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.

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blood stained road

She was wandering this strange world for such a long time. It felt like years since she had seen a familiar face. She still remembered her friends, two young men, and how the three of them would be able to sit together and laugh at the simple things in life. What happened to those times? Succumbing to her doubts, she fell to her knees, clutching her head tightly with both hands. She could not understand why things had to happen the way they did. The three of them were promised a chance to explore the world. However, the situation soured quickly. Only one of them could leave their town. A small, rural village, in the middle of the mountains. None of them had ever seen the outside world before. They did not know life beyond those mountains. And when offered that opportunity, their friendship fell apart. Her friends, they argued and fought, screaming over each other why they were most deserving of this chance. The girl, she was willing to step down and let one of them travel. She was happy, living a simple life, and was okay with staying there with one of her two friends. But that was not good enough for either of the young men. Their tactics quickly shifted from arguing and debating to much more extreme measures. The consequences were dire. She still remembers that day. When she arrived at their usual spot. A small clearing on the cliffs, overlooking the rest of the village. The normally lush flower garden was stained red. One of her friends weakly crawled over to her, the stake pressed through his chest dragged through the dirt, and he grabbed her ankle pleadingly. He quickly succumbed to his wounds, coughing up blood, unable to utter his final words. Gasping, she quickly looked around the field, screaming her other friend’s name. Walking closer to the edge of the cliff, she was horrified. Her other friend, body mangled beyond recognition, was left hanging off the edge. Shuddering to herself, trying to cast off that horrendous memory, the girl frowned. She did not want to be the wanderer. But she wanted to honor their memories and dreams of escaping the village. For her, living out her friends’ wishes was enough for her to continue living on. She did not want to remain in the village, and be constantly reminded of their demises. She wanted to live a life, free of her trauma. Free of her pain.

 

Being the right kind of competitive: dream 39

When I lived with my old roommate, they treated me like I was a stigma because I was competitive. It was as if being competitive as not okay. I think that to some degree, competitiveness does bring out the worst in us. But it also helps us push past our own boundaries and potentials and do things we otherwise would not. That is why I think there is a such thing as a right kind of competitive: being competitive with yourself. Trying to outdo yourself and be a better version of you, it is a lot healthier than trying to outdo and outperform the person next to you. The former helps build confidence while the latter screams of insecurity and nervousness.

When I was a part of the cultural club, I just felt like we needed to be the best. I have no idea why, but I had this urge to outperform other clubs and let them know that we are the best of the best. That sort of mentality did allow for me to go above and beyond: I singlehandedly catered multiple events, with attendances ranging from 50-200 people. However, it also caused a lot of people to be afraid of me. So many underclassmen were terrified of me because I came off as this intense, unapproachable, and ferocious individual. I myself could feel this sort of vindication towards people who were in other clubs; I felt personally attacked, as if they chose other similar clubs over mine because they wanted to spite me. A prime example is when another almost identical culture club (representing the same country as my own) was created. It was like a slap in the face to me. But I later realized, after quitting my own club, that those people must have felt dis-included and wanted a place to call home. At the least, they found that home for themselves, and I have learned to just be happy for them.

Rather than being competitive on behalf of anything or anyone else, be competitive on your behalf. No, an organization or club that you are in is not an extension of you. I made that mistake before, and regret how many bridges I have burned every day because of it. I mean you as an individual. How can you make yourself better? What is your ideal vision of yourself? How do you want to be the best you that you can be? These are the sorts of questions I ask myself every day. But things to also avoid are: what are your flaws? What do you not like about yourself? When you start to think negatively and focus on what you lack, it will cause you to loathe yourself. By thinking more along the lines of what you aspire to achieve, therefore, positively focusing on the possibilities, life works out a lot better for you.

Being competitive with yourself is a means of improving yourself that I think works well. Trying to figure out what you want to become, and how to become that person overall, it is a journey with a lot of potentially slippery slopes. So long as you focus on the goal, and think about nothing else, such as emotions or doubts, you will find yourself achieving that goal in due time. And once you achieve that goal, don’t stop there. Set another one. And keep doing that so that you can continuously improve yourself as a person and human being. By accomplishing that much, you will find yourself becoming a person you will always be prod of at any given time. If we can all improve ourselves in such a way, then we can continue pushing this world forward, closer to the one in my feather-light dreams.

 

insecurity: realization 37

For me, whenever I get competitive, it stemmed from insecurity or nervousness. I used that sort of “you’re going down!” attitude as a facade because I did not want others to realize how fearful or intimidated I was of them. But the big question here is, why am I so keen to compare myself to anybody else? Why could I never be happy with being just me? Looking at who I am now, I am perfectly happy with a lot of my qualities. I am upbeat, likable, silly, hardworking, and caring. I feel like I have hardly changed from when I was a kid, on the inside, anyways. I just tried my best to stay true to who I am and the values I stood by. But when I was faced with so many external factors, I found myself lost, strayed from the person I knew I was.

For me, being raised by Asian immigrant parents, that was probably the first part. Your “family friends” are just complete assholes who brag about their children’s accomplishments, and when you do not have anything accomplished because you are five years younger than them and can hardly speak English, then things get ugly. I still remember one of them saying that I was “unfixable and undisciplined” because I was acting like how almost any three year old would, in other words, rowdy and rambunctious. And because of that, my parents cracked the whip on me. Possibly literally. My earlier childhood is still a blur, but given my dad’s military background, getting hit was highly probable. Asian parents want to make each other feel like their children are inferior. And the trickle-down effect is that the children feel insecure.

When children feel insecure, they become competitive. I can say this form firsthand experience in high school. I had to deal with so many people who were in-your-face about their accomplishments. They wanted to intimidate you, because they felt insecure about themselves. Nobody can predict the future. No matter how much you have going for you, how self-assured you are, there will always be that seed of doubt lingering in the back of your conscience. The what-if’s and worst-case scenario’s. Unfortunately, these doubts are not ones you can really shake off. You can minimize them, but they always need to exist in some proportion, because they represent you being realistic and practical. If you never think about the worst-case scenario to a situation, you will find yourself in a very bad place mentally and emotionally should all hell break loose and it actually occurs. That being said, insecurity makes people come off as intense and competitive. A lot of it has to do with them being unable to lessen their doubts.

Whether your insecurity stems from the people you surround yourself with or the doubts you are unable to contain, the way you channel it should never be in such a way that others around you get harmed. Being competitive or intimidating to overcompensate for these doubts, it’s unhealthy and destructive. I speak from personal experience as both the harmfully competitive one and the one who was targeted by others. The question is, why did I need to get insecure? Why could I not love myself? A huge amount of it had to do with others doubting me, and it made me doubt myself. I let my environment get to me. But, in almost every case, you should never let other people tell you how to live your life. Nor should you ever let your life revolve around another person. I let that happen, and it caused my entire existence to become one of paranoia and anxiety. Always put yourself first. Love yourself for being who you are, and never get that validation from somebody else.