My quality of life improves when I stop living to fulfill other people’s expectations, or my own for my future.

In Search of Love
It caused such internal strife and damage when I tried to be a more attractive girl but didn’t feel desired. The male gaze corrupted my self-image, if not my sense of self-worth (not to mention, integrity). While trying to conform to societal norms and to the guys’ expectations, I was always overcompensating to add my own flair (perhaps in an attempt of self-expression, since I always strive to be unique…ironically, even when I’m simultaneously trying to conform). I know that part of the objective of dating is to accurately and positively present yourself as the unique individual you are, in an attempt to help the other person get to know you, but that’s not what I was doing in my “self-expression.” Most often, I overcompensated with material gifts because it seems to be my favorite love language for giving love. While I don’t regret any of the gifts (and can gleefully recall my favorites: 1) hamster ball, plastic fish, kamil white onesie and other window trinkets for Andre; 2)atari punk console in altoids tin for David, hand-delivered to a Brooklyn warehouse; 3)xkcd What-If book for Tony (regifted to his halfbrother), not to mention countless postal exchanges with his sister and my favorite pen pal, Sophie; 4)Drown and other books, in yellow cloth, for Ron; 5)zippered and leather-bound chinese and english bible and Chinese hillsong CD for Mike, but actually intended for his non-Christian mom; 6)Olde English palm-sized bible with clasp (because I couldn’t afford ancient Classical texts in Latin/Greek for Elizabeth Lu) and Beatrice Potter book for Jack; 7)failed NES console replica, regifted NES usb controller to Brandon; 8)When Breath Turns To Air shipped to UNC for Humphrey; 9)Andrew Weber Lloyd songbook from Selected Works exchanged for Pachebel Canon in D violin score, USPS clutch delivery for Richard), I am distressed at the attitude I’ve adopted towards romance. A relationship is not a game to be won, and that’s why a man is not just a person to be charmed. I am not in the market to try to sell myself, am I? While it may seem to my love-addled brain like being obsessive is simply my way of trying to get to know the other person (and I would still hold that to be true), what I fail to take into account is the reality of their disinterest in me when the signs are present, and the futility of getting to know a person so well when they don’t want to be known by me. I’m not as upset by my actions as I am repentful of my attitude. Even if there is no immediate consequence to my obsessing, doting, gift-giving, and premature loving, there’s a long run wistful longing for some ROI that implies I have stopped treating the guy as a person, stopped respecting their wishes as part of their personhood, and started treating them as a means to the end of dating. I’m not okay with that kind of disrespect towards others even if I truly believe it’s not a big deal to the recipient because it contradicts the type of person *I* want to be and is therefore an affront to my character.

In Search for Purpose
This post is so titled because I had an aha-moment today when I felt like my values have shifted. It may not be a seismic shift, but it’s a significant introspective truth for me: I am not just smart. When Jess asked me whether I really planned to go to law school, and why I would go if I don’t want to be lawyer, I heard a condescending tone in her skepticism and though I’m not cynical enough to think it’s jealousy, I think she expects me to always make economic decisions that would increase my earning potential, and she doesn’t see me as a successful lawyer or a happy JD candidate willing to accept the challenge of professional/graduate school. Similaryly, When Michelle Zeng said, “wow, SMU is so good,” I heard her imply that she may not have expected me to get accepted anywhere good with my GPA. Even though she sweettalked me and said I had such a great LSAT score, I know that I did the best I could given my limited study-time, but that I did /not/ have a great LSAT score…and I’m okay with that. Every day, I’m facing new challenges at work and learning from them. But one thing I know: beauty is beautiful, but it is not enough. Talent is wonderful, but it is not enough. Hard-working diligence and dedication to a project indicate a kind of hope and loyalty that employers and teammates cherish, but even such noble character traits are not enough. “Enough” is about more than abiding by the dress code (#LOLNate) and the legal code (#notfunnyUnited). More than donning proper attitude, behaviors, and character…I think my purpose in life, the question I’d like to answer with my waking hours and daily routines, pertains to love and justice more than likes on social media, money in the bank, or credentials on my resume. I know it sounds lofty, but if I can situate myself to foster more meaningful relationships and more purposeful projects, I think that’d be a really great way to spend my short days, long nights, and fleeting hours.

How about you, Sisi? When I see you this weekend, I promised I would keep you accountable and follow-up on your job search and soul-searching. Jia you! We’re in this together 🙂