under the cherry blossoms: dream

It might just be because I have watched too many Japanese dramas, but I want to watch cherry blossoms bloom in Japan. Seeing the skies flood with these beautiful pink flowers is a sight to behold and it symbolizes so many different things: new life, a new year, and new opportunities.

When I started Featherlight, it was meant for me to better understand myself post suicide attempt. I used writing to help me cope with so many different kinds of pains and losses inflicted upon me by people who quite frankly were a waste of my time. But this post is not going to focus on that sort of negativity. I made my one jab and I’m moving on from that. I’m here to talk about cherry blossoms and new dreams.

In an ideal world, we can wake up every morning with a big, bright smile on our faces. There would be no need for negativity or bringing others down. When problems arise, we would simply face them and not make bigger deals out of them: situations would never escalate. Life would be simple but pleasant. With the bloom of this year’s cherry blossoms, I can finally say that I see the ugly side to ambition. The stress of taking on too much, it drives us mad with insecurity, exhaustion, and stress. We rub it in to others that we are doing more, as a facade masking how pained or shaken we really are. We are human beings, not robots. Trying to do so much may look good on paper, but it drives away a good portion of our humanity. It wears on our stamina and it makes us unpleasant to be around for a plethora of reasons, namely that we create insecurity and uneasiness with such reckless or bashful behavior.

I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they are not good enough. We all have the privilege of living life, and nobody should ever tell you that you are not good enough or make you feel insignificant in this world. You have been given an inherent purpose by being born a living, sentient being. Use that sentience and allow it to guide you to where you want to go. Don’t be worried if you’re not getting there as quickly as the person next to you. With enough dedication at a pace that befits you, you will arrive at your destination. For me, that is in Japan, owning a bakery, and being able to watch the cherry blossoms every spring. Even if it takes me until the age of 100, so long as I can get there before death, that is all I ask.

Road Movie: Chapter 14

“Hey, why didn’t you talk about what’s been happening in your life? Is everything okay?” Veronica messaged Dakota later that night. The brunette was half-expecting this message from her. “Honestly, I’m still getting over something, and it’s been a little rough. Sorry, I didn’t want to ruin our reunion.” “Dakota, we went through hell and back together. Even if you’re having a bad time, that won’t dampen our reunion. Spending time with my pledge sister, even if it means comforting and helping her overcome whatever shit she’s going through, it’s still an enjoyable experience for me. That’s what sisterhood is all about.” The blonde insisted. “I’m so sorry I could not tell you. I’ll let you know everything that happened in due time, I promise.” The brunette sent back. “Alright. I hope everything works out. You’re a strong, capable person, Dakota, whether you care to see that quality in yourself or not. Just wanted to let you know that.”

Dakota sighed to herself. But it was a sigh of relief. For the first time in a while, she was not feeling lonely. Being around Veronica and Monique reminded her that friends are just around the corner. Looking at her watch, she knew it was time for her next appointment with Pamela. This time, they were going to do a Myers-Brigg test, something she had to do during her time in business school, taking the Managing in Organizations course in UChicago. How she missed that course; there, she was put into a group for the entire semester, and worked closely with several other individuals who wound up becoming some of her closest friends in college. The last time she checked, Dakota was an ISFJ: introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging. According to her professor, that meant that she got energy from being alone, she liked to base her actions on prior experience, she is more empathetic than logical, and she liked to stick to a strict schedule. Looking at how much has changed in her life, the brunette was slightly nervous. She was pretty content with her old score, and she did not want to be re-labeled so quickly.

“Alright, Dakota. So what are your results?” “So I’m ENFP?” She was shocked. Dakota did not think that almost every part of her personality had changed. She was now extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. “Why are you so surprised? What did you get the last time you took this?” Pamela was intrigued by Dakota’s reaction. “I was ISFJ when I took this in college. I did not think adulthood would change me so much.” She admitted. “Well that just means that where you get your energy from has changed. That’s understandable, given what you’ve been through.” Pamela nodded her head. “Being an extrovert just means that you get re-energized by being around others, not being alone.” “I see.” Dakota sighed. She was hoping that she would have stayed the same. “I think it’s a wonderful thing that you are extroverted. Especially given what happened to you recently, I would be worried if you did not want to be around other people right now. You need to be in the company of friends and family.” Pamela stated. She was correct in saying that. Being alone when you are depressed will not solve anything. It might actually make the situation worse. Being with people you can trust, it makes life better.

Pamela decided that Dakota was emotionally stable enough to return to work, but would need to continue monthly sessions until the brunette was deemed stable enough to not need therapy anymore. Dakota was thrilled, mostly because she missed being around her co-workers. That night, she could hardly sleep. It felt almost surreal that she was returning to Hillary Jenkins the next day. She could already imagine Frida’s antics, Maria and Virginia rolling their eyes at said antics, and Justin talking about sports to the irritation and disinterest of everyone else. At this point, Dakota was slowly getting over the death of Phillip. She had filled her life with so many other outlets that distracted her.

“I’m finally back!” The brunette announced as she stepped out of the elevator. “Dakota!” She was immediately tackled by a thrilled Maria. “We missed you!” Virginia walked out of her office, saw her youngest co-worker, and immediately followed suit. “What’s all of this noise about?!” Frida and Justin walked out of the conference room. “Oh my stars! It’s Dakota!” Frida gasped. “Oh, wait. I knew you were coming back.” She laughed to herself. “Sorry, still a bit buzzed from my mimosa.” She was referring to the empty glass in her hand. The room went silent. “What? It’s Thirst-day today.” The elderly woman shrugged before almost dropping her glass onto the hardwood floor. “Uh, here, I’ll take that.” Justin grabbed the glass out of her wrinkled fingers. “Dakota, it’s great to see you!” He grinned at her. “It’s great to be back!” She squealed excitedly. “Thank god. Covering your clients for you was so boring.” Frida admitted, still under the influence of her drink. “Well, at least you were honest about that.” Dakota rolled her eyes as she started to walk back to her office.

As excited as she was to get back to working, the brunette started to notice an immediate problem: her clients were in the medical field. As much as she was trying to get over Phillip, anything related to medicine, especially hospitals, just did not sit well with her. But Dakota was hired specifically to take over medical clients, and she knew that nobody would want to switch portfolios with her, nor would she be good at marketing to anyone in the sports, hospitality, or fashion industries anyways. She just had to power through it. It was like ice skating for the first time. It was terrifying, and the brunette was afraid of falling. And she did fall. And it hurt, a lot. But once she did that, she was not afraid. She was able to start enjoying herself, and slowly adjust to the movements and eventually, ice skate naturally. Going back to consulting with professionals in the medical field, it was like recovering from that first fall. She just had to get up, and keep trying. She had to push Phillip and the emotional side of this experience out of her mind and focus on trying to help the client.

That night, Dakota went out to get dinner with Monique. The two were going through Millennium Park, taking photos while eating hot dogs. As much as she was embarrassed to admit it, Dakota loved eating hot dogs because they reminded her of when she was a kid, going to watch Cubs games with her dad at Wrigley Field. Even though she knew they were processed and the furthest thing from good for her, it did not stop her enjoyment of them. It was her guilty pleasure, so to speak. “Oh, look over there!” Monique pointed at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a bandshell in the park, where there was a small band playing. “Hold on, I’m going in for a shot.” The brunette smiled, taking aim with her camera. There was something about seeing the band playing in this area that just put a smile on her face. She had never really bothered to stop by the park and watch people perform, so it was a new memory for her to capture.

“So how’s grad school like?” Dakota looked at Monique. The two were sitting on a bench, looking through their photos. “It’s alright. I’ve got a paper due soon, but it should be fine.” She shrugged. Monique did not want to bore the brunette with her school life, mostly because it was all papers and research. “How does it feel to be working as a manager though? Is it as great as they say it is?” The dark haired girl looked at the marketing executive. Dakota felt herself holding back her laughter. It was very rare that she was somebody to look up to, or at least look to for advice. In school, at work, even in Omicron Pi, she never picked up a little. She was always the youngest, or the most inept, in almost every case. “It’s fun. To be honest, even though I’m a manager, I do not manage people. I manage sales accounts, so it’s very different. But it’s fulfilling, and it pays well. I make about $75K a year.” She smiled. “I see. Sounds like a good life.” Monique nodded in agreement.

Going home that night, Dakota felt relieved. She was nervous about how her return to work would be. But she found herself picking up right where she left off and it was a good feeling. Even after all this time away from the office, Dakota was still okay with going back into that environment. Going home, the brunette sighed to herself. As much as she was moving forward with her life, she felt like this apartment had too many memories. No matter how much process she made, having to come back to here felt like she was being pulled back to square one. It was painful for her to think about him. No. She shook her head. Grabbing her laptop, Dakota started to look for apartments. She needed a change of pace. She needed to get away from all of this. Wait, what are you doing? She frowned to herself. Her lease was not over for another four months. She was not about to abandon her apartment just yet.

Direction: dream 36

It would be so easy to come out of the womb knowing what it is you are destined to do. The moment your mother gives birth to you, your doctor will look at the you, and tell your mother “this baby is going to grow up to be a (insert whatever occupation you want here) and you cannot do anything to change that.” And in that scenario, you will be doing this job not because a doctor said it, but because you were destined for it. And by destined, I mean you will love doing this, you will have passion for it, and you will be perfectly qualified to do it. It was not a random decision for you to do it. There was careful thought and analysis on your qualities, traits, and all of those factors summed up into the job you were designated upon birth.

Now back to reality, where clairvoyant, job-determining doctors unfortunately do not exist. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I am struggling with figuring out where I want to go with my life. I have two degrees under Hospitality, one for Food and Beverage and the other for Accounting, and I have a minor in Business Management. You would like that between that and having a decent GPA and a strong resume, people would at least find me hirable, right? Wrong. I cannot seem to land a job offer to save my life. And it makes me question my own capabilities and qualifications. Specifically, I wonder if I even want to be in this industry. The moment the doubt and second guessing kicks it, I wonder if this is the direction I really want to take, or if I should change gears while I still can.

That’s where I am struggling. I know that everyone expects me to get a decent job and to become a manager and then a director in the following years. But I do not think that is what I want to do with my life. I enjoy being free spirited, and I love expressing myself. I cannot do that for the most part in the Hospitality industry; the obvious exceptions are being a designer for restaurants or hotels, or being an executive chef, designing my own menus. But I am neither, and while I have qualifications in the restaurant industry, definitely not enough to be an executive chef at the moment. I just do not know what I am going to wind up doing with my potential. Obviously, I do not want the college degree and education to go down the toilet, but I still do not know what I want to do with my life. Finding any kind of inspiration or hint towards that is highly welcomed.

Especially while I am in this stage of job-hunting limbo, I really wish that those clairvoyant doctors existed right now. Even if I got stuck with being a garbage truck driver or a porn star for the rest of my life, no matter what level of education I completed, at least I would know what to expect, right? Just not knowing, it kills me. And that is the issue with my generation. We like to have a set plan of what we want out of our careers, and when those plans come unhinged, we typically do not know what to do. In a feather-light world of my dreams, I would want everyone to be able to find their passion at a young age, and pursue that passion so that they can help make the world a better place by making their job something they can be proud of doing.

Environment: realization 30

I’m not referring to anything relate to global warming or going green. I’m a Buddhist, not a hippie. That being said, I’m talking about the environment in the same context of Lewin’s Equation, where behavior is the function of an individual and the environment. It basically means that you can control your own behavior, but you cannot control the behavior of the environment around you; in short, there’s no guarantee that you can change the environment. There’s two options in this case: run away or change your outlook. Running away, I think it’s the easier option. It’s also the one that hurts you more in the long run. When you leave something behind, unresolved, you leave extra burdens in your heart, unfinished chapters in your life, and it will come back to haunt you. But when you learn to adapt to the environment, you might be able to enjoy it more.

I’m not saying that running away or giving up on your current environment is something frowned upon. Sometimes, you only have that option; you’ve attempted to adapt, and you failed repeatedly. In those cases, you only can leave and cut your losses. The environment you surround yourself in, it will affect your psyche. For example, I used to be an introvert when I had a person who constantly frustrated me; because of how routinely my energy was being wasted on those one or two individuals, I found myself needing time alone to recharge. But once I cut those people out of my life, I found myself becoming an extrovert. It was because my environment, specifically the people and places I had in my daily routine, changed that I found myself changing as well to adapt.

Adaptability is a completely different topic, but I think it’s worth discussing here, even though I mentioned it in my previous post about panicking. Specifically the pace and methods we use in face of changes in our environment. If you can thrive in an environment where it is high-pressure, high-demand, and intense, then that’s a good environment to stay in. If you cannot, then get the hell out of there if you cannot even swim in there. Do not let yourself stay in an environment where you feel like you are drowning in doubt and fear. Your environment helps you grow as a person, so find the right environment for you.

For me, I am learning that I prefer company who are open-minded, ambitious in their careers, but prefer a routine or a schedule. That creates a sort of environment where I myself can be career-oriented, have norms that do not surprise me, but I can be as weird or awkward as I want and not feel like I am being judged. It helps me feel a need to advance my own career, while I can spend time with the people I love on a constant basis, but ultimately, I can love myself for who I am or become a person who I can love continuously and constantly. Obviously, each person has a different environment that is ideal for them. Some people would rather not have the pressure of finding a career. Others may not love themselves and would rather be surrounded by people who they want to be like. It is ultimately up to the individual what they want. The environment that is suitable changes constantly, to match our personalities, goals, and interests.