Spring & Fall
to a young child
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, pub. 1918
I’m an adoptee and was raised by white parents, Polish and Irish American, with their Western view of masculinity. I could also feel the way people wanted me to fit into an idea of the type of Asian male they were comfortable with. Both sides made it hard to be myself. I was often described as quiet, studious, easygoing, book-smart but not street-smart, and some of these descriptions stuck in a self-fulfilling way. It took me much of my life to realize that I was molding myself to a stereotype. I wanted to be accepted, so I valued those characteristics that made me acceptable. Yet I was never accepted. I was either picked on and called “flatface” or would hear people whisper that they shouldn’t mess with me because of course I knew karate. When I was able to start processing how I fit or didn’t fit an acceptable representation of Asians, I held those same stereotypes against the people I met who looked like me. In college, I refused to join the Asian American group because I felt they were too studious, too earnest, too cliquish. Instead, I valued white friendships, white girlfriends, white literature and art and film. I tried to be more assertive but was paralyzed with fear. Whichever role I tried to fit, I didn’t value myself. I didn’t see how I had internalized the same descriptions that the majority culture employs to keep “us” separate from “them.”
Goddamnit. I relate too much to this.
I remember wanting, acutely, both to be white and to be the kind of minority [my friends] so easily were, to be comfortable with myself. I wasn’t comfortable. I wanted to be Asian as a fallback for when I wasn’t able (of course) to be white.
Well, that’s also a bit familiar.
For once, not from Thought Catalog.
I know, right?!
Are you in your twenties? Are you an entrepreneur? Have you been told by your friends, your advisors, and your professional peers that now is your time to build your own life and not worry about things like settling down and having children — especially if you’re a female entrepreneur?
It makes sense, right? This is the only time in your life when you have no ties, no mortgage, no kids to support. This is the only time you can really do something ambitious, if you’re being practical.
And let’s face it, you’re not ready anyway. You’re busy building your company, figuring out who you are, what you want. You get laid on a regular basis; it’s not like you don’t have a love life. A “love” life.
Now is the time to live! (By which you mean building the next change-the-world company, of course.) You’ve moved to New York. Or San Francisco. Or Palo Alto. Or Boston. With the express purpose of building something.
Advanced Dancer Myth #5: They are better than you.
They are NOT better than you. I am not better than you. I like certain people, don’t like other people, and haven’t gotten to know most of you.
I don’t want to be on your pedestal. It’s not safe up there.
Being on a pedestal means I have so much farther to fall when you get to know me and find out I am actually awkward, boring, weird… or normal. (I also don’t speak as well as I write. Sorry!)
When I’m up on your pedestal, remember I didn’t choose to climb up here. When you’re busy calling advanced dancers elitist and cliquey, remember that most of them are trying to be normal, average humans who sometimes step into the role of super-awesome dancer.
So this article is slowly circulating among the various dance friends I know. And this particular point is pretty applicable to my feelings about more “advanced” dancers. I know I shouldn’t idolize them, because the truth is, they’re really no better than you or me. We’re all just normal people, at this dance, dancing with other normal people.
Continued reading over here, where the author makes other excellent points.