I Thought This Only Happens To Old People…

Annie Liu
Annie Liu
Feb 22, 2016 · 5 min read
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Navigating life through story, here’s a snippet of mine: post grad. #therealworld

I’m a storyteller and in truth, so is everyone else. So call me Liusir, (pronounced loser) an artist, designer, and illustrator, whom apparently is self deprecating. Granted uttering that homophone to someone, much less calling me that is downright uncomfortable. Sure it holds negative connotations, but here I am trying to own it.

By calling myself liusir, I hoped to be David, of course in the context of Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath,”- for anyone who hasn’t read it- in brevity, this notion that all is not what it appears to be, touching upon “stereotype tax”-the price one pays for preconceived notions. In the case of David and Goliath, David is clearly capable of taking on Goliath with his skills, opponents though, doubt it because all they see is his size.

I was fine being perceived as a loser, because it was my way of narrating a story in which I had to lose in order to win. Feeling like a loser though is a different story, and at this moment this label is #tooreal.

I’m talking about post-grad, and everything that comes along with this new chapter. To be quite frank-it kind of sucks

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Like when I say kind of, I mean really really really sucks.

Sure, I can say that I was that kid that landed an awesome internship right after graduation AND turned it into a job- literally the closest epitome of a dream job! #YASSS

BUT I can also say shortly after I was laid off, due to the insufficient amount of work that needed to be done on the team. This translates into a need to look out for the overall health of the agency, and since I obviously had no tenure, if you were to cut anyone, cut me. In short, rejection occurs for 2 main reasons: not a good fit, bad timing or even both. In my case, timing was bad, and I was no longer needed.

In response to being laid off, one friend said,

“I thought that only happened to old people.”

which made me think, “yeah, that’s like so totes 2007.”

Regardless of whom it happens to or when it happens, it’s never pleasant unless you wanted out. Emotionally, it’s a break up- “Is this a mistake or a joke?” then came the emotional rumble. I questioned whether or not I was good enough, well over a million times. Though I knew and was reassured that it wasn’t me or the quality of my work, shame and inadequacy of course, rode closely aside.

In “40 days of Dating,” Jessica Walsh mentions this notion that career and relationships mirror each other. Though there is no solid basis for this other than experience, I totally believe this! It’s funny and I say this out of sheer confusion, because there is a parallel that occurs with this event and another. I’ll be super cryptic about it, as it involves a letter, feelings… and a wrestle and exploration of questions, emotions, and yoloing (you only live once) From this, stems the project Letters of Feels, unconventional love letters expressed in .gifs- anyways that’s a whole other story that I won’t get into. Just know there are some patterns with the way I felt between the two-and it all connects.

So now what, or rather, what now? Now what? What now?

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The question of a lifetime.

Well for the next couple of days, I was just hurt, empty, lost, and grieving- New York IS NOT the place to be when you are in that mental state. Everyone moves with a sense of urgency, and purpose and there I was suspended in a state of limbo. And I’m still in a state of limbo- stuck, but time has definitely helped alleviate the initial reactions, and I’m reminded of an unshakeable quote my then-manager said to me on the very first day. As a response to sharing my feelings of being scared, nervous, and unready about being out there in the “real” world, she responded with:

“You’re exactly where you are suppose to be in this very moment.”

The crazy thing is, I wholeheartedly trust that. Despite how awful and scary the “real” world can feel…I can’t help but to still feel so hopeful-granted sometimes less than others. And maybe it’s ingrained into our hard drive- to be resilient, and to have an optimism bias. Whatever the case, the lessons that stem from these experiences are all vital and instrumental in shaping who we are.

In the article “Through the Glass Darkly,” by Barbara Platek, she interviews Miriam Greenspan, a psychotherapist who refers to our culture as being “emotion phobic,” this fear of feeling our own emotions. As a culture we believe that we aren’t suppose to have dark times, we are fed endings of what should be. Thus labeling those dark times as being negative, bad, and unworthy. In doing so we tend to keep private, disconnect and hide. And in this way, I don’t want to be “emotion phobic,” because though counterintuitive, the only way to grow and to live a life that is true to yourself, is to dive into what it is you are feeling, and to get curious as to why. In doing so, you become more you and allow others to do the same. Courage to be the most genuine you, is indeed contagious, and freeing. (Tidbits I learned off of Brene Brown’s book “Rising Strong”-highly recommended #icanteven #ughsogood )

So don’t call me Liusir, because it’s no longer a story about me versus the world- instead call me Liucid. It’s me striving for clarity, and what underlies that is the ability to connect. I’m changing my story, and in doing so I’m acknowledging that stories stick- whether we are consciously aware of it or not- they define, characterized, and shape our beliefs, which in turn shapes how we feel, how we act and even how others will interact with us.

I mean if you think about individual letters they may mean close to nothing, but string those together to make a word then a sentence to form a story, and BOOM magic. Meanings blossom, lucidity conceived, and that to me, that’s awe-inspiring…so write your story accordingly, because not only does it affect you, but others as well.

To end, I can’t say what will happen, or that everything will be okay, but whatever does, I know that you have the ability to write and change the narrative you tell yourself.

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