Columbus, OH, USA
Sweater, Forever 21 | Button-down, thrifted Ralph Lauren | Necklace, Maxnina | Skirt, thrifted Hollister | Tights, Kohl's | Shoes, DSW
Photos by my brother

A pair of sweatpants. Ninety-five percent cotton, five percent spandex. Kids Large. Flared bottoms. Dusty blue. A big ol' hole on the butt.

I loved those sweatpants. They weren't exactly stylish, but they were comfy--so comfy that I proudly sported them many days a week as a grade schooler, and continued to wear them as pajama pants until sophomore year of high school.

I refused to retire them, even when a very conspicuous hole developed in a very conspicuous place. I begged my mom to patch them, and she complied. But not even careful mending could compensate for the basic laws of repeated wear. Eventually, I surrendered, beginning the search for a replacement pair.

Flash forward to Thanksgiving break, freshman year of college. I'm having trouble letting go again, but this time not of sweatpants--I'm having trouble letting go of the past.

It was just as I had feared: coming home for the first time was not the completely carefree, comforting, warm experience for which I had hoped. I had idealized my return, forgetting that there will be problems whatever we do, wherever we go--just different ones. 

Instead of frantically typing papers, I found myself struggling to understand my new role in old friendships. Instead of grinding out problem sets, I found myself feeling selfishly disheartened by how life had continued just fine without me. Was I that replaceable? I had temporarily escaped the the tumultuous waves of school only to be tossed into the fierce winds of my now-alien hometown. 

Don't get me wrong--it was a blessing to spend time with family, catch up with friends, devour all the bok choy in sight, sleep in my own bed, confirm that my driving skills hadn't deteriorated. I was touched by my enthusiastic welcome and grateful to be home. But coming back was undeniably unnerving: it seemed as if both nothing and everything had changed.

Home is still home, but it's no longer the same place I left three months ago. As with my old pair of sweatpants, time has passed, and the hole has grown. 

It's time to let go. It's time to accept the change, adapt accordingly, and keep living. It's time for a new pair of sweatpants. 
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Duality // GlassesShop Review

Cardigan, thrifted Target | T-shirt, Old Navy | Skirt, JCPenney | Belt, Forever 21 | Scarf, gift (Gap) | Boots, Tommy Hilfiger | Glasses, GlassesShop (20% off with code LilyX20)
The glasses in this post were sponsored by GlassesShop. All opinions are my own.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, my resident counselor fashioned a colorful construction paper turkey on my floor's bulletin board. Beneath the turkey, he pinned a note: write something you're thankful for on my feathers!

Some of the responses were sincere, others off-color. One in particular, however, caught my eye:

The relative bad that makes good good.

I wish I knew who wrote it. I wish I could thank whoever it was for the insightful reminder of the intrinsic, beautiful duality in the world. But at the same time, not knowing contributes to the intrigue, the serendipity of it all.

School is not easy. It's easy to become hopelessly and helplessly entangled in the self-imposed pressure of high expectations. I want to earn A's in as many classes as possible. I want to master my music for orchestra and lessons. I want to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and sleep well. I want to make meaningful connections. I want to explore new activities. I want to attend social events. I want to feel like I'm making something of myself.

Sometimes, this pressure is suffocating. A couple times, I've cracked, my usual cheerful demeanor and composure crumbling into panic, or tear-stained cheeks and uncontrollable sobs.

But each time I've fallen apart, friends and family have graciously and gracefully helped me piece myself together. They've listened to my rants, enveloped me in warm hugs, patiently explained complex math problems, tediously reviewed early drafts of papers. They are encouraging, uplifting.

It's true--bad can indeed be good. As painful as it is sometimes, I am grateful for the opportunity to study in such a stimulating environment, particularly because it's allowed me to realize that I am far from alone as I tackle each challenge.

I, too, am thankful for the relative bad that makes good good.

*                 *                  *

Similarly, that resonant observation also applies to my experience with this pair of glasses from GlassesShop. When I first tried them on, I was jarred by how disorienting and blurry they made my vision. I was convinced that they had gotten my prescription wrong, but after playing around with the frames, I realized that the lenses were perfectly fine if I looked straight ahead, only becoming distorted when I peer out the sides.

I still would not recommend this specific pair of glasses because of the distortion, but I am definitely pleased with this company's customer service. Since I thought my prescription was wrong, I emailed one of their representatives to describe the problem. Her reply was prompt and courteous, and she assured me that each pair is double-checked and then offered to send a new pair if I were able to verify problems with the prescription.

Again, I learned something good because of something bad. Rest assured they strive to get things just right the first time, and strive to make things better otherwise. They have a wide selection of trendy frames, and I especially liked their wayfarer options. I will warn you though, that because their prices are inexpensive, the case is not very protective--it's a basic plastic one won't do much if dropped. Other than that, do check em out if you're looking for some new frames, and don't forget to use the 20% discount in the outift details!

Have a beautiful weekend and safe travels for the holidays,
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One outfit, three locations:
Amherst College, MA
Hartford, CT; city outskirts
Hartford, CT; Connecticut State Capitol
Sweater, thrifted L.L. Bean ($3.90!!) | Skirt, thrifted Hollister | Boots, XOXO | Necklace, Macy's
First photo by Alura Chung-Mehdi, the rest by Dad

College: where seeing your parents, riding in a car, and eating quality food (aka Asian vegetables) are all luxuries.

I remember idealizing college. How it would be a break from the familiar, the abandonment of monotony, an adventure. And it is. But it's also a grueling challenge, an awkward separation, an uncomfortable transition. 

A couple weeks ago, my dad flew in to see me for family weekend, which was beyond a blessing. But his visit confirmed just what I had feared: that home is no longer familiar. I now have to ask about everyday life--I'm no longer part of it. Are you and mom still grocery shopping on Saturdays? Do you still order out every now and then? 

Technology makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family, but staying in touch is inherently different from remaing a part of their immediate lives. Video calls cannot replace physical presence. There's only so much you can share and understand behind a computer screen--distance is a barrier to delving beyond the surface of our nuanced lives, beyond the everyday occurences. 

Interestingly enough though, I feel closer to my family. It's easy to take parents and siblings for granted when you live at home, when they're always there. To be completely honest, I didn't get along well with my ten-year-old brother--bickering, criticism, sass, and sarcasm dominated our relationship. But last week, he said he wanted to mail me some of his Halloween candy. It was touching, considering that I could barely finagle a kit kat out of him last year. And via old-fashioned email and the weekly video call, I probably tell my parents more about current happenings than I did in high school. 

It's a bit different with my friends--our worlds sometimes feel like separate spheres. It's unsettling. I miss having deep talks, adventuring, even experiencing the mundane with them. But the mark of true friendship is being able to walk different paths and still remain invested in one other. Letters, messages, and skype sessions may not be ideal, but they're nonetheless uplifting. 

And in less than two weeks, I'll be home again. I wonder sometimes if I'll enjoy returning as much as I envision. I feel like nomad, oscillating between two places that are now equally unfamiliar. Feeling uncomfortable and lost, however, are regular symptoms of growing pains. And college is a challenge I strongly believe will be well worth it in the end.

Here's to exploring, searching, wandering, and learning.

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