I realise that it is very difficult for me to talk about my life, my identity, my background, on an essay (*cough* college) of which the sole purpose is to compare the life that I would very much to like to fabricate (though I am rather dubious of how well I would pull it off), to the lives of my peers who came from more obscure parts of the world, who have had more unique experiences, more arduous or fascinating backgrounds, more exceptional talents, more eloquent arguments, more captivating opinions, more of this, more of that… It is difficult for me to keep typing, as I sit on my bed, cross-legged, in sweatpants which I purchased from some flea market, and an overworn ‘I [heart] HK’ T-shirt that I wear only as pyjamas to prevent being ridiculed for ‘superficial patriotism’. It is difficult as I look over to my two roommates’ sides of the room, both hailing from conflict zones, both who went through troublesome processes just to get a US visa, while I waltzed through immigration with my Canadian citizenship. As we prepare for college, I am repeatedly reminded of how average my existence has been. The college counselor makes us do this exercise where we list everything we know about ourselves, and it starts off fine: Hong Kong-nese, middle-class, nuclear family, privileged, healthy, average student with average grades, who had an average number of extra-curriculars (but otherwise did not bother to join other clubs) had an average (if not small) number of friends, played two musical instruments like the average Asian kid, went to pleasantly average schools that my educated and well-off, but not rich, parents could afford, did some hours of community service like the average high-school student, average this, average that. Yes, I am sure colleges would be very interested in me. And like the average teenager, I lace everything with sarcasm.
I imagine whoever’s reading this article right now would be thinking, “Ugh, this kid sure is self-deprecating. This world is full of attention seekers.” Perhaps. But really, I am just using my life as an example. Say, in reality, I am ranting about how ridiculous the process of applying to colleges is, or how the existence of an ‘average’ person is overlooked, (invisible is the word I am looking for), compared to underrepresented or the fabulous, or how frustrating it can be sometimes to be labeled as ‘average’ and then be ignored, or to be labeled as an anomaly, and be despised. I wonder whether people realise how lonely it can get. Do I make an effort to be average and invisible? Perhaps, yes. Well, not really, no. I am a hypocrite. I want to be cooler, less awkward, more fabulous, more outgoing, and maybe throw in some fake, tragic background that one reads about in the novels, but without experiencing the tragedy because I do not like pain. Actually, fantasising about secret, tragic backgrounds is disgusting. People who are suffering through painful and difficult things must be repulsed at the idea of fetishising over a tragic hero. I suppose being privileged, but not-cool, socially awkward, reclusive, and distant is just how it is. I cannot strike up a fake smile because fake people scare me, and that would mean I would fear myself. Forced conversations take up so much energy. I cannot shut up when conversing feels genuine and natural, but forced conversations never go well. “Hi. How are you…” and silence. It takes a moment to realise nobody is paying attention, but the embarrassment stays for the next half hour. Then I pity myself for being so quiet, and invisible, and a hermit. And then I realise that compared to other people, nothing really bad has ever happened to me, and I am just average after all, and my self-pity and complaints about life do not really have much substance because I am far more privileged than half the world’s population, and I really should quit feeling so self-important, as though my feelings are actually significant to the next person, as though you are supposed to be reading them now, though you can really just close this tab and do something else. And then I just feel average.
Now average sounds like profanity to my ears.