2015 Year-In-Review

Much has happened since the start of the year, but here are a couple of things that stood out to me:

  • I had my first full time job and for lack of a better term, hated it. They said that your first job will most likely not be your last and I'm thankful that these words are more than true in regards to my circumstance. I found myself dreading the work that I produced as my boss's tyrannical nature began to affect my self-esteem and confidence
  • I found something I am naturally really good at aka taking photos and being in front of the camera. Instead of rejecting my calling, I started to follow my intuition, which eventually led me to the world of modeling
  • I lost a lot of friends and in turn, found my core group. No matter how hard you work or how much you care, sometimes there are people who are meant to be in your life. Other times, it's best to accept the very same notion that not every passerby are going to stay and that's absolutely okay.
  • I fell madly, deeply in love. If you ever get the chance to scan through my social media, you're going to find more than enough photos of me and my boyfriend. But here's the thing, folks. I feel absolutely #noshame in demonstrating the amount of love I have for him. Why? Because every single one of my genuine friends are going to be happy because their respective friend is finally at a really good place in her life right now. Shoutout to everyone who has given us nothin' but love. Anyone else who seems to be bothered by my [x] amount of posts are probably not worth my time #notsorry

There are a lot of things I've started to practice this year-

  • Saying "No" more often - and it feels freaking amazing! No guilt. No knots in my throat. Nothing.
  • Expressing compassion. Trying to look at another person's point of view to see where they're coming from. Why they may be in pain or why they may be acting a certain way. Everyone has a story, it's important to really listen to them.
  • Increasing a higher level of self awareness. I know when I'm happy, unhappy, excited, and disappointed. I am slowly starting to see who and what Khanh P. Duong is really about.
  • Closing in my circle. I still have friends who I would go great lengths for and then there are people who I will never really bother to talk to because our paths will most likely never collide again.
  • Letting go. Letting go of friendships that no longer inspire me. Relationships that no longer serves me. And people who no longer challenge me. As I go through one chapter after the next, I am beginning to feel more relaxed and optimistic about everyone who manages to stay with me throughout this long and enduring journey. My true Most Valuable Players.

Overall, I've had a rough year, but I've learned and grown so much. I'm also very thankful to each and every single experience because it has pushed me to cross boundaries and become a better, more diligent friend, co-worker, girlfriend, daughter, and sister.

Thanks for tuning in & wish you all a magical 2016! Fight On forever!

How I Conquered My Fear

"Do you think I like him? You know me better than anyone else in the world. You can answer this question." "You do," my best friend said to me. "You do, but you've always found reasons not to pursue anything more. Your biggest excuse to not pursue things is that you need to focus on yourself and your career, yet you're able to have late weeknights with him, date-adventures with him, and talk to him daily. He knows you on an intimate level, different than how other guys know you."

I stood there in silence as her words replayed over and over again.

She ended the conversation by asking me, "So what does that say?"

I smiled because whether I was aware of it or not, I like him. I definitely like him.


A lot of people never really understood why I stayed single for so long. Sometimes, when I'm out with my girlfriends on a Thursday night, I would get bombarded with questions such as, "How does a girl like you not have someone special in her life?" No matter how hard I would try to beat around the bush, it was almost impossible to escape everyone's burning question and curiosity about a personal life that didn't belong to them.  At the core of it, I knew that these men could not wrap their heads around the idea that someone like me can actually stand her ground and be completely satisfied with herself. Little did they know that the confident and energetic girl who has no trouble approaching them is the same girl who experienced a lot of pain and heartbreak.

At the time, I was extremely content so when these situations arise, it was almost easier to smile my way through conversations as I continued to explore my pool of temporary options. My mantra was simple. Like the guy enough to give him bits of your time, but not enough to give him your full-self. This meant that I never felt the urge to give any of these guys my loyalty, my trust, and my commitment. After all, if you're not bae, you don't get bae privileges.

While I was having a good time and enjoying myself, my career was the only thing that was running through my mind. At the time, I was spending money that I didn't have and my freelancing work was not enough to help me sustain myself financially. At one point, I had to turn down every dinner dates with friends because I could no longer pull money out of my savings account. The last and final thing I could even think about is finding myself a boyfriend.

So for 6 months straight, I began to hustle. Once I got into the momentum and flow of things, I started to hear back from companies and had at least 3 interviews scheduled every single week. During that time, I was consistently talking to one person every single day, but I never put much thought into it since my biggest fears has always been that I would somehow end up losing my sense of ambition and drive.

One night, while I was laying on my bed after a long day at work, I pulled out the book that I've been completely obsessed with and that was when everything hit me. I've been living in my own fears for way too long. Immediately, I felt a strange mental shift and the rest was history.

My former self always praised her independence and feared anything or anyone who might threaten it. I was wrong. I was so wrong. I've never been more independent in my entire life.

Nowadays, I get to eat the food that I want to eat, buy myself something nice every once in a while, and enjoy quality time with a very quality man. "You mean this entire time....this is what I have been so afraid of?"

One of the lessons I've learned is that I am by no means giving up my current path to be on an indefinite pause. I am still working hard and my career is still running on my mind (probably more now than ever). This time, however, everything is different. Now I have someone I can share my struggles and successes with. The good and the bad.

I'm extremely excited for us and for our journey. I am also proud of myself for going after something even if it means I'm holding on to dear life and hoping it won't leave me broken like the last.  Did I also mention how exhilarating it feels to conquer a fear and kicking it right in the booty? Try doing something that scares you and let me know how it goes ;-)  Until then, Fight On!

Love, Work and Health

Hi, everyone! I know it has been awhile, but I thought I'd give you some updates on my life and what I've been up to for the past couple of months or so. As you may guess it (from the title), I have a boyfriend now! Wow, I didn't see that coming if that's what you're thinking. I honestly wasn't expecting to step into a relationship until another 3+ years or so. The last time I had my GF shoes on, I was still young and insecure. I undoubtedly lacked the confidence to maintain and sustain a healthy relationship for one obvious reason---I had no idea who or what I am. It's tough enough trying to discover our identities at this age. Now try piling on 30 academic units, a long distance relationship, and Asian parent's expectations. Phew. I don't even know how I managed to do what I did, but after so many years of being by myself, I've finally mastered the art of kicking ass and loving myself unconditionally.

So once again, I've decided to take that giant leap of faith. As cliche as it may sound, I've never been happier. I'm happy in a sense that I've met someone who is extremely respectful and considerate of my time. At the same time, we're so similar to each other that I'm pretty much dating the guy-version of myself. Does that sound weird? Haha. Maybe, but I like it. If there's one person I can put up with for an extended amount of time it's me. (Insert laughing emoji) In this case, I'm just dating someone who is perhaps buffer and way more OCD than I am (I think, it's still debatable). Either way, I feel very fortunate. However great my life was before, now it's even better and more exciting.

Aside from that, work has been stressful. I try to leave everything in the office once I lock the doors up and leave. I also don't want to complain because while things could be better, it could also be worse. Health-wise, I've been losing weight. Six pounds if you want to be exact. My workout routine has been the same. I know I'm stronger but I couldn't help but notice how frail my frame is. I went from a size 4 to a size 00 in just a few months time. I'm still working on it, I swear.

My absence from this blog is a result from my running away from all of my problems. My time has been divided between my need to do the right thing (aka grown up stuff) and my desire to give zero fucks (aka nightswim in Las Vegas with Zedd). Jokes aside, we all know that if there's anything I love, it's writing.

Life (so far) hasn't been writing-worthy. In a nutshell, I had to cope with losing best friends, averaging about 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night, and dealing with the fact that I may or may not be feeling complacent. I'm still trying to figure it all out and once I do, I would be more than glad to share it with you. For now, I'll let you know that while I've been experiencing more downs than ups, I've welcomed something new into my life and that something new has been the biggest blessing.

If you're reading this, I hope you know that I appreciate you for wanting to even read about my life. After all, I've been gone for quite some time. I'll try to do better, I promise!

Until then, take care :*

Post-Beyond Wonderland

I'm back! And sick! (Again)  It has been a pretty eventful weekend for me. I celebrated my two year rave-aversary with some amazing people at a two day camping event at Beyond Wonderland. Of course, everything comes with a cost because my cough is back and I've used up half of my tissue box this morning alone.

After the guys dropped me off at home Sunday afternoon, my friend Lily asked me if I wanted to go to a small concert with her in Los Angeles and I told her that I would love to join her. Later that evening, I told my other friend I would not be home until eleven or so and he called me crazy for pushing myself too much. "Why would you not choose sleep?" he asked me. Truth is, I was beyond tired but quality time with my friend was important. She landed an amazing job and it's rare for me to spend time with her in general so I'm going to take whatever time I can get. Good friends are everything and while I'm still working on this whole life balance thing, I think it's important for me to prioritize the people I care about.

At 7:15, Lily arrived at my house and drove us to the city of Angels. I know I visit LA all the time and I've been living there for the past couple of years, but I miss it tremendously. I miss the city when I'm there, I miss the city when I'm not there. My new practical take on love and relationships is that if I'm fortunate enough to stumble upon that one person who makes me feel the way I feel about Los Angeles then I think I might just be at my happy place.

During our car ride, my friend updated me on her new job. I asked her what her short-term and long goals were. We exchanged some fun weekend stories and at one point, I asked her why she wasn't dating as of yet. She told me that she was open to the idea, but it has been extremely hard for her. I understood exactly where she was coming from. You think finding a person who you can get along with is hard? Try Hollywood.

"Are you scared?" I asked her.

"Yes."

"Of what? Of giving love, receiving love, or losing love?"

"Losing," she said.

It broke my heart when I heard her say that. I knew that deep down, a person as kind and compassionate as my friend is deserving of the world and an incredible man who can give all that to her. After hearing her thoughts on the subject, I reassured her that she will be okay. She might not be able to see it now because timing just hasn't been right, but I'm very confident that a good person will walk into her life in the future.

In the meantime, all of this discussion somehow swayed me to reflect on my very own personal life and current situation. I'm not going to lie. I have had plenty of opportunities to meet new people, to date, to have fun here and there, but I've been very coy about it this year. Romantic relationships are complicated and of course, I'm not really one to be completely in touch with my emotional side. Since I've turned the switch off for so long, I'm probably more desensitized than ever before.  I look at men very differently now. I have gained this new ability to see past their facade, the charm, the way in which they speak to me. It takes me no more than a couple of conversations before I could reevaluate their true nature. The gift of reading people is secretly a blessing and curse in disguise. Why? Because when you're able to see people for who they truly are, it can either scare you or excite you. Typically, for me, it's always the former. My wall starts to build up every time I watch a person walk in and out of my life, but I'm pretty used to it by now. Good-byes do get easier each time.

So following my amazing weekend, I was able to learn a couple of [new] things about myself.

  • I am no longer afraid to speak my mind
  • I am no longer afraid of going after what I want
  • I am still at a place where I cannot fully commit to any person other than myself
  • I am very much in control of my environment and who I want to keep in my life
  • I am no longer afraid of saying "No"
  • I honestly don't give a fuck (very often)

Being in a saturated environment such as a massive rave has really enabled me to open up my mind and heart. I never never dared to act irrationally and I'm proud of myself for not doing so. I'm no longer a college student so it's important for me to have my fun but also know when to hold my ground and stature.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week and take care of yourself so you won't be sick in bed like me!

The Things That Matter

It's almost midnight right now, but before I head to bed, I wanted to write down a couple of things that's currently running through my mind as I finish up my reading on seeking happiness and finding success. Plain and simple. The author briefly discussed the notion of success and how it can negatively impact our lives if we consistently try to believe that success boils down to one single moment, one single milestone. Not too long ago, I dated a guy who presumably had everything. At 23 years old, he has a two-story house, two cars, two beautiful little puppies, a steady job, and well...me. To me, he was the definition of success. To him, not so much. Every time we were together, he would talk about his new business venture and the amount of money he wanted to make in the near future. He even asked me if I was interested in being partners with him, but that was a red flag right there. Uh uh. No way. If it's one thing I learn, it's that I should never mix business with pleasure. Definitely not the best go-to combination. While his drive was extremely admirable and sexy, it was often times very difficult for me to be in the same room as him. For hours, this person would express how unhappy he was with the amount of money he's making. Again, this coming from the same guy who purchases only designer labels and high-end products. It was, at times, quite frustrating to see how torn he was between choosing prestige and money over delayed gratification.

At this point, it was only a matter of time before I discovered an absolute truth. This person has no room for me in his heart. Despite knowing this, I chose to treat him extremely well. I wanted him to see how purposeful life can be when he stops seeking for happiness in all the wrong places. To some degree, I liked him, of course, but better than that, day after day, I chose to be with him.  I knew, however, that what we had would never be enough. This is not to say that I'm not good enough. I held all the qualities he wanted in a partner, but we just never reach that level of compromise or commitment. For this very reason, I could never picture us having a future together. It just wasn't possible.

Normally, when a person recognizes this kind of truth about her man, she is likely to feel some sort of negative emotion. Not me. I wasn't angry at him, nor was I sad or disappointed. Instead, I feel for the poor guy. I cannot imagine living a life where I am consistently searching for happiness in monetary items. If you know me, you can clearly see why this person and I would never work out (not accounting other things as well). We were much too different and I wasn't planning to ever compromise my happiness in hopes that I could change a person's outlook entirely. I would love to be the person that makes someone a better man, but it's not my place to purposely try to change a person just because. After all, he grew up with this mentality and we know how that old saying goes, "Habits die hard."

Lesson I learned: choose to be with people who understands and values the importance of seeking happiness in life's small joys.

Good-Bye, Felipe

It's 12:15 AM on a Wednesday morning. I've had a very long and tiresome day. The only thing that would make it better is if I get to listen to some progressive house music, chat with some of my girl friends, read a couple of articles, and call it a day. Of course, life likes to throw random surprises at me and today, it just so happens to be a Facebook message sent from a guy I have not talked to or kept in touched with for six years or so. When I met this person way back when, I barely even talked to him then. We were at a conference and our conversation lasted no longer than two minutes. You know how I mentioned somewhere in my blog that I could hold a conversation with just about anyone? Okay, I lied. I'm an approachable person and this is not the first time I've received a random message from a person. While I would love to give him benefit of the doubt, under these circumstances, I couldn't help but to question his intent.

1) It is midnight. Why would you want to catch up with someone you haven't talked to in years this late at night?

2) You're asking me about my life, my educational pursuits, and etc. How are these things of any relevance to you?

3) My god. I have never clicked on your Facebook profile prior to today. But based on your mini profile picture display, it seems as though you're in a relationship with someone. Do you think she'll be okay with this?

There's nothing I respect more than people who are in committed relationships. I've been a girlfriend once before so I know how important it is to respect boundaries and non-negotiable conditions. However, it upsets me when people think it's excusable to conduct such behaviors behind their partners' back. In this particular case, the person continued on to ask me questions about my life, in which I politely answered and later ended the conversation quickly before I became a ruthless bitch. I'm not a person who supports disloyalty, dishonesty, and morally reprehensible behavior whatsoever, but things like this or when I catch a dude (I say dude because they're not men in my eyes) staring right at me while holding hands with their girls...I have this sudden urge to punch them where I know it hurts. Sadly, I hold it in every time.

Tonight, I don't want to go to sleep feeling agitated, so the best way for me to release some of these emotions is to simply write it down. So thank you for bearing with me here. But for those men out there who think it's okay to hit on other people when they are already in a relationship, I hope you know that you have picked the wrong girl to turn to. For me to dismiss any basic tenants of a relationship would mean that I have betrayed my ethical code---something I would never (and when I say never, I really mean never) do. My advice to you? Find another mean to rid your emotional dissatisfaction. I refuse to be your solution.

Bye, Felipe.

Wrong Race. Wrong Person.

I don't like to call it a date unless someone outwardly tells me, "Khanh, I would like to take you out on a date." Call me traditional, but that's the way I see it. My friends like to insist otherwise, but I do what I like and say how I like it. A hangout. Today, I was supposed to go on a hangout. I will probably leave the majority of the details about this person out of respect for him, but I'll tell you that he is a very sweet, kind-hearted, and presumably, good-looking guy. We exchanged a good amount of text messages back and forth prior to this and it wasn't until two days ago did we decided that maybe we should actually hang out in person. Keep in mind that I had no intention in furthering whatever this was.  I really just looked at it as something casual. Everything seemed to be going well for the rest of the day, but towards the evening time, I felt a little knot in my stomach. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but there was this little uncomfortable voice ringing in my head and that's when I knew that I should take a step back and reflect on my priorities before I decide whether or not I should move forward with this person.  I then spent all of yesterday coughing up a storm (as always), keeping myself busy, checking my emails, finishing up my readings, working out at the gym, and then calling it a night. This morning, however, I woke up with this strange feeling I just couldn't shake. I had this small epiphany and then I knew that it was my calling to do the right thing.

While I am a woman of my words, which means that when I set plans I will always follow through with them, I knew better than to give or take someone's time if my intentions were not completely clear. First off, nothing has been established between the two of us. Secondly, I already have a lot of things on my plate. Thirdly, there are other interpersonal relationships that I feel like has a potential for more growth and depth than the one I have with this person. So normally it is a part of my daily routine to wake up, meditate, and then blog. This time, I decided to channel my energy into creating a writing piece that would demonstrated how I actually felt. I thanked him for his authenticity and kindness. I told him that instead of distributing his love that he wants to give to some potentially great or not so great chick out there, that he should first give that love to a person who should also be a priority---himself. I said to him, "Yes, the world becomes more beautiful when you have someone special to experience it with (I say that because I was lucky enough to have that three years ago), but there’s also beauty to be found everywhere when you get to see through the lens of a person who you will be stuck with for the rest of your life." It was important for me to let him know that he is an incredible person and any girl would have been lucky to have gotten to know him. But at the end of it all, I had to be honest with myself without completely compromising my values and truth is, age difference and all other factors aside, we just weren't on the same page.

This short-lived experience has taught me so much about myself. I've learned that it's important to treat people the way you want to be treated, which means I'm not going to lead someone on and risk hurting them in the process. I wanted to know and receive that peace of mind that even though there's a possibility he might be hurt in the near future, that the person who's behind all of that pain is anyone but me. Here's a little fun fact about me. I feel too much and I feel too often. When someone experiences some sort of emotions, good or bad, a big part of  me also feels for them. While my end piece was a bit lengthy, I wanted to make sure that I addressed everything that was running through my mind and that it came from a very pure place. My heart. At the end of the day, I just hope that we don't lose another compassionate person (someone who actually values traditions, commitment, and chivalry) to a generation who always settles for pseudo relationships and instant gratification.

I don't expect a response from him. In fact, I hope he doesn't say anything to me at all. However, I wish him all the luck and happiness in the world. It's always so refreshing to know that nice guys are out there. Just gotta find a person who is running the same race as you are.

Happy 3 years to Me, Myself, and I

I cannot remember a time scarier, more exciting than now. Despite of my recent unexpected cold, I've been in the best and fittest shape of my life. My career is gaining momentum. My family and I are all getting along. I genuinely have the most caring and supportive friends. Surely, you can only imagine how I am feeling at the moment. The revelation is simple. I'm completely on Cloud 9. Despite of this, if you take a look closer at all the things and people I've just mentioned, there is still one evident thing that is missing  and that is a romantic relationship. Last year, I wrote a blog post about being single for two years. I'm going to link it down below in case you want to check it out. https://khanhpduong.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/happy-2-years-to-me-myself-and-i/

I clearly remembered how happy I was going into 2014 being single and that much hasn't changed. I'm still very much satisfied with my current status. However, more than ever, I've been receiving a lot of questions from strangers who just met me to relatives as to why I have yet to settle down. Therefore, I'm going to take this opportunity to give you (and them) a better, clearer explanation. If anything, writing it down will hopefully give me the clarity I need.

1) I have not found balance. Miyoko Ohno, a Japanese bridge designer, once said that there is nothing more beautiful than balance. Because my career is such a passion of mine, I find it rather difficult at times when creating the necessary space for my passion suddenly impacts the quality time that I do have with my loved ones as well as for myself. That elusive balance is essentially the end goal; however, it takes a conscious effort and work to eliminate noises, toxic people, non-essential things out of your life. Because my schedule is always flowing and ever-changing, sometimes it can be quite tedious for me to allot everything in a day, a week, and at times, a month.  Unlike active members of the hookup culture, I find it to be completely unproductive for me to expose myself into the dating scene and perhaps swiping left/right just for the sake of creating space fillers when I actually should be utilizing that time for more productive things. I've read a lot of online articles and research studies on this and most of them have pointed out that a lack of balance can later lead to other negative health effects such as stress and fatigue, which is exactly what I'm experiencing right now.

My friend Emily said it best. "Khanh, you have such a big heart, but it's not your job to compensate for the lack of love people experienced." She even later called me out for not staying true to my words. "What happened to scheduling a mini getaway at the end of January, hmm? It's almost the end of February now." 

She is completely right. While I've dedicated so much time trying to appease my parent's expectations as well as penciling people into my schedule whenever I can, I need to first make time for a person equally as important: myself. I don't think I've realized this until my conversation with her yesterday, but I've been completely derailed from the track I have set myself on, and of course, it has not only impacted my mental sanity but also my physical health.

2) I'm keeping my options open.  I have this unique quality has allowed me to expand my network of friends and that is my innate ability to connect with everyone I meet. Whether it's a stranger at the supermarket or even my college professors, I can strike and hold a conversation with just about anyone. For the most part, I find this gift to be rather fulfilling. I get to meet so many inspiring people and at the same time, be able to play a small and if I'm lucky, a big role in their lives. The only con that I can outwardly point out to you is that while finding chemistry with other people is rarely ever an issue, it also doesn't take me that long to see whether or not I can envision a future with someone (not just intimately but also professionally and socially).

Over the past couple of months, I've been meeting a lot of people who are very much different from one another. From their educational backgrounds to their pursuits, I would be completely lying to you if I didn't say that I haven't had my fair share of crushes. Presently, I could probably count those numbers on a couple of fingers or so. I'm a lustful person at heart, but at the root of it, there's no doubt in my mind that I would make an amazing girlfriend. I've been one before. However, I'm a better person today than I was three years ago and so Khanh 3.0 vs Khanh 1.0. Who do you think is going to take home the grand prize? In spite of everything, I cannot confidently say that I have found someone whose diligence, work ethic, intellect, and interest aligned with mine. Essentially, who I choose to surround myself with, especially in a romantic setting, has to be someone who can without a doubt handle a person who is obnoxiously driven and unapologetically free-spirited as me. And currently, things are still looking a bit hazy.

I, for sure, am not going to shy away when I tell you that I have a very specific taste when it comes to men. Physically speaking, most of them are fairly tall, built, and handsome. But whether these types of men are present or not, I have already created an inner barrier when it comes to love or anything that is close to it. It's not a matter of me being scared of getting hurt or committing myself to just one person, it's about discovering the perks that comes with being a successful and young millennial who has absolutely no desire in settling for anything less than what she deserves. So the only way I can go about doing this, without hurting anyone in the process, is if I continue to take my time in order to really see what/who's out there. Simultaneously, it's also about discovering myself and recognizing the things I want or don't want in a partner.

3) I just haven't found Mister Right  There has been plenty of Mr. Right Nows. The casual conversations, the daily text messages, the brief chase. I've experienced it all. Either that or I've seen my friends experience it themselves. There's this old saying that I firmly believe in which is, "When you know, you know." I've met enough people in my lifetime to know that some people are meant to stay while others are meant to stay, but only for a little while. This is also why I've never really been heartbroken or torn since my last relationship ended. I guess you can say that I'm in tuned with myself enough to recognize when chemistry is present or when it's not. When it's natural or when it's not. I would like to think that my prospective significant other is nothing short of a catalyst of joy, but there are still so many things that cross my mind whenever I encounter someone new. 1) Do I see this working long-term? 2) Will this person be able to satisfy my emotional, physical, and most importantly, intellectual craving and vice versa? 3) Will committing myself to this person enhance my life or deter me away from my goals and ambitions?

I take all areas of my life very seriously. I don't like playing games, I don't like leading people on, and I don't like wasting people's time. At the same time, I also refuse to construct a fairytale in my head and throw all my eggs completely in one basket, especially at such a critical turning point. At the core of any healthy and successful relationship (that is if you dismiss the romantic connection entirely) is friendship. So that's what I want to work on. Establishing grounded friendships first and see where life takes us later on. When it really comes down to it, I want a best friend before I want a lover. The only way I can find that person is if I completely stop looking and let things happen as they may. And I'm very satisfy with how things are. You'll see it in my smile.

---

One day, maybe everything as I know it will radically transform and without realizing it,  my very own Chuck Bass walks into my life. I'll be completely head over heels, gushing over him via Instagram posts and noteworthy tweets. (This is just the optimistic me speaking). The realist me will tell you that I'm in no rush. I've made a choice three years ago to commit in a love of self and this vow stays true to this very day. So happy 3 years, Khanh. I'm proud of you for everything you've accomplished, for being grounded in your values, and for maintaining your status, despite of everyone's pressing questions and societal pressure. Let's drink to that.

From Front Seat to Passenger

Two months into the new year and already, I've seen a lot of changes and transitions. This is true for my life as it is for those around me. One of my best guy friends packed his bags and moved to Boston. My girl friend chose to stay in Los Angeles and is now working there. Two of my closest friends are slowly stepping into the dating world for the first time ever. I can't even tell you how nice it is to be sitting in the passenger seat for a change. New seat, new perspective. I like it. I sat down earlier today to think about everything that has been happening in their lives and the first thing that came to my mind was, "It's about gosh darn time." My friends are incredible, extremely loving human being so I could not even imagine what it would be like when a suitable man is able to learn to appreciate them the way I appreciate them. I have a handful of friends who are in relationships, most of them are pretty committed and serious. Although I am happy that they are happy, sometimes I can't help but miss the good ole' days. I see them less. I talk to them less. In turn, I happen to also have a good amount of friends who are single and of course, when we're all together, we never ever fail to have a bad time. We have this mantra where it doesn't matter where we are, as long as we are right next to each other then we're going to bring the party to the party.

We've all had a good run, but slowly one by one, they are starting to look for something else. Something with potential and a future. Whether they know it or not, it's only a matter of time before they start to date and later, be in a relationship. I'm experiencing this right now with my best friends and it's so fun to watch. It has been a really long time and I love seeing the smiles on their faces when they all talk about their respective beaus. What's the best part about all of this? I'm not envious of them whatsoever. There's no ounce of fiber in my body that craves companionship or romance. Even the idea of it rarely ever crosses my mind. Normally, I would ask myself questions like, "Is there something wrong with me? "He's cute. Why don't you just go for it?" However, things are different this time around. I can tell you right now that I am perfectly content with where I am. I'm growing, learning, and experiencing things that are incredibly out of the ordinary so why am I going to trade all of that up? I won't and I wouldn't.

In summary, I love being in this particular box because for once, I get to throw in my insights and help them plan their Valentine's day weekend. For once, I get to be the one who screams in glee whenever my friend sits down to tell me about her recent date night. There's a sense of serendipity that is extremely difficult for me to explain or navigate, but it's nice to finally stop looking. Cheering on the side lines sure does give you a brand new perspective, but hey...I'm not one to complain ;)

So...Valentine's Day?

I know I didn't get the chance to say this before, in the midst of all the craziness that was January, but Happy February beautiful! I can't believe that the first month of 2015 is officially over and I can't begin to tell you how bitter-sweet of a month February is for me. Bitter because the month is so short. Sweet because one of my favorite holidays is coming up ;) You can probably guess which one. Yes, you're right. It's Valentine's Day. V-day has always been exciting for me. I remembered my Sophomore year in high school, I asked one of my close friends to be my Valentine for a day. I didn't have a crush on him or anything, but I thought it would be nice to just call him mine since we were both in Pre Calculus together.  It's funny because he just texted me earlier today asking if I had any plans for the the fourteenth coming up. Junior year, I stuffed my best friend Steven's lockers with a bunch of cutout hearts and confetti during lunch time. He said yes. (Not that I gave him much of a choice, heh) Senior year, my parents and I drove up to Norcal for a short family reunion trip. That weekend, my friend drove from Sacramento to take me out on my very first date ever. We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, watched Dear John, and later evening, he asked me to his senior prom. Couple of weeks later, we made if official and our anniversary actually landed on the day following Valentine's Day. You know, one of the pros of having a significant other in your life is that you never really have to worry about being alone on these kind of special holidays. But despite having plenty of fun-filled celebrations, one February 14th stood out to me in particular and it just so happens to take place in the year 2012.

It was a weekday and I was in my office at the startup tech company I was working at. Bored during lunch time, I began to scroll through my Facebook feed only to see a bunch of posts from my girl friends consisting of flowers and all the cute, cheesy surprises their respective boyfriends have given to them. But there I was, in my own little space, flowerless and boyfriend-less. Couple hours before, my BF and I somehow managed to get into a heated argument when we decided that perhaps we should call it quits...a day shy before our two year anniversary.

Out of all the Valentine's I've ever had, I remember that one being the loneliest....my life seriously felt like it was straight out of a bad Hallmark movie. I spent half of my break crying outside in a little corner so that I could maintain my professionalism. I even almost called my best friends David or Brian, but I knew that both of them were probably spending time with their girlfriends. It was tough. I couldn't imagine being alone, going through the day alone, and perhaps, losing my first love.

Turns out, I ended up undergoing everything I've just listed.

A year ago, I decided to do something different. I went out the night before to purchase 5 fake roses, bunch of arts and craft supplies then drove back to the apartment to make 5 homemade cards. I wrote a personal message to each of them that went something along the lines of, "I wanted to give you something that can never die. Like this rose, I hope our friendship lasts forever." Later that afternoon, I picked up a bouquet of assorted flowers and surprised my best friend with it when she visited that same day. It's hysterical that almost twenty something years later, I've learned that this holiday was not simply about the romantic love that I can provide for someone. In fact, it's really about celebrating all the love that is already present in my life. And trust me, I have so much to be grateful for.

So once again, Valentine's Day is creeping around the corner. I get a little bit giddy when I think about it because I want to see how the tables will turn out. I've had a couple of people here and there hinting about possibly spending that holiday with me, but I'll just have to wait and see. My close friend and I did in fact negotiated the deal that if we happen to be alone by 11:59 PM on the 13th, we'll just have a pal-entine together---ya know, where we're both going to dress up in something nice (me in my red dress/ him in his swagged out suit), reserve dinner at some fancy restaurant, and check out the hot waiter while we're there. Even if no one asks me to be their Valentine, I honestly wouldn't mind taking out a friend. Someone I know who will never take what we have for granted and it will be my formal way of reciprocating their unquestionable loyalty and friendship.

All of my friends laughed obnoxiously when I joke with them about my #foreveralone status (every so often) since they are all confident that I, of all people, always manage to have something up my sleeve. However, I'm so blinded when it comes to figuring out if someone has a crush on me or not. Maybe this will be a good holiday to solidify some of those theories. If not, better luck next time.

You know, it's always great to look back and see how far you've come. Just three years ago, I was crying over something I had no control over, something that no longer felt right to me. I feared the thought of being by myself and possibly, losing a best friend. However, those days are far behind me and I am more happy and confident now than I've ever been in my entire life. Being in love and losing it taught me so much about my self-worth and that I'm more than what the stigma that comes with being single upholds.

Here's to a fabulous February.

XOXO

Date a Bad Egg; You'll Learn Something New

There's this familiar saying that goes, "If a writer falls in love with you, you'll never die." It's true, especially for me. Date me and you'll never die. I'll think about you, reflect upon our interaction (whether it's significant or not), and you'll somehow wound up in my writing. And years from now, a random stranger will stumble upon my blog and he or she will also read about you and with that, you'll able to live on far beyond the expected years. Today, I will immortalize a man through my writing not because he deserves it, but because he has taught me a very big lesson in which I'm about to share with you. So let's begin.

I met Jason* towards the end of July, right before I was about to fly off to Asia for an entire month with my mother and brother. What started out as a no-strings-attached romance quickly escalated to something more. During my stay in Vietnam, we would exchange casual text messages here and there; however, the conversation would always start and end with something along the lines of "I miss you. Can't wait to see you soon." Although I was never the first person to initiate any sweet words (I tried to keep my emotions intact as much as possible), I still replied to every message in a timely and fashionable manner. Etiquette is important to me and it's important for me to display it to any person whose paths have inevitably crossed with mine.

Moving on, I didn't think too much about our 'relationship' since I was pretty well occupied in Saigon. In fact, I had the most incredible time while I was there, but immediately dismiss the idea of any romance whenever the opportunity arise. I was at the point in my life where it really just wasn't a priority for me. It still isn't. Anyway, once I got back to California, I received a text from Jason a day later. "Are you back, babe? I want to see you." You can say I was surprised. Why wouldn't I be? I thought we ended things right before I left, but I guess my prompt responses has led him to believe that perhaps there was a possibility for more. I hesitated for awhile before agreeing to see him. Flash forward a couple of weeks later, I looked back to realize that four out of the seven days were actually spent with him. Normally, I would say something along the lines of "Time flies when you're having fun." In this particular case, however, time flew by because I had nothing better to do.

The realm between actually dating versus casual dating began to merge and evidently, the lines were blurred. We didn't share the need for exclusivity or intimacy like I did with my previous relationship (my one and only) but everything we did was pretty much along the lines of two people who were actually dating each other. Taking measure of my emotions was one of the more paramount things that crossed my mind because at the end of the day, I knew better. I knew that we had was only temporary and I wasn't about to invest my whole being for someone I saw no future with. Even then, despite of my friends' encouragements and advice, I continued to see him.

On a good day, we would watch episodes of How I Met Your Mother, go to the bars with his guy friends, make random trips to the liquor store, and he'd also cook dinner for me. The lobster melt sandwich was always and forever will be my favorite. Our conversations were always shallow unless we somehow managed to talk about gun control and war violence then he would go on for hours in which a simple talk turns into a rather relatively engaging debate.  It didn't take me very long to learn that I had nothing in common with this person. We do not share similar financial backgrounds, educational pursuits, ethical codes, nor communication styles. We're as far as part as any two person could be. However, that didn't necessarily drove me away because again, I knew where we stood and at the point, I was content with not asking for more.

So for the longest time, I looked at him the way any tourist person would look at the Mona Lisa. Always from a slight distance. Enough to admire the intricacies of the brushstrokes but still far enough to unable to look at the renowned classic and understand what the fuss was all about. This is my fancy way of saying he was beautiful. 6"1, broad shoulders, strong bone structure. It didn't help that he was also justifiably modest and attentive to smaller details. However, he was also one dimensional, at times even passive aggressive, and probably one of the best liars I have ever met in my entire life.

It was always easy to say that intuitive answer would have been to let him go. To simply walk away from someone who was inwardly manipulative; however, it would be unproductive if I told you that I wasn't fond of him because in a strange way, I was. I was very much attracted to this person. I like to explain this unusual attraction through the works of Cutting, a professor at Cornell University. He discusses the psychological mechanism behind this logic as simply the "mere-exposure effect"--> unconscious familiarity bred affection. The more you see something, the higher the chance you'll end up liking what you see, even if it wasn't desirable to begin with. Similar to the Mona Lisa, I was drawn to his relative obscurity and how he fit so well in my desire to stray away from something unconventional; however, Jason is no renaissance art and certainly not worthy of being remembered for anything grand. What propelled my re-evaluation of him was not my friends' inherited opinions but through my very own reflection at all of the men who are already present in my life.

It's safe to say that I am an extremely spoiled by them. It's not that I'm continuously wined and dined (although that does happen here and there) but because these men have all blessed me with things money can never buy. Love, time, respect, and quality friendship. So after six months of on and off interactions, I decided to call it quits. This was the first time I have ever walked away with someone with no remorse. Since then, the thought of him rarely ever crosses my mind...except for now, but that's only because I' m writing about him. It'll be the first and most definitely the last.

Lesson of the day: sometimes great art and mediocrity are confused with one another, even by experts. This is why it's extremely crucial of us to see as much as possible, read as much as possible, and of course, experience as much as we can. After all, 'the more we're exposed to the good and the bad, the better we are at telling the difference. The eclecticists have it.' 

Don't Do It. Don't Settle

I am lucky. At a young age, I've learned that in order to stand out, one must never settle for the average. So as a scholar, I worked hard for a 4.0 and a perfect attendance. In fact, I was on the principal's honor roll from grade 1 all the way up to grade 8. I had perfect attendance for four straight years and occasionally, I would stay after the rest of the class was dismissed to talk to my teachers who knew very much about my personal life as they did about my academic one. I also remember spending countless of hours after school, talking to my friends about my dreams and my pursuits, never realizing that one day I would be able to cross so many of those items off of my bucket list and I'm twenty-two years old. But growing up in a Vietnamese household had its own ups and downs. My mother was pretty Americanized so she gave me the freedom to explore my passion. While she never quite understood it, she allowed me to express myself in every possible means. In high school, I was able to find my outlet for self expression through playing sports, participating in community service events, and taking up leadership roles. All of these extracurriculars would not have been possible if it wasn't for my mother's leniency. I was lucky.

Now that I am done with college and trying to figure out my next big girl move, it has been more difficult now than ever to answer questions from adults such as:  When are you going to get a boyfriend? How much money do you want to make? What do you want to do?

When I was a teenager, I was able to avoid these type of serious questions because I had no particular reason to find my answers. Now, however, it has become a concern for not just my relatives but also for my parents. I brought a guy friend home the other day (whom they absolutely love) and afterwards, at the dinner table, they began to ask me questions about him. "Are you guys dating?" "He seems great. Why don't you go for it?" "Shouldn't you be thinking about settling down already? You're not that young anymore, you know." Honestly, I didn't know how to break it down and for the hundredth and gazillionth time, I did not want to have to repeat myself and reexplain to them why I enjoy taking my time when it comes to love and relationships. Similar to  my career, I like to ensure that a legacy is built through time and careful consideration...not mindlessness and questionable decisions. I've mentioned this previously, every part of my life is an investment. So while I love to take new risks and build my own castle, I also like to stay true to myself because at the end of the day, I'm the person who's going to be stuck with me. If that's the case, I want to at least be happy with the person that I'm with.

I've seen people who settled for a profession that pays well, but leaves them feeling unfulfilled. I've seen people settled to be with a significant other who makes them feel anything but significant. I've seen people surround themselves with those who never values or respects their time or worth. Many times, I have asked them why they do what they do and most of them shared one commonality with their answers. 'It's easier to settle and many times, people like easy.' Truth is, I will never understand it. I've tried to wrap my mind around it, analyzing it, but nothing adds up.

I've spent many nights thinking and reflecting about my life. I think about the dreams that I had when I was little girl. That job. That man. That friend. That life. I then start to think about means, aka quantifiable goals, that will allow me to achieve such success. And then I think about the people who stayed and have shown me so much love. All of these reflections led me to one conclusion. I can and will never settle. It will be unfair for the eighty year old Khanh to have to look back and realize that she has wasted all those years pursuing mediocrity -yawns-

I want it all, guys. I want to one day be able to say that I get to wake up every morning and do what I love and love what I do. I want a career that pushes me to challenge myself every day and gives me room to inspire those around me. I want a network of friends who continuously supports me in my endeavor and teaches me about their insights on all things life. I want a love so grand that it makes any Nicholas Sparks novel look bad.

Lesson of the day is a short one. Complacency is boring.  And the minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.

Love - It's All A Business

Last spring, I read this awesome social experiment called, '40 Days of Dating,' which followed two friends' diary excerpts as they attempt to date for forty straight days. For those of you who would like to check it out, just feel free to click on this link right here: http://fortydaysofdating.com/ The experiment was rather fascinating for me because it was not limited to just romance. It was a form of self-expression, self-discovery, and self-awareness for the  couple. In one of their daily excerpts, the author made a comparison between Walt Disney and Steve Jobs, two extraordinary men who lived less than typical lives. He drew the comparison between the two not in regards to their innovative thought processes, but to their keen ability to recognize which ideas (or relationships) worth pursuing as well as to persevere through challenges and realize them. The parallels between business and romance is surreal. All of this reminded me of the time I tried to explain to my friends about my less-than-complicated love life and how similar it was to business transactions (in the most non-slutty way, of course). Here are a couple of questions that always pop into my mind:

1) Does the cost outweighs the benefit?

2) You're the salesperson. Your significant other is the customer. So what are the customer's needs vs. wants? 

3) Do I have the ability and time to create customer value and satisfaction?

4) How should we, as a couple, set up a performance appraisal process and reward/ compensation system? 

5) What are our common goals, assets, and liabilities? 

Ayn Rand explained this love vs. business concept and said that, "Love should be treated like a business deal." The important part is recognizing that each individual deals are unique and therefore, has its own terms and currency. When it comes to relationships or marriages, the currency is virtue and time. You love the person for their values, their virtues, and their character. Time is what you give to the person whose values, virtues, and character when they align with yours.

I've had girl friends who'd share with me their day-to-day issues with their respective significant others and the startling challenges that come with a relationship. Sometimes, if they are lucky, the two of them are able to work things out, communicate, and grow. Other times, I see my friends settling for less than what they know they deserve. While I know it sounds rather saddening, I have definitely been in both shoes before. So through my observation as well as personal experiences, I've learned that dissemination of either a romance or business has a lot to do with partners' inability to  communicate as well as their unwillingness to work together.

Thinking about these things scare me. Why's that? I don't want to have to look back at my previous investments and think, "Wow, that was a deep depressing valley. Glad I got myself out of it." Yes, life is about investing, making a couple of mistakes, and failing here and there. However, it's also about making smart choices, managing your time wisely, and etc. This explains why I like to treat every new encounter in my life as a potential business venture. Punctuality becomes critical, but so is attentiveness and effort. When our relationship work ethic rivals or is equivalent to our professional work ethic, that's when we know we're doing something right ;) Am I right?

 

Guy Friends vs. Girl Friends

According to my girl friends, a lot of guys are intimidated to approach and introduce themselves to me for several reasons. 1) I have a RBF -resting bitch face- 2) I'm surrounded by a lot of girls 3) I'm surrounded by a lot of guys. A couple of days ago, an old friend of mine walked up to me and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told him I was single and he looked rather surprised. "Wow. Really? But I see you posting so many photos with all these guys." What he said was true. I do have a lot of pictures taken with guys, but that's not the only the truth. I also have a lot of photos with the girls, with food, and of myself. It only seems like there's an abundance of photos with me and said 'X' number of guys but that's only because I, myself, am a guy's girl.

I love sports.  I play sports. I love being active. I love the outdoors. My guy friends and I share a lot of the same interests. On the other hand, I also enjoy everything girly. I love getting dolled up, having impromptu photoshoots, dancing on tables, and etc. I was in a sorority while I attended college and I also love surrounding myself with intelligent and beautiful women. There is this misconception that just because a girl has more guy friends than girls then she must have had 'drama' or bad high school experiences, but that's not a sound argument whatsoever. I've had plenty of on and off friendships; however, what I have now is more grounded than ever before. So let's get some things out of the way.

1) I am not dating or romantically-linked with every person I take a photo with.

2) I prefer to hang out with a diverse group of people. I do not favor one gender over the other.

3) Any person who feels insecure because of the people I hang out with is obviously not for me.

I never felt the need to address this issue, but I have learned that social media can be extremely misleading for others and for myself. Am I supposed to [hashtag]justfriends each time I post up something new on my accounts? Should I really have to go into details about my interpersonal relationships? Why do people even care?

I wanted to started off this year by being unapologetically myself and so this post is a start. I hope you're able to learn something new about me today.

1) I love my girls 2) I love my guys. And that's all there is to it. If you're a guy and you ever come across a person similar to me, at the very least, you would know that she'll be able to kick it with your friends just fine. And shouldn't that be a good thing?

The Lessons I've Learned From Younger Guys

There's this old inside joke that my girlfriends and I have, which may or may not involve me prying on a younger herd. For the most part, I tend to briefly laugh it off only to agree with them seconds later. But let me just throw something out there, I have never ever dated someone who was younger than me (My ex doesn't count because we were only a month apart). Am I attracted to younger guys? Most definitely. Older guys? Sure. Guys my age? Rarely. However, age disparity has never been a problem for me until now. It's not because I have a strange obsession with teenage boys because that is just plain sickening but because of several other factors which I am about to share with you today. Boy #1 Let's call him 'A'

It was the summer of my Sophomore year in college when my mom sent me to Hawaii for a whole month to work a summer restaurant job for my auntie. It was quite the experience for me because I had to work the cashier, take down people's food, wash the dishes, and at times, make the food. Yes, you'd never believe me if I told you that Khanh was actually in the kitchen but for a whole month, that was all that I ever did.

Since my aunt's small restaurant was located right by Pearl Harbor, there was a good amount of customers coming in. For the most part, they were mostly middle-aged marines and they usually come in during their lunch break.

And so I was barely a week in to training when I met A. He'd occasionally stop by to order a pho combination (Large) and he would always go alone. I never really talked to him until his third visit. I still remember that day very well. He sat at the back corner of the room by himself and since it was 3:30 PM or so, the place was completely empty. I, hating the fact that I had nothing to do, took the initiative and asked him how his day went. He told me he got out of school and that he was doing okay. We exchanged a couple of small talks here and there before he walked up to the cash register to pay for the bill. That was when I finally had a good look at his face. He had light hazel eyes, ruffled brown hair, and fair skin. A 'Hapa,' my favorite mix.

"If you don't mind me being rude but what's your ethnicity?" I asked.

"You're not from around here are you?" he replied.

"No, I"m from California."  (My favorite pickup line of the summer. Works every time)

"I'm half Mongolian and German."

-Oh, no wonder you're so drop dead gorgeous-

"That's awesome. Well, it's nice to meet you."

After our first conversation, I would see him a couple of times before I had to head back to Cali, but as always, our exchanges were always brief and casual. He was always very well-mannered and left a $5 tip for his $7 bowl. Because of his introverted demeanor, I was left feeling extremely curious so one day I asked my coworker if he knew the guy who always ate at the restaurant by himself and luckily for me, he did. "Oh, him? We go to the same high school. He dances."

'High school?!' That was my very first reaction. Oh, great. This has never happened to me before. You're telling me that out of all the beautiful specimen in Hawaii, the one that actually caught my attention happens to be a high school student? Wow. I'd never thought this day would come. Immediately, I began to psychologically erase his image from my head. Admittedly, I also felt a sense of guilt and embarrassment. Yes, he was only three years younger but can you imagine the amount of laughter I'd receive if I told my college friends that I am crushing on a high schooler? They would never let me get away with it.

Thankfully, I had amazing girlfriends who simply laughed it off when I told them about my summer. I even show them a picture of him and even they have to agree that he was quite the eye candy. Did I also mention that he was also very nice?

So how did this story end? Well, A and I are still good friends to this day. It was his birthday three days ago and it makes me so happy to see him grow and mature into the man that he is. We would still catch up every so often and last winter, he actually admitted that he was falling for me and that he is willing to work hard enough to become the person that would end up with someone like me. His confession was by far one of the sweetest most genuine I've ever received and I told him that he has more confidence than a majority of the older guys that I know.

What did I learn from A? I've learned that while mutual attraction is inevitable, in some cases, you can't bring two people who are walking separate roads  together. He's still in Hawaii and plans to stay there. I'm back in Cali and I have no intentions in moving. A long distance relationship would just be too difficult and we weren't cut for that. Correction, I'm no longer cut for that or any type of relationship for that matter.

Through him, I've learned how to look at things from outside of the box instead of in.

Boy #2 Let's call him 'Z'

It was just a nice casual day and I was coordinating one of the biggest events at the station. My supervisor asked me to sort out a bunch of gifts when a guy walked by my table and said to me, "Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself. My name is ---"

"Shhhh" I placed my finger over his mouth before he could finish his sentence. "18, 19, 20."

He stared at me strangely and that was when I finally turned to see who interrupted my thought process. There he was. Indisputably one of the most handsome guys I've ever met with eyes that would make any girl swoon for days. What is up with me and meeting these mixes? I know. I'd hate me too.

"Hi, I'm Khanh. It's nice to meet you."

The rest of the afternoon went really well. He and I shared stories about our past relationships, journalism aspirations, and etc. Like A, meeting Z was completely uncalled for, but aren't those the best stories to tell?

So how did this story end? We talked for awhile, but eventually, I told him the same thing I told A. Call me in four years. Although it may seem like I was kidding at the time, I wouldn't say something I didn't mean. Four years is a good amount of time for someone to grow, but that wasn't the main problem. Z was barely starting another chapter of his academic life, while I just ended mine. It couldn't have progressed any further and I was absolutely okay with that. I gained a friend and it didn't hurt that he was absolutely wonderful to look at.

What did I learn from Z? I've never been one to analyze my mild attraction to those younger than me but then I realize that it had little to do with age itself. Z was charming, mature, and he even laughed at my jokes even when everyone else knows that it wasn't even funny to begin with. Overall, he had all the right qualities, but we both weren't looking for something at the time, so of course, the fire eventually wore off.

Boy #3 Let's call him 'P' P because out of all three, what we had was the most passionate.

There I was in the middle of a mosh pit when I pulled out my phone and was about to text the guy I had been dating (who pretty much fucked everything up because he was being a slore *Urban dictionary* the word). My little bro saw what I was doing and immediately, he pulled my phone away.

"You're not going to text him," he said. "I won't let you."

That was probably the best thing my little did for me that day because moments later, I turned around and saw P. Our eyes met. I'm telling you, there's just something so powerful about a good strong eye contact. A couple of minutes later, he walked over to me only to introduce himself to my friends.

'Oh, wait that's not awkward at all,' I thought to myself. After a minute or so, he was right behind me and then I felt a light tap on my shoulder. "I'm sorry. I don't think I introduced myself to you yet." I smiled because I knew it all along and that it was part of his original plan. Friends first, me last. Got it.

"No, you haven't and I was wondering why not," I said.

He smiled at me and then I smiled back.

The rest of the evening was absolutely incredible. He had his muscled arms wrapped around my entire body and we dance. We danced until the headliner was gone and we danced until everyone walked back to their respective cars. And let me tell you, nothing beats walking out of a venue with the cutest guy in the room.

So how did this story end? It didn't. At least not yet. We still talk here and there and I even saw him about a month and a half ago. Still handsome as ever, still built as ever.

What did I learn from P? First off, he was only a year younger than me so the difference wasn't even that big of a deal in the first place. Though I had to mention that he did lie about his age when I told him mine. We had fun and it was everything I thought it was going to be. Passionate, crazy, but like most of my encounters, it was also very short-lived. It didn't take long for me to realize that I have bigger callings in life and that he wouldn't be able to give me any of that. We were two separate people, living completely different lives and dreams...who just so happens to meet at the right time, right place. That's all that it is.

Thank you for reading my stories :) I know it's a bit longer than my average posts, but this is something I don't mind sharing with you because it has taught me so much about myself and the type of man that I want in my life. I don't discriminate when it comes to age, religious beliefs, or ethnicities. My heart is still open to the rare breed who is capable of getting to know such a woman. But more than ever, I have learned that it's perfectly okay to be picky (not because I think that I am better than the other person) but because it's my way of holding my grounds. And if you're going to ask for my preference now, I would more than likely choose the older man.

There's something so much more alluring about a person who has seen and lived more of life than I have ;) But more on that next time.

For now, please take care and stay warm my friends.

What's My Relationship Status?

"I saw a couple walking together, arms around each other, and for a split second, I thought to myself....I want what they have." "It's a sign," said my best friend Alanna.

"No signs."

"Are we sure about that?"

"Yes."

"Okay."

A report released by Bowling Green State University's National Center for Marriage and Family Research found that the marriage rate has been steadily declining in the last century. The average age for a woman to get married is at 27 years old, the highest point in over a century. While the rates for marriage couples are declining, the rates for cohabitation are rising. Okay, I know datas aren't the most amusing things on this planet, but it can definitely gives us some perspectives on the operation behind this millennial age. In summary, being single is actually the new norm.

In spite of this progression, I still find myself completely losing track of the number of times I've sat at a family dinner table and having to deal with my relatives bombarding me with questions such as, "When are you going to get a boyfriend?" "Why are you still single?" Even some of my friends are convinced that I would make the ultimate 'cat lady.' As if being a cat lady is that bad in the first place. If I wanted to live in my fancy shmancy studio apartment with a whole bunch of fluffy white cats then so be it. It's my life. It's my choice. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I am sick and tired of having to explain myself and justify my current relationship status. How is it anybody's business that I have chosen to live out my early twenties as a single, independent, free-spirited women? When you see two couples who are together, people often respond with, "Omg you guys are so cute!" "I wish I'm that lucky!" "You two are just perfect!" Yes, great for them. I have plenty of friends who are in committed relationships right now and I commend them for that. They are cute. They're very lucky. And they may or may not be perfect for each other. As a committed girlfriend once-upon-a-time ago, I have experienced the pains and struggles of being someone else's other half. And that's the problem. I should haven't been someone's other half. I should have gone through life being my whole and complete self. But whatever, lesson learned.  I guess it's just nice for me to fully admit that I have reached that stage in my life where I enjoy the casualness that comes with dating. No title. No silly Facebook status. No stress. No fights. I get to go through each day without constantly thinking, missing, loving, and wanting someone and it feels absolutely amazing.

I went holiday shopping with a girl friend yesterday and she asked me, "It has been six months now and he hasn't asked you to be his girlfriend yet?" Although I could understand her concern, I found it to be incredible hard to explain to her why we haven't made it official. Even now, I still don't have an answer for her. All I could say was, "I like what we have now, so why change it?"

And so for the longest time, I found myself feeling a great amount of guilty for wanting to get to know someone even though his friend had a mild crush on me or talking to two people who I found to be equally fascinating at the same time. That whole old-school mentality pushed me to focus on one person and one person only and that anything else would mean that I am being a bad person or a 'player' of some sort. Okay, yes...being a one-man woman is great, but dating in this generation is a whole other ballgame. It's as much about exploration as it is about commitment. It is as much about stability as it is about spontaneity. Overall, it requires a great level of risk and consumption of time, energy, and money. We're all aware of this and this why it is important to make smart choices when it comes to the men and women we want to spend time with. For starters, I like rational, self-aware, uninhibited men. That's why I tend to avoid the overly sassy, self depreciating clinger. We've only gone out on one dinner date. You should not be telling me that you want to introduce me to your mom, dad, brother, sister, and cousin. While I love being around other people's families, these type of steps is still a big deal to me, which explains why I've never introduced any of the guys I've dated to my friends. My romantic life and personal life stays separate until otherwise. I like looking back, looking forward, and looking at the current situation and feel at ease knowing that I have taken things slow. Though my parents and relatives will never understand it, in time, they will realize that I've gone about it it the right way.

I know very well that you can probably sense a little bit of my frustration as you are reading this because quite frankly, I am pretty frustrated. I have officially ran out of reasons to give to people whenever they ask me about my status so I'm going to answer it through this post and settle any curiosity that you or others may have. I am happy. I am not someone else's girl or girlfriend. I do have really amazing people in my life. If you want to know who they are, all you have to do is stalk me a little harder. I don't keep the people I care about a secret. And trust me, when the day comes when my attitude about all of this changes, you will know. Your friends will know. And maybe your cousins as well. But for the time being, let's just enjoy riding the waves together.

3 Words. 8 Letters. Why I'd Never Say It

I remember the first time I said, "I love you." The word 'love', in this particular context, was a romantic kind---an unconditional, uncontrollable kind. I said it when I was seventeen years old to my boyfriend at the time. I said it because I thought it was real. I said it before I even knew what it meant. A good friend of mine asked me the other day, "How do you know you didn't mean it? I asked you this because you seemed to really like him." It's true. I did like him, but we had only dated for three months. Yes, we've been good friends for a whole year; however, it still didn't feel right. I know people always say that these things vary by circumstance, but knowing me at the time, I was too young, too naive. I was incapable of understanding the significance of such a term. Lack of experience, I like to call it. So why did I even say it in the first place? The answer to that is this: at the time, it felt right. It felt effortless. If anything, it kind of just slipped. Looking back, I can say with great confidence that I had no idea what I was talking about. That's not to say that I didn't take what we had seriously because I did. Everything that we experienced consumed me in such a way that every memory of us brought back some sort of emotion, tears, etc. But it has been a long time, my friend.

Initially, I spent a couple of months missing what I had lost. But a great amount of time and reflection has allowed me to realize how much I've gained from that experience. If anything, I learned that in life, one of the best things to do is to simply Frozen it and "let it go." Let go of what brings more tears than happiness. Let go of someone who no longer challenges you. Let go of something that no longer serves you. Let go when that piece of puzzle no longer feels right. I'll tell you this. All of these revelations has also allowed me to devote more of my time to one of my favorite types of love: self-love.

I've been working out endlessly. Seeing the results on my body is just a fine testament of hard work and consistency. I've been going out with my girl and guy friends every weekend. I've danced on tables, traveled, fallen in lust, and soaked in all of the beauty that comes with being completely committed to myself. I am everything I've always wanted to be and every day takes me one step closer to the person I know I'm capable of being. This is what enjoying my twenties is all about. Meeting new people, getting to know them, and seeing what I like and what I don't. Luckily, it doesn't take me long to figure out who I want to keep in my crazy world. It's the people who are unapologetically themselves. It is the people who brings out the best in me, even when I don't feel up to par.

Having said, I have had someone in my life and my best friend just brought it up to my attention that this person is a few weeks shy away from the half year mark. Wow, time really does fly, doesn't it? But up until this point, everything has been pretty relaxing. No expectations, no stress, no pressure. It is probably one of the more carefree aspects of my life. That is until this past week when he dropped the L bomb on me. I remember hearing it in person that evening, but completely dismissed the idea until I read those words out loud later that night. "Thanks for visiting me, baby. I love you <3"

I completely freaked out. "What am I supposed to do now?" I thought to myself. The old me would have immediately replied back out of courtesy with an "I love you too." However, I'm not bound to have history repeat itself; especially when I know better. In the words of Steven Denn, "You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake. It's a choice." What we have at the moment is good, but it's platonic. No more, no less. So that night, I decided to do what I felt was the right thing to do and wished him a good night. He's a smart man. I knew right away that the simplicity of my message spoke for itself.

As I continue to embark on my journey of self-love, I've learned that I am incapable of letting anyone else in until I am happy with all of me. The good and the ugly. While it does upset me to know that I've probably hurt someone else's feelings, I do believe that honesty is the best option here. And it's no secret. I'm selfish. There are still places I want to see, things I want do, people I want to meet. I want to hear people's stories. I want to grow with them. The list goes on. And when the time comes (most likely in a couple of years), I'll say those three words to the man who brings out that very best possible version of myself. Until then, 'like' will have to suffice.

This Changed My Life

I am a changed woman. Before I can continue, I'm going to warn you beforehand that this post is going to be quite different from the previous ones. It is pretty spiritual. If this type of conversations is not something that catches your interest then I'd highly recommend it that you stop reading now. If not, then let's embark on this journey of growth and self-realization together.

The past couple of days has remained consistent for me. I wake up every morning around 8:30 AM to do one of two things: read or write. Most of the time, it's both. Today, I decided to start on the first chapter of Inner Wisdom Loving Steps to Spiritual Awareness called Spiritual Awakening. The core of the chapter focuses on this idea in which all humans have a spiritual alarm clock or in other words known as synchronicity.

Definition: an interconnection with the Universe with an underlying web of linkages that brings people and events together in a way not based in a traditional comprehension of causality.

Another way to look at it (according to me): There is a reason why things happen the way that they do. The Universe has a unique and subtle way of giving us cues that are often noticed but ignored.

Basically, the first chapter dives into the idea of "chance coincidences" in which current events happen as a way of telling our pscyhe that what we're doing may or may not align with the Universe. An interesting thing to note is that the more aware we are of these changes that are happening around us as well as the subtle synchronicities, the more likely things will occur in our favor. Wow. Summarizing the conception of synchronicities just now completely blew my mind and I'll tell you why.

As humans we have something called an autonomic nervous system (thank you AP Psychology) that serves as the mechanism for a physiological reaction known as fight-or-flight. I'm sure you've heard of this before, but I'll try to paint a more visual picture for you and hopefully, you'll be able to see the interconnectedness between the two ideologies later on. Oh my goodness. The inner geek in me is crying tears of joy right now because I love it when I get to tie science and the psyche together. Okay, back to the discussion.

Originally, this reaction is designed to help keep us survive during a time when our world was dominated by species much stronger than us. In the modern area, this same concept is applicable for both internal and external circumstances (ie. stress, walking in a dark alley, talking to a stranger, workforce etc.) Whether we are aware of it or not, once the response is activated, it is our physical body that reacts first and if not, immediately. The signs include eye dilation, increase in awareness, perception of pain diminishes, sharpen of the senses, and etc. It is very much a physical response as it is a psychological one. However, what's frustrating about growing up in this millennial generation is that even when our flight or fight response is activated, we catch ourselves refusing to run or fight. We find ourselves vulnerable, bitter, powerless. A very relevant example would be those who are still stuck in domestic abusive relationships or marriages. A less severe scenario: we had to sit and work at a mundane office job with co-workers we dislike. I guess the most saddening realization is that while our bodies naturally activate these responses, in today's world, we can neither flee nor resolve things face on. Instead, many of us make a very conscious decision to stay right where we are.

I'm guilty of this. Extremely guilty of this. It took this incredible and uplifting morning read for me to realize that my personal growth and development has been stationary for the longest time due to the fact that I've completely ignored my intuition and callings. While the cues are often times soft, a lot of them were also transparent. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been inspired to take action (ie. by an article I've read or a conversation I've had) yet I've still chosen to ignore these incidences. Time after time after time.

I'll tell you about a more recent occurrence in which it happened to me.

In a busy and semi-litted room, he and I somehow managed to squeeze through the crazy crowd and found a perfect space for the two of us. I looked around to see that everyone was taken aback, completely consumed by a moment of trance. As for me, I was calm and happy. Two very simple words but very fitting for the environment I was in. Calm and happy. I couldn't believe it was happening. We found each other and it felt right. And then when I least expected it, he picked me up in the air and spun me around (like those scenes you see in movies). Eyes never once unlocked from mine. It was magical. Breathtaking, really. One of those rare moments designed for the pause button if life ever decided to give us one. Once my feet were back on the ground, I looked up to see a familiar stature hovering over me. My heart kept racing like a madman and I knew that while I could have been with any other beautiful person in the room, right next to him was where I wanted to be.

A new song came on. We danced, bobbed our head to the beat of the music, and then I started to sing along.

Am I wrong For thinking that we could be something for real? Now am I wrong For trying to reach the things that I can't see? That's just how I feel Trying to reach the things that I can't see

Then that moment happened. That moment of synchronicity.

Though I've heard of this song a thousand times before, this time it was different. Suddenly, I felt a stream of emotions. Guilt. Unnatural. Discomfort. Deja vu. I would say that it was a collective consciousness in which every sign told me that I have chosen the wrong person. Who I was looking at and who I thought I saw felt unreal, but not necessarily in a good way. 'This is not the right person. This is definitely not it.' After reading more on synchronism, I've realized that such moments like these cannot be disregarded. If I am where I am supposed to be, when that song came on, I should have continued to dance and enjoy my moment of bliss. Instead, the lyrics struck me harder and something felt off. The flow and energy did not align and in that very second, my body had activated the fight or flight response.

I wanted to leave.

In short (because I can go on for hours about this topic), I've learned that our bodies (brains and hearts included) act as intuitive receptors; therefore, the more conscious we are of our bodies and our environments, the more likely we'll be able to prevent ourselves from immersing in uncomfortable predicaments or realities. Awareness is a skill that comes with perils, but if executed correctly, our interpersonal relationships as well as other areas of our lives can thrive beautifully...more organically.

Lesson of the day: There's no such thing as pure coincidence only synchronistic events. So if the next time a song comes on the radio and you feel like it's telling you to take action (and I'm not talking about wiggling your butt), it is the Universe's way of guiding you to where you need to be

I'll conclude this post with a quote by Osho, Philosophia Ultima:

"The musician is very close to mysticism, far closer than the philosopher...because music is meaningful without any words; it is meaningful simply because it rings some bells in your heart..creates a synchronicity between you and itself, when your heart starts resonating in the same way, when you start pulsating in the same way.

Almost is Never Enough

Ariana Grande said it perfectly,"And we almost, we almost knew what love was, but almost is never enough."You can listen to her song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b87dBaL4qI0

I had an amazing weekend. Great company, great music, great memories--most of which I can still recall, which is an awesome feat for me. Then I spent all of yesterday in bed, drinking green tea, and giving my body the rest it rightfully deserves only to wake up and realize that it is Monday. Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against Mondays, but today just happens to be an exception.

Any rave goer will tell you that what they are experiencing is simply [Blank insert name of the event here] withdrawals; however, this wasn't my first rave nor was it my second. Going through withdrawals shouldn't be this bad, but I'm a little bit more skeptical and concern this time around. Why? There are a lot of things I need to figure out. I'm not scared at all...I'm just giving myself some time to think things through before making my final decision. These next few months are extremely critical for me and I just don't have the time or energy to screw it up.

Moving on, this morning I woke up, drank some water, checked my text messages/emails, and then I logged onto Facebook (pretty much the usual). Of course, the first post I saw happened to be a bunch of pictures of him and his gal in the Bay Area---a trip that he and I were supposed to take together. Now I know it's unhealthy for me to think about the 'What if I did this' or 'What if I did that' but I couldn't help it. The album was filled with gorgeous photographs with the man that I chose to walk away from because I was fresh out of USC and completely new with the whole dating scene. Aka noob. Luckily, I'm a fast learner and quite adaptive I must add so it didn't take me too long to be more acquainted with post-grad life but when the right time came around, it was already too late. He moved on. I mean, we were never really anything official to begin with, but there was potential. It was the first time in a long time that I saw someone of whom I could see myself investing time in. Indisputably good-looking, driven, and forward. We didn't have to play any games or beat around the bushes and that's exactly how I like it. A good friend of mine tried to cheer me up and told me not to focus on what I don't have and more on what I do have. She said I was so blessed and loved and that things will naturally fall into place.

I believe her. I always believe her. From the outside looking in, my friend is absolutely right. Somehow, someway, things do work out on it's own. However, when you're on the inside looking out, it's hard to keep up that positivism 100% of the time. It's not to say that I've completely lost hope but it's never easy when it comes to walking always from something that felt right. I guess that's how it works though. Sometimes life gives you lemons, other times it gives you oranges. It doesn't really matter what fruit we're talking about because at the end of the day, I only care about the one that passes the test of time. Goodness, how come no one ever told me how difficult it would be to navigate through my early twenties. I know the old folks always tell us to enjoy our youth and take advantage of our prime years, but this transition is kind of strange for me. Overwhelmingly strange, but I do try my best to enjoy it as much as possible. Key word: try.

I mean I have kept my body in tip top shape. I go out with the girl friends. I spend time with my family. I pretty much have done everything except giving myself time to relax and reflect. I haven't been able to breathe at all because all I've been really doing this past month is drinking, dancing, gyming, and repeat. October was fantastic, but it flew by because I wasn't focused at all. I was extremely distracted by irrelevant things and by things, I'm talking about people. The Khanh that I know and love is more than that. She's ambitious, a goal-getter, and she's fearless. Today, not only am I suffering from Escape withdrawals but I am also missing the girl that I used to be so proud and fond of. I desperately want to find her again and so that's what this next month is all about. November = Me focusing on me as well as ridding all distractions and any toxic interpersonal relationships. Never again will I settle for 'What could have been' or 'It almost did but it didn't' because let me tell you something guys, almost is always never enough. Okay, time to retrieve to my hermit cave. Have a wonderful Monday everyone!

Man vs. Boy. Why Knowing the Difference Makes all the Difference

I've learned more recently that the difference between being twenty years old and being twenty one years old isn't actually correlated to the fact that now I am able to legally drink and gamble in the United States. No. The same thing can be said as I transition over from my "yolo" year to being twenty two years of age. The only thing that has changed noticeably throughout the years, my physical attributes aside, are my perspectives in life as well as the people in it. In high school and all the way up to my junior year of college, I've always been drawn to the guys I can't have. Not because they were already in a relationship (because that is just not my cup of tea) but because they were young and aloof. So it wasn't a surprise when I find myself being bro-zoned yet repeatedly, which at the time felt like a pretty big slap in the face and ego. But somewhere in between preparing for graduation and surrounding myself with much older successful peers, something changed.

I began to feel more confident with my physical appearance. I was independent, passionate and it became quite obvious to all my friends that sometimes I get a little carried away when it comes to penciling things onto my GoogleCal. While I was able to mature internally, I also became tired of wearing a big fat oversized sweater and sweats every time I go out because of my fear of objectification. And so along with my new internal confidence, I also learned that it's perfectly fine to embrace my sexuality and sensuality so long as I walk with grace and class.

Physically speaking, I was on my A-game when it came to my eating habits and exercise routine. I'll say this right now and that is I'm in the best shape of my life!!!! I had to add in several exclamation marks since it has been two and a half years since I started my fitness journey and let's just say I've come a long way since walking those double X miles at Jordan Intermediate. I feel extremely empowered not only because I can finally rock a bikini the way that I want to but because I've been surrounding myself with very empowering women. And so in the midst of adjusting to all these new internal and external changes, I find that my taste in guys have also changed. And believe me, the comparison between what I thought I knew about the opposite sex versus what I know now is so great that I should give myself a nice pat in the back right about now. It all goes back to this summer.

Four months ago, I met him. Him...the guy who made me feel a little bit more optimistic and hopeful about commitment and relationships. Him...who reminded me that a woman should feel incredibly uplifting and 100 percent herself because he respects her for the person that she is. Him...who encompasses a shared set of values and is unafraid of taking big risks because he knows that something great will come out of it. All of this reflection has made me realize why I've been so unsuccessful in my dating life and that's due to an undebatable fact that I've been meeting boys not men. Now it has nothing to do with their age, rather a hell lot to do with their life experiences, maturity, and emotional stability.

Although that person no longer plays a prominent role in my life (long story short: Different stages. He was ready to settle down ie. marriage and I wanted to build my career), I am still very appreciative of our friendship because I've learned a whole lot from him and one of things include how to spot the differences between dating a boy versus a man. I was able to gather some of my insights and compiled it down to the pointers below.

A boy - Says he'll do something, but finds every excuse in the book not to do it A man - Follows through with his words. Credibility is important to him

A boy - Wants to initiate a date or conversation, but is afraid to make the first move A man - Not afraid to go after what he wants

A boy - Plays the game A man - Knows the game, played the game but walks away from it entirely

A boy - Tells you what he thinks you want to hear to get into your pants A man - Takes his time and puts in effort to get to know you better

A boy - Values quantity over quality A man - Values a quality woman over meaningless encounters

A boy - Makes you an option A man - Makes you the priority

Looking back, the distinctions between the two is so clear and drastic. It even seems ridiculous and almost hysterical on my end. You see, a couple of months ago, I would have been okay with settling for dating a fun, good-looking, and charming fellah. And I did it. I dated one and he was great because he was exactly the kind of person that a busy girl like me needed at the time. I knew going into it that there was no future for us so I enjoyed every single moment when we were together, but that's as far as it went (which is not really that far). Nowadays, I see dating in a whole new light. Objectivity aside, I am only willing to invest my time and effort in someone I see potential with and that person is a man not a boy. We're going to have uncomfortable conversations, but at the very least, I'll know that it's raw and honest. Open communication and a maintaining a high level of consistency is important to me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not looking for my soulmate or the father to my child because I'm fairly certain that I won't find him anytime soon. However, if I'm going to date, it will be with a person who knows that I am deserving of nothing less than a gentleman. So for all my ladies out there, I hope you don't feel as if you're being too picky in this millennial age where hooking up and hanging out are the norms. No. This is my way of telling you that you are worth so much more than that and given the right time, place, and person, you'll find a person who appreciates and adores all of you. Not just the parts that he likes. Again, we're all in this together and I'm just extremely excited to explore the rest of my early twenties, enjoying every moment that it has to offer, and I bet you..when you and I least expect it, the right person will walk into our lives and make us realize why it never worked out with anyone else ;)