I’m Learning How to Love Myself ~ the light at the end of the tunnel

Long Pieces

Maybe you haven’t heard of BTS (aka Bangtan Sonyeondan, a K-pop boy group), which would be a little surprising cause like, C’mon, they’re very well known now. Anyway, I won’t hold it against you if you don’t and you don’t really need any knowledge other than what I’ve given you to read and understand this post. Truthfully, I hadn’t heard of them until around the beginning of 2017 when one of my friends got super into them. I didn’t judge her for it, but without really giving them a chance, I thought ‘k-pop = not for me’ and moved on with my life.

[Warning: long + serious post ~ 2000 words]

But, things got worse. Summer came and I began to struggle with my self-image. I would look in the mirror and I would hate the way I looked. I hated the way my thighs would touch or spread out when I sat down (which is perfectly natural, but at the time this was impossible for me to see). I’ve always been a pretty small and skinny girl and I thought that without that label, I wouldn’t be myself. Summer was hard for a lot of reasons. In some way, I was a little happy. I spent a lot of time alone and doing the things I loved. But, I wasn’t really super healthy, but it wasn’t so bad. Most of my troubles came from my family.

This will take some explanation. I have never been the favorite child. At least, not that I can remember. My older sister has always been favored over me. It’s not hard to see and it’s something I’ve grown up with. And as I’ve grown, it’s hurt me more and more. At age 8, I was convinced as I got older, I would be treated the same. But, I was wrong. If anything, it got worse. I didn’t hate my sister for it, but I did dislike her for other reasons. Now, I only dread when she comes home. I wonder if that’s okay. Can I dislike someone in my family? What forces me to love them just because we’re related? It’s so often brushed off as ‘oh that’s what sisters do’, but even if the constant tearing down and backhanded comments are “normal,” they certainly shouldn’t be.

So, mid-July was when it happened. I lay in my bed in the morning, scrolling through my youtube recommendations. And there it was: “Laugh with BTS for 30 (well 32) minutes.” And I thought, why not watch it? If I can laugh with them for 30 minutes, why shouldn’t I? And I watched that video, then “BTS being Extra AF in America.” And that’s when it started. I had heard their music before, the two friends I mentioned earlier constantly played DNA in the hallways, especially the part where Jungkook whistles in the beginning (for some reason this part specifically?).  I loved their dorky and funny personalities, they seemed caring and hard-working. They loved each other and seemed to have so much fun being themselves. I loved that, and I wanted that for myself. It gave me something to hope for. It’s funny, BTS’ message at the time was Love Yourself. And if that wasn’t the most important thing I’ve learned in the past few years, then I don’t know what is.

It was exactly what I needed to hear. I stayed up to listen to Love Yourself: Answer, the final installment in the trilogy. It was everything I needed to hear. One song, Answer: Love Myself (not the title track and very underappreciated, in my opinion), was my favorite. Now, whenever I sing the song, I sing it right back to BTS, because they showed me I did have reasons for loving myself. Here’s a little quote if you don’t want to listen to the song or read the full translation.

“Maybe there’s no answer
Maybe this isn’t the answer either
It’s just that loving myself
Doesn’t require anyone else’s permission
I’m looking for myself again
But I don’t wanna die anymore
Me, who used to be sad
Me, who used to be hurt
It’ll make me more beautiful”

(From the Genius English Translation of the song)

It’s really beautiful. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for how much they’ve changed my life and the way I view myself and the world around me and the problems I’ll encounter later on. I laughed with them, I cried with them, they changed me and they changed my life in more ways than I could possibly put into words. I learned to accept myself for who I am. I may not love myself completely yet, but I’m getting there, I’m learning, and that’s okay for now.

I first heard this song in August, after my sister had left for college. I had been waiting for that day for months. I slept alone in the room we used to share. And for the first time in my life, I was alone but I felt perfectly comfortable. There was no judgment, it was just me. I could be me. And this time, all on my own, I smiled because I really thought I was happy.

But, it’s not that easy. I’m still learning to love myself. And this fall, I was convinced I was fine. But, I wasn’t. I had changed over the summer. One friend who I got along with, who was honestly kind of a toxic person (I’ll explain this in more depth some other time, but take my word for it now), I suddenly couldn’t stand to be around. Not really so much because of her behavior, but because I hated the way I acted when I was around her. I was rude, spiteful, and mean without purpose. I didn’t want to be that way anymore. So I spent time with other people, people who made me love the way I acted when I was around them and who I loved for the way they acted around me.

I don’t hate that one friend, that would be unfair of me. I hope that she changes though. I still talk to her sometimes, but we will never be as close as we were.

I suppose that’s not as related as I wanted it to be. As winter began, my problems with my weight and body image resurfaced again. I told myself I would work out and eat less to be healthy, but that was only a cover. I really just wanted to lose weight even though I was perfectly healthy. I ignored the sources that said my ideal weight would be underweight for my height, brushing it off as these sites were simply uninformed and inaccurate. I know it was stupid. Every day I thought about what I would eat and how I would fool my parents or friends. Sometimes I wish I was a worse liar. I don’t think I had an eating disorder, but I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with food. I’m not sure when I snapped but one day I realized that what I was doing wasn’t right. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t what I wanted. I put my health first and did what made my body feel good, now what I told myself would be best for me.

During winter, I often felt numb. Like my life had no purpose and like everything eventful was passing me by and I was wasting my time. After all, 16 is basically halfway to 30. Growing old scared me. I always wanted to be able to run up the stairs, to leap, to do gymnastics, to never have to worry about work or money or death. Immature, maybe, but it’s really quite scary. (On the topic of Youth, I highly recommend the book The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde even though it makes me sad to read.)

Some days, I thought, what would happen if I just didn’t exist, or if I died. Would people really care? Would anything change? Would my parents finally care? It seems so stupid to me now, since I know that people would but I couldn’t help it. The thought scared me but it kept recurring. I felt I had no control over my life and that ending it would give me some influence over those around me. That somehow, it would prove that I mattered. But that wasn’t true. I know that now. Often when the thought came up in my head, I would use an app called Youper (used for mood tracking but so helpful when you’re sad or angry or anything. I can talk more about it another time). It would ask me to list the reasons I had for living and that was like the light at the end of the tunnel. I suddenly remembered the joys of living like the sun on your face, the warm winter breeze, laughing over a funny experience with my friends, dancing and performing, winning a gymnastics competition, my cats, the music that I love and the people I look up to, dancing in my room at night, the euphoric feeling of proving something to yourself or proving others wrong, every fic or book I’ve ever read, the conversations and people I have yet to meet, my future lovers, and the experiences I have yet to experience. The realization that there was an entire future ahead of me with so much light and promise in it. Even if I had to suffer a little now, life really could be beautiful and the future could only get better.

That’s not to say things were automatically better because that’s not the way the world works. I think I realized my importance. I’ve learned to deal with my emotions, and maybe now I’ll start sharing them with others. It’s hard to open up. The fear of judgment, or being seen differently. I understand. I’m scared too. But if you’re struggling with the same thing, I promise, we’ll get through it together. Just promise yourself this: you are enough, you are valid, you are beautiful, and you are valued. Next time you feel depressed or sad or angry, put on your favorite song, take a deep breath, write about the situation, talk to a friend, exercise, whatever.

Where there is hope, there are trials. It’s a long journey but know that happiness is always there. Cherish the moments that make you smile and don’t forget them. It may not be easy, but it’ll be worth it when you look back and see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown. I’m so proud of the me from yesterday and the day before that and for the past 16 years. I’m grateful for the me today and I can’t wait to see who the me of tomorrow will become. Never give up on yourself.

Just like the night leaves and the morning comes, as spring goes and summer comes, and as flowers fall and the summer sun rises, everything needs to go through pain, so embrace the world and take a breath.

-Ila

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It’s been a while…

Uncategorized

It’s been over a year since I last posted on this blog. If I’m honest, I forgot about it a little. And, a lot happened in that year. A lot more than I could’ve expected.

Starting this blog I was still an immature underclassman in high school. And that’s just fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. 2018 wasn’t a great year for me. There were moments that were beautiful and moments that were likely my worst in a long time.

Throughout the next month or so, I plan to update this blog with my thoughts about the past year. I struggled with self-confidence, the way I viewed my body, my mental state, my family, what it means to be a friend, and just a lot about life. I’ll share how I got through everything and how I learned to move past it and learn from my mistakes. (hint: it has a lot to do with music)

Instead of talking about school all the time on this blog, I’m going to focus more on myself. I am a closed off person. And, it’s hard for me to open up to even those I’m closest to, but there’s always a reason for these kinds of things. Maybe sometime I’ll write about it on this blog. I’m trying to be more honest with myself. I’m so quick to notice the faults in other people but never in myself. But I’m working on it, and that’s what’s important.

Another thing, my name isn’t really Veronica. That was just a pseudonym, but I’m not sure if I’ll change the blog name since it seems weird to change it after all this time. But, from now on, you can call me Ila.

“For the Views”

Long Pieces

In today’s society, doing something for views is common. Clickbait, viral videos, etc. It’s often taken too far, for example, Logan Paul’s horrible Suicide Forest video or fake headlines or titles made to ruin careers. My point is, it’s everywhere.

There’s no avoiding it. In reality, there likely is no real solution to this problem unless we suddenly obtain 1984 levels of censorship and then everything is just propaganda, we’re just going to have to live with it. We can’t change the way other people are.

But, we can make changes to our own lives. I believe that we make our own decisions- that they aren’t all predetermined. As the author of this blog, it would be easy to churn out some clickbait titles and hopefully get some views, but of course, I’m not one to do that. The point is, clickbait isn’t too fun to write.

I started this blog because I wanted a place to share my thoughts. Who cares what other people think? Disagreement is natural and it’s healthy. If we agreed with everything everyone else said then we wouldn’t even be ourselves anymore, just a mindless sheep parroting the ideas of others: we wouldn’t have any individuality at all. And often, we lose our own vision to instead tailor our work toward what other want.

We do have our own unique thoughts and we should be able to share them in a way that allows other opinions to be heard as well. However, when there are more hostile environments, it’s hard to learn about what others believe and what you believe, so it’s important to be open to hearing other perspectives. I’m guilty of this too, I’ll hear something contrary to my opinion and I’ll kind of tune it out. But, often this is caused by a lack of open-mindedness.

Now, what does that even mean?

All I’m saying is, we aren’t going to agree with everyone we meet, but we can at least try to understand their side of the story. Just as I would want someone to listen to me when voicing my opinion, I believe everyone deserves the right to be heard as long as they are willing to listen.

And, Discussions are always better than arguments:

Arguments are to decide who is right, and Discussions are to decide what is right.

So, go out, live your life, express your opinion, and remember that it’s not about who or how many people see what you create, it’s about the value you put in it and the joy that creating it gives you. Don’t change yourself because someone else says so and never let others dictate your thoughts.

Always stay true to yourself, because sometimes, that’s all you’ve got.

-V

A Year in Pixels – a Review

Fun Stuff, Short Reads

We always see that post about now, where people post about how they’re going to fill in a box with a color for every day of the year. Most people forget about it by March and then laugh when they see the post next year. Not me.

I actually completed an entire year of filling in boxes.

Crazy, I know.

I have commitment issues, it’s hard for me to stay dedicated to something throughout a long period of time. This ‘Year in Pixels’ was a challenge to me. But I did it. I filled in a box every day of the year. Even when I was on vacation, I wrote each day and color down on my phone and filled them in the night I got back.

And yes, I messed up some of the formatting, but I really enjoyed doing it. This year, I’m doing it again and fixing a lot of the things I messed up last year.

This is that it ended up looking like: IMG_1950So, I know it’s not the most beautiful thing, but in my opinion, it represents that one year isn’t just ‘bad’ or ‘good’, there are ups and downs in every year.

In addition to the usual boxes and moods, I added a section where I’d write down my best days, and the days that didn’t quite make it. I’m glad I did this, and I maybe wouldn’t have remembered all the fun times I had this year without it. I took some fun trips, had some great experiences, made a ton of new friends. 2017 wasn’t too bad of a year, as you might be able to tell with the pattern of colors.

Here’s a challenge: Find the two times when I had tech week (you’re really tired because you have to stay at school until 9 because of a show or performance) this year. One was in the Spring and one in the Fall. It’s really not that hard.

And yes, I know, I forgot to add the extra day in February.  That was one of the mistakes I made, and I decided not to fix it because I seriously didn’t realize until now.

And, this is what I’m doing this year: IMG_1962

It looks a lot better, right? I used the grid of boxes this time because the sizes got messed up on my last one. It was more work, but I hope it’ll pay off in the end. I also switched up the colors to hopefully match a little more and because I wanted a bit of a change, but I kept some of them the same.

So, yes, I’d recommend this if you want another way to remember the year. It gave me a place to write my memories and it just became a part of my night routine. I put it on the desk nearby bed and every night, I’d fill in the box with the overall mood of my day.

So grab some markers, a pen or pencil, and just try it. I promise you that you won’t regret it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here’s to 2018 being better than 2017!

-V

The Changing Tides

Short Reads

I always loved Christmas. In a way, I still do, but for all the wrong reasons. I loved how it would be a time for my family to be together. I loved seeing the lights all around my neighborhood and in my house.

I loved that it was a season to be happy. It was a season for joy.

Even as a child, it was one of my favorite parts of the year. I’m not quite sure what it was, even now, that made Christmas so special.

Maybe it was the happiness I got from giving gifts to others. Maybe it was that I loved the gifts I got.

There was just something about this season.

Something that made me so utterly and completely happy.

However, since the introduction of stress and tests from school, I feel like I’ve felt less of the joy I once got from Christmas. I thought it was a one-time thing at first; that maybe this one Christmas just wasn’t as good. But, it kept getting worse. I only felt the ‘Christmas Spirit’ after I got out of school rather than through the entire month of December.

It only got worse, from just having tests to being so stressed for finals that I couldn’t even think about Christmas except as my one break from school.

It’s sad to see how my life has been so focused around school that the only thing I look forward to is periods without it.

Now, I looked forward to Christmas season because it was my break, my escape from stress. I didn’t love it because of the joy I used to feel or because I could give to others. So much of my life has been wasted worrying about school and waiting for it to end.

It’s hard to simply go back to the way it was, especially considering the worst weeks of school come at the very end, all the way until the 17th of December.

So, maybe I’ll never find that same childlike joy in the Holiday season, but I can try not to focus so much on school and escaping stress.

Maybe, this year, Christmas doesn’t have to be the same as it always was.

The world is always changing.

We shouldn’t be afraid to change. We may lose something we loved, but maybe, we’ll gain something better.

-V

What Am I Doing? – Life Update #2

Life Updates

A. Final Activities 

Okay, these aren’t really final, but here’s basically what I’m doing this year.

Mock Trial, Fall Play, Model UN, Tutoring (I’m a tutor), Gymnastics, Gymnastics Coaching, Dance, and the Winter Play.

Trust me, I’m busy this year. But, I like it. Though, it gives me less time to watch Stranger Things 2.

B. SCHOOL and Grades 

I don’t know my quarter* grades yet, but, I know I have an A / almost -A in Chemistry, and an A in Algebra II. I’m pretty sure I have an A in History as well as English. I probably have a B+ in Spanish, I’d be lucky to have an -A. Dance is an easy A, and my elective is pass or fail. I’m passing, by the way.

Okay, so grades don’t matter that much, but I really need to do better in Spanish. I did get an A on my last presentation, so that’s good! Still, I hate the way they teach Spanish at my school, *cough* My Opinion on School’s Teaching Languages *cough*.

*Half a semester for those who don’t know, these don’t go on the official transcript, but they’re a good indication of how you’re doing.

C. Online Classes 

I’ve been pretty busy lately and I haven’t had a chance to take all (any) of the courses I wanted to take online. But, I have started to take a Mandarin Class, (I started yesterday), and I’m also going to have my friend who’s fluent in Mandarin to help me. I’m scared to learn characters. I really am.

Why?

Well, why not?

D. Movie of the Month 

Since this is basically a monthly thing, I’ll share the best movie I’ve watched in the past month. Don’t judge me, please.

Confessions (2010). Yes, it’s Japanese. I just finished watching it and it was so good. It’s kind of a psychological thriller, and there is a lot of blood in it, but no gore or anything. It was really entertaining and kept my focus the whole time.

I definitely recommend it if you don’t mind subtitles or if you understand Japanese.

E. That’s… It. 

I really don’t have much to say, I mean, I’m being a Spider-Witch thing for Halloween? I’m currently reading 1984 in my English Class and I love it. Big Brother Is Watching and my next post may be in Newspeak.

Sincerely, 

-V

The PSAT

Fun Stuff

Note: For once, the “featured image” is not my own. Credits to whoever posted it on twitter?

I am a sophomore in High school, and my school requires us to take the PSAT. If you’re not from America, you might not be familiar with this test. It’s basically the SAT but “preliminary” so College Board can suck more money out of you. Everyone takes the same test on the exact same day. The passages they use often have some funny phrases or content that really isn’t meant to be taken the way it is, but who’s here to stop me- and everyone else?

So, the best part about the PSAT is that

  1. I got a day off of classes.
  2. The memes.

If you’ve taken the PSAT, you know what these are. Again, like I said earlier, everyone gets the same test and we all read the reading/writing passages. If you haven’t taken the PSAT, the following images will likely make absolutely no sense to you.

tumblr_oxo05bBYHW1rjujxko1_500318729879DL3qa5RUIAAkEBs

So, you likely didn’t laugh nor understand those memes. Anyways, you still probably understand what the PSAT is and what it means to all the students. This brings us to another problem:

College Board is STILL trying to stop the memes.

You can’t stop them, you just can’t.

If they really wanted to stop the sharing of test material they would just give everyone different tests. Besides, what’s so important about the “integrity of the test” when you only take it once, and everyone takes it at the exact same time.

In my opinion, the memes were the best part about the PSAT. The reading and writing sections were fun to read but easy.

The Math No-Calculator section was awful, and the Math Calculator section was pretty easy. The funny thing is, the No Calculator section has super hard math, and then the Calculator section is like: What’s 8 x 6?

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.

Would I take it again? Well, I’m going to next year, but yes, only for the memes. Sorry, College Board, Memes are Life, and you will never be able to stop the PSAT memes. Good luck canceling that many people’s scores, I guarantee you’d get a lot of angry phone calls and a lot fewer people taking it next year (who weren’t forced by their school). I mean, it’s expensive (luckily my school covers it) but for people who take it on their own, without the memes, I mean, what’s the point?

Love you, College Board,

Sincerely,

-V

 

 

Stop Wasting Your Time

Lists + Tips, Short Reads

I’ve been wasting my time for too long. I’m tired of sitting on my computer uselessly browsing the internet, but I can’t stop. Whether it’s after school or on a day on the weekend. I spent half my summer wasting my time.

So, here are my tips for actually doing something worthwhile with your time. It’s helped me so far, so I’m hoping it’ll work for you too.

1. Learn Something

Pursue something you’re interested in. That could mean taking a class at your local college in the summer or learning for free online. I personally use Coursera and Edx for online learning. I like EDx because a lot of the courses are self-paced so I can do it when I have time. But, Coursera forces me to do the work. I also think the peer grading system Coursera uses works better, from what I’ve seen.

Anyway, there are a ton of cool courses there, I plan on taking:

-Machine learning

-Creative Writing: Setting and Description

-Cryptography

-Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technology

-Crime101 / Psychology of Criminal Justice

-Science of Everyday Thinking

-Nanotech (Can’t remember the exact name.

Oh, but don’t be that person who only takes courses from prestigious universities. Take the courses that interest you, please.

2. Go Outside

Sitting around all day is so unsatisfying. Even if you can take a five-minute walk outside around your house you’ll feel much better Physically, and about yourself. For me, even working outside on the deck is better than sitting on my bed the whole day.

Go hang out with your friends, take your dog on a walk, or bike around your neighborhood.

If you are lucky enough to live by nature or even a park, walk around there and take pictures. Photography is one of the best ways for me, at least, to get me out of my house.

3. Find a Project to Work On 

Choose something you love to do. Let’s just use writing as an example. Commit to writing a short story, book, or a blog (like me). Find something to put all that passion into. Oh, and make sure it’s something you really love to do. It could be writing code for an app, making a movie, making a short animation, composing music, volunteering at animal shelters, starting a local or online business, etc.

My point is, find an activity to pour your passion into. Focus your energy on a project and when you finish, you’ll feel pretty good about yourself, and you’ll have accomplished something in all the time you would’ve spent on Instagram, Youtube, or Netflix.

Oh, and yes, I did take the featured photo when I went to Michigan this summer.


I’ve wasted way too much of my time doing nothing. So, let’s do it together, let’s accomplish something. Let’s use the time we spend on useless matters to do something worthwhile.

Sincerely, 

-V

 

 

 

All the Days Blend to One

Short Reads

After the first week of school, we begin to get into a routine. First, we get up, we get ready, we sit in class, we go home and we study or do homework. Each of these days seemingly pointless. Some people are fine with this monotonous lifestyle for years. I’m not.

I’m not.

I’m not going to waste my life doing the same thing over and over again. I’m not going to school just to “get it over with”. I’m not going to let each day pass like it doesn’t matter.

We have no idea how many days left we have on Earth, so this year, I’m not going to let any of them go to waste.

Last year, I was stuck in the mindset that if I got through today, I could get through tomorrow, which would translate to weeks, months, and then finally the school year would be over.

I’m over that.

My goal for this year is to have a memorable moment each day. Maybe I’ll remember it for an hour, a day, a week, two months, or years from now. To me, it doesn’t matter. I want each day to count for something, as small as it may be.

I am taking every opportunity I get.

I will not let my life blend into one monotonous routine whether it be today, tomorrow, four years from now, to forty years from now.

I’m going to live my life without wishing I’d spent one day a different way.

I will not let the days, months, and years blend into one because each one is uniquely amazing.

 

Is It Even Worth It?

Short Reads

 

In English, we were asked, “What motivates you?”

And to be honest, I don’t know.

There are so many things in our lives that push us to do the things we do.

Why do I complete my homework? Why do I study and memorize useless information?

Because that’s what we’re told to do.

Even when we were young, we were told to listen to our teachers, do this assignment, succeed, and get full points. For me, there was a certain shame in not finishing homework. I remember minutes before our Wordly Wise homework was due in 4th grade (vocab stuff I already knew), I would run to the bathroom and hurriedly fill out the sections in messy cursive.

Some people don’t have that guilt. In my experience, they didn’t really care about school to begin with.

People may argue that it’s because we’re only looking toward one thing, College. This is what my sister tells me: do this because it’ll look good on your college applications! Well, screw that. I’m going to do whatever I want whether colleges want to see it or not.

And, what about after you go to college? What’s the point of studying and work then? What’s the point of any of these things I do?

Well, I like doing them. Some of them I love doing. It doesn’t matter why I love them, it’s my life, I can do whatever I want. Maybe they’re fun, maybe it makes me happy, maybe it’s hard but rewarding. Who cares?

Maybe memorizing useless dates in History isn’t worth anything. I’m actually pretty sure it isn’t. But, if that’s what you like to do, you’re probably insane, but go right ahead.

My point is, do what you love because you love it. Not because someone told you to- because then you’re just wasting your time. Don’t take that AP Chemistry class when you hate science and plan on working in a completely different area. Don’t play a sport you don’t enjoy.  Take the classes you’re drawn to, participate in the activities you want to do.

To finish it all up, the ever-relevant quote from Steve Jobs:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

 

Sincerely, 

-V