About words, feelings, and courage

When you’re like me, you think really hard before you speak. Maybe a bit too much. Sometimes I find myself with such a tight hold on what I say that I end up choking on the words I don’t say. And when times get bad, my throat fills up with the things I’ve always wanted to say and instead of throwing it all up I just sit there and let my airways constrict.

I hate being this careful but I also hate the thought of incorrectly conveying my thoughts and feelings because I chose to say the wrong things. All of this is probably super unhealthy. Maybe this is why I’m so anxious all the time. Can I say this? Is this acceptable? How will I be looked at if I say this? Is this reasonable of me? If my feelings are unreasonable, does that mean it’s okay to invalidate them even though it suffocates me? Does how I feel directly evaluates how I am as a person? If I know it’s stupid but I keep thinking it and feeling that way, does that make me wrong?

Gracious, confident women wouldn’t feel like this, so I shouldn’t say how I feel. If I say how I feel it only makes it into reality, and that isn’t what I want. Is that a wrong way of working towards my goal? Is that goal even realistic? Is it possible for everybody? Why is it so easy to be petty but so hard to not care? Do I have to wait until I’m fifty with no more fucks to give to be gracious? When will I stop feeling unattractive? When will I accept that someone else’s opinion about me will never be more important than my opinion about myself?

How do I say what I want without feeling guilty for what I want? Or should I feel guilty because what I want is greedy, needy, and unappreciative? Where do I draw the line between feelings I must always validate and feelings I can ignore? Will I collapse eventually because I keep invalidating my feelings? Even if I feel they are unreasonable?

Where do I find the courage and strength to love myself through this process of growing up?

Help, I can’t find my creativity

Okay so…I’ve said before that it would be rad if I could be a full-time publishing novelist. But where are my ideas??? The dream of being a writer is one I actually “worked” on, I just didn’t think of it as work. Growing up as an only child I naturally played with myself, and let’s be real here, all of us are capable of playing pretend with just ourselves. I played pretend with myself acting as at least two characters, with story lines I built on everyday like a daily soap.

Then I discovered the magic of maybe actually writing these stories. I started out as a fanfiction writer and I’m very proud of that fact. Then I decided to give original fiction a shot, and boy, the notebooks I filled out with drafting character backgrounds and plot outlines. I took immense joy in thinking up character names (anywhere from exotic sounding ones like Esme and simple ones like Kate), their eye and hair colors, favorite things to do, etc. I also had the weird habit of coming up with the story title before I did anything else. The entire fiasco was fuelled by this weird obsession I had with beautiful sounding words, cute names, and scenarios I loved seeing in my head. I also wrote other things like “fanfiction” where I only borrowed a famous person’s name and face and incorporated it into an entirely fictional story, as well as stories based off of my teenage angst. All of it was very dramatic. And very, very fun.

For some reason though, now that my teenage angst is gone and I’m dealing with responsibilities of figuring out the next steps to my life as an adult, the stories have stopped running. I stopped thinking about characters, interesting scenes, conflicts, and the likes. I still love reading but I only do that in the summer months . The only times I come in contact with a fictional world is when I watch my dramas, and while I’m very critical of what I watch, they no longer inspired stories in me as they used to. I don’t know if this is an age problem or it’s a problem of stopping.

I used to have words flowing out of my head all day, everyday, but now all I do is try to structure a sound argument for my opinion on some controversial issue. Sometimes I want to write essays on YouTube comments and other times I write entire essays in my head without actually writing them.

So what kind of writer am I? Am I a writer? Or did I just happen to have some creative phases as an teenager with a lot of angst, and now that I’m older all I think about are controversies? What makes a writer? What makes a novelist?

Pausing time

After having turned 18, every moment of my life began to feel too short. It was precisely during that year that I learned just how fast the clock ticks regardless of how much attention you pay. Most people want rewind and fast forward buttons, but I won’t be so greedy. I just want a button for pausing.

How is it even fair that time still runs fast during the best moments of my life? When I feel thoroughly loved and cherished, accomplished and proud, those moments are only ephemeral? Will I learn to not appreciate good times if I could live in them for as long as I want? Will I forget to be grateful for what I have if I always have them? I don’t think that is quite the case.

I want to be able to bask in the minutes where I felt free with a warm heart before I have to move onto harder obstacles. I want the memories of being truly happy and satisfied to be my backbone when life strikes at me. I want a pause button. That way I can have the time to collect the beautiful things for remembering, for helping me breathe when stress deprives me of oxygen, for helping me back up on my feet after having the wind knocked out of me.

It’s a little greedy, I know. But I want more time.

D-61 to 2015

It was Halloween only yesterday, and in true Canadian fashion this November morning, it snowed. I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year, again, but here are some things about my October (and the first day of November).

1. I have a new “about me” page :)

2. Pumpkin spice lattes still don’t taste like pumpkins.

3. October came with a lot of frustration (80% had to do with my malfunctioning phone), stress, and anxiety. I dealt with all of that okay this year and I’m here to report that I feel okay about how the month went. Pretty happy, even.

4. I truly understood how important it was to put yourself in an environment most suited for your needs. I switched into a new program where most of the required courses are the same as my old one, but darn do I feel different. Nothing was wrong with the people in my old program, as they were incredibly friendly and helpful, but their ambitions were clearly different and it was contributing negatively to my learning. Don’t just surround yourself with great people. Surround yourself with great people who have the same mindset as you.

5. I applied to quite a few jobs and I’ve received one rejection so far. I’m not too disheartened by it, but I hope to hear some good things soon :)

6. My boyfriend surprised me with chocolate bars twice and they were the cutest things ever. I felt so much joy for that little thing it makes me wonder why some people will expect their partners to gift them with purses that cost more than my limb.

7. I am thinking a little more seriously about becoming a novelist. But not that seriously.

8. It takes more than just soap to get rid of the smell of my shrimp dinner from my fingers.

Reflecting on my privilege and questions

Yesterday I came across a piece about Thin Privilege on Everyday Feminism. It was perspective I have not considered in the mass social movement of “everybody is beautiful”. First and foremost, I don’t agree with the idea of telling people “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, because that does not fix the problem that currently exists in the society. Self-acceptance should not have its roots in other people’s opinions, period. However, until we rid patriarchy, someone out there will always hate their bodies because they do not conform with society’s (by that I mean men) ideals. So I suppose the next best thing would be to rid body-shaming.

I do not consider myself thin, although many have called me “tiny”, because of my upbringing in a Chinese family. I consider myself to be big-boned and without grace, but those are only my feelings. The article I read yesterday pointed out to me that my own grievances and hatred for my body does not mean I am oppressed in the same way that fat people are. My biggest problem when I walk around the world is that I feel like people are judging me even though they probably aren’t. My second problem is probably not being able to find my size ever during a sale, because everybody wears my size. That is privilege. While people above a US size 14 are unable to find their size in a non-plus size clothing store, I’m only unable to find my size because I’m considered “normal” and it will always run out during a sale.

Nowadays a new term has surfaced, called “skinny-shaming”. Where people who preach “real women have curves” are bad people because they’re putting down skinny people for not being “real women”. As somebody who doesn’t have curves in the right places, I hate that statement too. But what I read yesterday made me reconsider. The statement upsets me not because I feel they are shaming my body, but because they are purposely shifting the center of the universe away from me. That is where my thin privilege lies. It’s no different from men who cry “not all men”.

But knowing all of that, I am now at a loss. I complain about my body to everyone except for friends who are bigger than me. I used to think that was me being considerate, but now I see that as being mean-spirited because inherently I feel it’s still better to be me even though I don’t love my body. Another conflict arises when I think about health issues. Obviously it is not easy for everyone to lose weight, and not all thin people are healthy. Some heavier people living healthy lifestyles are probably less at risk that I am for things like collapsing under stress, high cholesterol problems, etc. However, if someone who is overweight is living an unhealthy lifestyle, would it be wrong for me to suggest changing their diets and including exercise into their lives?

We see a trend nowadays that we encourage overweight people to love their bodies, which is a positive thing. On the other hand though, having extra weight does increase certain health risks if the weight is gained from an unhealthy lifestyle. Shouldn’t we encourage healthy-living regardless of a person’s body size? Or is it wrong to do so regardless of the circumstance? How do we go about promoting health, physical and mental, without it having ties to body-shaming? We should all exercise not because we hate our bodies, but because we love them. But how do we promote that? How do we get people to love their bodies but still make necessary lifestyle changes because no amount of self-acceptance can save you when you get fatty liver?

Marks of a university student

1. Four out of my five cups/mugs have tea stains in them. And yes, I need to have all five cups.

2. The things I use frequently, if not on my desk, are on the floor. The shelf is for things I never touch.

3. The floor is divided into zones. The zone to the left of my chair is for school-related things, such as notes I should be making right now. The zone to my right happened when I was cleaning out my room at the beginning of the school year, originally being my “recycling pile”.

4. Socks and underwear are some of my favorite presents to receive. It means I get to delay the next time I have to do laundry.

5. The note-taking software I use has my own custom auto-correct. I realized I could no longer be bothered to write words such as polymerize, phosphorylate, and amino acids.

6. I have post-its with to-do lists stuck on my laptop. Because that puts them in my face and I have no choice but to face my responsibilities.

7. The privilege to buy lunch on campus needs to be earned. If it isn’t, I will think about it five times before I purchase a single cup of coffee.

8. My phone has not been fully functional since the end of August. It is now almost November. I’ve gone a month having my phone constantly shut down if I sent more than two text messages, two weeks leaving the house without a phone, and a week trying to hold it together desperately. I don’t know how I’m living like this but I am.

9. The money in my bank account is not actually mine. This wonderful thing called student loans has allowed me to feel rich for the short while before I have to pay it all back. Plus interest.

10. While I want all this to be over soon so I can relax at home, be fed properly, and eat a heap of chocolate during Christmas time, I feel ripped off because the actual time I spend being taught is so short.

A difference in dreams

I think if you want to get to know somebody’s journey in the shortest amount of time possible, the best way is to ask “What was your dream at 13 years old, and what is your dream now?” The changes in our mindsets best reflect the things we have experienced, our dreams direct projections of those changes.

When I was 13, I dreamed of stability. I spent my childhood in a country with conservative values and parents who raised me with hopes that I will have a smooth ride in life. So naturally I dreamed of having a a job where people respect me, with a stable income and is constantly in demand. I hoped to marry someone I love who will be financially capable and our child will grow up without a single worry. We will have the daily 9-5 grind but we won’t complain because that’s life, and take family vacations twice a year to generic places like a cruise to the Caribbean.

I’m now 20. While I would still love to have all the things I dreamed of having when I was 13, what makes my heart flutter is now completely different. Being able to make my own hours, take days off work to go travelling to out-of-reach places, going on road trips with some friends and maybe never having children. I’ll marry someone I love and we can live with two cats in a studio loft. Some weekends we’ll fly to Las Vegas and some we’ll explore corners of the city. Move to a place far away from family for a few years before they start getting old and go snorkelling in Australia.

The hardest part about this change is that I’m not done with the process. On one hand I know it would be a blessing to even get to do the daily 9-5 grind, to be able to marry a person I love, and raise children without trying to make ends meet. On the other hand, that path robs me of things I could have if I can just forget about stability for a second. To be honest I’m not sure if I’ll ever be over that conflict. But more importantly, will I even get a choice?