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You could call smiling one of my specialties. The impact of a smile keeps the peace and love in the world going, the passive expression of saying “ Everything’s okay, I’m here to be happy and conquer whatever comes.” People sometimes tell me that I smile too much. “ Trang, you’re always smiling, you could be in pain with a broken toe and I wouldn’t know because you’re always smiling.” I used to think smiling was “phony” or people did it to get something they wanted. Through the course of life, smiling has seeped its way into my daily routine, bringing out its genuine goal instead of the superficiality it may suggest today. My life wasn’t all smiles and such though.

Born into a low income family, my dad’s main goal was to raise children who were not wasteful. Not being wasteful meant eating until every single grain of rice was cleared from the bowl. If my brother and I had any food remaining, we had to stay at the table until we did. Sometimes I would sit there for hours and hours on end, dreading eating a few pieces of dry meat. Eating everything did have its downfalls; for example I was a relatively inactive kid who immensely hated physical activity. As a result of being inactive and eating a lot of food, I grew up clinically overweight.

Being clinically overweight did not necessarily attract the best attention as a little girl. Everywhere I went , there were voices. The “voices” were mainly from my relatives. At family parties, parent conversations consisted of how I needed to watch what I ate, aunts asking my mom why I was so chubby, questions about what size I wore for clothing. I never wore jeans, jeans gave me an uncomfortable feeling with its thick denim waistline. I refrained from being fashionable because I couldn’t fit anything stylish right.

I started swimming at the age of 4, but never swam competitively until 7th grade. My dad was the reason why I started swimming and am still swimming today. My dad was diagnosed with liver cancer when I was in the second grade. The day he was diagnosed till now, everything that his cancer did to him impacted me. He started to take walks at the beach every day, walking to early 6:30 am morning mass, sacrificing all he had for my brother’s and I education. One of the things cancer influenced my dad to do was to sign us up in a sport. He saw swimming as a low impact and rewarding sport, my life took a toll for change. Swimming trimmed me into shape, exercising nearly 3 hours everyday for 7th and 8th grade from Physical Education and swimming on a competitive club swim team. The comments about my weight stopped and compliments started pouring in.

My dad passed away the January of 8th grade, 2012. His passing made me realize that he did not let himself decay away with the terrible disease called cancer. My dad took every moment in life and made it worth it. He did whatever he did to put my brother and I ahead of the game, so that we could prosper in the future. His passing meant that I lost my biggest supporter, a father figure to guide me, and the reason why I started swimming.

It took me a while to get used to it. I’m still not used to the change. In the freshmen year, I noticed that I lost the hard working aspect of myself. I had no one to support my decisions, my mom worked for six days a week from eight to six. I was still swimming, training with the Varsity school team. At that time I didn’t notice it, but I developed extremely unhealthy eating habits. I would eat a microwavable Egg-McMuffin at 12 am and chug down chocolate milk, all day everyday. I would eat bars and bars of Hershey’s chocolate bars on end. I did not notice how broken I was as a human being.

It wasn’t until the summer of freshman year that I noticed that I gained unhealthy weight that affected how I felt about myself. I remember the day clearly, the option of eating healthy flashed into my mind for one instant second, and that was the day my life changed. At first, I ate healthy for physical appearance, to appear slim. Two years later, current day now, my main priority in eating healthy is to be and feel healthy. There were times when swimming felt like a burden on my life, but I was quick to realize that I am swimming for my dad. My dad is inside me. His words and legacy speak through my actions. I am now looking into the field of health science with a desire to transform the world a healthier place so that maybe people with illnesses may have the confidence that my dad did and to live out lives that impact others, just like my dad did to me. I am Trang Truong, a “just keep swimming” is my life motto. trang

Expired Friendships

I once believed that any people I made friends with would stay with me forever. The first friend that I had was in Vietnam, when I was in first grade. That friendship ended abruptly because I had to move to California, but we weren’t close enough for me to feel sad about it. To be honest, I wasn’t close with anyone in elementary school except with three people. When we all entered middle school, one of the girls went to a different school so naturally we grew apart, although I would catch up with her occasionally over email (old school, I know). At the end of middle school, I was close with two of the girls that I knew from elementary school and one new girl, X, Y, and Z. At that point in life, I thought, “This is it. These are going to be my bestest friends until I die.”

Little did I know, high school would change that. In freshman year, X, Y and I were in the same high school. We had a blast and a lot of jokes in freshman year and everything was pretty stable. By sophomore year, I had to leave X and Y, however, I get to join Z. We barely texted or caught up with each other in freshman year so I thought this would be a perfect time to rekindle this friendship. At the beginning of sophomore year, we hung out during lunch but we didn’t have any classes together so naturally I started eating lunch with my cousin and/or study during lunch in the bathroom, which I didn’t mind really. Sophomore year was just a really uneventful and depressing year to be honest. I also rarely talked to X or Y, and now I was drifting from Z.

But junior year is going to be different, or so I thought, for a good few months! By the summer of sophomore year I was talking to X a lot and as usual, we always joked and laughed and gossiped, like all normal teenagers. The first two months of school we hung out a total of five times and I was so happy that we got to share and make memories rather than reminiscing about freshman year, which by now, is like a light year away. However, from November to January, X wasn’t texting me as much and even when X did, the conversations were quite weird. I knew X’s parents were getting a divorce, but I still felt being thrown out of the loop as X never really mentioned any details, to which I guess I could understand, but you have to know that we’ve been friends for seven years. In January, we finally hung out at a school sports event and X told me we needed to hang out every time there was a home game. I was obviously excited…until I realized that that was never going to happen. For 5 weeks straight after that, every time I asked, X would come up with excuses-real situations or not- X never carried out those promises and I was angry,internally. I didn’t want to call X out for that because X’s dad was my ride and I didn’t want to seem rude or anything.

Two months after that, we finally hung out, once in March and another time at X’s house. Things were going good until X decided to be with this guy, who I never approved of. Just going by looks, he seems sketchy and he smokes. X would tell Y and I some of their private things and every time, I said I didn’t care because I just don’t like the guy. Usually X wouldn’t care, but this time around, X started dismissing my thoughts and simply just said “I’m maturing”.

So I guess I’m ALSO maturing by slowly breaking ties with X. Recently last week, I’ve been deleting X’s messages and other social medias. It might seem petty, but I don’t feel like wasting any more of my time with a “friend” who doesn’t really have my best interest in their mind. Seven years mean absolutely nothing anyway, because we had already drifted in sophomore year. I don’t think I care to “talk it out” with X. To me, it’s not worth communicating with someone who just doesn’t have the same mindset or goals as you do. So, I guess the moral of this post is to go and open your eyes. See who will be there for you and will care for your opinions, because that mean that you are significant enough in their life for them to listen to you and care for what YOU have to say.

“Some people come in your life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons”

Only the ones that stay matter.

Only the ones that stay matter.

[Photo@2005 by Hotrodhomepage (CC BY 2.0)]

Trials

There’s many trials in life. Trials are there to define a person. Some trials are harder than others, like getting over a loss. Some trials are from within the person, to accomplish a goal or become the best he/she can be. It’s easy to see trials as big giant monsters out to get you, easy to give up in. I am facing a trial right now. The trial is the result of laziness and procrastination. I came into junior year motivated with an goal to get straight A’s; here I am mid second semester withe the worst grades I’ve ever had. They result from laziness. Too lazy to wake up and finish an online assignment on time. Too lazy to type a whole legit essay. Too lazy for my own good. Too lazy to work on AP Art. The truth is, laziness builds up into its own consequence. When the consequence is made, out of it comes stress, lots and lots of stress. One starts doubting his/herself and there is no definite solution to the problem. I have dug a hole for myself, accomplishing not much in AP Art, so now I have about 16 art pieces in the time span of two or so weeks. I will be spending about 6-9 hours each day on art alone. I have never done such a thing in my life, but I believe that this is a trial along with balancing my other classes and raising up grades that I know my former hard-working self would be capable up. Now that I’m in a hole, I have a reason to get out. I made my own problem, and with about 2 months of school left, I gotta work hard and fix it. Trials will be there. Trials will be out to get you. But if you keep you head held high and work your butt off, it’s going to end better than you expected. Trials will come and go, and it is you that will change.

Trials will be worth it if you make them worth it.

tired 2

Tough Love to Love

I love my life. There is nothing I dislike. Everyday when I go to school, I have someone to talk to in each class. I am constantly surrounded by people from all walks of life with stories each different from another. There are people who do not like me, and I am okay with that. I have dreams that I have doubts about. All. The. Time. I stutter sometimes. Sometimes so bad that I make a fool out of myself as I try to get the point across that I participate in class. But it allows me to value what I say much more. I am sixteen and I’ve never had a boyfriend or had a boy confess his feelings to me like the way how media romanticizes it; I’ve seen all my friends around me get into relationships, third-wheeled one or more than a couple times.. and I am glad I am able to say that.

As I look on my Twitter feed, I can’t help but feel anger for everything that causes the insecurity and romanticism of sadness in this world. Teenage girls with posts that say “I’m lonely” or “all I want is a boy to like me back”. The posts I read on Twitter reminds me of what I like to call, my “Freshmeat phase”.

The “Freshmeat phase” I am talking about does not refer to freshman year of high school. Even though I experienced the phase in freshman year of high school,  it can relate at any age. My “Freshmeat phase” was a phase in which I was constantly insecure. I filled my insecurities by having crushes on boys.It sounds lame and completely normal, but let me emphasize. Every time I had a crush on a guy, I devoted my time to thinking about him, constantly distracted from everything else. When I liked a guy, he was the center of my life. He was solely the only thing I was interested in.

My “Freshmeat phase” was a phase that I didn’t know how lost I was as a person. I didn’t realize it until I told the first boy I liked in high school that I liked him and he told me that he didn’t like me back. It didn’t hit me until I realized that I was friend-zoned for the first time in my life. It didn’t hit me until I got over it six months later.

After my “Freshmeat phase” I changed as a person. I stopped having crushes on boy after boy, while every other girl around me talked about who they liked. As I was changing as a person, I felt left out from the hype of liking somebody and talking to best friends about it. Soon I found out that I didn’t mind it . It was a peaceful feeling, not letting a boy take over my life and emotions.

So why is this blog post called “Tough Love to Love”? It’s because the “Freshmeat phase” was the turning point to how I viewed love. I am so glad and blessed that I got friend-zoned freshman year of high school; it prepared me to be protective of my emotions for the years to come. I no longer looked for love just for the hype of it. I was learning to take the energy I would put into crushes and put it in myself.

Sophomore year, the year following the “Freshmeat phase” was the best year of my life. The acne that was caused by stressing out cleared away. I found myself super happy every single day, smiling everywhere even when no one was around me. That year, I third wheeled more than ever. I hung out with friends from all walks of life.  Felt left out from the hype of crushing on a guy more than ever. But that loneliness made me feel whole again. I was learning, and never have a felt more free.

.friends

The year after, present day now, I don’t think about guys constantly. I can proudly say that I have gone a long way since freshman year. I’ve made goals that I know I will reach if I dedicate myself enough. My Spanish teacher once told me that everything happens for a reason, and the past two years have made it possible to see that what he said is completely true. I was friend-zoned in freshman year so I could enjoy the rest of my high school career, finding the love I was worthy of and capable of spreading.

That’s Life

Today was my first weekend lab for AP Bio. We did it on a weekend because there isn’t enough time during one period to do the lab so we had to come in either Saturday or Sunday to do it. I went today, Sunday. The lab took 4 hours long. It started off well. What we basically had to do was:

1. Put the DNA samples into little tubes with enzymes to cut up the DNA.

2. Incubate it in a hot water bath for an hour.

3. Make the gel for the electrophoresis part of the lab.

4. Put the DNA samples into the gel.

5. Run the electrophoresis machine.

We did all of these steps right and we were on track to end our lab at the exact time it was intended to end. But then came along step 6:

6. Take the gel out of the electrophoresis machine and put it in a tray.

This was the downfall of our 4 hour lab. Everything we did in the past four hours came down to this and it ended horribly. What actually happened was:

6. Attempt to take the gel out of the machine, only for it to slip and fall on the table.

At first, we thought, “Oh it’s fine, it’s just slightly bent, everything’s okay we can just pick it up and put it on the tray.” But then it got worse:

The gel snapped in half.

Everyone in my group just stood there for a while trying to process what just happened. Once we processed it, we tried to pick up the two pieces and put it on the tray. In the process of picking up the first piece:

It snapped in half again.

Now not only did we break the gel once, we broke it twice. Once we finally put the gel pieces in the tray, we tried really hard in pushing them together so it looked like it was still intact. After we put the tray in a safe spot so it can sit for 24 hours, we all started laughing. We all thought, “What were the odds that we would be that group.” Nobody was angry, we just figured what’s done is done. I was the one that was laughing the most; I laughed the whole car ride home. I don’t really know why but I found the whole thing hilarious. But I guess that’s life. Sometimes you work really hard only for it to fail in the end. But it’s okay because you get a good laugh out of it. I think that if I had the choice of going back in time to change it so the gel wouldn’t break, I wouldn’t because it was freaking hilarious. Sometimes you just got to find the good things in bad situations to make everything better.

Here’s the gel just in case you guys wanted to see it

gel

A Slow Death

Sometimes I wonder if I am truly alive…alive not because I have a functioning heart and body systems, but more of in a spiritual sense. Am I really present at this moment? How do I know life if I haven’t experienced death? But think about it…maybe you and I have both experienced death already. The death that seeps through you when you are wasted, worn-out, and haggard. The past two mornings, waking up has been the hardest part of my day. I feel the comfort slowly fading away as I move a limb, my fingernails digging into my palm as I try to get my blood flowing, and my eyeballs sinking down to my face. Being asleep is nothing more than death without the commitment. Likewise, being exhausted while you are awake is nothing more than being dead while you are alive. I might as well be dead if I feel this tired.

What differs me from a corpse is my heart. The corpse is free from the fragile feelings. It has rid of all negative feelings, every regret, every happiness it once felt. I am different. I cannot not choose to shut down my feelings. These are the three steps of hell: Hatred, sadness, and jealousy. I am constantly surrounded by the people that are affected by these vicious emotions, and if life is cruel enough, it will send me this broken glass. No, it’s not a lemon-lemons are filled with vitamins to give you strength, every time you consume it. Life? That’s funny. Life never guarantees you a free ride to Heaven or Hell. You are here: the purgatory. Why? Because we are being taught how to balance life by knowing both life and death at the same time. So even if you are smart and agile enough to spot this broken glass from 2 feet away, truth be told, you will still suffer from fresh scars. Unfortunately, you keep coming back to your mistakes no matter how hard you try. There are no gloves to shield you from upcoming scars, you are naked, you are human. However, don’t complain. Others have it worse-they are so much like a living corpse that they go through life completely unaware and and completely unprepared. Their reaction to this broken glass is undeniably different. No matter how hard others try to warn them, just like how an individual is blinded by love, they can only see their path as hopeless and dark.

It’s sad to know that it is harder for someone to achieve happiness than others. Being happy is a privilege but it can happen for anyone, at anytime, and anywhere. Sometimes, you just cannot choose to be happy, because sometimes your situation just doesn’t offer you any kind of happiness. You cannot deny the fact that Kendall and Kylie Jenner are born with many privileges. Those privileges give birth to happiness and a sense of protection and contentment. Sure, if I get into a car accident and die you might guess that I can choose to be “happy” because I no longer feel any pain…but how do you know that? You don’t. Because I no longer have an opportunity, a chance, a privilege to even feel anymore.

Photo @2006 by Dorothy (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Photo @2006 by Dorothy
(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)