Real Talk: Last Night, I Had a Panic Attack.

Ever since I hit grade 12, I haven’t been shy to talk about my mental illness when I’m approached. I consider it really important for people to speak out about their struggles with mental illness because it’s all very internal, and people always think they are alone.

Today, the subject of mental illness has really been weighing heavily on my heart. So I thought I would share my story in full so it’s out there for people who feel all alone to find, and know that they aren’t by themselves.

So here it is:

From the day I was able to make conscious thought, I was a nervous person.

I can’t tell you how many times as a child I was so nervous about different things, that it caused a lot of fear, crying, and an unwillingness to do things that made me feel that way. Looking back on it now, I realize I worried an unhealthy amount, definitely way more than a child should.

I remember when I was in the first grade, we all had to take care of a beetle. Our teacher gave each of us a plastic container with a little handle, filled with dirt and sticks, and one little beetle. I was getting on the bus one morning, holding this tiny container, when I tripped on my way down the narrow aisle. My container hit the ground, bursting open, and my blue beetle zipped away and out the window. I was so horrified, I began to cry.

Not because I was hurt, or was sad about losing my newfound pet, but because I was so extremely worried. What would my teacher say? Would she be mad at me? Would my mark on this insignificant beetle project suffer? I cried and cried, overwhelmed with this anxiety that my actions would have the scariest consequences.

When I got to school, my teacher wiped my tears and told me she’d give me another beetle when I tried to apologize over my shaking sobs.

Maybe that should have been my first warning sign.

I was that kid that cried over spilled milk. All because I was worried about what would happen, what kind of trouble I’d get into, what kind of inconvenience I was causing others. But at this point, I was thought of as nothing more than “sensitive” by my teachers, my parents, my peers… It was just one of those things that kids outgrew eventually.

Except, I never really grew out of it.

My whole life, I’ve lived with a constant nagging feeling that something will go wrong. Think about the strange sense of nervousness you get right before a big test; your head feels foggy, your hands are pretty clammy, and your body is tingling with a sense of dread. That’s kind of how I feel, for the most part of my life.

As I grew older, life became more stressful. With that, it became much harder to handle this constant throbbing of anxiety hidden deep within my chest.

Throughout my childhood, I was considered “very bright”. I was always a few steps ahead, and brought home report cards full of straight A’s. Somehow, in my weird mind of mine, I got it into my head that any sort of failure would result in disappointment from my family and friends, and that absolutely could not happen.

It’s crazy how interconnected anxiety and perfectionism are.

My second warning sign came around the time I was 12-years-old. I was in the seventh grade, and we were doing an assignment in math. We were using a computer program to complete a package of worksheets on geometry.

Absolutely everyone was struggling. The program did not have a user-friendly interface, especially for pre-teens who were still kinda new at the whole “tech savvy” thing. I remember I was so stressed about it.

One of my friends was teasing me about the assignment, but they seemed to take note of my mounting distress. “Carole,” they said, “don’t worry. It’s going to be fine.”

And I lost it.

“It’s not going to be fine!” I snapped, feeling a rush of tears in my eyes, the painful knot of worry pulsing hard inside my heart. “I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t!”

My friend’s face was bewildered, scared even. They slowly inched away from me.

Everyone left me alone, hoping I’d get better with some space.

It wasn’t until grade 10, that I knew something was wrong.

I was struggling to understand grade 10 academic math. I wanted to, but it was the beginning of the year, and I was just having so much difficulty. Something that once seemed so natural to me, was foreign in front of my very eyes.

I remember the day I got one of my unit tests back. This strange numbness overwhelmed my whole body. My head felt like I was lost in the clouds, my body was moving on its own. All I could feel was that familiar sense of panic. That fear, that worry, because I didn’t know what I was going to do next.

Everything was all blurry. I moved in a subdued autopilot to my locker, grabbed my lunch, went into the cafeteria and sat beside my best friend. I must have looked like a ghost, because he looked at me with a very concerned expression. “Carole….? Are you okay?”

And I just started to cry.

All at once all these emotions just broke into a big mess that I couldn’t sort through. “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!” is all I could say over and over again. The whole room was spinning, I couldn’t breathe, nothing in my body was cooperating.

It took me half an hour to calm down and stop sobbing.

My friends were shaken. They didn’t know how to help me. They tried their best, they really did. One of my friends bought me a cookie when I stopped crying, trying to cheer me up. I was just tired from my strange outburst of panic. I wanted to go home.

That was the moment I knew there was something wrong with me.

No one else ever had moments like that. I remember things that would bring me to tears would not even phase some of my friends. I felt like an outsider in my own body. Why did everything make me so worried? Why did I panic about everything?

This continued on for the whole semester. And then I put grade 10 math behind me, and tried to keep going about my life like everything was normal.

But I wasn’t okay.

Grade 11 hit me hard, just like grade 10 did. I cried about math tests, wiped away the tears, and told myself to keep going. I had to keep pushing. I had to keep ignoring how I felt. I just had to get through it. Everything will be fine, I would say to myself. That didn’t help the overwhelming nerves I got when I was waiting for my teacher to hand back my test paper.

Soon, I found that this nervousness never left me. It was always there. Even when I had nothing to worry about, I still felt stressed. I could try to relax for a while, but start feeling guilty and nervous that I was forgetting something.

It was exhausting.

I couldn’t sleep. I became afraid to be left alone with my own thoughts. I didn’t like lying in the dark while I began to overthink about almost anything until I felt like I would burst into tears. I would just stay up reading books, and stories people wrote online until I woke up the next day, not really sure when I fell asleep at all.

I didn’t know what to tell people. I didn’t understand why life just seemed so difficult for me. Something has to be wrong with me, I would always tell myself, everyone else seems to handle life so well. All I do is cry, and think about something bad that’s going to happen.

Then, I found out about anxiety on the internet.

I had met a few friends online from twitter, and they would always talk about their mental illnesses and such. So I looked it up. I read about generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders, OCD… I remember the way my hands trembled, and how I cried alone in my bedroom. It felt too real. It felt like me.

I remember the day I told my mom I thought I had anxiety.

She was sitting on my bed when the smile from her face seemed to drop. “But… You’re so happy.”

I was happy. I’ve always been a smiley kid. I have a good life. But none of that seemed to matter when it was late at night, and I found myself crying just in fear of something bad happening in my life.

The next time I went to the doctor, I told her I thought I was anxious. She wrote me up a referral to a psychiatrist.

My dad took me to the psychiatrist’s office. If you hadn’t known better, it could’ve been any other doctor’s office. The room had a faded old brown carpet, tan coloured walls, beige seats. Everything was so monochrome, as though trying not to trigger anything inside somebody.

I didn’t see a psychiatrist that day. I saw a nurse. She had a questionnaire, to ask my questions about how I felt. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t let on to how bad my problems really were. I was scared.

The nurse thanked me for my time.

My dad and I left. We ate McDonalds for lunch, laughing and having a good time.

I didn’t hear back from the psychiatrist’s office for over a year.

In the meanwhile, I continued to navigate through life on my own. Grade 12 was one of the hardest, but also most rewarding years of my life. It was so complicated. I could go into so much detail, but I’d never be able to cover it all.

To try and summarize it all, I had a lot of stress; just as most grade 12s do. But paired with my anxiety and lack of outlet, I didn’t know how to cope. I was in grade 12 advanced functions, and I was suffering. I would get so anxious to the point where I couldn’t form a thought. I’d forget everything I’d learn, stare at a blank page, and have to hand in a test that wasn’t even half completed.

I remember going into my school guidance office to ask for an IEP, because I could not finish in time. I needed extra time.

I met with my guidance counsellor. We talked for a long time. She agreed to let me write my tests in the guidance office with extra time. But she also told me, I should see the school social worker for my anxiety.

That didn’t really help me either.

I was crumbling, falling apart at the seams. Almost every day I would leave first period math crying. Pair that with grade 12 stress, such as preparing for my university auditions, maintaining grades, a social life, working at my job. I was a mess.

My music teacher, bless her soul, was someone that really helped me during that time. She was always there for me when I needed her. She offered me advice that was hard to take, but beneficial.

My friends were always there for me when I was having a hard day.

I think if I didn’t have the support system of people I had, I would not be here today.

I finally met with a psychiatrist when I was starting to get better. I was trying to reorganize my life, change my way of thinking, learn to live without an overwhelming cloud of anxiety hanging over me.

I spoke with the psychiatrist about my experiences in the past few years. He told me, yes, I did have generalized anxiety disorder. If he had met me a year ago, he would have put me on medicine to help. But for the most part, I was doing well, learning to handle my anxiety on my own.

And I have been. For the past few months, I’ve been doing really well. I’ve been handling stress at my own pace, teaching myself how to go through things one at a time.

But just because I’m getting better, doesn’t mean it’s gone.

Yesterday, I had a panic attack.

Nothing in particular brought it on, but I felt it was coming. I was sitting at my kitchen table, just looking through my phone when I felt this nudging of nervousness start forming in the pit of my stomach. I usually try to ignore this, hoping it would go away. But it didn’t.

I hadn’t felt this way in months.

By the time I was in bed, my hands were shaking. I tried to focus on something else. I tried reading little stories online. It didn’t help. I started hyperventilating and crying, overwhelmed with anxiety that had no reason to exist.

Today, I’m here to tell you, that it was okay.

Yes, I had a panic attack.

Yes, it felt like I had lost all the progress I’ve made in the past few months.

Yes, it took me over an hour to calm down.

BUT,

I won’t let my mental illness define me.

I won’t allow for this to set me back.

I won’t let myself fall apart like I did before.

Mental illness is something powerful and scary. It’s truly terrifying to think that your own mind can be working against you. But I’m writing this long winded blog post to tell you that it is okay.

Do not let yourself suffer alone.

If I had gotten the help I needed earlier, so much of the strife I experienced could have been avoided.

There is nothing wrong with having a mental illness. It is not something that’s “all in your head”. There is a valid reason why you feel a certain way. Don’t ever let someone discredit how you feel.

If you think you are suffering from a mental illness, please tell a doctor.

Lastly, be strong. Your brain is a powerful tool. It fights against you with a vigour. But your brain is also yours. Fight with all your might. Even with medicine, with counselling, with all the help in the world, you still need to have the willingness to fight.

Mental illness is a battle I will be fighting probably until the end of my life. The key is to never stop. Because there is so much you are capable of, and so much that you can accomplish and nothing, not even mental illness can dare stop you.

I believe in you. And I believe in me.

Believe that things can always always get better.

And know that I am always always here if you need someone.

– Carole

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My World of Boy Friends

Have I grabbed your attention with this flashy title?

Good. I do hope you took note of the strategic space between “boy” and “friends” because surprise surprise, I’m super single, and I always have been.

No, this blog post is not me bragging or bashing my past relationships (come on guys, I’m not T-swift here), but rather all the boys in my life that I realize now have made my life very different from the typical Disney channel plastic storyline.

I find a lot of plot lines use “boy friends” simply as comic relief or their ulterior motive is to have the boy fall in love with the girl. For me, that’s never been the case.

It’s interesting to me now because I’m very different from how I was as a small child, yet things have hardly changed at all. As a kid, I was always a weird mix between a tomboy and a girly-girl. I hated wearing dresses, skirts, frilly socks, headbands, etc. but I loved wearing glitter, every shade of pink imaginable, flowers and all that. To some extent, these things carried with me into puberty and my teen years.

I remember when I was in grade 2, I had just moved to a new town, and had left my friends behind in my old city. Up until that point, I hadn’t really talked to anyone except the girl who I met on my first day of kindergarten at the bus stop, and one other girl in our class.

I felt really alienated from most of the girls in my new class. This was no one’s fault really, it was just one of things that happened in life. A lot of them had known each other since pre-k in this small town, and most of them were white. I really just didn’t have anything in common with them.

Instead, I found myself gravitated toward a group of 3 Asian boys. Maybe it was because they were Asian, or maybe it was because they were boys, but I just felt like I belonged there so much more.

I found that boys cared less about what you wore, were more willing to take risks, or rough themselves up. We would chase each other all recess long, pretending we were superheroes or Pokémon, which resulted in lots of scraped knees and bloody noses, but those was probably some of the greatest times of my childhood.

At that point, it didn’t really concern anybody that I didn’t have any girl friends. It was really cute that I was friends with a bunch of Asian boys, and look! How cute! This little girl’s not afraid to scruff up her knees! (There are so many strange sexist undertones in these ideas, but that’s a whole different topic).

It wasn’t until I was older than I started to run into problems.

By grade 4, I had a nice group of friends. There were 6 of us, and we lived in this perfect harmony of playing pretend and running after each other. And of course, it was me, and 5 boys. But of course, 10 year olds can only run into one problem in their pre-pubescent lives…

Crushes and cooties.

The trouble first started when one of the boys in our group of friends developed the most innocent, tiny crush on me. It was nothing crazy. He just enjoyed talking to me, and was really friendly. At one point I remember playing Pokémon, and one of my other friends supposedly “wounded” me. This boy with a little crush on me, swooped down, gathered me in his arms and gave me the biggest hug.

“It’s okay Carole, I’ll heal you!”

The game fell into a standstill, and the rest of the boys froze. How inconceivable! A boy?? Hugging a girl?? Crazy!

The rest of them stared for a painful moment or so before one asked, “What are you doing?”

Of course, I was quickly let go of. “Nothing!” was the embarrassed response. I’d never seen somebody turn so red before.

I vaguely remember the first time a pair in our class got “together”. They would bat their eyelashes at each other, pass notes written in blindingly pink highlighter, and hold hands at recess. This lasted for about 1 full school day, but the damage was done. Everyone was thinking about “boy/girl” pairs, and all of a sudden, being “just friends” was no longer an option.

My friends, every single one of them, were afraid people would think we were “dating” if they were seen with me. No one wanted to deal with the “embarrassment” and teasing that came with being a couple. Instead of running around together, they were running away from me. I found myself frustrated and lonely. I had no friends anymore. My boy friends had banded together and refused to talk to me. I still didn’t understand the girls in my class (and besides, I didn’t know any of them well enough for us to be friends, they still all moved about in those cliques they formed in kindergarten).

By this point, I wished I had made some girl friends, or stayed in my hometown, because I was so lonely. This lasted up until grade 5, until one new girl moved into town and befriended me. I decided from that moment on, I was swearing off boy friends for good. They were unreliable, mean, and I couldn’t trust them. After all, who becomes friends with someone, stays for years, and then decides to just move on because they suddenly became aware their friend was a girl?

I was so over it.

It didn’t help either that boys I had thought were my friends started to bully me. I see now that it was all because everyone in middle school is extremely immature and insecure, but at the time, I remember feeling extremely betrayed. They would call me names, steal my things, and all around made my life miserable.

I eventually made a lot of girl friends, and it was fun for a while… But things turned sour really fast. All they really wanted to do was gossip, cause drama with each other, cry to me about their feelings, and feel the need to not include me or invite me to social gatherings. (This is also another story for another time).

By this point I was really losing my mind. Girls weren’t good friends, boys weren’t good friends… Who was I supposed to be friends with?!

I’m really thankful that myself, and the others around me, were able to grow the heck up. I ditched my toxic friends. They weren’t really doing anything for me, and it was quite easy since they all kind of left me, no strings attached.

Though there was a lot of struggle, I eventually found a place where I truly felt like I fit somewhere. And it just so happened to be yet again, surprise surprise, in a group of boys. But of course, we’re all way more mature than kids in middle school (we’re still immature as hell, but at least we’re better.)

I wouldn’t trade these friends for anything. They’ve always been with me when I needed them. They’ve always genuinely cared for me; have always supported me in everything I do.

Are there hard times? Of course.

I constantly struggle to feel like I really fit into the puzzle. After all, there are some things they’ll never be fully understand about girls because they aren’t girls, just like I will never understand some things about them because I’m not a boy. I can’t stay over at their sleepovers, I can’t be over at their houses alone.

But would I wish for a core group of girl friends over boy friends?

No.

In all my life experience, I’ve found that it doesn’t really matter whether your friends are boys or girls. All that really matters is who makes you feel like someone important and who is willing to stand by you, even when you feel like you’ll always be alone.

Friendships don’t rely on anything except respect, integrity, trust, and faith. If you don’t have those things, it doesn’t matter if your friends are boys or girls.

I guess, in some long winded way, I’m trying to say, I love where I am right now. I love the support system of friends I have in place. If someone tries to tell you you can’t be friends with boys when you’re a girl, or vice versa, I’m here to tell you they are wrong.

The deepest friendships can be found in the most unsuspecting people. Don’t judge the quality of a friendship based on gender, or even race, religion, or any other factor like that. Judge a person for them. Don’t be the one that denies a friendship the potential to come to fruition. There’s so much you could be missing.

– Carole

 

We’re All A Little Edmund Pevensie

I had an interesting thought today.

I was watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with my sister, and found I had a lot more to think about with this movie than I had in my childhood.

Growing up, it was (and still is) one of my favourite movies. It is a beautifully crafted film and stays relatively close to the book series by C.S Lewis.

I remember being absolutely fascinated by Edmund Pevensie.

Firstly, he was played by Skandar Keynes, who in 2005 (when the movie came out) was the cutest little boy I had ever seen. What more could a 7-year-old ask for? (Apparently, it was a post-puberty Skandar Keynes, because by 2010, when the most recent movie came out, I was convinced I was in love.) Already, by aesthetics only, I was drawn to his character. Though, let’s forget in the books he’s as “white” as it gets, blonde hair… blue eyes…

Secondly, many people refer to Edmund as a “rat”. Really, he is. He sells out his siblings for turkish delight, betrays his family (and ultimately the whole kingdom of Narnia), all while being a snark little jerk. Many can argue that he had a rough upbringing, and obviously was very affected from having to move away from home during WWII, and having no father figure present during very crucial parts of his life. However, none of his siblings seem to have that same darkness he does.

C.S Lewis, the author of the Narnia series is someone I’d very much like to meet someday, because I would want to discuss with him his books. C.S Lewis was a Christian, and the story of Narnia is supposed to be based on the story of Christ.

Likewise, Edmund is meant to represent all of us. Throughout the books and film, he is lost. This is most present in his first entering to Narnia. He shuts the door to the wardrobe, plunging himself in darkness. This is the exact opposite of his sister Lucy, who keeps the door open a little, so she can always find the light.

Edmund is more concerned about himself than others. He sides with the White Witch, and finds himself going against his family. This descent is similar to humankind to the fall of man, where sin grips us and doesn’t want to let us go.

The White Witch does not let Edmund go. Despite his growing understanding that being on her side does nothing but harm for him, he can’t seem to break free. Everything he says seems to make everything worse, and he becomes absolutely miserable.

I wonder now, was I so fascinated in Edmund because he showed me so much of what I saw in myself? Edmund is selfish, self-serving, and in need of grace; just like all of us are.

He didn’t deserve to be rescued. He was a traitor. He should have died at the hands of the White Witch on the stone table, since he betrayed Narnia. But Aslan took his place for him, saved him from the evil he had done. From that moment forward, Edmund was a new person.

It’s beautiful to me really, that someone can go through such a change of heart. Ultimately, Edmund almost gives up his life at the end to break the White Witch’s ice sceptre; something he never would have done at the beginning.

I feel like we can be a lot like Edmund. We all have evil in us. But we can all be saved and become new people. It just takes faith, and the willingness to ask for God’s forgiveness.

– Carole

Life’s Strange Happenings

Life is quite a funny thing sometimes.

For those of you that don’t know, I work part-time at a tutoring centre in my town (city, whatever, idk at this point). It’s a fun job and I truly enjoy it, however, it is not close to my side of town, and I have to take the bus to get there.

This week I’ve been working at the tutoring centre’s summer camps, and have had the privilege to ride the bus to/from work. Public transit scares the crap out of an anxious soul like me, but life is life and sometimes you gotta just do stuff! After all, I get some $$.

Today, one of my worst nightmares took place. I remember clearly the first day I took the bus to my piano lessons at our local mall. My lesson slot was too early in the afternoon for either of my parents to take me, so I had to take public transit for my own for the very first time. I remember the stress and anxieties I had, sitting on the bus by myself in a secluded seat tucked away at the back of the bus.

What if I miss my transfer?! I wondered to myself.

And I didn’t. Nothing particularly bad happened at all. I made it to piano in time, my dad picked me up from the mall, same old, same old life.

But of course, today I had to miss my transfer for the first time.

There was a huge rush of people when I got off the bus. The GO train had just chugged into the station and the loading dock for the buses was absolutely flooded with commuters on their way home. My poor heart nearly fainted.

I clutched my transfer ticket, scoping out the buses. I was looking for that prominent number 4, that I knew would take me home. I really don’t understand how they decide to line up the buses; considering the 2 is behind the 6, which is behind the 5, but whatever.

Anyhow, I stood at the spot where my bus normally parked. People were flying past me, obviously in a rush to get to their car, their bus, or whatever. I really just wanted to get on my transfer to ease my tachycardia-prone heart.

After a few moments of flurries, my bus never pulled up. In a panic, I began to run along the loading station, but could not find that number 4 I desperately searched for. Then to my horror, the long train of buses started to pull out of the station.

Silence.

There’s something eerie about standing at a bus station all by yourself, when moments ago, it felt like the loudest, most crowded place on Earth.

I was standing at the deserted bus station in utter horror. I’d missed my transfer bus.

And it wasn’t coming back for another half an hour.

At this point, I really wanted to cry and questioned whether or not I would die. I texted my best friend, trying to play it off as cool, but maybe I didn’t do it well enough, because he texted me simply: “just chill”.

So I guess I did what any anxious person does to chill, I sat down inside the bus shelter, and opened Pokemon Go.

(I can’t really use the app to its fullest potential because of my lack of data, but that’s another story.)

In my futile attempt to catch Pokemon using the crappy GO station WiFi, a small elderly Spanish lady came inside the bus shelter and sat beside me on the bench.

She was one of those grandmother type people, a friendly, open face, with deep laugh lines. Her clothes were just the slightest bit too large, that swallowed her body and made her look so tiny. She grinned and said, “Hello…. you speak… Spanish?”

Her accent wasn’t too thick. Spanish is very reminiscent of Tagalog, and it was easier for me to pick up her broken English. “Hm? No… Sorry,” I replied lamely.

She smiled, much like my own grandmother did when I asked her to teach me how to make her famous birthday cakes. “Ah… no Spanish…” She looked at my again with this thoughtful expression, “Are… Filipino?”

I was surprised she figured it out so easily, since most people tend to think I’m Chinese, due to the tiniest bit of Chinese blood in my family, and my body’s ability to take in every single one of those genes. “Yeah, I am.”

“I have…. what word…. daughter….. daughter-in-law. She Filipino.”

I hummed thoughtfully, not really sure why she had decided to tell me this, or strike a conversation with me really, but I didn’t have the heart to tell this sweet old lady to go away. Besides, I had 30 minutes to kill before the bus came back, so I might as well listen to what she had to say.

There was a pause.

After a few moments, she posed a question for me. “Do you know the truth?”

Here, her Spanish accent really came out, because I wasn’t entirely sure what she was saying at first. She had to repeat it for me at least 2 times, and at that point I didn’t really know what she meant at all.

What did she mean by “truth” exactly?

I shook my head. “No,” I replied sheepishly, not wanting to say yes, since I didn’t really know what she was talking about.

This grandmother sat up straighter at my response, “Ah… no… I see.” She looked into her bag before pulling out a pamphlet, written half in Spanish, half in English. And this random woman who I had never met before, who barely spoke English, tried her best to evangelize to me.

She began telling me about how Jesus died for my sins, adamantly with a tap of her hands showed how he was nailed to a cross. She talked about how we have life because Jesus paid for everything.

About 30 seconds into her speech, I realized what she meant by truth. She meant the Gospel. As a Christian myself, I wondered why I hadn’t caught on in the first place.

At any point I could have told her that I actually did know what the truth was, I just didn’t have the heart to tell her because she looked so happy that someone was willing to listen to her. She told me about her granddaughter who didn’t seem to have an interest in the Gospel, and how she wished they would read their bibles every day.

I was stunned by how much she was willing to share, even if I was a random stranger to her, that was sitting at the bus stop.

It was quite the humbling experience really. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I was born into the church, raised on its teachings, yet I didn’t and still don’t have the courage to speak about the wonders of the Gospel with anyone, especially strangers. To think that this little grandmother who barely spoke English, who didn’t even know who I was, sat down beside me and decided to share the “truth” with me is incredible.

It was a great reminder to me that some Christians in this world are bold. They go out to be the salt of the Earth, as the Gospel commands us to be. However, in comparison to this Spanish grandmother, I fall desperately behind.

What’s stopping me? Fear of rejection? Anxiety? Pride?

It was quite convicting to me, and prompted me to take a look inside my heart. I hope I can one day have the servant’s heart this old woman had to be able to share the Gospel and my faith with all those around me.

And to think, all this happened because I missed my bus transfer.

Life is strange like that.

– Carole

Real Talk: My First Encounter With Racism

Recently, the Black Lives Matter movement has been gaining a lot of momentum, because of all the things happening in the U.S right now.

Racism has always been a weird topic for me. As a Filipino, I’ve never really experienced racism to the same degree as many other races do, and often find it hard or awkward to speak out on those issues when I haven’t, thankfully, experienced much racism first hand.

Though, with all that’s been happening, I remembered my first real life encounter with racism. Before that, I had only imagined racism being something on T.V, on the news, and not something that could happen in my own life. After all, I grew up in quite a small town/city (though currently, my city is expanding at the rate of an exponential function), which at the very least gave me a very enclosed ‘bubble’ to live in.

I was in an outlet mall with some of my extended family from my mother’s side. It was the Labour Day weekend, and my grandmother wanted to get some shopping in after spending the night away from home for the holidays. At this time, I was still a pre-teen, probably 12 or so years old. I remember going into a fancy store that sold $500 handbags and $50 umbrellas. I was with my grandmother, my mom, and my aunt. They were looking at some cross body bags that were on sale, when my aunt got a text from her husband.

Now, interracial marriage is rare for those in Asian culture, but I had never really noticed it until this point in my life.

My uncle, (my aunt’s husband), had married into our family. He was Pakistani, though raised in North America. Honestly, he is one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. In fact, my earliest memories of him are when he used to come over for birthday parties, etc. with my aunt, and would always always play with my sister and I.

This was around the time when the Nintendo DS Lite had just come out, and my sister and I had gotten the game Yoshi’s Island for Christmas. Now, we both played for fun, but we also both sucked at the game. My uncle would always play it for us, and let us watch, even when he could probably be doing so many more interesting things.

Not only this, but my uncle is also very very sharp. Every time I talk to him, I feel like I’ve been enlightened. He’s an engineer, and talks a lot about his job, and I always find it so fascinating that someone can be so intellectual and passionate about the things they do.

But I digress, up until this moment in time, I had never once thought of my uncle in terms of his race, and how he was different from the rest of my family. But it was on the Labour Day weekend, that race finally became something I noticed in my every day life.

See, my uncle had texted my aunt, because he was stuck at the front door of the store. There were a line of people, and my uncle had asked if he could get in, not to shop, but because their daughter wanted to be with her mom, and he just wanted to accompany us in the store. He was denied access of course, which seemed to be fair enough, considering the line of people waiting to get in, but it did not end there, even though I wish it did.

The manager of the store accused my uncle of making up this whole story because he wanted to get into the store to steal something.

Why? Simply because he was Pakistani.

I remember the hurt on my aunt’s face, as she fought with the manager. My uncle, bless his soul, really didn’t want any sort of confrontation, and decided just to wait outside.

Of course, my aunt would take none of this, and boycotted the store for the rest of the day.

It was a shock to me, really. To think, someone as kind, smart, and golden-hearted as my uncle could be denied entry into a store, simply due to the colour of his skin was an outrageous idea.

But unfortunately, a sad reality.

Up until that moment, I didn’t understand the weight of racism. But because of stories like these, I had to come to the awful conclusion that some people were judged and therefore systematically oppressed because of their race; plain and simple.

I don’t write about this to gain sympathy or attention. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in my family that even remembers this story (and Lord, I hope I’ve remembered it correctly). I simply write this because I think it’s unfortunate that every human being will have a moment in life where they will realize that people are not treated equally to each other. Especially so, on such trivial things like differing skin colours, religions, cultures, etc.

We need to speak out for the minorities that are fighting for equality. There are so many wonderful people that are treated poorly, and it just burdens my heart that this happens.

Never forget to show love this week, next week, and every week onward. Our world feels full of hate right now, but if we each make a conscious attempt to spread just a little bit of love, eventually, that love will reach someone who really really needs it right now.

– Carole

 

Relationship!: My Body & I

Today was pretty unproductive for me! I couldn’t sleep until around 6 in the morning, so I didn’t end up waking up until almost 2 in the afternoon.

Anyhow, in terms of my clothing summer project, I put back the clothes that belong in my sock drawer, which is basically just all my undergarments, socks, stockings, etc.

I got rid of a lot of my fuzzy socks by gifting them to my sister, since my feet get very warm all the time and I have no need for them.

Anyhow, that’s not the point of this post.

I guess I’m just feeling disheartened today. My body has been very out of whack for the past few days. I’m 99% sure I’m PMSing, since I’ve been wanting to eat everything in our kitchen. Actually, for the past few days I’ve been eating after midnight (which is usually something I NEVER do).

My body is just not really doing the things I want it to do, which can be frustrating. Right now, I don’t feel very comfortable in my own skin, and I’m hoping that passes with my period. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m thinking of doing a bit of a “detox” and avoiding processed foods for a while, and drinking more water. Hopefully that helps!

– Carole

Summer Project: Blog #1 – Beginning

This blog has always been an idea of mine.

I meant to start it at the beginning of grade 12, as a means to organize my thoughts and document the happenings of my life. But obviously, life had other plans for me and that never ended up happening.

This summer is my chance to reorganize and re-evaluate the state of my life, and I’ve already begun some great work that I’m so excited to finish and cross off my to-do list!

It’s almost 4 in the morning as I write this, but let’s pretend it’s still the previous day: July 4th 2016.

My summer life in past summers has been nothing but laziness with a bit of cleaning, but this summer I’m hoping to change that! I’ve started with “decluttering” my life, in order get my head in a good place so I can think without distraction. I’ve been on Youtube all day, researching, and stumbled across the “KonMari” method.

The day has been dedicated to clearing out my jumbled closet! I’m not through yet (which is why I’m sleeping in the basement tonight. My bed is COVERED in clothes), but hopefully I’ll post some pictures when it’s done!

I’m really excited to tackle this project, since I’m super excited to revamp my sense of style, and really purge some of the clutter out of my life!

Until next time!

– Carole