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Mexican Holiday and 2019 Review

So I started this post in late November as a simple recap of a trip to Mexico, then it took a turn in late December when I decided to combine it with a year-in-review. It is now May. This post has been really hard and I struggled throughout with trying to articulate my thoughts and feelings in a way that doesn't come across as overly mopey or whiny. I try to keep things positive here but this issue has been clearly impacted all areas of my life, including blogging and photography, so here goes nothing my best shot.


According to the Internet, 2019 was a rough year for everybody (in a whole different way give how 2020 is going so far). During my year-end "highlight/lowlight" review with friends, my mind was still preoccupied by a recent car accident I was in earlier that week. They all sympathetically agreed that was an understandable lowlight and a rough way to end the year. But when the party was over and I was working on this post, it suddenly occurred to me what was the true low of my 2019.


In my last post (which was quite a while ago now), I shared a little bit on the struggle of dressing for my "growth spurt" and how I'm trying to rebuild my closet. But it's not just about the clothes. It's not about being less skinny or thinking I don't look good. It's about constantly feeling bad, and on top of that, there's a lot of guilt in feeling this way at all. Especially when people say "I think you still look great!" That type of dismissal, while well-intentioned, hurts the most. It underscores how bad I feel even though I'm trying to do the right things like going to the gym, eating (mostly) healthy, maintaining a regular lifestyle. I couldn't understand why I was feeling unhappy a lot, even though I was trying to do the same things that used to make me happy.


I still tried to keep up with my fashion photography, one of the few sure-fire things that sparked joy. I still felt the passion but I didn't like how I looked in my photos. All my poses felt stiff and my smiles felt fake. The posts themselves had to be cut shorter because I had trouble putting outfits together. I would plan them fine in my head but then abandon them once I saw how it looked on my now-foreign meat suit.

I felt like a brain implanted in a new body, in full control, but the body doesn't feel like a part of me.


At some point, my body dysmorphia started making me question the choices I've made in life. Before I knew it, it had escalated into a full-blown identity crisis. I feel like I gave up who I was to be this nobody and not know who I am.

People always say the path to self-discovery is a journey, but it feels like I've started down a long path and I haven't gotten anywhere yet. I'm really far from where I used to be and there's no turning back. But I also haven't gotten anywhere, so I'm just in the middle of nowhere. I'm incredibly frustrated that I gave up being somewhere to be nowhere. I want to trust that I'll get somewhere new eventually, but where and when will that be?? It's hard to even have that trust because I'm the one driving and I know for a fact that I don't know where the heck I'm going.


This part of the story doesn't have a happy ending because I'm still living it. I haven't figured out the answer yet, I'm just taking baby steps to try to feel a little bit better each day. Some days are better, but some are harder. On the worst days, I can't make it to the office because I can't get dressed for work. The social distancing has been a cop out in that way. I feel less pressure to figure things out but I also feel myself stagnating and additionally anxious for when I'll have to reintegrate into society.

In stark contrast, one of the most positive impacts to my journey was the Mexican holiday in mid-November -- which definitely ranks as my highlight of 2019. It was my first time in Mexico and my first resort experience.


Before the trip, I was a bit nervous about being bored and anticipating feeling guilty from doing nothing (burn-out generation, represent~). All my previous vacation trips were jam-packed with activities, leaving me more tired by the end of it ("I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!") but this was totally different.

On top of the incredibly beautiful wedding of our friends, everything was so lovely and perfect. I feel as if I finally learned how to practice active relaxing, mindfulness, and pure enjoyment.


And for the first time in a long while, I wasn't just a brain anymore. And maybe it was the open bar and the (many) mango mojitos but I felt connected to everything from the top of my head burning in the sun to the tips of my toes dipping in the ocean. I danced and twirled and did cartwheels down the beach, gripping the sand in my fists and feeling the grains sift through my fingers.



To be honest, I debated for a long time whether to post these photos, really worried they're too self-indulgent. There's still a lot of hesitation and anxiety putting my current self out there but when I look at these photos, I remember how genuinely happy I felt in those moments. It's the new bar that I try to keep in mind, although I recognize it's is a high one. I can't just keep running off to Mexico (probably), so I'll need to learn how to find that feeling wherever I am.


Another highlight I want to take the the time to acknowledge is the amazing support I've been receiving from my loving significant other. Nick has been incredibly patient and understanding and such a comfort during exceptionally devastating lows. He's also the one who suggested we take some Muay Thai photos on the beach to celebrate my new form and growing muscles. While I'm still struggling some low days and working on my abs, I love that I'm getting stronger and excited with my progress in training.

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WOW it is such a relief to finally be done with this post! I know it was long overdue but I was really stuck. It feels great to be able to get all this off my chest and get back into blogging. Next on the docket is a big batch of photos from Thailand, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading :)

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Full gallery of Mexico photos here: http://zhangling.photography/8mexico/


Comments

  1. Thanks for opening up something so personal, Linda. While I may not have much wisdom to offer on your journey to self-discovery, I do want to reassure you, as I'm sure many others in your life already do, that I love you for you, regardless of how you feel about yourself or what your self-identity may be.

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    1. For some reason, my comment registers as from an Unknown user. Anyway, this is E.

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    2. You are the sweetest, I miss you so much.

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