This is far removed from the regular content of my blog posts. No recipe today, just some self-reflective thoughts on my time away from home so far (as well as my time on earth in general) and photos of windows and buildings in Montréal that I took a few days ago.

As you may have to come to realize by now: I'm a person that feels way too much, all the time. I struggle with depression, anxiety and some obsessive-compulsive tendencies (though I don't have OCD). One plus: we anxious folks often tend to be really empathetic and emotionally sensitive to other people's feelings. I care and worry about everything and everyone, A LOT. Sometimes it's overwhelming and sometimes I'm grateful for my biological disposition. Being a sensitive flower means being easily triggered or panicked. It means that any change in my surroundings can profoundly affect my mood and emotional outlook on the world and myself. So I expected SOME mental stressors on this trip, since I'll be gone from home for 3 or 4 months (the longest I've ever been away before this is a month). Perhaps naïvely, I was hoping for mainly positive changes in my mood and mentality, you know- those epiphanies and life-altering moments you're supposed to experience on big adventures. But frankly, it hasn't been all roses and daisies so far.

It's primarily due to how my brain works (problems with neurotransmitters firing and chemical imbalances) that affects how I feel, but of course my external lived experience plays a role; and lately, the world has been pretty goddamn sad. My anxiety causes me to have deep concern for social justice. It's impossible for me to ignore the oppression and abuse too many people must survive everyday in "Canada", "America" (indigenously called Turtle Island by many First Nations) and the rest of the world.

My mind goes between thoughts and feelings a normal 23-year old privileged young white person might have (trying to get over Jack, rediscovering my own identity, thinking about my future, trying to find happy moments when possible, considering a new haircut and different glasses, finding cool dance clubs in Montréal, getting more tattoos, daydreaming about making out with cute people); AND shit none of us should have to deal with, but that we are obligated to (mourning the systemic injustices carried out daily against my friends, neighbours and fellow humans while working to fight for freedom in whatever ways I can). IT'S A LOT.

I've been reflecting a ton on past relationships (the good, the bad and the ugly): why I chose to get caught up in love with particular individuals; why certain people hurt me more than I could ever imagine; why others didn't; how someone could go from loving me to not giving a shit about me overnight; how meaningful my queer and femme friendships are to me now; how uninterested I am in the kind of people I used to fall head over heels for; how much I've been socially conditioned to value male attention and approval over others and how much I hate that and am trying to unlearn it...

I'm attempting to find closure with my last relationship but because the person who left me seemingly couldn't care less about me or how I'm doing, it's really challenging. I'm realizing that closure probably isn't a luxury I will be afforded this time. I must come to terms with that. More than anything my healing process has illuminated the importance of my relationship with ME. It's paramount. I'm in my early 20's and while I am far from the happiest I've ever been, I AM the strongest, most empowered and independent. I don't want to lose that. So I'd rather continue putting my time, energy and love into myself instead of someone who might leave me one day, or who might change over time. It's a time of metamorphosis and there's only room for one right now. Valuing myself is a daily practice. It's difficult - and balancing it with social justice participation is confusing - but always beyond worthwhile.

My time here so far has involved personal, intimate self-reflection as well as reflection about what fairness and social equity needs to look like; about how I want the future to be for me personally and for the world. I am on vacation in the sense that I have vacated my home and all that is familiar, secure and reliable. And so while in this limbo between home and wherever I am going, I have a unique opportunity to consider who I am and what I want; what I can do to help the world be more just, what I can do to feel more comfortable in my own body; what I can do to be happy for the short time I am here (in Montréal, on this multi-month trip, in my youth, in this life). Thus in these photos I find a symbolism: windows are mirrors as well as objects of clarity. They reflect what is around them, displaying their environment in a new way. They also show us what is inside, giving illumination to what would otherwise be hidden behind a solid wall. Plus - to make this less dramatic - they just look pretty, especially in Montréal where every building is old and gorgeous (as opposed to my home, Vancouver, where our architecture leaves far too much to be desired).

I hope you got something from this post. Thank you for reading. And just to be clear: I may feel hopeless much of the time thanks to mental illness and the ways of the world, but in my heart and mind I am really very full of hope. We are strong together. We are powerful together. We can change the world together. We just need to keep showing up and fighting.