The dark side of you

What does the dark side of you look like?

Do you create based on your own dark side?

Think about it: only the complexity of all shades of grey gives a character or an art piece its life.

As a creative, would you be brave enough to face your darkness, and eventually move on from it?


The Choice

When I first realised I was going to be a mother, the question with which I struggled the most was “how do I be a good mother and at the same time be myself and have freedom?”

Yes, Freedom.
The thing that drove me 7500km away from my parents and my home.
I guess freedom is not a thing; it’s a feeling. When I can decide where I want to go and what I want to do, the feeling I have filling up my chest and makes me feel brave, excited and invincible.
That feeling.

“I don’t want to lose my freedom.” I wrote in my diary, “Would i still be free when I have a child? I want to love it, protect it, be there for it. But if I’m there for my child, I won’t be able to be wherever I want to be. A friend told me that she was never able to completely focus on other things again after becoming the mother to her son. She said there was always a part of her that’s with her son, thinking about him, caring for him, and loving him. Like her soul was split into two… I’m not sure if I’m ready to give myself up like that… Will I still have that feeling of courage and excitement for the next destination in my chest again? Or is there only going to be breast milk in there…”

I thought I had to make a choice between being a mother to her and myself. I guess most girls who consider themselves independent and free-spirited think so too. That’s why we think that being a mother will be a burden to “us”, or change who we are.

But we are changing all the time. Nobody changes us. We change ourselves, or let change happen to us.

What’s more, by the time I was pregnant, I hadn’t been able to travel alone anywhere for three years. This so-called “freedom” that I was after is not a feeling anymore. It’s just a possibility of a feeling – its the ghost of the feeling that I had many years ago.

I can’t speak for every person who became a parent. But I didn’t have to choose from “myself” and “being a mother”. Because I became a mother. I’m still me. And I just have a person more in my life that I can love with all my heart and soul. That seemed to be a good deal for me.

I can still create, speak up my mind, stand up for others, care for the ones I love, see the world, listen to stories. I can still be me.

And the good way to be a mom, as I concluded in my diary, is being myself, to show my child that being oneself is the only way to love oneself; and loving oneself is the only way to love anyone and anything in this world.

Now my daughter is here. I feel that feeling again inside of me: I want to show her the world. My world. So that one day she can discover and explore her own.

Creative lifestyle and generous leadership

Being creative is a lifestyle. We all start with the urge to express, to be heard, to hear, to communicate, to feel, to love and be loved. Then we choose a way to do that, be it writing, painting, taking photos, writing a play, cooking… anything, really.

Another thing important that I learnt this week is about how we should balance “creating for ourselves” and “for others”. Creating for ourselves is to answer the urge we have to express ourselves, to be heard. Creating for others in mind, to count on the power of empathy, is to lead.

When the productive artist (opposite from a failure) does work for themselves, has internalise the genre and culture, they are also doing it for other people. That’s why an important aspect of a creative’s practice is to internalise genres and cultures, so that she is able to do the work for herself, and do it for others at the same time.

Being generous and having the people we want to serve in mind while creating and producing make us happier and more fulfilled. Leading with generosity makes leading not just easier but also fulfilling.

What are you really doing?

A friend of mine one day came to me with a personal problem.
“Clear, I don’t think I can be with Simon.”
“Why not?”
“He wants us to get married.”
“I’m a feminist and I want to be free. You know? I want to be able to go wherever I want, whenever I want.”
“Do you love him?”
“Yes, of course! I want to be with him. But I have to be free. You know? I can’t get married.”
“You are not married right now. Do you think you are free?”

My father always complained how my mother and I always put our coats and jackets on the couch, while we were supposed to put them in the closet.

He used to tidy the living room up, including the couch area, by picking up our clothes from the living room and throwing them on the bed.

The result was obvious. The living room was “tidied up”, while the bedroom became messy.

“It’s like putting a messy bunch of things from one box to another box.” My mother used to say. “It’s just the same mess in another box.”

Sometimes we might think we are doing something while going the exact opposite way, heading to where we didn’t want to go.
We think we are liberating ourselves, as we slowly imprison ourselves in the superficiality of liberation;
We thought we are being productive, as we waste time in not working on the things that move needles.
We thought we were breaking confinements, as we use the bricks we took down to build another wall around us.

Be aware of where we are going. Ask why. And see beneath the surface.

Leaving out the ideologies and the fancy terms. What are we doing?

So to step on a path that we won’t regret.

I don’t want to miss out

When I was busy typing on my computer today, feeling a bit stressed by my daily duties to learn and create, I saw my baby daughter lying next to me, trying to pull out the pacifier from her mouth and stick her thumb in there instead.

I don’t want to miss a second of her life.

I want to soak in every moment with her, every image of her. I want to imprint them in my head so I will never forget, and so that I can always take them with me wherever I go.

I wonder what she is thinking when she’s tasting her own thumbs, when she’s staring at her own hand, when she carefully studies her father’s face…

I wonder if my mother had the same thoughts when I was a baby.

I want to record everything about this time period in her life. So that one day, if my daughter asks, I can tell her exactly how she was when she was a baby.

Working on myself and moving forward on my own path don’t have to be in conflict with spending time with her. The trick lies in one thing: be present.

Being the present is the way not to miss out on anything important.


The tricky thing about prophecy is, if you want to prevent the thing in the prophecy from happening, your actions will lead everything to exactly where the prophecy says it would go. Your actions will be the cause of that.

Like a curse.

You might be becoming like the people you dislike and promised to go up and against.

You might have already.

So do we just give up trying?

Or we just keep self-reflecting, and adjust our course?

The only thing I know is this: I don’t want to end up living where I don’t want to be living, especially now. And I don’t worry about where I will be living in the future. Because I might change my mind then.

That might be the way to break the prophecy — considering it doesn’t matter anymore.

I will be your home

Today I learnt that newborn babies can have “womb-sick” (homesick for womb) for a period of time after they were born.

And I do have homesick. The real one.

Thanks to the pandemic, I can’t fly home. Being away from my family for two years hasn’t been easy.

Home is never just a place. It’s a combination of everything in an experience.

It’s your closest family. It’s the smell of your newly washed clothes. It’s the taste of your breakfast and dinner.

For me, that home is not where I’m living right now. It’s on the other side of this world, literally.

It’s where I grew up, where I learnt what is love, where my dream started.

It’s where I always go back. It’s where my roots are.

It’s where my mother was. It was, and still is, my mother.

Then I realised, I will be home for my daughter.

She will grow up with me, learn what is love, build up her dream.

I want to be her home so she can always come back, where she can sleep well, regain her energy when she’s tired.

I love my home. But I will be hers. I’m building the space, and being the essence of that home, for her.

Because I’m strong enough to be hers, even if I’m not at mine.

We can’t escape who we are

We cannot escape who we are.

We spend most of our time as creatives to observe. To observe others, how they are, what they are doing, and how they have become who they are today.

We observe to be inspired.

But that’s when we fail to observe or to know who we are.

Our characters.

Our passion, not for others, but for ourselves.

Observing and learning about others, fascinated by others, by the experience of watching.

But the downside is, it’s easy to get lost in the observing. It’s easy to forget ourselves in the process.

Like the ability to love, we can love others better if we love ourselves.

We can tell stories better if we know our own stories.

Find who we are, so that we can then improve ourselves, our craft, in many ways.

Just mind that there is no point to wanting to be someone else.

There’s no point even to trying to escape. Think about Don Draper.

Stop playing a role.

Accept and make the best out of how we really are.

Because that’s who we are. That’s how we can truly be happy as human beings.

A strategy might be unnecessary

Some things you can get by drawing out a plan and work for it. Like to finish running a marathon.

The goal is clear. And what you need to do to reach that goal is clear: systematic training, nutrition, and rest — strategy and execution. Simple but hard.

But there are goals that are much harder to reach.

I’m not saying running a marathon is easy. Gosh no. The longest I’ve ever run was 10k and it was five years ago before I got myself a cozy home. You need great discipline to train yourself and you need strong mind power for it, too.

I’m talking about those goals that are too ambiguous to plan for it.

Like being a creative, a storyteller, or an artist.

What does it mean to be all these things above?

It’s not about what you want to do. It has something to do with what you have done.

But it has the most to do with what you are doing.

Being a creative, a storyteller, or an artist, is not about strategy. There is no concrete plan.

What you need is to keep producing, keep creating, keep shipping.

The process is all that matters to call yourself a creative, a storyteller, or an artist.

Other things are just hypes and distractions.