Thursday, 1 March 2018

It's not easy to not give a damn

These days, I find it harder and harder to open up to other people. Perhaps, as I grow older, I am becoming more and more reserved. Or perhaps, it is because I am becoming more aware of just how brutal society has become is.

As a teenager, I remember not giving a damn about what others thought about me. I mean, yes, I wanted to 'be like the cool kids' (Echosmith, 2013); but I never felt the need to prove myself to be smarter, more capable, more confident, and more tenacious than I really was. It was absolutely 'okay' to fail a test. It didn't matter that I spent my after school hours cheerleading and playing netball (not for the school team), both of which didn't add any value to my curriculum vitae. It didn't cross my mind that I had to hold back my tears when I was too afraid to touch that stupid frog in an orientation camp game, which caused my team to lose. And I always said whatever the heck I wanted - which costed me a very painful lesson when I talked back to a senior lieutenant colonel while I was a cadet trainee. I've learned to bite my tongue and respect the rank.

But today... Today, I find myself being exceedingly proficient at writing a politics essay on a topic that I, frankly, know nuts about. Why? Entering my forth year of higher education in the UK, I think I've mastered the art of writing a decently good essay - it's not about how much you really know. It's about how well you convince the examiner of how much you know. Today, I find myself always having to hold back my tears in front of others when I'm frustrated, disappointed, or hurt, only to let it all out the moment I shut my room door. We're told that being too emotional is not a good thing. Today, I find myself barely saying anything in large groups, unless I'm compelled to. And even when I do, it is because I've scanned it through my mind at least three times to make sure that it is a rock-solid point that I have to contribute. Today, I find myself double - no triple - checking my blog posts, instagram captions, and facebook posts, before clicking the 'Post' button. Let's call it, self-censoring.

And unwittingly, I realise that this has affected my relationships with other people. I've stopped bitching and gossiping about others with my girlfriends, which I suppose is a good thing. But with that, I've also stopped breaking down in tears even with the people closest to me (except for Marcus - putting this out here otherwise he would surely object!). I've stopped sharing my problems, partly because I don't want to burden others and partly because it makes me vulnerable. I've stopped expressing my most genuine convictions, probably because I don't want to seem too 'extreme' or 'un-nuanced'. And I no longer do silly things with friends - re-watching high school musical through the night, dancing to K-POP music, taking lots of embarrassing selfies, and writing meaningless post-it notes for each other - because no one does them, at least not with other people, anymore. It would seem all too silly now.

But here's the truth. While I may seem more 'qualified' (in a societal sense) as a graduate or an employee, the truth is I have barely changed. What you see on my graduation certificate, my curriculum vitae, and my personal statement is probably bull shit. (I'm probably going to regret saying this but heck it.) The truth is, I'm a politics graduate but I love Justin Trudeau just because he is handsome. Who cares about his policies? The truth is, I prefer celebrity gossip over Brexit news. The truth is, I mentally roll my eyes every times someone asks me for my political views the moment they hear that I study politics. Can we talk about something else? The truth is, I cry, no, I bawl, when I'm furious - it always makes me feel better. The truth is, while I'm completely silent in a discussion group, I'm cursing at stupid people with stupid views in my head. (I know, very illiberal of me. #sorrynotsorry) The truth is, I spend my time doing silly things like watching Korean reality shows, dancing in front of the mirror, taking 1,001 selfies with different filters, and making random lists like 'nice baby names' and 'things that make me happy'.

So yes, I've let the cat out of the bag - although, really, it's not much of a secret because I'm sure everyone has things they do or think in private as well. So, what's keeping us from displaying them? Is it because how of brutal and judgmental society is? Or is it just because we care too much about what other people think?

Perhaps, this is a quote to consider:

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