The Obsession with Perfection

It’s 2010. I’m in high school and there’s a website called “FormSpring”, a place where people can anonymously submit thoughts, questions, or in my case, rude remarks about my physical appearance.

Pig nose. Volcano face. People asking me if I was a boy because I didn’t have much cleavage (and I still don’t!). I don’t consider myself someone who was bullied in high school because I know there are others who have had it worse and but looking back, it’s insane how these comments have stuck with me longer than most of my high school friends.

While the Internet was a damaging place for my self-esteem, it was also a place full of research. So, in high school, I looked up all the ways I could clear up my skin and then spend my $20 monthly allowance on skincare products and makeup so that I wouldn’t be called a pizza face. This was just one of many times where I did something for the sake of other people’s opinions, a habit I have not yet quit. I remember a moment when my cousin and I were looking at ourselves in the mirror, and my cousin told me that pretty girls weren’t smart and that smart girls were ugly. I looked at my reflection and thought, “I must be ugly.”

It was a strange time when former First Lady, Michelle Obama, was called a “gorilla”, even though she’s one of the smartest women out there and incredibly influential. I say strange because I had felt conflicted with myself – thinking absurd thoughts that perhaps I was ugly because I was smart, that I should give up my mind for some physical beauty if a genie ever appeared, and other unrealistic thoughts because I craved for the same attention that my pretty friends got from now-irrelevant high school boys.

Fast forward to now, eight years later, there’s Instagram, Tumblr, and tons of other websites where beautiful women are scattered and always on display – picture perfect with clear skin, amazing bodies, hair done by the gods, and flawless makeup. Both media and society are over saturated with pretty girls everywhere, creating this pressure and standard to be flawless and perfect. But there is something odd about this obsession with perfection. It appears to be never-ending.

The pressure also seems to have layers. “Oh, once I have clear skin, I’ll work on growing out my hair, but at the same time, let me go to the gym and get my body looking like this, and then I’ll get this done and then I’ll do this”—but when does it ever end?! There’s always weight loss commercials, new skincare products, new makeup products, new clothes, new shoes, new teas, new this, new that – advertisements that set the standard of how I should look and that I should buy it as soon as possible. Of course, I’m human, I feel this pressure to be pretty, so I’ve succumbed and have spent many, many paychecks on makeup and clothes, and embarrassingly enough, I even got myself into debt trying to keep up with everything and everyone.

Now, I’m a young adult, but I still struggle with my appearance and some days, I feel more insecure than I was when I was a teenager. But overall, I have more good hair days than bad, and I would say that I am more confident than I was in high school, as I’ve learned quite a bit about makeup from YouTube, but hey, I’m not saying I look like Beyoncé. To be frank, in recent years, the compliments I’ve received about my appearance definitely stroked my ego – an experience I never felt in high school – and I grew accustomed to knowing and feeling that I was less ugly. But, makeup has its limits and I can’t wear it 24/7.

For example, last year, in 2017, when I went into my now former job to pick up my paycheck, I had just gotten out of the gym so picture me sweaty, probably a little stinky, with no ounce of makeup on, and hair tied. So, when my old coworker said, “Whoa, you look so different,” I was taken back.

She wasn’t wrong. But after the recent years of being complimented and called “beautiful”, I wondered if my ego was actually fragile and I wasn’t as strong as I had thought myself to be. Of course, she shouldn’t have said that, but, a year later, I’ve realized that life isn’t a game of fairness and kind words so there will be many, many things people will say and do and the only thing I can control is my reaction. I don’t hate her for what she said, I actually thank her for saying that because it’s catapulted into this thought-provoking post, and as an aspiring writer, anyone who makes me write is someone I appreciate.

And if you’ve gotten this far, thank you! I appreciate each person who reads my content. Truly, I do. As I’ve rambled about my high school insecurities, most of them I’ve managed to “fix” with makeup and skincare, I found myself in a new situation I can’t conceal quite so easily. For most of my adolescent years and in my college years as well, I have always been skinny. Thin with ribs showing. Thighs that never rubbed together. Size 25 in jeans.

But with my lifestyle choices the past two years, I found myself at the heaviest I’ve ever been, with stretchmarks in places I had never seen before, clothes I had for years not fitting, constantly deleting photos because I couldn’t believe what I saw nor did I recognize myself, but perhaps the thing I struggled with the most and continue to struggle with are the unwarranted comments made by anyone and everyone.

I get it. I don’t look the same as before and I’m not bashing anyone, but this whole experience of being called various things from my family, friends, and others was new and is still new for me. So new that I have not managed my emotions well and to be quite honest, I cried in the bathroom of my work place last night. I was overwhelmed thinking of how much I’ve had to take in. All the comments about my weight gain, my body, and whatever else had accumulated and finally came out in the form of tears. I forgot I was human and the façade I had put up by making fun of myself had cracked and so did I. It was inevitable and it was time. I’m not invincible. I let the tears and pain run out and I woke up feeling a little bit tougher and little bit wiser.

I’ve learned an incredible lesson here, one I wouldn’t have learned if my body never changed, and for this wisdom and strength, I thank my body and I vow to be more kind to my body, because I haven’t been lately. Hating myself and hating my body is a dangerous path that leads nowhere good and I want to walk proud of what I have now.

While I begin on this journey for a healthier me, I also want to work on a new obsession. I don’t want to be constantly worrying about how I look that I forget how I act and treat others. Even though I have no control of other people’s opinions about me, I would hope that when others think of me, they disregard my physical appearance and think about how I made them feel and if I was a good friend. And it’s easy to say, “I hope they say good things about me,” but there comes a time when hope and faith doesn’t cut it and actions speak louder than words.

Nothing in life worth having ever comes easy and if I want people to think of me as an honest friend, someone who has a lot of integrity, and a woman of her word, then I have to be truthful, I have to mean what I say and say what I mean, and be there when I promise to be there. Material things such as long hair, cute clothes, and whatever else are superficial and attainable. But good friends can’t be bought and I’ve always said that if I want good friends, I myself must be a good friend. Beauty eventually fades but having heart and integrity will always be in style. And that is a trend I’ll be following forever.

Thank you for reading.

This is a post I wrote and posted in a few hours, which is lighting fast compared to my previous posts that take months to write and proofread, so it’s not as strong and powerful as I’d like it to be, but I wanted to share this personal post on my website because being vulnerable is important.  And if you’d like to cringe at my original post, you can find it here.

Also, today is September 9th, which means it is my friend, Andrew H’s birthday! Thank you for loving me no matter what size I am. You are kinder to me than I am to myself. Happy birthday, Andrew. No matter the distance, I value our friendship and I thank you for being my friend. You deserve the best today and forever.

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Who Are You in The Dark?

Show me the scary parts.

What does it mean to be human? While there are an infinite amount of answers and we could debate for eternity, I have one that will suffice for this post.

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Being human means having a spectrum of thoughts, emotions, and fears. To put it simply, we are complicated. Man, am I cliché and corny. But, regardless of this overstated statement, there is beauty between the twists and bends. As I search for deeper and meaningful friendships, I find myself curious of my friends’ thorns and what made them tough. Nobody is perfect (seriously, someone stop me with these clichés!) and that is what peaks my interest. I enjoy meeting people with a rugged edge and following the stitching of rough patches of their history.

Perhaps, there is a scientific and psychological explanation for this, or perhaps not… But, I tend to be more drawn to those I share some sort of darkness with, as if there’s a magnetic alignment that occurs when they open up and show me their scars. I’ve always instantaneously connected with girls who revealed that they too were sexually abused in their childhood. Though it’s a bond due to a harrowing moment of our history, it’s a bond that can never be denied or doubted.

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There are positives in finding the negatives. Picture this: a vast forest of dead, rotting trees, but the thorns and broken branches have remained sharp, one wrong step and I could bleed. The view of the forest is foggy and the air is frigid. However, I do not desire to be out of the woods so soon. I don’t have a map but I trust where I’m going. To find treasure, there are times where one must endure some trials and tribulations. It takes time, too… Days, weeks, or months to be able to find the core of someone. To bare your soul is to be stripped of your strengths and for all of your sins and scars to be shown. But when we reveal our vices and flaws, we come to find that we are not too different at all, you and I.

In a lighthearted daydream, I may seek to obtain a perfect perception from others, but truly, I do not wish to paint over what had tainted me in the past.

Six or seven years ago, I would have done anything to be able to time travel and reconfigure my history, undoing the actions of he-who-must-not-be-named and redefine my destiny. Now, I thank the universe for what happened to me because I’d rather it be me than my sisters. I cannot bear to think of what would be the answer to, “If not me, then who?” As far as you and I know, time machines don’t exist. So, we have to build the strength to move on and manufacture our own resilience so that we can navigate through life wiser, stronger, and more confidently.

You are never alone in the dark.

Those moments of my past are utterly the darkest I’ve ever lived through but I find that the darker the history –  the brighter the refulgent light shines without resistance and refusal. We all have darkness within us but when we share our darkness with our trusted friends and family, light appears and we find that we aren’t alone in the dark after all. The light that appears after a storm comes along in the form of love, friendship without judgement, and compassion. Individually, humans are strong. But together, the force of friendship is powerful enough that the painful parts of our lives seem to disappear and we move on quicker and better.

None of us can change what has happened to us – we can only control how we react and our own actions. No matter how dark the past was – I hold onto my faith that the future will be iridescent. I look ahead with hope and a touch of happiness, enough to keep me going and move forward without hindrance.

Thank you for reading!

Title and first line of this post are lyrics from Camila Cabello’s song, In The Dark.

Disclaimer: I am not one to romanticize suicide, depression, or mental illness. I do not encourage self-harm in any form. This post is not meant to encourage any dangerous behavior to oneself or to others.

50 Shades of the Good, the Flawed, and The Evil

Take a moment and think about the current state of the world. How does it make you feel? What’s your view of everything going on right now? Regardless of the chaos and cheer, the world will never become what we individually desire it to be, so the task at hand relies on our perspective of it all. Is the world good, bad, just majorly flawed, or pure evil?

In my previous post, I stated that humans are various shades of evil and good.

So I have to ask, what’s your definition of a good person? Is it when the balance of good triumphs the not-so-good characteristics and wrongdoings of an antagonist? But, what makes someone bad but not evil? And… When it comes to pure evil, is it always unforgivable? In the situation of these judgements of others, do we all have a valid and justified pass to make such criticisms? Perhaps so, perhaps not, but we’re all biologically wired to participate in this sense of awareness and perception of our surroundings.

And when it comes to our surroundings, is the grass greener on the other side or where we water it? One of my countless flaws is that I focus and magnify on other people’s flaws so much that it becomes difficult to trust. Another challenge for me is to try to see the good in those who have shown me their not-so-good moments. Of course, it’s as clear as a cloudless day that I’m being hypocritical here because I have numerous flaws but I can’t seem to accept others’ negative characteristics. I’m not looking for perfection, as I’m far from it myself, but I am, however, searching for that balance. The balance of taking in and accepting the mistakes of former friends while I turn in my shameful and unnecessary pride that was a burden and hinderance to forgiving X, Y, and Z.

Giving up on people was a habit of mine these past years. Looking back at my track record, I have a history of simply letting people go, forgetting that we are all humans, because I kept thinking of their flaws, forgoing their great attributes and genuine souls. Judge me for saying this, but… I’m not a fan of second chances. I don’t even believe that I deserve second chances with some people. But, maybe, it’s this belief that I tell myself that I’m not worthy of forgiveness from others that it results in me not being able to forgive others.

In high school, I read somewhere that how you view others is a mirror representation of yourself. Now, there are many people whom I love, adore, respect, admire, and can gush about for hours straight. But, there are a dozen more people whom I can rant about, spew out harsh words, and not make one good remark about them, regardless of our history. And I ask why. Is it the way I’ve unconsciously built myself to be or is it because I haven’t learned to let go of such intensive grudges? The only answer I have right now is… I’m 23. I don’t know it all and I have so much, so much to learn and even more mistakes to make.

Being in my early 20’s, I don’t know every lesson in life to live a peaceful life. If I did, I wouldn’t have broken relationships, lost ties, and painful silences when I’m around X, Y, and Z. A year or two ago, I would have said that I hold onto grudges as if it’s a rare lifetime achievement. But it’s not. It’s draining. Life is better when we all get along and have our spirits dance in a sparkling and harmonious manner. And… when it comes to the judgement of our inner beings and souls, aren’t we all just mixtures of being good, heavily flawed, and a little twisted bit of evil?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As flawed as I am, I wanted to sprinkle some goodness onto this post by wishing Kim a very Happy Birthday. I’m jittery and anxious as I type this out right now, but, you know what? Life stops for no one! And I have no intentions of following negative thoughts this year in 2018 and so forth. If I wanted to be comfortable and stagnant, I would do nothing. I wouldn’t even publish this post. But if I want to be a better me, I will write what I feel and showcase it to the world. Thank you for reading. X – Lynn

Fitting In

One embarrassing struggle of mine is when I try to fit into a pair of jeans that no longer fit me when they were a perfect fit on me a few seasons ago. There’s the physical aspect of me not being able to breathe in the black high-waisted denim and the visual proof that comes in the form of a muffin top. But, in this superficial situation, I can simply remove my pants, put on my sweats, and call it a day. Even at the mall, I can try on a bunch of ill-fitting jeans just so I can deny my weight gain in front of a mirror and a sales associate just to be proven 20 pounds wrong. But, clothes are just clothes and can always be altered to fit, and if you’re not stubborn like me, you can just get the next size up.

But when it comes to emotional situations of feeling like you don’t fit in – that you don’t belong somewhere or anywhere –  what’s the solution to finding that “perfect fit”? Is there a perfect fit for everyone? And if there is, do we all get to be lucky enough to find that space? As social creatures, humans belong with other humans. No matter how independent anyone is, I think that we all need to connect with others in some quantity and form. And as creatures of habit, creating a routine consisting of people and places seems to be the first step of many to finding that “perfect fit”.

In college, I felt that I fit in Southern California because I had a routine. I knew exactly when my classes started and ended, when my exams were coming up, and when I had work. I knew I had people to talk to, friends to hang out with, and definite and concrete plans for the next week and month. But moving back home, it all seems up in the air. At the moment, I’m grasping for some kind of solidification that I have a space in Sacramento. What are the pieces that I can hold onto to feel a sense of security and belonging? Or should I not commit and attach myself to people and places because I know I’m going to leave?

Going back to Southern California brings a spectrum of emotions: excitement, wonder, hope, but also nervousness. I haven’t been in my friends’ lives for so long I question if I even belong in it anymore. Yes, you can call me insecure because I am. Like I said earlier, humans are creatures of habit, and once you leave their life, they will eventually be able to get over it, and close that gap where you once belonged or fill it with someone or something else. Sometimes, I wonder, since I’ve been gone so long that, perhaps, should I stay gone? Maybe I should stay in Sacramento? These thoughts and questions stem from my insecurity. They’re notions I shouldn’t succumb to due to my lack of validity in other people’s lives.

But what I forget is that I shouldn’t live by the worries of my anxiety, but live to step out of my comfort zone, and do what I need to do, no matter how frightening or friendless my journey may be. Now, I’m not saying I have absolutely no friends, I’m stating we must be brave enough to do things alone, even when it is intimidating and the results are unknown and unpredictable.

When it comes to clothes, comfort is key. But when it comes to life, the key is having the courage to do what is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. And so the famous quote by Neale Donald Walsch goes, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Let’s Reflect: 2017

Wow.

That’s all I can say, sarcastically and literally. 2017… was not what I expected it to be. And this shall be a raw post – so no massive editing and no overthinking over many weeks and months on a post. I will post this as is. So expect many grammar AND spelling mistakes and a tangent from my usual choice of “fancy” words, hah. 2017 went by so fast and furious but not in the way I wanted it to be. Setting expectations for myself that I didn’t meet – and being the hardest critic I know – I know that no one was more disappointed in myself than, well, myself.

In the Spring, I was enrolled in community college, but out of anxiety, I dropped the class and fell into a depression. I will be honest, as I should be, as we all should be, I wanted to die. I wanted to not be alive. I wanted to see black. I felt so much darkness and it almost consumed me to death. Moving back home was one of the reasons why I wasn’t as happy as I used to be in Southern California, seeing my stepdad constantly, and not finding a full-time job really hurt my self-esteem and made me question my self-worth. I judged myself in such a harsh manner that I mentally could not handle it. I hated myself. If anyone in 2017 said they hated me, trust me, I hate myself enough for the both of us. Maybe three times more.

I honestly did not want to write a reflection post for 2017. Why? Because I felt – at the time – that I had nothing remarkable to comment on. I still don’t have a full-time job, I’m more insecure than ever with my body and self-esteem, and not meeting the goals I set for myself. But after hearing about a certain YouTuber’s video in the Suicide Forest of Japan, this thought ran across my mind: my little sisters saved me from myself, my depression, and they made me want to live.

Moving back home wasn’t glamorous nor was it the funnest thing that ever occured in my life. I felt like the amount of friends I had diminished and I felt incredibly alone. In SoCal, I wasn’t alone. At least, I didn’t feel alone. In Sacramento, feeling alone was an emotion I feared and hated. Why? because it got to me. Because I believed it. Because i wwasn’t strong enough to power through and keep myself positive. But those times I felt alone – 90% of it was when I was alone in my room, in my bed, before I fell asleep, so it was the devilishly perfect recipe for the loneliness to hit and hurt me.

But what made me not want to be dead was the times my little sisters unconciously made me feel alive. Whenever they cracked a joke, I laughed and felt a spark I hadn’t in a while. When they said something cute or drew me something, I felt… appreciated and noticed. That kept me pushing. I wanted to spoil and thank my little sisters and I couldn’t do that if I committed suicide. My little sisters are my role models. They are smarter than me, taller than me, and have better skin than me, hahaha. And to be their big sister, to have that responsibility, it made me feel like I had a purpose. Before I moved home, my little sisters didn’t really get along with each other and they seemed like strangers. I noticed how everyone had dinner at different times and in different spaces of our house. Now, we all eat dinner together and laugh together. My little sister, Lucy, surprisingly sits in the back of my car with my other two little sisters when we go to Target or get boba.

So. So what if I haven’t landed the full-time job with health benefits and a 401k that I’ve been covetting and chasing ever since I graduated college? So what if I’ve gained 20 unhealthy pounds and feel insecure about my body? So what. SO WHAT. It wouldn’t even matter if i had a full-time job if I was depressed and about to kill myself. I’ve been depressed many times before when I was skinny. So what is this random, unprofessional, not put together post all about? 2017 had a lot of down falls, negativity, and not so fun times that I could dwell on. But that is NOT what this blog, website, track of my written word, whatever this is, is about. This is about GROWTH. This is about looking at the POSITIVES. In 2017, I didn’t give into the darkness. In 2017, my mom and I went to the gym together for the first time ever. In 2017, I made new friends. In 2017, I didn’t dip into my savings account at all. In 2017, I chose to live. And I hope I continue to do so in 2018. and 2019. and so on. Because life is worth living. And I have my little sisters to thank for that and so much more.

So to Lucy, Lily, and Lina – I love you. Happy New Year, everyone!

Are You Comfortable?

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During my first year of college, I disconnected myself from a toxic relationship and to say it was facile and fast would be a lie. I contemplated my decision and often went back and forth – I almost did not go through with my decision – but thankfully, I did. Granted, it was not a graceful gesture nor was I pleasant and polite in the process. But, when is it ever a cozy experience abandoning an area we deem comfortable?

Of course – I must digress – there are specific situations where being comfortable is more than ideal, such as being comfortable with one’s body and looks. I apologize for the tangent, but being comfortable with my physical appearance is an item I still struggle with and often find myself far less than comfortable with how I look. So, in this instance, being comfortable is the goal.

But, when does the state of comfort become a hinderance? In situations where comfort leads to being lethargic, it’s a limitation we might not often notice. Comfort can be damaging and preventing us from achieving more.

I thought about this while driving and even more dangerously, I wrote down the lines while driving. In stagnant and nearing dead end relationships, comfort is like sleeping while being entangled by silk sheets, surrounded by lush softness and satisfaction. But, when we wake up from the hazy dream, we realize there are no silk sheets but rather a snake strangling us in bed. Stiff with no positive movement is how I would describe past friendships I have let go for the betterment of all involved.

As I typed this, I asked myself the question, “Are you comfortable?”

At first, I answered, “Yes.” Then, I changed my mind and said, “No.” I suppose for certain aspects of my life, I am quite comfortable and in other areas, I am not comfortable at all. However, that answer is terribly vague and does no justice for my goal of being vulnerable. Therefore, that answer is unacceptable. To provide a proper answer, I will divulge and divide my thoughts into categories.

❖ Friendships ❖

I am both comfortable and uncomfortable. I would say that I am content with the quality friends I have in my life but I will frankly admit I do miss my old friends and wish they could forgive me. But to accept what is done, I often remind myself that I dug my own grave and now have to tend the flowers at the site of what once was a beautiful friendship. On the other side of the spectrum, making new friends is exciting and scary at the same time. Being vulnerable, having to build trust, sharing laughter and secrets, all these acts slowly build a bond and while it’s been fun, I still have my worries and self-destructive habits to work on. Being vulnerable is uncomfortable but I truly believe that with risk comes reward.

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” – Khalil Gibran

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow T. Wilson

❖ Forgiveness ❖

On the topic of forgiveness, it’s an area I have not found my way around and often wish I had the light my friends have to be able to get through this unknown territory. I remember one night, years ago, I submitted a Reddit post saying that I’ll eventually forgive my stepdad but now, I am not so sure. The concept of forgiving my stepdad seemed plausible when I was over 400 miles away from him, but now that I’m less than 40 feet away from him, the possibility of forgiveness seems impossible. But the concept of forgiveness seems one sided if I wish that my former friends could forgive me but I can’t seem to forgive others. It’s selfish and not what I want to be in this harsh world. Perhaps, I can forgive others in my own manner: slowly, but surely.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain

“Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” – Cherie Carter-Scott

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Katherine Ponder

“A life lived without forgiveness is a life lived in the past.”
— Asa Don Brown

Victory, not victim

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For what felt like most of my life, I blamed myself for being sexually abused. Maybe it was my fault that I didn’t stop him. Maybe it was my outfit that one day. Once, he called me ‘beautiful’, and instantly, I felt the opposite: disgusted and horrible. Because of my stepdad, for most of my high school years, I kept and cut my hair short because I wanted to look less feminine, in hopes that he wouldn’t come near me. Only in college was I able to grow my hair long.

I also blamed myself for my biological father for leaving my mother and I. As a result of these thoughts, in the back of my head, I questioned, “Am I inadequate? What did I do wrong?” As a kid, I would tell people my father passed away, but to be frank, I’ve no idea of his presence or his whereabouts. Of course, as a human, I am curious, but I’m not losing sleep over him or my stepdad, but I lay awake at night thinking about how they’ve made me feel.

The feeling of not ever being good enough – or even just enough – is an enormous insecurity of mine.

I used to ask, “Why?”
Why did my real dad leave me?
Why did my stepdad never leave me alone?
Now, I know why.

Life is a book that writes itself without reasoning, only meaning. There are hard lessons we will learn (even though we wish we could learn the lessons in another manner, in a fashion where no one gets hurt and scarred). But, the lessons aren’t as easy to forget when there’s a scar of it to remind you each day of what had happened in the past. Internal growth sprouts when one accepts the past for what it is instead of formulating a tactic to change it. Today, I know I am enough, in fact, more than enough, for myself. To wish I could be someone else is an insult to who I have built myself to be – a notion that has taken years for me to learn and embrace – but better late than never. Thank you for reading.

Side Post
Someone I follow on Instagram, Vanlizza, she too has her own blog, and wrote a beautiful piece recently. Check out her writing! It always blows me away. I learned from her that October is National Depression Awareness Month. I’d like to take a moment to say that depression takes form in different fashions, sometimes it’s subtle and slow, sometimes it’s painful and pulsing, and we should never be ashamed of how we feel, for depression is something that cannot be controlled and configured. If you or someone you know is going through a tough and dark time, here are some numbers to call. Your life matters.

Depression Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863

Graphics all by yours truly.

We blame society

Yet, we are society.

As an advertising major, I was shocked that in my advertising classes, we seldom talked about how advertising affects the demographic we often ignore: adolescents. Kids these days are growing up with iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices that didn’t exist during my childhood, so it’s a no brainer that children nowadays are exposed to much more advertising than previous generations. There’s ads before YouTube videos, underneath all the free games, and during their favorite TV shows. During my projects, we’d target the most profitable demographic: the millennials or the baby boomers, but we never stop and think about who were unconsciously influenced: the younger generation, Generation Z.

As I returned home, I learned the details of my younger siblings bickering with each other, and I was absolutely livid when I found out one of my younger sisters called my other sister “obese and disgusting” along other vile words. Knowing my mother would never say such words to my sibling, I quickly made the assumption that my sister gained this thought process from the media or society (friends, classmates, etc). My hunch is perhaps 70% true since my sister wouldn’t say anything when I confronted her about her mean words.

But the main focus of this post is not about what one sister said to another, but it’s why she said those remarks, why she thought that way, and how we can change the way she thinks. Another thing to note is that millions of young children and teenagers think this way, too. The perspective that a skinny body is a pretty body, that being pretty is all a girl should be, and looks determine someone’s value can be credited to the media and societal standards. Something I learned in advertising is that the best form of advertising is word of mouth advertising – we all trust our friends more than commercials, right? So, when we hear a friend say something that’s not so positive about body image, it can make us think about our own body and how we perceive it.

Certainly, this post is not a self-love post because I am not the proper teacher for that subject, but we should all focus on how we influence our friends, whether we know it or not and whether we believe it or not that we do influence our friends. What we say about ourselves, others, and objects can negatively or positively change one’s opinion. As the oldest in my family, I recognize the influence I have on my siblings, so because of this, I am cautious of my diction, behavior, and attitude towards life. I’m now a teacher – and we all are – so we must teach, not only ourselves, but the ones around us, to be better.

This post was made in dedication to my younger sister, Lily, who turned 13 in September! Happy birthday, my little artist.

The Game of Fate

Flashback. It was night. A summer night, to be exact. The month and day unknown but the weather was warm as the conversation we held in his aged Nissan. We were driving down the empty 57 freeway, just two exits away from returning to our apartment, a space we shared for two consecutive years. The discussion on the car ride back was about destiny and fate. My former roommate, A, and I were talking and trading ideas of what we thought about life.

Could one’s destiny be altered? Is fate an undefeatable force that can’t be stopped, only felt and experienced? If you were told your fate, would you believe it? Would you change it? 

For as long as I can recall, I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason, what is meant to be, will come, and if something is not fated to connect, then that’s life. The cards we’re dealt can result in a win or no wins, depending on perspective. For example, if we lose touch with someone in our lives, is it always a loss?

If the cards we are given is our destiny, then we can change it by getting new cards, putting some items at stake and taking risks, gambling some hope and faith in exchange for some answered prayers, or perhaps, we can accept the cards we receive because that’s just how the deck was shuffled.

The reason why I see life as this game with unpredictable cards isn’t because I trust the universe to give me what I want all the time but because I welcome disaster and almost anticipate adversities to come my way. However, it’s not as if I yell to the world, agitating it and beckon the spirits to rattle my life, it’s because I know life will remain a nonstop rollercoaster for me. I’m not a negative person but I’m positive that life will have its ups and downs. Not all the best cards can be played at once.

As stated in my karma post, we cannot choose what happens to us. We can only dictate how we react, so we could rejoice or revolt when we get a card we don’t quite appreciate. But isn’t it the bad times that help us appreciate the good times anyway?

C’est la vie.

This is a tangent, but a necessary tangent, so I’d like to wish a happy 23rd birthday to the friend I shared this conversation with: Andrew. We were meant to have that conversation at that moment so that I could curate this post. Also, thank you for your friendship, time, text messages at obscure moments, and for always having me in your thoughts. Today, I have you in my blog, and if that isn’t a sign of affection from me, then, I don’t know what is.

My Personality Type: ENTJ

If you wish to begin a soul-searching journey, start with a personality test. I enjoy taking personality tests because it allows me to dive into my own introspection. In high school, I remember taking this personality test and my result was first ENFJ. I also recall taking the test over and over again as the years strolled along to see if my results ever changed: they didn’t. I was prideful of my personality type due to the fact that only 3% of people in the United States share my personality type, including Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama!

However, recently, truthfully, a few days ago, I took this test again, and I got a different result. I was adamant about being ENFJ because who doesn’t want to be the same as Oprah!? Alas, I am no longer the same personality type as one of my role models. I went from being ENFJ to ENTJ.

“The Teacher” became “The Commander”.

Without extending this post to an excessive length, I’d like to share several points that made me gasp due to the shocking factor of how significantly true it is for me.

  • ENTJs see inefficiency not just as a problem in its own right, but as something that pulls time and energy away from all their future goals, an elaborate sabotage consisting of irrationality and laziness. People with the ENTJ personality type will root out such behavior wherever they go.
  • Ever the high achievers, ENTJ subordinates set out to learn new skills and to seek out new challenges and responsibilities, eager to prove that nothing is impossible with a little hard work. If things get a little slow, ENTJ personalities may slip into periods of absent-mindedness, but when they feel involved in the projects around them, they prove well-organized and well prioritized.
  • As in most aspects of their lives, in friendship, ENTJs seek personal growth and inspiration, and they often have a plan for how to accomplish it. Friendships of circumstance, built on things like shared routines, are not ENTJs’ preferred method – rather, they pursue their friends, seek out individuals who share their passion for deep, meaningful discussions, and who enjoy learning and development as much as they do. It is not always easy to be ENTJs’ friends – they demand a lot from these relationships – but they pay a great deal of attention to their friendships, and it is unlikely that it will ever feel stagnant.
  • Among colleagues, ENTJs are sociable and greatly enjoy sharing ideas and critiques in their frequent brainstorming sessions. Natural leaders that they are, ENTJs tend to assert themselves into positions as representatives and project leads, considering their objectivity and charisma the perfect qualities for these roles. ENTJ personalities enjoy working with equals, but people must demonstrate that they are equals – anyone ENTJs view as being less competent or driven will see only condescension and arrogance.
  • ENTJs are strong-willed, even dominant, and though they enjoy inspiring and tutoring others, the energy they bring to the process can seem overbearing. When these roles are reversed, ENTJs’ mentors should bear in mind that their students are very rational and respect firm confidence – hand-holding, emotional appeals or wavering indecision will likely burn the bridge then and there. In a partnership, what is best is what is most effective, and time wasted sugarcoating reality is just that – time wasted.

I encourage everyone to take this test, if they have not already, and share the results with friends and family, introspection must be spread!