A Rant from a Frustrated Fangirl.

One Direction. Quite possibly the biggest boy band in the world. There isn’t a single person I know that hasn’t heard of One Direction (okay, there was one, but he’s from a third world country, so I excuse him), and their achievements include five Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, eleven MTV Europe Music Awards, nineteen Teen Choice Awards, and plenty of others (according to Wikipedia). They have accomplished placing third in the seventh season of The X-Factor, four world tours, five (by the end of this week) albums, a collective Twitter following of over 90 million, and around £30 million each in the bank (according to Fabulous Magazine) in their short five and a half years of being a band together.

Insane.

Even with all of these achievements, there’s a stigma with being a One Direction fan. Especially if you’re not a twelve-year-old girl. I’ve had people question my age, my maturity, my mental state, and even my intellectual capabilities, and it’s quite frustrating, to say the least.

And I put all of this blame on Annie Meyer.

I remember receiving a text message from her in early 2012 asking, “Do you like One Direction?”

I remember being at a friend’s house, staring at my phone in confusion and scoffing, and my simple response: “Lol, no. Why?”

Somehow at the end of that night, Annie Meyer convinced me to go see One Direction at Gexa Energy Pavilion in June with her, and she promised, “By the time we go to the concert, you will know all of their music and you will fall in love with them. I guarantee it.”

She was right.

I protested tons, but I remember her, one night, sharing with me about how “What Makes You Beautiful” influenced her. It’s a pretty simple song with the beginning riffs of “Summer Love” from Grease, but the fact that my out-of-this-world, beautiful best friend felt ugly, and the song changed her thoughts about how she felt about herself sealed the deal. These five boys changed her life, and as the empath that I am, there was something about this boy band that I couldn’t deny. They too, changed my life.

At this point, rather than Annie force-feeding me too many interview videos and Tumblr posts, which she did, I started to accept the fact that these four British boys and that one Irish lad were super talented and charming, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop just trying to find out everything I could about them. I remember going on a scavenger hunt to look for the “Up All Night” Concert DVD in three different Wal-Marts. I remember the first time I saw them live, drunk and crying over how beautiful and talented all five of them are, and then driving to Houston to go see them the next night. I remember staying up all night with Annie, reblogging way too many pictures, trying to figure out if I was going to be the future Mrs. Horan or Mrs. Payne. (Sorry Liam, I’m no longer into you.)

Three and a half years later, I’ve seen them live four times (Dallas and Houston for the Up All Night tour, Dallas for the Take Me Home tour, Manchester for the On the Road Again tour), and I’ve spent too many hours on Tumblr and YouTube, when I probably should’ve been sleeping, studying, or doing other productive things.

I’ve cried way too many times as I’ve seen how wonderfully they’ve treated fans and people around them and when Zayn left the band back in March. I’ve met so many different friends just because we shared the one connection of being fans of the boys. I’ve laughed way too many times just watching random “Funniest One Direction Videos *insert year here*” videos on YouTube. This may make me sound crazy or stupid or however else you think, but it honestly hurts my heart that people would judge other people just because of an interest that they have.

We allow middle-aged men to dress up in weird make-up, organise parties, spend way too much money on tickets and obsess over sports teams, while we ridicule young adult females who also like to dress up in weird make-up, organise parties, spend way too much money on tickets and obsess over boy bands. Where’s the fairness in that?

The boys in One Direction are now currently between the ages of 21-23 (Louis turns 24 next month!), and they sing songs that they write themselves about sex, heartbreak, love, and their life experiences, and we still expect their fanbase to be 12-year-old girls. We belittle the fans and tell them that something that they either simply like or that even has possibly changed their lives is stupid, and we tell them that they must be mental, and we think we’re still kind human beings when these girls close in, shut off from the world, and are afraid to share their dreams and other interests, and who are we to judge others for what they like?

And not only have people ridiculed the fans, but people have ridiculed the boys.

When Zayn left the band because he craved normalcy and needed a break, people jumped in laughing that their life was way too easy to ever need a break. When the boys had to cancel a gig in Belfast a few weeks ago because Liam ended up in the hospital due to an anxiety attack, people were quick to tell the boys that they would never have anything to be anxious about. Louis becoming a father. Harry and his ex-girlfriends. The Niall, Ellie, and Ed love triangle. People joke that their lives are jokes and that they should kill themselves, which is never a topic to be spoken lightly about. And like the criticism against the fangirls, people also think all of this is okay.

I guess I’m here to say that it’s okay to like whatever you like, but it’s not okay to make fun of people for the things that you dislike. Whether it be about One Direction, Apple, cucumber water, or Broadway musicals, let your opinions stay opinions and never think of them as facts. Because you never know how something could make somebody else feel.

Also, five things:

  • Though I’m glad they’re finally taking a break, because they so deserve one, I’m extremely sad and though they’ve promised, I really hope they come back.
  • How can Harry Styles be so beautiful? I don’t get it.
  • I will forever want to marry Niall Horan.
  • I can’t believe Louis’s gonna be a father.
  • One Direction’s newest album, Made in the AM, comes out this Friday. You should probably go buy it.

You May Say that I’m a Dreamer…

I’m almost positive that when we were six, our parents, our teachers, and basically every other adult that was around us told us that we could be whatever we want to be. They let us use our imaginations and believe that someday we could be astronauts, the President of the United States of America, and Britney Spears. We would have days at school where we got to dress up like what we wanted to be when we grew up (as long as it was in dress code, of course.), and we would be so excited to grow up.

I remember being seven and being the first person in the second grade at my elementary school who had read a chapter book, which is amazing achievement, considering I was forced to take ESL up until that year, because my native language is Vietnamese. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to write. I wanted to be among the likes of Ann M. Martin, Barbara Park, and whoever wrote those Mary-Kate and Ashley books, and let others escape into a world of not their own, like how these books let me escape mine.

As I grew a bit older, I made a goal that I wanted to be a New York Times Bestselling Author, and once I achieved that, then my life was complete.

By the time I was sixteen, I had written three complete novellas and hundreds of short stories. They weren’t the best, but I was proud of myself. I achieved something. For someone who didn’t see much coming out of her life, these achievements meant the world to me, and they’re still something I hold dearly to this day. I’m proud of sixteen year old Jennifer.

But soon after that, I reached a writer’s block, a block that still stumps me to this day. Seventeen year old Jennifer deleted her stories and stopped looking back at them, knowing that nothing would ever come from it.

You see, when you get older, all of the people who told you that you can be anything you want to be are the same people who tell you that the world is hard. They tell you that you need to find something stable, something substantial, something that you can make a living off of, and you should throw the illogical dreams that you may have in the trash. So at 17-18, I no longer was excited to grow up, because all I saw were my friends and acquaintances starting to change their “dreams” for what was logical — majoring in science, medical, or engineering degrees because those are the jobs they’ll find when they leave uni, picking jobs that they hated because it was better than to not make any money at all, and even settling down with people they didn’t like because they were afraid they were never, ever going to fall in love.

Twenty-four year old Jenn is now saying, “Screw all of this.

I was talking to my friend, Leon, the other week, and he was sharing to me about how he would love to design cars someday. He was telling me about how he needs to take specific courses in uni to reach this goal and about how hard they are to get into, and how if he doesn’t get into the school in Germany, then he would either have to go to London or California, which is even harder and also super expensive, especially since it’s out of the country.

Logically speaking, that all makes sense. Universities are competitive and expensive, and to do something as obscure as designing cars is hard to achieve. I gave up on my writing dream at age seventeen, because I understood that not that many people ever become New York Times Bestselling Authors. I’ve read too many horror stories of people being turned down again and again from publishing companies and “wasting” their life for something that was never going to happen.

But I hate being pessimistic, especially when I’m speaking to other people, so before I responded to Leon about how it could be impossible, I sat there for a bit and I prayed.

And I prayed some more…

And I prayed some more…

And then God responded to me, “Jenn, what are you doing? I gave you dreams for a reason.

On Pais, we have a thing called the Kingdom Principles, and one of my favourite ones is “Use It or Lose It.”

When they are explaining this to us, they start off with sharing the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In this Parable, the master gave three of his servants variable number of talents, each according to their ability. The first servant, he gave ten. The second, he gave five, and the last, he gave one. They each went away and invested in their talents, except for the last one who ended up hiding the money in the ground. When the master came back, he applauded the first two servants for investing in their talents and eventually doubling their profits, but when he realised the last servant didn’t do anything with it, he became furious and took everything away.

When we invest into what our master (aka God) has given us, it’ll double and be so worthwhile, but the sad part is, we think we do this! But honestly, the majority of the time, we are the last servant who doesn’t do anything with the gifts that God has given us, but we just do what we think we’re supposed to do. And then what happens? Well, in my life, I stopped writing and have regretted that craving in my life for the past seven years.

You see, if God is the God He says He is, if He created us from nothing as people who are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” then He created our brains. I would say, if He created our brains, then He definitely created our hearts. Not only does He give us wisdom, intelligence, and enough common sense to make decisions on what we should do, but He gives us passions and purpose and motivation to fulfill all of these things. Because even if they seem impossible, when we achieve our dreams, we get to say that we did this all for the wondrous glory of our God.

When I become a Bestselling Author, then it is all because of God. He did this, and He got to use my gifts, my strengths, my passion to achieve this. All I have to do is to say yes, and do it. If Leon ends up designing and creating cars in the future, then that is all because of God. All he has to do is say yes, and do it. We are here alive, breathing, and living to exalt the glory of God to everybody that we see and meet, so that way one day, they too will say, “I believe in a God that is so much greater than everything that has ever existed. THAT is who I have put my faith in.

Now I can safely say that I’m back on the track of writing again, and I hope you all can say the same with your goal(s). I hope this encourages anybody who reads this in any way, and I am so excited to live in a world where we can truly believe that we can be anything we want to be “when we grow up.”

Now… What do you want to be?

Ps. Sometimes dreams change, and that’s okay. I used to think it was cool to play soccer (football?) when I was a kid and how awesome it would be if your job was just to run around a field, kicking a ball all day. Then I played YMCA soccer for a season when I was 10, and my team won zero games the whole season, and we probably scored a total of two goals in all of those games. (I didn’t score any of those goals.) That’s when I realised I hate running, and that being athletic is not my forte. So that dream quickly ended. Go with where God is truly guiding you and not with just what’s cool. Yeah.

Jenn and the Not-So-Terrible, Not-Really-Horrible, Pretty Good, the Opposite of Bad Day.

Do you know what my favourite thing about Jesus is?

The fact that He makes all things new (and better.)

So today has been a disaster. Actually, no, scratch that… This week has been a disaster. My mental danger zones were hit. I had to do my least favourite activity multiple times (telling people off). I’m currently ill with an infection, among other things. I have had to take some days off of work. I’ve been in and out of walk-in clinics. I have spent way too much money on medicine and toiletries this week. Basically, this week has sucked.

I have whined. I have cried. I have hiddened underneath my covers with the curtains closed in my dark room at 2pm. I have questioned my purpose (in life and in England). I have shut down. Basically, I have wanted to die this week.

But in the midst of this rubbish week, God said, no, whispered to me, “No. Stop that. I don’t want that for you. I want you to remember joy. I want you to remember peace. I want you to remember Me.

And at that point, things seemed to change.

I have to admit that most of the time if I’m reading Scripture on a bad day, I’m a stubborn duck. I’ll read it, and I know what the Truth says, but the thing that always runs through my head is, “Yeah, that’s good, but no, I don’t wanna.”

I’m sure that’s the Depression speaking, but today, I didn’t feel like that. I felt strong. I felt powerful. For the first time in awhile, I finally opened up my heart enough to let God in. (Not that He can’t get in on His own, but… You know.)

Sometimes I forget that He cares. Like, genuinely cares. 

You know how you have those friends that’ll tell you that you look good in everything that you put on even if you know it looks like absolute trash on you? Or the friends who will let you go on through the day with pepper stuck on your tooth? Or the ones who will tell you they’ll pray for you, even if you know they’ll forget later? 

That is honestly how I feel about God sometimes. Of course, I think God is wonderful, but in my mind, sometimes I think of Him as the “flatter to make you feel good” friend. I mean, how many times, when you’re in a bad mood, do people just say “Oh, don’t worry. Jesus loves you!”? 

Like, c’mon… Girl, I know. But no, stop. These are real life issues.

But then I remember… He freakin’ sent His Son to die on the cross for us and our sins and wrongdoings. I mean, that’s a long way to go just to flatter us to make us feel better. It means He truly cares for us. Like, truly, truly cares for us.

The times I’ve cried this week? He’s laid there with me each time. When I had to tell off my team this week? He held my hand through my anger and discomfort. When I felt like a nuisance to everybody around me? He held my hair back as I figuratively vomitted in personal disgust.

He’s graceful enough to just be here to comfort us, but He’s also not afraid to be real with us.

He’s like my Mom. My best friend who isn’t afraid to tell me off and tell me when things are going wrong, but when she compliments me, when she tells me she’s proud of me, when she answers my phone calls while I’m on a different continent late at night to listen to my cries, frustrations, and nonsense, I know she truly loves me. This is how God loves me.

So though I’m still struggling with all of the above right now, it’s so good to remember His warm embrace and His grace that He has when we are way too stubborn to care.

Thx God ❤

The List.

Yesterday, I mentioned some qualities that I need for my future boyfriend/husband/person to have. Today, I decided to put down my “non-negotiable” list. So here it goes…

  1. The boy must love Jesus. Not in a “I go to church and know who Phil Wickham” is, but in a radical, “Let’s show everybody the love of God and change the world, because OUR God is a God of adventure.” way. I need Him to guide me closer to Jesus when I’d rather lay in bed and sleep instead. I need him to listen to my theological questions and try to answer them, no matter how stupid or deep they may be. I want him to sit down and be able to talk to me for hours about the passions God has placed in his heart and just talk about theology. I need for him to proactively just pray for things, and if he’s open to travelling the world to share about Jesus, all the better.
  2. I need somebody who’s loving and encouraging, yet also wants me to grow and be developed. There’ll be days where I just need to know that life will be okay, whether that’s in a touch, in words, or even in time. But at the same time, after I wallow for a bit, I need someone who will challenge me and push me to be better than I could’ve ever imagined and stronger than I could ever think of to be. I want someone who will speak truthfully to me and who will help me figure out how I can use my gifts and strengths even moreso, yet also someone who will understand that I need to be still and for things to be quiet.
  3. He must be humble, passionate, and kind. I understand that everybody is a bit judgmental at times, myself included, but I want my husband to be the person who will go out of his way to make sure the homeless person is fed. I want him to be the kind of person who listens to others as they share about their passions, and I want to see his face light up because their face is lighting up. I want him to come home with different projects he wants to get involved with, all because he can’t stand to see injustice in the world around him. Though he is able to take a joke when friends are playing around, I want him to be the man that people get truly excited to be around. I want them to feel about him the way I would, even if he slightly would probably make fun of me for loving One Direction.
  4. I want him to crave adventures with me. I love organisation and I love schedules and diaries, but there’s just something about spontaneity that makes my heart flutter. Whether it be surprising me with a day trip driving to the middle of nowhere just because the place has won a barbecue contest or exploring coffee shops or trying out new foods, I want to experience life with my husband.
  5. He has to be life-smart. I know the accurate term for this is “street-smart,” but I like “life-smart” more. On top of knowing how to do things like knowing how to budget, buy insurance, and file taxes, I want him to be the person who knows how and when to apologise genuinely. I want him to be able to rationally, yet still enthusiastically be able to father our children and be my husband. I want him to have experiences and be able to be a storyteller, because he’s lived them, not because he’s simply just listened to them.

Aaand, I think those are my five non-negotiables. Can’t wait to see who this ends up being!

These Days, Those Days.

Some days are really nice. 

These days, I imagine not having to leave my bed with a good, new book that’s waiting to be read with my massive mug of warm vanilla coffee. These days, the only noises flowing from my phone are my beautiful voices of the likes of Ed Sheeran, James Bay, Noah Gundersen, even Harry Styles, rather than the awful vibrating or “Tweet” text-tone, it seems to do every other second. These days, I’m ready to immerse myself into a different world. A world where I’m ready to face my fears and stand up for what I believe in. A world where I’m ready to achieve my goals and not think about the consequences. A world where I’m ready to fall in love and be snuggling with my future beau whilst doing all of the things mentioned above. 

These days, I’m so sure of my strengths and my talents that God has given me. That He’s created me to be beautiful, and kind, and patient, and witty. That He has clothed me with strength and dignity and that I can laugh at the days to come. These days, I’m so sure that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that He’s created my inmost being; He’s knit me in my mother’s womb. These days, I’m so sure that He cares for me so much that He’s already numbered the hairs on my head (not that I have much anyway), and that He would never leave me, nor foresake me. 

These days are the days I aim for when I wake up in the morning. These days are the days where I feel as if I’m actually sane and that I have friends who love me and I just can’t stop laughing at every single thing I come across. These days are the days I want people to see and remember me for the rest of my days.

But these days fly by too quickly, and unfortunately, sometimes within the same sunlight, these days turn into those days.

Those days, my coffee gets too cold from my absent-minded brain forgetting it exists and I’m throwing an almost-full mug of watered-down, grounded-up beans away. Those days, the social silence from my phone helps me remember that people don’t choose to text me first, that I always have to make the first effort, but maybe I shouldn’t, because I don’t want to annoy others, because what if they’re doing something else far more important? Those days, I remember that I’ve put myself in this world, because I’m afraid. 

Those days, I’m afraid people will never hear me, that they’d perpetually think I have nothing purposeful to say. Those days, I’m afraid I’ll fall behind, behind the plans and the diaries and the expectations laid upon me, or worse, that I’d be content with my monotonous life and that I’d never develop and grow. Those days, I’m afraid that I’ll never fall in love. At least, not in the way I want to and need to and that worries me. 

Those days, I’m worried he won’t understand that I’d just need him to lay with me, with our fingers intertwined, and listen to me, while I confusingly spill my guts on why my heart feels empty and weird, even when he is adjacent to me. Those days, I’m worried he won’t understand how much I hate public displays of affection, but so desperately need to feel close, to feel warmth, to feel connected. Those days, I’m worried he won’t understand my need to be led closer to Christ, because I fall into those days way too often and I need his help and encouragement to reassure that I can be a wife, a mother, a Godly Proverbs 31 woman.

Those days, I feel pathetic and useless. Like my gifts are rubbish, like Captain America’s non-ability to fly or super strength without his shield. Like who needs somebody who is obsessively organised and who will remember practically everything you mention to her? Who needs the person who is addicted to a boy band and claims that they have changed her life, though she will never in a million years ever be known in their existance? Who needs the girl who will talk your ear off, in hopes that she’ll make you feel somewhat comfortable with her though the conversations are just a window to her soul, showcasing the words, “Love me. Be my friend. Hear what I’m trying to say underneath.” Those days, I feel perpetually small and like others can just smush me without thinking. Sometimes, though I know God never makes mistakes, God created one with me and that I’m just here to take up space. Space that somebody else can take up instead. Someone who’s happier than I am, who can love more than I can, who people want to be around constantly. Those days, I don’t understand how anybody can love me, how anybody can stand to be around me, how anybody can want to speak to me, much less the Creator of the whole universe. I don’t want God to get sick of me, like everybody else, and leave.

Those days are the days I can barely breathe, because I’d rather hide underneath my warm duvet than to deal with the callous chill that freezes my brain. Those days are the days I feel lonely and that I’ll remain forever lonely, because I’m too exhausted to try to connect with the fear of being cut off afterwards. Those days are the days I’m afraid people will see and remember me for the rest of my days.

Some days are really hard.

The Secrets Inside the Wardrobe.

Growing up, I always found it strange that C.S. Lewis chose a wardrobe to be the portal where Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy magically discovered Narnia. A wardrobe is such an ordinary household object, but he chose it to be something that transported them to a different world, where they found friendships, learned how to love, endured hardships, and became royalty.

When I look at the wardrobe in my bedroom, I see a huge chunk of wood with two doors that hides my jackets and t-shirts, and two drawers underneath that hide all of my other clothing, with stickers that my hosts’ son has plastered all over the side when the chest used to belong to him. When I’m busy, the contents of it dwindles down to just hangers and random dresses I can’t find everyday use for. With that, that also means that when I finally am able to relax for a bit, hide in my room and “introvert”, the space in the closet becomes a bit tighter with all of the contents I’m storing in.

Though I’m pretty organised, I realise that I have a tendency to let things build up. This could be dirty laundry that I’ve been too lazy to wash, negative “logic” that makes me way too self-critical, or simply the tiny little sins that I do on a daily basis that I try not to let others see. Sometimes they don’t all fit in the wooden cupboard, but I’m stubborn, so I struggle and I push and I make sure that I can close the drawers.

In The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Lucy discovers the hidden world of Narnia, she leaves the door to the wardrobe open, because “she knew that it is very foolish to shut oneself into any wardrobe.” Edmund, in contrast, “jumped in and shut the door, forgetting what a very foolish thing this is to do.” I am Edmund. I always shut the door. Because if I don’t and somebody walks in, then they can see my mess, they can see my flaws, they can see me. They can see my Narnia. I mean, it’s kind-of nice to have a whole world as your own. You can be yourself, and nobody can tell you what to do. It’s your world.

But the difference is… Edmund forgot to close the door… I purposely close mine.

My wardrobe obviously doesn’t literally contain a whole world with snow, monarchy and Mr. Tumnus, but it does contain my feelings, my thoughts, my heart, and other things that I hold dear and have trouble letting go, even if I can’t find a true purpose for it. What if somebody looks in my closet and sees that now-way-too-small t-shirt I’ve kept for the past seven years? What if somebody sees the hoodie that I haven’t been willing to throw out, because of the sentimental feeling it gives me, even if it’s for somebody I should not care for or be fond of anymore? What if somebody sees all of my leggings with all of my the holes in the knees and realise that the things I obtain can’t be maintain in perfect condition, or worse, that I’m not perfect?

Reading the series, it’s easy to say that Edmund messed up. With the door closing behind him, he followed a different light. A light that led him to the witch. A light that led him to betraying those around him for Turkish Delights. A light that led him to a world with an outcome that ended up pushing him away from who he needed to be. And Lucy. Wow, Lucy. She knew. She knew it was foolish to shut oneself in not just that wardrobe, but in any wardrobe. She knew that if she wanted to not trap herself in her world and to let others in, she needed to keep it open.

And that’s what I’m aiming to do.

In attempts to be a tiny bit less guarded, to be okay with crying more, to [hopefully] be less idiotic, and to be more approachable to other human beings, I’m going to not shut the doors to my wardrobe.

The doors are staying open.