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Learning to allow space for others to be themselves has helped me love my circle of friends even more

Girl in sunglasses smiling, looking into backseat of car
Girl in sunglasses smiling, looking into backseat of car
Image credit: jacoblund.

Your likability is a strong factor in how well you integrate into a new environment. It influences how quickly a group of people welcomes you to become a part of it, or how quickly they consider you an outsider. The same applies when you’re dealing with just one other person. If you’re likable, people want to spend time with you. If you’re not, obviously, they don’t.

I have recently moved homes. In fact, I’ve moved to a different country. And I’ve picked up a few pointers as I’ve tried to settle in.

I have just fulfilled my life-long dream of moving back to my hometown; a coastal town on the outskirts of Bilbao, Spain. It’s a beautiful place. We have mountains, beaches, amazing food, and impressive architecture. I grew up surrounded by a big family, and friends that I cherish to this day. …


HUMOR

#1. How do you get enough protein?

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Photo by Atikh Bana on Unsplash

If nothing else, these past four years have been entertaining. Veganism is a topic that a lot of people seem to have very strong opinions about without actually knowing much about it.

It’s worth making something clear at the outset. There are three main reasons why most people become vegan.

(1) The ethical argument

(2) The environmental argument

(3) The health argument

However strongly you want to believe that we’re doing animals a favor by eating them, I’d say the ethical argument is pretty clear. The environmental argument too is pretty irrefutable — it’s almost 2021 folks.

I’ll admit that the verdict on the health argument is still out. Some experts say eating animal products is healthy; some experts say eating animal products is unhealthy. Couple this with the fact that as individuals, we react to different foods differently and have unique nutritional needs; I can’t argue that being vegan is conclusively healthy. But don’t try to convince me that it isn’t, because you can’t possibly know that. …


5 ways to beat the impostor syndrome

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Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

I talk to myself all the time. And I know that you do too. We all do. We all have an internal dialogue that sometimes makes us laugh out loud to ourselves when we’re walking along the street. It’s the same voice that sometimes keeps us up at night.

Oftentimes, that internal chatter we hear is negative. And annoyingly, that’s the one you keep replaying; the one that makes you feel guilt, shame, and insecurity.

Sometimes this negative voice can be useful. …


It might not seem like lemons, but you can still make lemonade

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Photo: Chermiti Mohamed/Unsplash

The hardest thing about going through a pandemic in your 20s is exactly that — you’re in your 20s.

You’re at an age where your ‘real’ life hasn’t really started yet. You’re just starting your career, maybe not quite sure of what you want to do. Or you want to travel, and you don’t have hopes of settling down. Maybe you want to date without commitment or hang off the edge of a Greenpeace ship if that’s what you’re vibing tomorrow.

You want to live your life while it’s just yours because your ‘life life’, the one that your future partner and your children might know you for, hasn’t kicked in yet. You want to experiment, see the world — or not, that’s the point — you just want to do whatever you want to do. …


She hid from the Nazis, we hid from a virus.

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Photo by Ilse Orsel on Unsplash

At the outset, I must clarify, that I don’t intend to compare the covid-19 pandemic to the Second World War, nor am I equating Anne Frank’s situation to lockdown. But between March and May 2020, I couldn’t help but think of her.

Whilst I was in Geneva at the time, my family was based in Spain. For two months, they were in complete lock-down; allowed to leave the house to buy groceries from the nearest store only on occasion. And a similar situation was paralleled in many parts of the world.

They were asked to put their lives on hold and stay inside; told that it would only last for two weeks. It went on for two months. For many, it was crowded and claustrophobic. For others, it was lonely and exasperating. For most, it was unproductive and overwhelming. …


Moments of hardship are unavoidable, but you can control how you experience them

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Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

There are times in life where you experience hardship. Maybe it’s an illness in the family, maybe it’s a death. Maybe it’s a global pandemic, or you’re struggling to find work.

Sadly, hardship is an unavoidable part of life. It often comes by surprise; an unforeseen circumstance that you find yourself in by accident. You think — ‘why me?’

As Edith Eger explains in her momentous memoir “There is no hierarchy of suffering”. Thousands of people all over the world are suffering the unimaginable right now. But it doesn’t make your suffering absurd in comparison. Your feelings are legitimate.

Unfortunately, many moments of hardship are unavoidable. Troublesome circumstances present themselves in waves that you just have to ride out. They’re external eventualities that you can do nothing about. …


Sometimes, you have to go far to see the closeness.

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By Fg2 — Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=215777

Ultimately, as human beings, we’re all pursuing the same thing; happiness. As Anne Frank once said:

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

Most of us lead relatively conventional lives. Sure, we’re each unique, original, and have our own background — but if you live in the western world, the way you live is probably not disruptively dissimilar to the people around you. And if the answers you’re looking for could be found from your neighbor, you would have found them by now.

Sometimes, you need to look beyond the realm of what you imagine to be possible; to communities around the world that do things completely differently from you. It’s often in these places that you’ll find the answers you’re looking for. And it may come as a surprise when you do, that the solutions to your problems are a lot simpler than you think. …


Practical tips that you can use to increase your motivation

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Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

You sit at your desk, open your laptop, and hope that perfection will flow from your fingertips. You sit there for ten, twenty, thirty minutes — it’s been half an hour and nothing. Your fingers aren’t moving today. Why aren’t they moving today? Why isn’t your brain telling them to write? Why isn’t your brain telling you anything? You can’t find the ideas; you can’t find the words.

I’ve experienced this scenario several times throughout my first month as a freelance writer.

I wanted to finally have autonomy over when I worked, how I worked, and what I worked on. I was tired of working to meet other people’s expectations. …


No one can take away from you what you put in your mind.

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Edith Eger / Photo: Sophiaonline

Edith returns to Auschwitz. More than one million people were murdered right where she’s standing. There are no words that can explain the inhumanity of that human-made death factory. As she looks around the world’s biggest cemetery, she recalls the festive sounds that played through the loudspeakers on her first day. She remembers her father waving goodbye as he joined a line of men, but she can’t recall if she waved back.

She is linking arms with her mother; her sister Magda stands on the other side. She’s slim and flat-chested. She looks small in her woolen coat. Her mother tells her “button your coat, stand tall…you’re a woman, not a child”. She understands now that there was a purpose to her nagging. …


Lessons that shed light on the opportunities that come with being unemployed.

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

We’re all living through a troubling time. You’re not alone. The rise in the number of unemployed workers due to Covid-19 is greater than the increase caused by the Great Recession. The rate of unemployment in the US in April 2020 reached 14.4%; the highest in the post-World War II era.

The economy has shrunk, and we’re yet to see how and when it will recover. Businesses have had to close their doors; some temporarily, some forever. There are fewer jobs for us to fill, and the competition is high.

What’s perhaps most frustrating, is that the current state of affairs is beyond our control. …

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