What has been a positive defining experience in who you are now?
Discovering my love and passion for feminism & social justice. It’s made me a more driven, caring, compassionate, and mature person, and I am really grateful for that.

What was the hardest part about what you see as the best decision(s) you’ve made?
One of my best decisions was taking a year off after a rough first year at U of T. I knew I needed it and I made that decision for myself, despite how hard it was to tell others. Telling my parents was intimidating, and they honestly didn’t even believe me at first. We all thought that U of T and the music program was what I truly wanted, and telling them it wasn’t was extremely difficult. Same went for telling my friends there; as much as I hated nearly everything about that first year, I had some great friends (new and old) that I was leaving behind.

Describe your relationship with yourself.
It’s definitely not easy. I have days where I look in the mirror and go “wow I frickin’ love myself, no one can fuck with me” and other days where I can’t look at all. I am proud of trying to be my truest self and for putting myself first, because I think that’s important, but I struggle a lot with myself, and dealing with depression and anxiety has not made that any easier. I get fed up with myself, disappointed in myself, embarrassed, and sometimes hateful, but I’m continuing to work on it.

Describe your relationship with the world.
I don’t think we know each other very well yet, but I’m working on that.

What are your strengths?
I’m a fairly honest person, or at least, I’m terrible at lying – both to myself and others.  I think I do a good job of making people feel comfortable. I can’t be swayed if I’ve made a decision that I am happy with. I can put myself first when I need to.  I’m good at organizing and planning things. I’m good at spelling!

What are your weaknesses? How have they helped you?
I’m extremely critical of myself, and I think that really gets in the way of me trying new things or doing the best I can. I also think I’m terrible at friendships – I’m not good at maintaining them, I tend to just push people away and/or shut them out. I don’t really feel like these things have helped me much, but I am aware of them and slowly attempting to better them.

What do you think it means to be kind to yourself? How does this compare to how we are kind to others?
Being kind to yourself is recognizing (if you can) what you need, and giving that to yourself. That may mean a night alone watching a TV show, taking an hour of the day to go to the gym or read a book, maybe buying yourself a latte. Just doing things that you think will make you feel better. I think being kind to others is recognizing everyone is a person and has feelings and thoughts, and giving them space to be themselves without judgment.

What is the hardest emotion for you? Why?
I’d say sadness, because while I can feel sad and I do, I won’t and will never share that with others. If I’m having a down day, few people will know it, because I don’t want them to. I’m not open with my parents about my emotions unless they’re positive, and that’s the same for nearly all of my friends. Getting into my first serious relationship has kind of forced me to and also helped me to be more openly upset or hurting, and it feels really good to be able to cry in front of my partner and have him support me.

What do you think the downfall of this generation is/will be?
Social frickin media. Like, I love it for a lot of reasons but I also think it’s so extremely dangerous. On New Year’s Day I finally deleted my Instagram account, and definitely didn’t expect how little I’d miss it. I am so glad to have those minutes and hours of my day to do more productive things than scroll through photos of people’s life highlights and feeling shitty about myself. Every time I used to post a photo I knew it wasn’t genuine, and I couldn’t deal with that fakeness, because that’s not me. Even just listening to friends pore over what time is appropriate to post, what actual photo can follow the previous, what to caption etc. in order to get likes makes me sick. This culture isn’t healthy in my eyes, and I think it can only continue to hurt our generation.

If you could change something about society, what would it be?
This is so generic, but like, fuck, we need some equality, and justice, and respect here. I really wish I could get a huge PSA out to every single person out there and really drill into their heads why we need feminism and social justice. I want a society without binaries, without oppression, without set expectations placed upon people because of a label they are given – we don’t need this! Everyone needs to be treated and viewed equally, it’s so simple, but it just isn’t happening.

What does love mean to you? Does this meaning differ when applied to yourself, is it something you’ve learned in practice or are trying to achieve through practice?
In terms of romantic love, it’s trust, it is unconditionally caring for someone, no matter what the situation is. Love is that desire to always be connected to who you love, but also supporting the person and their decisions. And feeling loved, is all that and feeling like you’re bouncing on clouds in a bright blue sky.

I’ve grown up with love from my family, and it’s all of that on a smaller scale. It doesn’t feel quite as magical, but it’s warm and it’s there for you.

In terms of love for myself, I am so opposed to the whole “you can’t be loved until you love yourself” bullshit. I don’t hate myself, but like I said, it’s not an easy relationship, and I’m still working on it. But I am so loved by my partner, and I didn’t have to do any work on my self-love to get here.

What about yourself and your life are you most proud of?
My ability to stand firmly by my beliefs and my decisions.

What are some of your aspirations/goals?
Number one and most important is to have a dog and be able to live on my own and support myself. I remind myself that truly getting out there and being a working adult won’t be all I expect, but I am really excited for that complete independence.

Career-wise, I want to work for (or run) an organization that fights for women’s rights, ideally something to do with reproductive rights and supporting women’s right to choose. I’m also keen to travel and/or move away from Ontario, and would be interested in supporting these issues in another country. So yeah, also to live somewhere that is not covered in snow 6 months of the year because S.A.D is a thing and I don’t enjoy it.

What inspires you?
Sometimes everything and sometimes nothing. Maybe some sunshine, a long drive on a bus or train, sunsets, good music, Toronto, bad-ass feminists, and books will do it, but also issues going on in the world that I don’t agree with can get me pretty fired up and wanting to do something!

What are your coping mechanisms?
If I’m ever having a hard time, I’m probably anxious. So coping with anxiety is drinking gingerale or mint tea, chewing gum, playing cards with my boyfriend, reading a book, going to the gym, blasting music while going for a walk…those are the best I’ve got for now.

What words of wisdom do you live by? What is the significance of them?
I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a phrase that I constantly reminded myself of and live(d) by, but this Marianas Trench lyric: “It’s alright if you don’t know what you need” has always served as a nice reminder.