Be a student of life.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

The idea of starting a blog had been on my mind ever since I moved. Somehow, it’s taken me seven months to actually do it. I write constantly, with the notepad on my phone filled with my daily musings, but they were mainly unfinished, a work in progress. Besides, there were other things that prevented me from blogging. What would be my blog name? What would be the first thing that I write about? And, a part of me felt a little bit unsatisfied with everything that I wrote as it had been a long time since I sat down and wrote anything than my rambling train of thought.

You’ll have to excuse me for a moment while I veer a little off topic.

Growing up, I loved to read and write. I was the kid that went to the library and tried to convince the librarian to let me take out more than the allowed maximum of books. I was the kid who disappeared so deep into a book that I was completely unaware of everything around me – including someone saying my own name. My dad was the same way. We loved to read, and had this tiny little problem called “can’t put a book down”. Once I started a book, I needed to know how it ended. I wanted to live in the stories I read.

Besides my infatuation with reading, I loved to write. It started when I was quite young, and I would write little stories. The most basic, nonsensical stories, that, of course, made absolute sense to me. Thankfully I became better at expressing myself on paper over time, however, my anxiety often stifled creativity for fear of what people would think. I found solace online one day, in the form of roleplaying. That was where I learned how to write with creativity and character, likely due to the anonymity I was granted online. It taught me how to write in a style that was distinctly mine.

English class grew to be one of my favourite subjects, and I strongly considered choosing English as my major in university until my fascination with psychology took over. I had a wonderful English teacher in my last few years of high school. I was becoming increasingly lackadaisical at school, but she was consistently encouraging and always supportive. On one hand, I had chemistry and biology teachers who casually suggested that I don’t take their classes, and math teachers who treated me as if I was clueless. On the other, I had an English teacher who believed in me, and saw the potential in me despite my occasional apathy and lack of motivation.

For years afterwards, I avoided anything to do with science or math. Those high school teachers had me doubting my own ability. I think it’s important to note that the doubt they had instilled in me slowly waned and I started taking classes that once would have intimidated me such as psychopharmacology, cognitive neuroscience, human neuropsychology, and not only were they some of my favourite classes, but I excelled in them.

What I never doubted was my writing skills. I will never be a great writer, or poet, or essayist, but I enjoyed writing, and my teacher never diminished that. Over my years of high school and university, I wrote short stories and poems, and various types of academic essays with confidence. I always took criticism as being constructive, because my teacher had never given me a reason to take it as anything else.

Eventually I stopped writing creatively as the many academic papers for psychology took over my life. I stopped reading anything other than my textbooks. I will always love psychology and don’t regret my decision to major in it (despite its lack of usefulness as a bachelors degree on its own when it comes to getting a job) but somewhere along the line, I lost something that I loved. On top of that, once I graduated, I took a step back from learning as well. I have since realized that one does not have to be a student in school to be a student in life. I spent 12 years learning and practicing the French language, and once I received that high school diploma, French disappeared from my life. Simple things like picking up a newspaper, using social media to stay on top of current events or listening to a French radio station are little things I’ve picked up and returned to doing.

Now, what does this all have to do with starting a blog? For me, it’s getting back to writing. This blog is for me. It’s to regain something that I lost. It’s to combine things that I love. Writing. Travel. Photography. People. Psychology. Culture. (Etc.) It’s a space for discovery and exploration. Travelling, and all the people I have met and the places I have seen, have inspired me to learn more about the world we live in. I want this blog to serve as a reminder to myself to always do what I love, and strive to be a better person than I was yesterday.

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