Category Archives: Personal

25 and Powerful

Feeling powerful scared me for a long time. Growing up, my mother and brother both yelled a lot. My mother would scream at me for almost anything I did, all the time, and I usually ended up crying in the bathroom of my basement or in my grandmother’s arms. My brother would scream back at my mother and they would sometimes yell at each other for hours, though I remember him crying too. This emotional abuse frightened me so much that I promised I would never act like my mother or my brother, that I would never express anger or even be angry, ever.

This fear of anger and power changed when I went to therapy in undergrad. Continue reading

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Being Smart, Priority #69

Sometimes I try to avoid coming off as a smart or intelligent person. For example, I am in a top-ranked Psychology PhD program, but I detest talking about my research or my academics with my closest friends. A few months ago, I realized that I had published some articles in top Psychology peer-reviewed journals like Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and Appetite and felt gross about it, to the point where I posted a dramatic Facebook status asking if researchers can indeed have hearts. When one of my friends entering a Psychology PhD program in the fall praised me on the phone the other day for being super smart, I felt a sliver of my soul shrivel up and ascend into the afterlife, aka, a land with unlimited Jeni’s ice cream and books and upbeat pop music.

After reflecting on it, I realize I dislike associating myself with intelligence because of all the emotionally undeveloped and/or cruel smart people I know. Continue reading

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Dominate Me

I turn 25 in a couple of weeks so I have spent time reflecting on my growth as a person, including my sexual identity and romantic attraction to men. While I have unsurprisingly not yet met a man I want to date, I have learned something about the guys I’m generally into: I’m turned on by guys who can dominate me. In other words, I’m a bottom.

It feels weird to out myself as a bottom on the internet, though it feels weirder to claim that identity given the stigma I’ve internalized about it, especially as a gay Asian man. Continue reading

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I Roasted Him

A couple of weeks ago I talked with my therapist about AWLOB and how I felt bad about the last message I sent him. In July 2019, when I asked if we could talk on the phone for an hour, he said no and that there “might be” a point we could talk way later, “perhaps,” when we could “potentially” be friends. I did not feel hurt that he set a boundary, because we should all have the autonomy to choose to communicate or not communicate with anyone in our lives. I felt hurt because several months ago he said that he had a crush on me I hope you all realize how painfully vulnerable it is for me to admit that I liked him having a crush on me lol brb gonna throw myself in a volcano now and that at some point we would talk, and then, all of a sudden, he retracted that with no explanation.

So I roasted him. Continue reading

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People and Their Feelings

I have always loved people and their feelings. My family told me that I did not make a sound until I turned two years old, because I spent so much time sitting and watching other people. As a kid, I felt drawn to television and video game characters who used magic to heal others, like Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Though I did not have the words for it then, around the age of eight I sensed that I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up, if not a writer. My then best friend in high school and I loved playing amateur psychoanalyst, such that we would spend hours talking about our peers and our families and fictional characters and their emotions, their relationships, and what drove their behavior.

Flash forward to now, over a decade after I started high school: I provide therapy*, and I feel guilty about it. Continue reading

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Please Live Without Me

In 2019, I fell out love with one of my closest friends, A. I remember a couple of our FaceTime calls during the last few months of our friendship, when she talked about how she and her boyfriend felt unsure about where they would live after she ended her internship year. My friend wanted to move closer to her family down south, whereas her boyfriend wanted to stay closer to his family in the mid-Atlantic region.

“And after we talked I just thought, what if he’s gonna break up with me?” A said to me, after one of those tenser conversations with her boyfriend.

Who the heck cares, I thought to myself, though I said other things to my friend: I’m sure you two will work it out, it sounds like you’ve both been practicing healthy communication, I hope you can take care of yourself through this. Taking a step back, of course I understood why my friend cared about if her boyfriend would break up with her. She had moved to a new state where she knew no one, then she started dating this guy, and he acted as her only in-person support system. Whenever they got into fights, she always asked me: what if he breaks up with me, and I’m all alone in [name of state redacted for confidentiality]?

Deep down though, I expected more from A. Continue reading

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A Job is Not a Person

Sometimes I idealize people. For example, as someone who cares about social justice and the arts, I often assume the best about organizers, writers, people who work in social justice-related nonprofits, etc. I tend to think that people whose careers involve fighting oppression or writing beautiful essays will possess corollary qualities, like deep self-awareness, a knowledge of how systemic oppression manifests in their interpersonal relationships, and a general compassion for those around them. My idealization reminds me of how some people I know idealize therapists as like, super emotionally intelligent, all-knowing seers of the human soul.

As a therapist who’s seen a few therapists for my own mental health, I’m here to tell you that some of us suck at our jobs. Continue reading

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