Cover Photo: photo courtesy of the author
photo courtesy of the author

How We Create Personal Myths, and Why They Matter

My parental separation was vastly less traumatic than what is happening to children at the border. But this narrative lives inside me.

This isDATA, a column by Angela Chen on numbers, nerdery, and what it means to live an evidence-based life.

You always want to make everything ugly.


It didn’t take long for Morgan to become frustrated with my suggestions. She wanted our hero to have more powers; I wanted her to be more ordinary. She wanted each interaction to be a Chekhov’s gun that would have meaning later; I stripped out the heavy symbolism and inserted meaningless scenes. I was forever undoing Morgan’s work, changing eyes from “emerald” to “green,” skin from “creamy” to just . . . skin.

You always want to see things in the most plain way possible,

Well,I don’t like all this narrative and symbolism.Things ugly and meaningless.

The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self.

New York Magazine

Angela Chen is a senior editor at Wired Magazine and the author of Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex, which was named one of the best books of 2020 by NPR, Electric Literature, and Them. Her reporting and essays have also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Guardian, National Geographic, Paris Review, Lapham's Quarterly, and more.