Say What I Want, Do As I Please

Hello there! My name is Melinda, nice to meet you.

Well that was certainly a different greeting than how most people would start off their blog post. But try this one.

How are you doing? My name is Phuong, nice to meet you.

You probably had to stop and wonder how that name is pronounced and by the time you have a clue on how to say this one syllable name, you’re not even paying attention to me. First and foremost, both of the names mentioned are my names, I was born as Phuong but from fifth grade onward,¬†many people know me as Melinda. It is very likely that you are confused how this would correlate in any shape or form to my title-which foreshadows that I will talk about language (words) and actions. What we say and HOW we translate it across are all based on our responses to the judgments that we receive, and of course, the names given to us from our parents hold a very dear and personal value to us-it is the FIRST thing that people will scoff at and judge. A short story called “The F Word” by Firoozeh Dumas is one that I can relate to the most. She talked about the different ways people would react to her when she used her unique Iranian name, “Firoozeh”, which means Turqoise in Farsi, versus her American name, Julie.

As Phuong, many peers didn’t seem to pay attention to me as much, I was simply another “FOB”-meaning fresh off the boat- and wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them. The more embarrassed I became about my own identity, the more reserved and resentful I became. I started to dress with the trend¬†and talked with slangs…all these efforts to be more “Americanized”. In reality, my actions really couldn’t hide my culture and how I am, the real me. But that’s not to say I don’t like being Melinda because I really do. The name is elegant and on the plus side, no one really knows a Melinda so I always feel special that I’m not just another Asian “Michelle” or “Jennifer”.

And that was my answer to my first question: What purpose does expressing yourself with words serve?

The first form of self-expression is through your name because not only is it unique to you and only you (ok, maybe with the rest of the 100,000 other people), but a stranger can have a sense of your culture and be able to know you that way. You live your WHOLE life under that one name and it is your job to feel comfortable and grow into that name. Once you are sure of who you are, all your actions and words will follow through beautifully. But above that, we express because we want companionship in others, we want to share a part of ourselves, to connect, to feel, to love.

In Catcher in the Rye, language is Holden Caulfield’s weapon. It is all he really knows. But once you master something, you are rather weak in another area, and Holden’s weakness is his inability to express himself through actions. Why does he struggles so much? All his problems started because he is already an insecure individual who has a hard time coping with a brother’s death and the idea of growing up. When you embrace reality, the world is not that complicated. Your life up until this point has been cultivated through your decisions, which was based off of your emotions, and under all that emotions is insecurity. Throughout the book, Holden brings up Jane, a girl he has been crushing on forever, to a lot of his acquaintances but he never really goes out of his way (and be a man for that matter) and show Jane that he cares through real actions even though Holden is clearly frustrated, both mentally and sexually. To Stradlater, Holden holds back a lot about his feelings because he doesn’t want to seem desperate. Why is it so hard for people to say what they mean? Simple. Steven Pinker, author of “Words Don’t Mean What They Mean”, explained that when you converse with someone, number one, you are trying to convey a message and ALSO “continue to negotioate that relationship”. Holden simply wanted to seem like the “bad boy” who wouldn’t cry over a girl to Stradlater.

Through my experiences and from reading this book, I learned that you should just live life. Tell the world what you want to say, regardless if others disagree, and do what scares you the most. Until then, you are not truly living.

fly free

Soar above your struggles. (not my pic)

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To be or not to be…

A virgin. Now that I am finishing up 11th grade and everyone is slowing “growing up”, I am starting to feel like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. I mean, I’m totally okay with the fact that I’ve never had a boyfriend or anything. I even had my first kiss last March, although the kiss wasn’t anything super special because I only knew the guy for a week. On the inside, I was really glad the “first kiss” was over. Now people would think I’m more mature right? People just assume that if you’ve done something physically intimate with someone, that they are automatically older than you mentally and better than you. I know a lot of people who aren’t virgins anymore. And it’s their business and their choices and their bodies, so I try not to focus on the fact that they’re still under 18. Actually, that’s all I really focus on.

I know there’s no time limit on when you can find love. But what most teenagers feel is just passionate lust. It isn’t love…and that’s probably why I feel really uncomfortable when people would just give it up to ANYBODY at the moment. In Catcher in the Rye, Holden explained that he can’t “get sexy” with somebody he doesn’t know that well, therefore, he refuses to lose his virginity to that one prostitute. The person he really cares about is Jane, and if he had a choice, he would gladly be passionate and intimate with her. I used to hear, and still do, that people eventually lost their virginity ,or feel the need to lose it, is just because of wanting to keep up with the status quo, the bandwagon. Every time I hear that, I frown in disbelief, “If you decide to do something because your peers are doing it, you are stupid.” But now…I sometimes feel like time is running out for me to lose the V card, which is entirely irrational because I’m only 17. Being a teen is hard because you’re torn between not feeling good enough about yourself in terms of grades, a social life, and not being able to get into a relationship. All these emotions-jealousy, angry, anxious, and depressed are dumped on your head and somehow you have to clean it all up and get past it.

I realized virginity is a very personal thing and should be held on until you are with the right person (doesn’t have to be until marriage) and you feel at ease, doesn’t matter about how OTHERS feel when you are ready. But unexpected consequences will be there if you are not careful.

Have control over your own life.  (Not my pic)

Have control over your own life.
(Not my pic)