On Authenticity

We’re in an age that’s obsessed with being our most authentic selves.

Now that sentence is a whopper of a cliche. ‘Authenticity’ is a real selling-point; it’s on my resume (Not that I’ve ever actually got a job with my resume). Realtors are the best at it too. There’s an apartment block going up across the road from the op shop, and it promises “authentic living” to potential buyers. But what does that even mean? Aren’t we all authentically alive?

And at Woolies you can now buy an “authentic, ready-made pizza base”. I mean, that seems like a contradiction to me. I suppose though that it is the most authentic mass-produced pizza base I know of. What is an authentic pizza anyway? Is it one made using a special recipe? Or one made by an Italian? Or one made from scratch? There seem to be so many ways in which something can be ‘authentic’. There. More contradiction.

I’m doing a bachelor in ‘Historically Informed’ Performance, in which we attempt to play in ways which take into account how we suppose the pieces was intended to be played. If that makes any sense at all. In the 80s and 90s, when the ‘HIP’ movement was introduced into academia, musicologists debated what made music “truly authentic”. Currently academics seem to be at a consensus that: 1. We only know so much and there is only so much extant information to inform us; 2. No matter how hard we try, we still won’t be playing in the time, or in the place, or in the dress, or in the ‘good taste’ of whichever piece we’re playing – so in those ways (and of course in many more) we will never be ‘authentic’ (the literature since avoids the term completely). But before this consensus there was great dilemma. There were people who gave up their careers as professional musicians, because their music would never be the ‘authentic’ they wanted.

People are most worried that they come across on social media as their ‘true’ selves. I recently deleted fb so this blog is now my only platform around which I can be bothered by my level of authenticness. Which is a bit of a problem when I start thinking about it, because my blog posts are made with my knowledge that my friends and family basically don’t know about them.

Is this blog my most authentic manifestation, then? I feel like it isn’t because the people around me make me, so I am most ‘authentic’ around them. I’ve been writing about it a bit recently actually: we’re not really original or unique (which is completely okay, btw).

It seems to me that ‘authentic’ is the most inauthentic word I know.

Just life, you know · Ranting


My parents raised me believing smoking was a kind of sin. Well really it was part of a more general belief that deliberately befouling the body (ie God’s likeness) was sinful.

I feel like there’s enough judgement in the world, and I really don’t want to add to it with another sermon about smoking being selfish and sinful and demanding people quit and putting smokers down and on and on and on. Especially since I see the act of smoking cigarettes as a decision that an autonomous individual made. And I respect others’ autonomy, because I’d like more of my own.

So this is just more of my thoughts, which I guess is what my blog is anyway. And these thoughts are here because I don’t want to tell my friend that the fact that she needs to smoke makes me sad.

Everyone today knows that there is resounding evidence indicative of a direct correlation between smoking and decreased life expectancy. For my parents – for quite a few people – this is why smoking is bad: Why would you knowingly do something to shorten your life? They just don’t understand it.

But this is not something I question, because it is each individuals’ life, and their decision to make.

Everyone who smokes now, does it – not because it’s fashionable, as it was until my grandparents’ generation; but to self-harm. It might not be conscious self-harm, but everyone knows smoking is physically unhealthy, so they are choosing to harm themselves. And what makes me sad is that there are people who are hurting – people I love who are hurting – enough to seek the relief of it.

A boy I was close to for a while last year smoked at least a pack a day, and they used to make me sit upwind so the smoke wouldn’t catch me (self-harm is never r/Romantic btw). And it made me so sad to think of the pain they were in: That this boy I loved hurt enough inside for it to manifest in a form of self-harm so routine as smoking.

And what’s bad about it for me is that I couldn’t tell the boy, and I can’t tell my friend, and I can’t tell the people I love who smoke that it makes me sad. I can’t tell them, because I can’t bear the idea of them feeling guilty for the way they feel, just because it makes me sad that their pain demands to manifest in such a way.

So to smokers; to self-harmers; to everyone: Be gentle. Be kind. I love you.

Just life, you know

xiao gui

This is my blog name; now it’s a post name too! Just a funny short post though:

小鬼 means small ghost, or little devil, depending on the context. I think I use it because it reminds me of how I was, and makes me appreciate how I am now. Because for a while I related to it so much because I wanted to be small and I wanted to be a ghost: because I didn’t want to have an impact on the world, on the people around me; because I’d stopped living and I was only existing; because I was existing for others and because of them; because I felt like a little devil.

The meaning of the words depend on the context you place them in, yes? Eventually I learnt that how we manifest depends on the situations we chose to put ourselves in.

And now all of that is still very much part of me, but I’m okay now. More than okay! Because I have learnt to live gently (read: because I’ve had to make my own decisions, and because I’ve learnt to forgive myself). And now I’m pretty comfy with myself and with the understanding that I don’t have to be something super huge/original and my work doesn’t have to be groundbreaking so long as I’m happy.

This post is kind of all over the place and there are lots of thoughts I haven’t articulated particularly well which maybe should bother me because a blog is for consumption and there should be some kind of standard regulatory thingy. Most peoples’ blogs are on certain topics, like photography, or fashion, or climbing a mountain with a baby. And sure, that makes sense, but mine is a bit mad and if a blog is to represent Me then this is a pretty good one.

Just life, you know

stuff 2: room tour

Welcome to my room! I recently rearranged everything, so I’m pleased to show it off, and all my mates live woop woop away from me so I can’t show them! I’d had a much simpler, probably “minimal” looking layout before, and my room felt a lot bigger then, but I like how cosy it is now.

I’ve been really enjoying the colour palate that I’ve semi-intentionally incorporated: namely blue, yellow, pink, green, and a teeny bit of red. This is also translating to my wardrobe so I’m pretty pleased. Actually all the colours around me have made me really really genuinely happy, and idk why, but I’m not questioning it.

First off, behind the door I have the Frankie mag wall planner. The tall cabinet next to it is my haberdashery/cloth stash. The fabric is either quilting cotton from my Ah ma in Singapore, or remnants from the op shop and Reverse Garbage.

Next up we have my bed, which I’ve put under my window for the first time in the ten years I’ve lived here, and I really like it!

This wall is my blue wall, and it feels like a bit of a work in progress, but maybe I’ll leave it like this because I kinda like it simpler. Just some hooks from IKEA, another Frankie poster, and a print my uncle gave me last year.

My desk is on the wall next to the bed, and it’s the best thing ever. We got it off gumtree for an amount that made us think it was a lot smaller than it is, so imagine little seven-yo me in our new house with a double bed because my parents use my room as the guest room, and a giant desk. Anyway, it has a great slide out drawer with an extra top because I reaaally need that extra tabletop space. The white machine is my sewing machine, and the book wagon behind it has books for uni/academic interest (reminds me of Matilda’s book wagon!).

On the top of my desk I have my scrapbook stuff and journals, an NZ hokey pokey ice cream container, some dried Aussie flowers, and a very dark photo of the Coogee beach pool from the same uncle as above.

And here’s my little yellow wheelie bin, some stationery, and a terracotta tile of a medieval tooty-tooter saying “Let us make musick” that makes me giggle every time.

This one’s a bit dark, but here are some doilies my Ah ma crocheted before she got dementia!

Now my absolute favourite part: the plantshelf (with some books on it). My plants are either “ugly” or ‘weeds’. I got a snake plant and two spider plants from a really dodgy garage sale when the trio were just sprouts. I have a tiny bonsai fern that I planted in a big pot and it grew crazy fast and now it’s the big one in the cream pot. The one in the blue pot is ‘elephant ears’, and it used to be soft and a bit fluffy but now it’s leathery. I have three ‘weeds’ that I saved from the garden. And there are three terrariums, and a ‘buddha’s fig’ that I think of as a mandrake because it looks like a little person.

The shelf is angled to catch the best sun. The mirror is behind it to reflect onto the backs of the plants, but it probably doesn’t do much. The shelf is in front of one door (and the light switch eek) to my closet though, so I don’t know how long the layout will last like this.

But there you have it! Part two of my collection of things.



My Creative Writings always lost marks for not staying in the same tense. I mean, okay. Whatever.

But also, if it’s coherent, then why does something like that matter? Maybe I care because I put effort into syntax and all that, and my writing is usually fairly deliberate.

But it’s such a bland way to look at time. I mean, sure, not everyone is a Whovian. But maybe it’s partly why history is taught so badly in Australian schools. Because that was all then, and we are now. See, I changed tense there, is that ‘allowed’? But was that even a tense change? It’s all intuitive, you know. Wait but that question definitely was. And that. See here we go.

And isn’t it stupid that that’s now the thing I am most tense about when I write?

Just life, you know

Existing Gently

I know, I know. It’s so much easier to be hard on yourself, right? To grind yourself right down until you surface as some kind of rusting deep-sea vessel with only enough power to keep the cooling fans circling. But don’t. And I know that’s easy to say: but don’t, because you are so, so precious. And the world wants you here, and that’s not to say that it expects you, because you are precious; so nothing really should be expected of you.

Of course your goal is important; look how hard you work for it. But your health is always your priority, yes? Nothing – no one – comes before your health. And no, that isn’t selfish (and if it is then that’s okay). I know; I know your goal is important. But you are important.

I mean, of course there are bigger things in the world and out of it than you, but why should that make you any less significant? I mean, cut flowers and stars are precious because they cannot last.

Be gentle, friend, because the world loves you. And don’t tell me it doesn’t, because the world is unfathomably big, and I love you, and you should never underestimate love. And don’t say you don’t deserve it, because life isn’t about deserving things.

Don’t be mad at yourself. Mistakes are a sign that you are learning, and that you care. And caring is life itself, you know. But do give yourself time and space to grieve, when you want to, and not just when you need to. You realise how healthy crying is, yes? Crying is just like laughing. Let it be like that. Or if you don’t cry then that’s okay too. Just be gentle.

It’s also okay, too, if sometimes you need to be that kind of small quiet. But no part of you is ever a waste of space. Remember, life is not about worth. It’s okay if you have thoughts, or urges. Don’t be upset with yourself. You work so hard; you care so much; you are so loved: you are so important. Forgive yourself, maybe even laugh a little at your funny brain; your silly chemicals: it’ll be okay.

So exist gently:

Live gently. Be gentle to others; always, always.  You don’t know how others live, but you know how you do. They’re doing their best, whatever their best is then and there. And so are you! Be gentle to them, to yourself.

I know it’s so, so awfully hard.

I love you!