2017, you were a beast.
You were a roller coaster of emotions; a constant change of minds, situations and fleeting events; new faces in familiar places; new homes, towns, unspoken words, feelings and some of my greatest and most humbling strides.
For two years prior, I had felt a relentless state of stagnation. The postgrad blues got to me; I fulfilled the barista itch in me only then to hang up the apron; and I finally moved, just like I said I would in 2017.
At the beginning of the year, I told myself I wasn’t going to wait. I’d make the conscious effort to make things happen — all those lofty dreams that were just ideas in my head and things I said I’d do but still hadn’t. There was this burning curiosity in me (and “Signs from the Universe”) to return to Southern California because I felt I had left this huge network and lots of untapped potential after graduation. I took a 10-day solo getaway trip after quitting my job last December which was pure confirmation that I had left a home there (and as much as I loved the Bay Area, finding work up here was hard).
The new year was also when a dear friend told me #boldrachel was coming out.
At the start of 2017, I was beginning to open myself up to a love. It was seven or so months of unexpected talking, meeting and falling for someone whom I never expected to fall for at a time in my life when I wasn’t looking, was focused on myself and itching for my own personal change.
And when it became so easy and natural and our relationship progressed right before my eyes, I was shocked. My heart was so full. My eyes lit up. I became so smitten that I had to ask myself: Should I keep my cool? Should I stay at a distance? Do I ask where this is going? How did I even begin to like this guy?! (“Love Says, Timing Is Everything”)
But as this uncertain love was unfolding, so was my own growth.
March and my birth month turned into this messy acceptance of a relationship that was going nowhere and a career that needed to go somewhere (“Road to 24: Confessions from the Head and the Heart”).
I went gung-ho into my old love of covering concerts and interviewing artists again — the start of weeks and back to back months of concerts and shows as I built up a repertoire of Bay Area concert venues to hit. And while the music journo in me came back again — to which I will admit came from a sense of restlessness to work and chase something I was passionate about again — so did this looming sense of uncertainty and uneasiness that spilled into different areas of my life.
But that isn’t to say 2017 was all a struggle. I had so many happy and exciting moments happen: I went on a midweek Vegas getaway with my bff; made my first Tahoe road trip and saw snow for the first time; committed to my running and made strides in my personal mileage; had my #iceteam; went to 43+ shows in the past year; finally moved to SoCal on my own; worked a hell of an internship at Kore Asian Media and got published in our annual magazine “The New Hollywood” with the opportunity to photoshoot, interview and assist celebrities like Karrueche Tran, Ross Butler, Mitski, Grace Park and Jo Koy; finally met and connected with Apl De Ap after years of Instagram talking; met Naomi Scott; befriended a new musician who was incredibly grateful for my spirit and interview questions; and I found the love in my heart again… The list goes on and on!
But with all those experiences came my biggest learnings, realizations and reflections into myself.
As much as I was growing, connecting and making strides with my work and career, I felt myself grow more and more out of tune with myself.
When I wasn’t working, I became too hard on myself and stressed myself out for not being productive or working on something. I also felt isolated and alone apart from my family and no network of friends directly around me. The commutes to work began to drain me; my workout routines began to slip; I put all my energy into my work; and when work was full of concerts, shows and cheap thrills, my creative need felt suffocated. I was reminded of how the artist in me craves expression — and how a healthy balance between work and play informs a rich life.
While that whole laundry list of concerns is all first-world problems, I began to see how it grew toxic. I craved connection and sought it out in the one person who I wanted to confide in the most, but still felt I couldn’t for fear of imposing a relationship that I didn’t have. That pressure caused me to become consumed by my thoughts, and I lost myself in someone who was lost themselves.
To put it short, I became a worrywart. Uneasiness and uncertainty crept into all areas of my life when I just craved one single taste of security in a place, situation and period in my life when everything was uncertain.
And it’s funny. While I struggled to accept that relationship, another came into my life offering me everything — all the love I craved, safety, security and home I desired. That was when I realized timing truly is everything.
But the past six months have been exciting. I’ve met new people, places, made a new home for myself and found myself faced with new problems and insecurities. I’ve found everything is an opportunity for growth and my struggles and insecurities that crept up in the year have informed me of my own weaknesses and how to better move forward — to accept people as they are, allow them the growth and space to find themselves, to realize you can’t make someone love him/herself and that you can’t save everyone.
It’s about putting the focus back on you to allow the love you have in yourself to find you, too.
So when it comes to 2018… There’s a lot I wish to change. It’s funny how in the past 24 years of my life, every passing year was full of so much love, gratitude and positivity, and for the first time in my life, I felt this sense of bitterness and urgency — a pressure to make things happen at all means. (And to be quite honest, I’m stubborn as hell. I believe the best in people and won’t give up easily — which may be a good and a bad thing.)
When it comes to my head? I’m damn proud of myself. I moved, claimed my independence, handled my work and put my all into my job. The fact that I cared so much about the work I did for #UNFO just goes to show how much I love to share the work I do, and how much I take my work to heart. It also opened my eyes to realize do I love the world of Hollywood media writing and journalism? Is this what I wish to continue at this time in my life?
And what about when it comes to my heart? To be honest, I don’t quite like who I’ve grown into in the latter part of the year. I became an anxious mess. I worried too much, was too hard on myself and expected too much. Heck, it caused me to put a lot of pressure on my loved ones when I really wish I hadn’t — and I may have let those thoughts and emotions get the best of me!
For 2018, it’s all about “returning to love” and coming back to myself: to grow more and more into myself; to trust the universe will unravel itself and find balance in everything (the give and take, the work and play, the head and the heart); to not chase happiness but be it; to embrace the process and possibility to change; to do everything with love and openly give that to others; to think less, act more; and not take my own love for granted.
I used to always be scared that as we grow and change, we lose ourselves — what we hang onto to keep us safe, the habits we’re comfortable with, familiarity — but maybe we’re all just growing more and more into ourselves.
I haven’t shared too many personal posts in the past year, but I’ve shared quite a bit through other media and it’s been so humbling to have you guys listen, respond, read and just care about this crazy journey of mine after all these years…
So here’s to putting good vibes back out there.
- To becoming our best selves
- To be less hard on ourselves and compliment each other more
- To learn to love ourselves
- To have the courage to be our most authentic selves
- To open up to love without fear
- To let go of the fears that hold us back
- To laugh a little more
- To use social media healthily and wisely
- To spend more time talking and less time texting
- To find genuine peace with the ways of the world
- And, to just radiate love in every way we can
Let’s be better lovers and communicators. Let’s forgive and forget, confront not expect. And let’s come back to ourselves in 2018 — out of our heads and into our hearts.
With love, honesty and a lot of hope,