We Alway Care
I don’t believe that we will ever not care about what other people think of or see us. We can continue to live in the delusion that we don’t care, but this phrase ‘I don’t care’ is self-explanatory.
If we cared enough to make a statement out of it, it clearly illuminates the opposite. It is exactly because we cared, but we are certainly resistant to the fact that we cared so much, so we decide to shout it out loud, ‘I Don’t Care!’. What is it that we don’t care about? ‘I don’t care about what I really care about’.
Brolly the Jolly
Before I departed for Perth, I went to the pre-departure seminar organized by the university. The organizer shared her experiences living in Perth and I remembered vividly of what she said about umbrella. ‘Don’t use your umbrella when it’s not raining, people will laugh at you.’
So, I came to Perth during the punishing summer, and I did not use my brolly under the scorching sun, because ‘people will laugh at me’. My skin doesn’t take heat very well, it overreacts and is unremorseful after making me suffer the pain of blistered rash. Generally, I don’t do well with heat, my whole system starts to shut down when I am exposed to heat, even in short period of time.
Since that incident, I adopted 2 options for the summer. 1. DO NOT go out. 2. Wear sun-protection hoodie long sleeved jacket (mine is from Uniqlo!) when out in the sun. Now, the sunwear is quite useful, but the sun still gets to my face and neck, and it’s kind of warm having to cover up.
No more! People can laugh all they want, I don’t know them, they most certainly don’t know me! Why would people laugh anyway! It’s hot, we do whatever we need to shield from heat!
The Stupid and the Stupider
The underpinning fear when we follow social norms even though it makes no good sense, is that we are so mortified of being perceived as being stupid and silly. People who laugh at me for protecting myself from uncomfortable sun (noteworthy that Australia has the highest skin cancer rate) are quite stupid, do they know what they are laughing at? In order to avoid being seen as stupid, we do the stupider thing – suffer for no good reason!
More importantly, I already looked ridiculously unfashionable, so why should I care if the umbrella is going to make me look less cool. To be ‘less’, we need to first be ‘cool’. I am not remotely near to looking cool. My fashion sense has always been highly questionable – let’s say I choose comfort over trend, so please trendsetters, choose comfortable apparels!
Happy and Satisfied
So, I was walking home from the campus on Wednesday. With Autumn (that has been taking its own sweet time and letting Summer overstays its welcome) months, we are seeing more rainy and cloudy days. It was sunless when I left home at 12pm, but it was all sunny and hot at 4:30pm.
I had my pretty Japanese (nothing fancy really, it’s just super lightweight and super expensive!) retractable brolly in lavender color in my bag in case of rains. What a life saver! I used it for sun, and I was so happy and satisfied, despite the many stares from the passerby. I loved the wind on my skin that was not airtight covered by sun-apparel, yet not having the unwelcome sun heat touching the skin.
I was really joyful, and I tried very hard not to grin like an idiot – which I tend to do unconsciously when happy!
When I moved to Perth, something changes for me. I become braver to be myself. I believe most of us feel the same way when we are traveling out of the country where we called ‘home’. Home is really a place made up of communities that in one way or another, are connected to us! There is this irrational fear that someone will see us, and we may be an embarrassment to our parents, siblings, friends, and a bunch of relatives that we only saw once a year or longer.
We fear that if we do something different than usual, people will notice right away! Now that I am living abroad alone and very inactive in making friends, I am FREE to do whatever I want! I am free to remold myself into what I truly am, or at least what I think is my truer self.
Being an apparent foreigner allows me to break free from the village syndrome (I made this up, but it’s befitting). See, in a village setting, everyone knows everyone, and everyone talks to everyone – what bloody scary thought that is! – so that keeps us on our toes. We become very conscious about our public image that we feel paramountly to keep in order to maintain the cohesion in the society that we (think we) belong.
Hello! Someone I Know!
So, I was in a very jolly mood, possibly grinning unconsciously like a fool from time to time. I didn’t feel embarrassed when people were looking. I could see they were sweating through their clothes, so why should I care? I looked better and cooler (pun unintended).
Then, I saw my housemate walking toward my direction, with a friend! Yup, the village syndrome is real! Immediately, I felt a little apologetic towards her as I am somewhat associated with her since we live in the same house, and her friend might be thinking lesser of her household makeup now because I am the uncool typical Asian using brolly under the sun!
It was only a very brief moment. I realised that I don’t really care! We aren’t friends, we just live in the same house; and if my friend thinks lesser of me because I am uncool, then she should not be a friend. Wow, I feel so liberated!
Moral of the story – Use brolly, rain or sun.