Also: language and possible trigger warning.
One of my worst habits is my tendency to go between the two extremes. There is no middle ground when it comes to Khoi. It feels impossible for me to exist in the middle. This has applied to multiple aspects of my life and it’s really fucking me over right now.
I’m either extremely depressed or extremely happy. I’m either extremely anxious or I give no fucks and do things without hesitation. I’m either extremely frugal or I overspend. I’m either extremely motivated and get shit done, or I’m too lazy to even think about doing something. I would either do everything in my power to make you happy or couldn’t care less that you exist. I’m either extremely passive or aggressive. I literally go hard or go home in all aspects of life… and it’s terrible.
After going to Seattle for PAX in 2016, I realized I needed more social interaction than what I was used to. I needed more social interaction than I wanted. I needed more social interactions than just the select people I really wanted to spend time with.
I was happy in Seattle meeting new people. I was happy in Seattle hanging out with already good friends, so let’s keep repeating that. Going out has been a lot better than therapy for me.
As a promise to one of those people I really love spending time with, I decided to get professional help. But like I said, going out was way better than therapy for me. I was prescribed anti-depressants, but didn’t want to take them. I at least wanted to give therapy a shot in lieu of popping pills. Countless therapists, psychologist and a psychiatrist later (I lied… I can count to 6) and more prescriptions left unfilled later, I gave up.
Therapy really did nothing for me but help me realize I hate talking to professionals. I don’t like repeating myself to new people every month after the previous therapist didn’t think they were a right fit or doesn’t understand Asian culture. It felt like I was reading from a script giving my same old spiel every time.
I don’t like spending money on things I already know or being repeated the same things with different wording. I don’t like people making grand assumptions. I don’t like being told things without being given solutions. Give me a process, give me something besides what I already know.
Nobody knows Khoi like Khoi knows Khoi and if these people are repeating things Khoi already knew, why should I be paying them hundreds? Hell, the only takeaways from therapy is giving me more perspective onto why I can’t do school, and I should get a dog for my own mental and overall health. Well… I guess the dog part isn’t really new since Chau literally tells me to get one every time I’m more depressed than usual or having girl problems, but now there’s professionals telling me to get one in lieu of meds.
Being social in 2016 was way better than therapy for me.
“You’re a lot happier.”
“You’re doing well.”
“I’m glad you kicked the depression.”
“I actually like this Khoi.” (Ouch)
During the height of my partying, everybody said I was happier, more fun and more interesting.
Well not everybody… The two people I wanted to hear it from never said it. One didn’t particularly like how I was changing, the other I was still scared to talk to after hurting her earlier in the year. I’d like to think that I don’t seek validation but there’s in actuality 2 or 3 people whose opinions of me that actually matter. When one of those people don’t approve I eventually break down again.
Maybe I wasn’t going out enough?
I can’t fake extroversion. I still preferred being home on my computer. I still preferred small groups to big gatherings. I still preferred one on one interactions with my favorite people. I still preferred being alone.
Even if I preferred those things, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do things I don’t prefer. That’s how you grow! Can’t always be sticking to what you’re comfortable or used to if you’re trying to grow. (TLC’s Waterfalls be damned). I hardly went out for the past 12 years. Even when I was in relationships I’d rather stay indoors and watch TV shows or play games together than actually going out and doing things. No wonder they all failed horribly. (Well yeah there’s other reasons like crippling insecurity and trying to hide imperfections but I digress).
A part of me felt like I needed to make up for lost time. I mean… 12 years of doing nothing is a lot to make up for. I went social to the fucking max even if it wasn’t inherently Khoi. From September until my trip to Japan, I said “Yes” to every invite unless I was already out or preoccupied. I’ve went to more random dinners, events, kickbacks, bars, house parties, karaoke sessions, 2am street tacos, and other random shit in the last 4 months of 2016 than I did in the past 8 years combined.
You would think a $180 Uber would help me realize I needed balance in my life. Nah, I was still being social. Fuck it, this is just another story to tell. If I don’t go out and do things I won’t have stories to tell the next time I see you. There’s someone I had months’ worth of stories to tell but all this going out and partying was an easy substitute, right? Being boring is a cardinal sin in this day and age, and I sure as hell didn’t want to be boring when I’m finally able spend quality time with the people I really want to see.
It was probably overkill being a Yes Man to this degree but it felt great for a while.
I lied… being social is exhausting and expensive. When I wrote that I already knew I was lying. I was high on life when I wrote that post. I’m still an introvert no matter how much I pretended not to be. I can’t fake it ‘til I make it. I can’t fake being an extrovert until I became one.
I was burnt out but I still felt like I needed to go out more. I promised I would learn to be social without relying on key individuals as my social crutch. “I don’t want have to worry about you when I’m out.” “I don’t want to have to think about how you’re doing every day.” No matter how much progress I felt I made in terms of being social, there was never anything to counterbalance that or be a standard measure against. Yeah I was burnt out but it’s not like there was any alternative. I’m supposed to go out and meet new people to do more things. That’s how normal, non-depressed people are supposed to be, right? That’s the Khoi that these new people like, right?
I needed to bring balance to my social life. I can’t go out every weekend, that’s not me. I can’t stay home every day all day, that’s not good for me.
Tony and Yen’s wedding in November of 2016 was supposed to be my last hurrah for the partying before I brought some control back to my social life. Get all the partying out of my system so I could make a conscious effort to finding a midpoint. I really enjoyed the wedding and congratulations again, Tony and Yen! It was nice meeting old friends and meeting new people but it served to feed my ego more.
Everybody wanted to know Khoi. I was getting even more invites to do things than before. The old Khoi would have never even been considered. I was getting these random requests on social media and texts from people I didn’t know. I had numbers in my phone I didn’t remember saving. People at parties and events wanted to introduce themselves to me. My socially awkward dumbass self wouldn’t even need to muster up the courage to talk to cute girls because they would approach me. Who didn’t want to be friends with Khoi? I was feeling myself, but maybe a little too much.
I applied that high on life and friendship making high to people I shouldn’t have. I tried too hard to be friends with certain individuals and tried too hard to be closer with acquaintances I already had. All these other people wanted to hang out with me, why wouldn’t this person? Right? Wrong. I was an idiot. It soured friendships and relationships with already close friends. Looking back, I hated that Khoi too.
There’s one friend in particular I want to apologize to, but I’ve apologized so much in the past that it’s lost its value. There was a period of time that almost every other line I typed or sentence that came out of my mouth was apologizing to someone or for something. I was apologizing for my mistakes. I was apologizing for my existence. It’s stupid to apologize for existing but that’s how I felt a lot of the time. It’s really dumb knowing that you’re apologizing for things you shouldn’t, and yet, you apologized.
As much as I’ve apologized, after a certain point I don’t think they’ve really meant anything because ultimately talk is cheap. I can keep apologizing and saying “I’m sorry” or I can make actual changes and improvements. Too often people apologize just to end a confrontation even though you know damn well they won’t do anything to rectify that behavior or change their actions.
Too often people apologize just to show remorse that they’ve hurt someone, but not that they actually see the error in their ways. Not often enough do people sincerely apologize and try to make a conscious effort to learn how they can improve and fix their mistakes. I don’t even bother saying “I’m sorry” any more for anything besides showing sympathy and empathy. If it was something I’ve done, I just try to talk it out about what I can change or do to fix it and address the emotional impact on both sides.
I guess that’s another extreme. I went from apologizing all the damn time to never wanting to apologize again. Probably the only extreme where I don’t mind not finding a middle point. It feels great to not apologize. If you’re not someone who understands why I feel it’s cheap to apologize now, you’re not someone deserving of my improvements.
I really did try to improve after being confronted about my actions in late November, but I needed to find out why I was that way to people.
I was so used to being alone, why was it suddenly now that I wanted to make certain that people were my friends? What made me want people around more than I knew I needed?
For a couple years, I had made plans with people to go to Japan and other Asian countries. For one reason or another, plans always fell through. This was the third year, and fourth time overall that people bailed.
In my loneliest moment I felt like I had to do it. Fuck it, I’ll go to Japan alone. I can’t live my life waiting around for other people. Nobody puts me as a priority in their life. If people weren’t going to make time for it, I might as well take matters into my own hands.
As luck would have it, tickets were $400 when I checked flights that night. Instantly booked. This was the first time I would be leaving the country on purpose (long story…). Hell, Seattle earlier that year was the first time I left California outside of business or with family (I don’t really count Vegas… That’s basically an extension of Southern California to me). 2016 was going to be the year of firsts. I had this intense sense of wanderlust that had to be filled now.
If Seattle helped me realize it was social interaction that I was lacking towards happiness, maybe going to Tokyo alone would help me realize why I felt that way.
It was fun to explore and get lost alone. Wake up in the morning, stop by a convenience store (7-eleven in Japan is godly by the way), buy some rice balls or a sandwich and get on the train to a random ward of Tokyo. Walk around, eat stuff, check out stores, and eat some more, then start heading back around 10 or 11.
I really love eating, especially in Japan. Luckily in Tokyo a lot of restaurants had English menus but sometimes there weren’t. It was fun to eat random things off menus that couldn’t read. I mean, it was Japan. The food had to be at last above average. I knew the words for bugs and worms so I was 100% safe from accidentally ordering that.
It was also fun to spend a lot of money in Japan. Remember how I said therapy didn’t work? Retail therapy sure did. Or at least I thought it did.
Before going to Japan I was big on buying shoes again. I had bought a lot of shoes earlier in life, but not to this level. I probably spent as much money on buying shoes in 2016 as I did on going to therapy in 2016. It made me temporarily happy when buying and wearing them. It made me happy (well after the awkwardness at least) when some random girl walked up to me to say “Kakkoii” and point at my shoes while I was trying to take pictures in Japan.
Even when in Japan I bought so much random swag from stores. Not even like souvenirs but stuff for myself. I bought one of everything I liked from the Pokémon Centers littered around Tokyo. I bought almost everything Stitch related from Disney SEA.
It was just an overall good experience exploring alone, eating and buying random stuff.
I learned that I can still have fun and be happy alone, and I didn’t need to lock myself in my room being a shut in for that to happen… but I still felt lonely. This was the first time I was so far away from any friends or family.
But as luck would have it, even when I felt the most alone, it turned out I wasn’t. Unplanned but four friends ended up being in Japan at the same time. 2 for an event, 1 for a business trip and 1 to get away from Koreans for a weekend. Hell, all four were actually in Tokyo during my 10 day trip. I only got to see two of them but it was still nice to know I had friends around.
Meeting up with one friend in particular was a life changing experience for me and rekindled our friendship. She’s defined the last four Decembers for me for better or for worse, but 2016’s was definitely a positive one. Looking back and writing this now, I also realize the last few times I was genuinely happy and felt serenity was when I was around her.
Our adventures on those Tokyo nights were especially memorable for me. Walking down a beautifully lit street during the cold of winter while randomly stopping to buy things for friends back home; getting lost together in Tokyo while looking for a restaurant that was tucked away in some small street; running around Tokyo Station while carrying 20 plus pounds of Tokyo Bananas while looking for a missing wallet that wasn’t actually missing, and ultimately missing our sushi dinner. These were the stories I wanted to have to tell people, but in the end I didn’t really feel like I needed to because I experienced it with someone I loved being around.
Travelling to Tokyo opened my eyes to why travel was so important. Honestly, I used to think the things Chau spouted about seeing the world and opening your mind was bullshit. I mean, I’ve travelled before with family… to visit family. I’ve travelled with family to Hawaii… to sit in a house in Hawaii, cooking food you could have had eaten at home for the length of a vacation to just “relax.” I’ve seen family go back to Vietnam and come back the same person. None of them seemed any more open-minded or less ignorant.
But I did see people go to Italy, Germany, Tokyo, Peru, Taiwan, Scotland and other countries and come back happy and more “worldly.” I was finally able to experience it and had it click for me. There’s so much out there you have yet to experience or see. You get to experience different cultures and see a different pace of life. I don’t know how anybody could be racist or ignorant if they were ever able to meet other people outside of their bubble. I definitely left Tokyo inspired and reinvigorated for my life ahead.
When I got back to the states, Chau took me to Universal for my birthday. My new favorite person that I hung out with in Tokyo wasn’t able to go but I was still reminded I had other great friends. These people went out of their way and took a day away from their busy schedule to hang out with me all day on my birthday.
Those days in Tokyo and the day at Universal gave me a midpoint as a reference. I didn’t need to go out and party all the time when one or two days with close friends were enough. I could use my days and weeks alone to recharge so the next time I saw these people I wouldn’t be a total buzzkill and have the energy to show enthusiasm.
But like that… My social life disappeared completely for two months.
I was having difficulty having the post and sections flow together, so I’ll break here. I wrote like 5000 words and have been editing it down into manageable portions. I’ll (probably) finish the next part next week? This won’t be like my Seattle blogs where I give up writing because I forgot what happened, I PROMISE.
Edit: Part 2 done xD