"The desire for self-expression afflicts people when they feel there is something of themselves which is not getting through to the outside world."--Fay Weldon
Driving home from my son’s school this morning, I saw a girl, I should say woman, walking to the university. She had purple hair in a sloppy ponytail. I admired the color of her hair and thought, wow, her parents must let her express herself in whatever way she wants. Then I thought, a girl with purple hair must not have parents because surely a parent would be disappointed if their daughter, granted adult daughter, had purple hair.
I realized that my thinking stems from my Chamorro upbringing, as well as my Korean one, in which children are not allowed to really express themselves. I have been told NO so many times by my parents (and I love them both dearly) that it has taken me several decades to truly express myself. Many times I think I want to be the type of woman who would do this, get that, act in a certain way. But, out of fear from my family, from my Chamorro upbringing, I don’t. I am keenly aware that I do this to my children and it’s an effort to change the tides. There are days when I sound like my parents and I have to stop myself.
It took me 18 years to get my first tattoo, to really commit. Why? Because I was afraid of what my family would think. My mom has accepted but doesn’t want me to get another. My dad, he’s probably shaking his head with a smile from above. Just yesterday, I showed my tattoo to a Chamorro woman I truly admire. I haven’t really showed anyone Chamorro who is over the age of 45 because I don’t want to hear it.
My true form of expression is my writing. I get to create characters and worlds that I want. But, there is a filter or a gate if you will that is still there. I come up with quips or funny observations and people tell me, “I never thought of it that way.” Or, “Where are you getting this stuff?” Because I say or think something warped, does that mean my mind is warped?
I remember my first completed manuscript and explaining to my mom as each chapter was constructed. She enjoyed the storyline and when it came to the more intimate portions of the story, I find myself stuttering, worried of her judgment. I did glaze over the details and even with that, she asked, “Well, why do they have to have sex?” I was frustrated, but explained, well, because that’s what people do when they care about each other, right? Sex sells, beauty is a currency, etc. etc.
This image of a pool of water always arises when I think of my life, my childrens’ lives. When that pool overflows and begins to trickle away and naturally move, parents, society, peers can serve as either a path to a true destination or barriers. I think of my life as this movement of water, the natural desire to move when I’m full to a new experience or destination. If I wanted to travel west, my father may have placed a river rock to block that passage. My mother may add hers. An aunt or grandparent or cousin throws their little stones in my path. That stream then stops and dries up. This process can continue as another stream moves and flows, so instead of blocking yourself or your children, let them extend and create pathways with the creative desires they have. So many people have their dreams and hopes dry up and I find that truly tragic.
I’m realizing the reasons why I stop myself from doing or saying things. My eyes are wide open in regards to being a better person. I’m okay with other people’s responses to me, positive or negative, because the only one that truly matters is my opinion of myself. With that said, I’m going to allow my pool of water to overflow and travel in whichever direction I chose.
Thank you for letting me share and don’t worry, my hair won’t be purple anytime soon…..red, perhaps, but not purple.