I’ve read a couple of times (I would love to say that in some classical books, just to sound sophisticated, literated and cultural, but actually I bet it has been in Tumblr-like pictures, Facebook posts and such) that you have to lose yourself before finding out who you actually are. For me this has been completely true, and in addition to that you have to also be criticised, brought down, fall into pieces… and then when building yourself back up you find out what you are made of.
I would love to say there has been a key moment in my life: a ray of light trespassing the ceiling and bringing with it the answer I have so long needed without knowing. Or maybe a key person: an old man who once told me under an oak tree that I should find the light inside myself before wanting to leave the darkness. But… no. I actually believe I have lost and found myself once and over again along the years and every single time I am totally different. Oh, and not to forget that I will probably lose myself a thousand times more before I shall rest in my grave… hoping every single time to come back to an Ericka ready to keep on walking along.
I have lost myself in sadness. Not the sadness that makes you drown in a sea of tears and comes out of your throat in cries begging to be consoled. But the type of sadness that makes your stomach a knot, your eyes grow darker. Your mind wakes up every day just to run back to lost moments, the questions you never asked and the memories you are afraid to lose. You find no joy in anything and the plate that rests in the table in front of you is full of nothingness. You breathe, you walk, but you are not there. Of course, you cannot show it so your mouth curves into smiles, your mind spits out the appropiate comments in the right momment and you are there… or well, you look like you are still there. Whatever makes you sad becomes a tabboo and when someone gets even close to touching that topic you throw them a question. (because most people love talking about themselves instead of listening what is actually wrong with you)
And days went by, weeks went by, months went by… and my memories were starting to fade. All of a sudden the voice I wanted to hear every morning started becoming quieter. The smell from that jacket was fading. The perfume bottle I kept in secret in my drawers lost its meaning… That’s when everything started crumbling down. That’s when you cannot keep it inside… and that was when while browsing through old pictures I found a video. 30 seconds of a video which was taken by mistake, like when you want to take a picture and take a video instead… and in that video that voice is clear and sound. That laugh is alive… and I am back to my five senses. Smiling, crying, feeling… missing and over all: accepting.
I found Ericka… a stronger Ericka.
I have lost myself in perfectionism. I’ve lost myself in plans, perfectly detailed plans. No space for mistakes, no gap for changes, everything fitted perfectly according to what I wanted… or well, what I thought I wanted. I remember myself as someone who would keep track of everything; competitive, ambitious and with the highest expectations about every single task I would take over. The fact that everyone would think of me as someone created for success did not help either, it is nice to be considered smart but not nice at all when that word defines you and once you fail… well, what is left of who you are then? I did not understand that this constant fight against odds to not disappoint others or myself was fear of failure…. so I was used to winning, turning myself into the worst loser: one who does not even try to avoid losing.
I don’t know in what moment I woke up from this… maybe it was when I saw all my high school classmates talking about their college plans and I found myself just waiting for a scholarship answer which I was not even sure was going to come. Or probably it was when I received my first 18% in a Physics evaluation just the second week of college. Oh, 18/100… let me clear that up. I could defend myself saying that that Physics quiz was actually an evaluation of our Calculus skills… and I did not have Calculus class in high school. But what I saw in there, written in red ink was an 18. No excuses. No reasons. Just that number.
I was not the first one in my university from the international students to get that type of grade
(not the first one and not the last one) and that could have actually been considered as my initiation into NTU. I even joked about it… but deep down they had just crushed the little mini-me inside my head which believed success had my name on it. It was not nice, but it was necessary. I learned how to leave pride aside and ask for help, forget my self-sufficient perception, and over all… laugh about failures. Of course, now I am careful not to fall into mediocrecy but just to lay down in that thin line of not taking it personally when my three pages procedure homework gets a C- and the person next to me got an A+ for their one page, ink-written-just-answers homework.
And that developed into losing fear of failure. That grew up to an Ericka who would try running even though she was one of the worst ones in her PE class. That transformed into an Ericka who would bike around Taiwan even when two years ago she did not even know how to ride a bike. That would create an Ericka who would actually try new things even when she knows she will suck at them.
I found Ericka… a braver Ericka.
And these are just two stories of times I have lost myself and found myself. I actually have a million… I have lost myself in pride, in love, in school, in appearances, in doubts, in problems, in drama, in lies, etc. and I am not afraid to accept my many many failures and wrong doings because at the end I am just human. A tiny human being who makes mistakes over and over again, who eats the lunch she had cook for next day at 1am in the morning while watching that episode of the TV show she promised six episodes ago she would not watch over 5 episodes in a row…
I am that human being who sometimes caves into peer pressure. That human being who buys more than what she actually needs. That human being who procrastinates for hours just to find herself doing everything last minute. That human being who promises to go to the gym today and ends up going the day after tomorrow.
And you are too.
Of course, I still believe you are dust of unicorn mixed with cheesecake and a bit of Netflix free subscription. I still think we all are unique and amazing and capable of anything…
but if at any point you fail, I fail, he fails, she fails, they fail, we fail… we shall remember we are just human and that we are less “complete” than what we show to the world, less “strong” than what we wish we were, less “cool” than what our Instagram account shows, less “intellectual” than our Facebook posts read, less “fun” than what our Snapchat story shows, less “pretty” than our Whatsapp display picture, less “amazing” than a blog writes we are, and we are more flawed than what we would like. And that does not mean we are not real… it actually just proves: we are still humans and we are coping with it.
And I know it is scary to accept all these flaws, and even more: to show them to those you care about. What if after all you are not that person they created in their mind? Oh dear, that is the best part of all… the moment when true friendship, true caring, true love begins: once they choose to stay with the real you and help you find youself every time you lose track of your own steps.
So I hope you too, lose yourself a thousand times… just to find a brighter, a happier, a smarter, a stronger version of you waiting at the end of the tunnel.
And with this post I innaugurate my official domain: erickabastias.com
Maybe some of you did not notice but I disappeared this blog for a while, I moved it into a secret link and promised myself to never write again… I lost myself in self-consciousness, on what picture I was giving of myself by every post I wrote… what would others think? Was I too cheesy? Or too selfish? Was I revealing too much of myself to an open world?
But then I found myself back again this past Saturday while the waves kissed my feet, the breeze of the ocean was making my hair a total mess, and there was a silent full of answers… and I just understood: we should just try to keep with the bright side of every little thing. And my bright side of this blog is that I actually love writing and sharing and the bad side, well the bad side can just go to hell… so as a promise to myself and my dear readers I decided to pay for my domain for a whole year as a way of compromising myself to keep on going!
So… yeah. We are back, and we are back to stay.
I found Ericka… a crazy-optimistic-romantic-full of crazy stories-writter Ericka.