Originally posted on Thought Catalog: I don’t want forever. It isn’t real, it isn’t tangible and it isn’t certain. I don’t want eternity. I don’t want to feel that frozen, empty touch that clings to the light-less places where the…
Working at this low-paying clothing store has taught me a few things,though I’ve only worked a few shifts. I take for granted the fact that people actually spend their time folding clothes, unpacking boxes of trousers, tagging them, putting sensors on them, clipping hangers on them (using the ‘right’ type of hanger that must face the front with the logo), and finally, laboriously propping them up for customers to browse and discard. I used to think it was funny to be cheeky and stash a shirt in some corner if I wasn’t bothered to put it back in the right place. But if everyone was like me, the minutes spent rearranging the store back to its pristine, orderly state would build up to mean extra hours of work for the people who spend at least four hours of their day laced with boredom and back aches. It’s not very bro of anyone to do, na’meaan?
The very best part of the job is interacting with people. Being a server. Whether it be a simple smile shared with a customer, a question concering the whereabouts of the changing rooms, holding clothes they no longer want/cannot fit, or checking for a shirt in their size, I love the moments when I get to play the role of shopkeeper and feel helpful. When I was younger, I used to buy cheques from stationery stores and sign them off as if I had just sold a house. My customer service would always be top-notch, and to be honest, I still believe that I’d make the best barrista at Starbucks. Please have me. I promise to treat each person like a real person and always smile (even if I burn my wrist from a splash of boiling water or have an off-day) and give an extra squeeze of whipped cream or caramel to the regulars. Or anyone if they asked. I’d make it a point to remember the usual orders, the faces and the names to go with them. Everyone would love me, because I know what I’d like my Starbucks experience to be like. I want to make people’s days. I want to be a happy face and be that wonderful human being that sprinkles oreo bits generously (if I were to work at a fro-yo place). And don’t get me started on being a bartender or a waitress at a diner (a skating diner would just be the cherry on top of a stack of golden pancakes- thanks to A Cinderella Story). I know it’d probably be different from what I expect but I don’t care. It’s perfect in my head.
Last thing. The fact that I barely get to talk to people on the job (besides awkward chatter with the managers for fear of being too friendly) makes me want to quit. I am a quitter. I will quit even though the job will probably be the easiest job I’ll ever have. Hopefully I won’t end up making a living in a store where the employees are less than insignificant. I know I’m being dramatic but this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is what I have learnt.
P.S in movies, co-workers, colleagues, managers and employees swear when they speak to each other. Not at one another but you know, just let their words and conversations seem natural. Like, answering “how are you feeling today?” with a chuckle paired with an honest “like shit”. At what point does it become inappropriate? How cordial and awkward do you have to be to maintain a professional relationship?
How great is your love if it’s not unconditional? There is no such thing. At least, no such thing as romantic love that’s unconditional. There are always limits, always requirements. That’s why people fall out of love- because you love the way someone is and allow for only so much change. You’ll only love them if they stay as close as they can to the way they were when you first fell in love with them. Well, fundamentally at least. If you can still see the person that they were, you can still love them. But if they choose change how can you love them the same way?
You love the way he speaks, with a lilt in his voice. He’s got favourite authors that he likes to recite and embed into your conversations. He’s got a temper but you’ve fallen in love with the petty arguments because you have memorized the way his forehead crinkles and you’ve fallen in love with the security of his hands clasped around yours, accompanied by a mumbled apology. You admire his drive and you’ve fallen for his big heart, the way he can’t help but analyze problems that aren’t his and solve the Rubik’s cube in minutes. He’s captured you and you’ve found a way to tolerate the less lovable parts of him. And then things change and he’s not that same person anymore. It’s not a simple matter of oh, he’s busy and can no longer share with me his thoughts. It’s like he’s adopted some alien thoughts, changed the way he sees the world. Maybe he’s unbearably cynical now, or has made a habit out of complaining. Or maybe he’s lost an energy about him and he no longer likes to go out because home is more important. There’s no problem with that, it’s just not what you want. Little things change and accumulate and he shifts into something else. You care for him deeply but you no longer love him with the same passion you did. He’s no longer what you want.
Or maybe he stays more or less the same and you are the one who changes. You believe in some new-found concepts, experience some big event that forces you to mature. You’re bound to circumstance. Your love is conditioned to specifics.
They creep up on you. You don’t know you care until you do. You’re indifferent, composed, convinced that life will go on as usual. It eventually does, in any case. You’ve held up and things are different this time because you’re not feeling too much. You’re learning not to.
Your memories scatter like ash in the wind and you think great, it’s the end and I’m okay. But you’ll find a little bit of dust everywhere, in forgotten corners when you’re looking for something else. You’ll be caught in mid-thought, mid-step, when you sneeze. You’ll be in the rut of your routine, absent-minded, with the sleeve of your cardigan hanging loosely off your shoulder and a pen behind your ear when they wash over you. They’re not gone- they’ll wait patiently behind your eyelids. Even when you’ve got exams to study for, groceries to by, meals to cook and shows to watch, they’ll find a way to get to you. It’ll be like opening a suitcase that’s been kept under your bed, or reading a diary from when you were eight. There will be that same air of curiosity and excitement as you explore again what hasn’t been fully forgotten. For a moment you care. Or at least, for a moment you’re conscious that you do. Because really, your body remembers and your soul remembers how you once felt so you can always feel it again, if only for a moment. Is the soul the place where feelings are kept and tagged to be revisited? Is it an ancient that absorbs experience, every so often whispering and tousling secrets towards the surface? It grows and it learns. And you must learn that even though there is a price to feeling too much, there is a price to not feeling. The sly ones will show you what can’t be subdued.
The more I over-think it, the more I wish that I had never met you. I wish I glanced away and that you didn’t say hello. I wish I didn’t wish you’d message me. I wish you didn’t ask to see me. And I wish we never saw the monkeys and blew bubbles at the park, or that we sat and talked and did nothing but rip coffee sleeves into bits and sprinkle them all over each other’s clothes. I wish you talked about big ideas, big plans and things that make you think. You can tell a good story, I give you that, and it’s true, you can do a convincing accent, but I wish there was more to you than that- I wanted you to make me think. I wish I felt warm when you held my hand and shielded me from the cold with your arm slung around me. At first I felt nothing. I was there and not there at the same time and I knew it wasn’t right. And then you (or was it the idea of you? I still don’t know) became comforting and I became selfish. I should’ve ended it then. Should’ve but didn’t.
Since I still want more and it’s an impossible situation, I just wish you weren’t so persistent. I wish you didn’t think I was worth trying for. Because I’m too nice to nice people (I can’t help it) and I’m not good at saying “no”, and I hate disappointments but hate being one more. In a warped way, I would have more control if you didn’t spare me a moment. I’m used to running after things that won’t stay. If you didn’t want me, I’d be free, because there’s only one way I know how to act when you’ve given me trust (no matter how undeserved).
You make me smile but I’m not happy enough. I make you smile and that’s enough for now.
At least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself.
i’ve explored your cryptic mannerisms
and i’m left with broken symbols
that don’t mean a thing.
i’ve tossed and entertained
a few ideas a night
but by morning they’re
obsolete and you’re still a
i can’t bend your lines
anymore than i can
square a circle,
i can’t think in cogs
anymore than i can
adjust your shadow.
i’ll never ask you how you’re
meant to be read
because i’m scared it’s not
the same in my head.
When you are with people you have to be present with them mentally. You have to make sure that they are entertained and enjoying your company. It’s an unspoken thing and probably a subconscious thing. You know you owe them your attention, you have to be engaged, for what would the difference be if you were to be alone? Or talking to a wall?
How will I be able to live with someone? How will I survive without completely and utterly pushing that person away? I need my space and time to escape. Hours, days even. Just so I can relax and not feel obliged to joke or listen or answer a question. People can be so exhausting sometimes. I love them, need them, but can’t stand being around them all the time. Is that so wrong?
What is it that makes us who we are? I was inspired by a blog post by suzjones and began to think… is the primal part of myself more me than the part of me that wants to suppress it? Am I my desires and impulses or is the ‘real me’ who I am when I try to regulate them? Or is the real me who I try to be; who I want to be? I’ve read about the ‘authentic self’ being the self whose behaviour stems from within- from what you were created to be, and I think that includes whatever improvement you think you need to be happy with yourself.
I’ve departed from my younger, loud, bossy, and sometimes over-confident self. I behaved naturally, the way most children do, against social etiquette, choosing to be blunt and honest over being polite. I tended to sing too loudly (in an attempt to drown out my cousin’s voices), and I’d take the first chance to grab a mic if there was one (this happened at someone else’s birthday party too). How annoying. I don’t think I was born to perpetuate my child-like behaviour, acting as if I was the only person that mattered on the planet. The truth is, I live in a world full of people that I need to consider, so I have to find a way to accommodate others. This means changing the egocentric-ism that comes so naturally to me, and being able to move forward from this means maturity. It does not detract from my being ‘real’- it just means I’m learning and striving towards who I want to be. It is only when change occurs in a direction I don’t want to travel in that we have a problem.
Yes, we take on a series of roles daily and we adapt to different situations and personality types. We need to keep some of our dimensions to ourselves- that is, the part of ourselves that wants to talk back to a professor or a boss, for example. There is a professional self, and then the self that you share with your close friends. And then there’s you when you’re alone. Every situation calls for behavioural adjustment, and I don’t think that these dimensions make a person any less ‘authentic’, for every side of you and every role you assume fits together to create this whole person.
From a religious perspective, finding my authentic self is about denouncing my ‘old’ self. As a Christian, I aim to be more and more Christ-like. I am to put to death the sinner within me and be renewed, choosing to live the way I was called to live, no matter how difficult that is in a world where God is replaced and displaced by everything else. There is an element of consistency in being me as I want to act according to the values and principles that are important to me. So as long as I am looking to be the best me that I can be (and that is an on-going process of change), I am the real me.
If I can write it all down without feeling anything I’ll know that:
1) I’m completely over you
2) or you were never really that special
3) I’m not good at writing
I’ve found that I can talk myself out of feelings after they have been diminished by time, like a shirt that’s shrunk from being washed too many times. See, I only saw you a few times, it doesn’t make sense to be attached. How could I think more of something so short-lived? Besides, who is to say that I knew you for who you really were? What if I only saw the good in you and gave you every opportunity to impress me? What if I wanted to believe that you were different and so I disregarded every other sensible reservation I had? That was probably the case. We had a good time, I’m glad we met, but that’s what happens in life. You meet people and they enter into your bubble for a brief time before you part ways and look back only to smile at your memories when they are triggered by a particular word, topic of conversation or a place.
Chicken nuggets and pistachios are terrible for coughs and sick people. Do not eat them. I repeat. Do NOT. Unless you want to stay sick then by all means… Speaking of illnesses, Asian grandmothers have concoctions and remedies for everything. Have a nose bleed? Boil some tofu in rock sugar with black beans. Have a headache? Make soup with weird looking weeds in it. Old people wisdom is gained through experience and family culture, like standing on a stool besides their own grandmothers when they were young, sewing and patching up their own clothes and copying their own mothers as they pressed dough together beautifully to make dumplings. This reminds me of the Aboriginals that I met in Australia with all these skills passed on through generations. Like how to weave baskets out of reeds and how to spot which type of ant you can eat (the ones that taste sour like lemon drops).
I caught myself in the self-serving bias (I love it when the things I learn in psych classes apply to me personally). It was a while back that I realized but I never got a chance to write about it. So, at the beginning of the year when I was assigned a new English teacher, I was deeply disappointed. I didn’t understand his teaching style (which allowed for more independent thought) and I missed being spoon-fed. He was off-putting at first, had a strange sense of humor and an awkward smile. When I received the worst grade I’d ever gotten for English, I blamed him. Oh he’s a harsh marker, it’s not my fault. I had done well in the other class with my other teacher; I am not dumb. I didn’t want to see that I hadn’t worked hard enough and I had to protect my ego somehow. So I shifted the responsibility onto him so that I didn’t have to feel wounded and less intelligent (not that school grades are a good measure of that). As the year progressed, I began to admire him. He’s amazing at what he does. He’s a passionate teacher, an interesting person and I respect him. I’d say he’s a non-conformist (even though he’d never call himself that) and he looks like Loki from The Avengers (which makes him automatically cooler). He’s humble and opinionated and makes cynical half-jokes all the time. I could shower him with praise for days. It’s not fair to blame others for our own shortcomings. At some point we must let ourselves be hurt, put our pride aside and learn.
The other night, I heard fireworks or things crackling outside. Were dragon dancers surrounding our building? Apparently, dragon dancers enter into people’s houses to clean them of evil spirits during Chinese New Year. Tradition is a funny thing. I was just leaving my friend’s house when I saw a host of people by the doorway. When I walk down the streets I see families exiting houses and walking in groups. As a part-outsider who doesn’t experience all the customs of Chinese New Year, I can see how peculiar and awesome it is to have so many people celebrate the same event in the same way. It’s this shared understanding that Chinese people have (or anyone who takes part in their own cultural tradition) and there is this overarching sense of unity. Everyone’s in on the know. Everybody is in high spirits, exchanging red packets and happily giving away money, blessing others and yearning for the company of close friends and family.
Just some thoughts.
Dolce Far Niente – the sweetness of doing nothing.