Identity & Tattoos

Being a Korean-American, it is hard to decipher what is considered appropriate. What could be deemed as a norm in America could be taboo in Korea, and vice versa. Raised with traditional parents, I was considered the “culture shock” to my family. I was not a devote Christian, I did not learn Korean fluently, and I did not spend all my hours studying. As I grew older, I began to struggle to find my own identity versus satisfying what my parents wanted. To this day I still have trouble trying to figure out what I want to do instead of doing what they would want me to. One of the biggest things that helped me realize my own identity were my tattoos. Nevertheless, a lot of Korean people look at tattoos as a taboo. People assume that you are a “bad” person with tattoos and can be connected towards gangs or rebels. Since it is frowned upon in Korean, you could imagine how well my parents took it when they found out about my smaller tattoos.

I have 10 tattoos and each one has a specific meaning towards my past. I will not go into detail with each one, but I will discuss two of my major tattoos that relate towards my past. One of my biggest tattoos are the phases of the moon. This was the one tattoo I really wanted from middle school. Ever since I was little, my parents would be working a lot to support us. My sister would be with her friends or doing extracurricular activities. Since I was alone at home a lot, I would look for the moon every night. The moon just radiated and gave me a sense of protection. It was kind of my release from the world. The moon would always give me comfort when I felt alone.

Another tattoo I have is a unalome. In Buddhism, they are the visual image of reaching enlightenment. There are spirals representing our obstacles in life and then a straight line showing we finally found harmony. The unalome are the “crowns” of the Arahants, the enlightened saints. It is a very powerful symbol of spiritual and personal quest. This meaning drew me in instantly because I have gone through numerous obstacles in my past. From abusive relationships, sexual assaults, eating disorders, etc. I always felt that there was no positivity in my life. While I will explain all those stories later (need to keep you interested in the future), I have finally found harmony in my life.

Even though I still have troubles, every day I wake up happy to be awake. My relationship with my parents have been renewed and I feel comfortable talking with them about my concerns. While I graduated from George Mason University, I have a job that I love to do and am going back to school to further my education to help others. I am getting back into weightlifting and trying to figure out my lifestyle as I go. I am slowly figuring out my identity,  planning out my future, and trying to reconnect towards the Korean culture. Even though I have dealt with some horrible situations, I live for each day and it has helped shape me as the woman here today. My tattoos help me to remember my strengths and weaknesses; also, it has helped me take a step forward in figuring out my own identity. I do plan on getting more and hope I can change my parent’s outlooks on them.

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The Struggles of a Night Owl

One thing about working night shifts, I struggle to sleep at appropriate times. Since my shifts are 12 hours, I tend to sleep during the day when everyone else is being productive. Nevertheless, I love to work the night shift instead of the day shift. I cannot fathom waking up at 0500 to get ready for a shift at the hospital. Trying both shifts, I knew that the night shift would be best for me.

However, working night shifts will affect you mentally. I have insomnia at times and get questioned by my doctor about how a 24-year-old has insomnia. People have told me to try over-the-counter sleeping medications or melatonin to help me. Trust me, I have tried, and I feel that I am slowly becoming immune to them. Now I do not go near them and try to sleep without the assistance of medicine. On my days off, I try to not mess up my sleep schedule so that I can keep it similar. I do not know if I should continue to do that or try to be up during the day. It is hard to make plans with people because I know that they would prefer to meet during lunch time. I try my best to meet with everyone when it is convenient for them, but I tend to be late since I usually sleep from 1000-1600 (give or take a couple hours; depending on how exhausted I am). Talking with others in the healthcare field, it does seem that I should try to regulate my sleep schedule, so I do not hurt my health in the future. Even though it will take some time, I hope I can normalize my sleep schedule; unless it is my shift for work.

Another thing I noticed is that I have trouble with my appetite. Because I do not want to eat anything heavy during my shift, I focus on drinking a lot of water. Now I drink about 64 ounces a day (lots of empty water bottles around my house). It is great because I can tell when my body needs fluids, but a drawback considering I run to the bathroom every hour. Since I have been focusing more on drinking water, I do not really eat that many meals a day and my stomach issues have been getting worse. I will explain my stomach problems next, but I noticed I have trouble digesting foods and struggle with abdominal pain most times. I wonder if I should try a special diet or try to eat more, but it is hard to eat consistently with the random schedule I have.

Here is a “quick” recap of my stomach problems: for the past two years, I have been having issues with abdominal pains and unspecified gastroenteritis. I have had tests and blood drawn but could not figure out a reason I was hurting. Since it has been happening more frequently, I decided to follow my family’s advice and see a specialist. Hopefully it is nothing serious and I will be able to eat proper meals again.

Working the night shift has been better for me; however, I feel that it is worse for my body. I want to continue working night shifts in the future, but I want to make sure that my health is better. But I will forever be a night owl instead of a morning lark. 

Beginnings

Here goes nothing.

I am starting a new blog to write about my journeys and obstacles in life as I face them. While dealing with mental health problems, I face each day with a new outlook. I try to stay optimistic when my brain is telling me otherwise. I hope that you will follow me alongside my path to a future I build. My past has helped me to grow and be strong; I choose to pave my own way to a better future. One of my main goals is to better myself mentally and physically.

So, I would like to thank you for reading my first post. Most of my posts may be random tangents, fitness inspirations, personal situations, past endeavors, and so on. Hopefully it will inform you about the woman I am today and how I think about living. I embrace waking up every day and facing daily challenges. I cannot wait to begin a new process in my life by opening up about myself and showing people who I am.

Thank you!