The 54th Deadline: Guide

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“I definitely need a guide of some sort to lead me on the right path for life’s complex journey.” 

I am not an impulsive person. I do not rely on my instincts much, if at all. So by all means, I am someone who does better with structure. I prefer it when someone maps out x thing for me and that is the objective or destination that I need to get to. It is something quantifiable, identifiable and just something that aids me from wandering around too much.

Without structure, I am just a mess. I become a disorganized, walking disaster of inefficiency and lost thoughts. If there could be something negative to be said about me, it would be that I lack a lot of initial gumption to my name without a big push from another source.

It is not a matter of me not being able to do certain things per se. My capabilities as a person, with all due respect, vary in all kinds of degrees. Quite frankly, I know I do not push myself hard enough to realize my own potential.

After all, cooking was something that started as a random interest and gradually developed into something I found passion in, though having something important save my life proved to be a major motivator.

I was a scrub at cooking, and now I consider myself at least somewhat competent.

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When I really apply every technique or nugget of information I have learned about cooking into action…
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The 54th Deadline: Talent

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“We are all respectively great at something, so have a conversation with others because talent talks.”

I firmly believe we are all destined in this universe to be “good” at something, whatever that may be. It can be singing, dancing, writing or whatever. I do not think everyone is meant to be good at everything, as this logically does not make sense.

We all are supposed to specialize if you use this train of thought. And by specializing, I mean we are supposed to hone in and nurture that which is appropriate for us. Again, whatever that may be.

Sure, we all would like to dabble in more things and expand our horizons. We all would like to try some things to see if we can be at least decent. That’s fine. But to achieve true mastery of a craft, to the point where it can be deemed a “talent,” goes into a different threshold altogether.

Sure, for me as an example, I picked up cooking over the years. Both out of genuine curiosity and as a necessity to save myself from a bad situation or two, cooking became a random wild card out of this deck of cards called life.

By all means, I would say I can cook now. And my ‘can’ these days definitely reflects a lot of personal perseverance and keeping my passion strong toward this culinary stuff. I legitimately, though pleasantly, surprise myself when I really pour my heart and soul into what I am doing.

In this case, it’s on a plate.

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I am decent in a lot of ways, but I have a lot to improve on if I ever want to be deemed a “talented” cook, let alone the real goal of being called a proper chef. As a result, I just have to keep trying to learn as much as I can, no matter how long it takes, when it comes to this cooking art.

After all, you just have to keep an open mind. Otherwise, you plateau yourself because you set these mental limitations. You don’t want to peak too early, right?

I think this is truly the mistake I made years ago in all kinds of facets. Basically, I put the ceiling above myself too low. I thought I was ready and knew everything I needed to know, but it is good to keep yourself always invested and willing to go that extra mile, so to speak.

I recall back in the early years of college when I thought I knew “a lot” about English stuff, like grammar and vocabulary. Turns out, and this truly shocked me on an emotional level, I was quite average compared to some other kids. Sure, I was more than above average when compared to a regular student, but I met some really talented people who could run circles around me when it came to the English language.

This was all so humbling. I really needed this trip to to the bakery to eat a whole portion of humble pie. For me, it was like someone smashed my face right into the humble pie, forcing me to gobble it up and accept that… I was not that good… At least, for that particular year in college.

But I showed some tenacity. I showed some heart. I just kept working at it, and soon enough – I became a beast when it came to English spelling and grammar. Yeah, I know. Dorky by all means. But that was what I was.

Again, you just have to hone in and nurture the stuff that you are appropriately competent at, even if it could be something random like basket weaving or shoe shining. Play to your strengths, if you want another way of looking at it. Continue reading

The 54th Deadline: Choices

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“Each day, we all have a series of choices we have to make that dictate how life plays out.”

So a few weeks back, I had an episode with a blast from the past. It was like I was dragged back to relive some of the worst feelings I had ever experienced as far as depression symptoms go. I left the reason for it vague at the time, but I feel like sharing a bit as to why I was going through it all again.

In a nutshell, the restaurant I have been working at is sort on the fence about “demoting” me. And by that, I mean they have been slashing my hours and really trying to pressure me. Actually, I was almost fired for being a “bad” employee. Heck, they have plucked away some of my cook shifts to throw me into the dish pit station instead.

Not that I have anything against dishes, as it is an important job at any restaurant, but I have put in my share of time, effort and whatnot into this place. I have sweated, I have bled, I have done so much for this restaurant and for the place to make me feel almost underappreciated… It hurt me.

I had a meltdown because I was on the verge of just calling my boss and saying I quit. No two weeks’ notice. No request to phase me out slowly so I could find another job on the fly.

It came that close.

Fortunately, some of my senses came back to remind me that quitting my job so abruptly would have been an awful, truly horrible idea. It is not like I have a lot of bills or debt to my name at the moment, but I still need to work.

And yes, it’s just a restaurant job. Technically speaking, I could go find a job at McDonald’s or something if I really needed it. But this restaurant has grown on me throughout this past year. It would pain me to leave it and move onto the next thing like it hasn’t mattered to my existence.

Culinary-wise, I want to learn more at this restaurant, and there is plenty of stuff to pick up. As an aspiring chef, I go in yearning to expand my knowledge. But there comes a point where I wonder if I am just being a glutton for punishment if the management at this place is starting to test my patience. One can only take so much…

But for now, my decision is to stick around and try even harder. I have had a lot of random people over the years who have brought me down, who have tried to make me feel inferior or incompetent and it would bring me the greatest joy in the world to prove each one of them wrong.

I want to prove that I am a diamond in the rough. I want to prove that I am more than they realize. My true potential has yet to be reached.

Sure, the easy out would be to quit. The simplest solution would be to walk away and just find something else. I don’t want to concede just yet. I don’t want to be labeled or branded as a quitter for something like this.

Big deal.

It happens.

It is just an opportune moment to bounce back, and I intend to do so.
Continue reading

The 54th Deadline: Identity

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“There are times where I wonder what my real identity is as a person here and now.”

First off, I am just experimenting with the blog theme because I can. After a while, I just think I need to tap into my creative side and actually try to make this site a bit more presentable. Regardless, I do like tweaking things around, even if they may be temporary.

Anyway, this site’s identity actually ties a bit with today’s blog post.

I think I am getting caught in a weird rut again. I feel like I should be doing way more, and then for me to conclude that I haven’t done so has made me feel a bit annoyed at myself. As if I am failing at something I can’t quite describe, it feels like I developed a lot of bad habits and I am not seeing things through to the end. It just makes me want to hate myself for being so pathetically inefficient. It really makes me feel this way.

At the same time, life has been tricky for me in plenty of ways. Last week had me experiencing episodes of some of the worst feelings I have dealt with once again, but thankfully it only lasted a few days. In reality, it all woke me up that I am still not strong enough, that I am still not as tenacious as I thought was if if I let a little slip-up get me down so much and thus I need to rethink my plan of attack.

Simply put, I lack a proper identity so to speak. This site is a reflection of my ambiguity.

Who am I? What am I? I think this blog can be a bit confusing as to what I am trying to convey, and therefore it gives off the wrong message.

Am I Nhan the aspiring writer? Am I Nhan the aspiring chef? Am I Nhan the aspiring content creator?

Well, for those particular questions, they all would be applicable to me. And that, therein, lies the real problem in all of this… I am an identity crisis. I am trying to be too many things at once, and thus I am not being a master of anything.

There are people out there who can be defined as a great singer. There are people out there who can be defined as great athletes. You can say this for anything, so where do I fit in this picture? Where is my place in this world?

To be continued. To be answered another time.

It’s always another time with me… I am sick of it.

I just disappoint myself feeling like this, as if I am just all talk and nothing more concrete to show for it. I have lived too many recent years trying to survive, just trying to hang on by a thread like I was going to die if I didn’t.

Where is my opportunity to shine? Where are my chances to impress people with all of my respective capabilities?

I wish the universe would just tell me… I wish the universe would just give me a sign!
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The 54th Deadline: Sustenance

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“You are what you eat as they say, so just try to eat a bit better here and there.”

I love food. As someone who works with food on a weekly basis, it’s only natural to expect me to like actually eating it. And I do like to indulge and try different kinds of foods out there when I can.

As an aspiring chef, a lot of the process of improving just involves experimenting, figuring out what works and what doesn’t and then constantly applying new techniques into the mix until something good results.

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However, as much as I love to eat, I know at some point I have to make a significant decision and think about my health as a whole. Because you see… I can only admit I was not blessed with an amazing metabolism. I cannot just eat whatever I want. Everything I do put into my body can and will adversely affect me.

But as much as I am aware of this, for especially the past year, I have not been eating well per se. Let’s just say there has been a lot of junk food, soda and other things that are fine in moderation. However, to eat and drink it just about every day like some college student away from home for the first time is quite unhealthy.

Granted, working at the restaurant actively somewhat evens it out. I am stronger than I have ever been before, but I would need to do some kind of consistent workout routine to get the cut, toned-body look.

And this is the crossroad I find myself at as a person who wants to be a chef and also loves to eat: where do I draw the line to balance eating with actually taking care of myself?

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I can continue with my bad habits and just ignore my health entirely. I can just eat whatever with not a single concern over what’s going into my mouth and how it all plays out for my well-being.

I could be like that, but I don’t want to for a variety of reasons.

I want to live a good, enjoyable and long-lasting life. I want to be on this planet for as long as I can, and it’s not going to happen if I keep hacking years off of my life with a subpar diet.

I realize I don’t have “cool” vices like smoking to my name, or other things such as excessive alcohol drinking. Still, too much soda does the body wrong regardless. Pick your poison, as they say.

I have been down the really unhealthy path before, where I could tell I was just gaining weight and just becoming really unappealing in a variety of ways.

I felt fat.

I lacked energy.

I craved food all of the time.

I was always out of breath with minimal exercise like walking up the stairs.

I disgusted myself, and feeling so disgusted prompted me to do something about it.

The list of legitimately alarming signs grew and grew as much as the number on the scale, so I made a decision to go on a diet that worked. I lost a lot of weight, felt better about myself and then another turning point in life forced me to undo a lot of what I had accomplished. Continue reading

The 54th Deadline: Shots

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“Opportunities always pop up, but taking a shot at them is always another matter.”

Opportunities are always there. In fact, they occur constantly. Many of us just happen to miss our chance for whatever reason. Just think about life as a series of said opportunities, and you are in for a heavy dose of hindsight and potential regret.

You think about that one person you liked but didn’t ask out.

You think about that one club you could have joined.

You think about that activity you could have learned at an earlier stage.

You think about all of the friends you could have made.

You think about all of the potential memories you passed on for other things.

All of this and more… It’s what life is about if you really break it down. There are numerous chances to take your shots at all kinds of things. Even if you miss your mark completely, I do believe now after many years of sad and dark days that it’s definitely better to go nuts and try as many things as you can while you still can.

If you don’t do stuff while you can, then what are you doing? That’s the real question here.

I recall a particular situation that happened near the conclusion of my senior year of high school. It was part of a special senior ceremony of sorts where the principal gathered the kids on the cusp of graduating to meet up in the gym and talk about how monumental graduation was for us.

She asked us to participate in a little activity of sorts. She would list out a bunch of random things we could have done in high school to stay involved. The kids who did any of the things would stand up and remain standing.

They were typical, high school-related activities.

Did you play in a sport?

Did you go see a high school play?

Did you take advanced classes?

Did you volunteer for a school-related function like a dance?

You get the idea. All the principal was doing was trying to highlight us special kids who actually did activities within our four years of being students.

To my surprise, there were a lot of kids who remained sitting after the principal was done asking questions to us seniors. To this day, I still wondered…

What the heck did those kids do? Continue reading

The 54th Deadline: Ingredients

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“More often than not, the necessary ingredients are right in front of you.”

The last time I talked about seeking a recipe for life itself, I started to realize how many resources I truly had to my name.

I have a job to call my own, which means I have money coming in to take care of things. And with this money, independence has become possible. I have gradually become a lot more self-reliant in the past few years, which is a huge difference versus being a sponge at home when I was living unemployed with my parents and whatnot.

But most importantly of all, I still have the option to pursue the next stage in life. That particularly elusive stage that I have been desiring for so long now. I dream about it. I ponder about what I need to do and what I have done wrong so far.

In more ways than one, it consumes me. It eats away at me and fills me up with a ton of guilt that I have not figured it all out yet. It has become a daily challenge of fighting off the sense of “shame” or whatever you want to call it, but its influence definitely gets to me.

I just find myself cycling over and over again, as if something is causing me to loop.

I make some sort of progress. I move two steps forward, and then I get yanked right back like life itself is toying with me. As a result, I can’t help but feel stuck. I hate dragging my heels for so long when I should have already been on my way toward where I need to be.

This much is true. It is evident in how I keep going back to the same checkpoint I have already been to over and over again, as if everything just repeats and replays itself to torture me.

I had a premonition of sorts tonight. I was literally about to sit down to play video games for a few hours before I opted to write this blog post out instead. I just came to realize that I have had more than enough time to add toward what I have already started long ago.

I could either just play some games or blog. I am glad I am opting for the latter. Instead of just killing time when I feel lazy or unmotivated, I should be utilizing it. I should force myself if I really need to…

The building blocks are there. The ingredients have been laid right in front of me.

I just have not been very good about putting it all together.

An egg is just an egg, right? Well, the same egg can become a tasty and scrumptious scrambled egg when you work your magic with it.

Lots of things don’t become anything until something happens to it.

With this same logic, I can’t be anything unless I act as my own catalyst toward literally transforming myself into something much more…

It is just the nature of cooking, in general, to be 100 percent honest.

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