What would make you happy?

I sit here with this question ringing in my head since a friend so bluntly asked me this on Friday.

“I don’t know.”

I sat there struggling to find words because I realized I have no idea.  I continued to tell him that I don’t know if I will ever feel happy again. I explained that I may appear happy, angry or even sad but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel it inside. I feel nothing. I feel like an empty vessel. I think if you shook me I would sound hollow and the echoes would carry on forever.

I began to sob and without thinking he pulled me towards him wrapping his arms around me. We sat there for what felt like a lifetime in silence while I sobbed on his shoulder aching to feel something. Anything.

Deal with it

Friendships, relationships, life experiences, trials and tribulations. What’s the point behind them? Why do they have to be so fucking hard? I used to ask myself this constantly. We wonder what we did to deserve X Y and Z when really we need to change how we reflect on situations as a whole.

I ask you to consider the following when reflecting on any trials and tribulations in life. Were you GENUINELY happy or were you settling? Did you become comfortable and complacent or do you rise and fall for these driving forces? Gotcha. You’re sitting there thinking, aw fuck.. She’s right. How do I know this? Because I too wasn’t happy. I was living a life on autopilot. I accepted the life that I found to be comfortable. Easy. No problems. Only there were problems. I just didn’t think they were as important as they really are. You see if we don’t deal with problems head on they will, overtime, manifest themselves and creep up in areas of your life and slowly chip pieces of you away.

 

 

The opressor

As we sat at my dining room table I watched silently while the sadness and frustration took over his mind. I stared into his big brown eyes and saw a broken man who just wanted to be treated as an equal. That day my heart sank to depths I’ll never be able to explain. Not only was I staring at a broken man, I began to see fractions of the 16-year-old boy I once knew and loved. The one that told me his deepest darkest secrets. The one that showed me true love before he was hardened by the world. The one that I share and treasure a lifetime of memories with. The same boy that told me he wanted to grow up as a black man until the age of 18 and then do it all over again as a white man just to see how different life is. Because he knew. He knew even then that he was treated different from others. Stereotyped. A boy who at 16 knew he was more likely to be referred to as the black boy rather than his name. Who would be stopped by police because of the colour of his skin. Who people wouldn’t like based on the colour of his skin rather than how kind and loving he is.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering what had caused his distress on this day. You see he had just finished explaining to me how his day was. At this point we were 23 and 24 years old just trying to find our footing in the world. We both landed jobs in the heart of downtown Toronto in the financial district. Canada’s Wall street. Men and women dressed in suits with heels as high as their ego canvasing the area daily. While our lives couldn’t have been more different we ended up being just as successful as one and other. We were fish out of water but we’ll be damned if we didn’t try and swim. If you can do it, so can we.

He began to tell me how he was having a cigarette just as he was finishing his lunch and another man approached him.

“Hey, do you know where I can get some coke?” Completely baffled he quipped “Uh.. sorry?? This is the Financial District. It’s all business people here you’re in the wrong area. Try the Entertainment District.” He said more than a little confused. The man gave my friend a quick glance up and down “Well… you don’t look like you’re in the right area either… help me out.”

How my friend kept his composure I’ll never know. Maybe he was used to it. Maybe he knew he was better than that. Maybe he was concerned about the backlash he was bound to receive as a black man in a white mans world. He quickly interjected and ripped his swipe card from work off his button down and showed him. He repeated “this is the financial district. I’m going back to work.”

I sit here to this day thinking of that story. Angry. Heart broken. He worked so hard to get to where he was. He had struggles and more setbacks in his short lifetime that you’ll never endure in your entire life. He worked so hard and still he was just looked at as a black man. Stereotyped as a drug dealer. People wonder why so many of our brothers and sisters, because that is what they are at the end of the day, our brothers and sisters. People wonder why they’re angry. Why they’re fed up. Why they’re upset. Why they feel as if they have no voice. This here? A perfect example. Because even though he busted his ass to get to where he wanted to be, even though he had all the qualifications his worth was still based on the colour of his skin.

What happened to acceptance? What happened to loving one and other based on their actions rather than how they look. What happened to speaking up for something that’s wrong? White privilege is real and so many of us choose to ignore it. You are privileged and you need to help those who aren’t. Those who need help. We all do. Because if you are not the oppressed, you are the oppressor.

You have a voice. Fucking use it.

 

Brooklyn, NY

I had a friend going through some really hard times in his life a couple months ago and they said the most devastating thing to me:

I just want someone to care. I’m not trying to be selfish I know my parents care about all of this stuff but that’s natural they’re my parents. I want someone who doesn’t have to care, who doesn’t have to check in but wants to. Someone who gives a shit.

I hate this for so many reasons. One because he felt selfish for wanting someone other than his parents to care for him when it’s essential for everyone in life. Two because I can’t do anything. 

Guys I have such a big heart and I mean it when I say it broke when he said this. This is a friend I met online and am unfortunately unable to physically be there for him. He doesn’t have a good support system. It sucks. I’ve been there. 

People underestimate how important it is for a healthy support system in your life. I’m not talking your family I’m talking people that don’t have to show up but still do. That check in just to see how you’re doing even when you haven’t hit them up in awhile. People to share your highs and lows with. People to support you when you have trouble supporting yourself.

We hate admitting we need someone or need help but understand it’s an essential part of life and being human. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. 

Have you ever?

I wonder, have you ever crossed the street because of a male approaching you? I wonder, have you ever put a hat and sunglasses on in hopes of less cat calling. I wonder, have you ever had a man ask you out then verbally assault you when you say no thank you. I wonder, have you ever been leered at like a piece of meat while walking down the street?  I wonder, do you think I like the attention? I wonder, do you know how uncomfortable it makes us? I wonder, have you ever walked alone at night while constantly checking your surroundings? I wonder, have you ever had to say “I’m in a relationship” because you didn’t want to get into an endless conversation of why you’re not interested? I wonder, have you ever had someone yell obscenities at you from a car? I wonder, have you ever had a man put his hand on you without your permission? I wonder, have you ever told someone you were harmed just to be called a liar? I wonder, have you ever been told to dress more conservative because you’re distracting? I wonder, have you ever been objectified just to have the blame placed on you? I wonder, have you ever had your self worth based purely on your appearance? I wonder, have you ever had someone tell you you’re wrong because of your gender? I wonder, have you ever been told “no” because of your gender? I wonder, have you been paid less because of your gender? I wonder, have you ever had someone feel entitled to objectify and criticize you? I wonder, have you ever been told to tone down the profanities because of your gender? 

I wonder, are you aware of the inequality? I wonder, do you think we’re asking too much? I wonder, do you think of your mother, your sister, your girlfriend or wife when you read this? I wonder, do you see the issues surrounding us? I wonder, is this the world we want to live in? I wonder, is this how we want to raise our children? 

How did we get here

Silence is our biggest enemy. We fear it more than anything because that’s when we fall into the oblivion of our mind.

Maybe that’s why we were so good with each other. Maybe we just made it work to ease our minds for awhile. Maybe we were just there as a voice to drown out the suffocating thoughts. Maybe we treated each other as a means to a personal end. Maybe we didn’t care for each other at all. Maybe we just didn’t want to be alone with the thoughts inside our own head. Maybe we were true friends who were just too broken. Maybe we cared about each other too much.

 Or maybe, just maybe, I loved you and all of your broken pieces and you just didn’t love me and all of mine. 

What if I told you I’m overweight?

What if I told you I’m 20lbs overweight. Would you believe me?

According to Canada’s Body Mass Index calculator I am not in the weight range I should be for my height. The healthy range for a woman of my stature (5′) is between.. wait for it.. 98-128lbs. How much do I weigh? 147lbs. And two years ago I was 208lbs. 

Does this bother me? Yes. Am I healthy? Yes. Am I happy? You can bet your ass I am.

 Throughout my weight loss journey I was asked a wide array of questions but the number one question I received was:

“What’s your goal weight?”

In my mind 120lbs sounded like the perfect number but I never did share this with anyone. I would respond with I don’t know. Because I really didn’t. You see overtime my weight loss journey changed my whole perception on life. I’m not concerned about the number I see on the scale, I’m concerned about my wellbeing. My happiness. 

People tend to assume a weighloss transformation is purely based on physical abilities or lack thereof. Sure it takes physical strength but even more so it requires emotional strength. I used to think once I was thin I would be happy. My life would be perfect and all of my problems would disappear. What’s worse? I’m not the only one to feel that way. 

Problems don’t go away when you one day achieve a certain weight on the scale and happiness doesn’t suddenly appear. Guys, I spent so much time thinking I would be happier if I was thin. I would be well-liked if I was pretty etc.. the irony? This way of thinking is what held me back for so long. Look at it like this: if I want to be happy I should be fuckin happy. I won’t be happy if I’m thin. I’ll be happy because I am. Because I look at the brighter side of life. Because the sun is shining. Because life is short and it only seems long. It sounds fuckin cheesy, I know. But what good has overthinking done anyone? Nothing. What’s achieved when you learn to enjoy your life in the moment? Happiness. 

So now when I’m asked what my goal weight is I respond with one word: happiness 

I know, I know. You’re shaking your head thinking “But Lindsay, How we do attach a number to that?” I’ll tell you. We don’t. We measure it by how we feel, what we wear and how we start to carry ourselves. Call it an epiphany, a shift in mindset, whatever you like. 



It saved my life. 

When you spend most of your life overweight your perception on reality becomes blurred. You believe all the awful things said about you. You believe the media when they say you’re not attractive and each negative comment left scars you cannot see. Men and women treated me as if I wasn’t good enough and only now, after all these years, have I stopped listening to them.

All I wanted growing up was to be beautiful. To have someone tell me I’m pretty and give me a little attention and affection. Seeking it became an addiction because it seemed so unattainable. So I grabbed it whenever I could. There’s truth in the saying “we accept the love we think we deserve”. This is what society lead me to believe I deserved. Second best. Whatever I can get. And I better be happy with it because I’m lucky to get even that. 

If I told you I was overweight you wouldn’t believe me and you’d tell me not to say that. But dare I tell you I’m intelligent, beautiful, kind hearted, thin, honest, confident and hilarious. You’d focus on the fact that I said I’m thin and think to yourself “Well she’s not that thin.”