Let’s go back to something that happened when I first came to America, right before I started second grade (I didn’t go to first grade because of my birthday date). I remember vividly sitting in the passenger seat, while my mom was driving us somewhere, and the talk she had with me. She said something along the lines of, “You need to reign in your always funny demeanor and be serious sometimes, especially at school because first impressions are everything and you don’t want your teachers thinking you’re stupid.”
As I am writing this now, I feel immense disgust almost for the words she uttered at that moment to a young, vulnerable and very impressionable little girl. I remember back then feeling extremely hurt by this and vowing to myself that if she wants me to be serious all the time, then that’s what she is going to get. It’s important to point out that for the first 7 years of my life I found it very easy to find joy and humor in just about everything. My days consisted of crazy laughter, nonstop talking and just everything you can possibly think of that has to do with truly enjoying life. Of course, I probably either inherited or picked it up from my dad, who was the same way. It also took me aback for the simple fact that I never thought it bothered her in any way and she never mentioned anything about it ever before.
I think in that instant, my demeanor flipped and I went from a happy-go-lucky kid to an always serious, attitude-prone and at times moody mini adult. The best way I can even describe it is that a dark cloud had been put over my whole existence in that one single moment. Whereas I had no problem enjoying life before, now I found myself feeling melancholy even at the happiest of times. A friend of mine once mentioned to me that I have sadness in my eyes, even when I smile and now that I think about it, it probably started around that time.
It really makes it clear just how big impressions can be when we are small and malleable and totally clueless about life or anything that has to do with living it independently. What was even more messed up about the whole situation was that, as I became serious permanently, my mom and stepdad (at the time) made almost daily comments about how pouty or sad I looked. To this day I still have problems controlling my facial expressions because the heaviness and instinct to remain serious are still there.
Always being serious also took a lot out of me because it became difficult to find the humor in the funniest things and when someone joked with me, my only reaction would be to shut it down, there and then. It might even be the onset towards my depression, which I didn’t get diagnosed with until much later in life but that could have easily stemmed from this instance. Oftentimes, me not being able to have light and funny conversations would then give off the impression that I was a stuck up bitch, which was probably why I had such a hard time in high school and am oftentimes told that I can be “unapproachable” but only initially because I am a very warm person once you get to know me a little bit.
So, my mom spent a good portion of my life trying to deal with my negative attitude, even though she was the one who put it there in the first place. This is further example that I was never really allowed to just be myself, regardless of what that meant, as long as I wasn’t hurting anybody of course (and I wasn’t). It’s like my mom had this picture of what her only child would look and act like and she started grooming me towards it at a very young age, even if the tactics were a bit intense.
Thankfully, I have found my soulmate and fiancé, Mike, who is the perfect balance to all my seriousness. He is funny, easy going and we spend our days laughing and joking with one another. Since my communications with my mom are usually serious in nature, it’s a breath of fresh air not to have to be so rigid and tense all the time.