Written by: Jessica Lau
We live in a world filled with inventions in this 21st century. An era of modernisation, an era of a new society, a new well-being, a new character built in every single living being residing on this planet. It is an era of new ideas, which started small from new thoughts. Thoughts to create new inventions to support and aid this new era of globalisation. ‘New’: a word that speaks out as different; not just a replacement of something that was lost or broken or thrown away.
New formulas for Math, Physics or Algebra are formed every day, new findings among the human species are discovered for new knowledge, we find new people in our lives not as a replacement for the old ones but for a different taste, a different perspective in life. We find someone new not to fill the wounds of a past lover, but because that new someone is the right one for us – but you could never ever forget the old. New is different, and to be different is not a good nor a bad thing. But it is something we should accept in ourselves, something everyone should accept in this civilization.
You may be a freshman at high school or a newbie in college or university who’s trying hard to find their way in the social crowd. You may be a part of a group you thought you could take pride in at the beginning, but only realise now you don’t seem to fit in at all. You may be the odd one out amongst a class of geniuses and you’re struggling, not because you’re dumb but because your mind works in different, complicated, beautiful ways that no one could ever try to understand. You may not have any friends because you’re afraid you can’t fulfill their standards of being a part of their lives, maybe because you’ve been called names and judged, real badly. Or maybe you were just invisible, alone in your own bubble, not wanting to be part of the social hive because you don’t get along well with the other kids. But trust me, it’ll all be fine.
Take it from me, a college kid, fighting through the piles of stress college gives me, trying to strive further and of course, swim and survive in a pool of people, homework, exams, and trying to be human.
I went to an elementary school swarmed with girls. Let me tell you, this wasn’t one of the best choices I’ve made. At that moment, it was an instant regret. I was called names, I was accused for being a part of fights, I was blatantly ignored and talked about just because I was always bright and happy, just because my personality differed from others. I didn’t have any friends. Well, maybe a few, but we drifted apart easily. But I had a friend. She was also an invisible species, never a part of anything just because she had a different skin tone, a different culture. But we found each other and we have been best friends for ten years since, and now we are in the same college together. This helped me realise that there are still nice people on this earth after all the traumatic experiences of drama in elementary school.
At the same time, I was also a part-time ballet dancer. I wouldn’t call it a regret, but I was going through that particular thought process in my life after 12 years of dancing. Being different in that place was dark. It felt like I was enclosed in a cage, an animal trying to come out, dying for freedom. There wasn’t a place for us to socialise, go a little crazy and be funky, because ballerinas are known to be disciplined, graceful and impeccable. And to be your funky self was to be un-impeccable to the instructors and to the other girls. I broke the rules once and I was then ignored, treated invisibly, talked about like I wasn’t there.
But it made me stronger at the same time. It made me realise that I couldn’t please everyone in this world, in this life. Though I wasn’t always a part of everything in high school either, I never stopped putting in effort to be myself. No matter how nice you are, no matter how kind or innocent you are, or how great you’re doing in your life, there will always be people watching from the sidelines, sidetracking you. But if you just focus on the work, and if you just focus on yourself, you’ll get there.
Despite your nationality, the tone of your skin, the language you speak, medium-class, rich or poor, though the ideas you wish to speak out may be wrong, don’t ever be afraid to have a voice of your own. Don’t be afraid to show a little flare of your character, don’t let anything toxic dull your sparkle.
It is of course precisely true that society today is changing and moving fast. If you’ve noticed enough, you will come to the realisation that society has been emphasising a lot on being different, on being a change for good and a voice with an impact.
In other words, this is what frustrates me. It’s amusing how a segment of society is a mask. Everyone is constantly preaching about the goodness of being different, but they never quite live up to the mantras they preach. I wouldn’t say that society doesn’t keep their word, but rather that society is still in the process of altering itself into the mindset of accepting differences in all people. This is because a lot of us still hide a part of our souls in the dark; too afraid for anybody to look at it and call it ugly, too terrified of being exposed because of people who form assumptions based on opinions they find true and evidential.
To you who’s reading this, maybe you aren’t confident enough to wear pretty dresses or bare backs just because you’re afraid you’ll be body-shamed. Maybe you wake up every day dreading to go to school after a terrible nightmare, or after a horrible night of crying yourself to sleep. Maybe you’re falling behind in classes, not because you’re lazy but because your heart just isn’t in it. Maybe you took up a particular course thinking you were going to make the most of it throughout the semesters, but only now realise that it isn’t what you wanted. Or maybe you’re still trying to figure out your life, questioning yourself about why you’re left out, getting stuck in a whirlwind of questions of what you did wrong, where it went offkey. Maybe you’ve lost someone, or they walked out the door without any valid reasons except that you aren’t ‘good enough for them’, because you’re loud, funny and you do embarrassing things, your mind full of crazy little thoughts hanging in there.
There’s so much to tell you and there’s so much to explain. But I can only tell you to love yourself. Love yourself not just by means of pampering yourself, but also by remedying yourself whenever you can. Please accept yourself for who you are. Don’t ever change for anything or for anyone. Be your bright, quirky, funky self or anything you want to be, anything you feel like being.
Please, be comfortable. Wake up tomorrow and pick out one of the craziest outfits you feel like wearing. Wear high heels or put on as much makeup as you want. Get out of that shell of yours. Ignore the stares and comments they give you because you are amazingly brilliant and pretty. Slay and get on with your day however you like. You want to do something crazy today, go ahead! You can eat as much comfort food as you want to but please remember to eat healthy. Be comfortable with your own will and determination. Have self-confidence. Stop hiding yourself in there! You are better than what you think. Stop giving yourself silly thoughts or lowering your own self-esteem by pitting yourself against those Instagram gurus. Stop giving yourself so much pressure based on what people might think of you just because you have a different element bonded to you or because you give a different light to some people’s eyes.
You bring colour to your own life. You are an amazing spaceship floating in your own thoughts in outer space, still exploring the unknown. But always bear in mind that you are not the result of your failed explorations or hopeless romantics. You are not your mistakes. You are not damaged goods. You are not the opinion of a stranger. You are a product of the lessons that you’ve learnt. And you are the person who survived the rainstorms and kept walking. You don’t let people change you just because you aren’t one of them, or because you aren’t a part of the popular group.
We are all bound to possess differences in this life, and we are the product of what made us who we are today. We absorb and handle what affects us differently. We are a source of pride for the roots from which we come from.
Dear you, I am writing this letter with courage and so much vulnerability in order for you to find your own happiness and for me to find my own too. I hope that after you come across this letter, you aren’t afraid any longer to flaunt and manifest yourself by your own mantra. Live by yourself and not by others. I hope you are happy and know your self-worth, how precious you are in this lifetime. You are a storm; strong, loud and striking. You are stunningly flawed. You are beautiful.