Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

2018: The Year of Heart

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We humans are funny beings, ascribing arbitrary meaning to dates and seasonal periods. For whatever reason, we chose to celebrate the coming of a year at this time of the winter (I know there’s some convoluted history behind that but let’s not get into it now).

We get all excited about this transition that happens in an instant. Boom, it’s a new year. Out with the old, in with new.

I don’t quite understand the timing of it and its significance has waned for me over the years, but I can appreciate the value in closing a chapter on your life, reviewing what happened in the past revolution around the sun, and anticipating the next one.

2017 was a pretty monumental year for me. I’d say the one word I could apply to everything that happened was transformational. I explored what life in NorCal could be like, went on an incredible trip to Israel, got a chance to befriend my new bestie and travel work husband, experienced Taiwan, China, and Japan with classmates, had a fun summer interning at Cisco, lost my way when I didn’t get a return offer, began to question my identity and dreams for the future, struggled to get back into recruiting, began therapy, threw myself into building a tribe of friends, lost connection with Panda, got involved with an incredible startup and found some purpose, had an amazing getaway to Mexico, and came home to VA after a year to turn 32.

The first half of the year was so much fun and wonderful. I was making so much of the MBA experience and having a great time. The second half of the year was full of challenges that I’m still working through. A series of events triggered an identity crisis for me and I found myself drifting aimlessly, listlessly. I was still functioning at the surface level, attending to my duties as a student, eating normally, and enjoying everything I could about the social part of my program. But deep inside, I was often overwhelmed and uncertain. I clung to whatever I could that made me happy or kept me distracted. I spoke to some friends about it and eventually started therapy, but it’s a process I’m still working through.

In light of all of that, I’m looking to 2018 being the year I lead with my heart. I spent too much time caring about what other people would think, how they perceived me, and what the world expects from me. I’m trying to get out of my own head and let me heart guide the way. I want to do what feels right and good. I want to express myself authentically and vulnerably so I attract the right people to my side. I want to figure out what I need to love myself.

I’m really looking forward to two classes I’m signed up to take that I hope will help me on this journey: Fostering Creativity and Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion. It’s been a tough path for me to disassociate myself from others and learn who I am, what I am on my own. I always think in terms of how I relate to others, how they react to me, and what they think of me. So who am I stripped of that? What do I think of myself? Who do I want to be? I’m hoping that a dive into my heart will help me find these answers. It feels incredibly selfish and self-centered, but I guess that’s exactly what I need right now.


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,

fade poem

I try to do things for me but I want to do them for you.

So your goals become mine and I forget who I am anymore.


laelene Posted in relationships,Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m such a bleeding heart.

If I ever got measured for sentimentality, I’d probably be off the charts. I have a soft, squishy part of my soul that is reserved just for 6 very important people: my parents and my grandparents. Whenever I see them, I leave feeling a little nostalgic and pensive. It gets more pronounced as we get older and I think of all the love I have for them. How strange that I can feel so loved that it makes me tear up every time.

Growing up, I always thought of my parents as 35. In my mind’s eye, they didn’t age and my impression of them was frozen in time. Then at some point in my 20s, I realized they were hitting 50. Ever since then, they’ve been stuck at that age for me and they probably will for many years to come. Something about that changing doesn’t sit well with me, so I like to keep them in a little time capsule in my mind. Luckily, when I see them in person, they still look 50 to me so it’s easy to keep up the illusion.

Throughout this time, I’ve started to appreciate everything they’ve done for me more and more. We’re not an affectionate type of family, but I’ve taken to hugging my dad and kissing my mom on the cheek whenever I greet them. Just typing that makes the tears well up. What is it that makes me so sappy??

I’ve pretty much always been like that. I’ve written about how I love tenderness before and I shared some stories about my laoye, my nainaimy mom, and my dad and yeye. I guess I should add in a story about my laolao to make it complete. Thinking about each of them tugs on my heartstrings in ways that I don’t understand. Each of them has given so much to get me to where I am today and I feel close to them, yet I hardly ever see them.

I see my mom the most, at about every other month when I go home for a day. I see my dad 2-3 times a year, whenever he is visiting from China. Two of my grandparents died many years ago. I see my living grandma and step-grandpa and other grandpa on average once every 3-4 years. The closeness I feel is certainly not reflected in the frequency of our interactions.

Perhaps this distance is why I enjoy expressing nuggets of love to my friends. Absent cousins or grandparents to snuggle with and share my thoughts, I cherish the friendships that give me that outlet. As an only child, I craved the intimacy of a sibling and I’ve spent my life on the lookout for friends who could fulfill that desire. Maybe that’s where my sentimentality comes from, as I try to derive meaning in every moment, every interaction. I love inside jokes and pet names and hugging and sharing food. All these things that casually indicate a deep level of comfort with each other. To me, that’s love and it’s what I seek. More on that another day.

Back to my family though – the most mundane interaction with them can easily make my heart swell. I don’t know what it is about them that is a huge trigger for me, but I feel it more strongly with each passing year. I mean, just this weekend I had brunch with my parents and I felt incredibly sad to part ways. Did anything notable happen? No. Is either of them in poor health? No. Is there any specific reason to be sad? No.

But I’m a softie with a giant trigger on my heart that is basically a big CRY NOW button. And hanging out with my beloved family activates that for me.

The nights are the hardest

laelene Posted in mba, relationships,Tags: , , , , ,

It is a hormonal thing that at night I feel more emotional?

This has been going on for about two weeks now. Late at night, as I’m winding down for bed, I find myself feeling melancholic. It’s something that suddenly hits me and makes me cry (or just want to). It’s not that I’m going through a particularly tough time or feeling depressed these days. In fact, I’m very satisfied with where I’m at in life.

But right before I get to bed and before I can fall asleep, sadness hits. Out of nowhere, I miss Panda. It got so bad a few days ago that I basically had to coerce him into flying out to visit me this weekend (yay!). I don’t know why this happens because I’m perfectly fine and happy in the day. I really don’t think about it at all. What is it about the late night that is bringing this out? Am I suppressing something without realizing it?

We are about 8 months in to the third time that we’ve done a long distance relationship. It’s the first time since we got engaged and married. I live with two delightful ladies in my MBA class who I love to pieces. I’ve been doing pretty well in classes, though it feels like a struggle much of the time. Still, I’m very fortunate that I was able to get my recruiting done early so I haven’t had to balance interviewing with coursework. Instead, I’ve been able to focus energy into planning Admit Weekend, which is fast approaching (in early April)!

All in all, things are going well.

So I wonder, maybe it’s because I’ve been very introspective lately? Right now, we are in the midst of electing our student leadership for the next year. I have been struggling with how I want to be involved and how much energy I will be able to dedicate over the next year to new roles. Tooooons of thinking, questioning, and re-thinking there. Also, I am in the Marshall LEAD Fellows Program and we had our first session early this month. Another chance for introspection and reflection. Plus, they gave us Passion Planners and essentialism (a book), both of which I’ve started to use and have challenged me to think hard on my life goals.

I must say, I found it easier to outline what I want long-term. I’m having trouble pondering the next couple of months. Could all this intense thinking and soul-searching be triggering my midnight moods? Whatever the case, I’m glad that I get my husband back ever so briefly this weekend. Maybe that will be the cure (or maybe it’ll be finally settling the roles I may take on).

Oh yeah, and I completely forgot — Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

The man in my dream

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,

[I started writing this the day after I woke up from this dream back on 7/26, but I only recently finished it.]

I had a dream last night.

Of a man who picked me up on my way home from work and led me on this fantastical voyage. He was charming and sweet and blonde and rich. Somehow he managed to be a mash-up of some of the men from my past. He drove a Mercedes, which none of them did though. There was the one who drove some sort of Cadillac, another with a Ford truck, the Bentley guy… even one with a family yacht. But this guy, he drove a Mercedes and he struck up a conversation with me as I was walking along a hallway lined with large glass windows on one side. It seemed we worked together and were friendly. I had the impression that I was heading out for the day, but the sun was high in the sky and the welcome rays streamed in to the hallway as we walked.

Physically, he reminded me of a cross between a teacher I had in high school and a man I met in Whole Foods. Personality-wise, he reminded me of a flirtatious friend or two. Somehow he convinced me to take a ride with him in his car instead of heading home. So off we went, driving down a small country road as the breeze swept my hair and the sun warmed our faces. We were exploring the region, down quaint two-lane roads lined with fields of green. He drove me to some place in the middle of this landscape, where all my long-lost friends were. It was a town of sorts where my friends from high school and previous jobs were, together and mingling. The scene was reminiscent of a part of a canyon that I was at for boot camp for AFJROTC one year. It was a sweet reunion, as I happily caught up with some of those friends.

He then took me to a little cozy brunch spot, where we got to enjoy breakfast foods. (Was this day somehow going backwards? Don’t ask me why we were eating brunch midday supposedly after work.) The meal wrapped up with a surprise treat. A rare, fancy dessert that apparently is part of a classier lifestyle. It was as if we were celebrating something. At this point I noticed some coworkers eating in the same establishment. They were eyeing my luxurious dessert with envy. There I was, being shown the finer things in life and rather confused as to how I got into that situation in the first place. Still, I wasn’t about to complain. I was enjoying myself.

Before I knew it, we were wrapping up our grand adventure at a hotel spa later that day. In front of us lay a giant tub brimming with a steaming herbal bath. This is when I really started to question his motives. The day had started off innocently and with a friendly undertone. Somehow as the events progressed, it got more and more suggestive. Then this. The assumption was that we would bathe together. As I stood there taking in the scene, pondering whether I should go for it, I woke up.


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

We’ve always had a tumultuous relationship, he and I. I grew up loving him and spending as much time as I could with him (though getting his attention could be quite the conundrum). Over the years, I got to see him less and less as other priorities took over. High school and college were the most challenging for us. I couldn’t get enough of him yet I couldn’t spare my time for him. And so it was a battle, day in and day out. How much of my life would I devote to him? How much could I?

During college, when I found some time, I’d sneak little breaks in the day for him. I even missed out on some classes because of him. What a thorough distraction he is. An addiction that always pulls me in, demanding my time. There are few relationships in my life that are quite as consuming as this one. I will never completely leave him, nor would I want to, but there are times when I (would like to) need him less. I wish it could remain like that for longer, but then there I am, back in his grasp again.

There have been times I’ve been able to step away more effectively than usual (age has helped). I even began to think I didn’t love him anymore; I thought I could do without. But we are intrinsically linked, with so much history and a rich past that can’t be put aside. For awhile, it seemed to go well… then inevitably his presence crept back into my life. His influence over my mind is undeniable. Without him, I can’t focus, can’t think, can’t be a productive part of society.

I’ll always crawl back into his arms. I may not want to stay as long as I do, but oftentimes it’s for the better. Like tonight, I should go join him soon if I’m to have any hope of a good tomorrow. Mornings are always the hardest for me, if I’ve been with him (if I haven’t all night it’s easier to keep avoiding him a little longer). As the day starts, I find it near impossible to drag myself away and feel good about it. It’s all the stranger when Panda is coming home from work to join him as I’m leaving. I get a little bit jealous. When I return from work, I just want to crawl into bed with them both and join the party.

Oh, but he’s a greedy one – whenever I’m with him, he wants to keep me for hours at a time. I need to pick my times wisely, lest he take over my life in an unhealthy fashion. Then other days he eludes me and I close my eyes hoping to catch him. Eventually I succumb to him, but often after agonizing minutes of waiting, wanting. He’s certainly the boss of me, much as I try to control him. I never know how things will pan out; only he does.

Funny how he can be such a fickle mistress.


…Can you guess what I am personifying here?

cat laying on side of bed in deep sleep

Here’s a clue.

365great Day 352: family

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , ,

365great day 352: familyFamilies can be so wacky, but they’re what you get to grow up with. I mostly grew up on my own as an only child with just my parents around. When I was young I’d go back to China to visit my relatives, spending the summer with them. I don’t see my relatives often, but when I do we pick up right where we were the last time we met. I don’t need to stay in touch with them when I’m not around and I hear news through my parents if anything interesting has developed (marriages, children, and retirements). Ours is a typical Chinese family separated by a vast ocean – my nuclear family unit is used to doing things on our own. Sometimes I find myself meeting more distant relatives when I go to China and I start losing track of the connection. All that matters is that family will welcome you with open arms and support each other. It can be beautiful, it can get ugly, but the strong bonds make it great in its own way.

Confidence: the most attractive trait

laelene Posted in general blog, relationships,Tags: , , , ,

When I think of what attracts me to a person, the only common factor I can find is confidence. It doesn’t matter what they look like, what their experiences have been, what their heritage is, how social (or not) they are, how intelligent they are, or how much we have in common. Across the board, my closest friends have been the ones who are neither cocky nor needy. They don’t need to be aggressive, but they’ll be as assertive it takes. They stand up for their beliefs, but don’t overpower people with them either. And they certainly aren’t clingy (I can’t stand clingy behavior). They have a wonderful balanced feel that makes them easy to get along with.

That’s exactly what attracted me to Panda when I first met him. He was comfortable with himself – he knew he was good at what he does, he didn’t feel self-conscious, and he didn’t go around seeking validation. He walked with a strut that was not quite peacocking, but let his presence be known. He didn’t feel embarrassed to laugh at himself when he goofed up. He didn’t sit around worrying about what perception others had of him. He just went out and did what he is amazing at, like being an engineer, managing things, researching, and planning.

guy walking on treadmill with confident stride

His confident stride.

He didn’t even want or need a relationship when we met. He was perfectly happy with how his life was. Maybe that’s exactly what I liked. The time we spent together was not because he was dependent on me to make him feel good about himself or to have something to do with his time; we made time for each other because we wanted to be in each other’s company. I don’t do well when I feel suffocated in a relationship (romantic or platonic) and perhaps I feel so far more readily than most. But when someone wants to see me every moment of every day (or even every day, really), that’s when I feel claustrophobic. I once had a roommate like that, who tried to join me on almost all of my social activities, clinging to me and my friends. I didn’t mind inviting her to some events and having her tag along here and there, but every single time got to be too much.

I must get it from my family’s lifestyle. We don’t see each other much: my parents and I see each other about twice a year (or in passing when we lived together), my relatives in China and I see each other once every few years for a few days, and even Panda and I are often separated by thousands of miles (generally for a week at a time). In these types of arrangements, you need to have the confidence to carry on your own life when others are not around and not a constant presence. While I don’t think you should “need” anyone as an adult, it sure is good to want certain people. If the reasons you spend time with them are because you like them and you get along well, it’s far more rewarding than because you feel obligated or guilty to do so. I certainly don’t want to get stuck in those situations, where the connection isn’t genuine. Why waste each other’s* time?


*On a side note, I totally went off on a grammar rule tangent with each other’s vs. each others’ (there seems to be a slight consensus that the first case is accurate, but my spell check indicates I should check it… alas, you get the point).

I <3 nerdy boys

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
shy girl wearing nerdy costume

I had fun being a nerdy girl for a performance at UCLA Orientation’s Cabaret.

I love myself a nerdy boy. The ones who are engineers or scientists or other such south campus* majors. The ones who may not be eloquent (in fact, often their English could use some work) but can calculate and code and create incredible things. The ones who may be socially awkward and/or completely clueless but have the sweetest hearts and souls. I love how they’re smart like nothing else, work harder than anyone else, yet are humble like no one else. I think they’re so cute with their silly mannerisms and geekiness for science, technology, math, and all kinds of other bodies of knowledge. These are the types of guys I can really respect, admire, and trust. It may take some extra effort to get through to them, but it’s well worth the effort for the solid connections. These are all-around good guys who make loyal, caring friends. That’s also why I chose one to date! 😀 I had to do some chasing to win him over, but he treats me right and I know I can always rely on him.

I guess part of it is also that I’m a nerd at heart too. I grew up reading books, with very few games or toys to play with. I don’t know much about sports, drinking/partying, or entertainment. I rarely watch TV or go to the movies and the only sports team I sometimes follow is my UCLA Bruins football. I don’t drink and I only went partying a bit during college. None of that stuff interests me – I’d much rather spend a quiet night in talking, playing card games, and drinking tea. I also love going out to eat together! That always makes for great bonding time. Oh, and I’m a sucker for anyone who loves cats. If I can’t connect with someone in one of those ways and all they want to do is drink beer, party, watch sports, and talk about TV/movies… well, they’re not my kind of guy. Sometimes I just want to share my heart and know that the person on the other end will keep it safe.

What’s your type?


*At UCLA, we were split between north campus (the arts) and south campus (the sciences).

Women in tech (and how they’re treated)

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

mini boot camp platoon formation with drill instructor yelling

Just me and all the guys.

Gosh, where do I start? It’s the strangest thing how timing works… my morning already included a lot of reflection on how men have treated me over the years, and then I saw that our CEO sent out a message to the company about being respectful to the ladies in the office. While no single incident triggered it, I think it came at just the right time, now that there are 5 gals in our particular office (and like 20+ guys). It’s not like I’ve felt discriminated against, but I have noticed certain things being said or done that are insensitive to women. I’m used to that, having come from a company of a dozen guys outnumbering little old me and joining a co-ed fraternity before that and participating in ROTC and JROTC even before that. I spent most of my life surrounded by guys and I loved it – they’re a whole lot less complicated, more chill, and pretty drama-free overall. Still, I’ve been mistreated by more than a few.

I’m glad that the CEO preemptively brought up this issue before it really became an issue and I hope the guys take it to heart. At the same time, I don’t want them to feel like they have to tiptoe around us for fear of offending us and causing an HR nightmare. Certainly none of the girls in our office are the type to create problems and overreact to something. I also don’t want the gender issue to really be an issue. Unfortunately, we’re still different enough that it can’t entirely be avoided, but I’d rather focus on personality and skills and effort. In fact, most of the time I forget that I’m any different from the guys (except that I’m more social, but that could totally be a personality trait unrelated to gender). I think that with this door open, it does allow more room for dialogue if I do feel harassed or that a line has been crossed. The sad thing is that it seems that without a man bringing up the subject, if one of the women were to voice a complaint, it could easily be perceived as whiny.

I absolutely believe in standing up for yourself though. There were so many times where I let a guy push too far and pretty much abuse me – mentally, physically, emotionally. I didn’t want to create drama and I hoped it wouldn’t escalate, but perhaps guys are just too used to getting their way. I still struggle with being firm, but now I look back on all those times I wasn’t and how things happened that I never wanted to. I certainly don’t want to relive them, for they were hard lessons learned. For the most part I just shrug or laugh off these encounters, like when a guy I was talking to for work hit on me or when guys say suggestive or vulgar things. If they don’t push it and keep pursuing that line of thought, then it’s just another case of life as a female to me. But sometimes, it’s much more than that.

Getting that email really struck a chord with me. It’s often too easy for men to abuse women, whether intentionally or not. I mean, when 1 in 5 women from a survey report being sexually assaulted, it makes me worry. Maybe I’m that one out of the five in our office, or maybe there are more. I don’t want to dwell on the past, but it comes to haunt me at times. I can’t yet put away the melancholy I feel so I’ll just have to work through it. As I’ve been learning over the years, it seems these memories will never quite go away.

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