Recently I have realised that I do not write much about myself — myself as a physical, living being who is a part of this world. Instead, I talk about the abstract and the vague, ever-changing nature of a ‘self’. I dwell inside my own head to work out what it is that makes me who I am. While I do think about the physicality of life — the bodily pain and traumatically pivotal encounters from my childhood — they are only memories translated to me through hazy illusions of realism and distorted impressions of emotions and images. Sometimes these memories move, but only as glitches of corrupted film reels. More often, my memories are stagnant sun-faded polaroids.

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I used to be a quitter. A loser who would readily go down without a fight. I remember a time where an unconscious slight would make me burst into tears. Even as I grew up, I stayed that way. Every fight and tension that involved me during my younger years would end up with me losing and crying.

At fifteen years old, my schoolmates called me Crybaby. Bullies would make fun of me for this trait that I couldn’t seem to shake off no matter how hard I tried.

It’s still the same now.

Only, I no longer berate myself for being sensitive, no longer apologise needlessly when something isn’t my fault, no longer quietly accept the decision others make of my worth. Or I at least try not to.

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This was the time I studied under a bigoted professor, withstood harassment, stood up to racial slurs, received unjustified grades, re-entered myself into a mental hospital and came to a conclusion that it is always easier to be brave for other people.

(I hasten to add that this happened a year or two ago; I only write about it now because I am able to be objective enough to not start crying about it.)

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I am seven years old and unsightly: overflowing cheeks and burnt skin from being made to swim everyday. Dad wants me to be a boy. He makes me dress like one, act like one, eat like one and live like one. I am stout and silent from abuse, obedient yet frustrated. I participate in outdoor activities I do not care about.

This is the world I live in.

Dresses and cute things are not for me. They are wrong and I will get scolded for liking them.

“You are ugly,” Mother tells me. “You will never amount to anything.”

I want to go out and play. My mother hits me for wanting this.

She calls me a brat, a perverted girl who will one day grow up to be a whore. She kicks me in the ribs and stomps on my back when I tell her I cannot find my Nintendo.

My dad hits me on my thigh. He just got home from work. He enters the bathroom where I am and hit me after I said something that made him angry. Hot tears fall down my cheeks, and I feel pathetic and dirty. I sit on the toilet half naked.

It is morning and the house maid is braiding my hair. I am clean and content and fat. I am eating a packet of Oreos. Some of the crumbs get on my shirt. I try to wipe them off but my fingers are dirty.

The black crumbs get smudged on the cotton.

My mother catches me. She stalks towards me and screams, “You fucking pig. You filthy dirty brat. What are you doing?”

I meet her eyes. My mother snatches the packet of Oreos out of my hand and slaps me hard across the face. She hits me again on my arm, and again on my thigh. She drags me out of the chair and throws me onto the floor. She brings out a long wooden ruler and sits down on the sofa in front of me.

“Get up, you wretch,” she says and prods me with the ruler.

I get up.

“Strip,” she says.

I cry and take off my clothes. I am standing in front of the house. The door is open and the neighbours are watching.

“Why did you wipe the crumbs on your shirt?” she says.

“It was dirty so I tried to clean it,” I say.

“You brat! Of course it’s dirty. You wiped your filthy hands on it! I am not giving you clothes again. I will make you stay naked, you fat fuck.”

I sob. I am fat and ugly and naked. I want to die.

“I was wiping my shirt because it was dirty,” I cry.

My mother smacks the ruler on the tiles, and I jump at the sound. My skin crawls.

“Why did you wipe it on your shirt?” she says.

I fumble for words and choke. My mother isn’t listening. No matter how many times I try to explain, she doesn’t want to hear the truth. I cry harder and louder because I cannot reason with someone whose only goal is to humiliate her own daughter. I am ugly and hated. I am standing in front of the house naked, and my mother makes sure I know that I am disgusting.

I am seven years old, and I want to die.

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President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.

The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion.

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I never really expected to find myself giving advice to people graduating from an establishment of higher education.  I never graduated from any such establishment. I never even started at one. I escaped from school as soon as I could, when the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I’d become the writer I wanted to be was stifling.

I got out into the world, I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn’t, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.

Which has left me with a healthy respect and fondness for higher education that those of my friends and family, who attended Universities, were cured of long ago.

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Here I was, once again, looking into MBTI and coming across an interesting thread on the internet. What is new?

It is pretty amusing that the users were trying to describe each type with only one word. I applaud their brevity and of course they’ve got to be doing this on an INTJ forum. Conciseness and INTJ do walk hand-in-hand after all.

I am an INFx so I wouldn’t know anything about that. Or, I try to but my indulgence with proses seem to get in the way. Maybe I could ask an INTJ to mentor me to be as profound as they are. I have just got to find one who won’t emotionally wound me too much.

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Boo Jiyoo
The only lookable picture of myself from Jeju

Being stuck in South Korea and having your flight cancelled was the worst thing that could happen to a socially anxious college kid who wished more than anything that she was at home reading century-old novels for the heck of it.

I am not sure how I survived. But I did, and this is a late revelation but isn’t it amazing how we think we can’t do something until after we did it, then realise we can actually do it? Not saying that surviving a cancelled flight is a big accomplishment or anything, but I managed to do that without even being unnecessarily grumpy.

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Most of the time I feel like there is something inherently wrong with me. I give in to self-doubt and anxiety and the nausea of the very thought of life. It is not that life is specially hard, it’s just the idea of it, the tasks expected from you and the way you are supposed to behave and the very notion of existing. Existence pains me. I am not even depressed anymore, at least not clinically. I do not wish to ever return to that state after having endured it for half a decade. It’s just that I am always completely lost. I have forgotten how to live like a competent human being, or at least society’s notion of competency. I keep looking for ways to modify my own head to fly by each day unscathed and productive. I do a lot of thinking about things, of never knowing when the chaos will end or if I would ever be able to grasp the notion of life on earth at all. I do not feel human. I am afraid of myself. I am afraid of my own thoughts.

Knowledge is such a dangerous thing. The more I seem to know about the world, the more I try to understand its people, the more dangerous I become.

I am both weary and wary.

I am afraid of myself.

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Hello, my name is Boo, and I plan to save humanity from itself.

During the twenty years of my life, I suffered from four different mental illnesses, was handed from doctors to doctors. My life was littered with hospitals, stalkers, physical assaults, more hospitals, media play, and a couple of suicide attempts.

I used to dance and sing, having been misled to believe that to succeed in life, I’d have to beat my way into the limelight. “You’re a fast learner but you are lagging behind!” they said. “Pathetic. Focus.” That was what life was like for years. And school was (“You psycho!”) just as great…

Reality’s more tragic a story than any greek mythology, and I wish I had known that, that somebody had told me something, but instead what did I get? Disney cartoons and fairy tales with princes in shining armours.

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