I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to restart my blog over the years. Every time I experience a wave of extreme self improvement, I think, this is it. This is the moment I’m finally going to launch an online journal of my prime introspective musings and attain a higher level of self-understanding through my love of oversharing everything about myself on the Internet.
So what’s the impetus this time around? I recently graduated from college, which is pretty crazy. Apart from now being the owner of a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (lol), I have also been released into the world to presumably work until I retire. This summer is the last stretch of freedom I have before adult life really, really begins. And so I thought to myself that I really need to make the most of it.
On the offhand that you are reading this blog and don’t know me irl, here’s some gratuitous graduation photoshoot pictures. Photo credits go to the amazing Tiff Chang!
I thought I was going to travel extensively this summer, as post-grads are wont to do, but those plans never materialized, so here I am, back home in Michigan instead. At first I was a bit bummed. But then I figured I had probably done enough traveling for the first half of 2019 anyway, having been to Japan, Italy, Canada, and recently Hawaii. Now, my plan is to take a few small trips this summer instead to visit friends in Cincinnati and Chicago, and maybe a drive up north with family. Then, at some point between late July and mid August, I will move to New York City.
I’ve been back in my nice big house in Greater Detroit since last week, but it’s funny to think that most of my life, I hated being here. I equated “home” with no mobility, no freedom, no sense of self, and overall just a place where nothing ever happened. As someone who craved independence and spent a good chunk of her childhood living in one of the biggest metropolises in Asia, I reveled in going to college in a big city like Philadelphia and interning in the crazy beehive that is New York. I also honestly had a rough time in high school academically and personally, so being back reminds me of that beaten-down, hopeless, angsty teen I once was.
Now, though, I realize that I don’t want that to be my permanent impression of home. Instead of instinctively cringing away from it, I feel that being back here this summer in the ‘Hills is exactly what I needed. I need to sit here in the stillness, for once, and spend time with my past selves before I jump into the rest of my life as a
completely mostly independent adult. Call it psychobabble, or maybe my psychology minor, but I truly believe that most people could benefit from an unpacking of their childhoods. Sometimes we’re so busy rushing forward with pre-determined GPS directions for our lives that we forget to stop and see whether the destination that’s been programmed in is actually one that we want, or whether our engine is in good enough shape (had to throw in an auto metaphor for Detroit there).
At 21, I definitely do not know fully who I am yet. I think I am at maybe 65% right now (and this is a pretty generous estimate, because I consider myself to be prettyyyy introspective). I doubt it’s something I’ll be able to unravel in a week, or a summer, or maybe ever, but starting from the beginning seems as good a plan as any.
So while I’m out here poring over my elementary school diaries and chewing on the Big Questions (Where do I see myself in 10 years? When do I want to get married and do I want kids? What does professional fulfillment mean to me?), I don’t want to just melt into an unproductive lump. This is why I have a couple of measurable goals I want to achieve this summer too. They include:
- Working out (aka decreasing my mile time, increasing my total mile time at the gym, doing more push-ups, and planking for longer). I have specific numbers but I do not want to embarrass myself here. I also plan on making use of the heavy bag stand sitting in the basement. The reason for all this is pretty self-explanatory. Sure, living longer is nice, but mostly I just want to look hot, given the staggering premium our society places on young women and their outer appearance. No, but for real, I am trying to grow into the mindset each day of just being damn grateful for what I was born with. I have limbs that get me to the tops of mountains and across towns, and a heart that can pump a lot of blood very fast. It’s taken some eye-opening over time to realize how silly it would be to let body dysmorphia take away the best and most active years of my life, when some people truly would give anything to have my good health. Thus, my time at the gym is going to be spent building mental fortitude, if anything, and celebrating what my body can do. Oh, and endorphins. All of the endorphins.
- Reading books. I was going to make it a point to read multiple of them, but then I recently stumbled across a thick tome that had once been assigned to me as an 8th grade summer camp reading: the hefty, 800-page The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate. It is actually this anthology that turned me into an Orwell fanatic, but it occurred to me that I had never actually read most of the other essays in it. I just got through the introduction yesterday, and I have to say, I am very impressed. Erudite yet digestible. I think I have a lot to gain by polishing this book off over the summer, and it will probably make me a better writer. If I give myself a month, that’s roughly 28 pages a day, which is very realistic and quite doable for even the densest of prose.
- Getting my driver’s license. I almost didn’t put this one up, because at this point, I have developed a sort of PTSD regarding driving. I mean, I really don’t want to play into the stereotypes here, but I think at this age and after two spectacular fails, one could probably consider me…a less-than-stellar driver. Nonetheless, I realize that there’s no logical reason why I cannot get my license if pretty much every human being is able to, and that it’s probably all just a matter of practice and confidence. This summer is truly my last ditch shot at obtaining that shiny rectangle of plastic that would conveniently serve as proof of my identity rather than having to whip out my passport at every bar I go to, and I actually have the time this time, so I need to go for it. Honestly, if I achieve nothing else this summer except this, I’d still be stoked.
- Writing some stuff. To me–contradictory as it may sound, because it is one of the things that brings me the most joy in this world–no beast is scarier than writing. Oh, the procrastination! The fear! The perfectionism that stops me from stringing together a simple sentence, even as my thoughts are running a million miles a minute! Anyway, I’ll just spit it out. It’s been a little over a year now that I’ve been writing for Forbes, which is just crazy. It’s changed my life in so many ways and it still gives me goosebumps every time I talk to a (intimidating, much older, much smarter) source. However, I’m far from satisfied. I still have many ambitions waiting in the wings, and I doubt I’ll have a lot of time for that once I’m working full-time in consulting. These include: writing more hard-hitting stories, more in-depth think pieces, stories outside of real estate/tech, and writing about travel. I dearly want to diversify my portfolio and get published in some of my dream outlets.What’s so scary, though, is that I have no idea how–and that’s why this goal is the vaguest, because I literally don’t know anything about anything still. Getting started in freelance journalism is literally just throwing a thousand things at the wall and seeing what sticks. I hate it, but I love it, because nothing else has taught me the importance of the hustle and the self-starter than this profession. As my phone lock screen says these days, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” And we don’t have time to waste sitting around, because life will pass you by if you give it the slightest chance.
I think these intentions are satisfactory enough for now for me to have a very productive yet refreshing summer. I will check in sporadically to update this little corner of the Internet on my progress, as well as any other mini-projects I may get up to (learning how to cook a few more complex Chinese dishes from my mom, playing around on iPad ProCreate, maybe purchasing a DSLR???). Oh yeah, and obviously the pertinent offshoot of the last goal would be to blog. Like, actually blog this time.
Historically, I have not been successful, but you never know–this time could be it.