Tag Archives: growth

2017 Was Dramatic AF: A watered down reflection of my year and maybe some insight (but probably not)

Hey! It’s me. Coming at ya with another grossly overdone post about making the new year one of dramatic transformation that’ll probably only last a month. I’ve always despised these types of posts because I usually found them to be overly pretentious. Self-improvement shouldn’t come at the beginning of a new year. We don’t have to wait for January 1st to start going to the gym. We don’t need to wait till Monday to start drinking 2L of water everyday. Becoming a better version of ourselves should be a continual process. But whatever. We’re already here, so just pile me in with all those other unoriginal posts. 

2017 has been a year full of growth and revelations. Which really doesn’t make it all that special because my dramatic ass has been “coming to realizations” every other month. My life is really just one existential crises after the other.

I’ve never been one to follow a routine. Most of my life, even up till now, has been me winging it and just making it to the deadline. Although that hasn’t done anything overly damaging to my social circles, my work life, or my academic career, this way of living isn’t all that fulfilling.

I noticed that by me procrastinating all the damn time, that I got so used to the stress and headache of deadlines that I didn’t feel normal without it. I convinced myself that that’s just how I am and that’s how I work best. But after years and years and years of living with this mentality, I finally just admitted to myself that I was only making excuses.

I felt lost and stuck because I didn’t know where to go or if I was even going anywhere. I didn’t challenge myself enough to actually work towards something. I simply followed my syllabi, centered my life around my work schedule and the agendas my professors created for me and realized other people were creating the ins and outs of my daily life.

One of my favorite authors once claimed: 

“The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

That’s what my life had come to. I followed the patterns others had set out for me because I was too lazy, too undisciplined, and too unbothered to come up with one my own. I became a passive participant in my own world.

To overcompensate for this, I began doing the things I wanted to do when I wanted to do them and did the things I needed to do only when I had no other option. Almost all of my time was me playing catch-up with papers and readings and somehow still doing pretty well in the end. But the means to getting there was filled with stress and depression and an overall lack of satisfaction. I prioritized “fun” over work because I convinced myself that my “mental well-being” was just as important when in actuality, I was just using it as an excuse to mess around. In hindsight, if I had just prioritized what needed to be accomplished, I would’ve had a much better time doing the things I wanted to do because I wouldn’t have had anything in the back of my mind causing me to worry.

I’m graduating in 5months (fingers crossed) and I’ve been clouded by the shadow of impending adulthood and afraid of what’s to come. I ask myself constantly, “Well, what do you want to do and how are you going to achieve it?” This lead to me overanalyzing my process to success. I started to see that my stress and lack of happiness with school, work, and, ultimately, myself was due to my lack of discipline.

But that just so happens to be one of the hardest things to master.

Why would I want to write a critical analysis paper when I can just go on Twitter and laugh at things infinitely more enjoyable?

Why do I want to save money when I can buy a movie ticket instead?

Why would I wake up at 6 am if my class doesn’t start until 11?

If I cut out breakfast, I could have more time to sleep in.

I lacked discipline. And discipline, in my belief, is at the core of all achievements.

I know this.

But one of the oddest facets of my mentality, and perhaps many others, is that I know and understand certain truths but still fail to change my behavior and my ways. I inhibit myself. This begs the question: even if I know the truth, even if I understand what it takes to feel fulfilled and satisfied and successful (whatever my definition of that term may be) what does it really take to achieve these things I want in life?

The truth as I have come to learn is that I just have to do it. Because in the end, only I am responsible for what my life has come to. Someone can sabotage me or all my work could burn down in a fire and set me back, but if I choose to stay there, that is my own conscious decision. And I’ll be damned if I let anyone, most of all myself, screw me over.

All that to say that 2018– and the years following it– will be a time of just fucking doing it. Whatever it may be.

So carry me forwards, 2018. I’m (somewhat) ready.

We Should Be More Like Butterflies

Do you ever look at a butterfly and notice its translucent wings of various hues and patterns? It flutters in the sunlight and its beauty is magnificent. We marvel at the hands of nature, so skilled and so brilliant to be able to create a creature so immaculate. Yet, when we look at a caterpillar, often times, we view it only as what it can be, not what it is. The significance of a caterpillar is not that it is a caterpillar, but that it can become a butterfly.

Such a creature is characterized most of all by its evolution, which is the epitome of profound reinvention. A caterpillar’s very being is made of billions of cells who dutifully perform every task necessary to prepare its host for the final stages of metamorphosis. It sheds its old skin, lives in a new one for a while and when it outgrows that one, it sheds again. Then when it is ready, the caterpillar hides from the world, cocoons itself in a hard casing, and forms a chrysalis. It is during this time of progression that the cells of the caterpillar start changing rapidly. It eats itself and turns to liquid inside its pupa, molding into a new form better equipped for its new life. Old, unnecessary cells make room for improved ones while the other cells that remain reshape themselves into eyes, legs, wings and antennas– all the parts necessary for its reintroduction into the world. Then once the butterfly is ready, it fights its way out of its cocoon.

It reaches the final stage of its transformation, but it is still weak. Its body is still tender from the process of its transition. There is a brief period after it first unfolds from its casing where the butterfly must stop and give itself time for blood to fill its wings.

It strengthens.

Then it flies.

No longer confined to the limits of its many legs, the butterfly explores the infinite paths of new wings.

Butterfly
A butterfly that graciously landed on me and stayed still long enough for me to take a picture.

We are, in so many ways, caterpillars crawling and consuming ceaselessly and without thought. When we reach our limit, we find ourselves at a standstill. During this time, it is easy to think we’ve reached our end and that there’s nowhere else to go. Like the cells of the caterpillar, every part of us will start to seem useless, unable to perform the tasks that were once necessary for survival and for growth. Our old cells are no longer beneficial, so we outgrow them. Thus begins our own transition where our old self forces itself into a new mold. We learn, adapt, and become better versions of who we are.

It is because we have these periods of weakness that we can achieve such strength. And just like butterflies, the lengths of our transitions vary among each one of us. While some may only take a couple weeks to transform themselves, others can take months and even years. Regardless, we are not defined by how long it may take us to escape our cocoon because we are ever-growing creatures running through an obstacle course that’s unique to us.

So when you look upon others who seem to be soaring with ease, and feelings of defeat start to consume you, remember that you are still a changing caterpillar simply growing within your chrysalis. The process of your transformation will be an arduous one. Yet, it is because of its difficulty that you will be better. You will be stronger. You will leave your cocoon with wings so radiant, you will be blinding. 

And yes. You will be magnificent.

My Life Explained By Numbers

Challenge Day 1: Introduce Yourself 

I have lived a grand total of 1,070 weeks, which, factoring in the date of my birth is exactly 7,489 days today. This is not including leap year so really I’ve lived a total of 7,494 days. That means I am made up of 10,791,360 minutes of alternating good and bad decisions, lazy days, detours and misadventures, lies, love, 99¢ ramen runs and 1 Rihanna concert. I am 3 inches above 60 and 115lbs of solidified magic and madness. I have been with 3 people, only said “I love you” to one, have 5 close friends I would do anything for, 4 parents I love more than anything, and a dog I would jump in front of a slowly moving car for. I am the 3rd kid in a group of 5, but I am legally an only child. I was adopted 1,089 days from my birth and have lived on the island of Guam for nearly 6,400 days.

Roughly 40.8% of my time has been dedicated to aiming for decent grades, memorizing various literary devices, and trying but failing to find the solutions to limits as x approaches a constant. Since I will be entering my senior year of college in 3 months I still have about 180 days left of school. I spend around 8 hours studying and attending classes 5 days out of 7. That’s roughly 40 hours a week pursuing my academic goals. This number, of course, varies upon the time in the semester, the amount of credit hours, and the type of student, but I’d say it’s comparable to a full time job. That leaves the other 59.2% of my time left to spend with my family, friends, and pursuits towards personal endeavors outside of academia.

As for a few defining moments, towards the middle of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 I experienced the best and worst time of my life. I spent 305 days in a different state, attending 12 hours of school each week and a large part of the the remaining 156 hours mainly focusing on a healthy appetite for social interaction. During those days, I spent 5 months nurturing a relationship, which 153 days later would fall apart once I flew 7,145 miles back home. This, coupled with the fact that I’d be leaving the satisfaction of sudden independence and roughly 25 brand-spanking-new good friends, left me with 213 days battling with what turned out to be the hardest yet most transformative season of my life thus far.

My first day back on Guam I landed at 10 o’clock in the evening, fell asleep around midnight, and 6 hours later woke up to go on a morning hike to distract myself from the pain I knew would be inevitable. The next 2 days succeeding that were spent with tears wallowing in sadness so deep, at times I could do nothing more than curl up in a ball and force myself to go to sleep. It was nearly 3 months of complete devastation and a sense of yearning for something I couldn’t yet name.

On day 3, I had had it with depression and vowed to do everything in my power to never feel that way again. As a result, the 76 days that followed from then on were spent actively trying to distract myself from the hollowness I couldn’t seem to shake; This included watching movies nearly every night at the theatre, going out with friends, cleaning and reorganizing my 4 year plan for university, hiking, running, swimming, eating, and most of all: avoiding. But as ever, that perpetual shadow of what I could only call grief– the loss of what I left behind– continued to plague me for more hours than I wish to count. I spent nearly 22 hours a day questioning why this was and came to the conclusion that my sadness was the result of an idle summer– jobless, purposeless, and holding on to a past I hadn’t yet learned to let go of.

On day 79, I went back to school. I had a reason for getting up again. The sudden routine didn’t provide for me the solace I had hoped for right away, but I started getting back on my feet and focusing on life outside of what use to be and who it had been with.

214 days after that cloud of darkness shaped itself above my head, I had successfully worked with my pain instead of against it and from that blossomed a strength I once thought impossible.

48 days after the new year, about 8 months after my return home and my months long depression, I met someone new. Thus followed a good 4 to 5 weeks of first experiences with a new person, a different pair of lips, and another wave of sadness, which came when it all came crumbling down roughly 47 days later. In those weeks, life grew even more hectic. Final exams and papers worth 20% of my grade approached their due dates, work peaked, family crises rose from the ground like weeds in the soil, and my usual 9-5 at school turned into 9-1. The hands of the universe were arranging my life in an intricate pattern of dominoes which fell piece by piece leaving me to catch them all in the tiny expanse of my 2 hands. It was yet another season of learning and growing, and reaping lessons I still haven’t fully grasped.

I don’t want to dwell on such things, however. I am 151 days into 2017 and 2 full weeks of happiness. This has been a year which has proven to be a fruitful experience of soulful expansion and youthful optimism and it’s only just begun. In the grand scheme of things, if I live up to 73, the average lifespan of females in the world, I have a good 19,723 days before I die. This is assuming that I don’t get hit by a bus or contract e-coli before then and that I pass away exactly at 11:13 p.m. on November 23rd 2070. This is also assuming I’m average- which I’m not– thank you very much. I have about 2,818 weeks left to see Coldplay live, visit 10 countries, skydive from 14,000 feet in the air, and reach my goal of having read at least 2,000 books in a single lifetime. I have 53 years left to grow the seeds of my purpose and create a garden that will continue to flourish even after I perish.

I am the summation of 3,747 nights, 3,748 days, 179849 hours, and 7 very important people. I am chasing life with 2 legs and grasping for experience with 10 fingers clasped tight. I am learning. Although I am made up of numbers which simultaneously increase and decrease as I continue to create myself, I am essentially just 1 being ceaselessly racing towards infinity.

(I wrote this on May 31st, 2017. The numbers should reflect that.)
(Also, I’m really bad at math.)