If you’re one of those people who believe that “oversharing” is problematic, this entry is probably not meant for you. Everyone else, feel free to read onwards. This will be nothing more than a giant brain dump of recent thoughts. Consider it a public diary entry without any real direction.
2016 has been a rough year thus far. Between the death of a loved one on Valentine’s Day, relocating to the opposite coast, relearning the ropes at my new job, and just recently becoming single again, I haven’t quite been myself. But that’s okay, I think. I have an incredible job, wonderful opportunities, and a support network bigger than I can fathom. I am so privileged, my problems are nothing in the grand scheme of things. I’m not entitled to complain. Even so, my unhappiness has certainly leaked into my day to day life. You may have caught glimpses of it on my various social platforms, or perhaps in person when I stare off mid-conversation. The heightened quantity of tweets and Facebook posts is no coincidence, and probably correlates directly with how low my self-esteem is lately.
As an outlet, I devoted myself to improving at bouldering. It was a mental escape, a solid form of exercise, and one of the few physical activities I actually find enthralling (I’ve never been very fit nor enjoyed fitness). It allowed me to test my ability to improve at a chosen commitment. Not only was this fun, but it meant quite a bit to me as competitive gamer. I made it a point to visit the gym 2-3 times per week, which should say something given what little time I have to begin with. Unfortunately, my mental paradise was shortly terminated when I fell and dislocated my elbow just days after said relationship ended. Karma, I guess.
And so here I am, typing to you all because I find it weirdly therapeutic. I want all my friends to know what’s going on in Lilian’s part of the world, both the ups and the downs. “What’s wrong, Lilian?” You ask. And of course, “Why write about it so openly online?” Well, there are a few agenda items I want to touch upon, all of which I think contribute to this weird funk I’ve been in.
The first is that with age, I have come to find it increasingly difficult to talk about anything that isn’t perfectly packaged in positivity. It’s as if people I’ve recently encountered are allergic to anything that is less than ideal. I despise this. Perhaps it’s my Chinese upbringing or just my personality, but I don’t believe that one needs to constantly be happy in life. There will be times where you’re in a slump, and there’s NOTHING wrong with accepting that for what it is. There doesn’t need to be a constant clamor to elude unhappiness. Life is not spotless; I accept the yin, along with the yang. Yet for some reason, this pressure of feeling like I need to uphold this bullshit positive facade only continues to grow. It’s gotten to a point where even I can’t talk about my actual thoughts without feeling like I blundered and committed social sin. For those who know me well, I am without a filter. I am honest. I am transparent. I am blunt. The fact that even someone such as myself is struggling to talk about my issues is largely problematic, and a major red flag. This is upsetting because this is one of the few qualities I truly love about myself. I hope it doesn’t change.
I have not figured out if these pressures exist because within the last few years I’ve emerged as a personality in the Smash Brothers community or if it’s due to the rise of social media. Either way, I’ve found that presenting yourself online has become like decrypting a maze. Post too many positive things and you’re perceived as bragging about your life. Post too many negative things and you’re a giant crybaby. Where the hell is the middle-ground? I’ve seen Smashers and online personalities alike complaining that they’ve been reduced to nothing but entertainment value, and their actual feelings are disregarded. I refuse to feed into this emerging trend. When you have so many eyes on you, especially those who consider you a role-model, I find it even more critical to NOT present your life as flawless. My life isn’t perfect and I would never want any friends or fans feeling like they aren’t living up to this imaginary standard crafted by my brand. I’ve already heard enough of my friends wondering why their lives can’t resemble those of beauty vloggers. Well y'all, that’s because vlogs are usually edited in a way to only showcase the highlights. There’s nothing inherently wrong with showcasing the positive, but every person draws their own boundary of what they wish to expose to the world. I chose this boundary because I don’t want to pit my “highlight reel” against the real lives of others. It’s not fair to anyone who looks up to me. So this is my middle-ground, where I tell you a bit about myself and remind you that I’m a human, like everyone else. That way, I hope we can actually relate to each other. (Go figure, the girl who is adamant about empathy would write a post like this.)
Where I draw my privacy boundary may seem strange to most. Several of my friends rarely update their social media and prefer to directly speak with their inner circle instead. But you see, I’m an outlier. I have close friends scattered literally all over the world; friends I’ve met through Smash, high school, college, my last job, my new job, the Internet, and even friends I’ve met randomly in different countries. Furthermore, I’m a connector. I tend to bridge the gap between many of my friend groups and bring more people together. I also grew up as a giant, introverted nerd who spent most of her teen years on Xanga and LiveJournal. Publicly writing about oneself and sharing my life with others was and is still the norm for me. And I don’t think I’m the only one in this camp, many of my Smash friends are pretty open with writing about their private lives online too. I want to tell all of my friends what’s going on in my life, both the bad and the good. Telling each and every one separately is simply not doable for me. And lastly, I don’t care about sharing my vulnerabilities and weaknesses with others. I’m probably one of the few that don’t mind it. “Real talk" is my favorite kind of talk. This is how I am and how I’m going to continue to be; honest and open. If you take issue with that, it’s your problem, not mine.
It may seem as if I spiraled off tangent into a rant, but these motifs in addition to the listed events at the start of the post are part of what’s making me so bummed lately (exacerbated by loneliness). These pressures grow more and more by the day. I am aware that most of this post hinges on social media as the prime example of my frustrations, but that isn’t just it. It’s also an ongoing pressure I’ve felt with IRL interactions with people, which hopefully I conveyed with the first portion of this piece. It is most certainly not limited to the realm of the online. I suppose it’s my own issue that I take with my immediate surrounding culture lately, most noticeable after moving to the West Coast.
This post is a bit incohesive, but I felt it was imperative to get my these thoughts off my chest. I may not be at my best right now, but that doesn’t frighten me. I know I’ll come out on top and stronger than before, but it perplexes me that others don’t seem to understand this concept. Actually, it infuriates me that people try and refute the negative. This isn’t just a self-pity post, it is merely acknowledgement that at some points in our lives, things are less than perfect. My self-esteem lately feels like a Wheel of Fortune, constantly fluctuating between different states at random. But again, that doesn’t even bother me in the slightest. I readily acknowledge that emotions come and go, and I’ll snap out of this insufferable phase in due time. Why is that so hard to understand and accept for some? Who knows. But it sure as hell enrages me when others act as if I’m doing them wrong by not being happy or better yet, “not being positive.” I don’t owe you my happiness.
I suppose I’ll leave it at that. Now, if you ever come across me on a dating app, maybe you’ll understand why I label myself a “pessimistic optimist.” This isn’t a goal oriented post necessarily, nor am I trying to convince anyone of anything except maybe that it’s okay to be sad. It’s simply a glimpse into my mind as of late, accompanied by words that are specific only to my experiences. Needless to say, it’s a departure from my normal, opinionated posts. Don’t look for a point, you won’t necessarily find one. And for the record, I’m not looking for any unsolicited advice or your piercing judgement either. I’m simply talking out loud.
PS. I’ll have you know that I’ve still accomplished lots, despite my fluctuating happiness levels. “Suck it up,” doesn’t apply here because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing of my own volition. The day I checked out of the emergency room after my fall, I hopped a flight to Boston to take part in a workshop and panel. Two weeks later, I flew to Germany to give my first design talk at a conference. I actually wrote this piece on the plane ride there because I couldn’t get it off my mind. And now that the conference has just wrapped, I am happy to inform you that this trip was very much a step in the right direction for my mental health (props to the very heartwarming Beyond Tellerrand conference).
Like I said, I’ll be fine in due time. That time just hasn’t arrived yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I believe there is inspiration to be found in overcoming dark times, rather than just focusing on the best.
The woman who wears her emotions on her sleeve