is overintrospection selfish?

Hello we are 3 weeks into the school semester, and I already feel burnt out like a charred piece of salmon left for too long on the grill! Great! I can’t wait to get to the point when I’m old enough to look back on my anxious little worrying self and wax words of wisdom when asked the question,”What advice would you give to your younger self?” I’d respond,”I wish that I didn’t stress so much about the future and the myriad of uncertainties that cloud life. In the end, everything turns out ok.” I am 99% sure this is what future me would say to current me (yes I’m clairvoyant). And even in anticipation of this insight, I can’t not be worried. How can I not be worried? Nothing is certain! Nothing is constant! Stress is built into my personality. I operate day-to-day with high cortisol levels and a paralyzing fear of the future. These have become constants in my life. My name might as well be Annie Worried Su.

I’m afraid to say “I can’t wait for this semester to be over” because I know it will be filled with meaningful moments, but honestly, right now, I can’t wait for this semester to be over.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my sense of self and how often I reflect on things solely inside my realm of existence. I read a podcast transcript yesterday of an interview with Naval Ravikant, the CEO of Angel List (a recommendation from a friend). He talks about his “monkey mind” of desires that “at some point gets out of control and then we are constantly talking to ourselves in our head. We’re playing little movies in our heads, walking down the street, but no one’s actually there.” It’s the brain working on overdrive, fantasizing about what the world might be like and how reality might ideally be. The guy says the best way to keep in touch with reality is “by not having a strong sense of self or judgments or mind presence. The monkey mind will always respond with this regurgitated emotional response to what it thinks the world should be. That will cloud your reality.” I agree with this to some extent. I don’t want to be a slave to my thoughts and inflated sense of self, but what’s an existence without a clear idea of who I am? Isn’t this the whole point of life–to figure out who I am and what kind of human I’d like to be? Or is that selfish? Am I selfish for thinking so often about my own existence? I look inward for such a large portion of my time that I forget to set aside time for others and think about where they’re coming from and how I might be making them feel in certain social situations. I just think about myself myself myself. Is it because I have too strong a sense of self? Is this selfish? I know in words, it sounds a bit silly. “No, Annie! It’s ok to think of yourself. You come into this world alone. You die alone. You journey through life alone. How could you not be thinking of the main player in your game of life?” But at the same time, I want to help others in some meaningful way. I probably won’t cure cancer or come up with life-improving innovations. I don’t believe in myself enough to think that I’d have an impact in that way. But that just means I have to make up for that in other ways. I can be kind to others and show empathy. I can be a supportive friend, daughter, sister, roommate, etc. I don’t want to just live a solitary life of self-engrossment. Self-improvement and growth is great and all, but if my time on this planet is only for myself, I can’t help but think that’s a little too selfish.

Am I overthinking this? Probably.

I want to lie in bed for a long time and not move, not think, not be worried, not exist actively.


(anxious) homeostasis

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fuzzy plant at 6am
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home; reading Ready Player One with a snack of clementines
first sunset back on college campus. a little bittersweet.
part of my trek home from class
view from my 17th floor room; dust and window smudges
campus–unnaturally quiet at night

Time stamp: Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. 12:16am.

Instead of completing my two daunting school assignments due tomorrow, I’m going to prolong my night and write a blog post. Today marks the end of the 3rd week of school and the slow beginning of the influx of deadlines, lectures, quiet nights, and Spotify study playlists.

I hope to make the most of this semester. I’m not even sure what that really entails, and I know I say the same shit every year, but at least the optimism lingers. That’s better than despair and a broken spirit (slightly). This past week has been so emotionally, mentally, and physically draining. I can’t keep living deadline to deadline. Last semester, I had no regard for whatever basis of “physical/mental wellbeing” was and let my stress and the fluctuations of daily minutiae dictate my psyche.

I found this old iPhone note I wrote this past summer:

I feel like my life is in flux. I know this is temporary, but when all the embellishments and distractions peter out, I’m left with my own shell of purposelessness. Usually there is enough buzzing about to distract me. I don’t know what possessed me today, but I felt so lost all of the sudden. Is life always going to be glimpses and reminders of this excruciating loneliness and meaninglessness? I finally meet people I like. People with big hearts and thoughtful actions. But they operate on a completely different belief system? How strange. I was hanging out with some friends today and felt a growing abyss between us. If our most fundamental belief systems, our building blocks for who we are as humans, differ so starkly, how can we ever connect in a non superficial way? We can never fully understand each other.
God. Is it always going to be like this? I feel such a gaping void inside of me. And maybe it’d be nice to fill it with thoughts of “god” and his unconditional love. But those are beliefs I could never fully subscribe to myself. To me, that’s a cop-out answer. I need to figure out how to ascribe meaning to my own life and actions; it just hasn’t happened yet. Maybe I tried to fill that void with ______ too. Maybe I tried to fill it with ________. Maybe I tried to fill it with some outlandish ideal of a kindred spirit. But these things were tenuous.
How do I go forth from here?

There is no metric for progress as a human being. I have no way to measure if I’m growing soundly and steadily. I still identify with this summer rumination and the strange feeling creeps in sometimes late at night when I’m left with my own thoughts for too long, but I have a deeper understanding of myself and my perception of the world. There’s nothing really to be said or done in response to the “meaningless” of life. You accept. And you make sure to not fly too close to the sun or sink too far down the pool where dark thoughts fester. That’s it.

Being around the friends I’ve met in college is a humbling and earnest fill of time. Despite everything, good things happened today. I need to remember to express gratitude and recognize the love and goodness in life…if I could really project out to the world my wishlist for the rest of eternity, it would consist of handwritten notes and letters. My friend wrote me a thoughtful note. For some reason, the kindness in this gesture made my heart break in that same way it does when I feel so thankful and undeserving for such gestures that I don’t know what to do but cry. Maybe a simpler way to put it is that the note really moved me. Today, in preparation for Felicia and Aliya’s birthday, some friends cooked a dinner of bibimbap, homemade pizza, meat buns, and cake. I felt at home…in college, a place that for so long seemed cold and hostile. There was also Cookie Night a few hours ago, which is a weekly gathering of friends in Katey’s room, where she serves freshly-baked cookies and sometimes hot apple cider. The room is shoved to the brim with more people than I could have even imagined in a tiny college dorm, and the atmosphere is warm, both because the body count almost poses a fire hazard and because everyone is kind, friendly, open.

God I feel, like, a thousand emotions all at once right now.

Sometimes I still worry that I — nevermind. No time to worry!

Ok, I have to do homework now. I’m really excited for my Intro to Buddhism class–I can tell it’s a good class because I walk out of the lecture hall feeling light and introspective. There are a thousand things I want to pore over and think about. This semester, I’ll do my best! Ganbarimsasu~ がんばります

(Also, I’m in the process of making a vlog for this past week)

(Also I hope whoever might be reading this has a genuinely seriously honestly good day and that the little things maybe touch you or make you feel at least a little bit glad to be alive)

(Addendum: when I turn 20, I will be entering my 3rd decade of existence. THIRD. This whole time, I kept thinking “ok this will be decade 2.” But 3 is a much larger number than 2…I can barely keep my life together. I starve sometimes because I forget to feed myself and my cacti are dying and I didn’t even know that was possible. ?!)

dreams of suburbia

1227_bryanThis past winter break, my friend Bryan and I reminisced on our old photography schenanigans. After a year away in college, we decided to regroup and revisit old artistic endeavors…these photos were taken in my old house, which I lived in from birth until the first half of high school. Nothing can compete with the warmth of sunlight that tinges this kitchen with hues of pink and orange at sunset. I’ve come to associate this cozy house with my childhood, times filled with reasonless laughter  + basking in the sun.



I read this thing about being deliberate with truly living that a woman named Holly wrote before she died. And her writing really really struck me. These words comprise her last message for the world, and she’s telling us that life is so so sososoos short.

I have spent so much of my time being fundamentally unhappy. Fretting over school grades, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, depression, whatever– anything that a human could possibly be unhappy over…all the little things.

What if I died tomorrow? What parts of my life were actually meaningful, and what parts were gray static fillers where I lived like a piece of dust caught in the caprices of a gust of wind?

What holds people back from enjoying life as is? Why do all these little things so easily throw us off kilter? I guess the alternative is really hard too. It’s really hard to not sweat the little things. It’s really hard to be detached enough to circumvent these negative feelings but still tethered and humble enough to be grateful and loving.


Hello. I’m in my second semester of sophomore year of slumps and sleepiness…I’m looking forward to my Intro to Buddhism class this semester. Maybe I will find some of the answers I’m looking for and develop clearer contours of how I want to live…that’s the hope, at least!


After watching a host of self-improvement/productivity/life Youtube videos created by Rowena Tsai, I wanted to both incorporate sticky notes into my daily life (lol) and think about “what’s my life purpose?” On my closet wall, I stuck a congregation of sticky notes detailing what I think my life purpose might be. I don’t think I’ll ever truly know or be satisfied with some definitive outline of what my life should be like, but it’s important to be mindful of what I want to do/be like, so I have some longer end goal that keeps me grounded. Otherwise, amidst the transience of all the ups and downs and fleeting emotions, I’d lose myself, I think.


Also I think I’m going to start vlogging again this semester. I looked at old videos, and they brought back such well-preserved feelings from back then…


Sorry for such a disjoint, clunky blog post. It is but a reflection of how my brain feels right now…

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books of 2017


shoutout to the most irrelevant sketch ever for this post…I was bored…also the ‘7’ looks strange because my hare-brained self wrote ‘Books of 2018’ for some reason, so I had to go and fix that…

This past year, I read some pretty amazing books that taught me valuable life lessons and touched me with the depth of compassion in a narrative. Since I’m lazy, I’m going to reference my goodreads reviews of the books that I read in 2017.

I want to make sure my future self always minds the importance of quality over quantity. This year, I really want to stress how much I meaningfully derive and learn from the process of reading a book as opposed to how many physical book objects I plow through. If I’m not going to remember the lessons or keep any lasting impressions from a book, then what was the point in setting aside hours to read that book in the first place? Also, I want to read more nonfiction this year.

Books I read in 2017:

  1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  2. **A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  3. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  4. Vida by Patricia Engel
  5. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Flannie Flagg
  6. What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard Feynman
  7. Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman
  8. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
  9. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  11. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  12. **Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
  13. Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz
  14. **The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
  15. The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
  16. Naked by David Sedaris
  17. **Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky
  18. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

** – notable books

Notes/Impressions/What I learned (for full reviews, see my goodreads profile):

  • a little life: Reading this feels synonymous to entering, living, and absorbing an entirely new life. Maybe this book is so enticing because it acts as a portal to some other place, removed from time and real-world context. For me, A Little Life was most compelling in its display of human compassion. There is so much tragedy, injustice, and gruesomeness in this book. But for all of the painfulness associated in reading such passages, there are just as many acts of kindness and just as great a magnitude of love. And I’m not talking about “I love you, my soulmate” kind of love. This is the “friendship-that-withstands-the-tests-of-time” type of love. Jude has a disturbing past (kind of an understatement). But against this underlying tone of tragedy, the characters rise up in ways so awe-inspiring that I promise you, you will be moved profoundly. This book expresses the ineffable: what it’s like to suffer, to grow, to care for others profoundly, and to be inescapably human. I’m sad that I read through this book so quickly, and that it ENDED. “…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”
  • what do you care what other people think?: This book is a series of vignettes and letters that give a sense of who Feynman is. I really love this book because it’s like a keyhole into the inner workings of his thoughtful, relentlessly curious mind. Also, the epilogue contains Feynman’s public address “The Value of Science”, which is really worth a read.
  • the opposite of loneliness: I really enjoyed the nonfiction section of this compilation of Marina Keegan’s short stories. The essay that stuck with me most was “Even Artichokes Have Doubts” in which Keegan talks about millennial/generation Y things like how so many of us surrender ourselves to consulting after undergrad (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that) because it’s safe and pretty conventional. I like this essay because it reminds me to continuously give more thought into how I might contribute something meaningful to this world or even just to pursue a career that fulfills my own sense of purpose…maybe this just resonates with me because I’m a college student, and these observations the author’s made really align with how I perceive the world too. Also, I enjoyed reading this book because the author speaks in a personable way–like someone from our generation! Pretty rad.
  • the paper menagerie and other short stories: I loved the nods and salutes to Chinese culture, in all its richness and history. The familiarity upon seeing the pin ying and Chinese characters throughout the book made me miss my conversations with my parents in which I would speak fragmented Chinese sprinkled with English words here and there. This work was truly a joy to read. Thanks Ken Liu for painting a clearer picture of my Chinese heritage and shedding light on overlooked historical traumas.
  • hyperbole and a half: a hilarious, poignant, and messy illustrated set of stories/experiences that talk about things ranging from childhood schenanigans to depression. I remember staying up late one summer night, devouring this whole book in one sitting…I know this is a weird thing to say about a book, but I believe this would be a really great gift to give others…
  • excellent sheep: The author, Deresiewicz, recognizes questions like, “Why college at all?” And he gracefully remarks that college certainly isn’t the only place for self-growth, but it does happen to be one of the best and most apt little incubators for that process. Deresiewicz advocates for the true liberal arts education, as college should be a place of personal growth as a human being, not just a career-seeker or skills-developer. Although I’ve heard the “college teaches you how to think” aphorism more times than I can count, I enjoyed reading Deresiewicz’ writing. Sometimes a new phrasing or a fresh re-framing of intuition that seems obvious can catalyze an entirely new perspective or a gain of a deeper understanding. Yes, college is meant to instill the ability to think. But with this also comes the habit of reflection, which is ultimately the capacity for change. That is the true value of these four years of hell we put ourselves through. The book veers into quite a philosophical realm by the halfway mark. The author addresses the question of what college is truly for, and more broadly, what it might mean to live meaningfully. College is supposed to make you a more interesting person. And “interesting does not equal accomplished or impressive. What makes you interesting is reading, thinking, slowing down, having long conversations, and creating a rich inner life for yourself.” To live meaningfully is to live by your self-prescribed ideals, whether they are justice, beauty, goodness, and/or truth. While the book really sort of floated off into the land of philosophy and some quixotic ideals that I don’t necessarily agree with, I believe the book makes a vital point about higher education and the rat race so many of us are falling into. I’ve never been more acutely aware of the fact that I attend one of these scorned elite institutions. What really hit home for me is how so many of us are diligent, hard-working, and ambitious. But what _really_ are our ambitions? We toil so arduously for the sheer sake of toiling, and when we realize that we’re chasing empty, propped-up careers or diplomas or graduate schools, that’s terrifying and jolting. I definitely don’t want to stay on that path. And I see it so much here. I feel it so innately…
  • although of course you end up becoming yourselfthank you for existing DFW. This book was a candid glimpse into his thoughts and portrayal of DFW as a humble guy (almost to a fault) who neurotically mulls over life and all its minutiae and pop culture etc. etc. The book is essentially a transcript of Lipsky’s road trip spent with DFW. I almost sheepishly admit that I enjoyed reading what DFW had to say as a person more than I have liked some of his writings themselves, possibly because his books/short stories are very dense works of postmodern BLAH that takes a lot of strength and perseverance to get through (which I know is also the point). I liked that DFW talked a lot about loneliness, the “Americanness” of success-chasing, and the spectrum of addiction and mindless entertainment. There were some beautiful things DFW said about loneliness, and it made my heart ache thinking about how acutely alone he must have felt (and how frequently too) to be able to convey such poignant thoughts so eloquently…he is also a very thoughtful guy who introspects and is deliberate with his purpose as a writer, which is to be the conscientious observer of the human experience and put into words the fleeting everyday thoughts and senses that people have but don’t necessarily know how to concretely convey. favorite quote: “the job we’re to do is learn how to live in a way that we’re not terrified all the time. And not in a position of using all kinds of different things and using people to keep that kind of terror at bay…the face I’d put on the terror is the dawning realization that nothing’s enough, you know? That no pleasure is enough, that no achievement is enough. That there’s a kind of queer dissatisfaction or emptiness at the core of the self that is unassuageable by outside stuff. And my guess is that that’s what’s going on, ever since people were hitting each other over the head with clubs. And that our particular challenge is that there’s never been more and better stuff comin’ from the outside, that seems temporarily to sort of fill the hole or drown out the hole…I think it’s probably assuagable by internal means. I think those internal means have to be earned and developed, and it has something to do with, um, um, the pop-psych phrase is lovin’ yourself.
    It’s more like, if you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings.”

Hoping for more insightful reads and enjoyable books this coming year!

jan. 1

I’m not one to build up hopes and aspirations just because the clock has turned to a new year. That’s so dangerous! Think of all the possible chasms and quagmires of disappointment you could find yourself in from that pesky thing called “hope.” Much like medicine, Santa Claus, and God, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I believe in the continuous human plight of self-improvement and making the moments you find yourself in feel like home with what you have and who you’re with. Every turn of the year, I find myself in the same place: so this past year wasn’t stellar. I wish I had found ways to enjoy myself more. I don’t have anything that I’m particularly excited for this coming year either. I wish I had the power to slow down time, so I can make sense of things in the moment as opposed to puzzling over them a year later. 

Despite this, I still find January 1st a fitting time to reflect and recount moments and people from this past year.

the seasons—————–

winter – slow mornings when I summoned all my energy just to get out of bed and sit through class. tired days when I didn’t feel like talking to anyone or doing my homework. 3am’s when I sat in bed and stared at the black ceiling, unable to fall asleep. long days when I couldn’t muster the motivation to get out of bed. kicking through snowy pavements and bricked paths with my snow boots, enjoying the day off from classes due to inclement weather. an inability to connect with anyone or anything.

spring – desperate phone calls with friends and family in times of need. lots of salad bowls with edamame and broccoli. the world thaws a little, and everything becomes a little softer, warmer, lighter. nose buried in books and laptop screens and computer programs and problem sets. weekends where I’m disappointed by how late I wake up, as though I’ve wasted the entire day before even getting out of bed.

summer – loneliness. I learned what daytime loneliness feels like and how tiring the static whiteness of sunshine can be. late nights spent with new spirits who warm my heart and make me genuinely laugh. new friends, new places imbued with new meaning. sun-washed adventures in philly, new york city, baltimore, dc, alaska, canada, seattle. an abundance of time for introspection and reading and walking in the city late at night and attending concerts and sauntering through museums on my own. a new sense of comfort in my own skin, being by myself.

fall – things go well, sort of. I can’t shake the feeling of unease–things are going well for once, but this kind of fortune never lasts, right? In the fall, I met so many new people and deepened my relationships with old friends. afternoons spent lying on the couch in the harrison 1710 living room, flooded with light and warmth…light makes me happy. still feel unable to focus on the present. can’t focus on schoolwork well, constantly distracted. what’s that all about? still unsure…but moving forward. still moving forward.

to-do in 2018——————————-
  • be deliberate with time. there’s not enough time to wonder where all the days/weeks/months went or be fraught with decision paralysis. be less stingy with time; give it to others.
  • exercise more / be more active……….I’m coming for you, gym
  • manage my anxiety better / not be stressed 24/7 (aka change my ENTIRE WAY OF EXISTENCE)
  • related to above: prioritize general wellbeing and mental health over school/career e.g. be ok with the idea that idle and leisure time is just as important as time spent grinding and just as central to health + happiness
  • remember to be thankful for the people who have helped me get to where I am, especially my family.
  • doubt. self. less. accept self. no need to worry about appearing silly to others; I know I’m already silly. recognize that wherever I am, however I feel, whatever I’m doing, it is enough. 

2017 has taught me lot. This was a year of jagged edges and hearts and minds, a lot of confusion, ensuing inner growth (which happened whether I was ready or not), and an unrelenting direction forward. At this time last year, I was in a weird rabbit hole. I can’t really explain it and don’t know how to qualify the kind of turmoil I was feeling. The adjustment to college and the acceptance of adulthood was something I keenly rejected, so much so that I really fell down that rabbit hole…but in 2018, I will grow as best I can and soldier on no matter what. After all, there’s so much more to learn, kindred spirits to meet, and delicious foods to eat…