Less is More

The words we speak to ourselves have power. They are like a seed planted in our heart, and the more we water it with good words, the stronger we grow. There is so much beauty in every day. Even when there’s rain pouring down, and the days are cold, there is always something to be grateful for. It’s often those small, simple things that give us the greatest amusement. A sparrow taking a bath, a little snail slowly making its way on the path and the Tui singing on the Kowhai tree. Yet, we live in a fast paced society that encourages to live with the want of more.

Reading the article from Womankind, it really reflects the importance of living slowly. In one excerpt it reads “Happiness has been associated with the commercial – ads telling us that we will be happier if we have lots of nice things, if we are wealthy and powerful.” It continues saying “After 40 years of studying happiness and its causes, Norberg-Hodge is convinced that true human happiness comes from being part of a small, tight-knit community […] So part of the key to happiness is to feel connected to other people and to nature.”

Observing when technology wasn’t so prevalent in our lives, the sense of focus and attention on our surroundings and environment was much more pronounced. Growing up, there was a connection with nature and being out in the grass, trees, rocks, sand and water. Lying on the deck, and watching the milky way and all the stars in the sky. The only kind of clear night you can see in the countryside. There is so much beauty around us. We miss out on a lot of things, if we draw too much of our attention and time on our screens or on superficial things.

Gratitude There is so much to be thankful for every single day. Food, water, sunshine, rain, clothes, family, shelter, books, nature, health. When we are grateful, truly grateful from our heart, we realise there is so much that we have. The lack of gratitude, ties in with the feeling of always needing to fill ourselves up with something. It can create an empty feeling. It can make us compare in ways that are detrimental, rather than helpful or beneficial. Gratitude makes us more calm, kinder and loving.

Relationships Friendships are quality over quantity. We can know a lot of people, but to have those close friends that we can wholeheartedly trust and be ourselves around are precious. The ones where we can be there for one another in times of need, lift each other up, be honest yet non-judgmental, allow one another to grow and enjoy new experiences with. Nurturing our relationships with ourselves and with others can give our lives more purpose. It connects us with one another.

Materials We live in a consumer society, and are encouraged to constantly purchase something new. There is no amount of materials in the world that can buy true happiness. We are sold a lifestyle and an image of happiness, that is said to be attainable through certain products. However, these are all temporary, instant gratifications that are not a guarantee of long-term satisfaction. Our value as a person is not dictated by the type of car we drive, or how big our house is. Many of us have more than we need.

Words The words we speak to ourselves have power, as I previously mentioned. How we talk to ourselves, is the truth we feed our heart and mind. Speaking words of love and kindness, means that you can also spread the love towards those around you. It means thinking before you speak, being wise in what you express and being considerate and empathetic of people. We can so often fill our minds with endless noise and words that serve no purpose, and lies can creep in that try to pull us down. One simple kind affirmation repeated can really be food for the soul.

Phone The moment I leave my phone at home, or make a conscious effort to not check it for a period of time, it creates a space where interruptions and distractions cannot occur. Productivity rises, and there is a more prolonged focus and flow in the task. Phones have become such a prevalent part of our lives, that virtually anywhere we are, there is bound to be a phone present. However, it’s important to minimise, moderate and maintain a balance in our use of technology in order to enjoy other activities, and be present.

Living slowly The Minimalists always share really thoughtful insights, and the article on More is Less? I love the part where they say “Owning less stuff, focusing on fewer tasks, and having less in the way has given us more time, more freedom, and more meaning in our lives. Working less allows us to contribute more, grow more, and pursue our passions much more. Having more time causes less frustration and less stress, more freedom adds less anxiety and less worry, and more meaning in our lives allows us to focus far less on life’s excess in favor of what’s truly important. So, more is less? Yes, more or less.

Life is enjoyed when we are present and we can take a step back to soak in the moment and enjoy the scenery.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

Reading is one of those activities that builds empathy, expands your imagination, allows you to see things from a different perspective and gives you space to learn and go on adventures all in your mind. Some of the greatest ideas that pop up are when I’m reading or engaging in a DMC with friends. As I was conversing with my lovely friend, we talked about how everyone cares about something. We all do it, but it’s also easy to hide it. The truth is, everyone is so concerned with themselves and their lives, that most people don’t care about you as much as you think. It’s a harsh truth, but it’s also incredibly refreshing. The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck by Mark Manson was fun to read. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down, and binged read in two days. No matter what, people will judge regardless of if you’re happy in your life.

One of the things I loved that Manson mentions, is The Backwards Law. Manson says in his book “’The backwards law’ [is] the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The more you desperately want to be rich, the more poor and unworthy you feel, regardless of how much money you actually make. The more you desperately want to be sexy and desired, the uglier you come to see yourself, regardless of your actual physical appearance. The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you. The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-centered and shallow you become in trying to get there.”

He suggests that by accepting that you’re not doing well, it can be more rewarding then chasing a false sense of happiness. It makes me think about the stigma of mental health, and how so many of us pretend to be fine, which can actually cause those emotions to sink deeper. It also makes me think of how growing up being constantly called nice, there are times where I can care too much in being nice to others. We have to think about the values we have. Those are what we should give a f*ck about and spend time caring about in our lives. Spend your time doing things that matter to you. We can waste a lot of time worrying about things that we might not have any control over, thinking about something in the past or future or caring too much about what others think in certain areas of our lives.

One reality hit is to remind myself that I could die any day. Then it puts things into perspective. It’s that combination of humour and reality that reminds us that there are so many things that we don’t need to take too seriously. There is so much dissatisfaction when we are constantly chasing happiness, because then there is always this feeling that we’re lacking something in our lives. Happiness isn’t a destination. It also takes us away from being in the present, accepting what is and truly living in the moment. The people we give our time to, our personal values and the things we do during our time are what we give our f*cks to. One of the most freeing feelings is letting go of caring what others think, even if it’s just a little.

Reading the book also made me think about the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It’s one of my all-time favourite book. When we stop caring so much about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future, we can be content and enjoy the present moment. We all experience failures, set backs and disappointments. Manson is emphasising in the book how caring less can actually lead to more happiness. I’m someone that can care too much about others. I consider myself an empath, and I feel really deeply for others, but sometimes we have to find a healthy balance. True happiness is like a slow burning fire. “Most people chase highs,” Manson explains. “Highs make you feel good. They sound fun. They impress people. Happiness is harder. Happiness requires struggle and boredom and sacrifice. Real happiness comes from discovering a sense of importance in one’s actions and in one’s life.”

Photography by Sun Jun

Growing Up As An Asian In New Zealand

Everyone has different experiences growing up, and we have a diverse mixture of cultures in New Zealand. A little background about me is that I was born and raised in New Zealand, and spent most of my life living by the beach, on the farm and now in the city. I consider Auckland a country town, which means that it is still considered a small city (or I like to call it a big little city) with a diverse amount of people. This is more of a ramble of spontaneous thoughts, but please do feel free to share your experiences of growing up in New Zealand as an Asian!

I have had funny experiences of being mistaken for another Asian person. Last year, I had a lovely coworker who worked different shifts. A customer came in and said “You made my coffee yesterday,” and I was a bit confused, and said that I hadn’t worked that day. Then I realised it was my other coworker, who happens to be Asian even though we don’t look alike. This was amusing. This used to happen regularly in my high school Maths class, when the teacher would call me by the Japanese boy’s name who was in the same class.

When I was interviewed by a Fine Arts student for her project, I was asked if I felt more Taiwanese or Kiwi. At first, it was a difficult question to answer on the spot. We had an interesting discussion about living in New Zealand as an Asian, and the experiences that can come with it. I feel a mixture of both. Growing up in New Zealand I never saw many Asians in advertising or media. It was mostly when I watched Taiwanese television or Chinese films. I do feel that this is gradually changing more now, and it’s good that there are more brands that are reaching a wider audience, but I do hope there will be even more increasing diversity in the media.

Growing up, there was the occasional casual racism and stereotypes about Asians. Most of the time, it simply comes from a place of ignorance and not understanding different cultures. Although, most of the time they were expressed in a joking way, and I used to just laugh a long at school, even though it’d get quite repetitive from hearing the same thing. Growing up, most of my friends were Caucasian, as there weren’t as many Asians in the small town I grew up in. There isn’t as many people who love cute things, at least not so common for those who are in their 20’s. It’s so normal in Asia, but even now I still love Hello Kitty, cute stationary, plush toys and anime.

There are times where I like to let people guess what my background is, as it always tends to come with a lot of interesting guesses. Everything from Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Singaporean, Japanese, Korean, Laos, Filipino, Malaysian, Chinese and Indonesian. I feel extremely grateful to have grown up eating a lot of delicious Chinese and Taiwanese dishes, as well as Western food. It’s amazing how much food can bring so much nostalgia.

It’s far more relaxed in New Zealand, and I’m grateful for it when I think about my experience of education. In Asia, studying and working can become stressful and the lifestyle is not like the one in New Zealand. An important advice is to retain your mother tongue, never lose it, because English can be taught at school and picked up, so there really isn’t any need to teach it at home. From personal experience, I only speak Mandarin at home, and when I started going to primary school I picked up English very quickly. Language is an important part of your culture, and if you are an Asian Kiwi, embracing your mother tongue and the English language can really strengthen that bond.

I went through a period of my teenage years where I didn’t fully embrace my Asian side, and it’s something that at the time was a form of conformity in a way. However, I really embrace my Taiwanese/Chinese side now. I grew up learning Mandarin first, and was very quiet when I started going to school. We would go to Chinese school every Saturday. However, as I grow older, I feel more appreciation and respect for my cultural background. Perhaps some fellow Asian sisters (and brothers) can relate to some of these points, if they grew up or moved to a western country at a young age.

When I was younger, my lunch box food would be filled with red bean buns, fried rice, dumplings and other asian foods with different smells. You will always (inescapably) be asked the question “Where are you from?” although I don’t get asked very often now. I was placed into ESOL (English for Speakers Of Other Languages), when I was 8 or 9. Thinking back, I can understand it because I was extremely shy and quiet, which can be a quick assumption that I didn’t know any English. Being one of the only Asians at school, I faced my first lessons looking at images of animals. I was no longer in ESOL after that first lesson haha. As an Asian brought up in a Western country, I didn’t feel fully Asian for a significant part of my teen years. It’s difficult to express that feeling.

When I visited guest’s homes, I was surprised as a young girl that some people wore shoes inside the house. It’s a custom in Taiwan (and many other Asian cultures) to provide slippers for guests. In many Asian cultures, we call our elders Auntie or Uncle as a sign of respect. It is extremely rare to call an elder by their first name. Respecting the elders is heavily taught from a young age. Another thing I learned was how high my tolerance for spicy food was. I grew up in a household where at least one or two dishes each night would have spices in them.

Having subtitles on was a huge habit from a young age. It was because my parents did it ever since they arrived in New Zealand, and that was one of the ways they learned English. I remember sleeping over at a friends house, and before bed time she would always say “I love you” to her Mum. As a teenager, it felt strange to me, because (as some people may be able to relate), in Asian culture many people are less likely to say I love you to their parents. However, after being long distance from my parents for many years now, I always say it!

One thing I wish to tell people is to treat everyone how you’d like to be treated. Also, the importance of not making assumptions. Be respectful of different cultures, even if you cannot understand why people do things a certain way. Travelling is important, because seeing different parts of the world and absorbing different cultures allows you to open your eyes. I truly feel so grateful to be able to grow up with two cultures, that have intertwined in a way in my life that has made it colourful and exciting. We are all people who live in this beautiful country. A New Zealander is someone who lives here and feels at home. That’s the most simple way I can put it.

Photography by Sun Jun

Kowtow Winter Collection 2019

Founded in 2007 by Gosia Piatek, Kowtow is a label committed to creating positive change. We make a conscious decision to only use renewable and sustainable fibres and ethical manufacturing to deliver collections that are utilitarian, minimal and carry an understated sense of femininity. The Composure Cardigan is on my wish list after seeing my beautiful friend wearing the navy shade, I fell in love with it. It’s from the Autumn/Winter 2019 collection. There are quite a number of stockists for kowtow, but a part of me still waits for the day that Auckland has a kowtow retail store. I love the designs in the winter collection, especially the wide striped pants, dark green dress and denim skirts. If it weren’t for branching out in navy, I think I’d be wearing too much black, but thankfully 2019 has been the year of wearing more colour.

http://www.kowtowclothing.com

Photography from kowtow

Nobody’s Life Is Perfect, No Matter What It Seems

When we fill our hearts with gratitude, we realise how much we have. When you focus on what you have, you don’t spend time thinking about what you don’t have. The constant focus on wanting to accumulate materials or external validation can never result in true happiness. There is so much gratitude in meeting so many beautiful people this year, and there have been some really thoughtful conversations. It’s incredible to talk with people with such beautiful minds and souls. It’s important to remember that nobody’s life is perfect, no matter what it seems. A person could appear to have everything on the surface, but feel empty within, and vice versa. Everyone is walking on their own journey, similar to how each book has its own stories in each chapter.

When I was younger, I honestly felt that everyone seemed to have a normal life. This comes down to the way we are told to present ourselves in society. As you grow older, you realise that sometimes we all don’t really know what’s going on, and that’s okay. That’s the joy of life, because if all was predictable it would lose the excitement and adventure. I absolutely love to smile, but I also know how easy it is to hide behind a smile and how easy it is to appear happy through hard times. This is why we truly mustn’t judge things from the surface. As I spoke with friends, we talked about mental health, and how incredibly common it is. In a way, the pressure of appearing to have a perfect life, is not authentic and true to the self.

Comparison is the thief of joy, as it can create a feeling of inadequacy and lowering of self worth. On the other hand, it can be used to motivate oneself if you desire, but where we place the focus and intention is important. What we perceive as success and happiness can be vastly different to one another. However, I do really think that the relationships we have with ourselves, and those around us hold a lot of purpose in our lives. There are so many layers to every person. Nothing perfect is defined by the way things look. Not with materials, travel, clothing, makeup or career. Nobody is perfect. The long lasting happiness in life comes down to the way we’re feeling inside.

Photography by Sun Jun

How To Live With Less In A Consumer Culture

We are all consumers in one way or another. Whether that may be in materials, books, films, art, food, electricity, water, social media, news, internet, advertisements and so on. However, how much and how often we consume things over another varies depending on our behaviour, habits, lifestyle, interests and so forth. The power of marketing and advertising is immense. When I browse thrift stores in an ocean of clothes, the reality sinks in that there are always clothes being bought and then being given to thrift stores.

I strive to live by the philosophy and mentality that less is more. As we live in a consumer culture, we are encouraged to buy more, even when we have more than enough. Advertising sells us a lifestyle, status, and identity. In terms of clothing, it is one of the top polluters in the world. If we consume less, we also lessen our carbon footprint, and we contribute less waste towards the earth. However, the power of advertising covers it with the glamour of a certain lifestyle. But, the truth is, we don’t need a lot to be happy.

Fill your spaces with love and purpose. Living with less means only having what you will use for many years. Advertising tells us that we are lacking this or that in our lives and that we need to fill spaces with materials that will make us feel better. However, many of us have more than we need.

Buy good quality materials. If you buy good quality clothing, then you give it longevity. Many things can last a long time. As I was mentioning about thrift shopping above, there are many clothes I try on and I feel that they are still very good quality. But, the fast fashion industry is constantly moving in and out with trends that are having a heavy impact on the environment.

Money and materials cannot buy true happiness. I had a conversation with my father a few months ago, and he said 外表不是重點. It means that our outer appearances are not the main part of who we are. Consumer culture means that we spend so much money on appearances.

Borrow more books. I must say that if I had my own house, I’d love to be able to fill it up with shelves of books. However, as someone who is always moving suitcases to somewhere every year or so, the library has been a blessing. I remember having to donate dozens of books over the years as they can take up a significant amount of space.

Thoughts on gifts. In all honesty, I’m the sort of person that prefers not being given a gift, unless it’s something I will really use. Vice versa, I prefer giving a gift that I feel the person is likely to use. I was joking with my sister the other day, that if over the years people just gave me money for the cost of the gift they gave me, I could have bought a new computer. Which sounds bad, but many gifts end up sitting there.

Saving money. If you are saving up for something, whether that be a car or a house, you can save money from the smallest things. For example, if you like to drink a cup of coffee everyday. You could start making your own at home everyday, and perhaps in one year you could save 365 x $3.50 = $1,277.50.

Do it for yourself and for the planet. Consumerism really costs the Earth. The more we buy, the more that is disposed of, and the more rubbish we create in the world. An example would be consuming less meat and dairy. Where we spend our money, is essentially who we are supporting.

Living with less is not only in materials. In a consumer culture, we are told we need more friends, more money, more travel and so on. The focus is on having a better future, but it’s important to embrace the present and be grateful for everything you have. Often, money and materials in advertising focus too much on ourselves. Someone could be wealthy but spends their time and money to help with people, education or the environment. Living with less reminds us of what’s important.

What is my intention for buying this? I used to have handbags that end up only getting worn a few times during the year, whereas my black handbag would be worn every day. My trainers and school backpack are worn almost every single day. I know that minimalism may not be for everyone, but it’s really helped in having a clearer mind and appreciate what I already have.

What are some of your tips for buying less?

I highly recommend reading the article A Helpful Guide to Overcoming Consumerism

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

What You Focus On Is How You Will Feel

I was reading a book by Dr. Libby, and I feel like she always has so much wisdom to share. It really resonated with me, when she wrote “What we focus on is what we feel.” There is so much truth to this, and it makes me think about how powerful our thoughts are. We manifest our reality through our thoughts, energy, and actions. A Beautiful and powerful article by Dr. Libby here on self love. In the article, Dr. Libby writes:

Remember that what we focus on is what we feel. Which is simply to say that if we constantly focus on our perceived flaws, of course it’s going to stir up feelings of lousiness because we will never measure up to our own expectations. It will also likely drive us to continue patterns of behaviour, such as unresourceful eating, that continue to confirm how we feel about ourselves. 

The excerpt above made me think of when I had such a strong focus on how I didn’t feel good enough in my body. At the time, I felt physically weak and tired as I wasn’t eating enough, and from not getting enough energy from healthy wholesome foods, my thoughts would spiral into a tunnel of negative thoughts about my body image. However, once the focus was on being healthy and enjoying life, I ate healthier and had a positive attitude and a feeling of gratitude towards my body.

Comparison is the thief of joy. We are all beautifully made in our own way. Everyone is walking on their own journey. No one is supposed to be like the person beside them. Social Media is not real in the sense that no one is smiling all the time, and truly no one is perfect no matter what it looks like. We all ride through the roller-coaster of ups and downs in this thing called life. You are truly beautiful, intelligent, smart and kind in your own way. You don’t need anyone to tell you that, because you just are. You are enough.

Art by Rachael Dean

Social Media And Seeing The World Through Filters

friends_3When you think back to when you were a child, what do you remember? I think of the moments where I could crouch down and stare at a snail with so much curiosity, and it would be exciting and intriguing. The trail of ants as they strongly lift food back home or the hours spent outdoors reading on the grass, lying under the trees, sinking my toes into the sand and going for bushwalks. There are days where I feel that Social Media, particularly Instagram, can be toxic rather than beneficial. I like sharing moments that made me feel happy, but I do think Instagram can be superficial at times, and I think it’s because photos tend to be more carefully taken, rather than the spontaneous childhood photos. I’ve felt the desire to delete my Instagram many times this year.

Privacy. Too much of anything is not healthy. It’s finding a sense of balance. As someone who cherishes their privacy, it’s important in finding that balance on what one chooses to share. I was reading an article from the National Geographic February 2018 Issue on surveillance. Now that we all hold a camera in the palm of our hands, and we are surrounded by cameras around us, on the street, in the store and perhaps in moments, we don’t realise. It may be a person watching us, or a camera we are not aware of. The frequency we use apps and post and share content, the more data we are giving away about ourselves.

Numbers. Our self-worth does not come from a number. This is something I struggled with for a very long time in regards to my weight. It doesn’t matter how tall, how much you earn, how many followers you have, how many likes, how many views, how many friends you have, how much you weigh… Your value in life comes from within. There is no external factor that can take over what is in your heart and mind. If we put our value and self-worth through others validation, we will never be happy. Your happiness ultimately comes from within. A person could be poor but be abundantly happy because they live a rich life through their relationships. A person could be rich in materials, but lack meaningful relationships in their life.

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Family and friends. The truth is, the majority of the time, I mostly share photos with my close friends and family. They are the ones I’ll be talking to on the phone and spending time messaging. When I think about Instagram, I think about how it’s not necessary for me to share certain aspects, but I think it’s having the ability to choose what we post. Which is why Instagram is ultimately just a snapshot, and we cannot judge a person solely from a snapshot. However, it’s interesting how with family, we don’t really need to think twice about what we send. At least I know I don’t.

Perfection, mental health, and body image. Social Media is not a reality. I think this is important to remember. I think what I want to express is that it is only a snapshot, a second of a moment, a glimpse and sometimes a filter to be perceived a certain way. Many feeds on Instagram can look perfect and I’ve found one of the most damaging aspects is the admiration of people solely for their appearances, rather than their personality and their abilities. I really want to put it bluntly, because I think Instagram has been one of the apps that often causes many people to put physical appearances more highly, rather than intelligence, abilities, talents and so forth.

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Focusing on what’s important. I read a profound sentence the other day, which said: “What you focus on is how you will feel”. These words resonated so strongly because I think about any time I start feeling those emotions of anxiety, worry, and fear, it often comes from where my focus is. It may be to do with something in the future or something out of my control. Whereas, when the focus is on what I can change and I’m present, then that’s where feelings of motivation, positivity, and creativity come. I think the sentence also relates to how you spend your time is essentially the life that you create for yourself.

The good and the bad. Social Media is great for keeping in touch with family and friends. Messenger, Wechat, Line, and Whatsapp are the apps that I use for messaging, as well as the occasional emailing and texting. I remember when MSN chat was also popular. You can share moments, read the news, stay updated and keep in touch no matter where you are in the world. The online world can be very noisy at times, and it’s good to spend time offline with the phone switched off and out of reach. There have been many times I’ve almost shared something, and even written the caption, but then I realized, I just want to keep that special memory to myself.

Art by Eri Kamei

The Importance Of Keeping Your Mother Tongue Alive

sun-jun14Growing up as a bilingual child, I remember my Father telling me that I would speak to the neighbours in Mandarin with a Kiwi accent! It was before I started learning to speak English around 4 years old, and I could only get a grasp of what English sounded like. Mandarin is the first language I grew up listening, reading, writing and speaking. It’s also common that some Asians that grew up in New Zealand may prefer speaking in English with their friends. Language connects us with one another. It allows understanding, embracing one’s culture and communicating with more people.

The most common Chinese dialect is Mandarin (Putonghua), and it is the most widely spoken language in the world with over a billion speaking Mandarin. Growing up in a Western country, it’s easy to speak English for predominantly most of the time. Exposure is important. When I was younger, my parents would read books to us, and my favourite were the ones by 幾米. They had these beautiful illustrations, and moving stories. I also loved watching some animations in Mandarin. However, the more we speak a language, the more we connect with those who speak it. Your mother tongue can strengthen your cultural ties and allows you to communicate freely with your family.

I grew up having English as one of my favourite subjects. It was something I enjoyed, as I love reading and writing. Maths and Science were not my best subjects, but I was often asked for help in Maths classes. I like to joke that English runs in the family, as my grandfather was an English professor in Taiwan, and my Uncle is an English lecturer. In the article by Amy Tan titled Mother Tongue, she talks about her experiences of the Englishes she grew up speaking. I highly recommend reading it, as it allows us to understand the power of language. I truly feel that if we don’t keep our mother tongue alive, we may risk losing a part of ourselves.

What is your Mother Tongue?

Photography by Sun Jun

Opening Up About Not Feeling Skinny Enough

I feel a little scared to write this. I was around twelve when I started weighing myself on the scales. I ran in the morning before school, and straight after school when I got home. I drank a lot of water and I ate as much as I liked because my metabolism was a skyrocket. When I left home at sixteen, I developed signs of an eating disorder. I’m sensitive in typing that because these were warning signs, which is why I’m careful to not label myself as having an eating disorder. I would skip meals, exercise a lot, eat slowly, weigh myself several times a day, obsess over my BMI and drink a lot of water to feel full. I had depression, anxiety and a fear of gaining weight.

When you grow up with people telling you that you’re skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, there is this pressure that stays inside your mind to maintain that body image. However, now that I’m in my twenties, my body is naturally changing. My metabolism isn’t what it used to be, and I feel more aware of eating healthy and having an active lifestyle. The beauty standard in Asia is to be very petite, but our bodies are all made differently. No person is made exactly the same as another, and if that were the case, how boring would that be? After many years of struggling with my weight, I feel the healthiest and happiest now. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, do the things that you enjoy and feed your mind with positive words.

There are days where I still struggle, but I know it’s not my true self. The true voice in myself says that your self-worth comes from who you are as a person, and it has nothing to do with the number on the scales. I don’t want to be defined by my weight, but by what I can bring into the world. The title really speaks about my teenage years. In the past, I went through a period where I was feeling a lot of hatred towards myself. I felt not worthy, and there was an overwhelming amount of worry and fear taking over my life. I felt like even though I was stressed, I could control my weight and what I ate. It’s not healthy, because then you end up neglecting your body.

I was 18 when I was living in Sydney in 2015, and it was a time where I really struggled with my body image. I remember gymming more and watching what I was eating. There was fear and insecurity during that period of my life. I felt incredibly lost. My anxiety was crippling at that time, and I really isolated myself. It was really during that time where I wasn’t connecting with God, and my relationship with Him really weakened during that season of my life. When it comes to eating, I used to feel quite conscious at times when eating a meal in front of people, unless it’s those I’m very close to.

Our bodies are beautiful, sacred, precious and wonderful things that keep us moving, breathing and living life. I do think that it can be damaging if one compliments too much on a persons body size. When you grow up from a child being told that you’re so skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, it’s something that can really stay entrenched in your mind as you grow older. I know that my value lies in my heart, yet there are days where I stare in the mirror and feel a sudden fear of gaining any weight. It all starts in the mind. A persons weight can fluctuate when dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Everyone has insecurities. We all have something inside and out that we’re conscious of. When I think about where I was previously, it was during a period where I was unhappy, and I felt like I wasn’t skinny enough (which was when I was the lightest). I rarely ate in the dining area in a previous flat a few years ago, because I literally didn’t want my flatmates to see me eating. It’s really been this year, where I’ve felt safe in eating in the dining area. It seems like something so small, but it’s a huge change. Since leaving home, there have been periods where I didn’t eat well. I think when one’s stress, you either eat a lot or you feel you don’t have any appetite.

We often don’t emphasize it enough, but your health is truly your wealth. Without your health, you wouldn’t be able to wake up and conquer the day. You wouldn’t be able to experience this beautiful life. When I didn’t have a healthy mind, it started to affect my body and I felt weak, unmotivated and a loss of energy. It was during that time where I suffered from panic attacks and had very deep depression. Our thoughts are so powerful. When I started being more present, thinking positively and accepting myself as I am, I really felt set free from the cage I’d built inside my mind.

I’ve read so many stories about those who showed warning signs of anorexia, and during those periods where they were the lowest weight, was when they were the unhappiest. Being skinny won’t make you happy. It’s embracing where you are, right here, right now. Accepting yourself as you are. Being grateful for everything that your body has done for you. Being thankful for good health and waking up to a new day. Treating yourself with kindness, love and positive self-talk. I am at the healthiest weight this year. I feel the most energy and happiness this year.

There were feelings of not being good enough. After really surrounding myself with amazing people and being kinder to myself, I feel an overwhelming sense of peace. If you can’t love yourself first, how will you attract the right people into your life? Our life experiences can affect us deeply in how we see the world. But, I really think that we can all heal from hurt, even when it seems impossible. It’s really the simple things in life that give us the greatest joy. We have to come from a place of not judging others because everyone has and is going through something. It’s easy to see things on the surface and believe what we see. The most healing comes from the periods of silence. I really believe that time heals.

One of the biggest blessings is surrounding yourself with people who are uplifting, encouraging, motivating, positive and caring. They bring the best out of you. The people we surround ourselves with are important. Our bodies are a blessing. It’s important to refrain from commenting or complimenting someone on their body. I can’t emphasize how much it can have an impact on them. A reminder to myself is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which reads: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies. 

How powerful is that? God wants us to take care of ourselves, and He wants us to live our lives as fully as possible. I really believe we have to remind ourselves that we are enough as we are. We truly live in such a visual world. People will constantly judge others based on their appearances, and it’s inescapable that the first impression we have of someone often comes from their physical appearances. But, we have to go beyond the surface and remember that every person we care about, we couldn’t care less about what they look like. I really hope if you are on a journey of healing and having a healthy relationship with your body, that you will realize how beautifully made you are.

When you go through a stressful period in your life or a hard season, know that there are people who care about you. I know that when I went through depression, I often felt like nobody cared and that there wasn’t a way out. But, there are so many people who love you, and often the first step is reaching out to others. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to talk about these things. Those who matter in our lives, are the ones who won’t judge you for your experiences. When I’m reminding myself of what’s important in life, I like to think of the words from The Little Prince: Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. If you are reading this and going through a hard time, know that wherever you are in your life you are enough.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

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