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?

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Who Would’ve Thunk It’s 2017

After the hullabaloo that is 2016, who would’ve really?

T’was a tough year for me. Emotionally, I felt like I was taken on a roller coaster ride full of twists and pitch falls in every turn of the month. Looking back, I recalled being somewhat weirdly excited that it was the Year of the Monkey, which is my sign of the Chinese Zodiac. On one hand, I was thankful that I managed to meet two full cycles, but on the other, I also remembered that traditionally, being in my běnmìngnián (one’s own zodiac year) was believed to bring bad luck. That news alone was enough to make me question my own conviction that I was never a superstitious person.

But was it really an unlucky year? Let me scribble it out below.

year-in-review-2016-1

Evidently, the pros outweigh the cons, so it’s easy to say that it’s quite a good běnmìngnián. Personally, the one thing that makes me feel like a huge crisis was averted is the fact that I managed to graduate within the expected scholarship period. Considering I was also struggling with depression, procrastination and quarter-life crisis then, I guess me making efforts to seek professional help and coping through the snuggly comfort of books (special thanks to Neil Gaiman and his brilliant works; I am forever an indebted fan), blogging and writing were the best decision I made last year. I can’t say the same about not being able to secure a job as soon as I was done with school, but I learnt the art of taking things one step at a time, overcoming the worst fears I brought to my worrywart self.

In retrospect, heeding a warning by readying oneself rather than focusing too much on the possibility of having bad outcomes coming at you kinda’ does the trick.

Also, one of the beauty of not pushing oneself too hard on new year’s resolution is that as far as the year take me, you’d find yourself doing and eventually accomplishing things you’d not expect. Mine’s to write stories and to actually compile it into an eBook, which makes me want to pat myself in the back like I had never before (thanks Dila!).

The last months of 2016 was rough for many, I reckon. Keeping up with the news only is enough to break anyone’s hope for the future, including mine. But specifically, by then I was resettling home and found a lot of things are no longer a good fit for me to improve as a person. There are numerous times where I get too upset and frustrated because I felt trapped, being chained by tradition and my surrounding’s unsusceptibility to change. All my life, I have never continuously prayed that soon I will be somewhere I can grow as a person (in need of a space where I can be on my own two feet), a professional (not so much of the whole career and adulting thing people have been talking about, but because I need dem moneys) and a writer.

So I reckon it’s natural that I am still trying to get used to the fact that I made it to 2017. To be exact, I’d like to believe that once you passed 2016, 2017 probably would not be as bad, but in all actuality, who knows? With that in mind, I should probably just be grateful 2016 wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.

On second thought, technically there are 25 more days before the Year of the Rooster. Oh well, I guess I should just keep an eye in case of any leftover misfortune this January.

Either way, pain is good for art. I’ll just keep writing. Just keep writin’, just keep writin’…