I envy the joyful brightness of people on social media, their bubbly exteriors. Yes, I’ve heard it before: it is not always real. They might be hiding a desperately depressed self behind the scenes. Well then, I envy at least their ability to marshal their energies enough to put on that mask.

I don’t have such energies. The energy I do have I must reserve for deadlines, potential fires to put out, paid work, meetings and classes, to maintain a bare minimum semblance of order in my house.

I look at people sharing their days, their lives, and I wonder…


The anxiety can take one of various paths: it can build up slowly from a trickle, formed by a distant, worrisome thought I had in the morning and quickly brushed aside; this trickle may remain a trickle, but it may also go into a crescendo as a million minor grievances accumulate throughout the day; finally, it can come in full force, suddenly, a flash flood of hormones inundating the body with dozens of simultaneous sensations.

In this metaphor, anxiety is like a river, a straight current that is sometimes shallow and tamed, others fast and treacherous. I have learned its…


I’m not sure when the exhaustion started. It began settling in as the days kept rolling, nesting in between my bones and capturing the muscles in my legs. At first it was a distant hum I chose to ignore, as I dragged myself from my desk to a dance class to a meeting to the kitchen to cook.

I put in the hours. I had dutifully cultivated a routine over the past months that helped me ensure I’d get things done. I could shift around what I wanted to do based on how I felt, always having a minimum baseline…


Work on your goals by focusing on what matters.

It is 9 am on a Monday morning, and the unread message counter on my Gmail app reads 129. A long time ago I self-diagnosed as an “Inbox Zero” type, a designation I used to be really proud of. But for the past three or so years it has been nearly impossible to get rid of the dreaded red circle. No matter how many newsletters I unsubscribe from, more seem to crop up everyday.

Many years ago I used to manage my freelance work through my inbox. I went through it…


I close my eyes and fade into the darkness. Vaguely formed shapes melt into my field of vision, and I sink into myself. Images rise up all on their own and my excitement peaks. I live for this moment, for this feeling. A creative idea is forming. It rises up from formless colors and pure, unbridled emotion. But it has no form yet, no medium even.

It is this that I cherish, that which I chase and seek to preserve.

The image of a butterfly emerges from the depths. Yes, this moment, this emotion is like a butterfly. I am caught in the moment of first discovering it and enjoying its majestic beauty, its…


You’ve seen them on your Instagram feed and playing before your YouTube videos. They are loud, start in media res with a testimonial or an aggressive statement. The headline is out of context, but undeniably powerful, and you cannot resist but to click on it. “I did this for ten days and lost 10 pounds.” “Your life is mediocre if you make less than $80,000 a year.” “I could not believe what I was hearing.”

I’ve spoken before about manipulative marketing. Even though that sounds like an oxymoron, because one could argue that all marketing, by its very nature, is…


“I love building businesses and launching new ventures, but the only reason I value money is that I’m going to need a lot of it when I buy the New York Jets.”

-Gary Vaynerchuck, Crush It!

“…the Erotic Professional positions herself as answering a vocational ‘calling’ that seems to have barely anything to do with being paid.”

-Juno Mac and Molly Smith, Revolting Prostitutes

Like many people born after the 1980s, I grew up surrounded by discourse about work and passion. The underlying thesis was that, since work occupies the majority of a regular person’s time, and work is often…


It was the end of summer and time to return to graduate school. I had spent the previous months in a bit of a daze, hopping from plane to plane, from bus to bus, with a backpack full of clothes and a handful of books. I had become obsessed with 19th century Brazilian writer Machado de Assis’ unassumingly brilliant storytelling, which I gobbled down as I made my way awkwardly from Peru down to Chile then to Brazil and back to the United States.

It was my first South America trip, that most writerly of experiences, which I attempted to…


Practicing a little everyday really goes a long way.

As a lifelong lover of the arts and languages, I have struggled through many different disciplines. I started drawing obsessively before the age of five and began writing my first stories at the age of eight. After entering college, I also discovered my love for learning languages, was involved in martial arts for a couple of years and, a while later, I fell in love with dance.

I have not always been able to master everything I have pursued. The drawing and the martial arts kind of fell by the wayside…


Imposter syndrome is a debilitating psychological phenomenon that results in an inability to appreciate one’s own abilities and talents. As a result, it creates a predisposition to perfectionism, anxiety, procrastination and underachievement.

I became aware of this term a few years ago, and promptly recognized the traits in myself. In spite of being reassured by my peers that I was competent, even excellent in some areas, I constantly doubted myself. It has caused me to accept exploitative work situations and to settle for much less than I am worth. …

E.B. Figueroa

Translator, writer, dancer. I resist becoming a brand.

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