I have been experiencing what psychologists call ‘The Spotlight Effect’. Its wherein I think that everyone’s thinking about me. I have been overthinking about my faults and I think that my blocmates are thinking about my mistakes- that thought makes me anxious.
Hence, I messaged my two blocmates—who I am closest with and who’s opinions matter to me—and asked them if somehow they had thought of me the past few weeks and instantly think about my mistakes and failures.
Both of them answered no (which relived me to be honest) and if they had ever think about me its just because they miss me. At the same time I also discovered that they are too busy dealing with their own problems and worries in life to even think about me and my failures.
One of those blocmate that I messaged mentioned to me that even if someone in our class actually thinks about my failures constantly, that is not my fault anymore. They chose to do that and that is something out of my control.
I debated whether I’ll message a few more blocmates but I don’t think it would make much of a difference as much as the first two I messaged. Because like I mentioned, only those two people are the opinions that truly matter to me and if they haven’t even been thinking about me, then I’m good.
This activity that I did—that I did not assume and instead asked my friends directly—provided me with a peace of mind. No matter how others will perceive what I do, by the end of the day, they will worry about their own lives. They don’t think about me all of the time like how I overthink about it. Hence, I should get busy on living my life rather than pausing and making time to worry what they think of me.
I started committing to this blog around April 2020 and it has been a road full of exciting possibilities since then. I am aware that in order to have an output, I had to make an input—read, listen, watch, feel.
And since then too, I learned so much from the comfort of my home than I ever did in my first year of university. The Internet completely changed how I view myself and the world. And it hasn’t been around for like 50 years???
And one of the best thing that I learned is its definitely okay to follow what’s interesting to you at the moment.
I always write about this in order to remind myself: It’s okay to not follow the desired path. Continue following your interests and desires. Continue doing your hobbies. Continue spending your free time from university on what YOU wanted to do, instead of what the society wants you to do.
And since having this mindset—on focusing on the work and not any career title—my future became less and less clear to me and that thought makes it even more exciting.
If someone (and I know someone will ask me sooner or later) where do I see myself in five years, I will honestly say, I don’t know.
I like overthinking about the future but I want to be at peace with myself and unapologetically state the truth that I don’t know and that’s okay.
Writing and reading has completely changed my life. And like I mentioned, when I started having my interests and desires as my compass, every day seems to be an adventure. I never know what I may find, what opportunities I will attract, what ideas I will receive, and people I will know of (recently, I discovered Ali Abdaal through one of my favorite authors—who I discovered just by following my interest too—Austin Kleon and god. why did I just knew him now?? Please do check his youtube channel thank you)
Last year, I never knew that I’ll start a personal blog nor a design blog. I never knew nor even dreamed of that I’ll be interested in human-centered design, study of play, creativity, and joy. But I did.
And this goes to show how unpredictable the future can be and hence, I will not stress myself out on trying to figure out what I want to do in the future and instead, be at peace with myself right now.
A few tips from the amazing Unjaded Jade (she got this tips from an incredible business woman she did not mention her name though):
1. Give yourself options.
And you do this by gaining lots of different skills i.e. following that most interests you right now and never minding whether its something related to a career or not. just do it. Then move on to the next interesting thing you find.
2. Put effort into everything that you do.
So now you followed the interesting things, next thing is of course, the work. Make sure you learn through this experience. Make every day count.
Lastly, if you do have a plan for the next five years, that’s great! I love how you plan things out. I see you.
But for me, although I do not have exactly a five year plan, I do have values. Values, hobbies, interests, and desires that will lead the way for me as I go on to these unpredictable life.
After interviewing another student from my college for a feature article, I asked for feedback like I always do and her answer was this:
“Wala naman akong problema. I felt comfortable while doing the interview. Hindi nga ako kinakabahan eh.” (Eng trans: I don’t have any problem while doing the interview. I felt comfortable while doing the interview. I was never even nervous at all.)
Honestly, that is a huge compliment for me. During my very first interviews for a feature article as well, I got a feedback that wasn’t exacty a compliment but rather a call for me to grow and I am grateful that he is honest with me and for that, my future interviewees wouldn’t have to suffer so much because of my nervousness and inexperience.
I have so much more to learn with regards to how to listen well and converse effectively but such small compliments (small successes) gives me further strength to continue.
Just a few days ago, I experienced the feeling of “everything’s futile” again. And somehow, I think its related to my constant hustling these past few weeks. And I need to re-balance my self again. And I found this writings by one of my favorite youtuber, Dinara:
With that, I wanted to start my everyday with gratitudes. Letting the universe hear my thoughts and what I am grateful for.
I can feel that I am growing in many avenues of my life. But I want to teach myself to not get attached to some imaginary ladder that I need to achieve to be happy.
Small things matter the most. I interview various people and write down their narratives because I love to write a lot and read a lot. I enjoy writing as well as reading so much. And it feels me up with joy knowing that I am doing something that I love everyday.
I hope that stays. I hope that for the rest of my life. I keep choosing what I enjoy, what makes me grow, and what I love.
As a kid, I just enjoy what I love. When I was younger, my father had me take Kumon worksheets but as I grow older, I realize that solving Math problems isn’t what I am interested in. Hence, my younger self fought to do what she loves: reading.
I hope as I grow older, I will never forget that. I will never forget that as a kid, I chose to do something that brings me joy instead of doing something that people perceive as “will get you into a nice university or will land you in a nice job” but you do not actually enjoy.
I hope I will always remember to be alive. And to be alive means asking yourself: what makes me come alive? What is something that kept me going? And do it. Do it with my very best. The world needs people who are alive.
Like the Little Prince, I hope I will not forget. And I hope you too.
A twitter thread made me look back on my childhood as well as about how my parents raised me.
Here is the entire thread:
Before anything else, I would like to share mine as well. No, I don’t have a kid. I’m barely an adult. Growing up, I had poor mental health that I tried to mask in public through reading. Whenever my classmates see me, I am either reading or answering an assignment. Also, I did not grow up with the capacity to explain what I am feeling, hence, whenever I am sharing my problems with my friends, I never felt ‘good’. After all, I had yet to learn how to verbally express what I am feeling: It isn’t until 12th grade that my current social circle called me out because I never say anything to them. I never share anything personal. I had been with people who cannot understand me. My mom even frequently says to me that she does not understand me. So, I had this belief that no one will even understand anyway.
Going further back into my life, I cry a lot. My parents raised me to not talk back to them even if I’m just merely explaining my side. I learned to keep everything inside and every night, I let it out. In retrospect, I realized how far I’ve come in terms of my mental health.
Disclaimer: This post isn’t to spread hate on my parents or even hate on your parents (if you had the same experience) But my goal is to share how my parents raised me and how it influenced me.
I had seen, heard, and read similar situations from my peers and people in social media; how their parents treat them negatively affected their mental health as they grew as an adult. My generation is almost entering the ‘marrying age’ and I had read dozens of essays from my generation that they refuse to marry during their mid-20s because they want to focus on being ready physically, financially, and, especially, mentally. They had suffered verbal abuses (i.e gaslighting) from their parents and relatives and most had experienced how painful broken families are. Thus, they vowed to improve their mental health first, so that their future kids will not suffer the way they had been.
I wrote a few paragraphs back that ‘In retrospect, I realized how far I’ve come in terms of my mental health.’ and this is mostly because of a community group that I am part of. We would meet one every week and we will play board games, share stories as well as listening to others’ stories, watch movies together, and even explore places.
I became more empathetic through the listening part and my mental health became better because of the feeling that ‘I had found my tribe’ — meaning people who understand and accept you.
In Japan, research has shown that the reason Okinawans live longer than the rest of the world is because of Moai. Moai is a social support group or what you can call community in English but deeper in Japanese.
The feeling of having people who will support you whether you win or lose in life is one of the reasons why Okinawans live longer.
If you are currently or had suffered verbal or even physical abuse from family members or friends know that it is not your fault that you have poor mental health now. You cannot control how other people will treat you, you can only control yours. I understand that you may feel overwhelmed at times or may think that will this cycle of crying every day ever end? It will. No one deserves to be treated that way. Keep fighting. Keep going.
What we learn from our experiences today ensures that there will be a better future for us and future generations.
“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” – Stuart Brown
I watched one of an episode of Abstract of Design S2. The episode is all about play. I remembered in the book Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness written by Ingrid Fetell Lee, one chapter is dedicated to play.
Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute for Play, had been tasked to study convicted murderers of the Texas prison system– searching if there were factors that they had in common to understand what makes a person susceptible to violent behavior. Surprisingly, after a comprehensive review of the inmates’ lives and interviewed their families and friends, they found out that they have something in common. “Nearly all of these violent offenders had deficient or deviant play histories,” said Brown to author Ingrid Fetell Lee during their conversation.
There were inmates who experience abuse from their parents during their childhood. Some lack social experiences. To sum it up, their childhood lacks play.
Lee wrote, “Play let us practice give-and-take, through which we learn empathy and fairness it also promotes flexible thinking and problem-solving, which increase our resilience and help us adapt to change. When we play, our awareness of time diminishes, and our self-state, which allows us to let go of everyday worries and be absorbed in the joy of the moment.”
It makes sense that the lack of play in children these past few years had lead to a rise in narcissism, anxiety, and depression among children these days. Peter Gray, a psychologist who studies play, shared in his TED talk, “We have become a worse world for kids.” Instead of letting them play freely, most parents keep their kids occupied by letting them use their gadgets most of the time.
Going back to the episode of Abstract of Design entitled Cas Holman: Design for Play, designer Cas Holman concluded that most toys today are designed to keep children occupied. I looked back at the toys that I used to play when I was younger but are now sitting idly on display on our shelves. The toys that I own are close-ended; they only had one way (or four ’cause we never really know what is the limit of a kid’s imagination) to play it. These type of toys is something to keep us occupied and not stimulate our imagination. Many of these get thrown every year.
Cas Holman’s works are different. She does not label her works as toys because the word ‘toy’ is associated to the word ‘frivolous’ in which her works are far from that. Her works are for both kids and adults. It engages, unexpectedly has the power to get users into the flow. There is no one way to play it. Users can make anything that they want as much as where their imaginations take them. Above all, by giving users an opportunity to create something, it provides confidence to users– something that toys today fail to give.
Rigamajig is a group of materials used in constructing something in real life. These objects are enlarged with all edges curved such as large bolts and nuts, large pulley, and long plywood. Thus, preventing any child from eating it or scaring away from sharp edges. Entrusting kids to play and create something with “real” materials helps them in building their confidence. This design is something that stimulates the user’s mind and not deadens it.
There is this hotel/apartment in Japan called Reversible Destiny Lofts designed by architect Arakawa and poet Madeline Gins that aims to challenge and stimulate the senses. They believe that people can reverse their destiny (aging and death) by being in an environment that constantly engages their full senses. Hellen Keller was their source of inspiration in developing Reversible Destiny Lofts as she had reversed her destiny during her lifetime.
Arakawa and Gins believed that white walls, muted colors, and flat floors lead our bodies to atrophy. Hence, the exterior and interior of the lofts are painted with bright and vivid colors; floors are covered with lumps– actively engaging anyone walking to be in the present moment, no time for worrying; rooms are circular– helps the mind to not be in fight-or-flight mode while staying in this challenging environment.
Fun fact: Reversible Destiny Lofts is one of Cas Holman’s inspiration to create her works. She realized that toys are “crap” and do not engage with users at all.
Oftentimes, we tend to go into autopilot mode. We tend to spend our everyday lives not registering what is happening around us. We get our mind and senses numb to these amazing world around us. We left out play during our childhoods and downgrade it as frivolous and childish.
All this information led me to think that comfort isn’t such a good thing after all. Designing for comfort when done to the fullest, instead of ‘resting’ the mind, it will actually deaden it to the point of numbness and total disengagement from the present. Play helps us both kids and adults to be actively engaged and keep all our senses in use. Designers can help their users to ‘reverse their destinies’– designing products or spaces in such a way that will affect the users in a significant way psychologically; influencing users to be more creative more imaginative, more community-oriented, more joyful and more empathetic towards other people.
Lee, I. F. (2018). Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Little, Brown Spark.