Live life in vibrant color, and leave behind the rest

Live life in vibrant color, and leave behind the rest

I sometimes struggle with healing from my past. Past mistakes, friendships, relationships, or even past versions of myself. And what I have found is that we are always a little bit of each of those things…forever. Not necessarily in all the cringe worthy ways, but if you think about it, we are always growing from our past versions. Whether it is the past version of yourself from a year, a month, a week, or even a day ago. I like to think of each person’s life like a plant, every plant has different needs and different ways to care for it, but the base line care is pretty much the same. You water it, give it sunlight, and repot it when it’s outgrown its first container. People are like this too – everyone starts somewhere, needs a level of nourishment, and care – and eventually we outgrow where we started. A lot like plants, we will always have our roots, the evidence of who we once were, forever attached to who we are today.

My past self has made some foolish decisions. Hell, sometimes my present self does too – no one is perfect! After trial and error, most of the time I have learned to notice, grow, and improve from those choices. Some decisions lead me to stick it out with friends that were no good and stay with jobs that were sucking the life out of me. And others were questionable personal decisions, like trying not to eat to fill the fantasy standard of beauty. Oppositely, some were positive decisions to take chances on myself, choose what I wanted over what others wanted for me, and love who I was at every stage of life. These decisions were rarely self taught, and a lot of  times they were inspired by way of example. I would see someone taking risks and choosing to live life in vibrant colors, and I would decide I wanted to live life in vibrant colors too.  

Speaking on the spectrum of decisions, I have and love tattoos. They are beautiful expressions of what people want to showcase to others without words (although sometimes tattoos are words). Occasionally they are self explanatory, while other times they are special to only the one person who has them. I like the ones that are significant in some way, the ones that have meaning beyond the tattoo itself. All my tattoos have meaning, but I happened to get one that I no longer felt in love with a few years later. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided to get it covered up. The process of getting it covered up was weirdly therapeutic, I was changing something that was thought/meant to be permanent. I was changing something because I made the decision to. 

Lately, I have become more aware of the power of decision. Our daily lives are so saturated with advice and FOMO, that sometimes it’s hard to make a personal decision without someone else’s approval. I now acknowledge the power of jumping off of my past/present self today and everyday to be a better version of myself.  Every day is a clean slate to change and make waves.

Where are you REALLY from?

Where are you REALLY from?

Okay, I’m going to answer that question right off the bat. I am adopted from China, and I honestly know very little about my original home town. I’ve seen pictures, heard stories, and even watched documentaries, but I’ve never experienced it. It’s been on my bucket list for a while. 

I don’t even remember when I found out I was adopted, it might have been self explanatory. In my early days, I remember being different, different hair color, eye color, and skin color. In many ways my family worked hard to make the differences an excuse to celebrate my uniqueness in our daily lives. For one of my birthdays my family spray painted their blonde hair black for my birthday (it sounds like it was in bad taste,but I loved it). 

My parents tried to keep me involved with cultural groups, like dance and language classes, but I was never into it. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I immediately fell into a category. Chinese girl, adopted into a caucasion family (my dance class was filled with identical situations). It felt more like a label than my race difference, and with time the classes slowly disappeared from my life. 

Growing up, I remember people asking where I was from, speaking to me in chinese, or thinking I didn’t even belong with my family group. It stung, and often took me back for a second, but I got used to it and learned to live with the constant replies of “I am from China”, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak chinese” (in my very american accent), and “I am with them”.

As I got older, friends were sometimes the worst. I often forgot my different looks, in my house it was never mentioned, but in school – I was asked the same questions that strangers asked me. The most popular though, was “where are you from?” or “WHAT are you?”

Friends would ask – do you ever want to be white? And I remember thinking about my response – it was often a short no (but in secret, sometimes it was… yes). My friends mostly consisted of non – asian individuals, so I was never the friend who was called the twin or the sibling. These little instances really hurt, but I learned to mask it and eventually learned to own my differences. This was definitely not over night, and took a lot of self love. No one can really make you happy about you, except you. 

Once I got to my teens the stereotype shifted into something more adult. There were times where the shift was thrown in my face, while other times it was less recognizable. Once my father took me to a restaurant after one of my choir concerts, and the hostess seated us in a private room. It wasn’t until we asked to be moved to the main dining room that it dawned on me – they thought I was only with him for the night. 

In high school and college I no longer knew if people liked me for me or if it was an “asian thing”. Sometimes it became self explanatory, a phrase like “I’ve never been with an asian girl” would eventually be verbalized or “can you speak with an accent?” and it would set off my radar.

As an adult – I still deal with these insecurities. The difference now is that I know where to spot them, and how to digest them, and eventually grow past them. Like all things, it ebbs and flows – with time, with news, and with who I meet.