Jan 11, 2013

To a girl who's bold

To Anthea Wang, and all the other teenage girls in the world

I just read a Yahoo! article about you, and decided to look you up on Google more. I'm not a creepy stalker; I am sensitive to the beauties of everyday life, and I see the most beauty in a person's story.

I'm only a little older than you, and I just wanted to let you know that I think you're a very strong person. Sometimes we give in to things, and we think that when people praise us, they don't really know us - they haven't really seen us. Sometimes we see the worst in ourselves, and believe things that are not true. I hope that when you read what I have to say, you won't think I'm one of those people. I hope this post encourages you a little, and I hope you realise that I'm not one to write something if I don't fully believe in it.

I think you're incredibly strong, even if you think you might not be sometimes. You're strong to choose to stay true to yourself, even if it isn't what seems to be what others want for you. You have your values and you choose to stick to them, even if you feel pushed. And even for something like choosing to defer your O's - it's a bold decision you had to make, and there must have been a lot of pressure to go either way, and I'm proud of you for being able to withstand that. To have thought about it and made a decision, despite all the arrows from both sides, whether from others or from yourself. Sometimes we think through things elaborately in our head, and it's frustrating when people think you made the decision rashly simply because you're a little girl. I know how it feels. I know how it feels when people belittle and dismiss. You held your own, and I'm proud of you.

People say things about us sometimes that make us question ourselves - whether it has to do with our looks, our values, or our pride. I want to say that I think you're really pretty. Not in the 'you're beautiful the way God has made you' way, but I genuinely do think you were born with a beautiful face. And what's even more important than one's physical appearance is the aura that a person radiates. When you're genuine and happy and comfortable with yourself, it's very evident. When you're confident enough of yourself to reject what others say about what you need to do to look better or be more popular or gain attention, it shows in your aura.

I'm going to make a pretty bold comment - I think the Kpop industry has reached its peak, and it won't be too long before it slowly, but surely, fades away. Yes, it's sleek, full of hot guys and cute girls. But they're pretty much all the same. Music is about expressing who you are, showing what life has made of you and connecting with others in a way that transcends language. Music is the song of the soul. It's individual and raw. Unfortunately, the Kpop industry, in my opinion, is a lot like a factory line. They make you who they think people want you to be, and you are hardly your own.

I'm glad you recognised that, and rejected it.

This sounds cliche, but I really want you to understand it, because you helped me understand it: Everyone is beautiful precisely because of who they are. Everyone has had different experiences and struggles. Everyone has a different personality. When someone tries to make you like someone else, or to make you fit into a certain mould, you lose a little of your uniqueness that people find intruguing. It's like pruning a tree. When you try to shape it to look like another tree, the bit that was uniquely his falls off, and he becomes another one of 'em. It's precisely the uniqueness that makes a person intruguing. No one else has had exactly the same experiences or personality as you, ever, and the things about you that are different from everyone else is what people find fascinating. A perfect, altered, beautiful face is a pretty object, but forgettable - one of the rest. An unconventionally beautiful face with a sparkle of uniqueness is intriguing. Don't you agree?

You're young, and there's so much ahead of you. I'm sure you discovered a lot more about yourself through this experience, and I'm glad you went for it too. It was, after all, an experience that very few had the privilege of getting, and self-discovery is priceless. I'm sure you've discovered how strong you are capable of being, too, and how the journey of strength will be lifelong.

I personally took a gap year, which means that I decided to go into university only this year even though I should have started last year (I graduated from JC in 2011). A lot of Singaporean adults think it's a stupid and useless thing to do, because I'm wasting a year - one year's worth of a university graduate's working salary does amount to quite a fair bit, and I'm giving up all that money just because I'm choosing to go to a brand new university that only starts in 2013 - also a risky move. But I've been making good use of this time - I've taught at two schools, waitressed and spent a month travelling in the UK alone; I'm interning at my university's office and giving lots of private tuition; I'll be going to bible school before university. Have I made use of the time productively in terms of money-earning? No. But have I gained a lot in immaterial terms? Definitely.

The experience I gained was priceless. I guess I saw a bit of a similarity between us in the sense that we both took a break from school to do something unconventional; adults may think it's impractical, but we've gained so much from the experience. Never, ever doubt that.

I want to say that I think you're a beautiful (I truly mean it) and strong person, and I can tell you've matured a lot in your thoughts. I'm happy for everything you went through, the amazing and the terrible. It's an experience people would die for, but through it all, you stayed true to yourself and learnt a lot. Thanks for your story.

If you happen to want to talk to me a little more, you can email me at karenhowenee@gmail.com :)

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