Starting this blog has been a long and treacherous journey! Lots of wavering between “let’s do it now” and “no, maybe later”, but I have finally arrived at the “now”. I have a slight obsession with food, traveling, and learning in general. Since I can’t separate contemplation with the everyday, why not reflect and write about it? In the very act of reflection and writing, I often discover another piece of myself. So let’s begin…
First posts are always a bit strange. Questions like, “What should I say? Where and how do I begin?” and the various likes, tend to make their rounds and sneak in between the other thoughts that float about. I would like to believe that I am a reflective observer. I love to absorb the world around me, but often feel perplexed by what I believe and feel are peculiar actions and reactions. I have often been told that I care too much about the troubles of the world in which I have little to no control over. But it is indeed, a slight obsession often fueled by my curiosity and anxiety.
I suppose introductions are in order before my mind decides to take over and spill its inevitable ramblings. I am a fairly ordinary human being. I identify as Taiwanese-Chinese. I was born in Taiwan, grew up in California (but NOT American – a story for another day). I have been residing in Egypt for approximately 8.5 years now. I have officially entered my thirties and looking forward to getting older every day. I love to study and wish I was still an official student at university. I obtained my MA in Gender and Women’s Studies at the American University in Cairo, Egypt and my BA’s in English, Philosophy, and Sociology from California Lutheran University. I currently work as a full-time high school English and IB Theory of Knowledge teacher. I am also a freelance editor, writer, career counselor, and researcher; and occasionally contracted as a children’s rights consultant. I have an affinity for the pursuit and exploration of knowledge in its various forms. I want and feel the need to change the world for the better – although it is quite presumptuous. In my mind, active engagement of the everyday through critical analysis, reflection and (re)evaluation, whilst maintaining compassion through an open-mind and heart is the key. Through my writing and various reflections of the surrounding environment and stimuli, I hope to break down barriers – particularly my own, in order to extend beyond the imaginary constructed levels of comfort.
There are lots on my mind these days. Aside from my usual engagement with the various stimuli around me, I am often perplexed by the world in general. The world seems to have gotten itself into some kind of crazy frenzy. Yet, I cannot help but wonder if the world has always been as such. Maybe it seems crazier because of technology and the inevitable time-space compression. Access to the internet has brought news, information and everything in the in-between right to our fingertips and faces. But like everything in life, there are positive and negative consequences. One of the positive aspects, is our ability to access a variety of information and events within seconds. This instantaneous ability to “witness” has compressed the world into a considerably small private and public space. But subsequent effects of our ability to “witness” include questions of validity, informality, impersonality, representation, and ultimately the self. Although each of these points are connected and affected by the other, and should be given a honest moment of reflection and engagement, I suppose it would only be fitting to start with the last, the self, as it is the one that perceives and digests the world.
Have you ever wondered who or what you would resemble years down the line? This was and still remains a thought that streams in and out of my mind. I have always had the perception that most people live life in a disengaged manner. People wake up, brush their teeth, use the bathroom, get ready for work, school or whatever else they have in stored. But it is a monotonous process, one that is devoid of engagement or reflection. We see our reflections but we never truly understand the person who stares back at us. I have been staring at my reflection for 30 years now – or maybe 25 years or less given I have little to no recollection of the first five or so years of my life. I have never been satisfied with my reflection. It is not the physical attributes that are bothersome, rather it is the expectations that dwell within. If I achieve something, it is never enough because I end up contemplating a plethora of alternatives and their potential consequences. Similarly, criticism often throws me into a thinking fit where I assess and reassess to determine the next form of action. I am rebellious and stubborn by nature, and often led by my inability to step away from idealism; yet, I am somehow grounded by my cynicism, pessimism, and (ir)rationality.
Like most, I am impacted and comprised of my experiences. My exterior like a turtle’s shell, hard and seemingly impenetrable, protects my flesh and the scars that embellish it from the various battles that it has endured. I often seem calm and grounded; yet, the interior of my being is often riddled with endless thoughts of logic and problem-solving. My admiration for the idealistic values and perspectives are often projected onto social and political causes within the academic environment. The passion that harbors within – especially for children, has all been an inner cry and attempt to escape the very cage that I have created for myself. The shell that protects is also the entity that inhibits me from moving forward. There is a void – specifically, emotional; it is vast and it consumes. It stems from my childhood and has inevitably dribbled its way into my adulthood. How does one work on the void when there is the will but an absence of courage? How does one begin to tackle the deepest parts of who they are, if those are the parts that have been locked away? Where and how does one begin?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. I feel like the blind leading the blind. I recognize my reflection insofar as what I have allowed myself to see, but now I must somehow navigate a terrain that is both uncharted, yet familiar. The pieces are there, they have always been there; it is how they come together that is ever-changing and unclear. What if I don’t like what I find? What if I am not satisfied? What if everything I see is simply a projection of what I wish myself to be? Where would I go from there? I suppose it is a necessary risk.
I made myself a promise this year – and no, it’s not some clichéd New Years resolution. Rather, it’s simply a long overdue promise. In order to move forward, I must be willing to confront the most vulnerable aspects of myself. It is a journey that is happening at a rate too rapid for my comfort, and one that I am struggling to maintain and balance. But it’s not all struggles and torment. In the midst of it all, I have discovered pieces of myself in the mundane. There is also laughter and silliness, adventures and reviews. In many ways, it is a reconnection to what was once lost – specifically the emotional part of me. Part of the reconnection is rooted in writing. I’m taking it back to basics; back to the moments in my childhood when my teachers inspired and encouraged me to write in order to comprehend.
So here I go. Welcome to my chaotic journey, hope you enjoy my mind’s musings…
Awaiting your next mind muse
LikeLiked by 1 person
Excited to see you wading into this sea of text, adding your voice to the cultural, literary history of humankind!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Des! You are always on my mind especially when I write. You inspired me so much in school; it was one of my main reasons for pursuing English as a degree.
LikeLiked by 1 person
As someone who has known you when you were in your twenties, I am awed at the person you’ve grown into! Your writing reflects the journey. As someone in the sixties, I understand that constant struggle of getting out of bed every day and facing who I am. A person can get very complacent, true. But it’s also a form of self-protection. My mind can only handle so much of the garbage that is so easily accessible, so much of the terror of the world. I write to escape those realities. I try to change my reality so that I can go on with life. Does that make me a bad person? No. It makes me ME.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Linda! Your words and support always give me courage to keep moving forward. The journey can be tough, but the goal is priceless.
Thanks Shirley for starting such an incredible blog. Keep posting and I can’t wait to read more of your blogs. I can find myself in many thoughts you share with us
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Sadek; your words of encouragement mean a lot to me! I’m looking forward to writing more.