When I look back on my youth, I am always so puzzled as to why I had such a hard time asking my parents (especially my mother) for what I wanted or needed.
I mean, we’re talking about basic needs like menstrual pads for when I was menstruating. And yet, instead of asking my mother to buy me more pads, I would just surreptitiously sneak into her bathroom and raid her supply. When she ran out, she would just buy more for herself.
Or, for instance, I am uncertain to how I ate lunch from junior high onwards. I either had to make my own lunch, or I somehow paid for lunch at school. But I always remember being hungry – or not really having a lunch. And either scrounging for change around the house to pay for food items in nickels, quarters, and dimes – or just bumming snacks off of my incredibly patient friends. In high school, I finally decided to work in the cafeteria in order to get the free lunches. (I also considered it a way to build up my college applications.)
When I mentioned this to my mother and brother, they both looked at me as if I were crazy. Why didn’t I take money out of the cash drawer when I needed money? I had no idea what they were talking about.
But now that I think back, I do recall a cash drawer. And I was pretty sure I knew what it was for. So why didn’t I avail myself to it? Was I trying to “make it” on my own? I have no idea. But it’s weird, right?
I also remember that I used to covet all those teen magazines and would want to buy them but never asked my mom if I could because I was certain she would say, “No.” So instead, I would shoplift them. Or tear out certain pictures and shove them in my backpack.
One time, I was with a bunch of my friends and a clerk caught me shoving magazines in my backpack. He accused me and I was terrified because it was obviously true. I said I would pay for them. But one of my friends said she was certain I bought magazines from another friend who was selling them for the school fundraiser. And another friend’s mom accused the clerk of racism so they backed off. Of course, I called the friend who was selling magazines to say that I bought them from her if anyone asked. Of course, they asked.
This inability to ask for what I wanted or needed followed me through college and most of my adult life. I stayed in a major I hated because I was afraid of both acknowledging my changing and evolving desires as well as possibly being forced to transfer to UC Berkeley if I were no longer pre-med. (My father had made me write a huge pro/con list as to why I should attend UCLA instead of Cal. A big reason was that UCLA had a medical school and I wanted to be a doctor.)
As a result, I didn’t tell my parents until I was about to graduate that I didn’t want to be a doctor. Turns out, they didn’t want me to be a doctor, either. They thought it was too hard of a life.
When I reluctantly became a financial advisor, I didn’t want to tell my mother (who was my partner) that I absolutely hated it out of fear of disappointing her. After I finally told her (a decade and a child later), she wasn’t as crushed as I thought.
I wasted so much of my life tamping down on my desires and needs, constantly lying and dismissing myself. It’s no wonder that it’s taken me years to finally admit what I want and grab it.
This is my year of risking dangerously.
This is my year of taking my desires, talents, and abilities seriously.
This is my year of pushing through terror and fear of disappointment. Of putting my money where my mouth is.
This year, I’m acknowledging the hidden corners of my heart. I’m giving voice to the whispers that I shunt to the side, thinking I’m not good enough, brave enough, or diligent enough.
This year, I’m going to risk for what I want and what I want is to be “internet famous.”
I’m going to (and have already started) submitting my work to online publications. I want to create and publish a book out of several of my Chinese series. I want to create material for and launch a YouTube channel. Maybe start a podcast.
Who knows how many of these things will succeed?
I find the process terrifying and overwhelming. That is a huge reason I didn’t want to write about what I wanted for this year.
But you know what I find even more terrifying?
Ending 2016 at the same place as I did in 2015. Yearning and wanting but cowering in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success (and having to reproduce that success). Fear of finally taking myself seriously only to be confronted with the prospect of my possibly not being as great as I think myself to be.
There it is. That’s what I want. What I most desire.
I’m done hiding.
Here I come. Ready or not.