Teh Awesome

It’s hard being awesome. I don’t mean to say that in a pretentious, snobby way as in, “I know that I am awesome, it’s tough being me.”  But more in the way of: I forget that I am awesome and forget to BE awesome.

How many of us berate ourselves for our shortcomings on a daily basis?  I used to look in the mirror and pinpoint (to myself) all the flaws I saw. When I screw up, even if it is something small and completely fixed, I still think about it months afterwards.  I repeat those mistakes in my mind constantly, and it’s easy to get caught in the trap of self-degredation.  I forget that I am awesome.

So, when I saw it’s hard being awesome, it is more that I start to believe that I am not awesome …

Yes, I will stop using the word “awesome” now.

I was hit by a very big metaphorical truck a couple weeks ago.  The core of the issue was the fact that I am always trying to please my friends, always trying to give them something in order to keep them as friends.  I’ve done this since I was a child. I saw friendship as “What can I give this person so they will like me?”  Growing up as a military brat and moving every four years, I had to “learn” how to make friends fast, and the fastest way of doing so is exchanging something of value.

I remember trying to bribe the neighborhood kids with bubblegum when I was in first grade. As if bubblegum was treasure …

It never really occurred to me that my true friends don’t NEED anything from me, other than just being a good friend in return.  When I got hit by that truck, I finally got it.  My friends are my friends because of me (and my awesomeness*). It was the wake-up call I needed.

After this experience, I just started to affirm how good of a person I actually am.  It’s easy to complain, and it’s easy to hate myself. What’s really hard, the actual challenge worth pursuing, is being nice to myself and to be confident about my abilities.

&—— // ———

I used to hate pictures of myself.  I missed chronicling a good chunk of my time in high school because I could not stand looking at me.  I was fine with being always behind the camera.

But now, I’m beginning to see that it’s all just my perception. The way I look to myself is totally dependent on how I am feeling about myself.  When I feel ugly, I will not like what I see in pictures, or even in the mirror.

If I feel great, well … then it gives me enough bravery to include two photos of myself in one blog posts.

This is me, and I’m awesome**.

&—— // ———

*I had to.
** I really had to then, too.

Kismet – 10 Years

It’s fitting that I end this less-than-stellar week with a Stars Align concert. In the ten years I have been following all the different permutations of this band, I have changed so much. All the ups and downs, it seems that this band has been the background soundtrack to it all.

I wouldn’t find myself here if it wasn’t for this music, this band. They were the glimmer of hope I had when things were really bad.  And my touchstone, even now.

So, I’m off for some good music with some good friends.  And maybe I’ll find my happiness along the way.

Stars Align

Neve Genius

“in your room on your walls you’ve got angels to protect you…”

When I was in high school, I posted all the pictures I had at my disposal on my walls.  Almost every inch of three walls were covered with all the memories miraculously captured on film.  I chose the pictures that made me smile, made me happy, made me forget where I was – even if it was for just a moment.

I surrounded myself with pictures of happiness as if I were trying to convince myself that I could be happy.  Or at the very least, used to be happy.  It was hard, then, to think that I would get out of it.

But I did.  Took a few years and a thousand miles of distance from that room that used to suffocate me.  Now, when I look at pictures of myself, surrounded by the people I love, I don’t need the reminder to be happy.  I know that I am.

Photo courtesy of danregal

“Russian Roulette is not the same without the gun”

As a general rule, I don’t regret many of the impulsive choices I’ve made in my life (save for one or two).  I made the decision to move to Los Angeles based off one phone conversation with Ipsa*.  After one lecture of AsianAm studies, I decided to go to law school.  Both choices, made immediately and whole heartedly, led to great consequences – life changing in fact – and I’ve never looked back.

Granted, there are a few impulsive decisions that make me cringe: like trying to ride a bike with no hands or feet.  Or July 4th, 1999.  But, regardless of how many scars resulted, I never regretted it.  Probably because I have the belief that every choice made along the way led to who I am now and who I am meant to be.  How can I regret that?

Still, I wonder – why don’t I give more thought into the “life-altering” decisions?  Or even to the small decisions that pepper my daily life?  The logical side of me says that such behavior is reckless.  Maybe even a little selfish.  When it comes down to a choice that’s fun or easy against responsible and thought-out, I go with the fun or easy.  Study or watch The Dresden Files?  Guess which wins out.  I’m fully prepared to deal with the consequences – like the less than stellar grades I receive – because I have to.  But, I know it’s only a matter of time before it all catches up with me and knocks me down for a long time.

Then there are the decisions I never make: allowing them to just pass me by and I shrug it off as “not meant to be.”  But in truth, I just never take the time to think about things and how actually making a choice will be good or bad for me.  I just wait long enough until I don’t have to make the decision.

I’ve just finished my second year of law school, and apparently I am the only one who doesn’t feel the pressure of finding a summer job (“for the experience”).  Although I do still have my research position, it’s not enough to get my foot in the door after I graduate, or so I’m told.  It’s not that I don’t want a great job after school; it’s more of the nagging feeling that I don’t want to work 60 hour weeks, letting life pass by.  I love learning about the law; I don’t know if I can live in that world for the rest of my life.

Or maybe, I just don’t want to “grow up” and take on actual responsibility.  I’m comfortable in this cocoon and maybe my decisions are based on the underlying desire to remain in it.

I don’t know for sure.  All I do know – no matter what’s in the chamber, I won’t regret the decision.

The Red Line

Los Angeles is not known for its subway.  People who have lived here for years don’t even realize there is a subway.  Admittedly, it’s not very convenient – doesn’t reach most of the spread-out city.  But it’s there, and I take it.

One of the perks of taking the subway is the opportunity to watch people.  Usually, I read or knit or nap – anything that detaches me from all the other people I share a space with for the twenty-minute ride.  But there are rare occasions when I just watch the people around me and start to wonder how they got there and where they’re going (in life).

You have your standard “crazy” people – the ones that make you avoid taking the subway alone after the sun goes down.  Business men and women suited up with matching briefcases.  Nannies, mothers, high school students, tourists.  Tall, short, disabled, and lazy.  Granted, it’s not an entirely representative microcosm of Los Angeles (you won’t find movie stars on the subway), but the Metro still provides the glimpse into the lives of someone else.

Yesterday, a girl – probably in her late teens or early twenties – boarded the train with her boyfriend and an older gentleman.  Their clothing were tattered and dirty; it didn’t seem like they showered in awhile.  They fulfilled the stereotypical image of the cast-offs of society.  Everyone around them avoided eye contact and were annoyed (slightly intrigued) when their actions were not “what you’re supposed to do in public.”

Sitting there, just observing this trio, I noticed the girl had cutting scars on the top of her left arm.  I wasn’t surprised.  I kept thinking to myself, not out of pity but from genuine curiosity, “What happened to this girl?  How bad is the pain in her life?”

& – – – – //

About three years ago, I met someone who would change my life.  She has so many of the qualities that I wish I had; she is full of life and laughter, finds amusement in the simplest things, precocious, and not cynical about the world around her.  When she sees me, her face is the greatest expression of pure love.  When she cries, I want to fix everything that is wrong with world so she doesn’t have to cry anymore.

She’s one of my best friends and she’s only three-years-old.

I remember a day in the summer of 2006 when she helped me cope with the death of my former boss.  The circumstances of his death are still unknown to me and the thought that haunts me most is whether he died alone.  He shut himself off.  He just faded away.  And I feared, “Will that be me?”

Sitting on the couch, I had Iggy* on my lap and just looked at her.  She was about 7 months old then.  Still couldn’t talk or walk or do anything for herself.  Everything was still new for her.  Blank slate.  I started crying and thought, “How do we get so screwed up?  How do we get from Point A to Point Fucked-Up?”

I made a promise to myself and to her that day.  I promised not to let all the downs in life prevent me from living my life.  I want to help show this little new person that things don’t have to be so bad.

& – – – – //

That day with Iggy flashed in my mind when I was watching the girl on the subway.  How did she get from being just like Iggy to where she was now?

A few stops later, a mother boards the train.  She’s pushing a stroller with a three-year-old girl in it.  The child has no hair, a scar on the top of her head, and patient-identificaton bracelets on her right wrist.  They sit across from Subway Girl and her two male companions.  And I find myself asking, once again, “What has happened to this girl?  How bad is the pain in her life?”

Such an interesting juxtaposition of humanity, really.   Subway Girl with her self-inflicted scars sitting across a child, around Iggy’s age, with scars designed to help save her.  And I realize, maybe the two are not that different.  The world puts us through so many trials and heartbreaks and beatings that maybe it’s just a straight line from Point A to Point F.  And maybe, by the time we get to Point F, some are just too tired to keep going.

When Subway Girl stood to exit the car, she wished the mother to have a good day.  It was sweet and soft and heart-felt.  And I saw a small glimmer of hope.

Maybe there’s still hope for her to get to someplace past Point F.  Maybe there’s hope for all of us.

Two Steps Forward, One and a Half Steps Back

Seems to be the way my life feels these days.  Any achievements made in the past two years have almost been completely backtracked.  I have no one to blame but myself.

There is always a pattern that emerges from my daily life.  I coast.  I’ve been coasting since the minute I figured out that I didn’t have to put in 100% effort to get more-than-enough results.  Some things came easy for me so I lacked any incentive to try harder.  The things that didn’t hold my attention just got put to the back-burner.

It’s the story of my life.

I admit now that I wish I were different.  I wish I could wake up tomorrow and find all my issues gone.  I wish to wake up a different person and I don’t know how to feel about that.

I guess the best way to describe my mood is indifference.  Or maybe even disappointment.  I am not happy, obviously.  But I do not think that I am sad.  I go through the list in my head and start on the road to change.  But I stop a quarter of the way and just go back to what is comfortable.  I am too comfortable.

Gods, I wish things were different.

“Get Out of My Brain”

I am sure that this topic has been explored by a variety of Women’s Studies essays and daytime talk shows, but I wanted to touch upon this after sharing a couple blog entries with a friend.

When are girls taught to hate themselves?*

I refuse to believe that this is an innate state that we are born with; this kind of destructive thinking is taught and acquired.  So, when does this happen?  Why does it happen?

Is it the media culture that shows us what type of “beauty” is acceptable?   We are bombarded with images of size 0 women with perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect bust- and waist-lines and we then look ourselves in the mirror and hate what we see.  But an interesting phenomenon is the fact that few of those women who have that “perfect” image looking back at them may feel the same way as, well, I do.

Why is that?

Another observation–why do women need the validation from others (mostly males) before they believe when they are told the obvious (that they’re gorgeous)?

In my short life, I have accomplished a lot.  I’ve graduated from high school, earned a bachelor’s degree from an esteemed university, and, recently, was accepted to law school.  But without “a man in my life,” I still feel like a disappointment, I still feel like I’ve failed.  Why?

When did I start hating myself?  Why can’t I accept the compliments given to me?  Why is it easier to believe the bad things that I say about myself, from a completely subjective standpoint, and disregard the opinions of others, who are a little more objective?

And even knowing all of this–why do I still fall into the same trap?

—-

*Note: I am aware that this may not be isolated to just females, but this is a topic that seems to dominate the discourse when discussing women’s “issues.”

wishing on a star out of reach

Is it wrong to wish for something (seemingly) larger than yourself?

For as long as I can remember, I always wished for a different life than the one that I found myself living at any particular moment. I’m not unique in this manner, I am sure. How many of us are dissatisfied with our lives, or even ourselves? So I would dream for the impossible, the unattainable, the larger-than-life dreams that I keep only to myself. Because, at the very least, I can believe (lie to myself?) that I was worth it all.

But, I found that it gets dangerous when I let my dreams, my wishes run away from me.  The lines between reality and imagination start to blur and I end up being disappointed in how things turn out.  I break my own heart.

Even worse, I start to take inventory on all the reasons WHY I do not have the life I want.  I know some things are out of my control, since I am not in any kind of life situation that would lead to some specific dreams (for example, being married to a famous actor).  But other circumstances within my realm of control–that is where I get myself in trouble.  That is when I start to doubt myself and my self-worth.  That is where I start to hate myself.

Is it wrong to wish for something larger than myself, if wishing in such a way leads to the inevitable destruction of some piece of me?

I know the answer is “Yes.”  But, I still live in denial of it all.

“Help, I have done it again…”

I have been having a hard time lately with the way I see myself.  Somehow, I am back to where I started in regards to my self-esteem.

 I know that it shouldn’t matter how much I weigh or what I look like because I am a good person.  I was beginning to believe that.  But when I look at pictures of my body, when I look in the mirror, all I can see is the features that disgust me (and I’m sure others).  I feel shameful, I feel…ugly.

How do I go out in public like that?  How can I face myself in the morning?  What in the hell was I thinking?

 I wish I could get rid of these thoughts.  I wish I could love me for exactly who I am and what I look like.  But it’s so hard trying to reverse years and years of conditioning, of thinking how I think.  And it’s so hard to allow myself to be happy because I equate all my unhappiness with how I look.

 Is this shallow?  Probably.  But this is the internal struggle that seems to keep coming up in my life.  I hope to God it stops; I hope to God I win.

Most of the time, I just wish I could wake up as a different person…or not wake up at all.