I was playing the piano this evening, and I played a game with myself – to play through the entire piece three times without one mistake. If I made a mistake, I would have to start over from 0 again. Very quickly, I found that it would take me days of practicing to achieve that, so I dropped my standards to playing flawlessly just once. When I couldn’t do that either, I slowed down my speed and was hyperfocused. It took me at least 6 tries (the piece is long so it took me almost half an hour) to get it perfect, and I even let myself go with a few slipping, unsolid notes.
My middle school piano teacher taught me this game. I remember that many times when we had class, I would make over two mistakes in a simple piece, and he’d tell me to repetitively play again. He would not scold me but be very calm and stern as he cut me off in the middle and start over again. Something in his tone and in his way of saying “start from the beginning” made me cry almost all the time in class. I was very frustrated and wanted to give up after 4 times of his same monotone response. He said that music is art and art should be perfect. Playing the correct note at the right time is the lowest standard and the first step of dealing with a piece. Style and musical expression come after. He said that a pianist’s entire career is ruined if he/she made one single mistake in a concert. He told stories of himself playing 16 hours a day (40 minutes practice, 20 minutes rest) for weeks, playing the same measure for that day if an error was made there. My piano skills improved quickly under his teaching, and I cried less and less as I stopped making as many mistakes.
I don’t think I’ll ever match the extent of his persistence though I long for that level of perfection. I wonder why my teacher’s rigidity does not take away the joy of playing music. I played tons of mistakes in my recital last year and my life is not ruined, maybe because I am not a professional pianist. So when I was trying to practice a tenth of what my teacher endured this afternoon, it made me think that maybe I do not need to apply what I’m trying to do with music to all areas of my life. I feel bad for finding excuses for my lack of piano practice, but it IS impossible for me to make music perfect, especially with my careless personality and clumsy fingers. I’ll just keep piano as a hobby. I need to feel comfortable saying: there is room to make mistakes.
Happy Chinese New Year!
Because I attend an International school in Taiwan, I get an extra week off other than Christmas break – Chinese New Year break. I think this was imposed because of the traditions such as family reunions that Taiwanese families have to keep up.
I have spent these two days finishing Jennifer Niven’s book – All the Bright Places. It has been an amazing read about a difficult topic – mental illness (bipolar disorder) and suicide – and Niven has portrayed this beautifully, encouraging discussions over the web.
As someone struggling with anxiety and wild mood swings and an advocate for disabilities and mental illnesses, I encourage you all to read this book if time allows. Mental illnesses are scary and real; fortunately, there are also numerous resources for us to seek support. Reading this book helped me learn more of the prevalence of mental illness in teens like me, that we may go to great lengths of hiding what we are going through and that we may be confused or too ashamed to speak up. People may not want to wear the labels, like depression, anxiety, and autism, because of the negative stigma attached to them, but it is crucial to recognize that these labels are the key to accommodations, treatments, and support.
Some day. Difficult day.
I managed AP Statistics okay. Then came the difficult part – Bible class. I was tired and wanted to shut down. I did not know how to ask for help, and I did not want to leave class. I was in deep sadness and couldn’t really identify why. On the outside I was looking fine and holding up, but the turmoil was growing beneath. I don’t really know if it’s sadness or anxiety. It felt terrible. I walked past the counselor’s office many times, but it just felt difficult to walk in and ask for help. It was mentally inaccessible for me, so I just thought I would deal with it alone. In Bible class, I was writing down my thoughts: “I feel extremely bad at myself. I am unhappy and upset. How do I say that I am suffering and want to kill myself? How do I manage to make words work when there is so much turmoil inside? Then when communication does not work, I feel so lonely and sad. I need help.” Continue reading “Difficult Day”
This is the first big research paper I have been working on the past two months. As a high school student, it has been the greatest academic challenge so far in high school, taking so much tears, time, and dedication as someone struggling with debilitating anxiety. Including the works cited, consulted, and a couple interview transcripts, it is 43 pages long. I am excited to share my work with you, especially with those on the spectrum, to gain more perspective of how ASD is portrayed both globally and in Taiwan:
“Really? You don’t look autistic. You make eye contact, and you can speak normally.” This was my response when an autistic friend disclosed his diagnosis to me. While I felt ashamed of my hastiness after learning more about autism, my judgment indeed represents common autism stereotypes. Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects a wide range of diverse individuals, so autistic people do not have a certain look. Many of its symptoms, such as communication and sensory issues, are not clearly visible and may be overlooked to the untrained eye. Some older Taiwanese people have no knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorder, while others have misconceptions like autistic people are violent and incapable of functioning. These misconceptions are due greatly to incorrect media portrayals. Even though filmmakers have created numerous movies and documentaries about Autism Spectrum Disorder, Taiwanese people often base their perspectives on limited or inaccurate media portrayals of autism, which leads to a lack of support and exclusion from society for people with ASD. To foster increased understanding, more documentaries and commercials should be created based on the real life experiences of people on the spectrum in Taiwan, correcting the views of autism, promoting a more inclusive, autism-friendly environment, and increasing opportunities for early intervention. Continue reading “The Public Perception of Autism in Taiwan”
- The fact that I’m in a small, private Christian school
- The caring, kind mentors and counselors around me
- How God answers my prayers. I’ve been praying for a clinical counselor to help me since almost a year ago, which at that time was an impossibility due to my parents. Somehow, God has made it work out through miraculous ways!
- I can enjoy playing the piano – the most amazing toy I have.
- I am unique because of how God created and molded me.
- God is good and He loves me.
- My family – even though they are not perfect, I am privileged to have them in my life.
- The struggles (anxiety and depression) I have been going through have allowed me to strengthen my faith in God.
- God gives me (and everyone who believes in Christ) INFINITE HOPE.
- For all the attributes of who God is.
Happy Thanksgiving! I have not been posting recently because I have been so overloaded by the amount of school work. I’m so glad that Christmas break is coming up and pray that I can find some quiet time and peace. I want to be able to remember the blessings in my life and give thanks to God every single day rather than just on Thanksgiving… Hope you all have a great rest of Thanksgiving!
Here is a geeky video on how to eat “mathed” potatoes.
As I walk in the crowd, I feel like I am merging into thin air, invisible, alone. Many people describe loneliness as if he/she is the only person left in the whole world. But I see it differently. The same isolation is depicted in my mind as if I don’t exist anymore. I merge into everything that is happening around me like a ghost. When my peers are all chatty and smiling in the cafeteria, I sit aside, observing their interactions, unable to fit in or engage in their conversations. As I float through the hallways to my locker and to the next class, I listen to the small talk between my peers. I try so hard to be a part of that, but their speech is unbelievably fast with seemingly purposeless. And I know if I make an effort to engage, they will ignore me, and I will feel overstimulated and anxious. Continue reading “Loneliness”