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Monday, August 25, 2014

Insecurity

One could say that I'm really insecure - I've had people call me brave for always being myself and whatnot, but under the facade that was built to face the world, I pretty much hate myself and every aspect of it.


This stems from the fact that I always needed the approval of people. One time I finally got an A for science after failing the subject for a few years in primary school, and skipped home and waited for my mum to get home, only to be a subject from the typical Asian tough love, or as we typically call it, "泼冷水". It varies from parent to parent, but some of the parents I know often use reverse psychology to encourage their kids to do better.


Unfortunately, reverse psychology didn't work for me. Having to have to deal with sibling rivalry on top of that, I sought every method I could to gain approval and acceptance.


That wasn't so prominent in primary school, because I was still really shy, and all I needed was my best friends at the time, and we shared a passion for Harry Potter.


High school came, and the only other people I recognized were people I wasn't too familiar with from primary school. As with typical high school problems (minus a lot of the exaggerated drama from American TV and movies), making friends was a problem, and a huge pressure to fit in suddenly settled upon my shoulders.


In high school, puberty hits you, and you start to get conscious of how you look. That was the start of my "weight loss" journey. While I discovered amazing Japanese artists and musicians, I made myself listen to Taiwanese and Korean music as well, so I wouldn't be the only one sitting in a corner listening to my friends (at that time) discuss about bands I didn't know about.


In high school, I started to be conscious of a lot of things I wasn't conscious of before - my hair, my skin, how my uniform looked, the hip accessories every other girl had, even down to how they laced their North Star shoes that were typically frowned upon by our disciplinary board.


Something that I have mixed feelings about that I picked up in high school was the range of foul language. People have commended me for being "real" for extensively using foul language, but I've also had the very common dirty looks from some people for using too much, or even a teensy sprinkle of it in daily conversation. But I picked it up anyway, because everyone was saying it, and at that time I thought that if you didn't know them, then you're not part of modern civilization. Aaand I also had a few crushes who were from the non-elite classes, and they were typically delinquents who practically used foul language as an actual conversational language.


I was even more conscious about my body, as well as my language skills. Even though I went through all my education up to primary school in Chinese, my family spoke mainly in English, and my mother's side of the family were pretty much certified grammar Nazis. The fact that we have a ton of English novels at home adds to that.


Perhaps they were saying it jokingly, or they were annoyed, or it was one of their back-handed ways to tell me to just shut up - I was basically told to stop showing off my English (I was among some of the English top scorers in my year). I still continued to write 800-word essays for exam questions that requested only 350 words, and I continued reading novels. Like no way in hell am I going to lower my bar just because it's higher than the average.


For that, I could boastfully ("bitchyly" would be another way to put it) say that I didn't give too many fucks to how people thought about my English skills - it was a skill that I knew would be useful to me, and would put me in a more advantageous position at work.


As for body image... not so much. While my mum would tell me to ignore the taunts I got from my uncles from before I started schooling, and some of my late dad's attempts to keep me from ballooning, the fact that skinny girls saying that they were fat really killed me. At that time, all I could think of was... "if they're fat, then what am I?"


Over the years, I've learned to embrace my actual shape - pear shaped, with really wide hips and as a result, thunder thighs. Plus the fact that I have really broad shoulders. Most times I'd look in the mirror and admire myself from practically every angle possible, until I start noticing the flaws. It's something like how you would notice the details of a picture the longer you look at it. There's a weird dent in between my hips and thighs, extra flesh at the underarm that was caused by wearing the wrong bra in the long-term, how my cheeks were always puffy... All that.


It's sometimes even worse, when I look in the mirror just before a shower, when I've been through a long day and I felt like shit. On the surface, I would put on a mask that pretty much screams "look at me, I'm the hottest girl you'll ever lay eyes on"; inside, I'd look at all the other girls around me... I don't think I need to explain further.


What's helped a lot has been encouragement from my mum and her sisters. I guess women would know women's minds better.


The real turning point - even when I'm still struggling now - is my current boyfriend. He's been really supportive, and undeniably honest. No sugarcoating. He'd point out my flaws if I raise the topic, or when what I wear isn't flattering, and he'd say he loved me anyway.


He isn't telling me I'm ugly and flawed, but what's important is beyond all the unsightly bulges and jiggly parts that I hate. Love? I'd like to think of it as his own way of telling me to love everything regardless.

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