What does faith mean to you? Do you have a faith? (i.e. a religion, or something you believe in like karma)

To me, faith means keeping an open mind to anything in life that hasn’t been proven – from God, to ghosts, to unicorns. I don’t consider myself religious, but I identify as agnostic and am open to believing in anything that makes life easier or makes me a better person.

What does spirituality mean to you? How do you bring it into practice?

Personally, spirituality means keeping in touch with the non-material world, which is often tied to self-reflection and grounding. I try to practice this by meditating, but I usually fall asleep. Guided meditations work better (Jon Kabat-Zinn: 10/10 would recommend). Activities such as journaling, painting, or stretching also help calm my mind.

Two years ago from now where did you think you would be? How does that differ from where you are now?

I thought I’d be Editor-in-Chief at The Varsity, U of T’s student newspaper. It was the only goal I had when entering university, and my 18-year-old self would be disappointed to know that I never moved up from staff writer. However, I did manage a café, spend a year as a Commuter Don, and am now a paid blogger, so everything worked out wonderfully, albeit very differently than I’d imagined.

Where do you think you will be in another year?

Employed would be a good start.

Are you who you want to be? Who is that person?

Yes, most of the time. I’ve grown a lot in confidence. I’ve retained my jump-up-and-down passion for children’s literature and animated movies. My mental health and emotional stability could definitely use work though, and that is the goal for this school year.

What does your work mean to you? How have you grown/learned from it?

Literature and writing are how I navigate the world. I process difficult experiences and understand myself better through writing. By reading, I’ve made both real and fictional friends, all of who have supported me through hard times. In escaping into words, either my own or someone else’s, I can better understand reality when I return.

What has been the best learning experience for you?

Exploring new places, either when travelling or when moving. It’s profoundly eye-opening to venture beyond one city.

What are your expectations for yourself? Do you meet them?

Prior to this year, my expectations involved balancing an unrealistic load of commitments – straight As, exercise, several part-time jobs, freelance writing, and more. I did not succeed and suffered when trying. This year, while I still want to maintain strong academics and continue a few co-curricular activities, my main goal is to have fun and stress less.

How do you see yourself? How does this compare to how you would like to be seen?

I see myself as perpetually concerned and stressed, and many people have echoed those views of me. It’d be pretty sweet if I looked more put-together and happy. However, I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, and I like that honesty regardless of how vulnerable I may feel.

What do you consider your “flaws”? Why? How have they hindered you?

I’m really controlling and get very worked up when things don’t go according to plan. Being in control makes me feel secure, but life isn’t often neat. Consequently, I’m stressed pretty much all the time.

Do you think you’re someone others can/do look up to?

No one’s ever told me that I am, but I’d certainly hope so. I work with over a hundred kids a year so ideally they’re getting something out of it.

What are you passionate about?

Tea. Cats. Musicals. Harry Potter. Disney. I’m very enthusiastic and passionate about many things. It’s my biggest strength. As Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Life is more fun when you don’t do things halfway.

What about yourself/your life are you most proud of?

I haven’t even graduated yet, but I’m pretty proud of almost making it through university.

Do you have any regrets? What and why?

Only moments when I spend money unnecessarily, like when I got a $30 passport photo. Beyond those little losses, I don’t regret any difficult experiences, because that’s when the growing happens.

Do you think it is more important to try and make an impact in the world at large, or in your own world? Why?

World at large affects more people, and while it’s important to start with your own world, I won’t say no to having a larger impact.

What are some of your dreams? Are they things you work towards, or things that you hope for?

I would like to have a book (or a few) published. Though I have started writing many, I have never yet finished a manuscript. However, next year, I’m enrolled in a novel-writing seminar and aim to finish my first complete draft by April.

What “words of wisdom” do you live by? Why?

Dr. Seuss’s “remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act” always reminds me to listen to my needs.

Describe your relationship with yourself.

It’s the second-most difficult, turbulent, and adversarial relationship of my life, but I’m really proud of how far I’ve come and am happy with the state of things today. I can look forward to wearing a bikini. I can look in the mirror and think that I’m beautiful. This is revolutionary.

What do you think it means to love? Is this reflective of your experiences with your relationships (including with yourself) or based off an ideal you are working towards achieving?

Based on my experience, love is different in every type of relationship and for every person. For example, for me, loving a family member entails forgiveness, sacrifice, and resilience. Loving a romantic partner means offering mutual support, tackling difficulties as a team, and also having fun together. Loving a cat involves accepting that feelings will never be mutual. In every relationship, I think the most important part is how much you are growing from it.

What do you think it means to be kind to yourself? How does this compare to how we are kind to others?

In both cases, listening is key. Being kind to yourself means listening to your needs – sleeping when tired, eating when hungry, taking a break after a long day – and respecting your body’s wishes. Being kind to others involves trying to understand others’ circumstances and not making assumptions, because everyone is going through something different.

What do you want from your life?

I want to travel lots and be married with three kids, a dog, and two cats, earning my living by writing and helping young people through words and literature.

Describe your relationship with your art.

I love writing with all my heart. It’s how I understand the world, process my emotions, and relate to others. However, producing a finished piece rarely comes easily. Some days, I will write for hours and delete everything by the end. Often, I have to force myself to sit down and write so as to stay on schedule. It’s an occasionally frustrating process and promoting my work is always terrifying. I have to make a real effort to emotionally distance myself from my blog analytics. While there is definitely work involved, I love what I do. It’s incredibly rewarding.

What inspires you?

Genuinely kind and empathetic people.

How has your art brought about an understanding of yourself/your world?

As a kid, literature provided me with an escape from reality, so I could step away from our world and find comfort at Hogwarts (and Narnia, and Oz, etc. etc.) with kind and inspiring characters. As an adult, I’ve learned to come back from those journeys and take the lessons with me through life. Reading and writing, especially fiction, helps me to process difficult experiences and inspires me to be brave and strong like the characters I so admire.

What, for you, is the hardest emotion? Why?

Love, undoubtedly. Love is all-encompassing, so you have to sort through anger, jealousy, grief, and so much more at once.

What, for you, is the significance of creating?

Creating, especially writing, allows me to preserve memories and reach out to others. Making and appreciating art brings people together, fosters empathy and passion, and helps me understand the world.

If there was anything in your life you could re-do what would it be? Why?

The classics exam when I accidentally skipped a section.

What’s some advice you would give to your future self?

Listen to your needs. Balance. Never lose your passion.

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You can read Linh’s writing here on her blog and her other publications here