The “right” person won’t come along, folks

Yesterday I was talking to a good friend about my lack of potential for meeting potential romantic partners in this world. (Ha, see what I did there? I love writers’ puns…)

Anyway, before I began explaining my side of the story he informed me to never change who I am, in spite of who I think I should be to garner more attention.

While I agree wholeheartedly that I should not change myself for a man, I disagreed with him on his next point:  He said the “right man” will come along.

My friend meant well, he really did. He could have said, “You’ll never really find anyone to date.” He could have said, “You’re not dating now because ____ is wrong with you.” But I tell myself those things all the time. Why? Well, it may not sound logical to the rest of you, but I firmly believe, deep in the recesses and cavities and holes that life has punctured inside of me, that I do not deserve a boyfriend because of standards and expectations held of women in the United States.

Let me explain: I have noticed this prevailing desire in men to seek women with good hair and skin, who dress well but also suggest attraction (a.k.a. wear makeup and flattering clothing pertaining to whatever body type), who seem “normal” and who are intelligent but also kind, with an edge and a bubbliness and electricity that sometimes lends itself to fast talking and excitement. In the neighborhood I grew up, straight hair and lighter skin is seen as attractive, while the most socially desirable women walk around in tank tops and shorts regardless of their body type (curvy was the most common). The girls, I’ve noticed, talk quickly and have higher pitched voices, playfully giggle and sometimes sport tattoos and piercings. They have an accent I’ve only ever found in first or second-generation Southern California families that instantly makes them relatable, likeable, and friendly to other people, as if through their voices they are opening their hands to others as a white flag.

Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, ethnicities, religions, in every country of this diverse planet. Yet all my life I have been made to feel ugly because my skin is darker than others’. My unruly hair curls of its own accord and when I straighten it, it puffs out like I’ve been electrocuted. I have a double chin and a camel toe. I hate wearing shorts and instead wear dresses that make my stomach protrude and my thighs shake with every step. I don’t have any tattoos. I am insecure and shy at the worst times, spurned on by years of being discouraged from dating and made to feel uncomfortable by parents who always wanted to see their daughter focus instead on college. My voice is low and monotone, and the volume is sometimes so soft that people talk over me as though what I have to say doesn’t matter. I don’t have the accent most people have; instead, I’ve been told that when I talk, I sound so technical like a robot, or like a stereotypical brainiac who always has the answers, like Dorothy Ann from The Magic School Bus. And according to my research, I have never been asked out on a date except for one awkward time in high school, and even then the individual denies years later that he had ever asked me out to begin with, so for all I know it could have only been a dream. Even my prom was with someone whose family forced him into going with me–a pity date above all else.

So should I change who I am? Certainly not. I have friends who love me for a reason, and people I can rely on who are there for me because of who I am, not what I can give them. That counts for something in this world where not everyone is blessed with good people in their lives. But does this also mean that the “right person” has not come yet? I don’t know what is meant by the “right person.” There are people I’d never consider dating who treat others like crap, or who have deeply ingrained issues that would negatively affect the world. These certainly are not the “right people,” but then again they are not the right people for anybody at this point in their lives.

I am not going to lie: I am okay with being single because I have to be, because I have no other choice. I have tried dating websites and speed dating in public settings. I am a natural extrovert so I have no issues with meeting new people. I have joined a myriad of clubs where I am exposed to new people all the time–people I talk to. The fact that no one’s wanted to date me is insulting, and what’s more insulting is that when I do the asking, they were never interested in me to begin with. What other conclusions, then, can I logically draw? I am an ugly, undesirable, boring person, and no one yet has proved me wrong. And believe me, I want to be proven wrong. But I can only put so much energy, and I have to move on and focus on career goals, my family, writing, art, film, God, the other things in my life worth living for.

Of all the people I have ever crushed on, I think in their own ways they could have all been the “right people.” They tend to be intelligent, charismatic beings who treat others with respect and find common ground with me. They are also vastly different from one another. I cannot possibly fit the “right person” into a neat little box that checks off the “correct” qualities in a partner; that would never allow for that person to grow if they were always constricted to that criteria, nor would such a person ever exist because no one is perfect. Yes, there are people I would get along better with, become more attracted to, but this is also not a guarantee that I have met the “right person.”

In short, I don’t know what the phrase “right person” really means. A better phrase to use would be, “The person who will be mutually attracted to you will come along.” It is a two-way street, after all, regardless of who is “right,” wrong, or ultimately left behind.

How Spanish Allowed Me to Find Myself

I remember uncomfortably watching a home video of myself when I was five years old. It was my sister’s baptism in March of 1995, and in her honor my parents threw a party to celebrate. The camera panned to all the different guests assembled at the party—some of them uncles and cousins, some neighbors, and some family friends. The camera man, my dad’s cousin, spoke to all the relatives in Spanish and asked them what they were up to.

The time arrived for presents. I was waiting excitedly in front of the wrapped gifts, and my baby sister was in my mother’s arms as one of our relatives helped open the cards and gifts on the table. The most uncomfortable part of this entire event—the cringe-worthy part that made it really painful to watch myself—was how awkward I was with my language at that young age. I was in kindergarten at the time but rapidly learning English, and with it came the awkward experimental language phase as I tried to make sense of the world around me.

“Wow, that’s a big fish!” I exclaimed when a large box is set on the table.

My mother and the guests gave each other weird looks, and on camera my mom said, “Okay…” whilst giving me an odd look before moving on.

Children sometimes say the strangest things when they are young. An external witness may have automatically assumed that my grasp of the language was poor; the gifts were not fish, and I had no idea what I was talking about. For all I know I could have been making a metaphor like Pablo Neruda or Gabriela Mistral, my inner poet already emerging at the tender, young age of 5.

Language is often associated with power in the United States. An immigrant who does not already understand English finds multiple roadblocks to acquiring a job, making friends, voting, and simply making oneself understood. I have a vast amount of relatives who have never learned English despite living decades in this country, and although the system brands them as unintelligent and stubborn because “they should have learned English by now,” I can understand how hard it is—and still is, twenty years later—to learn English. And yet the power and prestige exists like a carrot dangling in front of all of us, no matter how evolved our expertise is. And yet, this falsely advertised “diverse” government wonders why we often want to bite the hand that holds that elusive carrot.

My first known recollection of language and power occurred when I was that same age as in that uncomfortable home video. Even though my kindergarten teacher did not know Spanish, I somehow managed to learn English in the year I spent in Ms. Willcut’s classroom. We often had teacher’s aids that communicated with us and would separate us occasionally by language ability. When it came time to enter the first grade, we had a choice. Parents could either continue to place their children in the bilingual track, or in the English-only track.

I do not actively remember learning English, but I do remember the prestige that came about with knowing it. My elementary school had widely mixed demographics, the vast majority of us being Latino, Black, and East Asian. Only a very small percentage of students were White. It was quite common to segregate into different groups on the playground. I would often hang out with the other Latina girls as we all played hand or rhyming games in Spanish, such as “A la rueda de San Miguel.” As I learned more English later on, I also learned more ways to communicate with the other children in the class, and eventually these hand games were forgotten in favor of English ones. Ultimately even in sport and fun, the English language wielded its power over the Spanish.

Colonialism still lives on.

I have memories of arguing and crying to my mother because she insisted I stay on the bilingual track for three years instead of one. In the context of the community, the bilingual track was considered the “stupid kid” track, because it was implied that we were not smart enough to learn English as quickly as the other students. Even though we covered more or less the same material as the other classes, I felt that we were looked down upon for our perceived lack of language abilities. Much like how my relatives are ridiculed in society for their perceived inability to learn English, I felt being in the class was a slap in the face to my own skill set, and that I was being held back by having to answer in two languages instead of the dominant one. Even at a young age I had a sense of feeling held back for a cultural reason.

In retrospect, I am thankful to my mother for agreeing to place me in bilingual education as long as possible. I have retained my Spanish-speaking abilities while developing my English, and I have also managed to grasp a better hold on grammar and sentence mechanics. I have been told in my adulthood that being fluent in two languages is a great asset when considering where to work, whether the “other” language is Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Somalian, or some other tongue that forms part of the Tower of Babel that is the United States, whether people want to admit it or not that our country is that way. Whereas in my childhood I have shunned my Spanish-speaking side as inferior, in my adulthood I have come to more closely embrace this aspect of me, and view it as an asset like I was supposed to years ago. Spanish is beautiful, Spanish is articulate, Spanish is romantic, Spanish is precise in its meaning and passionate in its directness. It is not this ugly, brown, alien thing that people have synonymized with drug deals, teenage pregnancy, over-sexualization, farm labor, and ignorance.

I still witness this power culture associated with the English language, but if my experiences have proven anything it is that I possess power in knowing a second language. I have acquired a key of access to the doors of millions of people throughout the world, and like other countries outside of the United States I can appreciate the dexterity and skill associated with being bilingual. I can admire the words of Pablo Neruda when he stated that poetry and life were in search of him, as the words carried its own unique punch in the original Spanish that English somehow could not do justice to. I can understand the metaphors of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Miguel Cervantes, or Paulo Coehlo, when in their characters’ quests through life they found a piece of themselves.

Spanish has enabled me to find a piece of myself, too.

 

 

The Third Space

The Third Space.

In Spanish, we have a saying that describes what the “American Experience” is for Latinos: “Ni de aca ni de alla.” Neither here nor there. One foot on either side, never wholly in one space, never wholly feeling like we belong. For many Latinos, this means being seen in American culture as–to put it bluntly–an alien.

“Oh, where are you from? No, where are you REALLY from?”

“Do you know that everyone on this show looks like you?”

And so on and so on.

Likewise, whenever I visit El Salvador I’m welcomed by my family, but I’m never really “one of them.”

“Oh, your cousins don’t want to go THERE. Take them to the mall or McDonald’s. Somewhere more American.”

“Que dijistes? What did you say? I can’t understand your accent.”

This is sometimes said of my sister, who is the most Americanized out of all of us and is treated and revered like an American for her whiter skin and Westernized attitudes. As a result, my relatives try hardest to make her happy, which only echoes what I’ve seen other Latinos do to accommodate Americans.

What does any of this have to do with the so-called “Third Space”? In my experience being in the Master in Teaching program, I find myself privy to falling into this Third Space. As a masters student, I am exposed to a constant influx of pedagogy and philosophy. Names like Vygotsky, bell hooks, Jean Anyon, H. Richard Milner–all swim through the subconscious of our curriculum like fish at sea we catch and put into our ever-growing fish tank we need to maintain and take care of. We get bombarded with social justice curricula. We attend conferences and training to encourage us to push our thinking and our beliefs. We stay up doing homework and give up precious time with loved ones to write critical memos, essays, our inquiry-driven thesis papers.

We rethink schools.

By contrast, our school lives have different expectations of us. We are asked to differentiate, to discipline, to divulge into the school’s curriculum. We sacrifice precious time with our loved ones to grade papers and plan lessons. We are asked to think outside the box, collaborate, to be on time, to give 110% even if we are already giving 100% elsewhere.

We teach.

We rethink schools.

But the Third Space–that in-between in the Venn diagram linking Masters work with School work–is always there, constantly staring at us and analyzing us like a third eye. We are called to be masters students, but also teachers. We have to find ways to incorporate both what we learn in our program and the school’s culture. We sometimes even have to balance social justice in places that see justice as equality, not equity–as colorblindness, not racism.

My experience in the Third Space made me feel like I was in the Twilight Zone. Last Fall, we were taking time out of our lesson on something we did in English Language Arts to present a PowerPoint on bullying. The high school I was in tries to bring attention to justice issues in various ways, and pushes teachers to be aware of stereotypes we may not be aware of. The school, like many in Western Washington, is also predominantly White. Unsurprisingly, so was my mentor teacher. It was therefore no surprise that the following exchange occurred when the conversation shifted toward stereotypes:

“Okay, so this is why we don’t do stereotypes. Let’s say you,” pointing toward a Vietnamese-American student in the middle of the room, “were stereotyped with always getting good grades in math. That is a prevailing stereotype, if I thought —- is really smart because she’s Asian.” My mentor never even bothered to ask —- about her cultural heritage. How did she know she wasn’t Pacific Islander?

Another time, we had an English Language Learner in a different class period. I asked my mentor where she was from, in case there were accommodations I could make to the curriculum.

“I think she’s from China,” replied my mentor two weeks into the school year, when she had time to research these things. She was also working on her ELL certification at the same time.

I checked the computer system later just to be sure. The student was from Vietnam, not China.

The reason these two scenarios put me in the Third Space was because I was torn. I was taught to never essentialise based on one person’s experiences, and here was this student being asked to represent all students who looked like her in the stereotype of being smart. I was taught to never judge what a student “is” ethnically because everyone’s experience is different, and here was a student being essentialised based on what she looked like. I was taught  to speak up for injustices, and here I was unable to say a word because I didn’t have a job yet, I wasn’t a teacher yet according to my mentor, and my enrollment in my masters program depended upon this assignment. I had no power, and I had no way to bring this up without getting blamed for being racist, or judging my mentor, or having this all be my fault in some twisted way I couldn’t fathom, as people of color are often victimized whenever these matters are brought up. As I had been victimized by bringing it up on a different occasion. I was neither here nor there.

“Ni de aca ni de alla.”

I anticipate yet another ten weeks of being in this Third Space. Like my experiences as a Salvadoran American, I have impossibly difficult expectations placed on me. But there is a strange beauty to being part of two worlds. It is the realization that I have experiences that are unique to who I am, and that can help me empathized with students like the one I mentioned, who are sometimes made to be alien and sometimes feel torn between two worlds that are each a part of who they are. I wonder, in my perceived lack of social privilege, how many teachers out there actually feel PRIVILEGED enough to understand these struggles, and how many are privileged enough to know we one day have the power to be the change we wish to see in the world, to put an end to racial stereotypes that place us in this difficult position to begin with.

I know how to be in the Third Space.

I know how to be neither here nor there.

 

How Traveling to Peru Helped Me Not Give a ****

Peru December 2015 184I just flew back from a two-week tour of Peru. This was my fifteenth flight this year alone. Peru was also the eighth country and third continent I visited since January 2015.

How was my trip? In a nutshell, I’ve had everything happen to me.

I can say I’ve gone piranha fishing in the Amazon and nearly gotten my hands bitten off.

I’ve had monkeys crawling all over my body and clawing into my skin.

I was on a colliding train in the Sacred Valley and delayed for hours because they were trying to connect our train to another one. Like literally connect with old-fashioned rope.

I was on a plane ride from Cusco to Lima that was probably the scariest hour of my life and had everyone on the plane screaming in fear.

I lost my credit card and was stranded for hours at the airport because of it.

I got terrible food poisoning and dehydration because of it.

I was on a bus for 22 hours in which people were vomiting non-stop and I worried about falling off the side of the Andes.

On my last night there some drink idiot decided it would be fun to pee all over the beds in our room. While we were still in them.

Although this likely sounds like a list of rants (to all the haters out there, I’d bet you’d be complaining even more if all this stuff happened to you), I’ve done many fun things as well.

I visited ruins like Sacsaywaman and Huaca Pucllana that left me impressed at the intelligence of pre-Columbian civilisation, and ignited a new anger for what colonialism did.

I got to climb Machu Picchu on a sunny day, and imagined what life must have been like before the Inca were forced to leave this sacred city.

I spent three days in the Amazon Rainforest and lived beneath tarantulas that looked at me, bats that flew over my head at night, and macaws that tried eating my breakfast but at least cawed hi every morning.

I saw women dressing baby sheep and llamas in hats. This alone brought on many a fainting spell owing to cuteness.

I experienced the health care system in Peru and marvelled at how cheap it was for me to get good medicine, doctor visits, and vaccines without insurance. Granted it’s not the best health system but I like it better than my current health plan in Olympia.

Above all else, I experienced the kindness that other people had for one another as people tried to be as helpful as they could, and were genuinely interested in my life and what I had to say. I made awesome friends on the trip and talked to so many people.

Sometimes I wonder, with all the cool stuff I’ve done prior to these two weeks–and even during this trip–why my confidence levels are still low. Why do I care so damn much about what others think of me?

This trip, while it didn’t necessarily eradicate my low confidence levels, at least helped me evaluate them and gave me the courage to challenge them. I’d often have people ask me, “Are you really traveling alone? You must be very brave, I could never do that.” And although I didn’t always feel brave while flying, or while wondering when the operators would make the trains stop crashing into one another, or when catching piranhas and having them accidentally drop into our boat and trying to bite our feet, it did help me realize that I experienced those things anyway.

And I’ve survived.

What’s more, the clothes I wore for two weeks were anything but flattering. I was always in long sleeves and loose pants to avoid mosquito bites and help relieve some of the sweat of summer near the equator. My face burned a bright tomato red despite how much sunscreen I applied. My Spanish, although fluent, was imperfect and slow. My hair was always wild and sticking up everywhere. I never wore make-up except on the last two days of my trip. I knew I was un-sexy. But guess what? All of that cool and uncool stuff on that trip would’ve happened to me anyway, regardless of how I was dressed or what I looked like. I would’ve still had an adventure.

And overcoming these obstacles, with or without looking attractive, would’ve still allowed me to realize that I am capable of almost anything I set my mind to. I mean, if I can get lost in the rainforest with my tour group while avoiding stepping on a serpent or getting eaten by anacondas or bullet ants, then why the heck should I ever place doubt in my own abilities to do an amazing job in life? And why should I ever fear things like asking out cute guys or publishing a novel, when I can just go for it after all I’ve been through?

When walking through the underground catacombs at La Iglesia de San Francisco, seeing the astounding piles of bones that were the result of the devastation of the earthquake in the mid-1700s in Lima shocked me, but not because of the number. It was because each bone was indistinguishable from one another. It didn’t matter if these people each made mistakes or looked and felt pretty enough; those things never lasted. Life is just too short to be worried about petty things. Some day my bones will be decomposing as well, but will I have lived and loved enough and appreciated the person I was while alive?

When looking at the remains of ancient Peruvian civilisations at the National Museum of Archaeology, I realized the stories inherent in the struggles that the journey of life brings us. It made me realize how tough ancient Peruvians had to be, in order to endure their survival in spite of the onslaught of colonialism, and in order to preserve their native Quechua. I doubt it mattered how much make-up they had on or if they wore designer labels (although after this trip I’d be proud to wear the label “100% baby alpaca” cause that stuff is HELLA SOFT).

After a while, I found myself not carrying about what other people thought about my hair, clothes, or accent. I just went on an amazing trip and have awesome photos to prove it. I am fully adequate in my abilities as a human being; my job is not to be sexy for your viewing pleasure, I’m capable of way better than that.

To everyone who thinks it doesn’t matter what others care about you, you are mostly right–but still, don’t be a dick about it, because you shouldn’t pee on other people’s beds and then make public, inappropriate jokes about their virginity. Or take away their credit cards. Don’t forget to be kind in your quest to be your best self.

Why Everyone Should Watch Stand-Up Comedy at Least Once

So tonight, I watched Aamer Rahman do a stand-up show at Evergreen State College. It was part of the Day of Absence and Day of Presence event that was occurring this week, which addresses race-related issues by raising the question: What would happen if we had a day in which no students of color were present? The event helps people to realize that we need each other in this wide and vast world; diversity is a very good thing indeed. Day of Absence had many students of color go to an off-campus site to engage in a retreat that addressed diversity and race issues, while the rest of the student body stayed on campus to attend talks and seminars related to race issues. Today, Day of Presence further acknowledged the importance of diversity by having both white students and students of color come together on campus. The day culminated in a stand-up comedy act given by Australian comedian Aamer Rahman, who was absolutely superb and did a fantastic job of addressing racial and ethnic issues in a raw, honest way that made me nod in agreement more than a few times.

Part of what made it worthwhile to attend a stand-up comedy act like Aamer Rahman is because of the issues that are addressed in humorous ways. I often have found that stand-up comedians–really, really good ones, at least–find ways to address real-life, political, socioeconomic, racial, national, and all-around difficult issues to talk about. They acknowledge a lot of the hard stuff that is going on in the world, and rather than turn a blind eye to it, many of them spin it off in ways that can really make individuals think about these issues, and sometimes how ridiculous they are while simultaneously serious. I call it being seriously funny.

Yet this isn’t my main reason as to why I think people should watch stand-up comedy at least once in their lives. No, my reason goes much, much deeper than that, and yet it is also the most simple reason of all.

Basically, there is a lot of @#$% that goes on in the real world, and life sucks sometimes.

I know that this is the least funny statement I could make, because it is dangerously real. However, think about it: I will have to deal with taxes, injustice, unfairness, jobs that might make me want to vomit, family members that might incite the same reaction, responsibilities, the list goes on and on and on. If I stopped to think about the many itsy bitsy, teensy weensy things that make my life hard, unsatisfying, or sad, I would become a very depressed person, indeed. Granted, my problems are not as bad when compared to other people who are dealing with genocide, sex trafficking, war, kidnappings, and so many other awful, unthinkable things that I cannot even begin to imagine. And yet, I find people who are in privileged situations, who have enough money for food and drink, who have family, who have loving significant others, who have well-paying jobs–I find such people who are still unhappy with their lives. It is absolutely crazy for me to think that people who have so much could be so miserable. It also makes sense that to pick out the little things that go wrong in life will, in time, accumulate themselves into a dark, depressing, gigantic snowball. I cannot make sweeping judgments about every individual, but I do know for a fact that there are people out there who do that kind of stuff, often without meaning to.

I myself have a lot of negative stuff going on in my life, but rather than mention all of it right now, I would like to focus on something else that was going on tonight: seeing Aamer Rahman at Evergreen State College. I found him to be so incredibly funny that he made me cry from laughing. Three times. And my face froze in a smile the entire hour he was on stage. That has not happened to me in quite a long time, and I shook my head and smiled later when I realized that I was going through so much stress in my life that it has really been a while since I have had a good, long laugh. That good cry was a long time coming, and I am glad it did come.

The night is over, but the memory of the amazing time I had still lingers. I found that after the show, people smiled more. They laughed and joked more frequently with one another, and even the Q&A with the comedian was such a funny affair that people would make themselves and each other laugh just by asking a question. It felt really, really good to laugh, and although we were discussing serious issues of race, we were doing so in a way that acknowledged the social justice work there was still left to do, but also in a way that saw a side of humor to it as well.

I do not want to forget this night quite so easily. i want to hold on to it as long as I can, and especially to the memory of laughing so hard. A lot of negative stuff may be going on in my life, but a night like this made me realize that it was not all bad. For two golden hours, I was happy. For two hours, I was laughing so hard that I felt my stress melt off and slide out of my eyes and down my face. For those two glorious hours, the negativity and struggle of living in this world was background noise; I just lived in the moment and enjoyed it to the fullest.

Everyone should see a good stand-up comedian if it means that they could find a golden spot in the midst of a sea of darkness and despair. Even if one’s life is not darkness and despair, it is still a good thing to hold on to a happy memory when the going will get tough later on. It may be a small, two-hour speck of light, but I want to fix my eyes on it for as long as it burns brightly–and realize that more of those specks will come in their own time.

The Dangers of Wearing Red Lipstick

Today I bought a tube of red Revlon lipstick.

It was guaranteed to last longer on the lips than the actual lipstick would.

I put some on my lips even though I wasn’t going anywhere for tonight and I wouldn’t be seeing anyone else until morning, at which point the lipstick would have been rubbed off by Kleenex and my lips preserved in chapstick.

Yet I saw that tube of lipstick as not just a tube of Ruby Red; I saw it as a red flag, as a red siren on an ambulance, a red Stop sign imploring me to not go any further.

It was dangerous for me to wear red lipstick.

But it’s just some stupid lipstick, you might say. And yes, I agree with you, it is only a blending of chemicals and pigment designed to make the lips take on an unnatural shade of red. It is just make-up. But it is the effects of the make-up that worry me.

As a girl who seldom wears eyeliner, mascara, blush, or even lipstick, I am used to random passersby ignoring me on the street, pretending I don’t exist in my ordinary shirts and boring jeans. I don’t usually dress to impress. That is not my job; I am just a college student, not an advertisement for a pretty face or a physical object to be admired.

However, recently I began to rethink my whole notion of appearances and looking one’s best. True, I shouldn’t go around wiggling my boobs for strangers or wearing Daisy Dukes to show off my thigh flab or a butt cheek “accidentally”. But I also shouldn’t have to hide under baggy sweatshirts, no matter how bad I think that look that day. Why? Because I only come with one body and I might as well be darn proud of it.

Instead of wearing sweatshirts as was my style before, now I wear more dressed-up blouses paired with tighter jeans and boots or comfortable flats. I am not advertising my body by doing so; I have simply come to realize that my body is pretty fantastic, and therefore I should be proud of it and show off its best features without being vulgar, unacceptable, or desperate for attention. I am merely acknowledging that I am appreciative of who I am on the outside, and that who I am inside is fantastic, too.

So, why is it dangerous to wear red lipstick?

Let me just say that this revelation of confidence in my own body is still relatively new for me. I am still learning how to be kind to myself and how to appreciate myself for what I look like. I am also still quite used to strangers ignoring me, as they continue to do so even with my new wardrobe and with the recent addition of occasional light makeup. Wearing red lipstick would clearly draw attention to my face, and call particular attention to my lips. I am still learning to come out of my shell, but I would need to be able to look the world squarely in the eye before I feel comfortable with strangers being drawn to the sight of my lips. That is still a new thing for me, as naive as it sounds.

For now, I have taken the first step by buying the Revlon Ruby Red. I have applied it to my face and have timidly peered at myself in the mirror. I don’t look half-bad in it.

Tomorrow, I resolve to face the world wearing this minor addition to my appearance. I may not be able to look it square in the eye just yet, but I am proud of myself that I have come this far to let the world look me in the eye–and the mouth–for a change.

Want

You know what I want most in the world? Right now?

What I want most is for someone to tell me that they appreciate me.

Someone to tell me that they love me, on their own, without me having to say it first. They would just remind me because they felt it was important to hear “I love you” every day.

I want hugs. Lots of them. I feel that no one even wants to touch me anymore. And maybe this is why I’ve shied away from them, because if they touch me I’m afraid that they’ll hurt me.

I want to feel like someone in the world cares about what happens to me.

I want someone to tell me what they like about me. And I’m not talking about physical appearance; I’m talking about my brain, my personality, my good qualities, the way I help people, my dreams, anything important that really matters. I just want someone out there to know that it exists. I exist. I’m important, too.

I want to feel like I matter. Like I’m not someone people can use to achieve their needs. I want to be needed for me, because they need me as a friend.

I want people to stop telling me awful stuff about myself, as if constantly rebuking me is the answer, and as though them telling me how awful I am will make me wake up one day and tell myself, “Wow, ____ is right. I really am an awful person. I should change who I am because they told me to.” I want people to realize that this is NOT the reality, and all this does is make me hate myself more and retreat further into myself.

I want my parents to tell me they’re proud of me. I want them to realize that there are good qualities to me, and that I bother to help them out, and that I’m trying to make them proud.

I want people to appreciate my opinions. For them to validate what I’m feeling, my interests. I don’t want them to always expect me to go along with what they want or what they choose. I don’t want them to always expect me to be the one to compromise.

I want people to try to understand me. I want to feel that people care enough about my feelings, my opinions, to try to see things from my point of view. Not just theirs.

I want people to not always expect me to be happy all the time, or to always be the same person they always thought I was. I want them to like me when I’m sad or angry, too.

I want people to not shy away from me just because I’m angry, or lash out. Or to tell me off because of it. Hatred begets hatred.

I want people to love me for who I am and what I stand for. I want them to stop trying to change me and just accept that this is who I am. I want them to think I am awesome as is.

I want people to reach out to me. To ask me how I’m doing, instead of it being me who always asks them how they are doing.

I want people to make plans with me, instead of me being always the one to make plans with them. I want to feel as though I matter enough in their lives that they are reaching out to spend time with me, not just doing it out of pity or obligation.

I want to stop crying every night because no one tells me that they appreciate me, or reaches out to hold my hand or hugs me and tells me it’s all going to be okay.

I want to stop feeling this hollow emptiness inside my chest, like my heart is slowly closing up for good, like a star about to implode on itself until it forms an empty and vast black hole.

I want so many things. I don’t want to feel it’s wrong to ask for any of this.