ALL THE FEELS CAMPAIGN
In honor of Mental Health Month, we teamed up with the amazing self-care start up called SHINE - a motivational platform that sends you daily motivational text messages to make your mornings better - for an "All The Feels" Campaign. Together, we wanted to create a series that encourages everyone to embrace the full spectrum of their emotions - not just the surface, happy ones. Early on, we decided to create a monochromatic aesthetic, where each color symbolized a different emotion. The participants involved are all individuals that have experienced some form of commercial success so our hope is to de-stigmatize the notion that people who are "successful" "attractive" "fill-in-the-blank" are devoid of feeling the darker side of their emotions and that, through storytelling, none of us are ever alone. All of our feelings are valuable and it's dangerous to put a hierarchy on them. For The Confetti Project, I'd had to advocate -to this day - that this work is so much more than rainbows and unicorns but about being present and grateful for every moment you are given, even if it's uncomfortable, challenging and dark. So these are the stories that unfolded when we asked: what emotion do you celebrate?
As someone who has lived with depression and anxiety, I feel like I've experienced emotions close to the vest. In some sense, I've muted the range of my emotions in front of other people but I also love the ability to connect with others in a way that's authentic. In comedy I feel like I can essentially be myself and do that. I especially appreciate when I feel connected to people. That usually helps me feel joyful or content in the world. Even just sharing a laugh with friends - that's such a grounding moment for me. As someone who still deals pretty regularly with depression and anxiety, I've learned to appreciate those moments where everything is more neutral and at ease. It's an ongoing up and down so when it is an equilibrium it's very nice.
I just spent two years writing something that I initially tried to write as a sort of “anti-awkwardness” book. My vague plan was to scour through the psychological science and assemble a rulebook, which would explain to readers (and myself) how to protect yourself from feeling awkward, ever again. But now I feel kind of protective over this odd little emotion. It can be so useful, if you look at it in the right light. I think awkwardness is the realization that people can see through the version of yourself you’re trying to present to the world. Say you’ve been walking importantly around your office all day, going from meeting to meeting, and it’s only at the end of the day that you realize your fly has been down the whole time. That kind of thing. It’s not the most pleasant feeling, to see yourself in an unflattering light, and realize everyone else has been seeing you that way all day, too. But I think these moments could be looked at slightly differently: they’re the times when our real, unpolished selves slip through our carefully crafted personas. We’re all trying our best to seem competent, and these moments upend our best efforts, revealing who we really are beneath the poise. I’ve started to understand this feeling, when I sense it in myself or someone else, as an opportunity for connection, for bonding with someone else over our mutual human ridiculousness.
I worry all the time and I hate worrying all the time. I worry about ruining the time I have. We live a very privileged life in this country. Sometimes when there isn't so much to worry about, you start to invent it. I think part of it is human, part of it is survival. I found a lot of strength in my family and being very present with them. Just trying to be as present as possible - that's the point of much of it. I struggle with it though. The hardest thing I try to work on is to stop myself while worrying. It's like when you're having a bad dream and you can stop yourself from the dream and say: wake up. My coach - Kate Payne - always says to me: fear is false evidence appearing real. What evidence do you really have that X or Y is going to happen? I try to practice that every day. Worry is a mix of a feeling that you almost can't quite place and then you really know that you've lost the plot. It's cycling through scenarios through your head of how something could go and they get so far off from how the thing actually is. If you stop yourself you can kind of tell: none of this has happened so I truly don't need to worry about it. When you experience anything that's tough - we all have our stories - you can get stronger at anticipating the worst possible scenario just to make sure you're covering all your bases. Survival. And that's reasonable. But after awhile when your life is stable, you don't have to do that anymore. I'm learning that muscle as we grow up and take control of our lives, whether that happens at 15, 25 or 42 is hard. We're all living in a very pronounced time in this country. How do I open doors? How do I ease the journey for others where I can? For those whose path isn't easy for the most ridiculous reasons. I worry about making sure I do my best to do that - how do I coach, connect, hire people. How do I advocate against conscious bias. I worry about seizing all those opportunities and that's really powerful.
COZINESS: As an adult I enjoy the safe space I've created for myself. Safe is one way is to describe it. Intentional is another way to describe it. My favorite moments are when I'm either home alone with a glass of wine or I've ordered/made something. I've got my little setup with music. It's raining outside. It can be game nights or movie nights with our team or friends. Things that don't require a lot of energy, thinking and talking but that are just universal joys that you can savor without extra effort. I definitely feel off-kilter when I don't get a cozy, homey moment in my week.
VULNERABILITY: Vulnerability is such a buzz word right now - in an amazing way -because of Brene Brown and what's happening in our society. When Marah and I first met we wanted to contribute to breaking that spiral of silence by helping someone else not feel weird. Usually what we're all suffering quietly with is what unites us. I love having conversations with people that are vulnerable. I think those are much more interesting than when we're pretending so I savor that and the relationships that I value. Vulnerability is such a big part of our community where everyone is raising their hand and talking about how they're working on themselves or struggling with something. I love that we are using the human experience to bring people together.
I truly believe hearing about being vulnerable and talking about your emotions was huge for me. I couldn't voice what was going on inside of me, especially when I was younger. I am a human being. I'm going to feel emotions. I'm not the only one that feels this. I was told that it's more feminine to feel - that girls are suppose to be the emotional ones. You're expected to behave and be a certain way, which was stoic. I was not a stoic kid so it became even harder to try and hide that. The more I tried to hide it, the harder it became to express myself. Whenever I repress anything it turns out to be anger and it ends up hurting other people. Asian men are also stripped of any sexuality. Asian masculinity is not being seen as attractive or desirable. That actually made me even more angry and hurt when those stereotypes come up because it really did affect my self-esteem growing up. When you take away someone's sexuality, you take away one of the most creative, beautiful energies we have as a human being. Right now, the emotion that I love to savor is feeling sexy. I love the sensual feelings that come with that. Trust me, I'm still awkward at times but it's because it's so new to be able to say: woah, asian men are sexy. We can be. It's still something I'm learning to do and it's become easier as it's being more accepted in the mainstream media and other asian men talking about it. I think all races, shapes and colors can really relate to a stereotype or unconscious bias holding them back in some way, shape or form. It's really uncomfortable talking about masculinity and sexuality for a guy because we think we know what it is but it's so much more. So that's what I really like to celebrate. Sexy and sensual for me means playfulness with sexuality. Trying not to take yourself so seriously but owning your identity, your body, your energy.
I'm always on a journey to get in alignment. There's this notion that if you're not pushing it up the hill or if you're not trying really hard, something's wrong. If it's easy then it's not meant to be. But what I've learned as I've gotten older in terms of alignment is that the universe will conspire for you and you don't have to try so damn hard. The universe wants you to be happy and help you succeed so when it doesn't feel that way, you're not aligned. My coach said this to me: what if the more joyful you are = the happier you are = the more fun you'll have = the more success you'll have? What?! I've lived my life completely the opposite way. I've lived as a martyr in many ways - work, work, work, work. I woke up and I realized I love to dance: when was the last time I danced? We withhold joy from ourselves because we think it has to be so hard. I've been trying to live my life in 2018 that way, which is the happier you are = the more fun you're having = the most successful you are. I actually have to practice being more joyful and celebrating the wins. Right now, I savor laughter and amazement. It's so attributed to my three-year-old. I'm so grateful to watch him doing something or seeing something for the first time and feeling that amazement along with him. It's one of the most amazing things about being a parent. I'm so into how he's feeling and it makes me so happy that I kind of can feel that feeling a bit. It's like bliss.
One of the other things I’ve been working on in therapy is acceptance of my emotions, acceptance of sadness in particular. The thing with depression is that it often feels like not only are you sad, but that you will live in this deep pit of sadness forever. “This is just the way things are,” your brain tells you. But that’s not true! Your depressed brain frequently lies to you. But of course, it’s hard to fight your brain! I am learning to stop trying to fight my brain so much and accept what I’m feeling in the moment. To trust that this is not permanent and the more you let yourself feel your emotions fully, there will be an end. I savor any morsel of joy I can find. Joy to me is a really good croissant, laughing with your friend that you haven't seen in years, or seeing a baby in little baby rain boots on the subway. I am jealous of babies—I want their joy. When you're depressed, it doesn't help to frown but that's all you're doing. So even just taking selfies and smiling and taking a second: here's my face. Thanks sun for shining on me!” I have also been reading a lot about mental health which has been really helpful in giving me perspective. Learning how other people have dealt with these things and seeing the ebbs and flows from the outside instead of just feeling them has been so vital. I am so, so grateful to anyone who has ever shared their mental health story. Thank you!
As you read this, this series will have been debuted on SELF Magazine's Snapchat Discoveries earlier this morning so it's exciting that its imprint can reach an even bigger audience. As someone who lost her father two years ago, my perspective on my emotions has completely shifted: I welcome my grief. Anger. Rage. Sadness. I let it pass through me, feeling clarity with each teardrop and I've found that this is how we honor ourselves: by being open enough to let our emotions pass through vs. stoping, repressing and inflicting more suffering. I tell myself two things when I am overwhelmed with any feeling: #1 - This shall pass. It is temporary and not forever. #2 - Someone in the history of humanity has felt exactly the way I do to a certain degree so I am not alone. Ever. If you are feeling any intense certain way, I hope this series has highlighted to you that we are all in this together. We had less than two weeks to create this campaign and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of it. Working with SHINE has been one of the most transformative, wonderful collaborations I have ever experienced so here's to creating work that is important and matters - all in the pursuit of featuring the raw, universal human condition.
*Please check out this series on SHINE + follow the amazing work they're doing in the space of making self-care accessible daily!