with or without

I got to Union Station a little later then I expected, but none of that mattered because I was finally here. I would of been here sooner if I took the train instead of the bus, but just the idea of trains freak me out for a reason I still can't quite point out. I turned down the Sia Christmas album I had on loop for the past hour now and took out my phone to accurately maneuver around the city. The streets are busy, crowded and energetic as people flood in and out wearing Maple Leaf jerseys and others dressed elegantly for dinners. I can never get used to the tall buildings here that cover up most of the view of the sky but the busy, ambitious atmosphere in the air always connects to my spirit. This is not a story about a girl who saw the city for the first time after living on a secluded farm or something, but the story of a girl who left the house to attend an event, the Toronto Christmas Market to be exact, all by herself duh duh duh!

I am proud to announce that all the photos of me on here were taken by complete strangers, which was odd but fun. We chatted in between shots, some fixed my awkward poses and postures and others were glad to take my photos if I took one of them and their friends, boyfriend or tiny dogs.

 

This might not be a big deal to most people, but the idea of doing things by myself; eating alone or simply waiting around for a friend, used to freak me out. Looking back, I wasn't terrified or unsafe when alone but oh so concerned with how my standing, eating, waiting alone made others think of me. My perspective of myself was a reflection of what others perceived me to be. I would read body language or a room to then attempt to match it. Am I being too awkward? Are people staring? Am I slouching? Am I talking too little or too much? A result of overthinking was just being plain awkward, odd and not retaining information. I never had the benefit of being in the present, but had conditioned myself to wait till someone was done talking so I can give my rehearsed response. I was definitely a horrible listener when I was with people and an odd anxious being when left alone.

Anyone who knows me today, knows I love my space. From walks, coffee dates, long drives or events that I really want to go to, I will gladly go by myself if no one wants to go, can't go or doesn't have the same taste as me.

As the years go by, the more I change and so do those around me. It doesn't mean we stop being friends if interests and schedules don't match, and it definitely doesn't mean I back out of these plans.

I have come to learn to make and keep appointments with myself the way I would if I had to see a friend or a doctor or whatever. You prepare ahead of time, you show up on time and you never let new unscheduled plans interrupt this time you've carved out for yourself. If I'm giving myself 30 mins of yoga in the morning, best believe I'm not multitasking, rescheduling till after breakfast or answering my phone. It's rude towards myself. We rush over whenever our presence is required or requested elsewhere, but never do the same for ourselves.

What would happen instead of worrying and overthinking, you just did what you wanted to do "with or without" the things you think you need to do them. Not waiting for permission or trying to find the perfect excuse, but just jumping in head first. When you really really want to do something, pursue something, say something that is authentic and true to you, it will not matter if people are there or not, but that you are being your truest self.

This topic dropped in my spirit right in time for the new year and I'm glad it did. Oh what I would give to the tell younger me to stop being such bleh and just do it, even it means you do it alone. Maybe she would of been so much happier, much much sooner. To have deprived the world and myself from my truest self will always be one of my biggest regrets. From all the words unspoken to all the things I wanted to do but just sat there quietly instead. When you're not "you" or comfortable being alone with "you" then you are essentially not present in this moment, that is your reality.

Accepting that you are here the way that you are is the place to start. So what if you're single this Christmas or are broke from buying presents or can't find a dress for the upcoming wedding (which might all be real life examples), it is what it is. You are here, don't waste time avoiding the reality, reminiscing on the past or anxious about the future, just be. Affirm yourself that you will be fine "with or without" these things. Find peace of mind despite the things that are not going according to plan and some of the things we can never change.

If I didn't go I definitely would of watched Rise of the Guardians in my pj's with butterless popcorn and deep regret. I would of pictured how the evening could have gone over and over in my head over and added this to the list of things not done (out of useless useless fear). When none of my family members could fill the spot I had reserved for my friend who couldn't make it, my mom thought I was kidding when I said I was going by myself. So I put on my big girl pants and was on my way with a little too much excitement. I honestly had a great time, minus waiting over half and hour to get in, it was great. The smell of poutine, pastries and syrup floated oh so lightly in the air, and it was if I had died and gone to Canadian heaven (which would be a great afterlife, not gonna lie). The lights were spectacular, the weather was just perfect and that feeling that Shawn Mendes might be here made me anxy, in a good way.

"With or without" is the new 2019 mantra, until anything else comes up. With or without other people I will be my most authentic self. With or without I will give time to myself, be okay with myself, go easy on myself. I will accept my circumstances. I will be okay with where I'm at, how I'm feeling about it and where I've been. And lastly I will not allow myself to be so dependent, needy or desperate because that's an insult to the living art that is every Beyonce album ever written. I love myself too much to worry about the most insignificant things that only seem to work against me. So I hope that in the next year you set off on a journey of hanging out with yourself and maybe even liking it. More then anything I wish everyone to find the right people to do things with but also the find the knowledge that you are a brave soul that is fully capable of doing it without.

A mulled beer cheers to you,