Random Late Night Thoughts- On Lung Transplants and Perspective

On Goals and Motivation:  The beautiful thing about goals is that you can always achieve them and make new ones, the possibilities are endless, and you have a lifetime to keep going.  When I was a kid, I read this book about this really old man who decided to go to school and teach himself how to read.  It was really inspiring.  He could’ve decided to stay home and been embarrassed or made himself sick with worry on what others would think of him.  I think a lot on our battle with these inner demons and realize that at the end of the day, our biggest challenge in any goal is overcoming our own mentality and insecurities.  They could be something as apparent as being in a wheelchair or having a stutter, they could also be secrets of our past that we’ve buried deep but still influence our daily thought process, and seep into our choices and actions in life like poison.

Goals can be big or small.

My smaller goals lately have been mostly to aim at realism.  I want to make goals I can achieve more immediately- cooking new kinds of food, learning a new language, focusing on building my mentality and body.  All of these are goals as long as you chip at it each day and work towards it, they aren’t less valuable or successful than typical dreams like becoming rich or becoming a movie star.  The hugest part of reshaping my mentality the past recent years was to becomes strong enough to go through the lung transplant evaluations that I knew were leading down to a path of not a maybe, but an eventually.  I had many meltdowns at night and at the hospitals because the fear was always hanging over me, my anxiety became so bad I freaked out at the very idea of sitting in someone else’s car or trying to fall asleep.  It felt like the world was weighing down on me when anyone even tried to make me talk about it:  because I could get away with it sometimes, I wanted to shove the parts of me that was ill away and try to carry on looking fine and dandy and blend in with the “norm”.  I was determined to live the life of a regular kid, to worry about friends, boys, and all the petty drama that came with it, handing my paper in on time, getting a job.

I need to take a moment now and appreciate myself and the fact that I went through that and got through it in 2017.  I don’t often reflect on how far I come, I usually focus on what didn’t work out.

Recently, one of my goals was to go through Harry Potter World in a wheelchair for the first time, and not break down.  Check.  Huge win for me, even though it’s not the same as everyone clapping and cheering for you on stage or something like that.

When I think of this and all that I went through, I almost want to laugh at how petty everything else compares in life:  when I get frustrated or disappointed with people, stressed over things I don’t have, and most of all, finding out how entitled and weird people are out there that you come across at your job.  I remember being annoyed and complaining about it, but the truth was I felt happy.  Happy that today, I got to be “normal” and complain about petty things like other people who don’t really matter in your life anyway.  It’s just noise.  Letting things get to you and affect you negatively is draining- you gotta choose what is important and worth being stressed over. This is something my dad has constantly reminded me growing up about not being too sensitive or upset over everything.

There are always going to be situations and people who suck.  You can’t go through life only meeting nice and good people, never getting hurt – and I don’t mean just by strangers or acquaintances, but the people closest to you sometimes – yes, your friends, your family.  But that’s how you learn and grow each time.  Who other people are, what you can reasonably expect, how you can deal with the situation better, how you yourself can be better.

I had an epiphany recently, and that was the realization of just how low my self confidence has been.  I always knew I was shy and reluctant to open up to others, but I was thinking about how I subconsciously approached my friendships I’ve had in a way as if they were not only valuable to me, but that I owed them the world for taking the pity and time to be my friend at all.  As if I brought nothing to the friendship, and had to spend the rest of my life trying to prove that I am worthy of being a friend.  I tried to be more extroverted, bubbly, happy, to smile and be more fun.  To go out of my way when I could for them so they wouldn’t see my flaws.  And when it didn’t work out with the friendship, it cut me deep. To the core.  I would be resentful with them, disappointed that they must’ve seen that I didn’t measure up and was too much of a burden.

  1. There is a difference between understanding who is precious in your life, but also understanding your self-worth and all that you contribute with your presence and actions.  As from the movie “Wonder”, it’s okay if you were born to be different and to stand out.  Embrace it.  You are worthy of friendships, and as long as you try your best and care for them, they are lucky to have you.
  2. True confidence comes from within. Today I came to the revelation about how regular people can walk 5-10 times more than I can at 2-5 times the speed and still don’t get tired…. how do you not feel fucking invincible??  I would.  My second revelation… if you can feel at peace and accepting about yourself even as you sit in a wheelchair with no make up on as a bunch of people you know stare at you and question you, then you’re still fucking invincible. (I haven’t reached this point of invincibility yet ._.;)
  3.   I used to think of a strong mind as a fortress, one that can protect itself from negativity, and barricade positive vibes within.  But now I think of a strong mind more as a temple- why? Let the negativity enter, sit there even.  And STILL be able to have your positive vibes rise up higher than all the noise- this is what constitutes a strong mind.

“All that shit will feel petty when you feel pretty” -Dumbfoundead

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Leading With A Limp Notes -Dan B. Allender

On Leadership:

“Many a king misunderstands or abuses his calling and ends up devouring the flock – and then he blames the sheep for the dwindling numbers.  Such a leader solidifies his power by the use of fear and shame.  The troops cower and obey, but they do not love the leader and they are not loyal to him.  It is far more difficult to be a shepherd-king, one who must possess power and give it away until he serves as the balancing point of an inverted pyramid” (pg. 61)

“The leader will fail, so he needs to confess his anger, self-absorption, and cowardice and serve his people by being the first one who needs to be forgiven”  (pg. 62)

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (pg. 71)

           –>  “A broken leader is a sweet paradox of confidence and openness.  If those I lead have already found out the worst there is to know about me- then the log in my eye is continually being removed in the midst of every crisis. The result is better vision and greater wisdom due to the freedom I feel to both live and die” (pg. 75)

On Courage:

  “  He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape.  He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape.  He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water, and yet drink death like wine” … this is the foundation for true confidence.  – G.K. Chesterton (pg. 74)

“Courage never takes away fear; courage simply redistributes fear to get the job done” (pg. 77)

“Do I know what to do but simply not want to do it?”  (pg. 81)


Other Thoughts:

“If the church is really about spiritual relationships, then why are they so hard to keep together?” 

          —>”‘ What lens am I using to read reality?”  (pg. 83)

Entire pg. 98 (not included here unfortunately)

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^(Entire pg. 113)

“Groucho Marx wouldn’t want to be part of a club that would have him as a member” (pg. 116)

“Organizations are full of binds because there is not sufficient honesty between human beings to build caring, committed relationships.  Instead, everyone figures out how to put on the right face.” (pg. 117)

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^(pg 156)

“Most people want to grow, but the price of growth is pain… it is the way of growth and excellence:  submission to pain through discipline is the only route to maturity” (pg. 194-195)

On Betrayal:

“Betrayal is a deep psychic wound that hardens the heart against grief and deadens is hunger for intimacy” (unknown)

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.

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.

The Onigiri

I don’t remember if I wrote about this before, but it’s my go-to story whenever a friend who’s having self-doubt or any other moments of apprehension talks to me.  It’s a story I tell myself once in awhile to remind myself of my worth, even if I don’t always see it.

When I was younger, my best friend got me into mangas, and my favorite was always Fruits Basket.  In one chapter, Kyo is this character who comes off angry but holds in a lot of pain and fear.  Tohru is the girl who looks at him in thought, and ponders, “Hm, maybe it’s on his back.”

The way Tohru sees the world is that every individual is an onigiri, and each contains a special ingredient.  However, the problem is that Kyo’s onigiri looks at everyone else’s, and is envious looking at the ingredients on their backs, whether it’s salmon, or tuna, or egg.  He can’t see his own.  He thinks he’s worth less because he can’t see his back.

Sometimes, pretty often actually, I find myself as Kyo, struggling to see what’s on my back.  I know some of you are thinking “please, I know what my special ingredient, I’m made of PRIME RIB, wagyu beef yo.”  And that’s great.  But a lot of us spend a lot of times staring at all the other onigiris’ backs and admiring their special ingredient.  So I’m here to tell you that you have something special on your back, and I see it.  You are made of worth, you were created unique, and everyone around you can see it even if people might not go out of their way to tell you or admit it to you.  I think we could help each other out by being the eyes for each other on what we can’t see.

May 2, 2017 Update and Thoughts on Identity

I finished watching “Sing” last night and I have to say, even though it was more enjoyable than not, I couldn’t help but compare it side by side to the other Pixar films and feel that it fell a bit flat.  First of all, maybe there were just too many characters with subplots that the overall arch had a little struggle in transition and screenplay… my favorite was probably Johnny and his father’s relationship and how it reconciled towards the end, that was touching.  But the rest felt a bit disconnected and the emotion didn’t feel translated well, particularly with Buster Moon and Meena’s story.  It was lacking a bit of a magical, more in-depth touch that Pixar movies like Toy Story, Up and Finding Nemo/Finding Dory has.  That said, I will refrain from judging the whole of Sony vs. Pixar animations since Pixar’s had a few apparently lackluster ones recently, such as “The Good Dinosaur” and “Cars 2”.


 

On the days when I wallow in depression or pity for myself, whatever mood or situation that brought me down tends to lead to other thoughts that bring more negativity.  I noticed that in a lot of the issues regarding inequality in America, I don’t necessarily have it the worst – for example, I am not a black woman,  I am not a refugee, and I am not living in poverty.  However, there are many other parts of my identity that I am discriminated against, and I start to sit back and count all the ways in which I am “losing out” in our society.  Asian, a woman, and also dealing with chronic illness and anxiety/depression issues.

But you know what?  I don’t particularly concentrate on that every moment of my life- most of the time, I’m just, me.  And in another perspective, I have one foot in in multiple kinds of discriminative causes and conditions, and that gives me a firsthand look into other people’s eyes and experiences.  I have greater empathy and understanding because of it, and I can use this as a strength in life.

“I’m okay” (but not really)

When someone asks you, “Is everything okay?”  or when people (at least in America) ask “How are you?”  The answer is probably 99% of the time “Good!” This is such an automatic reaction that I notice people continue talking without even waiting for the response, and they bustle to talk over each other to continue to other things or something to that likeness.

I’m a terrible liar, so it physically makes me uncomfortable whenever I have to answer things like this.  I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but it still makes it a lie.  Here’s a scary thought.  What if it never gets better?  Your answer will permanently stay a lie?

You hide behind your smile, but even that feels untruthful.  And people comfort you and fall to the default of “It will get better” with all those testimonies.  But for those where it didn’t get better, guess what?  They aren’t going to rain on anyone’s parade by publicly coming out and say “It doesn’t.”  Chances are, their lives have fallen so dismally they wouldn’t bother to.  They’re busy dealing with the heavy load that has been placed on their shoulders.  It could be anything… alcoholism, suicidal thoughts, drugs, disease, pain in general that won’t go away.  Maybe they were gone already.

And me?  I can train myself to follow the wisp of thoughts that it might get better, but I’ve lived 23 years like this, and my best hope is more that it will continue to stay like this, and not worsen.  That’s the truth.  But the truth is so dark, the issues are so widespread from the immediate to the long term, that I feel some days like I’m waiting in a holding cell for her expiration date.

Some people walk by this holding cell, either completely ignorant, oblivious, or just don’t give a fuck.  The few who stop might gawk, or ask with some sympathy how I’m doing.  You know what?  I don’t want your sympathy.  That’s like feeling sorry for someone, feeling pity.  I want empathy, I demand understanding for everyone in this world. But the reality again, is that real peace and happiness will never exist.  We want equality in the economy?  That’s called communism, which we know doesn’t work.  In democracy, someone will ALWAYS have to get the short end of the stick.  And there are too many damn selfish people in the world, statistically, many simply just want to get through life okay, can you blame them?  (sometimes, you can for being an asshole).

This is supposed be a blog about positivity but you know what?  Positivity and happiness is only measured in relevance to suffering and depression, so they’re one and the same topic.  Obtaining it, lack of it.  Here’s the real truth. Honesty, this here, the only space in existence where it exists, untainted.

And so, what would I reply to this person who asks me if I’m okay?  That’s a loaded question.  But maybe they don’t really want to know the whole truth.  As me, the one with the issues, am I supposed to be the one who bears the light bravely and inspiringly, beaming at everyone in my sickbed (figuratively speaking for now) so that I have any redeeming qualities and serve some sort of purpose for others?

I don’t want to sound emo, so I’ll just stick with “I’m okay, thanks :)”