Growing up, I would say that I was pretty sheltered in the way that most kids born of Asian parents are sheltered. I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of things that many people I knew got to do, like have sleepovers at each other’s houses or being able to go out with my friends on the weekend even up to my Senior year in high school. I would ask my mom, “Mom, can I sleepover at my friend’s house this weekend?” and she would respond, “Why? You already have your own house to sleep in.”
Even when at 18, when I finally got my driver’s license and was able to drive myself anywhere, I still chose to listen to my parents, keep their minds at ease, and stay home. This inner conflict happened all the way into my young adult life, in my 20’s, and even after I graduated college. I love my parents, and even though I fought for my independence, I now understand at 26 years old, why they were doing that to me. During this period in my adolescence and young adulthood, while many people found their identities through the people they were hanging out with, I found mine on the internet. That sounds boring and lame, I know, but to me, it was like my sanctuary. The blogging world became this community of people who were like me, not in just the sense that we were all cooped up in our rooms on a Friday night with the glow of our computer screens in our retinas, they were like me because they saw the world in the way that I’ve always wanted to see it. I made friends with people in the Philippines, France, Denmark, the UK, just to name a few. I would express myself on my blog that I couldn’t do with many people that knew me in real life, because I didn’t know how they would perceive it, I didn’t know if I would be accepted, and I didn’t know how to say it out loud. I’d write a lot of poems, a lot of verses and words that spilled outta my soul like a sponge saturated to its capacity and needed a squeeze. And to my surprise, a lot of people felt the same way and could relate to what I was saying. I didn’t have the largest following, I got up to maybe 600 readers. But I felt connected through my blog, and I was able to feel completely inspired by other people who were opening themselves up in the same way, sharing their experiences, whether good or bad, and turning it into something beautiful and real and lasting. I admired that so much, and it shaped me in so many ways into the person I am now and the interests that I still hold to this day.
I have a hard time connecting with people which is a weird thing to say when you’re a healthcare professional. Many people in real life would probably describe me as really shy or quiet. Friends that I’ve known for a long time would disagree and believe that when I walk into a room, I bring positive energy and light, and I’m not afraid to talk to new people. But I’m human, sometimes words get to me. Sometimes, the negativity of others cuts through me and influences the way that I think of myself. Maybe I am quiet. Maybe I am being pretentious and my words are too big. Maybe I am too different to the point that no one can relate to what I’m saying.
But dang, if that is not the most untrue thing. Over the years, I am practicing this radical idea of trusting myself. And I’m finding it much easier to do when you create a support system of those who make you trust yourself, too. There’s always going to be someone that’s going to make you feel like who you are is not enough, or that who you are is not worthy to be heard or seen, or maybe you just have to change yourself entirely in order to really be liked and fit into the mold of what this world wants you to be I think that’s a load of crap to be honest. And sometimes the people who we think are our friends, can begin to make us feel that way, too. I believe that the people that are good and healthy in your life, will grow with you, will listen to you, and genuinely clap for you when you succeed. I believe that our happiest moments in life should be shared with those who will be happy with us, not with those who silently sit in the corner, watching, and wait for you to fail. And when we’re sad, will sit with us in our sadness, and make us feel like we are not alone, and not wrong for feeling what we feel. The reason I’m writing this is because a lot of those people I used to interact with on my blog all of those years, have slowly faded away and have slowly stopped using that website, me included. And I guess when I find that I’m losing a part of myself, I feel like I’ve lost that connection; I’ve lost that trust within myself that tells me, “You are okay just the way you are and don’t need to be anyone else but you.” I try to seek inspiration, try desperately to feel connected again because as I get older, it just seems like people are becoming less and less themselves, and more of what they’re expected to be at this age. I turn on the television and I see more mental health issues beginning to deplete very popular and well-liked people. I hear people tell stories of their depression and how they go through it alone and afraid because we stigmatize it as being weak. I’m writing this post hoping that maybe if my words reach one person in feeling less alone in what they feel, then I’ve done something good. I’ve done something that feels more real than how many likes my posts or my pictures are getting or how many followers I’m getting. I’m sharing a part of myself, and my story, and that is something not everyone can do or have the courage to say. I think it’s something to be proud of and something that should be encouraged.
To be real.
To be ourselves.
To be honest.
That’s the most we can ever do some days and it is the one that could save us.