I never realized how important vacations are until I actually take them. Switzerland and Paris were, in short, eye opening. 2 weeks of being in a completely different place away from everything, the day to day life, the people I’m used to, the work, was just what I needed. I watched and observed really closely who my parents are, how they interacted, how I felt, how I interacted with them and others around me, and came up with quite a few realizations. And who would I be if didn’t “soul search”, right?
1) On my thought process & my view of myself: Throughout the whole trip, I paid pretty close attention to my own thoughts. Here’s what I realized. Negative thinking about the world and myself pretty much consumed me. It’s pretty subtle (but it manifested in not so subtle ways) and the thing about it is that I’m so used to it that it was almost.. normal. It wasn’t until I was taken out of my day to day that I could listen better to my thoughts, and I realize this type of thinking drove my anxiety and stress. And so then I thought, dang, I’ve wasted so much time, SO much time, thinking this way. How many opportunities did I pass up and how many people did I hurt/did I close myself up from as a result of this type of thing? And how much unnecessary anxiety have I “endured” because of this?
2) On my view of God: Did you know that I didn’t think He’s actually good? I didn’t either. It’s weird but I discovered that deep down I don’t trust or believe that He wants what’s best for me and that if I am actually happy that He would take things away from me, right away. Like I’m not allowed to be attached to anything or anyone because if I do, then I would be doing something wrong and He’s a jealous God, right? Or that He wants to see me suffer because there is just so many theologies that I’ve heard recently that says suffering is good, so then therefore I think that God wants me to suffer so that He can teach me.. something. Like if I wasn’t suffering then I am not being a “good enough Christian”, like there is actually such a thing. I think this is part of the reason why I’ve kinda been avoiding Him. He’s one of the most important things in my life, but I never realized that these subtle unbeliefs about His character was and is also in that relationship with Him. Confused? I know I am.
3) On relationships with parents: Not having my dad around for 10 years caused me to have to rebuild the relationship. Walls were built up around my heart against him and everything that he did wrong in my eyes confirms my decision to shut him out. That’s what happens when you go into it already with a negative mindset.. until this trip. So there was this one day that I snapped at him and.. he got really quiet. There was actually hurt in his eyes and that’s when I realized that my words affect him very much. Like I do matter. So then the rest of the trip I tried to shut out the negative voices and really listen to my dad. The conclusion?
I am loved.
I’m loved I’m loved I’m loved! How did I not hear this before, when he calls me at 10 at night asking me whether I am home, or when he calls me before I come home for the weekend asking what I want to eat so he can cook for me? Or when he tries to get to know God because he knows that He’s a big part of my life. So I think this realization is making me a lot… calmer. Like I don’t have too much to prove anymore and now I can NOT do things out of fear, but out of faith.
So then? So then I struggle through this more, to keep the good things and memories close to my heart, and to work through the negatives so that I can be free. I think the next few years are going to be pretty crucial for this, kinda like a second childhood. If you believe in prayer, please pray for me, and if you don’t, think good thoughts for me.
Being myself is something that I have struggled with for the longest time. There was a sermon at church that talks about how a lot of times people ask what they should do - whether to pursue this job, to go here, there, etc- but then the speaker goes.. instead of doing that, we should focus on who God created us to be.
Sounds so simple, but so difficult to do.
At work, for example, the failure to do so have cost others to not think too highly of me- because the fear that holds me back causes me to not speak my mind.. this stupid timidity that I hate so much but I can’t get rid of.
My friend who is becoming one of my mentor figures said to me that my life is like American idol and in my head I have to perform to be perfect. And that I put obstacles in front of the things that I love to do because ..I don’t even know why. It’s almost like a form of self hatred… I’ve been realizing. And I need to stop.
So here’s my first lame attempt to embrace who I am. Maybe when I write it out I can then start being okay with it.
I am Dianne an Asian American Woman quiet but sarcastic fighter A product of hardworking, strong, protective mother and a kind, yet absent father
who loves family to sing to dance to think to listen to others’ stories to write to express herself to travel to learn
who believes in the possibility of a relationship with God Healing miracles the goodness of people an ideal world and the responsibility of everyone to contribute
who is sometimes insecure angry unhappy with herself too emotional too caught up in her past scared that other people will stop loving her for being too much or being imperfect but
still wants to fight for those who are oppressed speak for those who can’t speak for themselves see that this world heals from all the pain it got itself into
Who will try very hard to stop believing the lies try very hard to be okay with my mistakes try very hard to be okay with not being the best
And who will start living as if I exist on purpose.. flaws and all.
If you remember from my most recent post, I was basically itching to do… something to make the world a better place. Finally decided a few weeks ago to take a small step and join a friend of mine in helping to build a safe house in the Philippines for human trafficking victims that have been rescued. It’ll be a place where girls can start build positive image of themselves, for them to learn skills that will be useful so that they don’t have to sell themselves, for them to finally to understand their worth in God’s eyes.
Let me explain. Within the next few weeks, two of my good friends are moving to Washington DC. One I expected since a while ago, the other took me by surprise and almost made me cry when I heard about it. My friend from Sacramento has just come to visit and left again. She seems to be doing well and I’m very glad. My friend from work is quitting and pursuing his dream of becoming a psychiatrist. Another friend is now on a visioning trip to Southeast Asia about starting a non-profit there and figuring out strategically how to partner with people to combat human trafficking. Then I hear about people that graduated who are moving on to bigger and greater things.
Don’t get me wrong. I am so grateful for where I am right now. Very comfortable yet challenging place to be in. I’m learning new things every day and meeting new people everyday as well.
But in the back of my head I’m still wondering if this is where I’m supposed to be.. and if there is anything else I could do or pursue that could help me find I guess.. my purpose in life. I read about and actually KNOW people who have built schools in foreign countries, fight for those who are powerless, feed those who are hungry, give safe spaces to those who have never felt so, and I wonder why I am not doing any of these things. Maybe it’s fear of losing myself in these causes, maybe it’s just laziness, or maybe they are just too big and I don’t know where to start.
My friend once told me. Think about where I want to be 5 years from now- what I want to be like.. who I want to be. I’m 22 years old. God, please don’t let me end here.
Talked about climbing the ladder and chasing goals today. Asked a question: until when do I need to do this? When will I know that I have arrived? You’ll never arrive, my friend says. You should always look for something bigger and better. I was struggling with this concept for the longest time and couldn’t pinpoint why. I wanted to continue to discuss it but I couldn’t find the words.
Then I was reminded… I mean… Hasn’t that always been my problem? My constant need to prove that I can? Constant need to be perfect? Now, the question is- Is it possible to be motivated but yet at the same time not be as worried or stressed about every little thing? Is it possible to appreciate my accomplishments but still strives to do the best that I can?
There is this book that my high school English class made- a compilation of all the students’ writing. Someone made a haiku that describes everyone in class and for me she wrote something like
There is Dianne She is in line next Trying to be perfect
The fact that my high school friend wrote that about me means that this has been something I’ve struggled with for a LONG time. For as long as I remember- Ive always been the girl who strives to be the best- super competitive- wanting to do everything perfectly. I always thought that there IS such a thing as perfection- and that thing is absolutely not who I am. Always striving, I wasn’t really fun to be around. Worrying was like my best friend, and nervousness was right next to it.
Perhaps it came from the immigrant experience- My mom has made tremendous sacrifices for me to be here- so I have to do something to pay her back. Perhaps it’s the only child syndrome-I can’t accept that I’m not at least up to par with other people. Perhaps its my insecurities- trying to cover something that I’m lacking by excelling at many many things. Then it dawned on me that no matter how I got it.. my perfectionistic tendencies are completely driven by fear of not being loved. In college, I went through a period where I was taking way too much on and I felt like- if I became paralyzed, if I was no longer able to help people, then will I still be loved? I think that’s the question that I’m ultimately is trying to answer.. Can I be valuable apart from what I do?
It’s a coincidence that this week I’m reading this one section of “More than Serving Tea” -a book for Asian American women who wants to embrace how Jesus has made them to be- a section called “Perfectionistic Tendencies”. It’s in our culture to be always striving for perfection, but the author mentioned that I need to be able to rest in the fact that God made me who I am for a reason and that I need to accept myself like He accepts me. And the author goes on to say that there is a difference between being a perfectionist and in pursuit of excellence. One of which is driven by fear and the other by faith.
Perfectionist Idealistic Strives for the Impossible Fears failure Dwells on mistakes Values self by what they do
Pursuit of Excellence Realistic Strives for the doable Anticipates success Learns from mistakes Values self for who they are
I should pursue excellence. And then perhaps this Dianne is in line next trying to be perfect
can finally find rest. This has been a life long battle, but if there is one that I won’t lose, let this be the one.
I started a new job today at Edison - under the leadership of a new manager and under a different division. Moved because there is a better chance of getting a full time job at that division than if I stayed at my old one. So totally cried when I found out that I’m going to be moved because I was going to miss everyone SO much from my division… totally grew up there and it felt like i wasn’t ready to move on. So the perception of moving on was totally dark and emo..
BUT ANYWAYS reality kicked in and here’s what I found out about my new job now:
1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my new manager =) It’s like I’ve adopted him to be my new uncle who I not only respect for his work but we just get along SO well from the start, personality wise. He’s done a REMARKABLE job transitioning me into his team so I hit the ground running today because I actually understood what I was doing. Woot. =)
2. Transition was a little easier than I thought it would be. Courtesy of my new manager who has included me in transition meetings over KBBQ and starbucks coffee. There is this guy who sits across from us who is a HUGE fan of UCLA, so I’m excited for our conversations for SURE. ALSO my friends that are over in the new division definitely made me feel welcome =) They already started bugging me now that I’m there and helping me as well. Gotta love ‘em.
3. The project that we’re working on is ACTUALLY exciting =) I love that it’s going to help a lot of people and be valuable to the company. <3 <3 <3 it.
On a slightly different note, when I prayed about opportunities I prayed that God would place me somewhere where I could change lives. We’ll see what will happen… As in we’ll see what WILL happen not what might happen.
On the last post, I expressed that I’ve been realizing it’s nice to have people around who you can count on and so on, and kinda sorta decided to take a dare a friend of mine set for me earlier this summer (Oh yea, during this one campfire session on the last day of my Christian fellowship camp, we all sat around and did a truth or dare Christian style, which means pretty much like the title except that you dare people to actually change their lives and you tell truth about someone who encourages them)___ to find a community that I can grow with seriously. So in an attempt to do that I’m also attempting to forewarn myself that sometimes belonging to a group, or the desire to belong to a group is also dangerous because this mysterious power that a mass of people have on an individual.
Have you ever tried so hard to fit in with a group of people that you try talking like them, walking like them, laughing at the same jokes (that you REALLY don’t think is so funny), and even bending your beliefs and values to their standard? It’s like youre so desperate that the slightest disagreement is something that you don’t ever want to have- coz God forbid they won’t like you anymore and somehow you become an exile of their “community”. and whats SCARY is that you think it MUST be you, NEVER them. And have you ever had that one friend who you can talk to about anything and everything and you trust her SO much coz she only wants the best of you - that ONE friend is starting to hate the group of people coz she can see how much they’re changing you into this person who is so afraid and so agreeable all the time but its like fake agreeableness because all the voice that you had in the world and all your energy is spent trying to figure out what the hell you’ve done wrong once conflicts arise. The group becomes your God, and shit happens, really smelly shit, when you let other things that’s not god becomes the center of your life.
And instead of the ball of compassion who loves, you become this- desperate, disempowered… web of insecurities.
And so yah, coz pastor Kyle (the pastor I wanted to choke below but really am so grateful for) is a man of lists and steps (ALL of his sermons this weekend went like this.. there are 3 steps on how you could…), I’m gonna attempt to forewarn myself by creating a list of things that I have decided would be a good one to look for in a community. Maybe consider this also a prayer to God asking for these things.
1. I need a group of people who will encourage me to be who I am and accept me.. as I am. It must come with being this type A personality who wants to be perfect all the time and who has this ideal “me” in my head that I’m always trying to be someone that i THINK i want to be- but doing that feeds your self hatred because that’s killing whoever that God has created you to be. So I need an avenue to express myself -usually that’s through music or writing or praying. So a community that’s strong in music, prayer, and creative expressions but is accepting of people who aren’t. Hmm. I like that.
2. I need a group of people who will challenge me to do things i’m afraid of doing, but they’ll do it together with me. A pastor friend has this caption at the bottom of his email saying “do something every day that scares you”. I believe it, because that’s the only thing you’ll grow out of your comfort zone, and that leads to growing up as a person.
3. I need an honest community where things aren’t covered up and gossips aren’t spread around. I’d rather people just come up to me and say directly, dianne i hate the way you do this, than finding out after the fact when my reputation is already scarred because of a misunderstanding or some little things that couldve been resolved otherwise. It hurts to find that out and that decreases trust.. and trust needs to happen for a real friendship and real changes to happen.
4. I need a community that is passionate about people’s well being (not just social justice type of work but also mentorship type of work and individual well being), showing mercy, compassion, and kindness to people that society doesn’t usually like, without care of their own reputation being associated with them (not just the homeless and the poor, but also the “socially awkward” and the “uncool”). I want to grow in those characteristics and I need people to show me how.
5. I need a community that teaches me how to have a voice, a community that empowers me.
So I guess then that’s it for now. A pretty simple list, i’d say, but if you have any suggestions as to what I should add or if you want to talk to me about this or if you think you have a community you can show me, give me a holler. What’s fo sho is that I would need prayers and God to help me find something like this, so prayer is mucho appreciated. Woot. Here goes.
It’s been really hard for me lately to write down my thoughts in this blog or talk it out to people, and I’m not quite sure for what reason. A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep because it was super hot and I was awaiting the long awaited retreat- so my mind wondered about things like the future (the 2500 characteristics I want in the boyfriend, who the bridesmaids are, san diego weather), work(checklists, checklists, checklists) and what i’m going to eat today (buffet, cup of noodles, souplantation..) and for some reason I ended with pondering what the purpose of this blog really is for me.
So some people use their blogs to raise awareness about issues they care about, some use it to express their feelings, some use it for plain advertisements. So I looked through my blog and all I could see was whine whine whine waa waa waa i need this i hate that emoness shed tears here (hence you don’t find those posts here anymore because out of disgust i deleted them all) and I’m just like.. gee. Is that REALLY me? Am I REALLY sounding FIVE every time I write a blog entry? MY god. Shut up Dianne, really. Your life isn’t that hard. And so I decided that from now on, I will only post up things that really would be beneficial for other people to know or read or if people can relate to things (like no one really needs to know my internal dialogue once a cute boy approaches me and asks me out unless i could relate it to other girls out there, which I will do in later posts about inner workings of girls’ minds- but not now).
But at the same time that brought me to another problem because I have been realizing that duh the traveling salesman post and the super not making sense houze poem is a scream of my unconsciousness and things that are not necessarily resolved in my life and duh the other shorter posts are more direct screams because my friends are all spread out and its harder to go call Julia or Tracy or Stacey to pour my heart out. So I just lick my own wound, calm myself down and try very hard to be a big girl but at the same time hoping that someone would come across the post and say ‘hey, are you okay?’
I hate that about myself- that I even need someone to ask how I’m doing. I should be self fucking sufficient and should be tough like Superman who dont need no sidekick or nobody helping her. Because being emotional is so often associated with weakness and I’m quite the emotional one- i mean, shit, nobody wants to be the emo one out of the crowd. And mind you, that is what the world tells us- is that you should NEVER share your emotions with others because you will be a burden, and that you should isolate yourself in the bathroom stall when you wanna cry because you dont wanna cause any scenes or worse, face the ACTUAL problem. And so what used to be deep conversations with people just becomes blog posts or is simply kept inside. I was getting used to it- getting colder and colder by the moment. I guess the distance and being away from a community has been making me more of an iceberg me since graduation. I’m finding it easier and easier to shrug pain off, or give others the smile again that I used to give people my freshman year of college or the silent treatment when I’m angry or just run away from everything. Easier to be “strong” by the world’s standard, to keep the ugliness inside and put on a mask.
But who are we kidding.
Today, the pastor talked about community and how people need people and i wanted to choke him because damn it he can read my mind (not really, I was more like, wow this is why God gave me the strong feeling to not ditch his sermon today). Then this weekend I also met awesome people at the retreat who reinforces that its so nice to actually have a community- to belong somewhere. Then to top it all off I was talking to Leiman Who Changes Lives about some recent events and I just started bawling out of frustration about a whole mess of things that I havent mentioned to anyone and being the good friend that he is, he goes it’s okay that you’re frustrated, he said, you’re trying your best to love other people.
I hated that it felt GOOD and calming to me- that I needed someone to do that for me. That I really do need people and God wasnt kidding when He said it aint good for man to be by him(her)self. That there is still the little girl inside of me that is still hypersensitive and needs some kind of a safe space to bawl and be herself _ and today thanks to the pastor and spec kids and LeimanThatChangesLives I’m realizing that perhaps it’s good for me to be with people again, so that there is less of a need to post random ass posts from the subconscious that I end up deleting anyway. And more importantly, so I can grow, so that I don’t run away from problems, and actually become a better person, so that ultimately the icebergme would melt and all that is left will be compassion and love for others. Because if youre plugged in the right community this is what it should help you become- a ball of compassion who loves.
And so here I go. Because I want to be a different person the next time I look back at this post.
I haven’t been in community worshipping with other people in years now (with the exception of summer con). So I freaked the hell out before entering the church… Will I be shunned? Will this lead to drama later on down the road? Not to mention that I didn’t really know anyone there at all, with the exception of one person.
The message: was about grief and how it’s good to mourn and to let go of those pain and hurt that the world tells you to hide a lot of times. Lots of crying happened during worship as a result of the message. It wasn’t because I was sad or … mourning per say, but I was crying mostly because I realized how much I missed God. I felt the closest to him in my first and second years and I remembered how much He comforted me throughout the tough times, and now it’s as if I lost that dependency on Him because things are going okay. I want to be able to talk to Him like homies again like I used to and I think it was good that I realized that today.
The worship: Was amazing. Music is so important to me because that’s how I connect with God most easily. And I can say that I am very satisfied. I miss the worship team and maybe one day I could serve as a singer again.
Old friend New friend: Saw my old friend. I was SO happy about that.. Looks like I belong more than I thought I did. =) Then had lunch with a new friend. I never told him this but I’m super encouraged by how much he’s starting to seek God. Proves to me that God answers prayers.
Another highlight: Went to Harvest today. Chris Tomlin started singing in Indonesian. For the first time in a while I was able to sincerely pray for my Dad to know God.
We’ll see. I still got lots of things to figure out.
“Christianity is not about sets of values, the way of living, or sets of beliefs, it’s about a relationship between you and God, Your Dad, The creator of the Universe.”—My landlord. Talk to me if you want to ponder more about this together.
A letter from an affectionate Uncle - on God's character.
To anticipate the Enemy’s strategy, we must consider His aims. The Enemy wants to birng the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being anymore or less or otherwise glad at having it done he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoce in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour’s talents- or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures, even himself, as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long term- policy I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self love- a charity and gratitute for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours. For we must never forget what is the most repellent and inexplicable trait in our Enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created and alwyays gives back to them with His right what He has taken away with His left…
Remember always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on he distinctness of every one of them. When He talks about their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.
There is a difference between believing in God and trusting in Him. There used to be a point in my life where I could honestly say that in faith I would’ve done anything He told me to do, when His voice mattered the most, when my heart so freely loved Him and other people without reservations. But of course with every journey to get closer to Him there will always be oppositions that makes you jaded or doubt or just angry.
JUST Today. Dinner #1: At mentorship event- rice& pad see you. Dinner #2: Mc Donald’s dollar nuggets and fries Dinner #3: Fried Rice given by my landlord. Dinner #4: Life Plaza outing- friend calamari & soup.