Be yourself?

Often, we hear parents advice their young ones "just be yourself".

But the word 'just' makes it seem so easy to be yourself. How exactly do we do that? 

From the age of seven, we learn to live by societal norms. Wear the uniform with a white pair of shoes, study certain subjects at school. 

When I was in primary school, I remember wanting to be an artist. I learnt how to make fruit stamps at school and continued making my own at home and filling many drawing block sheets with different designs. 

Then, I would proudly show my parents my 'new' creation. A paper bag with flower patterns made from the cross section of a lady's finger vegetable. A card with repeated patterns from a certain brush stroke. Dad was busy so I'll run to Mom. She told me, "Art will not make you money when you're alive. Don't waste time. Go and study." 

That bothered me. I stopped creating art since. 

I used to love to sing too. Afternoons were spent watching MTV with my helper when my parents were out at work. I love listening to the likes of Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys or Celine Dion. When I sang Celine Dion, my helper would tell me my voice wasn't nice. She told me I would never be able to sing like her. Her voice is like an angel. Mine wasn't. I disagreed and stopped singing out loud.

I remember singing when nobody's at home. Even then, I was afraid that the neighbours could hear me and I stopped singing altogether. 

"Be yourself", people say. 

Who are you?

Even at this moment, I'm afraid of taking up too much space in a room.  

We can't go back and I don't regret the past. For it has shaped me to be who I am today. 

That's why I never tell my children that they cannot do something. "You can, if you want to', that's what I always say.

And today, I'll tell myself the same. "You can, if you want to. Go do what you wanna do. Be yourself". 


Brienne, 13 March 2022, 9.40 p.m. 


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