The Goddess Speaks
Conforming to society is waste of time
When I was 18, I saw "The Matrix." It couldn't have come at a better time. Leaving an all-girls school, a quiet bedroom and a small circle of friends, I began to wake from my teenage life. I woke up and found myself slowly turning into an adult.
At the dentist one day, I was faced with receiving a root canal or taking out a tooth. I groaned and said, "I don't have much of a choice, do I?" The receptionist looked at me as if I had just drawn on the office walls. "You always have a choice," she said firmly.
I hadn't thought so until then. My mother had made the appointments. My mother had driven me to the dentist. My mother signed the checks for each bill. But I slowly realized I did have a choice; seemingly impossible though it was, it was still a choice.
Throughout college I learned to become an adult. I learned to drive, I learned how to make my own appointments, I learned how to sign my own checks. But did I learn how to choose?
I began dating my first and only boyfriend at age 23. Yet another brick had come sailing through the glass to smack me in the head. I was ranting and raving at him on the phone, screaming my frustrations about not being a good adult.
I had grown up reading "Cathy" comic strips and had formed my own ideal person. I saw Cathy feeling left out as she is surrounded at parties by elite, snobbish people who grow their own food and critique artists she never heard of. The ideal adult to me was someone smart, independent and easygoing.
But then my ideals turned to things like, "I'm a good adult if I read the newspaper every day from cover to cover. I'm a good adult if I recycle, if I donate to charity, if I have a really good job, if I have prestigious degrees. I'm a good girl if I wear makeup and style my hair and work out and eat rabbit food. I'm a good Asian if I can speak Japanese and eat raw fish with chopsticks." My boyfriend, now my fiance, said quietly that I didn't have to do any of those things.
So what did I have to do to be a good person? A good Asian? A good girl? Not a damn thing. Who said I had to be a good person? Who said there's even such a thing as a "good person"? I am now 27 and still learning to choose what to do with my life. I've never forgotten the image from "The Matrix" of Neo sitting in the car, staring out the window at the quiet city and the people working and living outside. Like him, I no longer belong to that world. I don't belong to the world of children.
Just one more "Matrix" reference. Remember the child who said, "Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead, try to realize the truth. There is no spoon." Do not try to be a perfect person. There is no perfect person. But there is choice.
Kristen Wong is a receptionist at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and a native of Kaneohe.
The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and about women. If you have something to say, write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210,
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