05 / (dis)trust

After some internal debate, I decided to put my creative baby Take Up Space on infinite hold. My focus is not on a project's permanence, but instead on its ability to emotionally move someone. The overall impact exceeded my wildest expectations, and I'm forever grateful for the lessons I learned along the way. With the project coming to an end, I asked myself, "What does take up space mean for me?"

Last week, I felt overwhelmed by a sudden damp, depressing sadness (only now I realize, it might've been from eating gluten). I missed my therapist. I doubted my ability to pull myself out of it. I felt emotionally apathetic and mentally foggy. I panicked. After building my meditation practice for the last three months, I instinctually meditated for ten minutes. At the moment, there was no profound, enlightening clarity, but I allowed the sadness to swallow me. Then with some time and sleep, the sadness passed.

The sadness is something I spent most of my life dodging, even when I understood the only way out is through. Last week on the subway (where I do most of my self-reflecting), I realized that sometimes, all the sadness needs is acknowledgment. When it appears, it's always shouting, "Look at me! I exist! I matter!” After all these years, more than feeling ashamed of it, I'm still terrified of it. One of my greatest fears is letting the sadness consume me and not being able to move beyond the hopeless pit of apathetic desperation. It's irrational, but also very real because I've been there. Currently, I'm not there and have not been there for a while, but it takes intentional, mental effort to not be there.

Speaking about the sadness demystifies it. From afar its amorphous shadow seems like an all-consuming demon, but in reality, it's just a misunderstood, wounded animal. It doesn't need me to fix, solve, or pity it. All it wants is to be seen and heard. By allowing the sadness to momentarily take up space, I am practicing self-compassion.

But I don't trust myself to let it in.

My tunnel vision has been on learning how to trust other people, but I overlooked the significance of learning how to trust myself. This distrust for myself manifests into other aspects of my life: my inability to say no, my need for approval, my disconnection from my body. It creeps into my creative process, friendships, physical health, dating, etc.

As I reached my subway stop, it hit me: am I the sadness?

All I want is for someone to witness my life.
All I want is to show compassion for myself.
All I want is to take up space with my voice.

If I learn to patiently listen to the sadness and meet it with empathy, I can learn to do the same for myself. I don't want to quiet the intensity in which I feel because that is where I channel my most valuable power. For me, taking up space means trusting myself.

What does taking up space mean for you?


Recently, I self-published my first art books. Woohoo! There is nothing I love more than getting nerdy and technical about typography in InDesign so these were a joy to create. Also, this is a beautiful way to honor these special projects. Right now, I order them in small batches so if you're interested in the next batch, respond to this email.

  1. Take Up Space: Who is Your Shero?
    7x7in, 68 pages, softcover, $35

  2. Take Up Space: Defying Dualities
    7x7in, 72 pages, softcover, $35

  3. A Better Conversation with Myself
    8x10in, 32 pages, hardcover with sleeve, $60

Each book is personally signed by me and is printed on ProLine Uncoated Paper. This fancy archival-quality paper with an eggshell-textured is manufactured by Mohawk Fine Papers. Shipping is not included in the pricing.

Three notes on gratitude

  1. I'm thankful for my incredible friends who helped me celebrate my birthday last month. Y'all make me feel loved and accepted. What more could I ask for?!

  2. I'm thankful for these works of art that recently moved me deeply: Hilma af Klint, Strawberry Swing by Frank Ocean, Hannah Gadsby: Nanette, and The Soundtrack of America.

  3. I'm thankful for the unexpected support I received from everyone when I released my previous newsletter. I appreciated the personal stories and resources people shared with me about their journey with therapy. Your words touched me, so thank YOU for making me feel less alone.

A curated playlist for you

05 / (dis)trust by bng

Every month I'll include a playlist for you to enjoy. I hope it makes your commute slightly less terrible.