I've spent most of 2020 just processing, surviving, unlearning, learning, and trying to keep up with wtf is going on. With so much happening, I didn't want to add to the noise. But, I've come to terms that shit will probably always be blowing up and I miss being in conversation with y'all. So I'm back to my monthly schedule. I don't have a nicely packaged reflection of 2020 because I think I'm still processing it. Instead, I flipped through my iPhone, Notion, and journal (yes I use all three and it is a lot) and pulled out unedited reflections/bullet points that resonated with me (and maybe with you too?).
“I just feel myself slipping into a general haze of exhaustion, apathy, anger, and confusion.”
“We don’t want other peoples lives, we want to find our own place. Better to practice your own path imperfectly than someone else’s perfectly - that’s why we feel dissatisfied when we get to the top of some role”
This iPhone note was taken at the airport flying out of NZ back to the U.S. “Feeling paranoid being surrounded by so many people in public. People are coughing everywhere. Trying to stay chill. Trying to remember the last advice Merv gave me “You must see the next 48 hours as an adventure. You can’t sit there worrying about every what if. People watch. Watch people scramble as you stay calm.” If you believe it’ll be ok, it usually will be.”
“After taking a long break from being productive and creating, my friend asked me, what is your identity outside of creating? I was scared to answer this question. I myself questioned that while I was “doing nothing”. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in social validation if the base of why you create comes from insecurity. It becomes this monstrous machine you need to keep feeding to keep pleasing other people. Accepting that being a creative person is just one part of my identity gives me room to build a healthy relationship with it. Not creating will not end my world. My identity is multifaceted. I do not exist just to produce for society. Even when I don’t create I am alive.”
“Cling to a false sense of control that doesn't exist”
“People give up not because they’re not creative but because of their inability to deal with their feelings around disappointment etc.”
“Love is to see and to be seen.” if I had to put it simply as possible. I am lucky in that I’ve felt love, many moments in my life by many people, some in passing and some since many years. Sometimes I feel lost, hopeless, drowning in the pain of our world. The US. HK. middle east. Pain is everywhere. I feel it. I feel art is useless. Not enough. And also. It’s all we have left. Hope. I broke my mediation streak today. I was so mad at my silly carelessness. I was so fucking determined to never break it cuz of L. But I realized I was leading my meditation sessions with ego and pride. As though I wanted to prove my worth...and to who?”
“Harm and hurt are different. Many things can hurt us. But is someone actually harming us? Truth is felt. Not in our head. I'm proud of myself for walking away, for feeling my truth, for trusting myself over another's harm. What I did was hurting him, but what he did harmed me. There is a difference. My first priority will always be to my safety and my truth. Once you have felt and known your truth. It is really hard to accept anything otherwise.”
“Allowing ourselves be our whole selves allows other people to be their full selves.”
“Friendship is everything.”
“In the grand scheme of things, I don't think I will make a huge impact on the world, but I think I can make a huge impact on the people in my life and even with each person I interact with. / The greatest gift I have to offer is my true presence. Giving someone my time, attention, curiosities, care. Showing up for someone in their time of need. Helping someone solve creative problems. / When I die, I hope the people I've met will have felt my compassion and care and I hope that the things I've created evoke conversations or spaces to just be.”
“I don’t feel like there is room for me to just be in this relationship dynamic. I don’t really feel seen and I don’t really feel like there is a space for me to be seen?”
I ended 2020 by journaling with these guided questions from YearCompass. If you're still in that reflective state, I highly recommend them as a free resource! Going into 2021, my words are daring and vision. I'll dive deeper into them in a future newsletter. In the meantime, do you have a word going into 2021? Also, it's been a minute, how's life going for you?
What I’ve been up to
I'm proud to say I got to work on these values-aligned collaborations:
#HATEISAVIRUS is a movement to combat racism and xenophobia against Asians fueled by COVID-19. My illustration was published here (another version here) along with 17 artists around the world. 100% net profit went back to supporting Asian-owned businesses and charities.
#VotingTogether with The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund and Culture Surge. I created this poster to get the vote out, which was inspired by how important family is within the AAPI community. I realized I could never fully represent the diversity within the AAPI community so I encouraged AAPI creators to illustrate their family and translate it for their community. This was my first time creating something in Chinese (traditional and simplified, thanks to my good friend Sole for the translations). Click here for more about the process.
My top 5/32 books from 2020
Three notes on gratitude
I'm thankful for the accessible, decolonized educational spaces I participated in: University for Justice and Liberation, Asian American Studies with Professor Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales at SF State, and Asian American Racialized Identity and Social Empowerment. Y’all, I never took any AsAm courses in undergrad so taking three programs this past year was truly eye-opening, if not somewhat overwhelming lol.
I'm thankful for all the new people I virtually connected with. 2020 altered my perception of what community, relationships, and virtual spaces could look and feel like. Strangers invited me into their bubbles and I invited strangers into mine. Yes, I am sick of Zoom, but also, I find it incredible to have made friends all over the country without leaving my dang room (an introvert's dream come true?!).
I’m thankful for all the snail mail from across the world! To anyone who sent me a delightful postcard or letter during quarantine, I love y’all. If you'd like to be penpals, hit me up.
What I listened to (on repeat)
The album Meditations by Cory Wong and Jon Batiste kept me sane in 2020. Whenever I felt overwhelmed with emotions, I listened to this until I felt ok. Because sometimes you just need to sit with heavy things and let them process.