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

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The 54th Deadline: Luxury

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“We all should count the blessings in our lives, but certainly having money makes a difference.”

I have never been “rich” before, nor have I really experienced what it is like to be even “well-off” growing up. My parents both worked paycheck-to-paycheck jobs, and this meant money was limited. Especially when I was younger, you could rule out random luxuries like cable television, exciting vacations out of state or anything of that sort. Sure, not getting these kind of things growing up kind of sucked to some degree, but I managed.

They are all luxuries after all, and all of which is tied to money. The $ symbol means a lot, and both of my parents immigrated to this country to have more opportunities. When my mother, bless her heart, would talk about how she was so happy making $5 an hour back then…

You can’t help but feel a bit humbled by such a thing, that someone like my mother was so content with making that little of money to pay the bills with and put food on the table. And yet, here I am in 2016, toiling away just to establish some kind of stability in the bank account department.

But the thing is… It never feels like it is enough. It never seems to get anywhere. It just feels like a never-ending grind, and you aren’t even moving an inch every few steps. It’s like a millimeter or even less than this at every possible checkpoint. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Sure, in principle this sounds all good, but I don’t want to keep doing this for the next five years, let alone for the rest of my life.

I started off as an aspiring journalist when I graduated from college years ago, and obviously I wasn’t going to be rich being a bonafide journalist. I kept telling myself that I was not in it for a money, but my viewpoints on such a notion has since changed after being at the mercy of having a limited amount of income to my name for any given month.

As someone who has been long-termed unemployed for extended periods at a rsz_1rsz_hayate_no_gotoku_2nd_season_-_19_-_large_13_2137.jpgtime, as someone who has had his share of wake-up calls when staring at the monthly bank summaries, I want to change my life around and this all starts with the notion of money.

Yes, I am going to come off as a bit superficial, but hey… I am typing this blog post out using a computer I scrounged penny after penny to put together. It’s not the best piece of computer equipment on the market, but I am proud I made it all possible because I decided to tough it out and work long hours just to save up for this dang thing. It’s mine. I earned it.

And thus, something like the computer I am using to the other random blessings in my life… I can’t take them for granted. I shouldn’t. I made this dire mistake over the years when I would be so complacent with having actual luxuries in my life without really understanding or appreciating what the true value in each of them was.

A roof over my head.

A fridge full of food.

A bed to sleep on at night.

Each of these random luxuries and more were things I could say I had. There are people out there who are homeless. There are people out there who are legitimately suffering due to lack of money, but I always had some kind of safety net to keep me from completely reaching the very bottom whenever I happened to fall.

But the latest chapter in this ongoing story has me in a position where I need to evaluate and transition toward the true next stage of the game. It is as if the universe always finds a way to give me another catalyst to utilize. I just need to be smart about it and start putting it all together. My recipe for success has to come together. Continue reading

The 54th Deadline: Shortcut

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“There comes a point where trying to follow the linear path is not nearly quick enough.”

I am a mess. I have grown completely weary of trying to do things the old-fashioned way. What can I say? It has been five years and counting. After a while, it all makes me wonder what I am doing with my life. It sucks because we all should hope for happiness, whatever that may respectively be for all of us.

My idea of happiness would be attaining “success” in all of its glory. And yes, to wish for a shortcut now in this stage of the game may come off as a bit of impatience, but again… It’s been five years and counting. I don’t expect the world to throw me a bone my way after waiting this long, nor should I anticipate such a gesture. That would be foolish.

Instead, I need to think of practical ways of expediting this whole process within my power. Quite frankly, I can’t keep living like this. Well, I mean this in the sense that just gradually crawling toward my destination of the future is aggravating. I am annoyed at how long it is all taking, I am truly vexed in my own shortcomings as an individual and above all else…

I just want to make this all work. I want to be a better person. I want to be deemed a great person who has been through so much, who faced the personal brink of destruction and overcame it all to pull off something wonderful.

I should not expect to wake up tomorrow, and then boom… Success! This is not how it works. I do not want to be caught in a fantasy world all of the time. I know we need to visualize what we want at times, but there are just so many things going on in my life right now.

This paycheck-to-paycheck existence gets to me. I make just enough to survive, but never thriving irks me. I know I should not fuss so much about money, but funds in the bank account matter when you want to indulge.

For instance, do you know what I would really like to do now?
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The 54th Deadline: Priorities

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There are many times where I wonder if my priorities are in the right place. At all.

It has dawned on me lately that my personal priorities aren’t as concrete as I would like. Evidently, I am scatterbrained in many regards. And with this in mind, I have to be more of an adult and realize what I want, especially in the next stages of this complicated process.

The other day really hit me where it counted. I was cashing my paycheck, and then I just kept thinking about how I was nowhere where I wanted to be in terms of the bank account numbers.

It was a bit depressing to think about for me.

I have worked my tail off for this past year and then some, both physically at work while also trying to sift through my convoluted and unpredictable emotional state.

And what do I have to show for it?

Well, for what it’s worth, I have picked up a lot of independence as an individual. But independence aside, it just seems like everything is further away than I had envisioned. Perhaps I am too caught up in the fantasy of waking up one day, my money problems completely gone and with the freedom to do whatever the heck I want.

Of course, reality always makes its presence known.

Mind you, I am more than aware that I shouldn’t expect to be like well-off at this stage in the game. I have a ways to go. A long way. But still, is it not normal to experience frustrations linked to one’s progress or lack of said progress in general? I certainly think it is normal.

This paycheck-to-paycheck existence is commonplace. Not everyone is meant to be millionaires. Not everyone is going to have nice things.

That’s life. We aren’t equal, and we never shall be, but I believe we all have the power and capabilities of changing our own circumstances through sheer willpower and keeping our eye on the prize.

But again, it’s tough. If anyone can attain that notion of “success,” we’d all be happily married to our soulmates, we’d all drive around in nice vehicles and we’d all have this and that and even more…

I do not hate money or anything. It’s just clear that money is extremely important in more ways than one.

Gosh, if I had more money, I would make sure I had every random expense paid for, I would pay back the people who have helped me through thick and thin, I would use my money to fund my dreams and, above all else, I would use my money to make myself H-A-P-P-Y.

At the end of the day, no matter what number is showing in your bank account, money ultimately should impact one’s general happiness. I make enough money to get by, but I never have enough to, say, go on a nice vacation to another place.

Actually, I have never even lived outside of the state I live in for my whole life. I have only been to two other states my entire life. I have never even been to Canada…

And why? Because of money.
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The 54th Deadline: Tagline Transition

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There comes a point where life forces you to transition toward the next stage. What matters now is for me to figure out what that next stage entails.

“Complete the process.”

This will be the next tagline I will use for this blog and other things.

Lately, I have been racking my brain over what few words I want to define myself with, and “Remember the name” was not quite fitting for my current situation and then some.

I am not a finished product yet. I am incomplete. But to be unfinished is not a bad thing. As long as I keep moving forward, as long as I keep putting the pieces together, the process will see its completion at some point.

It’s an inevitable conclusion to everything. It just takes time. And waiting for so long can stir up some feelings of impatience. Rightfully so, I realize I seemingly flip-flop between progress and setbacks. It is by far a frustrating crawl toward where I want to be.

I make a few steps forward, and then something either delays or pushes me back to the previous checkpoint. However, this is where resilience comes into play. This is where a sense of tenacity becomes that more important.

This tagline of “Complete the process” isn’t something revolutionary or anything of the sort, but I wanted words to live by as I sift through the positives and negatives in my life at this very moment.

On one hand, I am grateful that I am alive, living independently and able to have some semblance of hope about what I want to undertake next. Conversely, though, I am constantly struggling with myself to muster up the necessary gumption to break through to the next stage.

It is not that I lack willpower or anything like that. You just have to play the cards you’re dealt with, and sometimes you lack an ideal hand to win at a given moment. So what do you do? Win or lose, you keep playing. You just have to keep playing. It’s an odds thing. You play a large quantity of games until something favorable happens. It’s just gambling. And by the way, I suck at gambling.

Perhaps you can attribute to how I am someone who does not take many risks by default, and so I often opt for the safer route, as you will. Regardless, I think being cautious and wary of screwing up keeps me honest. Otherwise, I could have been in real hot water by now.

I am not in a position where I can make a great leap of faith and possibly reach my next destination in life ahead of schedule. No shortcuts here. That’s for sure.

Instead, I just think I am going to keep doing this step-by-step, usually grueling, journey. It will take awhile, folks. But I am willing to see what is waiting for me in the end.

Heck, I am able to do this because life threw me a bone many years ago when I was down in the dumps.

This is why I believe in life’s second (and countless other) chances. It’s why I call this blog series The 54th Deadline. I believe I definitely embody the notion that life will give you more opportunities to get it right. To those of you who think it’s always a one-and-done deal, think again.
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The 54th Deadline: Rest Required


Note: I am debating as to whether I should keep this random line box in future posts. It was just something I did a long time ago to separate the first picture and the body of the blog post’s text, but I don’t know if I should keep making it.


The 54th Deadline: Rest is just a necessary step toward recovering for another day.


Hi. I hope the holidays have been going well for you all.

For me, I haven’t had much rest, but that’s the nature of things for the time being.

Work, work, work. Oh yeah, more work on top of that. And not much for anything else in between.

It is something I do find a tad depressing about my current circumstances. I hardly get that much time to rest up when it is required. I keep soldiering through it, but I know my well-being can only put up with so much. Still, I have learned to persevere. Well, it’s more like I have forced myself to persevere, if I had to be completely honest.

I say this not out of dread, but understanding, that it’s all part of this ongoing process.

And as the story goes, I found cooking years ago and had to reinvent myself by learning how to handle the literal heat and nuances of being a helper/cook in a kitchen. My resolve was brittle and weak. My body literally had a difficult time handling a lot of pressures and physical labor.

It was incredibly difficult for me at the start, but a lot of patience from great mentors and teachers encouraged to keep my chin up. I eventually learned to cope. You just get used to it over time. Gradually, I developed some kind of backbone worthy enough of sticking around in this particular field.

When you work in a kitchen, I can say it has made me into a grittier, stronger person by all means. Without the kitchen, I don’t know where I would be to this day.

So I do tell people with complete truth that cooking saved my life. And it continues to do so. I thought I would have transitioned into the stuff I went to school for years ago, something in the writing field by now, but meh… I do use my writing for other things, so I am somewhat content with this fact for now.

However, everything has an expense that goes far beyond money.
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The 54th Deadline: Stability

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The 54th Deadline: Whether you love it or hate it, money definitely defines what you can do.


Hi there. I hope the winter season has been going well for you guys. Around here, it’s been a basically low-snow winter because the rain keeps washing it away. I don’t really want to deal with driving in the snow, so I have my fingers crossed any snow comes in limited, manageable quantities.

But yeah, I guess the topic of money has made its way up, and it’s something I can’t keep ignoring. And who can blame me? Money is very important from the start you are born in this world.

After all, money defines what kind of life you will have.

And before we go into the shallow implications of what money can entail, it’s key to realize that money is like a measure of progress, so to speak. My parents are both immigrants who came here from Vietnam to seek a better life. When it came time for them to work minimum wage/low-paying jobs, they took them without a second thought.

It was really hard at the beginning. It was beyond difficult, but my parents managed to stick through it all, and from that they tried (in their eyes) to give my two younger brothers and myself the best lives they could do with what they could earn.

Mind you, I will admit our lives were not luxurious. We didn’t have cable the whole time I was growing up.

We rarely went on real vacations, so this meant no trips to Disneyland or anything of that sort. An idea of a big trip was driving across the state to see grandma. And that was basically it, in a nutshell.

My brothers and I rarely got a lot of cool stuff compared to the other kids. My parents could seldom splurge for toys or even video games outside of a special occasion.

The list goes on, but my family was leaning toward being middle class or maybe even a tier below that, if only a little.

Still, I can say with complete honesty that life wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t fancy or something to brag about, but it was my life. Nothing too spectacular, but it was my life.

In my current state, I have learned a lot about how I am when it comes to managing my funds. In short, I am awful at it.

I really need to budget better, but by that I mean I need to start setting aside my paycheck and paying things accordingly versus just doing it sporadically.

For instance, let’s say I need food in my refrigerator. Instead of making one efficient trip to the grocery store to last me the whole week and then some, I find myself taking frequent trips and spending chunks of $20+ at a time.

Obviously, this isn’t how I should do it. What can I say? I was spoiled at one point when I was falling apart and just trying to figure out life.

When you are living at home rent-free and not having to worry about the grocery bill, you just overlook how much everything really costs to feed your own belly.

Part of it comes from me not having a stove, so I need to buy the microwaveable crap that tastes subpar, but it’s quick and easy. As an aspiring chef, I would rather just try to cook my own meals. I would be able to practice cooking and make food that is enjoyable for my taste buds.

But alas, this is the nature of my standing in life and a gauge of (or lack of, depending on how you look at it) stability.

Stability.

It’s such an important word for someone like me. A year ago on this same day, I was unemployed and on food stamps.
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