Genuinely

I am genuinely happy with the current direction of life. I wake up refreshed, pace throughout the day with good energy and head to bed with sweet dreams. My normal routine consists of the following: go to work and do my job right, attend an hour-long body combat class at the gym, eat delicious food with friends, catch up on shows via Netflix and scout for creative projects.

I will be visiting Minnesota a week from today and am beyond excited to see family and friends! I got a new carry-on luggage a few days ago and finished packing right away! I am notorious for planning and organizing my trips – see my itinerary below – TADA! I do this to not waste time and don’t get upset if something does go off schedule as I do appreciate spontaneity. Other than attending my friends’ wedding in Iowa and meeting my best friend’s soon-to-be husband for the first time, I am focusing on spending a majority of my vacation with family every chance I get.

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You Had Me At Hello

She is a positive person by nature.

I start my new job tomorrow and am relaxing before the big day. This past week involved running errands, getting my priorities straight and binge watching season 4 of Orange is the New Black and seasons 1 & 2 of The Office.

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This artsy ‘Hello!’ wall will greet me here on as I drive to work every morning. After leaving my last job, I gave myself a month and a half deadline to find a new opportunity I would enjoy long-term. I met my goal! As much as I would love to work for a company that fulfills a combination of human rights and justice + project/account management + front end development, I concluded that a work environment and a close-knit team are most important to me. I love a challenge to dive into something I don’t know much about, so I am eager to begin this chapter in my life with a supportive group of people. I function well at a company or organization that values their employees and I have a good feeling about my new beginning.

Lemonade

How do you like your lemonade? 🍋  ‪#‎servedfresh‬

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Summer is here all year round in Austin, TX! I love these fun lemonade print shorts from Ann Taylor that I got over Labor Day weekend last year. It’s more exciting now that lemonade is relevant in pop culture and music thanks to Queen B. The crop white top is from Forever 21 and I got it for a steal – only $5! I’ve been waiting patiently to purchase one and it was worth the wait.

xo

Should I Come Forth About My Rapist?

I was 21 years old.

It was a critical time in my life because everything changed. I had to accept the fact that I was no longer a virgin. The blood coming from my period stained my thighs and soaked through my black tights. Tears fell down my face as I laid still on the sofa. I recount this moment when I hear people make jokes about rape. “That’s not funny,” I say when people laugh. I feel the need to be vocal and clear, “I was raped by a boyfriend.” I replay that scene in my head whenever I read news about victims and their rapists.

I’m crying out of frustration for the victim at Stanford. Two little girls in my hometown – five and seven years old – were raped, physically abused and stripped of their childhood last month. A college student was strangled to death after her attacker sexually assaulted her on the University of Texas at Austin campus. My perception of injustice changed and I want to fight the system to punish these harsh crimes.

Earlier this year I finally told my sisters about what happened to me five years ago. My voice was shaking and my heart beating fast. I casually hinted that I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend at the time. I brushed it off when the conversation got heated. I’ve always felt better when I write so I wrote a poem and posted it to my Facebook page and got a shocking number of response. To my disbelief, some of my girl friends suffered from the same reason – they have been raped – and remained silent. They thanked me for writing what they had gone through and it empowered me to fight for us.

Flashback to that night when I was over at my ex-boyfriend’s house. My older sister and her boyfriend drove to his place because they were worried sick and my best friend told them my whereabouts. I didn’t pick up my phone because I was drunk. It was unintentional and probably the fifth time I had ever drank in my life. My relationship was going downhill and I chose to spend New Year’s with my boyfriend hoping we would make up. He lived right across from me and invited me last minute to the New Year’s party he hosted.

My sister arrived just moments after my boyfriend “finished” with me. There was loud banging at the door and I was laying still in the living room. As soon as I heard her voice (a friend of mine who lived at the house opened the door), I pulled my tights up as fast as I could because I didn’t want her to worry. I didn’t want her to see me this way. She was crying hysterically because I didn’t answer my phone and she had no idea what had just happened with me. I held my composure to save my face. I believed my boyfriend was somewhere in the house hiding and cleaning up. My sister and her boyfriend called my boyfriend a “scumbag” for being an asshole and ignoring me for an entire month.

After my sister’s boyfriend dropped me off at my townhouse, I called my boyfriend while leaning over the toilet but he didn’t comfort me. Instead, he just told me to sleep and hung up. I jumped in the shower and stood under hot running water until I was fully conscious. My body just didn’t feel the same anymore. I was trying to wash away the feeling of penetration. I was scared and felt used. Worthless. Disgusted. How could this filth be cleansed? I was on my period and he didn’t use protection. I scrubbed myself even harder down there. Everything was a bloody mess.

I try not to think about this critical time because I don’t want to remember. Maybe those around me couldn’t tell, but I was fucked up in the head for a while. But I went to see my boyfriend the next day anyway.

At the time I thought if I mentioned a single word about what happened to me, everyone was going to fucking judge me. They’re not going to think of me the same way anymore. They’re either going to feel sorry or think I deserved it. I thought it was a minor problem but the more I analyzed it, I blamed myself for the trouble. He didn’t attack me. But he thrusted inside me. I didn’t give him consent. I didn’t want it. We broke up a week later and I watched him walk away. But I kept reflecting my history with him. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and told my best friends. They said what happened to me was sexual assault. It was rape and he wasn’t aware of that.

My first thought was literally: Mom and Dad will disown and kill me if they found out that their daughter was no longer “pure.” They would not defend me and would blame me for putting myself in that situation. I didn’t even think about myself, all I could think about was how others would perceive me. Can you even believe it … I thought about the wellbeing of my rapist. I thought about the devastation my sisters would feel if they knew what had happened to me.

Anyone who knows me well know that I don’t play pretend, but I had to cover up. I was losing my spirit and authenticity. I repeated to myself that life goes on and will be OK. I will continue to create and make my surroundings beautiful again. I vowed to protect those close to me so this won’t happen to them – so I can be there for them if the worst happened. I lost the desire to care for a relationship and focused on my health. I grew into a strong and resilient individual. I looked for ways to be inspired and dropped my leadership roles to buy time. I never sought professional treatment or use of drugs. I knew I was better and capable of patching myself back up with great support from close friends and family. As long as I was laughing daily, I was healing.

I started dating again about two years after the incident. When I told my new boyfriend about what happened, he wanted to file a police report. But I didn’t want to. This caused a lot of issues between us and we argued nonstop. Because I didn’t want to destroy my ex-boyfriend’s future. I didn’t want to ruin his career or his current relationship. Because we shared the same friends and were in the same circle. Because what I went through wasn’t intense as other cases. What will the police do anyway? Will it matter to anyone? Will they trust me? I didn’t want to add to or be a number in college rape statistics. I didn’t have evidence. I was heavily intoxicated and semi-conscious when it happened.

I struggled for a long time and felt so much guilt. I wrote a shit ton on Tumblr, unleashing my anger and giving small hints about this person. My grades dropped significantly and I couldn’t recall anything I studied. Absent-minded and slow, for the most part. I teared up a lot during class and hyperventilated in public spaces. I had issues with being touched, even the slightest bit. Sometimes I couldn’t be without friends or else I felt suicidal. I didn’t believe I was raped, but reality is, I was. I cared about my boyfriend at the time and went to see him that New Year’s Eve. My best friend fixed my hair and wished me luck. I wore black tights and a new holiday dress that my sister got me a few days before as a Christmas gift. I can’t wear it anymore because it’s a reminder of that night.

I was a true idiot for getting back together with my ex-boyfriend but am thankful that we are no longer together. I think if dicks were castrated, I would live in peace knowing that attackers won’t sexually assault anyone again. It’s strange, because when I saw my ex-boyfriend at Greek events (fraternity and sorority functions) or ran into him in person, I faced him with confidence and without a damn in the world. Can you believe he showed up uninvited to my 25th birthday celebration and going away party? What a dick, right.

To my brave sisters and brothers – the victims who suffered rape, sexual assault and violation – I love you and stand with you. You are beautiful and I’m so sorry that someone fucked it all up for you. I am grateful for the people who support you and understand that rape culture is unacceptable. It takes a great deal of courage for victims to publicly share their story. And it’s awfully heartbreaking when a victim dies because of a rapist. Stay strong my friend – you are everything.

I am sharing my story because I am ready. I know there is someone out there who can relate to me, and the number of victims are far more than reported. I also want to let you know that I’ve always had a strong passion for combatting sex trafficking and after this incident, I developed a passion for educating and preventing sexual violence. Don’t give up on life, don’t let your rapist define you. xo

I am not ashamed of what happened to me. But I was ashamed and kept to myself. For two solid years, I felt guilt, stupidity, sadness, anger and frustration. Through it all, I focused on progress. I have forgiven, I have moved on. I am resilient. I am stronger.

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January 1st, 2011

He’s Not Meant To Be

After a long awkward silence he proposed, “Maybe we’re better off as friends.”

Think of one person in your life – the perfect, oh-so-unexpectedly beautiful soul who connected with you on a deep and personal level. Someone who gets you and makes your day. You give it a shot and see where it goes, opening up your strengths and vulnerability. Maybe you just happen to be one of the lucky ones who end up in a healthy long-term relationship. Unfortunately, some of us experience heartbreak over and over again with one person or different people in different stages of our life.

Our future can be unveiled by the choices we make.There’s possibility in everything we do that draws lines to places. We knew that there was a 50/50 chance we would work out from the beginning. Meanwhile, emotions get the best of me while I’m trying to let the fact sink in that we are over. I never wanted to lose anyone important but I know when something isn’t right. He’s not going to call me by my special nickname anymore. In fact he’s not going to call me from this day forward. Which means we have to erase our ideas, travel and plans. We have to forget the inside jokes, similar interests and efforts. We have to move on.

My heart, once again, was racing and aching at the same time.

“Are you still there?” he asked as if the line had disconnected. “I sound like a jerk. I feel bad – just want to make sure you’re OK.”

I’m going to miss you. Only momentarily, until the depths fade on its own over time.

Because this felt wrong and I’ve been through tougher times.

A woman of few words, I said, “I’m not going to beg or ask you to stay with me. I don’t want to waste your time, especially mine.”

Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

I was one of those kids in school who got deeply offended when other kids made fun of someone for shopping at Payless, wearing braces or couldn’t play a sport. Basically, I’m one to call you out on your bullshit in a kind or aggressive tone.

I’m Asian American and never once did I feel ashamed or embarrassed of my ethnic food, culture and economic upbringing. Some of my friends shared a video on Facebook about Asian Americans experiencing a “lunch box moment.” I proceeded to watch more videos of Asian Americans who didn’t want to learn their native language (as an adult now they are full of regret) and how their looks made them insecure as they compared their features to white people (out of all race). I grasped individuality at an early age so I didn’t personally encounter these situations.

I certainly didn’t grow up in a predominately white population, but my first friends all the way up to first grade were non-Asians. In pre-school and kindergarten, I chose NOT to have Asian friends. Why? Because the Asian children surrounding me were not very kind and there was this particular girl who stole my art supplies during class activities. It wasn’t because they were Asian, it’s because they didn’t have the qualities I looked for in a friend. I spent weekends playing with my grandparents’ neighbors’ children who happened to be the kind of polite Asians I wanted to be around. Fast forward to today, I have many Asian and non-Asian friends.

Honestly, I proudly embraced my individuality before embracing my heritage, language and environment. My father taught me a lot about respect and mannerism. I didn’t ever feel the need to fit in with a certain group. I didn’t have to explain myself or please anyone. I didn’t want to stand out or be the center of attention. Friends from different backgrounds have personally told me that they appreciate my authenticity. It’s shocking but empowering to hear that by being myself, others saw that they can be themselves too. I know of too many people who tried to change just to be accepted.

My identity is important to me – and I mean, not just being Hmong and Asian American. It’s who I want to be and how I want to act. I’m strong, comfortable and confident but I can be many things. What gives me the greatest satisfaction is when I practice kindness, humbleness and acceptance.

Anyway, I’m the girl who loves fish sauce and papaya salad. I’m also that girl who loves a good burger and fries.

Don’t cause or dive into drama, ma or pa.

Watch my reaction to “lunch box moment” in the video above. SHE SAID YOYO Conversations is a series in which I get out of my comfort zone (trust me, I get pretty awk with myself) and address topics.

Stand up for yourself!🙂