It has been half a year since I touched this. Let me bring y’all up to speed through a listicle:
- Started working at my job in San Francisco
- Splurge with my first paycheck
- Hanged out with Claremont friends in the Bay
- Familiarized myself with the marine conservation movement
- Saw more Claremont friends in the Bay
- Traveled to Washington DC for the first time for my fellowship orientation
- Went to SF Zinefest and reconnected with the power of art and community
- Started rock climbing
- Had a work retreat at Santa Cruz
- Continued to see more Claremont friends in the Bay
- Went to community event and conferences that nourished me with warm energy
- Traveled to New York City for the first time for a marine conservation conference
- Began seeing more community friends
- Met up with a couple of Claremont friends in the Bay
- Started to become more active in community activism in the Bay Area
- Started drawing class and build creative confidence
- Got involve with NQAPIA’s triennial conference that will be happening June 2018 in San Francisco
- FaceTimed Claremont friends
- Got into crystal healing and exploring my own spirituality
… And that brings up to December. So far, it has been a hectic ride with a lot of soul searching and being in a relationship with myself. The process continues in exploring what means to connect with people, how to love them and their “imperfections”, and what a community looks like while reconciling your needs and others.
From my previous post about having to be heartbroken, the question “why do I want to be in a relationship?” evolved to understanding how I internalized a particular perception of relationships. This issue is not fixated towards “romantic” relationships but, more importantly, the everyday connections we make with those around us and how life shapes them. Since May and June (aka graduation and being heartbroken), my approach to being in a relationship with others, especially in the Bay Area, was heavily fixated towards an academic and activist mentality. I was talking in tongues and jargons that no one in the Financial District in San Francisco could understand. While there were a couple of people who understood my theoretical rhetoric, it was still isolating to know where I was. My loneliness became the result of the inevitable transition of post-grad life and uncanny yearning to live in the past of my scholarly self.
The healing process that coincides with the relationships around me was definitely tough. It was through countless conversations with college friends and reading literature and articles (such as bell hook’s All About Love, Thich Nhat Hanh’s How to Love and various articles from “The Body Is Not an Apology”) that lead me to discover my own romanticize perspective of being in a relationship. The aspect of “letting go” of someone was not just simply me forgetting my exes. It became having to liberate myself from the idealized fantasy that I was so desperately wanted to uphold. My body and mind were chained to perceptions of being:
- A “good” boyfriend to a significant other – wanting to go back to the relationship and fix what was “broken”
- A “true” friend to loved ones – having to accept all the wisdom or “tough love” without question
- A “prodigal” son to my family – living up with expectations and baggage that was past down onto me
The list goes on and on with all my identities. This mentality becomes dangerous through communication and how I would treat others. Projecting my idealized reality through words and behaviors would always conflict with other’s realities. Whenever there was an opportunity to connect and grow with someone also brings challenges and conflicts. Sometimes, we would forget about the potential hardships and want to stick towards the positive moments. I would state that this is where pain and growth constantly collides.
Painful growth has been a reoccurring theme throughout the past few months. It will probably be a constant theme throughout our lifetime. The negative aspects of life: the ugly, sad, depressing, dirty, uncomfortable should not be so bad as they are intended to be. I think it is simply human to wrestle with these nuances. This can be seen as a rainy, stormy weather. After the storm, it becomes peaceful again … but in a different way. Maybe some flowers lost their petals or trees fell over. But in the end, it becomes a “new” normal.
My “new” normal will be looking like moving out of my parent’s house. It will be finding a part-time job to keep up with the high cost of living in the Bay Area. It will be focusing on my art and be discovering what it means to be an “artist.” It will be continuing to love myself first before others. It will be building communities for others and myself. It will be the sweat, blood, and tears of surviving. Hopefully, by the end of the day, my “new” normal will be me thriving.