I turned 31 years old today and I am in pain.
Physically, I have cramps that have been twisting and turning my stomach into knots for the past few days. My period has been inconsistent lately, keeping my body in a state of confusion.
Emotionally and mentally, my anxiety continues to persist, sometimes paralyzing my body and preventing me from functioning much less working on anything creative. My depression often hovers nearby, waiting to see if this time will be the next time I allow it to consume me.
So much has happened since the release of my new web series, Gabby Antonio Smashes the Imperialist, White Supremacist, Capitalist Patriarchy! I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and share Gabby in different cities, getting to talk about race, social justice, and the trials and tribulation of nonprofit work. I feel blessed that I am in a position in which I can do that while still having a stable income due to my supportive job that allows me to have a life outside of work. But it is tiring to do two full-time jobs, plus other side hustles and trying to organize in the community.
Today is the first day in which I have actually stopped to reflect and rest and I am realizing just how much pain and exhaustion I’ve been experiencing. My high functioning anxiety paired with my complicated relationship with productivity being tied to my worth, is starting to take a toll on my health and it’s becoming harder to balance it all.
Don’t get me wrong though! Everything up until this point has been worth it – the stress, my thinning hair (yes, I was diagnosed recently with alopecia areata), the long days, working into the evenings and weekends, time spent away from my family and friends – these are the sacrifices I’ve made in order to build the foundation of my creative work.
This year alone I’ve been able to accomplish a handful of projects that I’m really proud of. I started the year with a little installation at the Portland Art Museum with the support of my friend and talented graphic designer, Shannon Paine.
Though I’ve been writing and publishing essays on my own platforms for several years now and as a brief staff writer for Persephone Magazine, I got my first paid writing gig with my essay titled, Returning to Tagalog, on the On She Goes blog, a travel website for women of color. It’s a topic that is near and dear to me, the embracing of my native language and how that translates to a dire need to preserve culture.
Along with the official release of Gabby Smashes, a project that took years in the making to get to this place, I’ve been able to travel to different cities for local screenings and film festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Corvallis, and later this month San Francisco and Detroit. And of course in my city, Portland, Oregon! It has been a whirlwind of a journey with Gabby and I feel so honored and blessed to be able to share the story and to be given the opportunity to talk about my journey in creating it.
As someone who firmly believes that I don’t need to be financially compensated to be validated of my worth, it is still rewarding to be compensated for my labor. Something that I am more honestly embracing and learning as I continue on this journey as a cultural worker, is about placing value on my labor, specifically the time, energy, and resources required to perform and work. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve started to take my art seriously and to even identify as an artist/cultural worker. Prior to that, making art was always a past time or on the back burner to the work I was doing as an artist advocate. Supporting other artists in their work and advocating for the fair compensation of their labor came easy for me – I am inherently an advocate and organizer, it’s what I know. But to advocate and support myself? That has been the most difficult task to date.
But on this day and as an ongoing commitment to myself in this 31st rotation around the sun, I am asserting myself and taking up space. Being assertive in standing up for my needs and ideas is something I tend to falter in, out of fear of being seen as difficult (in all of the gendered and sexist ways). But I am challenging myself to be more honest and vulnerable, and therefore sharing with you that your support means a great deal to me. So whether you can donate to my birthday fundraiser today or share the fundraiser, any help means a great deal to me!
I have a goal of raising $1000 today. This specifically will help cover:
– Film festival submissions
– Travel to and from local screenings and film festivals
– Labor of our writing team
Having funds to cover the labor of promoting this project and the writing process supports the ongoing needs of the expanding Gabby Smashes team. We’ve put in countless hours of work during this time in between production and often the labor of producing, marketing, promotions, traveling for speaking engagements and so on, can go unrecognized and is exhausting but absolutely worth it if we want to reach more audiences and supporters!
Thank you for witnessing and validating my work and this project. Again, any amount of contribution is helpful!