Monday, December 5, 2011

Why My Relationship With My Mom Feels Sour

My relationship with my mom feels very sour. Our relationship is similar to that of a business transaction. My mom cooks for me and I study. When we try to talk about my dream of doing something I love, go traveling, having fun, and hanging out with friends, she doesn’t seem very supportive and seems rather unsympathetic towards my dream. The only thing she seems to care about is how much I’m studying and how well I’m doing on tests. We rarely talk about anything not related to grades, tests, or going to graduate school and getting a nurse practitioner degree. I have told her of my ambitions in life and yet she does not seem interested in my ambitions. My ambitions, goals, and dreams in life of having deep connections with people and living life feeling excitement through the pursuit of adventure is incredibly important to me. These two things are at the heart of what I desire so badly, and when I ask for more freedom to go skiing with my good friend this winter, she plagues me with questions implying that I am too naïve and foolish for thinking I could go skiing with my friend.

She doesn’t trust me. She doesn’t support what I truly want in life. She doesn’t know how much pain I’ve been through in my life. She’s never asked in depth of how I feel about school and what troubles I’ve been going through at school. The only thing school related that she asks me every week is how my grades are and how well I did on quizzes or exams and when she doesn’t see me studying enough on weekends, she complains about how I have really bothered her because she feels like she has to constantly remind me to study, study, and study. It hurts to know that I couldn’t go to my mom or dad to talk about things that were bothering me at school. We never had that relationship and we still don’t. I’ve told my mom that I feel that studying so hard in my life for so long doesn’t seem worth it at times, but she doesn't seem to hear what I am saying. She would reply to something to the effect of, “That’s true, but the thing is…”. And at times, I’ll explain how I feel about things and she will reply by rejecting what I said and reply, “no, no, why do you think like that?”. She seems to be judging me for not studying as hard as my brother does, although my grades from this semester have been up than last two semesters. When I do well on a test, she doesn’t give me a pat on the back or say, “great job” or “I think it’s great that you did so well”. Instead she will just act as if I was supposed to get that A and anything lower, she would complain how I didn’t try hard enough. It’s hard for me to admit this, but besides from doing an excellent job cooking and being physically present, I felt that she wasn’t there emotionally for me all throughout elementary, middle, high school, and college so far. I’ve kind of just realized this.

How I really feel about my mom is that I’m a project of hers. I feel like she thinks, “get him to study hard and get good grades so he can earn lots of money in the future”, and almost everything else that comes with growing up, she wasn’t interested in asking me. In the end, I know she pushes me so hard academically because she wants me to have a good job that pays well so I won’t have to worry financially when I am older. But she has put that on the agenda so far ahead as priority number one that everything else that’s part of growing up like relationships and having fun was shoved to the bottom and rarely ever discussed. This is why my relationship with my mom feels sour. It’s not like a relationship you would see in a Disney movie between a parent and a child. It’s a relationship where our feelings about things were rarely talked about. I do feel like I have trouble expressing my feelings. My relationship with my mom has got me thinking if most teenagers have a sour relationship with their parents. I guess that’s a question I’ll have to ask some of my friends to find out.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Importance of Making Committed Decisions

Think about this sentence, “The worst class you have ever experienced through your twelve plus years of schooling.” Everyone has their own opinion of their worst class experience. There are many tough classes students can take. From simple algebra all the way to calculus, history classes, literature classes, AP classes, to foreign language classes, there are many challenging courses out there. The hardest class students can ever take is one they have no interest in and are uncommitted to doing well in. Calculus, although hard, can be learned as long as we are committed to learning the material. My worst class experience was in eighth grade: band class, sixth period. I will never forget this class.

As I sat in the aisles of the basketball gym with my family, I felt a tingling sensation. Awe and inspiration flooded my body as I saw a hundred band students playing their instruments in near perfect synchronicity. Among the hundred band students, my twin brother, David, played the trumpet. I had heard him play his pieces before in our house, and I would always make jokes about him playing that trumpet. I thought his playing was decent. I would always comment, “eehh, you played okay.” After the recital, I congratulated him on his playing, telling him that I was impressed. Perhaps it was seeing everyone playing their instruments together to make a magical piece come to life that made his playing seem better. Seventh grade was ending soon, and so we had to choose the classes to enroll in for next year. Remembering the awe-inspiring moment during the recital, I wanted to show my brother that I was as good of a musician if not better. I felt an urge to take the band class, and I thought to myself, “If David can do it, so can I.”

Summer ended, and eighth grade began. One school day, the bell rang signifying that sixth period had begun. Waiting in line to enter the class, I looked around at my classmates. I felt like a giant. I realized that the band class I enrolled in was generally taken by sixth and seventh graders. As an eighth grader, I stood out from the crowd of students. I thought that this could be a good thing. As one of the oldest students in this middle school, I thought I could show these little kids what it’s like to be an eighth grader. We had to choose the instrument we would play for the rest of the year. Although I do not remember my band teacher saying it, I knew that choosing an instrument was a very important thing. I wanted to play an instrument that wasn’t extremely popular. I wanted an instrument different from my brother’s.

We had about two weeks to choose our instrument. Those two weeks flew by and I felt like it wasn’t that hard to choose an instrument. “What’s the big deal?” I thought. “All instruments are playable, otherwise they wouldn’t be instruments”, I thought as I convinced myself. I made the decision the last day. I spontaneously chose the most difficult instrument to play, the French Horn. After I put down my decision, the thought of playing the French Horn disappeared from my mind. My band teacher also gave us about two weeks to buy our instruments. Not wanting to wait until the last minute, I went shopping. I knew my dad would want to buy the cheapest instrument possible. Instruments are expensive no doubt, but I failed to realize that expensive instruments are usually of better quality. To my surprise, I found on Ebay a French Horn that was only $99. The standard French Horn is at least a couple thousand dollars. I was somewhat skeptical but looking at the picture online, I thought it would function decently. Without much contemplation, I bought it.

The French Horn arrived a week later and it passed inspection. As the school year went on, we began to learn how to buzz our lips to make noise with our instruments. I only have select memories of the pain I had in this band class. The truth was, throughout the beginning of the school year, I practiced a bit. And when I did practice I was never very committed to it. I remember watching The Simpsons, while attempting to practice my French horn. As you can guess, I spent more time watching, laughing, and making wise-ass comments than practicing. I participated very passively in band class. I was not confident in playing my instrument. Every time I played, I felt like all the sounds that were coming out of my French horn were the same. There was not much difference in pitch and tone between my notes. I felt like I was playing the same note over and over again with a small difference in pitch. I felt embarrassed every time I had to play a small part of a piece in class. I was humiliated and imagined everyone thinking, “Does this guy know how to play?”

I started to hate band class. I loathed the bell ring that signified the end of lunch. I had to join a class where I stood out and felt like I could not play properly while everyone else had already begun to master their instruments. In spite of not being able to play, after I got home I still barely practiced, except when there were a few days left before a performance quiz. The performance quiz was a test where we had to play a particular piece in front of the class when the teacher chose us. I only practiced a couple of days before we were going to have a performance quiz. In other words, I practiced only when I had to and it was short and infrequent.

Half way through the school year, a brilliant idea came to me. I noticed that a few of my classmates were getting their instruments fixed. My French horn had some broken parts that needed repair. These were small cracks and disconnections. I told my teacher that I was getting my instrument fixed, and not having my instrument, I just sat there watching and listening to other students playing. This gave me some relief. I knew that if I didn’t have my instrument because of a legitimate reason, there would be no way the teacher could call on me to play my instrument and to feel embarrassed. My method of avoiding playing and embarrassment worked for about a month. Obviously, this would not last. By this time everyone else was playing magnificently well, while I tried playing at home, and it sounded horrible. I was too far behind, and I felt as if it would be impossible to catch up now. What could I do? What were my options? Every time I picked up my French horn in attempt to practice, I would always sit there imagining the pain of being embarrassed in class in front of sixth and seventh graders. I did not know what to do.

One day, I do not remember the exact date- although in hindsight I wish I did- there were a few minutes of lunch left. I imagined the pain of being embarrassed in class again. It was a performance quiz day. I hated being embarrassed, and I loathed being stuck in my chair unable to escape from such impending doom. The bell rang. Lunch was over. This one day I knew I had reached my pain threshold. It was not a rational decision. I knew I could not go to class. I went into the bathroom stall, locked it, and waited for the final bell to ring that signified that sixth period had started. I waited in the bathroom stall a bit longer. I knew now that there was no turning back. I would not go to class. I ditched. I waited until everyone was in their classrooms, walked out the bathroom pretending to be pacing quickly to my class which I was late for, and snuck out the gates of my middle school.

As I crossed the street from my school across to the suburban neighborhood, I felt such a huge relief. I was not in class, and I had escaped from that class. It was a sunny day. I remember looking up at the beautiful blue skies as I walked away from the school with my dark green backpack on, blowing a breath of air slowly from my mouth. I wasn’t sure where I would go, but I knew I was happier wandering the suburban streets of my neighborhood than in band class. I walked and kept track of my time with a watch. I was only ditching my sixth period band class. I had a seventh period English class to attend which was a class I actually enjoyed. After that first day, I would repeat those same actions every single day to ditch my band class. I ditched band class for three months. I was surprised I was never caught.

It was first period and I was in science class. The teacher’s phone rang, and my science teacher informed me that I was to report to the office. I didn’t know about what- yet. I remember walking there slowly, wondering what they would call me to the office about, hoping that it wasn’t about my recent absences in sixth period. However, the previous day, my ditching did not go as planned and I ended up missing seventh period as well. The lady at the front desk asked me directly, “Why didn’t you go to class seventh period yesterday?” I replied dejectedly with a random excuse, “Oh, I didn’t finish my homework so I didn’t go to that class.” She sent me to see the Assistant principal. I stood there, knowing I had been caught, but only for yesterday’s one time ditching of seventh period. My mom was informed of my ditching. I sat there at the desk zoning out. I was imagining what my mom’s response was going to be and what the consequences for my actions would be. All these questions were now apparent. These questions did not enter my mind when I was ditching. Now I had to face them. I sat there and upon contemplation, I decided spontaneously that I was going to tell the assistant principle of my sixth period absences. I remember my seventh period English teacher sitting there talking to me about how she felt she could have done a better job giving me the attention I needed to deal with problems. I appreciate her doing that in hindsight because my English teacher did it in a very soft, caring attitude. I remember crying that day about everything that I had been through and all the stress I had. I felt a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders.

I learned very important life skills from this experience. Many times, especially guys, we feel that we have to deal with problems ourselves, and that we have to deal with them in a manly way. I realized that it is okay to ask for help about anything that is causing you stress and discomfort. After admitting my episodes of ditching, I was dropped from band class formally and I did not have to hide anymore. I also learned that it is very important to make careful, well-thought decisions about anything that will impact your future life to a significant degree. Any significant decision that will affect your future circumstance, must be a committed and realistic decision. Honestly question your commitment. Realize the effort you will have to put in if you agree to take a certain class. When deciding the classes I wanted to take, I should have consciously contemplated the requirements I would need to put in, in order to succeed in the class. After thinking about the effort I would need to put in, I would have to ask myself honestly if I am committed enough to do what it takes to be successful in that class. Do I have enough time to practice at least one hour every day? Am I willing to put in that effort to practice one hour every day? And lastly, I learned not to leave these decisions to the last minute. Take care of important issues and decisions when there is time. If we do not take the time to carefully think about the decisions we make and how these decisions will affect our future lives, we will very likely end up hating something that is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.

Why do my Parents have such a hard time understanding why i want to have the freedom in my future to have fun, go on adventures, and do what I love?

     My dad said, “Hard work is necessary and there is no such thing as freedom”. I understand his point of view because his life as he grew up could be described as studying and more studying. He had to go through years of schooling that studying hours every day was absolutely necessary to get to where he is today. That is how his generation grew up thinking and doing. He attended Taiwan’s top college, graduated with two degrees: chemical engineering and computer science, and received a Phd in computer science. Of course he had to spend hours every day studying. From what he said, it seems like students in Taiwan literally had no social life. Their entire day consisted of studying. Their lifestyle as students was waking up at 5 in the morning to go to school, studying at the library, go to tutoring class, do more homework until the early morning hours and sleep for a few hours. His generation had to do that 5 days a week and I’m sure weekends were not much different than the weekdays. Not to mention that their schools there are from 7 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon and they had hours of math problems to do as evidenced by their ability to solve math problems quickly and accurately.

     With my mom, she worked hard all the way through high school. However, in college she says she did not study hard, goofed off, got to have her share of fun, and did not do well academically. Yet she can’t seem to understand that I desire to have fun, and live a more exciting life, especially when all my life has been focused around studying and I haven’t had much excitement in my life. Yes I understand that I have an opportunity to become a RN that many other people in state schools want to get into. I understand that I have an opportunity here. As much as I know I have this opportunity, I can’t say that I love the nursing job itself. I am mostly doing it for the benefits that the travel nursing career has. I feel from the research I’ve done on the travel nursing career that being a travel nurse, I can go explore, on adventures when I am working my 13 weeks assignment and that after the 13 week assignment, I can take a month off, to go traveling and really focus on traveling, going on adventures, really focus on adventure hobbies, and meeting people and connecting with others. If travel nursing did not have the time off and three work days a week, I would not be in the nursing career. Nursing career does pay decently well, but if it were not for the free time I could get with this career, I would not be in nursing school right now.    

     I don’t have that much of a problem with working hard academically. I have a problem with what I am able to do during school breaks. I want more freedom to be able to go skiing with my friends, to hang out with my friends without my mom constantly treating me like I am a naïve little kid who is unaware of the potential dangers out there. I want them to trust me more with what I want to do in my life.

What Do You Think About When You are Alone? Saturday; December 3, 2011

     Yesterday as I was walking my dog around 8 pm at night through the dimly lighted streets of my neighborhood, I thought to myself why I seem to have such a hard time expressing how I really feel about things. Perhaps it is because society preaches guys to be tough and not to show feelings of vulnerability. Perhaps it is because men are afraid that if we show pain about something we are hurting about, we will be made fun of. In my writings, I seem to know who I am in the deepest ways possible but as I was walking home today, I felt that if my friend asked me this question of the day, I would struggle expressing who I really am and what I really want to do in my life. I guess I need to practice expressing my feelings more.

     So what do I think about when I am alone? When I am not focused on school work, a majority of the time I read articles that I feel will help me achieve my dreams and goals. What are my dreams? After watching the lion king, I discovered that I am infatuated with developing and having strong, deep, and close relationships with people and living a life full of excitement through the pursuit of adventures. There’s a quote from Joseph Campbell that sums it up perfectly: "People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. ... I think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive." A sense of being alive and being able to share that feeling with people I feel a deep connection with is what I desire at the core of my soul. 

     So much of my life so far has been the opposite of these two major things I desire so badly. Walking home today, I felt that deep down, something was killing me. There were no major thoughts that were disturbing me so my mind was empty, but as I kept walking, I felt something bothering me. In the past I could never put exactly put a finger on it. But now, thanks to the lion king, I do know. I know what is bugging me, but I am not able to do anything about it right now. It kills me deep down. These two things are such important things to me yet I am not able to focus on them as much as I’d like right now. I want to develop deeper and closer relationships with people yet I don’t have the time to practice right now. Doing well in nursing school requires a lot of hard work and time. Going on adventures takes money and time. Both of which I don’t have right now. You could say  that the travel nursing career is something that potentially might be able to give me the time and money down the road to do these two things, but as of this present moment, I’m stuck feeling helpless. It bugs me that other people who are goofing off and having fun, get to have fun. What if all my hard work and effort put in to succeed academically doesn’t get me the freedom, the time off to learn how to connect deeper with others, and enough money and time to pursue adventures? What if it turns out that I am working a job that I don’t enjoy doing? One that earns a good amount of money just so I can spend on things I don’t really want or need and have so little time to do what I actually want in life? All that hard work in school for a future I won’t be excited about? The people that goof off right now seem to have many friends, I don’t know how close, and seem to enjoy their life. While I’m here adhering to the plan my parents always preached to me about working hard and getting good grades. It’s no fun. I really hope studying hard and getting into a career into nursing will pay off in the end. I hope I will have the time and money to go on adventures and have the time and money to learn how to develop deep and close relationships with people.  

Why I Love The Lion King And How It Changed My Life

     A Disney movie has changed my life. After watching the lion king in 3d when it came out in September this year, I went home sitting on the couch feeling a void. Something was missing and it seemed like a part of my soul was missing. I thought why I felt like this. Why would this movie make me feel like something was missing in my life? Something deep down, something I’ve wanted all my life. This was not the first time I was thinking this question and it was not the first time I felt this way either. Life felt pointless. What was the meaning to life? I grew up in a very academically focused neighborhood. My parents always told me that doing well in school was important. "Get a high paying job, or your life won't be easy" was something they frequently told me. I could understand what they meant. My parents were raising three kids and our needs were high. How do you get a high paying job? Get good grades they told me. To do this, all throughout middle school and high school, I had hours of homework and studying for tests and the much loathed SATs. My life was boring. Life was mostly focused around studying for topics like English and Calculus, and these topics do not appeal to me one bit. Watching The Lion King in 3D temporarily made me feel the excitement and zest for life young Simba had in the "I Can't Wait to be King" song. Listening and watching that scene, I felt the excitement Simba had for life, his excitement for exploring, going on adventures, and having fun. For that moment, I could live vicariously through that song and feel the freedom and adventure young Simba desired.

The other huge factor that contributed to my feeling of being unhappy with life was my lack of strong, deep, and close connections with people. Growing up, I was shy. Being shy did not help me form many friendships. And the friendships I did have were superficial. With those friends I had, we would never talk about anything deep. It was usually small talk and lighter topics. We didn't talk about any topics that were more meaningful, so my friendships were superficial and lacking meaning. I am in college now and I would have to say that most of my relationships with my "friends" are shallow. I have only had three or four close friends in my life and only one I can see consistently now because, two are at colleges too far away from my university and the other one is in the Navy now. After listening to the song, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" in the Lion King, I felt a void in my soul created by a lack of deep and meaningful relationships in my life. I felt lonely. I knew people, had supposed "friends", but yet I felt like I had an abyss in my soul. 

I never would have guessed that a Disney movie would help me realize what I truly want in my life. But I am truly glad The Lion King did. The Lion King will forever hold a special place in my heart. Now to make my two dreams of developing deep, close, meaningful relationships in my life and living life feeling alive through the pursuit of adventures and hobbies/activities that excite and inspire me, a reality.      


What This Blog is All About

This blog is dedicated to capturing my experiences in life. I will document my thoughts and feelings regarding the areas of pain in my life. I will document my life stories, who I am all about, and my opinions to deep power questions. I will discuss the problems I have in my life and how I can overcome them. In many ways, this is a personal diary of what and how I think and feel/felt growing up and journeying through life. I want to be able to look back on these posts years from now and remember how i felt about things and looked at life. I hope I can impart my experiences as a source of comfort for those feeling similarly as i do, learn from my experiences, or even learn things from others that I may not know yet.