Author: B

Real life vs. internet life?

One thing I’ve come to really dislike about social media is the trend to portray a ‘perfect’ life. You have those on Instagram taking 20 selfies to get that pose just right… which is then edited beyond recognition with filters.  Maybe it’s just the people I come across my own age but everyone seems to depict this ‘I’m in school, but have the time to eat out and go to concerts every weekend, spend glamorous summers at my fantastic internship all the while jetting off on a foreign adventure’ lifestyle. There is such a false-ness about it all.

However isn’t this now the draw of social media with likes of twitter, instagram, youtube and tumblr? Unlike Facebook, where there is only so much you can fake around people you actually know, on these sites you can create a completely different persona. You can become your very own pinterest board come to life! But really what is the point of it all? To instigate jealousy? Not to show your vulnerabilities?

I have a friend who after graduating last year, immediately got a job offer at a start up in NYC. From what I have seen, her social media is filled with pictures of herself going to restaurants and boutiques while jetting off every couple of weeks to visit her boyfriend in san francisco. However recently we ran into each other and I was given a fuller picture. In reality: she walks an hour to work since she can’t afford transportation, she constantly has to work overtime which she isn’t paid for and her boss is an egomanical tyrant. Nothing you would suspect from the image portrayed on social media.

Now I understand that no one wants to be the person constantly whining and complaining on social media. For one thing there can be negative ramifications, we’ve seen how people have lost their jobs for an insensitive tweet or an incriminating Facebook post. However at what point are you portraying an unrealistic version of yourself? I’ll admit that I felt both jealous and self-concious; what was I doing wrong? Why didn’t I have the time or resources to live like everyone else (seemingly) was. Was the problem with those who portrayed this false opulent lifestyle or was it with myself for taking these social media interactions as a literal representation of someones life instead of just a sampling of positive highlights?

Later that day I opened up about some stressors I was facing to a close friend. It’s unclear whether consciously or unconsciously but I had internalized all of my anxiety in an attempt to exude a certain image. Again the question was why? To keep people at arms length? To keep my fears a secret? Although she didn’t have a crystal ball to look into the future and let me know everything was going to work out, just talking about my worries and letting myself be vulnerable helped much more than I had expected.

The internet blackhole

Do you ever feel slightly suspicious of people who constantly need to be surrounded by others? While there’s nothing wrong with being sociable, I’ve always felt it’s important to be comfortable with your own thoughts. Whether through scheduled meditation or an unexpected few moments throughout the day, there’s something about those simple times of quiet that bring about the greatest moments of self reflection.

It was during one of these moments, full disclosure I was washing the dishes at the time, that I came to ponder something that had been gnawing at the back of my mind for the last couple weeks. While browsing through social media I came across some academic achievements of my peers, and almost instantly felt despondent. How had they accomplished so much while at the same time staying at the top of their class in a rigorous program? I thought back to where my spare time had gone in the past week, the answer was a simple one: the internet. Somehow time seems to speed up when your aimlessly browsing the internet. You’ll stumble onto a wikipedia page and somehow you’ve been clicking around page after page for the last hour.

My time waster of choice is youtube. On any given day there are hundreds if not thousands of new videos uploaded to the site; you are guaranteed to find a genre that peaks your interest. An almost ironic youtube vice as of late has been watching declutter videos. Even writing it out it sounds utterly ridiculous, why am I watching someone talk about what they’re getting rid of?! Clearly the item in question isn’t very good if it’s going in the bin and yet I diligently keep watching.

I don’t even want to try and count the amount of hours I’ve spent on the site but in all honesty it probably totals the time it takes to learn a new language. In a site filled with endless genres of content, instead of watching videos on a TEDtalk, philosophical questions (who would have known that this would be the focus of Russell Brand’s youtube channel), anatomy or scientific innovations what was I watching instead? Videos of someone doing some spring cleaning. That being said there isn’t any use in crying over spilt milk, that time has already been wasted. While I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, this is a habit I want need to change. Instead of spending hours thoughtlessly listening to vloggers discuss something I’ll forget again 10 minutes later; I want to take that time and put it into something more mentally stimulating or instead devote that time to honing my passions.

Its easy to fall into an internet black hole. But I’ve come to the point where it’s finally time for me to climb out.

Just Do It.

Image credit: adnews.com

 

Theres something to say for Nike’s iconic slogan.

Just Do It.

Do it today.

Don’t make excuses.

Like anyone, I’m guilty of procrastination. As much as I want to have that paper or assignment done, the hardest part is just getting started. Studying, networking, exercising etc. in the end it’s never as bad as your mind makes you believe.

Let me repeat, it’s never as bad as your mind makes you believe. I bring up networking since I’m nearing the end of my degree. As a science student nothing will depress you more than seeing how diminutive your job prospects can be once you enter the work force. Any entry level science related job requires years of experience you don’t have or a specific degree/certification you (also) don’t have. I have a peer at a nearby university who is in software engineering. He had internships in the states from well known internet websites and received an offer to move to silicon valley straight after graduation. While it’s easy to be down on yourself (and believe me that is exactly how I spent the last couple days), in the wise words of Aaliyah

Dust yourself off, and try again

Your career life is what you make of it. It’s easy to look at those around you and think that things came easy to them, and in some cases that may be true. However their success isn’t your failure. See where you want yourself to be and set a realistic plan on how to achieve your goals. Of course this can be translated to anything. It’s easy to look at a fitness blog and say I’ll never look like that or go over to one of the more popular minimalist blogs and say I’ll never be able to do that. But isn’t this really just an extension of that looks too hard…. I don’t want to fail. 

The fear of failing at something you truly want can be enough for your mind to talk you out of trying. It sounds like such a backwards concept, how can you want something so badly but at the same time tell yourself it’s not worth trying to achieve it? Are you going to get your dream job/ body/ lifestyle immediately?  In all likelihood you aren’t, it may require months if not years of hard work. But instead of blaming external factors, put yourself in control.

Take that first step.

Just Do it.

Change?

Anyone can change.

It’s never too late.

These are phrases we hear over and over again meant to be words of motivation or encouragement. While it can be easy to change physical aspects of ourselves, such as a new hair colour or new wardrobe, inner reflection – a change from within requires a greater mental effort.

A strange aftereffect throughout this minimalism journey is that I feel I’ve learned a lot about myself. I know that sounds cheesy and cliche, but mentally I feel like i’m in a different place than where I was a year – even a few months ago. While I’ve always been pretty decisive with my decision making (a very un-Libra like trait) I feel as though I’ve almost solidified my own personal likes and dislikes. This isn’t to say that every inner reflection has been a positive one. I’ve also become aware of some very unattractive personality traits; what’s worse is when thinking back to past situations, I can see that they have existed for quite a while. Though awareness is the first step to bring about change, doubt may be my downfall. As much as I want to immediately eliminate these unpleasant traits, that nagging question remains ever present in the back of my mind…Is it too late? Will I be able to change?

The Temptation of a Sale

Temptation. Really what is there to say about it? It’s something that will always be there – it’s human nature to crave that instant satisfaction. Whether it be the temptation to EAT that extra piece of pie, BUY that impulse splurge item or READ the latest Facebook updates instead of your textbooks; temptation exists all around us.

Many minimalist blogs seem to either act like temptation no longer exists once you decide to embrace living with less, or act like the solution is a simple one such as ‘unsubscribe from those trigger blogs, don’t go shopping, WALK AROUND WITH HORSE BLINDERS!‘ Now of course that last one is a joke but in all honesty where is this utopian place where these techniques actually work? What about the unavoidable (or unconscious) forms of advertising? The billboard ads, magazine displays, television commercials, radio commercials – advertisements have even begun to pop up on our social media feeds! Outside of cutting yourself off from all technology and moving to some remote location, we need to learn to live with the bombardment of advertisements rather than try to cut them out of our lives completely.

This is all just to say that as I type this post I am trying to resist temptation. Last week I came across a pair of glitter hi top sneakers. Now although I’ve never been a glitter fanatic, I was immediately drawn to them. I’ve always preferred gold to silver accents but these were the best of both worlds, beautiful platinum glitter side panels with a taupe suede trim. While a part of me thought they were undeniably tacky, a larger part of my mind immediately became that pressed doorbell screaming Buy! Buy! Buy! I was able to resist purchasing them during a black friday/cyber monday sale, deciding they weren’t an immediately needed purchase. But somehow found myself back on the site today to see the majority of the previously available sizes had sold out. As luck would have it my size was the only one still in stock.

Was this a sign that I was destined to have these gloriously tacky glitter sneakers? Do signs even exist for tacky impulse shoes? Either way, while I had talked myself out of purchasing them a few short days ago, here I was scrambling to punch out my payment information. Mind you, now that the black friday sale had ended the shoes were more expensive, yet somehow my mind had convinced myself that I needed these shoes. What if they run out of my size? What if they don’t get more in stock? Will I regret not purchasing these? HOW WILL I SURVIVE WITHOUT GLITTER FOOTWEAR!?

If you’re cringing at the mere thought of glitter hi tops you’ll be happy to know that I was able to resist the temptation. While my mind was busy justifying all the occasions I could wear them (holidays in hi tops , summer in hi tops, early fall in HI TOPS!!!) a quick mental reminder of all the other shoes in my possession, coupled with the memory of an entire tote full of impulse shoes I had purged no more than 2 weeks prior was enough for me to say no.

What is it about a sale that makes our impulse centres go berzerk? Is it the ‘for a limited time only’ aspect or the prospect of getting a good deal? (even when you may have resisted an even better deal a short time ago) As much as I’d like them to disappear, I don’t see my list of wants going away anytime soon- temptation will always be out there. However instead of immediately giving into that pleasure centre, take a step back, a deep breath, and try to clear your mind from beneath that dark temptation cloud.

The ‘Stuff Cycle’

the word minimalism tends to garner a specific image of sterile, stark, white rooms with minimal furnishings, art, personality everything. About 2 1/2 years ago I started an unexpected shift towards minimalism and find myself moving further and further in that direction. It started in decluttering and minimizing one specific aspect in my life and has slowly bled out. I know some people just wake up one day and suddenly get inspired to do a big purge of all their belongings but for me I’m glad this has been a slow process over time. While I have purged a LOT over the last year, I’ve also never regretted getting rid of an item. To me something that is just as important as the discarding itself.

The problem I’ve found with a lot of minimalistic blogs is that they focus too much on the number e.g. 100 items, 33 items etc. to me the number isn’t as important as how the items make me feel, it almost makes minimalism seem like a competition – who can have the fewest amount of things. I want to be surrounded by things that I love, my goal is just to get rid of the excess. Its funny how overtime it becomes easier to purge and get rid of possessions that 6 months or a year ago I would have been making excuses for why I needed to keep that item in my life.

Have I been perfect throughout my minimalism journey so far? No, but I have been getting better at letting go of regrettable purchases as soon as possible. I actually have a small paper shopping bag that has become a staple on my bedroom floor. It sits right beside my bookshelf and whenever I have an item I’m ready to toss (or am thinking about tossing) in it goes. Its easy to have on hand for a friend or family member to rummage through and its nice to have a designated ‘out’ box instead of leaving things scattered around until the next time I decide to do a purge.

At the end of the day its all a cycle. Buying stuff – displaying stuff – maintaining stuff – storing stuff – getting rid of stuff – working to pay for new stuff. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not going to swear off consumerism entirely however I do want to drastically reduce that cycle for myself. While at a certain point I was focused on a rigid one in, one out policy, I now want to be  more mindful of what I’m bringing into my home and resist those impulse wants. The less I let the stuff- cycle take over my life, the more time I have for what’s important to me.

Untitled?

I know, I know. Blog hiatuses have become more repetitious than a gregorian chant…. yes, I do know that was a weird reference…. no, I don’t know why it came to mind. Rather than lengthy excuses let’s (attempt) to reduce the overall rambling of this post and get down to the meat so to speak. As I edge closer and closer to the end of my student years I’m starting to feel that quintessential ‘quarter life crisis,’ – now don’t worry this isn’t going to be some self indulgent ‘isn’t life so hard’ type of post, however in my stress over the unknown I’ve started to crave more simplicity.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while (and if anyone has kept up with the constant hiatus I salute you!), this isn’t a new concept for me. I’ve been decluttering certain aspects of my life since April of 2012; on a side note is it weird that I remember that moment in time so clearly? I can’t remember what I wore last week or what I ate two nights ago but somehow that moment this moment remains etched in my mind. What was that moment exactly? Well, to be honest its more of a feeling. The feeling of being overwhelmed by possessions – in my case this was makeup. If you type in the search term makeup collection onto youtube, you might feel like you’re watching a mini episode of hoarders instead. Mind you my collection wasn’t nearly that bad, honestly it was probably 1/10th the size of the average youtube video. Nonetheless I was overwhelmed and needed to take control back in an aspect of my life that I embarrassingly had let fly off the rails. Fast forward 2 years later and I find myself craving that same simplicity in all aspects of my life.

Now I don’t mean to turn this into an essay or thesis, but this is the direction I want this blog take. What that direction is exactly is something I haven’t quite figured out, more so this is just one girl’s minimalism journey. I’m not about to turn into an extreme minimalist and live out of a suitcase or par all my possessions down to 100 items but there is something soothing about less – less stuff, less tightly packed, more empty space.

 

Less stuff, less stress.

Film: Man of Steel

Let me start off by saying that I am a big Superman fan. Now i’m not claiming to have read all the comic books or anything but Superman is the one superhero that I feel like I grew up on. I travelled a lot growing up and might I add that I have a very large extended family. Many of my cousins were about 10+ years older than me so whenever we would visit a relative there was little around to entertain me. Since many of my cousins were males  comic books seemed to be a consistency that I would find from house to house. It just so happened that the first couple of comics that I read were Superman ones, and so started my lifelong sentiment with the franchise. This worked out well for my parents, as I mentioned earlier we travelled a lot when I was a kid and you could find a comic book (especially the popular DC and Marvels) in any country, add the fact that my entertainment of choice was reading and they were practically giddy.

I remember one summer in India I was bored out of mind. I was too young to go anywhere exciting on my own and my parents would rather chat with relatives, add the fact that there was maybe 1 english channel on tv and you have got a very unenthused child. One day I came across Lois and Clark, it was in english so I was automatically a viewer but again it was Superman so there was another layer of intrigue. With consistent marathons and frequent air time I’m pretty sure I watched the majority of the series that summer. Flash forward a few years later and I’ve hooked on Smallville and have a box set of the Christopher Reeve Superman Quartet. I’ve read a couple more comics in both the Superman and Justice League series, and have watched the animated series of each. Clearly I grew up watching Superman.

Anyways enough with that lengthy intro lets get on with the review! I decided to add that tidbit in to demonstrate that I may be a bit harsher of a critic compared to someone who is less invested in the franchise. Having already been largely disappointed with the 2006 Superman Returns I had high hopes…especially after learning that Christopher Nolan (one of my favourite directors) was a producer. Unfortunately I once again was largely disappointed.

Directed by Zach Snyder and written by David S. Goyer, the film stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon as Kal-El/Clark Kent, Lois Lane and General Zod. Russel Crowe, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane round out the cast portraying Jor-El, Jonathan Kent and Martha Kent respectively. Personally I thought the casting in this film was fantastic. Every actor was perfect for their part, while I may have been a bit underwhelmed by Michael Shannon, the rest of the cast was so expertly picked it more than makes up for it. The cinematography was beautiful. There was a quintessential ‘darkness’ to the film that I’ve come to associate with the newer DC releases. By that I mean that the settings showed a lot of murkiness in the sky with muted colours. I see this as almost metaphorical, by not using the punchy vibrant primary colours the film is given more of a realness that separates itself from the idealism surrounding these iconic superheros. Lighting aside there was a lot of great direction in this film. I distinctly remember this one moment within the first 15 minutes of the movie where Henry Cavill is emerging from the water looking for some clothes to borrow and there is a beautifully captured moment of leaves trembling and whisking away in the wind. Its a very minute detail but something that was so small but brilliant that I almost couldn’t contain my excitement for the rest of the movie to take place. Combine that with the subtle references to the comic (such as when Clark wants to beat up the vile drunk at the diner but instead takes out his anger…elsewhere) or Christopher Reeve movies and I was a fan grinning from ear to ear.

For me the real let down of this film was the script. It just seemed messy and in great need of editing. I understand and completely respect taking artistic license and changing aspects of the story but there were numerous moments where I felt that the change made less sense and the scene would have been stronger with the original pacing. Contrastingly the dialogue came across as rushed and poorly written. Entire conversations and one liners came across as cheesy and stale. I think its a testament to the ability of the actors in that they were still able to give convincing performances in spite of the poor writing. Another annoyance was the both the amount and the length of the fight scenes. While of course necessary to a superhero movie, It felt as though 1/3 of the film was made up of fight scenes! While I loved that Man of Steel spent a of time on Superman’s past and on his struggles while growing up, It didn’t feel like there was enough character development to feel invested enough to warrant their extravagance. Not surprisingly I’ve already heard talks of a sequel, I’m too invested in the franchise to not watch it however I wouldn’t give Man of Steel a recommedation. Wait for it to come out on dvd or netflix, unfortunately this superhero movie is getting a pass.

Film: Monsters University

A sequel 10 years in the making. This has almost become a trend with Pixar, first with the release of Toy Story 3 and now Monsters University. While I’m sure the long awaited release dates have more to do with the difficulties of animation, this is a very smart movie in my opinion. Kids who grew up watching and loving the prequels (myself included) feel a sense of nostalgia and join the legions of young children and families in a crowded movie theater. Add to that the nostalgic themes of growing up and going to university and ‘the feels’ (as tumblr folk would say) are definitely there.

To cut to the chase I loved this movie. While in that confusing realm of a prequel- sequel, this movie did not disappoint. Unlike many other sequels, the storyline worked both as an individual and as a unit. The plot was strong enough to hold the movie on its own for those who hadn’t seen Monsters Inc. but there were enough subtle references to the original so both films were cohesive. I love films with a lot of heart, and this one is very reminiscent of the Disney movies I grew up watching as a kid. A timeless movie that isn’t littered with pop culture references to stay relevant but instead focuses on a common theme of not feeling good enough and trying  your hardest but still not quite measuring up.

The film features the same director as the previous monsters movie with John Goodman and Billy Crystal reprising their roles of James Sullivan (Sully) and Mike Wizouski. I loved the Greek community that existed within Monsters University, while both cheeky and fun it remained functional in moving the plot along. This is something that I’ve really come to admire about Pixar movies, they tend to be strong tight stories without the excessive filler adding unnecessary run time. I really don’t have much to say about the film without giving too much of the plot away. However I will say that I loved how the film emphasized working hard to reach your dreams, it seems that nowadays everyone is looking for the easy way out or the job that requires the least amount of work. Its nice to see a children’s film show characters who aren’t handed everything but instead have to work hard to measure up.

Nail of the Day

OPIMy Private Jet 

Decided to go for a bit of a darker nail color this week. I tend to wear mostly pastel or brighter colors in the summer but for some reason I’ve had the urge to go darker. I was initially leaning towards a black polish but since I’m visiting my parents for the long weekend (and my mother hates black polish) this one would have to do. This is the re-formulated version of My Private Jet. I’ve heard that the original was much more holographic but had a terrible formulation. I don’t own the origional so unfortunately I can’t compare the two. This polish is smooth and easy to apply. I tend to apply 3 coats with all of my OPI polishes but you could probably get away with two