How to Define Yourself

My writing mentor (even though we’ve never met or talked), Augusten Burroughs, writes some pretty wonderful advice about love and life and everything in-between. In his book, “This is How,” he gave his readers some insightful advice: Who you are is made up of multiple things, but you do not have to define yourself with any of them. In essence, labels are straight-up bullshit. You label yourself.

This is not a quote. In fact, I cannot find an actual quote of what specifically this book taught me (I highly recommend it, obviously). Anyway, I want to hash out that idea here.

Assume all quotations in this piece are by Augusten Burroughs.

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How Taking Myself Too Seriously Ruined Me

Hey there!

I recently wrote a piece for a new website called “Twenties + Adulting” about my experiences working in the film industry as an unnecessarily pretentious perfectionist and how my perspective on life + happiness completely changed. If you’ve been keeping up with The Barefoot Aya, you know that many other experiences somewhat forcibly changed my perspective, which you can read about here. Below is an excerpt of the piece and a link to the full article. I will occasionally contribute to this new website and I’m very excited. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!

-Aya

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How to Shop Responsibly This Year

The Holidays are a great way to spend some quality time with friends and family, but greed and other interests can get in the way. Make this year what the holidays are supposed to represent: love and quality time with family and friends. Of course, we can still enjoy gift-giving by shopping responsibly. Below are a few guidelines to holiday shopping this year.

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A Box of Damaged Photographs

Tell me it’s okay. I know it’s not, but I want you to tell me anyway.

The world is passing by in a wisp of smoke and I’ve lost sight of the ground.

Tell me who you are, who I am. Speak your words as loudly as you can because I can’t hear you from all the way over here.

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10 Things You Learn When You Think You’re Going to Die

A few months ago (and I’m still not really sure how this whole Mystery Illness is going to turn out), I admit it, I thought I was going to straight up die. I thought I was going to die slowly, in a hospital somewhere, with no diagnosis, probably alone in Los Angeles. I never really thought enough about dying alone to be afraid of it. It didn’t make much sense to me. Who cares? No one really knows what dying is like anyway – what’s the difference if you’re with someone or alone? Feeling deep inside that you may be dying brings about certain truths

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How to be Poor in a Rich City

You’re poor. No matter what type of poor, you don’t have excess money. Perhaps you spend more money commuting to your job than you make at your job. Perhaps you just graduated from college and you’re scrimping on your puny little savings, mad at the world. How could the world that promised you so much offer you so little? Yeah, you’re not alone. Maybe you joke about being poor. Maybe you never use the word. Maybe you have a laptop and a car and a smartphone so you couldn’t be poor, right? Listen, you don’t have to admit anything. You’re just reading this post out of curiosity. It’s cool.

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Accepting the Unknown

 

After traveling to different places and constantly shifting gears to change with the locations and people I’m surrounded by, I can’t help but get a little depressed every time I must leave to take on a new adventure, despite the excitement that comes with it. I fill my head with questions such as “Will I ever be back here” and “When I come back, will anything be the same? Will the same people be alive? Will I be able to visit the same places?”

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