The End.

I had a dream last night – it wasn’t a happy one. I was walking down an empty street, not a very affluent one. The mailman met me by the gate to my house and handed me two bundles of letters. He said they’d gotten lost in the mail, and they were only found now.

I opened each one with sadness slowly growing in my dream self as each one was counting down and read “Liberation.”

The saddest part was that I had sent them to myself.

I didn’t know what it meant, and I cried in my dream. I woke up somewhat worried. I’m the kind of person who thinks that, while there are chaotic dreams that mean absolutely nothing, there are dreams – like this one – that are meant to prepare me for something.

6:34pm I received a call from my manager; all Teavana locations will be closing by Spring.

Now, I have complained. I’ve complained enough. I’ve ranted and stressed and let myself be eaten away by anxiety because of things that have happened at this store, but I never once thought that this would happen – at least not while I was still here.

I had a plan once to make a website where I would post custom tea recipes using our teas. One of my blends even made it so big that it was featured on my region’s store menu. It was one of my most prideful days knowing that I had made an impact on this store even if in the smallest way. I grew from a team member, working from 6 – 9:30 to a manager who is trusted with the keys to the store.

“Who’s store is this?”

“It’s yours.”

“No. When you become a manager, it’s your store. So who’s store is this?”

“Mine.”

The woman who trained me talked me through this, and it became my statement.

This is my store. I represent my store. I represent this store that helps guide people through chemotherapy, through health struggles, through family bonding, and through this culture that I’ve loved since I was little.

Tea culture is part of my heritage, and I display it proudly. I was happy to know the benefits of these ingredients, to inform my customers how it can help you just as it has helped me.

I’ve seen my store go through one terrible manager and more than enough employees who didn’t see the job’s worth as much as some of us did. I’ve seen more than enough, and it all contributed to my growth as a salesperson and as an individual.

All in all, seeing this company dissolve right before my eyes after growing up with it is heartbreaking and shocking to say the least.

Outside of the sentimental side of this post, here is why I think Teavana is being shutdown.

When I first saw a Teavana, I was pulled in by the traditional tea culture that was being celebrated in such a modern setting. Yixing teapots with delicate designs and the highest quality teas that up until the turn of the century was only served to emperors. We even had the tea that was served to President Obama. Cool, right?

Our teas were organized by tea category:  white, green, oolong, and black. Customers came in asking for teas to help with blood pressure, headaches, cramps, and acne. We showed everyone how to make their teas in the highest quality Japanese hand-crafted cast iron tea pots and showed them the wonders of creating their own sets to share with their family. This was the world I joined.

Fast forward to Starbucks purchasing Teavana – by the time I had joined, we were already acquired by Starbucks, but the obvious changes were not showing. All the changes were benefits given to employees as we were adopted into the Starbucks partner system. This is the system that paid for my college degree as well as my Starbucks stock.

Until now, that was the big change.

As more and more Starbucks customers grew curious of tea culture, they would slip into the store, not knowing why they had to pay $4.99 for a cup of tea to go without bothering to learn that we were using at the most $30 worth of tea leaves for a cup that they would finish within five minutes. Teavana did not settle for low grade teas, and if one was discovered among our stock, it was quickly discarded and never heard from again.

Tea drinkers came out from under the covers and declared their love for the tea, but as Starbucks took more hold on us, our teas took a different direction. Less samples, less creativity, and no traditional teas available for customers to try. I distinctly remember a woman approaching me and trying to learn about matcha only for her to ask:

“So if I mix this with water, this will taste like a green tea latte?”

Being integrated into the Starbucks system not only changed how we operated and what we sold, it changed our clientele. People came in looking for Starbucks drinks and shrugging us off because they were coffee drinkers, not tea drinkers. I’ve even had someone complain with a simple reason being:

“It’s like you guys aren’t actually Starbucks.”

Let me say this once, and everyone better hear me.

We are not Starbucks. We were never Starbucks. Even after acquiring us, we never became Starbucks. As Teavana employees, we sold tea – not coffee. We were not there to cater to coffee drinkers’ complaints over why this cost more than a bag of coffee because – again – this is not coffee.

This is tea.

The transition into Starbucks took away the traditional tea culture that the old Teavana employees loved and celebrated. We saw the worth in our products, and we tried to do our best to show you the same.

Though, we are not entirely innocent. The original sales process was crude and did not cater to a customer’s needs, but money. By the time I was hired, we aimed to fix that. I wanted you to leave satisfied with your purchase. I don’t care how much you spend; I’m selling something to help your health, that was all that mattered.

Steering back, we slowly turned into what most would say “the Starbucks of tea.” Although, that could not be more accurate. Drinks are not our business; it’s tea leaves. I’m not here to be your barista; I’m here to help you find something to make your life better. I am not a Starbucks barista, ready to give you your venti cup of blond roast in the morning. I’m here to give you information to better your life.

Our tea wall changed, organized by flavor because “customers don’t care about how much caffeine or how many antioxidants this kind of tea has.” They said it would only confuse people. The Yixing pots disappeared, and slowly but surely, we knew the cast iron would, too. Right before my eyes, the world I had entered was slowly being catered to Starbucks customers who wanted a quick fix and something that tasted like juice – only this wasn’t juice so there was a false sense of security that this was so much better. We did not receive any new pure teas without fruits or herbs; we got cocktail-inspired teas for customers to mix with alcohol.

The vision had disappeared.

The culture had disappeared.

The roots of what Teavana had grown from – all gone.

The disappearance of the Buddha logo was just the cherry on top. This was the new Teavana.

Starbucks’s Teavana.

This is not the Teavana I wanted to work for – that Teavana died a long time ago, the shadow of its former self stood in its place, paraded with sugar and pastel colors.

And the sun just decided that this shadow isn’t worth saving.

Step 1: Honesty

Honesty is the best policy.

Or is it?

When I was in middle school, making friends depended on how I spoke and what I spoke about. I talked about things that I thought people liked, and I crumbled even if I didn’t think it was right. In other words, I had two personas – public and private. My public side was very into the current trends, things that the people around me liked. Public Me wanted to make friends everywhere even if that person’s ideas didn’t match my own. Public Me was loud – she wanted to be heard in anyway she could.

Private Me had all the thoughts, the ideas, and the potential but kept it stored away out of fear.

After my first friend purge, my first genuine best friend got me to stand up for myself – something I never actually considered doing. I was okay letting my friends walk all over me if it meant keeping them. Once I stood up for myself the first time, I couldn’t go back.

Why do we assume that people will only like one side of us?

Private Me was a different kind of loud – she was assertive, and she had all the thoughts that needed to be heard. But she saved those thoughts for the Internet or whatever other media outlet she could find. The private side of me stayed hidden within the confines of my computer screen. Then I suddenly had an epiphany –

How could I ever expect to make friends who I’d be willing to have for the rest of my life if I only ever show them one side? And what was the purpose of having both sides? Was I protecting myself? Who was I saving?

I wasn’t saving anyone. I was hurting myself. I kept these thoughts tucked away for the sake of having people around me.

So – honesty first.

Friends second.

It’s easy to talk to people, but what are you supposed to talk about? Do I talk about something I think you’ll like or do I talk about what’s on my mind? To whom do I cater this conversation to? And that’s where my lesson had finally been realized.

I needed to close the gap between Private and Public Me. As time went on, I made the decision to combine the two. The public persona brought the private to light, and the private kept the public from only focusing on what other people liked. There was definitely a result.

People started to tell me I was “real.” What does that mean? I’m being honest, how is that real? Is there such a shortage of honesty in the world that it has become an anomaly? Friends, friends, friends – they all said the same things, and I just let myself continue to be honest.

Honesty, however, does not always guarantee a common thought. I stayed honest, but when my words contradict your own thoughts, I became something else. I was no longer “real,” I was judgmental – I was insensitive, I was inconsiderate. All these things made me think I needed to change again.

But did I really? It wasn’t that I changed over time, but my thoughts no longer consistently aligned with the people around me. Suddenly I became the bad guy. I was no longer “real,” and there became a floating assumption that I’m hiding a part of myself from the world.

Trust me – I’m not.

If I’m hiding anything, it’s something I, myself, have not even discovered. There are no surplus thoughts underneath this image I’ve created for myself. I worked hard to make sure my visage matched my thoughts.

Believe it or not – I’m honest from day one. Until I find a legitimate reason to lie to you, I will not because there would be no purpose. I would be lying for the sake of lying.

Step 2:  Friends, but Step 3:  Consistency.

There’s a reason for this long explanation into why I act the way I do, and here it is.

If honesty comes first, what reason do I have to lie to get people to like me? And hand-in-hand with that, why should I have to fight when someone says otherwise?

Truthfully, there is no reason. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend. I learned just yesterday that the ones who cherish their friends are the ones who stick to their convictions. Childish rumors and hasty actions will not change that. Anyone who has anything to say about the way I act can only know that speaking badly of me will only make the reaction to seeing the truth that much more satisfying for me. Say what you want – you’re still speaking of me.

In this day and age, young adults have all become truth-seekers. In the presence of malice, they pursue the side that makes the most sense, and the side that doesn’t is the one spattered with red in the end.

True or false:  the truth finds you.

False.

You need to find the truth on your own.

Working in Retail Fixed Me

There are certain aspects of one’s personality that need to be adjusted but go by unnoticed.

Today at work, I was asked to watch a video by a motivational speaker who told of his experience with one Starbucks partner at a Minnesota airport terminal. He said he’d never forget this encounter due to that partner’s genuine interest in her customers’ lives.

“I don’t want them to come back to Starbucks; I want them to come back to me.”

Such a recollection like this brought me back to one customer interaction I had over a year ago. Actually, I don’t really remember the first time I met this customer. It was during a holiday season, and, for retailers, you know that the holidays are when you meet and interact with the most people in one day.

It’s difficult to maintain a perfect customer experience when you need to balance these two concepts:

  1. Show a sense of urgency.
  2. (but) Be patient with your customer.

In other words, I need to help you in a reasonable amount of time without making you feel like I’m pressuring you because there are other people in the store. And in balancing these two principles, occasionally, that customer service ability might dwindle down as you go through your day.

Again, I don’t actually remember the first time I spoke to this customer.

However, she definitely remembered me.

The next time I heard of this particular woman, it was actually through her friend who wasn’t even my customer. As this woman was being helped by someone else, I threw in my two cents about a product, and she smiled.

“You helped my friend the first time she came here. She told me about you.”

This was the first time I’d heard this in my few years working at the same location. She then went into detail saying that her friend is now an avid shopper at the location by where she lived. She only visited them once a year, and it was always just after the Christmas rush. I was honest with her and said I couldn’t really remember, but I couldn’t hide the joy in my face at the thought that this one customer enjoyed her experience at the store to the point where she’d tell her friends and family.

Some weeks later, the same woman came back to the store – this time with the friend I had helped.

While I vaguely remembered her at first, the interaction came back to me. She spoke to me with such enthusiasm about how I showed her everything she needed to know and that she had to come back to see me. She was frank; she didn’t need to buy anything that day. She just wanted to see how I had been.

We then delved into how I got into this job, why I was still there, and why I enjoyed it so much.

I think every young adult who works retail says this at least once with a tired spirit –

“I hate this job.”

Sometimes you do; sometimes you don’t.

I’ve definitely said this before, more than once, in fact. At the end of the day though, I really don’t hate it. Granted, once I’ve finished this chapter of my life, I don’t think I’ll ever return to the world of retail, but I can genuinely say that without this job, my view on how people should treat one another as a whole has changed.

So what makes working at Teavana so rewarding and life-changing?

I’m not just selling a product that, at first glance, seems overpriced. I’m not here to take your money for my benefit, to have my name on a sheet of paper that says I’ve sold this much to you.

I’m here to help you improve your life in whatever way I can.

Tea helps people. It’s helped me, so I believe that it can help someone else, too. I will in no way whatsoever sell you bullshit – as some might say. If I don’t believe this product can help you, I’ll tell you. I want you to leave my store knowing that I’ve helped you take the first step to achieving a goal – the task you’ve shared with me. Think back to that scene in Miracle on 34th Street when Santa pointed a customer in the direction of another store, and suddenly it was seen as a revolutionary thing – putting the customer’s needs first.

I’ve had people tell me that I helped them cut sugar out of their diet which led to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve helped customers going through chemotherapy by showing them things that will keep them comfortable. I’ve shown parents ways they can bring the family together.

Mostly, I hope that I’ve shown my customers that I genuinely care. From the woman who’s allergic to apples to the man who knows that he’ll enjoy whatever drink I make for him – I care about them all. I want them all to know that I pay attention, and I will continue to do so until I’m done with this job.

My job does not stop when I clock out; it will stop when I no longer work here. And even then, the world of retail surpasses the job itself.

You learn other basic things that aren’t really seen as common sense nowadays. I’ve moved up in this job from a part-time salesperson to one of the managers, and while it put more pressure on me, I certainly learned a thing or two.

Taking constructive criticism is the number one thing – not from your peers, but from your customers. There are rude ones and there are polite ones, and generally, the polite ones are the people who want to see you succeed. It isn’t a hit to my pride to get feedback. Receiving this feedback also helped me gear it towards other customer service workers who aren’t displaying the kind of service I’d show to my customers.

Regardless of your position in this world, customer service can be interchangeable with simply being a good person. Do not be selfish, keep in mind the person’s background, and don’t let your bad day turn someone else’s day sour.

Another short story – something that was a sign to me that I had grown as an individual in a world of adults who still don’t know how to treat people.

It was on a ride, some ride – no need to go into specifics – and my mother began to exhibit signs of claustrophobia. Anyone with a phobia knows that you should treat the situation seriously and with consideration to the individual.

“Ma’am, if we let you off the ride it will take half an hour, we need to shut off the ride, take everyone out of the cart, and call an operator to do this. The ride is one minute, would you rather I inconvenience everyone to get you out?”

No need to fast forward – I was livid.

How could anyone think that was the proper way to treat this conversation? We were customers just like anyone else. God forbid, the claustrophobia was worse than it actually was. Needless to say, I kept a straight face; I did not argue, but I began to form a conversation in my head.

The moment we were off, I ushered my parents to the waiting area and walked up to the beginning of the line to the ride once more. I asked for the manager on duty which surprised the worker. She radioed the man in charge, and he met up with me in no time.

I spoke calmly and professionally. I look young, but I will not act adolescent. This is an adult conversation, and I will treat it as such.

“I just wanted to point out something, but first, I just want you to know I am not here to argue or put you or the rest of your staff in a position that would make things tense. I work in customer service, so I need to point out something that happened in case it happens in the future.”

He responded to my demeanor, did not argue, and acted with respect because I treated him with respect. I’ve handled customers in the past who have argued with me, but I still responded in accordance to how I should have. You can argue with me, but I will not argue with you. As long as you are my customer, I will treat you as such.

Lessons learned from retail surpass your own job; they help you in the real world when others might not even recognize your actions. People are people, and this job helped me learn how people need to be treated.

Take on a retail job once in your life. Trust me – it helps.

“The Perfect Gift”

As you get older, you begin to realize that finding the “perfect gift” is near to impossible. It’s not because you don’t know what someone likes or what would make someone happy, but with age, you start to settle your mental list of likes and dislikes. In contrast to how each birthday you never really know what you want when someone asks you, when you’re young, every year there’s something new that you’re into. One year it’s boy bands, the next it’s guitar, the year after that is a phone – etc. etc.

Mom, I regret not knowing even now what to get you for Mother’s Day. In the past, it was always, “Sweetie, this gift will be from the both of us” because as a child, you look at your parents as people who have everything they need because you never stop to consider what they want.

So this post is not just an open letter to my dad for Father’s Day – but a thorough look into why I love my parents and why they helped shape me into the person I am today with what seemed like little to no effort. This is for both of you, Mom and Dad. This is for all the parents in my family. This is for all of you.

As children, you never really think about how hard your parents try. They come home from work, they kiss you goodnight, they make dinner seem like it’s just always meant to be there – that’s what life was. Mom and Dad have everything you need and they hand it to you because that’s the life they’re giving you – that’s the life they believe you deserve. When you get older and you live on your own, those meals start disappearing, replaced by last minute studying and hurried meals “because I just need to eat something.”

I will admit this post will not be entirely relate-able for some of my readers. At a young age, I realized that I had an abnormal relationship with my parents, but I didn’t realize exactly how different until people started pointing it out to me.

I text my parents “goodnight” everyday (almost, sorry, Mom). I eat with them at the dinner table. I tell them about my friends, and I tell them when I have a crush on someone at school. I go to them for advice and even go as far as to delegate my friends to them for advice as well.

Is that not normal?

Dad, you proposed to Mom after two weeks, and you’re still together.

Here I am, still meeting people who’ve been together for years and got divorced months later. You set the standard that marriage is a life-long thing.

“I can look, but I go home to Mom everyday.”

That’s marriage. You’re not limiting each other to the walls of the house you share because you aren’t sharing it. It’s not yours and hers – it’s yours. This home belongs to both of you; it isn’t shared. You don’t share your life with Mom; it’s your life.

And maybe you two are the reason why I have such high standards for friends – you two do as well.

For children with wonderful parents, have you ever stopped to figure out that your parents are the first best friends you made in your life? They are the only first best friends. And they are the best.

Yes, I know, again, this won’t apply to everyone but it certainly applies to me and a handful of people I can think of.

Yeah, sometimes I don’t understand you, and other times you don’t understand me. But as a family, even though you don’t understand, you still go to the dinner table – me in my spot and you both in yours – and eat, talk about the day, and enjoy each others’ company. Growing up, I never considered it as enjoying each others’ company, I just thought of it as dinner because that’s how you raised me. It was never an anomaly that “families who eat dinner together have a stronger bond” because that’s how it always was. We ate together, we did our separate activities in the living room together, and overall, at the end of the day, things were discussed together.

When I tell my friends I’m going on vacation with my parents, they say “aww” and for a few seconds I really wonder why. Is that not the norm?

The norm for me is telling my dad about my day. It’s feeling comfortable enough to talk about what frustrates me to a friend in front of my parents because I’m not afraid to let them hear what I have to say.

I remember some bits of advice every now and then.

“At this age, you’re trying to figure out what you want. And even if you can’t, you’re figuring out things that you don’t want.”

I never stopped to thank you for the childhood you gave me because it took me so long to see that this was not normal. Not all families have that transparency. Not all families go to Harry Potter World every year because it makes us laugh and feel happy. Not all families hug each other… just because. That’s not normal.

But that’s us.

So – thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you for setting this standard of life for me because without you I wouldn’t be aiming as high as I do. When it comes to guys, I think of you two first. Would you be proud of me for liking him? Would you speak of my relationship to the rest of our family with pride? And if the answer is no, then goodbye to that idea.

And maybe that’s why finding gifts is so difficult for me! I appreciate both of you everyday. I tell you I love you everyday. I spend everyday thinking of you two at least once, so what is one day out of the year to celebrate your existence supposed to mean to me? Really it means nothing. I appreciate that you are my parents everyday, and I’ll probably continue to do so for the rest of my life.

I get my quirks from you, I get my standards for life and love, I get my expectations – I get basically every aspect of my life as an adult from you. Will I ever forget that? No. I don’t think I ever will.

I know I’ve frustrated you in the past, and I know I’ve made you cry. I know I can achieve more and you believe I can as well, so I’ll continue to try and aim as high as you expect of me. I know I could have done more; I know I could have done this and that better. But I take pride in the fact that out of the millions of children who have said it in their adolescence, I have never once said I hate you. I don’t ever complain about you because – really – what is there to complain about? I learn from you because you were my first teachers. You were my first supporters, and my first friends. I never once regretted the life I had (or have) as an only child, and I know you’ve felt bad because I had no company growing up but did I really need it? No. I didn’t need it because you two did your best to give me that company that was essential to my development. I’m proud to be your child. I’m proud that you can go to your friends and say “my daughter did this” with pride because no one else raised me – it was all you two. The fact that I can be enough for you to speak of me with pride is all I could ever need to accomplish.

And perhaps, you both knew all of these things already, but in case you didn’t – here it is for you in writing.

Thank you for making my life what it is.

I love you both – I really do.

Happy Father’s Day.

“I Am No Stranger to Strangers.”

(Old image featured – 2015)

I am no stranger to strangers.

Every time something shifts in my life, I momentarily forget past occurrences and only look forward. My memory gets foggy, and the concept that “this seems familiar” disappears for half a second.

Thinking back, this is not the first time I’ve heard these words, sunk into these feelings, or received these blows. However, I do know one thing for sure – I’ve finally learned to handle it the way I should.

When it comes to red flags, it may or may not be obvious. For some people I meet, I get this anxious feeling. This particular knot that says,

Be friendly, but do not trust.

And when I feel this, I am sure to be on my guard. Do not get too close, do not reveal too much, and do not let them in.

The second kind of red flag comes in stages. There is a series of yellow flags before the red, and only when the red appears is it too late. When I was younger, I disregarded yellow flags for the sake of giving the benefit of the doubt – something I realized I am more than notorious for giving blindly.

I can recall a memory from when I was 14.

I was visiting a church with a friend who I now call stranger. I sat, feeling out of place when a girl walks in. She walked with confidence, and she had a presence that I admired. She was much older, much more mature than us.

I don’t like her. She’s full of herself. The underside of her hair is blue, and it’s tacky. No one likes her.

As my friend said this, I took her words and applied it over the girl’s image. Yet even as I did, the other young girls my age flocked her and showered her with compliments. In the midst of her mini gathering of fans, she turned to me.

Oh, you’re new! What’s your name? Are you coming here regularly now? I haven’t been here in a while, so I’m sorry if I didn’t recognize you.

I wanted to think she had on a facade for the sake of making a good first impression, but to this day, I really don’t think she was. We talked about her hair, and later she introduced me to her friend with whom I kept in contact with for some time.

From that small experience, I should have known better that your friends’ impressions of people become your own impressions. But what if that wasn’t a real friend? Would that make their impressions invalid?

I am no stranger to strangers.

Once at 10, once at 14, and again once more at 22.

There is no age limit for lessons to be learned. Fate will make you experience the same situations over and over again – same circumstances, different people – same feeling, different words said – until you finally learn which way is the right way.

So what have I learned?

Those who have high standards for whom they trust but who are not trustworthy are not to be regarded, and their impressions of me will not change my impression of myself.

Memories, once invalid, lose all sentimental value. When you originate the initial problem to its start date, all fond and happy moments lose meaning. Now, they are merely occurrences experienced with a stranger. Do not give them weight.

The friend who is meant to stay in your life will never leave. True friends have a purpose in your life, and regardless of the amount of time spent, there is more to be done. They are the non-romantic soulmates who will keep aiding along your spiritual growth. You may not always agree with each other, but you always find your way back. Being annoyed with each other is a natural thing, but if you let that annoyance tear you two apart, then it’s time to say goodbye.

I will not try to save a sinking ship that keeps sabotaging itself whether its intentional or not. The life savers on that ship have been thrown to me, but I will not bend. A sabotaged ship can save no one.

There is a reason why I say I trust my friends blindly.

Do what you want, I am not your keeper.

Make your mistakes because it is your life to live.

I will turn a blind eye to the malice others see because I befriend your character – your being – not your actions.

I trust you with my eyes shut because the moment a line is crossed, I can open my eyes, see you for the person I let you be, and turn away. That blind trust is gone, and you are a stranger once more.

There is no magical place where all lost friendships go. They dissipate into thin air, and life goes on. I let it go, and I won’t hold on.

It isn’t worth saving.

Temporary friends add filter to your vision that you must remove once they depart.

The genuine friends are the ones who keep your sight clear.

To the Next Guy Who Says He’s Always Been Attracted to Me

“I’ve always been attracted to you.”

While I don’t advocate the use of subliminal messages through Facebook statuses and Tweets, this needed to be said. Since last year, this phrase has been used on me a handful of times, and I think at this point it was more than pertinent to my life.

I don’t care.

I don’t care if you’ve always been attracted to me. I do not know you on an emotional level, and if I can’t even remember the last time (or the only time) I ever held a full conversation with you, do not say this to me. The only thought that goes through my head is, “if you were always attracted to me, why didn’t you tell me when I was attracted to you?” Needless to say, I’ve learned that even the nicest faces that can tempt the naive are the ones that disgust the ones who see right through you.

Sure, it sounds harsh, but this is me being honest.

This is the side of me that you do not know and probably have no desire to discover. You saying that you’ve always been attracted to me might be a compliment to my physical ego, but it is the biggest insult to my intellectual pride. This is the girl who you only look at from the surface; these are the words you will most likely never hear upfront because you have no desire whatsoever to know what is beneath my skin or – even worse – beneath my clothes.

I dress to showcase my personality. I was born with this face. I chose this style of makeup. Nothing is here to tempt you, tantalize you, or titillate your desires.

This craving of yours is temporary, and that is not what I want.

These words are your bait, but it isn’t the brand that will make me bite.

This message is by no means intended for the guys who mean this in the intellectual way, but now that I think about it, if you were attracted to my mind, there is no way you would have said this to me.

Being attracted to someone and liking someone are two completely different aspects. I can be attracted to you and have no intention of pursuing you. The one who invests in pure attraction is the fickle one, and the latter has the dedication that I need. I am not the expensive item on the shelf that you can con into a lower price because of a few words.

I do not care.

At the root of all things, the more you use that phrase on a girl who would be willing under the condition that you actually care, the more likely you are to be alone and without the company you will later crave. And when that one escapes – the one you really want for more than just the physical company – you will see what the others really wanted.

I do not want temporary.

I do not want emotionless company.

I do not want to be one of the bodies in the morgue of memories with no names because they’ve all been forgotten.

I put my value on a pedestal, and the only ones who I will let in will be the ones who see more than what I display for the world to see. They are the ones who see beyond the persona of a strong girl who can take care of herself. They are the ones who want the company I am willing to give.

Save your words and your superfluous efforts.

I’d rather be considered the one who got away than the girl who was weak to words.

 

LumiLife: The Importance of Conventions

Photo courtesy of NB Photography & Media
Model: Joeshmoe Cosplay

Passion cultivates domains. If you’re passionate about something, there’s a good chance there is an entire other group of people just like you who love the same thing. And when that happens, there is a wonderful possibility that there is a convention for it.

Everyone has heard of ComiCon, but have you heard of any others? Conventions rule all over the world – crowds of people from all over, gathering together to celebrate a mutual love for the same thoughts.

The first (notable) convention I ever attended was Anime USA in Washington, DC.  I’m not a huge fan of anime, but when you’re surrounded by so many people whose passion rings bells across the state, it’s difficult not to fall back into it. It was an amazing first experience, and many of the friends I have today, I met at this convention. Since then, I’ve attended AUSA twice, and I’ve also attended Katsucon and KCON.

It’s easy to think you’re alone in a fandom until you’ve attended a convention. On the east coast, especially in the state I’m in, the KPOP fandom is a very niche group. I flew all the way to LA to attend KCON, and it was an experience I will never forget. The entire area felt like home, and the people were just as welcoming. You could pick anyone from the crowd, strike up a conversation, and find a new friend. Conventions, in fact, stir up new hobbies and talents that can be used to benefit the people around you.

NB Photography & Media (photo owner) is an East Coast based photography group. Though they haven’t been around long, their photos have quality content and showcase how high caliber cosplay can be.

“I started going to cons in 2012, going with a small group of friends for panels concerts, etc. It was like that for three to four years until I got to travel out for cons. It was life changing because I was able to meet so many new people who I could call close friends now and hang out with them outside of cons. It’s a good way to network and just experience new environments and communities.” – Michael, NB

“I’m glad that the last Otakon in Baltimore was my first experience with conventions. I was able to make amazing memories and friendships with individuals with similar interests that extend beyond just that weekend! Otakon Day Zero will forever be one of the most lit events I have ever been to. I look forward to future cons and meeting more people because at the end of the day those connections leave the most lasting impressions.” – Christopher, NB

From my personal experience, the most notable memory I have is of a young cosplayer who happened to be standing by me. We danced a bit to some KPOP choreography, but I didn’t notice how excited she was to feel included until she thanked me for letting her dance with me. It was a small and pleasant reminder of how being yourself around hundreds of strangers can get you noticed.

“Cons are a vacation from reality. Everyone is doing the same thing. There’s judgement, but who cares? Everyone is enjoying what they’re interested in and having fun.” – Michael, NB

PSA for anyone who thinks they have no one to connect with in their fandom: go to a convention. You’ll meet some of the best people in the world.

Buy a Book, You Need It

I revel in the latest age of technology as much as the next young adult.

After a while, I started to forget the novelty of feeling a book in my hands, the scent of the paper coming off the page. Today’s read is whiskey words & a shovel III by r.h. Sin. And I honestly cannot remember the last time I found a book that I connected to as much as I did with this one.

It’s very rare for a writer to find a piece of literature that might as well be theirs. Your words are your own, and there is a distinct quality to every writer that is immensely difficult to replicate. Without the soul of the original writer, it all just becomes words on paper.

I read this book backwards, starting from the middle. With each page I found words that I might have told someone else and words that I would have loved to hear. It’s an incredible ability to read what might as well have been a letter from your past life.

Note to self: thank an author any chance you get. You never know whose life they’re changing.

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Why Everyone is Losing Patience with Love

“A fine mix of unicorn blood, witches brew, and broken hearts.”

There are two priorities Millennials have nowadays. One might lead to the other, but ultimately, we choose one for the time being as we ignore the other.

In my opinion, a majority of young adults within my age bracket can willingly admit to focusing on work as a priority. Due to the competitive nature of the current economy and overall job market, putting all focus on our career is deemed as a completely sensible outlook on life. This general subsection of young adults who put work/education above all other matters have goals to keep, and there is little room to distract.

The second and most cliched priority that anyone would be embarrassed to own up to is love. I think most people secretly wish for it, but, upfront, love is a fairytale – it’s for the foolish, for the weak – and love is the only force in this world that breaks you faster than you can break yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with love. It’s beautiful and perfectly flawed. It generates dreams beyond reality with little fuel required. Scraps of hope bloom into fantasies, music, and the subjectively inevitable romance. No, there is nothing wrong with love.

The flaw and the dilemma lies within the effects of love.

Think of romance like a bottle of liquor, unopened and chilled, a crystal blue glass visage, tightly and securely sealed by a flimsy piece of metal worth no more than two pennies. That safety seal breaks at the first glance, and it might remain as such until you get curious enough to expose that liquor to the air. But who knows how long that will take? Minutes, hours, months – however long until the curiosity  burns through your fingertips.

That first charming sentence – however impactful it may be – is what opens bottles. And as the conversations take place, a shot goes down every time your heart beats a little too fast.

(Everyone holds their alcohol differently – so relate these numbers as you would to your own pace.)

The first shot burns, and the initial panic hits your stomach yet something tells you to continue. Shot number four is when you begin to laugh too easily, and number five is when the room starts to spin. By the eighth, everything slows except for your thoughts.

Even if you choose to stop sipping, the alcohol sits, blending in with your bloodstream until you don’t actually know if it’s still there or not.

Under good circumstances, the high remains until the affection is so secure you don’t need to drink anymore. You stay awake until the blur fades, and you can sleep peacefully knowing all will be well in the morning. This is the route we all wish for from the moment that seal is broken – an infinite inebriation and a sweet surrender to affection.

I don’t think it’s the most common route, and this is probably why the bottles cease to pop or cheaper, more destructive bottles are chosen.

In the more common and most plausible route, you lay down in the midst of the rumbling in your head – that only makes it worse. However it may happen, the bottle might be taken away or you choose to close it on your own with whatever strength you have – you know as you shut your eyes that the hangover is inevitable. The emptiness and the tears, the broken words and the wrong steps – the hangover can last as long as you let it until your body finally goes back to normal.

And suddenly that bottle and its taste is just another memory either to be looked at with fondness or discomfort.

It’s unfortunate that too many people experience the hangover until they can’t bear to even look at another bottle. Not enough dreamers get to live the life-long happily drunken state before being abruptly shaken awake.

The patience for those who made love a priority has worn thin. Eventually, all the dreamers of the world will return to reality.