A mental health advocate, global citizen, and polyglot learning to use her voice

Photo of author from author.

Growing up, writing wasn’t my strong suit. My test scores and teacher comments proved it, and I went through years of people around me telling me I wasn’t good at writing. You tell a kid something, and they’re going to believe it.

Little did they know that tiny Toffy was actually a good writer, but she just needed to be supported in the right way. She needed people to believe in her to break free of all those voices that told her otherwise.

College allowed her a fresh start in a new city to realize that hey, I can write!


Being white is a privilege, not a qualification

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I’ve heard so many stories of caucasian people going on a post-graduation backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, falling in love with the region, and then deciding to teach English so they can stay. Heck, 90% of the white people on Tinder in Thailand are all English teachers.

And we make it so easy for them. We practically roll out the red carpet. We put the West on a pedestal, aspiring to whiteness and its ideals, language, and values.

So it’s no surprise that when it comes to education, we place the same emphasis on whiteness. In various teacher postings I’ve…


A rational approach to online dating

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It was 2019 and I had just moved to a new city.

You know what that means — time to explore! And dating just happened to be a way to simultaneously explore the city, and well, date — two birds with one stone.

It was the first time I’d really gotten into using the apps, having only previously engaged with them through the periphery.

I was surprised at the volume of people you could match and potentially meet, and how relatively low effort it was, everything happening at the flick of a finger.

Pretty soon, I had a lineup of…


A PSA to normalize periods and fight the stigma

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I was in my late teens and my mom and I were on a road trip with her friend and their family. I felt my period make its grand appearance, so I told my mom and asked her if we’d be stopping at a gas station soon since I needed pads. She called out to her friend’s husband, who was driving, and asked if he could pull over so she could buy some water.

We have water,” he called back, handing her a bottle.
No, water for the campsite,” she said.
We have enough,” he replied. …


5 ways you can be reading better

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When people talk about their goals or resolutions, I always hear the mention of reading more. Although I read quite a fair bit already, I was no exception. Going into 2020, I set my reading goal at 40 books, and when the pandemic hit, I was able to dedicate even more time to reading and breeze through 52 books in the year.

But after reflecting upon my 52-book adventure, I realized there were times I was reading just for the sake of finishing the book to add to my count. There were times I was stuck in a book when…


To cancel or not to cancel, that is the question

Photo of Chrissy Teigen from Variety.

We’re here in 2021 and more and more, celebrities and public figures are being held accountable for their actions. Chris Harrison, long-time host of The Bachelor, has taken a permanent leave of absence after coming under criticism for defending a Bachelor contestant’s racist behavior. A Serbian volleyball player was banned after performing a racist slant-eye gesture two weeks ago, something that did creep by unnoticed when it happened back in 2017. All of this is to say, we’re living in an era where we won’t tolerate injustice and we’re not afraid to keep people accountable for their actions. …


Your education doesn’t define you

Photo of author provided by author.

“Where did you go to college?”
“Oh, in Los Angeles.”
“And where did you do grad school?”

In Philadelphia.”

When I meet someone new, this is how my ideal “where did you go to school” conversation would go. Plain and simple, divulging only city names, so we can bond over the struggles of LA traffic or Philly cheesesteaks (which aren’t even that good tbh), which is arguably the important part when meeting someone new: finding commonalities and similarities to connect.

Where things would get uncomfortable for me is when people would further probe.

“Where exactly?”
“UCLA.”
“Oh wow, and what about grad…


The journey matters as much as the destination.

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Whenever I tell folks I enjoy learning languages, I am usually met with wonder and admiration — “How do you have the time for that?” “I could never do that.” “Wow, that’s some dedication!”

While I appreciate the admiration, learning a language is honestly an undertaking that anyone can do. Like trying to pick up a side hobby, you just have to stay motivated, dedicated and intentional.

When I get them to realise that they can also do this if they wanted to, the next question is then, “How can I learn?”

So here I am, divulging all my secrets…


How your wardrobe choices affect the world around you

Photo courtesy of Tohsang Cotton Village

I had the pleasure of escaping city life and spending the last two-ish weeks visiting my friend, Prairie, in the Northeast of Thailand where she owns a cotton village that produces sustainable fabrics. They are involved in the whole process from growing cotton seeds all the way to turning them into textiles. Through this, she creates jobs for local artisan women, uplifting the economy and helping the environment.

Being there during the lull of Covid, we got to chat more about sustainable clothing. Prior to this, the only thing I knew about the realm of sustainable clothing was limited to…


OPEN LETTERS

Get some damn earphones

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

To the Person Taking a Work Call in a Public Place,

I get it. We’ve shifted heavily to online meetings and sometimes you need a change of scenery, so you go cafe camping for a day. Or, you have a personal appointment you need to get to so you need to take our call outside. It happens, and I’ve been there. Totally okay to take your call on the go!

But please, for the love of God, can you please have some common decency and get some earphones?

Because as the person sitting next to you in the cafe, I…

Toffy Char

part-time globe trotter | full-time justice warrior | lifelong reader and learner | co-founder of MindTerra (mindterra.co), a global mental well-being community

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