The Pros and Cons of Being Weird


Quite frankly, being weird is way more fun than the alternative. I can’t imagine how dull it must be to be normal. Imagine the boredom of being trapped inside social norms and routines? How horrible a thought!

Then again, being weird usually means you’re weird by yourself. You begin to feel like you’ll be alone forever. And ever. You read more than you speak. You talk to yourself for company. You wonder whether there’s anyone out there who understands. You spend your life searching, searching, searching. But you come away empty handed.

It’s not just that people generally shun weirdos out of some sort of odd mixture of fear and misunderstanding. It’s also that weirdos often shun normality and everyone who wears that label. It’s hard to be good friends with people you don’t understand, no matter how hard you try.

And yet… Finding those perfects friends whose weirdness matches yours is the most amazing thing ever. There’s nothing superficial, nothing forced. Everything just falls into place. It rarely happens, but it’s worth it when it does.

And what a community you have then! If I’ve learned anything it’s that nothing brings people together like stress only they can understand. Nothing brings people together like a shared ordeal. And what is more of an ordeal than always being the outcast, the misfit? To connect to someone through that, to be bonded together in mutual weirdness, is precious.

Of course, you’ll never have some of the things normal people take for granted. You’ll never have easy friends. You’ll never have general acceptance. It’ll take years for people to get to know you and it takes a lot of work on everyone’s part. People get unnerved when you defy their labels. They don’t like it when you constantly surprise them. They like to peg people as certain things and have them stay that way. It confuses them when the quiet bookworm suddenly starts eating her apple with a hunting knife. And people don’t like to be confused.

Regardless of the flaws – the constant loneliness- the world needs weirdos. They need strange ones and crazy people, people with different ideas. They need us because we change things. No one ever changed the world by fitting in. Maybe it’s my bias, put I feel like being weird is a duty to the universe. It’s important for innovation, for hope, for change. I would never give up my weirdness, though sometimes I wish I was normal if only for simplicity’s sake. Life is hard and lonely on the path less travelled, but I keep moving. That path is my hope and my despair. That path is my life and I wouldn’t turn back even if I could.


The Shattering of an Invisible Wall


I can feel something breaking. I don’t know what it is, but I can feel it – the tension is building up, building up, building up, like water against a dam. It will burst through soon and send a flood roaring across the land. Nine days since the Paris attacks and I can feel some monstrous invisible wall creaking and groaning under the weight of the world. How long will it hold up?

And, even more importantly, what is this wall? Is it the wall holding us back from brilliance, or is it the wall holding the darkness at bay? The shattering of the former would send humanity catapulting into the future. The breaking of the latter could potentially destroy the human race entirely. So which wall is it that is breaking? Which one is it?

I’m not sure. On the one hand, everywhere I look I can see people coming together, forging new understandings. I can see people standing up for their neighbours of every religion, I can see them mourning collectively for the victims of terror attacks around the world. Candles are lit, flowers are laid and people in Paris give out free hugs to strangers. Whole campaigns have started to make people understand that Muslims are not terrorists, but a largely peaceful, beautiful religion full of kind human beings. Just because a tiny, tiny fragment of their religion have been twisted to darkness does not mean anything.

Everywhere I look, I can see love filling in the holes left by the horror of Friday the 13th. So is it perhaps the wall that is holding us back from true peace and prosperity that is falling down? Was the Paris attack the wake up call we needed to concentrate all of our efforts on moving forward towards peace and love? Was it the thing that shattered our Western ‘ignorance is bliss’ attitude?

Or is it a wall of a darker nature that is on the verge of snapping? Everywhere I look, I can see hate flourishing. Mosques are being lit on fire, people are campaigning to stop refugees from immigrating to free countries, terror is running wild. Brussels is under the highest degree of security, planes are being grounded because of bomb threats, Paris is under alert for chemical weapons. Today on the side of the road I found a small golden charm of the Eiffel Tower, but it was twisted and broken. It looked like it had been run over by a car. No matter how much I tried, I could not fix it, could not bend it back into shape. Is this an omen?

With one country after the next declaring war on ISIS, it’s hard to see where this will all stop. And yet I’m hopeful. I believe the world is far better than the one portrayed in the media. I believe there is hope.

Which ever way it goes, this all seems to be building up to something, some grand finale which could last years, even decades. A wall is breaking. But which one?

Paris, Baghdad, Lebanon – Be Strong


Why is there so much hatred in such a small world? Why is there so much anger, so much violence? We are all stuck on a tiny blue dot floating in the infinity of the universe, lost among the stars. This is all we have. Everything we have. We are all made of the same star dust, the same particles. So why then do so many hate with so much ferocity, hating their brothers, their sisters, themselves? Why do they not realize that by killing other people, they are killing themselves? By striking out at others, they are striking out at themselves? Our souls are all made up of pieces of other people’s souls, all of humanity interwoven like a tapestry. Each thread is so, so important.

I can feel my heart breaking with each tear shed in Paris, with each one shred in Baghdad, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Israel and Palestine, in all of the broken places on this globe. And always the same question: why? Why? Why is there such horror in this world? All we have on this planet is each other. The only purpose for life I have found in all of my searching is love. Love is the only thing that can sew the tapestry back together, tuck each fraying string back into place. Love is the only reason to live.

So why are there so many people so devoid of love? At times like this the world seems to be irreparably broken. So crooked that nothing will fix it. So lost that nothing can find it. So dark that the greatest light will not help us see it.

But then I remember the people who opened their doors to strangers during a dark Parisian night. So many of them threw their doors wide and welcomed in the wounded and the broken. So many people shook fear from their shoulders and embraced people they did not know. Rather than hiding in fear of their neighbours, in fear of a humanity that had just taken so much from them, they came together. They chose to believe in goodness rather than evil. They chose to react to hate with love. They chose bravery over fear. And maybe they represent a light that is bright enough to eclipse the darkness. Maybe they are part of the force that can mend the tapestry.

Paris, the city of lights, the city of love: Be strong. And the world, the beautiful, beautiful, terrible world: Be light, be love. Maybe there is hope yet of healing you. For love springs from each shadow, tiny lights trying desperately to throw back the darkness. They can’t do it by themselves, but they can do it together. And that’s what we need to do. We need to come together. We need to love. Love with bravery, love with urgency, love stubbornly. Let nothing quench our light and love. Love for Paris. Love for Baghdad. Love for Lebanon. Just… love.

The Webster Awards


The Webster Awards for Excellence in Journalism were inspiring, and exciting, and just a little bit hopeful. I got to attend them with my classmates, and the whole thing gave me a window into the vast world of journalism – into the community, the traditions, how journalists live their lives, and why. The speeches were funny, insightful and touching, and I found the food, despite what everyone else said, delicious. I don’t often get roast chicken and cheesecake, so even if it wasn’t the best of its kind, it was still chicken and cheesecake.

I also got to see a whole host of characters that I know well from Global news. I grew up watching them, as that was always the station my parent’s would watch the news on. Chris Gailus was the MC and he did a wonderful job at it. My teacher also won a Webster award, which was super cool.

And, most amazingly, Mohamed Fahmy attended the awards and was given a standing ovation in his honour. It is so incredible to be in his presence and to know what he has gone through – over 400 days in an Egyptian prison – and to see how strong he is. Somehow he made it through the horror and remained this incredibly positive force. And I got to shake his hand.

Being there, seeing all those people, hearing all those speeches, was the antidote I needed for the stress I’ve recently been drowning in. As one speaker advised us young journalists: don’t get caught up in the doom and gloom, the stress and the overworked, underpaid nature of the job description. Follow your heart.

It was good to be returned to an attitude of hope, even if it may only be temporary. A lot of the people up on that stage today were Langara Journalism grads. And as Harry Potter so famously says in the Order of the Pheonix: “If they can do it… why not us?” Why indeed? Maybe one day, years and years from now, I’ll be walking across that stage.



Halloween is over and November has started in a howl of rain, as if the gods were waiting for the start of the month to unleash their fury. The clouds sag in the sky, a damp grey the colour of ash, and the faintest hint of woodsmoke drifts astray on the chill breeze. It is perfect, this sudden end to the sunshine of the summer and fall. The rain smells fresh and the air is cold but not cold enough to numb you, just cold enough to leave you with a taste of winter on your lips.

How is it November already? It seems odd, this strange acceleration of time, and yet perfectly natural. Natural that it should be November, when the leaves cling only haphazardly to the trees, awaiting their turn to drift to the ground like feathers in the aftermaths of some summer pillow fight. The grass is littered with leaves, each unique in its hues: red, orange and yellow mixing as colours on a painter’s pallet.

I like the way street lamps look in the rain. They become something magical, a portal of softly glowing light that turns puddles into lakes of glistening copper and raindrops into cascading golden earrings. Everything glimmers in the rain. The roads shine with the reflection of passing cars, and the moon, when it is visible, paints the world with the most gentle silver glow. The rain seems to smooth the rough edges from the world, caress the stress lines from the bark of the trees, sand off the corners on cottages and skyscrapers alike. It catches itself in the curls of my hair and runs down my face in silver ribbons. I like the smell of it: like freedom and fresh air.

Stress and Other Fun Things


It’s been a highly stressful week what with school, midterms, work, and random health problems. I think I’ve come to the end of the chaos, more or less, and am looking forward to relaxing a bit this weekend. I never have time nowadays to do what I really want to, or to simply take it easy. There always seems to be homework, work or chores weighing me down. I haven’t done much writing lately and I’m longing to.

It’s hard being constantly on the go. While I don’t mind work, I miss being able to read, write and dream. I also miss the forest, and nature, and the stars – life away from the bustle of the city. The city creates this environment where there is always something coming at me, some sound or sight. There’s never a moment of peaceful reflection, never a moment to rest. There’s people everywhere, bombarding me, sucking energy away from me like dementors sucking happiness. I like people, for the most part, but I find them draining.

I was majorly stressed today because I was worried about a suspicious and slightly sore lump on my neck, and also about my last midterm. The midterm went fine and it turns out the lump is nothing serious, but I didn’t know that in the morning and spent my time stressed out. While I was waiting for my midterm to start, I closed my eyes, leaned back, and pictured a forest: what it would feel like to lie on the dirt and fir needles and feel the soil against my palms; what it would sound like, with birds calling and a river rushing nearby… I pictured the blue sky peeking out from between branches, and the sun warming my face. For a moment I was peaceful again, away from the stress of college and the city.

Perhaps I should try, once more, to take up meditation. I’ve tried doing this more times than I can count and every time I fail. I fall asleep, or I get bored, or I become impatient. But I think it would be a good habit to get into. Having that meditation world to slip into is like having a sanctuary in your mind; a corner of your consciousness where no worries of thoughts exist and you can take refuge in whenever you need to. The world is stressful. I need some sort of oasis from it all.

Living Differently


If I told you all the things I’ve never done that most people my age have, you’d tell me that I’ve never lived. I haven’t ever gotten drunk, and I’ve only ever taken a sip or two of alcohol in my life. I simply don’t drink. I’ve never smoked anything, or done any drug of any sort. I’ve only ever skipped class once, and I’ve never gotten a C on anything – my transcript has one B. I’ve never cheated on a test, except for a spelling test in grade two and I still regret that. The only way in which I’ve ever broken the law is by J-walking. I go to sleep on time. I do my homework right away. I’ve never gone to a “party” – my idea of a party is sitting around drinking tea and playing boardgames. I’ve never worn makeup, never gotten a tattoo, never worn heels, never dyed my hair. I’ve only ever had one boyfriend in my life and it lasted three months. I’ve never done a lot of things. I’m different. I’m weird. That much I’ve known all my life.

But you’d be very wrong to say I’ve never lived. I may not have played hooky or done shots, but I’ve done a lot. I’ve gone to Europe on my own, I’ve travelled North America in a van, I’ve taken a ferry to France. I’ve swum in glacier lakes, rivers, streams and the Pacific Ocean. I’ve swum in bioluminesence and it was like swimming through galaxies. I ran a newspaper almost singlehandedly for a month, and have worked at that same paper for over a year. I’ve had articles published on the front page. I’ve lived in a cabin in the woods on my own. I’ve played my flute on the Eiffel Tower, and while driving over the Golden Gate bridge, and on the Table in the Quairang mountain range in Scotland. I made a French guy cry with my music while I was in Paris. I’ve explored a volcano, slept under the stars countless times, and climbed a ridge at the top of the world just in time to catch the sunset. I’ve hiked across the alpine tundra at midnight with a hundred billion stars above, singing Lord of the Rings songs the whole way. I’ve jumped into the frigid Fairy Pools in April, I’ve taken a train to the Isle of Skye, I’ve visited castles, and I’ve arrived at London at 8:30 at night with a dead phone, no map, and absolutely no plan of where to sleep. And I’ve figured out where to go from there.

I’ve gone to a fancy conference and presented to national leaders in education. I’ve made friends that are like family, and I’ve talked about everything and anything with them. I’ve gone on countless night walks and delved deep into philosophic wanderings. I’ve had some English discussions so intense we made visitors to my school cry. I’ve hiked the Juan de Fuca, ridden rollercoasters, gone to the Yukon, explored dozens of national parks and hugged giant redwood trees. I have the most amazing family in the world. I’ve done so much and I feel so, so lucky for it. I have lived. I have lived deeply. I have just lived differently.

And I am different. I get it. Sometimes I can feel myself breaking under the weight of it – the weight of the solitude. I can feel myself suffocating under the pressure, drowning in the loneliness. Because I’m weird. I can’t connect with most people. I’m an introvert. I read more than I speak. I’m alone all the time. Sometimes I begin to feel like that’s always going to be the way it is. Sometimes I begin to feel like I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. I can’t help it. I can’t make the feeling go away. When I see two people on the street holding hands, for a moment I can feel a hand in my own – a ghost hand, an imaginary hand. Is that weird? I suppose it is. But like I said, I’m weird.

I’ve lived so incredibly deeply during my life and I am incredibly grateful for it. I just don’t live in a way that others my age do, so I can’t connect with them. I suppose that’s why the longer I stay in college, the longer I long to travel. Because college is fraught with normality, and travelling is the antithesis of normality. It’s an opportunity to be different and do things differently. It’s a chance to go on adventures and meet new people. Meet different people. Because somewhere out there in that big wide world, I’m sure, is a kindred spirit who is just as weird as I am.