“Beautiful”

While it may sound vain, despite being relatively confident, comfortable, and even sometimes feeling rather pretty, I don’t think I’ve ever felt fully represented as “beautiful”. It frustrates me that so much of my already fragile confidence could be tied to media, movies and t.v shows but it kind of is.

Part of me feels like the culture I grew up in does not believe me to be “beautiful”. I’m not western enough, in fact in personal experience when I see an East Asian in a show or movie, while my heart does glow, they are usually mixed race or distinctly more western looking than I or many other East Asians look, so in a way I guess I’m used to feeling sidelined for a more western standard. Which is probably why I’ve never felt that en masse the American.

I often wonder: have I have been conditioned from childhood to see myself as too East Asian to be considered en masse “beautiful”? I have this fear that there will always be that “for an Asian” tacked onto compliments about my appearance or just the “oh she’s Asian” exclamation. I’m not sure when this would/has befall/en me but it’s still become a very real insecurity.

Photo Credit: Martin Taylor Home Page

The older I’ve gotten the more I seem to notice that I’m not sure where I fit, there’s always a twinge when someone asks if I’m an exchange student or to translate something for them, that’s in Korean *cringe*, but hey perhaps understandable transgressions, but still, really?

I don’t see myself reflected back when I see “beautiful” people on the t.v or in books or in American pop culture. When people make lists East Asian are woefully lacking, the part of me that is fed off of pure media is constantly being told that people who look like me aren’t really that beautiful.

I’ve talked about white washing before, but this year I was hit with a whole new wave with the twitter #expressiveasians.

An unnamed casting director is cited in Nancy Wang Yuen’s book Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, as having said, “Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they’re not very expressive.” As much as this statement kind of makes me want to laugh, because who even says sh*t like this? The more I sat and thought about it the more it shocked and … hurt.

Photo Credit: Twitter

I’ve always been slightly insecure about my smile, how small my eyes get when I laugh, I mean just my face in general, but this comment, despite the amazing retaliation from many proud Asians on the internet, just hit hard and not even where it was necessarily directed.

It hit me in a way that I can only liken to feeling like taking a photo with friends looking at it and going, “Oh god why do I look different, why do they all look good while I look so ugly?” It’s just the feeling of being the odd one out, in the case of Expressive Asians it’s being the perpetually non-expressive race.

It’s a kind of reminder that says even if you feel the same you definitely don’t look like it!

While I am in fact Chinese-American I’m not mixed race, I am full blooded Chinese, but I’ve grown up in America with Caucasian parents, in relative white privilege, so I’ve always been stuck between two worlds. I think and act like an American but I realize that people don’t see me as American until I open my mouth and even then sometimes they don’t. It leaves me to wonder about how I feel about myself, how does America as a culture feel about me?

Is it too much for me to want to see myself reflected back from the screen without the aid of cartooning? Is it too much for me to see someone like me be considered “beautiful” in American pop culture?

 

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Scapa’s Journey

There are many things I love in life, and one of those happens to be animals, more specifically horses. I’ve grown up around horses since I was young. Horses are amazing, and if anyone knows me, I talk about horses all the time. My aunt had five of her own horses, and her retired off-the-track thoroughbred named Maggie was one of the first horses I ever learned how to ride on.

Horses have always been a very important part of my life. In sixth grade, my uncle told me that he signed me up for horse camp, and at first I thought “Ha. Very funny, not happening.” But I never would’ve thought that that camp would’ve been an open door that led me to one of my true passions. I never thought I’d be owning my own horse.
It was in April of my freshman year. My aunt came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go to an auction to see baby horses. I knew, logically, I should’ve said no, because I knew we were going to fall in love with one of them and then we’d want to buy a new horse. We already had five horses, but you can never have too many horses… right? Well, neither my aunt nor I believed that because when we left the auction, we already had our hearts belonging to one horse.

His name is Scapa. Right now he’s two and a half years old, but he was just a yearling when I got him. It was less than a month before I was getting my back surgery, and I was not sure if I’d have the chance to ride for another year, but I knew I still wanted to work with horses. My aunt got him for $1500, and over the summer before my sophomore year it was my job to help train him for his first halter class, where he won third place.

Though I’ve only had Scapa for a year and a half, I’ve realized several times that Scapa will most likely live into my forties. While I’m in college, going to law school, and even afterwards, my horse will still be there. Horses will always be there for me, and the fact that as I grow up Scapa will be also, it’s something really special that I’m incredibly thankful for.

People who’ve never been around horses are never really able to understand how much of a treasure it is to form a bond with a horse. Horses have always been my best friends in animal form. Any time I’ve had a bad day, I would go down to the barn and my horse would immediately make my mood happier. From horse shows to camping trips to Ireland, the highlights in my life have always involved horses, and it’ll probably be that way for years to come.

Photo Credit: manetail.com

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Sports vs. Education

With sports comes a tedious amount of dedication, which does not always correspond with school; because, despite the amount of dedication sports require, school requires a thousand times that amount.

Many kids who wish to pursue their sports throughout high school, college, and even the rest of their lives have to make a choice; they either have to give up part of school or part of their sport. Most parents would never let kids give up school, because normally parents’ motto is “school comes first.” But to some kids, their parents let them follow their dreams and chose sports over school. Some of my very close friends, who I developed through horseback riding, have parents that permit them to chose their sport first by allowing them to home-school and dedicate their life to the show circuit.

Even though I still continue on the show circuit with my friends, it sets me back in school with the amount of days I have to miss to attend some of the shows. For example, coming up in November, I have nationals in Las Vegas and if I am to attend, it will make me miss a week of school at least, meaning mounds and mounds of homework, tests, and in class assignments to make up. After missing just three days of school last week, it still was a major setback.

As the years continue the amount of homework I will have to make up after missing just three days of school will only increase. Thinking about this only makes me more stressed out and worried about my future with my sport. I would like to think I would never allow myself to quit because I have devoted over ten years of my life to this sport; but many kids, have to give up their sports in high school in order to maintain their grades and prep for college. I hope I don’t have to become one of those kids, but sometimes I just wonder if it would make it all easier.

From: amazonaws.com

Sports vs. Education: From amazonaws.com

 

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A Valuable Education

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first definition of the word education is “The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” If you asked high school students what the point of going to school is, I have a hunch that the majority of answers would be “to get good grades.” Why is our immediate response that school is not about learning, but about grades?

The purpose of children and young adults going to school is to receive an education that betters our knowledge and helps us become well-rounded individuals. As time has passed and classes have become more rigorous and competitive, the value behind school/education has been lost. The purpose of attending class is no longer to learn new information, but to memorize facts and then spit them back out on a test.

Education has become a competition. With advanced placement and honors courses, students are so focused on earning good grades and getting into universities that they often feel like the purpose of it all is not to learn about world history, calculus, chemistry, etc, but to pass world history, calculus, chemistry, etc.

The grading system was put in place as a way to force students to learn and understand material. I realize the significance of this, but I feel like there is a better way to convey information that will still make a lasting impression and will create a less stressful, more beneficial environment for learning – one that makes students want to learn instead of feeling like they are being forced to learn.

Although the first definition of education mentions “systematic instruction,” the second definition, in my opinion, is far better. Simply put, education is “an enlightening experience.” Now, this might just be my teenage angst speaking, but usually when I come home from school I hardly feel enlightened.

Image via IllustrationSource.com

Personally, I feel like there comes a time when we learn as much as is necessary and beneficial in terms of academics (unless someone’s passion involves a subject that they would then go on to pursue, like a career in science or something of the sort) and the only intelligence that can be further gained is through life experience.

I believe that there is great value in traveling the world and seeing other cultures. I hope to travel all over the world within my life, but not just to the most most desirable places. I want to go to Mumbai, India, where millions of people live in an extremely compact area, or to rural Africa or South America where people live without electricity or running water. Seeing how people live all around the planet, experiencing their cultures and understanding how different peoples’ lives compare to one another: these are the things that help shape a person’s intelligence, skills, morals, and opinions.

I am extremely thankful and privileged to receive the education that I have and I would never want to compromise that. I’m not saying that I’m extremely intelligent (I’m not) and I’ve already learned everything I need to know (I haven’t), but I’ve come to a point where I feel like the best way for me to grow as an individual is to experience all that the world has to offer. But seeing as I am only just beginning my second year of high school, I guess I’ll have to keep up with the classes and grades for a little while longer.

 

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Grief After Tragedy

On Sunday night, a lone gunman killed 58 people and injured 515 more, during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. I woke up Monday morning, checked my Snapchat stories, and saw the news of this story on every major website. In English class, we talked about the shooting, as it related to our weekend reading of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.

A husband and wife were enjoying the country music festival, when they heard gunshots from up above. The husband got shot in the back while protecting his wife, as they ran out of the concert. His life’s work as a nurse culminates, as he saves one more life: his wife’s.

That story isn’t made up, a fabrication put in this post to add even more tragedy to the United States’ deadliest shooting to date. That is the story of Sonny Melton, a West Tennessean. His wife, Doctor Heather Melton, has spoken out about her husband’s final moments in a heartbreaking testimony.

“He saved my life,” she told WSMV, a CNN affiliate. “I want everyone to know what a kindhearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”

This breathlessness can be felt in every victim’s family as they find out about the massacre from articles, workplace conversations, or a lack of a call back. Just like how one finds out about their dad’s car crash from the police knocking at their door at 3 am. Just like I found out about my mother’s death when I woke up on Labor Day six years ago from my uncle, who had to brave a face of me, even though he just found out his sister died.

Whenever a massacre happens, I feel that initial stab in the heart for the 58 families who won’t get to celebrate another birthday, will never get another phone call, or will never see their loved one again. I feel for the 58 funerals filled with tearful eulogies and scratchy black dresses.

I feel for the daughter who has to finish her math homework with dry eyes, as she’s told to “move on with her life.” I feel for the wife who has to go to work, while she budgets for how her husband can have an open casket with a bullet hole through his left eye. I feel for the weeks of articles pinning this shooting on ISIS or a bad father, when all the families want is to bury their loved ones in peace.

Whenever we talk about death, we ignore grief and sadness. As a society, we focus on moving on and waiting for the next tragedy. I hope that those in Las Vegas take the time to mourn and that this time it sparks conversation about gun control or mental health. I hope that no more people have to die to learn how to fix our mistakes, but until then, I hope whoever reads this knows that it is okay to feel bad, to mourn.

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Quiet is violent

“I am not as fine as I seem, pardon.” – Twenty One Pilots

Damn right you’re not perfect! Why else would you make us wait for your new album for THREE YEARS! You have this huge fanbase that follows you on every social media platform there is, analyzes every single one of your interviews, trying to find hints and clues as to what your ingenious minds are working on. And that’s the thanks we get! You let us sit in the dark, staring at your blank Twitter profiles hoping for a new blurried face post or even a like on someone else’s but no! You’ve been quiet for over three months now and your dear skeleton clique is slowly but surely going insane!

Three months ago, you last posted on Twitter. THREE MONTHS AGO! You posted a picture of an eye, with lyrics in it, written backwards, and every day you’d post another one, every day the eye would close a little further. Seriously, you guys are so extra. And all the last picture said was “and now I just sit in silence “.

Photo Credit: bradheaton.com

Uhm… no you don’t, we do! Because we don’t have any new god damn music to listen to. And remember when you promised us a new album in 2017? Well it’s October now, you better hurry the hell up!

 

Okay, but to be honest, even though I hate you guys for torturing us like that, you two are amazing. You’re just these two boys from Columbus, Ohio, without a plan B, who set everything they had on their music career, working as hard as they possibly could, to play another set at another festival, drive another seven hours to perform in front of another seven people. And now, six years and three albums later, here you are, touring together as best friends, in sold out venues like the famous Madison Square Garden. You even won a Grammy. And just like you said in the speech you gave when you received it, “anyone from anywhere can do anything.” So with that said, even you guys should be able to drop your god damn album.

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Money Can Buy You Happiness

In every sport except one, in order to be phenomenal you must practice non-stop and dedicate every hour of your day to challenging yourself in the sport; every sport except for horseback riding. Many people say that money can’t buy you happiness, but in this sport, all riders believe it to be true. Money can buy your way into fame and top ribbons in competitions.

In jumpers, in order to be a good rider that is not as wealthy as your competition, it still requires the same amount of dedication that other sports do; but, if you are rich and can afford to buy $500,000 horses then no matter what type of rider you are you can race your way around the course, be the most ratchet rider in existence, and win every class.

In hunters, the people with the most money always win, even though everyone argues it to be unfair, it has been this way for a century or two. Everything about the owners riding can be inferior to someone with less money than them, but because their horse is nicer, and therefore more careful with it’s legs, it will be able to clear anything you set them up to. Especially in hunters, how you place depends entirely on the fanciness of your horse; including the way it moves, carries itself, jumps, and its flexibility. Hunters is a sport for those of the upper class and all you see at shows in that aspect are people flaunting their money everywhere and paying any price for their daughters to place well.

This aspect of horseback riding frustrates many people in the sport, but yet those who truly love to ride continue to compete no matter the outcome.

Photo Credit: horseshowsbythebay.com

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