Depth of Popularity

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.

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UNSW Med Revue back in 2009

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.

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the make up mirror before the show with messages from friends back in 2009

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.

Spin Of Change

jan19

Upon talking with my friend about the younger generation, I’ve learnt something today. The whole thing started when she mentioned something about how the younger generations are getting lazier. She has always voiced about how the young generation kids have lost their self-esteem and become a bit more negative. I do agree with her. But then again, I also think that it’s not us who are changing.

First of all, I do believe that people have not become lazier but we have just been exposed to the rise of technology. Take Netflix TV series these days for example. Most of them does not really have more than ten episodes while back in my younger days, there used to be 22 episodes for one season of Desperate Housewives. People these days have lost their attention span and they have become more ADHD than usual. But as I have mentioned, it’s not the young people’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault. We are just exposed to more options.

I used to remember my elders telling me how back in their days they never had mobile phones. They would have to make an effort to run to their phones on some house furniture the phone was placed on, whereas I could be lying on my bed with the handphone next to me. I could say the same thing for kids these days. Why do kids these days spend too much time on the phone? Why do they take pics? It’s because these source of communication or that media platform they deal with have evolved. With such evolution, people have started to evolve as well.

Not to disrespect my friend because I know she has all the best intentions in the world, I do, however, not want to end up like my grandparents or my elders. We, as human beings, are not that good with changes. To make things worse, once we stopped paying attention to the changes around us, we tend to get side tracked with the things we are comfortable with. I do not want to sound like my grandparents. I do not want to blame the kids these days. I do not want to have to tell them how they are doing things wrong. I, in my most honest humble opinion, want to accept the change and encourage them.

As Whitney once sang, “I believe that children are our future”, there is nothing for me to do but just to watch how things will lead. Is this generation becoming more fucked up than ever? Who am I to judge? For all I know, the elders used to think how people our age have become spoilt. In our heads, we never got why the elders put so much pressure on us.

“You don’t read newspapers anymore.” “You don’t read” “You don’t play in the playground” “You don’t spend quality time” Well, we all have social media with more news than before. We read our phones all the time. We do go to gym that leads to narcissism and even so, we have even started to appreciate activities as something we make an effort to do. And yes, we all do spend quality time but it’s just that whatever we have done is the past is not the same with what we have now.

Change has come and as a 35 years old person who’s going on 36 this year, I have finally decided to accept the change. I might not be able to adapt to these changes but I just cannot find anything bad to say about it, nor need to change anything about it. Life is a cycle and things just spin its natural course. What matters most to me now is to just live the present with as much happiness as I can find.

Despite so much hate on social media or just negativity that is going around these days, I am sure that we are all adapting ourselves so much that we all still can live happily. It’s just important not to forget to live. In the end, that’s what the elders want us to do, isn’t it?