September 1, 2015

When They Don't Love You Back

Good morning! Hope all is well. My life has been a little on the crazy side, so it has been a little while--but we finally get to have this heart-to-heart and share our thoughts on a harder topic when it comes to romantic relationships. Today's post is a continuation of my previous post, so please go check that out if you haven't seen it already! Before Saee's guest post on the Misconceptions of Love, we talked about the simplest way to decide whether or not we love somebody. But as you guys must have realized, things aren't really that simple. And this is because, while love is an action, it is also a relationship. So although love is undoubtedly there, it will look different for everybody. Our actions must therefore be different depending on the context and the people involved.

Have you ever been "friendzoned"? In love with somebody when you know they do not love you back? I've been in this situation (on both sides!) before, and it is not easy. If it seems like nothing will happen, what do you do? While I do not have the solution since every situation is different, here are 5 important things to keep in mind:

  1. Be fair to yourself. Yes, love is an open door, and yes, love is putting them before yourself. But you know what? You need to love yourself too! If you feel like you cannot live without this person--there is something wrong with that picture. Even if they love you back and you are in a relationship with somebody, maintaining that sense of self-efficacy and knowledge of what you stand for means so much for your overall happiness. Do not let anybody get in the way of everything you're about. 
  2. Ask advice from your mentor. During a hard time, my coaches said, "We are not your peers... We have been through a lot more than you have, have a lot more experiences. What we will tell you is different from what your friends will." And this is true. Talk to somebody older than you who has more experience. If you're a freshman in high school, talk to a senior or college student. Or you could talk to a teacher that you're close to. Your parents. Somebody with more experience than you that you trust. Listen to what they say, and take it into consideration.
  3. Communicate with the other person. Yes, I know--it's terrifying being that vulnerable! If you can't say exactly how you feel, let them know that you're working through something. Be as honest as you can so that there won't be any additional strain on your current friendship with that person.
  4. Respect the other person's feelings. The "friendzone" has gotten such a bad connotation these days, but you know what? If you love that person, being his/her friend is a privilege! And the honest truth is that liking someone doesn't mean that they have an obligation to like you back. One of the most hurtful things that one of my guy friends said when I told him that I wanted to be friends after he asked me out was, "Oh, so I guess I'm not as good as your ex boyfriend." (Keep in mind that I had just gone through that breakup a week ago.) Show the other person that you are mature, respectful, and kind--that you value them. If you show that you care about your friendship, it will make a difference in his/her life and yours too.
  5. Be conscientious of your actions. Continue being yourself, but remember to be kind and gentle. Be aware that your actions will impact more people than just you as you try to decide whether to love them from afar, to try to pursue them, or to try to get over the romantic feelings for them. 
And there we have it! Five simple tips to keep in mind when they don't love you back. It was quite sobering to write about love that's missing something... The next post will be the last one in the romantic love series (unless if you would like to write a guest post!), so please stay tuned for it by following my tan social media links on the left sidebar!

Smile on,

August 4, 2015

Misconceptions About Love

Hello, Saee here! Before I say anything else, let me just say a huge THANK YOU to smilesifyXO for allowing me to guest post on her blog today. I’ve been stalking her blog for a while now and it felt so, so great to write this post. It was a huge deal for me and I learned a lot from her. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. Hugs and kisses!

Whether you’ve been in love before or are in love right now or even want to fall in love in the future, you know what love feels like. You are familiar with that nice fuzzy feeling in your heart, warming you up from the inside.

However you are also familiar with a list of things that are supposed to happen whenever you experience this powerful and beautiful emotion. Years and years of watching romantic movies and reading love stories, has shaped and fashioned your idea of love. And when the love you feel fails to live up to these unrealistic standards, you begin to stray. You wander off from the path of happiness and end up with a not-so-good experience or after thought about love.

To avoid any of that, let’s talk about certain misconceptions that we all have about love.

1)      Love is only once and stays forever

This is the most common and disastrous misconception about love. You have to understand that love is not a once in a lifetime thing. Love is never once. You can love over and over again. A beautiful emotion like love cannot ever be limited. You can love multiple persons at the same time and your love for one cannot be compared to your love for another. Each time you  love, you love with a different ferocity. Just because you’re in a nine-year committed relationship does not mean you cannot love someone else ever again. No. This brings me to the other half of the misconception that true love stays. This is completely incorrect. Love, although the most powerful emotion of all can curb or can be curbed. It is not permanent. Just like you can suddenly stop feeling envious of someone, you can suddenly stop loving someone too. And you may try your best to answer the whys and why nots but trust me, you’re better off without the unnecessary soul-searching. Love can happen twice, thrice--even ten times--and each time it’ll be true and each time it can go away as easily as the one before.

Do not for God’s sake beat yourself up about not being in love with someone you’re supposed to love with all your heart. It usually happens when the guy you’re going out with suddenly decides he wants to get married and you’re just not ready. Or when you are in love with two people at the same time and don’t know what you should be doing. In time, you’ll figure it out. Be patient and believe in your love.

2)      Love hurts. Always.

This is another false concept that has been emphasized through novels, movies and social media all the time. In stories, there is always a difficulty or a problem that love has to conquer. Name one book or movie that was based on love and that did not show emotional and physical difficulties involving love. Are the difficulties because of love? In most cases, not. Take Romeo and Juliet, for example. Theirs was a tragedy. Why? Not because they fell in love, but because of the strife between their families. Was love responsible for the strife? No. Then how can we generalize that love is what hurts?

I get really upset when I see quotes on Tumblr or Facebook that go along the lines of “If it’s true, it’ll hurt.” It has got to stop. Love does not hurt. Love is one emotion. Hurt is another emotion. Pain, sorrow, heartbreak are different emotions. They are not caused by love. They are caused by rejections or unfulfilled expectations. “Love always hurts” is something that abusive boyfriends or girlfriends count upon to save their relationship. When in suffering blame it on love. No, honey, you have to stop doing that. Love won’t and shouldn’t hurt.

Remember that awkward conversation from Sex and the City?

Samantha Jones: Relationships aren't just about being happy. I mean, how often are you happy in your relationship? 
Charlotte York: Every day. 
Samantha Jones: Every day? 
Charlotte York: Well, not all day every day but yes, every day. 

In fact, I’d like to stretch a mile and say, “If it hurts, it ain’t love.”

3)      Love is only between a man and a woman

Many societies have for years generated the image of a man and a woman tangled in an embrace as the image of love. It has traditionally been impressed upon young minds either through the medium of social obligation or religious instruction that love is a bond between man and woman. However, love cannot be restrained. A man can love a man and a woman can love a woman in the same way a man loves a woman. One cannot put boundaries on love. The love between a lesbian couple and a gay couple is the same as the love between what the society calls a ‘normal’ couple.

4)      Love has to be equally reciprocated

Another disastrous misconception. Everyone falls prey to this one. You will not always be loved back by someone you gave your heart to. I mean, come on, it’s been years and Ryan  Higa is still unaware of my existence. Does that mean I should give up? No, I’ll keep stalking him till death do us part. Kidding, but the point is you won’t always receive the love that you give. But that’s okay. Life goes on, right? You’ll fall in love again. Hopefully with someone who lives on the same continent and is not fictional, taken or dead.

Anyway, it is common to assume that you cannot be in love if it’s not equally reciprocated by the one you love. False. You tell me, haven’t you ever loved someone who didn’t love you  back? But just because they didn’t, did it mean what you felt was not real or true? Of course not. It was real, as real as the love between couples. Even in a relationship, the love is felt individually by both parties. It is not a joint sentiment. It is mutual, not one and the same. Love is different when it’s expressed in a relationship and when it’s suppressed from a distance. But it is love all the same.

I know this girl who has loved a guy for more than three years. He is unaware of her feelings, indifferent to some extent. And yet she loves him. She wants him happy--be it with or without her. Look me in the eye and tell me her love isn’t true.

5)      Love will be like living a fairy tale

This is a misconception that has been harped on and on by Disney movies and the stories we tell our girls when they’re young and at their most vulnerable and impressionable age. We tell girls that love means a Prince Charming on a white horse, that love means a happily ever after. It’s not all true. When you view love through the fairytale filter you make basic mistakes like assuming:

·         A Prince will swoop in and kiss away your problems
·         A Prince has to court you and initiate the relationship first
·         You need a Prince to become a Princess
·         Your happily ever after will revolve around love and a Prince

Just think about it. Finding love is great and all but it’s not the only thing in the world. In fact, you don’t have to find  love. There is no The One that you have to settle with. Remember love is not once? Nor does it come with a forever guarantee. Happily ever after can totally be you sipping wine on a yacht in the Caribbean.

6)      Love is blind

This is the falsest statement about love. Love does not mean overlooking problems. It does not mean doing everything that your partner asks you to do and then covering it up with “Oh, you know, love is blind.” It’s okay to go out of your way once in a while to make your partner feel special like cooking their favorite dish, booking  movie tickets or even throwing a surprise party. You see, when you do these nice things, you do them because you want to, you do them out of love.

But when your partner throws in the classic “If you truly loved me” to make you do something you do not want to do, that’s when your blind love becomes dangerous. When your love is turning a blind eye to your own needs and feelings, that’s when you should be alarmed.

When you do crazy things with your boyfriend or girlfriend, make sure you do them cause you love him or her, not because you should do them as an obligatory gesture of love.

Love should invigorate your senses. It should sharpen your vision. A dynamic emotion like love cannot be blind. If you tell your friends proudly that you let your girlfriend or boyfriend walk all over you (in nicer words, of course) because “Love is blind," it’s about time you got your eyes and relationship checked.

7)      Love means constant display of affection and romance

Love is not just four-hour-long  phone calls that end with “Love you too”. Love is not just showering kisses or sleeping together every night. Love is definitely not just candle light dinners and weekends on the beach. That is romance. It’s a part of love, but it’s not a major one. Love is a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear to trust. Love is a patient caress and a meaningful “Take care”. Love is so many other things than just romance. It  is genuine care and affection for a person that goes beyond  the display of  love every day. A couple can still be in love if they don’t go out every evening. Even if they fight through the night but wake up and smile at each other, they are in love and their love is no different from the romantic one that you’re so used to seeing in movies.

8)      Love is happiness

Love is not happiness. It cannot be happiness. Love and happiness are two different emotions. You can love without being happy and you can be happy without being in love. One is not synonymous with the other. Neither does the onset of one guarantee the onset of the other. People, girls in particular, like to think that all their problems of insecurity, depression and loneliness can be cured once they are loved. No. Love is just an emotion. It cannot hide or rub away other emotions. It can help, yes. But not much really. Your problems, girl, are your own. Only you can handle them and solve them. Not love, not your partner.

9)      Love is a grown up emotion

I’m going to get a lot of criticism from the grown-ups for saying this, but I’m quite firm about it. Love is not restricted to age. A sixteen year old can love as fiercely as a twenty-eight year old.  However there are certain other factors at play when you consider their love. Let’s take an example:

Joey is a senior in high school. He’s madly in love with his popular best friend Alice. He thinks Alice is fun to hang out with and has really nice legs. They could be their school’s hottest item if only Alice would say yes to Joey’s advances.

Anna is in her late twenties. She likes a guy at work. Charlie is smart and is the Assistant manager at her branch. After her last relationship, Anna is looking for someone who can understand her need to make career a priority. She thinks Charlie, her hardworking senior will understand her need to achieve. He has a passion in his eyes and a certain gentleness in the way he talks. She likes how reliable and homely Charlie seems.

Did you notice the difference? Both Joey and Anna are in love. Their love may be the same, but their worlds are entirely different. While Joey is looking for a girl he can have fun with, who can make him popular in high school, Anna is looking for commitments that are much more long-term. Joey has yet to learn and understand a lot. He’s still fueled by hormones, while Anna is calm and has learnt from her previous mistakes. There is a difference in their maturity levels. Anna thought like Joey when she was younger and Joey will think like Anna when he’s older. But who’s to say their love is different?

10)  Love cannot be controlled

I honestly, truly believe that there is no such thing as “I couldn’t help falling in love with you” No. I like to think that emotions, like actions, are based  largely on choice. Just like how you can put a smile on your face on a sad, monsoon day with efforts and choice, you can  stop or start loving someone with enough efforts and firm choice. I know, not many will agree. Maybe no one will agree. But I can tell from my own experience that you can ‘choose’ to love or not love. Don’t tell me it wasn’t love if I could stop or start it of my own free will because I know it was and you cannot judge or compare it. This may sound complete BS to you if you’re in love and want to be in love for long but to the girl who’s trying her best to move on out of a difficult relationship, who thinks she can never stop loving this person who doesn’t love her back or isn’t the man she thought he was, the girl who knows she’s loving the wrong person and who just does not want to be in love anymore, this is hope. You will get over it. Trust me. 


Hello there, everyone! It's me, smilesifyXO, here! I just wanted to give a really big thank you to Saee for taking a chance to be vulnerable and sharing her thoughts about love here on Smiles No Matter. I think that society definitely has established strong ideas about what love is or isn't, but society isn't always right. I hope you guys found Saee's guest post to be extremely insightful as I did! Please share your thoughts in the comments below! 

If you'd like to see more of Saee's work, please head over to her blog, Wonderland. Saee is a very talented writer, and I myself really enjoy reading about her thoughts and experiences. 

Do you have any thoughts about love that you would like to share on this blog? Please let me know if you would be interested in writing a guest post by emailing me at! 

Smile on :)

July 27, 2015

Am I In Love?

Howdy, everyone! So the Love is In the Air series has been going quite well so far! Thank you for reading up on it and leaving your wonderful comments! And thank you so much to those of you who have followed my blog. It means the world to me that you guys take the time to read what I write--because everything I write on this blog is for you! That being said, if you have any questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments and I will always do my best!

Have any of you guys ever asked, "What is it like to be in love?" or "I love ______"? The question that I'm trying to get to is: How do we know if we love someone?

But maybe to answer this question, we must first ask, "What is love?"

I think that society tells us that love is this:

I mean, who isn't a sucker for those stories where boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, and everything is happy?

But if I were to conjure up an image of love, it would have to be something like this:

This is a picture of my grandparents <3
We want to believe that love is this strong wildfire that sets our hearts on fire, a feeling that consumes us from the inside out. I think we want to believe love is a mutual feeling that we have with someone--a crazy, strong feeling that we act upon in our youth. We want to believe that love is a feeling because it is simple. Feelings are obvious. Feelings are only one aspect in our lives that we consider.
We know, however, that love is so much more than a feeling. It is a relationship. It is what you prioritize. But above all, love is an action.
Love involves doing. I mean, just think about it. If you love your friend, in a bromance or best friend sort of way, don't you do stuff for them? Aren't you there for them when they need help? Don't you offer comfort or advice when they're feeling down? How can you call someone your friend if you guys don't depend on each other? Well, the same goes for romantic love.
That being said, the answer to the question "Do I love _______?" can be answered if you rephrase the question into, "Am I willing to make significant sacrifices for this person?" or "Will I put this person's needs before my own?"
Answering whether you love somebody or not is a simple thing to do, but it isn't easy. But more about it in the next post ;)
In the meantime, smile on. 

July 23, 2015

10 Tips for the First Date

So you've gone with that gut feeling and are going out on a date soon. Whoa! How did that happen, right? First dates are exciting. It's hard to know what to expect, how the other person will be, how your own nerves will be, etc. But--have no fear! Here are ten things (in no particular order) that we can do to help make the experience run as smoothly as it can.

  1. Dress comfortably and nicely. Let's face it, nobody wants to go on a date with someone who doesn't look like they care. So if you have something that's nicer than, say, a T-shirt, that is always a good option. But no need to wear anything so crazy that you're thinking about how tight or loose something is the whole time! Comfort can do wonders to make you feel confident on the first date.
  2. Start off with something active. And by active, I don't mean in the sense of running a marathon. I mean to do something that requires some attention. Like taking a walk along a nice bridge or park, or listening to music, or mini golfing--an activity that will engage you a little bit. This way, if there is a pause in a conversation, it is easy to come up with something new to talk about ("This is a nice view"), and even if there is silence it's not necessarily uncomfortable or awkward because there is stuff out there to draw both people's attention. 
  3. Make eye contact. This one's just a communication tip. Making eye contact shows the other person that you're paying attention to what they're saying, and that you're interested in the conversation. It is an easy way to make a connection with people.
  4. Don't put too much pressure on this date. It is only the first date, after all! Just look at the date as a time to have fun with someone who you want to get to know better. It's only one date that you've agreed to--not a lifetime commitment to a spouse.
  5. Be on time. Show that you value the other's person's time and efforts! This tip may be coming from a Type-A personality, but I must say that a guy who meets me exactly on time--or even plans to arrive a couple minutes ahead of the date--makes a far better impression than the guy who is ten minutes late after I've gone through a whole routine to be ready for him on point. Being on time is an easy way of showing the other person that you respect them and are excited to hang out with them. Of course, things happen, so timeliness isn't a make-or-break deal, but I say it is always good to make an effort.
  6. Sit next to each other. If this date involves food, try getting a booth where you can sit next to each other. This tip sort of depends on your comfort level, but to me, I tend to feel a little self conscious when I'm eating in front of someone who I want to impress. Eating isn't the most attractive thing you could be doing, after all! (I mean, just think about eating a salad... Is there something stuck in my teeth?) So if you sit next to your date, s/he will think, "Oh, they want to sit closer to me. That's cool!" Little do they know...
  7. Have fun! I mentioned this a little bit in Tip #4, but I just wanted to reiterate the having fun part! Either you or the other person put in some effort planning this date, so make the most of the moment by living in it.
  8. Don't be afraid of conversation. And what I mean by this is, don't be afraid to direct conversation one way or another. Some people like going through small talk, others like getting into those real conversations discussing politics, interests, and emotions right away. If you feel like you've only been having small talk and haven't learned more about the other person, just ask a question that steers the conversation toward something deeper. On the other hand, if your date is talking on and on and on about something s/he really loves but you have heard enough about it, don't be afraid to (politely) shift topics and find different connections by saying something to the effect of, "That is awesome. I kind of feel the same way when I do..." or ask a question that mildly redirects, like "Why do you like doing _____?" or "When did you start doing _____?" Hopefully, this will get the conversation to get flowing naturally if it isn't already!
  9. Have confidence. Did you know that confidence is one of the most attractive qualities in a human being? You have a lot of things to be confident about, whether it's who you are, what you do, where you've been. So don't go into the date thinking, "Oh, if I mess up, they're not going to like me anymore." Think positively and smile!
  10. Be yoself! This is a really cliché one but it is absolutely true! There is a reason why you're going on a date with this person--it's because they see something attractive about you (regardless about if you were the one asking or asked).  Be happy with who you are as a person because you were wonderfully and fearfully made. Take it from somebody who's seen it happen firsthand: You will avoid many problems in the future by simply doing what comes naturally to you. So, be honest with yourself and your date.
Good luck with that first date! And as always, smile on.

July 18, 2015

Love at First Sight?

One of you guys recently asked me if I believe in love at first sight. It was kind of interesting because, well, I've never really thought about it long and hard before. Certainly not long and hard enough to write a solid post about it yet. As I let it marinate for a while, I realized that there may actually be a lot to say about this...

It's a common thing to say "Don't judge a book by its cover," but let's face it: First impressions count. Especially when I reached college and started meeting hundreds of people (as opposed to, say, my middle school that only 60 kids in the 6th-8th grades), I've found myself liking certain people due this little feeling that I get when I'm around them.

Before I transferred universities, I hung out with these two kids, named Eric and Eric. Eric W. I met through a mutual friend, and our personalities just kind of clicked. We didn't think that we'd see each other around much until our friend groups melded together, and then we eventually became best friends--close enough that he was able to tell me some of his darkest secrets. The way I met Eric T. is a more interesting story, though. Basically, he dressed up as a fairy for Halloween, and when I met him, we just instantly became best friends. (He was in my new profile picture the next day. The legitimacy of our best friendship was pretty hardcore.)

There was another instance when I decided that I liked my Organic Chemistry TA the first time we talked. The conversation went a little something like this:

     "Hey, I forgot to staple my lab report."
     "That means you're gonna fail then!"
     "..." (I was thinking: This guy is either super cool or is the biggest jerk ever!)
     "Haha, just kidding! I'd never fail someone for a silly thing like that. Here's a stapler."

Simple as it sounds, it was right then and there that I decided that my TA was cool and maybe Organic Chemistry wouldn't be as bad as I was thinking it would go.

On one hand, I could list off a whole bunch of times when a positive first impression led to a good friendship. We can gain a lot of insight into a person from the first time we meet them, especially if we ourselves are willing to be open and vulnerable about who we are too. Actually, it's a known fact that the average American decides whether s/he likes his/her date within the first 20 minutes of the date.

But on the other hand, "Oh this person seems cool" is way different from falling in love with him/her at first sight.

I guess part of it depends on what you think love means. When it comes to romantic love, I think of it as dedicating yourself to making the other person happy. It involves seeing marriage in the future. And I'm sorry if I offend you in being extremely blunt, but being willing to marry somebody and being willing to make major sacrifices for this person you've just seen/'s a little crazy.

Seeing someone across the way and feeling a connection--that's a connection, not really love. It could potentially turn into love in the future, and if you have a feeling and reason that you should pursue someone, then try it and see where it takes you. But true love takes time. It takes time to trust someone, to place your hopes in them and to share your dreams with them. It takes time to show them how much you care and to learn about their character and flaws. It takes time before you can say to another person, "I'm ready to fight with you. Through whatever life throws at us, through whatever valleys we must cross. I'm ready to fight for you, even if you hurt me. I want to rejoice with you in your joys and comfort you when you weep. I'm ready to dedicate a big part of my life to you."

Long story short: Attraction at first sight? Undoubtedly. Love at first sight? Unlikely.

What do you guys think about love at first sight? I know there are some opinions that must be different from mine--I do have much to experience, after all! Please let me know in the comments below!

Smile on :)

July 14, 2015

When Your Heart and Mind Conflict

My heart has taken me to some pretty cool places. The career I am aspiring to reach, some of the closest friends I have, starting Taekwondo despite a large amount of fear, a huge part of my personality--this blog--all exist in my life because I've followed my heart. But, my heart has gotten me into some trouble, too. Actually, it's gotten me really hurt before when I followed it foolishly. During these times, I think that if I'd thought about things just a little more, I wouldn't have had to go through as much pain as I did.

Sometimes, it seems like what our hearts want is at war with what our brains are telling us. I personally experienced this while I was thinking about gay marriage as a Christian. My heart told me to love and accept regardless of gender and sexuality, but my mind told me that Scriptures says that homosexuality and perversion of sexuality are sins. In this case, I let the thoughts and feelings marinate for a good while until I could finally formulate my overall viewpoint on the topic (which can be seen on this post #shamelessplug).

When it comes to loving another person, however, it oftentimes may not be so easy because we don't have to worry about how it'll impact us--it will impact the other person as well. Also, love is really a gamble. It is connected with your identity, sense of well-being, and happiness... Risking parts of these elements that define you is no joke. When I have a crush, and I'm wondering what I should do about my feelings, wondering if he feels the same way about me, this is how I feel:

But with a lot more violent hooks to the face.
What are we to do when the heart and mind are conflicting? Whenever I experience this inner war, it is either because I feel like I should do something, but there are many reasons against doing it. Like for example, when I was in a previous relationship, there was something that my partner did that bothered me. I wanted to speak my mind about it so that it would stop hurting me, but at the same time I didn't want him to get upset about it, make it too big of a deal, or get into a fight about it. Are the risks worth it?

The best way to deal with conflict between the mind and heart is to find a common ground between both sides. This is a very simple concept, but it's not as easy to execute most times. Here are two things to remind yourself when your mind is fighting your heart:
  1. Ask yourself what your intentions are. Do you think that entering a relationship would be better for you and the other person? Well, hopefully it would benefit both! Does a problem between you and your partner affect you or him/her negatively so that you should talk about it? Be real with yourself and try to understand your own feelings before you try explaining them to another person.
  2. Ask for advice. Sometimes, we feel like we are going through things alone. Truth is, we're never alone. It might sound a little creepy at first, but in reality, this is the greatest comfort for human beings. You could always talk to someone who knows you well, or someone who is in a relationship that understands what you're going through--or you could go to the Bible. Learning your friends' perspectives on your situation will give you an unbiased opinion that'll help you weed through all your feelings. (Just don't be offended if they happen to be brutally honest!)
And finally, here are some tips for you should you decide to go for making a change:
  1. Don't be afraid of being vulnerable! We tend to want to avoid feeling stressed, anxious, or crazy. Actually, we really want to avoid being vulnerable. It is pretty scary putting yourself out there for something or someone, especially when we could potentially be hurt or rejected (or both). But you know what? When it comes to love, it is all about being vulnerable. I look at the purest, strongest, most beautiful form of love when I see Jesus on the cross. He died for me. He died because he wanted my sins to be washed away. He didn't expect me to dedicate my life to him. He didn't even expect me to believe in him. He gave up his dignity, freedom--his life--to save you. Without requiring anything. And he conquered death as a result. If God loves us like that, sinking down to the absolute lowest level and dying a scoundrel's death, we could sum up the courage to do this one thing for this one relationship. There is something beautiful in vulnerability, after all.
  2. Be gentle, but firm. So you've decided what you want and have summed up the courage to bring it up. Be firm in your intentions. You want to make a change for the better. So hold onto that! But, don't go in hot-headed, waving your fist and screaming "I'M RIGHT!!" Be able to calmly explain how you feel, and also be ready to listen to their thoughts.
  3. Be willing to compromise. I mean, this is a relationship we're talking about and not the United States Congress. Don't think of the situation as a war.
  4. If things don't go your way, it's okay. No need to beat yourself up if things don't go the way you intended them to. You can only try your best, and it wouldn't be right if you controlled the other person. So hold your head up high if you did your best!

Smile on.

July 6, 2015

My Mind is on Love!

Hello, my friends! The last post was more on the serious side, but it is definitely good to be serious or political every now and then. We each have our own, individual thoughts. If we don't express what we think, then what's the point of it all?

Anyway, just thinking about all the things that are going on in my life, and thinking about the hashtag (#LoveWins) that has been exploding on the Internet about the legalization of gay marriage--my mind has been on love. Romantic love.

I haven't really written a whole lot on what I think of romance yet, have I guys? It's kind of weird, especially since I think that it is such a big part of our culture. How many of us grew up watching movies about falling in love? How many of us see getting married as part of our happily ever after? Despite all of this, I think that love is also something that's very misunderstood in our society. It is so complex, so thrilling.

You guys, it's time.

Time to do a series on love!

What are some must-speak-of topics that you have in mind? Would like to write a guest post on this topic to share your thoughts and story? Please leave a comment or email me at!

Smile on :)

July 2, 2015

A Christian's Opinion on Sexuality

As you probably already know, gay marriage was legalized in the U.S. This is probably the most interesting of all the news my Facebook feed has heard in a long time. It is really not surprising to me that gay marriage is legal. Our society has been progressing towards one that values equality and equity. Politically, this is a good thing. It is a good thing that we want people to have the same opportunities despite their race, ethnicity, sex, and gender. I think that it's a rather noble goal to overcome the long-standing barriers everybody must face concerning privilege and injustice. So politically, it doesn't make sense to me if we were to support women's rights, support interracial relationships, support equality--and not support gay marriage. Does anyone want a society that is based on gray areas and blurred lines?

But as a Christian, what are we to do? The Bible tells us that homosexuality is a sin (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9). There is really no denying that God's creation of sex is meant to be between a married man and woman. God wants us to prosper. He wants us to build up families, raise children to spread his love, comfort, and peace. He wants us to celebrate life!

God made sex to be a beautiful thing. It symbolizes love, vulnerability, and trust between a couple. We need to keep in mind that this beautiful gift has a purpose, though--to reproduce! Are we losing sight of this purpose?

Think of a flower. If you were to have this one, beautiful flower that you can offer to a person that you think you love. Giving this flower to anybody involves ripping the petals off this flower and cutting the stem into pieces. The value of that flower decreases as you give more and more pieces to more and more people. Sex is a lot like that, but more--it's a contract between a man and a woman. Giving it to multiple partners makes it lose not only its value, but its entire meaning.

Christians should be sad about the sexual immorality that our society has embraced. It is sad that this celebration of life has become perverted into something that advertisers use to sell products. It is sad that pornography has become a multibillion dollar industry in the United States alone. It is sad that rape isn't rare. And ultimately, it is sad that society has lost sight of the beauty--the meaning--of sex. Even marriage is losing its meaning... Just look at the divorce rates these days.

Homosexuality is a sin, but so is every other perversion of sexuality. No matter what gender/sexuality we each affiliate with, we all face tremendous temptations and trials.

It is up to us to remind those around us how precious our bodies are, how precious marriage is, and how precious sex is. It is up to us to hold ourselves accountable to God. Sin isn't only between you and one other party--it's between you and God. Does this strike any awe to you guys?

But let's face it, there are a few Christians that have gone around this the wrong way. There is a difference between being constructive and being judgmental. When I think about how to deal with another person's sin, I think of how Jesus dealt with others' sins in the Bible. He did not avoid confronting people about their sin. He brought it out into the light. The worst thing you've ever done? Jesus knows it. Jesus didn't just acknowledge sin, though. He healed it. He said, "Yeah, you've messed up a ton in your life. You know what, though? I love you. I am here for you. I'm here to take away the pain and trauma that you've brought upon yourself. I have so much love for you that I am wiping away all the darkness in your life--wiping it away so clean that it'll be as if you were born again."

There is no way I can do what Jesus did. The amount of love in my heart is a single drop compared to his oceans. Jesus made things pretty simple for us. He summed up how Christians should act in two sentences: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength... [And] love your neighbor as yourself."

How would I want somebody to treat me when it comes to my sin? Naturally, I'd want to be able to talk about it. I'd want to talk to someone who was patient and compassionate. Someone who didn't push for details or draw their own conclusions. Someone who is pragmatic, wise, and understanding. I look for somebody who considers him/herself as a friend. I'm not looking for someone to talk down on me, but someone who sincerely wants the best for me.

So this is how I want to treat those around me. With kindness, sincerity, patience, and love. Many people consider all of these to be signs of weakness, but although there is darkness all around us, it doesn't give us any reason to hide our light.

The problem of expressing gender and sexuality doesn't belong to the LGBTQ community. It is inherently a human problem.

Quick disclaimer: These are my thoughts and opinions looking through a Christian lens, but I do not claim to represent all Christians' viewpoints. We all differ in what we think, after all!

What do you think about the legalization of gay marriage and hypersexualization in our society? Does your political lens differ from your religious lens? What do you think we should do to address this situation? Let me know in the comments below!

Smile on.

May 22, 2015

A Graduation Tribute to my Sister

Hello, world! This post is going to be a little more personal from my other posts because it is a little bit more personal. I just wanted to congratulate the Class of 2015 and hope that all of you take this time of the year to celebrate everything you've accomplished and look forward to the things that life has to offer! 

Love you, and will write to you again soon.

Smile on,


Eighteen years ago, a 7-pound little Asian girl named Dana was born. At the time, I wasn't yet sure of what to expect from my new sister, but my parents were pretty convinced that we would be best friends...or something like that.

Anyhow, things didn't really go exactly the way my parents planned. Because Dana and I fought over practically everything. Consider Mom's distress when we even argued over which cup was whose--when there were two identical cups, untouched, on the table! There were some days when I would think that Dana was against me for every minute of the day, until playtime came along. I think to some of my play dates and a lot of fights with my friends originated from playtime. We would bicker about who got to wear what costume, who got to be this character, et cetera. Surprisingly and to all of our relief, Dana and I never argued when we played. My time playing with my sister was a sanctuary. It didn't matter who we pretended to be as long as we were pretending together. And it didn't matter if we'd just come out of a spanking from fighting over another stupid thing that kids fight about. When we came together with our imaginations, nothing could stop us unless we were done, or unless if Mom was yelling at us to go to bed already, it's 8pm.

Dana and I went to Shepherd of the Hills Christian School. They say that the second child is the more socially adept one, and our family wasn't an exception to this. I struggled with friendships throughout my whole time in Shepherd, and it wasn't until 8th grade when I finally settled in with a friend group that I could fully relate with and confide in... This is saying something, considering that I'd known most of these kids since Kindergarten. Dana, on the other hand, never had a problem connecting with her peers and making friends. In fact, I can't even call her a social butterfly, because butterflies needed to once be a grubby, awkward-looking caterpillar. Dana cared so much about each person she encountered. People were never afraid to come to her with their problems, and she always did her best to support her friends, even as they dragged her into the middle of their arguments. She's reliable, trustworthy, and understanding, and she never let her friends down. I think that her Confirmation verse, John 8:12, inspires her. Dana recognizes Jesus as the Light of the world, and as a part of being his child, she is a small light herself.

Her caring spirit continued shining when she got to high school. At first, Dana didn't want to go to our high school because I was there, and she didn't want to go through that thing that some teachers tend to do. You know, like, "Oh, Nikki was a great student; I'm going to assume that you're going to be just like her because you're her sister." But after many conversations, our family decided that this school was the best option, because it was close, and because of the AP Program, which Dana excelled in. She has taken so many AP classes: Biology, Chemistry, Government, Literature, Language and Composition, Macroeconomics, European History, U.S. History, Calculus, and Environmental Science. Yep, she's kind of awesome at school. She didn't stop there, though!

In lieu of listing off her whole resume, let's just highlight a few of her accomplishments:
1.       Became the President of Eco Club, which brought some new, efficient lights to the high school.
2.       Was a "fielder" on the Varsity Track & Field team, throwing heavy things very far!
3.       Was a valued part of various honors societies, for academics and musical talents.
4.       Became a Green Belt in Taekwondo. (I don't think that Dana really considers this as one of her major accomplishments, but I am just sayin'.)

Anyway, Dana was really nervous that she wouldn't find her place in high school. Like, so nervous that she didn't want to go there. But now that she's a senior, it is easy to ask any of her friends, teammates, fellow club members, classmates, and teachers if they think she will go far, and none of them would have any doubts!

My sister's accomplishments are pretty cool, but I think that the most important thing she has gained from high school is a sense of self. Dana has encountered so many people in her life already, and while she is optimistic and kind, she is very smart. She has impacted the lives of the people around her with her smile, good advice, and listening ear.

Dana has taught me these things so far:
1.       Age does not equal maturity points.
2.       A listening ear can offer much more comfort than a bucket-load of solid advice.
3.       It is possible to sleep through anything if you set your heart and soul to it.

I am excited to see you in college next semester, Dana. I look forward to continue growing with you and watching you continue to do exciting things. I couldn't have asked for a better sister in Christ.  

May 15, 2015

Keep Your Dreams Alive!

Hello there, friends! How are you this beautiful Friday? I got out of school last week, and this week I've just been relaxing and catching up on a whole lot of sleep! I've reflected a bit on how life went last semester, and realized how easy it is to get so caught up in the mundane that we forget why we started doing what we're doing in the first place! Can any of you out there relate too? Like, I think back and am a little sad to admit that all the schoolwork I did was mostly aimed at getting good grades--in a few of my classes, I failed to find joy in the learning process. I missed out on so much happiness there! So many extracurricular things were going on in my life, and at the time it was really hard, but now I look back and am proud of the work I've done.

So anyhow, I found this TED talk a while back--probably around the crazy time of finals. I wanted to share this with you because Bel Pesce's words rekindled that inner flame when I reminded myself why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Keep your dreams alive, and never lose sight of who you are.

Smile on,

April 21, 2015

The Perfect Body

Hello, friends! I don't know if all of you are fitness junkies, but I follow a Pilates instructor, Cassey Ho, on her channel on YouTube called Blogilates. She posts fun workouts that target specific body areas that anyone can follow, so it's an easy way to get a bit of exercise when everything else is crazy busy. Anyway, Cassey posted a new video called The Perfect Body. I think it is a really good video because it targets all the problems that our society has created surrounding body image.

I was shocked when Cassey read comments that she received about being unqualified to be a fitness instructor due to her appearances. Well, I guess I wouldn't say I was shocked because I know how society functions. But I would say that the way society functions is truly saddening.

Society teaches us that what's on the outside is all that matters. Women are portrayed as body parts on the media to sell objects, and this has led to a lot of misconception about how bodies really are. There is a message that women need to have skinny torsos, a thigh gap, a shapely booty, toned arms, white teeth, bright eyes, and light skin. If you're a female who lifts weights and has bulky arms, thighs, and chest, you're looked at like a mutant. If you're a female who has a flat chest and butt, you're compared to a rail. Society looks for primarily one body type for women: skinny with curves in the right places. It is extremely rare for a woman to look like this without extensive physical training, diet, plastic surgery, and/or Photoshop.

Men also face some unrealistic expectations. We see all of these men with huge biceps and pecs, a chiseled jaw, and confident gaze. Well, not all guys are like this either. Men who are more sensitive and considerate are often mocked and are often called "gay." (But now we are opening a new can of worms that should be saved for another post.)

Some try to balance this problem of society out by promoting the "average" body type to be the new standard for beauty. Remember that "average" Barbie doll?

The way I see it, instead of telling people that everyone looks beautiful, why don't we realize that physical appearances don't matter?

Who ever said that a person needs to have a specific body type in order to succeed and excel in a certain career? Is there an optimal body that you must have in order to be a great friend, a father, a mother, a student?

There is so much more to you than what you look like. It's time to stop focusing on the surface and learn to find what is truly worth admiring in this life.

Smile on,

April 12, 2015

LIFE UPDATE: My 2015 Spring Semester

Happy Friday!! Today I was going through some of the lovely comments from past posts that you guys left for me and realized how much I've been neglecting this blog. I was nominated for a lot of wonderful blog awards and would like to do them sometime in the future, but there are so many other things that I want to share with you. I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to the kind readers who recognized Smiles No Matter. I am really grateful for the nominations and will get around to writing those posts when time allows.
Anyhow, today I'll just be sharing a bit about what I've been up to lately, just so we can catch up and then get rolling with a lot of fresh, inspiration as the school year comes to a close and summer begins!
So to be honest, this semester was really intense. I had a lot of things to juggle because my jobs suddenly dumped a lot of hours on me. For those of you that don't know, I am working two jobs this semester: I'm a tutor for writing, psychology, and general chemistry, and also work at the front desk of a residence hall. I absolutely love tutoring. I love connecting with my "tutees," watching how they mature and learn, and having the feeling that I have helped someone with something. It's not the perfect job, but it is really nice to do during college.

My desk job, on the other hand, is actually more stressful than what it's worth. I work some crazy night shifts and it was difficult near the middle of the semester because my boss had assigned me many of these shifts on the days I had 8am classes, despite my having discussed my schedule with him/her before this semester. The lack of sleep has just been really draining on me, and I am pretty underpaid and under-appreciated at my job, as are most people who work night jobs.

But, a lot of positives have also come out from having these jobs. Without the work, I wouldn't have met some of the people I know, and sadly I can't deny that making money is becoming more important to me, because it opens up doors for me to do things that I am passionate about. I started sponsoring a child in India through World Vision. I can treat my friends to dinner. I don't really have to worry about not being able to do the things I want to do due to financial issues. Not to mention that taekwondo is an expensive sport when it comes to traveling and entering tournaments.

Speaking of tournaments, taekwondo this semester was geared a lot toward preparing for a major tournament: Collegiate Nationals. I'd have to say that taekwondo has become that part of my life that would cripple me if I were to lose it. This year's competition went amazingly for our team this year! We brought home six medals!! Although I didn't medal in my division, I feel like I have improved so much since I began fighting. I am just so grateful to be more involved with taekwondo, and look forward to training even harder during the upcoming year.

For those of you interested in how the tournament went for me, here is a link to a video that shows my fights and form.

Volunteering has also been going well. I am a part of Alpha Phi Omega, which is a non-Greek, co-ed fraternity that is dedicated to community service. I am currently the Service Co-Chair on the executive board, and have just been getting people excited about doing community service. I started volunteering with the Counseling and Psychological Services as well. I basically promote healthy living and try to destigmatize mental health issues. I have learned so much being a part of it!

Other than that, I would have to say that this semester has been the most challenging academically so far. I am currently taking 16 credit hours; Organic Chemistry II has been kicking my butt, and I've had to really buckle down to study for the last exam before the final. College is not easy! But it is rewarding. I particularly enjoy my English class, which has tons of daily readings (we are reading eight books, plus journal articles and short stories, in four months); the discussions that stem from these readings are so fascinating.

All of the things going on in my life have just consumed a lot of energy. Which is not necessarily a bad thing--I want to live my life to the fullest, and I want to give my all. But it hasn't left a lot of time and inspiration for this blog, and I am very sorry about that. Recently, I've been getting inspired and excited about everything again, so I am looking forward to writing to you more and posting more vlogs!

Thank you for reading all of my updates and thoughts! Sorry if this was a little boring to you; there is just a lot in my life that I want to share with you. How do you think your semester has been? Let me know in the comments!

Smile on,

March 29, 2015

Not All of Us Can Do Great Things

Hello, hello! How are you today? Today is the last day of Spring Break. I'm back at school, ready to face another busy week. It was a lovely time relaxing, spending time with family, and having little adventures though!

As I am preparing myself to get back into the swing of things, I thought about how small life can seem at times. I certainly have a desire to leave the world better than it was when I arrived, but when studying for tests, going to work, going to practice, and all these miscellaneous meetings--when everyday life comes into play--how is it even possible to think about helping the world? How can I possibly help someone else when my own life is such a struggle?

Have you ever had one of those moments?

I know this is kind of pessimistic compared to a lot of my posts. I am usually pretty motivational--you can do whatever you set your mind to do! Now, I still fully believe this one hundred percent, but this post is mostly for the people who maybe don't want to go do great things. After all, we're not all cut out to travel into third world countries, feeding the hungry, curing the sick, clothing the naked, spreading education, sharing wealth, and changing lives in that sort of way. Perhaps sometimes we wish we had the motivation and inspiration to do all of those things.

But our calling could be something more simple. Maintain a household, get a normal job, build a family. Or, our current place in life may not be where it will eventually be. Struggling artists, aspiring students, maturing young adults. It is even very possible that life has taken unexpected twists and turns so that we're just struggling to make our own ends meet--how can we bring change to someone else's life when our own lives are filled with so much hurt and pain?

The truth is, not all of us can do great things. Not right now, at least. In fact, a woman who is much wiser than myself said these words. But there is more:
We can do small things with great love!

Aren't those beautiful, inspiring words that just change your attitude on life? I am just reminded of all the little ways that I can help others, and of the wonderful impact that small random acts of kindness have.

What are some small things with great love that you can do? Let me know your ideas in the comments below!

Have a wonderful day!

Smile on,

March 23, 2015

The Attitude of a Champion

Hello, friends! Life has been quite busy and I haven't had a lot of inspiration or time to write. But, I just finished my last midterm for the meantime and am here now! How has your life been going? Is all well? Let me know all about what has been happening in your life in the comments below! Aside from the exams, there has been a lot going on this semester. To see what I've been up to, please see my YouTube channel, which has vlogs that document some of the little, happy moments of my life.

Lately, Taekwondo has been consuming a whole lot of energy and time. Major competitions are coming up, and my team has been working extremely hard at practice to get ready for them. As things have been getting more intense, it feels like all the other aspects of my life have also been getting quite hectic, too. There was a week I just felt like I was trying to do everything at once,.. It got to the point where the only thing I could feel was stress, disappointment in myself--I was so overwhelmed.

I started questioning what my life was all about. I felt passionate about everything that I was doing, but at the same time it was impacting my mental and physical health. I felt like I was falling behind.

My refuge was Taekwondo practice. While I was there, I was one with my body, doing something that I loved, and surrounded by people that I care about.

Maybe about a month ago, we started training hardcore on head-shots--not just aiming for them, but taking them. I don't know if you've ever been kicked in the head before, but it's not the most pleasant thing. I remember when one of my friends nailed me in the nose (she could've easily broken it, but she's been fighting for a long time and has incredible control). Even so, it took all the willpower I had to hold the tears in. I knew that getting kicked was a part of the sport, so I grit my teeth and did my best to keep on with the drill and work at improving my head-shots (and protecting myself better).

But, when some people got hit in the head, they would almost...give up, stop fighting for a little bit. One of the worst things someone can do in the middle of a fight is stop. When you stop, you're vulnerable to another attack. Unless if the ref stops the fight, there is no telling what the opponent could do next.

My coaches and the Colombian champion told us this.

It is all about attitude, they said. If you can keep up a positive attitude and never back down--no matter how hard things got, that was what made a champion. We could learn all the great techniques there are to win a match, but at the end of the day, it was the attitude to keep going, keep improving, keep fighting that came to define champions.

And you know what? That's how life is. Life is not always easy. Life has its victories and losses. Life can throw stuff at you that hurts even more than a kick to the head. But, what are we going to do when things get hard? Are we going to give in? Stop fighting for our dreams and goals?

Of course not! It is when things get hardest that we need to sharpen our focus, grit our teeth, and push on. Fight for what's right. Fight for what's good. Fight for our friends and family. Fight for our dreams.

Keep a positive attitude. (Positive doesn't have to equate with optimistic all the time.) But be positive that you will come out stronger in the end. Be positive that your life is something great and wonderful.

Keep up the attitude of a champion, and that is what you'll become in your life!

Smile on,

January 16, 2015

Taking 2015

Hello everybody! How are you? I feel like it has been ages since I've started writing a fresh new post, but here we are--finally! I really apologize that I haven't written in such a long time, but life just caught up with me. However, I promise that even though I may not be as consistent with posts anymore, I will be here for you. In the meantime, I will do my best to try getting back into star-blogger mode!

Today I just wanted to take the time to catch up with you--two months is such a long time, don't you think? I'll also be sharing one of my main goals for 2015 and sharing a new take on New Year's Resolutions. Enjoy!

Image Source

The other night, I met up with a dear friend who said, "I haven't seen you since 2014. Happy New Year!" It was just one of those moments where life sinks in and you start realizing how time has passed and how much you've grown. I choked down this feeling though, doing my best to focus on the moment at hand. The passage of time is surreal to me; it's as if life is pushing onward hastily like a train, but despite that each day is so special and lengthy in its own way.

2014 has been such a year--a great one at that. I've hinted at it a little bit on this blog, but I had some very bad experiences during 2013. So last year was like a period of recovery from the hits that I'd taken, and it was also a period of growth. I moved to a new university where I was challenged academically and as a leader. I also met a very special person.

But what of 2015? Well, I decided that instead of trying to set lofty goals of succeeding at this or accomplishing that (which I usually push myself to do), it is my resolution to be satisfied.

There seems to be a growing concern about the discontentment of our generation. Why? Well, we're constantly looking for more. Just go to school and look around: How many people are on their phones? There is nothing wrong with technology; in fact, I find that my phone, laptop, and Kindle are incredibly helpful when it comes to communicating with friends and family, taking and reviewing notes for school, and of course writing my blog and editing the occasional vlog.

But there seems to be such a dissatisfaction in the now, which is reflected in the obsession of our devices.

We scroll through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts, as if we're looking for more in life. But, does scrolling really fill that void?

On the contrary, perhaps it is the scrolling that creates the void. When we look at all those articles, commentaries, pictures, and memes but don't find any satisfaction in that content, it sets us on the hunt for more. Did you know that the average American checks his/her smartphone 150 times a day?

So, my resolution for 2015 is to do less--technology. Because this will lead to appreciating more!

But I suppose that the resolution isn't really a New Year's Resolution. It's pretty well-established that New Year's Resolutions usually fail. So instead, I will make it a New Day's Resolution. Every day is a new day, a fresh chance to succeed at our goals.

Have a blessed semester and year!

Smile on,
-Riley XO
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