I read the myth of the gifted child today and I thought it is time I post something in honour of one of the gifts I have–a mother who refused to let me waste time doing nothing when I was young.
Although many times I resent the upbringing I had–the pressure and expectations and the ingrained perfectionism, which come to think of it probably had to do with my own nature as well since my siblings are not as driven–I am still immensely grateful to my mum for investing her life in nurturing my talents.
To mum, thank you for:
1. Teaching me to play the piano and making me learn the violin, so I could appreciate the beauty of music.
2. For ‘forcing’ me to learn to play by ear.
3. Allowing me to learn ballet when I pestered you (after seeing 2 kindergarten classmates dressed in pretty tutus =D ), for sitting in my ballet classes and taking down the exercises and practicising with me initially so I could catch up with the others who started class a few months earlier. After I began dancing, you insisted that I learnt to choreograph my own dances, told me how I needed to improve…you cared about what I was doing. As I matured I discovered that although I could never hope to develop the greatest technique, I had a gift of conveying powerful emotions through dance. Although I have screwed up my future in dance big time through binge eating and by watching opportunities go by, at least I still have what I have!
4. For staying up till 3a.m. countless nights writing my story-telling scripts and syarahans to perfection, listening to newscasters on the radio and teaching me the correct intonasi, and training me to gesture and speak properly until I did the best I could. All the competitions I won, your excellent effort probably won 50%.
5. Making and sometimes sewing the various dance or story telling costumes I needed.
6. Doing the piano arrangements and minus-one tracks for my singing competitions.
7. Giving me bina ayat and essay writing exercises before those Language Week competitions.
Thank you for honing my talents, mum. All too often, I fail to appreciate you because I see you using my performance as one of the ways your measure your own performance. And although I sometimes envy the happy-go-lucky lives of many friends that I find so hard to adopt for myself, I guess I treasure what you’ve sealed in me: a spirit of excellence.
Sometimes I slam a million doors in its face, fearing the amount of work it will compell me to do; and I run a thousand miles away to escape stress and rejection and inevitable failures that come with pursuing greatness. But occasionally a window opens, allowing me to steal precious glances into the tender parts of my soul…
…and I see a raw heart beating…with fearless desire and courageous dreams…compassion for the hurting and empathy for the estranged.
But oh, how often is this heart hidden behind a pretense of indifference to prevent being put down or laughed at! Stored away by a desire to blend in and be the normal kid I never got to be, and sometimes just jaded by the everyday busyness and demands of life.
Now, people just see me as the studious one, mild and perhaps boring, and for some reason, this angers me, because I don’t want to be that! And I am not content to be nice, sweet, popular, or funny either. I want people to know I have dreams and I want it to inspire them to have dreams! Not only dreams to be successful, but dreams to do something good and noble!
I mean, of course there is a balance and there is that part of me which cringes at being outstanding and just wants to have a normal happy life with financial security and a comfortable home and a good husband and pretty babies, but I’ve always wished, if not known, that there is more.
I wished I had grown up knowing that people believed in who I am or that I could chase my dreams even if I failed once or twice or three thousand times. Instead, I grew up knowing that people believed I was a super girl who could score As and win awards at the same time. I wish someone could have told me they saw me for who I was and challenged me to pursue impossible dreams for a greater cause than my own. Instead, somehow in the end I believed those were just naive, over-ambitious daydreams only spoken of by people who were out of touch with reality. Add in the bipolar factor and it reduces my credibility even more–maybe everything I want to do is just a temporal spark, an indicator that I am UNHEALTHY or HIGH. Sometimes this makes me very sad, and very angry.
So I have learnt to be afraid and very protective of my dreams, because my dreams are fragile, and I know too well how easily dreams are destroyed, especially when cynics come close enough.
Sometimes I really wonder what went wrong. And sorry I got carried away from what was supposed to be a grateful post to my mum. : )