the emperor’s new clothes

several years ago when i was in university (the year really does not matter, neither does the occasion, actually, but we need some kind of context in this story), i was selected for some leadership thing, among hundreds of other applicants. supposed to be a big deal. naturally, the only person more excited about the trip than i was, was my mother. my dearest mother, with all the best intentions, wet all out to make me look as polished as possible for distinguished audience. baju baru. kasut baru. beg baru. the works. the pride she had in her eldest daughter overflowed from the heart to the wallet and onto me.

and i, being the teenage rebel with all the ideals in the world questioned all of it. i really was never the average college girl. i was an activist of a zillion causes (thanks to all the debate research that turned me into a human rights supporter, environmentalist, child welfare activist and campaigner of such causes as poverty, famine, prostitution, domestic violence, euthanasia, capital punishment, animal experimentation, nuclear proliferation, genetic manipulation bla bla bla).

you see, i was selected for that leadership thing for my achievements of sorts (i wasn’t too shabby academically either). and what they considered in selecting me was exactly that. and for what i was actually particularly proud of, not my appearance. not the fact that i was a t-shirts and jeans girl. not the fact that i rode the motorcycle like a monkey on a motorboat. not the fact that i ate maggie from a cup, sitting cross legged in my hostel room with my hanson-fangirl roommates in the middle of the night. i had a character, i knew. and i kinda liked who i generally was.

the new clothes mom bought me were very beautiful, but i became too conscious of myself in them. i worried about creases, and how i sat, and that i should not get up too fast in case i step on the kain, and that my shoes had to match, and how heartbroken mom would be if i spill anything on the new baju. the program pictures portrayed me as a smart young university student, worthy of the upperty professional world that awaited me beyond school. no one had any idea how i longed every evening to rip the silk and chiffon off and crawl back into crumpled cotton.

fast forward a few years and i am surrounded by people who judge others solely on appearance. this is the world mom was preparing me for. and for their prejudice, these are not stupid people either. power suit business people who make multi zillion dollar decisions by snapping their fingers. orang-orang yang belajar sampai masters and doctorates. people who build empires. EMPIRES!

and then there are the people who really don’t care if you’re a girl with a crew cut, or a guy with a ponytail, or if you wear faded jeans, or if you’re wearing any pants at all, as long as you have all of your brains in your head, and you have figured out a way to use it. the creatives.

and i am caught between the two worlds. right now.

2 thoughts on “the emperor’s new clothes

  1. Don’t worry. Just look at Richard Branson and his Virgin Empire. He still wears a wooly jumper to corporate meetings. Or Steve Jobs, jeans and black t-shirt.

    You are a natural born non-conformist, so let it be. Can’t imagine you in a power-suit anyways.

  2. hey just be yourself, you’re great just as it is :) people question me why i dont spend money doing my hair, why i dont bother to dress-to-kill with powersuits etc, or buy some branded clothings or accessorize like some mak datins…..i just answer simply that IT”S JUST NOT ME. Dont want to pretend to be something i’m not. cheers!

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