The spell

Ever since I was little, I was told that I was short and dark. Short is fine, but what you don’t want to be in China is a dark girl.

Here’s the thing, Chinese women have to be Size 00 skinny, as pale as ghosts in Japanese films, having eyes as big as Anne Hathaway’s, wearing a chin as chiseled as a Swiss knife, and at least five foot five to be a pretty candidate… Worse yet, nobody was my ally. My mum shrugged it off. My dad simply asked me to study hard. So I accepted those words to be my truth.

As young as ten years old, I cast myself aside as the Fugly Girl. So I had no other choice but to be smart. I don’t even recall anybody say I was pretty. I got uncomfortable when people called me that. I thought they were teasing me. I had glasses since third grade. I wore baggy clothes to hide my body in puberty. I slept on my stomach and prayed for a flat chest. I even got a crew cut just to keep out the boy problem – as if there was any. I denied my femininity flat out when it was to sprout off the ground. I stampeded on it hoping it would never see the sun. You see, people give us the bullets, but we pull the trigger.

Years later, I fell in love.
He said, you was beautiful.
I flinched, no, no, no. I was not. You like me because I’m smart.
Yeah, but you’re beautiful.
I looked at him in disbelief.
He kept on going, listen to me, you’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. Don’t let anybody else talk you into anything different. 

In the bathroom, I wiped tears away from my eyes. In the mirror, I saw her standing right in front of me. For the first time in a long time, I noticed her symmetrical face, her exquisite eyes, her refined nose… And her gentle soul. 

That day, I unlearned my habit to look away before a mirror.
That day, I learned it’s okay to appreciate her beauty without turning into a narcissist.
But most importantly, that day, I fell in love. With her.
I promised her that I would love her regardless of her relationship status, her bank statement, her level of success… because “I’d love you til the end of the Universe.” 

During our domestication, our parents and siblings gave their opinions about us without even thinking. We believed these opinions and we lived in fear over these opinions, like not being good at swimming, or sports, or writing. Someone gives an opinion and says, “Look, this girl is ugly!” The girl listens, believes she is ugly, and grows up with the idea that she is ugly. It doesn’t matter how beautiful she is; as long as she has that agreement, she will believe that she is ugly. That is the spell she is under. 

Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Oftentimes when we are in the thick of it, we can’t see past our own hands in the fog of the falsehood. We might need someone else to break the spell for us. Because of him, I got lucky.

I hope you get lucky too someday if not already. But if you don’t yet, it’s okay. Just ask yourself: What is my spell? And follow the yellow brick road.

Yours truly,
YZ

Imperfect

Ever since I was a kid, I loved reading biographies, from entreprenuers like Steve Jobs to great poets like Su Shi from ancient China’s Song Dynasty. I read David McCullough like the Bible, from his recount on the creator and builder of the Brooklyn Bridge to the 1000-page books on John Adams and Harry Truman…

I studied the successs patterns. I tried to find out exactly what made those people great. And I wanted to “fake it till I was great, too.”

Then, I found the cultural differences between the Chinese and the English versions on the same subject, say Newton or Einstein.  In the Chinese version,  they were almost always so damn perfect.  It was in the English version that I realized that, “Oh, they did have a sense of humor. Oh, they were kids once too.” You might be able to imagine how shocked I was when I read Walter Isaacson‘s Steve Job biography…

To err is human. And yet, it was hard to get that message reading the biographies in Chinese… So, as a teenager, a young adult, I tried hard to get rid of my little foibles, my big shortcomings. It worked for a while, then there was always counterattack.

As I took up writing, it dawned on me that what made characters relatable is exactly their freckles, their imperfections.

When I chose Eddie the Eagle (2015) for my movie buff dad to watch tonight, I ended up watching it with him.

Eddie didn’t look like a pro; he didn’t have the Olympian presence as per the snobbish British Olympic Committee.  But Eddie tried, he failed and fell. He came as last but people fell in love with him and what he stood for – He is our guy. He is the guy who doesn’t care to be perfect. He can’t. He was 22 when he was 16 years too old to begin ski jumping according to the pros.  He can’t change people’s minds, but he sure defied gravity and elevated the founding principle of the Olympic Games:

“The most important thing is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

– Baron Pierre de Coubertin

Most of us aren’t going to be Mozart, maybe not even Salieri. But I’d say this, something plastic surgeons never say, if you are able to feel okay your imperfection in public, I think you’re closer to be the person you dream to be.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. Speaking of imperfection, we might be the last few generations who are imperfect. Now those gene-edited babies are among us…

The Likes

I changed my Facebook profile photo, finally.

I turned off the notification and hid it from the Timeline.

I thought I was in the clear until a friend texted, “Nice hat.”

Damn, the picture.

I was still getting those Likes.

 

I told the friend how I felt being exposed.

His reply opened me up.

It’s about being shameless and knowing what you’re willing to die on.

So what are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want?

For example: I am willing to show people sloppy versions of my scripts because I want to be known as somebody who writes a lot. Somebody else might be more of a perfectionist and do twice as many revisions, but have half as many scripts and/or notes. But that’s what I sacrifice.

Since I’ve chosen to be on social media, I’ve chosen to give away some privacy for exposure and visibility.

If you don’t like to be Liked, don’t post.

If you don’t want to be read, don’t write.

If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t do a thing.

 

You do it, I do it, because we know we have a voice. We deserve to be heard.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. Listen to the latest RBYZ podcast if you haven’t already. The guest is truly one of a kind! Episode show notes here.
PPS. Clocked in 103 words. Tallying 60,406 words. 14.8 days remaining.

 

iChameleon

I’m bossy today but maybe sassy tomorrow.

I’m polite but I have a potty mouth.

I switch between American and British accents given whom I’m speaking to.

I carry a slight Beijinger (aka. New Yawker) accent that it’s hard for people to believe that I’m actually Shanghaiese (aka. LA). [Translation: “Are you from the North?” is suppposedly the ultimate sought-after compliment to a Shanghaiese amongst her friends from the North.]

I crave attention but I tried erasing myself fromt the Internet.

  • I deleted my photos from Weibo (Chinese Twitter) after being ghosted by a creep.
  • I erased my digital fingerprints so it’s harder to Google me.
  • I deactivated my LinkedIn when I had 500+ rock-solid CXO connections. I convinced myself that for my future line of work in the entertainment industry, IMDB would be the place to be. I don’t need LinkedIn. It’s for phonies and corporate climbers.
  • My public profile doesn’t matter. I should focus on my work, my screenplays.

Even when I started my podcast, or this blog, I call myself YZ to feel safe, to dodge bullets if people start trashing me.

 

Here is the thing: I simply don’t know how Madonna does it, or the likes of Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Adele, Lady Gaga… or the Kadasians.

Are they just Born This Way and can Express Yourself? Or according to Tom Wolfe, they just have The Right Stuff?

Where their successes are public, more so are their humiliations.

I often wonder what they do when their parents, their significant others, their children, their close friends and relatives learn about the excruciating details of their scandals with the world.

How can they live with the live-streaming of people smacking down their skeletons?
How would they ever face the public when the world knows their private parts better than their gynecologists?

So they spend the million dollars they’ve earned by being exposed and try to seek equilibrium via locking themselves within the multi-million-dollar bastilles in the not-so-hidden Hidden Hills.

 

But the question I’m wrestling with is this:
Can the rest of us be shame·less, fear·less if the Diva ain’t in our DNA?

 

After hurdling over some quasi-major pschological barrier, I posted my podcast on my personal FB page. I felt like I was pole-dancing, stark naked.

Now everyone knows my age, my humiliations, my pains, my fuck-ups.
Every potential guest I approach now would know my secrets.
They can laugh behind my back should they choose to.
If they care enough to look me up, that is.
Why the fuck would I care about whether if people care, anyway?

I, not somebody else, exposed me. I exchanged my privacy for exposure. No pain, no gain. But this, isn’t my cure.

 

I would practise Hip-Hop moves whenever I’m in front of a mirror.

People shouted at me, “Dude, are you totally mental? Stop it. Or we’ll send you to the madhouse.”

I just didn’t give a rat’s ass.  How could I improve my steps and care about what others think at the same time?

People get used to you overtime. If they don’t, they don’t.

I move on. I find somewhere else to dance.

Somewhere with an audience, who loves and appreciates me.

My guest, a Chinese filmmaker with shoulder-length long hair and bright yellow eyeglass frame, beamed as he shared his Journey to the West.  I shook his hand as we finished the recording.

I’m a chameleon. I’m done impersonating.

 

Yours truly,
YZ