By Nikki H. Huang
Hi, readers. It’s been a while since I last wrote, but I appreciate everyone who waits patiently for my less frequent updates here on “Next by Nikki Huang.” I miss updating every week, I really do, but I am out here on my own in Boston, living, growing, erring, and succeeding in a wide variety of ways that I never had the chance to while I was living in Manila. Back home I was in my element, with a stable support network, rich social life, fascinating experiences, interesting schedule, and clear life purpose.
Here in Boston, I find myself settling into more of a routine and appreciating more of the opportunity of studying abroad. But still, this many months in, I find myself chasing people and experiences that I (prematurely) designate as those that will save me from the feeling of being only partially alive. In life, we are meant to search for stability. It’s a healthier, safer thing to do. Why can’t I resist the temptation of a volatile life?
Over here, for a while, I felt steady: I was enjoying my academics, settling into a vigorous workout schedule. I was finding friends and assimilating into a few social groups. I exceeded my own expectations in terms of performance on midterm assessments, and I’ve decided to pursue a major in Sociology and a double minor in Psychology and English. Things were looking up for me.
I was growing used to and even content with the complacency of my new life here in university: the drive to academically succeed, the inspiration to regularly work out, the simple pleasure of waking up at 7 a.m. every morning to have a coffee and do my reading before class. I thought to myself: Okay, this is my life in Boston. It is meant to be calm and mundane—boring, almost. I am meant to be learning about myself and the world with my head down instead of up and staring into the eyes of cameras, my feet on the ground instead of perched on stilettos or kicked up on an airplane seat for yet another trip to Europe for a meeting or event with my dad.
Apparently, I possess the troubling ability to live a life that never stays too boring for too long. My friends tell me my life is a TV series. While in a broad sense, this is something to be thankful for, I find myself in often compromising situations due to the restlessness inside me. There is no short supply of drama, suspense, and flair in my life, but with the highest of the highs that I live come the lowest of the lows.
I am working on the emotional regulation aspect of this all: As old a soul as I can be, the 19-year-old within me is teeming with passion, impulsiveness, and a thirst for breathtaking, heart-pounding adventure. I often think about the extent to which I’ve had to balance my head and my heart in over the past two years (I say the past two because I consider them the time I’ve really grown into myself).
As a young woman, I am constantly grappling with the powerful amounts of desire within me. I must strike a perfect balance between my thirst for life and making sure I don’t get lost in the whirlwind of my own emotions.
I have two voices in my head, opposing little beings perched on my shoulders telling me what to do. One says to take the risk, feel all the feelings, take a blind step into a dark abyss of possibility, and revel in the thrill of the fall. The other holds me back: Think, Nikki. Calculate, wait, measure, and stay reserved. Don’t focus solely on the now, because everything you do will impact your future and either compromise or enable the higher cause you intend to serve as a woman in business, as a member of a large family, as a citizen of a country you care so much about.
I’m an intense person, I know. But how can I not be? Life is too short to aimlessly be taken along on a ride. We are here, blessed to be alive and well, for a reason.
The people who open the floodgates of my emotions scare me. I see them as equal part blessings and threats, and I’ve met a fair share over the course of my life thus far. I fall hard and fast for people and places who challenge who I am, take me on an adventure as much as they are willing to join me on mine.
It’s an addicting quality that is hard to find, whether in a single person or a community of people: A heady aura of ambition, a desire to experience, and a work ethic to match. I am talking about those who pull you in and invite you to conquer the world alongside them, which is a sexy trait when idealized but a problematic one when contended with in real life. This is because world-conquering, however one may wish to go about it, involves striking a careful balance between one’s heart and one’s mind. I also find this to be doubly hard as a woman, given our increased capacity for emotion.
As a young woman, I am constantly grappling with the powerful amounts of desire within me. I must strike a perfect balance between my thirst for life and making sure I don’t get lost in the whirlwind of my own emotions, and it is something I constantly work on.
I suppose the purpose of this week’s article is to think through the emotional roller coasters I’ve been on the past three months, over here in the US, and invite all my equally young and alive readers to think about their own spiritual and emotional journeys in university. Perhaps my older readers won’t mind taking a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the naivety, bravery, curiosity, and vulnerability that colored the days of their youth.
I think the sentiment this whole article can be put in quite simple terms. As my good friend Alexa and I recently said to one another, as we agonized over the respective pains of our Bostonian collegiate lives on a dark, winter afternoon: “Damn, we’re really just out here, living.”
To be young, to be alone, to be alive. What is more beautiful, precious, precarious, and dangerous?