Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Living for that Moment

My hair was somewhat tousled, and I had to make sure my jeans and shirt were a perfect fit. I put on some perfume which I knew would evaporate as soon as I stepped into the club. I waited outside for my friends, and once I met up with them, we talked about how wasted we were going to be before the night ended.

We drank a couple of shots before going in. Liquid courage. And also because the alcohol that was sold in the club was too expensive.

After having our ID's checked, we walk through the double doors to a dark, somewhat lit room throbbing with loud, ear-pounding music, and cramped with people jumping to the beat of the music. The room was very warm, and within minutes I felt a bead of sweat trace itself down down my neck. I smirk at the crowd, knowing that in a moment the many-headed creature will swallow me in and transform me into just another one of its heads bopping in unison to one song.

Sometimes the ability to dance comes naturally to me. Most of the time it doesn't. In those moments, I stand in the middle of the dance floor with a drink in my hand, while being pushed around by people I've never met. I will hesitantly mimic the tapping of my foot of the group standing beside me. Or the stiff swaying of the captivating dancer on stage. Sometimes (when I'm completely wasted), I let go and dance like a wild person, eyes closed, and me imagining that I'm in an empty room, all except for me and the beat.
And then there is a magical moment, when, exhausted and drunk, I look up and stare at the ceiling and feel that all is right with my life. It has nothing to do with thinking, it's just a feeling that I feel in my heart. And this feeling rises and mingles like smoke with the people and music through the unplanned, wild dance that the entire crowd was in.
And I remember wishing that the moment could last forever, and I could feel like the entire world will stand still for this one perfect moment. Except that in reality, the next morning will always come, and always, always I will have to part ways with these strangers who made me feel like my life was perfect for a moment.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Sometime a few weeks ago, I woke up and realized that I couldn't recognize who I was.
It was just how I looked in the mirror. Something had shifted internally. I then flipped over in my notebook to entries written a few months ago, and it was as if my attitude towards the world, how I formed relationships or processed emotions -- it was as if I was a completely different person. It seems like I'm only now realizing how large that change was.

I guess it all started when I resolved to start saying yes to doing new things and to start making memories even though they might be out of my comfort zone. I started saying yes to going to new places and reconnected with old friends that I hadn't talked to in years. I said yes to a few blind dates that my friends set me up on, and even though nothing really came out of them in a romantic sense, these experiences helped me realize something within myself -- I was reminded that I could give value to a relationship and that I shouldn't compromise my happiness just because I didn't want to be alone. I started going out regularly with friends, and that sometimes doing crazy things is necessary for me to "get out there" and truly have fun. And then I started working, and people who I never would have met at school or otherwise in life have become some of the best people I've met in my life so far.

There are also things that I did out on my own. I started going to the gym again. I talked to people in the weight area (it was extremely intimidating at first, but much to my surprise, everybody was nice). I began writing again.

And slowly I realized that the judgmental, introverted person that I was started to become more outgoing and open with people. I would never have thought that was possible. Sometimes, it still feels strange and frightening, but no longer in a bad way.

So I guess the moral of the story is to keep doing what has worked so far -- to keep pushing myself and surround myself with people who support and accept me (despite my flaws), to start trusting more, and find out who I can be if I never give up. For the first time in a while, I'm excited to see what the future holds.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The New Year

2018: Hard to believe that yet another twelve months and 365 days have gone by. It feels like time has passed slowly, or in a blink of an eye. This may sound cliche, but most of the time it feels like time is flying by. And with yet another year behind us, another Jan. 1st always seems to be the "day" in which our excitement about starting anew is the highest. Although I don't consider myself to be someone who gets overexcited easily, I am extremely glad to have the opportunity to start with a clean slate for the new year.

I'll be honest, 2018 was a pretty awful year for me personally. It may seem weird for me to say because, if you look at it from an objective point of view, it seems to be the polar opposite of "miserable". I have had one of the most rewarding years ever, with getting my first official job (even though it doesn't pay too much), submitted my medical school applications (still unsure of how that might turn out), and getting back to writing and have become one of the leaders in fandom fiction. All in all, not a bad year.

But now that the year is coming to a close, I feel extremely tired, like I haven't slept well or had a good rest in a really long time. I've felt like this since the beginning of the year, and it wasn't until last week that I finally figured out why I might be feeling this way.

I don't know what exactly changed, but I have been receiving a lot of more "personal" questions on Tumblr in recent weeks. I know that most people would be pretty uncomfortable with answering such questions from strangers, but for me personally, it's more interesting than the generic "can you write a fic about (insert topic)" or "where did you buy (blank) from?". Another question that I constantly got were political questions that others felt I should comment on. Don't get me wrong -- those questions are absolutely fine -- but sometimes those questions do get repetitive and boring. After all, there are more important things going on, either politically or socially, going on these days than what brand someone is wearing or a work of fiction that somehow found its way through my mind. It was during one of these questions that the term "apathy" came across my mind. Being a political science major, it was fairly difficult for me to be truly "in the middle" about most political issues, but it did make me learn something in the process.

Allow me to explain. 2018 had been a very stressful year, but the vast majority of that stress has been self-induced. A certain amount of stress is good because it pressures us to get things done and move forward with our lives. But no matter how good something might be, there's always a point where too much of something results in a loss.

When stress in our lives begins to negatively affect our quality of life, our relationships, our mental well-being, it's often because we care too much about something. Usually, these things are issues that we can't change no matter how hard we work on them. Personally, stress was something that I forced myself to work and coexist with. For a while, things seemed to be working pretty well, but there came a point when I was winning certain battles but losing the war. In case you want more information on how I did, I lost the war on 2018...pretty badly.

It's quite a long story and difficult to explain, but I was so focused on so many things that at the end of the day just didn't matter. It was like trying to run five different races at the same time. It was a clearly impossible task, but sometimes we feel like we can still do it all. Personally, it was a failure in the sense that I was too consumed with trying to have everything. No one has everything. As time goes by, I started to realize that no one really has everything they want. We all have weaknesses -- but obsessing over our weaknesses don't magically turn them into strengths. It just makes these issues seem larger than they actually are.

That's where my point of apathy comes into play. Apathy doesn't mean I'm not aware of the problems in my life. It's more about not being too concerned about it. How about we go with an example. Let's take medical school applications (a personal example). I (and many others) went through the miserable months (June to November) where we stressed, worried, and played the "what-if" games over and over again in our minds. But what is the point of all of these hand-wringing games? Applications have already been submitted, MCAT scores and GPA's can't be changed, and unless you have the skillset to hack several systems at once, you can't change either your experience or the numbers behind your application. When I look back upon the entire application experience, I want to punch myself. All this time that I used to worry about these things could have been used for things that I could have controlled -- studying more during my classes (thus earning a higher GPA), enjoying time with my friends, or simply just taking some time to sit back and relax. What is my point? I was overly concerned with an outcome that was no longer in my control.

2019 is going to be a big year for me. I finally have a steady job that pays alright, move into the "real world" as an adult, and I have zero intentions of being financially dependent. While 2018 has had a fair amount of happy moments, I would like a pass on a potential repeat. This past year's top emotion was stress, straight and simple. This next year, I will not stress over things that are beyond my control. I am sure this next year will bring its fair share of rejection an failure, but I don't think I've been this excited for a new year in a very long time. Every so often, we need a good cleaning in our lives. Although letting go of things is never easy, some things (some people) simply need to go.

Apathy isn't about completely not caring or trying to erase what happened, but its more of putting things you can't change aside. It's about being neutral about these issues. It's about accepting the fact that you have done everything in your power to get the desired result, and accepting the end result, whatever that may be.

This may sound pessimistic, but we're all going to make someone angry, fail at something we wanted, or make a decision that will be unpopular. Should we be aware of our failures and try to improve upon ourselves? Absolutely -- turning a blind eye is not going to solve anything. But on the other hand, sitting around and trying to find the "perfect" solution can paralyze us from actually going out and living our lives. Being perfect is a lie that has been fed to us by social media. What might be right to me might seem wrong to you. There is no way for us to be able to get everything right, and we should just be content with what we have.

What's the best part about being apathetic? It gives us more time to focus on what's good in our lives -- friends, family, meeting new people. It's using our abilities to change what we can to what is important in our lives. Stress will always be a part of our lives, but, if we can learn to choose what areas we can actually change, it could affect us in a positive way.

So -- cheers to another year and a new blank slate. Thank you to everyone who has kept up with me in 2018 and keep your comments and feedback coming my way.

Happy New Year, everyone.