Monday, May 30, 2011


No, I'm not talking about Boston University, although they do use that acronym/slogan- isn't it awesome?

I'm talking about self-appreciation.

Recently, a friend on facebook posted two links: one to Asians having operations to look more Western and another on how dark-skinned blacks are treated by light-skinned blacks. Meanwhile Japanese people line up for skin whiteners. Yeah, I know, they're already whiter than white people.

Personally, I think they're all a little ridiculous. But they're trends, which means I'm clearly in the minority. And that's sad, because what's wrong with being yourself?

I'll be honest. I don't have a lot of issues with my physical self. I've said before that I'm obese (I wear it well, but that doesn't change the facts). I could stand to be taller and sometimes my hair is a nuisance. But generally I have a healthy self image.

I struggle with being me in other ways, though. There are certain things our society likes for people to acheive: wealth, status, stability. And I'm not really big on any of them. For a long, long time I tried to make myself fit this mold. I 9 to 5'ed like I was suppose to. I attempted to stay in one country like normal people. I got up at a reasonable hour of morning and went to bed at a (semi-) reasonable hour of night.

(Chinese Proverb: Imitating blindly, you lose sight of yourself.)

It wasn't a good fit, but not doing it felt like failure.

Eventually, I gave up. It's not me and being bipolar, it made me feel like stepping under a bus. All the time.

These days, I do a job I love. For now. I haven't set anything in stone the way that society seems to like. I'm not a 'career teacher'. I teach. For now. I live in Japan. For now. When I finish here, I'll go back to Barbados. And I'll probably leave again when I've had my fill. I don't know if I'll ever own a house. Right now, I'm not even particularly inclined to own a car. And I love waking up when I feel like and that can range from 4 am to 2 pm. (Obviously the 2 pm only happens on holidays and weekends.)

I'm not "successful" in the typical sense of the word, but I'm happy. And I matter more to me than a million people I don't know.

That's one of the reasons you'll see me come out so visciously against universal rules. It's why I'll always advocating being the writer you are, and not the writer someone says you should be. Why I'll always say that you should find your own process. If you need to swim 50 laps before you can write a chapter, that's fine. If you need an outline more complex than the security plan for the Royal Wedding, that's okay. If you have only a spark of a whiff of an idea and fly through 80,000 words in 15 days, that's cool. They only thing that matters is that it works for you.

Should you never tailor you to the rest of the world? Of course you should. If it was up to us, we'd all be "selling" unwieldy first drafts, because the first draft is the pure un-adulterated you. And in our personal lives, we'd all be more abrasive, hurting people that mattered, doing things only in our best interest.

(Oscar Wilde)

And I'm also not saying you shouldn't change who you are- physically or otherwise. Heck, I plan to have pink hair the minute I'm out of a government job. But if you have to change and tailor for the right reasons and within reason.

Looking at white women blow drying and fluffing their hair into high-volume styles and then watching black women chemically alter theirs so it loses volume and lies flat, tells me something. What you're starting with, whatever that is, is working for someone. And if it's who you are, it should be working for you too.

B. U.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Using Michael Jackson's pictures to so called "Be yourself" is major bullshit & you know it. If you really knew about Michael's personal history you would know that the 1st nose job occurred because he broke his nose on stage. (He fell while doing a complicated dance step.) The 2nd happened to correct a breathing problem that was a result from the 1st.

I do admit however the extra nose jobs & the cleft in his chin weren't necessary. But he himself said, "Everybody in Hollywood gets plastic surgery. Plastic surgery wasn't invented for Michael Jackson. You know, let's put it this way, if all the people in Hollywood who have had plastic surgery, if they [all] went on vacation, there wouldn't be a person left in town." He always wondered why HE would get so much flack for it when others did WORSE.

But what really pisses me off is his skin. I guess his autopsy CONFIRMING that he did indeed have vitiligo didn't mean much. That kind of negative thinking is what makes vitiligo patients shy away from the public. Michael HAD to use bleaching creams to even out his skin-tone because he was a public person living with an even more public disease along with Lupus (an autoimmune disease that can also affect the skin.)

It must have been very hard to "be himself" as you say & continue living his very public life all the while wanting to slip into anonymity as he watched PIECES OF HIMSELF slip from underneath his moonwalking feet.

It must have been terrible to bare this burden... to feel that shame... & then on top of it get judgmental thoughts & feelings from people WHO DON'T KNOW YOU OR YOUR SITUATION, the very same people that you are trying so hard to entertain... They just THINK that they do because you are in the "public eye".

How dare you talk about "Be yourself..." about this individual like he was trying to erase away his "blackness" with a school board eraser!

He knew himself VERY well, thank you.