Guinness and Growth (and How I’ve Grown Into Myself)

“I feel like you’ve really come into your own,” a friend said as I sipped on a Guinness.

There I was, standing in a room full of party-headed alcohol-infused adults as a Berkeley graduate student attempted to swoon me for my number.

Some things never change. I like to see change as a matter of growth as I find that all humans naturally have an inner core to themselves that never quite changes. We have our natural behaviors and mannerisms and niches; and our upbringings influence how we go about cultivating them. Growing up is just a means of growing into yourself.

After three years of being away from home for college–except for the mere holiday visits and occasional summer staycations–I still find leaving home difficult.

Call it the small-town sentimental girl inside of me, but I’ve always been one of those girls who was immensely aware of her surroundings. I grew up learning by example of the experiences of my older brothers; I watched and found comfort in my single mother; I befriended those who walked into my life, interested in the person they were; and I was motivated by the lives of individuals who I would meet in music, film and even student organizations. I took after influences who I could see a piece of myself in; and I formed my identity and understanding of myself around what interested me.

I’ve spent a majority of my last week at home reconnecting with long lost friends whom I’ve created genuine memories with in the past. Meeting with an old friend period just takes you into a rush of memories as you catch each other up on where you have been, where you have gone and how you are feeling now–hopeful, excited or anxious about the future. These periods are also times of great and deep reflection, as you realize how far you’ve come and yet to come. Something about having such genuine and real connections with people you’ve known in your past brings light to the inner core of what has always made you you. You realize just how much you have grown from the person you once were and still are; and possibly how that can inspire others.

Scarfing down another bite of my craft service with a friend, I recalled a quote another dear friend of mine told me upon entering college: “High school is where you find yourself; college is where you define yourself.”

Ever hear of that saying that you see different parts of yourself in other people?

I’ve found that people bring different lights into your life; you feel different ways around different people; how you react to others and how they make you feel help you realize what you may or may not like in yourself. We begin to grow these new understandings of ourselves the more we learn from being with others.

For me, music was my first real love. When I first picked up my guitar and played with such a childlike ease and grace, I knew I found something. My years of cultural dancing also taught me that I have a knack for rhythm, and my writing allowed me to have a voice where I otherwise would not know how to express or find myself.

Entering college, all I knew was that I wanted to play music and write. That was all my life ever was before. My talking with and connecting with musicians started from such a naive mindset, as I simply wanted to meet the ones who inspired me to write, to play, and get up there to have the confidence to do what makes me feel alive. The more I became acquainted with these individuals, I began to see how these ‘dreams’ were slowly becoming ‘reality’ and these people were people just like me. I started to grow my own sense of self and identity–aside from being that “girl who loves Meg & Dia” or “girl who plays all those cover songs”–and I was beginning to tell my own story.

Taking my first stab at music journalism was my only real and authentic way of connecting with the same very musicians who inspired me to do my own music. I started off a fan. I intimately learned the ropes of the industry ever since I was twelve-years-old. And I found that my genuine connection and love of music allowed me to write compelling and interesting stories about these musicians who I could find a piece of myself in–whether it was Meg & Dia, chatting with Kina Grannis, vibing with Yuna, talking with Dante Basco or even Tyler Hoechlin.

Something always led me back to music.

As one who always quietly observed the world and sought to find her own sense of expression–through whatever means felt natural–I began to find myself and confidence in others. It all started with my being influenced and seeing myself in others. It then led to my becoming the person I knew I was all along.

All it ever really was, was about having the courage to be honest to your own heart, your own mind, and your very own hearing ears. And in this world, it takes courage to be true to your own.



One response to “Guinness and Growth (and How I’ve Grown Into Myself)

  1. I’ll admit that I haven’t read one of your pieces since you wrote the best article I’ve ever read on Kina Grannis. But this article being about YOU drew my attention and I was not disappointed. You either have a gift, are just THAT passionate, or both.

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