I gave my Barbie a bob hair cut once. I don’t remember if I thought it would grow back or if I thought she needed a new look. I had a Barbie bedroom set, a closet with outfits and mismatched shoes, a dining table, and a Barbie van, which was my favorite one to set up. It came with a lot of camping gear down to the mini utensils. I remember setting up every little piece of toy in its place before I started to actually play. However, by the time I was done organizing my toys, I was too tired to play and took a nap instead.
Most people live by the work hard play hard mentality and I think my friends would agree that I need to, not just play hard, but to play in general. I took work home, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it got to the point where I felt restless. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough and when I overworked myself I was too tired or physically sick to play. I lived a work hard then play after the work is done kind of life. In reality the work will never end. When one task is done another one is already halfway through the process. Took me a while to integrate play into my life, but I’m getting better. It’s made of self-compassion, reflection, calmness, stillness, and spirituality. It also includes books, blogs, laughter, family dinners, and facial masks that make you look like the Jabbawockeez. My nieces help remind me to play as well even though they wake me up earlier than I wish.
Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process. -Dr. Stuart Brown
Telling my students about my last work day was probably the most difficult part during my transition out. Their reactions, emotions, and facial expressions can only be best illustrated by an emoji keyboard. The students in the photo was the last group I shared my news with. A few of them have been with me since my first day on the job. I braced myself to receive the expected spectrum of responses, but what I didn’t see coming was a student who stood on the table, looked at me in the eye, and said, “Oh captain my captain.” I almost lost it right then and there, but I kept it together. Thankfully no one followed this student’s lead because I can only imagine a bunch of students tumbling down like a tower of Jenga pieces. Most of them probably didn’t know what was going on anyway because they haven’t seen the movie. The moment transitioned into taking a fun photo and then the meeting resumed to its agenda.
We serve in a lot of roles in life. I’m a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, colleague, mentor, and a college graduate. I’ve also been a classmate, dance instructor, president of the Asian Student Association, a social work intern, and a member for the colourguard team in high school. I may or may not have gently tapped a car or two with my flag during the Christmas parade. The experiences I had in these roles contributed to the person I am today to some extent.
I think I allowed some not-so-good experiences define who I am. Someone described it as linking my value to _______. Fill in the blank: work, what others thought of me, relationships. You name it. In this time of transition a friend helped me think about what I would create on a blank slate if I removed myself from all these different roles. How would I describe myself if I defined my value without any links to this world? What kind of colors would best illustrate my soul?
I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did, but I at least know one thing. Throughout this season I can’t help but feel God’s love and presence. This foreign feeling of His peace reminds me that I am taken care of and that He has my best interest at heart. So with or without these different roles I serve, I can confidently describe myself as a person with strong faith.
What roles do you serve? Do you believe it helped you become who you are today? Some might say yes. Some might say no. Some might say to a certain extent. And that’s okay. It’s your narrative. Your truth.
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
Michelle never gave up on me. Not once. Not even when I gave her every reason to.
She calls me up randomly just because,
Validates my love for sweatpants and my struggle to put on real ones when I have to,
Accepts my relationship with my Kindle and love for Harry Potter,
Reminds me that I matter,
Judges me and judges with me,
Has my bed (the big red couch) ready with the fluffy blanket when I sleep over,
Buys a chocolate peanut butter cupcake as a back up just in case I don’t like the breakfast cupcake with bacon and maple drizzle,
Supports my craving for tacos after a night of dancing,
And doesn’t react anymore when I snort while laughing.
One day she sat me down and completely shattered my glass walls of isolation and denial. A series of stress factors, insecurities, emotions, and hopelessness flooded out and it felt like there was nothing I can do to stop it. I felt uncomfortable sitting there across from her sharing everything that weighed heavily on my heart. I wanted to run away from that moment wishing it would go away on its own, but I was too deep in it to cut it short. She stayed, listened, cried with me, and hugged me and said, “Don’t you ever feel like you’re not loved ever again.”
It’s been almost a year since that day and to say that our friendship is stronger than ever is an understatement. I believe in the power of vulnerability. The power to create connections, build relationships, and develop spiritually. There’s no formula to it. I haven’t mastered it, but I have people on my side to help me along the way. Michelle is definitely one of my people and I am very thankful for her. I don’t think the world was ready when they placed us in each other’s lives though because our friendship goals are on point.
“…Recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace.” -Brenè Brown
Since I’m in Washington for a while I thought that I should take advantage of the coffee shops around the area. Those who know me well would support this. As I searched for cafes on Yelp I wondered why I find such solace in reading a good book in a coffee shop. Maybe it’s the book or the ambiance of the place.
Maybe it’s the moments shared with others like
sister talk with close friends from grade school
catching up on the past couple weeks
introducing new boyfriends
talking sh!t of why they’re now the ex studying for biological basis of human behavior
then complaining why it’s a required course in the first place
laughing about the weekend on a Sunday morning
bad dates really bad dates
catching up on the past couple months
trusting the process together while preparing for the comprehensive exam
whining together the day before then wining together the day after
reuniting with old friends
catching up on family, dreams, and the unknown
connecting with someone new over Harry Potter
or rereading an oldie but goodie like Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
Whether I’m alone with a book, hurting with laughter with my people, or appreciating a good latte, I find comfort in this space because I know my time is being well spent.