A dream I don’t know how to realize

When is a good time to write a novel? 16 years old, when you’re unafraid and full of ambition? 20 years old, when you’ve had a small taste of “real life” to make sure your writing has depth? 30 years old, when you’ve been through all the stages of life but not yet too defeated? Or is it after retirement, when you have plenty to talk about because life is anything but easy?

When I said I used to be a writer, and certainly dreamed of being one, it wasn’t really an exaggeration. My earliest attempt at a novel was when I was thirteen, but I’ll take my first draft to the grave with me because I don’t think I can live down the embarrassment I’d feel otherwise. It’s not an uncommon dream of a thirteen-year-old, after all, not all published novels are great novels. You would be lying if you disagreed with me. I cannot count the times I’ve come across the sloppiest of novels (though I can’t say I can do better) when I’ve read amateur fiction on the internet that were miles better. So what is it about the idea of a young teen writing a novel that will have the world laughing? My youth? The immaturity associated with my young age? My not-yet-SAT-enriched vocabulary?

I made another attempt when I was sixteen. I made further progress this time, due to my participation in NaNoWriMo. Of course, I didn’t finish the story, not unlike the fate of many of my other passions. Thinking back, I’m no longer sure about the reason for giving up. My commitment issues already accounted for, but what’s the rest? Is it because I wasn’t old enough, and I felt it in my writing?

It makes sense when I think about it. Even now, when I think back to when I was sixteen, there was nothing remarkable. What could the sixteen-year-old me have said that was worthy to be printed in mass and sold for money? Not much, really.

So when is a good time for me to really try writing a novel? Or am I supposed to just go for it and finish the work without a second thought? How do I stay encouraged to continue when I feel as though my words are all child’s play, and no depth?

I’ve always dreamed of being an author of published works, but I know some dreams don’t come true. Or is that only my skewed way of thinking?

My “wrong” way of living

I live a simple life. Adventure comes easy if you just lower your standards, so I do. The smallest things are exciting for me, and I suppose that’s the reason I’m able to keep myself sane. The way I live my life must be awfully dry in another person’s eyes, or even a waste of time. I say this not because people have directly told me I should be making some changes, but because of this tidal wave of “YOLO”.

While it’s true that I only live once, and that there are days when I feel like sitting at home isn’t where I should be, it doesn’t mean the way I’m living is wrong. Before 2012, I hardly read any articles with headlines such as “20 things to do in your twenties” or “how to quit your job and travel the world”. There were only so many I could read before I started thinking “I’m enjoying what I’m doing, but I’m being such a waste of space right now”. How does that even make sense? Why am I punishing myself for doing what I love, just because society tells me it’s the wrong way to live?

Yes, I admit, I spend a lot of my free time on the internet streaming Korean dramas. I scroll through Tumblr everyday and laugh at stupid things. I don’t know how to function without YouTube or unlimited bandwidth. Even when my internet is gone, I hit the library and borrow a stack of books to read, at home. While there is no feeling comparable to the sensation of ocean breeze on my skin, the excitement and anxiety while watching a brilliant story unfold on my laptop is also irreplaceable. So how are you going to tell me that I need to leave the house and live? I am living.

Every day I’m learning new things, even though to other people I might have just wasted an entire day at home. I grow every time I watch a Korean drama. I learn more about myself with every book I read. The other day I drove out to buy myself a drink from Tim Horton’s without my parents knowing, and I was happy about it the entire evening. I felt like I conquered the world when I drove on the highway for the first time. My boyfriend and I went to a comedy club to watch stand-up , the excitement I felt is not unlike visiting a new town far away.

I’m not rejecting the acceptable way of life by staying at home. In my lifetime I will go on road trips too, and travel to distance places in the mountains. I will go to concerts and explore unknown cities. I will find adventure in the most unexpected places with the sun on my skin. It just won’t be at a time you think is acceptable.

It’s my simple life after all.

Melodies that have my heart soaring

Today I want to share a song (or maybe two) I have been obsessed with this entire week. Normally my thoughts get cluttered with music playing, so I tend to not listen to anything when I write. However, I can’t bear a moment without this song, so I just let it roll. If my sentences don’t make sense, you know why. 

There is something about this song just steals my breath away. Not in that “wow this is so moving” way but in that “my heart just can’t help but love this for no apparent reason”. My favorite part has to go to 0:44. The melodic line and the voice is so soothing and full of hope, how can I not fall for it? 

This song is ideal for a summer drive with the windows down, after the night has fallen. I want it blasting, reminding me of the beauty and hope that exists out there. 

Another song that gives me a similar feeling is Tonight – by Spica. It’s less electronic, but just as wonderful. Every time I listen to the chorus, it brings me to the verge of tears. Strange what music can do to people. 

One of my many wishes is for K-pop to start making more songs similar to these two. For an industry that produces so much music, you would think it’s easy to find more than just two. Once I’ve managed to find at least a CD’s worth though, you can bet I’ll be going on a road trip. 

A friend of ten years

The last time I wrote about my best friend was in 2007. Lots of things have changed since then, with ourselves and with us. But what hasn’t changed is our familiarity with each other. It was completely unexpected that we became friends, as neither of us liked each other very much. However, juice boxes and walking around a playground as we talked about life seemed to have done the magic.

Losing her would not end with me sitting in a pool of my tears, simply because I’m not that kind of person, but it would be very deeply regretful. I’ve come close to losing her a few times, as all friendships have periods of hostility. However, like most strong and old friendships, we picked up where we left off without any of that awkward reconciliation talk. We acknowledge that without hurt feelings, the friendship wouldn’t be strong, or even intimate. Formal apologies to us are alien. Not because we’re rude and unapologetic people, but because our closeness renders them awkward.

She knows me deeply. She knows where I came from and where I want to end up. She was the person I called when I was pathetically sobbing about characters in a show because they reminded me of my ex-boyfriend. She was the person I called when I was in a state of total panic about a boy I cared for deeply, but was already a part of my past. With her there is no need for long-winded explanations, or even a short one. Our advice for each other is honest, raw, and bitter, as all good ones are.

She helps me overcome my cowardice when it comes to expressing my wants and feelings. I’m the voice over her shoulder telling her it’s okay to open up her heart to someone now. There are no pretty words or pretense between us. Just as how I would never ask her what she thinks about me as a person, I will never tell her my desire to be as generous and genuine as her. With her I feel secure and unafraid, because she knows the darkest corners of my heart.

Dear Body, I’m sorry. I will make it up to you.

It’s a running joke that when you feel unwell, the last thing you should do is Google your symptoms. Results will probably let you know it might just be the flu, but also very possible that it’s the beginning stages of cancer. As a Biology student, I know all too well just how vulnerable we all are. Our strong bodies made by an unfathomable number of cells, incredibly vast networks of blood vessels and nerves, and bones so hard it’s easy to think they must be invincible, all reasons to abuse our bodies without a thought.

But we’re not all that strong. Sure, a broken hip won’t kill you, but an infection at your open wound will. You probably won’t die from not eating for a while, but you can bet if you eat the wrong thing (like improperly canned food), the odds of you facing a premature death become astronomical.

Yet we continue to take advantage of our poor bodies that work hard without the smallest complaints. Even as I’m typing this on my laptop, I am knowingly being awful to the body I was blessed with. Hunched over my desk with legs curled up, protracted arms to type with my wrist in the same position for the last God knows how many hours, eyes haven’t taken a break since the moment I opened my eyes this morning, I’m more than just guilty of this crime. It’s not only me either. The ones who are most guilty of this abuse are none other than my fellow students who know, and understand, exactly how marvellous our bodies are. 

As for me, I normally don’t think about all the ways I’ve wronged my body for the years I’ve been alive. That is, until something is a little bit off. It’s at this moment that I am flooded by all these regrets. I should’ve taken breaks from staring at my laptop. I should’ve gone for a jog earlier. I shouldn’t have eaten all that peanut butter. I should’ve stretched out my forearms and wrists. The list goes on, mocking my late awareness of just how screwed I might be ten years down the road. 

So let’s get some sunshine and breathe fresh air. Stretch out our limbs and actually use our lower body muscles. Hit the gym a few times a week and stop eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. Treat our bodies with respect and love. Being grateful never hurt anybody. 

 

Becoming a woman

Now that I’m twenty, am I a woman?

It seems to be the default that once a girl turns 18, her title automatically transitions to “woman”. But does that really make sense? What makes a woman a woman is her mindset, not her age, isn’t that correct? So at what point can I safely call myself a woman?

Maybe it’s the point when I start to shop for lingerie instead of wanting to buy underwear with cats on them. Maybe it’s the point when I start wearing silk to bed instead of a cotton t-shirt. Maybe it’s the point when I can confidently leave the house with the brightest red lip color I own. But I know none of those are determinants of whether I’m a woman or not.

Whenever that will be though, I hope to become a woman with grace. Not in my actions, but in my intentions. I can say I’ll probably never be a lady, but I want to act with such class and elegance that people will gravitate towards me. I want to be graceful, generous, and with an open heart and mind.

I hope to stop being petty about trivial matters. Learn to give up an argument even if I can win it, just because sometimes you have to let your loved ones win. Learn to take five steps back before looking at a situation and not to take everything personally. Learn to say the right words and hide emotions from my face because some issues are meant to be dealt with internally. Learn to not only forgive, but forget entirely because life is more than remembering the ways you were wronged.

I can say all of those things, but the ways in which I will achieve them are a mystery. Though what I can say now is that compared to when I was 18 and I thought I was mature beyond my years, I am now mature enough to know that I was immature to think so.

19 turning 20

19 turning 20 is the kind of age where you start crying when a touching song comes on the radio as you drive. That was me just a day ago. I tried and tried to control my tear ducts but the only command they listened to were my feelings, not reason.

19 turning 20 is the kind of age where there’s little you can do except to feel. Emotions come easier than anything and your mind is in constant chaos. But they’re no longer the kind of angsty teenage mood swings you get in your early adolescence. While you still struggle with your personal issues with confidence and acceptance from your peers, there are the scarier issues like “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”, “Why should I be studying this if I can’t get a job after I graduate?”, “Should I go to grad school instead of getting some unpaid work experience?” and the scariest of all, “How much time do I have left to change my mind?”

19 turning 20 is the kind of age where you struggle to become a better person. The keyword is struggle. It’s not easy to change, especially not when it’s changing for the better. You know which things are considered racist and sexist, what kind of mindset constitutes as rape culture and that you shouldn’t stereotype people. But it’s so hard. I recognize that there is a need to abandon what has instilled in me to embrace a new mindset that is accepting and considerate towards all people, but it continues to be a conscious effort.

19 turning 20 is the kind of age where you fight for the balance between work and play. On one hand you are expected to be working towards your future diligently, unwavering, but on the other hand you are also expected to have the time of your life and maybe make some stupid mistakes along the way, all a part of the journey of life. Am I supposed to do both? How? How is it humanly possible for me to balance work and play AND getting enough sleep?

But I’m no longer 19 turning 20. I spent the last day of my teen year with my wonderful boyfriend and the last hour driving myself home with the windows rolled down, music blasting. It was such a peaceful transition into my twenties that I barely even noticed the time passing. My 19th year was all but peaceful, but I’ve grown so much as a person that it’s hard to disregard it as “that one year where I fucked up a lot”. My twenties will not be any less confusing, chaotic, or heartbreaking, but I will make it fabulous. That will be the difference.

The me in my twenties will know to stop wishing and hoping, and instead take matters into my own hands and chase what is rightfully mine: happiness and success. The me in my twenties will be courageous, kind, and loving. And most importantly of all, the me in my twenties will finally be at peace with myself.