Finding joy in the smallest of things

I’ve always known that I was easily amused, much to the amusement of my friends most of the time. I can find happiness and excitement in things that most people my age probably wouldn’t find interest in. I’ve already talked about my experience at Science World in an earlier post, but even just the smile of a kid can brighten my day. The silver lining on a cloud on a cloudy day, just a simple reminder that the sun is there behind it, the smile of kid on a bus when he turned around. I think it’s important to keep that innocent outlook on life. I don’t know when I started thinking that way, but it seems like it might just be part of my personality, passed down from my dad’s genes. Everything and anything can be interesting and exciting if you think of it in another way. I can get a laugh out of everything and anything. Sometimes it can be really hard not to burst out laughing because one of those thoughts came to mind in a situation where it is inappropriate to be laughing. Maybe that’s why I’ve grown to enjoy variety shows. They might be boring at times, not jam-packed with action and a story like in movies, but it’s the little bits of genius one-liners and friendly banter that I love. I also love watching dramas and variety shows which are so…real. Ones that show a celebrity’s everyday life, those depicting realistic situations and hardships, and Return of Superman’s interaction between father and child. There’s just something beyond the adorkably hot guys and cute babies that pull me in. It might seem boring or some may even miss all the little things, but if you look in the right places and from the right perspective, it’s easy to find joy, even when watching something that could be fake. The hope that they show, the perseverance in itself gives me joy.

Another song I want to share is also my current favourite song: Leehom Wang’s Now is the Time (王力宏 – 就是现在). He wanted the song to be an inspirational song that makes you want to get up and act on it, which I think he’s accomplished. Even though our situations are so different, the words encourage me to continue on. It encourages me, seeing how far he’s gone with his quest to bring the Eastern and Western world together through music, being an American born Chinese and learning Chinese at the age of 18. Through his 20 years in the music industry and now his expansion into the Western entertainment through his first Hollywood film “Blackhat”. I love the line “Now I understand the true meaning of luck. It’s when opportunity meets preparation.” It almost parallels my venture into Pharmacy. I might appear to have been “lucky” to get into pharmacy. It goes against the stereotype image that most people have of me in first impression: the quiet, shy, nerdy Asian. Pharmacists need to be good communicators and confident. Now is the time for me to break that image and show them what I’m made of. “My dream is not of the future, now is the time.” “I can’t count the tears, I can’t count the times I’ve fallen. But every time I failed or was knocked down, I always thought it was because I wasn’t good enough.” Countless tears, countless defeats, I also felt like it was because I wasn’t good enough. Maybe pharmacy wasn’t the route for me. But like a sign, I passed, and I can only work harder towards achieving what has now become a goal of mine. “This isn’t a coincidence. What didn’t kill me made me learn.” It’s my time now, to do this. It’s my dream now. Everything is right here in front of me, and all I need to do is take this opportunity and work hard for it. Even though I haven’t been doing the best in school, I’m thankful that I’ve made it this far. I never used to worry about passing school. Who knew that I will one day celebrate over a passing grade? I guess in a sense, it’s really brought me to understand how to appreciate all the little things. Things that I used to take for granted. Life isn’t all easy. Behind every smile, every accomplishment, every mark, are tears, hard work, and perseverance.

The times when I can only lie

There are more and more things that I have found hard to talk and explain about with people. Some things are either hard to bring up, or explaining them would require going in-depth into personal things which I’d rather not share with them about. However, if I don’t go into the whole back story, it’s hard to explain in a short answer. Ah it’s so frustrating! Especially in situations where I’d like to clear things up, but I frankly don’t want to spend the time and energy on that person trying to explain things just to have them misunderstand over and over again.

Example 1: I haven’t been going to school after the first 2 days back. Why? Because I’ve been feeling like crap. At night, I would feel so light-headed I can’t even turn my head without feeling like the world was spinning all around me. Even when I lie down to try to sleep, I feel my head spinning. I’d also be breathless for no reason, and feeling a lump in my throat. And I’d be dead tired, but unable to sleep with my head bothering me until the sun rose no matter what how early I went to sleep, what herbal teas I drank, nor the amount of Advil I took to take away my headache.  I looked up my symptoms and lo and behold, due to my poor compliance to my antidepressant, I’ve been having withdrawal symptoms from not taking it for 3 consecutive days. But, having to explain that would mean explaining about the antidepressants and the whole depression anxiety thing so I’d just say that it is because of my headaches and being unable to wake up due to not being able to sleep because of them. It’s almost funny how it doesn’t “click” in their minds that I’ve had a constant never-ending headache for more than a year now although honestly it does get worse now and then.

Example 2: The oh too common “how are you?” always require the standard “I’m good, and you?” Because what else do you want me to say? That I’m doing really badly and I think about dying and that I’m really stressed about school and go into all that? Most people probably don’t even expect an answer other than “I’m good” or “I’m ok”. Then there are those who want more than that but don’t want all the details because they frankly don’t care either. If only there was a way to discern what type of answer they want. Because honestly, when I ask people questions, I do expect a certain answer at times. I know that the thought of “okay let’s just check in with this person and if they’re doing well then the conversation will probably end” or “I really want to know how this person is doing” or “I’m just being polite and asking, I don’t really want to know” has definitely crossed my mind for certain people!

Example 3: Someone recently asked me “How’s pharmacy?” People always ask me that. Once again, the standard answer “It’s good”, “It’s ok”, “It’s interesting” pops up. So I asked them what kind of answer they wanted (which they took the wrong way of course). I wanted to share with them my experiences in pharmacy but I didn’t want to share with them everything. They didn’t need to know too much. Sure I love the things we learn about, and I love everything we learn can easily be applied to practice, but it’s also brought about lots of stress that probably contributed to the anxiety. And again, it goes back to the anxiety depression spiel.

Example 4: My brother complains that I isolate myself from the rest of my family. And I admit that I do that, but that’s because it takes a lot of energy for me to socialize sometimes, even though it might just be with my family. If I do go out and talk with them, we usually end up arguing or having me being irritated. Then there are complaints of me being irritated too easily. Therefore, I found it easier to just hide away and save energy. I don’t want to tell him about my mental health issues as that’ll probably lead to yet more arguments.

I used to find it easy to just blab all my problems to people who I might not even be close with. I didn’t mind talking about myself to them and share my experiences. However, as I’ve experienced more and learned more, I realize how sharing my stories and problems can instead become a burden to the other person, giving them and trusting them with the responsibility to listen and have that information. Now, it’s hard for me to open up. Especially when there are things like anxiety and depression. You can’t just talk about that to anyone and everyone. It took me months before I told my best friend, and even that was hard. It’s almost like looking for pity, asking them to treat you different, asking them to forgive and understand certain circumstances. Which is far from what I want. I don’t want to make it an excuse. I want the things I say or tell people to help them, to let them learn from my mistakes and experiences so that they themselves don’t have to experience the pain and hurt it took to go through it. I don’t want my anxiety and depression to define me, but it is a part of who I am. I’m still learning how to live with that part of my life shadowing me, but hopefully I’ll be able to resolve that part of me, or find other ways to express myself…because, it is really hard for me to lie and think of diversions! I’m getting better at lying, but that’s not something I want to be good at. It’s painful having to lie to people and hide things from them, but it is even harder yet to open up to them, being vulnerable. Oh what to do…

Chapter 2015, the 21st chapter

I saw this saying somewhere: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present” by Lao Tzu. If that is correct, then I’m living in the past and the future…anytime but the present! But it is true. I’ve been allowing myself to dwell in my memories that it’s caused me to fear venturing to make new ones. So what’s my new year’s resolution for 2015? To allow myself to let go, to forgive myself of my regrets and truly let it go. To allow myself to be selfish at times, to spoil myself sometimes, and to be healthy. I’ve learned that to be able to fully relax and not worry about anything, even for a short moment, is a blessing. It may be important to work towards life’s goals and success, but what good is it if you’re unable to enjoy the results of your hard work?

So what about the chapters of my book of life that are already written? There are pages worn from all the revisiting, but no matter how many times I go back to it, I can’t edit history. I can’t throw it away either, so I guess I’ll put it up on the bookshelf in my mind just high enough out of my reach but where I can see it as a reminder out of the corner of my eye. A way I’ll work towards that is to remind myself that we’re all human, mistakes happen, and the best form of learning is from making mistakes to know exactly what NOT to do. I just hope that this new chapter won’t have too many big glaring mistakes!

Also, recently, it’s been really hard to restrain my mouth at times from saying the “words I would say” without a filter and make everyone hate me. It’s frustrating. When people don’t understand or misunderstand you, when you want to help or teach people but can’t or don’t know how to, when you DID try to say something but it’s just brushed off. I feel almost like giving up and not explaining myself because frankly I don’t really have the energy to care so much and they probably don’t care either, but there are certain things that I value and believe need to be said nonetheless. I guess I started off this year pretty recklessly with what I wanted or felt like I needed to say. Another life lesson learned the hard way. That’s all my book seems to be full of! Long story short, some other life lessons I’ve learned along the way are: gambling is going to empty your wallet and replace it with regret, drinking is going to ruin your liver and cause stupid things to be said that can’t be taken back, trust is risky but sometimes it’s worth it, drowning in worries may keep you from seeing the beautiful world around you, and lies will hang over your head like a cloud in rainy Vancouver.

But all in all, I’m looking forward to a new year, a wiser me, and more learning experiences to come in 2015! Have a blessed new year and let’s write stories that we can look back and read with a smile.