2.39 AM. I am still in the usual internet cafe, around me were different gamers. Instead of getting my ass up to go home, I just stick here, staring at the computer screen 2 times bigger than usual. This afternoon I walked around and it dawned on me – my eyesight is getting worse and soon enough, I will need a pair of glasses, again.
This morning, instead of working on 2 writing projects I commit to, I woke up at 10 AM and the first thing I did was rolling eyes at Messenger and texted a friend of mine in Saigon:
“Do you have 300k sis? I need it. I can pay you back on Monday”
She said yes and called me to her house, together we went to eat Pizza. I don’t like Pizza or Western food in general, never have, never will, but I was in a position that a “NO” will turn me to a bitch, or so I thought. After the lunch, we went back to her house and while she was working on her project, I continued to sleep, as if sleeping can solve my problems. Before I fell asleep, a friend texted me “Hey I will go to Japan in December, wanna join me?”. I told her “Sorry I am busy on December“. I lied again, then in a short dream I had, she and me were together in a warehouse filled with cucumbers. (not sure why not another kind of fruits, ha ha)
Yesterday, I went to Mekong with an American writer and I had only 50k in my pocket. After burning it with some cups of coffee and lunch, we stopped at a Hongkong Nooddle restaurant. A man with Tiger T-shirt was doing his trick and both of us were charmed. He ordered a bowl of noodle and asked
“Do you want one?”
I said NO, because I was not sure if he would pay for me or not, and if he did not, then I was putting myself in a shameful bet. Moreover, he is American, so I was even more unsure how he would behave.
I took the dry bread worth 5000 dong bought that morning already turning dry and cold, biting slowly.
“Are you sure you don’t want one?” He asked curiously.
I shook my head, feeling even more ridiculous. Images fleet in my head. I remember the time lottery ticket old women in Saigon approached me to whom I said NO very fast and easily as usual. I remember times in Ha Long bay when I was drinking Baileys with customers. I remember the times when I said goodbye to customers in trip, anxious if they would tip me. I remember the nights staying in soft beds of 5-star hotels. I remember nights in pubs, burning money with cocktails. I remember days in wet markets putting up and down a kilo of fruit, bargaining 5000 dong.
All those stark opposite images came at once and I laughed.
“What are you laughing about?”
He continued to eat and halfway he looked up and said
“Why is there so much secret in Vietnam? Vietnam is such a dishonest country”
“What makes you think that?”
“When I think about the women in Facebook, taking all selfies and such but hardly with their partner. I mean, why do they need to hide? Or the other day when I went out with a friend of mine. When she told us about her trip to Italy, another asked “Did you go with your boyfriend?”, she became very furious, as if having somebody else sponsored for the trip was a sin.”
“Uh huh, yeah”
“I think unless Vietnam learns to be more honest, it will never really develop.”
I said “I agree” and continued to bite my bread. If any, the woman in front of him is the biggest example of face saving and dishonesty. Part of me blamed him for being stingy, and part of me blamed myself for face saving.
Face is the reason why we say “whatever” when friends ask us “What do you want?“, then complain about what we get.
Face is the root of passive-aggressive behavior, because what we repressed burst out later.
Face is roots of words unsaid.
I am writing this after watching a video of Story Corps
The video moved me, because in a moment I can relate to the robber. I am not reaching the desperation point when I have to go out and rob somebody, but if I have to, then I want to meet a person like that.
In fact, if possible, I really want to be cool. If I have enough, I will be the most generous person on Earth, helping people and such. I will use a huge pumper and pump money all over the world if I could, ha ha. Sometimes I visualize that.
It is easy to be in a position of a giver. As a giver, we have more, and giving makes us feel more meaningful as a human being.
l like myself like this, standing on top of a mountain and smiling like I have everything together.
However, being in a position of a taker is not easy. There are many feelings to deal with: scarcity, vulnerability, self-esteem, lack of confidence, reliance. As a human being, feeling lack of self-esteem seriously is not comfortable.
It is okay to be in a position of an advice give who will give a shoulder for someone else, but we might hold ourselves off when it is our turn to need a shoulder.
It is easy to be vulnerable then talk about it after it is over, yet it is not easy to actually be in it, feel the vulnerability sneaking into your blood veins then open up to everyone. I am in position when actually, well, what do I have to lose? But think about people with a high self-image to protect. It is hard, freaking hard. Unless we learn to communicate our vulnerabilities, we can’t connect.
It is also very different from revealing our weaknesses in job interviews, in which we are told to lie in a skillful way, when we use our “acceptable vulnerability” as a way to get through. I think there will come a time when CVs and face-to-face interviews combined will not make any sense, because we have learnt to hide our real vulnerabilities too well.
I often think of future, thinking that one day I must be very okay. Friends tell me I have potential to be this and that. What if I don’t? Do I have to be in a waiting state for a moment that might not happen? 10 years from now I might be better, but I might be worse. I have to accept that.
In a moment I feel that the incredible vulnerability I am dealing with is acceptable. I have asked for help. I got help.
In a moment I feel like I can just say it and move on.
I can just be vulnerable and still confident, because the truth will set me free. And more than ever, I need time & space to think, self-compassion to move on, and definitely not random “quick-fixes”. Don’t just lecture me what to do because I already know what I should.
I don’t have to be anyone else other than myself at this moment, because I can’t be anyone else other than myself at this moment.