a long overdue update: down in the valley

It’s been two years since my last blog post and exactly a year since I quit project io and updated my website. So I updated the website and am writing this blog post, though both tasks have far more symbolic significance. After trying my hands at seemingly disjointed but actually quite cohesive and centralized projects, I have finally “found” what I wanted in the short- and long-term. It was quite a relief. I turned 25 last month, which marked the 7 months mark of trying to figure out what I wanted and did not want, professionally and personally. I guess that was my midlife crisis hurried to a quarter century old.

I’m not saying this to complain all. My life has been fantastic- I finally got to the secure and comfort zone where I can surely tune out what other people want me to do and instead be myself without looking over my shoulders. Yet the process itself was painful, to say the least. It took several life-death- threats-of-imprisonment moments in my personal life, fears and several failed endeavors in my professional life, a literal political coup d’etat, many lost (and gained) relationships, and three countries for me to get my sh*t together. But alas, I am better for it. Not only did I get the time to put my head down and improve some crucial skillsets, but I also learned to wean away from mainstream attention and instant gratification that I had grown up with. The experiences, emotional toll, and physical pain have allowed me to forge a path ahead, clear of any fog. Sure, there are steeples to hurdle over and I am most likely to land in sticky/wet situations (for my track friends, yes I am actually using a steeplechase metaphor), but I can see the journey ahead and all the milestones to get to the finishing line. Of course, the steeples, and thus the journey, can be changed at any time, but the general direction is there.

Furthermore, the past year is one of the few times that I learned to strategically let go. Typically, my friends and parents worried about my safety while I was in far-flung places doing dangerous things. Now, I learned how to measurably worry and what to do for people I really cared about when there is an ocean between the two of us. The helplessness, angst,depression, and frustration gnawed at me. I learned that uncertainty is worse than certainty, even if the outcome is worse than worst. The limbo state paints static noise for me; no way to move forward and no way to retreat. So through pure grit and necessity, I learned strategies that work for me. I learned my limits, connection-wise and emotionally, and how to draw boundaries.

Image result for head and heart cd

It is apt that at the exact moment I am writing this post, my Spotify shuffle decides to play the song, Down in the Valley by The Head and the Heart. Besides being one of my all time favorites, the song itself brings me back to the last time I fully had confidence, hubris, and optimism for myself and the world: summer of 2011, aka the the best time of my life. It was the summer before I got jaded and bewildered by how the world is run and works; it was the summer before I really failed at anything huge; it was the time I knew who I was going to spend the rest of my life with before a personal tragedy threw that out the window; and it was the time I felt truly loved for who I am. My best friend at the time had made me a mix CD with for my commute to work. That song was on it. I loved it the first time I heard it. And I kept on playing it over and over until it got so scratched it no longer worked two years ago. I’m going to take this coincidence as a sign of resurrection*. I’m ready to walk out into the world. Once again.

(*As everything is comparative, I am fully aware that a couple years down the line, I am very likely to say something like, “I’ve gained more confidence and have never been more confident”. But hey, I’ve got nothing better to compare my emotions to at the moment. Relativity.)

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