Twenty lessons I’ve learned in 20 years…

…In no particular order

At the ripe age of 20, I definitely don’t have a lot of “life experience.”

However, I am proud to say that I have learned a few lessons, several of which come from observing family members and friends. In honour of my approaching 21st (oh no) rotation around the sun, I decided to reflect on some of said lessons, in the hope that these small slices of wisdom may be even slightly applicable to you. 

In no particular order…

  1. It is okay, if you financially can afford to do so, to stay at a job only until you can no longer learn anything from it. Wise words from my late Opa.
  1. It is completely natural for highschool friendships to fizzle out. The people who you have known for over 10 years tend to stick around for another 10.
  1. Moving out alone (and to a new city) is exciting yet ultimately terrifying. But you do get bragging rights.
  1. If you are not receptive to learning from something that continues to come up repeatedly, life will simply ram it down your throat. Some things you really have to learn.
  1. Watching a loved one slowly fade away is gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking, especially when you know it’s happening but you’re too far away to witness it. As much as you try to prepare for the inevitable, that pit in your stomach won’t fully disappear. 
  1. You will never be “home” again if you move for university; home is where you make it. On the upside, you’ll have a few places to call “home.”
  1. Spend time with your grandparents; it makes them so happy. Talk to them about anything, they’re excited to listen.
  1. It isn’t too late to turn a situation around if you really set your mind to it and it is in your power to do so. Do with that what you will.
  1. Lego is great no matter how old you are. And if you have never accidentally stepped on a Lego brick and been in agony, then I don’t know what to tell you.
  1. Changing yourself specifically for someone else will likely cause complete unhappiness. But don’t shy away from personal growth.
  1. Your grandmother will always give you second helpings of food, so don’t try to refuse.  You won’t leave her house feeling hungry, that’s for certain. 
  1. Listening to your parents will get you to the moon and back if you want it to. I know my parents are reading this and giggling gleefully.
  1. In some situations, people are powerless; never judge someone in a bad situation because leaving it can be easier said than done. Sometimes you just need to stand by and offer what you can. 
  1. Formulate your own opinions and personal values. You are a skilled and reasonable individual, trust your gut.
  1. If your mum says your outfit doesn’t look good, listen—she’s likely right, and you’ll save yourself the haunting pictures. Considering my mum dressed me up in some pretty stellar outfits as a kid, I’m still not sure why she let me out of the house in that outfit I wore for my 18th birthday party.
  1. If you have feelings for someone, shoot your shot, the worst they can say is no. Speaking from personal experience… It’ll take a bit of time, but you’ll get over it eventually. 
  1. There’s a fine line between whether the bad situation you’re in is actually someone else’s fault or your own. You cannot play the blame game for everything.
  1. Your pet will be your best friend. They’re great to vent to as well. 
  1. Be cautious about who you open up to about your past; unfortunately, some will use it against you. Not everyone wants to see you succeed.
  1. Only keep a precious few people privy to your private life. It is a privilege to know what is going on in the life of someone else, should they choose to share it with you.

The art of being single

Goodbye for now

To my dearest readers (you know it’s going to be cheesy from here on out), the time has come for me to say goodbye—but only for now!

These last few months, I’ve shared my thoughts, experiences and feelings with you about being single and trying out the dating scene. While it’s been a little scary to put it all out on the line for all those who read this, it’s also been quite a cathartic experience. In case some of you didn’t notice, I don’t actually have my life together; this column was as much of a learning and comforting experience for me as it was for you.

On that note, hopefully I’ve comforted some of you with the fact that you’re not alone and there’s nothing wrong with you when shit hits the fan or when things fall through. At the end of the day, it’s all about being okay with yourself and knowing that you’re a badass person. Someone somewhere, one day, will be lucky to be with you. But until then, remember that being in a healthy relationship with yourself is the most important thing, and that being single doesn’t mean you’re not worth loving or that you’ll never find someone.

As I always say, things may suck for a bit—sometimes for a while—and it might seem like an eternity, but it never lasts. With summer (finally!) almost here, take these few months to try out the dating scene, continue meeting new people, fall in love, get your heart broken, break someone’s heart—but try to be gentle when you do it. Heck, you can even say ‘screw it’ and live your best single life!

In the end, the most important thing to remember is that no matter what happens, good, bad or nothing at all, just make an art of being single, because it won’t last forever.

Graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee


The art of being single

Don’t give up on finding your person

In the last issue of The Art of Being Single, I spoke about ghosting and how it sucks because it leaves you with many unanswered questions about the situation and yourself. It leaves you feeling defeated. But ghosting isn’t the only thing that can make you question yourself or someone’s behaviour towards you while building a relationship. You know what else sucks? Breadcrumbing and haunting.

If nothing else, I hope this column is at least teaching you some new things. According to Urban Dictionary, breadcrumbing is “when the ‘crush’ has no intentions of taking things further, but they like the attention.” So they’ll keep messaging you and being all flirty but things will go nowhere. Haunting, on the other hand, is a little like ghosting but the ghoster is keeping indirect contact, usually by liking your posts on Instagram or viewing your Snapchat stories, even though they have your number but never message you.

You know why these possibly suck even more than a simple ghost? It’s the fact that you’re constantly being reminded. You’re constantly being reminded that you never got any answers. You’re being reminded of the awful feeling of being ghosted in the first place. You’re constantly being bombarded with the idea that you’re flirt-worthy but not relationship-worthy. You’re being reminded of a failed relationship, the good moments (if any) you spent with the other person, the chemistry you thought was so intense a scientist somewhere in Antarctica could feel it amidst the blistering cold.

You begin to think it’s normal, that anything that doesn’t result in ghosting, breadcrumbing or haunting is a miracle. You might even begin to believe that love doesn’t—and can’t—exist, if this is what the dating scene is all about.

You know what sucks about it all? You begin to give up.

But don’t. No matter how hard it is to believe, there has to be something, someone out there for us that won’t leave us hanging. So no matter if you’ve been ghosted, haunted or breadcrumbed for the first, third, 64th time—don’t give up on finding love.



The art of being single

Accepting not knowing why you’ve been ghosted

You’re single. Then, you connect with someone. You spend hours pouring yourself out to them. You allow yourself to get attached. Everything is fine and dandy and it seems like it’s finally headed somewhere serious. Then it’s suddenly over. And it’s time to move onor at least try to.

I understand how difficult it is to give up on someone after investing so much time and energy, and losing sleep over building a relationship. It hurts to see it all go to waste. A connection you thought was mutual collapsed to a ghost of what it almost was. If you’re lucky, the person told you they weren’t interested anymore. But most of us aren’t so lucky: we get ghosted instead.

To the person who ghosted: I get it. The person you were talking to wasn’t living up to your expectations, or they gave you a red flag, or life just got really damn busy and you couldn’t handle something (someone) else. But while people don’t owe you shit in life, there is a minimum expectation. While it’s easy to just ghost someone you’re no longer interested in, it also makes you an entitled jerk. If you’ve ever ghosted someone, have you stopped to think about the consequences of your actions?

Being ghosted by someone you’ve developed feelings for is the worst. There’s a sinking feeling in your chest and your heart drops to the pit of your stomach. You try to wrap your head around it: Did something happen to them? Are they okay? Eventually though, these logical thoughts start imploding. You start thinking it was your fault. Was it something I said? Something I didn’t say or do? What’s wrong with me?

The problem is that you just don’t know. You could spend days, weeks or even months wondering if the reason someone ghosted you was your fault. While I can sit here and say it isn’t, the truth is I’ve been in that position of being ghosted and trying to understand why. And now, there’s nothing I can say other than you eventually get used to it and you are able to recover faster when it inevitably happens again. But sadly, nothing will ever soften the blow of being ghosted.



The art of being single

Ghosting, bad dates, and trying again

So Valentine’s Day was a few days ago. While some single people don’t care, for others it might be hard to deal with being alone when love and romance are so commercially advertised. If you’re one of those people, you might have questions about your relationship status. How do you deal with rejection? How do you deal with ghosting? How do you deal with never feeling like you’re adequate and like you’re going to be single forever while everyone else’s love life is flourishing?

The answer? You just do.

I know it’s frustrating. I know it’s sad. And I know, after a while, it’s exhausting. But I also know that it isn’t the end of the world; you’re going to go on other dates, and you will eventually find your person.

Now, while you wait to find your person, you’re going to (more likely than not) go through a few rough patches. You might be on every dating app possible with no luck of finding someone cute and interesting, or shooting your shot just to get rejected. Or, you might go on your fifth terrible date this month, or you might be talking to someone you’re starting to like, but are then ghosted. You might go through all of this. I feel you, but know that you aren’t alone in this struggle of trying to not be single.

Let’s face it: no matter how many times we think Tinder or Bumble or Hinge (or the countless other dating apps) might work out—after deleting and re-downloading them three times this month—they most likely won’t. Out of so many people that use any or all of these apps, how many of them actually find what they’re looking for?

As for shooting your shot, I wrote all about it last time, so check it out if you’re still searching for a sign to do it. In terms of having terrible dates, definitely don’t see someone again if you don’t want to. No amount of frustration and loneliness should infringe on this decision; it’s always better to be alone than in bad company.

Lastly, when it comes to ghosting, I have one thing to say. I hate it. It really freaking sucks. And I’m not talking about ghosting when the conversation is going nowhere, or if you clearly have nothing in common; I feel like we’ve all done this at some point. I’m talking about ghosting when you start thinking, “yeah, maybe this can go somewhere.” Then, BOOM. Ghosted. If you do this, just know I don’t like you. And if you’ve had this done to you, just know, like in every other instance, you’ll be okay. You just move on, try again, and eventually you’ll find your person. Lather, rinse, repeat––but for your heart.



The art of being single

Accepting that it’s okay to not be the one

Welcome to the first ever “The Art of Being Single!” This bi-weekly column is dedicated to being single and ready to mingle, despite life having other plans for you, and how much this can (mostly) suck. I hope this assures you that you’re not alone in struggling to deal with being single, and I hope to be that little voice of encouragement at the back of your head, saying everything will work out in the end. But until then, make an art out of being single.

The year 2018 was a relatively rough year in terms of love and relationships. I was getting over a breakup I was salty about. I was ghosted a lot (recurring theme in my life; it’s really annoying). I shot my shot (multiple times) and failed. A lot of my friends shot their shot and succeeded. I’m still single.

I was, and still am, the friend that doesn’t get approached at school or at a bar or club very often. I might have some casual conversation, but I’m rarely hit on; I am usually spoken to as “one of the guys” or am used by some guy to get to my friend, who he thinks is “hot.” And with every right––my friends are magnificent people, inside and out.

At first, this––never being “the one”––would really bother me. Why am I single? What do they have that I don’t? Will I end up alone forever? What is wrong with me? Although it sometimes may feel like I’m alone in having these thoughts, I know I’m not. There are people who feel the same way, thinking, When will my time come?

I’ve come to realize that there’s nothing wrong with me, or with you, or with anyone who’s single and never had a long-term relationship. I’ve learnt that I don’t lack anything; neither do you. The only thing “wrong” with us is that we haven’t found someone we’re compatible with on every level.

Sure, it does suck sometimes. It sucks when some of your friends are in long-term relationships, others are just getting in one and the rest have no problem being single. It sucks when it seems like everyone around you has someone––everyone but you.

It’s taken a long time to realize and come to peace with, but there’s nothing wrong with being single; there’s nothing wrong with you. In some ways, being single at this stage in our lives might be a blessing: as university students, we already have a lot on our plates. Do we really need to be starting a relationship? While you’re single, learn about yourself; learn how to be with yourself and how to love yourself. If you already know how, then just sit tight and be patient; everything works out in the end.



How to approach an anti-materialistic lifestyle

Taking small steps to become less dependent on our belongings goes a long way

In a world where something newer and better is almost always available for purchase, society tends to value material objects. We often seek out the latest, trendiest gadgets we can find. As consumers, we tend to forget about the importance of the natural world which exists beyond material possessions.

The value we place on our material objects is a prominent characteristic of the western world. Some people might not even realize their own materialistic habits. For the purposes of this article, I will define materialism as: “A preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than spiritual or intellectual things.”

The fact is we are currently more attached to our belongings than people ever have been. Many of us cannot imagine life without our favourite possessions, let alone without any possessions.

The best, if not the only way to combat this epidemic is to start with yourself. We can’t change the mindset of millions of people living materialistically. So instead, I’ve listed some tips to help you become less materialistic, and a little more in tune with the natural world around you.

The first step to becoming a little less materialistic is being aware of your problem. It’s unrealistic to claim that you’re not a materialistic person, especially living in today’s western society.

Unless you are practicing an anti-materialistic lifestyle, living in the woods in a house you built yourself, there is no way you don’t place too much value on your material goods. For the most part, we all do. Begin your path to a less materialistic lifestyle by acknowledging your attachment to your belongings, and admit you want to work on that.

Since many of us value our technology, such as cellphones, laptops and tablets, more than most of our other belongings, limiting the time you spend on your devices can make a difference. Start by monitoring just how much time you spend on your electronic devices, and try to periodically knock off 10 per cent of that number until you reach a point where you are happy with your typical device usage.

Another basic tip is to just spend more time outside. The power of nature is stronger than you might think. Plan an afternoon, a day or even a weekend of walking, hiking, biking or any other activity that lets you enjoy the outdoors and get back to nature. Taking notice of the natural world can do wonders for your mental health, and can be a sharp reminder that belongings are not everything.

Most importantly, get to know yourself. Sometimes, life becomes chaotic and we get lost in the sea of our to-do list. We have so much on our plates, and we tend to reward ourselves with material things. But by submitting yourself to your belongings, you might forget who you are and what you truly enjoy. Look for those pockets of time, and spend that time on you.

Finally, I’m not saying you have to get rid of everything and live an entirely new life. I’m not asking you to throw away all possessions and meditate for eight hours a day. Instead, if you feel you are too glued to your belongings, take small steps to become less attached.

The best way to change your lifestyle is to start small and work your way up. The goal of implementing a less materialistic mindset in your everyday lifestyle is to make changes in moderation. Instead of feeling addicted to buying new things, you should hope to feel like there is more to life than just your belongings. Trying out one or two of these tips is a great way to get started.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Student Life

Ten tips to maintain your computer part III

It’s time to upgrade!

Before the Christmas break, we tackled some tips on how to maintain your computer, and we prefaced the dreaded section that deals with becoming a “computer mechanic”. So let’s stop dawdling and paddle on through!

  1. Upgrade your RAM
    Random access memory isn’t just name of that hip new Daft Punk album, it’s also essentially the heart of the computer. More RAM means more things can get done simultaneously and, to a certain extent, at a faster speed. In standard desktop PCs RAM is fairly easy to replace, and there are hundreds of image guides and YouTube videos floating around to show you just how to do it. The truth is, it boils down to just putting a long green chip in a slot and clamping it down. There is hardly any way to get it wrong. Laptops and Macs are a bit more complex. Laptop RAM is generally smaller, a bit more expensive, and requires that you replace a couple of tiny screwdrivers. Under your laptop you’ll usually find a few spots that are screwed shut (in some cases, just one). Macs tend to be a bit harder to service, usually requiring a few tools to crack open, and have a fairly limited supply of hardware to replace their usual lineups. But it CAN be done!

  2. Change your motherboard and processor (PC desktops only)
    So things aren’t running so hot: your computer is older than your nearly completed Bachelor’s degree (or worse, older than your nearly completed Master’s), and you think it might be time to give the old computer a good makeover. Motherboards and processors are essentially the brain of the computer, and this pair usually make up the bulk of the price of a new computer. If you’re not looking to go top of the line, though, models from a season or so ago can be fairly inexpensive. Shopping around for deals on Amazon, Newegg Canada or NCIX is a great way to keep an eye out and give your computer a makeover for a few hundred dollars. The process itself does require a bit of finesse and skill, but if you follow the instructions patiently, you’ll have a new brain for your evil Windows robot.

  3. Start over from scratch
    When push comes to shove, sometimes it’s okay to just let go, bury the hatchet and give your computer a proper burial. Laptops are expensive to service in-depth, and sometimes it just isn’t worth footing the bill to keep your desktop PC on life-support. But if you’re already this far down the line, you may want to consider starting from scratch. If you’re broke, and just trying to get something that can throw some text down, keep an eye out for clearances at local electronic shops, or on the sites listed in tip number two. Clearance items will drop as low as 50 per cent of their original cost, and nothing says “hell yeah!” like paying $300 for what is basically a new laptop. Desktop PC users, rejoice too: PC Part Picker will help you build the best computer you can with the budget you’ve got, if you’re willing to get your toolbox out and spend a few hours plugging things into one another. Mac users, you haven’t been forgotten (much): Apple is ALWAYS giving discounts to students, often up to 20 per cent off of their laptops and desktop computers. Take advantage of this, seriously!

  4. Be patient
    There’s no other way to put it. Taking good care of a computer does require a little bit of TLC. Computers are tools (for now anyways), and problems are usually solved by being patient and methodical. If you keep your cool when servicing your or your friends’ computers, you can get through things faster and often learn a thing or two about how to do it better next time.

Computers are hard work sometimes, but ultimately, taking good care of it while it’s still healthy will keep it alive a lot longer than just pushing the poor thing for years on end without any regard for its well-being. Until the machine overlords rise up and take over the earth, we’re lucky that we can get away with it.


Student Life

Pillow Talk: How to be the best wingwoman ever

I’m sure at some point in every girl’s life there comes a day when she will unknowingly steal a guy from one of her best friends. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it happens to the best of us.

Unless you’re doing it every week, that is just uncalled for. Some of you may be asking, “Is there anything I can do to make it right, Christine? Or will I walk through life alone, with no friends and no relationships?”

Well, you might—I make no promises. But I can tell you how to make the most epic come-back ever: be the greatest wingwoman your scorned friend has ever seen.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

1) If your friend says she is interested in someone, act like he has a flesh-eating disease.

Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, start flirting with him. I feel like I don’t even need to tell you this, but some girls just don’t get it. No matter how cute you think he is, she said it out loud first. This means you have lost your chance at ever marrying this guy.

2) Leave your friend with your girls and go talk to him.

Strike up a casual conversation but squash any ideas he might have about getting into your pants; mention you have a boyfriend, tell him your apartment can hold “about thirty cats,” or say you have to leave at midnight to check on your porcelain doll collection. Make sure to talk up your friend by saying nice things about her (ex. “She has very nice eyelashes,” “Her hair always does that swoopy thing all by itself,”

“She only knows two dance moves, but she can do them both really well,” etc.). Don’t get too friendly with the guy and make it very clear that you are only there for one purpose. This is where the next step comes into play.

3) Casually, VERY CASUALLY, invite him over to your table.

You can do this any way you want, but usually try to hint at the fact that your friend is into him. This is the moment when he will look to- wards your table and hopefully see your bestie laughing at something hilarious and he will realize that she is beautiful and will want to date her. If he decides not to come visit your table, it’s time to move on and move up. Ditch the loser, pick out the hottest guy in the crowd, and get your friend some action. But from personal experience, saying, “See that girl over there? She wants to know what those khakis would look like on her bedroom floor AYOOO!” is not appropriate or successful for any party involved.

4) As soon as they start having their own conversation, leave.

Seriously. Leave.

Follow these four steps and you will be instantly forgiven for being a maneater. Or not. Sometimes people are best left unforgiven.

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

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