How trauma affects us – let’s look at our behavior patterns

I watched Paris Hilton’s documentary on trauma and I’ve been in this strange headspace. I won’t comment on the documentary itself because this post is not a review. I just find it so morbidly fascinating to analyze where our behavior stems from. We have to dig deep within ourselves to become more self-aware and accountable.

Featured photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Last year, I purchased a book about trauma called The Body Keeps Score. (I still haven’t gotten around to finishing it. I know, shame on me ahaha)

The thing I learned about trauma is that it doesn’t always show itself in obvious ways. It’s not always something horrific that happens to you. It doesn’t always look like what we stereotypically associate with trauma. Even the definition of trauma can be debated. If something bad happened to you, which continues to affect you to this day, is that not trauma? Does it have to be a singular instance of abhorrence?

You’re not dramatic if you say “Hey, I experienced something bad and it caused me to start acting in a certain way. That experience was traumatic for me.” I believe every single person walks around carrying some degree of pain. The world continuously hurts us and we continuously heal. We should actively try to heal because nobody deserves to walk around festering toxicity. You don’t deserve to carry unresolved pain. Your loved ones don’t deserve to get burned by your unresolved pain. You don’t deserve to face setbacks in your career because of personal issues.

The first step of healing, or at least becoming more self-aware, is to acknowledge the not-so-good traits we have and find where they stem from.

Without going into more detail than I’m comfortable sharing, I’ll give a few examples from my life. By the end of this post, you may be thinking ‘wow, Jin has some issues’. And that’s fine, because don’t we all?

  • I used to a very insensitive person because I was insulted a lot growing up and thought ‘insult humor’ was normal. I had to learn that my words have consequences. Just because I was called stupid doesn’t mean it’s okay for me to call someone else stupid.
  • After I had an awful bout of depression in university, my humor got very morbid. Laughing at myself and making dark jokes about myself became this sort of defense mechanism. It helps me not take things too seriously, and that’s good when I need to calm down and think. I feel like this is neither a good or bad thing. It’s just something that happened.
  • I have road anxiety because of an incident when I was a kid. Thankfully everything turned out to be okay, but I still remember when we got that call. I remember being terrified of losing a loved one. I still remember the kind of tofu my mom was cooking when that call came. Since then, I had an innate distrust of other drivers. I always feel like a car is going to come out of nowhere. I’m hypervigilant even when I’m on the sidewalk.
  • I know I can be appearance-obsessed. It’s something that the media instills in young girls. The specific instance when it started for me was when a mean girl told a boy that I liked him. That boy pretended to vomit and said ‘she’s unattractive’. It happened in seventh grade, but I still remember it to this day. I feel like every single girl has a moment that makes her think “oh, am I ugly? How do I not be ugly?” I know I can judge too quickly based on appearances. That’s something I call myself out on.
  • One of my biggest issues is hypervigilance. It’s hard to feel safe around anyone. I can’t even trust authority figures to have people’s interests in mind. I have trouble accepting compliments because I always think about what the other person wants in return. I always think ahead and plan for worst case scenarios. Sometimes, it turns out that I was correct not to trust someone. Other times, I overcomplicate the simplest things.
  • To prove my point about hypervigilance and paranoia, a loud airplane just passed by and my mind went straight to “oh my god, we’re going to get bombed. Something is going to fall out of the sky. There’s going to be a massive explosion and we’re all going to die.”

Last Christmas, I bought my best friend a shirt that says “more issues than Vogue.” Maybe I should have bought one for myself as well….

Anyways, the point of this post isn’t to be like “poor me, I got problems” or “you got a ton of problems!” I want you to take a moment and think about things that have happened to you and started patterns of behavior. Come up with at least 3. It’s up to you whether or not to share. Whatever you’re comfortable with!

The human brain is truly magnificent and mysterious. We can all become better people if we study how our own brains work. We can heal and prevent our issues from setting us back or hurting others.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for bearing with me. I know this post is a lot heavier and longer than my usual ones. Actually, this will be the last post I write for It’s been a great two years and I want to leave on a memorable note.

I wish you all the best in your personal and processional journeys!

You can still find me on my blog, where I will focus on beauty, smart consumerism, and heavier topics like these

Author: Jin Cao

I am a multi-faceted designer, fashion blogger, makeup enthusiast, lover of cats, and connoisseur of ramen! Writer of Main fashion writer of Find my work at

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