True Happiness Is Raising Others Up

76db5407e1a3729ea6741b481cd2faceI still remember when I told a classmate back in high school that I would apply to university and study music, and she told me “You’ll never get in”. It didn’t bother me because I’m someone who believes in chasing your dreams and your passion. I got into university at the time, and it’s certainly true – you can do anything you set your mind to. A beautiful mind is one that doesn’t feel jealousy towards others, but raises them up and applauds them. I feel the need to write this because I feel that is happening more commonly among women, where some people feel the need to tear others down in order to feel better.

Thinking back, it is a reflection of herself in that she didn’t have confidence within, which means when treating others, she wouldn’t have that confidence in them. That’s why it’s important to build a desire and habit of thinking of self-love, because often when people put others down, it’s because they are hurting or feeling a certain sadness or anger inside. I watched a film called Ernest & Celestine, and it was one of the sweetest films I’ve watched since watching Amelie. There’s beauty in having faith and kindness towards others and believing in them no matter how different you are.

Many people put down others to make them feel as sad or unhappy as they feel, in order to feel better about themselves. It’s a terrible cycle because in the end it just spreads negativity, and the person themselves won’t truly feel happy. Raising others up is a sign of love and care, the kind our loved ones give us when we were learning something for the first time. They encourage, motivate and believe in you. That energy can really push you to strive to succeed and achieve your goals, which is why it’s important to surround yourself with people who are a positive influence.

When we raise people up, we are also raising ourselves up. Words of encouragement inspire self-improvement, and all of us have space to get better and better at many things. However, when we push people down, we push ourselves down as well. We swim in an ocean of negativity and unhappiness by focusing on things that have no value. If you push others down, you are failing yourself. Be happy for others success in life, because when we build comparisons we also build walls between people. Everyone hits rock bottom in periods of their lives, but we can all lend a hand to pull them back up.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova



21 Things I’ve Learned In 21 Years

d3a5376fb81beec6def2d7d479e1d63b.jpgAs each year goes by, we can reflect on how much we’ve grown as a person and the lessons we learned. Although the title mentions what I’ve learned in 21 years, I believe that these are aspects that we learn through different stages of our lives, and some may be lessons that we continuously learn from each day. Maturity can’t be defined by an age, but as each passing year goes by, I hope I have become a little wiser and a little kinder than the year before.

1) Surround yourself with good people. At this stage of my life, I no longer waste any time with people that will drain energy or pour negativity into my life. Those were lessons that I learned during my teenage years. Surround yourself with people who are intelligent, kind hearted, hard working and perhaps have a similar humour with you. You bounce off each other’s energy and help each other grow.

2) Life is unpredictable. It’s important to plan ahead and set goals that you’d like to achieve. In terms of decisions in life or situations, sometimes they can change last minute, or sometimes we change over time and no longer feel our heart is in it to do certain things we were once passionate about. It’s okay, because life is unpredictable.We go through those experiences to learn something from them.

3) True beauty comes from your heart.  No matter how much I may love fashion and beauty, beauty that is eternal is the one from your heart. It’s the kind that radiates when you’re 5 years old and 95 years old. It’s that true part of ourselves that is selfless, loving and kind. No one wants to be surrounded by a person with an ugly heart.

4) Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s easy to skim over a cover of a book and make quick assumptions. However, we do this with people as well. It’s natural to make assumptions about someone from what they wear and how they present themselves. We don’t truly know a person until we spend the time to get to know them, and even then, everyone goes through their own experiences.

5) Listen more than you speak.  This isn’t to say talk less, but a simple reminder to listen more and to listen to different opinions and keep an open mind. It means being able to listen to different views even if you don’t agree with them, and it also means being a listener to someone in a time of need. With all the noise in the world, sometimes we don’t listen as best as we could, but listening may show that we care or we want to understand

6) Do things that make you happy.  It’s funny how much we may stop ourselves from doing things that make us feel happy. It’s easy if you go through a bad period for it to constantly feed off the negative energy, and grow and grow until you feel that you don’t deserve to enjoy life. What’s life without doing things that make us happy?

7) Love yourself before you love others. When you accept who you are as a person, you can be accepting, non-judgmental, loving and be caring towards other people. You have more tolerance and are more grounded in who you are, rather than insecure and judgmental towards others.

8) Grow and learn from mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes. No matter how bad they may seem at the time, we can choose to grow and learn from those mistakes. They remind us how to face a situation better the next time, or they give us an opportunity to decide what we want to change about ourselves.

9) Noone’s life is perfect.  It doesn’t matter how picture perfect someone’s life may look online or offline, nobody’s life is perfect. Everyone has something that makes them laugh, cry, feel angry, upset and frustrated. We are all meant to live our own life and not the lives of anyone else.

10) You only need a handful of people in your life. Quality of relationships is far more important than a number of people you have in your life. The handful of people in your life are the ones you can trust and know that they will be there for you in a time of need. This also ties into the lesson that it’s important to spend quality time with yourself.

11) Food can affect your mood. Plus, it can affect your health. Eat healthily and drink enough water. When we fuel our body well, we feel ready for the day and we feel far more energy. What you feed into your body affects your mind as well.

12) Take care of your skin. Skincare is so important. Always wear sunscreen everyday, even on cloudy days or during winter time. Use products that are effective and work for you. Your skin is the largest organ of your body.

13) The most important people are your family. Family will always be family. That’s a kind of love that is different to any kind of friendship love. It’s the kind where everyone has seen each other at their highest and lowest. The simple things from what annoy one another to what makes one another smile.

14) We can’t be friends with everyone. It’s important to be kind to people, but we can’t be good friends with everyone. There are certain people we will click and have that connection with over other people, and that’s completely natural. Even though it’s important to be kind, if you feel there are toxic people entering into your life, it’s important to distance yourself.

15) Your values affect your lifestyle. Throughout my teenage years I was always very stubborn in the sense that I refused to conform to what everyone else was doing. My first year of uni at 16, meant that I just didn’t see the point of getting drunk and partying. What you value in life shapes who you are as a person, and then you can attract people with similar values into your life.

16) What you think you become. When you feed thoughts into your mind, there’s a strong feeling towards them. Sometimes they can be full of truth and other times they aren’t true. We can be more harsh and critical towards ourselves than to anyone else. Being kind and having positive self-talk will reflect how you treat others.

17) You’ll never regret being yourself. The wise words once told to me to just be yourself are golden words. Similar to 14) if we be ourselves, then we can attract the right friends into our lives. We can attract the people that appreciate who we are, rather than changing ourselves to fit in.

18) Dont’ be afraid to fail. Success is a result of battling through many failures and staying persistent and consistently learning, growing and improving. If you’re afraid to fail, then you’re afraid to try. Those who have always tried (such as athletes and musician) and don’t give up are the ones who create their own success.

19) Dreams can change. Remember when you were a child, and you were asked: “What do you want to become when you grow up?” I’m sure some of us had a long list of what they wanted to be. Over the years, my dreams have changed quite incredibly, and that’s okay.

20) Never be too hard on yourself. As much as we should strive for self-improvement, don’t be so hard on yourself that you push yourself downwards. If you’re too hard on yourself there won’t be any room to go upwards.

21) A smile comes from the inside. Be genuine with how you feel. I always feel a silent frustration when people pretend to be a certain way with certain people, but then you know that you wouldn’t want to be that way. A smile comes from within.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

Don’t Waste Time With People Who Bring You Down

41d61567ace5eace116deb3d2ca93eb8.jpgWhen I met Mr Penguin, it was one of the first times I felt truly close to a friend in many ways. There are only a few people in my life that I consider close to me, as I’m someone who is content with just having 1-3 friends.  As someone that spends a lot of time in my own company, I really value the quality of friendship, rather than quantity. There is a desire to get to know someone if I know that it’s going to be something long term, meaningful and deeper than just knowing them. Over the years, I’m better at distancing myself with those I don’t feel are a positive light in my life.

It’s very important to surround yourself with people who are there to support you, be honest with you and raise you up. They don’t judge you but they’re there for you when you need it most. From experience, having a friend in your life that only complains, talks about their own life and aren’t very kind is extremely damaging to your mind. No one can be positive all the time, but those who are negative all the time can really affect one’s peaceful state. There’s truth in that we can’t please everybody, or be friends with everybody. Which is why, if someone you don’t really know says something unkind to you, don’t waste time caring about it.

People who truly care for you don’t need to see or even talk to you every day. But, when you go through a particularly good or bad period in your life, they make an effort to be there. Making friends with someone who is emotionally draining is not healthy. The sort of people from my experience is those that constantly gossip and talk about others. It’s exhausting to listen to and incredibly negative. The people you surround yourself with can influence you even if it’s in a minor way. We all give off energy. Surround yourself with positive energy, and you will feel far happier in your life. Make friends with people who want the best for you.

Art by Mirdinara

The Benefits Of Being Friends Before Dating

198f6678df2bfa6cb420d02293378f42.jpgThe process of becoming friends makes me think of old school romance. It’s slow and steady, rather than dating now, which has become more fast-paced with technology and social media. Friendship is a time where you learn about one another, see each other’s silly sides, comfort one another when you’re upset and ask questions to get to know each other. There isn’t the romantic aspect in it, and it feels natural and steady. There are many benefits of being friends before you start dating.

You get to see a different side of them. Sure, they’re still the same person, but being friends first allows you to see how they handle certain situations and how they treat you when you’re just friends.

The focus isn’t on any romantic aspect. You learn their story and when you’re just friends there’s this certain kind of humour that doesn’t pass a line. You grow a level of respect towards one another, in knowing not to do anything that would make one another uncomfortable.

Some people grow more attractive over time. Of course, Mr Penguin has always been attractive to me, but when you’re friends you don’t obsess over their appearances too much. Once you do start dating, you see their beautiful characteristics shining out more and more.

He knows what makes you happy and sad. When you’re good friends first, the person already knows a lot of things about you. You know one another’s stories, memories and views towards certain things.

There is already an element of trust created. Talking, sharing things and spending time hanging out means you already have a level of trust with the friend. Once you start dating, that trust can grow stronger and stronger.

You have a similar sense of humour. I find that there’s this pressure when dating, that sometimes causes some people to not be completely themselves at first. That’s not always the case, but generally speaking. However, when you’re friends first, you can joke about the silliest things.

Taking the time to truly get to know someone. Friendship takes time, and sometimes going straight into dating can seem more fast paced. Although, there’s nothing wrong if it’s the right time, but sometimes dating is about timing.

There is already an attraction there. No matter who we’re friends with, we’re friends with them because there’s something we’re attracted to about them. We’re friends with someone because we like them.

Communication comes more naturally. Communication is definitely something that gets better and better over time. When you’re first friends with someone, you’re more direct and honest right from the beginning, compared to if you started first dating someone.

Art by Naomi Wilkinson

There’s A First Time For Everything

eeff2958191f065a0c336eb9bfbc7cc8.jpgWhen you learn, experience or find out something new, that’s when you know that there’s a first time for everything. It happens in our personal life, relationships, travel, school, work and so on. Imagine seeing yourself as a baby, taking the first steps to learn how to walk. In terms of relationships, there’s a first time for everything. From the first time you hold hands, have a 3 hour conversation on the phone, the first kiss, the first time you travel together, the first time you cook together, the first argument or the first time you have a laughing fit together.

When I think back to those moments, it’s such a sweet feeling. Yet, the more time you spend with someone you love, just doing the most simple things can give you the greatest joy. The first time for anything is special, memorable and precious. It’s something you treasure, and there are certain things you remember distinctively from that memory. Whether it’s the colour of clothing, the weather that day, how you were feeling or the food you were eating. The more you get to know someone, and go past those first times, that’s when you really start to get to know someone in depth.

Think of the moments you first met a friend and got to know them. Perhaps after the first time you meet someone, you spend more time after to talk.  Many people talk about first impressions, and how important they are. They will only ever happen once. In a way, they are how someone initially remembers us. However, I find that sometimes our first impression may be right (or wrong!) or may change our minds once we get to know someone more and more. Most people naturally show more of their personality as you get to know them.

First impressions also remind us why it’s important to not judge a book by a cover, but then it’s also a natural process of guessing what a person might be like. If you have a natural click with them, laugh at one another’s jokes and feel comfortable, you can feel that many new things you experience (whether with a friend or loved one) can be really enjoyable. There’s an endless list of first times for everything, and as they say “You learn something new everyday.” It shows that no matter how old we are, we’ll always be experiencing something for the first time.

Art by Lubi

Old School Romance Vs Modern Dating

8bcb060db0994afa623c3c4d2bcb2669.jpgI recently watched a video here, from the channel Off the Great Wall. I thought it was very interesting and made me think about how much dating has changed in the last ten years. I recently had a class at uni, where we discussed how much social media and technology is apparent in our daily lives. It makes us realise how often we check out phones for the smallest things, or how long we spend time on the internet on a day to day basis. When they talk about missing the mystery aspect, it makes us remember how important it is to leave certain things unknown, in order for the person to take time to genuinely know more about this person.

Several years ago, I still had a Sony Ericsson Flip phone with buttons you click. Computers already had messenger on Facebook and Skype to chat. On one hand it’s convenient to have these especially when you’re in a long distance relationship. Although, when we lived together, we rarely used our phones when we’re out together. In the past we would write snail mail to one another and send gifts. In our modern dating world, life is far more fast paced and quick. When I wrote about Traditional Love Vs Hookup Culture here, one of the things I feel is that many people in our generation feel that love should always feel good. However, love means both side committing and working through the good and the bad.

The video talks about how it was simpler back in the day, where dating was much more innocent. Remember the days where we’d call the persons home phone number? Going the extra mile was natural back then, whereas today it’s often seen as desperate or too cheesy. Old school dating doesn’t exist the way it used to. Most people might meet each other online or chat online before getting to know one another in person. They mentioned awkward silences, which I find are really wonderful because they make getting to know someone, feel more real. When we use technology, we can’t really truly experience those moments.

A lot of people are able to meet or talk to people online now. There is that sense that we lose that art of knowing someone on a personal level in person. Whenever someone asks how I met my boyfriend, I tell them that I met him at church. The first reaction is usually “That’s so sweet!” When my boyfriend and I talk about dating now, we feel like it’s extremely fast paced in our generation. Especially, because we took it quite slowly in our relationship. Love is not something to be thrown away, whereas now there are apps and media telling you you can meet someone here, here and here.

Watching older films always reminds me of how our parents generation and in the past, dating required effort from both sides. There was more time spent to truly know someone in person. If you didn’t see each other everyday, then it was fine. The small things are worked through together. I wrote about When People Use Their Phones On A Date With You here, because it was a conversation my boyfriend and I had. We don’t use our phones unless we need to, but it made us feel sad whenever we were on dates, and couples were constantly on their phones.

Old school romance doesn’t need to let everyone know. Whether it’s on social media or in person, there isn’t a need to share photos or need validation from anybody. There isn’t anything wrong to share photos together, but you don’t feel the need to post a kissing or hugging photo every week. Love is often private and secretely felt. The ‘Dating Game’ has changed hugely since just the 90s, and early 00s when we didn’t have smartphones and you had to place a phone call on a wired phone to your loved one. Physical attraction can only be felt in person, and there really is no substitute to face-to-face meeting someone.

Taking things slowly was very normal in old school dating. I can’t count the amount of times in the past someone would say that that is cheesy, or don’t do that. But, when we both took those gestures of writing a card or giving a gift, it felt good. In modern dating, there is too much of an idea of keeping your cool and your identity in a way. In the online world, there is such an easy way of ignoring, deleting or unfollowing someone, when in real life you wouldn’t ignore what someone said to you in person, or walk out as they are talking.

Remember to find time to express your love, whether it’s through a letter, in person or an email. When we were long distance for two years, those were a few of the ways to really express our love for one another. Dating now doesn’t mean you need to make it official online, in order to be truly dating. However, in our culture of ‘if you don’t post it, it didn’t happen’, more people are willing to show more of their lives. Sometimes it’s important to leave some things as a mystery, and remind ourselves the importance of taking time to truly get to know someone.

Art by Naomi Wilkinson

What I’ve Learned From Living With My Boyfriend

6a0120a5f0e3de970c013480aac562970c.jpgLiving in Sydney was a different experience to what I was used to, as a country girl at heart. Although, I’d previously lived in central city in Auckland for two years, it’s always been a big little city to me. Being able to live with your other half is so wonderful, especially for those who have been in a long distance relationship. You may of heard that sometimes living with a friend can make or break the relationship, because people can sometimes be different to live with than to hang out with. Then there’s each of us with different habits, ways of living and doing different things in our spare time. Everyone will have their moments of ups and downs, but communication is definitely key when living with anybody.

We have our specific side of the bed. Did this ever happen when you were at home, and somehow you’d always have a specific seat you sat at the dinner table, the special cup you’d use and the seat in the lounge area? I think it’s something that’s done out of habit.

Long days are worth it when you can come home. No matter if you have a good or bad day, it’s a sweet feeling knowing you can go home and give your loved one a hug and a kiss. You can talk about what you both did during the day, and share any exciting stories.

Home is where we can be completely ourselves. As much as we should always be ourselves, when you’re at home, it’s your private space to be as loose, silly, talkative, sleepy and tired and just be completely yourself. You can wear your sweatpants all day, dance around and sing in the shower without a care.

Conversations and silences are both important. To be able to be with a friend or a partner where you can cherish the silences with ease, is something precious in a noisy world. When you can be completely comfortable with having nothing to say, and listen to one another when you do speak, that’s something.

Compromise is important to learn. Being able to both compromise is important, if one or the other person wants to do something. Thinking of the other person and being considerate should be in any relationship. No one will always agree on everything, but being able to come to an agreement for certain things is sometimes needed.

You will both have your own habits. I feel like everyone has their own little interesting habits. When you live with someone, that’s when you really notice them. For example, I spend a long time brushing my teeth, and I have to pick up my hairs off the floor after drying it.

Developing couple language is the norm. If you spend a lot of time talking with one another, it’s natural to start making up words or developing your own language. There are certain words you might replace, or use only in public.

We spend time to do our own thing. If you think of when you lived with your family, then you know that everyone usually does their own thing. Space is important. It’s mostly when you go out that you make quality time to spend together. At home, it’s the simple things like cooking, watching a movie or talking.

Art by Marta Antelo