In order to improve my chinese, I should probably improve my english. And even though in the next 10 months I won’t be able to become a highly educated well articulated scholar, I do think that writing will help me be more articulate, which can then help my chinese. Or at least that’s what I believe now. I don’t know. It probably can’t hurt.
What’s been rattling around my head recently is authenticity. Sometimes I get the impression that being myself is wrong. There’s an ideal man (and woman, but I’m not concerned about becoming that) constructed in our society, based on our values and, more specifically, the values of white-american culture. I wouldn’t say that I don’t fit that image. Instead of leading I prefer to follow, instead of talking I prefer to think first. I hate small talk and I’m rarely friendly with strangers (and I imagine I’m perceived as cold, distant, aloof, unfriendly, etc by even some of my closer acquaintances). These traits have their place and value in other cultures, but are rarely looked upon as favorable in mine. Over the past 5 years I’ve slowly been gaining self-acceptance (incidently it feels damn good, I highly recommend it), and coming around to the idea that you don’t have to strive for the ideal person in one’s own respective culture. Whereas before I would realize that I don’t fit the model white American male and feel like I was in the wrong, more and more I find that I would rather be myself and accept my personality traits and persona than strive for something I am not.
I’ll admit that I’m always initially off-put by people who are very different from the norm. I’m not used to it and I haven’t yet learned how to quickly adapt my speech so that I can find something to talk about with them, or how to readjust my thinking to see them as a person with a story rather than just some weird person. As an aside, a few months ago I had an epiphany while eating a burger. It was my first time leaving the base for the weekend, and we went to a local brewery to have a meal. I had a burger, and the burger itself was delicious, perfectly medium, nicely seasoned, tender meat, the bun was house-made and perfect, the toppings weren’t so much that they crowded the taste of the burger nor did they make it ungainly to eat, the porter that I had with it was also made in-house and oh-my-god was it delicious. It was at that moment that I realized that what I’d been missing eating in the dining halls was depth; the food isn’t bad, per se (well…most of the time, if you can overlook the sodium content), but it’s all just so bland and boring and it lacks flavor and vibrancy and LIFE and depth. After a bit of thinking I started thinking that people are also like the fine burger from that brewery, they have so much depth. I may not always see it, but everyone has however many years they’ve been alive worth of stories influencing who they are and how they act. Anyway, after that experience it made it a little easier to realize that weird people are normal people, they just aren’t as afraid to express their authentic selves as much as others (or perhaps they perceive the relationship between themselves and the universe in a different way than most “normal” people perceive that relationship).
One question that I thought up literally just now because I oh so love to hear the sound of my voice on paper is who gets to decide what’s normal or not? I’m not talking about a spiked mohawk with a nose ring or a man wearing a dress or someone who likes to eat bacon and peanut butter and pickled garlic sandwiches, but rather who gets to decide that vanity is a deadly sin? Is it still vanity if someone is constantly checking their appearance, constantly worried about how they look and how other people are perceiving them, constantly buying new clothes, but doesn’t let it affect their relationships with other people? Just because you disagree with someone buying a new outfit every week, as long as they can still maintain healthy relations, why should they be forced to stop expressing that trait? This is probably a shitty example, and on a friday night after week with a unit test and less sleep than normal it is probably less coherent than normal, but do you get what I’m laying down?
It’s human nature to grate against certain types of personality. I’ve met a few people here who I find it extremely easy to click with, with some I have friendly banter, with some I agree (in an eerily similar manner in some aspects), with some I find it easy to flow the conversation, and others it’s like talking to a brick wall, and they’re on the other side talking to the other side of said brick wall. But that shouldn’t stop us from being true to ourselves. I’m not advocating that we open ourselves to our vices and do whatever the hell we want, but rather saying that as long as you act as true to yourself as possible, as long as you try and improve upon actions and thoughts that are detrimental to yourself and damaging to other people and those that put distance in the relationship between people so that those are fewer and fewer, eventually you’ll meet people that you get along with, people that influence you, people you influence, eventually you’ll meet people who you genuinely enjoy being around.
The further one strays from the center of what’s the average person of one’s own culture the more difficult it is to find others like oneself, but that shouldn’t deter any one. Just keep on meeting people and eventually you’ll find someone on your side of the brick wall. Unless you can’t find anyone. Then you’re probably just an ignorant, unaware asshole.
Looking back this doesn’t make any sense at all. Moreover, it reads like it’s in some sort of purgatory between high school and college. Even more, this level of shit isn’t what will help me on my chinese because I won’t get to that level in this class. I need to work on descriptions. She was tall and skinny, with long straight black hair that ran down to her lower back. She had long legs and long arms. Her face was pointed and her nose was much like a corner of a table that you’d be worried your toddler would hit his head on when he was running around your 3-room-2-hall apartment, but her eyes were big and her eyebrows were graceful. She wore an inviting smile, and wasn’t afraid to show her buck teeth. She rarely wore glasses but sometimes she did, especially when she was tired or at the end of a long day. Like I said, she was skinny, her neck was narrow and even her ears were slim. In terms of personality she was 活泼开朗，好像中国人都是活泼开朗的，女孩子都有眉清目秀，男的都很大眼厚眉，我不知道怎么说。SHESHESHESHESHE ad nauseum.
Or maybe this is just me trying to justify my desire to avoid interacting with stupid people.
P.S. Words of the recency:
prodigious (large, massive)
sough (sound of wind in trees, which inevitably leads me to susurrus – a whispering or rustling, like a brook)
venerable (given respect because of age or wisdom)
philophobia (fear of love)
好像 (seems like, appears)