“I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again.”
Note: This is the last of a collection of drafted blog posts I've written throughout the late spring, summer and fall seasons. These have been revisited and I will continue to share in order of seasons. Ty for being here xo.
In the midst of one month, the core team at my workplace quit and dropped like flies, one after the other. I’ve been there for two years and I knew my patience was limited.
I remember it was about one year ago where I started to feel the utter burnout from my workplace. I sat in my car after a full eight-hour day opening and closing the place, holidays amidst a pandemic, feeling homesick, lonely, overworked and just wanting a simple break since I had worked nonstop since before the pandemic even started. I was feeling incredibly dejected, robotic, stressed from all the adrenaline from being on my feet the entire day. The moment I pulled up into my driveway and parked, I broke down.
I didn’t know why. I had all these pent up feelings of anger, loneliness, resentment for “holding face” for far too long while holding the shop together — opening, closing, sunrise to sunset, handling drinks and food, running and bussing, smiling and interacting, posting to socials while not taking things personally, hushing away homeless, saying yes to any and everything a customer wants (!!!) while working with a bare bones team… I was tired and overworked.
I wrote this in my phone last November 2020:
All these emotions are coming to the forefront… I didn’t realize or know they were there. I didn’t realize I was burying them so deeply.
I work so much. I’m always on the go. I’m always walking and running when I’m off and always on my feet, sunrise to sunset. I’m always onto the next thing. I didn’t realize I was doing so well at being independent and alone, to the point where it would break me down.
I just felt so dejected today. And I don’t know why. I know I was stressed from work the day before. And today I woke up so dispirited.
I spent Thanksgiving working all weekend, which I have to say, is a healthy distraction. This pandemic isn’t easy. And I’m the first to always say, take a break, go easy on yourself, don’t be so hard on yourself — we’re surviving a pandemic right now so it’d be silly to expect yourself to make big career moves. On the other hand, I’ve found myself biting my lip more often than not. Living out here in a city I’m still trying to get to know on my own, without my usual circles or networks I used to rely on, is fucking lonely. I miss my family everyday. I miss my friends I feel most at home with. And most importantly, I just miss safety.
I’ve been searching for a place and a feeling of home everywhere I go, it seems. And I wonder if I’m searching for something even I can’t find — because the simple fact of searching means I’m not quite here.
I have no family out here. I have very little friends because I am careful of who I let into my life. I’m sensitive to energy so I take a great deal to tend to my space and time.
I’ve done so well on my own. But I don’t wanna do it alone anymore. Why do I do this to myself. Fuck.
From that moment on, I knew it had to end. I’ve been grateful to work, have a job and form closer bonds with my circle in LA — it was for these reasons that kept me happy and sane; but I knew that I couldn’t make room for what I wanted if I was always working. I couldn’t explore myself, and I couldn’t explore other options.
“Stop putting others before yourself. Put yourself first for once,” my dearest friend Patty told me, the night I decided to resign. “You don’t owe anyone anything. Bet on yourself for a change.”
I had to end some things in order to let other things grow.
This past season was rough on me, I have to admit. I had to say no to people more often. I isolated myself, focused on my exit, kept my circle small, decided to go out less and spent most of my social time in that shop serving friends and customers to then decompressing for the remainder of the day. I grew into my routine and cycle: work, reservoir, eat, sleep, repeat. I started my days at 5am and would be in bed by 10pm to be sane for the day ahead. I’d recover and repeat.
Since what seems like 10 years ago, Patty has always told and showed me to not believe in all the good I was taught to believe in this world. She told me I see the good in people too much — something I thought was never a bad thing. And it took some real hard growing pains this year to experience that firsthand. She always held space for me and told me what I needed to hear through those times.
“It’s trusting the wrong people,” she said. “You’ve been abused for too long and you need to end it. You don’t owe anyone anything.”
I explained, “I have all these feelings and stress inside of me and I don’t know what to do with it right now.” I was tired. I was tired of having the same conversations, the same patterns, the same stressors constantly repeat themselves and never change.
She continued, “I just want to see you thrive. Bet on yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose.”
I often “see the best in people” too much to the point where it hurt me.
“Give voice to the people who don’t have one,” she encouraged.
That isn’t to say the fall felt all that disempowering. In fact, the months leading up to that final November resignation — August, September, October — have been quite eventful and had its fair share of highs.
Rue the Band played our first live gig with a full band for the San Diego Filipino Film Festival the beginning of October (Filipino-American History Month #FAHM). I made it to my first trip to New York finally, courtesy of my good childhood friend Andrew, with a dreamy weekend in NYC “beginning again.”
If I have to explain: the “time never felt more right to be a cow,” simply because work and life can get too much sometimes, so you might as well not give a f**k, embrace it, live life, because who the f**k cares anyway. It’s something I’ve learned to embrace from just growing up, working so much, becoming tired of things… just do you, and be a damn cow. 🐮
Naturally, this season has felt all about change: shifting, transitioning, ending, beginning. I’ve been falling back in love and meeting that inner child in me again. I’ve been returning to live shows and concerts, doing write-ups, re-meeting music journalist Rachel and writing again. I’ve been tweeting quotes that resonate, listening to bands and songs that bring me alive. I even agreed to an interview with a Korean band to write for the ole Character Media annual issue (coming soon).
Sometimes all you need is a night in to zen out, fall back in love with your music, your writing, your craft, to see that life can be so beautiful sometimes. During one of those nights in, I spun Kacey Musgraves’ new star-crossed album on repeat and fell into a songwriting hole to “cherry blossom” that I loved so much.
Hearing a song pop up on your playlist that brings you back to a live show, when things were so much simpler, and feeling that instant sense of joy and release, is what’s so powerful about music. That’s what I love about it: it’s moving, transformative, uplifting. It’s a shared release, live or in person.
LANY on repeat around the reservoir brought this song to me, as well as the spontaneous decision to buy tickets to one of their biggest shows to date on a Saturday night with my good friend and fellow “bird of a feather,” Brian:
I’ve been more conscious than ever to just live my life again. To make memories; to share moments; to push myself to be a little less “independent” i.e. my loner self, and invite people out with me more. It can be too easy for me to just go ahead to do things on my own, that I’ve learned the value of investing in the relationships I care about more. The older I’ve gotten, the less they come and I care a hell of a lot about the friends and family I let into my circle. After all, shared experiences is what keeps people together, and life is too damn short to let it slip working and slaving away (I’ve also spent too much of my past year working too much too long and I feel I’ve grown out of touch with myself).
I’m 28. I’m young and vibrant, confident and more sure of herself than ever; but I feel for as long as I’ve been here, I’ve never fully dove into what I want and love. Maybe I’ve been indecisive. Maybe I’m young. Maybe I was figuring myself out and trying to grow up. But I’ve been ready to end it all and dive into myself and my life again.
Make room for your love, always. The rest will figure itself out.
A new friend from my online world wrote me:
“Something tells me in a year’s time, you’re gonna be looking back and be totally fucking crushing it. You’re a hard freaking worker! A year can seriously be a big difference. You gotta have a little faith in the hard work.”
Now that the dust has settled and I’ve pushed through the year — all the highs and lows, the continual work, the weight that I no longer have to carry — many ask, “What’s next?”
I often believe that sometimes “no plan is the best plan.” I haven’t stopped working in more than two+ years in the midst of a pandemic and three moves, along with all the stress that comes with it (I need a break to just rest and be; I also am a damn adult and have been budgeting and putting everything I’ve earned from work into my savings and am allotting myself the time to have a break, take time and not rush into anything; I want to do what I need to do to finally “take a chance” on myself).
A big moment for me this year was realizing during one of the lowest lows I’ve had while living in Los Angeles, is how really alone I felt. In a time of crisis, I couldn’t run home to my family; I couldn’t find peace in a place of shelter; I didn’t know who to call or ask or rely on; I needed comfort, help and just the simple feeling of a friend in a place that I still struggled to make home. LA always had this attachment and feeling of “work” to me. It’s the place I “hustle and grind” with no family and no attachments. I’ve become so laser-focused on my work and goals, adulting, looking after myself, that it gets exhausting day-in and day-out as a single gal, relying on no significant other. I’ve taken after a lot of this strength and resilience from my mom as a single mother, but when I hit a low this year, it all got tested. It was the friends I love who came through, but also the love I had for myself to realize that sometimes your “big girl pants” aren’t always enough.
When all’s said and done, I’m happy to have finally ended some of these chapters in my life.
2020 wasn’t nearly as bad as 2021 was on me (yes, 2021 dumped some real sh*t on me and I’m ready to move on lol).
For as many highs as there were lows, I’ve held onto my grace and strength through it all. I’ve maintained my best of spirits. I’ve held space for others while holding my own. And sometimes, that’s all you could ever ask for. It’s been an absolute ride, and I owe it to the many things I’ve invested my work and time and energy into… But it’s time I take that time back for myself.
Age like wine. Better in time. Let’s do it for something bigger than ourselves.
With love and honesty,
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Blog from One Year Ago: Getaway Trips and Fall Beginnings