Six minutes ago I was supposed to be out on my flight from Los Angeles to Boston, returning a little later from my Thanksgiving break than everyone else due to the simple fact that flights were cheaper today rather than last Sunday.
I am, unfortunately, not on that flight because it was delayed by 6 hours and am instead sitting on my couch, watching the time tick by, and reflecting.
Airports have not treated me very kindly this past year. Every time I’ve been at an airport, it was either to say hello to the boy I thought was the love of my life, or goodbye to the boy I thought was the love of my life.
I’ve spent these past few days revisiting old places I used to frequent a lot back when I was in high school. The Source in Buena Park, Baekjeong on Beach Blvd, my aunt’s house in Cerritos. Every place I went, everything felt a little bit off.
I don’t like being back in California because every memory here is now slightly tainted. Bittersweet. I look around in the places I used to call home and they feel like hollow shells with memories echoed in its crevices, both good and bad. I walk by the food court in The Source and only see shadows of past selves — laughing with my friends who are no longer my friends, holding hands with a boy no longer in my life, crying as I confront the people who hurt me most. I am not fond of these echoes.
And I think it’s for these reasons that I’ve grown to dislike my time in California. Only a little bit ago I had come home for Columbus day weekend and everything was fine. In fact, I wanted to stay.
Now, MIT represents something a lot more pure. It’s a fresh start for me.
I recently went through the process of cleaning out all of my social media, archiving posts from the past two years. I don’t know if it was torture or therapy to have to relive every single post, every moment overshared. From an initial breakup of two boyfriends ago, to falling in love with the second boyfriend, to falling out love again. From anxiously choosing junior year classes, to summer internships, to college applications, to my MIT acceptance, and to now. I see names of people who are no longer here, whose voices and personalities and faces have started to erode with the passing of time and I am afraid that there will come a day where I don’t remember her name anymore. And that will be the biggest injustice to her legacy yet.
I’ve been going through this series of remembering and forgetting, remembering and forgetting, curating these boxes of memories to throw and memories to keep. I sometimes ask myself if I’d ever want to have my Clementine moment, erasing every moment that brings me pain.
But I have to remind myself that it’s these very moments that helped shape me into the person I’ve become.
I say it all the time and I will continue to say it again but MIT has truly, truly changed my life in these few months. I’ve been able to become more vulnerable and affectionate, loving and open, bold and daring. At the end of my social media cleanse, I wrote a post to document everything I’ve learned in life this past semester.
I know this is a bit personal for the MIT blogs, but also I think it’s a very…important part to mention for the college experience. When I walked into MIT, 5 out of the 8 people in our friend group were in long distance relationships, myself included. By the middle of November, that number dropped to 2.
Being single for the first time in a year and a half is incredibly jarring. I have no one to send good morning and good night texts to, no one to send stupid, trivial updates to, no one to call on Discord and watch Adventure Time with. It has been a difficult adjustment and I can’t say I’ve been handling it well, but I know I made the best decision for me.
Throughout my high school career, I clung onto my romantic relationship because I felt very isolated at school. It was there for me and grounded me in some of the worst times of my life and some of the best times of my life.
Coming to college, I realized I no longer needed to be grounded, that I had found a group of my own to call home and no longer needed the protection that I found in my relationship, and I made the ultimate decision to utilize the time in college to focus and explore a new life of independence.
I cried for the very first time over this breakup a month after it happened, proving to me that the weird, strange healing process is very, very different for every person and every relationship. But I am happy I cried because that means things are finally starting to process.
I’ve been kind of neglecting myself in hopes of caring for others. Imagine a bird repeatedly flying into a cactus because it wants to hug it. That’s me. I’m the bird.
After I told my mom I hated being back home, she told me, “That’s good. That means you’re no longer needy for home. But it’s funny cause that means you’re needy for your friends now.”
It is…absolutely known to me that I am, in fact, a very needy, emotional being. If you couldn’t tell that from my posts, you should probably go back and reread them. They are volatile and full of mush. But I am volatile and full of mush, so it makes sense that my posts are, too.
I’ve been trying to find comfort in just being. It seems that for these past years, I’ve always had someone to cling on to and someone to turn to always. Now, I’m kind of trying to realize that I don’t need outside validation in order to feel good about myself. It’s a process. I am…definitely still the attention-seeking mess I’ve always been, but there is slow improvement. Less ‘message your ex at 2am’s, less ‘send this risky text to this person when you know it won’t work out’, less ‘stay up and overthink this one event that happened 4 years ago.’ It’s a process.
I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve struggled a lot with body image and eating disorders. I have not mentioned that I’ve qualified for the Miss Massachusetts Teen Pageant award taking place this January. I am now mentioning that unsurprisingly my participation in this pageant has brought back some of those demons.
But, I’m proud of myself because while there have been some sneaking thoughts creeping back, I’ve been able to handle them pretty well.
I returned back home for Thanksgiving and absolutely indulged myself in whatever food I wanted. Absolutely guilt free. I have not been to the gym since last Wednesday. I am going to go to the gym tomorrow after my midterm and classes. I am also going to start cooking again. (I have not cooked since the breakup and have been subsisting off of yogurt and granola for breakfast daily, Sate for lunch, and honestly forgetting to eat dinner.) Furthermore, I am going to eat three meals a day and Love Myself. Take that, eating disorders.
I’m considering doing keto, realized my blood pressure’s kind of fucked and it’s not a good idea to go on a high fat high protein diet when your blood pressure is fucked, and switched it instead to low carb. I am sad because my favorite foods include pasta, bread, and rice. Unfortunate.
Overall, pretty pleased with how my mental has been handling my physical health. I said this in the blogger slack but just so everyone knows: I am terrified of the gym. I do not deadlift properly. I am currently perhaps on the search for a personal trainer when I get back home. Despite all these things, I’ve been going to the gym four times a week during my time at MIT. Hoping to make that six times a week but baby steps, please, baby steps.
When writing my other post “Be Social”, I actually made a really big realization that I’m uncomfortable in spaces with primarily East Asian women and feel very inferior/low in these spaces. I wanted to join ADT and do formal recruitment for some primarily Asian sororities earlier in the fall, but felt I wasn’t “Asian enough” to join it, not because of their advertising, but more of because of this strange, internalized self-hatred that’s managed to manifest.
Growing up Filipino, I’ve always noticed how we are not exactly the poster children for Asia. This was also mentioned in one of posts regarding my MIT essay revisions. I grew up being told that the Philippines was the mutt of Asia, that we were some fucked up hybrid of past colonizers and forced to scramble around, grabbing at colonial identities like straws in order to try and make something of our own. So, yeah, obviously I’m still pretty fucked up about it. I didn’t believe I was pretty for about 15 years of my life because I wasn’t [insert literally any East Asian country here]. I wanted to change my race so badly, wanted to hear a different language around the house, wanted to be recognized and validated by the public eye.
I love my identity, I love my heritage, I love being Filipino. But it gets hard sometimes when I’m surrounded by pretty pale skinny Asian girls and I remember that I will never look like them.
Next semester/next year, though, I plan to try and overcome these fears. To make space in places where I feel there is no space.
Kind of twiddling with the idea of going back to therapy again. I’ve been going on and off since the fourth grade. My last appointment was right before I left for August orientation.
Did some self care over Thanksgiving break by a) not touching any work at all except for maybe a couple hours at a Starbucks as I cried over my 8.01L prepset and b) only listening to BTS for the past 4 days. Incredibly therapeutic. Please go watch their MMA performance, it is the best kpop performance of 2019 and an incredible way to close out the decade.
Speaking of lingering trauma at the places that used to mean the most to me in high school, I visited my old high school again!
[RECORD SCRATCH NOISES TO INDICATE A BREAK IN THE FOURTH WALL OF THIS POST: Sorry, god, the tone of this post changed so much. I’ve been writing for the past 50 minutes straight, okay, emotions change. I started this post off teary eyed and we really were not vibing but now I’ve kind of sat back and am very pleased with how this post is going. It’s so therapeutic to write this. I love oversharing on the Internet. I can’t believe I have a job where I can cry publicly on the front page of a globally renowned institution. I love MIT. MIT is great, kids. You get to do shit like this. Sorry, moving on.]
It was both uncomfortable and rewarding to visit my old high school again. The best parts of high school were my teachers and few close friends and maybe Organic Chemistry and Engineering102. The worst part of high school was everything else.
But going back to high school and seeing how far I’d come was incredibly validating to me and made me appreciate college even more. In December 2018, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to live to see the end of senior year. Now, I’m crying in my California home because I’m so excited to go home and hello crabmeats if you're reading this i love you. thank you. I made sure to fill my teachers in on everything — my classes, MIT admissions blogging, my dorm, my friends, my social life. Everything. And as I walked them through it, I couldn’t help but smile to myself because I was so genuinely happy about where I was in life and where I’m headed.
I was also happy I was able to talk to my friends who are currently undergoing the very stressful, difficult process of being a high school senior. College application season is one of the worst times in anyone’s life. But also, senior year is really when you realize your fake and real friends. And it’s very, very difficult to have to go through friend drama alongside college applications. I am wishing all the love and support to all of my high school seniors out there.
MIT’s kind of fucking amazing. The classes are hard, but fulfilling. The people are incredibly unique and supportive. The faculty are passionate and kind and helpful. There is an insane amount of opportunities here that I never thought I’d ever get to explore or do. I’ve tried so many new things, met so many people, and learned so much academically and emotionally that I am eternally grateful for this first semester at MIT.
PNR is coming to a close and I am very nervous to receive actual grades. But I am excited for my classes and excited to spend another semester with my friends and family at MIT.
I am proud of the person I am now and the person I am becoming. And I look forward to seeing where these upcoming months bring me next.
- hello crabmeats if you're reading this i love you. thank you. back to text ↑