What It’s Like To “Adult” on Short Notice

Two things that happened last month has fast-forwarded my life at an exponential rate.

In a blink of an eye, here I am, a 20-something adult who just witnessed my first friend get married, and started my first full-time internship in SF Financial District.

Real shit in life slapped me in the face – marriage is now a thing in my age range and right beside me, the urgent need to follow a grandma schedule so that I can wake up for my 9 am, the thought of how I want my future to look like and whether my abilities match up.

All of which, if I’m honest, has caught me off guard. I’m still unready (and yes, too lazy) to ACTUALLY “grow up”.

 

However,

As I fumbled through my first two weeks of internship, I’ve found that adulting was not just what I’d always envisioned it to be – exempting from homework and exams, or holding responsibilities that more experienced adults cling onto.

Essentially, it is about the process of becoming.

You do the “adulty” things to feel, pull through, and eventually pass into the state where what you have to do is what you do.

 

And in the process of adulting…


I: Bonding With the Right People Is Key. 

Interning at a non-profit has definitely taught me the hard way.

What we do? We host events to raise awareness for partnered charities. We bring those who can help to those who need help. To be more specific, it involves high levels of face-to-face communication, creative brainstorm, and team spirits on the daily basis.

In a setting where I have to constantly meet clients and make them believe what I believe, I’ve come to recognize similar characteristics that dwelled in those who reciprocated in the conversations, and expressed concerns in the matter.

Regardless of their final decisions, they showed respect, demonstrated proper demeanors, and responded with a dose of compassion.

They behaved this way NOT because this was all they knew. But they saw their own full spectrum of capabilities, and decide on it.

 

It’s vital to differentiate the right people.

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Translation:

“The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life, and make you see the sun where you once saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, you start to believe in you too. The people that love you, simply for being you. The once in a lifetime kind of people.”

“I’m so lucky to have you two (´༎ຶོρ༎ຶོ`)

 

I’m not naturally a people person. I’d go out of my way to ignore someone I know in the street when I’m not in the mood for a conversation. Sometimes I’m extremely socially conscious but also fiercely individualistic – wanting to fit in a group but never compromising my personality to do so. And ALWAYS having the tug-of-war between “YES, I WANT TO GO OUT” and “nah, grandma needs to rest.”

But when it comes to the right people, I’d want to, and feel the need to invest in them.

I still do things on my own terms. But I’ve come to minimize excruciating small talks. Divert the effort to people who I know would appreciate and reciprocate. Listen to and learn about their stories. And be vulnerable enough to share some of mine.

It is then I learn that as soon as I begin to pay ACTUAL attention to the right people, foster meaningful and consistently loving relationships with them,

They will respond in the exact same way and take matters into their own hands. It’s Law of Attraction 101… Duh.

 


II: There Will Be A Lot of Rejections.

To be frank, out of the countless pitches we delivered, the percentage of funders we converted was not too high (but close to average, though).

And as an intern, I am the first point of contact for potential clients, and inevitably, receive rejections firsthand.

“I’m on the clock.”

“I’m in a big hurry.”

“No thanks.”

By taking in all the rejections littering almost every conversation, I was reminded of the convenient elements in formulating an excuse – time, incompatibility, etc.

They exist in different forms in a relationship.

“I’m not ready.”

“Let’s take it slow.”

*No response*

Human beings, especially myself, have developed a high capability to deaden feelings, and a tendency to lose one another.

We owe this skill to our mastery of empirical rejections – the power that comes from numerous trails of deciphering messages (three-letter responses, disappearing for hours, for example) and acting on that knowledge to normalize and absorb the same behaviors (keep it short, make him wait).

We reject the rejections anticipating a comeback. We play the same rules the other person set. Basically, we let other people dictate our actions.

 

I’m an avid believer in magnetism, the power of human aura, and its ability in influencing the things and the people around.

When facing negative energy, a skilled empath would acknowledge it, know how to discharge and deflect it, but MOST people would unknowingly absorb it.

And I was one of them.

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My friend was right. I was like a robot. I was programmed to embrace the concept of give and take, only willing to put in as much effort as I received. All the toxic energy so caught up with me that even when something good happened, I questioned if they’d be better off without me.

I expected the worst, so I refused to be forward.

I hated feeling void, so I’d rather not have it at all.

 

But alas,

All the rejections thrown at me at work brought me face to face with the lost pieces of me – my ability to crush objections. Instead of feeling defeated, I could be an initiator myself, a source of positivity and vitality for others.

I’ve come to be wiser and more patient. I stopped letting the negativity. Or the “texting rules.” Or the fear of getting rejections deter me from trying.

Try, anyway.

Continue to love and long and lust for the pleasures of life. In every single way there is to express to and experience the people around.

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Be sweet. Be caring.

 

“But what if it doesn’t work? how do I get better?”

Annalee set down her crossword. “You should say good-bye.”

“It’s too late. He’s gone.”

“Sometimes it helps to say it anyway.”

“Can you tell me … Did he ever feel the way I did?”

“Ah, baby.” Annalee tapped her pen gently on Gracie’s hand. “Some of us wear our hearts. Some of us carry them.

 

– Stephanie Perkins, “Head, Scales, Tongue, Tai”

 


III: What You Do Makes YOU Who You Are.

As you might have guessed, working for a non-profit wasn’t my first choice.

Right, my internship decision has gotten me some slightly shocked looks at social gatherings, “that must be, umm, rewarding?” folks would say, sneaking a glance at my scuffed shoes.

It’s strange how oftentimes there is a negative connotation associated with the name “non-profit.” The public perception would link it with lower pay, fewer resources.

As real as it gets, my two weeks of experience told me the otherwise.

In this short amount of time, I met some of the most inspiring team leaders in my life. They had high stamina, tactical communication skills, and were willing to teach. And also a group of charismatic interns who came from varied accredited universities and owned big hearts.

Despite of the name “non-profit,” I was surrounded with individuals who motivated me, challenged me to be better, and I aspired to become one day.

 

I was at war with myself: do we choose our jobs based on what we expect to gain or who we hope to become?

I think the truth is that life is going to place you into many, many uncomfortable positions. And sometimes we don’t really get to choose. But if it matters to you, cultivate it.

Here’s the rub: it has to matter to you.

Dig it. Work on it. It’ll all add to your characters writ large.

Be kind. Be good.

My internship decision might not sound as cool as other corporations,

But I see myself in it.

Because at the end of the day, this is the type of person I hope to become.

 


IV: Be Patient, It DOESN’T Happen Over Night.

Conventional wisdom is that it takes 21 days to form a new habit,

And anywhere from 18 to 254 for a lifestyle change to feel automatic.

Since what we’re talking about here can mean making a fundamental change to the coding of our operation system,

Depending on your levels of commitment I’d go right ahead and triple that.

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I think that’s like it all about.

Learn something you always wanted to, learn something you hate so much,

But you’re never too good at anything.

 

With all love,

A gloomy optimist

 

 

 

12 Lessons I Learned as a 21

There’s something therapeutic about train rides.

The constantly onward progression offers restless panorama moving backward. With the passing of view, I’m able to reminisce about the elapsing of time, on its own steady pace.

I once was a girl filled with wanderlust. This girl, this past me, would boldly trek through valleys of euphoria and trudge up mountains of sorrow, is but an old acquaintance.

Four years ago, I arrived on the American soil, with no expectation of what reality would throw my life into.

I took in, and took in so much, to the extent where the spectrum of color was muddled, and the delicate boundary between toxicity and substantiality was blurred.

Four years later, I found myself on the island of the Great Britain, washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the North, yet differently, with concise values of education, lifestyle, and sociality.

I recognized things in colors. I was able to evaluate what I encountered from the perspective of what I had experienced.

Today, I sit in a room filled with emptiness, exhaustion, and eeriness. Yet I’m tired of once again attempting to build a rapport with a whole new world, expending emotional labor, luxuriously and incessantly.

 

2016 was such a year of trying. 

Trying to search, connect, and accept.   

And more specially, it was the year of me as a 21, being a 21.

To me, 21 is a noble number, as it takes away the excuse of baby-ing and grants the title of adult-ing. Though the society seems to assume a 21 with ever-widened knowledge of knowing how to adult, I, at heart, did not come to realization of certain things until I let myself.

Yes, 1. the most worthwhile moments are the ones that I let myself.

Yet, I’ve been too down to keep letting myself.

And you can’t really un-feel a sensation, or un-know something like heartbreak.


I had been loved, and I had loved.

I craved for intimacy.

I expected bilateral conversations day in, day out.

I verbalized my loving feelings.

I took initiative to make things happen.

 

Basically, I had zero chill.


But now, I have way too much chill.

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The same innocence and vulnerability that allowed me to love so hard have also doubled in intensity as lie, rejection, and loss entered my life.

I don’t want those feelings.

So I’ve built walls.

I’ve become suspicious of possibilities, and turned down opportunities.

My inability to feel let me down a rabbit hole. I’ve dug into the artifacts of my past relationships with families and friends.

As naïve as it seems, teenage impulse and young love’s purity is a fucking force of nature. The same way they generate conflicts and clashes, an unbroken heart is able to rebound and recover from the custom lessons of growing up, and is able to live and love without the burdensome knowledge of the darker side.

 

I’ve come to a realization that 2. friendships and relationships are built on needs. The relations are maintained because two parties feel valued. Imagine if you never have a reason to need them. It is when we humble ourselves to the fact that interdependency is essential that we uncover a true relationship. It’s okay to reach out.

3. If you believe that tears are the vibrant signs of vulnerability, think again. Being vulnerable means being honest with yourself, expressive of feelings, and open to who you trust. Tears are not vocal.

4. There’s no games of better and worse. It’s simply a matter of is or is no longer. If you don’t matter to certain people. It’s not about you. It’s simply the fact of irrelevancy. There are just some people you don’t click.

5. Take pride in your passion. It’s your identity. It’s what gives you comfort, and makes you you.

6. Spend time with fam. While your social circles expand as you grow older, you are still the world to your parents, who go through life with your best interests in mind. Learn to care about them the same way they do for you.

7. A period of sobriety helps you realize things. It is a period of rediscovering self-worth and balancing life options. You might realize people who you usually drunk call don’t hit you up with a sober reason either. As cliché as it sounds, to build a meaningful relationship, start with the one with yourself.

8. Traveling is fun, but there ain’t no place like home. The place you can be ugly in peace.

9. Little things ain’t little. The texts you send. The one more question you answer. The people you speak to. The kindness you spread to people. It all counts. And it all stacks up.

10. Yet, little things don’t always matter. “Don’t worry about the little things. Don’t spend energy on drama that you won’t care about in a year or two. Letting it bother you is already half the battle lost.”

11. Never underestimate a good education. Likewise, don’t take diversity and gender equality for granted. We live in a California bubble. And it is what we’ve done to get us where we are. Educate yourself. Stop saying things like “that’s so gay,” elevate your diction, question things.

12. One day you will look back, and know why it all had to happen. Not the best 12 lessons, but they are the ones I learned from the moments I let myself. Open to new possibilities, you might learn a thing or two.

 

Love,

A work in progress

 

 

How I learned to Embrace Feelings

I have a natural habit of rounding up reflections. Just because of something that I’ve experienced, reluctantly compromised to, and eventually embraced.

Feelings are luxuries. Human emotions are given at the cost of others and consumed by the pain of ourselves, or happiness, with luck.

As much as it sounds like I’m an extreme pessimist, I’m a firm believer in feelings, in soul mates, and in wearing heart on sleeves and following where it leads.

While I collect my past from romantic overindulgence, barren apathy, to destructive resentment, my sensitivity to feel and my capacity to reflect tend to go up as my emotions go down.

This has made me believe that feelings are organic, unstable, and impermanent. They are luxuries because they are fleeting.

Yet through the humility of holding onto something tighter than holding onto myself, I’ve become aware that there’s no better way to catch and relive my feelings than by writing down in words.

Out of my collection of feelings, I’ve experienced an abundance of new ones these past months. To be exact, they weren’t the ones that I could pleasantly take in and store them into the memory story. They were enigmatic, and sometimes helpless. They often compelled me to confront, and deal with them.

This enigma was seasoned with spice and sugar, the two that produced completely opposite flavors, yet gave me two of the most meaningful lessons in life.

 

Spice.

At the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I let myself possess by someone who saw me as a possession.

He had an athletic body and the most genuine smile. But what he gave me was more than just eye candy.

With witty humor, intuitive insight, and exceptional social skills, he surpassed me not only by years in maturity, but also in sophistication.

I guess that was also what got him so much attention, and made him a player who was careless, nonchalant, and had commitment issues when it came down to relationship.

When I came to identify the ways that he treated me as varied forms of disrespect and out of apathy, I still held on. I made the minimal good outweigh the vast amount of bad.

From a mutual connection morphed into a unilateral attachment, he showed me where the demons live. He brought out all the negativity in my body that I’m capable of.

But we were never together. In the competition between us, he won for caring less. But soon I realize there was no such thing as competition. The trophies-for-everyone rule doesn’t work for adulthood. There is no “if we want something, we get it.”

I’ve learned that sometimes, feelings are unreliable. They don’t guarantee a payback. Yet too often in life I bank too much on feelings, and expect the rest to come easy. It’s not enough.

Just as a tree grows from a seed, it must be supplemented with affection, dedication, transparency, trust, day in and day out dynamics of communication. They’re practices bringing out of feelings.

 

Sugar.

This year, I became closer to someone who embodied the ideas of caring, selflessness and persistence, which was a combination of a blessing and a curse.

It was a blessing because it was the kind of love I needed the most in the midst of the college fun and games. It was also a curse because I was blindfolded with my peter pan syndromes.

Women who came of age during Y2K were spoon-fed a solid version of what it means to be in love. Part of me still hung up to the value of ideal impression, common ground, and maybe the zsa zsa zsu -or butterflies.

For the first time in a very long time, I attempted to design a relationship top-down: “I don’t like this jacket in the photo.” “Why don’t you smile with teeth?”

That was such a fallacy. I was digging for love in a person, instead of a person I could love. So when something was perceived less than ideal, I dismissed the possibility as the “right” fit.

To him, I was never ready. To me, I came to realize that I also had commitment issues, which later identified as a go-to excuse for incompatibility. It was lack of chemistry, and the feeling of completeness.

He brought me back to the realistic basis of a relationship: pet peeves, imperfection, and dissatisfaction. When the flaws started to outshine the personality, and the criticism gradually dominated my psychological self, all I had left for him was appreciation, instead of affection.

I never said yes, and I have no regret in my decision. It’s not completely a loss, because I’ve learned that feelings cannot be forced to reciprocate, from a receiver perspective, which gives me a bigger picture in understanding it as a giver, for that matter.

 

The Luxury to Feel

Three is always the largest number in literature, as it encompasses the world, the one in store of all you need to understand all you have.

After all, this seasoned enigma is never tangible.

It’s a puzzle with bare bones and broken pieces that I put together with time and reflection. It’s a riddle with busted emotions and bad decision that I try to get something out of. And I did.

I’ve come to realize, to truly embrace feelings, you have to let yourself feel, while practicing your ability to choose, not blindly, impulsively, or emotionally.

And there’ll be a time, you’ll feel it, for what it really is.