Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode you will hear about a moment of adversity called Waiting, moments of encounters called Gotta Dump, and a moment of a perspective called Inside and Outside.
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Hello and welcome to Episode #11 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. These are real life stories that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Waiting, Gotta Dump, and Inside and Outside.
A Moment of Adversity called: Waiting
Waiting for someone may be a trivial matter that happens all the time, but what can go through your mind while waiting for someone could be torture. You could wonder what happened. Did the other person forget? Was the other person in an accident? Could an emergency have come up? Perhaps the other person got the time or date wrong. Not knowing could create so many ideas in a person's mind, which are usually not positive.
Aside from wondering what happened with the late person, the longer you wait, the more intense your emotions may get. At first, you may be a little annoyed, then irritated. Later, you may get angry and even outraged. In your mind, you may start to yell at the other person, charge them for being irresponsible, inconsiderate, and disrespectful of your time. You may even wonder why you should associate or relate with the person who has kept you waiting.
Many years ago, my younger sister, Nessa, and I planned to go shopping downtown. We discussed it the night before and agreed to meet outside the subway station. It was at the green line at Park Station in Boston. I got there about 10 minutes early as I am usually early for an appointment. I stood outside the station. It was a sunny day. There were potted plants nearby but nowhere to sit down. I stood there a bit and walked around a bit. I never strayed away from the entrance of the station. I waited 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and she still didn't show up. I was a little annoyed.
I thought we just talked about it the day before so that she couldn't have forgotten. Maybe she missed a train. I waited some more. Another 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and she would be an hour late by now. Where could she be? Before our meeting, she had nothing else to do, so why was she late? We didn't have cell phones those days, so all I could do was wait and think she just couldn't have forgotten. She had to be on her way. I continued to wait and wait. Now I was starting to fume. I was getting angrier and angrier by the minute. How could she do this to me? Thinking that she knew I had been waiting for over an hour, she had to be making her way here even if she was late.
I waited a total of two hours, and she never showed up. I vowed that I would never wait for another person for that long from that day on. I will wait 10 minutes, and if someone doesn't show up, I will leave. That way, I wouldn't get so angry. That way, I would not waste my time, and I would not get so mad at someone for being late or not showing up.
When I went home, I saw my sister, and she had no explanation for why she didn't show up. She didn't even say sorry that I was waiting for two hours. She just laughed it off. It didn't seem to matter to her. It looked like I was the one with the problem. I was the one who demanded someone to show up to an agreed-upon meet-up. I was the one who expected people to show up on time to things, so I was the one with a problem about it all.
Using my rational mind as I usually do, I didn't think my expectations were unreasonable. Further, I would not do that to other people. When I meet up with people, I am early or on time. Why can't other people do the same? When I'd share this, other people would say that I didn't need to get so angry about it. Still, late people continued to anger me. And to control my anger, as I said, I would never wait for someone for two hours like I did my sister, whom I was sure would show up.
Fast forward three decades later, my boyfriend, Devin, picks me up to go out. He said he needed to stop by someone's office to talk and for me to stay in the car to wait since it would be a short while. He was a person who was habitually late. It sounds like he was the wrong person for me. Anyway, to stop me from getting angry, I'd carry a notebook or a book to read or write if I had to wait for someone. I prepared. I sat in the car reading. Half an hour had passed by, and it didn't seem that long since I was busy reading. Before you knew it, it was an hour. I was starting to be annoyed. By the time it was nearly two hours, I was fuming. I was clenching my fist; I let out a scream, I called him names. How inconsiderate was he to keep me sitting in the car waiting for him and let me wait that long!
Then I remembered waiting two hours for my younger sister decades ago. I remembered the promise to myself. By this time, I had a cell phone. I called for a taxi. I got out of the car to leave the parking lot. As I was doing this, my boyfriend came out from an office building. He said, "Where are you going?" I said, "I called a taxi; I am going home." I proceeded to walk away. He drove by me and told me to get in the car. I refused; I was so angry I wanted to punch the daylights out of him. During all this anger, I realized something. A lightbulb went off.
I finally understood the reason behind all the anger. While I was full of rage with my head boiling over (I'm not exaggerating), I realized that when people didn't show up or were late, I was reacting like a child, a five-year-old child. At age five, Mom abandoned me by leaving me with relatives and having no intentions of picking me back up to raise. Each person that was late for me was a jab of the pain of abandonment.
Though the incident infuriated me, I had the epiphany of the excruciating pain of abandonment. Though I would still run into people who would be late, I might get a bit annoyed but would no longer get furious. When people are late, whatever their reasons are, I now know it is not a personal attack or a stance to abandon me. And so, the reaction is just a mere annoyance.
Moments of Encounters called: Gotta Dump
I had a boyfriend I loved but thought he was not good, so I tried to dump him. But for ten years, he kept coming back, and I kept trying to leave him. And eventually, I finally got rid of him.
I had another boyfriend and didn't particularly like him, so I tried to dump him. Nine months later, he returned and said he still wanted to marry me. I wasn't interested and left him.
I had yet another boyfriend and didn't particularly like him, so I tried to dump him. He kept coming back and didn't seem to get the message. Eventually, I ended up marrying him, and in the end, I divorced him. I made a big dump. Are you noticing a pattern?
Then came another long relationship. I thought we got along very well; we were most compatible. I loved him a lot. This one was very complicated and different. And then he dumped me by cheating on me and impregnating another woman.
With this relationship, with this dump, I realized this was the first time I got dumped. I also realized I had a habit of leaving guys. I thought it was because they were not suitable for me, and they weren't, but there was a deeper reason. It took so many years to realize it! Caution, whatever things happened to you as a child can affect the rest of your life if you don't know it and put a stop to it!
Mom sent me away when I was five years old. That one event has impacted all my relationships in one way or another. Because I felt "dumped," unwanted, and unloved, the five-year-old me unconsciously vowed never to get dumped again. So, during every relationship, I would unconsciously find a way to leave the other person. I'd find a reason to abandon them even if things were going well. Even with gal pals or relatives, I'd find something wrong with them to dump them or at least dump them in my mind. It seems like I just had the habit; I couldn't kick it even after realizing the pattern.
Now, talk about the boyfriend who dumped me devastated me. I asked myself, why was I so devastated? Did I love him that much? Was I reeling from the shock of getting dumped and finally knowing what it's like to get dumped? I looked to the spirits in the sky and said, "You wanted to teach me a lesson, huh? You wanted me to know what it is like to be dumped, huh? You wanted me to realize what I have done to all my past relationships, huh? I finally realized that I probably hurt quite a few people when I dumped them in the past. I'm sorry. Yes, I finally know the pain of getting dumped. And I'll think twice the next time I feel tempted to leave someone again.
Recently, I felt someone trying to dump me or our friendship. That, someone, did text me last, and I chose not to reply. I guess I still needed to have the last word; old habits are hard to die. But I did think long and hard if I wanted to continue with the relationship or not. It takes two to have a relationship, so let it be if one doesn't want it. No need to think dump or don't dump! Let it be.
Another lesson, perhaps a big lesson I recently learned in this dumping business. I met a new friend while on vacation, and after the trip, I decided, in my mind, that I would disconnect with her because she pissed me off. Little things like grabbing three dumplings in the soup when there were only four for us to share irked me. Taking too many pictures instead of stopping to enjoy the views irked me, and drinking until she got drunk annoyed me. This one would seem easy to end as we lived in different countries. It sounds like it was so easy for me to dump people because I had a habit of doing it. It was.
But after our trip, she'd call me every so often, and we'd have friendly chats. I realized that I would often write people off when they did something I didn't like. The result is that I end up not having too many friends. Worse, I am not perfect, yet I expect other people to be perfect or do everything I like. That is unreasonable. I also realized perfection in life is precisely in all imperfections! Different relationships satisfy different parts of us. None can meet all our needs. They do not need to, nor should they. I remind myself of my shortcomings and remember to accept others without judgment. With appreciation of the beauty in imperfections, we can all have more people in our lives and enjoy more happiness. I shall remember to stop dumping people and begin collecting more people into my life!
A Moment of a Perspective: Inside and Outside
We have an inside and an outside. Are we two beings rolled into one? Why is my interior not precisely like my exterior? That is the question I ponder to know why we are such complex beings. People misunderstand or misinterpret who I am because my insides don't exactly match my outside. I think the real me exists inside, and I cannot explain the outside of me. Perhaps what shows up are behaviors that show defense mechanisms at play. To protect me from being taken advantage of or harmed, I look a certain way on the outside.
My exterior does not look as good as my insides. I don't know why. People have to see the less appealing part of me on the outside. The beautiful me is on the inside. More people should know that part of me, but it seems the people who see that part are people who know me better. Strangers and acquaintances do not know who I am because it is inside me. They don't get to see me.
What do they see on my outside? I suppose they see this scary unapproachable person. Now I know why; I've learned that it is my way to protect myself. It is my way of saying, nonverbally, don't mess with me. Don't you dare step on my toes or try to take advantage of me. I may be quiet, but my actions will show you I am a force you don't want to face. Even though I have learned this about myself, I can't stop myself from looking that way! I think it is an instinctive desire to not only survive but thrive in this big wide world.
I always hated my outsides because people criticized me for it. Others would always say, "Smile!" How I got so sick of it. I want to fight back and say I have nothing to smile about, so why should I smile? I will smile when I have a reason to smile. I don't need others to tell me to smile! Only recently, I have come to appreciate this exterior part of me. I no longer hate it because others in the past criticized it. I now enjoy this exterior. Or is it I am genuinely accepting my exterior as is?! Now I feel like, so what if you think I am mean looking. So what if you think I am mad. Whatever you think, I don't care.
Moreover, if I look mean, angry, and unapproachable, don't bother me. I am just okay with it. I am officially too old to care what other people think of me. If they misunderstand me, it is okay now. I am no longer that young adult dying for someone to understand me. I already have people who do. Others' opinions of me are not nearly as important as my opinion of myself because only I have to live in my body inside and outside.
Now, if you can see beyond my exterior or not be scared away from my outside appearance, you are a brave person. I am interested in knowing you because I like daring and courageous people. They can join me in my adventures like skydiving, bungy jumping, ziplining, playing in the stock market, jumping into business, hitchhiking, running off to move abroad, and things outside the box.
Should you get past my outsides, you may get a peek into my insides. You see a few of my insides when I write to express myself. When I give speeches, you also get a look at my insides. When you spend extended periods conversing with me, you get a peek at my insides. My interiors are easy to see if you are looking.
My first boyfriend asked so many questions about me; we conversed so much that he got to know all my insides. When asked to describe me in three words, he said, "You are a fighter, a fighter, a fighter." When he first said it, I did not see a compliment in there. As I matured, I later learned or understood what he meant. I fight for what I want. I set a goal, work towards it until I reach it. When I have a big challenge, I keep at it until I solve it and be victorious. When I get attacked by others who criticize me, bully me, or try to take advantage of me, I will fight back in one way or another. And it is usually in a way where you don't see it coming because it is not apparent. It is quiet revenge with a trembling force that will hit you where it hurts.
Another friend who asked an extensive amount of questions also got to know the insides of me very well. I also asked him a multitude of questions in conversation got to know him very well. So, knowing a person's insides is not hard if you take the time to communicate in detail with someone. The problem is, many people don't take the time but jump to conclusions by only looking at the exterior.
When I gave a speech at a competition, when I wrote memoir essays in a writing class and shared them aloud, those who heard me were amazed. I don't exactly call it a compliment because I think they were only astonished because they didn't see it coming. They didn't have any idea about my insides because they had already judged me from the outside. And my exterior didn't match my interior. That explains the shock.
Another part of my exterior is that I look quiet and shy. I am if you are my acquaintance. But at the same time, I have a lot to say. You can see this in my speeches and my writing. I have a voice. I have a powerful voice just waiting for you to hear it. If you look at me, you think I am quiet and shy. But looks aren't everything. If you perchance talk to me, you will discover so much more to me beyond your imagination. If you perchance read my memoir essays, you will find an incredible person inside me. It is like the saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." The cover only shows so much. Only when you look inside can you see rich details of a complex life with a lot in common with you. I feel pain and sorrow. I feel joy and laughter. Just like other human beings, I have feelings and emotions. My actual experiences may be unique, but my general experiences are like all humans.
With an inside and an outside rolled up into one, we are interesting beings all wanting the same things: Love, peace, happiness, and everything in between. How we might look to others is a matter of perspective; most valuable is how we view ourselves. That view is the one that will determine how we behave and live in the world.
Though I detest waiting, and it has infuriated me many times, I discovered it was from my pain of abandonment, and it freed me from a lot of hurt and anger.
Though I had the habit of dumping people so I would not be abandoned, I realized that it left me a lonely person, which I did not want, and have begun inviting more people into my life.
Though I realized that people often misunderstand me because my interior did not match my exterior, I am aware and can choose to bridge the gap with full self-expression.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Killing Fear: Part I, Sparkling Gold Up Ahead, and The Blast of Sunshine.
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