In the digital age, the question of privacy seems to be ever changing, as large corporations have an increasing amount of information on individuals. Reading Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier, was eye opening and makes you ask a lot of questions in regards to privacy, technology and social media. However, Social media is a tool and a platform, and it comes down to how we are using it, and what we are using it for. In a sense, surveillance is not simply the cameras on the street or in the shop, but in our daily spaces.
Direct, personalised and targeted marketing is increasing, as algorithms are able to track what we have viewed, searched, liked, shared and purchased. Someone dear to me mentioned the book 1984, which I am currently reading and find it really interesting. However, at the time it seemed unlikely that it may occur, that Big Brother would be watching a person’s every move, but it seems that it’s the reality today. On one hand, we can decide what we want to share, and on the other hand, whatever information is searched, posted and clicked online is always recorded. The sense of mystery in ones life is not as apparent.
I was reading a book by Dr. Libby, and I feel like she always has so much wisdom to share. It really resonated with me, when she wrote “What we focus on is what we feel.” There is so much truth to this, and it makes me think about how powerful our thoughts are. We manifest our reality through our thoughts, energy, and actions. A Beautiful and powerful article by Dr. Libby here on self love. In the article, Dr. Libby writes:
Remember that what we focus on is what we feel. Which is simply to say that if we constantly focus on our perceived flaws, of course it’s going to stir up feelings of lousiness because we will never measure up to our own expectations. It will also likely drive us to continue patterns of behaviour, such as unresourceful eating, that continue to confirm how we feel about ourselves.
The excerpt above made me think of when I had such a strong focus on how I didn’t feel good enough in my body. At the time, I felt physically weak and tired as I wasn’t eating enough, and from not getting enough energy from healthy wholesome foods, my thoughts would spiral into a tunnel of negative thoughts about my body image. However, once the focus was on being healthy and enjoying life, I ate healthier and had a positive attitude and a feeling of gratitude towards my body.
Comparison is the thief of joy. We are all beautifully made in our own way. Everyone is walking on their own journey. No one is supposed to be like the person beside them. Social Media is not real in the sense that no one is smiling all the time, and truly no one is perfect no matter what it looks like. We all ride through the roller-coaster of ups and downs in this thing called life. You are truly beautiful, intelligent, smart and kind in your own way. You don’t need anyone to tell you that, because you just are. You are enough.
When you think back to when you were a child, what do you remember? I think of the moments where I could crouch down and stare at a snail with so much curiosity, and it would be exciting and intriguing. The trail of ants as they strongly lift food back home or the hours spent outdoors reading on the grass, lying under the trees, sinking my toes into the sand and going for bushwalks. There are days where I feel that Social Media, particularly Instagram, can be toxic rather than beneficial. I like sharing moments that made me feel happy, but I do think Instagram can be superficial at times, and I think it’s because photos tend to be more carefully taken, rather than the spontaneous childhood photos. I’ve felt the desire to delete my Instagram many times this year.
Privacy. Too much of anything is not healthy. It’s finding a sense of balance. As someone who cherishes their privacy, it’s important in finding that balance on what one chooses to share. I was reading an article from the National Geographic February 2018 Issue on surveillance. Now that we all hold a camera in the palm of our hands, and we are surrounded by cameras around us, on the street, in the store and perhaps in moments, we don’t realise. It may be a person watching us, or a camera we are not aware of. The frequency we use apps and post and share content, the more data we are giving away about ourselves.
Numbers. Our self-worth does not come from a number. This is something I struggled with for a very long time in regards to my weight. It doesn’t matter how tall, how much you earn, how many followers you have, how many likes, how many views, how many friends you have, how much you weigh… Your value in life comes from within. There is no external factor that can take over what is in your heart and mind. If we put our value and self-worth through others validation, we will never be happy. Your happiness ultimately comes from within. A person could be poor but be abundantly happy because they live a rich life through their relationships. A person could be rich in materials, but lack meaningful relationships in their life.
Family and friends. The truth is, the majority of the time, I mostly share photos with my close friends and family. They are the ones I’ll be talking to on the phone and spending time messaging. When I think about Instagram, I think about how it’s not necessary for me to share certain aspects, but I think it’s having the ability to choose what we post. Which is why Instagram is ultimately just a snapshot, and we cannot judge a person solely from a snapshot. However, it’s interesting how with family, we don’t really need to think twice about what we send. At least I know I don’t.
Perfection, mental health, and body image. Social Media is not a reality. I think this is important to remember. I think what I want to express is that it is only a snapshot, a second of a moment, a glimpse and sometimes a filter to be perceived a certain way. Many feeds on Instagram can look perfect and I’ve found one of the most damaging aspects is the admiration of people solely for their appearances, rather than their personality and their abilities. I really want to put it bluntly, because I think Instagram has been one of the apps that often causes many people to put physical appearances more highly, rather than intelligence, abilities, talents and so forth.
Focusing on what’s important. I read a profound sentence the other day, which said: “What you focus on is how you will feel”. These words resonated so strongly because I think about any time I start feeling those emotions of anxiety, worry, and fear, it often comes from where my focus is. It may be to do with something in the future or something out of my control. Whereas, when the focus is on what I can change and I’m present, then that’s where feelings of motivation, positivity, and creativity come. I think the sentence also relates to how you spend your time is essentially the life that you create for yourself.
The good and the bad. Social Media is great for keeping in touch with family and friends. Messenger, Wechat, Line, and Whatsapp are the apps that I use for messaging, as well as the occasional emailing and texting. I remember when MSN chat was also popular. You can share moments, read the news, stay updated and keep in touch no matter where you are in the world. The online world can be very noisy at times, and it’s good to spend time offline with the phone switched off and out of reach. There have been many times I’ve almost shared something, and even written the caption, but then I realized, I just want to keep that special memory to myself.
I feel a little scared to write this. I was around twelve when I started weighing myself on the scales. I ran in the morning before school, and straight after school when I got home. I drank a lot of water and I ate as much as I liked because my metabolism was a skyrocket. When I left home at sixteen, I developed signs of an eating disorder. I would skip meals, exercise a lot, eat slowly, document what I was eating, weigh myself several times a day, obsess over my BMI and drink a lot of water to feel full. I had depression, anxiety and a fear of gaining weight.
When you grow up with people telling you that you’re skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, there is this pressure that stays inside your mind to maintain that body image. However, now that I’m in my twenties, my body is naturally changing. My metabolism isn’t what it used to be, and I feel more aware of eating healthy and having an active lifestyle. The beauty standard in Asia is to be very petite, but our bodies are all made differently. After many years of struggling with my weight, I feel the healthiest and happiest now. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, do the things that you enjoy and feed your mind with positive words.
There are days where I still struggle, but I know it’s not my true self. The true voice in myself says that your self-worth comes from who you are as a person, and it has nothing to do with the number on the scales. I don’t want to be defined by my weight, but by what I can bring into the world. The title really speaks about my teenage years. In the past, I went through a period where I was feeling a lot of hatred towards myself. I felt not worthy, and there was an overwhelming amount of worry and fear taking over my life. I felt like even though I was stressed, I could control my weight and what I ate. It’s not healthy, because then you end up neglecting your body.
I was 18 when I was living in Sydney in 2015, and it was a time where I really struggled with my body image. I remember gymming more and watching what I was eating. There was fear and insecurity during that period of my life. I felt incredibly lost. My anxiety was crippling at that time, and I really isolated myself. I was regularly going to the doctor and the hospital, and had a lot of health issues. When it comes to eating, I used to feel quite conscious at times when eating a meal in front of people, unless it’s those I’m very close to.
Our bodies are beautiful, sacred, precious and wonderful things that keep us moving, breathing and living life. I do think that it can be damaging if one compliments too much on a persons body size. When you grow up from a child being told that you’re so skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, it’s something that can really stay entrenched in your mind as you grow older. I know that my value lies in my heart, yet there are days where I stare in the mirror and feel a sudden fear of gaining any weight. It all starts in the mind. A persons weight can fluctuate when dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.
Everyone has insecurities. We all have something inside and out that we’re conscious of. When I think about where I was previously, it was during a period where I was unhappy, and I felt like I wasn’t skinny enough (which was when I was the lightest). I rarely ate in the dining area in a previous flat a few years ago, because I literally didn’t want my flatmates to see me eating. It’s really been this year, where I’ve felt safe in eating in the dining area. It seems like something so small, but it’s a huge change. Since leaving home, there have been periods where I didn’t eat well. When I had feelings of stress, I felt like I didn’t have any appetite.
We often don’t emphasize it enough, but your health is truly your wealth. Without your health, you wouldn’t be able to wake up and conquer the day. You wouldn’t be able to experience this beautiful life. When I didn’t have a healthy mind, it started to affect my body and I felt weak, unmotivated and a loss of energy. It was during that time where I suffered from panic attacks and had very deep depression. Our thoughts are so powerful. When I started being more present, thinking positively and accepting myself as I am, I really felt set free from the cage I’d built inside my mind.
I’ve read so many stories about those who showed warning signs of anorexia, and during those periods where they were the lowest weight, was when they were the unhappiest. Being skinny won’t make you happy. It’s embracing where you are, right here, right now. Accepting yourself as you are. Being grateful for everything that your body has done for you. Being thankful for good health and waking up to a new day. Treating yourself with kindness, love and positive self-talk. I am at the healthiest weight this year. I feel the most energy and happiness this year.
There were feelings of not being good enough. After really surrounding myself with amazing people and being kinder to myself, I feel an overwhelming sense of peace. If you can’t love yourself first, how will you attract the right people into your life? Our life experiences can affect us deeply in how we see the world. But, I really think that we can all heal from hurt, even when it seems impossible. It’s really the simple things in life that give us the greatest joy. We have to come from a place of not judging others because everyone has and is going through something. It’s easy to see things on the surface and believe what we see. The most healing comes from the periods of silence. I really believe that time heals.
One of the biggest blessings is surrounding yourself with people who are uplifting, encouraging, motivating, positive and caring. They bring the best out of you. The people we surround ourselves with are important. Our bodies are a blessing. It’s important to refrain from commenting on someone’s body. I can’t emphasize how much it can have an impact on them. I really believe we have to remind ourselves that we are enough as we are. We truly live in such a visual world. People will constantly judge others based on their appearances, and it’s inescapable that the first impression we have of someone often comes from their physical appearances. But, we have to go beyond the surface and remember that every person we care about, we couldn’t care less about what they look like. I really hope if you are on a journey of healing and having a healthy relationship with your body, that you will realize how beautifully made you are.
When you go through a stressful period in your life or a hard season, know that there are people who care about you. I know that when I went through depression, I often felt like nobody cared and that there wasn’t a way out. But, there are so many people who love you, and often the first step is reaching out to others. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to talk about these things. Those who matter in our lives, are the ones who won’t judge you for your experiences. When I’m reminding myself of what’s important in life, I like to think of the words from The Little Prince: Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. If you are reading this and going through a hard time, know that wherever you are in your lifeyou are enough.
Everyone has different experiences growing up, and we have a diverse mixture of cultures in New Zealand. A little background about me is that I was born and raised in New Zealand, and spent most of my life living by the beach, on the farm and now in the city. I consider Auckland a country town, which means that it is still considered a small city (or I like to call it a big little city) with a diverse amount of people and cultures. This is more of a ramble of spontaneous thoughts.
I have had funny experiences of being mistaken for another Asian person. Last year, I had a lovely coworker who worked different shifts. A customer came in and said “You made my coffee yesterday,” and I was a bit confused, and said that I hadn’t worked that day. Then I realised it was my other coworker, who happens to be Asian even though we don’t look alike. This was amusing. This used to happen regularly in my high school Maths class, when the teacher would call me by the Japanese boy’s name who was in the same class.
When I was interviewed by a Fine Arts student for her project, I was asked if I felt more Taiwanese or Kiwi. At first, it was a difficult question to answer on the spot. We had an interesting discussion about living in New Zealand as an Asian, and the experiences that can come with it. I feel a mixture of both. Growing up in New Zealand I never saw many Asians in advertising or media. It was mostly when I watched Taiwanese television or Chinese films. I do feel that this is gradually changing more now, and it’s good that there are more brands that are reaching a wider audience, but I do hope there will be even more increasing diversity in the media.
Growing up, there was the occasional casual racism and stereotypes about Asians. Most of the time, it simply comes from a place of ignorance and not understanding different cultures. Although, most of the time they were expressed in a joking way, and I used to just laugh a long at school, even though it’d get quite repetitive from hearing the same thing. Growing up, most of my friends were Caucasian, as there weren’t as many Asians in the small town I grew up in. There isn’t as many people who love cute things, at least not so common for those who are in their 20’s. It’s so normal in Asia.
There are times where I like to let people guess what my background is, as it always tends to come with a lot of interesting guesses. Everything from Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Singaporean, Japanese, Korean, Laos, Filipino, Malaysian, Chinese and Indonesian. I feel extremely grateful to have grown up eating a lot of delicious Chinese and Taiwanese dishes, as well as Western food. It’s amazing how much food can bring so much nostalgia.
It’s far more relaxed in New Zealand, and I’m grateful for it when I think about my experience of education. In Asia, studying and working can become stressful and the lifestyle is not like the one in New Zealand. An important advice is to retain your mother tongue, never lose it, because English can be taught at school and picked up, so there really isn’t any need to teach it at home. From personal experience, I only speak Mandarin at home, and when I started going to primary school I picked up English very quickly. Language is an important part of your culture, and if you are an Asian Kiwi, embracing your mother tongue and the English language can really strengthen that bond.
I went through a period of my teenage years where I didn’t fully embrace my Asian side, and it’s something that at the time was a form of conformity in a way. However, I really embrace my Taiwanese/Chinese side now. I grew up learning Mandarin first, and was very quiet when I started going to school. We would go to Chinese school every Saturday. When I was younger, my lunch box food would be filled with red bean buns, fried rice, dumplings and other asian foods with different smells. You will always (inescapably) be asked the question “Where are you from?” although I don’t get asked very often now.
I was placed into ESOL (English for Speakers Of Other Languages), when I was 8 or 9. Thinking back, I can understand it because I was extremely shy and quiet, which can be a quick assumption that I didn’t know any English. Being one of the only Asians at school, I faced my first lessons looking at images of animals. I was no longer in ESOL after that first lesson haha. As an Asian brought up in a Western country, I didn’t feel fully Asian for a significant part of my teen years. It’s difficult to express that feeling.
When I visited guest’s homes, I was surprised as a young girl that some people wore shoes inside the house. It’s a custom in Taiwan (and many other Asian cultures) to provide slippers for guests. In many Asian cultures, we call our elders Auntie or Uncle as a sign of respect. It is extremely rare to call an elder by their first name. Respecting the elders is heavily taught from a young age. Another thing I learned was how high my tolerance for spicy food was. I grew up in a household where at least one or two dishes each night would have spices in them.
Having subtitles on was a huge habit from a young age. It was because my parents did it ever since they arrived in New Zealand, and that was one of the ways they learned English. I remember sleeping over at a friends house, and before bed time she would always say “I love you” to her Mum. As a teenager, it felt strange to me, because (as some people may be able to relate), in Asian culture many people are less likely to say I love you to their parents. However, after being long distance from my parents for so many years now, I always say it!
One thing I wish to tell people is to treat everyone how you’d like to be treated. Also, the importance of not making assumptions. Be respectful of different cultures, even if you cannot understand why people do things a certain way. Travelling is important, because seeing different parts of the world and absorbing different cultures allows you to open your eyes. I truly feel so grateful to be able to grow up with two cultures, that have intertwined in a way in my life that has made it colourful and exciting. We are all people who live in this beautiful country. A New Zealander is someone who lives here and feels at home. That’s the most simple way I can put it.
An action I appreciate so deeply is when someone takes the time to sit down to write a letter or a card. I find that there is somewhat a lost art of writing on a piece of paper, writing a letter to a loved one or making a card for someone. I appreciate a written letter or card, because in a fast-paced, immediate world where we can easily send a message in a few seconds, a letter takes time, movement of your hands, thought processes in your mind, sitting down to think and it takes your heart to pour a part of itself onto the paper. Writing is personal and shows a part of yourself that we cannot see online, especially when online writing can only be read by a font. Our handwriting can say so much about ourselves. It’s a way of expressing oneself, that isn’t like when one is typing an email or sending an image.
I have been thinking about why I choose not to use a laptop when I’m at university, and I still am adamant to continue writing pen to paper. One reason is that writing allows you to listen to the key points, and write them down, rather than type a lot that may not be necessary. Writing allows you to put down your pen and listen with the paper on the table, without a screen that can be distracting at times. I notice it often that many students will do other things (eg. online shopping, social media, watching videos), and it distracts one from focusing on learning and absorbing information. Writing makes me think of my childhood, when I’d write stories, sketch in my book, make magazines and do my homework. It was a way of expressing one’s creativity.
The beauty of writing is flow. In a world where we are filled with distraction and multitasking, writing requires one to be focused. There is something incredibly therapeutic about writing in your journal, whether it’s the movement of the hand, the ink smoothly gliding on the paper or the feeling of allowing your thoughts to be let go onto the paper. I really believe that there is something incredibly helpful about writing down all your worries and all your gratitude. It gives a sense of clarity to read your thoughts, and it also allows you to understand yourself more. Keeping a journal can make you acknowledge those thoughts in the back of your mind, rather than allowing them to create noise. It makes you recognise your dreams and what makes you happy or sad.
Letter writing is a communication that feels like a warm embrace. It’s personal and fills you with happiness. In a time where many people convince themselves that they don’t have enough time, writing reminds us that we always have time. If we can take the time to write down lists and write down our goals, there is always time to go out there to achieve these things. Seeing someone’s writing is close to hearing their voice in person, because the thoughts come straight from their mind to their fingertips. When we type we can pause for half an hour, then continue writing the letter, but in conversation there is usually a consistent flow. Do you prefer writing on paper or typing on a laptop? What are your reasons for preferring one over the other?
When I’m living in Taipei, I feel like it’s completely normal to put up an umbrella when the sun is out. It’s very common in many Asian countries, such as China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. On Summer days like today, the sun can be very harsh in Auckland, and I tend to use an umbrella to stay cool and avoid getting sun burnt. Skincare is incredibly important, particularly in Eastern Asian culture, where beauty products have an emphasis on having healthy, bright skin. Our skin is the largest organ, which is why we must take good care of it, as it reflects our health.
Protecting your skin from early signs of aging. In order to avoid blemishes, wrinkles, spots and sun burns, sun protection is very important. I do feel that this is one of the reasons why some Asians look younger than their age, as many spend a lot of time taking care of their skin. Many people invest in skincare products that help maintain healthy and glowing skin.
Keeping cool under the umbrella shade. When the sun is blazing hot, an umbrella can be a great way to create some shade. It allows one to stay cool during the hot Summer months, when it seems like 2 minutes in the sun will make one start sweating. I find an umbrella helps, as my hat can only cover parts of my face, but an umbrella can cover your face and neck.
Avoid getting a sun tan. I still remember when my sister and I were in Taiwan as children, and we walked past two elderly ladies. One of them said “她們好黑!” which translates to “They’re so black!” because growing up on a farm, I tended to be playing outdoors all the time and had a very tanned complexion. There is nothing wrong with having a tan. As I grow older, I prefer to embrace my natural complexion.
The beauty standards are different. When I was living in Sydney, it was common during the Summer time to see topless men and women in bikinis at the beach, park and backyard tanning. It’s similar in NZ, where many Caucasians feel that a tanned complexion gives a warm glow that’s attractive. In East Asia, Pale skin is seen as beautiful.
It’s important to get enough Vitamin D from the sun each day, however this ranges from 15-30 minutes. If you are in the sun for several hours or travelling a long distance, then it can increase the chance of getting a sun burn. Remember to always wear sunscreen. It’s good to have a habit of wearing sunscreen everyday and protecting yourself from the sun. What are your thoughts? Do you carry an umbrella when it’s sunny?
Nana Komatsu for Kimono hime November 2014 Shodensha Mook
There is something about writing and speaking that are different in many ways, because for some, speaking comes more naturally and for others, it can be difficult to put exactly into words how they’re feeling inside. I find that it’s easier to write down my thoughts, because they seem to flow effortlessly, whereas when I speak out loud I feel my mind pauses or can’t quite express what I’m feeling inside. There are moments like talking on the phone or having a conversation with someone, where it requires instant feedback. It’s also the interpretation that people have of the words you speak, and that sometimes there can be misunderstandings or you feel you haven’t expressed something the way you wanted to.
When it comes to writing, I feel that I can speak with my heart more and more, because I feel the words from my mind just come out. When I speak, I tend to think before I speak, and sometimes perhaps a little too carefully. A few written words can often say so much more than a conversation about something you might not feel a connection to. Writing is honest, raw and allows time for reflection.
It has taught me to be more assured and speak up in what I say, but sometimes the comments people say can touch too much on your personality. I often think that soft spoken people can be quickly assumed as shy. In a strange way, I feel like writing expresses more of my personality and opens a glimpse into who I am, because when I speak I don’t always show completely who I am to everyone. Perhaps this is common among some introverts, where we seem to have an active and adventurous mind yet on the outside it can seem that we are more quiet. It shows that things are not always what they seem on the outside.
Do you find it easier to express your thoughts through writing or is it easier for you to speak them?
It’s interesting to think that no one really knows what we’re like. Only a very few that are close to us will see us through our ups and downs, but no one can live the journey of another. I had a conversation with a friend recently about how people will view you the way they see you. They will create a perception and an idea of you, but not many people will truly know you. It sort of makes me think of famous people, and how incredibly judgmental people are towards them, without knowing them at all. I’m guilty of doing it too, and felt the need to write about it, because when we judge it repeats the cycle of talking about things we don’t know as if we do know.
On a conversation with a new friend about forgiveness, we talked about how when we don’t forgive others and hold a bad feeling against them, it’s not so much hurting them, but hurting ourselves. If we let go and learn to forgive it will free us. There is difficulty in this in times where we feel something is very important to us or we don’t understand why people do things a certain way. There are many things we truly only see the surface of, and only in the times where we have peace, love and acceptance, do we catch a glimpse of seeing one another as we are. Most strangers that are unkind to others are often letting out how they are feeling within.
Everyone has different opinions and thoughts. The thing is we seem to be more hard on ourselves more often than we are on others. At least I know this for myself. At the same time, I notice there are many people who focus on the bad things about other people, but don’t focus on self improving and changing themselves. When we fear judgment, it restricts us from doing the things we want, being the true person we are and embracing life completely.
Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, goes through tough times and experiences life in a different way. Remember to raise yourself up, because the more you love yourself and be kinder to yourself and know that you deserve all the happiness and joy, then you will do the same to those around you. The moment we feel down is when we put our focus on things that drain our energy. It’s difficult to not judge when we feel something is unfair, but the thing to also remember and remind ourselves is how we often only see the surface of the water. The ability to judge less and love more is the homework we should strive to do each day.
During last year I tried to become vegetarian, but it only lasted 3 months. At the time, I stopped because I was lacking energy and my mood was greatly affected. If you know what foods you eat as a vegetarian that really help to boost your energy, please let me know! I’d love any advice in how you transitioned into becoming a vegetarian, from gradually easing into it or going cold turkey on meat completely. I previously wrote about how I eat very little meat and don’t cook meat for myself, yet it’s still a difficulty for me to completely cancel out fish or chicken if I’m eating out. What did you do in terms of giving up on meat completely?
The reason I want to be a vegetarian is for health and ethical reasons. When I used to eat beef or pork it didn’t sit very well in my belly, and I find it can feel quite heavy and bloated. I don’t drink dairy milk, but there are many alternatives that anyone can try from coconut, rice, soy and almond milk. When I was at work a few days ago, it was my first time making a beetroot latte with coconut milk and it has a certain consistency that makes it rich and tasty. Dairy and meat are often the end product we see in the supermarket, yet we don’t see the process of the meat throughout.
There are endless varieties of meals from fruits and vegetables, as well as other meatless foods, such as oats, bread and baked goods. I think my main concern is getting enough nutrition, protein and energy from a vegetarian diet. How did you become vegetarian? What vegetables do you find are great for protein? Is it difficult to find vegetarian options when eating out? What foods and meals do you normally eat? What are your reasons for becoming a vegetarian? Feel free to share your experience of being a vegetarian, I’d love to know.
Photography by Jeanine Donofrio from Love and Lemons