In Building This Life Pt. 22

2017 has been magic, and not. Or the year of me being 22, as my birthday is only four days away from the end of the year.

All somersaults forward and utter stillness.

All of which, if I had to be honest, was a year-long shitstorm. And I can’t even make it sound pretty.

In 2017, I wanted to walk through the very best door.

In the first two months of this year, I was out of the woods with new perspectives gaining from studying abroad.

I felt recharged. I felt whole. And all until I crashed into someone, falling head over heels.

There are some people who you look at, and you can just tell how the story will end. But when I looked at him, I just knew instinctively, that despite the odds against us and although life would always find a way to test us, I’d look forward to a new day after him.

He isn’t super my type. He doesn’t have the right combination of a 6’ stature and an athletic body. But we met, we clicked. He quickly drew out the long-lost caring and loving side of me. He was the reason why I started to give a fvkc again.

Prettiness aside, we had more than our fair share of ugly arguments. Time and time again we were tested by our differences, idiosyncrasies, and individual flaws that were unavoidably brought to light as any two people move forward.

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When it became clear that our interests didn’t match up, I still held on.

I went from being a confident free spirit to a self-doubting emo cripple staying in an almost-relationship, stagnant and idle.

I couldn’t escape from the feeling that I was unworthy. It was a feeling that taped into almost every other negative emotion I was capable of. I was stuck in a long period of thick depression, fumbling through life half-hearted.

I almost lost it all for someone who had nothing to bring to my table. Who I thought was my very best door.


Hope, as it turned out, took quite a lot of work.

Luckily for me, my soul wasn’t going to give up that easily, instead, it led me back to blogging.

Words have always meant everything to me. Words have somehow convinced me that I mustn’t live ordinarily. I must be wild enough to chase after my dreams and then, maybe then, I will become those dreams.

With my first blog created back in middle school, I wrote only in Chinese. I liked to play with words, break conventional grammar rules, which in turned made my peers tilt their heads in confusion – “Reading this is giving me a headache.”

Years later, I still am, surprisingly yet thankfully, embracing writing. For a long while, I’d been seeking my muse, my anchor in English format. As I worked to put together pieces of work, some would comment, “Are you depressed?”

In reality, this is just how I write.

But I don’t find that annoying. I find it rather cute, actually.

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In May, I dedicated myself to this blog. I polished the site to look more professionally, sorting out categories of lifestyle, travel, and more.

I’ve come to own my feelings, take pride in my passion.

Own your stories. Our stories are ours, they belong to us, and we should be able to tell them – not at the convenience of others but when we are ready.

I am a sucker for words, and especially for words that when strung together feel like an entrancing story. Or maybe if I work hard enough the story will sing. It will come out right and strong, it will matter.

You never know.

I remember a time when my cheeks were ablaze, but now the only blaze that flares up is the one in my heart called passion. The passion to move forward. Sometimes the flames dim, like today. But all it takes is a good idea, fuel, to bring the flame alight again.

It’s a tough world out there, but it takes a tougher person to be gentle in it.


I practiced forgiveness – for myself, too.

For myself, especially. 

It has taken me a very long time to understand that there are people who are just not good.

This is the time where the whole society is questioning patriarchy, power, and misogyny, #metoo. And for the longest time I withheld the details; I still do to some degree. Out of the fear that people would question me, doubt me. Because I regretted denying my instinct from the beginning which was to avoid him.

For a long while I thought that as everyone aged they’d shed the noise of immaturity to reveal an innate goodness below. They’d be sensitive, soft-spoken. But that in fact takes quite a lot of work and the intelligence to know when it is needed. And some people are so deeply toxic with themselves that it is easier to cast the toxicity outwards and catch others in the net.

It turns out that as one works up the courage to leave the situation all together, it only creates more space to confront it.

Which is why, it is only now, all this time later, that I am loosening my grip. But it is an uncomfortable process. Something very human in me is still reminded of the hurtful snapshots from time to time. Something very human in me is afraid to break free.


But through the thick of it,

I’ve come to forgive the people who I love/loved for being as flawed as everyone else, as flawed as I am.

I’ve come to forgive myself for being the one who has to go through all that. There is not one thing you are meant to know before you are meant to know it.

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Despite how open, peaceful, and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves. The eyes see only what the mind is ready to comprehend.

I still want to walk through the very best door. 

But I’ve learnt not to make the mistake of choosing the closest available door, as opposed to the best one.

So this is a little PSA (mostly for myself) to say: Try anyway. Do the best you can. Make peace with the imperfection of it. And move tf on. Sometimes your best isn’t quite as great you’d like it to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enough.


Finally in mid-September, I started to take my life back. Little by little. Piece by piece.

I moved into a new house, living with two of my best friends. Some days were still so damn shitty. But then I was reminded of the women I knew, and I was like. Aite. “We can do this.”

I dug into new possibilities and found myself hooking into data analysis. So much so that transcribing data became my alternative way of translating the non-sense to words. As if writing my own dramas and feelings and anecdotes is not enough and I have to steal the words for other things.

Later in December, I got a job offer at a well-established marketing firm. And that was when I truly reaffirmed that, you attract whatever energy you radiate — again… the Law of Attraction 101. 


As life inches forward…

This year was hard. I think I can say that honestly, without addition or pretense. I am so glad this year is ending real soon. And as I’m back home in San Francisco for my last-ever winter break, quietly happy, I couldn’t help but think I’m moving onto 2018, or 23, with everything I might need.

A little bit of grit. A sense of awe. A capacity for both joy and sadness. A clear and meaningful value system. And a deep appreciation for the woman my 22nd year made me – or the woman I became in spite of my 22.

At the end of the day, people don’t really change. But at the end of year, they kinda do.


Tying you closer than most,





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”.



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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“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.


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.


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 by 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




Is it me or just my personality?

Few months back I forwarded a personality test (that I still think it’s pretty accurate) to someone I barely knew.

For the first time, I attempted to get to know a person through sets of questionnaire and data interpretation. And when something turned out not as expected, I thought to myself, “is it you or just your personality?”

That was such a whimsical move (now I can laugh about).

I’ve never been a fan of labels – it irks me to see people attach labels to arbitrary personality traits.

“Are you an introvert or extrovert?” “He’s the type of person that…”

To me, the measure of character is through idiosyncrasies, pet-peeves, the guilty pleasures they fail to quit, the drunk texts they send on a Saturday night and completely forget the next morning, the way they use flirty sarcasm in defense of a sense of insecurity, etc.

These are not the most glamorous moments of a person, yet the most peculiar and little details that sketch a much more concrete idea than the damn analysis.

I’m not dismissing horoscope or all the personality tests as not legitimate.

Ironically, I’ve always considered myself a typical Capricorn, or a solid ENFP.

We are bought into these zodiac interpretation and survey analysis because they sketch an idea of a person and shed light on the good side of them. They allow us to fantasize a romantic clash of serendipity.

We are so obsessed with these rigid models of personality as if the whole world could be reduced to a set of multiple choice questions, and the answer was A.

However, as much as one can predominantly lean towards being a “something,” so much of human behaviors are unparalleled and unpredictable.

To me, getting to know a person is the process of accessing an authentic part of the self, with both parties being openly ready. Just as how I want to learn about people story by story, I want to be understood not by a word, but through words.

Extroversion and introversion, or any type of the sixteen personalities, isn’t an either/or type of thing. It’s a spectrum where you can lie anywhere along the line. It’s the concoction in which you can mix whatever ingredients or elements.

That isn’t to say all connections are a matter of work, but they’re definitely not forced. Not wedging into an old story. Not constantly checking to see if they measure up to expectations. Because things fit naturally.

With this mindset, I’ve come to spend less time making excruciating small talks and more time nurturing friendships with people worth investing in, whom I care for, and who I know reciprocate my love and support.


I will always try to preserve my free spirits, because without it, I will have no words to write, no love to give, and a much less thorough idea of who I am.

And you don’t have to lose any part of yourself, because all characteristics are meant to coexist to form your unique self.

You can be responsible yet spontaneous,

diligent yet creative,

pragmatic yet hopeful.


You’re the collection of all of you, including your personality.




Stay gold,



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.


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.



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.



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.



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.