Achievement Unlocked: Adulting

I wanted to share some awesome news with you all, and in order for this news to have some level of significant impact, I feel I should start from the beginning.

It was no secret that in the last few years I was not happy with where I was in life. I never thought that my hometown felt like home, I wasn’t happy with my career, and I felt utterly trapped and alone. I did what I could to get out, but there were a few opportunities that slipped through my fingers and I felt even sadder with each that flew by.

I was in a very toxic environment at the time, completely unhappy and I was even breaking down often. Luckily, I had several pillars of support in my life, some were happy that I was trying to move on with my life and others who were upset that I wanted to leave them behind  but still encouraged me to follow my dreams. They were the best. Now, I had no idea where I was meant to be, only that I would have the biggest regret if I stayed.

I made several attempts to make it to Austin. It was a city that I had visited several times over the last 5 years, and it felt like a healthier and more positive atmosphere overall. I figured… why not try to make that my new home? And try I did. I can’t go into details, but there were more than a handful of times where I received messages or calls indicating that I didn’t have enough experience or other qualifications. I never tried to get my hopes up during interview processes, but at the same time, there was always some level of expectation of success because you did your best to kick ass. But that success never came. There were even a couple of times where I felt like I was slapped in the face because I thought passion, experience, and loyalty would help me achieve my goals. No such luck. I was told my long term ambitions weren’t good enough. It took me a while to get back on my feet after that.

But I continued networking and making connections. I continued to learn all I could from my peers and role models. And even though it was hard to wake up in the mornings at times, I just kept hoping onto the belief that one day, things will work out for me.

Because of my desire to leave home, and having a couple of carrots dangled in front of me, I took a risk and didn’t renew the lease on my apartment. Not gonna lie. That was one of the most brutal things I’ve ever done to myself. Didn’t renew for a few months, opportunities slipped away, then dove into a 6 month lease, then didn’t renew again because I had a couple more things sent my way. It was a weird feeling because I was both being hopeful and making myself even sadder at the same time. If you’ve never leased month to month, it essentially adds 30% of your base rent on top of your well… base rent. And when you renew a lease for 12 -16 months, that is usually the cheapest base rent to owe, however, every year you stay in a complex, they raise the rent at least 10% every year. And if you don’t immediately renew like I did, you don’t get that 10% hike, you get lumped into the “industry average” and that went even higher. Like I said, it was pretty brutal.

I was pretty miserable at this point. Even my parents began to notice a change in my behavior. I was even contemplating talking to a professional at one point. First question I would have asked was “am I wasting my life for something that will never happen?” and the worst part is, I was pretty sure they couldn’t answer that.

After what seemed like half my life that had gone by, I found something I qualified for! And it was in Austin! I also knew someone who could give me a great referral, so I went for it. And holy crap, they contacted me back. Four phone interviews and one test later, I was on my way to meet people in person. Only, I couldn’t, I found later. I won’t go into details, but there was absolutely no bad blood whatsoever. We kept in touch and I even become friends with the people who were trying to recruit me. It was a positive experience and I wished with all my heart that our paths would cross again. Five months later. I got that glorious message.

Literally, a few weeks before I received this message, I already made the decision to go to Austin and not look back. I told my apartment complex that I was moving, and I was talking to temp agencies in Austin. I was so depressed and sad, I just decided to make the leap because I couldn’t stay in my hometown anymore as I was. Then that message came, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I said yes, agreeing to a contract, and there was such a weight that was lifted from me, I momentarily forgot that I was packing up my life and leaving everything I knew behind me.

Three amazing friends drove with me and the moving truck to Austin in November (shoutout to Mary, Bret, and Chey), and they were kind enough to even unpack all of my things in my new apartment. I started work a week later, and I couldn’t believe how NICE everyone was. My team was and is still awesome and the best people I could ever hope to work with, my department is full of talented and wonderful people, and the company culture itself made me feel so welcome like I was a real person and not just a body or a number.  I was in disbelief for the first couple months.

Then a couple more months went by, and I wondered what would become of me. The reality is, I was under contract, so there was no guarantee that I would stay on board. I started losing a teeny tiny bit of sleep due to the anxiety and fear of having to start this process all over again. I was afraid of losing the best job I ever had in my life. I was afraid of losing my team because they were more than my peers, they were my friends. My contract was due to end in May. I was sweating bullets toward mid-April. I could do the job, and I did it well. I always gave them my best, and I always made sure to take care of my team and any others I worked with. I hope that they would keep me. But in the back of my mind, I felt the career teachings of my hometown, that dreams were meant to be crushed.

I got another message. I went through four more interviews. And then I received my official offer letter.

I was driving home that day, and ended up at a stoplight. I cried so hard. And I laughed so loud.

I couldn’t tell you how scared I was for the majority of 2016. I was downright terrified at times, and I was calm and collected during others. That is, until reality set in and I thought “OMG. I’m making a mistake.” But I went with it. I went with my gut, and I went with 85% of my parents’ blessing (Mama Fried Rice was pretty heartbroken), and I followed my dreams. Somehow, it worked out.

So now I will always be an advocate of if you feel that your life is pulling you in a direction, you owe it to yourself to at least see what’s there. Will it actually pay off in the end? It might, it might not. There’s no promise that it will. But I always felt I would regret it if I didn’t at least try.

So May 1st was my official first day as (in my eyes) a full fledge adult.

Guys, it was so worth taking that risk.

EdcuALFN (1)

Moving Onto the Next Adventure in My Life

I was going to vlog this, but then eczema decided to visit my face thus I have put away the camera for the time being.

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter, you know that I am moving out of my hometown and going to Austin! This is a really big step for me. I am genuinely scared how this will affect my life. It’s not a negative feeling, but more a feeling of excitement mixed with nerves and uncertainty. For some of you, this may not seem like a big deal, but allow me to elaborate on some key points.

I have never left home. Whether my destination is Austin, Seattle, NC, or somewhere in Cali, my feelings would be the same. I was born and raised in Vegas, and I have never lived anywhere else. Seeing that I am about to enter the years of an inevitable mid-life crisis (half joking), I figured it was time to see what else life had to offer. Yes, moving out of the parents’ home is a form of independence, but I believe taking it a step further is healthy and essential to helping one grow. Does it mean I do not love my family? Course not. Does it mean I will forget my roots? Not at all. What this does mean is that I will be able to continue to grow in ways that my hometown could not provide.

I was born in Vegas, but I never felt like I belonged here.  Even as a kid, I felt out of place. A while ago, my dad admitted to me that when he picked me up from kindergarten class, he felt sad because I was always alone. I didn’t play with the other kids; I just kept to myself and stayed in my own corner. I vaguely remember that. I remember being teased because I thought differently than the rest of the class. It’s a silly memory, but I remember the teacher asking use toothpicks and marshmallows to make squares. I wanted to make a circle. And I wanted to be in the center, so the marshmallow circle could act as a barrier between myself and everyone else.

Years later, I eventually came out of my shell, but that really only meant that I could mask my loneliness and blend into a crowd better. It was hard for me to find a group of people that understood my growing interests. The few friends that I do have are always supportive of me, but even fewer of them really understood why I delved into things like conventions, social media, cosplay, community management, and video games. I could share that love with very few people, so I thought moving to a city where that was naturally abundant would be healthier for me.

I tried different circles, and while I found people who I would be friends with for years on end, I didn’t fit into the overall atmosphere. They weren’t bad environments; they just didn’t match me for one reason or another. Eventually, I realized that maybe I should try living in a different city to see if I could actually find a place that felt like home.

I want to be in a place where I could learn more than what I know. That sounds vain, I know, but I want to learn new skills, and have different experiences than what Vegas can provide. This ties in with the previous point of wanting to be around people who are like-minded. I like to create, collaborate, and be taken under the wing of a well rounded mentor. I like knowledge, but I gravitate to very specific knowledge. The casino industry doesn’t hold my interest as much as the video game/production industry. And while it’s true that you should always obtain knowledge and experience wherever you happen to be, I want to have some control over what specifically will affect my life.

Dating. 

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I am scared. And that’s not a bad thing. In fact, the more scared I am, the more I want to make the leap into the new chapter. There are certainly a lot of unknowns, and I have no idea how this will work out long term, but I feel that it is certainly worth the risk of letting go of everything I am comfortable with right now. Honestly, I could not say that I lived to the fullest if I just stayed in same place for the entirety of my life.

Whenever I feel frightened to the point of being metaphorically paralyzed, I just think to myself “I don’t know if what I’m doing is the right move, but I know staying is definitely the wrong one.” And I’m good. And I continue on my path in moving forward with my life.

Austin, see you soon. ❤

Asking For Help Is Not a Sign of Weakness

I was always taught that I should be able to take care of myself, that I need to be able to look out for number one because no one else would. In truth, that is not an unfair or unrealistic statement, but I realized that in my years of adulthood, I have a very difficult time asking for assistance when it comes to matters of life and the heart. This mentality somewhat ties into my Paladins write-up about not wanting to be a burden to another person or admitting that you cannot always be the strong one that others look up to.

There is a large portion of my life that is dedicated to connecting with people whether that be through professional or personal connections. I enjoy networking and I find it rewarding when I cross paths with someone who has similar interests as myself. One of the best things about meeting and e-meeting people is that you establish connections all over the world. Even better, you find that many of these people are genuinely good people.

Fun fact: I don’t like bothering people.

Time and time again, I have conversations that goes like this:

Me: Yeah, that part of my life was incredibly rough. I don’t know how I survived that.

Friend: Why didn’t you ask for help???

Me: I didn’t want to bug people with my issues.

Friend: DUDE. Ask for help! Friend help out friends. That’s what we do!

Similar conversations have happened in the past, and I can’t count how many times they’ve occurred. I would say that my reluctance to ask for help is comprised of many feelings and emotions including stubbornness, pride, and fear. The last one is a big one. I   have two fears when it comes to asking people for help. One, I’m scared of being rejected and two, I’m scared that some form of payment is expected at a later time even though this help is being offered to me under the guise of friendship/ the goodness of someone’s heart. There have been many times in my life when accepting help from someone has backfired on me later down the road. It’s essentially “well, I did this for during that time you needed me. Now you owe me.” That is a very scary statement if you think about it.

I’ve learned to shed the poisons out of my life, but a small level of paranoia stays in the back of my mind. In present day, I find myself in a pivotal moment in my life. I know what I want to do, and I know what I need to do, but I have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot do it alone. As much as I want to be the epitome of unwavering strength, I have to think about my life in realistic terms. I have to understand that yes, I am strong, but I don’t have to carry the weight of life and the world on my own every waking moment.

I asked for help. And I’m getting it. And while I’m still scared, I don’t feel nearly as alone as I did. I am reminded that I am loved, and that I have good people in my life. These people understand me, and understand the difficulties and the hardships I am experiencing. I had a good talk with a friend and she told me she believed in me. I was nearly brought to tears because I had felt so much weight lifted off of me. I could literally breathe easier. And she’s not the only one who is willing to stop moments of her life for me. That hit me so hard, and realizing that these people care that much about me made me feel like I can take anything on. How is that weak? It isn’t. It was empowering. Knowing when you need that little extra bit of help, and lowering your guard in order to initiate the request is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength. It’s, I suppose, a form of baring yourself and allowing vulnerability for a moment or two.

I am in a very odd cross section in my life, and I don’t know if what I wrote made any sense. I’ve been thrown a lot of obstacles in the past year, and I am finding out more and more about myself and how I want to live my life. Hurdles, epiphanies, heartache, disappointment, and doubt have filled my mind in recent days, but I buckled down and told myself I can push through all of it. I just need a little help.

And I’m getting it.

And I am grateful for it. Forever and always.

Paladins. I Don’t Necessarily Mean the D&D Ones.

I’ve had quite a few of these conversations lately, and that has lead to me writing about this topic. Everyone has a rock, someone they lean on for strength, support, and encouragement. We all have one or two, and in truth, it’s healthy to be able to vent to someone who is wiling to listen to you and not pass any judgement.

What isn’t healthy is if that is the only types of interactions we have with these specific people. There should be a healthy balance in any type of relationship, but once it becomes incredibly one-sided, it starts becoming toxic. People who are rocks are essentially paladins. They are altruistic, empathetic, and selfless to the point where they won’t openly admit when they themselves are crumbling because they don’t want to show the people who rely on them that they can no longer be supportive. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “it’s nice being able to talk to someone because I’m usually the one people come to.”

Imagine being the journal, the ear, the foundation to multiple people who are struggling for various reasons. Now imagine instinctively carrying that weight in your mind and heart even though the conversation ended with “thanks for listening.” Paladins don’t shake those conversations, those worries or those burdens off.  Paladins accept these as their own because they feel it’s their way of contributing to life, to the world, and to their loved ones. It becomes part of them; that’s part of being empathetic.

And as much as paladins don’t want to admit it, even they struggle as well. They have their own share of misfortune at times just like everyone else, but they don’t like to tell others about it because they understand what that weight can do to someone. It’s a vicious one-way street for them more than it is a cycle.  They want to remain and appear strong for those who rely on them, and they will only break down behind closed doors.

Why am I writing this? I want people to have an understanding of the paladins in their lives. This isn’t to make them feel guilty about venting to their pillars of support, far from, but this is more to help them understand that those pillars are people too. Allow them to recharge. Understand that they also need time away from the crazy of the world. No matter how much they hold things together, sometimes, they need to step back and take a breather. One of their flaws is that they won’t ask for this break because they believe that they have to be helpful 24/7. I write this for those who  may find themselves all of a sudden wondering why their rock may disappear for a while. I write this for those who may even be angered when one of their friends goes dark for a bit. I write this for those who may only come to their paladins when they need them. I write this for those who may be paladins themselves. There is no one reason I’m writing down these thoughts, but the overall intention is understanding.

It is possible that some people will read this and spin negativity out of it. They may assume that I am writing this to make people who have troubles feel guilty about talking to their friends about their issues and problems. I am not. And that is an entirely different topic of discussion. I am writing this post to shed some light on a perspective that isn’t always thought about. I will throw in, however, that if you are only coming to shed troubles and leave, I won’t back down from saying that treating paladins like that isn’t healthy and it is unfair. People may assume that I speak for everyone on both sides, but I do not. As with all of my posts, I speak for myself and my own experiences. People can feel however they want with my posts, but it is no secret that my intention is to help, not damage.

Bottom line is whatever situation you may be involved in currently, if you have a paladin in your life to help you along, I’m glad for that. As I wrote earlier, it’s healthy to be able to share your troubles with trusted friends. I think you can agree that we need more people like them in the world. I am only asking that you remember that while paladins seem unbreakable, they are human.

When the bad surrounds you, focus on the good in your life

I had a strange moment a couple days ago in which I experienced what people have deemed a “triggering event.” I am not sure what caused it but I did have to take a few moments to recover from it. I recalled a memory from MANY years ago, and it was actually something I had forgotten over time. I remember the hurt I felt, the embarrassment, the betrayal, the shock that this even happened to me. And worse yet, the people in my life at the time did nothing to help me. In fact, they didn’t want anything bad to happen to the other person, so I was asked to keep quiet. The incident attacked not only me as a woman, but me as an Asian American. I was written off. So I thought about that event from years ago, processing my feelings, analyzing each moment. And yes, I felt bad, but fast forward so many years later, I can now say that I can quickly recover from that memory. I’m happier, I’m stronger, and I am more in control of my life and my feelings.

Something, what helps me during these moments is to focus on all the good things about my life. There is a long list, and sometimes I forget about it. But I made this video to serve as a reminder that these good things do exist and they will continue to exist even when I am caught in a moment of weakness. Life will always be full of moments that are both wonderful and miserable, so it is up to you on how you react to them. Your perspective will best tested on occasion, and don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed! It’s okay. Just remember to step back, breathe and remember that you made it. You made it today.

I also made this video because I know I am not alone in feeling this way. So I say to you, the fact that you are here, watching this video, reading this journal, it proves that you are a survivor and that you conquered whatever it was that hurt you in the past. And whatever comes your way in the present, you will handle it with such grace and experience.

Stay strong.

Less than three you.

Story time with Jackie: The Flowerless Pot

My mom told me this story a long time ago and it hangs out in my mind palace until it needs to resurface and remind me that if you are a good and honest person, things will turn out well for you.

Long ago, a king was troubled as he was trying to decide who his responsibilities and lands will be passed to as he had no heir. He wasn’t long for this world, and he wanted to ensure his kingdom would be left to someone who was pure of heart, someone who wasn’t corrupt or of ill nature. After a long time of contemplation, he held a competition that was open to all his subjects.

In one of the smaller villages lived a young man. He was poor, but he was hard working and he cared for his mother. News of the king’s competition reached their village and the young man’s mother urged him to participate. The challenge was simple enough: everyone who entered will be given a pot and all they had to do was water it and grow whatever was planted inside. The person who had the most majestic plant in one month’s time will be chosen as the king’s successor.

The young man didn’t think he would win, but he wanted to make his mother happy, so he entered and received his pot. Every day he cared for his pot. He made sure he watered it and that it received enough sun, but no plant grew. As the days went by, he became saddened and upset. No matter what he did, his plant would not grow. His mother begged him to plant their own seeds in the pot so he would be able to display something at the palace. She didn’t want her son to be embarrassed when it was time for the people to show off their hard work. The young man refused. He continued to water the pot until the very last day of the competition.

When it was time to enter the palace and present to the king, the young man clutched his flowerless pot to his chest and waited his turn. Everyone around him had wonderful flowers to display and he was filled with self-doubt and sadness. He wondered what it was he did wrong, why nothing grew no matter what he did. When it was his turn to meet the king, he took a deep breath and showed the king his pot. “I am sorry, majesty. I could not grow anything. I have failed.”

When he looked up from his pot, he saw a huge smile on the king’s face. “My boy, you shall be the next king.” The young man was confused and baffled. “How? I failed!” The king shook his head. “I want my successor to be someone who has an honest heart, and you have just that.”

The young man looked down at his pot, still confused. “But there are so many beautiful flowers to choose from. Why choose someone who couldn’t even accomplish the simplest task?”

The king laughed. “Because all the pots we sent out had no seeds! Therefore, anyone who came in with flowers was dishonest and not trustworthy. You come here with nothing, but now I shall give you everything.”

And the young man ruled, well loved and adored by all his subjects, for many years.

It’s a scary thing when you condition yourself to be who you are not

When the lies you tell yourself become a reality and begin to condition your perception, drawing you away from the person you really are. There are different reasons why people do this to themselves. Most times, I’ve found, is that people do it to protect themselves. They tell themselves that if they think a certain way and behave a certain way, they place themselves in the best position to not feel pain or hurt later down the road. Example: someone’s dream come true would be to marry the love of his/her life. Because they’ve been hurt so many times, they convince themselves that marriage is wrong for them and there is no Mr/Ms Right.

I joke around saying that I have the physical appearance of a teenager but the cynicism of a 60 year old. Somewhere along the line, the latter stopped being a joke. I actually did convince myself of certain things and recent events made me realize that I’m not the person I really am supposed to be. I want to be a hopeful person, someone who looks forward to the future (and the people in it), someone who thinks about the unknown and is fearless. I used to be that very much when I was younger but my naïveté taught me very harsh lessons.

During recent years, I became numb to matters of the heart. And I’ve recently become that way even moreso and it didn’t hit me until the last few days. That’s not really who I am though life has conditioned me to be the exact opposite of my natural self. I convinced myself that if I just shut down, then no one could really hurt me. This spans across all aspects of life, not just the romantic side. What I didn’t realize until recently is that yes, I have protected myself from a certain type of hurt but I have also exposed myself to a complete different form of it. I’m not who I want to be, who I naturally am. Essentially, I am hurting myself rather than others hurting me. So now I am taking steps in figuring out how to get back to my natural self while also protecting pieces of me that only should be shared with those who both treasure and deserve them.

And that’s me adulting right now. There’s no way around it. That’s life and that’s growing up and wanting to continue on this crazy path, trying to figure out where the adventure will lead you. Being this old does also have pros. I did have a red velvet cupcake for dinner last night. So there’s that.

What cause do you stand for?

We all have a part to play in this world. Some choose to play a positive role, some choose negative, and some prefer to be indifferent. That will always be the case so long as we have free will. To those who want to make this world a better place, I thank you. We all come from different backgrounds, and we all have had different events, experiences, and people affect us. It is an amazing thing that no two people are exactly alike in every way. There is always something that separates us, something that makes us unique, and we should embrace that. Our differences should be things we learn and grow from, not fight and bicker about constantly.

Technology and social media has allowed us to spread our beliefs and opinion across the world in a matter of seconds. In minutes, thousands can rally to a cause and provide much needed support for those in need or bring awareness to an issue that’s been swept under a rug too long.

What is painful to see are the people who rally and target others who do not share the same level of drive and passion as they do. “You don’t care about this cause? You’re heartless and you’re a horrible person” is the general concept. Just because someone doesn’t pour their entire being into something you believe, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

You support a cause that fights to get rid of domestic violence? That’s great and your efforts should be commended. And what about the person who is pouring the same amount of effort into a cause that’s directed at stopping pollution that is killing our food and water supply? Or the person that fights for gay rights? Or the person who wants to see a world where animals are no longer abused and left for dead? What about the person who hopes to see a cancer free world? And the person who wants a better education for the future generations? Or how about those who never want children to go hungry? And what of the person who does all he/she can to support our troops?  ALL of these causes have one thing in common: to make the world a better place.

Each of us will gravitate toward certain causes based upon our own life experiences. Personally, I want to see every dog in a happy home, a place where they don’t have to fear being left behind or tortured or beaten. I want families who have children diagnosed with terminal illness to be able to afford treatment. I want men to stop beating the women in their lives. I want bullies to be held responsible for the treatment they have bestowed upon others. I want misogyny to stop. I want women to be fearless when chasing their dreams. I want people who have suicidal thoughts to know they are not alone. I want my gay friends to be just as happy as anyone else.

Is a cause you stand for not in my personal list? Do you believe I am a bad person for not sharing your passion? Just because I may not have the same drive for something as you do, it doesn’t mean we both cannot work together to improve the state of our world. More than anything, I want people to have empathy. I want someone to be able to step back, look at my list, and apply some thought as to why these items are important to me. You may learn something, not just about me, but possibly of yourself as well.

Everyone has something they want to fight for. It is impossible to devote all of one’s energy and life to everything in this world that needs improvement. Exert your energy to the cause you want to see become a reality. No one fight is better than the other when the goal is the same. We may be on different teams, but we have the same dream. Let’s make this world a better place than when we first arrived, shall we?