Lulu Chen on How Personal Priorities Change With Age

In Chapter 1 of 16 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, art director Lulu Chen answers "How Are Your Personal Priorities Changing With Age?"  Chen notes how she has learned not always to be a people pleaser and to let go of guilt of not always helping others and put herself first sometimes.  By taking care of herself she is able to be more helpful to friends and family. 

Lulu Chen is a photo art director working in retail e-commerce in New York City.  Previously, Chen worked as a freelance stylist for leading fashion catalogs and magazines.  She earned a BFA in design and art history from the University of Michigan.


Erik Michielsen: How are your personal priorities changing with age?

Lulu Chen: I definitely try to strive for a better work/life balance. And as I get older I prioritize my personal—my own needs more than everyone else’s.

Erik Michielsen: For example?

Lulu Chen: I was always a people pleaser and I always wanted to make everybody else happy, and I worked really hard, but sometimes, you know, you just keep going and you don’t actually step back and think about yourself. You’re just too busy accomplishing all the tasks or all the roles that you’re supposed to play, or just, you know, doing the right thing, or you just get busy, and you forget to think about yourself sometimes.

Erik Michielsen: What approach have you taken to create that time for yourself?

Lulu Chen: Well, I’ve learned how to say “no,” to every event, or any events that I don’t want to attend or can’t attend, or, you know, I’ve let go of a lot of guilt, you know. And I realize I’m putting my own mask on first, you know, like on the airplane, how they tell you, “You can’t really help anyone else if you can’t help yourself first.”

Erik Michielsen: Does that also involve getting more comfortable being in a quiet place?

Lulu Chen: Oh, literally and figuratively? Both? Yeah. I think you have to be more comfortable with yourself. I think maybe you kind of settle down as you get older too, and you’re not going out every night, or, you know, definitely in my 20s, I think I worked every day and probably went out a lot, you know, whether it be to see friends, or industry events, or just parties in general, you know. And I definitely think now I take more time for myself, and I try to carve out more time with close friends, family, and my boyfriend.