And Your Happiness

“How I envy you—” five languid hours today.

Eric ZhangApril 10, 2023

8 AM. I woke up on time, set another alarm, and immediately went back to sleep. I’ve got setting alarms down to a science; it’s so easy to fall asleep again. Almost like the phone alarm is part of my cyclical function. That’s really scary.

I’m really tired this morning and emotionally drained, but my photo classmate smiled and held the door open for me as soon as I bumped into him, and it made me so happy.

Tired, finished with my class. I think Sammy holding the door for me was really nice, then Amelia chatting with me made my day a lot better. But I’m still confused and perplexed. Not sure what I will do for my project.

Dawn suggested portraits, look at the work of Judith Joy Ross. Ask strangers for permission because I’m doing “an assignment” or use some other excuse. There’s a lot of reasons to delay and see people’s expressions, tell them to relax. I nod and sit at my desk, printing photos absentmindedly, looking around and writing. I don’t like the photos that I’ve made today. It’s time to leave.

What is my vision? What bigger issues and statements do I want to address? … but I’m starting to doubt if taking riveting art photos will even make me happy. Empty photos that just “look nice” might connect me better to most ordinary people. Why should I aspire to an arbitrary higher goal that others don’t understand? Do I not have enough emotional strength & personal support to dedicate time to something meaningful?

Art. Ideas. Influence. Popularity. Instagram. Tiktok. Respect from others, social justification. Influence. Success. Money. Status. Power.

Sat at a table next to dozens of strangers and ate, by myself.

Hm, I’m tired, just sat in Lowell for an hour and thought about myself. I’m emotionally not in a great place. I feel that people don’t want to talk to me. Actually, I kind of feel like people have never enjoyed my company?

Social media, Twitter is good for professional things, announcements? But it’s kind of useless for connection.

I want friends who I love and can believe in, people to connect with, who want to come see me or hang out.

We have less friends than it appears. Someone talked about how it’s crazy that in their Indian-American community, fair-skinned dancers are disproportionately featured. “That’s messed up.” But discrimination based on physical traits out of people’s control is pretty universal, even here. I went to an Asian-American student theater production yesterday where all of the actors were attractive and popular, despite nominally discussing issues of race and identity and security. Isn’t it always like this; beauty standards are everywhere? People want to see nice things, pretty things, and to see themselves in others under the blinding light of success.

Lately I’ve been getting recommended low-budget pop violin music videos on YouTube. They’re heavily edited and sound worse than a shitty MIDI file, but they have millions of views. “Beautiful music,” a comment reads. Who am I to criticize something that brings people joy? Anything can be captivating if it’s attached to wealth, or an attractive face.

Commanding respect. I don’t think other people see themselves in me. I’m too different; the urge is to denigrate and push out, rather than to connect and empathize.

When’s the last time someone helped you? What made you worth helping?

Eric tries to be unconditionally kind to others; he listens to them and genuinely loves hearing their stories. But Eric will never be someone that they enjoy talking to. Eric can offer advice on projects, higher goals, emotions, and beliefs. But Eric can’t offer the most handsome face to smile at you, the cutest banter that tickles your heart, the most powerful career connections. All he can do is love you and your work.

How I envy you and your happiness.