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.

A few of my favorite things

As I grew older, I realized that chasing a constant state of bliss only makes a person unhappy. The sooner you focus on enjoying the smaller things in life and appreciating the finer details, life feels less like a chore.

The following are some of the smaller things in life that I enjoy immensely, in no particular order.

1. Driving at night with the windows down.
I only like summer time after the sun has gone down and out of my face. There is just something about the night air in summer time that steals my heart every year. It’s really difficult to feel a sense of freedom when I’m not regularly imprisoned, so driving with the windows down and music blasting is as close as I can get.

2. Going shopping alone.
This might seem weird to you, but there’s no better shopping companion than my own shadow. I can go into any kind of store I want without being worried about my friends judging me or getting bored, I can take as long or as short as I want, and I don’t have to worry about keeping up a conversation. Shopping alone is extremely soothing for me, and I won’t let anybody tell me otherwise.

3. Running errands all over town with a car.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a great driver, but I love driving. I love having the liberty of running the errands whenever I want, and not having to worry about waiting for a bus or missing a bus or just having to take transit. I can also do more than two things, simply because I have the car. I get to dress up and feel all grown up, if only gas wasn’t so expensive.

4. Cleaning.
I don’t regularly do this (I should though), but I love it when I do. Getting started is the biggest barrier (as is accomplishing any task to be honest). Nothing feels better than blasting music and scrubbing down the counters until they’re spotless. Is that weird?

5. Collecting fonts.
I haven’t done this in a while, but once I start, it’s hard to stop. Looking for beautiful fonts is basically like shopping, and it feels great. Although I hardly touch Photoshop nowadays, having the fonts in my collection makes me feel more complete for some odd reason. I guess I can compare it to the feeling of buying a bunch of dresses for all types of occasions even though all you ever wear are t-shirts and jeans. It makes you feel prepared for anything to come. Which reminds me, I have a bad habit of buying dresses and high heels even though I hardly ever come across an occasion where I need to dress up. But it just feels so good to own them (a bad case of consumerism here, I know).

If you haven’t noticed already, all the activities above don’t involve social interaction. My introversion kind of dictates that my healing activities are probably likely to be done alone. There’s no comfort like spending some quality me time.

Which part of “self” in self-esteem don’t you understand?

In my experience with speaking to people about my self-esteem issues, two phrases often appear in conversation: “You don’t believe me?” and “Are you saying my opinion isn’t enough?” Almost always. At those points of the conversation I often have no choice but to get angry, because being upset doesn’t seem to carry my point across at all.

Which part of “self” in self-esteem don’t you understand?

My problem does not stem from a shortage of compliments, but the fact that I myself do not think I am beautiful, worthy, successful, or a good person, even. The problem is not that people don’t think I’m amazing, but that I don’t believe I’m amazing. Do you see the difference?

I am not trying to disconnect the relationship between receiving compliments and the increase in my self-esteem, because there is a definite positive correlation. However, if I firmly believe something about myself, it takes a lot more than just a compliment to change my mind. Why do you think so many people remain self-conscious and anxious about what other people think of them even though their friends have said nothing but positive things about them? It’s because they don’t believe it to be true for themselves. That’s why it’s called self-esteem. The world can go ahead and think I’m beautiful, but none of that matters until I believe it myself.

So stop being impatient with us and throwing us your accusations. I thank you for your consideration and your positive thoughts about me, but that alone does not solve the problem. Your words might make me feel good for that moment, or even a whole day, but feeling good for the rest of my life is up to no one else but me.

10 things about my May (so far)

It’s now three weeks into my summer and here are some updates (I say updates like anybody actually reads my blog on a regular basis…), in list form. I also hate the “list article” culture but it’s a way to organize my thoughts.

1. I ran 10K. Yeah that’s right. The lazy me who is so lazy I wouldn’t even go downstairs to get food when I get hungry at midnight. I just bear through it because the food is not worth the effort of leaving my chair and climbing the stairs. My “run” was more like a super slow jog, but nobody cares. What’s impressive is the sound of a 10K run, and I did it without stopping! It was the first time I felt that driven and determined for a while (especially seeing how my entire school year was shit), and it was extremely empowering.

2. I work almost full-time. It’s the same place I’ve worked at the entire school year, just more hours. I got a project recently and it was a lot of work, but I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! I’m just hoping that light isn’t an incoming train.

3. I made a new NYR (it’s never too late to make those): stop reading comments. The comments section is where the internet gets nasty. It’s where I lose bits and bits of my sanity slowly, but surely. I’ve been trying hard and it works (for the most part). It helps keep my anger in check and honestly, I don’t need to know exactly how ignorant some people can be.

4. I realized the importance of showers. This is gross and might be too TMI for some of you, but for an entire weekend I decided it was a good idea to not shower because my activities on the internet were more important. I still cannot believe I even went out looking all disgusting to go grocery shopping. Water and soap, I cannot feel like a person without you, thank you for your existence.

5. I started doing Blogilates regularly. I’ve done Cassey’s videos here and there, but I never tried to follow an entire calendar. I started with the beginner’s calendar several days ago, but I decided to switch up to the regular one because I didn’t feel too much with the beginner’s videos. Today I did the set of workouts for thighs, and damn, I am not going to be able to move at all tomorrow. FANTASTIC.

6. I am harbouring a growing obsession with onions and potatoes. I am literally sautéing them for every meal and I cannot stop.

7. I bought a jar of peanut butter weighing at 1kg the other day, and I kid you not I’m about a quarter done the jar. I recognize that it’s a problem but how do I resist peanut butter?!?! I was deprived of it all year because one of my roommates is deathly allergic. I have needs, you know.

8. Not much has changed in terms of my motivation to study. I’m behind in my course material, big surprise. I understand why it’s so difficult for me but I wish I had the willpower to just fix it. I also know I should stop “wishing” and just do it.

9. I am wondering if it’s a positive thing for me to do to unfollow people on Facebook whose profiles make me insanely envious and upset. Will that be detrimental to me in the end? If I sensor myself from those people’s seemingly fabulous lives, am I contributing to the increase of my self-esteem, or am I just avoiding my problems? Let me know what you think. I’ve unfollowed quite a few people because seeing their updates on my newsfeed makes me lose focus on my own life, which is also a problem.

10. My boyfriend asked me to his prom (he is indeed, younger than me) and it was super cute!!!!! And because he’s just that type of person, he made me climb a fence and trespass in the process. But it’s okay, because it was cute and I can climb fences anyway (YEAH THAT’S RIGHT).

So basically, TL;DR, I am working on focusing on myself in order to improve and feel better, but I have fallen victim to peanut butter and certain Korean dramas that make me not want to study and/or take showers.

April, again.

It’s a foggy and rainy night outside, but this is the beginning of my summer. Every year I marvel at how fast time passes, even though it should be no surprise by now. Last April I spoke about the miseries of first year and how second year will hopefully be better. Now that April is past, I’m here again to say my wishes did not come true. Whether that is a result of the lack of effort, or just fate itself, I don’t know and nor do I wish to know. Not at this moment anyway.

This year was so difficult. The entire eight months felt like I was being hit by a truck over and over again. As I struggled to stand after every time, the truck would speed over my broken body as if it were a dried leaf in autumn. Everything aside, the subjects were both dry and difficult. The majority were so incredibly dragging, the worst part being they were mandatory. When it came to studying it was a kind of struggle I’ve never been met with before. I’ve encountered difficult material, but I’ve never had material that refused to stick in my head even after studying. My focus was lost, my motivation out the window, I slugged through the long eight months that also passed too quickly.

Through my own struggles and failures, I realized how wrong I’ve been about some things. I used to think getting a mark below an 80 was a horror and anything below a 60 must surely feel so terrible the person would want to die. I was so completely wrong. I jumped to conclusions about so many people before I even stepped inside their shoes, let alone walk a mile. Bad marks can motivate people, but they can also make people want to quit. One bad mark after another will push you in the latter direction. It’s a cycle much more vicious than simply hating yourself. It brings you to the point of being desensitized. Because what’s so bad about a 70 when I’ve barely scraped by with a 51? What’s so bad about not making the cut for the program when I’m closer to not making the cut for the university? Now I know all too well, and I’m sorry.

Grades aside, living by myself is both a dream come true and a nightmare. Cooking was kind of cool…for the first two weeks. Once classes started rolling and assignment and midterms started falling on my head like bricks, cooking was more than just a chore. The same goes with washing the dishes, keeping the kitchen and the bathroom clean and taking out the trash. It was all so overwhelming and it’s crazy to think how I’ve buried myself neck deep in this pig’s sty of a place.

However, even with all the terrible thoughts I had and the buckets of tears I cried, I found joy in the most unexpected place. I got a job, interviewed and everything formal, and I was surprisingly hired. It was my first real job-hunt experience and I have never been so proud of myself. To this day, I’m still in awe. My work at the workplace tore away my misery for a few hours a week and I felt so fulfilled I could burst. I worked harder than I did for school and I found myself questioning many choices that I’ve made in terms of my studies. But it was incredibly weird how I was a superstar at work but a complete failure at my actual full-time job as a student.

As horrible as the year was, I do feel I have grown a lot as a person. I’m not as mature and wise as I thought I was, but that’s okay. I’ll be hitting my twenties in a few months, and I’ll probably be just as confused then as I am now, and that doesn’t scare me nearly as much as it would’ve eight months ago. What’s important is that I’m a work in progress and every moment is a new beginning.

For those with hearts of steel

This one is written for the ones who never make promises. The ones who never say “I love you”, the ones who never beg their lovers to stay, this one is for you.

I’m sorry all the poetry is written for unrequited love. They all assume you have a rough heart made of steel, impossible to break through, but I understand you. Your heart is not cold or lifeless, I assure you. Don’t let them convince you that you’re nothing but a heartbreaker, don’t let them get inside your head, because you’re not. I know so, because I used to be in your place.

I stopped making promises because what’s the use, when I will probably break them? They are only words, don’t forget. Who’s to say my heart won’t change? How can anyone be so cruel to ask me to promise something when the change of my heart is inevitable? I’m not the horrible one, you are. I stopped saying “I love you” because what if that’s not true for always? They are only words, don’t forget. Who’s to say my feelings are forever? I won’t be so awful to give you any kind of false hope. I can just show you my love, I’ll show you. I never begged anyone to stay because why should I, when they no longer want to? Why should I let them stomp all over my heart when they’ve already tore it out of my chest? Don’t be ridiculous.

They think you are cold-hearted, but I know better than that. Don’t ever let them convince you that you’re not capable of love. I was in your place not too long ago. You loved all of them, but it never seemed enough. You cared about them with your entire being, but it never seemed enough. You were vulnerable in front of them, you were hurt, but in the end you were still made out to be the horrible one. I’m so sorry.

You are more than capable of love, I assure you. One day someone will come along and you will find it inside of you to embrace them completely, and they will feel blessed instead of unsatisfied. One day you will find the words “I love you” bursting through the seams of your lips, but they’ll never expect you to say it more than once. They will understand that those words are not a promise of forever, but a declaration of now. They will never force you to make a promise, they will never think you’re cold or unaffectionate, because they will understand every inch of you.

So don’t be mean to yourself. Don’t let those bastards tell you about how much you’ve broken their hearts. You do know how to love, and before the right person comes into your life, please love yourself.

Toxic trips down memory lane

Instead of being a responsible adult tackling actual responsibilities, I decided to do one of those things where I watch countless YouTube videos. But there are only so many you can watch before you have to find the next escape route.

The first destination happened to be my inactive Tumblr where I used to write and write and write, until the ink in my pen dried (I can’t seem to get enough of this phrase). As I plowed through pages upon pages of “poetry” written by a 16-year-old me, the memories came back to me one by one. The strangest thing of all was that although I claim to remember small details of the happenings in my life quite well, I’ve long forgotten half of those events. Most of them were buried deep in the depths of my mind, but other ones? I’ve completely forgotten. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I’m happier now. Some people can handle the burden of storing every conversation and every feeling, but I’m probably not one of those people. I remembered things too well. I thought way too much. But as I slowly began to forget things, the small details that didn’t matter, the bigger constructs that only mattered for a little while, happiness found its way to me.

After deciding that 10 PM was way to early to work on my essay due Monday, I went to my “Fix” folder in My Documents. If you’ve read my post from long ago about being a writer, you may remember that I was a chronic fanfiction/fiction writer. Or so I tried. Going into that folder wasn’t a trip down the memory lane, but rather a time machine that transported my body back to 2007. I was a young soul full of creativity and angst, not unlike any 13 year-old. I read every document I found in those folders filled with stories that only just began. I only remembered vaguely how each story was supposed to go and I wished the 13 year-old me had the wisdom to write down the ideas that were so clear in my head I thought I would never forget. I never learned that lesson. Even now, I still don’t do that. Ideas rush through my head sometimes with the speed of Niagara Falls, but I fail to build the walls to stop them. Is that why I’m so frequently confused? Because I haven’t got things sorted out? Or is it just a better way to live without the memory of all those thoughts?

Facebook might as well be my ultimate demise. Ironic how my essay actually has to do with Facebook use, but that’s a different story. This is the toxic part of my trip tonight. I went to an old friend’s profile and looked at her pictures. After the pictures, it was her entire timeline. Then back to the pictures, then another old friend, and the process continues. The amount of fascination I find in all those girls that I used to know, that used to be my friends, is absolutely weird. I’m almost certain none of them remember a single detail about me like the way I remember details about them. Their birthdays, favourite colors (don’t you like I spelled favourite with a u but color without? It’s terrible I know), names of their dogs, I remember all of them. I know the names of their boyfriends today and I know who hung out with who after I left that school. I’m convinced it’s a disease. The obsession I have with the people in my past is so absolutely toxic, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of that toxin.

I call them my “friends” but I know they’re not, and weren’t. And I think that’s why I’m so absolutely obsessed with these girls. I desperately wanted to be their friends, and although they accepted me as a friend, I wasn’t, not really. With the desperation brings the fascination, how are they so flawless? Why is it that I spent my teenage years miserable, but they were having the time of their lives? My essay talks about how the identities on Facebook are not accurate to reality, but what’s even sadder is that I don’t have experiences to pick and choose from to show how much fun I had when I was younger. I did have fun at times, but I don’t even have any pictures to show for it. I’m fascinated by how at peace they were with themselves when I couldn’t even let myself leave the house in shorts when the weather was scorching. I’m fascinated by how easily they took to changing up their styles when it took me forever to embrace my love for dresses and skirts. And most of all, I’m fascinated by their glamour. The aura they exuded in the pictures had such a strong magnetic pull on me, it was impossible to not look. They were like that in real life also; it’s not the effect of an Instagram filter.

When I look at them, I become that young girl waiting to blossom into something beautiful again. I forget the steps I’ve made in loving and embracing myself, and I retreat back to that toxic land of perfection. I remember how their beauty made me bury myself; I wasn’t beautiful because they were. And even to this day I still feel the same. How absolutely terrible, and toxic.

I guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to feel beautiful again.