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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Pan

New Year, New Focus

2021 was a rollercoaster year. For me it went from being unemployed, partially employed to double employed. I was able to start my first year teaching at a middle school, work on personal projects, travel a little, learn a lot and most importantly learn to enjoy myself.

As I enjoyed my 2 week break from work and school this winter, I caught up on some missed deadlines and doing some much needed relaxing. I was able to complete my reading goal of 2021 (This is one of my proudest accomplishments of the year, reading for pleasure again.) and also finished one of the largest creative projects I've done thus far: one cartoon every day of the year 2021. That's right, 365 cartoons over 365 days.

At the beginning of the year I was posting these daily doodles on my instagram page. Doing this was suprisingly lucrative having people hire me for commissioned "doodles" based on this style of drawing that I had done in my journals for years but had never thought to share seriously. I shared my doodles daily, weekly, or monthly depending on how busy I had become. I did this up until Summer of 2021 when I then decided to step away from social media and my online presence completely.I had gotten to a headspace that I didn't like, seeing no value in myself, my life, my work, if "likes" were not attributed to it. Not just this year but even sooner I would do things less for my joy in doing them and more for what I hoped I could get out of it. I was constantly trying the next new thing that could maybe make me the big bucks: stickers, coloring pages, print on demand journals through Amazon, you name it! I was looking at people who had built succesful businesses out of their art and was envious of that. I realized that monetizing garbage I didn't like was not going to do anything for me and comparing myself to others instead of being inspired by others was also not going to help.

The final few months of the year was filled with a lot of questioning. For the first time since I joined Instagram in 2010 I was completely off of it, deleting my account entirely and had nowhere to share my life or reason to do anything unless it was specifically for myself. The monetization factor was gone. At the time, this felt incredibly lonely and confusing. But it forced me to look at my life and evaluate what I wanted to do for myself. No one else, not for likes, not monetized in anyway. In no way do I think I navigated this successfully. I don't want the message of this blog to be that now I'm such a transformed person. I don't think that's how it works. What I will say is that this time away from being bombarded with images of other people's lives and art, some I didn't even like or care about, forced me to focus on something I had been avoiding for a long time: myself. During my winter break I did a lot of reflection on this and spent a lot of time with myself. Not in a depressing way, but in a way that I want to do more in the future.

I went to bookshops and coffee shops alone with a book and pencil and paper. Something I used to do alot when I was younger but have grown out of doing especially, obviously, during COVID. I went to the movies alone, took Stevie to the beach and spent the night. I changed my unused spare bedroom into an art studio which has always been a mild fantasy of mine. I bought new art materials I've never used and became obsessed with them! I did anything and everything I wanted to do in this two week period without asking for the validation or permission of others to do that thing. But don't get it twisted, a lot of friends were still there to help me along the way. The difference though is that I think I was able to finally begin to understand that I didn't need company to go do the things I wanted to. If I had it, great! But for, I think, the first time I was able to detach my worth and value from what my perception of other's value of me was.This is revolutionary for me.

As for the future, I will be releasing this 365 doodle project...somehow. There are some options floating around and some of those gears are already moving but I'll save those details for a different time. My hope for the new year is that I continue finding this time for myself for the sake of myself. I've already begun by trying new things, going new places, practicing new mediums and even joining back to social media. You can follow me on Instagram @andrewpanofficial and now on TikTok @realandrewpan. I look forward to sharing more of myself with you all in whatever way I want.

Peace & Love,


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