A New Page

After realizing that I’m losing track of the other blog posts I’ve written, I’ve decided to organize them into one place. You can check out these posts on my Contributions page. It’s really satisfying and gratifying to see my other works and that others value them. I hope that this is the case for those who find them for the first time. 🙂

 

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The Opposite of Apathy

Growing up, I cared a lot about pretty much everything. I cared about being a good daughter, sister, student, classmate, friend, and person. I cared about school and getting good grades and pleasing everyone. I wanted everyone to like me.

Now that I’m witnessing firsthand (yet again) how young people think that it’s cool to not care about anything, I’m becoming confused and frustrated. It’s like high school all over again, except I’m the adult and (this is a stretch) the teacher. Now that I’ve grown more confident and sure of myself, caring “too much” is something that I am proud of being. So it’s really interesting to see the gap between people who think it’s cool to be apathetic and people who think it’s cool to be empathetic. We do our best to meet halfway, and sometimes we both get there. Sometimes, we don’t. And I’m learning to be okay with that – which might be another aspect of becoming even more empathetic, or at least patient and understanding.

Working at this particular summer camp has been transformational in a way that I would not have expected. I seem to be surprising myself a lot this year. I’ve been discovering just how patient and understanding and empathetic I can be. And – get this – creative, out-going, open, and well-spoken. Younger Camille would not have believed that she would come to love speaking in front of other people, let alone leading other people and wanting more of that kind of role.

Another thing that surprised me as a result of working at this camp is how much I’ve come to care about the campers. I want them to do well in life. I want them to come to camp everyday, even (and perhaps especially) if they don’t want to. I want them to become genuinely good people who will make a positive impact on the world.

This was hard for me to accept. I had grown weary of the daily routine of programming and engaging the campers, and putting so much energy and emotion into the job. I had wanted to just do the work and never see those campers again. And, of course, I was mistaken.

I’ve pretty much stopped wondering why I care so much. I’ve accepted that the reason is simply because it’s who I am. I’m always going to care about others and care for others. I’m not going to stop being invested in their personal development. I’m going to continue being in that role of a parent, counsellor, mentor, boss, leader, you name it. And if people have a problem with that, then too bad. I’ll eventually make them like me and want to do well in life. 😉

Brief Hiatus

Working at a summer camp can really tire you out. I had made time in July to write here, but now that I’m working in the youth leadership program, I’ve been thinking about work more often than usual. And while youth leadership is something that I’m really passionate about, it’s making me shift priorities in a way that I am not okay with.

I miss this. I miss writing, sorting out my thoughts, sifting through the words and finding meaning. I haven’t done this in a while. I don’t feel like myself.

I also miss yoga. A couple of days ago, I went into child’s pose (one of the most basic and relaxing poses) and felt so at home that I thought about becoming an instructor (not the first time). I actually feel out of shape, even though camp has made me lose weight.

I miss the freedom that I had at the beginning of this year, when I worked part-time and was able to volunteer with two organizations at once. I was able to write, do yoga, read, and practice self-care and mindfulness everyday. I want that back.

But, I also want a job that pays. And so I’ll get back to this when I can. I’m actually looking forward to the end of this job, even if it means going back to square one. I know I’ll be okay, though. 🙂

Storytelling Live: I Did It!

Last Monday, I had the PeriSkype with Anita Wing Lee, and I had a lot of fun! It actually felt easy and liberating to tell my story about quitting a soul-sucking job and transitioning into a lifestyle and career that I find fulfilling. I was able to talk about how I’ve made little steps and taken risks to grow and become who I was meant to be. Hopefully the people tuning in found it helpful.

I came across a few realizations after coming off of the PeriSkype:

1. I am actually pretty good at speaking in front of an audience. I wasn’t nervous at all! And that was weird enough for me. I remember being too nervous to speak in front of people for the longest time, and when I did, I was self-conscious and worried about messing up. With this, though, I was at ease and actually wanted to talk more.

2. I want to do this again. It was really cool to give advice through video and to talk to somebody who just gets it like Anita does. Also, even though I didn’t know the audience that well, I knew that they were interested enough to tune in, and that makes me want to share my story even more.

3. Coaching has had a huge impact on me, and it didn’t really hit me until I did the PeriSkype. I mean, I did get to write out my thoughts and feelings for Anita – which she has kindly put into a blog post on her website – but this opportunity has allowed me to reflect on the build up over the last several months. And it was a big build up; I just didn’t realize it until I was able to look back and appreciate what I did and what happened to me.

For everything that has happened to me, I am truly grateful.

Storytelling Live: PeriSkype

You know my old post called Storytelling Live? In it, I talked about how much I had wanted to be able to stand in front of a group of strangers and tell my story. I had thought about sharing how stories have shaped me and how escaping into fiction kept me from writing and living my own story.

Well, a few days ago, my life/career coach, Anita Wing Lee, approached me with this amazing idea to have a video chat through Skype and to broadcast it on Periscope – a PeriSkype, actually. Periscope is kind of like having a livestream: it’s you in a video talking to an audience who can interact with you through comments. But it’s an app that is specific to this kind of video/content-sharing.

I had never thought that I would be invited to something like this, let alone agree to do something like this. When I was younger, I’ve been labelled as and felt shy, and speaking in front of others was incredibly scary because it seemed – and still is! – a really vulnerable experience.

But it’s this vulnerability that I am trying to bring with me to everything that I do. I have found that it’s the best way to genuinely connect with others and be myself. And so, tomorrow, Monday, July 13th, Anita and I are going to be talking about her coaching program and how it’s helped me grow more into myself.

Just download the app, follow @anitawinglee, and tune in at 7:30pm Eastern Time. If you’re curious about what I look and sound like (haha) and what my journey for the past several months has been like, feel free to join us!

Thanks for reading and being part of the community!

20s Life, the Writing Universe, and Lani

I’d like to say that I’ve come to be on friendly terms with my fellow WordPress bloggers. It’s always so comforting and humbling to know that there are other like-minded people out there who are moving along the same path as you. I feel like part of a supportive and passionate community here.

With that in mind, I’ve thought about ways that I could delve deeper into this community. I’ve wanted to further connect with the folks in this community, and to work with other bloggers. And what better way to do that than to interview a writer?

Lani Cox - profile-pic-2

This is Lani, from https://lanivcox.wordpress.com/. She’s awesome.

Lani was on board to do this from the beginning. I’ve always admired her: she is a fantastic writer, makes great content, has a really interesting life in Thailand – and grew up in Hawaii!, and has written and self-published a book. And she was gracious enough to answer several questions I had about being in your twenties and starting a possible career (whether professional or amateur) in writing.

Camille: Let’s start off by debunking any ideas or advice you’ve seen about being a writer.

Lani: Hmmm. I guess it would have to be that there is a specific way to do something. In a creative industry, rules feel more like guidelines or suggestions.

C: What about debunking anything about being in your twenties? What has it been like to be in your twenties?

L: Wow. I think my 20s was vastly different than 20-somethings today. So, what may be true for me will not necessarily be true for you, and any advice you hear about this decade of your life will most likely fall on oblivious ears. After all, I think it’s the job of youth culture to pave new roads and see things in exciting ways.

For what it is worth, I tried so many new things during this time, took a lot of risks, but I also had a lot of debt, so I felt like all I was doing was working. At one point I had 3 jobs. My 20s was about growing up and I had a lot of it to do.

C: Do you wish you did anything differently?

L: Of course, but I know the outcome of my choices now. If I went back and changed them the results most likely would have changed, too.

But my advice, if I can read between the words here, is not to take things too seriously. Have fun. Life moves incredibly fast and before you know it, you’re in your 30s and then 40s…it’s sobering and humbling and really, you’re just lovely. Don’t be hard on yourself.

C: What was a day in the life of Lani in her twenties like versus a day in your life right now, especially when it comes to your writing?

L: In my 20s I wasn’t consciously aware that I wanted to be a writer, although when I graduated high school I wrote a list of GOALS that included, “Write the great American novel.” Then I promptly forgot about it. I took a playwriting class in college, but it terrified me because I tried to hide my non-fiction life through fiction and my professor gently asked, “Is this real?”

A day in the life of Lani in her 20s is incredibly different than my life now. I was working more and not focused on the craft per se. I remember in college telling my friends, “I have a lot of ideas for movies,” and scratching my head over it. Looking back, I realize how much my mind was constantly churning out picture stories and letting me know that I had a good mind to write.

These days, I write every day and with more direction. I live overseas which allows me make a comfortable living working part-time as an English teacher – and best of all I have more time to write. This was a deliberate move that I made over 5 years ago, but I didn’t start working on my first book until I was in my early 30s. My 20s ended disastrously so for the next decade I clawed my way around trying to understand what I needed to do and soon enough re-discovered writing with intensity.

C: How did you get your start in writing?

L: I started writing when I was 13. We had recently moved from Hawaii to the middle of the Mojave Desert and for the first time in my young life I couldn’t go outside and truly play and I didn’t have any friends. I was one of a few Asians in town, too. This was when I started to become obsessed with reading and started a diary.

Eventually, I had the thought that I think a lot of us have and that was, “Hey, I can write this. I can write better.” So, 13 year old Lani found a typewriter (it magically appeared in the kitchen one day) and started a couple of stories. I was trying to emulate a Sweet Valley High or Nancy Drew series, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was writing for fun, but I got stuck. It was then that I decided fiction was too hard. Hahaha.

C: What is your relationship with writing?

L: Writing is my best friend. It’s been my constant companion. We have a good relationship. Writing always waits for me and is incredibly patient. I feel fortunate that I have a creative outlet that helps me to feel centered and free.

C: Has your writing saved you in any way?

L: I can’t imagine my life without writing. Every morning I get up, make coffee and write in my journal. In its highest state, writing keeps me focused and in its lowest it’s an overindulgence of emotions. It’s saved me many times, too many times, just like the right book at the right time.

C: How did you decide on getting your book published?

L: Getting my book published was a long journey. Years ago, I queried agents, but never got anywhere. I had done a lot of research and worked hard on trying to understand what I needed to do. The book underwent so many different transformations, too. Ultimately, I was discouraged and let the manuscript rest for long periods of time. I wasn’t sure what to do anymore.

Then I decided to start a blog under the book title and post it chapter by chapter. I wanted to know if I would get any feedback and was it really that uninteresting? Basically it was my way of putting it out there. Surprisingly, I received private emails from folks confessing their own similar story or experience. I’ve put almost zilch PR work into it, but it gets found because I wrote about a topic that doesn’t get much air time.

I also read some sample chapters at writer’s groups. I received thoughtful feedback there and had started another blog where I still write regularly and this got me in touch with a wider audience who gave me encouraging feedback on my writing in general.

So, this is all related. I kept writing even though I hadn’t published my book. Finally, I got brave enough to ask for the help I needed. First, I sent out a “hey will you read my book” email to my friends. Three of them got back to me with copious notes and questions and I took all of their comments into consideration, which as you can imagine was a lot of work. Next, I had my Oxford-comma-obsessed friend do a brutal final comb through of all of my grammar mistakes.

I also decided to do an audio book. This allowed me to read it again and catch mistakes or make changes. It was also a major pain, but I love audiobooks and I’d do it all over again. I learned a lot and now I know what I need to do the next time around.

By this time, I was pretty much set on self-publishing. I had done more research and felt this was going to be the better way to go. Memoir, from a nobody like me, isn’t something agents are clamoring for and that’s okay. Indie publishing is a viable option, no waiting for someone else’s permission to follow your heart – and after ALL that work, I did it and now I’m working on my second one.

C: Do you have any advice for new bloggers, especially ones who aren’t sure about where to go with their writing?

L: Blogging is such a great way to experiment. I’ve joined WP blogging challenges, poetry classes and MOOC writing classes and posted assignments on my blog.

Blogging can also be a good way to discipline yourself into writing and sharing on a regular basis. And just as important, blogging allows you to build a community, find like-minded friends and put yourself out there, so go for it.

Be as structured or free as you want, it’s yours, but do it. Why not? You might find out something you like better or gain a clearer sense of how you want to write. Good luck, stop by the blog and introduce yourself and thank you, Camille!

Thank you, Lani!

I am very grateful that I got to know Lani better, and was able to wrangle some great advice at the same time. If you’re reading this and have yet to follow her work, check out Life, the Universe, and Lani!

Imposter Syndrome, Part One

I often feel like a fake adult. Before, I would work with children for a few days a week, and then work with adults either my own age or older. I felt a disconnect between the two – obviously communication style had to change – but I had also become incredibly aware of how small I felt in comparison with the other adults. It’s still weird to call myself an adult. But it’s weird to call myself a youth, because I’m not. And it’s also strange to call myself a young adult, because that reminds me of John Green books and teens (neither of which are terrible, by the way).

This is probably a problem that is common amongst other 20-somethings. We’re in a never-ending transitional period between graduating from school and looking for work or getting settled into a life we can be comfortable and happy with. That’s really difficult to do. I have no idea when I’ll reach that stage, and while I know that this is ultimately fine… I don’t feel fine with that right now. (I probably will be tomorrow, but you know how life is: you panic, then gain perspective, and then lose that perspective, panic again, and repeat.)

I don’t feel 100% fine with the fact that I don’t know what my life will be like when September hits, because that’s when my job contract ends. I’m not okay with the fact that I have a lot of free time and still have to form the habit of being productive in the way I want to be. I’m a little annoyed that I’m still scared of trying new things and asking for what I want.

I also don’t like that there are times when I don’t feel like I’m good enough. “I’m not worthy of being with other adults at this workplace, I’m not interesting enough to be in conversation with this person,” etc. If I were to step back and observe myself, I’d be annoyed by how often I feel this way. And I’d wonder just how long I plan to keep up this habit.

But I am trying to break that habit, and replace it with the habit of being kind and gentle towards myself. “Yes, I am good enough. I am more than enough. I am an amazing person and have accomplished so much. I do deserve success, whatever that may be for me.” It’s definitely a process, but one that’ll be good for me.

I have more thoughts on feeling like an imposter, which is really interesting considering how far I’ve come on my path towards fulfillment and being myself. I guess it’s my ego talking again – which is why I found it important enough to write two more posts about the imposter syndrome. Until next time!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Gratitude

I’m about to wrap up a job contract, and I’m looking back at who I was at the beginning and appreciating how much I’ve grown since then. This job, at first, was a welcome change of pace and industry from my old soul-sucking job in 2014. I knew that it was kind of a step down from what I was used to, but I knew that it was a step forward on the path that I had set out for myself. Yes, I was working for a non-profit and working with young people – but the role was something I had not wanted. I went in dreading the workload and fearing what would happen to me and how others would see me.

That fear pretty much dictated my attitude towards the job for the first several weeks. It took a lot of prodding from my career coach and practising trust in myself to help me feel better about the work. And the job did get better. I realized that having an internal support system can make or break your experience. Everybody has helped me become a better team leader and a more patient, confident, quick-thinking person. And they helped me relearn a few fundamental things about myself.

I recognized (again – these kinds of lessons have to be repeated) that I care a lot about my work and what others think of me. That was why I was always so stressed and nervous about the work. Eventually, I learned how to talk myself out of this stress. I learned to plan ahead and work smarter, not work more. I also learned to focus on the positive and work with it, rather than get caught up in the one thing that did not go well. This experience ended up being one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve had, and of course, I am discovering this now just as I’m finishing up.

I just hope to bring this clarity, perspective, and gratitude with me in other parts of my life.

Shit My Ego Says

I found the website “Shit Your Ego Says” a while ago, and I immediately loved it. Here was a funny, frank, and genuinely helpful place for people to get over their shit-talking egos. I thought it was great.

I’ve only visited it twice.

Why? Probably my ego saying that it wasn’t necessary. That I was fine the way I was and didn’t need to find a way to be better. But my ego was wrong. It usually is, no offence.

James McCrae, creator of Shit Your Ego Says, argues that your ego isn’t just a Freudian concept or the term for acting and being high and mighty. Your ego is the voice that says that you shouldn’t be doing this. Your ego is all of your fears conveniently compacted and stored in the back and front of your mind, weighing you down. You don’t realize it at the time, but your ego is a part of you, but not you. Your ego acts like society or a parent, but is not your enemy. Not really.

I’ve thought about the times that my ego has shit-talked in order to get me to stay the same (read: remain stagnant and complacent) and not do anything. My ego told me to search for jobs the traditional way when I knew that it wasn’t working. My ego told me that I needed another person to complete me. My ego told me to not do anything out of the ordinary: don’t sign up for coaching, don’t share your writing, don’t build your network, don’t, don’t, don’t.

It’s amazing how I did not get tired of hearing that. At the time, it was like reassurance and justification for procrastinating on things that would only propel me forward and allow me to grow. It was like my ego was taking care of me. In reality, it was coddling me. And I didn’t need that. I needed to be an adult. I needed to be a grown-up. Most of all, I needed to be me.

Whenever you let your ego do the talking and just go with whatever it says, you’re denying yourself the opportunity and freedom to be yourself. You’re not standing up for yourself. You’re letting one part of you act like the whole. (Like I said before, your ego is not your enemy. It can actually protect you at times from taking risks that would backfire, or caution you to think some more before making a big decision. It can teach you how to be self-confident and how to trust yourself.) And this whole person needs to listen to a more important part. This can be your higher self, your intuition, God, the universe, etc. But this part is more of a whisperer. It doesn’t like to yell or point or jab at you. It is more loving and calm. Which is why we tend to ignore it for so long.

My higher self doesn’t shit-talk. It soothes me, heals me, and lends a listening ear and a warm embrace. I always feel better after listening to it and doing what it says. I feel more like myself, because the ego’s been stripped away. All of the worries, fears, expectations, layers of, well, shit, are gone. It’s just me and my higher self.

While I do feel a little weird about talking about what some might call “airy fairy hippie spiritual nonsense,” I also feel vulnerable and earnest and completely myself. So it must be the right thing for me to do.