When I was young, I had straight hair: golden, shiny, long curly hair. People would say, “Olivia, your hair is beautiful, don’t ever touch it.” In a sense, I felt quite pompous because of my hair. I knew people were attracted to it. My mother called it mermaid’s hair and I took extreme pride in the comment. I loved the attention my hair drew; it became key to my identity. Being young and blind to cultural and social cues, I flaunted my hair and reveled in the jealousy of others.
But then I grew up. I stopped living in the trance of my innocence. I became aware of the culture of my family and I didn’t know where I fit into that.
Being African American, Filipina, and Caucasian, I was surrounded by many cultures at a young age but grew up in a town where the ethnicity was mainly white which was reflected in my appearance with my long, straight, golden hair. The blonde hair that tickled my back as I walked side to side was a label for things that I didn’t understand at five years old, and that was my heritage. My hair was not the type of hair that you would see on a little black girl.
My African American family and my Filipina grandmother would always have something to say about my hair. It was too frizzy or too straight and never right for their standards.
As I grew older and insecurities rose, my hair became frizzier, longer, and harder to manage. During my middle school years, I was confused and grappling with a loss of identity. With no relationship with my heritage, and trying to guide myself through my pre-teen years, my hair reflected the struggles I was facing. My hair was developing, and so was I, but I didn’t know how to control it. It and I were lost, and this struggle for a sense of identity lasted years.
Then something happened during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year where I felt a sense of need. So, I cut my hair, all of it, and I felt fantastic. A fresh, ear-length, haircut was what I needed to not only feel confident but awake.
My sophomore year of high school was a major awakening for me and my relationship with my ethnic identity. I understood the history of blacks in America as I began to read poems from Maya Angelou and read about corrupt African American communities in the works of Toni Morrison. I explored music relating to the struggles of black men and women, and began to experience my culture. I also felt a need to connect to my Filipina heritage as well. I began to cook more of my grandmother’s traditional Filipino recipes and shared them with my friends and family that didn’t understand my culture.
My hair reflected the feelings that I was developing for my culture. It was curly, big, darker in color, and felt like me. I finally accomplished the sense of identity that I had been searching for in my young teenage years. I wasn’t just a girl, living in caucasian town with frizzy uncontrolled hair. I was a woman, who knew what she wanted and who she was who just so happened to have big curly locks on her head.
Now, I love my hair just like I loved it when I was a little girl. I am able to bounce my curls all day without feeling the judgment of my family. I don’t care about what people have to say about my looks and how I am not enough in terms of my heritage.
Sometimes, I find myself being guided through life through the wisdom of songs. From songs that don’t have lyrics to songs that only have lyrics, melodies will always lay a path for me to follow. Being 17, I have a lengthy list of songs that have shaped me.
As by Steve Wonder has taught me how to love the people through all four seasons, through thick and thin, through the mysteries of tomorrow. I learned how to love, always.
Man in the Mirror, MJ; This song was, in my memory, the first song that highlighted the less fortunate. At a young age, I realized how blessed I was to have a roof over my head and a full plate of food 3 times a day.
All for You, homegirl, Janet; The “I just wanna have a fun” song of the 2000s.
Superwoman by Alicia Keys. I am SUPERWOMAN, yes I am and yes she is! Alicia, thank you for teaching me that being a woman is super! I have never been more proud!
Fade Into You, Mazzy Star; The song that sends me into a mindset of creativity, and lets me let go of the worries from the day like fading into a different dimension of my mind.
Cobrastyle by Teddybears takes me to Venice, California, windows down, with my father behind the wheel and my brother in the passenger seat.
Me, Myself and I by Beyonce makes me believe in the power of me. I do not need a man to support myself, fuel myself, provide for myself, or feel good about myself.
This is just a mere look into my childhood but each of these songs are inspiring and evoke vivid images of happiness. From my mother dancing in the living room to my dad telling my brother about his latest music find, my family has inspired my preference in music and I am proud.
Theater is one of my favorite things in the world. And though I have the talent of a rock, and would never participate in any musicals ever, I love watching them and over the past couple years my obsession with Broadway has grown stronger. So, I decided to compose a list of my favorite Broadway shows and movie musicals and why.
10. Dear Evan Hansen: I haven’t seen this musical yet, but I am obsessed with the soundtrack, and I really hope I get to see it one day.
9. The Lion King: There’s no reason why this musical is low on my list, because I loved it with all my heart. I was in awe during the whole production with the costume design, music, and set, and would recommend it to anyone, but it’s not a show I would go see a second time unless I went with a friend who would really want to go.
8. The Greatest Showman: This is only a musical, but there are rumors that a Broadway production of it is in the making. This was my favorite movie during all of 2017. I loved everything about this musical movie. The music, the actors, the story, all of it. So much so that I saw it three times in the theater within three weeks, and several times after that on the plane.
7. Wicked: This one should definitely be higher on my list, but I have too many musicals to mention, so this had to be right here. I’ve seen Wicked at least three times because every time it goes to my city my family has tickets. It was the first musical I’ve ever watched and it’s been one of my favorites since.
6. Kinky Boots: To describe this musical in one word, I’d say iconic. A Broadway show about drag queens? With a powerful, positive, feel-good story and catchy as heck tunes? I stan it. Plus, Brendon Urie was a part of it over the summer, which started my obsession with the musical, but isn’t the only reason I love the production. The show’s amazing with or without him and I saw it with David Cook and he was amazing in it. I’m gonna miss this show when it closes in April. #Revival
5. Mamma Mia: Anyone who knows me knows this musical is bound to be on my list whether they decide to read this or not. This is my favorite movie. I’ve never seen the live production of it, but I’ve watched the movie at least 100 times and if I could revive any Broadway show it’d be this one (or Newsies).
4. Hamilton: Do I need to explain why Hamilton’s so high up? I’ll probably have to say why it’s not my favorite, but this musical is amazing. There’s a reason why it’s so freaking popular. It’s a rap musical and all the dialogue is done rapping, there’s no simply talking except for maybe two times in the whole production. I was lucky to see this show with my aunt last year in Los Angeles with tenth row seats and it was the most magical three hours of my life. Additionally, history is one of my favorite subjects and this musical was a modern production on a story from almost three hundred years ago with a diverse cast and an incredible soundtrack.
3. The Book of Mormon: I dedicated a whole blog post to this show last year, but it didn’t do it 100% justice for how amazing it was. This show was hilarious and I went into it skeptical that I was gonna like it, but I loved every part of it. The second it comes to California again I’m buying tickets and I’m anticipating the moment I get to go watch it again.
2. Phantom of the Opera: I get to finally see this musical during summer time and I’ve been wanting to see it more than anything since I watched the movie on Netflix last summer. As of now, it’s still the longest running Broadway musical and I still haven’t seen it, but that will change… hopefully. But, it’s still reserved this spot on my list because I am obsessed with the story, despite how high-key toxic the relationship between the Phantom and Christine is. But, that’s what makes the story so interesting and addicting to watch.
1. Aladdin: This show is the most underrated popular show in Broadway right now. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie, but watching the Broadway version was the most magical three hours of my life. I remember at one point I had to close my eyes because the costume and set design were so insane with bright lights and glitter that it was blinding. I never saw so many dancers in sync and so many perfect voices in harmony together in one song. I remember when the show ended, and my aunt, sister, and I were all leaving the theatre and I was in a daze for the rest of the night. Then the next day, I wanted to return.
This was a really long list, but if you’ve made it to the end, I 100% recommend you go to any of these shows and you’ll have the best experience ever.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi
“He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because he fears.” — Michel De Montaigne
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” — Confucius
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” — Mary Engelbreit
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” — George Bernhard Shaw
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” — Viktor Frankl
“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a life time — help someone else.” — Chinese proverb
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” — Helen Keller
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen Covey
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” — Sigmund Freud”
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” — Joshua J. Marine”
“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” — Henry van Dyke
“I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.” — Corazon Aquino”
Maybe it hasn’t been my year, but it has definitely been my weekend, because, on Saturday, I got to see my favorite band for the fifth time.
This time was the first time I’ve ever been to Emo Nite Day. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to happen, but the experience was way better than I ever could’ve imagined.
First of all, I never thought I’d be in a room full of hundreds of people jamming out to iconic emo songs, like I Write Sins Not Tragedies and Welcome to the Black Parade. The crowd during those DJ sets was just as exciting and wild as when the bands came on. It was an incredible feeling to scream all the lyrics with people who were screaming along with me and weren’t judging if my voice was horrible or not (sorry to the people near me because my voice was, in fact, horrible and really, really loud).
Saturday was the first time I ever got to see 30H!3 live. I only became a big fan recently, but their songs were still a big part of my childhood and I went crazy when they went on stage.
Then, I saw Mayday Parade. The last time I saw them was in seventh grade, but my friend and I continuously joked about how they never came to So-Cal. The times they did decide to come on their tours were weekdays or vacations when we were both out of town. Mayday Parade was one of my favorite bands during middle school, but I lost hope of seeing them live again.
But, I screamed when I heard they would be playing at Emo Nite Day alongside All Time Low and my middle school dreams were coming true. I was finally seeing Mayday Parade again and I got to hear Jersey, my favorite song by them, for a second time.
At the end of the night, after standing for six hours for the moment I’ve been waiting for since I bought tickets in August, All Time Low came on stage. The set was only an hour long, but they played all my favorite songs including Stella. Saturday night was the first time I ever heard that song live and I have the video to prove it, though my voice was louder than the singer’s voice in the microphone. Besides that, I finally checked off sitting on someone’s shoulders at a concert (Shoutout to my friend for keeping me on her shoulders for that long. Sorry I killed your neck, oops).
I know it’s biased because they’re my favorite band, but All Time Low performs the best concerts ever. During one of their songs, they released giant glow-in-the-dark beach balls into the crowd. There were always crowd surfers and people kept head-banging, singing, and jumping up and down during the choruses. Then, during Dear Maria, Count Me In, Luke from 5SOS came on stage and, while I’m not the biggest fan now, they were my favorite band alongside All Time Low in middle school. My former emo self was having the time of her life. They have the most unproblematic fan base, zero drama involving the band, and their concerts possess an energy that is always positive and happy.
I’m thankful for that night. For being able to head into LA for the night and let go of all the stress and drama of senior year and hold on to only good vibes from the evening. I know Emo Nite Day is only once a year, but I can’t wait to go again in the future.