What’s My Brand?

I know the title of this post is a little odd for many of you reading. After all, I am not laundry detergent, cereal, shoes, or any of those things we generally consider “branded” or “brands”. I am also not about to throw you a whole self-branding or self-marketing spiel. (I promise). Quite the opposite really.

Now to be fair, I know my site is somewhat branded. It’s girly and cutesy. I have a logo and a colour scheme indicative of my audience…blah blah blah. (Not that I’m not proud of these things, I am. I worked quite hard on them). I just want to ensure you readers out there that as cutesy as I might seem I will not shy away from tackling hard topics on here.

The hard things are the most interesting, and I believe they are what should be most talked about. Usually though, they aren’t.

SO PSA: To All My Readers

Prepare yourself.

On this website, you will be entertained yes, but that will never be my singular purpose for writing. Rather, I hope to enlighten you, I hope to make you think about some hard things, some fun things and some interesting things. I hope to help you and inform you, to offer you a different way of at looking at the world, yourself, your relationship and others.

I hope to take you outside of your bubble.

I know this is quite an undertaking, but then, I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge. It’s just not in my nature to not tackle the hard things. The content I bring you on here will be no exception.

SO

Starting in August, I will be publishing a series of profiles. I want to introduce you to real people who inspire me, challenge me, and make me happy because the world needs more positivity. It needs more support and it needs more love!

Stay Tuned Y’all,

xo Hannah

facebook picture

 

Attached in Your 20s: Being Single vs Being Serious

Remember when we were in middle school and it suddenly felt like everyone was coupling up? When suddenly recess became a receptacle for the holding of sweaty 12 year old hands and illicit makeouts on the pavement.

Well, post-grad feels kinda like that. (At least I think so).

It’s like all of a sudden we all went from making out in bars with people whose names we would never know (or care to know) and taking home strangers, to declaring our love on the internet and making things #FacebookOfficial.

Maybe this is our attempt to adult?

(Step One: Find life partner)
(Step Two: Tell everyone???)

Now before anyone gets offended I too have joined the love-zombie army. (His name is Jordy and he takes up most of my instagram lately). However, being the wildly independent-unattached-don’t-need-no-man kind of girl that I am (was?) my membership to the love club is kind of freaking me out.

Here’s why:

  1. Because my boyfriend is dutch and his immigration paperwork is a nightmare and I love him and want to marry him one day but not yet because I’m only 21 and the idea of that is scary as fuck and also I don’t want a green card marriage and neither does he.(I’m guessing that’s just a me problem though)

    SO ANYWAYS

  2. Because I see a future with him, and suddenly what I want in life, and what I picture for myself and my life is starting to include him.

    Now, that’s not saying my plans are beginning to revolve around him, or even my life, but I’m seeing how easily they could start to, and the ease with which I see this terrifies me. Which leads me to….

  3. I am terrified of compromising on what I want/or wanted because I want him (forever).

    I always prided myself on never letting myself revolve around a guy. Ever. Period. The end. I always made my own choices, my own decisions, and if they happened to be amenable for/to him then LUCKY HIM! If not….then Bye Felicia.

    But I’m starting to think more and more that maybe it’s okay to compromise on some things in the name of being happy, because what you want can change. That what you want in life is allowed to change, maybe even supposed to change as you get older/grow/whatever. Because while you do change, as long as you still are a person you like and that your past self would also like and be proud of, don’t beat yourself up for the change (I think?).

    BUT

  4. Isn’t this is the time when you are supposed to get to know you? Like the solo you? Or are those just articles and lists to make the single girls (aka me 8 months ago) feel better?

    I don’t know. A friend told me a little while ago that in the end you just have to do what makes you happy. (Which is a cliche but still true). And truthfully, I don’t think I’ll ever find someone that makes me this happy (even with the constant immigration headaches).

    My boyfriend is patient, kind, tolerant of my uniqueness (read: weirdness). He doesn’t mind tickling my feet for a whole movie, puts up with me loving my rabbit more than him (sorry babe), and works harder than anyone I know. He’s gentle, sweet, and sometimes he’s even funny. I could go on and go, but I’ll stop there because you probably get the point.

Honestly, despite these things (these GREAT things about being in a serious relationship) I’ll probably always worry a little that I didn’t sleep with enough people, or sow enough wild oats. I’ll worry that I settled down too soon or met the one to early (assuming things work out, knock on wood) (((I really really really hope they do))).

I know a lot of my friends with seriously-gonna-marry-him SO’s feel the same.I guess the grass is always greener right?

Though, in these moments when I have these doubts about it being “too-soon” “too-limiting” “too-much” for 21, I try to remember what it was before him. Sometimes, it was great. I had a lot of fun. A lot.I kissed a few boys (and a few I shouldn’t have). I did some things I’m not proud of and some I still really am  😉 . I spent time alone. I was selfish and could leave my phone off without someone worrying I was mad at them (my friends know I am not a fan of charging my phone). I focused on my rabbit, and travelled alone.

Honestly, sometimes I miss it all. Sometimes I can tell my friends miss single Hannah too. (Though they definitely don’t miss sad-lonely-broken hearted Hannah, the Hannah that often accompanied fun single Hannah.) However, I wouldn’t trade fun-singledom for my serious relationship. I wouldn’t trade what I have with Jordy for anything in the world.

So all that said, what’s better? Single or Serious?

Idk.

See, both single and serious are scary, and though I wouldn’t trade Jordy for anything, I can’t honestly say that one kind of scary is better or worse than the other. Nor can I say that one status is better  (or worse). I guess all I am saying is that just being 21 is scary.

Being 21 and in a serious relationship is scary because you worry that having an SO prevents you from being the 21 that you are “supposed to be”. However, that isn’t to say being 21 and single is any easier. Like I said before, 21 any which way is hard.

For me personally, it’s scary and it’s hard because I’m terrified I’m missing out. I am fearful that being attached means I will not only miss the growth of my 20s, but also that I will lose the best things about single Hannah. Her ambition, her candour, her creativity, her drive, her wit. Though as far as losing these things goes, I don’t think I have. I think I’ve remained the person I am. I think I’ve finally found someone who lets me be those things, the ones I am most proud of. I think maybe seriously-attached isn’t the personality catalyst  I thought it was.

That isn’t to say it hasn’t and won’t be a struggle to remain a whole person outside of my relationship. Not losing yourself in someone you love that much? I think that’s tough, especially for people our age. But then, maybe your 20s are for getting lost?

No, maybe not in that sense. Regardless, I don’t have any plans to lose myself. I like her too much. I think I’ll keep her, or at least the best parts of her around. After all, isn’t that what your 20s are really for? Finding the best parts of yourself, for discovering those things inside you and learning how not to let them go, single or taken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s True… I’m Low Key Obsessed With The Kardashians

*Originally published on Her Campus Western Ontario*

For a long time now, I’ve been keeping a secret. It’s embarrassing, shameful and sometimes full on krazy. Yes, krazy, as in with a k, as in I, Hannah Lee, am krazy obsessed with the Kardashians.

My obsession is something I’ve been struggling with privately for some time now. I’ve unfollowed Kim and her various sisters more times than I can count, I’ve abstained from watching my collection of PVR’d episodes both old and new. I’ve picked up magazines with them on the kover only to force myself to put them down, but let’s be honest there’s no escaping the Kardashians. They’ve officially taken over.

You can’t go anywhere without seeing the Kardashians, or Kar-Jenners. Kendall is on every single runway, the internet is saturated by Kim (she ain’t breaking the internet y’all she is the internet), and even Kylie is now on the faces of people all over the world (thanks Lip kits by Kylie xo).

AND I HATE IT AND LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Most people, myself included, usually rationalize their Kar-Jenner obsession by comparing it to a car crash, so horrible you can’t look away. However, horrible is the wrong word I think. I would more say, their lives have become a spectacle, a walking-talking, never-ending free show that fascinates us and disgusts us to the point where even the most academic of us can’t look away.

We’re entranced by the money, the flash, the red-soled pumps, and crazy outfits, the exclusiveness of belonging to the Kar-Jenner Klan, being part of their Klique. How you basically have to be blood relative or banging a member of the family to get Kylie Lip Kit ™ or a pair of Yeezy’s which btw cost MINIMUM 1k. Like what????

But spectacle aside, when it comes to Kar-Jenner obsessions, why am I and so many others so ashamed???

It might be that the Kar-Jenner’s aren’t exactly Klassy….

 

They’re pretty kruel…

(You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores. -Miss Norbury)

They aren’t really Koherent…

Or you know…Konsiderate….

(as my dad would say…no hitting Kim)

You can’t say they aren’t Kreative though

Or very well Konnected.

Or not Kurious…

They’re even Kind of relatable!

But mostly… they’re just Krazy.

And pretty Self-Kentered…

But I guess the Kuteness usually makes up for it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this Kollection of Kardashians, and know now that you’re not the only one obsessed with the Kar-Jenner empire, and DEFINITELY not the only one ashamed but obsessed. In the words of the Kreator of all things Kardashian –

And remember! Enjoy the spectacle, but don’t spend a kazillion dollars on all things Kar-Jenner, you do need to eat and pay rent and stuff…

 

Body Betrayal

*Originally Published on Her Campus Western Ontario*

We are not kind to our bodies. We gorge them and starve them. We tan them and bleach them. We cut them and tuck them. We mutilate them and destroy them, all because we want to make them “beautiful”.

The “Beautiful Body,” however, is not something we will ever, or even can ever attain. It is a moving target, a shifting definition, and an ideal which differs from culture to culture and place to place. It is this transiency a “beautiful body” which makes loving ours nearly impossible. Yet, we are still bombarded with messages of self love on all fronts. But how?

How are we supposed to love our bodies when we can never achieve a perfect one? How are we supposed to love ourselves, our whole selves, when we’re made to feel like our body is all that matters? How are we supposed to love our bodies when it feels like no one else does, or even could? And finally, how are we supposed to love our bodies when it feels like they just don’t love us back?

This last question is one I’ve struggled with since I before I can remember. I was born with something called hypothyroidism, which means my thyroid doesn’t produce the hormones which regulate my metabolism. I’ve been on medication for it since I was diagnosed at a few days old, but I’m subject to blood tests every few months to make sure the medication dosage is correct.

A few times in my life, my levels weren’t monitored closely enough causing weight gain and other physical and mental side effects. This past summer was one of those times. To my horror and confusion, my clothes stopped fitting, my energy level dropped, and my crop tops were pushed to the back of my closet.

When I discovered the reason for these things. I was angry with myself, but angrier with my body. Why couldn’t it just work properly? Why did it have to cause me to gain weight randomly, or make me too tired to get out of bed? Why did my body hate me?

As you can imagine, at this time I wasn’t exactly embracing my body, or feeling any love towards it. I was angry and sad and beyond frustrated.  These feelings lessened for a time when my levels were back to normal, but when the weight didn’t melt off they quickly returned.

I know most of you reading this probably don’t share my medical condition, but I’m sure you’ve shared my frustration. Maybe it was when the diet and heavy exercise didn’t equal weight loss, or toning. Maybe you couldn’t tan like all your friends at the beach, or maybe you had a birth mark which you hated for how it embarrassed you when revealed by your swimwear. Maybe in those moments, like me, you hated your body.

For this I don’t blame you. Loving your body is much harder when it feels like it’s working against you. When it feels like it’s betraying you and everything you do to make it beautiful, or healthy, or strong. That’s a logical feeling, and it’s okay to feel that way.

That being said, no matter how frustrated or angry you are with your body, you still need to try and love it. Even and especially when it doesn’t love you back.

I know this is hard. It’s something that requires constant work and practice. It is slow, and there are setbacks. This kind of self love isn’t something that is easily, or maybe even ever achieved, but no matter how you alter it, your body is something you’re stuck with for life, so you might as well make friends with it.

Like any new friendship, I suggest you start slow. For me that means spending 20 or 30 minutes a day doing yoga. I stretch and move and get to know my body a little bit better each time. For you it might be starting off with a compliment. Looking in the mirror and thinking “My butt looks damn good today.”

Like I said, it’s a slow start, begin with these little things.

As you begin this friendship though, please remember that just as when you build any relationship there’s going to be fights and falling outs. You’ll have disagreements, and small betrayals. There will be days when you’re just not feeling kind. No friendship is perfect. That’s how it goes.

Like I said earlier, I know this isn’t easy but it’s something I’m working on. I know, I need my body to support me, and be there for me, so I’m trying to be there for it too. I’m building a relationship, hopefully one that will last a long time. I want a long active life and this is how I’m working on it. I hope you will be kind to yourself and to your body as you work towards that too.

Humans Aren’t Designed For Independence

Humans were not meant to be self sufficient. That is why there are so damn many of us. That is why we are able to recreate with (relative) ease. However, even the process of pro-creation is hardly self-sufficient. Yes, the female bears much of the responsibility but she still requires a partner for pro-creation.

In an age of science, the necessity of a human partner in pro-creation is much less necessary. There are sperm banks which enable and for some, are perceived to empower single person procreation. Minimal relations required and none of the intimate variety. Though in my humble opinion having someone stick anything up there is still intimate to some degree. But I digress.

Now, I won’t stoop to spouting intelligent design theories or creationism, but there is something to be said for the evolutionary design. That is, historically, being surrounded by other humans maximized survival potential. To stay alive, we literally needed others, and so we evolved into complex groupings, societies, families, partnerships even—all intended for our maximal individual survival.

Individual, individual, individual. I wonder how many times I can say the word before it turns into, translates into, or magically becomes synonymous with independence, a prized brag-worthy characteristic. A characteristic so valued that it has even    become something to be graded, a “learning skill” monitored in school.

“X has the ability to work independently.”

“X lacks the ability to adequately work independently of others.”

One of those statements is not like the other. That is, one is bad and one is good. One is celebrated and one is debased. One signals a parent’s worst fear, that their child is  co-dependent, the kind of human not suited to our modern times. But why? Why are they not suited to our time?

After all, our time is a time so ridden with anxiety and stress. Our time is riddled with the inability to create meaningful relationships wit others and consequently lacks such all too-necessary relationships.

SO, in the year 2016, when countries and individuals still can’t manage peace, still suffer self-imposed yet still detrimental isolation, why is co-dependence so bad? Don’t we need each other more than ever?

I think so. Then, who am I to declare this?

Well, I am a girl who’s made a recent discovery. I love someone. I love them more than I knew you could love someone. They are infused into my pores, into the very breathing being thing that I am. They are so much a part of me that I know that I’ll never rid myself of those parts even should I rid myself of them. Then, this is true of most parts of myself. I am made of others.

I am made of the things I have said to them and done to them. I am made of the things said and done to me. I am their expressions; the phrases they regularly use. I am pieces of people whose names I don’t remember and of some whose name I never even knew.

Before you let you mind drift to the gutter, I don’t mean to say I’ve had sexual relations with these “people,” I just mean I live in the world, in a society. I go to restaurants and talks to waiters, I walk to the parking lot and smile at an old man sitting by the street. I have dinner at a family friends, or slip a few dollars in a fireman’s helmet. I live in the world, I can’t escape these people, just like they can’t help their interactions with me.

Sometimes I hate this. People are dangerous, they can hurt you, maim you, kill you, and/or worst of all, they can break your heart. Sometimes, without even knowing your name.

On days I can’t bear to deal with people, I do what most of us do now a-days. I order in. I go through the drive through. I text instead of call.  On these days I wonder if I am suffering from something. I wonder if it is a symptom of something to so actively avoid the minimal interactions of daily life. It might be. But then, if these interactions are what are meant to be most natural, what should make me feel human, why do some of them go beyond social convention and into the realm of mechanical?

How did we ever let this happen? Was it the celebration of independence? Or was that symptomatic of our waning group-centric humanity?

Damn.

Can we even call ourselves human as anymore, as we strive and sometimes even achieve independence? Or then, are we fooling ourselves with the idea true independence from others is something we could even achieve?

Personally, I hope it isn’t achievable.

I know I have days where I aim for it. Where I do my best to keep my contact with others minimal, but on these days, unless I spend them entirely lost in my own mind I never come close to achieving it. Actually, even lost in my own mind, I don’t think I could achieve it. There are too many other humans swirling around in there. My thoughts are such that I’d never be truly alone.

Speaking to this mechanical-ness of modern interaction, however, when one thinks about it, it seems without authentic human companionship we seek to replicate it. We need someone to replace it, and do so in a way that at least feels authentic. Consider movies or television entertainment. We give prestigious awards to people who can best “act,” who can best be authentic.

I hope that sounds strange when you think of it. I hope you realize the oddness of that in an age of human independence.

I guess what it comes down to is we need other humans. We are made of them, literally (ha ha), and in every other possible way. We build ourselves from them, even the replications of them. We identify ourselves with our heroes (real or mythical), with our favourite actors, and with our favorite characters. We can’t help it. It’s evolution.

We pass on things about ourselves, we manifest in other people, and let other people manifest in us. We give parts, we take parts and we take parts on. We are not born alone, we do not live alone, and we do not die alone. We become through others, and we go on through others.

We are human, even in 2016, we are human, we are co-dependent, we need each other. I think most of us just forget how very much.

The In-Between Bits

When I first met my now-boyfriend, what was involved with him staying in Canada was both distant and abstract to me. It was something to be worried about if we stayed together, and that if I was around for, I planned on being a passive bystander to.

I’m pretty sure someone famous said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Though cliché, this is where I found myself a few months into dating him: in the middle of my horribly gone-awry plan to be unattached and ready to independently take on post-grad life. Instead of these things, I was not only attached, but also very much in love, and caught up in the messy reality of him having to go back to Holland.

I was sobbing into the phone and then off the phone. Ugly, raw, primal sounds, the sounds a heart makes when it’s breaking. All this made worse by my sudden and painful realization that without my knowing it, I’d fallen in love with him.

Realizing this just as he having to leave was a stupid and bitter kind of irony. It was the kind better left for indie-rom-coms without happy endings. I couldn’t believe my love story was about to be reduced to this. I had flashes of 2011’s “Like Crazy”.

I didn’t want to spend years caught up in immigration paperwork and applications for Visas. I didn’t want to have a relationship spread across continents and time zones.

I mean yes, there is a kind of romance in that, but when faced with the bitter reality of it, the romance all but disappears.

I didn’t want a life that was on hold, that was waiting for him to be back in it again. I didn’t want to be “halved by the halves that halve you halve,” and even a few moments into the reality of it, I knew the bleakness of “Like Crazy” was a reflection of such a situation’s reality. I knew I didn’t want that, but I also knew I loved him more than I’d ever loved anyone.

I’d dated. A lot.

I knew what was out there and it wasn’t a hell of a lot. There almost certainly wasn’t someone as patient, as kind, as gentle, as shy, as anything in the combination, in the way, that he was. I won’t be so dramatic as to say moving on wasn’t an option. It was something we’d talked about very early on.

Late one night over text, he told me that if he had to go back, and go back for a long time, he didn’t want me to wait for him, or to feel like I should. He said, “If you find someone that makes you happy, don’t worry about me or how I’ll feel. Just go be happy.”

We’d barely been dating at this point. We hadn’t said “I love you,” but in that moment I knew. I’d never met anyone that selfless. I’d never met anyone who would so easily put my happiness before their own.

As I sat staring at my phone with bleary eyes, I suddenly knew  that I was  so screwed. I knew that while he might be good to enough to let me go, there was no way I could do the same. I knew then that six months or so later, I’d be fighting like hell to keep him here because I couldn’t imagine being without him.

Today, like the last few days has been a hard one. I’ve cried a lot more than usual. I’ve been testy and on edge, taking my stress out on the people I love most. I’ve also, in a lot of ways, been the best version of myself. A fighter, a negotiator, a caretaker, a clown, a partner, a sympathizer, a girl in love.

Truthfully, I still don’t know what’s going to happen with him or with us, and honestly that’s the worst part. I know what I hope for. I know what I want to happen, but I don’t know what will.

I also know I love him. I know that even with all the stress I wouldn’t trade him for anyone, and I truly honesty absolutely wouldn’t trade what we have for anything.

My Grandma told me the other day that the Lord has a plan, and I should just trust in him. Neither of us are religious, not my boyfriend nor I, but right now that’s exactly what we’re going to have to do. It might suck right now, it might be really hard, but we can only trust that what’s supposed to happen will. We have to believe we have a chance.

Love,

Hannah