Breaking: It’s May And I Still Haven’t Given Up On My New Year’s Resolution

Full disclosure, I’m not the best at follow-through. I forget to text people back, I’m awful at replying to emails, and I’m constantly giving up on tasks that aren’t immediately easy. Not surprisingly, my New Year’s resolutions usually go the way of my unanswered texts and emails and failed tasks.

Most years, my resolutions end up being fairly cliché ones: drink more water, eat healthier, actually utilise my gym membership, go to all my lectures—you get the idea. Perhaps I’ve failed at most of them because subconsciously I don’t really want to achieve them; I have no impetus or particular motivation to stick to them. Or maybe it’s because they’ve all been focused on extrinsic things. That’s why this year I decided to indulge in a little bit of introspection to find something that I genuinely, truly wanted to change about myself.

Of course, I’m far from perfect, so I had a lot of less-than-ideal attributes to choose from. I need to be more patient, more conscientious of my surroundings, more environmentally-aware, less selfish; the slightly embarrassing and very confronting list is as long as Santa’s naughty list (which, after this introspection, I’ve decided I’m more than likely a part of). But the one thing that I’d been noticing increasingly over the previous few months was how pessimistic I’d become.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a totally glass-half-full kind of girl. I’m not the first to find a silver lining or to look on the bright side of a situation. My motto has always been “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed”; I’m my father’s daughter in that way (and in most other ways, too). While that was a pretty fail-safe outlook—I was rarely surprised when things didn’t work out for me—it also cast a very dark cloud over my life. I was always anticipating things going wrong; so much so that when something went right, I couldn’t even enjoy it because I was so busy wondering when the other shoe would drop.

So there it was. I decided I would be more positive. No more expecting the worst. No more anticipating failure. The funniest part was that once I had settled on my resolution, my first thought was, “I wonder how long this will last before I give up”. It took effort to push that out of my head and tell myself I could do this.

I’m proud to announce that I’m still sticking to my resolution. It’s not quite halfway through 2018 yet, but this is probably the longest I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution. And let me tell you, it has worked wonders in my life.

I started by encouraging myself when I felt like I couldn’t do something. I forced myself to go places and do things I didn’t particularly want to go to or do. I made sure I was speaking more positively about others as well as about myself; it’s made me feel good about those around me and my relationships with them, and also about myself. I put a real effort into consistently building up myself and everyone around me. It has made me infinitely more confident and optimistic.

I’ve come to realise that my pessimism was preventing me from achieving so much. There were tons of things that I wouldn’t even attempt because I thought I would fail or because “what’s the point anyway? I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?”. In the past few months I’ve become more conscious of my environment and of those less fortunate than I am. I understand now that although I’m just one person amongst billions, my actions have impact and can create change in the world, even if that change is small.

My newfound positivity has made me more patient and empathetic toward others and myself. I’ve learned the difference between “thank you” and “sorry”. I used to apologise for everything—I assumed I was being a burden on those around me. Now I realise that although I sometimes need to apologise for something I’ve done—”sorry for making you do this for me”—other times I need not apologise for my actions, but instead thank someone for theirs—”thank you for helping me do this”.

I’ve even noticed physical changes! I sleep better, my skin is clearer, I get fewer headaches (they used to be as frequent as twice daily), and I have more energy. I find it easier to interact with people I’ve never met and I’m more receptive to others reaching out to me.

In sum, a seemingly small adjustment of my outlook has created positive changes in pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m blown away by the massive turnaround I’ve experienced. The good news? You don’t have to wait until 2019 to do a little self-renovation.

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21 Lessons In 21 Years

As my 21st birthday looms in the near future, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this post. Part of me thinks that this type of post is tired and fairly cliché; the other part of me secretly loves this type of post, because not only does it tell you so much about the person who wrote it, it can also teach you something about yourself.

So, perhaps against my better judgement, here goes: 21 lessons I’ve learned in my 21 years.

  1. Fake it ’til you make it. This one was basically my motto throughout high school. I struggled pretty heavily with depression, body dysmorphic disorder, and a slew of other self-confidence-related issues. I was terrified of people finding out, so I basically faked confidence and self-love. I pretended I loved the way I looked and I fully believe that faking it for so long is what helped me eventually love myself for real.
  2. Take it one step at a time—for when the goals you’ve set for yourself seem overwhelming and unachievable.
  3. You only have to do something outside of your comfort zone once; after that, it becomes part of your comfort zone.
  4. If it’s scary, but you know deep down that you should do it: DO IT.
  5. “Learn who to be patient with and who to cut out. This is a big part of adulthood.”
  6. Pray. Pray. Pray. Don’t stop.
  7. Get involved in as many things as you can. Force yourself to be friendly, welcoming, and active in your community, even when it isn’t particularly convenient for you. You will not regret this.
  8. Your time and energy are important—don’t waste them on puny people.
  9. Life’s a party. Dress like it, dance like it.
  10. Words are art, too.
  11. It’s your body. Your choices regarding your body are valid and only yours to make.
  12. You can choose family. Family doesn’t only include those you’re related to by blood.
  13. Put yourself out for the people who deserve it. It’s easy to be there for someone when it’s convenient, but true love sometimes means inconveniencing yourself for someone else.
  14. Learn how to discuss; not just argue.
  15. You can change your body if you want, but learn to love it at any size or shape; it’s the only one you have.
  16. Don’t settle for anyone who makes you feel like your existence is an inconvenience. Someone out there can’t wait to love you and show you off. Wait for that person.
  17. Don’t give anyone a reason to say anything bad about you.
  18. Dwell on your mistake long enough to learn from it; then leave the past in the past.
  19. Forgive. The hardest thing in the world to do is forgiving someone who never asked for your forgiveness. It’s also the most freeing.
  20. Be nice to EVERYONE, even those you don’t like. Kill people with kindness. You’ll never feel bad about making people feel good.
  21. We can love because He first loved us. Once you’ve experienced perfect love, it’s hard not to spread love to others.

I Left My Heart in Firenze

If you know me (or just follow me on social media), you’ll know that I spent the last month studying at the European Institute of Design in Florence, Italy. I’ve met so many amazing people, visited new and exciting places, learned all about the fashion history of Italy and how it connects to today’s media culture, and eaten SO much pizza and pasta.

So now, with my final piece of actual Italian pizza sitting next to me, let me share with you some of my newly-found wisdom.

I missed home. A lot.

Obviously I had anticipated being homesick, but you just don’t really get it until you experience it. Maybe it was the lack of my mum’s home-cooked dinners, or not having a fridge, or it could’ve been the fact that my single bed was too short and my feet stuck out off the end. Things that wouldn’t seem like a big deal at home felt like the end of the world when I was halfway across the globe. I wasn’t homesick everyday, of course, but when I was, I was.

But I found that cooping myself up in my room and watching Netflix all day (and I mean all day) was less of an antidote and more of a perpetuator. Getting outside, taking a walk, seeing some new sights (or revisiting some old ones), hanging out with friends, and going out to eat was truly the best cure for homesickness, as hard as it was to motivate myself to do those things.

The best places aren’t found on TripAdvisor.

Sometimes it’s good to have a plan. Taking a step outside your hotel and wandering around for 3 hours isn’t always the best way to find a place for dinner or a grocery store or a museum. But every now and then, it is. It’s definitely daunting being in a new city with unfamiliar streets and restaurants and ways of doing things. But some of the best places we found were completely accidental. Here’s a recommendation: if you’re ever in Florence, Simbiosi is an absolute MUST for pasta.

Simbiosi

We set out one night to eat at a restaurant on the same street as Simbiosi (via de Ginori, in case you’re wondering), but found that the restaurant that we had intended to go was closed. We kept walking along the street, willing to go into the next place that was serving food—it happened to be Simbiosi. As soon as we walked in, the smell of garlic hit me square in the face (in the best way possible, of course). The decor and music were to die for. But the pasta was the real icing on the cake. Let me tell you one thing—any place with more than just one or two vegetarian/vegan options is a win in my book. This place had about five! And all of them were just as incredible as each other; the dessert that comes after (or before, if that’s your thing) is just as amazing.

Restaurants, cafes, boutiques, lookouts over the city, and even quaint little flower shops often can’t be found on Yelp or TripAdvisor. Venture out of your room, pick a direction, and just start walking.

The sweetest lady and her flower shop that I passed everyday on the way to uni. It was open everyday without fail, during sunshine or rain!

Florence eats shoes.

I knew I’d be walking a lot in Florence, but at the same time I really had no idea. My footwear options were limited since I went for style over comfort while packing. I took 2 pairs of heeled ankle boots, a pair of tall heeled boots, and my Adidas Superstars. By the end of the first week, my brown ankle boots looked about 5 years older than they had looked at the beginning of my trip. My black leather ankle boots had the sole detaching from the rest of the shoe by the time it came to pack for home. The Superstars were comfortable, but really—did I want to be wearing runners with every outfit? And do not even get me started on the tall heeled boots. Florence was not made for high heels—explain yourself, Salvatore Ferragamo. My advice for packing shoes for winter in Florence? Pack COMFORTABLE, flat, shoes that you can still rock with almost any outfit. Flat boots or loafers are ideal.

Travel, travel, travel!

When I first arrived in Florence, I didn’t really have any further travel plans. Since we had class everyday, we only had a couple of weekends available to see new places. But what’s the point of being in Europe for a whole month and staying in just one spot? So we decided we wanted to dedicate our weekends to seeing Italy. Our first trip was to Pisa. It was a quick 45 minutes on the train and tickets were cheap, so why not? As it turns out, Pisa’s only real attraction is the leaning tower. Other than that, there are souvenir markets and Italian restaurants—just like in the rest of Italy; plus, the day we picked was absolutely freezing. But despite those things, the entire trip only took us about 6 hours and it was well worth it.

The second trip we took was to Venice. Visiting Venice (and riding on a gondola!) has always been on my bucket list; despite having been to Italy a couple of times before, I never made my way there. We did this on our final Sunday in Italy so that we could catch a glimpse of Carnevale, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect way to wrap up our trip. After the 2-hour train ride, we wandered the winding streets, trying on masks and wigs and admiring the intricate hand-blown glass baubles and knick knacks. We were surrounded by people dressed up in amazing costumes and elaborate masks. Finally we found ourselves in Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square. It was filled with confetti and tourists and people celebrating Carnevale. From la Piazza, we made our way to a quaint little pasta restaurant tucked into one of the streets and ate the most amazing pasta. After lunch, I finally got to check “gondola ride in Venice” off my bucket list! It was foggy and cold and amazing. Even though we didn’t get time to make it to everything we wanted to, the whole day was everything I imagined and more.