And then

After one year, I went to the free and anonymous anxiety screening session to find out if I really have anxiety or not.

Long story short, it was a completely useless event. An online search for anxiety survey would have saved me a trip if I had known that it would be nothing more than checking a few boxes with extremely broad questions and having a trainee psychologist stare at me in silence after asking me what I wanted to do.

The moment I sat down, she said, ‘hmm looks like your scores were low… you have some anxiety… so what do you want to do?’ And stared at me from behind her false eyelashes with a stupid condescending smile.

(Thank you, Captain Obvious, for stating that I have SOME anxiety. I could have told myself that too.)

And I’m like, ???????? She’s asking me?????

She continued, ‘There is individual counseling and then there’s group counseling. Which are you thinking of?’

(How the fudge am I supposed to choose when you have given me NO information. And do I have anxiety? What kind? Can I tell you my problems? Is that not what you are here for?)

She kept suggesting that I attend group counseling and when I asked her how I could do that, she said I could just call in.

If she bothered talking to me a while longer, she would know that I have social anxiety when it comes to phone calls. I avoid phone calls as much as I can.

‘Do you have any questions for me?’ she asked, not looking interested in answering any that I potentially had.

I asked her what types of anxiety there are, hoping the conversation would go somewhere.

Her reply: ‘social, phobia, general…’

No discussion of my scores, no ‘how are you doing’, or ‘what’s been on your mind lately’ or even the slightest comfort in any way. She was NOT warm, NOT welcoming, and certainly NOT helpful.

So that was messed up and I left, feeling shocked that those people can even be allowed to be psychologists or counselors. I have spoken to teachers, friends, and strangers who have offered me way better words of wisdom and comfort. I am concerned for the people who have larger mental health issues that saw those ‘counselors’ today.

But even though those people didn’t have anything to offer me, I kind of stumbled upon the kind of anxiety I might have. High functioning anxiety, is what it’s called. I don’t know how valid it is but I read several articles on it and I could relate to almost everything they said about high functioning anxiety (HFA).

At first, I doubted it because I looked at the statement about how people with HFA sometimes feel the need to leave a room full of people immediately without reason. I thought, I don’t do that. I don’t know who I was trying to kid but it suddenly hit me today that I certainly do that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been at a social event and suddenly I turn to my sister (or myself if I’m there alone) and say, oh God, I want to leave right now. I need to leave right now. Can I leave now? And I would sometimes even feel sick.

I had no idea it was even a thing. I thought I was being over-the-top. I am type A, I always need to ‘go, go, go’, I don’t catch a break, I stretch myself so thin by taking on everything (omg this), I compartmentalize my emotions to the point of thinking that I’m fake with people because I can’t show my real self because people will hate me if I show them my real self, I always think I’m not good enough and not doing enough and letting people down.

This is me. Now I get it.

I have no real ending to this post but somehow knowing that there are people out there are feeling the same way I do makes me feel slightly better. And also, I guess after meeting such cold and unhelpful counselors. it makes me want to be the person people can come to, can feel safe around, can feel vulnerable around without feeling judged.

Please be kind.

Raine
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Rediscovering myself

On a whim, I decided to dig for posts I wrote back in 2014 in hopes of finding something that would tell me when and how I started getting anxiety. What I found instead warmed me inside out. I found that in the periods of time when I was down, I often had nuggets of wisdom for myself. Reading those old posts, I was reminded of things – good things – about myself that I had forgotten.

It’s just that in this past year or so I’ve been using this blog as an avenue to let out all my anxieties and frustrations. Writing is my way of dealing with my emotions and while it has really helped to write what I’m feeling, in the process, I have forgotten to write happy things too. Life really is a rollercoaster but I’ve only been writing about the dips, not the peaks.

Perhaps I have played a role in feeding my negative emotions like I read in the book I bought my sister.

Sure, things are different now than two years ago, my anxieties are different now than two years ago, but things are always changing and I need to learn to go with the flow. I need to move forwards, nurture my likes, stop nurturing my dislikes, let my feelings come and go, take things one step at a time, remember that I am not alone in my worries.

After all, the only person who can help me the most is myself.

Here are some of my favorite posts (and also as a reminder to myself that I am capable of good, funny posts): 1 , 23 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10

Happy Sunday~

Raine
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Part 6: Weight, what? (Weight, who cares?)

Conclusion… kind of.

Well, I’m still not thin by Asian beauty standards therefore I suppose I’m not beautiful. But WHO CARES? Screw the standards. Tear them down and jump on ’em. I’m okay with not being a size 2 or even a size 6 (even though J.Crew lied to me and tried to make me feel better by allowing me to fit into a size 6 dress ?!?!). I’m okay with my broader-than-Asian-average shoulders and hips and let’s not forget that mini J.Lo booty.

I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. I’ve come a long way from being the exercise-loathing person with zero sense of portion control.

I exercise, I eat healthy (have I told you about the week we ate only walnuts for lunch?), I eat poorly (have I told you about the day I allowed myself to be handed a mountain of rice on a plate and I ate it all?), I gain weight, I lose weight, I fit into my jeans, sometimes I don’t, I still have anxiety but then I read Ajahn Brahm’s book and feel better, and at the end of the day, just to be cliché, I am meeeeeeee. I am enough.

And so are you.

You do healthy you and you’re fine. Who cares what people say about your size? Okay, it hurts and you can’t help caring but don’t let it hold you back or drag you under. We need to focus on inner beauty and stop all these needless mean comments. You might think it harmless to make a comment about someone’s size or looks but it could affect them more than you’ll ever know.

Especially as a child. There’s a difference between being a bit bigger than average and being unhealthy. If a child is not eating healthy and not getting any physical activity in, point them in the direction of living a healthy lifestyle, don’t label them as fat and tear down their self-esteem. Teach them self-love. Teach them that everyone’s body is different. Teach them that there is no specific size for healthy and beautiful.

It has been a long and slow back-and-forth process of accepting and not letting people tell me how I should feel about my own body but now when I look back at old photos, I don’t see a fat kid. I see me. I see me who had no problem being the size I was. And it’s a good feeling.

I still have my days – like this one – but for the most part, I now brush off ignorant comments about my size because I’m not going to let some distant relative – or some freaking stranger – tell me what I should look like and how I should feel. You can take your unsolicited advice and shove it up yours.

Elasticized waistbands and I still belong together no matter what you say, though. They have been with me, through thick and thin. Thick and thin, geddit? Haha.

P.S: Even as I wrote this, there was a battle going on inside my head, wondering if I’m being entirely ridiculous and stupid for writing this when in reality, I was and am fat. Can you see how ridiculous it is to have ‘fat’ and all its negative implications thrust upon you and having to deal with it for the rest of your life? ‘Rest of your life’ sounds absurd but the inner fat kid inferiority complex that remains even when you know you’ve lost weight? It’s as real as real gets. Please think the next time you intend to open your mouth and give ‘well-meaning’ comments about someone else’s size.

Double P.S: You’re supposed to read the ‘weight’ in my title as ‘wait’.

In case you missed it: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

Raine
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An inconsiderate potluck party

potluck1It’s no secret that I enjoy a good buffet/potluck party.

Before it turned into an overpriced buffet with significantly watered down food quality, we used to frequent this classy Japanese buffet religiously (maybe that’s why I’m so convinced that we’re Japanese). We went there for the wide spread of Japanese food but as the years went by, the customer profile began to change and eventually so did the menu. Soon they were serving things like porridge and chicken nuggets to people who had no decent manners (think: shoving others or cutting the queue at the buffet line or shouting like they were in their own home or piling their plates and leaving NONE for others or leaving the buffet lines filthy). It came as no surprise when we all jointly agreed to stop going there.

I like food but I also like manners. That’s a buffet story.

Here’s the potluck one: I always used to think that potlucks were gatherings where invited guests would bring batches or trays of homemade food. Because my mom never once showed up to a party with store-bought food and because I had never been to a potluck which had store-bought food, potlucks, to me, were always associated with the words ‘homemade food’. Maybe that’s completely wrong. Maybe it’s simply associated with the words ‘contributed dish’ which can mean either store-bought or homemade.

More than 20 years into my life, it was to my undisguised shock and confusion that I found out people actually bring store-bought food to potlucks. It was a Christmas party. We baked and brought – at the risk of sounding fluffy and clichéd – cupcakes (Mom suggested bringing deviled eggs but that didn’t happen). I feel some need to point out that we were not aboard the Cupcake Mania Express when cupcakes rose to stardom years ago. Anyway, off we went to the party with a box of freshly-frosted cupcakes. I couldn’t help but wonder what the other guests would bring. I happened to be aware that some of them are challenged in the culinary department.

The hosts were still cooking in the kitchen when we arrived. We were told to place our cupcakes on the table. A good idea, too, since oftentimes people forget about the food in the fridge that they meant to bring out for dessert later. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang. Some of the guys had arrived… with KFC meal buckets. And apparently two different groups of guys had run into each other at the same KFC.

I was stumped. I felt cheated. How can this be a potluck party with the Colonel’s mashed potatoes and Original Recipe chicken drumsticks?! That was before the store-bought papaya salad showed up. I began to realize, with a sinking feeling, that my idea of a potluck could have been wrong all this while. WRRRRRRRRRRONG. It’s like when they tell you the tooth fairy isn’t real (I always knew it was my mom slipping money under my pillow). That Christmas party forced me to rethink my idea of a potluck gathering.

I accept it. I accept that people do – and often – bring store-bought food to potlucks but here’s why I think it should be exception rather than the norm. I get that sometimes people don’t have time to prepare food – this 9-to-5 grind has made me rethink how I used to spend my free time since now the only time I get to go out is during the weekends (oh hell no) – and other reasons like not knowing how to cook or whatever. But cooking isn’t hard and there are a bazillion recipes out there that you can whip up in less than 15 minutes and yes, for more than 10 people! Better still, there are recipes you can prepare ahead of time and just bring on the day of the party! Unless it’s a super last minute party and you really can’t be bothered, at least try not to show up with KFC buckets?!

I think homemade food shows effort and sincerity. Not that store-bought food doesn’t (and it’s still way better than showing up empty-handed). Also, I don’t think you should feel pressured about cooking or overthink your kitchen skills. It’s not a Master Chef competition, after all, and hey, if people don’t like the food you made, at least you can say you tried.

Maybe I’m just old-school. Wouldn’t be the first time someone has thought that of me.

Oh, and there wasn’t enough food for everyone at that Christmas party. I think I went home and had ramen. A good potluck party should have just enough food, if not extra, for everyone and everyone, as guests, should take one helping per food and only go back for seconds if they need to.

Okay, you’re thinking, so you like buffets and potlucks, you like manners, and you don’t think someone should show up to a potluck with store-bought food. So what?

Here’s what.

Two weeks ago, I received a most delightful email in my work inbox. Potluck gathering in 2 weeks, please post the food item you’ll be bringing. I’m like, yeaaaaaaah fooooooooood yeaaaaaaaah! I only voiced my excitement when I got home, of course.

Over the next two weeks, I diligently opened every email regarding the potluck to read the updated list of foods that each department was bringing. I noted that most of the contributed foods would be store-bought.

On the day of the potluck, I brought a container. Y’know, just in case there was extra at the end and the organizers wanted to dump it (say no to food waste). I didn’t bring a container intending on filling it up to the top with food and gleefully running away with tonight’s dinner. I’m frugal and practical but my mom also taught me manners. I’m not going to, out of greed, deprive a fellow guest of their share of food.

I arrived at work, ready to leave my desk at 11:30 sharp to head upstairs for the party. An email popped up. I read it. I deflated. I had read the date wrong. The potluck wasn’t until three days later. Oh well, it was vegetarian day anyway so it was a good thing after all.

Three days later, it’s today! The day I get to take a 2-hour lunch break to enjoy a free meal at the expense of the generous folks in each department. I left the containers at home after several people warned me against it.

My mom doesn’t have to worry about our behavior when we attend events with food. We know the drill. She knows we won’t dive for the buffet bar before everyone else neither will we pile our plates embarrassingly high. We won’t attack the food as if we’ve been starved for weeks and we most certainly won’t waste food by taking things we know we don’t like. We may go for seconds but third rounds are rare.

I spend the morning on my work and finish it long before my boss graces us with her presence at, I don’t know, 10:30am? I poke around on CNN and New York Times until it’s 11:00am. I don’t want to be sardined in the elevator with the others later so I get up at 11:10 and go upstairs. I use the washroom because it’s the cleanest one out of the other floors and pop inside the office. I find my usual cozy spot and wait.

At 11:20, I crane my head over the row of cubicles to see if everything has been set up. No. Ladies are still bustling about, arranging food and cutlery and chairs. I get up anyway and walk over to inspect. Everything looks about done. I walk back to my seat and think, I’ll go back in 5 minutes.

More than 5 minutes later, I stand up and walk over to the meeting room where the spread is. I am stunned to find that there is a line snaking out the door. When did the horde arrive? In mere minutes too? I join the line. The line crawls. It’s like the city traffic jam at peak hour. The room is filled with people trying to get food. A young woman squeezes past me with a plate piled with meat skewers. It’s clear it’s not for one person.

I think little of it and reach for a plate. In front, someone cuts into the line. Nobody says anything. I am reminded of the article my mom read aloud to me about why Chinese people love cutting lines. I reach for the first dish. It’s a baked pasta dish. I cut a small slice and flop it onto my plate. I ignore the brownies and go for the fruit tarts. I adore fruit tarts.

The line stalls again. I look ahead. A girl steps out of the line – or should I say, clump since there were a few people all crammed up against the table – and I see her plate. It would seem that she emptied the entire container of fried snacks onto her plate. She scurries towards the exit the same way the woman earlier did.

The clump disperses. A guy has, if I’m not mistaken, grabbed dozens of bags of individually-packed fruit. He, too, leaves. I look around the room. There are a few other young men and women piling plates and plates with a single type of food. I begin to see a pattern and I begin to remember where I’ve seen these faces.

I begin to seethe but not that hard.

It’s them. The two rows of young men and women sitting one row behind me that are always screaming and shouting obnoxiously, having loud conversations without a care in the world. The ones whom I have thought many times of saying ‘WILL YOU SHUT THE F**K UP?’ to. The ones who so deeply remind me of all the similar folks that I had the displeasure of going to high school/college with. The ones who belong to a single ever-expanding group that continuously bring shame and a bad name to the decent people of our race and culture. Unprofessional twats. Rude twats.

Oh, will I just say it? The Chinese people whom you read about in the newspapers and snort in disgust at. The uncivilized Chinese people whose horrific behavior and manners bring shame to the rest of the good people of Chinese descent. Yes, there, I said it.

From the corner of my eye, I watch them leave the cramped room with their full plates. I chalk their behavior up to the typical every day behavior of their kind and continue making my way down the buffet line. I take a little bit of this and that. I skip two or three dishes because a new line has formed there. I carry my plates – one with dessert, the other with entrees – and find my cozy spot to enjoy lunch.

I’m eating halfway when it is announced that the meat skewers have finished. It has been barely fifteen minutes since the lunch started. I think to myself, oh, I should go get the rice and chicken that I missed before it’s gone. I abandon my plates and rejoin the line. The line crawls. I look at the other trays. Almost everything is nearly finished. Even the fruits that I didn’t put on my plate earlier are gone.

When I finally reach the rice, I find that there are only three miserable scoops left in the gigantic box. The two men behind me in line are only joining the line for the first time. There’s nothing left for them. I take half a scoop and look at the tray of chicken. Only piddly bits and bones are left. It doesn’t look appetizing. I scoop the sauce but leave the rest. I move down the line. The only dish remaining is stir-fried seafood noodles. I look back with mixed feelings at the men who are scraping whatever is left onto their plates. Next to going out to buy lunch, that’s all they can do.

I go back to my seat, seething for real now. I’m angry and upset. I picture those selfish a**holes/greedy f**ks feasting downstairs while here scraps are all the rest get. I feel a sense of injustice for those who haven’t eaten and those who wanted to wait a little for the lines to clear. I get very upset when I see that people don’t have enough to eat. This could have been easily avoided if everyone could be civilized or considerate enough to take only one helping each. The potluck could have used a little extra food but I’m sure there would have been enough for everyone if people didn’t take a big bunch of everything and leave nothing for the rest.

I am now just hearing from the two rows behind a girl crowing about the fact that her buddy, one of the guys, took five packets of noodles for himself.

I have nothing more to say.

It’s no secret that I enjoy a good buffet/potluck party and loathe selfish and rude partygoers.

Raine
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Dish washing and crab lessons

There is a saying in another language about a crab teaching its child how to walk straight. It’s easy to tell what that means. It means to teach someone to be/do something, you have to show them how to do it. If father crab himself walks sideways, how does he expect his child to know how to walk straight?

This is a saying that I’ve kept close to me because it applies to my life so much.

Growing up, my dad would always say, ‘Don’t be like dad in x way or y way’ or ‘don’t pick up dad’s bad habits’.

As I grew older, I realized how funny those words were. How is telling someone to not be like them any good if you don’t practice what you preach? How can anyone know what you actually mean if you don’t show it? Why should anyone even pay heed to your advice if you don’t do it yourself? Actions speak louder than words, especially to kids, I feel.

My dad also told me to set a good example for my sister.

I did not have a good example set for me by my brother which actually worked out alright because I’ve learned a lot of things on my own, figured out what I want to be and what I don’t want to be, and had my mom as someone to look up to. My moral compass has also been a leading force in my life for which I am grateful for.

Anyway, I told myself that I would learn from my dad’s inability to practice what he preached and consciously make the effort to be the good example to follow so that I would be able to say, ‘hey, try to be like this, you know?’. Not, of course, to other people, but to my sister.

Today I found myself in a situation where I realized that I couldn’t say, ‘hey, like this, you know?’ because I haven’t shown a good example in that department.

The situation was dish washing. I wash the dishes without gloves most of the time. I’m crap. I know, I know. When I started helping out with the dishes years ago, it was maybe one bowl and one spoon. One bowl turned into three bowls then into three bowls and five plates then into a full 30 minute dish washing session. It just turned into a thing.

My sister washes the dishes with gloves and she makes it a point to nag me about wearing gloves but lately I’ve seen her washing them without gloves. Today I almost opened my mouth to say, ‘why aren’t you wearing gloves?’ but realized that I don’t have the right since I don’t do it myself.

Consequently, I felt like shit.

Isn’t it absolutely crappy when you realize that you can’t preach because you don’t practice?

So I’ve decided that even though washing the dishes without gloves is so much faster because I don’t have to dry my hands and put the stupid gloves on then take them off and air dry them, I will consciously make the effort to wear the gloves to do the dishes.

Here’s a late 2015 goal for me. Let’s see how I do.

Raine
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Being sisters in college: annoying things

All my sister and I ever wanted was to go to school together. And bam, now we are. We’re a couple of years apart in age so we only got to ‘go to school together’ for two years in elementary school and another year in high school. By that, I mean we were in different grades but the same school.

What I never imagined was to receive so many strange remarks or witness strange behavior from people upon hearing that we are sisters. I would even go so far to say that some behavior we have been shown is discrimination.

Here are some examples of annoying things (ranging from mildly annoying to very annoying) that people do or say to us. Also take this as a guide of what NOT to say to sisters.

Category 1: Not seeing the similarities.

“So you’re relatives? Cousins?”

Apparently we don’t look alike to some people.

“I thought you were best friends.”

Apparently we look like friends.

“You’re sisters?”

Ditto.

These first 3 aren’t too bad since most of the time they’re harmless comments.

“I looked at the name list and wondered why there were two of the same names!”

Gee, I don’t know, maybe because our names AREN’T the same and you’re only looking at the first half of our names. Our names are actually quite unique so the logical conclusion would be that there are TWO of us and we’re related.

Category 2: Not seeing the differences.

“You and your sister have the same name.”

Because that’s what parents do. They name all their children the same name because they enjoy being amused when all the kids answer to one name.

Dad: “JOHN!”

And five kids (boys and girls) come rushing into the living room.

Dad: “Which of you broke the TV?”

All the kids: “JOHN DID.”

Now the parents are going to have a good time figuring which kid broke it because OOPS they gave all 5 of their kids the same name.

“Oh, you’re the twins!”

No? After twice from the same person, this comment gets old really fast.

“You look so alike, I can’t tell the difference!” (after seeing us more than twice)

I call bullshit on that because even identical twins have slight differences and guess what, we are not identical twins.

“Oh okay, whatever, I just know you two as twins.”

Thanks for your display of ignorance. I now know who to not waste my time on.

“You even eat the same food.”

Why? Is it that strange? My sister and I grew up on our mom’s cooking and as a family we ate out together at the same places so is it that strange to acquire the same liking towards certain types of food?

“Where is your sister?”

When only one of us shows up. Said in different tones, this can either be harmless or annoying. Annoying when they give you that ‘WHY is only one of you here? WHY?’. I don’t know, do identical twins go everywhere and do everything together? Oh wait, we’re not identical twins!

Assortment of other strange things:

The ‘who is older’ game.

This is fun because hearing people’s answers are in and of itself a sociological experiment.

Example of answers – #1: ‘you (my sister) because you’re taller’. Gee, that was an intelligent and totally accurate guess because HEIGHT is a valid way to estimate someone’s age.

#2: ‘you (me) because you have a more mature look’. One of the most interesting answers yet. Acceptable too.

Placing us on opposite ends of the classroom for a test.

You know, in case we wink, wink, nudge, nudge. We can totally send each other code through brainwaves.

Giving us strange looks when we happened to get the same score on a test.

Because we can really totally send each other messages in the form of brainwaves. I don’t think the same look would be given if a pair of friends got the same score on a test.

Giving us things (eg. test papers, envelopes, packages) and asking us to sort it out between the two of us because apparently people cannot be bothered to learn who is who.

Like, here you go, I can’t tell who is who.

??? Really?

Telling us that we should do our presentations on different days.

Reason: because there will be more variety.

I’m sorry, MORE VARIETY? HOW?

Apparently because we sit together and wear the same glasses. If that makes sense to you, raise your hand.

People actually think that my sister and I will make a presentation that will be SO alike in nature that the whole presentation time will lack ‘variety’.

Bringing us back to the identical twin thing. Even identical twins don’t have the SAME personalities, jeez.

I can bet you that people who have seen us present before know that we do NOT lack variety because we have different styles.

Having professors reply to my sister’s email thinking that she’s me.

“I already sent you an email about xxx the other day.”

Awkward moment when my sister has to explain that she’s not me. This is actually fine since somehow our name shows up as the same in our emails. We do sign off differently though so…

Staring at us questioningly when we insist that sharing one drink is fine.

I don’t know why people don’t bat an eyelid when friends share food and drinks but look at us as if we’ve done something completely out of this world when we share food and drinks.

I don’t get it.

Making comments like ‘it’s so cute that you wore matching hoodies’ with an underlying mocking tone as if to suggest that we’re lame to dress the same.

When we heard this, we looked at each other’s hoodie and were like wtf? Because we didn’t even realize that we were wearing the same color. So yeah. We did NOT come to school matchy matchy but if we did, so what?

People do that with their BESTIES and it’s fine.

Basically people give us strange looks and make strange comments about us for doing or saying things but wouldn’t to a pair of friends.

I wrote this meaning to sound light-hearted but reading back, it’s dripping with sarcasm. Haha. Oh well.

Have you gone to school with a sibling before? Any interesting sibling stories to share?

Raine
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