I recently said goodbye to someone I met just this summer. I don’t know how to explain it, but his presence brought a surge of new energy into my life that inspired spontaneity and also reminded me of how it feels to be fragile and vulnerable. I feel alive again, although I’ll admit I’m still shaking off the feeling of withdrawal that rushed over me after I left on Friday morning. It sort of feels like a different form of re-entry blues after an escape from reality. These past few months reminded me that there are still great people in the world that I haven’t met yet and more experiences to come — I feel inspired to love myself and connect with the world again as I continue my journey of healing, indulgence and self-discovery.

So if you’re reading this, I’m glad you came along when you did. I’m at a point where I no longer need you, but a part of me still wants you. But even after these feelings and memories fade, I’ll always think of you fondly and you’ll always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for getting me back on my feet.🦶🏻

I’m currently in a holding pattern in my late twenties. As I take this moment to reflect on my experience over the past few years, it turns out that I never had a plan and it worked out for the most part. I picked my college for its proximity to the beach, never applied for an internship in my life and didn’t bother submitting any job applications when I graduated either. I even picked up a second major in my senior year of college and studied abroad twice to delay graduation. With my shiny new diploma in hand, this was all I needed for my next transition right back to living with my mom as an unemployed millennial. This was when I learned how to climb rocks and drank beer in high volume. (Really selling myself to employers right now…) That memory was the last time I remember having absolutely no adult responsibilities. In hindsight my underachieving (and privilege) led to some of the happiest moments of my life. 😀

After a year or so I left my family and friends to accept a random job offer that paid below minimum wage in San Francisco, which really shows the how thoughtful I was at 23. I met the best roommate of my life randomly on Craigslist, met my first new friend at work, biked the Golden Gate bridge for the first time, worked at my first tech company and now I’m suddenly turning 29 this year. San Francisco is where I discovered my strengths and found my voice. This is also where I got the wind knocked out of me. Over time I drifted further away emotionally from good friends and family, and then what really crushed me was losing my Grampy.  I realized that I’m no longer in touch with my personal values. I don’t remember what I even set out to do back when I wanted to move out.

I believe that not all who wander are lost. Technically, every day is a “new start” but sometimes getting a new start involves letting go of old routines and relationships that keep us from moving forward. I’m fortunate enough to live a dream that I once thought was impossible for someone like me, but now I need to take some time to explore and reconnect with my values. I live to learn, to understand, to bring out the best in others, and to give back to my community. I’m grateful for all the people who helped me along the way and hope that I can do the same for others.

As for what I’m looking forward to in the next stage of life:

  • Challenges
  • Deep relationships
  • Creativity
  • Influence
  • Fun
  • Community

It’s time to reset. I’ve realized that it’s okay to lose your spark, but now it’s time to rise back up as the whole damn fire.

Well here’s the summary.

Worked too much.

Ate good food.

Traveled everywhere.

Lived out of a suitcase.

Lost someone who meant the world to me.

Felt alone, taken advantage of, misunderstood.

Barraged with inauthenticity.

Lost hope.

Numbed the pain.

Longed for family more than ever.

Reunited with my best friends from high school after 10 years and experienced pure joy.

Found comfort in the ones who matter.

Found appreciation for the simplicity of my beginnings.

Felt more powerful and more helpless than I ever was.

The emotional pain was too much at times.

At one point I felt physical heart ache.

Woke up with chest pain and tears in my eyes every day.

Some cared, but it just wasn’t enough.

I hid from the world.

Numbed the pain more.

Challenged my values.

Let go.

I prayed for all of this when I was a kid.

The message is tattooed onto my body.

I wanted to feel everything.

Even the lowest of low, complete and utter despair.

Because now I can help others better.

I still feel resentment.

And that’s okay.

I learned that it means knowing who to trust.

I’ve grown.

Time eventually heals all.

worst day of my life

2018 has been one of the shittiest years of my life (so far). I lost my grandfather, worked long hours with hostile business partners, and constantly felt misunderstood and alone until I woke up one day feeling hopeless. My physical and mental health deteriorated. I lost 10+ lbs, I contemplated suicide on a regular basis, I stopped socializing with my friends and started abusing substances. I lost interest in all of my hobbies, and even lost interest in food, sleep and sex. I lost my sense of meaning and purpose in life. I used to think I was strong and resilient enough to overcome any challenge, but I don’t feel as invincible as I did when I was a 21 year old bushy-tailed college grad anymore. Now I’m just aware of how fragile life really is.

The result? I feel humbled. I’ve realized that I am not strong enough to make it on my own. I learned what it means to treat others with compassion through the actions of my friends who were patient with me even when I was the worst version of myself. I learned that it is acceptable to be vulnerable and ask for help. I learned to hold back judgement because I don’t know what else other people are going through. In the words of my friend (we’ll call her Almond), the most interesting people are those who have experienced hardship and come out the other side even stronger than before.

I’m feeling much better now, and with this Thanksgiving holiday break I finally have time to pause and reflect. I’m incredibly thankful for all the people I’ve met in my life who invested in me and supported me so that I can have the life I’ve always wanted. I’m blessed to have good friends from back home who still check in and have proactively made an effort to keep in touch with me even when I was too depressed to respond to their messages. I’m lucky to have met such an incredible group of new friends up in the Bay Area who constantly remind me why they love me and why I matter to them every day. I just don’t understand what I did to deserve some of the most selfless and caring people in my life. My best friend at work (Almond) volunteered to take half of my workload to help me. My manager has been inspiring me and protecting me behind the scenes for as long as I’ve known him. My family always welcomes me home with open arms and showers me with their time and with love. As I sit here counting my blessings, I realize I have more than I could ever ask for because I have some of the most incredible people on my side.

In life there are only lessons. This one was particularly difficult for me, but even this too shall pass. Now as I’m starting to rebuild myself, I hope to become someone who is strong enough to take care of my loved ones and pay it forward to others who are struggling. True friendship is rare, but it’s the only thing that keeps me going when the going gets tough. After all, what’s the point of doing anything if there is nobody to share it with?

Everybody has bad days. And bad days are necessary to help you appreciate the good ones. Except that whenever I have a bad day, it just feels even harder to get through it when I know I was not supposed to be here.

I’m still don’t understand why my mom chose to deliver me, an accidental illegitimate love child who was brought into a broken home. I stumbled through my childhood with the help of temporary guardians and a community of kind neighbors, and with mom’s credit card in hand, I had all the freedom in the world. Then adulthood hit.

That’s when I realized what a shitty person I had become. I had become an entitled, insensitive, selfish brat who lashed out at all the good people around me. Take the lack of communication skills, add poor coping skills, add a pinch of desire for self-improvement, subtract the last ounce of motivation or discipline, and here we have the giant shit show that some refer to as “life”.

Now take what I just told you, make 7 billion unique variations, throw them all together and stir the pot to watch the chaos unfold. I think my new dream job is to become the next god/the creator/the big teenager in the sky/the designer of the simulation, if there’s ever the chance. Doesn’t hurt to ask.

So now I’m on this journey of self-improvement and discovery, right? But then the desire to stay warm and fed took center stage when mom took back her credit card. I formed a few tribes along the way, but I tend to fire my pent-up anger directly at members of my tribe until they’re gone for good. I realize that the only constant variable in all of my failed relationships is myself. Back to square one — back to the original goal of self-improvement while exploring what life has to offer.

But wait, adulthood comes with roadblocks. I’m talking about different sets of rules, penalties, and social norms for each role. The realistic options to explore are more limited than the time when I still had freedom and unsupervised free time. Although had I spent that time recklessly, I’d be worse off today. The only way to override the rules is with an infinite supply of currency.

That’s all I want. It’s not really money that I want, but the ability to override the rules at my discretion. Except that I’m indentured to my corporate masters and stuck on the grid forever.

Maybe ignorance is bliss. I should stop asking so many questions. Guess they’ve finally worn me down.

But that still doesn’t change the fact that I was not supposed to be here. Why wasn’t I aborted when it made no sense at the time? I can feel. I can think. How am I supposed to feel positive emotions when my only two options are between producing for the corporate masters or producing another slave for the next generation of corporate masters?

So leave me alone with my anger and sadness. Just let me feel how I want to feel. (Hopeless and discouraged.)

Stop giving so many shits.

Don’t.

After nearly 4 years of being in a serious relationship, last year I made a tough decision to end it.

Throughout the last year too many people badgered me with too many ignorant, snide opinions that were unhelpful. Whenever someone would bring up my significant other in a conversation, it was like violent diarrhea — I knew it was coming but didn’t have time to do anything about it before the words came spewing out.

“What do you guys even talk about?”

“He’s too old for you.”

“I bet you’re just hanging onto him until you meet a better guy.”

Here’s the thing I learned about taking relationship advice – the best thing someone can do is pass down some general wisdom. At an individual level nobody is qualified to give situational counseling because:

  • Someone else is an outsider hearing one perspective. Unless that person witnessed what happened, the advice that comes back would change depending on how you told the story.
  • You and your partner know yourselves and know each other better than anyone else. Unless someone else was present for every private, intimate conversation you had with your partner, that person would not understand your relationship dynamic enough to give helpful advice. If you don’t understand the business model, then you can’t consult.
  • You and your partner have a stake in the game, others don’t. So while you are sent into a war zone, they’re just standing on sidelines waiting for you to report back. At the end of the day, you and your partner will feel the loss and pain from your decision. So do it on your timeline, and do it when you feel ready.
  • It’s really none of anybody’s business.
  • There is no right or wrong in life. We all have different personalities, different goals, different interests… same goes for relationships. We all look for different traits in a partner and have varying levels of tolerance for what we can put up with. Define your own goals and values, and even if they’re unpopular, make decisions in line with what you want.

Think of relationships like a journey of self-discovery. At any given point during this journey, you have a choice to continue on or turn around and quit. Rather than focusing on arbitrary milestones that are measured in years, dollars, or age, remember that the focus is having fun with learning about yourself together with a close partner. And when the time is right, you will just know.

Yelp employee Talia Jane was recently fired from her customer support job after publishing a letter directed at the company’s CEO. In this letter, she publicly agonized over her personal struggles as an entry-level employee making minimum wage in one of the most expensive cities in America.

As a millennial, I felt disappointed after reading her letter because unfortunately, one person’s actions will fuel the public’s negative perception about an entire subset of people. It’s just not cool to claim that people born between 1980-1995 are all conceited, lazy and spoiled okay? Okay thanks.

First of all, I’m also 25. I also live 15 miles away from the city in the East Bay and take BART to work every day. I also moved to the Bay Area with a job offer that was actually paying less than minimum wage at the time, also because I wanted to pursue a career in digital media. I got my hands dirty – some days for 12 hours at the office as an assistant, all just to learn a skill set for an industry that I wanted to break into. I wouldn’t say that I was comfortable back then, but I loved every minute of my life and if I could go back in time I would do it all over again. (But hopefully not again in my present life. Heh!)

I did everything I could to save money and believe it or not, every dollar does add up and compound interest really is quite spectacular. Before starting that angry letter to your boss over social media, consider the following:

  1. Ask for a raise. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to ask. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I was in a bad position to ask for a raise because I had absolutely NO relevant experience at the time and was still learning. However, I pointed out to my boss that the minimum wage had increased that year and scored my coworkers and myself an additional $43 per month. It was a proud day to learn that I was finally making minimum wage… :/
  2.  Pay less in rent. Given the competitive housing market, I know it sounds like I’m joking but I’m not. For two weeks I refreshed every housing website (PadMapper, Craigslist, etc.) every day multiple times per day, filtering for anything that was under $1,000 per month. I now live with a roommate in the East Bay in a building with paper-thin walls that sometimes have mold and has laminated warnings everywhere stating that my building does not meet earthquake safety codes.
  3. Walk. My office was nowhere near the BART stations. I saved $2 each direction by not taking Muni the rest of the way to work. I woke up earlier and left the house by 7:30 to get to work by 9 and walked 3 miles every day, rain or shine. This saved me $20/week, which was a lot of money at the time.
  4. Scrounge for free food. I drank free office coffee, ate people’s leftovers, skipped meals, ate the old frozen bagels sitting in the office freezer… I also bought cereal in bulk, which was my breakfast, lunch, and snack at work.
  5. But… nutrition! I was lucky to receive a NutriBullet as a gift that year. I bought the massive $5 box of spinach from Safeway each week and blended fruit + veggie smoothies with an added scoop of protein powder with appetite suppressant. Then I ate a lot of pasta.
  6. Keep your clothes clean. I felt that $3.50 per load of laundry was a ripoff, so I started spot-cleaning and hand washing my clothes. I also kept a tide pen on hand to treat stains right when it happened. I ran a full load of laundry every 3-4 weeks.
  7. Buy cheaper clothes. Forget shopping at department stores. In fact, forget shopping at all. One time, I actually took hand-me-downs FROM MY BOSS.
  8. Accessorize. Buy solid colors that are easy to match with, and dress the same outfit up or down with different combinations of accessories.
  9. Gym? What’s a gime? Forfeit the gym membership for now. Take advantage of free trials, and purchase dumbbells and a yoga mat for workouts at home. Go running or hiking outdoors for free.
  10. Kiss all your subscriptions goodbye. I did not have a Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Spotify subscription. The free version of Spotify allows at most 6 skips, so this one time on BART I watched the woman sitting next to me flip through unlimited songs on her Spotify Premium account as I continued listening to the German Kidz Bop version of Gangster’s Paradise “recommended” for me on the free version.
  11. FunCheapSF. Boyfie and I found a free improv class on the site. Then we went to John’s Ice Cream in Berkeley for the $1 ice cream cones. Believe it or not, it doesn’t cost much to have fun when there is no alcohol involved. Another option is BYOB in a sunblock flask the old fashioned way. 😉
  12. It’s only temporary. Keep learning and be patient. Think of it as an opportunity to prove how resilient you really are.

This year I joined the quarter-centenarian club with my fellow 1990 babies. I admit that I stumbled through the early years of adulthood rather haphazardly without a clue about who I was or what I wanted to pursue in life. As I reflect on the last few years I spent experimenting with, and often times failing at the art of “adult’ing”, I realized that my preconception about transforming into someone who has it all figured out is a lie. Although I still have much to learn, life has taught me a few lessons that I may never forget (in no particular order):

  • On negativity: At some point, someone will tell you that you are not good enough, you’re not a good fit, you’re not my type, you can’t, etc. DO think about feedback carefully, but DO NOT allow a trivial opinion discourage you from chasing your dreams. Revel in your personal wins, and disregard comments that simply aren’t true.
  • On friendship: On that note, surround yourself with good friends who are positive and supportive as this will affect the quality of your life and happiness. Tell your loved ones how much you love and care about them, and always make time for those who matter. Fight constructively and forgive often. Life is too short – you can always make more money, but people will not be around forever.
  • On communication: Say what you mean and mean what you say. Stand up for yourself and learn how to say no. Authenticity is just too rare these days.
  • On failure: Failure is nothing to be afraid of. As my pal likes to remind me, the sun will rise again tomorrow and you will have another chance to try again. Take risks, learn from your mistakes, lather, rinse, repeat.
  • On finances: Save, invest, and live below your means. Status symbols are worthless; build real wealth instead because compound interest is a real thing. This means pay off debt, cook meals at home, pay as little rent as possible, wait for sales, understand need vs. want, and don’t bother with the Joneses (to add to note on friendship – real friends don’t treat you differently because of what you have.)
  • On happiness: Practice gratitude every day. It’s human nature to continually strive for the next best thing, so it’s easy to become blinded by the have-nots. Appreciate the roof over your head, the food on the table, and the breath you just took because as you are reading this someone else just took their last.
  • On health: You get one body so take care of it. Life is difficult to enjoy or can get cut short when you are sick. Eat veggies, drink water, get enough sleep, and keep moving. This is not something you can throw money at and hope it goes away.
  • On perspective: Always have a sense of humor. Life is full of ups and downs, so just accept the facts and enjoy the journey! Trust me – in the grand scheme of things, your problems are probably not a big deal. Learn to laugh at yourself.
  • On introspection: Know who you are and what matters to you. Now make sure your actions align with your values. This is called acting with integrity. This is the key to happiness, confidence, and learning to love yourself.
  • On learning: Learning doesn’t stop after graduation. Life is not about figuring it all out. A life learner is relentless in the pursuit of self-improvement and finding the discipline to push through struggles in a valiant effort to become the best at anything. Keep challenging yourself. There is always room to grow.

Quotefancy-7025-3840x2160

I was once under the impression that everything gets better with time. I thought that as an adult, I would figure out exactly what I wanted in life, overcome my fears, and actively pursue the things that matter the most to me. Apparently this is not the case because I still struggle with self-discovery, not to mention that I still have an irrational fear of clowns and dolls. As I look to other people for inspiration, I’ve noticed that many people are not sure of their passions or purpose in life either. That said, whenever I meet accomplished people, I’m shocked to find out that even the most admirable ones can have trivial insecurities. This comes to show that what you feel is often not what others perceive.

In a nutshell, insecurity is a state of mind that makes people feel like they are not good enough. It could be self-inflicted or stem from any external sources from childhood, bullies, negative people, or the media. My pal believes that we have two lives existing – the one we live and the one we dream of living. Whenever we push ourselves closer toward the life that we dream of living, we sometimes stumble along the way and doubt ourselves when we fall. The anxiety that comes with insecurity can be crippling and people sometimes just give up on their goals just because they’re afraid of admitting failure.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

I remember one rather frustrating summer in 1996 when I thought my grandpa was teaching me multi-digit multiplication, but I learned something even more valuable that evening. He said I would be allowed to watch TV if I finished all his practice problems, but as an Asian who still can’t do math, I didn’t grasp the concept in time to catch The Simpsons. As I kept getting each and every problem wrong while missing my show, I eventually dropped the pencil and gave up. That was the day Grampy sat me down and passed down his words to live by. He made me realize that life only gets harder, so giving up is not an option. Find what scares you the most, and do it over and over until it doesn’t feel scary anymore. Except heroin. That stuff is scary for a reason – stay far, far away.

Insecurities are just areas of opportunity to challenge ourselves and grow. It is important to remember that we all have to start somewhere, so you cannot compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 30. Fail over and over, but do not give up and most importantly, always remember to love yourself for who you are.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

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