In mid-October, I was assaulted at one of Toronto's busiest subway stations by an angry, older man because his perception of my sexuality.
Apparently, his perception of me was so offensive to him, it warranted violence. So as I was hurrying to make one of the last trains home, this man punched me square in the face.
After the initial shock wore off, I composed myself in a last-ditch effort to remind myself of my worth, and I gave myself a quick pep talk to remember that there is never any justification for this kind of behavior.
I tried desperately to make sense of the ordeal, questioning whether this was merely a byproduct of the rise of a particular US presidential candidate or the result of a stranger's own insecurities disguised as hatred.
Either way, I made the conscious decision to push back against the lingering negativity, anger, confusion and hostility with love, instead.
I was not going to let him win, nor would I allow this trauma to destroy me. I vowed to fight back by becoming the best version of me that I could.
The rest of my commute home was spent compiling this list of affirmations — 10 ways to center myself and reaffirm my faith in humanity whenever it wavers:
1. Aspire to focus on the good, and always count your blessings.
When we commit to remembering how fortunate we are to have our basic needs met, or for something as simple as waking up in the morning, we are able to center ourselves, despite how dreadful our lives might have seemed just moments before.
It is humbling to take the time to appreciate the little victories, as things could always be much worse.
2. Embody the change you wish to see, not only in the world, but also in yourself.
I feel like my generation is quick to share quotes or articles without ever truly embracing their intrinsic message.
Gandhi's challenge to “be the change you want to see in the world” has almost become meaningless through its mindless dissemination among social media platforms.
Instead of merely thinking about change, I constantly urge myself to take action and ensure I leave the world a better place. And when I repeat this mantra to myself, I assert the importance of being just as worthy of self-love and care as everyone else.
3. Accept that setbacks occur and learn to utilize them as a catalyst for growth.
It's quite easy to get lost in our failures, especially in a world so centered on success.
But when we take the time to reflect on the reasons behind our failures instead of the failures themselves, we are able to grow and apply necessary changes to our lives so those failures don't happen again.
4. Prioritize the people and things that serve the greatest good.
A surefire way to embrace love is by surrounding yourself with it. Our friends and family are a reflection of ourselves, so if we want to feel love, we should surround ourselves with love.
And when we collaborate to love and to do our best, we can spread love to everything else.
5. Each day is a brand new opportunity to conquer the world and to wake up with an attitude of gratitude.
It's worth repeating that we should not let failure consume us. Every morning presents us with another chance at changing our lives for the better and becoming our optimal selves.
6. Take inventory with yourself regularly to ensure all your needs are met.
We can get so distracted with work and our routine, especially in larger urban areas, that we begin to neglect our own needs while caring for everyone else.
Surely, we've all had days where we felt hollow inside or days where we question why anything matters at all.
In these moments, it is crucial to check in with yourself. Take a second to remember what helps your spirit and what makes you happy, and then, figure out which areas are improving and which areas need the most help.
7. Silence your mind long enough to listen to your intuition.
Meditation could not be more beneficial to a culture like ours that's so centered on distractions, noise and hate.
Through quieting our minds, we have the chance to listen to our inner voice and follow our instincts, which will lead us to a calmer, more tolerant lifestyle.
8. Set out to accomplish at least one ignored task daily.
To-do lists can become miles long, and desks can quickly become cluttered with junk. But when we agree to do one menial task that would otherwise get tossed aside, we are able to ensure we stay afloat.
9. Realize health and self-care are crucial.
Unless we are feeling our best, inside and out, we cannot help others feel the same. So, when we love ourselves enough to make healthy choices, we can help others feel that same love and happiness, too.
10. Defeat the urge to be hypercritical of others, or of yourself, and focus on honesty instead.
We all slip up or give in to negative thoughts that are determined to make us feel insignificant sometimes.
However, although it's easier said than done, honest and fair assessments of ourselves and others are the best ways to encourage growth and embrace love instead of hate.
When we commit to acts of kindness and love, rather than responding to toxicity with more toxicity, then we are able to invoke change and leave the world a better place.