Phone… Laptop… What About You?

Phone… Laptop… What About You?

I wake up in the morning and reach for my phone. I don’t have a visible clock when it’s dark in my room. Sometimes I scroll past the notifications – messages, emails, reminders, etc. – and sometimes I simply groan at how early it is and lie on my back until I fall asleep again.

When I’m getting ready in the morning, my phone is often playing music that keeps me up and going. I easily fall asleep if I stay in bed. I push past the urge to stay in bed and go to wash my face. Face wash. Acne medication. Brush my teeth. Brush my hair (sometimes). Go get changed and get out of the door.

My phone follows me downstairs, to the car, to school, to work, back home, and goes to sleep by my head on my bed each and every night. It’s the one friend that always sticks by me. I reach for it when I’m walking to and from classes. I check instagram as if it’s a newspaper that gets updated every other minute. I check my messages as if I really get any. I check my email and scroll past the spam. I check the time and the reminders that yell at me to get a real meal.

My phone gives me everything I need. I put everything on my calendar. I put all my reminders into that app. I have connections to my family and friends. I have my emails. I have my instagram. What else do I need?

Well…I went to lunch with my boyfriend and his sister (also a close friend of mine) yesterday. I went on and on in the car. I complained about how loud the music was. I stared out the window, amazed at the sunlight growing through the trees that we pasted by.

I set up a instagram for the new member of their family, Rylee the cockcpoo – @rylee_discoveringlife

We started posting pictures. We went in to get seated. And then shortly after I found all three of us on our phones once more. I silently wished for us to put our phones away and actually be present with each other in the short time that we actually get to spend with one another.

Every time I see my boyfriend, I can never get tired of being in his arms. I latch onto him the second we get some time alone, wanting to be closer to him. I always miss him when we can’t see each other. And when we do, I love the conversations. I love the face-to-face time we actually get. I loved walking up behind him as he washed his hands and hugged him from behind. I loved sitting in the car with him, holding his hand, and just enjoying the music and the sunny sky. I loved being present.

And that’s exactly what I’m missing when I rely on my phone too much. I love being able to put it away but I know I always need to stay updated with my sister and my parents, at least. I love being able to just enjoy the moment and not worry about anything else.

My “New Year’s Resolution”:
1. Spend at least 3 days worth of time (72 hours) a week without my phone. I can listen to music but I have to be disconnected.
2. Spend at least 2 days worth of time (48 hours) a week without my laptop. I can listen to music but I have to be disconnected.
3. Practice my cursive – aim to get better at calligraphy (1 hour a week)
4. Draw a piece of work twice a month
5. Take 20 good photos a month

Let’s see if I can keep this going for the rest of the year!

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Life #1. Life #2. Life #3. Life #4.

Life #1. Life #2. Life #3. Life #4.

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within.” – Steven Pressfield

When I got into middle school, I started spending hours at my computer writing. Whether it be short stories, potentially novel length stories, poems, songs, simple paragraphs or letters, I would spend hours typing away. I thought of the blank screen as a place in which I could pour out my heart. Being a kid who hadn’t had many people, if any, that I honestly talked to and trusted fully with my raw self, I resorted to expressing myself in other mediums.

That’s when I started to call myself a writer.

When I got into high school, I fell in love with photography and discovered a burning passion I never knew I had for this art. I always wanted to go shoot. I always wanted to take my camera everywhere I went. I became well known because of my camera and my photos. And all of that slowly shaped my vision of the world. A quote I once heard says, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” I couldn’t agree more. I stand by this quote.

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Freshman year was when I started calling myself a photographer.

Today, I write. Today, I take photos.

But there will always be a part of me that wonders “what if writing or photography was what I devoted all my life and attention towards?”

We all have a similar question. That’s what I believe is to be my “second” and “third” life. The life of a writer. The life of a photographer. Though I hold both passions close to heart and continue to advance in both mediums at my own speed, the flame within tells me that there could be more.

Sometimes I wonder how happy I would be if I spent hours and hours of the days editing photos and going on photoshoots, if photography was my career. I wonder how many people would see my work, how many hearts my work would touch. Sometimes I fantasize about being a writer whose words make a huge impact in the world and motivated people to change their lives and ways of thinking for the better. I wonder what would have happened if I had followed my heart back when.

But then I look at the life around me, and stop. I love the life I have right now. I have another passion I discovered within my first programming class. I have high hopes for the future and this potentially life-changing career. I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me. I have irreplaceable friends who adore me. I have a better life than I had expected.

After all, this is the life I’m living. If I weren’t happy with it, I wouldn’t be living it.

New Year, New Workout

New Year, New Workout

It had been before I was in middle school that I had been begging my mom to let me take martial arts classes. Learning karate looked awesome on TV, why wouldn’t a child want to learn how to fight? I grew up watching Vietnamese/Chinese movies based on martial arts. I loved Jackie Chan (the Rush Hour series? Twin Dragons?); he was the best! What did my parents expect? As a child, I wanted to learn how to be as badass as the characters I watched in the movies.

Unfortunately, the topic always got rejected when I was younger. We didn’t have the means for the cost. And, as a child who always had problems being active, my parents were scared of me getting hurt. Ultimately, the answer was always ‘no’.

In high school, a couple of my friends were black belts in either one or multiple martial arts. I remember learning how to correctly make a fist, so I wouldn’t hurt my thumb. I slowly learned how to punch and keep my wrist straight. Most days, I would stay back for half an hour after school and “spar” with one of my black belt friends (who always just humored me, and watched out for me so I wouldn’t hurt myself on the concrete). It was a lot of fun. Even though it was a merely for laughs, I enjoyed myself. I remember when he accidentally tripped me and I fell so hard straight onto my back, everyone yelled at him (laughing, of course). I remember getting Everlast wraps during my senior year, which simply collected dust in my closet. I remember having a lot of fun.

Now, in my second year of college, my interest in martial arts sticks. I went to my first taekwondo/karate class with my sister and a family friend (you could call her). The family friend is a second degree black belt and knew this dojo very well. We went to our first class for free, to see if we liked the class enough to sign up. The master was very welcoming and very friendly. I was learning how to kick correctly when he came over and put his hand in front of me so I had a target; I kept kicking too low. I eventually kicked his hand, a little too hard, too! He looked over at my family friend and jokingly yelled, “Stacy, you brought dangerous people!” Everyone laughed. Next time we went over kicks, he brought out a mat/shield (I don’t know what they’re called) that would block my kicks and punches so he wouldn’t get hurt. It was such an entertaining as well as demanding class! I was sore for two days afterwards!

Just the other day, I went to my first kickboxing class at ilovekickboxing with my sister and her boyfriend. I was very nervous for my first day on the mat. Not only did I have a tight schedule that day with class and work, and work and kickboxing overlapping a little, but I know I am terribly out of shape. I arrived right on time to the kickboxing class and went in to get paperwork filled out. One of the leaders, who lead warm ups, handed me my gloves and I borrowed some wraps from my sister. The warm up reminded me of PE in middle school, except WORSE! It was just jogging around the mat, but push ups and sit ups and burpees and lunges and squats and planks and “spiderman climbs” and everything else you could think of all mixed together. I had to take so many breaks to drink water or else I probably would have had a completely dry mouth at the end of warm ups. THEN, CAME THE FUN PART. I learned how to punch with my gloves and do roundhouse kicks. I was so excited that I could finally go all out and punch my hardest and kick my hardest without much worry of hurting anyone! I was having so much fun that I wanted to get a punching bag when I got home that night! I barely took into account how much my arms felt like jello. I can’t wait to go back! Good thing I paid for two more classes already.

I know I’ve had my difficulties with being active and “in-shape” but being able to go out there and be active has been a lot of fun. Not only has it been a stress reliever but it makes me feel a lot healthier. I really hope my schedule continues to allow me to do things like this.

If anyone has any workout tips, let me know!

Swim. Don’t Drown.

Swim. Don’t Drown.

“The shark that doesn’t swim drowns.”
“Akula, kotorya Ne plavayet, Ne tonet.”

It’s been four years since I started to get questions about my future career. It’s been four years of pressure to get into a field that has a good payment, and a good reputation. And, honestly, I hadn’t gotten anywhere until a few months ago.

Since the beginning, I felt as if I was always facing a white canvas not knowing what the heck to do about it. I looked out into the world through a broken glass, unsure where to go next that won’t backfire. But, instead in the mist of asking others what they think I would be good at, I had forgotten to ask myself where I want to be in life. And, for that, I stood still for those years.

I didn’t venture out to see what opportunities I could have. With all the questions and the pressures to go into one field versus any of the others, I simply closed up in a shell where all I saw was darkness. I didn’t think I could live up to be what my parents wanted me to be. I didn’t believe I could do anything that would be worth of them bragging about me. Most importantly, I didn’t believe there would be a place for me to stand in the world when I grew up.

I started to lose parts of myself I was always defined by. I began to loose sight of what I had always wanted to do in life: be happy while making a difference. I started believing the words people yelled my way that told me I wasn’t worthy of the traits I held close to heart, or that they weren’t good enough in order to give me a good reputation. All the words, all the comments, all the pressures from everyone around me did the opposite of encouragement.

It wasn’t until I got away from what others had to say. I started going to school more; I ditched the old study room in which I felt trapped and trading it for a clean library desk where I felt impossibly free. I went back to my roots; I started picking up the pieces of myself I knew were worthy despite what anyone else had to say. I began exploring my options and talking to people who didn’t have a biased opinion that pressured me to walk down any certain path. I started swimming.

In my eyes, it wasn’t until then that I truly felt like myself. Before, it was always about reputation; it was always about how others perceived us to be. There was never any room for me to grow on my own because the person I was supposed to grow up to be was already molded and framed in my parents’ mind. I couldn’t learn from my own mistakes, because everything had always been planned out and simply told to me to execute. I wasn’t being me, no, I wasn’t being human; I was simply a robot.

Now, a year since I’ve turned away from being cooped up in a cage and a few months since I uncovered a part of myself I knew was always there, I feel whole. I feel independent; I can take care of myself and I can get through by myself. I feel like I have a chance at everything the world has to offer as long as I go out there and achieve the best I can. I look into the mirror and, though I might not have everything figured out, I can see the girl I was always meant to be.

I’m finally working towards the future, my future. And I couldn’t be more proud.

To the world:
I am a face. I am a person. I am a stranger without a name.
I am one without a backstory. I am one without a history, because no one knows it yet.
I am someone behind a screen. I am one more person to worry about. I am another who needs money to survive.

To the ones who see me:
I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a sister. I have a name.
I am a student. I am still young. I am growing up. I am “old enough”.
I am a girl. I can be a wife. I can be a mother, a mother who has a son.
I am a mystery. I am someone to be intrigued by. I have a story. I have a life.

To my friends:
I am a hard worker. I am dedicated. I am passionate. I am caring.
I am considerate. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am helpful.
I am someone who struggles. I am someone who has problems. I am someone who deals with life.
I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am an engineering major. I am someone dedicated to STEM.
I am still learning. I am still figuring things out. I am still exploring the world that surrounds.

To my parents:
I am a daughter who has been through too much. I am the youngest of two. I am the little princess of the family.
I am closed off. I am distant. I am everything they taught me to be.
I am confusing. I am difficult. I am stubborn like a bull. I am a time bomb waiting to explode.
I am precious. I am delicate. I am not capable of handling my own health.
I am a stranger in both the two houses in which I have lived in.

To me:
I am a warrior. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I am not one to mess with.

Hurt.

Hurt.

The phrase “…emotionally unavailable…” always raises red flags, from those who have learned better. The minute where you feel as if you can never get a hold of the person who means the most to you is the minute you question whether they are as devoted to you as you are in them. The second you realize you are feeling as if you are grasping your hands at something that’s not there is the second you recognize that the pain you feel burying deep into your chest is a pain you are in control of.

A lot of us know this feeling, this situation where we are hopelessly trying to hold onto something that’s not there. But not many of us know what it is to be on the other side of this ‘red flag’ a lot of us continuously walk away from. I mean, it’s not as openly discussed as being the one who can’t get into someone’s heart.

We’ve been taught from either friends or family to walk away from someone who doesn’t seem to give you enough or isn’t willing to be as vulnerably emotionally as we deem necessary for a relationship. We’ve been constantly told to walk away from the person who is in such pain that they have closed themselves off from their surroundings in attempt to keep their heart safe from the pain multiplying once again. We’ve been…possibly, taught wrong.

Everyone has felt pain. Everyone has pushed someone away because of that pain. Everyone has walked away from something that created pain for them.

Everyone has wanted someone to break down the walls they’ve built around themselves in attempt the shield their hearts from the cold wind. Everyone has broken down in someone else’s arms and feeling a kind of relief as the other person held them. Everyone has isolated themselves to wait and see who cares enough to come after them and be with them.

But when it comes to seeing someone else in that light, we have been taught to walk away because “they couldn’t possibly be everything we need and want them to be” or some bullshit like that. But guess what? We’re all going to be in that stage in life at least once in our lifetime, whether it be short or long, whether we have been there already or not. We will be, once again, the person in pain who never wants to feel broken again. We will be, for some time, the person who is simply seeking another who will care enough to break down the walls and come hold us, telling us everything will be alright because we have them by our side.

We will be THAT person. So why are we being taught to walk away from THAT person if THAT person will be us, one day or another? We’re being taught to walk away from ourselves. We’re being taught to ignore our own pain. We’re being taught that trying to protect ourselves is wrong. We’re being taught that trying to be a little selfish is wrong.

You know what’s “wrong”? Hurting someone so much that they feel like they have to lock their heart in a cage. Overlooking someone’s pain so much that they think their emotions don’t matter. Walking away from someone so often that they believe they will never be worth someone else’s time. Not giving someone a chance just because they’re in pain.

So “…emotionally unavailable…” should be “…in so much freaking pain…”