Twenty Sixteen

I do a lot of my thinking on a stationary bike. ^ Above is one of the many realizations I've come to as the first month of the new year draws to a close. In fact, it was as I was pedaling away the last 5 minutes of my workout when I suddenly remembered that I used to own a blog. Let's be honest--that's not really much of a revelation considering I've owned just about 20+ blogs since I first discovered the wonders of the INTERNET, circa 2004. However, I couldn't help thinking about just how much I've changed since my first (and only post) of this particular blog, which featured the 2015 Maya and her struggles in the wake of some pretty shitty personal events.

I like to think I'm a different person now. The high school me and the college me just feel like such disparate selves, although of course the aging process is akin to a set of Russian dolls, with each "new self" containing the experiences (both good and bad) of the former. I'm more courageous, more cautious, more thoughtful--but only because of the things I went through in the previous year. Still, it's progress, and I think we all need to acknowledge the fact that surviving another year is actually a pretty big feat.... *pat on back* So anyways, back to the bike. As my second semester of college (!!!) unravels, I've been adopting a lot of much-needed changes in my life. I've been exercising at least an hour everyday, eating clean, and walking to off-campus places instead of Uber-ing (lord knows how much I spent on Uber alone in the first semester). And speaking of spending, I've also been cutting back on a lot of unnecessary online shopping binge, although Urban Outfitters and Pacsun will always hold a special place in my basic little heart. Thanks to a jet lag-induced schedule shift, now I go to bed and wake up earlier than ever, leaving me plenty of time to be productive and watch documentaries on Netflix (currently working my way through Cowspiracy right now). Overall, I feel more happy, confident, smile-prone, almonds-loving, independent and just satisfied than I ever felt in the first semester. Of course, it might just be because I've finally settled down and carved a bit of a place for myself at college, but either way I welcome these changes with an open heart and much relief. Finally. I think the two biggest take-aways from my "transformation" would be this:

1. Combine your personal goals in creative ways. As much as I have a love-hate relationship with "new years resolutions" (see previous post), I did make a few goals for 2016: be more educated and aware of current events/discourses, and maintain the healthy and active lifestyle I've always kind of half-assed in the previous years. To kill two birds with one stone, I've been watching Ted Talks, and lectures about environmental sustainability and nutrition as I pedal away on the bike or stride my butt off on the elliptical. Now I can educate myself AND sweat up a storm at the same time. Nothing genius, but it's made such a huge difference in how productive I can be within just an hour or so. Here's the Ted Talk I watched today that really resonated with me:

2. Learn to accept and fully feel the pain.  Our society raises us to be stoic and to hardly ever admit our vulnerabilities not just to the general public, but to ourselves as well. But what if we fully embraced the fact that we are hurt, sad, angry, or disappointed the very moment we feel those emotions instead of trying to numb it? From my experiences, numbing the pain has only ever made it come back tenfold and hit me like a tidal wave later on. It never really goes away if you don't confront it at some point, even if you've somehow managed to temporarily convince yourself that it's gone. I think this also applies somewhat to the physical pain we feel when we exercise. Learn to acknowledge and love the burn, seeing it as a sure sign that you are escaping your comfort zone, that you are growing both physically and mentally, that you are a motherfucking warrior! During my last grueling minutes on the bike, I truly felt like my legs were about to detach from my body and fly away in complaint of the soreness I was inflicting on them. Instead of trying to ignore that feeling, I decided to accept it and really zone in on the essence of the pain. When you start zeroing in on a certain feeling, trying to analyze it down to the nitty gritty, it eventually starts to feel normal. I do this when I'm cold as well, by asking myself "but what even is cold? How would I describe this sensation down to its very last detail?" Ya know, pretty philosophical stuff. Google the "paradox of pain" and you'll find some interesting reads. We always believe that we can "get rid of" pain, but ironically enough all that truly entails is that you first accept it, process it, and eventually move on from it. It seems counterintuitive to what we've been taught our whole lives, but perhaps we just haven't been taught the truth.  And on that note, I bring my disorganized ramblings to an end. Glad I finally recovered this blog from the dusty corners of my forgetful mind.