What I'm about to write is not a list of wise words or a collection of life-changing experiences, but an assortment of personal issues I let go over the years.
You might find some of them ludicrous and/or cringeworthy, but, don't we all have some hang-ups that may sound ridiculous to outsiders? No? Well, aren't you lucky.
Anyway, here we go. I hope you won't judge me. If you do, that's OK, too. We just won't be friends; that's all.
1.Body image issues
I have cankles. My legs are super short and my torso super long. I don't have thigh gaps, and my legs are chunky.
My friend commented that I have "an upper-body of a 12-year-old boy." Well, at least gravity is not my enemy which is good because she can be a bitch.
I can probably spot my pores from 10 feet away, and I've never been a big fan of my nose.
When I was younger, I thought I could change at least some of the physical features if I worked hard enough. I joined the gym to tackle my cankles and to get lean legs. Nope, didn't work.
Then I had my daughter who shared some of my features. It finally occurred to me that this is in my DNA, and therefore there is nothing I can do about it. I stopped fighting.
The funny thing is that I think my daughter is absolutely adorable, and I tell her so. It's too bad that my parents couldn't do the same for me.
2.Leaving fun till later
We've all heard that we need to live for the moment (with healthy consideration for the future.)
It's easier said than done. It's a balancing act, e.g., you should go on that vacation you've been wanting for all these years but make sure you'll have enough money left in your child's college fund.
I really sucked at this until recently.
I was a delayed gratification queen. I created goals and didn't leave any time to celebrate between them, so I was always feeling inadequate. I kept telling myself that I will start focusing on having fun and living my life when I finished x, y and z.
Paying down mortgage faster was more important than going on a vacation, and I prioritised taking online courses over socialising. I was always too broke and too busy to have a good time.
Over the years, I almost forgot how to have fun because I practised so hard living without it. Then a few years ago, my husband, who's always been my "no-fun-life" partner, broke off the curse and started enjoying himself as he established his own business.
I was super bitter since I saw him as having fun at my expense. (I had a well-paying, stable job while his income fluctuated, plus he was not good at managing finances.) It would have been different if I enjoyed my work, but I didn't and, as usual, my plan was to suck it up until I can retire with a good pension.
Then I heard that one of my colleague's spouse, who is younger than me, got diagnosed with an incurable disease, and it dawned on me that I could die before I retire. Which means all the "fun" that I've been banking on can become worthless like a share of a company that went bankrupt.
So I said screw this and planned to leave my job in a few months. And I did.
Nowadays I make sure that I have a little thing to enjoy every day. I enjoy getting up at 8:00 am instead of 6:30. I relish working whenever I want. I appreciate being able to go for a walk at 9:00 pm on a weekday. I love staying up late. And now whenever I order assorted nigiri at my favourite sushi restaurant, I eat ikura, my favourite, first. I used to leave it for the last.
3. Internalised racism
When I first came to Canada, I went to live in a small town of 6,500 people in the mountains. There were a few other international students and we collectively stuck out like a sore thumb.
High school can be an awkward time in your life, and the awkwardness is amplified when you don't speak English, and/or only a very few people find you attractive.
It really doesn't help when your own mother tells you that there must be something wrong with the white guys who choose to date you because "white girls are much prettier than you are." (Yeah, seriously, what is wrong with my mother?)
Once, I've overheard two middle-aged women talking behind me in a lineup at a bank. They were commenting how only unattractive white men who can't date any white women date Asian women. And then when I told my white friend about this incident, he agreed with the women at the bank.
All these incidents did numbers to my self-esteem, which was already pretty low to start with, and I believed that I was somehow not as good as Canadian-born Caucasians.
I don't remember the definitive moment when I let go of my internalised racism. Moving out of the small town helped. Becoming more fluent in English helped. Meeting white people who treated me as equal helped. Meeting other non-white people who are confident and successful helped. And Lucy Liu helped (LOL, but honestly).
Anyway, I feel pretty OK now about being a middle-aged Asian Canadian woman who is approximately 89% fluent in English.
My parents are very superstitious people, and so, by being raised by them, I naturally became superstitious myself.
For example, I didn't clip my nails at night for the longest time because it is bad luck. I also refused to sleep my head pointing towards north because it is bad luck.
Other stuff I was made to believe: Washing hair on the second day of the period will cause gynaecological diseases, whistling at night will bring snakes to your house, planting a fig tree in your garden will cause a family member to fall ill. These are just a small sample of crap I used to believe in.
Belief might not be the accurate word because I knew I was irrational. It was just that superstitions were so socially and culturally accepted in Japan that it almost seemed real, just as some prejudices are accepted as facts in the western society.
As I got older, the dissonance between facts and superstitions got louder which I could no longer ignore.
So, I made a pact wth myself back in 1999. Does anyone remember the Nostradamus's prediction of the world ending on Dec 31, 1999? I decided that if the world doesn't end on that day, I will quit believing in all the superstitions.
You know what happened, or, rather, didn't happen. I stopped believing superstitions on Jan 1, 2000. I remember feeling light and empowered on that new year's day.
So there you have it. I can't believe that I used to live with all these craziness. I'm so glad that I got rid of them!
What's the weirdest/craziest intangible stuff have you let go of?
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