Late night thought vomit: what if we were more than a noun?
Nouns: Filmmaker / Artist / Daughter / Sister / Friend etc.
Congratulations you, you made it to May 2021! Regardless of how well you think you've done, I think we all deserve a pat on our backs for making it through these strange times. It is really weird and some days I think I got it, and on other days I just want to ignore everything and bury myself in work or in a blanket.
I had started writing this earlier in March, but as with things I do in my own life outside of work, I tend to take longer than usual to finish them. I suppose it's because the nature of my work is relatively time-sensitive, and so I live less by time when it comes to personal things. Or the 4 in me (haha I'll explain later!)
I have been thinking about nouns in relation to one's being more so than usual lately, about these lines drawn for us and what it means to live within those boundaries that define nouns. Alas, too often I let my mind wander. On a more personal level, it is about navigating my identities online and irl, understanding connections and relationships; at a larger scale, it is things like art and education and roles and gender and politics and inequality and injustice. These are big ideas I shall refrain from thinking about too much at 1am on a Sunday night.
As I allow myself to explore these ideas in greater depth, I am reminded of what I saw two years ago on Rozz's instagram; it was then when I first began to question more and unpack these abstract, arbitrary ideas of self-identity and self-worth —
Of course, at that time, I resonated very much with these words because I didn't want to just live as a 'filmmaker' when I had so many other things I was passionate about and that I cared for. Clearly what she had reposted from Stephen Fry stuck with me because I remember this even 2 years on. I think what I had observed and found myself being uncomfortable with, was how we were taught to tie our self-worth to what we do, before an understanding of who we are as human beings. Before we recognise and appreciate the process in which we have undertaken to get to where we are today. I'm not saying it's wrong to derive self-worth from what you do at work; perhaps it's about broadening that perspective so that you see yourself as a whole person first, as someone more than a noun?
Now that I have defined myself at least on the realm of social media, to be a filmmaker, it feels funny that it is all people see of me. This was what inspired me to write this in the first place, because I was for awhile, living my life as though it revolved around my work. At the same time, I resisted making my work my life even though I enjoyed what I do so much (and so I am also resistant to being defined entirely by what I do). That is, until I experienced burnout, and took a step back to re-evaluate my life and realised I am more than that. I am also someone who can do nothing on some days, who likes to sleep, who is interested in fashion, and visual art, and k-dramas and on days I'm in the mood for some intellectual simulation, discussions about current affairs and conversations about inequalities and race and identity (and k-dramas haha). Shameless plug haha: I have also recently designed and is managing this online store selling Kyocera ceramics kitchenware on the side, so I'd appreciate it if you could maybe check it out.
As I sit in my swirly chair looking out at the silent skies, and waiting for my vlog to render (I had recorded this 2 months ago), I am overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts — I'm proud of myself that I actually finished this vlog I had committed to two months ago, I'm thankful for all that has happened and have been put in place for me to do the things that I am doing today, I struggle with feeling good enough everyday but I know that I wake up trying to do my best and that’s ok, and I’m also horrified of all that is to come yet somehow, I feel at peace that this is where I’m supposed to be.
For every week in the last few months, I’ve been a part of this Enneagram online course that is organised by Xuehan and Nick and I have learnt so much about myself and others. It has been an enriching experience and while I was initially a little bit hesitant because honestly over my budget, these weekly sessions have really become a time I put aside for self-reflexivity and being present (or at least I try to be most of the time).
I identify as a type 4, which means, to put it simply, I’m f*king weird la haha, with an intense emotional bandwidth of a planet. I have very many thoughts about what I’ve understood type 4s to be, but fundamentally, I resonate with this need for authenticity and uniqueness, although I have at some moments felt judged for wanting both authenticity and uniqueness — it seems I am always being told that I should be learning to appreciate everyday ordinariness, which I find myself already doing. I do feel there is always something special in ordinariness, so I constantly find myself wondering if it's just a matter of perspective no? I still am finding that balance, and I also catch myself sometimes thinking to use my number as an excuse for feeling a certain way and brush it off. Just recently, I found myself saying to a loved one "I'm like this because I'm a 4, and you can never understand me fully," and then I quickly call myself out for making up this crappy excuse and unfairly imposing this on someone else. Having watched this for the Xth time, I think this is an accurate snippet of the things I think about on a daily basis:
I also am actively trying to prevent myself from labelling people as number types in my head when I interact with them, just because I find it unfair to assume that what I perceive to be one's personality type may not be accurate as to what/who they really are. But something I have found to have improved myself is this increased empathy and understanding I have, now that I am able to recognise better everyone has different ways of seeing and being, and not everyone needs/wants the same things. It can be hard to discern sometimes, especially growing up in a society/community/country where systems and cultures are in place.
We are left with a few weeks in the Enneagram course, and I shall expand upon my experiences when I have properly been able to process this journey. Of course, the learning doesn't stop with the end of this programme but good things must share. Plus, I enjoy translating thoughts to word.
I have digressed. In writing this, I have realised I can be more than a noun, and more than what I do for a living, and that we can all be more if we wanted to. We are changing creatures, who are constantly thinking and feeling and doing and moving and growing, and we shouldn't allow ourselves to be defined by a noun (unless of course this is what you're happy with then please do you, although I urge you to look beyond the boxes you have drawn for yourself.) Words are failing me at this time so I shall sign off until the next time I am inspired to write again haha.
Please take care, keep safe and protect yourself (not just your health, but your heart and your selves)!
xoxo, Sam @gweishi