What This INFP Thinks Of Consumption This Christmas

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I was watching a British TV show yesterday (Britain has some of the snazziest and most fascinating documentaries about life in England), called something along the lines of “The Most Luxurious Christmas” or something, basically a documentary about how rich people in London spend their money at Christmas time (I found it on Youtube; here’s the link: Rich People’s Christmas), and I just stared at the screen for about an hour with my jaw open and my belief completely suspended. I couldn’t believe the amount of money these people were spending on things like Christmas ornaments and decorations, enough to feed at least entire suburbs of families for Christmas, and it got me thinking about privilege and money and class and greed and, well, idiocy.

This sense of there being too much extravagance, wealth and privilege in certain parts of the world, amongst certain people, struck home even further when I went shopping for a new pair of shoes. I’m broke, in case you’re wondering, but I’m not jealous or envious of the rich, nor do I aspire to be wealthy and live a life of luxury. My shoes, my flats, had been worn through: you could see, through the black faux-velvet, the pale, inner lining of the shoes; and what’s more, they were a size too big for my feet, so they felt like slippers more than anything else (my mistake, when I bought it). So I went shopping for a new pair of shoes, an inexpensive pair, of course, because while shoes are a necessity, I don’t have any spending money at the moment to spare for things other than food, rent and utilities, so I settled for an $8 pair of flats from Kmart, and called it a day.

However, as I traipsed through the large shopping centre, I couldn’t help but notice how much luxury existed around me. The fruit juice bar, with its window display filled with fruits of every colour of the rainbow; the jewellery stores, glimmering with diamonds and gold; the high-fashion clothing shops, their display windows amassed with mannequins dressed in the most wondrous flowery gowns under the sun, each one with a price tag of around $200; the children’s toy shop, brimming with miniature kitchen sets complete with tiny foods, and make-your-own-perfume kits; the make-up shops; the bath-and-body-works store; the menswear, with pants going up into hundreds; crystalline soaps on one shelf in a store, and miniature silver beads in the shapes of Christmas trees and presents inside the display case of another; and I thought to myself, well, this is the Capitol.

In case you haven’t read the Hunger Games series, in which case I suggest you do so right away because it’s a fantastic series, even if there are no Asian characters at all in it, the Capitol is the wealthy district in a post-apocalyptic world the book is set in, whereby the surrounding districts, all 12 of them, supply them with all their resources, items and products, while being (most of them, at least) quite poor and hard-done-by themselves, to the point where they’re own citizens are dying of starvation. Katniss Everdeen is enlisted for the Hunger Games, and so begins a revolution against a totalitarian state, and so on and so forth—read the books if you want to know more—but what struck me was how similar this model is to our world.

Think. The sweatshops in China and India, the underprivileged and low-income people slaving away in factories making, I don’t know, Disney-themed soft toys and high heels and high-end fashion pieces: all of them are just like the people Panem’s poorer districts, whose labour goes on to enhance the lives of the wealthy instead of themselves. And we’re the Capitol. You, me. I mean, if you’re rich enough to have a roof over your head, food in the fridge, clean water to drink, and an internet connection in this world, then you’re pretty well off, mate. I can just take a bus from my apartment and enter a world of luxury and high-end goods, like some kind of capitalist wonderland, where snow globes the size of heads exist and advent calenders with a different, exquisite but pointless beauty product behind each little cardboard door (retails for $50). It’s alarming.

It makes me wonder why such consumption, wealth and greed exists in the first place. Are we that hollow on the inside, that we have to fill the void inside of ourselves with objects? Do we really need sparkly, pink flower gel that smells of nasty chemicals in a plastic package in the shape of a heart dangling on the end of a key ring instead of a cheap, solid bar of soap, or, if we’re going on the extreme end of the spectrum, a Christmas tree star worth over half a million dollars to adorn a Christmas tree you’re only going to take down the next month, instead of a pretty, but plastic star dusted with glitter? I mean, at the shopping centre, I even found a tiny, plastic claw machine, the kind you find at arcades, for around 30 bucks and big enough to fill with lollies. It’s like we’ve gone a little mad with our manufacturing and production, like our creativity has nowhere to go but into pieces of plastic and tubes of chemicals, instead of something a little longer-lasting and important, like trees or animals.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not materialistic enough to appreciate the “finer” things in life. In fact, I’d much prefer a home cooked meal made out of ingredients straight from the ground than some fancy gourmet dinner in a restaurant whose prices go for about $500 a head. And the funny thing is, whenever I buy something, by which I mean, an object, I never feel particularly happy or satisfied about it. Sure, I might like it when it’s in the shop window, and feel a little exhilaration at having it in my shopping bag as I walk home, but afterwards, it’s just a dumb, unfeeling item, with no life or love or magic in it. Just an object. You can’t—it can’t satisfy you. No amount of luxury goods or cars or money will ever satisfy a person, or fine foods or wines or chocolates made out of gold dust and rare cocoa beans mined from the very bowels of Willy Wonka’s factory. There’s more magic in a single, real leaf than a million gold imitations of it.

This Christmas, I might get a present or two, if I’m lucky, and cook a meal for my family out of whatever ingredients we can afford on the day or the week of Christmas. We might not have much, but I’m happy, probably because I don’t go seeking it in the walkways of shopping centres, but in the lanes and avenues of nature, the imagination and art.

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An INFP’s Character Development

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In every book and story—or at least every good one—a character develops and changes over time, and this is good because it’s realistic: in real life, everyone changes from day to day; who I am on Monday might not be the same person you greet on Tuesday, because I’ve learned things and grown a little, and that means my worldview and how I interact with myself, other people and society has changed. However, in books, the character development is usually more marked, because the point of the book is for the character to learn about something as she or he goes about his journey, and without this development, the story would seem a little strange and pointless, as if it shouldn’t have occurred at all.

This got me thinking about an INFP’s “character development” over time; in other words, how a person of the INFP personality might change over the course of their life, in accordance with their personal traits and characteristics. It would be different for every type: but since there are unique traits, like introversion and a mind prone to daydreaming, which all INFPs share, our character developments should, I think, sometimes follow the same trajectory.

First, let’s go all the way back to our infanthood. I think INFPs would be quite intelligent babies, because we end up growing up into rather intelligent people, and be prone to sleeping less than other babies and being more engaged and explorative of the world around them. Once childhood hits, and walking and talking enter the picture, in the home sphere, we’re likely to be quite chatty and active, because we’re comfortable with our family members, while outside the home, we’d be prone to stranger-aversion and quite touchy about being with people we don’t know.

Childcare would be another kettle of fish. That’s where our introversion would truly come out to shine, because we’d definitely be the kid that sits quietly playing with puzzles by ourselves or dress-ups with that one other friend, completely absorbed in our tasks, in an almost autistic fashion, because we’re good at concentration, creative, bright and love having the ability to let our imaginations run wild. Socialisation with other kids who aren’t quiet and strange like us will be non-existent, if there at all. We just don’t get along with other people at this point, and are closest to our own fantasy worlds and the odd friend, imaginary or not.

Primary school, or middle school, if you live in America, would be another playing field. Here, we finally begin to learn the ropes of socialisation and our character undergoes a metamorphosis, where we don’t just isolate ourselves and learn to interact with people for the sake of following social norms and because being an outcast is a hard, lonely life to lead. However, we’re still at the stage where we’re not capable of making genuine, real human relationships, because everything we do or say is “copied” or “learnt” from others: we haven’t got the hang of socialisation and have decided the best way to make friends and get along with other people is to put on a mask, talk a lot, and pretend you’re happy. Thus begins the unhappy stage of an INFP’s character development, where we feel stifled in a society that doesn’t accept us for the daydreaming introverts we are, and while we read and borrow books at a frenetic pace, expressing our individuality through our imagination and creativity in private, in public, we still go along with the crowd and do what everyone else does, for fear of rocking the boat.

Then there’s high school. Oh boy. Here’s where problems really start t to begin: puberty plus a cocktail of social anxiety means the INFP is bound to run into trouble, and plenty of it, either in the form of bullying, depression or feeling like an outcast. Because they’re intelligent, they’ll often do well in school and be considered a “nerd”, and much of their time, when not pretending to be happy and fit in—a continuation of their primary school years—is spent reading by themselves in the library or bathroom cubicles, where they can escape from the world and other people. More likely than not, they’ll not see certain boys or girls as real people but princesses and princes on pedestals and fantasise about them from afar, while believing themselves to be ugly, socially awkward and wretched. At this point in an INFP’s character development, they’ve most likely reached their ultimate “low”, where they feel like the worst possible version of themselves, both inside and on the outside, and are painfully awkward and cringe every day at their own awkwardness, and feel like life is an endless, dark tunnel they can’t seem to get out of.

Then comes adulthood. Free from the constraints of high school gossip and bullying, with the Internet at their fingertips and several hundred books of knowledge at the back of their mind, INFPs begin to come into their own, slowly at first, but gradually faster, as they realise the world outside the education system isn’t a bad place for dreamers—in fact, it’s the dreamers, creators and creative types of the world who are often the most successful and happy. Of course, the INFP goes through ups and downs, but eventually, they find an inner confidence as the progress through adulthood they didn’t possess before, mainly due to understanding themselves and learning more about life and the world, and realise who they are, someone who delights in the strange and magical, who loves Christmas like children and fawns over sparkles and glitter, and would never hesitate to help someone who is suffering, is a beautiful person, through and through. It is to be expected that INFPs still carry a backlog of pain from their early years, but this soon fades, as they discover their passions and grow into themselves, ready to sally forth into the world full of imagination and creativity, and being the best possible version of themselves they can be, each and every day.

God Exists? Yes.

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God is someone very close to me. I think of him more as a father than someone else, a Heavenly Father in the sky who watches over us, critiques what we do, punishes us accordingly, whether in this life or the next, and believes in the best of us, supports us, loves us, and carries over whatever rocky shores and boulders we come across in the waters of life.

So why I sometimes doubt him?

The answer is simple: I doubt him, because he doesn’t “exist” in the way other things do. In other words, my faith is based on shaky ground: I can neither touch, nor feel, not hear or speak or even “feel” his presence sometimes, so what makes me believe and so certain he exists in the first place?

Good question. It’s a good I’ve been meaning to ask and find the answer to for a long time, and the closest I’ve come to a proper answer is an analogy a friend once told me, about a watch found on a beach. To a bystander who picks it up, turns it over, and stares at its inner mechanism, the complex little hands on its front and the little notches denoting numbers, it is a thing of wonder, since they have never seen anything like it before, or ever since; and their first instinct is to believe the sea washed it up onto the shore and created it. This is what evolution and science dictates we should think: that, in this analogy, over time, somehow the watch was actually created by someone putting the gears together—I mean, forgive me, I’m typing this really fast at the moment because I need to leave the house soon—I mean, that it was created by accident, by the waves and shores and little sea creatures over time, accidentally and miraculously. Impossible.

The truth is, the machine was created by someone, and that someone, in this scenario, is a human being; but if you look at the complexity of the world around us, it is exactly like that of a watch being washed ashore and then picked up by an unwilling bystander: it’s too miraculous, wonderful and perfect to have been just created by “accident” over “millions of years of evolution”. The eye itself is too complex to have been created by accident over time, out of a puddle of proteins and other fluids zapped with electricity, as supposedly life was created first on land back in the old, old, old ages.

Our world is a place of wonder. The natural world, and the man-made world. But the natural world is where the raw materials are at, and where the most wonder exists: no matter how far science advances, it will always be reliant on nature and it’s resources: without matter, without plants, without flesh and DNA and energy, nothing would be able to be created or formed on this planet by human hands. And the wonder of nature is miraculous indeed: just one drop of water contains hundreds of millions of tiny particles and amoeba and living creatures; just the human eye is more complex than the most complicated machine on the planet. We can never catch up to nature because there’s just something fundamentally mysterious and magical about it.

And that’s where God comes in. He’s the creator. He’s beyond our wildest imaginings, and also very, very good. He’s a benevolent creator, in that he has created food and water, and everything we need to live, he has created happiness and talent and joy and sunlight and birds and trees and everything: and we need only trust him to leave good lives. Sure, bad things happen on this planet, but that’s because evil still exists, and may still exist until the Second Coming, when Jesus returns and restores the balance of all. I know this might sound like religious mumbo-jumbo to you but I promise it’s true and I believe in it wholeheartedly, no matter what people say or how shaky my foundations of faith are that day, because I picked up a watch from the beach, and it told me the time, and I believed the sea spat it onto the shore for a reason, and was created by a long-lost, faraway watchmaker, in love with beauty and me.

What To Do When People Hurt You

 

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In this world, I am of the firm belief that we can sense, and even absorb, the negative energy of other people, such as hatred, disgust or animosity, the way we might ingest poison or breathe in polluted or toxic gases. Just being near someone who feels “evil”, or extremely unkind, is like standing to close to a burning fire: you cringe and wince a little, knowing you are near something dangerous and bad; and if someone is cruel towards you, or wishes you ill-will, this cruelty and ugliness translates into energy as well, which you absorb, oftentimes just as damaging as a physical punch or kick might have been: that’s why people say words feel like “a slap in the face” or like being on the receiver end of emotional or verbal abuse feels like they’d been “punched in the stomach”.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of bad energy in my time, despite the fact that I’ve only lived on this Earth for about two decades, and I’m sure there are many of you who have experienced a great deal of pain and suffering at the hands of other people. In my younger and less experienced years, some of this negative energy came in the form of racial discrimination, or microaggressions (I copied this from Wikipedia; a microaggression is “a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group”), where I would be treated badly in a subtle way, that would leave me hurt and unhappy, and feeling unworthy about myself; it came in the form of a young lady in high school who enjoyed bullying me; a man who hurt me the most effective way any man can hurt a woman, which is to repeatedly sexually harass her to the point where she becomes too frightened and afraid and disgusted to go near any man for months; in the form of cousins who bullied me, taunted me; a father who didn’t realise girls need to be treated tenderly and carefully; a mother whose sharp words, to this day, pierce my skin like barbs; and from living in a world where just stepping out the door is enough to have someone attack you, verbally or emotionally (or, heck, even physically, depending on where you live), because they’re unhappy or having a bad day.

It’s not a good world, because people are not good. That’s plain and simple. I used to think, wrongly, that people were just hurt, lost, lonely and suffering—that’s why they hurt other people. I pitied them, felt compassion for them, because I’m just like that, silly and melodramatic and too-kind sometimes. But then I realised that wasn’t the case, because I’ve been in so much pain before, to the point where I wanted to (I’m quoting myself here—apologies) “paint out the world with my own blood”. And yet, no matter how much pain I was in, no matter how dark my inner world became, I never, never hurt another living person because of it. Just because I had a thorn in my side didn’t mean I felt the need to start poking other people with sticks. That’s when I realised those people that you hurt you? Yeah, they’re not good people. There’s something wrong with their hearts, and there’s no fixing them. I would like to say they’re evil, but decorum dictates that I refer to them as being “ignorant” or “cold-hearted”. Scrap that, they’re just—hideous.

So what do we do when these people hurt us, hm?

It’s a tricky thing. It actually all depends on the situation. For instance, in some situations, people are just bad-tempered for that one day, when generally they’re a nice and caring person, and you just happened to receive the brunt of it. Then there are the others. The ones who want to see you suffer, who want to take from you what is yours, who are jealous of you and hate you because they don’t like themselves or the world. They’re unhappy, supremely unhappy, and they want you to feel the same way they do. These people, and I know I’m going to get called out for being callous here, need a dose of their own medicine. You have to take matters into your own hands and stand up for yourself. If someone holds a gun to your head, occasionally, you have to hold a gun to their heart. It’s tough, but that’s what I’ve learnt, after years of being trodden on and abused. Those people will never stop abusing you if you never stand up for yourself. Trust me on this. They won’t listen to reason, they don’t care about your tears, they won’t even stop if you show them why what they’re doing is wrong. Trust me on this.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but there are just bad people in this world.

So, sometimes—not all of the time—you need to stand up for yourself and fight back, rather than take the hits like a champion. Let me give you an example. The man who sexually harassed me in my teen years and left me with a long-lasting fear of being raped and creepy men? Yeah. I told his wife everything that had happened. I did. It was harsh, but I did. I didn’t go to the authorities, or even tell a teacher or a mentor: I just quietly went up to his wife one day, when we were alone, and told her exactly what was happening and what he had done to me. Then I left. The rest was up to her. Not only did I never see that man again, I hear his marriage isn’t going so well and there’s hell for him to pay at home. Do I regret it? No. Because if I hadn’t done that, he might have never left me alone. And I would have had to undergo seismic-levels of suffering as a result.

You might think this is cruel, that I’m fighting fire with fire, that two wrongs don’t make a right. I say: you’re wrong. I’m sorry, but you are: only someone who has never been at the receiving end of severe mental, sexual, emotional or physical abuse can possibly say they’re too “kind” to fight back. When you reach a point where someone is literally suffocating you with their toxic energy, their hate, or, in the aforementioned case, their greedy hunger for your body, you’re not afraid to pull out the knife and slash them in the leg. That’s the truth. So while such a method of dealing with “people who hurt you” might seem vindictive, cold and calculating to some, to me, and I know to many people in this world, it’s the only way to fight against demons. Niceness gets you nowhere, except broken and hurt.

You stand up for yourself. Sure, if you believe in God, and I suggest you do, you know that justice will ultimately prevail and that those people will get their comeuppance. But there’s something to be said about fighting back in the real world, in this lifetime. One time, this man actually ignored me for fifteen minutes at the bookshop. I kid you not. It was like he’d decided that someone of Asian descent didn’t deserve to read or something. I was so hurt, I actually left without buying any of his books (which, in retrospect, was a good thing). A week later, I phoned up the company that owns his bookstore—it was a franchise—and complained about my experience, as well as giving them a description of the man who had refused to process my books for purchase. While I don’t know exactly what happened, at least I fought back and stood up for myself. Standing up for yourself builds your confidence and makes you a stronger human being (I feel like this should be a tweet).

Once again, I want to stress that there are actually bad people in this world. I keep droning on about this because it took so long for this to get into my own head. I had this preconceived notion that all people were good, they’d just lost themselves somewhere along the way due to bad experiences. That’s usually not true. If someone has the capability to hurt you just because they want to, because they hate you for being better than them, or some other stupid reason, then they’re not good people. They have darkness inside of them. A little part of them is poisoned. And you don’t deserve to inhale a single breath of their toxic cloud.

That’s what it comes down to: good people fighting against bad people. In the process, do we become bad, in some way? I know, when I finally fought back against the man who harassed me, I felt a sense of triumph, a satisfaction that he was finally getting what he deserved. I was wary of this feeling. Was I getting a little drunk on the fulfilment of revenge? That’s still something I’m trying to figure out. While I’m certain I have nothing evil or dark in me, I’m afraid that sometimes my own pain and suffering can muddy how I should actually feel when fighting back against people who hurt you: not triumphant, not glad, not content, but sorry, sad but determined. That’s the key. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world, because there are nice people, but it is a fight-back-or-suffer world, and I intend to stand up for myself, as I would stand up for anyone else in the world who was in pain or suffering. Because me, you and we deserve it.

An INFP’s Latest Discoveries & Reflection On Jealous People

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I’ve discovered quite a few things lately, all of them the kind that would very much appeal to INFPs, so I thought I’d share them with you.

One of them is a search engine called “Ecosia”, which turns your searches into trees! Literally! Every time you search for something using this search engine, you help to plant trees in places like Africa and the plains of Asia, with 45 searches equivalent to one tree planted. It’s very easy to download, it acts just like Google or Bing or any other search engine, the only difference being your searches end up helping the environment and rebuilding the world’s forests! It’s so amazing, I’ve been using it for a while now, and I’ve racked up, on my phone and on my desktop, about 1500 searches so far, and as the years go by, I’m sure I’ll “earn” more trees and help the environment by doing my bit! So can you! And so far, Ecosia has already planted 41, 132, 323 trees at the time of my writing this piece, so go ahead and add to that number, which is growing everyday, for a brighter and better future for Earth, our beloved planet.

Another discovery I’ve made is an orchestral musician named Michael Ghelfi. Here is a link to his work: you can find him easily enough on Youtube, and it’s a shame he doesn’t have more views and subscribers, because his music, much of which is “steampunk-themed” is absolutely gorgeous, stunning, amazing and fantastic. It’s whimsical and pretty, sweet and complex, and evokes emotions, scenes and worlds through its notes and tunes and accompaniments. If I ever wrote a Steampunk book, and it had the good fortune of being turned into an actual film, I would seek him out right away to ask him to write the score for the film. Just, check him out: you won’t regret it.

One more discovery: the song “Wanderer’s Lullaby” by the Youtube singer Adrisaurus, which is almost a kind of motivational song wrapped up in melancholy and sweetness, is about believing in yourself in spite of the world and other people. I think that’s something everyone, on some level, can relate to, because we’ve all had our dreams doubted by someone, we’ve all encountered jealous people, no matter how fortunate their lives might be compared to ours in the first place, and we’ve all, deep down, doubted ourselves and our ability to achieve our dreams. This song is absolutely perfect for all of us who are striving towards a castle in the sky, out of reach, only accessible if we somehow build a jeweled floating sleigh or capture a pegasus; and it gives you strength and hope to fight another day.

I’ve been burned many times. This is no understatement. I’ve been burned, again and again, by other people in my life, people who I believed wanted the best for me or liked me, when in reality, they harboured secret jealousies and hatreds. When I was younger, I was too confused and naive to fight back. As I’ve grown older, I’ve also become a little tougher, and it’s a little harder to cross my path these days, because I’m not afraid to speak my mind, speak back, and tell you if you’re not treating me right or are a toxic influence in my life. I’m not afraid to get out the knife, and cut the gangrenous limb right off, with or without anaethesia, with my teeth gritted and sweat on my brow. I only wish I had that kind of courage in my younger years, that I hadn’t been brainwashed into being a meek, cowardly creature by the people who raised me.

There are people in this world who do not want to see you succeed. In fact, their idea of their dreams coming true is to see you fall, stumble, fall flat on your face and never get back up again. They want to see you in the dirt, and to put a foot on your head, and laugh like a maniacal, evil villain in some story. Let’s get this straight: they would be happy if you died, or were even murdered, and your dreams died with you. Make no mistake as to how evil or bad some humans can be, because I have lifted the rocks of humanity and seen the bugs and creepy-crawlies that writhe on its underbelly. I have met them, talked with them, laughed with them, been in their company and their homes and eaten their food. They are like monsters in angels’ garbs. They have different faces, and come in all shapes and sizes: friends, family, loved ones, teachers, mentors; you name it, they can hate you and dislike your ambition and desire for success, because it highlights their own failure and lack of success. Darkness doesn’t just resent light: it loathes it, with all of its being. That’s because it knows light is something pure and wonderful that it can never be, and so it hates it with all its heart.

You need to shine in spite of the darkness. I know it’s hard. These people, these influences, can be brutal. They can even come in the form of someone you love romantically—you’d be surprised—which makes it doubly difficult to brush them off. In some people’s eyes, life is a competition, and they want to be the one on top. What they don’t realise is that the true queens and kings of this world don’t murder, scheme and kill to get to the throne, but are chosen by the people, and because they have something special inside of them which makes them shine a little brighter than most. Kindness. Love. Courage. Faith. Belief. Heart.

“Wanderer’s Lullaby” reminds you that who you are is worthy. You and I, we are worthy; and anyone who tells you you aren’t worthy can go (insert expletive starting with “f”) themselves, because they’re not worth bothering about. Light is useless if it doesn’t learn to increase its brightness around darkness, otherwise the darkness will swallow it whole and be very satisfied, like a cat that has eaten the canary. No, you must shine brighter and brighter, bright enough to blind them; and then, they’ll leave you alone, because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that those who put you down are the most cowardly and disconnected from life and themselves, or otherwise they’d be chasing their own dreams, and living their own lives, instead of spending all their time hating you and your bright, sparkling eyes, and trying to bring you down to their level.

The Definition of “Womanhood”

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What is the definition of “womanhood”? Any takers?

I am 21 this year, I just turned 21 last month. 21. Twenty-one.

I’m a woman. At least, according to social psychologists and the dictionary, and other professionals like doctors, and in the eyes of the government and the law, I’m no longer a little girl anymore, nor am I a “tween” or a teenager; I am a full-fledged woman, ready to go forth into the world and discover, explore and conquer, be it new lips to kiss or new books to read, in the full prime of my life, with rosebud lips and unwrinkled skin and high heels on my pretty, little feet.

Or say they say.

Today, I went to a wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, in a church, and there was a sermon and pastor; there was music and singing, vows were read and spoken; food and refreshments offered in an annex off the church, on long, huge tables, salmon canapes and sushi and finger sandwiches; and I had quite a pleasant, if not wonderful, time.

The whole entire time, however, new thoughts and revelations were whizzing through my mind like pinballs. First, I was suddenly surrounded by scores of beautiful women, many of them much older than me, 27 or 28, even in their 30s, all dolled up, dressed in finery and heels, earrings and necklaces, hairdos and rings. Not all of them were exquisite—that is only to be expected—but they all had this certain “grown-upness” about them, a kind of glamour and beauty that comes with age and experience and worldly knowledge, or perhaps is inborn, like a seed implanted in them when they enter the world and which blossoms and grows inside of them as the years pass.

They seemed so dazzling, so faraway, floating about in a world I couldn’t reach, speaking high-sounding words and laughing and interacting with one another like women in a fairytale, in a clique, in a secret club. In my pretty black dress with a lace bodice, and black flats, my hair done up in a bun, sitting in the pews near the back, I felt secretly very childish and small, like I was a little girl, masquerading as a grown-up, and doing a very poor job of it to boot.

The feeling worsened when the most beautiful woman I had ever seen sat behind me in the pew. I only turned around and glanced at her for a second as she sat down, but that second was enough: she was tall, elegant, her face gorgeous and perfectly-formed, her body willowy yet womanly, her hips curving within the confines of her tight-fitting blue gown. But it was more than her physical appearance that struck me like a slap across the face: it was the way she carried herself, her aura; she seemed to exist in a grown-up world of handsome men and suites in fancy hotels and champagne and cocktails, cigarettes and James Bond movies, sex and money. Everything I was not, she seemed to be. To me, she was the epitome of the exquisite womanliness a thirteen-year-old girl might bask in awe of, not a twenty-one year old woman already growing into her own bones and limbs, already starting on her own path in life. No, more: she was the popular girl in school, who always seemed older and more womanly than me, bolder, braver, more interesting, brighter, who captured the boys’ attentions and made the girls laugh. She was the kind of woman the tall, handsome men who populate the novels I read and write would find themselves drawn towards, like a moth towards a light. She would laugh, shining with her womanliness and sexiness, and they would be captured, just like that. I was just a little girl, watching from the sidelines—I had no hope of attracting the attention of a prince.

“Not all of them were exquisite—that is only to be expected—but they all had this certain “grown-upness” about them, a kind of glamour and beauty that comes with age and experience and worldly knowledge, or perhaps is inborn, like a seed implanted in them when they enter the world and which blossoms and grows inside of them as the years pass.”

I suddenly felt very, very small. Very small. Like I was a child, a stupid child, who didn’t understand the world of grown-ups and could be awed by her first sight of a true and proper lady in a fancy dress, her arm hooked with the arm of a man in a suit. I felt as if I hadn’t grown, not really, not in all my years, not since I was ten years old, or even eight. I was still a little girl, and somehow, other woman had grown up and left me behind. I was suddenly acutely aware of how grown-up and womanly some of the ladies around me were, with a pang of—of grief. Of hopelessness. They had babies, husbands. They had boyfriends, careers, taxes to pay and cars to drive. What’s more, they had the kind of womanly figures I’d always dreamed of having—elegant yet curvaceous, with just the right amount of femininity and sensuality. Meanwhile, I was small-chested and had barely any hips to speak of—I’ve always been rather gangly and thin, with not a trace of sexiness in my appearance, demeanour, body build, personality or mannerisms. That’s who I am. That’s who I’ll always be. A strange, imaginative little girl, building her own stories behind closed doors, dreaming of faraway lands and magical princes, thorns that grow when you speak to them and birds which talk and whisper to you their secrets. Maybe I was stuck, I thought, horrified, stuck in the world of my own mind, stuck in the imagination of a child’s, the thoughts of a child’s, and it had stunted my own growth somehow, made me into this strange hybrid of adult and child.

What makes a woman a woman? Is it her sensuality? Is it her marital status? Is it her maturity? Is it the width of her hips, the size of her cleavage? Is it a certain aura about them, that seems to speak of an understanding of men and all their wonders and quirks? I felt as if I was in high school all over again, standing on the other side of the window to the other teenagers, watching as they laughed and socialised, and I stayed quiet in a corner and buried my nose in a book. I felt left out, cheated, angry, sick. I wished I could slot myself amongst all those gleaming, beautiful women, laugh with perfect, painted lips, my earrings dangling and catching the light, perfume radiating from my hairless, glowing skin. I hated myself in that moment, hated my childish-looking body, my childish thoughts, my insecurity and inferiority complex—I hated myself, and wished I was grown-up and womanly with that air of glamour about me, like cigarette smoke, like sex.

I’m a little girl, I thought. I’m not a woman. This is a joke. Give me twenty years, fifty years, a hundred, and I’ll always remain a little girl. In my heart, I am a child, and physically, I’m thin and straight and flat as a board. I don’t have the femininity to lure men into my clutches and make them fall in love with me and my body. I felt wretched. Tears threatened to build in the backs of my eyes. What makes a woman? I pondered and thought. I wasn’t a perfume-radiating, high-heel-wearing creature of womanliness and beauty. I had no baby to rock on my knee and feed to my breast, confirming my womanliness. I had no man’s attention, lavished upon me, no strong arm wrapped around my waist, steering me as I walked through the world. I didn’t cook or clean very well, I didn’t sew (as outdated as these ideas might be), I had no group of laughing girlfriends, I didn’t have a career in some corporate office with eyeshadow on my lids and pencil skirts, I wasn’t a doctor or a nurse or a scientist or an artist or a singer or a teacher; I was just a writer, a lonely girl, tapping out her thoughts and imaginative worlds onto an electronic screen in an empty room.

“I hated myself in that moment, hated my childish-looking body, my childish thoughts, my insecurity and inferiority complex—I hated myself, and wished I was grown-up and womanly with that air of glamour about me, like cigarette smoke, like sex.”

But was that what it meant to be a woman? To be feminine, womanly, sexy? Is that the only definition of womanhood that exists? Babies and husbands? Careers and conversations revolving around housing prices? Pretty dresses and earrings and bloody perfume? No. There are different ways to be a woman. After thinking about it all day, to the point where my head hurt and I had to down some water and Panadol to stop the ache from splitting my head open, I’ve realised womanliness doesn’t necessarily revolve around curvaceous bodies and babies and men and perfume and high-heels and job stability and sexual experience. I’ve realised there are other ways to be a woman, because everyone is an individual and different. I dug deep inside myself, into the core of who I was, where the dark, poisonous wells of my self-loathing lay, and drew it out of myself and inspected it, ran it through a sieve, through a filter. And I realised something.

I’m not a “girl”. “Girls” don’t have the wisdom I do, to see into myself and the minds’ and hearts’ of others. “Girls” do not possess the kindness to want to plant trees all over the world and help people who are starving, or thirsty, or suffering from toothache, in some ugly, third-world community. “Girls” do not spend their waking hours painstakingly writing word after word after word to construct a book, a story, diving into otherworldly worlds like a fish. “Girls” do not realise a man who wants you for only your body isn’t a man at all. “Girls” do not write articles like this. “Girls” do not love animals enough to weep at the fact that they have to consume them for the sake of their health and nourishment. “Girls” do not listen to music as if they are drinking water after a long thirst, soaking in the notes and tunes, feeling them thrum and dance through their blood, weep at the sense of nostalgia, the feeling of yearning for someone or something you’ve never known, that rises in their heart at the sounds of certain songs. “Girls” do not watch films with a bittersweet feeling in their chest like a hard knot of bone and sinew, or lie awake staring into the vastness of themselves. “Girls” do not see their father and mother as flawed, unhappy humans with their own pain and inner worlds and lives and thoughts and feelings. “Girls” do not possess the heart that I do, that mind that I do, the spirit I do, and, yes, the body that I do. I may be flat and straight as a board in all the wrong places, but as far as I know, all the pieces are in working order and, if need be, I could birth a baby just as easily as the next woman.

“I’ve realised there are other ways to be a woman, because everyone is an individual and different.”

There is no one definition of being a woman, just like there is no one definition of being a human. We’re all marvellously intricate, special, unique, lovely and one-of-a-kind. We are who we are; we are ourselves; and that’s wonderful. We’re children of God. Our lives are blessings, our experience of the world gifts. When the time is right, someone will be attracted to me; when the right person comes along, in his eyes, I will be the most exquisite creature on the planet. But I don’t need the male gaze or the male presence to feel womanly, or to be a “woman”. The definition of womanhood is that there is no definition of womanhood, because womanhood isn’t defined by the world or society: it’s defined by the size of your heart, the maturity of your soul, your connection to life and the universe, and the strength of your spirit. And, in that case, I am most definitely a woman.

Don’t Brush Away Discomfort When Interacting With Others

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I don’t know if this is an INFP thing, or if it’s just me, but I have terrible habit, extremely detrimental towards my happiness, of ignoring any discomfort or “warning signs” when I’m interacting with other people and making excuses for their behaviour, words or actions, no matter how bad or ugly they are. It’s as if I’m a doormat, unconsciously, subconsciously, and whatever comes spouting out of people’s mouths or whatever they do to me, I just take it and accept it, like a person standing in front of a gun and willingly getting shot, without any hatred and anger in the moment towards the attacker. In fact, I usually just register the pain, and on the rare occasions I try feebly to fight back, with little, “But that wasn’t…’s” and “Do you really think…’s” , they argue back and bully me into believing their version of the truth, which is that they did absolutely nothing wrong. It’s stupid, and it’s about time I stood up for myself. It’s about bloody time.

This habit of mine started very early. It was ingrained in me by my father, who was abusive towards me when I was just 3 years old. Once, I took some dried pineapple that had fallen out of its wooden trough—you know, that section of the supermarket where you have to scoop nuts out of the wooden containers using little metal shovels?—and hid it in my hand. It was stealing, yes, but I was too young to realise it what I was doing was a very bad thing. Instead of chiding me for it, he burst into rage upon discovering the hidden fruit, clutched in my tiny 3-year-old fist, picked me up and put me on a high window ledge above the toilet in our apartment at the time, my legs dangling over the edge, the toilet bowl far below me, cold and white. I was terrified. I cried. I wailed. It was a moment of such horror—of being picked up like a rag doll and plunked on a high shelf—that my small mind couldn’t take it and broke. I was, and still am, to this day, terrified of heights and sudden movements from other people. This moment lasted with me for the rest of my life, causing years of pain and social anxiety around the people, because I was always afraid they might, one day, snap and do something to me like my father did when I was first learning about the world.

“In fact, I usually just register the pain, and on the rare occasions I try feebly to fight back, with little, “But that wasn’t…’s” and “Do you really think…’s” , they argue back and bully me into believing their version of the truth, which is that they did absolutely nothing wrong.”

It got worse in primary school. Once, I wrote a really good definition for a word in English class, which the teacher read out to the entire class, praising it for its phrasing and wonderful verbosity. I was ecstatic. Then, a girl in my class, who wanted to be a writer like me, flounced up to me and said, snidely, coldly, “Did you copy that from the dictionary?” I shook my head, dumbfounded, saying, “No,” murmured it, meekly and softly, when I should of cried, “No!” I just shrank into myself. Another time, the teacher praised me for my poetry. I was doing marvellously in my English classes, and when it came time to write our poems in a book which would then be “published” and we’d take it home, a boy who was jealous of the praise I’d been getting from the teacher deliberately cut my poem short and pasted it at the bottom of the page, claiming it there was “not enough space”, even though there was more on the other side, and the teacher didn’t notice, and he was in charge of organising the poems on the pages. At the time, I accepted it, thinking to myself, “Oh well, I’ll just get less space than everyone else, no biggie” but now, in retrospect, I think to myself, well, it was a “biggie”, it was unfair, and he was deliberately doing that to kick me under the table, so to speak.

Don’t even get me started on the years of abuse I suffered at the hands of a family member. At the age of just seven years old, she criticised my writing because she was jealous of my opportunity in life to read the books I liked and write the things I loved (she’d given up her dream of being a writer herself) and often chided me, telling me I couldn’t write, that I was the worst writer in the world. I took it to heart at the time, thinking it was true, turning my face away and ignoring those comments—but why? Why couldn’t I have stood up for myself instead? Then, when her husband sexually harassed me, I kept making up excuses for it, thinking he was just “being friendly” when he gave me female sanitary products and period relief medication, referencing my “private parts”, touching and kissing me inappropriately, and so on and so forth. It was as if I’d become so used to abuse and denigration it had become normal to me.

“This moment lasted with me for the rest of my life, causing years of pain and social anxiety around the people, because I was always afraid they might, one day, snap and do something to me like my father did when I was first learning about the world.”

Then there was this guy I had a crush on. Don’t even get me started on him. He had an abusive personality, just like my father, which was probably why I was attracted to him in the first place. He scoffed at me, bullied me, looked down on me—the list was endless, the ways he tormented me, mocking me for my “love” for him, when he knew full well I was an innocent teenager just experiencing her first crush. And what did I do? I shrank deeper into myself, become more meek and quiet, more shy. I was the epitome of spinelessness. When I started dating, a man once said to me, “I think you’re a really shitty person.” I was distraught, because I quite fancied myself in love with him and was crushed by his word choice, only for it to be all cleared a moment later when he said, “Because I can’t stop thinking about you.” Basically, he’d delivered a death blow just to see my reaction—which he actually said to me afterwards, “I just wanted to see how you’d react”, and he would do this repeatedly, hurting me then making up for it, or saying things like “Are you looking at yourself in the glass?” when I faced the glass door on the train station, to point out my vanity, and I’d have to vehemently deny, protesting like a woman from the 18th century facing an angry husband.

Today, I realised just how much of a doormat I’ve been my entire life. When a teacher of mine bullied me, I took it, even though she was just a sad and bitter woman who wanted to take out some of her feelings on someone else. More recently, I broke up with my so-called “best friend” of little over a year, because I awakened one day and realised she hadn’t been treating me right for ages, and, per usual, I’d been brushing every hurtful thing she’d said under the carpet. When I ate food, she’d call me a “pig”, making me feel grotesque and disgusting, like I was some gigantic, deformed animal gobbling away at her viands. She told me she was entitled to my publishing money after—or if, because she never completely believed I’d get published, deep down, at least not in the next five or ten years—I got my books published, and that I had to finance a holiday to England for her, because I’d be “rich” (first advances run from $2000—$5000), even though she wouldn’t even buy a $12 t-shirt for me, rudely saying, when I made a joke about not staring at the pretty t-shirt, “Well, I’m not going to buy it for you.” She’d tell me she’d spent “so much” money on me, as if I owed her the world, after buying me cake and KFC. When I once mentioned the possibility of my book getting published, and accidentally mentioned “Hunger Games” in the same sentence, she said, “Woah, you’re arrogant.” Deep down, she resented me for the person I was, and might become, because I worked diligently everyday and all she did was sit on a couch and watch TV all day long. That’s why she felt entitled to my money after I got published.

“When I ate food, she’d call me a “pig”, making me feel grotesque and disgusting, like I was some gigantic, deformed animal gobbling away at her viands.”

That wasn’t the worst thing. All that wasn’t the worst thing. Despite presenting a façade of supporting my publishing dreams, she outright told me my mum would be dead before I ever got published. Dead. She told me, to my face, that my mother would die without ever holding a book of mine in her hands. Since this has been a dream of mine, this was so hurtful it shattered my world for a second. I couldn’t believe those words had come out of her mouth. For birthday presents, she’d gift me strange things, like a book about a celebrity figure she was obsessed about, when she knew I no interest in the person in question. It was as if she just didn’t care enough to gift thoughtfully. At a shopping centre, while we walking through it, she screamed, “Homophobe! She’s a homophobe!” and pointed to me, making everyone around us stare at me. I was so embarrassed, mortified and uncomfortable, but she kept doing it, laughing her head off, finding it the funniest thing ever. She used to steal, even though I disapproved of stealing. She wasn’t a 3 year old child. She was a grown, adult woman, stealing candy from stalls and the cinemas, and eating them, right in front of my face, laughing and saying they “wouldn’t miss a couple of sweets”. The list goes on and on, but one day, I woke up and realised, enough is enough: I’m tired of being a doormat. I cut ties, snip-snap, just like that, and haven’t looked back since.

If there’s anything you can get from this unhappy article, it’s that you deserve to be treated well. By your friends, your family, yourself, your boyfriend, girlfriend, by your co-workers—don’t put up with bullying, snide-comments or put-downs. You deserve better. I deserve better. Life is too short to put up with toxic people. If someone in your life no longer seems to complement you, or seems to pull you down instead of lift you up, it’s time to cut ties, even though you might be hesitant and wonder if you’re being (excuse me as I throw up) “too harsh”. The years of abuse, mental and physical, that I’ve endured at the hands of people over the course of my life, people who I thought I loved and treasured, is irreversible, but the future is not. I, Dreamerrambling, swear and promise, from now on, to only cultivate relationships where I feel supported and respected –- and so should you. Go on, do it. Because you deserve it.

Black Cat Day

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I don’t know what the topic of this blog post will be about. Generally, I map and plan out my posts beforehand, using a series of dot points, so that I can hit each of the points that I’m trying to make and the post flows properly. But today, I just decided to sit down and write. I’m in a curious mood. I do apologise if I ever bore you with my rambles—they’re sort of like diary entries, and I’m sure I’m not a very interesting person. Still, if you can read this and feel a little less alone in this world, then my writing will have accomplished its purpose.
I oftentimes feel a little disconnected from everything, like I’m waiting for something exciting to happen, although I don’t quite know what. I suppose that’s why people like to go on trips and holidays to other parts of the world: it shakes up life, turns it upside-down and makes it interesting and exciting. Would a holiday make me feel better? I’m not sure. It’s not as if I can afford one. Really, I’ve even been exploring different story-lines, venturing into the world of romance writing instead of fantasy, in an effort to shake myself out of this funk. I wish I knew what I was trying to say; life just feels dull, and boring, and I myself feel supremely dissatisfied for no reason in particular.
Maybe if I go clubbing at night, or find a boyfriend, or finish my studies and begin an occupation which takes up most of my time and energy—maybe then, I’ll feel a little more fulfilled.

Of course, I do feel happy, knowing I am a child of God, but this dissatisfaction I’ve been feeling lately has nothing to do with the soul, and everything to do with my heart. My heart is unhappy. Do you ever feel as though society is numb and dull, that every time you venture out in the outside world, people are bored and staring out the window or at their phones, waiting for life to become magical and meaningful? I get that feeling a lot. I can’t help but feel the sense that everyone is dissatisfied on some level, which is why capitalism exists in the first place, to get us to try to assuage this dissatisfaction by buying goods and services which bring us pleasure and happiness.
I’ve read many books, watched many movies, listened to many songs, but all of them seem trite and overdone now, none of them exciting and satisfying. It’s as if I’m bored of humanity itself, and all its creations and wonders. Even my favourite books and movies bore me. Perhaps I am depressed. It’s not the first time something like this has happened. In the past, I’ve been so depressed I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning. But this feels different from depression. This feels like a reconciliation with the fact that life will never feel as satisfying as we hope for it to be, and I’m taking it badly. I’m also overloaded on sugar, as I type this, because whenever I get depressed, I start popping lollies like pills, so I’m a little bit buzzed. I haven’t written anything worthy for a while—all my fiction seems terrible and bad. I sometimes wonder if I will ever make it as a writer. It’s not like I have any talent, says a voice in my head. You just have a couple of good concepts and ideas, that’s all. It’s not like anything of yours has ever been published yet. And so on and so forth.
This is such a bad ramble, I’m even beginning to bore myself and run out of things to say. I mean, maybe I just need to get out there and find a boyfriend and live the typical life. Maybe what God has in store for me is marvellous and wonderful and I just have to be patient. So much can happen in a year, let alone a lifetime. I want to be someone else, I now realise. I wish I had someone else’s life. And yet, at the same time, I don’t, and am perfectly happy being myself and living the life I do have. It’s a strange contradiction. I kind of want the Heavens to open up and fairies to exist and to be swept up on a magical whirlwind of an adventure to Neverland or someplace magical. Or to live in a romance novel, slowly falling in love with a man I believed I initially hated. Or a science fiction novel, catapulted into the future where invisible walls and mind-reading devices exist. What I wouldn’t give to be transported into the future right now and get a peek at what the world 100 years from now looks like. How strange and marvellous it will be! What wonderful books and films will have been created!

I kind of want to live in an all-girl’s dormitory at a boarding school and have adventures. That would be fun. Or to live in the world of Howl’s Moving Castle, where magic lurks on every doorstep. Or maybe I’m just going through a creative drought at the moment, where all my inspiration has dried-up and I’m left scrabbling for husks of ideas. It could be anything, really, that triggered this mood. I think I’ll make up a new word for this mood. I think I’ll call this mood Black Cat Day. It feels right, somehow: the feeling you get, when a black cat crosses your path. That’s how I feel. Like a black cat has crossed my path, and now I feel a niggling sense of worry and dissatisfaction the entire day. So, Yours Truly is having a Black Cat Day, and there’s nothing that can stop it happening. I hereby christen this name as my own creation—no-one is allowed to take it, mind (only joking; you can use it however you like!)

So, what’s the cure for a Black Cat Day? I’m not sure, since this is the first time I’m experiencing it. I think in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it’s called the Mean Reds. All the same thing, really: a time in one’s life or one’s day or week or month or year when everything feels dreary and wrong, and as if it will never get any better. Let me think. Since Black Cat Day is a feeling of darkness and bad luck, maybe the opposite, good luck, will cure it. What constitutes as good luck? Seeing a rainbow. Maybe. That sort of thing. In the real world, that would probably mean getting a call from a publisher or winning a ticket to go on a five-day cruise or something else marvellous like that. But it can’t be just miracles that can cure a Black Cat Day. There’s got to be something else. I just don’t know what.

One thing I do know, though. Unlike Holly Golightly, going to Tiffany’s won’t cure it.

I Sometimes Wish I Was A Bath-Salts, Lush-bath-bomb, Christmas-tree Decorating…

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I sometimes wish I was a bath-salts, Lush bath bomb, Christmas-tree decorating, perfume-fanatic, Bath-and-Body-works-shopping, make-up collecting, apartment-renting young woman in her twenties who always smells like her favourite Vera Wang perfume with a pet dog and a neatly-stocked fridge full of kale chips and free-range chicken and went to work at an office for a magazine writing articles about men and women and relationships with coffee from Starbucks on my office table and wore dangly earrings and black, short dresses when I go out at night and party with my girlfriends had a boyfriend named James who loves me and loves to wear sweaters and suits and works at a law firm and we’d meet his mum and dad who own their own home out in West Virginia and have enchiladas and come back to his house to make love to the sound of Michael Buble warbling from the Google Home Mini in a bedroom filled with scented candles in a house filled with scented candles and wear Christmas-themed slippers and eat gingerbread and lick candycanes and cook turkey together with red oven mitts stitched with tiny hollies along its wrist-hem and have nights where I’m tired from work and just drink a glass of red wine while binge-watching on my plasma TV on my cream sofa and eating a light healthy snack of popcorn and wear Pandora jewellery not the bead-bracelet one because that’s for moms but delicate sterling silver jewellery like a heart-shaped ring and a necklace with a heart-shaped charm and own a Tiffany necklace with the signature Tiffany blue heart and listen to Taylor Swift and love Harry Potter and love books like the ones by Zoe Sugg or the Fault In Our Stars or City of Bones and have an Instagram page filled with cute photographs of my lovely, ordinary life and go to the shops and buy an iPhone charger because my old one broke and have a cup of coffee at a cafe and look cute in big, geeky glasses and go to Trader Joe’s to buy organic salads and dog food and freshly-squeezed orange juice by a brand named CitrusLite my favourite brand that cold-presses its juices so its extra fresh and go online shopping to buy cute summer dresses and shirts and jewellery and bags and do a haul with them online on my special beauty-fashion-lifestyle Youtube channel that has about 350,000 subscribers with a username like Holly Chung and a degree in communications and creative writing and have strong opinions about feminism and a political stance on women’s rights because I’m so progressive and watch videos online in my spare time on unique hairstyles and nail art which I try to copy then give up and go to a professional hair stylist or nail artist and get my hair and nails done and treat myself to a Starbucks coffee because I deserve it and change my job to work at a trendier, more upcoming magazine where the floor plan of the office is colourful and there’s a room filled with snacks practically like a grocery store and a ping-pong table and TV and Wii consoles for the employees to unwind and James proposes to me on his knees at the restaurant where we had our first date and he gets the restaurant workers to come out and hold up signs that read “Will You Marry Me?” and it goes dark and all candle-lit and the other patrons are clapping and cheering as he stands up smiling because I said “yes” and slips the diamond -ring on my finger and it’s so beautiful and I kiss him and laugh and smile like something out of a Hallmark greeting card ad in my fancy dress with my fancy earrings and high-heels that cost $95 and then there are the wedding plans and the bucket-load of money and stress that is spent on it and maybe I have a breakdown about it and smudge my make-up and James comforts me and hugs me and tells me it’s not about how perfect the wedding is it’s about our relationship and our relationship becomes stronger than ever and my father walks me down the aisle even though I didn’t grow up in the perfect nuclear family and had step-brothers growing up and everyone is clapping and cheering as I in my beautiful white dress smiling like a beautiful bride with my hair done up and my make-up making me look like a princess and the priest ordaining the ceremony says we’re married and we kiss and there’s the wedding reception where there’s food and we cut the cake and there’s music playing and people are drinking and everyone laughs obligingly as my husband and I dance a crazy dance for the benefit of the audience then a slow romantic dance which is meant to be oh-so-romantic and I post my entire wedding for hundreds and thousands of people to see on my Youtube channel and photographs of it on my Instagram page which is filled with pictures of me and my “hubby” captioned with words like “I found the man of my dreams and he comes in a red Santa suit” and me kissing my husband as he’s dressed in a Santa suit which I got my friend to capture because I’m so funny and witty as hell and go on a honeymoon to Bora Bora or Greece and vlog about it and post it on my Youtube channel so everyone can see the marvellous time we had and how much we love each other and have secret nights no-one ever talks about where my husband and I explore each other’s bodies in the dark secrecy of our rooms an event which no-one not even our relatives can imagine and only joke about in passing such as talking about how our baby was conceived and laughing at the sexual joke because oh we’re such grown-ups look at us talking about sex in this witty, vague way and of course I’m pregnant and I tell my mum and dad they’re getting grandkids and they’re so happy and I tell my girlfriends through Facetime and they squeal and act as happy as they should and I edit videos and vlogs as my belly bump gets bigger and I feed on large quantities of rich food like chicken drumsticks and potato cream and chives talking about my cravings on my vlog because I live in a first-world country and can eat whatever I like never mind the fact that’s it’s all from Trader Joes and therefore super expensive because I’m socially privileged as well because of my job and education and I go to a Taylor Swift concert after the baby is born with my girlfriends because they think I deserve a break from being a mom and we decked out an entire room and changed the wallpaper to a pattern of pink rattles tied with blue bows and with a cot that cost about $2000 dollars and a pram that cost around $999 and an abundance of toys that are educational and we go through so many diapers it’s amazing the planet hasn’t choked to death and I become a “mommy” Youtuber and have decided to do Youtube full-time and stop working at the magazine even though the job had its perks and make an entire Youtube video entirely titled “Why I Quit My Job” which brings in heaps of revenue because of the clickbait title and all the views it gets even though it cost no effort at all and my baby’s name is Lilly and she’s so cute and chubby and so cute cute cute and I dress her up in baby clothes from Target because I’m economical and she’s just going to grow out of them anyway and feed her pureed food I make myself everyday six times a day and do vlogs where I show my daughter interacting with my dog a white-haired pomeranian and sign up to a subscription box $60 per month where I get goodies in the mail once a month in a box such as lipsticks in the brand Cordelia and snacks such as chocolate-covered sultanas and mugs such pretty mugs which they sponsor me to advertise in videos on my Youtube channel use this code Holly-Chung to get 10% off your first purchase and go through a miscarriage and get a record-level of views for my tear-stained face on my vlogs but soon there’s another baby and everyday I do my make-up routine with light foundation and lipstick and mascara and eyeshadow and go to a beautician to get my legs waxed and hair removed from my face gotta get rid of that upper lip hair and my eyebrows trimmed and go out to eat at restaurants with friends and family where the bill can go up to $300 not including wine and maybe be a little daring and get a tattoo of my Patronus charm an otter on my left arm with the words “expecto patronum” tattooed underneath it in swirly script which I show on Instagram and my vlogs and maybe even devote an entire video to “My Tattoo” and consider maybe doing ASMR videos because they’re so popular and I want more money for my family so we can afford nice things for ourselves and have a loving relationship with my hubby where we have sex two times a week and celebrate our anniversaries by leaving the kids with the grandparents and vlog us going to the movies and having a nice meal together with wine and go on holidays to Japan or Disneyworld with the family or Harry Potter world and by this point I’m super maternal so so much of my Youtube channel is devoted to being a mum and “What My Child Eats In A Day” and I live my life happily after moving out of the apartment and into a family home which is absolutely gorgeous and doing a “House Tour” of it and then redecorating and redoing parts of the house like the kitchen and the bathroom so it’s all to my taste and hiring an interior designer for it because my house is like so important and my home so it has to be the best it can be and my children grow up in a world where they drink vegetable smoothies every morning and try to avoid sugar except on special occasions and do well in school and go on dates and go to prom and get a good GPA because they inherited their mommy and daddy’s good genes and goes to college—

—and then the whole cycle starts all over again. Maybe. Perhaps with some virtual reality thrown in. Eye implants that digitalize the real world. And a whole lotta environmental troubles.

A Half-Awake Ramble

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It’s a funny thing, love.

Rather strange.

It’s completely uncontrollable. You couldn’t possibly control it—you couldn’t possible force it, not in a million years. Not with the all the money and promises in the world.

I’m in a bit of a melancholy mood today. I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood, and of my teenage years, the strange sort of happiness that comes with “youth” (I place youth in quotation marks simply because I’m still considered quite young, at the tender age of 21) and being oblivious to the world and all it holds. If anything, as I’ve grown older, and learned more about the world, I’ve grown more jaded and old, not old in the physical sense, but in my mind and my heart. I feel as though I trust people far less, that I’ve seen the ugly side of life, seen the scabs and wounds underneath the make-up and masks, realised the truth of people’s hearts and found out what motivations lie behind people’s tick-ticking eyes.

I’ve always thought I needed to dig deep within myself to find the characters I write about, to flesh out their hopes, dreams and desires—and that’s what I do. But in doing so, I’ve realised how little I truly understand myself. Sure, I am quite self-aware and introspective—anyone who glances at my blog can tell you that—but who I really am, deep in the innermost parts of my heart, is sometimes a mystery even to myself, just like my characters, no matter well I write them, always have parts of themselves that surprise even me. Am I surprising? Do you ever ask yourself that question? Do you ever wonder what lies at the core of you, what you would do under extreme situations or pressure, who would come rearing out of you, a lion or a lamb? As I type this, I’m listening to a childhood favourite song of mine from the Lizzie McGuire movie called “What Dreams Are Made of”. It’s tune is so reminiscent of my childhood it makes my heart ache just to listen to it. I remember what my childhood was like—idyllic. Incredibly idyllic. A happy family, a happy home. Before my father left me. Before the man I loved with all my heart abandoned me. Before I realised that not even my father was strong enough to shelter me from the world’s pain. I grew up with books, movies and films, outings, visits to restaurants—we didn’t have much, but since we grew up in a first-world country, we had enough, and whatever money was leftover after the bills were paid were lavished upon myself and my siblings. I was lucky. I still am.

It’s strange how much of a hold your biological parents and siblings have over your life, especially if you’ve grown up with them. It’s a kind of bond entirely different from the kind you make with people who do not share your blood, or you haven’t grown up around, a kind of deep-seated familiarity nothing can undo. Then again, sometimes I scorn this relationship—aren’t the relationships we choose later on in life just as strong? But no, there’s something about growing up with someone that strengthens a relationship like nothing else. And it can’t be faked. If you’re biological family member was an absolute terror, there’s no changing that, and you couldn’t force yourself to love them, even if you tried.

I’m wondering about the next chapter of my life. The chapter of my life where I fall in love and have children, build a home of my own. I’m wondering about that. I’m also wondering about how many jealous and cruel people there are in the world. For some reason, I seem to attract them the way food attracts flies. And don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing particularly special about me, not my looks, not my intelligence, not in the way I carry myself; but I’m certain there’s a look in my eyes I get sometimes, as if they’re staring out at the sky instead of at you, that makes me people feel on edge around me and wonder if I’ll become more than they’ll ever be, even if it is only imaginary.

Children. A husband. A house. Holidays and money. The ordinary life. In an ordinary world. Is that what I want? Is that the life I’m headed towards? I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed beyond having a book published and for it to be enjoyed by people all over the world. I honestly haven’t really looked at my life beyond that. I haven’t craved things, like mansions or visits to five-star hotels. With the internet at my fingertips, and the ability to imagine myself into any magical world I desire, I have to admit, I am quite content, if not completely at ease. I sometimes wonder if I spend far too much time in the world of the imaginary than reality. My mother always complains that I’m off thinking about “magic” when I should face the real world and think about my future employment opportunities—but the real world is so dreary and boring, so awfully real, that I can’t help but want to retreat into books, films and movies, where everything is lovely and entrancing. I can’t help it. Oftentimes—heck, what am I saying, all the time—the magical worlds inside books and films seem more real and life-like than the real world, even though one is meant to be only a facsimile and imitation of the other. I mean, there’s nothing like a real person, is there, compared to a character? People are usually never so interesting as characters, and sometimes, characters are far more interesting than real, live people. Or it’s the other way around. Characters are exaggerations and unrealistic, full of quirks and hopes manufactured by the writer, while real people, made of blood, flesh and bone, are realistic, and have motivations and passions ruled by real hearts and minds.

Honestly, it’s very late, and this is just a stream-of-consciousness spewing forth from my mind; I hardly know what I am saying. I just finished reading a book called “Memoirs of a Geisha”, it was a marvellous book, but it made me feel terribly inferior about my own writing, because the writer’s prose is absolutely perfect and glides along from sentence to sentence, page to page, like a swan. I sometimes wonder why I am alive. I really do. Is it just to live an ordinary life, to live and die, or does some great destiny await me? Am I special at all, if everyone else in the world has these same thoughts sometimes, and why, in the world, do I want to be so special, anyway, except for the sake of my ego?

It really is strange. I want to belong, yet I want to stand out. I think, deep down, everyone feels this way, this desire to be special and different but accepted, recognised and loved. I think, in the end, it comes back full circle: we all want to be loved. To be accepted. To belong. When it happens, we are content, but when it doesn’t, we start to hurt ourselves and each other, turn nasty and jealous, cruel and conniving. I’ve had peculiar instances of people trying to gain the upper hand or intimidate me, from placing a hand on the same pole I am gripping on a bus and staring snootily down at me, to getting on her scooter and going faster than me the moment I started to run and glancing over her shoulder to see how far she had left me behind, to speaking outright insults to my face. And I wonder if they were all searching for love, or lacking some kind of love, deep inside. If someone had just made their dreams come true or their husband properly kiss them or their job a little more pleasant, would they have treated me that way?

I better go to sleep. This post is already turning into an essay, as all of my posts tend to do. I wish you a good night (or a good morning or afternoon, depending on your time-zone), and I hope you find love in your life. I hope if anyone picks on you, you remember that you are a child of God and stronger than them—but also to remember to bless them, because those who hurt you are in great pain themselves. They hurt you in order to try and take their pain out on you, but it never works. It never does.