October 13, 2015

三十歲的約定

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這是我原本三十歲生日時給自己的挑戰,但我二月時膽小退縮了。上個月,我花了大筆錢(其實是老媽花的)買了一頂逼真自然的假髮,現在我非準備好了不可:)

光頭是給自己三十歲的挑戰與約定:我要不斷學習與成長,我要了解是社會上外表歧視的影響力,我要持續勇敢的面對自己做自己。

  1. 人生就是要不斷的學習與成長,因此,我喜歡旅行,認識新朋友,嘗試新鮮事,不斷踏出自己的舒適區,這是我懂事以來的原則。能繼續做個終生學習人,我需要看更多書走更多路爬更多山聽更多人的故事寫更多文章,從更多自我反省當中不斷成長。
  2. 其實我不知道lookism這要怎麼翻譯才對,外表歧視?刻板印象與歧視,這類的事情是無所不在,針對于外表,我們小時候被教育穿著要端莊整齊,頭髮要梳牙齒要白衣服要扎進去,十幾歲時我們開始愛漂亮學習化妝,大家都在追求美正帥可愛身材好,為什麼呢?因為現實社會確實是正妹得到的福利比較多,容易交朋友,容易有人願意幫忙,甚至工作比較好找。而這種不公平錯了嗎?我想說是但矛盾說不出口,因為這些觀念存在這社會每個角落根深蒂固存于每一個人經歷,是離不開我們的,畢竟進化論中物競天擇就是要找美的好基因,要改變這個事實,難吧。那,跟我剃光頭有什麼關係?“外表歧視”這概念,這世世代代社會化的概念,對我的影響有正面也有負面。我知道因為我白我眼睛大我不胖我的外表看似溫柔,剛認識我的人會比較願意跟我講話,買東西老闆對我比較客氣,一個人出去旅行的時候比較多人願意幫我提行李,迷路時比較多人願意幫我指路。我也知道,因為外表歧視這概念,讓十幾歲的我嫌棄自己臉很大嫌棄自己身材不好很自卑,讓二十幾歲的我因為出門畫了多少妝穿了什麼樣的衣服頭髮有沒有洗而感到沒有安全感。剃光頭是給自己的警惕。是一種不一樣的經歷,當我不再是溫柔長髮時,陌生人對你的態度有什麼改變?如何去認識新朋友建立新關係?

    剃光頭是帶給身邊的你們這樣的意識。要排除任何類型的歧視是很困難的,但只希望可以從建立意識開始,我們必須意識到這種歧視是存在的,了解它帶給我們的影響是什麼?好的與壞的。想想看,今天你第一次認識我,或在路上遇見我,你對我會有什麼樣的想法,什麼樣的評斷?這些想法與評斷對我們兩個的關係有什麼影響呢?

  3. 搬回美國的這兩年,經歷了一番自我省視的旅程,意識到一些家庭社會以及過去經歷帶給我的的瓶頸,失去了一些方向,一些信心,一些勇氣,一些自我。每個人都有不安全感,我也是。我們的不安全感與恐懼感,時不時會因不同情況或與不同人相處人引發出來,但同時當我回想起這30十年來,令我又驕傲又感慨人生的轉折點往往都是在我把自己扔出舒適區的侷限,在懼怕中找到平衡並征服不安全感。這是一個持續保有勇氣好好面對心中的恐懼,面對自己的約定。

This was a commitment statement I wrote myself on my 30th birthday in February. However, because of all kinds of fears, of course, I chickened-out and receded to my comfort zone. I compromised this challenge by buying a natural-looking wig as a safety net last month. So now, I have to be ready!

I will commit to continuously learning and growing, being more conscious of lookism, and being brave and accepting myself. 

  1. I am a lifelong student, constantly inspired by one’s growth and potential to grow more. The biggest joy in my life is when I am able to reflect back and see the development of my characteristics, values, or life philosophy through various life experiences and lessons. To be a lifelong student, I shall continue to aspire to be different, try out new things, meet more people, travel everywhere and experience more cultures, read more, listen to more stories, reflect more, and write more. So this is a commitment not just be a learner but a proactive one. Instead of waiting for experiences to come to me, I will set specific learning goals and take concrete actions to live my purpose.
  2. Like the majority of us, I grew up believing and depending on lookism, whether consciously or not. This socialization has brought both benefits and insecurities in my life. I know I have been more approachable, been treated nicer, accepted favors and received help from the world because of my look and the size of my body. I also know that I have felt shame and insecurity at times by the shape of my body, the amount of makeup I put on, and the types of cloths I’ve chosen to wear each day. While it is a tough battle to fight and I know I will never be able to live independent from lookism, this is a reminder to be consciously of its impact myself and an attempt to bring awareness to those around me.I want to experience the world not being a conventionally good looking woman. I want to know how it feels to be judged for differences, so that I can remind myself of the privileges I possess and have experienced. I also want to send a message to my friends and family. What kind of assumptions do you have if you meet me for the first time in your life? What does my baldness or short hair say about me? I want to acknowledge that it is only normal to have those assumptions or judgement, but take a moment to think what are the implications, what is the impact of these judgements or assumptions on your interaction with me as a person?
  3. I am an insecure person. I believe everyone is, in different contexts and at different levels. We all walk around in this world with fears, which get triggered at different point in our lives. Reflecting back in my life, the points of transitions that I valued the most have involved me stepping out of my comfort zone, allowing myself to be fearful, and overcoming the fear. I am fearful not to be pretty because I am fearful to be unlikable. I am fearful not to conform to societal norms because I fearful to be judged. Just like how behavioral psychologist desensitize fear systematically, the right amount of exposure to fear and discomfort may overcome the fear (right?) I want to be courageous about being myself, without a cover, without hiding behind my hair. Kind of like a less extreme version of walking on the street naked, this is an attempt to be free from the fear of judgement. Be myself and be OK with it.
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January 2, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Timelines

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I had a realization about a year ago, which I had already shared with many friends and family. It is time it goes on paper. As I was finishing up this blogpost, I came across The Atlantic’s post “All the Single Ladies, which reminds me of an issue that affects many of us. My post is nowhere near well-written or as empowering, but I hope my realizations can help liberate some of you, just as it did for me 🙂

In short, we do not need to follow a timeline placed on us that forces us to settle on anything less than what we desire. Last year, I came to the realization that I would one day adopt a baby. And this one day does not need be timestamped, and therefore neither does its conventional precursor — marriage. After all, the society will be just fine without marriage.

The word “timeline” is used everywhere, from professional settings to our personal lives. Every project, every proposal, every goal, and every action item require a timeline to be effective or valid. We often feel the need to have  a plan to track our progress towards a goal, to hold ourselves accountable, and to align ourselves with others. A timeline is like a pathway. It provides us with a sense of security of where we should start, what obstacles to anticipate, which milestones to hit, and when to celebrate the accomplishment.

Such timelines has guided us our entire lives. Children are governed by a timeline set by their parents — when they should eat, sleep, sit up, crawl, stand, walk, , and finally school. As an adult, we operate on yet another timeline — college, finding a job, buying a house, getting married, starting a family,, and the cycle repeats itself all over again. The society-prescribed timeline tells us what the “right” thing is to do and when the “right” time is to do it.  Each notch in these timelines  are check points of what the society defines as success. They help assure us that we are “on track”.

Towards the  end of the 20th century, an increasing number of women have chosen to receive higher education.. The timeline originally prescribed for women has shifted. Despite the continual delay in the timeline for marriage and raising children, women in the modern society still constantly face the pressure to get married. As much as women want to be independent and fulfill our lives before marriage and family, in reality, the biological clock ticks.

When I was 23, the thought of having a family suddenly started growing. I mapped out a timeline and decided that I have 3 years to meet the boy (trial-and-error). By 26, I would have settled with the one “perfect” guy, so that I can get married and be ready to have my first child at 28. The thought got me to center my life around prescribed notions. I evaluated every single man I met based on a list of criteria. I became addicted to reading about interior design, cooking, and parenting. I dreamed about the life of a domestic wife baking muffins and scones, scheduling play dates, and picnicking with my family on a Sunday afternoon. Being a graduate student at a social services program at the time, I transferred a lot of my passion for family and children into my work as a social worker. I knew that it was silly to get married at the age of 23, but I move that thought to the back of my mind.

This thought ended up clouding every date I went on and every relationship I got into. And with the desire to start a family within the timeline I gave myself, anxiety accumulated. I betrayed my own conscience and the people I love. I hesitated pursuing a fulfilling career that I was passionate about. I limited my opportunities to living in a confined area that gave me a bigger chance of finding the right man. I rushed into a relationship almost three years ago because I created a fairytale for myself that made everything seemed so destined. And I disregarded my career prospects when I felt I had to rescue this “dream”.

The past six and a half years of my life has been guided by external factors rather than internal aspiration. When another break-up came last year, I knew something about my then-life philosophy was very off. Timeline and expectations strangled me.

And then two things happened.

I read Going Solo , which was about people of all ages who choose to live alone, and their reasons, anecdotes, and reflections. In developed modern cities, it is considered a luxury to live alone, and it is not correlated with loneliness, social circles, or happiness. Being single doesn’t mean being single for the rest of your life, and having a partner right now also doesn’t mean that you will have a company all your life. They are only stages in your life that you alternate between. Everyone is going to have to be alone at some point in your life, so you might as well learn how to enjoy independence by being by yourself earlier. I want to love myself and love being by myself before I let anyone else be in my life.

Secondly, I developed the determination to adopt a child in my life. In fact, I actually do not care if I have my own child or not. If the only reason that most women on earth are bound to a biological timeline is that they need to give birth healthily and to a healthy baby, I no longer have anything to worry about.  Even if you want a child with you own genes, there are other alternatives as well. We live in a world where you can freeze your eggs and have a surrogate to carry your child. With life expectancy increasing each year, there is no doubt that medical technology will be developed to give women the choice to extend or delay their biological timeline.

These two revelations were liberating.

I want a companion, or a partner who can accompany me to do things that I desire and enjoy, and inspire me to learn and grow. However, this past year, I have chosen to focus on and better myself without the pressures of an external timeline. He would instead, fit into a timeline I set for myself — a timeline in which I would already be always learning and living life the way I want to.

“We are constantly changing. we may slow down as we get older, but we will be changing, and we should accept that. whatever you plan right now may not come true. important to fulfill yourself at the moment then you wont regret because you have not stopped growing.” — Dan Gilbert

May 24, 2014

Protected: A Smart and Beautiful Girl whose Life is Doomed?

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May 16, 2014

An Illness as an Identity

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Two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with a condition that can potentially stay with me for the rest of my life. Two weeks in, I have come to peace with the condition. And I’d like to reflect and note down the interesting emotional roller-coaster.

In psych we learn about Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Even though researchers have overthrown the idea of five consecutive stages, I am going to use it to think about what I went through.

So I had not been very good with physical exams all my life — a common trait I found among most of my friends with a doctor parent. I am also a natural optimist, who tends to dismiss the discomfort on my body easily. This time I procrastinated going to the hospital for 2 month and a half months. During my first visit, my doctor provided a tentative diagnosis of some kind of temporary inflammation. I remember walking out of the hospital feeling relieved, being able to get an answer to my discomfort in the past 2/3 months. I read information on medline and shared that with my family and friends. The treatment was easy. My doctor anticipated it healing in a couple weeks with medicine.

Denial & Anger. When the test results came back a day later, my father instantly concluded my condition with a different diagnosis when I sent the results to him. I remember being very angry and annoyed (which was so easy to do when the doctor is your family). I did not want to believe him, and I insisted that I will wait for the follow-up with my doctor. At the same time, I started googling the condition and imagining a whole spectrum of possibilities. The diagnosis came as a shock to me. I hear people talk, I did some research, but I also dismissed whatever I heard and read. I wanted to procraste knowing if anything is real. And I was holding onto the hope that additional blood tests, EKG, echocardiogram, chest x-ray, etc, will exonerate myself.

Depression & Anger. Just in this process of waiting for more confirmation and guessing all the possibilities, I got a little depressed. I got depressed because I just got five bottles of wine last week. I got depressed because I won’t be able to run a marathon or try one outdoor sport every weekend like I JUST courageously made my mind to.  I got depressed because I felt guilty with how badly I have treated my body my whole life, thinking about all the “Have I had or ”. I got depressed because I potentially need to give up some of the things I love. I got depressed knowing that I now have limitations in life for trying out things I haven’t tried, which are a lot. I got depressed because I am no longer invincible like I thought I was.

It is scary and depressing because I was fighting with the unknowns and filling them with lots of “what-ifs”.

Bargaining. And then there is the debate about whether it is better to “live happy but short” or “live long but restricted”. Is it worth giving up drinking wine, for example, so that I could keep this condition in control, avoid other complications, and thus live longer? Or should I just enjoy the here and now, living my life the fullest now.

Acceptance. A week later, I finally talked to a doctor specialized in the area of my condition. He was extremely positive and energetic. He sounded confident and assured me that this is very prevalent in young women and the treatment is simple and effective. While the information I got from him was no different from what I had gotten from my father earlier, I was able to accept it openly. Just after that day, the depression was gone.

I have, now, accepted this as part of my identify. And all of the sudden it feels different. All the negativities is gone and I am learning to embrace any change brought upon me.

A word to those whose close friend or family is going through a diagnosis

There are two doctors in my immediate families, which made my life both easier and harder. I know that they worry about me. I know that whatever they do is for my own good. But inevitably it becomes annoyance sometimes. Them asking me every single detail about my conversation with the doctors — every exact word in our dialog, exact shape of my EKG, and exact frequency and intensity of my discomfort, etc — gave me stress. And the next thing you noticed is the downward spiral of your emotions with self-fulfilling prophecies.

Maybe everyone copes with stress differently. Some people prefers you being part of the discovery process, doing research with them, asking questions with them, and visiting the doctor with them. Some people prefers having the time and space to deal with it on their own. And some people prefers different degree of either. The patients should be the ones to let you know what works best for them at what moment.

Nonetheless, whether they want hand-holding or independence during this process, you need to have empathy. You do not let them feel like a patient. You do not let them feel inferior because of the illness. You give them facts about what you see, hear, and know, but you do not give them any judgment or emotions. You care and show them that you care, but you do not show or tell your worries or sadness.

A word to someone who is going through a diagnosis

Dan Gilbert shares that “Our longings and our worries are both to some degree overblown because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience”

You are angry maybe just because you haven’t digested the information well, maybe you are still in shock, maybe your families are too worried and causing you stress, maybe there were still lots of unknowns to how bad it is and how much you will need to change, maybe you just needed to let it all out by being angry and depressed, maybe you just haven’t found the right way to put this label on yourself.

But believe that everything you are feeling right now is only temporary.

Think about all the things that you CAN still do rather than the things you can no longer do. There are always things that you can feel lucky doing.

Maybe I am just a natural optimist. This period can be longer or shorter for different people and different conditions. I am lucky that this, though possibly chronic, is nothing serious and very common. Two weeks are relatively very short period of time to go through the grieving process and coming to fully accept it as part of oneself. It will be challenging for other conditions and it is okay if this takes longer. Please just have faith that we human beings have the capacity to overcome any challenges and embrace any changes. You will be stronger after this.

April 9, 2014

A Different Side of San Francisco

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A little more than three years ago, I moved to San Francisco, because there was a natural flow of free spirits in every corner of the city.

This city celebrates diversity. I am not just talking about a place with multi-ethnic or international people, but it’s a home to people of all races, socio-economic statuses, activism interests, fashion trends, fetishes, etc. The city is accepting. It creates an atmosphere that everyone can be happy being exactly who they are. It is a source of confidence, freedom, independence, self-reliance, and creativity. I also love that every neighborhood in the city has its own style, its own culture, its own signature, and yet I didn’t see it as segregation. But rather, it’s as if every neighborhood puts out a sign saying, “This is who I am and what I love. If you think I am different or weird, awesome. Welcome, and get a better taste of me.” The city is a symbiosis of all differences. People move here to find their own space, to find freedom. You are free, by being yourself, instead of being bounded by social and cultural norms.

However, moving back again this time, I started to see a different side of San Francisco. Specifically, I saw closed-mindedness, social conservatism, family and community norms, and the associated bondages, clashes, and internal struggles.

My Normal is Not Normal

Since I moved back, I have been working at a local community-based organization that runs after school program in San Francisco. It is a small organization, and most of my coworkers are born, raised, and received education in San Francisco or surrounded cities. Yes, we are a mix of all colors of black, brown, yellow, and white. But no, my coworkers, these original San Franciscans, do not exemplify the free spirits I had associated San Franciscans with until now.

To understand who I am talking about, my coworkers are not or did not grow up in low-income families per se. A few of them are first generation immigrants but many are not; many have lived generations in San Francisco. All of them hold a bachelor degree, and a few also have a master. However, some of them have not traveled outside of California, or minimally to southern California. Most of them have been with this local organization for 5 to 10 years. I realized, these are THE averaged Americans.

There are moments of cultural shock to realize my normal is drastically different from their normal, even though we now work at the same organization.

I know that the difference stems from the privileges that I carry around. However, it is very difficult to pinpoint one source — the privilege of what?! Have I not been born into a family of higher educated parents, I wouldn’t have been expected to be on top of the class growing up, I wouldn’t have learned English so well, I wouldn’t have chosen or afford to study abroad, and thus I wouldn’t have been many many other things. The norm that pushed me to apply to the top twenty colleges, the norm for me to get a graduate degree, the norm to choose a career that I am passionate about, and the norm that I should continuously improve myself to maximize my value and make a bigger impact for myself or other people, are not the same norm my coworkers have. It’s hard not to question my coworker who’s 35 years old but is still working at a rate of $15 an hour. It’s hard to explain to them how I don’t consider traveling to Chicago for the weekend “traveling” because I have moved across the country and around the world. It’s hard for me to understand how someone never uses bullet points or numbering functions when they have been working in an office setting for 10 years.

I urge myself not to judge, because my norm is not their norm. Instead, I tell myself these are the privilege that I wouldn’t even have realized had I not chosen to work in a local organization.

Clashing Values

One of my coworker was born in Hong Kong. She moved to America when she was 9 and had lived in San Francisco since then. She visited Hong Kong about 4 times the past 17 years. Half of her families are here in San Francisco, and half are still in Hong Kong. As I get to know her, it appears to me that while she speaks better English and understands more American culture, my value system is definitely more “western” and liberal than hers. Or sometimes, I would tell her that she is “more Chinese”, more conservative than I am.

To name  a few differences we have, she sees San Francisco a dangerous city. She stays away from downtown areas and hangs out only in the sunset/excelsior most of the time. She still feels intimidated by certain parts of the city and simply avoids going into neighborhood like the height and tendorloin. She holds a very strong stereotype for people of all colors. And she still prefers Chinese food over Mexican, Italian food, or other non-Asian food.

Moreover, she has a stronger tie to her family, and sometimes the type of conflicted love/hate relationship with her father, mother, and her relatives. She lives with her mother and feels obligated to keep it that way, even though she and her mother barely talk to each other. All her dad’s side of the family lives in San Francisco. But every Christmas or Thanksgiving, she waits for her friends to invite her to their family dinner because her family has never celebrated American holidays. She is totally fine with it , nonetheless, as she hates hanging out with her relatives, she once told me. The relatives are mean and gossipy, and yet, she feels obligated to keep in touch with them and be present at every family events.

And finally, she has been in America, and specifically San Francisco, for almost twice as long time as she had lived in Hong Kong, and yet she still considers Hong Kong her home, not San Francisco.  She still identifies herself more with Chinese than Americans. However, she has not feel like she could leave the city easily, again, because of the conflicting family ties.

And I thought about our differences and realized, this is not a Chinese vs. Western/American thing, or living in China vs. America. This is about the clashes between family values and the environment one is put in.

I can’t agree that the Chinese immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s have made the right decision migrating to America because I really don’t know if their decedents are happier than those who stayed in Hong Kong. Unless one has a strong will and personality to actively seek to change their perspectives or step out of their comfort zone, the influence from the original family, community, and culture stays with this person. And for someone like my coworker, it creates this conflicting experience and anxiety, living in a liberal city like San Francisco.

Privilege of Exposure

Speaking of immigrant families, I thought about other first or second generation immigrant families that I have met in San Francisco through work. Two of the six schools I manage are Chinese immersion school, which means that all classes are taught in Chinese. The classroom management style mimics that in China, but the structure fits into American education system/policy. I observe and hear stories about these Chinese families living in San Francisco. The question that kept storming in my head is, are these kids better off had their families not migrated to America?

The working class immigrants in the United States are marginalized. Even though the majority of these Asian immigrant families have worked their way out of poverty, I am not sure how much better off their children are compare to their counterparts in Hong Kong. The parents worked so hard to make ends meet, but because of the fear they hold, not knowing the languages and culture, they keep themselves in a small circle to protect themselves/their families. As a result, the first generation children grow up having limited access to resources and information. This keeps the immigrant children ignorant about people of other races, and thus the discrimination. This also hinders them from enjoying my-so-called “free spirits” in the city because they have developed the safety mechanism to shut out the unknown.

The more I think about this, the more I want to conclude that my privilege is about my exposure, or to be exact, the security that keeps me safe, physically and emotionally, to explore and be exposed to new people, places, and things. With the safety net provided by my parents as a kid, I was exposed to all sorts of learning opportunities and developed my confidence. It is chicken-and-egg that drove me to take more risks, try new things, learn more, which lead to the privilege to have gone to a top college in the states, that in itself, distinguished my experience from that of others.

Even though I may be making the same amount of money with the similar weight of responsibilities as my coworker, we take our job drastically differently. To me from the beginning, this job is about what I am providing for the children and what I am learning from the experience, rather than what is on my paycheck. I am privilege to know that this is only a temporary position because I am privilege not to be afraid of change and privilege to know that I need to constantly see myself improving and assuming more responsibility.

Anyways…

No matter how a big city reveals itself to the rest of the world, it is not the entire story.  Even though people in the world associate San Francisco as the new bourgeoisie society with hipsters artists and an influx of software engineers or data scientists, even though the media celebrates innovation and portrays the techies and hippies as the norm, even though most people we connect and hang out with seem to fit into the profile media created, note that it is not the entire story.

A word to my cousins and fellow friends from Northwestern, Uchicago, and the bay area — I know that to many of us, working internationally or calling multiple places home is “normal”. Please look farther around, and see THE average Americans. We are not the norm.

Recognize the privilege we have and keep yourself constantly aware of it. It makes you humble. And being humble brings you to a different world.

January 28, 2014

在最好的時候,遇見你

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When you see a pattern in your life, do you get rid of it?

Again, it is when life is this complicated that I forget to write, forget to digest, forget to give myself the space I need. Please.

I see these movie trailers and remember why heartbroken people like to watch sad movies and bawl with bags of chips. The comfort comes from the connection, the sense of belonging, that “yes, I feel your pain”. This storyline is foolish, but something about the tearing pain from this movie trailer got me. Something about the deep screaming sadness resonated with my heart. It grabbed my attention. And I sickly want that emotion, as though I could test my immunity.

And I read a book this week. It was a simple book with chapters of short  stories. All the stories sounded quite fictional and, again, foolish. However, I feel the emotions behind the stories. I completely connected with the life lessons she concluded with, as if I wrote the book.

“忘記從什麼時候開始的,會天天提醒自己要堅強。在那個還被允許可以軟弱的年紀,就已經直接跳過練習堅強的階段,正面迎向人生終難以下咽的事實。日子亦久,好像也真的沒有什麼了不得的事情可以難倒自己。日子亦久,因為不會忘記要呼吸所以當然也不會忘記要堅強。

因為不習慣示弱習慣要堅強,就算堅強是不被需要的倔犟>
因為知道受了傷沒什麼大不了,每個人都是帶著傷疤過日子。
因為知道自己可以讓傷口好起來,只是不確定要花多久時間。
因為到了今天得自己懂了

滿身傷疤的自己比矇懞懂懂的自己更加美麗

“小時候的我們誘人甜美,單純愚蠢,不管是失個戀或考試失利,對自己來說都是世界末日。我們全心全意的懊悔,投注所有心神去痛苦悲戚。因為,對當時的我們來多,那就是我們的全世界。那時候遇到的失敗與苦難,只是人生挫折的開始,卻也是將來能擁有美好人生所必需經歷的磨練

“相處的重要性遠大於相愛,要學會了相處,相愛才會變得更有意義。

”“面對愛情的折磨我們總是特別無助,無助的原因不單單只是因為情愛的來去消逝總無緣由,更是因為折磨自己的有時不是別人,就是我們自己。”

“不要害怕改變,一定要等到一腳扎扎實實的踏出去了,站在十字路口前迷惘了,你才會知道這一切對不對,值不值得”

“我們常會突然反省自己是不是正在浪費人生,卻又讓這樣的念頭進安遺忘。等待下一次在想起來的時候,又再一次提醒自己一定要去做移些有意義的事情”

By the way, the belief that you could be a princess will crush you hard. So shut up those of you who portray your life as fairy tales. You’re the cause of a lot of misery on earth, unless that is your intention.

在當下,快樂一點。
不要活在過去整天緬懷過去,
不要活在未來整天做夢計劃未來,
take actions & 活在現在吧

November 8, 2013

Lookism


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Will you be more worried about having a stupid daughter or an ugly daughter? The fact that I contemplate about that question for more than minute makes me worried.

There is a recent article about a Chinese man who successfully sued his wife for having done plastic surgeries but deceiving him and giving him “ugly children”. This was all over facebook from multiple news sources yesterday, with a picture of the three children and their parents. It made me SICK. The ridiculous thing is that these articles support the decision ruling. What exactly is the media thinking advertising pictures of the “ugly children”. What is this going to do to the kids, when they grow up believing that they have been a mistake because their father thinks their mother is “ugly” by birth and made them “ugly”.

Recently, I heard an interview with an American who teaches English to high school girls in South Korea. She was shock to learn that the high school girls are actively encouraged to learn to look “good”, including dressing well, practicing to wear make-up, and most importantly getting ready to receive plastic surgery, which often time are incentives parents give to encourage college admission. The reason is that good looking is directly associated with success in Korea. Looking good is one obvious way girls in Korea are taught to put active efforts in in order to be successful in life.

Something is clearly wrong. But is it just in Asia?

Coming back to the States and taking on a non-demanding job, I have more time to follow blogs and webpages. There are a lot of posts that teach young girls things like to love themselves just the way they are, not to let their look determine their worth because it doesn’t, etc. For example, there was a 15 second video that went viral. It depicts how a normal looking topless girl was photoshoped into a top model. Her legs were made longer, thighs and calves thinner, stomach flatter, skin glowing, chin sharper, eyes bigger, etc. This type of culture is affecting the girls all over the world, not just in Asia.

For my job now, I observe how after school runs. The other day when I was observing snack procedures, a 3rd-grader came up to the snack stand, looked at the piece of bread in the basket, and said to the girl next to her ” Do you want to share? I don’t want to eat that much”…… It was one small piece of roll. I was surprised how the idea of dieting is already getting into the mind of a 10-year-old.

The scary thing is, sometimes when I see these ads for girls, I don’t necessarily agree 100% with “look is not equal to worth”. I still advocate to girl friends to be mindful about their body. Try to eat healthy and dress well. I still cannot deny the fact that good-looking people tend to have more and sometimes better opportunities in the world. And I still can’t deny that I feel happier when I am wearing heals and make-up and bad when I have a double-layered tummy when I sit down. Looking good does make ourselves feel good.

Sometimes I ask my friends the question “will I be more worried if my future daughter was ugly or stupid?” Honestly, I don’t have a straight-up answer! It is not because I value outer beauty more than intelligence, but it is just the fact that in the current reality, pretty girls do get all the perks. And maybe that is exactly what needs to change.

There are debates among social activists and policy makers about building different categories into the discrimination law. And lookism is one of them. I am just really glad that I live in a country that are currently having conversations about these issues, rather than ones that require a head-shot photo on our resumes. However, honestly, imagining how lookism can be prohibited by law, when appearance is such a subjective judgement, as oppose to female vs. male, I know this is a long way to go.

I guess one thing I can do now is to show my disgust for that article and raise some awareness to lookism..

November 4, 2013

如果分手是要練習的

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如果分手是要練習的,我想知道要練習幾次才能算學會,誰可以鑑定我們練習夠了沒?

這三五年,一個人也慣了,有時候也挺享受。一個人其實真的不難,要勇敢要堅強很容易,都是努力就辦得到的表現。而兩個人與一個人最大的差別,就是多了一個心靈的寄託,心靈的避風港,隨時給予無形的安全感,一個不用堅強的理由,一個可以喘口氣的休息站。如同baby練習走路在踏出第一步的時後回頭看媽媽一眼,得到了肯定得到了安全感後,自信地大步往前走。只是一股從內而發的力量,因為信任他,因為信任自己,因為信任他信任自己。

但如果兩個人在一起產生的不是信任不是心靈上正面的力量,避風港成了炮台,一加一開始小於二,愛越多變得恨越多,我愛你等於在恨自己。因為我們練習過分手,所以我們選擇了分手。只是如果我成了分手專家,也不是一件值得慶祝的事,那也許還是閉嘴來的恰當。

分手這種事,練習練習著,我們開始忘了去求救,因為我們以為,心沒有什麼理由應該這麼痛。到了一個年紀,分分合合大家看的都是笑話而已,悲傷人們都知道,情緒都只是暫時的而已。說出你的悲傷,好像是懦弱的表現,因為這種小事,誰沒有經歷過呢?

An intriguing article about twisted things to say to a girl during a breakup notes that “Don’t worry. You will find someone else “is a fucked up thing to say.  Yes, I know that I will find someone else one day. But NO, I am not worried about having to find someone else right now. And NO, finding someone will not be the reason that makes me feel better about the break-up, and NO, being alone is not the reason a breakup  makes me sad. “Recognize that a breakup can be sad just because of the breakup itself, not because of any greater implication about the direction of the person’s romantic life from here on out”.

我不是刻意要練習分手的。只是,我不得不承認,每一次分手,都有太多領悟,學到很多,看到自己又在蛻變。

這一個月,我回到了一個人,但我過得很好。

October 2, 2013

The bubble I created

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I created a bubble and put myself in it. I truly believed that in this bubble, I could live happily ever after. I mean, of course, that was the whole point of the bubble. It was meant to be perfect for myself.

Little did I know, the bubble was not enough unless I put another person in it. And little did I know, once I put other person into my perfect bubble, we’d suffocate. The only way out was busting the bubble to take the pressure off from him, and from me.

And boom, my bubble was gone.

Silly girls never learn. I thought I wasn’t one. But somehow I have become the expert of blowing and busting bubbles.

The thing is. I don’t know how to stop blowing bubbles. This is what has kept me going, isn’t it? With hope and with dream. I did create some bubbles that only involved myself. It is like all this time I have been hypnotizing myself that I didn’t care, that I have other dreams, that I know what I want for myself and how I can get what I want, and that I have been happy and content by myself. When in fact, I am lost. I am more lost than ever, exactly because I thought I had been through enough and I have it all figured out.

This is how we learn, by stumbling upon our own foot. This is how we learn. By hurting others and hurting ourselves. I know.. this is how we learn.

I needed to make a choice, but I am not the only factor, the only player of the choice. I know being who I am now, I am not entitled to pure selfishness. I refused to be selfish, childish, stubborn like I had been all my life, but I could not face myself. And I am lost. There was no easy way out. I don’t want to settle, but I have accepted that this was not settling but a challenge and a life lesson. However, fundamentally, ultimately, what drove me away, what crushed me, what made me give up, was not the resistance to settle. It was love.

There are people who do not know how to love. I mean, I am still learning and in fact, we are all learning. But perhaps we ought to realize that the reason that we exist, the key to happiness, and the meaning for life, all come from love. Our love for the people, for the society, for the nature, and for the world, is where happiness comes from.

I thought, 路是平的美的安全的

Because it was a road I created in my mind. Because I made myself believe that all of this was finally the answer I deserved. Because I thought I have had enough and it is time that I stop struggling. Because I thought I had learned and I was ready….

No road is safe. No road is smooth. It is just part of life that we fall and rise. We are never ready, so always be prepared to walk a bumpy road. Stop living in the bubbles.

September 21, 2013

傳播..恨?

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雲南騰沖這地方聽同事說過很多次,想來一直沒機會來,上週在保山開會,週末就一個人順道來了騰沖,住在和順古鎮裡。騰沖其中一個著名的景點 國殤墓園,是一個大陸極少數看得到中華民國的國旗,青天白日滿地紅旗張揚掛著,讓市民可朝拜的地方,墓園說著抗日戰爭的故事,追悼當時國民黨士兵遠征軍,慶祝光復、祭奠忠烈。前幾個月,忠烈祠旁邊,開了間抗戰紀念博物館,民宿的老闆推薦我進去走走。

可能是我來的時間不是旺季,又一直下雨,騰沖裡人不是特別多,然後也不知道是不是因為很難得有景點不收門票,這座博物館是幾個景點中,比較擁擠的,尤其小孩也不少。在一層樓的博物館中前後待了將近3小時,很多事情讓我觸目驚心,花了一些時間才消化下來。

其實我歷史很不好,只有國中畢業的程度,之後看的書也不夠多,很多歷史常識都搞不清楚,所以這次認真的看歷史博物館陳述的故事,我很難鑑定什麼是大陸的主觀說法,什麼是客觀的,我也不懂,是不是所有的歷史博物館都可能給我這樣的感覺。只是,三小時過後,我好多疑問,好多不舒服。

這座博物館主要在介紹世界一戰和二戰之間,中國軍隊在滇西抗日戰爭時扮演的角色。幾年之內,緬甸交界雲南怒江以西保山騰沖等地方先後被佔領,博物館又各種方是敘說人民如何被凌虐,經濟如何被擠垮,以及後來中國遠征軍"飛虎隊"在美軍支援的情況下,用什麼樣的戰略,攻打下日軍,迫離開雲南領土,然後這項"勝利"因而助了二次大戰的結束。 整個博物館塑造了中國軍隊遇到了各樣災難,遇到了狡猾邪惡的敵軍時,很艱辛很了不起,以及塑造了中國人愛國及熱愛和平的氣氛,讓我有一點不舒服。

其中關於日軍凌虐人民以及慰安婦的介紹,令我印象最深刻。有一個展覽室,放了一些受害中國人的照片及敘述,令人不解的是,它放了兩段影片,不斷重複播放,並敘述日軍如何輪姦虐待後殺害女人、如何砍頭、如何將人放在大桶子用滾水活煮,還有把人從頭到腳從中間切兩半,一堆堆屍體,各式各樣暴力的照片、影片、圖畫,毫不保留沒有馬賽克。重點是,我身邊三四個小孩,當我看了眼淚都掉出來的時候,身邊的大人似乎完全沒有要把小孩的眼睛摀住的打算。

我不懂為什麼,這麼做到底有什麼目的?

Teach For China前兩年有位美國來的日本裔老師在雲南教書,不到半年即退出,離開中國。因為受不了當地老師家長甚至學生的歧視。還有來自美國,中日混血的老師,因為害怕,一直沒有公布自己的血統,另外也聽過好多在偏遠地方無辜被殺害的日本人。所謂的hate crime 不就是這麼來的嗎,都70年前的事了,這些仇恨,過去黑暗的歷史,為什麼要繼續加注在下一代的腦裡?

我同意現代人應該多瞭解歷史,了解人心險惡,以警惕自己不再犯歷史上犯過的錯,但在了解的過程當中,真的不應該在這世上創造更多仇恨。我很生氣建造博物館的人是否想過陳列的後果,這樣知識水準普遍不高這麼多小孩的地方的博物館,如果沒有適當的教育、適當的導讀,有多少人因而對日本人充滿了敵意,而是否在未來有一天會帶走一個人的生命?

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博物館最後展覽室裡總結了一段話,印象也很深,「反觀今日世界,戰爭陰影仍在,世界並不太平。尤其是日本國內右翼勢力不斷擴展,參拜戰爭罪犯亡靈,挑戰二戰後的國際秩序。竟公然染指我固有領土的釣魚島。對日本軍國主義復活應保持高度警惕。中國,作為東方大國,一貫奉行和平發展的方針,中國改革開放以來,經濟、社會,取得其迅速發展,但"中國夢"既是強國夢,也是和平夢。」

崇尚和平這是個好結論,但覺得好諷刺,共產黨難道沒有對自己的人民做過這類型的事嗎?想到了汕頭鄉下山上的那間文革博物館裡陳述的故事,這種共產黨過去的矛盾,我很想知道有一天會由誰來解開,不過短期之內這博物館應該會繼續面臨被關的危機吧。

另外,我也想到,二戰的結束,基本上是因為美國丟下原子彈,而世界至今對此事件仍批評不斷。但這兩顆子彈是不是實際上因為結束大戰而救了當時許多受虐的老百姓?只是現代的我們,看到的是快70年後還存留下來,對於無辜的人的傷害,所以會去做這樣的評斷,如果回到當時會怎麼做?確實許多人認為這是對他們的懲罰嗎?戰爭的環境下,有人投降後,勝利者總舉旗慶祝,接下來的歷史不斷歌頌,引以為榮,我覺得這點其實很可悲,因為從老百姓的生活上來說,國家的勝敗都是一樣的,勝利只是帶來了希望,實際上的苦大概是一樣的吧。

總之歷史大概是沒有所謂的真相,喜歡歷史的人,應該去讀各個國家出版的歷史書,從不同的角度去探討這些所謂的歷史,我還滿好奇日本人怎麼看二戰的,怎麼看慰安婦的。

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