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 Nine

After a long and unforgettable summer,

I am finally starting art classes. I took a design and business class at a local UC, and I’m glad I did. Everything was so fresh after being stuck in the science world for so long. Discussions were more about every day life than medicine, biology, and research. Although people were no less humble, at least they were real. It was just art or business. Nothing about bragging of whose lab you are working for or hiding which lab you are applying for. It’s all about helping or competing with each other—straight up, no secrets.

With that done, I’m finally starting product design night classes. That leaves my morning to sleep and do whatever the hell I want during the night, because everyone just bothers me in the morning. If I’m not interrupted, I have to go out to get something or do something with someone else or else I will feel trapped. That’s what’s tough about dropping out of school and moving back in, the suffocation. However, I have no fear, because doing extra work for my product design classes gives me calm and some feeling of direction. I hate nothing more than a lack of control over my own decisions.

And beliefs. I have also been going to church with a very close friend of mine who I’ve known since forever. I have no other consistent friend in Southern California than her, except that the best way for me to see her is to go to church with her. She invited me to go the first time. And when you go to church the first time and everyone is just so welcoming and in need of some new members for this start-up Baptist church, you go the second time and the next. I made it clear to her that I am not a Christian, and yet I still go. In fact, I’ve joined the book club for crying out loud. This weekend, I’m setting my foot down and telling her I will only show up to an intelligent book discussion and not the [very-extremist-not-very-well-thought-out] sermons. I’m going to a Buddhist temple nearby instead, because it’s so peaceful there. I also need to scout out some spiritual activity for my sort-of Buddhist boyfriend and his family to go to when they fly over.

I should write about my summer that I spent with my boyfriend and his family later, because I learned a lot from it about one thing: love and family. All I have room to say for now is that although some of my family have grown distant over the years, I have gained new, wonderful family through my soon-to-be husband, and what a lucky girl I am.

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.

Eight

Sorry about being 10 minutes late. The internet was down. 

Since I didn’t learn to drive until last-last year,

I never visited many places on my own. I was often picked up and dropped off by friends and family for outings, school, or tutoring. I also had this “I will go to New York where people are more cultured and less dependent on cars” phase in high school that quickly died when I learned that I’m not a fan of public transportation, pretentiousness, or snow. Maybe it was my lack of freedom that caused my angst, because now that I can drive, I feel in control of my decisions. I drive myself to cafes, bookstores, and libraries where I can focus. I also drive myself to the gym every other day where I can finally exercise and be in a health positive environment. I even drive myself to the mall to reward myself with small purchases that add some, well, “normal” young adult fashion to my Khols sweaters and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (Note to self: Write a blog post in the near future about my weird wardrobe). Overall, I’m officially a southern Californian who drives more than she should and can’t go a month without visiting a fancy mall or eating decent Asian fast food.

The rush of Californian traffic is also therapeutic. In my car, I would play music with the windows always rolled up, even when it is steaming hot inside, because I own my space with sound. The travel time, the background music, and the reassurance that I am going somewhere gives me the perfect environment to sort out my thoughts. That’s why I love long drives on the highway ever since I got my first MP3 player and ear buds. I would watch the road marks appear and disappear in beat with my music while my family argued or slept in the van. Even now, I enjoy long, half hour rides to my therapist listening to songs on repeat on my perfect HTC One phone and Beats Solo headphones. Something about watching cars go by and the sun shine down on a green valley or dry, grassy hills makes me take a deep reflective breath and promise to never leave southern California again after college. The New England snow is beautiful and the trees and little houses there look like they’re from a postcard, but the glow of the Californian sun is more than precious gold, it’s also a warm, reassuring feeling that another beautiful day is waiting for me tomorrow.

Two

Regarding ambition,

I’m finally starting to learn the difference between being ahead and doing just right. Yes, just right sometimes means average, and average feels unacceptable for students who have been on gifted/honors/AP tracks for most of their American education. I remember being in a regular classroom in sixth grade and the first semester of seventh grade, and I felt my brain cells were dying. Most of all, I felt less, because I wasn’t ahead with the gifted kids and I wanted to be gifted. I so deserved to get out of the regular class. Finally, I entered the overachieving culture of gifted/honors/AP students, and I proved myself through grades. Unfortunately, that also cushioned my ego, making it very sensitive to my grade fluctuations, and my dependence on grades for confidence took a toll on my sanity and soon, my grades (yes, ironically). I starting pulling all-nighters in 8th grade, and this habit affected my family until I graduated high school. I thought these all-nighters gave me extra time to do perfect work. It did give me extra time, but I didn’t produce perfect work. It was also torture. When I don’t sleep, my body feels this itch beneath my skin like I have to move and work until I collapse and sleep for 20+ hours, which is what I did on Friday afternoons to Saturday mornings. I was torturing and isolating myself for my grades while my classmates seemed to live relaxed, appropriately social lives.

While I promised myself that college will be different, I starting to pull this again second semester of college when I felt I was struggling in two classes, and I soon withdrew for reasons that will require another blog post. I re-took some courses at a local university, and I learned that average behavior, not perfectionist behavior, was what earned me my straight A’s. I completed work according to the teacher’s criteria, handed in on time, and received the grades I deserved and fixed what I got wrong. In other words, I finally grew up and let go of the world where I constantly had the advantage of better teachers, more opportunities, and a better learning environment over my peers, because that world is not real life. I had to re-learn how to live rationally rather than competitively, and most importantly, how to be sane, content, and smart.

I know I’m not the only one who suffered this. Plenty of students put on the mask that everything is okay when they just want to crawl into a hole and sleep for two days. I’m not the only one, right?

One

On reflection,

Even though I’m 19 years old, I am what someone would call a “late bloomer.” In fact, I’m still in the blooming process as I learn how to live less frustratingly without depression, obsessive compulsiveness, and perfectionism running my life. As I am playing catch-up with my peers, all of whom seem to have a clearer idea of how they want to present themselves, what they want to do, and how they deal with things, I try to make habits as I go instead of resolutions I might forget. Here are some habits I want to keep doing and how I can (hopefully) take them a step further:

  1. Journaling. I’ve always liked to write a diary, because it helps me take care of myself, become motivated to do things for the right reasons, remind myself that I sometimes make mountains about of molehills, and learn from my mistakes. I want to take this one step further with this blog and take ownership for what I write.
  2. Going to sleep. I will post about this more later, but I’ve been going to sleep at a healthy hour more regularly than I ever have. By that, I mean midnight or one or two hours after, but all-nighters? Never again. I learned that my body can’t handle the stress on top of actual stress caused by schoolwork. Now, all I need is to sleep at 10 AM to set my biological clock for second semester, when I plan on waking up at 6 (okay, maybe 7) in the morning every day to avoid studying at night, when I’m basically brain dead and miserable.
  3. Exercising. With the exception of all these holidays, I am going to the gym regularly, as a result, I must do 10 push-ups or more than 30 sit ups a day to get rid of the restlessness in my body. Hopefully, that can continue when I go back to school, since the gym would be all the way across campus, and I’m not sure if it will be a female only space like my gym in southern California.
  4. Talking to teachers, sort of. I’ve talked to teachers more than I did in the past, when I never talked to teachers ever. Something about teachers scared me, because of their humanness and their power over my grades. However, I learned that teachers are reasonable, and my therapist told me how Americans like self-advocacy. I took advantage of both and advocated for myself for research opportunities and answers to my questions about those opportunities. Although I haven’t gotten into the program I want yet and have been rejected from several research labs, I think corresponding with professors, even though I spammed biology professors from my local university one by one, has made me bolder, more confident, and more informed.

I hope these are all obtainable. What are the things that you want to keep doing right?