Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to become some sort of professional creative person. Even as my parents, teachers and other figures of authority pushed me towards other pursuits, particularly ones in maths and science, trying to capitalise on the fact I wasn’t terrible at adding fractions, there was always a little bit of me inside that said, But I want to be in the spotlight! I want to make fun stuff and have people like me for that. I want my name in lights, and maths isn’t going to get me that. I suppose it’s that desire for attention that makes me want to blog, and makes me enjoy being up on stage (despite the fact I have awful stage fright, ironically), and gets me into drama and arguments with my peers. Very, very often.
As I got older, I realised there were many things I couldn’t get good at. I was awful at dance. I couldn’t draw. My singing and acting skills weren’t particularly impressive. For every stupidly hard piano piece I could play, there was a Chinese eight year old that could play five more, by memory. It slowly occurred to me that if I wanted to be good at a creative pursuit, I had to have put in so much effort in the past. Even when I was twelve, or thirteen, and still thought I had a chance of being super good at something performing artsy, deep down I knew that I simply hadn’t put in enough practice in the past (or hadn’t been pressured enough by my parents to practice) to be recognised as any good. Now don’t get me wrong, I love playing the piano and performing on stage and singing etc., but I’ve given up on being the next Lang Lang or Lea Salonga. As much as society tells me that I can become anything if I have passion and work hard enough!, I’ve come to accept that that’s not true at all. People have certain advantages in life purely based on who their parents were, and how their parents decided to raise them. And my parents were no Amy Chuas.
But, recently, I realised that there has been something creative I’ve put in a stupidly large amount of time into, and I hadn’t even realised it. In my mind, there were very clearly defined boundaries between “things I find fun” and “things that will be beneficial to me in later life”. Cycling around the neighbourhood and playing Neopets fell into the first category. Maths and piano fell into the second. However, as always in life, things aren’t always so clear cut. I guess younger me decided whatever I was forced to do by my parents or teachers didn’t count as fun, and whatever I decided to do out of my own initiative didn’t count as educational (gotta love the effects of strict Asian parenting). Looking back, there’s one activity that falls into both these categories.
When I was in Reception, at around five years old, I was pulled away from messing around in the sandpit with my friends, sat down, and made to write a story about the Easter Bunny. No, I don’t know why either. I definitely complained a lot, and I remember sitting there indignantly with tears streaming down my face, refusing to write anything. Somehow I was cajoled into writing something, as the next thing I remember is still crying, but with a completely full sheet of paper in front of me. I can’t remember much from before this period in my life, but it’s weird to think that that’s the first memory I have of creative writing. Something which I’ve come to adore and claim as my own talent was once something I dreaded. Even when I came to love it of my own accord, through online blogging (thanks, WordPress), I still dreaded doing it in school, where I’d be judged and criticised. There’s something about having something attributed to me, with my real name written on it, that makes me uncomfortable. I guess it makes criticism seem more personal.
I’ve been thinking about how to face my fear of this for a while. It just seems like such a waste to me to just keep whining about my problems on a blog. I want to get out there and make myself heard, you know? I want to do big things with my writing, the writing I’ve put so much time and effort into, and I want to make my younger self proud. I’ve always wanted to write the next big novel, to undergo some huge project fuelled by coffee and late nights working and to have it out there with my name on it. But for that you need guts.
And I don’t know if I have enough.