[I’m writing this cross legged in the basement ground floor of the foodcourt at an Eslite building. Busy patrons and employees shuffle around the area, with traffic coming in for dinner goers. I have my AirPods in and just a laptop with boba from Tian Ren.]
My eldest auntie from Canada had sent my father a text before she left Taiwan.
“Emily’s so mature now—she has really changed.”
I was surprised, as I had barely spoken to her at our most recent family reunion. I had politely acknowledged her, smiled, and said “Da Gu hao.” In English, it’s a respectful way of acknowledging her as the oldest aunt on my dad’s side.
My father mentioned it was the way I carried myself. Though few words were exchanged, he mentioned I seemed to have a certain self assurance and confidence about myself that surprised her.
As I thought about this more, I think about the transformational mindsets I’ve gone through this past decade.
I had changed jobs more than I can count, worked for startups and corporates, started a YouTube channel and company, got stuck in another country and started to work there, as well as seen and traveled parts of the world that I wanted to. In my 20s, I grew a sense of hyperindependence (almost to a point where it may have become toxic), becoming the person I wanted to be so no one could hurt me or break me.
Someone who didn’t need anyone else, someone who could cut people off and easily move forward, someone who ran full force at anything she wanted. This was a huge powerful persona for me, but throughout the process, I realized you become intouchable and lonely. There was a shadow side of this persona.
To not be vulnerable was to not let people in.
To not care was to not be able to love.
To run head first often sometimes meant hard and unnecessary conflict.
Thanks to TikTok (haha), I’ve been learning a lot about masculine and feminine energy. I’ve been in my masculine energy these past 10 years, basically trying to keep my shit together and sustain this hyper independent persona I had built up so strongly. But these days, I would rather be in my feminine energy. I am learning how to receive help, how to think things more thoroughly and thoughtfully, while being more open and receiving to care (especially from men that I date).
I felt like I had run everywhere and anywhere I wanted to. Not to say I had seen the world, but I am very happy with how I lived out my 20s. These vibrant memories of color, wild, and experiences are something I wish I could bottle up and experience from time to time. There’s not a lot I want to check off my bucket list, except build a physical product (like organic tea) or community center in Taiwan or someplace I loved, buy a cozy home, fall in love and have a family however that may look like, and ensure my parents’ health and safety so they can enjoy their life as retired folks.
But now as I near 30, a settling warm cloud of peace drifts into my life; I crave comfort and serenity. I crave coming home to someone and a place I have rooted in. I crave a collection of plants nestled in a corner, with a beam of sunshine peeking through the windows. I crave quiet nights with a glass of wine, romantic movie, and cuddling up on a couch while bantering and sharing our thoughts. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if our suitcases lingered by the door and we were off jet setting once a month to someplace new.
I crave peace from time to time. I enjoy sitting by myself at a cafe with my AirPods in and typing away at an essay or sitting on the bus, watching the outside. I have happily built a tight knit community with friendships I find meaningful and found projects I am passionate about.
I wonder if that type of peace could be created in a space that is stable, consistent, and shared.
The sense of care becomes stronger.
What does it mean to take better care of myself and to begin taking care of others?
I find myself thinking about how I’ve been mostly selfish in my 20s, climbing, tumbling, and exploring places. Where I wanted to go, I could go. I was a free bird without constraints and I flew to various places, but sometimes, I’d perch on a tree unsure where to head next.
I was a tightly wound fist for the past years, somewhat hardened and abrasive, ready to fight if needed, I was compact and unrelenting. I have met many wonderful people in my life and witnessed very happy moments of friends that I realized I cannot have without unfurling.
I want to take care of my parents, take care of my adorable nephew, as well as take care of a partner.
Being able to love and care for someone is a life experience I’d like to have too. I know I have the capacity and want to take care of others. The scary thing is allowing myself to.