2014: Life Lessons
by The Dreamer
I really like doing this kind of jog down memory lane posts, because reflecting is fun. Ha. So basically this will be a random mash-up of memories/lessons that 2014 has imparted to me.
Recently I lost my old external hard-drive. It contained nonsensical footage of basically every day of my life. Mostly they were so shaky that I got nauseous watching them. But filming was my way of collecting memories, and however irrelevant those footage was, I always thoroughly enjoyed my cringe-fest. I have my recent footage in my computer, but those dated way back, up to four years ago, were only kept in that external drive.
Fooling around with my friends, my silly commentaries when travelling with excessive zooming in and out of stupid stuff…all gone. I’m a forgetful person, so I rely on this media to jolt my memories.
So you could basically imagine my devastation when I lost it. I was literally that close to tears.
I’m trying to work on my fear of loss which sometimes cripples me very badly. I dealt with this loss by locking myself in my storeroom. It was extremely cramped and stacked up with so many boxes that if I elbowed one, it would literally be death by box-avalanche. Inside the boxes contained my prized essays, old toys and yellowed storybooks. I loved the smell of my storeroom. It was musty, but the smell was something more–something I couldn’t quite place a finger on. I guess, I could only describe it as the smell of nostalgia. When I breathed in and surrounded myself with these sentimental items, it made me believe that everything would eventually be okay.
What frightened me even more was the fact that if I could be so shaken up by losing items like this, how would I react if I lost someone? It could be a family member, or a friend or even a future lover. When it came down to that, I doubted that hiding in nostalgia would solve anything. I’m still getting there, but at least I’ve acknowledged that fact, I guess.We’re always going to be losing things, people, sometimes even losing yourself. When I lost that harddrive, it felt like someone had carved out a part of my childhood from my heart, and it hurt. But I want to believe that everything is for a reason, that despite me losing it, at least once I had experienced it. And because I had experienced it, it has accumulated to make me the person I’ve become. So not everything is lost.
Reality vs Perception
There is two lessons I learnt that revolved around this topic.
#1: I remember after the bliss of getting straight As wore off, the reality started to sink in. Within the next five days, I had to choose my future path. And I freaked the hell out. I started to worry about what people would think about me if I chose the route of Poly. I started to worry that my hard work, my As, would be reduced to nothingness if I really decided to take a Poly course. (Sorry if this sounds really superficial of me, but it’s the truth. So face it.) But at the same time, I was so hesitant to choose the path of Junior College, especially following the footsteps of going into my sister’s prestigious (freaking elite, might I add) school. I heard of nightmarish stress, heard of biasness, and I was afraid I couldn’t take it. In the end, in a semi-selfish plunge towards glory, I chose Junior College. I hope that it will not be a choice I would regret, but in the end, reality isn’t always perfect. Because my desire leaned towards acknowledgement and bringing my parents (and technically, myself) pride, I would have to build my future around a choice which will definitely require more hard work. We’re teenagers and we dunno what we’re doing with our lives. We’re unsure if we will fail or succeed today, tomorrow, next week, in five years…it’s very uncertain for us right now,and it will be probably be till we die, but I gotta say that I’m going to pluck up the courage and love myself and my choices since the future will forever be hazy anyway, so I should just charge ahead towards the fog with a confident mind and heart.
#2: John Green once said, “Just remember that sometimes the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.” I used to idolize this friend a hell lot. She was model tall, model thin, and by society’s standards, pretty. She got the attention of boys with a flick of her hair. I think my friends reading this know who I’m talking about. But after actually getting to know her, I started to…doubt the words that she said. She sounded melodramatic, shallow at times, and very extreme. I still regard her as someone who is fiercely enthusiastic and passionate, but I told myself to stay rational around her. In other words, my perception of her changed. My image of her having it all put-together shattered. To me, she suddenly seemed like a vulnerable being who couldn’t even comprehend herself and piece herself together.
When I had a chat with her recently, she listed down the things that I possessed that she was envious about: How I could literally accomplish anything, how I had the brains and the “personality” (whatever that meant) and how I would probably go the furthest in life in our mini gang. Her words really worried me. She was so caught up in seeing things that I supposedly had, but she failed to realize that I, too, had a shitload of flaws and that I wasn’t some superwoman that she had described me to be. Heck, I’m this idiot in life that can’t operate a washing machine. She had painted me, in her head, to appear as someone who had my life all together. I’m also surprised. To me, I used to see her the exact same way.
She also mentioned to my friend, “You’re really, really so lucky. You have good parents who are rich and don’t care about your studies. You live in this gorgeous house. You don’t have to worry about anything.” Even when my friend meekly confessed, “But I only see my dad once every three months, I don’t have good grades…my life isn’t perfect. ” she ignored that statement and basically started telling us about her sad life, how she wanted to commit suicide etc.
Where am I going with this again? I should also mention she’s doing things that she doesn’t love doing? Which makes things seem like a burden to her. I guess I just learnt that it’s normal to feel that we could be doing something much better with our life, or if we were this or that our lives could be perfect, but it’s all not realistic. It’s a flaw of humanity – a flaw of comparison. And I guess when we feel unmotivated or unsatisfied with our lives, it’s definitely time to take a step back and think about what’s holding us back, what it is that is making us feel this way. There’s always gonna be road bumps, but when you’re doing something that you genuinely like, your life is gonna seem like an challenge instead of a handicap. So I’m saying that we’re always gonna want to pursue things that we don’t have, but it’s no use getting caught up in that, and instead we should spend time flourishing the talents and our current interests instead, and of course, doing the things that we love to do.
I deal with insecurities all the time, and I’m sure so does every single being in the world. My latest insecurity with my body is either my flabby thighs or my jaw. Mostly my jaw. I look at the mirror all the time, trying to see why my teeth don’t align, trying to convince myself that I don’t seem funny when I talk…it’s really exhausting. I literally hate this part of my body. But then I still remember very vividly that I had a friend randomly come up to me and say, “Hey, Jean. You have a really nice jaw line.” I was so flustered. Partly because that was legitimately the only thing she said to me before walking away, and also because I never thought that one of my biggest insecurities was something that others noticed as attractive. Not something that made me tinged with more ugly, but something that made me more beautiful. And a few weeks later, another friend also pointed out to me that she really liked my jawline. I guess I just have to say that insecurities are dumb. I regret having wasted the time teaching myself how to talk in an unnatural way to make my jaw look less slanted.
Another insecurity that I have is my writing. I write alot, but I have so much trouble throwing it out in the open and to show it to other people. I’ve written many short stories in my free time, but they have never seen the light of day, and I’m afraid of being criticized. Deathly afraid. I’m afraid of receiving questionable looks, forced applause by friends, or negative energy thrown at me. That’s the thing about art I guess. Same goes for my videos. I edit and I create videos, but they’re buried somewhere in my thumbdrive…only for my viewing. It’s quite sad, because I do want to share, but I’m scared of what sharing my content will bring for me. I genuinely don’t think my writing or my films are all that great, and I definitely don’t think I am talented at all, despite my friends telling me that. And if I have difficulty accepting compliments, can you imagine me receiving backlash? I would just want to rot in the pits of hell and never surface back to Earth again.
But bottom line, another John Green quote, because John Green is my hero (whispers in background: DFTBA!!!) “Those awful things are survivable because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be.” Other people’s opinion of you is not your opinion of you. Love your own skin and love your own work and love, love, love yourself. Yes, it’s important for us to feel appreciated at times, but we cannot do things just to get the approval of others. Like, if we stay in a friend group just because they’re the definition of cool or whatever. In that case, you might as well be that person you’re trying to fit in with. You’re not yourself and you’re not different and that’s like being a load of crap. And if you hide your work and never reveal them, you will never know the possibilities and opportunities that it will bring to your life. I’m still working on my confidence for revealing my work someday. Nobody’s rushing me but myself.
I’m going to leave my 2014 inspirations for another post since this one is getting long and naggy. Sorry if you had to put up with my incessant talking…this is my way of de-stressing and piecing everything together for myself. But it all seems clearer to me…I guess 2014 really did teach me some useful stuff in the end.
j e a n x x