It's been some time. When I had less responsibilities, I had so much more time to blog, and so many things I wanted to share on here. That was when I was in my 20's. So here's an attempt to catch you up, all three of you. You have no idea how long I've been thinking about this entry before I finally sat down to type. Hint: it's more six months.


Where shall we begin. Career?


If you've been following my journey, I've been somewhat of a nomad with an ambiguous story about what I did for a living. I did a stint in New York at a PR agency (now defunct), then writing freelance in Shanghai, to working as an intern at Uber one year into their founding in San Francisco, and finally to Nicaragua where I worked with women entrepreneurs and lived with three different families throughout the program. I never had a steady income during those uncertain times, but I don't know many 20 y/o's who have as many adventures to recall. I had so moments of feeling lost, moments where  envisioning an office job for myself seemed impossible. Why is this the epitome of success to us? Saving that one for another post.


There's always been a secret that I carried with me. Some in my circle may have figured it out, but I never told a soul, and I carried it with me for over a decade. It grew black roots of guilt deep inside me, of all the lies I had to tell to keep it hidden. I kept the secret so close to my heart that I was afraid one day I would get drunk in front of someone and blurt it out. And then they'd laugh at me for being such a failure. 


For never finishing college. For dropping out when I was a sophomore. 


I only recently told this to someone other than my therapist a year ago. Two years into my marriage, did I finally tell the lover. That's how deep I buried this secret. 



It's not that rare of a journey. There are a lot of people who take alternative paths, who veer off the beaten path only to find their own at their own pace. For me, my secret was steeped in shame. I couldn't take the shame of how I had failed to stay in school, when so many of my peers managed to. There were many factors that contributed to the consecutive failing grades that forced the university to drop me; but I never gave myself a pass, and never understood that it wasn't my fault until much later when I met the right therapist. 


For example, I never knew that I suffer from depression until I finally got so sick of the critic living rent-free inside my head that I ultimately sought out a psychiatrist who confirmed that I have chronic depression. And even after being diagnosed, I was still gaslighting myself. 


I thought I was being dramatic, over emphasizing every emotion, every event and that the anti-depressants were having a placebo affect on me. I thought I was feeling better because I was never sick to begin with. It wasn't until when I took a break from the medication to switch to a different one that I realized how bad it. The gap between medications were my darkest moments. I couldn't believe I used to function through life feeling that heavy every single day. 


The secret lead to an inferiority complex because I felt deficient and an imposture syndrome because I was surrounded by overachievers. I never felt good enough. And the anxiety about being found out ultimately culminated into severe panic attacks. The truth has a violent way of forcing you to reckon with it. And it always catches up to you. 



So after bawling my eyes out when I turned 30, I vowed that I would do my best to catch up to everyone around me. That was the only way I would obliterate my inferiority complex, my imposture syndrome, my anxiety. I had gone back to school in secrecy, finishing what I started, years ago. I no longer felt like I needed to lie about my education on my resume which was a relief. I pushed myself so hard that eventually, with my state college degree, caught up to my husband's salary. He has two Ivy League degrees. 


This isn't a nicely wrapped story. There were dark days where I couldn't drag myself out of bed, where I didn't shower for a week. There was a lot of medication and sometimes I popped a Xanax before I got into the office. There is still a lot of medication. The mountains that seemed impossible to mount are now molehills. It's easier to climb the next ones now that I'm not weighted down by the trauma of my past. 


I've only told this story to two people - my therapist and the lover. 


And now you.


This is what growth looks like. It's accepting your story and acknowledging how it got you here today. It's forgiving yourself for not knowing better, for giving into your desires and not your discipline. It's believing that you are good until you know that you are goodness, itself. It's believing in yourself so much that you don't need anyone else to. I'm still working on it because I know I didn't need a degree, a job, a high salary, to be enough. I'm still unpacking what it means to be enough for myself without the trappings of capitalism. 


This is how I am healing today. But how are you, really?


xx





image via, all other images are from my tumblr, which holds their credits ;)