Because I know that 16-year old me will not appreciate a narrative advice from a 23-year old,
I wrote a poem that she’ll most likely pretend to brush off (but go back to when the lights are off).
People always say we are the geek generation. I feel offended when I hear that, not because I hate geeks. I AM A GEEK. They don’t understand that stereotypes ARE STILL stereotypes regardless of who’s on top. Labels are for commodities, not people. Stop using it to box us into what we can or should be. You’re a geek, stick to books or video games. Hey blonde cheerleader, be mean and bully this quiet girl who sits at the back row. Aren’t we pass that?
I’ve been there, excluded and confused about why I can only be this label that feels like a noose tightening around my neck. There’s no one to talk to because they’re also quietly suffering with their own labels. Graham Moore couldn’t have put it any better in his Oscar acceptance speech.
Think about it. Even those who build stereotypes reject being subjected to it because even they know, no one is ever just one thing. We’re far more complicated and interesting than that. That’s what makes us unique and different and… HUMAN. Embrace it. Love it! So every time you hear geek generation or jock central or whatever catchy handle society comes up with, reject it.
It’s probably one of the most overused words in the English dictionary. Often we don’t even know the gravity of the word when we make them. We hurry with our lives making one choice after another unaware of many who cannot exercise them or are too afraid to while the other half overuse and manipulate them without fear or caution because they can and we’re too oblivious or apathetic to notice.
Personally choices scare me, not that ‘what should I order’ or ‘is this pink enough’ kind but the ‘do I know where my life is going’ kind. That fear that wakes you up at 3 AM and leaves you sleepless until the light seeps through your shades. I lay there, staring at the ceiling asking myself if all the choices I made up to this point are those that I can live with, much more be happy with. I play different scenarios in my head. What if I went to a different uni? What if I majored in something else? What if I never met my best friends? What if I followed my heart more times that I followed my logic? Where would I be? Would I happier?
Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverge in a yellow road. I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” Doesn’t it get lonely though? Looking at the path few took, seeing only your track marks. Knowing full well that each time you look back or to your side, you won’t see anyone. You took the road less traveled by.
You know in your heart you SHOULD be happy because you made the good choice but there are days and more nights when you think there was a BETTER choice. Maybe you didn’t have to give up so much to get to where you are or where you wanna be.
I guess we all doubt our choices sometimes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 5 year old deliberating on another cookie before dinner or a dad setting aside money for his daughter’s college fund instead of spending in on booze in the pub with his work friends. There are days when you’ll wallow in the ‘what ifs’. There’s no shame in that. Find comfort in the fact that it’s human nature to wonder especially when we’re given reasons to.
I’ve made a lot of screwed up decisions in my life and I’m sure I’ll make a few more. To be honest, there are times when I want a do over, a reboot, another shot at the opportunities I missed or trade for those I took but then I look at those people I’ve met, things I accomplished and who I’ve become, I feel a bit better. That’s not to say my demons are always silent, they still claw at me some days and make me feel like an utter failure.
I guess I want tell you that if you ever feel stupid or annoyed or defeated about the bad choices you’ve made, don’t beat yourself up further. You’re allowed to make them and you can feel bad for them. You can hang around under a dark cloud for a bit and think about why it didn’t work out. You don’t have to move on in an instant as people expect you too. YOU CAN FEEL, YOU’RE ALLOWED THAT MUCH.
Of the hundreds of choices we make in a day, at least one is bound to be wrong. That’s okay. Just remind yourself that there’s always a takeaway in every choice, bad or good. Savor the good and learn from the bad and hope that you’ll make not just better choices but CHOICES THAT ARE BETTER FOR YOU.
It’s been awhile since I last put up an entry and before I start sobbing and saying sorry for leaving you guys hanging, let me just say that I had a tough month writing 15 chapters of a book I’m hoping to publish. So please please put down the pitch forks, I’m not one to make excuses but my brain was fried (figuratively of course).
Today I thought it would be fun to write about a topic that inspired one of my book concepts and that is bullies– in all their colors and varieties. We already know about the obvious ones, which mind you are a scary lot but there are more subtle versions. They hide under the covers labeling themselves something more beautiful and attractive. The magpie in us grovel for the promise that it oh so boldly declares then we realize later on that the shine it has is all that it is, shine.
The inspiration came from a nostalgic evening of coffee with 2 of my best friends- after they convinced me to keep writing on this blog because THEY ACTUALLY READ IT AND LIKE IT. Imagine my surprise when they started talking about entries I wrote, I mean these are my overly critical, highly intellectual and difficult to please best friends we’re talking about. My self loathing subconscious found that difficult to believe and quite frankly, I was speechless for a few moments.
On the same night, we realized a lot about the path we took together in college. We gave up so much to be that image of an over achieving student whose main goal is to get the best grades, manage as many extra curriculars and maintain as few creative, non logical pursuits as we can. Labels and expectations- the box they made for us- those were our bullies.
I’ve finally learned that bullies don’t just come in different kinds of people, they come in every shape, size or form. I may not have been shoved around or locked in a janitor’s closet by some teen fiction stereotype queen bee but I’ve been confined in a society where there’s a predetermined standard of beauty- one which some may claim I don’t fit. That norm, that belief, that is my own brand of bully. It follows me around, taunting me to cinch around my curves and smoothen my edges to fit this overused mold already made for me.
When I found enough courage and fought back, told society to shove its size zero, fair-skinned, blonde perfection up their bums, another bully manifested from the shadows- one far stronger and more paralyzing than its predecessor. The firm grip of its manacle, over sized hands smother me with ridicule of how success has and will continue to elude me because the career I chose to love and devote my life to will not earn me millions, buy me a mansion or a jet-setting lifestyle.
Your bullies may be far more frightening or life threatening than mine. I can’t be the judge of that and I won’t try to. If there’s one thing I took away from dealing with bully after bully, people and circumstances alike, they’re never as easy to deal with as they they seem on the outside. It’s a bully for a reason. They know your weakness and capitalize on it as much as they can so you’re hurt in the worst possible way. They planned the perfect, most gruesome way to twist and turn the knife they stuck to your heart so you’re left clutching at it, trying to rip it off and stop the bleeding.
But if you don’t know already, let me be the first to tell you, you’re far stronger than any of your bullies. You have the ability heal and those battle scars will remind you every day of how you fought and how you deserve to be happy- HOW YOU’RE WORTH A LIFE YOU CHOSE TO LIVE and not one chosen by some thug or an unfortunate circumstance for you.
You get one shot at life my friend, don’t let some bully take that away from you.
Who here loves Chinese food? *raises hand eagerly and flings it back and forth* Well, I live for them. I find them very comforting, probably because my parents have this favorite Chinese place we’d always go to when I was growing up. Their food is mouth-watering good and they’re not even that expensive.
Like in most Chinese restos, you get a fortune cookie after the meal (in this resto’s a case, a fortune cupcake- you might remember an entry I wrote about it awhile back) and they’re filled with some Chinese wisdom that, according to the waiters, is especially suited for you. Somehow the kitchen gods guide their chefs to put just the right message for the right person- they say.
It got me to thinking. Do we really get the perfect fortunes for us or do we make it fit perfectly? Like when we ask for signs, do we really wait religiously for something to manifest proving that the universe wills us to make a decision or do we interpret random, uncoordinated events as more than they are- just events that happen from time a to time b?
I think that when we want our fortunes to make sense, it does and often when we want to act all skeptical, it doesn’t. We can blame the fates for most of it but partly we too play a role in those fortunes. We interpret them, weave them into our lives so it makes sense or it doesn’t. Maybe that’s why a lot of people believe in fortunes because secretly and maybe subconsciously, they actually know what they want that note to read. A note that says, ‘stay strong’ may mean a million different things to a million different people, probably so far from what it means to you but it doesn’t make it any less true.
There is a reason why fortune-telling, mediums and the like is a million dollar industry. We love filling in the blanks. We almost can’t help but respond to random thoughts and make it our own. Does this mean that fortune cookies are of no sense? Does it mean we have to believe messages sent to us by the universe are all a figment of our creative minds? Depends, on you that is. I know I’ll still be very happy to get my free fortune cookies at any resto and I’ll probably still frequent temples to get my palms read
I’m also reminded that in the end I have the power to interpret those fortunes. I can make them into anything I want them to mean. It’s true for everything else that happens in life. You can blame it on fate but how you weave it to your life, that’s on you.
hot cheerleading blonde
toned, jerk of a guy jock
fiery, all hell will break lose redhead
self righteous honor student
save the world humanitarian
leather jacket wearing bad boy
Why have we allowed the world to brand us? Put us into cliques and categories, that yes, may in some ways be accurate but in more ways are not. Why can’t the school clown also be the hot jock or the crazy overachiever also the fun party girl? You’re more than one thing and allowing yourself to suppress the diverse parts of your personality is not fair to you or the world deprived of the things you could have done.
I hate that because I’m the someone who reads Plato and obsesses over current events, I’m instantly branded as a geek which I am by the way but that’s not all I am. Sadly, that’s all people wanna hear about because that’s the brand. How often to we hear rumormongers talk about subjects of their conversations as that girl who failed Math, that boy who plays football, the kid with a limp? Really? Of all the facets a person could have, there’s only one that would be his label for the rest of his life.
I know it’s discouraging to be more than the name, the label, the handle but no one is ever just one thing. That’s beauty of being human, we’re so diverse and we have to honor that regardless of what society dictates us to be. I am a rational, book loving, history-obsessed non conformist who also happens to love art and travel and spontaneity. It’s oxymoronic and probably confusing to those who haven’t met me but that’s just who I am.
I’ve lived too long trying to choose one side of me over the other, reeling one in as I explore the other. You shouldn’t have to make that choice so I’m telling you right now, don’t do it. Don’t compromise because your label limits you.
When what you see in front of the mirror doesn’t please you, doesn’t mean you should change you. Perhaps you should change your point of view.