Category Archives: Personal

How’s Your Pain?

This morning I woke up with excruciating pain in my right foot. I could not put any weight on it; if I tried to set my foot flat on the ground, I felt burning shots of fire run up my heel. After texting my best friends about it and changing into short shorts, I hopped on my left foot to the elevator of my apartment and then into an Uber that took me to a local hospital.

The doctor and nurse informed me that luckily, I did not rupture my Achilles tendon – I had just inflamed it. Continue reading

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Time Will Tell

When I moved to the Boston area in June, I joined an Asian American book club, entered a gay men’s tennis league, and scheduled hangouts with old and new friends in the area. I liked getting to know people right away and felt a sense of community early on. “I’m not gonna move there to make friends,” I told one of my best friends a few months prior to my move, anticipating a tight schedule due to residency and job applications. But I prioritized connection anyway, choosing to hang out with people instead of grinding out more research and grants.

Several weeks ago, I met an Asian man in Cambridge who I felt the potential for friendship with. Continue reading

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Life Partners

Several years ago, I met a woman in college who I will call P. P told me about how her boyfriend, K, once scheduled a virtual call to catch up with one of his best friends. His best friend did not show up to the call and did not let K know in advance. When I asked P if K intended to let his best friend know how this failure to attend the call affected K’s feelings, P shrugged and said that K did not have that type of relationship with this best friend. When P told me this, I thought to myself, no wonder K relies so much on P for his emotional support, if he does not even bring up with his best friends when they hurt his feelings.

This behavior reminds me of people who devalue friendship and prioritize their romantic partners. Earlier in my 20’s I would get more upset about this, and though I still do detest amatonormativity I think my feelings have softened. I suspect this softening has occurred because of how close I feel with my two best friends, both of whom I have had stable deep bonds with for several years now. Continue reading

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7pm for a 7:30 surprise

Over the past two weeks I finished rewatching Fleabag, a show I first saw in 2019. This time around – thanks to years of therapy, I think – I see a lot more of myself in the character Claire, the protagonist’s sister. Claire is caring, though also uptight and perfectionistic and rather rigid. In a scene in episode three of season one, Claire tells her sister “it’s a 7pm arrival for a 7:30 surprise,” referring to her own surprise birthday party.

When I heard that line this time around, I thought ooooooh yep that’s me. Continue reading

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In It To Win It

Several months ago I sat in a virtual meeting with several other researchers of color. We talked about our different potential career paths and where we envisioned ourselves in the future. At one point, a woman mentioned that she wanted a faculty position because she enjoys research. She paused for a moment, and then she said “… and because I like to win.”

I admit I first felt a bit judgmental when she said that. That’s so competitive and capitalist, I thought to myself at the time. If I had been in a Natalie Tran YouTube video, I might have asked, “so do you like to stomp on your enemies and laugh with glee as you out-publish and out-grant them, catapulting them into a doom spiral surrounded by their own incompetence?” (Obviously I’m joking because this person is generally really nice.)

Though the comment took me aback when she said it, upon reflection, I actually find it kind of refreshing. Continue reading

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It’ll Pass

I had my last therapy session with my second ever long-term therapist last month, on June 22. I started seeing her in late May of 2018, almost a year after I moved to the Washington D.C. area. In contrast to my first long-term therapist L’s snarkier and more detached yet caring style, this therapist had exuded warmth and nurturance from the beginning. We spent this last session celebrating my growth and wishing each other well.

One theme that came up a little bit during our four years together included how I reacted to my mother’s consistent emotional abuse in my childhood. Continue reading

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After a Self-Reflective Walk

I joined a gay men’s tennis league the moment I moved to Cambridge. I wondered how the league would go, given that I do not hang out with many gay men in my daily life given the racism and internalized racism, femmephobia, and unaddressed emotional baggage I have observed within some of that demographic. Since I started playing almost a month ago though, the tennis matches have felt like a fun way to play different styles and meet new people in a casual way. The other day, one of the guys I beat – a married man – started texting me after the match. Our texts grew flirtatious, and soon enough he made it clear that he wanted to [REDACTED] my [REDACTED].

We made plans to meet this upcoming Thursday to hookup. Continue reading

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Men

I went on three dates with three different guys in the past two weeks. The most recent date took place in a bar in Cambridge with the first white guy I had gone out with in a few years. He graduated from Harvard, worked as a political consultant, and bored the heck out of me. The date itself had been pleasant enough and I got him to pay for my drink, though I still felt disappointed as I left the bar and walked back to my apartment.

A few years ago, I think I would have experienced a more extreme reaction to this mediocre date. Continue reading

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The End (?)

In my most recent session with my therapist, she and I decided that we would stop seeing each other after two more meetings. Logistics initiated this shift – my residency starts on June 30 and I will have far less free time then in my schedule for a weekly therapy session. The choice to end therapy, for now, feels quite emotional though, in large part because of how I have attended therapy for six of the past seven years.

I remember at one point in undergrad talking with one of my favorite mentors on the phone while sitting on the floor of a bathroom in the main campus library. Continue reading

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Enjoy It

I remember talking to an old mentor of mine years ago, one of the few men who I ever fully trusted. He had supported me through mental health crises and general professional development throughout my undergrad years. In the spring of 2017, after I got into my PhD program, he gave me a bit of advice that always stuck with me: to try and slow down and enjoy each moment of grad school. Continue reading

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