Hello, my loves! Happy happy blog-iversary!! In much Diem-esque fashion, this post is fashionablely late. Hehe.
I am currently writing this in Davis, CA, which is crazy surreal because this is where it all started 5 years ago. Borrowing Starbucks’s WiFi while eating a Panini that I got for free using my rewards points from becoming a gold member in college, I am literally next door to Forever 21 aka the catalyst of my blog.
When I got to college and realized that I can be anyone, I chose to be myself. I used Forever 21 as my outlet because it was the only clothing store in Davis. I used to walk from my little dorm room to F21 in less than 5 minutes every other weekend. I would, then, walk straight to the back corner with all of the clearance items. I tried new things and experimented with all sorts of trends to figure out who “I” was.
Five years later, I can happily say that I have a better idea of who “I” am.
But that def does not mean I am done figuring myself out.
Within the past 5 years, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons, but I narrowed them down to the following five that I would love to share:
(1) I am a fucking “mess,” and that’s okay!!
While getting to know myself, I tried to categorize myself into labels because that is how the brain naturally organizes itself – puts likes with likes.
The very first class that I took in college was a sociology class where the first assignment was to literally jot down labels that define you as a person. Obvi, I wrote “Vietnamese-American,” “woman,” “daughter,” “sister,” “introvert,” “reserve,” “shy,” and etc.
“Okay. I am an introvert, thus, I am quiet. I like to stay indoors. I do not like people. I am minimalistic. I like to be in the shadows. I am an introvert. I am quiet. etc.” I thought to myself.
“By wait, am I an extrovert? I can be quite loud if I have something to say. I like going out and trying new places and things. People are weird, thus, I kind of like them. I like bold mustard yellow shirts and obnoxious patterns. Weird frilled pants? I am all over those. I like to stand out with my purple hair and dark lips. Am I an extrovert? Am I not quiet?” I, then, asked myself after some experimentation.
Through out this journey of self-discovery, it was very frustrating in pinpointing the kind of person that I am. When I thought I figured myself out, my behaviors appeared to contradict each other. I often felt like a hypocrite.
For that reason, I believe our personalities are on a spectrum that fluctuates depending on the current situation. We are not black and white; we are so incredibly complex and quite messy. That is so so beautiful, yes?!
A huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I came to terms with that idea. I stopped categorizing myself because I am way more than a label. Although I may be more “this” than “that,” it doesn’t mean I cannot be “that” every so often. It felt so incredibly free to let go of labels. I am complex with so many different, contradicting interests and beliefs. How fucking amazing is that?!
(2) Not everyone will like me, and I will not like everyone.
After learning lesson numbero one, the second lesson quickly became a sub-lesson.
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches” — Dita Von Teese
My style is not for everyone. Your style may not be for me. And, that is okay!! That is the beauty of style! How boring would this world be if we all looked and dressed the same? No self-expression. No artistic voice. After getting a taste of purple in my hair, (Ps. After being ash blonde and now purple haired, vibrant-colored gals defffff have more fun.) I feel more like myself in colored hair.
I used to care so much about what others thought because I grew up with that kind of mentality given my Eastern communal roots. Conformity and validation were practically adolescence principles. Remember the trends of Coach shoes, Abercrombie and Fitch collared shirts, and expensive skinny jeans in high school? I think back to those days when I think of my past-self, and I remember my dorky self in cheap prescription glasses, black braces, and either thrifted or knocked off clothes trying to fit in.
While I tried to be liked by those around me, I did not like me. I still felt ugly. I still felt left out. If anything, I did more harm to myself by subjecting myself to that culture.
By focusing on myself and putting in sincere efforts during this journey, I am now the happiest I have ever been because I like me. Me being my own worst critic, to like myself is pretty huge! To have the approval of the toughest person is so incredibly powerful and liberating. I don’t need everyone to like me – I just need me to like me. With that switch of perspective, I no longer care about the opinions of others. Thus, I have gained more respect for myself, which has helped me gain the respect of others.
I take things less personally now, and that has made all parts of my life a bit easier. I am less hurt when brands and/or collaborators reject me. They don’t like me and my vision, and that’s totally okay. That does not mean my vision is any less important. I am less hurt when I get rejected by relationships through dating. The guy didn’t like me for my passions and goals. We did not match, and that is okay. Why would I want to be with someone who isn’t supportive of me and vice versa? I put my very best into my work, and when people still don’t like me/it, then it might be more of their problem than mine.
(3) The relationship that I have with myself will always be priority.
Okay, I know what you are thinking – Diem, you are full of yourself. Well one, you are kind of right. 😛 Two, please just hear me out one bit.
You can still love yourself and others!! You can practice self-love and love for others – that includes your family, significant other, friends, pets and etc. You can be in a relationship with yourself while dating a person (or people – you do you, bud.) – omg, that part irks me the most especially because I dabble in the dating culture.
By placing yourself as priority and taking the best care of yourself, I believe you will have the best ability to take care of others that way. Physically, if you are sick, then you may be too weak to take care of your love ones. This can be applied mentally as well.
Personally, with a committed relationship with myself, I have gained so much love and respect for myself. I value myself in a way that I have never viewed myself before. I know my worth, and I don’t let anything or anyone come in between that. From friends who become foes to all of the “boys” who have come in and out of my life, I have told myself that I deserve the best and I will not settle for something or someone that I don’t feel good about.
I do this with clothes when I try on an ill-fitting dress that I quickly put back if it doesn’t hug me in all of the right places. If I don’t feel like a million bucks in something, then I don’t buy it. I don’t need nor want that garment in my life. If I can easily do this with clothes, then why shouldn’t I be more mindful of the nouns of my surroundings? I keep supportive family and friends close and let go of anything and everything that is toxic for me.
“Self-care is not selfish.” — Wear Your Label
(4) We all started as strangers at one point.
Going from strangers to friends is scary powerful if you think about it. It may be the social anxiety brain of mine talking, but I find such relationship (or anything relationship, actually) bizarre. The amount of trust, vulnerability, and time that go into one of them should not be taken lightly. For that reason, I am very appreciative of all of the people I may have interacted with.
Collaborators hold such a special place in my heart because we all started as strangers! Person A sent a direct message via Instagram or e-mail to Person B, and after a few responses back and forth, there we both are working on a creative project together.
It goes the same for URL to IRL friends. The blogging community can be such a supportive community, despite the focus – from mental health advocates to fashion bloggers, we get each other. From all around the world through different walks of life, we interact and connect. We emphasize and sympathize with each other. We share similar passions and goals, and we help each other grow and thrive.
It seems like those who are not part of this world are so quick to judge, but I cannot express how much my “URL” life has affected my “IRL” life. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most down to earth and talented people. Behind these Instagram feeds and blogs are real people with real feelings – believe it or not!
We are strangers no more.
(5) Honesty is the best policy.
I started my blog with no concrete goal or purpose. Unlike many bloggers who create content ahead of time, I did and still am just posting as I go along this journey of mine. However, I found my purpose when I started to be completely vulnerable and bare with honesty.
It may sound so trivial, but it started when I shared my makeup-less face with cystic acne and scars. The goal was to be human – to share the good, bad, and ugly. From physical scars to mental scars of mental health confessions, I found that I connected with you better by being honest. I always strive to close the gap between us through my content.
Being a blogger is not glamorous. It is hard work. It is not all free products and cute pictures in cute places.
Being a blogger for me means going to “work” right after real life work that has nothing to do with blogging. Being a blogger means questioning my artistic ability and talent all of the time. Being a blogger means writer’s block. Being a blogger means keeping up with trends while staying true to my style (and budget). Being a blogger means growing a thick skin in case of rejections. Being a blogger means socializing while fearing social gatherings. Being a blogger means posting pictures of myself knowing damn well that someone is objectifying me. Being a blogger means rescheduling a photo shoot because I started my period and I am crying in bed due to cramps. Being a blogger means meeting guys who fetish the idea of me being a blogger. Being a blogger means meeting guys who think I am materialistic. Being a blogger means trying to convenience people that I am more than just a blogger while defending my platform – it is a weird juxapositon, I know.
I can go on forever, but despite it all, I blog because the truth here has set me free. My blog has become my public diary – I no longer hide my diaries underneath my clothing drawers. I blog to create conversations in hope of ending the stigma(s).
Never in a million years would I have thought to be considered an “influencer,” let alone 5 years. As always, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to read my itty bitty thoughts. Your support seriously means everything to me. My past-self, current-self, and future-self thank you so so much. ❤