My Playlist of Memories

My Playlist of Memories

We all have that set of songs that send us back to memory lane. There are the songs that we shared with a significant other. There are the songs that got us through the tough times. There are the songs that we used to listen on blast, the ones we used to replay until we got sick of the same old lyrics. There are the songs that bring us back to the most blissful moments. There are the songs that bring us tears from the pain we sometimes don’t realize we’re still holding onto. There are the songs who have become a part of who we are.

That’s what I listened to the other day.

Just A Dream by Nelly was a song I first heard through Christina Grimmie’s and Sam Tsui’s cover on youtube before Cristina went big on The Voice. There’s a certain beat to the song that brings me a kind of joy that coexists with strength. So I travel back down that road. Will she come back? No one knows. I realize, it was only just a dream. If you ever love somebody put your hands up. If you ever love somebody put your hands. And now they’re gone and you wishin you could give them everything.

Angel with a Shotgun by The Cab was a song I liked for a while. I really started loving this song when it turned out my ex-something also loved Nightcore’s version of this song. It became our song. It became something that reminded me of him. One time when we were lying in bed he played the song and, in that moment, I truly felt at home. Even though we had a terrible falling out, this song still reminds me of my first love. They say before you start a war you better know what you’re fighting for. Well baby, you are all that I adore. If love is what you need, a soldier I will be. I’m an angel with a shotgun, fighting til’ the wars won. I don’t care if heaven won’t take me back. I’ll throw away my faith, babe, just to keep you safe.

Let Her Go by Passenger is also an all-time favorite that will always touch my heart. Everyone goes through life not truly knowing what to do. We go through trails of guess and ‘hope it’s right’ as if we’re still middle school kids taking a test on material we clearly didn’t pay attention to, let along study for. So I understand the circumstance of not knowing. But when I listen to this song and it speaks so much about regret and not being more appreciative of what we have in front of us, I can’t help but wonder how many of my past relationship I regret to have lost – or if they even regret to have let me go. There’s a part of me that will always be fond of the old memories and wonder ‘what if it worked out’ or ‘what if I go back’. Only miss the sun when it starts to snow. Only know you love her when you let her go. Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low. Only hate the road when you’re missing home. Only know you love her when you let her go. And you let her go.

Battle Scars by Paradise Fears is a song that I will probably replay over and over as one of my top favorite song until the end of time. I discovered Paradise Fears in high school when the scars on my body really made me insanely insecure and even self-sabotaging. Even though my ex-something at the time constantly reminded me that I can be loved despite all my body’s been through and despite what anyone else says, I found myself playing this song a lot whenever I hit a low point; I found myself gaining a lot of strength from these lyrics. You’ve had enough, but just don’t give up. Stick to your guns, you are worth fighting for. You know we’ve all got battle scars. Keep marching on.

Crash Test Dummy (Broken) by Reed Deming speaks the words a lot of our hearts wonder. We have gotten so used to seeing ourselves mess up and fail that sometimes we forget all the times we were strong and shined. We see all the broken parts, sometimes thinking they’re the worst parts of ourselves, and forget how beautiful and strong we still are. After all, we are truly our worst enemy. I am…insanely…guilty of this and I know it to be true. I will beat myself up over mistakes I made that ended up hurting me more than anyone. I will chew out my own ear (if even possible) about how I am not living up to my parents’ expectations for me. I will cry myself to sleep after telling myself that I am not worth fighting for. And then wonder if anyone will love me and fight myself for me. What if I’m troubled? What if I’m flawed? And what if they all just think I’m a fraud? And what if I’m left without a choice? And what if I like girls? What if boys? And what if I listen to all that they say? They promised forever and then walk away.

I’ll be honest, a lot of the songs that have stuck with me through the past few years are the songs that managed to silence my own demons. They’re the songs that can get me to forget everything running through my mind like a tornado. They’re the songs that help me escape from even my own head and go to a place where the storm has calmed. They’re the songs that have gotten me to where I am today. These songs are who I am.

More songs from my playlist:
Sanctuary by Paradise Fears
Mended by Matthew West
Safe in My Hands by Eli Lieb
Make You Stay by The Girl and The Dreamcatcher
Roses by Shawn Mendes
Written in the Scars by The Script
This Is For You by David Dunn
Shelter (Acoustic) by Nick Howard
Sincerely Me by Artist Vs Poet

If you have the time, give some of these songs a listen and let me know what you think in the comments below. Let me know if they end up touching your heart like they did mine.
Let me know if you want more song recommendations (:

Bits of each song mentioned have been attached to each paragraph above (in italics) respectively

 Song

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Weak Spot

Weak Spot

We all have that particular love whose flame will never burn out. People say it’s your ‘first love’; others say it’s the love that changed you the most. I say, it’s every love that forced you to grow.

Don’t get me wrong, loving them and being in love with them are two different things. Loving them and wanting to be with them are not always correlated. This rings true when I look back and realize how many people I still love.

Khang – We had the most unhealthy relationship I’ve ever experienced, in friendship or in relationship. But, in some twisted way, I had believed we would still make it through. Looking back, I can still say there’s a fire in me that burns for you. I hope you have the best life you deserve. I hope you find true happiness without your demons following in your head. I hope you find forgiveness in your heart and learn to love yourself; you deserve at least that much.

D.J.M. – We were stuck in a fairytale-like honeymoon whose end was inevitable. Somewhere, deep inside, we both knew we were not meant to be but I had wanted to fight for us because it’s in my nature…I fight for what I love. And, in doing so, I hurt us both more than either of us deserved. Being with you shined light on a part of me I hadn’t known was still there. You showed me I am capable of being forgiven and loved once more. Thank you. I hope you find that good Christian good who will be there with you until the end of time.

To both of you, whether it had been under or over a year since I’ve seen you, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for you. It scares the hell out of me, but I know it’s okay.

You see, these particular loves changed me. I learned things about myself I probably wouldn’t have learned elsewhere in such a manner. I got shown things I thought I wouldn’t have seen. I went into each of these relationships a little different and came out of each one of them as someone different.

Whether it had been that I learned that I was truly not alone, living a life I only thought I was going through, or that I learned I was capable of forgiving myself for things I thought I’d never let go, I changed. Now, looking back, I wonder if I had changed them somehow. But, more importantly, I wonder if they’re in a better place in their lives by now.

For those who still hate their ex to the bone, I can’t understand what you go through. I couldn’t imagine looking back at those who hurt me so and have that blackhole of pain still inside me. I have been hurt and my heart has been broken, but I look back and see the young men I had fallen in love with. These of the people we once loved for a reason, the people we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with at a certain point, the people we would do almost anything to spend one more day with to see them laugh and be happy. These are the people who made us feel irreplaceable, the people who gave us strength to face the world when we were down on our knees, the people who loved us to the moon and back. When I remember all the unforgettable memories we had created together, I realize that I wouldn’t regret or take back that love for anything in the world because, in that moment in my life, they meant the world to me and they still are a treasure I hold close to heart.

They are…those loves whose fire will burn for eternity.

Particular

Wake up. Realize There’s More.

Wake up. Realize There’s More.

I’m sick and tired of being played. I’m sick and tired of being tortured, manipulated, used. I’m sick and tired of trying to make something meaningful, and getting bullshit in return.

To the young females and males out there, who know what it’s like and who are trying their uttermost best to change something about the worlds around them for the better:

I salute you. It doesn’t seem it matters how many times our hearts get torn out of our chests and beaten with wood. It doesn’t seem to make a difference how many strangers walk into our lives and turn it upside down. And it doesn’t matter how the world around us tells us to give up, because we all know, deep down in our hearts, that we will never stop fighting for good. Whether that battle be within ourselves, between our minds and hearts, or between those who we are supposed to be standing beside, we will not stop fighting.

But I’m getting tired. I have to admit, I’m getting sick and tired of all the hurt and the pain that comes from hoping for too much too soon and having too much faith in what’s not there.

When I see that there is potential somewhere, sometimes I jump at the opportunity to turn it into something meaningful right off the bat. When I see there is light in someone’s heart, that spark in someone’s eyes, I pray for them to be able to keep that for the rest of eternity. When I feel something, when there’s a moment in life where I wish I could replay it over and over again, I know there is still something surrounding all of us that is more than the everyday worries we all have running through our minds. There’s something more than what jobs we have, how successful we are money wise, or what kinds of opportunities for fame we missed; the friendships we have, the relationships we love, the human connections we live for…that is more than anything and everything that exists in both mind and body.

But…why do we, as a society, raise up the importance of “connections” in the business world and letter grades on courses about knowledge rather than human connections with one another as human beings and all those lovely moments we all wish to relive once again.

On the top of my head I can name a few:

  • The first time he called me ‘baby’ when I was riding in the front seat of his car.
  • The first time I won an art competition with a photograph that completely represented who I was.
  • The times he held my hand as we walked down the street talking and laughing about anything and everything that came to mind.
  • The times he said ‘forever and a day’ because it was a cute catch phrase he had way back when.
  • The times I’d find myself laughing so hard that my stomach hurt and all my friends were laughing just as loud around me.
  • The times my parents and siblings could finally cook a meal together without someone trying to eat another’s ear off.
  • The last time my mom told me she was proud of me, despite my having to ask her first.
  • The last time I simply sat with a friend and told them a bit of who I am and what I’m made of.
  • The last time I felt as if I was home when I was in someone else’s arms.
  • The last time I felt safe just with the presence of someone else I truly trusted.

Those are the moments, those are the things, those are the feelings we should be holding onto…not the trophies we won, not the certificates that just became pieces of paper, not that million dollar toilet painted yellow, not the labels we, as a society, give each other as ‘titles’ of our accomplishments as if the title means more than the knowledge itself.

I’m sick and tired of people laughing at, or joking around about, or teasing someone over how ‘sensitive’ they are to their relationships with those around them. I’m sick and tired of people making relationships sound like “decorations for Christmas” or “a center piece for the table”. It’s not the accessories that we don’t always need…it’s the structure of everything that is our lives and everything that should really mean a damn to you.

Play Me. Play You.

Play Me. Play You.

We’ve all played that game.

It’s where you pretend to not be attracted to a person, who is doing the same exact thing to you. It’s where you laugh casually but wish for them to notice how beautiful your smile is or how your eyes shine when you’re happy. It’s where you do the little things to get their attention and then brush it off as if you don’t really care. It’s where the nonchalant gestures are suddenly more forced and more characterized as acting.

It’s where you continue on with the flirting until one of you finally gets the courage to kiss the other, and you feel the sparks fly. It’s where you finally feel safer being yourself in their arms because there is no other place you would rather be. It’s when everyone knows you are in mutual ‘like’ because you stare at each other with googly eyes. It’s when you can’t get enough of their time, their smile, their laugh, their voice. It’s when life feels like a fairytale and the butterflies constantly flutter in your heart.

It’s when you listen to those love songs and believe every single one of them perfectly pictures your movie life with them. It’s when you open yours eyes each morning with a smile on your face because of a ‘good morning’ text you saw that day. It’s when you can’t even go to sleep knowing you get to spend some more time with them the very next day. It’s when you laugh to yourself when you replay your fairytale-like memories in your head as you walk to your car at night. It’s when you can’t help but turn up the radio and scream the lyrics to that cheesy love song you used to hate.

Please, you can’t deny that we’ve all played that game.

Everything That Has Become My Life

Everything That Has Become My Life

A paper I wrote a couple years ago about my freshman year in high school reads:

The room was crowded, the people noisy and the environment slightly intimidating. There were people sitting in the chairs, at the desks, on top of the tables and even outside the door due to the lack of personal space. You looked around and almost everyone you saw had a bright smile on their face, or that spark of hope in their eyes. It was a new year, and we’ve all heard so much about this class. A place where you could do your own thing, create, and put together something was a place I wanted to be. I’ll never forget the first time I shyly asked to take out a camera. My teacher greeted me with a warm, supportive and loving smile, as he made sure I knew how to take care of the equipment and use it properly.

“I think you’ll do well with this camera, here.” He handed me a Nikon D50, holding the lens, reflecting the sunlight into my eyes, in one hand and the body in the other. “You press this button here, the settings for manual and everything is here…do you get it?”
“I know, thank you.” I said as I began on my way.

Although he hadn’t given me advice or taught me anything I didn’t already know, his encouragement was enough to push me down my path of photography. After that I spent countless numbers of days outside the classroom just wondering the campus, trying out new techniques and angles along with lighting and settings. After that I soon became one of the major photographers the team had. Throughout my time with them, on the team, my teacher’s constant support and encouragement never died down or ceased to help.

Because of this, I was invited to be apart of the editor’s page in the back of the yearbook where all of the highest contributors got their photo printed along with an original quote. The photo shoot was going to be taken professionally by PSS Imaging. I was going to be the only freshman, and only newcomers presented in the back. It was a real honor to me to be apart of the experience.

When I got to the studio, the senior portraits were hanging beautifully on the walls; the smiles bright and the eyes glittering with excitement. I wondered what it would be like to have graduated and go through everything that comes with the process. The idea of getting there was a rush of hope for the future.
While I looked through the files and past yearbooks the company had contributed in, our team walked into the dressing room one by one. A young lady came out to get us and guided us through the different doors. Everyone was very jumpy, talking about what poses they were planning on doing, or what quote they had sent in to be published. Everyone was smiling and happy. Everyone was looking forward to the experience. Everyone, but me.

I was rather nervous. I would never choose to be in front of the camera rather than be behind it. I would have always been the photographer, not the model. I would have never thought I’d know what to do in such a situation.

But when I got in there, everything happened very quickly. The movements seemed very naturally. The lighting was a bit harsh, reflecting on the white surface surrounding me on the ground below and the wall behind. The rest of the room was internally dark, mysteriously holding vague shapes of other objects I could not make out.

Later when I left, the experience was very appreciated. I was with my friends. We made a very memorable last memory together as the year ended. The page turned out perfectly when the book got published, a few weeks late. The photos were beautifully selected, the quotes incredibly original, the designs stunningly simple yet elegant.

When I look back to this class, I realize my life changed, and my path began starting at this point. When I took my first step down the path, I knew I wasn’t going to change courses. Without my experience there I would not had fallen for the art of photography, I would not had found such a loud voice without saying anything, and I would not had found a passion I always yearned for without traveling that far.

“There’s an event this week, do you need to check out a camera?” My teacher would always ask me this, knowing I would never turn down an opportunity to take pictures.

I went to many events I would have never been to if not for the purpose of being behind the lens. I got to meet so many friends, and make countless numbers of memories as time went by. My experience there was something I’ll never forget.
“This is a very great photo of her. It’s one of the very, very rare pictures you’ll see. She’s always on the other side of the lens.” He teased, eyes glittering with joy, as my friends came across a photo of me in the published yearbook we had all helped put together.

To this day, I still hold photography has a huge portion of my life, as well as who I am. I tend to look at the world as if I am constantly holding a camera to my eye. I tend to look for opportunities for a different angle, lighting, camera setting, or just place in general. As I got more into photography, I noticed myself getting more and more creative as well as open and bold. It’s a huge part of me, what I do.

When photography came into my life, I would always be doing something. Time has gone by a lot and I’m still doing things. I take photos for my school’s programs, I’m in classes, I’m historian, I’m putting together photo shoots with my friends, and so forth. I go through my photos, being able to see a storyline of my own life through the lens I once looked through. There was a period where I had a monochrome phase, or a close-ups phase. These ‘phases’ I went through told a lot about what I was going through at that time. Sometimes it was that I was facing something hard to handle and got depressed, or I was feeling girly and focused on flowers. Most of the time, I wouldn’t go far from home. There would be photos of things around the neighborhood, like flowers and the empty street, or the sunset or sunrise. There were even times that I stayed inside. I would find objects around the house and have a photo shoot with that, practicing backlighting, fill lighting and diffusion lighting. I would play with the settings on my camera, the Photoshop on my computer, or the tripod stand my dad hides secretly in his closet.

I know when you ask someone about me, you’d hear that I have really long hair, and the normal stuff like being ‘nice’, ‘a great friend’ or ‘smart’, or you would hear that I’m really into photography. People know me for having my camera around, doing events, and my photos. I love it. It’s my life, and I never would have guessed it would start from that one simple classroom.

In that classroom, I learned a lot about teamwork, cooperation and timing as well as friendships, guidance and leadership. Working on a project with dozens of dozens of other students was never the easiest task for a lot of us. Especially when you don’t ever see half the people you work with, it becomes extremely important to make sure you get your part done because someone else might be relying on that one portion. I know my peers always thought it was all fun and games working on the yearbook and getting to say you helped put it together. There were always those people who look down on us who work day and night to simply get together one outline of one page. But in reality, you learn a lot in that class. You learn a lot about the other people you work with, about responsibilities and work effort. You learn a lot of things that other classes can’t teach you, because it’s not something that’s taught but has be to be experienced and dealt with.

I’ve taken a lot away from my experience personally. I walked away proudly to have been apart of the team, and the family. And even though I’m not with my old friends or my “co-workers”, I will always have the memories and lessons learned. My life changed, and can never be rewound back.

A Timeline of All Sorts

A Timeline of All Sorts

Here I am, sitting in my father’s black robe in front of my two monitors, struggling with the emotions I refuse to bottle up [like I have for almost the past 2 decades], in pain because my new pain medicine seems to be hurting me more than helping. I always say, if someone wants to get to know me the best route to take is through my writing. It’s where I’ve learned to open myself and express myself.

If you want to get to know me, read this:

I’m a college student finishing her first year at community college, somewhere her family never wanted her to be. It was always a top UC that they expected me to end up. If you asked, why? Here’s the answer: I wasn’t good enough. I hadn’t been prepared to be at a university.

Here’s a brief timeline of my life that brought me to where I am today:

It was bashed in my head at a very, very young age that I couldn’t show my true emotions, that I needed to constantly where a mask, that it was a requirement to be who my parents wanted me to be in order to receive affection of any kind. Before I got into kindergarten or the first grade, I perfected the persona of a daughter my parents wanted to have.

By second grade, I had no friends but I knew what fake friends were. I knew how it felt to be bullied and laughed at. I also learned that I couldn’t talk to my parents about anything.

Going into middle school, I moved houses and therefore moved schools for the third time. Unlike my sister, I jumped at the chance to leave the school I was at. I thought I was saved, because everyone who bullied me wouldn’t be in my life anymore. I finally was getting away from that pain.

The same summer that we moved houses, I went through my second open heart surgery. I survived off of pain medications for about a month after being in the ICU. I soon learned what it felt like to have people treat you with caution, sometimes making it feel like your limitations were disabilities. I hated that feeling, and I came to hate it more when it continued even after I healed and got the ‘OK’ from my doctors. I despised that feeling.

In seventh grade, I realized that the teasing would not end, the laughing at would not stop…basically, the bullying had followed me to a new school [to a certain extent]. I learned where I could hide during the breaks you were supposed to go and “hang out with friends”.

In eighth grade, I got a glimpse of what a true friend could be. His name was Carlos. He made it seem like I could actually talk to him because he actually cared about me. But that diminished after I made one wrong move of developing feelings for the boy.

Going into high school, I was lost once again. Everyone had their groups and everyone had their friends. I went back to hiding in the journalism room whenever I could. I hated wandering the campus like a lost duck after I learned the friends I thought I had from middle school were simply using me to their own advantage. The journalism room became where I met one of my favorite teachers of all time. We called him Mr. Hill. It was only after his encouragement that I found my passion for photography, that I came out of my shell. I got more involved with school. I went to events, I ventured the campus with a purpose instead of like a lost puppy, and I developed some confidence in myself.

Too bad that was also the year I got involved with some of the wrong people. Though I had my interest in photography at the time, I still wanted a group of friends I belonged in. I had people I talked to here and there but no one who I knew would have my back. The vulnerability of this mindset encouraged me to basically take up the first group that offered acceptance. And it was from there that I learned what true betrayal and abandonment felt like.

I quickly learned what depression was and how it felt to cut. I knew depression wasn’t a new feeling to me, but I finally learned was it was called and how to describe what I was experiencing. My parents and sister were very scared for me. News quickly spread and I was the disappointment and the embarrassment of the family. I was taken to a lot of places to “cure my depression” just like some people try to “cure homosexuality”. This angered me because no one listened to me yet everyone seemed to have an answer.

I was soon transferred to a new high school, one my sister had just graduated from, one that my old elementary school “friends” were. Great. I started over again with hatred in my heart and anger flooding through my body. I was a lost duck once again. That’s when I met Peter. He took me under his wing and made the effort to be my friend.

Fast forward, Peter is my best friend and I have a little group I seem to fit in with. But I also had one of my old elementary friends hating my guts. To her, I got along with her boyfriend at the time way too well. (Her boyfriend was also one of Peter’s closest friends). I thought I was doing her a favor to try to get along with her friends. I thought wrong. She hated me.

And from then one out, through the rest of sophomore year to my senior year, countless of problems came up in my group of friends that finally stopped changing junior year.

Ahh, yes, junior year. This is when my mother decided her temple was more important than her family. This is when I stopped praying. This is when I shut out my portion of my life because it was just too painful for me to even think I was anything like my mother. The constant arguments (aka screaming matches) between my mother and father broke my heart. I won’t even go into details.

Fast forward, I’m graduating high school the same year my sister graduates from UC Irvine. All the attention goes to her. She’s the one who accomplished so so so much by graduating. She had honors. She had tassels. She had awards. She was graduating a year before she was supposed to, making her two years younger than the rest of her class. And in all of that excitement, I seemed to have been forgotten.

As much as I wanted to keep my friends close, I became more and more excited to finally go to school closer to home. Santiago Canyon College. The drive would be 20 minutes (with traffic) versus the 1 hour and 15 minutes (with moderate traffic) I dealt with everyday going to high school. My first weeks went by very slowly and very chaotically. The transition from high school to college wasn’t as hard as they said but it definitely wasn’t a breeze either. Most of the semester went by without a single friend at my side. The friends I once had in high school slowly drifted off with little to no attempts to mending the gap. I tried and tried to keep this family of friends a part of my life, but failed one by one.

Jump to my second semester of college, I developed a group of friends in my chemistry sequence that is slowly blending into my math sequence as well. I know they have my back. I know I have friends in that group. But through everything I have been through with “friends”, I still have a hard time letting my guard down and trusting any one fully. But as I am struggling with something new in life, I am learning who are my true friends and who are simply “friends”. I am also getting reminded of what I pushed away my junior year in high school. I had started to miss what I used to have, but the reflection of my mother I see in that belief scare me away from accepting it back into my life.

Today, as I am writing this post, I am still struggling to accept that portion of me back into my life. But I am also realizing that, slowly, what I once pushed away and denied myself had already begun to seep back into my heart, into my life.

Maybe this post wasn’t brief. Maybe it wasn’t very detailed. But that kind of sums up who I am and where I am with my life.

Mistake (n.)

Mistake (n.)

I used to love you with all my heart. I used to love you to a point where it was too much for my own good. I used to put you over everything else. And that was my mistake.

Mistake (n.) – an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong

I remember pushing things aside to make room for you in my day just so I could possibly, just maybe, make your day a little better. I remember taking on your duties and offering to help a lot more than I normally would just so I could lighten your load. I remember lying about my own circumstances and situations in order to brush off my own problems and issues just so you didn’t have to worry about more. I remember going crazy worrying for you, about you. I remember doing so much for you. I remember overthinking many nights and problems because of you. I remember doing things I wouldn’t have done if not for you. I remember pushing myself, my own limits, for your sake. And that was my mistake.

I pretended to be okay and pushed myself to go through the day even with everything I had been dealing with, mentally and physically, in hopes that it would make it easier for you to focus on your work and your day. I pretended that I could do it all in hopes that I could take the weight off your shoulders. I pretended to be fine with some things in hopes that it would make you happy. And that was my mistake.

I asked for you to be there when I needed you. I asked for you to help me through my pains. I asked for you to listen and support me when I needed it. I asked for you to give me your time and heart…because that was what I thought you would want to give me. After all, you had said you loved me most. And that was my mistake.

I loved you too much. I gave you too much.

I still love you, but not as much. I would still give you my time and attention, but I wouldn’t prioritize you too the top as much. I would still be willing to help, but not as much. I would still want to be there for you, but not as much. I would still give, but not as much. I wouldn’t want to lose myself again and, instead of looking for me, look towards you. That was my mistake.

Things have changed since the last time we spoke. I won’t make that mistake again, with you or anyone else. Not again.

Mistake