inexperience: realization 33

Typically whenever I find myself doing something for the first time, I feel uncomfortable or as if I am in over my head; I doubt my capabilities or feel as if I cannot do the task properly. A part of it is me wanting to do well from the get-go and not fall behind, but another part of it is that I want to build my confidence with a task. But that desire to gain confidence and momentum is a double-edged sword. When I do excel, I become an unstoppable force. Very little can halt my growth and process at that point. But when I fail, the self-loathing begins. I feel like I am making a fool out of myself, and that anything I attempt causes me to dig an even deeper hole. It is an inescapable doubt. But that is what happens when I lack experience. Inexperience causes uncertainty, and uncertainty can lead to doubt when things go awry.

I still remember the first time I worked in a fine-dining restaurant. It was terrifying. The equipment was completely foreign to me. Their definitions for cooking terms, completely different than my usual vocabulary. I felt lost, overwhelmed, and I quit within the second day because I felt like I could not handle the stress. Inexperience does that. It makes you feel incompetent when you fail. It gets harder to feel like you can succeed or excel when you already are in uncharted waters, and then you find yourself sinking. That increasing sense of discouragement, it just ruins one’s confidence. It gets hard to kid yourself and think that you are capable. But if you really are passionate about something, you will find a way. You will be able to overcome any obstacle that presents itself.

As much as inexperience can create doubt, experience can create hubris. Specifically, I mean arrogance. Cockiness. When you do something so many times, you can fall victim to thinking that the task is easy, doable with minimum effort. In some cases, that is true. But in a lot of them, having this kind of attitude will eventually set you up for failure. Being too much in your comfort zone, refusing to put yourself out there and face new, unfamiliar concepts or challenges, you become a big fish in a small pond. There will be less room for you to swim, less room for you to thrive. You will be too relaxed and too complacent for your own good.

What sucks is inexperience will always be a part of our lives. There is nothing we can do to prepare for it. However, you need to always remember that we will all be faced with incidents where we are inexperienced. That is what being a human being and living on this Earth is though. Facing new things and finding ways to adapt to them. But rather than being afraid of hesitant, we just need to embrace that we are doing something unfamiliar. Have an open mind. Do not ever feel like your own pride comes first. By doing that, you gain the experience without necessarily hurting yourself emotionally or mentally. Being arrogant or being nervous will never help you. Find that balance between being cautious, but being proactive. That is key to being mentally strong enough to overcome inexperience. That is essential to living a feather-light life.

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Panic: realization 28

Whenever I am late to things, I’d typically default to the habit of panicking. My eyes would tear up, I’d start hyperventilating, and the adrenaline kicks in for me to get moving. It’s a terrifying feeling. I get this sense of panic, where I cannot stop thinking about needing to do something. To get my closure. To finish the task. It’s all consuming, obsessive, and most importantly, something that needs to stop. People tell me all the time I need to calm down, take a breath, and relax. My personality, it’s naturally neurotic, highly stressed, and it just is not something people want to be around. The last thing somebody wants is to get panicked or scared every time they are in my company. And the last thing I want for my own health is to be constantly panicked, stressed, or terrified.

This sense of urgency that drives me being panicked, it comes from my need to complete things and my strive for perfection. But panic should not be the reaction I have to being pressed. I should be driven, I should be motivated, but I should never feel scared, helpless, or incompetent. The main reason why I feel this way is because I do not like to fail. And I do not like surprises. I don’t care if it’s a good one like surprise party. I do not like them. It also goes back to me wanting to feel like I am in control, and when I lose control of my situation, it scares me. That sort of uncertainty, my reaction to it is to relinquish control of not just my situation, but me. I shut down and freak out.

Being forced to adapt to sudden and unexpected changes frustrated me. Typically, these were changes that were out of my control; others were being incompetent, and now I am being forced to compensate. It was so frustrating. But with time pressing on, my frustration and urgency come together, and it shuts me down. I just get angry, scared, it’s a mixture of emotions that I struggle to channel properly. What I hated the most about panicking is that I did not understand how to control it. But what people were saying to me, rather than taking it personally as me being stressed equating to being annoying, I just took that as advice. I’d take a breath. I would cut off contact with the source of my stress. Between doing both, the panic goes away, along with the tunnel vision that comes with it so to speak.

My panic attacks, they stemmed from a similar feeling of me thinking very little of myself. Something I have come to realize is that I have already achieved a lot and I have a lot left to achieve. Rather than thinking about what other people think of me, I need to think of what I know about myself. If I am a capable person, what’s there to be panicked about? And if I am not, then now I have a goal to aspire to. I need to first make myself a capable person, so that I will not have to be afraid again. By becoming a capable or competent person, then sudden changes or feeling useless won’t happen. You can become the person you want to be, and ignore any fears or doubts.

 

Meant to be: realization 27

I mentioned before that I was a chronic perfectionist. I wanted things to be a certain way, and it got to the point where I’d have emotional breakdowns when things did not go the way I wanted them to go. How things should have been or were supposed to be. I honestly cannot stress enough how painful it was to see my visions left unrealized. My goals, the hopes I had for aspects of my life, the way things were meant to be. But the whole concept of things happening because they are meant to be is utter garbage. Nothing is ever meant to be. Nothing is ever pre-destined to happen. As human beings, we have the ability to break the molds we are set and cast in, and do whatever it is that we want to do. If anyone were to tell us that we were meant to be a certain way, we can prove them wrong. That’s called independence. As for when things do not go your way, then just learn to adapt. You cannot expect to control the outcome of a situation if not all of the deciding factors are in your hands.

I was always transfixed on making my life a certain way. Graduate, get a manager in training position in accounting, get promoted to director of finance in two years, then move to Japan to open my own bakery in 10 years. Having that sort of life plan, down to the ETAs of my occupations, it’s neurotic and stressful. And I doubt it will happen. Simply because there are so many factors that I have yet to account for. Pun intended, I guess. I can’t control the people interviewing me for this MIT position; if I don’t even get that position from the get-go, then I can’t even start on that track, and I will need to think of something else. So why bother thinking about each step? I have one goal. To open a bakery in Japan. There are so many other routes I can take, ones that give me more industry-relevance and credibility, than to be in accounting and transition to food and beverage via baking.

That kind of stress, always worrying about how things are supposed to go, it’s unnecessary. Being fearful, about the what if’s, if something goes wrong. Then what? In the past, I’ve had emotional breakdowns and cried. I couldn’t stand behind myself because my self-confidence was so low. But now, I just have learned to roll with the punches. When things blow up, I access the situation at that moment and make my decisions as I go. I refuse to worry about things going a certain way. I have a vision, and I will try to execute. If it works, then good, if not, then I will try to make something out of my mistakes. I refuse to wallow in doubt and self-pity any longer. I will always find a way to get back up, and continue fighting back, and showing the world that I will not give up because one thing didn’t work out. Throwing a hissy fit over that, it’s called being a brat. I don’t want to do that.

Rather than feeling bad about the things that have already happened, or how I could have or should have done something, I need to focus on the present. What’s there still left to be done? I can’t let my past demons come back to harm me. While yes, it’s important to embrace yourself, past, present, and future, you can’t let yourself get lost in what you perceive to be mistakes. Embrace the present as in accept the outcome and do what you can to improve off of it, rather than be angry about the fact you couldn’t quite accomplish or achieve what you attempted to. Opportunities to do that will arise another time. And another time after that. You have a long life to live, with many doors and windows left to open and go through. Just knowing that will help you keep a feather-light mind.

 

 

Driven: dream 24

I’m sure I’ve spoken about it in more than one post already, but why can people be so timid? I will admit I used to be a very soft-spoken, timid, and shy person, but I learned to not be that way after I saw how little being the understated one did for me; all of my peers in high school would be getting perfect 2400s in SATs, getting full rides to good schools, getting straight As in their honors and APs, or being varsity athletes, members of the play production team (basically like AP Theatre Arts), part of aristocracy or choir, or on board for clubs. And then there I was. Quiet, shy, awkward, not terribly good any most things. I took my honors and APs, but never got about a B in any of them. I got a 2000 SAT, but that was after taking the damn thing 4 times. I got into a good college, but alas, no financial aide or scholarships. I used to be varsity-level in Cross Country; I was never properly promoted to the varsity team, even though I kept up with them. I did Theatre Arts for three years, but I never was able to get into the play production team. Granted, it was because I never took a chance on myself and actually apply for the team. Bottom line, I was in my own way. Too shy, afraid, and hesitant to push myself more and to try harder for myself. Luckily, that all changed in college.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned the first suicide attempt at least 5 times on this blog. So I won’t bother talking much more about it. But that was the catalyst for me to realize how much more I need to accomplish in life before I drop dead. I knew at this point that I loved to bake and cook, so I built off of that. I kept practicing, training, learning, and eventually I found my way into the kitchens of James Beard Award-winning and Michelin starred chefs. As for my grades, I was studying Food and Beverage, something I was passionate about, and Accounting, something I was naturally good at being a numbers person. So getting on Dean’s List was easier, because I was in my natural habitat with both; I am refraining from saying comfort zone because while I was comfortable with both topics, I still pushed myself and always took chances, such as participating as much as possible or taking one more step in being inventive or productive with my work. I never did a varsity sport in college, but I could care less. I still ran anyways, and managed to average 8 miles a day. And on top of that, I was basically an entire board in one person, being a president, advisor, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, as well as a culinary instructor, all at the same time. How is that for being driven?

You don’t need to attempt suicide to realize your potential. You just need to keep pushing yourself and not get into your own head so much. A big reason why I tried to jump into the freezing ocean when I already had so much going for me was because I felt stressed, scared, and incompetent. That uncertainty of not knowing if accounting or finance was really something I was passionate about, or if my future was going to be me cornered into who only knows what sector of hospitality, I just felt trapped and completely helpless. But if I just kept working and not let my mind wander off to such a dark place, then I would have been fine. Granted, being driven does come in waves. You just need to make sure that if you have down time from work or obligations, not to stress over factors that are completely out of your hands or things that cannot be changed. Do something else that is productive. Take classes on hobbies you have interest in. Watch documentaries. Just keep filling your brain with knowledge. That being said, I am still in the home stretch to adulthood, so now more than ever, I need to focus on working my ass off and impressing people during interviews and job applications, not wondering if this is the right thing for me. If it isn’t, then I can always just switch careers later and then play catch up; I welcome being the underdog. It’s a shit ton of fun to prove to people you are a lot more than they expect you to be.

The thing I appreciate about driven people is that they do not get distracted by relatively pointless things like their own personal problems. I just think about a girl from high school, who I will call Grace. And yes, she was one of those overachieving types I mentioned earlier. She graduated college in two years, and then went into a full ride at Law School, and is graduating from that in another two years, so the same time I’m graduating normal college. And trust me, her personal life stresses me out from just hearing about it. Her parents divorced and both of them moved back to Korea, her brother lives in a different county (not country, so please don’t misread that) than her, and the only family she has is her cat and maybe an occasional boyfriend. And on top  of that, she works so that she can pay her rent and bills. And she’s my age. Grace never had the luxury or time to think about her own problems. She just kept pushing. I’m sure she must be hurting emotionally and mentally, but seeing her work through that and keep fighting for her dreams, it’s inspirational to me. And she’s like 6 months younger than me. So if any of you guys ever think you have problems or whatever, just know there are people like Grace who do have it bad, but they endure it and keep achieving. If everyone in the world had the drive like Grace, or the Grace-like drive, then we can all accomplish so much in life. Our own personal problems will seem so small in comparison to our achievements that we won’t even have time to think about them. A world so productive, yet drama-free, it truly would be feather-light.

 

Stress: realization 17

Being a former line cook, I know a thing or several about stress. Being forced to work under pressure can sound intimidating at first, but that feeling of when you overcome the challenge and deliver, despite the intense circumstances, it’s the best feeling I have ever felt. Stress, pressure, whatever you want to call it, it’s basically when you feel like you are backed into a corner and you cannot get out. It’s when you feel like you are not adequate enough to solve a problem, and you are scrambling to figure out what you can do with time you have until that clock hits 0. At first, I used to suck under stress. I would freeze, trying to figure out what to do, and my eyes would start to water from the adrenaline as I am rushing to figure out what to do, and second-guessing whether or not this is the best way for me to complete the task at hand. That was embarrassing. I used to get a lot of crap for being that way. To gain the experience to work well under stress, you just need to keep putting yourself through it, while having the mentality that you will try your hardest and not give up until you make ends meet.

Now that is a lot easier said than done. You can say you will scale Mt. Fuji, but doing that is a lot more difficult. You can say that you want to be better at dealing with stress or pressure, but you need to actually put yourself through that repeatedly before you can become adaptable. And, if it wasn’t obvious, stress differs with each kind of situation or task; case in point, I learned how to adapt to working in kitchens and cooking in general, because I have years of experience in that field, but when it comes to things like event planning, it took me a while to get used to being adaptable under those conditions of having to coordinate with so many different people and vendors to make sure an event runs smoothly. The worst for me was having to own up to a mistake and trying to come to terms with making one. Being such a perfectionist, I hate making mistakes. One of my mottos is “never repeat the same mistake, never relive the same regret.” So at the least, from dealing with stress from event-planning and in life, I have learned to let go somewhat; I can make a mistake, but I don’t want to ever make the same one.

Stress can be a great thing as well. I have learned how to become a stronger person just because of how much stress I was put under. But when you are put under too much stress of a foreign kind, it can be difficult. Living with your mentee while being on the same board as them would fall under that category for me. It was basically the stress of having a child. I was constantly losing sleep over making sure that they were okay. Because we were living together, I could not process, cope, and overcome the stress I was going through. I would even go as far as to say that it has scarred me emotionally and mentally. My every thought became making sure that my mentee was safe, happy, okay, etc. Unfortunately, everyone has to go through that kind of stress at one point in their lives. All I can say is that some causes aren’t worth fighting through the stress of. Trying to care for and live with my mentee wound up being one of them. Trying to be an advisor for that board, again, not worth it.

You should use stress to push yourself forward. To make you try things you never would have thought to do before. You should never let stress be something that holds you back or down. When you are stressed, you build adrenaline. Use that adrenaline to overcome the stress. When you can’t overcome the stress for whatever reason, step back, and step away. It is not worth putting your body and mind through continuous stress and agony just to get results. I would like to reiterate that you should not go around looking for stress, nor should you put yourself through it just for the sake of getting better at handling it; that sort of behavior will just cause your body to break down. But when stress comes knocking on the door for you, that’s when you can jump into action and show you can overcome it, and not let it weigh you down. Ultimately, stress is one of the biggest obstacles we all have to face in life. We can’t just all dive in and kick butt with it. We all need to find our own pace at dealing with stress, and get better at it from there. But learning how to handle stress and make your own life less hectic, that is key to living a feather-light life.

Forest: dream 10

Hiking through the woods is a very nostalgic feeling for me. Moving hometowns, I went from the suburbs to a mountain covered in trees, right next to the ocean. It was an isolated heaven, so to speak. The woods and the forests nearby, I felt so curious and eager when I explored them. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was that need to sate my curiousity.

The woods, you know you’re there the moment you see the vastness of trees spreading out before you. Stepping onto the damp soil, feeling your shoe sink in slightly, you smell the wet bark, hear the chirping of birds, buzzing of bugs, and you feel like all of the problems from your everyday life just melt away.

I will clarify right now that I am not a camper. I cannot sleep in a tent for my life. That being said, making day trips to the woods and forests are a lot of fun because it’s the best of both worlds for me: I get to explore nature, then sleep in the comfort of my own home and bed.

When I’m in the midst of a forest clearing, I can look up, see the sun just peeking through, and just be in awe of the shades of green, yellow, and red from the leaves that just catch that light. I feel safe. It made the weary journey to there, through the gnarled, root studded soil and facing the possibility of death by bear mauling, completely worth it.

Darkness: dream 9

This post is a test of my sanity and happiness. Just writing about my inner darkness is a trigger for my anxiety and fears. That photo was taken right before I tried to jump into the 0 degree F ocean. But if I can overcome that fear and write about it, then I’ll just come out of this stress that much stronger.

My biggest fears include being left behind, dying without a sense of purpose, and the darkest would be growing old alone and being left behind and completely forgotten by my friends. That one really scares me.

When I’m in this state of darkness, reason doesn’t exist to me. I felt alone, scared, worthless. I feel like nobody else understands this uncertainty and numbing fear I am experiencing, and that just pushes them away.

The biggest challenges in overcoming that are: properly communicating how I’m feeling so that people understand why I need help, and taking this feeling of loneliness and turning it into something positive. I need to make sure that, even though I’m alone, that I can take this as an opportunity to make new friends or focus on myself.

You can take these dark moments in your life, and find ways to embrace them. See them as challenges to overcome to make you stronger. Being afraid and being nervous are understandable. Trust me, I know the feeling all too well, and talking from retrospect, I wish I could have seen my situation in that light. Unfortunately, if you do succumb and you make irreversible mistakes, just learn from those and find new ways to move on. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You just need to find it first.

Adjourning: realization 8

Adjourning is a term I learned in business school, specifically when I took the organizational behavior course. It is the end of the team building process, where team members go their separate ways after completing a goal or a project. Adjourning itself can take many forms. It can end peacefully, with members wanting to stay in touch. Or it can end poorly, and everyone would want out of interaction as soon as possible.

Teammates aren’t the only groups of people that can adjourn. Friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, they can all adjourn too. For me, the closer I am to a person, the harder adjourning is. That’s natural. You’ve reached a certain routine with that person, so separating is hard. With my most recent roommate situation, adjourning was painful. I had become so used to living and caring for this person, whether they appreciated that or not is another thing, and having to move out of the apartment because of how bad our situation wound up, it hurt. Even when I came back to grab my stuff, and to see that my roommate took their name tag off our door, and even packed up their own stuff, it made me sad.

For those of you who are wondering what the entire situation was, we shared an apartment-dorm in college, and then us living together had horrendous mental and emotional tolls, resulting in me trying to kill myself and them basically becoming an unresponsive shell of a human being. Even though living together was taxing, because we had adjusted to such a routine, and because we did care about each other a lot, that’s what made adjourning so hard, even though we both knew it was for our own goods.

Being sentimental, in my eyes, it really makes the adjourning process that much more painful than it needs to be. My suggestions is find new ways to move on and forward. New hobbies, new friends, just find something to distract yourself. For me, I took on singing, writing, and krav maga. Yeah, I’m learning Israeli karate, because it’ll be a good distraction from life. Focusing on the aspects of life worth caring about, and focusing on what you do have, and what you can have with a little hard work, and not what you have had, that’s how you can put the pain of separating behind you. I find it hard to cope with adjourning, but if I keep walking down the path that I am, which is finding new opportunities and things to immerse myself in, then I know that one day, I can really feel feather-light.

Awkwardness/confidence: dream 6

What does it mean to be awkward? A Google search will tell us that it means to be “causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience.” For the longest time, I would be described as socially awkward, and I’d interpret that as being weird and funny; generally, quirky. Even in a previous post, I assumed that you can be comfortably awkward around true friends; obviously, I meant to say quirky, not awkward. Friends would not make you feel unaccepted, uncomfortable, or like you are an inconvenience. Friends, you can be quirky, comfortably in your own skin, and just exuding of confidence.

Being confident for me means that you can be strong for yourself, even when nobody else is. It’s hard to do that at times, when you feel alone, isolated, or outnumbered when it comes to people who believe in you. I had to fight through a lot of self-doubt and anxiety to be a confident individual. Whenever I step in front of a crowd of people, I have to ignore that fear of people looking through me, and only seeing me for my awkward childhood. That fear of being awkward, it’s a constant battle between trying to be confident, not awkward. To feel like my existence serves a purpose, rather than creating a burden.

I wish I never had to worry about being awkward. I would rather everyone just be equally confident, but not try to treat each other in a condescending way, just because they act or think differently. Everyone should be entitled to their own opinions. I obviously say that with the exception of people who strongly believe in extremism or sadism, because in almost any situation, those things are obviously not going to help the world in any way, and I don’t want the internet trying be a smart-ass with my words and try misquoting me. Sorry, snarky moment there.

The real question for me is why can’t we all be confident? Why can’t we just be happy with ourselves and believe in the purpose our individual existences provide the world? Without every person here, we could not function as a species. We wound not be able to move forward so easily. The only reason we have for feeling awkward is that we let the opinions of others weigh us down. While yes, if others dislike you for being rude or selfish, that is something to think about, but if they just call you weird (assuming you’re not like a pedophile, furry, cannibal, or something along those lines of extremeness), then you really just need to ignore them. Feel confident, not awkward. That’s how you can really enjoy your life that much more.

Closure: dream 5

I am the type of person who needs closure to be happy. Whether it’s knowing who my Secret Santa is, the ending of a long series, or what I will be doing the summer following a school year, I just want to, and for the sake of my mental contentment, know what to expect. I guess it comes with my Myers-Brigg; I am an INTJ. That means I’m introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging. My judging attribute just means that I need to have a plan, a schedule, and for me to make these sorts of things, I need to know what to anticipate so I can prepare accordingly.

One thing I guess I can never understand is why certain people need time to process change before they can talk; by time, I mean like a bloody month. I’m sorry, and I will try to not sound insensitive, but when things change, you need to confront it, and talk about it. That’s how I am. I need to confront when there are issues or changes that are put in my way. People who need time, I don’t understand if they are just immature and need more time to understand these things, or if they are being passive aggressive and trying to slowly torture somebody like me, who would rather just rip off the bandage and talk about a controversial situation.

I would rather be in a world where people are driven, direct, and upfront than a world where people are slow, “chill” as so many of my peers would say, and take everything in at a very slow pace. For me, I just prefer to get it over with. Having to take time, I get that if a situation may be dire, people may need time to process the exact repercussions and changes, but do these changes really need 1-2 months to really let them sink in? I’d rather just live in the moment, put the awkwardness behind me, and then move on to the next part of my life.

One of the things I have recently learned is that I am a Type A personality. I just need to do rather than see. That, coupled with my Judging designation, means that I need to know things. I need to finish anything I set my mind to, and have a full understanding of what and why I need to finish them. I guess another thing to consider is that when it came to the Thinking category of my MBTI brand, I was 100% Thinking, but 0% Feeling. So maybe it’s that sort of callous attitude that makes me get over things rather. I really try to not live through my feelings, because whenever I have tried that in the past, it ends very poorly. Fun fact, I cannot feel my way through life. I like using logic and my brain. But in an ideal world, I would much rather people be upfront and direct about their thoughts, and honestly, I don’t even care about things like spoilers. Just let me know what to expect. Give me that closure. That way, I can feel less stressed or worried. I can finally feel feather-light.