Why I don’t blog about design

On my twitter bio, the field for website is directed to this blog. I would think most people would leave once they land upon this page. If, my twitter page is linked to my portfolio site, it is very likely that I’ll gain more followers. After all, there’ll be more people who would want to follow a designer than an emo blogger right?

Very similarly, if I blog about design, whether is it about critical thought or my design process, I would again presume that it would likely raise my online profile a lot more. I honestly do not want that attention in an egomaniacal kind of way, but in a professional sense, blogging about design would definitely help to raise my profile, which translates a lot to more or better quality business. There is definitely a wider audience interested to read a blog on design rather than a blog on…..personal issues and lessons? ;p

I went through this entire thought process prior to starting this blog and the process became rather lengthy and it hindered me from starting my blog for years. My mind tells me to start a blog on design but my heart tells me to write about myself. Now, who is the egomaniac? ;)

Why start a blog?

I want to start a blog because I want to share my experiences with people. Good or bad. I can start a blog on my design experiences or a blog on my personal experiences. The design blog will reach a wider audience which is nice. But I hope that the personal blog will reach the audience, however small, on a deeper level.

There are tons of quality design blogs out there and I don’t think I can offer better content than what is already out there. I am not saying that I can offer better content than other personal blogs, but what matters is I am trying to write a blog with my heart and honesty. How much of me will you know if I write about my work?

I reckon that people who bother to probe a little bit more will discover the link to my portfolio site anyway. Those that leave based on their 3 second impression of this site, will not be the people I want to connect with. On the contrary, if there are some who actually bother reading any bit of this site and still want to connect with me, these are the people that will be quality connections. Because they want to connect with me even if I go on long-winded musings about myself, or going a step more, they see the intention behind the long winded musings about myself.

The value of being authentic

I feel that it is not easy to find authenticity on our society, online or not. How much of a person can you get to know even face to face, much less on social media? I offer myself almost like an open book, if anybody actually take the time to read it.

I very much enjoy authentic writing and I applaud people who write openly of their less-glamorous experiences. It takes courage each time to write about your emotions, your weaknesses, your failures. How many people will start judging? How many of my clients will deem me less professional because I openly admit that I have low self-esteem?

I want to tell you, that it is incredibly healing to be able to relate to someone else’s honest, emotional writing. And it is even more empowering to be able to write your own.

Why? If you can relate to the statement above, you will know what I mean.

If many more of us can open our minds and hearts, the world will be a much better place. Failures and weaknesses will not be perceived as negative, so much more hurt can be avoided with truth. If only more of us know that it is okay to be ourselves.

I have learnt that, while taking the step out to write this blog, if I am no longer afraid to be judged publicly for my weaknesses, there is nothing much else to be afraid of.

There will always be people who are critical or judgmental but it is very much worth it if you find the ones that understand and accept you for the person that you are.

Why I think it is important to share

Our society doesn’t readily accept people who are different from the mainstream. Times are changing, the society is evolving, it is definitely better than how it used to be when I was a kid. However, it still remains a challenge. Whether is it about being gay, being an artist, pursuing your dreams, discovering that truth is relative while the rest of the world believes that it is absolute. That any of us can create the reality that we want. That we’re very much conditioned to remain in a state of fear for the benefit of those in power. Or that whatever that’s not been scientifically proven can be real. That I think that us humans are egoistic for believing that we’re the only intelligent life-forms in the entire universe. Or to dismiss ancient wisdom for mumbo jumbo. That I don’t understand why we’re still trying to win peace through violence. That we’re all human beings and we all have flaws and I don’t understand why we judge people for their looks, colour, intelligence, size, etc when we know that we’re not much better ourselves?

I have been through certain radical transformations myself and thought-provoking experiences. I want to write about challenging the status-quo, about being unconventional, about trying my best about living my life differently from the mainstream. I am what geeks call a ‘use-case’ for pursuing an alternative lifestyle (no I don’t just mean the gay part) and there are plenty of others who have the courage to live their lives differently.

It is just that we are conditioned to believe that these people don’t exist or are very few and far in between. We are not. We are still the minority but we are a growing lot.

And we’re not ‘lucky’. We simply believing in having the power to create our own reality.

I write to share because I want to stand up and be counted. To be counted as one of those who defied ‘reality’ as our society perceives, and to share content of similar people, just so that maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference to the number of people encouraged to create their own reality.

I want to be the change that I want, and perhaps you can too.

I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?

John Lennon, via Paulo Coelho's blog

It is all about perception

This post was triggered while I was reading Avram Grant talk about his father. He was deeply influenced by his father, who at the age of 13 had to bury both parents and his five siblings during the second world war. His father could have become very bitter, I think nobody would take that right away from him.

But he did not. As Avram Grant recollected:

‘He actually couldn’t understand why I had gone. “Why do you live in the past?” he said. “The future! That is what life is about”. Incredible.

Avram Grant was the caretaker manager of Chelsea, almost bringing them the coveted Champions League trophy, only for John Terry to miss his penalty.

I could have been one of those stories of people who went the very wrong way. Unlike quite a few exceptional people I know, I do not seem to possess that sort of healing mechanism when one encounters a setback. I would typically be very harsh upon myself, and would end up wallowing in self-pity that could last for months, if not years.

One’s greatest enemy

I have learnt that one’s greatest enemy is not society, not survival, not anyone – but yourself. There are plenty of people out there who have gone through horrible childhoods, encountered the worst situations you could ever imagine in their youth, survived cruel twists of fate in their adulthood, and yet they take all of it in their stride and still choose to live life in the most positive manner possible.

So what is it that sets these people apart?

I feel it is the gift of perception. The perception to perceive that life has to go on no matter what, and you may as well make the best out of it. The perception to see the silver lining in every cloud. The perception to recognise that there will always be people who are worse off and yet happier. The perception to realise that truth is the better choice over deceit.

Everyone possess the gift of hindsight but not many choose to use it positively. Most people use their hindsight for lamenting about making the wrong choices. For regret. For all the things they could have done and didn’t do.

Putting it in my perspective

I had a great week this week. Not just great, but GREAT. And you know what?

I realised that I am just so grateful for all the major setbacks I have encountered in my life. It is the sort of gratitude that makes me well up inside and feel totally blessed. If not for my setbacks, I don’t think I would take myself out of my comfort zone and find that courage to pursue my happiness.

And I feel even more blessed when I realised it could all have been so different. I could have taken the ‘easier’ route of accepting that reality that I didn’t want to live in and forced myself into being someone I am not. I could have taken the other extreme and chose to numb my pain with substances.

I am fortunate, for my perception allows me to see things in a different light. I must say, this was not innate in me, it was a conscious but slow shift for the past 3 years. I was almost a completely different person if you have known me just 3 years earlier,

I guess I simply reached the bottom then, decided not to stay there and try climbing up instead.

“You cannot choose the cards you’re dealt with, but you can choose the way you play the hand”.

Further reading

How I walked out of my own darkness (part i)

On hindsight, I was very blessed and lucky, because despite all those dark thoughts and feelings I had, there was this very tiny part of me that seemed to be holding on to something. That somehow there is more to life than what I have experienced – all that pain and helplessness – that there is a greater, deeper meaning and purpose to life.

The beginnings of my spiritual awakening

I was 16, heartbroken after ending my first, ever relationship. Yes, the age whereby people assume all relationships are just made up of puppy-love. Looking back, it was the first time in my life when I truly felt loved and appreciated by someone, judged not by my success or results, but by the person I was. It was the first time I knew what it means to be happy, I actually looked forward to every day just to be with the person I loved. So, when the relationship fell apart, it felt like my whole world came crashing down. I thought that I had lost my newfound meaning and purpose to life. Crying intensely day after day for two years wondering how was I going to survive losing what was my entire world, I stumbled upon The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama.

I was never particularly religious, but something compelled me to read that book. I was probably tired of all that crying, and if there was a step-by-step guide of finding happiness, I would gladly try. One particular part of the book propelled a whole string of thought processes in my head, I cannot exactly remember the quote, but it was along the lines of:

“Imagine life like a swinging pendulum. It does not swing up or down, it swings left and right. Happiness and suffering should not be perceived as up and down, but rather as left or right…”

I was struck by that thought. That we like to attach a negativity connotation to suffering. What if we think of pain from a neutral standpoint, that it is an alternative experience to happiness, and not a negative one?

I did not know it then, but that planted the first seeds of my spiritual awakening.

There are no co-incidences

If you have watched Kungfu Panda, you might remember the tortoise master telling the panda that there are no accidents in this world. The first time I came across this concept was when someone passed me her copy of The Celestine Prophecy. It was a fictional story but it used the story to communicate several spiritual concepts. I would not say much of the quality of the writing, but back then, at the age of 19, my hair stood while reading the book because of the many epiphanies I had during the reading process. It introduced me the concept of synchronicity, whereby there are no co-incidences, everything happens for a reason, and that everyone has a purpose in your life.

The book compelled me to review my past, the roles people have played in my life, the seemingly unfortunate events that turned out to be blessings in disguise. Most importantly, I recognised that every time something negative happens to me, I seem to gain something positive out of it, eventually. This major epiphany created a re-processing of my thought patterns.

Most importantly, I recognised that every time something negative happens to me, I seem to gain something positive out of it, eventually.

Previously I would think that life had been unfair and meaningless, I allowed myself to be in the victim-mode and wallowed in self-pity. I pondered to myself, if everything happens for a reason, I can no longer have delusions about the unjust state of my life. I made myself think backwards, and the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced of its truth.

One example of a blessing in disguise

The combination of the above heart-break and my addiction to computers when I was 16 turned out to be too much to handle for me, as I did very badly for my GCE O’ Levels. The child prodigy had turned into the utter failure. My self-esteem plunged, as I blamed myself for being unable to separate my emotions from practicalities, and of course, my parents never ceased to remind me of their disappointment. For many years I could not live with the failure, I desperately wanted to prove myself, subconsciously I wanted my parents to feel like I deserved their love.

However, with the benefit of hindsight, I realised, if I had not done badly for my papers, if I had been a straight-As student as I was in elementary/primary school, I would probably gone on to complete my A levels, and then to University which I had intended to complete a liberal arts degree and step into teaching, in an attempt to follow in the footsteps of my cousins I grew up with, or rather, in a foolish attempt to gain mass approval.

I might have gotten out of that in the middle of it all, but I would probably be much more unhappier, and the fear of disappointment would have been greater, as the expectations would naturally become higher. I might have chosen a career I hated (shudder), and I might not ever get out of it.

I like the route I have chosen, even though it brought me a lot of doubt and pain, but if I had to choose all over again, to be that perceived utter failure or the child prodigy, I would gladly choose the utter failure anytime. At the very least, I can be proud to say that I had fought for what I love to do.

At the very least, I can be proud to say that I had fought for what I love to do.

Matter of perception

If, I had never read The Celestine Prophecy, if it never came to my mind the wonders of synchronicity, I might not have had the benefit of hindsight and the life-changing epiphanies. I would probably have focused very negatively on my past failures and unhappy events, and continued to perceive myself as the victim.

It is intriguing and yet powerful – the power of perception. One can choose to look at the silver-linings, or to think of oneself as the unluckiest person ever.

My original intention is to write one post on how I walked out of my own darkness, but I realised there’s too much to be written for one post. You might just fall asleep reading halfway. :P This will be followed up by a one or more parts. Thank you for your time and patience.