Best Friend

My last post was about needing time to be alone. This one is the opposite it’s about friendship. I’m so complex.

I’ve given the label of “best friend” to several people in my life because at one point or other those people were my confidants. Sometimes I had multiple “best friends” at a time. That is, until one of them changed my view on the title. He told me that a person could only really have one best friend because that person is the best. The top among the rest, and the one you count on no matter what. The one that’s got you and you will undeniably be there for, too. So, it made me think and relabel those others as close friends. I only gave one person the title of “best friend” and he kept it for a long time. Then we parted ways, and I had no best friend.

I went a few years without considering any sole person as my best friend. There wasn’t only one person I relied on anymore, I’d grown to have a web of very close friends. There was not one person that outshine the rest because they all had different attributes that were invaluable to me. Then, I gave my current best friend the title because she did stand out from everyone else. She’s great, and she’s been with me through a lot, and I know she’ll be there for me for a long time coming. I confide in her, I enjoy her company, and she really is the best friend someone could have. She makes the effort and tries even when she doesn’t have the energy, and I appreciate that.

Except… she’s not really my best friend.

My best friend is still the one I gave the title to ten years ago, the one I deemed worth enough to designate as such. The same one that left me behind in a pursuit to live his own life, and I used to be so angry at that, but now I’m not. I understand that people change and in order to grow we have to go separate ways sometimes. He and I ended on really bad terms, but it doesn’t change that I will always consider him my best friend. Why? Why would I still consider someone who is no longer in my life my best friend?

Because of the impact he made in my life when he was. He was in my life during my most formative years of adolescence. He was there when I first had my debilitating episodes with depression and anxiety, and he was there to help me through them. He was the first person to put me first. He was the first person that I ever felt comfortable enough with to confide in and be vulnerable with. And that’s not something that’s replaceable. He will always be my best friend because I believe he was what’s best for me. The good times and the bad, the laughter and the pain, all of it. He helped me grow and learn about myself and others. He made me more compassionate and understanding of others because of how poorly I treated him. And as wonderful and amazing as my current “best friend” is, she can’t do all those things because they’ve been done.

I used to hate that I couldn’t replace him. That after all the conflict and craziness, I still miss him and think of him as the best friend I ever had. But, I’ve come to accept it. People aren’t expendable to me, and he’s unique. There will be others that remind me of him, but there’s only one of him in this world. And I know that if he ever came back into my life, I’d feel the same way about him as I did before. That he is someone I feel a deep comfort with and someone who I can be vulnerable toward. And that’s okay with me now. I don’t need a replacement. I just need to allow others the opportunity to be different types of friends, and maybe I’ll find one that usurps his throne.

I know that I will have many people enter and leave my life. Some will be acquaintances, some will be friends, some will be close friends, and they’ll all make an impact on my life. But like I said, the best friend is the one that is above the rest. And until I find someone that can outshine my former best friend, he’ll always be the best.

 

-Ling

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Solitude

We live in a world where we have to be constantly connected; where our routine dictates the first thing that we do is reach for our phones in the morning, and the last thing we touch at night. We check for missed calls, text messages, email, and every other social media platform we have. We have an incessant need to be in constant company of other people–even virtually. The idea of being alone is frowned upon, and the assumption is that anyone who is alone is lonely.

For instance, when you get to a certain point in your life, it’s almost a sin to be single. You start getting pressured to date, or being interrogated as to why you aren’t, as if there’s some sort of defect. It’s as if the idea of not wanting a relationship or not wanting to be with someone is ludicrous. The idea that you just want to be, and live your life by yourself is so foreign, almost. So much so, that companionship is so important that hookup culture is accepted because you’re not technically alone, almost as if friendship doesn’t count anymore–like friends don’t count as company. And the worst part of the belief that we always need to be around people is that you can’t tell anyone that you just need alone time without someone thinking that you’re depressed or upset.

Why?!?!

We live in a world with so many different types of people and different personalities. Some people are introverts and they just need to be by themselves to recharge after a grueling day of being around people all the time. Some people, like me, are extroverts who just want to relax, too. What’s so bad about being by yourself? It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in isolation or that you can’t be with other people, though sometimes it may be the case. In the words of Kelly Clarkson, “Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.” (Stronger, 2011). Sometimes being alone is required to recharge after a long day, or a long week. It’s not isolation, it’s solitude. And to some that may mean the same thing, it doesn’t. The difference between isolation and solitude is in how you feel. If you feel lonely while you’re alone, and dread or despair, that’s isolation. On the other hand, if you feel free or creative and just content with being by yourself, that’s solitude.

I personally struggle with the thought being alone. I always thought that being alone meant that I was isolating myself and that is bad, especially after I accepted that I struggle with depression and all the self-help books told me that I shouldn’t be alone. But that’s not true at all, sometimes I just like it. It’s nice not to have to expunge energy on other people all the time. It’s nice to just lay in bed, rest, and relax. There’s a freedom and lightness to not having to constantly check your phone and just do your own thing. It’s nice, and healthy! There are times when you need people, and there are times when you just need yourself. And when you need to just be on your own, and you’ll be okay just being on your own, go for it! Enjoy the solitude!

There are times when I will go places by myself, which is something I tend not to do, and it makes me feel good. Going out to a restaurant alone, getting my hair and nails done alone, walking outside alone all feel empowering at times. It gives me a chance to focus on the other people and my environment without being distracted by my company. It gives me a chance to enjoy my own company, something that rarely happens. And I learn a lot about myself when I’m alone, like the fact that I’m not as thrilled with people as I think I am. I am programmed to be so afraid of being alone with my own thoughts that I purposely throw myself into social situations, even when all I want to do is to be by myself and write. To be by myself period. I think that if I’m left alone long enough, I’ll spiral downwards. And that could be true, but the other half of the time when I’m alone and not lonely, I feel great! And I get to free my creative urges and write. So being alone isn’t all bad.

Also, there was a period in my life when I felt really alone and lonely. Eventually, that isolation became a positive thing. The loneliness faded when I accepted myself for who I was, and then I wasn’t so afraid to be alone anymore. And being alone made me happy. Made me confident. I became much more self aware and in tune with me. I had a new sense of self worth and it was great. Then I started dating because that’s what you do, right? And I threw myself into work and school–constant exposure to people. And eventually, I started losing myself again because I didn’t have any alone time. I was constantly around people. Constantly ignoring me and my needs. And when everything came tumbling down, I realized that I just need me time. And that’s what I’m doing now. The past few months of being alone, I wasn’t really… and the ones that I was, were the bad ones. I’m hitting the positive alone time now–the solitude. And I feel really excited about it. I’m writing again, and I feel lighter.

I am going to embrace the solitude because I need to, and maybe you do too. We all get burned out from always being connected with others, so maybe we should connect with ourselves a bit more to even out the score.

 

-Ling

Self First

Growing up, I was told that if I didn’t take care of myself, no one else will. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that no one else CAN.

No one else knows what we’re experiencing. There’s no way to truly communicate that. We can try verbalizing or using other means of communication, but another person can only get the gist. No one else knows what we really need. Heck, sometimes we don’t even know what we really need. But it’s up to us as individuals to figure that out. We’re all different, and we can’t go through life the same way.

I was told that my priority was school. That I had to finish school before my life could start. Finish college before dating. Finish college to find a good job. Finish school first! I haven’t finished school yet. I couldn’t.

It’s hard for me to admit because I think it’s shameful. But the matter of fact is, I did not finish college. In fact, I was academically dismissed from two different colleges. Why? Because I never put myself first. I knew I was struggling, all the signs were there, but I kept pushing. I didn’t get the help I needed, didn’t ask for the support that I needed. I was too embarrassed. School was always easy for me. I’m not stupid, and I did well academically. So when I started slipping, it felt like someone pulled the rug from underneath me. Then I became preoccupied with it. One failure became multiple, and all of a sudden, I lost control of everything. I didn’t put myself first. I put other people’s expectations first… or what I perceived as their expectations. The greatest relief for me came when my sister told me, “School is just school.” Wow. I never felt pressure leave me so fast as it did then. She told me that I mattered more than any degree could, and that I needed to focus on myself. I listened for a while, and then back to fitting the mold.

I had a nagging feeling about not finishing school, so I immediately transferred into a different one when I returned to NYC. Let’s just say, that was not beneficial to me at all. I still lacked the motivation, even though I was excited of the prospect of going to pursue a dream career. And again, it all came crashing down. I was not ready for school again. I didn’t even take the time to really work on myself before I jumped back in, assuming I was doing what I wanted and needed. Then I did take a semester off, and in that time I was itching to go back to school. I missed it. So, I thought I was ready. I did my summer class, and aced it. Then fall semester came, and I registered for 5-6 classes. I could’ve done 4, but I am always the overachiever. I felt that if I didn’t have enough work, it would be meaningless. But turns out, I took on too much too soon. So, some classes gave and others I worked my butt off to complete. That was a pattern. I could only handle so many classes, but I thought I was invincible, that next time would be different. Let me tell you, nothing changes if you haven’t changed in between that time.

So, I realized my passion for school dimmed again. Next best thing? Find a job. Maybe working would make me want to go back to school, and it would help me prepare for the future. So I got a job. It was supposed to be part time, turned out to be full-time. My first actual full-time job and I was ecstatic. I went in, did the job, and did it well. I felt great. Then, the stress of the job and my inadequate self-care piled on. Six months in, and I couldn’t manage anymore. Taking sick days, coming in late, just all the things that I should not be doing. Unprofessional to a fault. That’s where I was. The next step from there? I could’ve kept going, my boss was supportive and caring, but I know I was taking on too much and it was taking a toll on me. So my next step was to quit.

I hate quitting. I am stubborn to a fault, and quitting means admitting defeat. That does not sit well with me at all. I also really liked my job, so I didn’t want to quit. But everything my body and mind were telling me was that I cannot handle it. So that’s what I did.

I had to make difficult decisions in order to focus on myself. I like to think that I’m getting a bit better at it. I’ve enrolled in community college now, yeah clearly school still has a hold on me, but I’m going to take it easy this time around. I’m going to take it easy on myself and be practical instead of hopeful.

Empathy vs Gullibility

Working with a precarious population makes the boundary between empathy and gullibility blurry.

See, there are people who are manipulative and deceitful in their words and actions to get what they want. I have seen this happen many times. However, how the person on the receiving end acts or reacts to the situations is what interests me.

A person who “falls into the trap” can be seen as gullible–believing every story that he or she is fed. Yet, the person who is actually make the decision to follow along could be emoting empathy. He or she could be seeing the best in the perpetrator and giving that person a chance he or she may not often have.

We make snap judgments about people and situations, and often times we are swayed by a person’s background or history. This becomes the basis of whether or not someone is empathetic or gullible. It’s one thing to blindly trust in everything someone says, and another give someone the benefit of the doubt.

Empathy can be misconstrued as gullibility, but is there a point when it morphs? Can empathy act as a precursor to gullibility? If so, at what point does it change from one to the other?

 

-Ling

Dreams and Aspirations

As part of my Self Discovery segment I have decided to tackle the question:
What are your dreams and aspirations?

I know, you’re probably expecting some grandiose, “world peace” kind of post, but this is not it. Yeah, world peace would be great and I support the efforts in achieving that, but it’s not my dream and aspiration. I’ve learned the hard way that setting impossible standards and unrealistic expectations only lead to disappointment, so my answer is pretty simple… or at least, achievable.

My dream and aspiration is to make a difference or lasting impression in at least one person’s life. I would like to reach more people, but the goal is at least a single person. I want to be able to bestow upon people a genuine kindness and caring that we don’t see very often in our world of violence and brutality. I don’t expect a chain reaction or to make waves, but I want to make at least one person feel like there’s hope.

I know what it’s like to feel helpless and hopeless, and if I can, I would like to make sure that at least one other person doesn’t have to feel that way. I want to be able to reach just one single person and them feel better about themselves, feel that they can dream big and meet their goals.

Yes, my dream and aspiration is tiny, but hopefully, it will be repaid in a big way. I believe that everyone deserves to feel like they belong and are understood, and I want to have the effect on someone. I may have already achieved my goal, but if I have, then I want to reach more people. How? Either through my writing, through conversations, and through in-person interactions. I am trying to influence as many people as I can with positivity and optimism. But the main goal is just at least a single person. That’s all.

What are your dreams and aspirations? Feel free to share in a comment!

 

-Ling

Who am I? A Road to Self-Discovery

Remember in elementary school when teachers gave us prompts for independent writing? Almost every year I had to answer the question, “Who am I?” Back then, it was a lot easier for me. I would talk about my family and my grade level, etc. My answer was superficial and it was always in relation to other people. I described myself in terms of the people in my life. Or, I described myself in terms of how society viewed me. As a kid, no big deal. As an adult now, it makes me shudder to think that as I was forming my identity at that age, most of it was reliant on how others perceived me–a figment of your imagination and a victim of your perception.

If you asked me to answer the question now, I would honestly answer, “I don’t know.” Seems like a cop out answer, but it’s not because it’s true. I don’t know who I am at this particular moment in time. A lot has happened in my life to make me rethink and reconsider how I view myself. So, I genuinely do not know who I am. It bothers me that I can’t answer the question, but it also gives me a journey to go on. Thus, introducing the first segment to the soon to be remodeled blog: Road to Self-Discovery. Cliche, I know, but I think it’ll be interesting. At least, for me it will. I don’t know if you’ll care all too much about me finding myself.

Anyway, the idea of this particular segment is that each week, probably on a Friday or over the weekend, I will choose a topic or prompt that will require deep introspection and reflection. As I answer them, I hope to slowly learn new things about myself. After every five entries, I will return to the question, “Who am I?” And slowly piece the response together. Once I feel like I have a pretty solid idea of who I am, I will compile it into a single entry to answer the big question.

I would like for you to take the time and think about the topic, too. Share a little bit about yourself if you feel so inclined and maybe start a journey of your own. Identity changes, so who you think you are might not be the reality anymore.

– Ling 

I am now a .com

I just purchased the domain for my WordPress blog and am now the owner of a .com site. I originally wanted to get the domain from GoDaddy, but I would have had to add the hosting and figure out how to configure it to WordPress. Even more tedious, I would have to recreate the entire website and export all of my posts (if I wanted to keep them). So, I decided to simply purchase through WordPress because it would save me all the extra steps, especially because I would be using it’s platform for my website anyway.

So what does this really mean? Why purchase a domain if after almost two years I never did it? This means that I am revamping my website. It means I will be actively working on it and posting entries and sharing my writing. The template of the site I won’t reconfigure because I like the way it is, but the content will be sure to change. Obviously, I will continue to post my thoughts and ramblings, but I will be adding my writing and creating a more comprehensive representation of who I am and my vision for the website.

I am super excited for the new journey. Hope you are too!