Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The pursuit of...

When I was 14, I very much looked forward to February 11, 2005--that was the date of the final round of Robinson Idol, my high school's version of American Idol. This was something I'd been looking forward to since my 12-year old self first saw the signs for Robinson Idol in 7th grade posted up along the high school corridors (my school was a secondary school, i.e. middle and high schools combined in one building). After getting through semi-finals and auditions in September, I had to wait five long months full of excitement and anticipation and anxiety. I remember thinking to myself: "What is there gonna be to look forward to after this? My life is gonna be so boring after this." I was naive, I know. Probably still am. Hoping I still am, actually. Back then, I had so many things to look forward to, and I had no idea. I'm hoping that I'm being just as blind right now, because I legitimately do not know what to look forward to anymore.

Five months go by very quickly now, as someone in her early- to mid-20's who works for pay periods and quarters and fiscal years. We're in the third month of 2014, and I'm still stuck on writing "2013" when I date papers and contracts.

I've always had something to pursue and anticipate--some set future goal or event or plan. In high school, I had American Idol auditions to look forward to for when I turned 16. This was something I had looked forward to since I was 11. As a part of an a cappella group in high school with 3 other girls who would turn out to be my best friends, I had many more things to look forward to. I performed at the Kennedy Center, and also performed at Six Flags with the Redskins sitting at tables in front of us signing autographs, and performed at the Verizon Center with them to sing the national anthem for a Mystics game. And after that, I had college acceptance and high school graduation, making new friends at Virginia Tech, getting my first job... teaching at Teen Arts Performing camp with my two best friends the summer after freshman year under the direction of a Grammy Award-winning individual. Starting at Department of Homeland Security the day after my 19th birthday. Meeting my brother for the first time since I was a toddler. My 21st birthday. Performances with my dance crew (Bamboom) and a cappella group (Soulstice) and with my cultural organizations (Asian-American Student Union, Vietnamese Student Association, Filipino American Student Association, Korean American Student Association--you name it, I was probably in it). Hearing my song arrangements sung for the first time by Soulstice. Singing my solos at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg. Performing with Bamboom at Prelude and Coalescence. Beating my throughput numbers from the previous week as a cashier at Chipotle. Getting my first car. Having my first apartment at college. Moving out of my mom's house. Performing at the Verizon Center. Twice. Starting a YouTube channel and actually getting some views on my videos.

Now, the only things I look forward to are my payday, fulfilling groupon purchases, seeing friends, and the occasional performances. I don't seem to have set goals anymore--no projects to work towards, no thresholds or records to beat in competing with and improving myself, nothing to really accomplish. Honestly, I think some of it is just because I don't believe in myself anymore. I feel like I have come to a standstill. I am stagnant, collecting the dust of "what could have been"s and "what if"s that I feel I will never bring myself to pursue.

Things that used to excite me have become commonplace for me; I'm afraid I'm starting to take them for granted. Seeing friends, performing at venues. I feel like these are things I would only truly appreciate once they're gone, and I really hope that they're never gone. I still love hanging out with my friends, of course; social interaction gives me a sense of fulfillment that solitude does not. Performing is still very liberating; as Lady Gaga says, I live for the applause. But it's like Stacie Orrico said in her song "More to Life": 'There's gotta be more to life than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me ... I'm sure there's gotta be more than wanting more.' My best friend Jen said something to me a few days ago that I've been thinking about lately; it had to do with the idea that maybe things that happen with regularity would actually mean more if they were to happen less often. I think she might be right. It's like Ted said in How I Met Your Mother: you can't make every night legendary, or else no night is legendary. Does that mean I'm going to stop what I'm doing? Absolutely not. I don't think that's what Jen meant, anyway. I already know that I would be sad without seeing my friends or being on stage, but when those are the only things going on in my life, they start to lose their meaning. I don't think it's a matter of stopping or slowing anything I'm currently doing, but rather starting what I'm currently not doing, and doing more with my life to the point where I can bring meaning to my current indulges while stimulating myself with the novelty of the new ones.

I've come to speculate different things that could be the cause of my feeling of monotony. Is it loneliness? Do I need a boyfriend (or girlfriend, to try something new perhaps)? I would hope not. I'm very happy where I am, and I really don't want to have to depend on my being in a romantic relationship for that. Plus, relationships give me anxiety (though that could be because I've had shitty boyfriends). Is it laziness? I would hope not. I've always thought of myself as a pretty motivated and driven person that always seeks opportunity... who, as aforementioned, always had something to look forward to. But as of late, I can't say that I am that same person anymore. Apart from looking for performance opportunities and auditions, I'm not as proactive about my job and career direction as I used to be. The only real goal I have right now is to get my credit card balance down and to try and show up to work on time. Could it also be my geographical location? I've heard people say that they're "sick of nova," and I never understood why. I love it here. It's where I grew up, DC is right there, and there are so many things to do (despite what people say. Come on, we live in a fuckin metropolitan area. There are shops, lounges, restaurants, parks, sightseeing locations, museums, and amusement parks, all not too far away). But I did come to realize in the past few months that despite being very big, nova is a small place; everybody knows each other, and everybody knows about each other. Not good, for a girl like me (i.e "with a past"). Sometimes I think I do need to move, even if it's just for a year or so, to somewhere completely different. I've been thinking about LA, San Fran, San Diego, Portland, Chicago, or even Atlanta or Boston... somewhere where nobody knows about how I grew up and what I went through. But it would be a long ways away before that can happen, financially and logistically.

Let me get one thing straight: I am happy. I just know that I can be happier. Is that asking too much? Does that make me selfish? Do I even care? I heard somewhere that happiness shouldn't be attributed to this or that reason, and I think that's pretty accurate. Happiness is a state of mind, not a direct consequence or result of some input variable in your life. But I do find myself wanting more, only I don't know what "more" entails. I like my job. I like being unattached and single. I love my friends and family. I love my location. I know I have other things to look forward to, but it's just not my time yet to look forward to them: meeting my husband, my first child, my very own BMW, my first house, perhaps setting a record in an eating contest... Besides, for now, I have Arizona to look forward to in March, New York to look forward to in April, Miami to look forward to in May, and crabbing every weekend starting in late May. My 24th birthday in July (oh God), starting my MBA in August, renewing my lease in August... all the Marvel movies coming out soon... but before I know it, it'll be 2015.

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