Life to Live

Me Too

When I was 17 years old I started my first job. I wasn’t exactly excited to be thrown into the work force, but I was looking forward to the money. I started my job with a positive outlook, I would be getting free food while working, discounts on my day off, and best of all, I would finally be able to financially support a social life. On the first week I started working there, I noticed that I was heavily out-numbered by men, the only other females there were my boss and a few female chefs. I wasn’t used to be surrounded by adult males, so I wasn’t aware of what is considered appropriate behavior. On the first day, I noticed I was being stared at, but I thought it was because I was new. Soon the staring became a constant thing until finally one of the men approached me.

He was in his early forties, and I had just turned 17. I was young, and I looked young. I was cleaning my section, getting ready to head out for the day, when he came in. He gave me a smirk, one of those “I’ve been eying you” looks and immediately I became uncomfortable. As he walked by me to punch in, he placed his hand on my lower back and said, “watch out sweetie.” My heart dropped, I felt a queasiness in my stomach, and I no longer felt safe. I cleaned faster, hoping to finish before he talked to me again, but it was too late.

“What’s your name?” He said to me as he walked closer to me.

I attempted to slowly back away from him, finally muttering out my name quietly.

He leaned in closer, “what was that?”

“Dahlia…” I said louder, scooting back as I said it.

He proceeded to ask my age, and when I said I was 17, he said “oh dang, when do you turn 18?”

I told him I had just turned 17, and he made a joke about waiting for me to turn 18.

This may seem like an innocent conversation, I thought so at first, but soon the conversations turned more uncomfortable.

I tried to avoid him as best I could, it fairly easy because we worked opposite shifts. But that in-between period, that hour before he had to leave, that was my worst nightmare. Somedays he would keep it casual, small talk, asking me how I was doing in school. Most days he would make inappropriate comments. He would tell me I was beautiful, and that he wished he had someone as beautiful as me in his life. He told me his wife wasn’t satisfying him and that he was thinking about leaving her. He asked me constantly if I was 18 yet, and would act disappointed if I said no. One day he asked me if I had a boyfriend and when I said I did, he asked me to describe him. When I refused, he accused my boyfriend of not satisfying me.  I did nothing to provoke him, in fact, I avoided him. However, he always cornered me and asked me uncomfortable questions.

One day he got me so scared, I never wanted to go to work with him again.

He cornered me and asked me “Hey Dahlia, were you born here?”

I tried to squeeze by him as I responded quickly with a “yes.”

He followed me and asked “really? That’s good to now. Now tell me, if you were 18, would you marry me?”

I shook my head no, to afraid to say anything.

“No?”

I shook my head again.

“Why not?”

I was frozen, all I could do was shake my head no.

“Is it because you have a boyfriend?”

“yeah” I finally let out softly.

He cackled and said, “dump him, I’d treat you better any way”

I didn’t laugh, I just awkwardly smiled and tried to walk away again.

In all the time I worked there, my relationship with my boss was not the greatest, I was too scared of her to tell her anything. I thought this behavior was my fault, that I had somehow given him the wrong message. I thought because I never stopped it head-on, I had given consent to him sexually harassing me. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if this constituted as sexual harassment as he implied he wanted to sleep with me, but he never straight out said it. I wasn’t sure if this behavior was inappropriate, but I was too afraid to tell anyone. I suffered for five months of this until finally he got fired for missing a shift. He was finally gone, so you would think I’d be relieved, but he left an uneasiness in my brain. He left me with a loss of enjoyment of my job because every day I was terrified he would show up to see me. I was terrified he would wait outside of the restaurant and attack me. I was afraid he would never stop trying to talk to me. And that uneasiness that I felt was not my fault. It was his. He sexually harassed me, and it was not okay. It took years for me to admit that, it took years to realize I was not the problem. And if you have been in a similar situation, you are not at fault. #metoo

 

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Life to Live

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.

At the end of 2017, I was really excited for the new year. I had so much to look forward to in 2018. Then 2018 came and kicked my butt real hard. I don’t know what it was, but suddenly everything just seemed to suck the life out of me, like some weird vampire. 2018 was a vampire that fed on happiness. It was strange because I have everything I could possibly want:  my family got the house we’ve always wanted, I got the job I thought I deserved, I was making a lot more money,  I loved my classes, I loved my coworkers, etc. So why wasn’t I happy?

I told myself I NEEDED to happy and I criticized myself whenever I was not. So I pretended, that everything was okay, that I was happy, that I didn’t need help. I told myself I had survived a year without medication, that I didn’t need it. But no matter how much I told myself I was fine, nothing was fine.

I used to tell my friends whenever I had a breakdown, but eventually, I felt one-noted. I kept it to myself, I knew they weren’t my therapists. So I bottled it up, I told no one that the dark feelings I felt my freshman year of college had come back. I didn’t tell anyone that I lost all motivation. I didn’t tell anyone that I would cry, a lot. That I would get home from work and collapse onto my bed and just lay there for hours knowing I had plenty of things to do. I didn’t tell anyone that I lost all hope and trust in everything and everyone.

Then I broke down. I cried at work. It was over something stupid but suddenly the picture I created in my mind, that everything was okay, it burned down. I remember sitting in the fitting room at work trying to pull myself together, when my coworker called me over to ask me a question. I walked over to him and answered his question, trying not to make it obvious that I had been crying. He stared at me questioningly, and I quickly tried to walk away before he noticed. It was too late though, because as I began to walk away he said, “hey dahlia…” I looked at him and smiled to try to sell it. I don’t think he bought it because in a sincere voice, more sincere than i had ever heard him use before, he asked: “are you okay?”

I lost it. I started crying again. Those three words broke me.  And for the first time in a long time, I realized I was not okay.

He began to apologize, but I told him it wasn’t his fault, that it was something stupid, but I would be okay.  And in the moment I didn’t know if I was lying, I didn’t know if I would ever be okay, all I knew was that I needed help.

I realized, that I needed to face the facts. I need to admit I was not okay and I needed to learn that it was okay. That it’s okay to need extra help. Because humans aren’t perfect and they shouldn’t be expected to be perfect.

I’m far from being okay, but I know somehow I will get there. Even if it means quitting the job I love, I need to figure out what is best for my health.

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Life to Live

Cha-Cha-Changes!

It’s been said time and time again, “if you’re bored with your life, change it.” Now that may sound manageable in theory but in practice, it’s hard to get yourself out of a cycle. How do you stop yourself from reverting back to a routine? It’s hard, especially because change can be scary. If you’re like me, you don’t adapt easily to change, so you try to avoid it as much as possible. So, what do you do when you become bored with your life, but are too scared to change it?

Here’s some advice from someone who has a bad habit of getting into a routine:

  1. Make Small Changes- whether it’s just walking down a different street, listening to a new band, or ordering something new at a restaurant, change doesn’t have to be drastic. One of my personal favorites is going to a new dessert place, and trying everything on their menu. I do this with ice cream places, froyo shops, even smoothie stands. It’s simple enough to actually do and cheap enough that if you don’t like something, it won’t be the end of the world. I just go in and order something new every time. Sometimes, I even discover that I actually like something I wouldn’t have otherwise tried.
  2. Set A Goal- if you actually write down a goal, it’ll be easier to envision yourself doing it. It’s one thing to have a thought, but it’s another to actually go for it. Once you write your goal down, it’s no longer just a thought, it’s something to work towards. For instance, I always say to myself, “I’m going to write more,” but life’s stressfulness creates an idleness so overwhelming, I end up not following through. However, If I write down a realistic goal such as “I’m going to write thirty minutes a day” and specifically plan out time to write in my schedule, I’ll become self-motivated.
  3. Re-Fall In Love- rediscover a forgotten love. It can be something as simple as reconnecting with an old friend, watching an old favorite, or even picking up a forgotten hobby. Sometimes the easiest way to spice up your life is by delving into your past and pulling out a lost interest. Because sometimes, you didn’t actually lose interest, you just prioritized other things in your life. I personally used to love acrylic painting, it was relaxing and self-fulfilling. Unfortunately, for me, life got too busy, I placed painting on a shelf and never returned to it. I have recently had a yearning to paint again, so I did. Just out of the blue, I picked up some brushes and paints and began to re-fall in love with painting. It created a change, that wasn’t really a change at. But it was fulfilling enough to get me out of my routine.

So if you’re ever bored with life, find your own way of changing.

-d.c.

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Life to Live

Risky

 

When I was fifteen, I started to gain in interest in Hispanic music. I asked some of my friends to recommend a list of songs to listen to, and received a pretty lengthy list. As I sat in my bedroom, listening to the songs on my laptop, I listened to every single beat. Then I would listen to the songs again and listen to the words. One song in particular, “Antes Muerta Que Sencilla,” left me a little confused. Being Hispanic, I knew that it translated to “I rather be dead than simple.” However, my young mind didn’t understand what that meant as I took it too literal. I had only heard the word as a description for an object, I.E. a basic dress, nothing fancy. I asked my mother what the title meant by “simple”, and why the singer wanted to avoid being “simple.”  My mom laughed at me, and said “no you dummy, she isn’t saying ‘simple’ as in undecorated, or unembellished. She means simple as in plain, boring, etc. She’s saying she rather be dead than be a boring person.”

After receiving a clarification, I went back to my bedroom and laid in my bed. I rather be dead than boring, I thought to myself. I knew what that meant in theory, but I couldn’t figure out if I was boring. Up until that point I did everything my parents told me, I never tried to venture out and explore my interests. I never went outside my comfort zone, I had always wanted to try doing so many things and I never actually tried to do them. Was I boring? Because I never took any risks. And if I was boring, isn’t that the same as being dead? Had I ever actually lived?

I was boring, I lived inside the box. I didn’t want to, but it was just so much easier to be in the box than outside. I was scared, I didn’t want to get hurt. That day, I told myself I needed to try to do my own thing. So, I did, any time I was too scared to do something I always wanted to do I would remind myself “I rather be dead than boring.” Half the time, I’m still scared, and I still avoid taking risks, but the other half, I just go for it. It feels so much better to try to do something and fail, than to just sit and wonder what my life would have turned out to be.  I know that even if I fall on my face, I’ll have the lesson to take with me and the story to tell. It also helps that I have such a wonderful friend in my life to push me when I’m too scared to take the dive. Because almost always, I rather take the dive.

-d.c.

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Life to Live

Cuffin’ Season

The loneliest seasons for single people are fall and winter. Fall is the beginning of a dating season, with corn mazes, haunted houses, and Halloween parties. It’s easy to get sucked into the appeal of dating, and so, it’s easier to be let-down when dating turns into a disaster. That dating season slowly transitions into winter, one of the most intimate season of all. Besides date opportunities such as ice skating and ballets, it also brings the holidays. With holidays comes holiday parties, gift exchanges, and dinners with parents. Holiday parties can be a drag when everyone else brings dates and you find yourself alone, stirring your drink, checking your phone to pass the time. Its even worse when you check your phone, and nothing is there. So, you scroll through social media a thousand times, wondering if you should make a conscious effort to date again. Or at least that’s how it goes for me.

During the spring and summer, I am comfortable being single, in fact, I quite enjoy it. I get to take the time to really spend time with myself, indulge in everything that brings me happiness, and I spend time with whomever I’d like. It really is liberating, for me at least, to be single because I am subconsciously a people pleaser. I end up sacrificing my happiness for others’ and anytime I start dating someone new, I find myself changing my quirks and habits for them. Eventually, it becomes emotionally exhausting, especially for someone who isn’t as mentally stable as others may be. I know myself, I know I am not in a place mentally to be dating because I know I am still growing as a person. I’m still learning about myself, finding out what I like, what I don’t like, what triggers my anxiety, and how to control my anxiety without negatively affecting those around me. I don’t want to infringe someone else happiness with my own struggles, so I know I should wait until I’m in a good place before I drag someone into my mess of a life. So then how come every time fall or winter comes around I find myself questioning whether I should start dating again?

It recently became clear to me why when I stumbled upon a video by a guy named Michael Persad, who talked about this exact dilemma. He called it “Cuffin Season” which basically means it is the season when people are desperate to get into relationships because it’s the holidays and because everyone else is coupling up. As much I hate to admit it, I fall for “cuffing season” every time. Not so much because I’m jealous of others and I want their relationship. But because there are so many fun things to do and I have no one to do them with. I want to go to fun activities like corn mazes and I want to dance at parties, but unfortunately for me, I’m stuck sitting out. And I acknowledge it is stupid and selfish want, to date someone only because I want someone to lug around places, but its human nature. We were made to find a mate and procreate and create bonds with each other. So, it isn’t abnormal for me want to go out and have fun with another human being.

But like I said, I know better than to drag someone else into my life before I can learn how to cope with my emotions positively.  So, while I fall for the appeal of “cuffin’ season” I know better than to go through with anything. And I just remind myself that I am okay being single and that its okay to be alone.

-d.c.

 

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Life to Live

3 things I’ve learned in 2017

2017 was a hell of a year. I think I’ve found who I want to be & who I want to be surrounded by. Here are the things I’ve learned that got me to where I am this day in this year.

1. Let go of toxic people – even if they were once the closest friend you had. I had a lot of trouble trying to let go of people who changed, had different outlooks than me, or treated me badly. Most of them were close friends at one point and I just couldn’t stand them but I also couldn’t unfriend them. Deep down, when I saw their name, I was filled with bad memories but when I tell myself I should let go of them, I am flooded with good memories. Those good memories never overcame the bad ones, so why did I still try to hold onto the friendship? They hurt me in ways I wouldn’t have hurt them, or they just didn’t put effort into the friendship but always blamed me for it. I decided it’s time to let go. I was holding onto the past instead of the present. I kept thinking of how they hurt me and it was a constant reminder every time I saw or heard their name. Unfollowing them on social medias was the best decision because once I hit unfollowed, I would no longer be in contact with them or see how they’re doing. I don’t see their name everyday and it was such a relief. It was probably the best decision for me mental health wise!

2. DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, NOT WHAT YOU THINK OTHERS WANT OR WHAT WILL MAKE YOU “BETTER” THAN OTHERS. This was the biggest thing I’ve learned this year. BIGGEST. And the most important lesson for myself + my future! I grew up thinking I wanted to be a doctor, because I grew up in a traditional Asian family + culture. It’s either a doctor, dentist, or a lawyer. Nothing else mattered. I had that engraved into my head since birth… probably even since I was a little egg. Lol I don’t know. But I pursued it all the way into my third year of College. I worked at a hospital and I saw myself there, because I liked the hierarchy. I liked how it sounded when I say “I want to be a doctor.” I liked how it sounded when I said I’m a pre-med student. It felt so prestigious and everyone was always impressed that I felt that it was what I wanted due to status. I realized it wasn’t what I wanted when I took away the status of it. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something “more.” “More” meant something that wasn’t the norm. I didn’t want to sit and diagnose patients all day. I was just interested in the medical jargon and the human body – nothing more. I wanted to help others in a different way. I still haven’t realized what that way is yet, but I know I’m not interested in being a doctor and I don’t know if I ever was. I think the status of pursuing / being a doctor was what I was really interested in. So I took that big step and dropped all of my pre med courses. I took courses that spiked my interests and it was the best decision I’ve made, school wise. I felt like I was creating my future, instead of living in the one my family created for me. It was definitely hard to come to this decision and realization, but it’s the best epiphany.

3. Have the mindset of who is good enough for you, instead of if you’re good enough for them. Why would you have to worry if you’re good enough for them? If you’re worrying about that, chances are, it’s not gonna be a healthy friendship/relationship. However, when I mean “if they’re good enough for you,” I don’t mean be shallow. I mean know what you deserve. Don’t settle for less – even on friendships. If you think your friends are rude and do not care for you, drop them. They’re not good enough for you. They’re not good for you.

4. Be kind to others. I know this isn’t really a lesson, but it’s a reminder. You don’t know what anyone is going through constantly. They may look as if they got their life together, but in reality that might not be the case. Just treat them with kindness because you never know if that’ll make a difference in the length of their life.

5. It’s okay to have a mentor or to ask for help. If you’re confused, ask a question. Don’t just keep it to yourself and hope you’ll figure it out when someone next to you might know the answer. I learned a lot of things this year from my boyfriend, Jose. He basically taught me everything I wrote for this post. I would always go to him when I’m confused or need an opinion about something. Don’t let your pride or ego prevent you from reaching out / asking for help.

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Life to Live

I’ve changed my major three times in two years

I went to college with the aspiration of becoming a doctor. I started out wanting to major in chemistry because I loved it so much in high school. After meeting with the advisor, I was uninterested in it and overwhelmed, so I switched to biology. I took a lot of biology courses and I hated it – even though a part of me wanted to love it. I had friends who took the course with me, and of course, they loved it. So I just kept telling myself I should like it too. I studied hard, but it wasn’t enough. I hated the material, it bored me, and I just didn’t want to try. I thought every biology major was like this; they hated their major but only put up with it cause it’ll get them into med school. One day, I decided to meet with a pre-professional advisor. She asked me “why are you majoring in this if you hate it?” I told her it was because it’ll get me into med school. She asked me is that the only reason? And I said yeah, why else?? We kept talking and she showed me new majors to see if it’s something that I like AND it meets the requirements for med school. I decided to give my new major a try for a semester: Health, Society, and policy.

I fell in LOVE with it!! Honestly, why didn’t I switch earlier?! I learned about healthcare in a new aspect, something you don’t get to learn in cell bio! I was amazed by how much I loved my major so much that I enjoyed all of my courses and passed it with flying colors. I never dozed off in my classes, unlike when I was in my biology classes (I would always be on my phone in those classes.) It was just so refreshing to learn about something I like!

So here’s a lesson: major in something you love, even if it’s not the easiest route to getting into your pre-professional career. Also, don’t think you have to like that major because your friends do. They’re not you!

-jd

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