Category Archives: Survival Tips

Life Lessons from a Cabbie

qhvdzjw1cv-4725a98b-98cc-aa55-5f50-6c7b0445c919

The day before I would take the taxi ride that resulted in my learning the story below, I was in a fourth-year English seminar discussing The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments. The professor talked about how the Orient tale was often used in the eighteenth-century as a fantastical narrative form by Western writers concocting stories that commented on their own domestic circumstances. Orient tales like Nights were then often abridged into children’s books imbued with bourgeois morals designed to educate Western readers on how to be good, upstanding Britons.

I don’t drive, and living in Toronto I’ve been happy to take public transit wherever I go. Yet my family doctor is in Oakville, so when I need to see her I go home for the weekend and take a cab to my appointment on the days when my parents can’t give me a lift. So it was that the day after my class I found myself speaking with a middle-aged cab driver who told me that he was from Turkey.

After talking for a while about his family and kids, he then asked about me. I told him that I was about to graduate from U of T in June.

“You are entering your donkey years,” he said.

I thought that I had misheard him, but when I saw him looking at me through the rear-view mirror, eyes smiling, I realized I hadn’t. I asked him what he meant, and he told me this story.

Once upon a time there lived a donkey, a dog, a monkey, and a human. The donkey, dog, and monkey each had a life expectancy of forty years while the Human’s was only twenty. Yet each animal had their unique grievances: the donkey was weary of a life spent working hard for others and being treated poorly for little compensation. The dog was weary of guarding his property and spending its days barking to protect it. The monkey was upset because all anyone ever did was make fun of how silly it was. Yet the human had no grievances  because it’s life was easy and pleasant; its only complaint was that it was so short.

Watching from above, God saw their grieving and transported them to Heaven. He listened the donkey, dog, and monkey’s complaints in turn before turning to the human.

“The other animals say that they wish their lives were shorter because their lives are so tedious and difficult, but your life is good,” God said. “What is then is your grievance?”

“Nothing; I only wish that my life were longer,” the human replied.

Thinking for a moment, God at last announced that he had a solution to all their grievances.

“The donkey, dog, and monkey are all weary of their lives and wish them to be shorter. So I will cut each of their lives in half, and give these extra years to the human,” he said.

The cabbie said that I was now, at twenty-one, one year out of my human years and into my donkey years. My human years were easy, carefree, and pleasant. Upon graduating, my donkey years would involve my taking jobs where I worked hard for long hours with little pay as I climbed my career ladder. When I turn forty, he said, I will enter my dog years, where I have made it to the top of my career and am now barking orders at people below me and guarding the success that I earned in my twenties and thirties. When I turn sixty, I will spend the rest of my life in my monkey years, when my grandchildren will make fun of me for being so silly.

“In all my life, I have never met anyone who was able to disprove my story. Can you?” He asked me. I said I couldn’t. He was exactly right.

When we arrived at the clinic I told him that I would share his story, and I did, with my family and friends. Now I am sharing it here, so you too can share the wisdom I learned from a cabbie.

5 Reasons To Make Your Bed Every Morning

There are two kinds of people in our universe: people who make their beds in the morning, and people who do not. For the latter category, mornings are the worst. We barely have enough energy to get out of our beds, let alone make them. As a kid, whenever my Mom told me to make my bed my instincts would kick in and I would reply ‘Why? I’m getting back in there in a few hours anyway’.

Besides the fact that your mother told you to do so, there are 5 good reasons to keep your sheets neat:

6a00d8341c5e0053ef0191023524dc970c-800wi

  1. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment.
    Simple as it may seem, keeping your sheets neat first thing in the morning gives you a kickstart to being orderly and efficient. These two minutes of work set the tone for the rest of your day. It may be small, but it’s mighty!
  2. It keeps you motivated.
    Keeping your sheets neat gives you a feeling of success. This in turn keeps you motivated to take on other challenges over the course of your day. Quoting Emmet Fox, “a small spark can start a great fire”.
  3. You learn to manage your time more efficiently.
    Making your bed literally takes two minutes. By squeezing in this simple task between the time you turn on your kettle and the time it starting whistling, you learn to become more efficient with your time management skills overall, getting you used to accomplishing smaller tasks between your bigger ones.
  4. It keeps you healthier and happier.
    Unappealing as it may seem, every minute your skin sheds over 30,000 dead cells; over 50% of the dust at your place is actually dead skin. By straightening up your bed in the morning and giving it some air to breath, you prevent dirt and dust from joining you under the covers at night. You are in control of your own space, how it looks, and therefore how it makes you feel. A tidy space is very calming and can help you create your own soothing sanctuary at home.
  5. It’s a minor commitment.
    For those of you who, like me, are not big fans of commitment, making your bed is a small morning ritual that builds momentum for a greater positive change. Picking one little task to improve your life, and doing it regularly, will help you get in the habit of progressively dedicating yourself to smaller, and gradually bigger, commitments.

If I haven’t convinced you to make your bed already, watch this short video by Admiral McRaven, who claims that changing the world starts with making your bed!

 

Competitiveness: How It Can Make or Break You

Competitive

Ah, competitiveness. How we’ve all had those moments when we wanted to be better than your friend, your class, or maybe even the entire school. The spirit of competition and that lingering sense of superiority exists within all of us. It’s no surprise that in a place like a university, competition is in everyone. It’s really how we utilize that drive that ultimately forms the dividing line between pushing yourself to succeed and running yourself into the ground. Continue reading Competitiveness: How It Can Make or Break You

10 Signs You Should Dump Him

modern-relationship-revised-wm[1]

You’re new to Toronto. I was there once too, just a young girl arriving from the beautiful, cultural, and romantic country of Italy. Since I was used to true gentlemen there, I had no idea that arriving in Toronto would mean entering the world of…Netflix and Chill. The purpose of this article is to save the young ladies of UofT the time and effort spent on trying to determine why he’s acting so strange and how to cut to the chase. Here are the signs that he’s no good.

  1. He never has time for you UNLESS it’s to do the “chill” part.                                         A text message takes 15 seconds to write…Don’t let him fool you, he has the time…just not for your personality. 🙂
  2. He always makes excuses for his actions, or even worse, blames you when things go wrong.  Always find that you are the one to blame for his failing an exam, or his friends being mad at him? Maybe you should remind him that he’s the one who says things he doesn’t mean and that you on the other hand are his saving grace.
  3. He looks like P. Diddy on your first “date.”                                                                          Date is an understatement. You had high priorities and expectations for your first date, a romantic night with bright stars and love-filled air…not with this guy. Unfortunately, you had to give those up after he kept saying “no” to everything that didn’t involve a mattress or spending money, so you ended up doing the typical warning bells date “Netflix and Chill.” What’s worse? After consulting your wardrobe for what seemed like centuries, doing your make-up and making sure you smelled like a baby pageant queen, he shows up like he just woke up from a nap and greets you saying “wassup.” Running away yet?
  4. Every time you say his name to girls it’s like you started a hot potato game.      Do you find that if you bring him up to girls they always seem to a) get nervous b) make the face you make when you’re about to puke or c) full-on tell you he’s a player? Pack yo bags hunny.
  5. He forgets IMPORTANT details. If your man is constantly forgetting about major plans you made together, what your relationship status is, or details about who you are, that’s slightly concerning. You should either a) ditch or b) get him a calendar.
  6. His stories never add up.                                                                                                                  I’ll admit it, sometimes a little white lie doesn’t hurt anybody. However, if his stories about his night out with the bros, his actions, or social media stories don’t add up EVER, then maybe it’s time to confront the fact that his lies might be both big and hurtful to you.
  7. He never wants to be seen in public with you, but is sliding into your DM’s every five seconds.                                                                                                                                              I get it. Some people (including myself) don’t like PDA, but when your partner is purposely finding reasons to not be seen with you in front of people he knows, especially girls, that’s a pretty big red flag.
  8. He tells his guy friends about you but not his girl “friends.” Honey, the girls aren’t friends.
  9. When you try to talk about what you two are, he suddenly turns into Louis C.K. You finally get the courage to ask him the question that could change everything, that’s been bothering you for months: what are we? However, the courage is not rewarded as every time a question about what you two are together comes up you suddenly become host to a comedy show. He manages to turn every single attempt to legitimize the relationship into a light-hearted joke until you give up and he takes the opportunity to change the subject
  10. He doesn’t appreciate you.                                                                                                         This man fails to realize the obvious. You are the moon, not one of them dimly lit stars! He was blessed enough to receive your time, kindness, affection, and love but failed to notice and undermined you. Do yourself a favour and shine even brighter without him! After all, you aren’t the kind of girl who gives up just like that.

A How-To Guide for Getting Involved

1316AgesSeptember

Like most U of T students, I planned my high school career with the ultimate goal of achieving perfect grades so that I could have my choice of prestigious universities. When I got into that university (U of T, of course), I planned to be president of this and staff writer of that, and have time to go to the gym at least every other day, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. In short, I planned to have the perfect university experience.

During Clubs Day, I put my name down for about ten different clubs and committees. I can’t say there was any rhyme or reason to my choices, other than a vague sense that it “sounded cool” (that’s why Muy Thai kickboxing and beekeeping club were among them). During the first week of classes, I attended the informal open-house meetings for some of these groups. But my plans started dissolving by the end of September. As I tried to adjust to a new city, residence life, and the rapid pace of university classes, I found there was no space in my brain left for Muay Thai kickboxing or beekeeping or hitting the gym.

Now that I’ve navigated the first year of university life, I feel more confident in my ability to wrestle the proverbial monkey off my back and really experience the cool stuff that U of T offers outside the classroom (believe it or not, there is a lot of cool stuff). Lucky for you BlogUT readers, my first-year mistakes have become your Guide to Getting Involved For Real This Time: Continue reading A How-To Guide for Getting Involved

Regretting UofT? Don’t.

Let’s start off by saying UofT is an amazing institution to begin with, but it’s no secret university can be somewhat soul sucking. I know there are some of you who have regrets about choosing UofT, or feel as though university is not for you. Perhaps some of you want to transfer to a smaller city, or a more social university. Yes UofT can be very daunting and secluded, even with all the efforts the university makes to get you involved. I’m sure there are hundreds of student feeling the same weight and loneliness at UofT as you. Living in a huge city like Toronto certainly has it’s ups and downs.

Ups: Opportunities are everywhere and it’s calling your name. Any interests/passions you may have (music, clubbing, life-drawing, thrift-shopping) or not sure what your passions are, it’s out there. And last but not least, absorbing culture and diversity. Toronto prides itself on its diversity and it makes you a more humble person without you even knowing it. For example, if you are in the LGBT community there are hundreds of organizations/events that you can partake in. Not every place in the world would have that. Now the trick is finding where all these amazing things are.

Downs: Having a million things to do but not knowing where to go or what to do. Being invisible in a sea of people. Nobody caring who you are or what you do. Highschool for me sucked simply because it was not what I expected and I felt out of place and alone. There were no such thing as cliques or rumours at my high-school because nobody cared or knew you well enough to play the stereotypes. A lot of people from my residence who came from small towns, amazed me with their stories of how Americanized their schools were. You know that whole party, jocks, nerds, mean girls, scandalous gossips thing. And a part of me has always wanted that since that is what I am conditioned to expect through Americanized programming. But it was mostly community that I wanted, and I came into university expecting to meet people like myself, get connected, and feel a sense of community.

However that has not been the case yet, since UofT is quite isolating. The hardest thing at UofT besides the overbearing amount of work, is the lack of social-life. Funny thing is we knew coming to UofT would mean forfeiting our social-life. Even moving into residence was not that helpful since everyone is busy with their own lives and not everyone makes the effort. It’s difficult to network and build connections in such a vast city of over 5 million people and even harder if you were a commuter. All I have to say to you guys is don’t worry. Truth of the matter is, you are getting one of the best educations in the world, and though it’s challenging and it’s a lot of hard work, it makes you a stronger, more well-crafted person. The key is to find balance between work and play.

I know everyone says this, but seriously, it doesn’t matter if you graduate with a 4.0 GPA if you’re lacking the communication skills you need to nail an interview to land the job.