Category Archives: Life Lessons

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


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

New Places: Visiting China


Other countries fascinate me. Whenever, I look far above from the airplane and see a bird’s eyes view of a new country or old… I am filled with wonder about the life the people live. Their quality of life, if they’re like me, and do they think like me or have dreams like I do?


Honestly speaking I wasn’t the most thrilled about travelling back to China after seven years of not going back. The only reason i was going back was because of my family: my grandparents, my cousin, aunts, and uncles. I didn’t know how much I missed them until I left them. As I struggled to keep my tears from trickling down my cheeks, a part of me believed that yes I would see them and maybe sooner than I thought. But the truth is, I rarely go back. And as time passes on and health starts to deteriorate, I’m not sure when my see you again will become a goodbye.

During my three weeks in China, I began to appreciate a country more.. in regards to the way its run and how the people live their daily lives. Okay, I’ll admit when I arrived in my hometown I had a strong nationalism and pride for Canada. After taking History 12, I was a bit more pre-dispositioned to think democracy was the answer. Coming into China, I had my nose up in the air. I was conditioned a bit to think of communism as bad and with corruption spoiling many aspects of politics, education, medicine, security, etc didn’t make it any better. The bias coupled with news I had heard about China made me complain secretly about almost everything for the first week. Ugh the air quality is so terrible, the streets are so dirty, there are too many people, and why is everyone so rude? I feel disappointed in my ways of thinking specifically in the beginning. I realized life in China is actually pretty great and how there is a certain beauty in the way a country works. What right do I have to say how a country should be run? Or allow my ideological or political beliefs barricade my ability to enjoy what a country can offer? Every country has its own beauty, and its my privilege to experience it for what is is—

Testing the Limits

These past few days were spent at the hospital and reflecting back I know that I ignored the warnings my body gave me. You see this past week was the busiest week of my life or so I had thought until I had another lung collapse. On Friday night, I was exhausted from sleeping 5hrs the past week due to university application deadlines, a chem midterm, a calc unit test, and spirit week for Student Council. I kept thinking if the other kids in my class could sleep around 3-4hrs a night, why couldn’t I? Personally I knew I needed my sleep to function but with so many things to do and so little time, the only I could get everything done was to cut back on sleep. I was so caught up with getting everything done and the ultimate goal that in reality I lost so much more than that. I again had to go through so much pain and suffering to learn that this will be the last time that I put myself second. I put so many things first but in the end no one really acknowledges me for what I’ve done, and in the end it’s me who gets the short end of the stick. I should have seen it coming, I mean the signs were so obvious! I was like wow look at me go, leading seven ECs, taking three university courses in high school, and applying early for university in the states? Heck I was on a roll. But life easily puts you into perspective. And just like a rubber band, I kept stretching my limits until my life couldn’t hold any longer and then it broke.

The point of this blog post, is that I used to think that if others could do something, why couldn’t I? I mean we are all humans.. But I finally realized that it’s okay if I try really hard that I won’t achieve the same things as others, and I just need to accept that, I have different limits and I need to respect that. Don’t be like me, I had to learn it the hard way. After three spontaneous lung collapses, the doctors and I still don’t know what happened, but all I know is that every time it happened, I was pushed to my maximum point. Know your limit is, test them but once you see the signs and you know you’re body can’t go on, stop pushing yourself to get somewhere you don’t have to be. I was exhausted last week, and I kept falling asleep during lectures or yawning then bumping my head to the table when writing homework. In hindsight, I should have stopped. But in hindsight we always see what we did wrong, so don’t wait for hindsight, wait for the now.

Push yourself if you know you aren’t hurting yourself. Now I officially know my limits and learned my lessons, I won’t make the same mistake again *hopefully*.

Prioritize your life and that means putting health first! I eat healthy and exercise but this past week I started chopping away at my sleeping time and that’s when I started to get stressed out. Stress is a nono, once you feel the signs, stop, and relax!

Detours @ El Slavador

Sometimes things go unplanned. Or actually most often times then not they do. When getting to Toronto from Boston my flight was detoured and then getting to Managua, Nicaragua our flight was cancelled. But I think these detours are great! Even though it will take longer to get to our final destination, if its anything I learned from the past week and a half is that detours should be looked as opportunities. And it’s true. Whether you’re trying to get to where you’re going, sometimes it’s good to take the road less traveled by. I’ve got to interact with so many different people and immerse myself in cultures I’ve never immersed myself in. While riding through the streets of El Salvador, I was amazed at the unique beauty this country has to offer though so different from Canada or the US. This detour has allowed me to learn a lot more and experience a lot more.

So if things don’t go asplanned, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride!

P.S. I will boarding for the flight to Managua soon so no WiFi for two weeks:)

Can’t wait to update you all when I come back




Living 17 years on this earth is a blessing. 7 times I was so close to having my life snatched away from me because of the unpredictable daily events that can in a blink of an eye steal a life. Just in this past week leading up to my birthday, a lot has happened. A student of my fathers unexpectedly passed away after swimming at UBC. Sudden deaths are tragic and it’s very hard for us to be caught up in every death that occurs at every moment of the day, but when an individual leaves, the world has lost a beautiful fragment of the bigger puzzle.

Just like many this girl who passed away will be thought of just another number or a face blended in the countless deaths that occur with each passing day, but for me she is someone. A someone who I came to know and respect. I want to take the time to say that all deaths are tragic and I offer my condolences to all those suffering from the lost of a loved one. I cannot emphasize enough how I cannot comprehend the circumstances that have led me to live healthily as a 17 year old because of some of the experiences I have had, 17 years might be a short period of time but to me it’s a lot of time. A lot of time for me to fully understand the risks but for me to also make every single moment worth living for. To make each day that I can breathe and function, to do all that I can to make an impact. I don’t have a lot of time because I never know when my day will come. It’s tiring to live sometimes like there is a clock ticking, but I find that it’s better to be reminded constantly of how while I live, there are many who have not gotten to past their legacy on and it is up to me to do so.

If you’re reading this now, please release yourself from any grudges you may have and let go. Forgive the person and move on. You cannot let anger or any passionate emotions wring you any longer. Live and do the things you love so that you can fulfill dreams for those who cannot do so. Most importantly do them for yourself. Do it for the wonderful human being you are, because all our lives matter, and it’s up to us to do something about it.

You are not alone ( WE are all, one the same)

In dedication of Madison Holleran:

After reading this article and being stressed a month ago due to AP season and a lot of finals, I wrote a poem:

Sometimes we focus too much on the steps

That we lose sigh of the big picture

Or even who we wanted to be

Our goals often get masked by all the

Demands of Life

Keeping up with the world that waits for no one

And drowning in the could have beens

Sometimes clawing desperately because we still have

that One chance

But when our eyes are clouded by ephemeral things

Fame, fortune, success.

We lose sight of our purpose and

slowly the light within us


to a point of depth that isn’t wrong but isn’t right

a place where nothing envelops you

except release, escape; true freedom

Is this what you really want?

No, but I’m full, I’ve had enough

And you let

Tiredness take you away-