Tag Archives: life

Dear Younger Self

The Child Mind Institute started a campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month, May 2018, where celebrities who struggle with mental illness share a message to their younger selves. They share what they wish they’d known, or general advice while recounting their experiences with their mental illness at that time in their lives. In honor of that, I decided to do the same. This is my message to my younger self.

Dear Younger Self,

I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s going to get better and that this will all go away. It doesn’t. But, you can learn how to handle it better and you can open up to people without being afraid that they’ll leave you. I have friends now that I can depend on, and they know about the dark thoughts and awful feelings I experience.

You’re not the only one feeling this way, even if it feels like it. There’s nothing wrong with you and you shouldn’t feel ashamed. I know that you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, but take time to breathe deeply and know that there are bigger things out there. If you’re not doing well in school, it’s not going to be the end of the world.

I wish you could be prouder of yourself and your accomplishments. I wish you could see how beautiful and bright you are, Ling. You’re an amazing person and you’re so strong for going through this on your own. Don’t let others make you feel invalidated. What you’re feeling–the fear, the hopelessness–those are real emotions you’re feeling. You’re allowed to feel these things without feeling guilty and thinking that they need to be justified.

Finally, I want you to let you know how much I love you and how proud I am of you. I know there were so many times when you just wish it would end, times that you thought about doing it yourself, but you’ve shown such resilience and tenacity by pushing forward. There are going to be unexpected bumps in the road, but just because you trip it doesn’t mean you have to stay down. It’s a long process, but you’ll be able to get to the other side. There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy, nothing wrong with taking medication, nothing wrong with admitting that you’re sick. Mental illness doesn’t make you crazy or any less of a person, it just means that your brain, like any other organ, needs a little extra care.

You don’t have to constantly prove yourself. You are enough. You are amazing as you are, and people see it. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay, and you’ll be okay.

Love always,

Ling.

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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

XII

I wanted a tattoo since I was maybe 10 years old. By the time I was 18, all I wanted was to get inked. I waited five years since then, talking about it constantly, and I finally did it last week.

There were so many reasons for why I waited five years to finally go through with it, even when I was extremely close to getting it done at 21. For one, a lot of people, although intrigued by my tattoo ideas were, quick to discourage.

  1. Are you sure? It’s permanent you know. Will you regret it?
  2. Where are you going to put it? I mean, think about when you get older, or if you get pregnant. How will it look then?
  3. Aren’t you afraid of needles? How are you going to handle that?
  4. I’ve heard it’s painful…
  5. Is your family going to be okay with it?

There were so many more reasons, so many more doubts put in my head each time I spoke about getting a tattoo. In fact, getting a tattoo seemed almost as taboo as talking about mental illness. There’s a stigma attached to it, especially within my culture and family. Getting a tattoo is like going over the edge, becoming a criminal, etc. Yet, that stigma didn’t bother me a bit. I wanted that tattoo, well, more than one. Regardless, you have to start with one before you can get more, right?

I used shrug off those questions. I used to be blase and say it didn’t matter. Or yeah, it made me nervous but I still wanted it. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to go through with getting a tattoo if I couldn’t answer the above questions. So here are my answers:

  1. Am I sure? Yes. Will I regret it? No Do I know it’s permanent? Of course, I do. It’s one of the main reasons I want to get it done. I want something I know will be permanent in my life. (Barring from any unforeseen circumstances or injuries, of course.)
  2. Where are you going to put it? There are lots of places to put a tattoo. There are places where skin won’t sag or stretch as much, and those would be great places to put a tattoo. But I want mine to be visible, I want them on my arms and wrists. I want to be reminded about them. How will they look in the future? How should I know? All I know is that no matter how distorted the image becomes, I will still see it for what it was originally. The meaning behind the tattoo, the reason as to why I got it, those things won’t change even if the appearance does.
  3. Aren’t you afraid of needles? Yes, I am. I am afraid of syringes that doctors and dentists use. How are you going to handle that? I won’t look at the needle. I won’t look as the tattoo artist preps. I will have someone there with me to keep my mind off of it, and if anything, squeeze his or her hand.
  4. I’ve heard it’s painful… I’ve heard that it varies. I’ve read about it online, and it depends on where you get it done. I’m also not really all that afraid of the pain. I’m prepared to scream and bawl like a baby. (I didn’t.) And honestly, a needle is being repeatedly stabbed into your skin, or in the very least scratching, yes it’s going to be painful. It might even be bloody, but millions of people can handle it, and so can I.
  5. Is your family going to be okay with it? I don’t care. I’m doing it for myself, it has nothing to do with them.

Number five was probably the hardest question to overcome. It was the one that kept me from getting the tattoo even though I desperately wanted it. What would my family think? Yet, it got to the point when I just didn’t give a f*** anymore. There are so many things that I didn’t do because I cared too much about how others would perceive me, what their opinions would be. The question that people should have been asking is, “will it make you happy?” The answer to that is yes.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am impulsive on some things, and take a long time debating pros and cons on others. The ones who know me best know that even those impulsive decisions went through the agonizing debate, just at a faster pace. I don’t make snap judgments. I don’t do things if I’m not wholeheartedly invested. Getting a tattoo was the longest debate, and probably the most easily answered. I knew since I was 10 that I wanted a tattoo. I knew what I wanted. I just hadn’t figured out the placement. And originally, I’d only wanted one–a rose with thorns. I always thought that if I were to get one, that’s what it would be. Guess I was wrong.

One reason I didn’t get that rose is because I wanted to know for sure I could get through the tattoo process. Secondly, I wanted to shop around and find a good artist that I could trust to do that one, so it might take a while. Thirdly, it’s going to a be a big one that covers my arm, so it’s going to be expensive. I still have every intention of getting it done, just not yet.

Then I had a couple of other ideas for what I wanted. In the end, I got an Eeyore with XII in it. While everyone’s attention and focus is on the Eeyore, my focus is on the XII. The significance is in the roman numerals, not Eeyore. I’m not sure many people understand that; in fact, they probably think the 12 just represents my birthday or something. It does, but doesn’t. That 12 represents nearly 12 years of my life right now, it represents the struggles I’ve faced and overcame, the resilience which keeps me going, and the past which made me who I am today. I would go into detail about the meaning of the 12, but it doesn’t seem relevant to do that. A tattoo is art, and art can be interpreted in many different ways.

I Used to Know

I was that kid in elementary school, junior high school, and high school who knew exactly what she wanted from life. I knew where I wanted to go to school, what I wanted to major in, what age I wanted to get married, and how many kids I wanted to have. I had this whole plan in my head. I was set, and I was sure. 

Then life happened.

Now, I’m not sure anymore. I never felt lost before. I never worried about where I would be in five years, if I could even see myself in five years. I always knew. I always had a goal and a way of getting there. My biggest fear when I was in high school was if I wouldn’t be able to have kids in the future. Now, I don’t even think I want to have children of my own. I never worried about graduating on time or what I would do afterwards. I knew.

Then life happened.

College was my turning point from the self-assured, I know what I’m going to do and I’m going to do it person to I have no idea what I’m doing with my life person. Psychology major fell through when I realized, I don’t care about brain chemicals and how they work. English major fell through when I realized, I didn’t want to be a literature major. I was set on being a creative writing major, and when that didn’t happen, I chose to go with what interested me–sociology. And although that didn’t fall through per se, it did leave me questioning what I’m going to do with that degree. No worries, why?

Because life happened.

I fell into a pit of depression and anxiety which became a vicious cycle where terrible thoughts fed upon and fueled themselves. And that took a toll on my academic performance, thus my dismissal from SUNY Geneseo. Upon receiving that dismissal notice, I was distraught. This could not be happening to me! But eventually, I was able to evaluate myelf and my career goals. I decided that I wanted to work behind the scenes to help better the world. I wanted to create my own non-profit, or in the least, manage one. Thus, my decision to take up Public Administration as a major. After that was decided, I looked for schools that had that program. Granted, with a GPA slightly above 2.0, I was worried I wouldn’t even get the chance. Thankfully, I was lucky.  Eve with that solved, I still feel lost. Why?

Because life keeps happening. 

That’s probably the hardest part for me. I used to be able to move with the flow, ride the current. Now, I’m stuck drifting and hitting the river bank and jagged rocks. I have no idea how to move straight with the rest of the water anymore. I don’t like this uncertainty. It bothers me a lot because it’s foreign and cumbersome. Unfortunately, it’s a huge part of life with which I need to get on board. I may be stuck in this spot for a while, and I can’t keep willing for life to stop. No matter how much I wish and pray, life will keep happening. And I cannot foucs on what I used to know, but to start thinking about what I could know.

Life will always happen,

but I don’t have to always fall victim to the constant changes.

Honesty

Growing up, we are taught, “Honesty is the best policy.”

Ironically, as we grow older and garner more experiences, we realize that people lie. People lie all the time, and there isn’t a single person who is completely honest or truthful to anybody, not even him or herself. But why do we lie?

As a child, we may lie to get out of trouble. To avoid punishment, we may dishonestly accuse another person.
Spilled milk? Nooo my imaginary friend or younger sister did it!

Another possibility might be to reap rewards that we don’t deserve.
Did you clean you room?
Yes.
Okay, you can have a cookie before dinner.

Even in our childhood innocence, lying is a natural thing for us to do. Is it a learned behavior or is it innate? Do we lie because we want to, or because we are simply incapable of being honest?

Then as we get older, we realize that the truth might not be the best thing to tell someone. It can come off as brutal or insensitive. And now we have to be conscious of how we express our opinions and feelings without hurting the other party. Sometimes we phrase our thoughts different, sometimes we stretch the truth, or tell a “white” lie.

No matter how small, or how good the intention, a lie is a lie. Period. You don’t get away with saying it was his or her own good. That’s his or her decision, you can’t make those choices and you can’t coddle someone from the harsh reality. If you’re not the one to be honest, someone else will be, and in the end the person who asked for honesty in the first place will feel betrayed.

Does this dress make me look fat?
No, it makes you look curvier.
Not to be rude, but the dress makes you look a little frumpy.

Then we become more cynical and jaded as life continues forward. We may not be lying because of malicious intent, but we start to lie to manipulate and get ahead in our careers, success, life. People always tell me to bolster my resume, to “sell myself” on cover letters. They tell me it’s okay, everyone does it and that employers know this too. But why would I want to get a job or acquire an interview on something that is not my actual merit? Why would I do that to myself, and to the person that hires me?

Moreover, there are people who play mind games to get what they want. They use their knowledge about you, what makes you tick and uses it against you. Those liars are the worst. Those are the ones that leave the scars behind from which you need to learn to heal. We’ve all dealt with one of those people, and if you haven’t, one day you will.

Liars are everywhere.

I admit that I’m a liar. I lie to people I care about, I lie to people I barely know, and I lie to myself all the time. I am dishonest as a way to keep myself safe, to set up a barrier to keep those who can hurt me out. I may not tell the truth to try not to hurt other people’s feelings, but lately I’ve been more honest and open. Sure, they may be mad at me now, and yeah they may leave, but don’t ask for my opinion if you can’t handle my response. I lie to myself to keep myself from falling into the depths of depression, and to build my self-esteem. It’s not as much lying as it is staying in denial (which I guess is a form of dishonesty).

I don’t like lying, it makes me feel rotten. It makes me angry at myself because I didn’t have the courage to express my true opinion. I’m working on honesty, and I wish others would too. I am sick of people lying to my face, and then turn their backs and do something contradicting their words. If you don’t want to be my friend, just say so. I won’t force you to stay. Don’t say that you’ll be there for me when I need you and be MIA when the time comes. Don’t tell me you care about me, when you don’t even bother texting or calling to check up on me. Don’t tell me you miss me and not make the effort to see me.

I just want honest people in my life. Open communication, honesty, trust, and respect. They all go hand in hand, and I don’t want anything less. I deserve at least as much as I give. And if I’m willing to give that much to you, then I expect the same in return.

Those are my honest thoughts.

 

Failure

I grew up with the expectation of success, there were no other options. Failure was more than just a one-time thing, it was something that would loom over you forever. Failure would incur disappointment, and disappointment would equate to shame.

Failure was is shameful.

But what constitutes as failure? Anything that isn’t up to the expectations placed upon you.

A lot of people don’t consider me a failure. My friends and family don’t believe that I am… Yes, I’m not living up to my full potential, but that doesn’t make me a failure… that makes me lazy. But being lazy is just a step toward failure isn’t it? If I’m not trying, if I’m not doing my best, aren’t I failing to meet these expectations?

I think of myself as a failure… and maybe that’s why my self-confidence morphs into the despicable self-doubt. I don’t think I’m good enough, I don’t think I can do what people seem to believe I can. I’m not where I’m supposed to be… that’s what I think.

I think I failed. I don’t think I failed my family or friends… not anymore anyway. I failed myself. I disappointed myself. I’m ashamed of myself.

And that’s something I have to bear every day. I have to carry the weight of the disappointment and shame, and the self-hate. I feel like a failure, and that’s my attitude towards myself, and my endeavors. I don’t set out to succeed, or do outstandingly, I set out to accomplish the minimum. I set out not to fail.

But here’s the reality: if you aim that low, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

I guess that’s what I’m doing… I’m setting myself up for failure, and then blaming myself for it — entering in an on-going vicious cycle.