Anna and the Art of Authenticity


If you’ve ever read the Great Gatsby, you’ll know the narrator, Nick Carraway, seems like a stranger in his own life. He is an observer, watching as his life unfolds in the third person. One of my favorite quotes from Nick is “I was both within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” I feel that in my own life at times. The hustle of it all can be overwhelming, and oftentimes I feel like I have no control. I realize, the further away I get away from my authentic self, the less I feel in my own body. I become a marionette held up by the expectations that guide me. 


Being creative is a way to escape the hold of these strings, and that’s something creator Anna Ho embodies. Being a sophomore at Ross Business School, she is no stranger to the pressure to achieve and how stifling it can be.


Me: So what’s it like being a business student? It seems like there is a lot of pressure there. 


Anna: *sighs and laughs* It’s definitely difficult, they make it set up in a way where everything is so competitive. 


Me: How does it affect you to be in such an environment?


Anna: You know it can be isolating. Sometimes it feels like in a world of yellow people, I’m a red person. 


Me: Yikes, that does not sound fun. How do you deal with that, being a red person in a yellow-person environment?


Anna: Honestly, I think it’s just about doing what makes you happy. When I am myself, there are always going to be people who judge me. No matter what I do, or what I wear, I find that people can be passive-aggressive about it. At the same time, when I am myself, other people appreciate that. They’ll look at what I wear or something and say “I like what you’re doing.” That’s something I find really nice cause it feels like it’s okay to express myself the way I want.


Me: So it’s about being authentic?


Anna: Exactly.


Me: Might I ask who the authentic you is?


Anna: *laughs nervously* Uhh.. good question. 


Talking to Anna, I was immediately comforted by her energy. I have the feeling she’s the type of person to sit you down and treat you like a friend whether or not you’ve known her for 10 minutes or 2 years. She puts this energy into what she creates. A dancer since she was 7, she is used to using her body as a tool for expression. Perhaps that’s what drew her to fashion.


Me: I know you’re into fashion, so got any style tips?


Anna: So many. I’ve tried so many different styles throughout my life and I think it’s just a matter of interest. Honestly Pinterest, do you have Pinterest?


 Me: Yeah *sighs* It fuels my shopping addiction.


Anna: Girl, same.


Both: *Laughs*


Anna: No, but it’s fun though. Also “what are you wearing” videos in New York. People in New York go all out.


In addition to fashion and dance, Anna likes to explore new realms of creativity. She’s begun journaling more often to relieve stress and hopes to own her inner grandma by learning how to crochet. She’s made me want to try new things too, and she does a good job selling the idea of podcasting. It must be the business student in her. 

“Mind Maps Podcast” with Anna Ho


Me: Okay so speaking of podcasts, you have a mind maps podcast right? What was the inspiration for that?


Anna: It was actually high school. I took this one class with my French teacher who also taught a news broadcasting-type class. He was super into videography and I was too. Anyway, he talked to us about how easy it was to set up a podcast using this platform called Anchor, which basically takes care of all the podcasting logistics for you. It uploads straight to Spotify and everything.


Me: So what you’re saying is I could just start a podcast right now?


Anna: I mean…


Me: So what’s the mind maps podcast about?


Anna: It was about exploring different people’s mindsets outside of my little bubble. At first, I just interviewed my friends but eventually, I got to branch out and talk to other people. It was kind of my way of learning more about other people.


Anna agrees that Ann Arbor can be a bit of a bubble at times, with people constantly chasing success. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the rat race of it all. Her mind maps podcast is a way of branching out. Through her podcast, Anna has managed to talk to many different types of students, professors, and professionals. She has gotten to know their perspectives on the world. Her favorite interviewee was a British flight attendant, who lives a fun life far removed from the everyday stresses of college students. She likes how everyone has a story to tell, one that is unique to them.


It’s interesting to view our lives this way, as stories in the middle being told. As young students, we can get caught up in our own lives, and forget those around us. Sonder is the word for it, this profound awareness that people are living lives just as complex as our own. It’s a realization that opens life up a bit, that frees us to live life authentically, acknowledging there is no way our stories can be the same as someone else’s. Reminding us to own our individuality.


Me: So back to the authenticity question. Who are you at your most authentic self?


Anna: Hmm…I feel like my authentic self is just somebody who doesn’t care what other people think, someone who does things for themselves. It’s about doing things that make me happy, not because I think someone expects or wants that from me, but because it feels genuine to me.


Fortunately for Anna, she has found some like-minded people in Ross, other creators looking to express themselves. While in the same class, Anna met Sophie and Simon. Later, they met Priya and formed Campus Creators. A new student organization focused on giving creators a safe space to come together and foster creativity. Reaffirming the idea that it’s okay to be authentic, no matter how that looks. 


Find Anna and Campus Creators Here:



ig: @mindmapspodcast

ig: @oncampuscreators

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