How Forgiving Myself Is A Favor To Others

#WorkForHappy

  • What Love Has To Do With Forgiveness
  • Forgiving Yourself Is Only The First Step
  • The Favor: What You Give Back By Forgiving Yourself
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Artwork by Lukas Frischknecht

Love, they say, is the meaning life. Others say it is a mere distraction from real life. I’m 20 years old and I am trying to come to terms with the fact that loving someone is not the same as caring for them.

Ask anyone and they will tell you that love is a choice. Love can run out when the one with holding it is unwilling, and it can multiply when the giver is generous. I, unfortunately, had become dangerously generous.

Guess what? I’ve reclaimed my love. I value it, because I’ve learned to value myself.

That came with a whole lot of work, and it started with forgiveness. Are you a fuck up? Welcome to my world!

This is the story of how I royally screwed up, forgave myself, and learned to value the love I gave away for the sake of the people around me. Continue reading “How Forgiving Myself Is A Favor To Others”

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A Letter of Forgiveness to My Demons

First, shout out to my inability to keep a straight face. Whether I’m happy, sad, or mad, my face always gives me away. You are a sneak, you like to snitch on me, but that’s alright. Sometimes it makes for awkwardness, but other times you can make others laugh. I forgive you, lack of straight face, for making me completely transparent to both my friends and my enemies. It’s for the better, sometimes.

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Artwork by Masha Lifanova

Next on the list is my lack of focus. I can never get anything done with at least a little pressure, and I totally blame you. The irony of your existence is that I am eager to perfect every detail, but how can I if you are distracting me? Nonetheless, I have spit diamonds out when I am under pressure, even if the diamonds do end up a little bloody. You are what puts me under pressure, for better or worse, and I guess I can forgive you for that.

Third is my self doubt. I could find a cure to cancer, you would make me worry about the color of the bottle. Placing one word out of place feels like my undoing, and sometimes it can be so crippling I give up before I try. It’s not okay, definitely not, but perhaps, self-doubt, you just want me to the shoot for the stars. I forgive you for taking the wind out of my sails, because maybe I need to appreciate my journey more, not the destination.

Next is my mental illness. Continue reading “A Letter of Forgiveness to My Demons”

What Having Haters Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful

I could never fathom how someone would go out of their way to be nasty to another human being. What sort of satisfaction does it serve? Is it a rush, perhaps? An outlet?

When I wrote “What Having a Big Nose Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful”, I knew I was putting myself out there a little bit. For most of my life I figured that as long as I don’t publicly acknowledge that I have a “unique” nose, other people wouldn’t either.

I was right. Once I acknowledged it, other people couldn’t help themselves in having a say either.

Having exposed this insecurity and my relationship with it, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I got messages and comments telling me that my confidence (such as it were) had inspired them to take some steps towards accepting themselves as well. I got messages saying that the uniqueness of my nose was beautiful and nothing to be ashamed about. Hell, someone even told me that my post had made them see their gender dysphoria in a new light, looking for their inner self rather than what they looked like to affirm their new gender identity. It was inspiring for me, and made that insecurity pretty much shrink to nothing. 

Then some teenager on my Instagram called my nose ugly in Swedish and, what’s more, tagged a friend to affirm it. 

I’ll say that, for the record, I wasn’t at all effected by the ensuing comments that included multiple barf emojis from these adolescents hailing from across the world. Standing in Canada, far away Sweden was non-existent in my breadth of understanding. What’s more, my ever-lasting compassion, a quality that even I acknowledge is quite a landmark in my personality, extended even to these poor girls.

The picture in question, which I honestly am kind of proud of – like I said in the caption – “This is an incredibly personal post for me

What’s funny is that whenever you see anyone on the internet acknowledge negativity, there is always a mention of how one should feel sorry for haters and trolls on the internet. I didn’t think much of it until I had a brush with this negativity myself. I felt bad for them –  actually, first I thought it was funny, then I felt sympathy. I had tagged the photo showing off my nose #bignose and #rhinoplasty, which I have no doubt is what landed these girls on my page in the first place. Self-esteem is hard to come by these days, even for these girls who are, admittedly, quite pretty themselves. They were most likely looking for someone that they could call uglier than themselves. Commenting on my picture that I have an ugly nose probably made them feel better about themselves, because they could proudly say that they don’t have my ugly nose, so there’s that. They might feel crippling despair when they look in the mirror, but in their heads, they are making me feel even worse than them. That is a comfort. I’m not assuming they knew what they were doing. That kind of mean-spirited insecurity is very subconscious.

If they were to read this right now, they would probably comment that that’s not at all what it is – “you just have an ugly nose” they would say. They’re right, perhaps I do have an ugly nose. But at least I don’t feel a need to put others down, for whatever reason.

In the end, who is more beautiful? The person who spreads negativity and puts down others for the parts they cannot change, or the person who tries to spread positivity and minds their own business? 

Someone who has true self-love will not feel the need to point out flaws in other people. I don’t want anyone to feel that way, because I know what it feels like to feel worthless… but at least I didn’t cope by putting other people down too. That I can proudly say. 

In the end, they deleted their comments. It was a losing battle, after all. While I didn’t engage with them, people who cared for me did. It’s not something I wanted, but I got messages from people I’ve never met before telling me that I am beautiful. I never doubted that I am beautiful –  if anything, I feel more beautiful, not just because of the whole “rising above the bullshit” stuff, but also literally just out of spite. I don’t have a unique nose after all. I have a big ugly one. But hell, it’s my nose. Only I can put my nose down, not some silly broken teenager on the internet – my insecurity belongs to me. I will fiercely protect it. 

I’m no online personality, but in a strange twist of events having one or two haters definitely elevated my self confidence. Who’d have thought?

Definitely not those girls. 

New Year, New Chance #WorkForHappy

Resolutions are not just for the new year. I know that because my resolutions started in the middle of fall 2017. Rather than fireworks, I started this fresh new chapter of my life in the aftermath of a breakdown that had repeated itself countless times before. I can’t say a breakdown isn’t comparable to fireworks in inventing a new me with a bang though, except this one involved less pretty colors and much more nasal congestion afterwards.

Artwork by Elliana Esquivel

I resolved to be a better person. It’s a huge ask, but I think I’m on track. Whatever ailments of the mental kind that dogged me constantly before became a minimal concern. I weaned off medication eventually, invigorated with a new outlook on life – I would work hard and develop my mental immunity. Sure, I still catch the occasional bout of anxiety or feel the virus of depression seep back into my veins every now and then, especially when I overwork or feel overwhelmed, but it’s just that: a cold. A sick day. I am back on my feet in no time and feel better than ever. At the end of the day, I am much stronger and cognizant of my mental health.

I count myself lucky. I want to tell you something I wish someone told me when I was in that dark place.

It’s all on you. It’s all on you.

You have to build the strength to face whatever struggles on your own. No one can do that for you. No one can make you better. You have to be resolved to get better. 

There’s this trend of wallowing in self pity and staying mentally sick forever because it’s “valid”. Don’t fall for it. While mental conditions cannot be prevented most of the time and most people will most likely suffer with it for the rest of their lives (including me!), that doesn’t mean you can’t manage it. Listen, managing your mental health does not make you any less sick. For example, someone who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer doesn’t equate them to healthy, they are attempting to manage their illness and save their life. Taking care of your mental well being by going to therapy and, I can’t stress this enough, actually listening and doing what you  are instructed to do is a mentally sick person’s way of undergoing intensive treatment to manage their illness and, yes, save their life.

Before anyone comes for my wig or whatever: no, I am not saying that mental illness is not a real illness. I’ve been through it. Hell, I’ve been put in hospital for it and have met people with all kinds of problems and mental and physical struggles. After witnessing the struggles of so many people and going through it myself, I would be the last person to say that mental illness is not real, or that anyone with a mental illness can be cured if they just changed their outlook on life or took responsibility or whatever. I am well aware that’s not how it works. I will never forget the freshman highschooler I met with an anger problem whose eyes lit up at the mention of Melanie Martinez. I will never un-see the rough tough gangster 25-year-old with knife marks all up and down his arms and the way he hugged his little Italian grandma when she came to visit. I most certainly will never forget code whites.

What I am saying is this, and read this very carefully: nothing will get better so long as you do not truly want to get better. For as long as you surrender yourself to doubt, resentment, or settlement, you will remain as you are.


This is just something I wish I knew when I was in the depths of my sickness, because God knows I could have gotten better a hell of a lot quicker if I had known that seeking treatment isn’t admitting defeat, or uncoolly swerving some weird cultural internet trend of being depressed.

If you doubt yourself, you will not get better. You must truly believe that you can do it in order to be successful. If you feel occasional doubt, turn to someone who can reinstate it. Find the people in your life that support you in getting better but do not attempt to control your getting better. Appreciate these people, and support them when you are able to in return.

If you resent your situation or whatever treatment it takes to get better, you will not get better. If you resent your therapist’s methods or your support system or your illness or whatever else, nothing can be done because your focus will always be concentrated on the wrong things. Let go. Find the right treatment for you and focus on yourself. Focus on how you can make yourself stronger, more open, and healed. Celebrate your victories, and acknowledge then move on from the mistakes. This could happen to anyone. It happened upon you. Appreciate your struggle for what it is: a hurdle to get over. An obstacle to overcome.

If you settle for whatever you are feeling now, you will not get better. Things do not magically mend themselves. It takes dedication and change. If change scares you, then get over that fear because it will hold you back for the rest of your life. Bettering yourself takes hard work, and as long as you are willing to do that hard work and welcome the changes that come along with it, and that includes taking full accountability for your mistakes and working to fix them, then you can heal yourself more and more. Be objective as possible. Own up, fess up, and put up. This is about changing yourself. That means getting off your ass even when it’s hard, and going for it.


Artwork by Elliana Esquivel

I worked my ass off to get to the level I am now. Am I done? No! Will I ever be done? Who knows?! I can always go into remission (as one would say in keeping with this whole cancer-is-like-mental-illness metaphor), but you fight it anyway. You take care of yourself. You listen to your body and mind. You make healthy choices with the help of your medical practitioner, therapist, psychiatrist, loved one, role model, mentor, mom, dad, grandma, cool book, fandom, ER nurse, whatever. 

At the end of the day, this is about you. If wallowing in self pity and wondering why nothing is turning out right is something you want to spend the rest of your life doing, then go ahead. This is just something I wish I knew when I was in the depths of my sickness, because God knows I could have gotten better a hell of a lot quicker if I had known that seeking treatment isn’t admitting defeat, or uncoolly swerving some weird cultural internet trend of being depressed.

If it takes the new year to put your life into perspective, then to hell with it. I will always encourage people to do what they think is best to make them happy. That being said, sometimes it takes a little kick in the ass to get going on that. Sometimes what we think for ourselves isn’t the best thing for us. That’s what friends, family, and healthcare is for.

Take advantage of this new year. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and believe that this will be the year you better yourself for real. Set goals, work towards something, and watch yourself become the person you would have looked up to a year ago.

Best of luck. And happy new year.

Breaking the Cycle of Silent Treatment #WorkForHappy

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Artwork by Sina Shagrai

Here’s the God honest truth about silent treatment – dishing it out feels like sweet justice. It’s the kind of satisfaction that makes you a little power-hungry, especially when it works over and over again.

On the flip side, being on the receiving end of silent treatment stings. You feel like you have to swallow your pride and give in, or suffer a drawn out punishment that maybe you don’t deserve.

Having been on both ends of the deal, I think I have a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of silent treatment.

Spoiler – there are no pros. It’s all cons.

Breaking the cycle takes a lot of guts and twice as much resilience, but I promise that it is so incredibly rewarding to break out, no matter which side you’re playing. Ultimately, this is just what I realized through my experiences. You can take it or leave it, but I’m not going to stay silent about it.

After all, that’s sort of the point.

Powerful vs. Powerless

I realized the behaviour I was choosing actually contributed to people walking out on me, and in a state of blissful ignorance, I’d say “good riddance”. Then I lost almost everyone, and I was forced to figure out what the trend was.

I realized that having fallen for it every time someone pushed the behaviour on me, I had subconsciously decided that silent treatment was the most effective way to get what I want.

After all, I always gave in. I can make people give in to me as well. Right? Continue reading “Breaking the Cycle of Silent Treatment #WorkForHappy”

How Being Childish Made Me More Mature Than Most People My Age

Maturity shouldn’t be described like it’s some personality trait, because maturity is imperative to your personal success. [Click To Tweet!]

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Source

As a child I was too childish. My enthusiasm was met with a roll of the eyes from peers, and my habit of being a little too loud was a nuisance. Now, much older, I can see why it was annoying. Nonetheless it’s a weird paradox, being called childish as a child.

It wasn’t infrequent, being asked why the hell I couldn’t just “grow up!” by people who, honestly, probably couldn’t even grasp the concept of maturity themselves. I used to respond with a blank stare, but now I know exactly how to respond to the accusation.

Being childish and immature isn’t the same thing. I know why because I am childish in a lot of ways, but I’m a helluva lot more grow-up than most people I went to middle-school with.

Immature people care about seeming mature. Now, having come to a point in my life where I can compare myself to the person I was yesterday instead of those around me, I’ll tell you why this has changed me in a way that truly, honestly made me into a real “adult”

And it involves a bit of Disney. Continue reading “How Being Childish Made Me More Mature Than Most People My Age”

What Having a Big Nose Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful

Do I have to love my nose? No. Do I have the right to hate it? Also a no. (ClickToTweet!)

When I tell people I want a nose job, the answer is almost always, “but why?! I love your nose, it’s so unique!”

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This was the first time I was purposely trying to capture my nose in a picture

I have wanted to scream that I don’t want a unique nose. I hated that word. I always wanted to yell: “I just want a normal nose! I just want it to be remarkably unremarkable!”

I don’t necessarily hate my nose anymore, but I still want to go under the knife. Am I a terrible person for promoting self-love in the same breath as expressing my desire to have cosmetic surgery? Am I a hypocrite? Absolutely not.

It is possible to love yourself and still feel insecure about some bits and pieces.

This is my body, and it’s my freaking story.
Continue reading “What Having a Big Nose Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful”