Do you really love me?

Recently, I’ve been swamped with school, and most dreadfully, college apps (to explain for my lack of blogging recently). As the issue of college  gets nearer and nearer to me, an inevitable conflict has risen up as my parents get involved in the college process. The problem is this: I want to pursue journalism and politics and something of that sort as my major; whereas my parents disagree.

Now, they don’t straight up disagree with me. They did, but now, they just say, “You know, Titus, it’s unfair to force you to do something you don’t want to, especially since you worked so hard. So we’ll support you.” Yet, it’s obvious they reluctantly did so. And reluctant support is not support at all.

I recently found out that if I had wanted to go to any top journalism university, it was very likely that my family would have to pay around 40k to 50k. My parents said that was too much. Yet, I found out to my dismay that had I been pursuing the typical STEM that everybody at my school was chasing, my dad would have willingly hopped onto the board and invest his 50k into my education. The reason? Because journalism doesn’t pay much to be worth the 50k, my dad says.

So I wanted to ask him, is the worth of a career really dependent on the salary or on the content of your job? But it’s his goddam money, so I didn’t do much and dropped back.

I perfectly understand why he’s concerned with the salary part. If I don’t have a good enough salary, I might have to spend most of my time worrying about the next place I’m eating or sleeping at. I might have a harder time trying to make a living. He’s concerned with my future, definitely, and that’s why he wants me to pursue STEM. Many people interpret this concern as love. My parents do. But.. I don’t. So the second question I’ve always wanted to ask my parents: Do you really love me?

In class, I rewatched 500 Days of Summer, a fantastic movie by the way. It narrates in achronological order the experiences of one guy (Tom Hansen) who helplessly falls in love with a beautiful girl named Summer. So much so that he doesn’t see the fact she only sees him as a friend. And when reality hits him, he goes into super depression mode and has a change in perspective on life. My teacher brought up the theme of love and had us think about it. So I did, and I asked myself, did Tom really love Summer? I thought back to all my crushes, and I was like nah, it was just lust. But “lust” didn’t feel like the right answer for Tom– he really put so much thought and emotion into their shared experiences and he really, just really, “loved” her. It didn’t feel right to dismiss his efforts as merely lust. But yet, it wasn’t love.

Actually, now that I think about it, it was love. No, he didn’t love her. He loved himself. Tom had carved for himself the perfect image of Summer and placed it so high on a pedestal that he truly loved that image. But that image was formed by his own thoughts and ideas of what the relationship was like. None of that was from Summer. And I guess all the girls I fell for in the past weren’t those actual girls, but what I thought was the perfect girl and how she was the most cute and charming. Both Tom and I loved our own ideas, not the girl.

And so it’s the same here. I remember overhearing my dad say, from middle school to now he has been doing all the right things, getting good grades, good scores, good extracurricular activities, yada, yada, yada and all that bs. And now, says my dad, he takes the last wrong step and decides to pursue journalism. Now, when in the world did he have the supreme authority to decide what I did was right or wrong? I aimed for good grades and good extracurricular activities for myself, not for what my dad thought was right. I now aim to be a journalist for myself, not for him. And I realize that in the end, I was just an attempt for him to make his own ideas of a perfect son come true. He never loved me; he loved his own ideas of what his perfect son should be.

And I realize I’ m probably not the only parent-child pair in this situation; I can imagine many of my peers at my school being forced to pursue STEM are like this. But I will never buckle down to what my parents think is right for me. If a parent loved his or her child truly, he or she would freely support the child to follow what he wants of himself.

And now I ask myself, do I really love my parents? And to be honest, I don’t know the answer myself.

Girls… and Me

I don’t know why, but a new sense of feeling has come over me. I feel…. kinda free. Like that guy who’s been sentenced to life in prison, then suddenly, he’s found innocent, and he’s free to go. Like taking that first step outside the cell room after all your life you’ve only seen four white walls… and then you breathe the fresh air, and you’re like, “God, it doesn’t smell like shit anymore.” Or perhaps the best way to describe it as if you’re being born, and you’re seeing the light for the first time in your life. And you can start life all over again.

Now, this cell I’ve been stuck in… are my girl problems. You laugh. You say in your head, “What the hell?” You can brush it off as me being silly. I mean, please, it’s just young love, right? Yet, if you’re one of my friends I’ve confided into, you know how badly girl problems affect me. They don’t just affect me; they drive me crazy. It gets stuck in my freaking mind and it never seems to go away.

Girls. Who are they? I don’t know. Society defines them as anyone with female genitals. Biology defines them as anyone with two X-chromosomes. My friends define them as people with long hair and feminine qualities. But me? I don’t know. But I wanna go back in time, and I wanna see if I could find my definition of them. Because there’s something about girls I can’t pinpoint. Something more than just their figure or personality or style. Something…. I can’t seem to get a hold of. But I’ll go back in time… to my first girl.

My first girl. Was my first friend. Was my only friend, back in Baldwin Stocker Elementary School, when I was in first grade. I think everybody else thought I was weird, messed up, and in truth, I was kinda messed up.  But she… accepted me for who I was. She loved my weirdness, I’d say. I still remember, every recess, I would go the playground, and we’d always meet under the slides. And then we’d chase each other and play tag, slid down the slides over and over again, talk about childish bs, etc. Then one day, some of my guy classmates taunted me for having a girl friend. Called me messed up. Told me I had cooties. And I remember how she viciously defended me and scared them away. And how she asked me, with a sweet smile, “Are you ok?” But I somehow didn’t see it as love or friendship, what she did for me. I was too immersed in my own shame, too immersed in how my peers viewed me. So I cut her off. I told her sorry, but I don’t want people to think I’m friends with a girl and have cooties and all that shit, and that… we couldn’t be friends no more. And I remembered how she cried, her eyes red, the look of hurt on her face, so painful… and she ran off. Sometimes, I think maybe she could have been the one. Sometimes, I wanna go back to that moment, and say, “Jasmine, I’m sorry. I love you.”

Jasmine became Alina in 3rd grade, when I just transferred to Holly Avenue Elementary. Alina was not beautiful or hot or anything. She wasn’t Asian like me; she was Latino. She probably wouldn’t seem to be my type….but it was her giggle. Whenever I cracked a retarded joke, nobody laughed, she laughed. She was the only one who recognized me. I would always sit next to her in lunch, and we would talk and talk and talk. Then one day I confessed. It was my first confession. And I remember how she just said, “Oh.” And stopped talking to me. And the following week, I never saw her again. Maybe she moved houses, maybe there was a freak accident, I dunno. But I can’t help but think, she probably left cause of me.

From then until the tenth grade, girls became a separate dimension. Yea, I had thoughts, and would occasionally say, oh she’s attractive, or whatnot. But it’s as if I had no feelings then; all I focused on was my schoolwork. All my friends were guys, and all my guy friends only had guy friends. Probably because of this lack of girls I probably didn’t know how to deal with them later on.

Then I met her. Won’t say her name, but I’m grateful for what she did. I was struggling through depression during this time period, and just talking to her picked me back up. But I really didn’t know how to deal with all the feelings, especially since I was mentally unstable during this time. It was just a jumble of emotions going back and forth, kinda like putting shit and crap and piss all into one goddamn blender and mixing the hell out of it, and then chugging down all that disgusting liquid down your throat until you become insane. But let me tell you, she was beautiful. White as the moon. And tall. But the aura she gave was one of brightness as well. Every time she stepped in the room, it was a party. In the end, though, I buckled down and confessed, and she said no, but she still cared for me and wanted to be my friend. But I cut her off, because, well, all of this was just too much for me.

This set the pace for how I dealt with girls from here on out. I was too afraid to fall for a girl, for fear of being rejected, so every time I felt something for a girl, I would try to avoid her. Oftentimes, I would block the girl on Facebook, because just seeing the girl’s picture would drive me insane. At times, I would succeed, and erase the girl from my memory. Oftentimes, I failed, and I would end back up talking to the girl. One girl later on cut me off– first time it ever happened to me– and from then, I began to get more paranoid. I remember I didn’t cry when she cut me off– I just stared at my computer screen for the longest time in my life, thinking, nothing.

What I hated the most, though, was how all my guy friends would pressure me to just go up and get her. And when they see me in a hesitant state, they call me pussy, coward, or some other freaking shit. Why? Just why does one’s manliness depend on a girl? It’s retarded, but I lived by it. I remember how I fucking hated myself after finding out none of the girl liked me. None of the girls even considered maybe. They just said no because I was a freaking ugly worthless piece of shit. Made me feel I was crud and I could just rot in a freaking hole. And I remember that day those thoughts just came up in my mind second after second, relentless self-cussing and self-hatred thrown at myself. Like I committed seppuku, died, revived, did it again, all in a cycle. All cause of a couple of rejections.

That’s why I loved Pitbull. His music was my self-defense mechanism. A friend of mine calls me a pussy for this, but really, I don’t care. Sometimes, when I can’t get a girl, I lie to myself, saying, yea I never really had any emotions for that girl. I never stupidly pushed myself for her, thinking I could get her. All I wanted was the body. And then the music of Pitbull plays in my head, and soon I’m aiming to live the high life, party with the hot girls all day, only for my own entertainment. All lies, but it made me feel better.

But recently, just a week ago, I found out this girl didn’t like me. But, I don’t know what happened, I just didn’t feel anything. Maybe, I just got so tired of how girls pressure my mind, that it sometimes feel as if my head is carrying a bunch of large rocks. Or maybe,  I think I realized that I was approaching girls the wrong way, trying to avoid them when I fell for them. But I think it’s because I realized that something’s gotta change. That I gotta stop taking these issues so seriously, and just, go with the flow. But something made me feel refreshed. That’s why I plan on telling it all out to this one girl this coming week, and for the first time in my life, I don’t feel scared. I don’t feel hesitant. I’m ready to let it all go. And even if she says no, I’m not gonna cut her off.

I’ve said this before, and I’ve always broken it. But this time, I feel something that I know it’s for sure. It’s in my gut feeling that after this year, girls will just be girls to me. Just people, not love interests who reject me. And I feel confident that if I like a girl, I won’t be going down that messed up emotional path again. I feel that I can actually start to see a girl  I like as simply a friend.

But that feeling I’ll never forget. When that girl smiles at you, laughs, looks at you. And all you can do is smile sheepishly. I love it when her hair flows down her face, and when she starts bubbling excitedly, and when she gives a huge grin that just punctures your heart. I love it when she cries, because she’s so cute when she cries, and when she gets her baby fingers to wipe away her tears. I love the way she walks, the way her body moves, the way she speaks, the way she acts. I love it especially when she turns her attention to me, and makes me feel that I’m something.

So what is a girl? I don’t know still. Maybe I’ll find out when I’m older.

Don’t Forget The Males

“I am a strong, independent woman,” she would tell me. “Be strong, independent women,” my English teachers would constantly say. A strong, independent woman. Society promotes, applauds, and praises such an image. Don’t get me wrong—I praise it too. Yet, along the line, as a male, I feel somewhat lost—I have never heard any encouraging statement regarding males ever. Although women’s rights are major stepping stones towards gender equality, gender equality is two-way—you cannot leave men out of the equation, something society is doing often.

The main reason behind why men’s equality isn’t focused upon often is the false notion that males already have it good. We males already have the resources. We males are already naturally supported by the work environment. We males can readily adapt because the status quo favors us. We males don’t have to worry as much because things will go our way.

False. False. False. False.

The last time I remembered, my high school classroom had perhaps more girls than guys. They were learning the same things as I was and had the same teachers as I had. I don’t remember receiving special VIP treatment just because I was a male. If anything, women have more resources, because there are always those pro-feminism organizations that offer scholarships and programs to females. Where are those pro-masculinity groups? Oh wait, society calls them sexist because it’s male-only, so they can’t exist. I guess somehow female-only is not sexist at all.

Trends are as well showing how more and more women are receiving college diplomas than men. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are now 33% more likely than men to earn college degrees. As a result, there has been a correlation where women are gaining jobs and men are losing them. Two years since the recession, according to USA Today, men lost 74% of jobs while women only lost 26% of jobs. This is great news for women, and as a person who loves gender equality, I support this. However, once again, men don’t have it as good as society thinks.

Of course, women are behind in many areas, such as domestic abuse. Even in those cases, though, women get much coverage from the media, and society is actively improving the situation for women, as seen with the many anti-domestic abuse bills passed in the government. Yet, what happened to those cases where men are abused? Society often dismisses it as impossible or ridiculous, yet it is not impossible. There are as many as 10,000 cases in the United Kingdom, for instance, where men suffer the abuse. Yet, no coverage. For a man to be abused is simply not “manly” enough and deserves no special attention.

That leads into the most false notion– that we are adaptable because the status quo favors us. If anything, the male stereotype is perhaps the most rigid stereotype of all—the status quo lashes against men if they ever step outside of the stereotype. For instance, one would think that Brent Kroeger, a person who aspired to be a stay-at-home dad, is adaptable—he’s a male transitioning into female roles. One would think that a pro-gender equality society would support this—no. He has to avoid mentioning about it everyday, because of the nasty comments he receives and because “I don’t want other men to look at me like less of a man,” said Kroeger. Same goes with male nurses or male preschool teachers. While society is relentlessly promoting females to transition into male roles such as scientists and lawyers, there is a disturbing lack, if not criticism, of males moving into female roles. That is not gender equality—far from it.

Personally, I feel this rigidness. As a male, I am expected to be macho, buff, and courageous. Sometimes, though, I do get cowardly, such as when I shrink back from confessing to a girl I like. What do my male friends do? Do they support me? No. They relentlessly tease me, criticizing my lack of courage, that I wasn’t masculine enough. As University of Illinois sociology professor Barbara Risman said, “Boys make fun of other boys if they step just a little outside [the stereotype].” If girls are even called cute when they are shy, why can’t I be shy then too? As stupid as this sounds, my cowardliness or “feminine” side should be tolerated if this were a true gender-equality society.

I know many girls who dress up like boys, and there is a sense of pride in it. A boy wearing a tutu? He must be mentally flawed. It’s perfectly fine if a girl runs around crazy and dirty with a ball in her hand. A boy playing with dolls and knitting? He must be mentally flawed.

If anything, society is flawed when it comes to gender equality. Although there are still setbacks for women, there are perhaps even more setbacks for men when it comes to breaking traditional gender roles. True gender equality will require society to be equally supportive of males transitioning into female roles as it is now with females into male roles. We are far from that, but if society takes action now, it is never too late.

Detrimental Effects of College Rankings

As a high school student, I know firsthand the pervasive presence of college in a student’s life. From volunteering to grades to hobbies, college is always in mind.

However, not any college works. Students aim for the nation’s best colleges, and to find the best, they turn to ranking systems—specifically the U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings. Apparently, it doesn’t just function as a ranking system; it can dramatically influence the behavior of colleges that strive to top the rankings to garner more applicants. The results? Detrimental.

For instance, a key aspect U.S. News analyzes is the amount of money a college spends, whether on classes, teachers, or facilities. Less money spent therefore correlates to a lower ranking, encouraging colleges to spend recklessly. Indeed, benefits have arisen—many universities now contain top-notch research centers and professors. Yet, this reckless spending has not only added to the inefficiency of the college financial system but also to the already staggering tuition rate.

Another aspect is selectivity. The more selective a college is, such as requiring higher SAT scores and GPAs, the higher its ranking. What does this mean? Colleges will, once again, lavish money on ads to entice more applicants. A larger pool of applicants, however, does not result in a larger number of admissions; thus, the acceptance rate is lowered. Perhaps more drastic is due to higher standards, colleges that once catered to pools of lower standings will all now rush for the same elite 2400 SAT score students. Good for the elite, but there will be fewer options for students who aren’t, putting them at a severe disadvantage.

The aforementioned problems trace back to U.S. News’s college rankings, composed by literally, magazine editors. This calls into question: are these rankings even accurate? In many reported cases, colleges easily cheated the system, like in 2011 when employees at New York’s Iona College lied about test scores and other statistics.

Perhaps the better question is, is a ranking system necessary? Harvard University consistently outranks the University of Chicago, but is Harvard really indeed better? Surely, Harvard is superior to community colleges, but even comparing those two is inaccurate; for a student struggling with high school academics, Harvard would in fact be the worst choice. In essence, it’s all subjective.

Ultimately, the easiest way to fix the ranking’s overwhelming influence on colleges lies not in colleges but in applicants and their families. Colleges want to climb the ranks only because applicants follow the rankings. Unfortunately, many families have the incorrect notion that the only good college is a highly-ranked college. Society must rectify this notion, possibly through public campaigns or counselors; this will all allow for a more efficient system.

Caged In The School System

I remember in English class a few weeks ago, my teacher was going over the concept of the American Dream. So to start off, she asked my class: what is your American dream? The first student she picked on answered, “Uh… probably go to a good college.” Second student she picked on said, “Go to a good college, and then get a good job.” Third student—good college and good job. Fourth student—good college and good job. Fifth student—good college and good job. And so on. The whole time, I was just thinking, wow, much diversity.

Not that there’s anything wrong with pursuing a good college and career. After all, it does provide a good shot at a secure financial future. Yet, what troubles me is how, out of all the possibilities, everybody had the exact same dream, almost as if they all had the same parents. Or perhaps a better explanation, they were all under the same system—this system of school, grades, college, and education and its essentiality in life that has been propagandized to us students.

So was I. Back before high school, I wasn’t just under this system, I was into it. Give me a history textbook, and I would read the whole thing like it was a story, even the sections that the teacher skipped. Give me some math, and I would spend hours trying to figure out a method different from the textbook’s. I was even reading high school books like Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations in elementary school, although I didn’t know it that time. Overall, my parents had really stressed education in my life, and I embraced it willingly.

Only thing is, I did it for the grades. I only did it for college as my parents told me to do, because I believed that my future was dependent on college. Not just any college, but it had to be one of those top-notch colleges or I would become homeless. Ridiculous ideas like these permeated my mind, and as a result, my attitude towards a subject was highly reliant on grades. If I got the A+, I “loved” the subject. If not, not so happy about it.

By the end of middle school, however, I had found my passion for writing and the arts, which was only reinforced throughout high school. It was a time when I thoroughly enjoyed a subject, regardless of letter grade. I was also getting tired of just doing tests and homework; to me, it began to seem more and more retarded, because who takes tests in real life? By then, my thought process was much more matured, and I realized not all people who went to community colleges were failures, and that colleges don’t really determine your life. That success wasn’t really about high salary and good name colleges, but more about personality, sympathy, and work.

Most importantly, I realized that all that time I was a caged bird that didn’t even know it was caged. I had thought my cage was my haven, and I had docilely accepted the hand that fed me. But at that moment I refused my parent’s insistence to pursue a science path just because it paid more than a writing career, at that moment when I decided to screw worrying about college, it was the first time I looked out my cage—out of the society, the environment, my
parents, school which had carved for me a path to follow, which told me this was the way I had to do it. I looked out my cage, and I was freed.

Unfortunately, the majority of students is caged, and will likely refuse to admit they live in a cage. Hopefully, there are those who can be freed in the long run. Ultimately, the basic message is not to promote disobedience of parents or society or whatnot; they are definitely only doing what they think is best for you. Rather, the message is to change that “they think” into “you think,” to not let your vision be limited by anybody else, to make sure that your dream is definitely your dream, and to not be the same boring guy whose main goal in life is to go to a good college just because society demands so. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

This article was meant to target my school audience, which is a very academically orientated school. However, I believe this can apply to any high-performing school environment and to the many students around the world whose entire life is revolved around college and education.

Rant #1

Sigh.

Idk. Im tired of life.

You know, these glasses of mine. I’ve seen through them so much. My ups and downs, my anger, my pain, my everything. But they were always clean.

Now, I don’t know if im drunk or whatnot, but I see a scratch on them.  Yup, it’s not noticeable, but it’s there alright. Just like the one on my heart. I guess I can ignore it, and not care about it. But I can’t. It’s right there. Bothering me. Itching me.  I try to get rid of it with water, clothing, anything, but it still stays there. Sigh. I give up.

Sometimes, you just gotta let the scratch be a scratch. It’s like a chemical reaction. Once it’s taken place, there’s no going back. Entropy, they say.

But there is one way to solve this. Maybe if I get new glasses that have no scratch and I can throw the old ones away. Wouldn’t it be nice? Maybe then I could be at peace. Only problem is, these glasses won’t let go. They’re glued to my ears, my head, my face. Glued to my fucking existence.

Fuck.

I love that word. Well, it’s a bad word, they say. Well, all the more reason to love it. Who fucking cares if a word is bad or not? Why do I have to be in a fucking system that determines what’s right and what’s wrong, what I should do or what I shouldn’t? Just let me fuck everything over and do it my own way.

Fuck.

Maybe I am drunk right now from reading all those Gothic stories about drunk people killing black cats. I just don’t get the purpose of reading Gothics stories in English class- what kind of life lesson do they teach? Besides that all of us are evil? Please. And then all this stupid analyzing and shit. Really just turns my stomach inside out. It’s like teaching a bird what its wing is constructed of but never letting it fly.

Fuck again.

Now I remember two days ago, I was actually feeling the desire to get high on drugs. I was really stressed out, and my brain was hurting like hell. And all I could do was think about all the stress I was having. And I was stuck in that thinking. And I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if someone gave me some pot and let me get high, then I’d be forced to forget about all this stress? Then I’d be in my own dream land, and for once, have a good time?

Yea, I remembered. I felt like insane, like an animal craving for something. Drugs. Yea, I know it’s bad. But fuck. Stress is like that inner evil you see in Gothic stories, this “spirit of Perverseness,” where this inner evil is something that’s a part of you. And I remember how it really became  a part of me, this deep inside longing.

Oh fuck.

Just realized I’m kinda like Obito in Naruto. How the girl he loves dies when he was young, and then he’s like, omg my world is gone.  So he attempts to take over the world and tries to create a world where everything we want exists as an illusion. But it’s an illusion world. Kinda like drugs, don’t you think. Guess Naruto is deeper than I thought.

Sigh. Girls.

I feel  guilty kinda saying this, but there’s this girl I like. She kinda reminds me of Obito’s girl, Rin. But she’s really cheerful, deep, and thoughtful. I remember one time, we meant to do a high five, but I don’t know how, it became clasped hands. And in that moment, it was like a pause. Wow.

But fuck. All the girls I’ve liked by a law of nature won’t like me back. So I shouldn’t bother.

Apparently, this went from glasses to girls. I must be drunk. I’ll end here,  I guess.

World Cup Fever

Football is becoming popular in the U.S. No, not the classic American football where players charge at each other, but football as the rest of the world knows it– soccer. The very same sport that was once regarded by Americans as boring and dull has now became the top-streamed game in the nation, even more than the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl, and the Olympics. Simply put, quoting Don Garber, head of Major League Soccer, “The country has changed. This is a new America.”

Team USA Soccer

Yes, it is indeed much different from the America only a few months back. In a Washington News-ABC poll conducted last June, only 28% identified themselves as soccer fans. This dismal trend, though, has stretched further back, where for most of the 20th century, America was adamant about not accepting soccer into its culture. The fact that an entire 90-minute match could go on without a single goal seemed unfathomable to many Americans. America did not just refuse soccer; America ridiculed it, calling it a slow game lacking drama.

With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, all of this is changing dramatically. Thanks in part to Team USA’s unexpected captivating victory in advancing into the second round, the soccer tournament has garnered up to at least 18.2 million views from the US, the most views ever in American soccer history. As more and more Americans open up to soccer, they are beginning to realize that soccer is anything but lacking drama.

In fact, unlike any other American sport, it is full of passion. In a basketball game, when someone makes a shot, people cheer for a while, then forget about it to focus on what’s happening next, because the game is happening so fast. With soccer, the fact few goals are made per match makes every goal memorable and exciting. Every time a goal is scored, the players are shouting, hugging, and running around crazily, even if their team is still behind. The players and the audience remember how every goal was shot or blocked or saved, whereas nobody remembers a simple layup made by a little-known basketball player.

Emotions also tend to run higher in soccer than in any other sporting event, for as soccer fan and novelist Terry Pratchett once said, “The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.” Indeed, soccer is not just a sport to many people in the world; it is an essential part of culture. This truth is to such an extent that for many countries, a loss in an international soccer match is like shaming the whole nation to submission. For instance, current Team USA coach Juergen Klinsmann was once a coach for an Italian soccer team, and whenever the team lost, he couldn’t go out to a store or restaurant without being attacked by fans for weeks. Another example would be when four years ago in the last World Cup, Team Brazil was eliminated via penalty kicks, and numerous Brazilians blamed goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The only reason why Julio Cesar cried tearfully, after Brazil narrowly beat Chile via penalty kicks in this year’s World Cup, was that even after those four years, Brazil was still holding a grudge against Cesar. Nothing like this has been seen in America- even with American football, Americans forget after the game happens. Many other countries, though, still remember the soccer losses, even after four years.

Then there is the point of international competition. While basketball, hockey, and American football are mostly confined to North America, only soccer has the regular meetings between fiercely competitive national teams. It is this that fuels the passion of soccer not just in the game but outside the game as well– with the audiences. There have been reports of two opposing audiences competing with each other throughout the entire match as to which side could chant the loudest. Fans have been seen with crazy make-up, haircuts of the pictures of players, grandiose clothing and the most bizarre things just to show soccer support. Streets in many countries including the US have been crowded to an unimaginable extent just to cheer on the home soccer team. The degree of passion here is unparalleled to that of any other sport. To the many American soccer-skeptics, go try and watch a game of soccer, and you will enjoy the passion and realize that if anything, soccer is perhaps the most dramatic sport.

Many experts agree that soccer has indeed become a very popular game in the US. The question now is, is it here to stay? Already, among ages 12-24, soccer is the nation’s second most popular sport after baseball, according to a poll conducted by ESPN. If this trend continues, as it has been since the introduction of soccer to America, no doubt will soccer not just stay in America, but perhaps even thrive.

I Hate My Image

I remember when I was a little kid, I would look in the mirror and observe myself.

And I would notice how on my face there were these two ugly moles, how the way I moved seem so disgusting, how my face seemed like a monster.  How my body was not the perfect body. How I was weak and pathetic. And everyday I see my own reflection or whether I see myself in a video or picture, I would cringe. I was and still am ashamed of how I appear, act, and sound, and I would always want to hide.

But I guess this is how most adolescents are like, right? Insecure. But it wasn’t just a sense of insecurity, it was more of a sense of self-loathing. Why am I like this? Why can’t I be different?

However, this deformation was easy to ignore. Everyday I avoid looking at the mirror or being in photographs and videos unless I had to. Whenever I did Skype calls, I would always make sure my webcam was off. As long as I was not self-conscious, I could live on fine.

But ignoring yourself is a hard thing when society and those around you point it out. During school one day, one of my friends was telling me how most people see me as a nerd who just stays inside the house studying all day. And the more I heard him talk about who and who says what and what about me, the more my self-loathing became actual loathing against others. For a while I began to think this whole world was against me and had a negative view of me. And I would become sad, angry, and downtrodden at the same time.

Even worse, the more I heard how most people viewed me, the more that image became my own self-image. Even though I know that it wasn’t true, in my mind it became true. As Nazi propagandist Grobbels once said, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”

This anger, though, soon resided away as nobody mentioned it anymore for a while. And I thought to myself, hey that’s how strangers think. At least I have friends who know how I really am.

Until this past week, over Facebook I was talking to one of my friends how in this team there wasn’t really anybody I could really connect to. And she replied: “you just dont know it cuz u keep thinking like tat and stay alone and never go out.”

To hear a stranger thinking that I am a fucking nerd who stays at home alone and studies all day and never goes out is painful enough, but to hear a friend tell me that directly…. hurts twenty times more.

And when she said that, I felt like someone shot a bullet through my heart. I couldn’t even feel anger anymore; the only thing I felt was extreme pain. And I thought that she was my friend.

But no, it gets worse. Just recently today, I was hanging out with one of my closest friends from middle school, who brought one of his golf friends along. And his companion was like, “No offense, but you look like a geek.” I was about to retort back, until I noticed on a glass wall, my own reflection. The monster I had tried to avoid for a long time. And I looked at myself, and what I saw was a geek. And so I just shut up and pretended to ignore.

And then this same guy kept on making some more comments at me on how I sounded like a fob, how he was surprised I even had a TV because I didn’t seem like that type of person, and all kinds of shit. But what killed me was how my very own friend also echoed his thoughts. But  I kept on thinking, yeah, they’re right, yeah, I’m messed up. And so I suppressed all this feeling and pretended like I was having a good time and I didn’t really care.

But deep down inside, I felt myself dying.

Maybe the lesson I should get is that I’m emotionally messed up. That I overreact too much. And you know, that’s what everybody fucking says. Over and over. You are messed up. One way or another. Emotionally, physically, etc. That I’m a selfish brat who thinks I’m at the top of the world. That I need to get a life. That I’m just a book worm.

All these lies have become truths in my brain, to the extent that my truths has become lies. I don’t even know which is which now. I feel so mixed up.

But one thing I know for sure: it’s very likely that my friends don’t know me. They don’t even understand me. They think wrong things of me, that even I think wrong things of myself. That in the process, not only am I hating the image they are giving me, I in turn unintentionally hate my true self.

“I….was sexually abused. And no one helped me because no one loved me.”

I’m barely coming out of AP Exams and I still have finals coming up. But even then, I want to squeeze in one post. So here it goes.

As some of you may know, I was depressed and was sent to a mental hospital by the police. I wrote about it in one of my previous posts and talked about my experience and feelings going on that time. But the thing is, it was only MY story.

A few days before I left the mental hospital, some of the people there asked me to share their stories once I got out. But I hesitated. For a long time. Maybe because I was still dealing with myself, or maybe because I wasn’t ready. But this burden stayed down there and gnawed at me. So today, I will share one of those stories. And I’ll begin with my roommate and friend, Aidan.

Aidan. I’ve only known him for a couple of days, but even now, thinking about him brings back a sad feeling inside of me. That I will never see him again. I remember when I arrived at the hospital at night, crying, still injured from the shock of being forced to stay at a mental hospital. I remember shuffling to my hospital bed for the first time then curling under the blanket, crying. I remember my mind going through my life, trying to figure out what went wrong. And then I remember, in the middle of my extreme sadness, I heard a big HELLLLLOOOOOO. I looked up to see who it was, and the first thing I thought was, get the fuck out man, can’t u see the state I’m in. To me, he didn’t even seem depressed or anything. He seemed like any regular hyper teenager. So I simply ignored him.

However, after a day or two, we would start talking. Just me and him, in the middle of the night, laying on our beds, staring blank at the ceiling. I found out he liked comic superheroes.  He was in love with this girl back home. He even wrote a love letter and planned to send it to her as soon as he got the chance. He was like any typical adolescent. Except for his past.

He was the younger brother of his family. And like any normal functioning family, he was a constant pest to his older brother. The only  difference was that his older brother was dysfunctional. One day, he recalled to me, when his parents were away from home, he pulled a prank on his older brother. What the prank was, Aidan never told me. But his older brother was furious. Furious to the extent that he pulled out a knife and cut Aidan at the wrists. He told Aidan that if he ever told their parents, he would kill him. Aidan was a little kid back then, so he  was scared and never spoke up. But this was only just the beginning.

The next time their parents were away from home, his brother came to Aidan’s room, dragged him out, and would constantly beat him up. He would get drunk and laugh at his younger brother, and then boast about the power he had over him. Day after day, it was constantly like this, and Aidan kept quiet out of fear. Sometimes, the brother only did little, like a heavy slap in the face. Other times, he would go crazy, such as making him burn his hand up.

But at one point, the abuse went from physical to sexual. Aidan didn’ t tell me much about this, but I knew what kind of sexual abuse he had gone through. And for him, it hurt, doing stuff he never wanted to do.

One day, though, his brother got caught, was sent to jail, and was never heard from again. As for Aidan’s parents, they divorced, only adding to his struggle. He’s never seen his mom since then, “and I miss her very much,” he once whispered to me, with those crying eyes. His dad sent him to a mental hospital soon after, but then he got out and returned home, only to see a new stepmom.

“I hate her, too.” He tells how everyday she makes him clean the whole house, and how she makes a big deal out of every little spot he forgets to clean.  And when he does get it right, he receives no compliment. “My dad used to support me a bit. Now, he doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t love me. And I thought he did.” And Aidan told me how his stepbrothers never did the work and it was always him. So one day, he  rebelled. Tired of everything. And the next thing he knew, he got sent away again.

“My dad says, oh I don’t want to do this Aidan, but I have to. And my stepmom, well she appears to be sad too. But I bet inside her shes smirking at me.” For Aidan, his parents don’t love him. And in turn, he chooses to not love them back. There was one quote from him that really caught my attention, and it was this: “My house is not my home. To me, it’s simply another place I have to be in.”

So for most of my time spent there, we just laid there and talked. We occasionally would get bored and play around with socks and paper airplanes. But between me and him, we had this new bond, one that I would always remember.

And so I remember right before I left the hospital, we shook hands. And he told me, “Don’t forget to plan that reunion, ey?” And I said I will, even though I knew not of a way to contact him. He has no facebook, no email , no anything. But I promised. And I remember when I looked back as my mom picked me up, I saw a smiling face waving bye at me. A face with so much pain underneath. And I still remember his face. Every detail. I still remember. And I plan to see that face again in the future.

Because my worst fear is that I will never see him again.

My Struggle

As you probably noticed, I haven’t been blogging much. And so I am here to explain why- I have lost my motivation to blog. Really, I feel I have lost my motivation to do anything in life.

Before, I was a happy person. I learned for the fun of it. I felt smart, I felt confident, and I felt I could achieve anything in life as long as I worked hard and tried. This was the Titus that I was before.

Now, if anything, I wish I never had this happy past. You see it is sadder to see a great man fall then to see a person who has been failed all his life. That is why all tragedies have a tragic hero who experiences a reversal of fortune. And sadly, I feel I am the tragic hero of my own story.

I don’t know what specifically happened. All I know is, for one thing, I became increasingly dumber. I remember how before, I was quick to catch up on things. I learned quick and I loved it. But gradually, I have come to the state where I’m slow now. I can’t seem to think as well, and upon seeing what has happened to me, I am discouraged to think again. I feel as if my IQ decreased, and I can’t do anything to stop this downward trajectory. It’s almost as if I had a curse on my brain.

My love for learning quickly disappeared along with this. Before, I learned because I was passionate about the subjects. But one by one, this passion started disappearing. First, math. Next, science. Even literature, my love in life, I am sad to say it’s slowly dying away, too. And I’m looking at all of this, and it saddens me. It’s as if seeing a bright yellow flower with a potential to bloom suddenly go dark, petals falling off, and then shrivel up and die. Because now, I feel like I’m dragging my way through school everyday. I am only learning so I can get the grades.

Besides all this, I guess the most important thing that changed is my general emotional state. Everyday, I feel tired and sad. I try to be happy, but I just cannot. Because everything reminds me of my downfall. Of my once wonderful past, now doomed present. I wish I can still return to what I used to be, but that’s impossible. I’m stuck with this fate of failure. And I have accepted it.

So now what I live through everyday is this struggle against this fate. To deal with it. It’s hard battling against this dark cloak that seems to swallow up the sun, but nevertheless I try. I try just living through it. Just letting it take away the light from me and not making a big deal of it.

Yet, sadly, I still take it as a big deal, even though I try to let it go. I still feel that society as a whole thinks me a pathetic being who used to be great. And, sadly I am. Maybe I’m imagining things, but this is what I see.

A friend of mine later became sad himself, too, because of my depression. And it makes me depressed that I made him sad. So everyday, another part of my struggle is pretending to be happy. Pretending not to care. But it’s hard masking these feelings that are eating at my soul and heart everyday.

What makes me sadder is this girl. She’s the most beautiful thing or person or entity in this world. She’s like a god. But she’s pushed me back and sees me as a friend, and I know I have to accept that. And it makes me sad that I can never be with her, that I’m not good enough for her. Again, I’ve fallen.

And my family life. I never feel truly happy with my family. But I remember I used to.

Some people have asked me to don’t commit suicide, because I have had these thoughts before a long time ago. And of course I won’t. But I scoff at them, because I am already dead. Inside.