To my first love:

I wasn’t sure about you when we first met. You were boisterous and confident. I was the exact opposite– quiet and shy. Yet you charmed me. I began to trust you and we fell in love.

You were my safe space. I could go to you and unload every burden. A week’s worth of stress would melt away as you patiently sat and listened. You didn’t complain about the weight. You merely smiled and said, “This is why I’m here for you.”

And even though you were the loud one at first, I soon overcame your volume with mine. You could hear my laugh from a mile away. I shouted while you whispered. I ran while you walked. I couldn’t help it. With you, I felt invincible.

But things weren’t perfect. You were hypocritical. You were exclusive. You had your flaws, but I also had mine. For a while all I could see were your flaws and nothing else. I asked you for space and you gave it to me. When I came back, I was hesitant, but you were so sure. Then I knew your flaws were what made you that much more beautiful. I wanted to stay and be imperfect together. I saw the potential laid out for us in His eyes. We could grow together and become stronger in our faith.

And oh, how we traveled. It still gives me chills to think about the sunsets in Cambodia and the strolls in the countryside in Korea. Everything was breathtaking and extremely hard at the same time. When I broke down crying, you held me. When I wanted to be alone, you stayed by my side. Those summers will forever remain my favorite memories in my life.

 

But then I changed. I smiled less. I snapped at you. I picked fights. You asked, “Aren’t you pushing yourself too much with three jobs?” I replied, “It’s fine.” I was in denial. I was struggling with depression and anxiety. I couldn’t admit it. I pushed you away. At first, you resisted. Eventually, you gave in. You texted less often. You stopped asking me what was wrong. You gave me space.

By spring, I was back to my normal self or so we thought. Everything that I had tucked away surfaced and wouldn’t conceal itself again. I had worked so hard to suppress it. All of our fights, disagreements, bitterness, resentment, and anger. I hid it, but it found me. It found us. You reared your head. I was stunned. Your true side was beginning to show.

So I left. I moved out. I told you that we should try again. You agreed.

We didn’t try. I was gone and you weren’t by my side anymore.

You initially reached out to me, but you weren’t consistent. You were only a city away, but it felt farther since you didn’t come here and I didn’t go there. I would see you pop up on social media so I had to block you. It hurt to see you so happy while I was so sad.

I grew bitter. What had happened to your promises? You wrote me notes saying that we should be together forever and that you loved me and that you couldn’t wait to see me grow and that you were so blessed to have met me. Were those just empty words?

And when we occasionally saw each other, you would shriek with joy, hug me tight, and let me go again. Why didn’t you hold on?

I guess I could’ve held on; but I was so exhausted. I had given you my all for the past two years, but when I was truly vulnerable with you, you weren’t there to support me. You were having fun with everyone else. You were at the beach celebrating a birthday that I still wonder if I should’ve missed. You were on missions in countries where I had dreamt of going since freshmen year. You weren’t here with me and I wasn’t there with you.

And I think both of us grew to accept that we weren’t together anymore.

When I was with you, I had been so happy that I let myself settle. I sank and sank and sank into the comfort without realizing that once I had sunk so low, I wouldn’t be able to get up without help. I had become so reliant and dependent on you that without you, I felt defeated. I felt unloved and unworthy.

You were my first love, FKBC. You were the first church to show me God’s love in a way that I had never experienced before. You took me in. I felt like a cherished sister and daughter. But when I left and pressed pause on our journey together, you didn’t pause with me. You kept going. And I knew I could catch up and things would go back to the way they were, but I knew going back meant I would sink into comfort. I didn’t want to sink. I wanted to grow.

I used to love you and am grateful that we met, but I think it’s time for me to move on. Thank you for the past few years. You built a strong foundation for me, but I’ll build the rest on my own.

 

 

Would you stay with me anyway?

Nine minutes ago*, I finished the last final of my junior year. Now I will share with you a list of lessons learned from my third year in college. I’ve been (somewhat) consistent since freshmen year, sophomore year, and half-way through junior year. Here we go once more:

  1. I finally found my walk-up song (shout out to Sarah and Acy). It’s Anyway by Tori Kelly. Go listen to it, text me if you agree, or suggest another song that embodies my essence.
  2. It’s never too late to make new friends.
  3. If you want a tattoo, go out and get one (after saving up, of course).
  4. There might be days when you break down crying, but it’s okay because your family and friends are only one call away (especially if they’re your ‘favorites’ on your phone).
  5. Go to lecture as often as you can muster up the courage to because reviewing 300+ slides in the span of two days before your final is demoralizing.
  6. Sitting outside and basking in the sun is therapeutic.
  7. Chirping birds at 5am is stress-inducing.
  8. Dance whenever, wherever, and with whomever.
  9. Make playlists even if you’re not “into music” because then I can add you on Spotify and stalk you on another social media platform.
  10. Be bold even if your hands are shaking and your breath is wavering.
  11. Pay attention to your school’s basketball team because when a stranger in a bagel shop in NYC starts a conversation with you about their recent win in the ACC championship, you want to say something more substantial than “Uh huh? Really? Wow!”
  12. Invest in a white noise machine.
  13. When a friend calls you and needs you then all you need to do is simply listen.
  14. Find yourself and when you do, revel in it.
*It took me a while to finish writing this post…

I’m incredibly tired and my body is going against my mind*

*A text sent at 1:58pm on April 25, 2017 by E.K.

Three papers for a total of 25 pages over a span of three days. I’ve known about this hellish week since the beginning of the semester, but I didn’t actually begin to panic until last Thursday. Since then I have been internally screaming, gulping too much coffee, and taking naps at 10pm so I can wake up at 1am to begin my long morning.

 

Here’s to the last week of my junior year.

 

 

We do not exist to enlighten you.

I support affirmative action, but I recently encountered someone who firmly disagrees. I was in a position in which I could not bring up my opposition or break down her argument. I will deconstruct her here. I mean, I will deconstruct her argument.

  • Colleges claim affirmative action increases diversity of the student population, but what is the point if there are student groups like Asian Students Association or Black Students Movement?

In other words, students of color stick together and don’t integrate themselves. Thus, affirmative action achieves nothing since the population is not diverse.

Why are you opposed to the idea of having spaces where white people are not found? Note I didn’t say “allowed” because both student groups are explicitly clear in being open to non-Asian or non-Black students. Spaces without white people are not products of reverse-racism. These spaces do not exist as part of a system of oppression. Rather, they exist as a counterbalance to the system of oppression. Let me simplify it for you.

This university is predominately white. This town is predominately white. This state is predominately white. This country is predominately white. White people make up the majority.

ASA and BSM are two student groups in a predominately white space on four different levels (see above). If racism is defined as oppressing people based on their race and/or ethnicity, then where is the oppression taking place? Are you, a white student, affected by the existence of a predominately-Asian or Black space? If ASA or BSM were to disappear, would you be affected?

The answer is no. You would continue to live in a predominately-white space. Talk to me when these groups gain ACTUAL power and begin to shape your life to such an extent that you fear for your existence.

People of color do not exist to educate you. We are not tokens to flash at others so you can taunt your wealth of diversity. Why do you assume that these organizations are proof of the failures of affirmative action? Why didn’t you ask yourself, “Hmm, where are the white students and who are they sticking with?” Oh, I know where they are. They’re over there in Frat Court. I’m sorry. Aren’t you familiar with the Greek system? The historically racialized institution that systematically excludes minorities. Is the Greek system another example of a shortcoming of affirmative action? Or do your examples only work if you target students of color and their supposed inability to fraternize with other races?

By the way, if you’re wondering why there isn’t a group similar to ASA and BSM for white students then look no further, I have your answer.

THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL IS YOUR ASA AND BSM.

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA IS YOUR ASA AND BSM.

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS YOUR ASA AND BSM.

 

Light(er)

I am not a hoarder of material goods, but I tend to hoard burdens, concerns, anxieties, fears, and grudges. A quick perusal of my previous posts will show you that I often depict myself as a laden down individual. Burdens abound and muscles are knotted. I am perpetually wound up.

That is until a month ago when I let things go.

It was as if a giant crane had taken ahold of me and began to tilt me until everything that I had tucked away was shaken out. Disappointment in my best friends was tossed aside. Worry about my post-graduation plans was chucked. Fear of leaving my comfort zone was flung aside. Obsession with my past pains was lobbed. Everything was ejected. I had remnants, but nothing was whole. I had to begin again. The task of collection was renewed.

I rekindled a friendship with someone who housed me when I moved out. I made up my mind to take a year off after graduation despite qualms of losing my edge as a grad school applicant. I spontaneously accepted an offer to study abroad in London. I counted my blessings. I let go.

And I felt lighter than ever before. I was happier than last semester at least.

Last semester, I took delight in sleeping. I could escape into darkness and absence. I actually wished to stay asleep forever. I sought to be gone.

Now I seek to be present for I am happy.

But please don’t mistake my smile as a constant. Sometimes, I will cry because I am lonely. I dwell on the what-ifs. Doubt creeps in again.

I feel myself winding up and easing into what I have always known and understood to be familiar to me– anxiety and depression.

Catching myself, I stiffen and force my body to relax. The distance between the familiar and unfamiliar widens. I am righting myself up.

I’m beginning again and I have only Him to thank.

 

Another Sunday

The Church is not meant to be intimidating. People are supposed to come and feel welcomed. Yet I have heard countless tales about the hurt and bitterness inflicted upon people by the Church. They always say, “I left because of the Church.” Although what they mean is, “I left because of the people who were supposed to welcome me, but turned me away instead.” It was the people who were intimidating.

I can relate to these stories because I used to resent the Church. It was the first place where I felt so lonely and upset about myself. I had one friend– my cousin. My name was easily forgotten and I felt invisible. I especially hated retreats because there were group activities such as relay races and skits. These games were meant to forge bonds, but instead, they clarified the absence of relations.

It’s like when you’re in gym class and you’re the last to be chosen for a team. You’re not last because you suck. You’re last because they didn’t remember to include you until the absence of everyone else made you apparent again.

I hated the Church for making me feel invisible and unwanted. I silently cursed the girls who would walk up to me with huge smiles that didn’t reach their eyes. I fumed when I saw my peers chasing the upperclassmen because they were so desperate to fit “in.” I cried when I realized that I had no friends.

And the whole time I blamed the Church. Now I have divvied up the blame. I look back and realize what I could have done, but I also look back and remember the many times I openly resented the Church and they openly ignored me. They viewed my resentment as my problem. My bitterness and my anger were mine alone in their eyes.

They forgot that I was a part of their community. They forgot that a community exists so what is mine is ours. They forgot to untangle themselves from their own lives long enough to pause and see me standing there. Alone. Sad. Bitter. Fearful. Upset. Shy.

The Church has hurt many people, but the Church is not God. The community is not God. I am not God. They are not God. God is God and Him alone.

So if the Church isn’t God then what is it?

The Church is supposed to be the church. The church with people who are broken like me and seeking to be made whole again. The church that is imperfect because we make up the body and humans are imperfect.

I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know how to help those who have been, are hurt, or will be hurt by the Church.

But I do know this– the Church does not exist to save us. It is Christ alone. We must not place our faith in a building or a group of people. Nor can we burden the church and its people with our anger. Anger fuels hate. God is love so where will you find Him if you have nothing but anger and hate tightly clenched in your hands?

 

If you don’t even notice someone from your community is missing, shame on you.