By Sara Shafek, Malaysia.
I was never seen as normal. Perhaps for every one time someone sees me in the ordinary, five people have already told me how they begged to differ. My eccentric behaviour and different preferences in life usually made me stood out from most other girls. In a world where everyone tried vehemently to fit in, I stuck out as a sore thumb drawing attention left, right and centre. Some people were in awe, some tried to take me down for it, some also just didn’t really bother.
I am currently doing my A-levels with great hopes of pursuing an engineering degree in Germany. What I often hear from a number of unwelcomed critics is “But you’re a girl, engineering isn’t for you. Furthermore, are you sure of going to Germany alone?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. It might be mind-boggling and ground-breaking but I am very much going to do engineering anyway and you bet I am going to Germany alone. For the first concern people usually pose, that engineering isn’t a woman’s job, this is due to a lack of opportunities and exposure for girls who with enough polishing could turn out to be very capable engineers.
This lack of opportunity and exposure has also resulted in stereotypes and narratives being nailed down into people’s minds that engineering isn’t something for the female gender. To which I would say, screw your apparent lack of awareness and your unfortunate mind that buys into stereotypes but I have dreams that are bigger than the small fantasy you have made this world to be.
For the second concern of me being alone, all I can say is that every bird will leave the nest at one point. How far and how high the bird flies away from their nest is up to themselves. Personally, I love the challenges life throws at me. Plenty of new adventures await me! I have yet to turn enough rocks, braved through enough torrents, bathed in the radiant sun, to say that I’m done and ready to stay at home. Thinking of all the endless possibilities that exists out there makes me jump out of my skin but I wouldn’t have it any differently.
I am a huge fan of watching sports. Football, tennis, Formula 1, golf, and honestly anything that’s on TV. Any house that doesn’t have sports channels is missing out on the prospect of history being created at any single point in time. To this there’s the usual “Girls aren’t supposed to watch sports, you know? Wait, what do you mean you know Ronaldo scored from a freekick?”
Well, the last time I checked, football matches were made public so as far as I know, I should be able to watch my football in peace. But the greater reason why I love watching sports is the exhilarating feeling you get when the team you love becomes the best team in Europe, or when the tennis player you’ve been supporting holds all four grand slams, or when the driver you follow wins the world championship. It feels surreal and magical. As a fan, we were never actively a part of teams or player’s pathway to success but the commitment to watch every game, match or race and to never stop hoping for the best is what makes victory so sweet. Like any other male fan, I too enjoy those feelings and I don’t think these feelings should ever be limited to what arbitrary gender we are born with.
Sports is a common ground of unity and joy for everyone. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?
Growing up, my fashion sense has always been a bit off. Well maybe that’s me being kind to myself whereas the reality is it has been way more off than I would’ve liked. I have liked fashion since I was young actually, to the surprise of many. I enjoyed fashion magazines, fashion shows, waiting for the new Spring collection. It wasn’t until recently that I have started to actually dress better, and even feel better. There were a lot of ‘friends’ that would laugh at my sense of fashion or lack thereof. But that’s not to say their sense of fashion was anything mind blowing either.
But what I have come to realise is that, the clothes you wear aren’t exactly a solid reflection of who you are but rather maybe just the mood that you’re in. I dressed lazily because I was lazy and unbothered. I would put in a bit more effort at someone’s wedding because I didn’t want to ruin their joyous and beautiful atmosphere. My point being is, that the standard of beauty is for you to quantify. If you prefer comfort, then go for it. The people around you will always have something to say, but what matters most is what you have to say to yourself.
In writing, I can’t really show to you how eccentric I am. I also can’t really put into words how alienated I was in the past. The lack of visibility that exists due to the barrier of this laptop screen that exists in front of us is what limits my ability to really express what it means to be different.
But that doesn’t matter. What matters is you. Be the person you want to be. And it’s ay-ok to be different. If you ever feel like the world is against you being different, then I’ll be there. Everyone at this blog will be there. If you have any thoughts to share, drop a comment below or contact us. Maybe we can have some tea with two sugars.
This page features a collection of personal anecdotes and reflections by authors based on their individual stories.