Topic: Take a picture of yourself and compare it with an old one. Reflect on the things you were going through then and the things you are going through now.
One thing's for sure, I was at my heaviest in weight (around 145-150) back then and now I'm a mere 115.
I can't remember if I took this in 2008 or 2009, but in any case, the years were similar to each other enough. My level of self-confidence was at its highest; at nineteen/twenty I thought I was on top of the world, and of course I had the cockiness to match it. Around that time, I was somewhat of a minor local celebrity in the Los Angeles underground hip-hop scene due to my blog The Urban Decadence. I was going out a lot to shows, interviewing musicians (although in retrospect, those interviews weren't really any good) and I had finally found a way to tie in my passion for music and love for writing together.
Thinking back on it now, I lived in duality. At home, since I was still living with my parents at the time, I was the quiet daughter. The one who did all the housework and held her tongue. The one who had to somewhat cater to her younger brother since he was the only son. Although my parents weren't traditional, they had an old-world way about them (especially my father) and was iron-willed when it came to traditional Korean values and way of life. Though we openly talked about "American things" (like sexuality and such), I had to suppress a lot about myself.
Outside of my parents' jurisdiction, I was...pretty wild. Not in the sense of partying or anything like that but...I just didn't care. All the restrictions and reserves that were put on me inside my parents' home was immediately stripped off me the moment I exited the door. I was louder. I said what I wanted. I did what I wanted. In a sense, I was free. Free from the tension and stress of having to mute myself in every possible way. And free from the ways of my Korean culture, something I grew to resent and constantly try to push the boundaries of.
I wasn't much of a good student though. I don't think I've ever had perfect attendance in any of my college courses over at CSULA. I'd leave early or wouldn't bother to show up, preferring to go eat at Shaka's (yummy Hawaiian) or Noodle World with friends. My grades were...okay. I only really paid attention to the classes I really liked and the rest I just skimmed through. My focus was more on my blog, on my network, martial arts (I was heavy into Tae Kwon Do since 5th grade until 2009) and my artistry.
I would come home late (something unheard of for a Korean girl), constantly lock myself in my room just to avoid having to deal with the tradition that suffocated me... I think that's what drove my father to the edge. I must have seemed unfocused, engaged in chuck-foolery, and he abhorred the fact that I was driving myself deeper and deeper into music instead of trying to finish school on time (or early) with a degree and vision of law school. When he gave me the ultimatum of "his way or the highway", I packed all my belongings and left. That's definitely something I couldn't have done without my friends, and it's something I don't regret doing at all, no matter how hastily and rashly the decision was made.
The 19/20 year old me was a little badass, with my head held high and middle finger up in the air for everyone to suck on. I was full of anger, ambition, arrogance, a complete disregard for what anyone thought of me, and I abhorred emotional attachment. I was well-guarded and believed that if I just avoid the whole process of letting anyone in, friendly or romantic, I wouldn't have to deal with the whole bullshit that comes with the better sides of human relationships. I was somewhat of a misanthrope, which was weird because I was the most sociable and easy-to-befriend. In those days, my success was going to be the best revenge and I went about believing that all I needed was myself.
Fast-forward to 2011 and now I'm a completely different person. I've calmed down a lot (though you can't really tell by the picture above, haha) and I'm pretty boring. I wake up, go to work, come straight home. You can't find me out drinking (only on rare occasion, and I can't drink the way I used to..in fact, I prefer not to drink), and you sure as hell won't find any of my pictures on DJMYSTER-E.com's gallery anymore, no more bar/lounge pictures from Falcon, etc etc. Over the course of two-three years, I've grown a considerable amount and though there are many choices I sometimes wish I didn't make, if I had a chance to do it all over I'd go about it the same way. Yes, I haven't been in school for almost two years now but in those two years of complete struggle and fuckery, I've learned a lot about myself and my capabilities.
Though it took me a while, I've regained some of my confidence back after losing it due to a certain situation. I've finally picked up the pieces of myself and I'm slowly getting back into the groove of things, after ceasing to live for about a year or so. (Can you believe that between 2009 and now, I've completely disappeared from the scene, ceased to write, ceased to blog, ceased cultivating the friendships I've made during the TUD era...???) It's only this year when everything fell into place after such a chaotic storm. After all was said and done, after everything calmed and took its course, I came out of it a new person. A much older (as if my experiences hasn't aged me already), quiet version of me. (I know, right?)
I still don't really have a true understanding of myself yet, regretfully enough. But I've let go of a lot of the rage that fueled me and I no longer want to succeed for vindictive reasons. It was hard at first, letting go of all that used to drive me for the most part of my life. I felt empty, purposeless, and there was definitely a lot of 'questions of self'--I mean, can you blame me? I lived and did things and strove for success to come out on top despite of all the family members who deemed me worthless (my father being one of them). My sole purpose of living was to prove the cruel, blood-related naysayers wrong and have the smug sense of victory the day I do. But, honestly, that's no way to live. Because after all that, after all the gloating and "HA! In your face!" and shit like that, then what? Honestly, I'm glad that I figured that out now rather then later on. Imagine being successful and with family and then going through an identity crisis like that? Pft, I'd rather take that blow now in my early twenties and avoid the whole mid-life, i-don't-know-what-to-live-for-now-that-I-came-out-on-top-out-of-vengeance-to-my-spiteful-family identity(who-am-I-without-my-anger)-crisis. Ya feel me?
I'm still trying to figure myself out, but I know what I want in life. I know which direction I want to take and what exactly it is I want to immerse myself with. Also, now that I'm older, I finally understand the importance of tradition (though I still don't agree with the strict and abusive manner my father used to instill it in me) and I find myself wanting to preserve that part of me more and more. I find myself wanting to uphold it and even thought of instilling it into my own children (whenever that may be). No matter how much I have assimilated into the American culture, no matter how many interracial friends I have, no matter how much I don't get along with my generation of Korean kids, I am Korean. It's rare to find a Korean American my age who can read, write, type, and fluently speak our language and I'm glad I'm a part of that rarity.
And love...oh love. Didn't start out too ideal but it's been cloud nine with each passing day. It's a trip to think that we're both growing together, and I realized that we both really grew a lot from the two people we were in 2009. Don't mean to be cheesy but something beautiful bloomed from all that muck and heartbreak for sure. I still kind of shake my head in disbelief over how everything happened. And how we just started living together. Hahaha, we're like the epitome of the phrase "going with the flow". I have to say though, being in love humbled me quite a bit.
Anyway, it's 2011 and I've finally found my niche. Fully embraced my maturity, something I've masked and ignored quite a while, and filled with the want to better myself wholly (although, I have to admit that you'll catch a glimpse of the 2009-me every now and then and on Twitter, haha). 2012 will be the year you'll be hearing my name more and more often. It'll be like the days of The Urban Decadence, except this time around I'll switch out my obnoxious-crown for a classy fit.