A Lick and a Promise

Before I say anything that will crush my soul, let me open by one positive remark: I am glad that I was capable enough to make it through the fourth month on the job.

That is to say, the rest of this post is just going to be me whining about how I am still set on not staying after the initially agreed period of employment.

May was pretty rough compared to the previous months because somehow I think I have reached the point when the universe be like, “Alright, you passed the basic bullshit, now is the time for you to be drowned on a shitstorm of daily Murphy’s law.” Days when I was just extremely mad or sad just increased in frequency. Also, there was one incident that just pulverized my spirit in a matter of minutes on a supposedly fine start of the weekend.

So, came June, I decided to see a professional help, despite all the skepticism because the institute that I found was associated with a theology school and fear of a lack of solution. I just needed a space where I can just spit all my anguish out in the open without worrying or annoying people around me, whom I have already been indebted to by just accommodating my blues. Quite as expected, I wasn’t really offered any solution despite the obvious one (i.e. “I guess it will be advisable for you not to revisit this line of work again in the future”), but I know that’s not why I was there, so that’s absolutely fine. But at least I managed to bring myself to let out all of the pent-up frustration I have had for months, and the disappointment I saw or heard from people around me when I gave them the benefit of the doubt and was honest with them about how I have been.

The counselor suggested that it might help when I try to come up with two things that I gain from this part of “learning process” I am in, and so I tried, only to fail miserably to keep it up after three days. But I guess this effort I am exerting to survive the remaining months by “shifting my mindset” should not be treated like a chore, lest I will think that there really isn’t anything good from it and then sink deeper in depression. Hopefully, I will notice more of them in the coming weeks. Although in all honestly, I just really wish December will come sooner.

One thing that helps me–kind of–to get through this week and pull me up whenever I was down, was this saying the counselor shared with me, that I think was from the Bible. At the end of our session she told me, “Just remember, each day has enough trouble of its own. Don’t let it drag you on for too long.” There’s this little voice inside me that goes, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring any religious references to this conversation, not to mention that I highly doubt it will sort out the nitty-gritty of me feeling stuck.” Yet, weirdly enough, in every end of the day, I’d find myself whispering in my head, “Each day has enough trouble of its own”, then I took a deep breath, exhaled a release and the anxiety of going down the to-do list for tomorrow, as well as the worries inside my brain self-anticipating for shit that will go down the next day, somehow subsided a little.

Not sure if this mantra will last the next eight months, nor whether the universe has reached the limit of any-shit-that-can-and-will-go-wrong in the life of me by then, but I sure do hope that I’ll make it to the fifth month in one shape. Or half. I’ll even settle for a quarter.

Or else, just take me in my sleep or whatever. At this point, I truly don’t see there’s still anything that is worth striving for if everything stays the same.

The Meek

Source: The meek.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone can just inherently be brave?

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone can be raised where bravery is encouraged? At least so that the society would show less tolerance on ignorance and injustice.

Oh, you think that’s how it goes in the world we live in? Well, think again.
It’s probably only something that is part of the school motto. Not so much in their curriculum. Not to mention that we all should scrape off whatever we learn at school to fit in the real world, even only for survival.

In fact, my mother did warn me once of how the acceptance and support to bravery in this world is a big, fat farce.

I remembered her frantic face when she saw my black eye at the teacher’s office. The kid who gave it to me–Bruce was his name, quite befittingly–and his mother was seated to my left. The principal went through what happened, and Bruce’s mother scolded him as she apologized to my mother and offered to pay for the medical expenses and all. My mother responded modestly while she kept her attention on my stoic demeanor.

We walked home hand-in-hand with each other, not saying a word. As we passed a nearby park, my mother broke the silence and decided it’s been a while since we watch the sun set. So she bought us an ice cream each and we sat on the bench across the duck pond, right at the direction of the almost setting sun.

“Your father would probably be proud that you chose not to punch him back, if that’s what you’re wonderin’,” she suddenly remarked, “he’d quote the Bible for it, too. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.”

I looked up at her and finally found my voice, “Do they really, Momma?”

She went silent briefly and said, “The meek don’t inherit the Earth, son. That’s just what the bold tell them, so they’ll get out of the way.”

She deliberately continued, “By somehow convincing the meek that they will have the world without having to work hard for it, the bold is doing half its part to maintain their position as the rulers of the world. By telling the meek to wait in complacency, the bold proves themselves superior.”

“So, you think I should fight Bruce back?” I inquired.

“Oh no,” my mother quickly answered, “I was just telling you your father will pick the wrong verse from the Scripture, take it out of context just to put a smile back on your face.”

She turned from her seat to put her hands over my shoulders and said, “I will say to you that not punching Bruce back does not mean you’re meek. Actually, you being punched simply because he doesn’t like being told off by you after he said girls are weak, I’d say that’s quite a brave thing to do. And I’m proud of you for that.”

I smiled back at her when I saw the beam on her face. The pain on my eye reminded me, “But it seemed like some people don’t like it when we are brave, Momma.”

She saw me cupping my blackeye with my hand, and said we’ll go to the clinic to have the doctor see to it, “but you’re right. People don’t like it when anyone stand up to them. Sometimes it leaves a bruise right here,” she pointed at my eye, then she hovered her finger to my chest, “sometimes, it leaves a bruise in here.”

“And sometimes,” she quietly added, “it’s hard to get away from constantly feeling the pain that maybe it’s easier to keep our heads down.”

I scrunched my eyebrows together trying to make sense what she just said, but then she brushed it off as she ran her hand through my hair saying, “Oh, what am I thinking? Maybe you’ll understand later when you’re older. But I really hope you wouldn’t have to go through it.”

We stopped by the clinic to get my eye fixed and went home for dinner. Little did I know that my mother was threatened to lose her job for 10 years at a nearby hotel because she was defending her coworker over a false theft report from a high-level guest. The coworker ended up resigning to prevent my mother for losing her job and herself from further embarrassment. In the end, she even told my mother, “At least I beat them up from firing me. And now I get to spend more time with the kids, so it’s okay, Jane. Don’t worry about me.”

If it weren’t for me and my sick grandmother, my mother would probably resign in a heartbeat, but she held on for another six months until she found another line of work and quit the hotel job. It took her a while because in a small town the word flew in no time to spread the news that my mother is a “ballsy” employee, and no employers would make such a person as first choice on their team.

Years after, I had never forgotten how grateful I am for her, and the conversation we had that day on the park. Not because it reminded me to stand up for what is right, but that it kept replaying on my mind whenever I need to settle with silence and submission. I tried to convince myself that whenever I don’t disagree with my superior’s terrible idea, I did the logical thing to keep my job and pay my rent on time; that I am in no place to deny the comfort that my salary has sustained me with. Still, I felt guilty whenever I remembered I don’t argue back because I don’t want to be the “ballsy” one–because the they sooner or later will lose their job and be forced to be content with something with far too little prospect. It is not just “easier to keep our heads down” sometimes, but most of the time–I understand it now, and more.

Dad was probably right. I am the meek one, aren’t I, Momma?

Seething

It’s the month of May, and that means I have finally come to the end of my probation period. Except for the salary, I had no idea if things are gonna be any different. For worse, undoubtedly.

My take after the whole three months, should you ask, is that I am an ungrateful, typical piece of shit of a millennial. At least that’s the impression I get after being truly honest when people ask me, “So how’s the job so far?”

Otherwise, they would just dismiss me with something along the lines of, “All jobs suck, kid, what do you expect?”, while in case it’s not obvious yet from my post on passing the second month: That’s. Not. The. Problem.

On a conversation a week ago, a friend of mine quoted a character from this movie Berlin File, “It’s work. There’s no reason for it. You just do it.” I do relate with the latter part about how “a job’s a job”, though I should say I am well-aware of the reason why I take this job: someone’s gotta pay off the bills (and more, in my case). But the remaining nine months to fulfill the contract seems like a stretch, and I can’t wait to call it quits. Quite frankly, I’d be the happiest person to receive, say, a bad news after the probation, so then I could move on with doing something else even if it requires me to take another jobless phase as a rite of passage. But no, I gotta do the whole one year, and even though it means I don’t have to worry about helping the family, I need to compromise with the niceties “madness” and disruption on weekends for the next thirty-six weeks.

When I open up and say that I don’t want to stay, it doesn’t mean I simply dismiss it as something not worth having and I’d rather be stuck unemployed. I have made it clear by saying it gives some financial security to a certain extent. But is it worth my sanity in the long run? No. Logically, does that mean it is just natural for me to try seeking alternatives on work that suck less–even if it’s just a little–than the one I have now? I guess so.

I cannot have the people at home take the ire of my frustration because of these panic work texts on weekends I simply can ignore because there is this excruciatingly, thin line that separates it from my formal job description. Most likely, I will eventually lose my friends if I vent to them about the same thing every single damn time. I need professional help, but where I live, there isn’t any institution credible enough for a visit.

But does that mean I should just zip it and lie to myself that I’m not alright? Can I not be at least true to myself and say, “This could be better. I can see my life be better if I make another choice.”? Because really, I can no longer hear those “there-are-many-other-people-who-would-like-the-position-you’re-in-so-you-should-feel-bad-for-not-appreciating-it-as-much-as-you-should”.

With hindsight, I suppose I shouldn’t have taken questions like, “How are you?” or “How’s the job” too seriously. Because nobody cares, so why should I? Or maybe everybody’s selfish, so why shouldn’t I be?

If this is what adulthood teaches us, then I won’t have any of it. Not even if I should.

 

Offbeat

via Daily Prompt: Heal

She fixed her gaze on the tattered drum sticks she has been holding on her hands. She snickered sardonically, followed by tears, streaming down her eyes.

It was rather impulsive, how it all started. On her way back to her shoe box of an apartment, she discovered the building next to the printing service was no longer vacant. Three men were moving in some musical instruments to the three-storey building, and she suddenly felt a tap on her shoulder. It was the owner-slash-teacher, being friendly as he handed her a brochure to ask if she’d be interested to try out any musical instrument on the next 4 weeks for free. Thinking it’s a good chance to find a new hobby to get her mind out of work, she agreed.

After the second week, she was pretty convinced she wanted to learn how to play the drum. Other than having puddings for dessert after every meal, playing the drum also was as much as a childhood dream she wanted to fulfill. For the first time in her life, she enrolled to a class voluntarily–even spent some money from her own pocket for it.

She had no idea when in the timeline that it became more serious and less a hobby than she initially planned it to be. But it probably started on her fourth month, where she felt she has invested quite enough for her to be decent on playing simple, slow beats.

Never had she felt such competitiveness and ambition coming from her own self; but maybe that was residue of a family-imposed habit that for decades had unconsciously shaped her: to excel at everything you are responsible of.

It doesn’t help that she hasn’t eased in well with the new job she took just a couple of months before she took the drum lessons. Many a days, she looked to the mirror every morning, only to feel like she was just playing dress-up, just to look professionally acceptable enough. Many a times, she was unable to get proper sleep as she mulled over the things she “should” sweat over: Did I offend the coworker by being outspoken? Did I threw off the boss by pointing out where the project currently lacks? Did he take it too personally? Did I email the counterparts as properly as expected? 

Surely, having this determination to do the best was definitely a value one would think is appropriate to teach the kids. But not so much when it was oriented mainly towards the result, and not the process. Not to mention that it builds this perception that she could do anything as long as she tried hard enough.

Eight months in and she still cannot get a hang out of a basic 4/4 rock beat.

It strikes her that she was probably just not good at this particularly; she could just learn a lot of other stuff quicker than this. It shouldn’t bruise her ego or anything. But every time she missed a beat, it hurt her. It left her as frigid as much as every time she saw the disappointed look in her supervisor’s eyes, telling that her thoughts and actions didn’t reflect the best interest of the company.

No one could be any more dismissive to someone past their mid-twenties and them being a klutz. It’s just, how do they call it, “too much”.

As her tears dried, she stood up, grabbed her jacket and walked across the street to see if she can still catch her tutor before he closed the place for the day. Since she cannot just terminate her contract with the company, she decided to spare herself from the growing sense of self-inflicted inadequacy that might just push her to the brink of despair. Thank God refusing to give up out of the fear of “losing” to oneself has begun to sound ridiculous in her head.

He was just locking the doors to leave when she called out to him and say she’d like a break. She was waiting for a barrage of “Why?” or “Oh, don’t give up just yet!” coming from him, only to be welcome by a simple, “Sure. That’s okay.” She felt foolish for thinking a teacher would keep a student without talent or any form of progress, but then he beat that thought off of her head by saying, “Drop by again sometimes, though. There are only guitar classes on Thursdays, so if you miss having a bit of practice, you can just go to the classroom and try out some beats yourself.” She welcomed the gesture and muttered him a small thanks as he shrugged it off and waved her good night.

She was quite glad that she could let go of one burden and possibly revisit it as a hobby in the near future. But mostly, she was glad that she tried.

If only the same can be said for the job. But of course, that’s exactly why it would never cease being a little– how should one call it?–“too much”.

Not For Long

Two months in the job, and I’m back. I am utterly disappointed with myself with the lack of stories I have posted in the past month, but I am so ready to rant out. How bloody typical of a millennial, I know.

Let me begin by saying this: I don’t exactly know what to feel anymore about this whole job and adulting that follows. But not in any way that it makes things more acceptable.

Surely, I am slightly more familiar with the dynamics at work, which somehow makes me feel more at ease and efficient with my tasks. This is all due to the kindness and laughter gladly shared by some of the fellows I met at the office, and the support of my loving parents for the food, the ride and the ears after every rough day; I can’t thank you enough for bearing with my cluelessness and, more often than not, my rambling spree.

And a huge shout-out to my friends for their comfort, humor and energy. Those video and voice calls certainly have made each of my weekends merrier.

Despite such immense support and the somewhat considerable adaptability with work, I am even more convinced that I may not stick to this in the long run.

There’s no progress with any kind of happy feeling when I receive the paycheck, which has been a tell-tale sign since last month. What makes it even worse is the fact that it doesn’t give me the most feeble amount of joy nor relief when I get to contribute to the family this month, to the extent that it doesn’t waver my consideration not to stay in the job. Not even for a teeny bit longer than previously agreed.

I reckon this is just a process of me knowing myself better; not by specifically defining things that I like, but by realizing things I don’t. And part of that realization is that I caught myself thinking, “Damn, maybe I really just don’t have the eye for whatever the society thinks is the finer things in life. Shit, I do put more importance in the sense of fulfillment in something I need to do repetitively to survive.”

No, it’s not that I took this job, wide-eyed, with hands on my hips, looking to the distance, saying,”Yes, I am finally entering society like the responsible adult that I am, and I am so going to do well at the job because dammit I am significant in preserving the well-being of this institution.” No. Just, really? Is there anyone in their right mind who shares that thought? Especially with the position I took, anyone who dare say it’s a fancy ass job must be out of their minds.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s not that I have high expectations coming to the line of work, thus the disappointment and the whining. It’s that I approach it with the lowest of all expectations–close to none, if you will–yet it still feel a little too much, and that eats my soul every fucking day. I mean, heck, even when shit happened in my daily life, I used to be able to create something out of it. Now I can’t, which is precisely what I fear most even before I start the job; not being able to do stuff I enjoy, even merely as a hobby. And I am not willing to simply hang in there and made it through ’til it consumes me whole.

Undoubtedly, I will be all hot and cold nearing the end of the contract, but to hell with it, I’m calling it now: complacency is out of the question. Why wouldn’t it be when my sanity is at stake?

So I’ll grit my teeth to the bruise in the meantime, but not until the pain spreads that I can no longer move my legs.

God, that was cheesy as fuck. Sorry. But you get the point.

On that note, I am happy to say that I can cross that concern off the list. Now, onto the hastening of the initial plan and being more decisive in the next 10 months. Welp, won’t that be an exciting mess.

Breathing Space

It’s March 2017 and I’m still alive. Great.

I think it’s a rule that when you want something so badly in life, you will never be able to get it, even if it is something that will not make any exponential changes in the world. Sorry if that crushes your childhood dreams and hopes right then and there.

Four weeks into the job and my first salary, I should be excited; emphasis on the word “should”. Again, I should reiterate, it’s not the people I work with. It’s me. I am just myself a grumpy, sad person, and I don’t know how to be anything but.

See, the thought of money usually makes one’s day a lot brighter, but not me. I’ll tell you why. Despite the fact that the things I like or enjoy doing in life is rather simple and comparatively not as pricey, I won’t be able to use it personally because I am not in a place to be “selfish”. Also, there is this fear that is built up on top of all the series of unfortunate events that just runs in the family like water, which somehow conditions my inability to spend a lot of money at once. Actually, that would only make me feel worse.

I truly despise the fact that I need to put it this way, but at times, I often wonder if it’s all worth it: the money for the family, and whether I will be able to keep doing it for the rest of my life. A life that I never even ask for on the first place.

People take the life they’re given for granted, at least as far as how they acquire it initially. The lucky ones, so they say, are born to a family that takes care of them up until a certain age when they are demanded to do the same to the people who raise them. Some do that willingly without any questions asked. On the other hand, I still cannot quite grasp the fact that it is them who wants me in their life on the first place, not me. So, why the “responsibility”?

I can already feel the surge of “You insolent little brat!” coming my way. But if I don’t say it now, I feel like I might lose the teensy amount of sanity hardly left in my disposal.

Then comes the question, “So, do you love the family? Because if you do, you’ll endure the job or simply keeping up with their antics. You will because they are worth it.” I mean, I can definitely say I love my brothers to the bone. But frankly, when it is put that way, especially on the context of my caretakers, I don’t know what to say, and I have never felt so horrible in my life.

Ideally, I will appreciate some form of distance because, contrary to most views, it creates this sort of illusion that lets you think more affectionately of those you left behind, at least to my own experience. If that lets me balance out all the grouch and depression, then it’s all I ask as of now. And so I guess it’s all I am going to strive for in the meantime.

But if the world never lets you get what you desperately want, no matter how insignificant it is, should I even expect anything to prevail?

Adjusting Still

It’s been only two weeks, and much to my own disbelief, I realized a side of me I have never thought of seeing before.

Being meticulous has always been something I struggled with since I can remember. As I grow up, I learn that there are things that are just out of my control, and there are things that I don’t have to be all scrupulous about. One doesn’t have to be right all the time.

Then again, I must have sold myself a little too high, thinking that I have settled with it long ago.

No matter how many times I told myself not to be so hard on myself since it barely started yet, I think I do.

I’m not talking about me being unable to take criticisms because I beat myself too hard. I am talking about me being unable to answer the question, “So, how’s work so far?”

My answers will range from, “I don’t know. You tell me. How’d I do?”, to, “I think it’s been alright so far.” Sadly, none of these are completely honest. But hey, it’s just work, right? You as a person do not matter as much.

After a closer examination, I reckon this is rooted from that old tendency of covert perfectionism.  Not to mention the fact that I need to turn the switch back on for the job.

If I had been honest, I’d be saying something along the lines of, “I hate making or receiving phone calls because I have this ridiculous handicap of barfing up word salad due any day. I simply think formalities are a waste of time. I have just learned these new sets of vocabularies and entitlements that are apparently all important. Oh, and this whole new protocol is driving me nuts. Don’t even go to the fact that the previous person in my position ain’t exactly someone who is efficient enough to think of templates and designated folders.”

Yeah, you get my point. It feels like the days grew longer and the weekends shorter.

Funny that I need to reiterate: it has only been two weeks. Please tell me it doesn’t take long for someone to bitch about their jobs.

Still, I am thankful enough that I have people around me who are truly helpful and generous with their understanding. I guess it’s now up to my effort to catch up before that generosity fleets away as time goes.

As usual, the universe is always ready to prove me wrong whenever I skeptically (even negatively, most of the time) perceive a new beginning. I can’t help but hope that it will do it again this time around.

Choosers

via A warrior at heart. — PROMPTUARIUM

She always wakes up at dawn. Despite her tired eyes, every day she swiftly prepares food for breakfast and packs lunchboxes we will bring to school. For my little brother, she makes sure to put the rice and stir-fry in separate containers, being a little too picky for his own good. She cannot bear to see him look sallower than he already is.

We waved her goodbye as soon as we got ready. It was as brief as her seeing us off because she needed to rush to work. She told me once her boss was very strict to his employees’ punctuality. It’s funny that he doesn’t maintain the same attitude when it comes to payday. Yet she stays. She told me that it was because he allows her to go home early to prepare dinner and be with us. She told me I would understand once I got older.

I am older now, and I still don’t quite understand.

She has had chances to take up a more stable job with monthly salary instead of the measly commission that can take months until it reached her hands. She doesn’t have to worry about me and Jaden anymore–he’s no longer a picky-eater and on Tuesdays, I tutor after school–we’re big enough to take care of ourselves.

That night we were about to tell her to reconsider the job, she beat us to it. She sat us down, telling us that she will be taking a four-hour night shift at a nearby hospital as a receptionist so we can save up. By we, she meant me, or more specifically, my college admission fee. She told us she wanted us to just focus on our studies and that she would still make it for dinner. We insisted on preparing it for her. She smiled and cupped our faces, saying, “I had no idea how I deserve such nice kids. Thank you.”

I beg to differ; we have no idea how we deserve her. But on the same time, I cannot comprehend the fact that she wants us in her life on the first place. Is it because of him?

He used to take pride in his family background, until it betrayed him. It left him even more insecure of himself, refusing to acknowledge that he needed help, only understanding. But there’s only so much understanding one can give, isn’t it? Silently, she chose to take to her two feet as she went only as far as tend to his wounds. After all, he needed to face his own demons.

Since he was as good as gone, why not consider it done then? I will. But she told me it was not a nice thing to say, and that she simply thought it unnecessary for them to lead on separate ways.

One time, I was awake when she just got home from her night shift. She couldn’t feign not looking exhausted anymore, so she said yes when I offered her some warm milk. As I massaged her shoulders, I asked her if she has ever regretted this, and she immediately answered no. I asked her not to give me a normative answer, and that’s when she said, “Well, there are a few things I’d wish would turn out differently, but never you or your brother.”

After some thought, I continued, “Have you ever wished not meeting him then?”

She sighed and said, “I don’t know, Sweetheart. Whenever I tried to recall how it happened, it always seems like the meeting presented itself to me. As was the decision.”

I still don’t understand why she chose to stay.

To be exact, I don’t understand why, despite telling us to live for ourselves, she never seemed to live for her own.

Since her mind has never warned her to stop, her body did. We joked about how her arthritis was more like a blessing than a curse, seeing how she had more time to rest. Still, she somehow manages some energy left to think about the minuscule of things; how I should stop wearing my old blouse to work and let her buy a new one for me, how my brother needs to at least iron his shirt, how we should not skip lunch, or how we should take our vitamins regularly. Since her mind resonates stronger than her body, she never stopped and there is nothing we could do about it.

And I don’t think I can never understand it completely; her willingness, determination and compassion.

There are times when I want to tell her that life is hard; that had I been given a chance to choose, I might not want any part of it–day by day, just trying to get by. There are times I want to tell her that I had never asked for it–to be alive. Not to blame her, of course, but it just seemed unfair that she found something worth living in me, while I do not want it on the first place.

Then I stopped trying to understand. Instead, I started reminding myself of what I know to be true.

I know that albeit everything, I am more than willing to always come back to her. She is home, and that suffices.

She still wakes up at dawn, and I still don’t understand her as much as she does me. But we know we will somehow see each other at the end of the day.

The Long-Awaited Has Come

Update: I am officially entering the labor force. Uh, yay (?)

Now before you consider the lack of excitement as just me simply being a prat, do give me a chance to elaborate.

Earnestly speaking, I am beyond grateful that I landed myself a job. Finally I will be able to help out the family, and that’s basically the main reason why I wanted one. Now my concern shifted to the fact that as a new recruit and essentially an awkward kid, I may screw up stuff. But hey, there’s no use in worrying over stuff that nobody knows is gonna happen, right? Despite my worrywart self, I think I’ve made peace with that particular source of anxiety.

Seeing how it is easy for me to get caught up with routines, I am more afraid of the possibility that I will eventually be consumed with indifference. I am horrified that I will ultimately lose interest to grow as a person simply because I have regarded myself to having reached ‘adulthood’ and busy keeping up with the so-called ‘obligations’ that follow. It’s not that I am unclear with who I am and what I want to be–I do. I just went down this road because I know a job can just be a job without it having to define me. I was just terrified with the prospect that I would be too exhausted to do the things I truly enjoy.

But that’s also something that I can only find out as I go, isn’t it?

Either I need to learn to manage my time better, or to learn to genuinely love the things I currently think I like to do. Or both.

At least weekends will have more meaning from now on, right? More books to read, more stories to tell and write, more random things to learn, and probably decide what and where I am going to formally study again in the next two to three years. No thesis-writing involved though. Yuck.

So, how do people discipline again?

Tell Her

Wrote this on Tumblr almost one and a half years ago.
Disclaimer: I’m not talking about casual compliments.

Keep telling a little girl she looks “pretty and cute” above anything else worthy of a compliment, and she’ll start to comprehend that she is defined by what she looks on the outside more than her other virtues. What she does not know yet is how she will be sucked deep within such mentality.

Keep telling a young lady she looks “dashing or gorgeous”; how her make-up is perfect, or how her dress has done wonders to her body; every single damn time, and she’ll never put down that habit of worrying over every details of her appearance just to look “presentable”. It serves as a reminder of how she needs to put extra effort to watch what she eats, what she wears, how often she needs to exercise to burn those calories on the days she relents to food over “herself”; how she at least needs to maintain a certain look.

Because how she excels in her studies doesn’t matter as much. Or how she made it to the baseball team. Or how she signed herself up to donate a little sum of her pocket money to charity and eventually volunteer herself. Or how she leads a group of her friends for a school project. Or how she helps for the house chores, or cares for her siblings while Mum or Dad were not around. No. It all came down to whether she “looks perfect”.

She thought once she got older she’ll be free from it. Apparently not. She is still required to dress a certain way. She is still required to put some “life” on her face. The ghost of youth haunts her as does other women her age, because apparently everybody is so very invested in making her look ten years younger.

She thought age will conceal such requirements, that maybe it will simply be seen as a bonus point which she does not aim. She thought maybe after all those years, she will finally be remembered for the beautiful kids and grandchildren she raised, or for all her mind and compassion she poured out to nurture her students, or how sickness does not stop her to come support her dear ones in their first game, or how on her retirement days she still set a sum aside for a good cause. No. Keep telling her those wrinkles need attending so that she’ll look “beautiful”, and she’ll know she’s not relieved from it yet, not until she left forever.

If beauty really exudes from the inside, will you really try to tell her so that she does not need to compromise with how she looks on the outside?