"Thoughts on Sex Education S2", I typed. After raving and binging all 8 episodes in a day, I couldn't help but go on a Reddit rage before thinking of penning down my thoughts.
I headed to the shower, and the shower thoughts changed what I wanted to write. The passion for the series itself simmers down with the cooling water. Mind you, I would always have a thing for coming of age works, and this is still a stunning masterpiece, albeit the cliches. Yep, cliches, another word that I might address. Fast forward to now, the piece that I'm covering is probably of my awkwardness growing up.
Back spaced the title, leaving it blank as I wrote my thoughts now. Growing up as an awkward kid, I find myself relatable to the likes of Otis, Quentin, and Charlie. I was the awkward poster kid right out of the cookie-cutter since elementary school. But back then, there's not much information on the internet, nor is there anything I know about awkwardness. The only thing I can get information and learn from is from the magazine. I hated myself. A lot. Because I have troubles making friends, I am too shy to speak up and because of that, I went through elementary being that guy with a best friend (except that Aaron is straight), though I have to add that I find Eric's arc utterly adorable though I hated how Adam used to bully him in season 1 (because I was a victim of bullying too).
"Ronnie, you have to change, you have to be loud, you have to be fierce so people won't bully you again", I said to myself, whispering under my breath as I was packing my bag for highschool. I experienced a total shift in person during high school. I found myself struggling with my identity, as I could be a loner, and at times loud, I found myself "recruiting" loners to hang out with because I empathize with them. I found myself potentially having a split personality as I was torn between being the rowdy loudmouth who won't stop talking within his comfort zone to that original awkward kid who's scared of everything.
I went by college, being the same, and my then-girlfriend might identify that I didn't have the best mental health. I dug a lot deeper and read up a lot more on depression and anxiety, I learned more about mental health awareness, about coping. I begin to actively volunteer or offer my help as a listener as well, to give back to the beautiful community.
Somewhere through my life after, I met this person who gave me someone to identify myself with. She was the one who introduced Paper Towns to me. And it was before the movies were out to (somewhat) disappoint me.
"You're just like this guy from a book", she said.
"Who? and why?"
"Q. From Paper Towns, you are awkward just like him. And the way you behave and speak. Go read and you will know", she said with a smile.
I never spoke to this mysterious girl after that, but thinking back, the Universe might have just sent her to send me on this winding journey of self-discovery. But somehow after reading the book, I fell in love with the book. And I felt attached to Q then, and it was also perhaps it is also because my pen name for writing back then was QWERTY. Which double-ups as how I used to always write with a QWERTY Slide-Phone. I enjoyed writing, but I didn't embrace it. I enjoyed reading and I was a librarian but I wasn't proud of it. I was afraid of people making fun of me. I was a bookworm and I hide it thinking that its a flaw and it made me uncool.
During this time, the internet age happened as well. There're so many shows that I could somewhat relate too now, movies or dramas which feature an awkward lead together with his best friend. It would automatically bring me back to my school days where I only have that one best friend. Even during high school, as much as I'm surrounded by a lot of friends, I only have that 1 friend that I hung out with, that I do long phone calls with, that I talk about everything with. I could name every character that I was with. Marcus, Yun Long, Aaron, Kunda, Jasper, Meng.
And remember that I would like to "recruit" fellow loners as well? I'll ask them to hang out with us, eat lunch together. Sometimes we would sit together but not talk, and just eat together and go. That's what happened mostly in the latter part of my elementary school. I didn't know it was part of the Hero Complex, alongside with why I may have enjoyed playing listener. It was something that I have, and it was unhealthy sometimes because I may have uses these instances to validate my self-worth. I'll hang out with people who're depressed as well, and we will talk about our problems. It was a heartwarming time, despite most of that friends aren't the usual people I hang out with. I realized we are broken, just not alone. But I am broken. I labeled myself broken.
When Paper Town came in, it all made sense. The cliches come in when the female lead of the film is hot and cool at the same time. She's practically a loner, as lonely as the protagonist and they both found each other. The lead will go through some sort of quest. I distorted this reality and somehow it made me wonder if I have a quest somewhere, like a purpose where I could fulfill so I can feel my worth. So I could feel less broken, so I can fill like I mean something here, on Earth.
But these new age media, feature girls who look like supermodels but are nonchalant and oblivious to the shallows, gave such unrealistic expectations, and I had fallen prey to it when I was a child. I thought I was broken, I thought my ex needs saving, I thought my girlfriend finds me not enough because I hate how I look. Except that in movies, the awkward lead looks hot. And everything is always so perfect in a way.
I was chasing a unicorn that possibly didn't exist. A person who likes what I like. A person who appreciates the weird shoegaze and indie alternative music. A person as broken as me just so we can fix each other. I found so much beauty in rising from the ashes that I ruined my own life itself. I wanted so many things to align and I tried so hard in finding the perfect love story. I was so afraid to love thinking my then-girlfriend wasn't the right one. She is the prom queen, but not broken. She is too perfect, but I'm not good enough. I was a child and while I was too afraid to lose her, I lost track of what actually made me fall in love with her that I still regret to this day. I love her, but I didn't show it. I was childish and immature, and we were just 2 high school kids figuring this all out.
I fell in love with her outside and went after her, and she let me in. And then I fell in love with her insides as well. The warm glow despite her cold stares when she's spacing out. Her smiles would constantly give my broken inside a hug and her hands were boney yet I love resting my hands on the ball of her palm. She was my high school sweetheart, and the one I would never forget. I would look at her eyes and muttered I love you in my breath while hoping her heart hears it. But to allow me to grow, (pardon my dramatization), she is the perfect Margo. Who eventually left and I have to knock some sense into myself.
After that, I got my pick. I met this incredibly adorable and attractive woman. The possible heroine who would rescue me out of depression, to stop me from self-harm as she holds me and cradles me until my anxiety is better. I'll never forget the good, and never forget how I get to play the hero now to fulfill my "quest". I want to make her happy. But I cut myself while picking up her broken parts. As amazing she is, she is also...broken. We were literally crazy in love, and it became alittle toxic. I love her. Perhaps still in the time of my writing. I enjoy how I can be myself with her, and it is like how Q and Margo dated in this universe. I would twirl her around in just about anywhere and dance like nobody's looking. I'll kiss her whenever I feel like it just so I want to let her know that I love her. But I was passionate, I never sunk so deep into sadness before, never had I felt such inadequacy before. I had an intense and overwhelming love-hate relationship as I hate how she hurts me. The hurt made me withdrew my love for her, and I was afraid to love again. I was afraid she'll leave me for somebody else, I was so terrified just because I love her. We left on a bittersweet tear-drenched good note. And I have never thought I would be able to fall in love with a burst of laughter until I'd met hers.
I was blessed with 2 incredibly amazing women by the Universe, only to find myself having more questions than answers. I began to dig a bit deeper inside. I write more. I write about myself and my stories and they became something that I am passionate about and enjoy doing. Awkward humor then became my thing. I coupled it with self-deprecating humor to cover up my hatred for myself. It is until this day that I'm still struggling with self-love. I wasn't a fan of meeting people. But I eventually did and I love meeting people after I took up traveling. I started to write more, even though it is less conventional to write digitally, I found myself preferring it as my thoughts come like the wind and sometimes I just couldn't stop typing. I realized that there are so many things that you could love instead of the romanticism concept. There is also yourself. The person who's carrying your body and soul. Know yourself, Love yourself.
Then I begin trying out different things and I fell in love with so many things (namely experiences), yet part of me retained the awkward kid inside. It still didn't change how I resonated with Otis when Sex Education came out.. Along the way, I may have discovered the ambivert in me where I worked in hostels, organized socializing events. There are times where I felt alone, and lonely, and awkward during situations where I find myself uncomfortable or too shy to connect. And it was nice to resonate with someone that has been portrayed by the media. Because their presence validates your existence and your identity. Possibly in a psychological theory sense. But I don't want to find it okay to be myself through media contents now. As much as we might align, we are not the same. I like different things, I behave differently, and I am me. I indeed have loved myself more now, but have I completely love and embraced myself?
It was at the showers when suddenly it felt like now I'm aware of my projection of myself upon those awkward characters I'd seen. And I hope by writing it out, I can let go of these projections, and inevitable continues to grow and own my unique narrative, without any media influences nor dictation.
I'd decided to be more vocal with what I like and what I don't. To speak up instead of being so easy going. To be strong instead of being a pushover. To be proud of what makes me different than to stay the same. To perhaps also embrace the awkwardness while I try to forge more precious friendships overcoming my inner shyness.
This is me, and awkward guy, and how much I have grown throughout. And this is part of my narrative that I'd never thought I'll write and share today. Perhaps my 13-year-old self could see this and love himself more. But it is never too late for self-love, self-care, for this should be the 1st and foremost quest that you should tend to. But with the internet, perhaps similar 13-year-olds could now stumble across this and find some hope and faith in his/her world.
So here is to embracing myself, as a whole, without all the projections, without relying on quests to make me feel whole, for I am not broken... after all.
After scrolling through this crazy word vomit,
I titled this,
"The Case Study of My Awkwardness."
And may this piece inspire you to discover your own narrative, pen your growth, trace the roots of your thoughts and eventually giving yourself the love that you deserve.