A reflection on 2023

Hi there. It’s been a while. For those who aren’t new here, thanks for sticking around. I know I haven’t been around much this year.

It has been about eight months since I last posted here, which is quite surprising because to me it seemed like many lifetimes had passed. Yet in true Kate fashion, I’ve kind of procrastinated on doing this yearly roundup post. For one thing, it felt like there’s not much I can share in terms of my fangirling (you’ll see why later). Also, my old format feels… unfitting for this year, to tell you the truth. (Again, you’ll see why later.) But the whole idea of writing a reflection of the past year is still something that I want to do, and so here’s my 2023 highlights/reflections:

My trips to Singapore and Japan

I went on a short holiday with my sister to Singapore in February. It was my first time out of country and I had so much anxiety as one does when they do something for the first time. And as someone who’s had a rather sedentary lifestyle since the start of the pandemic, walking around shocked me and my body both. Nevertheless, their public transportation is impeccable – once you figure out how to navigate them haha!

Then, in late June, a small group of us went on a two-week trip to Japan. We went to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in particular. I’d say our accommodations in Kyoto is probably my favourite out of the three but Tokyo is my favourite place to go around – there’s simply a lot you can do in Tokyo.

I feel like the Japan trip in particular really took up most of my energy during the first half of this year, what with all the preparation for our visa and the trip itself. Both were very fun and I also learned a lot about myself when it comes to travelling. For instance, I consider myself to be more of a vacationer than a traveller.

My Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit hyperfixation

Looking at the timestamp of my last post here, it was posted on the last week of April. That also, interestingly, coincides with when my hyperfixation for LOTR and The Hobbit started lol.

I don’t think I’ve been this fixated on a piece of media since my obsession with Haikyuu in early 2018. And because I only have one close friend who’s into LOTR/TH and they’re not super active when it comes to fangirling, I reopened my old Tumblr account and started interacting and engaging with the fandom there. Tumblr is where I’m more active nowadays hehe and it’s honestly been a blast. ♡

Art Stuff (of course)

Speaking of LOTR and The Hobbit, a big number of artworks I’ve done this year are Tolkien-related and I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon. In fact, I have several works-in-progress on my Procreate and a whole list of rough concept ideas I want to dabble next year.

Outside of fan works (though I guess you can also say because of doing more fan works), my original art pieces have also visibly improved. A video of mine went semi-viral on Instagram and whilst it was cool for a while, I felt increasingly more anxious as the numbers went past 1,000. With each passing year, I grow more and more uninterested in how my art “performs” online. I share fan works only within fandom – often even exclusively on Tumblr now – and am quite happy if I find fellow fans who enjoy my work. I still share my art online but I’m far more mindful in a sense that I only share the things I’m comfortable sharing. And I don’t mind only getting a few likes or views for them. I now prioritise creating art for myself and improving my art skills for my own satisfaction and to share them with the people I care about and it’s honestly so so freeing. I wish younger Kate can see us right now; we got there finally. ♡

Now onto far more important things:

Since October, the internet and the world at large has been bearing witness to some of the worst atrocities that can ever happen to anyone, let alone entire groups of people, and in real time mostly through social media. I’m sure seeing all the videos and stories that had come out – and are still coming out – of Palestine and Congo and Sudan has shaken a lot of people to their core. I know it did me.

While we’re on the topic, allow me to emphasise this very important point:

If you follow me here or know me elsewhere and you are:

  • a Zionist
  • pro-Israel
  • sympathiser to the Israeli state

Unfollow me now. Unsubscribe and do not interact in any way. This humble blog welcomes any and every person. However, if you are a bigot, if you side with an active apartheid state and justify their ongoing genocide on the Palestinian people, you are not welcome here. I do not want you here.

Personally, these past few months further cemented how I think about many things in our world. It’s made me reflect on things that I’ve been simmering in for years.

This tweet resonated with me so much.

Least of all, it’s made me rethink how I engage with people involved in the media I consume. Funny, this was exactly the intention I set for myself at the end of last year’s highlights and here we are now. Oh how the universe works.

On consumption and last year’s reflection

When I set out my intention to think about my consumption last year, I’ve already been re-evaluating where I stand. I mentioned in last year’s highlights post that my hobby purchase ban in 2022 really pushed to surface my relationship with consumption via retail therapy among other things. I was also thinking about my media consumption and the way I engage in fandom in general. The way that fandom culture as it is now feels… commodified was definitely one of the things that unsettled me.

Then this year happened. October 7th and the days, weeks, months that followed.

It’s honestly been so disappointing to see creatives and artists who I look up to and whose works I love in various degrees be silent or even justify oppression, a lot of which do so by advocating for “peace on both sides”. How can these people who have made art that uplift others, stories that call for equality and justice, or have simply been involved in any media that show our shared humanity then stand with an actual active oppressor? And how can fellow fans turn a blind eye to this and put so much more energy instead into defending their faves’ deeply harmful opinions? (Which are made and shared in public, mind you). I’ve seen people publicly announce that they will turn their back from what’s happening and citing selfish reasons such as “It doesn’t involve me directly” or “I have too much on my plate”. How could these people be so unfeeling? Where is the humanity?

Moving forward

Even now, I’m still trying to reconcile how I will be engaging with fandom moving forward – and by extension, how I share that here and in my other fandom-related accounts. One thing I do know is that I refuse to engage with or even publicly talk about a series or media, the creators of which have made their stance clearly in support for the apartheid settler-colonial project. Truly, whatever love I have for such series is infinitesimal compared to the vastly harmful opinions that their creators perpetuate in their very large platforms. I refuse to continue giving them space in my online feed and give them attention and I urge you to look into the fandom you’re in and reflect on this as well.

Outside of just fandom stuff, here are a few places you can start checking with regards to what’s been happening in the past 80 days:

Please remember that every little help counts. Be in the habit of thinking that it (every little thing you can do) matters. (Words from Ismatu Gwendolyn).

Fourth year into doing this and it’s now in a wholly different format. I’m not sure if I’ll once again do the “favourite media I consumed this year” aspect of the highlights moving forward. Though I still kept track of the stuff I read or watched this year, the main reason for me not doing it was simply that there weren’t lots of stuff that I read or watched to even do a roundup for. And again, it feels wrong to me to make a media roundup when I had a more important thing I wanted to talk about.

What I do know and hope to do more in 2024 is to gather courage. It’s a phrase I see often these past 80 days and the earnestness and hopefulness of it has stuck with me throughout this past months and whilst I write this post. As I continue to learn more about the world around me and unlearn my internalised biases and prejudices, my hope is to also gather courage and share what I learned to those around me, especially my friends and loved ones, and to engage in these difficult conversations with grace and love.

I hope this holiday you have found some comfort and ease. I will see you again in the new year, wishing for a more hope-filled 2024. ♡


gorgeous views from japan and singapore. japan has been on my bucket list i hope one day to visit! I’ve only been to mexico and im not scared bc i know the language and i also have family there, but i would be sweating buckets if its somewhere with a language barrier!

that made me laugh how you went on a break when you got into lotr lol! i feel like i get that way sometimes too!

thanks for sharing your thoughts on whats going on in the world i feel like i have seen almost nothing in the blogging world/by influencers that i follow on here and ig. i had to unfollow so many because it gets me queasy to see people still shopping and sharing trips and ootd’s like nothing is going on, i feel like im living a more dystopian life when the people i follow ignore atrocities that im 100% sure they have seen too. like am i the only one seeing it type of thing. i hate it. so thanks!

Kate Ashley says:

thank you!! Japan was beautiful, we went on summer but hopefully we can come back during the cherry blossom season or during fall. my only reference for Japanese language is watching anime and J-drama and it was barely helpful haha! as long as you know the basic greetings etc and you have Google Lens or any translation app you’ll be fine ♡

haha! LOTR certainly had a chokehold on me and i just let it consume most of my 2023.

honestly, when i saw your post about brands to boycott i breathed a big sigh of relief that i saw at least one person in the blogging space talking about it. so thank YOU for posting as well! ♡ i myself had to unfollow many big influencers and artists i used to look up to and lost respect for those who were trying to either deny the genocide happening or justify Israel’s disproportionate retaliation. i fully relate in everything feeling more dystopian now so if you need anyone to talk to so as not to feel going mad, i’m here to be a lending ear or on ig @keetnoodles (that’s my art acc haha!) sending so much happiness and good vibes your way as we greet the new year ♡♡

now that would be a perfect time to go to japan def a goal of mine to see those gorgeous trees!
and yes so true i was thinking there should be some apps i can use as well.
thanks i followed ive been following and unfollowing so many people i just want to follow normal human beings tbh
thanks and same to u lets hope its a great year!

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