Monday, January 8, 2018

Sweet Sixteen

Today, I spoke to a relative who shared with me some concerns she has about her sixteen year old daughter. She worries that her daughter is not popular nor has any interest to be one, that she doesn't have a best friend or isn't making any effort to be part of the norm, "She isn't the typical (girl who goes to this school)," my relative says.

She shares all these with me because I went to the same school her daughter goes to. She knows what I am talking about and I went through the exact same thing her daughter is going through. Her concerns may sound too superficial but this is the reality when you're a teenager or have a teenager.

The funny thing is, how she described her daughter is probably how my mom would describe me at that age. You see, the school I went to was an exclusive, private all-girls Catholic Chinese school. It's one of the best in the country and it's a school known for producing the heirs of the country's largest corporations.

What I meant is: the school is known for producing a certain prototype of women. And that is what she meant by typical...

I hated high school. I knew I didn't belong and so did everybody else. I was bullied and the people I considered my friends never stuck up for me. I was an underachiever because I was demotivated and I felt so alone. I couldn't wait to get away from what felt like a hell hole.

I laughed and told her not to worry. I told her life begins after high school. It also begins after she goes to university. And if she's lucky, she'll go to a university where she will meet people outside of her comfort zone, people who come from backgrounds so much more different from her. And if she's extra lucky, she'll even have the opportunity to leave the country and live independently and experience life outside all that.

In truth, I'm one of the lucky ones to have had this chance and to have had this push. Certain events have led me to where I am today and in a way, I'm very lucky to have experienced all these--the good and the bad. I learned humility, responsibility and how to work hard.

I look at some of the people I grew up with--some from high school and some from uni--people who have never left their comfort zones for six or seven years. They've done the exact same thing, lived the exact same way and have only known the exact same things. There's no growth or change. Thinking about them is what motivates me to push for change and to try something new and different.

I told my relative her daughter will be okay because there's a whole bigger world out there just waiting to be discovered and explored. All she needs to do is wait for a little while for this phase to be over.