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October 2019 Theme: Metamorphosis, Continued

October 2019 Theme: Metamorphosis, Continued

Man with short black hair and striped dress in front of a distorted sign that reads "Caution: Reality Ahead"

Putting together “Metamorphosis” turned out to be way tougher than I expected. 

Each essay was the result of four or more drafts. My desk is currently stacked full of them, from printouts to passages hastily scrawled on legal pads. It’s no better in my digital workspace — the Google Drive folder I made for this series has twenty-five documents in it. Twenty-two of them are messy graveyards of unattached sentences and unfinished paragraphs. Three of them are final drafts that I ended up publishing in September.

To be honest, it wasn’t a fun process. I avoided thinking about this period of my life for a long time, and I was surprised at how painful it was to recount everything. Frequent breaks needed to be taken — it was easy to get overwhelmed. Even now, I can vividly recall the mix of apathy and helplessness that was ever-present during the months I was writing about.

Words are powerful that way. It’s been intense, but that’s mostly because I’ve finally been processing everything. This is in part why I choose to write about my life in the first place — by putting them into words, I let these situations go and am able to move the fuck on with my life. Plus, it produces some (hopefully) entertaining material for others to consume.

Anyway, I was on the fourth draft of what I thought would be the final essay in “Metamorphosis” when I discovered the reason I was struggling so hard. There was only time for one more post before the September 30 deadline, and I was trying to cram into it all I had left to say. There were so many things I had yet to talk about — how I recognized that I needed to change careers, what happened after that unsettling stranger came to my room at night, how dysphoria played a role in my career choice and why I came out as transgender when I did, how I finally learned to say “fuck it” and live for myself, how it dawned on me that every one of these experiences — the burnout, the questioning, the hopelessness — were actually quite common among people my age, how all of them were consequences of the “live fast, hustle hard” culture that I lived in and unwittingly tailored myself to.

I felt like I was in college again, struggling to finish something the night before it was due. And then realized that it was I who had set the completely arbitrary one-month due date, that I was the only person standing in my way:

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

It me. [photo source]

As I’ve said before, my biggest weakness is my tendency to overestimate exactly how much stuff I can take on at any given time. This time around, I both overestimated my own ability to produce well-written pieces and underestimated how hard it would be to make sense of this previously untouched Pandora’s box of nasty memories.

Yikes, I know. Especially since one of the central themes of this series is that constantly hustling is not always a good thing. [1] I acknowledge that, while my first job may have burned me out, I also overwork myself on a regular basis. A lot. A lot a lot. Per usual, I was writing on top of traveling, adventures with friends, and full-time job obligations. This is something I’m actively working on getting better at, but I imagine that it’ll most likely be a lifelong effort.

Thus, I’m extending “Metamorphosis” into October, and writing one retrospective for September/October 2019 at the end of the month. This was my first time trying out a monthly series; if I end up falling into the pattern of extending them all the time, I’ll make them bi-monthly. I’ll also do my best to have a concrete takeaway from each essay rather than just a narrative story — I did learn a lot from having my worldview torn apart, and I hope to share all of my outcomes with you. ♚


[1] When it comes to this, I’m a hypocrite — a hungry, hungry hypocrite.

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