I can only describe the girl that arrived a year ago in Seattle as one word: broken.
The combination of an unexpected breakup the night before I left (surprise!), and seeing my usually stoic Chinese family sobbing at the airport left me in emotional shock. I was overwhelmed by so many feelings in the narrow 24 hours before I was supposed to move across the country to the opposite coastline.
And of course, with my luck, my flight was experiencing particularly bad head winds, requiring a slight detour over Canada. I wept for the entire 5-hour journey over, making the people near me so noticeably uncomfortable that they offered to move so I could use the bathroom not ONCE but thrice. When I arrived at Sea-Tac, I was shaking – my mind and body were so disconnected that I just didn’t notice that I hadn’t eaten in 10 hours. It felt like I was starting at emotional square zero; going to IKEA alone the next day without a loving significant other or supportive parent was by far the lowest moment I’ve had since moving here.
But after wards, I came back to an empty room and fucking BUILT that IKEA bed.
I assembled a desk lamp. I drilled a full-length mirror onto my wall. One Hemnes bed piece at a time, I regained a sense of capability and consequently my sense of self. And just like a new life in Seattle slowly started to blossom, that once broken girl gradually found her footing again, along with her light, and ability to make others laugh.
I have a lot of people to thank for the lessons I’ve learned in this past year.
Through my roommates and friends – you have taught me the importance of having an open heart. It ain’t news to you that I can sometimes be a judgmental asshole, and without knowing me many of you were more than willing to hang out with the girl who had just been dumped. Y’all gave me a chance, and as a result, I’ve met incredible people who I laugh, cry, hike, cook, sing, and dance with.
Through my company and coworkers – you have shown me tenacity. A pot of gold could be sitting right in front of you, but it’s on you to go and take it for yourself. Your outcomes in both your professional and personal world hinge on the action you take – don’t just sit around and be complacent. Get out there and meet cool people, do cool shit, and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
Through myself – I frequently found a lot of vulnerability and doubt. But alongside that vulnerability, I have also found acceptance. Acceptance of the vulnerability, acceptance of the time and space I occupy, and above all an acceptance that sometimes you just have to roll with whatever is thrown at you. Most importantly, I've found acceptance that mental health is something to prioritize – my anxiety was getting so bad that it started affecting my ability to relate to other people as well as get out of bed. I am not at all ashamed to admit that I’ve had help from talk therapy and Zoloft, and my only regret is that I didn’t seek medical attention sooner.
Indeed, this year between university and real life has been a weird transitional one, complete with severe ups and downs served alongside a heaping dose of confusion. On some days, that broken girl from day 1 is someone I still identify with. But on many other days, I’m grinning ear to ear, chest swelling with joy and happiness. Whether it was going to my first Leavenworth Oktoberfest, attempting my first Pacific Northwest scramble, or just chatting with my many friends from all over the world, Seattle has both nurtured my soul and made me optimistic that the future holds a lot of beautiful gems to look forward to. My heart is full.