On the calmer days lately, you know when you’re having a good day or good phase of your life, you kind of think, wow, I remember having such a bad phase and feeling so frustrated and easily stressed by everything, including other people’s problems and the world, but it’s almost hard to imagine what it was like because I feel so chill and okay in this moment?

I’ve definitely been chiller lately, but today with some of the crashes and yelling, just like that brought back with ease a bunch of memories and buried tension and a taste of the major anxiety I’d tried to run away from forever.

It made me think, oh well, this is why that happened and why I felt that way for so long.  Like there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.  No way out.

#Bummedstatus

I think it’ll eventually be better though.  It has to.  Focus, focus, focus.

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Storytime: That Time I Got Robbed and Other Musings on Gratitude and Empathy

~StoryTime~

There was this one time when my parents and I were on vacation in Canada and my mom and I had gotten into a fight the previous night; I was about maybe twelve years old.   The next morning, we ate at the hotel complimentary breakfast with the expected aftermath of awkwardness in the air- I kept my eyes lowered to shield my puffy red eyes under my hat.  There weren’t many other people around, but I remember seeing two tanned men sitting near us at the next table.  I was in a foul mood, angry with the world and still upset at something my mom had said earlier; my feeling ashamed reflected clearly in my flushed face.

I was so lost in my own world of sulky thoughts that I only barely took notice that my mom had left the table to get more food.  Soon after, my dad also got up to head to an aisle leading to the men’s room, leaving me alone.  The next minute, I was whipped out of my thoughts by a man who approached me, pointing furiously towards the direction my dad had left in and jabbering in a foreign language.  His panic was infectious.  The first thing that came to my mind was that something had happened to my dad: he had a heart attack, he had passed out, there was a fire.  I hesitated and stood up as the man bolted off – confused, I wondered if I should follow him or call the police.

Next thing was my mom’s alarmed voice; she had come back and immediately exclaimed, “Where’s my bag?!”

I glanced around to the chairs around me, and only saw mine.  That was the moment  I realized that I had been hoodwinked.  The men who were sitting near us were gone.  The police arrived and questioned us, and after watching the security footage, confirmed that the two men had dashed out the backdoor.  The police told us that it was one of a few cases that had happened recently in the neighborhood hotels in the same exact fashion.  The next hour was filled with my mom calling various places to cancel her credit card accounts, phone accounts, and anything else the police advised her to do.  My mom’s camera, phone, and unfortunately, more than half a thousand dollars cash had been in her favorite bag.  She said she had forgotten to remove all the cash since her recent trip to Taiwan where she wanted to exchange some of it for Taiwanese money.

The shock that had hit all of us that early afternoon had us immediately forget, or rather, let go of any ill feelings harbored towards each other.  I remember feeling a mixture of emotions.  I felt guilty that I had not watched our things more carefully, that I had so naively been fooled by that guy, who must’ve distracted me to one side so that his accomplice could grab my mom’s bag to the other side of me.  I felt a bit regretful that so much money had been lost, especially since my younger parents worked hard to save up money.

I also felt tremendous relief that nothing in fact, had happened to my dad; he was okay.  My mom was okay, I was okay, we were all okay.  Nobody had held me at gunpoint or knifepoint threatening to kill us if we hadn’t handed over our possessions.

I also felt the weight of grudges just a couple hours ago melt into incredible gratitude, realizing by comparison the full pettiness of my sulky world.  One argument was a bad grain of sand in the spectrum of our lives.  Even though I don’t count myself as particularly religious, I remembered thinking that this incident must have been God’s reminder to me to wake up and understand that much worse things could happen at any given time.

We really tend to see what we don’t have, and what others do have.  Even on days where I’m in tremendous pain physically or emotionally, or my car broke down,  I would just think, if only I didn’t have to deal with this shit.  How much better the day would be if I just wasn’t in pain, if the car just worked and I could get to my friend or my groceries.  That’s how we see that the ordinary, “boring” events are actually extraordinary.

Today, some tragedy could’ve happened that left my family homeless.  Today, I could be so destitute that I don’t have enough money to buy dinner.  Today, I could’ve lost a loved one.  Today, I could’ve found out someone I loved didn’t love me back anymore.  Today, I could be feeling so depressed that I want to kill myself.  Today, I could be lying in the hospital again, just wishing that I could sleep in my own bed and get a hot shower.

Today, none of those things happened, and I did get to feed myself, sleep in my own bed, and take a hot shower.

I was in the car the other day and musing over the whole “glass half full, glass half empty” cliche.  Maybe we’re missing the point when we look at it that way.  Maybe the truth to finding Zen and acceptance of everything around us, including the shitty parts, is to see the glass itself.  That the glass exists at all.  That we have a glass.  That we have water at all.  It could all so easily be nothing, just empty space floating into more nothingness.


-Just a passing thought about how to find happiness and peace since that is something I’ve struggled with my whole life.

Reminder though, that even though we should strive to be more appreciative and notice all that we do have, it’s still okay to let yourself feel the sad parts too.  We’re wrapped up in a society that expects us to feel fine all the time or try to get us there (“Feel better!” “You’ll be okay” “I’m sorry” other crap etc.).  Is that true healing?  No.  You have to walk through the tunnel to get to the other side, there is no shortcut.  You can’t magically Apparate or sprout wings over the tunnel.  What we can do for each other?  For true empathy, be there for one another.  Rather than a “Feel better”, I want to live in a society where we hold each other’s hand.  We offer an embrace, we tell them yes, what they’re going through sucks, but I’m here for you.  I will walk with you through the tunnel.  You’re not alone.

There’s a difference between finding pleasure in sulking in misery, and brushing off any pain like it’s nothing.  Validation, entitlement, to your feelings… I guess it’s a bit of a fine line sometimes depending on perspective.  There’s a balance.

I’ll admit that this is one of my faults too.  I’m a hypocrite, because I have told people to “feel better” before.  Because when I feel their burden, I just can’t.  I can’t even handle my own burdens sometimes.  “Put the oxygen mask over yourself before helping others put their masks on” <— wise words of a flight attendant.  But I’m working on it, and I wish more people would just give more of a shit to be honest.


Today’s Obsessions (Music):

-Heaven by Julia Michaels

-Sacrifice  by Black Atlas & Jessie Reyez

-Wait by Maroon 5

Thoughts on Morality (Shower Post #4)

I think it’s a fair thing to say that the more we get older, the more jaded we get- we have less patience, we have less faith in others, we become more cynical or realistic, depending on your perspective.  I think for me, I have definitely become more cynical/realistic with age.  Whenever I go through something difficult, I think, why does no one know or feel my suffering?  Why does it feel like I am even more isolated and alone?  Instead of having faith in others, we fear reaching out because we don’t trust that anyone actually cares, or sincerely cares.  I think this is the logical path that people follow that can lead them to such a dark place, to the point of even suicide.  At this point, it seems like your life doesn’t count anyway, and it won’t matter.

For me, I get frustrated because in chronic illness, the suffering doesn’t end.  It’s not like a cold or a break up where your circumstances may improve eventually; they don’t.  You do.  Your mind sinks or swims.  And then I hide my fears because I’ve had it proven countless times to me that in the end, it seems I am the only one who can fully do anything about what I am going through.  Besides my dad and sometimes my mom and a few close friends, I am pretty much alone.  Almost no one else is there beside you every second living your life, observing it, experiencing, as much as you, having that strength of endurance.  People will enter and leave your life, maybe be a blessing even for the short run, but they can always fade at any given time.

We are all so scared of showing vulnerability, of laying out our cards and letting everyone else judge us, embrace us, or reject us.  Especially when we go on social media like Facebook and Instagram, and we are flooded by images of hot, fit bodies, attractive portraits of people laughing, having the time of their lives with their significant other on their vacation, surrounded by friends, or eating delicious food.  It is true that the positives and highlights are part of our lives, but they are only a small snapshot of the entire rhetoric.  Our whole society encourages us to hide our insecurities and to only portray our best selves, but it isn’t always the whole picture, the whole truth.

I do the same.  I only put up pics of my happiest moments of when I look good on Instagram.  It does make me feel better to take pride and look at these images and tell myself “Wow, my life is not bad!”  It does make me feel more or less validated when I get many likes.  But I also wish to be brave enough to allow myself to receive likes on my ugliest, saddest, most depressing snapshot of my life- even more so, I want to be brave enough to be okay with no likes if that’s what happens.  I may be afraid of judgment, or of dragging down other people’s happiness- but so what?  We gotta inject some sincerity and realism in what’s really going on in our lives, to show others our scars so that they can be more accepting and forgiving of theirs.

People don’t see me through the moments where doctors discuss my life span and ask deep cutting questions like “Have you ever had suicidal thoughts” and me, reluctantly admitting “yes.”  People don’t see me when I wake up in the morning and count the amount of meds I daily pop into my mouth or inhale.  People don’t see me when I am at home, physically and mentally too tired to complete simple tasks like laundry.  I fight everyday to live a fraction of energy and memories that others take for granted.

Maybe part of this is my fault, for not being more open, and for withholding part of the truth, I actually get more judged than not, because people see a “normal” young woman abusing a handicap sign, people see my beaming grins on my Insta, and people see me when I am trying my absolute best to participate happily in life.

I guess for me, faced with the morality of my being, and always reminded of how small of a drop of water I am in the ocean, I keep questioning, how do I make my life count?  It is not going to last forever, but that is out of my hands.

What I wish, is for people to think more on this question, on how they impact others, and to be part of a greater plan for us all to have faith that if we fall, the ones around us care enough to catch us, as cheesy as that metaphor is.  To come to terms with our true selves and the imperfection we are- taking pride in our strengths, accepting our flaws and vowing to work on improving them.  So that we give encouragement and faith to others, and in turn can let ourselves fall in faith.  Knowing that we are trying our best, even if that’s not what it looks like, even when others tell us we are crying wolf and victimizing ourselves, them telling us we’re fine, but us knowing for ourselves that we are not okay, and knowing that continuing to do our best is okay, it is enough.

Spiraling Down Confessions

The other day, I spoke very freely about my therapist and some of the medications I’m on, and I was speaking to a couple friends that I consider myself close with.  Then they casually mentioned their therapist, and it caught me by surprise because all this time, I had never heard them mention it before.  But then again, neither had I.  And the thought occurred to me that it was the mental health stigma that keeps us all wary, even if subconsciously.  I know I always fear being judged even by friends when I do decide to mention it, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m insane or I have some issues they don’t want to be a part of. In college, I had some really deep talks with people I’m not even friends with anymore- you’d be surprised how many people confess to you in private that they are struggling and attend therapy, or feel they need it.

But why do we fear judgment so deeply?  Therapists are wonderful listeners, and they always help me talk out my problems and find the light at the end of the tunnel, after figuring out first what kind of tunnel it is.  Literally anyone could use a therapist, even if they’re doing relatively okay.  That freedom of having someone who is solely there as an objective source to help sort out the mess your mind is in itself priceless.  Especially some dudes, who are worried they don’t seem “macho” if they admit they have emotions and personal issues.  Which one is harder, acting like you don’t have a problem, or talking about it?  Then maybe consider growing a pair, or rather, shrinking your pair so you can become a woman, because women are probably much stronger in that regard.  How do you expect to improve if you can’t even admit the problem exists?

What I wish to work on, is freeing myself of the fear of judgment by others.  How nice would it be to honestly not care?  For me, I go through this constant cycle where I’m sort of okay, to just discontent and dissatisfied, to full out emo, to pretending I do not actually exist and tuning out to become as much of a vegetable as possible.  Struggling with depression ain’t easy.  Just yesterday, I had said one of my goals was to try to be less jealous of others, and have less pity parties.  But literally today, was one of those days where you wake up in a half charged mode in fighting spirit, and every accomplishment or fun experience someone else near you is having feels like a straight up diss to your face, as it was a reminder and reflection of how unswimmingly your own life is going.

I go through these modes where one incident triggers my depression, and then the following incidents, which could literally be anything, build on that, and I start to slip and spiral downwards into a deep, dark hole.   What is the point of doing anything?  People don’t care.  People are terrible.  People suck.  Life feels empty and meaningless.  We all die at the end anyway.  I’m unhappy- how do I make myself unhappy?  What is the solution here?  A lot of it ends up just being strengthening your mindset and ability to overcome.  But every so often, when these triggers happen, I start to think “fuck, not again.”  I’m so tired of being so tired, and sick of being sick, and repeating, rewinding my mood.

Why is it so hard to be happy?  How do I learn to own myself by sharing and being open about my life?  I’m worried nobody wants to be burdened, nobody wants to listen.  I wish I could just think, “Please, I honor you with my presence and my words” but what I’m thinking is “Please don’t judge me.  Please stay.”

 

Disney + Worries

So… my family is planning a trip to Harry Potter World and Disney and I’m simultaneously excited yet super anxious.

The biggest hurdle is that my therapist suggested that I start using a wheelchair of some sort so that I can avoid becoming exhausted to the point of major discomfort and fatigue, and tense muscles.  I had never considered using a wheelchair before, and the hypocrisy that is me, is that when I see other people in wheelchairs, I don’t think much of it, yet when I think of ME in it, I am riddled with a million feelings: perhaps

Shame, that I have to submit to a wheelchair and can’t make it on my own two legs,

Guilt, that I don’t really deserve to use a wheelchair and am a “fake” illness person (doesn’t help that tons of other people have doubted my illness over the years), and that my family will have an extra task to do in pushing me around,

Embarrassment when I have another extra thing to make me feel different, and perhaps

Relief and Hope too, that this might be much better of an arrangement for me energy-wise, if I could only wrap my head around accepting it.  The truth is, my whole life I’d lived in the mindset that my lungs were going to eventually heal and become “normal” when I reached adulthood aka college, yet I was slammed with the ugly reality when I switched over to an adult doctor, who told me I should be prepared for lung transplant evaluation instead.

My whole life, I’d been competing with people functioning at full capacity, when it was literally not possible.  And even after the sad realization, I could not bear to face the reality that it was, and continued to live in doubt and silence.

After a few years of therapy now, which I started on and off 3 years ago, I think I’m becoming better at shifting my perspective to a more positive one, but it’s still a really long and bumpy road.  I have to expect that most healthy people, especially ones at my age, will simply not get it, or even have the patience to try to get it, because they have their ableist privilege, and all I can do is control my own mentality.

The list could go on forever for all the rough moments in my life when other misguided people mistreated me and misunderstood me, believing I was taking advantage, or lying, “playing a victim”, or one thing or another, just because there was no visible evidence in their eyes.  And it caused me to continue to doubt my own capabilities and limits as well for a long time.  But now I realize that you do not let other people’s ignorance hurt your own knowledge and perseverance. You are not any less just because you were given less spoons.

I have to learn to forgive people and move on, because for a long time honestly, I’ve let myself get caught up in the unfairness of it all, and the rudeness of others causing me so much hurt and pain.  No more.

Acceptance in Mind, Heart, and Soul

I often find it difficult to understand how people have that kind of faith in God or a bigger picture.  I want to make sure I try to obtain that kind of peaceful acceptance in my heart, without stopping to fight for the way I want to live, my right to be who I want to be and who I am, and becoming complacent by giving it up to fate or that it’s “out of my hands” and “God’s will.”

I think the people in this world who are angry, hurt, and who struggle with depression and anxiety, see all the misery that is the world’s suffering, and we feel it more deeply, to a point where it is near unbearable levels.  That’s some of us fall prey to alcohol and drugs, anything at all to numb the pain, even if it ends in self destruction.

This week, I’ve started my four-day lung transplant evaluation tests at UPenn.  I’m 24 years old, and I’m somehow simultaneously used to but also feeling misplaced standing in the waiting room with the other 60+ year olds.  I was wheeled in a wheelchair for a 6 min walk test, and one of the technicians said to me, “You’re too young to be here.”  I just laugh it off and say it’s okay, I’m basically an old person.

I don’t fit in with peers in my age group.  I don’t know how to at least pretend I fit in, and chuckle lightheartedly at moments in life like just silly things with friends.  I might as well be socially the same as a hermit in the mountains, with a long beard in a dark stone cave.  I have to relearn it each time I try to really interact with civilization again.  I’m awkward.  No denying it haha.

Instead of wallowing and focusing on how pitiful I am in everything I’m going through/about to go through, I’m trying to focus on the positive: my inner strength, the inner strength of every journey and experience that’s made me who I am today.  My Asian heritage, I am an example of what immigrants go through, what it’s like to grow up and live in America.  My struggles and experiences as a woman, my eyes have opened up to the inequality and the things that are really not okay.   From how guys sometimes treat me, from the subtle to the obvious.  Being manipulated, getting hit on sexually, or finding out that a guy hooked up with your friend while pretending to go after you while you were ill.  All of that shit.  All of it.  #metoo.  I feel the weight of it all right now.  But I’m still standing here, because I’m empowered by the strength of the people around me.  We’re in this together, we’re fighters, and that’s what life is about too.

I have to find the strength to endure it all, and keep trying anyway, despite constant setbacks and constant misunderstandings and judgment by people who are blinded by their privilege.  I need to overcome my own judgment of me.  And I want them to want to be better versions of themselves, because I see the potential.  If I didn’t, I would have given up on myself a long time ago.

A Break Up

While I don’t claim to be perfect, in fact far from it, (read this post on Empathy, which makes me feel the burden of the world in addition to my own..), I refuse to lower my standards and expectations of the people I surround myself with.  Ever hear the philosophy that you are judged and influenced by the people you’re friends with?  That’s true.  More than ever.  I want you to at the very least, want to change for the better.  The beauty of never being able to reach perfection is that there is always, always, room for improvement and growth.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t expect to surround myself with  “perfect” people- I expect us to grow together.  But what does one do when you actually feel like your own growth is stunted by others?  And if one is too “forgiving” or too accepting of the status quo, too content, too stagnant, how does anyone know how much more potential they can reach?  I’m dissatisfied because others are too complacent with themselves.

Then comes the frustration, but also the acceptance that we can’t force people to change if they don’t want to, as I am constantly reminded this past year.

I feel a bit like a failure, because regarding myself, I’m not sure I added much happiness or growth to anyone else’s life that I met this year – did I make a difference, a positive impact in their lives?  I don’t know, but I hope so.  Sometimes, we don’t always get to see the fruits of our labor and the ripple effect of the ripple we dropped in the water.

But at the end of the day, I’m burnt out, I gave it my all, and I have no regrets.  It started out good, but now I don’t know what the point of my presence is here anymore… It’s time to let go and break up.  At least for the time being.

I’ll be alone.  But I’ve felt alone for awhile now anyway.

Accessibility and Judgment at Broadway

Today, I want to talk about one of the reoccurring experiences I still struggle with accepting and going through, and that is first of all, how the lack of accessibility and modification of transportation in NYC is a huge detriment to many people who need it to get around and get opportunities.  Second of all, being strong enough to withstand judgment from others, whether friends or strangers, on your invisible needs, and probably getting judged for it.

One thing I constantly have to be conscious of is how quickly I use up my spoons for the day.   I modified some of my plans to tailor it to my needs, such as taking the train station in that is direct into the city.  Second of all, I decided in the cause of preserving my energy, I used the elevator once I got into Penn Station.  Third of all, even though I ran into a minor bump by trying to order a Lyft, and then ending up taking a taxi, I met up with my friends and got my taco as well.  The broadway show Cats was a little weird since I felt there was no plot, but nevertheless I enjoyed the experience.

I was a bit tired, but during intermission went to seek out the handicap bathroom in which I found myself in a line of mostly elderly people with bad hips and canes.  I knew I looked like I didn’t belong there, but I also knew in my mind and heart that I deserved to be there and it was my right to use that bathroom.  What wore me down a little was a few ushers swinging by, looking right at me and speaking mostly directly to me that they “highly encourage those who are capable of taking the stairs to do so with the one downstairs”… after the second time, I got a bit defensive and exhausted, and told them there was a reason why I was using that bathroom in particular.

It was also annoying that the old lady in front of me invited another older man to cut in front to use the bathroom…  I let him do so, but I wasn’t sure if it was out of kindness or guilt that I didn’t belong there.

Later on, we quickly racked up prices in using Uber to get around to the udon restaurant… It sucks that this is an extra price to pay as someone who has disability conditions, much like a woman having to pay for tampons and other needs just because she’s born with a vagina and menstruation cramps.

The world isn’t fair, and we have to try to find the courage to speak up for ourselves and for others.  Acceptance is key, and I’m on my way there before I can embrace it and fight for the rights that we are entitled to.

Fears

My deepest fears?

I die forgotten and alone, never having made a positive impact on anyone in the world before I leave.

The realization that I will either lose someone I love deeply or they will lose me first- one of them has to happen.

That I will never feel like I deserve to be loved or accepted.

That I don’t have the energy or strength to go through the next phase of suffering.

That I bring more hurt and pain to someone I fall in love with than I should.

What I Learned in Taiwan

That year had been particularly rough on me, and I remember being on a bus in a desperate attempt to swig away my sorrows at TCNJ Senior Night, texting on a whim confirmation to my parents to sign me up for school in Taipei.  I was and am always hesitant and doubtful of new and scary experiences, but my grief momentarily blinded me from worrying, and it ended up being one of the best. decisions. ever.  Not knowing what to expect, my mom and I hopped on a plane in late May, and our first days of exploring the campus of National Taiwan Normal University excited me endlessly.  My mom finally coped enough to leave me to my independence after two or three weeks, and that week and a half was the funnest ever.  Sure, there were moments where I was so exhausted I was just barely able to move to buy myself dinner, and sure, the dorm’s strict curfew of 11:30pm was annoying, but for the most part, I was content to be able to manage my life without feeling so restricted.  Among the highlights of my trip were:

    1. Visiting my moms’ old friend’s village, which felt like a town in a Miyazaki film.  Her sweet and kindhearted family can COOK.
    2. Meeting up with my TCNJ friend Lauren at Danshui and having the MOST MAGICAL BUBBLE TEA at a cute cafe
    3. Going to Beitou Hot Springs and trying to compete against stolid old people by sitting in boiling water on a 90+ degree summer day- guess whose fingers were prunier?? Yeah, we didn’t win.
    4. Typhoon night where I huddled in my dorm with two yams from 7-Eleven
    5. Attending a 12 Cellos concert, courtesy of my aunt (phenomenal performance) in Kaohsiung
    6. Meeting new people, eating and bonding on mini-trips

During these mini travels, after months of therapy was I able to muster the courage to communicate my needs to new friends.  I tried to mask my shaky confidence as I explained what I needed: their understanding in walking slowly with me because it was hard for me.  I still remember the fear I felt bringing it up to my friend Nio as I walked with him and another guy through the streets, realizing if I didn’t say something soon I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I was tired.  Surprisingly, without blinking or giving me any side look of pity, Nio said “Sure,” slowed down and casually asked me what my condition was.  A heavy weight lifted from my shoulders, and I felt acceptance.  What I learned was that as inconvenient as conditions like mine were and as rare as awesome people are to find, they exist. And sometimes you have to forgive yourself and distinguish yourself from your chronic conditions, and take a leap of faith in opening up.  Recognize that sometimes, you are not the problem.