It’s Not Just About Love

Dear Readers,

It has been a while since I have last posted as I have been busy with finishing my first year of university due to my sick leave and in the process of putting together/writing for my book.

Today I wanted to post a blog about a very important lesson I have learned through hindsight and burnout.

Since we all are shaped by our communities, our society, the time and place we live in, and how we are brought up… it isn’t too big of a mystery that a lot of my attitudes and beliefs come from things I’ve learned from my parents.

As an obedient kid growing up, I still think I am for the most part, I feared consequences. I did things not fully controlled by fear, but it was what pushed me to complete homework or become disciplined to practice piano and clean the house when my friends were playing outside. I was scared of the “what ifs.” So I always gave my 110% in the things I knew that would matter in the future (academics, work, extracurriculars) due to a fear that I would regret not working hard when I look back on it. It still plagues me today. I think one of my greatest fears is regret. But the ironic reality is that like most people I don’t usually regret anything that I’ve done, it’s mostly what I did not do.

For the most part, I did what my parents, teachers, and society expected me to do. And I can say that I did decent or above average in most of it. I was lucky though. From a young age, I was conditioned to do things I don’t like to do (be a mom to my sister, cook, clean, etc). I also loved to read which inevitably helped me a lot in school. I had the skill of loving to do things that I didn’t like, and genuinely loving things that I did like (volunteering, doing internships, studying for school to get good grades).

So, life worked for me in the sense that I knew what I wanted, loved what I did, and I could see myself and fulfill that potential I put forth for myself. I lived by “work hard, chase dreams,” with the naive sense that if I just loved something and worked hard enough, that I would achieve all my dreams.

That happened for most of my life. I was able to achieve all but one of my dreams that I had set forth from the age of seven to the age of seventeen (hint: if you know me well and follow my blogs, you might figure it out)! In a decade of time, I was successful in terms that I  had achieved my goals and grown as a person.

I never knew what it was like to be thrown on a detour. Time and time again, these random lung collapses that doctor’s didn’t know why happened, kept happening to me. Despite, sleeping, eating, and exercising to maintain a healthy body. The unexpected propelled me into a completely new journey I did not want to go on. For the first time, I had to make decisions in my life that I could not comprehend or want to comprehend. I had to make decisions that were stunted by the limitations of my health; things I did not choose or want.

It finally occurred to me the huge amount of privilege I had as a healthy teenager. I could pursue whatever I wanted without too much thought. Even though I am still healthy, what has happened has placed me in an area where I cannot pursue just what I want anymore.

Over 18 years ago, my parents arrived in Canada leaving their comfortable and successful lives back in China with the hopes of giving me a better future. My dad had one year left in his schooling for a PhD (Doctorate in Physics) when the visa came through. Due to other family circumstances, my parents both decided that the best time to leave would be 1998. In 1999, they brought me over to Canada and they started their lives again. They worked labour extensive jobs: my dad lifting logs in factories and working the night shift at a gas store while redoing his degree while my mom washed floors in restaurants. You see, my dad loves physics. But he gave up that dream of his to pursue physics in Canada because he knew he would be unable to pursue higher degree jobs (with Canada not recognizing his degrees from China). He started over with studying Computer Science and now works as a Computer Scientist but he doesn’t love it. He goes in day in and day out to support his family.

When I think about that, I not only understand the sacrifice my parent’s made for me to access a better future, but I also understand that sometimes having an undeniable love for something is not enough. Circumstances will prevent you from achieving your dreams. And even though it’s never too late to achieve your dreams, sometimes timing just really sucks and some people just don’t have the privilege of taking risks to get to their unfilled potential.

I was super idealistic before the fifth collapse. I planned everything out, knew exactly where I was going and what kind of person I wanted to be. Right now, I’m just treading between the person I am and who I want to be with no sense of direction. My life has altered in ways that are permanent and unchangeable and I’m still trying to swim in a sort of direction. But I’m still treading aimlessly and for the first time in my life, I’m so clueless about my future and it’s so scary. I’ve realized that perhaps love for something isn’t enough. It’s also about your circumstances and so with that being said all I know is that I want to empower people so that they have the privilege of achieving their dreams and unfilled potential. So it’s not just the 1% getting richer and more successful. So it’s not just the construction of society benefiting the super privileged of able bodied, white, male, heterosexual, and the list goes on. As Mark Zuckerburg said, it’s not enough for us to find our own purpose, our generation needs to create purpose and provide opportunities for EVERYONE.

For the first time in my life now, I’m understanding what it’s like to not be able to pursue what I love. The first time that I need to suck it up and do what I need to do, whether I like it or not. It definitely wasn’t anything what I wanted but it’s giving me the experience that life goes to keep moving on and I can’t let it pass me by.

So I’m trekking on, launching myself into a completely new career path and a new school. I am so scared and I am so sad about my previous dreams, but life has changed me and I have changed. The world around me might still be the same in certain ways, but I can’t live the life I previously wanted to have and that’s okay. It’s all just a learning process

 

xx Cecilia

Stay Determined

Hey everyone,

It’s definitely been a while since my last post and I promise that I haven’t forgotten our journey together.

 

I’ve currently been contemplating, reading, doing research, and writing for a book I have always wanted to write. While pursuing that dream of mine, I realized that I’ve also been ignorant for your journeys. If you’re working towards a goal of yours or if you haven’t found the courage yet to take that step, know that it’s super hard. Life is generally quite difficult. In this way, I’ve learned to not just try and understand others but to actually understand them. I’ve done this by fully putting away my personal biases and judgements or the hurt I might have felt towards certain actions. Then I try to piece together what caused them to do what they are doing. I guess what I’m saying is that even though difficulties cannot excuse certain behaviours, it’s the least we can do to understanding others and the difficult lives that we do not know around us.

On this tangent from hard work, this is a small excerpt of the book I’m working on and it’s actually a memoir of my personal experiences, my new insights, and how I tackle with privilege as I go about aspiring to leave a positive change in this world.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”-The Great Gatsby

I was really bitter to accept and let go of things that meant very much to me these past few months. Super challenging and I must admit that I felt disappointment when I really counted on some people to be there for me. But Gatsby’s quote really rings true. Honestly, I was mad that I lost things that I couldn’t get back and in the process of self pity, I neglected people who might really need someone to ask if they’re okay. I was so caught up with myself that I didn’t bother to look around me. Obviously it’s easier said then done to count your blessings in times of difficulty. I found it hard to praise God. But now as I’ve come out of a difficult time, I haven’t stopped counting my blessings. Breathing without pain, getting out of bed without difficulty, having eyes to see the weather, and onwards. Even having an appetite and going to the washroom yourself is a tremendous blessing. If you’re struggling or anything, I know that feeling. It’s something that’s continually plunging within your being and you feel like you’re gasping for relief and for air. Obviously I don’t know what you’re going through, but I definitely mean it if you need someone to listen. I will listen and I will be there. You matter and sometimes the people around you will be busy but there are others who will step up.
*this is facebook and super informal but i can’t stress it enough, there’s bound to be someone out there among my circle of friends who is struggling so please reach out.

On another note, if you have the capability to chase your dreams then chase them as hard as you can. Three years ago, living beside young children with terminal illnesses, I realized that without a doubt I wanted to live and pursue my passions and extend a legacy for people who can’t chase their dreams.

If you have a healthy body, relish in that beautiful blessing. And don’t ever give up chasing that dream, remember that yes hard work does not = success but at least you have that opportunity to try.

This past week, I’ve connected with many people who went through what I went through and like me they had to give up their dreams of becoming a doctor, being in the army, or becoming a pilot. Sometimes success in a certain area does not soley depend on hard work, it can come from luck too. So if you have the luck within your favour, play as hard as you can.

 

Refer to J.K. Rowling’s best advice for anyone determined to succeed if you are looking for extra inspiration:)

12 Things To Give Up If You Want To Transform Your Life

The process of transformation is a difficult one.

“There’s no need to apologize all the time. Be confident and know that you have value to share.

This man had a lot of value, yet he was giving it away for free by thinking that he didn’t deserve to have people respond to him. Only apologize if you have done something wrong.”

Source: 12 Things To Give Up If You Want To Transform Your Life

Understanding Judgement

For as long as I could remember, as a child I was a clean slate. I saw people by their smiles, their reactions to the world around them. But throughout the tail end of elementary as I transitioned to a wealthier part of town, I began to be teased for the lack of branding on my clothes. I began to feel less worthy and could understand that there was something like class that distinguished me from my peers. Before, people were either nice or rude and I had very few lenses with which to view people. However with time and more knowledge, the characteristics of others were always in my face. More specifically physical characteristics screamed at me.

Being subjected to bullying and cyber bullying, I was called fat, really fat, ugly, worthless, friendless, and other personal attacks. I couldn’t stop seeing myself as a standard or a ruler with which I used to measure others. Every time I went about in my daily life, I was first consumed by fear. Were those eyes taking in how ugly I looked? Were those lips smirking at my physical insecurities? Were those people judging me of not being worthy of their time or attention? And so I went about my day without making eye contact, in fear of really being able to see into their soul that was judging me. At the same time, I felt terrible but when I did see someone I couldn’t help but automatically compare themselves with me. Time does heal all wounds but in their place are scars. Those scars are the remnants of judgement that still fleets through me sometimes. The voices are a lot smaller and more silent these days but I’m not proud that they still occur. Perhaps that’s why I was so scared before… that no matter what I did, people would be looking, judging, and calculating. I realized that even though I strive to be a good person, I still judge. No matter how hard I try to push it out, I still do. And from then on I realized I couldn’t change people from judging me or me from judging others. I could only change my reactions towards their judgement and myself, work on not judging others before I get to know who they are.

If someone judges you without getting to know your story or who you are, then they don’t deserve to be worthy or your time or affection. And if I don’t take the time to get to know someone without formulating thoughts then I’m a hypocrite.

Going through some months in university was one of the greatest experiences for me. I got to learn mind shattering things but most importantly, I got to understand what it’s like to be open minded and understanding. I used to throw around “walk in somebody else’s shoes” without knowing what it really meant. But from meeting people from all around the world at university and talking to people of different ages from the city, I have been introduced to so many different views that have sprouted from unique people and backgrounds. Now, instead of getting angry when someone is rude to me, I think of why they might be feeling that way. Maybe they’ve had a long day or they’re physically/emotionally drained. Or when someone angrily denounces my faith, I realize that they were brought up with certain beliefs and values. I look past the what people do and instead dive into the why they do the things they do. Focusing on the “why” can bridge the divide by connecting us through our actions and thoughts. I can’t expect people to behave the way I do because they’re not me! They have completely different thought process, have gone through completely different experiences, and were brought up by completely different people.

 

Understanding Escape

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while hasn’t it? These past few months have been so incredibly difficult for me; A lot more difficult then I had thought it would be. Having my lung collapse for the fifth time without any medical explanations or possible reasoning from doctor’s, my family and I have been muddled by anxiety and fear. Anxiety each day of when it will happen again and fear for the inevitable.

These past weeks, I’ve been doing a lot better and feeling a lot more normal. It will take another month before I can go back to my complete routine and despite feeling very disappointed for all the lost opportunities, I am working to be grateful for all that I have.

I must admit that it was so easy to be caught up in my hurt and a cycle of self pity each day I woke up. As my eyes would open, I would take a very long time before I got the courage to try to get up because of the pain that would seize me if I did. Each thing I did involved breathing or moving my intercostal muscles that had been punctured around eleven times. Even now, I get extremely scared of the pain when I sneeze or yawn. Life is different again and I know all it takes is acceptance to move on.

This post is a beginning of a series I’m hoping to explore: Understanding ___. I hope to describe negative emotions that I have experienced and how I have overcome them:) *I’m also hoping to stick to a posting schedule now that I’m working to tackle escaping. Most of my energy is going to be towards the book I’m writing however!*

As I got caught up in a cycle of negativity, I couldn’t face the things I loved to do with much hope in fear of failing. I knew I didn’t have the physical ability to run, I wasn’t really up to read some of my favourite books, and I was already tired of putting my feelings into words. So with my friends’ suggestions, I downloaded Netflix and began watching shows. Now with time on my hands, I finally began to actually watch things. I never had the time to watch TV shows in the past and our family didn’t have cable. I began waking up each morning so ashamed of what I was going to do but not caring anymore. You see I had lived with a routine where I spent each moment everyday doing something productive. Even when I went to the movies with friends, I would be scrutinizing each scene to find what I could learn from the characters so that my time would be made worthwhile. In hindsight, I realize how stingy I was with my time: always living for the future never enjoying the present. But to be fair, I was raised to value time and to live each day as my last. However, with all my plans for uni, research, and EC’s wiped away, I felt discouraged. I had enough of being knocked down and working twice as hard as my peers just to catch up with school.

I began the day watching Netflix and I ended the day watching it. I spent so many days doing this because I couldn’t–didn’t want to face my reality. By immersing myself in these fictional character’s lives, I could escape into another world. I could forget about my worries and not take action to face the inevitable. While I was doing this, I knew I was a coward. I knew that I was not courageous enough to stop and get on with life. I validated that it was okay because I was a patient and needed some rest. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that but secretly I knew that I was escaping from reality.

That’s when I realized why some people have addictions. From a position of being fortunate, I had never understood why people could have addictions. But I began to see that they’re an escape: alcohol, partying, sex, food, shopping, gambling, gaming, drugs, etc. It can be a comfortable illusion that temporarily blinds us from the truth. I felt so down and fearful of the things I needed to face that I hid myself in TV shows. Even though I had the restraint from being addicted, I then began to understand how hard it is to conquer addiction. Even now as I write this, I’m scared to have to tackle what is to come, which is so different from the future I had imagined. I’ll need to reconsider my majors and my future career goal as my spontaneous lung collapses will prevent me from the career I have always dreamed of. I’ll need to accept that I can’t always be ahead and I’ll have to swallow down my pride to be a year behind despite always working to be a year ahead through AP courses in high school. There’s a lot to reconsider and I’m already confused about the choices I have to make but I’m willing to step out of the haziness and focus on the reality now.

Right now you could be going through something so much more difficult and I know for a fact that I’ll never truly understand what you’re going through, I can only try. But I do know for a fact that you always have a choice. You have a choice to look far within yourself for that strength. The strength to say enough is enough. The strength to say that who you are doesn’t have to be who you will be; that your past doesn’t define your future. The strength to move past the pain and hold onto faith that things will work out for the better. The strength to get back up and hand life some lemonade again. I believe you, I really do. I’ll be waiting for that cup of lemonade.

 

xoxo,Cecilia

 

Live well and prosper

Redefining Success

A big part of when I first started this website was to focus on helping others feel empowered to find their own journeys to success, hence the name of the website, but over five years the word success has began to grow and develop on me.

It wasn’t always when I thought of success as one’s purpose or fulfillment of a meaningful goal. I used to believe it was fame, fortune, or what “everyone wanted in life.” I thought it was winning awards, competitions, achieving other people’s compliments etc. But I realized that success was a lot more meaningful than that. Success is determined by growth; It’s founded upon one’s willingness to try new things and ultimately grow. Maybe for me right now it’s to be able to get out of bed without wincing from surgical pain or it’s to walk for more than thirty minutes without my back cramping up or it’s to be able to breathe deeply without any pain. Before, these things might not have meant anything for me. Those were things I did without blinking an eye; Things I took for granted.

But those are now things that I will consider a success if I’m able to achieve them. I’ll stack small little goals throughout this recovery and work to achieve them. Slowly but surely I will succeed.

The other thing I want you to know about success is that it doesn’t need to be determined by other people’s measures. Honestly, some people might laugh at my definition of success. Haha she’s hilarious, she thinks that being able to breathe properly is an achievement? Everybody does that! Well it’s okay if you achieve what everyone else thinks is normal or not important. It should be important to you however. Everyone is in a different place in life with a different body with different limits and with different potentials. What you think is incredibly easy is so damn difficult for someone else and it definitely took me a while to learn that. From wanting to run a half marathon and running everyday only less than two months ago, I am now only wanting to be able to speed walk. And it will need to be enough for me right now 🙂

The last thing about success is that sometimes if we aren’t focusing on it for the right reasons it can be toxic. What I mean by that is that if we are looking for fame, fortune, or achieving other people’s approval then we might be able to burn out. And that’s exactly what happened to me. It’s hard to admit that sometimes but I let people define who I was by letting their opinions getting a hold of me. In senior year I became Student Council President and that was something I could have only imagined to have had happened. But the many years prior starting from Gr.8, I had wanted to join Student Council and run for grade rep. Each time, my friends and others would tell me I didn’t have what it takes because it was a popularity contest and by the looks of me, I was definitely not. Being receptive of other’s opinions I retracted my application for three years in a row because of what others had thought of my potential. In the last two years of high school I took chances because I began to look for the only validation I needed: from within and from those that mattered. But to be completely honest, a part of the driving factor in the last two years was not the willingness to lead but to prove them wrong. I think the “wanting to prove them wrong” mentality helped me achieve my goals but I don’t think it was mentally healthy for me. It caused stress and discomfort because secretly I needed other people’s opinions to validate who I am. But no more! Don’t let your goals poison who you are! If you’re working hard to the point you’re missing meals and not being healthy then stop! Okay I don’t know about athletes but what I’m saying is to always put yourself first (not selfishly) but to look after your health.

If your goals end up coming before your health, your lifestyle, or your relationships, start to ask what the real reason you’re doing it for? Is it for you or is for fame, fortune, or temporary approval by others?

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

I’m sorry I’m a bit late to the New Year Resolution’s thing… I mean with every year, your siblings got in the habit of expecting these resolutions because I do, I must admit, make one every year.

Now no excuses but I was a little caught up with a little hospitalization at the tail end of 2016 that rolled into the New Year. It was quite the surprise actually because despite spending my 2014 Christmas at the hospital handing out gifts to children, 2016 gave me the gift of being the patient.

Even though I wouldn’t say this is the smoothest start to 2017, I always begin each year with hope of a continuation of dreams and empowering others; This year is no different.

So please 2017, let me request one thing, out of anything promise me this one. Let me ask that first and foremost that you love people. You love them fully and continually through every second of everyday. Remind them that even during their worst times that someone supports them, loves them, and always wishes the best for them. But also give them that heart that is filled with their own love. Let them see how beautiful and capable of accomplishing wonderful things. Shower them with affection but help them see that hero within them. There are many people out there, 2017, who don’t see their reflection and neglect themselves of their own love and potential. I know you can love them and I know you can help them discover who they really are. 2017, let it be the year when I can say and those around me can love ourselves and others around us wholeheartedly.

The list continues you know? But I must say if you can’t grant me any of these wishes, do at least grant the first one. However just in case, the second is that I ask you to bestow courage. Fill people will courage to be who they are, to stand up for what they believe in, and to fully accept themselves and those around them. 2016 was a year of upheaval and brokenness from conflict… will you please give people the courage to remain true to who they are? To give those who are fighting, hope to go on? To give those who don’t realize how wonderful they are, the confidence to pursue their dreams? 2017, let it be the year where you illuminate empowerment and catalyze the beginnings of a domino effect where we not only help ourselves but help those around us find courage.

The last thing, 2017, can you help people find beauty? To see the beauty in life, no matter how dark it gets or how turbulent the waters might crash against them? That no matter what, don’t separate them from that beauty of their life, their living, and their loved ones. Don’t let hatred or darkness override that beauty. That beauty we need to do more than thrive; the beauty we need to live a continual life of wonder, exploration, and experiencing the amazing. Help them hold onto that beauty with all they’ve got… because those dark times will be so hard. They will blacken the beauty but I believe that the beauty always exists. Just help them in washing away that darkness; reveal life’s majesty, uncover the hidden treasures among them (the people living around them, the hope that fills the air).

If you really help people and me with these things, do you know how big that would be?

Thank you 2017, really thank you for giving us a clean slate to love even more fearlessly, to reach out to others more recklessly, and to care for ourselves with all that we’ve got ❤