The feeling lingered within me throughout the whole day. The feeling of shock and disbelief to see my work printed in MPH's A Collection Of Stories On Teenage Life. Well, it would have my name on it it it was written by me. The strange thing is that I find such close proximity of understanding and relation towards the story that it seemes as thoough it could've might as well be written by me. It's somewhat scary to find my own words being extricated by a certain stranger by the name of Kevin Soo. I finished his last sentence with my mouth wide agape. I went totally speechless and was practically grasping for air when I read, "My passions include music, writing and photography..." Oh my, what a coincidence.
Does this mean nothing else but merely a coincidence? Or do the same people with similar passions think alike? I'm utterly bemused. The feeling I felt when I read his story... it was... ineffable. It struck me so hard that I almost fell from my chair which I was sitting two-legged-ly.
Kevin talks about the feeling of being lonely and the emptiness that shrouds him when he's around his friends. "I'm more alone when I'm with people than I am when I'm by myself," he writes. Weird, I understand. I feel exactly the same way. My spirit, my soul, drifts apart from my body as soon as I am enclosed in a circle of peers. My presence among them doesn't usually last long and it's also never felt. I was never in the spotlight. Not that I want too, but my presence is never realised. The urge of re-connecting my body and soul is ever so prominent when I'm no longer in their discussions. I don't feel belong when I'm with them. Their discussions/talks becomes as insignificant as the sound of bustling buses outside the school walls.
I don't remembering me feeling this way from young. I could still remember the great times and the incoherent laughters shared with, whom I thought then, were my friends. Those remains as memories, I suppose. For I will never be able to turn back time... and I don't want to. Gradually, I developed a shield that secluded me from the others, since I entered junior high. Don't misunderstand me, I wasn't an absolute loner, sitting by the corner of the classroom, burying myself into tonnes of books and alienating myself from the other classmates who were then talking about girls and computer games. I had friends, as a matter of fact. Numbered as it may seem, I still had them. They weren't exactly what you'd call loyal friends. Normal buddies whom there my invisible shield protects me from.
Like Kevin, I struggled to feel belong too. I struggled and longed for the acceptance into a group of peers. The struggle never ends. People can be so difficult to please and a group can almost be impossible to for me to fit in. "It is possible my standard for friendships is too high..." writes Kevin. I can still remember me, standing up to stretch, after an hour of self indulgence on the book, The Sky Is Falling, looking around the classroom, dreamily, to see a group of guys talking about girls and flexing their muscles as they talk or comparing the amount of body hair, another group hissing secretly to one another about computer cheats and another group, questioning each other with their textbooks held closely to their eyes. I took another yawn, sank back into my chair, let out a little sigh and went back to my book. The people around me seemed to be an illusion of some sort as I couldn't be more bothered about them.
"...I realise I no longer relate to any of my peers. They seem immature, never really saying anything worth listening to."
Sometimes, I sit by myself, wondering. What is it that sets me apart from all these people? Kevin's statement could be my answer, "It's possible I'm an elitist snob, priding myself in thinking I am better than others." Well, at least in different fields, I am. I fairly believe in that. I find myself muttering to myself, convincing myself that I might not be as good at the stuff they're talking about but I have my own qualities that I'd like to keep a secret from this world. Hence, the soul drifting apart from the body. I thought to myself, girls ; commitment, computer games ; too childish, muscles ; I still have that extra tyre if you ever need one, studies ; tiring. What's the point of even trying to fit in? I gave up my struggle of wanting to fit in, even if it's outside the classroom. I gave up entirely. Ended my misery, it did. I felt tired to want to try to be someone else I wasn't.
"I used to be puzzled why a trip to the movies would be cancelled when one of my friends couldn't make it but they would go ahead if I was the one who happened to be busy. That upset me until..." writes Kevin.
Same here. It used to hurt me alot when I find out my friends were watching Star Wars at the Golden Screen Cinemas while I'm stuck with mom, selling raffles for charity at church. Even when birthday parties were thrown or the hottest concert in town was held and I wasn't invited to be in ANY of them, I used to be so frustrated that I was on the verge of tears whenever I find out. Anger only held my tears back then. I realised a few years later that friends don't mean the whole world to me. I remembered dad said once to Grace, "Your friends will not be there forever... who will? Your family!" when she got busted for doing something really stupid, I can't remember what. Dad's words was etched into my brain from that awful day onwards, when I sat there in front of the TV while Grace got yelled at by an infuriated dad.
"With the sorry state of the world we live in today, I believe it's better to be an outcast and not fit in. Does't the fact that I can't stand the sight of this place mean I'm different from everyone else? I'd like to think so; it's the only comfort I get from being the way I am"
I grew up, in the next few years, with the impression that my religion and family comes first. I don't get hurt to hear the fact that I was at church attending mass while my friends were attending The Malaysian Idols Finale concert. It became easy for me to turn down offers of friends to go to the movies or hang out whenever it clashes with family plans. I don't need pestering by mom to disappoint my friends or vice versa cause I believe I can make the right decisions myself. Besides, why spend the time in the movies feeling the pressure to fit in with the group rather than to be comfortable and at ease with my family? And why spend the time feeling the pinch in my own wallet even if it means only a DoubleCheeseburger when I can enjoy sashimi with mom at Nippon Yataimura, without even causing a dent in my own wallet? After all, Star Wars isn't really my thing.
"Sometimes I wonder if I have a choice. It is possible I could force myself to enjoy the company of the people around me. Would it matter that I'd be living a lie? Maybe after a while, it would become real for me. Would it be worth it?"
I gave up trying to answer Kevin's questions, confiding to my family and religion. It made me who I am today. My friends don't come first at any occasion. My family and religion stays on top of the list. The struggle made me see what was important to me. I won't change a thing if I was to give the chance to go back time. Though, I'd try to be more careful and try to avoid knocking mom's vase down and smashing it into pieces like what happened last week! Other than my mistakes and regrets, I wouldn't change a thing about the way I feel about friends whom, like Kevin says, "...remain acquaintances and memories of better days." The only thing that sets Kevin apart from me is that I'm sort of happy to confide in my family and religion which still kept me as the jovial and warm person who I was a few years back! No regrets!
I wonder if I'd ever be able to have a chance to meet Kevin Soo, one day. I wonder if anyone else in this world feels the same. I might be a failure to you that I look like I'm just copying someone else's story and further collaborating it with my own life, but that's not the case. It's just amazing to find someone who thinks the same way as I do and share the same passions as I do and I'm just sharing it with you. In real life, I do have someone who has been my friend since the first day we met and thinks almost alike but just don't quite share the same passions. This person is my only friend whom I used to write as a subject for my English essay entitled "Your Best Friend". Oh the chessy-ness, I know. Still,I think it only serves this person justice to acknowledge that this person remains different from the others.