It’s that season again – Back to School! If you’re not me, that is…
Some of us are quitting summer jobs, doing last minute supply shopping, setting up outfits for the first day of school, or wondering how the summer went by so fast. Those were much simpler times when the most amount of stress came from a mix of peer pressure and the parental pressure to succeed in school. (I don’t know a lot of kids at that age who deep down choose to do well in school for themselves, rather than to not disappoint their parents… Against those bastard children your parents compare you to who are SOOO friggin perfect…)
Between all the hormones and the need to fit in but stand out on the same time, middle school through college can be a whirlwind of trials and tribulations to which you use to find and create your self image. Everything seems to matter more, everything is life and death and the people around you will definitely be the people around you for the rest of your life… Only they’re not… Sorry.
My high school graduating class just celebrated its 10th year with a reunion. I did not participate in said reunion because I was not in the country. More specifically, because I no longer live in the same country I grew up in. Since graduating from college, I’ve worked several years in a field I did not get a degree in, marry my long distance boyfriend of five years I met over the Internet and moved to an adjacent country. (Canada is just America Lite though, am I right?)
If you said these events would happen to my twelve year old impressionable self, I’d have said you were crazy because there’s no way you could really get to know someone through Instant Messaging in dial-up connection because it would keep dropping every time someone called your house. That plus there was no such thing as Skype at the time, so you’d never see their face live. You’d depend on film developed photos being physically mailed to you because scanners weren’t a big thing yet. (Catfish anyone?)
Heck, until the age of thirteen I wasn’t allowed to use a PC without supervision because I kept messing up the computer somehow and didn’t know how to start DOS, nor did I understand the function SAVE AS. I distinctly remember the computer spewing smoke and my mother screaming “WHAT DID YOU DO?!” Now I code and design websites for PC and mobile devices for a living, while my mother still calls me for things she could simply GOOGLE herself.
The point is, shit changes. A lot.
Through the use of modern technology and social media I am able to keep in contact with my old friends and stalk their private lives from afar. Sometimes I try to be less of a horrible friend/person and thumbs up an event or photo, but most of the time I’m just silently trying to keep up with who is pregnant and who has already given birth to their second child. Meanwhile I’m posting up pictures of guns I’ve purchased or stupid heavily filtered Instagram Photos – to the surprise of those who knew me before I became such a selfie whore.
See, before the age of 19, I had refused to post an image of myself online because I was one of those emo/rocker/goth chicks that felt humans were stupid and built a reputation online of being a sadistic bitch. I enjoyed being anonymous, cynical and sort of wallowed in my own self pity. Between real life pressures within my family and school, I had developed low self esteem and fell into depression, thus relying on the Internet to vent my anger in the form of graphics and swear-word-filled, caps locked conversations. It was a lot more helpful than writing violent poems and staring into blank walls, hoping to set them on fire with my mind. In the end, the anger-based hobby turned into a pastime and then when the economy fell, I turned it into a profession while laughing at the notion that the business degree I received was the “safe route.” (If anything, it simply aids me in terms of finding a balance between what’s good for sales vs aesthetics for a client.)
After growing up and realizing bills were the major cause to all my parent’s stress, I started to contribute to the household and saw immediate change in dynamics. From there, I mellowed down a bit to embrace the freedoms of adulthood. After moving out, I could buy anything I wanted and do anything I wanted, only to be judged by those with like minds and high tolerance. (Because everyone else can be unfollowed!) That’s the great thing about growing up – You only have to tolerate those you choose to, unlike the environment of a child within a government/academic institution in which you are enrolled in. You’re pretty much free to do whatever you want under the restrictions of the law, until you partake in a binding commitment to another person or have spawns that leech off you. So if you’re a kid thinking your life will suck forever because of school drama, just know that things definitely can get better. Although sometimes adult life is similar to high school bullshit, aging tends to thicken your skin and you eventually realize haters should not govern the way you feel. That’s why old people can fart in public and not give a fuck.
In hindsight you can appreciate what you have based on where you came from, making your achievements so much more delicious. Sometimes all you need is a change in environment to start anew. I know at certain times in life, we may feel a sense of hopelessness as we are living out the mundane portions of our lives. We fail to see opportunities given to us because we feel so trapped. What you have to realize is that opportunities are taken, not given. They have to be seized in order to be realized. If we aren’t born with a silver spoon in mouth, we have to work extra harder to achieve what we want. With time, hard work, patience and a will to succeed we can at least reach mediocrity. That’s all I’d been reaching for my entire life, from my choice of high school, college to my career. What I’ve achieved instead is a sense of stability I’d never imagine for myself, thus being a wicked bonus. From an angry and self-hating individual, I’ve become a self-aware and confident woman with a sense of self-worth. This is all thanks to my insomniac nights with Photoshop and the thousands of young individuals who saw value in my works. I think that’s what we really crave on the inside after we’ve eaten well and have a roof over our heads – a sense of worth. (Yes, I do realize it’s in the Pyramid Of Needs somewhere.) That would explain the phenomenon of millions of people posting images of themselves to receive compliments and words of encouragements in places other than their immediate surroundings. While under most circumstances I would not suggest people find their self worth amongst seemingly faceless, anonymous strangers – I can totally relate. Heck, I married an individual who helped me through rough times and it was over several Anime forums. This fact still gets weird looks once in a while, but it’s becoming more and more common. As technology connects more people from every corner of the world, we can truly find those who share similar niche hobbies and actually access the other “fish in the sea.” We really don’t have to feel that alone anymore. Chances are there is someone almost exactly like you, meaning YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL.
I remember back when I was twelve or thirteen I swore never to wear a dress again, because I hated being told to “act like a girl” and thus correlated everything “feminine” to be the enemy. I prided myself in being constantly mistaken as a guy both physically (when dressed in baggy clothing) and while online. It wasn’t until after college I realized I could dress however I wanted and still do whatever I wanted. The “feminine” presentation of myself in contrast to my hobbies linked socially acceptable to masculinity gave an even more interesting reaction. Hence forth, I began presenting a more “feminine” exterior to garner a reaction and have been reveling in it ever since. Plus it helps advertise my works since tiny Asian females are the new fad. 😀
I don’t think there is much of a point to this post, other than to feel a bit nostalgic and justify my impending age of twenty-eight. I’m basically living my dream life, beyond the mediocrity I’d assume for myself. To those who are begrudgingly heading back to school, cherish your early years. It’s the years in which you can say you developed your sense of fashion style BEFORE the makeover in which your future employers will see you in. They will later be used to compare to your midlife crisis as either being a high point or low point. Or if nothing else, the media will use it as a milestone to which people can fondly identify you by when you’re under police investigation…
So turn that frown, upside down!
/first world problems