Summer is in full swing, and people are embracing it in various ways. ☀️ Some will do as much as possible outdoors, while others will immerse themselves in nature. 🌿 Regardless of how you spend your summer, it's important to practice gratitude, self-compassion and extend kindness to yourself and those around you. 🙏💕

Just like an iceberg, each of us is going through much more in life than we allow others to see. 🧊 Be mindful of this and remember you will never be judged negatively for being gentle, patient, and understanding when you see someone who seems a little or a lot off balance. 🤗 We all face challenges and we all need to be seen, heard and understood. 👂💬

In the third and final issue on burnout, I spoke with three remarkable women and creatives, Exmiranda, Rosena Fung, and Mia Dang from the Toronto area. 🎨👩‍🎨 They don't know each other but the way they express their lived experience, vulnerability and journey suggests universal views that align with the struggle and joys of being a creative. 🎭 Their conviction and approach to finding their way forward and to deal with burnout, self-doubt and anxiety to live their best life is inspiring. 🌟 It's also a blueprint to help other creators get unstuck today, while accepting that getting stuck again at some point in the future is a normal part of every creator's journey. 🗺️🧭🎨

The answers from Exmiranda, Rosena, and Mia reminded me of a verse from the poem, "The Guest House" by Rumi. It The poem encourages embracing vulnerability, self-compassion, inner peace and resilience in the face of self-doubt and challenges.

The Guest House by Rumi

"This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor. ...

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond."

⌚Reading Time: 13 minutes

Flavian DeLima

Publisher & Editor, Spinning Forward


➡️ Talking Mental Health and Burnout with Local Creators: Exmiranda, Rosena Fung, and Mia Dang 🗣️

➡️ Authenticity and Transparency Key for Influencers in Shifting Landscape ✨

➡️ Teen Mental Health May Be More Linked to Parental Abuse Than Social Media Use 💔


“The fact that this is the perfect storm environment for dis-info from every single point on the political spectrum, is something that worries me immensely".

-Disinformation researcher, Amanda Rogers, describing to the Guardian the polarized, unhinged, conspiracy-driven noise in social media responses to the shooting of Donald Trump as “a self-sustaining spiral of shit”.


Talking Mental Health and Burnout with Local Creators: Rosena Fung, Exmiranda and Mia Dang

In the previous issue, Jhanelle Peters (@jpeterspsychotherapy), a psychotherapist based in Toronto, defined burnout as the result of "what happens when you forget about being human for too long." She also outlined the five stages of burnout, noting that most people are only familiar with the final stage of full-blown burnout, due to overlooking or disregarding the early warning signs. If you didn't catch the interview, you can find it in Part 2 of our burnout series [link].

In Part 3 of the burnout series, Spinning Forward reached out to three creators from the Toronto region to ask how they handle burnout and prioritize their mental well-being.

This interviews has been edited for length and clarity. Stay tuned for longer podcast interviews to be published soon from all three creators.

Rosena Fung's Story: Embracing Self-Acceptance and Kindness

Rosena Fung, @rosenafung, Toronto, Ontario

-Comic creator, illustrator and educator

Rosena Fung is an award-winning Toronto-based comic creator, illustrator and educator. Born in Canada to Chinese immigrant parents from Hong, she debuted with the graphic novel "Living with Viola" in 2021. Her latest work, "Age 16," was published in May 2024 by Annick Press. Fung's graphic novels are loosely based on her life growing up in Toronto. Her books explore themes of identity, family, mental health and cultural expectations related to the the struggles that many young people face today. We spoke to Rosena Fung about about some of these topics.

SF: What advice would you give to young people who feel unhappy with themselves and who feel they don't fit in?

Rosena Fung: When I was younger, I just thought nothing about me was right, and felt I had to change everything about me, especially my body. I thought my body is not correct, and I need everything. I'm not cool, just everything. But honestly, be true to who you are. Sometimes you just don't have to change. Be kind to yourself is the main message."

SF: Why do your books focus around themes of mental health for young people?

Rosena Fung: "It wasn't until I was 17 until I finally got a formal diagnosis. And it was really life-changing for me because I no longer felt alone. Also, I guess it's the same as seeing role models in the same way, seeing that there's someone out there or knowing that there are other people out there who have the same experience as me, which was revelatory, and really helpful."

SF: How did you approach the themes of mental health in your work, especially in 'Living with Viola'?

Rosena Fung: "In 'Living with Viola', I wanted to be as honest as possible about the experience of living with anxiety. Viola, who represents Livy’s anxiety, is a shadowy twin that follows her around, constantly judging and overwhelming her. I drew from my own early experiences with anxiety and the pressures of growing up as a child of immigrants. I wanted to show that it's okay to ask for help and that understanding and facing your anxiety is a critical part of managing it. I think this kind of representation is essential because it helps others see that they are not alone, and it's okay to talk about their mental health struggles."

SF: How do you manage multiple projects and responsibilities as a creator without experiencing burnout?

Rosena Fung: "I’m always managing a lot because I have a lot of anxiety. The idea of not having a stable income is just too much for me to handle. It would actually detract from my creative work because I would be so worried about my next paycheck. For me, it’s important to know my limits and not be angry at them. I do what I can in the time that I have and try to be patient and gentle with myself. During the pandemic, having something tangible, like a book project, to work on, was stabilizing for me, but I recognize that for others, it might have been too much, and that’s okay too. Everyone processes crises differently."

SF: Has representation and being a role model as a creator of color come up with audiences especially young people?

Rosena Fung: "Definitely teachers and parents will mention that when have a class visit, it's very good for students to see a person of color as an author coming in. I guess it doesn't happen often. I don't know, though, because I only know for myself. And they often say it is so good for them to see. First of all, meeting an author in person gets kids excited, but also someone who is who is a person of color."

SF: What message do you hope to convey to readers, especially young people?

Rosena Fung: "I hope my readers take away the message that it’s important to be kind and gentle with themselves. Life is a process, and everyone has their struggles. In 'Age 16,' I explore the idea of coming to terms with oneself and understanding that life doesn’t always have a neat and happy ending, but that’s okay. Being kind to yourself and understanding your limits are crucial in navigating life’s challenges."

SF: What message of kindness and positivity do you want to impart through your work?

Rosena Fung: "People ask me for advice, and I can give industry advice, which is fine. But ultimately, the advice for human beings is to be kind to yourself and be kind to other people. Truly be gentle with everyone. You don’t know what anyone else is going through. They have complex lives, and sometimes they can appear terrible, but maybe they’re just going through something. Just show kindness above all. I know it’s hard, and consider others as full human beings as well as yourself. It can be so hard to be good. You may think everything about you is not okay, but actually consider the fact that you are ok."

Exmiranda's Story: Finding Strength in Positivity

Exmiranda, @sincerelyexmiranda, Toronto, Ontario

-Rapper, Singer-Songwriter, Community and Anti-Racism Advocate, Cultural and Artistic Event Curator & Entrepreneur*

Complex Canada compared "Exmiranda's debut hip hop and funk record, "Funk Break", released in 2021 to a collaboration between Rick James, Janelle Monáe, and Prince. On her website, she describes herself as a rapper, advocate, entrepreneur, curator, cultural connector and everything in-between. Brittany Manu Otchere or "Exmiranda", her stage name, began releasing music in 2015. She graduated in Health Sciences from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (now called Ontario Tech University) and has held various jobs and roles in advocacy, consulting, community engagement and music.

SF: What advice do you have for young people dealing with self-doubt and burnout?

Exmiranda: "I would say the main thing is just knowing that the self-doubt will always be there. For me, it's a situation where there's so many times I feel self-doubt all the time. But it's just understanding that how you feel doesn't have to be the end result of what you're experiencing. You don't have to let your feelings direct your actions and be aware that self-doubt will come. Overall, it's what you do after that. When you feel self-doubt, and have those negative thoughts, and you're experiencing negativity for a period, all you have to do is go back to those things that help you get out of it."

"Being able to be compassionate with yourself and say, 'Hey, I understand that this isn't going to be a perfect journey.' There will be times when you might post something, and it gets no attention. There will be times when you might post something, and it goes viral. There will be times when, just as you're saying, you're comparing yourself to other people, and you don't see the end goal coming closer. It can be a little bit difficult. But being able to just be self-compassionate and understand that, hey, the process is actually the goal."

SF: How do you deal with the pressure of consistently making content and avoiding burnout?

Exmiranda: "It gets to the point where you feel like giving up because it's taking a lot of energy for you to be something you're not. And that's where you get a lot of burnout. And understanding that taking breaks is fine. There's lots of times where I might go a couple of days without posting because I don't feel like posting. But there's times as well where I am on a roll where I would consistently post every single day. I did that for months on end, and there was a lot of positive results.

But there was also times where I didn't post for maybe a couple of days or so. So just being able to be compassionate to yourself is very important. So you can actually have that longevity, and it can be sustainable for you, and you don't feel like you have to give up or end up giving into those feelings.

You're always going to have self doubts, and that's something I've realized. But you have to understand that's the human experience."

SF: How important is it to create an environment filled with positive messaging

Exmiranda: "Every artist needs to deliberately create an environment of positive messaging that allows them to continue to believe in themselves, because society is going to constantly tear you down. And if you don't have that in people, you have to manufacture that through creating an environment where you're listening to people, even though they may not be in your inner circle. You can create an inner circle or an inner mastermind. These are people who are not necessarily even alive, and you're manifesting them through their historical works and quotes and stuff."

Mia Dang's Story: Finding Balance as a Creative

Mia Dang, @miapear, Mississauga, Ontario

- Illustrator and tattoo artist

Mia Dang is a Vietnamese-Canadian illustrator, visual storyteller, and tattoo artist based in Mississauga, ON, Canada. She moved the Canada at the age of 18 and has a Bachelor of Design in Illustration from OCAD University in Toronto and a Master of Art from the University of Brighton, UK. Her work focuses on "cute, playful, illustrative styles with an emphasis on animals, nature, and Asian-related themes". As an immigrant who has lived in Ho Chi Minh (Viet Nam), Toronto (Canada), and Brighton (U.K), Mia seeks to find a middle ground with multicultural influences and uses storytelling with illustrations to share her experiences. Her yet to be published fictional graphic novel, "Diaspora Mise-En-Place," uses the image of Pho, the Vietnamese beef noodle soup, as a metaphor for representing student immigrants' experiences in the Western world.

Dang started a YouTube channel in 2020 during the pandemic as a way to share her art and creative process with others online. It eventually grew to incorporate more personal storytelling about her life and background. She started a second YouTube channel bout her personal immigrant experience and lifestyle in Canada.

We spoke to Mia about her creative process, mental health and burnout. She talked about the importance of taking breaks.

SF: Have you experienced burnout or felt that you were burning out?

Mia Dang: "Yes, absolutely. I think, I don’t know if this is controversial or not, but I think being a creative equals to being burned out. Because there's so many things that we want to create, but our energy and our creative energy is limited."

Mia explains that putting all your energy in the work can lead to unhappiness with the work itself.

Mia Dang: "So much of the time I was working, I spent all my energy creating art and also creating content for YouTube. There were times when I hated all my work. I just want to give everything up. So I have experienced burnout quite often especially after I graduated. When I'm in the grind of working, sometimes I forget to eat or I forget to take a walk. I forgot to take care of myself."

SF: What did you change you take care of yourself and remember to eat?

Mia Dang: "It does happen here and there when deadlines are coming up and there are projects that I need to finish. Now, I have a habit of balancing my work. I only set a few hours a day to work. And the rest of the time, take care of my well-being, taking a walk, exercise, cook, or talking to friends." It's called healthy productivity, where you work and you live, too. I use an iPad. I only allow myself to work around three to four hours in the morning. And then when the iPad alarm rings at 12 pm, I know it's time to eat."

SF: How have you overcome challenges as an immigrant and a creative on your journey so far?

Mia Dang: "I think exercising and eating healthy helps you see your life in general more clearly, not just creative work. If your body isn't healthy, then your mind won't be healthy. I do feel when I exercise and eat well, I feel more comfortable. It affects the way I look in my work and I love the way I create. When I feel those feelings, I don't hate my work anymore and I feel good and grateful for everything that I have."

Mia talks the need to of find a way to move past the struggles of being a new immigrant

Mia Dang: "I try to be raw and honest with the struggles that I'm facing, but also all the solutions that I came up with along the way. That's how it is being an immigrant. Even though you have to struggle, you need to find a way to just get through it."


📰📊 White House Hosts First Creator Economy Conference: The Biden administration is set to host the first-ever none day Creator Economy Conference in August at the White House. It will focus on issues like data privacy, fair pay, AI, and mental health with top social media personalities and industry experts. 📱💼 A 2023 Pew Research report shows half of Americans are getting their news on social media and about one third under 30 years old get their news from TikTok. 🎥📲

📰🔍 Teen Mental Health May Be More Linked to Parental Abuse Than Social Media Use: The San Francisco Chronicle reported that while social media overuse is often blamed for the rise in teen depression and suicide 📱💔, analysis of CDC survey data shows that domestic abuse and mental health issues among parents and household adults are far more strongly linked to poor teen mental health 🏠🧠.

The CDC found that teens abused by adults are three times more likely to report poor mental health (51%) compared to non-abused teens (16%) 😢. Furthermore, 59% of abused and depressed teens spend five or more hours in front of screens every day, compared to just 38% of happier, non-abused teens 📺📊.

A shocking 55% of teens, specifically 63% of girls and 74% of gay, bisexual or nonbinary teens report being violently or emotionally abused by parents and household adults 🚨👩‍👦🏳️‍🌈. Despite this finding, teen social media use often gets blamed as the main reason for their poor mental health 🤔📉.

📉Authenticity and Transparency Key for Influencers in Shifting Landscape: Glamour Magazine reports the era of the mega-famous influencer is fading, as the oversaturated social media landscape makes it increasingly difficult for new personalities to break through and achieve mainstream recognition. Few have managed to transcend their online fame and become household names in recent years.

Factors contributing to this shift include the rise of niche communities on platforms like TikTok, 📈 changing brand priorities that emphasize engagement over follower counts, and 👥 evolving audience expectations for authenticity and transparency. While internet fame is not dead, 🌐 influencers must now focus on building deep, sustainable connections with their audience over time to achieve long-term success in an increasingly competitive industry🏆, rather than relying on fleeting viral moments.