Why I Started to Train for a Marathon

Honestly, I used training as a marathon as another excuse to start running with this girl that’s a cross-country runner. I don’t run. I especially don’t run long distances. My body is better suited for fight, rather than flight. I played football and wrestled in high school, so the extent of my workouts were essentially lifting and sprints. However, things kinda fizzled with her, but I came to love running. Especially running in the forest preserve near me. It allowed me to escape from feelings of insecurity and made me enjoy being immersed in nature. It’s also given me a goal and a reason to be an athlete again, which I do miss from time to time. It’s given me a lot of things to do and worst-case scenario is I end up taking better care of my better and live a healthy lifestyle. Another reason why I started to train is because I’ve always joked with a friend about running a marathon. We figured that we’re not getting any younger and the best time to do it was now. Oh yeah, a number of girls have brought it up and gave a lot of encouragement, so that’s a fun feeling too!

TL;DR: I started to run for a girl, but now I actually enjoy running and it’s improved other aspects of my life.

Beauty of Sibling Love

Today is Father’s Day and I was thinking about what this day meant to me. It was tough and tears were had, but I started to think about how it would’ve affected my sisters growing up as well. I have two older sisters and we are all a handful of years apart from each other and I tend to butt heads with the middle one more often than not. She’s kind of mean to me, but call her out on it and we move on. My big realization is that no matter what happens, such as a father that’s not in the picture, we still have each other. When we were younger, my oldest sister would be responsible for us, and so we were usually clumped together. There was usually an intellectual age gap, but now the dynamic has changed since we are all adults. Being the youngest, my role was always to cheer people up. Now, my role has transformed into someone that can bring us together, encourage positive behavior, and give advice about things in life.

I’m in my early 20’s and I cried on Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day and to be honest, I did not expect to have shed tears by noon. I probably haven’t cried on a Father’s Day since I was a small child, but I’ve been finally addressing the emotional issues throughout my life and for a moment, I felt like I was that kid crying because his father didn’t enough attention. Oh, I forgot to mention that he didn’t want to do anything with me and my siblings today. Anyway, I’m not blaming him for anything. These issues have driven me to become the person that I am today and I am proud of how far I’ve come. However, there are some drawbacks. I’ve realized that I’m a perfectionist. My dad always had very high expectations of me when I was younger. I used to have the best handwriting in my class, but I was constantly erasing and rewriting words because it wasn’t perfect. Eventually, I decided that I valued my time a lot more and settled with slightly messy handwriting. However, this pressure of being the best probably resulted in me being so involved in high school. (I’ve talked about some of the things I’ve accomplished in another post.) I’m aware that there was this fixed mindset, but I’ve learned to change that into a growth mindset. It shifts the focus from the goal to yourself and if you focus on yourself, the goal becomes much easier to accomplish. Crying is okay, it’s very cathartic. I feel pretty great now. I processed it and now I’m moving on.

One of my Favorite Memories as a Lifeguard

It was hot, summer day without a cloud in the sky. A refreshing breeze would often come by and cool you off if you got too hot. School buses filled with kids laughing and playing rolled in. Probably a stressful sight for new guards, but I was an experienced guard and was excited because this meant that some of the off guards would be able to swim test the kids for the diving pool. I loved volunteering to get in the water with them because I would give them motivational speeches as they swam. My favorite speech consisted of me bellowing out, “there are two types of people in this world: those that do and those that don’t. NOW ARE YOU A DO-ER?!” The kids loved that one and would start laughing while they were swimming, which probably doesn’t seem like the greatest idea, but I was an arm’s length away and they all got successfully passed. I was a guard for 3 summers and 2 school years, and this is why will never regret being a lifeguard.

Why my Mom is my Hero

My mom left everything behind when she was 16 to escape communism during the Vietnam War. She was one of the so called,”boat people,” and lived in Malaysia for a year before immigrating to the United States in the 1970’s. I was born in the mid-1990’s and didn’t really understand life as an immigrant in the U.S. until I learned about how immigrants are actually treated today. In retrospect, I was kind of a little brat because I would question why my mom would always push me to do well in school when she didn’t go to college herself. (She was an immigrant woman in the 70’s, the odds were against her.) Not only was she raised in the countryside, she was also a woman in a very traditional culture. (i.e., It was expected of her to do things like cook and clean.) I’ve come to truly appreciate being able to call a place home and being an educated male in today’s society. Growing up, my mom would ask me if I’d take care of her when I got older and I said I would. I used to view it as this huge responsibility and was stressed out by it. I now view this as the greatest gift I can give her because not only is she a frickin’ war survivor, but she also was able to give me more than enough love to make up for the lack of a father-figure.

How I Developed Family Values

My immediate family was always close with my extended family growing up. This makes sense because they immigrated together and they supported each other, so there was always an emphasis on family growing up. Personally, my family values developed when I was a kid. My father is self-employed and was always working when I was growing up. He was only there financially and was absent from many birthdays, school performances, and other things you’d expect a father to be at. We never played catch as a kid. One of my earliest memories as a child was this one time when I just in tears because my dad didn’t show up to something and he was also yelling at me to stop crying and to control my emotions, which just made me feel worse. I ended up making a promise to myself that if I ever had kids, I’d want to be the dad that I never had. (Disclaimer: I don’t plan on having kids anytime soon, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve never thought about it without having a huge smile. I actually used to joke about being a stay-at-home dad, but I think it might actually be a lot of fun, especially if you’ve seen me with kids.)

On the brightside, my mom was the opposite and she provided me more than enough love to make up for my lack of a father-figure. To be honest, it has at many times felt like it was way too much and was smothering me, but I’ve learned to deal with it because she’s honestly not going to be around forever. (A bit dark? Yes. Necessary? Also yes, because I believe that it is something that everyone should realize and this is why you should start appreciating the time with your loved ones now. (Today is probably the best day to do it, by the way!) It was also remembering this feeling of being loved that also made me believe in God again when I was going rough time transferring schools. I can honestly say that facing the reality of death inspired me to truly start living a life that I wanted to live.

TL; DR: If you don’t have your core values, then you don’t really have anything. (My highest core value is family.)

The Roles of Science and God in my Life

DISCLAIMER: These are my beliefs and why I believe them. It gets a little dark, but it’s the truth. I’ll most likely say things that might challenge your beliefs, but hopefully you can bear with me till the end. It all comes together.

(I remember seeing this quote below and thinking it was kind of silly, but now it’s pretty crazy of how much it actually does make sense.)

“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you” -Werner Heisenberg

The scientific method is objective. It does not have an inherent positive or negative association. Growing up, I was always curious about how things worked. I was able to take all of the AP science classes offered at my high school. It didn’t feel like it was a lot because it answered the questions that I always had and I liked how it was applicable to anything that I saw. As a result, I believed in the things that I could test. When I was a kid, I used to like the adrenaline of watching a scary movie but then I’d be deathly terrified of ghosts and monsters. After learning about the scientific method, I eventually concluded that I could not necessarily say that there was a God based off of real data from experiments. To be honest, I had believed that religion was a man-made construct that was a evolutionary advantage and brought people together. This was the conclusion that I made under the things that I had learned from science classes.

Fast forward to me transferring to from a small, Jesuit university to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a large, state school. Essentially, I missed my freshman year friends and I didn’t feel as close with my high schools friends that went there and already had their own friend groups. There were negative people in my life (one of which was my father) and I had stopped taking care of myself. This negativity led to more negativity and I came to a point where I would analyze anyone and anything that I looked at. I would be trapped in my own head thinking about what I saw and how it worked. People were no longer people, they were just atoms moving around as a result of forces, just like everything else I saw. I was tormented by my passion in the sciences and it killed my love for people. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this mentality is a reason why doctors have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession. HOWEVER, I was wrong in this classical mindset and unfortunately for most people, you wouldn’t really ever talk about quantum physics. So then why do most people not learn quantum physics? It’s because the world as we see it can be approximated using classical physics. However, the really tiny stuff is when things get weird. The big takeaway from quantum physics is that whether or not one is able to observe an experiment will affect the outcome of this said experiment. (This is demonstrated by the Double-Slit Experiment. Essentially, whether or not you can detect a light will determine if it acts as a particle or a wave. Sounds like nonsense, but that’s what actually happens in experiments. This concept uses the same Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle that is probably mentioned in most general chemistry courses.)

Initially, I was baffled by this. Eventually, I came to develop a great appreciation for the unknown and for the mystery of how the universe works. To be honest, if I hadn’t experienced what I had, I’d probably think I was crazy, too. However, it becomes very real when you actually apply these things to your own life.

Another question that one might ask is, “Oh what if you’re just telling yourself something just to make yourself feel better?” I’d argue that even if I’m wrong, why would I give up on something that has given me meaning in life? I never thought I’d blog about a bible verse, but here I am.

“God is love, whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” -1 John 4:16

In other words, I believe that as long as someone is living a loving life, independent of their spiritual beliefs, they are actually living a life in God’s image. As a species, we still do not know a lot about the universe and therefore can not say, with 100% certainty, that there is or is not a God. All I know is what I believe and I have no regrets whatsoever.