Tag Archives: growing up

The Summary Post – New Years

Over the last month, eight of Embracing Ambiguity’s authors took the time to reflect on the past year in each of their lives. 2014 seemed to offer hills and valleys for each writer – from transitions and changes in the physical spaces they lived in, to the internal turmoil of life changing decisions. Throughout the month, each author reflected on the question of “Where were you one year prior?”

The resulting blog posts are filled with a variety of emotions, but all take an honest and challenging look at the 365 days that made up 2014. In case you missed any of the posts, we’ve compiled them all here.

Happy reading!


ON MILESTONES | Author: Jon Farmer

“2014 was a year of transition and learning, and looking back, some of the best parts of the year were things that I couldn’t have predicted on January 1st. That realization calms me down and gives me hope. A year ago I didn’t know how many friends I would make, places I would travel, or things I would learn. I had no idea how the projects I was working on would turn out or how much fun graduating would be. I didn’t know my sister would get engaged or that we would spend Thanksgiving together in her home in Alberta. I had no idea that I would work beside a glacial lake in the shadow of Rocky Mountains or that I would find a new sense of calm somewhere in the 3 months of travel that followed. I entered 2014 with things to do but some of my greatest growth appeared in the unplanned spaces.”

Read more here.

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ON SAYING YES | Author: Stefan Hostetter

“If anything, what changed was how I saw myself and how I understood the nature of work. In 2014, I began to see employment not only as something you can go out and find, but also as something you can build given the right opportunities. I spent the year saying yes to nearly every request made of me, rarely knowing if it would end with me being paid for anything. Often it results in a bunch of work and not much else, leading to a friend stating that ‘Stefan works for free’. But in the end, it proved to be a surprisingly effective tactic if your goal was to only get by…Saying yes to work showed me that I could create value in this world and gave me the opportunity to prove it to others.”

Read more here.

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ON BLANK CANVASES | Author: Jeff Ku

“From entering 2014, furiously wiping clean of what remained from the year before, I had produced a blank canvas, and I had started putting pencil to paper; sketching and outlining what I wanted to start seeing my life to look like.  The image isn’t totally clear yet, but there are shapes taking form.  It is just a matter of adding colour and seeing if looks right.  Let’s be honest, I’ll probably have to paint over some parts, and redraw lines and maybe even change up the medium.  But it’s a start, and that blank space doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did.”

Read more here.

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ON SAYING SO LONG | Author: Maya Fromstein

“2014 was a hard year. It brought many of my demons to the surface, despite my best efforts to have kept them hidden for the past 13 years. I learned, and am still learning, to differentiate between myself and these demons. To call them out when they act up, and to distance the blame, shame, and guilt that they bring with them…The struggle, tears, and relief all tangled together in one terrifying and new and strange and comforting bundle. I learned that vulnerability is distinct from weakness. That self care is different from selfishness. That depression is not only sadness, and anxiety not only stress. I learned that I am worth fighting for.”

Read more here.

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ON WAITING | Author: Molly Grove

” I am waiting for some big change that will alter my not only my day to day life but also my future…Not idle waiting, though I do watch more than my fair share of Netflix. Not inaction. It is a lack of control over outcomes. It is doing all that you can and putting that out to the universe and waiting to see what returns to you. You can do the best you can to bring things into your life, but in most cases, we cannot control what is coming for us, and that is scary. So you do everything you can, and then you wait.”

Read more here.

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ON A HEART BROKEN WIDE OPEN | Author: Mica McCurdey

“And so this year, I admit, my frailties often got the best of me. But (and this is a very large and important but) I like to think my heart, somewhere along the way, began to break wide open. Maybe it happened in the unexpected last minute drives from Toronto to my hometown; in dancing without care at a best friend’s wedding; in stuffing ourselves with Indian food on my living room floor; or in getting on a plane to land on an island with open arms. I can’t say if the year was overwhelmingly good or bad, as both certainly existed, but I am sure that somewhere along the way I changed.”

Read more here.

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ON THE ROAD TO EL DORADO | Author: Tyler Blacquiere

“For the last few years I’ve raced along the Road to El Dorado and after this mythical concept ofadulthood; something I naively assumed I’d see glimmering in the distance, a golden city on the horizon line, once I had figured it out, once I knew what I was doing. But I think the most adult thing I’ve been able to do these last few years, specifically, in the darkness of these last few months, is admit and accept that I have no fucking clue. Accept that my El Dorado is filled with fool’s gold.”

Read more here.

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ON MY 4-STEP PROGRAM TO FINDING MYSELF | Author: Michelle Reeves

“But that newfound solitude lead to more introspection than I had ever experienced. I feel like I know myself much better than I did last year and I am more confident in my independence now. In that sense, the Year of Michelle successfully reached its initial objective. My personal growth curve has been getting steeper and steeper every year and I hope that trend keeps up for a long time.”

Read more here.

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On 2013, the year that was

Authors Warning: This post is mildly depressing and had I written it even a few hours later and especially a day or two later I think it would certainly be less so. But I am leaving it as is, partially because I still very much agree with the point of it and partially because it is an accurate representation of how I felt when I wrote it. So with that, here it is.

The title of this post is in honour of my brother, for after seeing this very title on an issue of the Toronto Star remarked that it is quite possibly, the least useful headline imaginable. Akin to titling a Sportscentre broadcast ‘The sports that happened’ or a movie review titled ‘A film that played’, but I am going to use it as a jumping off point, so you’ll have to forgive me if it seems redundant.

When the idea of collecting these year reviews for this blog came up I jumped at the chance. Most of what I write is intended to be educational, requiring research and fact checking, and the chance to stray away from that is always a welcome assignment as for me, writing is therapeutic. Writing provides me with a chance to really sit with my own thoughts and get them out in exactly the way I mean them. So, 2013, the year that was.

2013 was a year like no other.

2013 was a year that I finally took the plunge.

2013 was a year where much was lost.

2013 was a year of 2 halves, or perhaps 4 quarters.

2013 was a year which housed some of the best moments of my life.

2013 was a year when I decided that comma’s before which don’t matter.

2013 was a year that will likely do more to shape my adult life than I can currently imagine.

2013 was a year. Full stop. And that is probably how it is best remembered.

As my previous posts have alluded, 2013 was a year filled with an abundance of ambiguity. It was also likely the hardest year of my young life. This speaks more to the lucky and privileged life I have led thus far than it does of the hardship faced, but nevertheless it is the case.

And honestly, I am not sure if I learned anything from it. Or at least, I am currently not in a position to feel like I can speak authoritatively on any new insight. Who would ask a lost man for directions? I know where I am going, I know from where I’ve come, but the streets around me are anything but familiar and I’m plowing forward praying for a recognizable building or two.

But this post is getting far too gloomy for my liking, as I really am excited about 2014 and the possibilities that await, so let’s get on to the one thing I feel that 2013 did teach me (or at least gave me new appreciation for) and that is the value of a strong support network. Whether that is friends, family, a community group, or whatever, it is invaluable. What I have learned this year is that a strong support network isn’t just a thing that you can rely on when things go south (although it certainly is) but rather, and perhaps much more so, it frees us to take risks that would otherwise be impossible.

This is because sometimes life requires us to chase a moving subway, and sometimes that means running full steam into the end of platform wall. Yes that can lead to a lot of pain and perhaps even smash your entire concept of self into a million little pieces, but what matters is being able to pick yourself up and prepare yourself for that next sprint. And knowing that you have a few people that will be there to help pick up the pieces and provide a shoulder to help you work your way back towards running form is one of the most freeing realizations you can have. Because then, when the subway is leaving the station, and you know you need to run with it, you can, and better yet you are freed from worrying about the oncoming wall and instead live the glory that is running as fast as you can and hoping that maybe this time the wall will have nothing on you.  (http://www.digitaloperative.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/koolaid.jpg)

So I leave you with this, in 2014 may you find those who free you to run and when you do, don’t slow down. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-vE82L3rvk)

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On 2013

I am not generally one for New Year’s resolutions. Not because I don’t think you should strive to change or improve, but because I’ve always found it sort of weird to try and use the start of a year as the impetus for doing so. If it’s actually something you’re interested in doing, shouldn’t the date be irrelevant? Anyway, not the point.

THE POINT IS. I AM one for doing some yearend reflection. And what a year it has been, both for me and for the people in my life. I’ve seen relationships end and folks take new jobs. Friends have moved continents and love has grown. There has been loss, challenges, huge successes, and lots of fun.

Part of 2013 will, for me, always be “the year that injury stopped me from running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon” (I’m saying this now – and you can quote me – I’m going to fucking crush that shit next year). From an Embracing Ambiguity point of view, my year has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I’ve tried to map the major changes out. See the highly scientific, super rigorous graph below:

amb

So clearly, things have (mostly) gotten less ambiguous as the year has progressed.

I started the year finishing up an internship at a Canadian charity and am ending the year working for that same charity. The one difference is that instead of interning I’m now (mostly) managing our major yearend fundraising campaign, and have an offer of an “actual” (non-contract) job on the table.

It’s quite a leap.

I’ve gone through a hell of a lot to get to this point: from multiple short term contracts to a sudden fulltime (contract) role, long nights and early mornings of proving that I had something to offer and offered something worth keeping.

And now, so close to the thing I’ve been aiming for since the day I graduated university (a job-job), it feels…different than I was expecting (maybe?).

In truth I guess I don’t know what I was expecting. I think*, however, that I thought I’d just feel like “me”. And in a sense, I do. But I also don’t…ya dig?

More so now than at any other time in my life, I feel certain in my uncertainty. I don’t have all of my shit worked out, and the way forward is still unclear, but there’s a greater…awareness? Like I’m no longer “faking it till I make it” – which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t to say that I’ve necessarily “made it” – but I definitely know some shit. And I’m definitely willing to fight for the chance to prove it.

The successes in my place of employment have also come coupled with a failure, of sorts, in my extracurricular pursuits. Those of you who read this blog somewhat regularly may know what I’m referring to: The Storytelling Project. Since early in the year, I’ve kept this quote above my computer:

“When I get to the end of this year, I want The Storytelling Project to be at a place where people and organizations are approaching me to have their story told, because they see value in what it is I’m doing”

Whoops.

The quote above is from a work retreat we had last January, where we were asked to think about our lives one year into the future. With one story produced and a few more stuck in development, I can’t exactly say I achieved my goal. There was a time when I would’ve beat myself up about that. A lot.

A time when I would’ve questioned what it was I had spent my time doing. Questioned if it was “enough”.

Now? I’m definitely a little bummed, but I’m also recognizing that I have done a lot this year. A lot I should be happy about and proud of.

I’m also recognizing that making a “splash” in the way I had hoped, is hard.

Like, really fucking hard. It’s uncertain, exhausting, time consuming (time you don’t have when focusing on the thing(s) that pay the bills) and can often feel like you’re trying to walk up a down escalator.

I’m recognizing that it’s okay it didn’t happen this year. All it means is that I get to regroup and try again in 2014.

I guess what I’m really saying, folks, are these two things:

1)      Embrace the ambiguity. It will never go away completely, but you will start to get a handle on it. You will. Even when it looks like that’s impossible. You will because you’re bright and passionate and driven and a fucking baller. And don’t tell me you’re not because you are. And if it doesn’t feel that way now, it will. You just need to find your place. Everyone has one. When you do find it, embrace it, too. Fucking own it. Don’t spend your time comparing it to someone else’s. You are your own unique snowflake. Remember that it’s not where you’re at; it’s what you do with where you’re at.

2)      Take it easy on yourself. It’s okay to stumble. It’s okay to fail. It happens. But you know what else happens? Recovery. Ass kicking. Take a second and think to yourself: what’ll be your Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2014? Let’s crush it together.

I know these things aren’t “new” or even very insightful. But they are important. And they are things we can forget as we rush through the day to day, head down and feet moving furiously towards our next test. So take a minute to remember them.

All this said, I think part of what I’m saying is that (maybe) I’m growing up.

Just a tad.

Eek.

Until next time. And next year. (Haaaaaa! Yes, I went there.)

Ambiguously yours,

-t

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