My Feelings Are Valid

I have come to terms with the fact that I am not okay. Not always. I have panic attacks and I am depressed but I am dealing with it, maybe not well, but I am still here. That counts for something, right? I am allowed to feel what I am feeling. I do not need an excuse and I am allowed to cut myself some slack.

I interviewed the president of Carleton’s Student Association for Mental Health recently for a feature I’m writing (#journolife). He said, “Give yourself some credit. There is more than one type of pain.”

I am going to make that my mantra of sorts. I am living and persevering, even if I struggle and cry and stay in bed sometimes.

My feelings are valid.

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I Don’t Have An Excuse to Be Depressed

Over the course of the past 5 months my mental state has dropped shockingly fast. If I were to describe it, it would be akin to cliff-diving, throwing myself off the ledge towards the tumultuous waves beneath. I have spent months lying immobilized in my own bed, unable to drag myself to class and crying over the simplest difficulties in my every day activities.

I am a second year Journalism major at Carleton University. I am in the top program for my field in the country, accepted just before Christmas 2013 and granted a $12,000 entrance scholarship. I have a wonderful job scooping gelato and steaming milk at an adorable cafe on Bank Street. I live with one of my closest friends in a cute, if small, basement apartment a short ten minute walk from campus. I have a devoted, funny, sweet boyfriend who thinks the world of me. By all accounts, my life is wonderful. I want for nothing and balance my work/school/social life easily.

I don’t have an excuse to be depressed.

But here I am, taking 50mg of Zoloft and sobbing uncontrollably at night. I have days where I can barely sit in a lecture silently, much less tell the Starbucks cashier what drink I want.

I don’t have an excuse to be depressed.

But I’m not the only one.

I found an online journal article, a few years old, that calls me and my peers The Suffering Generation. 

I have never read anything more accurate. My generation is called lazy but I have never met a group of people that is more dedicated to pushing themselves to the limit. My friends and I work 4-5 shifts a week, go to class every single day, and churn out assignments and term papers faster than a Baby Boomer can learn to work an iPhone.

But our struggles are ignored. Our anxiety, depression, eating disorders; all of them are ignored and pushed aside. We are told we are looking for attention or simply overreacting.

“Everyone gets sad sometimes.”

“I get anxious in front of crowds, you’re probably fine.”

“God, eat a hamburger, will you?” or, alternatively, “They can’t be anorexic, look at them.”

We are not “The Me Generation” we are “The Suffering Generation” and the problem is, we’re fine until we’re not. And when we’re not, everything comes crashing down and just before we hit bottom someone invalidates our entire experience, and someone else is lost to this world.

This is avoidable. Stop putting so much pressure on university and college students to be perfect and listen to them.

People who are hurting want to talk, you just have to show them that you are willing to listen.

 

On Being Poor and Waiting for Sources: #JSchool

I check my bank account every day as if, magically or by the grace of God, I won’t be poor. Unfortunately, there’s never a miraculous source of money that fills my Savings account to bursting.

Ah, well, that’s why I’m at university, right? To get a degree which leads to a job which pays me enough I never have to buy one-ply toilet paper again. For most people, that statement is true.

I, however, am in JSchool. For any of you that don’t know, JSchool is industry jargon for Journalism school. You know, Journalism, the dying industry, the most pointless degree, the job anyone with a blog and a computer can do. Yeah, that.

I’m about halfway through my second year and I’m having doubts. Everyone does, I’m sure, but I find myself adoring my Anthropology minor far more than I enjoy my major. I’m sure that has more to do with sources not getting back to me on time and the horror that is Journalism and Public Institutions and less to do with Journalism itself.

My Fundamentals of Reporting class, for example, is a breeze. It’s fun and engaging, and my prof cares more about getting us out early so we can “go get beers” than he does about lecturing.

However, sending out email after email and getting no response, or calling organizations and getting told, very condescendingly, that they “don’t talk to real journalists, much less student ones.” It’s disheartening.

Anthropology, by contrast, is not disheartening. Anthropology is fun and allows room for opinion and speculation. Anthropology shows me cultures from within, through ethnographic writing and teeny tiny textbooks with pictures. Anthropology makes me want to put on that one coat I have with the pockets that makes me feel like Jane Goodall.

Journalism makes me want to put on a blazer. Blazers are expensive and uncomfortable, my jacket with the pockets cost me 5 pounds in Scotland and lets me breathe and holds all of my things.

“Stop complaining and switch majors then, Katrina.”

No, you don’t understand. I worked my ass off to make the first year Journalism cut-off (Carleton’s is a B+ in Journalism and a B average) and I am stubborn as all hell. I won’t be quitting anytime soon. I might not end up being a journalist. Maybe I’ll get a Masters in Anthropology, become a poor Grad student as opposed to a poor Undergrad student.

Maybe I’ll end up on the Trobriand Islands, writing for National Geographic. Best of both worlds. Maybe I’ll end up in a small town newspaper, with a dog and significant other.

Who knows?

For now, I’ll just go stare at my inbox.

Teachers and Their Impact

Teachers are wonderful people. For the most part. I’m very aware that there are some teachers who are malicious, or rude, or consider children the worst thing in the world. I know that teachers like that exist, but I also know that teachers who are kind and compassionate and lovely exist as well.

Mean teachers stay with you as stories that you tell your own children, or your university friends. Wonderful teachers stay with you as nostalgic feelings in your chest, and a lingering feeling that you are not worthless, because someone believes in you.

I have had the privilege of having many wonderful teachers. My eighth grade teacher, Ms. Vanderveen, was a wonderful, funny woman who introduced me to books that shaped my 13 year old mind. My fourth grade teacher, Ms. Gilkinson, was a kind, smiling woman that understood and cared for all of her students. My 12th grade Law teacher, Ms. Bew, remains one of the kindest women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I don’t think she ever has, or ever will, give up on a student. Two of my closest friends have teachers as mothers (you know who you are), and they are kind, compassionate women who devote their lives to caring for and adoring their students.

However, the most impactful, wonderful teacher I have ever had was my high school music teacher, Mr. Morrison. He was my music teacher for four straight years, and he retired the same year I graduated, which made me embarrassingly weepy, because no student will ever again have the pleasure of being in one of his classes. Mr. Morrison was not only a cheerful, unfailingly kind man, but he saw the good in every single person that walked into his classroom. He saw their potential and their possibility, and did not hesitate to push students in the right direction. Never once did I see him let a student give up on themselves, and the amount of times his belief in my abilities inspired me is too high for me to count.

He is a teacher I am Facebook friends with, who sometimes comments on my statuses and makes me cry with nostalgia. I do not miss high school, but if I could spend 100 years in the safe, supportive bubble of my high school music classes, I would.

So yes, teachers can be cruel, but they can also be kind and wonderful. Simply the memory of them can lift you up and remind you that someone sat down in front of your awkward, teenage self and believed in everything that you could do.

Do not discount teachers as a whole, just because you had a bad experience with a few. Teachers can be, truly, wonderful and astonishing human beings.

The “YouTube Scene”

As most people that use the Internet, I watch a lot YouTubers. And, again, like most people who watch YouTubers, I’d like to be one. I’ve been thinking about making videos of my own for years now, ever since I first started watching channels on the regular back in 2009, but I always manage to talk myself out of it. Either, I don’t have the money to buy a nice camera, or I’m too busy, or I’m not pretty/interesting/engaging enough; regardless of what the excuse is, it’s always there. Also, I’m a perfectionist, so I can’t bear even thinking about putting up a video where I stammer, or a video that doesn’t have flawless lighting, or a video where I don’t look my absolute best.

But, still, I always think about it. I started this blog because I thought that it was close enough, similar enough, to making videos that I would stop thinking about it. Turns out, I didn’t. This blog has almost made it worse, because now I know that I don’t even have a following on here, where no one can see my face, how would I get a following on YouTube?

I would love to just buy a nice camera and start making videos, but even if I did have the money (which I don’t because: tuition) I don’t think I have the courage, or the stories. The YouTubers that I watch are beautiful, interesting, or hilarious (most of the time, they’re all three) and I am none of those things. I couldn’t be a YouTuber any more than I could be a model or a rocket scientist – not that they have similar job descriptions, but you know what I mean. I’m not qualified.

And isn’t that a funny thing to say, I’m not qualified to make videos and put them on the Internet. The Internet is supposed to be a shared place of community and free will, and yet only some people are (or feel) qualified to take an active, participatory role in it. And, to some degree, that is true. There are, I’m sure, hundreds of inactive channels on YouTube with under 100 views because someone tried for awhile, and found that no one was listening, so they let abandoned it, and let it collect dust. Those people were deemed, by Internet users, to be not worth their time.

I feel that that’s what I’m most scared of. That a small group of people will watch something I make, and decide that it’s not worth their time.

January Favourites

Studying is appearing to be an uphill battle, so I’m going to ignore the midterm that I have looming on my horizon (it’s in 4 hours, oops) and write a blog post instead. I haven’t written one of these before, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

January Favourites

These aren’t in any specific category, they’re just a collection of things that I’ve found myself liking over the month of January. (I am by no means a beauty blogger, so, if you’re just here for that, leave now.)

  1. Nars Creamy ConcealerHoly crap, guys. This concealer is quickly becoming my holy grail concealer. I know it’s expensive, and that’s it’s totally overpriced, but it’s so fantastic that I can (just) keep myself from crying when I buy it. It has amazing coverage, good colour selection, and doesn’t do that awful thing where it goes weird and patchy over your acne.
  2. X-Men: Primer (trilogy): I have waited for a female-led X-Men trade for so damn long. When I saw this I knew I had to buy it, and can I just say that it’s perfect in every way? I may be a bit biased because I love Kitty Pryde and she features heavily but, regardless, if you’re a fan of the X-Men ladies, pick this up.
  3. TeeFury: This is a whole website, but I can’t recommend it enough. Their t-shirts are so soft and, if you get them on the first day they’re available, super cheap. They have a plethora of nerdy awesomeness available and it’s a perfect place to go for gifts (for you or for other people, doesn’t matter).
  4. Forever 21 Jeans: I’m probably late to the bandwagon with this one, but I had no idea that Forever 21 had such nice jeans. They’re really cheap (like $9.90) and are actually pretty well-made. I was (miraculoulsy) able to find a pair that fit my short legs and wide hips perfectly and was able to buy two pairs for $20. I am amazed.
  5. Sirens Leggings: Again. No idea that Sirens had nice, cheap leggings. They were like $6, I’m elated.

Oddly enough, that’s all I can think of right now. I’ll add more to this list if I remember anything else. In the meantime, I have to continue studying for my midterm.

Cheers, Kat.

Frosh Week: Misconceptions

I just finished my first semester of university (yay!), and thought I’d pass on some very useful knowledge. No one told me these things before I embarked on the new journey that is university and, looking back, they’re important things to know!

  1. If You Don’t Go to Frosh Week, You Won’t Make Any Friends

That is 100% untrue. Nothing has ever been less accurate. Sure, during frosh week, you meet a lot of people, and some of them do turn out to be good friends. But that doesn’t mean that if you choose to not participate, you’re not going to make any friends. I had very pushy frosh facilitators banging on my door every morning, insisting that I go to the activities of the day and “make friends for life”. Spoiler, I skipped a lot of the frosh activities, even though I paid for it. Oops. However, I still have many great friends, and have a perfectly active social life.

  1. You Should Sign Up For Every Club

Don’t. Don’t sign up for every club. I promise, half of them you won’t attend a single meeting, but will feel too guilty to ask them to remove your email from their list, or stop sending you Facebook messages. If there’s something you know you will enjoy, however, then totally join. If you’ve done choir your whole life and the Glee Club has a really awesome director, then do it. If you’re really into sports, and you think that you’ll have time to join the football team, then do it. But, don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Remember that your first year is going to be very busy and it might get overwhelming having all of those clubs and groups hanging out in your inbox.

  1. Frosh Week Is The Best Week of The Year

False. Sure, it’s better than finals week, but it’s not the best one. Don’t create extreme standards for frosh, and then spend the rest of the year moping that you actually have to do schoolwork.

  1. You’re Lame If You Don’t Party During Frosh Week

Also false. If you’re not the partying type, and you’d rather go to bed early, or hang out with a small group and watch TV, then do that. Don’t force yourself into social situations that will make you uncomfortable or anxious. That’s not to say don’t do anything social at all, but don’t force yourself into doing something that you know you’ll hate.

  1. You’re Lame If You Don’t Get Drunk During Frosh Week

See # 4.

So, my biggest tip for everyone that’s going to be entering university next year? Be yourself, have fun, and don’t be afraid to talk to people. Introduce yourself to everyone you meet; you’re going to make so many friends and meet so many people that you won’t even remember everyone. Don’t worry about what everyone around you is thinking about you; just do whatever makes you comfortable. Chances are, they either could not care less about what you’re doing, or are too worried about what you’re thinking, that they don’t even know what’s happening.

Just have fun, and enjoy frosh week, whether that means going to a different party every night, or turning in early after a phone call home. Be safe, and have fun!

Sunday Snippet #2: The Death of the Forest

The forest was sick. It was oozing disease and decay. The trees were rotting, the grass was browning, the river was drying up; the forest was dying. There weren’t any physicians that specialized in foliage, in the Earth itself, so the people of Mornesse had to watch as their livelihood died. All trees but the Goddess’ Tree, colossal and immortal, were withering and oozing sickness. The Goddess’ Tree was the tallest point for miles, stretching up so far that the very tips of its branches disappeared into a thin layer of wispy, white clouds.

“Holiday Cheer”

I don’t know exactly how to define Holiday Cheer, but I have it. It has infected me with its tinsel, its fairy lights, and its heaps of snow. I am extremely excited to be done with finals so that I can get home to my cat, and to the buttercake (a Dutch dessert that I don’t know the Dutch word for) that my mother and I make every year. And, of course, the tree. I cannot wait for Christmas.

What gets you guys in the Christmas (or other holiday) mood? Are there any special foods that you only eat near the holidays? Let me know!

p.s. Here‘s a beautiful cover of Santa Baby by Daniela Andrade that really got me in the mood! 🙂

Cheers,

Kat

Merry December!

It’s the 1st of December, which means the holidays are coming up! I don’t know what holidays all of you celebrate, but I hope whether it’s Christmas or Hanukkah you’re celebrating, it’s fantastic.

What holidays do you guys celebrate? What’s your favourite part of it? Do you have snow where you live, yet? Comment below! 🙂

Cheers, Kat.