by jesssmithwriting

I am 1 in 7 billion people. I am a fraction of a fraction of the universe. Yet I still manage to convince myself that I am fully aware of my world. As of this week, I don’t have much of a clue as to where my life is headed. 

I came to Vancouver not liking the person I was. I was angry and bitter. I felt like a lost cause and was far off from reaching my potential. But I was dedicated to change that. I would pursue my artistic goals, play gigs, write. I would “make it.” So I packed my bags and hit the road. 

When I arrived, I cleansed my soul of reminant negativity from the previous chapter. I learned about food and nutrition, started going to the gym 5 days a week, doing yoga, taking martial arts classes, doing meditation, running, biking, swimming, learning to spend time in nature. I kept writing, everyday. I wrote music, practiced guitar and piano. I learned to cope with pain without drugs or alcohol. I learned to cope with pain without people. I was alone and that is how I wanted to be. I wanted to prove to myself I could stand on my own 2 feet and deal with what needed to be dealt with. I wanted to be alone and learn to love it. Free from all outside influence. I would develop the being I wanted to become. And once I created her, I would learn to love her. 

What I did not know was the level of dedication and self-control this would require. It also did not help that as a single 23 year old female, I moved into low-income housing on the downtown east side of the city. My naivety and lack of dolla dolla bills put me in an interesting spot, to say the least. But I would not back down…Also some naivety there.

What I’ve come to learn is that I don’t know everything. And what I do “know” is a type of illusion I’ve built off of my life experiences, circumstances, personality traits, etc. But, that same naivety is a beautiful illusory tool which allows us to push forward, when we otherwise may not have. 

There are an inconceivable amount of factors that build our “reality” but what we sometimes forget is that our reality is a type of illusion. We like to use terms like “reality” and “life” and “world” and “universe”,” as though we are 100% sure of what is occurring in these places. But unfortunately we forget that every single human experiences “reality” “life” “the world” differently. So how real can “reality” be, if it is a thing at all? And if it were a thing, how much of it can we as individuals determine and create? And how much of life just “happens to us”? 
When I moved to Vancouver and began learning about “positive thinking” and “manifestation.” I was thirsting for something that could shift the downward spiral I was headed on in Edmonton. These buzz words are where I began changing my “inner world/reality.” I dedicated myself to self-awareness and physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. I would master myself. 

Now, through this self-mastery (which btw is a never-ending process, before anyone tries to pin me for being an egotistical prick). Through my dedication to mental, physical and spiritual practices I did gain a fair amount of inner control and inner peace. But what they fail to mention in these teachings is that no matter how much control, peace and discipline exists on the inside, there is still an outside world. An outside world which we cannot control. It does not matter how much positive thinking you do about that job, how many resumes you send out or interviews you go to. Ultimately if the industry is scarce and that manager doesn’t like you, you aren’t getting the job. But I couldn’t accept this. I thought I was doing something wrong. So I kept grinding. Interviews, jobs, new apartments, new techniques for coping with the stress from consistently getting no response from employers, other musicians, acquaintances who I hoped would be friends. I worked and grinded, worked and grinded. Until I grinded myself down to a pulp.

Being in this self-manifesting, superhuman-building scene, I forgot that I am human. I forgot that sometimes there simply are factors beyond my control. And no matter how hard I work, how much I dedicate myself, sometimes things just don’t turn out the way we had hoped (or “visualized”..if you will LOLLL). 

I also found that while learning about manifesting my desires, I failed to consider that I may not know exactly what I NEED. Sure, I have desires but they shift daily. Needs, needs do not shift daily. They stay. And they hold on for dear life until they are met. Our soul feels the need, but our minds don’t necessarily conceive them at the same time. 

We as humans, have a tendency to be mind-based, intellectual know-it-alls. We boast our intelligence constantly. Quietly, but constantly. We lose sight of the fact that our individual intelligence is a fraction of the universal intelligence which exists. We are a mere fleck of dust in a vast expanse. A fleck of dust with subjective experiences, trials, and opinions. Furthermore, we fail to remember that our intelligence, our “knowing” is merely insignificant. (Translated: We don’t know everything. And no one, or few people at best, give a fuck about what we do know.) The small amount we potentially “know,” we blow it up in our heads, make it our world. Because we don’t know how to respond if we aren’t completely aware of everything going on around us, at all times. What can we make of our world and lives if we admit the human defeat of not being aware of all that much? 

But, this tiny amount we may “know”, even for a brief moment in time is what keeps us going. Our illusions keep us moving forward, when we may have otherwise given up. Naiveity creates just enough positivity to keep us from drowning ourselves in the nearest body of water. Which, frighteningly enough for me, is only a block away. And while this may sound heavy, as suicide references generally do, I have found a gentle calm within myself since accepting that I don’t know it all. Since accepting that, in the grand scheme of things, I know very little. 

As I near my 25th birthday, I am taking time to reflect on my life. My aspirations, dreams and above all my expectations. My ideas of the way I thought things would be. I remember thinking I would be engaged by 25, so I would still have time to make lurrrrve to my sexy-ass husband for at least 5 years before being interrupted by the cries and screams of our children. I would start having children by 30, just in time before my eggs dried up. My career would be settled, I would have full-time income from my art. I would be living in Vancouver, and would have adopted the free-spirited life of the West Coast as my own. Instead, here I am, 2 weeks away from being the big 2-5, working 4 jobs, moving to Calgary and single (like suuuper single..not dating..or having sex. God help me. And my vagina.) This is not even a fraction of what I had imagined. But this is what is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. 

When I was 14 years old and my parents took me to Tofino, I told them “one day I’ll move here.” I was so attracted to the “free” lifestyle. I was 14 and a misfit in my rural hometown of 500 people. I wanted to be weird, let my freak flag fly! But I felt constricted by my environment. Going to BC opened my eyes to something greater than what I had known. When we lack something in our own lives, we build desires. And when we experience something that fulfills that desire (lack), even for a brief moment, like my trip to Tofino 10 years ago, we assume that “place”, that “person”, that “thing” is what we need. We put it on a pedestal. When we come from a place of lack we don’t see things for the way the are, we see them for what we want them to be. 

When I was 14 I did not know that the place I wanted to move to was one of the most expensive cities in the world. I did not know that I would only be able to afford living in a low income housing situation or split a 1 bedroom apartment with a dude who would end up having a fucking creepy crush on me. I did not know that despite having 5 years serving experience I would be turned away from 20 different restaurants. I did not know that despite being a kind, fun, funky fresh chick, making solid, reliable friends would be an absolute bitch of a thing. And what I did not know and most recently learned is: You can lay all your cards out, do everything in your power to succeed, be the best version of yourself but sometimes things don’t flow the way you imagined. And that’s ok. 

I am beginning to see what they mean when they say “come from Love, not from fear.” It is not just to be applied towards human relationships, it is to be applied to all things and above all to ourselves. I was afraid of the person I was, the little child-hippie who used to light twigs on fire just enough so they would lightly burn and I could pretend the smoke was magic coming from my wand. The chick who wore hilarious clothing and died her hair all colours before it was #trending. The person who believes in magic, who believes in living free, who feels like the ocean “gets her.” I was afraid of her, because my outside environment was contradicting those parts of my being. So I found Vancouver and moved there to “be” her. And I did. I was her and I was her fully! And I learned to love her. I learned to love myself. 

So, in the moments I look back and my ego and fear try to convince me I failed, I remind myself that maybe my ego and fear didn’t know why I came here in the first place. Maybe it was not to “make it.” Maybe it was not to be an ocean-worshipping-sun-goddess-hippie chick. Maybe I came here to learn to love myself and to learn that self-love expands far beyond any city or physical environment. Maybe I came here to get something that can be taken with me wherever I go. Maybe I came here to learn that while I may know what I want, I may not know what I need. And that my soul will take me to the ends of the earth until it gets what it needs. And maybe once it gets it, it will lead me right back home. 

XO Jess

This is dedicated to my parents and brother. Marianne, Amie and Madi. Home is where you are. Thank you for answering all of my phone calls. See ya soon playas.