5 Things that Improved My Life in 2020

Happy new year everyone! Even though it’s 3 months into 2021, I wonder why it still feels like 2020. After reflecting my 2020, I wanted to share with you guys some of the things that has helped me go through uncertainty, as with in the year 2020.

*This post includes affiliated links from Amazon, where I will be earning a small percentage from.

1. Hair brush

One of the items that improved my life in 2020 is my Tangle Angel hair brush. As you have seen from my previous posts, I have had various hair changes this past year, which led to serious hair damage. I’ll be honest, but I have never really brushed my hair consistently, even when I bleached my hair a couple years ago.

I grew up with the idea that brushing hair too much is not good for the hair as it causes damage, in the sense that it pulls the hair out. But this time, I wanted to take better care of my hair since I want to keep my hair bleached, so I researched about various hair care habits. One of the first things that was available everywhere was brushing the hair. It seems that, brushing bleached hair, both when wet and dry is very important since it prevents bleached hair from getting tangled and breaking apart.

I also found that this Tangle Angel brush has been a popular brush in South Korea, known for being the best at detangling (it was recommended by Youtuber Sarang Choi). Of course I have heard of the tangle teezer, but also one of the reasons why I never really brushed my hair was because I did not have a proper brush that I enjoyed using.

Please ignore the dandruff, I know it’s gross but that just shows how much I use it.

Somehow there is a lack of information regarding Asian hair care in the US, and thus I have looked into more of the Korean information, which I trust more. And guess what? After it arrived, I have consistently been brushing my hair everyday (mostly). This brush makes my hair look and feel great, and it makes me want to keep brushing my hair. It’s amazing how important compatibility is in developing a new habit.

2. Routine

Especially during these uncertain times, I now realize how important having a routine is. As everything became online, my activities have all been focused at home, thus making it difficult to set boundaries as to my different activities. Skincare, hair care, and cleaning are the main routines that I am appreciating much more this past year. These make me feel better and greatly improves my well-being. Of course establishing a new routine is very difficult, I’m still having difficulties keeping my skincare, hair care and cleaning routine in check. But in a sense it gives me something to do, and I can definitely tell when something is missing. I am trying out a routine in which I only do academic tasks on the weekdays, and personal ones (including my creative projects) during the weekends.

3. Consistent bedtime / downtime

Sleep is one of the most underrated activity, especially in my life. Unfortunately, sleep has always been the first thing I sacrifice when it comes to school, social, club life and so on. But, this past year, I have been trying my best to maintain a consistent bedtime in which it is within the 12am range and waking up either at 8am or 7:40am. Of course this is such a difficult thing to do, but it highly improves my focus and health in the sense that it is something I put an effort in trying to ensure.

Thankfully, I use the Downtime feature on my iPhone that allows me to control my phone usage after certain hours, although recently I have found a way to go around it, but it does help to a certain extent. I also turn off notifications after hours, which creates an environment for me to naturally get bored and doze off to sleep. But of course, even if this were put in place, when I do get excited at night, it is impossible to bring myself to sleep, so I am trying my best to only do tasks requiring much brain power during the day and trying to watch something light-hearted during the night to help wind down (although of course I get distracted quite often).

Limiting apps and turning off notifications (left); reminder to go to bed (right)

4. Life Organization System

My life is very messy. I have a lot of stuff going on, family, social, school, club, blog, other projects and so on. And as I continue to add on more stuff to the list, I end up giving up on one or two things on my plate in order to make room for another.

One of the reasons for my poor life management is because I have never really set up a life organization system before. All I do is keep taking on responsibilities and giving up others and myself in order to maintain those responsibilities. But the reason why it became too much to handle in the first place is because I don’t even know what I signed up for. With the uncertainty going on, I had to really take a break and create some form of a life organization system in which I am separating personal, social, professional, creative life.

I have tried several ways to do this the past year, including bullet journalling. And what I’ve realized is that, I need different spaces for each. I’m now using my iPad Air for creating things such as cover letters and videos, while my laptop for researching and entertainment, and my phone for social activities. Of course there are some overlaps, but enabling this separation of space, allows me to organize better and become a little more productive.

I am also utilizing the Notion app, which gives me a platform to organize all my thoughts, ideas, and projects. Creating this system took quite some time, and of course it is still a work in progress, but it helps me to separate different aspects of my life and to establish those boundaries. It also highly increases productivity, since I make sure that my device does not have non-productive apps installed.

How I organize my life: from ideas to assignments

5. “One step at a time” mindset

Last but not least is the mindset of “one step at a time”. This is one that I have a difficult time applying, but has greatly improved my life. For the most part, I have this image of me as my goal, but I always get frustrated because it seems like I am unable to become that person which leads to an “I can’t do it” mindset. Thus, leading me away from the person I want to be.

One of the examples for this is with my hair. I experimented with my hair multiple times, and kept planning what my next hair will be, leading to hoarding multiple hair dyes. This led me to dislike my hair color the moment I dyed it into a new color and kept me away from enjoying the new look that I had achieved. Through 2020, I’m learning to be okay with sticking to one hair color, and I haven’t been bleaching my hair for a while, mainly because I am trying to become a responsible consumer by using up the products I got.

Embracing my current hair, along with its unevenness and long roots

This year has been the year where I really am learning to step away from immediate change into gradual changes with slow but sure steps. Since it’s about the process, not about the end result.

New Year Resolution

Although I usually come up with a new year resolution, I never actually thought about one for this year. I only thought of it some time into the new year. Well, my new year resolution is to reduce overthinking. Basically, thinking less and just doing more. Hopefully this will be something I can maintain throughout the whole year. What are your new year resolutions?

Tips on Making Friends Virtually Through Zoom

Summer’s already over but the pandemic is still prevalent around the world, which means….. fall semester at Zoom University!

As a senior who graduated this Spring, I thought I was unfortunate for having commencement cancelled. Looking back, I’m considered lucky since I got the chance to spend most of my senior year with my friends. I know that it must hit the current seniors harder than expected, and of course the freshmen who are starting college as well. But, don’t worry! As I’m also starting graduate school, I’ll be sharing a few tips on how to make friends in the virtual world.

Continue reading Tips on Making Friends Virtually Through Zoom

Why I Dress Down Even When I Love Dressing Up

Dressing Up? Dressing Down?

For me, dressing up is putting in the effort to mix and match my outfits. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a certain style, since I like a variety of different styles, but more towards the balance in colors, patterns, and so on. I do think that wearing skirts and dresses are definitely associated with dressing up, but wearing pants can also be part of it. And of course wearing something a little revealing, such as off-shoulder or crop tops, or short skirts are also a big part of it. But, the ultimate dressing up for me is to style my hair, along with mixing-and-matching my outfit with my makeup and accessories.

While dressing down is putting in less effort to creating a balanced look. Basically, it’s when I just wear whatever’s at the top of the drawer. Okay, I don’t actually wear “whatever” is at the top of my drawer, but I would purposely wear something that’s not balanced, or what would make me look shabbier. And of course, this includes not wearing any accessories or even doing my hair.

Why I Love to Dress Up

I’m just going to be honest, but dressing up makes me feel pretty and gives me a confidence boost. It makes me feel that putting in some effort in my appearance can really make a huge difference, and also gives me a sense of control in how I appear to others. Dressing up brings me joy, as long as I’m not obligated to do it. In a way, it’s something I do for myself and not for other people, but is something that I rarely do in reality.

Why I Dress Down

I dress down to avoid unwanted attention, whether it is positive or negative.

This quarantine period allowed me to focus more on myself than others, in a sense that I felt more freedom in choosing whether to dress up or down. Although my laziness did encourage me to dress down for most of the time, but there are times when I do want to dress up. A few days ago, I was inspired to wear a red checkered pleated mini skirt paired with a black tee, which I consider dressing up since I was wearing a color that stood out and showing more of my legs. I went out to walk my relatives’ dog and received unwanted attention.

“Are you Japanese?” A random kid asked. At first, I didn’t realize that the question was directed to me. In my head, I just thought of how out of the blue this question was. Then I realized that it was probably because I dressed up. I was not upset by his question, since Japanese people have mistaken me for being Japanese too. But, I was more surprised by this unwanted attention since all I did was just dress up (I didn’t even style my hair or did my makeup).

This experience made me think about how visually dominant this world is. The attention that I only receive when I dress up, feels very unauthentic to me. When I don’t dress up, people don’t pay as much attention to me as when I do dress up. I really can’t stand this insincerity because it’s such a pity when others only see my physical appearance as opposed to who I really am inside. Thus, further encouraging me to dress down, because then I can figure out who actually matters in my life.

On that very same walk, a couple old men approached me and asked about which dog I owned. At the time, I was very surprised by this unwanted attention and felt very uncomfortable and scared. I was afraid of being raped. I know that my fear is irrational, but I can’t help but be afraid. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Growing up in a conservative society where victim-blaming is prevalent and always being told to “dress accordingly”, it is so easy for me to think that the only way I can keep myself safe is to dress accordingly. By dressing accordingly, it means to cover more of the skin, wearing long pants or skirts, and long sleeved tops, etc. Hence, my irrational fear leads me to suppress my desire to dress up in order to stay in my comfort zone. But, I am starting to pity myself for feeling responsible for preventing other people’s wrongdoings.

I was recently inspired by Mark Manson’s best-selling novel, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck”, as he discussed how people who fear death are not truly living. This made me reflect on how my irrational fear is controlling how I’m living, instead of me being the one controlling my life decisions. Yes, I do dress down so that I could filter out my relationships, but I shouldn’t be dressing down because I fear attention. It is difficult to accept this fact since this is one of my biggest insecurities in life, but I know that in order to become the person I want to be, acceptance is my starting point. And I will practice being away from my comfort zone by dressing up to my heart’s content.