3:01am

I got the feels right now… It’s funny how it works isn’t? One action or moment happens that calls and provokes a specific emotional response then all of a sudden the rest of your mind, body, and soul cave it and everything overflows. 

My friend is flying out tomorrow to New Zealand for a 9-month acting gig. I’m so proud of him. A few hours ago we hugged and said our see you laters. I cried a little. It seems that the grind hasn’t completely harden my soul.

Something about that moment was so beautiful. One last horrah with the group of friends. I’ve known the group for roughly 2 or 3 years now. Time jumps —that’s an understatement. Everyone (including myself) is growing up. We’re growing, we’re changing. Not one person left the gathering with a dry eye. You can’t help but feel happy and a sense of pride when you watch someone grow over the years. Especially when you’ve seen the person put in the hours day in and day out. I’m going to miss this guy, but I’m so proud to see him go. 

My friend is leaving. I think the realization that my friends are coming and going is reigniting the sense of memento mori in me. We will all eventually die. And then that’s it. Everything we have and that we experience will all be gone. So with the limited time we have left, what do you want to do with it? As time goes on I’m reminded that I want to enrich my life by sharing it with the lives of others. We’re all on different timelines. Who knows when will we each individually go? I’m choosing relationships as a priority in life. 

11:32PM

a little reminder/note to myself

Hi Tumblr, 

My name is Melly and today I’m explodingly happy. Happy in the way that I pretty much spent a good hour dancing and singing in my room. I can’t stop smiling. I just feel awesome right now. …and dare I say sexy? :O So what dramatic change has occurred to simulate this rush of joy? Absolutely nothing! Nothing has changed, but oddly I feel at complete with life. Maybe I’m finally growing into my own skin? But really I just wanted to write this overly joyous fist-pumping note to myself because I rarely feel like this. And this feeling is absolutely amazing. I’m happy. I think I’m happy because I feel like I’m moving to a good place in life where the people around me are a solid foundation. I’m overcoming my fear or judgement. I’m shifting my identity away from conforming labels. Rarely does my over analytical ADHD brain allow me to focus on being alive in the moment. Normally my mind drifts off into the past and forward into the future. Rarely am I here in the now. My past is my history but it doesn’t determine who I will be. And my future is out of my hands. Only in the now do I have the choice and power to shift my perspective and embrace the journey for what it is. I’m happy. Feels awesome. 

Sidenote: Turning off my personal Facebook account and cutting toxic people out of my life is probably the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.  

3:05am

Change is definitely happening. I’m not the same person as I was a year, a month, let alone a week ago. Mentally, physically, and emotionally I’ve grown. Visiting Korea earlier this month did a serious number how I value and view my relationships. 

I can confidently say that photography is no longer #1 in my life. As corny as may come off I’ve never been able to whole heartedly state that before. Don’t get me wrong I’m still in love with the craft, but I’m learning that I value the time spent with superb loved ones over anything else. I can have my photography whenever I please, but memories and moments with friends and family are a once in a lifetime thing. 

Since I acknowledge these changes stirring within myself I decided to keep pushing the change and switch up the hair too. Haha no more traditional Asian hair.

3:05am

Change is definitely happening. I’m not the same person as I was a year, a month, let alone a week ago. Mentally, physically, and emotionally I’ve grown. Visiting Korea earlier this month did a serious number how I value and view my relationships.

I can confidently say that photography is no longer #1 in my life. As corny as may come off I’ve never been able to whole heartedly state that before. Don’t get me wrong I’m still in love with the craft, but I’m learning that I value the time spent with superb loved ones over anything else. I can have my photography whenever I please, but memories and moments with friends and family are a once in a lifetime thing.

Since I acknowledge these changes stirring within myself I decided to keep pushing the change and switch up the hair too. Haha no more traditional Asian hair.

1:28AM I don’t have answers —but I’m okay with that

Let’s dive into the inner workings of the Melly aka me! Okay lame opening but whatever. How are we all doing on this fine night? For the past few days I’ve been undergoing headaches and emotional burst of growing pains and confusion. I think I’ve finally come to the realization that right now at this very moment I will not and cannot find the answers and solutions that I desperately desire. And the only entity that has such things is time. Time provides when it believes it’s appropriate. 

Oddly though I’m feeling at great ease and peace with my lack of knowledge. Currently I’m caught in a Catch-22 situation.

Personally I wish other creatives would share more of their awkward transitional periods. Everyone talks about started from the bottomthe struggle is real, (how many bad cultural references can I insert into a sentence?!) but no one really talks about what do you when you’re almost there. I almost have a rep. My work is almost there. I’m almost out of the house. I’m almost there. But I’m not there. So many questions so few answers. 

Where am I? and where am I going?

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I know I’m lost in transition, but that’s not an exact location now is it. As far as where I’m going that’s uncertain to. I think I know where I want to go, but in honesty I feel like the ending of Castaway (2000.) Stuck as crossroads. I’m so close to where I want to be, but simultaneously the other road is temptingly close. 

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Social media gets highly frustrating as well. With all the feeds and constant updates I feel like I’m frequently bombarded with my own slow-paced inferiority. Facebook especially. Somehow that platform has the power to seemingly selectively engage you with your friends whose lives appear to be moving onward to the next stage faster than you. Friends, peers, acquaintances are buying houses, getting married, pumping out babies, getting promotions, etc. and what am I doing? Still trying to be a photographer.

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Who am I?

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I don’t know who I am right now because things are drastically changing. I’m no longer equating my identity with my occupation. It’s not safe to invest your core being into an object or title. I want to find out this answer so bad (we all do.) Ironically I know that none of us will ever find this answer because simply our life is the journey of discovering who we are. Maybe since I’m embracing the journey the less upset I am.

What do I believe in?

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I don’t know what this question even means anymore. I’m lost without purpose or motivation. What’s the point in creating art when there’s no drive? It’s that dang Catch-22 again. The stories I want to tell are being limited by budget. But! Who says you need a budget to tell a great story. But without basic necessities can you even tell a story? There’s an example of my back and forth analytical thinking. 

Am I Loved?

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Well this is a stupid question to ask myself. Of course I’m loved. I’m amazingly blessed by a handful of friends that I can be myself around, that won’t judge me, that accept me for the weird hyper dork that I am, and remind me that I’m stuck with them for awhile. 

It’s just up to me now to also decide that I love them to. Personally (and maybe harshly) I don’t think I’ve been a good friend. 

Friends are tricky because they aren’t really yours, are they? You don’t own them. They are their own people who have their own wants and needs — people who will always put themselves ahead of you and your goals. Friends are great to have, but relying on them too heavily will leave you disappointed.

Those who live happy lives have very close friends, but they keep their independence in order to avoid those moments. It’s the lack of independence and over-reliance that often comes to ruin friendships — all relationships for that matter. - Elite Daily

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I have a habit and tendency to push people away in order to avoid feeling let down. I don’t allow myself to feel or be loved. At the risk of sounding stupid maybe and quite possibly:

I’m afraid being loved.

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I grew up in a household where the people who should have been the closest form of warm and affection, were the ones who drove me into depression and harm. Logically as a result I made a conscious decision to keep those benevolent towards me at arms reach. Close enough to which we could engage, far enough to keep me from life scarring harm.   

I really have to make strides in the coming months if I want to change this aspect of me. Otherwise I’m going to be stuck like this during the epic lows of the creative life:

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In conclusion of my cathartic release I have no idea what my life is going to look like in a month… a year.. who knows. Somehow I’m okay with it and I’m going to attribute that to personal growth. Maybe now is the moment where I’m supposed to be sowing the seeds that will result in a fruitful harvest later? The only thing that matters is that I matter and I offer some value to the world. Things aren’t going well right now, but at the same time things aren’t dire. I’m alive, breathing, and have a whole new tomorrow to attack life.

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2:21AM

I was speaking to a friend over the phone conferring my quagmires in creative world. I’m speaking of that catch 22 syndrome of not having money but then needing money to produce portfolio work in order to land jobs that gets you money and this begins the cycle of making a living. 

He pretty much said that if money was such a factor in the arts then only millionaires would be great artists. 

That resonated so strongly to me. Humble beginnings, own them! 

10:19PM - Throat Lump

I got a lump in my throat. Metaphorically and physically (it appears that I’ve caught something while in Korea —gah no voice for a few days.) Metaphorically though I have that lumpy feeling in which you feel something is caught and stuck there. Many, many thoughts are spinning every direction in my head. I feel that so much is being asked of me, but the thing is that I know I can handle it. It’s simply a matter of choosing and committing to the actions that need to be done. 

If you’ve followed my story for some time now then you’ll know that I was a bio kid, drop out, focused on photography, when back to school, got an art degree, then tried even harder to make it with photography. That’s the short story. Let’s call it Chapter 1. 

Well Chapter 2 is about to start. I’ve had agencies reaching out to me for representation and/or management. I turned down two of them so far. The third I’m still in talks with, but there’s a lot they need from me to get me to the next level. During out meetings they have me honest critiques and breakdown what they needed me to be in order for them to rep me. I already knew everything that they mentioned. They just reenforced it. There’s a lot of work ahead of me. 

I’m talented. Yes. I work hard. Yes. I’m smart. Yes. But guess what there’s a bunch of other creatives just like me. Welcome to the bigger pond Melly! My mind is bouncing because frankly I’m scared. Scared that I can’t do it —“make it.” not because I’m not capable of doing so, but because my mental/emotional intelligence is not up to par —yet. I wrote in my last update about how I wanted to be more active in my relationships and the events that occurred tonight only back it up even more. 

If I’m going to commit to arising to the challenge of growing into the artist that I need to be in order to succeed (and literally not die) my resources will need to be reprioritized. The main resource being time and emotional energy. I foresee it coming and it goes along side that one speech of How Bad Do You Want It?"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful" 

I not only want it, I need it. If I can’t make this work, then I have nothing. Out of school I chose to jump into this competitive field. I have no other job experience. I have to make this work. I just have to get my head straight. 

When I think of where my resources are going. So much energy will need to be invested into my craft. The time for preproduction, the precision, and the building of a solid team. Everything is so crucial.

But what of relationships and the dangers of workaholism? Now more than ever I need to be precise and intent with the people I chose to have relationships with. I can’t be friends with everyone. 

It breaks me as much as it would break anyone. As humans we all want to feel like we belong somewhere and people generally like us. The fact of the matter is that I can’t have a lot of friends. With where I’m going I won’t have enough energy and time to develop and maintain solid relationships if I’m aimlessly casting a net. I must be committed, loyal, and loving. Otherwise I’ll probably go crazy. 

I also must be wise with the power of discernment. I feel that part of growing up is learning when to say “no” and knowing who to shut out. 

Clarity will be a key component in the next few months. I need to be honest with myself and those around me. I can’t tarnish the openness and transparency by inviting toxic people to walk along with me. They will get me sick in the end. Don’t get me wrong this is very hard for me. I have friends whom I’ve shared awesome memories and adventures with, but when I stop and think about it. I know they won’t be there for me in the end. Those types of people have to go. And the time I would have spent with them should be reinvested into my art and to the good people that I have around me. They deserve it. 

Chapter 2 is underway and as they say. It’s the transition years that are the most exciting. 

1:01AM

Now that I’m back from Korea I’m getting re-acclimated to the daily grind of the getting-out-of-the-starving-artist life routine. Aka emails, editing, writing, producing, repeat. It’s been awhile since I traveled with friends for the pure sake of fun and enjoyment (usually my travels are work based.) I think the last extended trip I took for fun with non-industry friends was my high school road trip up to Canada with Jason and Daniel —that was years ago! 

Usually during my solo trips I find many moments of introspection and time for reflection. This last trip I didn’t find any of that. Instead my mind was occupied with enjoying the moments with great company. I really need to do that more in life. I wasn’t thinking about emails, creating content, or figuring out how I was going to produce my next project. I was just having fun. and I loved every moment of it. 

However, now that I’m back in California the introspection is hitting me all at once. I’m used to traveling with my industry friends —fellow creative starving artists trying everything they can to make it. This company is splendid because they keep you motivated and on stop of doing everything you can to push the envelop and survive. For this particular trip I visited Asian for the first time with my old hallmate from freshman year and one of classmates from art class. Honestly it was a breath of fresh air. I didn’t feel the pressure of having to be “on” all the time. I also didn’t feel the fear of rejection. What’s this? Honest relationships? Gasp! 

I’m reflecting now on the people I chose to keep in my life. And by that I’m talking about the people we allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable to. —People that we don’t have to be “on” for. Part of me feels tremendously guilty. It’s been almost 4 years since college graduation and I haven’t spent that much time with my (we’ll call them) non-industry friends. Since finishing school I immediately jumped into that grind. That grind to make itTo “succeed.” But really what am I grinding away for? To make a better photo? To shoot another famous person? I need to rediscover a why for myself. Because a why grounded in a strong identity and moral overwhelms any superficial/materialistic one. I’m bringing up my questioning of why because after traveling with my old college friends my introspection is hitting me with guilt. It’s been 4 years since we finished school and where have I been? The grind and not in their lives. And it’s not just in the two I traveled with. I honestly haven’t been an active friend in many of my past friends’ lives. 

Sure you can stay that I’m busy, but then we’re all busy. It’s a matter of finding harmony and making time for others that have greater soulful value. It’s guilt and possibly shame that I’m undergoing. Perhaps I felt that my friends were only there to serve me? Serve me in the sense that whenever I needed emotional support they would be there for me in a blink. And when things were smooth sailing I’d go off on my ambitious tangents and disappear. I don’t want to be that kind of friend anymore

Ironically as well I started my Not A Starving Artist blog to keep my high school friends and specially 9peacefulchaos8 vellicant updated on my whereabouts and activity (see first post). The majority of my friends back home became doctors, engineers, or some other practical profession made a running joke of how I will one day die because of my art. And my friends from college had a joke of how I would appear randomly at event and hangouts then disappear/die for weeks to months only to reemerge again. 

Before I left for Korea I was dealing with a (what I like to think as a slight) depression. Being on the creative grind for so long takes a toll on you in many ways: financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I found ways to defeat 3 of the 4 consequences. The emotional one I’m still in the process of figuring out. This path that I have chosen is extraordinary lonely. Generally the people that understand your livelihood the most are busy, which is also why you try to get on the same projects as each other. You become friends with the people you work with. They become your second family. However, you’re not always on the same project together and you’re not always available for each other. My actual family still isn’t 100% behind me either. The loneliness hurts and for a long time I’ve blamed the people around me for abandoning me. Not including me, ignoring me, or only summoning me when I was useful for a particular situation. I’m realizing now that relationships are a two-way street and perhaps my loneliness is a result of my own doing.

I have to take initiative and make effort to contact people for non-work purposes. I have to be active in my relationships. I can’t be that friend that only contacts you whenever she needs a shoulder or expect people to reach out when I show no interest. It’s time to change and make effort. As cheesy as it may sound I feel that this might be my ultimate test as a creative: Can I successfully find a harmonic balance between enriching relationships and work? Aka I must un-learn how to be a workaholic. 

I’m down. Let’s do this! 

9:00AM

Ironically one of the most annoying things to happen is when you start to get traction and then everyone thinks you have money. All of sudden you’re a dirtbag to a high roller. That’s not the case. Reality is that as you increase business and as you age progressively the overhead gets higher.

There’s only two options to remedy this. 

1. Push on 

2. Die.

Let’s push on. 

9:46PM - Taking Back Control

Between my artist hustle and photo shoots, I’ve been picking up multiple side hobbies. —and of course I’d love to share them with the internet world! 

However it’s funny how the internet created a personal brand for essentially everyone and anyone. All of a sudden certain expectation arise from followers. And then the number of said followers disconcertingly assumes a certain worth or value. I’m speaking of course about followers/subscribers for blogs and various social media platforms. Given that a good portion of my business relies of social media for promotion and marketing it doesn’t make sense for me to showcase content that isn’t photography related. 

Thus, I’m taking back control over this blog! Not A Starving Artist started off as a place for me to keep my friends back home updated with how I was doing as a growing artist. Directly indicating that my occupational pursuits have not caused me to starve to death yet. Randomly one of my posts went viral  and shot this tumblr following from 6 to over 1,000 in one night. Given my experience as an entrepreneur and social media strategist I understood the types of individuals from the overnight wave and began consistently pumping out content that would cater to their liking. Funny how things work out once things get popular. Everything feels to contrived. 

So starting today, this again will be my personal blog outlet thing-a-ma-bobber. My following here will probably drop, oh well. However if you’d like to stay and tag along my ride then I welcome you with open arms :) 

You’re probably going to see my attempts at cooking, my attempts at calligraphy, my attempts at fitness, just me exploring different interests. 

Wow, this was a long post just to say that I’m turning this into a personal blog again. Lol. 

3:24am EST random thoughts

Commit to the passion, not the idea of things. Too many people are in love with an idea of something rather than being in love with a passion. Passion requires work, patience, and desire. Ideas are a good start, but without proper nurturing they are fleeting.

Do you believe in Fate? Chance? or Luck?

I always find myself caught in a periodic introspective reflection. A lot of things have happened and are happening that I have no control over. I have no idea what these things mean or what the outcome would be. However somehow in hindsight everything makes sense. 

I can’t wait for the day when I can completely free myself from personal judgement and worry. 

10:04

My mind keeps jumping back and forth. Get a normal job. It’s safer and frankly if you can find anything right now you’d be lucky. Part of me still worries about this, but another part is telling me that I am consciously making the decision to pursue my dreams. And if I’m consciously making the decision then it’s my sole responsibility to follow through. This is the side of me that keeps fighting. And I will keep fighting. 

11:06PM (2013 Reflections)

What’s up Tumblr peeps, 

It’s been awhile since I wrote a personal update. I guess that’s because usually only during the times when I have something emotively frustrating to release that’s when I turn to this blog. My apologies if this isn’t a funny or inspirational post that normally gets broadcasted here, please understand that sometimes it’s nice to have a cathartic release. :)

There’s about 2 days left of this year. And I can’t deny that it’s been a blessed year. Looking back I have nothing but fond memories. I feel I’ve grown so much as an artist. I can’t really describe the feeling in better terms than a sense of freedom. Imagine standing on the edge of a cliff and jumping without the fear of going splat. That’s what it feels like. Everything that I could possibly want is visible. —It’s not within grasps yet. But I can see it, feel it, and therefore anything is possible. I’m happy with that and I think I can safely say that I like the person that I’m becoming. 

Another thing that unexpectedly happened this year that I’m also happy with is the growth of the relationships I have with the people around me. Growing up I’ve always seen people as something temporary. Friends, family, peers, etc. I’ve always looked at them as people who existed out of convenience or purpose. Once location, schedules or usage was completed people would uproot and leave you. In the past I had accept this as an overall generalization and reality of who the people around me were. I think we all know that this is a defense mechanism. If I never shared my life with anyone else, when or if they left I would never feel any hurt —because it was expected. Unexpectedly this view is changing. I honestly can’t say that I’ve fully accepted this change yet, however working towards it is progress, right?

As a kid, teenager, and young adult I’ve always blamed my upbringing for my inability to be emotionally available. Even at home around my immediate family, aunts, uncles, and my many cousins I never felt a sense of belonging. Especially in an Asian American family your expected to always where this strange mask, facade thing. The perception of being on top of everything, being perfect, and everything is always good. Couple this forced faced with a way chill, suburban, beach town upbringing and you get me. You know that scene from Garden State (2004) where Zach Braff’s character is tripping on drugs while everyone else in the room is moving at a fast pace? That’s the sensation I feel among blood related family members. 

That same sensation I carried within myself for as long as I can remember. In college I’d tried to break the habit but my attempts were always half assed. In my mind the people that you thought you cared about would always leave you in the end. 

Thankfully this year I think I’ve made bigger strives at changing. I’ve allowed myself to be open with others. To share moments and memories. You know the ones where you celebrate each other’s success or just simple moments of life. And we can’t forget about the ones where we’re all so broke and poor that you go walking up and down a street looking for coins for the meter. Perhaps this is what it’s like to grow old together. It’s like watching a story unfold except it’s real life. Damn I’m so cheesy, but that’s ok I like that about myself. Of course letting myself be more open also meant that got to experience one of my greatness fears: rejection and heartbreak. Nothing is more painful than being told that you’re not wanted. An heartbreak hurts on a variety of levels, I’m not talking about romanic ones. The feeling being lead on in any type of relationship and then coming to the realization that everything was a lie cuts deep. I found myself discovering people who would call me “family” weren’t anything but your typical “Hollywood” people. It saddens me because I honestly thought they cared. Moving forward though I’m glad I’ve got to experience this. Somehow it makes me feel more invincible. And it makes the people who are actually there for you even more special.

As I continue to look back I’m engulfed in a letting go spirit. Letting go of everything. My fears, my insecurities, my need to live up to everyone’s expectations, and the perception of being perfect. Perfection is overrated, fuck being perfect. Hmm I think I sound a bit hipster, oh well! I’ve noticed this year with any personality who “puts themselves out there” there’s always a seeming need to be perfect with perfect-relatable-flaws, a desire to inspire, and to be on some sort of pedestal. Given the growth of my blog and social media following in some way I’ve felt that pressure of perfection. 

I’m saying now screw it. I’m not perfect, I’ll probably never be perfect. And that’s ironically perfectly okay. I’m never going to know if the friends around be are always going to be around. There’s not a 100% chance that photography will work for me. And I can’t even say for sure if I’m ever going to be more than a starving artist. But I’m okay with that. I’m more okay and accepting of myself than I’ve ever been. A sign of maturity within myself perhaps? Whatever it is I’m lighter than a cloud now. Everyday I get another chance to try and that’s something to celebrate. My situation might not be ideal, but then again not knowing how the story will end is part of the fun. I have amazing people that walk in and out of my life. I have a stubborn drive to do something creative with my life.

It’s weird because back in high school when the teachers would ask you what you’d like your life to be life after college, I would have never expected my life to be like this! In fact as a high schooler I probably would have judged my present self to have failed in life. “Not having a stable job, boyfriend, community, man Melly you suck!” said high school Melly. It’s funny because it feels like everything I’ve experience in the past was all prep. Like preproduction or training. Somehow it feels like my life is only beginning to start —like some bigger adventure is waiting for me. I’m romantic, I’m cheesy, I’m awesome. 

Thanks to everyone who has walked with me this year. Let’s do it big next year!

I can’t wait for 2014 :) 

11:21pm

Some nights you’re sure of things and some nights you’re wondering if what you’re doing is even right. Tonight is the latter. 

My meals today: 

Breakfast: 3 eggs

Lunch: peanut butter, kale, almond milk, blueberries smoothie

Dinner: apricots (2x)

I spend most of my time driving from location to location trying not to fall asleep behind the wheel during the process. Yep tonight I am a starving artist