It’s Certain Now

I’m graduating.

Some of you may know that my graduation ceremony happened over three weeks ago and be thinking, yes, yes we know, you actually already graduated, is it only now clicking?

Well I walked across the stage, shook the hand of the President of the university and was given a diploma holder, but three weeks ago it wasn’t certain I was going to graduate.

Now realistically it probably was certain based on where I was going into exams, but to be really, really literal, our final grades weren’t in yet so we had no way of knowing and I had one class, this oneeee classssss that was worrying me a bit.

You see it was an ethics course, Ethics in the Marketplace, and while a business course it was also branched under philosophy and the last philosophy class that I faced off with nearly got me. I just scraped through that one with a D and I honestly don’t know how I even managed that. It was required for my minor and heading in I didn’t know it was philosophy. The methods and arguments all seemed so confusing and it being an 8:30am class probably didn’t help a whole lot either. When I sat down in my first Ethics class in January, a required course for my major, and found out it was a philosophy course my heart sank. And then, to top it all off, 20% of our grade was reliant on participation. My last philosophy course had gone badly and I’d never taken a business course; I felt at rather a disadvantage.

A few weeks in, time comes round for the first assignment to be due and the instructions were a bit vague so I did my best and waited to see what my mark would be. The day the assignments were being handed back I logged online to peek at my mark before the papers came round and was floored to see I had a 0. 0%? How can you even get 0% if you handed anything, like literally anything, in?!

After class I went up to the prof because my paper hadn’t even been handed back and he was like, “Oh yeah, did I forget your email in my inbox? Whoops! I’ll get that to ya as soon as I can!” (Super chill guy, probably my second favourite prof throughout university. Has like flowing, shoulder-length, ringletted, white hair and a double piercing in one ear in which he always has a set of two hoop earrings. I say he’s the retired pirate prof)

So next class, before it starts, he comes and stands in front of me and says, “So we have a problem.” My stomach drops and I’m nearly panicking, did I do it completely wrong? Did I misunderstand everything? Am I going to fail? Am I not going to graduate? Am I going to have to stay another year for this one course? Whyyyyy crueeeeel worldddddddddddd…. Etc.

“Your assignment is really good! You need to speak up more in class!” Relief could have melted me onto the floor in that moment. And while the class did end up being one of my favourites overall it was still very challenging. I always felt like I was uncertain in what I was doing and yet my marks usually implied I was doing alright so the exam was going to be the final test (like, literally, cause it was the last test, but like it also determined like everythi-you get it, it’s a bad pun :P)

Realistically I could have gotten 0 on the exam and passed the course, not well! But passed. Well, my mark was entered into the system two days ago. I done good guys… I done good.

I’m graduating.

A Beginner is Cooking: D is for Definitely mostly Defrosted…

Today I decided to be bold. I am not making a one serve meal, there will be leftovers (intentional ones that is, as opposed to last time when I just got too full!). There could be waste. THERE IS MORE PRESSURE! No one but me has to eat these leftovers though so at least theres that. I don’t have to disappoint people!

No cooking happened last week, apologies, situation at work, had to pick up a shift on my day off, ran out of time etc, we move on!

There was meat in the house today, a good start! And I planned ahead enough to defrost said meat, so far things are going very well! I even found a recipe with the word simple in the name which bodes quite well for me overall. Today the mission is Simple Lemon Herb Chicken with couscous and some kind of frozen vegetable that I will choose at a later time… There! I’m incorporating vegetables even if I’m not reaaaaaaaally cooking them!

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So cooking! Mostly this involved putting herbs and lemon juice on the chicken (based on a similar, yet different recipe, I also put minced garlic in the pan with the oil at the beginning and added in rosemary along with the oregano. I am adding things in that are not on the recipe?! Whaaaaat? Getting bold…)

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At this point the amount of sizzling happening was starting to freak me out a little. I mean I know that means its actually cooking but in my mind it sets off sirens screaming BURNING! SPLATTERING OIL! NEAR EXPLOSIONS! etc, so it’s really a thrilling process allowing myself to nibble nervously on my nails and not interfere long enough for things to actually cook through! I flipped the chicken and we hit the time when ideally they should have been cooked through…

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Some of you seasoned chefs (bumdumtss) may have noticed I used the words “ideally” and “should have been” there… That’s right. I do thankfully know enough to cut the chicken through at its thickest point to see if its cooked through before serving up so when I did that this time round I was a little bummed to find that they were noooooooooooot cooked through. Thus I was faced with a conundrum. I didn’t know how long they’d take to cook through or if the outside would burn if I just continued to cook them as they were, so I took the other idea that presented itself and cut ’em in half (and then mauled ’em a bit more to make sure as much pink as possible was touching the pan).

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I had forgotten that in a review of the meal the cook mentioned pounding the meat to even the width or something, which is something I love doing! and I forgot it! So sad… I also maaay not have been patient enough to let it all fuuuuuully defrost (but I think it was definitely mostly defrosted). Anyway, at this point I had made couscous and green beans so they were ready to go and after being fully confident that the chicken was thoroughly cooked (don’t worry, it may have ultimately been overcooked but I was taking no chances!) I plated up a full meal for mahself.

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It looked good, it smelt good, and dang it, it tasted good! It was quite lemony but the couscous balanced it out nicely or something and I was one happy camper! What with this and tuna casserole I can now provide meals for two days in succession, I’m basically building up a repertoire! (Warning: high levels of sarcasm have been found in this use of the word “repertoire”)

So there we go, I am no longer a useless college-aged student living for free in my parents’ basement. Now, I can cook two decent tasting meals.

When Looks Contradict Truth: Invisible Illness

Invisible illness, that is, illnesses with no outward symptoms revealing to outsiders that the patient is ill, do not only throw off outsiders. If you have minimal to no symptoms implying that you are ill, you are unlikely to go to a doctor meaning these illnesses can go completely unnoticed until they are revealed very suddenly and often seriously.

Even once discovered, this is not an easy mental adjustment to make in ones own mind. To accept that one looks completely healthy in the mirror and to know that inside, one is could be essentially dying. It can be very easy to get down on yourself and feel that you ought to be up to doing more, and to get past the mindset of resting as laziness. People often have to take time from work or school during treatment periods and that can be a very big adjustment. Going from working or being in school full time, to having to stay home and rest continually is a difficult mental hurdle. Looks aren’t everything but they do say a lot and when they seem to contradict the truth people don’t necessarily know how to receive it.

If you know someone who suffers from an invisible illness, remember the importance of letting them know they are not alone in this (perhaps help them arrange a chance to meet with someone who has had or has the same illness) and that you are there to support them through thick and thin. The road of acceptance may be difficult but it’s part of the journey to recovery.

Invisible Illness

Living on a convenient bus route is of no use when you can’t take the bus but getting places becomes difficult. Walking could be an option for most people but when walking less than a block leaves you breathless it’s not a reasonable method of transportation. This can leave you somewhat housebound. Such is life with an invisible illness.

Invisible illnesses are conditions that show no outward manifestation or disability in the sufferer so their condition is unobservable by bystanders. “96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible.

I have a friend with an invisible illness. To the beholder she is a perfectly healthy 22 year old capable of working, school, and general socializing. In reality she suffers from aplastic anemia, a condition caused by her bone marrow not producing the required red and white blood cells and platelets required for her to survive. During treatment for this condition she needs to be incredibly careful about being in public and keeping health as her body is not able to fight off illnesses in the same way a healthy person’s can.

A symptom of her condition is breathlessness and exhaustion which make going out difficult. People assume she is healthy and therefore able to keep up but even walking is sometimes a chore. People don’t give up seats for healthy-looking twenty-two year olds. Invisible illnesses affect a number of people in our society. It’s important for people to recognize this and to be more considerate of others as opposed to making snap judgements of people based on outward appearance. Appearances can be deceiving.

Pornified Culture

Pornography.

Chances are that word made you recoil a bit. There are plenty of stigmas, judgements, and emotions that come along with the discussion of pornography and those reactions are not frequently discussed openly by the church. They may be discussed in one-on-one mentoring or during prayer times but there are rarely seminars in the church, or sermons covering this issue.

On October 27, 2015 Julia Beazley of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada came into to give a guest lecture at my university on the topic of Pornified Culture. The lecture was well-attended by students and faculty as well as a number of attendees who were not directly connected with the school. Packing out the main Lecture Theatre, where chairs had been added in the back to create more rows, Beazley explained the dangers of Pornography not merely from a Biblical stand point but also from a political stand point.

Through her talk in the morning Beazley explained that pornography is the dehumanization of predominantly women, girls, and boys, and this objectification of people cannot help but spill over, affecting the real-lives and relationships of porn users. Porn teaches that sex is not about intimacy, love, or a relationship with your sexual partner, instead it teaches that women like to be dominated. This translates into a society that views violence against women and children as being “sexy,” directly leading to the “rape culture” we struggle with today where “no” is no longer accepted as meaning no.

As Christians the fight against pornography involves rescuing those who are abused and trafficked for it as well as provided support and a safe space for people to come when they are ready to break the addiction. Pornography is an addiction just the same way as drugs or alcohol can be, in fact, Beazley mentioned studies in her lecture that have proven this fact, it is the same reward centres in the brain that are being stimulated with porn as it is with drug addiction or alcoholism.

There are ways that pornography can be fought however and in her afternoon discussion Beazley mentioned a number of ways the team she is on is trying to fight against it including branding pornography as a public health crisis. I found this a fascinating point. Pornography affects an astronomical amount of people, making up about 25% of all online searches. It is a health issue, starting with the actors on the sets all the way down to the users who are slowly destroying their relationships because you can’t help but damage relationships when porn is brought into play. It’s not real but it can create dissatisfaction with the real.

I’ll close with two quotes that Beazley opened her lectures with, both from speaker Matt Fradd,

“We were made by love, to love, for love. Love is our origin, our vocation, and our density.”

“Christianity is not about the annihilation of sexual desire, but about the orientation of it for the sake of love.”

The Unexpected

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Notebooks get forgotten, eggs aren’t bought, and bus tickets can’t be found for love nor money. Life happens, the unexpected shakes things up, but it goes on and you make the most with what you have.

You borrow notes, you find a replacement, and you borrow cash. In the past year I’ve learned to roll with the punches a lot more. Today was a day of the unexpected and I think I parried pretty well. I wish some things had gone differently, but I’ll take it and I’ll move on. During exams there’s aways a few mishaps, can’t just have a simple week of midterms! Thankfully, it’ll be over soon

Dealing with an Over-Spent Introvert

This world is an extrovert’s world. We are encouraged to socialize, to party, to go for coffee, to attend school, to work. It seems that almost constantly we are being encouraged to be around people, but not all people are designed to live that way.

People often look at extroverts as being outgoing, friendly, and social, while introverts are looked at as shy, antisocial, and awkward. It’s not quite that simple. In reality, extroverts are simply those who are energized by being with people, while introverts find themselves drained spending time with people. An extrovert is tired out by staying home alone, they want to be “doing”! An introvert needs that recharge time alone or else they burn out, and that is not an option that’s always given to people.

Many students work at least one job while attending school full time. They have work, school, friends, family, homework, and regular life-tasks to deal with. For an extrovert this can be tiring but invigorating. For an introvert this can equate complete burn out.

I am an introvert, a relatively social introvert, but an introvert. I am quite happy to chat with people, to hang out with friends, and to speak up in class, but if I have to go straight into doing something else without some time to recharge I frequently find myself plagued by headaches as I grow crankier and more antisocial. As my stream of social energy is rapidly depleted I recoil into myself like a wounded animal, striking out at those who attempt contact.

Extroverts rarely seem to understand this feeling and can often make things worse by trying to “talk it out”. Here are some tips for when dealing with your dried up Introvert:

  1. Talk as little as possible. Your Introvert doesn’t have much energy to listen right now. This may sound silly, but it’s true. Listening can take a lot of energy that simply isn’t there to use.
  2. Gently check when the last time your Introvert ate or drank was. They may be dehydrated or hangry (hungry-angry) as well as over-spent. Grab them some water or a snack and leave them to it.
  3. Leave them alone. Seriously, just do number 2 and leave. Your Introvert is not angry at you, they’re not needing help or counselling, they just need some time. Wait for them to come back to you because they will. They’ll sheepishly slink back over in half an hour or so, after an episode of T.V. or a chapter of their book, or they’ll bounce back into the room after a nap as if nothing ever happened. This is okay, this is normal. This is dealing with an Introvert.
  4. The most important thing about dealing with your Introvert is, don’t try to make them become an extrovert. They can’t, this is how their mind works, and that is alright. If they’re drawing back from a group chat, let them go. They may just need to listen from the sidelines and gather their strength for the next round. Let them take their time outs, let them have their quiet car rides when they need them.

As an Extrovert, you don’t have to necessarily have to fully understand your Introvert’s perspective, but with a little bit of consideration, you can help.

For more help in understanding your Introvert, check out Dr. Carmella’s Guide to Understanding the Introverted! (It has pictures!)