I love a band who knows me better than I know myself.

I grew up with music whose lyrics I couldn’t relate to.

No, I understood everything. There’s a particular brand of poetry that bands from the early 2000s released, it was this brand that one could easily break apart, identify, but not necessarily relate to.

Perhaps it was my age.

At the time, the bands I loved were averaging around 23 years old, the age I am right now, and suddenly I got to thinking that these songs should be relevant to my life once more. But that’s the trouble when it comes to growing up and finding new music – the music from the past, while it might give you the same feeling, they might never be relatable simply because you relate the sound to a time and place when your timeline had been clean and free of black marks. Music is a form of storytelling, and two lives might never experience the same kind of heartache.

I couldn’t relate no matter how I hard I tried, and the kind of frustration that one emits from not being able to truly comprehend how a musician feels in the midst of a song laced with love and longing – it turns into loneliness.

It was almost like having a friend call out for advice and not being able to give it. These bands were the older siblings who grew up before me, and I couldn’t catch up. They were the big brothers and sisters leaving notes as they depart, “There’s a kind of love out there that might hurt you, but I can’t tell you how.”

I went to all the concerts and drowned in the sounds of the guitars echoing across the venue. My heartbeat matched the tempo of the drums, booming down to my bones forcing me to listen. It was enough to keep me satisfied, never really knowing what was going on in the head of my favorite musician. Songs crying out, “Would you believe me if I said I didn’t need you? Because I wouldn’t believe you if you said the same to me,” I heard them all, and I knew every word. I sang my heart out and dreamed of being on stage, but I ultimately knew that my lack of experience in love would leave that journey with no definite end. I was no artist, but I was going to try because I wanted to understand the emotion behind it all.

So I started writing.

It’s safe to say that the music of my youth gave me the diction I use so effortlessly, and their anthems of heartbreak were my reference. I could pull stories from lines between lyrics, and I was happy to do so. But then I realized, I didn’t know how to write about a lasting happiness – only impending sadness. Maybe that was because this was all I really knew.

I turned to this music when I found love for the first time. This music allowed me to cry thinking that there was a voice in my ear saying, “Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.” I fell on this music believing that they knew me, but really they didn’t. These lyrics weren’t my own, and I couldn’t completely immerse myself into it.

Day6 debuted with the song ‘Congratulations,’ and when it was shown to me, I gave it a listen and knew almost immediately there was something about this band that was different. I felt uneasy. I couldn’t listen without looking down at the floor, but why?

Are you that happy? Your smile goes up to your ears. For me, my heart still hurts every time I breathe,” these were the words I couldn’t bear to hear.

In 2015, I was in a relationship that left me with little air to breathe. The company was toxic, and my friends had all gone. It was like being hung from a post and being told I was his IV drip. If I tried to leave, he wouldn’t have it. I was more than ready to leave, and I had tried. ‘Congratulations’ felt like an angry letter to me from the man I didn’t love anymore, and I wasn’t strong enough to argue back because perhaps it was a truth that I didn’t ever want to hear. I wasn’t in love anymore.

So I stopped listening.

And I stayed.

‘Letting Go’ was released at the tail end of my time with him, and it was a siren call. I had avoided the song at first, truthfully, but when I listened, I felt this burning pain in my chest. This wasn’t the angry love letter like their first song, no, it was exactly what I wished someone would say to me. I wanted this wretched love to let me go so I could breathe freely for the first time in two years. I just wanted to be happy.

It became a love/hate relationship with their music. I loved it but understood it to the point where I thought it had publicised my mistakes and my faults. It was almost as if someone took the poetry I tucked away and wrote a response back just as cleverly worded as my own. This was something I just couldn’t ignore.

I felt my two worlds melting together. The sad love songs with the new culture of Hallyu that I fell into – it was all in this band, and I couldn’t stop listening.

There are certain elements to KPOP that all groups possess along the lines of visuals, musicality, and personality. Unfortunately, a lot of groups are unable to succeed as these elements can only produce so much original content until anything new automatically falls into the trend and overlooked.

Day6 wore the aspects of music that I thought had been long gone. The music of that shaped me had grown into something unfamiliar, and here they were, embodying what I thought was lost right when I needed it most.

With the release of ‘Moonrise’ around the corner, I found myself completely supporting this band just as I had with the bands I loved before them.

When you find a group who narrates your mind when no one else can, expect them to do great things. Find comfort in them because, without needing to announce it or hold your hand, they are your friends who speak louder than you are able to. These are the friends who remind you, “I’ve been there, too.”

I hope you’ll stay beside them.

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To Explore is to Experience

Every time I leave a place, old or new, the part of me that I leave behind gets bigger and bigger until I find myself scattered across the world, trying to get back until I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen. That’s the thing with vacations – they will forever be a moment that passes, a temporary hiccup in your life when a blank slate is placed in front of you and you’re free to paint whatever you want. When I was in Korea, that part of me stayed at our small Airbnb in Hongdae, ready to run downstairs to the 7eleven for a midnight snack and banana milk.

Los Angeles is not what you expect. Coming from the east coast where monotony is either the norm or an anomaly, the only thing I had to compare was what I had seen in movies, pictures, or just by word of mouth. Buildings are spaced further apart than what I was used to, and I found myself using public transportation for nearly any place I needed to go to. People stare and speak as you walk by without a second thought, and it’s almost as if tourists are so expected that it’s just become part of the norm. There were too many things that I needed to try that I felt I needed to be there at least a month before I could truly experience everything I needed to.

I never considered Los Angeles a place that I wanted to stay. The traffic is terrible, and I always seem to lose my sense of direction. The streets are dirty, and it just doesn’t feel like a place I could call home.

So what made this time around so different than the last?

The people – the ones I’d come across by chance and found myself trusting after only moments.

The experience – the nights I’d spent thinking that another day had gone by yet there was nothing for me to worry about.

The way that I felt like – for the first time – that I belonged here. It felt like I was breathing familiar air. I had just been placed into a space that welcomed me, and I was ready to take on whatever came first.

Third time’s the charm, they say, and that may be the case – because here’s that feeling again. The feeling that I’m just in a period of wandering, waiting until I can stay and never grow tired of the things I see outside my window.

I was told once that, while soulmates exist, so do soul cities. Your soul city is where your soulmate is, but the fact that a soulmate isn’t always a lover seems to pass people by. Your soulmates are the ones who you are meant to come across, those who enter your life and change it for the better. I came across more members of my soul group during this trip, and that made my time there so much more rewarding.

From this I learned to make friends wherever you go.

Those who are the most unassuming can be the people who add a little piece of ink to the tattoo underneath your memories, spaces in your being that are reserved for certain people that will never fade.

I was all too lucky to come across the people who I’d love to keep with me until I get where I’m supposed to – no matter where that may be. The soundtrack of my life journey picked up in tempo until the background noise became a symphony, and it was an orchestra they made up around me. The laughter and the stories were the only evidence I needed of their existence, and the pictures were simply surplus.

You never truly intend to make friends, but when you do, you find it difficult to imagine how you used to live prior to their arrival. Making friends, while it is something you’re supposed to have picked up in elementary school becomes increasingly difficult as you get older. After friends coming and going, the amount of trust you can hand out dwindles. Stumbling upon others who don’t make you sacrifice any of your pride for the sake of creating trust are the ones who should say – and they are the ones who will stay.

I left LA knowing I’d be back.

From the east coast to the west with love.

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.

“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.

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.

Friends Today, Gone Tomorrow

There’s a certain stigma that changes as time goes on regarding who you’re friends with.

The friends you make in college are your friends for life.

Upon hearing something like this, you find your freshman year niche. This is your “posse.” This is the group of friends who you talk to everyday. If you meet up with one, eventually you’re all meeting up. No one is out of the loop: you go to parties together, the gossip you hear is the gossip they hear, and this is where you belong.

The friends you make in your freshman year are not the friends you’ll have in senior year.

Suddenly, things have changed. A year has gone by, and you’ve spoken to one maybe last week, the other you haven’t seen since last year, and the other happily has a boyfriend, one that you only know of through the transparency of social media. Next thing you know, your parents are asking:

“How is he doing? Have his grades gotten better?”

And honestly, the only thing you can think to say instead of lying might sound something like this:

“I wouldn’t know.”

It’s difficult to say, but the pieces of advice we hear about the friends we make is probably why Millennials are so terrified of losing their friends. They are told that now is the time when you make your life-long friends, but when those supposed life-long connections start to weather down until you can’t even remember the last time you have spoken to someone in person, that’s when the fear sets in.

Maybe it’s wrong to say things like that – things that put a time and a place to a time-subjective part of a life. I made new friends this past weekend. I made new friends last year. It really is inevitable to feel afraid to lose someone.

I learned this the hard way, but friends will and should always be at the top of your priority. I distinctly remember being told by a (now) stranger:

“I should be at the top of your priorities.

First is your parents,

Then me,

Then your friends.”

And for a moment, I thought about it. I took the next hour of silence without a reply to let his sentiment sink in because deep down, whether I verbally admitted it or not… That could not be any more untrue.

For starters, family always comes first, but family is on a completely different priority list. That list shouldn’t even include your lovers, your friends, or any other obligation. Family is family. Granted, a good portion of the world has completely forgotten the rest of the statement “Blood is thicker than water,” but still.

Most importantly, let me be clear about this.

Romance is subjective.

Romance fades.

Romantic feelings subside until you’re left being strangers once more. There are two paths for relationships:  either you get married or you break up, and that is a cold bitter truth, but it is – in fact – the truth.

But friendship is not static. I could go an entire year without talking to my best friend from tenth grade, but when I call upon her with tears because of whatever problem I have, she is there to listen, and it’s almost as if that time apart didn’t even exist.

I can make mistakes, and she’ll still be there. If I make a mistake with a lover, he could be gone tomorrow. This all brings me back to what I meant to say:

The fear of losing a friend is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that the loss itself is inevitable.

Have faith in the real ties that bind.

Tell your friends I said hello.

 

Being Friends with a Beauty Blogger

We’ve all seen them. Whether you follow their full posts online or rapidly hit the ‘like’ button when their faces appear on your Instagram feed, beauty bloggers are taking over the fashion scene, each with their own unique sense of style and presence. There’s a mild sense of intimidation when you see that ‘k’ next to their follower count, and it plants the idea in your head.

“Will my following ever be that big?”

Honestly? It’s difficult. However, I’ve learned so much from befriending a beauty blogger. Of course, when I met her, she wasn’t nearly as famous as she is now, and her follower count grows by the day.

The truth behind it all is that beauty bloggers are human beings just like anyone else. When you’re friends, you see that past the flawless photos and the thousands of likes, they are – to the core – normal people with normal problems.

They’ve just learned to hide it so much better than the average blogger.

Now, becoming friends with a beauty blogger is like being friends with anyone else, and I think this is something commonly misconstrued by anyone who thinks that just because they’ve received a reply from someone with more than 100 followers, they’re suddenly besties. No, it never works out this way. Remember, fame is a blessing and a curse. Using their friendship to fund your own goals is just being selfish.

Don’t ask for favors.

Don’t spread their personal stories.

Don’t fight their battles.

The best route to go? Just be a friend. Be there when they need you. Be there when they need to rant about today’s photoshoot or when they realize this model is a total jerk because believe it or not – they’re telling you because they trust you, not because they need the attention.

Shouldn’t that be the obvious part?

I’ve learned so many rewarding things from my friend. She’s a sweet, honest girl with normal college problems like anyone else. She’s like my little sister, and I trust her with things I don’t normally trust other people with. At the end of the day, I love that we’re comfortable enough with each other to get mad and tell the truth without the fear of losing that bond.

So the moral of this post? A famous friend is still a friend.

And don’t think any differently.

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