Tech deceptions

Tech deceptions

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*via Lizzy Hadfield

“The reason that technology so often disappoints and betrays us is that it promises to make easy things that, by their intrinsic nature, have to be hard. Tweeting and trolling are easy. Mastering the arts of conversation and measured debate is hard. Texting is easy. Writing a proper letter is hard. Looking stuff up on Google is easy.  Knowing what to search for in the first place is hard. Having a thousand friends on Facebook is easy. Maintaining six or seven close adult friendships over the space of many years is hard. Swiping right on Tinder is easy. Finding love – and staying in it – is hard.”

Bret Stephens in The New York Times

2019 goals

2019 goals

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Though the excitement of NYE’s is wearing off, and the day after today will feel like any other tedious day, today we are given an opportunity that comes around only once a year: the first day of the year. A new year… a blank canvas, a clean slate, a do-over, a fresh start. And sure, yeah, one could argue that when wanted or needed, any day is good to make a change in our lives. BUT, there is something more official, perhaps even more bounding, for starting new goals on 1/1.

So what are my goals this year? I’ve decided, based on my last few years failed attempts, that I am only going to keep three goals this year. Otherwise, there’s absolutely no way I will stick to them. Thought the number of my goals is minuscule, my resolution to keep them is huge. This year I will:

  1. Learn a new language.
  2. Exercise four times per week.
  3. Stop using my cellphone 30 min. before going to sleep.

The world is wide open for anything, for everything!

Things I am not allowed to say

Things I am not allowed to say

There is a list of things I am not allowed to say out loud.

That I worry every day that a day will come when I cannot remember how it felt to walk from my college building to my apartment on a fall day, or the way the crisp air felt on my face on my morning runs at Memorial Park. That there are days when I feel I dream too big, and there are days when I feel I dream too small. That I fear buying a nice bed frame only to leave it behind in a year or two or putting a nail to hang a frame because who knows for how long I will stay in this place. That sadly at this early age I have understood —and worse, experienced— both loneliness and solitude. That sometimes it takes every bit of courage there is in me to get out of bed to face what it seems another impossible day. That I hate the expectations that people have about me because I dread they will find out they have been betting on the wrong horse all along. That there are things I would change if given a chance; that I regret not meeting your eyes when you waited for me at the door. That try as I might, I cannot go back to easier, if not necessarily better, days. That I have been fundamentally changed by time and distance and that not often, but some times, I look at the mirror and I do not recognize the girl that looks back at me. That I have made my happiness dependent of two words: “When I…” and that late at night when I think of this panacea I realize it will not come down to it. And above all, that time is slipping by purposelessly and rapidly and no matter how hard I try to keep up, I am always ten steps behind it.

I am withholding; I am not withdrawing

I am withholding; I am not withdrawing

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In order to thrive, I have to subscribe to the belief that I do not owe everyone, everything. I am withholding; I am not withdrawing. Just as I am not sharing all of the bad stuff, I’m also not sharing all of the good stuff. The best stuff. I don’t want to curate a shiny social-media version of my life […]. But I also don’t want to write long, broken narratives about various issues I face because I do not want to invite conversation into what I am still figuring out. It’s delicate. It’s fragile. It’s mine. Because I know now that what I choose not to share are my most precious truths of all.

I Don’t Want to Convey Perfection Online, But Must I Bare My Soul? by Pandora Sykes

Last Friday, I had the opportunity, the privilege, actually, to read this article by Pandora Sykes. She is a British journalist, co-founder of The High Low podcast, brand-new-mum, and owner of an enviable closet, and boy, am I obsessed with her!

In the past people have used the words private and mysterious to describe me —and with good reason too. I have never been the over-sharer type of person. In fact, I gravitate more towards the never-sharer (yes, I know it’s not a word, but you get it, right?) end of the spectrum. I often feel the need to be cautious when sharing because my protective instincts want me to guard my most delicate feelings and passionate dreams as the sacred things they are.

I am not selfish in my desire to keep some things to myself and I am not mysterious when I do not share every thought that goes in my mind. Believe me, there are so many things that I wish I could share but that I feel unable to. I think it is because these things I cannot share are things that have marked me in a significant way. It is not the car I bought, the out-of-state move I made, or the too-good-to-believe job I landed that I cannot share. It is everything that sits behind a pretty picture and a perfect post. It is how much effort was behind it, what was sacrificed for it, how much some things hurt —and still do. It is how each one of this even has changed me, molded me, and defined me forever that I cannot share. Not yet anyway.

And that should be okay. Each one of us has the right to decide what to share, who to share it with, and when to share it too. But then why do we feel the obligation to share with others what is most personal to ourselves? Probably because our human nature demands to know that we are listened, that others feel what we feel, that they experience similar things, so that in a way, we feel less alone in our joys and less lonely in our sorrows. And this is okay too! Perhaps the hardest part of it all is deciding for yourself what you want to share and what you want to keep for yourself. So decide, and then understand that this decision, just like everything else around us, will and should change, adapt, and evolve.

Make peace with the all the things that you do not feel like sharing yet, and be happy knowing that you are only withholding, not withdrawing.

Austin

Austin

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I do not know why it has taken me so long to write this post.

Actually, no. I know exactly why it has taken me so long; this past month has been freakin’ hard! That’s why. I think this is the first time I have written this sentence: I live in Austin. I live in Austin and I really do not really know what this means. ‘Living’ is such a simple word: the act of being; but perhaps today you will allow me to be more philosophical about the meaning of this word. How do you know you are living somewhere? If the word really means the act of being, then what is being? Is it sufficient to be physically present somewhere to be living there? Is it supposed to be as easy as changing your address on you driver license? It obviously is not.

Sometimes I feel like I am not really living here. Like, I am physically here but my life is not here. I want to believe this is normal when you uproot yourself to move somewhere where you had never even been before. But even so, how long does it freakin’ take to feel like you are truly living in your new location? There are days when the life I am living feels like an extracorporeal experience. Like I think of my life and think, how is this my life? I am sure you must think I am over complicating an extremely common situation: moving out, for goodness sake! I am neither the first nor the last person to move to a new location. But hey, in my defense, I have always hated change so it is only normal that I am having such a hard time transitioning from my college days to adulthood.

I have now been here (notice how purposely I am avoiding using the word ‘living’ 🙂 for  a month. I can testify that Austin is really hot, like you-cannot-be-outside-for-more-than-five-mintues kind of hot. What are the highlights of this past month? Umm, the mosquitos are eating me alive; every day I wake up to find new bites on me. There is way too much dust in the air and no matter how many times you wash your car every week, it will most likely look like you have not washed it in a month. Traffic is awful and 8 out of 10 days you’ll find an accident on your way to/from work. However, Austin has a redeeming factor that almost makes up for all the inconveniences: the food.  Man, they really have good food in here!

I guess I have come to understand that ‘living’ is a gradual process rather than an isolated occurrence. Our living is actually a compound of multiple factors that one can only acquire with time: experiences, friends, memories, struggles, joys… And in matters of time, patience is almost always required. Like Edmond Dantès said: “All human wisdom is contained in these two words” ‘wait’ and ‘hope’!”

On one-way tickets

On one-way tickets

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Yesterday was a hard day. Yesterday I had to leave the apartment I have been living in for the past four years. Now, it should come as no surprise to those who know me that I am a sentimentalist. I cried when my oldest sister moved out of the apartment we shared and then again when my other sister moved out some years later (even though neither one of them was moving more than a 30-minutes-drive away). And heavens know that yesterday I was an ugly crying mess. The thing is that I am not only a sentimentalist, but a sentimentalist with a very good memory.

I remember the day we first came to look at the apartment. The apartment was empty and no one was there to show us the inside; nevertheless, we sat outside the apartment on the concrete bench and kept knocking for quite some time —enough to make our then-exasperated oldest sister say we would have to walk back home. I remember the day we moved in and the particular smell the kitchen had. We deep-cleaned the apartment because even then, we knew that this would be it for a long time, that this would be our home.

Ah, home! And what kind of home it was! I remember the day I came from school to find out I had been accepted to my program, the day I ran to the bedroom to tell my sister I was going to be a grad student, the day I didn’t get the internship I thought I wanted more than anything else, the day my sister mended my twisted ankle while sitting on the couch, or the somewhat frequent nights when I would come home at 2 o’clock in the morning. I vividly remember having our family over for Christmas just as much as I remember spending Christmas by myself in the apartment. I remember the birthday celebrations and the traditional Sunday meals shared in this apartment. Heck, I remember every dent I made on the furniture, every nail I put on the wall, every stain I left on the counter tops. It truly was my home.

Today is my last day here in Utah. I first arrived here with one suitcase; a red suitcase that had, I thought, my whole life in it. I’d lie if I said that I had no expectations for this place, because boy did I have them! I had expectations because I was a naive 18 year old girl who knew very little about life. I predicted my life here to be fun and care-free but instead I encountered hard and demanding. And for a long time Utah was to me, well, cold and nothing more. I hated it here and, while I am embarrassed of admitting it, I did seriously consider going back during my first year here. But alas, as I do with most things, I came to love Utah progressively, not immediately. Now Utah is also my home. Certainly not by birthright, but because, just like a newborn who is brought home to grow and develop, I too learned a great deal about myself, about others, and about life in here. And today leaving Utah feels like leaving home.

I think the saddest tickets are those that are one-way. Most people look forward, running towards that which is ahead. I, on the other hand, look back, mourning that which I have lost. Because you can go as far away as you want to, but a part of you always stays behind. Similarly, you can go back as many times as you want to, but it will never be the same.

I now have to go show my one-way ticket to the nice lady at the gate door.

P.S. To my Utah friends, please forgive me for not saying goodbye; after reading this you must know I hate saying goodbye. I still love you, though.

November, you’re one for the books

November, you’re one for the books

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In November I pretty much went MIA. The truth is that I had too many spinning plates on my hands and some of them had to be dropped (or at least held still for a while). This November has been filled with memorable events and defining decisions. It’s just a month that I will remember for years to come and to honor it I want to write an extremely simplified recap of it. So here I go…

November started with good and sort of complicated news. There are so many chapters in my life that are coming to an end and making peace with this has been both hard and reassuring at the same time. But do you want to know what is harder than closing chapters? Opening them! And opening chapters means making decisions. It’s like you have a blank page to start over and while this is exciting, it is also very frightening. No big deal, we are just talking about the next 5 years of my life! *breaths into a paper bag* I wish I had a better idea of the things I want to do, as well as the places I want to them in. Sadly, as I’ve gotten older, the end goal seems to be clouded with so much fog that sometimes it’s hard to know where I need to go. But there’s always deadlines that push help me to make decisions and move forward. So I finally plugged the cord and made my decision and even though I’m still waiting for the panic attack to happen, I’ve decided to take a leap of faith. Here is to new beginnings!

Amidst this decision-making process, I celebrated my 23rd birthday! It was a fun weekend. The inauguration of the celebrations started with a marathon of season 2 of Stranger Things. I basically made my sister watch it together with me as part of my birthday (because I’m a coward that wouldn’t have done it alone). And yes, pretty quickly we were into it. On Saturday morning, I woke up to a special breakfast courtesy of my fabulous sister. Of course that means donuts and apple pie! My sister gave me a beautiful blouse that she made herself, flowers, and [insert drumroll sound] a food processor! I’ve wanted one for a long time now. I’ve added it to my cart so many times but I  never went through with it. And my sister she got it for me 🙂 Then I watched Murder in the Orient Express because if there’s anything Agatha-Christie-related, I’m in. We finished the day shopping and having dinner with some friends where we ate the birthday cake I made for myself. I feel truly blessed for all the family and friends that showed their love for me in many different ways this day (and every day too). I am so lucky to have these people in my life, people who support me wholeheartedly, unfailingly show up for me, and love me unconditionally. To all of you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

And then, there was Thanksgiving. I’ve found it really difficult to find motivation to do school work so this break was much needed. I think it mainly gave me the space to really relax and do the things I love. I baked so much during this past week and I couldn’t have been happier. I ate my weight in dinner rolls and apple pie. My sister and I finally got to finish season 2 of Stranger Things (it seriously took all my willpower to not watch it without her) and we did nothing but catch up and talk a lot. I didn’t grow up with a Thanksgiving holiday tradition, but I think the essence of this holiday is quite endearing. This year I am extremely thankful for opportunities. For the opportunities I’ve had in the past: to get an education, to chose for myself, to struggle; for the opportunities I have: to attend this university, to associate with people I’ve come to respect, admire, and love, to become the person I want to be; and for future opportunities: to grow, to develop, and to evolve.

May we always be grateful for the things we have and lack. Today and every single day.

Please do not have a nice day…

Please do not have a nice day…

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…Have a day that matters.

Have a day that’s true.

Have a day that’s direct.

Have a day that’s honest.

It is not often that I think what my funeral will be like. In fact, I have never really thought much of it until last week. I watched The Last Word movie last week. Basically, the movie shows the life of the truly successful and ultimate perfectionist Harriet. As the end of her life comes closer she sets out on a mission to have her obituary written by the local journalist so she can approve it (as if she was going to leave this important task in the hands of fate). After doing some research, Harriet reaches the following conclusion:

There are four essential elements to a really great obituary. One, the deceased should be loved by their families. Two, the deceased should be admired by their coworkers. Three, the deceased must have touched someone’s life unexpectedly. And the fourth, that’s the wild card.

Of course this is an arbitrary statement but it did make me reflect. Our lives are meaningful not because of our accomplishments, but rather for the ways we touch other people’s lives. If anything, it is a good reminder that we should be more intentional with our actions and relationships.

November 1, 2017 🎉🎉

Etiam si omnes — ego non

Etiam si omnes — ego non

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Last week someone gave me one of the biggest compliments I have ever received. After class one of my professors said to me “you never give an opinion until you have fully understood what is happening.” As lame as this sound, I felt validated in my decision to be intentional with my opinions. It really is the satisfaction that comes from knowing that somebody else sees this in me.

It requires no effort to spit out the first thing that comes to one’s mind. On the other hand, not giving an opinion on a matter you do not completely understand requires discipline and a lot of self-control. More importantly, reserving your opinions to yourself until you have a good grasp on the subject needs to be a deliberate action.

Weirdly, the timing of this compliment was perfectly matched to me coming across an article, The Dying Art of Disagreement. Please take 15 minutes of your time and read it; I has so many valuable truths in it. One of the many great points that Bret Stephens, the author of this article, makes is this one:

To disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.”

If I had a penny for every person who foolishly shares a weak opinion on an issue he/she has no understanding, I would be sooo rich! Like, really rich. To be honest, it bothers me every time I hear someone who stubbornly thinks his/her opinion is the ultimate conclusion of an issue. Perhaps, this is the reason why I keep quiet until I am able to give a good opinion. An opinion that reflects a deep understanding of the issue. An opinion that shows you have consider the issue from different perspectives. An opinion that considers consequences that go far beyond a short period of time. An opinion that sees the people involved in it and thinks of ways they could be affected by. An opinion that exhibits compassion, kindness, selflessness, and fairness.

Yes, there are many things we must consider when forming an opinion. Ironically, the only way to have good opinions is to listen to other people’s opinions. And here’s the key to get the most out of other’s opinions: listen with intention and purpose; do not arrogantly dismiss the ideas that go against your own. No one likes a person who vaguely listens to what one has share. No one. So just don’t be that person.

I can imagine what you might be thinking, our opinions set us apart from others, they make us who we are. Yes, they do. However, while it is important to develop our individuality (“Even if all others, not I”), it’s equally important, if not more, to expand our tolerance. Treasure different opinions. Welcome contradictory views. Instigate healthy debates.

Let’s try to save the dying art of disagreement. One opinion at a time.