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Notes from Ash Huang


I am a lot. For me this is usually useful and fun—ideas everywhere! Respond instantly with a long pep talk in the group chat! Conceive of and build an entire project including a full functioning static site! Write an entire 5000-word short story in a day! Make a new project for myself at work!

But in the context of other people, it causes me great distress, and there’s no project like the project of meeee~~~

The people who know and love me appreciate my energy, but like any other person, I have received plenty of negative feedback on my personality. I’ve been literally shushed by superiors in large public forums, told I’m ‘overwhelming’, or that I ‘suck all the air out of a room’. I am not capable of being cool or collected, I’m only capable of masking into that by being silent. So, ironically, my rapid-fire enthusiasm makes me very shy, even with folks who have known me for years.

I know being appealing is a losing project, that it’s an old map of surviving that I could afford to drop now that I am safer. I don’t need it to escape physical punishment, and I need it less to make a living for me and my family. I still struggle to give it up.

Self-compassion and self-care help, and I kind of feel bitter that they do. I’m not talking about self-compassion like, a cute affirming phrase! or self-care like, let’s do a sheet mask! If you also need to consciously think about self-compassion and self-care you know it’s literally, I deserve to eat today because I am a human being, I don’t have to earn this bagel.

But you know…I feel like I woke up suddenly sometime last year and realized that enough people deeply know me and have known me for years, and genuinely appreciate me for what I am. I’ve worked really hard to be the best me I can be—less afraid of being generous, forgiving more, living less defensively, taking things less personally while also accepting when I am hurt.

I don’t know, maybe I’ll delete this post eventually. But as I start to think more about community and connecting with folks this year, I think I just need the reminder that it’s important to take breaks from self-improvement and understand that it’s a lifelong quest, one you can take a month off from without restarting some “days without incident” clock.

Even as I write this, I’m like, is this overwhelming? Am I laying too much bare? Should I be embarrassed to post this? But I know someone out there is struggling with the same thing. I guess this is an attempt to connect over time and space for maybe even just the one person who has actually gotten to the bottom of this uncomfortable post and doesn’t have the emotional support structure I do these days.

Take a break. All the little work you do to be better adds up, even if you miss a week, a month, a year.