Category

Wellness

Category

staying healthy in college

Sleep, eat and exercise. Three simple things, yet when life’s demands get in the way, it’s easy to push these things aside. But for me, these three things are non-negotiable. As someone who fusses over the smallest things, mulls over assignments and stresses about school work easily, I have learned to prioritize my health. I may not always be able to control my emotions or how I react to particular situations, but I can control my lifestyle. By controlling the physical aspects of my health, I am also helping keep myself mentally and emotionally sane.  Now that I’m in college, it’s easy to fall into the temptations of social pressure and delicious food places that surround me. But, as my life has gotten more regular and stable, so have my habits. This is what I *normally* do to keep that up:

Sleep. I need at least 7 hours of sleep each night to function like a normal person – ideally 8-9, so I go to bed between 11pm-12:30am, and wake up around 7:30-8:30 every day. All my classes start in the morning and end early afternoon, so it’s crucial that I wake up feeling rested in order to be able to focus well.

I often find myself in need of a mid-afternoon nap. I combat this by letting myself take a nap, for ideally 30 minutes. Even though power naps can help you focus better, they can also be dangerous. Over-napping is a real thing, and it’s an awful feeling waking up from a nap and seeing that it’s already dark outside. So other times, I drink coffee during lunch if I have the stomach for it; however, it’s not always the most efficient option for me, and personally I would rather not grow ‘dependent’ on it.

So, the best way to combat this is by actually getting quality hours of sleep at night, and finding other activities to prevent me from falling prey of z’s, such as taking a walk after lunch before heading back home to do work, doing some light exercising to increase blood flow, or just pausing from whatever task I’m doing lest I grow even wearier.

Eat. I live in my college dorm, which comes with a meal plan, so I eat most of my meals at the school dining halls. The tricky thing about this is that all the dining halls are all-you-can-eat, so it’s easy to overindulge in foods when you’re really hungry or stressed about work. So this is what I’ve been doing:

  • Breakfast: I make porridge with milk and granola (or just milk with cereal), paired with a fruit (usually a banana) that I eat later in between my classes. About once a week, I have a full meal at the dining hall with eggs, pastries, and bagels (and other yummy food).
  • Lunch: I am hungriest at this time of the day, so I eat at the dining hall and get most of my nutrients of the day: veggies, eggs, some meat, sometimes a bagel (if I haven’t had it for breakfast) and coffee.
  • Dinner: Sometimes I buy a wheat wrap with chicken and veggies from the school’s food cafe/market. If I’m not too hungry, I have milk with cereal, coupled with a fruit and/or a pastry that I brought home from the dining hall.
  • Snacks: I have a big Kirkland Mixed Nuts jar sitting on my desk, and I snack on it every time I crave something. I also take small packs of nuts or granola bars in my backpack in case I get hungry in between classes. I also have chocolate, sometimes cookies and other not-so-good snacks lying around in my room. The way I control my intake of these snacks is by limiting myself from buying such snacks to 1-2 times a month.

One thing to note is that because I’m living in my college dorm, I can’t really cook. My meal plan allows me to have 10 meals a week, but because I’ve used part of the meal points to buy groceries (milk, cereal, and other foods), I have started to ration my meals so I have enough points till the end of the semester. I make my breakfast most days and don’t eat at the dining hall for dinner (when it’s the most expensive), but I always make sure I eat there for lunch to get my nutrients of the day.

Even though campus is surrounded by myriads of food places, I don’t eat out by myself that much. Lately I’ve been eating out about once a week, and if I eat out it’s usually with someone else or to treat myself. I spend money on groceries, because I believe that eating well is worth every penny, but I don’t think eating out is that worthwhile, especially as most restaurants (and even the dining halls themselves) don’t offer the healthiest food options.

Exercise. This is where I like to have the most fun in. I like to mix exercising with sports, so I joined my uni’s recreational figure skating team at the start of the year. Besides that, what I have been doing on my own is explore the exercise opportunities that I can do. As a student at my university, I get free access to the gym – including the myriads of cardio, strength-training and other group classes that it offers. Lately, I’ve been very into power yoga, which I do about 2-3 times a week. On other days, I like to combine nature with exercising, so I go hiking or for a run. I don’t exactly live in the safest neighborhood, so I can’t really go that far, but I can go far enough.


All these three things are bound together: if you sleep well, you will eat well, and you will exercise well. If you fail on sleep, you will need to compensate it with a nap during the day, depriving you of your exercise-time. If you don’t eat well, you will most likely not have the energy to do things as well, such as exercising. If you don’t exercise, I find that it makes it harder for me to sleep at a consistent time every day, thus disrupting my sleep cycle.

I was down with a cold for nearly 2 months since the start of the Fall semester, and it most definitely took a toll on my performance. There were some weeks in which my cough prevented me from falling asleep peacefully at night, or I coughed so much during class that I found myself not able to speak up when I had something to say, or not being able to breathe normally because my nose was so clogged up. I would come home from school tired and beat. This persistent told made me realize that I have a weak immune system, so it’s even more important that I take care of the aspects of my health that I do have control over. Stress, anxiety and other worries affect my immune system, but if I take control over my lifestyle, I will be able to manage my health much better.

This just comes to show that we each have different needs, strengths and weaknesses that are individual to each of us. I’m prone to getting cold (and getting a cold) easily, which means that I have to pay special attention to how I take care of myself accordingly. Understanding what your body needs and finding your own balance is the key to keeping you healthy.

-Michelle

blissful morning walks

I love when the sun rises early in the morning, and sets late at night, making the days seem longer and fuller. I enjoy walking out of my building and being greeted by the sunlight, even when it sometimes greets me too fiercely. I particularly relish my weekend morning walks around other parts of the neighborhood that I don’t normally pass by during the week. I love how the college dorms here are not inside campus, but rather in the areas surrounding it; it gives me the freedom to explore other parts of this town-like place, and it allows me to take these blissful morning walks. I am someone who believes in enjoying the small things in life, especially when nature is part of it. Taking a walk is the simplest way to wind down from the frenzy of life that surrounds us each day.

Taking a walk means challenging life’s demands. When I find that I’m overwhelmed by the demands of life, I make a conscious effort to walk in the places where nature is my surrounding company. It reminds me that I can choose to either rush my day to get as many things done as possible, or do a few things with thoughtful consideration without overstimulating myself. The world won’t end regardless of how much I squeeze into one day, so I might as well choose to spend it in the best way possible for me.

Taking a walk means doing something for yourself. By yourself. We easily spend so much time stimulating our senses artificially  that we deprive us of true alone time. We listen to music on our phones whilst we type away on our laptops, we watch videos or read articles online when we’re bored, we text people while we walk. Whenever we’re not interacting with others one-on-one, we fill our voids with the immediate stimulation that our devices can offer. But when we do this, we lose being in the company of ourselves. Taking a walk means listening to your footsteps, looking at the path in front of you, and noticing the details that surrounds you. Though I often feel like distracting myself with a good movie or burying my head in a book, it’s good to ground oneself back to reality at the end of the day.

Taking a walk means noticing our surroundings with a childlike curiosity. There are increasingly more places to see, cities to travel, and adventures to have. It’s always fascinating to go on a roadtrip adventure or visit an exotic place, as it’s literally an escape from our more mundane reality. It’s fun and important to travel somewhere where the culture and reality is different to that of your own, as it’s a valuable experience in itself. But it’s also important to remember that the things that surround us every day can be just as special. You don’t need to travel long distances to find novelty; you can find it exactly where you are right now, if you choose to do so.

I believe that it’s important to accept this before you decide to go out and explore more. It’s important to accept this because only then can you see everything that surrounds you with curiosity, not just the grand exotic places. It’s important to appreciate the richness in all the big and small things.

So, take a walk around your area, but take a different path this time. What story are behind the homes that you see? How do you feel, walking along a calm residential area as opposed to a busy city street? What sounds do you hear – are they human, animal or nature sounds? Welcome any thoughts that come into your mind as you walk along.

-Michelle

I ran 10k for the first time and I liked it

I am not a runner, and have never run 10 kilometers consecutively before signing up for this 10k race. My body had always given in after 5, 6 or at most around 8 kilometers. But then something interesting happened on the day of this event.

If you’ve ever run a few kilometers/miles long, you would know that the first part of the run can oftentimes be the hardest. Your body is just warming up, your feet are getting used to the speed, and your heart is still adjusting to the new pace. For me, those first few hundred steps are always unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

On the day of the race, I was not feeling my best self. My legs were a little sore from the previous day’s workout, and my stomach was jittery with nerves. Unsurprisingly, the first half of the race was gruesome; I was counting the kilometers as I passed each marker and thinking to myself, “I won’t be able to make it” over and over again. Having my dad run alongside me – motivating me each step of the way – was very helpful as always, but it couldn’t ease the discomfort that had already taken over my body.

My iPod decided to go dead nearly halfway through the race – something that has never happened before. I gave up trying to revive it after a while, and this surprisingly made my run more… bearable. I had prepared a pumping music playlist specially for this day, but I realized that I was actually better off without it.

Running is usually such a lonesome activity, and I usually rely on music as my companion. But having thousands of people running behind, beside and in front of me was the best companion of that day. Yes, I could hear people’s steps akin to the sound of fat raindrops – incessant, notorious and all around me. Occasionally, we would pass by someone gasping heavily for air, and at several points we were in par with a guy whose keys jingled exasperatingly in his pocket.

But that didn’t matter. We were, after all, in this together. The people in front of me were the ones showing me the way; those beside me kept me company and urged me along; the ones behind showed me how far I had come, pushing me to keep on going. This was enough motivation to keep me going, regardless of how slow my pace was.

But something curious then happened after hitting the 5k mark: I started gaining momentum. It was as if my body had rejuvenated itself, and I found myself running more vigorously than before. My breathing came under control, my steps became wider, and I felt stronger. Like I said before – I am not a regular runner, so I don’t know what exactly happened at that moment. Basic research on the internet tells me that I might have experienced what is called a runner’s high – a rush of endorphin. It was a great feeling that spread all over my body physically and emotionally, enabling me to get a glimpse of why long-distance runners do what they do.

The feeling of power and control over your own body. The sense of accomplishment even before you finish the task. The genuine pleasure that comes from inside you while you’re still running, your mind free from any burden. You hardly get these feelings of triumph while doing other (healthy) activities.

I have never experienced this in any cardio exercise before, because I have never challenged myself to such extent. I am curious to see whether my runner’s high will continue to kick in the next time that I run the same distance, or how it will change as I (hopefully) run longer distances. As for other sports, it’ll be interesting to see if this ‘high’ happens too!

-Michelle

how to recover from a burnout

BURNOUT: physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

We are all familiar with this. That moment when… anything and everything seems to be too much all at once. When you just want to shut the world down, and make everything stop. When you’re no longer stressed, but on the verge of falling apart. When you lose that drive and sense of motivation that you used to have.

I have experienced my definition of high stress, social anxiety, and demotivation for short periods at a time. I don’t think I’ve actually experienced burnout to the point of being unable to go back to work, unless it was due to some external reason. However, I do have a few methods, that I have used myself, to help you recover from any form of short-term burnout (if you experience a heavy, long-term burnout, please consult a professional):

1. Schedule time for yourself.

Turn off the notifications in your phone, stop checking social media, and let the emails go. One cannot truly relax if one is constantly being interrupted by things as distracting as Facebook, Instagram, and emails. You live in the now, in the present moment, not in the pictures that random people post on Facebook, nor the chaos in the news nowadays.

Acknowledge it, value it, live it.

2. Do something creative

Whenever I delve into something fun, like practicing brush lettering, taking pictures, or even just journaling, it feels therapeutic. I put on some soothing music, and it becomes me and my art. It allows me to recharge creatively and lose myself in the beauty of it for a while.

Simply choose something that you consider fun, creative, simple and relaxing. For me, it usually has to do with some form of pen and/or paper. I love journaling, planning, brush lettering, doodling and painting in a coloring book. It’s easy and soothing, and it gets me going.

3. Get out.

This one never fails me. Whenever I feel stuck, stressed, and even on the verge of a breakdown, I force myself to go out if I can muster the energy to do so. I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood surrounded by parks, and that’s where I go. Not somewhere crowded with people talking; just nature, people walking with their doors, and cars passing by.

Nature, besides it being there to allow us to live, is the best natural form of therapy. It will allow you to breathe in the fresh, fresh air. Let you slow down for a bit, and enjoy your view as it is. Get you up and walking, without going anywhere in particular.

4. Get active.

Following #3, once you’re outside – take it to the next step! You could start by walking or jogging, or skating, or biking, or taking your pet for an afternoon together. Make it an event. Get your body moving and your blood pumping. You will have to focus on your task at hand and, consequently, get your mind off your work. Your body will also automatically release endorphins, which will inevitably relieve you of the stress you were experiencing, and make you feel much, much better overall.

You can get active by going out for a simple activity like the ones named before – walking, jogging, biking, etc. or by signing up for a class that you’ll have to go a few times a week. I do both, so I get my dose of endorphins pretty much everyday – whether I feel like it or not – and always end the day feeling sore, but refreshed.

5. Get your zzz’s.

I know, I know. There is not enough time to sleep. But there is if you make it a priority. I prioritize sleep because:

  • It allows me to perform hours of productive and concentrated work everyday; if I don’t, I end up spending twice as much time in each task and accomplishing half as much.
  • I maintain my body’s health and weight by doing so; if I don’t, I end up eating more than necessary, oftentimes caffeinated products or just food my body doesn’t need. Your body should not be dependent or coffee or any other food at all if you get your sleep.
  • I love to wake up early. I’m not an early bird, but I can wake up relatively early if I sleep at a proper time, and a consistent schedule is what allows me to be the best version of myself every day.

This is also key to prevent oversleeping, which will most likely depress you even more, as you’ll feel like you’re sleeping your life away. In order to take care of your body, maintain your health and recover from a day of work, is to sleep no more than necessary. Lie in bed for a while after waking up, but don’t fall asleep again if you’ve slept enough, or you’ll wake up more restless than before.


Lastly, forgive yourself if things don’t go your way. I cannot reiterate this enough. More often than not, your day will not go as planned. When that happens, acknowledge your mistakes, forgive yourself, and move on. It will all be alright at the end.

-Michelle

on keeping a journal

I think what makes a journal so precious is that no one sees it besides yourself. Sure, you can show it to others, but most of the time only you see it. You can write as trashy or as beautifully as you like, as badly or as neatly as you want, and doodle as horridly or artistically as you feel like – no one cares. This kind of liberation encourages me to find the purpose of writing when absolutely no one knows that I’m doing it. No one cares, but me.

The hard thing for many of us is being consistent with this task. I have had myriads of journals ever since i was young, from store-bought pretty diaries to online secret blogs, and for many years I failed to keep it up. Last year, however, I decided to pick it up again, and I haven’t stopped ever since. I journal at least 5 days a week (unless I’m traveling), and… it’s part of my life now.

After exploring different kinds of journaling, I have stuck with 2 ‘types’ so far:

  • 5 minute journaling: I spend about 1-2 minutes each morning to do this, and I’ve freed myself from doing it at night as I find it redundant.
  •  morning pages: I basically write whatever comes to my mind on my Hobonichi Cousin daily spread. I don’t write 3 pages – just enough to get my thoughts flowing.

As you can see, I’ve taken 2 popular types of journaling and tweaked them to my best interest, enabling me to journal because I want to, and not for the sake of it. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from journaling:

1. On lasting habits and self-discipline.

Making journaling become part of my morning routine has forced me to look at it as part of my everyday life. I’ve reached the point in which, even if I stop journaling for a few weeks due to external factors, I can get right back to it in no time. I feel that establishing a habit goes hand-in-hand with self-discipline, as it’s something that only you can reinforce. The benefits of journaling can only be felt after a period of time – just like many other habits – and if you can muster the energy to do it every morning knowing why you do it, I believe that you have learned to form a habit through self-discipline.

2. On mindfulness and emotional support.

There’s a certain sense of… freedom when you write without a structure. When you just let your thoughts materialize in paper. It has helped me solidify my troubling thoughts, and spark ideas that may have been buried inside me. As an introvert, I often ponder about things on my own, and having an outlet in which no one can judge me for it is very refreshing.

Additionally, by writing about stressful events, issues or problems that I have, I give myself the opportunity to step away from the event and reflect upon it more externally. The relief of passing my burden to writing, and reflecting upon it more calmly is a emotional support (for me, at least) in itself.

3. On your handwriting.

Journaling has also made me more conscious of how I present my writing. I’ve started to pay more attention to the type of pens that suit me best (gel pens, with tips no more than 0.4mm). Mainly, though, it allows me to practice my handwriting daily. Print or cursive. Calligraphy. Decorating writing. Any kind that I want. And though this is a more superficial point, it’s a small detail that adds to the perks of journaling.

4. On creativity.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since last year, i that creativity harness growth and development. I hate doing things the mundane and rigid ways. I love routines, but I love making them my own. I love creating, tweaking and thinking about different ways to do things, because only then can I do them on my own volition.

It’s very important to do things, including journaling, because you genuinely want to do it. Not for any external factor other than the one that exists within you. I believe this is key to sustain any habit or activity that you wish to do in the long term, as only then can you pull through even if obstacles stand in your way. Only then can you use your creativity to make this activity yours, and yours only.

Good luck!

-Michelle

alone in a crowd | daily thoughts

We’ve all been there. When you’re invited to some reunion or party and think about it excitedly for days, only for the day to come and be disappointed by the outcome.

More often than not, I end up feeling left out when I’m hanging with a bunch of people. Naturally as a shy introvert, I feel much more comfortable interacting in one-on-one conversations or even small groups. But when there’s a crowd, I kind of just drift away into the background.

I try to start and join conversations, of course; but they often end up being meaningless chatter or gossip that I’m simply not interested in. That’s what I like to make myself believe. Oftentimes, however, I feel that my inability to interact comfortably with my friendly acquaintances is the actually inhibitor in these events.

For most of high school, I felt like I needed to be a part of these social ‘groups’ and be one of those people that manage school and social life evenly. But as much as I tried, it always felt off. I almost never enjoyed myself at the parties, and often felt like I could have spent a much better time doing my own things at home. It wasn’t until senior year that I realized where this ‘need’ came from: I wasn’t trying to fit in because I wanted to be a sociable person; I wanted to fit in because of FOMO. I didn’t want to be that girl who never shows up at events, who misses out on that awesome thing that happened last night, who doesn’t get invited to events. But I wasn’t that girl.

The group of people in front of her was jovial and paid her no attention. The group behind was much the same. She was alone without being alone.

I believe that our social lives are essential in our emotional and overall wellbeing. It’s important. But we all deal with it differently. In my case, I don’t need nor want to hang around so many people I’m not close with. As of right now, I have two people whom I can call my best friends. I don’t see neither very often (actually, I haven’t seen one of them since 2012 when she moved to another country), but I invest as much as I can into maintaining our friendship. They keep me happy and socially busy, and that’s more than enough.

As of my other friends (or friendly acquaintances), I see them every once in a while in these reunions/parties. We graduated from school a year ago, so the only times that I get to see them are in these events. And it’s great, because it gives us the needed time to catch up with each other. But I don’t try to hang out with them more than that because, to me, it’s pointless. I would go back to being the person I used to be: a girl struggling to fit in with a social crowd that she doesn’t highly enjoy being with.

Ultimately, the most important thing is that you know what you want; if you can do that, then the temptations of peer pressure will not be enough to lure you in. You will do as you believe is best for you, and nothing less than that. Obviously, it’s not as simple as it sounds, and I imagine I will continue struggling with this issue once I’m in college and/or other groups, but at least I have made a first step in recognizing my behavior within the school environment.

We’ve all been alone in a crowd. But we don’t have to be anymore.

-Michelle

a productive morning routine

Mornings are my sacred time. I love waking up early and spending a couple of hours nourishing my mind and body, giving me that kick-start to a great day. This is what currently occupies my mornings:

  1. Wake up. I usually get up around 7:30 (or at least try to). I stay in bed and roll for a while, and then put on the radio to get me out of my foggy state of mind. I drink some water to get rid of my horrible morning breath.
  2. Morning workout. I pull my hair up in a bun, and get ready for my short morning workout. I used to do the 7-minute workout, but I’ve found it really hard to keep it up during the summer when the days are unbearably hot, so I have switched to Blogilates’ morning workout. I don’t normally follow her videos, but I really like how she combines an easy and graceful workout + stretch in her video. It’s just the right amount of each.
  3. Get ready. I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Also, I always wash my face after the mini workout (instead of before) as I do sweat a little. I change my clothes into something really comfy and simple.
  4. Eat breakfast + read. I make myself some breakfast. I usually have chicken, two eggs, and avocado. It’s enough to last me for a few hours, but I’ll usually snack on fruits and/or nuts before lunch. I always eat breakfast with a book in my hand. I spend between 40-60 minutes reading.
  5. Five minute journal. I picked up this habit this year, and it’s a quick way to focus your mind on the things that you can be grateful for each day. I don’t actually have the five minute journal, I just write the prompts and answers on a little notebook.
  6. Plan + journal. I’m currently using a Hobonichi Cousin as my planner, and I love the system! I also do some real journaling (‘word vomiting’) to let my thoughts flow on paper, and try to doodle around my writing.
  7. Meditate. This is the last thing I do to conclude my morning routine. I sit down on the floor in my bed, put on some meditative piano music, and meditate for 10 minutes. As it’s still morning, I don’t meditate for longer than that lest I fall asleep (I love sleeping).

This is pretty much the end of my morning routine, but it’s still morning by the time I finish, so I’ll just get on with things that I want to work on:

  1. Emails. I check my personal, blog and work email. It sounds like a lot, but I really only get email occasionally. I’m subscribed to a few morning news and a Highbrow course, so I’ll most likely check them now.
  2. Music intervals. I have a background in music, and this is one of the areas that I’m currently working on to improve. The key is to spend a little every day practicing, so I do this for about half an hour.
  3. English idioms. I like to think that my English is pretty fluent, but improving my linguistic flair is one of my continuous goals. Right now I’m just making flashcards on idioms I’m unfamiliar with to study them a little each day. I hate doing this so academically, which is why I don’t spend more than half an hour on this either.
  4. Blog! My little place on the internet. I’ll usually work on a blog post, practice my photography, or just work on small things here and there. The thing about my blog, mistyprose, is that even though no one really follows me here nor anywhere on social media, I’m still determined to keep on blogging. My anonymity, writing and work is what allows me to write freely, and I really enjoy that.

It should be lunch time by now (1:30pm), so that’s what I do next!

Thanks for reading about my morning routine 🙂 Also, just a side note – I’m currently in my gap year, so I have a pretty flexible schedule to handle.

-Michelle

take a walk

I choose between three options: bike, jog, or roller skate.

Biking is the easiest one, so I always try to bike longer distances. Jogging is the most physically exhausting one, so I only jog about 4 km on average. Roller skating is neither easy nor physically exhausting for me; it’s just… scary, for a novice like me. I trip and fall over small bumps, and I can’t even go down slops on my own at all. So I skate for 4-5 km as well (usually with my dad jogging alongside me).

There’s a huge park/sports area of 15 minutes walking distance from my house. I go there every time I want to do some outdoor exercising. The park is basically a huge 4 km loop, which surrounds a huge territory of grassland and the Minister of Defense in the middle. An increasing amount of people go there every day at all times, which is nice to see. Fitness is finally getting contagious.

But I have never walked the whole loop. I see many people walking whenever I’m biking, jogging, or skating. I see them because I’m always going at a faster speed than them. I don’t walk because it doesn’t make me sweat as much. No, that’s an excuse; it’s mainly because I can’t stand the slow pace of walking.

Which is strange because I consider walking to be the most calming and therapeutic thing to do. It’s the one thing that reminds us to fully enjoy the journey, to be fully aware and present each step of the way. I started taking walks in different places and at different paces. On my way to the sports park; in another (smaller) park with fewer people; on my way to somewhere. I don’t listen to music, unlike when I’m exercising. I don’t walk with anyone; I’m my own company. I like to tune in to my senses: what do I see in the space that surrounds me? How do I feel, right now, in this moment? What (pleasant) smells do I sense that are out of the ordinary? I don’t actually say any of these things to myself (that would be plain weird). But I do make these observations and, gradually, I tune in to the environment that surrounds me.

All day every day, we are being saturated by all kinds of things. We are always checking our phones, laptops, and other screens; whether it’s for work or for leisure, it’s an inevitability in the modern age. We listen to all kinds of things – music, news, cars honking, people talking; we rarely get a chance to be alone unless we choose to be alone. But when everyone around us is doing the same thing, it’s hard to not be part of that crowd.

And before we know it, we’re in the black hole.

But when I walk… it’s as if these things, all these distractions and burdens, blur into the background. Everything that goes on around me is completely unrelated to me. People are minding their own business. I may cross paths with them, some even may glance my way if I happen to rush through with my bike, but they’re all too focused on themselves to care. They’re all too busy with their lives to notice this tiny person walking quietly by herself.

And so I open myself to what surrounds me as a whole. I acknowledge the horrible traffic that overwhelms the streets at rush hour. I observe the people that walk quickly, calmly, or slowly. I see the houses that are on my field of vision and wonder what kind of lives live within them. I listen to the music the nature sings to me. Sometimes, I pause for a mere few seconds, and am so glad that there are so many parks near me, even if some are amidst the busy streets.

What is life, if we can’t even take a moment to walk around at a steady pace? Must we always rush our lives at a speed faster than is good for us?

-Michelle

being a multipotentialite

A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.

A few months ago, I watched a TED talk about having too many passions to just settle on one. I immediately identified with the speaker, Emilie Wapnick. I identified with her rationalization that not all of us have that one true calling, and that it’s okay to not feel like we have to specialize in one thing.

I highly admire the musicians, artists, doctors and other people who know, from a certain age, that that’s what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Having studied music allowed me to mingle with deeply devoted musicians, and I admired them for their passion and perseverance in their career. Most of these people were my age or younger; they were barely in high school when they knew that they wanted to pursue music (cello, in my case) for as long as they could. And that really amazed me, because I knew from an early age that I wasn’t like one of them.

I think many of us are able to identify with this, as there are increasingly more things to learn and be in this world.

“Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Multipotentialites are not specialists; they don’t settle for one thing to focus all their energy on. While this may mean that they don’t become as good of a musician as someone who dedicates his life to music, for instance, a multipotentialite has the possibility of merging all his knowledge and discover something even bigger and more novel.

As a self-proclaimed multipotentialite, I believe that we should specialize in a field that sweeps us away, but I also believe that that specialization shouldn’t be fixed.

What I mean is that we go through different stages in our lives, and in each stage we prioritize different things. This means that while we may be more suited to be an athlete during our adolescence and/or early adulthood, we may be more suited to be a businessperson later in life, and a philanthropist even later in our adulthood. These are extreme examples, but it means that we have the opportunity to dedicate to different things at each stage of our wonderful life cycle.

me, a multipotentialite?

At 19, I consider myself a multipotentialite because I believe that the sum of my passions will allow me to blossom in the one field that I choose to specialize in my careers. And I say careers because I know I’ll have several careers and pursuits throughout my life.

Right now, I am a polyglot, bibliophile, blogger, cellist and fitness enthusiast. Not all of these are ‘serious’ skills, such as being a bibliophile (I mean, anyone can be one as long as they can read) and a fitness enthusiast (note the word ‘enthusiast’). But somehow, naming these particular skills that define my lifestyle makes it more concrete and real. I know that these are five things that I know will make me happy, and that I will continue pursuing irregardless of the level I reach in each of them.

i’m also an amateur photographer and fashionista, and I call myself these names to remind myself that these are other hobbies that make me happy, and just add to the creative persona that I’m trying to be.  They also complement the five skills I’ve named above, so yay!

Finally, there’s also other things  that I aim to become when I’ve gained the experience and wisdom to be. These include being a psychologist, author, entrepreneur, activist and humanitarian. Not necessary in this order, but it seems like a reasonable sequence. I aim to major in Psychology, so that’s first in the list. The following ones simply professionalize my current interests and align with my moral values and intentions in this life.

what this means for you

I know I probably went off topic at the end. I went on talking about the things that I aim to be in the future, big dreamy goals *sigh*. But, so what? Being a multipotentialite means that there are no limits to what we are and aspire to be. It’s a way to denominate this bursting feeling to learn and create without feeling like we don’t fit among others. And I like it.

-Michelle

We All Have Masks

By this point in your life, you would have undergone a range of learning and relationships that define who you are today. But do these experiences mean that we know who we are, or have we just gotten better at putting on masks?

We all have them. The one we show our parents, family, friends, significant other, teachers, strangers, etc. We don’t act with the same level of familiarity with our parents than with strangers. We don’t talk to our teachers like we talk to our friends. And we definitely don’t behave the same way with our best friend than with everyone else.

We have different mannerisms in regards to the people we interact with, and it has naturally become ingrained as part of our behavior – so much that we may rarely notice it. Maybe you’re a vivacious person, just as open with your friends as with a stranger. But, as for me, the lines are bolder. It has come to my attention that I treat everyone with at least slightly different: my mom, dad, best friend, close friends, 4-year-old cousin, uncles, teachers, etc. Does this mean that I’m not truly myself when I’m interacting with someone I’m not as close with?

I believe this difference in personality is what enables me to figure out who I am, and only I need to know that. I may be shy, more held-back and polite when I’m around people I’m not too close with, but I know that these characteristics don’t put me in a box. They see a side of me that I want to portray, a mask that I put on for the given situation. Not everyone may see the lively side of me, and that’s okay.

So, what do these “masks” ultimately suggest about our behavior? I think they come in different ways, levels, and intents. I don’t try to put on masks to deceive people, and neither do you (I hope). I don’t use masks to pretend to be any other person other than the one in the present moment, and even if that person is not who I am when I’m at home, that’s alright. I don’t need to be 100% “myself” at all times. It’s exhausting, and it’s unnatural.

If you’re known to be an outgoing person, it’s okay to not want to go out sometimes. If people always see you as the understanding person, it’s fine if you are tired of listening to others. We all need a break. And most importantly, we all change.

With every form of interaction that we have, we get to know ourselves better. And as you get to know yourself better, your sense of identity becomes stronger.  That, I believe, is the key to gradually nurturing better and healthier relationships.

-Michelle