He Came; He Left

Not too long ago, I met a really awesome person who literally had me at, "Hello."  I remember our first meeting like it was just yesterday. It was around 11:30 at night. I was standing in the back by myself with a dozen of unfamiliar faces around me, waiting for a person who I knew would not show up. Before I could grasp the fact that I was completely alone with zero phone service, a stranger walked by and of all places, he chose to stand right next to me. Shoulder to shoulder. Typically, when this happens, I would have had no problem introducing myself. I was exhausted out of my mind so instead, I stood as still as a tree. Two minutes later, the person turned towards my direction and introduced himself to me. "Hello, I'm _."

As soon as I saw his face, I couldn't help but notice how great his smile was. Man, these type of unplanned encounters always make me feel like I'm one of those main protagonists in a rom-com movie; characters I've seen one too many times. Despite recognizing their predictable plot lines and potential endings, I've always rooted for them. I wanted them to find the person that they have unconsciously been looking for. I wanted to follow their triumphs and and setbacks only to find out that they'll eventually have their very own happily ever after. It's quite ironic that I'm saying all of this since I am never that optimistic or hopeful when it comes to my own life but that's only because I've met enough people to know that many of them will come and go, but only a select few would stay. As a young teenager, I would spend hours and hours thinking about all the best friends I've lost; however, I'm not that fifteen year old Khanh anymore. I'm much more selective with the company keep and I now have great confidence to say the people I do have right now will be staying for quite some time.

In case you haven't guessed it, the person I met not too long ago no longer play a role in my life. He was a stranger when I met him. He was a stranger when he left. If I told you I wasn't disappointed then I would be completely lying. I was, but his departure wasn't something worth losing my sleep for. I was, without question, very fond of this person. He was youthful, charismatic, and forward. I also found out that his cheerful exterior aligned with where he presently stood in life while is silliness and projected optimism were the key qualities that caught and kept my interest. At the same time, he still has so much to gain from the real world---profound humility, inner virtue, and life lessons that only experience and time can teach him. As much as I wanted to guide this person towards the right direction, I knew very well that I could never hand these kind of things to people on a silver platter. Character and maturity could only be gained if the person endure the tribulations himself. Although I thoroughly enjoy getting to know someone new (non-romantically or romantically), I usually have a keen sense of when conversations are about to end so when this one actually happened, I was not all that surprise.

Of course, it's never easy to say good-bye to people, even if you've only known them for a brief moment but I'm not one to sit around and lament about these situations in my head. I enjoy life for what it is, which is essentially an ongoing autonomous journey and without question, I'm always grateful for the times that became moments and experiences that are not just felt, but shared. That's what I had with this person. A shared moment.

Lastly, I wanted to sincerely apologize for being MIA for this long. Nothing exciting has happened in my life, thus far. I only wanted to reflect on this experience before I put the memory of this person locked up in some secret place that I would like to call the Past.

Update on my well-being: I'm no longer sick (Woot! That's definitely something to celebrate about) and it feels so good to start writing again. I miss it dearly. I guess the reason why I haven't touched this blog in so long is because I haven't been inspired at all. I promise I'll try harder to find that inspiration, but it's just one of those things that come to me as spontaneous as the people who walk into my life. Writing, however, is an unshakeable commitment so when I say I will try harder, you can bet that I will my best foot forward. Oh...I've also been experiencing so many mixed emotions, I probably wouldn't have been able to keep my sanity if it wasn't for my best friend Emily. I'm blessed beyond words and it's safe to say that life has definitely treated me better than I deserve. I'm a lucky one and I know it.

That's all I have for now. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week and check back with me soon!

XO

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!

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.

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?

 

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.

When Given The Option

I said to my friend, "And the sad thing is that when I start to care less, he’s going to start to try more." It saddens me to know that in this day and age, this statement has never been more true. Previous experiences in the workforce, in college, and in my romantic life has helped reinstall those silly words in my head. There's also that old saying that goes something along the lines of, "The one who holds power in any relationship is the one who cares less." Initially, I found the whole notion surrounding it to be completely absurd. How is it ever okay to give only 80 percent when your friend or business partner is giving their 110? Since when is it a bad thing to show more compassion, be more loving, and open to those around you? Because of that conceptualization, I've spent years going the extra mile for my loved ones. Luckily for me, I've been surrounded by generous and easy-going people. They've blessed me with their time, their trust, and their love. But that doesn't mean that I haven't met some bad eggs because I most definitely have, which explains why I've recently adopted the "IDGAF" mantra. Yes, I may come off as a cynic; however, my attitude towards people has nothing to do with my not wanting to care. Instead, it has a lot to do with my not wanting to deal with the possibility of getting hurt. In no way do I fear pain or the thought of vulnerabilities, but at this very moment, I do not have the energy or mental capacity to face those two things.

I promise that these walls will not be up forever. If you're someone who holds a significance place in my heart, the guard that I am talking about isn't even applicable to you. However, I have spent years building every cement each and every single time a relationship or friendship fails; therefore, it is only natural for me to be extra cautious. In this past year alone, I've watched people swing, flee, and run just to avoid uncomfortable situations entirely. It may seem laughable and cowardly, but we're all guilty of this. It's definitely not one of my proudest achievements, especially since I know that I am so much more than that. You are so much more than that. With this said, I hope you know that if you're someone special to me, I am more than happy to give you my time, my love, and my attention. I will walk that extra mile for you. You'll be treated like the royalty, fabulous person that you are because you are deserving of the world. And when given the option, for you, I will always choose to be caring.

If there's one thing I want you to take away from this post, it is this. Don't give people the power to control your smile, your worth, and your attitude. Be with those who recognizes your worth and treats you the way that he/she would like to be treated. 

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 ;)

The 3 Parts to Love

As per usual, my good friend ECC and I always enjoy having deep, meaningful conversations via text. Today's topic: love. ECC I remember years ago I asked you what it felt like to be IN love. K: What did I say? E: Not much. I asked that question while you were still with R*. If anything, your response, although short, was a little hostile. You mentioned it was difficult to explain and different for everyone, but that was about it. Years later, I'm curious how you would describe being in love, after all these encounters and years after your major relationship. I think I remember this instance so well because I expected some sort of answer full of rainbows and butterflies, but your response caught me off guard.

Normally, when someone poses me a question, I would immediately have a response for that person. I've been trained to think on my toes and over time, I've learned to accurately formulate my response in a simplistic manner. But c'mon. This is love we're talking about and nothing about it is easy, especially when it comes to talking about it. However, I will try my best and take a stab at it anyway. Wish me luck.

So here's my take on the topic; separated in three parts and copied directly from my conversation with ECC.

Part I Falling in love

Falling in love is beautiful. That’s the rainbow and butterflies that people are always talking about. It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s addicting. You find yourself at a new place and wanting to share all of these special moments with someone. Falling in love can happen pretty quickly or it can happen through a span of years or for the lucky ones, a lifetime. You hear that saying about couples falling in love with each other everyday.

Part II Being in love

Being in love is a little bit different. You learn about someone’s flaws, their quirks, the good and the bad. Then you make it a choice to love them, despite knowing these things. Being in love is when you truly get to know someone. I believe that it’s one of the most enriching experiences ever. Some people fall, but they never really get the chance to actually “be” with the other person. So then the two of you try to find what works, what doesn't and suddenly you find yourself at a brand new place.

Part III Staying in love

And then there’s staying in love. I would like to say that it is the hardest stage of all. Staying in love requires effort, time, commitment. It requires patience, mutual respect, compassion, trust, and understanding. I honestly feel like this is where your relationship takes a huge twist and turn. This is the part where life starts to throw shit at the both of you, giving you reasons to walk away, but as a couple, you two are fighting together to keep something that’s important to the both of you.

But as always, sometimes it's about finding yourself and who you are, and then realizing that the person you’ve fallen in love with might not actually be the person you should stay with. So once again, you're going to have to make another choice.

And now for my reflection ---

At seventeen years old, I thought something was seriously wrong with me. While my girl friends were dating left and right, I was lucky if the guy that I liked notices or says hi to me. I've never gotten asked to a homecoming dance and I can't even tell you the number of times I watched my crush fall for someone else that wasn't yours truly.

That all changed when I met my first and last boyfriend. Falling in love with him was something completely unexpected, but he made it easy (a little bit too easy if you asked me). He was a gentle, kind, loving, and loyal person. But what separated him from everyone else was that he was my friend and for nearly an entire year, we stayed in touch through a small screen. You know, way back when oovooing and leaving video messages on other people's Facebook walls were the trends.

Being in love with him had its moments, but I loved him everyday. Now, staying in love with him....that was the hard part. It was hard because inspite of everything that we were able to experience together, I knew we were not going to last. We were just too different.

So my dilemma, at the time, was this: how do you stay in love with someone when you can't picture forever with them?

I couldn't do it so naturally things ended. Emily commented on this and said that at the very least, it was a great chapter of my life that propelled me forward instead of holding me back and she was absolutely right. While there's no happy ending to that particular chapter, to this day, I can still talk about my first love with a big smile on my face. Why? He taught me how to love.

I think I'm done with all these cheesy talks for today, but thank you for reading my perspective on something that means a whole lot to me. [:

Secret Guide to Tell If I Like You

I am probably one of the worst liars I know. If you ask me a question, I will tell you the truth or at least, what I know to be the truth. For example, a month ago or so, a guy I was semi-talking to asked me if I liked him. I told him without any hesitation, "I like you. I just don't know you long enough to like you like that." Yeah, there's a beauty that comes with the no bullshit policy. No one should make time for it. It is not only out of respect for you, but also out of respect for our mutual friendship. But with that said, you can most likely always be able to tell if I enjoy your company...simply by observing my nonverbal behaviors. But in any case, if you're unable to catch on to those subtle cues of mine, here's a guide to help you tell if I sincerely do like you. 1) I'll ask a lot of questions. I'm curious about you. Intrigued by you. Enlightened by you. All the more reason for me to ask you a couple of non-generic questions. For the most part, our conversation will flow naturally and you will not even realize that I'm sorta conducting an informal interview, while simultaneously storing the data and information for future references. But if that does happen, it's because one) it's what I want to do for a living and you're currently my guinea pig (Future talk show host right here) two) I want to get to know you better. What you have to say is important to me.

2) I'll eat slower. I'm a fast eater. I always have been. However, if you're someone who can carry on a conversation without my help, I will more than often slow down the rate of my eating by nearly 60%. You'll already be done with your meal before I even touch a quarter of my dish.

PS As a big time foodie, you should know you're someone special when I'm more interested in you than the food at the table.

3) I will ask you to join me on activities that I would normally do by myself.

Movie premieres. Fancy schmancy invites. Watching Disneyland's fireworks. Driving on the freeway at night.

4) There will be silence during our hangouts. But it will feel more pleasant than awkward.

I'm so comfortable with you that silence seems perfectly golden when we're together. You'd respect my need for solitude and with that, we can still do our separate thing (ie. reading, online surfing, etc.) without saying a single world to each other.

5) I will be the person to say "let's do this again soon" and actually make it happen.

My best friends know this about me, but my Google Calendar is my holy grail. Every appointment, interview, meeting, gym session, dinner, vacation, date is scheduled or will be scheduled on my Google Cal. If your name is on there, I hope you know that I will make it my priority to spend time with you. Because our time together matters.

6) When I spread myself too thin with different areas of my life and you ask me if I'm doing okay, I'll tell you the truth. "No, I'm not."

I won't be afraid to be myself around you even if that means my guard is down and admitting to you that I've hit a major roadblock.

7) You meet and get to know my friends. My best friends and loved ones are my diamonds. I have around 15, family not included. They are rare, exquisite, and valuable human beings. Therefore, I do not like to introduce to them someone who holds no potential for permanence in my life. Only one person met all of my friends (my first love), while the other met my entire extended family (Summer; refer to this post if you want to know who I'm talking about--https://khanhpduong.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/my-saigon-love-story-kind-of/) So 2 in total.

8) I will tell you about my dreams.

I'll talk endlessly about my struggles, the time I failed, the people who doubted me. You will know about my journey and what has helped shaped me into becoming the woman I am today. I will let you in on the secret to my successes and failures. At this point in time, you probably have empowered me enough for me to share with you my most prized possession---my dreams.

9) You will always get a compliment from me, whether you realize it or not.

I will tell you repeatedly how grateful I am to have someone amazing as you in my life. I will say that your tie looks great on you. I will let you know that you've inspired my writing. There will be nothing but positive words that come out of my mouth when it comes to talking to you or about you.

I hope this post allows you to get to know me a little bit better. I'm extremely picky when it comes to friendships, relationships, networks, but that's only because I already have incredibly uplifting people in my life. It's not to say that I despise you if I don't do these certain things, but this list is pretty accurate and applicable for me (:

Have a good Friday, everyone!

What Costed Me Everything

The difference between my junior year at USC versus my senior year at USC is so drastic, I don't even know where to begin. During my second to last year of college, a majority of my time was spent with my sorority pledge sisters. We ate together, slept together, cried together, traveled together; essentially, we did everything together. In fact, at one point, the situation got so bad with my awful apartmentmates that I ended up sleeping over at my pledge sisters' apartment in downtown LA 3 to 4 nights a week. I never went home on weekends. I barely talked to my mother or visited my grams. The only time I was back in Garden Grove was for Christmas and summer.

Two things that my recklessness costed me: quality time with family and my career was nonexistent.

Things started to change come senior year of college. I took on two internships (one in Hollywood and the other one in Santa Monica), enrolled in five upper division classes, held 3 officer positions in Greek, and etc. As I begin to see momentum with my career and academic pursuits, the relationship I had with my sorority sisters rapidly deteriorated. While I lived with three of them, I probably spoke to only one.

Every morning, I woke up at 4 AM, meditated, read, and got my hair and make-up done. By 7 PM, I would be back from Lionsgate and immediately, I would bike to school and stay in class until dismissal which was 9:30. By 9:45, I was already in bed. On the weekends, however, I manage to drive back home to visit my family as well as pick up my week's worth of food.

Two things that my ambition costed me: quality time with my pledge sisters and my love life was nonexistent.

In summary, no matter how hard I worked to be the gal that 'has it all,' I was essentially losing something (or someone) each and every single time. Coming from a person who has accomplished a great deal of things at 22, I can tell you that these are extremely high opportunity costs that often led me to feeling empty, alone, and confused. At the same time, I felt like I had a purpose...like I was finally going somewhere in life. The adrenaline of reaching one milestone after the next was too good and I couldn't stop. In fact, it was so good, I completely trained myself to continue to tackle on all of my tasks at 100 MPH. Talk to anyone who knows me on a person level and they will tell you that I was crazy. Then again, I'm always crazy.

What I didn't realize at the time, was that my craziness to fulfill my dreams meant that I had to sacrifice more than the average college senior. I turned down dates with quality men. I turned down hangouts with girls who used to occupy every single hour of my time. I turned down Thirstday outings, massive raves, and my little brother's award ceremony.

But things are different now. Following graduation, I've traveled and visited my extended family in Vietnam. I've received invitations to company dinners, networking mixers, concerts, dinners, gym sessions, and I even went on my first date in two years! [https://khanhpduong.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/my-first-date-in-over-2-years/] While I may have lacked a love life in college, the numbers of cute guys I met per week began to skyrocket. It didn't stop there. Suddenly, old friends wanted to catch up with me, new friends wanted to hang out with me, and men, overall, wanted to get to know me.

However, as always, there's a downside to everything.

The cost of me saying 'Yes' to every outing: time.

Despite forming new interpersonal relationships and eating great food with amazing company, I gave up something that was most precious to me. My time. For instance, while the guys that took an interest in me were objectively great guys, I knew right away that there was no potential for anything more. I've always known the man that I would wound up with and unfortunately, none of them felt right. But because I did not want to be impolite and was highly encouraged by my girlfriends to be more open minded, my bias towards courtesy led me to suffer some consequences. Nothing deadly, but consequences nonetheless.

What I should have done from the very beginning was that I should have been completely and utterly honest with those people as a service to them and myself. If I was straightforward about my feelings, or lack thereof, I would have had more time to focus on building my career and life path. More of my time could have been dedicated to exploring new hobbies or taking up pole dancing classes. You see, the luxury of getting all that attention and lust costed me some meaningful memories that could have been made with those I love and care about.

Point is, much like other members of this modern society, I've fallen under the trap of thinking that I could have the perfect balance. Incredible career, supportive peers, awesome boyfriend, hot body, etc. etc. But the truth is this--- I'm still working on finding that balance.

Recently, I've been feeling more pressured than ever before and the thought of losing out on enjoying the present scares the fuck out of me. I don't want to ever suffer from #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Instead, I want to fully taking advantage of every single moment, doing things I am passionate about with people I love; all while ensuring that my time is distributed wisely, of course.

Afterall, isn't it one of life's biggest gifts?

My First Date in Over 2 Years

I've been single...or should I say embracing my independent-ness for awhile now (and I'm not about to go through my calendar and count the exact days since I've stepped onto this path) but it has been a good ride. By good I mean I've met some pretty cool people here and there, but the best part about all of this was that I had all of this me-time, which I absolutely enjoy. I did not need to check-in with people. I never had to text someone back, cater to their schedule, etc. The sense of individualism and free of commitment zone helped me thrive. I was free, alas. Before, I would blame my busy schedule for my lack of "time" but nowadays, I would like to rephrase it and say that it has never really been a priority for me. Other things consumed my thoughts and I like it like that.

But after two years and X something months, I finally went on my first date a couple of days ago.

The date was as follows:

He walked out of his car, did some awesome robotic move (he's a dancer) and then handed me a bouquet of red daisies. "These are for you," he said. Although I've received flowers in this past, this was the first time a man (who was not my BF) brought me flowers.

Anyway, the rest of the night went pretty well. We had a nice dinner, conversed, laughed, went out for dessert, and then he drove me back to my house since I was still suffering from jet lag. Overall, I had a great time. He was a complete gentleman. I don't have anything bad to say about him other than the fact that I knew he wasn't the one.

I know what you're going to say. 'Khanh, maybe you should give it a couple of more dates.' But let me tell you this. I've never been wrong before. My intuition usually tells me to do the right thing and the right thing to do in this case is to be appreciative of the kind gestures and end all communication just in case the other party gets the wrong idea. Either way, I'm happy I took the chance and said, "Yes" because it made me realize that there are actually a lot of great people out there. In spite of the hook-up culture and desensitization, the date somehow reminded me that romance and chivalry are not yet dead. That perhaps somewhere out there, I will be able to finally write another chapter of my life with someone else in it.

Until then :)

Why I've Said 'No' to Dating

The hopeless romantic in me has dreamt of a love so passionate, so dangerous, so grand that even Allie and Noah from The Notebook will have to bow down to my lover and me. Shakespeare would praise me and Nicholas Spark would write a novel about me. But unlike most fairytales, my Prince Charming does not have a gallant white horse nor a royal bloodline. My own version of Prince Charming has a college degree, wit, drive, and an unquestionable desire to explore and see everything that the world has to offer. However, there's one problem. I've met this guy before. Correction, I've met these guys before. They're usually an engineer of some sort. A phenomenal writer. An enlightened thinker. And generally speaking, they're in extremely great shape (Wink, wink). So it's no surprise for me to say that the initial attraction and chemistry were always there. We have great conversations, shared thought-provoking philosophies on issues we deemed to matter, and to simply put it, we have a great time.

But over the past two years or so and I truly despise myself for admitting this, I've been in denial. Every encounter was used to fill a void that has become darker and darker with each passing day. And despite all of my straight-out-of-the-movies stories, I cannot seem to escape from one simple truth and that is I've never fallen for any of them. All said and done, I think the most difficult task is trying to find a sufficient explanation in order to avoid the reality of it all: I am alone.

A couple a weeks ago, an old friend asked me out on a date. It was unexpected to say the least, but his grand and sweet gesture made it extremely easy for me to say yes. Did I say it out of pity? Of course not. I said, 'Yes' because for the first time in two and a half years, I decided to give casual dating a shot. He and I ended the conversation with the agreement that he'll call me back in two weeks' time.

He did just that. Two days ago, I received a missed call from him. Normally, I would call the person back right away, but I knew that this person deserved more than that. He deserved the truth and the second truth is this: I am not ready.

Despite my wanting to get to know these guys better, there's someone I am much more interested in and that person is none other than myself. Khanh, what are your interests? What is it that you like to do? What are you passionate in? What about your dislikes? These unanswered questions has been floating on my mind and these are questions that, needless to say, are my priority. So to sum it up, I've been saying 'no' to every single suitor because I believe that dating requires a certain level of interest, time, and commitment---three things that I so desperately want for myself. Am I fully aware that I am closing myself off from potential love of my life? Sure. But that love will be there later and that's perfectly fine. After a conversation with a friend, I've quickly accepted the fact that I thrive when I am in my own bubble so being alone is actually not scary as it seems. In fact, my choosing not to date is a choice. A healthy choice. And if the time comes when I put on a nice little back dress, my newest stilettos, and red lipstick, you'll know that I'm finally ready to step back into the dating field and it's probably because I've met someone unconventionally awesome.

Until then, I want to spend this time to soul-search and perhaps, find the answers to my questions. One day at a time. One step at a time. So here's to a brand new adventure and to all the possibilities that are ahead.

Fight On!

I Am Anything But -

The Other Woman 

Competitive; a word typically synonymous with greed, overly-confident, narcissism. While I do not attach myself with these following terms, I do feel that competition can be a good thing. Whether it's a self-destructive mechanism or not is solely up to the individual. I find that as I get older, my competitive nature continues to increase (but not in all aspects of my life). In certain settings such as academics, career, athletics, or the usual fun n' games, competition becomes vital for someone like me. It's not to say that I compete to win. My goal is to not lose. Bottom line: Trophy or not, I just want to walk away knowing that I have given it my all and therefore, am a champion in my own right. Even then, there are some things I refuse to compete for.

1) People's time

2) Attention

3) Men

This last one is a bit tricky and I'll just start by telling you a story so you can have a better picture as to where I stand.

About a month ago, I was in Las Vegas with my close girl friends when a couple of friendly guys asked us to join the bachelor party. Being that we were on Spring Break and knowing me, we all decided to take up the offer.

It was a gorgeous day at the day club. The weather was perfect. The crowd felt like they walked out of a Snoop Dogg's music video: young, wild, and free. Of course, the open champagne bar has been just the cherry on top of the sundae. For the first twenty minutes or so, I swam around and made sure I introduced myself to every person in the group. Despite being surrounded by dozens of beautifully sculptured spring breakers, one person caught my attention. He was tall, toned, and tan. Yep, my cup of tea. Our casual small talks has led me to believe that our compatibility rests on the fact that we had a lot of things in common with each other. We have the same alma mater (Go, Trojans!). Basketball is our favorite sport. The gym is our second favorite place to be (next to home). That's 3/3. What's so great about our complementary personalities was that everything felt natural and unforced. Before you know it, we continued on and talked about life, career, and other hobbies. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested. Clearly, I was and undoubtedly, he probably was too. Everything was going well that was until I bumped into his best friend, the bachelor.

"Isn't he such a great guy?"

"Yeah, he is."

"We're going to be brothers-in-law, you know."

"Hmm?"

"He's dating my fiancé sister."

Of course, of course. The one guy that I actually hit it off with would be taken. 'I mean, what else is new?' Regardless, I tried to push all those thoughts on the back burner and attempted to not let the established fact rain on my parade. For the remaining latter part of the day, I tried to keep my distance, but despite doing so, he and I still find ourselves in our own little bubble together.  And then, that unexpected moment happened. As we were all playing around in the water, right before Steve Angello went on, the guy pulled me into his arms and gave me a small kiss on my forehead. 'You're perfect,' he said.

Given the situation and our environment, if I hadn't known what I already knew, I probably would have kissed him. But it doesn't work that way---at least not for me. I took a step back and while I haven't brought up his relationship before, I knew that I could no longer avoid the topic. I contemplated for about a minute or so before I looked directly up at him and said, "I don't want to ruin your relationship.'  With that, he gave me a small smile because he knew.

A week ago, I met a guy who held a close resemblance to my favorite dancer. Thirty minutes into our conversation, I learned that he just got out of a relationship for about a month or so. Ten minutes later, he told me he loved me and that I was the coolest girl he has ever met. Granted, it's hard to choose bliss and ignorance when I, myself, know better. I know that men, often times, would say what they need to say in order to get what they want. I'm not saying that women are not equally guilty of this, but still. At that point in time, I couldn't even ignore his intentions even if I wanted to. The only thing I could say to him was, "Sorry, dude. You've talked to the wrong girl."

This was not the first time I've encountered these type of situations. Although I try to analyze and sometimes over-think things, I can never truly understand the appeal that comes with taking something that doesn't belong to me. In the court of law and under circumstances, people would be put into prison for such misconduct. In social settings, I might as well just put a paper bag over my face if I were to steal something that's not rightfully mine. I have been in a committed relationship. Therefore, I have a lot of respect for couples and their relationships. But is there good in temptation and passion? Sure. Are those two things worth the trouble? Absolutely not. My time could be spent doing something more productive and worthwhile. After all, having an affair or cheating is easy. Carrying the label as the other woman, on the other hand, isn't. Sadly, these are the traps that my generation tend to fall into. ' tis a sad truth, indeed.

Just earlier, I read a blog written by one of my girl crushes who is a fellow Trojan and television hostess. In her blog, she discusses issues in regards to women empowerment as well as her experiences with being cheated on by a man who claimed that she was the love of his life. It was raw and I loved it. She went on to say that 'People don’t cheat because of who you are, they cheat because of who they aren’t.'  So despite dealing with the brutality that comes with the post break-up,  she is still happy and proud to know there are still wonderful women out there who will stand by her and support her through these rough times.

After reaching the end of her post, I was once again reaffirmed with the belief that I do not ever want to inflict any emotional turmoil on someone else. Simply put, I refuse to be the other woman. Being raised by an independent woman has taught me that I should never truly rely on a significant other in order to feel complete or special. I should never have to settle for someone who does not know how to respect or cherish me. Moreover, through her, I have learned that I have too much going on for me to ever be with a person who doesn't recognize my worth. With that said, my objective in life is not to compete against other women for men. Does it suck to find that the person that I like might already be or is in a relationship? Yes. Does it mean I should stop talking to them completely? No. Even then, I am very aware of my situation and even as a competitor, I have too much respect for women to look at them as my competition. Given the chance to fight against my moral compass and feed my instant gratification, I will always choose the route that I know I will be proud of. So for all my ladies out there, I am here to stand with you, not against you. In the words of my girl crush, "Know your worth and never settle."