insecurities

Hello! 

Although the title of this post sounds really solemn, that isn’t my intention at all. 

I was just reflecting about how I’ve come such a long way over the past few years in terms of my self-esteem and confidence. I find it such a pity that so many beautiful people in the world feel so insecure about themselves, just because they have or don’t have certain body parts/skills/other things that society tells us that we “need” to have in order to be “pretty” or “accepted”. 

I think one thing that really affects the way we see ourselves is really social media/the media in general. For me, a lot of my self-image issues stemmed from instagram and how a lot of users chose to present themselves. 

There’s really nothing wrong with wanting to look your best or anything like that, because you are beautiful/good-looking/handsome/cute/all-round amazing and we all should learn to celebrate that fact about ourselves more! It’s just that one problem with such social media is that we often don’t remember that we’re literally only seeing what others want us to see. 

We’re not seeing how these people normally look in their daily life- we’re seeing them from behind filters, makeup, really good lighting, specific angles, and all of that stuff. I think a lot of us don’t remember that and we look at the photo and think, “I’ll never be as perfect as he/she is”. That’s true. Often, it’s really impossible to achieve that flawless look in real life, because the people in the pictures themselves don’t even look like the people in the pictures! That’s why I really love the #5secondtransformation hashtag on instagram, where users show side-by-side comparisons of what they normally look like and how they look like when they pose for instagram/other social media sites.

Kudos to all these women! There were men as well, but sadly theirs were mostly videos and I couldn’t exactly screenshot the videos.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with posting pictures of yourself that you feel look good and show yourself in the best light. If I take a good selfie, I’m sure as heck posting it because hey, everyone loves to feel good about themselves! 

Just remember that the pictures we see online should not be the standard we set for our own appearances, because we are all already beautiful in our own way, both with and without that filter, with and without that editing, with and without that perfect angle. 

I thought it would be a nice idea to do a sort of “body-positive” post where I posted some things that society would say should make me insecure about myself, but with which I am slowly learning to accept and love as part of my ongoing growth! Hopefully this can also help others realise that:

  1. They aren’t the only ones struggling with these self-esteem issues.
  2. They can still feel confident and beautiful, even with these so-called “flaws”.  

Soo… let’s get started!

So, as you can tell from the above picture, I have nowhere near perfect skin. And yes, neither do I have very bad acne, but my skin has still been a constant source of worry and anxiety to me for a really long time. Recently, it really started to clear up. However, I just kind of kept finding more and more things to find fault with. I no longer have really bad pimples/large whiteheads on my face, but it’s very rough and has big pores and a lot of blackheads, as well as being really oily. Then I realised- even though my skin was really much better, I was so down about it I could only see the negative points in it, preventing me from allowing myself to feel pretty/as happy as I could have been. If you don’t learn to love yourself as a person first, no matter how much your physical appearance improves you’re always going to find something negative about it to pull down your self-esteem. So don’t fret if you don’t always look like you have baby-soft skin- just try and accept that most humans on the planet never have and never will have it, and that’s the plain truth.

Hairy legs. It’s a forest down there. I’ve never shaved nor do I plan to (so much work), and honestly most people… do not seem to care. Other than myself.

Scars, cuts, bruises. We all have them. This is one that has been on my thumb for really long (I am a competitive sprint kayaker and I tend to get these abrasions) and I get teased about it sometimes. My friends like to laugh at me about how my hypothetical boyfriend won’t want to hold my hand (I have the same type of scars on my palms and fingers as well). This isn’t something that’s a really big issue for me, although I know it can be big for some so I thought I would share.

I kind of see scars as permanent reminders of things that I’ve been through, rather than unwelcome additions to my body. Every time I see the one on my thumb I think, “wow, look at how resilient I am to train so much to the point where I have that thing on my finger.” When I see the scars all over my legs, it reminds me of the camp I went to when I was fifteen and how I spent five days with my schoolmates literally in the tropical jungles- and survived. I guess you could say I see them as a “badge of honour” in a way? 

My skin colour. I’m extremely tan, and I come from a pretty pale family on the female side. Plus, my culture tends to see “fair” the “ideal” female skin colouring. That’s my sister through and through. She has skin like a porcelain doll. This was not really a problem for me until I started comparing myself to her and realised how incredibly dark I was- which honestly is really stupid because I am a kayaker. I spend literally three hours in the sun twice a week, with four and a half hours on Saturday. I’m gonna be tan. 

Let’s end off with this:

1) Things I’m insecure about and how they make me feel:

  • Skin – imperfect, ugly
  • Scars – gross
  • Skin colour – “undesirable”
  • Hairy legs – “non-feminine”, lazy

2) Things other people have told me that they like about me:

  • I’m a nice person.
  • They care about me.
  • I’m fun to be around.

3) Things I value in other people:

  • Whether or not they’re nice.
  • When they’re kind.
  • When they’re patient.

4) Amount physical appearance seems to matter to me and to other people:

  • Apparently, not at all.

Final message: we’re all beautiful people, and our outside appearance can’t change that. Outward appearances are just embellishments to who we are as a a person.

So yeah! Those are the things I’m a little insecure about. Hopefully I helped someone feel less alone/better about themselves, and if anyone’s up for doing this as well please let me know! I’d love to read it.

birthday date with myself

I turned eighteen on the 27th. Didn’t do much on the day, but was surprised with a wonderful party by my friends at my house which was so touching. 

Today, though, I decided to take myself on a little date and kinda just enjoy my own company for a bit. Also I wanted to get out of the house because I could slowly feel my skin grafting onto my bedsheets.

So my mum kindly drove me to this place in town with one of my favourite bookstores, Kinokuniya, armed with my Kanken bag and $100 in angpow money kindly given to me by my grandmother.

It was in a really upscale part of the city, and I didn’t really realise how underdressed I was until I stepped through the doors in slippers, a school shirt and shorts. 

I was a rubber slipper girl in a Louboutin world.

I decided to ignore this and headed straight to the bookstore and spent a solid two hours there, just reading and enjoying the books and the atmosphere in general.
Of course, I spent most of my $100 getting some books.

3/5 of them are by authors whose books I’ve never read before (with the exception of Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe), so quite happy with my little “haul”.

I’ll do a little run-through of the books now.

One of my favourite authors!

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers- I mean, she’s up there with Dickens for me. In my opinion, she was a female writer ahead of her time- in a period of history where her sister authors were writing what were deprecatingly referred to as “novels”- a word that had very negative connotations because it referred to books that were considered “flighty” (basically, probably every romance novel today) and unworthy of being read by those who knew better, she wrote realistic and believable prose that managed to both separate itself from the over-romanticised and dramaticised love stories that saturated the market (think: The Monk) through its matter-of-fact portrayals of love and romance, while simultaneously supporting the rising genre of the “novel” which was not held in high esteem by the highly-educated and stiff-upper-lipped in English society. This is especially apparent in Northanger Abbey, which I am not ashamed to say I have read over twenty times.

Edgar Allen Poe, Tales of Horror

I believe there was another anthology of his called Tales of Something Else but I really can’t remember the name at the moment. It’s basically a collection of Poe’s short stories. I read some in comic version years ago in the children’s section of my library and I loved it, so I decided I would give it a try again in straight prose. 

I’m someone who isn’t too fond of change, so I re-read the same books over and over again until they are literally in tatters. I just find it comforting to have the familiar plot play out, in the words that I’ve long memorised. Gives me a sense of security, I suppose, because in that few hours of reading I am absolutely sure of the future.

W. Somerset Maugham, The Merry-Go-Round

No idea who Maugham is, read the blurb, read the first paragraph, and decided I rather liked it and it was coming home with me. 

N.B.: I was looking it up and I nearly got a heart attack when I read a review of the exact edition that I have which says that it’s not complete and the actual book is 400 pages long. Did I just get an abridged version? Quelle horreur! 

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

It sounded like a very interesting premise, with a highly intelligent child and the murder of a dog involved. Although I am and can relate to neither of those elements in the novel, I found them very interesting and unique while still being realistic. I’m not usually one for high-fantasy or Sci-Fi or things like that, I like books that are based on and in real life on earth. Just personal preference, but I’m really trying to get into more fantasy novels lately like Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire series. Plus I really liked Ready Player One which Booktube recommended to me. So I’m making progress! 

Anthony Mara, The Tsar of Love and Techno

I’m actually super interested in both Russian culture and history so if I see the word “Tsar” on the cover of a book I’m definitely going to check it out.

Now, after enjoying one of my favourite meals (Vegetarian Aglio Olio from this pasta place called Once Upon a Thyme, $6), I read a bit of Mansfield Park and am now studying.

Some might call it a boring way to spend an eighteenth, but I’ve never been one for huge birthday bashes. I do appreciate them, but mostly for the time I get to hang out with friends. Personally, the idea of having a “Sweet Sixteenth” or a really crazy, alcohol-filled “legal” birthday celebration isn’t very necessary, if you’re having one just because the movies and pop culture told you to and not because you genuinely want to. But if you want to go ahead and make your birthday special, by all means! It’s just not really for me. Everyone has their own ways of celebrating. 

Also, as I type, the sun is shining like crazy outside but it’s also raining. The person who came up with the idea to dub dark, cloudy, gloomy days “bad weather” has obviously never been in a sunshine-y thunderstorm, because those are the worst. In a normal thunderstorm you’re at least able to snuggle in your blanket and drink hot chocolate and be all poetic about the weather. But there’s nothing poetic about a sunshine-y thunderstorm. It’s just hot and wet and you can feel the humidity on your skin- the most accurate description I can come up of what being in a sunshine-y thunderstorm is like is, that it’s kinda like being doused by a bucket of lukewarm water while stepping into equally lukewarm puddles while wearing dry socks. Plus you’re inhaling steam with every breath. And you’re sweaty.

Basically, it really, really sucks. 

Overall, though, it’s been an amazing day. I’m home now and I feel really happy and satisfied with what I did, and even if other people may not have chosen to spend their birthday/money on the same things that’s fine because spending some time alone made my birthday special to me

I guess something I wanna say in this post is, don’t be afraid to hang out with yourself once in a while. If you don’t feel like you need to have an extravagant birthday party every year, if you don’t feel like you have to go out with 90278298 friends every time you leave the house, don’t do it just because it’s the “socially acceptable” thing to do.

And yes, there is a sort of- well, I won’t say stigma, but it’s more of an unwritten societal rule that it’s weird to hang out by yourself. It’s weird to walk into a restaurant and get a table and a fancy dinner for one. Passer-bys unconsciously give people who are sitting alone pitying looks. I felt weird the first time I decided to walk into a restaurant and get a table for one as well, but after a while I realised: if I’m so dependent on other people to have fun and be happy, can I really call myself a confident person? 

Part of learning to love yourself is learning to be alone. Sure, some thrive on company and friends and I, being a more extroverted person, certainly do. I just think that we should be able to say, “I love my friends and am blessed and thankful to have them, but I don’t need the presence of others to find myself interesting, smart, clever, or to feel appreciated or wanted, because I as a person am inherently all of those things.”

So yeah! Some thoughts on my birthday date with myself. I hope this kind of inspires someone to take themselves out as well! Let me know if you do end up trying it 🌸

being real

You’ll notice this post has no time stamp on it. I feel like I included the time stamp because I was so concerned about maintaining a uniform aesthetic throughout my posts that I decided to put it in, just so that my blog would seem less jumbled up with different titles and whatnot. Insane logic, but there you go.

Anyway, I kinda wanted to try writing “real” posts. I’m not the best at opening up/doing self-reflection, much less sharing it with others, and I’ve realised that I really prefer to stay on safe ground when it comes to posting by doing things like describing my day or writing a more informative post (e.g. this post) rather than actually sharing things about my life and myself that go beyond a very superficial level.

So yeah. Here’s my update; hopefully this whole thing works? Can’t say for sure, but will try.

2317 // cny wishes

This is called 魚生 (or Yusheng in English), and my family comes together every year to toss it, eat and catch up in general. Every ingredient has a meaning, and as each ingredient is added, “blessings” (I use quotation marks because this have very little to do with religion and more with tradition and superstition) are spoken over the dish. It’s meant to promote good fortune until the next New Year comes.

Since Chinese New Year (or CNY) is just around the corner, I thought I would share some 魚生 or Yusheng good wishes for all of you.

Main Ingredients

1) 恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Cai)

Said as a common CNY greeting, it literally means “congratulations on your wealth”.

2) 万事如意 (Wan Shi Ru Yi)

“May all your wishes be fulfilled”. Chinese is a very poetic language, so literally, it could ve rendered “may the ten thousand things you want be as you wish”.

3) 年年有余 (Nian Nian You Yu)

The fish is a crucial ingredient of the dish (the word “魚” (Yu) in Yusheng means fish, and it’s homonymous to the word 余 (Yu) meaning something like “plenty” or, as it is usually rendered, “abundance”. Therefore, the fish symbolises having yu (abundance). So, the phrase means something like “abundance through the year”. There are many popular Chinese illustrations depicting this phrase, again using fish to symbolise fortune.

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Take, for example, this incredibly gaudy scroll.

4) 大吉大利 (Da Ji Da Li)

Usually, when I have Yusheng, we add lime as the next ingredient. I think you can also add pomelo (a kind of fruit) but either way this ingredient adds luck to the dish. By saying this phrase, you’re wishing everyone “good luck and smooth sailing”.

5) 招财进宝 (Zhao Cai Jin Bao)

Pepper is next, and it kind of symbolises that you want to add or invite more money/wealth (财) and treasures (宝) into your life. The meaning of this phrase is “may you attract wealth and treasures”.

6) 一本万利 (Yi Ben Wan Li), 财源广进 (Cai Yuan Guang Jin)

Sometimes the way the ingredient is added can lend additional meaning to the Yusheng. Oil is poured onto the dish next in a circle, and this is supposed to encourage money to flow in from all directions. You say two phrases for this, 一本万利 (Yi Ben Wan Li – “make 10,000 times the profit with your capital”) and 财源广进 (Cai Yuan Guang Jin – “numerous sources of wealth”).

7) 鸿运当头 (Hong Yun Dang Tou)

“Good luck is approaching”. Carrots are added for this phrase because the first word for “carrot” in Chinese (红) sounds like 鸿. Also, 红 has the additional meaning of “red” which is a lucky colour during CNY.

8) 青春常驻 (Qing Chun Chang Zhu)

Shredded green radish is added, symbolising eternal youth. It means “forever young”. Green radish is used as the first character (青) is the Chinese character used in 青春 which means “youthful”, or literally “green spring”.

9) 风生水起 (Feng Sheng Shui Qi), 步步高升 (Bu Bu Gao Sheng)

Shredded white radish is added. This is supposed to promote prosperity in business and promotion at work, as it is coupled with the phrases 风生水起 (Feng Sheng Shui Qi – “progress at a fast pace”) and 步步高升 (Bu Bu Gao Sheng – “reaching a higher level with each step”)

Condiments

10) 金银满屋 Jin Yin Man Wu

Peanut crumbs are dusted on the dish, symbolizing a household filled with gold and silver. The phrase means “may your household be filled with gold and silver”.

11) 生意兴隆 (Sheng Yi Xing Long)

This means “may your business prosper”. Sesame seeds are used to accompany this good wish.

12) 甜甜蜜蜜 (Tian Tian Mi Mi)

This literally means “very, very sweet” but in the context of Yusheng it has the meaning “may your life always be sweet”. Yusheng sauce, usually plum sauce, is generously drizzled over everything to symbolise this.

13) 满地黄金 (Man Di Huang Jin)

Literally, “may the floor be filled with gold”. The ingredient added is this shrimp cracker thing in the shape of golden pillows which is the only part of the Yusheng that my picky younger cousins eat.

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I know that there are a lot of references to wealth and material posessions, which might sit oddly with my Western readers. I understand, because I feel like Western societies aren’t used to having so much emphasis placed on material well-being rather than familial togetherness during festivals like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

In the olden times, family ties were extremely strong amongst the Chinese, but it was not expressed in the loving, close way that we are more familiar with today. It was more of a deeply-rooted sense of pride and loyalty to one’s family and a sense of obligation to maintain the good “face” or reputation of the family. I guess this is kinda the root of the issue of Chinese families not being that “close” to one another?

In addition, A lot of emphasis was placed on the “face” one “showed” to the rest of the world- if you looked bad, i.e. if your children were slovenly or you dressed shabbily, you would “丢脸” (literally “throw face”) or embarass yourself. Also, hard work was a bery respected value, especially in the meritocratic society of ancient China. I think the easiest way to measure how hardworking you were was kinda material wealth, because it showed that you worked for your money.

This is all pure speculation on my part, but just wanted to include a little explanation here.

2354 // Blogger Recognition Award

There isn’t actually a banner for this (that I’m aware of) but I decided to go ahead and make a simple one which everyone’s welcome to use!

Super honoured to have been nominated by Madi from Madi and the World for this! I really enjoy her blog because it’s very well put-together with amazing pictures and lighthearted writing. Her posts are super easy to read. Would definitely reccomend if you’re someone who’s interested in beauty and lifestyle blogs.

Here are the rules:

1. You must thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write a post to show your award.

3. Give a brief story about how you started your blog.

4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give the award to.

6. Comment on each of the blogs to let them know that they have been nominated, and provide a link.

So I guess I’ll talk briefly about how I started this blog.

Nothing too exciting, really. It all began on a very rainy night right before school started. I was really bored, and decided that I would just start writing and see what became of it. So here I am, some weeks later, still trying to figure things out.

I don’t know exactly how I can help new bloggers, since I’m a new blogger myself, but I’ll try!

1) Don’t be afraid to write.

So many writers are afraid of being “too negative” or “too excited” or “too _____” on their blogs, that they end up toning it down and writing with the mindset that they don’t want to make others worry/let their readers know that they’re feeling down. Also, some may be wary of sharing their own views lest they be mocked by others for their beliefs. Just remember this: your blog is your blog, not your readers’, your “fans”, your family’s, or even your dog’s. This is a space for you to share your thoughts. A blog is, above all, a personal thing. You don’t have to write for your audience. I mean, you can, but don’t feel constrained by this to the point where you limit your self-expression. Be as passionate, as sad, as happy, or as excited as you want to be.

2) There is no “template”.

The second piece of advice I guess I’d give is: don’t try and follow a “template” when you’re writing your blogposts. Sure, it’s great to have a structure as a guide, but when people don’t dare to step away from this structure, I feel like that results in a lot of “cookie-cutter” posts that have lost the crucial thing that makes a blog post meaningful: the writer’s identity. You don’t need to post every day. Neither should you feel bad if you want to post twice, thrice, four times a day. Not all your posts need to be about a certain theme. Not all your posts need to have an aesthetic header image, chirpy greeting and loads of pictures. Not all your posts need to be five paragraphs long. Not all your posts need to end off with you signing your name with a “xx” behind. Now, note that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing all these things (I love it when posts are loaded with pictures, and I have a banner in this post myself). If that’s how you want to write, go ahead. But never force your writing to fit into a “mold” because you have no confidence that you can write a brilliant, original blog post- because you can. Find your voice as a blogger.

So that’s it, I suppose! Thank you Madi once again for nomimating me (linked her above) and thank you all for reading this far.

Now, the nominees! I’m sorry that there are less than fifteen, I’m still in the slow process of finding new blogs and people to follow. In fact, when I was first nominated, I followed in total less than fifteen blogs which is why I chose to wait for a while before posting the award. Some of the blogs here I’ve been following since I started blogging not-too-long ago, and some others I’ve only followed for a few days, but I’ve probably binge-read your posts so it’s all good.

  1. Hideaway Girl
  2. Chit of Acerbic Wit
  3. Alicia Parry Blog
  4. Mimmy Beauty
  5. The Monster Under My Bed
  6. P.S. It’s Peri
  7. Rose Tinted Pics
  8. Teenagers UNITE!
  9. Waves of Awesomeness
  10. Stellaxhsts

So yeah! Those are the nominees! Thank you once again to Madi for the nomination.

2220 

Ran 2.4 km today (in American terms, about one and a half miles) and it felt so good to finally break 14 min! Been trying so hard since secondary school to run faster, but it’s only this year that I’m getting serious about self-training. Good job to me *pats self on back* because we all need a little self-love once in a while. 

PLUS! As I was typing this we just got our configs and I’M IN K4! I’m so so super pumped right now, you wouldn’t even believe this has really made my night goodness me

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, a K4 is a crew boat with four paddlers, as opposed to a K1 which is a single-man kayak. A K2 is a double-man kayak.

I love sports. There’s a kind of beauty in its simplicity- on the court, nothing matters but the goal. There’s no drama to be resolved, there are no deadlines looming, there’s nothing but you and the game, you and your team, you and the sweat and exhaustion dripping from every pore in your body until the final whistle blows and you know that you’ve done your best. Sports lets you let go. 

Of course, there’s always the question. What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail the team? What if I mess up? Whatifwhatifwhatifwhatif 

No one has the answer to it, yet it’s the most asked question in the world. But does the answer really matter? 

If we allow ourselves to live in a world of whatifs, that world is going to turn into a world of whywhywhy, and then it’s just gonna become a world of icanticanticant. It’s the biggest slippery slope the universe has to offer. 

Humans exist in a timeline that allows us to move in only one direction- forwards. We will never, no matter how hard we try, be able to see into the future to judge our own choices. It’s just something our mortal minds cannot comprehend, and we need to come to terms with the fact. 

Living a life straining to find an impossible answer to an impossble question is so unnecessary. If we cannot even live in the present, how can we expect to enjoy ourselves if we keep worrying about the future? 

In my opinion, the notion of “I can’t” stems from the notion of “what if”. One of our most important lessons is to live a life that allows us to exist in the here and now, not in the hazy realm of the future, where nothing is certain except death. 

So. After that huge digression, I’m done with this update. Going to bed very happy.