A Year in a Life

Not everyone is big on birthdays. Some people like to go all out, invite a hundred friends, drink until they can’t remember anything, and celebrate like it’s their last.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Frankly, I used to do the same. But on the flip side of things, when it comes down acknowledging to yourself that another year of life has passed, I tend to also enjoy being alone to really think about what I’ve accomplished in that past year of life.

My birthday isn’t for another 3 days, but this exact day last year in particular was of extreme significance to me.

A year ago today was one of my biggest failures to-date. I’d say that it was a turning point in my life. (Certainly not my last and most certainly one of many to come in the future, or so I hope.)

A year ago, I was let go from a job for the first time in my life. I never thought I’d have to experience that. At the moment, it really defined me and I’m grateful for it.

After that failure, the things that I thought about myself could have been the end of me, it could have been the end of my future successes.

But I’m glad that it wasn’t.

Failure is a funny thing. Depending on how you receive it, it can define you for the rest of your life. It can throw you off course, shape your perception of yourself, it can bury you. But you don’t have to let it.

Failure and rejection makes you feel like you’re not good enough, like you’re not worthy. But at the same time, it can empower you. It can make you strive to be better and you can come back ten times stronger after accepting and overcoming that failure.

No matter how big or small the situation, whether it’s a failure in school, in a relationship, at a job, an apartment or house you were trying to get, whatever it may be, you’ll always gain something out of losing.

I never thought I’d end up where I am now. Had I rolled over and called it quits, I’d probably be in a much different place. A much unhappier place.

You may not recognize an opportunity when it’s actually happening, but you will. I promise you will. Because something good always happens amidst failure. You just have to push through the bad until you get there.

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12 Days Until Marine Corps Marathon

I’m only 12 days away from running Marine Corps Marathon – My third marathon in the books for me.

I ran my last long run of my marathon training this past Sunday and felt quite relieved to have not been as slow or as sore as I anticipated.

In the past, I’ve always underestimated the difficulty and dedication that comes with running a 26.2-mile race.

It definitely isn’t easy.

Yet, little by little, I’m getting better with each training period because I’m understanding the weight of the consequences that come with being unprepared for a race of this distance.

Two years ago, I ran the worst race of my life – The New York City Marathon. What was supposed to be a magical and exciting race ended up being one of the most awful experiences of my life. It’s not that the race itself wasn’t magical or exciting, it was my performance in running it that made it the disaster that it was.

The reason why I’m so intrigued and so passionate about training for a race is because it truly tests a person’s character, will, and determination. It sure did test mine. It humbled me.

Running is a love-hate relationship and not everyone loves it.

The reason why I love it is because it forces you to struggle with yourself. And sometimes, the best thing you can do is face that struggle. Running is a solo act. Even with team running events like Cross Country or Track & Field, you still only have yourself. You can’t tap out or have substitute anyone in your place. It’s you, your two feet, and the ground beneath you. And I think that’s something that people always struggle with, even if they love running.

With my marathon coming up right around the corner, I’m looking forward to seeing what this race will put me through; what it will do to me.

Even with the training that I have behind me, there are still those external factors that can make a difference The fun part is seeing how I how I handle it.

Setback

My personality, my profession, my mentality towards life highly revolves around my perspective on time and planning. I get easily fixated, and even somewhat obsessive, when it comes to making sure that I’m prepared to meet a certain goal or deadline. And for the most part, it works out pretty well. But, then there comes the days when things don’t go according to plan and life gets in the way.

I’m in the process of training for my third full marathon which is taking place in a nearly a month. Throughout my training, I always anticipate running the amount of miles that are scheduled for each week. However, it doesn’t always happen that I reach the exact number that I set my mind to which, naturally, upsets me a great deal.

With each race that I prepare for and each race that I complete, I get slightly better at managing my expectations and getting more familiar with the way that I train. I’m learning how to handle my schedule and accommodate for days that I didn’t run. I’m learning how to be more flexible. And from this, I’ve become a lot less stressed or worried about the outcome because honestly, when it comes down to it, anything can happen in the 26.2 miles during the race.

I’m writing this in lieu of a recent injury that I experienced.

About two weeks ago, I injured my foot which cost me 12 whole days of running which means 12  whole days of being behind in my training plan.

I ran for the first time in 12 days today and to my surprise, it felt great. If anything, the rest actually helped a tremendous amount. It helped me to think, to re-strategize, and even just take a break from obsessing about my marathon for a short period of time.

It always seems to me that the universe somehow always finds a way to give me rest when I need it most. I never ask for it, but I do need it.

Though not everyone may agree with my approach, that’s completely fine. But I’ve found that rest can be extremely rewarding and extremely beneficial to both the mind and the body.

Sometimes, we spend so much time running around, chasing things, and staying busy that we don’t slow down to give us the peace and relaxation that we actually need. Whether it’s training for a race, dating, working, or just constantly being on the move, we need rest.

After all, we’re only human.

Refresh

I was introduced to a new friend at church this past Sunday who was visiting from another country. I learned that it was his first time visiting New York City – and the United States in general – so I ended up giving him a mini tour. Yesterday, we walked throughout the streets of Lower Manhattan, trekking from the Meatpacking District to Union Square.

It was one of those unexpected, special New York City nights.

Whenever I encounter someone who is visiting New York City for the first time, I’m elated at the chance of being able to show them how spectacular I think this city it. Because for me, it truly is a city that I am constantly in awe of.

After living here for nearly four years, I’m still discovering new people and new places every single day.

I recently moved to a new apartment outside of Manhattan nearly three weeks ago. It’s my first time living in a new borough and at first, I was slightly devastated to not be able to say, “I live in Manhattan.”

After guiding my new friend throughout Lower Manhattan, I realized how refreshing it is to look at New York City through a different lens; through someone else’s eyes.

Sometimes, if you’ve been in the same place for long enough, you become jaded, desensitized, and un-phased by your surroundings. It often happens to people in a city as large and ever-changing as New York.

New Yorkers are somewhat known for their ability to block out the loud noises, ignore the distractions, and go about their daily lives almost as if they never blinked; as if their eyes were never even open to begin with.

Similar to a young child who is excited about learning something new, it often feels that way for me when I’m talking about New York. I’m overjoyed for someone to experience something the same way I’ve experienced it – in awe.

The thing about New York City is that your experience is completely dependent on how you want to experience it. You can choose to see everything or choose to see nothing. The same goes for your life. And for me, I want to see it all.

Overcome

I used to think that you could only really have something meaningful to write if you went through some kind of trial or tragedy. I used to think that the best writing came from pain and struggle. Some of the songs, books, poems that truly impacted me were written in sadness (or so I interpreted it).

It’s been a while since I’ve been genuinely happy. And I can say, now, that I actually am – which is such a relief.

I realize, now, that great creations do not come solely from hardships. Instead, there are products of overcoming and overpowering those hardships.

It’s funny how the things you consume change as you change.

Your mental state affects how you treat your body, the kind of music you listen to, the people you surround yourself with, even the activities you participate in.

It’s funny how we work sometimes – When we’re sad, we sometimes want to expand on that sadness and continue on that path. The act of “self-destruction” or so it’s called.

But on the lateral side of that, we can amplify positive emotions as well – When we’re happy, we want to keep being happy. We couldn’t imagine not feeling good or not feeling alive.

In life, things happen and we have to deal with those things. It may take time, but eventually, we do have to move on so that, eventually, we can be okay again. And when that time comes, you couldn’t be more relieved that you got through it and found that happy place.

What Matters Most

I write a lot about growing up. That’s because ever since I was little, I’ve always been in such a rush to be older. I remember following my sister and her friends around when I was a kid and I just couldn’t wait to be old enough to hang out with them. Now that I’m older, it’s funny how it works in reverse. As you get older, you want to gain all those years back that you wanted to skip ahead to.

I spend a lot of my time around people of different age groups and it always fascinates me to talk to them about their experiences and hear their opinions on life. And regardless of age, everyone always experiences things at different stages of their lives. Some of us are wise beyond our years and some of us continue to resist maturity.

Now that I am where I am, I’d finally like to slow down and take advantage of the time that I have while I have it.

When you’re younger, it seems like things take so much longer to happen – Getting your license, being able to legally drink, graduating college, finding a job, etc. But once you’ve crossed all of those things off your list, there’s a realization that you start running out of things that you have to wait for in order to happen.

What I’ve learned throughout my twenties so far is that I’m much more capable of distinguishing between the things are a big deal and the things that are not. I’m able to recognize what really matters in life and what I shouldn’t get so worked up about.

After I turned 25, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a significant shift there was in my mindset. After losing love, losing jobs, losing friends, I’m less upset about the losses and more grateful for the gains and the people who are still sticking by my side. I’m realizing that my family is one of the most important of things in my life. I’m realizing that you shouldn’t fight so hard for people who won’t fight for you. I’m realizing that the time you are given is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted on people or things that do not fill you up with joy.

Recently, I keep thinking back to the time when I was in the hospital at the age of 20 and diagnosed with Chrohn’s Disease due to my own self-induced stress. I look back and wonder how and why I allowed myself to get stressed over things that I can hardly even remember to this day.

There’s a certain peace that comes with age and maturity that I’ve truly come to appreciate – And that peace lies within knowing yourself and what you want out of your life. I can now say with full honesty that I’m discovering the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to lead. I thank God for that and I thank the people who are closest to me for supporting all of the decisions I have made leading up to this day.

My Comeback (Part 2)

As an extension to my last post, titled the “My Comeback“, I’m giving some insight as to what I’ve been noticing since it was published. Specifically, I wanted to share some of the reactions that I’ve been receiving after publicizing my personal experiences.

I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve began exposing this kind of information about my life – the intimate details of my breakup, the loss of my job, the overall confusion in my life – people have felt the need to reach out and say something to me, whether it be directly or indirectly.

I’ve been receiving feedback, comments, and even having people share their own personal struggles. And of course, it is not my business or place to expand on the details of other people’s lives.

But, I would like to say that I appreciate and even applaud those of you who have felt compelled to share your experiences with me. I’m glad that I am able to motivate people to react, reflect, and relate to what I am going through.

The beauty of writing is that you are connecting with your audience in an extremely personal way. Knowing that I have reached people in a way that makes them feel like they are not alone is exactly what I aim for in my writing. And as a writer, that’s when I have done my job.

And if you are not necessarily able to personally relate to my experiences, then that’s okay too. Because my writing is not out in the open in order for people to feel sympathy for me. It’s to try to get people to think in a different way; For people to understand that everyone is going through something difficult even if it doesn’t appear so.

And with that being said, I think that it makes my comeback a little more worth fighting for.

My Comeback

Have you ever been at rock bottom and gotten to the point where you actually remember the moment when you started to fall?

Well that happened to me today, just a few hours ago, as I was sitting at church at the last evening service of the day.

The central message of the sermon was about making a comeback after you have fallen into one of the lowest points that you have ever been in.

And that moment happened to me about five months ago when I was in the midst of severing all ties between my ex-boyfriend and I. When that happened, I thought that it would be the end of all my sorrows and struggles. Little did I know, that would be the very instant where I would begin to spiral into a deep pit that I had never fallen down before.

By now, I thought that things would clear up and I would be back on an up and onward path.

In November of 2015, I was let go from a job that I eagerly took and only held for approximately two months. I was let go just three days before my 25th birthday.

Throughout this ongoing process of self-discovery and healing since that moment, I thought that, now, I had finally found solace in the beginning of February when a new job opportunity sought me out. I thought that this would be the turn of the tide.

About one week ago, I found out that they had decided not to keep me as an employee.

And just like that, I was right back in that pit.

When you’re in your darkest of moments, it’s quite difficult to find any speck of light. It’s difficult to even try to let any light in. That’s exactly where I am right now. In the dark, searching for light in this dark moment in my life.

The single most important thing that kept me hanging on and holding onto hope was finding my way back to God and having faith that all of these things that were happening are not in vain.

I can only hold my head high and trust that light will finally find its way to me.

I can only hope that soon, I will make my comeback. But for now, I’m still in the pit searching for light to find its way to me again.

*Read a continuation of this post in “My Comeback (Part 2)

4 Days Spent in Barcelona

A little over 24 hours ago, I arrived back in New York City after spending 4 days in Barcelona, Spain. It was my very first time traveling to Europe, and most certainly not my last. In the short amount of time that I was there, I can say that Barcelona has risen to my list of top favorite cities that I have traveled to thus far. With it’s vibrant culture, rich history, and wonderful experiences, I am in awe of how much this city has to offer.

I traveled with two of my best friends from high school. We departed for Barcelona from JFK airport on Tuesday, February 23rd around 5pm. We took Aer Lingus where we had one stop in Dublin, Ireland both ways there and back for only $667 round-trip. The flight was seamless and extremely prompt. Our planes were clean, the staff was great, and the food was actually pretty tasty. My overall rating for this airline was 5/5.

We arrived in Barcelona around 10:00AM on Wednesday, February 24th and had no trouble getting our luggage after we got off the plane. We were out of the airport and in a taxi on our way to our Airbnb which was right across the street from la Sagrada Familia. The Airbnb was perfect. It was clean, cozy, and most importantly, it was in an amazing location which was around the corner from the L2 metro.

Day 1:

The first thing we did on the day one was getting most of our shopping done. We took the metro to the Passeig de Gracia stop where all of the high-end stores were located which reminded me of SoHo in Manhattan. We spent hours walking up and down the street and visiting the different stores. In between shopping, we took a break and ate at TapaTapa restaurant where we, of course, ordered multiple tapas and a pitcher of Sangria. After we finished shopping, we stopped and got a close look at Casa Battlo without going inside. We then walked over to the Arc de Triomf which reminded me of Washington Square Park in Manhattan. It’s crazy how many parallels I can make for Barcelona and New York City.

Day 2:

On Day 2, we ventured to the Gothic Quarter which was Barcelona’s version of Old City, and my personal favorite part of the trip. There, we visited the Picasso Museum, took a look around the flea market, and ate a late lunch near the water. This part of Barcelona had the most beautiful architecture and such a strong sense of history, met with modern restaurants and cafes. Later in the evening, we went out to a bar near the water where we had our lunch which was surprisingly quiet for a Thursday evening which is typically a big night to go out here in New York City.

Day 3:

Time flew by quick and all of a sudden it was already Friday. On Friday, we woke early to visit Parc Guell which was one of our most anticipated sight-seeing experiences. We walked throughout the entire park and avoided paying the fee to go inside of the area where the mosaic architecture resided. In Parc Guell, we enjoyed the beautiful view overlooking the city and experienced hearing some authentic Spanish music where musicians would play for the huge crowds of tourists. After a long day of walking, we went back home to rest before our real night of going out where we headed to Opium night club which was the most recommended place we heard about. It was definitely a touristy club which didn’t get actually crowded until around 1:30AM. We ended the night there and were exhasted by morning.

Day 4:

On our very last full day in Barcelona, we finally went inside of la Sagrada Familia. (My recommendation is to buy the tickets online first to avoid the lines, especially on a weekend to avoid the crowds. This was a tip we actually received from another American tourist we met while at Parc Guell.) The church was absolutely astonishing and completely worth paying to go inside. After nearly an hour inside of the church, we headed to Camp Nou to see none other than the amazing field that FB Barcelona plays. The field was amazing, and unfortunately, we didn’t get to catch a game (but they actually played on the same day that we left Barcelona). On the last night, we had dinner at a local restaurant near our Airbnb and packed up our suitcases and mentally prepared to leave our perfect trip.

Overall, we were able to do so much in only 4 days. There was still so much to see, but we enjoyed every minute of every hour that we experienced. Not a second was wasted and we took advantage of every opportunity despite how tired we may have been.

It was an unforgettable trip and I would go back in a heartbeat.

 

 

Stronger than that

So, we’ve all flipped the page on another year and now it’s 2016. Many of us like to completely dismiss the events of the previous year and start anew in hopes that Day 1 out of 365 of the new year will be a fresh start for us – A new beginning. Yes, it’s a new year, but it’s not a completely fresh start. I used to look at New Year’s as an opportunity to put the past behind me and move forward. And of course, that’s what we should all aspire to do. We should move forward and constantly keep moving forward. But I don’t think  that we should dismiss the events of the past.

I haven’t had the smoothest or easiest of years in 2015 and I know that I’m not the only one. I know that, compared to others, I didn’t even have it all that bad. Compared to others, I still have heaps more to be grateful for. I’m not bitter or resentful about the unfortunate things that have happened to me last year or any of the past years. And maybe I am writing this with hindsight bias because at the time, it was much harder during the actual heat of the moment, but looking back now, I know that I could never get to where I am without those moments of defeat. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” Well, I’m so glad that I never stayed down after all of those moments of defeat.

In 2015, I thought that every obstacle was going to be the one that was going to send me over the edge. In 2014, I thought the same thing. And the same goes for 2013 and 2012. Ever since I graduated college, each year seemed to be getting harder than the last. The thing is, I realize more and more with each passing year that life will just never get easier. I’ll only get stronger. I’ll only get better at handling difficult situations. I’ll learn from the past.

We shouldn’t neglect the events from the past because they have made us who we are today. No matter how tragic or difficult our hardships from the previous years have been, they shouldn’t be in vain. They are milestones and they are a part of us. We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should use them as a reminder that we are a lot stronger than we think.