Monthly Musings: Fighting Misconceptions

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Prompt: What are some things you believed in as a kid which turned out to be false?

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That the world is a safe place.

– Natasha A.

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Coming from a typical Asian family and being part of the High School Musical generation (i.e. watching the movies more times than I can count and memorizing the lyrics to all the songs), my mother convinced eight-year-old me that the students in HIGH SCHOOL musical were UNIVERSITY students. My parents enforced the “no dating until university” belief so much that I genuinely spent a number of years believing that Troy and Gabriella were university students, which was why they were dating. Needless to say, I was very confused when they were talking about going to university in HSM3, until I grew up and figured it out. And watching High School Musical actually made me believe that high school was going to be this magical, super fun, amazing place where I would meet my own Troy Bolton, so you can guess how that turned out. 

– Jaclyn Heng

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When I was younger, I used to believe in the tooth fairy. I would put my freshly extracted tooth under my pillow and wake up the next day to find a Ringgit underneath it. But one day I had to face the cold hard truth when I woke up to nothing underneath my pillow – not even my tooth. Basically my mom took the tooth but forgot to replace it with money. So in conclusion, I now know that the tooth fairy isn’t real. Heartbreaking, I know.

– Anonymous 

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There’s a beauty to smiling at strangers, a moment of belonging when two smiles meet. When I was a kid, it was easy to come by; smiles were like shapes in clouds, easy to find and seldom secret. But as I grew up, they were hesitant, tight-lipped and absent from the eyes. Held for a moment too long and they contorted into awkward silences; held for just the right amount of breaths and they spread, from lips to eyes to hearts. 

– Zafra Usman Anfas

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I believed many things as a child. That my eyesight would prevail through reading using a torchlight under the covers. That the spider peacefully spinning a web at the far end of my ceiling would come crawling into my mouth at night. That my favorite dress would fit forever and the more butterfly clips in my hair, the better.

I also believed in my parents’ bond. I believed in stability. I believed in peaceful love and easy lives and a future full of joy. I believed in mansions that I’d someday explore, and my destiny to achieve monumental feats. I believed I was special. My point is: I believed many things as a child, but I’m not a child anymore. 

– Fajar

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Based on some of the movies I’ve watched as a little girl, I used to think the act of kissing would lead to the couple having a baby.

Well, that was how it was portrayed to be. I can recall a hilarious moment during my mother’s birthday when my parents kissed. I went,

“Am I a big sister now?”

This continued up to when I was 13 years old and read my very first (detailed) fanfiction. Oh my god, I was never the same innocent girl again.

– Anonymous 

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When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was grow up.

Because five-year-old me believed that being an adult meant being a god: someone who knows the solution to every problem. Someone who knows the answer to every question. Someone who has their life figured out.

Oh, kid, if only you knew how wrong you were.

Being an adult means having the glass of our fishbowl crack; to suddenly swim in what feels like a bottomless ocean. Being an adult means having the door of our birdcage break; to suddenly fly in what feels like an endless sky.

Being an adult means being a newborn again — only this time, we’re on our own. Whether we choose to swim or sink, fly or fall — every choice is for us, and us only, to decide.

Now, as an adult, I am far from what I believed I was going to be. There were times when my fins would fail to swim; when I didn’t know the solution to every problem. There were times when my wings would fail to fly; when I didn’t know the answer to every question.

But I believe that’s okay. I believe that as long as we keep our fins moving, keep our wings flapping, there is no need to worry. I believe that as each day passes, we will grow even closer to the solution, to the answer, as we grow even more as a person.

And I believe that one day, we will sail with the waves and soar with the winds.

One day, we will have our lives figured out.

– Anonymous

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I used to believe that the sun rises in the West, touching skin and hair with white and gold. Everyone said so.

At school, at home, I was taught to contort my tongue into odd shapes, into strange words, that were foreign even to my own mother. To succeed is to imitate the pioneers, they said; hubris and blue contact lenses masking an imposter syndrome. Some had already forgotten how to say their own name. I don’t know why this became symbolic of intelligence, of education. I still don’t know why.

But it’s not true, is it? The medium of channels does not determine the core or the crown. Language is a tool for communication, but wielded for segregation, subjugation, deemed irredeemable if different.

Everyone said so, that the sun rises in the West; but the white and gold photo frame of my ancestors say otherwise. And though my mother only spoke Mandarin, her words are music that raises up a country.

– Rin

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