It hasn’t been an easy journey.
Let’s go back to October 2016.
I was in the middle of forming a new company until people who were supposed to partner with me decided to pull out, without telling me.
I was devastated. I felt betrayed. I was annoyed. I felt sick to my stomach.
I spent 1.5 years on it and I was left in the cold.
Luckily enough, I had a trip planned with my friend Pam to Bangkok. I never wanted to go to Bangkok. It felt like another city. I’m not a city person.
But it was just the thing I needed to distract myself from dropping deep into self-pity.
We planned to go to a travel conference called TBEX together. I didn’t know what TBEX was, but why not try something new right?
I can’t find my photos from this trip. I’ll add them here when I do.
TBEX was interesting. We learned a lot. This trip also made me realise I really do like Thailand and Thai people. Did a lot of walking in Bangkok. Walking helps me think. It helps me relax.
I think I made Pam walk way too much. But I felt so much better after Bangkok.
October was also the month of a few family crisis. At the speed of light, I worked through the nights to solve them.
It was a tough month emotionally and physically.
November made me feel like there could still be hope that things would get better.
At this point I was physically exhausted and emotionally broken. It was also a month I felt stretched beyond what I could take. It felt very uncomfortable and interesting at the same time.
I wanted to just collapse in my bed and stay in there forever.
But I also had a trip to Japan planned with my high school sweeties. I thought about it – should I go? We had planned this trip for 10 months. Was I was going to give it up?
No, so I packed my bags and took off.
Like Bangkok, I didn’t think I would like Japan.
So much consumerism. So much manufactured happiness.
But there’s a charm about Japan.
Maybe it’s the convenience. You feel so well taken care of in Japan. Or maybe it was Hokkaido ice cream.
Hokkaido ice cream.
(I miss Hokkaido ice cream.)
Or maybe it was because I got to spend time with my buddies.
We’ve known each other for 15 years now and it was our first trip together.
We even took our first inter-city train together. Shinkanshen. It costs USD140.
I had fun. I would do this again.
But while I enjoyed it there, when it was time to go, I left with no hesitation. I had a lot of things to sort out back home. Like my family’s retail store.
The only retail experience I have was working part-time for my mom when she had a phone accessories store. But that was it. I had never opened one, didn’t understand how retail worked.
But we did it anyway.
The concept was nothing new – rent out little cubes to people for a decent income – but I was scared.
I didn’t know what to expect. But I just went ahead. No time to think.
Time flew by quickly and it was finally time to open our store in….
We opened the store on 7th December. We were scared, nervous and afraid everything would come crashing down on us.
We didn’t even have a banner. Our printer was late. Then didn’t bother to print for us.
We operated without a banner for two months.
But we pushed ahead anyway. Slowly, we could see people interested to shop there. I was relieved. Everything felt like it was going well.
Then it got better.
Andrew (my business partner) texted me one day. ‘We are going to have a print magazine. Do you want?’
Never thought of publishing anything in print, but I said yeah, why not? Try something new right?
I went ahead and met my would-be partner Rebecca. It all went well. I had something to look forward to in 2016. We formed a new company.
I said good bye to 2016 in my bed, thinking to myself 2016 would be a great year.
January started off rough.
I fought a lot. Verbally.
Mentally I was strained. Depression was starting again, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Instead, I kept pushing myself to do more. I was juggling many different responsibilities at once.
I had not felt so busy and out of control in a long time.
Then February came. A bunch of unhappy things happened in February too (no details, it’s not necessary in a public blog). I started to question if I was doing the right thing (who cares?).
I started to break down. It became obvious I was breaking down.
My relationships with my family and a few friends were starting to get strained. I started to wonder about my priorities.
Was I digging a whole for myself? I felt stupid for the first time in many years.
Maybe all the decisions I’ve made so far were wrong.
I rushed to prepare for my first trip out of the country: Yangon, one of my favorite places.
It was a 4 day long business trip and at the tail end of it I felt a familiar discomfort I had felt before. It was the feeling of a burn out.
I had burned out. No fuel left. I was running on empty, and yet I did not feel like resting. I wanted to continue.
But I also wanted to kill myself. The bad thing about how I am built is that when I burn out, I get depressed and want to kill myself. Not productive. Not cool.
Then I collapsed. I wrote a bunch of emo posts. I only write posts like these when my emotions are out of whack. My emotions were completely out of whack.
Even so, I didn’t want to admit that I had burned out. But one day, I finally did. I wrote a post on Facebook, admitting to the world (ok not the world, just a bunch of people on Facebook) that I had burned out:
I was embarrassed when I wrote that. I don’t like telling people that I burned out. But I guess it’s okay.
I spent one month trying to recover.
And here I am today, in April.
I’m happy because.
If you don’t have depression, never been depressed or don’t know any depressed people (intimately), you won’t understand this (you can skip).
It is always hard to keep myself alive when I’m down deep. Numerous times I had to sleep it off to prevent myself from doing anything stupid.
My family can tell you this.
What saves me every time is a little different. This time it was photography and film making.
I went hiking and shot a few time lapse videos.
This video is a little short because I did something stupid and found myself in this space where there was no one and almost no way out except another 30 minute climb.
Film and photographs have intrigued me for years. It started when I got my hands on my first point and shoot camera. And then my first web cam. It’s been one of my deep loves.
But I stopped because my house caught on fire one day and I lost everything.
My photographs meant a lot to me back then, but I lost them.
This year, after a trip to Singapore to visit Pam again, I started seeing a part of me that I thought I lost forever.
Here’s an album I created to put all my photos.
Here, I wanna say I’m not an expert photographer or videographer. I just like doing it. Sometimes people like what I shoot, sometimes not. It doesn’t really matter. I just want to create.
I’m healthy and energetic
I know it’s cliche. But I read this book:
It’s about a doctor who worked so hard to become a neurosurgeon scientist, only to be told that he had only a few years left to live. He was diagnosed with cancer, so sick he had to rethink his priorities. He left neurosurgery to write this book, decided to have a child and reconnected intimately with his wife before dying 10 months later.
I know, it sounds like fiction but this is a true story.
I read this book over four days. It made me think about how much I take my energy and health for granted. In his last days, Paul lost his ability to do everything he liked physically (like hiking and running, or tossing a baby up).
How much do I take it for granted? My ability to walk, run, swim or hike whenever I wanted to?
What about my energy to create?
Some days I just waste my time in consuming things other people create. But what about my own things?
I’m 27, I don’t have the energy of a 22 year old anymore. 10 more years might past and I might get tired more easily then.
I thought to myself. I don’t want to waste this really great energy and health doing nothing, or nothing important or meaningful.
Nothing can wait.
Which leads me to my next point.
I fulfilled a 2-year promise
I’ve been a storyteller to my sister Lu See since we were kids. Two years ago she asked me to write her a love story as her birthday present.
I’m not a very romantic person.
I don’t know what girls like to read.
I don’t read chic lit.
They bore me.
They still bore me.
But I’m happy that I finally did it. I wrote and published my first love story! It’s not a new love story, just a love story.
It’s about a pair of shoes and what it means to a Chinese woman.
Read it here.
7 more reasons I won’t elaborate too much but here they are:
I understand myself better now
I know what I want better.
I am more confident of my nerdy side
I used to think it was lame. But nevermind now!
I bought a new USB OTG
So now I can take more photos using my phone 😀
I know how to love when I’m weak
I learned this from Thich Nhat Hanh. Not perfect yet.
Here is the video I learned it from:
If you don’t like listening to people speak in a calm, semi monotonous voice expounding a peaceful message, just skip this.
I am brave enough to create more art now
I am closer to my family now than ever before
I get to work with really smart people 😀 (always a bonus!)
No telling when the next update post will be, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this!