Category Archives: Musings
Since my last post, I have made it through graduation alive and relatively sane. Although all the worries and doubts from before were still there, I tried my best to focus on graduation for what it was: a celebration of the achievements of me and my peers over the past 4 years. It was a hectic and frenzied 3 days, but sitting among the sea of light blue in my own matching cap and gown, I was happy and proud to be graduating from such an amazing university and share the occasion with my family and friends.
I don’t think the fact that I won’t be returning to Columbia in the fall has quite sunk in yet, but hints of nostalgia are already beginning to peak above the surface from time to time. But with so much change on the horizon I’m forced to look forward and not back. Right now I’m back home for a bit, before moving to San Francisco on June 9. So I’m busy looking for jobs and apartments and procrastinating on my dental school applications. I know I’ve said this for just about everything this past year, but I’m both scared yet excited about all this change. Look forward to more posts about starting this new chapter in my life soon! But not before a post about Yufei and my post-graduation vacation to the US Virgin Islands!
It’s a little more than 2 weeks away from graduation, and I’ve been feeling like I’m at the lowest point in my life ever. Isn’t this supposed to be the best time of my life? Then why do I feel like I’m going to have a mental meltdown every other day? Am I the only one who’s feeling this way?
Let me back up a little. I have had an absolutely incredible time at Columbia, met some amazing people, and I’m truly excited about graduating. But I’m also more anxious and uncertain than I’ve ever been. Over the past few months, I have seen my peers get into fantastic graduate schools, get great awards and scholarships, accept jobs and fellowships, get engaged and married. They all seems to have it TOGETHER and have life FIGURED OUT.
And here I am, this close to walking across the stage, and I feel like everything around me is falling apart. In a few weeks, I will be thrown out of my dorm and I have nowhere to sleep for a few days in New York City. Then I have to move across the country to a city where I know no one and start living together with my boyfriend. And I will have a super expensive and hard earned degree but still no job (and trust me, it’s not because I haven’t tried). And now parents tell me that my dad might switch jobs in the next few months and they might have to move again. Everything is changing and shifting and the future has never been foggier.
While I’m happy for all the successes of my peers, they are a constant reminder of the things I don’t have. Why don’t I have those things? Don’t I deserve them too? Shouldn’t I have something to show for at the end of my 4 years at an Ivy League school? Why can’t my life be at the point where everyone else’s seems to be in? I wish I, too, had good and exciting news to share with my friends and family when they ask about my post-graduation plans, instead of just a forced smile and admitting that I’m “still trying to figure it out.” I just feel lost and stuck. Stuck at the edge of a great precipice, forced to move forward with no paths to follow. At this point, I don’t even feel the need to “have it all” anymore. I just want ONE THING to go right, to be certain, to hold on to.
I have no conclusion to this post. I wish I did, I really do. Just like I wish I had the answers to the next chapter in my life.
My ceiling light stopped working last night. It turns off by itself after 2 seconds of being on, and I have no clue what’s wrong. My room is already dark since it’s shafted, and now I only have my little desk lamp for illumination. And knowing Columbia, facilities will take at least a week to fix this. And I HATE the dark. After daylight savings last week, I’m already feeling a little SAD-ish, and now this just makes it worse.
And then last night I left my window open just a crack, and somehow despite the fact that it’s already mid-November, there are apparently still mosquitoes in New York, and I got bitten in at least 10 places. Consequently I barely slept. And I woke up this morning with 6 bites on MY FACE. And they’re itchy and they burn and they make me look like I’m breaking out like crazy.
And when I got up last night to spray bug spray on me and accidentally got some on my glasses, and this morning I find this huge crack on one of the lenses of my $700 Prada glasses. I have no idea if it’s the bug spray that somehow did it, but it makes no sense. And I have to wait until Christmas to get new glasses. And now I know I HAVE TO get glasses, instead of having the choice of getting sunglasses or prescription sunglasses. And I just used the word “glasses” way too many times in this paragraph.
And then I was looking forward to watching HIMYM tonight because I thought it might make my day better, but NO. Gosh it’s so heartbreaking. Especially after the ending of last week’s episode. I feel so awful for Barney… ugh.. I can’t even. And Robin… homegirl needs to sort things out. Seriously. And even though I still have faith in the writers to turn this around, I also have no idea what’s going to happen next, and it scares me. Robin’s really going to have to redeem herself. She has some soul-searching and growing up to do before she can do that though. But gosh… so sad for Barney. Would he still believe in him and Robin after this? I’m scared. Ted, please fix this! :(
And then I hear that Community is being pulled from NBC’s mid-season schedule. WTF. Why don’t more people watch this show?! It is so funny and so clever and so original. UGH. Praying it doesn’t get cancelled.
So pretty much tonight I’m sitting in my dark dorm room wearing my cracked glasses with red itching bites all over my face being sad about TV shows.
“Wow, we come from vastly different academic backgrounds,” said Ian, my fellow summer intern, at lunch.
“Yeah, but it doesn’t matter anymore now that we’re here, does it,” I replied. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the statement was mostly aimed at myself.
If I dare say so myself, I was a high school superstar. I consistently got the highest grades in almost all of my classes, many of them AP, throughout high school, taking home the top student award every year from grade 9 to 12. I was on the debate team, was a member and later a coach of the math team, served on student council, and was involved in numerous other extracurricular organizations. I painted and designed murals and other things for my school. I volunteered. All the teachers and principles knew me and loved me. I took and won math and science competitions. I only lost 10 points total on my SAT’s, including 3 SAT subject tests. And to finish off such a high school career, I was my class valedictorian, the winner of the Governor General’s Award, and got accepted to Columbia University. And all of a sudden, none of that mattered anymore.
And I was okay with it. After all, I was expecting to be just average at a school like Columbia. I still got good grades, perhaps even better grades than I had anticipated. But I can’t help but feel like an underachiever at times. Like when I barely get above average grades on an organic chemistry midterm. Or when I lose a prestigious summer internship to someone who wasn’t even chosen as a finalist. Or when I’m home, looking at the bookshelf in the study that’s filled with my plaques, certificates, medals, and trophies from high school. Sure, next year my Columbia diploma will join their ranks, and maybe that alone is a bigger accomplishment than all the rest of them. But still, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’ve been somehow under-performing since I graduated from high school.
Maybe it’s simply the fact that, at this point in the game, you don’t get gold stars anymore for a job well done. A nice looking GPA and the words “Dean’s List” on your online student account just doesn’t feel as great as a big ceremony with presentations and plaques. And nobody really cares about your nice internships or leadership roles when everyone else has the same or even better ones. I understand all that, and I accept all of it, but why do I still feel like such a loser sometimes?
I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and I think I’ve come to a good conclusion. It has to do with losing sight of my goals. In high school, my goals were clear: get top student in physics class, get at least a 2300 on my SAT, get into a great college. I knew what I wanted and I knew what I had to do to get it. But now that I’m at Columbia, things have been different. I thought I knew what I wanted (to become a doctor), but along the way I encountered things that made me unsure. And so I’ve decided to become undecided, to just stay in the moment and focus on right now. But you know what? That doesn’t work for me. That’s not how I operate. I can’t focus on studying organic chemistry when I don’t see how it will contribute to a concrete goal. I just can’t. Recently I realized that what I need is something to work towards, something I really want, something that is going to motivate me and re-energize me. I miss the feeling of having a goal to work towards, and the rush of happiness when I know that my hard work has paid off. The reason why I feel like I’ve been underachieving is simply because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be achieving in the first place.
I’m not good at being undecided. It agitates me, worries me, and ultimately renders me apathetic and void of motivation. So this is what I need: a goal, a goal I truly believe and want to invest my time an energy in. By the end of the summer, I hope to have gained enough experience to make that choice with confidence. It’s high time I set my mind to something and just work for it. Because it’s only then that I truly feel like a superstar, even if no one else recognizes me as one.
Camp Okawehna was one of the most surreal, exhausting, frustrating, fun, incredible, and ultimately rewarding experiences of my life. I’ve had some time to think it over now, and I’m still not exactly sure how to describe it, but I will try here.
First of all, it was HARD. It was hard because of many different reasons. Before this, I had never worked with kids before, not even healthy kids, so spending a whole week being responsible 24-7 for 3 girls aged 9, 11, and 14 who have all had kidney transplants was tough. A lot of the times they didn’t want to do the activities, or didn’t want to get out of bed, or wanted to go back to the cabin before we were supposed to, or they all wanted to do different things during free time, or were just moody and upset for no apparent reason… you get the idea. Thankfully, one of the other counselors in the cabin is the kids’ nurse back home in Memphis was very helpful and made my job easier. Still, for a week I was care-taker, cheerleader, meal server, arts and crafts assistant, play companion, bug killer, clothes fetcher, bed maker, child transporter, style consultant… from 7:30 am to 10 pm or later every day. I had never realized how much work it is to take of children before this, but now I have a very good idea.
The other thing is, being an only child and thus a somewhat solitary person, it was quite a change to be constantly around children and other adults all the time. At times I felt like I was going crazy not having more than a couple of minutes to myself each day. I relished those walks to the nightly counselor meetings… which were just about the only “me” time I got each day.
Then there’s the fact that I had to be out in the woods, living in a cabin, with no internet and barely any cell phone reception, with bugs, heat, humidity, and dust. this is probably as far from NYC as you can get, and I’m a city girl if I didn’t know that already. Everyday I was caked in layer and layers of sweat, bug spray, sunscreen and dust, not necessarily in that order. Showers would help a bit but only for about 5 minutes. Ah the lovely wilderness.
But even though all these things made camp frustrating at times and I almost had total meltdowns a few times, I still had a wonderful time. The girls in my cabin, and all of the other campers, were such amazing and special children, so full of life and energy that if you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t even realized that they were sick. I know I certainly forgot that fact at times. It’s only when you see them having to take 7 different pills a day or having to miss out on activities due to having to go to dialysis or not being able to go into the pool because they had a catheter that you realize that they are sick, and how lucky you are to just be healthy and alive. And it has been a while since my days were this full and active that at every meal I was starving and ate absolutely everything on my tray (even the salt-less chips).
In the end, I’m very proud of myself for getting through this week. I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience, learned many important life lessons, and met some of the most incredible people. Camp O 2011, it’s been real.
So I’ve been home for a few days now, and it’s been pretty good so far. For starters, I did way better in my classes this semester than I expected, especially orgo II; I’m pretty proud of my comeback after the disaster that was orgo I last semester (worst grade ever at Columbia… shame). But yay! I’m very happy about my grades. And now I’m officially a senior! Oh wait… I’m a senior now?! This idea brings complicated feelings which I am not ready to deal with at the moment, so let’s just forget about it for now.
So I got back home Thursday night, and on Friday I just chilled here in the ‘burbs, fed some fish, saw some ducks, you know. Then Saturday I went to Richmond with my parents, where we got a ton of stuff at Chinese supermarkets and had delicious dim sum at Fisherman’s Terrace. And then after lunch I made my way to Vancouver to meet up with some high school friends, chatted a bit at UBC (I’d forgotten how pretty the school is, but a very different kind of pretty than Columbia), and had a lovely night at Milestones downtown. Sunday: gym, pool, watch hockey (I can watch hockey again!). And today… stuck at home and I broke our cable, so it was rather boring. So I went and took some pictures of our flowers that my dad is so proud of, some of which I have showcased below:
Wow, exciting life I’ve got there, I know. And can I just take a minute to complain about the weather? It SUCKS. We had to turn on the fireplace and it’s May. Not cool (actually, too cool).
Aight, new topic! How I Met Your Mother season 6 finale tonight… how do I feel about this? Nervous and excited at the same time. See, this is the reason I don’t watch TV much: I get way too obsessed and I get really involved emotionally that it can’t possibly be healthy for me. But it’s too late for this show. Aiyaiyai.
So. I’m really happy about the Erikson baby! So happy that something’s finally going right for Marshall, it’s true that the guy’s has a tough year. Not much happened with Ted, though good riddance that Zoe is finally gone for good. Barney and Robin. How much do I love these two together? The scene in the cab… oh my goodness. Then that scene when they’re on the sidewalk with Ted, it was so heartbreaking. And that last look from Robin… I do desperately hope that in the end, in the very end, Barney and Robin end up together. Yes, they were a mess, as they admitted themselves, but also as they admitted, they really did (and perhaps still do) love each other. So it was a beautiful mess. Obligatory Jason Mraz song insertion:
The song is actually kind of perfect for them. Sigh… I do so much want them together. So do I think that the wedding is Barney and Robin’s? I want to believe that, but only if goes well, since there are rumours that the wedding doesn’t go great and it will be the end of someone’s love story and such. So I don’t know. I don’t want to put too much faith into anything right now because again, it would just make me sad if it doesn’t turn out the way I want. But really, after 6 years, I really can’t get too invested in a new character like Nora, and certainly not to the point where I’d see her marrying Barney. So… yeah.
While we’re on the topic of TV shows, I know I just said that I can’t watch too much TV but I came across this trailer for Fox’s new show New Girl and I’m really excited!
Because it looks hilarious, and because the amazing and lovely Zooey Deschanel stars in it. Excited!Ok it’s late now and I’m tired and I know this post was just all over the place, but whatever. Sleep time!
A lot of people probably reach a point in their lives where they feel like everyone around them is getting engaged or married except for them. It’s probably normal. If you’re like 30 years old. This is happening to me now. AND I’M ONLY FRICKIN’ 21. What on earth?!
Starting only a few months after graduating high school (and even before), little hearts started to pop up occasionally on my Facebook feed, notifying me that such-and-such acquaintance is getting engaged. At first I was like, okay, I know a lot of people, there are bound to be some that are starting to get there. But then in this past year it’s just been crazy. Two days in a row now someone has gotten engaged. And let me just day that these are all people who are younger than me or within 4 years older than me. I can’t even count the number of people my age who are either engaged or married on both hands anymore.
How do I feel about this? I’m not sure. Just to be clear, I am not judging these people for getting married so young. On the contrary, I’m quite glad that they’ve found their happiness so early in life, and it gives me hope in love. But on the other hand, I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t freaking me out just a little bit. And I’m not even sure why. I mean, I have a wonderful boyfriend of 2 and a half years, so it’s not like I’m feeling desperate in my love life. And I have no intention of getting married before I’m at least 25. I don’t even have a degree yet! Heck, I haven’t even finished the Core! How are these people who aren’t even legal to drink in the States ready to get married?! It sometimes boggles my mind. All these people make me feel like at this point in life, I SHOULD be ready for this huge thing in life. But I’m not. It feels so so far away and foreign. And to think that these people that I went to high school with just a few years earlier are already there is just… such a strange feeling.
I know it’s ridiculous to feel this… pressure or whatever it is that I’m feeling, but I can’t help it. And it makes no sense because I neither want nor am ready for what they have right now. Maybe it just adds to my overall panic about my future in general. Maybe because I know I want to have some sense of where my career is going before I get married, and since I have no clue of the former at the moment, people who already have the latter figured out make me feel years behind. (Ugh. My parents just called me down to have the “what are you planning to do after graduation?” conversation. Which is not helping anything. Seriously people, it’s freaking me out.) Yeah, that sounds about right.
So… I don’t really have a conclusion to this post. I just had to write it down to let go of some of the frustration and it actually helped me come to a reasonable explanation to why I was feeling the way I was (I HATE feeling crappy and not know why). So… yay? Anyway. A happier post shall follow tomorrow.