A Little Bit Of Me | You Are Perfect

I’ve been re-reading an excellent book, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. This book is fantastic, I read it a few years back and absolutely loved it. It sparked a big chapter in my life of books about Asian cultures (particularly the wonderful Amy Tan!) and I just can’t recommend this book enough.

But that’s not what I want to say. You see, in Memoirs of a Geisha the main character is forced into the Geisha life at the age of 9. She has to go through a lot of really difficult situations, but the biggest situation in the beginning of the book is her relationship with the Geisha in her house, Hatsumomo. Hatsumomo thinks she is God’s gift to everyone and treats everyone around her like shit because she can.

She is jealous of the main character, Sayuri (Chiyo), and seeks to make her life hell. And this is why I’m writing: I was thinking about this chapter in Sayuri’s life a lot, because bullying is unfortunately something I know a lot about.

Since I was a child I have been bullied relentlessly. Whether it be about my body, my skin, my features, my clothes, my house, whatever it may be, I was picked on for it. Growing up in a wealthy town but not having as much money as the people going to school with you, you really are made to feel inferior.

I had a hard time getting the school system to listen to my complaints, and unfortunately that gave my bullies more ammunition. By the time I entered high school I was already so beaten down that I couldn’t physically walk through the door of the school. I would go in to school and throw up in the bathroom because I was just so uneasy.

I was constantly avoiding classrooms, avoiding people, and sadly that meant that I was failing my classes. What was a girl to do? I couldn’t get inside the building without being physically sick, I couldn’t stay home because then I’d fail my classes, but I couldn’t face the people I’d have to see at school.

So I did what any sane person would do. I stopped going to school. (NOTE: I do not condone dropping out of school) For about a year I just stayed home and had anxiety attacks. It was an incredibly hard time for me.

But you know what happened in that time? I started to learn about myself. I began to look back on my life and the people in it and I could say, “hey, I’m fucking awesome. I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m pretty, I have an awesome family, I’m comfortable with who I am. So if people can’t appreciate that then they go kick rocks!”

This was a good period in my life. Because once I came to that conclusion I actually managed to get back into school, and this was an interesting school. It was basically an academic program that allowed kids who have difficult home-life situations earn a high school diploma while catering to their needs as individuals. This was a godsend. That school taught me so much about life.

You see the kids I went to school with were rough and tough – the kinds of kids you’d see on the street and be like, “shit, I don’t want to mess with them” but when you talk to them they’re incredibly sweet and intelligent people. They all taught me a lot about acceptance. I was finally accepted somewhere. Granted, I was a quiet person and one time I told someone to shut the fuck up and everyone was super taken aback, but they accepted me, still. They never shut me out or made me feel unwelcome. Even though I didn’t look like them, I was still one of them because it didn’t matter how I looked, it just mattered that I accepted them too.

The teachers were incredible, they constantly made me feel like I was doing something well. I’ve always been smart with history and English, but math and science you can just forget about. They were not my best subjects, but I was offered help and I took it.

By the time I graduated high school and started going to college I felt like the person I was supposed to be. I felt comfortable in my skin and felt confident that I could succeed in anything I did.

But you know what? I had to go through years of mental and verbal abuse, years of thinking I would never be worthy enough for someone to love, years of thinking it would never get better and it might be easier to just not be around anymore. And yes, that sucked!

But here’s the thing: it gets better. I was fortunate enough to have a great family to help me through the difficult times, but even without them, I would have been just fine. Because I know, and I knew, that the person I am is worth it. I am worthy of being loved, I am worthy of a good education, I am worthy of earning respect, and I am worthy of being around.

And guess what? All those people that made fun of you, they mean nothing. They were making fun of you and tormenting you because they had something wrong with them. They felt inferior about something and found someone to pick on to use it against them. Their mean spirits and their abuse has nothing to do with you or how you look or how you act. It has everything to do with them not feeling good enough. You are always good enough, and you are strong for holding on to who you are even in the toughest of times.

So whenever you think you aren’t good enough, that your body isn’t exactly what the magazines say it should be, or that you have crooked teeth, or your clothes aren’t in style, or whatever it may be that makes you feel inferior. Just remember, you are perfect! You are exactly what you were meant to be. You are intelligent, you are funny, you are kind, you are helpful, you are strong. And you will get through anything you’re going through, and will look back on the other side and realize how much stronger you are after going through those obstacles.

Never think it will not get better. It will get better. I know it’s hard, but you can do anything. And I mean really, if Sayuri can get through being bullied by Hatsumomo and then proving everyone wrong by becoming the best Geisha in Kyoto, then you can get through anything too.

I hope that helped at least one person, because if I knew what I know now back in school, I wouldn’t be sweating that small stuff. I’d be so blissfully happy knowing that I would have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me no matter what, a supportive and loving family who has helped me through everything in life, an amazing little dog who eats my lipstick but is the cutest thing in the entire world, and the most awesome, badass life I could ever imagine.

It gets better. And you are perfect. Don’t forget that.

Until next time,

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

 

The Genre Dilemma

I’m at a dilemma. After reading The Mime Order I’m kind of stuck in a rut due to my current love of the supernatural.

I ought to give you the whole backstory. You see, I have a predisposition of getting obsessed with a genre and sticking to it for a really long time until I get bored with it and move on. I do this a lot – the most memorable and long obsessions began about two years ago, when I started reading books about Asian culture.

It all started with the wonderful Amy Tan and her first novel The Joy Luck Club which chronicled a group of older female Chinese immigrants and their daughters in San Francisco. I had actually read an excerpt of the novel and was absolutely fascinated to the point where I just had to read the book. It was, and remains, one of my favorite books of all time. It’s heart warming, heart breaking, and everything in-between.

After that I decided to read her newest book The Valley of Amazement about a Chinese/American woman living and working in multiple courtesan houses. Now this book was incredible. I’ve mentioned before that a great book makes you feel as though you’re the character. That their pain is your pain, that their activities are your activities. That is exactly what happened here. I felt so connected with the main character that I actually took the book with me places so I could read while I was waiting for appointments or classes or whatever I had going on that day. I would literally break down in tears while in public reading this book. In fact, I was waiting for a class to start (I had two hours before it started) and decided I would buckle up and read the rest of the novel. I finished it in an hour and a half, and spent the next thirty minutes crying in the women’s restroom. It, too, was spectacular. Absolutely amazing, and gut wrenching at the same time.

Soon I had read nearly all of Tan’s books (I only have one of her books left! I’m saving it for the perfect time!) and was watching a documentary on olden days China on Netflix when I came across a documentary on Geisha girls in Japan. Oh my god was I fascinated. I was so fascinated that when I finished the documentary I immediately ordered Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, who was featured in the film. I was so entranced by his novel that I actually ended up writing an entire essay based on Geishas and their customs. It took a lot of documentaries and a lot of books, but I couldn’t have been happier doing that research.

So, for me at least, finding a subject that I enjoy and want to learn more about means reading a ton of novels based on the topic. My sister and I even went to Boston and I saw a woman reading a book on the subway based on a Japanese family’s life over the span of something crazy like 100 years, and I took note of the book and author so that when we got home I could buy the book. That happened about 7 months ago. I was on this Asian kick for nearly a year. I was that obsessed.

Now, I’ve moved on to supernatural/fantasy novels, usually young adult. I’ve always loved this genre – I mean my blog name is based off of a line from Harry Potter! But last January when I read The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, I began to slowly integrate fantasy novels into my repertoire, until it became all I was reading. I read books in the meantime (and I’ll admit some of them were about Asian culture – you never get rid of a love!) but I waited an entire year for the Bone Season sequel to come out. That was “my precious.” Then I finally got and read the sequel, The Mime Order, all I want now is for the next book. My next “precious.”

And this is where the dilemma begins. After reading such an wonderful novel, it’s so hard to find something similar that can live up to my expectations. So, I can either stick to my guns and continue reading supernatural/fantasy novels (I’m currently almost done with The Maze Runner by James Dashner) or I can reach out and find a new topic to hone in on. I was thinking of switching over to romance novels – I just bought One Day by David Nicholls, or perhaps a John Green novel… but then fantasy novels are just amazing, and so exciting to read! Dilemma, dilemma…

Let me know what you guys think. Maybe I’ll start taking some suggestions!

In the meantime, let’s get reading! Until next time.

Rachel