A Candid Effort to Help

Very few people know about my struggle with depression.  I don’t talk about it a lot, but it’s not because I’m ashamed or because I’m trying to hide it.  Publicly, I prefer to be a positive figure, so when negativity or pain is involved, I often seek solace privately with people who are aware of what I go through.  And honestly, sometimes I don’t even go to them.  But I know that I should.

I was particularly affected by the death of Robin Williams last week because I know so much about how he felt, and it took a deep toll in me.  While I have been fortunate enough to be able to climb out of darkness several times, and have never reached the level of despair that he did, I still get it.  I get what it feels like to think there’s no way out, and to dread waking up another day feeling like a chokehold of unfathomable pain will never release its grip on you.  It is an impossible battle to fully explain because the feelings don’t make sense to us who go through it any more than it ever will to the people who don’t.

Let me tell you about how easy it is for depression to take over my entire state of being.  It often happens like this: Yesterday I was happy.  I was happy the day before that and as a generalization, the entire year before yesterday.  But today, in this day where I am aware of the incredible things going on in my life, aligned with the amazing people I’m lucky to know, I can’t get out of bed.  It takes everything in me to put my feet on the floor and I don’t even get that far when it’s really bad.  I am sad.  I feel hurt.  I feel alone.  None of these feelings even come with reasons I can list.  Because I don’t know why they’re here.  I have no idea why I am plagued by feelings I cannot explain nor can I alleviate with the strongest efforts of self-loving and logic I have in me.

My Type A personality that is used to having a firm grip on my life and feelings is well aware of “all the reasons I have to be happy.”  Losing control is one of my biggest fears, so when I find myself unable to control my emotions, I am equally as scared as I am sad.  In these dark moments I am terrified.  The “logic” that I have so much to live for only transforms the sadness, fear, and hurt to dangerous levels of guilt and self-loathing.  This faux logic implies that I am not grateful for my life and all I am blessed with.  In actuality, I am the first one to know and list the things I have to appreciate.  You don’t have to tell me and you certainly couldn’t tell me in a better way than I could myself.  My happy days don’t give me immunity from depression, nor does my very abundant life.  Beauty, money, fame, and even hordes of admirers don’t keep anyone safe from this mental illness.  It can affect anyone, and when it does, we need help.

Depression is often stronger than you or I can be for me.  It is a sickness that only has medicinal balancers but no real cure.  A list of all the reasons I shouldn’t be depressed won’t help.  Empathy may not be a possibility from you but compassion is.  And that does help.  Knowing that even though you don’t understand what I’m going through but that you’re willing to hold my hand through it helps.  Knowing that I’m not alone with my demons helps.  Judging them doesn’t.  Trying to understand doesn’t help.  Offering love does.

It is, of course, not even remotely easy to discuss this publicly.  But as I reflect on how I felt when hearing about Robin Williams and the battle he ultimately lost, I cannot in good conscience remain silent.  I write and share this so that maybe, just maybe, if someone I know is going through similar things, they will reach out to me, and honor me with the possibility of helping them through it.  Or at least allowing me the chance to let them know they’re not alone.  Because you aren’t.  If there is anything I’m sure of, it’s that I and others have infinite amounts of love to offer to anyone who needs it.  And if you need it, all you have to do is ask.

Please, please don’t be afraid to ask for help.  There is absolutely no shame in it.  I don’t know anyone who has never needed help in the smallest and largest of spectrums.  People will be there to be your light.  People will be there to give you strength.  People will do this without needing to understand anything other than the fact that we all need to feel loved, and we all need to feel safe.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you won’t even have to ask and you’ll still find the support.  But if you ask, I can promise you that’s all you’ll have to gather the strength for because people who love you will carry you for as long as you will let them, and until you can carry yourself again.  So please do it.  If you prefer to be anonymous in asking for help, there are other outlets… I urge you, especially in crisis, to contact the Depression and Bipolar Alliance.

Live in love and live in light.  But if ever you think you’ve found only darkness, let others hold your hand and lead you to it.



Phu v. 3.0

I’m 30 today.

While I admit to some mini-meltdowns about aging, as I write this, I am eerily calm.  After all, I spent all of year 29 finding my place in the world.  A lot of my friends have said life only gets better after 30 and I have to believe them because so far the closing of my 20s and the awful decisions I made throughout them seem so far into the past that I’m okay bidding them adieu.  I’ve never felt more sure of where I belong and what my life’s mission is.

One of the smartest things I’ve ever done is not to expect to be somewhere in life before I’m actually there.  I’ve never set a deadline for my career, marriage, or for having children (if I ever do at all).  While some would argue that not doing so is like not having goals, I would rebut that this has allowed me a level of contentment about my life that I may not otherwise have.  I don’t feel like I didn’t accomplish enough, and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.  This allows me many things to look forward to while knowing it’ll all come if and when they’re supposed to.

In the last 365 days, I’ve never been better.  And people have noticed.  I am constantly being told how  happy I seem these days, and the simple explanation as to why is that I genuinely am.  I have never been more sincerely happy and I have also never been in a better position to control my emotions when I am not.  I have let go of things I can’t control, asserted myself among what I can, and ultimately, gave a big “Fuck you” to anyone hindering my growth and/or well-being.

I met a wonderful woman this week who has been married for 58 years and her advice to me in life and love was, “Make the most of the good things and the least of the bad things.”  This is now my plan for 30 and beyond.  Cheers.

I was young once.  This is what it looked like.

I was young once. This is what it looked like.


There have been times I’ve had everything tangible I could ever want and still felt like I had nothing. And then there were times I had nothing tangible I wanted and yet felt like I had everything. Today I’m thankful for the people in my life who make me want for nothing. You are everything that matters. Happy Thanksgiving!


To think that family is merely defined by blood is naive. Family is anyone who’ll be your safety during weakness, who’ll accept your flaws, who’ll celebrate your greatest moments, and who’ll heal you through your lowest. Family, simply put, is defined by love.

-Miss N.

Mad at Gen Y? Ask Yourself Why.

Below is a blog post entitled, “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy.”

Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy

This is not the first one I’ve read like it. And now I’m chiming in.

I’m a child of Gen Y, raised by Baby Boomers. I’ve ALWAYS been taught that hard work was how you got ANYTHING done, and specifically, that a higher education was the key to ALL success. But entitlement, excess praise, or even a COMPLIMENT was something rarely achieved for me if at all and if it was, it certainly wasn’t unearned. I recognize that having Vietnamese Catholic parents changes the equation for me a bit, but I can tell you that I was never taught that I could “be anything I wanted to be.” And anything I did say I wanted to be was met with the reply that I wouldn’t be shit if I wasn’t capable of backing anything I want up with real effort and work. Moreover, most of the things I learned about hard work came from watching my parents rather than them actually telling me anything at all.

Here’s the disconnect when you call us the whiny, entitled generation. The difference between the Golden Generation instilling to the Baby Boomers that hard work meant a good life is that when they in turn fed the same line to Gen Y, hard work no longer was a direct parallel to success. When the Boomers worked hard and took home their middle to upper middle class wages, they made enough to raise at least 2 children (including putting them through college) and buy a home. Meanwhile they told Gen Y that we are supposed to go to college and that the reason we do is to secure our future prosperity. And once Gen Y started graduating and trickling into the workforce… we were left with the remnants of what was once a booming economy. We are chided for not wanting to flip burgers when we were raised being told that going to college was how we avoided doing exactly that. So no, maybe we aren’t thankful for just any job, because why would we be when college was supposed to be the reason we got to pursue a passion over a paycheck? Or even, the reason we’d get to have passion with a paycheck.

genyAn article written over a year ago reported that in the last 30 years, the rate for a college degree increased by 1,120%. That rate will only get higher with time. Gen Y was dumped out of college with mountains of student debt and a job market that was so volatile that the only chance at chiseling away that debt for many of us was to live with our parents and pay it down before we even got a chance to start a real life of our own. (I never had to do this, but I’m not unaware of this as a reality for numerous people.) And in some cases, when we recognized what the job market looks like and how feeble it seemed to work for someone who will have complete control over our job security, we started our own businesses. In doing so, we were chided (like in the blog below) and called “yuppies.”

Yes, we expected a lot because we were told to. But when we found out expectation paired with effort wasn’t the end all, we added new needs to the equation of success. These needs became creativity, the ability to see beyond expectation and hard work, and the need to change the landscape of what we want success to be. We also had to change the route to success because unlike for the Baby Boomers, it is now no longer a straight line. The reality for us is that the palate of colors we were handed was blurred. So we created new ones. And I don’t think we owe anyone apologies for doing so. We innovate because we had to. We love new things because we have become the generation of recreation.37302.strip

In ruthless defense of my generation, I’d like to say: eat shit. Eat your own shit that you left for us. We have arguably been the most versatile of all generations. We have proven to be one of the most tenacious. We are the ones who worked hard because we were told that it led to good fortune and prosperity. When we realized that what we were told wasn’t so black and white we found different ways to get to it. Throughout the entirety of the process, we fought wars waged by other generations and we did it willingly. After all, Gen Y has never had a mandated military draft. We have trudged through the feces of economic downfall, a recession that became devastatingly close to mimicking The Great Depression, and environmental, manmade, and social catastrophes that we scientifically could not have been responsible for. We’ve rolled with many punches, refusing a TKO of our generation and ourselves. And we did all of this with people calling us whiny, entitled, and enabled. Yet, despite it all, we strive to be better and we strive to set up a system that cares for the generations before and after us.

Let’s also not forget that these are generalizations. The Baby Boomers have shitty people and good people, and Gen Y is the same. But I believe that Gen Y has done its best and done WELL in light of the hand we were dealt. And that if you keep chastising us, it will only make us work harder to show you and the history books that we persevered through more than you may ever give us credit for. But you should start to. Because we’ve earned it, and we’re still doing so.

The iPhone 5C Shouldn’t Be

IMG_7546I’m a HUGE Apple fan.  I have boxes of Apple products to prove it.  So it was with great anticipation that I watched the unveiling of their new iPhones this week, and while I am beyond thrilled and excited to get my hands on an iPhone 5S (in GOLD), I was hugely disappointed by their decision to also release an iPhone 5C.  Here’s why:

Apple has always been a status symbol.  Throughout most of their existence, they have priced their products higher than the industry standard and done so unapologetically.  In doing so, they essentially became their own industry because no one was actually competing with them, but rather, under them.  There was even a Windows commercial campaign sarcastically stating that some students “aren’t cool enough to afford a Mac.”  (I tried to find the video but didn’t do a good job.)  I thought this to be a GOOD thing for Apple.  This meant that loyal customers would buy their products no matter what the cost, and they’d wait in lines to do so.  This kind of standard made Apple the Victoria’s Secret of tech products.  Not everyone can afford it, but everyone wants to.

razr_phoneBy adding the 5C to their repertory, Apple removes the one thing that kept the iPhone from becoming the Motorola Razr.  Almost 10 years ago, when I worked in wireless and the Razr first launched, it retailed at $799.99 without a contract and $499.99 with a 2-year contract.  I saw only people holding AMEX Black Cards coming through to buy them.  It was an “untouchable” for your average consumer.  3-5 years later, the Razr was made in mass quantities, with cheaper plastic and in a multitude of colors.  It became the “giveaway” phone you got with a new activation.  If you ask me, Motorola blew it by letting that happen.  They had a standard, and they sold out by saturating the market until their product became a scoff and eventually, obsolete. Unknown

Apple offering an iPhone at a lower price point to make it more attainable for everyone (but more specifically to China) makes it an “everyone” phone – something it wasn’t supposed to be and from a smart marketing standpoint, shouldn’t ever be.  This move is just short of one that would parallel them with companies like WalMart.  WalMart’s motivation is to corner and own the market.   Steve Jobs once said, “Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being WalMart. We make it by innovation.”  So DON’T BE WALMART, guys!  Apple had built their own untouchable market prior to this.  Launching the 5C gives them the boot from the “gold” standard status and they’re now in competition with every other phone company that makes phones.  It’s not a “lifestyle” anymore the way Jobs used to sell it.  It’s now a product, like any other product up for grabs.

In fairness, I don’t think the company decided to do this as a result of the post-Steve Jobs era.  This seems to be a decision that would take years before implementation and I give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t wait until he died to make a decision that would desecrate his memory.  I would guess that this kind of move was in talks before his death and now finally being put into play.  Either way, I still feel the same about it.  I would be equally disappointed in this move if the great Jobs was still living.

I also recognize that writing this can make me sound haughty.  The thing is… I write it not as a snobby consumer, but as someone in marketing who would never make this kind of decision for a brand already in its own league.  It wasn’t supposed to join the league.  It was supposed to be where the league aspired be.quote-Steve-Jobs-but-apple-really-beats-to-a-different-101181_4

Why Social Media is Perfect for Me (And Why I Haven’t Written)

I started a company in May of this year.  Not coincidentally, that’s around the last time I wrote on here as well.  The company I started is Miss N Media, LLC, and my industry is social media management and web marketing.  Although the endeavor itself took me by surprise, the field I chose isn’t.  Because it’s perfect for me.


For as long as I can remember, I have loved technology.  When I was 7, in lieu of Barbies I asked myparents for Smart Start Speller, which was this mini computer thingy that basically just quizzed me in spelling all day.  This establishes two things: I was always a nerd, and I loved computers before they became a standard in every home.

When I was in high school, cell phones for teens were not as common as they are now.  But I had the latest Nokia phone with EVERY changeable faceplate color you could think of, and I was texting when it was so uncommon that it was a completely FREE feature with Voicestream (now T-Mobile).  My family also once caught me dragging our computer to the phone connection so that I could connect to AOL and use the chatrooms.  I was grounded for it, and it was totally worth it.  For me, the latest has always been the greatest.

I have also always been very social.  While I’m perfectly fine with alone time and personal space, I thrive in social situations.  I love meeting people and looking for common ground with anyone I come across.  Or I hope to learn from people I don’t have anything in common with.  I like to think of myself as a social chameleon, capable of adapting to any group of people I’m thrown into.  This is a trait one should never take for granted, because it cannot be taught in classrooms.

Add to the love of technology and social personality, I am a writer.  Starting at the age of about 25, I became a writer with (undiagnosed) ADD.  Social media allows me to write every day and to write about such a plethora of different subjects that switching gears quickly in my mind is considered a perk rather than a fault.  My current clientele challenges me to form different “voices” every time I write copy because none of them are in the same industry.  Through them I learn new fields and new ways of connecting with demographics I may not have come across on my own accord.

Finally, I have been entrepreneurial for as long as I can remember.  As a kid, I started several new “companies” that included but aren’t limited to: selling bookmarks, opening a “thrift” store (selling old shit I found), a promotions company, a talent agency, and even a matchmaking service.  I probably wasn’t ever meant to work for someone.  My history has made that pretty clear, too.

Thanks to all these factors, running a social media company allows me to be the perfect hybrid of the entrepreneur, tech, social, and writing geek I was always meant to be.  It also allows me to be the control-freak and boss I was always meant to be, but I like to think of that as merely icing on the cake.  (And I LOVE cake.)

Social media is old or new to you depending on the circles in which you socialize, but one thing’s for certain: it’s here to stay.  And so am I.

-Miss N.

***For anyone who’s wondering… I will still become a teacher, eventually.  Currently, I am grateful to be able to say that my company is doing well enough that I want to maintain focus on growing it.  Once I am able to relinquish enough control (and earn enough money) to allow others to run it on my behalf, I will move on to be the educator I’m destined to be.  The goal was never forgotten, just postponed.