We had the good fortune of connecting with Rose Chang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rose, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Balance has always been such an important concept in my life that I feel I am always trying to strive for and maintain. My family is buddhist but my parents were never really strict about it, however, balance is something that is hyper-present in my culture. My idea of what balance is has definitely changed a lot over time. I was less concerned with balance when I was in college and in graduate school, I felt my relationship with balance was an unhealthy one until just recently. I spent a lot of time believing that dedicating all of my time to studying, schooling/education, and working hard was what being a balanced contributing member of society is – working hard and making money. And I remember I would be really hard on myself if I wanted to take personal time to do the things I liked, such as a hobby or taking some time off to relax/recuperate. I felt that personal time needed to be earned and if I wasn’t constantly being productive, working, or tired, then I wasn’t working hard enough. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started thinking about what balance actually meant to me.
Before, my work/life was unbalanced, which would bleed over into every aspect of my personal life, mental and emotional health, etc. Even now, I don’t love the way we refer to it as “work life balance,” to me, it seems to imply that there is work and there is life and that these two concepts require balance in relation to one another. I can see why, we, as a society, would refer to a work life balance because we live in a capitalistic society and our value is placed so much on working, making money, and output. However, I would much rather view and reframe it as simply, Balance (emphasis on the capital B). I’ll explain why; I notice we place a lot of weight on work, and yes, of course we have to, because we require food on the table, roofs over our heads, and things cost money, but, work is not all life is. I believe work is only one aspect of many things in a person’s life. To me, work should never be your life and your life should never be just about your work. There is so much richness to experience in life and we forget because we are constantly breaking our backs to work.
I’m still working every day on balancing my life, some days are better than others, but I am always consciously and deliberately making efforts to create space for balance. Yes, I have to work (a lot) but I have to remind myself that work is only one part of me and there are many aspects of my life that require attention, such as my health, my relationships (with others and myself) and my ever changing and growing interests. I make a lot of effort to create space for all the important aspects of my life, and I’m sure that differs for everyone. For me, I make sure I am always thinking about my health, I try to stay active and eat healthy, whole foods so that my body is balanced. Another important part of my life I provide a lot of care and attention to are my family and friends. My personal relationships are really important to me so I always try to make sure I am constantly working to be present and supportive in those relationships/people because I love them and care about them. Ultimately I feel balance requires mindfulness and patience with oneself. It’s really listening to your mind, heart, and body and letting it tell you what you need, whether it’s physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I feel the path to being an artist/creative is never easy. I think that we forget a lot of the times that artists create deeply personal works and that comes from the artist themselves. Being an Asian American woman pursing anything in the arts was something that was uncommon for my family and just not “conventional.” Growing up, I also felt that pursuing your passion was something that was far fetched because I come from an immigrant family and my parents really wanted to me to pursue something more “stable” or “conventional.” I honestly believe that everyone is an artist and it’s always challenging to pursue making/creating art because it is so intimately involved with self. There is a lot of emotional work involved in creating art that I feel is often overlooked when we consume art. I am really hard on myself, especially when it comes to my own art, so it’s been such a journey to learn how to be proud of myself and the art that I create. I recently wrote and directed a short film, “Shades of Jade,” for my graduate thesis at USC and it was a huge moment for me that I feel I am most proud of.
There are many, many big lessons to be learned along the way of pursuing a profession in art, internally and externally. There are just a bunch of life lessons to be learned, again, growing up as an Asian American woman. It’s constantly facing micro-aggressions, aggression, and blatant racism in every step of my journey that has been the most difficult. There’s not much to elaborate on with that, it’s just unfortunate that those issues are very common and many times along the way when faced with those moments, it’s always been really defeating and discouraging. And I honestly it’s really emotionally taxing and there isn’t a cookie cutter positive way to get through it except the fact that you just have to get through it.
I think the internal challenge wasn’t as hard to me when I look back on what I’ve experienced. My personal journey really involved me being honest with myself and constantly making efforts in bettering my art with genuineness and tenderness. I always felt that by working on myself and bettering myself in life, my art would also grow and become better. I think I would just want the world, especially people pursing art or any passion, that they are not alone and that there is strength within themselves that they would be surprised with.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a big nature person and am very into simple and wholesome things. I am also a very private person so I am more drawn to intimate and low-key spaces. I definitely would take them out on a hike, not somewhere super populated, maybe somewhere in Las Tunas Canyon in Topanga so the hike would overlook the ocean. I’m a big ocean fan, especially if it’s mama Pacific (what can I say, I grew up in California!). We would definitely have to stop by the beach, but not something that tourist-y, somewhere cover-like or El Matador beach. I also love museums and concerts, if there was a concert happening that weekend, it’d definitely be great, but I love going to any and all museums. As for food/drinks, I love a lot of local spots — I live in Koreatown and love all the food here, and unfortunately one of my favorite restaurants did not survive the pandemic (Beverly Soondobu). I am always open to trying new local spots but some of my favorites are definitely Pa Ord Noodle, Pho Cafe, Night + Market, Alchemist Coffee, and Sharp Specialty Coffee. And lastly, I would probably take them to the farmers market, I’m a big fan of the Atwater Village Farmer’s market but my favorite one is South Pasadena’s Farmer’s Market – it’s a bit out of the way but I will literally stomach the little traffic and distance to get there because it has the best produce and it’s got such a wonderful energy there.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I feel I always have so many people I want to shoutout to for being so integral and supportive in my growth and development as an artist and person. There are definitely a handful of people that deserve so much credit and recognition in my journey and still in my journey in life.
My older brother is someone who has always been there for me and has always supportive me in everything that I chose to do. He is always someone that I could seek advice from knowing that I would never be judged. He also has remain such a reliable and grounding person in my life. I definitely would not be the person I am today without my relationship with him.
All the women in my life — most of my best and closest friends are all these INCREDIBLE strong women, who know me really well and who inspire me every day. They are my support system and my family and each and every one of them has shaped and contributed to who I am.
Martha Rivera-Mijes, Brandon Clayton Ng