Project I: I am the homeland of myself

This is my journey of design,

my expedition of mentality,

and my map of life

My Struggling 20s

Starting the year I was at the age of 24, I have experienced a continuous inclining of my life. I was telling myself: everyone feels struggling in their 20s. But apparently, I got no way out from that. 

The “unlucky” life began with an internship I did for a Chinese artist, who was going to have his first solo exhibition at New York in 2017. I was doing videography and editing of the video depicted him holding two grass walking through Manhattan. This artist was a very aggressive and irritable person. During the months of working for him, I suffered both physically and mentally from the heavy workload and his bad temper and egotistical personality.

However, introverted people always tend to frustrate themselves. When the artist made many unreasonable demands on me, I would not defend myself, instead, I blamed myself for not fulfilling the task very well. I was so desperate at that time, but I still loved the job working in that gallery. New York, a place I once yearned for so much, brought me excitement, hope, but also alienation and chaos.

In 2018, I went back to Beijing (because I failed in finding myself in New York) and decided to transfer my major from arts administration to design. I tried different kinds of jobs in design for building a practical environment for my design studying. 

I ended up working as a visual designer in a Chinese designer’s bag and accessory brand names Rfactory for two years before I came to Mdes program. I think Rfactory is managed by curatorial concept and design thinking. It is more than a studio for designing bags and accessory products, but is also a space for producing arts, exhibitions and lifestyle. This was still a work experience that I cherish very much, and it helped me gradually form my design style and concept.

Curating Mental Health

I became interested in designing for people’s mental health when during that period. At that time I always fell myself into the anxious situation of “Upward comparison”, which was always feeling concerned and depressed because I doubted about my ability and thought other designers’ works were much better than mine. Therefore, in that year I started to make some small design based on cognitive behavior theory in order to relieve people’s negative moods because of upward comparison. 

In September 2020, I went to an exhibition in Shanghai called More, more, more, And I first time gained some powerful energy on the psychological aspect from a video installation. The artist made a sample meditation room and screened a TED talk called Depression, the secret we share. As an exhibition enthusiast, I realized curating and exhibition design could also be a practice to help build and influence people’s mental health. 

Turning Point

Until the beginning of this year, something happened in my life that almost tore me up. I wanted to quit studying and move to a new city and start a new life. 

And it was also that time I met a therapist who made me survive myself and change the arc of my life. She is a powerful woman. And she helped pull me out from the dead pool I used to be in and taught me how to love myself, which nobody (including my parents) told me before.

So I am now very concerned about people’s mental health conditions and hope to help others in my own way. And there was a saying from my therapist that impressed me the most, which was “Psychological counseling is to use one person’s personality to influence another person’s personality”, so is design, I think. I know that I may not be strong enough to help others, because I am still helping myself. But this is a good start, and I believe in the power of my personality.

I’m the Homeland of Myself

My research is the exploration of myself, going into myself, and finding me the right place in the world. There is no “lucky” or “unlucky” life, because I am the only person who can control my life. And there is no matter where I live, because I am the homeland of myself. I am grateful for every experience I have, and I am more grateful to myself for not giving up.

I want to live a good life; I want to engage every minute of my life; I want to explore every corner of the earth so I will not feel regret when I come to the last seconds of my life. 

I know this is difficult, but I am on the way. 

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