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.

immature: realization 39

When there is a conflict, the worst thing you can do is turn and run away. Playing the “avoiding game” just escalates the issue. A good example would be if you see a boy with an injured leg on the street. The child notices you, and screams for you to get help. Instead of helping him, you turn your back, and keep walking. The pleas will then turn into curses and screams of anger, and then finally, that kid will have a permanent leg injury. That is what happens when you avoid resolving conflict. Incurable emotional and mental scars form. These kinds of traumas will forever plague us. For me, being mature means that you can sift emotions out of your decisions and actions and know when to be the higher person and not let small things bother you. I will be honest, I am immature to a decent degree, but I am trying my best to learn to be mature.

The thing about emotional immaturity is that when either you or someone you are dealing with have it, it can cause acknowledgement of one another’s feelings to go to the wayside. Immature people hardly ever see beyond their own needs or thoughts. They put themselves first, in this myopic point on view, and close out the world around them. They never once think about how their own selfishness can hurt others. They try to make themselves the victim, so that others will pity them, and think of any other parties involved at the bad guy. But when this sort of repeated behavior becomes a habit, it is very noticeable and will just cause the immature person to be seen as such.

I have had the wonderful pleasure of dealing with an immature (relative to me) ingrate before. Trust me, they are not fun. But a lot of that behavior stemmed from immaturity. They did not understand how to react to having someone try their best to treat them kindly. And then when conflict arises, they run and hide, expecting me to be the one to initiate confrontation. And then when I confront, I find myself having to apologize despite them being immature and ungrateful for how hard I try for them, and me feeling like an even bigger jackass afterwards, causing me to dislike myself that much more. And when I asked them why they felt it was okay to let me be the instigator, they said it was because when their mom got angry, they would let their mom cool down and then talk. The thing is, I am not their mother. And I do not have the emotional integrity of a mother to swallow my own pride for somebody, because that somebody is not my child. But they decided that it would be in their best interest to make me out to be the bad guy, despite me going through depression and their inability to react maturely to it only worsening my condition.

A recent conversation I had with my friend made me think about something. What to do when you’re dealing with immature people? Simple. You don’t. Let them hang around with people who are more like them maturity-wise. You would think that the group of them being immature would cause each other to be dragged down, but I would argue that they can grow and mature at their own pace, because they are all at the same place mentally. Do not let their emotional ineptitude drag you down. It would obviously be different if a mature person were to be around a bunch of immature people, but if equally immature people stayed together, they will be able to help each other move forward in life. Find people who are at the same pace of maturity as you, and grow together with them. And do not always stick to the same people, if you feel like you outgrow them or if they outgrow you. You do not always have to drive in the fast lane in life. Do not be ashamed if you have to go at a slower pace. You will all end up at the same place, eventually.

freeform: realization 35

When it comes to cooking, I love having a sense of freedom. When you force me to cook a certain dish, there are preconceived expectations. I do not like having to perform or cook towards the expectations of anyone, including myself. Whether it is making a dough or batter, cooking, or even completing an assignment, I try to do this with a freeform style. There is something about being improvisational that works so well for me in the kitchen. A lot of it comes with experience. Since I am incredibly familiar with how ingredients work, I can make a lot of different techniques and flavors come together in dish concepts that do sound or taste good. For me, any ingredient has the potential to become a plethora of things. So I have the freedom to transform the ingredient to whatever I feel like. This sense of being freeform, it is probably one of my favorite habits.

When you are not weighed down by expectations and judgement, being yourself becomes a possibility. I think that this sort of freeform style I developed in my cooking, it is interesting, given how neurotic I am in other outlets of my life. When I was a culinary instructor, we had to teach certain dishes, prepare them in a certain way, and we had no freedom. Because of that, I felt trapped. I used cooking to get away from my stress, but then when my stress-reliever became the main source of it, I did not know where else I could turn to. Whenever I saw my chef knives, I would have a panic attack. I did understand why my knives scared me so much. At first, I thought it was because I had an urge to cut myself with them. But in reality, my knives were just a reminder of work. How much I detested being held to standards, and how I was under the constant scrutiny of others. It was too much for me to handle on an emotional level.

Normally, if I made a mistake in the kitchen, I could recover. Oh, I burned a cake. Well, I can trim off the burnt bits, and take the remainder, re-bake it, and create biscotti. I overcooked my steak. Chop it up, braise it, and then I can make a stew. But when I was a culinary instructor, I had no such freedom. The students needed to be taught something, needed to be taught how to do it the classic way, and if I made a mistake, I would get threatened and yelled at by it. My boss engraved in me that failure equated to ridicule and that I should be ashamed of my failures, not embracing of them. It ruined my self confidence and my love for cooking for the longest time. I could not have the creative freedom and flexibility that I normally had. Being so stiff and rigid, feeling like I was performing a high-wire act every time I held a knife, wore my chef whites, it was scary.

Even when I was a line cook, I never was held to that sort of standard. If I made a mistake, it was fine. We could always find a way to rectify it. But when I was teaching others at the school, their tuition was going into me passing down the knowledge of classic cooking correctly. Even when I teach cooking lessons on my own time, I was not felt to that much pressure. I do have high standards and always strive to make my food taste and look good. But I refuse to let others dictate my vision or my passion. Unfortunately, that is what happened at my old job. I lost my freedom and it was what spiraled me into depression and anxiety. Being yelled at for things I did not do, being expected to be perfect and when I am obviously not, being reprimanded and verbally abused. I know now, do not let yourself stay in that sort of environment. Being in the line of constant scrutiny, it is not a life worth living. Live a life where you are free to do and act however you want.

dragonfly: dream 33

When people meet me, they typically assume that my spirit animal is a dolphin. My best friend told me that a dolphin fit my personality because I was outgoing and upbeat, like a dolphin. But I disagree with the general consensus. When I see myself in a mirror, I do not see a perpetually cheerful sea-rapist. I see a quiet, nomadic person who drifts between groups. A dragonfly symbolizes constant change. Specifically, maturity. I feel with my sort of personality, the dragonfly is a very perfect fit. I can be the most immature or mature person you ever meet, depending on my current mood and the context I am put in.

The biggest reason why I feel like a dragonfly is a perfect representation for me started from a dream I had. I was a warlord’s concubine in Feudal Japan. I was terrified and left alone in a small room with him. He was about to defile me. But then, like little flowers, dragonflies started sprouting out of the ground. I started following them, and more appeared. The warlord noticed me escaping, but the dragonflies continued to multiply and spread, flooding the room. He could not catch me. I followed the trail of dragonflies, and managed to escape the prison.

Waking up from that dream, I had no idea what to think. It felt completely random that dragonflies would appear to me and rescue me from a sex-crazed mongrel. But I started to think more about why that dream occurred and what the dragonflies meant. I just started to remember how I lost my virginity; to a much older stranger in a barely legal or consensual  manner. So in that way, the warlord represented the stranger. In that situation, I managed to fend off the person, so my act of defiance was like a metaphor for the dragonflies. I read into what dragonflies symbolized, and the results mostly showed that they represent maturity, power, and growth.

Becoming more mature, or at least, being able to maturely handle situations, is something I want to continue learning how to do. For me, maturity is something we all need to be strong. Specifically, being able to cope with hard situations in a way that does not harm anyone. Dragonflies never harm anyone. They fly through the different phases of life, and continue to drift off towards adulthood. In a feather-light world, we could all do just that. Life would be enjoyable to the point where it will always feel so short-lived or as if it passed by too quickly.

Reality vs Nightmares: realization 29

Whenever I’m about to embark on a new chapter in my life, I’m terrified. Mostly because I don’t know what to expect. I think it’s perfectly rational to be afraid of the things we don’t understand or anticipate. But the question is, why are we afraid? For me, I realized that it was just because of my imagination. My mind automatically defaults to the worst possible scenario and my fear exaggerates this: the end result is me being completely terrified and feeling insecure about my own abilities. The best solution I found was to embrace the transition, embrace the possibilities, and not be afraid. The worst case scenario can always be worse than wherever you end up. All you need is a chance, a slight window, to prove yourself. And once you can, then you can rise above the doubt and fear, and continue to grow into the person you want to be.

Even if your worst case scenario in that moment has been realized, it can be worse almost always; there will be exceptions, so no sassing me here. For me, my biggest fear was that my mentees would think of me as a failure. Two of them did, and it hurt a lot at first. But I got over it with time. And now I’m enjoying my life for the most part. I feared that my best friend would hate me in high school. And they did, but I managed to live through that and get past it as well. There will always be struggles and roadblocks in life. We can’t always go from point A to point B smoothly. A lot of the time, we have to take detours, and even more often, we never end up at the point B we expected to. And that is something I have had to accept more times than one.

Even if I do not end up where I expect to be, there’s no point in crying over it or being hung up and sad. Just move forward with the path you are on. And do not look back. I have feared being unemployed, I have feared failing classes, etc. In fourth grade, I got an F in history and I thought that it was the end of the world. But I managed to fight back, get a B in the next report card, and made right what was wrong. I hit rock bottom, and managed to bounce back. With my employment status, I wanted to get a management-in-training position. I thought that if I do not get that, I am a failure. But knowing my work ethic and capabilities, I do not need a fast track to get to where I need in my career. I just need to get hired, put my head down, and work my ass off.

I had lost so much sleep because of my fears and nightmares. I have been so scared to the point where I could not think correctly because of that sort of anxiety that comes with expectations and the need to fulfill them. But when it comes down to it, even if I do not meet expectations or if I fail somebody, it’s not the end of the world (for the most part, obviously exceptions exist). But for the most part, it really is not the end just because you hit the worst case scenario. Just learn how to move back up from there. If you hit rock bottom, can you really go lower? For me, after my second attempt at my life, people looked at me like I am some sort of freak. Like I needed to be locked away. But they do not know me. I know me. I know what I am capable of. And even if the rest of the world does not know that, that’s fine. The reality is, I have a future ahead of me and I will make the most of my present so that my future is better. And if my future sucks and goes to shit, then I will work my ass off and crawl out of the hole I fell into. I will accept my present and do what I can to make a brighter future. No matter how bad my nightmares are, my reality will always be better.

Underdog: realization 25

I think it’s fair to say that in this day and age, being an underdog makes you more likable. Everyone is always cheering for them. Think about the Tortoise, the Little Engine Who Could, Cinderella, to name a few. All of them started with a huge disadvantage, but overcame the odds, and showed everyone that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. Being an underdog means that the expectations for you are set so low that even a small accomplishment can be seen as a huge step. For me personally, I always felt a detachment from wanting to be the underdog, but I wind up there more often than not. It goes both ways. Sometimes, I appreciate it because then I can blow people away without necessarily intending to, but at the same time, I sometimes do prefer to be seen as the titan that others have trouble toppling; with cooking, running, and accounting, I am more than comfortable with having a huge target on my back.

The biggest reason why I am normally against being the underdog is that I don’t want to feel disadvantaged. I like to know that I am somebody who can set the bar. However, there are times when I am that person and others just use me as a stepping stone. It happened throughout high school. People assumed I was smart for the first two years, and then whenever they’d do better than me on a test or in a class, they’d basically announce that they beat me. So towards the end of high school and the beginning of college, I slinked my way into being the underdog. The scrappy fighter. At first, it sucked. I felt like it was now on me to prove to everyone who got ahead of me that I am not completely worthless and that I am not just a baseline for others to surpass.

The thing about being the underdog is that it is a natural motivator for most people. You don’t want to be seen as the weakest link, but when word gets around that you might be, then you just push yourself as hard as possible, and you’ll even surprise yourself with the end results. That’s how I went from being the underdog back to being the target. And the best part of it was, rather than being nervous or cocky about being the target, I just kept my head down for the most part, and literally everyone was terrified of me when it came to Food and Beverage or Accounting. I still remember one of the seniors assumed I was in his year when I was a junior because of how put-together and capable I seemed. He admitted to me that he was intimidated by me and was relieved that he didn’t have to compete against me for jobs. Looking back on that, it was funny. And being better than that is where I am aiming now.

Like I said, I hate being the underdog. It’s basically like trying to run in heels, or play hide and seek blindfolded. I feel like everyone is looking at me, expecting me to fail or fall flatter than I already have. Having attention is already annoying for me, but when it’s bad attention, it’s frustrating. And that’s fine. Because everyone thought I was going to fail in the past, and I completely disproved them. I am more than ready to do that again. So if I have to be the underdog, that’s fine. I will adopt that mantle, wear it to the best of my ability, and make my way back to the top again. That’s just what life, and economics, are. Ups and downs. A continuous cycle. It’s up to me to learn how to control that cycle, and capitalize on my ups, while minimizing my downs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfection: realization 18

We can’t be perfect for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, there is no true definition of what it means to be a perfect human being. We all have different ideas of what it means to be perfect. For a good majority, it’s being good-looking, smart, and athletic; basically being good at everything. But others have lower standards of what it means to be perfect, and some might even have higher. For example, going to school in Harvard might make someone perfect in the eyes of their peers. Going to a college at all could be too. The sad truth is that we can never truly be perfect in the eyes of all. Simply because there is no universal standard, therefore we cannot really ever reach that level.

That being said, I still strive to be perfect. Not by anyone else’s definitions. But rather, my own. I want to be the perfect version of myself. Someone who is caring, hardworking, smart, witty, not-fat, and all around likable. I want to be well versed in my interests and talents. For me, if I am perfect, I would be somebody others would aspire to be themselves. I want to be somebody who can live a life of pure satisfaction, validation, and happiness. However, to reach that standard is still difficult, and would definitely take an entire life’s effort to attain. To be recognized for those traits, to be appreciated and admired, it means that I need to first accomplish something noteworthy.

I continue trying to pursue perfection, because it is unobtainable, and by trying to reach for it, it will only drive me closer to my ideal vision of what it means to be a perfect person. To become this strong, capable, and independent individual would feel fantastic. I want to show the world that I can accomplish anything and everything I put my mind to. Trying to be a perfect person, that to me is a healthy goal. Trying to make everything around you perfect, maybe not so much. I have spoken in the past about needing control and being obsessed with that. You really can only ever control yourself. Your actions, emotions, you have full 100% control over those (with some obvious exceptions, of course — namely when depressed or under the influence). So be the person you want to be.

As a human being, you are gifted with individuality. You can become almost anything, so long as you continue working hard towards it (again, there are exceptions because that’s how this world works, so don’t go around saying you can become a magical fire-breathing unicorn if you try hard to, because that’s obviously not going to happen). Embrace the qualities you are proud of. And keep pushing yourself to grow into that perfect version of yourself. The best version of yourself. Never settle and never peak. It is okay to be happy with who you are, so long as you know you can be happier with who you can become. Always grow as you move forward. Always try to reach for perfection.