Dreams

choose self-preservation.

Streets of NYC

Streets of NYC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

you have the kind of dreams that are so out of the box, you’d need to create a whole new universe for this ideal to be a concrete reality. you have the kind of dreams that are elaborate and detailed. for years, i went to bed thinking about a quiet anonymous life in a big city, where my work was my life because i loved it so much. i dreamt of having this big career that i would get excited to tell people about, that it was all i could about it. in the evenings, i would have quiet dinners with one or two individuals i really truly cared about. home cooked meals with a fine wine, sitting on an adult table, having adult conversations.

lately, it’s starting to feel like i have no plan. no grand vision. no path. no step a step b step c and then this that and that. it feels like i’m drifting along life, making decision after the other based on gut and intuition. empty promises to yourself that you’re doing the right thing. you can’t rush into your life. you make careful, deliberate life choices instead of quick ones where you’re stuck deeper into a hole you can’t get out of. you’ve narrowed it down somewhat. you’ll be doing graduate school later in your life. the time to start this working life is now.  the apartment, the quiet dinners can happen.

except, the city is not big enough. the career not vital enough. the day in the life not glamorous enough. your skills not as well developed as you’d like. the commute will be soul-sucking. the coworkers won’t be your best friends. you’ll lose your passion for the cause caught up in the mundane.

you feel unprepared, inadequate, small. you wish to take up less space, but the world demands you to expand and be. and deep down, you want to as well.

when did you become so indecisive?

when did you become so scared to make a mistake or two?

when did you start to feel the need to be still instead of just going for it without looking back?

when did you doubt your confident, your skill?

when did you need to be presented as perfect, absolutely flawlessly?

when did you stop wanting to be a human who feels things and cries and gets hurt?

when did it become so impossible to choose love when it came knocking at your door?

or perhaps, it’s the understanding of your limitations. you understand and respect that there are things in life you’re not prepared for, and understand that growth and preparedness will come a day at a time. that you’re in no rush to have your heart broken by life, by your parents, or by an individual, or by disappointment that can’t be changed. that you’ve always taken life too seriously to brush things of. that when something stabs deep down, you break a little bit, and even if those broken pieces can still be mended, you choose self self-preservation.

you do live in a world of carpe diem, and #YOLO and you believe in the power of it. but, having and respecting limitations isn’t a weakness. if anything, there’s a strength in acknowledging its presence in the room.

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Childhood

a coloured brick path.

i remember being less than ten years old, and wanting all of us to reach our full potential during playtime. i remember asking what kind of play-pretend people felt like that given evening, collecting answers, and making a firm decisions on whether it’d be “family” or “neighbours” or “having a restaurant” or if we’d be doing something completely different like hide-n-seek, a hop-skotch tournament, and other very specific games that we invented that were unique to our block. i took on that role because i was amongst the oldest, but i think i’ve always had that “calling” towards getting things organized and structured, so that we wouldn’t waste all of playtime just deciding what to do. i remember i made someone cry once because i chose something that they didn’t want to do and i tried to convince him that it was what everyone wanted, but he was so upset, he didn’t listen and cried and called his mom, who adored me. he and i are still close friends to this day.

i remember there was a time we were obsessed with colouring this brick street. i would have a “schedule” for who would be bringing the clay based crayons or pastels. i would get very upset if someone forgot their day, because nobody would be able to colour, and would make them go home and get it. it was around 40 meters long and a meter wide. we coloured for months, not every day, but periodically. i remember people joking around too much, and getting annoyed that they wouldn’t be taking this project seriously, because i wanted to look at something everyday and get reminded of how good friends we were. except that we were, and i didn’t need a coloured brick street to prove anything.

i remember that after she died, i didn’t want to go anywhere near that street because it was tainted with sadness now, and memories of her. i remember that the colour stayed for a long, long time – even after we’d switched schools and had celebrated her death anniversary. i remember we finally went back to colouring, but only because the path looked even sadder with mere remnants of colour.

i started writing after that, and withdrew in my role of being the self-appointed leader of playtime. i don’t know if anybody had noticed i’d gotten much quieter and withdrawn and was more comfortable being in the background. i wonder if they noticed that i slowly lost my self-cofidence when kids started to pick on me for days on end in my new school, where i had pale coloured skin, and was obviously not as cool.

the gradient towards becoming detached started around there. i started reading a book a day, literally. i would eat very quickly by myself, then go to the library where all the librarians were nice and i felt safe. i’d pick a book after careful thought, and start it then. i’d read on the way home, and read instead of doing homework. i think i confused my parents because they’d have to tell me to stop reading so much. but those characters in those books loved me, and i loved them. they understood me and i understood them. in the world of fiction and writing, i wasn’t strange or weird – my feelings and thoughts were valid, and were valuable.

although i had always been sensitive and empathetic before then, those events only led to me developing an exaggerated version of those traits to this day. and that’s why i hated my school, even though it was literally a dream for kids anywhere, because it was a constant reminder of how i didn’t really belong, of sadness and pain, and being the kid that was weird and picked on, even after everyone who bullied me apologized in some way or other.

i remember making an constant effort to appear okay and happy and bubbly, as if that was as important as just telling someone i wasn’t – another trait i exercise today. it was mostly towards my parents, my brother whom i wanted to be a role model for, whom i wanted to teach small things like riding a bike, or the games and stories i’d created. it was my for my oldest friends, who had accepted me when i wore really ugly glasses and had the horrible mushroom haircut that my mom had insisted on and had kept me grounded when everything had happened – because i wanted to be seen as the same child i used to be, not the sad mopey and withdrawn one i’d become. they’d accepted the younger me and the older me that now took life so seriously, because it was serious, because it ended and it needed to be treated with care.

i remember feeling everything, every little emotion, not just mine, but everyone’s, in an amplified version – so much so that i couldn’t do anything till i had felt it completely and it had finally passed – another thing i do today. i remember being amazed at people who could put their feelings aside for a time being, and started practising that, because life had to continue to happen and i needed to be on the train instead of drowning in a sea of feelings, both good and bad and ugly.

and so, today – almost a decade and a half later, i realize i’m still the same person.

i realize i had slowly, and am still, removing the skin of ugliness that had grown over me because i had let other people influence what i thought of myself.  i let the layer of sadness and grief, not just as a child the first time, but as an adult the second time, develop into maturity and a way of looking at life, that wasn’t positive or negative, but was what it was.

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Relationships

numero uno priority.

the life-consuming need to obtain validation and approval from the two individuals who brought you to this world, even when they way and means of their doing so doesn’t completely fit the way you need it. the angst and ongoing inner turmoil, that has been prevalent for so long, that its mark on your soul is a soft murmur that never really goes away, but you’ve learnt to ignore and live with it because you don’t know anything else. the small concrete examples of the way you’re not being validated give you so much joy, because you can convince yourself you’re not oversensitive and delusional and overly emotional. and then you blame yourself for ways you could have asked for it better, or could have communicated why it bothers you so endlessly so.

you make excuses for them, for yourself. they’re busy making a living, they’re busy making a living to support you, dammit. what more can you ask from them. and that they obviously didn’t do that bad of a job because you turned out decent, and they could have easily screwed you up alot more. you make excuses that start with, but it’s because i’m emotional and thus, i need this and that and this and i can’t expect it all from two people. that’s what friends are there for.

you look around. friends equally, unequivocally busy as you are,  they are. friends who move away to different cities. friends who start working and now are actual adults in the real-world. friends who now have new friends because you didn’t seem them for a week too long. friend’s who forget you when they start dating the boy you had rooted for them for. you’re so damn happy for them, but there’s a sadness to it because you’re now number two in their list of priority people.

and you wonder why you can’t find yourself that kind of happiness, why you are so unbelievably unprepared in that one aspect of life, and how it’s not an issue most of the time because you are content with the people in your life and the meaning they add to it, when they’re present and wholly there with you. but they’re not there now and they haven’t been for a while, and the attention given isn’t the same. when you’re not their first priority.

and that’s all there is to it, right. everybody needs to be someone’s first priority. we’re social creatures, this is nothing new. we need others to be a healthy functional person. for a long, long ass time (8 years), i was numero uno priority to the people who raised me. and then, my sibling came along (and i’m so glad he did), and children of other people became priorities for other reasons (that bring sadness on a  another, different level).

and so, you get accustomed to being pushed away for other people, who aren’t necessarily better, but are just more important. and you learn that difference the hard way after countless nights of self-reflection. and the pushing away is so damn subtle, so slowly occurring, that you don’t realize till even years, months, weeks later. and it’s not even that you’re pushed away exactly, it’s just that you’re not a priority. you’re taken for granted as someone who will be fine, who is so damn independent and strong, that you couldn’t possibly need to be their sole rock. because, no  – you’re your own rock. and it’s always assumed that you’re fine, that you’re doing well, that there are so many good things going for you, how could you possibly be not fine.

you never wanted to be your own rock.

but you had to be.

you had to be your own first and sole priority, because you were only somewhere on the top 5 in others. they’ll deny it. they’ll use words to discount the endless feeling of loneliness you feel, that you can’t possibly forget. because people will forget the words and will believe them, but the will never forget they way a person made them feel. but you, you’ll believe their words because finding it blame to yourself is so much easier than blaming them.

and, so you grew up. you became stronger and more confident and more able to put words that are hard to communicate into actual physical sentences, even if nothing is capatalized. and you’ll write about them, because for the first time, you’re giving yourself the right to feel and own your feelings. and you’ll write because they need to be expressed in some way, even if its not the ideal way. because, there’s no use in telling someone that you’re hurt that you’re not their first priority when they won’t do anything to change it. when all you’ll get is a node, an oo, and ah, and a false promise to do better. when understanding is just simply not enough.

and then you realize the extent to how much it is has affected you.  that you don’t even know how to be someone’s first priority because you never, really, ever were after you turned 8 years old.  that you directly and indirectly push people away who try, who make that small effort to show it, and who themselves truly believe it, but you tell yourself that they have the wrong intentions and have a deep-rooted fear of what will happen if you get used to being that number one and have it taken away from you. and so you cut it off before they have any chance.

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Rambles, Self-Development

being so completely.

 

Sometimes completely overwhelmed just by the dailyness of life. This includes the stresses, the ups, the downs, the small bumping into people, the random realization about relationships, the brief moment of seeing something  so beautiful it makes you want to cry, feeling such deep rooted pain that is so expertly masked that it almost seems like its not there, observing people from afar in the way they conduct themselves in a way that is so characteristically “them” and getting so charmed by the way they pull it off.

 

So completely overwhelmed by those moments when you’re talking about something deeply complex and personal to someone you trust – and they just get it, and they don’t judge, and they fully grasp the extent to how much it has affected you, but find it beautiful, and now there are invisible strings of love that hold you together in a cosmic, supernatural way.

 

So overwhelmed by oppurtunity and being able to afford nice things, and go to nice places, and reading the news over and over again and realizing how the majority of the world’s population is struggling with basic rights. So overwhelmed with the guilt associated with privilege and the natural sense of entitlement due the environment of certain upbringings. And wondering what you ever did to make you deserve it and wondering whether it’d be better off if it had been given to somebody with greater potential and then realizing that life doesn’t work that way.

 

Overwhelmed by observing that life continues day and in and day out despite your consent or knowledge. That leaves are photosynthesizing on their own, the waves and tide have a rhythm that is more complex than we could comprehend, that the traffic works on schedule, that people are going to and from work every single damn day, all just finding a place in this big planet in this large universe. Realizing that people are passing by in the same way, living their lives, moving on, crying, being upset, being happy – and knowing that you can’t possible leave your mark, hell you can’t leave a toenail – in the grand vast spatial and time manner of things.

 

And realizing that it’s okay, that you’re mostly past the stage in your life of fearing and being absolutely traumatized by existential crises, and even starting to enjoy them. And then being overwhelmed at the mere prospect of finding meaning in your own life, and translating that into physical and actual things. And finding that it hard because all you just want is being happy, having great relationships with friends, travelling a bit and being constantly fascinated by new ideas – and realizing that that’s having a life and not a career, and you already have that.

 

Being overwhelmed by the need to please everyone and realizing later, that no, you really don’t need to.  Being overwhelmed with people in general, in mostly good ways, about their ideas and the way they vision life being embodied in the things they read, eat, sleep, do and talk about and maybe not judging, but just, huh – that’s an interesting way to look and do things.

 

being overwhelmed by feeling the emotions of others and experiencing their lives through their stories, being overwhelmed by being so blissfully happy and feeling and seeing pain and suffering all the time, and watching people, including myself, just be and cope.

 

being overwhelmed by stating verbally to real, live people  things i want out of life, things that are boring and simple like wanting a vegetable and herb garden in my backyard, no white picket fences thank you very much, and having a backyard in the first place, and how i hadn’t committed to the idea of life and being fully and wholly committed to reality…until recently, if at all still. because i still think that only by being detached, in some way, to some extent, to it all, can I really find value in the things that do matter. and that being detached to life only strengths my attachment to life, and the dire, passionate want to be so fully emerged in the journey that even the grey is as gorgeous as the black and white.

 

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Uncategorized

Conversations that aren’t Conversations

Someone recently told me that words are the only thing we have. The realization was profound on a personal level.

I truly believe that each of us have a story worth telling, even if not all are worth listening to. The simple actions of trudging along the long and dreary process of Life is beautiful in its own fragile way. We float on clouds, and the only meaning we can ever get out of day-in and day-out of actions and breathing and walking and sleeping is if – for one moment, we stop to convey the internal monologues we have going on. Suddenly, everything is different, the world is a magical place. Instead of revolving in our own galaxies, we are intermingling and being part of a greater system. And this ecosystem only works by listening, understanding and compassion.

I truly naively believe that this is the root of so many of the issues today – a lack of apathy for individuals that do not contribute to one’s own well-being, an indifference to their experiences. And it’s bullshit because, as silly and corny as it is, we are all in this together. An organization such as a government doesn’t work without meeting the needs of the people – just read the news. A company doesn’t run if it’s employees are unheard. But, I am not here to discuss the way the world works. To me, the whole deal is simple and things like politics and marketing and consumerism and capitalism seem trivial. Living things are here to live and require basic needs to be met in order to thrive.  

Nevertheless, returning to my original point, it is true that some people are just closed to the ideas and beliefs of others. They are so deeply rooted in their engrained perspective of reality, that a conversation isn’t a conversation. It is a simply an oppurtunity for them to scream their ideologies and impose them. Personally, I am slow to recognize these toxic people, because my own hold of what reality is….is loose.

Instead, I am seduced by their ideas and fail to realize their lack of respect for mine. For significant amounts of time, I allow these people to pollute my thoughts and worse, discount my sense of self. I a confined in my ability to grow new ideas and to thrive. But for some reason, I am so entranced by their perspective that I continue this charade of a friendship. I am confined in the space I have the right to be in. I forget that I have the right to have my own thoughts, and the confidence to express them. It is only through several countless experiments of hurt and recovery, that it dawns on me. 

I think this realization in itself is growth. I actively now remove people who do not contribute to my thriving. This is not selfish because by being able to practise my genuine self, I am able to be happy. And thus, I can contribute and actively work towards their own thriving as well. It’s the oldest piece in self-care 101 – you can only help others if you help yourself.

 

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Rambles, Self-Development

Safety, a basic right

Due to my curse and gift for being hyper-sensitive to the emotions and energies of other people, a trait also known as empathy – I have been significantly impacted by the recent events that has occurred on the UBC Campus. I have been wrapping my head around the extent of my  conflicted, emotional turmoil over the whole thing. After I got over my sudden shock, I was able to articulate the feelings. As someone who thrives on the potential of community engagement and development – I’ve realized that for the first time in my life, I have felt unsafe in my own campus, in my own room. I realize how fortunate I am to say this.

I am a great believer in the power of an individual’s potential. And thus, the development and the growth of that individual is directly linked to the positive change in the community based on collective actions. Basically, the Gestalt theory – the sum of a whole is greater than it’s individual parts.  Any sort of violence towards an individual will effect the entire community due to the emotional implications and heaviness it carries once that information has been disseminated. But also, the realization of living in a space where one’s own personal safety is being threatened has direct effects on the individual’s wellbeing.

Like any living thing, an individual requires certain needs to be met according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Safety is the second most basic need, which includes the security of employment, resources, family, health, property and body.

Due to my extensive involvement and investment on campus and student development, I was immediately drawn to a community need that needed to be tended. It was as simple as: “I am scared in my own safe-space, so you must be too, and we need to restore this.”

I realize I must be naive in many ways. There is no safe place in the world.  The basic safety of human beings as a human right cannot be assumed as existing.

I realize the greater implications of this violence is greater than what I have ever been educated on – and this is nobody’s responsibility but mine.

My heart goes out to all those who were effected in various ways by these recent events, and the trauma and anxiety it must bring.

But, I also realize that the you do something when you realize you cannot not do anything.

With my limited tools and knowledge, I am trying to do whatever I can to create some, small positive change – even if it just giving people the confidence to walk home on their own at night.

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Rambles, Social Media

My Personas on Social Media

Facebook.  She’s an overly cheerful human being. She wonders if there’s anything more wonderful than being alive. The female is always excited about everything and anything. She expresses it by liking, commenting and sharing everything remotely regarded as cool. She’s super supportive of her friends, and will like all of her close friend’s pictures and statuses. This behavior increases during times of jealousy. She will share events and discounts because she wants everyone to take advantage of them. She believes she’s the human bulletin board, such a noble being. She’s the most boring of them all, with no real personality, and unable to afford the luxuries and vacations that could make her Facebook interesting.

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Tumblr – She perceives herself as deep, dark and mysterious. She feels misunderstood and alone. All her life she’ll be looking for answers for questions she hasn’t asked yet. She’s quiet and an introvert and can spend alone by herself in her room. She reads a lot and watches serious movies. She likes to write and has secrets that nobody knows about. She wants to fall in love, she wants to go on adventures, she wants to run away and never look back. She feels like the most special person in the world, utterly unique in her endeavours. Alas, if only somebody bothered to know her.

LinkedIn – She’s been planning her career since her first day as an undergraduate. Before she even knew what her major was, or what she really liked doing or was good at, she was planning this future. She went all the right events, always introduced herself. She asked relatively good questions and took down contact information. As she gained more experience, her profile transformed into something that could be worthy of being hired. She messaged people in sincerity, for advice and for coffee dates. She is the most cautious one, always scheming and strategizing and brainstorming for the ahead she herself doesn’t know yet. It’s exhausting but she’ll never admit it; mostly because she’s too busy to go to lunch with you. She’s just so goddamn ambitious and driven.

Twitter – Witty, funny and spontaneous. She’s in the now. There’s no yesterday, there’s no tomorrow. She’ll say what’s on her mind, in an appropriate tone and manner, whether people will read it or not. Everything that is worthy of being expressed in her world will be tweeted. The most amazing breakfast place, or that moment of odd joy and happiness whilst walking to class. That genius thought in the middle of class when she isn’t paying attention. The craziest research that just happened. That really cool event that she won’t actually go to. She’ll talk to people she doesn’t know, luring them into conversations that aren’t particularly useful. Here too, she’s ambitious but nerdy. She’s not as cool, put-together and sophisticated as LinkedIn, and doesn’t have as many emotions as Tumblr, thank god. She’s the interesting one, who’s completely approachable, always eager to be followed and to follow. She sincerely feels all her tweets, all 140 characters posses a mysterious charm.

WordPress – If the other social medias were not there to balance it out, WordPress would be deemed overly emotional, antisocial, and depressed. She would have no friends, because she’s such a downer. After all, somebody who never stops talking about her family, the people she was once friends with, how people were mean to her way back when, how every little gesture has some deep meaning….is an utter bore. She’s always wanting a better future, regretting the past. She doesn’t really live in the moment although she’ll visit occasionally. She cries and listens to Coldplay and The Reason in her room, watching Netflix. She’ll watch Friends as if she’s having a mid-life crises, even though her life hasn’t really started yet. She’s not excited about the future like Twitter and LinkedIn. She resents Facebook’s cheerful nature. Sometimes she’ll talk to tumblr for solace because even sad people need people to talk to. She think she’s the real one, the one who expresses everything and anything to the core, hiding nothing. She believes she’s the only real one, the others trying to be personas they’re not, putting on complicated, superficial charade.

Instagram – This one has borderline personality. One day, the sun and skies and oceans are blue and yellow and colorful. Everything is a rainbow! Oh my god, so much color, it’ll make your eyes water in teats of happiness. But other days, she’ll take the same picture in black and white. It’s as if she doesn’t want to have a soul at all, as if going anywhere or doing anything is way too tiring. She expresses herself with melancholy, as a hippie, as a bohemian, as a lost adventurer. She is sipping coffee all the time, riding around highways and empty roads, taking notes of whatever she sees in the process. She captures the tiniest moments of happiness and sadness and makes a life of it, ignoring any bland emotions. Everything is accentuated and highlighted and glamourous. She could be a movie. Everything is beautiful and the world is perfect.

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