When I was about 14, like Penny on The Big Bang Theory and every other 14-year-old, I dreamed of becoming a big movie star/singer/Hannah Montana/whatever. You get it. Fortunately, that dream was soon replaced by a way more practical dream of becoming a TV reporter, something that I had chased after for seven years until I realized I can be so much more.
Looking back, of course I see that “dream” as a joke now, but back then, I really wanted it. I thought it was the only thing I would ever wanna
One day when I was flipping through CosmoGirl, I found an article on the power of a dream scrapbook. It talked about some woman somewhere who had made a scrapbook (obviously I was born in the pre-Pinterest era) with photos of everything that she wanted: her dream job, her dream house, her dream man, etc. The scrapbook was a journal reminding her what she wanted to be, encouraging her to go after what she wanted. She worked hard to pursue these things and one day she got everything of her dreams.
My 14-year-old self was blown away by the concept. I immediately pulled out a brand new journal and wrapped it in the nicest paper I could find–a magazine spread depicting flying ribbons of different colours against a light grey background. I stuck photos of places that I wanted to go, trips that I wanted to take, celebrities that I aspired to be, dresses that I wished to wear in my wedding, hot guys that I’d die to date and so on onto that book. I updated that book on and off for about two years I think. I even brought that book with me to college.
Eventually I after had grown older, my dream took a different direction. I stopped wanting those things in the book, and I stopped believing in the power of a book anyone could make.
On top of my full time job and regular part time gags, I have began given lectures at my alma mater. Despite what I’ve bitched about on this blog before, I have never ever been more drained physically and mentally in my life. I basically work investment bankers hours, and I work 70 hours a week. My social life really has reduced to zero because I spent every waking, non working hours laying in bed. I stopped running ages ago. I haven’t even had time to record my Apple podcast with my besties.
This schedule has screwed up my ability to live like a functional human being. To illustrate my point, I have been failing in performing trivial tasks like putting my keys in the bag, bring the gift to people when I was supposed to meet them for that specific purpose, or getting my schedule right recently. I used to not rely on a calendar because I was very good with remembering what to do on which day. Now I need to input simple tasks such as “bring tissue papers” on my iPhone Reminders. I honestly believe my cranial capacity is pushing its limit.
Despite this super hectic life, I have never felt more content in my life.
Today after work, on my way to my student’s, I starting thinking about how proud and satisfied I felt last Saturday while my master’s students, a class of 40, appreciated a table that I made for them in the Keynote. Before the course began, I thought I would not take it too seriously because I didn’t think my students would care anyway. They just wanted to pass with putting in the least effort possible, I thought. Turns out I’m unable to be an irresponsible teacher. I cannot not care about my students when they show such enthusiasm, which is very, very hard to come by these days.
That moment I really felt the passion Violet showed in Florid Eyes: A Novel. When I wrote that book, I made sure she is a PhD student who takes her teaching duty very seriously, unlike some other TAs who just want to get the side job over with. I also felt the drive Violet possesses in pursuing her dream. Even though it’s still gonna be a while until I start my PhD, everything I do now, every extra hour I’m taking, every dollar I make, will be channeled to support myself for the next three to four years. My colleagues are always luring me with discount information here and there. I always say no although I can afford some finer things in life now with my earnings. It reminds me of how Violet had worked for two years for a New York City alderman before she started her PhD in Georgetown. She has some savings, but she lives a very humble life.
A few weeks ago, I got very frustrated because of a situation that was out of my control. I was upset for like three days. Then I picked myself up because I knew I had absolutely done my best. No tears. No drama. Life goes on.
I was geniuely surprised at how positive I’ve become and how I’ve stopped beating myself up like I tended to. For almost a year, I had been telling people Violet wasn’t me. She was someone that I wished I could be. Sure I still don’t have her slender figure and her marble eyes and her vampire soulmate, but I’ve got her strength, confidence, determination and passion.
This quote on Pinterest really struck a chord with me.
The scrapbook I made when I was 14 didn’t work because what it contained were just end results. It didn’t tell me how I could become what I wanted to be. Florid Eyes: A Novel is different. When I gave life to Violet, I knew who she is. I understood her. I knew what her pattern is, the traits she manifests and how she deals with life and hardships. I knew how she became who she is.
Florid Eyes: A Novel is more than an end to me, more than just a book written by a wannabe novelist. It’s a manual guiding me to become the woman I truly want to be.