When I first started this site, I called it Diary of a Perfectionist Wannabe. It was borne out of the desire to be perfect, to have a sense of perfectionism. This is a trait many Asian Americans understand. We strive to be the best, so we try to perfect ourselves in order to be accepted.
When I read “Searching for Sylvie Lee” by Jean Kwok, I understood why I always had this desire to strive for perfection. It is because I am trying to be accepted by a family and a society that has rejected me because I am not 100% white.
Yes, I said family. My brother and I are a bit of the outliers in our family. My mother is Thai and she married an American in order to escape the slavery she was subjected to in her home country. She wanted to give her future children the opportunity to grow up and live in a world where their family would never sell them in order to put food on their table.
She gave us freedom, but also gave us hell. We were the ones who were not accepted, because we were the minority in our white schools. Our racist Christian family pretended like they loved us, but we knew they didn’t. They tolerated us, because they had no choice. It was the Christian thing to do…pretend to love these kids because they’re blood, but they’re not white.
Love was not something we received from them. We had to search outside of our home for love. I spent most of my life trying to prove to them that I existed. I just wanted to be accepted. The thing is, the world accepted me, but my family never did.
I remember when I invited my wealthy aunt and uncle to an Indy 500 party. Senators and everybody that was anybody in the political world was there. Senator after Senator told my aunt and uncle what a wonderful person I was and how they thought the world of me.
The look on their faces was not one of being proud, it was of shock that these Senators even knew I existed. It was so much easier for them to believe that the life I lived was a complete lie. It did not fit their mold of what they believed I was…someone who would never amount to anything. To them I was not anyone of importance, no matter how many Senators spoke so highly of me and knew my name.
These are things I carry with me even to this day. Like Sylvie Lee, you get to that point where you just want to give up and not care anymore. If they don’t see you now, they will never see you for who you really are. They will never accept me as someone they could love, all because my mother is not white.
It doesn’t matter that I grew up in a white household and the only thing that connects me to the Thai culture is just the food (something I can’t even make). My mother made sure to assimilate us into the American culture, because she was running from her past and wanted nothing to do with it.
I understand that completely. I understand running from the things that have hurt you and caused you pain, looking to start over again. I’m watching it happen to my friend right now. I see her pain and humiliation. I’m watching her preparing to run. I see her not giving a shit about her life right now, because truth be told, no matter how many times she tries not to talk about it, I know what it’s like to be in her shoes. It took me eight years to get over the last guy that made me run.
That’s the thing about pain. When people wound you deeply, you lose all sense of yourself. You walk through life like a ghost, just trying to survive the monotony and move on to the next day. We’ve all been there.
I don’t even like to admit how hurt I was when my boss left. I never thought it would effect me the way that it did. For the last two years, I’ve stopped living my life. I just settled into the flow of existing. Hell, my Instagram feed just screams that I am part of the floodwaters. I’m not me.
That’s what’s been missing these past couple of years…me. There was a time I lived in the VIP world. Yet, these past couple of years, I’ve not done anything. I didn’t go to the opera or the ballet. I barely saw friends. Hell, I barely go out to the movies. All of those celebrity filled events, film festivals, rubbing elbows with directors, actors and fashion designers…I stepped away from.
They’re so busy creating and living, while I’ve fallen into that world that they despise…the mediocrity of life…all because someone hurt me.
So I’m writing all of this, because my universe keeps saying live for today. That mantra is on repeat every single day.
Someone I know recently retired. Then they found out they had stage 4 colon cancer. That’s also known as the death cancer. The lesson here is don’t wait for tomorrow to live life. Do it now, because you are not promised tomorrow.
I tell myself this every single day…since last June. Yet, I did not let it truly sink in that I am not living. I’m just doing the bare minimum to withdraw from life and go on autopilot. But the truth is that it is okay to let yourself grieve and to go numb for a little while. Just don’t stay there so long that you forget who you are and what you are meant to become.
I have been trying very hard to write daily. Sometimes I write one page in one month. That is just how withdrawn I’ve been. I started to see the people that inspire me withdraw from me, because in the grand scheme of the way things are done, you can’t keep sucking the life out of them. They’ve got to shine, and they can’t have you around dulling up their sparkle. They need other gems to sparkle alongside them.
Which leads me to why I am writing this today. I have been out of it for two years now. For some strange reason, I feel like I’ve woken up from a dream where nothing gets done. I looked at my final receipts for the clothes I bought last year and it amounted to $1500. That is so not me. That means, I just did not care. I had emptied out my closets, wanting only easy pieces to wear. These were items that took absolutely no thought whatsoever to pull out to wear.
I realized recently that something was amiss. This just isn’t me. That wake-up call within me finally happened. Now, I’m ready to get back to my life and living it.
This means I want to share my world with the people that come here to read or go to my social media to view. It means not just putting a book up in front of me for you to see, but letting you see more into my life and what I am doing, as well as the things I am trying to accomplish.
The fact that this is my second post this month is a huge step in the right direction.
So with that step, let me tell you what I plan to do from here on out. In my previous post, I shared I wanted to read a book a day. Oh, believe me, that is still a goal. But I am going to take a little step back in the reviewing process, so that I can spend more time writing.
I plan on going back to the film festivals, going to the ballet, operas and Broadway. I plan on hanging out with rock stars, like I used to do. I have every intention of dining out more and trying all of these incredible places that Manhattan has to offer. I plan on building up my wardrobe again. I also plan on buying my first house in the upcoming months, because I need to move in that direction.
Oh yeah, a developer purchased my apartment building. I was told they are giving me a year and a half before they begin the eviction process. I believe that is the amount of time they think they will need to be able to purchase up the remainder of the properties on my block, so they can tear it all down and build something more modern.
I’m kind of tired of people doing that to me and my home, so I am just going to go and buy a place. I spoke to a mortgage lender and we walked through the process. I have more than enough money for a down payment on a house, so it is just a matter of finding the right property.
So right now, my apartment is basically halfway packed up. It’s basically boxes everywhere.
Matthew has had severe allergies over the past few months. First, I came home to the Maine Coon from Pet Semetary and had to run to the vet’s office because his mouth was bleeding again. This time, it wouldn’t stop. We got him on meds fast enough. But come the next month, he needed stronger meds, because he scratched up his face so badly, that it took a couple of months for it to heal. The vet says that like humans, as we get older our allergies get worse. It’s the same for cats. So I’m looking forward to more bleeding and itchiness for the little guy.
Other than that drama, I’ve been thinking lately about the life I want to live. Living is the important part, because that’s the part that’s been missing from my life these past two years. I was stuck in a moment I could not get out of…and once I realized I was stuck in a moment, I decided it was time to get out of it and start living again.
Now, I know there are people that go out there, travel the ends of the earth, completely stuck in a moment inside of themselves, trying to escape it. But the truth is we cannot escape ourselves. We will carry that pain, sorrow, humiliation, and grief with us no matter where we go. A new destination does not mean we will be free of our tormentors. Because we still carry what they did to us no matter where we go to try and heal. Moving forward begins inside of us.
Change begins when we decide we need to change ourselves. What happened to us does not define us. Who we choose to become as a result of everything that has ever happened to us, that’s up to us. We hold that power to become better than we were yesterday.
Me? I’m just tired of waiting for my future to happen, when I know I am the one in charge of creating my own destiny. The universe just falls in line based on the energy I put out there. Change begins within me.
I may strive to be perfect and to create a more perfect system in my life, but I know I am always going to want to be a perfectionist, and never a true perfectionist.
For the family who never saw that perfect child who is a far greater success than anyone else in the family, I may not exist to you, but I exist to others. They see me and they love me for who I am and all my imperfections. They’ve taught me that you were wrong. This is not normal. I deserve better, because I am a way better person than you are. Just too bad you didn’t want to know me at all. Then again, I’m better off not wanting to know you anymore.