My heart skipped a beat when my eyes laid on you.
My brain screamed at me to run, to shut you out, to not let you through.
But we both know I’ve never stopped standing at the door.

Vague

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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!

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.

Hi.

Hi.

I know I deserve better. I know I have the right to expect more. I know better, now.

I know I have a choice of who to let into my life. I know I have a choice of who I keep close and who I let go. I know I have a choice to stay or to walk away.

I know I have a choice because this is my life. I know because I have come to recognize my future as something only I have the power to write. I know because everything I have gone through has lead me to this point and now I understand.

I know I have come a long way from where I used to stand. I used to be confused. I used to wander around aimlessly trying to fight for something that wasn’t worth my breathe. I used to grasp a hold onto something that wasn’t there. I used to play pretend as if that would solve the world’s problems. But, no, it doesn’t.

This is my life and I have to live it, for me. I am the only one who has to deal with the decisions I make, so they better be good ones. I am the only one who has to live the future I plan out now. I am the only one who can do this, for me.

I know I am better than who I was in my past. I know I am better than the pain that aches in my chest. I know I am worth more than some people give me credit for.

I know I’ve made mistakes in the past. I know I’ve really messed up more than just a couple times. I know I had a lot of growing up to do, and that’s what I ended up doing.

I know I deserve better. I know I have the right to ask for better, and if it cannot be provided than I have the choice to either fight for it or let it go. Sometimes ‘it’ doesn’t deserve a fight though. Sometimes ‘it’ is simply better to let it go. And that’s what I did.

I got tired of waiting around for a knight in shinning armor to come around and safe my ass. I got tired of always wanting someone to tell me everything was going to be okay. So I got up and saved my own ass. I got up and did something with my life so I know it will be okay.

I know better now. I know I can do better. I know I can get better.

I am sorry. But, now, I know. I learned. I made a life for myself. I walked away when you decided to leave, one more time. I’m done.

I am sorry because you never got to say the goodbye you wanted to. I am sorry because I will not give you the comfort of hearing the words ‘good’ and ‘bye’ come from my mouth.

I am sorry. I am done.

Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs

Since day one, I had medical issues. For as long as I can remember, and even before that, I saw a cardiologist who monitored my growth, my capabilities, and my strength compared to a normal growing child. During the past few years, I have been waking up each morning with a small handful of pills and have been struggling with symptoms a lot of people cannot relate to.

This week, I had been told there’s a possibility of fixing one new health issue, regarding my heart, that has become a new problem to add onto my list of growing conditions. At 19, who would’ve guessed this would be my life? It seems like it is. And despite seeing everyone’s relief when hearing there might be a chance of taking care of the issue without another open heart surgery, I refuse to get my hopes up.

Let me explain:
For the past 2 years, my chest pain and the medications I have to take in order to make the pain tolerable have been growing without any kind of resolve. I’ve been to doctor after doctor, have tried medication after medication, and have been told in every which way that I will have to try something else. I have been told countless of times how sorry they are for not being able to help me despite how many attempts they have made. I have been turned away and I have been brushed off. I had began to lose faith in doctors because there wasn’t a solution in sight.

Then, one day, the nerve block injection worked. After nights of waking up to immense pain, tears rolling down my cheeks and my entire body frozen with fear due to how much it hurt, my specialist wanted to try the injection. And it worked. It made the pain tolerable, or as tolerable as it was before it began to flare and wake me up again. That, that day of relief, is when I was hit with the news that the pain I feel every waking day will never go away. It was permanent, and there was nothing they could do but give me medications to make it tolerable.

When my new cardiologist continuously said how I might still need open heart surgery after this procedure I am going to go through, I doubt the new doctor who claims he can fix me with this simple tube. But, I get it, I should be grateful that I do not have to immediately go to open heart surgery; I shouldn’t be freaking out; I should trust my NEW doctors (complete strangers). But I don’t, and I am.

I have woken up nearly screaming from a nightmare in which I am coughing up blood in the ICU after my procedure. I have woken up crying. I have woken up shaking, stone cold with fear. I have woken up several times for the past couple weeks with a broken heart.

I don’t know what to do…

Permanent.

Permanent.

It’s been over a year since I first felt a knife plunge into my chest that first night, or that’s how it felt anyway. I remember jumping onto my bed late at night after a wonderful. I laid on my back and smiled goofily at the ceiling about something. When I turned to grab my phone to reply to a friend, the pain I felt sent me gasping for air. I immediately curled into a ball and clutched at my side, the world around me becoming nothing but darkness and pain. I’ve been through open heart surgery, and yet I have never experienced that much pain before. That night, that moment, is when everything started.

After such an overbearing amount of pain, I continued to experience stabs at my chest through my days. At first, it would happen every couple weeks but, after some time, the pain became a constant reminder that I will never be the same. After no longer than three months, it stopped feeling as if someone would randomly sneak up on me and stab my chest but it started feeling as if someone was standing in front of me holding the knife in my chest twisting it and turning it so the pain never ceased. It was torture.

It’s been over a year since the pain became a constant factor of my everyday life. It came to the point where the symptoms of such pain no longer surprises me. I could say I’m used to it by now, but I know better than to think it is right just because it’s “normal” to me. A kid who gets beaten by his dad every week could look you in the eye and say he’s used to it, but that doesn’t make the pain go away…and it definitely does not make it okay.

For a year my team of specialists worked at finding a source of all this pain I was feeling, still nothing. For a year they ran tests and authorizes x-rays and all types of scans, still nothing. For a year I drank a handful of different medications each day in hopes of making the pain go away, still nothing.

Two weeks ago, I had one of my specialists try a kind of injection that would help my pain. It helped. For once, something helps significantly after my pain had worsen to a degree I could not bare. There was finally a huge amount of hope that my team of specialists could make the pain go away. I finally could look my father in his eyes and tell him everything was going to be alright and mean it because my doctors were going to fix me, again.

Today, I go in to see one of my specialists to get an update and see what I could do next to make the percentage of relief significantly larger and permanent. But, today, I was told my pain is permanent. There’s no way to make it completely vanish; there’s no way to give me permanent relief; there’s no way to get me back to “normal”.

I felt my world blacken into nothing but emptiness and pain once more as I did that first night. I physically felt the hope I had slowly drain out of my system and get replaced with sorrow and despair. I couldn’t believe my ears. Right when there had been such a high chance of me getting a regular life back, it was ripped into shreds right before my eyes.

And, here, I ask this:

What would you do? If you knew the nausea that made you skip meals for two whole days at a time, the dizziness that sent you walking into walls and falling down stairs, the episodes of blacking out that caused you to hit your head and potentially send you into a fatal car accident, the handful of pills you had to take every morning and night, and the everlasting pain in your chest…was permanent.

A Letter I Never Thought I’d Write:

A Letter I Never Thought I’d Write:

I am nineteen years old. I am Asian-American. I am a first generation college student. I am the product of who wonderful immigrants who had fallen in love. I am the daughter of a woman who had to live through the heartache of being separated from her immediate family. I am the daughter of a strong man who had to sacrifice his future of the future of his younger siblings. I am the younger sister to one young woman who you know has done so much in her life. I am the best friend and mentor of a young teenager who is doing her best to endure the harsh winds of life with the resources she has been given, to keep on smiling and keep her head up, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am a close friend of a wonderful young man who has been through thick and thin to get to where he is, to preserve the heart he has, and to survive all the battles he’s been put through. I am a friend to many whom I wish to help by spreading some happiness in their lives and to make their lives a little easier than before.

I am one of the many who has fought through depression, in which I am one of the people who had survived. I am a one of those who has been through one too many surgeries. I am a one of the people who has felt the pain underneath the knife, in more ways then one. I am one of the countless who struggled with accepting their own past, and even their own reflection which they face in the mirror. I am one of the billions of people who have made countless mistakes and have wished to take back every last one in hopes of having a better outcome. I am one of the many strong and brave warriors that walk on this earth who are learning what it means to live.

I am an artist. I am a photographer. I am a writer. I am a passionate soul who wishes to reach all ends of the world with the words and ideas that come through her mind. I am one who carries a big heart, not only because I wish to spread kindness but because I have felt the uttermost pain I do not wish on any other soul. I am one who carries a heavy heart. I am a compassionate warrior who thrives to connect with those she comes in contact with in hopes she will shine a little light into their darkness.

I am a young woman who strives to find her place in this world, because she knows, deep down in her heart, that she belongs. I am a young woman thirsty for love, an emotion and a drive that many witness but few ever understand. I am a young woman fighting her battles day in and day out, never wanting to give up and just settle down for something less than what she deserves. I am a young woman looking for the companion who will be my equal other half.

I am a daughter…just as he is a son.