Imagine Yourself…

Close your eyes and imagine yourself facing you as a young child or baby. What would you tell yourself as a child/baby knowing all the life experiences you’ve been through thus far? Do your instincts tell you to tell that child you love them? Do you tell that child that there is a bright future ahead of them and that everything will be okay?

A few days ago, I was looking for a photo inspiration for #tbt (“Throwback Thursday) to use on Instagram and I found a picture of myself in my room as a baby:

Baby Anne

As I was looking at this picture, I thought to myself that if I had a chance to go back in time to hold this baby [me], what would I tell her based on everything I know that’s happened in my life? The first instinctive reaction was to tell her how much I love her and how beautiful she was. The second thought that came to mind was to ensure her that everything is going to be okay despite the challenges that life will bring. The third and final thought was to let her know to just continue to be happy because life is truly a joy.

From that exercise, I thought to myself as to whether I tell myself these things. After all, I am telling this child everything I feel right now, and in essence, that child is me. Since I regularly practice positive affirmations, I do believe in everything I would say to that child with integrity and honesty I would definitely say to myself as the 25-year-old adult that I am today. But if you asked me a year ago, I don’t think I could say the same and I would feel like I’ve disappointed this child to believe in something that were not true. How can anyone confront any child with a negative outlook on life? As human beings, we tell our children that they deserve the best in life filled with love, happiness, and success. But are you telling yourself the same?

Never forget that we were once all babies, and that everyone who held us as babies, saw us with so much love and hope. And you would had felt the same way if you could go back in time.

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Ego

Generally speaking, I find I’m only aware of interacting with the idea of the ego under the ideas of self-importance, self-esteem, and/or conceit. It wasn’t until acting class in LA that brought me back to my Grade 11 studies of psychology on the ego as defined in the dictionary:

the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment”

Acting class truly allowed me to tap into that definition and become aware that the ego within ourselves is what keeps us to believe that we are “in control” of our lives and that we are safe. It was my Oprah “Ah-ha!” moment. If you don’t think you have that ego, well I’m here to tell you that you do.

Do you ever wonder why you can’t seem to quit your job, even though you know it’s making you unhappy, and to pursue your true passion? It’s because of your ego.

Do you ever wonder why you can never confront your best friend that they have hurt you? It’s your ego.

Do you ever wonder why you can’t break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend knowing the relationship is so toxic?  One word: EGO.

The ego is the voice that tries to rationalize so many different thoughts you have in your head to the point where you become out of control, unfulfilled, and confused. Every experience in life ends up becoming stagnant, tolerated, and safe because you don’t allow yourself to confront situations that are out of your comfort zone. Your ego responds by saying, respectively, to the above questions:

“My job is a highly reputable and recognized profession with a secure employment in any industry and a guaranteed 6-figure salary in the future. To be an actress, there is no guarantee I will be successful and prosper”;

“If I confront my best friend about how I feel, I may lose our friendship forever”; or

“I can’t break up with my boyfriend because they’re the only person I truly have and care about in my life right now. Without them, I’m lost”.

Your instincts will appear in a blink of these moments by considering how to confront these conflicting experiences in life that may seem so out of your element that you can’t imagine yourself doing it. But you can. Your ego is just holding you back so that you feel “in control” and rather just “play it safe”.

Since I was 6-7 years old, I always wanted to be an actress. But those thoughts only came for a split second because my ego would intervene and say “You’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough, you’re Asian, etc”. And I accepted those as rational, reasonable responses. And since then, I’ve always played it safe. I asked myself questions like “What is the career that will be easy to get into?  Is this a career where I can make a reasonable amount of salary? Will I be respected among my social network?” I definitely pursued a safe choice in life but it’s left me unfulfilled in so many aspects of my life. So it wasn’t until last year I started to truly listen to myself and asked, “If I had no insecurities and no judgement upon myself, what is it that I would pursue?” And then my inner voice came again for that split moment and said “acting” as it has for many years. And from there, I allowed my instinct, and not my ego, to guide the life that I want, that I am worth, and that I love. And this has allowed me to be at a truly happy state of mind because I now feel I’m doing it for myself and not for the respect and acceptance of others.

I find meditating will help guide you to your inner voice because you free your mind of all the flaws, imperfections, and judgements you have on yourself. Spend some time to just act on your instincts because your mind is telling you something that is important. Don’t over-rationalize every single thought and place judgement on them, especially on yourself. Like I said, that’s your ego talking to you.

Thank you Anthony Meindl & studio staff for teaching me such a valuable lesson.

Yes

I read a quote by Eckhart Tolle the other day that resonated me:

“It is not true that the up cycle is good and the down cycle is bad, except in the mind’s judgment”.

That quote sums up pretty much the work I had to do on myself for over a year to be at the state of happiness that I am today. It’s crazy even just thinking that it took me more than 12 months but I made it and that’s what counts.

When I came into my professional field as an accountant, I really had high hopes that I would be great at what I do. Six months in, I think I was considered the worse of the new hires. I couldn’t learn fast enough like my peers, I constantly made mistakes, and I was just always lost. I also found myself in a state where I was not getting along with certain coworkers which made working a hostile environment. So the career that I thought was good for me, turned out to be the career I didn’t want.

At this point in my life, I played what I typically call “the victim”. I surrendered myself and said I suck at this job, no one likes me, and I should simply be fired (as there were points where I hoped to be fired because I wouldn’t be brave enough to quit on my own). My reaction was very much resistance and intolerance to accept the circumstances that I was in and make things better. As a result, it left me to isolated and stagnant thoughts of my limitations in life, which ultimately created my depression. In other words, I continually spent months of holding onto this burden that I did a terrible job in the past that I couldn’t even focus on the present to make things better. I kept allowing others to define me with past experiences that I couldn’t move myself forward to be better.

After spending months of healing myself, I discovered that to move forward, I have to allow acceptance and forgiveness as a way of actively responding and participating to my resistant and intolerant thoughts. In other words, just say yes to life when it seems like a complete, chaotic, crowded mess. And instead of asking “Why me?” – ask “Why NOT me?”

Things happen for a reason. I could look back and say it was a terrible experience at that point in my life once I discovered I hated my job — but I do not one bit. My lowest point in my life a year ago was actually the best thing that happened me. And I’m happy it happened to me because I learned so much about myself as a person. And with that, great things in life are happening.

In fact, my senior at work told me he felt I was the most improved staff in my year. I also regained my confidence back in my job such that my clients grew fond of me and my managers respected my request in my interest to transfer to a new industry group within the firm. Most of all, I actually like my job now and I love the people I work with. Things are now looking out for the better all because I said yes to life and its challenges.

Life has its ups and downs but your judgment dictates what those moments and experiences in life can become. You’ll be amazed that taking ownership of your life by simply saying “yes” can give you a whirlwind of new opportunities. 

Meditation

I recently started meditating after it was assigned as my homework from my acting class. Strange that that would be my homework for acting, isn’t it? At least that’s what I initially thought. My unconventional acting book by Anthony Meindl called At Left Brain Turn Right illustrates that meditation is key to allow yourself zone into the moment leaving behind all preconceived thoughts, judgments, and anything else that’s junk in your head. As an actor, this is essential as it allows you to really live in the reality of your character as opposed to having predispositions of how things should be, which makes the acting more choreographed when it should seem like you and your character are just one. But this also rings true to real life because we tend to have “an idea” of how we should go about doing something as opposed to just doing it.

At Left Brain Turn Right

Even before I read the book, I knew that meditation was linked to all sorts of good things: happiness, success, and overall greater health. I just never adopted it because it’s so hard. But one thing about myself that I was certain before going into it was that I carried no judgment of myself. Or so I thought…

On my first attempt of meditating last week, I tried so hard to focus on my breath. But I kept running all these thoughts about people in my life and I somehow developed fictional conversations with them unconsciously. For example, there was a female in my acting class who kept staring (up and down) at me for a good amount of time last week. I sat diagonally behind her so it’s not just easy to just stare at me as she did. We’ve talked before and had a lovely conversation – but in class, her glances back at me did not make me feel comfortable. So as I was meditating, this memory came back to life to me. Although she did not say any words to me in my memory, her stare read to me as if she wanted to tell me the following in her sassy voice “What are you wearing? Your dress is too short. You’re showing too much skin. You’re in class, not at a bar”. [FYI: I was wearing a sleeveless black and white striped dress that was mid-thigh length and my military boots]. This is one of several thoughts I generally have while meditating. It’s always involving another person in my life who is either speaking or unconsciously speaking to me in a negative connotation. At the end of each meditation, I find myself either saying in my head or aloud “SHUT UP MIND, JUST SHUT UP”. I know that attitude is really the opposite of what I’m really trying to achieve when meditating but I just get so frustrated when I can’t close my mind at peace.

So then I asked myself why I kept having these negative, confusing, and yet fictional conversations with people in my life. Even when I’m not meditating, they still exist. Then the light bulb went off. The reason all this was happening is because I do judge myself – A LOT – and NEGATIVELY. All this time I was so in denial about it. The first chapter of Meindl’s book essentially said “stop judging yourself” in order to reach my deepest, most authentic self. My response: “Psh, I don’t judge myself.” But I DO! I don’t realize it because I use people in my life to say the words that I would say to myself if I looked at me. So even though the girl in my class looked at me, all those thoughts I had of what she was saying, was ME all this time thinking those things about me. For all I know, in reality, she could have said “I like her outfit” and kept staring at me for inspiration. Who knows!!?

Now that I look back at that class, I felt very well put together that day because I wanted to feel good. And when I saw everyone in class wear jeans and a long-sleeve tee, I started to feel insecure. And that insecurity transcended to fictional ill-judgment of everyone who did stare at me. How do I really know that people think of me THAT negatively? I don’t. Should I care? No.

It comes all down to being comfortable within my own skin and letting go of any judgment of myself. I know who I am more than anybody else in this world so I will let judgment pass.

I highly recommend everyone to just meditate – not just for better health, success and happiness. It’s the journey to unravel who you really are as a person and letting go of all the junk in your mental capacity that you don’t need so that you become a more awesome you.

Driving

One of my biggest revelations of self-discovery on this trip happened while driving. It comes to no surprise, to me at least, that I would find myself reflecting a lot about my life on my drive to class or my usual mini road trips exploring southern California. I literally spend almost as much time either in class or exploring various cities as I am sitting in my car stuck in traffic.

My drive to Santa Anita Canyon

My drive to Santa Anita Canyon

What I discovered was that my way of driving is exactly a reflection of challenges of myself. I don’t mean to say that I jump lanes without signaling, or skip stop signs, or even go 50 miles above the speed limit. I do admit – I’ve done some crazy things but who hasn’t? No one is ever a perfect driver. Even the drivers who abide by the speed limits on the highway can get themselves in danger if the majority of the drivers on the highway are going at least 15 to 20 miles greater.

There is ONE major thing I do wrong while driving:

I focus A LOT on the driver behind me.

Problem: This may sound so silly to you but when I’m stuck in traffic, and it’s stop-and-go, there are moments where traffic starts to lighten and speed picks up really fast – and within a matter of seconds, the car in front is at another halt out of no where. I obviously panic and press on my brake so hard. But while I’m braking, I’m staring at the car behind me hoping he doesn’t slam into me or that he isn’t pissed at me for whatever reason. While all this is happening, I’m about to hit the car in front of me because I don’t stop early enough because my eyes are facing the mirror to face the car behind me as opposed to the car in front of me.

Root cause: I discovered two reasons why I do this: a) I have a tendency to always look behind me – which is another way of saying how I tend to hold on to my past and past experiences. Sometimes I catch myself at random times just having a hard time of letting go certain aspects of relationships that went wrong (whether it be with parents, siblings, friends or boys) in the past when I know I have no way of going back to fix them; and b) I care too much about how I am/was being judged.

Solution: I learned in acting class last week that it takes less than 90 seconds for an emotion to be triggered, go through the blood stream and be flushed out. My point: who cares what the guy behind me thinks about me. If he’s pissed at me, it’ll be for no longer than that 90 seconds and we’ll forever never see each other. I could get myself in far worse danger in front of me anyways. Same goes to letting go my past experiences. It’s all about the present  moment and what’s in front of me because that’s what I can control and make a difference.

Ever since my self-discovery, I’ve taken every effort to just let go, breathe, and focus what’s in front of me. I can actually say I’m a better, more confident driver, and I’ve allowed myself to forgive the things that’s happened in my past. This has all transcended into feeling more free than I ever have before.

In fact, I made a great stride today to prove my point. I took a mini road trip to Laguna Beach, and because my GPS is outdated, it can’t navigate me to a location without a specific address. So I had to print out directions from Google Maps. From there, I successfully reached to Laguna Beach without any mistakes. I was so happy and proud of myself because it’s a huge change from the old me a month ago. And best of all, I was on this trip on my own and it didn’t phase me one bit. I had butterflies inside of me because I was so excited to see the most wonderful beach in Southern California.

Laguna Beach

I hope I’ve allowed you to have the opportunity to reflect on the things you do and how you do it, and discover the root causes for those doings. It’s not about judging yourself, but being open to being a better you.

Happy

On my route to Hollywood for class, it just hit me how happy I am in my life. I haven’t felt this happy in so long. And I can say it was pure happiness because it wasn’t anything in particular in my life that triggered me to be happy at that very moment. In fact, I was stuck in traffic on the US-101 when I had the biggest smile on my face.

Hollywood US 101

Throughout the entire drive, the conversation in my head kept going in circles like this:

I’M SO HAPPY. HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY!
Wait, why am I happy again?
I don’t know — but I’M SO HAPPY.

But what made it the best overwhelming emotion was the fact that I didn’t have any underlying reason for it, whether it be money, a guy, or even career-related. I’m just enjoying everything that life has given me this far and I am grateful.

Nonetheless, I finally feel settled in LA. I’ve joined an acting studio that caters to strengthen and challenge areas of myself; I’ve met some awesome friends inside and outside of class; and the weather has just been gorgeous. 

I’ve set out goals for myself to travel to the best beaches and some fun hikes throughout Southern California within the next couple of weeks, which I will share soon!

Sending love, success, and pure happiness to all my readers. 

Cory Monteith

I arrived in LA this past Saturday to pursue my passion for acting, knowing that I had a very limited time off from work to do so. I booked 3 audits within my first week of arrival to the best studios known in LA. My first audit took place at the Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop just yesterday.

An audit is essentially an observation of a class being taught live in front of you. I could not begin to describe how inspired and amazed I was from the start and end of the audit. I was even lucky enough to meet Anthony [studio director] himself as this typically does not happen until you reach a certain level in the studio. He started the class off by remembering Cory Monteith, who played a lead role in Glee, as Cory was actually a student at this studio. Seeing that I was watching a stage where Cory used to perform, just astounded me.

Cory

I was also struck by Anthony’s messages in relation to Cory’s death. His message was simply to say that life is too short and sometimes you have no control over it – so ask yourselves, what are you delaying your life for? Go for what you want, and don’t live in the routine of what life gives you. Give yourself greater permission to do what you want to do and don’t ever seek happiness from the outside.

Society has it backwards for us to believe if we work hard, we can succeed, and when we succeed, we can be happy. Inner happiness creates success, not the other way around! As long as we are happy with who we are inside, then everything else in life will fall in place for us the way we want it too.

And that is why I love acting. It’s constantly affirming me at the present moment and loving myself from inside out.

I hope I can get into this studio before I depart back home. Apparently, there are some people who have waited 5 months to get into this studio! As for now, I have two more audits this week – one in which I actually had to prepare my script! I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Nonetheless, I do feel at home here.