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Saving Face in Taiwan


Saving face implies a situation where someone’s reputation is under question, or has already been lost, and is undergoing restoration. Saving face is an action whereby one is able to prove that they were not wrong, or show that the degree of their wrongdoing was only very small – not such a big deal.

For those who don’t know what “面子” or the concept of “face”- its  an asian custom based on combination  of social standing, reputation, influence, dignity, and honor.  I’ll use Mulan (Disney movie) as an example. When Mulan’s father gets called to join the War, he trudges on despite his bad limp and his old age to accept his fate and show face to his town. Mulan stubbornly interferes causing him to lose face among his peers and bring him shame (you’ve bought shame to this family…#burn). She struggles with her principles overnight..a slash across her shiny black hair later…she ends up fighting for her country and ultimate saving face for her family. Kickass right?!!? I think what’s especially badass is that she still defies all realms of stereotypical conventions in the process. Ironic. Very not chinese traditional huh?

I’m experiencing this whole “face” thing on my own right now and its given me much headache and heartache.

Why? Because I’m a customized Asian, with a dash of oriental zen, a twist of western creation fervor, and a sprinkling of personal philosophizing.

I think everyone is unique and I’d rather be different, self-expressive, and stand out than fit in. Yet I respect my cultural heritage, emphasis on filial piety, generally not making anyone feel uncomfortable.  Can you understand the clash?

Stressing too much about showing “face” already implies that you care too much about what other people think of you. You can’t please everyone and even if you try, you’ll just have an even harder time identifying with yourself.

So here it comes…my introverted Saturday night identity crisis rant of living a life for you versus living the life that’s expected of you.

Saving Face Correlates with Confidence/Sense of Self 

I apologize to my family and peers for being erratic, moody, hyper-sensitive, insecure, flakey, distant sometimes…i’ve had highs and lows the past few months in this island of Taiwan.

After much thought, I’ve realized that my environment (how I behave when I am most natural/authentic to myself) has a direct correlation with my confidence.

Confidence is the ability to affect the world around you, it’s a feeling of empowerment, it’s feeling good about yourself, and it’s the thing inside that allows you to show yourself to the world.

For the past 6 years, I’ve lived independently in NYC surrounding myself with unique/independent/creative/ambitious types….wandering around carefree on my own terms and conditions…I’ve reached all-highs living very hedonistically. If I wasn’t having fun, stopped learning, or hit a plateau, it would be a matter of me running/biking away to latch onto something/somewhere/someone else. Granted, this fleeting defense mechanism had given me a falsified high sense of confidence because hell i wasn’t really putting myself in any vulnerable position where I could have a low ever. Happy go lucky scatter-brained escapist. I was restless…

Right now, while I am in mother land, I am trying to tackle vulnerability and fear. And sticking to something no matter how uncertain. Hence, my decision to stay here for at least a year.

Being in Taiwan, living with family (3 generations in one household) for the first time, being a student again, of course has its perks. I’m living very comfortably right now. I have time to explore my passions and learn for the sake of learning. So then why the intermittent lows? 

I oftentimes feel babied like I’m constantly being scrutinized and evaluated for every decision I make…and sometimes for just being the way that I am.

And its hard.  I’m not used to being called out on on my flaws. The Chinese culture is not to compliment but to point out weaknesses to improve on. This could help me in the long term (maybe)… but could also leave me feeling a bit insecure with my sense of self for the time being.

For one, I just can’t get over the fact how superficial it is here. Having “face” as a 24 soon to be 25 yr old single girl in Taiwan means I have to care a lot about how I look. And for those who know me, I could give less of a flying fck.

Over the past few months, I’ve had to evaluate the following about myself

– For “Being too muscular” (girls shouldn’t lift weights/exercise all the time) to “you look fatter/you’ve gained weight” (once i had stopped working out as much..uh OH)
– For not dressing more like a girl or having any fashion sense (i don’t even know where to begin as i struggle with materialism and also working with what I have- post backpacker…)
– For being too hasty, clumsy, with my actions and having no tact with my words (i have to apologize for being too overly excited, be smart with my words at the risk of hurting someone’s feelings)
– For having too many scars/bruises/scratches on my legs (i should hide and remove my battle scars/stories for the sake of disgusting people…and should thus quit jumping on and of things/parkour).
– For being really unstable “hot and cold” at the whole relationship/intimacy front (meanwhile grandma tells me to “open my eyes” to find a tall Taiwanese boy from a wealthy family..uh oh)

Obviously, I take all of these “things i should work on” aka hits to my “being” with a grain of salt…but i can’t lie, it gets to me. I’m highly sensitive to criticism…

Who is that girl I see…staring straight back at me….


I guess to some people on eye-level, I’m a disheveled misfit who wanders parks alone scouting for old people and little kids to talk to/practice Chinese with. Who can be seen sporting a bright green sharpied backpack filled with chinese books, a camera bag that carries my Nikon D500, and Google Glass. This backpack ultimately clashes with everything I wear..its also covered with doodles by 5-7 yr olds…but its full of stories and cherished memories..and is the only semblance of me saying “i’d rather clash than fit in” so 面子can be shoved aside..for now.

In all seriousness, appearances and jokes aside, my level of confidence has a direct impact on how much I get done, whether I follow through with my goals, my values, my beliefs, my “ideal self” and whether I take opportunities that present themselves to me…

I seek inspiration and understanding and can only measure it by something tangible. I’d like to empower communities to get out of the defeatist 沒辦法 mindset and to show that life is much “more” than just 表面上(on surface shit).

It’s time to have conversation about life/dreams/hobbies/interests/taking risks and less about hello kitty/yellow ducks/stinky tofu/bubble tea/overworked low salary dead end jobs. gosh. am i right?

HENCE, me sharing myself. my “unique” voice. my personality. my eyes. my tools. my Glass.

First step- master language
Second step- understand culture/people
Third step- empower communities

The medium is the message. SO CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO ROFL.


The Google Glass Game

In February, I participated in Google’s promotional #ifihadglass Twitter campaign for a shot to be a Glass Explorer. I saw the awesome promo video that someone had shared on their Facebook wall and was utterly amazed.

Post-grad, I had worked at GoldRun-a mobile startup that provided an app for users to connect in a more engaging way with brands using GPS + Augmented Reality functionality. Having done some research into technology disruption and “The Internet of things,” I knew that Google was at the brink of something great and powerful.

Wearable Computing is very much real. While it may have negative social implications (GLASSHOLE), you cannot deny the positive impact it has for technology, business, healthcare, medicine, education, social services, fitness, and beyond. Whether you personally find this horrifying or exciting, at least acknowledge that this is where the future is headed towards…with or without your initial acceptance. #earlyadopterrationale

Not really taking this too seriously as I had never won a single raffle/lottery in my life (despite me applying ALLL THE TIME), I had a bit of fun with my tweet…

#ifihadglass i’d bike around NYC dodging pedestrians/cars. Crowdsurf at a music festival. Play Fruit Ninja (FOR REAL).

Yeah…I know. I was surprised when @projectglass had sent me a DM saying I was selected for a pair. Why? My tweet seemed trite in comparison to the pool of 8,000 Glass Explorer winners.

Some of my fav examples:

I would implement “invisible motion” mode on Glass using the technology developed by these researchers: #ifihadglass [link]

#ifihadglass i’d create a skill/barter app where people could indicate skills/goods they have/need for trade. Haves/needs appear overhead. [link]

#ifihadglass as a neurologist I would use it daily to improve care of my patients. It is the next leap in the practice of medicine. [link]

#ifIhadglass,i would interview 15k students @ our camps, put their faces on big screen $ show them how they can impact africa and the world. [link]

#ifihadglass I would document and share the first year of my child’s life. [link]

#ifihadglass I could record guitar covers and lessons from a 1st point of view and it would be so easy for people to watch and learn [link]

I would take it to the top of the world. Mt. Everest. #ifihadglass [link]

@projectglass #ifihadglass I would give the world a first person perspective into the world of standup comedy. [link]

#ifihadglass, I could relive my wedding from the point of view of the people I love most. [link]

#ifihadglass I would make them Wi-Fi intuitive with app support so that you can use them to adjust settings on your DSLR or GoPro. [link]

#ifihadglass I would show the world all the animals in kill shelters in my area that need to find forever homes. [link]

#IfIHadGlass I would capture the moments my grandma can’t be there for, and share them with her through my own eyes. [link]

I’d show what it’s like to act on the set of HIMYM all day! #ifihadglass [link] –yes that’s NPH

Seriously, there are some pretty INCREDIBLE people out there who just want to SHARE to the world literally from their point of view how AMAZING life is and want to work towards how incredible it could be…whether for their family, community, the world.

The point is, we are about to enter a different world. And beyond looking nerdy/acting like a GLASSHOLE-know it all, the growth of truly personalized social and information retrieval and dissemination is right here…right now. It’s scary. ACCEPT IT..

So instead of ridiculing myself for feeling “small,” I choose to be inspired and to see this winning opportunity as a blessing. To use this tool as an interface, as a means of seamless communication. I went ahead and bought the damn thing and I don’t think I have given myself enough room for regret.  It was pretty impulsive which is how I’ve been acting a lot lately. LOL. WHY NOT?!

Regardless of my rule that money should be spent on experiences over possessions and “things,” I’m making the exception for this. Imagine how easily I could share to others how incredible NYC is without compromising my own experience…fumbling around for my phone..cheating my own “being present” mantra by staring through a lens. This has always been an internal struggle for me at music festivals…

My passion is meeting people, hearing their stories, and promoting happiness by encouragement.

I’d like to share how big the world is and how great people are through their creations…or how self expressive…or how creative…or how free. That there are movements out there that encourage happiness, surprise, and positivity (skipping club!) … To experience life to the fullest and allow others to see through my eyes that the sharing community is a safe and supportive network. To see through my eyes instead of lose faith in my words.

So I want to make full use of my investment and capture moments that describe human emotion particularly happiness, freedom , adventure, fear, vulnerability.

I will be traveling abroad for the next 5 months. I’d like to promote city life/art/architecture…discover self expression through dance…reveal how personally enlightening and safe the  couchsurfing/rideshare experience is…promote street performers…embrace nature…understand humanity…and last but not least, take part in extreme sports ( i will be skydiving in New Zealand!).

I’m also willing to share. Because sharing > ownership. Collaborative Consumption and Sharing Economy for the win!

I’d like to present the opportunity for everyone to create their own game. During June 26 – July 12, feel free to touch base with me if you want to play around with my GG and use it to cultivate or share your own passion (HAHA…if you speak Chinese..that sentence sounded funny..)

You just have to come up with a kickass #ifihadglass =P. You can feel free to comment here, my FB wall, or direct message if you are one of those people who are self-conscious about declaration.

This could be really great guys. Imagine the possibilities.