It’s always been a push and pull when it comes to my view on ‘popularity’ and every time I get to a place, I would always get drawn back down by my own fear. I have never liked being number one or being on top, since it’s too lonely out there. However, even in the second place, sometimes I would always sub consciously question myself about those around me.
Like a lot of us, human beings, I have always been attracted to attention. I love it when people give me attention. And for some reason, I do a pretty good job when it comes to attracting others for attention. My friends would call me the people’s person and they always say I would do well in PR roles, if it comes to work. However, although I agree on some of the stuffs they say, I do have my limitations and I guess I can never fake or undo the way I feel towards ‘popularity’ or ‘attention seeking’.
It started from a scar back when I was 20. My grand-dad was a pretty well respected diplomat in Myanmar and he was so well respected that he could seek help or ask for favors from anyone outside the country. Studying in Singapore back then and being away from home for the first time, it was a crossover moment in my life from a spoilt brat to an independent young man. So, it always takes a lot of effort. Along the way, something happened that would always leave a scar in me.
Some staffs from the Burmese Embassy in Singapore was helping me move from one unit to another. They insisted on carrying the stuffs and as they were resting, I was going to hand them some glasses of water when I caught them saying something about me. Something I should have never heard. One of them said to the other, “If it was not for his grand-dad, I would never helped this kid out with the move. He’s such a spoilt brat.” I do not really know how to make translate what he said to something that is absurdly offensive but what he said really hurt me and it changed the way I look at things.
Call me naive but when someone says good stuffs about me, I tend to believe it. A part of me wants to believe it and a part of me is just so dumb or naive. No matter how experienced I have become in life, the conversation between these two gentlemen has always haunt me about how popularity or what others see of you are not always what they seem.
I got lucky I guess. During uni years, I gained popularity from the social group called revue. We product comedy skit shows. I got rejected when I first tried out for the cast role during my first year of uni. Two years later, I became a cast member, then a director. With each achievement I have gained, it became too easy to make friends in uni and it became a little bit too easy to get attention out of these people.
When I finally left Australia to go back to my country, with hopes of coming back yet unsure of whether I would or not, after two years, I have become a thing of the past to my friends in Sydney. They have moved on. On the other hand, I have become involved in larger things in life in Myanmar. I got my own radio show and I have become one of the top billed MC for a lot of bilingual events in Myanmar. With these achievements, I have gained popularity once again without asking for it.
Then, I got called back to Sydney with a permanent residency. I could not let that opportunity go but after giving up on what I had in Myanmar and coming back to Sydney after five years, it was difficult. The uni crowd has dispersed. I am a nobody. Worse than that, I was no longer in a community. No longer in a society club. Nor a uni. I was just all over the place with different people I see each and every day. The popularity I used to get before has dropped dramatically.
To be honest, it does not bother me since I feel like I have a much better life with good friends around me now. However, whenever I think about my past and the popularity back then, I would always cringe with shame. I somehow feel that I am not capable of achieving big things in life. I feel like I am a ‘has been’ and the last thing a ‘has been’ want to do is reliving the past and feeling good about it. Those times were over. I will always treasure it but I’m no longer that Hein anymore.
Meanwhile, in the present, this little getaway with my friends this weekend consists of different generations of Revue. As my friends and I were having dinner, one of them came to me. He was a cast member in the show I directed. Two years after I left the country, he directed his own show. He sat near me and as he was talking about the past, I could not stop smiling to myself of the good times we had.
Then, he got a bit serious and said “If it was not for you and (the other two co-directors I worked with), I would have never joined revue”. “If it was not for you, I would not have met these awesome friends.” “If it was not for you, I would not have become a director” Call me a wuss but I could not stop holding my tears back. I did not end up crying but hearing this type of appreciation made me so grateful about having done what I had done.
In life, I do please a lot of people and sometimes I feel like I was brought into this life to please others. I make people happy but it has always been a one way deal and through experience, I had stopped expecting anything back and kept on giving. This time around, I am getting back an appreciation from a past cast member, who has flourished into a director on his own. I felt so assured about my self-esteem. It was a different kind of happiness I felt.
Popularity has always been measured upon quantity but never on the depth of each unit in this entity. Upon getting a confirmation of a depth from one unit feels so much better than ten times the quantity one would try to achieve.