I am having a conversation with someone who I have never been super close to. 10 minutes in, we’re asking questions like, “What have you learned about yourself from going abroad?” “What kind of experiences do you strive to have in the near and far future?” “How do your goals/aspirations align/come into conflict with what career path you’re set out to do?”

It’s been so long since I’ve had a conversation like this, and to be having this sort of deep talk with someone who I definitely don’t know well. We took the leap of faith to be vulnerable with one another. What exactly happened? Why haven’t I had these sorts of really satisfying conversations in so long?

We are constantly surrounded by people. There are our incredibly close friends who we think we know inside and out. We’ve probably brought up those sorts of probing questions before. Those existential questions. But we’ve become comfortable, we know each other too well. Now we approach each other about everyday annoyances, how to solve day-to-day conflicts. We say “hi” and “bye” to show appreciation, but where did those conversations go? We know inside that we can talk about anything. But why is that I’m now seeing it as we can complain to each other/let out whatever emotion like a child whenever we want when we “can talk about anything?” The questions that I find to be so interesting, it’s so hard to ask a question like that now that I’ve reached this closeness with someone.

There are our close friends. We’ve probably had those sorts of conversations before. But it’s a sort of limbo/purgatory where we’re not so close to seek their help on anything and we’re not not total strangers to be able to ask those questions out of the blue.

There are the close to total strangers. There is a sort of mystery to getting to know these people and to better understand their positions, their moral views, their history. A lot of the time, I am able to feel refreshed by hearing a new perspective and getting to know a new person in their wholesome.

While it is obvious that we don’t know things about strangers, what about people we do know well? I think it’s a given that as people change, we should be able to revisit those initial conversations where our views have probably changed.

What is it exactly that stops me from doing so? Am I being complacent? God, I really hope I’m not becoming complacent. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, surrounding myself with very different people, placing myself in a different vibe and a different environment, I strive to have as many diverse experiences in my life while I still can.

I think these musings, while throwing me into a huge question mark about my relationships and how I approach people in my life, has helped me revisit a realization. I spend so much time reflecting on my own, finding out what I’m learning about myself on my own, making self-improvement goals on my own, and never discussing such things and turning it into a meaningful dialogue.

Maybe it’s the busy lives we all lead now, that renders us to just doing brief check-ins on people we deem to be worthy of that precious time and focus. In such a globalized society, there is so much opportunity to meet new people and for friends to shift and change.

This is where I sort of see a loophole. I value talking to people who are very different from me, because they lend an entirely different perspective that I have not thought to consider. As our friends change, they will most likely end up having different perspectives in some regard. So why do I either: 1) not bother to revisit those conversations to learn, or 2) grow farther apart from these friends even though by my “philosophy,” I know I can learn so many valuable lessons from them and they can learn from me as we both change and evolve.

Maybe that’s just the sad nature of having an oversaturated society. There is too much to do, too much to learn, too many people to meet. That’s where priorities and picking-and-choosing comes into play. What do I value? You know that question where you’re asked to pick the top three most important things in your life? I always struggled with that question. I’m such a greedy person that in my attempts to maintain everything, inevitably some things slip out of my fingers.

TL;DR make the most of what you have. You never know when it leaves. And stop spending so much time reflecting on your own and dwelling on your emotions, your mistakes, your lessons all on your own. Invite other people to the conversation (to your comfort), tell them what you’ve learned, ask them what they’ve learned.

You’re better than what you are right now. There is always opportunity to better yourself. This is one way.


Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 4)

What are you most grateful for this year?

I of all people know about friends coming and going. That’s just in the nature of me moving around a lot. But even when I’m in one spot for several, my friend group just naturally shifts. It’s not that I make an active effort to distance myself from people, but more of a part of growing up. Before, I’ve mentioned that I’ve never been so good at making the best of friends, as in the people I find myself closest to aren’t always the people who are good individuals who push me positively in the right direction while accepting me. I’ve definitely discovered the right friendships while at Stanford, but I want to add another layer to that thanks. Amidst all the friend shifts, I’ve found that during my time in college, these past three years, I’ve continuously been surrounded by good people. Such good people. Freshmen year, my roommate and other dormmates struck a chord of admiration within me and I grew up so much. Sophomore year, people who I didn’t initially know well took such good care of me when I suffered health issues and struggled with adjusting to my study abroad environment. Junior year, I built upon the friendships I made within my sorority, and I was introduced to a super tight-knit group where it is so visible that everyone cares about each other so much. And now moving into senior year, for the first time, I’m living in close vicinity with the friends that I know I enjoy spending time with and learn a lot from. From this past year, I think I’ve learned that while my alone time is so precious, I need to better appreciate the people that have just landed in my life out of seemingly pure luck. It reminds me of what Jason Y. Lee had said at the Jubilee Conference last year: Surround yourself with a community that will lift you up. For me, it hasn’t been a singular community. But no matter where I have been, I’ve been very lucky.

What is a really memorable act of kindness you were shown this year?

Andrew Lee. Oh My Goodness. Andrew Lee is someone I met through him being on dorm staff and us both taking 107. While I absolutely abhor this class, I do have to thank it for allowing me to ask Andrew if he wanted to be partners for lab and the last assignment. He is one of the few who continuously keep in touch with me. He is one of the few who supports me in whatever I do, while reminding me to be critical. He is one of the few who ALWAYS without fail leaves me notes in my room, notes of encouragement and thanks. And honestly, I should be the one who does more of the thanks. Those small acts of kindness, he would probably say are no big deal, but they always make my day and I keep them to reread and mull over the state of my life and how I can better myself. He is the first friend I’ve had who told me his story of salvation and rediscovering God, and I feel blessed that he wanted to tell me. Along the same lines, whenever I grow apart from God, he is the one who catalyzes me reevaluating that relationship and taking it seriously. Thank you, Andrew, for deeming me worthy of your time and efforts to show appreciation, encouragement, and give advice. Don’t you worry, I will be making my list of goals for the next year very soon 🙂


What were some things you did this year that you will remember 5 years from now?

  1. I went out almost every single week of fall quarter. My body probably doesn’t thank me for that.
  2. I hiked the Dish for the first time. At night.
  3. Dave and Buster’s is my new playground.
  4. I took a close friend to the SF Symphony and experienced such a huge wave of nostalgia.
  5. My freak outs about the job hunt will probably never cease, but I’ll remember having the epiphany during Christmas break to tackle my fears and insecurities.
  6. I became so much more comfortable in my own skin.
  7. I was in a car that got pulled over.
  8. All those conversations exploring the Asian-American experience and how to approach these discussions with other people.
  9. I got into the coterm program 🙂
  10. I’m living on my own for the very first time.
  11. TL;DR I’ve grown up.
Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 4)

Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 3)

As I begin my internship this summer, I’m excited to try a lot of new things. I’m blogging more. I’m doing a photo a day album on my Facebook to keep track of the memories in New York. I am most likely pursuing a side project with my wonderful roommate (aka let’s work on something to help us get into Pixar #jknotreally). I am trying to keep a strict regimen to be active (am consistently taking 3 flights of stairs in the apartment and 5 flights of stairs at work). My team has already welcomed me with open arms. I…have a good feeling about this summer 🙂

What was the last time you did something for the first time? What are you not afraid to try? What are you afraid to try?

The last time I did something for the first time. As I’m thinking of new things, I feel like almost anything can be considered a new thing. Sorry that was a lot of “thing”s in there. But I think as I just mentioned in my preface, I’m trying to do a lot of new things, and I’m excited! I have a good feeling; my team sounds so amazing. I got to see a demo of the app that hasn’t been released yet, and I feel like it’s fresh. It’s not maintaining or improving an existing product. When it comes out, I can say that I worked on it. And that is a flatter in itself. I don’t think I’m necessarily afraid to DO things, but I’m afraid of vocalizing my intent of doing things for the first time. I would like to believe in failing quickly, but failure is so negatively stigmatized and causes me to shake at the thought of failing in other people’s eyes.

When was a time when you wanted to give up, but because you tried one more time, you succeeded?

Man, I have had many times when I wanted to give up. My mentality was that I had contributed so much already and it’ll be A OK. It won’t be spectacular but it’ll run. I am part of a multicultural sorority and I happened to be rush chair this past year. Rush is when the sorority puts on a week-long worth of events for non-sorority affiliated girls to attend. The goal is for both parties to get to know one another and see if the sorority is the best fit for the girl. This being the first time that I was on the other side, it was crazy to see that it’s not just a girl trying to “sell” herself to the sorority; the sorority tries just as hard to sell itself to girls. A bunch of logistical nightmares and unfortunate circumstances led to me feeling like I was shouldering the burden of essentially showcasing a group of 40 girls to many others. Feeling alone at times and dubious to reach out, I also felt a lot of pressure to please everyone. This was when I made the connection to how similar this must be for a PM: if no one on the team believes in the product…how does one continue? You’re not always going to end up with a happy, go-lucky team that is passionate about what they’re working towards. This discouragement in a dream that I had led me to doubt my abilities in putting on the most immediate events. At the first event, however, I was reminded of what mattered to me. I had girls emailing me thank you for the event and that they had felt so welcomed. None of them needed to reply to my generic emails, but they all chose to show an act of kindness to me. People are good! I just always need to find a silver lining, because there always is one.

What was the most intolerable challenge you had to endure this year? What did that experience teach you about facing future challenges?

Wow, intolerable is a very strong word! I think it’s safe to say that no one likes to feeling of knowing that they hurt someone, especially someone close. Through my friendships and connections with people all throughout college, I became an advocate of open communication. The idea was that if you are good friends, then you would take the time to understand the other’s perspective and come to a mutual understanding. In that sense, I was gratefully surrounded by many people who took care of me and listened to what I had to say so intently… I think as a result, I may have allowed myself to become too comfortable with having my opinions affirmed by people. I’ve always known that I’m quite dependent upon what others think of me, and I got to see that turn on me for the worst. There was an incident where many hurtful things were said and no one was comfortable with speaking up. In the event of explaining to the friend how there was a lot of hurt going around, I ended up hurting that friend too. It was the last thing I was expecting; in my head, I had envisioned a very peaceful conversation where we could convey our thoughts from that incident and work to alleviate the pain that was already there. Instead, the pain shot up. How do I even describe my feelings? I learned that this person never really understood what I had said because they were immersed in the pain that I had unintentionally caused.

Shortly after, I had another conversation with someone else, where I tried very hard to convey my own feelings, and I was met with a lot of apathy along the lines of “your feelings are valid but shit didn’t get done.” What a horrible feeling, to feel like you are talking to a wall, but not wanting to vocalize that because you don’t want to dehumanize or hurt the other person. But why should you care when they are hurting you?

What did I learn from this? That no matter how much you can try to reason feelings, feelings are feelings. You cannot always rationalize them. Even if you have difficulty understanding why someone is hurt, you have to go in with an open mind. It’s so difficult because apathy is a thing, almost as strong as emotion. I feel like in today’s society, emotions are negatively stigmatized so that people are scared to have emotion and to display that emotion. When emotions are in play, the entire scenario becomes that much more fragile and delicate. My goal was to explain emotions to someone, but once they become invested in their own emotion, it is only….practical (I hate this word) to listen to them and understand what they are going through. Compassion is difficult. What exactly is the balance between communicating your own emotions and understanding others’ when they become so strong? I definitely don’t know the answer to that. But I do want to echo a friend who once said that we need to work towards a more loving and a more compassionate world. It’s hard. But we sometimes just have to stop. And listen.

What are some worries you had at the throughout the year that are no longer worth worrying about?

Funnily, people. It’s always hard for me to articulate how I truly feel about people. I think deep inside, I am always worried about impressing people but at the same time wary that people will let me down. I don’t think I’ve necessarily made the best of friends when I was younger. I usually try to justify this by remembering how I’ve moved around a lot. Of course it’s natural for me to worry about having friends. And it should be reasonable that I don’t always end up in a group where I’m lifted up and supported. By senior year of high school, while I valued the friendships I had cultivated throughout those four years, I was so ready to leave. While I was excited to meet new people and learn so much in college, there was that annoyance in the back of my head, “what if I end up not having any close friends? What happens if I don’t have a close-knit friend group?” For several years, I struggled with striking a balance. I wanted to meet as many amazing people as I could, to be continuously inspired and bright-eyed. But at the same time, I craved to have a close-knit community. It got to the point where I think I was a very friendly face to see around and to grab a meal with, but when would I ever be the first person that people think to reach out to? Am I always going to be the person that puts in more effort in the friendship? That fear silently haunted me for a good two years in college.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you how exactly I became more comfortable in my own skin with regards to being a friend this past year. Maybe it was maturity, maybe it was sheer time, or maybe it was all just luck. But what I do know for a fact is that all the people I’ve found myself surrounded with are the kindest, most driven, and most wonderful people I have ever met. Like really, how did this even happen?! Whenever someone confided in me in something that’s been bothering them, while I’m concerned about what’s going on, I also feel a twinge of thanks, thanks in seeing me as a person worthy of their trust. Whenever I’m added to a group, I am thankful. Whenever someone voices their appreciation for me, I feel like I’m on cloud 9. Friendships and relationships are always a two way street. Choose to surround yourself with people who will appreciate you and accept you for WHO YOU ARE. Whenever I voice an insecurity, my friends are often surprised because either they never saw that or they believe I am the opposite. When it’s about being insecure about my body image, I have people telling me that I’m a beautiful person, inside and out. When it’s about being insecure of my career aspirations, people exclaim “I can totally see you doing that! You can do it.” I know that this is very self-centered at the moment, but what I want to say is that oftentimes when I voice my thanks to my friends, they say “it’s no big deal.” Isn’t that so beautiful? Let me explain. For kind words to be not a big deal means that kind words and whole-hearted acceptance is an everyday occurrence. I can’t imagine anything better: I always want to be surrounded by a loving community that proclaims it every minute of every day. Thank you Vanuyen for hanging out in my room almost everyday in the fall. Thank you Hilary for being a great supporter through everything emotional and academic especially in the spring. Thank you James for always listening and knowing the right things to say. Thank you Niles for affirming this girl in that this is a wonderful friendship. Thank you Josh for always being the big brother and thinking of me. My goodness, I don’t know what I was thinking when I started saying these thanks; there are so many people I want to say thank you to but I don’t even know what to say. If you are someone in my life who I’ve even bothered to grab a meal with, then know that you are a fantastic presence in my life and that you have impacted me significantly and positively. Thank you.

Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 3)

Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 2)

Onward with my exploration of the past and seeking to find out what I can do better in the future! It’s 1:30AM; I should really be getting sleep since I’m headed to work at 9 in the morning. After this post, I promise:

What are some goals that you made at the beginning of the year that you stuck with throughout the year?

Huh. This is a question that I feel almost silly and ashamed to answer. My goals definitely centered around self-care: think more about God. Take academics seriously. Be healthy. Go to the gym. And there were some of the more blatant goals like don’t hang out with friends as much since they’re distracting from academics. Along the same lines, don’t be in a relationship. This year was similar to other years in that I was not successful with self-care. Self-care is something I didn’t grow up with, to say the least. Tangible material successes were what drove me day by day. When I think about high school, I think about days where I slept at 3AM constantly making study sheets for the upcoming AP World essays, when I practiced countless hours of violin not because I liked it but because there were awards/approval from my teacher/wanting to be like my friends, and (along those lines) where I was desperate for validation, affirmation, and acceptance from peers and judges. It almost became second nature for me to have many bad days but slap a smile on my face as soon as I walked out of the room and started conversing with people. It was almost like a talent; in seventh grade, I had learned the phrase “fake it till you make it,” and I ended up embodying this. But this was the first year I realized, to what extent should I fake it? This was the year I really realized why exactly self-care and self-awareness is important. If I don’t take the time to understand and work on myself, then who would? In many instances, we talked about deciding on an image to convey to the audience at hand, but again, what is the point of an image if it’s 2-dimensional and not real? I have always taken pride in that I was seen as genuine, but have I been genuine with myself and taken action within myself? I now know that I haven’t been doing so.

To be blunt, basically did not keep any of my goals. I kept pushing them off, but I think if I were to revisit these goals next year, they are for very different (and in my opinion, better) reasons. Being healthy and going to gym was primarily driven by vanity and insecurity. But I’ve been listening to my body more this year and as Cassey Ho says, this body is a temple. God has gifted me with this body, and I want to take the best care of it as I can. The only person who gets hurt is me. I pushed away friends, but friends coming to me made me realize while it is good for me to spend alone time, I should not underestimate the joy and power that comes from real true friendships. In the past, I don’t feel like I have always made the best of friends. But I’m now continuously surrounded by people who encourage me to look inward, people who support my every decision, people who CHALLENGE me to be a much better individual. As for relationships, well, to say the least, relationships come when you least expect. I feel that I have grown a lot in this relationship. He has shown me what a beautiful thing a relationship can be, and I cannot thank him enough.

What are some good habits you’ve picked up this year?

LOL ah I think I’ve picked up a lot of bad habits, but I had to learn that certain habits don’t work for me. If this is even a habit, I would say that I stop to listen much more now. I don’t want to be someone who pushes people away from confiding in me, and I’ve learned that before I’m a speaker or a talker, I must first be a listener.

How did you decide what you wanted to prioritize this year? Are you satisfied with what you ultimately prioritized?

The beginning of this year was very academic/career driven. While I think this was a good mindset then during recruiting season, I am content that this was not the motivation for the entire year. While I am satisfied, there is always room for improvement. For a really long time, I thought I wanted to be a PM. But after having been in several leadership positions which relate closely to the soft skills of a PM, I’ve realized that one needs a deep emotional bandwidth to manage people. It got to the point where I may have been tunnel-visioned and focused on the outcome and not so much on listening. I entered this weird state of not wanting to be around people, feeling revolted at the idea of getting a meal with a friend. After moments of reflection like this…I think I do realize that I want my priority to be people–people I can help and lift up. But I should not feel bad about prioritizing myself. I’ve learned so much this year and I’ll keep working at my priorities next year.

What is the best/most meaningful/noteworthy/significant/memorable compliment you received this past year?

This past year, I entered my very first relationship. Honestly, it was a sort of luck of the draw and it took a leap of faith. We are such different people, and none of our friends would have fathomed this to come to fruition. As what comes with a first relationship, this was the most vulnerable I have been with any one person. I have cried my heart so much, I have screamed my head off like no other, and I have shared the most beautiful moments with this one person. But it’s not just about me pushing my emotions onto him; for the first time, I felt my heart fall to the pit of my stomach and rise up to my throat with loss of joyful words, for the ups and downs this one person has had. I think growing up…I would eye couples in dramas and movies with awe but say “pfft, this doesn’t happen in real life.” Everyone has secrets, everyone is selfish and only cares about themselves ultimately. I struggled with how to trust people after incidents in middle and high school where I felt close ones turn on me. So how in the world could I give my heart to someone?! Well, because I felt him giving his heart to me. We know that God loves us all unconditionally, but never would I have believed that this person would be the closest thing to unconditional love in the flesh that I would see. I admit, I oftentimes was a child and would “test” him, ask him ridiculous questions to see if he would hold judgments, any sort of proof that what happens on the screen isn’t real at all. But through these months, he has been grounded, unwavering in his affection and his kind words to me. How can I beat that at all? Things that people would revolt at, he calls cute. The crazier I would be, the more he would laugh and follow up with crazy quirks himself. While I worried about what others would think, he directed his efforts on bettering something between the two of us. To hear someone say that….they love everything about me….brings tears to my eyes because I cannot even think of a time where someone who has seen all of me has ever said that to me. James, no matter what happens 3 months from now, a year from now, decades from now, please know that you have shown me something so beautiful and I feel lucky to have even had this memory. You yourself are a compliment in my life, and I will keep reminding myself of that 🙂

Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 2)

Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 1)

A while back, Sophia posted these questions as reflections points for 2015. Personally, I always thought the new year felt weird to do reflections; the more natural point for me as a student is the start of each academic year. Now that junior year has closed and I am about a day away from starting my new internship, I wanted to take the time to reflect and share what I’ve learned this past year. Now, this will end up being a long post, so I’m going to go ahead and split this into 4 parts. Reflecting doesn’t have to be a speed dating/cramming to study type of activity.

What are some personal strengths you’ve discovered / cultivated this year?

Ah, this is such a good question. In college, every time I look back on a year, I feel like I’ve drastically changed in just 9 months. This year was the 3rd quarter of my college experience. This was the time for me to step into those big girl shoes, be less of a follower, novice, beginner, lost frosh, and more of a mentor, older sibling, LEADER. I’ve learned so much about leadership and teamwork this year. There isn’t just one leadership style that will work universally. As a leader, you cannot employ the same methods that worked on one team with another team. As a leader, the thing I’ve valued the most is my ability to listen. My ability to listen and be open-minded is definitely flawed, but I’m working on it. The leaders I’ve admired so much are not only the people who reach their initial goals, but the people who listen to concerns, are able to communicate clearly, and also be flexible with their plans. There is such a delicate balance between executive decision and consensus. There is a difficult balance between hierarchical and “everyone is on the same foot.” I don’t necessarily have a preference; I see great things of each method and style I’ve seen in others, and I still need to learn what I am most capable of. I also wouldn’t say I’m necessarily more confident in my leadership skills; I would say that I am so much more cognizant of my capacity and ability to listen at any given time.

What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?

I’m not so afraid to ask questions. As I’ve mentioned before, the Asian American community has been a home base throughout my college experience. When it started to feel foreign, I got scared and felt helpless. A lot of this was due to discussions of where we fit into diversity talks, Who’s Teaching Us, Black Lives Matter, but another part of it was seeing good friends beginning to harbor so much hate and anger against “white privilege,” “classism,” and “white supremacy.” Back in the fall, I had a conversation with someone who I considered to be one of my closest friends. He had been through a lot. While I was abroad, he participated in a demonstration that led to police arrests and a lot of court visits. Over the summer, he saw firsthand the pain that low-income families of color had to endure as they were kicked out of their homes for the sake of wide-eyed, comfort-loving tech employees. A lot of this pain…he latched onto me. He had many hateful things to say, and while they weren’t about me, they felt directed at me. A good friend of mine can tell you how hurt and sad this made me feel. Amidst my anger that this friend would push me away in such a manner, there was sadness that he had endured so much pain himself. But there was also confusion, because I could not for my life understand what he as well many other friends had been through. Many did not feel like it was their place to explain to me. After another incident where I heard that another one of my friends was ridiculed behind his back about his ignorance and inability to understand the situation, I was so angry. If you yourself are not willing to explain, then how is someone supposed to know that he/she/they should be asking those questions in the first place? It’s like silently expecting a freshmen to give you a review about an upper-div class when he hasn’t even heard of it, and then going ahead and placing judgment. All of this combined has driven me to ask more questions and to not be put in the position of “not understanding.” We should all make an effort to understand, but we should also not expect other people to know everything. I may not be in a place to “educate,” but the least I can do is provide my own perspective. After all, the friends I find to be most valuable in my life are the ones who push back against my own opinions.

What aspects of your current self would your 09/23/2015 (give or take a few days) self be proud of?

I’ll repeat what someone told me recently about how proud aspects tend to be more like academic/career accomplishments. But if I were to think about what aspects of my personality I am proud of… I think I am so much more comfortable in my own skin. I’m definitely far from saying I’m 100% comfortable with myself and I don’t question anything, but I would like to think small steps have been made. I have found myself many times in positions where I was told that things I say or suggest were encouraging, welcoming, and “so right.” It is those kinds of affirmations that really do make my day and make me think that I must be doing something right in my life for people to confide in me and for people to thank me. So to those people who have expressed those sentiments with me, THANK YOU.

What kinds of conversation topics / interactions did you find the most life-giving and engaging?

I think this was the year where I found myself digging through my past so much more in-depth than I was accustomed to. But it wasn’t so much just the feels. Ima quote my little, because I couldn’t have said it any better:

Honestly, that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed changing about myself as I’ve gotten older. I’ve been able to wash dishes and buy groceries since I was like 12, that stuff doesn’t make you any more mature or wiser. The real difference between who I am now vs who I was in 7th grade is how much more aware I am of my patterns of behavior, and the inner logic that motivates a lot of those patterns. I can trace an angry thought back to an offhand comment from earlier in the day, and then dissect what it was about the comment that put me off so much, and then even predict and perhaps prevent whatever behavior is going to come out of me as a response.

Self awareness kind of feels like a superpower actually.A few years ago, this blog post would’ve consisted entirely of “IM UPSET AND I DON’T KNOW WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY.” Look at how much more of the world makes sense because I can make sense of myself.Hoping this will continue to expand as I get older.

These conversations, which started from the late night talks with my roommate freshmen year, are all about hearing one another and finding questions to ask for both parties to gain a better understanding of the motivation and beliefs we hold. That has been the most powerful thing for me. For me to not just settle for “ah I don’t really know, I don’t want to think about it,” but to keep pushing downward and ask “oh yeah, what is it about ___ that makes me ____?” “What could’ve happened?” So thank you to all those people who sat around with me for hours having these sorts of conversations. It’s something I’m still learning to do, and I feel these talks having so much positive impact on my life.


Reflecting on Junior Year (Part 1)

Is There Anybody Out There?

I previously talked a little bit about DANakaDAN. If you haven’t heard of him, you are missing out on a rising Asian-American rapper with incredibly meaningful lyrics. I want to turn my attention to some of those. It’ll be a sort of text analysis with my reactions. As a violinist, my ears naturally gravitate towards melodies rather than words. But I’ve heard this song many many times that the words have now just stuck.

Is there anybody,
who’s watching over
I believe in God,
but I question as I get older
Will my burdens he shoulder,
Can I remain a soldier,
between doing what is right sometimes,
and what i know is colder
And it’s a scary proposition,
from this place of my vision
When I can’t even trust myself,
with simple moral decisions
I know it’s wrong for me to question,
or even trying to test you
But it’s hard sometimes,
when I stare at myself in the restroom
That’s why can I be open,
can I say I took it for granted
Of what could be offered in life,
this is my time to be candid
Never mind, I’ll just get faded,
besides thinking is overrated
And i just want to escape,
that to face what I’ve created
So tell me is there anybody out,
that you know without a doubt
Can explain to me all this
and what life is all about
To live or live without,
We’re wondering what is out
So it’s always got me asking,
Is there anybody out there (out there)

Hope they’re still waiting for me
Cuz I’m feeling so scared (so scared)
But I know through this I can be free
Cuz if I keep on, I know I’ll know I’ll find
It will all get better in time (in time)
Is anybody out there (is there anybody)
Cuz I know they’re still waiting,
you’re still waiting on me

This is only an excerpt from his song Is There Anybody Out There, but it is so powerful on so many levels. I find myself thinking “yes! of course I believe in God!” But what does that even mean? I’m supposed to put all my faith into Him, but how can I remain assured that I’m doing the right thing when modern times challenge simple moral decisions?

God has been portrayed to me as almost militant, someone who will punish me with so much wrath if I slip up. But a good friend told me the other day, “I am not a Christian, but the God I believe in is all-powerful and all-loving. He will always watch over me, and understand that the decisions I am making.” This is a view that really resonates with me. It seems natural that God wants what is best for us, and that it would include happiness; but that’s not always the case as many people who’ve read the Scripture know.

As this year has flown by, I’ve garnered so many questions. While one close friend had a revelation and has brought God so close to his heart, another closer friend told me last week that he “is more convinced now than ever that he doesn’t buy into religion (Catholicism) anymore.” Part of me wrestles with what I believe, but another part of me is so apathetic. Is it so wrong of me to be confused about what is right and wrong? Do certain things HAVE to have a right or wrong attached?

How much of the relationship with God is a personal endeavor and how much of it should happen in an institution? It’s sad to hear about love for all and see my loved ones who are “devout” have so many prejudices and place value on materialistic issues. How in the world do I reconcile these disagreements and discomfort I have with my loved ones with what is supposed to be right in God’s eyes? People say it’s supposed to be personal, but why do I feel that so much of it is also society-driven?

Luckily, however, all the while I see what Dan says. Honestly, I don’t know if he himself is religious, but his music reminds me that God does exist, God is indeed here watching over me. And that in itself is a blessing. As America becomes more diverse and views on God become more fragmented, it is so important for me to find that fire inside of me to go and pursue whatever of a relationship I do have with God. I should not have to ask the same questions every year due to my complacency and continuous discomfort.

Thank you, Dan, for reminding me. Thank you to my friends, both religious and non-religious, for pushing back against my words and coaxing me to form my own views and to search for the right. Discussions are more than welcome.

Is There Anybody Out There?