If you must, start over.
Shatter your bones and strip down your soul. Swallow your pride and massacre your ego. Bury your memories and embrace the fierce pain. Burn every bridge to light your way. Send your stars into oblivion and start again.
If that is what you have to do to figure out how to live, how to love, and how to love yourself, then do so.
– Johnny Nguyen
Throughout our lives, we strive to hide our scars to project the best version of us. We try to define ourselves and our place in the world through our careers, friendships or relationships. My whole life I’ve been called a pushover, because I care too much about the people I love. For so many years I had to bury my troubles so I can be strong for other people.
I’m half Filipino, half Chinese and grew up in a predominantly Catholic country where women are supposed to be prim and proper. My Chinese side of the family always treated us like we were less than because we were mixed. My Filipino side of the family only considered any of us successful if it was on their own terms. “If you’re not a doctor or a lawyer then what are you doing with your life?”
I grew up in the islands but also lived a good chunk of my childhood in LA. I always struggled to find my roots, and where I belonged until I eventually learned that I can only find that in myself. I have two homes. I am Chinese and Filipino and American. I am so grateful to live in this city where everybody is different and your strength comes from your uniqueness.
I thought I lost myself when I fell in love. I broke up with the guy I lived with for 2 years because it was starting to drain me. I had no room to fuck up, because he was going through a lot in life. I tried all that I could to be strong for him because he was too for me. For a year I was angry, hated being in my own home and partied a lot to mask my sadness. I abandoned my friends and my family because I was guilty and embarrassed with the reality of the situation. I stopped blaming him for everything when I realized that I was miserable because I was afraid to accept my choices. I locked myself out because I was too prideful to ask for help. I pretended to be strong but really I was too chickenshit. I stopped believing in myself all together.
I had closed myself off for a year to find my bearings and regain control of my life. I had to learn to unapologetically put myself first and refuse to look back. Along the way I found peace.
My family stuck by me through it all and so did my friends. Through my struggles, my Mom and I got closer than ever. I burned a lot of bridges so I could pave my own path. I’m sorry, I’m not really sorry.
I will never let anybody define me and tell me who I am ever again, I am tough but I’m not cold, I care a lot but I’m not foolish. I will never stop being optimistic and loving because the world is cruel and terrifying. I will keep wearing my stains on the outside of my clothes. I will continue to be proud of my battle scars. My mistakes are the reason I am better today than yesterday.
Life is too short to waste your time on things that don’t nurture your soul. Find your peace, and everything will fall into place. Trust your journey.