It feels like 2020 is flying by at the speed of light. I can barely keep up with all that’s happened and still happening. A couple more months and that’s a wrap. There has been little progress regarding the pandemic in the U.S. whereas other countries are already resuming most daily activities. And with considerations of factors such as the ongoing concerns of climate change, pyromaniacs, and even an irresponsible gender reveal party three weeks ago has turned most of California and the west coast of the U.S. in flames. Adding more oil to the fire. Thankfully the fire closest to us is almost nearly contained. About a week ago, we experienced a 4.6 earthquake barely a few miles away from the epicenter. Despite all the chaos, this has thus far been the most meaningful, eye-opening, and memorable year in my life. This year, the pandemic allowed me to rediscover free time which I’ve used for self-growth and being present with life’s simple pleasures. A few months ago I found a community of empowering therapists, studied diligently, passed my licensing exam, and became a licensed therapist! I also got to prioritize more of my time on my family relationships that I’ve neglected far too long and found more peace with them. I’m continuing to work from home and this has allowed me to slow down and focus on important aspects of my life that includes myself, community, friends, and family. I’ve gotten the chance to see and explore more of California than I had ever imagined. Some of my favorite memories: driving through the giant seqouias, stumbling upon a meadow of flowers, watching sea otters in heavy fog, exploring sea caves, watching the Perseids meteor shower, and cruising through PCH. This has been a year of grief, pain, anxiety, and frustration I think I needed to experience to learn more about the importance of patience, forgiveness, and acceptance. I’m still trying to make meaning of all that unfolded and continues to unravel in 2020. I still have hope that the future is something I can look forward to five years from now. What have been your highlights of 2020 so far?
I’m a therapist and I’m currently working at a non-profit mental health agency in my community. Ten years ago I never would have thought that I’d be working back in the very community that I grew up in. This must have been simpler times. I didn’t have very much knowledge on what was mental health and who needed therapy. And now my career as a therapist continually opens my eyes to so many issues in the world and challenges in people’s lives.
Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot on whether I want to be in a partnership, marry, and have children. It’s kind of hard not to think about this since this is the societal norm and expectation for many people. Most of my coworkers are either in a relationship, engaged, or married and have kids. I work with many children and families that come from varying backgrounds. I’m surrounded by all kinds of human connections. I’ve been reflecting on how having healthy human connection is important to happiness and survival.
2020 has been one hell of a year so far. It’s unsettling to say that these past six months felt like I was living through a couple of chapters in a history textbook. We had the threat of a start of WWIII, the Coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the upcoming election in November. And with Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve done more serious self-reflection than I have ever imagined. I am worried about the generations beyond who have to live through the society we are currently creating for them.
It’s been somewhat challenging grieving the loss of normal routines and activities, traveling, and socializing with loved ones but I’ve found my new daily norm. I’m successfully navigated providing telehealth while working from home and coping with my own feelings. I’ve found my balance in cooking, baking, and helping others. I’ve also felt angered and frustrated that it took a pandemic, deaths, and protests for important yet difficult conversations to happen. I recognized my privilege allowed me to brush off these difficult conversations for many years. I’m looking for my voice and strength to share all my thoughts on 2020 so far and to challenge the systemic racial biases ingrained in my own knowledge. I still lay awake restless at night not knowing what to expect for tomorrow and the future.
And I’d like to think that hopefully the world still wants what’s best for the children who are the future of this world when we all pass on someday. Hundreds of years from now, the system that is today will not work for the system that is the future. The people of our world need to connect, collaborate, leave behind our selfishness and think forward. At the end of the day, it’s important to look out for each other (your community, your neighbor, your friend, your acquaintance, a stranger) and vote to change the world we live in today.
A lot of people that I’ve talked to tend to define happiness with common themes that include loving yourself, materialistic goods, a stable relationship, happy family and friends, independence, freedom, and/or meeting life goals. For others it feels like they are constantly chasing after happiness and with the desire to reach it quickly. They may feel as if they never reach the endpoint. When we are born, there are expectations set of us from taking our first steps, our first words, achieving good grades, getting a high school diploma, obtaining a college degree, securing a stable job, having financial stability, getting married, having kids, to living a balanced life. I am sure you’ve noticed some of these expectations are quite the traditional way of thinking. Nobody has the exact same life plan. We are not conditioned to focus on the journey getting to the milestones. We may feel insufficient when we don’t see ourselves reaching these milestones as others do. We forget to focus on ourselves, what the process to each experience was like, why it felt that way getting there, why it was so rewarding or dissatisfying en route or once we’ve reach our goal. Personally, I think happiness is in front of us except we are too focused on long-term goals and meeting external expectations. We can choose whether to see it or not. If we don’t see it, we can work on ourselves in order to see it.
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown
I’ve been thinking about what I want to write and share on WordPress for months now. Or rather I’ve been in my mind for quite some time. Not quite exactly sure what content I should put here anymore. More or less a lot of overthinking on my part. There was so much that I wanted to post on here. I decided to return to this medium because I did find myself more in tune with my thoughts when I put them in writing.
Tonight, I had a shower thought that went along the lines: “Why is there no one to connect with that really understands me?” Asking this question naturally led me to realize that I always have the option to open up with someone and said someone can choose whether to connect and listen to me or not. Also, I realized it’s pretty amazing that there is no other individual out there like me that thinks in the exact same way. Similar but never the same way. This is how a lot of brilliant ideas come forward. Technology. Books. Art. Knowledge. Although being in our own thought process, we may feel alone, most of us probably think about wanting to connect with someone who understands our ideas. I’m sure a lot of us out there feel this way.
I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my therapist career would be closing or transferring out my clients. I’ve come to realize that all things come to an end, good and bad. Everything is really just temporary. When I least expected it, the last person on earth, my client whom I had thought loathed me, reached out to hug me as I was transferring her to her next therapist. Maybe her depression had cycled through and she was finally able to see the silver lining. It really touches my heart to know that I’ve helped my clients out even in the most minuscule way.
I remember I had started writing this post about two months ago and could not figure how to continue. Well, after what seems like centuries of reflecting, I’ve also somewhat found the silver lining for myself. And it is simple: I really want to learn how to gracefully navigate all the good and the bad hurdles on my own.
I’ve been meaning to capture this thought for a while now but I kept losing the words and I wasn’t really sure how to express myself. I still don’t think I know how to really share this. Lately, it feels like reality really hit me. I’m getting older. It’s starting to become really unclear to me on how and who I will spend the remaining of my adult years with. I can’t even begin to pinpoint how to reach the independence that I try to picture for myself. Also, maybe I have too many different types of friends/acquaintances or maybe I am more of a nomad after all. This nomadic feeling, I am all too familiar since being an only child and all. I’ve come to terms that I am different from other people and I don’t mind being the outcast. I like to think that I’m adaptive to whatever setting I’m in, but I’m not. It’s debilitating to know that I have so many weakness yet I try to overcome them and end up pretending I am all together. What I’m trying to say is, the future really seems like a daunting idea at the moment. And I’m sure I am not the only soul in the world who feels this way. We all have our moments of weaknesses and also moments of sobering pangs of reality. Especially when we wake up from our dreams and start to appreciate the beautiful life. Or rather find more peace and beauty in our dreams.
No matter how different people are, I’ve found that we are pretty much alike and similar. And what sets us apart is one’s historical background, upbringing, and adversities of life. Even considering these factors, they are all similarities in that we share differences that make us who we are today. All the milestones we experience brings us to a similar endpoint. Death. Mostly of us are living to survive, to find some meaning in life, to strive for growth, and to seek fulfillment. And we all seek to connect among each other even if we don’t want to. However, humans being so differently similar, we have a tendency to ostracize outsiders, others, and even our own kind. We may treat someone else unequally with our hatred, jealousy, and discrimination. How can we grow if we don’t learn from the very same people, and the generations before them, that have contributed to all that we have in our lives today? What would the world be like if everyone showed empathy and cared for everyone? Would we understand more differences or more similarities amongst each other?
It has been a great while since I’ve written anything or left any digital footprints of my thoughts anywhere. And now I am back and feeling refreshed, along with some new personal insights. In the past few months, I’ve realized my life is more enjoyable when simplified. I set myself with the strenuous task of simplifying all home, work, and social aspects. Since then I’ve found myself spending my time in areas that are more important to me. Previously, I thought this was impossible but I was able to change my mindset by knowing that there are moments of time I can’t get back if spent stressing, over worrying, and feeling defeated. Changing my mindset gave me motivation to try new things, face my fears, and start and complete projects I’ve been putting off. Although I am still working on the piece of allocating myself within time in itself and the truly important, I know the world keeps spinning and I can walk this earth at my own natural pace. Yes, I wish there were parts of me to divide so I can achieve some if not all my dreams. For now, I am still learning to understand my imperfections, see the world in its rawest form, and appreciate my presence in it and all the positivity that surrounds me rather than focus on what cannot change.
“The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true — action precedes motivation.” – Robert J. McKain
As the year is coming to an end, I find myself reflecting back on all my experiences. Like stop motion pictures before my eyes. Though I did not travel as much as I wanted this year, I embarked on life’s adventure by immersing myself in nature and meaningful experiences from random nature hikes to camping in the blazing hot spring and summer to jamming out to some of my favorite music artists at various music venues that coincidentally occurred during extreme weather conditions (i.e., heatwaves, thunderstorms, hurricane warnings) that allowed me to discover myself in the beautiful elements of mother Earth, in rain, heat, wind, and mud, to conversing with people from different backgrounds. I even put myself in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations and tried many new things. Some experiences were quite memorable and some were quite difficult to endure, which took quite a toll on my mental health and overall health. I went with my gut for a majority of my decisions and for other decisions I faltered through battles I had within myself. I’ve made some mistakes, experienced failure, and learned some valuable lessons out of them. I’ve played my role in giving wholeheartedly to as many people as I care about. I set some goals for myself in the beginning of the year and surely I think I’ve exceeded my own expectations in terms of expanding my mind, being physically active, spending time in nature, and becoming more mindful and present with myself. All in all, I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine. I appreciate all those who have supported and continue to support me along this journey called life. 2017, I think you were good to me even though you challenged me and pushed me to the edge.
I’d like to keep these in mind:
- focus on what is important to myself rather than others
- redefine my independence
- practice self-compassion
Authentically and sincerely,
We keep our guards up around certain people. We are afraid, worried, trapped, angry, etc. We don’t think we can really share with anyone else these feelings because they make us vulnerable, or as if someone has decrypted the language to your soul. We filter ourselves — via texting, conversations, social media platforms, and basically anywhere public. However, there are others with whom we can let our guard down. We feel comfort, courage, bravery, and determination to speak our minds because there really is no right or wrong way to be vulnerable. If people could be more vulnerable, we would be able to own up to being what it means to truly be human. We would also be able to learn how to build more empathy for each other. And with empathy, we can learn to understand and listen. And with understanding, we can learn and grow and mostly importantly unravel and discuss the problems of the universe. Not as a single entity that a human exists as, but as systemic wholeness, the force of the inhabitants of the world.
There probably was no correlation regarding vulnerability and solving the problems of the universe, but this is just a lingering thought that we can use more vulnerability and empathy.