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.


Playing the Victim

I am back! And I didn’t want to come back without having been inspired by something to write and share to my readers.

Once again, I am fixated by a recurring theme in my acting class that resonates so much in my own twenty-something life.

I was given a monologue where my character goes on about a fun, light-hearted memory of her and her brother, as kids, playing a prank on their mother. My character jokingly tells her mother that her brother died from a bad car accident while her brother hid in the backyard. When the prank was done, her mother cried not knowing it was just a joke. My character’s innocence at the young age didn’t understand her mother’s cry until years later, when her brother ultimately passed away and was never coming back.

My initial performance of this monologue was what my instructor deemed as “playing the victim”: feeling guilt, remorse, sad, and nothing more. He said that playing the victim makes the scene “boring” because the character has given up and that there is no sense of hope. Whether the character should use her loss as a fight of frustration or hope that things get better, makes it all the more entertaining than just to “give up”.

Take Gladiator for example. In the very last fight scene, Russell Crowe’s character was stabbed right before he entered the Colliseum. Did he show a sign of loss hope in his last battle? No, he fought until he won before he fell upon his death.

Sadly, I do “play the victim” in my life on my lowest days, whether it be at work, relationships, etc. I let things get to me, and hold on to it with no sense that things will get better or accept that it’s for my own good. It’s not that I’m pesstimistic about life, I just surrender and accept that things are the way they are, and I have no control over it.

But that’s not at all true. I do have control of my life!

I know this sounds like my typical inspirational blurb, maybe moreso to reassure myself more than anything. But the truth is, two random strangers confronted me at two separate clubbing events about this in the past three months. The first person (female), intoxicated as ever can be, walked up to me and held her hands on the sides of my cheeks and said, “You are so beautiful, you should not be sad”. I didn’t even realize I had a frown on my face before she came up to me. I do admit, though that I was not having as much fun as I should because I ended up submerging myself into thoughts of loneliness even though I was accompanied by a group of friends.

The second person (male) that confronted me actually walked by me twice and stared at me. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk, but I think he was fed up with my sad face that as we passed by each other again, he said to me “You need to smile”.

And that’s when I had it – not with these people – but with myself.

I’m playing the victim where I have found myself to not think I’m worthy enough of being in a relationship, that no one would ever want to date me, and that I should give up and accept the fact that I’m going to be single for awhile.

And because of that, I think I actually push away guys from approaching me.

Playing the victim is not only boring, but it’s unattractive.

I know I am more worthy than I come off to be, but I’m still in search of defining who I am. That’s all it really comes down too.

Here and Now

As I think back to how I came down this road, it almost feels like I never really defined my own path. I guess it’s only fair to bring you into my shoes of how I came to be where I am today:

I was Grade 10 and I had:

  • no sense of style (I only changed my shoes once a year, until university)
  • no make up (I wore this blue eyeshadow that my best friend made fun of me for wearing back in Grade 8 and that tease haunted me then… and now)
  • nothing that made me stand out from the crowd

I wasn’t smart at all either. I took Grade 11 biology class thinking I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I don’t know why I chose this path but it must be some Asian-genetic thing where you naturally feel an obligation to become one. That path was cut short after I was caught copying off lab assignments from a friend in the library by the librarian who just so happens to also be my biology teacher. Not only did she take away my assignment, but she humiliated me in front of the class citing that cheating is never right. And it never is. I deserve what I got. In the end, I ended up barely passing that course and crying to my biology teacher that my “career as a doctor” was ruined. Her response:

“I think you should be in business. You’re talkative”

My response: Do I really have a choice?

Grade 11 came around and evidently enough, all my electives were business-related. My parents weren’t happy but I knew what was best for me at the time. Of all the business electives I had, accounting came naturally to me. I was so good at it that I strived to work at the bank behind the counters and dealing with customers bank accounts. At least that’s what I thought the dream was. But the dream was actually bigger. The dream was to be a Chartered Accountant (US: CPA equivalent). I didn’t know what that entailed until a guest speaker came into our accounting class and discussed the fame and the fortune. Of course, naive teens fall for anything that can bring them “fame and fortune.”

By the time I arrived in university, being a professional accountant for one of the big four accounting firms was a bigger dream to a lot of people in my business program. So here I was back again, following that cycle of running with the masses striving to be what everyone else wants to be. Unlike high school, I was different in university. I knew I had something that made me stand out from the rest of my competition: my social skills.

I wasn’t the best public speaker, presenter, or anything of that sort. But I know how to connect to people. As much as accounting required you to be competent and knowledgable, you had to be just as social – if not more. And that’s what I had. So with that said, I among 50 other candidates out of thousands of applicants, landed a summer internship with one of the largest accounting firms. It was a celebratory moment.

My summer internship was fun. To be honest, I felt like half the time we were fooling around and not actually working. But in the end, I did enough to impress because I eventually received a full-time offer. And here I am now:

  • more style
  • more make up, and
  • a career that many envies, especially those who don’t even have real jobs to this day

My parents were even proud of me. It took them awhile to understand what the heck my job was – but they were happy. And I was happy because they were happy.

Once work started, days became weeks, and weeks became months. I continued to lose sight as to why I am here. Is it possible to progressively lose faith in a career that I dreamed of having since Grade 11? After all the time and money that has been invested into already? And did I really define this path? Or was this path defined for me because it was safe?

This is where I am now in life. Can you relate?