I'm Lena Chen, a writer, activist, and media producer who's been called a "skank" (by Bill O'Reilly) and "a small Asian woman" (by The New York Times). My favorite part of my workday is the hate mail.For the unlikely story that is my life, read on.
I re-read all the entries I wrote in the AM yesterday and it makes me really sad that this is how I think nowadays, but I think my recent decision to end my blog (the one causing all the problems) will go a long way toward making me feel better.
I actually told my friend Daniel recently that “I honestly doubt that anyone will ever fall in love with me” which he declared as “the saddest thing [he’s] ever heard.” He’s not the first person I’ve admitted that to. Weeks prior, I first said it to my blockmate Tara, only back then, the version was more along the lines of “I don’t think I’ll find anyone at Harvard who will want to date me during college.” But hey, things kind of went downhill and so did my declaration.
I’m really resilient nowadays, really resilient. Panic attacks aside, my emotional health is peachy for someone who’s undergone a very draining year. We’re not even talking about failed relationships because quite honestly, I could give less of a shit whether I “find someone” at 20. I’m talking about constantly being the accidental other woman, about being pursued by total assholes, about having a hand in ending other people’s relationships despite my already cautious demeanor toward men (taken until proven single is the new motto). Those are all the things that have contributed to my lack of faith in love. If the only people who have been interested in me are the ones who see me as a way out of what they already have, then what the hell does that say about what guys see in me?
The thing is, I haven’t always been like this. I used to be a believer in the best in human nature. I’ve been overly trusting since birth and it’s only recently, only in 2007 really, that I started to change. And even now, I oscillate a lot from one day to the next. Before the holidays, before the photos, before everything, I was still undecided about whether I was an optimist or cynic. I don’t like how I’m jaded and hardened, but let’s be honest: I’m falling apart here even though I have made myself numb to just about everything. Cynicism is my savior. I don’t care what my peers are saying because they’ve said worse. I don’t care about some guy’s vendetta because guys have done worse. Can you imagine if I came into this expecting the best? I would be a wreck. It’s my growing distrust and my expectation for disappointment that’s prevented me from completely descending into full-blown depression. I’ve seen the ugliest side of my peers, the worst examples of manipulation by men, the most wrenching instances of heartache in beautiful and talented women who deserve much better than to be lied to. And it is probably because of all of that (and more) that I’m able to approach this situation without surprise and with minimal panic.
To ask me to perk up and look on the bright side is to completely ignore the fact that I did that for nearly two decades only to wind up a total wreck as a sophomore in college when I realized that Ivy League educations don’t prevent people from being judgmental and that even the nicest of guys have a knack for fucking up when it comes to me. No one has an inkling of how hard things are right now and they certainly don’t have a clue about how exponentially worse I was a year ago. It took me a year to pull myself out of it, out of whatever place I landed in when the backlash against my blog occurred. I never want to have to do that again. So I would love to not question people’s intentions at every turn, to not ponder worst case scenarios, to just trust unconditionally without footnotes, but consider first the past year’s events. I don’t have the luxury.
So maybe that’s why I ended it, not because some guy posted photos of me online, not because the criticism took a turn for the worse, but because my life took a turn for the worse, and so did my outlook. A year ago, I didn’t like me or my life. Today, I like my life but I still don’t like myself. As much as I enjoy sharing my insight and writing about relationships with all the ugly parts intact, it is getting way too hard to stay so personal. And I don’t want to inspire in people empathy or understanding or anything, if it comes at such a great cost to myself. You have no idea how amazing it is for a writer to be read by so many, to have my words repeated and quoted and embraced. That’s why my blog was incredibly hard to give up. But fame is a double-edged sword and if harassment is the price I have to pay to write honestly about sex and love, then I’m tired of being a martyr. Even if I still write, I don’t want to share that part of my life anymore, at least not in real-time with a medium that is so volatile. I’ll write here instead, on a Tumblr that I don’t pay hosting fees for or get advertising revenue for or even get comments in return for.
I’m peacing out and I can’t even really say that it was fun while it lasted. It was fun, sometimes, but all the fun-ness combined still wouldn’t exceed the suck-age. And I’m really tired of everything sucking. I don’t know if Sex and the Ivy is ever returning, certainly not until I figure out if it’s even possible to write about the things I do without my life collapsing in on me. If it does come back, someone better give me an award for bravery or something, because christ, handing your life over to the world for judgment? Not recommended.