Thought Bubble: On Feeling Small

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Photo Courtesy: 7 Minute Miles

Let’s start with the physical manifestation of this quote.

All my life, I’ve been short. I’m 5 feet, and only just reached that milestone this year. Well acquainted with holding the title of “Shortest Person in the Class”, I’m all too acutely aware of my vertically-challenged nature.

It’s difficult to grow up having people instantly assign the labels “cute” and “innocent” to me because of my appearance.

This over-sensitivity and cognizance of my size has led to me have a Napoleon complex, according to my mother.

(However, fun fact: Napoleon wasn’t actually that short. I know, your mind is probably blown from this historical fallacy.  In fact, he was taller than the average Frenchman at the time.)

I don’t necessarily agree that I’m “aggressive”, but it has made me wonder whether my character traits have developed as a result of me trying to compensate for falling short in stature (pun intended). My friends have more than once remarked that I’m different than how they had originally perceived me to be. When I had asked them to elaborate, adjectives like “shy”, “quiet”, and “sweet” were common. Now, they describe me as, “ambitious”, “outgoing”, “intelligent”, and “well-spoken”.

But in the end, these are just labels. I’ve been called everything from stupid to sophisticated. I give them their power. And I shouldn’t let them, or my height, define who I am.


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Another way in which I’ve “felt small” was when I was going through a mild bout of depression. But, nothing about depression is mild. It wasn’t to the point where I felt a desire to kill myself, but I had become disillusioned with life.

Knowing that you’ll die isn’t a realization, but it seems like it when it finally hits you. It’s like a leak in the ceiling that you’ve ignored, but when it finally bursts open, it’s a flood. I was drowning in figuring out how to accept this perpetual, sinking feeling that I had.

I will die. All of those that I have ever loved it met will die. All of humanity will die, until there is not even the barest trace of our existence left.

Those were the words playing in a constant loop in my mind.

It used to be I would ignore it, push it back into the depths of my brain and hope it would get lost amongst the chaos. Now, it’s something I accept. It’s a selfish desire to want to be immortal, but an innate one.

We have a life right now, stretched out before us. And the actions we take will that path, the end we know not.

I want these steps I take not be like footprints in the sand, washed away as quickly as they came, but to leave an indelible mark.

I want this road I travel to have twists and bends along the way that I shape almost as much as they shape me.

In Times Past: What If

This week’s featured poem from my childhood is a major throwback to 2013. I remember that the idea came to me in a rather stereotypical manner-like a stroke of lightning. You could almost see the thought bubble hovering above me as I urgently scratched my pencil across paper, my fingers were racing to catch up to my thoughts.

The inspiration came from the “what ifs” that I often pondered about in life as well as the depression that I was going through at the time.


What if
I could take pain and suffering
and introduce them to peace and freedom

What if
I could teach people that they are overthinking
slowly shrinking
slowly sinking

What if
I could show you
to see you must open up your mind
To love you must open up your heart
And to live you must open up your soul

What if
I could rewrite our words and put war as a synonym for history
Instead of mystery
and misery

What if
I could go back in time and tell people not to waste our resources
But who would listen if they don’t listen right now?

What if
I could fix every heartbreak with a bandaid
Use an eraser for every bad grade

What if
Every bad thing in the world disappeared
Nothing feared
But nothing overcome and persevered

One Way Ticket Down Memory Lane

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Photo Courtesy: The Odyssey Online

I am a person who delights in nostalgia. I romanticize and idealize the past. It is a suspended moment of time seeming to be filled with infinite possibility, wonder, and hope.

Recently, I happened upon some of the old poems I wrote when I was younger and I thought it would be fun to share here on my blog in a new series of posts I’ll call “The Wonder Years”. It seems like a fitting name as the show (which is a favorite of mine, btw) seems to mirror the same sentimental feel to it that I so relish.

Today, I’ll be sharing a poem I wrote in 6th grade entitled, “Open Your Eyes”. I was inspired to write this after being exposed to the horrific conditions of third world countries. I tried to summarize how I felt about the injustice of it and how entitled and oblivious those of us in America are.


You think you’ve got it bad
Look at those who’d rather die
Because it’s easier than living
With others
With themselves

Have you seen children,
As thin as the line we walk,
As delicate as our emotions

Covered with fleas and mosquitoes
Infested with malaria and malady

To the point where the only resemblance
Of a human
Is two dead eyes
Staring at you

Have you seen bloodless faces,
Void of emotion and life
Already dead in the inside

Have you been one of them
Death already a resident in your life

You think you’ve got it bad
Take a look
Open your eyes

The American Dream

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Classic American literature and iconic figures, like The Great Gatsby and Abraham Lincoln, seem to embody the epitome of the American spirit and capture the rags to riches story that seems to define the elusive American Dream. But, what is it? Is the American Dream a promise, a hope, a theoretical concept?

The American Dream: an ideal that encompasses all of the romanticized promises of the Declaration of Independence. “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Even at the time of when this document became ratified, it had already been narrow in whom its rights were granted to. A more accurate statement would have been, “all white, landowning men are created equal”. This begs the question, if the American Dream is real, is it as equally attainable as it is said to be?

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A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston revealed that the chasm between classes has grown. This inequitable distribution of wealth, and consequently opportunity, has decreased the mobility of the lower class. This ultimately destroys the idea of the American Dream. Though there is much dispute about the true interpretation of this abstract conjecture, it is agreed upon that the American Dream entails the ability to achieve a better life. However, is it simply the opportunity for a better life or the definitive promise of it?

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Throughout history, America has gone against the very principles it preaches. This has been demonstrated in such events as slavery, segregation, Japanese internment camps, prejudice against immigrants, the women’s’ suffrage movement, Gamergate, and countless others. Equality, true and invariable equality, is something that has evaded this country time and time again. In my opinion, the American Dream cannot truly exist, until it applies to all people; regardless of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, financial situation, or any category we typecast others into.

All Work and No Pay: The Internship

I’ve had the chance to intern twice so far for the Youth Competitive Programming Circle, a local nonprofit that promotes coding literacy in youth. What really has set this experience apart is this:

  1. YCPC was founded by students for students.
    A teenager from my school (only a freshman at the time) managed to turn a mere club at school into a fast-growing 501(c)(3) corporation that has acquired supporters like Microsoft, Lumosity, Slack, and Github.
  2. YCPC is student-run, and is advised by a board of esteemed individuals and volunteers.
    This creates a unique work environment, filled with like-minded individuals with whom I share a similar drive and age with. This makes collaborations so much more efficient and it’s such a stimulating atmosphere to be exposed to.
  3. It’s pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone. I have struggled in the past with trying to advance myself for fear of failure. I suddenly seem to contract Imposter Syndrome, and fill my mind with distractions and excuses. But, with an internship, there are other people reliant on me to complete tasks. This has forced me to do what is needed for YCPC, and jolted me out of my comfort zone. I guess, some of my fear dissolved thanks to the fact that at YCPC, I’m surrounded by so many encouraging colleagues. I think that this experience has been a great opportunity for me to grow as a person.

The first time I interned at YCPC, I was on the writing team. Though, this was definitely playing to my strengths and not really allowing me to develop new skills.

This time around, I decided to put myself out there more and joined the grants team. This later evolved into two separate teams, grants writing and fundraising. I am in the latter, and so far, the work has been difficult enough to challenge me, but familiar enough that I feel more assertive about taking on responsibilities.

Me and my partner, Katherine, have been in-charge of contacting places to hold fundraisers as well as brainstorming ideas for promotion. I thought I would share some of the work that we’ve been doing:

YCPC Ascona Fundraiser Flyer

Here’s the flyer for the first fundraiser we arranged. This was one of many versions that I designed. I used everything from Be Funky to Adobe Spark to Gimp in order to create them. The final design was an amalgamation of two designs (the most aesthetically pleasing and the most functional) and incorporated the input of my friends.


I was trying to think of a unique way of integrating technology into our promotional efforts. I mean, we are a tech company. In addition, and speaking from experience, I realized that teenagers (our target age), can be lazy. I knew that we had to make it as easy for them as possible to participate in our fundraiser, so that they might actually be enticed to do so.

Ultimately, I came up with the concept of using a Snapchat On-Demand Geofilter, specifically designed for each of our fundraisers, to replace flyers. Flyers work not only for promotion, but are also shown at the time of purchase to the cashier in order to indicate one’s participation.

After playing around with design and researching the cost, I realized that this could actually be feasible. And not only that, but effective.

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For less than the price of a pack of gum, we could buy a Geofilter specifically for the date and time of our designated fundraiser.

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Here’s the prototype design for the Snapchat Geofilter. Some elements that will be changed are the size, adjusting the background to meet requirements, and possibly adding a logo.

Inspiration: Nelson Mandela

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This is such a great quote because it describes one of our flaws as humans. In times of despair and insecurity, we fall victim to instinctual defensiveness and act more upon what we feel is easier, and will protect us in a way.

Instead…

May your choices be defined by acts of perseverance and bravery in these moments.

May you always keep a hopeful mindset and let your dreams be your motivation, in place of worries and frets.

May your path always be brightly lit,
may you always have room to grow.
May you always keep a child-like spirit,
and never lose a sense of curiosity.

May you stay true to humility,
and always work hard.
May you always appreciate what others do,
both big and small.

Feminism

fem·i·nism
/ˈfeməˌnizəm/
noun

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.


There it is; the actual dictionary definition of what feminism is. Why exactly is it then that there are there so many different interpretations and misconceptions about what it means?

Why is the word feminist so taboo? In a HuffPost/YouGov poll, a mere 20% of Americans identified themselves as feminists. However, the irony here is that 82% of the survey respondents agreed that “men and women should be social, political, and economical equals”. The poll also revealed that more people saw the word feminist in a negative way.

Photo Courtesy: Michelle Phan

To me, being a feminist is this:


1. Someone who chooses to acknowledge the equality and humanity of women.

There are so many predetermined stereotypes and gender roles prevalent in our society, that it can be difficult to against all the stimuli we are being inundated with. A feminist recognizes that these socially accepted norms are not what define us, and that we have the power to change them.

You’d be surprised by the sheer number of influential movies that do not pass the Bechdel Test. Colin Stokes had a great TED Talk on the subject called, “How movies teach manhood“.

Photo Courtesy: Imperfectly Poised

2. A person who wants there to be equality for both men and women, and is willing to say so proudly.

Let’s set the record straight: being a feminist is NOT synonymous with being a man-hating woman who doesn’t shave their legs. You won’t believe how many times I’ve heard this.

Right now, there is a serious lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) occupations, law, and many other proffesional fields. Although women make up half of the U.S. workforce, they only account for 24% of the STEM workforce.

Not only that, but millennial women are being paid $20,00 less per year than their male counterparts with the same education level.

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To top it all off, there are very real, very relevant issues like GamerGate circulating. In case you are unfamiliar with what GamerGate is, it’s more than just a meme for video game enthusiasts.

GamerGate is a serious issue that is spurring the idea that it is somehow acceptable to harass women in the video game industry, not just that, but even necessary.

Any person who has spoken out about it has faced the wrath of the hackers who feel it is their duty to continue this movement.

But, they have gone to the extreme, even going as far as to successfully threaten women out of their own homes-one of the most prominent cases being that of female video game developer, Brianna Wu.

This snowballing social movement has come to the attention of more and more people as we have become aware that the consequences of their radical actions extend farther than just the video game community.

Here is an insightful article about a person’s first-hand account of the nastiness that followed aftering speaking up about GamerGate on Twitter. Also, Refinery29 has shed some light on its origins, who’s behind it, and how much leverage they have.


Oh, and another thing: Men can in fact be feminists. Some famous names include musician John Legend, actor Ryan Gosling, and the Dali Lama who once said, “I call myself a feminist. Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”

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As part of UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson delivered a thoughtful speech summarizing many of the issues that HeForShe is aiming to overcome and explains why gender inequality matters for men too.


Of course, there is still much left up in the air about the distinction between feminism and supporting gender equality.

There’s also debate about whether a man can truly be a feminist or if GamerGate is more about media ethics than sexism, but most of it is up to opinion.

I’ve chosen to view this issue in this way because of an astounding amount of evidence and personal experience with sexism.

Being viewed as less competent or capable because of something as innate as gender is unacceptable. Since when is it alright for “feminine” or “girly” to be seen as derogatory or an insult? Or, that doing something “like a girl” should be associated with weak fragility?

This post wasn’t about trying to encourage everyone to become a feminist, each person should have their own choice about that. It is simply to bring awareness on the issues with gender inequality in our world today and clear up some of the fallacies about feminism.

In the end, for me it is about recognizing all people as equals-no matter their gender, race, social status, or any other thing we too often base our judgement on.

More Resources:

What Feminism Means, According To Kids | Hello Giggles

One Word – Episode 5: Feminism (Women) | WatchCut Video