Conquer the fear and get out of your comfort zone

I Stepped Outside Of My Comfort Zone And It Was Wildly Thrilling

Recently, I decided to go a step further, get out of my comfort zone and read at an open mic.

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I am a poet at heart. Recently, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and read at an open mic. I have attended a few and each time it is as exciting as the first. It starts with picking out the best poem to read for that evening's events. I imagine taking experience and creating it in descriptive words that put the reader inside my world and see what I have experienced with rhythmic colorful verses.

As the adrenaline grows in me, I watch the clock eagerly, trying to calm my nerves and focus on the day, not on the night's event. Once I arrive, I find a place in the middle of the room, someplace that I can see everyone arriving. The stage lights are turned on and the microphone is plugged in, and the empty space is ready for its first victim. My adrenaline kicks up a notch. My heart starts beating faster and my palms begin to sweat. I look over the poem on the paper and begin to second guess my selection. The sign-up sheet is set out for everyone to add their name. The first spot is always reserved for a certain regular that has never missed a performance. Several others line up to put their name on the sheet. I never rush this process because I know many won't sign up for the second or third spot, and I it will be mine.

As the writers before me take their turn at the microphone, I watch the crowd and see if they are interested in what the writer is saying, or are they as nervous as I am? Not knowing who any of these people are or if they came to hear a story or poem from a close friend or maybe just need to be entertained in a way many have not thought would be entertaining makes me even more frightened and anxious. Finally, the writer before me has finished and the applause dies down.

The emcee of the open mic event says a few things about the last writer and makes a few comments about coming events for anyone interested in participating. Suddenly it is my turn and I am introduced. "Please welcome Barbara to the stage."

The small crowd claps and I meekly move to the stage and the lights glare into my eyes. I slowly edge closer to the microphone and press my palms to my pant legs to remove the perspiration before touching. For a moment my fight or flight instinct kicks in and I am overwhelmed with a surge of power.

I put on my best smile and introduce myself and the backstory of the poem I have picked out to read. My legs are shaking, and my heart is pounding all the way to my fingertips. I refuse to look out to see if anyone is looking at me. I can feel their eyes focused on me and I keep my eyes on the paper and begin reading. I start to read, and I get through the first few lines and freeze. Losing track of my rhythm and focusing more on the lights and sounds instead of my mission at hand. I apologize and start over. I take a deep breath look out into the audience and let the anticipation of the event disappear from my thoughts.

I begin again and it gets easier as the words take on a life of their own. My heartbeat slows, and even though my legs haven't completely stopped shaking, I endure because I must conquer this fear. I hold the paper up so I can see the crowd watching and listening as I continue. Realizing, I am coming to the end and the fear of no one applauding crosses my mind as I say the final words to my poem and cautiously smile out into the crowd.

Then it happens, the sweet sound of approval. It takes me to a new level of exhilaration. The endorphins have kicked in, I am overwhelmed with a powerful high. The knowledge of conquering my fear, and believing I have been accepted by my peers. As I sit back down and try to listen to the next writer, a few of the participants from the crowd come over to tell me they liked my poem. I thank them as I take deep breaths to bring myself back to reality and unwind before I go home.

The time up on the stage is probably no more than five minutes, but it feels like a lifetime and it flashes before my eyes and then it is over. Part of me wonders why I was so nervous and another part of me never wants to do it again. I need to keep going until it doesn't give me the thrill I am getting from it now. However, that means I will have to find the next place outside of my comfort zone to share what I write.

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6 Things That Shape Us To The Be The Person That We Are Now

Every person has a story that makes them who they are, and even still, we continue to change more and more everyday.
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"Describe something or an event that makes you who you are today."

Sometime in our lives, we've had this question in front of us. Maybe it was when we were submitting our college applications and sent our personal statements to our dream schools. Maybe it was that time we had that nerve-wrecking interview that you seem to never forget about. Or maybe it was a question that someone you just met asked you.

Well, what's the answer? What is something that made you the person that you are today? Now, you find yourself scrambling through a bunch of events that happened in your life. You realize that there were so many things that changed you, even the littlest things that you never thought of. What is the biggest story that really made you the person that you are now? That's the thing, there is no ONE story to describe who you are.

When we think of things that made you the person that you are today, we can put things into categories that help us tell these stories:

1. Family

Coming as person who is super family-oriented, I can say myself that family is a big part of my life. Sometimes, I don't realize how much of an impact they have on me, whether they are my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. As we grow up, we tend to start distancing ourselves from our family, but at the same time, we hold them close to our hearts. We distance ourselves to grow and become independent, but at the end of the day, we know that we are here because of them. We are grateful for them in bringing us into this world and walking with us every step of the way, even when it is hard to. They continue to fight for the best so that we can get the best. You are the person that you are today because they have become role models. You look up to them.

2. Friends

We've all heard of the line, "Friends come and go." I probably cannot count the amount of friends who left my life with only my hands, but that's okay. You will find yourself meeting new people everyday. Sometimes, you become close, and sometimes you fall apart. It is something you cannot control, especially if you've done everything to keep the friendship. Be grateful that you had this friendship. Every person who walks into your life, whether they are different or similar to you, shows you a different perspective of life. They have something to teach you about life. Maybe it was their personality, or maybe it was the way they left your life. Maybe it was those turn outs that taught you something new. Regardless, we all have stories of friends who have shaped our lives for the good or bad. Do you remember the last time you met someone so similar to you, and you wondered where they have been all your life? Well that's just the wonderful thing about friendships - they are countless, exciting, and spontaneous. And they can develop to be even more than a friendship.

3. School, career, and passions

As we decide what we want to do for the rest our lives or just even the track that we want to follow, we run into bumpy roads. Sure, it would be nice if we could just do the things that we wanted to do without struggling. But that's where passion comes in. Passion is what drives us to continue. We find obstacles in front of us that stops us from pursuing what we want to do. These "falls" are something that shape us to be who we are. Our accomplishments are great, but it is the failures that mean even more. Without them, we would not have the strength to get up even better to continue to walk this road. Without them, we would not know what accomplishments are. Without them, we would not know how good it felt when we finally see something great in front of us that we worked so hard for.

4. Relationships

Love is a fascinating, but also a delicate thing. It's crazy what love can do to you. It's even crazier with the feeling that it gives you. It is that feeling that drives us to continue to love so dangerously. Some relationships fail immediately, while some start to fall apart itself slowly - and of course, the ones that last. But regardless of how the relationship ends, there's one thing about all of it. They are all amazing. Why? Because each relationship you had shaped you to be the person you are today. Maybe it shaped your personality, or maybe it shaped your next relationship. Maybe it taught you how you are with another person. Maybe it taught you to love properly, or most importantly - maybe it taught you that you have to love yourself before you let yourself love another person. And just maybe, this is why you are the person you are now.

5. Deaths

Life is an amazing thing, so when we lose someone or see deaths happen around us, it shakes us up. It's crazy how long and short life can be simultaneously. Life is spontaneous, and that's the scary part. Who knows what can happen today? Whenever someone passes, we tell each other, "Cherish the ones you love and care about. Show them what they mean to you before it's too late." Deaths are constant reminders that nothing is forever, but you can make up for that by how you use your days. Maybe there are deaths that push you and motivate you to fight even harder for what you want. Regardless of what the story is, it puts you on the edge of life.

6. Opportunities

We can strive for the best in the things that we want to do, but if you do not take the opportunities to do so, even if you tried - it would not happen. You can tell yourself that you're into a person, and that he/she is someone you've been indirectly looking for all your life, but if you do not take the opportunity to approach this person, there's no point. You can also tell yourself that you are going to make up all the times you've messed up, but if you do not take the opportunities, you will continue to just tell yourself. And that's the thing about life. We are given a countless amount of opportunities in front of us. These chances that we take and turn down is what shapes us up to be the person that we are. We will always think back to the things that we had the chance to do and try, but at the same time, we will always think back to the "What if's" in our lives. It is this that keeps us going and directs us to be the person that we are now.

So the next time someone asks you what shaped you to be the person that you are today, I guess a good way in describing that is - life. There are so many things part of life that we can't tell a person all at once what made us who we are because in reality, everything changes us even when we dont realize it. And that's another thing about life. It's always changing. You are always changing.


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'The Farewell' Brings An Asian-American Narrative To Hollywood

I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.

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The trailer for Lulu Wang's "The Farewell" was recently released. The film, based on Wang's own experience, stars Awkwafina as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who travels to China after learning her grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. "The Farewell" initially debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January, and currently holds a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

"The Farewell" is an exciting film for members of the Asian-American community, as it encompasses many of our own experiences in having family overseas. Having this Asian-American narrative portrayed in Hollywood is especially groundbreaking and important to the community. "Crazy Rich Asians" has received much well-deserved acclaim for its leap in Asian representation, but the film did not necessarily depict a completely relatable experience and was only one story out of many in the Asian-American community. There were aspects of the characters' cultures that allowed the Asian-American audience to connect with much of the film, but the upper-class narrative wasn't quite as accessible to everyone.

While "Crazy Rich Asians" portrays Asians in a way that is very much uncommon in Hollywood and American media in general and had a hand in helping to break stereotypes, "The Farewell" introduces a nearly universal first-generation American or immigrant narrative to Hollywood. In doing so, the film allows many members of the Asian-American community to truly see their own experiences and their own stories on the screen.

For me, the trailer alone was enough to make me tear up, and I've seen many other Asian Americans share a similar experience in seeing the trailer. The film reminds us of our own families, whether it's our grandparents or any other family living overseas. I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.

"The Farewell," which is scheduled for release on July 12, 2019, depicts a family dynamic in the Asian-American experience that hits home for many, including myself. The initial critical response, especially towards Awkwafina's performance, is certainly promising and will hopefully motivate more Asian-American and other minority filmmakers to bring their own stories to Hollywood.

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