For me, there’s something rather full-circle about starting a newsletter. I’m grimacing a little as I recall this: myself at eleven years old, tip-tap-typing out moody reflections about life on a clunky keyboard, sending out ramblings to a mailing list of contacts cobbled together from chain emails (forward on to ten friends, or you’ll … !).
I’m twenty four (as of today), so this was back in the days before social media had quite hit the mainstream amongst my peers; back in the days prior to Facebook’s ubiquity and the advent of TikTok. Back when we only had words to express our emotions. In that sense, I look back in embarrassment, but maybe a lick of respect too — at my shamelessness, at my courage, then. Words require you to express yourself with vulnerability in a way that emojis, GIFs, memes and videos do not.
This was also during a particularly lonely time in my life; perhaps I’m living through another stint of that same loneliness. I hope you’ll understand, in that case, why I’ve come back to distributing little thoughts into people’s inboxes.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be some form of a writer. As a kid and then as a teen, I dreamed of penning luxurious passages and publishing my own novel; I remember cycling through pen names and trying them out on my friends. I worked on honing my craft — mostly short stories (read: fanfiction), briefly poetry.
I’m still writing, though I’ve now swapped out creative fiction for essays and a doctoral thesis. What hasn’t changed, though, is how much I’ve always relied on putting words on a page to cultivate a sense of identity, process thought and emotion, and communicate visions of happier alternate realities.
So yes, that’s what this newsletter is —
A desperate attempt to clarify, or re-affirm, who I am, who I want others to understand me to be. Expect: Reflections about myself as a daughter, partner, friend, second-generation immigrant, Chinese-Australian, twenty-something.
An opportunity to make sense of the facts and feelings that keep me up at night. Expect: Commentary about my PhD research (and the process), popular culture, mental health, relationships, and more.
An outlet where I can advocate for better, safer, more intriguing, more hopeful. Expect: Analysis of public policy and other current affairs, book recommendations, miscellaneous opinion pieces.
This newsletter is also a battle against perfectionism, though, so don’t be surprised if I write something to you that’s none of the above. It’s about time I learned how to break my own rules.