The teacher’s kid

When I reached the age of 3 and went to school for the very first time, I discovered something brutal: I was the teacher’s daughter. Not only that, but I was the teacher’s daughter in 3 different schools! My mother taught in one school and my father in another and he owned his own language institute in which they both taught. I can safely say my parents were literally and factually a school.

My first day at school marked my first day as the 50/50 kid, the child whose appreciation was based on how beloved or despised my father was since my mum taught elsewhere. I was a 3 year old big eyed ball of everything happy when I came face to face with “that guy” on my bus – a 15 year old mess who detested my father and made it impossible for me to get the clean slate I deserved; I was henceforth marked. As days went by, the bittersweet reality became clearer, the random squeals of ecstasy my appearance provoked in some and the flagrant eye rolls and grunts I obviously inspired in others, it was all due to my father being a teacher, the perks and the suffering combined. I later received the same treatment from my mother’s students, but by then I had grown accustomed to the whole charade, numbed to the itchy label I seemingly wore on my forehead – watch out, I’m “the teacher’s kid”, the miniature daytime boogeyman.

It took me my whole pre-teens and a few years into the delightful years of puberty and awkward self-awareness before I truly understood how valuable and just how extraordinary my life actually was, being blessed with two teachers for parents, livng in my own private classroom. I was amazingly lucky, there is no better word to describe it. Under one roof stood gathered walking and talking human dictionaries and encyclopedias, two beautiful souls who had dedicated their lives to the sole purpose of guiding young minds (not to mention adult ones at my father’s institute) down the road of knowledge and haphazardly through life in many cases. I was taught to value people, give as much as I could and stand by all those who needed help in any way possible, to share what I knew, and something I will never cease to thank them for, to understand the value of hard work and hard-earned remuneration.

Our time on Earth is limited and precious, and while we’re here roaming its uneven roads, we might as well make our stay profitable to others, be the gardeners of minds around us, give more than we receive in the hope that someday we too will run into someone we once helped and rejoice in their resulting successes just like my parents so often do. With their minds, they could’ve been anything they wanted, but they chose to teach, to suffer through long parent-teacher conferences, long invigilation hours, endless correction nights, cancelled weekends and their kids blaming them for their lack of energy, too young to fully understand the worth of each day they spent bent over piles of papers, watering the roses of tomorrow.

I was 3 when I understood my parents were teachers, 3 when I started learning that those who teach can in fact do, those who teach know enough to understand that without what teachers do, CEOs wouldn’t be able to type their names, presidents wouldn’t be able to read their speeches and doctors wouldn’t know the difference between a vein and a nerve. I was only 3 when I understood that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like my parents: a giver.


Every day is women’s day

Social media reminded me as soon as I opened my eyes that it was international women’s day, and I cannot help but compare it to all other hypocritical celebratory days like Valentine’s or even Independence. Let’s drink to women everywhere so tomorrow we can go back to throwing the empty bottles at their faces for daring to be just that: women.

It took me several years to appreciate the fact that I was a woman, to celebrate my double x chromosomes and proudly wear the label. As a child, all I could distinguish of the female gender was the “fragile” stamp we seemed to all receive at birth, one we couldn’t wash off or replace in a society too stubborn to acknowledge our strength, our power and our deserving all the same rights and opportunities as our male counterparts. Then I woke up, and how glad I was to finally brandish my lipstick and fire away all the sparks my womanhood had bestowed upon me.

However I can’t shake the feeling that giving women a day to celebrate them somewhat diminishes their value, just like Valentine’s or mother’s and father’s day diminish all the fireworks our loved ones deserves every single day. It also feels filled with hypocrisy, the way everyone picks up pink pens and paper on this one day, writes a post on Facebook quoting whichever prominent feminist the internet provides in the search results, and then goes back to not caring or worse, going against what feminism stands for the day after. Your neighbour is a human you should respect, not catcall when she picks up her newspaper in her bathrobe. Your waitress is serving you to pay her bills, not to worship all the nonsense you think you are entitled to utter as a paying customer. That girl didn’t wear a skirt for you, she wore it because she feels good in it. That lady is feeding her child so he is well nourished and can grow to become someone who will stand up for the mothers you deny the right to breastfeed in public spaces because it makes you queasy. Every woman is a being to be respected just like any other being on Earth, with beautiful superpowers like those of procreation and overflowing emotion and empathy. To all those who still doubt it, our hormones are one of our sources of magic.

Ultimately, everyday should be women’s day and mother’s day and an occasion for all those beautiful celebrations to remind us that we should love each other with no boundaries, no misogyny or sexism or antiquated patriarchal ideas on the place of women in society. A woman’s place is wherever she deems fit, wherever she feels comfortable, wherever she feels useful and hopefully, wherever that is, she can feel safe and strong.

Too little too much

Ever since I was a child, I have been taunted by the fear of being too much of anything, too loud, too different, too nice and yes, even too loving.

In a society that promotes distance, casual relationships with no profound attachment, caring too much has somehow become a defect of the human heart, something we’re doing wrong. Every time we get too close to another, whether friend or more, an alarm resonates and we pull out of our mischievous trance; today’s society is based on nonchalance and vapid companionship, anything more can turn out fatal. We call friends people who make our hips dance but our souls stand still, lovers those who offer us everything but their hearts, and for some inexplicable reason, this has become completely normal, synonymous with happiness.

I remember watching old films with my parents, listening to fabulously written dialogue and loving diatribes spoken with passion and glistening eyes, and I dreamt of the day I’d be old enough to have someone come up with words as warm and tender as those uttered by the likes of Cary Grant and Gene Kelly, swoon under the riveting gaze of chivalrous men burning with untamed passion. Instead, all I have seen of courtship has been reduced to strangers finding solace in strange bodies, short-term internet-made friendships, divorces happier than weddings and a world much less inviting than my innocent heart had dreamt while watching those films with the only two people who ever made me dream of more than society allowed or taught me to seek.

In the end, it isn’t being too much of anything that truly scares me, it’s the world being too little endowed with what makes my soul flutter and my heart beat faster; I will always do and be more than is advisable, and maybe someday society will finally decide to catch up.

“Y”… oh why?

I was born in 1990, and while growing up, my parents always repeated how lucky I was to have escaped the war, how good it was to be a 90s kid. When I look back on some of the things that decade gave me, I tend to nod and agree, but then I remember the 90s are over and I’m not really happy about the 21st century.

They call us generation Y, the generation that’s not as strong as the survivors we call X, but more technologically savvy, also more distracted and definitely less rooted. We are everything and nothing all at once, we’ve been given the tools and ripped of the answers, offered the world then deprived of its authenticity. I don’t have a sense of belonging, don’t really know where I am heading and not sure I want to pick just one place, one definition or one destination; I want it all, but is it really a good thing? I believe our generation was permitted to ask too many questions, to rely too often on introspection and in parallel, to accept cheap answers trending wherever we look. The media is too present, everything we do is controlled whether we notice or are completely unaware, our rebellion is programmed years before we think of it, our passions written for us… even our facial expressions are dictated by social media. We have built a gigantic mess and worst of all, learnt to embrace it as a comfortable dwelling, living in willingly ignorant bliss.

They call us generation Y, and boy are they right, because I wonder “why” too.

Introvert vs. Extrovert

Growing up, I was often asked whether I was the calm brooding type or the social bee (since I abhor the other winged insect used for the expression), and often pondered the matter without truly finding an answer that truly suited me.

When I was a child, I had a tendency to approach people easily, wanting to share just about anything that I came across. I’d share my experiences, my food, my toys, whatever made me happy was good enough to be distributed. However, often met with brick walls from my peers, I resumed a life less socially active, having become less inclined to interaction usually turned negative and harmful. My natural disposition thus countered, I grew up in a self-made cocoon that turned into a comfortable abode, a welcoming space that fit little more than myself. Needless to say that years later, upon trying to dismiss a long outgrown shell, I found great difficulty re-adapting to what once came so inherently; I had lost touch with the ways of the world and came off quite often as awkward. A few years later, with practice and time I became proudly master of my colours, then just as suddenly as the whim to leave my cocoon had hit me, I realized how impatient I had grown to rejoin my tiny refuge, how tiresome society felt when exposed to its rays too long; after living through both extremes I understood that I was neither so completely as I was lead to believe, I wasn’t entirely sheltered or adamantly open, I was a bit of both depending on the hour, my mood and whatever life threw at me.

I still don’t understand why such black and white questions never permit grey answers, why we are from birth encouraged to be extremists in our choices, thoughts and characters. I am a thousand shades of complexity and I refuse to adhere to just one pole of the spectrum.

Too little too long

We travel through life with our shortcomings in our pockets. It may not show, it may not be flagrant, but the little things that once made us feel so small, so unimportant or tragically deficient, remain tucked in warmly just under the skin, hibernating with one eye open, waiting for the stage light to hit.

“Not enough”. Two simple words that hit the spot, restart the itch we thought was gone and forgotten. Two simple words that once made everything not so simple, then tainted each moment since, just as they did the first time they scratched the delicate surface of our fragile build. Whether you were bullied, forgotten or let’s face it, just invisible, the scars of youth never totally heal; every victory is lightly bittersweet, every accomplishment incomplete, every smile overshadowed with years’ worth of tears. We carry our miserable pasts with us everywhere we go, spread them on every bite we take out of life, psychology proved it, and deep down we know it to be true: nothing we’ll ever do will truly conquer the fears or feelings of ineptitude our 5 or 10 year old self learnt to share meals with, no revenge on the past will ever fill our present incomplete states. We were innocent and they took something precious away from us, unhinged us and never safely bolted us back.

In the end, no matter how old or how strong life renders us years after our egos and self-esteem were cruelly scorched, there will always be a familiar little voice repeating: why now and not then? And what if it’s all fake, unreal, a mistake? Wounds of yesterday, scars of today, we may have won the battle…but many were buried along the way, and their ghosts still pace, restless, forever unanswered.

Stereotypical differences

Or how to be uniquely the same

I’ve always fit in that little crevice between the mold and the forest, just close enough to take a peak in one and a stroll in the other. The first I dreamt of forgetting, an arid land too scary for the untamed wilderness that seems to have cosied up in my heart, the latter of exploring all esoteric corners intrinsic to it.
Wherever I look, I find quotes posted by dozens of people around me, quotes about being unique, different, standing out… everyone thinks they’re the only ones, everyone is doing that thing that no one is doing, convinced and perfectly deluded that they have found the perfect combination of characteristics that make them totally special, just like the rest, and they want to scream it from the rooftops, in case someone missed the obvious “out-of-the-box”-ness they’ve managed to fit themselves into. It’s like an ice cube tray, no ice cube is the exact same size as the other, or the same clearness or leveled identically, but they’re all ice cubes, molded, flavourless.
I don’t think myself so different, a special something in a land of uncharacteristic nothings; I just don’t care enough to put myself in this or that group of people, to just be one thing for the rest of my life, defined and finished. I like the idea of visiting, observing, tasting, never sticking; I am no whole, just bits and pieces, floating with no repose in mind.
Trying too hard to stand out is the reason people are all the same, the reason why nobody is truly unique. To be an original, one must not try, one must not think about being different but about being themselves, for that is what each person has to offer, their true selves. Everyone wants perfectly drawn eyebrows and cat tshirts and butterfly tattoos on their shoulder and chocolate bar abs and and and… everybody looks like barbie and ken nowadays, everybody wants to be Kylie Jenner, everybody wants to be a bag of bones or an extravagantly curvy tanned cliché with huge lips and D cups. Whatever happened to effortless classic beauties and little love handles, bodies that don’t look like Lego constructions and dresses that don’t remind people where exactly your bum ends? Everybody wants to show what makes them so special, but who exactly are you and what can you do other than draw the perfect winged eyeline and pick the best form fitting outfit for your hashtag? What can your hands, mind and voice do that will leave a mark? That’s what makes you different in the end, the things only you can produce.