I wake up to the usual procession of two immaculately timed alarms. Blinking hard, I rotate the knob on my pink Himalayan sea salt lamp to counteract the already-dawning dose of S.A.D. or seasonal affective disorder (self-diagnosed, of course). The curtains open at my command and bring streams of light tumbling into the otherwise shaded and stale room. Reaching for my phone, I brace myself for the several dozens of notifications and reminders silenced during my slumber.
“Okay, Facebook (nothing but a few odd event invitations), Twitter (only necessary to get that red notification button off my screen), Emails (deal with them later), Instagram…,” I scroll, tap, stare, and sigh. Like most mornings, I find myself double-tapping images of size 0 swimsuit models with perky tits and huge asses. I often play the game “fake or real” to determine just how much envy I should be devoting to a particular individual, or even how hard I have to push myself that day. Knife-edge abs, golden complexion, pursed lips, tiny physiques, I dig deeper into the pit of misery and self-loathing.
After what seems like the entire morning, I chuck my phone to the side and roll clumsily out of bed. I have a plan for the day, and you can bet that getting a workout in is a top priority.
“Yoga isn’t until 6:30 tonight, so I should probably hit the gym now to get some cardio in.” I calculate.
While a research paper for graduate school is threatening the course of my day, I decide to put that on the back burner until I can come to terms with staring at my computer screen for hours on end. The day goes on with lackluster: breakfast as fuel, read those emails I postponed, then drive up to the club gym.
You see, I’m expecting this revolutionary workout that completely alters the course of my fitness career and catapults me into insta-worthy stardom. But that’s not the case, far from it. I’m tired: my shoulders shift hesitantly under my weight, my ankles wobble to and fro, and my energy level is between “just one more rep” and “why am I even here?” I realize that I’ve been on, on, on for the past month and really haven’t allowed my body to rest and just be.
Yanking my earbuds from their homes, I glance at myself in the mirror.
“What the fuck am I doing?” I question, brows furrowed.
Just the other day I was chatting with a friend about the imperceptible effects of social media on our actions, our motivations, and our thoughts, especially concerning our own self-worth. While I’ve never been one to necessarily act upon the candid ruminations of others, it dawned on me that I’ve been my own worst enemy the whole time. That little devil sitting on my shoulder mocking me and taunting my sanity was in fact, myself. I immerse myself in the image of “perfection” through continuously scrolling pages until my eyes blur and I can’t even make out my own reflection.
This has to end.
Unless there’s a legitimate aesthetic I’m interested in or an individual that instills a mantra of pervasive love and self-acceptance, I begin by unfollowing any account that does not follow these guidelines. I make it my personal vendetta to uphold the yogic way of life that I often overlook, to care for my soul and to be kind to this borrowed body. I immediately feel a shift in energy.
I’m not too sure if I’ve ever been confident enough to say, “I love my body!” but I’m working hard to get there. Yes, some people are born a size 0 with perky tits and huge asses, but the vast majority are not. I know that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, races, colors, heights, and proportions. And that it is in these differences that pure beauty endures. It has never and will never be contained within a handbook or a diet plan or even in a mobile application.
I conclude the day with an hour and a half long yoga session with integrated meditation. I choose “release” as my intention as I begin to shed this skin I’ve outgrown for far too long. I fly through the asanas and vinyasas, and class concludes in what feels like just one breath cycle. My palms meet at the heart as I bow my head reverentially.
I respect and honor the divine light within myself and in all beings, the matter of the universe with which I am comprised of, and I bow my head in gratitude for this body I call home.
I wish you all peace in whatever journey you’re currently embarking in and an unwavering spirit toward self-love.
The essence of life is learning when to hold on and when to let go.
I typed this quote furiously into my notes the other day as I began planning my journey home to the Bay Area, dashing across the room in a sudden haze. When your life is a constant state of limbo that’s neither here nor there, believe me when I say, there is always a heavy nagging pull from all directions.
Ever seen the movie Chocolat? Well if you haven’t, here’s a brief rundown of how the main character and her daughter live their lives: cursed by the will of the wind, they uproot their chocolate shoppe in search of the next unsuspecting village. I’m just now starting to think that perhaps the plot line of my life runs congruent to this heartwarming movie. From the moment I left home for college in Boston, I’ve been plagued with five-hour plane rides that made for three-hour time differences which meant my fair share of miscommunication and “I can’t deal with the distance”. And I despised my parents for this: brooding over the implications of the duality of my reality.
As the end of my undergraduate career crept near, I, the unsuspecting victim, bathed in the perils of a scattered heart. A heart divided, sprinkled, carved, and etched. A heart willingly offered to and shared amongst the most earnest people and places.
Since May of this year, I’ve left friends back east to return to my western roots. And in doing so, continued on my journey to the southern-most end of California, San Diego. For the duration of this month long escapade, I’ve trained hard to become a certified yoga instructor, met a few more soul sisters, eaten enough Mexican food to hold me off for a little while (who am I kidding, I’ll never be satisfied), and sprained my ankle (badly) at Woogie Weekend. Although I would have liked to have spent this last week scaling the cliffs of Black’s Beach or just doing a few sun salutations, I’m taking this as a blessing in disguise: a time to heal and reflect.
My heart is heavy but filled with love. The moon is full and bright, just as it was upon my arrival nearly a month ago. I feel a tug at my soul: an uncontrollable urge to start crying and to tell my parents that I’m never coming “home”, that this place of beauty and majesty has somehow felt more “home” to me than four years in a snow-drenched suburb. But as with the wind in Chocolat, the ebb and flow of the tides, the seasons of plenty and the seasons of want, and even the phases of the moon, I too, must learn when to hold on and when to let go.
To my new friends here in San Diego and to the unfathomable amount of thunderous laughter shared between us, thank you. Thank you for showing me that life cannot be lived without passion nor the inexplicable drive for growth and love. Thank you for becoming new branches of an ever-changing tree, seamlessly intertwined within my heart and soul. And as for the future, I know that distance makes such a trivial difference when faced with such a resilient bond. Thank you, I love you, but I must go, just for now.
I wanted to write this down before I forgot about our 21st-century love story–of sorts.
To be honest, it’s difficult to read between the lines we diligently set for ourselves when communication comes in the form of blue, sometimes green, bubbles and read receipts and hello’s across ambiguous telephone lines and sometimes seeing your face through glowing screens. I’ll keep this brief but meaningful, just like our time together. One month was all it took, and little did you know, I could fall so damn hard and so damn fast for someone I had never met. I’m sorry we never got to share that spoon; I’m sorry we found each other at the wrong right time; I’m sorry life had other plans.
It was as if we were acting out the storyline of Before Sunrise, except I stayed on the train as you got off. There’s a profound sense of emptiness left–like everything is folding in on itself and I’m left to bathe in something that resembles silence, but more like a steady breathing that I’ve never quite heard so loudly before. It’s like plucking splinters out one by one. There aren’t many, but every once in a while I get poked, and I’m reminded that something doesn’t belong anymore. It’s more like too much space all too suddenly and more like back to square one.
I’m hoping this gets lost somewhere in the midst of love and life, only to be found by another type of stranger, someone who needs it the most. But for now, I’ll be treading water, not quite drowning, and dreaming sweet navy blue dreams.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, on my way to something really grand, I’ll sit in silence and peer out the window.
It’s nice to bathe in the moments that come right before the finale: the burning in my chest, the sparks in my eyes, even the tingle just beyond the belly. This part’s always my favorite.
Ever since I was about five or six, my parents would count down the years until both my sister and I left for college. It was a number I found myself dreading… 12, 11, 10… though, it was never about my parents having to let go. I’d like to think it was a reminder that the time we spent together was precious and that the effort I put into my life really mattered. What did I want to learn? Who did I want to be? College had always seemed like this far-off concept that never quite arrived. Until the day that it did.
Moving out was hard.
Moving three thousand miles across the country was even harder. I left friends that I admired, family that I loved, and palm trees that graced only my dreams. Home became a multiplicity of things. If you know me at all, you know that perhaps I wasn’t fully devoted to my life out in the East. Yes, there were so many highs, but there were also handfuls of lows that boggled my sanity. Like many others, there were times I considered leaving. To this day, I can still remember the frantic calls made at one in the morning in the basement lounge as I muffled back tears.
But what good would that have done? Would I have met better mentors or more supportive friends? Would I have been a better person? The grass always seemed greener even though I was standing in a field of marigolds.
Four years later and here I am, right before the finale. Exactly fourty-seven days out. But graduating doesn’t necessarily mean bigger and better things. For some, it means infinite nine to fives that are spent staring out looming glass windows and reminiscing over days when all we did was lay out on the greenspace and pass around carafes of twisted teas. For others, it means gripping that diploma for dear life and wishing we could shake the meaning out of it.
And just like we did in elementary school, and middle school, and high school, and college, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are what make us human. But if I leave you with one word of advice, it’s to never make excuses. Make mistakes and make them deliberately. Be decisive. At least, you’ll have a goddamn backbone.
I don’t want these years to be the best years of my life.
I want every year to be the best year of my life. I want passion and I want truth and I want long contemplative conversations over gin and tonics, and I want love. Most importantly, I want love.
I wish love to each and every one of you in your future endeavors. And I truly hope you found fragments of yourself within the folds of then and now; the parts that burn in your chest, the parts that sparkle in your eyes, and even the parts that tingle just beyond the belly.