Insecurities

It’s come to a point in my life where I feel like I’m living two lives.  I try really hard lately not to separate the two, but there are always certain moments that so clearly remind me how there often feels like two separate realities.

When I’m alone playing Toon Blast or Youtubing, it’s pretty chill now actually.  Sometimes when I’m stressed, being alone made it worse, but lately because I have work and some sort of rhythm to my daily schedule, being alone is now nice to unwind.  I find ironically, that the moments that remind me most of my circumstances is when I’m at a party and hearing them talk about their lives.  Although my confidence has definitely grown throughout the years, the insecurities suddenly make themselves apparent through the most subtle and casual conversations. Couples outnumber the single members, and all the talk surrounds wedding dates and engagement plans.  I find I have nothing to contribute, and I’m also feeling insecure that my personality does not blend in seamlessly with theirs.  I always feel like I’m the misfit in any group, and sometimes I really think it’s a me problem, and not a general “it is what it is.”  Perhaps I am not engaging enough, outgoing enough, I don’t have that spark that naturally draws people to me.

And while everyone chatters happily about their career, their significant others, their last trip abroad, my mind browses quickly through what my own contributions to the conversation could be, and it comes up with all negatives.  Yes, I can say I have a job now, but it still feels like it’s not enough.  I start to think there’s something wrong with me.  Part of me is too introverted, the other part just doesn’t have the energy, literally, to make my presence known and memorable.  I’m the floater who’s sometimes there, but no one would miss me if I wasn’t.

And if you really wanted to know what’s going on with me.  I’ve been going to therapy to become comfortable with the idea of my decreasing health and that I must become mentally prepared to die, whether that’s in the next year, 5 years, or 10.  How’s that for a party downer?  Even as my own friend is talking about her wedding, this thought seeps into my head, what if I don’t even make it to your wedding?

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STRESS: Blegh -not-feeling-grateful Days

I want to write a wise journal entry today about how I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, food to eat always, and my family, friends, and still some independent ability, but all I feel is negativity.  Not depression at its worst as I’ve felt before, but on a scale of happiness, it definitely drooped more.  Especially considering it’s summer and should be the highlight period of my year.

Let me jolt down some actual and pessimistic thoughts and conditions lately:

  • I felt very frustrated and angry that someone at work falsely accused me of abusing my grandmas handicap placard to HR. First off, one grandma is deceased and the other is halfway across the world.  I felt very wronged and misjudged, and not even able to confront the situation as I don’t know who reported me.  I felt angry that with all the shit I’m dealing with, I have to justify my legal use of trying to help myself out and make life just a tad easier.  I also would rather not be short of breath and constantly exhausted that I have to take a poorly paid part time job. This incident has made all my other issues affected by my illness amplified, and I am aware that I am in a poor attitude mode these days and have been very short tempered with my mom, and barely tolerating incompetent or creepy people at work. Guilt- the definition of feeling and hearing someone’s elses feelings and thoughts louder than your own, and them fighting in your brain.
  • Leading to my next point, I also would rather not have to go to Upenn every single month and do a bunch of unpleasant tests like bloodwork, cat scans, following up and scheduling with doctors, going to a psychiatrist, therapist, taking 10 diff kinds of meds each day, and also having other symptoms exacerbated by my weak body.  Trust me, I want to appreciate my body that I have one at all and appreciate any functions it does have, but right now, I just want to complain about all the bullshit I deal with.
  • Relationships and Weddings:
    • Everyone around me is in or getting into a relationship, and it feels like their lives are all planning or moving on towards the next step:  moving in, getting engaged, getting married.  I want to feel confident in my singleness, but I don’t.  It’s kind of gotten to me and made me feel left behind even more so in all the other ways I feel left behind, and I wonder if it’s me or just the circumstances that I happen to not be in a relationship.  I went to a bbq this past weekend and literally there was only couples there, besides me and my bestie.  Possibly 3 other single people, out of 30-40 people.  Also, my friend is planning her birthday, and my entire friend group asked if they could bring their significant others.
    • Making the “left behind” feeling worse, I realize that while I am grateful to be a part of anyone’s lives at all, I also feel shitty that some friends I thought I was at least decently close with in college haven’t invited me to their wedding- I was told not to take it personally, but it just reminded me of all the times growing up and in high school where I struggled to find solid friends, and how I was always the one on the fence that people thought of maybee inviting to their parties and events.
    • On the other hand, it made me worry even MORE that if I were to be chosen to be part of someone’s bridesmaid or maid of honor, would I even be up to the task?  I may be too busy taking care of my health to even make it to their wedding or event, and that makes me unreliable (my health, but aka me).  It’s not fair, and I really want to do those things for one of my friends.  And my best friend isn’t even planning on dating or getting married, so I don’t even get to 100% be someone’s maid of honor -_-
    • I’m thinking, am I going to literally live with my parents and depend on them forever?  For awhile it felt like that was an okay situation, but then my mom would say little things here and there that would add up, and make me feel a little nuts and wish there was some space between us where I could have more independent choices, and not constantly have to put up with another opinion on my clothes, etc.
    • I had a major headache at the bbq this past weekend, and so I didn’t enjoy myself or socialize much with anyone at all.  It was all I could do to be present at the bbq at all.  I was so tired and just wanted to be out of the house and have a break from my house and parents.  I went to Upenn today, and had a fever of 99.8, and even though my cat scan shows that the cavity walls around my hole in my left lung is thinner aka less inflammation, the lungs have slowly but surely been progressively deteriorating.  So it’s like I’m falling down a giant decline on a mountain and this news was just a slight rock hop before continuing screaming and falling down the decline.
    • I want to break down and cry, and I feel all this pressure and tension inside my head and my neck and shoulders, but it’s not coming out.  It’s stuck.  I had an upset stomach and also my nose started bleeding again, and although it’s a bit dramatic I feel like my body is falling apart all over the place.  I literally just fixed my yeast infection and eye dryness.  There isn’t even anyone that I can target all my pain and anger at, that I can just direct a giant “FUCK YOU’ to.  It’s just luck, fate, whatever.
    • Trying to be mindful of human nature and not getting too greedy with what I want.  Two months ago, my main goal and source of happiness would be to just get hired for a job, any job.  Now I’m tired of it and finding the work very uninspiring and feeling like I’m undervalued and just doing bullshit repetitive work.  I suppose this is normal, and at least a “normal” problem to be stressed about.  But then I think about what could’ve been, how far my potential could be, and how I will probably never know because I am constantly being limited by my body.

Mundane Update on Terminal Illness and Such

It’s summer, and it’s usually where I’m doing relatively well, as well as I could be doing for my condition anyway  (COPD).  I have a part-time job that is manageable, and it’s as normal to normal as it can be – I have a set schedule of waking up around 8:20am everyday and coming home by 4pm to rest, eat dinner, prep, rest, repeat.  Even the pill popping at night has become a pretty standard routine that doesn’t bother me much. I stay busy physically and mentally, but then comes the visits to Upenn every month or so for fv1 testing, and sometimes it’s okay, some other days it’s less okay.  The past week, I’d been trying to obtain a note from my lung transplant team verifying the medical needs of staying with the same psychotherapist who treats me with anxiety and follows me on my chronic illness journey; we hope to get a single case agreement with the new insurance company.

Sometimes I get a bit of a panic wondering what it would be like with me surviving an illness that limits me in so many ways, financially, physically, etc. The only thing I can control is my emotions and mentality, so that’s what I’ve been trained to focus on.  What if my parents weren’t there for me to depend on?  Nobody else would care.  My nurse practitioner wrote me a medical note that I could give to the insurance company, and in it it describes me as a very young patient with severe lung disease and one with a “terminal illness.”  It was so weird to read that part.  She had warned me she would use some scary words to make her point across.  But what freaked me out later was the realization that she wouldn’t use it to straight up lie– it was at least true and relevant to me even if I felt like I was managing my day-to-days okay.  I am someone they all are monitoring to see when, not if, my progression starts to decline.  But again, I can’t focus on these thoughts because they don’t contribute positively in any shape or form.

For me to be questioned at work when I park in the handicap spot by a co-worker, these things feel so ridiculously unfair.  Yes, I don’t look sick enough.  But yes, in fact, I do not have a mild disease, but a severe one.  I am just young and able to fool people in the short term run.

To end on a good note though, this woman I’d been following who is just a bit older than me with cystic fibrosis (fighting2breathe) was severely ill, on the hospital bed for months in California.  And she received her second lung transplant and looks like she is on the way to recovering.  I am so happy and relieved, and hope that for all her suffering and strength, she is able to have the life she wants, with her husband and future kids like she hopes to have.  That’s her biggest wish, and yet most people around me take those for granted.

I don’t pray to be successful or have anything given to me:  I want the opportunities to be able to become successful on my terms, and the drive and determination to get there regardless.

Reminder to be Thankful: Healthcare, Career, and Other Basic Things Most ppl take for Granted

I’ve started my second week of work, and I remember thinking of my last job and how excited I was just to have a job and be healthy enough to go to work everyday.  After a couple months though, the excitement wore off and the work became mundane- I felt restless and uninspired, not to mention the weather got colder and more difficult for me.

I had this thought at the end of last week that it seemed I was nearing the end of my training and picking up most of what I could pick up at this job and place, but I really hoped that wasn’t the case.  Thankfully, I think I still have a lot to learn, and if I do well and still last here 3-6 months later, maybe I’ll get a raise or they’ll consider moving me to another higher position in data.  Ideally, my image of “making it” career-wise would be to climb up the ladder in terms of data analyst, then data scientist, of which the avg annual income is ~$100,000.  Even though money isn’t everything, it would definitely be one less thing to worry about and would make life a little easier.  My hospital stay for just 8 days last year ended up costing ~$50,000… I don’t know how people are supposed to survive and pay that without insurance in America.  Definitely a huge problem.  It’s inhumane not to provide people with the basic ability of maintaining their health and welfare.

I’m glad that compared to certain peak times of my life, these past months I haven’t had to visit doctors an incredible amount- I have to take off once a month so far, and I try really hard to book my appointments for other things after my work ends, which is possible because it’s part-time.  As I grow older, I become more and more aware of spending money practically, and investing in things I need. Really need.  Like work clothes.  What I WANT are a nice new pair of bose headphones and for my mac computer to have sound again, but so far, I am living life fine without either.  Shout out to you Sean if you’re reading this lmao because I use bluetooth on the sleep machine to get sound when I connect it to the laptop 😀

So what I want to be thankful for now, and what I have to keep reminding myself when I start to feel bored or annoyed that I have to go to work, is that it is a blessing to have the ability to have a job and to make it there everyday.  I remember those cold winter months where I had really bad winter blues and was alone and so frustrated that I was just full-time sick, watching everyone else simply have opportunities to hit their goals.  I don’t need anyone to hand anything to me, I just want the opportunity to earn it.  Because now that I am not down with the flu/cold or my lungs are fucking with me and I can manage my current job so far, I feel confident that I have the drive and the ability to learn and make it to where I want to be.  As long as life doesn’t throw more shit at me (which I know it will), I can do it.  And that is one of the biggest leg ups I have over my competition.  I know what it’s like to simply not be able to try.  When you’ve never known what it’s like to have a chance feel like it’s completely robbed from you, you don’t know anything else except to take it for granted.

I know I’m not earning that much right now.  But it’s a step above not having the ability to earn anything at all.  And even if I get fired now, I already picked up so much on the corporate world in one week, and other random technical jumbo I never thought twice about that impact our lives very much, that it’s okay:  I know it wasn’t a waste of time.  Absorbing knowledge is great 😀  I’m starting to migrate towards analyzing real work this week in their many Excel sheets… my biggest wish is that the learning doesn’t stop here and I’m not stuck doing this for weeks on end, or for the rest of my position there.  Give me a chance to prove what I can bring when illness doesn’t prevent me, and I will kick ass.

Summer plans – Productivity

So I always feel like I’m not doing enough.  For myself, for other people.  It’s a lot of pressure.  I’m consciously making an effort to think of all the things that I AM doing though, and there are a lot of things actually that I’ve worked towards and improved on despite all the other regular shit going on.

  1.  Crisis Textline Volunteer – in the process of being trained.  I already agree with a lot of the things I’m being taught in the guidelines and videos, so that’s a good sign.  I worry that I won’t be able to handle it emotionally and will feel like a failure. But I still think it’s a good challenge to try.   Text HOME to 741741 if you’re looking for support.
  2.  Starting a new job as a Data Entry Specialist this upcoming week- again, feeling like I might be a failure if I can’t hold onto this job or feel sick and end up quitting/getting let go.  But that’s another thing I’m working towards for summer plans, and I hope I at least learn something.
  3. Dating – Yeah, I had an anxiety attack last night thinking that I’ll never find somebody, but I did go on a few dates and it’s probably hit the end of the road in that department for now, but whatever I tried lol yay me.
  4. Seeing friends – I’ve definitely made a huge effort to stay present and updated in my friends’ lives, and I am pretty content with my social life at the moment, which is a rare thing.
  5. Body – I’ve hit my weight goals and also hit the gym 9 times the past month, which was my original goal all year long and I wasn’t able to hit that goal until recently.  I do see mild tricep/bicep lines, but legs and butt still feel like sticks.  Regardless, I’ve also taken up Sunday yoga again and I’m happy I forced myself to do that because it does help more or less.  My parents also go on evening walks and my dad goes on a few runs each week, so I’m also proud of them!

Making Lemonade out of Lemon

Hella cliche I know.  But I was thinking about how the past UPenn hospital visits have only become increasingly difficult, with more doctors from different departments added on each time.  It definitely took off in the “worse” direction around the time I decided to do the lung transplant evaluation.  I was rambling to my friend about making lemonade out of lemon, even if it’s kinda shitty, just to make it edible enough is good enough for me.

I used to be someone who just kind of enjoyed bubble tea.  But now bubble tea has taken on a whole new level of meaning for me.  It’s the reward I looked forward to after my rough appointments and tests.  It’s forever going to be ingrained as a positive memory I will cherish, grabbing Mr. Wish with my dad or my parents, a ritual you could even say.

So with all the rough memories that are occurring in my life, I am still trying my best to balance it out with each visit ending in lemonade, even if sometimes it’s only barely edible.

Create your own silver lining?  It’s damn hard but I’m trying anyway.


On a slightly separate note, I think I’ve finally reached that point where needles don’t completely send me into a near anxiety attack.  It’s my 20th or something blood test/needle in the last year, and now I kinda just stare at the needle in disdain.  Still a bit nervous, but not nervewracking.  You just don’t know how strong you are until you’re forced to challenge yourself consistently.

Dating with a Chronic Illness

My mom has talked to me about what it’s like to live in another country where English is its primary language but not yours.  There are a lot of struggles that I can only imagine, as I am privileged to grow up understanding two different languages and two different cultures.  There are times where they clash, but it was overall still much easier to absorb for me than for her.  There comes the theme of caring less what other people think, and doing what’s best for yourself.  Even though the situations vary for all of us, the feelings are very similar.  Anxiety or worry about how others perceive us, how they judge us.

It frustrated me that it was frustrating for her, and that she could not seem to overcome those feelings.  More relevant, to become more self accepting of myself so that I have the courage to reach for things I want out of life. Particularly with the process of dating and fearing the reception and outcome.  It is really difficult.  But I really have to work on becoming okay with who I am, chronic illness included.  It doesn’t define me, but it definitely affects me in so many ways.

 

On Toxic Relationships: how long do you hold on before giving up?

So… I grew up pretty desperate to have friends.  I didn’t realize this at the time, but wow.  Any friend who would take me, I was pretty happy and excited.  Being homeschooled sucked in that regard- nobody in school really bothered to invest in you as a friendship, so I was invisible.  Even when I was there, I was always so lethargic I don’t know how I made it through looking back now.  And I realized that some people who vaguely knew I had some sort of illness didn’t want any part of me there.  That feeling stayed with me for years, and entering college, I thought freshman year that I had gained some tremendous confidence… but it was fake confidence.

At my core, my confidence was riddled with holes of insecurity, so the foundation was crumbling still, but I didn’t know.  I thought with the fresh start at a new place, I could keep my illness as hidden and buried as deep as possible for as long as I could, and in situations where I had to end up bringing it up, I felt like a torn individual holding my breath, backed up against the wall by their pending judgment.  So… it wasn’t true self acceptance.  Yet.  People thought I was cool, really nice, and even attractive (LOL).  Some people even thought I had dated a lot because I seemed so confident?!  Haaaaaha.

And the time came when I met new friends who were nice to me.  Who seemed to accept me.  I gave all of me, and more into building those relationships… it was exhausting.  I was in a new place, I needed friends to eat meals with, to just hang out with, study with.  I was content to find just one or two solid friends, but hunting was hard when most people were hyped up to party and go nuts, especially the first year.  I wanted to fit in, so I tried.

But I felt burnt out a lot, giving a listening ear even when I was stressed out about my own issues.  I had a ton of music pieces to learn, yet I had this one friend, the first solid friend I found, who often needed my help.  When I first mentioned it to my mom, she warned me not to give away too much help so freely.  Especially my efforts and time.  I didn’t understand what she really meant at the time, and got annoyed.  I felt my mom was too jaded with the world and pessimistic. My friend needed me, so I wanted to prove that I was valuable and worth it.  I didn’t know how to say no, I need to focus on myself right now.  I never said no.

By the third year, I started to get fed up more and more as I noticed this consistent trend where the friendship was a one way street.  She found a boyfriend soon, I was always the leftover one.  She only made time for me if she needed something or if her boyfriend was busy doing something else.  She would out of the blue ask me to grab coffee, and I would excitedly say yes.  But then she would somehow whip out her chinese homework and sweetly ask me what the answers were one by one.  She would ask to study together, then ask me to see my Works Cited page.  She would barge into my room 10 minutes before class started to ask me to use my printer for our senior project class, making me late because I walk slower, multiple times.  The one time my printer actually was malfunctioning and I told her, she got mad at me.

She would say she’s hungry, if I could make ramen for us, and that she would do the dishes. This was the final straw, and the moment I truly burnt out.  Throughout many other examples such as this, I kept trying to convince myself that it was just a phase where she was going through something difficult and really needed me there for her.  I woke up the next day and realized she had not done the dishes, so I grudgingly rolled up my sleeves and did them.  It was this moment where she came out her room and needed to vent about something serious- it was in the morning, and I was not in the mindset to listen, I was tired of our entire friendship to be honest.  I tried to say something helpful, but knew it was useless.  She actually stared at me, then went back into her room and slammed it.  Yes.  Slammed it.

A few nights later, we ran into each other in the art building and decided to talk it out.  I wanted to explain to her for the second time ever that I felt this was a one way friendship a lot of the time.  She got angry with me that I was upset about the dishes not being washed when her problem was more important- I agreed.  But I realized that it was not about the  dishes.  It was the entire friendship that was wearing me down.  She said she felt it was pretty equal, but that she was sorry.  It was always so easy for her to apologize.  After a while, it felt a bit like it had lost its meaning.

I wanted to care about her and be there for her, but I was finding it extremely difficult to juggle on top of everything I was going through on my own.  There were a few moments where she listened to my problems or something, but each time, she would count it.  She would bring it up the next time I tried to explain how I felt and recount how she had done this one thing for me.  I never kept track. It rendered me speechless how she always remembered anything she had done for me and wanted public credit for it (she would ask me if my professor knew she had helped me with an assignment one time… I got a B- on it anyway).

After that talk, a part of me completely burnt out.  During this friendship, it made me paranoid about my other friendships- did I perhaps treat my best friend at home this way?  I tried to look back on our serious talks- all of them had been me ranting or being upset to her, almost never the other way around.  I called her up one night, crying because I was so upset.  I asked her if it felt very one way to her, that it was always me who needed her help.  Even at this, she excelled at comforting me.  She told me, if she ever brought up feeling that way to me, how would I respond?  I said, I would feel so awful.  And she said she knows that if the time ever came when she needed me, she knew she could rely on me to be there in return.  That was probably one of the most comforting responses I’d ever heard in my life.  She told me that while it was important to be there for that friend in school, I was going through a lot of bullshit in my own life.  Was that friend ever truly there for me back?  The answer was not really.

And this was the moment where I wondered… did I hold on enough?  Did I give up on her in a time where she needed someone to hold onto?  Was it selfish of me to let go?  I knew that if I was going through a rough time, I would be so sad if a friend faded away from me.  But what I didn’t realize was that was already kind of the case.

Self care.

Looking back at times, I wondered if perhaps I was too harsh regarding her.  If she wasn’t really that bad, but I was too sensitive and had made it up in my head.

Recently, I realized I went straight the opposite of who I was.  I became the jaded person who tried to care less about relationships with people, especially new ones.  To expect disappointment as an eventual outcome.

The truth is somewhere in between.  There will be disappointment for some of the people you meet in your life.  But not all of them.

You should still keep moving forward.  Still try your best in regards to how you treat people, but also understand reasonably that it’s not likely they will all have your best interests at heart or reciprocate.

My senior year, at our small college I felt that I had met everyone I was likely to become friends and was very close to accepting the fact that I’d be a loner and graduate with no friends.  My therapist at the time encouraged me to keep trying to get to know other people outside of my prior friend group, in which all ties to each other were burnt bridges.  Despite feeling close to certain that there was nobody left and that was probably something perpetually wrong with me that drove people away eventually, I found a really good group of friends that remain strong three years later.  We don’t see each other often, but I know none of them would backstab me or treat me like I was treated.

I should still treasure the friends I have now the way I did, but not to prove my worth as a friend.  Just because I genuinely care and I know both their worth and mine.  I do not deserve to just stick on to anyone who will take me, I deserve more than that.  I can bear to choose who to invest what energy I have in.  At least on my part, I’d like to continue being remembered as the dependable friend.

Prayers for Motivation

I remember growing up, when I blew out my candles I always prayed to be healthy.

Now that I’m older, I try to aim for more realistic prayers… I know there is a high chance I won’t ever get to experience what it’s like to be healthy or “normal”, but I pray instead for the motivation to want to push myself to want to be the best version of myself I can be.  The courage to actually strive towards working my hardest even when I know my ideal version might not ever become a reality.

I feel like my prayers have somewhat been answered lately?  I am far  from who I want to be, yet I actually wake up feeling… motivated.  I’ve been working hard not just to write up what my goals are, but doing them.  Diving headfirst into the world of data science, and going when I am able to the gym, despite knowing it’s going to be a long journey and I will always feel out of breath and never quite “there”.  This is already an improved version of the mentality I used to have, drowning in depression and fighting simply to get through Step 1 of: wake up and feel motivated.

Any haters in the world whose judgment and attitude towards me used to cut me like a knife… turn it into noise

Accomplish, accomplish, accomplish

Beauty of goals is that you can make many, and as soon as you achieve one, you can make new ones.  They could be professional, personal, social, anything.

I’ve been showered with love from my friends this 25th birthday, especially without asking for it.  I feel pretty lucky.

I also feel accomplished that I raised a fundraiser of $100 for WWF, expecting nothing but actually reaching my goal within two days.  Generous friends I have.

Hopefully, this money really goes towards helping the animals in need and helping our planet become just a bit better.


I need to make new goals.  It feels a bit like I had some straightforward goals but fell off the wagon lately.  I’ve been quite busy, considering it’s me and I need many rest days in between events and tasks.

Having gone to Harry Potter World was something that’d been on my goals list for a few years now, and that’s complete!  Lung transplant evaluation, over with!  Fundraiser for birthday, done!    Also planned to do a week of each country’s culinary cuisine, but only managed to complete week of Korea and a bit of Japan.  Putting that on the back burner for now.

Still, it kind of feels like I’m wandering aimlessly and should be working hard towards new goals.  I have fallen short on my Datacamp courses, and need to really get a leg up and dedicate myself to it this month of March.

I also feel like my body has become weaker, but there’s so many factors into why that it can be hard to tell what the reason is and whether it’s permanent or temporary.  Hard to tell if I’m supposed to rest more or to push my body a bit to activate it.

Another goal I’d like to work on is getting healthier and more fit.

And it’s almost March… I need to figure out what job I’m going for as the weather gets warmer.

Also gotta clean my room and do some chores.  Seems like there’s nothing and everything to do.

So as a summary… for March:

-Accomplish Datacamp courses, write a detailed schedule to stay up to date

-Work out more, try to gain some leaner muscle  (no skinny fat)

-Continue lessons on Korean and Spanish

-Find a part time job I’m passionate about

-As per usual.. remember self-care to forgive myself, my body, accept that I take things slowly and one step at a time.  Take time to socialize with friends and do fun things when I am able.  Take medication, do treatments, try to not become sad.