“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.

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.

What It’s Like to be the Friendly Girl

Whenever I meet knew people, there’s a reasonable amount of eye contact. I shake their hand and introduce myself with a smile, making sure they know that it really is a pleasure to meet them. I’m here to be a new friend, and if you’d let me, I would like us to eventually trust each other.

“Girls don’t usually introduce themselves.”

I was told this once, and I honestly wondered if it was really that weird that I introduced myself.

“It’s not weird. It makes you stand out.”

But I’m not trying to. I want to be friendly; I want to make a good impression. I don’t want someone new to think that I’m stand-off-ish or cold.

“You friendzoned him.”

How… How can I friendzone someone when no romantic advance was ever assumed or hinted at? I didn’t do anything. I treat him like everyone else.

“That’s how you friendzoned him. You made him feel special, then he saw that was how you act with every guy you know.”

PAUSE.

See? This is what it is to be the friendly girl. I can’t shake one guy’s hand without him thinking I’m interested, and in addition to that, I can’t shake a second guy’s hand without the first one thinking that, no, I’m interested in the latter. Are manners that uncommon nowadays that this is the kind of thinking that most people adapt? Wow, she’s talking to me and seems genuinely interested in what I have to say, so maybe she likes me.

There’s fault on both sides of thinking. Just because I want to hear what you have to say doesn’t mean that I look at you romantically. I have my own opinions, and I want to hear yours because maybe I’m talking to a kindred spirit who prefers dogs to cats. And on the other side, what makes you so sure I’m not interested after seeing me equally engaged in a conversation with someone else?

It seems like it’s so rare to find the common courtesy society used to have. It used to be normal for anyone to shake someone else’s hand and not get the wrong idea. Be classy, be confident, be welcoming to the world – but now that means the same thing as being flirtatious.

What’s your opinion on being the nice girl/guy?

 

Quality Time with Myself

When was the last time you spent the day alone?

Not those days that are spent all day in bed, watching movies, and stuffing your face with whatever snack is closest to your bed. I mean, when was the last time you went out and enjoyed the day on your own without expecting any company? I confess, I don’t do it that often, but now I see that it’s kind of a necessity. This is the day you use to see that you really don’t need anyone to be around to enjoy the time you have.

This is one of my two days off during the week. I don’t often have the weekends off because of retail, but after a while I got used to it. All of my close friends have their own schedules whether it involves previously made plans or class. And for a while, I spent days like this in bed, convinced that I needed more sleep.

But is that the truth?

I don’t really think so. No matter how much time I spend in bed, it will never be enough to be enthusiastic about work

Today, I used my time to go out. I grabbed my laptop, my headphones, and bought a caramel macchiato with a toasted croissant, and I sat at an empty table for two at the mall. It isn’t the prettiest of days, but I was breathing in fresh air. I was getting work done after procrastinating, and I was enjoying my music while looking at a place that wasn’t my bedroom. I don’t feel lonely, and I don’t feel like inviting anyone to join me because if I did, then the self-made white noise would be disrupted and the entire day would change.

During this quality time with myself, I realized that there’s always enough time in the day for me to appreciate my time with me – without sharing it with anyone else.

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.