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)

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