One Year Later

One year later,

It’s my anniversary.

One year later,

I’m still working at the nursery.

This same time last year, I was finishing up school for good,

I was happy and excited, feeling as I should.

It was crazy that I could finally say, “Hell yeah, I’m graduated,”

Feeling all the emotions but mostly relieved and elated.

It’s my one year anniversary, please don’t congratulate me.

Please don’t remind me I’m not where I want to be.

To this day, graduating has been the highest of my highs,

But let me tell you something, and let me know if it applies.

Nobody tells you how low you can feel when your highest high is all done,

You worked so hard to reach the finish line, but the journey has just begun.

And I know there’s a couple of you done reading about my emo post-grad shit,

But some people reached out and said they can relate, so let me ramble on a bit.

If you’re feeling like me, this poem is dedicated to you.

You’re stuck in post-grad limbo, and you don’t know what to do.

Rejection email after rejection email, you tell yourself to keep applying.

People ask how the job search is going, and you give a half ass smile and say, “I’m still trying.”

High key embarrassed to admit that I’m not used to all of this,

I’m so used to achieving my goals, not shooting and then miss.

I don’t mean to sound cocky or over confident,

It’s just so different from what I’m used to – I’m feeling mad incompetent.

How ironic is it that the girl that planned her future step by step,

Is falling apart even with the “mise en place,” in prep?

A year ago, I thought I had it all figured out.

But now I’m so lost, and I ain’t faking this for writing clout.

So many emotions that constantly run through my head,

To be real I deal with this post-grad funk by staying in my bed.

It’s so hard to prove that you have what it takes when there’s so much competition,

I fantasize about my successful career, while I struggle to find an entry-level position.

But at the same time, I’m picky and I won’t just write for anything,

Keeping my writing voice and being real still means everything.

I refuse to sell out for a high paying job that doesn’t align with my beliefs,

I know that I got to start from the bottom and that’s what adds to my grief.

A year ago, I felt on top of the world and was ready to take on this new beginning,

Now a year later, I want to remember what it feels like to be winning.

Cole told me, “things change, rearrange, and so do I,”

He said it ain’t always for the better and he ain’t lie.

But I know this is a path I must walk with patience and my head up to the sky,

I’m a firm believer that what’s mine is mine, and if it’s meant for me it won’t pass me by.

I can’t wait for the day where I can look back and say,

“Damn, look how far we’ve come, you just took it day by day.”

But for now I walk through the valley of confusion,

Planning out your future to the T is really an illusion.

I’ve forced myself to just try to go with the flow,

Because when the timing is right my heart will truly know.

So I’m at that point in my life where I don’t know what to do,

And I realized it’s okay to be a little lost and not have a single clue.

But she’s resilient, and she’ll take this day by day,

She’s a writer, she won’t give up, she got so much more to say.

San Francisco to Sweden

This love story started with a swipe in San Francisco. It was October 2016, and little did Alisanne and Karl know that this first date would change the rest of their lives.

Karl and a friend were visiting San Francisco for a week. They came to the Bay to attend a gaming convention, and would move on to visit Mexico City after. It started with a Tinder swipe. Alisanne honestly doesn’t remember coming across Karl’s Tinder profile, and believes that a friend may have been the one swiping on her account. Either way, she’s happy that their paths crossed.

They met up for dinner in Hayes Valley, and Alisanne made sure to bring a friend with her to the date. They really enjoyed each other’s company, and Karl asked if Alisanne would like to meet up during his last few days in San Francisco, since his week here was almost over. They hungout more and ended up really liking each other.

However, Karl was visiting San Francisco from Sweden.

After his week in San Francisco came to an end, Karl and his friend headed over to Mexico City. But Karl and Alisanne still kept in contact, even when he went back home to Sweden. In fact, they communicated almost everyday. The time difference from San Francisco and Sweden is 9 hours, so communication was not always easy.

It was also not easy for Alisanne to tell her parents about her new flame. She considers herself close to her parents, but there’s just some topics that she knew would be difficult to open up about. Her love life was one of them. When she finally opened up to her parents about her long distance relationship, her fears of their disapproval turned out to be true.

“For my parents, they really thought it wouldn’t last,” Alisanne explained when I asked how her parents reacted to her long distance relationship. “They always did the whole ‘oh, why can’t you stay here,’ and, ‘you might find someone else.’ They were upset that my long distance relationship took up most of my time (talking to Karl) and sometimes they would try to get me to stop ‘wasting my time,’ but I told them it was my decision to be in this relationship and they couldn’t really force anything on me.”

Alisanne admits that defending herself against her parents’ opinions sometimes scared her. It took a lot for her to voice her opinions to her parents that at the end of the day, she’s an adult and will be doing what she wants. And that is somewhat against the Filipino culture. Most of the time, Filipino parents don’t view you as an “adult” until you’re moved out, married, and providing for yourself.

After Karl left San Francisco, he and Alisanne continued to get to know each other over the phone. After 2 months of talking, Karl invited Alisanne to visit him in Sweden. At this point, the two had no official title labeled on them. Still, Alisanne accepted the invitation.

This was Alisanne’s first trip out of the country solo. She was nervous and scared, and now that she thinks back to it, she realizes how dangerous it all could have been. But at the moment she was excited to see Karl and his family. When she told her parents that she was going to visit Karl in Sweden, her parents were freaking out. Her dad demanded Karl’s number, Karl’s mother’s number, and Karl’s address. Her dad even talked on the phone with him before she left. She knew that her parents were just worried and was just looking out for her, but she does see how crazy it must’ve been to an outsider – given that she was 21 years old already – an adult. This was just the beginning of the culture shock of being a Filipina from the Bay Area and dating a chill Swedish guy from Katrineholm.

She spent New Year’s with Karl and his family, and Alisanne got to meet his family and friends. While Alisanne’s family was trippin’ out, back in Sweden, Karl’s family welcomed her with open arms!

“Alisanne came to visit me in Sweden the first time only 2 months after I left,” Karl said. “I didn’t have a driver’s license back then so I asked my family to drive me to the airport in Stockholm to pick her up. That’s not a small favor to ask when the airport is a 4 hour drive total from where I live! They said, ‘ok let’s go!’ 4 hours later we had lasagna together with my family before we got back to my place.”

After Alisanne’s first trip to Sweden, the couple made things official and started doing long distance. She visited Karl about 3-4 times throughout their long distance relationship.

It was August 2017 when Alisanne decided that she wanted to apply for a visa to move to Sweden. She was just about to start her last semester at San Francisco State, and knew that it took about 8 months to almost 2 years to get approved for a visa. However, the universe was on her side and she somehow miraculously got her visa in four months!

“Karl and I did talk about who would move and I eventually decided for myself that it might be pretty cool to move to Sweden,” Alisanne said. “I just finished my bachelor’s in business admin & management, had some money saved up from my last job, and had no plans after school. I also thought it might be harder for Karl to move to the U.S. with all the hectic immigration rules and papers.”

When Alisanne first told her family that she was applying for a visa to move to Sweden, they kind of brushed it off. She believes that her parents thought that it would take over a year to get, because she thought the same thing. When they realized how fast the process was going, that’s when it got real. They were all shocked, Alisanne included, when she got approved in 4 months! Her parents started to get sad and worried because they didn’t think it would be so soon. She completed her last semester at SFSU, and moved to Sweden December 2017, a year to the date of her first visit to Sweden.

Her parents were sad, but in the end supported her decision. They reassured her that she could always come back home if things didn’t work out. She left with one suitcase with all her belongings. This thrilled her little sister, since she could take up Alisanne’s closet space. Alisanne was nervous to move to Sweden, but was ready for the change. At that point, some of her extended family members moved away from the Bay Area. She was done with her degree and was dying to move out of the house.

She did have some fears though. All her and Karl ever knew was long distance over the phone. As you can imagine, getting to know your partner and learning each other over the phone is not easy. There were plenty of fights long distance, and Alisanne feared that they would continue those trends in person. Fortunately, that was not the case, and the couple rarely fights now a days. Karl was worried about Alisanne transitioning to the Swedish lifestyle. He feared that she would be homesick and not like her new home.

Alisanne was homesick for a period of time, but with time she adapted to her new surroundings. The cultural differences and way of life amazes her. Sweden is so different from the Bay Area. She was so used to San Francisco’s diversity – the melting pot of different cultures. Now a days, she finds that she is sometimes the only Asian in the coffee shops and stores. However, thankfully nobody has given her a hard time because of her ethnicity. In fact, almost 2 years of living in Sweden, Alisanne has discovered the Filipino community out there! She describes the Swedish culture to be laid back, chill, and very accepting. So different from what she grew up with- in a very traditional Filipino household.

July 2018 Alisanne and Karl learned that they were expecting! Alisanne was very hesitant to tell her parents that she was pregnant. They reacted kind of sadly, and almost a little disappointed. But her dad let her know that they just want what’s best for her, and being a parent is a big deal. This bummed Alisanne out for a short time, but her parents came around and supported her throughout her pregnancy – checking up on her and asking how she is.

Over a year later, and baby Svea has caught the hearts of everyone around her! Her family from San Francisco and Sweden adore her. This past summer, Svea officially became a U.S. citizen. She is officially Swedish American. She has yet to visit San Francisco, but Alisanne and Karl plan to visit once Alisanne renews her visa.

“Svea has brought out loving parts of us that Karl and I have never seen in each other before,” Alisanne shares. It makes me really happy!”

For right now, Alisanne and Karl are holding off on more kids. She would love to give Svea siblings closer in age, but the cost of another child for the couple right now isn’t ideal. Karl is a teacher’s aid for grades K-6, and helps kids who need extra attention. He also helps out at the after school program. It’s convenient because the school is one block away from their apartment! He comes home during his lunch breaks to spend time with Alisanne and the baby, since she’s currently a stay at home mom.

Alisanne has been a stay at home mom since Svea was born. For the past 1.5 years she’s been unemployed in Sweden, but Sweden’s maternity leave is pretty sweet. The parents get maternity leave of more than 400 days split between the two. She plans to start looking for jobs around March.

Alisanne wants to put her degree in business administration to use in Sweden. However, she fears that most jobs in her field will be in Stockholm, which is 4 hours away from where they live. But she knows she needs to get her foot in the door eventually, and is looking at a neighboring city, Norrköping, which is a 20 minute train ride away.

Since Svea has been born, Alisanne’s family is persistent and hoping that they will come back to live in the Bay Area. For the time being, Alisanne is focusing on renewing her visa, since her 2 years is almost up. Once that gets sorted, Alisanne wants to book a trip to San Francisco as soon as possible! As for living back in the Bay, Alisanne and Karl are uncertain about the cost of living back in California. They definitely want to stay in Sweden for about 5 more years, but don’t have any solid living plans after that, they may stay, or they may consider moving back. For now, they are content with their little family in Katrineholm, Sweden.

“Alisanne and I met the first time when my friend and I were on vacation in SF,” Karl explained. “We matched on Tinder and I asked if she would like to show me around the city. I had my first date when we went out to dinner together, I was confident but not expecting much. The whole evening passed and closer to midnight we said goodbye, looking forward to seeing eachother again. I tried to not get my hopes up too much, I’d rather have a happy surprise than get disappointed. One could always dare to dream. We’re all looking for ‘the one’ to share our lives with. Here I am with a family of my own. They are fantastic and I could not wish for anything else in the world. Who would have thought that a match online could lead up to something like that!?”

Imposter Syndrome

“…it’s only natural I explain my plateau, and also what defines my name…” -Nas / J.Cole

These last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling stagnant, uninspired, and I’ve had hardcore writer’s block. I’ve thought about skipping out on blog posts some Mondays and falling off the wagon for a week or 2. But I knew that would only make me feel worse, so I pushed on.

I’m just over 3 months into consistently writing every week, and I’m high key disappointed in myself that I’m running out of gas this quickly. And honestly, running out of things to write about haha. I know that just means I need to reignite my curiosity on topics and really sit down and think on what to write about.

This is just another wave of the post-grad depression blues. Especially since this December will mark my 1 year anniversary of graduating, I’m almost positive that’s why I’m feeling the way I am. Damn. Let me repeat that. One year. And it sucks because the times I feel off like this I think, “One year post-grad, and what do you have to show for it?” And like I said in the past, this was supposed to be my 1 year “break/chillin'” year… the irony. And I annoy myself because I purposely planned on taking off 1 year to just focus on my blog and passion projects, which I have been doing. So why do I feel like this?

I’m projecting “I’m a writer, I’m a writer,” on all my platforms, but sometimes I think, “But are you? You haven’t been published since SFSU’s Xpress Magazine…” and I hate when I doubt myself like that because it puts me in a mood where I overlook everything I’ve already accomplished, and doubt my decisions I’ve made up until this point.

I’m dealing with Imposter Syndrome so bad right now. What is Imposter Syndrome? Gill Corkindale explains:

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters‘ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence

While Karen Schneider describes Imposter Syndrome as:

A lack of self-confidence, anxiety, doubts about your thoughts, abilities, achievements and accomplishments, negative self-talk, feelings of inadequacy, dwelling on past mistakes and not feeling good enough these are all signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome. And these thoughts and feelings plague all people, successful people, men and women of all ages, races, and orientations.

I felt this way when I was preparing for my speech at the Women Gender Studies Conference in Fresno this past April. I was presenting my paper on The Body Positive Community as the new wave of modern day feminism, and I wrote about 11-12 pages on it. But when practicing, I felt like I was going to draw blanks. This is a topic I’ve been so passionate about for a couple of years. I did my research, I had articles to back up my points, and I still felt like, “Ok, but who are you to be presenting this? Are you really that educated on the topic? Or are you just going to go up there and sound stupid like you don’t know what you’re talking about?”

I vented these frustrations to my community college journalism professor, Nancy. The same visit where she told me, “you’re always ahead of one person and always behind someone else,” when it comes to success. I was telling her about the Women Gender Studies Conference and how nervous I was. I even told her how I was lowkey thinking about not going, but the only thing stopping me was the fact that I booked the AirBnb already. She looked at me and said, “You have Imposter Syndrome.”

She explained to me that Imposter Syndrome is normal and that she herself has been in my shoes. She was delivering a speech infront of other professors and colleagues and felt the same way I did. She was questioning herself and her successes, but still pushed on.

And that’s the position I’m in right now. I feel like an imposter, lowkey. I’m a writer. But I haven’t been published in a while, and I’m attaching my credibility to the number of times I’ve been published. And it sucks. And the only person that puts me in this mood is the same person that can get me out of this mood. And that person is me. I’m doing it to myself. And that’s what’s hella annoying.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a lazy motivated person. If that’s even possible…. but clearly it is, because here I am in the flesh. Let me break it down. I have dreams and aspirations, I want to inspire and spread truth to my readers. I know the steps I need to take to achieve my dreams, and I always end up taking those steps, however, it’s always at procrastinated rate. I’m lazy as hell, but I deliver when its crunch time. Its so bizarre. In school, some professors would praise me for my work, little did they know I started it at midnight. I never missed a deadline, but waited until last minute to get it together, and I always got by with pretty good grades. And that’s how I earned my degree. I guess I do my best work under pressure and borderline anxiety attack and mental breakdown. I’m stressed and anxious now, not knowing what steps to take towards my writing career, but at the same time, what do I expect? This is all I’ve ever known. The stress of “Will I make it or not?” The scary part is, this isn’t for a grade, this isn’t for a paper or project that won’t matter anymore once I turn it in. This time it’s my future, my career.

I get into these moods where, for a period of time, I will be so motivated and I take initiative. I grab life by the balls and get shit done. And then, out of nowhere I’ll feel like how I feel now, burnt out, unmotivated, and I want to fall off for a minute. When I’m feeling really low is when I somehow shoot back up and repeat the process of having immaculate motivation and nothing can stop me, until I run out of gas again. I’m still trying to find the balance of having a continuous motivation and drive, without burning myself out. I want to be at a constant level of productivity, not seesawing back and forth from motivated and inspired, to feeling unfulfilled and down in the dumps.

I was on Instagram, and a friend I follow posted on her story a quote. It was something along the lines of, “People speak about their problems and battles only in the past tense,” and the quote goes on to say people only share their struggles when they already are passed it and have a solution. And that stuck with me. And it’s true. I talk a lot about my past stories, and what lessons I realized they taught me. And nothing is wrong with me reflecting on past events and stories because it does take time to reflect and grow from things. But also, I wanted to share what I’m currently going through, in the moment.

I think that’s why I was feeling a little unmotivated to write – because I was covering topics I was interested in, but I wasn’t addressing how I was feeling in the moment. I will say that writing this blog post was waaaaay easier to write. I guess I need to vent and be real with myself. Put it down in writing how I feel. Right now. Not when I’m already over it and decide to share.

Right now, in this moment, I’m confused, I caught another wave of the post-grad blues, and I’m doubting myself and my abilities. I’m feeling like a fraud because I haven’t been published in a while. I’m feeling some type of way because I’ve almost been out of school for a whole year. It’s so hard to rediscover yourself as someone other than a student. I’m still exploring the non-student-Marinelle. And it’s a confusing time and I want to cry, but at the same time I wouldn’t know what I’m crying for. Just feeling lost, confused, and unsuccessful?

Ever since I’ve started writing consistently, a lot of people have reached out to me saying how proud they are of me, how they’re inspired, and how they look forward to my writing. Thank you, thank you 💘 I appreciate every single person – friend or stranger- that has ever reached out to me with kind words. It really means everything. If you read my stuff and get inspired, I’m so glad and happy my work is touching someone in a positive way. And I’m hoping by sharing my struggles in the moment, it’ll help someone who is feeling the same. Because I don’t have a solution yet. And if I want to inspire others and tell real stories, I need to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And I will say that writing this all out has been therapeutic haha. I don’t know who I’m writing this post for – y’all or me 🤣. But thanks for reading, just riding yet another post-grad wave. 🏄🏻‍♀️

The Podcast Pitch

I just want to say thank you to everyone that took the time to read / share / comment/ support my last post. Like I said a billion times, it was a story I’ve been wanting to share for a long time. My Body Positive journey has definitely been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to force myself to do. In the beginning, every day was like a new challenge. Was I going to keep pushing and unlearn everything I’ve ever known up until that point and truly accept my body at any size? Or was I going to give up and fall victim to the same ideals that have held me back for so long? When I say it was a mental battle – Me vs. Me – every day, I mean it in every aspect. It was exhausting.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is what it would feel like sometimes. Was it too late for me? Am I already set in my ways and I’m in too deep? How long will this take before I throw in the towel? It was truly a metamorphic experience. It took a really long time to get to where I’m at. Not saying I don’t feel shitty time to time – I definitely do. But for the most part I am can truly say I live a body positive lifestyle and it really brought me inner peace.

Especially studying in the Women Gender Studies program, I felt more enlightened. I was taking classes in this field while concurrently working on my mental health and body dysmorphia problems. And it seemed like everything was all meant to be. I was meant to make the conscious decision to accept my body and go down the self-love journey, all the while learning about women empowerment and feminist ideals. I love that my program really stressed the importance of intersectional feminism. It made me realize that just me as a person alone is a rebellious act. I’m a woman, a person of color, plus-sized, and in the terms of living in San Francisco – a broke bitch.

When I started progressing in my mental health journey, I realized that I was acting and thinking exactly how corporations wanted me to. They’d rather have people be insecure and unhappy so they can sell products to their insecure consumers. And I refused to be another statistic.

Self-love really does not happen over night. It’s a journey forreal. And when I say journey, I mean a whole life long journey. You’re constantly changing, growing, adapting, making new experiences. Nothing remains the same, circumstances are always different. And you’ll feel those same highs and lows in your journey as well. It takes time. A lot of people reached out to me after I posted my last post saying they don’t know if they can ever start/ get to the point of accepting their bodies. But it’s really never too late to work on yourself. Best believe I’m gonna be an old ass grandma still struggling with my inner demons and trying to resolve my shit. I feel like as long as you’re conscious and aware that you want to change up your way of thinking/ make steps to becoming a better you, that’s all that really matters. Because there’s nothing more lame than a person who gives the excuse “Well, that’s just how I am.”

Working on my body dysmorphia and discovering the Body Positive Community made me realize that self-love is so much more than just liking and accepting what you see in the mirror. It’s internal as well. It made me realize – looks and appearance aside, am I a beautiful person inside? Am I good human being? I could be the baddest bitch out there, but if internally I’m rotten and toxic, what’s the point? And this journey really opened up so many other doors and layers of myself that I didn’t even know existed. You start discovering yourself. Is this really me, or the me I want people to know?

Anyways, that whole ordeal of me in class unfollowing everyone on social media that made me feel bad about myself happened towards the end of 2016.

Fast forward to last year, Fall 2018, my last semester of college. It was close to the 2 year anniversary of when I decided to accept my body and fall in love with the body positive attitudes and beliefs. And in those 2 years, I’ve tried to brand myself and advocate for bigger bodies and size diversity. I’ve decided “that’s my niche, that’s what I’m going to be known for” -in the writing world and in general. I’m out here putting it on my bio, occassionally writing about it here and there, and doing things that – at the time- I believed made it “obvious” what I stood for and believed.

Since my last post was so heavy and somewhat triggering, I’ve decided to share one of the most embarrassing moments in my life.

To all my friends and family that I’ve told… Yes, it’s the story of when I cried infront of my whole class 😭🤦🏻‍♀️😫

Listen, this was my last semester of college and then I was done.

I was in the Online Journalism class with Sachi as my professor. I’ve had her in the past, and she’s cool as hell. Every assignment she ever assigned to me – either in the Online Journalism or Multimedia Journalism class – it seemed like she knew that’s what I’ve been wanting to do/ start but didn’t have the balls to do it on my own. Of course, how would she know… but that’s really what it felt like to me! As if the Universe herself was like, “Listen, I’m tired of you dreaming up these ideas and never following through with your lazy ass… so0o0 I’m just going to make your professor assign it to you so you have to do it.”

I’ve always wanted to start a podcast. Of course one that focused on body positivity or anything along those lines. So when Sachi told us our assignment was to come up with 3 podcast ideas, I was all for it. She explained that a good friend of hers who is well-known in the podcast industry would be coming to our class to hear our pitches. We would have to give our reason, why it’s important, why would anyone care, who its geared towards, who we would interview, and basically do our best to try to sell our idea.

And then, the nerves started to get the best of me. When I was planning out my 3 pitches, I even considered not adding the body positive one at all. I’ve never given my “why” infront of people. I felt dumb for parading all through social media that I’m a body positive advocate, yet I’m scared to give my back story. In fact, very few knew why it was so important to me and why it pulled at my heart strings.

“Podcast on ghost stories” I wrote down. The amount of done that I had with myself 🤦🏻‍♀️ ….. I ended up writing out the body positive podcast pitch, explaining that I’ve been insecure my whole life, how I was in a verbally abusive relationship in the past, my eating disorder, and all the above. Basically, my last blog post summarized into a paragraph.

I had my pitches printed out and ready to share that night (it was a night class). Originally, Sachi said we’d be sharing all 3 ideas. But with the amount of time we had and the number of students that were in the class, we’d be there 5 ever. So she said pitch our #1 idea, and you know what else? Fuck it, don’t read from your paper, make it conversational and sell it to her!

😫🦋😫🦋😫🦋😫🦋😫🦋😫 went my tummy.

What’s crazy is I usually don’t really care about presenting. Yeah, it kinda sucks and I get a little nervous, but for the most part I’m like, whatever let’s just get this over with. NOT. DISSSS. TIMEEE. 💀💀💀💀.

Each classmate went up in front of the whole class and pitched their idea to our guest – Sachi’s friend who is well known for her podcasts. Sachi was standing at her desk behind her friend. My classmates were killin it! They were mad chill and sellin it! Nobody read from their paper, shit they didn’t even bring it up with them when they got up. The passion in some of their voices was inspiring. You just knew it was something they were passionate about. Some you could tell it’s their niche in a podcast pitch. I envied how relaxed everyone was.

Because from my seat, I was a mess express. My heart was beating as if I took 2 shots of preworkout. When the person in front of me went up to pitch, I was freaking out. Holy fucking shit. I’m next. I don’t want to do this anymore. Maybe I’ll just pitch the ghost story one. But I knew I’d be annoyed of myself if I took the easy way out and didn’t pitch what I’ve always wanted to start a podcast on.

The classmate in front of me was done. Everyone clapped. Fuuuuckkkk meeeeeeeee. I screamed in my head. My hands began to sweat, I turned red, my heart was racing so fast that I thought I was going to throw up and pass out all at the same time. I decided that I had to read from my paper no matter what Sachi said. I was way too nervous. It was either read from my paper or pretend like I didn’t do the assignment.

I walked up. “So I’m just going to read from my paper….” I said. Sachi looked at me like, bruh… really…. 🤣 I started reading my pitch, and I could hear my voice trembling and cracking. Literally so embarrassing. When I got to the part explaining how I was in a toxic relationship and how I developed an eating disorder, I knew I was going to cry. It built up inside me, I could feel my eyes watering. This was the first time I ever presented to people my why. Yeah, I’ve told those closest to me, but here I was, intimidated as hell because I was pitching to a well known podcaster infront of my professor and peers. My voice got deeper (if that’s even possible) and cracked some more.

Wellllllll if you’re gonna cry you might as well cry now because everyone knows you’re gonna cry anyways. I told myself. …..K! And then bust out crying. Not even talking about like a tear or something, but legit the ugly cry where you’re trying to talk but you’re uh-uh-huh-ing trying to catch your breath. I put the paper down, no longer reading or hiding behind it. I started freestyling on why the topic is important and why women need to hear this kind’ve stuff. It all just came out like word vommit – with a mix of ugly crying of course.

Towards the end of my speech, the girl towards the front of the room where I was standing handed me tissue. Y’all, she got up out of her seat to go to the bathroom to get my paper towels 😭💘 I thanked and her continued on. By now, Sachi was crying and the well-known podcaster was wiping away a tear or 2. I ended my rant with, “Sorry! I’m embarrassed. This is embarrassing.” Sachi and her friend quickly tried to snap me out of it saying it’s not embarrassing and that it just shows how passionate I am about the topic.

Still, I was so embarrassed. Seriously, probably one of the top 5 most embarrassing moments in my life. Everyone clapped as I sat back down and I was even more embarrassed. The insecure in me thought “Y’all are only clapping for me cuz you feel bad 😭.”

But what was even more of a FML moment was when I sat down back in my seat. The classroom is basically a lab room, so every chair had a computer infront of it. YOOOOOO, WHEN I TELL YOU I SAT DOWN AFTER MY PRESENTATION AND SAW MY DAMN REFLECTION ON THE BLACK IDLE COMPUTER SCREEN 😭💀😭💀😭💀😭🤣🤣🤣🤣 THAT WAS THE MF CHERRY ON TOP OF MY EMBARRASSMENT SUNDAE 😭😭💔. I literally look in the computer, staring at my reflection, internally Selena Gomez-ing it with the smile cry thinking “… literally why?! I hate you hahahahaahhahah why are you like this! 😫🤣” Forreal “when you look in the mirror and realize you played yourself.” My post cry computer reflection could seriously be a meme.

Anyways, I was so embarrassed that I really thought of dropping the class and taking it the next semester hahahah. But I was graduating and already applied for graduation. Dramatic. But that was really the first time I told my why. My reason. My back story.

Every single person that I’ve told that story to has literally laughed their ass off while I told it 🤣 To the point where my girls will be like “send pictures of you crying so we know its real,” “but did you cry tho 👀.” At the moment it was so embarrassing, like I truly believed there was no coming up from that 🤣🤣🤣. But now I think its hilarious.

I told Sachi I’m going to return in X amount of years as a guest speaker and tell the story of how I cried in her class to her class. By then I hope I’m doing something great in the journalism world. It’ll truly be an epic moment, and I’ll probably cry then too. 😫✌🏽

My Weight Gain Journey

Yes, you read that title right.

You always hear and read about people’s weight loss journey, but rarely about someone’s weight gain journey.

This is something I wanted to write about for a while, but never had the guts to do it. Probably in fear of getting negative comments, fear of getting too personal so publically, mixed with not being ready to share my story when I was still in the evolving process (still am, to be honest). But now, I speak my truth. I don’t expect people to understand my journey, and I know there will be a handful of readers that will disagree with me. But I’m not here to please everyone. You don’t have to agree with me.

I’m sharing my story in hopes that it reaches someone who is struggling with the same thing I spent my whole life struggling with. That self-love journey is the most intense thing to struggle with, especially since it’s all from within. It took me years to cleanse my mind of all the toxic Eurocentric beauty standards that I learned throughout my whole life. To unlearn all the negative thoughts people have and associate with my body type was in itself a journey. But most of all, training my brain to not speak and think negative things about myself was hard mentally. This is my story. This is how my weight gain journey saved my life.

I’ve always thought in my head how outsiders who don’t know me at all see my weight gain journey. Because let’s be real, it’s completely obvious. When explaining this blog post to close friends, I said, “You know, to outsiders who haven’t seen me since high school / early community college, they probably see me in person or on social media and think ‘Daaaamnnnn, she got hellllaaaa bigggggg!’ – thinking ‘what a shame,’ ‘damn, she let herself go!’ But if only they knew what I went through back in the day, and how unhealthy and toxic it all was. Gaining weight and “getting helllllla bigggg” is the result of what I like to dramatically label as my enlightenment.

🎶 Let me take y’all back, maaaaaan! As I do soooo wellllll! 🎶 *J.Cole voice*

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with my weight and body dysmorphia. I was always the chubby little girl growing up. I’ve literally been big since birth. My mom takes pride in the fact that I was 8 and something pounds and she pushed my big ass straight out the womb naturally. Honestly, she deserves all the boasting rights, she delivered all 3 of us naturally and won’t let us forget it! So since birth I’ve been labeled as the big baby.

You know how kids go through a chubby phase and grow out of it? Uh, yeah, I just never grew out of it. The words of adults when you’re that young really absorb in your brain quickly. Around age 4-5, you start being more aware of yourself as a person and that’s when insecurities start to form. I’ve studied that when once upon a time I was an Early Childhood Development major, and I see it now working with children ages 1.5 – 5 years old. I was always being told by family that I was big and “to be careful.” It all stems from a good place, but the execution was sooo lame.

At age 6-7 I was writing in my diary how I need to lose weight. It was during the summertime, so I was stuck at home and obviously feeling mad insecure. I remember writing down a list of things I was going to “STOP EATING! NO MORE!” I jotted down all the foods I was going to avoid for my “diet.” Just the thought of it stressed me out (bruh, at 7), not even a couple hours later, I opened up my diary and crossed out my whole list. It’s crazy that diet culture starts that young.

I got the nickname “Good Life” from my uncle. The joke was since I was big, I must be eating good all the time and have the “Good Life.” I turned red with embarrassment as all the family laughed at my new found nickname. “Its ok!” They all urged. They explained that my older cousin was the previous “Good Life,” she grew out of it, so years later, now I’m the new one. I remember trying to laugh about it too. “Join in the joke so they don’t know you’re actually about to cry,” I would think to myself. But everytime I would be called that, it would be like a full-body cringe, I would freeze up, and I could feel my face getting flushed with pure uncomfortableness. I remember always wanting to angry cry, but it took all of me to hold it in because I knew I’d get in trouble for taking it too seriously.

I think that’s why I became the tomboy. I wanted to be tough, act tough, and be Buttercup in every way possible. Shitty weight comments is what made me grow a thick skin. But even though I was a little tough kid and acted like those comments didn’t phase me, somewhere deep deep down on the inside I was a delicate little flower who struggled with body image issues. I checked my weight on our shitty bathroom scale often and wished I saw something lower everytime. This time frame I’m talking about Kindergarten to 4th -ish grade y’all.

And by 4th grade I had already developed and was most definitely bigger than 96% of the boys in my grade! So at this point, I have family in my ear talking about how big I am, but I also had classmates tell me I’m fat, I could break a chair, and overall just feeling shitty about myself. All of a sudden I had boobs, and I was bigger than everyone else, it was just an awkward time.

Hearing shitty comments that young made me decide early on how I’m not going to talk to my child, or any child for that matter. I’m a ruthless individual if I’m feeling catty. I can destroy someone’s selfworth with just a single sentence. It’s truly a blessing and a curse all at once. I’ve been bullied and I’ve been the bully. It’s all a cycle. Hurtful things have been said to me about my outward appearance, and at times I was the one saying hurtful things. We learn and pick up actions and mannerisms from the environment we grow up in. So since I know first hand what it’s like to be 5 to 10 years old, and being teased about my weight, I know now that I will never be that adult in some kid’s life.

Fast forward to middle school, I’m talking 6th-8th grade. That age group alone is a difficult time in your life already – trying to fit in, find your crew, and maneuver through the childish drama and teenage beef. On top of that you think you’re grown and you’re trying to get noticed by your crush and get chose. I’ve always been stuck in the frendzone hahah. I look back now and it’s funny and cringy as fuck, but back then that shit was tragic. I really felt like I was the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of my friend group. They were all having their first puppy love romances, and I was always just the bro. It made me think there was something weird about me, that nobody saw me past being a bro. Again, this shit is so cringe and minuscle to me now, but back then I was like damn, what the hell am I gross or something? Little did I know that those feelings in early teenage years are completely normal.

Puberty and all that shit really gets to you. Your hormones are all out of whack, popularity and fitting in seems to be the most important thing in your world, and you’re stuck comparing yourself to others. This is around the same time where Myspace was all that and a bag of chips, and Facebook was right around the corner. Peers were starting to get into makeup and beauty products – on the weekends only – since I attended a Catholic school that prohibited makeup, nailpolish, even ankle socks. HAHAHA.

But the benefit of being in a private school was the fact that I didn’t have to wake up everyday and stress over what to wear. Of course, I didn’t see it as a benefit then, but when I think about it now, it took a lot of pressure off of looking a certain way every day. There was a set uniform. Yeah, they weren’t fashionable or cute, but it didn’t matter what my appearance looked like because everyone had to wear the same thing. There were rare days out of the year where we had “Free Dress” days, meaning we could go to school in our regular clothes. These days were a big deal and an opportunity to show your style. I remember being on Aim (damn, I feel old) chatting with my friends the night before free dress days.

“What are you gonna wear tomorrow?”

“With what shoes?”

“Want to try to match?”

“Well do you have a shirt this color too?”

“Bring your camera so we can take pictures!”

I would also keep a mental note of my scars on my left arm. I almost never wore just a short sleeve shirt because I wanted to cover them. The stares, the questions, the disgusted faces people would make when they ask if they could touch it. I would rarely take off my school sweater, and would only take it off if I was legit sweating so much that it was unbearable. And even then I’d use my sweater to cover up my stomach. All these little steps I would take in the name of insecurities was ridiculous.

But the insecurities only amplified as I got to high school. Freshman year I kind of started thinning out because I had P.E. everyday, something I was not used to at all. Previously in my private school we had P.E. classes once a week, so you can only imagine how shook I was that I had to do this shit Monday to Friday. And when the teacher had to weigh us and shouted our weight out loud so the person writing it down could hear… bruh. As you can guess, I absolutely dreaded swimiming class. Changing infront of my peers? THINK AGAIN, I HUSTLED MY ASS OUT OF THE POOL EVERY DAY TO BE THE FIRST ONE OUT TO SHOWER FIRST AND RESERVE A PRIVATE STALL TO CHANGE IN. YOU THOUGHHHHT 💅🏽

But listen, this is where I wanted to start my story, but I felt like I had to give a little backstory of how this instance amplified what I already was struggling with all my life.

My junior year in high school, the guy I was in a relationship with for about a year moved away permanently. We decided to do long distance. Doing long distance at 17 and having it be in another whole ass country – let me tell you, 10/10 would not recommend.

It was such a toxic relationship. We both feared that the other would cheat, so I coped with it by stalking the shit out of Facebook to get my answers when I felt like I was being lied to. He coped with it by verbally abusing me and making my self-esteem so low that I wouldn’t even have the confidence to find someone else. This is part of the reason why I took so long to share this story. I didn’t want to write this in a way that focused on my ex being the bad guy. But more so, how this experience just stacked on top of all the past insecurities I had since a child. This is just 1 layer of the onion.

Anyways, we were “together” for 3-ish years on and off. 2 of those years were long distance without seeing each other physically in person. And in those 2 years of long distance, I truly experienced my lowest moments. It really felt like a test of my sanity sometimes. I was insecure as it is, and on top of that I had a “boyfriend” in another whole ass country that sometimes went M.I.A. for days. My gut feeling was telling me I was getting cheated on. So I would take to social media to try to find evidence. It was exhausting. Knowing you know the truth but can’t find the evidence to back it up. We fought almost everyday, I went to sleep crying daily, and we would break up to make up constantly.

I was stalking all these new found Facebook friends of his, and why it seemed like all of them were hot as hell with perfect bodies. If those were the kind of girls he was around daily, why would he need me? Now I see why he spoke bad about my appearance all the time, look what I’m up against…

“You should be happy a guy like me even gave you a chance.”

“Fat bitch.”

“Who would even want to fuck you?”

“Look at me, now look at you. I could get someone so much hotter.”

“You can’t get someone better than me.”

“Even my aunt said you’re fat.”

“If I was there I’d beat the shit out of you.”

“Some girls in my class saw on FB that we’re in a relationship and they were like, ‘that’s your girlfriend?!’ ”

All the while trying to flip the script and say that I must be cheating and xyz. I never cheated. Stayed faithful the whole way even though I knew it was a toxic, tumultuous, mind fucking mess. He later admitted that he did cheat on me after we broke up, which made me hate myself for not listening to my gut feeling. THAT SHIT BE THE TRUTH, PEOPLE! THAT’S YOUR BODY’S WAY OF SAYIN, YO, SOMETHING REALLY AIN’T RIGHT.

My senior prom was coming up and he had planned to attend. At this point we were almost a year and a half into long distance. I haven’t seen him in so long. I wanted to prove a point that I wasn’t the same fat bitch he had last seen in person 1.5 years prior. Prom was in April, so in January 2013 I started to diet. Also known as: starve myself.

I would eat just a handful of cheerios in milk for breakfast, I’d take a heatable “green giant” frozen pack for lunch. This said “lunch” was 30 or 50 calories (I forget) of frozen broccoli in “cheese.” That shit tasted like water. And for dinner I’d eat at home, but not as much as I would usually eat. And you know what? It started working. I started to slim down – and fast. But pretty often I’d feel depressed and binge out on a big hot cheeto bag. However, my binging didn’t out weigh the times I was hungry.

I boasted about how I’m trying to look good for prom. I took pride in the fact that I was starving myself but seeing results. People told me I looked good, they congratulated me on my weight loss. My confidence went up, even though I knew it was such an unhealthy way of living. But I didn’t care.

For once in my life I wasn’t the fat bitch. For once I could back up my comebacks that “no, you should feel lucky that I’m with you.” I valued what I saw in the mirror. The size on the back of my tags justified my worth. And for once it was “where I wanted to be.” For the first time in my life, I had confidence in myself. And if you would’ve told me what I was doing was unhealthy and wrong, I probably would’ve justified my actions.

And if you were to tell me that I picked up an eating disorder over a guy that was totally undoubtedly cheating on me, I probably would deny it. But that’s what it was. An eating disorder. And my peers and people around me had the same mindset as me- that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I planned to stop once prom was over, but I was getting used to it. Maybe I could continue after as well? Just until I get to “where I want to be.”

And what’s crazy is even at my skinniest, I still nitpicked at different parts of my body. Yes, I was getting smaller, but I wasn’t perfect. To me, there was always something else that could look better. It took my body dysmorphia to a whole new level. The sad reality was that I could lose as much weight as I wanted, but the self-hate I had towards myself would always tell me that I should lose more.

I did this process of starving and barely eating for about 3-ish months. Until I got the news that my ex wouldn’t be coming to my prom. I was so depressed that I started eating everything and anything. “What’s the point of this anymore,” I thought to myself. I was doing this to prove something to a particular person, and since he wasn’t coming anymore, why bother?

Around the same time is when I had to walk the runway for my sister’s first fashion show. It was a week or 2 after prom, so in my head, the weight loss wasn’t completely for nothing. Like I said in my previous post, I was so insecure during the first show because all the other “models” were actually models. They were all thin, fair skin, tall, and nothing like me. Even with my weight loss, I was still probably the biggest “model” there.

After some time, I gained back the weight I had originally lost. I was now in my first semester of community college. Some of my friends were juicing for weeks on end, and losing a lot of weight doing it. I somehow got convinced to try it. I told my ex I was going to try juicing for a week, low key hoping for a, “you’re beautiful the way you are,” type of comment. Bruh, he got so excited and happy and encouraged me to do it.

I lasted what, 2 or 3 days with juicing? Im not gonna lie I really felt like I was dying 💀. I felt so weak and hungry. I lost a couple pounds but that shit came right back once I started eating real food. Let’s just say I was a lost soul. Stuck in a shitty toxic relationship thinking my appearance would somehow ease my pain.

Finally, during my 2nd semester of community college, I finally ended things with my ex. It was such a breath of fresh air. I really felt like I could do anything and everything in life. I found my motivation to do better, by dropping the dead weight that was holding me back. It was 3 years too long. Nobody should have to go through abuse like that. Physical or not, verbal abuse is real and really fucks with your head.

At the time I was pursuing Early Childhood Education, so I got a child care job at a gym. I was so embarrassed when I first started working there because it was the most ironic thing for me to be working at a gym. Of all places. Hahahah. I took advantage of my free membership and would workout a couple times a week. I felt like I low key had to put in an effort since I was so out of place. I wasn’t a trainer, a body builder, shit I wasn’t even a member.

But it was kind’ve a lot of pressure to work at a gym, especially hearing what Male coworkers would say about people walking by the front desk. Honestly disgusting. I thought, shit, if you’re talking all that smack about someone you don’t know, I can only imagine what you say about me when I’m not around. Because I clearly wasn’t a fitness freak, and a lot of my coworkers were. I would get workout sessions from Jazzie for free since she was a trainer. It was off the clock for her, and I bitched every step of the way.

I really feel like I got this ironic job just so my path would cross Christian’s. He was my coworker that turned into my man real quick. It was so different being with a nice guy. It was actually weird to me. I didn’t know how to act. Even though I was single for a year, I felt like I had PTSD from my last relationship. I didn’t feel like I had to hide how I really am with Christian. For instance, I ate around him. This is something that I couldn’t do before. I would act like I was full because I didn’t want my ex to think I was a fatass. With Christian from the get, I’ll eat all mine and pick at his while I’m at it. The real me, cuz ya girl can eat.

As our relationship progressed, I added that happy weight, and birth control pills didn’t help this area either 🤦🏻‍♀️. But I have a guy that loves me regardless how big or small I get. But I still struggled. I struggled a lot. I hated the person I was. I hated how insecure I was. I hated that I was getting fatter and loved to eat. I hated that I was probably 35 lbs heavier since high school. I hated the way I looked, the body I’m in, the way I strived for the perfect hour glass figure. I hated that I was getting stretch marks. I hated that it was so obvious that I gained weight. But most importantly I hated that I hated myself.

At the end of my first semester at SF State I had a low key mental breakdown that lead to my rebirth. Transfering to SF State was lit. I spent 3 years in community college and finally felt like I was making progress with my life transfering to a 4 year university. SF State has a Quickly’s, a Phó, an Indian spot, pizza, ramen, Ike’s, Mexican food…. you get the point – I never went hungry. My first semester I had a weird schedule. Some early morning classes here and there, afternoon classes, even a night class that got out at 10 pm. I had to eat at school because I was basically there all day.

I remember this day vividly. I was waiting for my 7 pm class and had a gap. I got some Phó from campus and a boba drink, I ate in the cafeteria. It wasn’t too crowded. It was about 6:35 pm, and I finished my Phó, it was dark outside already. I was full as fuck. I sat there looking at my empty bowl of soup and my boba drink that was halfway done. I fucking hated myself. Fuckin’ pig. I felt disgustingly full. I felt so shitty about myself that I wanted to cry. To anyone passing by, I was just sitting, staring blankly at my food. On the inside I was breaking down, on the verge of tears. This wasn’t the first time I felt like this. In fact, I felt this way everytime I ate, especially when it was something I bought.

And while I’m on the verge of completely losing it, I look at the time a realize I got to get to class. I walk out into the darkness, not even caring about my surroundings. I’m passing by people but it’s all a blur. It doesn’t feel like real life, I’m too trapped in my head. I get to class and I’m still bothered. I hate myself. I feel disgusting. I’m so fat. You’ll never be happy with yourself.

Then it hit me. If I were to die at that exact moment, what would I have to show for it? I spent 22 years of my life hating the body I lived in. If I were to die right then and there, could I say I honestly lived? Or was the highlight of my life being forever insecure and unhappy with myself? “No more.” I thought to myself. This will be the body I die in. This will be the body and mind I have to live with everyday. Why waste my time hating it? Right then and there I refused to waste anymore time hating my body. It’s like a switch went off in my brain.

I went on Instagram and unfollowed every Kardashian, every account that would make me feel less than, every account that I compared myself to. I deleted a lot of famous people that edit their photos. “No more,” with every unfollow. It was empowering. I then started looking up body positive accounts.

*follow*

*follow*

*follow*

*follow*

All the while my professor is talking about diversity in journalism.

There was no stopping me. At the end of it all I felt my whole body was tingling. The best high – the road to self-love.

I started educating myself with the body positive community. I realized that I resonated with a lot of them. Their struggles were like mine. I felt likeI found my community.

Of course I didn’t accept and love my body that easily. It literally took so long to unlearn every negative thing that I have ever told myself. I found solace in the body positive community and feminism. When you realize that beauty industries profit off your insecurities, you really start to look at things differently.

Not too long ago I craved to be beautiful. Nowadays I crave to inspire, to be authentic, to be knowlegeable and smart. I crave to fight for body representation, and representation of people of color with different body types in the fashion industry. I declared Women Gender Studies my minor, and I truly feel like it opened up my mind.

I studied up on feminism and different ways that women are oppressed. It was like a revelation. I was intaking life differently. My existence in itself is a rebellious act. I’m a woman. A woman of color. A plus-sized woman. I felt empowered fighting for women’s rights, it’s like I had a new found passion. I was insecure my whole life because there was never anyone that looked like me on TV, in magazines, in Hollywood.

Today I am probably 50-60 lbs heavier than I was in high school. But I can honestly say that I am overall happy with myself. Of course I have those days where I feel big and gross, but I got to remind myself who I am. I am so much more than my weight. I am so much more than my outward appearance.

All that’s ever geared towards women are beauty products, dietary supplements, clothes, and all these things that focus on the outside. Growing up I thought this shit was normal. But what does that tell women? That they’re only good for their appearance, that it’s all they should care about. And I refuse to feed into toxic beauty standards and ideals.

To most, gaining weight is the worse thing that could happen to a women’s appearance. A couple years back I would agree. But now, I eat what I want, I wear what I want, I do what I want unapologetically. I strive to be healthier by working out, but if I don’t go for a straight month or 2, I’m not beating myself up about it.

Not giving a shit about beauty standards and societal norms has truly brought me peace of mind. I’ve grown so much – literally, spiritually, and mentally. This is my weight gain journey – it brought me to the path of self-love and self-acceptance.

For those of you who remember me 60 lbs lighter and have thought “yo, wtf happened to her?!” The answer is, she grew up, she found herself, she doesn’t give a fuck 🥰😘

In the Eyes of the Beholder

I’ve always stressed the importance of being media and social media fluent. If you keep up with my writing, you will notice that the topics I cover somehow come back to social media and comparisons, and how we intake and perceive media.

With me, social media is either a good thing or a bad thing, no inbetween. It’s either I’m inspired and motivated, drawing information and shared beliefs from pages I follow and educating myself, or down the rabbit hole I go. Everyone knows exactly what I mean. The rabbit hole of comparisons and insecurities. All of a sudden you’re questioning your successes in life because you came across a certain page on your explore, and then you read through the comments, and stalked her life, her friend’s life, shit you even found her mama’s page through the tags. And then you realize, wow, I don’t even know these people. And they literally don’t even know who I am 🤣 But everytime I go down that route, I have to remind myself that this is social media. It’s so fucking curated and sometimes – let’s all admit it – fake as fuck. Said this before and I’ll say it again – people only post what they want you to see.

Before I started posting on my blog consistently, I considered myself a pretty low-key person. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been on social media. But I think compared to the average user, I was more private with my life. Yeah, I’d post here and there, once or twice a month, if not more, but I really feel like what I posted was nowhere close to disclosing parts of my real life to everyone. Even with stories on Instagram, I was never one to post about my daily life. I’m more of a “I’ll give you lil snippets here and there,” type of person. Of course, I’m not knocking the people that DO post all about their lives. I honestly can care less how you choose to use your social media platforms. It is truly none of my business. But I choose to keep my personal life under wraps. And it’s not until now that I’m posting my personal struggles on my blog that people see through the window of what I’m really like. And even then you still 100 ft. from said window, just sayin’.

I’m very choosy with what I choose to share and open up about, especially since this is with the public. It’s so weird that I want to live a low-key life, but at the same time I want to share everything to break societal norms. I hit a point in my life where I’m like… dude, fuck all this fake curated bullshit, show me something real, talk about some real deep shit, open up about those emo ass struggles we all face as humans. I was tired of seeing airbrushed, fake it till you make it, artificial ‘I’m livin’ my best life,’ type of content. So I started speaking my truth through my writing and journalistic work.

And at this point, I think we all know I’m not gonna front like I got my whole life made. Clearly, I’m so confused about my life and career decisions that I made how many blog posts about it just to vent. And to be honest, I’m probably not done writing about my anxieties yet.

Before I started posting consistently every week, I would occasionally post on my Instagram a blog post or article I wrote for SFSU’s Xpress Magazine. And that would seriously be like once every 2 months or something. Especially if it wasn’t for Xpress Magazine, and it was just me writing a personal blog post that was totally not school related, that shit would be like 1 post every 3+ months, if not longer.

I made this blog for school in 2016. At the beginning of 2019 I think I had like…. 33 or 34 posts. Maybe even less. More than half of those posts were blog posts I HAD to write for class / assignments / articles I wrote throughout my Journalism degree and thought, if I wrote it, might as well share it! Maybe less than 10 of those 33 ish posts were written ONLY for my blog and because I wanted to and felt like it.

So just picture how shocked and confused I was when this happened…

About 2-ish months after I officially graduated in December, I made plans to hangout with an old friend I’ve known since I was about 9 or 10 years old. Michael and I haven’t seen each other since our 8th grade graduation back in 2009, and briefly talked during our school reunion a year later when we were all freshmen in high school in 2010. So it was literally 10 years since the last time we saw each other and really caught up.

I didn’t know what to expect. Of course I was excited to hangout with him since we were super tight during our cringy years, but so much time had passed I didn’t know how it would be. But when I saw him, he started telling me about how he’s a crazy party animal, stories of how his life has been since being openly gay, and all the crazy shit he gets himself into! I was truly entertained with everything he was telling me. But rewind, before he disclosed all this information to me, we had to break the ice.

“Dude, so how are you! What’ve you been up to?” I asked.

Michael looked down in a shy manner, leaning on his hand, his elbow on the table.

“I don’t even want to say,” he said. “Nothing compared to what you’re doing. You’re so successful.”

My eyebrow rose in confusion. In my head I was like…. bruh…. I ain’t doin shit what’re you even talking about? 😩

I asked him to elaborate. He told me that he sees me doing “big things” with my blog, I just graduated college, and it seemed like I was very successful.

I almost choked on my Wingstop. I told him how insecure I was about my writing and making things public, how my life is in shambles after graduation because I don’t know what route to take with my life, and how overall confused I was.It really shocked me that he said that. Because he totally saw me in a different light than how I saw myself.

I visited my old journalism professor, Nancy, a few months after and told her about this incident. She pointed out that isn’t it crazy that I could be idolizing someone and comparing my life, but not even knowing that someone could be looking at me in the same light, even though I don’t feel that way about myself. Nancy explained to me that there will always be someone “ahead”of you and there will always be someone “behind” you, we’re all basically trying to make it at different paces. But that doesn’t mean that we are failures if someone is more ahead of us, and that also doesn’t make us more successful if we are the ones more ahead.

It made me realize that the people we think have it all together, probably don’t. In the example of me and Michael, he seriously thought I was so successful and secure in myself, when it was legit the opposite. Yes, I’ve made accomplishments in my life like graduating, and pursuing my writing career, but in my eyes, I’m far from where I want to be. But in the eyes of an outsider, without much context, it seems like I got my life figured out.

I think that’s why I respect Lizzo so much. She’s so successful, her career is flourishing, but she still remains transparent. She posts videos of when she’s depressed, and I think that’s very important to share your successes, but also your struggles. Especially being a famous person who people look up to, she promotes being real. She shows her human side, regardless of how much fame she receives.

A few days before the SFSU graduation ceremony, I met up with my friend, Ivan, to give him my extra Oracle Park graduation ticket. I originally was trying to sell the 2 extra tickets I had, but ended up giving both of them for free. “Fuckit, good karma coming my way,” I thought. In exchange for the graduation ticket, Ivan dropped me off to the crafting store, Michael’s, so I could get some last minute things for my graduation cap. And honestly, good karma did come my way because that drive with Ivan was exactly what my heart needed!

I’ve known Ivan since Skyline College. We are the definition of “started from the bottom now we hereee.” He’s like that gay best friend that always tries to hype you and remind you that you’re that bitch! And that’s exactly what he did during our drive to the craft store.

He could tell by the way I was venting that I was stressed. To the point where he was like “girl, we need to hangout, I could tell you’re really stressed out about this and need to talk!” Of course it was about the future and career choices.

Ivan reminded me who the fuck I was and what the fuck I stand for. It warmed my heart that he told me after all these years he still kept up with my writing. To the point where he described a specific story I did. A true king. I told him how scared I was about not making it in the industry, and how it’s hard to be a successful writer.

“Boo, you got this though,” he said. “You know what, I know you’ll make it. You’ve always been motivated. I have no doubt in my mind you’ll make it! You got the passion! I know you!”

I told him I do have the passion, and I do want to make a difference in this world with my writing. But I voiced my concerns about hoping that my passions can pay future bills. I told him I want to find a way or a middle ground where my passions and career collide and I can make decent money to live comfortably.

“Omg, yeah. That’s what sucks about being a humanitarian. You got passion and you want to make a difference, but you don’t get paid for shit.” And if that ain’t the fuckin truth 🤣🤣🤣.

But both of these conversations made me realize that we all come down on ourselves pretty hard. We’re always worried about the next job, next opportunity, next move, that we don’t celebrate the little victories. Also, you could be that someone that somebody else is stalking thinking, “damn, I wish I dressed / look like/ was as successful/ as confident/ as open/ as cool as them,” all the while you’re thinking you’re a failure and you ain’t shit. And social media plays a big role in that. Like I said a billion times before, people post their successes, but nobody really talks about the waves of emotion that comes with success. The person you are looking up to is probably going through it too. Whether they are famous or not.

We are all at different stages in our lives. What may be a major success to someone is something minor to the next. If you find yourself falling down that toxic rabbit hole and you’re comparing yourself and feeling mad insecure, just know that everyone is struggling in one way or another. Nobody truly has their life together. You’ll also never really know everything about someone just through their social media platforms. We’re all human. We all go through it. In reality, we all want to be perceived as successful and that we have our lives together. But it’s okay if you don’t. Success is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

The Runaway

*This story was originally written and submitted for my Reporting class. I thought to share this story on my blog because Lynn was the first person to freely open up to me about all aspects of her life. As a journalism student, I appreciate people who go out of their way to help someone out, in this case, me. There are people out there that will share their story with you, just keep interviewing :)*

Lynn Chayatanan takes her break at Stonestown Mall to visit old co-workers, and gets ready to drive to her next client’s house, where she will set goals with a child with Autism.

Lynn Chayatanan, 27, works for Class ABA, a company that provides behavioral therapy for children with Autism. She is a behavioral therapist and spends at least two hours each visit with the child, where she tries to get them to complete a goal, such as making eye contact without prompting with a toy or food. Chayatanan believes this is not a job for everyone because of how stressful it can be, but loves how rewarding the job is when she gets a child to say their name for the first time.

“You have these little victories that create a whole human being,” Chayatanan said proudly.

Chayatanan was born and raised in Pleasanton where her parents opened a restaurant, “Lux Thai Cuisine,” six months after she was born. By the age of seven, she worked side by side her parents and older brother at the restaurant. Despite looking like the picture perfect family that works together, there were problems at home, she always seemed to butt heads with her mother, her father was an alcoholic, and she said she also experienced physical abuse.

 

Chayatanan was always into fashion and cosplay, so she would make her own costumes and clothing, she really thought that was going to be what she went to college for. Her parents were always on her case about school because her brother was such a great student. She didn’t take school seriously, her parents feared she wouldn’t succeed.

In high school, Chayatanan’s mother encouraged her to take an AP course. Chayatanan took AP psychology because she thought it would be easy, but in the end fell in love with the subject. It was then she realized that she wanted to go to school for psychology.

In the summer of 2007, Chayatanan ran away from home with just $600 in her bank account. She had enough of the physical abuse that was going on at home, and was fed up with living there. She informed her family that she ran away by calling them on a “pay as you go” phone, and moved in with her boyfriend.

“This may sound cruel, but I had no fear of her not making it,” said her brother, Charlee Chayatanan. “There weren’t any doubts that she could make it.”

She decided to continue her education at Las Positas Community College in Livermore. Chayatanan couch surfed at different friends’ houses because the people she would live with couldn’t “grow up.” She said that they were stuck in the cosplay life and couldn’t take on responsibilities, and this caused her to lose interest in the cosplay scene.

Once Chayatanan was done with community college, she decided to commute to San Francisco State University and moved back in with her mother in Pleasanton. Chayatanan also picked up a barista job at Nordstrom in Stonestown Mall. By this time, her mother kicked her father out of the house, and not long after that, her father died in Thailand, and the family restaurant of 23 years closed down. All these factors made the already rocky relationship between mother and daughter a little harder.

“It was like walking on glass, not even eggshells,” Chayatanan said about moving back in with her mother.

After she graduated from San Francisco State in 2014, Chayatanan continued to work at Nordstrom where she was promised that if she stayed, she would be promoted to manager. She worked harder to get the manager position to the point where she felt overqualified, but it always seemed like she would get passed up for someone else. She thought she hit a dead end until her boss’s girlfriend asked her if she wanted to join the Class ABA Company, since she knew Chayatanan had a degree in psychology.

Now Chayatanan works as a behavioral therapist and has three Autistic children that she meets with every week. She sets up goals at each visit, and feels really accomplished when a child meets those goals.

One of Chayatanan’s greatest accomplishments was when she was at the mall waiting in line for the public restroom with a child she works with. The child looked Chayatanan in the eye and voiced that they had to use the bathroom, and even though they ended up having an accident, Chayatanan was proud that the child verbally communicated, step by step, what was going on.

Even though Chayatanan never expected to go to school for psychology, people that know her aren’t surprised.

“She’s extremely patient and expects a lot from people,” former coworker, Marie Obuhoff said. “She’s able to keep a cool head under pressure.”

It was Chayatanan’s journey that helped her realize what she wanted to do in her life. She remembers the days when she was a runaway and really needed help, and she’s happy that she can extended her help and services to children with Autism. It is bittersweet because she knows that the goal is for her not to be needed anymore once the child fulfills all the requirements.

“I’m basically a tool,” Chayatanan said. “I’ll help anyone who needs my help.”

Back To School- At My Own Pace

It’s getting so close to the first day of school for me at San Francisco State, so I’m starting to overthink everything from the past, the present, and what I want in the future.

If you would’ve told me 3 years ago when it was my first semester at Skyline College, fresh out of high school, that I would be transferring to SF State for Journalism 3 years later, I probably wouldn’t believe you. Back then my goal was to get out of community college in 2 years, and anything beyond 2 years would be embarrassing. Of course it didn’t happen that way. I went to Skyline College with literally no idea of what I wanted to major in. I went in  clueless on what I wanted to do with my life. I realized that I really enjoy being around little babies, so I started taking Early Childhood Education (ECE) classes. The classes were so interesting to me and it was a pleasure being in them. Learning about how children’s minds develop overtime and how different stages in their life and what happens then could impact them drastically was totally up my alley, I loved learning about children. So I got my first job as a baby sitter at a gym….. that’s open to all ages……. from 6 months to 11 years old…… AAAANNNNNNDDDD long story short, Early Childhood Education is no longer my major. Haha, I’m actually really happy that I realized earlier than later. I love my job but it made me realize that I CAN’T do this for a career because it takes a lot of patience, a characteristic I lack. I would hate to have graduated with a degree I loved, then go out and get a job and  realize “this is not for me…”

So I was grateful. I only spent my first year at community college studying child development, so I still had some time to get it together. But I also remember panicking.

“Half of my goal time is over,” I thought to myself, “I have 1 more year to get it together.”

I was back to square one and as clueless as ever. I thought I had it all planned out, and then I was lost again. I watch a lot of TV, and shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) and Forensic Files had me stuck on the idea of being a detective in solving murders or other crimes. After all, I’m basically the Queen at finding information (stalking people on social media). So the start of my second year I took the intro class to Criminal Justice. The class really opened my eyes. The teacher was a retired police officer for the district my high school was in. He was a great teacher and explained concepts really well. I learned so much about the system and our rights. He also made me realize that the system is very black or white. There is no gray area in the criminal justice system, it’s either one way or the other. And that means sometimes justice is not served under certain circumstances under the law. The teacher would give different scenarios on how the law can be flawed, and then again I came to the conclusion, “this is not for me…” I have too much heart and sympathize with people too much, not to mention a weak stomach, this was definitely not the field for me.

Here I was again… UNDECIDED. How can I transfer if it’s necessary to declare a major? I thought back to when I was a kid. Usually people say make a career out of what you loved to do when you were younger. Ever since I was about 5 years old my dream was to fall in love, get married, and have babies. Yeah, no. Love ain’t gon’ pay the bills, and a baby at this age would do the exact opposite to my wallet. I thought harder. My sisters and I were always those kids during summer break to be cooped up in the house on weekdays because both my parents had work. So I would write my own books. Each summer I would start writing different books, but never seemed to finish them. I would think of different story plots and kind of just write until the story didn’t even make sense anymore. But that was me. That’s what I enjoyed to do. Writing stories.

I met up with a counselor and changed my major for the 3rd time to Cinema. After some great thought I decided to switch to Journalism just because I feel like it will give me more opportunities. So finally after 3 years and many major changes later, I’ve finally transferred to San Francisco State University. It took me a while, and I honestly felt stuck for a long time, like the wheels were never gonna start turning for me. But I’m happy I finally got to this point.

My last semester at Skyline I kept saying that I was “so done,” that I’ve lost all motivation to go to school. Not that I was actually going to drop out or anything, but I was so drained and just wanted the semester to be over. But now that summer is almost to an end, I’ve tried to gain my motivation back. And it’s not easy. I’m not gonna sit here and act like I’m so determined and motivated for this fall semester. I’m stressed, scared, and I already know these next 2-3 years are going to be challenging. Yes, 2-3 years, I honestly doubt I’m going to graduate in 2 years because then I would have to take 15 units each semester, and I don’t want to completely drain myself. I’m a firm believer of “treat yo self,” and I need a social life, a job so I can actually have money to do stuff, and I need to trust myself when I know what I can handle and know what is too much.

My older sister is smart without even trying, always basically got straight A’s in everything, my little sister is smart and works for it, and then there’s me. Don’t get me wrong, I transferred from Skyline to SF State with a 3.15 GPA, but that was by me not reading any of the books and “YOLO-ing” almost every final and test. So I barely tried and got A’s and B’s with the occasional C. My point is not to sound cocky, but that I can only imagine how my grades would be if I actually did try, if I put effort in reading the material, and not waiting until 3 am to write my papers. It’s ironic, I’m always on the Dean’s List, but I’m probably the laziest student you will ever meet. I will do all the assignments, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll wait until it’s 1-3 am to write papers that are worth so much of my grade, to the point where I’m basically begging myself for sleep. It’s a habit I’m going to try to stop starting this fall at SFSU. This is my last push, and I wanna go out with a bang.

My little sister is 2 years younger than me, and it seems she already has her school goals on track. She knows what she wants to do and she’s on top of her classes. It made me really bitter to realize that there is a pretty big chance we will graduate the same year. “How embarrassing,” I would think to myself, “I’m 2 years older and I don’t have it together.”

But I realized that I shouldn’t be bitter or low key jealous that she is on track. I’m actually proud that she is, because I was all over the place at her age with school. All that matters to me now is that I get a degree. Time doesn’t really phase me anymore. I was embarrassed that I took 3 years at community college, and was starting to feel down when I realistically realized that 2 years at SFSU would wreck me, but I’m so focused on finishing that I don’t realize how far I’ve come. At the end of it all, as long as I graduate, I’m happy.  I’m going at my own pace and should be proud of the accomplishments that I’ve already made. I don’t care how long it’ll take me, it’ll just make graduation day so much more sweeter.

With that being said, I’m low key ready for the many meltdowns that will be coming my way.

 

“I guess I met you for a reason, only time can tell…” -J.Cole

I was always the type of person to believe that “everything happens for a reason.” What’s meant to be mine will always find its way to me, what was never meant for me would eventually find the next exit out of my life. I guess you can say I believe in fate.

You know those kind of stories girls tell of how they first met their partner? And it always seems like fate or that it was too good to be true? Chances are they’re adding a little spice to get you to envy their love story, or for all I know it could be 100% true… what I do know for sure is that my “how we met” story made me believe in fate a little more.

It was my 2nd semester at Skyline College. I found myself broke and bored. It was time to find a job. At the time, my major was Child Development. I have always been good with kids, you could call me the baby whisperer. I felt like all the jobs that were for child development needed prior experience or a least 12 units of ECE (Early Childhood Education) classes.

So then I started my search for work. I applied to maybe all the retail places at Serremonte Mall and Westlake Shopping Center. I got called in for interviews but never seemed to get the job. I would pass the first interview and was told that I would be meeting with someone higher up at a different set date. But I could never just get the job at the end of it all.

I was starting to feel really down in the dumps. What was wrong with me? People get first jobs all the time, why can’t I?! How can I have “experience” if you won’t hire me?!?! Frustrated is an understatement of how I felt. At that point I had gone through maybe 5 interviews. I thought finding a job would be easy… I started to give up.

I was maybe 2+ months deep in trying (not successfully) to find a job. I was sitting on the couch one school night when my friend, Cambria Cardona, called me. She said the gym was hiring for a daycare position and knew I was interested in a job working with kids.

I remember getting off the phone with her and thinking “It’s 7:30 pm… it’s dark, I’m tired, and me out of all people working at a gym? Yeah right!!!” Just the thought of me working at a gym made me want to laugh out loud. If retail places didn’t want to hire me, what more a gym where they’ll probably be looking for the most fit employees?

I was just about to act like Cam never called and continue to sit on the couch watching TV. But something in my head made me get up. I didn’t think I was going to get the job at all, but I went straight to the computer, printed out my resume, left in the same casual outfit I had went to school in, and found myself walking in the dark to go to the Daly City Bart station. “I’m not gonna get it, but I might as well try and say I didn’t get it,” was my train of thought.

I arrived at the gym. At the front desk a young man greeted me and took my resume. He made me fill out an application. I remembered that that afternoon in my ECE class I earned a certificate for knowing when to report child abuse because a guest speaker had spoken to my class. At the end of the class we had all received a certificate of completion. I took it out of my bag and said, “I don’t know if this will help…” He seemed to be impressed. He photocopied it, and I was on my way back home.

I didn’t expect to hear from them at all. Until a few days later on my way to school I had a missed call. When I called back, it was a personal trainer from the gym telling me that I got the job. “If you want it, it’s yours,” was her exact words to me. I was so surprised and excited, I got a job with no interview needed.

Fitting in at work wasn’t that hard. My co workers were as weird as me, and I couldn’t have asked for a chiller job. I took care of the kids while their parents worked out. It was a job I felt was fitting for me. I couldn’t picture myself in retail, or all the other jobs I was sad about not getting. This job was for me.

For a few months I would make small talk with this little girl’s mother, Jazzie Dela Cruz. Little by little we got closer and she asked if I could ask my manager if he needed another Kids Club employee. Long story short, I got her the job and she became my co worker. I thought nothing of it. Until everything else started to unfold.

When work was slow, me and my former co worker and good friend, Ulysses Pineda, would hang in the back office. It was one of those 2 sided mirrors, where we can see them but they can’t really see us. This guy and his friend walk up to the front desk and scanned themselves in, “that guy is cute in a weird way, that’s my MCM,” I told Ulysses. He made a witty joke and we continued with our conversation.

Winter Break was over. That marked almost 10 months of working at the gym. A co worker who I was very close to informed me that he was moving back to Idaho. I was so sad because we were like the night team crew. I was so salty to think of whoever was gonna replace him.

Until a few days later I walk into work and my “MCM” was wearing our gym’s uniform and filling out papers. I went to my co worker at the front desk, “Dude!!! That’s my MCM!!!!” My co worker laughed and said, “For real?! He’s gonna work here!”

Long story short, Jazzie played my fairy godmother and got me and my “MCM” together. It’s been over a year since all that has happened and I tell Christian, my MCE*, how it was fate that brought us together. He almost didn’t get the job because he was on a road trip when he was offered the job.

It’s trippy to think about. If I had gotten hired somewhere else, if Cam didn’t tell me about the job, if I didn’t make a sudden decision to turn in my resume that night, if I didn’t get hired, if I didn’t meet Jazzie, if Jazzie didn’t get hired, if Christian didn’t get hired, if one of these events were to not happen, I believe my life wouldn’t be the way it is now.

I believe that I was meant to meet Christian, and everyone I’ve met at the gym for that matter. I’m not saying that for sure 100% we’re gonna get married and ride off into the sunset on a white horse on the beach, but I really do believe we were meant to meet each other for a reason. It is up to us to find out that reason.