Growing Up Emotionally Fast

I remember when I was young, I was never rebellious, just dumb. My friends did mature things that I was pretty naive to even though I was lowkey the equivalent of a horny teenage boy with no dick to stick in things. I learned about things through hours of sleepless nights on the internet. I didn’t learn much in real life.

While some of my friends were having sex at an early age, hanging out with older guys and smoking weed on the regular; I was just around. I didn’t get caught up in any of that. There were times I made embarrassingly terrible efforts to be sexy and failed miserably. Example: I wore a thong to class in ninth grade and almost gave myself a wedgie trying to show it off out of my jeans. Still, guys wouldn’t look at me. I was never the slutty one at parties. I only made out with everyone and then probably threw up somewhere later on in the night because I wasn’t very good at drinking either. I didn’t have sex until I was sixteen and I waited on purpose because that’s what teenage rom coms taught me was an appropriate age. I remember even calling a friend about it right after the guy left and being like yeaaaah, I did it. Because sex, amirite?

Fun fact: I had sex with the guy I lost my virginity like, eight or so years later. Nothing was like I remembered. It was pretty bad. I judged pretty hard. We never did it again. As a person, he was alright to me until he got weird/gross this year. I’ll respect on not getting into because he’s a newly father now………

I didn’t have a consistent adult figure to help me through life. Not even secondary like, a relative, teacher, mentor, etc etc. I had someone I viewed as an older sister when I was a kid but she passed away when I was thirteen. I lowkey had no one. It’s been weird trying to navigate life and raising myself mentally and emotionally. Especially since I’ve always been a bit of an idiot.

While I struggled with the confusions of growing up, I grew up emotionally faster than I was prepared for. I didn’t even know this was happening because I was just a kid. Reflecting as an adult, it explains why I was such an internalized mess for so long.

I have faint memories of being in a women’s shelter and the green pajamas with strawberry shortcake. This was one of my first real memories. I experienced death of others at a young age but dysfunctionally because most of the people I knew who died were young. It happened frequently enough while growing up that I had to accept it as something that was a part of life. I was too young to grasp the emotions of it properly. I took that into adolescence as well. I mean, I got sad but I never learned any grieving skills.

No one really took me seriously because of my parents and when I was young, I didn’t understand that either. I didn’t understand why the other kids in the Vietnamese community were so tight knit and I was such an outsider. I always felt like I never fit in. My dad used to try to beat the Vietnamese into me and my mum was the reason why we were so isolated so you can imagine how confusing that was for me. Nothing in my life made sense but because I was too young to understand, I didn’t really think much about it.

But I did know I felt bad things inside me that I couldn’t understand. I felt different but I didn’t know why. I had no one to talk to so I just kept it all inside. Getting yelled at or dismissed definitely helped with the internalizing. I wrote my thoughts out only to have my mum find them and when she could understand them, I’d get yelled at. Shame game was very real in how my life played out.

Though I didn’t understand, I had to cope. I had to cope with figuring out who I was while feeling like it was wrong to be me. I’d see happiness and connection around me but I couldn’t genuinely feel it myself. I was never jealous or bitter about it; there was just always this sad feeling that I couldn’t understand. I thought it was normal to feel the alienation, I think. At the time, I couldn’t tell what was from the trauma and what was part of growing up. They just seemed to blend together.

I didn’t tell many people about what was going on with me. I just acted like everything was okay. Partly to fit in, partly because I really, really wanted to be okay. I convinced myself enough that I was okay knowing I wasn’t. And just cool. I just wanted to be cool. Still waiting on that. But it gave me an understanding that I didn’t understand myself. I experienced things that people around me didn’t. I knew my upbringing wasn’t normal. Some people kind of knew but I spoke about it like a conversation not with any feelings. It was easier to pretend that I was normal too. I could always study how to be normal online while just pretending I was in my real life. I read obsessively about those who I looked up to and pretended this one message board was full of older siblings guiding me.

My lowkey coping and forced emotional growth kept me going through some of the darkest moments of my life. It caused an earnest in me that makes me more aware of the tough parts of life. I’m resilient for it but paired with my inability to think any better of myself, it caused for many, many messed up years. It kept my dumbass from feeling sheltered or entitled though because I didn’t ever feel important enough for that “privilege”. Because I never really acted out, I’d suffer quietly with occasional outbursts. I was innately attuned to my feelings but lacked the self-awareness to control them properly.

Growing up emotionally was my unintentional survival mode. Now as an understanding adult, it takes away the intensity of the shame I felt and the defectiveness I thought I was. Being able to share everything I thought I had to hide has helped me accept who I am more as a person now that I have less that I’m supposed to hide behind. I get to connect and feel the emotions I once wondered about. Maybe not to the level that I imagined but you know, I appreciate what I can feel. It’s allowing me to know what my actual emotions are and how to control them because I’m shedding the misunderstood ones away. I can understand what are sincere ones.

At almost thirty, my emotions are beginning to grow properly. They’re growing with me and with an awareness. Talking about it brings out the uncool feeling out of me because that’s how I feel with vulnerable shit but we’ll shed that.

We All Start Somewhere

I’m getting my first real paycheck for a post/article that I recently made payable. I’m getting a whole eight cents for it! And while I’m laughing at it, I’m also genuinely excited. I didn’t think I’d get anything for it. So to get plus six for my two cents, it feels pretty good. Preeeetty good.

We all start somewhere. Hopefully I can look back at this like a Drake song. This little bit of validation is motivation.

It makes me think of when I first started working out. Active was never a thing you’d use to describe me. I was usually in a state of adorably chubby or soft. I was weak. I had no upper body strength. In fact, I was so weak that one time when I was drunk, I tried to do a handstand against a wall and ended up pinching my sciatica nerve and couldn’t walk for a week or so. I had no endurance. My friend took me for a run around my short block and he ended up overlapping me a few times and I ended up giving up. I wasn’t very flexible. Physically useless was not a criticism of me; it was unfortunately accurate.

I couldn’t even begin to consider that I’d be able to lift the weights I do now. Or to be able to maintain the splits and flexibility that I have. It seemed like only something cool people could do and I was not cool. I couldn’t envision myself in that kind of capacity. I was just this blob. I told myself I didn’t mind where my place was but deep down, I was hurting real hard about it. I just wanted to be perceived as cool. So, so, so badly.

What changed everything for me was reading about the hell Roald Dahl put his ex-wife, Patricia Neal, through after she suffered an aneurysm. The stubbornness of her and what she endured to not only recover, but go on to win an Oscars has always stayed with me. I didn’t go through any extremes like that but I kept that mentality even though I’m not high key about it most of the time.

Another was a subconscious trust I had in myself and the process when it came to powerlifting. I remember barely even being able to deadlift 50lbs. I used the assist for pull ups for what can only be describe as a “painfully” long time. I had no experience win strength but when I somehow knew I could be good at this even though I had nothing to base it on. I decided to believe in that. I would learn to believe in it.

I went through nights of waking up in soreness that I would learn was DOMS. My body was tired and so was I. I wanted to do the minimal, but my piece of shit minimal. But I started thinking about doing the minimal of what to reach my goals. I struggled even as I got better at it. I still didn’t have the confidence. I couldn’t take it as seriously as I felt inside because I didn’t feel it with myself. I couldn’t be like fuck yeah about what I could accomplish because there were other people better than me and the cool kids would see me as the try hard to be in the club that I kind of was. I was doing shit for myself but I also longingly wanted to fit in.

Except that I was also a scared to. I was scared of being called out. I was scared to finally hang with the guy I had a crush on because he was so jacked and I still saw myself as a potato that he met me as. This new me couldn’t shake the old me. I was so scared, I spent three years lost, confused and I went back to injuries because I couldn’t bring myself to saying it was okay to embrace the confident I sometimes felt.

In fact, it’s taken five years to believe in myself when it came to my physical capabilities and it’s only pretty recently that I can genuinely say I believe it. I didn’t even really believe it even after I did my first powerlifting meet this past February. Confidence in myself has never come easy. But it’s beginning to welcome itself in the past few months. Especially when it comes to powerlifting. Though it can’t be a priority right now, it’s a love of mine that I will always commit to and get back to. I’m good at it.

I started from a bottom and then I got to a great spot.

I felt the same kind of feels when I saw the check. Things take time to grow but I can do this even if I can’t explain to you how or the steps I’m going to take. I think a big part of it is trusting the process and having faith in myself and my abilities, capabilities.

I did more for my writing this year than my entire life and they were small victories but still victories. One article and an eight cent paycheck speaks more than the nothing I did to put myself out there before then. Both these things give me that tiny more confidence to continuing writing, understanding the different branches of it and make something of it one day.