[Self Discovery] The Best Advice I’ve Ever Gotten

When I was younger, my step mom and I would frequently dissect social scenarios and discuss what it meant to simply be.  As the child of two incredibly intelligent mathematicians, this was probably one of the most helpful things that she ever did – and, to this day, still does.  I call her, sometimes more often than others, for both commentary and brainstorming solutions to the current conundrum, however big or small, I had at hand.  Like my natural parents, my step-mother has a strong footing in math and statistics and like my parents – she’s incredibly nurturing, loving and supportive.  The main difference being that she’s an empathetic extrovert and a social butterfly, whereas my parents fall more on the introverted side of the spectrum.  Simply put, her advice makes sense; it sticks.  But why? First, it’s because on an emotional level – we understand each other, and operate relationships in a similar fashion.  But on a larger scale – as humans, we tend to not ask questions or seek advice that we couldn’t somehow  manifest for ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve collected the advice – sometimes on scrap paper or text messages to myself, other times in journals – and I’ve kept it close to my heart all these years.  And not just from her – but from my relatives, friends, teachers, blogs, Reddit threads, basketball coaches, college TA’s….you name it, I took their wise words to heart.  I’ve always been told that ‘experience is the hardest teacher, because you get the exam before the lesson‘ but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that living vicariously through the rollercoaster of experiences – ups, downs and in-betweens – of my peers serves me just as well as if it had happened to me.  Around the apartment, I have daily mantras scribbled on mirrors and from time to time – I stumble upon them and marinate for a minute to let the words soak in.  So, I wanted to share some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten because, let’s face it, from time to time we could all use some.

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(1) Anyone chasing a dream is bound to fail once or twice in its pursuit; passion is what picks you back up and urges you to try again.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a day in and day out struggle with who you are and what you want to achieve.

Let go of any preconceived notion that you should know what you’re doing and learn to live in the moment; after all, life’s about the journey – not the destination.

(2) “Never let your schooling get in the way of your education” – Mark Twain

I’ve learned more about social dynamics and street smarts in the five years I’ve lived in Los Angeles than I had in my previous 24 years.  I’ve met people from different and exciting backgrounds and picked their brains on our differences and similarities in our lives.  I feel privileged and honored that I have such an awesome variety of people in my life.

(3) What people think about you is none of your business.

(4) Marinate in the splendor that is alone time, it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m an only child, which means I know how to entertain myself – I’ve been doing it my entire life. As much as I love being a social butterfly, at the end of the day there’s absolutely nothing like curling up with my cats, some hot tea and a good book.  If you can’t enjoy some self imposed isolation every once in a while, you might actually need to take some you-time to figure out why.  Besides, if you don’t want to hang out with yourself – why would anyone else?

(5) There’s no perfect time for anything; but the  best time for anything is always now.

(6) The beauty of life is that people fall together; cherish and appreciate them while they’re with you. The tragedy of life is that people fall apart; understand that we all have our unique path to continue on and it’s okay to go down ours alone.

(7) You don’t have to be friends with everyone, and not everyone needs to like you.

I had a problem when I was younger – I had this overzealous urge to be loved and not cause conflict.  This made me quiet for a while, and this made me hide parts of my personality.  Now that I’m older and have the confidence to be myself – I’ve realized that you can be nice to everyone without having to be friends with everyone, and it’s okay if people don’t like you.  People don’t need to like you – just so long as they can still treat you with decency and respect.

(8) Never miss an opportunity to shut up;better a moment of silence than a lifetime of regret.

(9) “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu.  

More often than not, anxiety gets a hold of me and decides to make an awkward appearance.  I’ll think about past grievances and what could’ve been done differently, then I’ll consider ‘every-case-scenario’ for the future and overwhelm myself.  What I’m forgetting in those moments is that in the present, everything is okay.  The past has come and gone, and the future hasn’t matriculated yet – firmly ground yourself in the present moment and you’ll free your mind

(10) The only expectations you need to live up to are your own.

As always, time is the best teacher and the best advice is something that you give yourself; what are your daily mantras that keep you keepin’ on every day?

(11) Being alone and happy is better than being miserable and in a relationship.

and, last but not least –

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” — Buddha

[Self Discovery] 2013: It’s a Resolution, Bitches.

They say how you ring in the New Year is indicative of how the rest of the year will turn out –
if so, I firmly believe that we’re all in for quite a beautiful journey.

Last sunset of 2012

I was lucky enough to spend the last week surrounded by some of my closet and dearest friends, both new and old.  There was lots of love to spread around, and to boot lots of reminiscing over the events of the past year.  But that gets me to thinking – what’s in a year? What can you really accomplish in twelve months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 528,600 minutes…? Most people are fans of New Years Resolutions – but me, I belong to the camp that thinks rules, regulations, resolutions and the like were only meant to be broken.  What I do believe in, however, are Life Resolutions.

When I first moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2008, I made a ten point list of the things I wanted to tackle by the end of 2009. I had just graduated from UCSB and settling into my first apartment in the heart of Koreatown, living solo and looking for my first real job. I quickly learned that knowing that having the world is at your fingertips is one thing, but it’s of no use to us if we cannot use those same hands to shape and manifest our desires.  I had goals of every shape, sort and size on this list – nothing was too large to be conquered or too small to consider. Everything was equal; everything was beginning.  At the time, I honestly thought I could accomplish them all in a year or less. But after my first year down in LA-LA-Land, I got slightly discouraged – out of my ‘Top Ten’ list of things to accomplish I had effectively done nothing.  What I’ve realized since I made my list is that all change, especially positive change, takes time; reaching your goals does not occur in a heartbeat or a split second, and it cannot occur without persistence, dedication or hard work.  So, here we were – four and a half years later and I can proudly say that I’ve knocked a few of these bad boys down – but that can only mean that it’s time for more: more resolutions, goals, dreams, aspirations; more chances to achieve and astonish myself; more opportunities to learn, grow, love, laugh and live.

Before I get into my new resolutions, let’s spend a little time reminiscing about all the amazing things that I finally got to cross off my list!  Originally, I scribbled it on the back of my “Personal Growth and Achievement” binder in permanent marker; I’d wake up and stare at my goals, wondering where to start.  Over time my life trajectory shifted and my priorities realigned;  the goals I’d written so brazenly in bold colors had begun to fade and disappear.  What I’ve learned about words is that over time, they all fade away….but the sentiment still remains.

I hadn’t touched my binder in at least a year and a half, but the other week I went on a cleaning and purging rampage (being a pack rat, this is a necessity at least every other month).  As I was sorting my paperwork, I noticed the faded lines and remembered: once upon a time, this girl had some big dreams.I flipped through it whimsically, carefully observing this other version of myself; this younger, doe-eyed girl that to accomplish everything but in someway, shape or form lacked the mental capacity to conquer herself.

My original ten:

  1. Get weight to 140
  2. Take GRE, apply to Grad school  This was a lofty goal at the time considering the downturn of the economy and outpouring of recent college graduates; but, I tried my hardest and did the damn thing anyways.  I applied to Graduate Programs in Biostatistics and Bioinformatics around California, unfortunately I was rejected by every single one.  It was a blow to the ego but it was also eyeopening: I might not have gotten into Graduate School like I intended, but I did shock myself by snagging a 1330 with a perfect score on the math section. So sure, I’m not back in a classroom feverishly taking notes and stressing myself out about labs or tests – but I am in the top 1% of the population for intelligence and that’s something to get excited about!
  3. Travel outside the US  Back in January, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Shanghai to visit one of my best friends for the Chinese New Years.  It was one of the most humbling and eye opening experiences I’ve ever been; it’s safe to say I was bitten by the travel bug and haven’t been the same since…
  4. Find a cause worth volunteering for It’s pretty obvious that I have an affinity for adorable four legged creatures, but back in early November one of my friends shared a picture on Facebook from something called the Kitty Bungalow: Charm School for Wayward Cats. They focus on socializing feral and stray cats as well as educating the community about our feral cat problem in Los Angeles. Immediately, I was enthralled and within half an hour I had signed up for orientation.  I’ve been volunteering there for a month and a half now – there’s a calm about me that I didn’t use to have, and there’s a soft spot in my heart that’s growing.  Volunteering is as self-serving as it is altruistic; not only am I engaging the community and enriching the lives of both a cat as well as their owner, I’m engaging myself to reach out and step out of my shell….to take notice when the world doesn’t seem completely right and do what I can to change that.
  5. Hone in on skill set and dive headfirst to your field of choice Immediately after being rejected from graduate school, I received a phantom call on my phone – a recruiting agency had found my resume on Monster and wanted me to come in for a first interview….which lead to my first “bigger” kid job as a Data Analyst at Internet Brands; I learned amazing tricks of the trade that I could not only apply to my work, but also to my own blogs and websites. After nine months with the company, I had a hat trick of requests from various agencies – it was a tossup which job top take since they were all contracted positions for 6-12 months but I went with my gut: I chose Disney. Within a month, a pivotal member left the team and I was offered a permanent position within the group – to this day, that I know that was the best decision I could have made for myself.
  6. Step your social game up and meet some new friends And new friends I’ve made!  Last year around this time I was feeling antsy and couldn’t get my thoughts together straight – truth me told I was going through some shiiiit and was questioning how effective my “support” group truly was.  So…I kind of…left. I ventured off and out, trying to discover what moved me and what I can leave in my past.  I tried dating, I tried a new music scene, I started going out to shows by myself and talking to complete strangers.  And I am so proud to say that so many of those former strangers are now my close friends. I’ve always thought that when you’re on the dance floor you’re never in fact alone; now I can say for certain that I know that’s true.
  7. Keep blogs, social media, etc up to date  In the summer of 2008 when I created my list, I had a Facebook, Twitter and a Tumblr Account.  Fast forward to 2013 and this is the gamut: Klout, Foursquare, WordPress (…duh…), Influenster, Google+, Instagram, Blogspot,…the list really does go on and on.  Social Media is one of those niche fields that interests me; analyzing trends – from local to global – and meeting like-minded people are just a few of the reasons I enjoy it.  Hopefully, eventually, I’ll be able to foray my knowledge and know-how into a career.
  8. Take a new course There’s a wonderful website, Coursera, that’s teamed up with schools across the nation to produce free, online courses – I’ve signed up for quite a few and cannot wait to get into the thick of them!
  9. Learn how to use the microexpression training tool
  10. Start blogging again.

Because I’ve been lucky enough to finally cross things off my epic Life Achievement list, I finally get to tackle some new ones ♥ here are the new 7 Life Resolutions that I’ll start working towards starting right now:

Healthy living: This includes but is not limited to engaging in physical activity a few times a week (running, yoga, gym, hikes with friends, long walks alone, etc), sleeping a proper amount each night, eating healthy and right.  I think considering my propensity to party, this is actually a lot harder than it seems – which is why I’ve elevated it above all else.

★ Enjoy all that Los Angeles has to offer on the daily! There are so many amazing restaurants, museums, parks and beaches that you never need to hit the same one twice – so why would you? Venture out and explore the city; the last thing I want to have happen when I leave this place is someone to ask if I’ve ever done X, Y or Z because they’re such LA Local things to do. I want to have done it all and done it right.

Learn to cook the foods I love! Eating a $7 lunch in the work commissary isn’t exactly going to break your budget, but a $4 cup of coffee in the morning sure can.  I’ve spent more than I should on my culinary creature comforts in the past year and I think it’s time to refocus my food intake.  One of my biggest problems is that I’m a picky eater….and picky is an understatement.  I’ve honed in on my culinary skills in the past year but it’s time to put it to the test – instead of eating out, I’ll learn to make my favorite meals. Sushi night, anyone?

Give more; take less.

♥ Learn to be picky with friendships; remember: you don’t have to like everyone and everyone doesn’t have to like you

★ The sound of your own voice should inspire you, not scare you – cultivate what it is that drives you and

Take my idea for a Non-Profit organization and run like the wind with it. My genius idea came to me as I drove to work one day; and per usual, with genius ideas – the word genius doesn’t even begin to describe it.  In all honesty, I feel like I’ve found my calling and I feel like my entire life has been leading up to this. I’ve only told a handful of people (and trust me, when this hits the ground running you guys will hear all about it) but the response was beyond positive; to boot, people already want to help. They don’t even care what they do, they want a part of this and I couldn’t ask for anything more!

I hope everyone had a safe and fabulous New Years eve; cheers to 2013 and the adventures to come – thanks for taking the ride with me!

NYE in Bouncyland

All [[New Years]] We Dream – Egyptian Theater