Isang's Blog/

{February 19, 2010}   Two Sides to Everything

It’s been a rollercoaster ride of luck. I’ve found good luck in my bad luck for the past week now. I could elaborate now on the weeks’ activities (injury, sickness and plenty of sleep). However, I want to explore an idea I’ve had ever since graduating from college. It goes along the lines of finding the good in the perceived bad.

Doing what is uncomfortable, uncommon, and unexpected has been one side to my journey so far. During college one is exposed to some of the most extreme situations and behaviors on and off the campus. It was there that I not only experienced my most unflattering and uncomfortable moments, but also thrived because of them. Thank You to friendships and relationships, this everyday now knowing smile would not have reached my face without you 🙂 .

When it comes to remembering the moments that tested my character and direction, the ones that come to mind involve instigating a fight in a park with rowdy catcalling guys resulting in a black eye for me (pride was hurt more though), being found drunk and miserable after bad breakup drama in the same park, athletic failures, bad judgments and the biased opinions of people. A good friend would later admit she felt I was a target for mishap and unexpected happenings. Indeed she was right. Along the way I came upon and created situations that could only be described as a bit off the smooth path. Yet even before leaving college, I knew that without them I would have missed out on some pretty eye opening revelations.

I do relate to what is uncommon, what is unexpected. How I got to Columbia, what I did during it (try house cleaning the dirtiest of NYC apartments and nude modeling for art classes :P) to name a few. Nude modeling…let’s go into that a little bit. Actually I love the dropped jaw effect when I tell people I did nude modeling. I remember laughing with my college friends joking that I was young and desperate for money (nope), which is why I participated. Truth is I never really cared to make clear to them what it meant to me since they seemed quite content with joking. After spending time at nude beaches with Sis and friends back in Cali, I wasn’t at all uncomfortable to take my clothes off in front of people in an art class. In fact it was empowering to see student artists transform me into a glorifying and beautiful art portrait (sort of like Rose in Titanic). Rather than being like the naked or near naked sexy women gracing the covers of numerous magazines or TV shows for the sake of just being sexy, I was valued for the inspiration I gave for shading, emotion and grace of the woman’s body. Now I know how different this post comes off as from other ones (they were mostly about biking). And yes, there are some who probably are squirming from discomfort with the idea of nude modeling. But I’m not here to convince anyone of anything about that profession. More to use it as an example, a real and honest example of how encouraging it is to do something you’re not comfortable with, that you never thought you could or would do.

If a person even knew how I struggled as a young girl with my image, they’d be amazed at how far I’ve come.As a young girl I was so conscious of my body. I wouldn’t even wear v-neck shirts or shorts because I felt people would judge my neck length (thought it was too long) or legs (they’re quite muscular ;)). I adapted to long sleeves and pant legs whenever I could, and even practiced placing my hands on my face to cover what I used to consider defects (my beauty marks). My relatives thought something was wrong with me when I wouldn’t even want to wear shorts at the beach. During the time period where my sister would be dressing up quite sexy (you’re hot sis!!) to go out with friends, I began to reassess what it was I thought about myself. I found I thought quite low of myself. It was down the road after I began questioning my self-esteem that I was introduced to the nude beach concept. That’s right folks. A nude beach: a mixture of old and young folk (mostly old…they care the least) running around in their birthday suits playing volleyball or catching waves. While they may raise eyebrows or receive disapproval from conservative parents, their happiness level was up a few notches than the average beachgoer. I mean the women didn’t even have to worry about what their figure looked like in their bathing suits. They just didn’t wear one to skip the annoyance.

When I first arrived to one, that’s when I saw I was limited in what I do. By the way, this isn’t some Chicken Soup for Myself Blog or some self-help article. For god sakes I’m talking about a nude beach being inspiration for part of my confidence ;)…it’s hilarious and awesome. I don’t like limits, especially ones that bear down on your confidence and dreams. So there you go…at that point I was drained for always feeling people judged my looks and said to hell with it all! I went running towards the water ready to be a mermaid (not the Disney version)! Now granted that’s not how all people overcome their body self-esteem issues ;), but it was the best thing I did for myself.

The majority of people I’ve met were not comfortable with the idea of taking off their clothes in front of others. But when I asked them what they thought of other people doing it, most would say they wish they could follow suit. It was a bonus to be paid for helping others recreate what so many of us find beautiful in women, in art. It’s quite liberating to not feel judgment from anyone about your body, to willingly stand there bare and confident. Not many people I meet feel comfortable about their bodies, and I even persuaded a few friends to get over their insecurities by trying out nude modeling. They weren’t disappointed! From nude modeling I found inspiration to join those art classes and draw, and I now have my own keepsake drawings 🙂 .

Therein lies what I love to smile about: the unpredictable moments, the uncommon events.  What opinions or doubts I experienced during my time at Columbia only strengthened my resolve for future choices. You see, during my time in the land of Mexican Chocolate ;), I’ve had time to reflect on quite a bit of things concerning life choices. The 3,300 mile 7 week bike adventure is as far away from finding that steady job with benefits idea that many stressed I get right away. I could be back in NY most likely having the time of my life and saving money for higher education, but that wasn’t enough for me at the moment. I will be back in NYC with a steady job and benefits only after I learn how to jump 5 sets of stairs on a mountain bike, camp outside almost every night for 7 weeks, and after I ride another donkey. And once back in NYC, I will continue looking for ways to shock the systems limits.

Once in awhile, we experience seeing an image of ourselves that we swore we would never be. Sometimes we become that image. Some may have misgivings. Others may find it was the best damn thing to happen to them. For those that have misgivings, I feel they go through the Fight Club buildup, the repeated phrases of “Supposed Too” “Should have” and “Must Be” shared over and over in their everyday relationships with people. For those that consider the circumstances surrounding that unexpected and uninvited image as the best thing to happen to them, their outlook is expansive, their shortcomings insignificant. There’s a passion, there’s a drive. It doesn’t matter how you got there, just matters what you’re doing with it all.

Here’s a side note that I wanted to add in before I close off this blog post:

Where is the path of least resistance? Tell me so I can avoid it. What is the cure for passing biased and undeserved judgment on others? My cure is running or biking until the mind and body goes numb, until I’m completely broken in spirit, deprived, weak and vulnerable. And then, upon recovering, I realize the very thing that has broken me nurtures me. It gives me reason, inspiration and a well fit body 😉 .  Because of this, I am humbled. I recognize I limit myself by looking at others and passing judgment of who they are and what they do. Why be stuck with a judgment that could bring negative and unnecessary gossip to the table? Why not just let it go and focus on how you can nurture yourself and others? Tolerance, patience and humility are the best nutrients I could ever ask for while training for this bike ride. Cliché but true, it’s also training for life.

Juanita says:

You are an inspiration, Isang. I’m so glad you’re here, making your mark, and planting seeds of confidence in the people you cross paths with while you’re in Guanajuato.

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