Crossing Point – Which way?

“WHICH WAY DOES IT GO?!” “No! Not a cliffhanger!!” “Phil! How dare you not tell us which way his line goes!!”

Our newest short film “Crossing Point” has been out for a couple weeks now and it’s quite clear that a lot of people are caught up on the ending. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a watch up there before reading more. This definitely isn’t the first time that we’ve left and ending open. I feel like generally we like to do this because we want to encourage our viewers to think for themselves and interpret the story from their perspective because that ultimately makes the short more personal. “Crossing Point” is no different.

The story between Janice and Sean is pretty universal and I believe that people watching brought in their own experiences to the story. And while not everyone drew a graph with their partner plotting their emotional investment, I’m sure every couple had a different ending based on different situations. I didn’t feel like telling the viewer one way or the other.

For me, the most important and meaningful part of this short was not how it ended up, but simply to show that this happens, and perhaps if it can be identified in such a tangible/quantifiable way (what’s more quantifiable than math?) then couples out there would be able to see it in their own relationships and possibly avoid the “crossing point”, or at least talk about it openly.

Usually when I approach a new idea or script, there’s one particular element that keeps me motivated to push through writer’s block or obstacles. It could be a character that I see so clearly and want to bring to life, a story that I feel must be heard, or a shot that that I just really want to create/see to fruition. Most often it’s an overall message I want to convey and end on that keeps me going. But since this short didn’t really have a conclusive moment, the thing I held onto was actually one particular line. This line was essentially my motivation to make the entire short. I really just wanted to create that scene/moment for this line to exist because I liked it so much. This line happens at 5:42.

“And one day, you made me believe too.”

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As I struggled through the script, as I doubted if this was a good idea or not, I kept focused on this line, keeping it at the center and building around it. I used it as a foundation because I saw/heard that moment so clearly, when they kissed, cutting straight to her line turning upward. That feeling of being so cautious about giving your heart away, being so guarded, and having that weight suddenly lifted because he/she made you believe that this time would be different, this time they’d be different. Giving away your trust, or gaining someone else’s, is so simple yet incredibly monumental if you think about it, especially if they’ve been hurt before. That feeling, that moment, those words… that’s really all I wanted to shoot. I just had to create a story around it to give it actual meaning.

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So if you’re asking me which way he drew the line at the end… honestly, I don’t even know, and I don’t think it matters. The point of the short was to propose a situation and a question for couples to ask themselves. Giving an ending only gives a temporary satisfaction anyway. If it goes down, then you can be happy Janice spoke out and ended a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere. If it goes up, then you can be happy he’s going to make a change. If it goes down, perhaps this is just one period of a longer curve we can’t fully see and they actually return to each other. If it goes up, perhaps it’s just a half-assed fix to a problem they can’t solve. You see? There are an infinite number of points and curves on this graph of their life which we will never know, only they will, and I’m ok not knowing… because that’s life right? And we can’t do a damn thing about it. We can only hope for the best, no matter which way it went at that moment.

Watch the “Behind the Scenes” to see that Dia and Travis at least end up happy as real people! haha

 

Instead of resolutions.. How about New Year’s Fears?

I know we’re well into 2017 and most “new years resolution” talk is far behind us, but I figure that this is also about the time that many people are rethinking their resolutions (read: not doing them haha). That’s not a knock on anyone, that’s just reality (although props to those who are on top of thangs).

So while many of us are feeling crappy about already “failing” in their resolutions, I wanted to share this idea I had…

Watch my vlog below explaining that A) resolutions should be year round, so forget this “new years” nonsense! and B) Try making a list of your “New Years Fears” instead!

What are New Years Fears? Well, as 2016 came to an end, I realized that a lot of things I was so worried about at the top of the year ended up working themselves out. Some things weren’t as bad as I feared, and the things that were, I still persevered through them. Realizing this gave me a sense of freedom, a slight liberation in my day to day life. Like, no matter how stressed out or worried about something I am, it’ll all turn out OK in the end.

NOT SAYING don’t work hard and don’t make plans and goals. SAYING roll with the punches and stay positive and you’ll be surprised that life has a way to.. go on.

So write down all the things you’re afraid of in 2017. Work, school, relationships, family, money? And to prove this point, revisit the list at the end of the year to see how each issue resolved itself. Maybe it’ll take longer than a year, but I’m fairly certain that most things keeping us up at night won’t be that bad.

…and if it is, it’ll be fine at the end of the decade… so standby for my “Decade’s Fears”.

Hope 2017 is going well for you!

 

Lots of Love to make “Love Lock”

Our newest short film “Love Lock” embodies so many aspects of what makes Wong Fu Productions so special to me after all these years. It’s the type of project that could only happen because of the uniqueness of the company we are, the friendships we have, and the fans we’ve been blessed with.

The Attitude
First, “The One Days”. In 2007, the infant years of Wong Fu Productions, Wes went to Hong Kong for a family trip and came back with 3 short films. All shot on his own with the help of a few friends, and each in just one day. This was the spirit of Wong Fu from the beginning: being inspired by our world and creating a story by any means possible. From then, every time we traveled to another country we would try to do a “One Days” almost as a challenge to ourselves. Could we think of an idea, find actors, and shoot in one day, all in the time span of our trip?  Sometimes we were successful, sometimes we weren’t (sometimes we went into a 2nd half day heh), but it was always a good reminder to myself that you don’t need much to tell a good story. There are now 11 shorts in this series and I’m sure that no matter how big our company grows to, we’ll always want to attempt a “One Days” wherever we go!

milvio2The Fans!
But we can’t do it alone. This is Portia. She’s an American med student currently living/studying in Rome. 2 weeks before we left for Italy I reached out on Wong Fu’s Facebook page to see if there was anyone in Rome that could help us with this project. Because we knew no one there, reaching out to our fans around the world was my only option. Thankfully Portia responded and was so incredibly sweet and hospitable. She helped us find actors and get around the city (it was my first time there), she even met us at the train station to make sure we got to our hotel. Her kindness was just unbelievable, and to think that just 2 weeks prior she was someone we had never met, yet she knew our videos. This connection really inspired me and made me feel so fortunate that WF has allowed us to have this amazing fanbase of extremely good people around the world who believe in us so much that they’d help at a moments notice. It’s really humbling. This picture really could’ve been with anyone of you!

Trusting Timing
Our trip to Italy was extremely last minute. We knew we were going to Florence (ya kno, that whole Tom Hanks thang? haha). But I saw an amazing opportunity to finish a short film idea I had been sitting on since 2014 when we went to Tokyo. Back then I had so desperately wanted to do a “one days” during that trip. It was there that the idea of this short first came to me, so I looked to see if there were love lock locations in Tokyo. There just to happened to be one, but it was a 2 hour train ride away in a small town on Enoshima Island. I knew I had to scope it out first so one morning I went out on my own to check it out. It was a quaint ocean town and I took some b-roll just in case. As the trip wound down I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make this short and I was really disappointed in myself. Over the next two years, every time I traveled to a new city for work, I would research to see if that city had a love lock location for me to adjust my story for. Singapore, Taiwan, Montreal, Toronto, San Diego, New York City. Nothing was working out (although I got pretty close in NYC). I began to feel like this short was never going to get made.

Fast forward to Sept of this year and finding out we were going to Italy. I did the same search and found that the actual origin of the entire concept of Love Locks was started in Rome! Just a 1.5 hr train ride away from Florence where we would be. I told Wes that this was meant to be. We had to add extra days, take the trip down, and finally make this happen.

It’s crazy, almost exactly 2 years since I returned from Tokyo empty handed, I’ve finished the short and in probably better circumstances than had it been in any other city. Wong Fu has always worked in strange ways. Never according to plan, but never lost. Trusting life, waiting for the right timing for a good story, and making the most of every opportunity.

The Process
It’s one thing to have the idea, the attitude, the help, and the timing all come together. But that’s when the real work begins. That’s when it’s time to show up. We got to Italy and it was time to make it happen!

img_9781Taking the train from Florence to Rome. I literally bought the tickets 5 days prior. Had to google how to get from city to city. Thanks tripadvisor and google!

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As soon as we arrived in Rome we went straight to the bridge to scout it out. A lot of serendipitous things about this location. First, the locks have been banned, so that meant there were far less tourists around, meaning it’d be easier for us to shoot. The bridge is also in an area of Rome that’s pretty far from the main tourist attractions so it was just a much more quiet and local feeling, giving us less stress. It was literally just Wes and myself shooting, so any external factors to make things easier was welcome.

milvio3We went straight from scouting to meet our actors for the first time. Portia helped us find Bea through friends of friends, and Bea found Lorenzo. They’re both students but also act for fun in a theater group. All this literally happened a week prior to shooting. I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to find actors, but thankfully we were blessed to have met these two. They were SO enthusiastic and kind, and their English was really good so it made rehearsing and directing much easier. They even translated the script for me!

milvio4First time ever reading the script with the actors just a day before shooting. We met at a random park and practiced until the sun went down and the park closed. Nothing glamorous about it, whatever it took and Bea and Lorenzo were totally down!

But not everything went according to plan. Weather was supposed to be perfect, but one completely random day of rain messed up our schedule. Thankfully everyone moved their schedules around and on a bright sunny morning we started shooting on the bridge, Ponte Milvio!

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Helping Wes tie his shoe ;P. jk, Early morning, very few people on the bridge. Bystanders must’ve been so confused (like this guy on the left). “What are these 2 Asian guys with a camera and 2 local Italians doing here?” (Notice our bags on the side. We literally went to the bridge, dropped our stuff, and started shooting!)

img_9895bNothing fancy about it. Just us, and a camera. That’s all you need. For real. Oh and mics, in this case hidden under their clothes, and me recording/monitoring with equipment around my neck…screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-5-08-58-pm-copy
Slow clap for…

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Our leads! That’s a wrap! With the sun setting behind us, a fun full day is also behind us. So relieved when we finished, I couldn’t believe we pulled this off.

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We packed our bags with equipment, arrived, unloaded, said a few words, pushed a few buttons, packed everything up, and left. Some people like buying souvenirs, but really, nothing beats the feeling of returning home from a foreign city with a short film, unique to that trip and that time. Proud to have shared that feeling with Wes around the world.

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And gratitude doesn’t go to just him, but to the team back at home as well, which allowed me to be there in the first place. The day before we started shooting, I was sitting on the rooftop terrace of the little hotel we were staying at and I had a perplexing moment. How was I here, around the world, getting to make an idea in my head, for no real reason except, “just cause.” How does that happen?? I felt so lucky. The company being supported by Taylor, Ashley, Chris, Benson, & Jen.. allowing Wes and myself to create freely, while also knowing we have an audience ready and excited to watch what we produce. It truly is a blessing in so many ways and I never take it for granted. You guys allow us to have these experiences, and in return, I hope we can continue to make content that brings you joy.

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Y’all are #1.

Writer needed. Sadness required.

4 months ago we released a short film called “Untouchable”. I was extremely nervous about sharing it for a few reasons. It was our first romantic drama in over a year (it’s funny that romantic stories are such a huge part of WF’s identity, but we actually don’t make that many). I was worried that after so long the fans would be expecting either some grand, epically sad short or a super poignant and meaningful, sweet message.

But I knew it was neither. It was just a simple conversation on the porch. That’s why when the comments started coming in and the response was overwhelmingly positive I was quite surprised. To me there was nothing that special about it, but there were so many people saying it was exactly what they needed to hear, that it was very relatable and helped them.

Typically hearing words like this would be very encouraging (and it was! I’m glad something as plain as a conversation could still be accepted by the fans), but unfortunately, I small feeling of disappointment started creeping in. The reason is because, this was not a short I wanted to make. This was not a script that I had ever hoped I would have the reason to write. I don’t like to have sad thoughts and bittersweet emotions that require such an outlet. But life happens and I had to get these words and analogies (yes, a lot of analogies) off my chest. And here I discover that thousands of thousands of people were glad I made it, glad I shared it, glad… I was sad.

Now, I know that’s being a little melodramatic (surprise surprise), and it’s not like everyone who enjoyed the short was directly telling me, YES Phil, keep being sad so you can keep making these pieces for us! But there’s a reasonable part of me that translates things this way. That sees a positive response as our audience wanting me to keep this part of my brain/heart open to every so often give them a little story of guidance and hope.

And this relates to another challenge I’ve been facing in my brain for years now. The concept of the “pursuit of happiness”. It’s been engrained in me, since I was a child, that searching for happiness is better than actually achieving it. Because once you get there, where else do you go? You risk losing it. Is it better to constantly be on the pursuit? Constantly be unsatisfied and unhappy? At least then you always have a destination.

I know this is wrong and no way to live, but I’ve no clear path of how to escape it yet. And encouragement from fans to keep telling sad stories because it helps them only enables this mopey/stupid side of me. “I need to be sad for the stories! For themmm!” Ridiculous I know, and please don’t start leaving mean comments on my sad videos from now on, haha.

I’ll figure it out, I think. How to partition the sad thoughts from the happy so I can access it as necessary without having to actually live it. Funny thing is, I’m actually not that creative. I feel like truly creative writers can just imagine characters/stories/feelings and translate them onto paper. I’m still an amateur who needs to actually experience things before I can write them honestly. But this is a dangerous way to live, and write.

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There’s a completely different post regarding this short that’s more about the actual content, about the conversation actually being all in my head, about the analogies.. but I’ll save that for another time.

From there to “… Here On Out”

From there to “… Here On Out”

November 2014, I was in Tokyo with Wong Fu Productions for a special YouTube Space event. As we often do during our group trips we try to use our free time to be inspired and create. See and feel the energy of the city, write a quick script, gather a small crew of friends, and shoot a short. Returning home with a film is one of the most satisfying feelings and we’ve done it many times.

This particular trip I really, really, wanted to make something. I had some rough ideas, one being about a delivery boy who was able to know his “regulars” based on his different deliveries. But due to time, and lack of focus on one idea, and also being unsure of the message I was trying to convey, I was unable to make anything. Meanwhile Wes had made an incredibly beautiful film “Komorebi” and I felt like I failed, creatively frustrated.

Over the last couple years I’ve held onto this idea of a delivery boy who knew his city. I tried to adjust it for different cities and other trips. But instead the idea just became more and more blurry. I never even put a word down for a script.

Senior year 2002, my last year of high school I got a job at Target. It was my first real job ever and I was so excited to be working and getting a pay check. I’ve shared this story a lot, but in case you don’t know, I was a “Cart Attendant”, which is just a fancy way of saying, “the guys who collect carts”. But we also often got assigned to cashier during busy hours, and I would often have to help people to their cars if they had particularly large items.

I worked there for 11 months, getting drenched in rainstorms, seeing the terror of the holiday season, moving bbqs, TVs, Christmas trees, and racing back to the AC of the store after pushing 100s of carts in 100 degree weather. I look back rather fondly on that first job, partially because of those crazy stories, but also because of the quiet ones. See, the best part of the job was when my girlfriend at the time would come visit me here and there. We’d go to a secluded corner of the lot where I’d push my “15” to the limit, or she’d come toward the end of my shift, as I was closing for the night, and it’d just be us in the empty parking lot lit by the street lamps, hanging out before I had to go home.

May 2016, the year is almost half over?! So much had happened in these first 5 months. Personally and professionally drained, a feeling of wanting to start over began to grow. I felt like hiding, running, somewhere, anywhere. But I quickly realized it didn’t matter where I go. A new environment doesn’t change my history.. and accepting this was both liberating and disheartening.
I shared this feeling on IG (my emo-outlet when I’m too lazy to write a full blogpost).

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Last month, in the earliest stage of developing an idea to present to Vitasoy, Wes wrote a logline about a cashier who falls for a customer. This instantly made me think about the idea I failed to complete in Tokyo 2 yrs ago. Put into a new context, I brought in the imagery from my job as a cart pusher. As I began to write I integrated a conflict and message for Lynn (from that silly little IG post) which I had been unable to pinpoint before. It all clicked.

Last week we released a new short film called “From Here on Out”. People often ask us where we get our ideas and inspiration. The answer is always the same for me, “daily life”. If you choose to look around with a different lens, you’ll see stories everywhere. We collect thoughts and feelings from our lives, not necessarily knowing when they’ll be used, if ever. FHOO is a perfect example of how different ideas in life can connect unexpectedly for a project I didn’t even know we were gonna make. Seeing things work out like this have taught me not to force ideas and that just like in real life, every story has its own timing.

The 2 things that matter most to people in their 20s

This was my speech to the graduating class of 2016 at the University of California, San Diego, Revelle College. I just wanted to be real with them, and thought a lot about what I would’ve wanted to hear 10 years prior when I was sitting in their position. I’m so grateful for the honor and the opportunity to speak on this special occasion.

Hi. I’m gonna start off by saying, I’m really nervous. So if this goes terribly, yeah, that’s why. Cool.

So first I’d like to say, this is probably the biggest honor of my life thus far, and I met President Obama in 2011, though he didn’t know who I was. So thank you UC San Diego Revelle College for inviting me to speak, and believing I’m qualified to share my thoughts with the fragile minds of early 20 year olds.

I was a VisArts major at Revelle. Lemme repeat that. An Art major, in Revelle. I’m not throwing shade at UCSD or Revelle. In fact, I owe a lot to them. When I applied, Revelle was my 4th choice. AGAIN, that’s not a knock on them. That’s me saying THANK YOU. The 3 other college passed on me, but Revelle took me in with open arms. And exactly 10 yrs ago I sat where you are.

CONGRATS to you guys. You made it through Revelle’s GE’s! Well, maybe you did, you could just be walking. That’s technically what I did. I still had one Social Science course left which I took care of in the summer. Mom and dad weren’t thrilled about that.

Either way, you’re sitting here… and for some reason I’m standing up here. Honestly, if you’re confused who I am, and why I’m giving this speech, I’m with you. Commencement speakers are usually super successful celebrities or people who changed the world, or at least have the life experience of 40/50 some years to share. But I’m not Steve Jobs, or Oprah, or Conan and I’m barely 10 years older. So I’m not even gonna try to pretend like I’m some super wise, successful dude about to drop an awesome quote bomb on you. Some of you might know me as 1/3 of Wong Fu Productions, others might just be like.. “oh, that one Asian guy from YouTube”. And the rest of you, I’m just some guy. But honestly, that’s how I want to talk to you today. As just some guy, who has completed his 20s, and can let you guys know what to expect in these next 10 yrs. The REAL stuff.

I thought a lot about what I could say to inspire you guys, because honestly, you’re gonna be floating around for awhile.. and while all that lofty “grab life by the reins” advice is motivating, you needa know about what’s directly ahead. So I really just wanna talk about 2 things. You see, of all the obstacles and worries ahead in post-grad life, there are 2 subjects that everyone talks about the most through their twenties, and definitely by the time you hit 30, and lets face it, 30 in your guys’ eyes is like “so old”. Perhaps if you know now what will be most important to you in “the end”, it’ll help you along the way, and positively affect the years after (yes there are years after 30)

The first thing that everyone talks about is their job. I think a lot of students think they graduate and must find this one singular job or track that you will love and stay with forever. Truth is, you’re going to have multiple jobs. You’re going to try something for a few years and possibly hate it, and then adjust. You will be constantly questioning, shifting, and building your career.

Now this is where most speeches would go down the route of telling you all to go after your dreams! Pursue your passion! YOU might be the next Steve Jobs! But let me be real with you… while I don’t disagree with these inspirational messages, I also know that there are A LOT of people who go through life and just don’t know what their true passion is. For some it’s still too early. Some were never encouraged to think that way. So I don’t wanna stand up here and make people feel bad or scared like.. HOLY CRAP I’m not actually that passionate about electrical engineering or sociology. What am I going to do with this degree and life?!?

Look, if you already know your passion, then absolutely go for it, don’t be afraid of failure, nothing goes according to plan, persevere, etc etc… you guys live online, you’ve probably seen that Buzzfeed video compilation of famous grad speeches… and it’s 100% true, I know from experience. Listen to those guys because they’re far more experienced and accomplished than me.
But for those who draw a blank or a shrug when someone says “chase your dreams”, it’s ok. It’s ok to not be sure yet. Honestly, I didn’t know my passion was storytelling and directing even when I was sitting where you were. I knew I enjoyed it, I knew I was somewhat good at it. But passion is such a heavy word. And as a 21 year old, how could I really be sure?

But here’s the thing… I didn’t chase my passion, but I became passionate about what I chased. And you should do the same whether it’s your job or a hobby. Because what’s more important than just having a dream, is having the ambition to reach them. Be ambitious and enthusiastic in whatever you do. Always strive for more in and outside of your career. You’ll be surprised at where that might lead you. Even strong enthusiasm toward something is a challenge for some, but can transform you life. It did mine, and brought me here.

Whether it be real estate, or comics, dentistry, or fitness.. explore with vigor, and zeal, and I assure you that when you reach the end of your 20s your life will be better because you did so. Don’t be too afraid, or in many cases, too cool to “try”. The worst thing you could do is live these next few years passively. So if you already know what your purpose is and what you love, understand that knowing is a gift! Don’t waste anytime being timid, and get to work towards it. And if you don’t know yet, consider it your duty, a high priority, to actively figure out what it is at some point in the years ahead.

So that is the FIRST thing everyone talks about at the end of their 20s. The SECOND thing? The 2nd thing is love and relationships.

Now, I know this is very unconventional to talk about in a commencement speech, but honestly, I think people are actually more concerned with finding love than “chasing dreams”, kinda funny huh? How much love dictates our lives. Look, it’s uncomfortable, it’s cheesy, but seriously, no matter how accomplished you become, or how many friends envy your life, if you aren’t happy in your heart, nothing else matters. So bear with me, I just wanna share 3 quick thoughts about love. It’s gonna get awkward for a sec.

First, Love Yourself.

Your journey to find love is going to be challenging. And many of you will experience extreme pain when a relationship is taken away, or when you regret a massive mistake, or when you’re just really really lonely. It’s gonna suck, but please, never ever feel like it’s the end of the world. Never ever feel like another person was what defined you or made you whole. YOU need to make sure you love yourself. Work on yourself, believe in yourself, and yes, treat yourself. Discover your own worth and make sure the person you’re with will push you and challenge you to be even greater.

Next, Love honestly.

I think we grow up thinking “love” is something that happens to us, like magic. But it’s not. Attraction is, but making a relationship work takes choice. Constant choice. And you must be honest with yourself when it comes to the person you choose to be in a relationship with. This means understanding your emotions. Feelings are what give our lives texture, even sad feelings, so embrace the entire spectrum of emotions and learn from each experience. Learn what you qualities are important to you, and what angers you, and how to communicate better. Learn the difference between a relationship needing work and a relationship that won’t work. And most importantly, learn to forgive… others and yourself. This will be the most challenging lesson, but the one you might need the most. Hurting people and getting hurt is part of the journey, so be thankful for those who don’t harbor grudges or guilt, I definitely am.

Finally, Love your family.

The 20s is when you will begin to really humanize your parents. It’s in this time that many of them met, or even had you (there’s a fun image for graduation). You’re gonna reach that same age and finally realize what your parents have gone through. They weren’t always just “Grown up”. They were young, lost, and scared just like you, they were human! and you can start to empathize with them, because being human also means they won’t always be around. So spend time with them, try not to be annoyed, tell them thank you, I love you, ask them questions about their lives past and present. They have so much to share.

I hope this brought your idea of the next few years into a better perspective. It’ll be natural to feel self conscious for awhile. Worried if you made the right choices in your major, job, life. Embarrassed that compared to your friends you don’t seem as successful or know what you’re doing. But guess what? No one here really knows what they’re doing. I promise you. Even those who have a sweet internship or grad school lined up. Even I don’t!! When I graduated, I would often doubt myself for pursuing something as “silly” and unstable as the arts. I thought all my friends were doing the right thing in their lives and jobs.  But what kept me going, was good friends. Luckily I got to live this sensitive period of my life with Wes and Ted who co-founded WFP with me. We were lost, but at least we were lost together. So surround yourself with positive people. People that will push and support you as you discover your sense of passion, and people that will be there for you when your love life sucks.

Take your time, but don’t waste your time. There’s a difference. And finding that balance will make your experience these next 10 years really awesome.

Thank you!

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Don’t wait to be great

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Why do so many people put in the effort to improve on themselves only after a breakup? Perhaps if they tried while in the relationship, they’d still be together…

Alright, that statement is very broad is could be taken as extremely insensitive, but hear me out. Of course I understand that a traumatic event will always result in new perspectives and self-reflection. So I’m not literally asking why do people try new things after a tough separation. I’m also not at all saying everyone who’s been heartbroken only has themselves to blame. My statement is specifically directed at the concept of “comfortable”. Being comfortable with oneself and one’s expectations.*

After a break up, how many of us have said something like, I’m gonna get out there and be a new me! Gonna read more! Gonna try that painting class! Gonna start cooking! Gonna volunteer! Gonna do all these awesome things that I never bothered or pushed myself to explore while I was in the relationship. All these things that I obviously thought of, but didn’t act on. And why not? Because we were comfortable. We thought, Oh there’s no time, maybe next weekend. Oh it’s too expensive. Oh it’s too much trouble. And it’s not just activities, but we do the same with our behavior. “I’m gonna be more patient. I’m gonna take more initiative. I’m gonna open up more!” We often change our appearance too. People lose a bf/gf and they go cut their hair, start exercising, try dressing differently, or try to make new friends. We put ourselves in all these different situations and challenge our norm, and it always leads to something good. Enlightenment, meeting new people, new perspectives. So the question must be asked… If all these challenges- that push us, that are uncomfortable, that are strange- are ultimately beneficial and positive… what were you waiting for?

There are so many different reasons that relationships fail. So many catalysts and so many downfalls. But I believe that a lot of it stems from one or both parties reaching some level of comfort and that comfort can have 2 results.

Either 1) your partner doesn’t tell you they want something new/different and you are left in the dark and they develop these desires on their own without giving you a proper chance to respond and they decide for themselves that you two aren’t growing together. Or 2) your partner does tell you and you are shocked/surprised and don’t want to change and wonder why the other person has, and so you resist and get upset or sad. In both cases communication is key, but the willingness to explore new territories together is how to keep the relationship going.

I’m not saying this is the hidden secret potion to saving a relationship, but I think it’s something to consider if you are in one. Even if things are totally fine. Always, always, reflect on yourselves and ask, Am I being the best version of me for me and my partner? Am I challenging them and is he/she challenging me? If the answer is “no” to either of them, it’s time to talk and work it out. Don’t get comfortable; be open-minded to each other. Otherwise you might find yourself taking the salsa classes she always had brought up but you were too stubborn to take, or you’ll be trying a new hair style that might’ve been a fresh change for him. But it’ll be too late.

I acknowledge even as I write this that I’m oversimplifying. We often need to learn these lessons alone and not FOR someone. I get it. And sometimes the things we do/explore in the wake of a relationship is what leads us to the next, better one. And I’m of course not implying that people should change who they are completely, physically or behaviorally, just to make their partner happy. I’m just saying… don’t wait to be single and use bitterness/disappointment as your motivation to become a better person. You might be surprised how your relationship will be affected if you do these things while you still have them. That’s all. But what do I know? I just dyed my hair for the first time. “IT’S A NEW ME!!!”

*There is a difference between comfortable and confidence when it comes to relationships. I’m not saying two people can’t reach a point of being totally themselves, walls down with each other. The ‘comfortable’ I’m referring to is when you don’t take advantage of each day with one another, instead taking for granted that you have someone and can develop and do amazing things together!