I am writing this because there comes a time in your life where you just have to DO something, anything, to let yourself know you are alive.
My mother has told me this countless number of times, and I never believed it until I actually DID it.
But many people ask themselves: “How can I just DO, if I don’t know WHAT TO DO?”
It’s quite the dilemma, let me tell you, and I have spent countless hours trying to figure out, “What to do”.
I think in figuring out what to do, you have to look to your past experiences and understand your feelings. They are clues about who you are, and how you fit into the puzzle. They depict your pure essence, and develop into a unique life.
Many times people don’t allow themselves to reflect upon the lessons, and they awaken to find themselves on a busy road, only to continue going with the flow. However, some awaken themselves through understanding, with the realization of purpose and an innate ability to carve their own way.
This is my adventure of how I found my “What to do” and “How to do it”.
This realization has awarded me the confidence and strength to become the person I knew I could be.
The girl who follows her dreams, and gives other people the courage to follow theirs as well…
Life hasn’t been an easy ride for me all the time. Growing up Half- Asian and Half (as I like to say it) Everything else. It’s been a weird identity crisis from the beginning. This morphism has encouraged me to become the person I am today, and has made me realize the importance of taking your time, and figuring it out.
Not all of us are lucky enough to know what we want to be from the moment we are born. I can tell you I have changed my imaginary profession about a million times, but it is important to remember this is OK. We don’t all bloom at the same time, and it’s perfectly normal. That’s what makes the world go around, and that’s what makes us unique. What would be the fun in identical identities?
As I think about some of the significant accounts of my life, I can’t help but wonder how it might have been, but it is not worth my thoughts or my time. I can’t change it. I am, who I am today, because of the life I was given, the choices I wanted to make, the people who were born into my life, and those I allowed into it.
I have always said, “You can’t blame who you are today on other people, because “you” in that moment of your past, wanted to take some action that has lead you to the here and now…”
It would be a shame to condemn your past, and not take responsibility for it. When you allow yourself to take responsibility for your actions, you strengthen your ability to change your future. If you don’t like where you are, you can change it. Today is the only day you have to work with; today is the only day that counts.
So MAKE IT COUNT.
As I share with you some of my life moments, I encourage you to think about your own, and to ask yourself: “Are you who you want to be?”
My early years were some interesting times from what I remember. I was an only child, born on June 4 into a half-Chinese family. My mother’s side of the family was Chinese, and my father’s was “everything else.” It’s an interesting dynamic growing up in-between cultural extremities. I was always the odd ball out it seemed, never really fitting into a category, but always seeming to make my own way. I had full Chinese cousins and full “everything else” cousins, and then there was me. It’s not that I felt out of place, I just always felt different.
I was a curious child. And I think a few of my thoughts set me apart from the rest. My zest for inventing new ideas was, not only intriguing, but also fun. Being an only child, I remember always thinking of ways to make money. Not really “money” in the aspect of monetary means, but in a sense of company. I wanted to spend more time with people. I believe that was, and is today, one of my strong qualities. I was always thinking of ways to incorporate more people into my life.
One of my ventures was starting a Library. I looked at what I had, and I worked with it. Being a 5 year old, obviously your resources are limited. I had a lot of books and I had a lot of comic books. Why not play “library”, however; my definition of a library was charging five cents for each item. I understood I still wanted to read my books, but that I could rent them out to my friends who wanted to read them as well.
At such a young age, how I understood the concept of renting is beyond me, but there I was trying to get all my little friends to give me 5 cents. It worked too, but in a very interesting way. When my friends came to my house, I would get 5 cents. However, when I went to their house, I would pay them 5 cents. It was a very logical stance to take for a 5 year old. Your house, I pay, my house, you pay. So by incorporating my friends into the business transactions, we all learned the positive effects of sharing, but at a price. The better and more desirable books you owned, the more money you received. I guess that’s true about business in real life too. The more products you have that people want, the more money you make.
My venture capitalism adventures didn’t stop there, oh no… They were only just beginning.
Every summer I would go to Michigan and Ohio. My cousins, friends, and I would set up lemonade stands. Well, I believe it was my nature to not sit still. I had a very active mind, and a sedentary life just wouldn’t suffice. I decided to make a mobile lemonade stand. It was a full service lemonade stand on wheels, except it wouldn’t have a table or a huge sign. It would just have the essentials; the sign for the price, the lemonade, and cookies-I always added these to my menu because who doesn’t like cookies? My friends and I would attach a wagon to the back of a bike, and ride around the neighborhood. I thought if they weren’t coming to me, and I was bored, Why not go to them and make an adventure out of it?
We actually made quite a bundle, it was a “success” and in my mind “fun”. It was fun to meet new people and when you’re six, life is about having fun; you can have your cake and eat it too. You can love your life, and having fun making the dough.
I was one to get bored pretty easily though, so my entrepreneurial and entertainment skills varied based on interest of the day. The possibilities were endless, and it went from making dance moves up in my basement, to making haunted houses, and even going so far as to start a restaurant in my backyard, “The Outback Shack”. My summers were always filled with trying new things, and building my happiness. I was always inventing some way of entertaining myself.
I knew back then, the essentials of life. I knew that my happiness only existed because of me… but along the way of life, I lost that realization. I guess as time goes on, you forget the simple truths, for everything around you becomes complicated, and you feel growing up only exists in that complication.
Put Yourself In Other People’s Shoes
I didn’t really know the meaning of being born a “half” into a “whole”, until I began second grade. This dynamic can bring about some very interesting identity crises’.
I remember being in grade school, and always feeling a compassion for other Asians. The kids weren’t mean, but you could sense the minorities were being left out. I would always go out of my way to say hi, be kind to them, and make them feel like I appreciated them.
I don’t know how this was instilled in me, but the identifying half enabled me to connect and sense the way they did. I have always been able to put myself in other people’s shoes. This has allowed me to understand the hurt, pain, as well as the happiness and enthusiasm many people may feel in certain situations. I feel like being half-Asian and “Half-Everything Else” has allowed me to see other people’s points of views, and accept them for who they are, which is invariably apart of who I am.
This characteristic allowed me to identify with everyone, the “geeks”, “dorks”, “cool-kids”, “average-kids”, and so on…
When I saw my peers crying or someone hurt, I always tried to help. If I became too afraid to stand up, I would send them positive thoughts. The fact that a part of me was in theory, also a part of them, somehow made it normal for me to act in this way. The way I wished to be treated: in a kind, supportive, loving manner; rather than judging.
I always felt tension when I thought badly of others, and the only person I ever hurt while judging, was myself. This was because I was and am, in so many ways, similar to them. We grew up going through the same schooling, the same tests, the same lunch periods; we were all connected in some way.
This thought didn’t shield me from feeling alone though…
When you’re in grade school, and a “Half”, it’s hard to know who your friends are. It’s hard to know which group you identify with… It’s hard to find your way… but in going through many of the same situations as my classmates: being hurt because someone said something mean to me, crying because I received a bad grade on a test or project, having fights with my parents at home, and being sad at school; I somehow felt at ease.
I may not have had the same immediate family members, but our similar experiences instilled a connection with me; a part of them was also apart of me.
It’s amazing at such a young age, how I was able to identifying with my classmates based on our similarities, and how it enabled me to feel so intertwined in their well being.
This is a lesson that lives within me. It has made me appreciate everyone, because the interactions they had in my life, has helped mold me. I think the most profound lesson I learned in grade school was: you never know what someone may be going through, and you never know how a kind, positive word or thought can change a life.
An Event you could Never Imagine Happening…
In middle school, I moved to Florida. It’s an interesting thing, just when you think everything is going to be wonderful… it only takes a second to turn it all around.
My mother received a call from my aunt, one of those calls you never want to hear.
My uncle had been shot… and died.
It was sort of a concept, I didn’t understand in 5th grade. I understood what happened, but I didn’t understand the intensity and how it would affect my entire family from there on out. I went to school and lived my life as a 5th grader, but my mother left to support her sister. It didn’t seem like my life was any different, but it definitely was.
In times of great trials, one of the most important sources of strength is your family. When I talk about family, I don’t mean blood related. “Family” means people who help you, support you, love you just the way you are, and encourage you ever step of the way. Family is a general term that should blanket everyone in your life that has been in your corner.
This event was peculiar to me though, how could life just go on when one person you knew wasn’t able to anymore?
But, as we learn… It just keeps going. The hours don’t stop, the days don’t stop, life doesn’t stop, and when you think it should, Time doesn’t care. It does as it pleases, and hopes you get back on truckin’.
I will never understand the pain my aunt and two cousins felt when they heard that news. Because even though he was my uncle, being an immediate family member means so much more.
By observing them and their grieving process, I learned your not allowed let life’s blows break you apart. It may seem like a bullet just tore through your gut, when you were really just hit by a stun gun. It hurts, and it hurts like hell, but your heart still beats and your mind still works. Your time is still valuable, and your opportunities are still present.
My whole family survived that horrible tragedy and we still don’t know the “whys”, but there comes a point where the “Why” becomes irrelevant.
You can’t always know the “Whys” of life, because life is a mystery and people are mysterious creatures, but you can know the “How”.
And the only question that is important to be answered is:
HOW did my family survive it?
We survived it by loving each other and supporting each other. Love and Support are two very strong healing medications. They can make you feel well again, even after the most unimaginable times.
Tragedy Strikes Again, But In New Form
Years go by and I meet a boy, a boy who would change my life forever. He lived right next to me that entire summer, and he helped me learn what “First Love” was all about…
He was the bad boy type, older, and so adventurous. I loved his enthusiasm for living on the edge, and pushing the limits (Of course, not all limits are meant to be pushed… ) .
But when you’re in high school, that’s all you really want to do. It’s kind of like a coming of age ritual, to see what adulthood is really like, to see just how far you can go. I have heard people say, “It’s because teenagers think they are invisible, they feel nothing can hurt them”. In a sense, it is kind of like testing the limits, to see if it’s really impossible to fly like superman.
Kids grow up with these imaginations that could rule the world, and I believe the teenage years bring that into fruition. Not because they aren’t aware of consequences, but the “what ifs” of their childhoods are still ever-present their minds. It’s like they still believe it’s possible, to be a living, breathing superhero.
He didn’t try to fly or anything… but he did show me a side of life, a side I never knew existed.
The thrill of sitting next to a boy you liked for the first time and watching the stars, the courage to use a rope swing and fall into a creek, and the feeling of butterflies. All of the intense feelings intertwined in my adolescent experiences, were because of him. He taught me more about life, than any book…
He taught me the importance of going out, and doing what you want.
In loving every second of your life, and in never taking a moment for granted.
His life’s story was truly an inspiration, and his enthusiasm lives within me everyday. I do believe he lived his life to the fullest. It is unfortunate when people, who have that much zest for life, are taken too soon. You know what they say though: “Only the good die young.”
It’s a completely different feeling when a friend is taken from you. It almost hits home a little more, ironically enough. I was very close to him; he was a main contributor in my life. He helped me learn essential life lessons, the ones you can’t teach in school. He was one of my best friends. Even though I didn’t know him for a long amount of time, his life taught me to never give up on my sense of adventure, to always look for the fun in every decision I make, and to never loose my sense of wonder.
If you think about it, we are all just grown-up kids, who we are today is largely apart of how our childhood was. We should all remember what we loved, and how we felt during those times. I believe they can teach us a lot about ourselves now.
Remember how you felt when you opened a present you liked, or when your friend complimented you on the new toy, or the sense of achievement you had when you scored a soccer goal and everyone was high-fiving you?
Remember those feelings, remember the happiness they brought you, and try to re-create them in your everyday life. Feelings are hard to put into words, but you know when they are there. They are easy to identify, if you become aware of yourself and your circumstances. Notice what makes you tick, what makes you feel alive, what makes you happy, and what makes you sad.
The more I have become aware of situations and how they have really made me feel, the more I have been able to live a more fulfilled life, and I hope one day we can all become more aware of what makes us unique.
It wasn’t hard to do when we were babies and kids…
Why is it so hard for us to do it now?
College Years and Beyond
It’s amazing how life allows us to experiment every day, how can great things not be accomplished with this much potential?
I went away to college in Texas. This was probably one of the best decisions, I have ever made. The only thing I knew about Texas was, everything was bigger there…
It was a great way for me to challenge myself and move out of my comfort zone.
I encourage everyone to leave their town or state if they felt the same way I did…
And I felt: TRAPPED
I needed to get out of Florida; I needed to experience a different side of life. I needed to try and understand something different.
Boredom has never been in my nature.
[I think it stems from being constantly on the go when I was little. Whether we were going on a road trip, to Disney World, an amusement park, a museum, or just to the mall. My family always kept me busy, and I think that probably explains why I am the way I am.]
I needed a new adventure.
College life for me really wasn’t that different, I always grew up being pretty independent (I think in only children that is prevalent). I loved being on my own, and the teachers and everyone were great.
The hardest part for me to get used to was, “Greek Life.” This shouldn’t have been a difficult concept for me, because I was always able to freely associate well with anyone.
But… in a way, it kind of was. It was hard for me to associate myself with just one group; it was hard to understand the essence of each Chapter.
Freshman year all the girls would get dolled up, wear their peals, become the perfect image of what they wanted to portray. It was a life I was not accustomed to, yet so many others were. This behavior was extremely second nature to them. When I would be trying to sleep an extra 30 minutes, they would be up doing their hair, make-up, and picking out the perfect outfit.
[Let me clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, in different areas people are raised differently, this was just a foreign concept to the girl who wore a uniform to school all her life.]
During this time of my life, I watched people, and I watched a lot of people. I wasn’t judging them, I was just observing behaviors, and I was amazed at what I saw…
People become an interesting herd of peacocks, when they are trying to impress others. Mixers, Socials, Events, the first years were filled with girls trying to impress the elders of their wanted groups. Some fit in perfectly, and then some just didn’t. Some were extremely uncomfortable trying to peacock against those who had lived this their entire lives.
I was one of these extremely uncomfortable peacocks. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, and at the end of the day I came to find out: I didn’t even know which peacock herd I fit into. Maybe I wasn’t a peacock at all, maybe I was just a zebra, or in some entirely different category of mammal.
Despite my confusion, I did go through the process of elimination with both sides actively participating, and at the end I didn’t make the cut. Not for myself, and not for the group.
It was probably one of the hardest experiences in my life, to see my “friends” peacock their way into their respectable houses, while I was just left behind in the dust…
But what you don’t realize about being left in the dust is that you find opportunities in areas that aren’t so congested.
It may have been one of the hardest times in my life though… I wanted to leave school and drop out of life forever. I thought of myself as a failure… but what I didn’t realize was that I was given a grand opportunity to find myself.
My “friends” had left me for their respectable groups.
[This is completely understandable to me. I feel like if given that opportunity, I may have done the same thing- at that point in time.]
But by being left out of the group, I was able to be my own group. I was able to become my own best friend, and at times my own worst enemy. I was able to develop myself.
That’s the thing about being alone though, you only have yourself to get through it, and you can’t rely on anyone else. And I was A-L-O-N-E, but by being alone and my “friends” in their newly found lifestyles, I was able to start over; a clean slate.
No one cared what I wore, and no one really cared to get to know me; it was like I went invisible for a year. It was almost freeing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I did make friends, many of which went through the same process of not making the cut, and I am still friends with them today…
But, by being an invisible, you pave your own way, make your own plans, and do what you want. I wasn’t going to be judged based on the stereotype of a group, as most were, I could only be judged by what I put out there…
[I am not saying that the groups’ entire membership portrayed the essence of every stereotype, but most houses have a type, that’s what makes them different from the rest; sets them apart. Types fit into a house, and collectively, types act in a way of: “birds of a feather, flock together.”]
…I was able to make my own stereotype, I was able to sit by myself and think about myself. I was allowed the extra time, I needed, to find me.
This sounds as if the outcome may have been an egotistical extremist, but it was actually really grounding. In times where others were at socials, I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. I was reading quotes everyday, I was people watching, seeing behaviors in the classrooms that I would have never noticed. I was elated with the ability to be who I always was: The “half-Asian and half- Everything Else.” I was able to associate with anyone and everyone, anytime I saw fit, without having to deal with the repercussions.
In that first year, I talked to people I probably never would have… I opened doors I probably never would have, and I felt I was on the right path towards living the life I wanted to live.
Except, there was always that “what if” in the back of my mind that I couldn’t shake. I always wanted to know what it felt like to be in a group like that, to do the things they did, to have that sense of cohesiveness…
Hey, is the Grass Greener Over There?
Sophomore Year rolls around, and I enter into the peacock brigade. Except this time, I’m more aware of who I am, what I like and I’m not afraid to show it. I went through that week with more confidence than ever.
Going through the process as a sophomore, was far less intense, because most people give up if at first they don’t succeed, which means less competition. However, they also don’t accept as many sophomores, but that didn’t stop me. I was never one to settle with the wonder, I always needed to know what the wonder was about… and I knew that I wanted to be apart of a group.
I went in with a clear, conscious and open mind. I knew that whatever happened, it would happen for a reason, and me worrying about the “what ifs”, wouldn’t change anything except the mood I was in.
I made it through the rough patch, and found my way to my house…
However, little did I know that being a double minority in a single-group proves harder than you would think possible. I thought that by being accepted into a group, by a group, this would somehow erase all the minority boundaries.
This was not the case… I felt more alone, being in a group, than not being in one at all. I did make some friends, but I felt that by joining the group, I obtained my very own stereotype. Not one I myself accomplished, but one that was thrust upon me, I was: “The Sophomore Asian who helped meet the quota for minorities.”
It was an extremely bizarre feeling, because the people who were most judgmental were the “groups” I would have meet, had I made the cut my freshman year. The newer members were definitely more accepting.
[I believe because it was all new to them, they had nothing to compare the situation to, so me being there was normal.]
It was the older crowd that seemed to have made their minds up, not all of course, but I would say the majority. They had made their friends, and any newbie on their level was danger. They didn’t want their security system tampered with, because this is all they knew.
When I was alone finding out who I was, they were making identities involving each other. While mine was solely based on my conscious collections, theirs became the collective group. So I was like them in a sense, in that we both developed our sense of self, the difference is how we developed it.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t have fit into this group, and it’s not that they were forcing me out; it was a matter of timing. The time I used to develop myself, they too developed, and our individual developments weren’t concessive.
The norm boundaries of the collective had grown, and it’s hard to make your way into a comfortable group.
The time I allowed myself to go through changes, learn on my own, learn about myself, make new friends; they were shoved into situations where they didn’t have to work for it. The group was chosen because they were alike. They were the norm of the collective group, and within that norm you find deeper norms that make the groups even smaller. [These deeper norms may be a personality trait, similarities in interests, or as simple as where you grew up.]
All and all, I was in a house, but I wasn’t a peacock. Yes, I could do everything they did. I experienced all of the situations they did, but I experienced them in a sense of isolation, like I had freshman year. It’s a tough feeling, being apart of a group, but not really knowing the group at all.
However, I learned how to deal with the feelings of detachment… The group wasn’t making my life better, so I took myself out of the situation. I carried on like I had freshman year. I did the things I loved, and I was with the people who were similar to me. I was not happy in one situation, and I decided to take myself out of it. My happiness was more important than being in a group that didn’t care if I was there or not.
The best part about this was… I could go to everything they did, but I didn’t have too. I gave myself the freedom of both worlds, and it was wonderful.
This time period was probably the most influential experience, I have had thus far…
It made me realize the importance of never giving up. I wanted to be in a group, it took me two tries, but at the end of the day I succeeded. It didn’t matter how long it took me, because at the end of the day, I was in the group and no one could take that away from me.
It made me genuinely realize the importance of understanding that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Within that realization, I understood the importance of going after what you want.
I knew I was happy finding out who I was, but I always wondered about the other side… How wonderful it would be to be apart of a large group.
If I had not taking the chance again, I would have regretted it my entire life.
It is better to find out that the grass isn’t greener, than to regret not doing something.
Of course, in the end, I only found that I liked my side better, but I stuck it out on the other side, for the rest of my college career.
I may not have had the experiences most of the members had, and that makes me sad at times.
But, in the understanding that everything happens for a reason, and in realizing that by being myself, I was able to play on both sides of the fence, whenever I pleased, was extremely rewarding. I could have my cake, and eat it too. I just couldn’t have all the cake. Oprah said, “You can have everything you want, just not at the same time.” I agree with that completely… but by realizing what I liked and didn’t, I was able to have my cake and eat it too. I couldn’t change the way people were acting towards me, but that wouldn’t stop me from attending the party, and they couldn’t keep me out. It was all my choice.
It made me understand that even though you join a group, it doesn’t mean you’re accepted into it. Life in my eyes is about timing. One small decision can change your life forever, but you can’t waste your life thinking about the “might have beens”. You have to live in the “nows”. You have to realize that, you may not always be in control of how your circumstances play out, but just because you’re in a circumstance, doesn’t mean you have to stay in it. You have the ability to live a life you enjoy, and you have the right to change your surroundings, and the people who surround you. I liked the group for its gatherings, parties, and community service. I didn’t like the feeling of trying to be a peacock, so I adapted the situations to fit me.
Without the Lines…
It’s a funny thing leaving college, because you awaken to a world without boundaries. Your whole life, you live within the: “rules to have a college degree”; you’re told what to do, what classes to take, what time to wake up, how many credits you need to graduate, so on and so forth…
No one really teaches you HOW to do it they just tell you to stay within the lines.
But, no one really teaches you HOW to live without the boundaries, how to live outside of box…
Graduating college and being out on your own is a COMPLETELY different ballgame, and to be honest, scary.
Your whole life, you are told: “Go out there, do whatever you want to do, you can be who you want to be”…
But when it comes down to it, half of us have no idea what that even means…
[Even though we have been given the signs along the way… many of us don’t realize it, and it’s making meaning out of them that matters.]
I was one of THOSE people; completely lost, no idea what I wanted, where I wanted to be… so the easiest and most comfortable move, for me, was home to Florida. Moving home was probably the best decision I could have made though… it gave me the confidence to really look inside myself again, and figure out what would make me happy.
I have always told myself, I don’t want to hate my life and I don’t want to live every day wishing it were the weekend. I had this idea that you can love your job, and love your life at the same time.
For so long, I had watched and heard so many people complain about their jobs: how horrible they were, how they didn’t make enough money, how they felt like slaves to their paychecks, and how extremely unhappy they were…
I always swore to myself, I would never allow this to happen in live my life.
I just had NO idea what I could possible do to make that a reality…
So I took a year or so to figure it out. This may seem like a walk in the park, like an: “oh poor you, you had a year to figure yourself out.”
But, really… it wasn’t a walk in the park. I went through many days and nights, where I would just cry in my room. It’s a really unsettling feeling to not know what your identity is, to not know your reason for living.
I knew who I was in college: A college student studying my desired major. After graduation you become a graduate and the question always arises: What are you going to do next?
So what did I do to find out who I was? I read, and I read a lot…
I thought that by reading about the people I wanted to be like, maybe I would be able to identify with them, and then know my desired path.
That proved to be interesting and inspiring… but still didn’t help me answer my question. I liked bits and pieces of everyone, but I didn’t want to be a scientist, a president, or a stock investor. However, the stories did open up my eyes to personal failures and the importance of never giving up, and believing in your self.
[A quality I had come to fully develop later on…]
The countless hours of books and lessons still didn’t motivate me enough to make an unconscious change. [I say unconscious because when you find it, it’s always apart of you. You awaken a part of yourself that is so profound you’re never the same again.]
But, the question still remained unanswered, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t feel that strong passion they had felt. I didn’t feel that burst of energy, that…
“HERE I AM!”
During months of reading these books, I would be very inconsistent in my approach of becoming: “A productive member of life”. I would always be out with friends, basically trying to distract myself from officially “growing up”.
I just wasn’t ready…
I still felt like I was in high school…
How could time have gone by so quickly?
How could I be facing these life-altering decisions?
I was terrified. I was terrified of failing, I was terrified of hating my life, and I was terrified of letting my family and friends down. My fear literally paralyzed me from making any positive decisions or moves in the right direction. So I floundered and bobbed and became caught up in my comfort zone of friends and family.
On the outside, it looked like I was having the time of my life: I was socializing, smiling, seemingly happy, but really…
I hated my life everyday. I felt unaccomplished and worthless. It was exactly the feeling I was trying to avoid so adamantly, and ironically I feel right into its lap.
One day, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Some thing has to change.”
I thought the answer might be to go back to school. I wanted to find a path that had some boundaries, and the only thing I knew was school. There must be comfort there, right? It’s all I had ever known.
[Deep down I knew this wasn’t the path I wanted.]
I fell into the trap… Everyone was doing it, and so did I. If you can’t make your own path, you fall in habits. My habit was school, and it was easy. I knew the paths to success in school; I was an expert. So, I started studying for everything… LSAT, GMAT, GRE, Real Estate, I even considered getting certified in life coaching, ironic right? How could I think about coaching someone’s life, if I couldn’t even coach my own?
The thing was, I could always see other people’s problems. How their behaviors may be causing their downfalls… I could just never recognize my own, I didn’t see my problem.
I guess, I forgot my young lesson of: “half-everything else”, and didn’t remember how extremely similar their problems were to mine.
Even though people were going back to school, most didn’t want to go back to school, and neither did I.
Many were blaming the economic forces for making them go back, because there were seemingly no opportunities. But it’s easy to settle with a circumstance, if you don’t realize who you are.
Why had I not remembered the lessons of my past?
Hadn’t I been given this problem before?
I didn’t even realize, I knew how to handle this situation…
But I went against my instincts; I used the books and quotes like I had so many times before, but added in the “pre-destined plan of school. I thought school was definitely the answer. I spent hours studying for my tests; I was seemingly ready to start identifying with myself.
It’s weird though, because at the end of each day, I always felt uneasy. I felt I was selling myself short; I wasn’t being “ME”.
I wasn’t happy, even though I was making myself believe I was…
I decided to take a break from thinking about school, and to read more about inspiration. I had read so many quotes from remarkable people, and the general theme was: There is more to life than what you read.
I gained some inspiration in knowing other’s had been able to break through themselves, to find what was in the essence of their being.
I knew school wasn’t right for me at this time.
What I needed to do was figure out what was so wonderful about the story beyond the picture.
What made people pop their own balloons? What had these people known, that I couldn’t see?
I just didn’t get it.
Consequently, I went and bought and read almost every book I could get my hands on… Anything that I thought would help me understand my life, where I wanted to be, and how to make sense of it all.
With each turned page, it seemed, to help me see with easing clarity the tunnel amidst all the clutter.
Everyday when I woke up, I read inspirational quotes. I read thousands upon thousands of quotes. Each day’s theme being the mood I was in.
I stopped watching the trashy television programs.
I just read and read, and tried to make sense of all of the feelings within these quotes.
I started reading inspirational stories about people who found their way. These people felt so alive, they were happy.
I just didn’t understand.
I started praying more…
I started going outside more, really taking in the moment.
[I always used to do this when I was younger. It had always made me feel at ease. Why did I ever stop?]
I must say though, that the best thing I ever did was start surrounding myself with optimism and positive people, the people who were in my corner, rooting for me to succeed. The people who didn’t need to take a second thought to be by my side, because they were always there.
What most don’t realize is, negativity and bad behavior easily rub off. It’s easy to fall into that comfort level, that level where friends are content where they are; even though you know, they could be so much more… I am not saying there is anything wrong with this, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be.
It only brought me down. It was dulling my brightness, my enthusiasm, and my spirit. I was losing myself in a sea of comfort. I merely existed, and I knew I wasn’t that person.
I started to look back on my life, and my times of happiness. I started to soul search; I started to ask myself the hard questions like:
What makes you happy?
What has my life taught as of now?”
I started actively changing the way I thought about things. I started to notice the beauty in the little extras of life: like the formation of clouds, the random birds that appear in your backyard, and the serenity that comes with each sunrise and sunset.
I started to see how negative, I had been conducting my life. I noticed I was looking at the negative side of everything…
If it was raining, I was in a bad mood; when I could have been looking for the dance.
If a friend cancelled plans, I would be upset for the next week; when I could have been taking the opportunity to spend time my family.
If I lost something, the world suddenly came to an end; when I could have been seeing all the new things around it.
I never would have realized how I was being a negative, unhappy human being, without the people around me.
It was through their behaviors, I recognized my own.
We were all negative. We were all settling. We were all comfortable. They saw the negative side of every problem, the exact same way I did.
If you want to see who you are, just look around… It is staring you straight in the face, and that is the truth.
I realized the only way to change my direction was to have a new perspective, and this has made all the difference…
From that realization onward, every time I heard people complain about their life, or how horrible some minute detail was, I would cringe. I didn’t want to be around these people. I was trying to be a more positive and uplifting person. They were all starting to become shadows on my sunny day.
If they didn’t care to see how their behaviors were affecting them, I couldn’t be around any longer to sacrifice “me”. I started distancing myself from people. I fell off the face of the earth for a month; no phone, and no contact with anyone from my past. I needed a new start. I needed to run away and develop myself again with this new realization of life.
Vacation from Real Life
I took time off from my life, in a sense I went invisible. I left my phone at home, and had no contact with any of friends from my past. I needed to work on me, and I needed to do it alone. I couldn’t have any more comfortable solutions. I couldn’t have any distractions from myself.
During that month, I did things that made me happy. I read more inspirational books. I read more quotes. And ironically, I found myself located where my childhood was made. I went for walks and noticed the birds chirping. I sat at coffee shops and just people watched. I sat down and had conversations with my family members, something that I hadn’t done in years. I woke up at noon, if I wanted too. I created random projects for myself, to keep busy, all because I WANTED TO DO THEM.
I just did things that gave me that old familiar feeling that I had when I was a little kid; the actions that brought back my innocence of pure joy.
It was the most freeing month of my life. It catapulted me into this stage of living.
It allowed me to understand that the things people worry about are mostly figments of their imagination and…
It allowed me to clearly recognize how I felt, when “living” happens.
It was not just one singular act that helped me arrive to this conclusion; It was many…
It was the time I took to figure each individual act that made me feel happy and alive.
It was the time I spent in my moments of life.
It was the time I spent being grateful for what I had.
It was the time I appreciated my difficulties.
It was the time I began loving myself.
The month was over before I knew it, and I felt like I was on the cusp of popping my balloon…
I felt my sense of self was over-flowing every second.
I felt like ME.
I went back home to continue on my path of positive thinking; the “right direction” path…
I guess being the curious kid that I was, always trying to understand a new way.
I had to test myself; I had to see just how strong this new awakening was…
I knew I had opened a new perspective on life, and I knew it was strong.
How could it not hold up against the past I had known?
I thought I would be able to handle going back there, because I just knew I was stronger than I had ever been. I didn’t see how it would even be possible to become the “me” reverse this new wisdom.
Environments have a Way of Pulling you into Prior Set Patterns…
Even though I felt like a completely different person, and I thought my mindset had changed. I continued to surround myself with the same people. I continued to frequent the same places. I started to act in the exact same manner as I had before I left.
I fell right back into the comfort level: the friends, the behaviors, the thought processes. There may have been a glimmer of the “new-changed” me, but it wasn’t enough to fight off the ease of comfort and familiarity.
I became the miserable, train-wreck of a person that I had once been. The person I promised myself I would NEVER become again.
How did I do this?
How could I have let this happen?
I was making the negative decisions that helped masked how unhappy and confused I was. I used fake courage when I was out in the world, but in my room I knew I was a joke. I used the negativity to make myself feel better; I used my comfort level to mask my extremely painful realization that I had failed again.
And then… Something Personally Happens in your Life, and it makes you Question Everything you know.
Everything that you thought was so crystal clear now becomes a disappearing act. It’s like you can’t recognize the boundaries between reality and make-believe…. And if you don’t know you have your foot on the ground, then you don’t know you’re own feeling of existence.
You lose your sense of caring about what happens to you.
You lose your reasoning for life.
You lose everything you’ve ever known, because it becomes so hidden within the unknown; it’s almost impossible to recognize.
It’s like your life becomes stuck in a video game, after it ends… so do you.
Without a trace of evidence ever to be found that proves your existence…
People I once knew became total strangers….
I indirectly hurt people I cared about…
The choices I was making were not in my best interest. At times, I don’t think I even knew what was happening. It was like a blackout under the moonlight.
I lost control.
I had no idea what I was doing.
My self-control became so dominated by my negative habits, that my innate instincts became completely unrecognizable.
Someone once said, “Character is so largely affected by association, that we cannot afford to be indifferent as to who or what our friends are.” I can’t begin to describe how true that is.
I had tried to change my life, but it was far easier to settle into habits than break through with change.
I was a living, breathing, human identifying, bad habit. I wasn’t reading my inspirational books and quotes; I was essentially a gossip magazine.
I didn’t know who I was, or what was true.
I was even more lost than I had ever been in my life. I started out as high as I had ever been, and I fell lower than I even knew existed…
I was in a black hole…
My parents were concerned, but didn’t know what to even do at that point. I put on a good show for them, so they never really understood the depth of my question mark. To be honest though, I did that on purpose. I didn’t want them to worry; I didn’t want them to think they failed. I didn’t want them to take any blame for how my life was. In the end, it was all my actions that caused my dismay. They did nothing wrong. It was merely an extreme period that I think I knew was always coming. Extremity was always in my nature, how could I not know it would happen in my life as well?
The Message in the Chaos
The great thing about friends is they are your closest family members. They help you make your memories. They help in your molding. They know you a lot more than you know yourself sometimes… and they will always be found when you need them most. But, to recognize your true friends, you must recognize your “friends”…
Some of my “friends” were so lost within themselves that they didn’t notice any problems.
Some didn’t care enough to lend a hand, but thrived in my failures.
Some tried to help, but became over-whelmed by the need of someone needing their help.
And then some just show up with your best interests at heart…
Your true friends have a way of appearing in the nick of time. You don’t have to go looking for them; they somehow know they are needed. By being lost, I found out who my real friends were, and who were only there for their pieces of cake.
During this time, my true friends really were my rock. They gave me the encouragement, the shoulder to cry on, a place to stay, and their endless hours of time.
The bigger the mess I made, the longer they would stay and help me clean it up.
It’s a wonderful feeling to know true friendship, your true family members. I reached my breaking point, and it far surpassed anything I thought was possible. But, within the chaos of breaking and in the finding of true friends, I found myself again. It was like all of their Love and Support gave me the courage to see myself, to see my life again. They helped me feel my light. They helped me know, I was still living. I was still able to change my life. I may have lived through hell, but I didn’t have to stay there.
I had learned so much throughout this mirage of reality, and it would have been selfish of me to ignore all of the lessons I had learned. It would have been selfish to not believe in lessons…
I learned that life is such a precious gift, and it should never be taken for granted.
I learned that complaining about any kind of situation doesn’t change the facts; it only affects your mood and the moods of those around you.
I learned that listening to stories about your parents and grandparents’ pasts, are more intriguing than any fantasy novel.
I learned that a positive attitude opens more doors for opportunities than a negative one.
I learned that if you don’t want to be around yourself, how could you expect anyone else to?
I learned that a mother’s love is more important and uplifting than anything in the world, it can bring you through the “impossible”.
I learned a father’s encouragement gives more courage than you ever thought possible.
I learned that true friends are always by your side, even when you don’t want to be there, because they know you’ll make it though.
I learned that crying alone about something usually results in self-pity, and lasts longer than it should.
I learned that you go through hard times, to be able to appreciate every single moment.
I learned that finding yourself, isn’t an easy process, it will probably be the hardest thing you will ever do… but it’s worth every ounce of pain.
I’ve learned even if you think you’re stronger than the forces around you, it only takes one moment of weakness to turn it all around.
I’ve learned that a lot of our lessons can be found in our childhood truths.
I’ve learned the moments when you feel like you can’t go on, always-present opportunities to show you; you can.
I’ve learned, you have to go through the difficulties in life to know what it’s like to LIVE the good times.
I’ve learned there are always people rooting for you to be miserable, but that’s only because they are miserable too.
I’ve learned people are so afraid to look within themselves, because they are afraid of what they will find. Their fear paralyzes them. If they don’t innately strive to be better, they will always live within that fear.
I’ve learned you can think you know it all, when really we can only know ourselves.
I’ve learned there is no greater feeling than knowing people who have your best interests at heart. It’s a love only a few find, it’s a love so rare because people feel by caring that intensely, they those apart of them. When really, they only grow stronger and larger.
I’ve learned this life is to be lived, and it’s to be celebrated every day. If you’re not happy in a situation, you have the right to manipulate it; you have the right to make yourself happy, but not at the expense of others.
I’ve learned through the process of finding yourself, you can lose yourself all over again; only to come back stronger and more prominent than ever, and it humbles you to realize that no matter how high you fly, there is always gravity pulling you down.
I’ve learned just when you think you know it all, you don’t… There is always more to learn, there is always room to grow. Living has no bounds to its existence.
With all of this new knowledge and wisdom, I had to change, and I had to change fast or my life could be headed where I was going, and that was probably to a dumpster on the side of the road.
So I made a clear and unconscious effort to never become lost again, to truly and faithfully be who I was, and to not care about the opinions of others.
My friends and family had seen me at my worst, and they were still in my life, helping me back up.
I had the confidence and support I needed to make big changes. My life was going to mean something. I wasn’t going to fall into the cracks and waste away; never making a difference. Never making my place known.
I had everything I had ever needed to make my life everything I wanted, right in front of my face the entire time.
Sometimes people just need to lose themselves completely, in order to see what’s been staring straight at them all along.
I had the knowledge of inspiration, people, events, and life experiences. I had the appreciation for life, and everything it had to offer. I knew the lows and the highs; I knew the importance of the days.
I had completely transformed any negativity and turned it all into positive behaviors. I started sharing my inspirational books with family members and friends. I started broadcasting positive thoughts everywhere people could see.
I started seeing life from the perspective I had once known, and it was wonderful. I knew the importance of being ME, and I finally understood what I needed to be…
I needed to be in a position that would afford me the chance to help more people; a chance to help them realize the importance of positive behavior and in finding their happiness.
I needed to tell people we are one of the same. We are all: “Half-Everything Else”. We grow up through our interpretations of situations, and those situations are many times experienced by every one of our peers. We are essentially the byproduct of our generation with a little unique twist.
I needed to show people that even though bad things happen, that doesn’t mean you give up. It means you fight for what you want, and you bear through the tough times. If you have a strong support system, anything is possible and I mean anything!
NEVER give up! The number of times it takes to get it right doesn’t matter. It only matters that you do eventually. You have to understand that you are stronger than what others make you believe. It doesn’t make you less of a person, because it takes you longer than everyone else.
In the end, we’re all in the exact the same place, past the finish line…
HERE I AM!
My life and my unique interactions have allowed me to realize the importance of my experiences: the hardships, my battles with myself and others, the feelings and emotions I had during these times, and the sense of complete accomplishment when I realized what was really important; when I realized my reason for living, my identity. This self-reflection was the key to understanding what so many before me had known; the value in living every bit of life. Those feeling have afforded me to the opportunity to follow my dreams, exceed my own expectations, to help others, and to radiate positivity.
I believe we all have it in us to find our: “HERE I AM!”
You just have to believe it too…