How Do You Handle Being Called Out?

Being called out on behaviour that is deemed unacceptable is problematic
for a lot of people. Being called out doesn’t mean getting your feelings hurt
or someone pointing out something feeble. A lot of celebrities recently have
been called out for saying very problematic things that “uphold the oppression
of a marginalized group of people” (YouTube user Chescaleigh). For many of us
who say and do such things, it is a strong belief that what we say shouldn’t
concern anyone else. We believe it is our right to have freedom of speech because
the Canadian Charter of Rights
protects us. However, once a line is crossed, freedom of speech starts to
become downright insulting and offensive to a marginalized group of people,
whether it be members of a certain race, religion, gender, sexual orientation,

So how do you deal with being called out? How do you properly apologize
when someone informs you that you shouldn’t say or do what you just did? How do
you handle it when someone calls you out for using the n-word and you’re very
clearly not in any position to be using that word?

Here are a few tips to help make your apology sincere:

1. Don’t become defensive. If anything you
want to say sounds something like, “You take everything so personally,” or, “It
was just a joke,” or, “I didn’t mean it like that”—don’t even think about it.
It is just an indication that whatever else you are about to say will be just
as insincere.

2. Don’t
apologize and then try to justify your actions.
Being downright
defensive is one thing, but if you say, “I’m sorry,” and the next word you say
is, “but,” do not go there. Chances are, you aren’t really sorry for what you

3. Understand
where they’re coming from.
What they feel is valid because they’re the ones being
oppressed, not you. Ignorance is not bliss. It just means you’re very unaware
of the social structures around you.

4. Don’t take it
The oppression is enacted upon the person calling you out or on the
person you are making jokes about; calling you out is a way to teach you and
educate you—it’s not about trying to make you feel extremely guilty or a
personal attack.

5. Apologize
Tell them you’re really sorry and that you didn’t know that it wasn’t
right to say something like that.

6. Make a
commitment to change.
Say something along the lines of, “How can I help?” or,
“I won’t do it again! Thank you for informing me.”

7. Remember that
calling someone out isn’t simple.
It isn’t easy for someone to gather the courage and
confront you about the things you say that are offensive and oppressive.

8. Work on ways
to help others and be a strong ally to those facing oppression by the greater
social structures around us
. Being called out is a way to remind you and
make you more aware. It’s to help you change. What we’ve been taught is
something we all have to unlearn. It will take time, but always be a strong
ally to those around you facing oppression.

When University Goes out of Its Way to Annoy Me



Ah, the world of pet peeves. It is vast and filled with all sorts of things that tick off both you and me. From workplace annoyances to bathroom pet peeves and everything in between, another one comes to mind: university pet peeves. You know what’s ironic? The phrase “pet peeve” is a huge problem for me. It’s just one of those phrases that annoy me—ha, love it. Talking about pet peeves is all good, light, and funny until that thing actually happens and all goes to hell; then it’s all flipping tables, facepalming and repeatedly headdesking—granted none of those are actual terms (thank you, Internet world).

Here are just a few of my own—and I think pretty relatable—university pet peeves. (I am guilty of doing some of these myself, so please don’t take them personally.

1. The ‘there’s still a minute left’ professors.

You know them, the professors who start freaking out because you start packing up at 6:59. I’m sorry, I’m trying to catch a bus that leaves a minute after class ends, and you expect me to not start packing up? We don’t all have the luxury of a car and we’re all hungry and tired.

2. Aggressive commuters

Chill. We’re all in the same bus. Literally. There’s no need to shove anyone aside when they’re clearly ahead of you. I don’t mind sometimes but it’s downright disrespectful when there’s someone elderly waiting to go in and yet you persistently push through. It’s 8 a.m., no one wants to be here, and everyone has a lecture to go to. Common courtesy never hurt anyone, friend. Here’s a cupcake.

3. Thanks for the notice!

When you catch a 9 a.m. bus, run to IB, and hurry to land a seat in the lecture hall, only to find out that your lecture is cancelled and your next class is at 3 p.m. Thanks for posting the notice literally five minutes before class.

4. Long Tim Hortons lines.

Need I say more? When there’s only one accessible Tim Hortons on campus and everyone decides to get coffee, it is not pretty.

5. People talking in the quiet zones.

These people want to fight me. It’s a quiet zone for a reason. There’s no hidden meaning. Quiet doesn’t actually mean “as loud as you can possibly whisper”.

6. The link from CCT to the Library

Seems like turtles escaped from the ocean and are now socializing in the link between both locations. Please, continue talking to your friend while walking so that there isn’t a huge line of people glaring at you. Then you get mad at people for bumping into you—most of us are looking down while walking or too busy rushing to class to pay attention to people who stop midway and throw us off.

7. Copy/paste book to PowerPoint.

The professors who take the book and literally paste it word-for-word onto a PowerPoint and then read the PowerPoint word-for-word in class for two hours in the most monotonous voice possible. I want to understand things, not have them read to me again just so I don’t understand them again.

8. Then there are…

Two types of people: people who refuse to give you their notes if you don’t give them something back, and people who don’t bother showing up to any lecture without any legitimate reason and then ask for every single lecture handed to them in the form of electronic notes.

First group of people: I missed one lecture. It will not hurt you, I promise, to share your notes with me. We may be vying for the same grade but I won’t ruin you if you give me your notes for one lecture. In fact, I’ll be more than happy to help you later on in the course!

Second group of people: you don’t show up to any lecture at all (mind you, you paid for them) and then when there’s a midterm coming up, you email everyone asking for all their notes. I’m sorry to break it to you, but that’s really presumptuous of you. No one is going to just hand over all their semester’s hard work to you when you didn’t even want to show up to class. Please try to be more mindful of others and recognize how demanding that is.

So there we go! These are just some things that annoy me about university. Comment down below on what annoys you the most!

Driftwood Friendships



When we’re five, six, eight years old, our friendships don’t have many criteria. You like playing with the same toys as I do and love colouring outside the lines? Great! Bestest friends forever. As young tiny children, we collected friends like candy. We had lunch with them during our break time, we played with them during playground time, and we exchanged juice boxes when we didn’t like what our mother had packed for us. Friendship as kids had an aura of innocence around it—long-lasting relationships with no end in sight. You grew up with the same people through elementary, middle, and high school. In middle school, you started developing personalities but your group of friends had become so familiar to you, there was no need to find new ones. You shared new secrets with them and had lots of sleepovers and just as much laughter. But then high school came along and things started changing; your relationships with your friends started wading through deep waters and into this weird realm between friendship and acquaintances.

There are so many reasons why friends just drift apart no matter how strong they think their bond is. One is that personalities really start to show themselves and you begin to realize that the group of friends you had since second grade have almost nothing in common with you. But you can’t just leave them behind. After all, they know everything there is to know about you and they never left you behind for anything. It would be so hard to find a new group of friends who accept all your weird and quirky habits as they do, so you stay, but then things get quiet because you find less and less to talk about and the only thing you have in common is that math homework. You stay because you’re comfortable and they’re familiar. But friendships also fade away because of distance. People say long-distance relationships are hard, but who said they’re only talking about romantic relationships? Platonic relationships can be just as hard to maintain. Your schedules no longer match, you’re in completely different time zones, and finding time to fit in Skype becomes a struggle you don’t want to face anymore. It starts with Skype every week, to Skype once a month, to Skype when you have time, until occasionally catching up on WhatsApp becomes regular.

But then there are those friendships that are like a whole piece of driftwood that broke in half for no reason other than it happened—friendships where two people are joined at the hip and for no other reason than life or fate, they break apart and float in separate directions. It’s very likely that this is on the list of “some of the worst tragedies that have happened to people” because there is just no explanation for why it happened. Sometimes people come into your life just to leave you and you come into their life just to leave them so soon. These are the ones with lasting impacts—the ones that drift apart so slowly you could swear there wasn’t an exact moment when everything changed.

If you have a friendship that is worth a thousand moons, hold onto it like the world holds onto gravity because both don’t exist without the other.

What Does Mental Health Mean to You?



Mental illnesses come in all shapes and forms, from the anxiety monster troubling your brain before an exam to a complex chemical imbalance that goes by the name depression. It’s true that the stigma associated with mental disorders is slowly being eradicated, but so much of society still views mental disorders as something within our control or something logical and easy to solve. So much of society sweeps mental illnesses under the rug labeled “crazy” and so much of it has been buried with the phrase, “you’re just overreacting”. What people don’t realize is that the more you repress a disease without treating it, the stronger it will come back.

Being in the academic system for quite a while, anxiety has become second nature not only for myself but also for so many of you. Being told you’re a great student all your life, only to end up procrastinating due to being a perfectionist who is afraid of failing and getting average grades, really internally frustrates you to the point where you’re hardly making it. I know how hard it has been for me in the past year moving to Canada from a completely different education system. Not only was I in my last year of high school, but I was applying to universities too, which meant I had to adjust in this foreign system, make no mistakes, and continue my streak of grades good enough to get into the top universities here—the pressure was unforgivable. Having three panic attacks in the span of a few months took a toll on my mental health—I couldn’t get out of bed to study, I was depressed beyond understanding, every day ended in tears and the next day went by slower than the last… In the end however, you begin to latch onto the smallest of positive outcomes, no matter how insignificant it may seem to others.

In Canada, suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds, which is unfortunately a pretty big number. The reason for this ranges from suppressing internal struggles due to societal pressure to bullying, harassment, academic pressure, etc.

Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety are just a few of the diseases that plague so many of us today. The worst feeling comes with not knowing why you’re feeling hopeless or upset or hollow; it comes with time passing so slowly coupled with your movements being twice as lethargic and lagged. But all people want to know is why? If we all had the answer to that, we would be well on our way, as far from disorders as possible; however, it is not socially acceptable to lie in bed all day because you cannot find any strength in you to push yourself out of bed. It is not socially acceptable to hand in a paper late and not lose 5% because your fingers couldn’t understand your brain. You must mask your symptoms in order to function in the outside world.

The treatment for mental health needs to become better than what is feebly offered to us right now. Research into mental health problems should be just as rigorous as research for cancer—it should be given its due diligence. A balance needs to be constructed between being told you’re overthinking your own illness and having it glorified to the point that all everyone is interested in is being your saviour. It is not a problem to be solved overnight—I am still learning how to not let it control me. It requires patience and understanding from those who are willing to stay and help.