2020 Year End Post

The warrior’s approach is to say ‘yes’ to life: say ‘yea’ to it all. Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” – Joseph Campbell

Simply making it in December is already an achievement for me.

Last August, I wrote something on Tumblr that is scheduled to be posted in December. I even forgot that I even wrote something.

Its 10:54 of August 20 surely I’ll reblog this. But first, I will schedule to reblog this same post again on December 20.

I’m going through rough times right now. Tough, yes, but I know it is vital for my growth. Well, I’m the one who made the decision anyway. I have to be responsible for it.

Just for myself who will be reading this again on December 20, that if you had made it ’till that day, still joyful and alive, I am proud of you. Right now, I can’t see where am I going. Because I’m literally just living in the moment.

Currently, I’m doing things that I absolutely love (minus the stress of doing it) to do. I am pursuing various hobbies right now and I do not know where they will lead but I don’t care.

Because the act of doing it, creating something, it means that it has already been materialized in a physical form. Instead of letting it just rot in my head, I create it. Whether it may be perceive as ugly or beautiful, I had brought it to life. Something that only existed in my head before– a mashup of everything that I had consume yet– has now been materialized into the physical world.

And for that, you should pat yourself on the shoulders knowing that you did your job. Your job is not to judge whether you work is good or bad. Your job is to create whether intangible or tangible.

Whatever you are doing on this day, December 20, 2020, I hope you give yourself time to rest. And speak your gratitudes towards the universe for all the people who had influenced your life in doing what you are doing right now.

Keep fighting. Keep creating. Keep smiling. Keep helping. Keep playing. Keep going.”

I’ve read this several times now and wow. I had come so far. The very things that I did—reading and writing—during this year had shaped who I am today. Also, I am proud of myself for being hopeful and joyful even though the path that I took is so uncertain. I am so proud of myself for believing that I can do it.

Two weeks ago, I’ve gone into overthinking spiral that left me immobilized and in addition, I also had a flu during that time.

Then, I started talking with myself. I noticed that I started to look at things more than of what they are instead of what they actually are.

A few days later, I got the opportunity to talk with the people who really knew me well and I started to reclaim myself—the one who got lost in all the inner noise. My friends reminded me of who I am and that got me crying. Because then I realized how brave I was, how courageous I was in going into this uncertain path, and now, somehow I got lost. Thank you for my friends for helping me realized how far I’ve come and setbacks will not define who I am.

Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.” – Chadwick Boseman

This year, I am also grateful to the people who had influenced my life this year mainly to Austin Kleon, James Clear, Tom Kelley, David Kelley, Ingrid Fetell Lee, and Ryan Holiday. Their words and actions greatly influenced my life this year and I will not be who I am today if it weren’t for them.

To my 2020 self, thank you for being brave, for doing your best to live every day, for following your intuition even if it goes against the “path”, for choosing to live in joy all the time, and for not rejecting yourself.

To the people who supported Claire’s Essays this 2020, thank you. Thank you for reading and commenting in my works. I still have a long way to go in terms of writing and still, I thank you for being on this journey with me. Continue being good human beings and making the world a better place one step at a time.

10 Lessons I Learned This Year (2020)

“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Never reject yourself.

“People who are Makers feel these same fears. They worry about rejection and battle uncertainty just like everyone else. The only difference is that Makers don’t let how they feel prevent them from sharing what they know.

But even more important to keep in mind is this: if you choose to create something, you’ve already won because you haven’t rejected yourself.

You have already won because you’ve battled the limiting beliefs and the self–doubt and the excuses like “I don’t have enough time or enough money or enough experience” and you found a way to make it through to the other side.

Yes, if you build something people might judge it or dislike it. But if you don’t create and share the things that you have inside of you, then you’ll commit the far worse crime of rejecting yourself.” – James Clear

Source: Be Honest: Are You Rejecting Yourself? (Why You Should Make Things)

This year, 2020, made me realize how much I am rejecting myself these past several years. In the past, I constantly downplayed my ideas instead of just pursuing and doing them.

This year, gradually, I acted on my ideas despite the self-limiting beliefs and I never felt so free. I literally have no regrets this year at all because whatever ideas came to my mind, I made sure to do them all.

I had short story ideas, and so I wrote them.

I had article ideas (which honestly I almost did not pursue because I was afraid that I don’t have enough experience) and so, I researched and write about them. It’s terrifying, yes. Amidst of everything, I had this voice at the back of my head telling me that I don’t have enough experience, people will laugh at me, I am not ready yet, and so on.

But I did it. I made it through the other side. I became more courageous every time I did something, instead of rejecting myself and cheating myself of growth.

If I were to summarize what I feel about the whole year it would be: I have control over my own life. It feels liberating to spend my days in a way that I wanted to and not how my parents or society wants.

Live for the day.

“Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.” – Richmond Walker

I overthink a lot mostly about the future and sometimes, the things that I did. But, just like with everyone else, this year had showed that anything can happen anytime. I was supposed to be an intern for a government agency last summer but pandemic happened and I found myself inside my home, reading and writing.

I can never predict what will happen tomorrow or the next month hence it’s useless to actually be worried of something that I do not have control of. So with everyday, I do my best to live thinking only the worries of today.

I will make mistakes but in the long run, the mistakes would feel inconsequential and what I would be very grateful for is the experience.

Even though I am at home for roughly 80% of the year, I still had a lot of new experiences and one thing that crossed my mind before I delve into those new experiences was: I am gonna do something embarrassing.

Thankfully, I followed my gut and even though there is this great possibility that I ‘m gonna do something embarrassing, I still did the things that I wanted to do.

Fast forward to now in December, the mistakes that I committed in those experiences doesn’t seem of a big deal now (compared to the time that I had done them) and right now, all I think about is how I am so grateful that I get to meet amazing people, learned all these new skills, and most importantly, I get to be of help to others.

This is a very personal lesson for me and this is something that I want to remember always.

I am afraid to embarrass myself. Terrified even. But with this lesson that I personally came up with based on what happened to me several months ago, I began to look at every experience that I am about to take with total curiosity and excitement—regardless of any embarrassing moments that can spur along the way—because I know that in the end of it all, I would be very grateful of the skills that I gained, forming relationships with people that I would not had met if it weren’t for this experience, and I had the opportunity to lessen the suffering of others.

It’s not about how smart or talented you are. It’s about what you can contribute.

There’s a healthier way of thinking about creativity that the musician Brian Eno refers to as “scenius.” Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals—artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers—who make up an “ecology of talent.” If you look back closely at history, many of the people who we think of as lone geniuses were actually part of “a whole scene of people who were supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas, and contributing ideas.” Scenius doesn’t take away from the achievements of those great individuals: it just acknowledges that good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.

What I love about the idea of scenius is that it makes room in the story of creativity for the rest of us: the people who don’t consider ourselves geniuses. Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but about what you have to contribute—the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start. If we forget about genius and think more about how we can nurture and contribute to a scenius, we can adjust our own expectations and the expectations of the worlds we want to accept us. We can stop asking what others can do for us, and start asking what we can do for others.“ – Austin Kleon

In the past, while seeking out opportunities, there are times when I look at an opportunity and say, “Oh. Everyone’s smart in there and I am not one. I’ll just go look for another.” But when I came across the concept of scenius, I started viewing these things differently.

For instance, I am currently in a student publication and there are a lot of students here that are so skilled in writing better than I do (and that’s totally great). But even though I do not consider myself as someone who is skilled in writing or even as great as my peers, I still continue to do my part in the publication because it’s about what I can contribute to the larger whole.

Later in life, I will be working and there will be people who are smarter and better than me but it doesn’t really matter because like what Austin Kleon wrote, it’s not what they can do for me but it’s what I can do for them and what we can contribute to others together.

External accomplishments hardly change anything.

“We all think some external accomplishment is going to change everything, but it never seems to. It doesn’t change how you see yourself. It doesn’t change how you go through the world. It doesn’t change what you feel like when you wake up in the morning.” – Ryan Holiday

When this blog reached 1,000 views, I feel grateful but things just went back to the way it was. I am still reading and writing. When this blog reached 80,000 views, I am still feeling grateful but that’s it. I’m still me. My mindset did not magically change. I am still reading, writing, doing homework, and doing household chores.

And this is why I am thankful that I do not depend my happiness on external outcomes such as “I will be happy once I reached 10k views.” or “I’ll be happy once I passed this project.” because once I achieved any of that, nothing really much changed. I still have more work to do. There are still things to check off in my to-do list.

So with that, I learned to do things just for the sake of doing it because depending my happiness on the things that I do not have control over will make me want “more.”

In other words, I will never be satisfied because i will keep chasing that feeling of “I made it” but the truth is, there never really is that feeling of “I made it.” There will always be another thing to do. So the enjoyment itself is not on the results but on the process of doing it.

Rejection is redirection.

A senior pastor from our church shared that there are no coincidences—only God-incidences. God-incidences means that you are here at this specific place, at this hour, at this very minute, because God wants you to see something, hear something, smell something, and feel something.

This year, I got rejected to a lot of jobs and internships and I even got rejected by my dream university for the second time. But looking back, I can say that things feel into their proper places. Where I had been and what I had gone through this year felt right and I feel that they are supposed to really happen to me to grow and move closer to who I need to be.

I am thankful that God directs me to where I am supposed to be in at the moment and knowing that He guides me, makes me even more courageous to just go and continue immersing myself in various experiences, and just continue trying because if its not meant for me (yet or at all), He’ll redirect me to where I am supposed to be at this current time.

They don’t care about you.

This is a lesson that I learned in early 2020 and that I am still continuing to apply ’til today.

I get anxious especially now that we are taking classes virtually where everyone can actually hear what you said. Overtime, I am learning that people do not really care about me because they have bigger worries—themselves. I know it will take time for me to live my life unapologetically but baby steps. Baby steps.

Labelling something or someone as “good” or “bad” makes me unable to see the situation for what it really is.

Whenever something happens/will happen to me, I mostly say, “This is bad.” but as it turns out, it really isn’t that bad and I get anxious for a long time for nothing.

Essayist and poet Heather Lainier talked about a parable of a farmer on her TED talk and as she learned from the parable, “The parable has been my warning that by gripping tightly to the story of good or bad, I close down my ability to truly see a situation. I learn more when I proceed and loosen my grip and proceed openly with curiosity and wonder.

And so when a professor announces another academic work to be done on top of a other academic works that I still need to accomplish, instead of thinking, “They just never end! This is so bad.”, I think, “Oh this should be exciting. What more can I learn from this?”

Thinking this way will not magically answer all my problems but regardless of what may come to my life, I will look at it not as a problem but only as a part of my journey—something that I have to go through to learn and grow.

The more you use your creativity, the more you have.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ― Maya Angelou

When I started committing to my blog around April of this year, I was worried that I may not have anything to write after a month. Eight months later, I still am writing and I still am receiving ideas.

I think its largely because I’m just continuing to do the work everyday and that’s why I never really feel that I “run out”.

Whatever creative goal you choose, it is important to build on your experience and not let fear and inertia hold you back. Putting ideas on a page and getting past that first hurdle is progress. Then you’re ready to take another step forward. Just take it “bird by bird.” Pretty sure, you’ll start to feel more creative confidence.“ – Tom and David Kelly

Do not worry so much on where things are going to lead. Continue following your interests, desires and gut. Share what you think is worth sharing.

“The lives of great thinkers teach us that learning is the verb of life. The trick to lifelong learning is to exercise your curiousity as much as you can and to let it guide you where it wants to go. To pay attention to what you pay attention to. To not worry too much about where things are going to lead. To learn for learning’s sake, not because it’s going to get you something, necessarily, but because you have faith that the things that interest you will help you become who you need to be.

Your interest and your desire and your instincts are your compass. They show you the way.

It’s a hard things to internalize, but once you do, it’s one of the most powerful things. It sets you free.” – Austin Kleon

Constantly reading this quote over the last several months from my commonplace notebooks made me feel at peace because what I did mostly during those months is not what society expects me to do but nevertheless, I never regretted anything because I know that reading and writing are one of the main reasons why I am standing strong today and the reason why I am able to have this kind of output today.

Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Following my gut felt so liberating and I had never felt more satisfied than ever because I am control and I am living MY life based on my choices and how I want to live.

Making Lists

I used to not see the purpose of to-do lists. Yes, they help you not forget the things that you need to do. However, by the end of the day, its disappointing to see the you did not get any stuff done or what.

But ever since I read a bit of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I now use a modified way of making lists and I go to bed at night feeling much more accomplished and satisfied on how I spent my day.

List
Another list

“I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down fifteen things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten.”
—Mary Roach

I worked on this big academic work for our Design subject and the only way I know to accomplish it while also, being human is by cutting it into small, actionable tasks.

breakdown of my large design project

For example, instead of writing in my to do-list ‘design the office floor plan’, I break it down into ‘design the fire exit’, ‘utility room’, ‘elevator’, ‘comfort rooms’, etc. In this way, I will not be overwhelmed and if it so happens that I may not accomplish the office floor plan for the day, I’ll look at my list and found that I made progress because of all the strikethrough lines— this visual cue calms my anxiety and I am able to do more important things such as reading, writing, and playing with my family, without feeling like I wasted this day.

Also, if I did not broke down the project into small, manageable chunks, I would be immobilized. I mentioned in my previous blogpost, Procrastination Is More than Just Laziness,

“Going back to my design project, the reason why I procrastinate or progress slowly (than what I hoped for) is because I don’t know what to do. The project that we have is a new topic and we haven’t even been able to discuss it. I’m just so lost that I do not know where to start. In other words, I’m avoiding negative emotions.” (when I wrote this post, I wasn’t done with my project yet; I was not even at 50%. But I did it. Yay. This too shall pass.)

I am grateful that I get to know this because during the first days of doing the project, I had a hard time progressing at all because I do not have any idea. But when I started to write down what I needed to do and break the down in the smallest, most actionable things that I can get done within an hour or less, my momentum for this project grew bigger and bigger. Soon enough, I do not feel any negative emotions anymore while doing the project. I just want to do the work while at the same time, making time for the things that keep me alive: reading and writing.

Why Do We Need To Play Even As Adults

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“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” – Stuart Brown

Anji Play
© Anji Play Website

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 Search for the Ideal Playground | The New Yorker
© Netflix

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.

© Rigamajig Website

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.

 

References:

Lee, I. F. (2018). Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Little, Brown Spark.

TEDx Talks. (2014, June 13). The Decline of Play [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg-GEzM7iTk&t=63s

TED. (2009, March 13). Play is more than fun [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHwXlcHcTHc&t=24s

Keeping a Quotes Notebook

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There are moments wherein I just suddenly stop in the middle of something and I ask myself, “Why am I doing what I am doing?”.

There are times wherein I get carried away by the monotony of life but reading my quotes notebook snaps me out of it.

My quotes notebook is, yes, filled with quotes. I started it last September 2019 and it’s almost full today!

I tend to overthink about unnecessary things. Reading the words of people who have lived/continues to live for a purpose greater than themselves, keeps me grounded. They remind me of what is truly important. Somehow, reading my quotes notebook almost every day helps me to remind myself of what I need to do and why am I here.

When I stress about what happened yesterday, these quotes remind me to live today.

“Any man can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burden of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives men mad. It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.” – Richmond Walker

Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whenever I am starting a new project or on the course of executing a project, reading the words of people who came before me helps me so much to continue to do.

“None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.” – Laurie Anderson

“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything– all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure– these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.” – Steve Jobs