From the Mainland to the Island

If you’re part of the void that I blog to, you might have noticed the silence. Yes! I had been busy, enjoying my time down under AND going through yet another Juggling 3 Projects Summer Freelance Hell (despite having said that I’m no longer consciously making such hells for myself ever again, somehow it manifested itself on its own — that’s how publishing works!). Here’s a digest of stray thoughts that summarised the missing months:

Despite my attempts to live life a little more YOLO, I am still mostly stuck at home (see: Juggling 3 Projects) (not to mention the blase attitude of everyone outside re: covid and monkeypox). I’ve been transmuting that desire into personal comfort and development – replacing very cheap or inherited objects into lasting quality things that I like with my Grown Up Income; fixing bad storage solutions; generally accepting my own bodily form as appealing (a journey that began in 2015)

I am not sure if I mentioned this in one of my resolution posts or in this blog ever: but my 3 years long project of overcoming the anxiety of public speaking finally paid off!

I had always feared presenting myself via actual talking; I have social anxiety and I find the minutiae of physical conversation mentally and physically overwhelming. Having to maintain eye contact, look polite/pleasant, control my tics, modulate my voice, speak in a codeswitch accent, perceive the surrounding environment, while having to generate thoughts from my molasses brain etc. The words that come out of my mouth tend to sound like stream-of-consciousness ramblings due to the way I think (which you can see in the way I write here; but in writing, it’s much easier to edit from my end, or for you to go back a few words to reorient). Not exactly TED Talk material…

Unfortunately part of being a capital A Author that publishers like is the ability to present. If you want to reach out to your audience – especially kids who don’t read blogs – you got to go out there and speak. Not to mention speaking engagements are an alternative income stream that is even more impactful than freelance illustration: more folks from diverse places will cover your travel to stand in front of an audience with a slideshow. And you know my big life goal is to travel more.

Social anxiety has stolen many opportunities from me; so 3 years ago I started to talk more: get on panels, moderate panels, host workshops, host portfolio reviews, video myself for internal marketing material, doing streams, etc. Over time I found I need preparation beforehand and/or the ability to access a script. It also helps that I don’t have to focus on making eye contact or perceive unfamiliar environments in a digital space, so it’s made thinking easier which makes accepting these requests to talk less stressful.

There are some ups and downs, of course. Recently I had to test my speaking skills for an English test (a postcolonial institutional scam needed for immigration and university/job applications), and got blindsided by the examiner consistently interrupting me in the middle of answers. So I regressed, almost, to a bubbling fish. I feared that the skills I built up online didn’t transfer in person, or that my skills didn’t stick. But later that day I streamed with some folks and I still spoke well despite the devastation. Too bad that wasn’t what was assessed.

What made up for that however was my first in-person panel since 2019 and my first podcast interview also since 2019. I was able to compare my progress between 2019 and 2022, and boy! The improvement showed. Both of these were mostly unscripted, with some preparation. I presented myself decently (not magnificently, yet) in a way that got some positive feedback. And the biggest tell of all: I was no longer anxious pre-conversation. In earlier years I would have trembled and rattled. Now it’s just a thing.

I don’t think I have reached the point of fearlessness where I can jump on a live TV or radio interview or give a speech. My ability to think on my feet AND be aurally charming is undeveloped. But hey! Progress!

Somewhat related to the above: I love being on the internet. I can be my whole self and build art, give opinions, have fun without needing all of these associated with my actual bodily form.

I still do use the internet mostly this way. But nowadays, there’s this push to be more visible, to attach body and voice to online persona via sound bites and short videos. It’s so tiring that the mainstream platforms are pivoting to video for EVERYONE, not just newscorps. People showing their entire selves and speaking with their actual voices is almost a default mode of being online now, especially if you want to be viral or promote something or be seen as someone ‘trustworthy’.

Hello, hello

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.

Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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