Author Archives: Kelly in Saturn

Knowing When to Leave

Dear reader,

The content below discusses implied self-harm.

One of the most challenging things I’ve done is recognizing when a relationship isn’t working and knowing when to leave. I want to talk about some of the experiences I’ve had when I know that a relationship is bad for me, and how I came to that conclusion.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of conversations about bad friendships or relationships and what they would look like. The idea I had of any toxic relationships was very black and white: the other person would appear to be an obvious villain, and I would just know when to leave. In reality, my relationships have been much more nuanced. The longer I’ve known someone, the more I can justify their presence in my life. Of course, when a person has hurt me or hurt my boundaries, the justification applied nonetheless.

This was the case with a friend in high school. I remember back then, I had very little sense of how to set my emotional boundaries. I would let them unabashedly tell me their feelings and their traumas at any time. I thought this was a good thing, but increasingly, these feelings held a lot of weight. I was proud that they trusted me so much to let me see them as their most vulnerable self. But I also felt solely responsible for their well-being. I would place their mental health before mine. I would lose sleep over wondering if they would hurt themselves.

Gradually, I began to feel like I needed space and would tell them this. I would say I was taking a break from social media while checking my messages to see if they hadn’t dropped massive texts venting to me. Although they would give me space, they would make me feel guilty about needing it. And more importantly, they didn’t listen to me. When I would try to tell them about my feelings and how one-sided our relationship was, they would make me feel like they understood by writing me grand letters of appreciation. I stayed because I knew their feelings were genuine.

I wish I could tell myself then that you could care about someone and still hurt them.

I saw these posts about gaslighting on Tumblr and I began to scroll through them. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to relate to them because my relationship was surely not that bad. But this person had consistently undermined my feelings and made me feel as though I had misremembered an interaction, which are key signs of gaslighting. Their apologies were empty. Emotionally, I felt like I had a lot of highs and lows with them. I realized that I was dreading every interaction with this person.

I knew it was time to end it.

For me, this meant cutting all contact and writing a long letter to them explaining fully why they had hurt me and why I was leaving. I felt like I had to justify my feelings to them because of how close we had been. I didn’t give them any way to respond. Afterward, I spoke with some friends about what happened. I felt so immensely guilty about doing this that I physically felt sick. My friends supported me, and listened to me. Their support comparably cemented my thoughts that I hadn’t been listened to.

What I’ve learned from this experience and similar experiences is this: all involved parties in a relationship should feel, relatively, like they are sharing the same emotional weight with each other, and that they can rely on each other. One person shouldn’t be relying on another person to put out their fires exclusively, though there may be times when they’ll need more support. In my relationships, my factors for when to leave have been these two things: are they willing to recognize when they’ve hurt me? Are they trying to change? I’ve asked myself if I’ve just stayed in a relationship because it was easier to not rock my social circle with ending the relationship than to leave. If your justification is more about other people than your ability to enjoy your relationship, leaving may be long overdue.

Your factors for leaving a relationship may look different. Learning your boundaries and when you need a break from emotionally tough moments is about intuition. I had, and still have, so much difficulty articulating when I need space because I feel so guilty when I do. What’s important is that you and the other person are both respectful of these moments. If a person consistently disrespects these moments and boundaries, and you feel like leaving, leave.

If you’re doubting yourself, I would strongly consider talking to another person you trust. Sometimes having a conversation about your doubts with another person can make you realize how harmful your situation really is. I find that I downplay a lot of my experiences, so having another perspective is helpful.

If that’s not possible, I would suggest either writing down your feelings or recording yourself as though you were speaking to the person that has hurt you. This has always helped me put my thoughts in order, and to get through the haze of guilt I feel about leaving a relationship.

There are no 1:1 experiences when it comes to knowing when a relationship isn’t serving you. It may take years to realize that you’ve been hurt. Just know that your feelings are never wrong. You should always be able to communicate your doubts and work through them.



Dealing with Disappointment

Dear reader,

At this point in my life, I know failure is necessary. I know that not receiving a good grade is only the precursor to a better grade. But that didn’t soften the sucker punch I got to my ego as I looked at a grade for a paper this morning. I know this is a bit dramatic for a B-. But moments like these are where I magnify my mistakes most. I’m a person who’s gotten good grades for writing consistently. Ever since I was young, writing was the only subject that I consistently do well in. It felt like the only thing I was good at.

I prided myself in seeing these numbers, green circles, “great jobs” on the white margins of my papers.

Seeing question marks and red lines in its place made it feel like I failed myself.

I know this doesn’t make too much sense. One bad paper can’t undo all of the good writing and good grades I’ve gotten in the past. Honestly, the idea that I’m still so affected by what a grade can do to my confidence bothers me. I have gotten a D in the past for a draft once, and after getting an A+ on the final copy, I felt like there was no way I could feel as down as I did having almost failed.

But Jester! When I get a grade I don’t expect, it still feels like all of the progress I’ve made must have been a lie.

I did eventually learn that diminishing my own accomplishments because of one disappointment was a symptom of something called imposter syndrome. It’s named for how people feel that they are imposters because they doubt their own skills and accomplishments. Learning that other people felt the same way made me feel more heard than fighting the voice in my head telling me that focusing on my failures was illogical. I wrote about imposter syndrome after coming to terms with the way I would feel about it.

Today, though, knowing about this term worked against me. Knowing logically why I felt this way made it feel like I shouldn’t be feeling any embarrassment at all.

I wanted to jump straight to logically figuring out how I could be better. But by not acknowledging my feelings on the topic, I denied myself the right to feel hurt. Today, an uncomfortable heat burned in my chest as I paced back and forth on the commute home, lost in a cycle of thoughts.

“Don’t you know better by now to still be making the same mistakes?” parroted the same thought, over and over again.

With my face still rather flushed, I messaged my partner, rambling about my predicament. I knew two things: the first, I was really embarrassed. The second was that my embarrassment wasn’t worth entertaining because I knew it was just imposter syndrome, but I was still embarrassed. At that moment, he let me vent, and he told me exactly what I needed to hear: I was a good writer, and one moment couldn’t destroy what I’ve done. And even then, it still sucks because it’s something I take pride in.

Although this is what I’ve been telling myself in my head in an attempt to stay these embarrassing thoughts, having someone else tell me that I deserve to have my little pity party made me understand that, in a way, I needed to sit through that burning feeling. He didn’t tell me what I needed to do, he just listened.

His kindness reminded me of exactly what I needed: just to accept what I was feeling in this moment. Although this was a very minor situation, being able to digest these feelings safely was really helpful. After this, I could put some distance between my feelings and figure out what to do next: I spoke with my professor, and in a calmer mood, I got a much clearer idea of what I could do to improve.

In the past, another way I’ve done this is to write about it or talk about it with someone I’ve trusted. My main takeaway from today is that failing is indeed a step in the path of success. It’s just a step I don’t have shortcuts for, and I have to accept it. Nasty feelings and all.



The World Through My Screen

Dear reader,

I’ve been scrolling through my phone a lot lately. It’s hard not to — like many people around me, I’ve been up all night looking at updates on the Russia-Ukraine war. Immediately, I felt compelled to immediately share any resources I found. But I stopped myself to take a breather: I hadn’t even checked if the resources were truly helpful, or scams. I didn’t know if all I was doing was spreading fear for a very scary situation. And more importantly, absorbing these news made me too agitated to actually do some research.

This instinct to keep taking in horrible news has been recently coined as, ”doomscrolling.” Merriam Webster defines doomscrolling as this:

(Photo: Merriam Webster)

For the last two years, I got into the habit because I was on my phone more. With restrictions preventing me from seeing my friends, it suddenly felt like my technology was simultaneously a social hub and news outlet. I could separate the two before, but now I had to go on my phone to contact my friends. I was on my phone and computer more than ever, and there was never a break in bad news.

As the Black Lives Matter movement escalated, stories of COVID-19 tragedies, news about anti-Asian hate crime surrounded me, I felt the need to spread info about these news on my social media platforms. I’d share these infographics I found on Instagram about the situation, and add them to a highlight reel so they felt more permanent.

There is a numbing effect to accessing all of these tragedies instantaneously, and for me, spreading how important it is that everyone care about it makes it feel as important as it should be. Worse, I felt like I had to prove I was sympathetic. I couldn’t reach out to friends. The news was exhausting. Doomscrolling made my only outlet to contact my friends during harsh COVID-19 restrictions a burden. Any new notification, including a notification from a friend, felt like an extra thing to check.

If that resonates with you, I want to tell you that you’re not a bad person for wanting a break. Social media is good for a lot of things — it keeps us immersed in everything from civilian footage to tips on how to make a good tarniquet. But there is harm in absorbing all of it immediately, and being expected to react immediately. No one can make sound decisions immediately. It’s unfair to expect it from yourself.

I understand perfectly well the feeling that spreading this information feels like the most useful thing to do. I’ve felt like prioritizing my mental health seemed so shallow in the face of something so horrible. But what I’ve learned is taking more time to absorb these news to form a reaction will help me make more informed decisions on what to share. That will be more helpful than fearfully sharing everything I deem trustworthy in three seconds.

Hopefully I can share some resources here, too. Please take care, everyone.



Peer Review 2: Chii’s Sweet Home

Dear readers,

Today, I’m exploring Chii’s Sweet Home. Right away, the sweet header, soft colour scheme, and this enticing image really speaks to me that this website is a comforting place. It’s downright dreamy to look at.

How dare Chiiharu entice me with anime foods!

The image, by the way, is from Studio Ghibli film From Up on the Poppy Hill. What a good aesthetic to use! Most people associate Studio Ghibli animations with comfort and beautiful animations, and for the subtitle of the blog, “Cooking and Chill. Home-cooked recipes, inspired by Asian cuisine with a touch of Western-style,” that suits it quite well!

Chii’s sweet homepage 🙂

The picture of ramen on the top of the homepage looks delicious, too. But initially, I thought it was a recipe or a photo she took, so that’s what I looked for. But I think it’s just a photo used to sell the impression that the average reader will find Asian cuisine here. It looks like this header photo rotates once in a while, too, but with the muted colours, it always blends in with the blog.

I’m a bit confused by the side bar because the text, “About This Blog” makes me expect that there will be a short description of what the blog is about. I feel like a short blurb about who Chii is here would do, since there’s a subtitle underneath the title and an about page in the menu.


Peeking at Jana’s peer review of Chii’s website, Jana notes that Chii has done an excellent job visually of communicating that there are comforting recipes to be found here, and some real heart in Chii’s inspirations to cook. One challenge Jana issues is for Chii to insert more of her personal memories or stories into her posts. She remarks that her “cross-cultural experience” could be the foundation for Chii’s branding and how she writes. In other words, tapping more into Chii’s relationships with Vietnamese and Western cuisine could help blog posts be more personable.

In general, I think Chii is also leaning into the theme of a college student cooking alone finding cheap and healthy recipes, too. In her second essay, she writes, “I notice that a lot of people are having a hard time finding fun things to do while spending their days in isolation. And because we all stay at home, cooking becomes a crucial part of our life.” This personally spoke to me. Having accessible recipes that could also draw people to Asian recipes is really heartwarming. Like Jana, I think future posts should thread this feeling of Chii talking about her feelings about the recipes that she’s making. I’d like to see not just an explanation of what food she’s making, but more about why she made it and how she feels about it.

When I read her egg white recipe post, for example, I kind of felt like I wanted to learn more about those macaroons! And maybe hear a little about how Chii came up with this recipe: did she just think egg whites, onions, and proteins went well together? Did she like it? Just two sentences explaining those details can add more personality to Chii’s recipes that I think would really help it skyrocket!

Also, her more recent recipes are centered on healthy foods. Is there a reason? I know personally that making healthy foods can feel difficult because it might be too expensive, so that’s something Chii can talk about when she’s introducing those specific recipes.

I also see a really good opportunity to start making Youtube or Tiktok videos making the recipes, and linking the full recipe in the description of the videos. In the blog posts, I would personally suggest putting a video link after the recipe so that people can see Chii make the recipe herself, and so people don’t have to scroll too far to get to the recipe. I also suggest a video link rather than embedding a video in WordPress outright because it might take longer for the post to load for the average user.

Still, if Chii would like ad revenue from her blog posts, it could be a good strategy to write a story about the recipe she’s making before having the recipe available so that users have to scroll past ads. But that may annoy other users, too, so these are some considerations Chii would have to make.

Chii’s latest blog post

With all of this being said, I think Chii’s latest post on the signature noodles in Vietnam is really interesting! This isn’t a recipe post, but it does give a really cool overview of Vietnamese cuisine. I found my mouth watering as she explained these recipes. I liked that in some dishes, she inserts her memories of the dish and how she experienced them. For example, she writes, “I would like to tell you a couple of abstract meanings for this dish,” about Bun Thang. She explains the difference between what Hanoians call the soup and how her grandparents referred to the soup, with the former referring to the ingredients and the latter just meaning soup.

I thought to myself that “thang” is similar to how my Hakka parents pronounce a healing kind of soup rather than a regular soup. So it’s cool to make that connection. And I think having those moments where readers can feel Chii’s sincerity in day-to-day posts is really powerful. Sentences like how Chii would return home to eat all of the chicken pho her mom would make her is something that I think would speak to Chii’s audience: fellow students away from home that really miss their parents’ cooking. Maybe she could include recipes that her mom made. Or, if her mother is like mine, joke about how her mom doesn’t really have a strict recipe with what she makes. Having personal details like that in every post really solidifies, content-wise, the lovely branding that Chii has already established visually.


Overall, I find Chii’s Sweet Home to be a really comforting website. It’s visually very cozy, and the suggested recipes are approachable, too. My biggest comment is for Chii to find ways to insert herself into the recipes of her website.

Chii’s second essay for PUBL 101 really spoke to me. She says that writing can sometimes feel like a weakness for her. Reading this, and Chii’s about page, I think Chii expresses herself really well emotionally. I would like to see her talk a bit more about herself when she cooks a recipe. When I see Chii talk about her memories, or what it’s like to be a student living in a different country trying to make meals affordable, that’s when I relate to her the most. She could ask herself questions like:

  1. What does this food remind me of?
  2. Are there any memories I have about making this food that I can share?

Answering these questions in one or two sentences a post will really bring back the feeling of cozy home cooking that I get from reading through Chii’s blog. I think Chii already does a good job of explaining the flavours and textures of the food, but having these personal connections would help set Chii’s recipes apart.

I would also ask Chii to credit where her photos are from directly under the photo itself. When using images that aren’t yours, it’s ideal to check whether they are under Creative Commons licenses. One way Chii can do this is to do a Google Image search, and under “Tools,” click “Usage Rights,” then “Creative Commons licenses.”

An example of a Google Image search where Tools -> Usage Rights have been selected for reference.

Besides this, Chii also shows clear interest in developing videos for her recipes! This would be a wonderful addition to her website. To make the process less intimidating and less tiring, Chii could just set up a video camera and record herself making the recipe step-by-step with music in the background. She may need a friend to help her record, but overall, having something to watch would help bring the content to life.



Trying to Help My Brain: Part I

Dear reader,

Today I tackled a formidable mountain. It was made from about three weeks of the consequences of my actions.

I’m talking about my laundry.

I often find myself neglecting putting away my laundry for a few reasons. It feels like a much more formidable task to me than it actually is, and with every new load that I put, I’m reminded that the task has grown.

And in the last two weeks, midterms, job applications, and papers got the better of me. I got lost in a pile of papers and deadlines. I found that under this stress, I couldn’t focus, didn’t have much energy, and often had trouble getting out of bed. I felt like I was literally buried under things that were technically doable, but I had exhausted my threshold. The stress that I had to do something about the mess around me eventually while worrying about my work felt like a messy circle. I wanted to work, but I couldn’t work when I kept getting distracted by how my arm kept pushing into books, how I had two baskets of laundry, and how there was so little space in my closet that I couldn’t do anything about it all!

Finally, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I finished my workload, so as I stared at the amorphous pile of clothes sitting at the edge of my room, I thought I’d try something out.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the Tiktok now, but I saw a Tiktok that suggested setting a timer for how long you think a chore will take. The user said that this is because they often thought the chores took a lot longer than they actually did, and wanted visual confirmation.

I set a 30-minute timer to do about three baskets of laundry. And honestly, I know it sounds a bit lame to be impressed that it took 20 minutes, but I was! Here was this formidable task that I had been putting off for weeks because I thought it’d take up too much of my day. And there I was, worrying that I wouldn’t meet the timer I had set for myself, even if there wasn’t really any consequence for not finishing in time.

The first basket took about 6 minutes, and the last two only took about 14 minutes. As I put away the last of my shirts into my closet, I asked myself if this made it easier for me to do the chore regularly. And honestly, I’m not sure. Although time is a factor for why I can find it difficult to keep up with chores, it feels like one piece of the puzzle.

Even so, I felt so much better once I’d done it. I definitely felt like it was a lot less scarier than I thought it would be. I definitely feel like I at least have to try this next time a task feels too scary to handle on my own.

I know this is a small thing, but in this moment, I felt like my own hero. It’s nice to prove my brain wrong when it’s being mean!



Thoughts on Lunar New Year, and on recent Asian hate crimes in New York

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I didn’t intend to write something like this, but after thinking over it, I felt like I needed to. I know this blog centers on self-care, but I’ve been meaning to talk about how systemic barriers sometimes make self-care feel useless. There is no amount of what I can do for myself that can correct the nagging fear that I feel systemically as a Chinese woman. But it might do some good to talk about it.

Please be warned that the following post has mentions of racial violence and sexual violence. I had drawn and written some thoughts on these graphics, but they in no way convey the full severity of the pain and palpable losses of Michelle Go and Christina Yuna Lee this past month. I ask that you pardon how scattered some thoughts might be. It is always hard to write about this because it hits so close to home. I will be repeating a lot of thoughts. There are two primary reasons for this.

The first: I’ve already written and spoken on anti-Asian hate here in this article that was published in April last year. I am directing you to it because I speak extensively on the historical ramifications of fetishizing Asian women, leading them to be exposed to higher rates of violence. I also speak on BC’s history of subduing the exploitation of Chinese labour in the construction of the CPR. I reference much of the same information here but in much greater detail there.

It is still true that a tragedy will precede any conversation of preexisting racial biases, and I only had the privilege to ignore this until Asian hate crimes escalated in 2020. It is still true that it is an enormous burden to beg for people to protect our elderly, our vulnerable, to value our lives.

The second: I feel that I should expand further than what I’ve written in these little graphics. I feel that I do the victims, and the severity of anti-Asian hate crimes in general injustice if I do not elaborate. Media attention on crimes against people of colour just seems so temporary, as if our tragedies are just a rotating news cycle for people to consider their morals. I feel if I don’t talk about it, I help these terrible crimes be buried under a sea of horrible news with no change.

Regardless, this is a post where I am positioning myself as a Chinese woman with fair skin. If you are reading this and considering further reading on anti-Asian hate crimes, I suggest listening to especially South, Southeast, and West Asian ethnicities on this topic, as I can not summarize what this may feel like for them.

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Lunar New Year is such a special time in our lives. This is one of the only major holidays we have to celebrate and uplift our community. There is a cruel injustice to how this moment of joy has been scarred with tragedy in the Asian community. On January 15, Michelle Alyssa Go was shoved into the train tracks while waiting for a train. She died momentarily. Less than a month later, Christina Yuna Lee would be followed from Chinatown and violently murdered in her apartment. These acts of violence against Asian women are not isolated to New York, nor are they anomalies. They reflect the escalation of Asian hate crimes that have been increasing everywhere in North America.

Tweet: @namholtz

Reactions to these crimes, especially so close to each other, echo my thoughts on this as a Chinese woman living in Vancouver. In 2020, Asian hate crimes were documented to rise by 717%, from 12 to 98 reports. This was a year of listening to news of elderly men being shoved on the street, women being assaulted, and fearing for whether it might be me or my mom next. To this day, it feels like this surge in hate crimes has only slightly slowed down.

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I remember the lump in my throat I felt at reading headlines from reading fearmongering articles two years ago. I read memes upon memes that pointed to the virus spawning from the “barbaric” eating habits of Chinese people. In one Daily Mail article that falsely stated Chinese people ate bats, the video was found to be doctored, and not filmed in China at all. But the damage of this kind of content had already been done. Rumours spread like wildfire and put the blame on Chinese people for being the carriers of this virus. It was as though the western world was content with blaming the Wuhan people for contracting the virus because of their culture, however true the representation of that culture may be.

I can not describe how horrid that felt across the world, where every bus ride felt unsafe. It felt like it only took one month to completely dehumanize anyone who looked like me. Whether they were actually Chinese or not didn’t change the fact that this cultural shift was scary.

I watched videos of my friends talking about how they felt glares on them if they so much as sniffled. It made me feel smaller on every transit ride. My skin made me feel like a target in the places that I would normally feel safe in.

Two years later, it feels like sinophobic sentiments have not subsided. My heart sank when I read that the Dr. Sun Yat Sen garden had been vandalized in January and February this year. And on New Year’s Eve, a woman was shoved into a bush unprovoked. “Gods,” I thought. “I’m only a year older than her. I’ve walked the same streets as her.”

Asking if every victim could have been me is an exercise that I, and many other Asian women have been doing since 2020.

Lee and Go were supposed to be safe. Whether these were crimes specifically because they were Asian doesn’t matter. It adds to that visceral fear that we could be perceived as submissive victims, and therefore easy targets.

We shouldn’t compromise our security with a body count. We shouldn’t only talk about Asian hate crimes in cases of death.

But here we are.

Tweet: @imontheradio
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I’m not really sure how to end this post. As I said, I feel as though I’ve already poured my heart on the topic, so what can I say about it that isn’t thoroughly exhausting? This has been both a rant and an attempt to make something educational in a time of mourning. I feel as though I am more cohesive in the article I wrote a year ago, and want to direct you towards it again, if only because there are more perspectives aside from my own that tell their own important stories about anti-Asian hate crimes.

In any case, I just wanted to write something that vocalized my concerns. I’m mourning these deaths in our community, but at this moment, I understand that I am also positioning myself as a spokesperson for people to care about our pains. If I didn’t write about this, I feel like these crimes will be obliviated as though they don’t matter. And they do.

Please pay attention to marginalized people’s voices, and help protect our vulnerable. Our sex workers, our elderly, we all deserve the same protections as anyone. Do some readings on how anti-Asian hate crime has affected people across the diaspora. This isn’t a trend, nor is it a one-time tragedy. I’m tired of feeling afraid for myself and on behalf of the people I love.

For now, I want to direct your attention to these fundraisers for Go and Lee‘s families towards their memorial funds.

I am asking you to support the following organizations. If you live in Vancouver, consider visiting Chinatown and supporting the businesses there.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden, where funding will help protect the property and preserve it for future generations.

Yarrow Intergenerational Society, an organization that assists low-income seniors in Chinatown and helps them with anything from groceries, providing translation in legal services, medical accompaniment, and more.

SWAN Vancouver, an organization that helps immigrant sex workers through housing, immigration, crisis management, and advocacy in appointments.

Rest isn’t optional, Kelly

Dear reader,

I had a really bad day yesterday. I saw it coming: I had a lot of work and school assignments piling up, and I was working through what felt like a neverending barrage of writing. I knew eventually this would catch up to me, but I just kept going until I was there in front of my computer, unable to do anything.

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It’s not the first time this has happened. Like I told you last time, I kind of have a habit of pushing myself to burnout. I put a lot of expectations on myself, and when I don’t meet them, it feels like I’ve failed. After sitting with those thoughts for an hour and a half on the floor, I confided in my partner. He comforted me, and because he was also busy, we found ways to balance our time so that we each had time to work and to rest through the week.

It reminded me of something really important my friend had told me: rest isn’t optional. How much work you think you need to do, or how little work you think you’ve done can’t change the fact that you need to rest.

Unfortunately, since the pandemic, most of my work and social life is on my computer, so it’s made work-life separation very difficult. All I do is sit with the thoughts of the things I need to do, and it stresses me out. Then I realize I haven’t made any progress, and I stress out more. Sometimes I compulsively do chores, bake, or do something productive while stressing about the things I do need to do. It’s an unhealthy cycle.

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Here’s where I’ve compromised with myself and my workflow so far: I put on a timer, I put on some music, and I write. Part of my problem when I write is the worry that it’s not good. If that’s the case, I just keep pushing through and reminding myself of everything else I’ve written. But, if I find that my mind is slogging through my work because I’m exhausted, I’ll take a nap. Sometimes this means I’m getting up at 5 the next morning to finish what I’ve started, but I’ll feel considerably more rested. It’s a very temporary solution.

I also always tell my supervisors and friends what’s happening. Keeping up with interpersonal relationships when you’re already scheduling so much in your brain is difficult, but no one aside from you knows what’s happening in your mind. I get extensions as needed, and I try to make up for any appointments I’ve missed. I learn that it’s sometimes best to just say no. “No, I can’t take on an extra assignment this week, I’m busy.” “No, I haven’t had time to hang out with my family, maybe next week.”

It’s hard, and I feel guilty about it. But in the end, I know the kind of work that I make when I’m dead tired, and it’s not something I’m proud of. And most importantly, I know how empty I feel when I need to rest.

If you’re feeling overtired and you can’t do anything, take the day to yourself. If that’s not possible, try to identify the bare minimum that you need to finish for the day. Sometimes I list down three of my most important tasks, work through those, and then, I’ll do something I enjoy. After that, I might feel ready to work more.

You don’t need to be exhausted to deserve rest.



How do I start?

Dear reader,

I’ve been mooning over how to write this first post for ages. Thinking about different versions of what my first real impression would be on this blog, and how it would reflect for the rest of its time. Then, I thought: this is way too much pressure! So . . . I’ll start by saying hi. I’m Kelly.

I started this blog because I wanted to put a voice out for self-care, but frankly, that felt a bit presumptuous of me. I don’t know anybody else’s mental health, and to give advice when I’m not a professional on this front seemed really disingenuous. Instead, I thought I’d show the way I navigate my own mental health. And if what I’ve learned can help someone else, that’s all the better!

This is a trigger warning for mention of depression, mental health, and existential crisis for the next four paragraphs.

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Oh, the freezing grip of starting out!

Let me start by talking about why I wanted to put this voice out in the first place. When I was a teenager, I was encouraged to look after my mental health to a certain degree: take long baths, eat some chocolate, the stuff that you’d see on television. But I didn’t know what that actually meant. Instead, I’d average four to five hours of sleep a night, burning myself out on my grades to ensure my safe entrance to university. I thought that this was the best course of action for me. I was sure that my life’s trajectory would plummet if I didn’t keep going.

But in my first year, after I had safely settled into a Criminology classroom, I started to crash. I wasn’t sure why I was studying what I did. For the second time, I was certain that I would be unsuccessful in life, and fail in securing a stable life for me and my family at all. I’m saying this because no one growing up told me how much your mental well-being relies so much on your ability to secure your social needs in life. No one told me how much systemic factors like these can play into your mental health.

I was 17 when I first really panicked that my life would be nothing if I studied “worthless” things. And if it was nothing, there would be no one who could really help me.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs really hit me.

So I started writing about these fears in my journal. I wrote about how I was afraid that my friends seemed to properly know what they wanted to do with their lives. I had written in diaries before, but I was always mindful of how I was presenting myself . . . even to myself in private. This was the first time I had ever really allowed myself to be vulnerable.

Unfortunately, this didn’t really solve my problem. But writing those fears out without thinking about neat paragraphs and just letting my stream of consciousness go showed me something very important. For the first time, instead of thinking that I was over-dramatic, scanning all the entries I had written pushed me to seriously consider whether I might be depressed.

These thoughts were strange to me because I thought they were just passing moments, but seeing similar entries day after day let me reflect on whether there was something wrong. Writing gave me a place to validate and articulate the feelings that are hard to talk about. It made it that much easier to talk to my friends because I had already practiced writing it out.

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Just some growing pains

These are the moments I’d like to write about: an honest reflection of the moments that have helped me in my day-to-day life. Because for me, self-care isn’t meant to be a day to recover for another day of work. Setting aside mental health for the sake of capitalism, after all, might push you even deeper into burnout. Instead, I want to talk about the things I wish I learned that have protected my mental health in my personal life: when to turn to your support system, when to establish personal boundaries, and how to seek help. I will try to share free resources here, too.

Thanks for listening. I’ll see you soon!