Sometimes I lift my shirt up in front of the mirror and sigh because I have a stomach. I could make this go away pretty easily, I think to myself, after I suck my fat in and my torso turns flat. A plan comes to mind: cut out dinner, eat only yogurt for breakfast and salad for lunch, and treat myself to potato chips and a soda on the occasional weekend. The regime feels familiar, because I implemented it often back in my early teen years.
At that time in my life, my mom yelled at me for hours almost every day, a doctor once told me I could stand to lose a few pounds, and a Korean girl I had talked to for weeks over AIM called me ugly when I finally sent her a photo of myself. Continue reading
In my six-year doctoral program, our last year consists of a year-long internship in which we provide therapy full time. The process to determine which site we will conduct our internship at works kinda like the med school residency application process. We apply to different sites, they extend interview offers, and after we interview, they rank us and we rank them. Every year, on “match day,” my doctoral program directors send an email to the entire program detailing which students matched at which sites. Everyone shares their congratulations. It feels wholesome.
This year, a faculty member sent an additional email to everyone in the program with the subject line “More good news on an already fine day for our interns…” In the email, this faculty member shared how one of his former students recently had his second child. Attached to the photos were pictures of this student and his children.
While I felt positive about this news – I really like this former student, because he’s into social justice in a quiet way where he walks the walk about it without showing off – I also felt a little perturbed at the arbitrariness of this email. Like, are we all so into the heteronormative nuclear family that we think “more good news” consists solely of sharing pictures of students who have children with their spouses? I don’t feel turned off by celebrating someone having kids, though I do think we can widen what constitutes good news: how about the grad student of color who’s fought through imposter syndrome that stemmed from racism in academia? How about the grad student who’s learned how to feel happiness on their own and their chosen communities, outside of a romantic partner? How about the grad student who enjoyed their Friday night watching Itzy music videos no, these are all not just slowly morphing into descriptions of me?
Because I’m super into sharing about how I cultivate a fulfilled life outside of romance and the heteronormative nuclear family – even though I may want a child of my own someday – I want to share about my iconic weekend. Continue reading
I recovered from my eating disorder a long time ago, though I still have moments of feeling dissatisfied with my body. These rare moments come and go. They feel like this: a twinge of self-annoyance when I change into a floral top and notice that it looks like I have a bit of a stomach, a hint of embarrassment when I see a picture of myself smiling and notice my under bite, a drop of self-consciousness when I walk out of the bath tub after a shower and see the scars and moles on my body. Almost always I move on with little concern, yet little concern still means some concern at the end of the day.
This past year and a half I have gotten back into tennis. I played throughout high school, though the abundance of masculine energy in the boys’ team combined with my adolescent angst made it a lukewarm experience. I pretty much dropped it all throughout undergrad, then my second year of grad school after a good friend moved away, I thought: hm, maybe now’s the time to pick up a hobby where I can meet people
and release my rage at the cisheteronormative white supremacist patriarchy.
Last night I played in the first round of a USTA sanctioned 3.5 men’s singles tournament. Continue reading
Two truths, one lie: Continue reading
I turn twenty in an hour and a half, and the English major within me wants to explain why I write this blog. In addition to my thoughts on society, books, and pop, this site has always served as a space for me to reflect on my personal life, as you can see from how the traumatic events of this past semester show themselves within my recent writing. Though this thesis might change, I will make it clear, as of today: I write this blog so that it can serve as a place of compassion, for myself and for others. A quick definition of “self-compassion,” provided by professor and researcher Kristin Neff:
As I’ve defined it, self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness – that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate. – Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion.
Two themes run throughout my life: the depth of my emotions and the struggles I have encountered. Continue reading
In high school, I gripped the fat on my stomach and stretched it thin until I could feel the hard, protruding bones of my ribcage. I sat in the basement of my house and flipped from the pages of my Algebra textbook to the threads of pro-anorexia blogs. I still remember the anxiety that struck me every time I walked on a scale, how a single number could reduce my diet that day from two meals to none, from a salad for dinner to a few grapes and no lunch.
Flash forward to this past semester of college. Continue reading