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.

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.

Not Like Therapy

In acting class, a common constructive feedback in my performance was the fact that I tend to only touch the surface of choices I make in a character’s emotional journey. When I was sarcastic, I wasn’t sarcastic enough. When I was happy, I was still reserved. It was really frustrating for me to think I performed well and only to find I was short on emotions from watching my playback.

The great thing about the instructors I’ve worked with was the fact that they open up to me and ask me why I made such choices. As much as I was told that acting class should not be treated like therapy – I treat it so. I found out through self-discovery that working in the corporate world, I have a poker face. I can’t express too much as it’s considered a sign of weakness, unless I want to get fired of course. But I don’t. Who does!?

My instructors constantly reminded me that acting class was a safe haven to express emotions and carry that journey to places you’ve never been before. And I loved that. And I loved it even more when I saw the class react to my progression in a positive way.

Now that I’ve joined improv at Second City, my first class experience has really let me come out of my shell. To be spontaneous, proactive, and impulsive were things I never knew I could embrace.

There was one game called “Yes, Lets!” where someone would scream out “Let’s do this [fill in the blank]” and the group would scream “Yes, Lets!” and act out what the person screamed out. So when someone in the class screamed “Let’s audition for a reality show!!” and we responded “Yes, Lets!” my instinctive reaction was pretending I was on camera, taking off my shirt and flashing to everyone. Everyone who saw me started laughing hysterically. And to be honest, I was so taken aback, I flushed. I just couldn’t believe the response. But it made me feel good inside because it’s been quite awhile since I’ve made complete random strangers laugh (unless it’s me embarassing myself like falling off a curb while walking, which I’ve done before). And through that, it reminded how I love making people happy/feel good/laugh.

To say to treat acting/improv class not like therapy, how can I not!? I feel like I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago. And I can’t thank you all for sharing this journey with me.

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.

Absence

The last two weeks of August have been crazy, yet exhilerating, and its effects are still wearing off on me.

I was on hiatus because I just wrapping up my acting classes. I can honestly say I gave it my all in my last performance on Wednesday. It took a toll on me to be honest, because my character in the script is so emotional.  I had a hard time getting into character and learning to cry, especially since I didn’t relate at all to the story. But once I connected to the character and cried my heart out, I felt like I overcame a challenge that I didn’t think I could do. It was definitely an adrenaline rush and I loved every bit of it! My overall evaluation for my performance was supposed to be released yesterday but I haven’t heard anything back yet. I am so anxious because,  if I don’t get a passing mark, I won’t get to move into the next level in acting class and will be required to do intro all over again.

My initial reaction of receiving no response was the fact that the acting studio didn’t want me to return. But it turns out, a few of my classmates already received a call last night saying that they didn’t get to advance to the next level. So is my lack of response a good sign?? Knowing that I am a very impatient person, the curiosity is killing me inside.

But having such supportive network of good friends has made this “wait” easier than I expected it to be. My friend, Pat, said to me “I’m still excited for you, either way sounds like this has been a huge find for you. Regardless of the outcome, I think if you looked at your expectations 8 weeks ago or whenever it was you started you’d be blown away. From nothing to talk of getting an agent in that time is huge”.

And that made me smile. I have had made huge strives and I finally can share the story to someone that I finally did something that I always wanted to do, and not give some hopeless pathetic speech about how I am so afraid to do something that I would love. If I didn’t try out acting, I wouldn’t realize how much I am in love with every bit of it!

Going back to reality, I have a national professional accounting exam in two weeks. So I will likely be hiatus for another two weeks. Accountant by day, actress-to-be by night. HA! Having this dual identity thing is going to catch up to me one day but for now, I’d like to think of myself as invincable.