LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

Where Was I in 2013?

Credit: Leona Lee

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

To think back and realize that ten years ago was the year 2013 makes me feel more of my age as the days and years pass. 2013 doesn’t feel like it was a decade ago, but here we are in 2023, and, well, 2013 was truly 10 years ago! Like every beginning of a new year, we start it off reflecting on where I was 10 years prior, and we just so happen to be entering 2013 territory! Like 2012, 2013 was a tough year for me; but, it was the year that I finally learned to let go of the bad things in my life and adapt to new things that I was interested in and good for me and my mental health.

But first, let’s take it all the way back to the year 2013!

At the beginning of 2013, I had just turned 19 years old and was about to start my second semester as a college freshman. The first semester was a horrible one; it was hard to pass my classes and was on the verge of failing almost all of them. I knew for my second semester, I had to get my grades up, or else the college would put me on academic probation. I was still struggling a lot mentally at the beginning of 2013 year. I still was very much caught up in the high-school drama since it followed me even after graduation. Even though the person that I was still very much into was hours away at a different college, I had made it my mission to always see them whenever they could come back to the city. Thinking about it now, it was really stupid of me; like, here I was friendless and barely passing my classes, yet my mind and energy were hyperfocused on this one person who went to the same college as their partner, and, didn’t even bat an eyelash to actually think about me. But then again, I was 19 and still fresh out of high school, so my high-school mentality still influenced a lot of my thought process and decision-making.

Fashion for 2013 Liz was bringing much of what “Tumblr fashion” was, which is crazy to think that Tumblr used to be the biggest social platform for those in my age range at the time. It was dip-dyed/ombre hair color, “summer scarves” that yes, I used to wear all year round, including hot summer days, and Toms/Keds/Bootleg Toms named Bobs. Needless to say, 2013 fashion was weird and random fashion. Like, even the music was weird! I can’t explain how music was a decade ago; it was just a lot of dance music that we all use to fuck with heavy with a mix of like… swing 1950-esque beats? Also, it was still truly the “British Invasion” era of music which I think also became more of an identity crisis for some of us.

I remember 2013 being the year that I tried out dieting because I noticed that I was gaining that “freshman 15” everyone used to talk about. I lived at home and commuted to my college, but I think that as I got older and continued to grow, my weight started to go up as well. I remember my toxic diet culture mind tracking how many points I had for the day and how many additional ones I was allowed to have and when I even began to see some slight changes, I would then stop the hard work and celebrate that little weight loss with something that I shouldn’t have.

At the time, I didn’t realize that the rapid weight gain was due to the fact that by August 2013, I would spend most of my summer nights sitting up in a butterfly chair trying to sleep since the pain was unbearable. I still remember having to wake my mom up at 6:30 in the morning to take me to the Emergency room because the pain got to a point where I was losing hours of sleep and I was barely functional because of it. After going to the ER, I was told that I had gallstones, which also meant that I needed to get surgery to remove them and my gallbladder altogether. It would be my first ever surgery, and I remember crying the night before because I was so scared. I had the surgery about a month later, and it took me about a week to fully recover and go back to school.

Because I did not properly handle my mental health, a lot of my issues carried over into 2013. It was a very weird summer; the person I still had feelings for came back from college and every time they did, those around me would see my personality change. In a way, I was always trying to be something I wasn’t; I constantly tried to show off my ability to “be strong” and tough, yet we all knew it was a facade. I still remember seeing my best friend before going out to an underground show in the city and having a huge argument about putting people on pedestals and who deserves to be on them and such. Again, this was an energy I usually didn’t have whenever I was here on my own just living my day-to-day life. It wasn’t until I was told by my best friend that I switch up whenever this other person comes back into my life. Of course, I denied it, and it wasn’t really until later on in the summer that I realized just how toxic this person was to me, and that it was about time I let them go and out of my life.

I spent one last time with them in my neighborhood that summer. Prior to this last meeting, I had gone through something extremely triggering with them, and instead of feeling appreciative about my actions, I felt like absolute shit getting yelled at over the phone and constantly being called a stupid bitch. I sat on my bathroom floor and constantly asked myself if maybe I was the problem. Was there something wrong with me? Was it some undiagnosed mental illness that made me behave the way I did? In the long run and nearly a decade later, I realized that while yeah, this experience has been the deep rooted cause of my mental health issues in the years to come, I was in a situation where it was nothing good coming out of it, and quite frankly was verbally, emotionally, and psychologically abused for about 2 years by this point. It was scary to go from thinking you have a person in your life who understood you to having literally no one besides the friends that drifted away because of this one person. But, when one door closes, another one opens.

During the summer of 2013, my mom was heavily involved in this TV show that she watched since 2011. Every Sunday night, her and my father would sit in the living room and watch this show and my mother would then go online to the forums to discuss who could have possibly be the perpetrator of these season-long crime cases. I vaguely remember my mother telling me that the first 2 seasons had a major twist at the end, and that the acting of the parents and supporting characters were some of the most raw and realistic acting she has ever seen in television. This particular summer, they were airing season 3 and I just so happened to be in the kitchen while she was watching the third episode of the third season. After that, the rest is truly history.

I was in love with this show, and I swear I probably rewatched the entire series more times than I can fully remember. Although, I did restart the series over the summer and stopped midway into season 3, so perhaps it’s about time I picked it back up and finished the series. AT the time, I was really involved in my Twitter account, and while interacting with the stars of that season and other people in the hashtags, I became a part of the community that we dubbed as “The Killing Fam”. When the show wasn’t renewed for a fourth season yet left us on a major cliffhanger, the community fought to have Netflix or another streaming service platform pick up the season for a fourth season. In November 2013, we were granted that fourth and final season.

This might sound so dramatic and cheesy, but this show and the community saved my life. It felt good to go into a community and feel connected to other people to talk about something that we all enjoy or are passionate about. This show also gave me some true inspiration to start writing my own stories down and honestly, Sarah Linden as a character has inspired so many of my own OCs, it’s kind of insane.

By the end of 2013, I felt like I was becoming the person I wanted to be at the time and for the first time in a long time, I genuinely was happy. It made the transition of going into 2014 a smooth one. I ended the year thankful that despite being in a really shitty situation and thinking I couldn’t come out of it, I found a part of my identity through a community that to this day will thank for literally saving my life. I think that’s why in 2020, transitioning into the K-pop community and finding my identity as a 26 year old was so important and crucial o my healing. Also, I realized that situations like the one I was in will always come up and disguise itself as being something different or new and honestly, I think I was just so traumatized by that toxic situation that I just know when and if something around me is going to turn for the worse. Reflecting back on this time of my life really makes me realize that a lot of this past Liz lived so that the Liz I am today can succeed.

But yeah, here’s to 2023! See you guys for 2024 where, that’s going to be a fun year to reflect back on. See you in the next one!

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