Recently I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching. Who am I, who do I want to be, and most importantly — how can I live out my life to its fullest potential?
To my memory, I’ve never been a particularly satisfied person. I’ve always wanted more and more, and when I couldn’t get what I wanted, I became depressed.
Recently I decided to dig out my diaries — entires penned from 10-year-old me onwards. They’re cringe-worthy (to say the least)…but they reveal a lot about who I am, and why I am the way I am.
2001: (10 years old)
“Sometimes I hate my brother because he gets all the attention. My parents thinks he is so cute but to me he looks like the uglyiest asian in the world! And every single time he does something that makes my parents mad they just hug him. And when I do something bad my parents scold me. Life is soo unfair.”
“I can’t wait until I grow up. Then I could be free! Now I am like a trapped bird in a cage.”
2002: (11 years old)
“I have been begging my mom for eyeshadow. She has bought me glitter, but still, I’m ugly. Period. But when I am not looking in the mirror, I feel like a beautiful person, but outer appearances matter. Never in my life, no one has liked me. Why me?”
2005: (14 years old)
“I hate being the normal. The regular, quite azn gurlie. Fugly and not special. no guy has ever told me they liked me, or no one else did. I wish, I can be unique. Not someone out in the crowd, but center stage.”
“Dreams don’t come true. Happily ever afters are rare. I’m a speck in this faceless world. I have little impact on people. I’m just another face. A hated face. I can’t spend time on what i want. It won’t happen.”
2006: (15 years old)
“I’ve been taught to be so friggin reserved my whole damn life that I can barely write down my feelings. If I’m not allowed to even express myself out loud, can’t I just do it on paper?”
“Dear God. Please just give me that A. I’m so close. It’s like a big obstacle in my life right now and it’s really suffocating me.”
2008: (18 years old)
“I’m somewhat disillusioned with my identity. I’m Asian — thus, I feel, somewhat inferior. Because I’m Asian, I don’t feel in any way attractive. Because I’m Asian, I don’t feel I can voice my voice confidently. I have ultimately suppressed my voice.”
“My worst fear? Becoming like Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice — marrying a guy that will provide her basic happiness. I’m terrified of simply loving a guy. I want to be madly in love, and I want him to erase my anxieties.”
“I hate this conservative mind barrier that I have.”
“For once in my life, someone noticed me and did something about it. He’s cute yeah, but it’s awkward. A part of me wants him to like me but I know nothing will come out of this.”
2009 (19 years old)
“I put so much hope into him. It hurts so much I don’t think I’ve ever cried this much for a boy.”
“He’s an idiot that makes you miserable. he didn’t have an urge to talk to you for a week. Reread your diary.”
“All he does is make me miserable. I want to feel wanted, needed.”
2010 (20 years old)
“I can’t leave him. I’m too engrossed in this relationship.”
“Until now, I didn’t know the human heart was capable of so much pain. I can’t stop crying. What did I do to deserve this? While other boyfriends prioritize their girlfriends and care for them — mine is someone who I have to fight for and continue to fight for.”
2012 (21 years old)
“Three to four years from now, when I read this, what will I think. Will I finally be happy?”
The negativity is striking… and I know exactly why I was who I was. A heavy, toxic religious upbringing, strict Chinese conservatism, Asian in America. I was rarely praised, only criticized, my accomplishments were never celebrated, only dismissed. I was never told I was beautiful, only told what I could improve on…the list goes on. I never felt good enough, because no one ever told me I was good enough. And as a 10-year-old child, I needed to hear that. Because I never believed it.
I transferred the negativity to my younger brother. I constantly criticized him. As a result, our relationship became dangerously competitive and spiteful.
The cycle fed itself and I became critical and hurtful towards myself. I never felt satisfied: in my career, with my friends, with my love life. While my perpetual dissatisfaction helped my career reach new heights, it stunted my emotional health.
When I finally did get a boyfriend, I was clearly in a toxic relationship..and knew it a month in. Yet I was terrified of ending it because I thought I didn’t deserve better. That ended up dragging on for 3.5 years…to no one’s benefit.
A lot has changed since. I’ve learned a lot more about myself and no longer pen bottomless rants about what I hate about myself. Regardless, I still go through phases of negativity and self-doubt.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard
Better late than never. Time to really turn this ship around.