Monday, January 12, 2015

Beside Myself

Below is a reflective essay I wrote over Winter Break, 2011-2012, during my Freshman year of college.  I was going through a sort of quarter-life crisis at that time and was deeply unsure of what to do next.  Nonetheless, I powered through with the philosophy that concludes this piece: "Life's a battle, but it can also be an empowering journey...[if you will it to be]."  I never could have met so many awesome friends and my magnificent boyfriend (who think I'm funny!...see below) if I had not interpreted and revised my struggles the way I did.  I'm also happy to be practicing the descriptive writing "therapy" that I describe in what follows. :)

“Who am I?”  Neither a drug addict nor a repressed child, I have nonetheless struggled with this question for years.  There is no logical reason for which I should feel this way, given my privileged upbringing, the unabashed love of both of my parents, my friendship with my twin brother, the incessant enjoyment elicited by my perfectly feisty dog, my apparent caliber of intelligence and athleticism, and my innately cheery demeanor.  Regardless, I have never really felt one, or in sync with myself, almost as if there is a Socrates/Aristotle-coined separation of my mind and my body.  My numerous academic and frequent athletic achievements have evoked great pride within myself, but only for a moment, after which time I continue my quest for self-identification, asking myself, “What do those accomplishments say about me?  Are they indicative of a difference I have made in my community, whether of local, national, or international society; of my immediate social or familial network; or of my psychological infrastructure?”  Sometimes I wonder how I even created said groupings of society, networks, and the self, and why the need to “Make a Difference” is so important to me.

I remember daydreaming about my philosophy on life and my existence and role therein at the wee age of five.  Cumulus clouds and blue skies encapsulated the air—the ceiling and the walls, while nimbus clouds lined the floor.  The dream was not very long, but it was surprisingly profound in that it was woven by an amalgamation of thoughts, which I afterwards gathered to amount to, “What is my place on this Earth?  Is my mind operating at higher level—whether mentally or physically, figuratively or literally—than my body?  Is that why I see all of these family members, friends, and acquaintances flying above my head in a heaven-like place as if my mind is preoccupied at a supra-natural level, governing and watching my head and my body from above?  Sometimes, everything seems like an out-of-body experience to me.  While my body and mind may feel burdened by stress and anxiety, there is a small part of my mind that nevertheless seems to float above, wondering why I feel this way and why life is so hard.  The same can be said of my most joyous experiences; I think, “Is this really me who is experiencing this, or is it some vestigial offshoot of me?”

Perhaps I oftentimes do not feel “in-the-moment” because my successes and failures can seem so polar that their concurrency in my life escapes my human understanding and properly attributed sensations.  Likewise, I sometimes feel incompetent or “not quite with it,” despite all of the ways through which I have appeared to have proven myself.

Sometimes I even think, “Forget my philosophy on life; what is my philosophy on writing essays?!  Do the best that you can?  Work your butt off?  Exceed yourself?  What?!!”  I do not know how to handle college.  Perhaps no one does, but any feeling of being out of control or out of the driver’s seat in the vehicle of my own life irks me.

There are so many things my “friends” don’t know about me.  My keen sense of humor is one.

In composing this abridged autobiography, I have realized my idiosyncratic, ideal therapy: descriptive writing—specifically about my blessings and for what I’m grateful—coupled with a dose of reality.

Despite anything and everything that’s happened to me, and considering anything and everything that’s happened to the numerous people who are less fortunate than me in so many if not all ways, I have to realize that my life isn’t as bad as I fashion it to be.  In fact, it’s really great.  Life’s a battle, of course, but it can also be an empowering journey and a testament to the strengths you’ve cultivated in your mind, replicated in your body, and engrained in your spirit.


Dress: J. Crew.  Trench: Saks Fifth Avenue.  Headband: Nordstrom.  Shoes: J. Crew.  Bag: Kate Spade.  Necklace: J. Crew.

All photos by Sean Su.

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