Happy New Year, all! If 2015 is anything like its predecessor, then I look forward to a year of growth and discovery.
2014 was a big year for me. Yes, it was the year that I turned twenty-one years old; yes, it was the year that I ventured off to INDIA; but more importantly, it was the year when I really saw myself start to blossom as a human being. I’m starting to sound all fluffy and gushy like my mother, but I can’t help it. 2014 was just that.
So, let me proceed in chronological order. My new year’s resolution January 1, 2014 has been my most realistic thus far. I set a goal that was permanent, not a fad. As echoed through my post ” ‘Growing Up Is Hard To Do…’ But It’s Doable,” I had always been dependent on others’ opinions, their judgement. The best thing in the world could happen to me, but I would only truly feel, or allow myself to feel, happiness if someone else approved of me. Big deal about the A- in Chem; the popular girl likes my shoes! I often thought. My insecurities were my ultimate weakness. I felt a bit empty inside, since I didn’t truly appreciate, didn’t truly love, myself. Therefore, others were able to walk in and assume dominion over me. Strong language, but yes, dominion. There’s an old adage that states, “If you live off a man’s compliments, you’ll die from his criticism.” I have amended that to, “If you live off compliments, you’ll die of criticism.” It was as though my existence were validated through others’ compliments and recognition, that their criticism or even their silence meant that I meant nothing. Yes, teenage Jessica was very dramatic, but not surprisingly so. We live in a day and age where the prized epithets are superficial, merely speaking to our anatomy: beautiful, hot, pretty, sexy, gorgeous, big-boobed, etc.
In 2014, i vowed to be self-reliant, self-dependent. I’d be my motivation, my encouragement, my own validation. I’d be the foundation on which I would stand. After all, caskets don’t have room for bunkbeds, i.e., we face our own fates so we must form our own lives. This is not to say that I will instantly ward off compliments or critiques. We don’t live in isolation, and must deal with people. However, there is an important caveat: we must consult others for support, not for establishment. All relationships–familial, corporate, romantic–are additions to our beings, not the creation of our beings. You can help and guide me, but you won’t make me. This was my resolution made on January 1, and this was the cheer on my 21st birthday.
Also in January 2014, I took a huge leap in applying to a study-abroad program in Mussoorie, an Indian city located in the lower Himalayas. I’d always wanted to visit India, seriously. British comedy-drama Bend It Like Beckham, which tells the tale of a British-Indian girl who defies convention in pursuit of her dreams, is basically my bible. I loved reading-and still do–as a child, and the Indian receptionist at my local library always pointed me towards new genres and authors, always reminding me to follow what I love. Reading became my husband, but writing became my paramour. Putting words to paper, communicating, and dissecting meaning, are my ideas of a good time. Well, the English department sent out emails about a creative writing class in India. I felt like this was heaven-sent. A chance to follow my dream in the country of my dreams. Now, while I had embarked on a journey to self-assurance and self-confidence, I was often plagued by bouts of insecurity. Therefore, I was somewhat hesitant to apply to the program, as I was doubtful that I’d be accepted. However, I wasn’t going to punk-out on my resolution, so I applied. Thankfully, I did, as I was accepted.
India both confirmed and disproved my ideas. Naively, I felt that watching an Indian family as shown through Bend It Like Beckham and reading books penned by South Asian authors such as India Calling, The God of Small Things, The Tree Bride, The Namesake, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia had equipped with all the knowledge necessary.You can find out more about that in my essay, “The Girl Who Shot God.” Provocative title, I know. Ultimately, India was symbolic for life, for the world at large. When we put ourselves out there, our ideas are both proven and disproven, but in either case, we learn. We learn how to think, how to act, and how to be. We learn about ourselves. Dhanyavad, India. I thank you immensely.
July 2014 was not only the best month of the year–it’s the perfect summer month–, but also my birth month. I turned twenty-one. I always celebrate a birthday, because it marks another year lived. However, twenty-one marked a year really live. Though it hadn’t been exactly three hundred sixty-five or sixty-six days, by my twenty-first birthday, I had taken baby steps toward being the woman I truly want to be: confident, curious, and charismatic.
Now, heere’s to 2015 and the world at large
Cheers. I’ll drink to that.