HOW I SEE U OF T

So you’re visiting Toronto, and you want to see more than skyscrapers? GREAT! I can work with that. My hometown has a lot more to offer than tall steel structures which are used as a backdrop for movies, television, and unoriginal Instagram photos. Here is the first of a to-be-determined number of “travel guides” I’ll try my hand at writing, the first being this guide to the University of Toronto‘s St. George (midtown-downtown Toronto) Campus…but please bear with me, I’m not used to taking on the type of perspective that suggests I know anything of practical value.

IT’S WORTH MEANDERING THROUGH EVERY LAST BIT OF U OF T’s ST. GEORGE CAMPUS

Unless you’re visiting between May and August, I’d recommend visiting the University of Toronto’s downtown campus on a weekend! During the week and especially every hour, when classes turnover, U of T gets extremely busy, which can be overwhelming, especially if you want to take your time and actually take a good look around at the strange mix of architecture of which the university is made up.

Timing

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Late-May/Early-June at Victoria College at U of T
  • Late-May and June are when U of T really splurges on gorgeous landscaping in preparation for the onslaught of graduation ceremonies that are held in the first couple weeks of June. Therefore, if you want to get your fill of pretty flowers within an old-timey-collegiate atmosphere, that is the time to visit!
  • If you do visit campus on a weekend, it is very likely that you’ll stumble upon a session of wedding photography, especially in the Spring, Summer and Fall! Some popular sites of wedding photo-taking (and sites worth visiting, regardless of the presence of couples in their wedding finery) include:
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    One of the beautiful Knox College courtyard during peak-Fall
  • During what I refer to as “peak-Fall” (which, in Toronto, is mid-October until mid-November), U of T’s old, stone ivy-covered buildings look especially beautiful.
  • Late-January until early-February is when you’d encounter the university in all its snowy, stereotypically-Canadian glory

 

Other Tips & Tricks

  • If you’re looking for good coffee and doughnuts but don’t want to pay a fortune for Starbucks, make sure you plot your tour through campus accordingly, as there are only three (semi-hidden) Tim Horton’s locations on or near the campus-proper:
    • Near Queen’s Park station (at the corner of University Ave. & College St.)
    • Inside U of T’s Medical Science Building (on King’s College Circle)
    • In the depths of the prison-like building that is Sidney Smith Hall on St. George St., which is the main hub of campus when classes are in session
  • U of T is large, spanning the distance of about three subway stations in length (Queen’s Park Station, Museum Station and St. George Station) and three in width (Spadina Station, St. George Station and Bay Station)
    • Near Queen’s Park Station is Toronto’s Discovery District, where a lot of hospitals and other research/tech institutions are located

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      Inside the Royal Ontario Museum
    • At the aptly-named Museum Station, you’ll find the Royal Ontario Museum, a close neighbour to U of T’s Victoria College
    • From St. George Station to Bay Station, you’ll find part of Bloor Street, one of the busiest streets in Toronto for food and for the often-extreme-luxury shopping for which the Yorkville neighbourhood is known. This is also where you’ll be most likely to spot fancy sports cars, if you’re into that sort of thing…

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      Beautiful houses in the Annex
    • Near Spadina Station, you’ll find the many pretty houses that make up the Annex neighbourhood, along with more great food and shopping along Bloor Street
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A view of U of T down St. George Street, taken from Robarts Library
  • You’ll be able to walk into libraries and other buildings on campus even if you are not a student; you just won’t be able to actually check-out the books, etc. that lie within! I’m not sure how it works at every single U of T library (there are 44 of them across its three campuses), but at Robarts Library (U of T’s largest one; pronounced *ROBE-ARTS*), you are not permitted to board elevators to upper floors without a student card.

    When I started out writing this post, the aim was to talk about a few Toronto neighbourhoods…..that was clearly WAAAY too ambitious. Please let me know if any of this was helpful, and/or if there’s anything I should keep in mind when writing these types of guides in the future!

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!

I was recently nominated for a Liebster Award by the ultimate (in my eyes) #travelgoals blogger, Rose of ‘Where Goes Rose‘. Thanks again, Rose! Check out her post about the award here.

About Where Goes Rose

Rose grew up in Oxford, UK and has traveled to 50 countries! Since 2009, she’s been to South America to teach, spent time in my neck of the woods (Ontario, Canada) to study, and has traveled (literally) all over Asia and Africa, where she developed a particular love for Cape Town.

Rose’s travel blog also fulfills my amateur-foodie fantasies. She is very down-to-earth when it comes to both traveling and writing about doing so; she has experienced many different styles of traveling on a budget and loves to really take her time and immerse herself in the culture and community of every place she visits.

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What is the Liebster Award?

I had never heard about the Liebster Award until I was nominated, but it is a peer-given award within the travel blogging community. The purpose of the award is to help new bloggers get noticed and encourage you to check out blogs you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

How Does It Work?

The Liebster Award works like chain mail. Once you’re nominated, you can accept the award and nominate other bloggers for it. To accept the award, write a blog post that includes:

  • A ‘thanks’/shout-out to the blogger who nominated you for the award, with a little blurb about their journey
  • Answers to the list of questions that blogger has asked you
  • A list of new bloggers who you’re nominating for the award, along with questions you have for them

There’s no obligation to accept the nomination, but it’s a great way to get involved in the blogging community and learn about other people’s travel experiences in greater detail!

Ways to Get Nominated:

Simply-put: talk to other travel bloggers! I didn’t feel confident enough to even comment on other Instagrammers’ photos until a few months ago, but once I did, I quickly discovered how open and friendly an online community can be. I’m at the point where I consider the connections that I’ve made thanks to blogging and Instagramming to be true friends, who inspire me to continue posting and appreciating the world around me through different perspectives. It’s amazing how much you can have in common with people who you otherwise would never have met!

10 Questions Assigned to Me:

  • Do you like to travel solo or with other people – and why?

I like when I’ve traveled with one or two other friends. Traveling alone is always nice because you can take as much time as you want visiting only those places you’re interested in seeing, with no one to please but yourself. BUT, there is still something about getting to share experiences with good friends that makes traveling even more fun, and in some ways, it can take the pressure off; so far, I’ve found that getting lost is more fun when you have someone else there with you to laugh about it and turn it into another opportunity to explore. Plus, it’s nice to get to reminisce about past trips with the people who were there with you.

  • Which is the city you could most see yourself living in?

Edinburgh, Scotland (mentioned again below)! It’s hard for me to imagine living anywhere other than Toronto, and I’ve never been to Edinburgh before, but from what I’ve seen in photos and videos, it seems like the place for me. It’s still a city which is accessible in terms of public transit (a “luxury” I’ve grown used to having in Toronto), but it’s not as overwhelmingly-big or expensive as London. I’d also pick Edinburgh because of its mostly gloomy, chilly weather – something which would probably be a major turn-off for most, but which I crave due to the human-furnace that I am.

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  • How many continents have you been to, and which ones?

Apart from North America (where I live) I’ve been to Europe. It may not sound like much to most travel bloggers (especially as I’ve only been to one country in Europe), but I’m happy to take my time and just travel as much as I can. I love European history, architecture, food and more, so my main goal at this point is to eventually visit every European country.

  • Do you buy souvenirs when you travel?

I always do. I’m a sucker for souvenirs, but I try to keep it in moderation. Overall though, I do think it’s more valuable to spend money on experiences more than anything else while traveling.

  • Do you have a favourite place? Is that even possible? I know I struggle to pick just one!

To get extremely specific, my favourite place is the cafe/courtyard in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I don’t know what it is about that place, but I just loved its atmosphere on an overcast, slightly-chilly day in April. You step outside of a hallway filled with centuries-old statues into this large (but not overwhelmingly-so) space of small green trees, open ground, and high walls of shiny, vibrant, old redbrick on all sides, mixed with carved columns and gilded, intricately-detailed windows.

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  • Cities or countryside?

I’ve only ever visited cities and towns, so getting to see a countryside location would be awesome, especially from what I’ve seen in photos of places like the Lake District in England and wine vineyards in Italy.

  • Where was the first place you visited overseas?

I’ve been a late-bloomer when it comes to international travel. The first place I visited overseas was Oxford, UK in August 2016! I was lucky enough to get to study abroad at the university’s Worcester College for a whole month, within which I spent a weekend and a couple of field-trip days in London, and a day in Bath. Having been a major Anglophile for as long as I can remember, that trip was a total dream come true.

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  • Where is the best place you have been to for food?

My taste in food is SO not refined, and I am pretty easy to please. But, if I had to pick a particular “dish” that still stands out to me as one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, it would be those amazing cauldron cakes that they sell in the Honeydukes shop at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. It is a glorious combination of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, tempered chocolate and cheesecake…and likely a few other “magical” ingredients, of course.

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  • Have you ever been underwhelmed by a place – why was that?

Montreal, but it’s not its fault! My parents and their families are from there, so all I’ve experienced of that city are the houses of family and friends, a fantastic Jewish Deli and a great Chinese restaurant which is unfortunately no longer open. I hope to go back one day and experience more touristy things though!

  • Where do you want to go next?

I’m impatient enough to have already booked a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland in April with one of my best friends! After that, I’m hoping Paris will be next!!

 

My nominees:

 

Questions for my nominees to answer:

  • What is the funniest and/or weirdest experience you’ve had while traveling?
  • Do you prefer to explore big cities or smaller towns?
  • Which place would you never tire of re-visiting?
  • Of all the different views you’ve experienced while traveling, which left you the most in awe?
  • What is one thing that you don’t like about traveling?
  • What was the best meal/dish you’ve had while traveling?
  • Which souvenir from your travels do you treasure the most?
  • If you had to travel somewhere for only one day, where would you go?
  • If you could live in any place [other than those you’ve lived in] for a year, which would it be?
  • Where do you want to go next?

 

I’m excited to read your answers and receive your feedback! Travel is a rare and amazing thing, and it’s always fascinating to hear about others’ unique experiences!

SHAVING MY LEGS IN THE 21st-CENTURY

Not only does the above title describe a bit of what I will focus on in this post, but it simply-and-accurately describes what I was doing while I gathered my thoughts for it.

I have parents who have always been supportive of me. In addition, they never told me that I had to lose weight, nor did they place blame upon me for some imperfect physical trait I had….reading this objectively, this shouldn’t be a huge revelation, and yet I’ve discovered that it is rare to escape such comments when you’re growing up as a female in the West. (I also want to make it clear that I am not saying that this isn’t the case for all genders or in other parts of the world, but thus far, only females have shared such experiences with me; I do not mean to exclude or promote all-or-nothing thinking).

I remember being five-years-old, unable to get to sleep during our daily Senior-kindergarten nap-time, and thinking to myself, “That girl is prettier than me, but maybe when I grow up I’ll be pretty too.” Why the F*CK was this a thought I had then and somehow still remember today?!

To all those people who say that the annoyances and pains that come along with certain feminine grooming customs are self-inflicted, I have finally come to a conclusion about what questions to pose: Wouldn’t something beyond the inner self-talk of individual women have to have inspired the feeling that we need to shave, put on make-up, etc.? If somehow seen entirely objectively before puberty strikes and external pressures on all humans to conform to beauty standards are felt with intensity, why would anyone willingly agree to spend the time and money that such grooming customs demand? This is not to say that such activities are not valuable, for many talented people have developed them into complex art forms that require time, practice and skill. However, with such things as the feeling that one needs to shave one’s legs, would anyone really make this as an autonomous choice if they lived independently of a society which would have told them differently?

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This brings up another issue I’ve been thinking about lately, since the release of the new Wonder Woman movie. For the most part, I have heard people who’ve seen the film say that they loved it, but I have heard that some people refused to watch it because of how “sexualized” Wonder Woman’s outfit is. This comment surprised me for multiple reasons, one of which being that one of the people I heard this from is my age, and grew up in the same culture I did, with a similarly-high exposure to the same kinds of cultural messages and social media about things like Feminism and victim-blaming. By refusing to buy a ticket to see Wonder Woman because of the outfit she wears, is that not indirectly discouraging movie studios from investing in producing films that tell women’s stories, simply because you’ve been taught to feel that a “revealing” outfit means that a person is less deserving of respect? Many people use such reasoning to disparage women in the public eye, saying that this makes them poor role models for young girls, but I think that Wonder Woman is actually an excellent example with which to combat this view. If you were to look into Wonder Woman’s origin story in the original comic books, the 1970s TV show, and – in fact – the recently-released movie, you would discover that Wonder Woman was raised on an island isolated from the rest of the world, populated only with women to influence her, and she was encouraged to develop a strong sense of self along with her physical strengths. Taking these facts about her upbringing into consideration, it is not unreasonable to suggest that from Wonder Woman’s own point of view, a tight, “revealing” outfit is not designed to attract others’ sexual attention, but for the utility and ease-of-movement it provides.

Telling women’s stories – the narratives and details of what women experience in the world – is important. Telling women’s stories does not mean replacing movie roles that were initially written for men with women, it means writing stories about women from the outset, as throughout history, this has been rare. To tell women’s stories is not to replace or exclude men from the cultural narrative, although many wholeheartedly believe this to be the case because in their view, to give any attention to women is to “favour” them, rather than to equalize. Words are important. When I type “women in movies” into Google, the key terms that are returned include, in this order: hot, sexualized, objectification, revenge, badass and strong. It is clear that the representation of women today (in film – one of the most powerful, far-reaching media that exists) is a balancing act like no other.

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When you grow up in today’s Western culture in which women are encouraged to show skin and be bald on 95% of the surface area of that skin – and, for example, you happen to be very pale with dark, thick hair – where does that leave you? I’ve been teased for being “too pale”, about “blending into the walls”, but beyond the supposedly-lighthearted teasing, guess what – I was still left with a very obvious “canvas” upon which any stray hair would be noticed: oh, shit. This “problem” may seem incredibly petty to most mature adults, but when you’re an 11-year-old girl who is already self-conscious about every aspect of her inner and outer self – as most children, teens and many adults, no matter their gender, are wont to do – you are left with an insecurity upon which to fixate, and upon which others judge with small, but still-cutting comments. “You don’t shave yet?”; “Wow, you have so much hair on your arms”; or, when you eventually do give in to some of the pressure and first attempt to shave: “You missed a spot.” Where do such experiences leave someone, who – beyond school – has nothing to worry about beyond being socially accepted – a concern which happens to kick-in to high-gear in the developmental stage during which puberty typically starts?

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I HATE that I and most Western women waste their time and energy on sh*t like this. If I were to ever have a daughter, I wouldn’t want her to grow up worrying about such seemingly-shallow, external things to the point of near-obsession, nor would I want her to feel this way about herself and her body and what she is supposedly lacking. Relative to the entire population of Earth, I realize that I am in a position of huge privilege, and I really do have so much time and effort that I could be offering to those with less, and so it is a huge shame that privileged society robs people of the positive mental health and perspective needed to help those in less privileged societies.

Whether or not women eventually come to enjoy or resent such grooming customs as shaving their legs, please don’t attempt to address a related complaint or “solve” a related problem by asking why they don’t just stop. Just as no one can ever fully understand why another person feels the way they do as they move through their life, don’t attempt to minimize a lifetime’s worth of pressure with a question like that; it’s condescending, insulting and solves nothing. If women do choose to discontinue their participation in such customs, please don’t treat them with judgement, be it by looks or remarks. What would a display of such judgement achieve for you? Nothing, beyond contributing to the societal pressure that you would otherwise minimize.

INFERIORITY & SENSITIVITY

*Hopefully the text that follows will make my perspective clearer, but I can’t help but state from the outset that I write and share this tentatively, since I am convinced that people (if they care at all to read this in the first place) will react to what I say with rolled-eyes and an automatically-worsened opinion of me. (Is my huge lack of confidence in myself clear yet?). If you can identify with any of the following and would like to talk about it, I’ll be here.

There is an important, inspiring quotation that has stuck with me for years and years, even though I don’t think I’ve applied it to myself successfully:

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Although I’ve really always admired the sentiment behind this quotation, lately I’ve been struggling with it. To consent to a feeling is rarely – if ever – a conscious choice, and when that feeling is inferiority, it is a response to comparing ourselves with others. In an interaction with another person, the view that we are of lesser value may be communicated from them insidiously; it may only be after hundreds of small, seemingly-insignificant exchanges that we realize that the feeling of inferiority is correlated with having specific interactions with specific people. In fact, if we’ve grown up surrounded by these types of interactions and people, we may not even realize that this is unhealthy at all and should not be the norm. We learn to expect the dysfunctional, but not how to recognize it and address it or remove ourselves for our own good.

When it comes to the person who is said to be “consenting” to the inferiority, sometimes, there may not even be a single, obvious traumatic event that has resulted in that person de-valuing themselves and their feelings. Depression and anxiety may be mostly the result of brain chemistry, but we may unknowingly look for reasons we feel badly in order to dispel our confusion. Despite this, most people are aware that many others all over the world experience the same or worse stresses all the time. Although it is important to maintain perspective like this, I think that is one of the main problems with mental health “awareness” today: we are constantly undervaluing our own feelings (in relation to others) as justification for not seeking help, but this worsens the cycle of dysfunction and fuels pain and the belief that we are inferior.

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I’ve sought some help via online and in-person counselling before, but I’ll next write a bit about how I think a pretty-constant feeling of inferiority has affected me.

It’s strange: consciously, I know that I’m a pretty friendly, decent person, but I have come to realize that the default filter through which I think, make decisions and behave consists of the belief that other people’s time is more valuable than my own.

For example, I try hard to be spatially aware, not wanting to be an interruption in the path of another as they go about their day, but I’m human and fail at this sometimes. (And no, I do not mean to suggest that the “I’m human” excuse should be an acceptable one for all kinds of mistakes, but it IS an evolutionary adaptation for humans to focus on certain things in their physical environments in order to sense danger or threats. Depending on the situation or the anxieties of a person, what they have chosen to focus upon may not be the most spatially-advantageous to everyone in their immediate vicinity, but this is not necessarily their fault).

I am also insecure about most social interactions.

“Why would anyone want to spend time with me?”

“What makes me worthy of another person’s time and energy?”

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Interestingly – and frustratingly for me – when this belief that my time or personality is less worthy of being valued or respected is indeed confirmed by forces outside of my own head, I feel it intensely. I hate that I do not deal with social confrontation as well as I think I should. If someone snaps at me or just outright ignores me because someone “better” has come along to talk to, I become hyper-focused on the idea that I am less-than. I feel this physically in-the-moment, and even after, when ruminating; my face flushes, my palms get extra-sweaty, tears (mortifyingly, frustratingly) develop behind my eyes and a lump forms in my throat, which makes it even harder to say what I want to say. This is fascinating, too, because my sensitivity makes it very easy to recognize when I am being treated in a way that would merit my standing up for myself, and I desperately want to do so – I want to be and act the strong person who doesn’t take shit from anyone – but my reflex is to shut down, partly in an effort to calm myself. Maybe it is that my defense mechanism isn’t too defend myself, but perhaps to feel sorry for myself, and retreat fully back into the “safety” of my inner thoughts.

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This frame of mind also makes it extremely difficult to write this blog, and especially a post like this. I have ideas for pieces to write all the time, but they very rarely make it from my inner thoughts, to a saved memo on my phone, to a scrambled Word document, to the blog – a full-fledged post with images and maybe even GIFs and all that jazz. I am not so cultured, so well-travelled, so well-read, so experienced in those famed “ways of the world” to believe that someone would want to look to what I’ve written for any reason…

However, when I see others’ ‘chinks-in-the-armour’, others’ embarrassing moments, I feel a strong kinship with them, and I want to reach out.

“THEY TOO know what it’s like to feel like a piece-o-shit gremlin/oaf who can’t function appropriately in ‘normal’ society.”

“Their stomach grumbles loudly in quiet rooms.”

“They trip on nothing on the sidewalk, and keep walking.”

“They go through a fit of choking/coughing on no identifiable thing.”

“They go to take a sip of their drink and spill some down their shirt.”

Huzzah! I am not alone!

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Being neglected – whether due to purposeful effort or not – is a horrible thing, because you are sent the message that you have been rejected on some social basis, and by definition, you are not given the chance to prove otherwise to others or even to yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, show people that you care about them. Be aware that the way you say things can really negatively affect people. Keep your good intentions in mind, and try to communicate in ways that accurately reflect them. I am not suggesting that we should all “tiptoe” around one another’s feelings, but be aware that we are social animals who greatly affect each other, and often in very subtle ways.

THE FUTURE: WHY HISTORY IS F*CKING IMPORTANT

Almost 250 years ago, someone gained huge political and world influence in a powerful country, a world power.

This someone used their influence immaturely and irresponsibly.

This someone was materialistic, and more focused on the needs of themselves and their associates; the people of the country they led suffered greatly as a result.

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About 220 years ago, the people of that country took no mercy on those who had doomed them through corruption, and put an end to their leadership.

Afterwards and eventually, the people of that country had the opportunity to make a better life in an improved nation.

This someone was not also, in fact, a 69-year-old man who campaigned for and won the support of a powerful country by terribly-disparaging much more than half of its people, and with a voice that unfortunately could reach the world.

This someone was just 14-years-old when she was told who her husband was to be, and what huge, daunting role she would be expected to fulfill. She did not seek out her great position of power.

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This someone
may have existed on a comparable plane of privilege and immaturity as certain contemporary political figures, but she never claimed to be deserving of the power she was given. Absolute power – customary at the time – meant that the people had no choice and no vote, whatsoever.

Here’s hoping that a change in important leadership positions today occurs much more quickly than it did over two centuries ago.

PEOPLE WITH ANXIETY GIVE THE BEST ADVICE

First off, I’m not sure if the title of this post is the epitome or antithesis of a humble brag, but just give me a break for a second. In one of my rare, usually-less-than-successful efforts to practice that beast of a concept that is “self-love” [yeesh (but really, I obviously need more of it]), I tried to think about how my overthinking of every. single. thing. – to a degree that is always confirmed to be unhealthy when mentioned aloud to various individuals I encounter, who respond with semi-guilty shrugs about not being able to relate to my plight o’ the day – could be spun into a positive quality.

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(Before I delve deeper into describing this thought process, I’d like to clarify that when I say “overthinking” here, I do not mean thoughtfulness or extremely high levels of philosophical thought, NO, but just a general type of thought that is not especially creative per se, but which usually is destructive to my person and causes an anxiety-ridden implosion of sorts, especially if I am having ‘one of those days’).


A specific example of such “overthinking”/self-sabotage include readily-believing, without question, that a person at the top of an escalator is pointing at me in annoyance – over what offense I do not know (nor does that matter) – only to find out they were gesticulating at their girlfriend, who was standing two steps behind me. Other general examples include imagining multiple hypotheticals in most social situations which lead me to have a total mood change (usually from good/neutral to steady irritability/sadness), and convince myself that it’s safer to avoid most other humans, and instead, keep to myself most of the time (because I obviously am terrific at self-love/forgiveness/comfort, etc., and should NOT AT ALL be kept away from myself).
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Due to keeping to myself much of the time – and apparently due to the subconscious realization that I should not be left alone with my own bloated thoughts – I consume A LOT of media, and especially media that does not allow for my direct participation, such as TV shows, films, music and podcasts.


(By this point, I’m hoping this is not reading like a cover letter but is instead effectively convincing you, reader, that I am qualified to give you media recommendations, due to the sheer amount of time and brain power that I expend in order to distract myself from myself).

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Thus, if you – like me, but to a lesser, more healthy degree – view media and entertainment as a source of distraction, please take the TV/movie/music, etc. provided throughout this blog as tried-and-true, pretty-damn-worthy-of-your-time recommendations.


(I realize that the title of this blog post is slightly misleading, but what I also mean to suggest by this post is that – due to my subconscious efforts to distract myself from myself, and instead observe the complexities of other people and their interactions – I think I may have incidentally become fit to give personal/relationship advice).

Does this make sense? Probably not.

If not, please take this as a long-winded introduction to a simple, preliminary list of podcasts that I think are very-worth listening to:

 

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For therapy/empathy: Mental Illness Happy Hour

-extended, in-depth interviews with individuals about the life events, traumas and relationships that led them to be whoever they are today

 

 

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For laughs/interviews Cashing in with T.J. Miller

-conversations between Cash Levy and his perpetual guest T.J. Miller, that always go on very-random tangents; episode titles include: ‘Butter Coma’, ‘Scratcher in the Rye’ and ‘Ear Envy’.

 

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For THE MOST laughs/interviews (you don’t need any reason to listen to this, JUST DO): Ronna & Beverly

-improvised conversations between (and interviews of other comedians by) two stereotypically-Jewish, middle-aged women characters, both of whom have consistent, richly-detailed backstories about their friendship and respective family lives

FRIENDSHIP…..THE GOOD KIND

I’ve been debating with myself for a couple of months now about whether or not to publish the following post about friendship. Throughout that time, I have added thoughts, asked myself what my main point is, and continued to think back on and analyze the social experiences I’ve had – to the same, frighteningly-anxious extent that I normally do – and I haven’t reached a ground-breaking conclusion. I’ve also tried to analyze the part I’ve played in the social experiences I’ve had, and whether or not what I’ve felt is based on mostly-flawed interpretations on my part. Unfortunately, this is a near-impossible task, as social interactions often result in self-fulfilling prophecies, wherein an individual assumes something about the person with whom they’re interacting, thus encouraging behaviour in that person that they might not otherwise have displayed but which fulfills that assumption.

Rarely is it that one person is clearly in the wrong, but what seems to matter most is the level of consideration of their interaction-partner’s feelings that they’ve shown. Sometimes, what can sting the most is someone not caring enough to initiate or continue a conversation with you, invite you to spend time with them, and on and on. In all honesty, sometimes my motives for writing were passive-aggressive reactions to a real interaction I’d had that day, but through it all (hopefully) runs a theme of curiosity and appreciation of just what makes good-quality friendships.

new-friends

What do I know? Not much. But one thing that is pretty much beyond-a-doubt true is that small talk is terrible. How about, instead of being interested in meeting new people just for the sake of brief meetings of many, we take greater care to learn about people when we do have the chance to do so? You know the relatively recent campaign on red carpets at awards shows, “Ask her more”? The crux of this campaign is simple yet brilliant; make the effort to ask more than just shallow, surface-questions of people with whom you interact in your day-to-day life. Instead of clinging to seconds-worth of social interactions that you’ll have forgotten by the next day, invest more time and thought into who you encounter; you never know what you’ll learn or how close to that person you’ll become.

true-friends

Don’t waste your time on fake friendships. Just because someone shares some of the same opinions as you, or enjoys some of the same things as you does not automatically make them a good friend. Really good friendships are not about mere convenience; if you happen to be in the same place, around the same people, or even involved in the same conversation, this does not mean that a person will share the same consideration for your feelings as you would for them, which is a pretty fucking-important quality in a friend. A good friend makes you truly feel that they are interested in what you have to say and in who you are as a person, they do not just show interest in you until someone they find more interesting comes along.

We sometimes forget that we need to be understood, just as we can lose the understanding that we deserve to have this need fulfilled.

In collaboration with the more damaging messages that society broadcasts, our individual psychologies can work to trick us into believing and carrying out the opposite – that we do not, in fact, deserve to embrace and share our vulnerabilities – facilitating the ultimate crimes against humanity, crimes that are subtle but which leave us feeling deafeningly-isolated and inferior.

The chances of anyone being here and surviving to feel this moment and the ground beneath your feet are truly insane. Try to really know the people who have beaten those same odds.

What do YOU think about friendship?

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