2023

Reading Time: 6 minutes

(Still a work in progress…)

When it seemed like everything I knew about myself fell apart, I spend the beginning of 2022 desperate to make myself legible.

There was a long period where I was deeply confused, unable to separate myself from production, my relationships to my engagements (but still, what are we but our relations with one another?), what I offered. This alienating trail of thought is why I worked several jobs through all of college, sleeping 2–4 hours a day and attending meetings from 10–7AM, then maybe to class. I paid attention to what I was supposed to do, but when I was told to rest I inclined to shape something with myself. Any idle time I reclaimed to produce something, regardless of any seeming purpose.

I learned to trust that for anything I believe in doing, the meaning will come. I most valued my own agency and intuition, and in turn what was necessary for me to keep on being was what I continuously carved out. And so I, in this need to know myself, kept fragmenting & reconstructing whatever parts of myself were interesting, or abandoned, or latent—all in service to this lifelong, endless journey of knowing who I am. When you do, make, and be, you learn that this question for meaning becomes a quest of becoming; in asking these questions I construct who I am, what concerns me, what parts of myself I want to unravel. Placing oneself in these environments that allow for the self to come, to emerge; the act of placemaking is making, making is placemaking. More than the construction of artifacts, I found myself constructing beliefs, faiths, conditions, and environments to become myself.

Knowing myself this year was then just an act of stepping back from all this placemaking and dwelling to name (or leave with no name) what I had become.

In 2022 I was so in love and in 2023 I hope to continue being a more attentive and expressive lover. Of the world and people and experiences and artifacts and systems we create… Of how precious being is, to be conscious of myself, to know continuously that I choose who I am and am new every morning, to continue making myself into being—for myself. To be seen is a bonus.

I want to explore this world with people; I want to build things that go out of my control, shared in the hands of others. I want to know what I truly desire and what truly moves me. I want to pay deep attention to my longings that are already present and just waiting, and to graciously welcome all that will come.

I just updated chia.pics with some photos I was ashamed of sharing for some reason. It’s still (and always will be) a semi-curated directory of low-quality pictures that I intentionally upload at a delayed pace, but I’ve been thinking about how strangely affected I am by shame when signaling things that have happened to me: that I graduated from Yale, which in itself is a miracle considering that I came from a no name school and that this was all an unexpected life turn—even if I’m rife with resentment for my experience there and how uneven it was; that I had done things that I wanted to ask to be witnessed. I’m okay with this vicarious, unapologetic sharing of the self, but of course feel more worn than I’d like to be when it feels like the heart is in a vacuum. I’m thinking about apathy as a signaling of status, that which I loathe, and the problem of obscuring effort, the completely divorcing of ourselves from pride and celebration, and in turn—talking about ourselves lesser and lesser until we become small in our own eyes. I’m sure there’s a way to keep that separation and I’m sure there’s some backhanded saying about how constantly blasting your own self means you’re compensating for something—but I’ve lived a life where I continuously had to carry myself and even name what this was, and perhaps this is a silly routine that I can’t let go of.

I moved to San Francisco and my friends in New Haven helped me pack up my life when I didn’t have the time. This time last year I cried when I realized I had friends that were willing to help me move a couch. I started work at a place that I’m truly happy and challenged to be designing at—one that isn’t intellectually compromising but actually infinitely generative, one that has made me more details-oriented and ruthless with my routine & precision, and one that has been incredibly receptive to my broad ideas. I’m happy to be at Figma, to have articulated my love for tools and the interfaces that support them when I thought the field would be at a drought of places with products I could, with 100% conviction, say I believe in. I still think this is a dream and remember that I was applying to hundreds of internships in my first few years of college and tried about every route into technology with little faith in myself; even at my lowest I reviewed hundreds of resumes for Developh and, with my friends, hand-typed overly-detailed 1000+ word annotated career advice in addition to doing hour-long calls with students who wouldn’t even email us how they are. I think vaguely about my life’s work, which is very much a representation of myself, my desire, and the world I seek—and the nature of work on the internet, so hypervisible yet also so isolating. I thought about the ways I represented myself, how I talked about myself especially, and the ways these morphed

Things I want to do

To be more attentive, to know who I am and what philosophies I’m abiding by. To let go of the hatred of myself that runs deep and forbids me from loving. To be more expressive with love. To attend better. To answer my emails

Tangibles:

  • create with people
    • i want to make projects, websites, art, zines, events, gatherings, parties with my friends new and old
  • do at least two art exhibitions, if i do anything solo would be amazing
    • physical or online
  • make at least 3 larger projects (in scope, scale); either maintenance or rebuilding
  • make art practice a bit more sustainable so i dont have to keep skipping meals
    • i will do it regardless of reception
  • dj at least 3 events (amb/exp electronic)
  • host ambient dinner at my place in sf
  • be witnessed
  • great project launches at figma, help w early-career recruiting and some toher stuff i cant share
  • do at least 5 talks, design/worlding/websites
  • organize a class, make teaching portal
  • release ambient ep
  • play another ambient show
  • start a radio show at local sf/internet radio station
  • organize a residency for filipino media artists/technologists at developh, help bring these into fruition
  • im gmoing to start a project where everyone on the team is an intern including myself, there is no otjher prompt
  • throw a gathering around a website
    • probably not mine
  • make an OST for a website
  • proper release of engine.lol OST on maybe
  • when we love
  • make and release when we love OST
  • research, write, and prepare a long-form class (5-6 weeks?)
  • write 2 new original workshops/classes/resources, maybe host them
  • start fund for philippine cassette archive, working on digitizations
    • expand to CDs

I think one of the most powerful things we can do for each other is to attend. How immense the simple gesture of declaring importance, love, and presence is for one to another. It makes sense; the most precious thing in our life is time, and an earnest declaration of attendance—of I will be here, of I will wait, of an acted this is important for me, perhaps even a this life is what it is with your presence. So much of my life has been about generally subverting, discarding what was deemed critical to ‘attend to’ at that point. I left religion and attended to myself and my own picture of faith when the Philippine model of Catholicism didn’t work for me, I left frustrated at my education and carved my own that led me to a traditionally successful university, where I spent four years so naively wandering and working to survive and find my own self. I’m still so sad… at how these paths I took have deprived me of simple histories and shared experiences to relate to other people, coupled with a history that may not have been rough but certainly one I couldn’t take.

When I make, I act do make myself legible and understand myself in process—I trust that the meaning will always follow. That everything I love and do will come back to me.

Lately I’m having trouble deeming what I believe to be important, or that there is meaning in self-expression. Maybe I’ve exhausted my interest and urge to know myself. Maybe I would like to know this world with other people.

Comments

Jyo says:

Dear Chia,

So much of your work is so endearing, earnest and fresh. I look forward to every time you make something new. I want to create too. Often and often and often there is this fear that clings to my brain. Of not wanting to be seen. There is a lot of dichotomy within both of our experiences but I resonate with a lot of your work and wish to be a a kind and gentle supporter of your work.

wishing you a sweet 2023.

love,
jyo

Kristoffer says:

Dear Chia,

In your light a thousand flowers bloom and from your shadow a place of rest and wonder. Thank you for existing.

With care,
Kristoffer

Leave a Reply