I’m giggling a little bit looking at these photos. My face half covered with hair in most. Something I was prone to doing quite a lot as a kid and teenager. My mom used to call me the “one-eyed-jack” because I always had my hair in my face, partially obstructing my vision. No I wasn’t really an “emo” kid. Maybe just sometimes. Mostly, it had to do with my own insecurity issues. I felt safer when I could hide behind my hair. Hidden from the world in a way, whenever I felt like I wanted to. It was a security blanket for me at the time. A little introvert’s nest. It had a lot to do with my shyness when I was young, and my insecurity with the way I looked. I always stood out for being too tall, too skinny and too ethnically ambiguous. Most days my nose felt too big, my face too chubby, my teeth too obnoxiously standout in braces, my breasts too flat, my knees too gangly. I have distinct memories of one terrorizing male classmate in elementary school who wouldn’t go a day without reminding me of the way I looked. I would be the butt of his jokes. To him, ethnic background was a problem. I was funny because I looked Asian. Even though I knew he was wrong for saying the things he said to me, in front of classmates even, I couldn’t help but feel hurt and embarrassed and wishing I was someone else.
At a young age, I experienced racism and bullying. A lot of my feelings back then were kept hidden inside of me because of my shyness. But today, it’s a different story. Today those experiences still stick with me, but instead of blocking them out, I am grateful that because of them I learned to never act or feel the way that my one classmate did to me all those years ago. Instead, my hurt of the past turned into an understanding greater and far more beyond just myself. It’s an understanding that has allowed me to make progress one day at a time towards being a better human being . . . without mind to my race, my gender and whatever it is that makes me . . . me. Whether others like it or not? That should never be question. Sadly today, that question still has a mixed grey cloud hanging over it. The world has a lot of work to do when it comes to accepting what is different on the inside and outside, and I am so chilled by what I see on the news everyday about the narrow minded, twisted hate many are trying to spread. It blows my mind.
As for me in this moment, there is still so much of that little girl in the classroom who would get made fun of by the boys because I was tall and actually good at playing basketball. The issue was that I was not just good, but that I was better than they were. And so the only other alternative they had to playing and losing against me, was to be make fun of what I could do, as opposed to what I could not do. There is so much of this happening today in our world on a much greater level, but it all comes back to the basketball court. Really, if you think about it, it’s all about how you change the game. Spreading that game changer is the biggest positive influence there is. And that is why I share with you guys my story. I share my story knowing that insecurities still lie within me, and especially so with being so public with my life online. Even my darker than usual hair right now is taking some getting used to, and can put me in a self-conscious mood on a whim while at other times I love it. I still hide behind my hair at times and my inner introvert is always there waiting to dive into a writing session for hours. But then there are days I feel like I can wear a bright red denim jacket and accomplish anything. But these are the things that make me me. The greatest accomplishment I’ve ever made was to let go of what others said I could or could not do, could or could not say, could or could not be, or could or could not love.
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