Art, Design School

Student Leadership Award Speech

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During my graduating term at Art Center College of Design, I was awarded the Student Leadership Award. Thank you, students, faculty, and staff! Which... also means I had to give a speech at my graduation. OY! This was one of my proudest moments, but also sooo nerve-racking.

I evidently made a mistake and said I was 25 when I started Art Center. I was 28. -_-. Thank you, Ray Quirolgico, for the lovely intro. Miss you lots. :)

Art, Design School, Living Life

Re-emerging from a four year hermit hole

Hello, World! My, oh, my. Attending Art Center was no easy feat. Since I found out I got admitted to the college in early 2012, I made a conscious decision to cut out a lot of things in order to fully commit and focus on my intense new program.

A lot happened, and I ended up cutting out a lot of things I never anticipated to. I guess that's what happens when you go into a rigorous grad-esque program. But I'm grateful to say that I came out with a better idea of who I am, my intentions in life, and how I want to continue on with the rest of my life.

I know. Total esoteric shit.

I matured a lot in a short amount of time. And I became very familiar with my creative self and her process. You learn a lot about your raw self when you can only get four hours of sleep every night. ;)

As I was left the web design/development world in late 2011, a lot of things have naturally progressed in the web world. Not to mention all the new technologies that have emerged since then, too. I find myself behind in learning things like git, javascript, SVG, and oh wut ppl don't use Wordpress as much anymore? I am an absolute dinosaur now.

But!! I've picked up some amazing new skills along the way, I swear!

  • I'm frickin bomb at drawing and painting by hand now!
  • I frequently create sketchbooks and prints!
  • One of my pieces was published in Comic-con International's publication!
  • I've learned how to sell my artwork at conventions and shows!
  • I've been trained by top Disney art directors and artists, and I can whip out concept art pieces for entertainment!
  • My school awarded me the Student Leadership Award (they just wanted me to stop asking questions, get outta their hair, or something). More about this soon. :)
  • I managed to setup and showcase one of my pieces in virtual reality (VR) at my graduating show. (Second person from my school to ever do so, following the exceptional Ashley Pinnick; First person to do so with an HTC Vive!)

There's a lot to catch up on. And part of my un-hermit-ing will include documenting and sharing more about my process again.

Resources

Contact Form 7 + Bluehost + Google Apps

 When the webdev gods are especially tougher on you more than usual

When the webdev gods are especially tougher on you more than usual

In rebuilding my site, I ran into some issues with Contact Form 7 and not receiving test emails. It was one of those lovely moments at the end of my deving day when I thought to myself, "Ooh, I'll just finish up by testing the contact form so I can cross the 'Contact' Page off as 'done' — that will be an easy gimme."

Not. :(

Identifying the Problem

I've used Contact Form 7 for many years and never had issues. This time, I wasn't receiving several test emails. I've been out of the game for a while so I was thinking it might have been conflicting with the theme? Jetpack's contact form? funky variable issues with the form settings?

First step, I figured it was something wrong with the configuration of CF7. There are often server-side issues with the "FROM" address coming from outside/non-local email addresses, that is, your server may believe that a sender's @yahoo.com address is spam and will filter it out. Additional headers should be entered, etc. — instructions below. I tried tweaking several settings to no avail.

One of the things I did right off the bat was change the "FROM" values from [senders-email] to a real, existing email address I have for @estellatse.com. This way, my server will not flag visitors' emails as 'stranger danger.' (Contact Form 7 "Your message was sent successfully." but not receiving emails)

I kept refreshing my @estellatse.com Gmail, checked my spam folders, anywhere else the emails could have gotten lost. No avail after several tests, changing one CF7 variable per test. I was still successfully receiving emails sent manually, just not from CF7. Wtf.

Logging onto Bluehost cPanel, I check to see how the email account was configured and checked the webmail just in case. HA! FOUND YA!

 Gaiz. Where are we?  (LOST s02e23)

Gaiz. Where are we? (LOST s02e23)

Turns out my test emails were sending just fine (if CF7 says that the message was sent successfully, then it is indeed sending properly.) All 17 (lol) of my test emails were sitting in my webmail box. There was a problem with the hosting --> Gmail/Google apps portion.

I have my domain email setup with Google apps, which involves how my webmail uses Gmail MX Entry configurations.

Because I set the "FROM" to my own @estellatse.com email, the server believed that it is sending an email to itself and the webmail will then send the mail locally. That's the reason my test emails were stuck in the webmailbox (Can't receive mail from a web form). I had to configure it so that my email would process these emails remotely rather than locally.

How to Fix Contact Form 7 --> Bluehost --> Google Apps

This is how I configured the Contact Form 7 settings:

 contact form 7 settings

contact form 7 settings

Then, on the cPanel/Bluehost end:

  • Go to cPanel
  • Click on MX Entry
  • Select your domain
  • Go down to MX Mail Exchanger
  • Select Remote Mail Exchanger

After I did this, I was able to successfully receive my test messages in my Gmail/Google apps inbox. w00t! (They no longer appeared in my webmailbox because they were successfully sent out! No more stuckness, yay!)

These articles were extremely helpful for problem-solving this issue:

Health, Living Life, Readings, Relationships

Understanding the Self-Critic

This last year, I've been diving in full-throttle in identity work and self betterment. This investigation has required a tremendous amount of deconstruction, reconstruction, and a deep sense of self awareness. Here are some findings. So, I'm a Tiger Daughter. I was raised with a perfectionist Tiger Mom who expected a lot of her kids, who really wanted us to take on a lot and be tough asses. And we did. Well, at least my brothers were fantastic at the hard sciences. I wasn't. I was good at.... err... drawing, and... watching people.

Anyway, my mom doesn't reign over my life anymore (that's a completely different story), but there's this internal voice that is represented as mom's voice within my head. For most of my decisions, it's a matter of "Does she approve? Does she not? Will I make her proud? Will I be accepted? Will I be criticized for this?" Growing up in my parents' house, this used to actually be her, and she was the cause of all the anxiety in every decision I made. I'm not anywhere near nor close emotionally to my mom right now by choice, but I still have those thoughts in my head in all my big decisions.

When I make mistakes, it's brutal. Rather, I'm brutal. I'm relentless, unforgiving, viciously toxic to myself. To the point where I've lived most of my life feeling like I'm broken: I don't fit in, I'm not good enough to be with that person, I can't do what normal people do, I'm inadequate in every way. We're all critical about ourselves, but I think there's a different class of self-criticism and ingrained anxiety for those raised by Tiger Moms.

-----------------------

Along this journey, I've been actively trying to undo the damage my self-critic demons have caused. I've been reading a book called Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff. Here are some of the things I've been learning:

  • To make ourselves feel better about our selves, we tend to think we're better than others in some aspects. These "self-enhancing" traits are dependent on the values of the culture. For example, "Whereas Americans tend to think they're more independent, self-reliant, original, and leader-like than the average American, Asians tend to think they're more cooperative, self-sacrificing, respectful, and humble than their peers" (Neff, 20).This relates to our tendency not only to view ourselves as better and more superior than others (for human being, animal, instinctual social reasons), but we view others as worse. We do this so that we won't be ousted or cast out by our social groups, so that we can exist somewhere in the hierarchy — we are social animals, after all.  "When we are always seeing the worst in others, our perception becomes obscured by a dark cloud of negativity. Our thoughts become malevolent, and this is the mental world we then inhabit... By putting others down to puff ourselves up, we are cutting off our nose to spite our face, creating and maintaining the state of disconnection and isolation we actually want to avoid" (Neff, 21).
  • Self-criticism is a kind of safety behavior to make sure we can still be accepted by the larger social group. It's a kind of submissive behavior. Like, "I know I messed up. I'm gonna beat you to it -- you don't need to tell me cuz I already know. Don't criticize me or judge me, please, cuz I already know. Sympathize for me, please, and let me know I'm not as fucked up as I think I am." Neff notes that this "stems from the natural desire not to be rejected and abandoned" (24). It makes me think about those of us who have core themes of rejection and abandonment. Are we waayyy more self critical?
  • On critical parents and worthiness: "People with critical parents learn the message early on that they are so bad and flawed that they have no right to be accepted for who they are." They are often both the good cop and bad cop: rewarder and punisher. "This leads to fear and distrust among children, who soon come to believe that only by being perfect will they be worthy of love."Perfectionism becomes something to strive for because it then takes away any reason for people to criticize the child. "Self-criticism will prevent them from making future mistakes, thereby circumventing others' criticism. At the very least, they can blunt the force of others' criticism by making it redundant. A verbal assault doesn't have quite the same power when it merely repeats what you've already said to yourself" (25-26).
  • It's also related to control. If we are blamed for our mistakes, then that means we are solely responsible for our failures, regardless of external factors and internal responses. This is unfair to ourselves because we don't always have control.
  •  On dating and attraction: we look for relationships that validate who we believe we are ("self-verification theory"). "They want their self-views to be validated because it helps to provide a sense of stability in their lives... Even people who make strong negative evaluations of themselves follow this pattern They seek to interact with others who dislike them, so that their experiences will be more familiar and coherent.""Self-critics are often attracted to judgmental romantic partners who confirm their feelings of worthlessness. The certainty of rejection feels safer than not knowing what to expect next" (30-31).

This part is so fucked up. And I've done this. Lead myself into a situation where I know it's absolutely detrimental to my well-being because I didn't value myself. It's like finding validation like, "YUP. Rejected. I knew I'm not good enough." It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Choosing to be around people that are toxic as a form of punishing myself for my faults and as proof that they'll eventually reject me, further proving that I'm not good enough. It becomes a kind of setting up for self-deprecation. When I was feeling at my lowest of lows, it was hard to accept that someone valued me greatly and wanted me — I actually couldn't bear to be around them. I chose to be around others that made me feel inadequate, insecure, judgmental in order to punish myself and reinforce how broken I was.

How often do we put ourselves in these situations in order to recreate and perpetuate our self-critic's core beliefs?