I remember getting a B on that English paper back in 12th grade, a satire, something about dead skin cells, and it was my suggestion. “Ew!” my friend said. It was her immediate reaction. I didn’t know how to tell her that I see past all the “ewness” and I love it. I deal with stuff that’s not so pretty all the time. It’s a gift. Dealing with stuff that’s not so pretty is a beautiful thing and sometimes it feels like I’m one of the few people who understands this. Plus satires are meant to have gross things in them to use for exaggeration purposes and dead skin cells seemed like the perfect touch. I even kind of remember my English teacher commenting on the paper that she liked it. But who knows. My brain could be making up that memory just because it seems like that memory would make sense. I bet some Psych major out there knows exactly what this is called. But I’m no Psych major. I’m just the girl who can not flinch when people talk about dead skin cells.
If I take the highway to work, I’m always afraid I’ll run into traffic in the form of a car wreck, weather conditions, or road construction. If I take local roads to work, it takes longer to get to work and there’s always a possibility I might run some animal over. Either way there’s an underlying anxiety I will be late for work or hurt a living being and be late at the same time. Thus, most every weekday morning my stomach is in knots. I do this every morning for so long my stomach is used to it. Soy nerviosa doesn’t just describe my Amber Yang character, but describes me as well and is just one of the many characteristics I share with the girl from my first real novel.
The verdict is local roads. I’ve been avoiding the highway because I prefer going at a slower speed. That’s just me. (And if you catch my drift, you’ll know I’m not just talking about driving. But please don’t overanalyze that last statement into something dirty because that’s not what I was referring to either. I’m not that kinda girl.) Plus I’ve already been involved in my first car wreck on the highway last year so I’m not looking for another one. Lately local roads have had a lot of road construction going on and as a result some mornings I’ve had to take a detour unexpectedly. I’m also not that into surprises, but I can roll with them and get used to them pretty much like anything else out of the blue. This got me thinking about the roads life takes us. We may have that ultimate goal we want to reach. There may be one straight shot path to get there, but along that path there are going to be road blocks. These road blocks can be anything from distractions to physical injuries to monsters we invent in our minds that keep telling us we can’t do something to literally having to move away. Yet through all the obstacles, real or imagined, we can still find our way back down that straight shot path. It’s just up to us to find the detour that will get us back on track.
Our biggest fear is not to be needed anymore. It goes with not achieving what we really want to do in our lives. Just ask your parents or grandparents. If there was a dream they really wanted to realize, but didn’t get to after having kids or some other type of interruption, they probably are hoping their kids will realize it for them to kind of continue the journey, to keep the dream alive.
Then there are the parents who end up making their kids their life and when their kids no longer need financial support, the visits disappear completely. But enough about parents. I didn’t mean to make this about parents. Some people don’t have parents.
I wanted to focus on the idea of basing our self-worth on being needed. It could be a job we really value or a relationship with a family member where the family member depends on us to be there for them, anything like that. We get used to the job or family member being there, but then one day the job changes and maybe we find ourselves looking for new positions or the family member grows up or heals and doesn’t need us around anymore. What happens then?
Do we lose who we are or find something else to base our self-worth on? And if we do have to shift our focus, what should that be? Maybe the question isn’t what we should focus on. Maybe it’s simply let’s stop measuring and start living.
Show interest is what they said. But I would tell them there are certain moments in life you really wish you were inside a soundproof room so you could scream all your problems away. Or at least rid yourself of that nasty feeling in the pit of your stomach that seems to nag at you in the least convenient way possible at the most awkward moments in time. How do you do it?
There’s no way someone could see through to your thoughts. You have to express them in words, but what if there are no words to describe what you are going through? What if you must use dance or pictures, but you have none at hand and no footloose skills? Time. Someone would need to observe you when you don’t know they are watching. At the very least they would be able to deduce whether you have integrity or not. When you’re driving on the highway are you one of those who slows down as soon as a cop is driving by? Or do you follow the speed limit no matter what?
Don’t be too of anything. Too smart. Too skinny. Too boring. Too broken. We’re all broken though. Show me someone who’s not broken and I’ll show you someone who’s lying. Show interest is what they said. But I would tell them grab a parachute and just jump already.
Even the best doctor in the world doesn’t know you as well as you know you. A doctor has to ask you questions to get to the root of the problem if you have a health concern. And yeah, maybe you have no idea what’s wrong, but your doctor wasn’t there the night your father walked out on your mother, leaving a hole in your heart you will never be able to fill and a giant question mark in the pit of your stomach. Your doctor wasn’t there the night you got up to get some milk because you couldn’t sleep and then heard your mother weeping into her pillow. Don’t forget your doctor wasn’t there the time you slid down the slide backwards and landed on your neck. Or the time you stayed out all night driving around town just because you wanted to see what it was like at night. Your doctor wasn’t there when you got your first kiss at your sweet sixteen underneath the bleachers. Your doctor wasn’t there when you fell off the stage after tripping over your long dress. No, your doctor wasn’t there when you witnessed a boy getting beaten up by another boy for not liking girls the same way he does.
There are some things a doctor cannot explain or help you understand. There are some pains a doctor cannot treat. There are some moments in your life you will not be able to describe to your doctor unless they were there with you when it happened. The doctor just prescribes what you need based on what you tell him or her. It is up to you to take care of yourself. And sometimes that is the most confusing place to be.
The robins were everywhere. It was starting to look like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. They were searching for the unlucky worms kicked out of their apartments due to flooding.
Sometimes we have robins after us and we are the worms—no safe place to crawl when pushed to the brink of insanity. So we take the first step we have to because this step is the only way out of our current crazy situation. We are forced to take a chance on our lives. No one really knows what will happen, but those who are resilient will survive and even thrive.
Sometimes we are the robins and we are after the worms—taking advantage of new opportunities that pop up, even at the expense of someone else’s life path. So we find people when they are vulnerable and pounce when it’s the appropriate time to snatch away the future that was supposed to be theirs. Maybe at first this new future belongs to us and feels good, but not long after the guilt sinks in and you live in fear someone somewhere will do the same to you one day.
The million dollar question is, are you the robin or the worm?
Halfway through college I was Job. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to wear my glasses in front of anyone. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I didn’t want to wear colors, only black and white and gray. It’s funny how I dressed according to what I learned from watching “A Cinderella Story” and listening to the commentary because twirling around in my downward spiral is what I thought defined me in the moment so I thought I needed to “dress the part.” What I’m talking about is, in the commentary of that movie, she says Sam dressed in colors when she gained her confidence back, but in gray and blue when she became really insecure after being made fun of for who she was. So I started doing this when I felt really down on life.
Then you said you thought of me when we were discussing Job in class and I was like, “you knew me in college?!” But I quickly realized you were referring to something else about me that is related to the story of Job. I can’t remember it now and not being able to remember what exactly that was frustrates me. It’s not something I usually do—share something really personal about myself with someone I just met.
Whenever you share something really personal about yourself to someone, that person takes a part of you with them. At least it feels that way. If you never see them again, it’s like that piece of you goes with them and you’ll never be able to take it back, like a sent text message. If you do see them again, you know they hold onto a secret side of you that could be unleashed unintentionally to other people you may not want to know about it. And that’s dangerous to know.