Why do we feel the need to reinvent ourselves in the New Year?

new-year-2017-png-12I used to be among the people who followed the “New Year, new me” mantra each year. I viewed the New Year as a fresh start to change the things that I don’t like about myself which, in a way, meant starting off the new beginning on a sour note. After all, finding things to change about myself meant focusing on the negatives rather than the positives which ultimately goes against my goal of self-love.

For this reason, I’ve decided for the past few years to focus my efforts on elements of myself that I like and want to continue to invest my time and energy into rather than finding things that I need to change about myself. I don’t set resolutions because to me the word has a negative connotation; instead, I set goals. Of course, this is not to say that setting resolutions and setting goals are two separate entities for everyone, but for me, the change in phrasing makes me think much more positively about myself and self-improvement rather than resolving to negate or eliminate parts of myself that I do not like.

Additionally, I don’t entirely agree with the idea of “reinvention” every year. What’s so wrong with the You that you were a few days ago in 2016? Why do you feel the need to completely reinvent yourself? For me, I find it much more positive to focus on how I want to improve the Me that I was last year by building on my strengths or working towards my goals for the future rather than trying to completely change who I am as a person. I think we as a society have come to view reinvention as this exotic, glamorous evolution when in reality, it might mean losing parts of yourself that make you wonderful. In my experience, any time I’ve tried to “reinvent” myself, it has been for the wrong reasons. I didn’t do it for myself or my own wellbeing; instead, I did it to make other people happy and, in the process, ended up making myself miserable. In every instance of self-reinvention that I have ever attempted I can now look back and see it as self-suppression during which time I lost parts of myself that I can now appreciate and even love.

So, I guess what I’m saying here is: why do you want to reinvent yourself? Why not try to improve yourself instead? Surely you’ve got a solid foundation of wonderful attributes, so why not try to build on those and add to yourself and who you are rather than focusing on the negative and taking away parts of who you are? I’m not naïve enough to believe that no human on the face of this planet has some bad habits or characteristics that could use changing, but I also believe that many of you out there who want to destroy (ahem…”reinvent”) parts of yourself are blind to the fact that those parts of yourself aren’t all that bad. Sometimes the things that you see in yourself as weakness, others see as a strength. It’s all about perspective.

Now ask yourself, do you really need reinvention?

Just some food for thought.

Ayla

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7 Things to expect in the first month of living in a new city

Hello lovely readers!

As some of you may already know based on my previous post, I’ve recently moved to a new (and much much MUCH larger) city! As such, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to share my experiences of transitioning to a new city. This will be the second time in 2 years that I’ve moved to a new city so it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about the transition, the highs and lows, and how to get acclimatized to a new environment. So, without further ado, here is my list of 7 things to expect in the first month of living in a new city!

Chicago skyline aerial view at dusk

  1. Sadness

I know, this definitely isn’t what you want to hear if you’re preparing for a big move, but you’ve got to be realistic. As with any big life change, moving to a new city means leaving behind parts of your life that you’ve become accustomed to. As a result, you might feel sad in the first few days or even weeks or months following your move. But don’t worry, once you get settled into the new city, meet new people, and put down some roots you will soon move past this sadness and embrace your new life!

  1. Excitement

At some point in the first few weeks of moving to a new city, you’re probably going to feel a huge rush of excitement and the urge to explore. On my very first day here I went for a 3 hour walk to explore (I’ve still got the sore muscles to prove it…). With that being said, this excitement did not come during my first move to a new city until I had been there for 2-3 weeks. My first transition was a lot harder for me so it took a little longer for the excitement to kick in, but it did come along eventually!

  1. Feeling lost

Getting lost in your new city is bound to happen at some point. If you take public transit you’ve got to learn all of the new bus routes that you will need to take and on top of that you’ve got to find your way to essential locations such a grocery stores, the pharmacy, the bank, school (if you’re a student), and work, to name only a few. While getting lost can be a little (or a lot) scary, try to have fun with it and embrace the adventure. And if you’ve got a smartphone with a data plan, you’ll at least have the peace of mind of having a GPS in your pocket at all times to help you out if you really need it.

  1. Stress

Stress is an inevitable (but manageable) part of the moving process. The actual moving day in and of itself is stressful, but then you’ve also got the financial stress of paying for the move, the stress of adapting to a new city, the stress of feeling cut off from your old life, and (in my case) the stress of having to find a new job. With this in mind, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and do things that you enjoy that will help you manage your stress level. It’s also important to remember that even though you’ve moved to a new city, you’re not entirely cut off from the people you love who will support you; pick up the phone and call someone when you need to! You don’t have to go through all of this stress alone! (And if you find that you’re really struggling, perhaps consider finding yourself a good therapist who can help you through this life transition.)

  1. Loneliness

Loneliness is something that I personally have been struggling with over the past few days. I don’t really know anyone in my new city aside from a few classmates. I’ve moved even further away from my already far family and while I’m closer to my best friend, she’s still an hour and a half away. As a result, I’ve been feeling pretty isolated even though I actually tend to prefer spending time alone. So, to deal with this loneliness I’ve been distracting myself by embracing the excitement of the move and forcing myself to go out for at least a few hours every day and explore a new street/neighborhood every day. Not only is this helping me get a better grasp on the layout of the city, but it’s also keeping my mind busy and giving my body some much needed exercise to help with my stress.

       6. New experiences

A new city means new opportunities and tons of new experiences. There are new places to explore, new restaurants to try, new adventures to go on with friends! You might feel like turning into a hermit and staying in the safety of your warm bed with the company of Netflix, but try to challenge yourself! Get out there and enjoy all that your city has to offer you!

7. Personal growth

Moving to a new city means forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone and that means you have opportunities for personal growth. You get to experience a level of courage and resilience that you may not have known you possessed until you managed to move to a new place and survive the transition! Congratulations! You’re stronger than you knew and now you can take on even bigger life changes that you might have previously been afraid of! Now give yourself a pat on the back and take a moment to recognize and appreciate your strength! And, of course, enjoy your new home.

xo

Ayla

Grad School Semester #1: Check!

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At the beginning of 2016 I made a page-long bucket list of things that I wanted to complete this year. And as of one week ago I can officially say that I checked off the last item on the list: completing my first semester of grad school.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here (grad school homework + part-time job= no free time) so just to catch you up on what I’ve been up to for the past four months, I’ve been work work working away on my Master of Social Work degree. As someone who does not have a background in clinical work, there has definitely been a HUGE learning curve this semester, but I can honestly say that I worked hard and I feel like I learned A LOT that will be useful in my future career as a therapist.

One thing that really surprised me over this past semester is the fact that I have an interest in more than just one area of social work. Initially, I was completely against working in hospital social work; however, after an inspiring shadowing opportunity in a major Canadian hospital, I feel compelled to explore this as a possible area of social work that I might work in. While my primary goal is still to work in the area of mental health as a therapist, I feel a lot more open to exploring a wider range of social work settings before settling down into one role for the rest of my career.

Interestingly, I’ve also realized that I might not be as much of a suburbs and country-side person as I once thought I was. In fact, going to school in such a large city has completely changed my outlook for where my life will take me in 5-10 years. Before beginning this program I thought for sure that I would hate the big city but I’ve absolutely loved it. This was something that took me entirely by surprise as I was so sure that I would hate it. I guess that just goes to show how much people can change even in a short time!

With all of that being said, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned over the course of my first semester of grad school is that life changes so fast. Change is inevitable. I shouldn’t try to fight it and neither should you, my lovely readers! Change is terrifying and exhilarating and wonderful! As I am writing this I am preparing for a massive change tomorrow: I’m moving to the city that just four months ago terrified me. Looking back I can hardly believe how much I have grown and how much stronger I am for all of the challenges I’ve overcome. Change is a challenge, but change is necessary. How can you expect to grow if you never change?

xo

Ayla

 

The LENA cup review: Making “that time of the month” easier for young girls and women alike

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When I was roughly nine or ten years old, I remember my Mom and I driving to the local Walmart to pick up a few things and suddenly, “the talk” happened. No, not THAT talk; the period talk!

At the time, I had been very wide-eyed and curious about the whole idea of a menstrual cycle. What do you mean girls bleed out of THERE for a few days every month? How long will it go on for? Is there a way that I can make it stop? Why does it happen to girls but not boys? My initial reaction was one of confusion, anxiety, and fear. However, after I started to learn more about the process and discovered that it is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of, I started to actually feel excited about the prospect of menstruation.

At this point, in typical Ayla fashion, I decided that I wanted to be prepared so I asked my Mom to buy me supplies just in case. The next day, she came home with a package of pads and showed me how to use them. A few years later when I started high school, I discovered tampons; however, there was (and still is) a bit of a taboo about using tampons. Some people feel as though there is a certain age at which a girl is finally old enough to use tampons while others are completely against the use of such products because they pose a threat to the socially constructed concept of virginity.

Not surprisingly, when I discovered menstrual cups eight years later, I was faced with many of the same taboos that surround tampons…only much much worse. Initially, I experienced many of the same feelings of fear and anxiety that I had experienced when I first learned about periods. However, these fears were quickly dismissed after I did my research and discovered just how safe and convenient menstrual cups really are! Even still, I had an insistent voice in the back of my head telling me that I was too young to use a menstrual cup. Now, looking back, I wish I had known what I know now: any menstruating female can use a menstrual cup, no matter her age! Which leads me to the whole point of this post: the LENA cup.

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The LENA cup is the third menstrual cup that I have used and I can honestly say that it would be perfect for anyone who is just starting to use a cup, as well as anyone who is looking to switch things up for a more user-friendly and comfortable option. For starters, the flexibility and smooth rim design make the insertion process so much easier than other products such as the Diva Cup. Additionally, the LENA cup is the only menstrual cup that I am aware of that features slanted suction holes which not only prevents leakage, but also makes it much easier to clean than other menstrual cups.

Speaking of leakage, I personally find bell-shaped cups like the LENA cup to be better for avoiding leaks than cone-shaped cups like the Diva cup. I personally have not experienced any leakage with the LENA cup so far; however, if you’re new to using cups it might take you a few tries to get the positioning right so that you don’t experience any leakage. I recommend wearing a pad or liner for the first few attempts at using the LENA cup just in case you don’t quite have the positioning right. Additionally, it’s important to empty the cup every 4-12 hours (depending on your flow) to ensure that the cup does not overflow and cause leakage. In other words, if you use the cup according to the guidelines in the instruction manual, you should be leak-free!

In terms of removal, the long stem coupled with the grip rings around the base of the LENA cup make removal of the cup a lot easier than you might think. Before using a menstrual cup, my biggest fear had been that it would somehow get lost inside of my body. However, this is actually impossible based on the anatomy of the female body and the removal process becomes much easier with practice. Depending on your preference, you might choose to keep the stem or cut it off. The LENA cup features grip rings on both the stem and the cup so either way you should be able to get a firm grip on the cup to make the removal process much easier, which is definitely a plus when compared to cups with a smooth base or shorter stem.

The cup comes in two seizes: LENA small (for first-time users and normal flow) and LENA large (for a heavier flow). While other companies advertise the sizing based on whether or not you have given birth vaginally or not, LENA bases the sizing on whether you have a light/normal flow versus a heavy flow. Personally, I like this about the company because I know of women as young as 15 or 16 who use the larger sized menstrual cup despite never having given birth. With that being said, if you are new to using menstrual cups I would recommend using the LENA small to start out because its smaller size makes insertion easier and a bit less daunting.

Overall, the LENA cup is an excellent menstrual cup and I believe that it would be perfect for younger females (teens and preteens) as well as adult women. As the company claims, I can confidently say that the small LENA cup is the perfect starter cup for women and girls who are new to menstrual cups! I absolutely love the LENA cup and I would recommend it to all of my friends, family, and readers! Having your period is nothing to be ashamed of and neither is the use of a menstrual cup! So with all of this in mind, you might still be wondering:

WHY USE A MENSTRUAL CUP?

100% safe!

The LENA cup is made of medical-grade silicone and is hypoallergenic so it is completely safe for you to use. Unlike other feminine hygiene products like pads and tampons, you never have to worry about harsh chemicals entering your body.

Maintain your natural balance

Unlike tampons, the LENA cup helps you maintain your pH balance and natural moisture which can help you avoid discomfort, dryness, and itching.

Comfort

Once inserted, you cannot feel the LENA cup. This coupled with the 12-hour capacity means that you might just forget that you’re on your period while using a menstrual cup!

Convenience

Menstrual cups have a much higher capacity than pads and tampons so they can be left in for up to 12 hours without needing to be emptied. This means that you could empty your cup in the morning and leave it in all day while you’re at school or at work without worrying about leakage. Plus, there is no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) which means you can leave it in overnight!

Save money

While the cost of a menstrual cup is higher upfront than the cost of pads or tampons, you can re-use them for years which means that in the long term you save hundreds of dollars! The LENA cup sells for $35.99 on their website.

Better for the environment

Pads and tampons create a huge amount of waste that ends up in landfills, oceans, and lakes. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, are re-usable and much more environmentally friendly.

ARE YOU READY TO MAKE THE SWITCH TO MENSTRUAL CUPS?

If you are interested in purchasing your own LENA cup, visit their website and enter promo-code LENAMOON to get 15% off of your purchase on lenacup.com! 

Remember, there is no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed about menstruating or using a menstrual cup! The cup tends to get a bad reputation and is often viewed as unhygienic despite all off the research which demonstrates that menstrual cups are actually much more sanitary and safe in comparison to other feminine hygiene products! Whether you’re 10 years old or 35 years old, it’s never to early or too late to make the switch and reap the rewards of using a menstrual cup!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, comments or feedback!

xo
Ayla

Note: I received a complementary LENA cup in exchange for an honest user review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

 

Grad School week one: success!!

apply_nowThe past week has been a whirlwind of excitement, anxiety, uncertainty, information overload, and incredible opportunities. Tomorrow marks the first day of official classes which means that I successfully managed to make it through the orientation and introductory conference days! Week one of grad school was a success!

One week ago I was full of anxiety and nerves. I was terrified of navigating the city and such a large campus and I was equally concerned that my panic attacks would get in the way of me being able to truly enjoy the experiences. While the first day was certainly a day fit for a few panic attacks, the rest of the week went relatively well which was great! Much better than expected!

Additionally, I managed to find two other women with similar interests and lifestyle habits who I instantly bonded with and spent the rest of the week with. Having someone to sit with, talk to, and eat lunch with made a world of difference for staving off my worries and anxiety. Plus, I had added the bonus of travel buddies to help me navigate public transit and get used to getting around the campus.

Overall, I am excited about this new chapter in my life and I am completely exhausted. I can officially say that I am pursuing a career in social work after years of thinking that my own struggles posed a barrier to my ability to achieve this dream. I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. I am becoming a social working and I am going to dedicate my career to helping people who struggle with mental illness.

I can’t wait to develop my skills and gain the knowledge that I need to be an effective, empathetic, and supportive therapist. Here’s to making the most of an incredible opportunity!

Ayla

When a house doesn’t feel like a home

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How do you make a house feel like home?

I’ve been living in my current place for over a year now and try as I might, I just can’t make it feel like home. I’ve got my belongings here; I’ve tried redecorating numerous times; I’ve lived with a roommate and without. Nothing seems to make a difference.

I think part of me really just can’t get past the temporary nature of my living arrangement. While I technically have my own “apartment”, I live in a house with other people and there are a few common areas. The apartment is intended only for students which means that as soon as I finish grad school I will have to find somewhere else to live. Furthermore, because there are shared common areas in this house, it doesn’t feel like my “apartment” is truly a private space.

Similarly, in my previous living situation I had moved into a condominium with two other women who had been living there for three years. When their roommate moved out, I moved in, but because they had been living there for so long already, I felt like a guest in their space. In this case, I could understand why I felt this way, but it’s so frustrating to feel similar experiences in my current apartment as well.

Am I going to feel this way about every space that I rent? Will I never experience the feeling of “home” until I actually own my own house?

I feel as though I’m in a very transitional period of life in which I changed career paths, quit my previous job, and am going back to school in a new (and terrifyingly huge) city. Everything is changing and I don’t even feel as though I have the comfortable familiarity of home that I did growing up. So, I wonder, how do I make a house feel like a home? How do I make my space feel like my own personal haven rather than feeling like a storage bunker for my clothes and furniture?

Have any of you ever felt this way? What do you do to make your space feel like home? Will this feeling go away once I finish school and move into a more “permanent” space? Ideally I’ll be living here for the next two years, which is a long time, but just knowing that there is a predetermined end to my stay here makes it feel so temporary.

Any advice?

xo
Ayla

We all have those days: A how-to guide for getting out of a rut

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We’ve all had those days (or weeks…or months as the case may be). You know the ones I’m talking about. The days when it feels like everything is going wrong, life is a disaster, and the day seems lost from the start, so why even bother getting out of bed? Well, for those of you who really just don’t know how to get yourself out of the rut of bad days, here are some of the ways that I try to make my bad days just a little bit better.

Get out of bed.

Seriously. Pull back the covers, sit up, have a stretch, and GET OUT OF BED. How can you expect your day to get better if you just stay in bed wallowing for hours on end?

Treat yourself to a nice breakfast.

Food can improve your mood. When you wake up in the morning after 8+ hours of sleeping, your body needs food to start the day right. If you skip breakfast, your body will stay in starvation mode which can increase your anxiety.

On top of alleviating anxiety, eating breakfast can be a great opportunity to treat yourself to a nice home-cooked meal, or maybe if you’re feeling up to it you could even take yourself to your favorite cafe or breakfast restaurant! A nice yummy breakfast is bound to improve even a small portion of your day.

50-ways-to-take-a-break-printableGive yourself permission to take a break.

Sometimes you just really need to take a break. Burnout can happen when you forget to take care of yourself or take time for the things that you enjoy. Make sure that you’re giving yourself permission to take time for yourself each day to recharge.

Spend some time with friends.

Spending time with friends (whether its in person or via phone/skype) can be a great way to pull yourself out of a rut. It gives you an opportunity to talk through whatever might be dragging you down. Recognizing the problem and putting it into words can often be a great way to help yourself brainstorm ways to get through it and feel better.

Look at pictures of baby animals.

Seriously, I was skeptical about the actual effectiveness of this one initially; however, it is scientifically proven that looking at images of baby animals can improve your mood! And the effectiveness of this mood booster increases even more if you can spend time with a real animal such as a puppy or cat. Animal therapy is a real thing. How can you resist a face as cute as this?

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Go for a walk.

Fresh air can often work wonders on a negative state of mind, not to mention the scientifically-backed idea that exercise is a great way to improve mood and reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.

Take it ten seconds at a time.

For this point, I give full credit to the writers of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. In the TV show, Kimmy explains that when she is having a hard time, she focuses all of her energy on getting through the next ten seconds. This can help make the day seem more manageable and it can also act as proof that you are strong enough to get through whatever you are facing because you will get through those ten second intervals time and time again.

Think of the things you have to be grateful for.

In moments when it feels like everything is going wrong, I find it especially helpful to remind myself of the things that I am grateful for. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for my place in grad school. I am grateful that I get to pursue my dream career. I am grateful for my hopes and dreams. I am grateful for my therapist. I am grateful that I am alive. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, food to fuel my body, and air to breathe.

By reminding myself of everything that I have to be grateful for, I can re-frame my negative mindset and remember that even though it feels as though nothing is going right, this is not the case.

♥♥♥

These are some of the tricks that I use to get me through those days when it feels as though everything is chaos and nothing is going right. Let me know in the comments what you think and also feel free to add on any of your own tips!

Happy long weekend!

xo
Ayla

Money saving tips for university students!

In just four short days I will be returning to university to complete my Master’s degree in Social Work. While I could not be more excited for this new chapter of my life, I am also acutely aware of the financial strain that comes along with being a university student. So with that in mind, here are some money saving tips that I’ve learned over the course of my years as a university student!

Track your spending

spending_moneyJust as counting calories helps dieters hold themselves accountable, tracking your spending by keeping a financial log book can help you keep track of not only how much you’re spending, but also how much of your monthly expenses are unnecessary. Treating yourself to a non-essential item every once in a while is okay, but if you notice that you’re treating yourself every single week then it might be time to reevaluate your spending habits and budget your money more strictly.

Shop for groceries with cash rather than cards and always use a list

When you go grocery shopping you should always be shopping for what you need rather than what is on sale. Its easy to get sucked into spending too much on groceries if you see items that are on sale for a good good price. By creating a list before you go shopping and restricting yourself to a cash budget you avoid spending too much money on things that you don’t actually need. Say no to sales! They might seem like a good idea at the time but they are there to make you spend more money. The only exception to this rule is if there is a sale on something that you actually use a lot, in which case you should stock up! For me, I eat a lot of pasta during the school year so I stock up on pasta sauce whenever it goes on sale!

Make bulk meals

Slow-cooker bulk meals are a student’s best friend. I tend to cook a lot of chili and stew in bulk batches so that I can get 8-10 meals out of it. This not only saves money, but it also allows you to freeze leftovers for convenient meals when the semester starts to pick up and you don’t have time to cook. Who says you have to live on ramen  noodles? Cooking a big pot of chili is just as cheap per serving and its much healthier and nutrient packed!

woman-drinking-coffeeMake coffee at home

If you’re a coffee or tea drinker you might want to consider switching to instant coffee and/or tea bags from home. A container of instant coffee ranges in price from 3-6$ usually and can last 1-2 months depending how many cups you’re drinking everyday. Alternatively, a package of 100 black tea bags can be purchased for 2$ which means you’re paying roughly 2 cents per cup of tea rather than 2$. Over the course of a year this really adds up! You can easily save hundreds of dollars by making this switch.

Cut your own hair!

This one might be a bit extreme for some, and if you’ve never cut your own hair before then I suggest you watch a few YouTube videos before giving this a go, but it can definitely help you save money. Personally, I have a fairly simple hair style so its easy for me to cut my own hair. Depending on where you get your hair cut, prices range from 15$- 150$. Therefore, this could be a good way to save a few bucks or a significant amount of cash as the case may be. DIY hair cuts won’t be for everyone, but it’s not as hard as you might think!

Buy textbooks used or borrow from the library

Buying used textbooks is a great way to save hundreds of dollars per semester. Alternatively, if you only need a few chapters of a textbook for a class, it might be worth spending some time at the library photocopying only the chapters you need (or just borrow the book to read the chapters) rather than spending the money to buy the book.

Sell things that you no longer use

Recently, I went through my closet and took a pile of clothes, shoes, jewelry, and purses to a local consignment store. The store did not take everything (in fact, they only took six items) but I managed to make an extra 30$! This may not seem like much, but that money was used to buy myself an alarm clock and a school bag, both of which I would otherwise have needed to buy with the money I earn from my job.

Make your own meals rather than dining out

Eating out is one of the first things that I cut from my budget as a student. Packing your own lunch and eating breakfast and dinner at home saves a ton of money!

Avoid costly outings and instead opt for fun nights in

As an introvert, I prefer to spend my time at home so it wasn’t exactly hard for me to cut costs on entertainment. But for those of you who enjoy going out, perhaps you might opt for cheaper options like a movie night in or a games night with friends.

Stop going window shopping to quell boredom

Window shopping is rarely just window shopping. If you spend enough time wandering aimlessly through stores to quell boredom, chances are that you will find something that you will want to buy. Resisting temptation is a lot easier if you never go into the store to begin with! You can’t want that new purse if you don’t even know it exists!

Walk instead of driving or taking public transit

walkingshoePersonally, I love walking and I hate public transit so making this switch was also fairly easy for me. Not only is it a great way to get some exercise in (which is a great way for students to relieve school stress!) but it also helps you save money.

If you don’t absolutely NEED a car, don’t get one!

As someone who has owned a vehicle before, I can understand the strong desire to own your own car. The convenience is wonderful; however, car payments and insurance payments will put a huge dent in your budget. By taking public transit rather than owning a vehicle you will automatically save thousands of dollars in car insurance every year. Sometimes being a student means sacrificing some of life’s luxuries. Owning a car is one of those luxuries.

Work part-time to reduce loan debt and save on interest long-term

At the pay deskWorking part-time is not only a good way to build your resume and gain new skill sets, but it also helps you pay for some of your expenses without needing to rely solely on student loans or lines of credit. Working just ten hours a week could bring in roughly 400-450$ (assuming a minimum wage payment) and over time this can really add up when you consider that you won’t be paying interest on that money which would otherwise be accumulating as a debt to be paid off in the future.

♥♥♥

These are just a few of the tips that I use to save money while I’m in university and I hope that some of you will find them useful as well! At the end of the day, you’ll have to make sacrifices in order to afford the cost of a post-secondary education. Just remember that it will all be worth it in the end when you’re working your dream job!

xo
Ayla

Reasons why it’s okay to not want kids

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If you’re a twenty-something female, chances are you’ve probably started to receive comments about your so-called “biological clock” tick tick ticking away and felt the pressure of people passing judgement on your childless life. But the scrutiny doesn’t end there, not even close! In fact, as soon as you so much as voice the idea of never having children you will be bombarded with people undermining your ability to make decisions for yourself with the claim that “you’ll change your mind one day, just you wait and see”.

Thankfully, I’m self-aware enough to know that people who make statements such as this are simply self-absorbed individuals who are trying to force their own beliefs onto me. Not wanting to have kids is not a selfish impulsive decision that I made as a careless teenager; it is something that I’ve carefully considered for years now without having the slightest waiver in my decision. For me, this means I have no desire to have my own biological children; however, in the event that I decide to have children in the future, I will adopt children who are in need of a loving home. While others may feel the need to have their own biological child, I see a need for thousands of children to find loving homes so I would much rather adopt one of these children as opposed to having my own. So while I am quite certain that I do not want to have children at all, I do have a backup plan in the event that I change my mind in ten years. People change, so it is entirely possible that one day I will want to raise a family, but as of right now I have absolutely no desire to raise any children unless they are pugs. Because I am just as certain about the fact that I will one day have a fur-baby as I am about the fact that I do not want a human baby.

So, without further ado, here is a list of reasons why it is 100% completely okay to not want to have children!!

Freedom to live the life that you want to live

A life without children is a life without nearly as many things to tie you down to one way of life. Maybe you want to travel the world or dedicate your life to your career. Some people might claim that this is a selfish reason to not have children, but if you’re only having kids to not seem selfish then you’re having kids for the wrong reasons. You should have kids because YOU want to, not because you’re afraid that others will call your selfish. If having children does not fit into the lifestyle that you want for yourself, then don’t have kids. And don’t feel as though you have to justify that decision to the judgmental dictators in your life.

No resentment

While some people who have children despite not wanting children will grow to love parenthood, others will grow to resent their lifestyle and –in some cases–even the children. Having kids that you don’t want can often be unfair to the child in the situation because the parent may subconsciously (or even consciously) resent the child for all of the things that they can no longer do as a result of their parental obligations. As awful as this sounds, it can and often does happen. Unfortunately, this can cause a distance between parent and child which would not exist in a relationship between a parent who deeply wanted children. So is it really selfish to not have children if you feel as though you would not be able to provide the love and support that every child deserves? I think not.

Independence

If you are someone like me, perhaps the idea of independence is important to you. You can make your own decisions for yourself without having to take into account how your actions will impact your offspring. Again, to some this may seem selfish but in actuality there is nothing wrong with wanting to live an independent lifestyle.

Finances

This one is a bit self-explanatory: kids are expensive. Therefore, not having kids saves you money. In my case, I can redirect this money for other purposes like fulfilling my desire to open a non-profit organization dedicated to providing mental health services to people who would not otherwise be able to afford treatment.

It is your body; you have the right to make your own reproductive decisions

At the end of the day, if you are a woman and you do not want to have children, then don’t have children! It’s your body and you have the right to whatever you want with it. Choosing not to have children is not selfish; nor is the decision to have children selfless.

Nobody else can live your life for you, so don’t feel as though you need to justify your decision to remain childless to anyone who will judge you for the decision. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not having kids and anyone who suggests otherwise needs to mind their own metaphorical beeswax.

Thanks for reading!

Ayla

Living alone vs. living with roommates in university

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As September approaches I am not only anticipating the start of a new school year, but also the start of a new living arrangement: I will be living completely alone for the first time. For the past two years I’ve lived with 1-2 roommates and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve learned a few things along the way.

First of all, living with a friend can be the death of the friendship. When you live with a friend, he or she might feel more entitled to cross boundaries than a roommate who you have no established relationship with. In my case, this meant that my roommate would regularly take my belongings without returning them to me and I would constantly have to chase her down to find my possessions when I needed them. This got extremely annoying and I ended up resenting her for it. Furthermore, living with a friend can mean that your roommate might not feel as obligated to pick up after him or herself because he or she might expect more leniency from living with a friend. While this may be true for the honeymoon phase, it gets annoying after a while which can cause added tension. Personally, I am hesitant to ever live with a close friend again following my current living arrangement.

With that being said, there are also downsides to living with a stranger. For starters, you don’t know the person well so you might not feel comfortable asking them to clean up their dishes or pick up after themselves. Additionally, you don’t know what their personality is like so you might end up clashing with each other. For example, in my previous apartment my roommates were both very social and liked to have large groups of guests over. I, on the other hand, am an introvert and I absolutely hate parties and large gatherings. Needless to say, the combination did not mix well and I spent most of my time in that apartment disliking my roommates.

In my experience, living with just one other individual lead to more conflict than living with two other people. Granted, in my current living arrangement I share a bedroom with my roommate whereas in my last apartment I had my own room. However, I believe that living with just one other person put a lot of strain on the relationship because there was never a third neutral party to help mediate conflicts. Living in a group of three meant that whenever there was a conflict we would have a roommate meeting to work things out. However, when living with just one roommate it was much more difficult to resolve conflict and disagreements were often much more heated.

So what did I learn? NEVER EVER SHARE A ROOM WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND. Never. It will ruin the friendship. Sharing an apartment is one thing; sharing a room is a totally separate level of living arrangement and it really is it’s own sort of mental torture.

Which leads me to my next point: living alone. While my relationship with my current roommate has drastically improved in the past few months, I am still relieved that she is moving out. I find myself feeling annoyed whenever we are home at the same time because it feels as though she is invading my space. So while it will cost me more money in rent now that she is moving out, part of me is still really happy that she is moving home to live with her parents after finishing university.

With that being said, I still have my reservations about living by myself. Won’t I be lonely living on my own? Who will I talk to? Who will help me if I’m having a bad day? Realistically though, my current roommate and I hardly speak to each other so she certainly does not help me when I’m having a bad day and if anything she makes me feel more lonely. Therefore, my fears are a bit nonsensical at the moment. While I don’t doubt that there will be moments when I’m lonely, I think living on my own will be the best thing for me, especially since I’m starting grad school in a few weeks. It will be good to alleviate the stress of roommate conflict and I think this will actually help me focus better on school than I would be able to if I was still having to share my room with someone who does not respect my space or my need for a quiet study space.

The moral of the story? If you find yourself constantly having conflicts with roommates and feeling miserable with your living arrangement, maybe it’s time to consider getting your own place. Having a space that is entirely your own may come with added responsibility, but it could also make a tremendous impact on your happiness and overall wellbeing. So why not give it a shot? I’ll be sure to make an updated post about my experience living alone once I’ve got some feedback about the experience!

Thanks for reading!

Ayla