Letting go

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goodbye stuffThis weekend, instead of heading to the stores to endure the pains of Black Friday shopping, I am at my parents’ trying to make sense of the boxes and boxes of things I had to leave behind when I swiftly moved to San Francisco. If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that I tried to purge a lot of my personal belongings before the recent move. And I’m happy to report that the purging continues with me packing three garbage bags full of clothes to donate.

I am obsessed with the idea of decluttering for a few reasons. One, I have moved so many times in the past five years and having to cart around so much unnecessary stuff has been a pain in the booty. Two, I have had the opportunity to live in a number of places where space is more limited. My aunt and uncle live in Hong Kong and seeing their neat and concise living area was very interesting to me.

It also generally matches my interest in living a more engaged life. I realized that I was spending a lot of my money on stuff I just didn’t need and wasting time in the acquisition of these items. The stuff was taking up space in my home and generally making it a less copacetic living environment.

A few years ago, I attended a seminar on decluttering your life put on by my business school. The speaker shared common reasons why people hold onto junk as well as tips for pushing through and ridding your life of things holding you back. I took notes on the session, which I’ll share here.

When you’re looking at the thing that you own, these are some things you should think about:

1) Do you love the thing and are you using it? This is the quintessential question to ask yourself as you assess what to keep and what to give away. I also use the question “Do I love this?” when I’m shopping. I have enough stuff so unless something is extraordinary, it’s not worth buying.

2) When you hold onto something, you are choosing not to let something new come in. This is true for things as well as relationships, your job, and anything else that you might be holding onto. You have to think about opportunity costs– the things you could be enjoying instead of the thing you are holding onto today.

3) If you haven’t looked at something for 8-10 years, is it really relevant to your life today? If you are a different person today, the things that you own and use should match that.

4) The 80/20 rule applies. You will use 20% of your stuff 80% of the time. I find that this is particularly true with my clothes which is what got me started on purging my wardrobe.

The speaker said that there are lots of costs to life clutter. I mentioned the opportunity cost– that you prevent yourself from other better stuff by being too focused on the mediocre stuff presently in your life. There are also financial costs. Your energy stagnates. Clutter makes you confused and lethargic and the immensity of the situation can make you procrastinate from making changes. There is the avoidance of the pain that can lead to the emotional and personal breakthrough that can lead you to a better place in life.

When it comes to clutter, there are different reasons people do it. There is the “just in case” excuse. I am guilty of this one. I hold onto things because I think that I may need it in the future.

Sometimes things create our identity and we’re afraid that if we give them up, we will lose something of who we are. I think this one is applicable in bigger ways. This sense of identity relates to us keeping crap, holding onto relationships that no longer serve their purpose or staying in life situations, like a job.

Sometimes holding onto things and not thinking about it prevents us from having to face unpleasant things. Status quo, though imperfect, can be a more comfortable option than facing our fears and mistakes and making changes in our lives. I know that this one is true for me. I’m a pretty frugal person and when I have to look at things I have wasted my money on, I feel really bad.

For me, though I hate facing these mistakes, I do feel a sense of freedom and happiness from acknowledging the things that I don’t want and need in my life and taking small steps to rid myself of these energy-sucks and moving on. This opportunity really excites me and I’m happy for the small progress I have made this weekend.

I hope everyone can find some things in their lives that are impeding happiness and find ways to remove these impediments. It feels great to do so!

I hope everyone continues to enjoy a great Thanksgiving weekend!

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Thankful

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thankfulIt’s common at this point in the year for people to stop and take stock of all the blessings they have in their lives. This being a particulary trying year for me, it seems appropriate to look back at true, the many travails, but also the many things that I have to be thankful for.

So it was a tough year. I started the year feeling pretty “eh” about my job owing to the histrionics of some coworkers (including the creepy one that started cyberstalking me later in the year) and just general ennui about the state of my work. Early interviews didn’t yield anything that I felt strongly about taking on and then I was laid off in July. It was a really tough time.

But “from the ashes a fire shall be woken” (a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien). The day I was let go, I was contacted by a former colleague and it started the ball rolling on the job that I am now in. I’m pretty happy in my job and I feel really lucky that I was able to have this former colleague vouch for me and help me secure the role. The takeaway in this is the importance of being good to people.

Now, this probably sounds like me gloating, like “oooh, ooh, I’m so good and this is how I got ahead.” I don’t really feel this way. Throughout my unemployment period, when I would reach out to people for help, I felt really awkward and uncomfortable, like I was asking people to do things for me when in fact I had never done things for them. I felt like I hadn’t earned their kindness. The generosity was overwhelming with people saying to me that they believed in me and that they were happy to help. One guy, with whom I had only worked a short time, mentioned to me that he had always thought me very talented, a comment that really made my day.

I don’t always do the right thing. I am often self-centered and I have many areas of my personality, attitude and life that I need to continue to improve upon. So I guess, in this regard, what I’m thankful of is that people can overlook my missteps and be generous in their perceptions of me. And I guess the takeaway is that I need be and do the same.

Very quickly, I had to move out of my old apartment into a new place and by some marvel of serendipity and luck, I was able to secure the first apartment that I looked at just one day after accepting the new job. I have a great apartment and considering how expensive it is to live in the Bay Area, I pay comparatively very little in rent (thank Jesus for rent control!) Life is good. My favorite thing about my neighborhood is that I can run from my apartment to and through Golden Gate Park. Sometimes, when I’m running and life is just so good, I think: wow, I can’t believe this is my life. I really feel happy that things worked out.

And then just generally, I guess I feel thankful that I do have a good and solid life. I have a good family, good friends and though things aren’t perfect, I have the foundation for creating happiness in my life and hopefully, for creating happiness in the lives of those around me. I don’t know that I’m always successful at either but I know that I try. I know in the new year, I will have to continue to find ways to do both, with probably a heavier emphasis on the latter.

So that’s it from me for now. Probably won’t be posting for at least a week so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Is a quarter life crisis really a “thing”?

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sadnessIt’s the hump day of the week before a holiday (read: super short) week. I got a ton of shizzle done and I’m generally being awesome so woot for me!

A week or so ago, I met up with a former coworker who despite having made a few substantial changes in his life, admitted that he was still struggling. Sometimes changes can be disappointing: you hope that that next thing– be it a job, a relationship, a home– will be way, way better than your last thing and when it doesn’t live up to that heightened expectation, it’s a big bummer. I couldn’t begin to diagnose the true cause of this person’s ennui but it dawned on me much after the fact that perhaps he was just having his quarter life crisis.

The quarter life crisis is based on the midlife crisis. But whereas in your midlife crisis you wonder: “did I make the right decisions in my life?” and then you run off to buy a luxury vehicle to assuage that sense of inner angst, with your quarter life crisis you don’t have the money to self-medicate in such an over-the-top way. The best you can do is buy yourself a really big cheap burrito and really that’s only satisfying for a few hours at most. Then you finish off that bottle of Two Buck Chuck and you cry yourself to sleep.

The quarter life crisis is really that transition period between all the bounties of college and the harsh realizations of real, adult life (or something somewhat resembling it). From personal experience, I feel like it starts when you have that panicked moment, when you simultaneously look at your career, your lifestyle, the money you have in the bank, your relationships and you scream (perhaps in your head, perhaps out loud), “What the fuck?! Did my bold ambitions and idyllic upbringing really groom me for this shitbag of a life?!”

I can’t really pinpoint the moment I descended into my quarter life crisis. I graduated from college right as the Silicon Valley tech bubble burst so my quarter life crisis might as well have started the minute I entered the workforce. I jumped from mediocre job to mediocre job. Having moved back home, I was forced to take on the awkward challenge of managing friendships: rekindling old friendships, salvaging ones from college, trying to make new ones. I felt like I had done all the *right* things and yet found myself in a suffocating maelstrom and I didn’t know how to pull myself out. In fact, I remember my life anthem for a period being Linkin Park’s “In the End“:

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter

And then when I was hitting the full stride of my quarter life crisis, I scored a job at Google. I won’t say that Google was the white knight that saved this fair maiden. But it did give me sufficient distraction in the way of job stuff and life stuff and friend stuff to feel like I was making progress in my life.

I asked around to my network to get insight on the quarter life crisis. Is it real or is it an excuse? Does it go away? Does it get better? Does everyone go through it? One friend answered that she went through a quarter life crisis every two years of her 20s. Which is true because her life was ridiculous yet amazing. I knew her at Google and when we parted ways, I headed to bschool while she went on to serve as VP for a now defunct startup. Then she got her teaching credential and was a teacher in the Midwest. Then recently, she up and moved to Alaska. So if I had to guess, her quarter life crises were just moments of intense self-scrutiny where she decided, “nope, this ain’t right!” and proceeded on to the next thing her heart desired. And for that, I salute her.

Another friend mentioned that yes, it was totally a real thing in life and that it doesn’t quite feel like it’s ended yet. For those of us not groomed into a particular career or who didn’t find our calling early in life, I think life can feel like a slow side-step away from the quarter life crisis. It strikes and you deal with it and then slowly but surely it gets better. But that sense of uncertainty, that lack of complete confidence that you are absolutely where you ought to be, doing that thing you were put on this earth to do– it’s… well, it’s uncomfortable.

But if I was to ask my network, I do think we would all agree that the quarter life crisis was the nadir of our adult lives thus far– the moment where we all acknowledged that things weren’t what we wanted them to be. And in that sense, it was good because when you hit a bottom, you can only go up. The quarter life crisis, I suspect, for most of us was that “come to Jesus” moment where we decided not to passively hope for things in our lives and where we woke up from the nostalgia that had been holding us captive. We snapped out of our Two Buck Chuck stupors and decreed: my life is going to be better than this and I’m going to make that happen!

And then: we worked our asses off to make it all come true.

And maybe we didn’t quite hit what we hoped we would and progress is still, I would guess, for all of us a daily struggle. But I think we would all agree when we look back in the period after our quarter life crises that it was full of good times, hearty challenges, wins and losses, life lessons, course corrections and a whole lotta cheap wine– both celebratory and rueful.

I didn’t really have a point to this post but it’s one that I have been wanting to write. Maybe it’s just a wink and a smile to those going through quarter life crises that it gets better and I raise my glass of cheap wine to your… to our continued efforts.

Cheers, my friends!

Moving on

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Screenshot 2014-11-14 at 5.17.56 PMSo last week was definitely an interesting week. Now that some time has passed and I’ve been able to talk to a bunch of people to get their take on my former coworker trolling me on the internet, I have a better handle on the situation and a sense of how I will use what I’ve learned moving forward.

I talked to a lot of people about the situation and most said to just ignore him. They said that I should definitely let him know that I know what he is doing but then not waste any more time on something that is clearly more of a problem with/for him than it really ever was or could be with me.

One person that I reached out to with was Melanie Curtin who penned a very well-received piece for LinkedIn, entitled, “I was Sexually Harrassed. Here’s How I Responded.” When she was spoken to in an inappropriate manner, she turned to the abuser and told him exactly what he was doing. She named it and he slinked away in shame. She also provided this guidance:

When something like this happens, you are not the one at fault. Fear and shame and guilt like to live in the shadows; they start to die under the light.

So name it. Even if just to yourself at first. Say what is happening. Then say it aloud. Then say it loudly.

So I wrote to Ms. Curtin asking her about ways to strengthen your voice and how to be unyielding in what you tell people to fight back against abuse. I can’t print Ms. Curtin’s response in entirety because I didn’t ask for her permission and I don’t want to broadcast the entire message. However, I’ve picked out bits and pieces that I thought were most helpful to share.

First and foremost, she gave me this compliment– which I very much enjoyed:

First off, you’re a brilliant writer! I loved your piece and laughed aloud several times. I really liked this: “you have a grace period by the end of which, you should have your shit together.” Clever and insightful.

I never thought that my post was offensive (I’d asked several Millennials their opinions and no one raised a red flag). And it made me feel happy to hear someone say that there was value in my committing my thoughts to “paper,” if not for depth of insight then for perhaps a chuckle to someone here or there.

She acknowledged that this is a tricky situation, adding:

It sucks that this person is targeting you, and he seems like a real {mean guy}.

So ok– she used another more fitting word than “mean guy” to describe him, which I’ve taken out to preserve her integrity. But yes, my former coworker is definitely a {mean guy}.

She went on to say that she gets a lot of comments to the pieces that she publishes and some are from haters. She said that I need to assess my personal safety in deciding whether to escalate but that there is personal benefit to not “feeding the troll.”

In other words, haters are gonna hate. Which gives me license now to share my favorite GIF. Haters gonna hate so you gotta just stroll on by.

i3onxhee-tShe also included a comment that I think is applicable to everything in life:

Sharing my truth is the only thing I have control over; others’ reactions are outside of my control.

And I think I’m going to end this post with thoughts on this statement: that I was in no way at fault and I didn’t deserve the hatred that was spewed my way by this incredibly cruel human being. I am going to continue to share my thoughts on this blog because my friends and loved ones have told me that they enjoy reading my posts and because, darn it, I like writing them too! I am going to keep the comments section open because I believe in open discourse. People don’t have to agree with me but I want to hope that the comments moving forward are critiques of my thoughts and not hyperbolic assessments of my character.

I will also be honest that this whole episode confirms my decision to distance myself from this individual as well as others in his coterie nearly one year ago. I will admit that I tried to trash talk this person to our shared contacts at the company but to no avail… because nobody was surprised at the depths of his nature. One person responded to me, “I knew that I didn’t like him. And now I have a reason.” So I couldn’t ruin his reputation with news of how he had behaved because he had already done it by himself through his own behaviors. This gave me a new level of faith that false facades crumble and that people are much more perceptive about others’ characters than they might let on.

I was actually invited to a happy hour a few weeks back that the abuser’s girlfriend would also be attending. I turned the invitation down and told the person inviting me that I wasn’t close to the woman and that I had made the decision not to continue to socialize with her. I felt kind of bad after saying that, as if I was overreacting. However, after this episode, I don’t feel that it was an overreaction. I know that continuing to distance myself from that entire group is the right thing for me. A former colleague also made the astute comment that it was only a matter of time before the abuser would turn on his girlfriend, saying, “A person who so gleefully mistreats others in front of you will only eventually turn his vitriol towards you.” Or if that doesn’t happen, it is only natural that you become inured to the cruelty and this thickened skin prevents you from being the most shiny and wonderful version of yourself (which you always deserve to be). I don’t ever want to see this woman but I do wish her well in her life.

So that’s it from me. Happy weekend everybody!

Responding to my critics

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I was surprised last week to get a really pointed and harsh comment to my blog post on Millennials. Though the post was a little strongly worded, I didn’t think it was that bad and even a friend who is a Millennial agreed. The person directly attacked me using examples from our previous employer so I knew it was a former coworker. And I had a suspicion about one or two people it could be. I will include the comment in its entirety later in this blog post.

Imagine my surprise when I did some investigation and found that it was a former coworker who I had stopped communicating with over one year ago. And the reason that I distanced myself from this individual is because at the time I found him to be volatile, irrational and incredibly negative. I had since forgotten about him because we didn’t interact at all though overlapping at work for 6 months. So now to realize that he has essentially been cyberstalking me and leaving abusive comments on my blog was totally eye-opening.

Here is the comment that this individual left for me:

You are the biggest hypocrite.

Examples:

1) Laziness – You say you saw an old coworker coming in at 10am and leaving at 4pm while slumped in a lovesac. I do remember you frequently leaving early to lie down at home because you were ‘sleepy’ and worked from home because you ‘weren’t feeling well’.

2) You say everyone fucks up and isn’t a go-getter from the start. However, the whole section is about how everyone does this anyway. What’s the point in calling it out if everyone does it, including yourself?

3) You talk shit about millennial clothing attire but then say you also do it, but to a lesser extent. Wouldn’t those millennial feel the same way when they look at OLD people like yourself? Who are you to judge what is appropriate vs. not appropriate, since you are so far removed from this current generation?

4) You mention the ‘partiers’ group that come to work hungover but then lament that it’s okay because you have come to work stoned yourself. Your reasoning is that they think they are bragging about it while you were secretly high. I doubt anyone wants their coworkers to necessarily know they are still drunk at work. I hope your current employer doesn’t find out that you used to come to work stoned. Isn’t shouting it out through the internet over a blog worse than a close group of people you trust? You big idiot.

5) Unearned confidence – What’s wrong with being confident? Just because you were so unconfident doesn’t make your way any better. I’m not saying they’re right but who are you th judge publicly? Do less confident people change the world? If so, I’m waiting for your next move.

Then you condescendingly act like how you’re living is basically the right way. Last time I checked (and reading through your blog) you seem to be pretty unhappy. Next time, why not focus on your own happiness and decisions rather than always criticizing others about theirs?

It is pretty harsh and I was surprised that a person who I made efforts not to engage with has been actively seeking me out and feels the freedom to make such nasty comments.

The irony as well is that this individual is wrong in every single thing he says– which indicates to me some kind of disconnection with reality. Calling me lazy when I went home sick from work is laughable considering this individual was one of the partiers who would frequently come in to work hungover at 10 am and leave by 2 pm. We all watched it. We all know the truth. How this person’s reality so very much deviates from actual events is really troubling.

And as for the reference about me coming to work stoned. This happened once when I was in my 20s, on a Monday, after eating a marijuana chocolate the day before. It wasn’t a good experience and I have never done it since then. My point in bringing this up is that I understand that you want to have fun when you’re young, as a way of emphathizing that I’m not some kind of a social prohibitionist who has never made the same mistakes myself. This individual again was one of the partiers at my last company who would repeatedly (though he’s now in his 30s) come to work hungover week after the week. It’s not the same and I think he’s trying to defend himself from an indefensible standpoint. The most laughable comment is this one: I hope your current employer doesn’t find out that you used to come to work stoned. I hope this individual’s current employer doesn’t find out that he is using company time and company equipment to cyberstalk and cyberharrass a former colleague. Whereas mine is anonymous anecdote, his is recorded in datalogs. In other words: it’s FACT. In fact, it’s recorded in multiple datalogs, indicating not just a single lapse of judgment but in fact a repeated effort to cyberbully me.

But really the most ridiculous part of his rant, in my opinion is this:  Last time I checked (and reading through your blog) you seem to be pretty unhappy. Next time, why not focus on your own happiness and decisions rather than always criticizing others about theirs? 

Because correct me if I’m wrong, but it would seem that a person who actively seeks out the blog of a colleague and reads it, without encouragement, and proceeds to write hateful rants on that person’s digital property is really the person who seems unhappy. Talking about these actions with some of our shared work acquaintances, we agree that this person continues to exhibit anger issues, clearly has not moved on and targets me with vile that I have not earned and is otherwise somehow psychological troubled in ways that we could not have expected.

I went through a lot of emotions since making this discovery. I was shocked, then was I was scared, I got mad and now I’m back in disbelief. But now I’ve had time to digest it, to talk it over with people and to formulate my response and how I plan to tackle this in my life.

I did not like this person when I knew him and my response was to distance myself as a way to keep myself happy and safe. This person has stepped beyond this barrier that I have requested and now I’m on the offense. So whereas I had always been mum and polite about my feelings on this individual, he has now given me the power and the evidence to be honest. So I have been very open to all of our shared contacts about the types of things he has been doing to me. I have shared the evidence with our acquaintances (many of whom voiced a natural dislike for him anyway– this news actually wasn’t so surprising). So in a moment of anger, he has effectively ruined his reputation with a large handful of people who now know the truth about the vileness of his character. I hope it was worth it to him.

I have also shared this information with his girlfriend (assuming they are still together), asking her to please tell him to stop with this aggressive behavior. I liked her and considered her a really great person but when she made the choice to get together with him, I distanced myself because I didn’t want to be the one that said anything that would intercede in their relationship. I still don’t want to be but at the same time, I think it’s fair to tell her what kind of a douchebag loser she is with. As someone pointed out, if knowing this she still chooses to stay together with him, then she is just as bad and they deserve each other.

For those that know me in my life, you’ll know that I also have been receiving harrassing phonecalls accusing me of something that I haven’t done. When I shared with some friends that I’d uncovered the person behind the hateful comments on my blog, most immediately mentioned that he might also be behind these harrassing phone calls. At first I didn’t think it was true and I still go back and forth. This would be totally beyond what I would expect of the hateful commenter. But at this point, I feel like maybe you just don’t know people and what they are capable of. I have forwarded the hateful comments to friends and family and instructed them that if anything ever happens to me, this individual is likely behind it. I also have an open police report on the harrassing phone calls and plan to contact the police tomorrow to give them the harrassing comments that I have received from my former coworker, including the datalogs that incontrovertibly connect him with the harrassing comments. At this point, I don’t know what is true and false, who to believe, what people are capable of. But I also know that it’s out of my hands and I just want this on record because I feel like I’ve done all that I can do to keep myself and my family safe. I’m simply unwilling to give this person any more benefit of the doubt.

So this has been a trying week and my head is still turning about the multiple realizations. I don’t know if the individual is reading this post, but if he is, I want to encourage him to get professional help. Stalking and harrassment are not appropriate ways to deal with this rage and I am concerned for his safety and that of those he interacts with and will interact with in the future. This anger, left unchecked, can only get worse. Please seek out the help that you need.

My Thoughts on the Brittany Maynard Story

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cover-peopleMy posts have been a lot more spaced out than I had originally intended when I started this blog. Life has gotten busy so my time after working and commuting and socializing usually involves sitting on the couch watching syndicated television. Anticipating yet another busy week, I thought I’d write another blog post while I have a quiet moment at home.

Recently, there has been a story about a young woman named Brittany Maynard in the news. She is young (29) and has a brain tumor and recently announced publicly her decision to die with dignity in the form of suicide. I was actually a bit late to the game on the story and only really learned of it when a friend on facebook posted a comment soliciting people’s reactions to this story. There was recently an update to this story that the young woman has decided not to go through with the suicide on November 1st (yesterday) as originally intended.

When I heard about the story, it made me think about my grandma who passed away following complications from surgery to remove breast cancer. This happened maybe 7 years ago. This experience in my life changed my perceptions on a lot of things: abortion, suicide, taking a person off life support (which is the decision that my family had to ponder). Essentially, it made me really think about the idea of an expected death and I wanted to share my thoughts on today’s blog post.

My grandmother was never a particularly healthy woman so the possibility of death following her surgery was probably pretty high. She came out of surgery and never regained consciousness. She didn’t die. She just stayed in a comatose state, on ventilators and with tubes coming out of her body. Her body was quickly becoming septic and it was clear that she would die. And yet, day after day, she didn’t– making the situation impossibly tough.

My whole family was in town and kept vigil at the hospital. My mom kept talking to my grandma’s unmoving body and to this day, I wonder if she really thought that my grandma would come out of this or whether she was just making sure that she knew, if even just subconsciously, that she was loved up to the moment of her passing. I remember that the hardest times throughout this period was going to bed and waking up in the morning. These were the moments when you were by yourself and the stress and sadness of the drawn out situation was unbearable.

My grandmother stayed on machines for 3 days when we started having discussions about taking her off life support. I’m a very left brained person: pure logic and typically very rational in all my decision-making. In an agnostic, impersonal situation involving an older person, body in sepsis, I would have said 100%: take the person off life support. They will not get better. They are essentially dead. This is a drain of our resources. This is a drain on the family.

But in the moment, it was hard. It was hard, sure, because this was my grandmother– the person who had essentially raised me since I was a child. But it was also very hard because in that moment as we were asked about a date, a date, what date do you choose– it made me realize that this was a never-go-back decision. And more so– this was a decision that you would always think is made for you and not one that a person, a human, a mortal has to make or really, has the power to make.

I am not a Bible thumping Christian. I went to Catholic school as a child and have great respect for the spirtuality and the focus that you gain from being religious. And this is what surprised me in that moment that we were asked to make this hard decision. I realized that we were being asked to make a choice that only God (or whatever all-mighty-power exists) can make for a person. I realized in the moment how much we were being asked to play God in deciding when a person leaves this earth. I was surprised that in this moment, me– the cerebral, data-driven, do-what-needs-to-get-done person– backtracked to something spiritual in this very hard time.

I don’t think that I’m taking a position about God or religion here– that just happened to be the case in my personal situation. What I do think I’m saying is that you never know. You can study and talk and research and feel like you know based on all these resources how you feel on a topic. You can stand there, high and mighty, and expound on your opinions. But until you are standing there, logic pushed aside and facing the real facts and feelings and emotions of a moment, YOU CAN’T KNOW HOW YOU WILL DECIDE.

I think this carries over into all hard decisions that people make in life. About deciding whether to carry a child to term. About whether to take your own life. I even think it relates to gay marriage. From the outside, everyone has an opinion. But really: SHUT THE FUCK UP. Because until you are standing there, with an unwanted fetus growing inside your person or looking ahead to a future where you will decay and become a burden on all you love and love you back, or you find yourself staring into the eyes of a person of your same gender and wanting to commit yourself and your life to that person in front of God and all your loved ones, you can’t really know what you will choose and you have no right to push onto others what you think you would do in that situation.

A side note on this story is that I’ve had to witness the pains of cancer on both sides of my family now. There was a period within 3 years where my father had cancer twice and then my grandmother (on my mother’s side) was diagnosed with it. I feel sometimes like my body is a ticking time bomb– that there is an inevitability of cancer that I can’t do anything to prevent besides trying to make good choices for myself now and as I age. And having been put through that, I know the pain on the family. I’d like to think that from these experiences, I view the Brittany Maynard story with a little more empathy and with a certain reverence for the importance of her personal decision. Sometimes hard choices have to be made. And none of us have any right to think that we know just how hard they are.

As a postscript on my grandma’s story: we had decided to take her off life support midday on a Thursday. Instead, she went on her own on Wednesday– sparing us actually making the call to have the life-saving services turned off. Though I was sad that the end had come, part of me was also relieved that it happened in its own time and without a date, a date, a date having to be decided.

UPDATE: Since posting this post earlier today, I’ve learned that Brittany Maynard did end up taking her life. May she rest in peace.