July 18, 2024

the overthinking queen

nymphia wind in her season promo look
the drag queen nymphia wind in the promo for rupaul’s drag race season 16. she’s wearing a green and black leather gown, long gloves, and holding a riding crop. on her head is a fascinator crown with arrows pointing away from her. hovering behind her is a close-up of her face. i don’t even want to know how long she spent lying on the floor to design this outfit.

Happy Pride month! Note: this post contains spoilers for the 16th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The season finale aired in April 2024, but it might still be new to you. This is a spoiler warning if that matters to you!

RuPaul’s Drag Race, an american reality show, recently completed its 16th season on the air. It’s a celebration of queerness and the art of drag that had created multiple international and domestic spinoffs. I’ve been watching since season 5 (wow/yikes!) when my husband introduced me to the show. In the April finale RuPaul crowned Nymphia Wind as the season winner. Nymphia became the second Asian and first East Asian drag queen to win the show. This connection to my own background made her win feel special. But I relate to her much more in a different way. Folks who watched the season know that our winner is also the first overthinking queen of the series!

Nymphia is a Taiwanese drag queen who now lives in New York City. We saw her brand of humor from the first moment she entered the room in a silly banana-themed outfit. Each week she showcased to the audience her fashion-forward looks on the runway. Late in the season, we saw her vulnerability and watched her learn to transform that into a strength. But throughout the season, backstage, Nymphia was a bundle of nerves.

Week after week, the cameras caught a queen freaking out. In one episode, the queens had to design and sew their own runway look. While everyone else worked, Nymphia spent part of the show laying on the floor too stressed to move. And then she won the challenge! Oh, and then she won the show! In an interview, Nymphia said, “That is my natural process — I complain, I whine, I stress out, I self-doubt, and then ultimately, I know what I need to do and manage to pull it together.”

drag queen nymphia wind in a gown designed to look like bubble tea
Nymphia Wind opening her boba tea-themed gown to reveal boba balloons floating skyward. i loved this moment so much i made my own gif of it!

I related hard to Nymphia the very first time she showed the stressed-out side of herself. She was just like me! Some decisions I agonize over, often longer than I care to admit. I’ll spend hours or even days worried about how to make sense out of a big project I’m working on.

I loved watching Nymphia agonize over a challenge and then succeed at it. In a way, it felt validating to my own similar process. In a different interview, Nymphia explained how she made it work for her. “I personally can’t stop intrusive thoughts and negative feelings, but I can choose how I navigate those moments for myself.” Here are some of the ways that I’ve made it work for me.

the process is the process

Every time I agonize over something I find that it always works out. I wrestle with the critique that I’m wasting my energy. If I know it’ll work out, why not spare myself the stress? It’s a nice thought but it’s not one I can’t test. If I stressed about something that worked out, why would I risk not doing what works?

I’ve concluded that the agony is part of my process of getting to good. At times, there’s even a certain luxury to overthinking. It means I had time to obsess over something that mattered to me. I didn’t have to make a snap decision that might need adjusting later. I could hem, haw, and mull over the details. I could turn the problem over in my head long enough that it truly made sense to me.

stay present with loved ones

In her parody-memoir-turned-real-memoir, Nymphia wrote about what grounds her.

“For me, it has really helped to form relationships with people who have similar identities and experiences, and to spend time within our communities. For instance, having close friends like Felicia Oh, a Taiwanese drag artist also located in NYC, has really helped my mental health. Friends like her have welcomed me with open arms, encouraged me, and have been there to talk through challenges we experience as we continue to navigate a high-octane and competitive industry together.”

When I find myself in an agony cycle, I try to focus on who I can connect with. Depending on the issue, that’s my husband, my friends, my colleagues on a project, my parents, or my sister. They’re all wise in different ways and they’ve served as sounding boards when I’ve asked them to. I can count on them to hold perspectives that I don’t. That can help shortcut my stress, shift my thinking, or reaffirm a direction I had in mind.

I also spend time thinking with myself! I’ll meditate or take a walk or run. When I’m really wrestling with something, ideas or phrases will come to me in the shower or as I’m falling asleep. I try to write them down before I forget. If I can’t, I can only hope that they resurface again!

transform into energy

I joined the public speaking club Toastmasters when I was in college. The president of the club gave a speech the first meeting I attended. He explained that everyone feels nervous when they get up to speak in front of a crowd of strangers. The trick was to turn that nervousness into energy.

If you’re nervous, it could be that the topic or speech is important to you in some way. Channel that energy or your passion for the topic into a dynamic speech. Even after years of public speaking, I still have jitters that I turn into confidence.

I often apply the same approach to the projects I work on. I put my anxiousness into the product. I try to get to the root of my overthinking. Where do my passions lie with this issue? What do I want to get out of it? How do I want others to think or feel about it? I might not lie on the floor before a big meeting, but I would if it helped me get better results.

the overthinking me

Sometimes I worry that I’m not good enough at the work I do. I could be more articulate or thoughtful. I could approach problems in a way I haven’t thought about yet. I could learn a skill that would help me come up with a solution that nobody has tried before. I could do my work without the anxiety or stress that seems to be a part of my process.

But I too can take a lesson from Nymphia Wind. I will navigate the best way I know how. I am who I am. That’s all I need to be.

photo of josh martinez

my name is josh martinez. i have always loved trying to understand systems, and the systems that built those systems. i spend a lot of time thinking about how to get there from here.

i own and operate a consulting practice, Future Emergent.

say hello: josh[at]bethefuture.space