In my thoughts

People should share their authentic selves. There’s this notion that exists on some social media platforms that you have to brand yourself as something. On Twitter, you’re either that tech person, that fashion person, that professor person, that ____ person. On Instagram, some feel compelled to compose a “feed aesthetic”; VSCO even designed a feature so you can see what your whole grid looks like together. Once you accumulate followers, those people expect certain content from you. I hate that. It feels so restricting.

We are more than just that ____ person. Why can’t we present that — all of that — to the world?

Within the past few months since I’ve started work, I have — to be quite honest — felt frustrated at times because I feel like people only see me as my job title and my company. And I had this realization that I want the things people see about me or see from me to represent my authentic self in its true form.

Here’s an attempt to do that; these are some of the things I’ve been thinking about.

On Creativity.

I’ve been feeling restless and in search of creative outlets. I feel like this is somewhat expected for new young working professionals. I realized that our jobs only represent one facet of our being and we shouldn’t neglect those other sides.

I have many projects, thoughts, visions in my head I want to explore. Unfortunately, my options for creative outlets are limited. Though I studied music for a long time, I was classically trained and never had a knack for composition or lyric writing. Though my mother put me in an art camp every summer and I grew up constantly drawing, high school and college leeched away creative inklings within me by making my main priorities tests and practical goal fulfillment. It feels as though I’ve lost touch with those skills.

I came back after a trip to London this past summer and after visiting the Tate Modern Art museum, I was inspired and had a vision in my head of an abstract painting I wanted to create. I still had all my leftover paints and canvases from my former (relatively) artistic self. I had such a clear idea in my head, but when I actually put the brush to the surface, it looked like garbage. The image I envisioned was trapped in my head and I didn’t know how to get it out.

I’ve been feeling this a lot recently. I’ve been exploring photography more. There are some amazing photographers and peers around us. When I see gorgeously framed and shot photos from them, I have immense respect for their talents and while it’s intimidating to approach the craft in the way or same skill level they do, I think people and their varying perspectives can offer something unique, even if you’re not the most talented with the camera, based on what you choose to capture.

For now, my most comfortable medium is writing. I used to write all the time when I was younger; stories about Team Rocket, a mystery where my friend and I got kidnapped and had to find our way back to our parents. Fanfictions. I had dreams of being an author one day.

In college, my favorite class ever was a Creative Writing class. The professor was old. So old that he was only teaching because of pure love for the job and for helping others create; if he were anyone else, he would have been retired. He would bring donuts and treats for us three times a week, spent hours online and offline editing papers not because he had to but because he wanted to. He wasn’t even that strict of a grader on papers, but everyone seemed to want to give it their all because we were so appreciative for a safe creative space.

The professor passed away a few semesters after I took the class. I’m very thankful I was able to work with him because he reignited this side of me that had been dormant for so long.

I still have a lot to improve on, but even though everything we create might not be to a perfect standard and there might be a few duds, in some ways, that’s the beauty of it all.

On Sharing.

It seems to me that many are afraid, nervous, or even apathetic to post on social media — particularly Facebook. For most people, it’s the platform that connects them to the most number of people and has the highest variance of strengths of relationships. You have your best friends you talk to every day, and you also have that person you just took that one class with and now don’t talk to anymore. You have some work friends who only know your professional side, and you have some childhood friends who only know your stupid side. And it’s scary to merge all of those people and perceptions into one platform like that.

It’s intimidating to share and take something that you have created and put it in front of your world to scrutinize. I used to fear judgement immensely. And suddenly, because of relationships come and gone, successes and failures, maybe even a bit of maturity…I don’t as much any more.

(Okay, maybe a little.)

But to me when I see someone being vulnerable, putting themselves out there — even if it’s a bit of self-promotion, if it’s creatively through writing or photography or something else, if it’s just to let people know what they’re up to — I respect that hustle.

I’ve come to this conclusion that sharing more, creating more, publishing more is good for the soul. Never mind how people might criticize you, might think you’re a bit narcissistic, might think you’re unoriginal. For the types of people like that who may encounter your creations, you’re likely to encounter someone who is appreciative of your vulnerability, perhaps even inspired.

That’s such a powerful thing.

I’m vowing to do more of all of the above. I want to materialize the thoughts in my head. I want to act on all of the inspiration around me. I don’t want to continue having ideas that are gone unattempted or unfinished.

On Inspiration and Artistry.

For the past few months, since I moved to San Francisco, (whether intentionally or not) I’ve been enveloping myself in an environment where I am constantly inspired.

I’ll start with the people around me. My friends — you all— are amazing. I’m consistently leaving conversations feeling challenged and that unlocks something within me. Some of my friends are doing some freaking amazing things, and through witnessing all of us go through life and unwind what’s in store, I feel unyielding motivation to want to be better and do better.

Since kindergarten, my parents stressed how important it was to surround myself with the right people. I think I actually got it right. Thank you.

Then, artists. I’ve taken a fascination to modern art and the true artists that surround us. Recently, two inspiring ones come to mind: Frank Ocean and Ai Wei Wei.

A review of Frank Ocean’s Blonde album that I read cited the work as one that is very personal to Frank (er Chris…whatever), but is written in such a way that makes you reflect about your own experiences. It’s like he’s letting down his walls while simultaneously holding up a mirror for you. It’s less so a pop album, but more a work of art within itself. His only focus is on his artistry. He doesn’t care about business or fame — he didn’t even submit Blonde for Grammy consideration. He’s just pulling what’s out of his mind to share for others. I love that.

Ai Wei Wei is a Chinese artist turned activist. I recently began watching a documentary and bought a book about him. Even against China’s restricting policies, his goal is to free people from the mold China tries to force onto people. He lives his life humbly and selflessly. He holds a strong sense of conviction to do what he thinks is right regardless of the competing circumstances. Willing to go to prison, fight against the large entity that is the government, reinvent his interpretations of life in different ways. That unwavering dedication is so admirable.

On career.

I’ve been feeling antsy to know what’s going to happen. I have an idea of who I want to become in “X” years, but the path and timing is always uncertain — no surprise there. What makes me nervous is when I think about time as a number. My best friend from high school, Brian, likes to do this exercise where he takes the total number of hours within a given time frame (let’s say a week). He’ll cut out sleeping time, eating time, bathing time, whatever time, and you’re left with a number that feels quite small. A number that will make you think wow, I only have X hours???

Yeah, we only have X hours.

What am I going to do with my hours? How can I continue to make myself better? Happier? I’m still deciding that one.