As 2017 is nearing to a close, and I look back on all my goals from the beginning of the year, I realize how much I’ve changed. Some things are still the same – for example, fitness is still a priority though I did put it on the back burner for 80% of the year – but some things have changed. When I was 20-21, one of the biggest goals I had for myself was buying a house by the time I turned 25. Though I am still 2 years away, I realize somewhere along the way, that was not an immediate priority of mine. Although I do want to own a house one day, I also want to live a life of adventures. I want to be able to create stories, which will ultimately dictate where my paycheck flows.
When I turned 23, a sense of restlessness awoke. I wanted to see everything, learn everything, experience everything. Keep in mind, these experiences turned out to be uncomfortable.
There are still nights I wonder why did I want to throw away the easy, “perfect” life I had, living out in the quiet and safe suburb just to experience new things “in the city”? Why did I feel like I was missing out on life and common experiences? I knew in my gut that I was still a child in some respects. I’ve been sheltered all my life, from being taken care by my mom, then being taken care of by K. I never really knew how to take care of myself because people were always taking care of me. And I knew that they did it out of love, but I also didn’t know whether I would be ok if one day, everything changed.
And it did, but I brought it on myself.
So here are the things I’m discovering as I navigate my way to finding and “re-finding” myself:
- Find your happy place
The gym had always been my happy place, and it began years ago without any influence from anyone. To think that years ago, I didn’t even KNOW what people wore to the gym! I wore some denim cut offs my very first time to a real “gym” because they were the only pair of shorts I owned. Now years later, I can say it has honestly been the one thing that has been constant source of happiness and excitement in my life. I have actually met people whom I later became friends with, at the gym, and I have also became better friends with at least 1000 people because we share an interest for the active lifestyle.
Gym has made me realize how small and minute some things I worry about are, but it has also instilled in me perseverance and discipline. When I started going to the gym, I was so overwhelmed and intimidated by the idea that people there will judge me. That they will think that I am weak or why is a girl lifting? And I learned, that who cares? To be honest, everybody at the gym is there to better themselves, and they could care less about what you do. But it has also taught me that the only opinion which matters, especially at the gym, is my own. I don’t need to be afraid to do things I want to do because I don’t want others to think negatively of me.
I may not have my dream body right now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever get there. To get there, though, I need to keep trying, and no matter how small my progress may be – or how short my workout sessions are (even if I could only afford to spend 30 min. at the gym because I overbooked my day), I realize that the importance is really just showing up.
- Just show up
Which brings me to the next point: just show up. By making an attempt, no matter how small, I am opening myself up to new opportunities. It’s hard to be welcoming of new or foreign things, especially when we think we know we won’t like it and when we’re at a point in our life where we’re “comfortable with the way things are”, but it’s so much more difficult to stay close-minded about all the positive things we may gain from these unfamiliar experiences.
- Stop living out of boxes
The very first thing to do when you are lost is to remove yourself from the situation, physically.
The midst of the chaos of moving, though, is that we start to just ignore things that will ultimately benefit us. One of those things for me is living out of boxes. I am dreading having to go through my things which I have accumulated through the years, but I also know it be very beneficial to do so. There are some things that I wish to donate and others which I should toss. Right now, I do not even know what I have because I have so many things.
- Keep your routine
When things are changing at an alarming speed, it may be hard to stay up with your normal routine. You are thrown off balance from just trying to keep your head out of “water.” It may be difficult to continue treading on top of the million and one things already on your calendar. But, it is during these times that it is essential to keep your routine as much as possible. My old routine was to go to the gym after work, eat dinner, then go to bed. Then for a while, I stopped going to the gym because the new gym was too inconvenient. In hindsight, I realize how stupid it was, especially if we’re going back to #1 (Find your happy place). So for a while, I was angry at myself for not doing what ultimately made me happy, but at that time, it was a worthwhile sacrifice because I wanted to spend as much time I could with K. Driving 1 hour each way for my commute was already hellish, as sitting in Hawaii traffic for 2 hours can even bring out madness in the calmest of people. It took me a long time to reevaluate my priorities (#8), and to finally convince myself that my own sanity was what I needed to focus on (#7).
- Meditate and find peace in the quiet
The part I still need to get used to living by myself is coming home to an empty, quiet house, and being at peace with the fact that nobody else will be coming through the door after me. It still spooks me to some extent because I’ve only had the apartment for a week and it does not yet feel like a home. I recognize what it means to be “lonely”. It is a superficial type of loneliness though, just a void I feel at night, because no one can be by my side 24/7. But I know I am surrounded by very loving friends who have given me emotional support and are willing to answer my calls and texts at 12 a.m, haha.
At the same time, it is also peaceful. Since my life is at chaotic point right now “running” my household, staying on top of the gym, opening myself to learning all the things I wanted to do, but never got around to:
- Riding a bike
It’s nice to be surrounded by serenity. I don’t know if this is a living situation I want to stay in; I miss the overall presence of people and just the company in general, so after this stunt by myself, I will look into rooming with other people. But it is nice to have this moment to myself, and to just use this time to be as anti-social as I want.
- Take steps forward
I am a decision-maker but also a decision-muller. More often than not, after I had made a decision that I know is right for me in my gut, I regret the decision I chose for myself because I tend to live in the past. I made a decision, but I seem to be unable to live with it.
But no matter what the past was, it is a past. The only thing we can do is acknowledge that we did what we thought was best for us at the time, given the information we knew. They say hindsight is 20-20. So when I look into these things in hindsight, maybe this decision is wrong for me, maybe it is right, I do not know. But I know I do things based on the feelings I feel right now, and for me, this decision is right for me right now. I shall no longer keep looking at the past, because the only action I can take are steps forward.
- Refocus on things you value in yourself
The shittiest feeling in the world in heartbreak. The thing about heartbreak is that it hurts like fuck. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of heartbreak, regardless of whatever caused it, you realize you never want anyone else to go through those feelings – not the stranger on the street, not your grandma, not even on an enemy or someone who you don’t really like. But, is heartbreak worse than forever living in unhappiness over a what if? So, even if I thought I valued “niceness” in myself, I do not think I stomach these feelings of unease forever.
As selfish as I may be, I value my own happiness, and I am sure everyone else does too. No matter, trying to make someone happy, or succumbing to the guilt you feel, is not a way to live your whole life. For a while, I knew I already felt these feelings, but my actions so far were because I was 1) so afraid to stand on my own, and 2) feeling guilty that I was ruining someone’s life that I forgot to even think about my happiness and my wants – I wanted to engage in the charade a little longer.
The things I value in myself:
- Good listener
- A story-teller
- Reevaluate goals and wants
Like spring cleaning, it is extremely refreshing to take this time to reevaluate yourself, your own goals, and wants. It has to be something that you want for yourself – and not something someone else wants of you. Definitely not something other people want for themselves that may involve you. It’s difficult to think about your own goals, because sometimes what we want may be influenced by other people. The only way to get a clear understanding of your own desires is to give physical distance and time away – just for yourself to understand, is this truly, truly what I want? And if not, then what is? What are the goals I have for myself, and for my future?
What are the necessary steps I need to take in order to get me there?
- Make progress
Similar to #6, but also its own topic. Making progress means to identify things that are important to you (#8) and take steps to achieve them. These goals can be performance based (run a 10 minute mile, break a PR), or within thyself (#7, be more kind, be more open, handle rejection better), and it is important to track those. Understand that the only thing that can help you is time, and constant effort to improve. And we’ll make mistakes along the way, break relationships, ruin opportunities, but it will always be a state of constant self-improvement which we must reflect upon.
- Don’t make rash decisions
When we’re emotional, we tend to make rash decisions which may come from our fight or flight evolutionary biology. However making rash decisions will only further the pain and regret process. It’s hard not to make a rash decision when we think “we’re following our gut.” The difference between making a (rash) decision and making a decision is to consider how well we are making decisions based on things we know for certain. Good leaders are those who can make a decision based on known quantifiable facts, and lead a company through hard times. They are good at making decisions and standing by their beliefs.
- Stop saying things you don’t mean
When we are angry or emotional, we may say things we don’t mean. Things like “I hate you” or “don’t contact me again”, or “I’ll never call you again.” When we may not really mean it. I know I have a habit of saying those things over and over, but I’m making an attempt of resolving the problem. I want to stop saying those things because I know it is hurtful to other people on the receiving end. When we are saying those things out of spite, and we forget that sometimes the things that hurt the most are words. In summary, if you think you’ll regret saying something when emotions have cooled, better to hold your tongue.
- Recognize that a change is a change, and will take some getting used to
There are lists I still make of things I miss about old life. Included are things like: cuddles, random kisses, emotional availability, someone to be silly with, security, and did I say random kisses and cuddles? One day, I might be able to stop making them. There are also things I don’t miss too, like the roller coaster of emotions, the fluctuating sadness and anger, the differing goals for the future, and the sexual incompatibility that made it a bad match in the long term. Despite it all, I miss having a best friend who I could snuggle with at the end of the day, who would rub my back and plant kisses on my forehead when I was having a rough day, someone who would spontaneously eat lunch and dinner with me, and who didn’t mind having a “second dinner” when I couldn’t finish my food. Living this new life does take some getting used to, but I want to keep looking ahead at all the opportunities that are waiting for me ahead.
- Accept that some nights will be easier than others
I have learned to accept that there are nights where it goes by easier than others. Some nights, I am so busy with cleaning house, doing laundry, going to the gym, etc. that the time goes by so fast and I barely have any time to think before I K.O on the bed. There are also nights where time goes by slowly. I don’t have internet at the apartment yet, and I don’t have a T.V. I miss watching Netflix. I miss cuddling up, I miss just talking about our days, and just lazing off on a couch. I miss splitting the chores – you cook, I wash the dishes, you put the laundry in the wash, I fold, and so on.
- Spend time for yourself
The thing is, I don’t want to spend time by myself anymore. I want to share my time with people. The self-destructing thing is, sometimes it is with people I care about (which is good), and sometimes it is with people who I barely know (which is bad). Sometimes, I think that these people who I barely know want to spend time to get to know me as a person, and I recognize how naïve this idea can be. There are some people out there, whose sole intention is to have fun – which I’m not disrespecting, but that is not my idea of fun.
It is a bit difficult to accept that I do need this time alone, just to clear my head, and learn to be independent. I certainly do miss the companionship that comes with being in a relationship, but I want to be looking at something sustainable long term, not just short term consolation.