Me, at 23

Today marks a week since I said goodbye to being 23. Am I a little emotional over it? Maybe. Am I nostalgic about it? You bet your ass I am!

Just to give you a little bit of context, I stopped being excited about turning a year older ever since I blew my 17 candles. Nothing seemed that exciting to me about being one step deeper into adulthood. All I ever saw was responsibility I didn’t want being thrown at me, and time slipping through my fingers.

This time around, it was different. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about becoming older, but I was content. I feel like I’m ready to embrace this new year and make it mine. And that is only because my mindset changed a lot whilst I was 23. One could say I went through quite a transformation, even. And that is why this post is relevant – because I’m sharing with you who I was and who I became at 23.

After this, we can move on. SO LET’S GO!


ORIGIN STORY: A WHOLE LOT OF DENIAL

As every hero has her own origin story, so does yours truly. And just like every origin story out there, mine started with my life being A Mess (with a capital M for emphasis). This seems like your regular sarcastic answer – and it kind of is -, but it also isn’t. You see,  I didn’t really know I was a mess, back in my early 23’s, I just knew I wasn’t doing that great. 5 out of 10, maybe? Could do way better.

Money was a huge issue back then. I was counting every penny I had and depending on my parents a lot, which in itself gave me anxiety about being an Adult and not being able to take care of my own grown up self. I was also in denial about being lonely, and… basically every aspect of my life was dancing on a tightrope.  But I hadn’t fallen off of it yet, so I thought I was just fine.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine!”

(I’m really not)

The way things were, I could’ve been given nothing but denial gift cards wrapped in a cute red bun as presents when I turned 23. Maybe that’s what happened because honestly, I used them all. They lasted me about 6 months – up until the end of last year. That was when my denial about how shitty life was getting got so bad, the truth got fed up with it, slapped me across the face with a brick and said: “Alright, you lazy child, you either start facing me or you will fall off that tightrope of yours and break all of your bones.”

I still tried to fight back a little with a scared “Do I really have to?”. All that got me  was another slap, and I finally uttered out a reluctant okay.


THE TURNING POINT: BECOMING THE SHERLOCK HOLMES OF FEELINGS

Sigh. That was quite a heavy start. The good news is, my grim origin story ends there. Which doesn’t mean that after those 6 initial months I suddenly became a beautiful butterfly spreading happiness all around me (although I like to believe I am like that some days). It just means that by deciding to change, I no longer was spiraling down. I started to climb my way up, slowly, losing my footing more often than not, but still climbing up.


THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED

Denying the existence of problems and/or feelings doesn’t actually make them go away. On the contrary, it feeds them, which means they grow and become stronger. Eventually they become stronger than you.

So I started to exercise the opposite – I gave my feelings some time to just be. If I’m sad, I’ll allow myself to feel it for a while, and whilst I do that I try to think rationally about what it is that is causing me sadness.

“Why am I sad?”

“Because x, y, z happened.”

“What is it about x, y, z that saddens me?”

(…)

I do my best to understand what is causing my feelings to come to the surface, and then come up with ways to resolve whatever the inciting conflict is.

(This technique works wonders, albeit not the easiest thing to do. It is guaranteed to take ages off of your face! Better than a facelift! 10/10 would recommend.)

One could say, were he/she enough of a nerd, that I became the Sherlock Holmes of feelings. And not just of my own, funny enough! Because by understanding how my brain works, I became all the more inclined to understand what triggered certain behaviors in others as well.

And you know what? I’m kinda really good at it now!


THE HERO’S TEST: PEOPLE

It all started when I got close to this lovely lovely girl here

It might be a surprise to absolutely no one that I suck at people. I know, that whole sentence was an amazing display of eloquence, but what matters is that it gets my point across just right.

I always thought I was quite averagely talented at many things but if there is one thing that I have never displayed any talent for that has to be socializing. And it’s not for lack of interest, because I do want to know how to properly interact with people and build valuable relationships in my life – it’s just that people scare me like nothing else really does.

Before you start imagining horrible scenarios in which people are being murdered, let me explain. It’s not that I think everyone out there is trying physically hurt me, it’s just that I think everyone will hurt me emotionally, sooner or later.

And this lovely lovely lady came in and made everything even better   

What I am trying to say here is that, despite all of this, my 23 year old self finally started to get a grip on the reins of her social life, and is now consciously attempting to pass all her classes from her degree in People Skills.

If before I thought I was fine on my own, now I know that being surrounded by the right people is what allows us to have happy moments in our lives. I know that being alone and enjoying time with myself is important, but so is relating to others, and letting them into my life.


THE REWARD: A LITTLE HEDONISM NEVER HURT NO ONE

I might be stretching the meaning of hedonism a little bit here. Regardless, I have started to allow myself to enjoy the little (and the big) pleasures in life. It’s not all about being productive all the time anymore. It’s also about resting, having fun, and taking good care of myself.

The key aspect here is that I no longer settle for what life throws at me, but rather I seek out that which I want. In simpler words, I got tired of “living for the weekend”, working and watching tv and going out once in a blue moon. I got tired of saving all my money for a rainy day.

I don’t need to live every day on the edge. That’s not it at all. Sometimes all I need is to take 10 minutes off my day to enjoy the sunset over the river instead of rushing to catch the bus and go home. Reading amazing books that inspire me, eating my favorite food, having conversations with my favorite people. Whatever it is that brings me joy. 


THE SEQUEL: MY YOUNG (FOOLISH) DREAMS

Young-ish me dreams of nice things in her future. I want to start enjoying the good parts of being an adult (because, yes, those exist after all!).

  • living in my own apartment that’s filled with plants I can actually take care of, in a pink building, in Lisbon
  • having a kind and adorable puppy
  • holding hands with someone I really really like (and who happens to have the softest hands, just saying)

Most of all, my 23 going into 24 year old self wants her independence! It’s time! That and to be surrounded by people who want what’s best for me, whilst continuously growing into someone more confident and wise.


END CREDITS: NOW, AT 24

I know it’s lame to say this but I am indeed wiser. Still dumb and with flaws to spare, but wiser. Flowers are now my official favorite thing. I love my friends and my family. I’m proud of who I am but madly in love with the prospect of learning more and more about how to live my life just how I want it.

At 24, I have stopped passively watching life pass me by. Instead I’ve started to have an active role in what happens to me. And, now, nothing seems that impossible anymore.

Have a great year, me. You got this.

 

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My creative block and what I’m doing to get through it

Recently, I found myself not being able to create content for Amazing Korean, my dear lovely blog that I love to bits. Or rather, I did create – I wrote posts, edited pictures, even recorded videos (something you’ll know if you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram). My mind never stopped reeling with ideas. And yet, none of them ended up seeing the light of day.

When the time came to share them with you, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t satisfied with anything I was making. On the one hand, I was desperate to make something, fearing that with each day that passed, it was more and more likely that my blog was going to be forgotten. But on the other hand, I didn’t feel like what I was making was worth being shared.

Being stuck between these two opposing ideas drove all of my motivation and inspiration away. I became fucking frustrated as fuck with myself. Desperate. Annoyed. I want to do something really bad, and I can’t! It was my nightmare transforming into reality.

Looking for the cause of my creative block

After the initial feelings described above simmered down, I started to wonder. Is this just a creative block? Or is it something else altogether?

I was committed to discovering the source of my problem. Because my blog is one of the most important things to me right now, it gives my life genuine joy, and I wasn’t about to just let it go.

First things first, I didn’t open any article or video that promised to give me the answer to my problem. Like those we see everywhere with titles like “HOW TO GET RID OF CREATIVE BLOCK IN 0.7654 SECONDS!”. Don’t look at me like that, I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. The internet has no shortage of those.

The reason why I chose not to do this was because I’ve done it a million times in the past and it never actually made any difference to me in the long run, and they never worked exactly like that title promised. This time, I wanted to look inwards, and find my own way out of this strayed path.

So instead, I went looking for stories of other people who also started projects on their own, doing something they really love to do. I wanted to feel their inspiration and their passion, hoping to be reminded of my own – why I started this in the first place. Because it seemed to me that my real issue was that somewhere along the way I lost what it was that gave me purpose. I was just doing things for the sake of having something done. And that’s just not respectful for neither me nor the people with whom I share what I create.

I also asked for my friends opinions. I started to look at my life with more observant eyes, questioned why I am the way I am, what motivates what I do in my life that has nothing to do with my blog. After all, what I write should reflect what motivates my life too, shouldn’t it? For it to be something that sincerely comes from my heart, and worthy of being shared.

That’s where I think I will find my voice.

After a while of doing this, I reached 3 conclusions. 3 things I knew I would have to figure out how to approach from now on in the context of my blog.

1. I was worrying too much about numbers

Like how many views I’m getting, how many followers I’m gaining, how I can optimize my posts to attract more clicks, and so on. Articles from fellow bloggers about this are everywhere, titles like “HOW TO GET 72636351763 VIEWS ON YOUR FIRST POST!” that, when you’re reading, get you really pumped up and motivated, feeling like you can conquer the world. But then you try and you don’t even come close to what that person achieved, and you feel like a complete fucking failure.

(Not to say that all posts of the like don’t have value, but I expect we all know the world isn’t exactly black and white and when I say this, I don’t mean every single post on the internet)

I ate that shit up, though. I wanted to strive to those standards. To have successful posts first and foremost. Writing what has great value to me was also a worry of mine, of course, but it ended up going from the top of my priority list to some place near the middle. I ended up stretching myself too thin trying to please others with what I assumed they wanted to see, to achieve practically unachievable results for a newbie blogger like me. And then it led to disa-fucking-pointment.

2. I’m growing up and changing but my blog wasn’t 

With growth, comes change. My priorities and my focus are no longer what they were a year ago. I’m finding out what really matters to me, where I want my life to go, who I am. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard as fuck to do this; but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The content I was (attempting) to create for my blog just didn’t accompany this shift in focus and growth. While in my life I am discovering new things, and learning so much about the world and myself, on my blog I have been trying to talk about completely different things. Not to say that studying Korean isn’t still important to me, because it really is. It’s just not what I want to focus my voice on anymore.

3. I want who I am to help who you are

Vana Feliciano said this in a podcast from That Hummingbird Life that I listened to recently. When I heard her say it as something she strived to be, I felt like someone had finally put into words what I’ve been trying to express for so long. There it is, in 10 simple words.

I want who I am to help who you are

When who I am helps someone else in some way, whether by giving them a little bit of inspiration or a push toward making a decision that will ultimately improve their life, that’s when I feel true accomplishment and joy. It’s a feeling unlike any other.

As I said before, I am growing and learning so much about life and myself. They say happiness is only real when shared. I think this applies to so much more. What I’m learning, and my blooming experience, will only be truly valuable if it inspires others too.

My conclusion

After thinking about these three things, I decided that Amazing Korean needs to evolve along with me. It has to always be a sincere and heartfelt reflection of who I am and what I have of value to share with the world. Only this way will it be deserving of both yours and my attention and love.

So, it will evolve. It will no longer be focused on sharing my experience with learning Korean.

My goal is that this blog becomes a place where you and I can have conversations about who we are – our good and bad parts.

I hope this becomes a place where you and I both feel comfortable in sharing our insecurities and struggles but also our moments of joy and inspiration.

Where we accept that we are all flawed human beings who make mistakes, and fail. And we’ll be here too cheer each other on to try again next time!

And, maybe, my experiences will inspire you. Yours, in turn, will inspire mine.


Have you ever experienced creative block? How did you get back to creating?

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