Fifty Five

Last Wednesday,

A classmate said, “You don’t smile.” “There is no joy in school,” I joked back. It was more of a half-joke, because I really don’t find any joy in school. My friends know it, my husband knows it, and even my teachers know it with my daily “unimpressed” expressions that make it very obvious I am a non-traditional age student. Only my husband knows that my lack of smiling is completely intentional. Smiling means weakness and approachability. I help people who ask me to help them out and share my opinions and experiences with them only to the extent of not making any relationship stick. This time around, I am refusing alliances, jealousy, and attachments.

I don’t know why I’m doing this, actually. Maybe it’s the spirit of competition, or maybe I stayed in Europe for too long and absorbed that comfortable coldness. Being alone in college made me notice why I was so successful in high school. Yes, I was a sleep-deprived over achiever, but take away the “sleep deprived” and “over.” There’s just “achiever” left. Effortless, isolated achievement that gives me time to myself and room to think. This also reduces emotional damage in case my bipolar symptoms pop up. I still get rages every couple of weeks and these strange bouts of sadness and happiness.

I also signed up for a counseling appointment and a health check up. I don’t know if I am playing too much Diablo or stressing out about the skeleton I am drawing for Life Drawing, but I have been having nightmares about my worst days, skeletons, and zombies for the last two weeks. Hopefully, the counselor can help out with that. Maybe it’s midterm stress? I experienced nightmares at Smith too that drained me of my energy on a daily basis and made me jumpy and anxious. Since it’s a pattern, I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have nightmares anymore.

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Fifty Four

This past month,

I have been trying to blog regularly–two posts week–to retain my ability to write and publish before I become a sketching robot for a big company. I’m following WordPress’s daily prompts, and today’s word is “subdued.” WordPress has not been the relaxed social media and blogging platform that Xanga was, but daily prompts provide some semblance of a community. So here goes:

Being subdued in American culture has a bad rap for being unimaginative and average, and I have experienced the benefits of being subdued and the hard life of not being subdued. Whenever I subdue or limit myself, I go beyond what I expected to do and end up being proud of myself. It is only when I lose control and fail to subdue my grandiose expectation for what I deserve and how I deserve to be treated that I end up a wreck and hate everything around me.

I never subdue my thoughts, but I’ve learned to subdue my behavior. When I didn’t, that is when I end up withdrawing from college, seeking new interest, and having to start over again. Even now, I have a hard time subduing my anger when getting feedback from my teachers who don’t acknowledge what I actually did right. I never know what I’m doing right, and when someone tells me I’m doing one thing wrong, my immediate reaction is that I am doing everything wrong. When that happens, I have learned to subdue myself with a wry smile and express my desperation for approval by throwing whatever I am holding in my hand on the table before I fix my mistakes. When I do subdue my expectations for how I do, I usually end up doing better than I thought.

I think I finally learned that concept when I was in Denmark for two months. Danes’ culture have The Law of Jante, where you should not expect to be better than others and set low expectations that are easy to reach. There was this feeling of people appreciating and taking advantage of what they have regardless of what they could afford. Living there would make me redefine the word “subdued” as “low-key.” Regardless of my internet temper tantrums, my mental health this semester is golden solely due to my expectation of earning no higher than a B in every class. Whenever my jealousy gets the better of me, I remind myself: Be the best “B” student there is, and everything becomes okay.

Subdued

Fifty One

Within a year,

I have done more than people usually do in a few years, said my mom. She was just trying to make me feel better, I know it. All I’ve done was get married, travel to China and Denmark, and change my career. I guess when you’re in your 20s or at least when you leave school a lot tends to happen within a year.

Currently, I’m in a love-hate relationship with my potential major (product design). Loving doing the thing, but I hate the people in my class. I just dislike people in general and I don’t warm up to strangers very well. The group last semester was fine, but this semester, I have to adjust to a whole new group of people, none of whom are that willing to be close friends with me. After most of my classmates from last semester left, I’m unwilling to make any steady friends until I get in.

Also, my career seems to be a lot of waiting and being on hold. I have classes Tuesday through Saturday except for Wednesday. My Tuesday and Thursday classes barely have any homework but I can never finish my work for Saturday!? That has gotten me down a lot. As a result, I’ve felt so inferior that I was going to quit until an admissions counselor told me I don’t suck. Everyone was happy to hear it, but the effects have worn off on me. Back to being depressed about my life and the increasingly nagging feeling that I should go back to some kind of normal school.

I miss writing. I miss reading. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I also miss science. I look at my old classmates sharing science related stuff on Facebook and I no longer miss science. Or, at least I don’t miss sharing pop science and trivial studies just to legitimize my career choice. At least I am being honest with myself when I say where I am now is leading me to what I want to do.

Forty-Seven: I QUIT/(medically withdrew from) COLLEGE. (Long post)

I have never been happier. I have been avoiding it, but I’m just going to go ahead and reveal what college I attended: Smith College. I don’t regret going there. In fact, I’m wearing my Smith sweater right now, because I almost graduated. I was two semesters away, but I decided that I didn’t want that 3.52 GPA with a B.A. Neuroscience that’s “going to open so many doors for me” (roughly quoting my concerned advisor) or whatever.

Let’s just say my relationship with Smith was toxic, and it was a happy breakup. The before I left, I hung out with my dearest friends I met in Bridge and a dear friend who I only knew for one semester. They were one of the top three reasons I stayed there besides needing to know I can do this college thing and also not knowing what other career I will have than a miserable one in Neuroscience or teaching biology. Might as well stay in miserable Western Massachusetts if I have nowhere else to go.

I learned a lot in my three years there. I might learn a little more if I stayed for one more, but that night, when I was working on a paper for Systems Neuroscience, I decided: I know don’t want to do this in the future now. When I worked on that paper, I got so frustrated that I threw my butcher knife against the wall, my hairbrush, tin jewelry container, etc., screaming. I’m pretty sure I woke up some of my poor floormates. Looking back on my semester, I got dry eye from all the reading I’ve done for the semester and cuts on my shoulder out of self-hating frustration at my Neurophysiolgy professor. I couldn’t live like this anymore.

I guess from the past year of going through all the rough spots with my boyfriend, I learned that life is too precious to be with someone you don’t love and too short to have a career that I am no longer inspired by. I’ve changed so much from that girl who wanted to do research, be a high school biology teacher and eventually, a university professor who cares for her students, because she (still) thinks neuroscience students are very special and intelligent. Being in the neuroscience world, however–the classes, professors, and overall research culture–broke down the last bit of curiosity and drive I had for the subject. I loved neuroscience, once, but I no longer have a future in it. In fact, I might have committed suicide before even getting a job (see previous posts), and my dean knew it. Don’t worry, the school put me on Lamictal (…will write a post later about my meds and being bipolar), thank goodness.

I made the exit the moment my boyfriend suggested I should do something with my artistic talent and taste, so I decided: Design. I have a good eye, and not only would preparing for art school heal me psychologically from three damaging years studying science at Smith, I can help make things instead of being stuck in a dead end job that involves no creativity for the rest of my life. I would work five years to a B.S. in Industrial Design or Product design than get a B.A. in Neuroscience in a year any day.

Forty Six

Regarding my friends on the East Coast,

I haven’t been making any effort to see them, because I feel like honestly, it’s time for me to move on. We haven’t fought, we haven’t argued, but I feel like I’m in a world so different from theirs now that I feel alone whenever I hang out with them.

I don’t want to splurge personal secrets that may hurt my boyfriend on here, but they knew things that I told them thinking they were mature enough to handle it. I was so wrong and so unsurprised when I watched one of them (who talks non-stop anyways about everything that pops into her head and was a very sheltered child) basically shout what I told her throughout the dining hall. Another friend sat next to her and shrugged, “Well, these are your decisions and shame is one of the consequences.” I learned that the motor-mouth friend also told another friend, who we all know can’t keep a single thing to herself, and I felt so alone.

I forgive my friends, because they, like many people at my school, are naive. The world works only one way and it’s obvious who the bad guys and good guys are to them.  Going through the things I told them has made me learn how to stand my ground and feel invincible, so they do not hurt me when they judge my boyfriend and I and our dreams whenever I see them. They can still be my bridesmaids. Two of them can still be my kids’ godmothers. I am just tired of being verbally beaten down by them all the time and being thrown things I’ve already been hit by.

There are so many things wrong with this. I know I shouldn’t sacrifice my friends for my relationship, because they care about me. I am not sacrificing them. I still care about them. When they are hungry, I give them food. When they need somewhere to be because they don’t want to go bed yet, they can hang out in my room. When they want to see me, I go downstairs and hang out with them. I make them laugh, give them the same bad advice, and voice the same questionable opinions. We are still friends. It’s just that we are too different for me to say that we are friends, because we all have so much in common, because we really don’t anymore. My friends on the West Coast though, they’re chill, and I’ll talk about them in a later post.

Forty Two

After a night out with my friends and myself,

I’m feeling cranky as fuck. I went out with my friend to an Asian fusion restaurant where I accidentally ordered something not vegetarian and had to give it to my friend. Then I agreed to get boba afterwards — the SoCal Asian American way to lift the mood and get acquainted — because she also invited this other friend who I barely knew. And after those series of bad decisions, especially since I’m slightly sick with a sore throat and headache, I decided to go off on my own and get some Ricola. And of course, I got distracted and wandered into a few shops, but I didn’t buy anything, which is progress.

I walked into the room and saw what was wrong: My desk and floor are covered with clothes, books, papers, and everything else I didn’t bother to pick up. Three apples are still on my shelf, because I was too lazy to wash them. My mooncake box is sitting there with two uneaten mooncakes that I can’t possibly digest on my own. I also feet pretty fat, which is strange, because I worked out more in the past week than I have all summer. Oh yea, it’s because I just dropped my yoga class.

Then there are my readings, just piling up on me. I know it’s only, let’s see, four to five hours of reading to do before next Monday, because I could barely get through my biology notes yesterday from being so tired. I was so good the past week until two days ago. I kept up with everything, but now every little thing is stressing me out again. Maybe it’s just me taking on too many big commitments: long distance, becoming treasurer of a club, and being on my house council, but that’s what Junior year is for. Junior year: growing the fuck up before it’s too late.

Later this evening, I realized that it’s because I’m trying to balance one more commitment. Before, it was just friends, and schoolwork, and Hulu. Hulu could wait. Hulu wasn’t a person who loves me with 100% of his heart, and I can pause Hulu whenever I wanted. My boyfriend however, isn’t television. He may seem like it, since he’s just in my computer screen in this painfully long distance relationship, but I don’t feel an absence when a TV show isn’t on like I do when I’m not Skyping with my beloved.

Also, I wasn’t taking my vitamins, and I was in denial that the weather’s getting colder and let a cold sneak up on me. I need to take better care of myself, and take back my friends, my work, and my moments alone instead of becoming so dependent on my boyfriend. He’s great. Wonderful, even. But my friends are right, I cannot be consumed by him. Well, okay, at least I can not Skype with him for more than one hour a day. Today was what? One and half? Two hours? Yeesh. It’s hard to say goodnight to that man, but I’ll try my best for my best friends, who helped me make it this far.