirable, and deserving of finding a job that I love.

I started looking at jobs but decided to not just apply for every single one I knew I was qualified for. I started to really think about what I wanted to do, and what I really enjoyed doing, opposed to throwing my hat in the ring for anything and everything. I began reaching out to companies, blogs, and other local entrepreneurs who I resonated with, looked up to, or thought I would enjoy working for. This time also gave me the opportunity to think about all of the things I did not want to do or habits I did not want to fall back into.

I enjoy a schedule and routine, but a few days after I was terminated, I found myself thinking about what had been happening in my life the last couple of years. I was losing my creative side, and feeling really drained at the end of the week. I would wake up in the middle of the night several times a week worried about work-related matters and was constantly anxious. I had stopped really getting to know myself, and I realized now was the time to become reacquainted. When I started to do things I was excited about or apply for jobs I thought I could actually be passionate about, I felt more in control about where my life was going to go, and although I felt unsure about where exactly that was I felt happier then I had in months.

This is what I’ve learned during my time being unemployed:

Don’t be too hard on yourself

It’s hard not to instantly fill your mind with negative thoughts after something like this happens, but beating yourself up isn’t going to help you find another job.

I understand, easier said than done. You aren’t going to feel amazing every day, and that’s okay! But the more you remind yourself that you’re a kick-ass modern woman (or man) with a ton to offer, the faster you’re going to be on the right track towards a job you’re going to love.

Remember all the reasons that the company wanted and fought for you in the first place.

Remember that a lot of times these things happen not as a reflection of your own performance, but because of matters out of your control.

Lean on your friends, family, and loved ones

These are the moments that your family, friends, and loved ones are the most important. As much as I was embarrassed and worried about what these people would think and ask, no one was casting blame or judgment. These people in my life rallied around me with advice, support, and were all understanding when I needed to step away and take time for myself.

Don’t let your own ego be the reason you don’t have a support system.

Take a breath (if you can afford to)

Of course, the first thing you think of when you lose your job is “how am I going to make money?”

I was terrified of what my income situation was going to look like, and initially, I thought I’d try to get whatever job I could as quickly as possible.

Then I realized that was the worst possible thing I could do for my long-term well-being.

I decided to take this situation as an opportunity to take a breather. I dipped into my savings and booked an impromptu holiday to Mexico with my boyfriend before Christmas, made new connections, began looking into jobs that really interested me and finally started writing again.

Things happen for a reason, and while you may not always know what that reason is, allow yourself the time to figure it out if you have the financial privilege.

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Hellooooo Pre Christmas Vaycay🎄✨❤️🥑

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What Comes Next for Emma

Emma took some time off from her job search during the holidays and started 2019 in style.

You can read her blog here: https://www.blondeseyeview.com/

ON LOVING THE ORDINARY

When winter takes a toll, and our routines feel repetitive, why do we feel a little bit dead inside?

It’s usually mid-winter for me when I really start feeling like I have to drag myself out of the house and that daily deja-vu sets in.

For the first time, I took a vacation in late January, which I thought was supposed to prevent that feeling????? In my case, I came back during the coldest snap of our entire winter and promptly got sick and went right back to business as usual — watching Grey’s Anatomy in my bed.

In case you missed the memo, I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba where it’s winter (aka brutally cold) at least half the year, making it feel like an eternity.

Winter exasperates that rinse and repeat routine feeling. But I’d also argue that no matter what time of the year it is, slipping into a predictable day-to-day routine makes me feel a certain way, and I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

*Before I go any further, I think it’s important to recognize that it’s a privilege to experience the kind of routine I’m talking about. I acknowledge that a lot of people without stable income or consistent shelter/food want this predictability. Privilege plays a big part in someone’s level of comfort in society and I never want to lose sight of that fact.

Even though my baseline of happiness is a lot better than it used to be ever since I took some steps to manage my burnout, I still found myself feeling REALLY emotionally flat and generally withdrawn the past few weeks. A little “dead behind the eyes,” as my friend Amie would say.

But why?

Winter has a shopping list of effects on our bodies and brains — so that’s important to keep in mind. Also, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very very real. Don’t even get me started on Valentine’s Day.

Those are all valid answers, but there’s one more thing that occurred to me recently:

We unconsciously expect extraordinary, always, so when life is everything but that, we get bummed out.

As usual, I will credit Brené Brown for enlightening me on this idea.

The idea that we live in a culture of scarcity shouldn’t be a surprise — feeling like we don’t have enough, or aren’t enough, is practically background noise to us at this point. Especially when, for the most part, we are exposed to extraordinary day-in and day-out on social media and the other media we consume.

So when you combine that background noise of NOT ENOUGH with the disheartening effects of winter, it’s…not good.

Seeing vacation pictures in the dead of winter is the perfect example of this (in my humble opinion).

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The weird, and the wonderful. This trip makes me think back to the first time I was alone in Halifax for a few days and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I remember circling a block three times trying to get the courage to walk into a busy cocktail bar I wanted to try but I couldn’t make myself go in and sit by myself for fear of being judged. I remember in Switzerland being too scared to ride a bike for fear of getting hit or lost and here I’ve biked almost everywhere. That fear is completely and utterly gone. I guess you could say I got better at travelling too, but I really believe it’s the confidence to do it on my own that’s changed completely. Truth is, people question you less when you’re not questioning yourself. #solotravel #nola #neworleans

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I remember exactly how I felt when I was sitting at my desk last February with an electric heater pointed at my feet seeing tropical vacation pics on social media. But I think the problem isn’t necessarily the photos themselves, it’s how they make us feel.

Maybe it’s a little bit of classic jealousy, but I believe it goes a looOooOooT deeper…it’s a micro-dose of resentment and anger toward our own wintery boredom and ordinary-ness. At least, looking back, that’s how I felt.

And in my opinion, our habits and patterns during winter can get kinda boring and blah if we don’t put the effort in (laying around, eating comfort food, not having as much sex, not being as social…the list goes on), so we are especially vulnerable to feel this way.

It’s easy to lust and look forward to spring and that feeling of renewal. Looking forward to things is healthy, but doesn’t how you feel along the way matter? I would argue it does, especially since I have a feeling it’s going to be a while till we see grass.

I didn’t like the book The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, but the chapter titled ‘You are not Special‘ is interesting. I agree with him when he says, “being ‘average’ has become the new standard of failure.” He also says “the vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that’s ok,” and I think that applies here.

“Once you accept the premise that a life is worthwhile only if it is truly notable and great, then you basically accept the fact that most of the human population (including yourself) sucks and is worthless. And this mindset can quickly turn dangerous…” – The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (paperback, page 61).

Brown and Manson essentially say the same thing in two very difference ways: it comes back to gratitude for the ordinary, and self-acceptance. We need to believe that what we have right now is enough, and acknowledge and appreciate it in all it’s ordinary glory. It’s also believing that WE are enough, unconditionally.

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The idea for this blog post came to me when I was cleaning up and purging my apartment using the KonMari method a few days ago.

I was doing some long-overdue work on my laptop when I spilled tea on the trackpad and it started glitching. So, I booked an appointment at the Apple store, but the soonest they could fit me in was a few days from then. I was already feeling crappy because I feel like I haven’t been very productive lately (this is the first blog post I’ve put out in…a while) and the fact that I couldn’t use my laptop to work just made my productivity-related guilt even worse. So I logically decided to make the most of the time. I had been watching Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, and deep cleaning is something you’d never catch me doing if it was warm outside.

So after I thanked my clothes for their time in my closet, I got around to doing books and papers which is the next stage of cleaning according to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. After reading my old journals, which was just a recipe for a casserole of tears (spoiler: they are not happy), I decided to put on Oprah’s Supersoul podcast episodes with Brené Brown. 

I was sorting through old pictures and tossing old paper documents when Brown said: “in a culture of scarcity, we are always chasing extraordinary.” I stopped and wrote what she said down.

I was in the middle of looking at the evidence of the very ordinary life I have lived, on a very normal Tuesday morning in the dead of winter, and I felt joyful! Marie Kondo’s method is all about expressing a shit ton of GRATITUDE and wow, does it work.

It was an ‘aha’ moment I guess you could say.

It made me realize I was feeling a little dead inside in the dead of winter because I was swimming in the feeling of inadequacy around my ordinary routine instead of cultivating gratitude for it. Why? Well, the easy answer is that NOT being grateful is the path of least resistance. I’ve also been a little aimless, and the “you are not enough” monsters were looming over me. The perfect storm.

Life doesn’t need to be extraordinary to be meaningful, but we do have to make effort to find the joy in the ordinary.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about the best moments from the last month it’s nothing flashy or wild. I think part of what made them so good is that I was fully present and open to appreciating what was happening: laughing with my friends, eating Thai food with my mom, bouncing around in boxing class, making a scrapbook of my memories…the list goes on.

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Me and my friend Sarah at boxing.

Make a list of your favourite moments from the last month. Let’s learn to embrace ourselves and our ordinary, especially when we want to hibernate.

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