99U: If curiosity is the antidote to fear, is vulnerability the key to creativity?
a transcript from the evening
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrified. I’m a product of the internet so this whole "talking to a room full of real humans" thing doesn’t really make sense to me.
Here’s a little backstory for those of you that do not know; I was born and bred in Hong Kong to a Chinese Mother and a German Father. Imagine those two cultures coming together. I grew up being a very, very repressed kid. Vulnerability is… First of all, a word that I couldn’t even say properly until I had to do this speech, secondly, it was something that was seen as weakness and so I never allowed myself to show it… It’s so stupid. Over time, it evolved into many things that I deemed were weaknesses too, such as asking for help, having emotions or simply saying, “I don’t know“.
I went to a very small art school called California College of the Arts. That was probably one of the first times in my life I felt completely liberated and allowed to indulge in my creativity. They had something called an “individualised major”, which meant that you could design the structure your classes to help you become the creative that you want to be.
I was never really offered so much freedom in choosing what I wanted to be and learn in life. I went from only being able to choose one creative subject a year to essentially being able to explore every creative outlet… Which actually lead to a lot of anxiety. I didn’t have an excuse or anything else to occupy my time with. I was finally left alone with me.
I realised how out of touch I was with myself and had a lot of work to do. I met some incredible people that helped me become more self-aware. All of my friends, professors and advisors were all creators that I respected so much. It took some time to adjust to an environment where every one was so open and that’s when I started to learn that your emotions could manifest into wonderful things.
THE MOST VULNERABLE PEOPLE ARE THE STRONGEST.
I’M AFRAID OF FEAR BEFORE I EVEN ALLOW MYSELF TO FEEL IT
See, in my “weak” moments I get really frustrated with myself and all I can say is, “I don’t know what I’m doing” - That freaks me out. I hate it. And I try so hard to stray from that because it sounds so irresponsible. I want to be a real person. I am in control and I want to know.
When you hit a really low point in life, you’re so sad and broken, all there is left to do is be yourself. You’re too exhausted to try to be anything, but yourself. It’s in those moments that I AM a real person. When you stop resisting these thoughts and allow yourself to feel, you are acknowledging yourself. If I don’t listen to myself, I can’t expect other people to do the same. If I don’t listen to myself, whatever I do wouldn’t be authentic.
If it isn’t authentic, it’s meaningless.