Beauty as subjectively defined, society, and media

/ Saturday, November 18, 2017 /
Lately I've heard a ton of comments from people and also have read a bunch of stuff involving the topic of physical beauty. These comments range from issues surrounding underlying self-esteem to hatred and even malice.

Here are some examples:

  • "I'm 24 and still a virgin. No guy will ever want to (do) me."
  • "I hate the engagement photos and wedding photos that people post in their profile pictures. Every day they remind me of how single and lonely I am."
  • "I'm so ugly. I was bullied in high school and lost 30 pounds. Now guys want me, not for who I am but for my body. When can I find a decent guy?"
  • "Why do people post Facebook statuses about how wonderful their significant others are? Are they out just to laugh at me?"
  • "The girls who talk about "27 and still single" are just too messed up to get anyone."
  • "Someone recently confided in me that she got raped. At least she was attractive enough that someone wanted to rape her."
  • "I'm too fat. Nobody wants me."
  • "Why can't I get a guy?"
  • "No one likes the nice guys."
  • "Nice guys always finish last."
  • "I'm single, unemployed, and living in my childhood bedroom. I'm a loser."
  Whatever people and society think about these comments, these words still reflect underlying issues - doubt, uncertainty, regret, lack of self-esteem and self-worth, even jealousy and hatred. Despite these facts, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

  • Life is what life is, but you control how you're portrayed.  Whatever your beliefs are - atheism, God, Buddha, Allah, Sikh, animistic beliefs, etc - uniqueness was endowed onto your body and your mind. Despite how cliched this sounds, your soul, your mind, and your spirit are things that you control. The looks you were born with will remain, but it's the way that you react and portray to them that define who you are. Think about it - the girl who is beautiful but hides her face in fear will never be noticed by people, but the girl who stands tall and proud will be noticed because her face will be visible to the world.
  • Plastic surgery can come along, but it also comes with other, "unhideable" results. Anyone who has had surgery will tell you that the recovery process is extremely, extremely painful. And the thing is that physical beauty is temporary. Eventually, the human body, due to telomere shortening in DNA will overcome telomerase, and starts degenerating. Wrinkles will set in, no matter how many botox injections you get and how many nose jobs, tummy tucks, etc you get. Think about it this way - suppose you are very successful and are able to get botox injections to paralyze your facial muscles every week. Your muscles will still limit your facial expressions, and even if your face may look younger, the other parts of your body - mottled skin on your hands, your weak knees and presbyopic eyes will give your true age away.
  •  Rape is a horrible tragedy and crime. Contrary to popular belief, rape isn't about sexual desire or arousal. It is, more than anything, about control, power, and stems from anger. Think about the 70-year old woman who was rapedBoko haramNanjing. The women in these tragedies have numerous differences in factors of age, attractiveness, body types, etc. What do they have in common though? They were all in situations where perpetrators were assuming control of situations. Conflicts involving anger and violence. Rape isn't a beautiful thing; it's a sad consequence of choices and situation resulting in violence and rage.
  • Engagement, marriage, and having children are beautiful passages of life and are celebrated. When one becomes jealous of people displaying their lives publicly, imagine what they are thinking on the other side of the situation.  I'm so happy XY proposed after 9 years of dating. I'm finally getting security after years of uncertainty. I can finally take my OkCupid account down for good. My parents will finally stop nagging me about having grandchildren. I'll be able to give my daughter the brooch my mom gave to me. Aren't these beautiful thoughts? There's bad enough news on years of conflictproblems in governmentsensationalized trials and internet pirating, among numerous other subjects. Isn't good news something to celebrate?  
  •  Life is what you make of it. Yes, this is a cliche, but these words reveal a great deal of truth. Everyone is born with weaknesses and vices, but it's how they deal with them that defines who they are and what they make of themselves. Think of Lizzie Velasquez, one of the world's thinnest people who was born with a condition that could not allow her to have any body fat. She was scorned and ridiculed at school, to the point where someone posted a YouTube video naming her the "ugliest girl alive". Yet she didn't let that stop her. She focused on the positive parts of herself - the fact that she only had to buy half the contact lenses that most people buy because she could only see through one eye, the fact that she has beautiful, ravishing hair, the fact that she graduated from college. As Condoleezza Rice once said, ""You can't change your circumstances, but you can change your response to them." Lizzie did exactly that, and because of it, people see her inner beauty and strength, and admire her for her bravery and courage all at the same time.
Bottom line - everyone has their share of insecurities, faults and weaknesses. But it is our actions, our thoughts, and beliefs that ultimately dictate what we are and how the world perceives of us. A wise friend of mine once told me that when you show your true self, and when you proudly present yourself the way you really are, when you are happy for others and accept your own life, others will see that, and truly respect and admire you.

I encourage everyone to go out there and proudly show your true selves. I wish you the best in your lives and endeavors.

Thoughts on relationships

/ Thursday, November 9, 2017 /
Ahh... relationships, relationships, relationships. The subject of much gossip, the lore of rom-com movies and sitcoms, the giggly-girly feelings and awkwardness that young girls and boys feel, all the way to the more practical aspects of arranged marriages, tradition, courtship and beyond.

Growing up, like many other little girls, I was caught up with the idealistic romanced version of love. Of a handsome prince sweeping me off my feet and into a castle (well, Kate Middleton did that, but it took a lot of work). Some tumultuous relationship with ups and downs like Carrie Bradshaw. Heaps of exciting dates, amazing adventures, cuddling by the fireplace, etc. Feisty drama and parental concerns.

What did I get in reality?

A mix of some but other surprises.


/ Tuesday, October 31, 2017 /

Often times people ask about the purpose of life. Of course. We're living it. It's one of the biggest things that people contemplate over - the philosophical meanings and abstract livelihoods of our pithy existence on this planet.

I've been thinking about this topic pretty much since childhood. I remember one day in the 4th grade when I drew a huge circle in the dirt during recess. I wanted to sit in the middle of it and think about the sun above my eyes - why we were here, what was the purpose of the time we were given to play about under the sun. Was I going to be given free time forever? Was I always going to be stuck in my short body as a fourth grader? How on earth was I going to move through to middle school? (I couldn't even fathom the idea of life beyond grade 6.)

Well of course, time passed and I started middle school. Before I knew it, somehow I landed myself in college and afterward medical school.

Today, I still think about this question. What is my purpose in life? What is my worth? The Church teaches us that we do things for God's glory and that He has a plan for every one of us. I think that's a valid conclusion. We shape our own lives through actions with guidance. The mentorship that guides us is omnipresent. Whether it's in the form of upper levels, professors, counselors, role models, divine intervention, parents, siblings, friends or anyone else, we seek to understand life through others' experiences and relate them to our own. We attempt to either emulate (or learn not to emulate) others through their actions and speech.

I've definitely grown during college and medical school in this regard. During my still novice experiences in medical school, I've learned more about the doctor-patient interaction, the value of teamwork in order to accomplish goals, and more so, a bit more about my own purpose in life. Our lives are shaped every day by our interactions with others, who we hang out with, and ultimately, the way we think and act.

There's several other role models I've recently added to the list. Recently, two of our professors passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was quite devastating for all of us (students, professors, friends and colleagues alike), especially considering that they had influenced us, taught us, and guided us so much throughout our medical education. Another esteemed professor who has been battling pancreatic cancer recently celebrated his 5-year remission. I'm going to go to a party to celebrate his milestone in a few weeks. Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease. I've lost a loved one to it. I'm just glad that these people are at peace, and that one professor - one person - one more person - has been able to overcome it.

I went to the ER!

/ Tuesday, October 24, 2017 /
Recently, I went to the emergency room.

It was the first time in years.

Basically, I injured my elbow and had pretty bad pain for about 10 hours. I figured it was high time to see what was going on.

And stupidly, because I decided to go to the ER too late, I ended up going around midnight.

The ER is an awesome place if you have a dire emergency. Whether it's having a heart attack, feeling the symptoms of an oncoming stroke, getting the severe gnawing feelings associated with appendicitis, etc, this is the place to go to in order to get care that is both high-quality and ASAP.

At the same time, sometimes it's not the best place to go. Minor issues such as a cold or a low fever may be better addressed the next day at a clinic or at urgent care. Sometimes the wait times are long, especially while life-threatening issues such as a possible stroke or myocardial infarction are being addressed first... and thus, it delays care for less urgent issues.

Working for months in the ER has made me realize something very vital: the emergency room is where you go for emergencies. I've seen horrifying cases of physical abuse, tended the wounds of patients bitten by rabid animals, witnessed patients who died after every life-saving measure had been taken, as well as victims of severe burn wounds, shot wounds, and everything in between.

I cry for these patients.

The reason why I went to the emergency room wasn't due to these dire issues. My case wasn't life-threatening. Maybe it was the pain that got to me? Or was it the fact that it lingered for so long? Any case, I should've gone to urgent care or next-day clinic, but none of these were open at the time due to my stupid decision to wait till the pain got worse.

Alas, perhaps a broken bone could've waited. But the husband thought differently, and probably, many, many family members also in his shoes would also be worried.

So I went, at midnight, got an x-ray, an ice pack, and instructions for care.

Even though the ER I went to was empty, I could've used my time more wisely by putting an ice pack on my arm and just going to the next-day clinic. At least the ER was empty, so I wasn't taking up space that patients with more urgent cases needed.

I didn't break any bones. But I had a pretty bad contusion.

There's still a bad bruise, and my elbow still hurts as I write this post. I should just be more careful. 

Let's just hope it gets better. And I don't make the same silly mistake next time.

How we met and our story!

/ /
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.....

Nope. No Star Wars trope here.

Dani and I met at a math competition in the eighth grade. Back then, he lived in Pearland and I still lived in Houston. Back in those awkward, glasses-googling and braces-tying days, while we sat there turning math tricks in our brains and thinking of sines and tangents, there was no way we knew that that initial meeting would be the start of a long journey of our lives intertwining, together and together, again and again.

Fast forward four months. My family, in taking its steps to achieving the American Dream, moved out to the suburbs, and I found myself as a freshman in high school in the same biology and English classes as That Nerd! We found ourselves in a friendly rivalry in classes, working together on many projects and assignments together. Whether it was co-writing a re-enactment of Romeo & Juliet, staying up till 2 AM solving calculus problems over the phone, quipping the teachings of Thoreau and Emerson from English, reciting the timelines of the Ancient Egyptian kingdoms, or having AP review sessions at IHOP and Cici's Pizza, we marched hand-in-hand, mind over matter.

Senior high school prom was our first "friend" date. I still remember those fun moments we had - riding in Dani's Lexus down to Galveston's Moody Gardens and having a ball with our friends and fellow teachers. We graduated high school in 2008 and swiftly moved onto college - Rice University. Throughout our years in college, we kept in touch but still just stayed friends.

Until November 4, 2011. During a Sadie-Hawkins dance hosted by Rice University, he asked me out. And, somehow, I said yes.

Some people say it's fate? Others call us high school sweethearts? Old souls? Somehow bets were won that day when we started going out, during our senior year in college. Who knows, it's been quite awhile.

We've been through a lot of things together. Ups, downs, nadirs and zeniths. Whether it was multiple surgeries, family members' weddings, heartbreaks, loss of loved ones, school milestones and setbacks, we've been working hard to help each other along every step of the way. We've been in a long-distance relationship for the last four (five?) years.

Yes, most of our dates are "Skype dates." Yes, we only see each other in person every few months. Yes, no matter how hard we try to hug that image on the computer screen, or call with each other's voices, it still feels like, as Mae best put it, "it's so close but we're so far away." But the most important thing is that we trust one another. we know each other. We've gotten so far in our lives, through trials and triumphs, whether it's in medical school, business school, working in the commercial industry, or doing renovations at home. With this distance, we learned to trust and love one another in ways that we had never imagined.

We got engaged on December 24, 2014, at Galveston Moody Gardens - the place where we had our high school prom. It was quite pre-planned, and we proposed to each other, with our own pre-thought vows. He gave me an engagement ring I had picked out the day before; I gave him an engagement watch (only 1/10th the price of the ring?) that he had picked out that previous day as well.

And with this, we vowed to spend the rest of our living lives together.

We've gotten so far in our lives, through trials and triumphs. God, family, friends, and their spirits have guided us throughout this journey woven through the decades. We hope you will join us in our celebration.


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