Possessing a bigger responsibility for the next generation, top model Jessica Yang shares the secret towards living a better life against today’s social dilemma.
You only live once—a phrase Millennials often use ever since putting Carpe Diem as your Twitter bio became so fetch. (Don’t worry Regina George, we’re not making it happen.) Always so game to explore new places, experience new things, and most importantly, chase our dreams, thus was the name of the game. We grew up with a perspective not to live our entire lifetime in our memories, and so, here we are, ready to face any obstacle we may encounter along our journey.
But as time passed, and with Millennials starting to enter the workforce, there was an obvious slow drifting from this perspective. Suddenly, we were consumed by a system where we felt the need to always prove ourselves. Today’s society has made our generation as some sort of economic machinery, finding the right solutions to all the problems in our fast-paced life. We suddenly became too busy hustling and juggling more than the quintessential day-job, or else you’ll fail miserably in life—as Andy Sachs says, “cheers to jobs that pay the rent.” Then again, maybe not.
Now, because of the reality that is the pandemic, people had no choice but to slow down, taking a pause amid the world’s new challenges. Breathing in and out, we started contemplating to find the best way to navigate through the new norm. You see, nobody is really exempted from this narrative. Even for someone whose success is already on a global scale, such as top model Jessica Yang, who at her stature has had to jump back to square one, asking where she’s headed again and why is happiness fleeting like the wind.
In the midst of total isolation, Jess learned to prioritize mindfulness. “I was always on the go, and I’m always on the phone,” she admits. “So now, it really altered the time as everybody slows down, [which is also] the perfect time to start connecting to what’s there and what’s inside.” Having this new goal in mind, our gurl took an online course about mindfulness and happiness as well as joined a meditation group. Just think of it like going on a spiritual holiday—but not Midsommar levels iykwim.
“The perfect example that I learned is brushing my teeth, with mindfulness,” Jess explains. “Like usually when you brush your teeth, you’re either on your phone or you’re checking your face or even spacing out. You’re not really focusing on brushing your teeth. But if you just try to focus, you kind of get in touch with what you’re doing at the moment. And when you do it, you’re grateful like, ‘Oh, my teeth are nice. It’s like healthy. It’s like all that.‘ So, that’s one way to start training yourself to be more mindful of being in the now.”
In doing so, Jess claims that it will really help you reconnect to your inner self and see what’s inside of you, instead of worrying about the world “because it’s too many things. Sometimes, we just need to give ourselves a break. That’s what I learned, and I really enjoyed it.”
“It’s funny when I hear people speaking Tagalog [abroad], and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m from there, too! I’m not Filipino, but I’m from there,” she explains. Many people often get confused about Jessica Yang being a Taiwanese who can speak and understand Tagalog. But it’s just simply because her whole family migrated to the Philippines way back in 2002 and lived here ever since.
For Jess, while she’s not Filipino by blood, she is Filipino in her own heart. “I guess being Filipino is having this sort of proudness with your fellow Filipino and their roots,” she expounds. In fact, our main girl even shared that whenever someone asks her what to visit in Taiwan, she can’t recommend anything. But if she’s asked where to go in the Philippines, she knows a ton of places.
Apart from choosing to be Filipino, it was also because of living and studying in the Philippines that opened her doors to what she calls the perfect job. “I started modeling when I was in college. My IT-professor-turned-designer, Yako Reyes told me I needed to go to Fashion Week casting,” she recalls. “He told me he knew someone who trains beauty queens and will teach me how to walk. But I’m like…no.”
Although, being the ever-stage professor that Yako was, he contacted her parents and told them, “We need Jess to be in this industry. And I’m not getting any cut, because I’m not gonna be her manager; I just want her to make it.” Lo and behold, years after her first go-see, she finally made it to the top. According to her, “I’m still so grateful for him up to now. Seriously, this is like the perfect job for me.”
While having a huge following and acquiring thousands of likes, Jessica Yang is well aware of the big responsibility of what it means to be an influencer in this day and age. “I actually think that’s such a big deal. So, I’m always very transparent,” she clears. And being an introvert was really a big help for her because an online platform was the best place for her to effectively express herself. “When I say something, it’s not like I’m fake; I’m just me.”
Echoing the inundated “with great power comes great responsibility” quote, Jess had a lot to think of over the years. “Now that I’m an influencer, I started to see young girls copying things I do, just because I’m doing it,” she shares. “So, how dangerous is that? I really need to be careful about what I say and how I represent myself. Because at the end of the day, it is a platform to show who you are. But be a good role model.”
Just Do It
Oftentimes, the real reason people are stressed out is because of oblivion: the fear of the unknown. While it’s normal to be afraid of what the future holds, sometimes overthinking about it already gets in the way and we just have take that leap of faith. Sure, having a vision is definitely important as it gives us direction. Although, sometimes we’re just too fixated on our main goal that we’re aversed to uncalculated risks. We’re too focused on perfection that we forget to focus on progress.
Here’s the thing about the real dangers of being in the world of influencers. Being compared and receiving bashful comments can make you lose yourself in the process. When in fact, social media wasn’t made to be a race, it’s about being authentic and sharing who you really are to the world. “It doesn’t mean if you have less following, you are less successful,” Jess explains. “There are certain brands that prefer micro-influencers now. The trick is to be authentic and have your own niche market. Being successful is like having your own unique branding.”
Jess relates it to her modeling job on how they are booked by casting directors. Having your own distinct characteristics such as hair, skin, or even vibe is crucial; you need to make sure that you don’t blend with everyone. “When you are able to do that, you’re all good. And I think that’s how you should measure success,” she says.
Now, being a globe trotter, she’s used to exploring new cultures. “I guess I’m just really meant for flying around. I cannot just be based in one place,” she says. “Of course, I’m nervous adapting to a new culture as I have no friends at first.” But Jess knew that it is always in making the first move that you are able to conquer such fears.
“When I’m [abroad], I actually make more friends. I would approach people like, ‘Hey, how are you? And you want to hang out here and there with me?’ unlike if you’re staying in the same place, you don’t need to ask and make the move because you already know everywhere,” the digital nomad expounds. “That’s why I keep on traveling. Once I’m at a new location, it’s from zero again. It’s trying to know a new environment and trying to make it again. That’s the fun part—always be inspired by the future.”
Come to think of it, us Millennials always said YOLO back then until we just kind of forgot about it already because we were sucked into a vortex of endless working. So, perhaps Jessica Yang is right, it’s high time we reconnect to what’s really inside us. Let us be mindful of the things we do, even the most mundane tasks. Let’s start appreciating even the littlest of our efforts, live in the moment, and enjoy our journey towards our end goal.
Go ahead. Just do it. Make the move.
“Life is short,” Jess smilingly declares as a beam of contentment is seen in her face. “You only live once.”