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30 is the new 25: my third-life crisis

I might be exaggerating, but the last few days I’ve really felt exactly how I felt about five years ago. So aptly named, the “quarter-life crisis” is something that us milennials know a thing or two about. I thought that it was behind me, but here I am feeling it all over again. How come no one tells you that this never stops happening? Maybe it does, but we just get numb to the feeling of it. Wish I could say I was.

I’m about to turn 30 next week and I sure as hell don’t feel like it. Have you ever had to answer that ice-breaker question – “if you could be any age, what age would you choose to be?” I have always answered 32. In my mind, this was the age, that magical age where things felt just right. You know what works but there is still so much life ahead of you that you are still driven and excited. I’m getting closer and closer to my “ideal age” and getting scared that I just won’t feel that ideal.

In the last five years, I’ve tried so many things and traveled down a lot of little winding paths. I learned so much about my boundaries and my priorities – I do feel like I’ve grown up and yet still, I feel very insecure about my future. I’m just not sure where to go next because I am so deeply aware of the potential I’ve yet to realize. Sometimes it can be paralyzing; knowing that you can be so much more and it’s right there for you to grab it if you’re brave enough. If you’re focused enough.

There’s no answer and I know that. I just have to work through it, continue living in the moment, and my life will go where it’s supposed to go.

[ photos courtesy of Lindsey LaRue Photography and Beautiful Wild Design ]

the last season of girls is everything

Hey. I’ve been a bit quiet lately and not for lack of having things on my mind, actually quite the opposite. I haven’t been able to sort through all the feelings I’m having lately into a nice and tidy blog post. But thankfully Lena Dunham has done the extraordinary task of creating a season – really, the whole series – that mirrors the evolution of a 20-something creative girl trying to become the woman she always imagined herself being. And all the shit that happens because of how you’re trying to get there.

The post I’ve wanted to write has to do with growing up and redefining your perspective on your relationships with your family, friends, and coworkers. I’ve been overwhelmed thinking about discussing the complexity of it and then watching the penultimate episode of Girls last night made me feel ALL the feels. Still, I rewatched it tonight and I cried even harder than the first time I saw it.

I know that I’m not the only one who feels this deeply connected to this narrative. Maybe I’m one of only a few who will admit it straight up because a lot of people my age hate the idea of Girls being a true reflection of a female millennial perspective. But in doing so, they really are kind of playing right into it. 

what art has done for me

Art has helped me figure out who I am.

Is there something you’ve loved your entire life? That sounds like a big question because it is. Human nature and survival instinct demands that our personality and sense of self evolves with the world around us. However out of all the phases I’ve gone through, one thing I know that has always been true about me is that I love art. I love recreating, creating, and everything around and in-between. In elementary school, that looked like drawing an underwater landscape that got proudly displayed in the hallways. In adulthood it looks like… well, this. Out of all the words people have used to describe me, the only one that has always felt right has been “artist”. My relationship to this identifier continues to grow stronger with every stage in my life and it’s where I go when I lose my sense of self in other pursuits whether academic or professional. I come back to this word because I know it and I live it. I know who I am as an artist and it is exactly who I am as a person – complex, emotional, meticulous, compassionate, beautiful, and always yearning for connection.

Art has given me the tools to manage my emotions and learn how to communicate.

Maybe all of us go through this, but I think when I was younger I was often overwhelmed by my emotions. I don’t think it’s in the parent handbook to teach your child how to manage anger, sadness, grief, or envy. And when you’re a naturally shy and introverted child, these emotions can really wreak some havoc on your heart especially when you hit puberty. When I read my old livejournal blog posts, they’re like… insanely depressing. Like ridiculously melodramatic. But that was my reality! That’s really how I felt in that moment back in the day. This is when I truly found sanctuary and solace in art. My art teachers were sort of like second mothers to me, teaching me how to express myself effectively and manifest my energy into something worth sharing. 

current beauty routine

Once upon a time, my mom bought me an Urban Decay makeup palette for Christmas. Lil old me had no idea how to make a good eye look out of it so I did what any normal person does, I looked up a tutorial on YouTube. I found one YouTuber who I thought was so beautiful yet down to earth – she reminded me of one of my college BFFs. One video led to another and the rest is history. Here I am over a year later and I am addicted to watching YouTube makeup gurus every night before I go to bed. Part of it is to learn more about beauty and skincare and the other part is that its become ritual. It may sound lame, but it starts to feel like these personalities are like your friends.

Some of the products I list here are from YouTube recommendations, others were random finds, and some were recommendations from real live friends. I have no idea if you’re interested in my beauty routine at all, but I’ve found some really good keepers so I thought I would share just in case! This is not my entire makeup collection – just my absolute staples for the last month or so. Without further ado…

christinas-beauty-routine-3a

Starting with skin; I feel like I’m so dumb when it comes to skincare. I’m rapidly approaching 30 this year and I’ve yet to figure out the best things for my skin. Since I have a short makeup attention span, it’s been hard for me to stay with something long enough to love it. The products above though? They’ve been working for me for the last month or so and I think I’m in love. Everything feels great on my skin – light scents, refreshing textures, and really easy to incorporate into my bedtime routine. Of all the things, the Origins GinZing moisturizer is probably my favorite. It smells like a tall glass of OJ for my face! Oh and here’s what I look like without anything but moisturizer on:

christinas-beauty-routine-1achristinas-beauty-routine-5a

Yup, that’s me. My biggest qualms with my face are texture and tone. I’ve been trying out lots of foundations and concealers this year (high end and drugstore) and the combo pictured above is the best of the best right now. The other foundations I used this year were: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Foundation, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation, Maybelline FitMe Liquid Foundation, and Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. Surprisingly enough, this L’Oreal Infalliable Pro Glow is pretty much the best of all worlds. It gives me good coverage (not too much but not too little) and leaves me looking dewy, like myself. Paired with the Hourglass primer and the Maybelline FitMe Concealer… match made in heaven. At least for now. 

5 thing i’ve learned from doing festivals

Now that I’ve completed my two craft festivals for the season (that’s the max I can handle right now), I wanted to put together a short list of the big takeaways I have from doing craft festivals. Take these with a grain of salt, because everyone has a different experience and I’ve really only done a few. Things may be totally different in different cities or with different organizers, I’m not sure.

photo via Capture Life Through the Lens by JONATHAN PHILLIPS

The very few I’ve done are Indie Craft Experience (Holiday 2015 and 2016), Root City Market (Holiday 2015), and American Field (Atlanta 2016). I mainly sell art prints of my own artwork so that may also affect my experience as a vendor. But I feel somewhat confident that if you are at all interested in doing shows like this, these things will be useful for you to know before going in. 

defying job titles

I sat down this morning knowing that I wanted to write a blog post, but I wasn’t quite sure what the topic would be. I think that pretty much sums up my entire life – that I’m never really functioning under a single purpose, but rather, many at any given time. This time last year I was excited by the thought that I could use holiday markets as a way to figure out my ultimate goal, figure out how I was going to make my design creations an independent business. In my head I was thinking that I would finally receive THE answer – and that the year following would be THE year it all happens.

This holiday season, I feel very differently. I’m not quite sure when my perspective shifted or what caused it, but I think I’m starting to realize that putting all my eggs into one basket is never going to be the end goal for me. Sure, if I ended up just designing products and painting all day every day, I would definitely be a happy camper. But this is the year that I’ve begun to realize what I would lose if I made that become my whole world. 

my routine breakdown

Hi. Have you met me? If you have, then you know that I go through a mental/creative breakdown about once a quarter… lbh, maybe more like once every two months. I’ve gone through it so many times that I know it’s all part of the process, but it still doesn’t make it hurt any less. It still burns my eyes and my heart gets real heavy, wondering “what is the true purpose of it all”?

The questions I have are questions I’m sure every creative has. Does it matter? Am I just part of a makers-gonna-make fad? Why am I doing this? I’m young and free so maybe I need to spend my time living life and being outdoors instead of twiddling around on the computer color correcting a piece for the tenth time. How long does it take before I feel like what I do is actually inspiring change or making any real impact in the world? 

friendship

Friendship. It’s a tricky thing, ain’t it? I thought it was tricky in high school, but it continues to grow more elusive with every passing stage of life. I’ve come to a point in my life where a true friend is quite a rare find. And still even so, those true friends you do manage to keep end up being compartmentalized. That’s where I find myself, at least. I’m not sure if everyone else does the same or if it’s just the circumstances in which I’ve found myself (please do tell).

My college friends and I scattered after we graduated. Some stayed in my home state of FL – although all over up and down the state – and others went to opposite ends of the country. I slowly acquired new friends in Atlanta through work, craft, networking, and the like. You know, the adult ways. Yet still I’m quickly approaching the ripe age of 29 and often feel very lonely.

it’s written in the stars

It’s been much too long since I last wrote. Much much much too long. But these things happen and all I can do is just forgive myself and move forward. The main reason I haven’t written is because I haven’t gotten the chance to really discover things the way I usually do. As I get older, that play time shrinks more and more. I feel guilty for blaming my age, especially when I’m not a mother yet, but it’s true. You get older and you just feel… tired. Tired of playing the game, looking for the next thing, and living on the edge. It becomes more appealing to sit back and enjoy what you got. There’s merit to both really.

While I do want to be a little bit more careful in how I spend my days, I don’t want to lose my sense of curiosity and urban exploration. It’s part of what really keeps me feeling alive and relevant. I haven’t met any new friends in a long time and I think that’s one of my priorities now – ensuring that I’m strengthening the little connections I have to people. And this blog is undeniably a part of that.

As per usual, this blog post doesn’t really have much of a point except to raise my hand and say I’m still here. I promise, I’m still here. Obviously, you can catch my instagram to see more frequent updates, but I do fully intend for the next few months to have more photographs and artwork and updates and all the good things coming to this page again. Until I can gather up some more content, I’ll just look to inspiration.

First inspiration, a new playlist to take me through summer. These songs take me everywhere from studio, to driving with the windows down, to hyping me up for work, to pining for the good ole days.

Second inspiration, a sneak peek at a piece I did randomly at the beginning of the year and has been sitting in a pile of pieces. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to turn these into prints but this is yet another priority on my list.

finally some new paintbrush to paper… sometimes practice becomes a new piece!

A post shared by Christina Kwan / Tide & Bloom (@tideandbloom) on

 

Hopefully more to come very soon!

 

tell me the point

“the trouble with everything always is nothing’s just right,
just to figure out nothing could keep you up half the night
not to know what you want is a terrible thing you should fight
you just suffer the face of the dark while you wait for the light”

I’ve been trying to dig up bravery to write something real for a couple weeks now. The problem is that I’m not quite sure how to put into words exactly what I’m feeling. I don’t know if there’s truly a point because I haven’t figured it all out yet. I guess maybe that is my point? …That I don’t know what the point of anything is right now.

Maybe part of growing up is accepting that your grand purpose in life isn’t so grand. And maybe not so purposeful either. I know I’m really like… ALWAYS spewing crap like this, but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this aimless. Over the past year I think I was pretty much always motivating myself – there were ideas, there was connection, there was hustle. It dissolved with the passing of the new year and I’ve yet to find it again. I mean, is that possible? Have I lost my hustle?