In 1989, I was born in South Korea. My parents were considered upper middle class citizens in Korea and we had no trouble living our happy life as a family.

In 2001, age 12, my parents were given a great opportunity – to move to America under a business sponsored visa and raise their one child that they would love to send to an American university. The opportunity was offered by a man who was my father’s childhood best friend. He was married to a woman who owned several successful restaurants throughout Arizona and he said he would love for my dad to move to Arizona and be a manager at some of those locations, and he can sponsor us for our visas. My parents, without much thought, jumped at this chance of a lifetime.

That summer, we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, with our 6-month visitor visas and met our fate. Dad’s friend had divorced the woman who owned all the restaurants, and married a woman with whom he had an affair during his previous marriage. The angry ex-wife, in her divorce settlements, gave him a couple of restaurants that were already failing. He had filed for bankruptcy. He was nowhere near able to sponsor us.

My parents decided that we will stay here and find a way because we had nothing to go back home to.

Before our 6 months ran out, we had cut our ties with the “family friend” and we began applying for an E2 Visa, something independent business owner hopefuls obtain. After so much money had been poured into our Lawyer fees, filing fees, travel fees, what have you’s, we received a painful rejection letter from the government. Our lawyer failed to tell us the correct deadline for when certain forms were due and that cost us our applications.

My parents decided to go ahead and buy a business: a Water and Ice store in Apache Junction. We didn’t make much money but we finally had time to be a family. But my parents harbored this big, dark secret, and they were always worried that any day, what they worked so hard for would be taken away from them, and subsequently ruin their one child’s life. After all, they did up-root me from our home country and put me in a whole new environment, which consequently involved financial and emotional risks.

Meanwhile, I was unaware of anything happening. I was about to turn 15 and telling my parents “I’m going to be old enough to get a Learner’s Permit in 7 months!”, thinking I was like any other American child, getting a permit at 15years and 7 months, and moving on to a driver’s license 5 months later.

Then, life got harder. My dad was getting sick, then sicker, then too sick to ignore the problem. After many false identifications, the doctors finally sat down my parents and told them something no one will ever want to hear. My dad had terminal liver cancer. No hope of recovery, Nothing they can do. It took my dad exactly 50 days from that diagnosis to pass away. My mom was devastated. They were married for 25 years at this point, 10 of which they got to enjoy as newlyweds until I arrived. They had spent more than half of their lives being each others’ spouse. She refused to leave his side during those 50 days.

My parents finally had to tell me about our situation shortly after his diagnosis.

You might ask.. If your mom and dad were away in the hospital, then what did you do with the water store? I had just turned 15 and my parents had to ask for help from random people to give me a ride to and from the store. I ran the store at age 15 for almost 2 months. There were times I stayed at the store for a week, in the back, and all that had to protect me from an intruder was an alarm system. I would wash myself in the big sink in the back of the store, walk to the Fry’s next door to get my food, and at night, treating myself to a little scoop of ice cream, to try to take some of the sadness away.

We sold the store to a couple that had heard about my family and wanted to help us in any way.

While my dad was sick, word got around in the Korean American community, mainly the churches. Eventually a man who used to work for the “family friend” heard about my family. He began to visit my parents at the hospital and brought my dad foods he was craving, and kept my mom company as my dad was usually unconscious with heavy doses of Morphine for his pain.

After my dad passed away and the distraction of the funeral has passed as well, my mom was falling deeper and deeper into her depression. There were days I was worried that I would come home from school and I’ll find that she’d taken her life. Losing one parent was difficult beyond imagination. Worrying about losing the only other parent was more than I could bare. But the new family friend was helping by visiting and eventually giving her a job at the restaurant he had just opened.

That was 2004.

For the next few years, we spent our lives working at the restaurant and me going to school in additional to working. I tried very hard to make the best of everything in my High School. I joined Student Council and got involved. But, mind you, it was difficult staying low and making sure I can at least finish high school before I get deported, should I get caught. 

In 2007, I met a college student named Louis. I was 17, almost 18, and he was 23. We had a tortured relationship, that started with arguments and ended in blackmail and rape. That relationship lasted 7 months. Long 7 months. Eventually, he figured out that I was illegally living in Arizona. When I tried to break it off for good, he started his blackmail. He told me that if I didn’t comply to his demands (sexually), he would get my mom and I deported.

My mom always told me my dad died trying to give me a good life in America and I was not about to let Louis take that away from my parents.

I let him have what he wanted, despite how much those demands left me dead inside for months to come, and he let me leave the relationship. I was depressed for a few months, and afraid for my life at night time. I was always worried he was watching me, keeping tab on me, and will eventually strike again.

In 2008, I graduated from high school and that fall, began my next step in education at Arizona State University. There began my journey towards a Bachelors of Science in Geological Sciences. My new goal was to not be deported before I graduate with my college degree, that comes at hefty price. In the 9 semesters I will have attended ASU for my degree, my mom will have spent roughly $100,000, purely on ASU bills. Not counting books, not counting living cost, not counting transportation. 

Remember Louis? To This DATE he still contacts me via Email. I just don’t respond.

Over the years between 2004 and 2012, My mom and I’s relationship with the new family friend was traumatic. Though he has done a lot for us, he also treated us badly on several occasions. It all comes from his general nature of short-fuse. He would throw things, yell at us for hours, fire us, you name it. I think he did that because he knew we had no choice but to take his tantrums, and when it’s over, forget it as if it never happened. We were fired from that damn restaurant hundreds of times.

The restaurant became the biggest source of my stress. It was providing us a way to support ourselves but it came at a high price, too, much like my education. If the restaurant was to fail, I would not be able to live here and support myself, and same for my mom. But being there was also toxic.

When SB1070 came out, I was devastated. Despite the fact that I had lived here in Arizona for almost 10 years, the message was clear: People don’t want me here. I was worried that my friends getting caught with me in their car may get into legal troubles. I was worried that I would ultimately become a college drop out who had to move back to Korea and try to find a life for myself there.

I’ve had someone tell me illegal immigrants are “vermins” who broke the laws in their homeland and had to run from the consequences.

On September 17th, 2010, I had my first date with a (almost) 23 year old named Cory. Over our dinner, I asked him how he felt about illegal immigration. He said that the subject wouldn’t affect his life much so he never paid attention. Later he told me that when he said that, I had a very coy look on my face. When he asked me after his response if I was here legally, I said no and explained why to him. I made it a point to be honest with him, regardless of what I thought this date would turn into. We have dated ever since. On July 20, 2011, Cory asked me to marry him and I said Yes. On December 3rd, 2011, we were married and by the end of February 2012, I got my 2 year Green Card. After 2 years, I may be upgraded to a 10 year Green Card, provided we are still happily married (we will be interviewed again).  A year after that, I may apply for a citizenship.

Our Lawyer told us that the government will see me as more forgivable because I came here through legal portals and did not get into any legal troubles, this being my first marriage and not having any children from a previous relationship, and being a college student.

My rule for dating was that I will not marry any guy just because he is a citizen. I said I will only marry for the love and the relationship and that is exactly what I did. Aside from the resolution of my immigration troubles, I am the happiest I ever imagined being in my life. I have finally switched from “I hope I don’t get deported before _______ is done” to “I can’t wait to graduate, get a job, put away some money, and start our own family”.

I finally have a future to look forward to and my husband has given me that hope in more than one way.

So those of you who have been thinking I am way too vocal on social media about political things, now you know why.

Being republican is not a bad thing. It does not make you a bad person in my eyes. However, I want people to know that the people they vote for can alter my life for better or worse. These politicians could easily ruin my life with one written law, like SB1070 did.

I took a lot of abuse in different form throughout my life because of my status. I’m not the only one that had to deal with that and I won’t be the last.

 

Image We live in a society in which online dating is very common.

My husband and I met online as well. With all safety measures (for safely meeting a perfect stranger from the interwebs), we had a fairly traditional first date. The only thing different is that we met at a restaurant rather than the standard pick-up at home.

But this brings me to an important question. Does online dating mean all chivalry and romance has to be absent?

Looking back to my dating experiences, if my husband had turned out to be just like all of the other men I have gone on dates with, I would not be calling him my husband today. Modern day men are boring in my opinion. They think they add spice to dating experience with forward sexual suggestions and the gung-ho “I can get any girl” attitude. But at the end of the day, I think that makes them inadequate for my attention. I can honestly say, I have been pressured on many occasion for not giving kisses or sex after one or two dates. My response was “Are you serious? I’ve known you – in person – for less than a week! Sending me a few texts before we met doesn’t automatically count as knowing each other for weeks or months!”

Let me make one thing clear. My take on sex and dating was this: Men may make their advances if they decided I’m worthy of a few humps. But I also get to make my own decision on if they are worthy of a more meaningful “spending time together”. If I decide (at least for the time being) that he is not worth it, I will not respond in a way they want. Why do they think they have the right to make me feel bad about how I feel?

After about 2 weeks since first in-person meeting and about 3 or 4 dates into it, this one guy in particular stood out. We texted daily for about a month before we met. He seemed decent enough after so long that we finally met in person. It was that 3rd or 4th date night, he was telling me how ridiculous it is that I have yet to kiss him or anything else and that he has never been on more than 2 dates without getting any. Well? I have what some call “self respect”. But it makes me sad that he is conditioned to think one or two cheap dates would get him into the most intimate aspect of my being. Clearly, he did not last very much longer in my life after that conversation.

My husband is a more than decent man. He made it so easy for me to fall in love with him while feeling perfectly safe about it. Of course, after so many jerks I have dated, I made sure to make him work for my attention because if he is not any different from the other men, he would, too, be weeded out in the process and out of my life.

Here are some beginning things he got right:

1. He paid the bill. It’s not that I want a free meal or take advantage of men. But it is nice to know there are still men out there that will pay rather than the awkward “your half is so-and-so” conversation after a possibly pleasant date.

2. He offered to drive me home after the date. This really only worked because the date was walking distance from my place of residence at the time so I walked there. It was nice for a few reasons, two being that he showed general caring for my well-being (like getting home safely and timely) and that our date ended at about 1 am.

3. He (rather unexpectedly) called me at 11am the next morning to schedule the next date. After about 10 guys I went on first dates with, I’ve received an email or text a couple of days after but never a call, let alone the next communication being scheduling the next date.

4. Our next date was less than a week after our first date. This told me that he was interested enough that he wants to see me soon after and that he’s not one of those guys with strings of women that it takes him a couple of weeks to cycle back to me.

5. He took care of all the arrangements for the second date. He showed me that he is financially investing into getting to know me. That sounds shallow, but, if a guy isn’t willing to spend money on a date with a girl, he’s more than likely looking for a quick hook-up that he has absolutely no stake in.

6. He walked me to my door and eventually worked up the nerve to hold my hand. That told me he has attraction to me, but he didn’t maul me. So I was comfortable with how he was handling the affection part of dating.

7. He let me start the conversation on why I have yet to kiss him about 4 or 5 dates after. He didn’t pressure me into feeling bad and into discussing affection. After a while, I felt that I should let him in on why I won’t kiss him and about when he should expect it. I told him I probably won’t be ready to until we are ready to get into an actual relationship (and open to our friends and family about it) for my own protection.

8. He told me he understood. No pressure. Ever.

9. When it came time for us to become officially boyfriend and girlfriend, he did not make me feel bad that I’m making him jump through hoops. It genuinely felt like he wanted to have a relationship with me.

10. Since then, he has never gone a single day without telling me how beautiful he thinks I am.

The truth is, from the beginning, I had him standing atop a flap door on the floor with a switch in my hand. One shaky moment could have landed him in my pile of men I didn’t want anything to do with. But he showed me through sincere gestures and listening that he cares about me and not just my reproductive organs’ function.

Guys out there, don’t treat girls like they are walking vaginas. Just like you would never want your little sister or daughter treated in that way, they are important to somebody out there. Just because we live in this fast paced world, it doesn’t mean romance has to be fast. Take the time to get to know each other, gain some respect for each other, and then decide if you should be intimate with each other.

Divorce rates are up at an epidemic speed. Those things aren’t because of anything besides the fact that we don’t bother to talk about the important things. Despite getting married a little after a year of being together, we knew from the beginning that the moment either of us felt that this relationship isn’t the keeper, we would end it. With that in mind, we made sure to really discuss everything from finances, dreams, expectations, to our ideal plans. Sex is an important part of a relationship but not everything. Communication is, really, the biggest reason for majority of the divorces and rather than jumping into bed, I hope you will look at each other from across the table and talk, even about the private and uncomfortable things.

Today ..

Someone accused me of being a racist. I have never given it a serious thought but this incident made me realize that when someone makes that kind of accusation, it’s very serious, offensive (when it isn’t true), and something that deserves a serious consideration before being said out loud or communicated.

A long time ago, I had asked a black person if they preferred to be called (not by me in particular, but in general, like the media or by others) as a black or African American. I had explained to this person that I was asking out of political/social curiosity and that I never had anyone within proximity to ask. Apparently, this person took it very offensively even though they answered the question by saying they do not have a preference as long as they are not called “nigger” – perfectly understandable. Today, she told me that this instant was when she started disliking me and saw me as a racist that treats her as less than human.

As a person of race myself, I also have to go through the motion of people asking questions out of ignorance or out of curiosity in the context of my race and origin. But I have never felt that those people were in any way being racist towards me.

And then it made me ask myself :

Am I abnormal? Do other people of color go through life being paranoid that around every corner, someone there is going to hate them because of the color of their skin?

There is a poll added to this blog so I can see the general response of everyone that reads this.

When my parents moved us here many years ago, they said this was the place I could live up to my potential and this country could offer me more than others. I’m starting to wonder exactly how drunk they were when they made that decision.

Over the last couple of years, I started to realize that the side that is fighting for justice and what is right should win. But when that line between right and wrong is blurred, then all hell breaks loose.

On Wednesday, December 9th, 2010, there was a vote that took place in the House of Representatives over DREAM Act. This bill would provide a legal path to eventual citizenship to illegal immigrant students and the young adults that join the US military. The republicans have showed tremendous immaturity by referring to this bill as the “Nightmare Act”. The way I see it, I think this bill should pass. I would like it better if it was stricter, like, rather than a two-year college education, it should require getting a bachelors. But at the end of the day – all other issues with illegal immigrations aside – the side that says “yes” to this bill seems to be the one that is fighting for justice.

Most people seem to want to stick the crime of these young people’s parents on the kids. But let’s take a step back and logically talk about this. What if your parents committed a crime and you had to be indicted with them because you were a minor who simply resided where your parents lived? In this country, people seem to have no problem coming up with all sorts of bogus excuses to get away with committing a crime (like insanity) yet they can’t excuse the crime children unknowingly committed.

Let’s take another step into this issue. This bill could help solve a lot of psychological issues in these young adults. If anyone is aware, there was a man who sent in a postcard to the Anonymous Postcard program. One can see easily that he is going through some serious conflict. He feels that he doesn’t belong in the US, nor does he feel that he belongs in his “home country”. In fact, for most illegal immigrant children, their “home country” is better described as a place of origin. It’s as foreign of a land to them as it is you any American citizen. Imagine yourself living in a country for a long time, loving that country, believing in that country, and contributing to this country what they can at a young age. One day, you learn that you are hated just for being there. You can’t get a job, can’t afford college, can’t drive, or travel, even, for fear of getting caught. Almost daily, the the thought of going back to the country of your citizenship but something stops you. What makes you stop is the realization that you would go back to relatives that are strangers, people you may have never even seen or spoken to your whole existence. What stops you is that you may not speak their language. What stops you is that you know nothing about their culture. What stops you is that you lived your whole life thinking you are American and the thought of having to change your whole life, whole existence, whole identity.. having to leave all your friends behind, and having nothing “back home”. Just imagine yourself as the person with all these dilemmas.

The truth is.. they feel like they are a prisoner in this country – and for faults that are not of their own. What’s more daunting is that they feel like they would be even more enslaved if they go back to where they came from.

What should make Americans fear out of losing these kids is that because of their parents’ action, this country has been depriving these kids of their true potential. They could have been anything, and they could have been the key to this country being even more successful. What America should fear is that the kids that did get to receive their college degrees will take their American education back to their home country and better that country rather than the United States.

I really hope that the Senate has the sense and compassion to pass this bill today. I know that at least today, I have a shot at finding faith that has long been lost in the American political system.

I used to think this country was everything. I used to think this country could do anything. Over the years, I had to stand corrected. I hope today is the day I am finally right.

“Hello Summer, I’ve been dying to meet you” were the exact words I used to greet my summer vacation.

As long as it has been, it was also one of the best summers of my life. In fact, it may possibly be the most memorable.

This summer, I did a lot of growing up. I experienced things that I didn’t think I would get to and I got to try new things. I also got to revisit some old memories and somehow manage to make new friends.

The biggest highlight of my summer was my 9-day camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. This could have potentially been a difficult trip that might make me hang up my geologist hat for good. I was lucky, though. As the days went on, the more I realized I could not have picked a better career. We were on a supervolcano. That was very exciting for me considering I was already in love with it before I even saw it in person. We also went fish fossil digging in Kemmerer. At first, I didn’t know what I was doing. But about 10 minutes into it, the digging was almost like second nature. I wasn’t the best, of course, but I felt that I had enough in me to know I am a geologist, like I was destined. This trip definite confirmed that my decision to get a degree in Geological Sciences was a wise one.

Next highlight was visiting California. My friend and I went to LA to relax and have some fun while getting away from the craziness of our daily lives at home. I had already lived with her for a year before this trip and I thought that I knew enough about her to be okay on this trip together. We were more than okay. We got along very well, we had a lot to talk about, and I loved learning more about her. See, I already thought she was a great person. Now I think she’s one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. We stayed on Sunset Boulevard while visiting Santa Monica beach, Venice beach, downtown LA, and Hollywood Boulevard. I learned that the beach isn’t as scary as I always thought in my head.

Lastly, I got to be a Fall Welcome Coordinator. It was a lot of busy work, a lot of being in the sun, a lot of tiredness. But it was all worth it and never for a second did I regret my decision to take part in it. I got to be a leader to 16 wonderful incoming freshmen who were already interested in being involved. I think I can proudly say I had the best group out of the bunch. I met some incredible young adults and I hope I gave them a good first impression of their college career. My advice to them was “don’t do stupid shit” and I hope they took me seriously on that. I would love it if these kids stayed in contact with me and come to me if they ever need anything. Thanks to facebook, that should be easy to do. It was rewarding in many ways and I hope to return to that position next year.

This summer, I didn’t get to relax as much as I thought I would. My days were made busy by work, studying, and trying to keep that strong bond between my friends and I. But I understand myself better now. I’m still the same person I was before the summer but I’m a little more confident and sure of myself. I think I finally get that I deserve good things. I see that I’m not incapable of feelings and that I don’t always have to find logic in everything. I got to accept my past failures and learned from them. I was always motivated but now I see the point of my motivation. I give tough love but I see that sometimes it’s okay to be gentle. But best of all, I finally know that I’m not such a terrible person. I’ve stopped beating myself up for my past mistakes, heartache, and failures.

Sometimes we become so used to being the one that is led that we forget how to be the ones who lead.

Being a leader to leaders is a job that is more difficult than people recognize.

I have been a leader most of my life. It started with being the president of my class when I was in second grade to student body treasurer in high school. Now I get to be a leader to a group of eighteen people. They are leaders as well and that makes me nervous to see how it will pan out.

I have yet to meet my group in person but I have every reason to believe that these incoming college freshmen are ones with leadership backgrounds from high school. Though they will be leading their fellow incoming freshmen during the next week of events, I am pleased to be someone that helps bridge the gap between them and the real college experience and, hopefully, give them a way to safely and efficiently taste every bit of college that they can.

Leadership is never an easy concept. Many attempt and most fail. That’s the challenge that it comes with. However, if you are one of the select few, you will be successful. I think that success in leadership comes from not only the leader themselves, but also from their subordinates. I hope that the next week of my life will be a successful one. I hope nobody in my group will be sick, dehydrated, or lazy. I hope that I will turn out to be as good of a leader as I like to think I am.

Being a leader of leaders is definitely a challenge.

According to ACADV.org, 7% of all murder victims were women who were killed by their boyfriends.

Many women of any age experience abusive relationships. Sometimes women don’t accept that verbal is still abuse. Some women have experienced rape, some experienced beatings, some were hit with very painful words. But at the end of the day, it’s up to us to stop these things from happening to us.

This may surprise many of you as not many people actually know this about my past.

I was fortunate enough to have the support of my closest friends when I was going through my abusive relationship. They were there to help guide me through the difficult times, encourage me to leave him, and helped me leave him. These were not easy times. There had been days I had to call my best friend, crying, and asking her to come and be with me. There were days I was so deep in depression, I had no appetite for life. But I’m a fine example of getting past that hurdle.

What was my abuse? Rape, choking, minor hitting, extensive verbal abuse, and mental abuse.

It all started with arguments. I thought that was normal for two people in a relationship to argue. We were always arguing about stupid things. One minute, he would want to be serious with our relationship and I didn’t want to. Next minute, he wanted to just be casual and I wanted to be serious.

Then we had our first kiss. And it was the best damn first kiss I have ever had.

But I didn’t know what else was in store for me.

From there on, he started forcing himself on me every day that we were together. I would tell him I wanted to actually go out and do things instead of always putting his need ahead of everything else.

Then the most ridiculous argument that lasted for the remainder of that relationship began. He started blaming me for him forcing himself on me. He said I left him no choice but to because I would never show affection. I would respond and say that I’m not in the mood to show any affection because before I had to chance to show any, he ripped them out of me.

I was 18. I was stupid and didn’t know any better. Sometimes people that abuse you are also the most loving people you’ll know. That is, when he’s not abusing you, he’ll treat you like a princess. Being stupid, I wanted to work it out.

After this particularly big fight we had, I tried to talk it out with him. Once again, he forced himself on me and then once he was done, he began choking me. That night, I’ve gone close to actually dying. This was a couple of weeks before I was to leave for a Student Council National Conference in a different state. Once I left, I told him I never wanted to see him again and that he needs to show himself out of my life.

But he always found ways to weasel himself back into my life. We continued on with our argumentative, frustrating, and sad relationship. Thus continuation of my hell on earth.

Then he cheated on me with multiple women. He said he cheated a few times and one of the women, he was in love with. That he not only was in love with her, but also with me. He doesn’t know who to choose and that he feels terrible. He was given the order to choose one. He chose her. I thought my hell had finally ended.

Boy, was I wrong. Again, weaseled himself back into my life. He said he made a mistake and that I was the one. Then he asked me to marry him. And then he took it back. I hope you can see how I could have been so confused throughout this entire relationship.

Then I met this guy, Michael, who ultimately saved me from all this. My abuser did not take that too well.

He began blackmailing me. He threatened to deport me. He threatened to hurt me. He threatened to hurt my friends. He threatened to hurt Michael.

I was 18 and I didn’t know better.

I gave him everything he wanted, including my pride. What he wanted was to have one last night to have his way with me. That night, I died on the inside. That was the night I became this cold shell I am now. From that moment on, I swore I would never love a man. I’ll say I love someone but I wouldn’t actually love. That was the night I lost myself.

The things that happened that night are far too embarrassing and humiliating for me to say. I have mentally blocked out anything that has anything to do with him from then on.

He continued to email, text, and call every now and then. Same story over and over. It’s been 3 years now.

He always expressed his regrets for the way he treated me. He said he fucked up and would do anything for a second chance. He always says he’s still in love with me. He still says he wants to marry me, have a life with me, and make me happy for once. But he’ll never have that.

After a while, I finally told him that I am incapable of seeing change in him even if he’s an angel now. That he mustn’t respond to this email because I’ll just send it to trash and not read it. I said I don’t care what he has to say.

I haven’t heard back.

Maybe I finally fought off the demon.

But the point is, NO GIRL DESERVES TO BE ABUSED. MEN WHO ABUSE WOMEN ARE LOUSY AND UNWORTHY. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE IN THIS TYPE OF SITUATION, DO WHAT EVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET AWAY. RUN IF YOU HAVE TO.

Remember, I was there. It was so bad, I wanted to jump out of his car in the middle of a highway because I thought death would be the only thing that would allow me to get away from him. I remember wishing he would just kill me already. I remember trying to die because the darkness in my heart and mind possessed me.

Stress… We all feel it. Sometimes it leads you to do questionable things that are outside of your character, sometimes it makes us look crazy.

As a college student, I’m only a stereotypical example of overworked, over-studied, and over-exhausted human. Sometimes sleep must be scheduled rather than a daily practice. Sometimes the food we eat have nothing to do with the concept of nutritional value. Sometimes it may lead us to just not give a damn anymore about anything.

I look at some of my peers who seem to have everything figured out and I wonder how it is possible for them to not pull out all their hair and run around like madmen.

Stress plays an important role in our bodily health as well as mental health. But most of all, when it weakens your mentality, it weakens our body and immune system, and we fall ill.

How do you conquer stress? Do you have a general routine you follow by to reduce it? Or do you do something spontaneous?

“Who doesn’t long for someone to hold, who knows how to love you without being told?” – Soulmate by Natasha Bedingfield.

I’ll start with this: I have been deeply hurt before. Invested some trust in some people and that went sour. Shit hit the fan, jar of worms opened, and my world imploded. I’ve read self-help books that didn’t do much helping. I’ve talked to spiritual leaders. I’ve talked to friends. And I’ve tried self loathing.

In light of my not-so-recent-anymore single-hood, I’ve started to dig deeper to find myself. For a long time, I’ve been so used to jumping practically from one relationship to another, that I forgot how to be single, how to not be someone’s girlfriend. I had a hard time for a while in getting used to my new situation.

But I come face to face with yet another challenge.

It’s no secret that I’m afraid of commitment. I think it’s a great thing to have and I would love to have that. But at the same time I am unsure if I’ll ever stop fearing it. I’ve seen infidelity in marriages, in relationships, and hearts breaking. Hell, my abusive ex cheated on me and I’m afraid to know how many others were involved. I think that is a huge thing for me that contributes to my fear of commitments.

It’s become very difficult for me to see things from an emotional stand point. It’s also become nearly impossible for me to open up my emotions to someone. And I mean real emotions. In fact, I’m not always sure if I have emotions anymore or if I had gotten rid of that ability just so I won’t have to feel sad because of some past events.

It’s hard to abandon your ways of following your head versus your heart.

This is a tribute to some of the best people I have ever known.

Heartbreaks, self doubt, test of one’s abilities, and questioning your God or whatever else life might throw at you, they are all pretty much inevitable. You can swerve around as many corners as you can manage to, but you know you can’t dodge them.

Your friends will be there for you, as mine have been there for me when I needed support. A lot of you assisted me through the months when I was tortured and destroyed. A lot of you gave me something to believe in when I lost faith. And a lot of you let me spill my guts to you when my heart was breaking or I hit my ultimate bottom. Some of you haven’t, but not because you didn’t want to. I just didn’t know you at the time or I thought you needed to be protected from some of the things I went through because of age or whatnot.

What I learned is that friends will be there for you when you need them. What I also learned is that all friends can be is your support system, your pillars. In the end, it’s up to you to keep yourself up.

Now, some of you, I know of your individual troubles, some of you I don’t know yours. I write to you in hopes that if any of you are privately going through a hard time right now, knowing I’ll be there for you will help.

I also want you to realize that it’s okay to doubt yourself, your religion, your heart, or your logic. It’s okay to sometimes stop and say “why am I doing this?”.

But what matters is how you let these tests affect you. What matters is how you hold yourself up. What matters is that you hold yourself up. But only you can do that.

Live up to your own expectations, not that of others. Do what you have to do to be happy. Keep your minds, bodies, and emotions healthy. After all, if you aren’t happy with yourself, it’ll be very difficult to live.

Have confidence in you. You are all great people. Best, if you ask me. You have goals in life and I know you’re more than capable of achieving that for yourselves. But remember, for you, not others.

I love you guys. Be strong.

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