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?

The day I deserved the cookie that I ate

This post is going to be a little bit weird. I’m going to talk about how I had fun studying today. Are you alarmed yet? I have yet to recall a time I did not feel like jumping off a bridge when it came time for studying. I’m not sure if it was because my methods were wrong, or the subject, or just me. The subject didn’t seem to be the reason seeing how basic ecology is hardly fascinating. But with my colored pens laid out and a lot of neon sticky notes, I went to town. And I felt so weirdly fulfilled because the cookie I consumed was a reward instead of a treat.

I would love to give myself all the credit for finally making some tangible changes in my lifestyle, but the evidence supporting that hypothesis is severely lacking. I just hope at this point that the change will persist for the rough months ahead, and let me finally have a legitimate reason for my sleep deprivation. I have yet to make some positive changes in some other aspects of my life, namely fitness and dietary habits (I either cannot stop eating or I forget to eat), but I’ll take what I can get right now.

On another note though I am extremely pressed for time. There are a lot of evaluations coming up and I really cannot say I am ready for any of them. You have no idea how glad I am to be feeling an actual sense of panic rather than the attitude I held last year where I ran away from my responsibilities with the help of YouTube and Korean dramas. I am so happy about every little change in my ways because I know exactly how different, and awful, I was mere months ago.

Choosing happiness

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Day after day I realize just how simple happiness can be. Happiness is laughing at the same stories we’ve laughed at for ten years with my family, my boyfriend squeezing my hand reassuringly, and being able to laugh after a sombre day. It’s the smallest of things that make my day. But I suppose if they have the ability to make my day, I can’t really call them “small” now can I?

The photo above is one I took on my way home yesterday. After deliberating for a block’s length, I decided to pull into a street and stop for a picture. I have done that before, probably near the same area, but for a different time in the day. There’s something beautiful about the stretch of road I frequently take on the way home. There are fields upon fields that go for kilometers on one side and carbon-copy houses on the other. Driving back from having dinner with my boyfriend and his family tonight, I saw the big dipper hanging right above the fields and it brought a great sense of calmness. My day was anything but expected and it put a toll on my spirit, but I suppose the stars were aligned for me tonight.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things. For the roof over my head and dinner on the table, I thank my hard working father who has never muttered a single complaint. For the clean room I return to every time and a suitcase packed with food to bring back with me, I thank my loving mother who makes sure I am eating before she worries about my grades. For my parents who are not lonely even though I’m not an affectionate daughter, I thank my cute sister who is both mommy’s and daddy’s girl. For my endless gifts and New-Years money, I thank my aunts and grandparents for spoiling me since the day I was born. For spazzing with me and listening to me go on and on about my feelings, I thank my dear friends who not only accept, but also tolerate me. For treating me like a princess and helping me rid the chains I put on myself, I thank my wonderful boyfriend who continues to love me after seeing my flaws.

To repay for the gift of life I have received, I will try my best to choose happiness in the life ahead of me. I will choose to become stronger, kinder, and happier.

Five happy things

I woke up early today thinking I was going to do some work. Nope. But I’ve been in relatively good spirits lately and I think this blog needs some happy spirits.

1. I am obsessed with this beautiful cover of this beautiful song.

My boyfriend is probably tired of me screaming about this song but he can’t stop me. It’s a simple song, but all the captivating songs are made with simple melodies. The lyrics are the force behind this wonderful song and it’ll take a while before I stop listening to this on repeat. If acapella is not your thing, feel free to check out the original (which I also love). Side note: I linked the original to a live performance because there is something about a crowd singing together that will always move me to tears. I hope to be a part of a crowd like that one day.

2. I got a midterm mark I’m satisfied with.

This time when I say “satisfied”, I don’t actually mean barely scraping by. It’s a good reminder that I’ve kind of got myself back together again and that I am capable. Now if I can just catch up on all the other courses that I’m behind on…

3. I went to a hip hop workshop!!!

It sounds crazy and it was embarrassing but I had too much fun to care. I’m even thinking of joining their regular rec team for beginners. It would be great to see how much progress I can make in terms of getting my body to coordinate even just a little bit. I’m the kind of person who is never aware of where her limbs are…which is a bit of a problem.

4. I’m going home for Thanksgiving tomorrow

This is my first time going home since I moved in this school year and I’m beyond excited!!!!! I’m supposed to study a lot but that probably isn’t happening. I cannot wait to be fed properly, see my boyfriend, and catch up on my shows :)

5. Life is good

I have yet to feel miserable this year and I’m so happy about that. I do think I’ve made the right decision to change programs (not that big of a change, but it made a difference). I feel lighter and more at peace with myself. Or maybe it’s not my program but just me, but either way I’m happy.

The Sunday where I cried because of Jenna Marbles

On a quiet Sunday morning afternoon while procrastinating, I find myself crying over Jenna Marbles’ 200th video. Her videos are never inspirational and she frequently gets called out for swearing too much, but this video is the one you need to watch if you are feeling lost.

My relationship with Jenna Marbles’ videos are inconsistent. I loved many of her old ones but her new content no longer captivates me. I found myself on her channel again solely because I didn’t want to write the lab report that is due on Tuesday. While her “Draw My Life” video opened viewers’ eyes to the very human side of this internet sensation, her 200th video comforts those who feel like they don’t have it quite figured out.

In the years from being a rebellious teenager who fights with her parents to realizing the responsibilities that come with becoming an adult, I drafted plans upon plans about my future. Plan A, Plan B, Plan If-I-never-find-a-job-I-love, Plan Leave-everything-behind-and-travel-with-a-backpack, etc., I’ve thought of them all. But the older I get, the more plans I throw in the trash. I can no longer do Plan A because that’s not the person I thought I was. I can no longer do Plan B because I can do better than that. The more I get to know myself, the more lost I feel. If the future me is nothing like who I think I will be, no plan is useful.

Jenna said in the video that her goals are vague, which means there’s really no concrete way to accomplish them in an organized manner. I’m very much the same way. I would love to have lots of money and the power and freedom to do whatever I want, but more than that I wish to be happy and grateful even if I can’t. It would be great to have a job I love, but I don’t have to if I can laugh with people I love everyday. My life stopped being a straight line a few years ago. And while I still wish for a smooth ride, I’m learning to accept the detours and the parts where my GPS stops functioning.

A letter to the person who tweeted:

“A system that breeds people who shit on streets vs a 50K People protest and not even ONE broken window”

I share your frustration in the situation that is currently happening in Hong Kong, but your tweet made me angry. This is not the first time I felt personally attacked by your tweets, seeing that you hold strong prejudice against us “mainlanders”. You’ve called us pigs, uncivilized, and that you really can’t expect all that much from us. But this time it angers me much more than usual. Instead of addressing the actual issue and drawing awareness to Occupy Central, you chose to focus on civilians who had nothing to do with this.

Have you considered that “people who shit on streets” are also under the same control you fear for your people in the future? What about us? We’ve fought our battle before, but it ended in the June 4th massacre. So how dare you even speak of us in that manner when it could very well be your people who will “shit on streets” ten years from now? I am angry not because you criticized our system, but because you chose to criticize our system through insulting innocent civilians who might not even be aware of Occupy Central because they are under heavy censorship.

The prejudice that people from Hong Kong has about those from mainland China is not a new thing. We’ve always been the uneducated neighbours. The people who cut in line, are corrupted communists, spit on the streets, and are generally ill-mannered. The prejudice is held to the point where some people from Hong Kong will even refuse to acknowledge as being the same kind of “Chinese” as we are. But that is such an extreme case of stereotyping. Just like how you can find uncivilized individuals in Hong Kong, you can find polite individuals in mainland. When you generalize like that, how can you even complain when people assume you are good at mathematics because you’re Asian?

Even if you do a study and pull out statistics to back up your arguments that mainlanders tend to behave in uncivilized ways, have you thought about your privilege? Hong Kong is a place that has enjoyed immense wealth under British rule and still continue to do much better economically even after 1997. To people from the countryside or smaller cities, women are considered to have done very well if they managed to marry someone from Hong Kong. Doesn’t that tell you something? While you spit out hateful words about my people, we idolize your people because most of the time you are better off financially and have more opportunities.

In a country where resources have always been limited and the population ever-increasing, there is only so much energy you can invest in making sure everybody plays fair. We can’t afford to not butt in line and let everybody make a fair portion. We are all trying to cope in an environment that is incredibly stressful, and parents try their best to educate their children to be good citizens despite all the challenges they face. So next time before you make a comment that spits on us, count your blessings, remember your privilege, and re-evaluate your words.

Nomination for the Liebster and rule-breaking.

Sometimes life is surprisingly pleasant to me. Yesterday I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Todd, and this morning I received an offer to join the Teaching Awards Committee at my university. Just now I got off a video chat with my aunt and grandparents, all such lovely people in my life for whom I’m grateful. The weather is beautiful and my fever chills have stopped. Life is wonderful today.

I would like to thank Todd for the nomination; it really does mean a lot to me especially since I was never the child who racked up enough trophies I’d need a bookshelf to display them all. I would also like to thank all the people who take their precious time to read what I write, and especially those who take the time to leave comments. It feels wonderful to know that my thoughts are heard and appreciated.

So apparently some facts about myself are due:

1. There is nothing more frightening to me than the thought of working at the same job, doing the same thing, for my entire life. The Bee Movie really struck a chord in me with this one. If I had to stay in the same kind of career, let it be one where I continue to meet new people in a dynamic environment.

2. Here are some things I would like to learn: Korean (needs a lot of work), HTML & CSS (I’m rusty and my knowledge stops at a very basic level), a programming language (it will give me such a big headache but I swear I’ll get it down someday), jewelry making (!!!!!!), and swimming (this is laughable, I know).

3. I do feel that my nature is spontaneous and fun-loving. But for some reason I ended up as a responsible introvert who absolutely despises out-of-the-blue “plans”. Currently I am working on embracing the unregulated side of life. I will let you know the next time I say yes to a spontaneous lunch invite from a friend.

4. I can be very opinionated on a lot of things. My passion lies in body image issues, immigrants and their problems with settling in their new countries, problems with the current education system, and the relationships between fans and celebrities.

5. I have had big dreams, and maybe still do, about becoming a book cover designer and a custom greeting card maker. And what am I studying? Yeah you guessed it, it’s biology. But I do love it, albeit not necessarily in the way it can be taught.

I’m missing six facts and some question answering, but I want to keep this short. I would like to nominate Aliya and Kathryn, for they have blogs I connect to deeply :)