Some Notes About Commitment

I’ve always been commitment-oriented, but not always for the right reasons. I felt a void in me of some kind, a sense of inadequacy, a sense that someone else telling me I’m enough would somehow ring true and I would finally “feel enough”.

I’m still commitment-oriented, but now for way way healthier reasons. I commit to myself, to growth, to relationships, to understanding pain (my own and others’), to connections, to being there for people. I try to do this increasingly unconditionally so long as I am not compromising my sense of self in the process, and so long as I have enough to give.

There are 3 – and only 3 – reasons to not want to commit to someone. 
1. EASY: You don’t like them (enough). The “enough” can be really confusing to the person who likes you more. If you are the person being rejected, take it as “this person doesn’t like me” – it makes it easier to set a sharp boundary and a sharp line for yourself. If you’re the person who doesn’t like the other person (enough), you know exactly what this feeling is: yeahsure, this person is fine and all, but you’re not particularly interested in building the kind of intimacy they are. And, if you’re in this boat, your feelings are relatively *easy* to understand and deal with. You look at someone and go “yeah ok, but like no thanks.” (If you find yourself feeling that “you’re not sure how you feel,” you likely do not like this person enough at this point in time but it could also be point 2 or point 3 on this list.) If you find you are guilt-ridden about not liking someone, you have some stuff to sort out. Feelings are feelings – they are, to an extent, fickle. I once chatted with an imam about the instant connection I felt for someone and you know what he said? “Yes, perhaps it means in jannat (heaven), you were quite close to this person – like a little soul family. You know sometimes you may meet someone and you just don’t click with them right away – for no reason! We just say, that person was a little farther from you in heaven 😛 ” That’s it. Chemistry, explained by an imam. If that’s not good enough, I don’t know what is – basically: you can’t beat yourself up for having feelings OR for not having feelings. If you’re on the receiving end of rejection because the person just doesn’t like you, I mean come on. It has literally nothing to do with your self worth, who you are or what you’re capable of! You can’t internalize that noise – or else you’ll risk not liking yourself because of what someone else thinks about you. You have to have a sense of what you like about yourself and what you dislike about yourself that is relatively independent of what people think about you. This isn’t to say people’s opinions don’t matter, but it needs to be feedback that makes sense from a self improvement perspective. if someone just doesn’t have feelings for you, that’s not a question of self improvement – it’s a question of chemical jannat-style attraction.
***The “Early Days” Caveat***: Sometimes, you don’t like them enough….yet – and that is a different feeling than not liking them enough. This is one of those moments where you don’t actually have to make a decision yet – it’s too early in the game to say “I’m in” or “I’m out”. You’re waiting and seeing. You don’t like them enough….yet….but in a few weeks or months you feel you *might* – and that’s a good reason to still date someone non exclusively, especially in the early days of getting to know someone.

2. HARD: You don’t like yourself (enough). Ooh. This one is totally fucked up. You don’t want to commit even though you like the other person? But why?! Because you are actually so convinced of your own worthlessness, that even someone else accepting you isn’t a relief in any way – it ends up feeling terrifying, because it means you now have to live up to someone’s idea that you’re in fact an ok human. You actually DO like this person – quite a bit -but if you were with them, they’d just FIND OUT who you REALLY are and we can’t have that can we? only you can know your own shit so commitment becomes a non-option because you’ll obviously feel inadequate and miserable around this person. You have to learn that people will accept you if they like you. Worse, if you don’t like yourself enough, you may not totally know what you like in others or dislike. When you like yourself enough to date someone else, you know what you can offer, you know your feelings, you can value your feelings of vulnerability and connection and not feel weird or dorky about it. When you don’t like yourself enough, your idea about commitment is constantly shifting to what the other person thinks/wants/etc – not in a balanced “healthy relationship” way, but in a “how do I keep them around?!” way.) Even worse, what if they start to rely on you? You’re unreliable, don’t they KNOW that?! You have to prevent this at all cost because there’s no way you could be there for someone and while you would love it if this person was there for you, you know deep down you are incapable of being there for someone else, so how could you possibly he he he he he *dissolves into ferengi laughter* hoo-man relationships are just silly anyhow. 
Look, this is you:
Image result for ferengi rules of acquisition dignity
But don’t worry! You can change! I believe you will eventually evolve, my little Ferengi, into a hoo-man, and maybe even a human

3. HARDEST: Some weird combo of the above. What an awful position to be in – you don’t know where your responsibility is in what you’re offering or why you’re offering it. :O how do you have a relationship with anyone?

The Solution:
1. Know who you are,
2. Know what you like, and intrinsically value the fact that you are able to care deeply about someone.
3. Be open to receiving love
4. Be open to leaving if love is not there
and then? Just keep finding people you like and want to connect with. It doesn’t matter if they reject you – the point is not that rejection won’t happen with this method. The point is, eventually, rejection will stop mattering because you are open to receiving love, and open to leaving if love is not there. The point is: you will eventually find someone you like, while being sure of your feelings for them, and they will also show their feelings for you. Your process filters out the ones that do not fit the above criteria, and that means that while rejection happens, you’re never going to care if rejection happens.

The amount of self knowledge and self love you need to pull this off is monumental though, and I’m not going to lie, it took me forever to get there. But these days, a rejection just means I’ve saved time. Rejection doesn’t even mean that I hold feelings of resentment – why should I? I enjoy liking someone! I enjoy my butterflies. I enjoy offering love. I’m glad I got to feel that for someone. If they change and come back later, I might be open to that depending on how it ended or where I’m at in my own life.

There is only 1 reason to want to commit to someone:
You see a life with them that promotes the best of both of you where you can both be vulnerable with one another.
The spark is there.  The confusion is not. You like them. You see it working. You are happy to be vulnerable with them. You are happy if they are vulnerable with you. Notice I made this all about you. It is about you. Your feelings of commitment are about you – they say nothing about the other person. So: You need this feeling of sureness about how you feel about the other person AND! The solution (listed above) needs to be working, ie: you feel these things in the previously established context of:
1. knowing who you are.
2. knowing what you like, and intrinsically valuing the fact that you are able to care deeply about someone.
3. being open to receiving love.
4. being open to leaving if love is not there.

(You can’t forget – those are the steps to “The Solution”. It’s called the solution for a reason! )
You can want commitment with someone who suddenly does an about-turn on you and you realise they’re not ready to commit – they’re floating between Reasons 1-3 of why they don’t want to commit. And that’s ok! That’s their business.

It’s not your business any longer.

(Advanced level stuff: if you are able to wish them well genuinely, even after they leave, that’s awesome – it means you’re genuinely prioritising point 2 of the solution – and most beautifully, your prioritisation does not depend on if someone leaves or stays. Isn’t that amazing? Note that point 2 doesn’t insist on BEING with anyone or imposing on anyone with your feelings. It just means: you’re not dead inside. Yay! And if you’re consciously feeling emotions of care for someone who left without it affecting you or destabilizing your inner peace, you’ve unlocked a serious life-step: You are able to be a good person without expectation of reward. This is actually what people mean by unconditional love.)

Look, if this list doesn’t work, do what I did:
1. Recover from major depression.
2. Recover from generalized anxiety disorder.
3. Confront your Fear. About everything.
4. Confront your Loneliness.
5. Consider what Love means to you.
6. Begin a regimen of regular meditation.
7. Date god (I wish I was joking)
8. Learn yourself – figure out who the fuck you are. Get real about it. Compassion helps at this stage, SPRINKLE COMPASSION LIBERALLY HERE.
9. Cut out everything about yourself you hate.
10. Fill yourself with things you love
11. Discover who you want to be – start working towards that.
12. Love yourself.
13. Discover inner peace – the kind that is a steady flame in a hurricane.
14. Offer love unconditionally – within the framework of “The Solution”.
15. Date someone and have shit work out.

Remember always: Nothing is lost. Nothing is even truly gained. E2=E1=constant. But if you can find someone to share time with, share space with, share love with, do it.

(I’m at step 14 – how about you? 😛 )

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Things to Remember While Dating

  1. If they wanted to, they would. And if they didn’t want to, they wouldn’t. This goes for: making plans with concrete date/time/place, reaching out and (re)connecting, taking initiative to message, how enthusiastic their messages are, basically everything. How people express interest in you shows you how much of a priority you are to them – and it also tells you how you like to be courted. Here are things I like: I love being charmed. A scintillating song? yes please. a moonlit walk? absolutely. communication that is reassuring and kind? ofc! Here are things I dislike: being ignored for days, feeling unsure about someone’s feelings for me/level of commitment, getting “mixed signals”.
  2. People like hearing from people they like. If they sound annoyed, upset, mad, irritated, frustrated that you reached out to them, they aren’t feeling the connection (anymore), even if they once did. Annoyance is what you feel for someone who you think is a nuisance – within reason (a week to ten days), you never have to respond to any version of “If you just waited, I’d have gotten back to you!” If this person left you hanging or sounds annoyed you reached out to them they are not happy hearing from you for whatever reason. It could even be something super convoluted like: “omg, I really like her but I feel overwhelmed that I can’t meet her needs and I hope she doesn’t leave and doesn’t she know this stresses me out?” but guess what: they’re still not happy hearing from you. You want to be in touch with people who want to be in touch with you and who communicate their feelings and intentions clearly. Chemistry alone isn’t enough for that – chemistry isn’t what saves fights or misunderstandings – commitment is. And commitment doesn’t exist on its own – you need both people investing in commitment and shared perspectives for that. Recognize that if someone is annoyed with you for contacting them, they really don’t want anything to do with you – even if they can’t admit it to themselves.
  3. People can say no for reasons that have nothing to do with their feelings for you. And even worse: people can say yes for reasons that have nothing to do with their feelings for you. It’s not you. It’s not even them. It’s things they haven’t worked out about their own life, or things they see in your life that they can’t live with (that you are fine with.)
  4. There is no why. None. Think about the times you’ve lost interest/gave it a genuine shot and it went nowhere/etc. There’s no real “reason” for it most of the time, right? There is 0 why. Connections work for as long as they work due to a combination of life circumstances (how ready and willing and capable the people experiencing the relation are willing to keep something going).
  5. The connection was real when it felt real. No reason to go back and doubt moments you felt sure were shared – they were. Those moments just aren’t enough sometimes. People have genuine fears about commitment, about making the wrong decision, about committing too much, about their own insecurities and inadequacies, about over-promising and “being found out”, about being hurt and rejected if they overinvest – and none of that has to do with the way you both looked at each other once, or a kiss that you felt singing through your whole being. And who knows, maybe it’ll come back.
  6. Love needs boundaries but it also needs courage. Stop dating cowards. Date people who value their OWN feelings for other people enough to be able to act on them. Date people who also value reciprocity, who understand what receiving love should feel like.
  7. Be present and aware of your own emotions and that of the other person. When someone’s feelings for you change, you’ll feel it. You’ll feel it if it gets deeper, and you’ll feel it if they’re pulling away. It’s ok either way – it needs to be ok either way. Neither person is wrong for their feelings changing – but rudeness, imposition, unkindness – these are always wrong and unnecessary.
  8. Let people go who have made it clear that they are not interested in you. “But,” you say,  “it’s not clear! I’m confused!” Look again: it’s clear. Relationships should not be confusing. The fact that it is confusing is a sign of lack of comfort, anxiety, etc that your partner/person/human is reluctant to alleviate. If they don’t care about your feelings, they don’t care about you – even if they feel chemistry for you.
  9. Mixed signals aren’t a thing – the only thing mixing there are completely mismatched perspectives. You are mixing what you want to hear with what you are being shown. If someone is being inconsistent with you, call that out by all means.
  10. Not everyone is capable of what it takes to be in a relationship. Bad at apologizing? Bad at reaching out? Think it’s constantly you vs them when it should be you and the other person vs the problem? You have to work on stuff before you can be with someone.
  11. If you’re not sure about how you feel for someone, guess what: you don’t like them. Take this with a grain of salt: it means you don’t like them right now. If you have a relationship, if you’ve built something, if this is your first conflict, there’s room here to fully take stock of the good times and the bad. If, however, this is within the first few dates and you kind of like them kind of don’t – you don’t like them. Cut ’em loose! They deserve better than your nonsense – especially if you know they DO like you. The space will be good for both of you to figure out exactly where you stand with one another.
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Resolutions for 2019

My practice of writing resolutions (see 20132014, 2016, 2017, 2018) has been completely invaluable to me. That said, I normally write this on December 30th, and this year, I was a little delayed due to feeling a little low. A few goals hadn’t been accomplished. I was rejected by someone I liked a lot towards the end of the year. It affected me. But, if I learned anything this past year, it was that being affected by something didn’t mean I had to be in a state of emotional paralysis – so I’m writing this for me.

2018 was a year where I can say I’ve recovered from depression and anxiety in major ways – it was a year where I realised, I’m actually emotionally more stable and in tune with myself than many people who have not experienced a devastating loss of sense of self. I continues learning more about myself and people around me, and how to exist in relation with myself (my many selves), and with other people. Two years ago, I opened this introduction with saying that I was living with depression and anxiety. Last year, I stated that I think I’m officially recovered from both depression and generalised anxiety disorder in very marked ways, and I know working within a growth model framework has been so uplifting. This past year, I’m… fine. I’ve dealt with setbacks without letting them stop me. And I suspect this year will be more of the same. 

Body Image/Exercise/Healthy Living
similar goals as last year because they’re good and because I’ve been meeting most of them! A happy face beside each one I achieved, because rereading it this year actually made me smile as it’s something I have “figured out”  🙂

  • Food Goals:
    • 2019: Cook on a regular basis and take food to work!
    • Keep track of what foods I eat and eat 3-4 small meals a day. 🙂
    • Drink more water! use the Loblaws-glass-bottle as a measure and consume  4 of these per day.
    • Use the 40-30-30 plan with myfitnesspal to help
    • Cut my caffeine intake by sticking to tea and trying to avoid coffee as much as possible 🙂
  • 2019 Exercise Goals: this is proving difficult to maintain due to the study schedule i developed last year as part of my academic goals. For now, this section is on hiatus due to just not having enough time – this is still on hiatus in 2019
    • Incorporate walking into every day –use the gym at work!
    • Work up to running for 30 minutes, 3 times a week
    • (I lost about 10 lbs last year out of my goal of 25. I’d like to continue on that track while putting on muscle): Diabetes, hypertension,  and heart disease run in my family; there is a serious concern of me developing these issues from a genetic perspective.
    • Strength train for arms, core, and sides, using the exercises learned from last year
      • Start with simple stuff, using body weight, at home, work up to more intense exercises
      • use the  “health” goals I came up with this year: feeling better in clothes, sleeping better, feeling stronger, fitter, having more energy, doing more without feeling so tired.
    • 2019: Incorporate a morning workout plan of fifteen to twenty minutes of bodyweight strength training for an at-home regimen
  • Writing/Planning Goals:
    • Write 1 articles per week and as many poems as needed (hah, I wasn’t even close with this goal this year, – it was originally 3 but I’ve cut it down to 1 article per week. Hopefully I can maintain that standard)  I learned that this kind of regimented form of writing didn’t work for me as well. What did work for me was the goal below: writing when the mood strikes and committing to it. Writing with support as part of a team (see below) also helped a lot so I want to maintain writing groups, writing circles, writing events (as part of my creative and academic goals)
    • Keep a journal, and a pen, on hand at all times 🙂
    • Use my phone calendar/google calendar to continuously plan 🙂 –> I was on top of many things this year such that it’s just a part of my life now I think 🙂
    • Submit articles to online/print publications, maintain my blog 🙂 –> I achieved this goal and actually had the highest ever views and visitors  and actually am working part of a team at at nuance, a digital publication 🙂 🙂
    • Continue my work with nuance and other publications! 🙂
    • Write 1 chapter per month for my book, which I started at the end of last year
  • Sleeping Goals: (el oh el – well something had to fall by the wayside this year and I guess my sleep had to go! I need to work on all of this; I am noticing my sleep has reduced significantly due to studying and working but i am aiming for a midnight-five am cycle) 
    • Continue to sleep at a regular time; when fluctuations happen, seek to correct them with better sleep hygiene practices like:
      • lights off after 12pm 🙂
      • 2019: lights off at 10pm, up by 3:30-4:30am
      • use soothing music if I have to
      • use melatonin if I have to
  • Body Loving Goals:
    • Relax my jaw more🙂
    • Try to love my body more, whatever weight I happen to be at, and accept it. 🙂
    • Work on corporal flexibility to strengthen mental flexibility – incorporate fluidity in how I live because water can’t break🙂 🙂 this has been an invaluable lesson for me – it’s like a supercharged version of going with the flow, while still directing some of the current
    • De-stress every night through conscious loosening of tense muscles; identify and work on specific muscles that are tense
    • Continue to be aware of who affects my body and in which ways; listen to my body about how to respond to people – Remember that the words are already on my tongue – I just have to read them out loud without muddling from my brain or my ~feelfeels~🙂 🙂 🙂 – 2017: I finally learned how to say “no” to things that harm me, to people that cross boundaries, to firmly and compassionately say no to things that I do not want or need, and to still maintain relationships, friendships, and work through issues. Not always, and not perfectly, but with a greater sense of who I am, and I want to continue saying no to things that I do not want, because these “NO”s are actually yesses to other things.  This past year, 2018: I finally learned to accept NOs from other people without taking it personally. 2019: I want to continue maintaining truthful relationships with people
    • 2019: Continue to work on seeing what I’m saying “yes” to 🙂 
    • I learned a lot about my spiritual goals this year and how I exist in relation with people – and it’s tied to a lot of how I feel in my body but also how I feel in my…sense of Self  – I hope to continue a body loving practice that maintains this spiritual sense, 2019: Continue my daily practice of chatting with my sense of divinity about life goals/thought patterns
    • Continue to be conscious of my posture🙂
      • go for massages (2019: I’ve been saying for YEARS that I need to get massages!) 
  • Hair Goals:
    • be more diligent about oiling my hair at night -2-3 times a week 🙂 move to incorporate castor oil in addition to coconut
    • do not wash hair more than 2-3 times a week (this strips it and kills it) :)*smiling as I read this because my hair is bomb this year* – hair was *amazing* in 2017 and in 2018.
  • Build a self care regime that is not based on material rewards, such as: hair care, doing groceries, cuddling my cats, writing, tea, 

Relationships/Self Image– I am truly stunned at how many of these I’ve met, excelled at, and really improved on this past year! A happy face beside each one I achieved, and am continuing to achieve! (two happy faces indicates that I’ve been “getting this” since 2014 and that it’s still a worthwhile goal) 

  • Trust/love/accept myself more – trust others will too  2019: and trust that the right people for me will do the same🙂🙂 and also push myself in kind, encouraging ways to continue to grow! To be honest, when  I wrote this last, I was broken up with shortly after these goals were listed so it’s kind of interesting reading them now  – and it happened again in 2019! Weird. Guess I’m a winter lover. I do trust, love, and accept myself more – including my flaws, without enabling them. I want to continue accepting myself from a growth model framework where I can improve on my flaws and understand that others are also in the process of doing that
  • Be hopeful rather than skeptical🙂🙂 (I am actually so proud of achieving this goal – it has helped me tremendously in addressing my depression and anxiety. See:
    https://midsentencerevelation.wordpress.com/?s=balance
  • https://midsentencerevelation.wordpress.com/?s=hopeIt is always interesting to see what worked in the past and what did not. Hope like this does not serve me anymore, but neither does skepticism. What I learned last year was that you neither need to hope for a high or be skeptical of a high, or be wary or afraid of a low. I refuse to live my life like a sine curve; there will be no peaks and troughs anymore. What I want instead, and what I work for instead, is meeting people exactly where they are at. My goal for this year is to see people clearly, see myself clearly, work through the fog of intention (good or bad), fear, anger, and other masks people have to see clearly what people have the capacity to offer, and what I have the capacity to offer. I am interested in bridging work, and boundary work: walls and bridges are made of the same thing – the red brick of my heart, and I finally understand how to do this work better. 🙂 2019: I’m thrilled to say I did this. :O I understand people and myself so much more now. I want to say that this past year I developed a sense of… grounded hope, and a sense of equanimity despite the highs or the lows. 
  • Value myself more – trust others will too , 2019: and trust that the right people will value me too. 2018: This goal has changed. A lot. Valuing myself means not only what I wrote below from last year, but also: knowing innately that I am no better and no worse than anyone I encounter, that we all echo a sense of the same spirit. Valuing myself has a process now, and it looks like this: Respect, for myself and for others – which is that deep knowledge and sense of everyone as worthy of everything good. Then, not to trust that others will offer me this but to see clearly if they do 🙂 And to move to people who do and to move away from people who do not. 🙂
    • From last year: What does valuing myself  look like? It looks like listening to my own body about situations – unease in my belly or tears in my throat – or warm feelings of affection and wanting to reach out in my fingers – 🙂 2019: by last year, 2018, this had actually changed from physical responses to concrete thoughts – I am better at writing these thoughts than I am at saying them or stating them, but I think a reasonable goal for this year, 2019, is to work on articulating them in person
    • Valuing also means prioritising my own sense of who I am
  • Express hurt before it’s too late…and value my own hurt for what it is rather than thinking I ‘shouldn’t’ be or don’t ‘deserve’ to feel the way I do.🙂 I have a different goal in place of this one now: I have achieved the goal of accepting my feelings, but I also learned that I don’t need to express my hurt every time. Sometimes, it’s clear where people stand. 2019: And…. yet, sometimes you THINK it’s clear, and actually it’s not! I believe in accepting people’s behaviour where they’re at – believe people when they show you where they’re at but also believe that growth is possible, that you aren’t necessarily seeing all of who someone is.
  • Be open to resolving conflict in a way that works with everyone involved; meet people where they are at! 🙂
  • Continue deprioritising/decentering romantic love.🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 while also valuing other forms of love more 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 all of this is done and resolved as of 2018! Wow. I don’t even… know what to say here except that for 2019, this is just… a part of my life. I know how to *to do* this now, so it’s no longer a resolution, it’s just…a part of my life? Woah.  
    • Once I gave up the “quest” to be seen as romantically loveable, I stopped struggling with extreme bouts of loneliness.  But I think I was confusing loneliness with some sense of lack of self worth which is thankfully being fixed, because instead of looking to be seen as loveable, I no longer see it as a measure of my self worth. ––> holy shit, so, at the time I wrote this, I had *some* idea of how I was feeling, but not a very clear idea of how deeply rooted the notion of loveability and self worth are. Going forward, I have realised decentering romantic love has been useful not because I am NOT loveable (as my earlier article states), but because so many different forms of love are accessible to me, and for all forms of love to work, that feeling should not slip into attachment
      🙂 see: https://midsentencerevelation.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/on-the-radical-notion-of-being-romantically-unlovable/
      And this way of approaching loveability has been better for me and has actually made me cherish  good friendships, my own alone time, a lot more
    • enjoy and cherish my own time, and the time I invest in myself🙂 🙂 🙂
    • if the situation arises, learn to accept small moments of affection without freaking out, and without necessarily seeking them out – this has been a concern this year so that’s something I may need to work on too. This was a huge concern last year, because of how I was approaching this idea. The truth is, when people say “go slow in relationships” they mean “go small” in relationships at the start. Small moments of trust building, and seeing if trust can be built, is what creates a safe emotional foundation for romantic love to blossom and be really held. I have felt love before, but that love quickly slipped into attachment 🙂 🙂 🙂 2019: and also when people change their minds, or shift their boundaries, or show you that they are pulling away, it’s ok! Let them go without anxiety. A goal for 2019 is to be on the same page as someone else no matter what the relationship is.
  • Continue trusting my knowledge, abilities, capabilities more – and invest in these more!🙂🙂
  • Feel deeper
    • No. Horrible goal. REMOVING THIS GOAL. Emotional feelfeels are not really my key to understanding the world around me – they’re nice, and they’re important, but they’re not my go-to for making my life better. At best, they give me temporary like 4-min anxiety laced cuddly feels, and at worst, they give me straight on panic attacks. No thanks. (2014)
    • update: yeah this goal sucks forever. Feelings aren’t the miracle path for everyone – but I’m leaving it here because of the ways in which people are pressured into “valuing” their feelings all the time. No. This doesn’t work for everyone!  Leaving it in to remind myself to NOT DO THIS
    • update: yeah this goal STILL sucks FOREVER. feelings are fickle and honestly, advice telling you to feel deeper probably focuses on attachment rather than observation of feelings (Dec 2017)
    • update: this goal was the worst goal of all time. Feelings are fickle, silly, and not AT ALL as worthwhile as observing feelings (2018 end)
  • Continue appreciating good friends more – and more often.🙂 I want to do this more this year, and I think I’m getting slowly better at it!
    • this includes showing care in the way they would like to receive care! 🙂
    • Continue maintaining ties with friends.🙂
    • Build a “present” practice – be present for friends
      in ways that show care, especially for those more marginalized than myself:

      • material support: cooking meals for them, helping them clean up their place, cash, 2019: this was a good goal but I don’t think I can do this very well this year due to focusing on academics
      • emotional support: being there for them when they’d like some company, recognizing that they also have a lot to offer and may be shy so open that door more
      • crisis support:
      • presents. literally. around holiday times, if I can afford it, to show my love and appreciation for having them in my life and for existing.
  • 2019: Continue to give people as many chances as feels “natural” or which meets my own internal equilibrium for an ‘even’ relationship so long as there is commitment for growth and better from both parties and so long as there appears to be something both people are bringing to the table and be open to the idea of things moving together and drifting away.
    • this used to be: “give people a second chance and no more” but I’m at a point where I can invest more in some people, gauge a situation better and with more nuance!
  • Approach people, life, and events from a “growth” model perspective🙂
    • I am focusing so much on growth these days, of my self, of relationships.

2019: AHHH I need to hardcore sit with these. I know I *DID* this last year, but I need to really get better at it. Spiritual Goals – this is a  category I decided to add last year  based on my growth from last year, and practices I’ve started to adopt. Last year came with a lot of spiritual awakenings that have bled into other areas of my life in positive ways, and I now have some clarity with how I want to pursue these goals.

  • Prioritise an attitude that centers equanimity when it comes to feelings: Value joy as much as sadness. And in so doing, recognize that feelings are fickle but not without value in telling us what our boundaries for good treatment feel like. I don’t ever have to settle for less than I deserve. 
  • Resist attachment, and focus on love. What do I mean by this? I experienced a life-changing heartbreak last year. Something in me truly died but it was a necessary death. Something in me knew that something had to change, something had to give way, something had to be burned away, and something new: stronger, fiercer, prouder, nobler had to rise from the ashes. My depression and my anxiety existed in a framework of worldly attachments to ideas of success, capability, competence. These external attachments drove a sense of self worth or lack thereof. An “A” meant I was doing well, and was worthy. Romantic love meant I was doing well and was worthy. The lack of these things meant I was not doing well, and was unworthy. All attachments are rooted in this simple idea: that what is outside you should necessarily have an impact on what is inside you. Love doesn’t do this. Love is the opposite: what is inside you will always have an impact on what is outside you. Often, after heartbreak, we feel our soft and vulnerable parts spilling out. We create an armour to hold that all in. And with each heartbreak, and blow to our self esteem, we build a stronger armour while staying wounded inside. And it’s a vicious cycle: people cannot let people in, they become guarded, more hurt, more prone to attachment than love – usually the idea that someone else can save us from ourselves. But I read something which I can unfortunately not find again (please let me know if you find it), that made a lot of sense to me: the armour should be inside. The flesh and softness should be outside. And that way, we present authenticity, love, kindness to the world, and we keep our boundaries close. Keep your “yes” close, and your “no” closer. You cannot build bridges without boundaries; bridges without boundaries are cities collapsing in on themselves. Boundaries define not just what you keep out, but what you let in. This year, I don’t want to be attached to anything. But I want to love myself and others as best as I can. With this idea, it’s easy to see that love is in a sense, attachment to a higher Self, a deeper Self, leading to deeper peace and attachment to worldly markers of prestige is always going to be dependent on the outside world.
  • Recognise that the movement of events, feelings, people is part of the flow and balance of life. Reflect on why people leave from  a non-traumatised place, and instead from a place that seeks to understand each person as moving in their own journey and through their own needs.
  • Seek to appreciate the balance; do not cling to individual feelings or people, but take note of what I am committing to, and to make it clear that that for people to stay in my life, they must also show commitment. Seeking commitment and security is not clinginess, it is kindness for everyone involved. Seeking commitment from a place of self worth rather than fear of abandonment is also not clinginess, it is a desire to foster security and love in relationships. And if that commitment to kindness and being there and growing together is there whether in relationships or friendships, then open up to vulnerability, love, trust, and friendship with equal appreciation for what all of these can bring.🙂
  • Move forward without looking back; accept the present (this goal was so important for two years running; I need to focus now on HOW to move forward in productive ways.)
  • Remember why tamasic actions, beliefs, and intent rank ignorance and indifference as much as ill-will; there is a spiritual cost to inertia
    • Do not fetishise pain, my own or others 🙂 –> I finally stopped doing this this year, after a lot of hurdles.
    • Love myself from a place of deep compassion that expects the best from myself and forgives myself when that is also not met – and love others from this place as well. 🙂
  • Sit with feelings and accept them as simply an internal storm that will pass.
    • This approach to feelings has been much more calming for me. My feelings do not define my reality any more than anything else. Feelings are fickle and do not define my core.
    • Pain can end just as quickly as joy if I let it, but peace is a more eternal joy that is accessible. If depression is eternal numbness, attachment to the world as a marker of who I should be, and an unhealthy navel gazing, serenity and joy is eternal joy of a softer kind, an appreciation of balance, and attachment to a Self that is constantly learning, growing, and Becoming
  • Work with the universe more
    • Continue being more giving, working harder, and being kinder, and receiving more 
      • Give in ways that draws on the same Source when I give to myself and which does not deplete myself; Give to myself first 
      • Focus on “L”ove and “S”elf more so than love and self.
  • Adopt a “gratitude” model 🙂
    • this prevents chasing after new experiences/goals in a way that disregards the present
    • being grateful for what I have allows me to envision a future where I will be grateful for what I have then; it is a model that respects the present
    • meet people where they are at and also take joy in the small moments of connection without expecting more while still having standards for good treatment. Take note when people suddenly shift in communication, behaviour, capacity. Check in. But there is no need for unconditional gratitude to a single person, or a single act; what is necessary is unconditional gratitude as a way of existing in relation with the world
  • Start a meditation routine 🙂 –> 2019: last year, I did adopt a meditation practice! I want to continue that
    • revisit and incorporate visualisation techniques
    • Develop a way to welcome mornings, and to invite night as a way of accepting the day and its events at the end of every night
  • Begin a spell-book/ritual book to develop routines that structure the day

Personal and Professional Development Goals: Work/School/Volunteering/

  • Continue excelling at work
    • revamp my program 🙂 –> continue to do this
    • meet and excel at work-related targets 🙂
    • build community contacts and network efficiently and strategically :)Volunteer with organizations that have similar political/social aims! (I find I do a lot more things for money tbh, and I’m ambivalent about volunteering when I have so little time – still I’ll leave these open)
    • Canadian Blood Services
    • St Michael’s Research 🙂 –> 2019 Jan: I did this last year! Currently, a project has been submitted to a conference for 2019, June. Hopefully we get it. 
    • Women’s Shelters –> Applied for a job here last year – it didn’t work out but maybe others will.
  • Study for the MCAT (I did this, but my concussion really interfered with studying last year) – aiming to write in July (I keep saying this! IT needs to happen.)
  • Apply to MPH 🙂 Done! Hopefully I get in… but who knows 🙂 And it’s ok if I don’t. The goal was to apply, so it’s met, 2019: I didn’t get in last year – maybe I will this year! I am applying again after all 🙂 )
  • save $$! – see personal budget plan, maintain budget plan from last year/improve upon it –> This is the goal I really need to expand on for 2019.
  • Tutor anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, toxicology, basic health sciences to students 🙂 (this was an unexpected goal that really took off in 2018 and 2017 that I want to continue for 2019!)
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Rejection is a Gift – Appreciate It!

Ah, rejection! It keeps you on your toes unlike anything else. I was recently sent a “thanks but no thanks; I don’t see it working out; etc etc so long farewell auf wiedersehn aideu” from someone I liked. And, it’s not the first time I’ve been rejected – in fact, I write a lot about rejection – but thankfully over the years, the writing has changed because I have changed. Loss teaches you a lot about yourself, about what you offer, what you need, what you want. It teaches you also about how you react to things you cannot control, and what you attach importance to in your life.

And, if you’re very lucky and a little clever, it can teach you a lot about love too.

A note about the title: I didn’t always find romantic rejection to be refreshing or appealing – certainly, I wasn’t always so appreciative of it. It took me a long time and a lot of self-love, self-compassion, self interest as well as compassion, empathy, and understanding for other people’s choices to get to this point. So here are some useful reminders:

  1. If you’re dating right, rejection should feel like a risk.
    What I mean by this is that rejection is always a risk when you’re interested in someone – and you should be able to feel that vulnerability. That vulnerability, safe and protected, is commitment. That vulnerability, when shared, is butterflies.  That vulnerability, when expressed to one another, is love. And when that vulnerability is not reciprocated, it’s rejection. If you are dating and aren’t particularly interested in someone, there’s no real risk to your heart at all – so you may date comfortably for a while, but you may be playing it so safe that you’re not meeting anyone that makes you feel warm fuzzy feelings.
  2. Date people who like you and who you also like. This is probably the only rule to dating. If you date people you don’t like, you experience 0 risk, but also 0 magic. Half the fun in dating, connecting, sharing, is being able to show someone how much you care about them – you won’t do that instinctively unless the connection sparks something in you. The other half is receiving the same from someone. If you are chasing after people who don’t like you, you are playing a validation/attention-seeking/low self-worth game, and that’s no fun. You have to enjoy being liked, and this is NOT the same feeling as winning someone over, or convincing someone that you are worth being liked.
  3. Rejection is a reminder that feelings can sometimes change and it’s no one’s fault, and the key to inner peace is to stay on the same page as the other person. I dated “Auf Wiedersehen” – that’s his name now, for the purposes of this blog post – and every day I checked in with myself about point 2 on this list. I felt I liked him, and I felt he liked me. I wasn’t ready to commit but I felt some sort of connection, and he also felt something. I’m still pretty sure that something existed for the time that it existed. When it began to change, I could feel the emotional distance between us and changed my pace/interest accordingly. And I checked in because it’s not always clear what is happening when that emotional distance sets in. Any number of things can be happening in anyone’s life that causes them to be distracted, not present, and aloof – it’s not always about their feelings for you. When he explicitly said he was no longer interested, it let me lose interest in him fairly quickly because our connection no longer fit with point 2.
  4.  The answer should be: Nothing. The question is: “What would/should I have done differently while knowing this person?”
    Something I realized I’d been doing in the past was taking some serious stock of my flaws after being rejected – and rightfully so, I had many characteristics that I considered to be flaws in myself, that I wanted to work on for the sake of better relationships and better connections. I’m not saying I’m “perfect” now, but in large part, I don’t think I did anything “wrong” or “unkind” in the time I knew “Auf Wiedersehen”. I was myself. I stayed true to my needs and also to my ideals of compassion and kindness. There was emotional and sexual chemistry up to a point. I didn’t feel the need to pick apart my actions, because while dating this person, I tried very hard to ensure my actions met my own, extremely well thought-out, criteria and ideals for a relationship. I acted from a place of security, interest, and of course, flirtation 😉
  5. a) Q: Did I genuinely like the person I dated? A: yes
    b) Q: Did I feel they liked me? A: yes
    c) Q: Did I enjoy who I was around them? A: yes
    d) Q: Did I modulate my behaviour based on their behaviour to ensure we were on the same page? A: yes
    e) Q: Did I ask questions to clarify the situation: A: yes
    f) Q: Was there anything else I could have done? A: no
    g) Q: Can I be on my own and love my own company? A: yes, always
    Sometimes you take a risk, and in the end, you get stung – but that doesn’t mean that taking the risk was a wrong decision in the first place. 
  6. I associate rejection with courage, because I associate life and going for what I want, with courage. Do you have any idea how many people are in relationships that are making them miserable simply because they don’t know how to live with themselves, alone? I have no need for half-relationships. I have no need for relationships that pretend at romance and which mask insecurities. I love genuine, deep connections, sharing honest moments, and being there for myself and for a potential partner — and it’s the only thing I’ll settle for.
  7. Rejection is a reminder that the people who are wrong for you will remove themselves from your life to make way for something better. Even if that “something better” is your life, on your own, it’s better than being with someone who does not want you. You are not losing anything with rejection – you are gaining a truer sense of your connection with someone. Even if that truth is “there is nothing here”, that’s a truth to be grateful for because you can work within the realm of truth. The realm of deceit, lies, suspicion, fear, anger, hate are paralyzing places to be in, emotionally. Who needs that? Not me!
  8. ***SOME ADVANCED LEVEL SHIT*** Are you ready? Who you are when rejected is who you are at your darkest core. Romantic rejection brings out your deepest darkest insecurities. It’s not necessarily your only truth, but it’s a part of you that you’d rather run from. It can even be a part of you that you hate, that you hoped would be “appreciated” by someone else, that you decide to hate even more upon being rejected. A few years ago, for me, that was a damning emotional space to be in – and it required a lot of personal growth to come out of that. It required me taking a deep compassionate look at parts of myself that I did not like very much, and make a decision about some of those parts: I had to decide if it was worth it to love those parts of myself or change those parts of myself. And once I started that journey, I never stopped doing it. Do I love this or do I change this? It became a daily, weekly, monthly, minute-to-minute question – so it’s no longer a question that comes at me, bullet-speed, when I’m rejected. It’s the work of life that I’m interested in. So, I wasn’t devastated by being rejected by Mr “Auf Wiedersehen”, despite feeling all soft and squishy and sweet around him, because it’s a question that I ask every day. I know who I am and who I want to be – and my days of a rejection changing that or influencing that in a painful way are long gone.
  9. ***SOME MORE ADVANCED SHIT*** I can genuinely continue wanting the best for someone after they’ve rejected me because my feelings of good-will are about me alone and what I offer to people. It’s not dependent on what others are doing to me or even the impact they have on me. It’s just based on what I feel is morally kind and ethically right. I like caring about people that I like or have liked. There’s nothing wrong with that so long as I don’t impose on their lives. Maintaining a healthy distance after rejection can be a part of showing care through effective boundary-setting.
  10. I value my own peace of mind above anything else – and, if I’m to be in a relationship, I want a relationship that feels like having my cake and eating it too. I want it to feel good and strong without sacrificing my inner peace, sense of self, or anything of deep and personal importance to me. I want it to feel like “me and the other person vs the problem” and never “me vs the other person”. I want it to feel so good that it feels like cheating. And the price for that? Is simply the risk of rejection.  You have to remember when you’re rejected that not everyone knows what they want, and not everyone has done the hard work of dealing with their own insecurities such that they can offer consistency and kindness while also offering vulnerability. Some people freak out when they like someone and withdraw. Others only date people who like them because it feels “safe”. Still others just want the chase and cannot actually handle being loved or liked because they are on an endless quest for validation. And sometimes? Sometimes you can have sexual chemistry, emotional compatibility, and it can still fuck up because that’s life and that’s timing – there is a degree of this left to chance, after all!
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Test

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
-Rumi

 

1. “Wonder”
To feel a sting and wonder gently
at the sharp buzzing against your hand,
the flitting away, the needle in your palm:
“I am not a flower, but
thank you for coming near,
and thinking me half petal and half nectar
all the same – for some time – how kind.”

2.”Imagination”
Toronto is drowning in poppies
an anaesthetic wave of red.
We cultivate an obsession
for numbness. We teach joy is far,
and pain is present.

3. “Hurt”
Think about the little moments
that have rubbed against you like
grains of sand from a beach on an
otherwise pleasant day:
a caustic look, a cruel word, a cutting laugh.
Think about the moments you
broke someone’s smile.

4. “Pebble”
You think you know peace, until a pebble
from the beach scrapes invisibly against
you, underfoot – and there it is,
your world reduced to pebble, skin, and steps.

Peace is the whole:
knowledge enough of the pebble
enough to appreciate the world around
it
and
you
with every step.

5. “Love”
Imagine Tantalus, under the tree, reaching for its teasing fruits, or
crawling beside the shrinking lake, the preoccupation of
thirst and hunger threading snake-like through his body
until he becomes hunger
until he becomes thirst –
a pained heart recognizes this as its
own life, says “love, love is this, love is this this is love and I know it is love”
but a peaceful heart sees this and says kindly
“this is only pain.”

6. “Peace”
A hurricane tears through a village,
its farms ravaged
crops buried under clouds, heavy
with whirlpools circling from the skies
windows, shattered and
houses, flattened,
and against the shattered landscape
a flame in a diya burns steadily
to be at peace is to be this flame

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Haunted

i am these days haunted only by a single sentence
and it is this:

I chose badly, and I may choose badly again, and not know it until it is too late.

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remember/promise

remember

how you blended into the pages of a good book

the words dissolving into your skin like

inkless tattoos all across your torso

the hallucination of a sunrise

the windless valley

the desert of sand

the war of fire

the bloodless victory

the tears of grief

the hero the villain the –

how do you run away from it all
how do you hold it all

how did you turn a book inside out and call it life

how did you take a life inside out and call it a life a body a story a mug of tea

a toothache a heartbreak a jar of faces

a meeting you meet with yourself

a meeting worth meeting

how do you do this to people now every time

you see them

you see yourself

you see them

 

one day a girl saw her whole self

held in the palm of her hand

the faces and places she’s been

the men and women she’s been

the people in between and the gods that she’ll be

the witches in the twilit sea

the violets of the mermaids and the

blood across their mouths

the hearts that she’s eaten

and those without

 

“I can talk to cats” you say.

you are serious

“really?”

“yes. all of them.”

you will die of asthma one day
an ocean of air withheld, you will
drown in the vacuum of space you
see your death a million years from now
and it is alright you have lived
a million years already
and when it happens, it will end beautifully

I promise you

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one day


i.
where the river ends and empties into the sea,
where the pebbles shift into sand,
sit among the empty shells whose creatures left
the homeless leaves, the water ghosts, the-

you are for somebody a bag of salt, spilling into the sea
somewhere, when they
glance into their pasts

those moments shift
you into a spoonful of salt
in your mouth

sit until it dissolves
sit until your words dissolve
sit until your thoughts-
until you-

ii.
hang a crescent paper moon
in a sunlit corner of your room
thin thin thin as a shadow

remember the love
that felt like a sin, sin, sin,  remember
the apple slice razor edge
of it slicing through the strings
in your voice

iii.
some questions, the brutal taste of which,
you will never forget
and which you will never again allow
in your mouth:

“Was it real?”

“Did you have feelings for me?”

“Will you miss me?”

iv.
one day,
you learn – you
– you learn about everything
unspeakably humiliating
you have done to yourself.

you are not a victim.
you are not a survivor.

you did not survive anything.

you are not who you were

and that’s ok:

no one survives life.

v.
one day,

it is enough to love

it is enough to be careful

it is enough to not be bitter

and it is alright to never have been loved

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worth it

i think i started to fall in love with the idea of love because of books. reading. the way stories wrote out that feeling. that sense of truth. sharedness. the faith in a moment. that it meant something – the same thing, to everyone in it.

then i met people.

and it’s ok mostly. i’m faithless about people but not about faith. im hopeless about people but not without hope in a general sense.

i have my life

i love myself

i think it’s asking quite a lot to feel this way about anybody else. maybe i always knew that deep down.

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Dad, What’s A Condom?

Check out my latest piece on nuance! Excerpt below; for full text, hit the link.

Children’s sexual subjectivity matters. Why are we so scared to talk about it?

Dad What's A Condom

Artwork by Maia Boakye; follow her at https://maiaboakye.com/

“Dad, what’s a condom?” I walked into the small living room of our Scarborough apartment, nine years of nonchalance in my voice. Mom was leaning on the couch behind him. Both of them were watching TV, when they turned to look at me, dumbfounded that their daughter in grade 4 was asking them this.

“Where did you hear about this?” Mom asked, carefully.

“Oh some of the older kids were talking to each other about how they found one in the field,” I said, casually.

“What field?” Dad asked. In retrospect, their relative calm must have taken enormous inner strength.

“The fieeeeld,” I said, instantly exasperated. “Like, the soccer field — for recess? At school.”

After a short pause, Dad said, “It’s a type of apartment building — like a flat, like the one we had in Delhi, where it was ours because we bought it, instead of renting. You know how we’re moving to a house next year, right? So just like that — these kids must have been talking about a condominium near the school that their family is moving to.”

“Oh ok,” I said, returning to my room.

My little experiment had provided me with an answer and a feeling of prepubescent triumph in having uncovered that my parents were not always honest. My parents had just lied to my face to avoid a conversation about sex, condoms, protection, and intercourse. They were not infallible. I could catch them off guard, and indeed just had.

The next day at school, I told a classmate his parents had definitely had sex.

“No they didn’t!” He said, vehemently shaking his head.

“Yes they did. They so did. It’s how you make babies,” I said confidently, peering up from the Robert Cormier novel I was reading.

Read More

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