Living Life

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.

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?



Living Life, Scribbles

Night thoughts.

At the end of the day,You are the one left with yourself. You will see yourself, face to face.

Are you right with yourself? When all is said and done, when you put down all your armor, all your masks, all the roles you perform, Are you?

Are you right with yourself? With all the decisions you have or haven't made? Do you fall asleep with guilt and remorse? Or do you sleep with no regrets, with humble graciousness for all the goods and bads that Life has to offer?

When you are left by your self, Are you RIGHT with your Self?

Living Life, Readings

The Self and Isolation

Some more quotes from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.

Siddhartha reflected deeply as he went on his way. He realized that he was no longer a youth; he was now a man. He realized that something had left him, like the old skin that a snake sheds. Something was no longer in him, something that had accompanied him right through his youth and was part of him; this was the desire to have teachers and to listen to their teachings....

Slowly the thinker went on his way and asked himself: What is it you wanted to learn from teachings and teachers, and although they taught you much, what was it they could not teach you? And he thought: It was the Self, the character and nature of which I wished to learn. I wanted to rid myself of the Self, to conquer it, but I could not conquer it, I could only deceive it, could only fly from it, could only hide from it. Truly, nothing in the world has occupied my thoughts as much as the Self, this riddle, that I live, that I am one and am separated and different from everybody else, that I am Siddhartha; and about nothing in the world do I know less than about myself, about Siddhartha....

The reason why I do not know anything about myself, the reason why Siddhartha has remained alien and unknown to myself is due to one thing, to one single thing — I was afraid of myself, I was fleeing from myself....

I will learn from myself, be my own pupil; I will learn from myself the secret of Siddhartha.


Then suddenly this also was clear to him: he, who was in fact like one who had awakened or was newly born, must begin his life completely afresh....

He shivered inwardly like a small animal, like a bird or a hare, when he realized how alone he was... He was no nobleman, belonging to any aristocracy, no artisan belonging to any guild and finding refuge in it, sharing its life and language... Even the most secluded hermit in the woods was not one and alone; he also belonged to a class of people. Govinda had become a monk and thousands of monks were his brothers, wore the same gown, shared his beliefs and spoke his language. But he, Siddhartha, where did he belong? Whose life would he share? Whose language would he speak?

At that moment, when he world around him melted away, when he stood alone like a star in the heavens, he was overwhelmed by  a feeling of icy despair, but he was more firmly himself than ever. That was the last shudder of his awakening, the last pains of birth. Immediately he moved on again and began to walk quickly and impatiently, no longer homewards, no longer to his father, no longer looking backwards.

Living Life

A Greater Capacity for Feeling the Whole Gamut; Where Empathy Comes From.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”  ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross  

Thank you, Misono.