What Matters Most

I write a lot about growing up. That’s because ever since I was little, I’ve always been in such a rush to be older. I remember following my sister and her friends around when I was a kid and I just couldn’t wait to be old enough to hang out with them. Now that I’m older, it’s funny how it works in reverse. As you get older, you want to gain all those years back that you wanted to skip ahead to.

I spend a lot of my time around people of different age groups and it always fascinates me to talk to them about their experiences and hear their opinions on life. And regardless of age, everyone always experiences things at different stages of their lives. Some of us are wise beyond our years and some of us continue to resist maturity.

Now that I am where I am, I’d finally like to slow down and take advantage of the time that I have while I have it.

When you’re younger, it seems like things take so much longer to happen – Getting your license, being able to legally drink, graduating college, finding a job, etc. But once you’ve crossed all of those things off your list, there’s a realization that you start running out of things that you have to wait for in order to happen.

What I’ve learned throughout my twenties so far is that I’m much more capable of distinguishing between the things are a big deal and the things that are not. I’m able to recognize what really matters in life and what I shouldn’t get so worked up about.

After I turned 25, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a significant shift there was in my mindset. After losing love, losing jobs, losing friends, I’m less upset about the losses and more grateful for the gains and the people who are still sticking by my side. I’m realizing that my family is one of the most important of things in my life. I’m realizing that you shouldn’t fight so hard for people who won’t fight for you. I’m realizing that the time you are given is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted on people or things that do not fill you up with joy.

Recently, I keep thinking back to the time when I was in the hospital at the age of 20 and diagnosed with Chrohn’s Disease due to my own self-induced stress. I look back and wonder how and why I allowed myself to get stressed over things that I can hardly even remember to this day.

There’s a certain peace that comes with age and maturity that I’ve truly come to appreciate – And that peace lies within knowing yourself and what you want out of your life. I can now say with full honesty that I’m discovering the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to lead. I thank God for that and I thank the people who are closest to me for supporting all of the decisions I have made leading up to this day.

My Comeback (Part 2)

As an extension to my last post, titled the “My Comeback“, I’m giving some insight as to what I’ve been noticing since it was published. Specifically, I wanted to share some of the reactions that I’ve been receiving after publicizing my personal experiences.

I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve began exposing this kind of information about my life – the intimate details of my breakup, the loss of my job, the overall confusion in my life – people have felt the need to reach out and say something to me, whether it be directly or indirectly.

I’ve been receiving feedback, comments, and even having people share their own personal struggles. And of course, it is not my business or place to expand on the details of other people’s lives.

But, I would like to say that I appreciate and even applaud those of you who have felt compelled to share your experiences with me. I’m glad that I am able to motivate people to react, reflect, and relate to what I am going through.

The beauty of writing is that you are connecting with your audience in an extremely personal way. Knowing that I have reached people in a way that makes them feel like they are not alone is exactly what I aim for in my writing. And as a writer, that’s when I have done my job.

And if you are not necessarily able to personally relate to my experiences, then that’s okay too. Because my writing is not out in the open in order for people to feel sympathy for me. It’s to try to get people to think in a different way; For people to understand that everyone is going through something difficult even if it doesn’t appear so.

And with that being said, I think that it makes my comeback a little more worth fighting for.

My Comeback

Have you ever been at rock bottom and gotten to the point where you actually remember the moment when you started to fall?

Well that happened to me today, just a few hours ago, as I was sitting at church at the last evening service of the day.

The central message of the sermon was about making a comeback after you have fallen into one of the lowest points that you have ever been in.

And that moment happened to me about five months ago when I was in the midst of severing all ties between my ex-boyfriend and I. When that happened, I thought that it would be the end of all my sorrows and struggles. Little did I know, that would be the very instant where I would begin to spiral into a deep pit that I had never fallen down before.

By now, I thought that things would clear up and I would be back on an up and onward path.

In November of 2015, I was let go from a job that I eagerly took and only held for approximately two months. I was let go just three days before my 25th birthday.

Throughout this ongoing process of self-discovery and healing since that moment, I thought that, now, I had finally found solace in the beginning of February when a new job opportunity sought me out. I thought that this would be the turn of the tide.

About one week ago, I found out that they had decided not to keep me as an employee.

And just like that, I was right back in that pit.

When you’re in your darkest of moments, it’s quite difficult to find any speck of light. It’s difficult to even try to let any light in. That’s exactly where I am right now. In the dark, searching for light in this dark moment in my life.

The single most important thing that kept me hanging on and holding onto hope was finding my way back to God and having faith that all of these things that were happening are not in vain.

I can only hold my head high and trust that light will finally find its way to me.

I can only hope that soon, I will make my comeback. But for now, I’m still in the pit searching for light to find its way to me again.

*Read a continuation of this post in “My Comeback (Part 2)

I gave up alcohol AND coffee for a month and this is what happened

Similar to many others who have proclaimed an alcohol-free month this January, I too, have participated in the tradition of going an entire month without alcohol. To take it even further, I actually added coffee to that list as well. 

For many people, the month of January is symbolic towards building how the rest of their year is going to be. Many people want to start off the new year on a good foot, which would include refraining from a specific type of behavior – In this case, it would be alcohol and coffee for me. 

After having experience an already difficult month and a half throughout November and December, I decided that this was the right thing to do.

Having dealt with my very first hands-on experience of being unemployed, I felt that January would signify a turning point for me, so I wanted to eliminate the two biggest distractions in my life. I wanted to devote this alcohol/coffee-free month towards focusing on myself. I wanted to figure out how to be with myself, and be happy with myself. I wanted to get a better idea of what I wanted out of my life. And surprisingly, that’s exactly what happened.

At first, I thought I was going to lose my mind and become a hermit, but instead, it worked out in my favor. And this is exactly what happened. 

1. I wrote more. It’s amazing how much more I wanted to write. It’s because I had clearer thoughts that weren’t drowned out or interrupted by alcohol or caffeine. I honestly thought that the lack of alcohol or caffeine would actually cause a significant dip in the amount of writing I produced, but ironically, it made me more productive.

2. I read more. Aside from the fact that I had way more time on my hands due to unemployment, I actually did read more. Naturally, since I went out a less than usual, I spent those weeknights where I wasn’t meeting up with friends for drinks towards reading and learning more than I normally would.

3. I exercised consistently. The one thing I didn’t miss about alcohol was the hangovers and the general feeling of exhaustion after a night of drinking. I had my weekends to wake up early and go to the gym. I put myself on a consistent workout schedule and stuck with it because I didn’t have nighttime drinking distractions.

 4. I lost weight. The combination of regular exercise and elimination of extra calories from alcohol and even coffee (if it’s a fattier coffee drink) significantly affected my weight loss and how I looked overall. My jeans actually fit better and my stomach really did get flatter when I cut the calories from drinking.

5. I got so much better at cooking. When you change one part of your daily routine, it usually affects other parts as well. When I cut out alcohol, I avoided the drunk food-ordering and had more time to go grocery shopping and actually learn to cook properly.

6. I ate healthier. Going back to #5, I ate healthier because I wasn’t going out to eat as often (because food + drinks is usually an automatic combination) and I was staying in and making my own meals. 

7. I saved A TON of money. After seeing the actual numbers in my bank account, I was shocked by how much of my income went towards buying coffee every day or going out for drinks. The numbers don’t lie. Cutting back on alcohol and coffee saves major bills.

8. I was more focused on my goals. Instead of wanting to avoid my problems by drinking, I was more attentive towards what I wanted to accomplish while I wasn’t drinking. I was able to actually sit and think about the things that I wanted to  in my life, both in the short run and the long run.

9. I made better decisions. From personal experience, I can say that my worst decisions usually happen while I’m under the influence of alcohol. When you’re buzzed, tipsy, or drunk, you’re not in the right state of mind to be able to handle situations properly or make appropriate decisions. Thankfully, I had this entire month to make good decisions that led me to where I am now. 

10. I spent more time with people that actually mattered. You’d be surprised by how many people feel uncomfortable being around you if you’re not drinking, which says a lot about the company that you choose. The people that I spent time with while I was alcohol-free were the ones that still wanted to hang out even though I wasn’t drinking with them. And those are the people the really matter.

11. I got better quality sleep. To be completely honest, I still wasn’t able to sleep properly at first, but that was due to my own anxiety of what would happen after the month was over. Regardless, the quality of sleep that I did get was phenomenal. This in turn, led to me feeling better during the day and being more proactive throughout the week.

 12. I restored my faith in God. Despite what other people’s religious beliefs may be, mine were re-established during this month. Growing up, I’ve always been a Christian I’ve always believed in God and I’ve always had faith in God, knowing that things would work out. But there were times in the last few years where I really wasn’t sure that my luck was ever going to change. But after this month, and what has happened within the past few days, my faith is stronger than ever  in knowing that things really do work out.

 

New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down

I haven’t felt many positive emotions towards New York City lately. This is mostly circumstantial, in light of the recent events that have happened to me, so I’m writing this with a slight bias. But in the last few years, I haven’t had the best memories to associate with this city and it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

When I first moved here, I set the bar really high for myself. I still had that post-graduate fire, driven towards a successful career. I envisioned a life that would weigh more on the fun and exciting side rather than the difficult and discouraging side. It comes in waves though, like anything in life.

There are moments like last week when I was reunited with a good friend from Australia whom I haven’t seen in over a year, which coincidentally brought together a group of friends in whom I hardly see anymore.

And I keep asking myself the question of whether it’s New York City or if it’s just me. As the great Sinatra once said, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” Well, Sinatra knows his stuff. It’s true. There is no life like New York City.

So, I’m not sure if I’ve done my time and proved to myself and others that I can withstand a beating by living here. I’m not sure if leaving this city will change anything – If I’ll find a better job, or a boyfriend, or a cheaper apartment (I’d most likely find a cheaper apartment). I’m not sure if it’s the mental state that I’m in or the city that I’m living. A lot of people take the action of changing their environment for a better life. I’m not sure if that will work in my case. I’m not sure if I just need to figure things out still. All I know is that I don’t know.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from New York City, it’s that it’s constantly changing. Change, ironically, is the only thing that tends to stay the same here. People come and go, jobs come and go, apartments come and go, relationships start and end. It’s a vicious cycle.

To me, New York City can be summed up perfectly in the words of E.B. White’s, in an excerpt from “Here is New York”:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

I’m the settler who is trying to re-discover my passion for New York City. I’m trying to get back to the place where I was filled with ambition and fire. I somehow lost it along the way.

Who you meet

There’s a quote from the movie “Love and Other Drugs” that meant a lot to me the first time I ever heard it and it still means a lot to me now. It goes like this,

“You meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet one person and your life is changed forever.” 

I’m writing this because I know that the person whom I’m writing about is going to read it. And I actually hope he does because this is meant for him. So, here it is.

I know that a lot of people may disagree with the idea of ‘love at first sight.’ To be completely honest, I still don’t exactly understand the mechanics behind it. People usually tend to call it ‘lust at first sight’ instead because how do you really know that you love someone whom you’ve never met before?

Well, I’m not sure if it was love at the first moment I saw him, but it sure as hell was something. It was something that, little did I know at the time, would change my life forever.

The first time I saw him, I was drawn to him. It was like I knew that something was going to happen between us. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I felt like I was supposed to meet him.

Living in New York City, people try not to make eye contact with others. Yet, we encounter hundreds of thousands of people each day just getting from one subway stop to another. How are you supposed to know who is going to impact your life or not?

Usually, it’s a small percentage. We often make it a point to reach our destination without a single encounter unless it’s with someone we’re already with. It’s funny how that happens in big cities. There are millions of people who are going about their lives, trying to avoid making eye contact with one another.

I always go back to that day when I first saw him and I try to ask myself, ‘What exactly was it was that made me look up from staring at the ground that day?‘ When I saw him, I just knew that he was going to be someone important in my life. Again, at the time, I hadn’t realized the magnitude of what our relationship would become. Little did I know how affected I would be him. And little did I know that he would become such a significant part of my young adult life.

But with that quote from “Love and Other Drugs,” I didn’t know that meeting that one person wouldn’t necessarily mean that you would spend the rest of your life with them. Some people come into your life to play a key role only for a brief period of time. Not all relationships were built to last.

I thought [and still think] that our relationship was short-lived. I wasn’t done getting to know him yet. I wasn’t done letting him get to know me. I still don’t know if it’s done or when it will end or if it will begin again. I’m not waiting, but I’m never sure.

Life works in an odd way in that sense – Not knowing who will leave you, who will come back, and who you’ll meet along the way. But when you know, you know. You just feel it. And that’s an important instinct to trust.

Stronger than that

So, we’ve all flipped the page on another year and now it’s 2016. Many of us like to completely dismiss the events of the previous year and start anew in hopes that Day 1 out of 365 of the new year will be a fresh start for us – A new beginning. Yes, it’s a new year, but it’s not a completely fresh start. I used to look at New Year’s as an opportunity to put the past behind me and move forward. And of course, that’s what we should all aspire to do. We should move forward and constantly keep moving forward. But I don’t think  that we should dismiss the events of the past.

I haven’t had the smoothest or easiest of years in 2015 and I know that I’m not the only one. I know that, compared to others, I didn’t even have it all that bad. Compared to others, I still have heaps more to be grateful for. I’m not bitter or resentful about the unfortunate things that have happened to me last year or any of the past years. And maybe I am writing this with hindsight bias because at the time, it was much harder during the actual heat of the moment, but looking back now, I know that I could never get to where I am without those moments of defeat. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” Well, I’m so glad that I never stayed down after all of those moments of defeat.

In 2015, I thought that every obstacle was going to be the one that was going to send me over the edge. In 2014, I thought the same thing. And the same goes for 2013 and 2012. Ever since I graduated college, each year seemed to be getting harder than the last. The thing is, I realize more and more with each passing year that life will just never get easier. I’ll only get stronger. I’ll only get better at handling difficult situations. I’ll learn from the past.

We shouldn’t neglect the events from the past because they have made us who we are today. No matter how tragic or difficult our hardships from the previous years have been, they shouldn’t be in vain. They are milestones and they are a part of us. We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should use them as a reminder that we are a lot stronger than we think.

6 Days in Denver and Los Angeles

Since I’ve began this blog, I’ve always written some sort of monumental post on or around my birthday to reflect on the previous year because I like to see how far I’ve come, how much I’ve changed, and how much I’ve grown. It’s never a dull journey to get to where I am and thankfully, I have these blog posts to serve as a reminder that life doesn’t get any easier with age.

I just turned 25 about 2 weeks ago. A quarter-century old. A quarter-life crisis to come. Again, to no surprise, I have a laundry list of events that have happened in that previous year.

In the span of 1 year, I had 2 different jobs, lived in 2 different apartments in New York City, and broke up, got back together, then broke up (again) with my boyfriend.

When I turned 25, I was job-less, boyfriend-less, and at the border of a mental breakdown. It only seemed appropriate to take a trip to escape the realities of the environment that I was currently in.

On November 20th 2015, the Friday before my birthday, I was let go from my job – A “promising” position at a startup company that I had only recently started working at in September after being at a large Publishing company prior.

Clearly, it wasn’t a great fit for me.

The night that I got let go, after experiencing hours of complete and utter shock, I had decided that I needed to get away. I needed to travel. I needed to escape.

Please note, to fully comprehend what led to my course of action in taking this trip, I must summarize the events that took place prior. The following situations were brewing in the months leading up to my trip:

  • I left a stable job
  • I started a new job
  • I reconnected with my ex-boyfriend
  • I disconnected from my ex-boyfriend
  • I got into a 2-month long argument with my sister
  • I reconnected (again) with my ex-boyfriend in the wake of the Paris attacks
  • I re-disconnected with my ex-boyfriend
  • I got let go from my job
  • I turned 25

A person can only withstand so much before they reach their tipping point. And for me, I was just about there.

On November 21st, the day after getting let go, I spent 6 hours booking one-way flights from New Jersey, to Denver, to Los Angeles, then back home to New York City.

I left on Friday, November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving and just returned a few days ago, this past Thursday morning.

It wasn’t a long trip, but it was enough. 6 days in Denver and Los Angeles. It was exactly the right amount of time that I needed to process exactly what had happened in the past few months.

When I arrived at Denver International Airport, I hit the ground running, as I typically do when I travel. Whenever I’m in a different place, I always want to do anything and everything in order to take complete advantage of the time that I have wherever I may be. And boy, did I do that. To summarize the events in Colorado, this is what I was able to accomplish in 4 days (And these are only the events that I’m at liberty to disclose):

When I said goodbye to my friends on Monday, I was sad to go, but overwhelmed with excitement for the second part of my trip to Los Angeles. And here is a summary of the events that happened during my 3 days in California:

In the time that it took for me to emotionally breakdown, I was inadvertently able to revive myself through this trip.

Looking back, although this trip was much needed and an extremely pivotal point in my upcoming year(s) of growth, I must say that I am most grateful for the fact that it was such a safe and successful journey. On my last day in Los Angeles, the San Bernardino shooting also happened. I was an hour-distance from San Bernardino, California. I had no idea that was happening at the time, but I am now aware that I could have been and I thank God that I wasn’t.

You never know what’s going to happen in life. In a second, everything can change. Good things happen, bad things happen. You can never fully prepare for the obstacles that are thrown in your way. The best you can do is get through it and hopefully come out stronger.

At 25, I’m still alive. I’m still breathing. I’m still healthy. I still have much more living to do and I know I will come out of this stronger than ever.

The Re-Return

I am no stranger to the on-again-off-again relationship. Up until recently, I’ve been dealing with the same scenario for almost two years. Even now that I’ve “ended it” once again, I still question myself and wonder if I’m going to dig myself into the same hole that I have been attempting to crawl out of for the past two years.

I’m a serial re-returner. Even outside of my aforementioned on-again-off-again relationship, I tend to follow the same pattern of revisiting old memories, summoning ghosts from my past, and resuming old habits. As they say, old habits die hard.
 
When my ex-boyfriend and I broke up for the umpteenth time back this past June, I did what any typical broken-hearted girl would do. I went into an extremely deep and depressing period of Netflix binge-watching. You may be wondering what was my choice poison – Well, it was Grey’s Anatomy. Classic, I know.
 
I’ve never actually gotten through a majority of the seasons. I usually stop myself at some point halfway through once I’ve realized that I’ve had enough of suffering in silence. However, there was one quote in a particular episode that struck me, when Meredith Grey was narrating. She asks the question, 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 

This question really resonated with me and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time as I was wallowing what may be my 8th or 9th cycle of post break-up depression. Right then and there, I noticed, I was doing it again. I was re-returning. I was re-returning by going back to a show that I typically use as my routine pick-me-up whenever I’m sad. I was re-returning by thinking of my ex-boyfriend again. And it always follows the same pattern.

I’m a slave to the familiar. A clinger. I tend to hold onto things and people as tightly as possible, dismissing the reality of hindsight bias, which is when you look back at a particular situation and say to yourself, “It wasn’t all that bad” (even though it really was at the time).
 
So, I had to ask myself Meredith Grey’s question of 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 
To be quite frank, I honestly don’t know because apparently I always lean towards feeling the pain of old wounds that I never allow to fully heal.
 
Albert Einstein once said, 
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
Even as I am quoting this universal genius, I am already aware that I’ve quoted him in past writing which proves that I am, in fact, an insane person for continuously repeating my own history by going back to old habits.
 
I wonder, what makes us so afraid of creating new wounds? Old wounds aren’t any less painful than new ones. If anything, old wounds are actually more painful in the sense that re-opening them continues to make the scar worse until you are so far damaged that you’re actually incapable of creating new wounds. 
 
Re-opening old wounds, re-returning to those things and people who have hurt us, increases our risk for paralysis and that just terrifies me to my core.
 
If you ever observe children as they are running or playing, they don’t have that fear of getting hurt. They just do what they please and risk the pain because they are resilient and they can heal quicker than us adults can.
 
I’m afraid that I have re-opened too many old wounds to the point where I really am afraid of creating new ones. I’m afraid that I’m becoming that broken, cynical, scarred person that I once dreaded becoming.
 
Adulthood is nothing like I had expected it to be. I never imagined that the plans I had set out for myself wouldn’t go as I anticipated. I never imagined that the people I cared so deeply about would hurt me so much. I never imagined that I would even allow people to hurt me so badly.
 
But, I did. And I still am.
 
They say that time heals all wounds. Well, I’ve learned that time alone doesn’t do that phrase justice. You, as an individual, also have to make a conscious effort to protect yourself by leaving old wounds alone and allowing time to take its course.

Tracks

One of my best friends got married to her boyfriend of five years this past weekend. It was a profound milestone in her and her husband’s lives. Moreover, it was a huge milestone in my life as well because I have been there throughout the entirety of their relationship, from the very first time they met to this very day. To witness their relationship grow into what it is now is truly a remarkable thing.

As more and more of my friends are moving further along with their lives and taking those next steps of life-changing decisions such as getting engaged, getting married, and relocating, it really puts things into perspective for my life. As happy as I am for my friends, it also brings me great sadness to know that things will never be the same again.

Last night, I was looking through old photos, reminiscing on memories, and replaying those moments in my head. I tried hard to soak up as much of what I remember as I could, but I know that living in the past is no way to live.

I’ve never been one to settle for less than I want or deserve and I’ve always wanted more in my life. I’m not sure if that makes me greedy or ambitious, but as I look back at my life decisions, I’m starting to question whether or not I should have just stopped on one of those tracks and taken my life in another direction; a more stable direction.

When I decided to take a job in New York City, pack up, and leave, I imagined an endless amount of opportunities and adventures. To no surprise, I received exactly that. I’ve had amazing times in this city throughout the past three years. I have encountered many unbelievable experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I just stayed in New Jersey. And for that, I am grateful. But at the same time, it’s hard not to picture what my life could have been like if I had made different choices. It makes me wonder what would have happened if I had stayed put and grew with certain people instead of left them behind.

Of course, I’ll never know now. Even if I try to go back and re-live certain situations, it will never work out the way it would have if I had just ran with it during that time. I have already grown and I can’t unlearn the things I have learned. I can only hope for new doors to open and to finally find the person that stops me on my tracks in order to create a new one together.

It’s a special bond you create when you grow with certain people, not only romantic relationships, but in friendships. As I realize and greatly appreciate the people who have stayed by my side throughout all my years of ups and downs, I am thankful to have never left them behind even during those times where I was straying too far.

As you get older, life seems to be moving quicker. It’s important to make sure you don’t let go of the people who have helped you get you to where you are now.