On the Move

I moved out of my host family’s house on May 24th. The administration office at my school said I was the first international student who does not travel back to their home country during the summer, and there were lots of things to figure out. My decision to stay in States was complicated. I’m a rising senior and there were college preparatory things that I’d like to do, like writing application essays early. I’m also going to a two-week archaeology camp in June and a two-week writing workshop in July which I’m thrilled about.

I felt a sense of guilt not being able to visit my grandparents. But I decided to not let guilt and shame to swallow me. I’m done doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m not living my life to become who I’m supposed to be, I’m living my life to be who I am. (For those who feel like they’re not living their authentic life, I highly recommend Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae. It’s an inspiration.)

I have been here for two years, and although imperfect (it’s hard to not be furious at the state of today’s world), America had felt more familiar than my country of origin. I’m proud of my cultural heritage, but I adopted this country as my new homeland. I love my grandparents dearly and cherish every opportunity to talk to them by phone calls or FaceTime. But I will stay, and I will not feel ashamed the next time someone say I’m Americanized. I’m a mixture of both continents that nurtured me and I’m not meant to be fit in labels.

An older friend generously offers me to stay at her place during the summer. The past couple of weeks, I gradually moved my boxes into her closets. I finished unpacking on Friday when she was at work, brought necessities at Target, and microwaved frozen dinner. Yesterday we brought groceries and I began my cooking journey. I started with upgrade ramen noodles and baked shrimp. Doing the cooking and cleaning makes me feel closer to adulthood because having control over what I consume gives me a sense of power.

I became more adaptable than I thought. I used to resist changes, but now I see them and the anxiety that comes with them opportunities for growth. I’m young and I will move many times more in my life, but hopefully, each step will bring me closer to my passion and my dream life (aka a cabin in the woods).

PS: I created an Instagram account: thisisaplacetocreate. If you want to see more of my photography and writing process, please feel free to follow me.

~ Ocean ~

Why I Changed My First Name (An Update)

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting for so long. I am a junior in high school and I have been overwhelmed towards the end of the school year. I took the SAT on May 4th, which I might discuss in a future post, and I have been having identity crises.

I hated my name since the beginning. It’s too feminine and it doesn’t represent me as a person. I was not a native speaker and my name was not given at birth. I chose it when I had my first English class in kindergarten. Our teachers only give us options that were feminine, common, and easy to remember. So even when I left my home country and decided to pick a pen name, I thought I had to choose a “girl’s name” that is not too weird so people wouldn’t raise their eyebrows.

My best friend said, “A name is what you made it.” I agree with her, but I still felt embarrassed to introduce myself as [insert my dead name] to a stranger. Due to the same reason, I never shared my name online. I came up with several pen names and grew out all of them. Finally, I realized it was negatively influencing my self-esteem and there was no point to continue suffering.

I considered (overthought) it for months before I started researching. I read other people’s stories and was reassured when I saw the name change had a positive impact on most of their lives. I went to websites for baby names and wrote down the names of my favorite characters. But none of them provoked a special feeling that gave me enough courage to make a decision. This is until I started a new writing project.

It was inspired by a book we were reading in English, Black Cherries. I thought it’d be a short story, but it gradually evolved into a novel. I didn’t brainstorm the protagonist’s name because it subconsciously came to my mind. “Ocean.” A perfect balance between strength and peace. As I kept writing, I grew more and more attached to the name, and at one point, I realized I should be called that.

But even after that, I still wasn’t sure. I didn’t have any doubt about the name itself. The only reason for my hesitation was what other people would think. What if people hate this name?  It’s a proper noun. They have never heard of it before. It’s different, and therefore deviant.

But it’s hard being different everywhere. I’m tired of being afraid of what people think. I’m weird enough, I might as well choose a name that is unique. They’ll love it or hate it, but at least they’ll remember me. 

I became “Ocean” on April 1st, 2019. Ironically, it was April Fool’s Day. The last straw was that I needed to turn in the enrollment form for a writing workshop (Kenyon Review Young Writer’s). I knew if I’m going to meet young writers like me, I definitely don’t want to introduce myself as [insert my dead name]. I will regret it if I don’t do anything.

I wish I can say that I have always been Ocean, but I was not. There were years when I was too afraid to be myself, beaten up by others’ opinions and my own anxiety. But now, I’m Ocean, and I’ll never look back.

Thank you for reading. There will be a future post documenting the process of my name change. See you next week! 

~ Ocean ~