Find a book that makes you want to wake up in the morning.

One that makes you rush through your morning rituals – just so you can get back to those sweet, crisp pages.

Find a book that starts slow, but draws you right in when you’re about to give up.

One that you can’t put down because you just have to know how the story unfolds.

Find a book that makes you swoon over the protagonist – the sharp male lead, that stubborn girl that reminds you of… well, you.

One that makes you feel despondent once the pages end, abruptly, because how can reality ever begin to understand the ordeal that you just went through?

Find a book that makes your heart ache in understanding.

One that destroys you and rebuilds you into someone you didn’t realize you could be.

Find a book that keeps you awake until you see the sky dim bright again, because that’s the world you will seek to build.

Loving myself feels like a long lost love I once had, a blossoming spark that has lost its appeal.

In my relatively young life, I have internalized some really harmful things about myself, things that we do everything to keep the young ones from ever learning about.

My childhood and teenage years were by no means traumatic. I was loved, nurtured, and priviledged. I grew up as a third culture kid, raised by (formerly) tiger parents and the staunch belief that I am destined to do great things in this world. Big ambitions, high expectations, yaddi yaddi yadda.

My parents have taught me to be self-sufficient both at home and at work, but somehow I missed the memo when it came to… myself. It seemed like everything I was working for was for some higher purpose… for good grades, academic praise, prestigious college, a successful career. I felt like a I was always walking on the edge, because if I didn’t attain the next goal, that meant I had failed.

And then, it happened.

I got rejected by all my so-called dream colleges and found myself in a gap year, desperately paving the way back to myself.

Throughout these years, I have almost always had some physical ailment – crippling back pain in high school, a year-long cold my first year of college, and other pain points that moved up and down my body at different points in time.

There was always something wrong, to the extent that I started to believe I had manifested these pains. My sensitive self has always taken critical feedback a bit too much to the heart, and it seems like my body suffered the blow.

What started as external stress – teachers, friends and parents – trying to mold me into what they believed was best for me, became the own voices in my head telling who I should be.

I spent years doing things that I thought I should do, and not because I wanted to. Not truly. High school memories of feeling completely out of touch with myself in hours of Model United Nations conferences, getting heart palpitations to place a mere fifth in track, and dedicating sleepless nights and weekends on clubs and work that I believed would boost my resume; these only ended up with me feeling like I could never be good enough. I could be good, if I really tried, but I was never great, not even if I tried.

If you asked me who I was, I would list out all the things that I was doing and pride myself in those achievements. In those moments, I felt validated in my efforts to be that self. Don’t get me wrong – I cherish and hold my past self close to me. Though I may look back in disdain, they are nevertheless amazing learning experiences that have allowed me to make wiser decisions down the line.

At 22, I made leaps in my career. At 23, I want to love myself more.

All this rambling about my past is just a preamble to what this post is really about: learning to re-love myself.

Loving myself means forgiving my past for whatever she endured. It means learning to detach from that past, the people that hurt me, and the hurt that I caused on myself. I need not forget to forgive, as these memories are the reminders for the why that I live by now.

Something that has stayed constant throughout my life has been writing. The long-winded and cryptic diary entries remind me of who I once was, and who I no longer am.

I’ve written to remember precious memories, and I’ve written to lash out furious thoughts that I could never share with anyone. I wrote to comfort myself, to decrypt past entries with new perspectives. I wrote because it was a way to heal myself, even if I felt more at odds with myself afterwards.

I write because it pulls me away from that troubled identity, granting me the view of the omniscient reader watching from above, all-knowing and forgiving.

I want to write more. To write deeply and foolishly, and to look back on past entries with unabashed certainty that my naive thoughts are testament to the purity of my experiences. To give myself the self-assurance that I had been seeking elsewhere all my life. To be my friend, my comforter, my biggest supporter.

No more intrusive thoughts of not feeling good enough. No more thoughts of feeling undeserving, unworthy of this gracious life that I’ve been granted. No more insistent voices in my head whispering vile words of hatred whenever I fail to deliver.

At 22, I proved to myself that I was capable of becoming good at what I pour my heart into.

At 23, I want to nurture the soul that has bore that brunt.


I flew back to Taiwan from the US early on when the pandemic started and, amidst all the global chaos and confusion, I couldn’t be more grateful of being able to shelter here.

From taking classes online, living alone, doing my internship remotely and then in-person, getting a full-time job, going to the doctor, to truly settling down in Taiwan (for now, at least) – I have some things to say about how this country has handled the global pandemic.

It’s as if COVID-19 never really hit Taiwan.

It’s no secret that Taiwan has been one of the most successful countries in handling the pandemic ever since it started to spread in Asia back in January.

From issuing precautions, reinforcing the use of face masks and having a really transparent means of communication, Taiwan has showed its continuous dedication to maintaining the wellbeing of its citizens.

Yes – wearing face masks, hand sanitizing at every opportunity, and getting your temperature measured at the door – would have been abnormal prior to 2020, but that is just about as abnormal as it gets.

Being a small country, with most of its population clustered around Taipei, I am actually really relieved to have these precautions in place after months without a single local case. We’re not wearing face masks 24/7 nor are we avoiding crowds at all costs, but being cautious has prevented us from getting other viral infections like the flu, especially during this hot and humid summer.

Traveling back from California, it took me some time to get over the shock of how different things are handled in different parts of the world. It has been several months now, and I am still impressed by the safety and overall sense of ease that living in Taiwan has been for me.

There was never a lockdown.

The closest thing to a lockdown was delaying the start of classes by two weeks back in February. This allowed the country to both put the health of its citizens first, whilst maintaining the stability of the economy (I mean, as stable as it can be given the circumstances).

Aside from the initial precautions to work at home when there were still cases, I have been going out whenever I need or want to.

I work in-person for my full-time job, and eat out as much as I would like. It often feels like I’m in this bubble of normalcy, while fully aware of the ongoing war against COVID-19.

The country makes daily updates on COVID-19 and new cases.

This transparency means that everyone knows what is going on, every single day. Psychologically, this creates a sense of trust between the government and its people, and serves as a reminder that we should continue being cautious to maintain this calm.

Anyone who travels to Taiwan must go into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Each person gets NT$1,000 per day in compensation. Violators of this mandatory self-quarantine are fined NT$1 million, and their names and details around their violation are made public on the news. It’s awesome.

Self-quarantine is mandatory and carefully monitored.

Before I boarded my flight in the US, there were Taiwanese attendants taking my temperature.

In the plane, they handed out water bottles to everyone and announced that the food being served had been carefully handled in light of the pandemic. 90% of the people were wearing masks, with some even wearing raincoats, gloves and goggles for extra protection.

When I arrived at the airport in Taiwan, I had to fill out a self-quarantine form to pledge that I wouldn’t go out for 14 days. I filled out my address, contact information. They redirected people with symptoms to another section.

I took a taxi to my place. A person disinfected me and my luggage before I got on the taxi, and the driver politely reminded me not to go out for 14 days.

Once I switched to my Taiwan phone number, I would get a reminder text message every few hours to stay in quarantine. I also got called daily to ensure that I was doing alright.

I got a care package with some instant porridge, cookies, and other snacks. I also had family members send food to me, so I didn’t have to worry about running out of groceries.

Wearing a face mask is not a political statement.

You typically wear face masks if you’re sick, to protect others from getting infected, and – to some extent – to prevent yourself from getting another infection while you’re vulnerable. It’s a preventative measure for yourself and others, because diseases spread fast and easily (gasp).

It is currently summer in Taiwan, and it is intolerably hot and humid here.

During clear days, as soon as you step out into the heat wave, you start to feel this body of heat enveloping you. During rainy days, you can’t walk more than 5 minutes with an umbrella without getting the front or back side of your body soaked. When it’s hot, it’s mega hot. When it rains, it pours.

The weather is absolutely intolerable for someone who has never lived in such weather before – and yet most people are spotted with face masks on at all times. I am amazed.

Face masks are highly recommended in crowded places, and required in the metro. People are fined up to NT$15,000 if they violate this rule.

This is an absolute contrast to when I was back in California, when I literally feared being yelled or stared at for being an Asian wearing a face mask. This fear was enough to prevent me – and many people – from wearing a face mask early on.

You never have to fear going to the doctor.

99% of the population is covered by the National Health Insurance (NHI). It covers almost any typical medical expense that you might need, from family doctors, dentists and chinese medicine doctors.

There are many clinics in Taiwan, mainly clustered in the city. This makes seeing a doctor really convenient at all times. You can make an appointment by calling beforehand, or just going in if it’s not during rush hour.

A visit to the doctor is NT$200, which is less than US$7. This includes both the doctor’s visit, as well as any prescribed medicine for ~3 days. If you don’t have NHI, out-of-pocket costs are at least twice as much, I believe – which isn’t too bad, compared to other developed countries.

A visit to a Chinese medicine doctor cost me NT$200 as well. Similarly, I paid a visit to the doctor, got acupuncture in my lower leg area, and received a take-home sticker pad for my pain. It was pretty great.

As for COVID-19 itself, I haven’t gotten tested nor do I know anyone who has. It is generally not recommended to go get tested unless you’re showing symptoms, as you risk getting infected (by other viruses) when you go to the clinic.

Life is as normal as it can be.

Everywhere you go, you see people wearing face masks, hand sanitizers at the door of many stores, workers ensuring that people are wearing face masks in public transport, and just an overall sense of… normalcy.

We may have COVID-19 under control, but we’re not blind to the catastrophic effects it has had in other countries. It is not over until every country has it under control.

Taiwan is also considered an “aged society,” which may have been a contributing factor in the country coming together to prevent the virus from claiming the lives of many Taiwanese citizens.

All in all, we’re leading a normal life, but not without the precautions that saved the country from plunging into a pool of infections from a virus that we don’t yet know much about.


Loneliness is difficult to confess because it preys on you during your weakest moments.

It distorts your view of reality and isolates you from everyone else. The lonelier you feel, the easier it is to continue feeling that way. It makes you less prone to reach out to others, because how could anyone else truly understand how you’re feeling?

But what we need to internalize is that many others are also experiencing the same thing right now, at varying degrees – and I need to emphasize the idea of experiencing this feeling together, because there is something healing about knowing that we are not alone in our aloneness.

We are naturally drawn to sharing the highlights of our lives, yet consuming this type of content often make us feel worse about ourselves. When we see others doing meaningful things, we question why we are not as happy ourselves. It makes us feel like we’re not doing enough, like something is… wrong with us. We all know that we hide behind filtered selves on social media – yet we fail to register that when we click on our friends’ highlights. We internalize their lives through those filtered lenses, despondent about why our lives are not as vibrant.

If we look at the happiest countries in the world, they also have some of the highest suicide rates. Why is that? We can hypothesize that when those who are “less happy” look around them and see everyone else “more happy,” they end up feeling even more alone and depressed in their feelings. Their surrounding environment becomes the filtered lens through which they compare themselves to, making it harder for them to get through their personal suffering. But when we break that barrier, when we acknowledge and share our negative feelings, we provide a kinship to those who feel the same, and actually make these feelings more bearable.

This is because the one cure to loneliness is connection, even if you’re as introverted as I am.

We need to feel a connection to others, even in our aloneness, so we feel reassured – or validated, even – in the tumult of our feelings. Forming relationships is part of being human and the key to our collective survival. Having just one person to listen, validate and empathize with us is all we need to get through your toughest times.

Personally, I find immense meaning in the few close relationships that I have. As much as I would love to be completely self-reliant, I would just be trying to defy nature. The few relationships that I have are crucial, necessary, for my continuous self-growth.

I also find the occasional interactions with other people surprisingly… rewarding. The freshness of having unattached conversations with strangers often leave me with a feeling of freshness, as if the interaction provided me a new way to perceive myself.

In times when you are truly alone, I encourage you to seek out connection in some way or another. During my lowest moments, I would go on sites like 7 cups and let out my cries of help to strangers. Fortunately, the strangers I encountered were kind, empathizing with my frustrations because they, too, were dealing with their own personal traumas. The connection that we made based on our shared pain for some trauma in our lives was enough to make those times a little bearable.

You can also sign up as a listener or volunteer for your local crisis text line, which I think can be incredibly humbling. When you become of service to others, the benefits that you reap from the experience surpass the benefits of those who receive it. We derive happiness not from how much we get, but from how much we give to others.

Putting yourself in a role where your energy is concentrated on what others are going through is oftentimes what we need to get out of our own heads.

So, if you’re feeling lonely, I encourage you to be a listener. You will not only help someone feel listened to and understood in their struggles. You will also be able to detach from the intensity of your emotions, and put them into perspective.

A more solitary but immensely healing thing to do is to lose yourself in a fiction book. It’s also called bibliotherapy, the art of using books to help you solve personal issues. It’s just like binge watching a TV show – except that you won’t feel crap about yourself afterwards. You will actually feel great – because since when isn’t finishing a book an accomplishment?

Reading forces you to not just empathize but also become the characters themselves, jubilant in the protagonist’s triumphs and crushed by their sorrows.

Books help you put your own life – and struggles – into perspective. They detach you from your own body, and reattach you back again with a different perspective on how to approach your own life.

Our imagination is also wilder than any film or TV show produced out there, and books allow us to unleash that world. Some of the books that completely destroyed me and built me back up again are the following:

  • Educated by Tara Westover, a must-read.
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, a soul-crushing, romantic tragedy.
  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, the post-WWII historical fiction novel set in New York that feels oddly parallel to our current situation.
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, a monumental, star-crossed love story. Perhaps the greatest in history.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, for when you don’t think you can continue any longer.

A few years ago, I got rejected from college and found myself in a gap year, feeling lost, crushed and directionless. I decided to find connection by creating an audience for myself. I started my blog during this time, because I needed an outlet to vent my frustrations, my loneliness. I was already writing daily on my journal, but I wanted to share some of those thoughts. I had virtually no audience, but imagining I had one in my mind somehow validated my conflicted thoughts.

The last thing I need you to do, which is also the hardest, is to embrace the discomfort of loneliness. Embrace the discomfort, so you can grow comfortable being alone without feeling lonely. No matter how many friends and connections we have, we will find ourselves alone at the end of the day. And when we do, I need you to know that loneliness is an impermanent feeling, just like all others. It need not define who we are.

If you can embrace the impermanence of life, you will start to rely less on those cravings and those uncomfortable feelings – because they are not part of you.

One of the reasons I am embracing minimalism so much is because it teaches you the impermanence of things. The loneliness you are experiencing now is nothing but a fleeting feeling, one that does not dictate the course of your life. So when you’re feeling lonely, use that energy and channel it towards honing your craft and building your passion.

I am with you in your struggles with loneliness. I know how isolating, how frustrating, how utterly debilitating it can feel, but I am with you in working towards acknowledging the fleetingness of our emotions and not letting that deter us from living our best life. Because, alone or not, life can be pretty freaking great.


Minimalism started out as a way to help me declutter my things and help me become more satisfied with the life I have. But this year, it became a mindset that I decided to embrace so I could start living my life without the burden of past purchases weighing me down.

I was still slowly decluttering my college room when the pandemic hit and I had to fly back to my birth country. I packed some of my summer clothes and essentials in a big suitcase and carry-on, leaving everything else in its place. I vowed to continue decluttering once I got back, but now… it appears that I won’t be going back at all.

This realization was hard to stomach, because the things that I have in that room were things that I had purchased because I believed I needed them in my life. They were things I gradually collected over the 2.5 years I lived in college. But now, I have to sell most of my things by the end of the month, so I can pass on my lease to the next person and… start my life anew here.

Earlier this week, I was making a list of all the things I have to sell, and it gave me a sinking feeling imagining all those things still in my room, waiting to be pulled out and moved somewhere else. It saddens me that I can’t even be there to pack up my things, and it’s upsetting that I don’t have a room to go home to anymore.

But I am also taking this as an opportunity to realize that the things I have back in my room are all replaceable, material things that didn’t necessarily bring joy into my life in the first place. Some things, like my wooden lap desk, allowed me to make good use of a small corner of my room. But other things, like a pair of boots I bought years ago, just made me feel more guilty everytime I saw them and knew that I wouldn’t wear them.

The truth is, I need way fewer things in my life than I thought I did, and I believe the same applies to you too.

This is a change that is helping me understand that my ‘need’ to buy more things are nothing more than fleeting emotions that I will no longer feel in a few hours. We can be really good at knowing how to feed our short-term emotions with new clothes and good food – but we are poor at telling how conceding to these emotions can affect us in the long-run.

My short-term emotion told me to buy those beautiful boots because they looked good on me at the store. But that emotion failed to consider whether I would actually wear them, or even like them a month, a week even, from then. I gave in to those short-term emotions because I didn’t think that far into my future. I wasn’t even considering how I would be feeling a day from then. And there is nothing wrong with that – except when it becomes a habit and 70% of the things you own start collecting dust in the back of your drawers.

Minimalism is most commonly associated with the physical act of decluttering, but its most valuable effects occur within us. By removing those 70% of things that I don’t use from my life, I open up space in my life to pursue things that would otherwise have been clouded by things literally cluttering my life.

These are just some of the reasons why you might want to consider minimalism:

  • By realizing that the cravings you get when you go shopping are just that – cravings, you might just suffer a little less every day. We all have many items in our homes that we rarely or never even touched – proof that our short-term dopamine-wired selves are not always great at predicting what we need for the long-term.
  • When you adopt minimalism, you create an invisible limited list of things that you can have – and it will make you very selective about what you bring into your life. It may sound restricting, but it can help in making you more conscious and less instinct-driven on your purchasing choices. We love a conscious consumer.
  • You regain your sense of identity, one that is not defined by your clothes or things but by the actions that you do and the values you live by. By not joining in the race of consumerism, you stop basing your self-worth in your material gains, and start finding them elsewhere.
  • You might just find yourself not comparing to others as much, because you are not even part of that race anymore. And with time, you won’t even feel the need to compare yourself to others, and this, this has been very freeing for me. I have always been an insecure, people-pleasing girl (and I still am), but at least I’m not comparing my wardrobe choices to that of anyone I see on Pinterest.
  • By reducing your options and lessening your need to compare to others, you reduce your mental overload. You no longer feel the guilt of not wearing that new pair of shoes from 3 months ago, nor have the burden of the tech gear that you never ended up using. I believe this sense of guilt over our belongings is widely experienced, and minimalism is here to prevent that guilt from even kicking in in the first place.
  • The minimalist style is timelessly classy: simple, functional and with soothing colors, this style is here to stay. Personally, I chose to start dressing in black, white, nude and pink – with occasional pops of color – and I find peace knowing that these clothes will last as long as they are made to last.
  • By reducing your things, you buy time for yourself. With fewer things cluttering your home and hiding in your closet, you spend less time chasing after the things you have; you don’t need that long to clean your home or find an outfit to wear, and you might just find yourself with more time to do other, less material-based, things. How surprising.
  • You save money (duh). Financial freedom can be empowering, and it is one of my goals this coming year. Understanding the value of money and my work is something that I want to become educated in, so that I can devote more time to hobbies and things that make me happy, without finances being a barrier in my success. Minimalism won’t earn you more money, but it can teach you to be a more conscious spender.
  • You start to realize that the world is your home. Personally, this means that, whenever I go window shopping and find something that I just adore, I treat that shop as an extension of my home and find comfort in knowing that. I might pick up t handbag and see how it looks on me, only to put it back later and know that it will still be there shall I want to look at it again tomorrow. I might go to the bookstore and peruse over the books for a few hours, without them taking up any space in my personal home. By treating the world as your home, you can continue finding treasures but still keep your space burden-free.
  • Experiences will always top material things. Think back to the happiest, most lively moments in your life – they are bound to be experiences, with people you love, doing things that shaped you in some way or another. There’s a reason they’re moments and not things in your life – we rarely reminisce about that “thing” we didn’t buy, because in the long, long run – they really don’t matter.
  • Minimalism is the most disaster-proof way to live your life. If there were a natural disaster today, and all your belongings – including your home – were destroyed, would you be crushed beyong despair? I’m not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with investing your finances in material gains, but it is not necessarily the right way to go, either. We live in such a consumer and material-driven society, it seems almost bizarre to not want to invest in real estate or things when you have the means to. But just ask yourself it that is what really aligns with your goals and your future.

Personally, I have found myself in a time where embracing minimalism can help me adapt better to the changes occurring in my life right now. But beyond that, it also aligns with my more long-term, wanderlust goals. I want to live in different countries, move into new homes every year or so, and not feel like I’m held back by my belongings. As a 20-something year old, I want to feel free to pursue my values and my goals, and adopting minimalism is my way to achieve that.

You don’t have to be a ‘minimalist’ to do any of these things, just like doing these things don’t necessarily make you a minimalist. But aligning my goals with minimalist values and limiting my options accordingly has been genuinely freeing. Minimalism may just be the trend that will last.


College is a hub for meeting new people, socializing, and just being around people. Yet even though we’re surrounded by people our age all the time… I have often felt a sense of loneliness that comes from not knowing how to balance wanting to be alone and making meaningful connections with others.

As I’m nearing the end of my college career, I’m often reflecting about the way I have spent my college days as an introvert. Naturally, I chose to spend a lot of my time alone and away from people, but I also challenged myself in ways that rewarded me with valuable experiences:

  • Making my room a sanctuary. After sharing a dorm room with two other girls my freshman year, I moved off-campus and rented a shared apartment where I had my own room. It is clean and minimal-looking, a sanctuary for when I want to hide away from humans after a day of classes. It’s the only place where I can truly let myself be, i.e. the bearer of my many naps and meltdowns.
  • Staying at home all day and then craving meaningful social interaction yet being too angsty to make them. It’s really easy to get FOMO in college when everyone else around you seems to be doing something more social, more interesting than what you are doing in your room. When I was younger, I was convinced something was wrong with me for being so inside my own world. Though I occasionally get this irrational fear that I’m missing out on amazing experiences, I am more selective about when and who I hang out with, and not as easily influenced by what others are doing. I take this as a sign that I am growing more confident in my own self – which feels quite empowering, to be honest.
  • Removing all sound notifications and muting all group chats. I only get lockscreen notifications from my parents and direct messages from selected apps. All other notifications, such as social media notifications or group chats, are muted. This allows me to see these less-important messages when I want to, and it also reduces my need to check my phone all the time (the more messages we get = the more we feel the need to check our phones).
  • No phone calls, please. I have my phone on silent mode at all times, and only turn it off when I know I’ll be expecting calls. Thankfully, my parents know this and allow me to call them on my own time. Otherwise, I cannot stand getting phone calls from people who could have otherwise texted or left a voice message for me. I don’t mind the occasional planned calls or video calls, especially if it’s with loved ones, but again – they are the exception.
  • Watching webcasts instead of attending classes. The perks of attending a huge university is that some classes offer recorded webcasts for students to watch in their own time. This saves me from having to hike up a hill, arrive to class all sweaty and be in the same room as hundreds of other students. But to be honest, I make myself go to class whenever I can, as virtual learning can never truly replace in-person learning.
  • Hating running into people I know and making small talk. Don’t get me wrong – I’m always happy to run into friends or friendly acquaintances. I usually wave at them excitedly and greet them happily, leaving me feeling warm on the inside. This fear is more about the thought of running into people whom I’m not really friends with, and not being sure what to say or how much to say.
  • Fearing going out by myself. Again, this is not so much as going out by myself (which I love to do) as the thought of doing so and feeling like others are judging me. But I then remind myself that I am a self-absorbed narcissistic human being and that while I may believe that I am the protagonist of my story – nobody else pays attention to me (or even sees me). I guess this is why I love moving to a new place so much – I feel more invisible about going out alone because no one knows me, which actually comforts me.
  • Having imaginary conversations in my head. These really just happen, most frequently when I’m taking a walk or on my way to class. I just replay a scene that happened recently with friends, or rehearse a social situation in my head. They have too often gotten so vivid that, before I know it, I catch myself moving my lips without knowing it. It’s embarrassing, but let’s be honest – no one could care less.
  • Dreading team projects. Having to collaborate and count on others is incredibly stressful for me personally, mostly because I can’t always count on others. However, I force myself into these situations because they also make me aware of my faulty tendencies – interrupting others, being too forceful with my ideas, or focusing too much on the negatives rather than producing constructive feedback. The feedback that I get from working with others is incredibly helpful, because it makes me more aware of how I express myself to others and allows me to work on my personal development.
  • Challenging myself by going out of my comfort zone. Joining clubs without knowing anyone beforehand, taking up leadership roles that I’m totally passionate about, and initiating conversations with new members. These situations have made me so uncomfortable in the past that have made my body react in detrimental ways (yes, I’m that dramatic), such as having back pain from all the tension built up in me. But as much of a fool as I can be in these situations, I never regret them. They allow me to learn and grow in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do by myself. It’s a reminder that I am not the sole protagonist of my story.
  • Being happy socializing every once in a while. I love dressing up (a little) and jumping into a friend’s car and doing something different for a change, even if it’s going on a spontaneous trip to Denny’s and talking about everything and nothing in particular.
  • But also being relieved when plans are cancelled. I love when I have Friday nights to myself. They can be dangerous, as I too often end up vegging out in front of my laptop and wasting the hours away in my room, but other times I’m hit with creative juices that just get me working away on some random passion project.
  • Doing everything in my room. I literally work, eat, sleep, and mull over existential crises in my room. I have spent consecutive days in my room, alone, only going out to use the bathroom or kitchen. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it just happens. I particularly love it when it’s raining outside, because there is no better excuse to stay at home when it’s raining outside. It’s also soothing to know that I have a roof under me while it’s pouring outside.

When I was younger, I felt judged for my introvert tendencies and often felt like something was wrong with me. I felt bad for not getting invited to parties, even though I knew I wouldn’t have wanted to go. I felt FOMO way too often, even though I would have chosen to be alone in my room.

A lot of this stigma became self-imposed, but a lot of it is undoubtedly rooted in the common belief that being with others is cool, while being alone is lame. Obviously this belief is far from the truth, yet it baffles me how a simple concept can be so stigmatized and emotionally complex within ourselves.

I also want to mention that, while I like to identify myself as an introvert, we all know that it is not one or the other. People are not ‘only’ introverts or extroverts. With that being said, I encourage you to nurture the introvert in you, and to not let the social influences dictate your way.


Writing is something that we can all do, in one form or another. It is my preferred form of communication, and it is something that I hope to continue doing for as long as I can, as much as I can.

Lately, I have been overwhelmed by the uncertainties and stresses of life. Usually, I turn to journaling as a way to voice my thoughts and work out my problems. But I found myself putting off journaling because I was scared to face the negative thoughts that I had.

Then I realized that I was giving the act of writing itself too much pressure. And I got stressed about not writing enough.

But writing doesn’t have to be wonderful, amazing or complete. It can be as short, unorthodox or even grammatically incorrect as you want it to be. And when it comes to journaling, no one is judging you for voicing your thoughts.

Here are some of the ways that I journal, blog, or just write in general:

  • Write on a physical journal. The feel of a notebook. The touch of pen on paper. The act of journaling on a notebook is the most satisfying one, and for good reason. I have kept all my old journals, and reading back on them every few years or so gives me the feels all over again.
  • Practice non-dominant handwriting while listening to a podcast. I’ve been using my left hand to take notes on my iPad of the (many) podcasts that I listen to – and it’s been an awesome multitasking activity. I’ve wanted to become ambidextrous for many years now, but never found a way to hone it in a fun way. Listening to podcasts gives my mind something active to do while I hone the motor skills of my left hand.
  • Type out your thoughts on an online journal. I made a WordPress blog my private journal a few years back, and I resort to it whenever I’m too angry to write my thoughts on my journal. I love that it’s a blog, and that no one knows about it.
  • Ramble on your finsta. A fake instagram, where you can literally talk about anything you want (and add a picture to complement it). Then, just add the few friends that you know won’t judge you for who you are. Personally, it’s a really good way to update friends on my life without directly reaching out to them.
  • Rant on Twitter. Not a person of words? Feel like complaining? Twitter will do. Again, just add the people that you know won’t judge you, or create a pseudonym (like I do) and let an anonymous audience listen to you.
  • Write book reviews on Goodreads. I know – hear me out. I use Goodreads to keep track of the books I read, and whenever I finish, I always make sure to leave a review so I can have my words to look back on when years have passed and my memory of that particular book fails me. They are not so much book reviews as they are book feels – the elated (or disappointed) feeling I had when I finished a masterpiece. It’s a great way to keep track of your books intimately, and to practice critiquing books (even if they’re not that great).
  • Just create a blog and write away. I have had at least one blog since 2008, and have been blogging somewhat consistently on my current one since 2016. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to look back on my earlier posts and see my writing shift as I become more acquainted with my style.

Granted, I’m someone who likes to write about their own life, so I can dissect and psychoanalyse my problems intimately.

However, something that I want to try to get into more is fiction writing. It’s something that I feel incredibly insecure due to the lack of knowledge that I have about others, but I think can allow me to put my own life into perspective.

There are a few ways I’m going to approach fiction writing:

  • Use a writing prompt generator. Just throw myself under the bus, write about something (even if poorly), and get used to that feeling. That fear of getting started is something that I have to get over, because only then can I improve upon my previous work.
  • Read, read & read. Oh, I love reading a good work of fiction, and hence why I start to write them too. They always leave me feeling elated and craving for more. Books are literally the best form of education and entertainment combined, and my best source of inspiration of producing work that leaves lasting impact on others.
  • Do primary research (if you can call it that)! The last book I read was Elizabeth Gilbert’s A City of Girls, a historical fiction romance novel set primarily in the 1940s of Manhattan, and totally got me fangirling over the Forties, the nostalgia of theatre life, and the aftermarth of WWII. Before she wrote this novel, Gilbert immersed herself in New York and read all about the characters and settings that built her novel. She lived the novel before she wrote it, and that’s what I want to do. Learn about the past that defined our ancestors, and live the stories of those before us.

I’m excited to see how my writing continues evolving in all aspects of my life, and I’m excited to see how it evolves in your life and our community as well!


I know you’re tired.

I, too, find myself tired more than I’d like to admit. It’s not the physical exhaustion that you experience after working out, but the mental blocks that you’ve been facing daily that just… never seem to end. I find it easy to just let myself veg out in front of my laptop and go through my 10+ “Watch later” videos in one sitting after a long day – and then continue browsing for more videos because it’s just the easy to do so. I get it. But you also know that you probably won’t feel so hot afterwards. 

The following are some self-care tips for when you’re tired of just feeling sorry for yourself. For when you want to channel that energy towards something that your future self will be grateful for later. These activities take some effort and you might experience some resistance when you bring yourself to do them – but that’s part of the process. These are some ideas that personally allow me to collect my thoughts and reflect about where I am in life. You might not want to think about these kinds of things right now, but releasing those thoughts in one form or another will be cathartic.

They are also things that you should do by yourself, things that are often associated with “introvert” by nature. But I believe that establishing a healthy relationship with yourself is necessary to have better relationships with those around you. So if you’re an introvert, extrovert, or anywhere in between – this post is for you.

slow down

Schedule your tasks for another time, so that you can unload those responsibilities from your mind. I use Notion to schedule my tasks into four main categories so i know what i have to do today, later, for my internship, and for school. Then, set your phone to silent mode. Browsing through social media and seeing what other people are doing or have done is only going to create more FOMO. By silencing your surrouncings, you’re removing any guilt you may have from taking time to yourself. 

Then, sip some tea. I prefer green tea or a low-caffeinated drink, as black tea and strong caffeinated drinks make my heart race, and finding myself wide awake at 2am feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack is not fun.

Play calm instrumental music in the background. This is particularly important if you’re surrounded by noise pollution that sets your internal alarm off. I’m personally quite sensitive to these kinds of noises, so I’ve primed myself to play (instrumental) music regardless of what I’m doing. Whenever there is construction going on outside, I just put on my (somewhat) noise-cancelling headphones, and make sure the volume is just high enough to cover the background noise. The other reason I listen to music is to drown the voices inside my head.

Meditate, whenever you can. This has been a struggle for me, but I have found that even a 5-minute session can help tremendously. There is something about letting myself be led by a soothing voice that restores my sanity to a calmer level. There is so much research out there about the correlation between your emotional and physical state, as well as the myriads of healing benefits of meditation. It’s such a simple act, yet it can be so healing. You can also take a meditative nap, which I like to do. Sleep is always good. More on that later.

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

Play chess, cards or Sudoku. I downloaded a free chess app on my iPad and playing on it makes me feel like I’m in the company of someone. I would much rather prefer the physical version of the game, but the digital options is a great space-saving alternative. I also took a card-couting class on Blackjack this semester, and I’ve been practicing that by myself on a free phone app as well, or with my $1 deck of cards.

let your mind do its thing

Journal – physically, virtually, or socially. I prefer to do this on a physical journal, as the palpable act of using a pen on paper is cathartic in itself. I also have a private WordPress blog, where I resort to when I’m absolutely raging about some subject and need to rant without being bothered to jot my thoughts down ~neatly~.

Recently, I also created a finsta, a private Instagram account where I added some of my closer friends. There, I posts updates and – most commonly – frustrations and thoughts about my life lately. It’s my way of sharing personal details about my life with friends, without directly reaching out to them. As someone who does a poor job at keeping in touch with friends, this has been a great way at making myself feel like a better friend than I actually am.

Blog. When your thoughts are more collected, sharing them in a cohesive manner can help you – and maybe someone else, too. The awareness of sharing your thoughts can help you see your problems from another perspective, and it’s also ego-boosting knowing that you wrote and published a blog post. Small wins, am I right?

get moving, in nature

Just get out. I prefer to take a walk – in the suburbs of the area I live in, where I’m less likely to cross paths with other people. There is nothing that makes me more anxious than running into people when I’m out and about. It’s not about the act of running into them, but the thought of running into them that makes me anxious. I know, I’m working on it. For now, the calm, suburban neighborhoods are my safe places. I also bike, if it’s not too cold and the wind isn’t beating my face. It can take me further places, away from what I’m accustomed to. Just the act of getting out and getting some nature fix can reset your mind. I’m not kidding. Read the book.

I prefer not to listen to music while I’m walking or baking out, mainly for safety reasons. I also listen to music 24/7 when I’m indoors, so when I do leave the house I try to take an auditory breather. But if I’m taking public transport, walking around traffic, or just surrounded by people, sometimes I like to drown the noise by listening to a podcast. 

Clean your space. I like to vacuum, wipe and do laundry about once a week. I love seeing my space free from dust that has collected for the past week, and I rejoice the feeling of lying on my clean sheets in my clean bedroom at the end of the day. It makes me feel better about myself, even if everything around me is falling apart. It’s also my Sunday exercise of the day – not intense enough to exhaust me, but active enough to help me sleep a tiny bit better that night.

do a relaxing activity

Pet, cuddle and love your cat. They might claw or ignore you, but they don’t bite or bark. As soon as I have a stable life, I will move into a small apartment, become a suburban cat mom, and cuddle the heck out of my cats. 

Watch inspiring and just truly relaxing videos. Not the ones that show you how they were so productive during the day, but the ones where they spend the whole day cooking, cleaning, and just being cozy at home. Sueddu and Haegreendal are my absolute loves. Watching their videos makes me feel okay about taking things at my own pace, and gosh do their filming style inspire me to improve mine.

Okay, fine. I also watch ridiculous drama TV series like Riverdale and Katy Keene, and super depressing philosophical ones like Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman… which I do not recommend binge watching. Just… don’t.

Read a book. There really is nothing better than losing yourself in the enthralling plot of a book. You can’t not feel good about spending your time reading; it’s the most relaxing yet nurturing activity you can do for your mental growth.

sleep well

Sleep, sleep and sleep. It is the most healing thing that we can do for our health and sanity. There is so much research, so much data and so much that explains why you should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night. I highly recommend reading Why We Sleep, which will scare you into going to sleep. There’s a reason why sleep has permeated throughout evolution and why we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping – it is a basic need, a fundamental necessity, the magic pill to our health.

Something that I’ve been listening to lately is a podcast called Get Sleepy. Every episode, a soothing voice narrates a story and slowly lulls you to sleep. It’s just like a guided meditation – but through a story.

That’s all. Now go take care of yourself.


The morning of March 21 I hastily finished packing my bags, not knowing how long I was going to be gone for. I sat there in my room, my bags ready, my mind frazzled. Uncertainty has a way of getting to me, targeting my mind even as my physical preparedness says otherwise. I was told that it would be at least 5 months before I would be back in my college apartment – but we knew that that was the best case scenario. 

This moment had been weeks of foreboding, not a matter of if but when.

As a student studying in the US, my parents had been phoning me nearly every day to provide me with updates of the situation – since February. They were back in our home in Peru, watching the news closely. Their careful monitoring of the situation prepared them for the future changes that have come, long before most of us knew something was wrong. Personally, this was perhaps the hardest part to stomach.

My parents understood the severity of the situation in China, and then Taiwan – our hometown – and knew that it would be way, way worse when it spread to the rest of the world.

This pandemic brought out the dichotomy between the East and West, a palpable difference in our customs, habits, and way of being that was no longer negligible.

My parents started advising me to be cautious about my social outings, to wear face masks when necessary, to disinfect everything when I got home, and to stay at home. Just stay at home, if you can. Don’t go out. Don’t hang out with your friends, it’s not safe anymore. Just stay at home – we’ll ship masks to you. Their advise grew increasingly urgent within the span of a few weeks – heck, days – and this urgency both alerted and scared me.

I have to emphasize the cultural clash that this situation highlighted. The social distancing and face masking was unspoken of back in March, let alone February. I knew that the situation was different in China, Taiwan, and the other countries that had been hit hard already. But the cultural norm that permeated my surrounding made it hard for me to act upon this knowledge. My mom mentioned reading about an Asian person being hit for wearing a face mask in public. But it wasn’t the physical danger that made me hesitant – it was more so the stigma that came with it.

In the US, we associate people who wear face masks as those who have a cold. Still, most choose not to do so, even if they’re coughing and sneezing. Wearing face masks when you’re sick is pretty much a social norm when you’re in Taiwan or Japan. It’s not about protecting yourself – it’s about protecting everyone else, from you.

Even with the pandemic rising around me, the number of face maskers only rose to about 5-10% of people at any point in time. And, alas, 99% of them were Asian. I attended my last social outing back in early March. It was a gathering of 20+ people from my club. I felt really uncomfortable about going, but I decided to just pop in, say hello, and slide out. I brought a face mask with me, but felt too uncomfortable to wear it at the event. I felt bad about staying at home, but I felt worse about attending the event, knowing the risks. There was no win-win for me.

Through small moments like this, I realized that the sociocultural norms around me were attached to more implications than I dared question. I wear a face mask whenever I’m sick and showing external symptoms – but during this pandemic, wearing one implied a lot of things. It implied that you “believed” in this so-called virus. It implied that you were scared. It implied that you were Asian, a foreigner.

It implied that this virus had, unbeknownst to us, become a partisan debate that favored freedom over something as vital as health.

I was confused, I was tired, and I was furious. I felt alone in my struggles to understand the virus. I had my parents advising and encouraging my social distancing decisions, but with everyone else seemingly living in denial, I felt more at odds with our cultures than ever. The answer was obvious to me: when a virus that threatens to wipe out a significant portion of your population in a short amount of time, you do whatever the hell it takes to end that threat in the shortest amount of time possible. I couldn’t understand why we were waiting for it to me. I was pissed at my school, for reacting rather than taking action. I was mad at the bleeping country I was studying in, for allowing every state to make decisions that were all based on “careful monitoring the situation.” I was mad at my parents, for not understanding what I was going through. I was furious at my friends, who were so obviously oblivious of what was about to hit us that I just. I couldn’t.

I was so mad, so confused, and so alone in my anger.

And so I came to Taiwan. I should probably point out, if you don’t know, that I didn’t grow up in Taiwan. I was born here – my entire family is Chinese/Taiwanese – but I grew up and lived in Peru for most of my life. My Taiwanese roots dictate a lot of my habits and cultural norms, but I never felt particularly fond of Taiwan.

This sentiment changed when I came to Taiwan a month ago. I came here because it’s virtually the only country that has near-zero cases on a daily basis. Its careful monitoring and superior healthcare system, in addition to the lessons learned from SARS back in 2003, have allowed Taiwan to get by almost unscathed by the pandemic. As a Taiwanese citizen, I came here knowing that I would be safe, with my extended family. I felt relieved and glad to have a place to seek refuge in, especially somewhere where my concerns were not absurd. Where wearing face masks is the norm, even when we have very few cases – because you can never be too safe. Where politeness is at a level where I can understand and reciprocrate. Where the government echoes our collective concerns and efforts to maintain our wellbeing.

Because of this pandemic, I felt closer to Taiwan than ever. Feeling safe and in accordance with the country’s regulations is a huge reason, and it is also because of this that I am able to spend more time here. To explore the country more, to get to know Taiwan more.

It almost feels like I’ve been given a second chance to give this country a second chance. To, perhaps, find the home in it.

It hasn’t been long, but I already have a renewed appreciation for my birth country. Since young, I have always associated Taiwan with my extended family and the home they live in – but this was the first time that I found myself living alone and exploring a new part of the city by myself. This sense of newness daunted me, but it offered me a new perspective ot the country. And I actually… really did find a new perspective. I still find the same superficial faults as I did before – the (ugly) buildings, narrow roads, and oh, the Traditional Chinese. But it felt different, this time.

I’m currently residing alone, due to the fact that I had to self-quarantine for 2 weeks when I traveled back from the US. No hotel or Airbnb accepted a US student possibly carrying COVID-19 with them, so I ended up signing a 2-month lease at an apartment. I will be joining my extended family next month.

I have mixed feelings about my extended family, to say the least. I grew up seeing them on a few summer breaks throughout my entire life. I have grown up in other countries and other cultures, all foreign to them. I don’t really know them, and they don’t know me. This difference has only gotten wider as I’ve grown older. I’m not particular fond of their personalities and attitudes, but I’m not an easy person to live with myself. At the end of the day, though, they’re family, and they’re something I will always have.

I think this is a chance for me to truly try to understand them. I have always visited Taiwan with my mom, having her guide my way around our family and Taiwan. But this time I’m on my own, and it’s my duty to make things work. With this unsettling situation, with a family that I have yet to understand, in this confusing world.


Four years ago, I broke into tears as I opened the last of my 14 college rejection letters. No waitlists, just rejections. I was absolutely crushed. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t take it. I sat there crying inconsolably, my mom shaking her head next to me and my brother at a loss of words in the video call. I avoided friends and people whom I knew were going to ask the long-awaited “Where are you going for college?” for the next several months, embarrased of myself. Disappointed. Angry. Ashamed. Lost.

I had molded my identity into the ideal college applicant, one that was unrecognizable to my true self.

All my life I had been taught to work towards college. I had internalized the idea that getting a higher education was my path to success. I had molded my identity into the ideal college applicant, one that was unrecognizable to my true self. I had the grades and test scores, the extracurriculars and that “spike” that I was told would made me stand out in the applicant pool.

In one sweep of a moment, the identity that had been crafted for myself throughout my teenage years vanished.

Turns out I was wrong, wrong, wrong. In one sweep of a moment, the identity that had been crafted for myself throughout my teenage years vanished. While the colleges that I applied were the most competitive in the world, and thus the rejections were not surprising – they didn’t sting any less. I thought I had lost it all, because I failed to achieve what was then my only goal in life.

The college rejections didn’t end once I got into college the following year; they followed me to my freshman year of college, in conversations surrounding our age and my background. They followed me to my sophomore year of college, in the looks of faces of people who thought I was still underage, when in reality I was already of legal age. The looks of disbelief on their faces never stung less, and I learned to be cautious about who I revealed my age to. It didn’t matter what they said after they got over the initial shock; the fact that they had been taken aback that I had turned 20 as a college freshman said plenty already. It felt like everyone was mocking me like I had been set back a year, like I hadn’t been capable of measuring up to their level when I was their age. To this day, I am still reluctant to share my birthdate with most people.

The thing that really ate away at my confidence was the privilege that I felt unworthy of. I have supportive parents in a financially stable household. I always have. My dad’s struggles growing up made him determined to provide me with a stable upbringing and enriching education, and I did. I attended a private bilingual school. My mom packed all my lunches and drove me to all my music practices and other extracurriculars. I even had private tutors for different test preparations. I did the IB programme in school, while also taking the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and TOEFL. I could afford all the test fees. I could also afford the fees of applying to multiple colleges. I could afford to take a gap year while staying at home and not having to work. I was so privileged, which is why I felt like an utter failure when none of it had paid off.

Four years have passed since the day I realized I wouldn’t be attending college that same year. Four years have passed, and the thought of it still triggers my insecure self. Flashbacks of people commenting about how “surprised” they were that I was a year older than they were, yet they were a grade higher than I was, still sting. The privilege that I associated with my gap year only hardened the blow. I was the privileged brat who only got into college because she had the financial means to fund for everything.

The thing is, none of these insecurities are actually real. They were only a failure because I chose to see them as such; they were only a burden because I made them so. The truth of the matter is, I only entered college a year (and a half) later than most people. I ended up attending a reputable school through continued effort and hard work – though the reputation of the university means less to me now than it did back then. The extra time  that I had before college allowed me to solidify my career plans, and I was able to lock down my majors in cognitive science and psychology, with a minor in Chinese, freshman year of college. I may have “lost” time not starting college with peers my age, but I gained it by starting college with a plan that I was confident about. My financial privilege and supportive parents were the backbone to my subsequent successes, something that I am blessed with and am eternally grateful for.

The thing is, none of these insecurities are actually real. They were only a failure because I chose to see them as such; they were only a burden because I made them so.

Just like I am still working on letting go of the “ideal student” identity that I had been taught to internalize at a young age, I am also letting go of the judgment of others. I have lived my entire life trying to please everyone – my parents, teachers, friends, peers, strangers, society – that I internalized all their opinions about me without first questioning whether that was what I wanted to do. In many cases, I wasn’t given a chance to develop my own voice. But I also chose not to have a voice, because I thought that only others knew what was best for me. 

At the end of the day, the only judgment that I need to let go of is the one I have of myself.

I thought I was truly starting to get to know myself when I got into college, but the habit of wanting to do things for the sake of others, to please others, crawled its way back. I realized that, while everyone’s opinion matters, their opinion of me has no weight on my identity. None of the derisive comments about my age and privilege are real, just like none of the expectations of others are there unless I want them to be. Only I think so much about myself, only I can question and criticize and mold myself as much. At the end of the day, the only judgment that I need to let go of is the one I have of myself.

As I am approaching my college graduation in December of this year, I find myself thinking back to this transitional moment in my life. I find myself realizing that I have – again – put my self-worth, effort and values into my work. On whether I get accepted into said job or not. Whether they like me or not. If I’m good enough for them, or not. This continuous cycle of living under the mercy of others will be the death of me, and so I am killing it. I am killing the negative thoughts and insecure beliefs that have plagued my entire life. I am ridding myself of the people-pleaser identity that had grown on me. I am shedding my past, because my identity is no longer determined by the things that are no longer part of my present life. My identity is based on who I choose to be now, and I choose myself.