Very recently, I’ve been struck with an unsolvable dilemma. I’m sure that to the layman, this may seem trifling, but right now, it’s taking up every single part of my brain, and whether said brain explodes (or implodes) is just a matter of time.
Remember the boy I talked about in my last post? That’s the cause of this illogical preoccupation. I simply CAN’T stop thinking about him, and it’s probably I have some unresolved feelings or something. (Insert teen rom-com female lead flipping hair here.)
But back to my point. I’m aware that I’m not making a conscious decision to think about said boy, and that I only have my hormones to blame, but whatever it is, I don’t like it. It’s leaving me flustered and bothered. I do not like being flustered and bothered.
But I think the thing that’s bothering me more than this *infatuation* is the fact that I am so helpless against it. (Like, I could be on Facebook, and his chat icon could pop up, and I would start hyperventilating.) I have no choice in who I like(because let’s face it, this boy is neither particularly charming nor handsome), just as I have no power when it comes to the college acceptance process. I can feel my frustration from the latter reflecting on the former.
The root of this frustration is the fact that I’ve done everything I possibly could have done to ensure my success. (I’m talking about colleges. Unless you count silently brooding in the corner to be an active pursuit of a crush.) I’ve done my extracurriculars, I’ve written (and rewritten) my personal statements, and I’ve kept my grades at an acceptable level. I’ve labored day and night over my internship, my clubs, and my work, and to what avail? I could still be rejected by each and every school I apply to. I could still end up in a community college.
Anywho. Just in case anyone was wondering what it feels like to turn in college apps and await a response.
Okay, just so I don’t end this on a totally depressing note, I happen to sit right behind the boy in one of my classes, and I’m so thankful, because I would have never had the guts to ask him for a piece of paper otherwise.
And that leads us back to the role of faith and fate in all things that life offers, from adolescence-induced quickenings of the heart to impending college acceptances (hopefully).
Sorry if this post was a bit chaotic to read. I do think it accurately represents the state of my mental health at the moment. But for anyone who’s reading this right now, and as I’ve said in one of my previous posts, this too shall pass. And it’s moments like these that make life colorful.
So a couple of months back, I wrote a piece about going to prom without a date. I know, a novel concept, right? But being the angsty teen that I was, I wrote AN ENTIRE ESSAY ON IT, because apparently I thought that it was worth my time.
Knock yourself out.
February 16th, 2015
I had been harboring a secret crush on this one guy in my English class for about three months now (or seventeen, but let’s not make this any more embarrassing than it has to be, okay?). It was a strange experience, with me trying my hardest not to look at him, sneaking glances only when the teacher was standing in that general direction.
Sometimes, I felt him staring back.
But maybe that’s just my ego talking, trying not to be more wounded than it has to be.
Anyway, with prom season just around the corner, I thought that I would push my pride and my reservations aside and just ask him to prom. When I went home that night, I told myself to imagine my head resting on his chest during the first slow dance, feeling his heartbeat against my cheek, and finally hardened my resolve, deciding to grit my teeth and just ask him the next day.
No, I was just kidding. I might or might not have just finished another ridiculous romance novel. I did think about how nice it would be to have him as a date though. The only difference in these two scenarios was what I actually chose to do about it.
In other words, nothing. I chose to do nothing. Maybe I tried for eye contact a teeny bit more the next day, but nothing drastic (or, as normal people would call it, nothing effective.)
I kept up this routine for about two weeks, hoping that somehow he would pick up on my signals, telepathically or in some other obscure way. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
Perhaps I had been foolish in my endeavors to get a prom date. Perhaps I’m just too awkward, or weird, for anyone to possibly want to take me to prom.
Well, today, I found out that it didn’t matter either way, because he had already asked a girl to prom. A girl on the swim team, like he was. A girl that was athletic, like he was. A girl that was normal, like I’ll never be.
And in that moment, it felt like my heart had turned to stone and then dropped into my stomach. Right then, when all of my classmates were chatting and gossiping about their respective, prospective prom dates, I felt empty. Cold. Desperate.
As I’m typing this, those emotions were awfully out-of-proportion. I mean, he’s not my boyfriend, and I, for my part, did not make a move while I still had the chance. I’m sure I’ll regret my cowardice in a few decades. In fact, I’m regretting it now. But, after all, it is just a crush.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt. In that moment, all I could think about was how some people have died from a broken heart, and how even though I have never experienced true heartbreak, this must be pretty darn close.
But as the saying goes, I’ve made my bed, and now I must lie in it.
But it remains that I can do something about my predicament. I can’t change my current state of datelessness, but I can change my state of mind. Besides, who decided that prom must be an occasion for heartache and drama, anyway?
I have friends that would go with me, dance with me, and eat In-and-Out with me. I could laugh without ever being afraid of embarrassing myself. I could be myself, on possibly the most important night of my high school career.
Most importantly, now, I’m going, now, for my enjoyment, because I want to live vibrantly.
I’ve learned two things about life from this painful experience. First, that I must carpe diem if I want something bad enough. Second, if I don’t, the alternative might not be so bad after all.
You never know, something that seems dreadful now might turn out to be the best life experience. And also, it’s his loss, because I would have been the most interesting prom date in the history of prom dates.
Update: I ended up taking one of my friends from middle school there, mostly because he wanted to go to a stereotypical prom. (His prom costs $15 and is complete with a marvelous playlist of obscure rap music, all played in the basement of the basement of the school.) It was great.
It’s the 12th(?) day of summer, and I’ve never been so completely at peace, not because I’m embarking on some new weird hippie spiritual journey, but because
MY LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH COMPUTER SCIENCE HAS COME TO AN END. At last.
It’s been a struggle. But I made it.
And it wasn’t that bad, upon reflection. Was there severe hair loss over the year? More severe than I want to say. Were there sleepless nights? More than I could count. Were there mental breakdowns? Ask my friends, if they’re still here, given my unreliable and unstable emotional state. But would I do it over again?
Without a doubt. Because it’s taught me how to be strong, persistent, and humble. It showed me that intelligence means jacksquat without hard work, that there are always going to be people in this world who are going to be smarter than you, and that’s okay. That with tenacity, your frustration will eventually translate into nothing other than success.
And the relief that comes with finishing the year? It’s indescribable. I feel so free, so unrestrained, an iceberg finally reunited with the river. I can breathe again.
Love is in the air, guys. I can practically smell it. With prom just around the corner, more and more couples are displaying (perhaps, a little too affectionately) their “like” for each other.
I don’t blame them. I would do it too.
If I could. And it’s probably my fault, because of my excessive gaping at that one particular German soccer player while I’m at track practice.
But it’s no biggie, because this year, I’m spending this very romantic evening with…
No, I’m not kidding.
No, I don’t do this every year. But then again, I might be lying to you.
Here are 5 reasons why I’m celebrating the most romantic evening of the year with my G-dawg:
She’s worked her hands to the bone for most of her life. My grandma didn’t come from money. (Neither do I, for that matter.) She began to work as a child, helping my great-grandma with the family’s street vending cart and doing most of the chores. Now that she’s nearing retirement, she might want to spend some time with one of her grandchildren.
My gramps is not particularly romantic. My grandma followed her heart when she married my grandfather at the young age of 19. He was a poor boy, but boy, did he have charm. (His name is, incidentally, Charm. Haha? Haha. No? Okay.) His looks didn’t hurt either. But with time, he became more and more reticent, and now he prefers to spend Valentine’s (and every other day) planted in front of the TV, debating politics with people who could not hear him speak.
She was my first valentine. Even after a long day of grueling housekeeping work, she would still come home and, at my request, paint my nails and scratch my back. After which she would cook dinner for our large family. She would always retire to her bedroom early, in preparation for her early shift, but she always had time to listen about my day at school. She had been the one to comfort me when none of the boys would come near me once I had been diagnosed with an unfortunate case of the cooties.
She taught me how to feel pretty. When I was younger, my grandma would shop with me, with her hard-earned money. She taught me that I could wear whatever I felt comfortable in, because that was what made me the most confident. (This teaching created a strange fashion sense in me later on, because I would wear nothing but dresses, and my mom would insist that I wear pants, and since both of us are stubborn people, I would end up wearing both a dress and a pair of baggy pants. I know, it’s the epitome of fashion.)
She emphasized the value of education. Everyday after work, my grandma would sit on the couch, sigh, and tell me that an education is the single most important thing I could possess, that nobody could ever take it away from me, that it is the one thing preventing me from doing the work that she has to do. Every time I want to break down and cry about my classes(cf my post about computer science), I remember what she said. And then I suck it up.
So this year, I’m spending Valentine’s Day with you, Grandma. We’ll put on those sheet masks that were on sale, eat my healthy version of banana ice cream(though I know you don’t like it), and watch movies from your era.
I guess I didn’t have to look around for love after all.
Sorry. I’ve been studying for finals, which are this week, by the way.
Nope, that’s a lie. I couldn’t even type it without giggling.
I’ve really been watching The Mindy Project. Yup, you’ve caught me. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that this year, but it is really so addicting. And Danny Castellano is really cute….
BUT let’s not dwell on that. Here are some positive changes I’ve made (and stuck to for 22 days, apparently) for 2015:
I’ve started exercising. Not that I wasn’t exercising before, but I now have different reasons for exercising. Instead of punishing myself and forcing myself to run faster and farther just to burn off and justify that pizza I ate, I’m now exercising because I love my body, and I want to take care of it. After all, I only get one, right?
I’ve started being nicer to people. It started with small things, like saying thank you to the bus driver who drives the same route every day. Anything that brightens people’s days, even just a little bit, I’ll try to do it.
I’m spending more time with my family. Instead of locking myself in my room when my relatives come over, I’m socializing with them, because I won’t get to see them often anymore when I go off to college. Yes, I even talk to that one weird aunt with 20 million cats.
I’m taking control of my academics. Junior year is about as tough as your mother’s meatloaf experiment. I’m actively studying now, because college is just so near, and I can’t afford to mess up now. My fingers are crossed here. Not that that’d do me any good in the studying department.
I’m appreciating my friends. All of them. Because there was a time, right when I entered high school when I had none, and it was the most miserable time of my life. I may or may not have eaten lunch in the bathroom, which is neither healthy nor sanitary. I’m grateful for them, especially now, because I think I’ve forgotten what it felt like to be without them.
I don’t think I’m quite done with this list yet, but I really do have to watch the… uh, study for finals. One more day to go!
I’ll admit it. I used to be a straight-A student. From the moment my education started, I had excelled, seemingly effortlessly. Material just stuck to my brain, and tests were a breeze. I had never thought about what would happen if my streak of luck was… broken.
Well, this year, I found out. I signed up for AP Computer Science, not knowing what the course was about, not knowing anything about the computer itself. (Aside from the internet, of course. But does that really count?)
It was the biggest and best mistake of my life.
It was a mistake because I should have done some self-studying before the semester began. I went into the classroom on the first day of school, clueless and foolish. The teacher (let’s call him Paint) did the usual introductions, but he did what no teacher had ever done before: he assigned homework.
Of course, looking back now, it was ridiculously simple, but in that moment, it was absolutely terrifying. I went home and tried to follow the assignment(coding), with no luck. I was lost.
There was nothing to it. I just didn’t know how to do it. I was used to specific instructions and hands-on teaching, but Paint ran a self-taught classroom, which is difficult to work with when there is no foundation to build upon. The panic rose in me as the hours ticked by; I still hadn’t figured out how to do the homework. Eventually, I emailed Paint, explaining to him that I didn’t know how to do it, that I was confused, that I was desperate for help.
The reply was both unhelpful and condescending. Paint used a plethora of computer lingo I was unfamiliar with, all while implying that this work was not, at all, challenging. I refused to email him for help after that.
It was hopeless. It was frustrating. It was downright infuriating. I might or might not have cried over this assignment.
This feeling didn’t stop over the weeks. I would watch Paint as he talked in class, addressing everybody but me, occasionally calling on me for an answer to a homework question and then calling me out for not speaking loudly enough, for not having enough confidence in my answer.
It feels similar to marching in the front lines with no means of protection.
I watched as my grade fell from an A- to a B+, from a B to a C. I had no control over it, and all I could do was watch as it slipped from my fingers. I studied for hours after hours, asked for help from an Oracle director, and dry-sobbed into my pillow, to no avail. It wasn’t coming back. It’ll never come back, I cried.
Everything I did was tainted by this thought.
I would watch television with my parents, and when the commercials came on, I nearly cried.
Expand your small business with this credit card, it said.
How can I ever be successful enough to have a small business with my grades? I moaned.
Find love with our new dating website, another commercial proclaimed.
How can anyone possibly love a dumb idiot like me? I grumbled.
It sent me into a mini-depression, to be honest; it took quite a toll on my self esteem. I would look at the food on my plate, and doubt that I deserved it. I would look at my parents and imagine their disappointment at raising such a disgrace to the family.
This self-pity lasted for around a month before I snapped out of it.
My uncle came over for dinner one day, while I was reeking of sorrow. He had heard of my dilemma, and he thought that he had the solution to my problems, in the form of a story. (Don’t our lives just revolve around stories?) He told me the story of his college acceptance.
My uncle had been an average student, maintaining a 3.5 weighted GPA throughout his high school years. He was the president of a club that he founded, and he had an addiction to video-games. It was all fine and dandy until it was time for the colleges to send out their letters of acceptance.
He was merrily wandering in the world of Final Fantasy when he heard a shriek from the kitchen. It was his mom, with a letter in her hand and a look of horror on her face. He leaped across the living room and snatched the paper.
It was a rejection letter from UC Davis; he was still waiting for the letter from Berkeley, but at this point, what were the chances? He turned off the TV and sulked, just as I was doing, for a week, until a letter from Berkeley came.
It was a letter of acceptance.
And he told me that if he could do it, so could I.
Why was this a good mistake, of all things?
It helped me separate my self-worth from my grades. I do not need a sparkling transcript for a bright future. Taking a look at the person I respect most(aside from obvious authoritative figures in my life, of course…(?)), Mariah Carey seems to have done pretty well for a consistently truant student.
Expecting to succeed will only lead to false hope. For success, there must be dedication and passion. And I’ve decided that I won’t let this little B distract me from my real passion: writing. In fact, I’m glad that I’ve encountered this little bump in my education;I don’t think I’ve ever tried so hard for something in my life.
In the grand scheme of things, this hardship isn’t even a hardship. It’s just a pebble that contributes to the stone-paved road of life.
If all else fails, I’ll just remind myself that this too shall pass.
I used to call myself an aspiring writer, but then I realized how strange that was. I am a writer, I think, because I write. I constantly put things that exist only in my mind down onto something tangible. But what does that make me? Am I just going to be stuck here in this realm that lacks classification?
I dig deeper into this ol’ noggin and think about what I’m really trying to do. I know that I write, but what is my long term goal?
An image of Danielle Steel and J.K. Rowling pops into my mind, and all doubt of what I want to be disappears.
I want to be a novelist.
It’s terrifying, to myself and my family, when I voiced this ambition aloud.
“But don’t you want to have a steady income? Insurance? A roof over your head at night?” My uncle asks, not impolitely.
“I’m not paying for your college tuition if you have no way of paying me back,” my dear old grandpa grumbles.
“I’ll leave the guest room empty, so you can move back in after college,” my mother says.
It doesn’t hurt that much now, and I understand where they are all coming from, but is all this negativity really necessary?
It turns out, they were right.
Writing a novel is hard. Let me break it down for you:
Step 1: You must have a strong idea.
Trying to write a novel without any idea about what you are doing is essentially treading water. You’re moving, and your energy is efficiently decreasing, but you’re going nowhere. It’s useless. It’s a waste of time. Don’t do it.
Step 2: Writing the actual novel.
Have an outline of how your plot is going to go. Create characters. Paint the scenery. The best part of writing a novel is the actual writing of the novel. Enjoy this while it lasts, folks.
Step 2.0: Forcing yourself to write.
I know, I know. You don’t have the time to write. You have three clubs to handle, on top of an internship, on top of your schoolwork. Add writing onto that pile, and you might just lose it. The trick is to think of writing as your time to unwind. While others may relax at the spa, there is nothing like the sound of my fingers drumming against the keyboard, creating actual things out of what was previously nothing.
Step 2.1: Set yourself a minimum.
Tell yourself that you must write at least 2 pages a day. Give yourself a punishment if you don’t meet your quota. The idea of physical activity when physical activity is not required is absolutely abhorrent to me, and it usually does the trick.
Start with the first sentence and the last sentence of what you’re going to write, so you know when to stop and how to guide your story gently through its developmental stages.
Step 3: Bam! You’re done.
Not quite. You may have written something that resembles a novel, but it is not quite a novel yet.
It’s like trying to chisel a human face while you’re wearing a blindfold. It’s not going to be pretty. And it’s not, like most first drafts in the history of mankind.
Because, in this world, there is something called editing. It’s like the photoshop after the photoshoot. It makes everything all nice and neat, all tight and tucked in. It creates the illusion(or reality) of perfection, depending on how well you do it.
But it takes time. Boy, does it take time. I have spent about two months editing my novel and I am still nowhere near finished. I have taken about half of my original story out, some because it flowed too slowly, some because it was just awkward. Yes, you’re going to have to rewrite some(a lot) of it. But it’ll be worth it. I promise.
Step 4: Now am I done?
Nope. You now have this seemingly impeccable manuscript in front of you. But is it really?
That’s why there are beta readers, those who read your work after you(the alpha reader) has finished it. Find someone who is painfully truthful. It usually works better if they don’t lie about how much they love anything and everything you do. No, your grandma cannot be your beta reader.
Step 5: It has to be over now, right?
It is. The actual writing part of this process is over. But now you have a whole other obstacle to face: publishing.
Many publishers do not take unsolicited manuscripts, and it’s extremely difficult to get anything you’ve written(as a first time writer) published.
Try looking into smaller publishers. Or you could always self-publish.
So there it is, how to write a novel in 5(?) easy(?) steps. I wish you the best of luck, and don’t ever give up on your novel! There’s nothing as sad as an unfinished book and what could have been. Remember, in the wise words of Mariah Carey, “If you believe in yourself enough, and you pray to the Lord, you’re going to make it happen.”
School was cancelled today because of the “storm of the decade” that is supposedly hitting the Bay Area; I’m not seeing any of the damage, because I’m staying home all day, but my prayers are with those who must leave the safety of their homes and troop out into the storm.
However, with this extra day, I do have quite a bit of spare time on my hands. (I know, exciting.)
So I did what I would do everyday if I had the time: I meditated.
Meditation is a strange concept. From an outsider’s point of view, it just seems like an awful waste of time, sitting there and not doing anything, by society’s standards, productive.
However, meditation is the about the farthest thing from unproductive. By meditating, I am strengthening my mind and my faith, just as some would strengthen their bodies. I am becoming close to the earth, and the earth becomes a part of me. I am light, I am free, because all things that are seemingly threatening or stressful, are actually insignificant.
I make my way to the backyard, plant myself next to one of the trees, close my eyes, and concentrate on one thought: If God will take care of the birds, he will also take care of me. I use every ounce of my will and try to believe it, and when I do, it sets me free. The rain drips down my cheeks and soaks through my clothes, but it does not cause me discomfort.
It cleanses me. This, I remind myself, is the same water that has nourished and fueled life since the beginning of time. I have been granted a small fraction of the time man has been allowed to live, and I must reap all that it offers. All of my fears wash away with the rain, and I rededicate myself to embodying that very mantra.
Somewhere along this process, I become whole again.