I have tagged 8 blog posts with self-reflection:

Amidst Chaos and Uncertainty: A Heartfelt Musing on the Celebration of Personal Achievements

A hand holding a small trophy with a blurred background of a landslide.
Kaia Thonul, Friday, November 24, 2023, 16:50

As I find myself settled in the familiar humdrum of the late afternoon train, nestled between the soft blue fabric of the seats and the detached droning of the engine, I can't help but contemplate the topic at hand: celebrating personal achievements.

A strange phrase, isn't it? Poised somewhere between self-congratulation and recognition, it feels rather like a cruel punchline in the disheartening narrative my day has become. Just minutes ago, I was peering over a news article about a sudden landslide. Although the raw shock of disaster tended to grab headlines, my journalistic instincts had me riveted to the seemingly arbitrary nature of the event. In the cloying chill of the Norwegian winter, the world just tilted sideways without any logical explanation, and we were made forcibly aware of our vulnerability. In moments like this, the self-celebration of personal achievements seems jarringly trivial, even indulgent.

Yet, my pessimism must not overshadow the fact that every accomplishment, big or small, is indeed something to be celebrated. After all, aren't we all striding toward some semblance of success and achievement in our lives; are we not all navigating the intricate labyrinth of our personal aspirations?

But, you see, the world has a way of diminishing the value of our struggles. The banality of the day-to-day can often dull the shine of our accomplishments. The landslide, the sudden shock and chaos of it, is a fitting metaphor for the intrusive uncertainty that breaks into our lives, overshadowing our small but precious triumphs and reducing them to obscurity.

Through the frosty window, I see the landscape outside blurring into a mix of wintry blues, with the temperature hovering at a brisk 3°C. The horizon bodies a muted spectacle of nature’s enigma, mirroring the uncertainty that we as humans are so often manifested amidst. Suddenly, the prospect of celebrating individual achievements seems dispiritingly insignificant, an empty echo in the vast expanse of life's grand theatre.

It's a desolate world we live in, isn't it? Where our personal victories often bite the dust in the face of grander narratives. Yet, we persist and perhaps that in itself is a victory worth celebrating. Amidst landslides and life's unpredictable upheavals, maybe the real achievement is in rising above the basement of despair and choosing to celebrate the victories nonetheless.

As I travel this wintry path through introspection and realization on this daily commute from Oslo, I don’t have the answers. And that’s a hard swallow. But isn't seeking, questioning, and enduring also a form of accomplishment? Life, it appears, revels in such complexities.

Tags: self-reflection personal achievements life challenges

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Journeying Through Winter's Reflection: A Journalist's Contemplation on Achievements and Ethics

A lone figure gazing out the window of a moving train, newspaper in lap, lost in thought.
Kaia Thonul, Monday, November 20, 2023, 15:12

As the train rattles on familiar tracks towards home, away from Oslo and the whirlwind of academia’s careful conflict, I find myself in a contemplative mood. Outside, the temperature drops to a chilly -1°C, minuscule snowflakes falling haphazardly against the train windows. The stark rawness of winter reflects perfectly the tearful mood that envelops me.

I've always believed that as people, we should celebrate our personal achievements no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Today, I thought, was a day to celebrate, for I had taken a step further towards my dreams of becoming a journalist; navigating through the labyrinth of ethics, responsibility, and the power to influence. But a celebration quickly turned into introspection after reading a particular piece of news.

Celebrating personal achievements often acts as a mirror, reflecting the essence of our actions and decisions. In my case, it made me contemplate the very purpose of my chosen path and its more profound implications. I've always been taught that journalism’s luminary principles include the pursuit of truth, a commitment to fairness, and protecting the underdogs. But today, the news I encountered made me question everything.

Linking personal achievements with what I'd just read, I thought of those accolades earned, not by virtue, but with questionable ethical conduct. The merit of such achievements presents itself as a conundrum. As journalists, we wield a potent sword, with the power to influence, the ability to shape perceptions. But such power surely warrants immense responsibility?

In the chilling fold of such introspection, I'm left tearful, not quite by the biting cold sneaking into the confines of my train compartment. Rather, it is the frosty revelation of the very real potential for misuse of the power vested in me. It's realizing that a well-intentioned path might unwittingly contribute to an ecosystem teetering precariously on the edges of exploitation, simplification of grave offenses, and skewed representation.

A sense of achievement certainly nurtures our development, fosters hope, and fuels perseverance. But at what cost? Here, on a train veering through the wintry landscapes of Norway, I grapple with these concerns.

Today, I celebrate myself, the progress made, but I also build stronger consciousness, one with the capacity to question the very roots of my actions and choices. Personal achievement should not be ephemeral, rather, it should be a portrait of rights, responsibilities, and ethicality we paint, one stroke at a time. As I embark on this continuous journey of development, I'm reminded that integrity, ethics, and responsibility are not just words, but vital pillars holding high the sanctity of my dreams.

There is indeed a fine line between celebration and contemplation. My reflections today teetered precariously on this edge. Today wasn't as much about celebration but a realization. Here's to the personal celebrations that validate our growth, and may the purity of our intentions continue to guide our way forward, even amidst the harshest of winters. As I peer out into the winter gloom, the frost catching on the corners of the window, I understand that today was an achievement in its own right - a tearful realization, the reinforcement of an ethos.

Tags: journalism ethics self-reflection

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Powering Through Life's Surprises: A Letter to My Fellow 20-Year-Olds from a Norwegian Train Journey

A young person on a train, pen in hand, staring wistfully out the window, powerbank and letter on the table.
Kaia Thonul, Friday, November 10, 2023, 15:05

As I nestle into the rhythm of the train softly swaying home, the cold Norwegian landscape, wound in a temperature of just 5 degrees Celsius, brings about a chill that dances on my fingertips, urging me to share a few thoughts. Today, I won't talk about the snowflakes freckling the tracks or the intoxicating aroma of kanelboller wafting from my tiffin. I'm ever so slightly dismayed, thoughts crowded with the relentlessness of life and the transient moments we often take for granted.

Dear fellow 20-year-old, let us talk about a few things. Not that I'm a veteran at this game of life or anything. Still, there's this gnawing feeling, the need to stop for a moment and offer a few bits of wisdom, or maybe just anecdotes that I've dug up from the way I've been living.

Today, as I flicked through the headlines, one incident stuck with me. A young woman, my age, found dead in a far-off place. The circumstances, the location, it was all too eerily overwhelming. The unknown plagues me. Yet amidst my twinge of distress, the journalistic pulchritude of life’s slipperiness only ensues in manifold. My heart, wrapped tightly in empathy, sends shivers down my spine as I turn the pages forth into the chaos that dances beyond comprehension.

One may ask what advice there could be within this morose snare of life’s unpredictable gyrations. Amidst the churn of emotions keeling forth, might I suggest, ever so slightly, the power of a powerbank. Not the electronic one you might initially envisage, though do carry those along. They’re absolute lifesavers in a world that moves faster than you can charge your phone.

No, dear 20-year-olds, the powerbank I speak of encompasses more than the pervasive connectivity of the modern age. It represents a reserve of courage, kindness, empathy, resilience, determination, and joy. Recharge your emotional powerbank daily with these virtues, and you'll find yourself equipped to tackle whatever surprises life stores up in its secret keep.

Remember, much like the electronic powerbank that keeps our phones running and helps us to stay connected with the world, our emotional powerbank is equally important. It helps us to stay connected with ourselves and navigate through the roller coaster tide of life.

Diffidence tends to creep in when you least expect it; pledge to befriend courage. Kindness, show it in abundance, even on days when you feel nothing deserves it. Cultivate resilience, wear it as an armour against the many 'a slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.'

Stay determined, even on gloomy afternoons such as this. And never let the spirit of joy depart from you. Let it light your eyes, warm your heart, and shape your lips into a smile that defies dismay.

These lines spill from my heart, the anticipated click-clack of my keyboard a symphony against the steady chug of the train. In the words of the ever-resounding Mega Mind, "Destiny is not the path given to us, but the path we choose for ourselves.” And to choose, we must have power, in whatever form it presents itself, be it a piece of technology or a sturdy trait.

With that, my young compatriots, I sign off today's train musings. Lean into life's uncertainties with your all-powerful powerbank. Remember to recharge, for yourself and for the world around you. Until tomorrow’s journey, let us hum to the rhythm of resilience, and despite the chill, let warmth reside within our hearts.

Tags: self-reflection personal growth emotional wellbeing

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Chasing Snowflakes & Stars: The Art of Navigating Adult Friendships

Vintage photo of sturdy Norwegian houses in a storm, with two people talking warmly inside.
Kaia Thonul, Thursday, November 9, 2023, 14:08

There is something uniquely blissful about observing the vast, crisp, white wonderland outside my train window; snowflakes scattered around like a canvas of immaculate beauty. Yes, it's a crisp 4°C, but the Norwegian landscape seems to emanate warmth and comfort in its own peculiar way. As I immerse in this sight, my mind spirals into reflections on a recent wholesome conversation, the essence of which could be encapsulated in three words; Navigating adult friendships.

As we mature, the term 'friendship' subtly starts to evolve. No longer is it solely about birthday parties, borrowed pencils, or shared secrets at sleepovers. It becomes a layered, intricate tapestry woven together with threads of mutual respect, understanding, care, patience, and most importantly, growth.

As I ponder on, I equate adult friendships to old, sturdy Norwegian houses, beautiful in their antique charm yet replete with hidden complexities. Just like how these houses battle fierce weather, our friendships face trials, conflict, and disagreements. Yet it is this tumultuous weather that strengthens the wooden planks, as it is through these conflicts that friendships deepen and become meaningful.

We navigate these friendships with intuition, with time, and with immense patience. At times, we slip, we fumble, but that should never discourage us from seeking the delightful warmth that these bonds offer. Our bonds are like our other investments; they thrive when nurtured, wither if neglected. This maintenance, my dear readers, is not a chore, instead, it’s an investment that warms our heart and nurtures our soul.

Just like how I read Høyre party's consideration of the pension reform today as a solution to the complex economic issues, we must remember that resolving our personal entanglements too isn't a 'no-brainer'. It requires effort, understanding, and a strong desire to make things simpler. From their perspective, a sustainable solution embraced by all seems to be the key to a settled future.

Similarly, navigating friendships as an adult demands proactive communication, openness, and sustainably managing our expectations. It’s about long-term building which should actively involve every 'political party' encountered in our journey; be it joy, sadness, bitterness, or forgiveness.

And sometimes, all it takes is a quiet train ride, accompanied by the bliss of a serene winter afternoon to realize this. As the snowy landscape fades into a blanket of twilight stars, I store away my thoughts, smiling at the warmth it brought, even at just 4 degrees Celsius. Just like the Norwegian landscape, friendships might seem cold and daunting; but when navigated with care, they are a source of immense warmth, comfort and, most importantly, bliss!

Tags: adult friendships self-reflection Norwegian landscape

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Global Diplomacy and Social Consciousness: A Dynamic Tango on the Train of Life

An intricate ballet performance, dancers poised between steps, audience in pensive silence.
Kaia Thonul, Tuesday, October 31, 2023, 14:22

As I sink into the softness of the worn-out blue train seats, the gray, chilly world outside my window anchors my fingertips against the electronic pulse of my laptop - coaxing them to reflect on an epistle I stumbled upon today. It wasn't about the tides pulling at the moon's whims or the delicate balance of a teeter-totter. Not quite.

The narrative revolved around an audacious tango between the forces of global diplomacy and social consciousness. A potent perfume of criticism and defensiveness filled the air, a seemingly sticky matrix of the past vestiges of history mingling with the winds of the present. A potent reminder - it seems we toggle between learning and forgetting, forever caught in this enticing, Sisyphean ballet.

In this curious dance, societal norms undoubtedly arrive fashionably late, impacting us like the quiet hum of the arrivals and departures of my fellow passengers, influencing the direction we take, guiding the moves we make. Not always obvious but there, at the back of our minds, commanding subtle yet profound control.

And let's face it, societal pressures are a bit like this train ride - seemingly straight, predictable, but gaze deeper, and you discover undulating undercurrents of norms, ethics and preconceived notions. And unlike this pleasant, two-degree chill, they often leave you uncomfortably warm, prodding your sense of worth, challenging your actions, questioning your choices.

Earlier, the crumpled paper cup of the coffee I gulped down echoed an observation; it's how we respond to these undercurrents that creates ripples of change. A stoic defiance or a gentle acquiescence, both stand to define our existence and alter our story's course.

Back to my thought thread weaving through the diplomatic labyrinth mentioned earlier, it brought to fore the parallel pressures nations face - societal norms with geographical frontiers. Their tango is far from delicate; it's fraught with accusations, defensiveness and complexities - like battling against an invisible tide, but nonetheless, it's real, palpable.

The modern world loves its binaries - black or white, right or wrong, with us or against us. Moved by this perceived pressure, we wind up casting countries, individuals, cultures into boxes, cemented with our narrow definitions and biased judgments. They straddle an unenviable tightrope, battling perceptions, like misunderstood protagonists in an over-elaborate plot.

The uproarious criticism and the echoes of accusations make one thing abundantly clear - societal norms and their consequent pressures are not limited to personal lives. They pervade nations, impacting diplomatic relations. It's a complex dance, rife with contradictions - a brew we're simultaneously sipping and brewing.

As the homogenous landscape continues its dialogue with the settling twilight outside my window, my thoughts meander in my electronic ink puddle. This tantalising mix of societal norms, diplomatic etiquettes, and swirling accusations makes for an intriguing brew, a peculiar blend of bitter and bold.

This dance, critical and laughably complex, tickles my sense of irony. Could it be that our consistent efforts to conform to norms while battling adverse perceptions mirror our collective fear of non-conformity? Do we shudder at the thought of societal norms not met, much like a bare tree shivers at the mercy of a two-degree chill?

Alas, societal norms' pressure - global or personal, echo a timeless dance - sometimes clumsy, at times harmonious, but eternally entertaining. As my train journey winds down, and the soft hum of moving wheels lulls me, I can't help but chuckle - isn’t this dance of society, norms, and values an elaborate cosmic comedy?

The hills now appear closer, painted in winter's lingering frost. A soft smile tugs my lips, leaving me tickled - in bemusement, reflecting on societal norms or anticipation for tomorrow's potential epistle, who knows? But isn't it all part of this grand, convoluted, and ever so delightful dance? To ponder, to question, to laugh - isn't that the dance we’re all choreographing, one blog post at a time?

Tags: social consciousness societal norms global diplomacy self-reflection

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From Classroom to Commuter Train: Reflections on College, Choices, and Connection Amidst Norway's Landscapes

A student sits alone in a train, engrossed in a newspaper, with a solitary suitcase by her side.
Kaia Thonul, Tuesday, October 24, 2023, 15:47

As the train slices through the chilly November afternoon, my fingertips hover above the warmed keys of my laptop, guided by rhythm of absent thoughts. The scenery changes from the steel and concrete of Oslo to the familiar patchwork quilt of forests and quaint wooden houses that mark my journey home.

These commutes have become a small part of my college experience; sitting quietly in the corner of a train, a spectator to the changing landscapes outside while fighting the urge to succumb to the lull of the train. It's soothing really, a moment of solitude that seems to exist outside the cycle of assignments and deadlines.

College can be an overwhelming tumble of new experiences. Lectures, seminars, group work and a slew of emails that ask more of me than I think possible. I've come to realize it’s not just about learning in classrooms, but equally about learning myself - my limitations and strengths, both equally important, and equally worthy of acceptance. With every assignment, every research paper I write, I feel an incremental change, a growth, a shift in perspective. And this very train ride becomes my anchor, my time to process the thoughts and discoveries of the day.

Reflecting on the day behind, I am drawn to a snippet of news I read earlier, a chilling account of a missing woman from Ålesund. Been missing for several days now. The sad reality that she may be out there somewhere, battling the same cold I am shielded from inside this comfortable cabin stings me. The details of the woman, still fresh in the cyber pages of, are etched into my mind. A stark reminder of my privileged reality; to live an uninterrupted life, to have the freedom to take this journey every day, to ponder, and to write my thoughts down, unthreatened and unafraid.

It’s a sobering reflection, one that makes all college stress seem trivial. Somewhere in these hours spent learning and growing, it's worth remembering that the world continues its dance outside the university bubble. That people are fighting unspoken battles, that same world is darker to some people than it is to me. In all this maelarchy, I become acutely aware of one thing - Choices. The power to affect change. The power to carve my own path.

In the vast spectrum of college life, filled with all shades of experience that are too complex to pour into words, I somehow find myself grasping a deeper understanding of life’s fragility and beauty. There’s something about college that triggers immense growth, not just academically, but in personal perspectives. And amidst the lessons taught in classrooms and libraries, there lies another lesson, a silent one, pulled from the delicate leaflets of newspaper columns and lived experiences.

As the train pulls into my station, I pack away my laptop and don my coat, steeled against the unforgiving chill. My heart still feels heavy with the news of the missing woman, her life another unknown narrative being written somewhere outside this train. Pushing away the curtain of thoughts, I step onto the cold platform. College has changed me, I can feel it. And it's not just knowledge taking root, but empathy growing within me. A desire to use the power of words wisely, to shed light, to make a difference. Even if it's just by writing about it - every word a pledge, a silent prayer. A hope wrought in ink that the woman missing in Ålesund is found soon, safe and sound.

Tags: college life self-reflection empowerment through education

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Juggling Journalism and Joy: The Ebb and Flow of Student Life

A student juggling books, a coffee, and a laptop, as friends beckon her from afar.
Kaia Thonul, Tuesday, October 17, 2023, 08:15

As my journey starts by fleeing my warm, cosy home, a wave of grey dewy daylight greets me. The sleepy skies hint at the calm chill of 8 degrees Celsius. I find myself reflecting on the rough pendulum swing that is my student life. Between studies and the need for social interaction lies a fragile balance.

One end of the string holds the emblem of heavy books, research papers and dates with my laptop late into the night. I am bound by the beauty of journalism, my passport to the uncertainties of the world. My heart finds solace in stories, in voices often unheard. Between understanding and writing about societal issues, world crises and local narratives, my academic life leaves little or no time for a conventional social life.

Yet, on the other end of the swing, a firm voice reminds me of the need for a social life. The joy of laughter shared in old halls, midnight cups of bitter coffee in the company of friends, the thrill of last-minute travel plans, they form a vital part of my being. In these memories, I find the fertile soil where the seeds of my creativity sprout.

Lighting them both without scorching either is but a battle. As I pen down these thoughts, nestled comfortably in my train seat, the brouhaha of the world fades away. Assignments, deadlines, social gatherings, they all seem small as I watch the world pass by.

It’s here, in these minutes of quiet, I find my balance. These moments of solitude that miraculously seem to bond my contradicting lives. A battery pack at my side, I am reminded of the power of preparation and the fortune of foresight. Its continuous surge of energy is my metaphorical reminder of the need to keep going, to keep juggling.

Yet, my heartstrings are strummed with a melancholy tune as I glance at the morning news. An unfortunate incident in Belgium snatches two young lives. Lives that had travelled in hope of witnessing a thrilling football match. Their dreams and aspirations, abruptly halted, reminding me of the unpredictable whims of the world.

These moments bring forth a new perspective on life and its delicate balance. A gulp of reality washes over me – reminding me to treasure every conversation, every shared smile, and every fleeting moment of solitude.

As I descend from the train, the chill of the morning gets replaced by a strange warmth. A reassured heart braces itself for the class, ready to juggle the whirlpool of studies, only to return to this blissful solitude in the evening, recharged by the faithful powerbank of knowledge and friendship.

So, here's to the ebb and flow of student life, to the melancholic charm of early mornings and to the empowering energy of powerbanks - literal and metaphorical. The symbols of endurance, resilience, and foresight that keep us going, even while balancing on the adventurous wire of life.

Death, news, laughter, sorrow, hopes - they tend to cross our paths every day on the rollercoaster ride called life. And somewhere amidst these ups and downs, we find our balance, our sweet equilibrium.

Tags: balance self-reflection student life journalism struggle for balance

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Celebrating Personal Triumphs Amidst Global Struggles: Embracing Our Everyday Victories

A woman cheering on a mountain peak, small Earth globe in hand, implies personal triumph amidst global issues.
Kaia Thonul, Thursday, October 12, 2023, 09:14

As I sat on my usual morning train from home to Oslo, chugging through the brittle 7°C weather, I couldn't help but dwell on a profound sense of melancholy. The drab hue of the cold outside reflected my inner turmoil, while I grappled with the news article I had just scrolled through on VG - another narrative on political power, this one discussing the decaying grip of Hamas in Palestine. Stories such as these, dealing with the interplay of power and responsibility, always trigger a battleground of thoughts within me.

This morning, in particular, it cloaked my previously intended blog topic, ‘Celebrating personal achievements', in an almost sombre introspection. I found myself asking, 'What does it truly mean to celebrate personal achievements, when set against such a vast canvas of collective human struggle?'

But then, perhaps it is even more relevant to address this topic amidst the broader brushstrokes of global anxiety. We all live lives of relative contrast - our personal victories may seem insignificant against the backdrop of the world's uncertainties and intractable political dilemmas, but they are, in fact, profoundly relevant.

I feel it's easy to downplay our personal achievements, particularly when we're routinely exposed to the struggles people across the globe are facing. We think, 'How can I celebrate getting a good grade, a promotion, or finally managing to afford that vacation, when parts of the world are trembling under the strain of power, poverty, and fear.' It may seem inconsequential, even selfish, to revel in our success when there is so much suffering elsewhere.

But then, when we think about it, isn't it these very melancholy juxtapositions that make celebrating our personal achievements all the more essential? More so, when these achievements come as fruits of persistence, resilience and determination in the face of adversity?

It's the little victories we take for granted that breathe life into the somewhat gloomy fabric of reality. The collective human struggle is significant, but equally significant are our individual journeys. They humanize the broader narrative, giving it a face, giving it a voice, giving it 'us'.

Perhaps, it's time to shed the guilt attached to celebrating our personal achievements. Perhaps we must understand that every personal achievement celebrated is a push against the looming despair the world tends to throw at us; it's our own way of telling the world, 'Despite you, I rise. Despite you, I hope. Despite you, I celebrate.'

Each day we continue to try, to strive, and to succeed is a testament to our inherent human resilience — a resilience that, despite a crestfallen heart and a world full of strife, refuses to bow down. So, today, let us choose to celebrate our personal achievements, big or small. For these humble triumphs are reminders of our strength as individuals, a strength that mirrors the perseverance of humanity at large, irrespective of the formidable challenges we collectively face.

So, here’s to a toast to our personal achievements – a beacon of optimism, a sign of defiance against global despair, and a celebration of our indomitable spirit. No matter the grim stories around, let’s hold onto our hopes, victories, and celebrations. After all, what is life but a series of battles fought and victories gained, both personal and collective?

Tags: personal achievement global issues resilience self-reflection personal achievements global anxieties

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