General Announcements

Welcome back!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a crazy start to the new year. However, I’m glad to say that I’m feeling better now!

So anyway, I will no longer be posting stuff on Blog 1.0 because I’ll be moving onto Blog 2.0. However, I am keeping this here, but it just won’t be visible at the top of the menu. Blog 1.0 is here to stay on my website, just so I can see where I started and what I’ve improved on.

How will Blog 2.0 be any different?

  • 4 - 5 posts a week (not necessarily every day, some days might have multiple posts while others might have none)

  • More focus on prose and essays

  • Talk about more topics (polymaths, science fiction writing themes, minimalism within the context of society, personal growth, identity)

Thanks for keeping up! Excited for what’s to come in the next few weeks!

Making Geek Look Cool: Karlie Kloss, Wix Advertising, And The Rise Of Coders Who Can’t Code

I’m sure you all have come across this ad a million times, while waiting impatiently for your favorite video to start…

Love it or hate it, this ad is really effective and it’s no wonder why it has millions of views. In the advertising industry, there’s no doubt that celebrities are able to generate more revenue for corporations simply because they’re household names and they have such an irresistible charisma that no ordinary person can ever replicate. However, as a self-starting writer and DIY web designer, I find that this ad, while engaging and fun to watch, can be misleading to those who haven’t built their own websites before, have no idea what they want to do with a website if they were to make one, and only think Wix is the best because someone famous is promoting it.

I’ve been a DIY website junkie ever since 2005 when my friend introduced me to Xanga. Back then, I didn’t update it too much because of dial-up and there was only one computer in the house. When I got my first Windows XP laptop (which, in retrospect, was clunky and slow, but 12-year-old me thought it was the coolest gadget ever), I made at least five different websites for myself using Wetpaint, Webs.com, Weebly, and some other DIY web service that I forgot the name of.

Shortly after, I experimented with some more website builders and blogging sites like Blogger (formerly Blogspot), Tumblr, and finally, Wix.

My Personal Experiences with Wix

When I first created a free Wix site back in 2014, I thought it was the best DIY website builder ever (that was before I found WordPress and Squarespace). I was enamored by the textures of all the cute little buttons, the gorgeous templates, the customizable layout, and the ease of using the drag-and-drop interface. I experimented with a variety of designs and spent hours just having fun exploring all the features.

However, when I switched over to WordPress, I immediately stopped using Wix because WordPress looks so much better, it loads faster, and it’s easier to upkeep and maintain a blog.

Wix’s Marketing Strategies

  • Use a high-profile celebrity, preferably one who’s supermodel attractive, charismatic, friendly, down-to-earth, and has a reputation for being a philanthropist and an advocate for girls in STEM

  • Explain what Wix is, how it can be used, and why it makes creating a website easy and affordable

  • Show how Karlie creates her own website and how she showcases her projects in an appealing manner

  • Use attention-grabbing words like “professional” and “stunning,” which people want to be known for

  • Has a target audience: young entrepreneurial and creative girls who want to make a website for their passions but don’t have advanced coding skills and probably don’t have the budget to hire a professional web developer

  • Add in a rock jingle that makes people feel pumped up and ready to jump onto the DIY website bandwagon and become a “Badass creative coder-blogger-entrepreneur” that most millennials want to be

Why is there so much hate on this ad?

A lot of people in the comments below seem to love hating on Karlie and dissing her, mainly because they believe that the Wix advertising team is only concerned about money and popularity, just so they can get more people to sign up, especially starstruck, gullible young girls who think that blogging is just something that cool people do and wrongly believe that it’s all fun and games. However, presentation-wise, I think Karlie did a great job with explaining what Wix is about, while doing so in a way that makes beginner-level web design less intimidating and more user-friendly.

However, critics of this ad also are quick to point out that Karlie’s a hypocrite - she advocates coding and STEM education for young girls, but she herself won’t build her own website from scratch (with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Joomla, Ruby, etc.) or bother to use professional back-end development skills. And they are right because Wix requires absolutely no knowledge of code at all.

Is Wix really worth the money?

In short, no.

Personally, I believe that if you’re wanting to blog and have a relatively simple and clean portfolio for your work (especially in media, journalism, writing, photography, videography, and graphic design), you should go with Squarespace (most streamlined and low-maintenance). If you are a coder, UX Designer, and web developer, you should go with a self-hosted WordPress blog and create a theme from scratch.

You shouldn’t bother with Wix for the following reasons:

  • Poor SEO rankings compared to WordPress and Squarespace

  • More difficult to optimize for mobile (whereas Squarespace has this already built in)

  • Wix uses Flash, which makes it load much more slowly than HTML-based website builders

  • Themes aren’t as well-designed as other sites: While there are some decent looking sites on Wix, there are many other Wix users who have cluttered and tacky portfolios because there are simply too many options with colors, patterns, and textures. People who lack an eye for good design will simply think it’s cool to throw in a mix of unflattering designs and hope for the best.

  • The Unlimited plan will cost you $14/month, whereas Squarespace will give you a more professional, aesthetically appealing, and highly functional website for $12/month. I’m sure there are also other hosting options that are as low as $3.95/month.

The fact that a self-proclaimed coder is using a service that’s clearly for people who can’t code makes Wix look bad. The ad itself is only fun to watch and it can serve as a motivational video for people who want to build their own websites but not necessarily sign up for Wix. Clearly, people who are serious about making their digital portfolios will at least have the common sense to use a cleaner template on WordPress or Squarespace and not bother with Flash-based systems that decrease speed and overall productivity.

If you want to use Wix, by all means, go for it, but if you want to be taken seriously and have a presentable working portfolio, I’d recommend for you to use another DIY website builder. If you’re a hobbyist and you like having more options with how your design looks, Wix is sufficient enough for your needs.

And if you are an aspiring coder, for the sanity of those who are professional coders, instead of talking about how coding jobs are lucrative and how smart and hip coding makes you look, why not start building your own website from the ground up today?

On Being An Indigo Child

When I first came across the idea of being an indigo child, I was fascinated by this and began to identify myself as one the more I read about the signs of being one.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, here are a few articles to enlighten you on the subject:

17 Signs You’re What’s Known As An ‘Indigo Child’

20 Reasons Why Indigo Children Feel Most Lost By Their Early 20s

8 Common Struggles Of Indigo Children

6 Things You’ll Only Understand If You’re What’s Known As An ‘Indigo Child’

Throughout my childhood, I was always the child who got “lost in her own little world” because I was highly reserved, more observant of other people’s core motivations than anyone knew, and desirous of expanding my understanding of how the world worked from a very unconventional and more profound perspective that isn’t conditioned by popular opinion or education.

As I got older, the signs became clearer to me. I didn’t fit in or share others’ complacent consumerist-driven views, I sought fulfillment over ego-driven accomplishments, I became fascinated with personality theories and being considered as part of a rare 1% of the population, I was too busy burying my nose in dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction novels and anything that dealt with skepticism of the status quo, I wrote a lot about my personal struggles in a vulnerable way, I kept notebooks of lyrics that deeply resonated with me (especially songs about transcendence and simplicity), and I felt incredibly dissatisfied with resigning the rest of my life to working at a typical cutthroat place that crushed the human spirit and didn’t value who I was.

I struggled and felt lost. I felt like giving up. I made mistakes and experienced setbacks because I was too afraid to stand up for myself. I doubted who I was and who I could become in the future, but that’s because I thought I had to give up my inner self to meet the demands of a cruel and callous world. I was accused of being too sensitive and soft for survival. I wasn’t tough enough, I wasn’t competitive enough, and I wasn’t “smart enough.”

However, those were all lies and doubts that were to be expected when experiencing life as an indigo child. I didn’t need to torture myself or prevent myself from expressing genuine thoughts that were significant to me and others who experienced the same struggles. And the point of being an indigo child isn’t to give up or conform to the world, it’s to use your strong intuition, empathy, visionary mindset, and artistic abilities to help build a new world that puts fulfillment over greed, actualization over survival-of-the-fittest, and creativity over callousness. Though this presents a whole slew of seemingly unsurmountable challenges, indigo children are determined to push past harsh judgments from others in order to create something that no one had the foresight to envision. They aren’t in denial that the world is dying. They don’t expect to heal it or even be grand heroes, but rather, they want to pursue what they’re good at, refuse to participate in the rat-race for any longer than necessary, use their ingenuity to outsmart the powerful ones who seek to pit people against themselves, and build a beautiful life they love with the abilities they already have.

10 Incredibly Important Life Skills I Learned From Working At A Math Learning Center

For a significant part of my life, I worked at math-only learning center.

As a millennial, I know how competitive the job market is. And I know what it’s like to apply to 50 entry-level office jobs in a day on Indeed and not hear back from a single one. After graduating with a degree in Mathematics in 2016, I wasn’t sure how to put my education to good use. I wasn’t sure if I was competitive enough to work in finance, engineering, statistics, or information technology - and time has proven that deep down in my heart, I’ve shut the doors to those fields long ago (in high school, I thought about being a writer, but I didn’t think it was possible to step outside of the hobbyist stage, so I majored in something that others thought was more practical) and only realized it after completing my degree in a STEM field.

So naturally, I did something that didn’t seem like it was out of my reach in terms of skills, experience, and education - I applied to be an instructor at Mathnasium! All I wanted was some work experience and a way to help others. And I loved algebra and trigonometry so much that I couldn’t wait to review all those topics and share my enthusiasm with students who didn’t know their full potential and needed someone supportive to guide them through challenging problems.

I’ve found that despite being more reserved and quieter than other instructors (I’m definitely not the outgoing or bubbly type), I really enjoyed working with students, getting to understand how they think, and providing them with the skills they need to be more confident in their abilities to tackle math in school. It was an incredibly rewarding experience that wasn’t like anything else.

Here are 10 incredibly important things I’ve learned from working at Mathnasium:

  1. Time management

    The Mathnasium Way: How to manage my time effectively under time constraints and still provide quality instruction

    People are under the impression that tutoring is an “easy” job, but that’s not exactly true. I worked at the largest tutoring center in the state, and I can say for sure that I definitely felt challenged. I usually found myself working with seven or more students at a time, especially with middle and high school students who have more complicated problems, homework assignments, and even lengthy projects that they wanted me to go over with them. So I had to learn how to manage my time really, really well. I learned how to tell when students needed to be asked just a simple question to help them figure out how to solve a problem on their own or if they required an extensive explanation (a walkthrough of steps that they probably never learned in school). On top of that, I also needed to monitor when students arrived, how much time they had left for their sessions, and when they needed to switch to homework. In the beginning, I had a lot to grapple with, but I’ve found that I improved a lot on time management the more I got used to working with more students (I even had a day when I worked with 12 students at a time).

  2. Situational awareness

    The Mathnasium Way: Keeping track of students, what they’re working on, who needed help, and generally, how they were feeling about their learning session

    Teaching at Mathnasium wasn’t like having one small class. I typically worked with eight students at a time, so it was more like having eight classes of one because they all were working on something different based on what kinds of math skills they needed most improvement on. I needed to be aware of times when I saw a student struggling or getting stuck on a page for an unreasonable amount of time, when to step in, and how I could best help them based on their current understanding of the topic. I had to keep track of when students felt disengaged and find a way to present the problem in a different light so that they can be more motivated to complete their assignment.

  3. Flexibility

    The Mathnasium Way: Switching gears in my brain by switching back and forth between multiple topics in math (due to each student at a table having customized learning plans)

    Because each student had a customized learning plan and a whole binder full of worksheets, I’ve learned how to switch gears very quickly. One student might be working on the law of sines and another student might be working on triangle proportions and then another student might be working on the quadratic formula and another student might be doing SAT practice. Every time I transitioned from working with one student to another, my mind had to switch to a new topic at the snap of two fingers. It was overwhelming at times, but I’ve gotten used to switching back and forth between hundreds of different types of math problems, so it really helped me build a quick mind and strengthen my ability to solve a variety of different problems at a rapid pace.

  4. Teamwork

    The Mathnasium Way: Working cooperatively with other instructors, helping them out when necessary, and learning from them as well

    I’ve learned about the importance of teamwork. Sometimes, when the tutoring center got too crowded (100+ students during the busiest hours), instructors had to work together to accommodate every student so that no one fell behind and that students were getting the help they needed. This meant I had to help out with check-ins whenever some other instructor was busy with explaining something to another student, and sometimes I’ve had to receive help as well. There were also times when another instructor needed help on a problem and a better explanation/perspective, so I was able to step in and provide that.

  5. Receiving constructive criticism

    The Mathnasium Way: Receiving feedback and learning about ways I can become a better instructor through meetings with the center director

    Taking constructive criticism and applying it was an incredibly essential life skill I picked up. There would be meetings with the center director every six months and we would go over what I was doing well, what I needed to improve on, and how to be more aware of the company’s objectives. As someone who self-deprecates a lot and thinks I’m worse than I am, I’ve learned that the center director saw me as a valuable part of the team and showed positive reinforcement.

  6. Self-Improvement

    The Mathnasium Way: How to improve myself and reach goals - provide quality instruction, help students improve and have fun, maintain safety of the facility, and meet certain requirements for using teaching strategies as outlined in the training binder

    This took a lot of self-awareness and deep reflection regarding what I could be doing better to align with the company’s mission. There was much to be done on any given day and prioritizing was definitely something I picked up while instructing students, doing what the lead instructor told me to do, and ensuring that students felt safe, welcomed, and relaxed.

  7. Empathy

    The Mathnasium Way: Connecting with and showing empathy for students

    As an introvert, I got to step out of my comfort zone a bit. As I became one of the designated instructors for upper-level math (Algebra 1 and up), I bonded with these students, empathized with their struggles, and soon became a favorite instructor of theirs (a lot of the time, students would request me to be there instead of some other instructor, which definitely made me feel valued and loved). Whenever I doubted my abilities to connect with students, they affirmed that I was doing a great job in not only explaining math, but also in showing understanding and compassion. This was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced.

  8. Impact

    The Mathnasium Way: Understanding that I have made an impact in students’ math learning experience more than I realized

    I was told that I did make a difference in enriching students’ education and that my teaching style combined with the Mathnasium strategies definitely improved the way students felt about math. I did more than just make math easier for students, I did it in a way that no future instructor would be able to replicate.

  9. Strategic communication

    The Mathnasium Way: Providing succinct explanations, understanding how to frame questions so that students think about what they already know, and using visual representations when necessary

    I was able to apply my knowledge of various topics and understand which strategies were the most effective and simplest to communicate. I also learned that drawings and diagrams were extremely useful, and they helped students think outside of the box with similar problems.

  10. Quantitative life skills

    The Mathnasium Way: Clever tricks to do calculations mentally in practical, everyday situations that require math

    Using number sense, I found more effective strategies to solve percents, calculate sales taxes and discounts, find volume and area, and generally be aware of when I can apply math to everyday life in ways I never thought of before.

It's Time To Say Goodbye: Have I Given Up On Songwriting As Well?

Back in June, I discussed why I decided to give up on writing a sprawling literary masterpiece (you can read it on Medium). And now I’m here to talk about my aspiration of writing a song album and how my views of it have changed over the years.

I’ve always been a poet and I’ve played piano since the age of 5. However, I never considered merging my two passions - writing lyrical poetry and composing a melody for it - until I started becoming a huge fan of John Denver and Taylor Swift (who still are musical and lyrical influences to me today). I listened to these artists and thought I could write something very aligned with my own perspective and merge the styles of these two seemingly different (and oftentimes polar opposite) artists.

After downloading Spotify, I discovered dozens of artists that immediately clicked with me. I’m a very selective person when it comes to listening to music, and for reasons unknown, I could tell if I would end up being a huge fan of an artist or not and if an artist has the “it” factor (a very elusive combination of natural talent, a resonant message, spot-on musical arrangements that match the lyrics, and a melody that sticks with you). There wasn’t any in-betweens. Listening to more artists inspired me to write more and become a more versatile songwriter.

When I was in college, I wanted to write a song album. I even have a copy of 14 song lyrics I wrote in 2014, which was my very first attempt at writing a complete album (now that I looked over it, it wasn’t that great at all and could’ve been way better). I arranged guitar chords for those lyrics. I even got to record one song at a music studio (after setting aside a certain amount every week from my leftover lunch money). In retrospect, even when my dream of having a song album on iTunes never came to fruition, I learned how difficult putting together a full album would be if you’re not signed to a record label, especially when you’re a no-name artist who’s just starting out and has never performed live before.

Point being, the song album was a significant part of my aspirations (possibly competing for the number one spot, against my dream of writing a 1,000-page modern literary fiction novel).

But after I graduated from college, my dream of writing songs grew weaker, until I stopped doing it altogether (because of, you know, real world adult problems). I never stopped writing poetry, but the goal of writing an epic song album didn’t really excite me the way it did back in my college days.

I realize now that it might sound like I’m talking about giving up on songwriting and putting my childish dreams to rest for good.

But that’s not the case.

What I’ve given up on is the false hope of gaining thousands of followers. Of performing live. Of being the next Maggie Rogers. Of going viral. Of making millions of dollars from song album royalties alone. Of having my face in a magazine and having articles written about me. Of setting up a home recording studio and learning how to produce something that’s radio-worthy.

I still like to write lyrics. I still like to write songs. It’s an art form that I’m still passionate about. But I’ve given up on the ideas and expectations surrounding it.

I realize that I’m not a good singer. I’m not a good audio engineer. In fact, I don’t know anything about how to use audio recording equipment or how to make recordings sound like what’s on the radio (and those skills definitely can’t be acquired in a few months).

I do want to make an album this year. But it won’t be slick and polished like radio hits. It won’t have a huge marketing team behind it or a very press-worthy story to garner the attention of millions of people overnight. And that’s okay.

I want it to be something simple. Just my voice and one instrument. From my heart. Recorded on an iPhone. Something like “His Daughter” by Molly Kate Kestner.

All I want for myself is to immerse in a state of flow when I’m writing it. And fully experience the internal feeling of creative freedom and complete resonance that no external rewards can ever measure up to. I am doing it purely for personal enjoyment and even if it never gets past my bedroom, it’ll still be a worthwhile experience.

Songwriting is still a very significant part of me. It’s something that has a firm grip on my heart and can’t be easily gotten rid of. But I’ve grown and realized that all along, I love songwriting and not having a professional recording or a solid reputation doesn’t invalidate who I am as a creative individual. If I write songs, I am a songwriter. If I complete a song album after many hours of honing in on my skills to make these songs the very best they can be, I’m a genuine songwriter that has the power to it happen.

My songs may be shared. Or maybe they won’t. Both are okay. But getting it done and creating it in a way that best reflects who I am is all that matters.

If you’re going to do anything, make sure it’s purely for personal enjoyment, and you’ll undoubtedly find a way to make it happen.

That’s the mark of a true artist.

What Does It Mean To Be A Polymath?

Ever since I was a child, I've always been someone with too many interests and performed well in most subjects around the same level (but with English and Math at the very top). I enjoyed reading fictional stories from a wide range of genres and then that love for fiction eventually grew into a love for exploring a variety of topics in literature, music theory, music history, business, entrepreneurship, physics, mathematics, economics, technology, philosophy, spirituality, art, and the interconnection of these things that have the potential to form the foundation of a more ideal future, or at least a better tomorrow than today.

I started reading a few articles on being a modern-day polymath and began to wonder if I am one too.

What causes me to consider myself a polymath?

  1. My interests include writing, literature, poetry, songwriting, music, graphic design, visual arts, web design, digital entrepreneurship, spiritual prophecies, religion, history from alternative perspectives, mathematics, simple philosophy, human behavior, and the general idea of what technology will be like in the future (but I am certainly no engineer or research scientist).

  2. As a blogger, I love to write, but I have an artistic and mathematical approach to things. I pay close attention to detail, yet I view things also from a bird's eye view. I like being equally logical as I am creative.

What are the reasons why I might not be a polymath?

  1. There's too much I don't know.

  2. I do not have enough in-depth or sophisticated knowledge about everything.

  3. I haven't made any groundbreaking discoveries or done extensive research that would revolutionize some aspect of the way humanity evolves and thrives.

  4. I am just a girl with too many interests and nothing substantial to support them (too much breadth and lack of depth).

Types of Polymaths

There are genius polymaths (who are at the pinnacle of society that either have made history or have the potential to make history), expert polymaths (who are currently tackling significant projects with extensive research and are renowned experts in three to five fields), apprentice polymaths (those who have a high level of expertise and have more in-depth knowledge than baby polymaths), basic polymaths (those who are talented in and are interested in five or more things and have the ability to synthesize topics from diverse fields), and people who aren't polymaths at all. If you're well-rounded and have the capacity to learn and apply what you have learned to a personal endeavor (regardless of whether it's well-known or not), then you are a polymath.

What are the minimum qualifications for a basic polymath?

  1. Know about or at least have the natural curiosity to learn about a variety of topics.

  2. Be able to connect seemingly unrelated topics, synthesize points from a variety of fields to form a very compelling argument, and be able to discern the essentials from the extraneous in order to present complex pieces of information and profound ideas in a simple and understandable way.

  3. You need to be good at math (side note: I've seen writers and philosophical bloggers that claim to be polymaths, yet they show no evidence of being good at math or science at all and in fact can only recite historical facts about scientists but cannot solve a math problem or apply any math to their lives). *Fun fact - I actually majored in Math, so I am wary of those who claim to be polymaths when they are only good at communicating.

  4. You need to be a good writer. It doesn't mean you're a popular blogger or famous published writer, but you do have to love writing, be above average, and be able to form your own thoughts and think analytically, yet also do so with style and a distinct writing voice.

  5. You need to have talent in at least one art form (but preferably two or more), be it playing a musical instrument, composing, writing songs, singing, theater, drawing, digital art, filmography, videography, or poetry.

  6. Understand human nature from a perspective that isn't conditioned by popular opinion. Be able to analyze others, predict patterns in behaviors and ways of thinking based on a few cues, understand where they're coming from, and identify core motivations.

  7. You need to be very introspective and self-aware. Even when you overthink yourself and tend to ruminate over what you did, it's far better to be like that than to be oblivious to your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

  8. Have an interest in spirituality, religion, and philosophy. And know a lot about at least two to three spiritual forms, religions, and philosophies.

  9. Understand economics and marketing and be able to avoid being swayed by people that manipulate you for money (or in some other cases, sinister purposes). You are a conscious consumer and a very wary one too.

  10. Have a desire to evolve and thrive, not just survive as a mundane, socially-conditioned consumer that only thinks about jobs, money, being included in a social circle, and material gain.

  11. Your political views are not narrowly defined by either the Democrats or Republicans. You do not enthusiastically rally for either side, nor do you engage in mass hysteria or anger-fueled, emotion-based arguments. Your political view is generally a synthesis of a variety of political systems throughout history and with reasons to back up your argument on why you think a certain system is more effective and/or ideal.

So are you a polymath?

 

8 Things People Of The Present Do Differently

It is no secret that humans are chronic worriers, though some more than others. People who have a hard time letting go of the past definitely worry a lot and overthink all the things they’ve done, which they believe people are judging them for, much to the detriment of their mental health.

But the truth is that it all doesn’t matter. Even when the past has its firm grip on you, there’s nothing beneficial about putting yourself in fear of your future based on what you did wrong in the past, and there is always a chance to change in the present. To start over. To be able to see things for what they are instead of through a lens of dark and unresolved emotions. There’s nothing more freeing than having the ability to pursue anything without any guilt of the past holding you back.

And here are some things people of the present do differently:

  1. They jump right into the things they intend to do on any given day without thinking of all the things that could go wrong, based on something that happened before.

  2. They don’t worry about instantaneous perfection or how others might perceive them because they recognize that in the moment, all that matters is keeping the momentum going.

  3. They are incredibly grateful for where they are now, even when it’s not what they expected in the past. Even when they haven’t fulfilled every wish or whimsy of their past selves.

  4. They’ve come to accept the past for what it is, not because they’ve repressed their memories, but because they’ve allowed themselves to feel what they feel and spend conscious effort in reflecting on certain events to see where they can make room for continuous growth.

  5. They don’t accuse or blame others for their past misfortunes. They recognize that an argument is ineffective when it brings up past events over and over again, especially when it’s used to attack someone’s character and deficiencies.

  6. They get more done. Because they aren’t burdened by who they were before and the expectations that came with it, they are able to go about their days with less time spent on overthinking their decisions and wondering if anything will go wrong.

  7. They plan for the future in a healthy way. They know the importance of having a few major goals that would help them thrive, but they aren’t obsessed with having every little detail planned out or getting upset with how much more work they still need to do to attain that future. Instead, they realize that while having an idea is helpful for being prepared, they ultimately cannot have the final say in how the future will turn out and they’ve embraced uncertainties.

  8. They love who they are and practice self-care by giving themselves enough to enjoy on any given day.

Why Your Dreams Are Making You Discontent

If you’re a perpetual daydreamer, you know what it feels like to spend hours and hours creating a life you’d love in your head (maybe while looking images from Pinterest or blogs). And you probably know how painful it is to stare bleakly into space and being either bored or anxious with your present reality after being swept away from a daydream in which your current struggles are either smaller or nonexistent.

You might think the world outside of you, your current life, or external factors are making you unhappy, bored, or anxious. And you might be thinking that daydreaming about the somedays is going to help you manifest that daydream into real life if those dreams should propel you to work harder to get there.

I’m sorry to break it to you, but your dreams are making you discontent. They’re making you depressed, ungrateful, and downright lazy.

Daydreaming is a coping mechanism which hides your underlying fear of never being good enough, never doing enough, and never proving yourself enough.

Daydreaming diverts your attention from pressing problems that you’re too afraid to face. And these problems often relate to careers, money, and generally having lack of control over these things.

People are motivated by pleasure and comfort - they want to reduce the time spent operating in fight-or-flight mode (which often occurs when they face harsh circumstances, toxic work environments, condescending people, and emergency situations).

But some people aren’t merely satisfied with just pleasure and comfort. These kind of people are motivated by purpose. They want to do something useful so that they feel like their lives have meaning. They want to do it in their own way and not be told how to go about it.

And the best way to do both is to do something you’re good at that challenges you (without being too perplexing), work with supportive and like-minded people, and make a good enough of a livable income to avoid living just in survival mode. Just so you have more control over your life.

However, the truth is, this is a reality for only a few people. Most people are barely hanging by a thread and have no hope of recovery if an emergency should occur. Some people can live comfortably, but they are miserable in their jobs in toxic work environments. And only the few at the very top control the world and keep getting richer for it.

Daydreaming might seem like a reasonable thing to do. To avoid this reality. To avoid the bleakness of the future and all of the horrible things that will happen to the majority of people who are helpless against problems that are too big for them. It feels good for a time, but then it slowly seeps out of you and leaves you empty.

But like it or not, we all have to deal with Social Darwinism in our everyday lives. The strongest and fittest will survive, conquer, and thrive. Those who have no talents, no persistence, no access to opportunities, and no emotional support will end up living in destitution and without any hope of overpassing the strong ones. That’s how life works. That’s how it works in the animal kingdom. And that’s how it works with humanity. Toil, struggle, and more toil and struggle. An endlessly raging battle.

Your daydreams are making you discontent because you have no way of making them real since there are financial, time, and physical constraints. You have no control over situations because much of success depends on being accepted by the right people who can give you opportunities to prove yourself and keep building upon what you already have. You have to prove that you’re good enough, regardless of what your dreams might be. Your dreams don’t matter to people because they want to know how you can help them, not how you can use your dreams to comfort yourself.

You need to shift your awareness from a distant future to right now. And ask yourself honestly how you can improve yourself every day so that you act accordingly whenever difficult situations arise and whenever you have to prove your worth to people in order to ascend higher than you ever would be if you just remain stagnant.

No matter what’s going on in your life, this is a reality that most people have to face. Following your dreams is not the answer. Believing that you’re special and deserving of opportunities is not the answer.

In order to succeed, you need to be able to solve problems in the best way possible with your given constraints. You need to adapt to your environment for a time until you become good enough to make it adapt to you.

In the end, all we have is what’s within us and the more we’re able to evolve into more ideal versions of ourselves, then perhaps we can all have more control over our lives so that we’re not just drifting off into dreamland without facing problems head-on.

And this is what we all have to learn.

A Minimalist Lists Out Her Belongings

Although I’m still not at the point where I can fit everything I own into one suitcase, I have simplified my physical belongings to the essentials and there really is something therapeutic about having all of my belongings right in front of me and being able to see exactly what I have.

Clothing

6 short-sleeved tees (white, black, 2 sky blue, dark blue, light gray)

7 long-sleeved tees (3 black, navy, stone blue, purple, blue stripes)

black tank dress

black shirt dress

stone blue wrap dress

sky blue embroidered dress

gray t-shirt dress

olive green t-shirt dress

4 camis (2 black, 1 white, 1 sky blue)

3 pairs of black leggings

3 sweatshirts (black, sky blue, gray)

2 cashmere sweaters (black and sky blue)

navy & white striped acrylic sweater

sky blue cotton sweater

military green utility jacket

black puffer jacket

cream white down jacket

underwear and socks

Winter Accessories

crocheted cream white wool hat (handmade)

basic navy hat

navy wool gloves

purple ski gloves

3-in-1 white and blue gloves

gray earmuffs

Accessories

black baseball cap

light blue resin ring

Shoes

white sneakers

black and white striped flip-flops

simple black flats

Bags

purse (black, white, and blue pattern)

teal backpack

2 duffle bags (blue, purple)

Technology

21.5” iMac

jet black iPhone 7

blue iPod Touch 5

Canon T6

white LED desk lamp

Instrument

Guitalele

Notebooks/Miscellaneous

white marble journal

blue bullet journal

dark blue spiral-bound journal

2 composition books

notepad

forms and documents folder

college diploma

various office supplies: pens, pencils, colored pencils, stapler, erasers

Stuffed Animals

Not listed because who’s interested in those? I have a bunch of mice. They all fit into one blue duffle bag.

Why aren’t there any CDs or Books?

I use my computer and phone to read and listen to music. I’ve digitized my media collection.

Why I Deleted My Twitter

*Update: I reactivated my Twitter, but much of my thoughts and criticisms on it are still true

So I did something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time and got rid of Twitter!

This June, I made a Twitter account that ended up gaining only 10 followers. Back in the day (circa 2012), it was easy for me to gain a high number of followers (I think I had about 100 when I first made a Twitter).

Nowadays, it’s so incredibly common for bloggers, social media specialists, and digital marketers to say that you need to be active on all social media in order to get more sales, be seen as competent enough to be employed, and show how relevant you are in your industry. They all advocate having the big three social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), but if you can add more (Tumblr, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.) then that would show that you’re social media-savvy and even better than someone who has only three accounts.

I have a problem with this idea. I find it incredibly exhausting when I have to update three social media accounts with the same information. I also find that Twitter is a complete waste of time because I gain nothing but spam from being on there.

As a new blogger and someone who’s just starting out in the most competitive year yet for bloggers and content creators who also wear many hats (editor, digital marketer, social media manager, graphic designer, SEO analyst, web designer, CEO, etc.), it is incredibly discouraging to keep up with something that I don’t gain any value from, and I don’t want to promote my Twitter account because nobody wants to be sold to and there are already too many people trying to promote their own social media that it comes across as spammy and attention-seeking. Too many people want to be a celebrity on the Internet and everyone wants to gain a follow from everyone. I also don’t think it’s effective to spread myself too thin across three social media accounts because I’d rather focus on setting myself apart from the crowd of bloggers, have more quiet time unplugged, and enjoy my life without the pressure to be active on a social media account that serves no purpose for my long-term goals.

Here are 15 reasons why I deleted my Twitter for good:

  1. Spam and incredibly meaningless comments/conversations

  2. Disingenuous and one-sided relationships (I’m following you only because I think you want to follow me, but if you don’t follow me within the next two weeks, I’ll unfollow you)

  3. I use relevant hashtags, but they aren’t as effective as they were in 2012. I have probably tweeted 100 times and only gained 10 followers.

  4. The same information can easily be posted on Instagram (which I do prefer using)

  5. I prefer to read long blog posts, thoughtful essays, and articles. I also prefer to read short quotes when they’re presented in a visually-appealing manner (hello, Instagram).

  6. So much pressure to be everywhere and be everything to everyone

  7. I have no interest in seeing redundant information that I can get somewhere else

  8. Hate-fueled debates and mass hysteria

  9. Annoying GIFs and trashy, poorly-edited images that aren’t relevant

  10. There’s the pressure to follow the same people three times (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) just to show that I’m a loyal fan, but I don’t even read their tweets or go to their Facebook page

  11. Relying on Twitter for updates is a lazy practice, and I think that using Instagram Stories is a more engaging and efficient way to keep followers updated

  12. I need to go to bit url every time I want to post a link (for me, this is a small annoyance)

  13. According to Derek Thompson in “The Unbearable Lightness of Tweeting,” only 1% click on links to articles. Just 1% and spending an hour on Twitter trying to look smart and relevant does not justify itself because who really cares about the underdogs when the superstars get all the attention?

  14. I’m the type of person that prefers visiting a writer’s website directly for updates, not Twitter, and I personally believe that you’re a more loyal follower if you visit a few of your favorite writers’ websites instead of mindlessly following a bunch of people you don’t really care about

  15. I am not against companies using Twitter, I just don’t personally find any use for it myself because I have more essential things to do

The Universe of Nothing: A Short Story

In the end, there is nothing. There is no sea of nothing. There is neither absence nor the presence of nothing, but nothing.

The sun that has once emitted its cosmic rays delivering its light for all to see shines no more and has faded from a glorious star to piles of dust. The moon that has enchanted man and living creatures since the dawn of time with its haunting, luminous glow has crumbled into rocks and ashes. The stars that once shone from millions of light years away have faded back to the dust that once danced with sparkling crowns in unity across the sky. The planets that once revolved around the sun no longer exist. Perhaps they have fallen out of the orbit before the great hole in the center of the universe swallowed every celestial body that has ever existed. The Universe has folded itself into nothing, yet the blackness, the absence of the Universe, knows no bounds.

A lone being stands on the other side of this hole. He lives on, breathing, dreaming, pondering…Lost in his thoughts, he turns his head around, hoping to find something familiar, at least a fragment of a lost memory in the empty blackness surrounding him. He calls out the names of his loved ones, but the void swallows them whole, while a sense of despair washes over him like the black waves of the sea of shadows…the shadows of oblivion. The oblivion that has haunted him night and day, but time has forgotten all what once was remembered.

There is no universe to exist upon, yet he finds it paradoxical that he is still in existence. To ensure that this is so, he takes a gulp of air, inhales, and exhales…But if the Universe has ceased to exist, there is no air to breathe…and he shouldn’t be feeling what he is currently perceiving to be feeling...

Yet I am still breathing…I feel the rush of air in my lungs, though there is none…Why?

His mind spins. But his body is still.

His bones creak with age and the weight of the universe, yet his youthful visage forms a blank stare. He is breathing…yet he wonders why he is still breathing if there is no air left to breathe…if all of the air around him has collapsed into nothing…

Why am I here? Why do I breathe if there is nothing to breathe? Why do I live if the Universe is neither living nor dead? Why am I aware of my own consciousness when I should be experiencing the consciousness of the state of being unaware of this state of mind? Am I so lost that I am spinning around in oblivion with nothing to reach for, nothing to dream of…nothing to exist for.

He closes his eyes and lets his mind wander above the blackness his hollow body is imprisoned in…

Inauthenticity In Social Media, An Alternate Approach To Selling, And Clarifying My Goals As A New Blogger

Generic (Oversimplified) Marketing Formula

Focusing on growth is the goal of marketing and social media serves as a means to an end and that end is profit. At least to most companies, more followers = more potential customers = more profit.

Mathematically, this makes sense. After all, the more followers you gain as a result of social media marketing efforts, the more potential customers you have, and the higher the chances will be for them to pay for your services and/or products.

As A Struggling Teen Novelist

However, for me, as an individual, I’ve been struggling for years to gain followers authentically and keep them engaged with my content.

When I was 19, I wrote my first novel under a pen name and made a Twitter account solely for gaining potential customers and Instagram wasn’t really huge back then.

I didn’t know any better. I looked at the fanbases of my most favorite authors who wrote the same genre of books and followed a bunch of random people, in hopes that they’d follow me back.

I gained close to 1,000 followers, but that didn’t mean my book sold well (most of the money I made were from family members who bought a copy but weren’t big readers).

I know why I failed. A) my book simply wasn’t good and B) I didn’t have an effective marketing strategy.

My (Sorry) Attempt At Blogging

I started a blog on WordPress after a very dark time in my life (too personal). I blogged whenever I felt like it and churned out so many words each day, so much that I gained 100+ followers very quickly because I wrote about a variety of topics and didn’t really focus much on niche topics. All I did was write random autobiographical posts and somehow they struck a chord with people. I didn’t even make any social media accounts whatsoever.

Starting All Over Again

Today, as a digitally-obsessed, entrepreneurial-minded writer, I’m starting from scratch. I no longer recycle content from five years ago because it’s no longer relevant to me. Even though it’s 2018, and I’ve had an officially late entrance to the blogging world, I know that my experiences of trial-and-error as a nerdy girl just exploring various topics of interest have somehow paid off, and I’ve evolved much more than I give myself credit for.

I’ve customized my own website that reflects who I am as a digital creative (minimalist, pragmatic, detail-oriented, big-picture-oriented). I’ve created a theme for my Instagram account to ensure that there’s consistency with my personal brand. I focus on a few niche topics (minimalism, mental health, digital creativity, entrepreneurship) that intersect and show who I am as a writer in the digital sphere.

However, even after poring over hundreds of articles and blog posts about digital content marketing, I’m still uneasy about social media aspect of it.

I suck at growing a significant number of followers.

On Instagram, I usually gain 1–3 followers a day and lose 3–5 a day (mainly because of spam accounts).

On Twitter, I am still stagnant around 10 followers.

Only 6 people like my Facebook page.

I try to reassure myself that I’ve only had my Instagram and Twitter for about a week and that growth takes time, especially if it’s genuine.

A lot of bloggers recommend following a bunch of people with similar interests.

But I refuse to play the “If you follow me, I’ll follow you, and if I follow you, I want you to follow me” game. It feels sleazy. It makes me sick. And it’s like usury.

Most of all, it’s inauthentic.

I don’t expect much from Twitter because personally, it’s my least favorite social media, but I’ve read somewhere that it’s very vital for any online writing business. So I keep it just so I can have a place to share succinct updates.

I also don’t expect much from Facebook either.

However, my main focus is on Instagram. Within three days of reactivating my old Instagram account, I have gained roughly 40+ followers, which is pretty impressive, given how un-Instagram-savvy I am and how much other people seem to grow in the thousands overnight.

I don’t want to like posts or follow people if I’m not genuinely interested in their content.

I don’t want to pretend to be best buddies with people I can’t relate to.

That’s just me. I think people put too much emphasis on gaining followers, as if gaining them is like gaining money. It’s just using people for the money they give.

Right now, I’m focusing more on creating content and exploring a variety of topics that I haven’t discussed on blogs before and would like to expand my knowledge just for pure enjoyment. I think too much of the blogging world has morphed into a monstrous capitalist machine in which bloggers lie to their followers and scam them by promoting products that most people don’t need, placating them with empty feel-good words that have been circulating around the Internet too much, and posting photos that damage the self-esteem of aspiring bloggers who think they’re destined to fail because they aren’t photogenic or can’t afford to customize their home décor with a style that’s fitting only for catalogs and not for real life.

Maybe I’m just cynical. But I’ve lost interest in many bloggers and social media marketers because their ultimate goal is to sell a lifestyle and make money off of people that are easily influenced by them, those who are deep down, unsatisfied with their life and want to find an easier way to “follow their dreams.” 

This doesn’t upset me. In fact, it encourages me as a digital creative to work harder, create more original content, express thoughts from a variety of different angles, learn and share my thoughts on things out of curiosity not just for profit, exemplify modern minimalism at its most unembellished and unfiltered state, and do all of this from an exploratory mindset.

I won’t churn out cheaply designed and poorly-researched manuals about how to make money from blogging.

I won’t have every other blog post talk about formulaic steps about achieving your dream life.

I also won’t make scammy online courses about how to make money blogging or encourage students to make their own scammy online courses about how to make money blogging (and then have the cycle metastasize throughout the already-cancerous web).

I won’t post envy-inducing photos on Instagram.

I have very high expectations for myself as a blogger and want to adhere to the rules I set for myself in all that I do.

  1. Write interesting content in a clear, thought-provoking, and engaging manner.

  2. Create an ingenious writing system that ensures that takes into account my curiosity, desire to learn, and determination to evolve in the process.

  3. Establish myself as someone who’s trustworthy, genuine, and passionate about sharing thoughtful expressions with purposeful meaning.

  4. Have everything (including seemingly unrelated topics) connect to form a digital mosaic of who I am as an artist, thinker, and creator of my own digital space.

Concluding Thoughts

In order to succeed in an overcrowded sphere, you must break a few rules and have a clear strategy with realistic end goals that would enable you to maximize your creative energy, present ideas in a way that captivates people who genuinely view you as a revolutionary thought leader (and not just a scammy salesperson), and pursue anything creative online with a combination of passion, grit, and unique individuality, which all need to be grounded in a concrete purpose. The numbers are irrelevant — what matters most is connecting with people that actually want to buy your content because they are captivated by the infectious energy and livelihood of your persona and the things you create that add genuine value to their lives.

10 Things Simple Living Advocates Do

1. Work on side hustles. Minimalists are the kings and queens of side hustles. They may write blogs, novels, articles, inspirational books, and songs for both personal fulfillment and extra income. They may have a YouTube channel or podcast where they share their ideas. They would rather create their own media than consume media made by mega-corporations. They also may have some side businesses that involve personal branding, creative advertising, web development, coding productivity apps, or making products that are distinct from what is mass-produced on the market.

2. Spend less time doing chores. While many argue that not working on chores all the time is considered lazy, minimalists are accomplished in making their homes look neater and doing less to upkeep it. They have less stuff, they choose to live in smaller spaces, they have smaller yards, and they are selective about the people they invite over, so they don't need to use their homes to impress others.

3. Wear plain clothes in neutral colors. Minimalists are huge advocates of capsule wardrobes and wearing only what is comfortable and practical. They don't focus too much on how they look because it is a waste of time and energy. However, they do dress better in less time because they know what fits them and what colors look best on them and don't waste time on chasing trends or wearing things that aren't suited for their day-to-day lives.

4. Regularly donate or sell things they don't use. They like to donate and sell things to get rid of clutter and make room for things that are more important to them.

5. Say no more often to things that do not matter to them. Going to the mall on Black Friday? No. That holiday party with people you barely know? No. That dinner party hosted by someone powerful who intimidates you? No thanks. That vacation to a touristy part of a big city with your friend? No way. Minimalists like to say no and keep their schedules uncluttered, so that they have more time to devote to more important activities like relaxation, being alone, being with people who are most dear to them, and working on their side hustles.

6. Read minimalism blogs and watch minimalism videos. They like to learn about new ways to keep organized, maintain a budget, and find more meaning in a slower-paced lifestyle. 

7. See the "bigger picture" of life. They understand that life is too short to keep up with the rat race, they aren't guaranteed tomorrow, their life doesn't have to follow a standard formula, and focusing on how life looks to others can make one feel more anxious and depressed. They don't get caught up in the little details or fuss over how things don't look perfect enough. All these things are fleeting and feeling stressed out over things that don't last is a waste of time, burdensome, and unnecessary.

8. Value time more than money. They would rather find a smart way to earn more money in less time. They would rather spend time on something they enjoy than fill their schedules to the brim. They know that time is more valuable than money because they can never regain the time that they lost doing something that isn't essential to them. 

9. Never feel bored. Feeling bored is a crime. Boredom is why most people go shopping for things they don't need, spend too much time watching television, compare themselves to others on social media, and believe that external things will make them happy. Minimalists don't feel uneasy when they find themselves sitting still, nor do they seek out entertainment for every waking moment of the day. They understand that stillness is beneficial and consuming things just to alleviate boredom won't cure feelings of emptiness inside.

10. Have a mindset of abundance, not scarcity. They recognize that they have potential to give something of value to the world and inspire others to think and live differently from the rest of society. They believe that life is more than just surviving by competing with others for scarce resources. They know that making decisions out of fear and lack will only worsen their lives and never give them a sense of peace or fulfillment.

26 Toxic Ideas That Hold You Back

1. You are only worth something if you can give a quantitative measure of the result.

2. Coping mechanisms will make you feel better.

3. Everybody is constantly evaluating you and waiting for you to fall.

4. How you look and present yourself is everything.

5. Sucking up to the "right" people is the only way to keep your position.

6. It makes you look selfish and entitled if you ask for anything that will contribute to your holistic wellbeing.

7. You can't follow your dreams because dreamers are out of touch with reality. But you also won't do well in a corporate job because you're not competitive enough. You're destined to fail, period.

8. You need to do things you hate in order for you to deserve things that you love.

9. By keeping up with everyone else, your survival is guaranteed.

10. Your passions don't matter. 

11. If you aren't working, you're wasting time.

12. If you work hard enough, you will succeed. 

13. You need to prove that you are worthy of success.

14. What other people think of you is far more important than what you think of yourself.

15. What you do in the past will determine where you'll be in the future.

16. You are only worth something if you are better than most people.

17. All mistakes are unforgivable. People will remember them regardless of whether or not you improve.

18. You need to spend time with people you don't like just to get somewhere in life.

19. One criticism of you is worth more than 100 praises. It defines you.

20. Nobody is going to give you a chance, so you need to be either very charismatic and manipulative or very callous and competitive to get people's attention.

21. You can't be genuine or real with others because they'll use that against you.

22. You can't be fulfilled unless you can quantify your achievements and other people can validate your success.

23. If you'd rather spend most of your time alone, then you must be abnormal and sad.

24. You must look happy 100% of the time and show it.

25. Being remembered for what you do is everything in life.

26. Shoving your true feelings under the rug is the only way to avoid letting them affect you.

A Disconnect

The more I exert my willpower, the greater the unrest churns and swirls within me, until I become the storm myself. I am faced with great resistance and forces of paralysis. I find myself growing impatient as the timing imposed upon me squeezes me to the bone. 

My heart lashes out, but I squeeze my hands together, and my body merely goes rigid, and my usual reserved face deepens into a frown. I grow still and my mind is at war. 

I have to come to terms with the expectations I have for myself and the expectations of the should’s and must have’s set by society and people that aren’t satisfied with what I do.  

But I myself am quite uncertain about who I am. 

I think the most continuous problem is my feeling of inadequacy in comparison to others who are mature, outwardly successful, and mentally stable enough to soldier through intense competition for the coveted spots of superiority. 

But I’m everything they’re not. And they’re everything I’m not. 

I get stifled and my spirit breaks under survivalist, ego-based competition. I drown in my seas of sensitivity and cannot fathom how callous the world can be. I do not want to live a life pitted against others for survival and earning acceptance by those in control. That way of life was imposed on me, and I felt paralyzed by bottomless caverns of despair, loss of myself, and bleakness. 

What is the point if I will be forgotten in the end? 

I am a simple artist.  I prefer self-reflection over competition. I prefer honesty of emotions over fake happiness. And I most definitely prefer creating what I love over being used as a means to an end.

What if I wrote all that was in my heart and held nothing back and showed no shame? What if I rested and let all anxious feelings flee from me? What if I did things that came naturally, instead of forcing myself to do something for the sake of approval? 

I don’t know. I’m thinking too much about this. I tend to overthink everything. 

 I find a disconnect between who I was conditioned to be and who I really am. 

But it’s okay. I am who I am and just need to let go of what I think I should be.  

And just be.  

 

10 Reasons Why You Are Stuck, Lost, and Helpless (and How You Can Change That)

1. You were indoctrinated to believe that failure and scarcity are guaranteed to happen to you, if you don't follow this path: get good grades, study something that's in demand, be anyone but yourself, work hard, and get any job just for the salary, without considering whether you like it or not.

As humans, we operate to avoid pain, seek pleasure and comfort, and fit into the groups we identify with. Because of the way the modern world is structured, we are conditioned to follow a certain path to prove how useful we are to society, which causes the majority of people to panic when they see someone they know trying to forge their own path, exit the rat race, and actually take the time to stop and reflect on the value they can bring.

2. Throughout childhood, youth, and now in adulthood, you never quite fit in, and no matter how hard you tried, it felt unnatural and forced, so you believe that it's wrong even to introduce yourself because you think you need to be "worthy" (be 10x better than everyone) for people to consider even talking to you.

You know that success is 10% being good at something and finding ways to improve, 10% persistence, and 80% networking. You have tried to master the first two, but you are afraid to introduce yourself to people who could potentially open the doors to opportunities because you think that you have to be as perfect as you possibly can be or else they'd not want to help you out. This fear of insufficiency stems from insecurity and the obsession with comparing your beginning to someone else's middle. As a result, you self-sabotage and rob yourself of the chance to better your circumstances because of your overwhelming need to prove that you can be better than the people who have what you want (which causes you believe that you need to do someone else's 5-years' worth of work in a month just to get your foot in the door).

3. You wake up too late and don't get a restful sleep. You either sleep too little or too much.

You have irregular sleeping times and often feel groggy throughout the day, which makes you less capable of doing the work that you could potentially be doing. You know you should wake up early, but you are unable to because fatigue has more power over you. This causes you to be helpless and uninspired.

4. You waste time and money on entertainment. 

Entertainment never fills you. It only provides a temporary state of "happiness," which really isn't happiness at all because it is escape from reality. If you don't find your way back to reality, reality will come back to you. And reality pains you, so the cycle repeats, until you realize that you are stuck but are too afraid to do anything about it.

5. You are too busy trying to be two (or more) different types of people - what you already are, what your ideal future self would be, what society expects you to be, what your parents expect you to be, etc.

You may have an idea of what you'd want in life (aside from stability, you want to establish an emergency-proof way of living, so that you can enjoy life and afford to slow down and not be in such a hurry to fight for survival), but your current circumstances, family situation, and personal struggles cause you to put off your dream for tomorrow day after day, until you are crippled by complacency and fear, so you start to believe that you cannot change your life at all unless someone approves of your life choices. 

6. You allow the past to hold you down, ruminate over your failures, and blame yourself for not making progress. 

You ruminate over every little detail of your past, no matter how insignificant or trivial they may be today. You think more about the "should have's" rather than the "to do's," and allow the past to paralyze you and control how you live today. You operate in fight-or-flight mode and are too scared to make a small change to improve your life because you believe that your mistakes are too difficult to overcome.

7. You are either too stingy with the money you already have and possess a scarcity mindset, which stresses you out and causes you to operate in fight-or-flight mode and miss out on many opportunities that could increase your earning potential OR you spend like there's no tomorrow on things that do not help you get closer to your goals.

You may be afraid to spend money on nice clothing, so you hide in your house and don't make an effort to go out and meet professionals that work in a field you want to work in. You may be afraid to drive because you're worried that you'll get into an accident or pay more for maintenance. You believe that you won't ever make money in the future, so you scrimp and save like a mad person, and but these actions do nothing to ease your worries of having enough because savings are finite and will be depleted at some point in time. Saving alone won't help you, it will only hold you back and rob you of your sanity and energy. You need to focus more on what will increase your income like improving your skills, maximize your earning potential, and not be afraid to invest in yourself (whether it's buying a book, signing up for workshops, attending conferences, buying a nice suit, or buying software packages). It is unrealistic to expect that being a cheapskate without income will get you ahead.

On the flip side, people who feel like they lack control often spend like there's no tomorrow because they think that the future won't arrive and all they have to do is enjoy today, since today's all they have control over. This also causes them to remain stagnant and stuck in life.

8. You know what you should be doing to better yourself, but your fear of failure keeps you stuck.

You know what steps you need to take (after reading tons of self-help books and articles), but you are afraid of change because change means being uncomfortable and possibly failing in whatever you're trying to accomplish. 

9. You seek comfort more than intrinsic fulfillment. 

You allow fear to be your dictator, and this causes you to remain helpless in a situation where you can barely afford to pay bills, you are always rushing to one place to the next, you cannot even take five minutes to rest and evaluate your life, and you feel like other people's care for you is contingent on whether or not you do as they say. And remaining in this toxic environment causes you to believe that you'll always be helpless and you'll never have time to build a stable foundation for yourself because you always fear that someone's always evaluating you and has the power to cut you off. Thus, you lie to yourself and say that you are content with just living in comfort and getting by. 

10. You haven't been honest with yourself or going after what you want.

You allowed your parents to pick your major for you, which caused you to be so anxious and caught up with avoiding failure that you actually are less successful than those who know their strengths and are able to market themselves, regardless of what statistics say. You picked a job that you are barely able to handle because it isn't a good fit and you can't seem to find the time or energy to learn new skills that would help you find a better one, since you are afraid that you won't be able to pay the bills. You haven't been putting yourself out there because you think you are unworthy to show what you are capable of, since you don't believe that you are capable of anything, which stems from the feeling that others are ahead of you and you can never catch up. 

You need to be honest with yourself by identifying three key things: what you're good at, what kind of place you can excel in, and what energizes you. There's absolutely no room for fearing what other people think, fear of never being able to succeed, and fear of running out of resources for basic survival. These fears keep you stuck where you are, and you need to recognize that you need to start being honest with yourself, adapting your vision to current market demands, and sharing your story with the right people.

How You Can Change

A lot of these problems are rooted in fear. Fear causes us to stagnate and remain in less-than-favorable circumstances both through our own perceptions of reality (one common belief is that failure is guaranteed for the masses, while success is only reserved for the elite) and through the way we've been conditioned to live. And the scarcity mindset causes people to believe that they'll never succeed or ever make money in the future, so they remain in places where they cannot excel or build genuine relationships. But you need to recognize that even though the "system" feeds upon people's fears, blaming those above you will only make you even more helpless, resentful, and bitter. This will only you further away from finding opportunities, since that kind of attitude is repulsive and people will not want to help you out, if they think that you have nothing to contribute. 

If you believe that change can happen in one day, you will remain stuck because change is overwhelming, especially if you are so used to feeling helpless for much of your life and can't find time to make choices that would help you prosper. Change must happen to small increments in order for you to make progress. 

  1. Know your limits. Eliminate what you are wasting time on and understand that you cannot be impossibly perfect to everyone.

  2. Know the top three fields that you can excel in. And don't just pick any random job or scramble around in a fight-or-flight mode.

  3. Identify what you can improve on and focus on being better than yesterday.

  4. Communicate with people and tell them what you have to offer.

  5. Establish a daily routine that facilitates the attainment of your long-term goals.

Feelings of being stuck, lost, and helpless may never seem to go away. But if you have a job you enjoy, have pursuits along the side that you're passionate about, and connect with people who truly understand you, you are better equipped to handle difficult life circumstances.

Five Essential Elements of a Singer-Songwriter Album

For those of you who are singer-songwriters (or aspire to become one), your end goal is probably to create a soulful, raw, and earth-shattering masterpiece that reflects who you are as a creative individual, weaves in poetic symbolism with captivating storytelling in a way that no other lyricists can replicate, synthesizes a variety of styles into a sound that is distinctly yours, and could potentially leave even the most abrasive of critics shaken to their core with all of their usual negative comments, which they reserve for 99% of artists, pounded into dust. 

You have grand dreams, and you think that those other singer-songwriters who merely put out trite bubblegum songs with not much of a fascinating backstory to them won't make it, and even the critics agree. Now before you ride off into the sunset on your high horse and claim that you are "deeper" than other songwriters who have either gone viral or keep putting out the same unoriginal fluff that is entirely forgettable, you need to remember that complexity and comparing yourself to other people will hold you back.

And I want you to succeed and genuinely enjoy what you’re doing without being dissatisfied with others around you. I want you to master the art of songwriting and create something so damn memorable and legendary that it gives me hope for the future of music. I'm waiting to hear you bleed your story and reveal your personal revelations through a collection of songs crafted in the most poignant way possible.

So here are the five absolutely critical essentials for developing, creating, and finally mastering that masterpiece that's just waiting to burst out of your heart and soar like that rare breed of bird that sings the songs that are both familiar and unfamiliar, with your signature style.

1. Profound lyrics that are neither too pretentious, nor simplistic - on a variety of topics (and not 99% love or break-up songs)

I watch a lot of reviews by music critics, and I can say for sure that not many artists can be so "on point" with their lyrics. Some lyrics are littered with clichés that make even the most happy-go-lucky of people cringe. On the other extreme, some lyrics are full of pretentious mumbo-jumbo written in such a clunky and convoluted way that they disrupt the whole song and make people fall asleep. You need to let go of the belief that you have to be "deep" songwriter because sometimes the most profound of messages can be written with simple words phrased in a magical sort of way that only you can craft once you've developed your writing style enough. You also need to push yourself and express ideas in an original way and think beyond the limiting confines of platitudes that we've all heard before in cheesy songs (and are not too keen about hearing again). And please do not write every single song about love or breaking up. Write about social issues, your personal revelations about life, feeling enlightened for the first time, the depths of your manic depression, reflecting on your worst and best memories, encounters with spiritual forces, your obsessions with paradoxes...whatever you want as long as you write about it in a lyrical way.

2. Brutal honesty and raw emotions that can be heard in your voice

The best singer-songwriters aren't the ones who are technically perfect (you  know, the ones who have perfect pitch and has a brilliant, rich operatic voices). The most distinct and memorable singer-songwriters have this raw and vulnerable quality in their voice because they sing with so much damn emotion that it makes you break down and cry along with them (or cry tears of joy, depending on the song and what it's about). These are the singer-songwriters that you think of as kindred spirits that always there for you both at the best and worst moments of your life. Evoking strong emotions within the listener is a surefire way to make you stand out and be more memorable than those who are merely good at singing.

3. Distinct melodies that instantly captivates the listener, keeps them in tune with the song, and delivers a sense of closure

There are many singer-songwriters in the world who have accomplished the art of writing lyrics and singing in a way that evokes breadth and depth of emotions. However, a lot of them have melodies that aren't very memorable and fail to stick out from the rest of the songs they've created and sound very similar to hundreds of other artists of their genre. You need to develop an ear for a good melody and ensure that the listener doesn't grow bored of the song within the first five seconds or thinks that you sound the same as other singer-songwriters. Though you don't have to be an expert in music theory, some intermediate knowledge and composing skills are essential for understanding the way a song is supposed to be structured.

4. A musical style that combines influences from a variety of genres that you like best, but rather than sounding like a jarring mishmash of everything you've heard before, it combines the nuances of each favorite genre in a delicate and seamlessly crafted way with laser-sharp and precise production

This is probably the most difficult aspect of songwriting - discovering your sound and transforming that idea of your sound in your head into something producible on music production software (and this takes time and a lot of long, sleepless nights). This is something that has to be individualized and only you can feel within you when everything you've been experimenting with finally clicks and resonates with who you truly are as a person and as an artist of illustrious mastery.

5. Marketability 

This probably most artists' least favorite part of crafting a song album, but it is absolutely critical and can make or break your musical career. A very eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing, tactful design, and distinct cover that reflects who you are as an artist is a must (because people do judge based on what you put on the cover of your CD and often choose not to buy it). And before you even create the album, you need to identify who needs to listen to what you have to say, which artist's fanbase is most likely to resonate with your story, and how you are going to deliver that story to them (social media, web design, and side projects that help them get to know who you are as an individual first and as an artist second). 

By combining all of these five elements of putting together an album from start to finish, you'll be a force to be reckoned with in the music world - but if that's not what you're aiming for, you'll become a brilliantly evocative artist that is able to heal those who are hurting and want to be understood. And regardless of whether or not you achieve any measurable end results, that's got to be the most worthwhile and fulfilling accomplishment of all.

 

 

The Five Types of Journals You Need To Keep Your Life Organized

A Bullet Journal

Bullet journals are great for having all of your important pieces of information in one place. You can customize your bullet journal, but an organized and detailed one will generally have these things:

  1. Building a customized calendar and/or planner that works for you and helps to keep track of important appointments, your work schedule, vacations, major changes, etc.

  2. Keeping track of your passwords and usernames (so that you don't scribble them down on random pieces of torn up paper - not only is this unsafe, but it also is very disorganized)

  3. Making charts to keep track of things (some examples include budget trackers, a wish list, a grocery list, meal plan)

  4. Daily and weekly to-do lists

  5. Any super important things related to planning that you wish to include

A Moleskine Journal

For anyone who loves writing, a Moleskine notebook is wonderful for keeping track of things that you want to write about, ideas for future writings, and anything that inspires you in the moment that you don't want to forget about later.

A Pretty Journal With a Cover Design That Is Visually Appealing

For me, personally, DesignWorks Ink makes some pretty amazing journals with high-quality paper and gorgeous covers. I highly recommend them.

This journal is meant for you to express yourself honestly, pour out your heart, and write down unfiltered thoughts.

A Composition Book

This is recommended for keeping track of what you learn (such as coding, a foreign language, marketing, or any concrete skill). 

A Small Notepad

If you don't carry all of your notebooks or journals around on a daily basis, a small notepad (you can find $0.50 ones at Wal-Mart) is very useful for jotting down quick notes that you can go over later. Or maybe, when you're on the phone and you need to write something down before you forget it, it's great to have a small notepad with you at all times.

Five Reasons Why Introverted Empaths Need A Lot of Time Alone

1. Being around a lot of people for prolonged periods of time drains them of their energy. 

Since they are both introverts and empaths, they have a strong need to be alone so they can work on pursuits that are solely for themselves. If they spend too much time trying to meet the demands of so many others, they will reach the point where they will snap from anger and exhaustion because as introverts, their energy comes from being in tune with their inner selves and as empaths, absorbing the feelings and stress from other people robs them of their own energy. 

2. They need time to recalibrate themselves, and lack of alone time causes them to feel directionless.

Introverted empaths love their alone time and the feeling of rejuvenation that comes from re-organizing their lives down to the finest details, meditating, reflecting on their direction in life, and doing creative activities that energize them because when they are alone, they are able to be honest with themselves without fear of absorbing any negative energy from others or anything external swaying them away from their path.

3. They flourish best when they are in the comfort of their own room. 

Introverted empaths can be paradoxical in nature - they love being by themselves so much, yet they are finely attuned to the emotions and needs of others. They have a hard time saying no to requests because they believe that others would think that they are neglectful if they refuse to help out. However, doing too much of this drains them of their energy since they thrive when they act upon their internal energy rather than the external - they want to flourish on their own terms and not be weighed down by trying to appease everyone, which involves attending to even the most frivolous of things just to avoid the feeling of others complaining about them.

4. They will erupt if they feel stuck in a life that doesn't align with their nature.

Introverted empaths who are stuck in difficult circumstances often erupt or run away if they feel constrained by those around them, especially by those who don't leave them alone. If they are stuck in a life that pulls them down, they operate in fight-or-flight mode (this is why they erupt when they are in fight mode and why they run away when they are in flight mode). If their current circumstances do not allow any room for personal growth, they will remain unhappy rambling around like a helpless creature competing with others for survival and suffer from being treated poorly by those who dehumanize them (but those who mock them for not doing better in life are the major reason why they aren't growing - introverted empaths need time to be creative and find better ways to thrive, but they can't do this when someone is micromanaging them, being condescending, and demanding them to give up on their quest for fulfillment).

5. They need power, but not in a conventional sense.

They despise trading their time for money, their energy for others' approval, and their dreams for other people's control over them. They hate accommodating those that are only condescending towards them and always have something negative to say, especially about their vision for the pursuit of creative endeavors and personal growth. This is not to be confused with entitlement or wanting everything to go their way. Introverted empaths can be highly dedicated to their jobs because their intrinsic motivation pushes them to be better for the sake of the work itself, not for extrinsic rewards. Introverted empaths can be great parents and great caretakers. However, if they are expected to remain servile to those that belittle them and destructively criticize them, they will lash out and feel resentful for having their power taken away. 

25 Signs of Emotional Paralysis

Emotional paralysis is an energy-depleting, soul-crushing combination of anxiety, depression, fear of the future, rumination over the past, and an all-consuming guilt. Think of it as a hybrid beast that tries to strangle you and prevent you from moving on, even during your sleep. Having it doesn't make you unusual or mentally ill - all of us suffer from it to varying degrees because it is an inevitable part of being human (and I distrust those who claim that there are treatments and medications that can automatically "fix what is wrong" or "make that person normal"). However, some of us grew up feeling more emotionally paralyzed than others, depending on the severity of tension between the external self that tries to meet the demands of survival in a certain environment and the internal self that strives and wrestles against external circumstances with the purpose of creating a genuine life. 

Growing up emotionally paralyzed can be taxing for children and these signs often carry on through adulthood, which can prevent adults from being fully immersed and engaged in their present lives. The effects can be crippling at best and devastating at worst. 

Here are the 25 common signs of emotional paralysis:

1. You allow fear of uncertainty make decisions for you because you are so paralyzed by the fear of failure. You don't even try anything new that you want to do, since you have a "fail-or-stay-where-I-am" mentality.

2. You mentally freeze any time your inner self tries to initiate a change. As a result, change doesn't occur for days, weeks, months, or even years. 

3. You expect most authority figures to shoot you down or belittle you, regardless of whatever you do or don't do, so you often tremble, slouch, and look at the floor whenever you are in their presence, but you often try to find ways to avoid them at all costs.

4. You keep putting off your passion projects because someone else said they were childish games that you were destined to lose.

5. You feel like you need to justify yourself to be worthy of someone's approval. This makes you sick and angry, but you feel helpless and are unable to move forward, since you believe the world operates this way.

6. It is difficult for you to wake up in the morning. You have very irregular sleeping and waking times. 

7. You spend hours looking at and envying other people's lives, especially those who have lives that you wish you had, but you are frozen immediately after you try to step out of your consumption zone and move towards your creation zone.

8. No matter how old you get, you still feel like a scared, little child.

9. When you go through life not trying your best (because of fear of failure), people misjudge you as "entitled," but you actually are the opposite - you think you are unworthy of asking for what you want. Your defense mechanism involves trying to be as small as possible, never asking for anything until you think you've worked enough for it (but because of lack of confidence, you don't ever think you do).

10. You lack confidence and believe that you're worse off than you really are because other people's success paralyzes you and makes you think that you can't ever catch up.

11. You catastrophize the outcome of even a tiny action that has no relation to whatever you're afraid could potentially happen. 

12. You often deny that you are emotionally paralyzed and claim to be fine.

13. The news upsets you because political agendas, stories of other people suffering, and people's participation in movements make you feel more ashamed for thinking about your own issues and wanting to make life better for yourself first.

14. You shut the world out by napping a lot, escapism (through media), or surfing the web.

15. You mentally force yourself to erase bad memories of past events and things others have said to you, but they keep recurring and you end up wasting time ruminating over them.

16. Your feelings are all-or-nothing. You're either numb or explosive.

17. The only thing you're happy about is that you're not feeling sorry for yourself. You know you want to get better and you know it's possible - it's just that there's a strong force within that's holding you back and making you feel paralyzed and unable to cope with change.

18. You have passion for changes that you desire to implement in your life, but that passion gets shut down whenever your mind wanders off to the past and relives the memory of a time when someone said something condescending towards you.

19. Sometimes, you think that you can live with this and be okay. Other times, you feel like you're dying (this goes to show you how feelings are pliable and fleeting).

20. You feel best when you are doing work that engages you (whether it's a job you love, a hobby that brings you joy, or a combination of both), but people's judgments of what you like to do (either for a living or for personal enjoyment) hold you back from pursuing more of it.

21. You are so afraid of the worst things that could happen in the future so much that you believe that all things you fear the most are guaranteed to happen in the future, and you can't do anything to prevent it, and you think that if you try, you'll end up somehow worse off - ostracized, destitute, unfulfilled, and ashamed. 

22. You make most decisions based on the fear of three things: fear of the future, fear of what people will think, and fear of failure.

23. You have a difficult time reconciling your multiple selves - the trembling self you show to those you fear, the detached self you show to anyone you don't know, the worst self that explodes whenever you're alone or with someone closest to you, the chill self that you reveal to those you feel comfortable around (which are very few people), the diligent self that you show at work or school, the creative self that is like your best friend in times of trouble, the ideal self that you wish to become, and the hidden self that is vain, mysterious, strange, and unrecognizable. 

24. You either eat too much or too little. You exercise too much or too little. You sleep too much or too little. You do too much of one thing and neglect others. You expect too much and do too little. Or you do too much and accomplish little.

25. You are more fearful than at peace. You are more dissatisfied than content. You know what you want, but you fear the judgment and condescending remarks of others. You are in a constant cycle of worry, sadness, and distress. You think more about the future and the past, and are everywhere but the present, as a consequence of being afraid of the state of simply being and facing your own paralysis head-on.