nice for what

I don’t know how to write. I don’t know how to have a voice that portrays me. Every time I write on here, I sound like a phony and it discourages me. I write only a side of me I want to share, and that part I’m pretty good at. But this side of me sounds like a phony. I don’t sound like a liar, but always writing in this direction sounds insincere.

There’s this girl I know on Facebook that’s very real. She shares the good of her relationship and raising her kids then she’s open about sharing the bad. She’s unashamed of sharing the good and bad, and maybe oversharing the bad, but I see it as being real.

For a while I ridiculed this idea of oversharing on Facebook. Why would anyone want to share every bad thing on social media? It was dumb. Everyone saw how messy you were and how you could be. However, she explained why she did as she did as letting herself be very open and honest with her life.

Sometimes I think it’s dumb that she overshares her life, but I do think it is a good reminder that life is good and bad. It sounds cliche, but with Instagram pictures of perfect vacations and beautiful outfits and faces and filtered life updates on Facebooks, these social interactions have allowed us to think this is the normal. But it isn’t. Life is messy, grey, and unpredictable. But that girl on Facebook sharing the birth of her next child and how her baby daddy is in jail reminded me how life can be: unfiltered and raw.

This is sounding more like those Facebook posts that your mom shares about another mom raising awareness or having some little epiphany, but can’t blame myself for what I am. I’m raising two little chicks now and it has made me develop these motherly instincts for these dumb birds. But hopefully, I’ll get to my point.

I could blame social media for my disingenuous actions and motivations, but that’s the easy way out. I got caught up in being picture perfect. Everyone does it. They edit and control their image. Beyonce does it and my best friend does with his acne and blemish editing app before he post on Instagram. It’s easy to edit your story. I know I could just step away, but I feel like I really got caught up in being picture perfect. My ego got the best of me.

I didn’t just want to portray I was picture perfect, but just simply be picture perfect. I know what started this obsession and I know that I encouraged this obsession. I made a 4.0 GPA, got a job with good benefits, made good money to indulge, and the best company. For a while I became everything I had always prayed for and was happy. I had finally reached that point of accomplishment and my vision of success. I was really happy, I really was, but it didn’t satisfy obsession. It wasn’t enough that I was successful, but now that others failed. I hated how long I pretended to care and fake support people I didn’t give a shit about as long as I was still the best. I really hate how my success wasn’t what I thought it would be. I hated how strange and dishonest I had become with myself. It just hated seeing pictures of myself smiling and knowing how unhappy I was, but I wanted to prove I was perfect, better than you, more successful.

I wasn’t a liar, but felt like one. This was a part of me I didn’t always know or show, but regardless a part of me. These movements and thoughts of mine were strange. I was unfamiliar in this body. I didn’t know if I could be true and keep my rules again. I had labelled myself as this and tried so hard to prove it, but fell short and got mad at anyone who tried to prove me wrong. During this time, I found myself identifying more with a closeted Republican who exclaimed support for conversion therapy. My life wasn’t matching with my perfection anymore. I felt like this was my broken mirror piece stabbed in my side.

I didn’t find God or anything, but I quit my job. I was depressed and very anxious. It got to a point where it was causing physical pain. So I quit my job. On my last day, I was kind of happy to know that my coworkers enjoyed my presence and companionship. They got me a cookie cake and bid me farewell with another gift. They brought me two baby chicks and I was shocked. Regardless of everything that told me not to take them, I took them home and have cared for them. I wanted to give them up many times, but I think it’s best to give a depressed person something to do. I wake up and give them food and water and talk to them a bit. It keeps me busy.

After I quit, I really just spent time at home, with my mom and caring for my chickens. I wasn’t in school and didn’t have anything else to do. I spent a lot of time with my chickens. I didn’t know a lot about chickens and I had never raised them. They’re funny little birds. I kind of went off the grid like how I always wanted to. I spent more time with my chicks and tried to keep myself busy. I’m taking this time for myself.

Part of me wants to end this on how I healed and grew up from being obsessed and unhappy, then part of me wants to end it about how social media makes you less social and connected so I could give some “thought provoking insight” that makes me more intellect and emotionally developed, but what a phony ending. I would honestly write more about my chickens and my new life as a chicken mom.

But in the end, I still admire that girl on Facebook for keeping it real. From getting a new job to fighting with her baby daddy, she keeps me grounded by reminding me how life is messy and how out of touch I was with this obsession of perfection. I realize everyone has their own path, own little happy, own idea of success. It’s yours, entirely yours, own it. Editing is easy, life is hard.

I could edit this post a hundred different times to make it look easy, some I overcame story, or milk & honey, but this post is the first time I’ve been real.

This is how I feel, what I think, and what I’m up to; my voice.

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the question

I think anyone who is a person of color has been asked this question. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s how white people ask the question that’s pretty noteworthy of the cringe and awkwardness in asking. There are many different ways they ask, much like the many different flavors of white there actually is. Some of my favorite over the years include:

‘What are you?’

‘So where are you from? Like really from?’

‘What is your origin or your parents?’

If you haven’t figured it out, this question is about race, more specifically ethnicity of the more colored skin toned people. I understand how people are curious, but there needs to be a better way of asking about someone’s ethnicity. It’s so awkward to put into words awkward to hear someone try to ask in a way that won’t offend the person of color. I don’t think it’s such a touchy subject to ask about someone’s ethnicity or race or culture since people are curious, but the wording some people choose to use kill me.

‘Like where are you really from?’

I’m from a small town in North Carolina, even more specifically I came from the womb. I didn’t come from anywhere else or anyplace else for my birth certificate says so. But I get what the person is asking, ‘Where is your culture/heritage from?’ Now, with that question, I would give the answer they wanted and say I’m Filipino and Chinese. To ask where I’m really from would imply that my loyalty remains with this distant, probably romanticized country you’re thinking off than where I’m actually from and demean my status and kind of citizenship of the current country I am from and probably know better because I grew up here. And I’m sure anyone who carries another race in front of the American status – like mine would be Asian American – is just as much American as Abraham Lincoln is and as American as the immigrant who came to here for a better life.

‘Where are your parents from?’

I thought it was funny to be asked this question. To nicely ask my ethnicity by asking about my parents, it’s not that awkward, but it’s a different way of asking. I thought it was a great way of asking about my heritage, but once it goes back to again distant generations I wouldn’t know off it goes back to this romanticized period of my culture than the present and actual culture of my people with asking me instead of past generations. Not only is it going back to this archaic culture that seems out of touch with the current generation, it’s also degrading for your knowledge of who you are to be dismissed and ask more of your parent’s status than an actual acknowledgment of who they are.

‘You don’t look like -insert race-, so what mix are you?’

I’m a mix of mischief, wit, sleep deprivation, and vodka. Because I do not fit your perceived image of a certain race does not mean I am any less of my race and ethnicity. So this brings up this great declaration, not all Asians look alike very much like how all black people do not look alike or how all Hispanics look alike. This generalizes who we are to a limited understanding and perception of culture than the actual diversity and complexity and richness of these marginalized cultures, races, ethnicities. With this generalization of how we should look like, it also infers how you think we act and ought to be than the reality of us as people than this clump of misinformation. Let my Asian self be Asian and nothing less just because I do not share squinty eyes like how you think all Asians share.

This also does not mean I am different ingredients of ethnicities, but rather a hodgepodge. I never understood people were able to describe themselves as 1/8 Cherokee, 1/8 German, 1/4 Irish, and 1/2 French. How are they so precise that you can make a cake out of your race ingredients? I’ve always answered this question as Filipino-Chinese, but never 50/50 because my ethnicity blended into part of my mother’s family being mostly Filipino then marrying Chinese and my father’s side being Chinese, but growing up in the Philippines – this isn’t some teaspoon of Chinese mixed with a cup of Filipino, but it’s a blend that’s not well defined.

Honestly, just ask the question ‘What is your ethnicity?’ This is not offensive and it’s not awkward to put into what you really want to ask and awkward to realize this is the question about to be asked or how you ask the question. Different ethnicities and cultures should be talked about and embraced rather than discouraged, further marginalized, and appropriated because of this ignorance. We’ve become so culturally sensitive towards acknowledging and wanting to learn about others, that we’ve become culturally ignorant. Don’t understand why Asian Americans get mad when you joke about cats and dogs being their food? Don’t understand why African Americans get mad when you wear cornrows or use their slang? Don’t understand why Latino Americans get mad when you dress up in a sombrero and poncho for Halloween? Don’t understand why Native Americans get mad when you wear headdresses and moccasins for fashion? Ask and learn why, ask and learn about their culture, ask and learn to be better aware of ethnicity and the differences in how they live versus yours and how beautiful and meaningful their traditions are just like yours are. People aren’t any more sensitive or can’t take a joke when it comes to their culture or ethnicity because it is something that defines them, they’re most likely pissed that this is the version of their culture/ethnicity that is socially accepted and that who they are is so much more.

So what is your ethnicity? Learn from us. Learn our religion, food, heritage, celebrations, why something holds value to us when you perceive it as something trivial. When we talk, share, educate ourselves, we understand these issues and become richer with this shared culture and knowledge.

 

straight & fast

I remember yesterday, I ran a red light going at least 60 mph past it. Before this incident, I had just passed another intersection that was green and thought to myself, “I wonder if I’ll run a red light the next time just because.” As I approached the next lights, I just wasn’t thinking. I was heading towards it green, then it turned yellow, and then it turned red. I didn’t break until I had just made it to the white line and was already too far out to back up or stop, so I just ran it. I don’t know why I did it, but I wasn’t thinking a single thing.

A couple minutes later, the recent event just dawned on me. I could’ve died and I just ran a red light ironically thinking to myself before it happened. The thought didn’t trouble me at all. I only turned whatever crappy radio music up and drove one handed while resting my arm against the window and my hand touching my head. It didn’t scare me how reckless I was but only made me mad. I could’ve died, but it didn’t scare me.

Further driving down the road, it made me think of my one of my favorite novels. In Looking for Alaska by John Green, Alaska drives headfirst into a truck, instantly killing herself. Her group of friends tries to figure out if it was a suicide or accident. They have all these theories that it was an accident because she was drunk and that she was so buzzed that she couldn’t see anything and then that it was a suicide because she was hysterical and emotional before she went to drive, and she saw the car accident as a way out of whatever she was feeling. I fully think that it wasn’t a suicide or an accident, but the same thing I experienced.

She wasn’t thinking and it just happened. There’s no mystery to it, but some things just happen and we can’t take them back or redo them. They happen and we just let it happen and accept it. It isn’t easy, but it’s inevitable and happens. These things happen straight and fast. There’s no explanation to why and no way to stop it because you blink and it’s over.

Don’t read me wrong, I’m not suicidal or a risky driver. I don’t want to die and enjoy my life very much because I have made it the best it could be and making it even better. I drive cautiously and am aware of what I am doing and considerate of others, making sure everyone goes home safe. This red light just made me think of life itself and finally understanding my favorite novel.

Sometimes you are so in the moment, and things happen. They’re good or they’re bad and you might not understand why except that it happened and they happen so fast that nothing else could’ve prevented the event. An explanation isn’t always necessary and once it’s done, the only thing we can do is accept it, forgive, and keep moving. I think that’s the beauty of life, it doesn’t always need a reason, it just has to happen to make it worthwhile.

Transition

I’m at an interesting crosspoint in my life. I’ve experienced a lot in my years, but haven’t done enough. I’m working towards a goal, but have had many successes. I’m educated but haven’t learned enough.

Before I tell you anything else in this post, I’m happy, I can even say joyous in myself. I’m happy in how I feel about myself and what I’ve accomplished. I’m happy in what I can do and what more I could do. I have brought myself joy and went through a great change to better myself and situation.

However, I’m still working towards something more. I’m not satisfied with where I am and what I’m doing. I don’t want to settle for anything less, but to make the most of who I am, what I can do, and where I am. I’m in this crosspoint where I’m young but also old. Where I am uncertain, but also determined. Where I’m frustrated, but at peace. Where I’m lost, but also on a path.

I graduated from high school a couple months ago and was honestly sick. I was tense and tried to hold onto temporary things. I was so mad that I broke things, even myself. I remember my English teacher pulling me aside and telling me that he noticed that I had become so thin. Of course, the first reaction was to lie, but that’s what I had done that whole year, lie about how I felt and who I was. Most people were not going to be honest, but I was sick and tired. I told him how I was feeling now and the reasons why I had lost weight. Only now do I realize how toxic high school is from the words and emotions that had weighed me down most of that year.

I wasn’t happy at that point and thought the world was and had conspired against me to be miserable. I was sick of my life and everything in it and wanted to begin again. I wanted the last three months prior to graduation to have never happened. I never wanted to see that damn high school again or the people. I wanted to move on and never look back. I was so sick of it.

Yet, I still held onto meaningless relationships, memories, and places. I was working retrospectively to a time where I was happy. That’s the thing about nostalgia; it tricks into thinking times were better than they actually are. Sure I have happy memories, but they were only happy because it was good then, but they wouldn’t still be happy if I had lived them over and over again. Change happens. Happy then isn’t happy now.

Life isn’t stagnant, it changes and we can choose to change with it or be defeated by it. I picked change. And I don’t look back. I keep in contact with a few people, and that’s good enough. I work towards my accomplishments and give no one else blame or credit but myself. I explore something new every day instead of keeping a routine. I’m doing things, I am changing every day.

The place I’m at isn’t ideal in any way. What I’m currently doing at this place isn’t great in any way either. I’m working towards a purpose, but I’m asking myself if this college degree will get me this idea of success and happiness most people connotate with it. It’s work and I’m physically exhausted in trying to do that work, but that’s not the thing asking me if I should quit, but it’s what do I really want in life? College, career, marriage, family, retirement, nostalgia, the afterlife. Well anyone can accomplish that. It’s orthodox, it’s expected. I want experiences. I want adventure. I want the unexpected. I want to travel the world and learn lessons elsewhere from the classroom. I want to eat foods I can’t pronounce. I want to meet people I would’ve never thought to live in such a way. I want to sit still and look up at a clear sky with the stars and open sky. I’m passionate about many things and curious about everything else. I don’t want to be tied down to societal expectations or by anything. I want to be free. I want to be in the moment.

This isn’t about finding myself, but this is about living. I don’t want to follow a path, I want to make my own path. I want to be myself in a world moving around me.

Most importantly I’ve realized I never want to settle, but be satisfied.