Influence me.

by The Dreamer

I’ve seen this tumblr post that says that we are not defined by numbers. We are not the circumference of our waist. We are not our cup size. We are not the number of calories we eat a day. We are not our grades.

Instead, I feel that I define people and myself included, by the music we listen to, the books we read, the words we speak. And all that has to do a lot with the influences in our lives. Today, I kind of feel the need to acknowledge the positive influences in 2014 that has basically molded me to the current me. These are the variables in my life, the kaleidoscopic choices that I want to indulge in and allow to soak into the depths of my soul.

Carrie Hope Fletcher

First on my list is this beautiful lady, Carrie. She has a youtube channel known as ItsWayPastMyBedtime and it’s my personal cup of feel-good tea. She has been honored the title of “Big Sister” to us Hopefuls, and I really do feel that she does earn that name for herself. She is encouraging, confident and a living example that dreams do come through. Ever since she was 16, she had a dream to play Eponine in Les Miserables, and I watched her slowly climb her way up – right from the bottom when she uploaded her cover of “On my Own” to when she announced that she had passed her theatre audition for Eponine, up to now, where she is publishing her own advice book that I am dying to read. (A book from a Youtuber that might actually have some solid quality.)

She is inspirational. The best part is that she is brave enough to show that she is insecure and vulnerable at times. Her past relationship with another Youtuber (Alex Day) had been manipulative and rocky, and I witnessed as she fell into a black vortex and then picked herself up again. In that dark stage of her life, she taught me the lesson of “Sometimes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others put on theirs.” She told us that it is okay to be occasionally selfish when you are going through rough times, and she has taught me that we should admit that we do need help. That voicing out that you’re not okay is an act of courage.

I feel that her video really spoke volumes to me in my darkest period, and it arrived in my subscription box in the most uncanny of times.

She has also enlightened me on being comfortable in my own skin. Albeit I still have insecure moments at times, but when I see my role model stuffing spaghetti into her face and chanting, “I don’t care! I don’t care!”, it’s a very comforting scene.

I also cannot emphasize enough that I connect with her on so many levels – from the way she obsesses over Disney, boys and books, to the way she describes her cringeworthy moments.

In a nutshell, Carrie is my little pocket sized angel of hope, and I am especially grateful for her online presence in 2014. My personal favourite from her videos is this little poem. I can watch it over and over again, and still feel uplifted.

Myles Wheeler

That GIF is an accurate depiction of who Myles actually is. Not cool without glasses, not cool with glasses. It’s kind of sad. And I love him. He has a youtube channel – Itsamemyleo and once you’ve clicked it, there’s no going back. It’s like being sucked into this vacuum cleaner of infinite weirdness. His titles don’t make sense, neither do his tags, which probably makes it the reason why he’s such an undiscovered gem, because his content is GOLD. His voiceovers are witty, and he can turn the most mundane of events into something humorous and intriguing. I think his level of awkward is – if not surpassing mine – almost on par with mine, which makes him such an relatable individual.

I remember at the start, when I hesitantly clicked one of his videos, the thought that crossed my mind was, “What the heck is this 240p quality Justin Bieber wannabe droning on about.” But I was somehow hooked. One video led to another. And then…I had gone through the entire life of Myles. I watched his transition from boy to man!!! (Like literally, I know the exact video where he broke his voice and when I watched it then, there I was wondering for a while, is Myles…different?) I hail him as the master of editing. He doesn’t need fantastic filming gadgets or scenery to make ten minutes of good-quality work.

He’s like the personification of Indie Music in a way. Undiscovered, raw and never a love at first sight. But it’s something you adore anyway.

I also recall that whenever I’m really, really upset about something…anything, all it takes is to click on one of his videos for me to feel better at myself. He’s kind of like a form of meditation. His videos calms me down. And also because of how he stumbles across even the smoothest path of life that makes me feel less like a failure in life (Sorry Myles I love you. Genuinely.)

I guess I have to say that not everyone will like him, but those that do will really come to appreciate his rare uploads.

So how has he influenced me in 2014? I guess he has taught me that it is okay to meet with bumps in life (he ended up taking a gap year because he was facing an existential crisis but his gap year sucked equally as bad too), and that one will always find something you enjoy doing and can do well in. You can tell he genuinely enjoys making these videos and it’s not for fame or anything. And it’s okay to feel lost and to feel like there is no aim in life. In a way, he ignites the hidden filmmaker in me.

Eleanor and Park


I can never get tired of this book. It is hands-down, my favourite romance fiction in my 16 years of existence. And I can say that it did impact me a lot in 2014 when I re-read it.

At first, I was annoyed at Eleanor. She cried because she looked pretty with make-up and was told so. It was as if she couldn’t believe that she had the potential to be that. It was like she couldn’t believe that she could someone like Park happen in her life. I was, like, can’t she just accept it and move on?

But, you see, later on, I realized that I was Eleanor. It’s very hard for me to swallow down compliments. Instead, it feels like a weight, a jab…it never feels good. I try to be optimistic, but the truth that surfaces is that I’m a pessimistic person at heart. And that’s okay. Sometimes noticing your weakness and your flaws is good, bitter medicine.

But sometimes it’s just acrid poison. Now that I’m in Junior College, my thoughts start to wander: What will a guy ever see in me? I doubt anyone will ever give me a second glance. I pale in comparison with everyone around here. God, why can’t I just look beautiful?

And then there are my friends that bet that I’ll get a boyfriend. Gosh, I’m honoured but I have to be honest. To me, that will be an alternate reality – a parallel world that ceases to exist. I honestly know that I shouldn’t think too much, that one day I will meet my Park. But how many Park Sheridans exist in this world, near me? Probably close to zero. Most guys are superficial pricks that cannot see past looks. And I will never certainly pass the standards of smoking hot, or even cute?

There is so much beauty in this world. it’s very hard to accept that I am one of them. I can feel so much beauty around me, in nature, the people, their actions. And this is just a miniscule slice of beauty. There is a galaxy of beauty out there – in the solar system, the universe. Infinite. Which makes whatever little beauty I possess (if I do) even more insignificant. And that makes my breath shudder and my legs wobble and my heart sink.

Sigh. Insecurities strike at the worst of times. And I do embrace my body…I do. But sometimes I wish it was more. That would make my life so much easier.

Eleanor and Park gives me hope…and unrealistic goals. And the thing is, Park isn’t attractive either. He’s a scrawny Asian kid who is semi anti-social.

Cest La Vie. Such is life.

Eleanor and Park makes me hopeful that somehow, someone can see me. Really me. See that I may not be beautiful (or perhaps if he thinks that I am than kudos to him), but I am art. And art isn’t supposed to be beautiful…it’s supposed to make you feel something. I hope I will make him feel a riot of everything.

(( I also do realize I mentioned positive influences, but this section seems more like a rant.))


Rookie Mag

My last major influence in my life has got to be Rookie. It is an online magazine that has somehow conveniently slotted itself into my daily routines. Checking Rookie has become a ritual for me. I feel queasy when I forget to do so. Rookie is a feminist, nostalgic website that is like an upgraded, chic version of Aunt Agony. Again, it always finds a way to speak to me on a personal level. It talks unabashedly about all things girl, sex, love, friendship, and then there is also the talk on world issues. They talk about rape, disorders, the LGBT community and mental issues as well, just to skim the surface on the broad network of articles Rookie’s archives has. Basically, it is my personalised encyclopedia in a website. I love their fiction section, because the stories actually do make me feel like I’m living, and I love the comics, zines, art and poems as well.

I do know for a fact that I have grown as a woman because of Rookie. It has made me stand up straighter…chin up, chest out, face the world. I have an obsessive girl crush on Rookie and I’m not even hiding it. It is honest, stylish and poignant, and because Tavi, the creator and editor of Rookie, is one of my biggest role models in life, Rookie has crept up into a special untouchable place in my heart.

Because of Rookie, I’ve discovered books that I’ve loved. I’ve discovered music that gets the blood pumping to the veins in my ears. I’ve discovered The OC – one of the best TV series ever, and I have become more in touch with my vintage vibe and more experimental with my clothes. Also, the important thing is, they don’t just throw you unlimited, blinding optimism, like OKAY I KNOW YOU HAVE DEPRESSION BUT HERE IS SOME HAPPINESS SO SUCK UP YOUR TEARS RIGHT NOW. Rookie explains in graphic, raw detail. It speaks to you:  Hey, girl. I understand how you’re feeling. i understand what you’re going through. People hate you. You don’t feel like living. Yeah. Here’s the thing. I felt all that. I hated my therapist. I hated myself. And then, it slowly tells you how to pick yourself up. They make you feel intimate with the writing, because only people that have personally experienced that situation will write it, so it isn’t just some feel-good crap that floats around the internet. It’s truthful and relatable. And most of the time, it’s sassy and fun.

Basically, it is everything a teen girl needs, and I am somewhat reluctantly sharing this gem with whoever reads this. It’s awesome, and I want to keep it all to myself (selfish bitch!) but I also know how many girls out there will need a shoulder to lean on, and Rookie is that shoulder and that friend and that mother and that lover and that teacher for them.

Rookie makes me rebellious and confident and thoughtful. It makes me feel awesome. It makes me feel like a hot-blooded teenager.

钧 x x

j e a n x x